He who, while living an apparently normal life, experiences the whole world as an emptiness, is a jivanmukta.
Lord, what are the characteristics of Jivanmukta (liberated while living) and Videhamukta (liberated ones who have no body)?
He who, while living an apparently normal life, experiences the whole world as an emptiness, is a jivanmukta. He is awake but enjoys the calmness of deep sleep; he is unaffected in the least by pleasure and pain. He is awake in deep sleep, but he is never awake to the world. His wisdom is unclouded by latent tendencies. He appears to be subject to likes, dislikes and fear, but in fact he is as free as space. He is free from egotism and volition; and his intelligence is unattached whether in action or in inaction. None is afraid of him; he is afraid of none. He becomes a Videhamukta when, in due time, the body is dropped.
The Videhamukta is, yet is not; is neithet 'I' nor the 'other'. He is the sun that shines, Visnu that protects all, Rudra that destroys all, Brahma that creates. He is space, the earth, water and fire. He is in fact cosmic consciousness—that which is the very essence in all beings. All that which is in the past, present, and future—al indeed is he and he alone.
Lord, my perception is distorted: how can I attain to that state you have indicated?
What is known as liberation, O Rama, is indeed the absolute itself, which alone is. That which is perceived here as 'I', 'you' etc., only seems to be, for it has never been created. How can we say that that Brahman has become all these worlds?
O Rama, in ornaments I see only gold, in waves I see only water, in air I see only movement, in space I see only emptiness, in mirage I see only heat, and naught else; similarly, I see only Brahman the absolute, not the worlds.
The perception of 'the worlds' is beginningless ignorance. Yet it will vanish with the help of inquiry into truth. Only that ceases to be which has come into being. This world has never really come into being, yet it appears to be—the exposition of this truth is contained in this chapter on creation.
When the previous cosmic dissolution took place, all that appeared to be before disappeared. Then the infinite alone remained. It was neither emptiness nor a form, neither sight nor the seen, and one could not say that it was, nor that it was not. It has no ears, no eyes, no tongue, and yet it hears, sees and eats. It is uncaused and uncreated, and it is the cause of everything, as water is the cause of waves. This infinite and eternal light is in the heart of all: in its light the three worlds shine, as a mirage.
When the infinite vibrates, the worlds appear to emerge. When it does not vibrate, the worlds appear to submerge, even as when a firebrand is whirled fast a fiery circle appears. And when it is held steady, the circle vanishes. Vibrating or not vibrating, it is the same everywhere at all times. Not realising it, one is subject to delusion; when it is realised all cravings and anxieties vanish.
From it is time; from it is perception of the perceivable object. Action, form, taste, smell, sound, touch and thinking—all that you know is it alone; and it is that by which you know all this! It is in the seer, sight and seen as the very seeing; when you know it, you realise your self.
Holy sir, how can it be said to be not empty, not to be illuminated and not dark? By such contradictory expressions you confuse me!
Rama, you are asking immature questions, yet I shall elucidate the correct meaning.
Even as the uncarved image is forever present in a block, the world whether you regard it as real or unreal is inherent in the absolute, which is therefore not void. Just as one cannot say that there are no waves present in a calm ocean, the absolute is not empty of the world. Of course, these illustrations have limited application and should not be exceeded.
In truth, however, this world does not arise from the absolute nor does it merge in it. The absolute alone exists now and for ever. When one thinks of it as a void, it is because of the feeling one has that it is not void; when one thinks of it as not-void, it is because there is a feeling that it is void.
The absolute is immaterial and so material sources of light like the sun do not illumine it. But it is self-luminous, and therefore it is not inert nor dark. This absolute cannot be realised or experienced by another; only the absolute can realise itself.
The infinite (space of) consciousness is even purer than infinite space; and the world is even as that infinite is. But, one who has not tasted capsicum does not know its taste. Even so, one does not experience consciousness in the infinite in the absence of objectivity. Hence, even this consciousness appears to be inert or insentient, and the world is experienced as such, too. Even as in tangible ocean tangible waves are seen, in the formless Brahman the world also exists without form. From the infinite the infinite emerges and exists in it as the infinite; hence the world has never really been created—it is the same as that from which it emerges.
When the notion of self is destroyed by the withdrawal of the fuel of ideas from the mind, that which is, is the infinite. That which is not sleep nor inert, is the infinite. It is on account of the infinite that knowledge, knower and known exist as one, in the absence of the intellect.
Swami Venkatesananda, The Concise Yoga Vasistha
State University of New York Press (October 1984) pp. 43-46
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