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 CVI - Invalidation of the doctrine of cause and effect

Argument:—Arguments in proof of the intellectual vacuum, and the representation of the world therein.

Rama said:—

1. Tell me again, O Venerable sir, how is intellectual vacuity which you say to be the entity of Brahma; because I am never satiate to hear the holy words, distilling as ambrosia from your lips.

Vasishtha replied:—

2. I have fully explained to you that the two states of sleeping and waking imply the same thing; as the twin virtues of composure and self-controul are both the same, though they are differentiated by two names.

3. There is in reality none difference of them, as there is none between two drops of water; they are both the one and same thing, as the vacuous essence of Brahma and the Intellect.

4. As a man travelling from country to country, finds his self consciousness to be every where the same; so and the very same is the Intellect, which dwells within himself in its vacuous form, and is styled the intellectual sphere.

5. This intellectual sphere is as clear, as the etherial sky; wherein the earthly arbours display their verdure, by drawing the moisture of the earth by their roots. (This passage rests on a text of the Sruti; and means that the intellectual sphere of men as the sky of trees is always clear, though they live upon the sap of earth).

6. Again the intellectual sphere is as calm and quiet, as the mind of a man, who is free from desires and is at rest in himself; and whose composure is never disturbed by anything.

7. Again the intellectual sphere is like the quiet state of a [man] who had got rid of his busy cares and thoughts, reposes himself at ease;before he is lulled to the insensibility of his sleep.

8. Again as trees and plants growing in their season, rise in and fill the sky, without being attached to it; such also is intellectual sphere, which is filled by rising worlds after worlds, without being touched by or related to any.

9. Again the intellectual sphere, is as clear as the cloudless sky; and as vacant as the mind of the saintly man, which is wholly purified from the impressions of visibles, and its thoughts and desires are about any thing in the world.

10. The intellectual state is as steady as those of the stable rocks and trees; and when such is the state of the human mind, it is then said to have attained its intellectuality (or else its restless state is called the active mind and not the intellect).

11. The intellectual chasm, which is void of the three states of the view, viewer and visibles (or the subjective and objective); is said to be devoid also of all its modality and change. (It means the imperceptibility of soul).

12. That is called the intellectual sphere, where the thought of the various kinds of things, rise and last and set by turns, without making any effect of change in its immutable nature.

13. That is said to be the intellectual sphere, which embraces all things, and gives rise to and becomes everything itself; and which is permeated throughout all nature for ever.

14. That which shines resplendent in heaven and earth, and in the inside and outside of everybody with equal blaze; is said to be the vacuity of the intellect.

15. It extends and stretches through all, and bends altogether, connected by its lengthening chain to infinity; and the vacuity of the intellect envelops the universe, whether it rises before us an entity or non-entity.

16. It is the intellectual vacuum which produces everything, and at last reduces all to itself; and the changes of creation and dissolution, are all the working of this vacuity. (But how can the vacuous nothing produce any thing from itself or reduce any into it (Ex nihilum nihil fit, et in nihilo nihil reverti posse; there the whole universe is a void nothing).

17. The vacuity of the intellect produces the world, as the sleeping state of the mind, presents its sights in our dream; and as the dream is dispersed in our deep sleep, so the waking dream of the world is vanished from view, upon dispersion of its fallacy from the mind.

18. Know the intellectual vacuum to be possessed of its intellection, and as quiet and composed in its nature; and it is by a thought of it, as by twinkling or winking of the eye, that the world comes to exist and disappear by turns. (Manu calls these the waking and sleeping states of the soul, and as causes of the existence and inexistence of the world).

19. The intellectual Vacuum is found in the disquisitions of all the sastras, to be what is neither this nor that nor any thing any where; and yet as all and everything in every place and at all times. (i.e. Nothing concrete, but every thing in the abstract).

20. As a man travelling from country to country, retains his consciousness untravelled in himself; so the intellect always rests in its place in the interim, though the mind passes far and farther in an instant.

21. The world is full of the intellect, both as it is or had ever been before; and its outward sight being dependent on its ideas in the mind, gives it the form and figure as they appear unto us.

