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 XXXVI - Sermon on the seed or source of the world

Argument:—Description of Avarice as the great Bondage of life and harmlessness of the common blessing of life obtained without avarice. i.e. Prohibition of avariciousness and not of ordinary enjoyments.

Vasishtha continued:—

The false varieties of the world take us by surprise, as the eddies attract to them the passing vessels;but they are all found to be of the same nature, as the various waves of the sea. (As all the waves are but water, so all worldly appearances are mere enticing delusions).

2. The nature of the whole world, is as unknowably known to us; as that of the universal vacuum which rests in God alone, is imperceptibly perceptible to our eyes. (All we see of the sky, is but a blank which is nothing).

3. As I find nothing in the fancied cities of boys in the air, (which they think to abound with ghosts etc.); so doth this really ideal world, appear to be in real existence to boys alone. (But the wise know it as unreal).

4. The sight and thought of visible appearances, are as the visions and remembrances of objects in dream; and so is this world but an appearance to the sight, and a phantom and phantasy in the mind.

5. The phenomenal and the fancy, have no pith nor place except in the intellect; beside which there is nothing to be had save an unbounded vacuity only. Where then is the substantiality of the world?

6. The error of the world consists in the knower's knowledge of it, and it is the ignorance (of the existence) of the world, that is free from this error; and the knowing or ignoring of it is dependant to thee, as the thinking or unthinking of a thing, is entirely in thy power. (Every one is master of his thoughts).

7. The vacuous intellect being of the form of the transcendent sky, is of the state of an extended space, to which it is impossible to impute any particular nature or quality whatsoever. (The gloss explains it by saying that, the intellect is neither any extended matter, nor entirely an empty vacuity, since it is the source of all intellectual powers and mental faculties).

8. The world also being of the form of the intellect (i.e. a formal representation of it); has no particular character or variable property assignable to it. It is seen to be existent, but having no particular feature of its own, it is not subject to any variation in its nature (i.e. Being a formless thing, it can have no vikara or change of form at all).

9. All this being a representation of the vacuous intellect, has no substantiality whatever in it; it is the substance and not the knowledge of a thing, that is subject to any change in its form, because knowledge appertains to the intellect, which is always unchangeable.

10. I see all quiet and calm, and the pure spirit of God; I am without the error of ego, tu &c., and see nothing about me, in the same manner as we can never see a forest growing in the air.

11. Know this my voice to be the empty air as my conscious thought, and know also these words of mine to proceed from my empty consciousness, which resides in the empty spirit likewise. (i.e. Sound proceeds from the empty spirit and not from the material body) (as some would have it).

12. That which they designate the transcendent essence, is the eternal and involuntary state of rest of the Divine soul, and not what it assumes to itself of its own volition (as that of the creative energy of Brahma—the Demiurge). That state resembles that of a slab of stone, with the figures naturally marked upon, or as the pictures drawn in a plate or chart.

13. The silent man (muni or mouni) whose mind is calm and quiet in the management of his ordinary business, remains unmoved as a wooden statue, and without the disturbance of any desire or anxiety.

14. The living wise and listless man sees all along his lifetime, the world resembling a hollow reed, all empty within and without it, and having no pith or juice in the inside of it. (The wise well know the vanity of the world).

15. He who is not delighted with the outer world, reaps the pleasure of his inner meditations;but he who is indifferent to both in his mind, is said to have gone over the ocean of the world (and set free from all his cares).

16. Give out the words from your lungs, like a sounding reed from its hollow pipe; and clear your mind from its thoughts, by keeping your body intact from busy affairs, and employing no other member of it after them (except your tongue).

17. Touch the tangibles as they come to thee without thy desiring them;and remain in thy solitary cell without thy wishing for or minding about them, or grieving at their want.

18. You may relish the various flavours, which are offered to you; and take them to your mouth in the manner of a spoon without wishing for or taking a delight in their sweet taste.

19. You may see all sights, that appear before you; without your desiring for or delighting in them.

20. You can smell the sweet perfumes and flowers, that fall in your way without your seeking them, take the scents only to breathe them out, as the odoriferous winds scatter the flowers all around.

