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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