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 CX - Description of mind

Argument. The great Magnitude of mental powers, and government of the Mind.

Vasishtha said:—

1. Since the subjective Intellect chit, has derived the power of knowing the objective Intelligibles chetyas, from the supreme cause in the beginning; it went on to multiply and diversify the objects of its intelligence, and thus fell from the knowledge of the one intelligent Universal Ego, to the delusion of the particular non egos ad infinitum. (The knowledge of the subjective universal soul being lost, the mind is left to be bewildered in the objective particulars to no end).

2. Thus Rama, the faculties of the mind, being deluded by the unrealities of particulars, they continue to attribute specialities and differences to the general ones to their utter error. (Multiplication and differentiation of objects, mislead the mind from the universal unity of the only one).

3. The mental powers are ever busy to multiply the unrealities to infinity, as ignorant children are prone to create the false goblins of their fancy, only for their terror and trouble.

4. But the reality soon disperses the troublesome unrealities, and the unsullied understanding drives off the errors of imagination, as the sun-shine dispels the darkness.

5. The mind brings distant objects near it, and throws the nearer ones at a distance; it trots and flutters in living beings, as boys leap and jump in bushes after little birds.

6. The wistful mind is fearful, where there is nothing to fear; as the affrighted traveller takes the stump of a tree for demon, standing on his way.

7. The suspicious mind suspects a friend for a foe, as a drunken sot thinks himself lying on the ground, while he is walking along.

8. The distracted mind, sees the fiery Saturn in the cooling moon; and the nectar being swallowed as poison, acts as poison itself.

9. The building of an aerial castle however untrue, is taken for truth for the time being; and the mind dwelling on hopes, is a dreamer in its waking state.

10. The disease of desire is the delusion of the mind; therefore it is to be rooted out at once with all diligence from the mind.

11. The minds of men being entangled in the net of avarice like poor stags, are rendered as helpless as these beasts of prey, in the forest of the world.

12. He who has removed by his reasoning, the vain anxieties of his mind, has displayed the light of his soul, like that of the unclouded sun to sight.

13. Know therefore that it is mind that make, the man and not his body that is called as such: the body is dull matter, but the mind is neither a material nor immaterial substance (as the spirit).

14. Whatever is done with the mind or voluntarily by any man, know Rama, that act to be actually done by him (since an involuntary action is indifferent by itself); and whatsoever is shunned by it, know that to be kept out in actu.

15. The mind alone makes the whole world, to the utmost end of the spheres; the mind is the vacuum, and it is the air and earth in its greatness. (Since it comprehends them all in itself; and none of these is perceptible without the mind).

16. If the mind do not join a thing with its known properties and qualities; then the sun and the luminaries would appear to be without their light (as it is with the day-blind bats and owls, that take the day light for darkness, and the dark night for their bright day light).

17. The mind assumes the properties of knowledge and ignorance, whence it is called a knowing or unknowing thing; but these properties are not to be attributed to the body, for a living body is never known to be wise, nor a dead carcase an ignorant person.

18. The mind becomes the sight in its act of seeing, and it is hearing also when it hears any thing; it is the feeling of touch in connection with the skin, and it is smelling when connected with the nose.

19. So it becomes taste being connected with the tongue and palate, and takes many other names besides, according to its other faculties. Thus the mind is the chief actor on the stage of the living animal body.

20. It magnifies the minute and makes the true appear as untrue; it sweetens the bitter and sours the sweet, and turns a foe to a friend and vice-versa.

21. In whatever manner the mind represents itself in its various aspects, the same becomes evident to us both in our perceptions and conceptions of them (i. e. every body takes things in the same light, as his mind represents them unto him).

22. It was by virtue of such a representation, that the dreaming mind of king Haris chandra, took the course of one night for the long period of a dozen of years.

23. It was owing to a similar idea of the mind, that the whole city of Brahma appeared to be situated within himself.

24. The presentation of a fair prospect before the imagination, turns the present pain to pleasure; as a man bound in chains forgets his painful state, in the hopes of his release or installation on the next morning.

