Chudala: Chapter 10, Spiritual Ego
Returning consciousness to the Community, Chudala opened her eyes to find Kotari-devi present. “This has been a very interesting experience! I found Michael and he has really changed physically. But he is a bit less arrogant now and very interested in what I have to say, at least when he thinks I am not the one talking! At one point he mentioned that Kumbha looks like his wife! I was surprised, but now I see there is a family resemblance – Kumbha has my eyes and nose and mouth for sure.”
“But he did not indicate that he knew you were Kumbha?” Said Kotari-devi.
“No, and we had a very good discussion. I am going back for more teaching now. He is very receptive.” Chudala said. Then she closed her eyes and returned to India.
“As a boy obeys the words of his father, knowing it to be pronounced for his certain good, so must you receive my words. Believe that my advice is all only for your good. Hear them with proper attention. Listen to my words as you hear music, without inquiring into their reason or rhyme. Let me tell you an interesting story of a certain person whose conduct and character in every way resembled yours, and who was brought back to his sense after long going astray. This is a tale to dispel the worldly cares and fears of the intelligent.” Kumbha said.
“Once there lived a rich man who combined the opposite qualities of charity and poverty in his character, just as the sea contains water and undersea fires in its depth. He was skilled in arts as he was practiced in arms. He was restrained in all dealings as he was expert in business. But his great worldly ambition to which he devoted all his pursuits kept him from the spiritual knowledge of the most high. He employed all his endeavors to obtain the imaginary gem of the philosopher’s stone (chintamani), just as the undersea fire wants to devour the waters and dry up the sea bed.”
“After a lapse of a long time, his great enthusiasm and persevering patience succeeded in bringing him the precious gem at last, because there is nothing which may not be produced by man’s ardent zeal. His attempts were successful because of his unwearied labor joined with firm resolution and a well-directed plan. Using such means, even the meanest man is favored with fortune. He saw the stone lying before him, ready to be grasped in his hand, like a hermit sitting on a mountain peak thinks he can easily grab the rising moon with his hand. He saw the brilliant gem before him, but became mistrustful of his sight and the reality of the object, like a poor man, hearing of his sudden elevation to royalty, mistrusts the report and doubts that it was meant for him. The rich man was immersed in his thoughts of amazement for a long time.”
“Overlooking and neglecting to lay hold of his great gain, he kept questioning in his mind in the following manner. “
“The rich man thought: ‘Whether this stone is a gem or not, and if so, whether it be the philosopher’s stone or any other, I fear that if I touch it, it will fly away or be soiled. Until this time, no one has obtained the long-sought philosopher’s stone. If ever anyone obtained it, the Shastra scriptures say it would be in his next life. No doubt only my miserliness makes me wrongly see this brilliant gem before me with my eyes, like a short-sighted man seeing a flashing firebrand and deep-laid moon in the sky. How could the tide of my fortune run so high at once that I should succeed so soon to obtain the precious stone that is the splendor and height of perfection and which produces all treasure? There must be few, very few indeed, fortunate men who can expect their good fortune to court and wait on them at such little pain in such a short time. I am only a poor and honest man possessed of very little qualification, worth or account among mankind. It is impossible that so miserable a wretch could ever be blessed with this masterpiece of perfection.’”
Chudala (as Kumbha) continues: “For a long time the unbelieving rich man hung in a state of suspense between his certainty and uncertainty. He was so infatuated by his mental blindness that he did not even stretch out his hand to lay hold on the jewel lying openly before him. Hence, whatever is obtainable by anyone at any time is often missed and lost sight of because of either his ignorance or negligence of it, just as the precious gem in the parable, the sought-after object that lay tangible in full view. As the rich man was hanging undecided, frozen by his suspicion, the precious gem flew away and vanished from his sight, just as the deserving man avoids his critic, an arrow flies from its string, or a stone from its sling-shot.”
“When prosperity appears to a man, she confers on him her blessings of wisdom and prudence. But as prosperity forsakes her foolish devotee, she deprives him of all his discretion. The man tried again to invoke and recall the precious gem to his presence, because the persevering spirit is never tired of trying again and again for his expected success. He came to behold before him a brittle piece of glass, shining with its false glare like the former gem. This glass was placed before him by the invisible hands of a spiritual master who had come to tempt him and deride his folly. The fool thought this brittle thing lying before him was the real gem, just as an ignorant fool believes sparkling sands to be pure gold dust.”
