1. Yoga Vashisht, Sri Ram, the Truth Seeker
Ram who had acquired a great deal of knowledge, asked his father if he might make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land known as the Sacred Ashrams (Hermitages). His father granted him this wish. When he returned some time later, there was a decided change in his mood. It had been his custom to rise early in the morning and follow the daily ceremonies of his religion, but now instead of practicing his usual habits of worship, he sat in the Padma posture and assumed an indifferent attitude to all things.
Raja Rishi Viswamitra arrived at the King's palace (Ram's father's place). The King saluted the Raja Rishi and paid him great respect. He then bestowed greater marks of honor upon him, by saying: "By thy visit all my sins, misery and unhappiness have been removed. Tell me, what is thy need?"
Therefore, Raja Rishi said: "O King of Kings, true to your Master, Rishi Vashisht, an embodiment (in the cause) of justice, I came seeking the services of your son, Ram. I cannot bear the injustice forced upon me by the Rakshasan, for they do not permit me to do any good work."
The King answered him thus: "My son is indeed very young and is not trained in the art of fighting. He does not seem to be himself at this time and has become indifferent to the world. Life would become bitter and unhappy, to me and my family, should anything happen to my son, Ram. Therefore, in his stead, I will go with thee, and with my army I shall meet the Rakshasan in battle."
Raja Rishi Viswamitra with great anger said: "Tell me truthfully and without faltering, if you, the King, will perform such beastly acts of deception, who will keep his word? I shall go back from where I came to endure (or submit to) the injustice of the Rakshasan. You may live happily with your son and others."
The Rishi Vashisht said: "O King of Kings, keep thy word, for thy sacred duty is to protect thy subjects, and let there be no injustice at any price. Thy son will be safe with the Rishi Viswamitra. Thy son is impassive and unconcerned toward worldly things, and his association with this Great Raja Rishi will be a great enlightenment to him. Send him forth and do not reveal the knowledge of his departure to his brothers. His indifferent state of mind, toward the world and life, is not the result of disappointment in his desires, but is a longing for liberation, which is a stepping-stone toward self-realization. When all the delusions have been removed from his mind, he will attain the highest Brahmic state and will then perform his daily duties, as we are now doing."
Ram came and paid his respect to all. Although his father, the King, tried to persuade him to sit on the throne with him, he refused and sat quietly among the crowd.
Raja Rishi Viswamitra then said to Ram: "O Brave Enemy of Sensual Objects, why art thou drowning thyself in the Ocean of Delusion, which is only fit for the Ajnani (ignorant)? If thou wilt tell us the cause of thy suffering, then thou shalt be relieved of it; thou wilt then be able to attain that for which thou art longing. Therefore, I beseech thee to speak to us the truth."
Ram answered: "O Great Rishi, embodiment of Grace, thou hast allowed me to tell the cause of my suffering, and I beseech thee to please listen to my story. I was born in my father's home (the King's palace), studied and attained an education and gained much knowledge. I have journeyed around the earth visiting all Holy and Sacred places. When I returned from this pilgrimage, I found that my desires for this Universe had ceased; that life was full of delusion, without an iota of bliss within it. This world is illusion from birth to death, and from death to birth. The worldly things are nothing except seeds of all unhappiness (pains). What is wealth or a kingdom? If we are seeking happiness, we find all unreal except Atma. When I try to learn what generates all worldly things, then I have no love for any of it. It is like the traveler who, when he has learned of the unreality of the wave of the mirage in the desert, does not crave it. I am trying to set myself free of the sensual fire, but I am burning within like the old tree which has burned within by heat generated by itself. The load of delusion is pressing me down. I cannot bear it longer. I have tried to please my relatives, that they may not condemn me for my grief, but I cannot find a way out of it, though I have cried from the house-top.
"Wealth causes the mind of men to roam—seeking joy but bringing dangers. I have not seen anyone whose mind does not melt like snow, at the sight of wealth. This wealth not only destroys peace and joy which arises from the spiritual wisdom, but it also produces hate, dishonesty, envy, jealousy and the like. All people, whether rich or poor, wise or foolish, peaceful or warlike, bow down to the degrading wealth. It causes people to be unjust, although it is useless as a flower under the hood of a Cobra.
"The Prana (vital force) is like water pouring from a jar: it is going out of the body with the five senses; it is cutting short the lives of the ignorant. I am not enjoying this life of mine as my body is unreal. It is easy to control the ether, the winds, the waves of the ocean that rise and fall, but it is hard to control Prana (vital force). This body is not permanent. It is like winter cold and summer heat——it comes and goes. If we try to find its fruits, we only find bitter disappointments and sorrows . The life most worthwhile is that of those who have attained the highest Atmic wisdom, blessed with liberation, and freed from sorrows (pains). Life is worthwhile only to those who have freed themselves from rebirth. Others are only lives of folly—lives of the foolish. People without the power of discrimination, find that learning is only a burden to them. The person without peace of mind, finds that his mind is only a burden to him. The person who is full of passion, finds that the Atmic wisdom is only a burden to him. The person who has not found the blissful joy within himself finds that the body, the mind, the egoism and the actions are only burdens to him. Prana stays awhile in the body but often departs when the person is young, like the wise who do not stay in the company of the wicked.
