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On Detachment (pt.#5)

kapalikaThe Play of Death

Time stands the foremost of all deceitful players in this world. He acts the double parts of creation and destruction, and of action and fate. The existence of time is known to us only through action and motion, which bind all beings (in the succession of thoughts and acts).

Fate is that which frustrates the acts of all created beings, like the heat of the sun serves to dissolve a snow pack. This wide world is the stage on which the giddy mob dances about (in their appointed times). Time has a third name of a terrifying nature known as Kritantah (Fate), who in the form of Kapalika (one holding human skulls in his hand) dances about in the world. This dancing and loving Kritantah (Fate) is accompanied by his consort called Destiny to whom he is greatly attached.

The sun and the moon are the golden armlets of time, who holds the mundane world in his palm like the paltry plaything of a flower bouquet. Before him his beloved Destiny with all her arts forever dances to beguile the living who are fond of worldly enjoyments. People hurry up and down to witness the dance of Destiny, whose unrestrained motion keeps them at work, and causes their repeated births and deaths.

Time repeatedly creates the worlds and their woods, with the different abodes and localities teeming with population. He forms the moveable and immovable substances, establishes customs and again dissolves them, as children make their dolls of clay and break them soon afterwards.

The Acts of Destiny

Such being the all destructive conduct of time and others, what confidence, O great sage, can men like me have in them? We all remain here, as slaves sold to Fate and Destiny, and we are deceived by their allurements as beasts of the forest.
This Fate whose conduct is so very inhuman is ever eager to devour all beings. He is constantly throwing men into the sea of troubles. He is moved by his malicious attempts to inflame minds with excessive desires, as the fire raises its flames to burn down a house.
Destiny, the faithful and obedient wife of Fate, is naturally fickle on account of her being a female. She is always bent on mischief and disturbing patience.

Our very senses are our enemies, before which even truth appears as falsehood. The mind is the enemy of the mind and self is the enemy of self. Self-esteem is stained, intelligence is blamed for its deception, our actions are attended with bad results, and our pleasures tend only to effeminacy. All our desires are directed to enjoyments. Our love of truth is lost, our women are the symbols of vice, and all that was once so sweet has become tasteless and vapid. Things that are not real are believed as real. They have become the cause of our pride by hardening us in untruth and keeping us from the light of truth.

What reliance can there be on men like us when even the demigods are liable to destruction, when the polar star is known to change its place, and when the immortal gods are doomed to mortality? What reliance can there be on men like us when the duration of time comes to be counted, when Destiny is destined to her final destiny, and when all emptiness loses itself in infinity?

The mind is stupefied within itself, and its contentment has fled. There is no rise of enlightened sentiments in it, and meanness makes the mind’s advance to enlightened sentiments only more distant.

That which is inaudible, unspeakable, invisible, and unknowable in his real form, displays to us these wonderful worlds by some fallacy. No one conscious of himself can disown his subjection to that Being that dwells in the hearts of every one. This sun, the lord of worlds, is compelled to run over hills, rocks and fields, like an inert piece of stone, hurled down from a mountain and carried away by a current stream. This globe of earth, the seat of all the suras and asuras and surrounded by a luminous sphere like a walnut is covered by its hard shell, exists under the His command. The gods in the heavens, the men on earth, and the serpents in the nether world are brought into existence and led to decay by His will only. Kama Deva, who is arbitrarily powerful and has forcibly overpowered the entire living world, derives his unconquerable might from the Lord of worlds.

Yet I know not why men of reason would not understand this truth. “This is a day of festivity, a season of joy and a time of procession. Here are our friends. Here are the pleasures and here are a variety of our entertainments.” Thus do men of vacant minds muse themselves with weaving the web of their desires, until they become extinct.

Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra

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On Detachment (pt.#4)

yoga-vasisthaDenunciation of the Body

This body of ours that struts about on earth is only a mass of humid entrails and tendons, tending to decay and disease, and to our torment alone. It is neither quiescent nor wholly sentient, neither ignorant nor quite intelligent. Its inherent soul is a wonder, and reason makes it graceful or otherwise. The skeptic is doubtful of its inertness and exercise of intellect, and unreasonable and ignorant people are ever subject to error and illusion. The body is as easily gratified with a little as it is exhausted in an instant.

