Chapter 56 — Story of Vasishta’s Search for Seclusion and Hundred Year Meditation

Vasishta added:—

Having proved that Consciousness is always and everywhere, in every manner the all in all, it becomes evident that it remains like the empty and translucent air in everything in the whole universe.

Wherever there is Consciousness, there is also creation. Consciousness resides alike in void and in fullness. All things are full of Consciousness, and there is nothing whatsoever in existence beside this universal Consciousness. Just like all created things appear in their imaginary forms in our dream, so the empty Consciousness alone appears in various forms of existence in our waking dreams.

Rama, listen to my story of the stone, which is as pleasant to taste as it is a remedy for ignorance. I will tell you what I have actually seen and done myself.

Being anxious to know the knowable one, I was fully resolved in my mind to leave this world and all its false usages. After forsaking all the eagerness and restlessness of my body and mind, I remained a long while in a state of calm and quiet meditation for the sake of solitary peace and rest. Then I thought of taking myself to some seat of the gods and sitting there quietly to continue my survey of the changing and transitory states of worldly things.

I thought, “I find all things quite tasteless to my taste, though they seem pleasant for a while. I never see anyone anywhere who is always content with his own state. All things create only care and sorrow, with the acutest pains of remorse and regret. All these phenomena produce only evil from their appearance of good to those who see them. 10 What is all this that comes to our view? Who is their viewer and what am I who look upon these phenomena? All this is the quiet and unborn spirit which flashes forth in the empty sky with the light of its own intellect.”

11 With thoughts like these, I sought to retire to a proper place where I might confine myself within myself, a place which might be inaccessible to the gods and demigods, and to the spiritual masters and other beings. 12 I sought a place where I might remain unseen by any being, sitting quietly in unalterable meditation, placing my sole reliance on the one transparent soul, and getting rid of all my cares and pains.

13 Where could I find such a place entirely empty of all creatures where my mind would not be distracted by interruptions of the objects of my five external organs of sense? 14 I cannot choose the mountains for my seat. Whistling breezes of the forests, the dashing noise of waterfalls, and the flocking of wild animals serve to disquiet the mind without the capability of being stilled by human power. 15 Hills are crowded with hosts of elephants, valleys are filled with hordes of tribal peoples, and countries are full of hateful men more harmful than the poison of venomous serpents. 16 The seas are full of men and horrible beasts in their depths. Cities are disturbed with the noise of business and the agitation of citizens. 17 The foothills of the mountains and the shores and coasts of seas and rivers are as thickly peopled as the realms of the rulers of men. Even the summits of mountains and the caves of infernal regions are not devoid of animal beings.

18 Mountains sing with the whistling of breezes and trees dance with the motion of their leafy palms. Blooming flowers smile gently in the caves of mountains, in forest grounds and in low lands. 19 I cannot go to river banks where mute fish live like silent munis in their caves, gently shaking water lilies by their giddy flirtation, because these places are also disturbed by the loud noise of whirlpools and roaring whirlwinds. 20 I can find no rest in barren deserts where howling winds raise clouds of dust, nor can I go to mountain waterfalls where the air resounds with the stunning noise of constant waterfall.

21 Then I thought of sitting in some secluded corner of a remote region of the sky where I might remain absorbed in holy meditation without disturbance. 22 In this corner, I thought of making a cell in my imagination and keeping myself quite confined by a complete renunciation of all my worldly desires.

23 With these reflections, I mounted high in the blue vault of the sky and found a vast space in its womb that knows no bounds. 24 There I saw spiritual masters wandering in one place and roaring clouds rolling in another. On one side I saw vidyadhara spirits and excellent yakska demons on another. 25 In one place I saw an aerial city and in another a region of rattling winds. I saw rain clouds on one side and raging yoginis in another. 26 There was the city of the Daityas hanging in the air on one side and the place of gandarva spirits appearing in another. The planetary sphere was rolling about in one way and the starry frame revolving at a distance. 27 Somewhere the sky was brushed over by flights of birds and great gales were raging in another part. Somewhere there appeared portents in the sky and elsewhere there were canopies of clouds formed in the heavens. 28 One part of heaven was filled with cities peopled by strange kinds of beings. The car of the sun was gliding on one side and the wheel of the moon was sliding in another. 29 One region of the sky was burning under the hot sun and another part was cooled by moonbeams. One part was intolerable to little animals and another was inaccessible owing to its intense heat. 30 One place was full of dancing demons and another with flocks of flying Garuda eagles. One region was deluged by doomsday rains and another was overrun by tempestuous winds.

31 Leaving these attended parts behind, I passed onward far and further until I reached a region entirely desolate and devoid of everything. 32 Here the air was mild and no being was to be seen even in a dream. There was no omen of good, or anything indicating evil, or any sight or sign of world. 33 I saw myself in a solitary cell with some space, but without any exit, pleasing as a lotus bed. 34 It was not perforated by worms, but was as handsome as the bright disc of the full moon and as lovely as the beautiful features of lily and lotus, jasmine and mandara flowers.

35 This abode of my imagination was inaccessible to all beings except me. I sat there alone with only my thoughts and the creations of my imagination. 36 I remained in lotus posture, quite silent and calm in my mind. Then, after acquiring spiritual knowledge, I rose from my seat after a hundred years. 37 I sat in unwavering meditation absorbed in samadhi. I remained as quiet as the calm stillness of air and as immovable as a statue carved in relief upon the face of the sky. 38 At last I found what I had long been searching for in earnest. At last the breath of my expectation returned into my nostrils.

39 The seed of knowledge which I had sown in the field of my mind came to sprout forth of itself after the lapse of a hundred years. 40 My living soul was awakened to its intuitive knowledge, just as a tree left withered by the dewy season becomes revivified by the renewing moisture of spring. 41 The hundred years which I passed in my meditation glided away as quickly as a single moment, because a long period of time appears a very short space to one who is intensively intent upon a single object. 42 My outward senses had expanded from their contracted state, just as withered trees expand themselves into flowers and foliage by the growing influence of spring.

43 Then vital airs filled the organs of my body and restored my consciousness to their sensations. Soon after I was seized upon by the demon of my egoism, accompanied by its consort of desire, and these began to move back and forth just like strong winds shake sturdy oaks.