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 XXXVII - A lecture on the visibles and visible world

Arguments said:—

Arguments to show that the world is no production of Divine will or volition, but a reproduction of Brahma himself.

Vasishtha continued:—

1. Hear me explain to you more fully, O Rama! what I have already told you in brief, regarding the treatment of the malady of desire, which forms also an article of the practice of yoga asceticism.

2. Tell me if the will is anything, beside the soul in which it subsists; and if it is nothing apart from the soul, how do you wish to attribute an agency to it, other than that of the soul?

3. The divine intellect being a thing; more subtile in its nature than the rarity of open air, is consequently without any part, and indivisible into parts. It is of itself an integrant whole, and one with myself, thyself and the whole world itself.

4. This intellect is of the nature of vacuum, and the infinite vacuum itself; it is the knower and the known or the subjective and objective world likewise. What then is that other you call the will?

5. There is no relation of the container and contained, or of the subject or object between it and ourselves; nor do we know those saintly men, who know it as any object of their knowledge.

6. We are at a loss to determine the relation, of the subjectivity and objectivity of our (as when I say, I am conscious of myself, here "I am" is the subject of myself—the object). It is just as impossible to find out my egoism and meity, as it is to expect to see a potential black moon in the sky. (Here is a long note on the subjective and objective of my knowledge of myself).

7. Such is the case with all the triple conditions of the subject, object and predicate (as the beholder, beholden and beholding); which having no existence of their own in the nature of things, I know not how they may subsist elsewhere except in the essence of the very soul.

8. In the nature of things, all unrealities are referred to the reality of the soul, as our egoism and tuism, the subjective, objective &c.; and so all things liable to destruction are said to become extinct in the self-existent and everlasting soul.

9. In extinction there is no presence of anything, nor anything present is said to become extinct; the idea of the simultaneous presence and absence of a thing, is as absurd as the sight of light and darkness together in the same place at the same time.

10. Neither can these abide together, on account of the repugnance of their nature; nor can they both be extinct at the same [time], as we see the presence of the one and the absence of the other before our eyes. So there is no nirvana in the living, because the one is a state of rest, and the other of pain and misery.

11. The phenomenals are fallacies, and afford no real happiness; think them as unreal, and rely solely in the increate lord, by thy nirvana or extinction in him (through the medium of thy devout meditation).

12. The pearl-shell looks like a silver, which is not likely to be realized from it; it is of no use or value, why then do you deceive yourself, with such like baubles of the world?

13. Therefore their presence or possession is full of misery, as their want or absence is fraught with felicity; want being had with the knowledge of the term, proves a substantive good in thy thought nididhyasana of it. (Want importing the absence both of good and evil, is a certain blessing. It may mean also want (of riches) with the gain of knowledge, is a certain good in the province of thought).

14. Why then the vile do not come to perceive their bondage in riches? and why is it that they slight to lay hold on the treasure of their eternal welfare, which is even now offered before them?

15. Knowing the causes, effects, and states of things, to be full of the presence of the One only; why do they fail to feel his immediate presence in their consciousness, which spreads alike through all?

16. Mistaken men like the stray deer, are seeking Brahma in the causes and states of things; not knowing that the all pervading spirit, spreads undivided and unspent throughout the whole vacuum of space (or throughout the infinite vacuity of space).

17. But what is [the] end of the doctrine of causation, unless it [is] to establish the cause as the primary source of all; but how can force which is the cause of ventilation, and fluidity the causal principle of liquid bodies, be accounted as the creator of wind and water? (In this case every cause becomes a separate Deity which is absurd).

18. It is absurdity to say that, vacuity is the cause of vacuum, and the creative power is the cause of creation, when One alone, is the cause, effect, state and all of every thing himself. (One-God is the primary, formal and final cause of all).

19. It is therefore absurd to attribute the terms, importing causality and creativeness of creations to Brahma, who is identic with all nature, is unchangeable in his nature, and derives neither pleasure nor pain from his act of the creation of worlds. (What changed through all yet in all the same &c., and without the feelings of pleasure or pain).

20. Brahma being no other than the intellect (or omniscience), can have no will or volition stirring in his nature; as a doll soldier or painted army, are no other than the mud or plate and without any motion or movement of them.