Our bodies are like trees growing in the forest of the world, bearing the flowers of anxiety and perforated by the worms of sorrow and misery, ridden by the apish mind. The mind is the architect and master of this bodily dwelling, and our activities are its supports and servants.

I cannot like this body. It is like a pot of filth, full of the foulness of worldly affairs, and moldering under the rust of our ignorance. What is this body but a passage for the ceaseless inhaling and breathing out of the vital air? It is as unsteady as the ears of an enraged elephant, and as fickle as drops of water that trickle on their tips. I should like
therefore to abandon it before it comes to abandon me. It is as tremulous as the leaves of a tree shaken by a breeze, and oppressed by diseases and fluctuations of pleasure and pain. I have no relish in its pungency and bitterness.

Our bodies are as fleeting as the drops of a waterfall. They fall off in a few days like the withered leaves of trees. They are as quickly dissolved as bubbles in the ocean.

The bodies of the rich and the poor are alike subject to decay and death at their appointed times.

Our bodies float like heaps of wood on the waves of the world, finally serving as fuel for a funeral fire — except a few which pass for human bodies in the sight of the wise. The wise have little to do with this tree of the body, which is beset by evils like harmful orchids about it, and produces the fruit of perdition.

Those mistaken men who have a high sense of honor and fear dishonor, but who take pleasure in the excess of their gains, are truly killers of both of their bodies and souls. We are deceived by the delusion of ego, which like a female evil spirit lies hidden within the cavity of the body with all her sorcery. Unaided, our reason is kept in bondage by the malicious fiend of false knowledge, like a slave within the prison of our bodies. It is certain that whatever we see here is unreal, and yet it is a wonder that the mass of men are led to deception by the vile body, which has injured the cause of the soul.

The Vicissitudes of Time

By their much idle talk, ever doubting skepticism and schisms, men of little understandings are found to fall into grave errors in this pit of the world. Time is a rat that gnaws off the threads of all thoughts that men may entertain about the contemptible pleasures of this world.

Time as master of all, spares not even the greatest of us for a moment. He swallows the universe within himself, whence he is known as the Universal Soul.

Time pervades all things, but has no perceptible feature of his own, except that he is imperfectly known by the names of years, ages and millennia (kalpas). All that was fair and good and as great as Mount Meru has gone down into the womb of eternity, like snakes gorged by the greedy garuda.

Time, O sage, is the subtlest of all things. It is divided though indivisible. It is consumed though incombustible. It is perceived though imperceptible in its nature. Time, like the mind, is strong enough to create and demolish anything in a trice, and its province is equally extensive. Time is a whirlpool to men; and man being accompanied with desire, his insatiable and uncontrollable mistress, and delighting in illicit enjoyments, time makes him do and undo the same thing over and over again.

Time is the source of all malice and greed, and the spring of all misfortunes, and cause of the intolerable fluctuations of our states. As children play with balls in a playground, so does time play with his two balls of the sun and moon in his arena of the sky.

It is time that creates and dissolves the world, and appears to rise and fall with the rotation of days and nights. At end of the world, time plucks the gods and demigods from their great tree of existence like ripe fruit.

Time accompanied by action as his mate, entertains himself in the garden of the world, blossoming with the moonbeams of the Divine Spirit.

As the earth supports the great hills that are fixed upon it, so time supports all the innumerable ponderous worlds that constitute the universe. Hundreds of great kalpa ages may pass away, yet there is nothing that can move eternity to pity or concern, or stop or expedite his course. It neither sets nor rises.

As one ripens raw fruit in the sun and fire in order to devour them, so does time ripen men by their sun and fire worship, to bring them under his jaws at last.

After sporting for a kalpa period in the act of killing and crushing of all living beings, time comes to lose its own existence and becomes extinct in the eternity of the Spirit of spirits. After a short rest and respite, time reappears as the creator, preserver, and destroyer of all who remembers all. He shows the shapes of all things whether good or bad, keeping his own nature beyond the knowledge of all. Thus does time expand and preserve and finally dissolve all things by way of sport.

Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra

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On Detachment (pt.#3)

On the Mind

yoga-vasisthaThe mind can never get rid of its wavering state owing to its nature of habitual fickleness, resembling the restlessness of the sea. The mind with its natural fickleness and restless thoughts finds no repose at any place, like a lion in his cage.

