Chapter 59 — Vasishta Seeks the Source of a Sound, Describes Infinite Networks of Alternative Realities
1 Rama asked, “Tell me, O sage, about what you did after you arose from your hundred years of samadhi in the cell of your aerial abode.”
2 Vasishta replied:—
After I awoke from my trance, I heard a soft and sweet sound. It was slow but distinctly audible, clearly intelligible both in sound and sense. 3 It was as soft and sweet as if it proceeded from a female voice, and musical to the ear. It was neither loud nor harsh owing to its feminine quality. I kept watching from where the words were heard. 4 It was as sweet as the humming of the bees, and as pleasing as the tune of stringed instruments. It was neither the chime of crying nor some recitation, but like the buzzing of black bees known to men as the melody in vocal music.
5 Hearing this melody for a long time and vainly seeking its source, I thought, “It is a wonder that I hear the sound without knowing its author or from which of the ten sides of heaven it proceeds. 6 This part of the heavens,” I thought, “is the path of the spiritual masters. On the other side I see an endless emptiness.”
I passed over millions of miles that way, and then I sat there awhile and reflected in my mind. 7 “How could such feminine voice proceed from such a remote and solitary quarter? I see no vocalist with all my diligent search. 8 I see the infinite space of the clear and empty sky lying before me. I find no visible being appearing to my sight in spite of all my diligent search.”
9 As I was thinking in this manner, looking repeatedly on all sides without seeing the maker of the voiced sound, I thought of the following plan. 10 I must transform myself into air and be one with the empty vacuum. Then I would make some sound in the empty air, which is the receptacle of sound. 11 I thought of leaving my body in its posture of meditation, as I had been sitting before, and with the empty body of my intellect, mix with the empty vacuum like a drop of water mixes with water. 12 Thinking so, I was about to forsake my material frame by sitting in lotus posture and entering samadhi, shutting my eyes tightly against all external sights. 13 Having given up my sensations of all external objects of sense, I became as void as my intellectual vacuum, preserving only the feeling of my consciousness in myself.
14 By degrees I lost my consciousness also. I became only a thinking principle. Then I remained in my intellectual sphere as a mirror of the world. 15 Then with that empty nature of mine, I became one with the universal vacuum and melted away like a drop of water with common water, and mixed as an odor in the universal receptacle of empty air. 16 Being assimilated to the great vacuum, which is omnipresent and pervades over the infinite space, I became like the endless void, the reservoir and support of all, although I was formless and unsupported myself.
17 In my formless space I began to look into multitudes of worlds and cosmic eggs that lay countless in my infinite and unconscious heart. 18 These worlds were apart from, unseen by, and unknown to one another. They appeared with all their motions and manners as mere space to each other. 19 As visions in a dream appear as solid to a dreaming man and as nothing to other sleeping people, so the empty space abounds with worlds to their observer, but these universes are invisible to each other.
20 Many things are born to grow and decay and die away at last. What is present is reckoned with the past, and what was in the womb of the future comes to existence in numbers. 21 The imaginations of men build many magic scenes and many aerial castles and buildings, together with many a kingdom and palace in empty air. 22 Here there were many buildings with several apartments (idea principles) counting from unit to the digit. 23 There were some structures constructed with ten or sixteen apartments (idea principles) and others which had two or three dozen doors attached to them. 24 The entire ethereal space is full of the five primary elements which compose elementary bodies of single or double or triple natures. 25 Some of these bodies are composed of four, five and six elements, and others of seven different elementary principles called the seven great elements. 26 There are many supernatural natures which are beyond the power of your conception, and there are spaces of everlasting darkness without the light of the sun or moon.
27 Some parts of the void were devoid of creation, and others were occupied by Brahma the creator. Some parts were under the dominion of the patriarchs and under influence of various customs. 28 Some parts were under the control of the Vedas and others were ungoverned by regulations of scriptures. Some parts were full of insects and worms and others were peopled by gods and other living beings. 29 In some parts the burning fires of daily oblations were seen to rise, and at others the people observed only the traditional usages of their respective tribes.
30 Some parts were filled with water and others were the regions of storms. Some bodies were fixed in the remote sky and others were continually wandering and revolving. 31 Growing trees were blossoming in some parts and others were bearing fruit and ripening at others. There were grazing animals moving with their face downwards in some place and others were swarming with living beings.