22. It is by a slight winking of its eye, that it assumes and appears in varied shapes; though the intellect never changes its form, nor alters the clearness of its vacuous sphere.

23. Look on and know all these objects of sense, with thy external and internal organs, and without any desire of thine for them; be ever wakeful and vigilant about them, but remain as quite sleepy over them.

24. Be undesirous of any thing and indifferent in your mind, when you speak to any one, take any thing or go any where; and remain as deadly cold and quiet, as long as you have to live.

25. But it is impossible for you to remain as such, so long as you fix your eyes and mind on the visibles before you; and continue to view the mirage of the world, and look upon its duality rising as two moons in the sky.

26. Know the world to be no production from the beginning; because the want of its prior cause prevents its sequence; and there is no possibility of a material creation, proceeding from an immaterial causality.

27. Whatever appears as existent before you, is the product of a causeless cause; it is the appearance of the transcendent One, that appears visible to you. (The world is the visible form of the invisible One).

28. The world as it stands at present, is no other than its very original form; and the same non-dual and undivided pure soul appears as a duality, as the disc of the moon and its halo present their two aspects to us.

29. Thus the strong bias, that we have contracted from our false notion of the duality; has at last involved us in the error of taking the false for true, as to believe the shadow of a dream for reality.

30. Therefore the phenomenal world is no real production, nor does it actually exist or is likely ever to come to existence; it is likewise never annihilated, because it is impossible for a nihility to be nil again.

31. Hence that thing which is but a form of the serene vacuum, must be quiet calm and serene also; and this being exhibited in the form of the world, is of its own nature quite clear and steady, and imperishable to all eternity. (The Beo-vyom or vacuum being a void, cannot be annulled to a nullity again).

32. It is nothing what is seen before us, nor aught that is visible, is ever reliable as real; neither also is there ever a viewer for want of visible, nor the vision of a thing without its view.

Rama rejoined:—

33. If it is such, then please to explain moreover, O most eloquent sir, the nature of the visibles, their view, and viewer; and what are these that thus appear to our view?

Vasishtha replied:—

34. There being no assignable cause, for the appearance of the unreal visibles; their vision is but a deception, and yet it [is] maintained as true by the dogmatism of opponents.

35. Whatever there appears as visible to the vision of the viewer, is all fallacy and offspring of the great delusion of Maya only. But the world in its recondite sense, is but a reflection of the Divine mind.

36. The intellect is awake in our sleeping state, and shows us the shapes in our dream, as the sky exhibits the various in its ample garden; thus the intellect manifests itself in the form of the world in itself.

37. Hence there is no formal cause or self evolving element, since the first creation of the world; and that [which] sparkles any where before us, is only the great Brahma Himself (not in his person or formless form, but in his spirit or intellectuality).

38. It is the sunshine of the Intellect within its own hollow sphere, that manifests this world as a reflection of his own person.

39. The world is an exhibition of the quality, of the unqualified vacuity of the Intellect; as existence is the quality of existent beings, and as vacuity is the property of vacuum, and as form is the attribute of a material substance.

40. Know the world as the concrete counterpart, of the discrete attribute of the transcendent glory of God; and as the very reflection of it, thus visibly exposed to the view of its beholders.

41. But there being in reality no duality whatever, in the unity of the Divinity; He is neither the reflector nor the reflection himself; say who can ascertain what he is, or tell whether he is a being or not being, or a something or nothing.

Rama rejoined:—

42. If so it be as you say, that the Lord is neither the reflector nor reflection, and neither the viewer nor the view (i.e. if he is neither the prototype nor its likeness, and neither the subjective nor objective); then say what is the difference between the cause and effect, what is the source of all these, and if they are unreal why do they appear as realities?

Vasishtha replied:—

43. Whenever the Lord thinks on the manifestation of his intellect, He beholds the same at the very moment, and then becomes the subjective beholder of the objects of his own thought.

