Chapter 178 — How Spirit Can Perceive Physical; Story of Indu’s Ten Sons, the Aindavas (again); How Yogis Perceive Creation
1 Rama asked, “The world is known to consist of two sorts of beings, namely the physical or material substances and the incorporeal or subtle essences. 2 Subtle ones do not strike one another. Those are said to be solid which push and dash against each other. 3 Here we always see the dashing of one solid body against another. But we know nothing of the movement of subtle bodies or of their coming in contact with another. 4 We do know something about the quick motion of our subtle senses to their respective objects, without coming in contact with them. For example, we can perceive the distant moon.”
5 “I repudiate the theory of the half-enlightened who maintain the material world is the production of the will or imagination. I cannot believe that the immaterial intellect can either produce or guide the material body.”
6 “I believe the will is the material breath of life, moving the living body to and fro. But tell me sage, what is that power which propels the living breath in and out of beings? 7 Tell me sage, how can the intangible intellect move the tangible body and carry it about, like a porter carrying his load? 8 If the subtle intellect is capable of moving the solid body at its will, then tell me sage. Why can’t a man move a mountain by his own will?”
9 Vasishta replied:—
The opening and closing of the mouth of the aorta in the heart lets the vital breath in and out through the passage of its hole and the lungs. 10 Like the hollows of an ironsmith’s bellows, the hollow of the aorta lets vital air in and out by the breathing of the heart.
11 Rama asked, “It is true that the ironsmith closes and expands the valves of the bellows. But tell me sage, what power blows the wind pipe of the heart and lets the air in and out of the inner lungs? 12 How does the single breath of inhalation become a hundredfold, and how do these hundreds combine again into one? Why are some beings conscious and others as unconscious as wood and stone? 13 Tell me sage, why the inert have no vibration at all and why only moving bodies have pulsation and mutation?”
14 Vasishta replied:—
There is an internal perception which moves the interior cords of the body, just as we can see the ironsmith work his bellows.
15 Rama asked, “Say sage, how is it possible for the subtle and intangible soul to move the vital airs and tangible internal parts in the animal body? 16 If the imperceptible observant soul can move the intestinal and other inner parts of the body, then it should be equally possible for a thirsty soul to draw distant water to itself. 17 If tangible and intangible can come together at will, then what is the use of the active and passive organs of action? 18 As the intangible powers of the soul bear no connection whatever with the outward objects of the world, some think they can have no effect on the internal organs of the body.”
“So please explain it more fully to me. 19 Tell me, how do you yogis perceive the outward material things in your inner incorporeal souls? How can your formless souls have any command over or any contact with solid bodies?”
20 Vasishta replied:—
Listen to me explain so that all your doubts are rooted out. These words will not only please your ears, but they will give you a conception of the unity of all things.
21 There is nothing here at anytime what you would call a solid substance or a material body. Everything is a wide and extended emptiness of the fine and subtle spirit. 22 This spirit is of the nature of pure intelligence, quite calm and intangible. All material things such as the earth are as imaginary as our dreams, the creatures of imagination. 23 There was nothing in the beginning, nor shall there be anything at the end, for lack of a cause for its creation or dissolution. Present existence is an illusion, like any fleeting shape or shadow appearing before the dreaming mind.
24 The withdrawn yogi loses sight of the earth, sky, air and water, and the hills and rivers that ordinarily appear to sight. Through his meditation, the yogi sees them in their ideal and intangible forms. 25 The outer elements and their inner perceptions, the earth, wood and rocks, are all only empty ideas of the intellect, which is the only real substratum of ideas and besides which there is no reality.
26 Listen to the story of Aindavas which explains this doctrine. This will not fail to please your ears, though I have told it to you once before. 27 Listen to the story which I am going to repeat in answer to your question. You will come to know that these hills and others things are identical with your intellect.
28 Once in days of the past in some part of the world, there lived a certain brahmin named Indu who was famous for his religious austerities and observance of Vedic ceremonies. 29 He had ten sons by whom he was surrounded like the world by its ten sides. The sons were men of great souls, magnanimous spirits respected by all good and great men. 30 In the course of time the old father met with his death and departed from his ten sons like the eleventh Rudra at the time of the dissolution of the world. 31 His chaste wife, for fear of the miseries of widowhood, followed his funeral by cremation, much like evening twilight follows departing daylight like a faithful bride, with the evening star shining upon her forehead. 32 The sons performed the funeral ceremonies and, in sorrow for their deceased father, they left their home and domestic duties and retired to the woods for holy meditation.
