Yoga Vasistha

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Will
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Yoga Vasistha

Post by Will » Tue Feb 27, 2018 6:15 pm

A very profound text that contains teachings of Rishi Vasistha to Prince Rama the Avatar. It has surprising conceptual similarities with Buddhism in places. The link is to a famous abridgement of this very large work.

https://selfdefinition.org/yoga/Laghu-Y ... -Aiyer.pdf
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

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Will
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Re: Yoga Vasistha

Post by Will » Tue Feb 27, 2018 6:20 pm

Here is a leading scholar, B.L. Atreya, giving five lectures on the text:

https://ia600801.us.archive.org/25/item ... osophy.pdf
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

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Re: Yoga Vasistha

Post by Will » Wed Feb 28, 2018 2:35 am

LECTURE III
THE TYPE OF PERSON FOR WHOM YOGAVASISTHA IS MEANT.
CONSCIOUSNESS OF SUFFERING

THE next point in connection with this great work, Yogavasistha, is: For what kind
of readers is the work meant? Who, in other words, is the adhikari of this Shastra? The
author of the work himself has told us that he is the proper person to study this work who has
become aware of his bondage and longs to be free; he who is no longer in utter ignorance, but
has not yet attained wisdom (I. 2. 1). This, in other words, means that the philosophy of
Vasistha is meant for those on whom the reflective consciousness has dawned and to whom it
has been revealed that life, as it is usually lived, is characterised by bondage, evil and
suffering. The author of the work has depicted the psychology of such persons in the
mentality of Ramchandra, the pupil of Vasistha. Rama begins to reflect over the nature of life
and finds it characterised by evil, bondage and suffering.
He says: What happiness can there be in this world,
where everyone is born to die (I. 12. 7)? Everything comes into existence
only to pass away (I. 12. 8). The joys of life are tantalising; prosperity is another kind of
misery; pleasures are harbingers of pain (VIb. 93. 73). How great fools we are! Although sold
to none, we act as if we are bound and sold slaves. Knowing the vanity of the affairs of life
even, we continue to be whole-heartedly engaged in them like fools (I. 12. 12). Even
knowing well that there cannot be real and lasting joy realised in our life, we foolishly stick
to the hope of having it (I. 12. 13), accumulation of wealth does not make us happy but
miserable, on the other hand.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

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Re: Yoga Vasistha

Post by Will » Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:34 pm

Yogavasistha is thus meant for people who are so keenly alive to the undesirable
aspects of life and so eager to know the secret of freeing it from them.

THE CAUSE AND REMEDY OF SUFFERING

The cause of all suffering, according to Yogavasistha is trisna or desire for worldly
objects. “It stings one like a venomous serpent, cuts like a sword, pierces like a lance, binds
like a rope, burns like fire, blinds like a dark night and grinds down its helpless victim like a
heavy stone. It destroys his wisdom and upsets the balance of his mind, and throws him into
the deep and dark well of infatuation (II. 12. 14). Our longing for worldly objects is due to
our ignorance of the true nature of ourselves and the world. Ignorance is therefore the root,
cause of all suffering. The fountain head of all evils is the lack of Knowledge (VIa. 88. 2).
The best and the most effective remedy for all sufferings is the attainment of wisdom
(Jnana). Sorrows do not approach the wise man who has come to know what ought to be
known, and has the right attitude towards all things (II. 11. 41). Wisdom is the only way to
cross over the ocean of the world (II. 10. 22).
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

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Re: Yoga Vasistha

Post by Will » Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:47 pm

SELF EFFORT VERSUS DESTINY

Wisdom or true knowledge which is the ultimate remedy of all sufferings of life can
be attained only by making efforts for its attainment. It does not come of itself nor does any
agency like destiny bring it unto ourselves. We have to make ceaseless and earnest efforts not
only to acquire wisdom, but also to obtain anything else in life. There is nothing like fate or
destiny making us miserable or happy in spite of ourselves. We are the makers of our own
destiny by our own efforts. There is no other way to bring about the end of all misery than
one’s own efforts (purushartha) (III. 6. 14). There is hardly anything in existence which is
not attainable through right and earnest exertion (III. 4. 8). One gets only what one has
striven for, nothing is ever achieved by sitting idle (II. 7. 19). Everyone is his own friend or
enemy, if one does not save oneself, nobody else can save him (VIb. 162. 18)

Those who depend upon fate for getting their desired objects and do not exert
themselves are their own enemy. They depend upon a thing which neither does exist nor does
bring about anything. There is none among the brave, the successful, the learned and the
wise, whoever wants for destiny (II. 8. 17). They who always depend on fate, lose all their
merit, wealth and enjoyments (II. 7. 3). The fools who believe that everything is in the hands
of destiny are utterly ruined (II. 5. 29).

Fate (daiva) is a nonentity. There does not exist anything like fate (II. 5. 18). It is
absolutely unreal (II. 9. 3). Fate does not do anything; it exists only in imagination (II. 9. 3).
Apart from a consolatory contrivance fate has no reality of its own (II. 9. 15).

Our fate or destiny is nothing but the inevitable consequences of our own already
accomplished efforts.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

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Re: Yoga Vasistha

Post by Will » Wed Mar 07, 2018 5:53 pm

The first step in Rama's Path toward Liberation is disgust with worldly life; here is a sample of his thinking:
3 Since I was born in this my father’s palace, I have remained here, grown up, and received my
education. 4 Then, O leader of sages, desiring to learn good customs, I set out to travel to holy places
all over this sea-surrounded earth. 5 By this time, a series of reflections arose in my mind that shook
my confidence in worldly objects. 6 I employed my mind to discriminate the nature of things, which
gradually led me to discard all thoughts of sensual enjoyments.

7 What are worldly pleasures good for, and why do men multiply on earth? Men are born to die, and
they die to be born again. 8 There is no stability in the tendencies of beings whether movable or
immovable. They all tend to vice, decay and danger, and all our possessions become the grounds of our poverty.

9 All objects of sense are detached from each other like iron rods from one another. It is only
imagination which attaches them to our minds. 10 It is the mind that pictures the existence of the world
as a reality, but if we know the deceptiveness of the mind, we are safe from such deception. 11 If the
world is an unreality, it is a pity that ignorant men should be allured by it, like deer tempted by a
distant mirage of water. 12 We are sold by none, yet we are enslaved to the world. Knowing this well,
we are spell-bound with riches, as if by a magic wand. 13 What are the enjoyments in
this essence but misery? Yet we are foolishly caught in its thoughts, like bees caught in honey.

14 Ah! After long, I perceive that we have insensibly fallen into errors, like senseless stags falling into
pits in the wilderness. 15 Of what use is royalty and these enjoyments to me? What am I and where
do all these things come from? They are only vanities. Let them continue as such without any good or
loss to anybody. 16 Reasoning in this manner, O holy brahmin, I came to be disgusted with the world,
like a traveler in a desert.
Section 1, chapter 12
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

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