"I am terrified by this harmful enemy of mine, egoism, which was born by illusion. It is the mother of many dangers. There is no worse danger than that of egoism. I fear this egoism will not leave me, as I have had to contend with it for a long time. I do not eat food with water. What is the use to speak of the other enjoyments? Doing anything through egoism is unreal. The sooner this egoism is given up, the better. As long as we tolerate egoism, just so long are desires created within us. I have given up all active thoughts that I may be free from egoism, but unhappiness (pain) is still clinging to me. I have not realized my own self. May thou, O Rishi, be kind enough to bless me, that I may liberate myself of this enemy, egoism, which is the mother of all dangers in the universe. Its home is in the mind. It is false in its nature and is without intelligence or discrimination.
"My mind is flying to sensual objects, resistless as though drawn by a magnet. This baneful mind does not like the real joy that comes from within, but travels outward (to worldly pleasures). It is like a torrent, seething, writhing, uncontrolled, destroying in its onward rush, all the finer sensibilities. As a straw is tossed into the air, and a tree is shaken by the wind, so is the action of the mind. It lifts me up to the highest realm, then drops me unmercifully to the lowest depths of the earth. This terrible state of mind is more dangerous than a consuming flame. It is possible to dry up the ocean, to root out the Himalaya Mountains, or to eat fire, but it is harder, by far, to control the mind. It is the creator of all objects. This universe appeared when the mind came into existence, then disappeared with the absence of mind. Hence the mind should be controlled. With the control of mind, all pains and all sorrows will perish.
"The desires, like owls of the air (anger, passion, etc.), fly into the sky of the Atma. During the night's slumber, these restless desires are mingled with the gloom of delusion. All my longing for good works is defeated by my desires. Without spiritual mind, I am caught by desires, like a bird in a trap. The fire of my desires is burning me up, and I think that even a bath in ambrosia will not cool me. This owl of desires stirs up vain hopes within a person to strive for wealth, to attain- joy, or likes an old woman who dances for remuneration, rather than the joy of dancing. Likewise, all my desires try to roach for that which is impossible, because it is within. Desires, like monkeys, roam about without any place in view, passing over objects of desire, then longing for them again. It is these desires which bring the disease of re-birth—the worst of all diseases. This disease of desire can reach into well guarded forts. It is such desires as these that make the inner man manifest outwardly, like the rays of sunshine which cause the lotus buds to burst into blossom. These desires of the mind are like a two edged sword or like a red hot iron which consumes the greatest of men into nothingness
"The body is made of five elements which vary in form—some lean and others fat. It is a house of ill, oscillating between pleasures and pains. What good can be gained through this body, except joys and sorrows? 'It is the house of egoism. The owner of the house has ten mischievous monkeys (the organs). The servant of this house is the mind which produces thoughts. If this body should exist forever, then it would be worthy of the longing, but it will perish at the sight of death. What is this body? "It Is a composition of blood, tissues, and bones. It is subject to diseases and decay, and alike it serves for the poor, and for the rich. He, who believes in the illusory as the real, will cling to the body in delusion.
"Anyone who is born in the ocean of the universe will keep rolling to and fro with its waves. Childhood is possessed of dangers, helplessness, and is unable to express thoughts, ideas, etc.. This stage of life is so filled with fears incurred by the parents, relatives, and elders, that none can enjoy it.
"The fearful and helpless time rolls out to the. next dangerous step as youth, when he receives hard blows dealt by the devil known as, The God of Love, whose hiding place is in the mind. The broadening of his view, the achievements of knowledge, the help of the teacher, and all good works, could not save the youth when he falls blindly into the pit of the sensual, or is caught by the Hunter known as The God of Love. The pleasures of youth increase until he finds that the youthful period is over; that he is only a man who has attained Nirvana while in the youthful age. Such a man is fit to be worshipped. Is there any period in the life of man which is safe from surrounding dangers? Yes, if we find a tree in the sky above.
"There are lusts for women, gold and wine. When man has indulged in any of the above lusts, then his body and mind burns without fuel, so that it produces heat. Men are caught through greediness for these lusts, as fish are caught with bait. If the lust for the above ceases, then men are free from all worldly bondage, which has its seat in the mind. Without giving up lust there is no chance of obtaining the Brahmic state, which is the highest state of existence.
The Old Age:
"The time of childhood is past, the youth is spent, and now the worst time of all, that of old age must step into reign. If it arrives in company with disease and sorrow, then the Atma will bid it adieu. Like the love which ceases for the old wife when the husband finds a new mate, so the Atma gives up the old body full of diseases, for the new one. In old age, one suffers more and more as he has no power to gratify his desires. He is helpless to accomplish his desires, and quivers with old age while those about are laughing at him. If he happens to possess yellow dust (gold), then his children and relatives are praying for his death—that his gold may become theirs). Old age, which is beset with dangers and helplessness, is burning within and has no power to cope with the desires. The longing for various lusts will increase with old age but the power to gratify the thirst for more will leave. Day and night the fear of death seizes him from all sides. It is more difficult to control the desires in old age, for they have increased with the experiences of life.
