Yoga Vasistha in Poem

Chapter II: The Behavior of the Seeker

5. The Four Gate-Keepers to Freedom

Self-Knowledge: Your Foremost Duty

The entrance to the Realm of Freedom
Are guarded by four gate-keepers
Self-control, spirit of inquiry
Contentment and good-company
Strive diligently to cultivate friendship
With all four or at least one of them
Overcome the deadly serpent of ignorance
Or endless suffering will be thy lot
Overcoming this sorrow of samsara
You will live here like gods right now
Delusion alone is the prison house
Inquiry into self-nature the means out
When the mind’s disturbances have subsided
There is unbroken flow of peace within
The truth is seen by the heart directly
This very world becomes an abode of peace
Such a person is untainted by life’s defects
Untouched by life’s sorrows is he
He sees nothing to acquire or to shun
Though he appears to live quite normally
The past has lost its grip on him
His mind has given up its restlessness
He rests in the bliss of his own nature
All by direct experience of self-knowledge
Self-knowledge alone is your foremost duty
Disregard is an invitation to grievous harm
If you want to free yourself from samsara
Receive this wholesome instruction sincerely

Self-Control: The First Gate-Keeper

This formidable ocean of samsara
Is like sleeping in a burning house
Resort to the eternal and unchanging
There alone does the mind find peace
You have nothing to lose by self-inquiry
Only freedom to gain from life’s turmoil
Hence all should strive without remission
To conquer the mind and end bondage
A pure mind is peaceful and tranquil
Free from delusion and untangled
It does not long for anything at all
Nor does it feel a need to reject things
This is self-control or conquest of mind
The first gate-keeper to the Absolute
All that is good emanates from here
All evil is dispelled by self-control too
No gain or pleasure can ever compare
To the joy and delight of the self-controlled
All trust one who is self-controlled
It is the remedy for physical and mental ills
While functioning among the pleasant
Among that considered unpleasant too
He is neither elated nor depressed
Living naturally in unbroken self-control
He looks upon all in equal vision
Having disciplined the senses well
Living amongst all, unaffected by them
Even-minded is the person of self-control

Inquiry: The Second Gate-Keeper

Inquiry is the second gate-keeper
Undertaken by an intelligence purified
By a close study of sacred scripture
It must remain unbroken until liberation
The wise regard all gain as inquiry’s fruit
Spirit of inquiry is the best protection
Absence of inquiry renders the mind dull
Making one’s life a journey in sorrow
Avoid the company of foolish ones
Who live without the spirit of inquiry
As they bring grief upon themselves
And others by being in their company
Inquiry is not reasoning or analysis
It is directly looking into oneself
To know directly “Who am I?”
“How has this samsara come to be?”
When the spirit of inquiry is ever awake
You enlighten all who come in contact
Dispelling ignorance and falsity
By the light and fire of inner clarity
The light of inquiry brings realization
Of what is unchanging amidst change
Freedom from delusion and attachment
One functions normally, completely free
Even in the midst of life’s activities
The eye of inquiry shines brightly
Far better to be born as a worm in mud
Than be without the eye of inquiry
From inquiry arises knowledge of truth
From such knowledge arises tranquility
Then, the peace that passeth understanding
The end of sorrow and suffering permanently

Contentment: The Third Gate-Keeper

Contentment is the third gate-keeper
All craving is absent in the contended one
He does not relish any sense pleasures
Delighting in contentment, the destroyer of sins
Contentment is complete renunciation
For all that is sought in every way
Satisfied with what comes naturally
Unsought, increasing the heart’s purity
The contended mind is a continual feast
The heart blooms like a continual spring
Free from the sense of possessiveness
Thereby owning the entire universe

Satsanga: The Fourth Gate-Keeper

Satsanga is company of the wise
The truly holy and enlightened ones
It brightens one’s inner light
And awakens one’s intelligence
Destroying ignorance and psychic distress
Most precious of all is this good-company
Attain this at any cost to your own self
Satsanga is light on the path of freedom
Superior to any and all religious practices
To charity, austerity, pilgrimage and rites
Serve and adore saints and holy ones
Disrespecting them invites great suffering

Summary: Four Gate-Keepers to Freedom

Self-control, spirit of inquiry
Contentment and good-company
These four are the surest means
Of rescue from the ocean of samsara
Self-control is supreme happiness
Self-inquiry is the highest wisdom
Contentment is the supreme gain
Satsanga is the very best company
If unable to befriend all four sentinels
Then resort to at least one sincerely
With diligent practice without remission
The others will grow in you gradually
Tame the wild elephant of the mind
Wisdom will seek you of its own accord
Without this, there is no spiritual life
No progress, only increasing vanity
Strive by all means to attain these four
Necessary when on the spiritual path
If you have these in good measure
You are qualified to ascend spiritually

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