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Yoga Vasishtha


II 6 The only God or fortune is previous action. As is the effort so is the fruit, O Rama: this is the meaning of self-effort, and it is also known as fate. What is called fate or divine will is nothing other than the action or self-effort of the past. The present is infinitely more potent than the past. Just as a man can govern a boy, vigorous present actions can control past karma. The evils of yesterday can be remedied by the good actions of today. There is no need to rely on destiny, luck or God. They indeed are fools who are complacent about the bitter fruits of their past actions (which they regard as divine will) and do not engage themselves in self-effort now. A weak and dull-witted man can only see the hand of providence when he is confronted by a powerful adversary and succumbs to him.

If you see that the present self-effort is sometimes thwarted by fortune (or divine will), you should understand that the present self-effort is weaker than past actions. Even the apparent experience of defeat sings the glory of one's own past self-effort.

Sometimes it happens that, without effort, someone receives a great gain. This is certainly not an accident nor some kind of divine act, but the fruit of self-effort in a past birth.

It is important to render the spiritual striving of this life more powerful than the worldly striving of past lives. When failure or loss occurs, one should not yield to vain grief. Rather one must try again and again, until the goal is reached.


"There are four methods of crossing over the ocean of worldly existence, namely Tranquillity (sama). Contentment (samtosa), Company of the good or the wise (sadhu-sanga), and Thinking (vicara). (II, 16, 18.) They are so related to one another that, if one of them is fully acquired, others will inevitably accompany it. One should, therefore, make effort in acquiring any one of them thoroughly. (II, 16, 22.)"

From B.L. Atreya's big study, Philosophy of Yoga-Vasistha, page 136; following pages give details of each of the four.
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That is absolutely beautiful, Nicholas. :)

You may also like The Vision and the Way of Vasistha a condensation by Atreya that was not put into English until recently. See Samvid's translation in the Samata Books edition which has the Sanskrit for each verse also.


From the beginning of the famous Laghu or condensed version of the YV:


Salutations to the Non-Dual Principle - through the
three organs (of mind, speech and body) - that is
the eternal Jnana (wisdom) Light illuminating (the
three worlds) Bhu (earth), Antariksha (intervening
space) and Swarga (heaven), as also our hearts and
their exteriors and that has manifested itself
everywhere as visible forms.

Persons qualified to read this work called Vasishta
(the work of Vasistha) should neither be Ajnanis
(the ignorant or the worldly wise), nor those
Jivanmuktas (liberated ones), who have reached
their Jnana-Atman, freeing themselves from all
pain, but only those who, conscious of being under
bondage, long after freedom from it, and are in that
vacillating position, from which they contemplate
attaining Moksha.