Chapter 37 — If Will Is within God, Why Lecture against Desire?

Vasishta continued:—

Rama, listen as I explain more fully what I have already told you in brief regarding the treatment of the disease of desire, which also forms an article in the practice of yoga asceticism.

Tell me if the will is anything other than the soul in which it exists? If it is nothing apart from the soul, how do you wish to attribute an agency to it other than that of the soul? Divine Consciousness, more subtle than open air, consequently is without any part and is indivisible. It is an integral whole, one with myself, yourself and the whole world itself. This Consciousness is like an infinite emptiness. It is the knower and the known, the subjective and the objective. Then what is that other which you call the will?

There is no relationship between the container and the contained, or between subject and object, or between it and ourselves. We do not know of any saintly man who knows any object of his knowledge (to exist separately). We are at a loss to determine the relationship between our own subjectivity and objectivity. It is just as impossible to determine my egoism and me as it is to see a black moon in the sky. Such is the case with all the triple conditions of knower, known, and knowing. They have no existence of their own in the nature of things. I do not know how they can exist except in the essence of the one soul.

All unrealities exist in the reality of the soul. Our individual ego, the subjective, the objective, and all other things liable to destruction become extinct by nirvana in the self-existent and everlasting soul. In nirvana there is no presence of anything, nor is there anything present that becomes extinct. The idea of the simultaneous presence and absence of a thing is as absurd as the sight of light and darkness together in the same place at the same time. 10 Neither can abide together on account of the repugnance of their nature, nor can both be extinct at the same time because we see the presence of the one and the absence of the other before our eyes. So there is no nirvana in the living because one is a state of rest and the other of pain and misery.

11 Phenomena are fallacies and afford no real happiness. Think them as unreal and rely solely upon the uncreated Lord by your extinction through nirvana in him.

12 The pearl shell looks like silver, but you will find none in it. It is of no use or value. Then why do you deceive yourself with such like trinkets of the world? 13 The presence or possession of trinkets is full of misery and their absence is filled with bliss. When you understand absence, thoughts of detachment proves to be a substantive good. 14 Why do the ignorant not come to perceive their bondage in riches? Why do they neglect to lay hold of the treasure of their eternal welfare, which is even now offered before them? 15 Knowing causes, effects and states of things to be full of the presence of the One and nothing else, why do they fail to feel his immediate presence in their consciousness, which spreads alike through all?

16 Mistaken men, like stray deer, seek Brahman in the causes and states of things. They do not know that the all pervading spirit spreads undivided and unspent throughout the whole emptiness of space. 17 But what is the conclusion of the doctrine of causation unless it establishes the Cause as the primary source of all? But how can the force which causes wind or the fluidity inherent in fluids be accounted as the creator of wind and water? 18 It is absurd to say that emptiness is the cause of vacuum, or that creative power is the cause of creation, when only the one God is the cause, effect, state, and all of everything himself. 19 Therefore it is absurd to attribute terms implying causality and creation to Brahman, who is identical with all nature, is unchangeable in his nature, and derives neither pleasure nor pain from his act of the creation of worlds.

20 Brahman, being nothing other than consciousness, can have no will or volition stirring in his nature, just as a toy soldier or painted army is nothing other than the material of which it is made without any movement in them.

21 Rama said, “If the world and our ego are all unreal and phenomena are nothing other than the unknowable Brahman, then it is the same whether there be any will stirring in the Divine Mind or not, since God is always all in all. 22 Again if the rising will is identical with the nature of God, just as the rising wave is the same as the sea water, then what does it mean to teach the need to control the will?”

23 Vasishta replied:—

O Rama, it is true, as you have understood it, that the Divine Will is nothing other than divinity itself. Those who are awakened to the light of truth know this. But hear me say more on this subject.

24 Whenever a wish arises in the breast of the ignorant, it gives rise to knowledge of the wished for object, just as the gloom of night departs before the advance of sunlight. 25 But in the heart of a wise man, the rising wish sets of itself. When there is understanding, questions about duality vanish from the mind. 26 When desire for anything is dead, no one can wish for anything. Who is free from ignorance sees the pure light of his liberation. 27 A wise man is neither fond of nor adverse to the sight of phenomena. He views the beauties of visible nature as they appear before him without enjoying them in his own nature. 28 If anything offers itself to him by some means or another’s cause, and if he finds it right for him to take it, then he may then have the choice to either accept or refuse it, as he may like.

