DIALOGUE BETWEEN SAGE VASISHTA AND THE DREAMER
(Compiled from the Dreamer’s notebook and elucidated by the editor)
26. DREAMER: If this world is kalpit, a mental creation and a temporary existence, why should I be particular in doing good deeds and avoiding bad ones? When I know that the dream is in my imagination and so are its pain and bondage, why should I care for them? If everything is to vanish with the cessation of dream, why should I not act on the well-known principle, ‘Eat, drink, and, be merry’?
SAGE: You have already tried this in your previous dreams by giving yourself out to be a guru, but it did not save you from having dreams again and again. The scheme appears good so far as the present dream lasts, but you cannot stop future dreaming by this means. You must also remember that pleasure always follows pain, and that there is no pleasure unmixed with pain. Absolute happiness can only be had in the Absolute. Illumined or awakened souls who have experienced it have all proclaimed it and so have the sacred books of all religions. Pure happiness cannot be had in any world from the lowest to the highest Brahmaloka. Therefore, if you want to release yourself from the pain and miseries of constant dreaming or of birth and death, devise means to put a stop to dreaming altogether. You may be placed under the most favorable circumstances as a result of your good karmas of previous lives to enjoy the pleasures of the world, but fear of death will always remain with you at every birth. Birth is always sure to result in death. ‘Eat, drink, and be merry’ is the motto of agyanis (ignorants) and of those vachik gnanis or half-wise who have recognized the Truth that the world is a dream by intellect only, but they know not that try as much as they can, it is neither possible for them to stop nor to alter this scene in any way. Their knowledge that it is a dream cannot save them from the miseries and troubles of this world, nor are the laws of nature (Maya) less rigid on them. Pleasures and pains are the result of their own karmas. Their intellectual knowledge and logical inference cannot alter them in any way. Their case is like that of the physical scientists who have proved that there is no such thing as solid matter. They say that the apparent solid matter is nothing but a collection of invisible electrons or ions in motion. But can these scientists translate this knowledge into practice by running against solid walls? Let them kick a stone and it seems real notwithstanding that they know it to be merely a collection of invisible ions. Similarly, you put your hand in the fire here and it burns you in spite of your knowledge that the fire has no external existence except in your own mind. Both the vachik gnanis and the scientists yet lack true knowledge. The scientists know not that their instruments of investigation; even their nerves and brains, which feel the sensation of solidity, are likewise nothing but a collection of invisible ions. It is the same with you here. Your dream body and sense and the personality are created out of the same material, mind, as all other things, animate and inanimate, of this world. Your real self is lying comfortably in bed and neither a doer nor enjoyer nor a sufferer. It is the false (kalpit) personality that eats, drinks, and is merry. Realize that and be free.
Now, so long as you possess the slightest adhyas or attachment with this false personality of dream and consider it to be your real self, you cannot call yourself the creator of this world and treat others as your dream creatures, nor can you utter the sacred word, the mahavakya or ahambrahmasmi (I am God). Even when you are fully cognizant of the real self or I being present in you, in me, in all others, then too, you have no right (adhikar) to utter the mahavakya. When you reach the last bhumika of gnana, where you will have the right to utter it, you will have no tongue to utter it, no ear to hear it, and no intellect to understand it. The only manifestation of that state which is beyond all planes of creation is complete Silence.
27. DREAMER: What is the use of mahavakya and why do the Upanishads give so much importance to it in the attainment of moksha or final liberation?
SAGE: The mahavakya is of the greatest help to a seeker after Ultimate Truth. When he reaches the Samadhi avastha or conscious sushupti, where he sees nothing, hears nothing, perceives nothing, he is likely to be deceived with the idea that nothingness is the Ultimate Reality. There, the soundless sound of mahavakya, ‘ahambrahmasmi’, resounds and resounds automatically as a result of his abhyas (practice) and previous knowledge that there is nothing else but ‘I’, the only Reality, the Atman, Satchitananda, who although always was the sakshi (seer), was before this unknown (proksha) and is now made known (aproksha).
28. DREAMER: If the dream cannot be stopped and is to continue so long as it is destined to last as a result of prarabdha karma, what should I do to pass this period comfortably and peacefully? What attitude should I adopt and how should I treat my dream creatures?