32 The Lord alone is the whole creation and he only is the totality of mankind. He is the whole multitude of demons and he also is the entire multitude of insects and birds everywhere. 33 He is not far from anything, but is present in every atom that is contained in his bosom. All things are growing and grown up in the cell of emptiness, like the layers of a plantain tree. 34 Many things are growing unseen and unknown to each other, never thought of together. Such are the dreams of soldiers which are unseen by others. 35 There are endless varieties of creations in the unbounded womb of vacuum, all of different natures and manners. There are no two things of the same character and feature.
36 All men are of different scriptures, faiths and beliefs from one another, and these are of endless varieties. They are as different in their habits and customs as they are separated from each other in their houses and places. 37 There are worlds above worlds and spheres of spirits over one another. There are a great many big elemental bodies like hills and mountains that come to our sight.
38 It is impossible for understanding like yours to comprehend the unusual things which men like we speak about. 39 We must derive the atoms of spiritual light which proceed from the sphere of emptiness as we feel the particles of mental light which issue from the orb of the sun of our intellect.
40 Some are born to remain just as they are and become of no use to anyone at all. Others become somewhat like themselves as the leaves of forest trees. 41 Some are equal to others and many are unlike them. For some time they are alike to one another and at others they differ in their shapes and nature. 42 Hence there are various results of the great tree of spirituality, among which some are of the same kinds and others of different sorts. 43 Some of these are of short duration and others endure for longer periods. There are some that exist temporarily and others endure forever. 44 Some have no definite time to regulate its course and others are spontaneous in their growth and continuance.
45 Different regions of the sky that lie in the hollow of boundless vacuum exist from unknown periods of time in a state beyond the reach of our knowledge. 46 These regions of the sky, this sun and these seas and mountains which are seen to rise by hundreds to our sights, are the wonderful display of our Consciousness in the sky, like a series of dreams in our sleep. 47 It is from our false notions and the false idea of a creative cause that we take the unreal earth and all other appearances as if they really exist. 48 Like the appearance of water in a mirage and the sight of two moons in the sky, these unreal phenomena present themselves to our view although they are altogether false.
49 The imaginative power of Consciousness creates these images like clouds in the empty air. They are raised high by the wind of our desire, and roll about with our efforts and pursuits. 50 We see the gods, demigods and men flying about like flies and gnats about a fig tree. Its luscious fruits are seen hanging and shaking with the winds of heaven. 51 It is only from the naturally creative imagination of Consciousness, like the playful nature of children, that cities of fairy shapes are shown in empty air.
52 The false impressions of “I”, “you”, “he” and “this” are as firmly fixed in the mind as the clay dolls of children are hardened in sunlight and heat. 53 Playful and ever active destiny works all these changes in nature, just as the pleasant spring season makes the forest fruitful with its moisture. 54 Those called the great causes of creation are no causes, nor is creation created all. All is a perfect void. All has sprung of themselves in the emptiness of Consciousness. 55 They all exist in their intellectual form, though they appear to be manifest as otherwise. What is perceptible is all imperceptible, and what exists is altogether nonexistent.
56 The fourteen worlds and the eleven kinds of created beings are all the same in the inner intellect, just as they appear to outer sight. 57 In their true sense, heaven and earth and the infernal regions and the whole host of our friends and foes are all empty nonentities though they appear to be very busy. 58 All things are like inelastic fluid, just like the fluidity of seawaters. They are as fragile as sea waves inside, though they appear as solid substances on the outside. 59 They are the reflections of the Supreme Soul, just as daylight is that of the sun. They all proceed from and melt away into the empty air like gusts of wind.
60 Egoistic understanding is the tree bearing the leaves of our thoughts. They are nonexistent like beings in a dream who seem separate from the dreamer. 61 The rituals and their rewards prescribed in the Vedas and Puranas are like fanciful dreams occurring in light sleep. But they are buried into forgetfulness by them and are led up in the sound sleep like the dead.
62 Consciousness, like a gandharva spirit architect, is in the act of building many fairy cities in the forest of Brahman, lighted with the light of its reason, blazing as the bright sunbeams. 63 In this manner, O Rama, in my samadhi I saw many worlds created and scattered without any cause, just as a blind man sees many false sights in the open air.