THE EVER-PRESENT MAHATMAS
The Sage Vasishtha said: Men of sound judgement are freed from mental agitation and perfected in self-mastery by restraining the flight of the mind and fixing it in inward meditation. They shun the sight of visible things as being unworthy of their notice, and seek instead the knowledge of the highest good. Beholding the all-seeing divine principle through their mental and external vision, they are blind to empty phenomena.
Dormant amidst the thick gloom of error overspreading the mazy paths of life, they are awake under the transcendental light known only to the vigilant. They are indifferent both to the sweet pleasures of this life, as well as the cheerless prospects of future enjoyments.
Mixed like salt with the waters of spiritual unity, they abide in the boundless ocean of its omnipresence. They are melted away like ice in a river by their rigorous austerities, which act like the dissolving heat of the sun. Their restless desires and passions are laid to rest with the disappearance of their avidya, just as turbulent waves subside of themselves when the storm clouds pass away.
The net of desires, ensnaring men like birds in a trap, is cut asunder by the spirit of dispassion, as the meshes of a net are severed by the teeth of a mouse. As the seeds of the kata fruit purify foul water, so does philosophy purge the mind of all its errors.
The mind that is freed from passions, worldly ties and contention, and from dependence, is liberated from the bonds of ignorance and error like a bird let loose from its cage. When the disturbances of doubt are stilled and the wanderings of curiosity are done, then the full moon of internal fullness sheds its lustre over the mind.
As the mind has its true magnanimity only when established in its highest dignity and nobility, it begins to obtain its equanimity by entering that state which is like the calm sea after a storm. As long as the shadow of solicitude hangs over the mind, it is darkened, stupified and broken in heart, until the sun of desirelessness rises to dispel its gloom.
It is by the sunshine of Intellect that the lotus-bud of intelligence glistens in its pure lustre and unfolds the foliage of its virtues before the dawning light above. Intelligence charms all hearts and delights the world. It is fostered by the sattva guna, as the moon becomes full by the swelling of her light. What more shall I say of this, than that the mind of him who knows the knowable spreads out like the beginningless and endless sphere of heaven. The mind enlightened by reason is so exalted as even to empathize with the great gods Hari, Hara, Brahmā and Indra.
They are far from tasting the self-content bliss of yogins, those who continually seek to gratify trishna, like parched deer pursuing mirages of water. The heart's desires of all beings subject them to repeated births and deaths, and cause the ignorant, but not the wise, to appear and disappear like the waves of the sea.
The world displays naught but the appearance and disappearance of bodies, now seen moving about at the sport of time, and now falling as prey to it forever. The spiritual body neither is born nor dies in this world, nor is it touched by the decoration or destruction of the body, but it remains as unchanged as the hollow of a pot both when the pot is whole and when it is broken. As the understanding rises within, with its cooling moonbeams, it dispels the mists of erroneous desires like a mirage from a dreary desert. But so long as the pageant of the world presents its dusky visage to our view, we do not ask, "What am I, and what are all these beings about me?"
He sees rightly who sees his body as an apparition of error and the abode of evils, unfit to serve for the spiritual meditation of his soul and spirit. He sees rightly who sees his body as the source of the pleasures and pains that beset him at various times and places, and as not answering the purpose of spiritual edification.
He sees rightly who sees the Ego as pervading infinite space and time, and as the source of all the incidents and events which betake him. He knows rightly who knows the Ego to be as minute as the billionth part of the point of a hair, yet filling endless space and limitless time.
He perceives rightly who perceives the universal soul permeating all the objects of his vision, and knows these as sparks of the Light of Intellect. He sees rightly who perceives the omnipotence of the infinite Spirit within himself and the states and conditions of all beings, and sees the self-same Intellect abiding and presiding over all.
He understands rightly who knows that he is not the body subject to disease and danger, fear and anxiety, pain, old age and death. He understands rightly who knows his soul to stretch above, below and all about him, boundless and unequalled in magnitude.
He knows rightly who discerns that the soul is like a thread upon which all things are strung like jewels, and that it is not the mind or heart that is seated in the brain or breast. He knows rightly who views neither himself nor any other thing as existing apart from the imperishable Brahman, and knows himself as living between reality and unreality.
He is wise who beholds the three worlds as but parts of himself, rolling about in him like waves of the sea. He is wise who looks with mercy upon the fragile world and pities the earth as his younger sister.
That Mahatma looks rightly upon the earth who has withdrawn his mind from it and dissolved all reliance on 'I' and 'Thou'. He witnesses the truth who finds himself and the entire world filled with the universal form of Intellect uninterrupted by any phenomena. Considering the states of misery and happiness attending on worldly life as fleeting states of the Ego, he has no cause to repine or rejoice at them. The right-seeing man sees himself amidst a world filled with Divine Spirit, and finds nothing to desire or dislike in this existence. The man of right discernment, having destroyed likes and dislikes, desire and disgust, lives in a world full of the essence of Being that is beyond comprehension and conception. Such a Mahatma becomes Mahadeva, whose soul extends like the all-pervading sky, touching all existences, but untinged by any.
I bow down to that Mahatma who has passed beyond the states of light, darkness and dream, and is established in brilliance and tranquillity amidst supreme bliss. I bow down to that Shiva of transcendental wisdom, wholly enwrapt in meditation upon Eternal Being, who presides over the creation, preservation and destruction of the universe, and who is manifest in all the grandeurs and beauteous wonders of nature.