“Such is the case with the deluded mind. It mistakes eight for six and foe for a friend. It sees a serpent in a rope and views desert land as a watery expanse. It drinks poison as if it was nectar and spies another moon in the sky in the reflection of the true one. The rich man took up that fraudulent worthless imitation for a real gem. He thought it was the philosopher’s stone which would confer on him whatever he desired. With this belief he gave all he had to charity as they were no use to him anymore.”
“He thought his own country was devoid of everything that was delightful to him. He thought the society of its people were debasing to him. He thought his lost house was of no use of him and that his relatives and friends were averse to his happiness. Thinking like this, he determined to remove himself to a distant country and enjoy his rest there. So taking his false gem with him, he went out and entered an uninhabited forest. There his deceptive gem was of no use to him. It loaded him with all imaginable disasters, like the gloomy shadow of a black mountain and the horrid gloom of deep ignorance.”
“The afflictions brought on by one’s own ignorance are far greater than those caused by old age or the torments of death. The calamity of ignorance, like black hairs covering the crown of the head, supersedes all other earthly afflictions.” Kumbha concludes.
Kumbha says: “Michael, let me tell you another very interesting story which well applies to you, and which will serve to awaken your understandings.”
“There lived a large elephant in the Vindhya Hills. It was the leader of a great number of elephants, and in its big and elevated head, its understanding was as clear as the lofty summit of the mountain that was humbled down at the bidding of sage Agastya. His two tusks were as strong as the thunderbolts of heaven, and as long and stunning as far reaching flashes of lightning. They were as destructive as the flames of the final destruction and so powerfully sharp that they could bore and uproot a mountain.”
“The elephant came to be caught in an iron trap laid by elephant catchers. He was fast held by it just like the Vindhya by sage Agastya’s charm, and just as the giant Bali was bound by the chains of Vamana.”
“The captive and patient elephant was tormented by an iron goad in his trunk. He suffered excruciating pains of his torture, like Tripurasura under the burning fire arrow of Shiva. For three days the elephant lay in this sad plight, watched by his hunter from a distance. The great suffering of the elephant made him open his mouth wide and utter a loud scream that growled like the loud noise of roaring clouds.”
“Then he exerted the force of both his tusks and thereby managed to break the iron bar, just as Bali of old broke open the bolts of the gate of heaven. From a distance, the hunter saw the infuriated beast breaking his hard fetters, just as Lord Vishnu saw the demon Bali breaking out from his underground cell beneath the mountain in order to invade his heaven on high. The elephant catcher climbed a tall palm tree, then jumped from its top in an attempt to land on the elephant’s head, but unfortunately, he fell on the ground, just as the demon was hurled down to hell by the victorious Vishnu. The hunter missed the head of the huge animal, instead falling headlong at his feet, just as a ripe fruit is dropped by hurrying winds.”
“Seeing the hunter falling and lying prostrate before him, the great elephant took pity, just as the noble mind is compassionate on others even in their own piteous state. The noble animal thought that it was no bravery on his part to trample over the self-fallen. Thus, he had the magnanimity of sparing the life of his own enemy. He broke only his chains and took his way leaving all obstacles and barriers, just as rushing waters bear down the strongest bridge. His strength broke the strong net, but his piety spared the life of the weak man. He went off just like the setting sun after dispelling evening clouds.”
“After he saw the elephant had gone away, the hunter got up from the ground. He found that he was as safe and sound after his fall as he had been before it, just as the elephant had been relieved of his pains after breaking his chains. In spite of the great impact of falling from the tall palm tree, the hunter felt no hurt in any part of his body, which is why I think that the bodies of scoundrels are fortified against every harm. The wicked gain greater strength by execution of their repeated crimes, just as rainy clouds gather the more by their frequent showers. Thus, the hunter renewed his hunt.”
“The elephant catcher felt very sorry at his failed attempt to catch the elephant, like the dejection of one who lost a treasure that had fallen into his grasp. He sought about and beat the forest looking for the elephant hiding in the thickets, just as Rahu (the north node of the moon) rises in the sky to lay hold of the moon covered under clouds. After a long search, he saw the elephant resting under a shady tree, like a warrior returned from the battlefield.”
