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 - On the knowledge of the known and unknown

Argument:—Difference of Egoism in wise and in common people, and Disappearance of visibles.

Rama rejoined:—

Tell me, O most sapient sage, how it is possible for the demon of ego to take hold of you, that are extinct in the deity, and dissipate my doubts there.

Vasishtha replied:—

2. It is impossible, O Rama, for any being whether knowing or unknown to live here without the sense of his egoism; as it is not possible for the contained to subsist without its container.

3. But there is a difference of this which you must know, that the demoniac egoism of the quiet minded man, is capable of control by means of his knowledge of and attention to the srutis.

4. It is the infantine ignorance which raises up this idol of egoism, though it is found to exist no where; just as little children make dolls and images of gods and men, that have no existence at all.

5. This ignorance also (which is the cause of egoism), is nothing positive of itself; since it is dispelled by knowledge and reason, as darkness is driven away by the light of a lamp. (Ignorance and darkness are but negative terms).

6. Ignorance is a demon that dances about in the dark, and a fiend that flies afar before the light of reason. (Hence the disappearance of ignorance causes our egoism to disappear also).

7. Granting the existence of ignorance, in absence of the advance of knowledge and reason; yet it is at best but a fiend of delusion, and is as shapeless as the darkest night (When nothing is to be seen).

8. Granting the existence of creation, we have no trace of ignorance any where in it (since creation is the production of omniscience, there is no nescience in any part of) the existence of two moons in the sky.

9. Creation having no other cause (but God himself), we know not how could ignorance find a place in it; just so it is impossible for a tree to grow in the air (which God hath made void, barren, and bare). (God hath planted the tree of knowledge in the garden of Eden, but no tree of ignorance did He set any where).

10. When creation began and was begotten in the beginning, in its pure and subtile form in the womb of absolute vacuum (or the mind of God); how is it possible for the material bodies of earth and water to proceed (from the immaterial spirit) without a material cause?

11. The Lord is beyond (the conception of) the mind, and (the perception of) the six senses, and is yet the source of the mind and senses; but how could that formless and incorporeal being, be the cause of material and corporeal things?

12. The germ is the effect (or product), germinating from its causal source—the seed; but how and where can you expect to see the sprout springing without the productive seed?

13. No effect can ever result, without its formal cause or main-spring; say who has ever seen or found a tree to spring from and grow in empty air. (Nihil ex nihilo fit, et nihil in nihilum reverte posse).

14. It is imagination alone that paints these prospects in the mind, just as the fume of fancy shows you the sight of trees in the empty air; so it is the phrenzy of the mind, that exhibits these phenomena before your eyes, but which in reality have no essentiality in them.

15. So, the universe as it appeared at its first creation, in the vacuity of the divine intellect; was all a congeries of worlds swimming in empty air (in their hollow ideal shapes).

16. (But the universe is not altogether a void and nihility). It is the same as it shines itself in the spacious intellect of the supreme soul (or spirit); it is the divine nature itself which is termed as creation, and which is an intellectual system having proceeded from the intellect, and the self-same divinity.

17. The vision of the world which is presented in our dream, and which is of daily occurrence to us, furnishes us with the best instance of this; when we are conscious of the sights of cities, and of the appearance of hills, all before our mental eyes in the dreaming state. (So this world is but a dream).

18. It is the nature of the Intellect as that of a dream, to see the vision of creation, as we view the appearance of the uncreated creation before our eyes, in the same manner as it appeared at first in the vast void (of divine mind).

19. There is but one unintelligible intelligence, a purely unborn and imperishable being, that appears now before us in the shape of this creation, as it existed with its everlasting ideas of infinite worlds, before this creation began.

20. There is no creation here, nor these orbs of earth and others; it is all calm and quiet with but One Brahma seated in his immensity.

21. This Brahma is omnipotent and as He manifests himself in any manner, He instantly becomes as such without forsaking his purely transparent form.

22. As our intellect shows itself, in the form of visionary cities in our dream;so doth the divine intellect exhibit itself, in the forms of all these worlds, at the commencement of their creation.

23. It is in the transparent and transcendent vacuum of the Intellect, that the vacuous intellect is situated; and the creation is the display of its own nature, by an act of its thought in itself. (There is a large note explanatory of this passage).

24. The whole creation consists in the clear vacuity of the intellect, and is of the nature of the spirit situated in the spirit of God. (The world exists in its spiritual form in the ample space of the divine spirit).

25. The whole creation being but the diffusion of the selfsame spiritual essence of God, there is no possibility of the existence of a material world or ignorance or egoism, in the creation and pervasive fulness of the Supreme spirit.

26. Everything have I told you all about the desinence of your egoism, and one knowing the unreality of his egoisticism, gets rid of his false belief, as a boy is freed from his fear of a ghost.

27. In this manner, no sooner was I fully convinced of the futility of egoism, than I lost the sense of my personality; and though I retained fully the consciousness of myself, yet I got freed from my selfishness, as a light autumnal cloud by disloading its watery burden.

28. As our knowledge of the inefficacy of a flaming fire in painting, removes the fear of our being burnt by it; so our connection of our fallacies of egoism and creation, serves to efface the impressions of the subjective and objective from our minds.

29. Thus when I was delivered from my egoism, and set to the tranquillity of my passions; I then found myself seated in an unatmospheric firmament (which was free from cloud and rain); and in an uncreated creation (i.e. in the everlasting vacuity or eternal sunshine of heaven).

30. I am none of egoism, nor is it anything to me; having got rid of it, I have become one with clear intellectual vacuum.

31. In this respect, all intelligent men are of the same opinion with myself; as it is well known to them that our notion of egoism is as false, as the fallacy of fire represented in a painting.

32. Being certain of the unreality of yourself and of others, and of the nihility of everything beside; conduct yourself in all your dealings with indifference, and remain as mute as a stone.

33. Let your mind shine with the clearness of the vault of heaven, and be as impregnable to the excess of all thoughts and feelings as solid stone. Know that there is but One Intellectual essence from beginning to end, and that there [is] nothing to be seen except the One deity, who composes the whole plenum.