Chapter 184 — The Kadamba Tree Hermit Explains to Kundadanta: — Diversity in the One, Fate Governs All, and No Original Memory

Kundadanta said:—

I asked the devotee sitting beneath the kadamba tree to tell me how the seven large continents of the globe could be contained within the narrow limits of the homes of each of these brothers.

The kadamba tree hermit replied:—

The essence of consciousness, though so very empty in itself, is the largest and exists everywhere in anything in existence. It is present in its own nature with all things wherever they are known to exist. The soul sees the form of the triple world, and everything else besides in itself, as a part of its own nature and without changing itself into anyone of them.

Kundadanta asked, “You see variety as intrinsic to everything in nature, but how do you attribute multiplicity to the purely simple and immutable nature of the Supreme Soul?”

The kadamba tree devotee replied:—

The sphere of the intellectual void is all quiet and serene. There is nothing of any multiplicity in it. The changes apparent in its face are no more than the waves and whirling currents on the surface of the changeless sea. Infinite creations seem to be continually whirling about the immensity of intellectual emptiness, just as rising waves are seen whirling in the sea. They appear to sink in its fathomless depth, the waters in the hollow of the deep.

The forms of substantial things that rise in the insubstantial essence of the intellect are like the various forms of substances seen in the dreaming state of the soul, all of which are utterly forgotten in the state of sound sleep. As a hill seen in dream is no hill at all, and as things appearing to be in motion in dreams are found afterwards to be perfectly motionless, so all things in nature are only mere unrealities, though as real from the real nature of soul itself.

The intellect is an immaterial substance. It neither creates nor perceives anything material by itself, but conceives everything as it is manifested to it in its idea in the beginning. 10 The intellect sees a great variety of objects in dream which it takes to be reality for the time. In the same way, the intellect’s belief in the reality of its ideas causes it to conceive them as real entities. 11 The empty intellect, flashing of itself in its own state of transparence, comes to find the world shining in the same light within itself.

12 As we have consciousness of heat in the fire, even when seen in dream, so we are conscious of the presence of everything in our minds, even though the thing itself is absent from us. 13 As we have the idea of the solidity of a pillar in our dream of it, so have we the idea of the great variety of things in existence even though there is no diversity or difference in the nature of the one unchanging unity that pervades the whole.

14 In the beginning all substances were as pure and simple as the essence of their maker. They still continue to be in the same state of their ideal purity as they were originally made out of that airy entity and unity. 15 As a tree is diversified in the various forms of its roots, fruits, leaves, flowers and trunk, so the Supreme Unity is varied in all and everywhere in his same and undivided essence. 16 In the fathomless ocean of the Supreme Essence, the immensity of creation exists like the waters of the deep. An infinite number of worlds have been rolling on in their original empty and apparently visible forms in the boundless space of that transcendent emptiness. 17 The transcendental immaterial soul and the comprehensible material world mean the same, like tree and bower. Their difference lies in the intelligibleness of the one and unintelligibility of the other. True intelligence leads us to the unconceivable One, while our ignorance deludes us into the knowledge of the many, which tends only to our distress.

18 The mundane and super-mundane are surely the same according to the deduction of spiritual philosophy. The knowledge of this sublime truth is sure to lead one to his ultimate liberation. 19 The world is the product of the will of God. Will is a power or faculty belonging to the personality of God. God is transmuted to the form of the world. Therefore, it is proved that the world is the formal part of the Supreme Soul.

20 He whom no words can define and yet who defines the senses of words, who is subject to no law or prohibition, or to any state or condition of being, but appoints them for all sorts of beings, is indeed the only Lord of all. 21 He who is ever silent but speaks through all, who is inactive as a rock but acts in all, who is always existent and appears as nonexistent, is the Supreme Lord of all. 22 That subtle essence that constitutes the solidity of all gross bodies and remains without decay in all frail bodies, is the pure Brahman himself. He neither wills nor lacks will to create or destroy. There is no possession or lack of the property of anything. 23 It is the one and unchanging Soul who always rests in its state of rest and sleep and perceives the succession of creation and destruction of the world in its alternate states of dream and sound sleep, which present themselves as two pictures before its sight.

