Our minds are partly settled on worldly things and partly fixed on their Giver. This divided state of the mind is called its half-waking condition. My mind is in a state of suspense, being unable to ascertain the real nature of my soul. I am like one in the dark who sees a tree stump in the distance and is deceived to think it a human figure. Our minds are naturally fickle and wandering all about the earth. They cannot forsake their restlessness, as the vital airs cannot exist without being in motion.
How is it possible for someone engaged in worldly affairs to be untainted with its blemishes and remain as pure and intact as a drop of water on a lotus leaf? How can one attain excellence by dealing with others as with himself, and regarding others’ property to be like straw, and remaining aloof from love?
Who is that great man that has crossed the great ocean of the world, whose exemplary conduct exempts one from misery? What is the best of things that ought to be pursued, and what fruit is worth obtaining? Which is the best course of life in this inconsistent world?
What can we do under the misty cloud of errors that raise our tempestuous desires flashing forth in lightning bolts of ambition and bursting out in the thunder claps of selfishness? How shall we save ourselves from the temptations of our desires that dance around us like peacocks? How shall we save ourselves from the bustle of the world that breaks in on us as thickly as the blossoms of the kurchi plant?
How the mist of our desires, which darkens the moon of our intellects, is to be dispelled from our minds to make it shine forth in its full brightness. How are we to deal with this wilderness of the world, knowing well that it is destructive both of our present and future interests? Who is there who moves about in this ocean of the earth and who is not buffeted by the waves of his passions and diseases, and by the currents of his enjoyments and prosperity?
How can one be rid of the world when it is impossible for him to avoid dealing with it, in the same manner as it is impossible for aquatic animals to live without their native element? Even our good deeds are not without affection and hatred, pleasure and pain, just like no flame is unaccompanied by its power of burning.
Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra