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 LVI - On the soul and its inertness

Argument. Consideration of the activity and inactivity of the Soul, and the Vanity of the Visibles.

Vasishtha continued:—

Knowing the world as a nihility, you must cease to take any delight in it; for what reasonable being is there in it that would delight in its unreality.

2. If you take the phenomenal world for a reality, you may continue to enslave yourself to the unreal material; and lose the spiritual nature of your soul.

3. Or if you know it to be a temporary existence, why then should you take any interest in what is so frail and unstable, rather than care for your immortal soul?

4. The world is no substantial existence, nor are you a being of its unsubstantiality; it is only a clear reflection of the divine mind, and extending over all infinity. (And which is refracted into all individual minds as in prismatic glasses).

5. The world is neither an agent itself, nor is it the act of any agent at all; it is simply the reflexion of the noumenal, without any agency of its own.

6. Whether the world is with or without an agent, or has a maker or not, yet you can not tell it as a real substance, except that it appears so to your mind.

7. The soul is devoid of all organs of action, and with all its activity, it remains motionless and without action, as anything that is inactive and immovable.

8. The world is the production of a fortuitous chance (Kakataliya Sanyoga), and none but boys place any reliance in it. (The world here means our existence in it, which is an act of chance).

9. The world is neither stable nor fragile, but it is mutable from one state to another, as it is known by its repeated reproductions and visibility to us.

10. It is neither everlasting, nor is it a momentary thing;its constant mutability contradicts its firmness; and its nihility, (as stated before) is opposed to its temporariness. (The dictum of the Veda of the eternity of asat—nullity, nullifies its temporariness).

11. If the soul is the active power without its organs of action, it must be unfailing and entire; because the continuance of its inorganic operations can not weaken its powers. (I.e. the performance of bodily actions debilitates the body; but the immaterial mind is not impaired by its activity).

12. Therefore there is an irresistible destiny, which is absolutely overruling; it is existence and inexistence itself, it is sedate and continuous, and all visible perturbations are but false appearances.

13. The limit of a hundred years of human life, is but a very small portion of unlimited duration; it is therefore very astonishing that any one should be concerned with this small portion of his existence, here (in utter disregard of his eternal life).

14. Granting the durability of worldly affairs, yet they are not deserving of your reliance; for what faith can you rely on the union of two such opposites as the mind and matter? (The one being sensible and the other insensible, the one being infinite and imperishable, and the other a finite and frail substance).

15. But if the state of worldly things be unsteady and uncertain, it can not be deserving of your confidence. Say, can you be sorry at the dissolving of the foam and froth of the milk or water, then why should you lament at the loss of the perishable? (So said the Grecian philosopher: yesterday I saw a fragile breaking, and today I saw a mortal die).

16. Know, O strong armed Rama! that reliance on the world, is the fetter of the soul to it; it does not behove any body to join the perishable and imperishable together like the water and its froth. (The one being lasting and the other a transient thing).

17. Although the soul is the agent (or source) of all actions, yet it remains as no agent at all; it is unconnected with its actions, as the lamp with its light. (The mind being the doer of actions and not the soul).

18. Doing all it does nothing, but like the sun directs the business of the day without doing anything by itself. It moves like the sun without moving from its place, but retains its station in its own orbit. (The sun is the causal agent of diurnal duties, but men are the active agents of their actions).

19. There is some other hidden cause guiding the course of the world, beside the soul and body; as there is an unknown cause of the course of the Aruna river, notwithstanding its being blocked by stones.

20. When you have known this for certain, O Rama by your own proficiency, and have well ascertained this truth by its clearest evidence:—

21. You ought no more to place any reliance on material things, which are as false as an ambient flame, or a vision in dream, or as any falsehood whatever.

22. As a stranger is not to be taken into your friendship, on his first appearance; so you must never trust or rely on anything of this world through your ignorance.

23. Never place your reliance on anything of this world, with that fond desire, as the heated man looks to the moon, the cold-stricken to the sun, and the thirsty doth to the water in the mirage.

24. Do you look upon this ideal world (which is born of your brain), as you view a creature of your conception, a vision in your dream, or an apparition or the appearance of two moons in the sky, by your visual deception.

25. Shun your reliance on the fair creation of your imagination (the objects of sight &c.), and without minding what you are, conduct yourself cheerfully in your sphere.