24 Unnumbered worlds seem to rise and set in succession in the substratum of Consciousness. They appear like pictures passing before the mind, without being painted there. 25 As the mixing of one thing with another produces a different effect in the mixture, so the union of the mind with the organs of sense causes a variety of impressions to be imprinted in consciousness. 26 All things exist only in the essence of consciousness. Without consciousness, nothing is knowable to anyone. Hence there is nothing in nature other than a representation of the original idea in the mind.

27 Our consciousness that things are identical with the essence of our intellect proves them to be as immaterial and immovable as their fixed ideas in the mind. 28 Thus the world, so visible and perceptible to us, is nothing but a mere nothingness in reality. Whatever appears to exist, together with the great gods and celestial beings, are no more than the false visions in our dream and fancy. 29 We see various fluctuations and phenomena rising in the waters of the vast ocean of Consciousness and appearing in the forms of our joy and grief, and those of moving and unmoving bodies in creation.

30 The nature and course of the world obscures the bright mirror of Consciousness, hiding it under the dirt of our passions and covering it under the clouds and snows of our ignorance. 31 As apparitions and dissolving views appear in the air before the sight of the dim sighted, so does this shadow of the world appear as substance to the view of the spiritually shortsighted. 32 Whatever we imagine, the same we find and seem to enjoy for the time. We are delighted with the scene of an imaginary city during sleep, and we indulge ourselves in the sight of this imaginary city of the world. 33 As we seem to enjoy our ecstasy in the imaginary city of our fancy, so under the belief of its reality, we are fooled by the delusion of this unreal world.

34 There is one eternal destiny which ever runs swiftly in its accustomed course and preordains all beings to continue in their allotted careers as ever before. 35 Destiny produces moving bodies from living beings and the inert ones from the inert. Predestination has destined the downward course of water and fluids and the upward motion of the flames of fire. 36 Blind impulse compels the limbs of the body to their respective actions and makes the luminous bodies emit their light. It causes winds to blow about in their continuous course and makes mountains stand unmoved in their proper places. 37 It makes the stars of heaven roll on in their regular revolutions and causes the rains and dews of the sky to pour down in their stated seasons. This eternal destiny directs the courses of years, ages and cycles, and the whole chariot of time to run its accustomed course. 38 Divine ordinance has ordained the limits of the earth and the distant ocean and seas and has fixed the position of hills and rocks. It has allotted the natures and powers of all things and prescribed the laws of rights and duties for everyone.

39 Kundadanta said, “The memory of the scenes of past life occurs in the present state of existence, in the forms of our imagination and our desire for them. These inner thoughts become the foundation that frames our current lives. But tell me sage, how could the first created beings in the beginning of creation have any memory upon which their lives and natures were framed?”

40 The kadamba tree devotee replied:—

All that offer themselves to our view are quite unprecedented and without their original patterns in the mind. They resemble the sight of our own death in a dream. The omniscience of Brahma caused the first creation, and not his memory of the past as it is with us and other created beings.

41 It is the nature of our consciousness to represent the imaginary city of the world in its empty emptiness. It is neither a positive reality nor a negative unreality, being now apparent and then lost to sight by itself. 42 The clarity of the intellect represents the imaginary world in the manner of a dream. But the pure empty intellect neither sees nor bears the memory of the world in itself.

43 The wise who are devoid of joy and grief, remaining unchanged in prosperity and adversity, are men of right integrity and equanimity in their nature. They move on as steadily as the wheel of fortune leads them onward.

44 As the intellect retains the memory of what it has seen in its dream, so it retains the false impression of this triple world to its end. 45 That which passes under the name of the world is only the reflection of our consciousness. Knowing the nature of your consciousness to be mere emptiness, you will blot out the impression of the world. 46 Know that the all and everything from which all have issued and in which they exist is that all which fills all space in which all things are situated.

47 Thus I have fully explained how you may come to know this creation as its creator, the great Brahma himself. I have also explained the means whereby you may get rid of your impression of the phenomenal world. 48 Now rise you brahmins and return to your homes, just as bees return to their cells and outer petals of lotuses at the dusk of the day. Go and perform your evening services, while I remain here in my pensive meditation, absorbed in my spiritual ecstasy forever.