Chapter 187 — Cosmology of the Living Creation; Ideas Beget Words Beget Objects

Rama asked, “Tell me sage, how can one paramount destiny guide the fates of these endless chains and varieties of beings? How can one uniform nature be the predominant feature of all these various kinds of beings? Why is the sun so very shining among the multitudes of gods? What is the cause of the lengthening and shortening of days and nights?”

Vasishta replied:—

Whatever the Lord has ordained at first of himself, the same appearing as the accidental formation of chance, is called the system of the universe. All that is manifested in any manner by omnipotence is and continues as real in the same manner because what is made of the core of the Divine Will and intelligence can never be unreal. Nor is it possible for the manifest and obvious to be impermanent. All that appears to us in any manner, being composed of Divine Consciousness, must continue to remain forever in the same manner. The appearance of creation and its disappearance in dissolution are both attributed to the unseen power of its destiny. To say this one is such and that is otherwise is to attribute these qualities to the manifestation of Brahman. These formations together with their ultimate dissolution are called the acts of their destiny.

The three states of waking, sleeping and dreaming that appear to the nature of the soul are in no way separated from it, just as the fluidity and motion of water are nothing other than properties of the same clear liquid. As emptiness is the property of air and warmth of the sunshine, and as scent is the quality of camphor, so the states of waking, sleeping and dreaming belong to the nature of the soul and are inseparable from it.

Creation and dissolution follow one another in the one and the same current of Divine Consciousness which, in its empty form, exists in the empty spirit of Brahman. 10 What is believed to be creation is only a momentary flash of Divine Consciousness. That which is thought to be a period of a kalpa age is only a transient reflection of the light of Divine Consciousness. 11 Sky, space, things and actions that come to our knowledge at anytime are like mere dreams occurring to us by a flash of the shining nature of Divine Consciousness. 12 The sights of things, eternal thoughts, and whatever else occurs at anytime or in any place are all presented to us by our minds from their formless shapes or ideas in the empty intellect of God. 13 Whatever is manifested by the mind or designed by it at anytime is called its destiny, which is devoid of any form like the formless air.

14 Natural philosophers who know all nature use the word nature to describe the uniform state of things for a whole kalpa age, measuring only a moment of Brahma. 15 The one soul (consciousness) is diversified into a hundred varieties of living beings. Every portion of this general intelligence retains the same reasoning like its original, without forsaking its nature. 16 Some of the intelligences that belong to and manifest themselves in the supreme Intelligence of God imagine to assume to themselves some embodied forms, in utter ignorance of their intellectual natures.

17 Earth, air, water, fire and vacuum are severally the receptacles of many properties. Empty consciousness is the great repository of these that appear as dreams hovering all about it. 18 Consciousness is the vast receptacle that receives all tangible and solid bodies. This spacious earth with all the population on its surface is seated in the midst of it. 19 It has place for the vast ocean and affords a seat to the sun. It has a space for the course of the winds and an emptiness containing all the worlds in it. 20 It is the reservoir of the five elements which are the fivefold principles of our knowledge. It is the container of the highest essence of Brahma, what is seen or anything else before it. 21 The learned call this Consciousness the intellect and omniscience. It has all forms and one form and is all-pervading, perceived by all owing to its greatness and its great magnitude.

22 Brahma the son or offspring of Brahman is the same Brahma who, by expanding his intelligence, has expanded the void under the name of space, like an awning of silk cloth. 23 When delusion rules over the consciousness of Brahma and over subtle and gross matters, how is it possible for other things that are only parts of them to stand good in law? 24 It is simply by his will that this god Brahma stretched the network of the universe, like a spider weaves its web out of itself. The universe revolves like a disc or wheel in the air and whirls like a whirlpool in the hollow depth of Consciousness, appearing as if it were a perceptible sphere in the heavens. 25 This sphere presents some bodies of great brightness and others of a lesser light. Some are scarcely visible to us and all appear like figures in a painting. 26 All created objects appear in this manner, and those that are not created never appear to view. But to the sight of the learned, they all appear as visions in a dream.

27 Consciousness is the one soul and lord of all. The seeming visible is all really invisible. They are all impermanent because they lack any body that lasts. They are not visible by themselves, nor are they ever perceptible or seen by us. 28 Empty intellect sees these as its dreams in the great emptiness of the intellect. This world being nothing other than a phenomenon of the empty intellect, can have no form other than that of mere void.

29 Whatever is manifested by the intellect in any manner is called its form and body. The expression of that manifested form for a certain period is called its nature or destiny. 30 The first manifestation of Divine Consciousness is the form of emptiness and the vehicle of sound. Afterwards that became the source of the world, which sprouted forth like a seed in the great granary of emptiness. 31 But any account given of the origin of the world and of the creation of things one after the other is a mere fabrication of sages for the instruction of the ignorant and has no basis on truth. 32 There is nothing that is ever produced of nothing or reduced to nothingness at anytime. All this is as quiet and calm as the bosom of a rock, and ever as real as it is unreal.

