DIALOGUE BETWEEN SAGE VASISHTA AND THE DREAMER
(Compiled from the Dreamer’s notebook and elucidated by the editor)
31. DREAMER: What are the various paths and which of them is the most suitable for me?
SAGE: All paths advocated by different religions of the world may be divided into 3 principal ones. One is the path of gnana, or knowledge. This is the surest but the most difficult of all as it requires a strong intellect and power of vichar (discrimination) in the seeker of truth. In this, a thorough knowledge of philosophy, especially sankhya (dualistic/atheistic philosophy of India) and logic is needed. It has also many pitfalls of which the greatest is that when the aspirant recognizes the Truth by intellect only, he begins to think that the ultimate goal is reached. Consequently, he neglects the karma and his duties in the world, stops all work and becomes lazy His further progress is thus stopped. Later on, when all his doubts are cleared and he is convinced of the nature of Truth and perceives mentally the glimpses of Reality, he believes that the goal is attained, and boldly proclaims that the world exists in his mind, and in season and out of season, chants the mahavakya, ‘ahambrahmasmi’, (I Am God), and is detested by his associates or dream creatures. They call him a fool, a lunatic and so forth. It is only when he has passed over these pitfalls that he is able to ascend to the highest bhumika of gnana. As long as he is in the body, he is a jivanmukta and after death, he attains kaivalya moksha, or videhmukti. A jivanmukta, as long as he remains in body, sees no duality in any of his 3 avasthas, jagrat (waking state), swapna (dream state), and sushupti (dreamless state). His drishti or point of view is changed and he sees himself and all others as one.
The 2nd path is that of yoga. In this path, the seeker after Truth is required to do certain ascetic penances, both mental and physical, to subjugate passions and thus to get a mastery or control over his mind. As one advances along this path, one acquires siddhis, or certain extraordinary powers whereby he can perform miracles and wonderful deeds such as altering the course of creation and stopping, changing, and even creating dreams, just as he wishes. Frequent exhibitions of such powers create in the yogi a desire for leadership and making disciples. The result is that he becomes enamored of his own personality and is so much over powered by pride (abhimana) that he begins to look down with contempt upon the followers of other paths. This ahamkara (egotism) prevents him from reaching the goal. If he overcomes this great obstacle in this path and gets a mastery over his ahamkara and kills his vasna, he succeeds in carrying his consciousness to the sushupti avastha where he has the sakshatkara of the Ultimate Reality. The difference between the 2 paths, Yoga and Gnana, is that while in the former, the aspirant carries his waking state consciousness to the sushupti avastha, and in the latter, the sushupti is brought into the waking state. It is called sahaja Samadhi as distinguished from the Samadhi of the yogi. A yogi enjoys the ananda (bliss) as long as he is in the Samadhi while a gnani enjoys it in all 3 avasthas.
The 3rd path is called upasna or Bhakti (devotion). This is best suited to the people of an emotional and loving nature, especially women. It requires no intellect or mental gymnastics or any kind of ascetic practices. In this path, the aspirant feels pleasurable sensations and ecstatic feelings from the very start. It requires an object to love, whether it is God, a prophet, an avatara, or even a guru. The travellers along this path are taught to recite mantra, prayers, and other devotional practices. As further aids, music and poetry are commended which enhance the pleasures experienced by the devotee. In this way, by constantly singing praises of his ishtdeva (beloved god) and by constantly praying and reciting of mantra, he is enabled to project a perfect physical image of his deity in whose company he continues to enjoy his full measure of ecstatic pleasure. The obstacle to reach the goal in this path lies in that the devotee is apt to labor under a sort of self-deception. He comes to look upon this feat of conjuring up his God as the Ultimate goal and the sensation of ecstatic pleasure, which he feels in the presence of his God, inclines him to remain in His service. This keeps him from kaivalya moksha or final liberation. If, however, he goes beyond this stage, his power of concentration increases, and he succeeds in carrying his consciousness to the sushupti avastha where he becomes one with his beloved and realizes that the object of his devotion was in reality his own real self.
A 4th or mixed path (samuchamarga) is also recommended in which gnana, yoga, and upasna are all combined. Now you can choose for yourself the path most suitable for you.
