12 Years to get it? This is the story of Kacha, from the Yoga Vāsiṣṭha
Vāsiṣṭha tells this story to Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu
Kacha was the son of Brihaspati, who was a very great teacher. He asked his father to teach him how to move beyond the cares of daily life into the transcendent or enlightened state.
His Dad said, “Well, that is not easy… it’s a great responsibility, and it takes a great deal of renunciation. Really, you have to let go of what you suppose makes life comfortable.”
He could have warned him that at the present, his son did not have the understanding to take in what he had just said. But he didn’t. He let him find out for himself.
Well, Kacha was enthusiastic, and so he plunged into what his father seemed to have pointed to – a life of severe renunciation. He went to the forest and lived there for eight years, living an austere life, as you might imagine.
After 8 years, his father visited him. We could imagine that he said, “Ho there, young lad… how is this life of renunciation going?”
Kacha gave him the proper deference of both a son to his father, and a student to his teacher, and said (or might have said), “Horrible. I have been practising this renunciation and nothing much has changed. I still have the same stresses as I had before I started. I don’t think this is working.”
Ever enigmatic, his father said, “You have to give up everything.” And left him.
“Everything!” Kacha (might have) said to himself. “What else is there?”
So he took his renunciation even further. Not even a loin cloth, not even any tree bark for shelter, he lived under the open sky on the subsistence the forest gave him – probably for another three years. Then he sought out his father again, saying that he was still beset with worries and could not find the perfect stillness that he had sought.
His father saw that at last Kacha would be able to take in what he could have told him years ago.
He said, “All great beings have come to the realisation that it is the mind itself that brings the trouble and strife, and it is realising the nature of the mind that frees one from it. That’s what renunciation is.”
So Kacha contemplated (probably for another year… ) “All this time,” he thought, “I have been enquiring into what mind is and have not been able to reach a conclusion. If the body with its parts is different from the mind, then all our efforts to separate them both are useless; for how can I separate the mind and the body, while they are themselves different from one another anyway?” Still not getting it, he approached his father again.
Brihaspati said: “The wise who have understood what mind is, say that it is nothing else but the idea of “I”. The idea of I, that exists within all creatures, is the impure mind.”
Kacha said, “Whoa!! That’s a bit hard to grasp! How can anyone get that?”
Brihaspati replied: “Pains, eg anxiety and worry, do not really exist. It is very easy to remove this ahamkara, the mind’s idea of itself. It can be eradicated in the time it takes to squeeze a flower, in the twinkling of an eye, this mind’s I can be easily eradicated. No long dissertation is necessary in this topic. There is only one principle: that there is only consciousness. Meditate upon It and free yourself from following the fluctuations of the mind and the pain they bring, with true calmness of mind. As it has no real existence, the mind’s I will perish. May you be free from the differentiated conceptions of “I and other”.
So Brihaspati revealed the highest of mysteries.
Then Vāsiṣṭha, who is telling these things to Rama (an incarnation of Vishnu), said
“May you be, Oh Rama, in the same state as Kacha was, once he abandoned the idea of “I”, “you” etc.
The mind’s idea of itself is nothing but unreal. Do not set your heart upon giving it up or taking it up. You wouldn’t dream of taking hold of or letting go of the horns of a rabbit, would you? Horns on a rabbit are as just as unreal as the notion that the mind owns a someone.”
At this point Rama asked: “If there is only Consciousness, how did it come about that something foreign to it felt like self?”
Vāsiṣṭha replied: “Laying hold of all the various ideas the mind likes, which are unreal, tends to the notion of a personal self, and desire for its continuity. But the merging of ideation into the one Reality without any doubts is emancipation.”
So, all those years of struggle to get it right were a waste of time… or were they? Sometimes we just have to live through our mistakes till the eye of insight opens. Mataji
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