Yoga Vasistha [English], Volume 1-4

by Vihari-Lala Mitra | 1891 | 1,121,132 words | ISBN-10: 8171101519

The English translation of the Yoga-vasistha: a Hindu philosophical and spiritual text written by sage Valmiki from an Advaita-vedanta perspective. The book contains epic narratives similar to puranas and chronologically precedes the Ramayana. The Yoga-vasistha is believed by some Hindus to answer all the questions that arise in the human mind, an...

Chapter LVII - Phenomena of dreaming

Argument. Unsubstantiality of the aerial body of Lila and the Spiritual bodies of Yogis.

Vasishtha continued:—

They beheld there the younger Lila of Viduratha, who had arrived there after her demise, and before the death of that king.

2. She was in her former habit and mode with the same body, and the same tone and tenor of her mind; she was also as beautiful in all her features, as in her former graceful form and figure when living.

3. She was the same in every part of her body, and wore the same apparel as before. She had the very ornaments on her person, with the difference that it was sitting quietly in the same place, and not moving about as before.

4. She kept flapping her pretty fan (chowry), over the corpse of the king; and was gracing the ground below, like the rising moon brightening the skies above.

5. She sat quiet, reclining her moonlike face on the palm of her left hand; and decorated with shining gems, she appeared as a bed of flowers, with new-blown blossoms on it.

6. With the glances of her beautiful eyes, she shed showers of flowers on all sides; and the brightness of her person, beamed with the beams of the etherial moon.

7. She seemed to have approached to the lord of men, like the goddess Lakshmi, appearing before the god Vishnu; and with the heaps of flowers before her, she seemed as Flora or the vernal season in person.

8. Her eyes were fixed on the countenance of her husband, as if she was pondering his future well-being; and there was a melancholy like that of the waning moon, spread over her face, to think of his present woeful state.

9. They beheld the damsel, who however had no sight of them; because their trust was in truth, and saw everything clearly; while her views being otherwise, she could not discern their spiritual forms.

Rama said:—

10. You have said Sir, that the former Lila had repaired there in her reverie and spiritual form, by the favour of the goddess of wisdom.

11. How do you now describe her as having a body, which I want to know how and whence it came to her.

Vasishtha replied:—

12. What is this body of Lila, Rama! It is no more true than a false imagination of her gross spirit, like that of water in the mirage. (It is the conception of one's self as so and so, that impresses him with that belief also).

13. It is the spirit alone that fills the world, and all bodies are creations of the fancy. This spirit is the Intellect of God, and full of felicity in itself.

14. The same understanding which Lila had of herself to her end, accompanied her to her future state; and the same notion of her body followed her there, though it was reduced to dust, as the ice is dissolved into water.

15. The spiritual bodies also, are sometimes liable to fall into error, and think themselves as corporeal bodies, as we mistake a rope for the serpent.

16. The belief in the materiality of any body, as composed of the earth and other elements, is as false as it is to believe the hares to have horns on their heads.

17. Whoso thinks himself to have become a stag in his dream, has no need of seeking another stag for comparing himself with it (i. e. Men are actuated by their own opinion of themselves).

18. An untruth appears as truth at one time, and disappears at another;as the error of a snake in a rope, vanishes upon the knowledge of its falsehood.

19. So the knowledge of the reality of all things, in the minds of the un-enlightened; is dispersed upon conviction of their unreality in the minds of the enlightened.

20. But the ignorant, that have a belief in the reality of this world of dreams, believe also in the transmigration of the animal soul, like the revolution of the globe on its own axis.

21. Rama asked:—If the bodies of Yogis be of a spiritual nature, how is it that they are seen to walk about in the sights of men?

Vasishtha replied:—

22. The Yogi may take upon himself various forms, without the destruction of his former body; as the human soul may deem itself transformed to a stag or any other being in a dream, without undergoing any change in its spiritual essence. (The identity of the self is not lost under any form of the body. Locke).

23. His spiritual body is invisible to all, though it may appear as visible to their sight. It is like the particles of frost seen in sun-beams, and as the appearance of a white spot in autumnal sky (when there is no frost nor cloud in it).

24. No body can easily discern the features of a Yogi's body, nor are they discernible by other Yogis. They are as imperceptible as the features of a bird flying in the air.

25. It is from the error of judgement, that men think some Yogis to be dead and others to be living; but their spiritual bodies are never subject to death or common sight.

26. The embodied soul is subject to errors, from which the souls of Yogis are free; because their knowledge of truth has purged the mistake of a snake in the rope, from their souls.