"As all pains arise through ignorance, so is the end of life at the sight of death, which comes to all. As certain as fish die without water, so sure is death to the rich and the poor, to the powerful and to the weak. The forest, the mountains, the whole universe will die at its given time, and the whole will be born again after that time (the cycle) is over.
The Sakti: (Power)
"This destructive Sakti (power) puts an end to all things. It melts this universe to nothingness and draws the whole to it for a time. There is no one who can withstand its victorious bow and near its arrows, for this great Sakti (powers is superior to them all. Its head is the Heaven its feet are the Hells, its body is the earth, its eyes are the sun and the moon, etc.. Sometimes it takes the form of Rudra (the God of Death), another time it is Vishnu (one of the Hindu Trinity who Preserve), another time it became Brahma (the Creator), and the Pralay (at the time this universe melted to water) it took the shape of a terrific Bhairava (a powerful woman). All these things or objects which I have described, are not real, but have arisen through egoism and the mind. I do not know the object or aim of this birth or the reason of disease of desires within the heart of every being. It is very hard to find one who has freed himself from the diseases of desires, but a great spiritual enlightenment is gained through the contact with such a one. The wise are few and for that reason the means of liberation are not known. The mind which is deluded by illusion lacks the kindness of heart, has no compassion for good and is indifferent to good or bad. When it realizes what is good, then cowardice is replaced by courage; this world by Heaven. It is seldom we meet the blessed one whose mind is controlled, but we meet the ignorant often. All baneful thoughts produce bondage. All desires and egos will leave the body and go to the Heavens or other worlds or planets. All countries will change, all mountains become dust, all three worlds will perish, the oceans, the stars, the sun, the people, with or without power, the Trinity (Brahma—Creator, Vishnu—Preserver and Rudra—Destroyer) will be absorbed up to the highest reality. Brahma who creates by His will and along with its law, comes to an end; all the Akasa (matter) and the Macrocosm merge into the Parameshwara (non-dual; the highest God), that which is the liberator from the delusion of illusions . Ono reality, above thought or speech, is the pure wisdom. People are always anxious to engage in such thoughts as: "This is the time for good works" "When will be a good time to visit the Holy Places?" "Relatives are a great help." "I cannot do as I use to do." "I cannot enjoy the things that I once enjoyed." These people want to follow the Great One, but are too engrossed in home, wife, comforts of life, and obtaining wealth. They are always between the two. When a child is born, they are happy; when death claims another, they are grieved. Should one succeed in obtaining a great amount of wealth he is called the King of Riches. But lo! There comes death who puts an end to all!
"Lead me to the path by which I shall be free from all delusions. Surrounded by great danger, the brave hero dies at the hands of a coward. Hundreds of people die at the mercy of a man. This is the play of Sakti (power). My mind is burned by earthly fire. I have no desire for wealth. I prefer death to the pleasures of life. I prefer to live without sorrow and disappointments, but I find it impossible to free my mind. If you, with your well controlled mind, will not remove my grief, then to whom shall I go? The dangers of poison are not poisonous to me, but the sensual objects are my woe. The former kills only the body, but the latter ruins many bodies of future birth. Free from objects of love or hate, the sages, like thee, with quietness of mind are ever engaged in seedless Samadhi (highest meditation). My mind is indifferent toward the material or the spiritual. Please show me the way to bliss that is above pain or pleasure, doubt or delusion. That eternal state can't be reached by the five senses. I desire the path by which the Great Righteous ones manage to escape, from the suffering's of this world. Please be kind enough to tell me—is there not a higher state of existence? Is there not a state of quietness? If there is no one who will unlock that door for me, then may I not attain that peaceful state by my own efforts alone? I am without doubt and egoism, I do not care for food, water, nor fine clothes. I will not perform my daily duties. I do not care to read scrildure, nor do I care for pleasures or pains. Above love and hate, I shall always be silent and desireless."
Thus Ram ended his story of misery and darkness, and asked for light.
Suggestions for Further Reading
- Title Page and Front Matter
- Sri Ram, the Truth Seeker
- How the Wise Ought to Live
- How Suka Attained Highest State of Bliss
- The Way to Blessed Liberation
- Creation of the Universe
- Queen Chundalai, The Great Yogin
- The Great Egoist—Bali'
- King Janak
- How Suragho, the King of Hunters, attained realization of self'
- The Long-Lived Yogi and the Secret of His Longevity
- The Goal of the Yogi and Levitation'
- How to Live
- India's message to other Countries
- Essays On Dharma
- Esoteric Mystic Hinduism
- Introduction to Hinduism
- Hindu Way of Life
- Essays On Karma
- Hindu Rites and Rituals
- The Origin of The Sanskrit Language
- Symbolism in Hinduism
- Essays on The Upanishads
- Concepts of Hinduism
- Essays on Atman
- Hindu Festivals
- Spiritual Practice
- Right Living
- Yoga of Sorrow
- Mental Health
- Concepts of Buddhism
- General Essays
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