Chapter 190 — Rama’s Enlightenment: Short Answers to Many Questions

Vasishta continued:—

Gaining knowledge of what is knowable is called our bondage in this world. Our release from the bonds of knowable objects is called our liberation from it.

Rama asked, “But sage, how is it possible to escape from knowledge of the knowable? How can we remove our rooted knowledge of things and our habitual sense of bondage to them?”

Vasishta replied:—

Our misjudgment is removed by the perfection of our knowledge and the feeling of it as such. Then, after our inborn bias disappears, we get liberation from error.”

Rama asked, “Tell me sage. What is that simple uniform feeling that completely releases a living soul from its chains of error? What is said to be that complete and perfect knowledge?”

Vasishta replied:—

The soul is full of subjective knowledge, intuition. It has no need for objective knowledge of the knowable without. Perfect knowledge is our inner sense and is not expressible in words.

Rama asked, “Tell me sage. Is the internal knowledge of the soul the same or separate from itself? Is the word knowledge to be understood in its instrumental or abstract sense?”

Vasishta replied:—

All perception is knowledge and knowledge also describes causation. Hence there is no difference between knowledge and the knowable, as there is none between air and its movement.

Rama asked, “If it be so, then tell me. How does the error arise of perceiving a difference between knower and the known? The idea of the materiality of the perceptible or objective world must be as false as that of the horns of a rabbit which have never existed and are unlikely to exist anytime in the future.”

Vasishta replied:—

The error of the reality of external objects also gives rise to the error of believing our knowledge of them to be real. But no inner object of thought and no object of the outward senses has any reality to it.

10 Rama asked, “Tell me, O sage. How can you deny the existence of objects that are evident to your and my senses, and all others’ alike, and which are ever present in thoughts in the minds of conscious beings?

11 Vasishta replied:—

When the world was first created, the self manifested god Viraj exhibited the outline of the cosmos in a corner of his all-comprehensive mind. But as nothing was produced in reality, there is no possibility of our knowing any as a knowable or real entity.

12 Rama asked, “How can our common sight of the present, past and future prospects of this world and our daily perception of things, which are felt by all in general, be regarded as nothing by your teaching?”

13 Vasishta replied:—

Just as the dreamer’s vision in sleep, the deer’s mistake of water in a mirage in sand, the illusory sight of a second moon in the sky, and the appearance of our delusive fancies all disappear on correct observation, so the false perceptions of worldly things and the mistaken conceptions of our own existences are as false as the sights of false lights in empty air.

14 Rama asked, “If our knowledge of “I” and “you” and this and that is as false as that of all other things in the womb of the world, then why were these brought into existence? Why were they not left as ideas in the mind of their creator, as they had existed before he created them?”

15 Vasishta replied:—

It is certain that everything springs from its cause and not otherwise. What could be the material cause for the creation of the world after the dissolution of everything at the universal destruction?

16 Rama asked, “Sage, why cannot that being be the cause of recreation? That being remains undestroyed and indestructible after destruction of creation.”

17 Vasishta replied:—

Whatever substance abides in the cause is also in its effect. Hence the essence of Brahma, being composed of only intellect, could not give rise to the material world from itself, just as the substance of a pot cannot produce a painting or cloth.

18 Rama asked, “Sage, why has the world existed in its subtle ideal state in Brahma’s mind, from which it issued forth anew after dissolution of the former creation?”

19 Vasishta asked:—

Tell me, O intelligent Rama. How could the Lord God conceive the essence of the world in himself, which, like the productive seed, sprang out in the form of the future creation? Tell me, what sort of entity was it?

20 Rama said, “It is an entity of Divine Intelligence situated in that form in the subjective soul of God. It is neither a empty nothingness nor an unreal entity.”

21 Vasishta said:—

If it be so, O mighty armed Rama, that the three worlds are only Divine Intelligence, then tell me why bodies formed of pure intelligence and those having intelligent souls in them are subject to birth and death?

22 Rama said, “If there has been no creation at anytime, then tell me sage. From where has this fallacy of the existence of the world come to be in popular acceptance?”

