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Yoga Vasistha in Poem

Chapter VI: Dealing with Liberation

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11. The Story of Sikhidhvaja and Chudala (...continued 3)

The Ascetic Instructs Sikhidhvaja

Direct inquiry leads to self-knowledge
The way beyond all sorrow and suffering
Devoid of self-knowledge, ever are we bound
Our suffering is the effect of our ignorance
Actions themselves do not bind
Conditioning is limitation and bondage
Just as seeing a ghost instead of a post
Fills one with fright and great sorrow
Neither conditioning nor limitation
Has any reality or substance really
Still they create such great havoc
Giving rise to foolishness of all kinds
Conditioning is the seed of mind
When it ceases the mind ceases too
One who has attained self-knowledge
Has crossed samsara—is never born again
Sages crossing this dire samsara
Declare self-knowledge to be supreme
Why then do you continue in ignorance
By clinging still to foolish notions
Thinking that you are now an ascetic
Living here in this forest in austerity
Feeling: 'this is my pot, stick and cottage'
Why not inquire directly into the self
Why not strive directly for enlightenment
Inquiring into the nature of bondage
Why are you wasting your life here alone
Instead of seeking enlightened company

Sikhidhvaja Remarks

O sage, everything you say is true
I am freed of foolishness, O guru
I have taken refuge in you—enlighten me
To the way beyond grief and suffering

The Ascetic Continues Instruction

If you are receptive and eager to learn
You will benefit from my instruction
It is your responsibility to see beyond words
Words are used to indicate lies beyond them
If one is not serious, disciplined and attentive
Teaching is fruitless—a useless exercise
You must intend to receive that which is conveyed
With the whole of your being in attentiveness

Story of the Philosophers' Stone

There once lived one who was wealthy and wise
Most successful though unaware of self
He engaged in austerities for the sole purpose
Of acquiring the gem—philosophers' stone
Since his effort was most intense
The jewel appeared to him very soon
Uncertain he was that this was the gem
For how could such be achieved so soon
His mind was still striving and suffering
Still doubting that this was the stone
Thinking his austerity to be too ordinary
For this achievement in such a short time
With this doubt and inner confusion
He did not take the jewel that appeared
Not destined to get it even though there
What is ignored disappears quite soon
When one is sincere in spiritual practice
Psychic powers called siddhis arise
If one foolishly pursues these powers
Insight that also comes vanishes—ignored
This man reengaged himself in austerity
Still for the purpose of the precious stone
Then once seeing a shiny glass piece
He mistook it for the precious gem sought
Greedy and deluded he picked it up
Thinking this would fulfill all his dear wishes
Renouncing family, friends, wealth and all
He went to a forest to harvest the glass piece
Nothing but great calamities came
There he suffered for his foolishness
Foolishness is the greatest disaster
It adorns the head of all suffering and calamity

Story of the Wild Elephant

This story resembles yours in many ways
Listen attentively to its deeper import
The story of a very strong elephant
Equipped with the most powerful tusks
Its rider had imprisoned him in a cage
Making him work hard, inflicting him with pain
The elephant struggled to free itself
Whenever the rider was away from him
Once after three days of struggle
The elephant freed itself finally
The rider found out and tracked him down
Alighting on the elephant to his surprise
The rider slipped, falling to the ground
The elephant saw his enemy before him
Overcome with pity, he simply went away
Compassion is seen even in wild beasts
Those bent on evil don't change their ways
The rider gathered his friends for the task
A vicious ambush for the elephant was set
A huge pit—making it impossible for him to escape
They cleverly lured the elephant to trap
And lo, he fell in and was again bound
Made to undergo tremendous suffering
The sad fate of those missing opportunity
If one ignores opportunities offered
To break away from existing bondage
They will return strengthened in force
And subject you to a fresh charge of pain
Ignore the false satisfactions of freedom
Thinking you are free invites sorrow
Foolishness is bondage, O holy one
'Tis foolish for the bound to imagine they're free
Though the self alone exists in truth
The foolish are snared by ignorance
Those firmly established in foolishness
All that is—is but an expansion of foolishness

Lessons: Story of the Philosophers' Stone

The one searching for the gem is you
With knowledge of scriptures and learning
Still peace eludes you at every step
You are not at rest within yourself
The precious stone is real renunciation
This alone puts an end to all sorrow
Total renunciation is total gain
You've renounced much for the ascetic life
The ego-sense still needs to be renounced
The heart must fully abandon the mind
When one abandons movement of thought
There is realization of the Absolute
You are overcome with renunciation's thought
An impression created by your renunciation
Real bliss arises within naturally
When there is total renunciation
One who has real total renunciation
Is not agitated by anything at all
Though winds come with all of their might
The oak stands still and unperturbed
Worries are but movements of thought
These movements are known as mind
If thoughts still operate you must know
The mind still has much it has not renounced
When the mind is agitated, world appears
It stays as long as thoughts dwell within
As long as thoughts continue to operate
There is no total renunciation
Hence when thoughts arise in your heart
Renunciation leaves you like the gem
Taking along freedom from thoughts and worry
For you failed to recognize its true spirit
Abandoned by the jewel of renunciation
You clung to the glass of austerities
This has increased your sorrow manifold
You've abandoned joy for this sorry state
You fell into a self-created foolish trap
Mistaking austerity for real renunciation
Abandoning kingdom, wealth and wife
Attaching to this pathetic ascetic life
You're more worried now than ever before
About meals, animals and the weather
Firmly bound by thoughts and their offshoots
Only imagining you have some real gain

