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Yoga Vasistha in Poem

Chapter VI: Dealing with Liberation

The Way of Yoga and Meditation - from Yoga Vasistha in Poem

3. Bhusunda's Story: The Way of Yoga

The Two Paths

Yoga is the way of mind's transcendence
Crossing over the cycles of birth and death
Two main approaches comprise the means
Self-knowledge and restraint of life-force
Yoga has somehow come to be associated
With restraint of life-force or prana
The path of self-knowledge is difficult for some
Similarly, yoga's path is difficult for others
My conviction is that inquiry is easy for all
Because truth inquired into is ever-present
Let me first shed light on the yoga path
Restraint of life-force to transcend mind

Bhusunda - The Long Lived

In one corner of infinite consciousness
A mirage-like world appears, so to say
I once heard a great sage's discussion
On an ancient story of long-lived beings
On a tree in a far away distant land
Dwells a crow known as Bhusunda
Free from attraction and aversion
He has lived longer than any I know
Inspired at hearing Bhusunda's story
I set out to meet him personally
Knowing sages can assume any form
Bhusunda had lived many world-cycles
It was tremendous to be in his presence
He had perfect memory of ages gone by
Free from 'I-ness', friend to all was he
Remaining silent unless he needed to speak

Meeting Bhusunda

I humbly approached this ancient one
He recognized me instantly as sage Vasistha
Explaining the purpose of my visit
I asked for his wisdom to my questions
I asked to know a little more about him
How long he had lived and its secret
Important things about ages past
And what was ordained about his life

Bhusunda's Reply

Listen attentively to the story I narrate
It will destroy the sins of all who listen
Very long ago a female deity existed
Who had for her vehicle a powerful crow
The crow mated and had many offspring
I was born as one of the little crows
We approached our wise father one day
For his sagacious council and guidance
The female deity had already instructed us
On self-knowledge and the way to liberation
We practiced and attained both of them
And wished to know where best to dwell
In accordance with our father's instructions
We came here, making this our abode to dwell
Ages have passed, my brothers have left
All ascending to the heavenly realm

Bhusunda's Timeless Wisdom

Through ages of time I continue to dwell here
Though life as a crow is held in contempt by most
The creator provides for even this lone crow
Allowing survival through time and calamities
I remain established and immersed in the self
Ever content with whatever comes naturally
Cheerful under all conditions or calamities
Having abandoned vain self-centered activity
Useless activities drain body and mind
Anxiety is a great drain—abandon it
You can do this if you avoid seeking
Anything but that which comes naturally
Mentally abandon body identification
Establish yourself in self-knowledge
Remain where you are, rise above time
Through the practice of pranayama
Great peace you will know in the heart
Events in the world will not affect you
Things and people will come and go
To and fro into the ocean of time
Standing on the shore you are ever dry
The shore is the changeless, steady state
You remain calm—ever unaffected
Untouched by the splashing waves of change
Engage yourself in diverse activities
In doing the needful there can be no harm
Avoid drowning in mental modifications
And never lose contact with reality
When one is firmly rooted in truth
Time and tide lose their strength
Changes come and changes go
You continue to exist as truth
During the great cosmic dissolution
I meditated on firmness as a mountain
When creation resumed in a new age
I meditated on water and flowed with it
Thus meditating differently in midst of change
I was perfectly adapted to all change
One cannot survive winds of change
If one adamantly resists the new winds
During the dawn of new creation
I meditated as wind and gently flowed
When nature gradually matured to shape
I resumed my abode in this very nest
The supreme being cannot be transgressed
One must align himself with his will
It is his will that things should be one way
Discover how to be one with everything

Bhusunda: Memories of Ages

I remember earth without much at all
No trees, plants or even mountains
Covered in lava, only partly illumined
Inhabited by all sorts of strange beings
Waters covered vast areas of earth
Then emerged forests and great mountains
Humans appeared after quite some time
What is now has appeared in many cycles

