The Sage Vasishtha said: There is, O Rama, but one true essence which appears manifold by our mistake. This variety is caused by a production of one thing from another, like the lighting of a lamp from a flame. Knowing the Self as nothing before its entry into existence and laying aside false notions of it, one can have no cause for grief.
Man is a creature of his own conceptions, and by getting rid of these, he is freed from his dualistic notions of the world. He is like someone wearing shoes who perceives the whole earth he walks upon to be covered with skin. As the plantain tree has no pith except its manifold coats, so there is no substantiality of the world besides our false conceptions of it.
Our births are followed by childhood, youth, old age and death in turn, and then the prospects of heavens and hells open to our view, like passing phantoms before the flighty mind. As the clear eye sees bubbles of light in the empty sky, so too the thoughtless mind views the firmament as full of luminous bodies.
As the one moon seems two to the dimmed eye, so the intellect, vitiated by the senses, supposes a duality in the unity of the Supreme Spirit. As the giddiness of wine presents pictures of trees to the drunken eye, so does the inebriation of sensation present the phantasms of the world to the excited intellect.
Know that the revolution of this visible world is like the playful spinning of a globe upon a potter's wheel. When the intellect bethinks a thing as other than itself, it falls into the error of dualism. But when it concentrates its thought in itself, it transcends all sense of objective duality.
There is nothing besides the Intellect except the thoughts on which it dwells, and its sensations are all at rest when it knows the emptiness of objects. When the vitiated intellect is stilled through union with the Supreme and the restraint of its functions, it becomes quiescent.
The weak intellect thinks of objective things, but pure Intellect ceases all thoughts, just as slight intoxication makes one rave and revel, whilst deep drinking makes one dead to all excitements. When the sound and consummate understanding runs in one course towards its main reservoir in the Supreme, it relinquishes all cognition and self-consciousness in the presence of the One and only.
The perfected understanding pierces the errors attendant upon sensation and sense objects and knows birth, life and all the acts and scenes of the living state as false dreams. The mind restrained from its natural flight can have no thought of any object. It is lost, like the extinct heat of a fire or the stilled motion of the wind.
Without the suppression of mental operations, the mind must continue in its misconceptions, mistaking ropes for snakes through ignorance. But it is not difficult to repress the action of the mind and arouse true consciousness in order to heal our souls of the malady of their mistaken notion of the world.
If you can succeed in suppressing the desires of your restless mind at any time, you are sure, without fail, to obtain liberation at that very moment. If you will but turn to your subjective consciousness alone, you will be rid of the seeming objective world, just as one is freed from fear of a snake in a rope by examining it.
If it is possible to still the restless mind, the source of all our desires, then it is in no way impossible for any person to attain the chief goal of liberation. When noble men can give up their lives like straws for honourable causes, there is no reason for reluctance in letting go of desires for the sake of the highest good.
Remain unfettered, forsaking the desires of your greedy mind, for what is the good of getting sensible objects which we are sure to lose? The liberated are already in sight of the immortality of their souls and of the Divine, like one who holds a fruit in his hand or sees a mountain palpable before him.
The Divine Spirit alone abides in all the phenomenal worlds which rise to view like the watery waves of the great deluge. Knowledge of the Supreme is attended by the highest good of freedom, whilst ignorance of the Supreme binds the mind to the interminable bondage of the world.
Rama said: Please describe more fully thejiva, or living soul, saying what relation it bears to the Supreme Soul, how it sprang from the Supreme, and what its essence is.
The Sage Vasishtha replied: KnowBrahmanas the omnipresent sovereign of all, at all times freely manifesting in whatever attribute it assumes. When the universal soul assumes the attribute of perception, this is known by the termjiva, or living soul, which possesses the power of internal volition.
Two causal principles combine in thejiva, namely, its predestination resulting from its former acts and volitions, and its present free will which branches forth into the causes of birth, death and subsistence in various forms.
Rama said: Given this, tell me, O greatest of Sages, what this predestination means and what are these acts, and how they become the causal agents of subsequent events.
Vasishtha answered: The intellect, orchit, is possessed by its own nature of oscillation and rest, like the motion and tranquillity of the winds of the air. Its agitation is the cause of its action. Otherwise, it is as calm and quiet as stillness itself. Its oscillation manifests as the fluctuation of the mind, and its calmness as the absence of mental activity and exertion, the yoga of quietude.
The vibrations ofchitlead to its continual transmigrations, and its quietness settles it in the immovable Brahma. Know the oscillation ofchitas the cause of the living state and all its actions. This vibratory intellect is the thinking soul, known as the living agent of actions and the primary seed of the universe.
This secondary soul then assumes a luminous form according to the light of its intellect, and afterwards becomes multifarious at its will and by means of the pulsations of the primary Intellect permeating the universe. The vibratory soul, having passed through many transformations, is finally freed from its motion and migrations. Some souls pass into thousands of births and forms, whilst others attain liberation in a single birth.
Thus the human soul, prone by its own nature to assume the dualism of the motive intellect, becomes by itself the cause of its transmigration and sufferings as well as its transient bliss or misery in heavens or hells. As the selfsame gold is changed into the forms of bracelets and other ornaments and as the same gross matter appears in the different forms of wood and stone, so the Divine Soul appears as multiform according to its various modes and attributes.