Chapter 207 — Vasishta Replies to the Questions (of the Buddhist): Non-Dualism in a Nutshell

Vasishta replied:—

Hear me prince and I will clearly expound to you the doctrine which will immediately root out your doubts.

All these entities in the world are nonexistent nothings forever though they appear as realities in our consciousness. We do not consider the true nature of reality, so we think that whatever appears in any manner in our consciousness is as real as it seems to be. That is the nature of consciousness. Everyone who knows what consciousness is thinks it is the same as the bodiless soul. Its body is the knowledge in the mind, either in waking or dreaming. This false consciousness is believed to be its body, and there is nothing else besides this that they call a solid body.

The world shines before us like the sights seen in a dream. The absence of all causes for the production of the world prove that it is nothing other than the phantom of a dream. This pure and unstained knowledge of the universe is called Brahman himself. The very same shines as the world, which is nothing other than that.

Thus the world remains quite pure and unchanged from ever before and forever more. So it is thought and said to be by the Vedas and all good and great scriptures, and also by the common agreement of all thinking men in all ages and countries. Those who deny the sole existence of the Being which is impressed in the consciousness of all beings, the Being full and perfect everywhere and acknowledged by all great souls, are the most ignorant fools and resemble croaking frogs living in the recesses of dark caves and pits.

10 There are many who are deluded by their ideas of the appearances of things and the evidence of their senses. They have fallen into the error of understanding the gross body as causing consciousness and inner impressions. 11 They are exuberant with their wrong ideas. They are not worthy of our discourse because one cannot converse with those who are intoxicated without liquor and are learned fools. 12 When the discourse of the learned is not capable of answering the questions of men in all places, such discourse is to be understood as foolish talk of the universe. 13 He whose beliefs rely upon only what can be sensed and who regards the believer of the invisible to be a fool, is considered for his illogical reasoning to be like a block of stone. 14 The fool who maintains this materialistic doctrine in opposition to all rational philosophy is said to be like a frog in a dark cave because he is blind both to the past which is out of his sight and to the invisible future. He is concerned only with what is present before him.

15 The Vedas, the sayings of wise men, and the inferences of their right reasoning, as I have maintained in these lectures, can remove doubts in these matters. 16 If the conscious body is consciousness, then why is the dead body unconscious of anything?

17 This world is an imaginary city of the Divine Mind in its form of Brahma, the creator. Hence the phenomenon of the world appears to our minds like a phantom in our dream. 18 Therefore all that you see is only the creation of Divine Consciousness which is an intellectual entity in itself. You are not mistaken in your judgment if you consider them as phantoms in your dream appearing in the emptiness of your mind. 19 Hence this earth and the skies, these hills and cities, are all only appearances in the void of the intellect, the conceptions of your mind like those appearing in the reveries of dream, or like castles built in the air.

20 The dense emptiness of self-consciousness is called the great Brahma or the personal god of creation. The display of his will in the material is known as Viraj or the visible universe. Thus the pure and distinct consciousness of Brahman is condensed into the form of the world. 21 Whatever is imagined in the imaginary city of Brahma is conceived as existent in reality, just like you imagine objects of your desire or fancy to be actually present before you. 22 Whatever is thought of in one’s imagination, whether a fancied city or a fairyland, seems to be present before him for the time being. 23 Brahma, in his form of the mind, thinks of living and dying bodies, so are they thought of by all mankind.

24 After the great dissolution of the world, it is said that the world is reproduced from nothing, but because there is no material cause that can produce a material world, it is certain there is no material being in existence. 25 Brahma, the lord of creatures, having got rid of the world upon its dissolution, was also freed from all his memories and ideas of creation forever. Therefore only the reflection of divine light appears as the world before us. 26 Thus the Supreme Soul of Brahma reflects itself in itself in the beginning in the manner of an imaginary castle of his will, which is as air-drawn as the visible sky in the invisible vacuum. This is known as the cosmos or world existing in empty space.

27 An imaginary castle is the creation of the intellect and presents only its intellectual form to our minds. In the same way, the world appears to us in its intellectual form, an evolution of the intellect without any other cause for its appearance. 28 Whether there is anybody anywhere, there is empty Consciousness which is everywhere. Know that the Divine Spirit pervades all over this totality, whether it be an embodied duality or an empty unity.

29 Hence the empty mind of a dead body sees the form of the whole world within its emptiness. The empty mind of a living being, in its imagination or dream, sees the shapes of both solid and subtle bodies. 30 The living man thinks this immaterial world is a solid mass of dull matter. The dead person thinks this empty universe is a solid and substantial existence lying exposed before him in its mind. 31 But the enlightened or awakened soul of a living body sees no trace of scenes of its dream upon waking, so the soul of a redeemed dead being sees no trace of the objects and sights of this world upon its redemption and bliss in the next world. 32 The very same is the case with the enlightened soul of everybody in this world. It bears only inner conceptions within itself. There is no outward perception. Therefore there is no material reality in existence because there is no material cause in emptiness.

33 As a sleeping man sees an imaginary world in his dream as if it were real, so the unenlightened person sees the phenomenal world as a factual reality before him. In the same way, the souls of the dead see the world of their departed spirits in the emptiness before them. 34 The souls of the departed see earth and heaven and mountains and everything else as they had seen before appearing in the open air. 35 The departed soul perceives its separation from a dead body and thinks of its rebirth in another body on earth where it will have its enjoyments and suffering again as before. 36 The soul never gets rid of this delusion of its reincarnation as long as it neglects to seek its salvation and final liberation. It is freed from its error of reproduction through knowledge of truth and the absence of desire.

37 The consciousness of the soul, its righteous or unrighteous desire, represents the picture of this airy world in the hollow sphere of the mind. 38 Therefore the world is neither substantial nor empty but the display of Divine Consciousness. The lack of this knowledge is the source of all misery to man. Its true knowledge, that it is a show of divine wisdom, is filled with all bliss and joy.