Chapter 45 — The Deer-Like Mind; Climbing the Tree of Life; Meditation in Samadhi

Vasishta continued:—

O destroyer of enemies, the deer-like mind, having found rest in that sacred tree, remains quite pleased with it and never thinks of going to any other tree. In course of time, the tree of discriminate knowledge brings forth its fruit which ripen gradually with the sweet substance of spiritual knowledge inside. The deer-like mind, sitting under the good tree of its meditation, beholds its outstretching branches hanging downward with loads of the fruit of merit and virtue.

It sees people climbing in this tree with great persistence and pains in order to taste these sweet fruit in preference to all others. Worldly people decline to climb the tree of knowledge, but those who have climbed high upon it never think of ever coming down from the high position which they have attained. He who has ascended on the tree of reason and knowledge to taste its delicious fruits, forgets the taste of his ordinary food and forsakes the bondage of his former deserts, like a snake casting aside his old skin.

The man who has risen to a high station, looks at himself and smiles to think how miserly he had passed for so long in his past life. Having mounted on the branch of fellow feeling and putting down the snake of selfishness under his feet, he seems to reign in himself as if he were the sole monarch over all. As the digits of the moon decrease and disappear in the dark fortnight, so the lotuses of his distress are lost in oblivion and the iron chains of his greed are rubbed out day by day. 10 He does not pay attention to what is unattainable, nor does he care about what is not obtained. His mind is as bright as a clear moonlit night and the passions and affections of his heart are all quite cold.

11 He sits pouring over pages of the scriptures, meditating in silence on their profound sense. He observes the course of nature with a broad view, from the highest and greatest objects to the mean and most minute. 12 He sits smiling, looking derisively upon the previously described sevenfold grounds of his past errors, full with thick forests of poisonous fruits and flowers. 13 Having fled from the tree of death and descended from that of life, his aspiring mind rises by degrees to its higher branches like a quick flying bird. There he sits like a prince delighted in his elevated station. 14 From there he looks down upon family and friends, wealth and property, as if they were from a former life or visions in his dream. 15 He coldly views his passions, feelings, fears, hopes, errors and honors as actors playing out their various roles in the drama of his life.

16 The course of the world is like that of a rapid river running onward with furious and mischievous currents, laughing with its foaming wave breakers, now swelling high and then suddenly sinking. 17 He does not feel any craving in his breast for wealth, wife or friends who live dead to his feelings like an unconscious corpse. 18 His sight is fixed only on that single fruit on high, which is the holy and conscious soul or consciousness. With that one object in his sight, he climbs up to the higher branches of this tree of life. 19 He remembers the blessings of the preceding steps of his yoga meditation, filled with the ambrosia of contentment. He remains as content at the loss of his riches as he had felt at their gain. 20 He is as displeased and annoyed with the callings of his life, whether private or public, as one who is untimely roused from his wholesome sleep.

21 A weary traveler, fatigued from his long and tiring journey, longs for rest from his labor. In the same way, a man tired of his repeated journeys through life caused by his ignorance requires his rest in nirvana. 22 As a wing lights a fire without the help of fuel, so let him light the flame of his soul within by the breath of respiration and become united with the Supreme Spirit. 23 Let him forcefully check his desires for anything that falls of itself before his sight, although he is unable to prevent his yearning eye from falling upon it. 24 Having attained this great dignity which confers the fruits of best blessings on man, the devotee arrives to the sixth stage of his devotion, whose glory no language can describe.

25 Whenever he happens to meet with some unexpected good which fortune may present to him, he feels a dislike for it, like a traveler unwilling to trust a mirage in a barren desert. 26 The silent sage, full with divine grace within himself, attains a state of indescribable bliss similar to the sleep of a weary traveler exhausted from the bustle of the busy world. 27 Having arrived at this stage of devotion, the sage advances towards attainment of the fruit of spiritual bliss, like the aerial spirit of a spiritual master has descending upon Mount Meru, or a bird of air dropping down on top of a tree. 28 There he forsakes all thoughts and desires and becomes as free as the open sky. Then he takes, tastes, eats and satisfies himself feeding freely upon this fruit of spiritual bliss.

29 Attainment of godliness or full perfection in life means day by day leaving every object of desire, living the entire day with perfect composure with one’s self. 30 To attain such a state of perfection, do away with all distinctions and differentiations and remain in perfect union and harmony with all and everything. The learned say that this state of mind is the assimilation and approximation of the nature of God, who is ever pure and the one and same in all from eternity to eternity.

31 One disgusted with his desire of the world and its people, having abandoned desire for his wife and family and forsaken his desire to acquire riches, can only find his rest in this blissful state. 32 The ultimate union of both intellect and true knowledge in the Supreme Spirit melts away all sense of distinction, just as the heat of the sun melts frozen snow.

33 One who has known the truth is not like a bent bow which becomes straight after it is loosened. Rather, he is more like a curved necklace which retains its curve even after it is let loose on the ground. 34 As a statue carved on wood or stone is seen in bas-relief, so the world is manifest in the great pillar of the Supreme Spirit without being an existing entity or a non-existing one of itself. 35 We cannot form any idea in the mind how material exists in the immaterial spirit, nor is it proper in our ignorance to entertain any idea of what is the unknowable nature of the Self-existent One.

