1 Rama asked, “If it is as you say, sage, the world must be a great riddle as it can neither be said to be in existence with all its contents, or be a perfect nothing with everything quite extinct in it. 2 This existence that shows itself to sight as the world appears as a delusion or deception, though it cannot properly be called an illusion if it is composed of divine essence as you say.”
3 Vasishta replied:—
The accidental appearance in which Brahman manifests himself of his own accord is known to him as the world and exists in himself.
4 Rama asked, “How does Brahman manifest himself as the world before space exists and after its extinction? How does the Divine Spirit shine itself as the world when there is no light in the heavens?”
5 Vasishta replied:—
The world shines with the light of Divine Consciousness. Know that this light proceeds from the Divine Spirit which is thus diffused all over the universe. 6 As the light of the lamp enlightens a house with its brightness, the holy light of the Divine Spirit shines of itself without presenting an outward appearance or having anyone to look upon it. 7 Thus it is an immaterial and imperishable entity, without any appearance or observer to see it. It shines with the light of the intellect upon the basis or stand of the Divine Spirit.
8 It shines with an appearance visible only in the sight of the spirit which constantly looks upon it, as it sees its dreams in sleep. 9 It shines only in the light of the intellect and it appears as the created world before its creation. All creation’s visible and shining brightness is derived from the Supreme. 10 The one Supreme Intellect alone assumes the triple forms of the sight, seer, and seeing in the beginning of creation. It shows itself as the created world of its own nature and accord.
11 Our dreams and imaginations resemble this appearance. In the same manner, this creation shines before us with the light of consciousness. 12 This world is like an empty body appearing in the emptiness of Consciousness. Creation has neither beginning nor end. It is a development of the Consciousness which is distributed through it.
13 It has become habitual to our nature to suppose the existence of the world, but the false impression of its sight is lost in the consciousness of high-minded men. 14 To them this creation presents no visible form, or any sensible appearance at all. To them creation is only the appearance of a fallacy, like the mistake of a man in a statue or taking a false apparition as real. 15 In this manner the blunder of a duality in the soul produces a dualism in the mind. But before the existence of creation, there existed no dualism of the creator and the created, or of the one who manifests and the manifested.
16 The lack of a cause causes the appearance of a duality. But tell me how could there be a cause when there is no creation in existence? 17 Only Divine Consciousness manifests itself in the manner of the world. There is a complete absence of all visible objects. Though this seems to be the waking state of the Supreme Soul, yet it is neither its waking, sleeping or dreaming state.
18 The visible world is no production of dream but a manifestation of Brahman himself. Only Divine Consciousness exists in the manner of the infinite void before the birth of the atmospheric void of the world. 19 The Intellect which beholds this universe as its body, without being distributed or changed in the form of the world, is purely a spiritual or empty form that manifested itself in this visible form before it came to existence. 20 This visible world that is so manifest to view is as void and empty as the empty air.
21 Now knowing this in your own understanding, you must remain devoid of all dualism in your mind. Be as mute as a block of stone. Give no heed in your heart to the words of the universe. Do not care for their sayings of earthly enjoyments.