SAGE: I would not advise you to do what you did in the early stages of your dreams. Don’t make a guru of yourself and take advantage of the ignorance of your dream creatures. Understand that they are yourself and whatever you do to them will recoil upon you. Your attitude and behavior towards your dream creatures should be what you would adopt towards your own self. Yours as well as their personalities owe their origin to the same creator with the difference that you have known that the creator is in you while they have not done so. The creator is present equally in you as in them. They are in reality your own self-appearing before you as if in a mirror and any defect in them is your own defect. So long as you see a single person agyani (ignorant) or differing from you in views, know that it is your own ignorance. Remove it from you and you will never meet a single agyani in this world. Simply know that the whole scene is a dream but act as if it is all real. Such is the life of a jivanmukta, a puran gnani, and one who knows that the world is a dream including his own personality. Avoid the folly of a half-wise or vachik gnani, who recognizing the Ultimate Truth by intellect only, fills the air with shouts of “I am God” and yet sticks to his own personality.
29. DREAMER: What then, are the means of stopping future dreaming and thus escaping from the fear of death altogether?
SAGE: The means to stop future dreaming, remember, are the same as your sacred books, the Vedas, Upanishads, etc., recommend. The same that the illumined souls (anubhavis) of all times and all countries advocate, the same as I have already told you viz., killing all vasnas (desires) by sarvatyaga (renunciation) and removal of ignorance (avidya) by means of gnana (knowledge). The first step is to learn either from a guru in whom you have an implicit faith, or from your holy scriptures, that both the dream and the waking worlds as well as all other worlds and after-death creations are merely mental (kalpit) and transitory appearances of the underlying Reality, the adhistana (noumenon) or Kutasthatman, which is ever Existent, ever Conscious, and ever Blissful, unchanging, and seer of all the phenomenal worlds. The knowledge thus acquired by shrvana (hearing) is then carried to your budhi (intellect) by means of manana or constantly pondering upon, and keeping your vriti or surat (attention) on this Truth and preventing its deviation towards the worldly or relative (mayavic) truths. Thus by means of vichar (discrimination), you start within you the process called neti neti (not this, not this), by which you exclude everything unreal from the category of Reality. Note that everything that has a beginning and an ending or appears at one time and disappears at another or is always changing, must be unreal and have a relative existence only. Both the waking state and the dream world come under the sweep of this rule and are therefore unreal and transitory. In contrast to the above definition of relative truths, the Absolute Truth must be such that is ever existent. This is the first step of gnana, which consists in a thorough recognition of the Absolute Truth by intellect. The next step is to carry this knowledge to the higher regions of mind, till it reaches its highest faculty, anubhava (intuition) or pure consciousness, free from all impurities (mal) and activities (vikshepa). The means of reaching this 2nd state of gnana is nidhyasana or contemplation. A continued and persistent practice of nidhyasana will create in you the faculty of concentrating the mind on the Ultimate Truth. This will enable you to keep conscious in your 3rd avastha of sushupti, and you will have a sakshatkara (illumination) of Reality in your samadhi state. To remain conscious during the state of sushupti (dreamless sleep), even for a moment, is called Samadhi. But unless by further practice you acquire the power of staying longer and longer in Samadhi, you are sure to return to the ordinary waking state as you do after sleep.
On returning from Samadhi, you will speak of the Ultimate Reality in the following terms: Vibhu (all-pervading), Achal (absolute or motionless), Nirvikar (unchangeable), Sat (existent), Chettanya (consciousness, knowledge), Ananda (bliss), Adwaita (without a 2nd), Avangmanasgochara (beyond mind and speech), etc., etc.
30: DREAMER: Every religion in the world advocates it own path to be the only right one to reach the goal. Which path do you recommend as the best, surest, and easiest of all?
SAGE: All paths lead to the same goal. The advocates of various religions merely quarrel over the words and methods of expression. When the goal is reached they all unite and the quarrels cease to exist. A few gentlemen belonging to different nationalities once entered a restaurant. They were all very thirsty and asked the waiter in one voice to bring water. One called it pani, another said ab, a 3rd asked for jal, and the 4th called agua. Each of them pressed the waiter to bring his requirement first. The waiter, being ignorant of so many languages, was at a loss as to whose order to carry out first and remained standing in the room. On this, a fight ensued in which words went hot and blows were exchanged. Meanwhile, the waiter decided to comply with the order of one whose language he understood, and in a moment, he brought in a large jugful of water. With the arrival of the water, all quarrels stopped and everyone cried out it was the thing he wanted and all of them enjoyed it to their heart’s content. Such is the way in which people fight over the technicalities of the various paths that lead to but one goal. The moment the goal is reached, all strife comes to an end. I advise you not to fight and waste your energy over the why and how of this and the waking state creation. Go beyond creation by any path suitable to you and realize the Truth first, and then you will know the why and how of the creation. You are sleeping and the serpent of avidhya (ignorance) is lying across your body. Your object at present should be to throw away the serpent rather than try to find out how and why it came upon you. In removing the avidya, you may follow any path best suited to your temperament. When you get beyond the meshes of maya or creation, you will yourself know where avidya came from and why you were so much influenced by it as to forget your real self.