Chapter 36 — Sermon on the Seed or Source of the World

Vasishta continued:—

The false varieties of the world take us by surprise, like whirlpool currents that attract passing vessels, but all variety is found to be of the same nature, like the various waves of the sea. The nature of the whole world is unknowably known to us, just as the universal emptiness which rests in God is imperceptibly perceptible to our eyes. I find nothing in the fancied cities of demons in the air. This really ideal world appears to be in real existence only to the ignorant. The sight and thought of visible appearances are like the visions and memories of objects in dream. This world is only an appearance to sight and a fantasy in the mind. Phenomena and fancy have no place except in consciousness, beside which there is nothing to be had except only an unbounded emptiness. Where then is the substantiality of the world?

The error of the world consists in the knower’s knowledge of it. Ignorance (of the existence) of the world is free from this error. The knowing or ignoring of it is dependent upon you because the thinking or unthinking of a thing is entirely within your power.

The empty intellect is of the form of the transcendent sky or an extended space to which it is impossible to attribute any particular nature or quality whatsoever. The world also is of the form of the intellect, so it also has no particular character or variable property assignable to it. It is seen to exist, but having no particular feature of its own, it is not subject to any variation in its nature. All this being a representation of empty intellect, it has no substantiality whatsoever. It is the substance and not the knowledge of a thing that is subject to any change in its form. Knowledge belongs to the intellect, which is always unchangeable.

10 I see the all quiet, calm, and pure spirit of God. I am without the error of ego, or “you” and see nothing about me, just like we can never see a forest growing in the air. 11 Know that my voice is the empty air, just like my conscious thought. Know also that my words proceed from my empty consciousness, which likewise resides in empty spirit.

12 What they call the transcendent essence is the eternal and involuntary state of rest of the Divine Soul, and not what it assumes to itself of its own volition. That state of rest is like that of a slab of stone with the figures naturally marked upon it, or like pictures drawn on a plate or chart. 13 The silent sage whose mind is calm and quiet in the management of his ordinary business remains unmoved like a wooden statue without the disturbance of any desire or anxiety.

14 The living wise and detached man sees everything in his lifetime like a hollow reed, all empty within and without, having no core inside. 15 He who is not delighted with the outer world reaps the pleasure of his inner meditations. But he who is indifferent to both is said to have gone over the ocean of the world. 16 Give out words from your lungs like a sounding reed from its hollow pipe. Clear your mind from its thoughts by keeping your body detached from busy affairs. 17 Touch the tangibles as they come to you without desiring them. Remain in your solitary cell without wishing or caring or grieving.

18 You may enjoy the various flavors offered to you. Take them to your mouth with a spoon without wishing for or taking a delight in their sweet taste. 19 You may see all sights that appear before you without desiring or delighting in them. 20 You can smell sweet perfumes and flowers that fall in your way without you seeking them. Take the scents only to breathe them out, just as fragrant winds scatter flowers all around. 21 In this manner, if you enjoy the objects of sense with utter detachment, neither longing after nor indulging yourself in any, you shall have nothing to disturb your peace and content at anytime. 22 Whoever finds his taste for the poisonous pleasures of life increasing day by day casts his body and mind to be consumed in their burning flame and loses his endless bliss.

23 Lack of desire in the heart is said to be the dull unconsciousness of the soul, called samadhi by dispassionate sages. There is no other better lesson to secure peace of mind than contentment without any desire. 24 Increasing desire is as painful as living in hellfire, while reducing desires in the mind is as delightful as living in heaven. 25 The feelings of the heart and mind are only desire. Desire moves mankind to practice austerities and penances according to the scriptures. 26 Whenever a man allows his desire to rise in any manner in his heart, he scatters a handful of the seeds of affliction to sprout forth in the fair ground of his mind. 27 To the extent one’s craving is lessened by his reason, the pain of his covetous thoughts cease to harm them. 28 The more a man holds fond desires in his mind, the more they boil and rage and wave in his breast.

29 You heal the sickness of your desire by the medicine of your own efforts. I think you will never find a more powerful balm to rid this chronic disease. 30 If you are unable to check to your desires altogether, you must still try to do it by degrees, just as a traveler never fails to reach his destination even by slow paces. 31 He who does not try to diminish his desires day by day is reckoned as the meanest of men, destined to dive in misery every day.

32 Our desire is the causal seed of the crop of our misery in this world. When this seed is fried in the fire of our best reason, it will not sprout in the ground of our breast. 33 The world is the field of our desires and the harmful source of only our misery. The extinction of desires is called nirvana. Therefore never be tempted by the delusion of desire which leads to your utter destruction.

34 Of what use are scriptures’ dictates or teachers’ precepts if we fail to understand that our samadhi, our final rest, consists in the extinction of our passing desires? 35 He who finds it difficult to check the desires in his mind will find it hopeless to derive any good from his teachers’ instructions or scriptures’ teachings. 36 The poison of greed proves harmful for human life, just as forests full of hunters prove destructive to deer. 37 If one is serious about acquiring self-knowledge, he may learn to lessen his cravings and through lack of sensory perception be led to acquire his spiritual knowledge. 38 Extinction of wish is the eradication of anguish, and this is the bliss of nirvana. Therefore try to reduce your desires, and thereby to cut off your bondage. This will not be difficult for you if you only try.

39 The evils of death and old age and the weeds of continued sorrows are the produce of the secret seed of desire, which is to be burnt speedily by the fires of equanimity and detachment. 40 Wherever there is renunciation, you find liberation from bondage. Therefore always suppress your rising desires, just as you repress your fleeting breath. 41 Wherever there is craving, there is bondage in this world. All our acts of merit or demerit and all our distresses and diseases are the unchanging companions of our worldly wishes. 42 Deprived of its activity and the indifferent saint free from its bondage, desire is made to weep and wail like a man robbed. 43 To the extent a man’s desire is decreased in his heart, his prosperity increases leading him onward towards his liberation.

44 A foolish man, ignorant of himself and fostering fond desire for anything, is watering the roots of the poisonous tree of this world only to bring his death by its harmful fruits. 45 The tree of desire grows in the human heart and yields the two seeds of happiness and misery. But the latter, fanned by the breeze of sin, bursts into a flame that burns the other, together with it its possessor.