29 Truly will or desire and the unwillingness of the wise are moved by and proceed from Brahman himself. They have no uncontrollable or inordinate desire, but pursue their own course and have nothing new or unusual to wish for. 30 As wisdom rises on one side, so desires set down on the other side. They cannot combine or dwell together. It is impossible for desire and wisdom to reside together in the mind, just as there is no possibility of light and darkness meeting at the same place.

31 A wise man does not need any exhortation or prohibition for any act because his heart remains quite cool to all desires. There is nobody to tell him anything to any purpose. 32 This is the character of a wise man. His desires are imperceptible in his heart. While he is full of joy in himself, he is unconcerned to all others about him. 33 There is also a shade of heavenly sadness settled in his outward face, and a distaste or detachment to everything in his mind. It is then that the current of desires ceases to flow in his heart, and his mind is elevated with the sense of his liberation. 34 Whose soul is serene and his intellect unclouded by the doubts of unity and duality, his desires turn to detachment and all thoughts remain concentrated in the Lord.

35 He resides calmly in the tranquility of the Supreme Soul whose knowledge of duality has entirely subsided in his intellect, whose belief of unity is not mixed with any other thing, and who is quite at ease without any uneasiness. 36 He has no object to gain by his acts or anything to lose by their omission. He has no concern whatever with any person or thing either for his good or otherwise. 37 He is indifferent to his desire as well as to his coolness. He has no care for the reality or unreality of things. He is not concerned about himself or others. He is not in love with his life or in fear of his death. 38 The self-extinguished soul of the enlightened never feels any desire stirring, and if ever any wish is felt to rise in his breast, it is only an agitation of Brahman.

39 To him there is no pleasure or pain, no grief or joy. He views the world as the quiet and uncreated soul of the divinity manifest by itself. A man who goes on in this manner, like the course of an underground stream, is truly called enlightened and awakened. 40 He who thinks pleasure to be his pain is one who takes bitter poison for his sweet nectar. The wise say that a man who converts evil to good and thinks himself happy in his mind is awakened to his right sense. 41 The world is one with Brahman when we think of ourselves as emptiness in the vacuum of Brahman, quiet as the tranquility of the Divine Spirit, thinking everything rests in the spacious mind of God. 42 In this manner all consciousness is lost in unconsciousness and the knowledge of the world is lost in the infinity of empty air. The error of our egoism is likewise drowned in the depth of the even and vast expanse of the divine unity.

43 All that is seen here in the forms of moving and inert bodies of the world are as quiet as the motionless, empty sky that contains them, or as a visionary paradise of imagination. 44 As there is a free exchange of thoughts among people without any obstacle to their passage from one mind to another, in the same manner there is the same reflection of this shadowy world in the minds of all at once. 45 Earth, heaven, and sea, with hills and all other things, appear before our empty minds exactly as the false sights of water appear in a mirage to our eyes. 46 The dream-built city of the world appearing visibly before us is as false as a dream and as delusive as a demon appearing in the imaginations of little children. 47 Our egoism, our consciousness of ourselves which seems to be a reality to us, is nothing other than a delusion of our brain and an false conception of the mind.

48 The world is neither an entity nor a nonentity, nor is it completely a substantiality or un-substantiality. It cannot be determined by the senses or explained by speech, yet it exhibits itself as a fairyland in empty air. 49 Here our wish and effort, as well as our lack of both, are all alike in the opinion of the learned. But in my opinion it is better to remain coolly indifferent.

50 The knowledge of I and the world is like that of air in endless emptiness. The vibration of the intelligent soul, like a breath of air in vacuum, causes this knowledge in us, beside which there is no other cause. 51 The aptitude of the intellect of the intelligent soul to its thoughts, which is its longing for external objects, makes it what we call the mind, which is the seat of what is called the world. But the soul released from this aptitude is said to have its liberation. Follow this precept and keep yourself quiet.

52 You may have your desire or not. You may see the world or its dissolution. Ultimately you will come to learn that neither is any gain or loss to you, since there is nothing here in reality and everything is, at best, only the shadowy and fleeting form of a dream. 53 Will and no will, entity and nonentity, the presence or absence of anything, and the feeling of pain or pleasure at the loss or gain of something, are all only ideas and merely aerial fantasies of the mind.

