Chapter 57 — Vasishta’s Stirring of Ego Dispelled by Certain Knowledge that All Is a Dream

Rama asked, “Tell me, O most wise sage, how it is possible for the demon of ego to take hold of you, who is extinct in God? Please dispel my doubts here.”

Vasishta replied:—

O Rama, it is impossible for any being, whether knowing or unknown, to live here without a sense of his egoism, just as it is impossible for the contained to exist without its container. But there is a difference which you must know. The demonic egoism of a quiet minded man is capable of control by means of his knowledge of the scriptures. Childish ignorance raises up this idol of egoism, though it is found to exist nowhere, just as little children make dolls of gods and men, images that have no existence at all. This ignorance is also nothing of substance because it is dispelled by knowledge and reason, just as darkness is driven away by the light of a lamp. Ignorance is a demon dancing in the dark, a fiend that flies far away from the light of reason.

In absence of knowledge and reason, we grant the existence of ignorance, yet at best it is only a fiend of delusion, shapeless as the darkest night. The second rabbit [in Indian tradition, the rabbit is considered sacred to the moon] will be seen only when the second moon exists. Similarly creation is only possible when basic ignorance exists. Creation having no other cause, we do not know how ignorance finds a place in it, as impossible as a tree growing in the air. 10 When creation began in its pure and subtle form in the womb of absolute emptiness, how is it possible for the material bodies of earth and water to proceed without a material cause?

11 The Lord is beyond the mind and the six senses, yet it is the source of the mind and senses. But how could that formless and incorporeal being be the cause of material and corporeal things? 12 The seedling is the effect, germinating from the seed as its causal source. But how and where can you expect to see the sprout springing without the productive seed? 13 No effect can ever result without its formal cause. Say, who has ever seen a tree springing and growing from empty air? 14 Only imagination paints these prospects in the mind, just as the vapor of imagination shows you the sight of trees in empty air. So it is the temporary madness of the mind that exhibits these phenomena before your eyes, but which in reality have no substance in them.

15 So the universe when it appeared at its first creation, in the emptiness of Divine Consciousness, was all a collection of worlds swimming in empty air. 16 It is the same as it shines in the spacious intellect of the Supreme Soul. It is divine nature itself which is called creation and which is an intellectual system having proceeded from the intellect, all the same divinity. 17 The vision of the world presented in our dreams, a daily occurrence for us, furnishes us with the best example of this. In the dreaming state we are conscious of the sights of cities and hills all before our mental eyes. 18 The nature of Consciousness is the same as a dream. Consciousness sees the vision of creation like we see the appearance of uncreated creation before our eyes, all in the same manner as it appeared at first in the vast void.

19 There is only one incomprehensible intelligence, a purely unborn and imperishable being that appears now before us in the shape of this creation, as it existed with its everlasting ideas of infinite worlds before this creation began. 20 There is no creation here, or these globes of earth and others. It is all calm and quiet with only one Brahman seated in his immensity. 21 This Brahman is omnipotent because he instantly manifests himself in any manner without forsaking his purely transparent form. 22 As our intellect shows itself in the forms of imaginary cities in our dream, so does the Divine Intellect exhibit itself in the forms of all these worlds at the beginning of their creation.

23 The empty intellect is situated in the transparent and transcendent vacuum of the Intellect. Creation is a display of its own nature by an act of its thought in itself. 24 The entire creation exists in the clear emptiness of the Intellect. It has the same nature of spirit situated in the spirit of God. 25 The entire creation is only the diffusion of the same spiritual essence of God. There is no possibility that a material world or ignorance or egoism exists in the creation and pervasive fullness of the Supreme Spirit.

26 Everything have I told you about the ending of your egoism and knowing the unreality of egoism serves to get rid of this false belief, like a child freed from his fear of a ghost.

27 In this manner, as soon as I was fully convinced of the futility of egoism, immediately I lost the sense of my personality. Though I fully retained consciousness of myself, yet I was freed from my selfishness, like a light autumn cloud unloading its watery burden. 28 Our knowledge that a painting of a fire is ineffective to burn us removes the fear of being burnt by it. In the same way, connecting our fallacies of egoism and creation serves to remove the impressions of the subjective and objective from our minds. 29 Thus I was delivered from my egoism and my passions became tranquil. Then I found myself seated in a sky free of clouds in an uncreated creation. 30 I am no egoism, nor is it anything to me. Having gotten rid of it, I have become one with the clear intellectual vacuum.

31 In this respect, all intelligent men are of the same opinion as I am. It is well known to them that our idea of individual ego is as false as the fallacy of fire in a painting. 32 Being certain of the unreality of yourself and of others, and of the nothingness of everything beside, conduct yourself in all your dealings with detachment and remain as silent as a stone. 33 Let your mind shine with the clearness of the vault of heaven, and be as impregnable to the excess of all thoughts and feelings as solid stone. Know that there is only one Intellectual essence from beginning to end, and that there is nothing to be seen except the one God who composes the whole fullness of space.