Rama said: O Rishi, one never tires of your instruction, but must hear evermore. Explain, then, the nature of living liberation, sublime and wondrous to hear.
Vasishtha replied: Having given you many accounts of living liberated men, I will again give another for your satisfaction and close attention. In their tranquil state, their eyes view the world as a hazy maze. It appears unreal in their spiritual light when their minds are fixed in the Supreme SELF.
The mind of him who has attained liberation is as still as sleep. Seeing only the SELF, he is replete with the sight. Taking nothing within his reach and retaining nothing in his grasp, he restrains his mind within himself, wherein all is contained.
Seeing the bustle of the tumultuous in his mind's eye, he smiles to himself at the hurry and flurry of the world. Without expectation or present possession, and aloof from any pleasures of a remembered past, he lives indifferent to all.
Sleeping, he is awake in his vision of heavenly light; waking he is plunged in the deep sleep of contemplation. Performing his works with his external form, he does nothing with his inward mind. Relinquishing all mental concerns and renouncing all inward cares, he accomplishes his outward actions even as one who does nothing.
He pursues the duties of caste and family as the customs of his forefathers ordain. All expected and required of him, he does with willing mind, without the error of believing himself their doer.
He remains insensible to all that is done by rote and habit, untouched by longing or loathing, rejoicing or grief. Inattentive to the amity or enmity of others, he is devoted to those devoted to him, and cunning with those crafty towards him.
He is a child among children and an elder among the old. He is youthful in the company of young men, and solemn in the assembly of the aged and wise. He is rich in sympathy for the woes of others. His speech is edifying, never betraying any inward need, and he is always even-minded and cheerful in tone.
Wise and deep, yet open and tender, he is as full with the fullness of knowledge as the moon is full in her orb. He is free from pain and misery. He is magnanimous in disposition and sweet as the sea of delight. He is cool and soothing to the pains of others, and as refreshing to mankind as the rays of the moon.
Though accomplishing deeds of merit, no action or worldly good is of any profit to him; neither does he gain by his abandonment of pleasures, riches or friends, nor by their disappearance from him. Neither action nor inaction, nor labour nor ease, neither bondage nor release, nor heaven nor hell, can diminish or increase his inner contentment.
He witnesses all in all in the same universal light, unafraid of bondage and not eager for release. He whose doubts are dispelled by the light of knowledge mounts upwards in his mind as the fearless phoenix soars into the sky.
With mind free from error and settled in equanimity, he neither rises nor falls like the celestial forms, but remains fixed like the high heaven itself. Fulfilling outward actions by the mere movement of the members of his outer frame, and without the involvement of his mind, he is like a babe sleeping in a cradle whose limbs play spontaneously, without mental intent.
Like the intoxicated and feverish in their delirium, he acts without the involvement or attention of his mind, and remains with remembrance untainted by actions. As children seize and cast away all things with no thought of their good or harm, so does he act or refrain from acting without personal attraction or aversion.
Like a man performing his duty by habit or compulsion, he is insensible of any pain or pleasure he derives from it. Actions of the outer form lacking the intention of the inner mind are not reckoned acts of the actor, and entail neither good nor evil fruits.
He neither shrinks from misery nor hails good fortune. He is neither elated by success nor cast down by failure. He is undismayed to see the sun grow cool or feel the moon wax hot; nor is he disconcerted by flames bending low, or waters rushing upwards. He is neither affrighted nor astonished by any prodigy of nature, for he knows all phenomena to be the wondrous appearances of the omnipotent and all-intelligent Soul. Expressing no need or want of his own, and requiring no favour or kindness from others, he has no recourse to wiles and deceit. He engages in no shameful or wretched acts, nor displays any defect through unworthy deeds.
Never mean-spirited or haughty, he is neither elated nor depressed in his mind, nor is he ever ensnared by sadness, sorrow or happiness. No passions stain his pure heart, clear as the autumn sky, and, like the bright firmament, no field for thorns and thistles.
Look on the unending births and deaths of beings in the world. Which of them may you ever call happy or unhappy? Like froth and foaming bubbles bursting in the sea, our lives flash forth and fly out to eternity. Who will you call happy amidst this flux of pleasure and pain?
In this world of endless entrances and exits, which being lasts or is lost forever? Man is the maker of the world by his vision of it, and his failing vision dissolves it from view. The spectacle of these worlds is like the transitory vision of a dream: unforeseen appearances of momentary duration and sudden disappearance.
What cause can there be for elation or sorrow in this scene of incessant advents and departures? The loss of some good is attended by sorrow to the sufferer; what sorrow can assail the liberated man who sees no lasting good in the ever-changing world?
Of what avail are prosperity or the enjoyment of pleasures, when they are succeeded in the next moment by adversity and pain, baneful and embittering in their effects. It is freedom from pleasure and pain, from attraction and aversion, from desire and dislike, from prosperity and adversity altogether, that contributes to the true felicity of man.
Abandoning interest in pleasant and unpleasant objects, and relinquishing desire for all enjoyments, you will reach a cool indifference which will still your mind like frost. The mind being quieted, its desires will be silenced as well, just as the burnt sesamum seed leaves no oil behind.
Knowing existence as non-existent, the Mahatma is free of all desires and established apart, as if abiding in the empty air. With a joyous spirit that knows no change, the wise sit, sleep and live ever content in the SELF.