25. The mind being well fortified and brought under the subjection of reason, brings all the members of the body and internal passions of the heart under our control; but the loose and ungoverned mind, gives a loose rein to them for their going astray; as the loosened thread of a string of pearls, scatters the precious grains at random over the ground.

26. The mind that preserves its clear sightedness, and its equanimity and unalterableness in all places, and under all conditions; retains its even temper and nice discernment at all times, under the testimony of its consciousness, and approbation of its good conscience.

27. With your mind acquainted with the states of all things, but undisturbed by the fluctuations of the objects that come under your cognizance, you must retain, O Rama! your self-possession at all times, and remain like a dumb and dull body (without being moved by any thing).

28. The mind is restless of its own nature, with all its vain thoughts and desires within itself; but the man is carried abroad as by its current; over hills and deserts and across rivers and seas, to far and remote cities and countries (in search of gain).

29. The waking mind deems the objects of its desire, to be as sweet as honey, and whatever it does not like, to be as bitter as gall; although they may be sweet to taste (i. e. the blindness of sensuous minds in their choice of evil for good, and slighting of good as evil).

30. Some minds with too much self reliance in themselves, and without considering the true nature of things; give them different forms and colours, according to their own conceptions and opinions, though they are far from truth. (Every man delights in his own hobby horse).

31. The mind is a pulsation of the power of the Divine Intellect, that ventilates in the breeze and glares in luminous bodies, melts in the liquids and hardens in solid substances. (Compare the lines of Pope: "Glows in the sun &c." The mind is dependent on the intellect, and the mental operations, are subordinate to the intellectual).

32. It vanishes in vacuity and extends in the space; it dwells in everything at its pleasure, and flies from everywhere at its will.

33. It whitens the black and blackens the white, and is confined to no place or time but extends through all. (The mind can make a heaven of hell, and a hell of heaven).

34. The mind being absent or settled elsewhere, we do not taste the sweet, which we suck or swallow or grind under the teeth or lick with the tongue.

35. What is seen by the mind, is seen with the eyes, and what is unseen by it, is never seen by the visual organs; as things lying in the dark are not perceptible to the sight.

36. The mind is embodied in the organic body, accompanied by the sensible organs; but it is the mind that actuates the senses and receives the sensations; the senses are the products of the mind, but the mind is not a production of sensations.

37. Those great souls (philosophers), who have investigated into the manner of the connection between the two quite different substances of the body and mind, and those learned men who show us their mutual relations (the psychologists), are truly worthy of our veneration.

38. A handsome woman decked with flowers in the braids of her hair, and looking loosely with her amorous glances, is like a log of wood, in contact with the body of one, whose mind is absent from himself. (The dalliance of a woman is dead and lost, to the unfeeling heart and unmindful man).

39. The dispassionate Yogi that sits reclined in his abstract meditation in the forest, has no sense of his hands being bitten off by a voracious beast from his body; owing to the absence of his mind.

40. The mind of the sage, which is practised in mental abstraction, may with ease be inclined to convert his pleasures to pain, and his pains to pleasure.

41. The mind employed in some other thought and inattentive to the present discourse, finds it as a detached piece of wood dissevered by an axe. (The presence of the mind joins the parts of a lecture, as its inadvertence disjoins them from their consecutive order).

42. A man sitting at home, and thinking of his standing on the precipice of a mountain, or falling into the hollow cave below, shudders at the idea of his imminent danger: so also one is startled at the prospect of a dreary desert even in his dream, and is bewildered to imagine the vast deep under the clouds. (See Hume on the Association of Ideas).

43. The mind feels a delight at the sight of a lovely spot in its dream, and at seeing the hills, cities and houses stretching or the clusters of stars shining in the extended plain of the sky. (Objects which are pleasurable or painful to the sight, give pleasure and pain to the mind, when it is connected with that sense).

44. The restless mind is busy to stretch many a hill and dale and cities and houses in our dreams, as these are the billows in the vast ocean of the soul.

45. As the waters of the sea display themselves in huge surges, billows and waves, so the mind which is in the body, displays itself in the various sights exhibited in our dreams. (Meaning, the dreams to be transformations (Vikaras) of the mind, like the waves of the water).