23 Vasishta replied:—

The nonexistence of cause and effect proves the nothingness of being and not being. All that is thought of to exist is the thought and thinking of the Divine Soul, which is the triple entity of thinker, thinking, and thought together.

24 Rama asked, “The thinking soul thinks about the implements and the acts, just as the looker looks on the objects of his sight. But how can the divine looker be the dull spectacle, unless you maintain that the objective fuel burns the subjective fire?”

25 Vasishta replied:—

The viewer is not transformed into the view owing to impossibility of the existence of an objective view. The all seeing soul shows itself as one solid fullness of space in itself.

26 Rama asked, “The soul is only pure consciousness without beginning or end. It thinks only on its eternal and formless thoughts. How then can it present the form and appearance of the visible world?”

27 Vasishta replied:—

All that is thinkable, being all causeless of themselves, has no cause whatsoever. Taking away what is thinkable indicates the liberation of the intellect.

28 Rama asked, “If it is so, then tell me how we have the thoughts and conceptions of ourselves, our knowledge of the world, and our sense of motion and the like?”

29 Vasishta replied:—

The impossibility of cause precludes the possibility of any production. From where could the thinkable proceed when all is quite calm and quiet everywhere and the knowledge of creation is only an error and a delusion?

30 Rama asked, “Sage, describe how this error comes to overshadow the unknowable, unthinkable, and the immovable being that is self-manifest and ever untainted and clear by itself?”

31 Vasishta replied:—

There is no error or mistake here owing to the lack of any cause for it. Our knowledge of “I” and “you” is drowned in that of one permanent unity.

32 Rama asked, “O venerable sage, I am so bewildered by the error of my consciousness that I do not know what other question to ask. I am not as enlightened as the learned to be able argue more on this point.”

33 Vasishta replied:—

O Rama, do not stop asking your questions concerning the causality of Brahma until you are satisfied with the proof that he is without cause. Such questions test the purity of gold in stone. By knowing this, you will be able to rest in the blissful state of the supremely blessed.

34 Rama asked, “Sage, I grant as you say that there is no creation for lack of its cause, but tell me now. From where do I get my error of the thinkable and its thought?”

35 Vasishta replied:—

There is no error in the belief of uncaused creation and its perfect calmness. Because you lack the habit of thinking this way makes you so restless.

36 Rama asked, “Tell me sage, from where rises this habit and how do we discontinue our mode of thinking? How does rest proceed from the one mode of thought and our disquiet from the other mode?”

37 Vasishta replied:—

Belief in the eternal God breeds no error in that of the eternity of the world. The habit of thinking otherwise creates the error of creation. Therefore, be as sound in your mind as the calm minded sages have been.

38 Rama asked, “Please tell me sage, as you preach these lectures to your audience, what other mode of practice there may be to attain a quietude like that of the living liberated sages?”

39 Vasishta replied:—

The lesson we preach is to know one’s self as Brahman resting in the spirit of Brahman. This knowledge is sure to release the soul from its longing for liberation and its fear of bondage in this world.

40 Rama asked, “Your doctrine, by its all negative distinctions of any knowledge of time and space, and of our actions and things, serves to drive away our consciousness of all existence whatsoever from the mind.”

41 Vasishta replied:—

Yes. All our objective knowledge of the distinctions of time and place and of actions and things is the effect of our ignorance of the subjectivity of the soul. There is no substance other than the soul before the liberated spirit.

42 Rama asked, “The absence of any knowledge of an intelligent agent or an intelligible object completely deprives us of any intelligence at all. The impossibility of unity and duality being combined must preserve our distinct knowledge of the knowing principle and the known or knowable object.”

43 Vasishta replied:—

You get knowledge of God by your act of knowing him. Therefore the word is taken in its active sense by you and others. But with sages like ourselves who possess our intuitive knowledge of ourselves as the deity, it is only a self-reflexive verb.

44 Rama asked, “But how do you feel your finite selves or sense of ego and your limited knowledge to be the same as the infinite soul and omniscience of God? Do you ascribe your imperfections to the transcendental divinity, who is purer than the purest water and rarer than the rarefied ether?”

