Extracts from Vasistha's Yoga

''The world-appearance is a confusion: even the blueness of the sky is an optical illusion.

I think it is better not to let the mind dwell on it, but to ignore it.''

~ Vasistha's Yoga

The above verse is said to be the central teaching of Vasistha's Yoga. It is a very long, lyrical and important spiritual text, written by Valmiki, and it covers the most important ideas of Advaita. It also resembles Kashmiri Shaivasm, Jainism, Buddhism. It is a universal text really, explaining the path to liberation. It uses many stories and allegories, but is also quite clear about the fundamentals. It has been called the ''most wonderful book in the world.'' In this post I will be adding chronological extracts and summaries of passages from the book.

The setting is a palace in ancient India. Rama is the young god-king. He has just returned from a long pilgrimage around India, and after some time he becomes despondent, pale and emaciated. He withdraws from the pleasures of his priviliged life. His father is troubled by this unaccountable change and invites the great sage Vasistha to come and find out what troubles his son, and what he can do about it

''Vasistha demands direct observation of the mind, its motion, its notions, its reasoning, the assumed cause and the projected result, and even the observed and the observation ~ and the realisation of their indivisible unity as infinite consciousness.''

(From The Introduction to Vasistha's Yoga)

The first part of Vasistha's Yoga includes Rama's very vivid description of his dejection.

''Again and again he sings to himself, ''Alas! we are dissipating our lives in various ways, instead of striving to reach the supreme!''

Rama comes in to the central room of the palace and explains to Vasistha what is bothering him.....

''I grew up happily....I was instructed by worthy teachers...I went on apilgrimage....During this time, my heart begins to question ''What do people call happiness and can it be had in the ever-changing objects of this world?''

''Unrelated objects come together and the mind conjures up a relationship between them. Everything in this world is dependent upon the mind....(but) ...on examination the mind itself appears unreal!...We live a life of slavery...Ignorant of the truth we have been wandering in this dense forest called the world. What is this world? What comes into being, grows and dies?''

Rama then goes through a litany of his observations on the changing phenomena of existence and the impossibility for gaining happiness from such ephemeral things.

Wealth he says..

''Gives birth to numerous worries and the insatiable craving for more..''

The lifespan is so short, says Rama...

'It's duration is like that of a water droplet on a leaf. The lifespan is fruitful only to those who have self-knowledge....others exist here like donkeys.''

Rama says that persistent egotism makes him bewildered...

''It (egotism) generates endless sinful tendencies...all suffering revolves around egotism. Egotism eclipses self-control, destroys virtue and dissipates equanimity...When I am under the influence of egotism I am unhappy, when I am free from egotism I am happy.''

Rama speaks of the eternally restless mind, which is always dissatisfied....

''The mind flits in all directions at once but is unable to find happiness anywhere...I am bound by the knots of craving to the net that has been spread in my mind...Craving in its different forms dances like a goblin.

The characteristic of this craving is that it has no direction: it drives me in one direction now and the very next moment it takes me away in another direction, like a mad horse.

In the mind the light of wisdom momentarily shines, but there is delusion the next moment.''

Rama talks then about the impermanent body and the suffering inherent in that impermanence...

''The tree which is the body is born in the forest of samsara (repetitive existence)

The restless monkey (mind) plays on it,

It is the abode of crickets (worries),

It shelters the venomous serpent (of endless craving),

It is constantly eaten by the insects (endless suffering),

and the wild crow (of anger) dwells on it.''

Rama says that even though childhood is said to be a time of happiness and peace, that he does not agree....

''Helplessness, mishaps, cravings, inability to express oneself...the child is exposed to countless happenings around it: they puzzle the child, confuse the child and arouse...fantasies and fears.''

Thereafter Rama says the Human being is thrust into Youth, when they become helplessly subjected to lust and desire...

''His heart is full of desire and anxiety...In Youth, the man is tempted by the mirage of happiness and in its pursuit he falls into the well of sorrow...(he is) a slave of sexual attraction..(though)...very soon the very flesh that contributed to the attractiveness transforms into the shriveled ugliness of old age.''

Rama says then that old-age completes the suffering, before death consumes the body. 

Essentially Rama describes Time, of which he says ...

''Time alone creates innumerable Universes, and in a very short time Time destroys everything. Time is merciless...greedy...insatiable.

Time uses the two balls known as the sun and the moon for his pastime.''