“The cunning huntsmen collected a great many tools to trap the elephant at his resting place. Near that place in the forest, he dug a round ditch, just as the great creator of the world stretched the ocean to encircle this earth. Then he covered the great pit with green branches and leaves, just as autumn covers the face of the empty sky with fleecy and flimsy clouds.”
“One day the elephant was roaming at large in the forest and fell into the pit like a fragment of a rock on the coast falls headlong onto the sea shore. The big elephant was caught in the round pit which was deep as the dreadful sea. He lay confined in it like some treasure is shut up in the hollow womb of a chest. Trapped in the bottom of that far extending pit, the elephant passed his time in endless trouble and anxiety, like the demon Bali in his dark, underground cave. This is the result of the silly elephant letting his cruel hunter go unhurt. Once before the hunter had caught him. If the elephant had made an end of him then, he would not have fallen into the pit to be caught a second time.”
“All foolish people, not having the foresight and precaution to prevent mishaps in the future, are greatly exposed to calamity like the Vindhyan elephant. The elephant was happy with the thought of his freedom from the hunter’s chains. He did not think about any future mishap far away, and that was the only cause for his entrapment.”
“Know, O great soul, that there is no bondage of man except his own ignorance. Not even prisoners in jail are under such bondage as the intellectual servitude of freemen under their errors and prejudice. The greatest freedom of man is enlightenment of the soul and knowledge of the cosmos as one Universal Soul. Ignorance of this truth is the root of the slavery of mankind to the errors of this world.” Kumbha concludes his discourse.
“Dear Kumbha, please explain the meaning of the parables of the true and false gems, and the unchained and tied up elephant, which you just told me.” Michael said.
“Listen as I expound on the meaning of my stories and their words. I have stored them in your heart and mind for the sake of enlightening your understanding.” Kumbha said.
“That searcher after the philosopher’s stone undoubtedly was acquainted with science, but he had no knowledge of the truth. He searched for the gem but he did not know what it was. That man is you. You are versed in the sciences like the rich man in the story, and you shine above others like the shining sun on mountain tops. But you do not have the peace and quiet derived from the knowledge of truth. You are immersed in your errors like a block of stone in water.”
“Michael, you must know that the philosopher’s stone is to give up errors. Try to get that in your possession and with that set yourself above the reach of misery. The renunciation of gross objects produces the pure joy of holiness. The abandonment of the world gives one sovereignty over his soul which is reckoned as the true philosopher’s stone. Abandonment of all is the highest perfection, which you must soon practice, because indifference towards worldly grandeur shows the greatest magnanimity of the soul.”
“You have forsaken your life as a wealthy man, together with your loving wife, relatives and friends. You have rested in your renunciation like Brahma, the lord of creatures, rested at night after completing his act of creation. You have gone far from your country to this distant cave, like the bird of heaven, the great Garuda, flew with his prey, the tortoise, to the farthest mountain of earth.”
“With your abandonment of all worldly goods, you have renounced your egotism and cleansed your nature from every stain, just as autumn winds disperse clouds from the sky. Know that only by driving away the egoism of the mind and all desires from the heart does one get his perfection, the fullness of the world, and perfect bliss.”
“But you have been laboring under the ignorance of what is to be abandoned and what is to be retained, just as the sky labors under clouds. It is not abandonment of the world which gives you that highest joy that you seek. You must seek something else. When the mind is infested by its thoughts and the heart is corroded by the sores of its desire, all renunciation flies away like the stillness of a forest flies before a storm. Of what use is the abandonment of the world to one whose mind is ever infested by his troublesome thoughts? It is impossible for a tree exposed to the storms of the sky to be at rest.”
“Thoughts constitute the mind, which is only another name for will or desire. So long as these are raging in a person, it is in vain to talk of controlling the mind. The mind, occupied by its busy thoughts, in an instant finds the three worlds presenting themselves before it. Therefore, what is the use of abandoning this world when the infinite worlds of the universe are present before the mind?”
“Renunciation flies on swift wings as soon as the mind entertains a desire, like a bird flying away as soon as it hears a noise. Detachment is the main object for abandoning the world, but when you allow a care to rankle in your breast, you bid a farewell to your renunciation, just as one bids farewell to his honored and invited guest. After you have let the precious gem of renunciation slip from your hand, you have chosen the false, glossy trifle of austerity for some fond wish that is desirable in your view.”
