Liberation in life and the path to its attainment4 min read

Part of a discourse given by the sage Vashishtha to his pupil Prince Rama, translated from the Sanskrit classic Yoga Vashishtha, Nirvana Prakarana, Chapter II

Shri Vashishtha said :

O Joy of the race of Raghu, do you recall my discourse of yesterday on a theme pregnant with meaning, giving knowledge of the Supreme Reality ? Now, O slayer of your foes, listen to these further words on the nature of enlightenment, delivered that you may attain to the eternal. One crosses beyond transmigratory life through renunciation and meditation and a theoretical understanding of the nature of reality. Therefore pursue these three.

As long as ignorance is active, as long as one thinks of what is not Brahman, as long as there is care for the web of the world, so long is the mind deluded. As long as there is the feeling of T in regard to the body, as long as there is insistence on the feeling ‘this is mine’, so long is the mind deluded. Unless you have matured your innate virtues through association with the good, unless you have put behind you all worldliness and stupidity, your mind will remain in its parlous condition. As long as thought of the world does not relax its grip, the mind and nescience, terminable through insight into the real, remain in evidence. As long as there is blindness, ignorance, lack of restraint, addiction to objects and senseless infatuation, so long do fancies such as the mind and nescience remain. As long as the poisonous fumes of hope continue to haunt the forest of the heart, the partridge of philosophic reflection (vichara) is unable to penetrate its precincts.

But gone is all delusion for the mind which no longer hankers after sense-pleasures, which enjoys the coolness and purity of perfect repose, and which has cut through the meshes of the net of hope. He whose mind has become serene and whose consciousness cool through abandonment of thirst and delusion— he gives up his sex-love and it becomes transformed into enlightenment. How could he feel the force of sex-love who regards his own body as a mere distant vision, insubstantial and mean and short-lived to boot? In the case of one who has meditated on that other self of his (i.e. his real Self), of the nature of infinite consciousness, who has achieved peace, and for whom the world has dissolved in his own immensity, errors such as believing he is a mere individual no longer occur. When incorrect vision, whose nature is to produce the illusion of false appearances, has been lulled, and the sun of sole vision of the Supreme Reality has arisen, know then that the mind has perished like burnt dry leaves or like a clot of clarified butter swallowed in the sacrificial fire.

The mental realm of the great souls (Mahatmas) who are liberated in life and who see all things near and far without exception, is called “reality”. In the case of those liberated in life, the impressions (vasana) resulting in practical worldly experience are not admitted to constitute “mind” (chitta), for the impressions of such a one belong to the domain of the real. Indeed the knowers of truth, who are without mind, ever abide in the realm of sameness. They wander about here in sport, with an ease that comes from their union with reality. Though active, they are peaceful, existing in the reality and with their sense-organs controlled. They ever behold the nondual light. They have no binding impressions (vasana) because they have realized that duality is nothing other than the One. The delusion that mind or ignorance exists subsides in the case of the sage who, by turning within, sacrifices the straw of the three worlds in the fire of consciousness. It is the mind itself, once purified, that is called “reality”. It does not again bring forth delusion as its fruit, just as a burnt seed does not bring forth a shoot. Until it attains to reality the mind of the deluded one brings rebirth and is still known as “mind”. But this is reversed (cancelled) through enlightenment.

Thou, indeed, hast obtained what has to be obtained. Thou hast reached Reality. The mind which has been burnt by the fire of knowledge does not grow again. The mind which is yet affected by desires grows again, like a plant struck down by axe or fire; but not so the mind purified by knowledge and burnt by the fire of knowledge. Since this world exists only through the greatness of Brahman and is verily only the greatness of Brahman, no difference exists between it and Brahman any more than between massed consciousness and Brahman. The three worlds exist within consciousness like pungency existing in the pepper shrub. Therefore consciousness and the world are not separate, and the distinction between real and unreal is vain. Words and their meanings and the whole convention of speech exist in the minds of men only, not in pure consciousness. Give up the notions of real and unreal, since both are mere appearances arising in the ether of pure consciousness. In so far as thou art not of the nature of consciousness, thou dost not exist. Why, then, dost thou weep? In so far as the worlds are not of the nature of consciousness, they do not exist. Why, then, continue to imagine them?