How to Subdue the Seeds of the World Illusion
As long as there is mind, there is no cessation of sorrow. When mind ceases, the world appearance also ceases to be. The mind is the seed for misery.
I shall now describe how the mind ceases to be. When both happiness and unhappiness do not divert a man from his utter equanimity, then know that his mind is dead.
He in whom the notions 'This I am' and 'this I am not' do not arise, thus limiting his consciousness - his mind is dead. He in whom the very notions of calamity, poverty, elation, pride, dullness and excitement do not arise - his mind is dead, and he is liberated while living.
The very nature of the mind is stupidity.
Hence when it dies, purity and noble qualities arise. Some wise men refer to 'the pure mind' as that state of utter purity that prevails in a liberated sage in whom the mind is dead.
Such a mind of the liberated sage is therefore full of noble qualities like friendliness, etc. The existence (satta) of such natural goodness in a liberated sage is known as satva (light, purity), etc. Hence, this is also called 'death of the mind where form remains.'
The death of the mind where even the form vanishes pertains to the disembodied sage. In the case of such a mind, no trace is left. It is impossible to describe it in a positive way.
In it there are neither qualities nor their absence, neither virtues nor their absence, neither light nor darkness, nor conditioning and no notions at all, neither existence nor non-existence. It is a state of supreme quiescence and equilibrium. They who have risen beyond the mind and the intelligence reach that supreme state of peace.
Lord, what is the seed of this fearful tree known as the mind, and what is the seed of that seed, and so on?
Rama, the seed for this world appearance is the body within, with all it's notions and concepts of good and evil. That body also has a seed which is the mind, which flows constantly in the direction of hopes and desires and which is also the repository of notions of being and non-being and the consequent sorrow.
The world appearance arises only in the mind, and this is illustrated by the dream state.
Whatever is seen here as the world is but the expansion of the mind, even as pots are transformations of clay.
The two seeds for the tree known as the mind, which carries within it innumerable notions and ideas, are movement of prana (life force) and obstinate fancy. When there is movement of prana in the appropriate channels, then there is movement in consciousness and mind rises.
Again, it is the movement of prana alone (when it is seen or apprehended by the mind) that is seen as this world appearance, which is as real as the blueness of the sky.
The cessation of the movement of prana is the cessation of the world appearance too. The omnipresent consciousness is 'awakened' as it were, by the movement of prana. If this does not happen then there is supreme good.
When consciousness is 'awakened' thus, it begins to apprehend objects, ideas arise and thence sorrow.
CONTROL OF CONSCIOUSNESS VIA CONTROL OF PRANA
On the other hand, if this consciousness rests in itself, as if fast asleep, then one attains what is most desirable and that is supreme peace. Therefore you will realize the unborn state of consciousness if you either restrain the movement of prana in your own psychological ground (of concepts and notions), or refrain from disturbing the homogeneity in consciousness.
It is when this homogeneity is disturbed and the consciousness experiences diversity that the mind arises, and the countless psychological conditions spring into activity.
In order to bring quiescence of the mind, the yogi practices pranayama (restraint of the movement of the life force), meditation and such other proper and appropriate methods. Great yogis regard this pranayama itself as the most appropriate method for the achievement of tranquility of the mind, etc.
CONTROL OF CONSCIOUSNESS THROUGH SELF-INQUIRY
I shall now describe to you the other viewpoint, that of the men of wisdom, born of their direct experience: the declare that the mind is born of one's obstinate clinging to a fancy or deluded imagination.
When obstinately clinging to a fancy and therefore abandoning thorough inquiry into the nature of truth, one apprehends an object with that fancy - such apprehension is described as conditioning or limitation. When such fancy is persistently and intensely indulged in, this world appearance arises in consciousness.
When psychological conditioning or limitation is not dense, when it has become transparent, one becomes a liberated sage who apparently lives and functions by past momentum (even as a potter's wheel rotates after the initial impulse has been withdrawn), but he will not be born again.
In his case the seed has been fried, as it were, and will not germinate into world-illusion. When the body falls, he is absorbed into the Infinite.
