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 CLXXI - Meditation of pure vacuum

Argument:—On the nihility of the Phenomenal, and substantiality of the Noumenal vacuum.

Vasishtha resumed and said:—It is the manifestation of our vacuous consciousness, that exhibits the phenomenal world unto us; whereas there is in reality no such thing as this world, or its appearance, or a vacuum in nature or a thing as consciousness in ourselves.

2. Whatever is apparent before us, is the manifestation of the Intellect, and vainly styled the world; just as the open air called the sky, is no other than the air itself. (So the vacuum known as the world, is not otherwise than the very vacuum).

3. As a man going from one place to another, sees a gap and blank between; and yet thinks of the place he has seen and left behind, so is the world a mere gap and thought of the mind.

4. Before creation there was nothing, how then could this something appear from that nothing; the latter having no material cause, is no material or visible thing. (Ex nihilo nihil fit. So the sruti: sat eva asit, na kinchit idam agra asit).

5. Then there was not an atom—the origin of the world in existence; how then and from where, could this revolving world, have its rise and form?

6. Therefore this formal and visible world, could not have sprung from it, as no child could ever be born of a barren woman. Hence there is nothing as the visible world, and the conception thereof must be entirely false (as that of a ghost or goblin).

7. Whatever then appears as visibly present before us, is only the blank vacuity of the Intellect; and this is the transcendental state, in which the supreme unity appears unto us (according to the doctrine of srutis).

8. As it is in depth of our sound sleep, there appears a fleeting dream before us; so it is with the supreme Intellect, which never forsakes the serene and unalterable tranquillity of its divine nature.

9. But exists of itself in itself, and in its calm and quiet state, ever before the appearance of creation; and manifests intellectual vacuity, in the form of the visible world, as it appears unto us.

10. As the idle thoughts of the mind, present themselves as airy castles in our sleep; so doth the vacuum of the supreme Intellect, exhibit the appearance of the creation in its own empty space.

11. As the empty air evolves itself, in the manner of whirlwinds in itself; so does the intellectual vacuum exhibit the phenomenal world, subsisting in its very self (in the noumenon).

12. Hence the three worlds that appear so visibly to our view, are quite unintelligible and unexposed to our sight in their very nature; it is the Supreme Deity itself, that appears in this manner of its subsistence in its own vacuous substance.

13. There is nothing as the formal earth, or anything whatever at any time; or be it anything either formal or formless, (i.e., whether as plastic nature or subtile air or spirit, or whatsoever you may choose to call it; it is the Great Deity alone, that manifests itself in this manner).

14. As the formless mountain appearing in dream, disappears in air upon waking; and as the visible world in waking becomes invisible in sleep, so does the triple world appear and disappear by turns, in the transparent and tranquil intellect only.

15. To the watchful and enlightened mind, the world appears as identic with God; but however intelligent we may be, [we] can never know that we are all along sleeping in our waking.

16. As the mind is unoccupied with any object, in the interim of one's journey from one place to another; so the minds of all livings beings, are naturally unoccupied with any preconceived idea; and this blankness is the true state of the intellect. (This passage contradicts the doctrine of innate ideas in the mind).

17. That unemployed state of mind, which one has in the interval of his journey from place to place, is what bears the name of transcendent void, wherein all existence is contained. (This passage is opposed to the preceding one. To say the intellect to be a perfect void and blank, and again the container of all, is quite contradictory).

18. Now this void of the mind, and the vacuity of the world, are similar to one another as regards the similarity of their contents; as neither of them contains anything besides the principles of the five elements, either in their ideal or gross forms of elemental bodies, called as the real and unreal ones. (Sadasadalmaka).

19. The ideal or unreal ones, are the inward conceptions of the mind, and are called as manaskaras; while the real or gross forms of them, are styled the rupalokas or visible objects, and both of these are but different modes of divine essence. All of them are like the eddies and waves, rising on the surface of the infinite ocean of the Deity.

20. Hence there is no such thing as the objectivity of the world, except that it be of the nature of that vacancy of the mind, as a traveller has in the interim of his journey from one place to another.

21. As the rising and setting of the passions and affections in the mind, are mere modes of it; so the being and not being of anything, and the presence and absence of the world, are mere modalities of the Divine Mind.

22. The chasm that there is between one thought and another, is truly characteristic of the voidness of the Divine Mind, (which reposes forever, in its everlasting and tranquil intellectual felicity sachchidananda); the visible world is but a wave in the ocean of Eternity, or as the mirage in a sandy desert.

23. The Divine spirit never changes from its state of calm repose, and vacant mindedness, as that of a traveller in the interval of his journey from one place to another. Such is the state of this world which is ever calm and quiet.

24. From the beginning or since the time of the first creation of the world, nothing was made, that seems to be made; it is only a magic show that appears so palpably to sight.

25. Alas! all this is nothing, that is so bright to sight;and yet it is something right, when viewed in the light of Brahma himself; and then it affords us fresh delight.

26. Ah! where shall I go, and what can I get from this ungodly world, which is ever prone to unrighteousness; it is an unsubstantial sight, and passes for substantial, and yet no body understands that it is Brahma the very god, that exhibits himself in this mode and manner.

27. It is no production nor reflexion, neither the archetype nor its ectype; what then are these phenomenals, and how and from where? All these that appear to view, are of the vacuity of Brahma, who exhibits himself in this manner (in all shapes).

