Chapter 171 — Meditation of Pure Emptiness: the Space between Thoughts

Vasishta resumed and said:—

Our empty consciousness exhibits the phenomenal world to us. In reality, there is no such thing as this world, or its appearance, or a vacuum in nature, or a thing such as consciousness in ourselves. Whatever is apparent before us is the manifestation of Consciousness. It is vainly called the world, just as the open air called the sky is nothing other than the air itself. A man going from one place to another experiences a gap in between when thinks of the place he has seen and left behind. In the same way, the world a mere gap and thought of the mind.

Before creation there was nothing. Then how could this something appear from that nothing? The latter having no material cause, it is no material or visible thing. Then there was not even an atom in existence. So how and from what could this spinning world have its rise and form? Therefore this form of visible world could not have sprung from it, just as no child could ever be born of a barren woman. Hence there is nothing such as the visible world. The conception of it must be entirely false.

Whatever appears as visibly present before us is only the blank emptiness of Consciousness. This is the transcendental state in which the supreme unity appears to us. In the depth of our sound sleep a fleeting dream appears before us. So it is with Supreme Consciousness which never forsakes the serene and unalterable tranquility of its divine nature. It always exists of itself, in itself, in its calm and quiet state before the appearance of creation. It manifests intellectual emptiness in the form of the visible world, which is how it appears to us.

10 The idle thoughts of the mind present themselves like airy castles in our sleep. So does the emptiness of Supreme Consciousness exhibit the appearance of creation in its own empty space. 11 Empty air evolves itself in the manner of whirlwinds. So does the intellectual emptiness exhibit the phenomenal world that exists in its own self. 12 Hence the three worlds that appear so real to our view are in their very nature quite unintelligible and hidden to our sight. It is the Supreme Deity itself that appears in this manner of its existence in its own empty substance. 13 There is nothing such as the form of earth or anything else whatever at anytime, be it with or without form.

14 As a formless mountain appears in dream then disappears in the air upon waking, so the world that is visible when awake becomes invisible in sleep. In the same way, the triple world appears and disappears by turns in the transparent and tranquil Consciousness. 15 To the watchful and enlightened mind, the world appears as identical with God. But however intelligent we may be, we can never know whether we are sleeping or awake.

16 During the space of journeying from one place to another, the mind can be unoccupied with any object. The minds of all livings beings are naturally unoccupied with any preconceived idea. This blankness is the true state of the intellect. 17 That unemployed state of mind which one has in the interval of his journey from place to place is what is called the transcendent void which contains all existence. 18 Now, this emptiness of the mind and the emptiness of the world are similar to one another. Their contents are similar. Neither contains anything except the principles of the five elements, whether in their ideal or gross forms, which we call the unreal and real. 19 The unreal or ideal elements are the inner conceptions of the mind and are called mental idea objects. The real or gross forms of the elements are called visible form objects. Both of these are only different modes of divine essence. All of them are like whirling currents and waves rising on the surface of the infinite ocean of God. 20 Hence there is no such thing as an objective world, except that it is of the nature of that vacant mind of the traveler in the interim of his journey from one place to another.

21 The rising and setting of the passions and affections in the mind are mere modes of the mind. So the being and not being of anything, the presence and absence of the world are mere modes of the Divine Mind. 22 The chasm between one thought and another is truly characteristic of the emptiness of the Divine Mind. The visible world is only a wave in the ocean of eternity, or a mirage in a sandy desert. 23 The Divine Spirit never changes from its state of calm rest and vacant mindedness, like the mind of the traveler in the interval of his journey from one place to another. Such is the state of this world which is ever calm and quiet.

24 From the beginning, since the first creation of the world, nothing was made that seems to be made. It is only a magic show that appears so perceptible to sight. 25 Alas, all this that shines so clearly to sight is nothing. Yet it is something true when viewed in the light of Brahman himself. Then it affords us fresh joy. 26 Where shall I go? How can I get away from this ungodly world that is ever prone to unrighteousness? It is an insubstantial sight that passes for substantial. Nobody understands that this world is Brahman, the same God who exhibits himself in this mode and manner. 27 It is no production or reflection, neither is it the original pattern or its copy. What then are these phenomena and how and from where? All these that appear to view are of the emptiness of Brahman who exhibits himself in this manner in all shapes.

