Chapter 137 — An Unnamed Sage Teaches the Hunter; Travel through Breath into a Student’s Body to Investigate the States of Waking, Sleeping, Dreaming and the Fourth State

The hunter said, “Instruct me now, O sage, on the way from misery to my salvation. Teach me the best mode of conduct, which may neither be too difficult nor too easy to practice.”

The sage replied, “Now be submissive to me and throw away your bow and arrows. Bring yourself to the silence and conduct of sages. Be free from trouble and live here.”

Vasishta related:—

Being thus advised by the sage, the hunter threw away his bow and arrows. Bringing himself to the conduct of sages, he remained still even without asking for food. In the course of a few days, his mind turned to the investigations of scriptures, just like a full blown flower enters into the minds of men by means of its far smelling fragrance. Once, O Rama, he asked his teacher to tell him how and in what manner outward objects come to be seen within us in our dream.

The sage said:—

This very question, my good fellow, how these shadows of things beyond us arise like the bodies of clouds in the sphere of our minds during sleep, has been asked of me before. I applied myself to meditation and practiced concentration into this matter. I steadily sat with legs folded in lotus posture, intent upon investigating this matter. Sitting like this, I stretched my thought all about and afar, then retracted them into the recess of my mind, just as the rising sun stretches out his beams in the morning and afterwards draws them back into its disc in the evening.

I sent forth my breaths in quest of knowledge, and then called them back to myself. I continued exhaling and inhaling my breaths, as flowers let out and contract their fragrance by turns. 10 My mind being connected to my breath, it rested in the air before me. Then my mind was with the air inhaled by the student sitting before me. Then it entered into his nostrils. 11 Thus, my breath mixed with his entered into his heart, like a snake is drawn in by the breath of a bear sitting with his wide open mouth at the entrance of his den.

12 Thus I entered into his heart through the vehicle of my breath. My folly of following my breath into his heart placed me at risk of being stuck there. 13 I passed through arteries and aorta, and was led through all the channels and blood-vessels of all the nerves and veins, both large and small and inside and outside the body. 14 At last I was confined within both sides of the rib cage. I had fleshy masses of liver and spleen presented before me. This was the painful home for my living soul and these were like pots full of meat set before it.

15 My intestines coiled within me with a hissing sound. They were surrounded by a flood of red hot blood continually flowing and boiling, like the waves of the ocean heated under hot sunshine. 16 I had fresh supplies of sweet scents constantly carried to my nostrils by the blowing breeze. These tended to infuse life to my body and consciousness to my soul. 17 But then I was tormented in my dark, dismal prison as in hell by boiling blood, bile and phlegm.

18 The free and slow passage of the vital airs through the lungs regulates the circulation of blood in all parts of the body. This determines the state of the bodily humors, a derangement of which tends to create future diseases. 19 The vital airs, pushing against each other, burst and explode within their cavities. Meanwhile, the digestive fire burns like an undersea fire through the tubular stomach, resembling the hollow pipe of a lotus stalk. 20 The external air carries particles of things through the outer organs of sense into the body. These then enter into the mind, either in their gross or pure state, like thieves enter a house at night. 21 Internal winds carry the blood with digested body juices through the intestines to all parts of the body, just as the outer air carries feint and loud sounds of songs in all direction.

22 Then I entered his heart, which is difficult to access. I passed inside with as much jostling as a strong man making his way in a densely crowded group of men. 23 Soon afterwards I found the sight of some shining substance at a distance from the heart, just as a man scorched by sunshine finds the sight of the cooling moon in the gloom of night. 24 It was the spiritual light which, like a mirror, reflects all these triple worlds in itself. It throws its rays upon all things. It is the essence of whatever there is in existence, and the receptacle of all living souls. 25 The scriptures say that the living soul or life pervades the whole body, just as a flower’s fragrance runs through all parts of it. Yet life chiefly resides in the heat of the heart, just as a flower’s fragrance dwells in the pistils after the blossom is expanded by the solar heat.

26 Then I crept unperceived into that heat, which was the cell of the living soul. There I was preserved from extinction by the vital airs, like a lamp burning in a lantern is protected from being blown out by its interior airs. 27 I entered into that heat-like fragrance passing through air, or like a hot wind pushing cold air, or like water rushing into a pot. 28 I passed into the second sheath which is as bright as moonlight and as clear as a spot of white cloud. Thereafter I ascended to the fair sheaths known by the names of the cells of butter, sweets, and milk-white water.

29 Being tired with my difficult passage through these sheaths, I returned and rested in the genial warmth of my heart, where I saw the full view of the world appearing like a dream before my sight. 30 It showed the images of the sun and moon and pictures of seas and hills with the shapes of gods and demigods and human forms. It also presented the sights of cities and countries and the face of the sky on all sides around. 31 It also exhibited oceans with their islands, the course of time and seasons, and all moving and unmoving objects to my view. 32 This vision of my dream continued steadfast and quite alike even after I was awake. I remained in the same state after my sleep as I had been when sleeping. What I saw in my waking state was what I had seen in my sleep.