“I see your mind is fixed upon willful pains of your austerities, just as the sight of a deluded man is fixed upon on the moon’s reflection in water. Forsaking the detachment of your mind, you have followed the cravings of your heart and chosen to live like a hermit, denying bodily passions, which is full of suffering from first to last. He who forsakes the easy task of devotion to God, which is filled with infinite bliss, in order to undertake painful austerities is said to make a suicide of his own soul.”
“You took a vow of self-renunciation by renouncing all your earthly possessions. But instead of observing renunciation, you attached yourself to painful asceticism in this dreary wilderness. You broke the bonds of your home and moved away from its boundaries thinking they were too painful for you. But tell me, are you not constrained here to the far more unbearable and strong chains of rigid imprisonment and tiresome struggles of your asceticism?”
“I think you are much more involved in the care of defending yourself from heat and cold in this forest, and that you are bound more tightly to your rigors than you had any idea of before you left your kingdom. Before you vainly thought to have obtained the philosopher’s stone, but at last you must find that your gain is not worth even a glass trinket.”
“Now sage, I have given you a full interpretation of the eagerness of a man to pocket the invaluable gem. No doubt you have comprehended its right meaning. Now store its meaning in the casket of your mind.” Kumbha said, then after a brief pause, he continues.
“Michael, now hear me explain the meaning of the story of the Vindhyan elephant, which will be as useful to you as it will appear wonderful.”
“That elephant of the Vindhyan range is you in this forest. His two strong tusks are no other than the two virtues of reasoning and renunciation on which you lay your strength. The hunter who was the elephant’s enemy and trapped him is the personification of the great ignorance that has laid hold of you for your misery only. Even the strong is foiled by the weak, led from one danger to another and from sorrow to sorrow just like the strong elephant was led by the weak hunter, and as you are led by your imbecilic ignorance in this forest.” Maybe I am being a little bit too harsh, thought Chudala. But I need to antagonize his huge ego so it will fight and I can destroy it!
“As the mighty elephant was caught in the strong iron chain, so you are held tightly in the trap of your desire which has brought all this calamity on you. Man’s expectation is the iron chain. Expectations are stronger, harder and more durable than the metal. Iron rusts and wastes away in time, but our expectations rise high and hold us faster. The hunter marked the elephant by remaining unseen in his hiding place. In the same way your ignorance lurks from a distance after you, marking you for his prey.”
“As the elephant broke the bonds of his enemy’s iron chains, so have you broken the ties of your peaceful rule and the bonds of your royalty and enjoyments.”
“Michael, it is sometimes possible to break the bonds of iron chains, but it is impossible to stop our growing desires and fond expectations.”
“The hunter who caught the elephant in the trap fell from on high to the ground. So was your ignorance also leveled to the ground, seeing you deprived of your wealth, wife and all your former dignity. When a man who is disgusted with the world wants to relinquish his desire of enjoyment, he makes his ignorance tremble, just as a demon who lives in a tree quakes with fear when the tree is felled.”
“When a self-resigned man remains devoid of desire for temporal enjoyments, he bids farewell to his ignorance, which quits him like the demon leaves his fallen tree. 13 A man getting rid of his animal gratifications demolishes the abode of his ignorance from the mind, just like a wood-cutter destroys the bird nests in the tree which he has cut down. No doubt you have put down your ignorance by renouncing your royalty and resorting to this forest. Of course, your mind is cast down, but it is not yet destroyed by the sword of your renunciation. It rises again and gains renewed strength. Minding its former defeat, it has at last overpowered you by confining you in this wilderness and restraining you in the painful prison of your false asceticism.”
“If you can kill your fallen ignorance in any way, it will not be able to destroy you in your rigorous penance, though it has reduced you to this plight by your abdication of royalty. The ditch that the hunter dug to encircle and trap the elephant is this painful pit of austerity which your ignorance has dug to capture you. The many provisions and supplies the hunter placed over the ditch to entice the elephant are the very many expectations of future reward which your ignorance presents as reward for your penitence.”