28. As a gem shines itself of its own lustre, and not derived from without; so does the vacuous Intellect shine of its own splendour, shown forth in the creation, which is selfsame with itself.

29. It is in that calm and quiet vacuity, that this sun shines with all his glory; or rather a spot of that vacuum shines in the shape of the sun, which is but a modicum or molecule of it, and nothing beside.

30. Though situated therein, yet neither does the sun nor the moon shine of itself; it is that God that illumes those luminaries, neither of whom can illumine that transcendent Being the supreme Lord unto us.

31. It is his lustre, that enlightens this visible (the mundane) sphere; and it is he alone that is the enlightener of the sun, moon, and stars and fire as also of all other shining bodies, that shine with their borrowed light from him.

32. Whether He is formless or fictile, bodiless or embodied, is the verbal disquisition of the ignorant only at all times; whereas it is well known to the learned, that any supposititious form of Him, is as unreal as the potentiality of a sky flower growing in empty air. (Here are akas-latas—sky-plants or orchids in air, but no akas-pushpa or sky-flower, which must grow on the plant and not in the air.)

33. As a ray of sunbeams, a particle of sand or sunstone, shine brightly in sunshine; but the sun and moon also do not shine even as conspicuously as those particles, before the great glory of their Maker. (The sun is a grain of sand, and the moon a molecule, before the glory of the Great God).

34. The shining sun, moon, and stars being but offshoots, of the flaming gem of the vacuous Intellect of the Deity; say how can they be otherwise than flashes of the same gem, from which they are emitted. (The flash is not separate from the gem).

35. The divine state or hypostasis being divested of intellectuality, and being devoid of its voidness also, becomes deprived of its essentiality, as also destitute of all quality; being thus drained of all its properties and attributes, it becomes full of the plenum and totally of all existences.

36. The earth and all elemental bodies reside in it, in a manner as they are absent therein, and all living beings living by it, do not abide in the same. (All these opposites meet in its nature).

37. All things combine therein in unity, and in their atomic forms, without forsaking their grossness without; while the Divine never forsakes its uniformity, without any mixture of duality in its pure entity of unity.

38. Anything here is nothing, nor is anything a nothing altogether;therefore it is too difficult to say, what thing it is and what not. (The nature of God is inscrutable).

39. There is one thing which is infinite, and without any intersection, and is ever extended everywhere; and this is the essence of the vacuous intellect, containing the germ and gist of the universe in itself.

40. As the mind is vacant and still, in the interim of its passing from one thought to another; such is the nature and form of the world (i.e., of a quiet void), although it appears so variegated to view.

41. Though it appears to be multifarious, yet it is the uniform intellect only, which extends invariably over all vacuity; and sees as in its dream, the forms of the five elemental bodies hovering about it.

42. As the intellect passes from its rest of sleep, to the sights in its dream; so it passes from the state of pralaya or the void of universal desolation to the commotion of creation. (The sleeping and waking of the soul causing the extinction and resuscitation of the world. Manu I).

43. As sleep and dream recur to every soul, so the extinction and renovation of the world, occur to all alike; so also is waking akin to the turiya, or enlightened state of the soul: hence the world is no

other than a phenomenon in the intellectual vacuum. (The words waking and enlightenment are synonymous terms).

44. Thus the whole universe is no more, than a stage of waking, sleeping and dreaming and turiya scenes; such is the understanding of the learned on this subject; and we know nothing in what light, it is viewed by the ignorant.

45. The Lord is inscrutable amidst the living brute and all inert creation; nor can we come to any conclusion, in respect to the nature of that Being, who is beyond the knowledge, of our mind and understanding.

46. This much is knowable of Him, that he is of the pure Intellect, and that all things are full of Him; yet they are not of the form of that Reality, which manifests itself in the form of the universe.

47. The words permeation and diffusion, of the Divine spirit in creation; are used by the learned only, for explanation of the Omnipresence of the Deity; else there is no scent, i.e. nothing of the import of the word pervasion (of Divine essence) in all nature. (Nature is the mere body; but God its soul is a bodiless Being).

48. It is since the first creation of the world, that this great essence of the vacuous Intellect, is situated of itself, in the souls of great souled (or high minded men).

49. The all pervading Intellect is ever situated, in the minds of the sages, whose souls are full with the presence of the One supreme spirit; and it is that Intellect, which conceived in itself the idea, which passes under the name of the world.

50. The knowledge of the felicity of the world, like that of a dream upon waking, is attained with delight, but the want of this knowledge, as of some bad dream at the time of sleeping, makes us uneasy all the while.

51. The silent saint that knows the truth, is always in the selfsame state of tranquillity, whether he be walking or sitting any where, or remain in the states of waking and sleeping.

52. The wise man that remains indifferent to everything, and sits content even in his distress; and cares not whether he lives or dies, has nothing whatever either to gain or lose.

53. The wise man, who is outwardly employed in worldly affairs, without taking any thing to heart, and neither parts with nor craves anything; remains inactive in his active life.

54. Utter indifference is characteristic of the wise man, just as heat and cold, are natural to fire and snow, and this habit of the mind, is not acquired by practice or education.

55. He is not by his nature, of this disposition of his mind, ever ignorant of truth; and ignorance of this truth, is the sign of a character, that [is] inclined to base desires.

56. The truly wise man, remains perfect and pithy in his own good nature; he is quite satiate with the sweet ambrosial draught, of his transcendent tranquillity; he is sedate in his mind, and without his varying desires of this thing or that.