When the mind becomes pure with the practice of many yoga sadhanas, what is left is only the auspicious thoughts. Thoughts about going to the temple, meditation, reading the shastras, devotion, practice of yoga asanas and pranayama keep the individual on the path of a happy and organised lifestyle.
Even this good and happy living will become a block on the path of liberation, says Sri Vashishtha to Sri Rama in the Yoga Vashishtha. When desires, anger, hatred, greed, delusion, arrogance and jealousy no more have a place, only the good thoughts remain. He tells Rama to be free from any sort of anxiety to transcend those thoughts too and go beyond the path of self-realisation.
Having told him all along about the nature of bondage, he goes forward now to talk about the nature of liberation. When we are going on the path towards some goal, it is important to know the nature of the destination without any doubt. That is what Vashishthaji is trying to explain.
The sage’s words to Rama can be freshly etched in our hearts as the equation for bondage and the way to liberation. He says that the reality given to the objects, emotions, thoughts and situations by the seer of the objects, thoughts, feelings and situations is alone called bondage. When I am looking at a situation and I believe that the situation is real and permanent, when the truth that it is just a momentary experience, then I am bound by that situation and stuck right there.
What is freedom then? The maharishi continues in the same vein. While the seer is bound by the objects he sees, when the objects, situations and people he sees are absent, then he is free. When we talk of the objects and thoughts vanishing—it need not necessarily a blankness or blacking out of the world before us.
When the realisation happens that what exactly sees the world is nothing other than the power of consciousness which is the seer itself, then an experience of oneness happens between the seer and the seen. That experience of consciousness, truth, oneness and reality is liberation.
There are three steps to bondage. The first is to believe firmly that there is something other than me that I see before me. Once that idea is firmly established in my mind, then I go to the next step to think that the person, object or situation I see is either good or bad. Once I think and discriminate that it is either good or bad, I get attracted to what I think is good for me and repel from what I think is bad for me. This gives me the experience of joy when I get attached to what is good and sorrow when I am united with what I think is not good.