Chapter 198 — Excellence of Equanimity, Humility and Universal Benevolence

1 Vasishta continued:—

Rama, hear me tell you something again to perfect your understanding. The repetition of a lesson serves to impress it more deeply in the memory of inattentive persons. Before I told you about the existence of the world. I spoke at length about its creation or production, whereby you have come to know that both the appearance and existence of the world are mere fallacies of our understanding. Next I explained in the Upasama Prakarana (Book V), my lecture on detachment, of the necessity of observing and maintaining a total indifference with regard to all creation. In my discourse on detachment, I described the different stages of detachment. The attainment of the highest summit of detachment ultimately will contribute to your obtaining the blissfulness of the nirvana numbness, which is discussed in this book on nirvana samadhi. Now you shall have to hear about how the learned conduct themselves in this phenomenal world, after they have learnt and obtained whatever there is to be known and obtained here.

Having received his birth in this world, a man from his boyhood should accustom himself to see phenomena as they are without any concern for himself in order to be secure and happy without reliance upon others. 7 Regard everything in the same light as yourself and observe a universal benevolence towards all beings. Then placing your reliance upon your own self-control, you can be safe and secure everywhere. Know that this plan of your even-mindedness produces fruit of the most pure and delicious taste, bearing blossoms of unbounded prosperity and flowers of unfading good fortune. Humble disposition yields the fruit of universal benevolence and makes the prosperity of the whole world wait at its service. 10 Neither the possession of a kingdom on earth nor the enjoyment of the best beauties here can yield that everlasting and essential happiness derived from the equanimity of the humble.

11 The utmost limit of a cool disposition and a entire lack of all anxious cares are the two remedies to ignore the fervor and vapors of sorrow from the human mind. 12 Among the spheres of all these worlds it is very rare to meet a person filled with the nectar of cool mental detachment who is friendly to his enemies and whose enemies are his friends, and who looks on all alike as he does to himself. 13 The mind of the enlightened man shines as brightly as the luminous moon and dazzles with drops of ambrosial dews. The sages all lived to drink the cooling drink of immortality, as you learn from the lives of the royal sage Janaka and others of immortal fame.

14 The man practicing his equality of self restraint has his faults described as his qualities, his sorrows seem as his pleasure, and his death is eternal life unto him. 15 Equality is always accompanied by good grace, good fortune and serenity, all of which constantly attend the detached sage, just as a faithful wife fondly clings to the sides of her beloved husband. 16 Equanimity is the perpetual prosperity of the soul, and not the transitory merriment of the mind. Therefore there is no treasure whatsoever that is a stranger to humility of spirit.

17 He who is honest in all his dealings, steady in his own profession, and liberal in his mind is as valuable as the richest gem and is treasured by all as a god upon earth. 18 An even minded man, righteous and upright in all his doings and dealings, magnanimous in his soul and benevolent in his mind, is neither burnt by fire nor stained by water. 19 Who can defeat the man who does what is right and observes things in their true light, who is not susceptible of joy or grief? 20 All his friends and enemies rely upon a righteous and unflinching man. He is honored by his king and master and loved by all wise men with whom he has any dealing.

21 Wise and even sighted men are of indifferent minds. They do not try to flee from evil or rejoice receiving any good. They are content with whatever comes to pass upon them, whether good or bad, because they care for nothing. 22 Humble minded men are unmindful of any good or desirable thing which they may happen to lose because they rest in the happy state of their equanimity of which no calamity or chance can deprive them. 23 Men enjoying the bliss of equanimity laugh to scorn at the tribulations of the world. They live uninjured under all the varying circumstances of life. Even the gods venerate them because of the unchanging sameness of their minds.

24 If the unfavorable course of events ever happens to pass a shadow over the face of a patient man, the inner equanimity of his mind still serves to shed ambrosial beams of a tranquil moonlight within himself. 25 Whatever an even minded man does for himself and whatever he says to criticize others’ misdeeds are all praised with applause by the majority of men. 26 The public approve whatever good or evil is known or done by an impartial observer at anytime whether past or present. 27 A man who sees all things in the same light of detachment is never displeased or dejected with any calamity or danger that may befall him at anytime.

28 Prince Shibi of old is recorded in history as having given away pieces of flesh from his own body to feed a hawk and save the life of a pigeon captured in its claws. 29 Consider the impassive King of Anga who did not sink into despondence seeing his beloved consort maltreated before his sight. 30 Mind also how Yudhishthira, the King of Trigarta, lost a wager with a horrible rakshasa yet offered his only son to the fiend. 31 Look at the great King Janaka, how he remained undismayed and undejected at the burning of his well decorated city of Mithila. 32 Look at the quiet and submissive prince of Salyadesa, how he calmly struck off his own head from his body, as if it were the plucking a lotus flower from its stem, in order to satisfy the demand of a god. 33 The Sauvira sovereign, who had won the big Airavata elephant of the god Indra in combat with him, in the end returned the elephant as a gift to the same god with as much unconcern as one offers a heap of white kundu flowers or huge heaps of rotten straw upon a sacrificial fire. 34 You have heard how the elephant named Kundapa used his trunk to help the brahmin’s cows, lifting them from being stuck in the mud. Afterwards he devoted his body to serve the brahmin, for which he was taken up to heaven in a celestial car.

35 Let your continued observance of toleration preserve you from acts of intolerance, which tend at best to oppress others. Know that the spirit of intolerance is like the demon of Kadamba forest. 36 Remember the young and gentle Jada Bharata who by the natural dullness of his mind devoured the firebrand that was thrown into his alms pot, thinking it was a piece of meat, and without any injury to himself. 37 Think of the sober-minded Dharmavyadha who in spite of his following the profession of a butcher all his lifetime, was after death taken to heaven and placed in the company of the souls of righteous men. 38 Think of the detachment and lack of desire of the royal sage Kapardana, who being seated in the garden of paradise in his youth, surrounded by celestial ladies, felt no desire for any of them.

39 Know how many princes and lords of peoples, from the unperturbed detachment of their souls, have renounced their realms and society of mankind and taken themselves to lonely forests and solitary caves of the Vindhyan Hills where they spent their lives in motionless samadhi. 40 Think of the great sages and saints and divine and devoted adepts who have passed away and were adored by even the gods for the steadiness of their holy meditation observing their rigid and steady vows of universal indifference. 41 Remember the many examples of monarchs, ordinary men, and base and mean hunters who have been honored in all ages and countries for their observance of an undisturbed equality in all states and circumstances of their lives.

42 All intelligent men strictly observe the rule of preserving their equanimity throughout life, whether it be to achieve success and understanding of every kind in this life or the next. 43 They neither long for longevity nor desire their death in difficulties but live as long as they have to live, and act as they are called to act, without any grudge or murmur. 44 The business of a wise man is to conduct himself in life with a content mind and tranquil attitude in favorable and unfavorable circumstances, as well as in the happiness or misery of himself or others.