Chapter 173 — Brahman Is Both Conscious and Unconscious; Brahma Is the Mind, Viraj the Imagined Body

Rama asked, “The universally entertained idea is that the Divine Spirit is the common soul of all, infinite in its permeation. They why is it supposed to be the soul of only the living body and called the ego or a personal being? How does Consciousness become inert in the state of our sleep, as in a block of wood or stone? Why is it said to exist or become extinct in the state of its numbness?

Vasishta replied:—

In ordinary, common speech we say that the Universal Soul resides as the ego or personal being in the body, just as we say the hands of the body are its hands and not its feet. As the leaf of a tree is considered only a part of the tree, so the Universal Soul residing in the tree is called only a tree. As emptiness in the sky is also called the sky, so the Universal Soul dwelling in matter is referred to as that matter. An aerial castle in a dream appears as a tangible castle to the dreamer for the time. In the same way, the Universal Soul living in our sleep, dreams and waking state is thought to be sleeping, dreaming, or being awake at that time.

As stones, trees or cliffs are seen to rise on mountains, and waves on the surface of waters, so the huge mountain also rises as a stone or a tree from the bosom of the all pervading Spirit. As the living body gives growth to dull and dead nails and hairs, so the living soul of the universe grows unconscious stones and trees upon it. As the conscious soul becomes as unconscious as a block of wood in its sleep, so the Universal Soul becomes inert before creation and after its dissolution. Again, as the sleeping soul sees a series of dreams arising out of it, so the tranquil spirit of God beholds the light of creation issuing out of it. 10 As the conscious and unconscious soul of man produces both conscious offspring and unconscious excrements from its body, so the Universal Soul produces both living beings and inert bodies from itself.

11 The conscious and the unconscious are both embodied in the person of the Universal Soul which is possessed of both the movables and the inert in itself, although it is formless in its substance. 12 All these contraries in nature disappear before the sight of the truly learned, just as the false sights in dreams disappear from the view of the awakened man who knows the falsity of dreams. 13 All this is the emptiness of Consciousness in which there is no sight, view or viewer, just like a dreamer, awakened from his dreaming, neither sees his dream nor his dreaming sights anymore.

14 Millions and millions of creations are appearing and disappearing in the vacuum of Consciousness, like recurring waves and revolving whirlpools in the sea. 15 The waters of the ocean show various shining forms in its rising waves. In the same way Consciousness raises many creations bearing different names in its own intellectuality. 16 To the truly learned, the world appears as it is, as Brahman. To the ignorant mass of men, it appears as many and changing because they lack precise knowledge of it. 17 The wave who knows its nature to be only calm and cool water thinks no more of being a fluctuating wave. So the man knowing himself as Brahman thinks no more of his mortal state.

18 The idea that the Divine Spirit vibrates, which comes from the fluctuating appearance of creation, is mistaking the calmness of the Divine nature. The fluctuation belongs to the powers residing in the Divinity. 19 Empty Consciousness never forsakes its tranquility. The variety of knowledge that rises in it, like a varying series of dreams, is attributable to the mind, which they call Brahma or the great progenitor of all. 20 Thus the first lord of creatures was the formless mind that does not decay. It was of intellectual form like an imaginary being, and supposed to be the cause of all.

21 Saying “you are nothing” is like saying the word “gold.” The word has no form of itself. Its purity is the gold itself. 22 Uncreated Brahman, being an intellectual and empty form, an imaginary body imbued with volition, appeared as the Prime Ego or a personal being containing the world in his body. 23 The empty void of Consciousness displays these wonders that are known as the alternating creations, preservations and destructions of the world. 24 The clear and uncreated light to which Consciousness evolves itself of its own accord, like the evolution of airy dreams from the mind, is named the first father of all.

25 As a wave assumes one form or another and rolls on endlessly over the vast expanse of the sea, so runs the heavenly mind in the forms of the revolving creations and their dissolutions. 26 The light of the intellectual vacuum is called Viraj and is of the same mind as Brahman. It stretches out creation like a castle or city in one’s imagination. 27 Viraj is the combined form of the triple states of waking, dreaming and sleep. The first two are analogous to the creation and preservation of the universe, and the last is similar to the utter darkness of dissolution. 28 From the chaotic state of his dissolution, there sprang light and darkness, like dark and white hairs growing on his head. The rotations of time resemble the joints of his body. 29 His mouth represent the fire, his head the upper sky, and the air is below his navel. His foot-stool is the earth, his eyes are the sun and moon, and the east and west are his two ears. In this manner Lord Viraj manifests himself in the imagination of his mind. 30 Thus did the expanded empty form of Viraj represent the whole visible world in his ideal body which was a figure of his own imagination, just like any of the insubstantial forms of our dreams or fancies.

31 Whatever is thought of in the emptiness of Consciousness, the same comes to be vividly exhibited there. Such truly is the form of this world which we conceive in our self. 32 Viraj is truly an intangible being in himself who appears to be as widely extended as the vast extent of the universe. In his own nature, he is like a city or mountain that we see in our dreams. 33 Whatever one thinks himself to be, he conceives in him to have become the same, without his actually being as such. So an actor is seen to play his part in dream from the concept of his acting on the stage.

34 Whatever be the doctrines of the Vedanta, Buddhism, Sankhya, and Saugata systems of the philosophy, and whatever may be the doctrines of Tryaksha, Pashupati, and other teachers of Agama scriptures, they all agree in acknowledging Brahman as the giver of the boons that they all respectively desire. All of them obtain the particular object of bliss from the same. Such is the glory of the great God, whose soul fills all bodies and whose bounty supports them all.