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Yoga Vasistha in Poem

Chapter III (...continued)

16. The Story of Lavana

The Juggler

Long ago lived a king called Lavana
Who ruled a small kingdom righteously
One day during a session of open court
A juggler appeared and spoke to the king
"Homage to you, O righteous king
May I show you something wonderful?"
Waving some feathers a horse appeared
Which he offered to the king as a gift
"Take a ride on this fine horse, O king
Roam freely to your heart's desire"
The king closed his eyes—sat quietly
All in the court sat silently too

The King Awakens

After some time the king awakened
Trembling in fear and confusion
The ministers tried to calm the king
Who seemed to have had a bad dream
After regaining his composure
The king narrated to his ministers
The experience he just underwent
What he felt the juggler had caused

The King Recounts

"As soon as the juggler waved his feathers
I jumped on the horse as suggested
And rode far beyond the desert
Into a place which was very cold
When I sat to rest my weary self
The horse ran away—leaving me alone
The night was spent in fear and hunger
It seemed a very long journey was undergone
Starving I begged for some food to eat
From a dark girl dressed in black who had some
After much begging she replied
"Only if you promise to marry me"
What to do, survival was at stake
I agreed—and was given food to eat
She then took me to her village
And introduced me to all as her husband
Hideous were all of the tribesmen
Barely appearing human at all
But they welcomed me with respect
Being the husband of one of them
We were married in a hideous ceremony
A member of the primitive tribe I became
My wife gave birth to four children
Each more dreadful than the other one
Years were spent in great agony
I forgot the past and lost my way
Hunting for food and cutting wood
To feed my family each and every day
Things got difficult as time rolled on
I traded in meat to try and survive
Often fighting with others for a share
My body too became black as coal
The mind had also become sinful
The heart had lost all compassion
With nets and traps I caught my prey
Causing untold hardship to animals
Eating rotten food, living in filth
Anger and abusiveness became natural
I felt bound by my own evil tendencies
And wept at my bondage and agony
Thus I lived for a very long time
Things got so difficult for all
People ate anything they could find
Corpses—decaying flesh and dirt as well
I took my family away from there
In hopes that we may find better
Sitting one evening after much travel
My youngest son cried in hunger
Helpless to give him anything at all
I offered him my own flesh to eat
Innocently he consented—asking for some
My world had tumbled within itself
I thought it best to end this suffering
And to end this life itself
Making a fire I entered the flames
I shuddered—found myself here again

The Ministers Speak

O king, the juggler was not a thief
He asked for no money, nothing he took
He must have come to teach a lesson
About this delusive world-appearance
World-appearance is mind's jugglery
Mind itself is a play of consciousness
It deludes the wisest of persons too
There is nothing this mind cannot do

Vasistha's Insight

I know firsthand—I was there in that court
How the mind veils the nature of self
Creating its web of illusory appearances
For peace—the illusion must be destroyed
The impure mind sees a ghost
Where there is nothing put a post
All relationships exist in the mind
Havoc and distress are mind's play too
A mind laden with tendencies
Is called an impure mind
Tendencies are springs for wrong action
Increasing delusion—strengthening tendencies
Mind is the whole world, O Rama
Atmosphere, sky, earth and wind
Mind is great and powerful too
It decided the time of the king's experience
Greatest mystery of all is this, Rama
How the omnipresent is veiled by the mind
Making one confuse it with reality
And be seen as reality—unquestionable
There’s no experience—if mind is elsewhere
Food eaten too is not experienced
Though the most tasty food be eaten as well
Senses are born of the mind—not the other way
Fools think body and mind differ
Body is non-different from mind
In truth it is mind externalized
Salutations to sages who've realized this
Those who've realized this great truth
Are never perturbed by physical conditions
For the switch to convert pleasant to unpleasant
He has discovered—lies within his mind
Just as an actor plays different roles
Mind creates different states in consciousness
Like the waking and dreaming states
Just as the experiences of king Lavana