45 Vasishta replied:—

What we call individual ego is the feeling of the perfections of the Divine Soul in ourselves, and not attributing our imperfect personalities to him. The duality of living souls and the Divine Soul resembles the unity of the blowing breeze with the universal and still air.

46 Rama asked, “As waves of the ocean have been continually rising and existing in it, so the objective thoughts of one’s egoism and the world besides must be always rising and falling in the subjective soul of the Supreme Being, as well as in the souls of self-liberated persons.”

47 Vasishta replied:—

If so it be, then tell me. What is the fault, so much criticized in the popular belief of duality, in the creed of unity which is eternal and infinite, full and perfect in itself, quite calm and quiet in its nature, called the transcendent one?

48 Rama asked, “If it be so, then tell me sage. Who and what power conceives the ego, you, and others, which feels and enjoys all as their agent, if the fundamental fallacy of the world be the root of all?”

49 Vasishta replied:—

The knowledge of the reality of the objective or knowable things is the cause of our bondage in this world. True knowledge does not recognize their reality. Full intelligence which assumes the forms of all things in itself sees no difference between bondage or liberation.

50 Rama asked, “Intelligence, like light, does not show us all things the same way. Intelligence shows us the difference between a pot and a picture, just as light shows white and black to view. Again as the light of our eye sight shows us the different forms of outward objects, so our intelligence confirms and indicates the reality of our visual perceptions.”

51 Vasishta replied:—

All outer objects, having no cause for their creation or any source for their production, are as incredible as the offspring of a barren woman. The appearance of their reality which is presented to our sight is as false as that of silver in a conch shell or in glittering sands.

52 Rama asked, “The sight of this miserable world, whether it be true or false, is like a frightening apparition in a dream, attended only with pain. Therefore tell me the best way to avoid and get rid of this error.”

53 Vasishta replied:—

The world, being no better than a dream, is the reflection of the idea of its reality. That view is the best way to get rid of the trap of its tempting joys and sorrows.

54 Rama asked, “But how to effect this perspective to gain our bliss and rest? How do we put an end to the sight of the world which shows the sights of falsities as realities in a continuous series of deluding dreams?”

55 Vasishta replied:—

It is the due consideration of the antecedent and subsequent states of things that must remove the false impression of their reality. It is no different from how we reflect upon our dreams. Their reality is eliminated once we examine them.

56 Rama asked, “But how do the rising apparitions of the world disappear in the depth of our minds? What do we come to perceive after the traces of our memories of material substance have faded away?”

57 Vasishta responded:—

After the false appearance of the world has vanished from view, like the faded sight of a city, the detached mind of the unconcerned soul looks upon the world as a painting wholly washed out by rain.

58 Rama asked, “Then what becomes of the man after worldly sights and desires are decreased from his mind, like the material-looking objects of a dream, and after the mind rests in a state of total detachment?”

59 Vasishta replied:—

The world recedes from his sight. His liking of it and his desire for its enjoyment depart and die away along with it.

60 Rama asked, “How can this blind and deep rooted inclination, which has accompanied the soul from many previous births and branched out into multiple desires, suddenly give up its hold of the human heart?”

61 Vasishta replied:—

The knowledge of truth serves to disperse the rooted error of the material world from the mind. In the same way, the sense of the vanity of human desires and the bitterness of their enjoyment suddenly dispel their seeds from the heart.

62 Rama asked, “After the error of materiality and the visible spheres of worlds dissipate, what is that state of the mind which follows? How is its peace and tranquility at last?”

63 Vasishta replied:—

After dispelling the error of the material world, the mind reverts to its seat in the immaterial soul where it is released from all its earthly bonds and finds its rests in the state of detachment and mental indifference.

64 Rama asked, “Tell me sage, if the error of the world is as little as that of a child’s idea of sorrow, then what trouble is there for a man to remedy it?”

65 Vasishta replied:—

When all our desires, like the fond wishes of children, are wholly extinct in the mind, there remains no more cause for any sorrow. This you may well know from the association of desires in all minds.

66 Rama asked, “Tell me sage, what is the mind and how are we to know its nature and workings? What good do we derive by our best investigation of mental powers and properties?”

