Yoga Vasishtha - A Treasure House of Philosophy

Mind, the origin of the World
According to Vasishtha this world is a manifestation of the mind. Just as the ocean alone is real and not the waves, though they appear and disappear, it is Brahman, the ultimate Reality, that is real and not the phenomenal world. An analysis of the three states of consciousness has been made to prove this point. A little reflection on the nature of our knowledge and experience will reveal that the plurality and variety perceived in the world have behind them an all comprehending and all embracing Unity. He says that the object of our knowledge is nothing but a modification of our consciousness itself i.e. an idea or kalpana because two things having no common substance immanent in both cannot be related either as cause and effect or subject and the object. Thus knowledge can have as its object only that which is similar in nature with it. All objects, therefore, along with the perceiving subject, are ideas in our mind and nothing outside and beyond the mind.

We have the knowledge of our experiences in the world with a) things b) time c) space and d) natural laws. We may call this in simple terms as our daily inter action with the outside world of men and matter. This knowledge, Vasishtha says, is a manifestation of our mind only i.e. our own ideas or kalpana. Every thing is coined in the mind as our dream experiences are. If somebody acquires power over his mind and stops its function of manufacturing ideas, he cannot experience any thing at all and his mind would be in the state of perfect equilibrium or rest.

It is only as long as one invests the perceived object with reality that bondage lasts; once that notion goes, with it goes bondage. Consciousness which is undivided imagines to itself desirable objects and runs after them. It is then known as the mind. From this omnipresent and omnipotent supreme master called the mind arose the power of imagining objects as separate from each other like ripples in placid water.
Just as fire born out of wind (fanned into flame) is extinguished by the same wind, so
also that which is born of imagination is destroyed by imagination itself like the experience of one's own death in a dream ceases to exist when scrutinized on waking up. The idea of Self in what is not the Self, the idea of reality in what is unreal, O Rama, is due to incorrect understanding by the mind (chittam). The mind has come into this erroneous imagination on account of its ignorance of the Self because of its vasanas.

‘This is he ', ' I am this ', ' That is mine ', such (ideas) constitute the mind; it disappears
when one ponders over these false ideas. It is the nature of the mind to accept certain things and to reject others; this is bondage, nothing else.

The mind is the creator of the world; the mind is the individual (purusha); only that which is done by the mind is regarded as done, not that which is done by the body.  The mind is the cause of (i.e. produces) the objects of perception. The three worlds of waking, dream and deep sleep states depend upon it. When the mind is dissolved the world is also dissolved. It is to be cured (i.e. purified) with effort. The mind is bound by the latent impressions (vasanas). When there are no impressions it is free. Therefore, O Rama, bring about quickly, through discrimination, the state in which there are no impressions.

Just as a streak of cloud appears to stain the moon or a blot of ink a painted wall, so also the evil spirit of desire stains the inner man. O Rama, he who, with the mind turned inwards, offers all the three worlds, like dried grass, as an oblation in the fire of knowledge, becomes free from the illusions of the mind.

The mind is terrible (ghoram) in the waking state, gentle (santam) in the dream state, dull (mudham) in deep sleep and dead when not in any of these three states. Just as the powder of the kataka seed, after precipitating the dirt in water, becomes merged in the water, so also the mind (after removing all impressions) itself becomes merged (in the Self).

The mind is samsara; the mind is also said to be bondage; the body is activated by the mind just as a tree is shaken by the wind. Conquer your mind first, by pressing the palm with the palm, grinding the teeth with the teeth and twisting the limbs with the limbs.

It is only a fool who will not feel ashamed to move about in the world as he pleases and talk about meditation when he is not able to conquer even the mind? The only god to be conquered is the mind. Its conquest leads to the attainment of everything. Without its conquest all other efforts are fruitless.

To be unperturbed is the foundation of blessedness. One attains liberation by it. To human beings even the conquest of the three worlds, without the conquest of the mind, is as insignificant as a blade of grass.

Association with the wise, abandonment of latent impressions, self-enquiry, control of
breathing - these are the means of conquering the mind.

The mind becomes bound by thinking `I am not Brahman'; it becomes completely
released by thinking ' I am Brahman '.

When the mind is abandoned everything that is dual or single is dissolved. What remains after that is the Supreme Brahman, peaceful, eternal and free from misery. There is nothing to equal the supreme joy felt by a person of pure mind who has attained the state of pure consciousness and overcome death.

Unreality of the World
Just as the great ocean of milk became still when it was churned by the Devas and the Asuras, even so the illusion of samsara comes to an end when the mind is stilled. Samsara rises when the mind becomes active and ceases when it is still. Still the mind, therefore, by controlling the breath and the latent desires (vasanas).