It is more difficult to subdue the mind than to drink the ocean or upset Sumeru Mountain. It is harder than the hardest thing. The mind is the cause of all exertions, and the source of all that senses the three worlds — the physical world of desire (kama loka), the mental world of form (rupa loka), and the spiritual world without form (arupa loka). Alternatively, bhutakasha, element-space; chittakasha, mind-space; and chidakasha, consciousness-space.

Our pains and pleasures arise by the hundreds from the mind, like woods growing in groups upon a hill, but no sooner is the scythe of reason applied to them, than they fall off one by one. I am ready to subdue my mind, my greatest enemy in this world, for the purpose of mastering all the virtues, which the learned say depend upon it. My lack of desires has made me adverse to wealth and the gross pleasures it yields, which are like the tints of clouds tainting the moon.

On Greed

My mind is like a vast and lonesome wilderness, covered under the mist of errors, and infested by the terrible fiend of desire that is continually floundering about it.

Greed like a dark night terrifies even the wise, blindfolds the keen-sighted, and depresses the spirit of the happiest of men.

Our fleeting thoughts are as fickle as peacocks soaring over inaccessible heights under the clouds (of ignorance), but ceasing to fly in the daylight (of reason). Greed is like a river during the rains, rising for a time with its rolling waves, and afterwards lying low in its empty bed.

Our desires like great waves toss us about in the ocean of our earthly cares. They bind us fast to delusion like chains bind an elephant.

All our bodily troubles are avoided by abstaining from greed, just as we are freed from fear of night demons at the dispersion of darkness.

Greed is like the flame of a lamp which is bright but blackening and acutely burning at its end. Fed by the oily wicks, it is vivid but never handled by anybody.

Penury has the power of demeaning, in a moment, the best of men to the baseness of straw in spite of their wisdom, heroism and gravity in other respects. One single greed has everything in the world for its object, and though seated in the breast, it is imperceptible to all. It is like the undulating Milky Ocean in this fluctuating world, sweeping all things yet regaling mankind with its odorous waves.

Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra

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On Detachment (pt.#2)

 

yoga-vasisthaRama’s Discourse

What are worldly pleasures good for, and why do men multiply on earth? Men are born to die, and they die to be born again. There is no stability in the tendencies of beings whether movable or immovable. They all tend to vice, decay and danger, and all our possessions become the grounds of our poverty.

On Wealth

A rich man without blemish, a brave man devoid of vanity, and a master lacking partiality are the three rarities on earth.

Riches, like the shadow of night, overcast the good qualities of men, and like moonlight, bring to bloom the buds of their misery. Like a hurricane, they blow away the brightness of a fair prospect.

Fortune is a frost to those who are bound to asceticism, and is like the night to the owls of libertinism. She is an eclipse to the moonlight of reason, and like moonbeams to the bloom of the lilies of folly. She is as transitory as the rainbow, and as pleasant to see by the play of her colors. She is as fickle as lightening which vanishes as quickly as it appears. Hence none but the ignorant have reliance on her.

It is pity that prosperity is like a shameless wench who will again lay hold of a man who has abandoned her for her rival poverty.

On Human Life

It is as impossible to confine the winds or tear the sky to pieces or wreathe waves into a garland as it is to place any reliance upon our lives. Fast as the fleeting clouds in autumn, and short as the light of lamp without oil, our lives appear to pass away as impermanent as rolling waves in the sea. Men of restless minds, desiring to prolong their useless and toilsome lives, resemble the barren she-mule conceived by a horse.

This world (samsara) is as a whirlpool in the ocean of creation, and every individual body is as impermanent as foam, froth or a bubble, which can give me no relish in this life. True living is gain which is worth gaining, which has no cause of sorrow or remorse, and which is a state of transcendental tranquility. There is a vegetable life in plants, and an animal life in beasts and birds. Man leads a thinking life, but true life is above thoughts. All those living beings who being born here once do not return are said to have lived well in this earth. The rest are no better than old asses.

Knowledge is a burden to the unthinking, and wisdom is burdensome to the passionate. Intellect is a heavy load to the restless, and the body is a ponderous burden to one ignorant of his soul. A good person possessed of life, mind, intellect and self-consciousness and its occupations, is of no benefit to the unwise, but seem to weigh down on the unwise as if he were a porter. The discontented mind is the great arena of all evils, and the nesting place of diseases which alight upon it like birds of the air. Such a life is the abode of toil and misery.