36 Whoever has utmost indifference to phenomena is capable of knowing the invisible spirit. But the unenlightened soul is incapable of forsaking and forgetting phenomena. 37 Knowledge of phenomena is utter ignorance. Samadhi means never losing that which is never lost to consciousness and relying upon it. 38 When viewer and view are seen in the same light of identity, and so relied upon by the mind, then it is called the union of both into one. The yogi places his rest and reliance upon this belief.

39 He who has known the truth finds a natural distaste for phenomena. Wise men use the word materialism for ignorance of truth. 40 Fools, ignorant of the truth, feed only upon the objects of sense, but the wise have a natural distaste for them. They who have the taste of sweet nectar cannot be disposed to taste a sour porridge or a bitter drink. 41 A man without desires, content in himself, is quite devoid of the triple desires described before. But a learned man who is not inclined to meditate is addicted to the increase of his wealth.

42 Self-knowledge results from the absence of lust. Whoever loses his self by his corruption has neither his self-possession nor any fixed position to stand upon. 43 A learned man, though he may employ all his knowledge, does not prosper in his meditation because his various desires divide him within, though he was made as the whole and undivided image of his maker. 44 But the soul freed from desires of itself comes to possess endless bliss by being dissolved in the Source through meditation, as if wingless mountains were fixed upon the earth. 45 As the soul becomes conscious of holy light in itself, it loses the sense of its meditation and is wholly lost in that light, just as a drop of clarified butter offered in sacred oblation is burnt away in the sacrificial fire.

46 The complete renunciation of all objects of sense constitutes the peace and stillness of the mind. He who has accustomed himself to this habit is entitled to our regard as a venerable and holy sage. 47 Truly, the man who has become proficient suppressing his appetite for worldly objects becomes so firm and calm in his holy meditation that not even the combined power of Indra, the gods and demigods can shake him from his meditation. 48 Therefore resort to the strong and firm refuge of meditation. Know that all meditations other than that of knowledge is as frail and fragile as straw.

49 The word “world” is used to refer to ignorant people. The wise are not the subject of its meaning. The difference between the words ignorant and wise consists in the one forming the majority of mankind and the other their superiors. 50 Let wise men resort to and rest at that place where all meet in union in one self-shining unity, whether it be on the ground of the understanding of saintly spiritual masters or those of enlightened sages.

51 No one has yet been able to explain the unity or duality of the real or unreal. The way to learn it is first by means of scriptures, then by association with wise and holy men. 52 The third and best means to nirvana is meditation, which is arrived at one after the other. Then it will appear that the immense body of Brahman takes upon itself the name and nature of the living soul.

53 The world appears in various forms by the meeting of like and unlike principles. It becomes divided into eighteen regions by the omniscience of God who knows the past and the future. 54 Both the knowledge and the dislike of the world are attained by attainment of either one of them. The thoughts of our mind, flying with the winds in open air, are burnt away by the fire of knowledge. 55 The worlds, like flying cottonwood seeds, flee into the Supreme Soul, but nothing is known about where they end up flying. Man’s gross ignorance of man is not removed by knowledge, just as dense snow does not melt from a fire in a painting.

56 Though the world is known to be an unfounded fallacy, yet it is hard to remove this error from the mind. On the other hand, the world increases with ignorance as ignorant men acquire more knowledge of it. 57 As the knowledge of the ignorant tends to increase their ignorance, so a wise man finds ignorant people’s knowledge of the world to be meaninglessness. 58 The existence of the three worlds is known to us only as they are represented in our knowledge of them. They are built in emptiness like aerial cities stretched out before us in the empty dreams of our sleep.

59 Knowledge of the world is as false as fanciful desires in the minds of the wise. For neither the existence of the world or even his own self-existence is perceptible in the understanding of a wise man. 60 There is only the existence of one supremely bright essence which shines in our minds, resembling pieces of wet or dry wood in as much as they are moistened or dried by the presence or absence of divine knowledge. 61 To right understanding, the whole world with all its living beings appears as one with one’s self, but men of dull understanding bear no mutual sympathy for one another. The knowledge of duality tends towards differences and disunion among men, but knowledge of oneness leads men to fellow-feeling and union. 62 The wise man possessing a greater share of wisdom becomes as one with the Supreme One. He does not consider the question of the being or nonexistence of the world. 63 A man who has arrived at the fourth stage of yoga takes no notice of men’s waking, dreaming or sleeping states. A reasonable man takes no account of the vain wishes of his heart and the false fancies of his mind.

64 Hence the deer-like mind does not choose its annihilation for the sake of its liberation and has no reality in it. 65 Thus the tree of meditation by itself produces the fruit of knowledge which is ripened by degrees and in course of time to its lusciousness. Then the deer-like mind drinks its sweet juice of divine knowledge to its fullness and becomes free from its chains of earthly desire.