67 Vasishta replied:—

The inclination of the intellect towards intelligible objects is called the mind because it minds only what is thinkable. The right knowledge of the mind’s workings leads to the extinction of all our worldly desires.

68 Rama asked, “Tell me sage, how long does this tendency of the intellect towards the thinkable continue? When does the mind eliminate thoughts, which causes our extinction in the state of nirvana?”

69 Vasishta replied:—

If there is a complete absence of thinkable things, what is left for the intellect to be intent upon? The mind dwells only upon its thoughts, but the lack of thinkable objects leaves nothing for it to think upon.

70 Rama asked, “How can there be an absence of thinkable when we have ideas accumulated in memory to think and reflect upon? There is no one who can deny the existence of ideas which are always imprinted in the mind.

71 Vasishta replied:—

Whatever idea the ignorant have has no truth and is denied by the learned. The only conception the wise have is that of a nameless and formless unity.

72 Rama asked, “What do the ignorant know of this triple world which has no truth or reality to it? What is the true knowledge of the wise about the world which is inexpressible in words?”

73 Vasishta replied:—

What the ignorant know about the duality of the world is wholly untrue from first to last. The true knowledge of the wise neither recognizes a duality nor acknowledges its production.

74 Rama asked, “Of course, whatever is not produced in the beginning cannot exist at anytime. But how is it that this unreal and unapparent nothing could come to produce in us its conception of a something?”

75 Vasishta replied:—

This causeless and uncaused unreality of the world appears as a real entity like a daydream presents the false sight of the cosmos as a reality.

76 Rama said, “What we see in our dreams and the images we conceive in our imagination are only perceptions derived from our impressions of them in our waking state.”

77 Vasishta replied:—

O Rama, tell me whether the things you see in your dream or conceive in your imagination are exactly of the same forms that you see in your waking state?

78 Rama said, “The things we see in our dream and conceive in our imagination appear to us in the same light as they show themselves in our waking state.”

79 Vasishta questioned:—

If the impressions of the waking state appear in our dreaming, then tell me Rama, why do you find your house standing in the morning which you saw to have fallen down in you dream?

80 Rama answered, “I understand that the things seen in waking do not appear the same in dreams. But tell me sage, why do they seem to resemble those that have been seen before?”

81 Vasishta replied:—

It is not the idea of anything that appears as a reality in our minds, but the inherent impression of the world in the soul that exhibits it to us from first to last.

82 Rama said, “I understand that this world is no better than a dream. But tell me sage, how do we remove our fallacy of its reality which holds us fast like a demon?”

83 Vasishta replied:—

Consider how this dream of the world came into fashion and what may be its cause. Knowing that the cause is not different from its effect, see this visible creation in the light of its invisible origin.

84 Rama said, “But as the mind is the cause of the sights seen in our dreams in sleep, it therefore must be the same with its creation of this world, which is equally insubstantial and without decay as itself.”

85 Vasishta replied:—

So it is, O most intelligent Rama. The world is truly the mind of God, which is nothing other than the consolidation of Divine Consciousness. Thus the world being situated in the mind, it is only this mind that exhibits these dreamlike shows which originate from it. There is no other source.

86 Rama asked, “But why can I not identify creation with Brahman, the Divine Mind? The relationship of sameness exists between a component part and its integral whole, as there is between the branch of a tree and the tree itself. But it would be absurd to identify the undivided and formless Brahman with the divided and formal world.”

87 Vasishta replied:—

It is impossible, O Rama, to identify this frail perishable world with the eternal Brahman, who is uncreated, quite calm and quiescent, and intact in his nature.

88 Rama added, “In the end I find by a haphazard way that my conception of the world from first to last is false, as is the error of my attributing the qualities of activity and passivity to the nature of the transcendent being.”

89 Vasishta concluded saying:—

Now I have fully exposed the false views of the world, both by the elegance of my poetic speech and by the enlightening reasoning of the learned. Both eloquence and reasoning are calculated to remove the mistaken views of the emptiness and delusion of the world by establishing the truth of all being composed of the essence of the one sole and Supreme Entity.