Of the two seeds for this world illusion (movement of prana and clinging to fancy), if one is got rid of, the other also goes away, for the two are interdependent.
The mind creates the world-illusion, and the mind is created by the movement of prana in one's own conditioning. Again, this movement of prana also takes place because of the mental conditioning or fancy. Thus this vicious circle is completed; one feeds the other, one spurs the other into action.
Motion is natural to prana, and when it moves in consciousness, mind arises; then the conditioning keeps the prana in motion. When one is arrested, both fall.
Rama, the notion of an object (of knowledge, of experience) is the seed for both movement of prana and for the clinging to a fancy, for it is only when such desire for experience arises in the heart that such movement or prana and mental conditioning take place. When such desire for experience is abandoned, both these cease instantly.
Of course, the indwelling consciousness is the seed for this desire for experiencing: for without that consciousness the desire for such experience will not arise at all.
However it has no object of experience either inside or outside. when this truth is realized, the illusion ceases to be.
Hence, O Rama, strive to eradicate the desire for experience. Get rid of idleness. Free yourself from all experiences.
Lord, how can these two be reconciled? Can I seek freedom from all experiences and freedom from inactivity at the same time?
He who has no desire or hope for anything here, nor entertains a wish to rest in inactivity, such a one does not exist as a jiva (individualized limited soul/self); he is neither inactive nor does he seek to experience.
He who does not lean towards experience or perception of objects though he is engaged in ceaseless activity, is neither inactive nor does he do anything or experience anything. The objective experiences do not touch the heart at all: hence, he whose consciousness is not inactive is a liberated sage here and now.
Holy sir, kindly tell me how one may quickly destroy all these seeds of distraction and reach the supreme state?
These seeds of sorrow, O Rama, can each be destroyed by destruction of the previous one. But, if you can at one stroke cut off all mental conditioning and by great self-effort rest in the state of pure existence (if you rest in that state for even a second), in no time you will be established in it.
If however you wish merely to find your foothold in pure existence, you can achieve it by even greater effort. Similarly, by contemplating the Infinite consciousness too, you can rest in the supreme state: but that demands greater effort still.
Meditation is not possible on objects of experience, for they exist only in consciousness or the Self. But if you strive to destroy the conditioning (concepts, notions, habits, etc), then in a moment all your errors and illnesses vanish. However, this is more difficult than the ones described earlier.
For until the mind is free from the movement of thought, cessation of conditioning is difficult, and vice versa; and unless the truth is realized, the mind does not cease to function, and vice versa.
Yet again, until the conditioning ceases, the unconditioned truth is not realized, and vice versa. Since realization of truth, cessation of the mind and the ending of conditioning are interwoven, it is extremely difficult to deal with them individually and separately.
Hence, O Rama, by every means in your power renounce the pursuit of pleasure and resort to all three simultaneously. If all these are simultaneously practiced for a considerable time, they become fruitful, not otherwise. O Rama, this world experience has been experienced as truth for a very long time and it needs persistent practice of all these three simultaneously to overcome it.
Wise ones declare that the abandonment of conditioning and the restraint of prana are of equal effect: hence one should practice them simultaneously. Prana is restrained by the practice of pranyama and the yoga asna as taught by the guru or some other means.
When desires, aversion and cravings do not arise in the mind even though their objects are seen in front, then it is to be inferred that mental conditioning has weakened; thence wisdom arises, further weakening the conditioning.
Then the mind ceases.
It is not possible to 'kill the mind' without proper methods. Knowledge of the Self, company of holy men, the abandonment conditioning and the restraint of prana are the means to overcome the mind. Ignoring these and resorting to violent practices like Hatha Yoga (physical), austerities, pilgrimage, rites and rituals is a waste of time.
Self knowledge alone bestows delight on you. A man of Self knowledge alone lives. Hence gain Self-knowledge O Rama.
He who acts without attachment, merely with the organs of action, is not affected by anything, neither by joy nor by sorrow. His actions are non-volitional.
