Chapter 161 — Vasishta Explains Dreams and Waking Are identical; Nirvana Is that Realization

Rama said, “Tell me sage. Were these various events in the lives of the hermit and hunter due to any cause, or did they arise spontaneously?”

Vasishta replied:—

These events are like the appearance of whirling currents in the vast ocean of the unknown Soul. They are continuously rotating in their airy forms in the whirlpool of the soul of their own accord. As the vibrating particles of air are always in motion, so the current of thoughts is continually in action in the vast emptiness of consciousness. Whatever issues from its source in any shape retains its original form until it is converted or restrained to another form. The aerial thoughts of the empty mind remain until they are drawn, painted or exhibited in another form.

The empty essence of Divine Consciousness inheres in every form it exhibits and derives from itself. It is like the substance of a body that permeates throughout all its organs and limbs, or the woody substance of a tree that is diffused throughout all the leaves and branches that shoot forth from it. Brahman appears to remain permanent in some existences, such as in the four elemental forms of earth, water, fire and air. In other existences, he seems transient and impermanent, such as the frail bodies of mortal bodies, all of which abide in their aerial state in the empty spirit.

Therefore, all these various objects are only reflections of Consciousness impressed upon the soul. It is impossible for us to determine which of these is substantial or insubstantial or real or unreal. All these are altogether unknowable except that we know them to be reflections in the emptiness of Consciousness. You who are totally ignorant of everything, do you think this visible world is real or unreal? Whatever you see anywhere in the universe is only an exhibition in the emptiness of Divine Consciousness. What use is it to you who know the truth whether you believe the world is real or unreal? Therefore rely upon your belief of it as it is.

10 These forms of reflections rise of themselves in the Divine Mind, just as waves and billows exhibit themselves on the surface of the sea. They are the spontaneous offspring of the Divine Spirit. They are of themselves both causes and effects. 11 The display of the transcendent emptiness of the Divine Mind is called its will or volition, or its imagination and creation, or the creation of its imagination. Hence this world is to be understood under anyone of these interpretations, and not as being composed of earth and water.

12 This appearance of the Divine Mind appears in this manner and nothing besides. The Divine itself resides in Divinity and passes under the title of Ignorance from our ignorance of its nature. 13 There is no material grossness in the integrity of Divine Intellect. It is purely empty and immaterial and composes the whole universe. This is transcendental knowledge and its perfection is liberation.

14 The reflection of empty Intellect spreads over the whole universe. It is subtle and uncompressed, ever calm and quiet, and passes by the name of “world.” 15 Only the meditative man whose eyesight is fixed in his meditation, whose body is emaciated in penance, and whose mind is abstracted from the concrete and absorbed in reasoning, is capable of seeing the Intellectual world.

16 Whatever the empty essence of Consciousness exhibits in any form at any place, the same appears to be present there of its own nature. 17 The unthinking man and unreasonable soul sees only false sights in the midst of skies, just as one who is dim-sighted and blind by birth always sees a double moon in the sky. 18 Whatever is seen anywhere is nothing other than the unpolluted Brahman himself. The empty sphere of Consciousness, being forever clear and transparent, is never soiled by any foulness of gross matter. 19 The intellect, without forsaking its pure form of self-consciousness, exhibits varieties of gross objects in the form of dreams within itself. So also, our consciousness of the world is like our dreams.

20 By comparing the statements of the scriptures with one another, and weighing them well with acute judgment, one will find his rest in himself. But the man of little understanding will not find it so. 21 The ignorance that floats upon the sea of your understanding does not contaminate my mind like dirt polluting a pure and clear stream. 22 As there is neither the earth nor any earthly thing to be encountered in our sleep, though we are conscious of them in our dream, so also the phenomenal world has no real existence, though we are conscious of it in our waking. 23 As the clearness of the Intellect, like sunlight or flaming fire, shows us many things in our sleeping dreams, so does its light exhibit the visible to our view in our waking dreams by day. 24 There is no difference between the two states of dreaming and waking. Both are of the same nature. The difference lies in how we understand them.

25 The waking man never understands his waking state to be a dream, but the dead man who rises again to life in the next world thinks that his past life was a dream. 26 People generally consider dreams to be of short duration and waking life to be of long duration, and that is a difference between dreaming and being awake. But while experiencing either, they both seem real and are similar to the other. 27 Sleeping and waking dreams, both having the same quality of presenting false objects to view, necessarily are of the same nature. There is no difference whatever in their outward features, just as there is no elder or younger between twin brothers. 28 Whatever is the waking dream, the same is waking in a dream. There is no difference behind the two states of waking and dreaming.

29 We know the inconsistency of the hundreds of dreams we have in the course of our lifetimes. In the same way, an unredeemed and unenlightened soul sees hundreds of waking states. 30 Living mortals may remember many sleeping dreams they have seen throughout their lives. In the same way the immortalized souls of siddha spiritual masters remember a number of waking dreams they have seen in their past incarnations in different bodies. 31 Thus our waking is as valid as our dreaming. Our dreams are equivalent to waking. They correlate with one another both in quality and our perception of them.

32 As the word “worlds” and “phenomena” mean the same, so the words “dreaming” and “waking” mean the same and are interchangeable. 33 As a fairyland city in a dream is as clear as the open space of the Intellect, so is this world an empty void without the materiality that ignorance attributes to it.

34 The world is a empty substance which ignorance mistakes for gross materiality. Therefore I am as free as air and any other airy thing in the world. Only my imagination binds me to my gross materiality. 35 Therefore do not confine your free and unconfined nature in the bondage of gross matter. Never change the pure vacuum of your self to a material stuff, or impair your formless and intellectual self in a gross and finite form.

36 There can be no bondage or liberation of anything whatsoever in this visible world of our ignorance because everything is a mere reflection of the formless void of Divine Consciousness. 37 Here there is no display of ignorance any no misconception of anything. There is no bondage or release of anything whatever and there is nothing that exists or is nonexistent. 38 For us there is no ignorance or knowing of anything because it is only uncreated Consciousness that manifests itself in this manner. It reflects all forms in itself, as if they were all its dreams or creations.

39 As a man keeps his mind in check as he passes from one place to another, so should we keep our minds quiet and still between our sight of the visible and our dreams. 40 One has his body and mind very quiet and calm in his sleep at night, and in the delay of acting on his sights and thoughts in the states of his waking and dreaming. This same state of lacking sense perception is what is called a yogi’s nirvana.

41 Know that our knowledge of a difference between objects is equally untrue as that of our waking and dreaming states. It is impossible for us to conceive of any matter existing in immaterial Consciousness. 42 Our knowledge of identity and diversity proceed from the same empty intellect which combines the unity and duality in unbroken union and harmony in itself. 43 Knowing all as parts of an undivided whole, all these are the same whatever they appear to be. Hence the visible, however diversified they may appear, are all one and the same principle. 44 Hence the ethereal sphere of Brahman contains all in itself, who as an aerial point concentrates all in it. Creation, together with all its varieties, is the unity of Brahman.

45 Knowing all things as full of God, you must reject them all and rest yourself in the empty Intellect as the great rock of your refuge.

46 Now, O fortunate Rama, remain to act in conformity with the rules of your order and the laws of society and the requirements of your position and dignity. Continue to go on, eat and drink and rest in your usual course, rely upon your desired object, and always rest in the glorious and holy lord of your intellect, the supreme God of all.