“Michael, though you are not the ignorant elephant, yet you are not unlike it, being cast in this forest by your incorrigible ignorance. The ditch for the elephant truly was filled with tender plants and leaves for the elephant’s fodder, but your cave is full of rigorous austerities which no humanity can bear or tolerate. You are still caged in this prison house of the ascetic’s cell, doomed to undergo all the imagined torments of your penance and martyrdom. You truly resemble fallen Bali confined in his underground cell. No doubt you are the empty-headed elephant, fast bound in the chain of false rigors and imprisoned in this cave of your ignorance.”
“Thus, I have given a full exposition of the parable of the elephant of the Vindhya Hills. Now from this, pick out the best lesson for yourself.” Kumbha finishes his explanation.”
I cannot seem to get a rise out of him! Chudala thought. Let’s see how he reacts to this next question.
“Tell me Michael, what made you decline to accept the advice of your wife, Amanda, who is equally skilled in morality as well as in divine knowledge? She is an adept among those who know the truth. She actually practices all that she preaches to others. Her words are the dictates of truth. They deserve to be received with due deference. You rejected her advice because of over confidence in your own judgment. Yet let me know, why did she not prevent you from parting with everything?” Said Kumbha.
“But I ask you another question, and I hope you will answer. Why do you say that I have not renounced everything when I have resigned my wealth, my home and my country, and when I have left my wife behind?” Said Michael.
This guy is totally in his head and his ego is as big as a house! Thought Chudala.
“Michael, you say truly that you have forsaken your wealth and home, your lands and relatives, and even your wife, but that does not make your renunciation complete since none of these truly belong to you. They come of themselves and they go away from man. Only your egoism is yours, and that you have not yet gotten rid of. You have not yet abandoned your egoism; which abandonment is the greatest delight of your soul. You cannot get rid of your sorrows until you are quite free from your egoistic feelings.” Kumbha said.
“You say that my kingdom and possessions were not mine. Now all I have is this forest and these rocks and trees and shrubs. If I am willing to quit all these, would that be complete renunciation?” Michael said.
I am just going to let him stew in his own juices for a while, let’s see what he says next. Chudala thought.
Hearing these words of the brahmin boy Kumbha, the conqueror of senses, Michael held also silence for a while, and returned no answer. He wiped off his attachment to the forest from his heart. He made up his mind to move away immediately.
“Now sage, I am resolved to leave this forest and bid farewell to all its caves and trees. Tell me, does this renunciation of everything from my absolute renunciation of all things?” Michael said.
“The foot of this mountain with all its woodlands, trees and caverns are not your property but are common to all. Then how can forsaking them be your absolute renunciation at all? YOU STILL HAVE NOT FORSAKEN YOUR EGOISM. You must get rid of your ego in order to be freed from the cares and sorrows of this earthly world. If none of these things are yours, then how can total renunciation come from resigning these things?” Said Kumbha. “Sorry for shouting.”
Michael thought he had become awaked to his senses by Kumbha’s admonitions, ignoring his loud statement about the ego. For a moment he remained silent while the light of his ego shone within him. His ego championed his decision to do all that is unimportant. Just so as he does not touch the ego!
“Sage, I have taken this hermitage from my heart. I have forsaken my attachment to all its sacred, covered shelters and trees. Therefore, consider me as having resigned my all and everything in world.” Michael said.
Kumbha replied: “How can I consider you as fully resigned by resigning these gardens and trees and everything else belonging to them? None of them belongs to you. You are not their owner and you do not deserve them in any way. You have another thing that you must forsake, and that is the greatest and best thing that has fallen to your lot in this world. It must be by your renunciation of that thing that you can set yourself free from all. Perhaps you are deaf. Have you not heard me speaking today?”
Michael said, as if he did not hear Kumbha’s words: “If even this is not the all that I have and which you want me to resign, then take these earthen pots and basins, these hides and skins, and my cave also. Know that I will renounce all this forever and I will take myself elsewhere.”
Chudala could not help smiling in amazement as she saw Michael’ motions and movements, just as the sun laughs from above to see the foolish attempts of men on the earth below. Through Kumbha, Chudala looked steadily at Michael and thought: Let him do whatever he likes. All this is ego play. Maybe we will get lucky and after he does all this, he will realize what a fool he is!
