Yoga Vasishta is one of the great classic works of Indian philosophy. Consisting of thirty thousand Sanskrit verses, it is considered a highly authoritative work on Advaita Vedanta, and presents the highest truth—that everything which exists is Consciousness—through the use of dialogues and stories.
Whatever one constantly contemplates, whatever constantly occupies one’s mind, and to whatever one is devoted with all his life, that he knows to be real and obvious. When the mind is saturated with consciousness of Brahman (ultimate reality) it becomes that; whatever the mind loves most it becomes that. When one’s mind rests in the supreme reality or the infinite consciousness, then one engages himself in righteous activity without being interested in the activity itself for its own sake.
When this objective universe itself does not exist or when one cannot affirm or deny its existence, it is not possible to determine who is the doer of actions and the enjoyer of experiences. What is commonly known as Brahma the creator, or buddhi the awakened intelligence, is itself the infinite consciousness which is absolutely pure. The peace in the sky is pure void. The appearance of duality in all these is illusory and nonexistent. Therefore, diversity is a meaningless concept. Just as one enters into the dream state after the deep sleep state, the same infinite consciousness moves to the creation state from the state of absolute quiescence; in it there is no duality or unity. The infinite consciousness perceives this creation within the space of its own consciousness.
Just as there is no definite sequence or order, or causal connection in dreams, in this world-appearance there is no definite causal connection or sequence, though it appears to have one. There is no division in dream, nor is there a division in the objects of perception. It is the same Brahman, or infinite consciousness, that appears in front of you as this universe or creation. In dream there is no recognition of the objects seen in the dream nor is there samskara (mental impression) nor even memory, because the dreamer does not think, “I have seen this before.” Similarly, in the waking state, too, when these three considerations are removed, there is the infinite consciousness alone which the ignorant man identifies with memory.
To the enlightened one, there are none who are ignorant. Why should we waste our time discussing what is nonexistent?
There are some things which are caused and there are others which do not have a cause. It depends upon one’s point of view; what one regards as valid that alone he accepts as valid. This creation has no cause at all. The belief that the world was created by God, etc., is a play of words. There is nothing that illustrates this truth as the experience of dreaming does.
If the creation as a dream is not clearly understood, there is great delusion. If it is rightly understood, delusion vanishes. Speculative reasoning advanced in connection with this creation is ignorance and foolishness. Is fire the “cause” of the heat which is natural to it? The constituents of the body are in fact formless, ethereal substances; hence the physical body has no real cause. Also, what can be the cause of the body which experiences the nonexistent universe?
All this is natural to nature (whatever it may be), even if a cause may be assumed. Even the word “nature” that is used here is a figure of speech. Therefore, all these objects and their assumed causes are but delusions that arise in the mind of the ignorant. The wise ones know that all effects proceed from causes. When one dreams of being robbed and knows that it was but a dream, there is no sorrow; even so, when the truth is realized, life is freed from sorrow.
The truth certainly is that this universe has never been created, as creation had no cause in the first place. It came into being and it exists as a dream-object exists in the infinite consciousness. It is Brahman alone and it shines in Brahman. Just as both sleep and dream are aspects of one sleep, even so this creation and dissolution of the universe are two aspects of the one indivisible, infinite consciousness.
From Vasistha’s Yoga, by Swami Venkatesananda. Copyright © 1993 State University of New York. All rights reserved. Reprinted by arrangement with State University of New York Press, Albany, New York.