1 Rama asked, “There are innumerable worlds in the universe. Many have gone before, many are in existence, and many are yet to be. Sage, how can you persuade me to believe they do not exist?”
2 Vasishta replied:—
You well know, Rama, the relationship which the world bears to a dream. Both mean a passing scene. This meaning cannot be denied by anyone in this audience.
3 The words spoken by the wise, who know their application and sense, are neither understood nor received in the hearts of common people, though the words are in common use. 4 When you come to know the knowledge of the One, then you will discern the three times (past, present, and future) clearly and see them all as present before you.
5 It is only consciousness that displays itself in the form of the world in our dreams. In the same way, Divine Consciousness exhibits the worlds in itself in the beginning of creation. There is no other cause for the production of creation. 6 Hence there are innumerable worlds spinning like atoms in infinite space. There is no one who can count their number or discover their modes and natures.
7 It was of old that my honorable father, the lotus-born Brahma, all besmeared with the fragrant dust of that flower, delivered a discourse on this subject, which I will now relate to you. 8 It was of old that my father Brahma told me about the number of worlds and their respective situations in the heavens where they appear to us.
9 Brahma said:—
O sage, all that is manifested as the world is Brahman. It is the infinite entity of the deity in its abstract essence. But viewed in the concrete, the world is a nonentity. 10 Listen to my story which is as happy to the soul as it is pleasant to the ear. It is called the story of the Cosmic Egg, the mundane mass.
11 In the infinite void there is an empty substance known as the empty Consciousness in the form of a minute atom. 12 It saw itself in a dream as being as a living soul, resembling the movement of wind in empty air. 13 Thus the Lord became a living being. Forsaking its empty form, it thought itself to have become the ego in its intangible form. 14 He had his egoism, an egoistic sense in himself. This was the knowledge of himself as an unit, which is only an act of delusion.
15 Then he thought himself as changed into the conditions of understanding, mind and ego, all as in his dream. He was inclined of his own choice to impose mutability upon his immutable nature. 16 Then in his mind, as if in dream, he saw the five senses attached to his body. These are as formless as the appearance of a mountain in dream, which the ignorant are apt to take as a solid body.
17 Then in the atom of his consciousness, he saw that his mental body was comprised of the three worlds in their abstract forms, apparent to view but without substance or solidity or any basis at all. 18 This stupendous form was composed of all beings, whether of the conscious or inert kinds. 19 He saw all things comprised in himself just as they are seen in a dream or reflected in a mirror. The triple world appeared in his person like the picture of a city newly printed on a plate. 20 He saw the three worlds in his heart, just as they are seen in a looking glass, together with all things in it with their varied, vivid colors.
21 He observed more minute atoms existing within the minute atoms, and stupendous worlds on high clustering together in groups and rings. 22 These seen in ignorance of their natures appear as gross material bodies. Viewed in the clear light of their essence, they prove to be only the display of the Divine Mind. 23 Thus the viewer who sees the world in the light of Brahman finds this view of it: a vision in a dream. He comes to know that there is no real viewer to view it, or any cause for it, or any duality whatsoever.
24 All things that appear everywhere around us are quite motionless in their nature, existing only in the Divine Spirit as their main substratum. They are all situated in the Universal Soul from eternity to eternity. 25 Numberless worlds situated in the Divine Spirit appear to be settled outside it, just as the waves of the sea rise above its waters and scatter its salt spray in the air.