21. In this manner if you go on to enjoy the objects of sense with utter indifference to them, and neither longing after or indulging yourself in any; you shall in that case have nothing to disturb your peace and content at any time.

22. But whoso finds a zest for the poisonous pleasures of life, increasing in himself day by day; casts his body and mind to be consumed in their burning flame, and loses his endless felicity.

23. Want of desire in the heart, is said to constitute the obtuse insensibility of the soul, called samadhana by dispassionate sages; and there is no other better lesson to secure the peace of mind, than the precept of contentment (lit. absence of desire).

24. The increasing desire is as painful, as one's habitation in hell fire; while the subsidence of desires in the mind, is as delightsome as his residence in heaven.

25. It is desire alone, which constitutes the feelings of the heart and mind; and it is this, which actuates mankind to the practice of their austerities and penances, according to the sastras.

26. Whenever a man allows his desire, to rise in any manner in his heart; even then he scatters a handful of the seeds of affliction, to sprout forth in the fair ground of his mind. (The more desire the more pain).

27. As much as the craving of one is lessened by the dictates of this reason, so much do the pain of his avaricious thoughts cease to molest them. (Nothing to desire nothing to fear).

28. The more doth a man cherish his fond desire in his mind, the more does it boil and rage and wave in his breast.

29. If you do not heal the malady of your desire, by the medicine of your own efforts; then I think you will never find a more powerful balsam to remedy this your inveterate disease.

30. Should you be unable to put a check to your desire altogether, you must still try to do it by degrees, as a passenger never fails to get his goal even by slow paces in time.

31. He who does not try to diminish his desires day by day, is reckoned as the meanest of men, and is destined to dive in misery every day.

32. Our cupidity is the causal seed of the crop of our misery in this world; and this seed being fried in the fire of our best reason, will no more vegetate in the ground of our breast.

33. The world is the field of our desires and the baneful sources of misery only, it is the extinction of them which is called nirvana; therefore never be tempted by the delusion of desire for your utter destruction.

34. Of what avail are the dictates of the sastras, and the precepts of our preceptors; if we fail to understand that, our samadhi or final rest consists in the extinction of our temporary desires.

35. He who finds the difficulty of checking his desires in his mind, it is hopeless for him to derive any good from the instructions of his preceptors, or the teachings of the sastras whatever.

36. It is the poison of avarice which proves the bane of human life, as the native forests of stags prove destructive to them, by being infested by huntsmen. (Hearts infested by avarice, are as detrimental to men; as forests infested by hunters are baneful to stags).

37. If one would not deal frivolously, with the acquisition of his self-knowledge (spirituality); he may but learn to extenuate his cravings, and he will thereby be led insensibly, to the acquirement of his spiritual knowledge.

38. Extinction of wish is the extirpation of anguish, and this is the sense of the nirvana bliss; therefore try to curtail your desires, and thereby to cut off your bondage, which will not be difficult for you to do, if you will but try to do so.

39. The evils of death and decrepitude, and the weeds of continued woes, are the produce of secret seed of desire, which [is] to be burnt betimes by the fires of equanimity and insouciance.

40. Wherever there is inappetency, the liberation from bondage is found to be even there also; therefore suppress always your rising desires, as you repress your fleeting breath (in the practice of ajapa or suppression of breathings).

41. Wherever there is appetence, even there is our bondage in this world; and all our acts of merit or demerit and all our distresses and diseases, are the invariable companions of our worldly wishes.

42. The dominant desire being deprived of its province, and the indifferent saint being freed from its bondage; it is made to weep and wail, as when a man is robbed by a robber.

43. As much as a man's desire is decreased in his breast, so much so does his prosperity increase, leading him onward towards his liberation.

44. A foolish man that is ignorant of himself (i.e. of his soul and spirit), and fosters his fond desire for anything; is as if he were watering at the root of the poisonous arbour of this world, only to bring his death by its baneful fruits.

45. There is the tree of desire growing in the human heart and yielding the two seeds (fruits) of happiness and misery (i.e. of good and evil); but the latter being fanned by the breeze of sin, bursts out in a flame which burns down the other, and together with it its possessor also. (The evil desire supercedes the good one).