This worthless samsara is born of one's imagination and vanishes in the absence of imagination. It is certain that it is absolutely unsubstantial. The idea of a live snake in a picture of a snake vanishes when the truth is known. Similarly samsara ceases to exist when the Truth is realized, even if it continues to appear. This long- living ghost of a samsara which is the creation of the deluded mind of man and the cause of his sufferings disappears when one ponders over it.

O Rama, maya is such that it brings delight through its own destruction; its nature is inscrutable; it ceases to exist even while it is being observed.  Dear boy, wonderful indeed is this maya which deludes the entire world. It is on account of it that the Self is not perceived even though it pervades all the limbs of the body.

Whatever is seen does not truly exist. It is like the mythical city of Gandharvas or a mirage. That which is not seen, though within us, is called the eternal and indestructible Self.

Just as the trees on the bank of a lake are reflected in the water, so also all these varied objects are reflected in the vast mirror of our consciousness. This creation, which is a mere play of consciousness, rises up, like the delusion of a snake in a rope when there is ignorance and comes to an end when there is right knowledge.

Even though bondage does not really exist, it becomes strong through desire for worldly enjoyments; when this desire subsides bondage becomes weak. Like waves rising up from the ocean the unstable mind rises out of the vast and stable expanse of the Supreme Self.

This world, though unreal, appears to exist and is the cause of life-long suffering to an ignorant person, just as a non-existent ghost is the cause of fear to a young boy. One who has no idea of gold sees only the bracelet. He does not at all have the idea that it is merely gold. Similarly towns, houses, mountains, animals etc. are all separate objects in the eyes of the ignorant man. From the absolute point of view this objective world is the subject (the Self) itself; it is not separate (from the Self).

The world is full of misery to an ignorant man and full of bliss to a wise man. The world is dark to a blind man and bright to the one who has eyes. The bliss of a man of discrimination, who has rejected samsara and discarded all mental concepts, constantly increases.

He who reckons the rays as non-different from the sun and realizes that they are the sun itself is stated to be nirvikalpa (the undifferentiating man). Just as the cloth, when investigated, is seen to be nothing but thread, so also this world, when enquired into, is merely the Self.

This fascinating world rises like a wave in the ambrosial ocean of consciousness and
dissolves in it. How then can it be different from consciousness in the middle i.e. when it appears? Just as the foam, the waves, the dew and the bubbles are not different from water, even so this world which has come out of the Self is not different from the Self.

Just as a tree consisting of fruits, leaves, creepers, flowers, branches, twigs and roots, exists in the seed of the tree, even so this manifest world exists in Brahman. Just as the pot, when broken, goes back to mud, waves into water and ornaments into gold, so also this world which has come out of the Self ultimately goes back to the Self.

The snake appears when one does not recognize the rope; it disappears when one recognizes the rope. Even so this world appears when the Self is not recognized; it disappears when the Self is recognized.

It is only our forgetfulness of the invisible Self which causes the world to appear just as the ignorance of the rope causes the snake to appear. Just as the dream becomes unreal in the waking state and the waking state in the dream, so also death becomes unreal in birth and birth in death. All these are thus neither real nor unreal. They are the effect of delusion, mere impression arising out of some past experiences.

Destruction of Latent Impressions
O Rama, this enquiry into the Self or the nature of Who am I?  Is the fire which burns up the seeds of the evil tree which is the mind? Just as the wind does not affect the creepers in a picture, so also afflictions do not affect one whose understanding is fortified by firmness and reflected in the mirror of enquiry.

Just as in a mirage the idea of water does not occur to one who knows that it is a mirage, even so latent impressions do not rise in one whose ignorance has been destroyed by realizing that everything is Brahman. By the abandonment of latent impressions or by the control of breathing, mind ceases to be the mind. Practice whichever you like, O Rama.

O pure soul, cherish the association of sages and the true scriptures; you will attain the state of Supreme Consciousness not in the course of months but days. Latent impressions cease to be active when one associates with sages, discards all thoughts of samsara and remembers that the body has to die. O Raghava, even ignorant persons convert, by the firmness of their conviction, poison into nectar and nectar into poison.

When this body is taken to be real it serves the purpose of a body, but when it is seen to be unreal it becomes like space, unsubstantiated. O Rama, while in dream state although lying on a soft bed you feel you are wandering about in all directions; but now in this waking state, where is that body which was wandering in the dream?

Just as a respectable man avoids contact with an outcast woman carrying dog's flesh, so also one should discard the thought ‘I-am-the-body ', even if everything were to be lost.

When the aspirant (sadhu) thinks only of Brahman and remains calm and free from sorrows his egoism dies of itself. If one realizes the unity of things everywhere, one always remains tranquil, inwardly cool and pure like space without the sense of ' I '. If inwardly one is cool the whole world will be cool, but if inwardly one is agitated the whole world will be a burning mass.

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