1 Rama asked, “Sage, I know that all knowledge is vain and useless without proper control of our senses. So tell me how the senses may be kept under control so that was can have a true knowledge of things unbiased by them.”
2 Vasishta replied:—
The obstacles to self-control and liberation are addiction to enjoyments, displays of manhood, and devotion to the acquisition of the means of life and wealth, just as blindness is an obstruction to one’s sight of a light. 3 Listen to my advice, the least, shortest and best means to control your senses. This is sure to lead one to success by his own effort without struggle or trouble.
4 Know that the intellect is the person who manages you. Its power of reasoning makes you a living man. Whatever the living soul thinks within itself, it truly becomes the very same. 5 Let the strength of your consciousness use the pointed goad of your acute good sense. You will undoubtedly subdue your otherwise uncontrollable elephantine mind and be victorious shortly. 6 The mind (citta) is the captain of the army of your bodily and mental senses. If you subdue this leading mind, you will conquer the whole host of your senses, like a man walking in boots treads over thorns lying in his way.
7 You must settle your self-consciousness in your consciousness of the omnipresent vacuum of the Divine Soul, and rest yourself quietly in the cave of your heart. Then your mind will sit quietly of itself, just as the snows of winter settle down of themselves in autumn. 8 By stopping the action of your consciousness, you will also shut up your mind and put a stop to the operation of all its faculties. This you can never accomplish with all your meditation and austerities, your pilgrimages, your knowledge and sacrifice, and all other ceremonies and acts and duties.
9 Whatever occurs in consciousness must be forgotten or buried in the consciousness of the great God alone. So the forgetfulness of all enjoyments and their objects amounts to our victory over them. 10 We must try by all means to shut out the objects of sense from our consciousness. This state of being unconsciousness of sense objects is equivalent to the state of heavenly bliss.
11 Another way to preserve the steadiness of the mind is the contentment that comes from acting in conformity with the rules of our order. Therefore remain firm in the practice of your particular duties and seek no other happiness. 12 He who abandons his inclination towards the attainment of what is unlawful for him and remains content with earning his lawful gains is truly said to be a man of subdued desires, one who has self-control. 13 He who is pleased with his inner and conscious gratification and is not grieved at the unpleasant things all about him is said to have governed and subdued his mind.
14 By suspending the action of consciousness, the mind also comes to forget and forsake its activity. The sensations also become relaxed from their restlessness and the mind pursues discrimination and judgment. 15 The discriminative and judging soul becomes ennobled and magnanimous, keeping its command over feelings and senses. It is not impelled by the waves of its desires to be tossed about on the surface of the wide ocean of this world.
16 The man of well controlled senses, by his association with the wise and his constant study of religious works, comes to know all things in the world in their true light. 17 All worldly errors are dispelled by the light of truth. Otherwise, one must fall into the pit of misery by his mistake of falsehood for truth, just as an ignorant traveler is engulfed in dreary sands by mistaking a mirage for water. 18 The wise know this world to be the unknowable intellect itself, and that this material world is the immaterial mind of God. This is the true light in which the wise view the cosmos, and the wise have no fear of falling into the snare of error, nor do they require any release from it. 19 As the dried up waters of a river are seen no more flowing even slightly in their course, so the formless phenomena of the world never appear in the sight of the wise or leave the slightest trace in their minds.
20 Knowledge of the world as an infinite void and being freed from the false individualities of myself and yourself lead to the knowledge of a Supreme Self which is apart from all and the only Ego that fills the whole. 21 All these conceptions of our subjective, individual egos and the objective world are only errors of our brain proceeding from ignorance. They are all situated in the void of Consciousness and are void of themselves. All bodies are only empty shadows in air, as quiet as nothingness itself. 22 This world appears like a shadow of the Intellect in the emptiness of the same Intellect. It is a void within the void of Consciousness which is certainly a void itself. 23 Nobody can deny the similarity of the world to a shadowy sight in a dream. It is an unreal idea, as insubstantial as all ideas can be, and as the idea of a void is void itself. 24 A dream is nothing other than our consciousness of it and the airy realms that it presents to our view for a time. In the same way, Consciousness shows us the sight of the world without any action or passion or instrumentality of Consciousness.
25 So I am of the substance of the same Consciousness which is without activity, passivity or instrumentality. The world cannot be assigned to any causality or instrumentality, so it exists only in our simple conception of it. 26 As the conception of one’s death in a dream is no reality at all, and as the sight of water in a mirage is only a visual deception, so the sight of the world is no real existence at all.
27 The empty intellect first reflects its thoughts in the clear mirror of its emptiness, which is a mere haphazard of chance without firm base or support. 28 The world appears fixed and firm, yet has no foundation anywhere. It seems to be shining brightly with dark opacity. So know that this fixity and brightness is the permanence and glory of the eternal and glorious God.