44. The intellectual vacuum itself assumes the form of the world, as the earth becomes a hill &c. by itself; but it never forgets itself for that form, as men do in their dream. Moreover there is no other cause to move it to action, except its own free will.

45. As a person changing his former state to a new one, retains his self consciousness in the interim, so the Divine Intellect retains its identity, in its transition from prior vacuum to its subsequent state of the plenum.

46. The thought of cause and effect, and the sense of the visible and invisible, proceed from errors of the mind and defects of vision; it is the erroneous imagination that frames these worlds, and nobody questions or upbraids himself for his error. The states of cause and effect, and those of the visible and invisible &c., are mere phantoms of error, rising before the sight of the living soul and proceeding from its ignorance, and then its imagination paints these as the world, and there is nobody that finds his error or blame himself for his blunder.

47. If there be another person, that is the cause, beholder and enjoyer of these (other than the supreme one) then say what is that person, and what is the phenomenal, that is the point in question; or it is liable to reproof.

48. As the state of our sleep presents us only, an indiscernible vacuity of the Intellect (which watches alone over the sleeping world); how then is it possible to represent the One soul as many, without being blamed for it?

49. It is the self-existent soul alone, which presents the appearance of the world in the intellect; and it is the ignorance of this truth, which has led to the general belief of the creation of the world by Brahma.

50. It is ignorance of this intellectual phenomenon, which has led mankind to many errors, under the different names of illusion or maya, of ignorance or avidya, of the phenomenal or drisya, and finally of the world or jagat.

51. The manifestation in the intellectual vacuum, takes possession of the mind like a phantom; which represents the unreal world as a reality before it, as the false phantom of [a] ghost, takes a firm hold on the mind of an infant.

52. Although the world is an unreality, yet we have a notion of it as something real in our empty intellect; and this is no other than the embodiment of a dream, which shows us the forms of hills and cities in empty air.

53. The intellect represents itself as a hill or a Rudra, or as a sea or as the God Virat himself; just [as] a man thinks in his dream, that he sees the hills and towns in his empty mind.

54. Nothing formal that has any form, can be the result of a formless cause (as God); hence the impossibility of the existence of the solid world, and of its formal causes of atomic elements, at the great annihilation both prior to creation, as also after its dissolution. It is therefore evident, that the world is ever existent in its ideal form only in the Divine Mind.

55. It is a mere uncaused existence, inherent in its vacuous state in the vacuous Mind; and what is called the world, is no more than an emptiness appertaining to the empty Intellect.

56. The minds of ignorant people are as glassy mirrors, receiving the dim and dull images of things set before their senses; but those of reasoning men are as clear microscopes, that spy the vivid light of the Divine Mind that shines through all. (This light is called Pratyagnanatma or the nooscopic appearance of Divine soul).

57. Therefore they are the best of men, who shun the sight of visible forms; and view the world in the light of intellectual vacuity; and remain as firm as rocks in the meditation of the steady Intellect, and place no faith or reliance on anything else.

58. The Intellect shows the revolution of the world in itself by its incessant act of airy intellection; as the sea displays its circuition throughout the watery world, by the continual rotation of its whirlpools.

59. As the figurative tree of our desire, produces and yields our wished for fruits in a moment, so the intellect presents every thing before us, that is thought of in an instant. (It is the subjective mind, that shows the objects of its thought within itself).

60. As the mind finds in itself, its wished for gem and the fruit of its desire; in the same manner doth the internal soul, meet with its desired objects in its vacuous self in a minute.

61. As a man passing from one place to another, rests calmly in the interim; such is the state of the mind in the interval of its thoughts, when it sees neither the one nor another thing.

62. It is the reflection of the Intellect only, which shines clearly in variegated colours, within the cavity of its own sphere; and though devoid of any shape or colour, yet it exhibits itself like the vacuity of the sky, in the blueness of the firmament.

63. Nothing unlike can result from the vacuous Intellect, other than what is alike inane as itself; a material production requires a material cause, which is wanting in the Intellect; and therefore the created world is but a display of the Divine Mind, like the appearance of dreams before our sleeping minds.