So, Rama has set forth his judgement of the nature of existence (which is undeniably true). He calls out to Vasistha the sage...

''O Holy One! Whatever appears to be permanent or transient in this world ~ it is all like a dream....The perception of the world has destroyed the ...desire for sense pleasures (in my mind)...Instruct me in such a way that I may be forever free from...distress...

I have given up everything but I have not established myself in wisdom; hence I am partly caught and partly freed.''

The above is a lovely passage which describes the soul which has made considerable self-effort to enquire, and has attained some measure of dispassion, but has not as yet attained full liberation. The whole of the text that follows is Vasistha's teachings to establish the full liberation in the god Rama. The whole court and many beyond gathered to hear the debate.

To be continued.........

You seem to have problems only because you are misusing time. You believe that the problem comes first, and that time must elapse before it can be worked out, but do not see the problem and the answer as simultaneous in their occurrence at the quantum mechanics level --Bashar (art;bryan.olson)

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  • The phenomena of life can be compared to a dream, a ghost, an air bubble, a shadow, glittering dew, the flash of lightning – and must be contemplated as such. ~ Buddha


    So, Rama has outlined the contemplation many who enquire into the nature of life have found themselves pondering. And freely admitted his distress. He is told that what he perceives is true, but that what he is in need of is having his knowledge confirmed.


    This sometimes happens. The seeker arrives at a revelation but because the truth of it is not yet confirmed to them by those they consider to be wise they do not quite believe themselves. The book tells the story of Suka, who likewise had arrived at dispassion, but who needed the wise king Janaka to confirm his insight before he could become established in peace.


    Vasistha speaks to him of the countless universes, and of how the living beings attain embodiment in some Universes where they are wise and at peace, and likewise in Universes where they are not yet liberated.


    Vaisistha counsels Rama….

    ''In this world, whatever is gained is only gained by self-effort;..what is called fate is fictitious…''

    ''Fate is none other than self-effort of a past incarnation.''

    ''When there is obstruction in the fruition of self effort one should examine it to see if (it) is deluded action, and if there is it should be immediately corrected.''

    ''One should never yield to laziness but strive to attain liberation, seeing that life is ebbing away every moment.''


    ''The present is infinitely more potent than the past..If you see that present self-effort is sometimes thwarted by fate (the effects of past self-effort) you should understand that the present self-effort is weak…It is ignorance to attribute (the happenings in one's life) to an outside agency…''

    ''Renounce fatalism and apply yourself to self-effort.''

    Vasistha then describes how Rama should pursue self-effort after having read the counsel of the wise ones who have gone before, studied the behaviour of wise people, and after realising why one should pursue the path to the eternal good.

    Vasistha also discusses the latent tendencies of the mind and body which give rise to habitual actions. These latent tendencies arrive from past lives too. But we are not slaves to these latent tendencies either…..


    ''The tendencies brought forward from past incarnations are of two kinds ~ pure and impure. The pure ones lead you to liberation and the impure ones invite trouble. (But) you are not inert physical matter. (You are consciousness). Hence you are free to strengthen the pure latent tendencies in preference to the impure ones. The impure ones have to be abandoned gradually…lest there should be violent reaction.''


    Vasistha says that by gradual disuse the impure latent tendencies will naturally and in time fall away and the pure tendencies become habitual. But in the end attachment even to these so-called pure tendencies will have to be overcome.

    But not at first.


    Vasistha makes an important point about the kind of dispassion Rama has experienced….

    ''The highest form of dispassion, O Rama, born of pure discrimination has arisen in your heart, and it is superior to discrimination arising from a circumstantial cause or an utter disgust.''


    He then goes on to prescribe the four gate-keepers at the ''entrance to the Realm of Freedom''. These are the important practical steps we can all gradually evolve in our lives….


    ''They are self-control, spirit of (self) enquiry, contentment (with what is), and good company.''


    ''When delusion is gone and the truth is realised by means of enquiry into self-nature, when the mind is at peace…when all the disturbing thought waves in the mind-stuff have subsided….and the heart is filled with the bliss of the absolute…then this very world becomes an abode of bliss.''

    ''He alone is the best among men whose mind rests in the eternal…He sees that pleasure and pain chase each other and cancel each other, and in that wisdom there is self-control and peace…He who  does not see this sleeps in a burning house.''

