Chapter 39 — Vasishta’s Sermon on Peace of Mind

Vasishta continued:—

The man whose reliance on this world is really lessened, who is free from desire and unobservant of his religious vows, knows them all to be in vain. Our egoism is like the vapor of our breath, falling and sticking on the surface of glass which, when taken under consideration, proves to be a causeless sight and in a moment vanishes to nothing at all. He who is released from the veil of delusion, who has numbed his rising wishes and efforts, whose soul is filled with heavenly nectar, is said to be happy in his very nature and essence.

An enlightened mind not shrouded by the mist of doubts or skepticism resembles the full moon by illuminating the sphere of its circle with the splendor of its intelligence. An intelligent man, freed from his worldliness and doubts, who has come out from behind the curtain of ignorance and received the light of truth, is known as the knowing soul, shining in the sphere of the autumn sky. A holy man is like the pure breeze of heaven that blows freely from the region of Brahma, without any aim and without its support. It is cool in itself, cooling and purifying everything by its touch.

The desire to have an unreality is to expect something that is a nothing in nature, such as dreaming of heaven or seeking the son of a barren woman. It is the same with belief in this imaginary world, which appears as something in existence. Such also is the nature of our desires which attribute a materiality to an aerial nothing. The world is an unreality even at present, so there can be no reality in a heaven or hell in the future. Yet the use of these words is as false as the negative expression of a barren woman’s son or the flower of an ethereal tree.

10 The world is truly the form of Brahman himself. It is neither an actual nor an ideal existence, nor does it rest on any support. So we are at a loss to understand what is in reality. 11 By relying on the tranquil nature of the soul and confidence in yourself, you lose your reliance on the natures of things and avoid the troubles accompanying the whole creation and created beings. 12 The sight of the intellect, like the eyesight of men and the light of the stars of heaven, in a moment passes over millions of miles. In the same way, the sight of Divine Consciousness stretches all over the unlimited space of creation in an instant.

13 Divine Consciousness is as inconceivable as the womb of vacuum and as imperceptible as the calm and breathless air of the sky. Yet it is as joyous as a plant in full bloom. 14 The learned know all living beings belong to the nature of that consciousness. Therefore men of good intellect and judgment place no faith in the creation of the world.

15 As we have no knowledge of the dreaming state in our sound sleep, or that of sound sleep in our state of dreaming, so is our error of the world’s creation and annihilation. 16 Error is incidental to the nature of things, and sleeping and dreaming are properties incidental to the material body. Hence neither do these nor the acts of creation and annihilation relate to the omniscient and self-sufficient intellect. 17 Error is the unreal appearance of something. Error flies before examination, vanishing before it can be held.

The silver in a seashell is an unreality because you cannot get your expected silver from it. 18 Whatever is unattainable is a nothing. Whatever is wrongly supposed is impossible to be had. A thing that is unobtainable by its very nature is never to be expected. Anything otherwise is contrary to nature. 19 It is the nature of a thing to agree well with itself at all times. The invariability of anything can never admit a variety under any circumstance.

20 All that is natural is attended with ease and delight. But the unnatural is full of pain and misery. Know and consider it well, and do what you think is best.

21 A minute seed containing a large tree is an example that applies to the formless spirit of God containing the form of the universe in itself. This is a statement of the Vedas. 22 Hence visual sight and sensations, mental thought and understanding, consciousness of ego or self, and all other properties belonging to intellectual man are the transcendent spirit, just as fluidity is inherent in water. All these intellectual and spiritual properties are of an airy or empty nature. 23 As an embodied being discharges his bodily functions using his physical body, so spirit and spiritual beings conduct their spiritual functions like the air, without actually doing them. 24 It is by force and power of the spirit that we mute creatures are enabled to utter the words I, you, and the like which are mere meaningless sounds, like those emitted by a drum, and bear no sense.

25 An appearance which vanishes upon closer inspection must be held as no appearance at all. So the world of forms and phenomena vanishes into the formless and invisible spirit of God. Nothing is real or substantial of itself. 26 Those who dream this world are dreaming men joined together with their dreams. They are never united with the spirit of God, nor do they join the society of holy spiritual guides like ourselves. 27 All these men are identical with me in spiritual light, being one with Brahman in the tranquil and empty nature of the very same spirit. But physically considered, they are different from me, in as much as they fluctuate in their busy course like vacillating winds.

28 I who am full of the True One appear as a dream or a dreaming man to these day dreamers. While they in reality are as nonexistent and nothing to me as the dream of a man drowned in the depth of his sleep. 29 Whatever be their conduct in life, my business is only with Brahman and my living and reliance are upon only Brahman. Let others think and see whatever they like and do. They are all nonexistent and nothing to me.

30 I am nothing myself, but belong to the all pervading essence of Brahman. By means of Divine Spirit the body appears as something and utters the word “I” and the like. 31 The soul is pure consciousness, not subject to the contrary sense, with neither its desire for enjoyments or liberation. They who know the Lord have nothing else to desire. 32 The bondage or liberation of men is dependent on their own dispositions. It is foolish to foster a great ambition here, as it is foolish to look for a sea in the hole of a cow’s hoof on the ground. 33 By restraining our natures and reducing our wants, is possible to obtain our liberation here. Otherwise, no riches or friends or any endeavor can bring about the emancipation we eagerly seek.

34 Consciousness is stretched over all our thoughts about this imaginary world, just as a drop of oil spreads over and diffuses itself in circles upon the surface of water. 35 As scenes seen in a dream seem pleasant in memory upon awakening, so the wise sage sees worldly sights and his egoism also in the same light of a dream. 36 It is only by the practice of yoga meditation that the impressions of the world are so erased from the mind as not to leave any trace behind, save that of an infinite and still emptiness. 37 Whenever the true nature of the soul appears with its solar blaze within us, it dispels the mists of our irrational desires and displays an empty nothingness of all existence. 38 After desires are dead and gone and understanding is cleared of its ignorance, the soul shines forth within us with the light of a burning lamp.