27. What is this body and whence it is, and what of its existence or destruction? What is lasting remains forever and is freed from the ignorance it had before (and it is the soul which is ever lasting and free from error).

Rama said:—

28. Whether the embodied soul takes the spiritual form, or is it something other than this. Tell me this and remove my doubt.

Vasishtha said:—

29. I have told this repeatedly to you, my good Rama! and how is it that you do not understand it yet, that there exists only the spiritual body, and the material form is nothing?

30. It is by habit of constant meditation, that you must know your spiritual state, and subdue your sense of corporeality; and as you abstain from the latter, so you attain to the former state.

31. Then there will be an end of your sense of the gravity and solidity of objects, like the disappearance of the visions of a dreaming man, when he comes to wake.

32. The body of a Yogi becomes as light and subtile, as the evanescent appearances in a dream (the fleeting objects of vision).

33. And as a dreaming man feels the lightness of his body, in his dreaming rambles; so the Yogi finds his solid body, as volatile as air in all places.

34. The expectation of the long life of a master-head in his material body, is realized in the spiritual one, after the corpse has been burnt away. (Longevity consists in the long life of the spirit and not of the body).

35. Every body must have to assume his spiritual frame afterwards; but the Yogi finds it in his life-time, by the enlightenment of his intellect.

36. As a man upon his waking from sleep, remembers his having an intellectual form in his dreaming state; so the Yogi is conscious of his spiritual body in his own intellect.

37. The notion of the corporeal body is a mere fallacy, like that of the snake in a rope; hence nothing is lost by the loss of this body, nor is anything gained by its production and regeneration.

Rama said:—

38. Now tell me Sir, what the inmates of the house thought this Lila to be; whether they viewed her as an embodied being or a bodiless apparition appearing before them.

39. Vasishtha answered:—They took the sorrowful queen to be some friend of the king, and to have come from some place they knew not what and where.

40. They did not like to examine the matter, because it is the nature of the ignorant like that of brutes, to believe what they see, without investigation or consideration of its nature.

41. As a stone flung at random flies off from its mark, so the brutish and ignorant folks go astray, from hitting at the true mark of a thing placed before them.

42. As we know not what becomes of the objects of our dream, and whither they are fled upon our waking; such is the case with our material bodies, which are as false and fleeting as our delusive dreams.

Rama said:—

43. Tell me Sir, where the hill we dream of, is hid upon our waking; kindly remove my doubt, as the wind disperses the autumnal clouds.

Vasishtha said:—

44. All things appearing in our dream or residing in our desire as the hill, &c., are absorbed in our consciousness whence they sprang; just as the motion of bodies subsides in the air which gives the vibration.

45. As the motion of the air mixes with the fixed ether, so the dreams and desires which we are conscious of, set in the unchanging soul whence they have their rise.

46. Our dreams like our knowledge of all other things, are made known to us by our consciousness, the nature of which is unknown to us as that of the inward soul. (Consciousness and the soul are represented as two different predicaments, and the one is not predicated of the other, as we say—the conscious soul).

47. We do not find our dreams and desires, as distinct from our consciousness of them; they appertain to it in the same manner, as fluidity to water and motion to the air.

48. Whatever difference may appear to exist between them, is the effect of sheer ignorance; and this gross ignorance is the feature of this world, known as the phantom of fancy.

49. As it is impossible to conceive two co-eternal and co-existent causes together (as an efficient and a material cause); so it is wrong to suppose the dream as a distinct existence or otherwise, than an act of our consciousness.

50. There is no difference whatever between the dreaming and waking states; in dream we see a false city appearing to view, so in waking you behold the unreal world, standing as a reality before you.

51. Nothing can be truly existent that appears as true in a dream; this being always true of the visions in a dream, it is likewise so of the external phenomena, appearing to the sight in our day dreams.

52. As the hill in a dream, immediately disappears into airy nothing, so the material world sooner or later disappears into naught by thinking on its nihility.

53. A Yogi is seen by some to mount in the air, and by others as a dead body lying on the ground; and this is according to one's belief in his spiritual or material body, that every one sees him in his own way.

54. The view of the phenomenal world as distinct from the Unity, is as false as a sight in delusion or magical show; or a dream or delirium of the great Illusion—maya.

55. Others who are blinded by similar errors, entertain as in a dream, the notion of their reproduction after being awakened from the insensibility of their death like sleep; but the spiritual body of the Yogi shines and soars upward, after passing over the mirage of the false appearances of the world.