Michael then brought out all his sacred vessels and seats from his cave, collecting them all in one place like the great ocean yielding up all her submerged treasures after the great flood was over. Having collecting them in a pile, he set fire to them with dried fuel like the sunstone or glass igniting the combustible. The sacred vessels and goods were set on fire and burnt down. Michael left them behind and sat on a seat beside Kumbha, just as the sun sets on Mount Meru after he had burnt down in the world by the fire of dissolution.
Michael said to his prayer beads, “You have been a trusted friend to me, your master, as long as I turn you on my fingers, counting beads. And though I have turned you over and over with my sacred mantras in these forests, yet you have been of no service to me at all. And though I have travelled with you, O my sacred casket, and I have seen many holy places in your company, still you have proved to be no good to me. I now resign you to the flames.”
The burning fire rose in flames and flashes in the sky appearing like glittering stars. Then he took his deerskin seat and threw it on the fire saying, “For so long I have carried you on my back like an ignorant stag. My ignorance made me hold onto you for so long. Now you are at liberty to go your own way. May peace and bliss attend you forever. Ascend with the rising fire to heaven and twinkle there like the stars.” So saying he took off his hide garment from his body and committed it to the flames.
Michael’s funeral pyre spread like a sea of fire driven about by winds blowing from the mountains. Then he thought also of throwing his water pot into the fire.
He said to it, “You sage, who bore sacred water for all my sacred functions, O my good water pot, it is true that I do not have the power of properly compensating you for your past services. You were the best model of true friendship, good nature, benevolence and constancy, and the best example of goodness and all good qualities in your great bounty. O you my water pot, who was the receptacle of all goodness to me, now depart your own way by your purification in the same sacred fire in which I first found you (the potter’s fire). May your ways all be blissful to you!” So saying he cast his water pot into the consecrated fire.
“All good things are to be given to the good or to the fire, but all bad things are cast off like the dust of the earth as foolish men fall to the ground by their secret craft. It is well for you, my low mattress, to be put to fire and reduced to worthless ashes.” So saying, he took up his mattress and cast it into the flaming fire. Soon the seat on which he used to sit in his pure meditation on God was committed to the flames, because it is better to give up something quickly if one has to get rid of it soon anyway, Michael’s ego thought.
“This, my alms-pot, which contained the best articles of food presented to me by good people, I now commit to this flame with whatever it has in it. The fire burns a thing only once, until the burnt article ceases to burn anymore. Therefore, I shun all the implements of my ceremonial rites in order to set me free from the bondage of all actions for ever more. Be not sorry that I forsake you, for who is there that will bear things that are unworthy of himself?”
So saying, he threw all his cooking vessels, the plates and dishes of his kitchen, and everything else he needed or used in his hermitage into the fire. All these burned in a blaze like the world burning with all destructive fire of the final dissolution.
Michael then rose up and set fire to his hut of dry leaves and grass.
Oh, good grief! Thought Chudala. Ego is totally in charge of this guy.
Whatever else was left of the hermit possessions, Michael took them all, one after the other, and set fire to them with his composed and unconcerned mind, observing a strict silence all the while. He burnt and broke down everything, throwing away his food and preserved condiments, his clothes and everything else with a quite content state of his mind. The hermitage was desolate, having been a human home awhile before.
Frightened deer, afraid of the burning fire, left their beds where they had been laying and chewing cud at their ease and fled far away to distant deserts, just as townsmen flee from a burning quarter to distant places. Seeing all the vessels and utensils burning, fueled by dry wood on all sides, Michael seemed to remain quite content and careless amid the scene, retaining possession only of his body. Of course, his ego thought it is very clever at diverting attention away from itself with all this grandstanding.
Michael said, “Now I am an all-abandoning saint. I have abandoned all desire and every object. I wonder how I have lived for so long before being awakened to my right knowledge by the holy lectures of my heavenly child. I have now become a pure and perfect unit, quite conscious of the indescribable joy in myself. What use to me are all these attachments and objects of my ever-varying desires?”
“As the knots of the rope that bind the soul to this world are cut and fall off one after the other, so the mind comes to feel its quiet composure until it attains its ultimate rest and inaction. I am quite composed and at perfect ease with the extinction of my desires. I am joyous and rejoice in myself. My ties are all broken and fallen away from me. At last I have fully accomplished the abandonment of all things. I have become as naked as the open sky and as roofless as the dome of the void. I see the wide world as an expanse of emptiness and myself as a nothingness within the whole emptiness.”