46. As the leaves and branches, flowers and fruits are the products of the shooting seed; so every thing that is seen in our waking dreams, is the creations of our minds.

47. As a golden image is no other than the very gold, so the creatures of our living dreams, are not otherwise than the creations of our fanciful mind.

48. As a drop or shower of rain, and a foam or froth of the wave, are but different forms of water; so the varieties (manata), of sensible objects are but formations of the same mind. (Lit. formations or transformations of the mind).

49. These are but the thoughts of our minds, that are seen in our waking dreams; like the various garbs which an actor puts on him, to represent different characters in a play.

50. As the king Lavana believed himself to be a chandala for some time, so do we believe ourselves to be so and so, by the thoughts of our minds.

51. Whatever we think ourselves to be in our consciousness, the same soon comes to pass upon us; therefore mould the thoughts of your mind in any way you like (i. e. as one thinks himself to be, so will he find himself to become in his own conceit).

52. The embodied being beholds many cities and towns, hills and rivers before him; all which are but visions of waking dreams, and stretched out by the inward mind.

53. One sees a demon in a deity, and a snake where there is no snake; it is the idea that fosters the thought, as the king Lavana fostered the thoughts of his ideal forms.

54. As the idea of man includes that of a woman also, and the idea of father comprises that of the son likewise; so the mind includes the wish, and the wish is accompanied by its action with every person. (As when I say I have a mind to do so, I mean I have a wish to do it; and the same wish leads me to its execution. Or that the action is concomitant with the will so the phrase: "take will for the deed").

55. It is by its wish that the mind is subject to death, and to be born again in other bodies; and though it is a formless thing of its nature, yet it is by its constant habit of thinking, that it contracts the notion of its being a living substance (jiva).

56. The mind is busy with its thoughts of long drawn wishes, which cause its repeated births and deaths, and their concomitants of hopes and fears, and pleasure and pain. (The wish is father of thoughts, and these mould our acts and lives).

57. Pleasure and pain are situated in the mind like the oil in the sesamum seed, and these are thickened or thinned like the oil under particular circumstances of life. Prosperity thickens our pleasure, and adversity our pain; and these are thinned by their reverses again.

58. As it is the greater or lighter pressure of the oil-mill, that thickens or thins the oil, so it is the deeper or lighter attention of the mind, that aggravates or lightens its sense of pleasure or pain. (Loss or gain unfelt, is nothing lost or gained. The pleasure or pain of which we are ignorant, is no pleasure or pain).

59. As our wishes are directed by the particular circumstances of time and place, so the measurements of time and place, are made according to the intensity or laxity of our thoughts (i. e. the intense application or inattention of the mind, prolongs and shortens the measure of time and place to us).

60. It is the mind that is satisfied and delighted at the fulfilment of our wishes, and not the body which is insensible of its enjoyments. (The commentary explains the participation of the enjoyment both by the body and mind, and not by one independently of the other).

61. The mind is delighted with its imaginary desires within the body, as a secluded woman takes her delight in the seraglio. (The pleasure of imagination pleases the inmost soul, when we have no external and bodily pleasure to enjoy).

62. He who does not give indulgence to levities and fickleness in his heart, is sure to subdue his mind; as one binds an elephant by its chain to the post.

63. He whose mind does not wave to and fro like a brandished sword, but remains fixed as a post or pillar to its best intent and object, is the best of men on earth; all others (with fickle minds), are as insects continually moving in the mind.

64. He whose mind is freed from fickleness, and is sedate in itself, is united with his best object in his meditation of the same. (The unflinching mind, is sure of success).

65. Steadiness of the mind is attended with the stillness of worldly commotions, as the suspension of the churning Mandara, was attended with the calmness of the ocean of milk.

66. The thoughts of the mind being embroiled in worldly cares (of gaining the objects of desire and enjoyments), become the sources of those turbulent passions in the breast, which like poisonous plants fill this baneful world (with their deadly breath).

67. Foolish men that are infatuated by their giddiness and ignorance, revolve round the centre of their hearts, as the giddy bees flutter about the lotus-flower of the lake; till at last grown weary in their giddy circles, they fall down in the encompassing whirlpools, which hurl them in irreparable ruin.