Chapter 87 — Vasishta Describes the Infinity of the World Shown in His Material Body

Vasishta continued:—

Afterwards as I directed my attention to my own body for a while. I saw the un-decaying and infinite spirit of God surrounding every part of my material frame. Pondering deeply, I saw the world was seated and shooting forth within my heart, just as grains sprout in a granary from rainwater dropping into it. I saw the formal world, with all its sentient as well as insensitive beings, rising out of the formless heart resembling the shapeless embryo of the seed. As the beauty of phenomena appears to view as one awakens after sleep, so only the intellect gives sensation to one who is waking from his sleep. So there is conception of creation in the same soul before its formation or bringing into action. The forms of creations are contained in the emptiness of the heart, and in no other separate emptiness whatever.

Rama asked, “Sage, your assertion of the emptiness of the heart made me understand it in the sense of infinite space of emptiness, which contains the whole creation. Please to explain to me more clearly, what do you mean by your intellectual emptiness which you say is the source of the world?”

Vasishta replied:—

Hear Rama, how once in my meditation I thought myself as the self-born (svayambhu) god in whom existed the whole. There was nothing born except by and from him. I will also describe how I believed the unreal as real in my revelry, like an air-built castle in my dreaming.

As I had been looking at that sight of the great kalpa dissolution with my aerial spiritual body, I found and felt the other part of my body was infused with the same sensibility and consciousness. As I looked at it for a while, with my spiritual part, I found it purely aerial and endowed with a slight consciousness of itself. 10 The empty intellect found this elastic substance to be of a subtle and rarefied nature, such as when you see external objects in your dream, or remember the objects of your dream upon waking.

11 This ethereal air, having its primary powers of intellect and consciousness (chit, samvid), becomes the intellect’s process of understanding and consciousness. Then from its power of reflection, it takes the name of reflection. Next from its knowledge of itself as air, it becomes the airy egoism. Then it takes the name of understanding (buddhi) because of its knowledge of itself as plastic nature and its forgetfulness of its former spirituality. At last it becomes the mind, from its minding many things that it wills. 12 Then, from its powers of perception and sensation, it becomes the five senses, to which are added their fivefold organs upon the perversion of the subtle mental perceptions to grossness.

13 As a man roused from his sound sleep is subject to flimsy dreams, so the pure soul, losing its purity upon its entrance in the gross body, is subjected to its accompanying miseries. 14 Then the infinite world, appears all at once to those who say it is an act of spontaneity, or as a sequence of events by others. 15 I conceived the whole in the minute atom of my mind. Being myself like empty air, I thought the material world was contained in me in the form of intelligence.

16 The nature of emptiness gives rise to the currents of air. So it is natural for the mind to assign a form and figure to all its ideas, by the power of its imagination. 17 Whatever imaginary form our imagination gives to a thing at first, there is no power in the mind to remove it. 18 Hence I believed myself as a minute atom, although I knew my soul to be beyond all bounds. Because I had the power of thinking, I thought myself as the thinking mind, and no more.

19 Then with my subtle body of pure intelligence, I thought of myself as a spark of fire. By thinking so for a long time, I became at length of the form of a gross body. 20 Then I felt a desire to see all that existed about me and I had the power of sight immediately supplied to my gross body. 21 In this manner I felt other desires and had their corresponding senses and organs given to me. Now I will tell you, O race of Raghu, their names and functions and objects as they are known among you.

22 The two holes of my face through which I began to see are called the two eyes with their function of sight. They have the visible phenomena of nature for their objects. 23 When I see is what I call time and how I see that is called its manner. The place where I see an object is simple emptiness and the duration of the sight is governed by destiny. 24 The place where I am situated is said to be my location. When I think or affirm anything, I say the present time. As long I feel the shining of my intellect, so long do I know myself as the intellectual cause of my action. 25 When I see anything, I have its perception in me. I also have my conviction that what I see with my two eyes is not empty emptiness, but of a substantial nature. 26 These two eyes are the organs with which I saw and felt the world in me, the keys to the visible world.

Then I felt the desire to hear what was going about me. It was my own soul which prompted this desire in me. 27 Then I heard a swelling sound, like that of a loud sounding conch, reaching me through the air, where it is naturally carried and through which it passes. 28 The organs by which I heard the sound are my two ears. The sound is carried by the air to the ear where it enters the ear-holes with a continuous hissing.

29 Then I felt a desire to feel. The organ whereby I came to it is called the skin. 30 Next I came to know the medium whereby I had the sensation of touch in my body. I found the air conveyed that sense to me. 31 As I remained conscious of the property of feeling or touch in me, I felt the desire to taste, then had the organ of taste given to me. 32 Then my empty self contracted the property of smell by the air of its breath. Thereby I had the sense of smell given to me through the organs of my nostrils.

Being thus furnished with all the organs of sense, I found myself to be imperfect still. 33 Being thus confined in the net of my senses, I found my sensual desire increasing quickly in me. 34 The physical sensations of sound, form, taste, touch and smell are all formless and untrue. Though they appear to be actual and true, yet they are really false and untrue. 35 As I remained ensnared in the net of my senses and considered myself a conscious being, I felt my egoism in me, that with which I am now addressing you. 36 The sense of egoism growing strong and compact takes the name of understanding. This being considered and mature comes to be called the mind. 37 Being possessed of my external senses, I pass for a sentient being. Having my spiritual body and soul, I pass as an intellectual being in an empty form.