    ''One may doubt whether such unchanging truth exists! If it does not, one (still) comes to no harm by enquiring into the nature of life, for seeking the eternal will soften the pain caused by the changes in life…The eternal is to be attained only by the conquest of one's mind and the cultivation of wisdom.''

    To be continued regarding the four gate keepers….

    Blue water drop.... #water #droplets #photography






  • thought

    The Four Gate-Keepers...

    Vasistha described to Rama the qualities of the first gate-keeper, self-control.

    ''The eternal is not attained by rites and rituals…only by the conquest of one's mind, by the cultivation of wisdom.

    When  the mind is at peace, pure, tranquil, free from delusion or hallucination, untangled and free from cravings, it does not long for anything nor does it reject anything. This is self-control….

    Self-control is the best remedy for all physical and mental ills…He who even while hearing, touching, seeing, smelling and tasting what is regarded as pleasant or unpleasant, is neither elated nor depressed ~ he is self-controlled. He who looks upon all beings with equal vision, having brought under control the sensations of pain and pleasure, he is self-controlled. He who, though living amongst all is unaffected by them, neither feels elated nor hates, even as one is during sleep ~ he is self-controlled.''


    Vasistha continued to speak to Rama of the second gate-keeper, self enquiry.

    ''Enquiry should be undertaken by an intelligence purified by a close study of the scripture, and this enquiry should be unbroken….The spirit of enquiry protects one from the calamities that befall the unthinking fool….The mind (is) rendered dull by the absence of enquiry. It is the absence of enquiry that gives rise to actions that are harmful to oneself and others and to numerous psychosomatic illnesses….one should avoid the company of unthinking people.

    They in whom the spirit of enquiry is ever awake illumine the world, enlighten all who come into contact with them…in the light of enquiry there is the realisation of the…. unchanging reality.

    …He is not inactive nor does he get drowned in action; he lives and functions in this world…

    The eye of spiritual enquiry does not lose its sight even in the midst of all activities..

    What is enquiry? To enquire thus : '' Who am I? How did this repetitive history (samsara) come into being?'' is true enquiry.

    Knowledge of truth arises from such enquiry…there follows tranquility in oneself…and ..the supreme peace that passeth understanding.''


    Vasistha continues on then to the third gate-keeper which is Contentment (the lovely word santosha in Sanskrit)


    ''What is contentment? To renounce all craving for what is not obtained unsought, and to be satisfied with what comes unsought, without being elated or depressed..this is Contentment. As long as one is not satisfied in the self, he will be subjected to sorrow….

    The contented man who possesses nothing owns the world.''


    And finally Vasistha speaks of the fourth gate-keeper, which is Satsang, or keeping company with the wise. We can do this in person or via book and teachings, recordings and so on.


    ''Company of the wise, holy and enlightened persons…enlarges ones intelligence, destroys one's ignorance and one's psychological distress. ..Satsang alone is one's light on the path of life. …whatever obstacles may stand in its way, satsang should never be neglected.''


    Vasistha says these are the four surest ways to self realisation.


    ''If you are unable to resort to all these four, then practise one. By diligent practise of one of these, the others will be found in you. Until you tame the wild elephant of the mind with the help of these noble qualities, you cannot have progress towards the supreme (even if you become a god…)''

    Oftentimes we call Life bitter names, but only when we ourselves are bitter and dark. And we deem her empty and unprofitable, but only when the soul goes wandering in desolate places, and the heart is drunken with over mindfulness of self. - Kahlil Gibran | | Art ~ MachiavelliCro

  • Dreamflyer-Eric Nez

    The Lamp of Wisdom

    To all who long and strive to realize the Self,
    Illumination comes to them in this very life.
    This divine awareness never leaves them,
    And they work unceasingly for the good of all.
    When the lamp of wisdom is lit within,
    Their face shines, whether life brings weal or woe.
    Even in deep sleep they are aware of the Self,
    For their mind is freed from all conditioning.
    Inwardly they are pure like the cloudless sky,
    But they act as if they too were like us all.
    Free from self–will, with detached intellect,
    They are aware of the Self even with their hands at work.
    Neither afraid of the world, nor making the world afraid,
    They are free from greed, anger, and fear.
    When the waves of self–will subside
    Into the sea of peace that is the Self,
    The mind becomes still, the heart pure,
    And illumination comes to us in this very life.
    When this supreme state is attained,
    They neither rise nor fall, change nor die.
    Words cannot describe the supreme state
    For it is fuller than fullness can be.

    (Extract from Yoga Vasistha)

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