33 They practiced the best method for the intensity of their concentration, best calculated to secure the accomplishment of their meditation. This was constant reflection upon their identity with Brahman. 34 Thinking so in themselves, they sat in lotus posture. Wishing to gain knowledge of the unity of all things, they did what you shall be glad to learn from me. 35 They thought the whole world presided over by the lotus-born Brahma was contained within themselves. They believed they had been transformed into the form of that mundane god. 36 Believing themselves to be Brahma, they sat long with the thought of supporting the world. They remained with their closed eyes as if they were mere figures in a painting. 37 With this belief they remained fixed and steady at the same spot, and many a month and year glided over their heads and motionless bodies. 38 They were reduced to dry skeletons, parts of which were beaten and devoured by hungry beasts. Some of their limbs were torn and disappeared from their main bodies, like parts of a shadow by the rising sun. 39 Yet they continued to reflect that they were the god Brahma and his creation, and the world with all its parts were contained in themselves.
40 In the end their ten bodiless minds were thought to be converted into so many different worlds, in their abstract meditation of them. 41 Thus by the will of their intellects, each became a whole world in himself and remained so in a clear or abstract view of it, without being accompanied by its grosser part. 42 In their own consciousness they saw the solid earth with all its hills and other things in themselves. Since all things have reference to the intellect, and are viewed intellectually only.
43 What is this triple world? It is only its knowledge in our consciousness, without which we have no perception of it and with which we have a clear conception of everything. So all things are of the empty nature of our consciousness, and not otherwise. 44 As the wave is nothing other than the water of the sea, so there is nothing movable or immovable whatever without our conscious knowledge of it.
45 As the Aindavas remained in their empty forms of intellectual worlds in the open air, so are these blocks of wood and stone pure intellectual beings or concepts in the sphere of our minds. 46 As the will of the Aindavas assumed the forms of the world, so did the will of lotus-born Brahma take the form of this universe. 47 Therefore this world together with all these hills and trees, and also these great elements and all other bodies, belong only to the intellect which is thus spread out to infinity. 48 The earth is the intellect and so are its trees and mountains. Heaven and sky are also only the intellect. There is nothing beside the intellect, which includes all things in itself, like the intellectual worlds of the Aindavas.
49 The intellect, like a potter, forms everything upon its own wheel and produces this pottery of the world from the mud of its own body. 50 The conscious will is the cause of creation and the framer of the universe. It could not have made anything which is either unconscious or imperfect in its nature, and even mineral mountains and plant life are not devoid of their sensations.
51 If we say the world is the work of design, or the memory of former impressions, or the work of Divine Will, these are still only different powers of Consciousness. The world still proves to be a product of Consciousness. 52 Therefore there cannot be any gross substance in Divine Intellect which blazes with the shining light of Consciousness in the Universal Soul of God, like a mine of bright gems. 53 Anything however mean or useless is never apart from the Divine Soul. Sunlight shines on all objects. So does the light of Consciousness take everything in the light of the great Brahma which pervades alike on all.
54 As water flows indiscriminately upon the ground, and as the sea washes all its shores with its turbulent waves, so does Consciousness ever delight to shed its light over all objects of its own accord without any regard to its near or distant relation. 55 As the great Creator evolves the world in the first formative period of creation, like the petals of his lotus navel, so does the Divine Intellect unfold all parts of the mundane system from its own sanctuary, which parts are therefore not distinct from itself. 56 The Lord is unborn and uncreated and unconfined in his nature and purely empty in his essence. He is calm and tranquil. He is immanent in the interim of existence and nonexistence. Therefore this world is no more than a reflection of the intellectual or its ideal pattern in the Divine Mind.
57 Therefore the wise are aware of the consciousness in all creation and laugh at ignorant men who declare the insensibility of inanimate objects. Rocks and trees in this ideal world are not wholly devoid of their sensations and feelings. 58 The learned know that these ideal worlds in the air are full with the Divine Soul. They know this creation of Brahma’s will to be only an ethereal paradise without any substantiality. 59 When this material world is viewed in its ethereal and intellectual light, the distresses of this delusive world take to flight and its miseries disappear. 60 As long as this intellectual view of the world does not reveal itself to the sight of a man, the miseries of the world trouble him stronger and closer on every side.
61 Men, infatuated by their continued folly and blind to the view of the world as intellect, can never have reprieve from the troubles of the world or find their rest from the hardness of the times. 62 There is no creation, no existence or nonexistence of the world, and no the birth or destruction of anyone here. There is no entity nor nonentity of anything. There is only the Divine Soul glowing serenely bright with its own light in this manner. There is no light whatever except the manifestation of the Divine Spirit.
63 The cosmos resembles a vine with multitudes of its budding worlds. It has no beginning or end. It is impossible to find its root or top at anytime, or to discover the boundless extent of its circumference. Like a crystal pillar, it bears innumerable statues in its recesses which are thickly studded together without end. 64 There is only one endless being stretching his innumerable arms throughout the infinity of space. I am that empty soul embracing everything without limit. I find myself to be that stupendous pillar in my uncreated and all comprehensive soul which is ever as tranquil and transparent and without any change in itself.