38 I am more rare and empty than the air itself. I am as the emptiness itself. I am devoid of all shapes and figures and I am irrepressible in my nature. 39 As I remained at that spot, with this conviction of myself, I found myself endowed with a body and it was as I now look. 40 With this belief, I began to utter sounds. These sounds were as empty as those of man dreaming he is flying in the air. 41 This was the sound of a new born babe uttering the sacred syllable Aum. From them it has become the custom to pronounce this word at the beginning of sacred hymns. 42 Then I uttered some words like a sleeping person. These words are called the Vyahrites which are now used in the Gayatri hymn.

43 I thought that I had become like Brahma, the author and lord of creation. Then with my mental part or mind, I thought of creation in my imagination. 44 Finding myself containing the mundane system within me, I thought I was not a created being at all because I saw the worlds in my own body and nothing besides without it. 45 Thus the world being produced within my mind, I turned to look minutely into it. I found there was nothing in reality except an empty void. 46 So it is with all these worlds that you see. They are mere void, nothing other than your imagination of them. There is no reality whatever in the existence of this earth and all other things that you see.

47 The worlds appear as the waters of the mirage before the sight and to the knowledge of our consciousness. There is nothing outside the mind. The mind sees everything in the pure emptiness of the Divine Mind. 48 There is no water in the sandy desert, and yet the mind thinks it sees it there. So the deluded sight of our understanding sees the baseless objects of delusion in the burning and barren waste of infinite void. 49 Thus there is no real world in the Divine Spirit, yet the erring mind of man sees it falsely to be situated there. It is all owing to the delusion of human understanding that naturally leads us to groundless errors and fallacies.

50 The unreal appears as the real extended world to the mind in the same manner as an imaginary utopia appears before it, and as a city is seen in the dream of a sleeping man. 51 One knows nothing of the dream of another sleeping by his side, without being able to penetrate his mind. The yogi sees it clearly by his power of looking into the minds of others.

52 One knows this world who can penetrate the mundane stone where it is represented as the reflection of something in a mirror, which in reality is nothing at all. 53 Although the world appears as an elemental substance to the naked eye, yet when it is observed in its true light, it disappears like Lokaloka Mountain hidden under everlasting darkness. 54 He who sees creation with his spiritual body and his eyes of discernment finds it filled with the pure spirit of God which comprehends and pervades throughout the whole. 55 The eyes of perception see the extinction of the world everywhere because they see only the presence of the Divine Spirit and nothing that is not the spirit, and therefore nothing. 56 What the clear-sighted yogi perceives through his conclusive reasoning is that transcendent truth which is hard to be seen by the triple-eyed Shiva, or even by the god Indra with his thousand eyes.

57 But as I looked into the emptiness of the sky filled with its multitudes of luminous bodies, I saw the earth full with the variety of its productions. Then I began to reflect that I was the lord of all below. 58 Then thinking that I was master of the earth, I became joined with the earth as if it were one with me. Having forsaken my empty intellectual body, I thought myself as the sovereign of the whole. 59 Believing myself as the support and container of this earth, I penetrated deep into its bowels and thought all its hidden mines were parts of me. So I took whatever it contained both below and above it to be the same with me. 60 Being thus endowed in the form of the earth, I became changed to all its forests and woods, which grew like hairs on its body. My bowels were full of jewels and gems and my back was decorated by many a city and town. 61 I was full of villages and valleys, of hills and dales, and of infernal regions and caves. I thought I was the great mountain chain connecting the seas and their islands on either side. 62 The grassy vegetation was the hairy cover of my body and the scattered hills as pimples on it. The great mountain tops were the crests of my crown, or the hundred heads of the infernal snake Shesha. 63 This earth was freely joined by all living beings, came to be parceled by men, and at last oppressed by belligerent kings and worsened by their lines of fighting elephants.

64 The great Himalaya, Vindhya and Sumeru Mountains had all their tops decorated with the falling streams of Ganges and others, sparkling like their pearly necklaces. 65 Caves and forests, the seas and their shores furnished it with beautiful scenes. Desert and marsh lands supplied it with clean linen garments. 66 The ancient waters of the deluge receded to their basins and left the pure inland reservoirs decorated by flowery banks and perfumed by the scented dust of trampled flowers.

67 The earth is ploughed daily by bullocks and sown in the dewy and cold season. It is heated by solar heat and moistened by rainwater. 68 The wide level plains are its broad breast. The lotus lakes are its eyes, the white and black clouds are its turbans, and the canopy of heaven is its dwelling. 69 The great hollow under Lokaloka Mountain forms its wide open mouth and the breathing of animated nature makes the breath of its life. 70 It is surrounded all about and filled inside by beings of various kinds. It is peopled by gods and demons and men on the outside, and inhabited by worms and insects in its inner parts. 71 In the organic poles and cells of its body, it is infested by snakes, asura demons, and reptiles. Aquatic animals of various kinds populate all its oceans and seas. 72 It is filled in all its various parts with animal, plant and mineral substances of infinite varieties, and it is plenteous with provisions for the sustenance of all sorts of beings.