Rama said:—

21. If there is no reality of the world, and our ego and tu are all unreal, and the phenomenal is no other than the noumenal Brahma; then it is the same thing, whether there be any will stirring in the Divine mind or not, since God is always all in all.

22. Again if the rising will (to create) be identic with the nature of God, as the rising wave is the same as the sea water; then what mean the precepts of controlling the will (such as the enforcing a good and restraining a bad desire)?

Vasishtha replied:—

23. It is true, O Rama, as you have understood it, that the divine will is no other than the divinity itself, in the knowledge of those, who are awakened to the light of truth. But hear me tell you further on this subject.

24. Whenever a wish rises in the breast of the ignorant, it subsides of itself from their knowledge of the nature of the wished for object; just as the gloom of night, departs before the advance of sun-light.

25. But the rising wish sets of itself in the heart of the wise man, as the doubt of duality vanishes from the minds of learned, upon the rise of the light of their understanding.

26. No one can wish for any thing, whose desires of all things are already dead within himself;and who is freed from his ignorance, and is set in the pure light of his liberation.

27. The wise man is neither fond of, nor averse to the sight of the phenomenals; he views the beauties of nature (lit. of the visibles), as they appear before him, without relishing (or delighting) in them of his own nature.

28. If any thing offer itself to him, by some or by means or causality of others; and if he find it right for him to take the same, he may then have the option, either to accept or refuse it, as he may like.

29. Verily the will or desire and the unwillingness of the wise, are actuated by and proceed from Brahma himself; they have no uncontrollable or inordinate desire, but pursue their own course, and have nothing new or inordinary to wish for. (Pleased with their simple living, they have nothing anew to wish for or accept).

30. As wisdom rises on one side, so the wish sets down on the other (side); nor can they combine to dwell together, as there is no chance of their uniting in the mind of any body, as there is no possibility of light and darkness meeting at the same place.

31. The wise man, is not in need of any exhortation or prohibition in any act; because his heart being quite cool in itself in all his desires, there is no body to tell him anything to any purpose.

32. This is the character of the wise man, that his desires are imperceptible in his heart, and while he is full of joy in himself, he is complacent to all others about him.

33. There is also a shade of heavenly melancholy settled in the outward countenance, and a distaste or indifference to every thing in his mind; it is then that the current of desires ceases to flow in his heart, and his mind is elevated with the sense of his liberation.

34. Whose soul is serene, and his intellect unclouded by the doubts of unity and duality; his desires turned to indifference and all his thoughts concentrated in the Lord.

35. Whose knowledge of duality, has entirely subsided in his intellect;and whose belief of unity is without the alloy of the union of any other thing (in the sole and perfectly pure One); who is quite at ease and without any uneasiness, and resides calmly in the tranquillity of the Supreme soul.

36. He has no object to gain by his acts, nor anything to lose by their omission; he has no concern whatever with any person or thing either for aught of his good or otherwise.

37. He is indifferent both to his desire as well as to his coolness, nor has he any care for the reality or unreality of things; he is not concerned about himself or others, nor is he in love with his life nor [has he any] fear of death.

38. The self-extinguished soul of the enlightened, never feels any desire stirring in itself; and if ever any wish is felt to rise in his breast, it is only an agitation of Brahma in it.

39. To him there is no pleasure or pain, nor grief or joy; but he views the world as the quiet and increate soul of the Divinity manifest by itself; the man that goes on in this manner, like the course of a subterranean stream, is truly called the enlightened and awakened.

40. He who makes a pleasure of his pain in his thought, is as one who takes the bitter poison for his sweet nectar; the man who thus converts the evil to good, and thinks himself happy in his mind is said by the wise, to be awakened to his right sense (to wit that all partial evil is universal good).

41. Thinking one's self as vacuity, with the vacuum of Brahma; and as quiet as the tranquillity of the Divine spirit; and the thought of every thing resting in the spacious mind of God, is tantamount to the belief of the world as one with Brahma himself. (This is the doctrine of pantheism of vedanta and all mysticism).

42. In this manner all consciousness is lost in unconsciousness, and the knowledge of the world, is lost in the infinity of empty air. The error of our egoism is likewise drowned in the depth of the even and vast expanse of the Divine unity.