54 He whose desires are decreased day by day becomes as happy as an enlightened wise man and similarly shares in the liberation of his soul. 55 When the sharp knife of keen desire pierces the heart, it produces very painful wounds of sorrow and grief which defy the remedies of mantras, minerals and all sorts of medications. 56 Whenever I look back into the vast multitude of my past actions, I find them all to be full of mistakes. Not even one was done without error, fault or blunder. 57 When we realize that all our past conduct has been in error, we understand all has been done for nothing. How is it possible for us to discern the hearts of others which are like inaccessible hills to us? 58 Our dealing with the unreal world is lost in the twinkling of an eye. For who can expect to hold the horns of a rabbit in his fingers?

59 The belief of our egoism, our personality consisting in our gross bodies, serves to convert the aerial intellect to a gross substance in a moment and make our mind a part of the solid body, just as a raindrop is frozen into a hailstone. 60 Our intellect gives us the concept that our unreal bodies are real, just as the undying principle of the intellect happens to see its own death in our sleep. 61 As the unreal and insubstantial emptiness appears to be the blue sky, so we suppose this creation is attributed to Brahman, which is neither real nor quite unreal.

62 As emptiness is the inseparable property of vacuum, and movement is that of air, so creation is an inseparable attribute of God, one and the same with the essence of Brahman himself. 63 There is nothing produced here as the world, nor is anything lost or annihilated in it. All this is like a dream to a sleeping man, which is a mere appearance and nothing in reality. 64 The nonexistent earth and others are apparent only in their appearance. Then why do you bother to care or fear about being or not being of this world? The world is no more than a production and subversion of it in the region of Consciousness.

65 The apparent body is no reality made up of the five elements. It is only a formation of the Divine Consciousness situated in the Divine Spirit. 66 The instrumentality of the mind in the causation of the world is also untrue and absurd, owing to the union of two causes in one. 67 All things are uncaused and not consecutive in the Divine Mind where they are eternally present at one and the same time, just as the whole series of the actions of a man from his birth to death appear in an instant of his dreaming states. 68 All things are contained in and are as empty as vacant Consciousness. This spacious earth with her high hills of solid bases and all her peoples with their actions and motions are ever existent in their aerial forms in the knowledge of the aerial intellect of God. 69 The world is a picture painted on the airy surface of the Divine Mind. Its various colors are derived from the intellect of God. It never rises or sets, nor does it ever become faint, nor does it fade or vanish away.

70 The world is a huge wave of fluidity in the water of Consciousness. Nobody can say why it is so or how it is produced or how and when it subsides. 71 When the great emptiness of consciousness is calm and quiet, then the world remains in its form of an empty void. When the soul is quite thoughtless in itself, there can be no rise or fall of any object before it. 72 As we imagine mountains touching the skies and the sky encompassed by mountains, we suppose the presence of Brahman in all things of creation.

73 By the application of a bit of their intelligence, yogis convert the world to empty air or fill the hollow air with the three worlds. 74 As we imagine thousands of paradise cities of the perfected gods situated in the different regions of heaven, so there are numberless worlds scattered apart from one another in the infinite space of Divine Consciousness. 75 Ocean currents whirl apart from one another and seem to make so many seas of themselves though they are composed of the same water. 76 So numerous worlds, revolving separately in the emptiness of the Divine Consciousness, are all of the same nature, and not otherwise.

77 The enlightened yogi views worlds above worlds in his clairvoyance. The sages relate how they can pass to the ethereal regions of the perfected spiritual masters. 78 There are numberless imperishable beings and immortal spirits contained in the Supreme Spirit, just as endless worlds are situated in the hollow sphere of heaven. 79 It is the intrinsic pleasure of the Divine Soul to scatter wandering worlds about it, just as the scented flower diffuses its immanent fragrance and spreads its flying pollen all around. They are not extraneous, but are born within itself like the lines and marks in a diamond or crystal. 80 The fragrance of flowers, though mixed together in the air, are yet separate from one another. So all created bodies exists together in the air, all distinct in their natures.

81 Our fancies make air assume different shapes in the minds of men, such as gross material forms. Holy saints view them in their pure forms in the mind. 82 Neither gross materialists nor pure spiritualists are correct in their conceptions of things. But everyone has to feel according to his particular view and belief of a thing. 83 By thinking the world is contained in the thought of Consciousness, it will be found to be no way different from it, than water is from its liquidity.

84 Know time and the universe, with all the worlds contained in it together with the ego and you and all others, to be the one and very unity, which is the calm and quiet vacuum of the great Consciousness, the unborn and soul of God without decay. Therefore be not subject to passions or affections which do not appertain to the nature of God.