26. Shun your desires and the thought of your agency, even when you are doing any thing at all. (The soul residing in the body, is yet aloof from all its acts, though its presence in the body, justifies its being accessary to if not the accomplice of them. (Gloss)).

27. It is a general law (niyati, or nature of things), that the propinquity of the cause, causes the act, even without the will of the actor; as the presence of the lamp, enlightens the room without the will of the lamp. (An involuntary action is no less the act of the actor than a voluntary one).

28. Look at the kurchi tree blooming and blossoming under the influence of heavy clouds, and not of its own accord. So it is destined for the three worlds to appear to sight, under the influence of the Supreme Being (though he may not will or ordain it so). (So also the presence of matter, effects the work by material laws, without the special behest or employment of the matter to the performance of same. Gloss).

29. As the appearance of the sun in the sky, employs all beings to their diurnal duties without his will or injunction, so the omnipresence of God causes the actions of all beings of their own spontaneity, and without his will, act or fiat. (This is called the overruling and universal destiny).

30. And as a bright gem reflects its light, without any will on its part; so the mere existence of the Deity, causes the existence of all worlds (as they are in attendance upon His presence).

31. Thus are causality and its want also both situated in your soul, which is thence called the cause of your actions, because of its presence in the body; and as no cause likewise owing to its want of will (which is the property of the mind; and not of the soul).

32. The entity of the soul being beyond the perception of sense, it is neither the agent nor recipient of any action; but being confined in the sensible body, it is thought to be both an active and passive agent.

33. Thus the properties both of causality and its want, reside in the soul; you may take it in any light, you may choose for your purpose, and rest content with your belief.

34. But by firmly believing yourself to be situated in the body, and your doing of actions without thinking yourself as their author, will save you from the culpability of all your acts.

35. The man that does not employ his mind to his actions, becomes indifferent (viraga) to the world; and he is freed from it, who is certain of his being no agent of his actions.

36. Whether a man is fond of his enjoyments, or forsakes them in disgust; it is all the same to him, if he but think himself to be no actor of them. (Set not your mind to act, if you want to be set free in fact).

37. But if you wish to remain, Rama, with your high ambition of doing every thing in the world, that is also good, and you may try to do the same.

38. But if I do not fall to so great an error, as to have this high aspiration of yours, I am never liable to the passions of anger and enmity, and other violent emotions in this world.

39. The bodies that we bear, are nourished by some and immolated by others: such being the state of our own being;we have no cause for our joy or sorrow in it.

40. Knowing ourselves to be the authors of our own happiness and misery, and as causes of the rise and dissolution of the world from our view, we have no reason to be joyous or sorry in it.

41. Then there is an end of the joys and sorrows of our own making, when we have that sweet composure, which is a balm to all the diseases in our soul.

42. Fellow feeling to all living beings, makes the best state of the mind; and the soul that is so disposed, is not subject to transmigration.

43. Or make this the best lesson, Rama! for your conduct in life, that with all your activities, you continue to think yourself as no actor at all. (Because the belief of one's agency, leads him to the fruition of this act in repeated births).

44. Remain quiet and steady as thou art, by resigning all things to themselves; and never think that it is thou that dost or undoest anything (which is destined to be so or otherwise by the Divine will).

45. But if you look to the different modes of your doing one thing or the other, you can have no rest or quiet, but must run in the way leading to the trap of perpetual toil and misery.

46. The belief of a man's corporeality, that he is a destructible body, and no spiritual being, is to him but a bed of thorns; it must therefore be avoided by all means, in order to evade the danger of his imminent destruction.

47. Corporeality is to be shunned as a hell-hound feeding on canine meat; and after disappearance of the cloud of corporeity from view, the light of spirituality will appear before the sight.

48. The pure light of spirituality; presents the appearance of the bright moon-beams of holiness, after dispersion of clouds of corporeal desires; and it is by the help of this light, that the spiritualist is enabled to steer across the ocean of this world.

49. Do you, O Rama, remain in that best and blessed state, wherein the wisest, best and holiest of men have found their rest; and it is the constant habit of thinking yourself as nothing nor doing anything; or that you are all things and doing every thing; as the Supreme soul knows itself to be; and that you are some person, having a personality of your own, and yet no body (i.e. not the body in which thou dost abide);but a spiritual and transcendent being.