Chapter 103 — Consciousness Creates Both Knowledge and Ignorance; Praise for the Yoga Vasishta; — Impossibility of Causation or Materiality
1 Vasishta continued:—
Consciousness, without beginning or end, the indescribable light and its reflection shining forever serenely bright, is never destroyed or extinguished in any way. 2 Such is Consciousness and such is the soul which is also indestructible. For if it were destroyed at all at anytime, there could be no recreation of the world or any rebirth of human souls. 3 All things are subject to change and have many varieties. But not so Consciousness, which is ever immutable and always perceived to be the same in all individuals.
4 We all feel the coldness of frost, the heat of fire, and the sweetness of water, but we have no feeling of any kind regarding Consciousness, except that we know it to be quite clear and transparent like open air. 5 If the intellectual soul is destroyed with the destruction of the body, then why should you lament its loss? Why not rejoice at its annihilation which releases you from the pains of life? 6 The loss of the body involves no loss on the empty intellect. Living friends can see the departed souls of savages hovering as ghosts over cemeteries. 7 Should the soul exist for the same duration as the body, then why does a dead body, while it is still not rotten and is entire, not move about? 8 If seeing ghosts is a feeling inherent within the mind, then tell me. Why does a man not often see ghosts, except on the occasion of the death of his friends? 9 Should it be a misconception inborn with the mind to see the ghosts of departed friends, then tell me. Why don’t you see the ghosts of friends who die in a distant country, but only of those who die before your eyes?
10 Hence Consciousness, being the soul of all and everywhere, is not confined in any place. It is known to be of the same nature as everyone thinks it to be. 11 It is unconfined and unrestrained anywhere, and is of the nature of one compact consciousness that is felt by all, and is the cause of our knowledge of all things. 12 There can be no other which may be supposed to be the prime cause of all at the beginning of creation. Should there be any other that is supposed to be such, let the philosophers now declare it before me.
13 There was nothing uncreated before creation, nor was there anything created in the beginning. The duality that now presents itself in the form of the universe is only a reflection of unity. 14 Phenomena are no more than reflections or copies of ideas and our impression of phenomena being a visible something is as false as all other false sights mistaken for true reality. 15 Phenomena are a wonderful display of almighty power exhibited in the sphere of Divine Consciousness. Wakeful understanding sees these visible phenomena as one sees sights in dream, but never in the ignorance of sound sleep.
16 Even knowledge and ignorance amount to the same thing because the difference is only verbal and not real. Nothing visible to the eye is substantial in its essential nature. 17 Whatever was thought and said to be seen by others is the effect of their error and lack of reason. Now if they are disproved by right reason, where can you find the visible anymore?
18 Therefore employ your reasoning to investigate spiritual knowledge. Your diligent and persevering inquiry will secure to your success in both worlds (knowledge and ignorance). 19 Inquiry into spiritual knowledge will dispel your ignorance, but you will never be successful without constant practice. 20 Leave aside all anxieties and their causes and devote every bit and moment of time observing one’s sacred vows day by day. The study of sacred scriptures with due attention leads a man to his welfare in both worlds. 21 Whether one is proficient or not in his spiritual knowledge, he may still improve on it by constant discussion of the subject with his superiors. 22 Whoever requires this precious treasure must exert effort to attain it, or else he must leave off altogether if he tired in his pursuit. 23 He must keep from reading heretical works and study authentic scriptures. Then he will gain peace of mind as one obtains victory in warfare. 24 The course of the mind, like that of a stream of water, runs in the channels of wisdom and of folly, forming a lake wherever it runs more rapidly, and settling as in its bed.
25 There was never a better scripture than this, nor is any like this now in existence or likely to be in fashion in the future. Therefore let the student reflect well upon its teachings to improve his understanding. 26 Whoever studies it well will find his mind instantly elevated with superior knowledge, unlike the effect of a curse or blessing which comes too late upon its recipient. 27 Knowledge of this scripture is calculated to do you more good than you can derive from the tender care of a father or mother or the efficacy of your pious actions.
28 Know, O gentle Rama, that this world is the prison of your soul and its bondage is the poisonous pain of your mind. There is no release or relief other than through the knowledge of your soul. 29 The dark illusion of gross ignorance has misled you to a sense of your individual ego. Only by reflecting upon the meaning of the scriptures can you can be freed from your deplorable state.
30 The world is a hollow cave in which the horrible snake of illusion lies in ambush. Illusion feeds on the empty air of vain enjoyments that appear pleasant to taste at first, but prove to be as fleeting as empty air in the end. 31 It is a pity that your days fly past as quickly as the wind and you are unaware as they come and go. While you are occupied with your activities, you are fostering your own death with your negligence. 32 We all live in death, our lives sustained by alternate hopes and fears until the few days of our lives end in death. 33 The approach of death is attended with extreme pain and remorse. The inner parts of the body are separated from the outer, and the outer must be smeared with dust such as sandalwood paste.
