"For, not until the supreme being is realised will the dreadful miseries of birth and death come to an end."
"Fate or divine dispensation is merely a convention which has come to be
regarded as truth by being repeatedly declared to be true. If this god or fate
is truly the ordainer of everything in this world, of what meaning is any action
(even like bathing, speaking or giving), and whom should one teach at all? No.
In this world, except a corpse, everything is active and such activity yields
its appropriate result. No one has ever realised the existence of a fate or
divine dispensation. People use such expressions as"I am impelled by fate or
divine dispensation to do this"for self-satisfaction, but this is not true. For
example, if an astrologer predicts that a young man would become a great
scholar, does that young man become a scholar without study? No. Then, why do we
believe in divine dispensation? Rama, this sage Visvamitra became a Brahma-Rsi
by self-effort; all of us have attained self-knowledge by self-effort alone.
Hence, renounce fatalism and apply yourself to self-effort.
The cosmic order that people refer to as fate, daivam or niyati and which ensures that every effort is blessed with appropriate fruition is based on omnipresent and omnipotent omniscience [known as Brahman]. By self-effort, therefore, restrain the senses and the mind; with a mind that is one pointed calmly listen to what I am going to say.
This narrative deals with liberation. Listening to it with other wise seekers who are assembled here, you will realise that supreme being where there is no sorrow nor destruction. This was revealed to me by the creator Brahma himself in a previous age.
O Rama, the omnipresent omniscience (the cosmic being) shines eternally in all beings. When a vibration arises in that cosmic being, lord Visnu is born, even as a wave arises when the surface of the ocean is agitated. From that Visnu, Brahma the creator was born. Brahma began to create the countless varieties of animate and inanimate, sentient and insentient beings in the universe. And the universe was as it was before the cosmic dissolution.
The Creator saw that all living beings in the universe were subject to disease, death, pain and suffering. In his heart there rose compassion and he sought to lay down a path that might lead beings away from all this. He thereupon instituted centers of pilgrimage and noble virtues like austerity, charity, truthfulness and righteous conduct. But these were inadequate; they could bestow only temporary relief from suffering, and not final liberation from sorrow.
Reflecting thus, the Creator brought me into being. He drew me to himself and drew the veil of ignorance over my heart. Instantly I forgot my identity and my self-nature. I was miserable. I begged of Brahma the creator, my own father, to show me the way out of this misery. Sunk in my misery, I was unable and unwilling to do anything, and I remained lazy and inactive.
In response to my prayer, my father revealed to me the true knowledge which instantly dispelled the veil of ignorance that he himself had spread over me. The Creator then said to me: "My son, I veiled the knowledge and revealed it to you so that you may experience its glory, for only then will you be able to understand the travail of ignorant beings and to help them."Rama, equipped with this knowledge, I am here and I will continue to be here till the end of creation.
Even so, in every age the Creator wills into being several sages and myself for the spiritual enlightenment of all. And, in order to ensure the due performance of the secular duties by all, Brahma also creates kings who rule justly and wisely over parts of the earth. These kings, however, are soon corrupted by lust for power and pleasure; conflict of interests leads to wars among them which in turn give rise to remorse. To remove their ignorance, the sages used to impart spiritual wisdom to them. In days of yore, O Rama, kings used to receive this wisdom and cherish it; hence it was known as Raja Vidya (Kingly Science).
The highest from of dispassion born of pure discrimination has arisen in your heart, O Rama, and it is superior to dispassion born of a circumstantial cause or an utter disgust. Such dispassion is surely due to the grace of God. This grace meets the maturity of discrimination at the exact moment when dispassion is generated in the heart.
As long as the highest wisdom does not dawn in the heart, the person revolves in this wheel of birth and death. Pray, listen to my exposition of this wisdom with a concentrated mind.
This wisdom destroys the forest of ignorance. Roaming in this forest one undergoes confusion and seemingly interminable suffering. One should therefore approach an enlightened teacher and by asking the right question with the right attitude, elicit the teaching. It then becomes an integral part of one's being. The fool asks irrelevant questions irreverently; and the greater fool is he who spurns the sage's wisdom. He is surely not a sage who responds to the vain questions of a foolish questioner.
O Rama, you are indeed the best among all seekers, for you have duly reflected over the truth, and you are inspired by the best form of dispassion. And I am sure that what I am going to say to you will find a firm seat in your heart. Indeed, one should positively strive to enthrone wisdom in one's heart, for the mind is unsteady like a monkey. And one should then avoid unwise company.
Rama there are four gate-keepers at the entrance to the Realm of Freedom (Moksha). They are self-control, spirit of enquiry, contentment and good company. The wise seeker should diligently cultivate the friendship of these, or at least one of them.
With a pure heart and a receptive mind, and without the veil of doubt and the restlessness of the mind, listen to the exposition of the nature and the means of liberation, O Rama. For, not until the supreme being is realised will the dreadful miseries of birth and death come to an end. If this deadly serpent known as ignorant life is not overcome here and now, it gives rise to interminable suffering not only in this, but in countless lifetimes to come. One cannot ignore this suffering, but one should overcome it by means of the wisdom that I shall impart to you."
Swami Venkatesananda, The Concise Yoga Vasistha
State University of New York Press (October 1984), pp. 29-31
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