Conquest of Mind

Mind experiences what it constructs
Mind is a bundle of thoughts only
Know this by your direct inquiry
Be free of its clutches—then do as you please
He who does not let mind roam about
In objects of pleasure attains mastery
Just as something is tied to a post
The mind too can be tied to reality
With a quiet mind one can meditate
Constantly and without any break
Meditate ceaselessly—'tis your duty
And attain to the supreme being
Victory over the goblin mind
Is had by sincere self-effort
Knowledge is attained by self-inquiry
And abandonment of all desires
If there is sincere proper attitude
This can be attained without struggle
Like a child's attention can be easily diverted
If there be real interest in something new
Abandoning cravings is the sole means
To break the grip of the mind's torment
Woe unto him—unable and unwilling
To do what is for his own highest good
By intense effort is it possible
To gain victory over the mind
When individuality is broken through
There is absorption in infinite consciousness
Abandon reliance on fate or gods
All mental creations of the dull-witted
With self-effort and self-knowledge
Make the mind the no-mind
Let infinite consciousness swallow the mind
Soar high—beyond all and everything
With intelligence united with the supreme
Hold onto the self—which is imperishable
Unagitated is the conquered mind
The world's treasures cannot compare
Self-knowledge by direct self-inquiry
Is what is needed—why is this difficult?
How do you live in daily turmoil
Afraid of death and separation
The feeling of 'I' and 'mine' will dissolve
Only when the mind ceases to be
If you do not attain fearlessness
The mind's cravings will create havoc
Like rapids they will carry you forth
In their restlessness with great intensity
Deprive the mind of its restlessness
It will become 'dead mind' so to say
This is highest penance or tapas
Verification of scriptures and liberation
Like a pendulum the mind oscillates
Between reality and appearance
After it thinks of inert objects repeatedly
It assumes their characteristics—becomes them
The same mind devoted to self-inquiry
Becomes wise—shakes off conditioning
Returns once again to its original nature
Pure indivisible infinite consciousness
Mental conditioning has no reality
Still it arises somehow in the mind
Ignorance is the cause—abandon it
Be wise—renounce mental conditioning
You are not the doer of any action here
Why then do you assume doership?
One alone exists and ever will
What then is this doership and agency?
Inactivity is the other extreme
It does not accomplish a thing
What has to be done—has to be done
Act without doership—abide in the self
Do the actions that are natural to you
Unattached—you will become non-doer
But doing nothing—attached to doing nothing
You become the doer of that nothing
This world is like a jugglery show
Nothing to be gained or given up
Ignorance of self’s nature is the seed
Abandon this grief-giver ruthlessly
It creates delusion, hides self-knowledge
Like it did for the king Lavana
In less than an hour he experienced
Several years of sorrow and much grief
Ignorance lacks any real continuity
Like a river—it flows in rapid succession
Veiling reality again and again
And giving the appearance of reality
When you try to grasp it—nothing is held
Because it has no real substance at all
It acquires strength and firmness
From your constant blind dwelling on it
A rope made of strands gains strength
Blueness of the sky is never challenged
Dream objects seem real in a dream
All due to ignorance or mental conditioning
Ignorance creates great confusion
Between appearance and reality
By becoming aware of its unreality
It is mastered—the mind ceases to be
As darkness disappears with the light
Ignorance disappears with self-knowledge
Without natural urge for self-knowledge
Ignorance will subject you to its tyranny
Natural must be your inner quest
You have to want to know above all
What is reality and what is appearance
How to go beyond this bondage
Mind is self-veiled consciousness
Presenting subject-object in indivisibility
The veil is an idea—an intention too
The mind is a thought born of that
The firm conviction of self-limitation
Blinds the mind and binds it too
Reverse this by unwavering conviction
That everything is the absolute Brahman
Ideas and thoughts are bondage themselves
Their abandonment and absence is liberation
Be free of them—do what is natural to you
Let appearances be—what does it matter?
What was in the beginning—exists now still
The absolute is still the absolute
Contemplate on this deep in your heart
And shake off this ignorance completely
Uproot hopes and all expectations
Using inner strength and intelligence
Hopes, expectations and attachments
Bind you slavishly to mental conditioning
People forget the truth—a great wonder
How do they live in such utter ignorance
Their lives are an invitation to suffering
The hell they weep about is self-created
Give up all mental conditioning, O Rama
Which alone is responsible for sorrow
This ignorance is duality perception's seed
Abandoned—you will attain supreme peace

Rama Speaks After Contemplation

Holy Sage—'tis incredible that non-existence
Creates such havoc—appearing so very real
Pray—kindly explain how this is possible
Why did king Lavana undergo such suffering

Vasistha's Reply

That consciousness is related to the body
Is not really true at all in any way
As in dream—body is the fancy of consciousness
Its own energy gives it the appearance of reality
Consciousness limits itself as it were
The limitation considers itself limited
This is the individual—the jiva
Restless amidst the world appearance
This embodied being, egotism or jiva
Enjoys and suffers the fruits as well
The body or enlightened ones never suffer
The mind alone experiences all suffering
Ignorance, heedlessness and unwisdom
All are nescience—it only does suffer
It is the mind that does everything
It is the mind that suffers all agony
Let me answer your question of king Lavana
And why he underwent such suffering
He was a descendant of Harischandra
He too aspired to be great like him

Lavana's Aspiration

His grandfather did great religious rites
Lavana too aspired to do so in some way
Gathering all that was needed for one
He performed the rite mentally in his garden
Though the rite was done mentally
He was entitled to its fullest fruit
The same mind thinks and also does
The same mind experiences pain and joy
Therefore guide your mind to salvation
Mind alone is the doer of all actions
I was witness in king Lavana's court
And saw the real effects he underwent
I saw through the eye of intuition
The juggler was a messenger of the gods
Out to test the mettle of king Lavana
As he had undertaken a particular rite
Lavana too was performing a rite mentally
The hallucinations he had were the result
Both the rite and the hallucinations
Were experienced by the very same mind
When the same mind is thoroughly purified
All duality will be disposed of completely
Diversity will vanish along with it
As will false notions of 'I' and 'mine'
Equipped with wisdom to ascend
The seven steps to inner perfection
Attain liberation from all bondage
Listen carefully to more on these states

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