34 They who purchase wealth and honor at the expense of their lives are grossly ignorant and false. They avoid gaining their permanent bliss by the teachings of the scriptures. 35 Why should a man bear the feet of his evil enemies on his head when he can attain his highest station of divine bliss in the sphere of his intellect, and with little or no pain? 36 O men, forsake your vanity and ignorance, your persistence in the course of your baseness, then by the knowledge of the great soul you will gain your redemption from the sufferings of the world. 37 I am preaching to you constantly, day and night, only for the sake of your own good. Take my advice to turn your souls to the eternal soul by forsaking the knowledge of your egoism for that of your souls. 38 If now you neglect to take steps to cure the evil of your impending death, then O silly man, what preparation can you make for the hour of death when you are on your sickbed?
39 There is no other work for true knowledge of the soul except this. Therefore this must be acceptable to you as well as we accept collecting sesame seeds for their oil. 40 This book will light your spiritual knowledge, just as a lamp lights up a dark room. Drink it deep and it will enliven your soul. Keep it by your side and it will please you like a consort. 41 A man having self-knowledge, but untaught in the scriptures, has many things unintelligible and doubtful which he will find clearly expounded here in the sweetest language. 42 This is the best among the principal works of the scriptures. It is easily intelligible and delightful. There is nothing new here, only what is well known in spiritual philosophy.
43 Let a man read the many stories contained in this book with delight. He undoubtedly will find this book the best of its kind. 44 Whatever has not yet been explained in full light, even to scholars learned in all the scriptures, will be found clearly explained in this book, just as they find gold appearing amidst sand.
45 The authors of scriptures are not to be despised at anytime or in any country, but the reader should employ his reason and judgment to dive into the true meaning of the writing. 46 Those who are led by their ignorance or envy, or moved by their pride and delusion to disregard and neglect this scripture through their lack of judgment, are to be regarded as killers of their souls, unworthy of the company of the wise and good.
47 I know you well, Rama, and I know my audience and each of your capacities to learn and my capacity to instruct you. I like to teach you these things because of my compassion for you, as I am naturally communicative and kindly disposed to my listeners. 48 I see your understanding develop and therefore I am interested in communicating my knowledge to you. I am a man and not a gandharva or rakshasa. Therefore I bear a fellow feeling towards you all. 49 I see you all as intelligent beings, pure in your souls. I have become this friendly to you because of these merits in you.
50 Now my friends, learn speedily to realize the truth of your detachment to everything that you see in this world. 51 Whoever neglects to remedy his diseases of death and hell fire in this life, what will he do to avert them when they are irremediable and when he goes to a place where no remedy is to be found? 52 Until you feel a distaste for everything in this world, you will not find an end to your desires. 53 O great intellects, there is no other means to elevate your soul other than subjugating your desires to the minimum. 54 If you think there is anything in this world that is of any good to you, it will only serve, at best, to bind your soul, and then it will disappear like the horns of a rabbit.
55 All earthly goods seem to be good when they are untried and least understood. But whatever seems something in the end proves to be no such thing, or tends to your ruin. 56 All worldly existences prove to be nothing by right reasoning. But how they are real and what they are, whether self-existent or made, or permanent or temporary, cannot be rightly known.
57 To say all worldly existences are self-existent because we can assign no cause to them, or because they were already created in the beginning, proves that all existence is the uncreated and ever lasting Supreme Being itself. 58 There is no cause for consciousness in the Being that is without and beyond the senses. The mind is not the cause of objects that are sensed because the mind is only the sixth organ. 59 How can the one unspeakable Lord be the cause of these varieties of things passing under various names? How can reality have these unrealities in itself, and how can the Infinite Void contain these finite solid bodies?
60 The nature of a plastic body is to produce something plastic, just as the seeds of fruit bring forth only their own kind. But how is it possible for an amorphous void to produce solid forms from its emptiness, or the solid body to issue forth from a formless mind? 61 How can you expect to derive a solid seed from a void nothing? Therefore it is a deception to think that the material world is produced from the immaterial and formless void of empty consciousness.
62 There are no conditions of creator or creation in the Supreme Being. These states are the fabrications of many words and reveal the ignorance of their inventors. 63 The lack of supporting causes that are coexistent with the prime cause disproves the existence of an active agent and his act of creation. This truth is evident even to children. 64 Knowing that only God is the cause, but acknowledging causes for of the earth and other elements, is as absurd as saying that the sun shines and yet it is dark.
65 To say that the world is formed of atoms is as absurd as believing in a bow made from the horn of a rabbit. 66 If the meeting and arrangement of dull, inert and unconscious material atoms form the world, then it would of its own accord make a mountainous heap here and a bottomless deep there in the air. 67 The particles of this earth and the atoms of air and water are constantly flying about from place to place in the forms of dust and humidity. Why do they not yet form a new hill or lake anywhere again? 68 Invisible atoms are never seen or known from where or how they are, nor is it possible for formless atoms to unite together and form an idea.