29 The vital force of living beings displays the spirit of the ever living God. The air is his emptiness. Running waters show the whirlpool-like currents of the eternal Soul. 30 As every part of the body is a constituent part of the whole frame, so all the various parts of animated and inanimate nature constitute the entirety of the one cosmic Deity. 31 As a crystal mirror shows the shades of everything in itself, so the transparency of the Divine Soul exhibits the reflections of all things in it. The silent soul is as quiet as the mute crystal, but it shows the varying scenes of nature as continuously as a clear mirror reflects everything.
32 There is no beginning or end of the Supreme Being. We see dimly only what is in between. The rest is all enveloped in ignorance, though there is no ignorance in the Omniscient. 33 The living soul wakes from its sleeping dream then falls back to its waking dream. Thus it continues dreaming forever, whether waking or sleeping, which are both alike. 34 The soul only finds rest while it remains in the fourth state (turiya) of sound sleep. Otherwise, it passes from dream to dream, whether sleeping or awake. Dreams continually haunt the soul unless it is drowned in its sound sleep of trance (sushupti), the only resort of the wise. 35 But waking and sleeping, dreaming and sound sleep, are all the same to the enlightened soul. He is equally indifferent in all states, whether asleep or awake, and he is never infested by dreams or set beside himself.
36 The knowledge of unity or duality, or that of “I” and “you”, or the subjective and objective, never disturbs the enlightened. He views the whole as an empty void and is alike unconscious of all as well as nothing. 37 The distinction of unity and duality, made in the meaningless speech of the unwise, is laughed at by the enlightened and the wise, just as aged and intelligent men scorn and laugh at the pranks and idle talk of young children. 38 The controversy of unity and duality spontaneously grows in the heart like an indigenous plant which without pruning will not put forth its blossoms to perfume the atmosphere of understanding.
39 The discussion of unity and duality is as beneficial to men as their best friend. It sweeps away the dirt and impurity of ignorance from their minds, just as they sweep dust from within the doors of their houses. 40 The minds of men become settled in the Divine Mind when they share, communicate, and participate in each other’s joys and bliss. 41 Men who are always joined together in fellowship, serving one another with delight and kindness in their hearts, attain enlightenment of their understanding whereby they are admitted into communion with the Most High. 42 It is possible for a man to be benefited even by his careful preservation of a trifle. But it is never possible for anybody to attain the most hidden knowledge of God without his diligent inquiry into it.
43 Whatever high position one may enjoy in this material world, if one does not remain aloof from all kind of vices, it is to be recognized by all as nothing. 44 What happiness is gained by the possession of a kingdom which in the end is no better than a mere annoyance of the mind? But the mind that has gained peace and tranquility in truth and divine knowledge spurns the state of rascals and kings as mere bits of straw. 45 The sleepy and the wakeful are both ready to see the visible and they are enraptured by the sight. But the saints who are calm and quiet and at rest with themselves are averse to sight-seeing and see only the one in themselves.
46 Without painstaking and continued practice of contemplation, you cannot attain this state of infinite bliss. Know that this state of transcendent bliss can only be attained through intense meditation. 47 What I have said at length is to impress the necessity of intense meditation upon you. The evil-minded say, “What good is all this?” to me and neglect and take no heed of all that I have been telling you for so long. 48 The ignorant can come to the right view of truth by steady attention to these lectures, by long and repeated practice of meditation, and by listening and analyzing these lectures.
49 He who reads this spiritual work once, then neglects it thinking he has already read it and turns to the study of unspiritual books, is a miserable fool who collects burnt ashes after the fire is extinguished. 50 This excellent work is to be read always, like the recital of the Vedas which are embodied in this work. This book is calculated to reward the labor of the student if constantly read with reverence and rightly explained with diligence. 51 From this book, the student will learn everything he can expect to find in the Vedas because this book embodies both the practical and the spiritual doctrines of the sacred scriptures. A knowledge of both is available by properly reading this work. 52 By learning this book, one may have knowledge of the doctrines of the Vedanta and Siddhanta scriptures, because this is the only book that treats the doctrines of all schools.
53 I have presented these doctrines to you because of my sympathy for you all. It is not by way of deception that I impose these lessons on your gullibility. You are the best judges of my discourse. You can well detect whether there is anything like deception in my instructions. 54 The knowledge you may derive by carefully weighing the instructions in this great work will serve you like salt that seasons the taste of teachings in other scriptures, which at best are only different dishes before this book.
55 The materialist who is familiar with visible phenomena discredits this book because of its occult teachings of spiritualism. But don’t be the killer of your souls by neglecting your eternal salvation. Don’t revisit this material world and become busied with your temporal affairs. 56 Biased minds cling to the dogmas of broken systems. Ignoble men drink the foul water of tanks dug by their ancestors. You are reasoning men. Therefore do not remain forever tightly bound to your ignorance.