1 Vasishta continued:—
Consciousness is the soul of the body and is situated everywhere in the manner as I have described. There is nothing so self-evident as Consciousness. 2 It is the clear expanse of the sky and it is the vision of the viewer and the viewed. It composes and encompasses the whole world, therefore there is nothing to be had or lost without it.
3 The philosophers of the atheistic school of Brihaspati do not believe in a future state because they are ignorant of it. They believe in the present from their knowledge of it. Thus knowledge or consciousness is the basis for their belief, so we bear no favor or disfavor to their doctrine. 4 The world is only a name for the dream produced in the vacuum of our hidden knowledge. Tell me. What is the need for a disputant to argue his one-sided view of the question? 5 Our consciousness well knows internally what is good or bad and therefore acceptable or not. The pure soul is manifest in the clear emptiness of air where there is neither this or that view of it exhibited to anyone.
6 The conscious soul is immortal, O Rama. It does not have any form like a rock or tree or any animal. Consciousness is a mere void. All being and not being are like the waves and whirling waters in its ocean of eternity. 7 We are all floating in the vacuum of consciousness — you, I and he as well as any other. None of us is ever liable to die, because consciousness is never susceptible of death.
8 Consciousness has nothing to be conscious but of itself. Therefore, O lotus eyed Rama, where can you get a duality, except the single subjectivity of Consciousness? 9 Tell me, O Rama, what is the product or offspring of the empty Intellect? Tell me also if that Intellect could die, from where could we and all others proceed? 10 Tell me what sort of beings are these atheistic disputants, the Saugatas, Lokayatikas and others, if they are devoid of their consciousness, which they so strenuously deny and disallow?
11 This empty consciousness is the same as what is called Brahman. Some call it knowledge and others an empty vacuum. 12 Some call it the spirit, like that of alcoholic liquors, and others use the term embodied spirit (purusha). Others call it the empty Intellect, and Shaivites give it the names of Shiva and the soul. 13 Sometimes it is called only the Intellect, which makes no difference between it and other attributes. The Supreme Soul is ever the same in itself regardless of the name expressed by the ignorance of men.
14 Be my body as big as a hill or crushed to atoms like dust, it is no gain or loss to me in any event because I am the same intellectual body and being forever and ever. 15 Our sires and grand sires are all dead and gone, but their intellects and intellectual parts are not dead and lost with their bodies. For in the case of their death, we would not have their rebirth in us.
16 The empty intellect is neither generated nor destroyed at any time. It is uncreated and imperishable at all times. Say how and when could the eternal void disappear from existence? 17 The infinite and indestructible sphere of Consciousness displays the scene of the universe in its ample space of emptiness. It is without the changes of rising or setting and is ever existent in the Supreme Soul. 18 The Intellect represents the reflection of the world in its clear sphere, like a crystal mountain reflects a wildfire in its translucent space. The Intellect rests forever in the vacuum of the Supreme Soul which is devoid of beginning, middle or end.
19 As the shades of night obscure the phenomena from sight, so the clouds of ignorance darken the bright aspect of the universe as it is represented in the soul divine. 20 As the waters of the ocean roll of themselves in the forms of waves and currents, so does the Intellect exhibit the spectacle of the universe of itself and in itself from all eternity. 21 The Intellect itself is the soul of the body, and like air is never extinct or wanting anywhere. Therefore it is vain to be in fear of one’s death at anytime.
22 It is a great joy to pass from one into another body. Therefore you fools, why do you fear and grieve to die when there is every cause to rejoice at it? 23 If there is no rebirth after death, then it is a completion devoutly to be wished because it eases and releases from heart-burning disease and dread of being and not being, and their repeated sorrows and miseries. 24 Therefore life and death are neither for our happiness or sorrow because neither is anything in reality, only the representations of the intellect.
25 If the dead are to be reborn in new bodies, it is a cause of rejoicing and sorrowing. The death or destruction of a decayed body for a sound one is considered a change for better. 26 If death conveys the meaning of the ultimate dissolution of a person, it is desirable even in that sense because our pains cease altogether. Or if death is used to mean one’s rebirth in a new body and life, then it must be a cause of great rejoicing. 27 If death is dreaded for fear of the punishment awaiting vicious deeds, then this is no different from life where we suffer penalties for our guilt here. Therefore refrain from doing evil for your safety and happiness in both worlds.
28 You all are always crying for fear that you will die, but none of you is ever heard to say that you are going to live again. 29 What is the meaning of life and death, and where are the lands where these are seen to take place? Do they not occur in our consciousness alone, and turn about in the vacuum of the mind? 30 Remain firm with your conscious souls. Eat and drink and act your part with detachment. For being situated in the midst of emptiness, you can have nothing to ask or wish for. 31 Being carried away in the reverie of your dream, and enjoying the gifts of time and changing circumstances, live content with what is got without fear, and know this to be the holiest state.
32 Regardless of the intervening evils that overtake us in every place and time, the holy sage conducts himself with equanimity throughout the tumults of life, like a sleeping man. 33 The holy sage is neither sorry at his death nor glad of his life and longevity. He neither likes nor hates anything, nor does he desire anything whatever. 34 The wise man, who knows all that is knowable, manages to live in this world like an ignorant simpleton. He is as firm and fearless as a rock, and reckons his life and death as rotten and worthless straw.