69 The creation of the world cannot be the work of an unintelligent cause. Nor can this frail and unreal world be the work of an intelligent maker because only a fool makes something for nothing. 70 Unconscious air, composed of atoms with a motion of its own, is never moved by reason or sense, nor is it possible to expect air particles to act wisely. 71 We are all composed of the intellectual soul and all individuals are made of empty selves. They all appear to us like the figures of people appearing in our dream.
72 Therefore there is nothing that is created and this world is not in existence. The whole is the clear void of the intellect which shines with the glare of the Supreme Soul in itself. 73 The empty universe rests completely in the vacuum of Consciousness, just as force, fluidity and emptiness rest respectively in wind, water, and open air. 74 The form of the intellectual vacuum is like that of the airy mind which passes to distant climates in a moment, or it is like that of consciousness which is seated in the hollow of the heart, and yet is conscious of everything in itself. 75 Such is the empty nature of all things. They are perceived in their intellectual forms only in intellect. So the world is an empty idea that is only imprinted in the intellect.
76 The revolving nature of Consciousness exhibits the picture of the universe on its surface. Therefore the world is identical with the empty nature of the intellect, and nothing else. 77 Therefore the world is the counterpart of the intellectual sphere. There is no difference in the empty nature of both the world and the intellect. They are both the same thing presenting two aspects, just as the wind and its vibrations are one and the same thing.
78 As a wise man going from one country sees all varieties around him, yet he knows he is the same quiet and unvaried soul everywhere. 79 A wise man remains aware of the true nature of the elements. Hence the true nature of the elements is never forgotten from the mind of a wise man.
80 The world is only an empty sphere of reflections resembling a curved, hollow reflector. It is a formless void in its nature, unimpaired and indestructible in its essence. 81 There is nothing that is born or dies in it. There is nothing which having come to being, is ever annihilated anywhere. The world is not separate from the emptiness of Consciousness, and Consciousness is as empty as the insubstantial world itself. 82 The world never is, nor was, nor shall ever be in existence. It is only a silent appearance passing in the intellectual emptiness of the Supreme Spirit. 83 Divine Consciousness alone shines forth in its glory as the mind exhibits its images of cities and the like in dream. In like manner, our minds show us the image of world like day dreams in our waking state.
84 If there is no physical body in the beginning, how could any physical body exist at any time? Therefore there was no corporeality whatever except in the dream of the Divine Mind. 85 The Supreme Consciousness first dreams of its self-born body, and that we have sprung from that body and have ever afterwards continued to see dream after dream to no end.
86 It is impossible for us with all our efforts to turn our minds to the great God because our minds are not of the nature of Divine Consciousness, but born in us like swellings on the thyroid only for our own destruction.
87 The god Brahma is not a real person, only a fictitious name for Hiranyagarbha, the totality of souls. But ever since he is regarded as a personal being, the world is considered as body and he the soul of all. 88 But in truth all is unreal, from the highest heaven to the lowest pit. The world is as false and frail as a dream which rises vainly before the mind and vanishes in a minute. 89 The world rises in the emptiness of Consciousness and sets therein like a dream. When it does not rise in the enlightened intellect, it is like a dream disappearing from the waking mind and flying before daylight.
90 Although the world is known to be false, yet it is perceived and appears to us as true. In the same manner, the false appearances in our dreams appear true to our consciousness at the time of dreaming. 91 As the formless dream presents many forms before the mind, so the formless world assumes many shapes before our sight. All these are perceived in our consciousness, which is as minute compared to infinite space and sky as an atom of dust is small compared to Mount Meru.
92 But how can this consciousness, which is only another name for Brahman, be any bit smaller than the sky? How can the empty world have any solid form when it has no cause with form to form it so? 93 Where was there any matter or mould, and where from this material world was it molded and formed? Whatever we see in our waking minds during daylight is similar to the baseless dreams we see in the empty space of our sleeping minds in the darkness of the night. 94 There is no difference between waking and sleeping dreams, just as there is none between empty air and sky. Whatever is pictured in the sphere of the intellect, the same is represented as an aerial castle in the dream.
95 As the wind is the same as its vibration, so the rest and vibration of the spirit are both alike, just as air and emptiness are one and the same thing. 96 Hence it is only the intellectual sphere which shows the picture of the world. The whole is a void without any support. It is the splendor of the light of the intellect. 97 The whole universe is in a state of perfect rest and tranquility, without rising or setting. It is as a quiet and indestructible as a block of stone, ever shining serenely bright.
98 Therefore tell me, from where and what are these existent beings? From where does this understanding of their existence come? Where is there a duality or unity? From where do ideas of egoism and distinct personalities come?
99 Be ever prompt in your actions and dealings, with an utter indifference to everything and an unconcern about unity or duality. Preserve an even and cool disposition of your inner mind. Remain in the state of nirvana with your extinguished passions and feelings, free from disease and anxiety. Be aloof from the visible and remain in pure Consciousness only.
100 This chapter is a lecture on entity and nonentity and the establishment of the spirituality of the universe.