43. All that is seen here in the forms of the moving and fixed bodies of the world (the roving and fixed stars &c.); are all as quiet as quiescent empty sky which contains them, or as a visionary utopia of imagination.

44. As there is a free intercourse of the thoughts, of one person with those of another, and there is no interposition in their passage from one mind to another; in the same manner there is the same reflection of this shadowy world in the minds of all at once.

45. The earth, heaven and sea, with the hills and all other things, appear before our empty minds, exactly as the false sights of water &c., appear in a mirage to our eyes.

46. The phantasmagoria of the world, appearing visibly before us, is as false as a vision in our dream, and as delusive as a spectre appearing in the imaginations of little boys.

47. Our egoism or consciousness of ourselves, which seems as a reality unto us, is no other than a delirium of our brain, and an erroneous conception of the mind.

48. The world is neither an entity nor non-entity either, nor a substantiality and unsubstantiality both together; it is not to be ascertained by the sense nor explained by speech, and yet it exhibits itself as the fairy land or air drawn castle in empty air. (Its nihility is the doctrine of vacuists and its substantiality is supported by materialists; that it is neither is tenet of sceptics, and therefore it is but an empty dream).

49. Here our wish and effort as well as our want of both, are all alike in the opinion of the learned (who maintain the doctrine of irrevocable fate); but in my opinion it is better to remain in cool indifference (owing to the vanity of human wishes).

50. The knowledge of "I and the world" (i.e. of the subjective and objective), is as that of air in the endless vacuity; it is the vibration of the intelligent soul, like the breath of air in vacuum, that causes this knowledge in us, beside which there is no other cause (of the subjective self or the objective world).

51. The aptitude of the intellect or the intelligent soul, to its thoughts or longing after external objects, makes it what we call the mind, which is the seat of same with what is called the world; but the soul getting released from this leaning, is said to have its liberation. Follow this precept and keep yourself quiet.

52. You may have your desire or not, and see the world or its dissolution; and come to learn that neither of these is either any gain or loss to thee, since there is nothing here in reality, and every thing is at best but the shadowy and fleeting form of a dream. (So likewise the production and annihilation of the world, which are the products of divine will, is of any consequence to the unconnected deity).

53. The nolens & volens or the will and no will, the ens & non ens or the entity and non-entity, the presence or absence of any thing, and the feeling of pain and pleasure at the loss or gain of something, are all but ideal and mere aerial phantasies of the mind.

54. He whose desires are decreased day by day, becomes as happy as the enlightened wise man, and has like him his share in the liberation of his soul.

55. When the sharp knife of keen desire pierces the heart, it produces the sorely painful sores of sorrow and grief, which defy the remedies of mantras, minerals and all sorts of medicament.

56. Whenever I look back into the vast multitude of my past actions, I find them all to be full of mistakes, and not one which was not done in error, or appears to be without a fault or blunder.

57. When we meet only with the erroneousness of our past conduct, and find them all to have been done for nothing; how then is it possible for us to discern the hearts of others, which are as inaccessible hills unto us. (How can we discern another's mind, when we to our own are so grossly blind).

58. Our dealing with the unreal world (as with untruthful men), is lost in the glancing or twinkling of an eye; for who can expect to hold the horns of a hare in his fingers.

59. The belief of our egoism or personality consisting in our gross bodies, serves to convert the aerial intellect to a gross substance in a moment; and make our mind as a part of the solid body, just as the rain drop is congealed to the hailstone.

60. It is owing to our intellect, that we have the conception of the reality of our unreal bodies; just as the undying principle of the intellect, happens to see its own death in our sleep.

61. As the unreal and unsubstantial vacuum, is said to be the blue or azure sky by its appearance; so is this creation attributed to Brahma by supposition, which is neither real nor quite unreal.

62. As vacuity is the inseparable property of vacuum, and fluctuation is that of air; so is creation an inseparable attribute of God, and is one and same with the essence of Brahma himself.

63. There is nothing produced here as the world &c., nor is anything lost or annihilated in it; all this is as a dream to a sleeping man, which is a mere appearance and nothing in reality.

64. So the inexistent earth and others, are apparent in their appearance only; then why need you care or fear about the being or not being of this world, which is no more than a production and subversion of it in the region of the Intellect.

