Chapter 49 — The World as Light from Gems; Total Detachment and Indifference

Vasishta continued:—

Those who are staunch in their discernment of truth and firm in the abandonment of their desires are truly men of very great souls, conscious of their greatness in themselves. The vast magnanimity of noble minded men and the fathomless depth of their understanding are even greater than the space occupied by the fourteen worlds. Wise men have a firm belief that the reality of the universe is a false conception. They are quite at rest from all internal and external accidents which overtake the ignorant, unaware man like sharks and alligators.

What reliance can there be in any hope or desire for anything in this world, which is as tempting and deceitful as the appearance of two moons in the sky, of water in a mirage, and the prospect of an illusory city in the air? Desires are as vain as the empty void owing to the nothingness of the mind in which they arise. Therefore the wise are not led away by their desires which they know have their origin in the unreal and vacant mind.

The three states of waking, dreaming and sound sleep are common to all living beings generally. But the state or nature of the Supreme Being is beyond those triple functions. It is all seeing and all knowing without being seen or known. The soul in its enraptured state sees the world as a collection of light issuing from gems of various kinds and the human soul as a reflection of that light, not as a solid or material substance.

The phenomenal world that presents its various appearances to eyesight is an empty void. The varieties of light and luminous bodies which appear in it are nothing other than reflections of the rays of the vast mine of brilliant gems which is hidden under it and shoots forth its glare in the open air. Here there is no other substance in reality, neither the vast cosmos nor boundless emptiness itself. All this is the glare of that greatest of gems whom we call the great Brahman, whose glory shines all around us. 10 The created and uncreated all is one Brahman alone and there is no variety or destructibility in these or in him. All these are formless beings. They appear as substantial in imagination only, just as sunbeams paint various figures in empty clouds in the air.

11 Thus when the imaginary world appears to blend with the ethereal void, this solid mass of material world will vanish into nothing. 12 The whole wandering world is seen to be a perfect insubstantiality. It is quite impossible for it to have any property or attribute whatever, although they are usually attributed to it, because there is no probability of any quality belonging to an absolute nothing, just as it is impossible for a bird to find a resting place on a tree rooted in the sky. 13 There is no solidity of anything, nor is there any emptiness at all. The mind itself is a nonexistence, but that which remains after all these is the only being in reality which is never nonexistent at anytime. 14 The soul is one alone and without variation. It has consciousness of all varieties in itself and these are inherent in its nature, just as all the various forms of jewelry are ingrained in a lump of gold.

15 A wise sage who remains in his own essential nature finds his egoism, the consciousness of his mind, and the world all shrink into himself. It is difficult to describe the mind of a wise man which remains identified with the nature of the Self-existent Being.

16 Understanding is perplexed and confounded from observing things whose substance is hidden. Understanding requires slow and gradual knowledge of truth through right reason and argument. 17 By withdrawing the mind from its fascination with phenomena, the production of the god Viraj, and leading it to contemplate the spiritual cause of these works, true knowledge of the author of the present, past and future worlds can be attained. 18 He is known as a wise sage whose well discerning soul has perceived the truth in itself, who has found his rest in the One Unity, and who has no perception of the visible world, and all its endless varieties which are attributed to Viraj.

19 All of what has been said here by way of advice is perceived by wise men through their intuition, just as the wise sayings of good people are self-evident.

20 The substance of all this is that there is no size or magnitude of beings in general, nor its absence as an emptiness. Therefore there is neither a gross nor an airy mind, but the One that exists after all is the true and ever existent entity. 21 This entity is Consciousness which is familiar with all phenomena in itself. Its manifestation in the form of our senses is filled with all our sorrows, while its disappearance leads to our bliss.

22 Being developed, it evolves itself into the shape of outward organs and takes the form of the gross body, just as liquid water consolidates by degrees to the bulky forms of islands and huge mountainous bodies. 23 This consciousness, absorbed by ignorance, assumes the gross form of mind and binds itself tightly to the physical body, just like a man seeing his aerial dreams as material substance. 24 In these states in which consciousness is converted to sensation, perception and other faculties, Consciousness remains the same and unchangeable though it is described with different words of human invention. 25 The soul remains the same both in its conception of mental thoughts and ideas, as well as in its perception of outward objects. It is not changed in either case, unlike the mind that sees its dreams within and objects outside.