33 Now listen to me, O hunter, what I did then. I said to myself, “What is this waking dream that I see before me?” As I was thinking in this manner, I had this knowledge of it awakened in me. 34 Truly it is the representation of Divine Consciousness. It is the manifestation of God himself. All these objects under different names are only manifestations of the Divine Spirit in various shapes in the world.

35 Wherever there is the substance of Consciousness, impressed upon it is the cosmic image of God in its empty form, which it never forsakes. 36 “Ah! now I understand,” I thought to myself, “that all these appearances passing under the names of the world are mere representations of Consciousness in the form of a passing dream.” 37 What we call a dream is a little expansion of the essence of Consciousness. A greater expansion is what we call waking, but both dream and waking are displays of the very same intellectual essence.

38 A dream is said to be dream in the waking state, and not while one continues in his dream state when it appears as waking. So our waking is only a dream, and the two states are waking dream and sleeping dream. 39 Even our death is a dream that continues with our consciousness even after our death. The consciousness that resides in the body does not die even in a hundred deaths of the body. For who has ever heard of the death of anyone’s soul? 40 This consciousness is a void and empty substance, dwelling in and expanding with the body. It is infinite and undivided, and remains indivisible and indestructible, both with as well as without the destructible body.

41 The empty particle of consciousness, indestructible by nature, shines forth eternally and without limit by itself. It has the so-called world for its core and sap and is ever attached to itself. 42 The emptiness of consciousness contains the minute particles of ideas within its space, each of which represents a part of the great variety of objects that compose its totality. 43 The soul, when separated from consciousness of visible phenomena, rests in its receptacle of heart. It sees various sights in its dream which consciousness unfolds before it.

44 Again, the soul is inclined to the outer mind of sights exposed before it by its own intellect. It comes to see visions of external objects which we call the world of phenomena. 45 In the same state, the soul sees in itself the sights of all things both within and without it, such as this earth and sky, the winds and waters, the hills and cities, and all things spread on all sides. 46 As the sun situated in the heaven above also appears reflected in full blaze in waters below, so the soul is situated both inside and outside in the form of the world.

47 Therefore knowing that the intellectual soul sees the internal dream and the external world in itself, whoever abstains from craving anything is surely blessed. 48 The soul cannot be cut into parts or burned away. Whoever says otherwise must be betrayed by the delusion of duality, like a child deceived by a deceitful yaksha demon. 49 He who knows his inner soul sees the world internally in itself is said to be dreaming in himself. Whoever finds his soul looking outwardly on the external world is said to be waking.

50 Having come to this realization regarding dreaming and waking states, I was curious to know about the state of sound sleep. I continued my investigations. 51 I thought, “What good is the sight of the visible to me? Better remain quiet in myself because thoughtless forgetfulness and consciousness of Self is true detachment or the sleep state (sushupti).”

52 As we never think of the hair and nails of the body, though they are well known to belong to and to be attached to it, so the mind, in its state of sound sleep when it rests in its self consciousness alone, is quite unconscious of all material and immaterial objects in nature. 53 Tired with the wanderings and sights of my waking and dreaming states, I sought my quiet rest in the state of thoughtless self consciousness. This is the sole aim and end of sound sleep. There is no other meaning of the sleep state (sushupti).

54 It is possible to have this sound sleep state (sushupta) even in the waking state by our determination of thinking of nothing except that of sitting quietly in the abstracted trance state. 55 The state of abstraction is called sushupti (sound sleep), but when sleep is light (vikshepa) it is called sleep or dream (swapnam). 56 Having settled by mental inactivity into the trance-like sushupti state, I was resolved to seek after the turiya or fourth state of supreme bliss. With this resolution, I set out in search of it with my best introspection and diligence.

57 I tried my utmost, but I could get no indication of its true form and feature. In the end I found that it was not to be had without our clear-sightedness, just as sunlight is imperceptible to the dim sighted eye. 58 Clear sightedness is when our view of the world is utterly lost. Then we see from the perspective in which the world exists in the Divine Mind. 59 Therefore the three states of waking, dreaming and sound sleep are all included under this fourth state. In that fourth state, the world is seen as it exists, in the light of a nothingness.

60 This, then, is the turiya or ultimate view of the world: that it is produced by no cause from nothing. It is Brahman himself that exists from all eternity in this state of tranquility. 61 The impossibility of preexistent or primordial causes precludes the possibility of anything being produced or created. It is only the reasoning of the intellect that gives rise to the conception of creation, just as it is the nature of water to assume its fluidity and exhibit its expansion.