This supreme self cannot be realised, O Rama, by means other than wisdom - not indeed by exerting oneself in religious practices.
O Holy sage! Pray, tell me what the mind really is.
Even as empty, inert nothingness is known as space, mind is empty nothingness.
Whether the mind is real or unreal, it is that which is apprehended in objects of perception.
Rama, thought is mind, there is no distinction between the two. The self that is clothed in the spiritual body is known as mind; it is that which brings the material or physical body into existence. Ignorance, samsara (repetitive history), mind-stuff, bondage, impurity, darkness and inertia are all synonyms. Experience alone is the mind; it is none other than the perceived.
This entire universe is forever non-different from the consciousness that dwells in every atom, even as an ornament is non-different from gold. Just as an ornament potentially exists in gold, the object exists in the subject. But when this notion of the object is firmly rejected and removed from the subject, then consciousness alone exists without even an apparent or potential objectivity. When this is realised, evils like attraction and repulsion, love and hate, cease in one's heart, as also the false notions of the world, you, I, etc. Even the tendency to objectify ceases; this is freedom.
Holy sir, if the object of perception is real, then it shall not cease to be. If it is unreal, then we do not see it as unreal; so how can we overcome this?
Yet, O Rama, we see that there are holy ones who have overcome this! External objects like space,etc., and psychological factors like"I"etc., exist only in name. In reality neither the objective universe, nor the perceiving self, nor perception as such, nor void, nor inertness exists; only one is, cosmic consciousness (cit). In this it is the mind that conjures up the diversity, diverse actions and experiences, the notion of bondage and the desire for liberation.
O Holy sage! What is the source of this mind and how did it arise? Kindly enlighten me on these.
After the cosmic dissolution and before the next epoch dawned, the entire objective universe was in a state of perfect equilibrium. There then existed the supreme Lord, the eternal, unborn, self-effulgent, who is the all and who is omnipotent. He is beyond conception and description; though he is known by various names like Atma etc., these are viewpoints and not the truth. He is, yet he is not realised by the world; he is within the body, too, yet he is far. From him emerge countless divinities like lord Visnu, even as countless rays emerge from the sun; from him emerge infinite worlds as ripples arise from the surface of the ocean.
He is the cosmic intelligence into which countless objects of perception enter. He is the light in which the self and the world shine. He ordains the characteristic nature of every created thing. In him the worlds appear and disappear, even as a mirage appears and disappears repeatedly. His form (the world) vanishes, but his self is unchanging. He dwells in all. He is hidden and he overflows. By his mere presence, this apparently inert material world and its inhabitants are ever active. Because of his omnipresent omnipotent omniscience, his very thoughts materialise.
This supreme self cannot be realised, O Rama, by means other than wisdom— not indeed by exerting oneself in religious practices. This self is neither far nor near; it is not inaccessible nor is it in distant places: it is what in oneself appears to be the experience of bliss, and is therefore realised in oneself.
Austerity or penance, charity and the observances of religious vows do not lead to the realisation of the Lord; only the company of holy men and the study of true scriptures are helpful, as they dispel ignorance and delusion. [Only] when one is convinced that this self alone is real, one goes beyond sorrow, on the path of liberation.
Austerity or penance is self-inflicted pain. Of what value is charity performed with wealth earned by deceiving others — only they derive the fruits of such charity! Religious observances add to one's vanity. There is only one remedy for ignorance of the Lord — the firm and decisive renunciation of craving for sense-pleasure.
Swami Venkatesananda, The Concise Yoga Vasistha
State University of New York Press (October 1984), pp. 41-43
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