Lessons: Story of the Wild Elephant

You are the wild elephant in the forest
With tusks of wisdom and dispassion
Ignorance is the rider inflicting sorrow
Ignorance overcomes blind strength always
The cage is a cage of your desires
They get stronger in time, unlike iron
As the elephant broke out of the cage
You renounced all and came to this forest
Psychological abandonment is another thing
Not as easy as leaving things physically
As the rider was alerted to the elephant's escape
Ignorance trembles during renunciation
When pursuit of pleasure is abandoned
Ignorance flees from you instantly
Coming here you wounded this ignorance
But you failed to abandon it psychologically
Therefore ignorance has risen in you
It remembers well its earlier wound
So it has trapped you now in asceticism
You should have abandoned it mentally too
You are strong and endowed with wisdom
But the rider of ignorance has trapped you
You're now imprisoned in asceticism's well
And all the while you think you're free
Why didn't you listen to your wife's words
She is indeed a true knower of truth
But even if you felt that you were right
Why didn't you abandon all psychologically

Sikhidhvaja to the Ascetic

I've renounced kingdom, palace and wife
What else could I have renounced
Why do you say it is not renunciation—
That I have not renounced everything

The Ascetic Replies

Kingdom, palace, wealth and wife
These are not yours to begin with
The best part you have held back
Renounce that totally without residue

Sikhidhvaha Responds

If all those things are not really mine
I then renounce this forest and hermitage
Surely this now constitutes renunciation
Have I completely renounced everything

The Ascetic Replies

The forest and hermitage are not yours
How do you feel you renounce them
The best part you have held back
Renounce that totally without residue

Sikhidhvaja Responds

You say these are not mine either
I then abandon staff, skin and cottage
Saying this he sprang up and gathered
All his possessions, however small
Instantly he created a large bonfire
And burnt all things to ashes and dust
Proclaiming he'd renounced all activities
All that was sacred and secular too
Thank you for awakening me, O sage
I've now abandoned delusion, carried long
Victorious, I've now renounced everything
Do you feel there is anything I have left out

The Ascetic Replies

You have not renounced everything
Do not pretend as if you really have
The best part you have held back
Renounce that totally without residue

Sikhidhvaja Responds

There is only one thing left to renounce
This filthy body of leather and bones
I shall now renounce this wretched thing
And surely achieve total renunciation

The Ascetic Replies

Why destroy this innocent body
Abandon anger which blinds you now
You have nothing to do with this body
It is enlivened, sustained and made to act
Real renunciation is beyond this notion
Renounce that which agitates this body
Sin and evil will then come to an end
Or they will rise again in a new body
That alone is total renunciation
That will make you a supreme renouncer
Renounce the sole cause of all mischief
That which makes one revolve in foolishness

Sikhidhvaja Responds

O, radiant sage, I hear your words
But I’m not able to know what to renounce
Pray, instruct me on the sole cause of all
So I may see clearly what renunciation is

The Ascetic Replies

The mind should be renounced, O noble one
Call it the individual, jiva or even prana
It is what created tremendous confusion
The seed of all sorrow, suffering and grief
Abandoning the mind is renunciation
The mind causes great distress in the heart
Its agitation affects one and others too
'Tis great joy in one who is mind-less
Diverse experiences and stages in life
The firmness of holy ones as well too
Are all modifications of the mind only
Mind's abandonment is true renunciation
Once you renounce this unstable mind
Truth will be experienced at once
All notions and diversity will come to an end
You will know peace that passeth understanding
By trying to renounce what is not yours
You create division within yourself
You cannot renounce everything as such
All exists in the one infinite consciousness
Rest in the stage of total renunciation
'Tis like a quiet lamp without any fuel
But in the quiet stillness you'll still shine
With the supreme brilliance of your nature
Just as you'll still exist after renouncing
Consciousness ever exists after mind’s gone
Nothing will change but changing within
You'll transcend all sorrow completely
You'll go beyond birth, old age and death
Entering into eternity and infinity
All else is a sheer waste of time
Self-created delusion and bondage
In renunciation exists highest knowledge
Utter emptiness overflows within itself
Abandon the mind and notion of renunciation
Then remain where you are—what is the harm

... continued 4

 


 

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