65. The apparent body, is no reality by the causality of the elements as the earth &c.; it is only a formation of the Divine intellect, and situated in the divine spirit. (The body is neither formed out of the dust of the earth, nor by a combination of the five elements; but is a shadow of its form in the Divine mind).

66. The instrumentality of the mind &c. in the causation of the world, is also untrue and absurd, owing to the union of two causes in one (i.e. the combination of the primary and instrumental causes together). (The unity of God consists in his being the original and material cause, and not as a formal or instrumental one).

67. All things are uncaused and unconsecutive in the divine mind, where they are eternally present at one and the same time; as the whole series of the actions of a man from his birth to death, appear in an instant of his dreaming states. (All is ever present before the omnipresent and omniscient).

68. All things are contained in and as inane as the vacant Intellect, where this spacious earth with her high hills of solid bases, and all her peoples with their actions and motions, are ever existent in their aerial forms in the knowledge of the aeriform intellect of God.

69. The world is a picture painted on the airy surface of the divine mind, with the various colours derived from the intellect of God; it never rises nor sets, nor does it ever become faint, nor does it fade nor vanishes away.

70. The world is a huge wave of fluidity in the water of the Intellect, why is it so and how produced, and how and when it is subside, is what nobody can say. (The world is once compared to breath of air and here to a liquid, to mean its having no solidity in it).

71. When the great vacuity of the intellect is calm and quiet, then the world remains in its form of an empty void also; just as the soul being quite thoughtless in itself; there can be no rise or fall of any object before it. (Hence the alternate action and rest of the divine spirit, is said to cause the appearance and disappearance of the world by turns. Manu I).

72. As we imagine the mountains to touch the skies, and the sky to present the figures of mountains in it; it is in the like manner that we suppose the presence of Brahma in all things of creation. (But all this supposititious knowledge proceeds from error).

73. It is by the application of a jot of their intelligence, that yogis convert the world to empty air, as also fill the hollow air with the three worlds up and down. (i.e. They are practised to produce everything as also to reduce it to nothing in their thought).

74. As we imagine thousands of the elysian cities (or seats) of the siddha deities, to be situated in the different regions of heaven; so are the numberless worlds scattered apart from one another in the infinite space of divine intellect.

75. As the eddies in the ocean whirl apart from one another, and seem to make so many seas of themselves; though they are composed of the same water.

76. So the numerous worlds, revolving separately in the vacuity of the Divine Intellect, are all of the same nature (with their intellectual reservoir), and not otherwise.

77. The awakened (or enlightened) yogi, views worlds above worlds in his clairvoyance; and to pass to the ethereal regions of the perfected siddhas, as it is related by sages (in the story of Lila narrated before).

78. There are numberless imperishable beings and immortal spirits, which are contained in the Supreme spirit; as the endless worlds are situated in the hollow sphere of heaven.

79. It is the intrinsic pleasure of the divine soul, to scatter the wandering worlds about it, as the odorous flower diffuses its immanent fragrance, and spreads its flying farina all around; they are not extrinsic or adventitious, but are born within itself like the lines and marks in a diamond or crystal.

80. The fragrance of flowers though mixed up together in the air, are yet separate from one another; so are all the created bodies existing together in the air, all distinct in their natures: (such is the union of the different elements in one body, and as every flower has a vassal breeze to bear its own perfume).

81. Our fancies though of the form of air, assume different shapes in the minds of men; such as those of gross natures have them in their gross material forms, while the holy saints view them in their pure forms in the mind. (This means the two views of things in their concrete and abstract forms).

82. Neither are the gross materialists nor pure spiritualists, right in their conceptions of things; but every one has to feel according to his particular view and belief of a thing. (i.e. The materialist is subject to material pain and pleasure, from which the idealist is entirely free).

83. By thinking the world to be contained in the thought of the Intellect, it will be found to be no way different from it, than the water is from its liquidity. (The mind and its thought, being the one and same thing).

Know chronos said:—

84. the time, and cosmos—the universe, with all the worlds contained in it together with the ego and tu or myself and thyself and all others, to be the One and very unity; which is the calm and quiet vacuum of the great Intellect, which is same with the very self of the unborn and undecaying soul of God. Be not therefore subject to passions and affections, which do not appertain to the nature of the self-same Deity.