Bhusunda: On Pranayama

Death does not wish to kill those souls
Who are free from attraction and aversion
False notions, mental habits and perversions
Desires, hopes, greed, lust and hate
If you are established in pure awareness
Undistracted by the mind and at peace
Untouched by the evils of lust and hate
You are inseparable with the natural order
Meditation on the infinite consciousness
Eliminates sorrow and ignorance its cause
Purifying and restoring the heart of one
Who experiences self directly in meditation
One can also meditate on the life-force
This is the secret of longevity—my way
This too bestows self-knowledge and freedom
And overcomes all delusion permanently
This body is supported by three pillars
The three sheaths or the three nadis
It is endowed with nine gates or openings
Protected vehemently by the ego-sense
Body is an assemblage of the elements
The inner instrument or antahkarna
In the middle are subtle ida and pingala
Left and right subtle energy channels
There are three lotus-like wheels
Vital airs can cause them to vibrate
Two vital airs are especially important
Prana is above and apana below
I'm completely dedicated to these two
They are free from fatigue and tiredness
In the heart they shine like sun and moon
They are like the cartwheels of the mind
Prana is established in the upper part
Apana dwells in the lower portion
Both constantly move in and out
With practice they can be controlled
When the apana has ceased to move
And prana arises not from the heart
Both these must begin to happen
It is called retention or kumbhaka
Three points are there for the three
Inhalation, retention and exhalation
In front of the forehead; outside the nose;
And in the heart-lotus—prana's source
By devoted practice gradually restrain
The vital airs which are restless naturally
Restraint or kumbhaka brings about
Rest in the mind's ceaseless activity
When the heart's impurities are cleansed
By sincere devotion to prana and apana
One is freed from the grip of delusion
Attaining awakening and inner peace
If you are able to reach that space
Where apana and prana do unite
You will soar high beyond all grief
Transcending samsara—never born again
Prana modifies itself to apana
After abandoning its burning heat
Then abandons its coolness
Rising upward as prana again
One must know the truth directly
About energies inner movements
The same energy animates everything
Including thoughts that agitate the mind
Control of the inner vital airs
Destroys darkness of ignorance
As ignorance loses its fuel source
And cannot operate as delusion
While inner darkness continues
One sees things under its influence
When the heart is thoroughly purified
Self-knowledge is experienced

Bhusunda: Observing Energy

If one keenly observes the exact spot
Where prana is consumed by apana
Where in turn apana consumes prana
The mind becomes peaceful, free of grief
Behold within yourself directly
Where inhalation turns to exhalation
Where exhalation turns to inhalation
The precise location and moment of change
The wise regard this place and time
Of energy's change as most important
Right there between that change
Is pure infinite consciousness
Infinite consciousness indwells
Prana and apana as with all else
It not only animates prana and apana
It is the substratum of both and all
All things abide in that consciousness
All things and beings does it animate
All power and energy is consciousness
Infinite consciousness is the only reality

Bhusunda Concludes

I salute both prana and apana
Appearing as energy movement
Animated and indwelt by consciousness
I take refuge in infinite consciousness
By regular and systematic practice
Of pranayama described by me
You too can reach total equanimity
And attain happiness and immortality
Contemplation on the movement
Of the union of prana and apana
Confers the highest good on one
Total freedom from all conditioning
You'll be free of the body's clutches
And the mind's relentless tyranny
You'll rejoice with the great one's
Who have crossed samsara's shores
I rejoice in the state of pure bliss
Friend of all—belonging to none
None belong to me as I now know
I am the world and its inner intelligence

Vasistha Concludes

I lauded the great Bhusunda
Who humbly praised me in return
Thanking me for the great blessing
Of visiting him after so very long
Such is the nature of great ones
For all their great accomplishments
They feel it is nothing special really
As all can and should attain to it
Practice pranayama with devotion
If you want to bring peace in the mind
It is a simple way to end the delusion
That has caused much suffering and grief

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