“Say, O divine boy, is there anything still lacking in my complete renunciation of everything?” Michael asked.
Kumbha replied: “Yet you must be aware, Michael, that you are never released from all the bonds of this life by your renunciation of every physical thing that relates to the mortal and transitory state of your being. By the abandonment of the innumerable seeds and sprouts of fond desires which constantly rise like thistles and thorns in the human breast, I see the gravity and purity of the nature of your soul is placed far above the reach and knowledge of the common people.”
On hearing these words of Kumbha, Michael reflected on its meaning for a short while. He spoke these words in reply: “Tell me, O heaven born child! What else do you see remaining in me, other than the serpentine entrails within me and its supporting body composed of a heap of flesh, blood and bones? If this body is reckoned as an extension of myself, then I will climb to the top of this mountain and let it fall to be dashed to pieces on the ground. Thus, I will get rid of my mortal part forever.”
Saying so, as he was proceeding to sacrifice his body on the craggy hill before him, he was interrupted by his teacher Kumbha, who spoke to him as follows: “What are you are going to do? Why do you want to destroy your innocent body leaping from that hideous height like an enraged bull hurling its calf down a cliff? What is this body but a lump of dull and gross matter, a dumb and poor painstaking thing. It never does you any harm, nor can you ever find any fault in it. Then why do you vainly wish to destroy something so harmless and faultless? The body itself is a dull and dumb thing. It always remains in a torpid meditative mood. It is moved to and fro by other agencies, like a floating plank tossed up and down by the currents and waves of the sea. He who hurts or annoys his inoffensive lady deserves to be punished with torture, like a cruel villain who robs and annoys a holy saint sitting in his solitary cell. The body is quite guiltless of all the pain and pleasure that befall the living soul by turns, just as the tree is wholly unconcerned with the fall of its fruits and leaves dropped by the blowing winds. You see wind gusts blowing down flowers, fruit and leaves from trees. Then tell me, how you can charge an innocent tree with the fault of letting its best produce fall?”
“Know for certain that even the sacrifice of your body is not enough to completely renounce all things. Renunciation of everything is not an easy matter. You intend to destroy this inoffensive body of yours in vain. Getting rid of your body does not cause your renunciation or freedom.”
“Your body has an enemy which agitates it like an elephant shaking a huge tree. If you can only get rid of this mortal enemy of your body and soul, then you are then said to be free from all. Now, by avoiding this deep-rooted enemy of yours, you are freed from the bondage of your body and everything else in this world. Otherwise, no matter how you may kill your body, you can never put a stop to its rebirth.”
Michael replied: “Then what is it that agitates the body? What is the root of our reincarnations and of the doings and sufferings of our future lives? What is it that by avoiding it, we avoid and forsake everything in the world?”
Kumbha replied: “Know, Michael, that forsaking your wealth or your body, burning your hut and possessions, or all these things taken together, cannot constitute your renunciation of everything. That which is all and everywhere is the one and only cause of everything. One renounces all by resigning everything in that sole existent being.”
Michael said, “You are saying that there is an all existent situated in everything, and to whom all things are to be resigned at all times. Now sage, you who know the all, what is this all or combination of everything?”
Kumbha replied: “Michael, this all-pervading being is known under various names like the living soul jiva, the life force prana, and many others. It is neither an active or inactive principle. It is called the mind which is ever liable to error. Know that the mind is the seat of illusion that by itself makes the man. It is the essential constituent of every person and the mirror of all these worlds in itself. Know the mind is the source of your body and properties. Know also that it is the root of your hermitage and everything else, just as one tree bears the seed of others. Therefore, if you give up this seed of all events, then you really resign everything in the world which is contained in and depends on this primary seed and mainspring, the mind. All possible and impossible renunciation depends upon renunciation of the mind.”
“The man who is subject to his mind is always subject to cares, both when he is attentive to his duties or negligent of them, or whether he rules his kingdom or flies from it to a forest. But the man of a well governed mind is quite content in every condition of life. The mind revolves constantly. It evolves itself into the forms of the body and its limbs, just as a minute seed displays itself in the shape of a tree and its branches and leaves. As trees are shaken by winds, as mountains are shaken by earthquakes, and as waves are blown by air, so the animated body is moved about by the mobile force of the mind.”