26 Consciousness resembles an empty substance. It is as unchangeable in nature as that of emptiness and eternity. The objects which present their ideas in the soul are like dreams that appear in the mind. They are nothing in reality. 27 The gross nature of external objects bears no relation to the pure internal intellect. Their impurity touch or pollute the purity of the soul. Therefore consciousness is not subject to the mutability of external nature. 28 Understanding never acquires the mutable state of the objects it dwells upon. It always remains in its immutable nature and is never in any other state or condition.

29 The yogi who has attained extreme purity of understanding in the seventh or highest degree of his perfection becomes identified with consciousness and of the meaning of its presence or absence. 30 The minds of ordinary people are impressed with idea of their materiality because they understand themselves as material bodies. 31 They falsely take their fleeting minds, which are as pure as the clear sky, for a material object. In the same manner, players in a drama take upon themselves the false disguise of pisacha demons.

32 All error is corrected by the habit of unerring wisdom, just as the madness of a man is cured by his thinking himself as not a mad man. 33 The knowledge of one’s falseness makes him get out of his error, just as the error of dreaming is lost upon one’s coming to the knowledge that all he saw was mere dream.

34 The reduction of our desires lessens our attachment to the world. Desire is a great demon which must be destroyed by the wise man. 35 As the madness of men is increased by their habitual ravings, so the constant practice of abstinence diminishes his giddy insanity. 36 As the passing or subtle human body is mistaken as physical in thought, so it is taken in a spiritual sense by the learned because of their understanding. 37 The passing or subtle body, having taken the form of the living soul, is capable of being converted into the state of Brahman by the intense nurture of its understanding.

38 If anything is produced according to its substance, and if anybody thinks himself according his own understanding, then how is it possible for a material being to take itself in a spiritual sense? 39 A dispute over the use of words increases doubts. Following one’s advice, the error is removed, just as evil is removed by chanting mantras rather than knowing their meaning. 40 The world is thought to be identical with the thought it, so it is believed to be an immaterial and bodiless substance until in the end its substance is lost in the emptiness of Consciousness. 41 When the mind is quite at rest from all its internal and external thoughts, the real spiritual nature of the soul appears to light and manifests itself in the form of the cool and clear sky which must be held for one’s rest and refuge.

42 A wise man will perform his sacrifice with knowledge, planting the stakes of his meditation in it, and at the conclusion of his all-conquering sacrifice, he will offer his renunciation of the world as his oblation to it. 43 A wise man is always the same and equally firm in himself, whether he stands under a shower of rain or falling fire stones from above, whether he walks in a deluge storm, travelling all over the earth, or flying in the air. 44 No one who is not practiced sitting in steadfast meditation can attain the station of a detached sage whose mind is tranquil by its lack of desire and has obtained its enclosure within itself.

45 The mind can never derive that perfect peace and tranquility, whether from the study of scriptures, or attending on holy lectures and sermons, or by practice of austerities and self-control, as it does by its distaste for all external objects and enjoyments. 46 The mind, like a bundle of hay, is burnt away by the fire of renouncing all worldly objects. This fire is lit by the breath of abandonment of all things, and fanned by the belief that all prosperity is followed by adversity.

47 The perception of sensible objects casts a mist of ignorance in and all about the mind. Only one’s knowledge shines like a brilliant gem within himself. 48 Only Consciousness shines in this gloom, like a star in the sky. It looks over all mankind, naaga snakes, asura demons, and over mountains and in their caves. 49 It is by the infusion of this Consciousness that all things move in the dull womb of the universe. They are whirling in the whirlpool of Consciousness. They are deriving their freshness from the enlivening power of that source. 50 All living beings whirling in the great whirlpool of Consciousness are like weak little fishes encircled by the net of ignorance. They are swimming and gliding in the water of the vast vacuum, quite forgetful of their spiritual origin. 51 It is Divine Consciousness that shows itself in various forms within the sphere of itself, just as air presents the variegated forms of thickening clouds in the wide arena of the sky.

52 All living beings, when they are devoid of their desires, are of the same nature with their spiritual source. Desire makes the different states and causes them to fly about like the dry leaves, rustling in the air like hollow reeds. 53 Therefore you must not remain like the ignorant, but rise above them by raising your mind to wisdom. This is to be done by calling the manly powers to your aid, then overcoming your dullness to suppress the whole band of your rising desires, and next breaking the strong chains and prison-house of this world to devote your attention to your improvement in spiritual knowledge.