33 As there existed no separate body before, so it can have no end either. All things exist as an inseparable infinitesimal with the spirit of God. Therefore nothing can rise or set in it where they are always present. 34 The empty world exists in the vacuum of the Divine Spirit. It is a pure emptiness. Therefore, how is it possible for the world to rise or set or go beyond it to rise or set elsewhere? 35 The world is only a ray of the ever shining gem of Divine Consciousness, before whose omniscience, everything shines forever in its own light and nature.

36 Divine Spirit, though unknown to all, makes itself somewhat conceivable to us in our consciousness of it and in our ability to think about it through reasoning and reflection. 37 We can get some knowledge of it by our reason, as we can draw inferences of future events by means of our reasoning. This knowledge is rarer than the subtle element of air and fainter than our foresight into the future of all things. 38 Then this transcendental essence of the Divine Spirit, being about to reflect in itself, becomes the thinking principle called the intellect, which is somewhat intelligible to us.

39 Having then the firm conviction of its consciousness in itself, it takes the name of the living soul, which is known by the title of soul (jiva), meaning the Supreme Spirit or soul. 40 This living soul embodied in itself the nameless ignorance which shrouded the atmosphere of its intellect and superseded the title of the pure intelligence. 41 The living soul forgets its spiritual nature and becomes completely occupied in thoughts of its bodily conduct and worldly affairs. 42 Having forgotten its nature of emptiness, which possesses the property of conveying the sound, it becomes preoccupied with the error of taking future material bodies for real instead of the reality of the intellect.

43 Next it gets the notion in its spiritual body of its egoism and the idea of time, then these two run together in quest of the material elements, which are the seeds for the growth of the forthcoming world. 44 Then the thinking power of the living soul begets the sense of consciousness within itself and produces therein the conviction of the unreal world as a positive reality. 45 After this the thinking principle or the mind bursts out like a seed into a hundred sprouts of its wishes. Then, by reflecting on its egoism, it immediately thinks it is a living being. 46 Thus pure spirit, under the name of living soul, becomes entangled in the maze of its false and unreal reality and rolls like a heaving wave in the depth of the Universal Spirit. 47 The mind, which at first reflected on the empty nature of the living soul, in the end becomes foolishly misled to think it is solidified into animal life or the vital air and breath of life.

48 The mind becomes the source of articulate sounds or words which express certain meanings and signify certain things that were to be created afterwards and were to be embodied in the wording of the Vedas. 49 From him was to issue the would-be world through the words he spoke to denote the things he meant. The words he invented were filled with meanings and produced the things they expressed. 50 The intellect being employed in this manner is called a living being which, being clothed in significant words, produces all existent entities. 51 This self-existent entity produced the fourteen spheres that fill the whole space of emptiness and which give rise to so many worlds that exist within.

52 Before this being had the power of speech and of the use of limbs and body, it remained to reflect only on the meanings of words, having only his mind as the active part of himself. 53 As air develops the seed of a plant by exhaling on its outer coat, so does the intellect develop the bodily functions of living beings by working in its internal parts. 54 As the vibrating intellect or mind happens to come across the idea of light, it beholds light appearing to view as it is conveyed before it by its significant sound. 55 Light is only our reasoning or idea of it. It is nothing without its idea. In the same way, feeling is our consciousness of feeling and not the perception derived by means of the touch of anything. 56 Sound is only our consciousness of it. Sound is a subjective conception of our mind, just as emptiness is a conception of the empty mind that serves as the receptacle of sound. 57 Sound is known to be the product of air in its own emptiness, so everything else is the product of our consciousness and there is nothing as a duality beside it.

58 The properties of scent and flavor are also substances of sound and air and these unrealities seem as real, like the dreams that are seen and thought of in our minds. 59 Heat (tejas), which is the seed or seat of the tree of light and evolves itself in radiance and luminous bodies, are forms of the same intellect that shows itself in all things. 60 So flavor is merely a quality of empty air, though it is thought of as a reality in every article of our food and drink. It is a mere name without substance. 61 All other things which were designated by different names such as fragrance and the like are only so many forms of the thoughts and desires existing in the mind of this living being Brahma.

62 This being had in his mind the seed of all forms and dimensions from which proceeds this terrestrial globe that was to become the support of all creatures. 63 All things yet unborn appear as already born in this Divine Mind which is filled with the models of all future existences of every kind. All these formless beings have their forms afterwards, as it thought and willed them to be. 64 These forms appear to view as if by an act of chance. The organs whereby they come to be seen are afterwards called eyes, or the visual organs of sight. 65 The organs which give the perception of sounds are named ears. Those which bear the feeling of touch to the mind are called the organs of feeling. 66 The organ of perceiving the flavors is called the tongue or the organ of taste. That which receives the perception of smell is called the nose or the organ of scent.

67 The living soul is subjected to its physical body, yet the imperfect and lifeless bodily organs really do not perceive any distinction between time and place. 68 All things are only imaginations of the soul, ideas of the intellect that are wholly confined in the soul. They neither appear nor set on the outside, but are set as silent engravings in the stony and stiff bosom of the soul.