As a house is slowly dilapidated by the mice continually burrowing under it, so is the body of the living gradually corroded by the teeth of time boring within it.

Death, the lover of destruction and friend of old age and ruin, likes the sensual man, as a lecher likes a beauty.

On Ego

Egoism springs from false conceit fostered by vanity. I am much afraid of this enemy, baneful egotism. All men in this diversified world, even the very poorest of them, fall into the dungeon of evils and misdeeds under the influence of ego. All accidents, anxieties, troubles and wicked exertions proceed from ego and self-confidence. Hence I deem ego to be like a disease.

This world resembles a long continuous night in which our ego, like a hunter, spreads the snare of affections. All our great and intolerable miseries, growing as rank as thorny acacia plants, are only the results of our ego. It overcasts the equanimity of mind like an eclipse shadows the moon. It destroys our virtues like frost destroys lotus flowers. It dispels the peace of men as autumn drives away the clouds. Therefore, I must get rid of this egoistic feeling.

Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra

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On Detachment (pt.#1)

Liberation

yoga-vasisthaOm, salutation to that Reality from whom all beings proceed, by whom they are manifest, upon whom they depend, and in whom they become extinct. He is the knower, the knowledge and all that is to be known. He is the seer, the act of seeing, and all that is to be seen. He is the actor, the cause and the effect, therefore salutation to He who is all knowledge himself.

One Sutikshna, a brahmin whose mind was full of questions, went to the hermitage of Agastya and respectfully asked the sage,  “O great sage! Tell me, in your opinion, whether liberation results from a man’s acts or his knowledge or both?”
Agastya replied: — As the birds fly in the air with both wings, so the highest state of emancipation is attained through both knowledge and acts. Neither our acts nor knowledge alone produces liberation, but both together are the means.

But it is neither by acts or riches, nor by means of children that one obtains his liberation. It is solely by self-denial that the great souls taste the ambrosia (of emancipation).

One fallen in this boundless ocean of the world may enjoy the bliss of liberation by the magnanimity of his soul. He shall not come across grief or destitution, but shall remain ever satisfied by being freed from the fever of anxiety.

In heaven there is ample reward for merit, conferring perfect bliss (to all); but it is the degree of merit that leads one to higher heavens. By moderate virtue, one is certainly entitled to a middle station. Virtue of an inferior order leads a person to a lower position. But one’s virtue is destroyed by impatience at the excellence of his betters, by haughtiness to his equals, and by joy at the inferiority of others. When one’s virtue is thus destroyed, he must enter the abode of mortals. These and the like are the effects of good and evil in heaven.

Know that the things seen in this world are deceiving, even as the blueness of the sky is an optical illusion. Therefore it is better to efface them in oblivion rather than to keep their memory. All visible objects have no actual existence. We have no idea of them except through sensation.

The conviction that the objects we see do not exist of themselves leads to the removal of their impressions from the mind. Thus perfected, supreme and eternal bliss of self-extinction springs in the mind. Otherwise, there is no peace to be had for men like you, rolling in the depths of studies for thousands of years and unacquainted with true knowledge.

Complete abandonment of desires (vasana, mental conditioning) is called the best state of liberation (moksha) and is the only pure step towards happiness. The absence of desires leads to the extinction of mental actions, in the same manner as the absence of cold melts small particles of ice. Our desires uphold our living bodies and bind us tightly to our bodily prison like ropes. These being loosened, the inner soul is liberated.

Mental conditioning is of two kinds: pure and impure. The impure ones cause reincarnation, while the pure ones serve to destroy it. An impure desire is like a mist of ignorance, the stubborn feeling that one is the individual ego. The wise say that individual ego is the cause of rebirth. A pure desire is like a parched seed that is incapable of bringing forth the germ of rebirth. It only supports the present body. Pure desires, unattended with rebirth, reside in the bodies of men who are living liberated.

Even the smallest service, if done in good time, appears to be much, and the best service is of no avail if done out of season.

Afterwards King Dasharata asked Vasishta, the best of speakers and well informed in all matters, as to why Rama was so sorrowful. Sage Vasishta thought over the matter and said, “There is, O king, a cause for Rama’s sadness, but you need not be anxious about it. Wise men never entertain the fluctuations of anger or grief, or a lengthened delight from frivolous causes, just as the great elements of the world do not change their states unless it were for the sake of some new production.”

Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra