Chapter 97 — Different Beliefs Lead to the Same Unity; Examples of Self-realized

Vasishta continued:—

The world is only a vision of the Supreme Soul situated in the emptiness of the Divine Mind. The world appears in our consciousness as the idea of Brahman. The delusion of the visionary world, being too tangible to our view, has kept the Supreme Spirit out of our sight, just as the spirit of the wine is kept hidden in the liquor, though it can never be lost.

Our belief in the endless emptiness and in the absence of any positive existence in reality, necessarily results because we discard unreal phenomena as delusion and we recognize the real as incomprehensible. The principal source is that the embodied Consciousness, called the soul, is the supreme cause, and the world proceeds from the unknown principle. The truth of this view of the creation rests wholly upon the opinion of the philosopher Kapila.

The Vedantists believe that the visible world is the form of the all pervasive spirit of God. This opinion regarding the formal world and its inherent principle depends solely upon the conception of these philosophers. The position of the Positive and Atomic philosophers of the Nyaya system is that the world is a collection of particles. All these doctrines are relied upon and maintained by the best belief of every party. Some believe that both present and future worlds are as they are seen and thought to be. The spiritually minded person looks upon the world neither as an entity nor a nonentity. Others acknowledge only the outer world and nothing which is beyond their eyesight. These Charvaka atheists do not believe even in the existence of the intelligent soul within their bodies. There are others who, seeing the constant changes and fluctuations of things with time, attribute omnipotence to time and have become concerned with time with a belief of the vanishing away of the world. 10 The belief of foreigners regarding the resurrection of the soul from the grave, which is built on the analogy of a sparrow flying away from its imprisonment, has gained a firm ground in the minds of men in these countries, and is never doubted by any of them.

11 The tolerant sage looks at all apparent differences alike and takes them in equal light. They know that all these varieties in the world are only manifestations of the one all pervading and unchanging soul. 12 The nature of the world is to go on in its course, so it is natural for the wise to entertain these various opinions regarding the world. The truth, however, is quite mysterious and hard find by inquiry. But it is certain that there is an all-creative power guided by intelligence and design in all its works.

13 That there is one creator of all is the truth arrived at by all godly men and truthful minds. Whoever is certain of this truth is sure to arrive at it without any obstruction. 14 That this world exists and a future one also are the firm beliefs of the faithful, and that their sacred ablutions and oblations to that end never go for nothing. Such assurance on their part is sure to lead them to the success of their object.

15 Reality is an infinite emptiness. That is the conclusion arrived at by the Buddhist. But there is nothing to be gained by this inquiry, nor any good to be derived from a void nothingness. 16 It is Divine Consciousness that everyone seeks, just as they seek a priceless gem or the kalpa, wish fulfilling tree of life. This fills our inner soul with the fullness of the Divine Spirit.

17 The Lord is neither emptiness nor non-emptiness. It is not a nonentity as some maintain. He is omnipotent, and this omnipotence does not abide in him, nor is it without him, but is the same as he. 18 Therefore let everyone rely upon his own belief until he arrives to the true and spiritual knowledge of God. By doing so he will obtain the reward of his faith and therefore he must refrain from fickleness.

19 Therefore consult with the learned and judge with them about the right course. Then accept and follow what is best and correct and reject all what proves to be otherwise. 20 A man becomes wise by knowledge of scriptures, by practicing the conduct of the good, and by associating with the wise and good, wherever such persons may be found. 21 He who serves and attends upon the preachers of sacred scriptures and those who practice good and moral conduct is deemed a wise man, and his company also is to be resorted to by the wise. 22 All living beings are naturally impelled towards whatever tends to their real good, just as the nature of water is to seek its own level. Therefore men should choose the company of the good for their own best good.

23 Men are carried away like bits of straw by the waves in the eventful ocean of the world. Their days pass as rapidly as dew drop falling from blades of grass.

24 Rama asked, “Tell me sage, who are those far seeing persons who, sensing this world to be full of weeds and thorns, come at last by their right judgment to rest in the state of indescribable bliss?”

25 Vasishta replied:—

Scriptures state that among all classes of beings, there are some such persons whose presence sheds a luster as bright as broad daylight. 26 Beside them are others who are quite ignorant of truth, tossed about and whirled up and down like straw by the whirling waters of the dangerous whirlpool of ignorance in the dark and dismal ocean of this world. 27 These are drowned in their enjoyments, lost from the bliss of their souls. They are ever burning in the flames of worldly cares.

Some such are among the gods who are burning on high like mountain trees inflamed by wildfire. 28 Proud demigods were vanquished by hostile gods, cast down into the abyss by Narayana like big elephants into the pit with the ichor of their giddiness. 29 Gandharva songsters show no sign of right reason in them. Being giddy with the wine of melody, they fall into the hands of death just like silly stags caught in a snare. 30 Vidyadharas are mad with their knowledge and do not esteem the esoteric and grand science of divinity for their liberation. 31 Yakshas, impregnable themselves, are ever apt to injure all others on earth. They exercise their harmful powers chiefly upon helpless infants, old men, and other weak and infirm people. 32 Then there are the huge and elephant-like rakshasa demons who have been repeatedly destroyed by Vishnu and will be utterly eradicated by you like a herd of sheep by a powerful lion. 33 Pisacha cannibals are always in quest of human prey. They devour their bodies like fire consumes offerings. Therefore they are in utter darkness of spiritual knowledge. 34 The naaga race that dwells underground resembles stalks of lotuses drowned under the water, or tree roots buried in the earth. Therefore they are quite unconscious of truth. 35 Those of the asura race dwelling in underground cells are like worms and insects groveling in dark underground, utterly ignorant of any knowledge or discrimination. 36 And what must we say of foolish mankind who like the poor ants, are moving busily by night and day in search of a morsel of bread?

37 All living bodies are running up and down in vain expectations, unconsciously gliding over them like drunken men indulging in bad desires, vices and actions. 38 The knowledge of pure truth never enters into the mind of men, just as dust flying over the surface of water never sinks in the water. 39 The holy vows of men are blown away by the blasts of their pride and vanity, just as the husks of rice are blown off by the wind of the threshing mill. 40 Other people without true knowledge are like sorcerers and shudra lower castes. They are addicted to the carnalities of eating and drinking and roll like insects in stink, stench, mud and mire.

41 Among the gods, only Yama, Surya, Chandra, Indra, Rudras, Varuna and Vayu, are said to live liberated forever. So are Brahma, Hari, Brihaspati and Shukra. 42 Among the patriarchs, Daksha, Kasyapa and others are said to be living liberated. Among the seven sages, Narada, Sanaka and the goddess-born Kumara are liberated forever. 43 Among the Danava demons, there were also some who had their emancipation. These were Hiranyaksha, Bali, Prahlada and Sambara, together with Maya, Vritra, Andha, Namuchi, Kesi, Mura and others. 44 Among rakshasas, Vibhisana, Prahasta and Indrajit are held as liberated, as are Sesha, Takshaka, Karkotaka and some others among the naaga serpent race.

45 The liberated are entitled to dwell in the worlds of Brahma and Vishnu, and in the heaven of Indra. There also are some ancestral spirits of the pitris, siddhas and saddhyas who are reckoned as liberated. 46 Among the human race, there are some who are liberated in their lifetime. There are a few princes, saints and brahmins whose names are preserved in the sacred records.

47 There are living beings in multitudes on all sides of us in this earth, but very few are enlightened with true knowledge. There are unnumbered trees and forests growing all around us, bearing their fruit and flowers and foliage to no end. But there is scarcely a desire-yielding kalpa tree to be found among them.