“These miserable mortals who are born to death and decay, those happy few who live to enjoy the pleasures of life, and the great sages with staunch hearts and souls are alike bound to their minds. The mind acts its different roles in all the various forms and figures on the stage that is this world. It shows its gestures in the motions of the body. It lives and breathes in the shape of the living spirit. It thinks and reflects in the form of the mind. It takes different names like the understanding buddhi, consciousness, egoism, life or prana, and the intellect according to its different internal functions in the body. It is called the silent soul when it is without any action assigned to it. The mind is said to be the all in all. By getting released of the mind, we are released of all diseases and dangers. Then we are said to have avoided and abandoned everything. O you who wants to know what renunciation is, you must know that renunciation of the mind is renunciation of all. If you succeed renouncing your mind, you come to know the truth and feel the true joy of your soul.”
“Rid your mind, you get rid of the unity and duality of creeds and come to perceive all diversities and pluralities blend in one universal whole which is transcendental tranquility, transparent purity, and undiminished joy. The mind is the field for everyone’s career in this world. But if this field is overgrown with thorns and brambles, how can you expect to grow rice in it?”
“The mind shows its manifold aspects and plays its many parts at will. It turns and moves in the forms of things, just as waters roll in the shapes of waves. The abandonment of all things by renouncing your mind will add to your joy. In the matter of self-renunciation, you have been on the same footing as other men in that you resign whatever you dislike and want to have something for which you have a liking.”
“He who connects all the worlds with himself, like a thread connecting pearls in a necklace, is the man who possesses everything by renouncing all things from himself. The soul is unattached to all things, yet it connects and passes through them all like the thread of the Divine Soul connects the worlds like a string of pearls. The soul with no attachment to the world is like lamp without oil that soon burns out into darkness. But the spirit that is warm with its affections is like lamp with oil that burns with universal love and enlightens all objects around it. The Lord who lives aloof from all resembles a lamp without oil in darkness, but the same Lord manifesting himself in all things resembles the lamp with oil that lights every object.”
“After you have renounced all your possessions, you still remain by yourself. In the same way, after you have renounced your body, mind and all, you still have your consciousness, which you can never get rid of. You have burned all your possessions but you have not burned any part of your body. In the same way, by your renunciation of all things, you cannot resign yourself or your soul. That would amount to nirvana or utter extinction.”
“Total renunciation means emptying the soul of all its worldly attachments. Then the soul becomes the seat of all knowledge, the ethereal paradise of hosts of celestial beings. Total renunciation is like the fountain of youth that drives away all fear of disease and death with a single drink. The soul remains untouched by the cares of the world, just as the clear sky is not colored by spots of clouds. Again, total renunciation is the complete abandonment of all affections. It gives a man his true greatness and glory. As you get rid of your temporary affections, so you get the stability of your understanding and the firmness of your determination.”
“Total renunciation, the abandonment of all, is filled with perfect delight. Its contrary is attended with extreme misery. This is a certain truth. Knowing this, choose what you think is best for you. He who gives away his belongings in this life comes to possess them again in his future state, just as rivers that pour their waters into the sea are again filled by flood tide. After complete renunciation in the mind, its emptiness is filled with full knowledge of them, like an empty box that holds rich gems and jewels, which is highly gratifying to the soul.”
“It was by virtue of his renunciation of all things in the mind that Sakyamuni, the Lord Buddha, became brave and fearless amidst the troubles of the Kali Age and sat as firm as a rock. Total renunciation of all things is equivalent to acquiring all prosperity because the Lord gives everything to he who dedicates and devotes his all to Him.”
“Michael, after your abandonment of all things you have become as quiet as the calm atmosphere. Now try to be as graceful as the graceful moon by the pleasantness of your manners. Now, O high minded, forget your renunciation of all things in this hermitage. Drive away the pride of your total abandonment of all that you had, and be of a clear and pleasing countenance.” Kumbha concludes his discourse.
Michael has developed a spiritual ego and that will be difficult to cure. This sort of thing happens overtime when someone meditates incorrectly for many years. The normal ego morphs into a new kind of beast that is very difficult to work with. Thought Chudala. I am going to ask Dr. Tabo for his advice.