Does it take 12 years to catch on to meditation? The story of Kacha, from the Yoga Vāsiṣṭha

Vāsiṣṭha tells this story of Kacha, and his long struggle with his mind, until he discovered the freedom that comes when the mind’s processes are truly seen. In Kacha’s case, his father was the one who helped him see it.

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 (Brihaspati) 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.

Brihaspati checks up on him

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)

Kacha not very happy so far

It’s 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.

His Dad’s not much help

Ever enigmatic, his father said,

You have to give up everything.

And he left him yet again.

Everything!” Kacha (might have) grumbled 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.

Brihaspati speaks plainly at last!

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”.

And 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.

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

Read more meditation stories here

Still-mind Meditation Retreat, February 2021

Still-mind meditation retreat … not just for ancient forest dwellers….

These ancient forest dwellers are not the only ones who got this. Life follows the same pattern generation after generation, getting caught up in conceptual idea of self and reality, until suddenly one sees that self and being cannot be just a series of reactions to thoughts and ideas. There is a steady state of being which is always satisfied, no matter what rolls through the mind.

Explore further what this state is, in your own life. Still-mind meditation is the foundation of a more realistic life than chasing one idea of yourself after another and another and another…

Starts Friday 12th Feb at 5.oo pm (or when you are able to arrive) Room entry after 3.00 pm
Ends Sunday 14th February at 3,00 pm

Details here