32. DREAMER: I like the path of gnana in which you say that the jivanmukta sees no duality even in this life during any of the 3 avasthas because his drishti (point of view) is changed, but how is it possible for one man to see things differently from all others? It appears to me rather inconceivable.
SAGE: It is not at all inconceivable. If you just use vichar (discrimination) and go a little deeper into the question, you will find that even among the agyanis (ignorants), no 2 individuals see a thing with the same drishti or point of view. They only interpret it according to their own mental attitude towards it. The point of view is determined by the vasna (desire), or interest, one has in the object. The same man is seen as father by his son, as husband by his wife, as uncle by his nephew, and so forth. But, the man himself is not in the least affected by the drishti of others. What appears a rare species of a tree to a botanist is only so many loads of fuel to a woodcutter, so many beams and planks to a timber merchant, and so much green fodder to a shepherd to feed his cattle with. If you go on thinking on this question more philosophically, you will find that it is the result of suggestion or kalpana which causes this difference of attitudes and standpoints and when vasna is associated with kalpana, the thing in itself, the adhistana, the root cause (mulkaran) or the underlying Reality is completely obscured.
To illustrate this point, take any object, say a chair. Why do you call it a chair? Because the name has been suggested to you by others. There is certainly no ‘chair-ness’ in it. It is a piece of wood cut out of a tree and made into a form upon which people sit. Now, another man wiser than you, a chemist, declares that it is simply a compound of certain elements - carbon, hydrogen, etc. A scientist says it is a collection of atoms (pramanus) and the followers of the advanced school of science will pronounce it to be a bundle of ions and electrons. An idealist philosopher says, chair by itself has no existence anywhere but in his mind. Lastly, the dreamer, who has realized that it is all his own dream tells you that not only the chair, but also the room in which it stands and the master to whom it belongs, including yourself, the inquirer, are all the products of his dream and the moment he is awakened, everything will disappear. Now, whom will you believe and follow? In the relative sense, all are right, but from the point of view of the Absolute Truth, none is right. The man who says it is a chair and one who calls it a piece of wood are both correct, and so are the chemist, the scientist, the philosopher, and the dreamer. But none knows what the thing in itself is. Thus relative truths are many but the absolute Truth is one.
All external objects or created things change with the drishti or mental angle of the individual who perceives them and drishti is determined in its turn by vasna and avidya (ignorance). Kill vasna by renunciation and avidya by gnana and your drishti or outlook upon the world will be changed altogether. You will see no enemy anywhere and become nirbhaya (fearless). It is on account of vasna expressing itself in its various phases, attachment, interest, love, etc. that you feel for your son and it gives you pain if you see him in trouble. If the son of any other man is in trouble, you do not feel any pain on his account, and if he happens to be the son of your enemy, you may rather feel pleasure in his suffering. Thus pleasure and pain, right and wrong, good and bad, all depend upon your drishti. What is right from one man’s point of view may be wrong from another’s. Happiness, the highest ambition of all created beings, is purely a matter of drishti and changes with the change of viewpoint. Extreme happiness turns into extreme misery the moment the drishti is changed. Instances are not wanting to show how instantaneously the drishti is sometimes changed by mere suggestion. As a case in point, I tell you a story I heard from a medical man: A married man with half a dozen children and loving wife was in full enjoyment of a peaceful life. With advancing years, he began to experience sexual weakness for which he was compelled to seek the advice of a specialist. The latter after examination, pronounced that the patient, though not impotent, was certainly sterile from birth. The specialist’s verdict staggered the poor man.
Immediately, his attitude towards his wife and children was changed and he actually began to feel that the children were not legitimate and that his wife had not been really faithful to him. Every past act of his wife that he remembered was now in his eyes an evidence of her guilt and his children’s features now appeared to resemble those of a man whom he once knew to be his wife’s friend. These wild and bewildering fancies exasperated him so much that he poisoned the whole family to death. Subsequently, however, another specialist convinced him that he was not sterile, so much so, that his previous medical advisor was also made to admit his mistake. But the disillusionment came too late and the poor fellow had nothing left for him but to end his own life too in the same unfortunate manner. Such is the power of suggestion or kalpana Shakti of Maya in changing the drishti or point of view of a person. It is indeed the cause of creation and of the continuance of this and the waking world.