28 As a gem shines of its own brightness and not derived from without, so empty Consciousness shines of its own splendor, shown forth in the creation which is the same as itself. 29 In that calm and quiet emptiness, this sun shines with all his glory. More accurately, a spot of that emptiness shines in the shape of the sun, which is only a limited part of it and nothing else. 30 Though situated within God, yet neither the sun nor the moon shines of itself. God illuminates those luminaries, neither of whom can illuminate that transcendent Supreme Lord to us. 31 It is his brightness that enlightens this visible mundane sphere. It is he alone who gives the light of the sun, moon, stars and fire, as well as all other shining bodies that shine with their borrowed light from him.

32 Whether God has a shape or is formless, or has a body or is without body, can only be a verbal discussion of the ignorant. The learned well know that any possible description of God is as unreal as the possibility of a flower growing in empty air. 33 A particle of sand shines brightly in sunshine, but even the sun and moon do not shine as brightly as those particles before the great glory of their maker. 34 The shining sun, moon and stars are only offshoots of the flaming gem of the empty Consciousness of God. Say, how can they be anything other than flashes of the same gem from which they are emitted?

35 The divine state of pure consciousness, divested of intellectuality and devoid of emptiness, becomes deprived of its essence and all qualities. Being thus drained of all its properties and attributes, it becomes full of the totally of all existence. 36 The earth and all elemental bodies exist in it, yet in a manner nothing exists in it. All living beings (jiva) are in it, yet none exists as separate from it. 37 All things combine in unity, in their atomic forms, without forsaking their grossness without. The Divine never forsakes its uniformity, without any mixture or duality in its pure being of unity. 38 Anything here is nothing, yet it is not a nothing either. Therefore it is too difficult to say what thing is or is not.

39 There is one thing which is infinite without any intersection and ever extended everywhere. This is the essence of the empty Consciousness that contains the germ and foundation of the universe in itself. 40 The mind is vacant and still in the space between passing from one thought to another. Such is the nature and form of the world, although it appears so diversified to view. 41 Though it appears to have great diversity, yet it is the only uniform Consciousness that extends consistently over all emptiness, seeing the five elemental bodies hovering about it as if in a dream.

42 As Consciousness passes from its rest of sleep to the sights in its dream, so it passes from the state of the void of universal desolation to the commotion state of creation. 43 As sleep and dream reoccur to every soul, so the extinction and renovation of the world occurs to all alike. So also waking is like the enlightened state of the soul (turiya). Hence the world is no other than a phenomenon in intellectual emptiness. 44 Thus the whole universe is no more than a state of waking, sleeping, dreaming, and turiya scenes. Such is the understanding of the learned on this subject. We know nothing about how the ignorant see the world.

45 The Lord is inscrutable amidst living brutes and all inert creation. We can come to no conclusion with regard to the nature of that Being who is beyond the knowledge of our minds and understanding. 46 This much is knowable of Him. He is pure Consciousness and all things are full of Him. Yet things are not of the same form as that Reality which manifests itself in the form of the universe. 47 The wise use words like permeate and diffusion to describe the omnipresence of the Divine Spirit in creation. Actually, there is no trace of meaning to such words to describe the Divine Essence in all nature.

48 Since the first creation of the world, this great essence of empty Consciousness is situated of itself and in the souls of great men. 49 All pervading Consciousness is always situated in the minds of the sages whose souls are full with the presence of the one Supreme Spirit. It is that Consciousness which conceived in itself the idea that passes under the name of the world. 50 The knowledge of the bliss of the world, like that of a dream upon waking, is attained with delight. But lack of this knowledge, like a nightmare when sleeping, makes us uneasy all the while.

51 The silent saint who knows the truth is always in the same state of tranquility, whether he be walking or sitting anywhere, or waking or sleeping. 52 The wise man who remains indifferent to everything, sitting contentedly even in his distress, caring not whether he lives or dies, has nothing to gain or lose. 53 The wise man who is outwardly employed in worldly affairs without taking anything to heart, neither parting with nor craving anything, remains inactive in his active life. 54 Complete detachment is characteristic of the wise man, just as heat and cold are natural to fire and snow. This habit of the mind is not acquired by practice or education.

55 He who by his nature does not have this control of his mind is ever ignorant of truth. Ignorance of this truth is the sign of a character that is inclined towards base desires. 56 The truly wise man remains perfect and strong in his own good nature. He is quite satisfied with the sweet ambrosial drink of his transcendent tranquility. He is calm in his mind without changing desires for this thing or that.