1 Rama, I have told you all this from my own personal perception and not by any guesswork. Through their purely intelligent bodies, yogis like ourselves have come to the clear sight of these things in nature which are otherwise unknowable to the material body or mind. 2 Thus the world of which I have spoken appears to us as in a dream, and not in any other aspect as it is viewed by others. 3 Now whether the world is seen in the light of a dream or any other thing is of no matter to us. It is the business of the learned to speak of its situation and what it relates to.
4 There are the two Meru poles situated at the utmost extremities of the north and south of the world. It is the business of the learned to inquire into the endless kinds of beings lying between them. 5 These varieties are well known to the people of those particular parts, but not to us here where they do not appear in their native beauty. 6 The two poles standing at the farthest extremities limit the earth with its seven continents and seas, and stretch no farther beyond them.
7 Now hear, O Rama, that the whole body of water on earth is ten times as much as the extent of the two continents that are surrounded by it. 8 The two continents attract the encircling waters around them, just as a magnet attracts iron needles. The water upholds the continents just like the wish-fulfilling kalpa tree supports the fruit upon it. 9 All things on earth are supported by it, just as the fruit of a tree is supported by its stem. Therefore everything on earth falls down on it, like fruit falling upon the ground.
10 Far below the surface of the water there is a latent heat which is always burning without any fuel. This latent heat is as still as the air and as clear as the flame of fire. 11 At a distance of ten times from it, there is the vast region of air. As many times far away from that, there is the open space of transparent emptiness. 12 At a great distance from that, there is the infinite space of the emptiness of Divine Spirit. It is neither dark nor bright, but full of Divine Consciousness. 13 This endless emptiness of the Supreme Spirit is without beginning, middle or end. It is called the Universal Soul, the great Intellect, and perfect bliss.
14 Again there are numberless globes in the distant parts of these spheres that appear and disappear from view by turns. 15 But in reality, there is nothing that appears or disappears in the uniformly bright soul of Brahman where everything continues in the same manner throughout all eternity.
16 I have thus related to you, Rama, all about the phenomenal worlds that are perceptible to us. Now hear me tell you about what became of Vipaschit in Lokaloka Mountain.
17 Being led by his former impressions and accustomed habit, he kept wandering about the top of the mountain. But afterwards he fell down in a dark and dismal pit. 18 He found himself lying as dead when the birds of air, as big as mountain peaks, descended upon his dead body, which they tore to pieces and devoured. 19 But as he died on the holy mountain, he still had a spiritual body. He did not feel the pains which are inevitable upon the loss of the physical body, but retained his clear consciousness all along. 20 Yet as his self-consciousness did not attain the transcendent perceptivity of his soul, he remembered the grossness of his past acts and deeds and was conscious of them, as any living body.
21 Rama asked, “Sage, how is it possible for the disembodied mind to perform the outward actions of the body? How can our spiritual consciousness have any kind of perception of anything?”
22 Vasishta replied:—
As desire drives a householder man from his house, and as imagination leads the mind to many places and objects, so the mind of this king was led from place to place. 23 As the mind is moved or led by delusion, dream, imagination, error or misapprehension and recital of stories, so the mind of the king was led to believe whatever appeared before him.
24 It is the spiritual, intellectual body that is subject to these fallacies, but the human mind forgets its spiritual nature in course of time and thinks on its materiality. 25 Upon disappearance of these fallacies, like the mistaken idea of a snake in a rope, only the spiritual body appears and not any physical one. 26 Consider well, O Rama, that the spiritual body is the only real substantiality. All that appears to exist beside consciousness does not exist at all.
27 The mind of a man going from one place to another passes quietly over intermediate places and is quite unconscious of them. Such is the case with the intellect, which passes to endless objects without ever moving from its support or changing itself to any other form. 28 Therefore tell me. Where is there a duality? What object is there that deserves your friendship or hatred when all this totality is only one Infinite Deity known as transcendent understanding? 29 Transcendental understanding is that calm and quiet state of Consciousness which is without the workings of the mind. Though King Vipaschit was settled in his spiritual body, he had not yet attained that state of transcendental knowledge.
30 Lacking this perception, he saw a vastness in his mind. With his spiritual body, he saw a dark gloom, like what appears to a fetus confined in the embryo. 31 Amidst this gloom, he saw the cosmic egg split in two, and then perceived the surface of the earth situated in its lower hemisphere. It was a solid substance, bright as gold and extending millions of leagues. 32 At the end of this he saw the waters eight times in extent as that of the land. These, in the form of crusts of the oceans, formed the two hemispheres of the earth. 33 After passing over this, he reached the region of light, blazing with the sun and stars emitting flames of fire issuing from the vault of heaven. 34 Having passed that region of fire, without being burnt or hurt in his spiritual body, he was led by his mind to another region where he thought and felt himself carried by the winds to his former home. 35 As he was carried in this manner, he felt himself to be of a spiritual body. For what other than the mind can lead anybody from one place to another?
36 With this conviction of himself, the patient king passed over the region of the winds. At last he got to the sphere of vacuum, which was ten times in extent to that of the former. 37 Passing over this, he found the infinite space of the emptiness of Brahman in which all is situated and from where all had proceeded, which is nothing and yet something, of which nothing can be known or attributed. 38 Moving along this empty air, he was carried far and farther onward in his aerial journey until he thought in his mind that he could see all the other spheres of earth and water and fire and air which he had passed over before. 39 There were formations of worlds and their repeated creations and dissolutions to be seen. There were retinues of gods and men, and those of hills and all other things going on in endless succession. 40 There was a recurrence of the primary elements, and their assumption of substantial forms, and repetitions of creations and reappearances of worlds and the sides of the compass.
41 Thus the king is still going on in his journey through the infinite void of Brahman, finding successions of creations and their dissolutions to no end. 42 He has no cessation from his wanderings owing to his conviction and habit of thinking the reality of the world. Nor does he get rid of his ignorance, which also is from God.
43 Whatever you see in your waking or in your dream is the discernment of the Divine Soul which ever displays these sights in itself. 44 This world is an apparition of our ignorance, like the phantoms that are seen in deep darkness. But know that the transparent intellect of God represents it so and will ever do the same. 45 Both the dark sight of the gross world and the clear light of its transparency proceed from the same mind of God. So it is impossible to conceive whether it is the one or the other, or both alike. 46 Hence, O Rama, this king, uncertain of the transparency of the Divine Spirit, has been wandering forever in the dark maze of his preconceived worlds, just like a stray deer wanders in the tangled wilderness.