He sees not though eyes see, he hears not though ears hear, he touches not though body touches. Surely attachment (contact, association) is the cause for this world-illusion; it alone creates objects.
Attachment causes bondage and endless sorrow. Therefore holy ones declare that the abandonment of attachment is itself liberation. Abandon attachment O Rama, and be a liberated sage.
Attachment is that O Rama, which makes conditioning of the mind more and more dense, by repeatedly causing the experiences of pleasure and pain in relation to the existence and non-existence of the objects of pleasure, thus confirming such association as inevitable and bringing about intense attachment to the objects of pleasure.
In the case of the liberated sage however, this conditioning is freed from the experiences of joy and sorrow: hence it is purified, i.e. the conditioning is weakened if not destroyed. Even if it exists in an extremely weakened state till the death of the body, the actions that spring from such a weakened and so pure conditioning do not result in rebirth.
On the other hand, the dense conditioning which exists in the unwise is itself known as attachment. If you abandon this attachment which causes perverse notions in you, the actions that you may spontaneously perform here will not affect you.
If you rise beyond joy and sorrow and therefore treat them alike, and if you are free from attraction, aversion and fear, you are unattached. If you do not grieve in sorrow, if you do not exult in happiness and if you are independent of your own desires and hopes, you are unattached.
Even while carrying on your activities here, if you do not abandon your awareness of the homogeneity of the truth, you are unattached. If you have gained Self-knowledge and if, endowed with equal vision, you engage yourself in spontaneous and appropriate action in the here and now, you are unattached.
Be effortlessly remaining in non-attachment, live here as a liberated sage without being attracted by anything. The liberated sage lives in the inner silence, without pride or vanity, without jealousy and with his senses fully under his control.
Even when all the objects of the world are spread out in front of him, the liberated sage who is free from cravings is not tempted by them, but engages himself in mere natural actions. Whatever is inevitable and appropriate, he does; his joy and delight however, he derives from within: this he is freed from the world-appearance.
Even as milk does not abandon it's color when it is boiled, he does not abandon his wisdom even when severely tested by terrible calamities. Whether he is subjected to great pain or he is appointed the ruler of heaven, he remains in a balanced state of mind.
I have thus provided you with a net woven with words which are indicative of the highest truth: tie down the bird of your mind with this net and let the mind then rest in your heart (spiritual heart).
Thus shall you attain Self-knowledge. O Rama, have you absorbed this truth imparted by me, although it is mixed with various expressions and illustrations, even as the proverbial swan is able to separate milk from water when these are mixed together, and to drink milk alone?
You should contemplate this truth again and again, and reflect upon it from beginning to end. You should march along this path now O noble one. Though engaged in diverse activities, you will not be bound if your intelligence is saturated with this truth; otherwise you will fall, even as an elephant falls from a cliff.
Again, if you conceptualize this teaching for your intellectual entertainment and do not let it act in your life, you will stumble and fall like a blind man.
In order to reach the state of perfection or liberation taught by me, you should live a life of non-attachment, doing what is appropriate in every situation as it reaches you. Rest assured that this is the vital factor in the teaching of all scriptures.
Given leave to depart, all the kings and sages of the assembly left for their abode. They contemplated Vasistha's teachings and discussed it among themselves, spending only a couple of hours in pleasant and deep sleep.
Next morning Prince Rama and Laksmana and all the others proceeded swiftly to the hermitage of the sage Vasistha. All of them took their allotted seats as on the previous days.
O Rama, do you remember what I have so far said to you, the words which are capable of awakening a knowledge of truth or Self-knowledge? By resorting to dispassion (the unconditioned mind) and a clear understanding of the truth, this ocean of samsara (bondage to life and death) can be crossed.
The one infinite absolute existence or cosmic consciousness alone is.
Knowing this, be free of the ego-sense and rejoice in the Self. There is no mind, no ignorance, no individual soul: these are all concepts that arose in the Creator (indivisible consciousness).
The Concise Yoga Vasistha pages 287 - 288. ISBN 0-87395-954-X paperback.
World's 2nd longest poem (20'000 verses), a treatsie on consciousness.