Your Questions Answered
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 35: Activity After Enlightenment

Visitor: There are some teachers who seem to be enlightened but still are involved in the world.

SWAMIJI: Either they are not really involved and you have a wrong notion about them, or they are not enlightened. One of the two it is. Either you are making a wrong judgement about them and they may be really enlightened, or they are not enlightened. There are only two aspects of it.

Visitor: Can an enlightened person do something bad?

SWAMIJI: Our outlook of life has to be properly oriented. What do you mean by good, and what do you mean by bad? That has to be clear to the mind first, before you make any judgement. Your ideas of good and bad may be conditioned by certain factors which are delimited. You may not have a cosmic view of things. So, whatever judgement you make may not be complete. It may be partial. That is one aspect of the matter.

Visitor: Can a person lose his enlightenment? Can they fall?

SWAMIJI: A person who is really enlightened cannot fall. It is like saying a person who has woken up will sleep again. If you have already woken up from sleep, will you sleep again? It is not possible, because you have already woken up. If you again go to sleep, it means that you have not fully woken up. You are still half sleeping. You have to define what you mean by "enlightenment." It is like waking up from sleep. You are asking whether a man who has woken up can sleep again. Why will he sleep? He has already woken up. Otherwise, he has not fully woken up; he is half dozing.

Visitor: What is morality?

SWAMIJI: You have to become a disciple of a Guru and learn. Even a clever man cannot understand it. We have got political definitions, social definitions. Anything that is good for your country is moral – is it correct? It is one definition, but it is not the whole truth.

Anything that is good for your family is good, moral. But, still it is not the whole truth. Anything that is good for your little family may not be good for the whole nation. So, your morality is delimited here. Anything that is good for your little country may not be good for the whole world; there, also, your morality is delimiting. So, what do you mean by "morality"? You have to judge it from the context.

It is like medicine. What do you mean by "medicine"? You cannot name the medicine for any particular illness, unless you know what kind of illness it is. If you say that you want medicine, they will ask what kind of illness. Then only, a medicine will be prescribed. So, your idea of morality depends upon the circumstances of your existence physically, intellectually, socially, psychologically, and politically. So, there is no off-hand answer to a question like that. Cut-and-dried answers we cannot give to such questions. Everything is conditional and relative.

Suppose somebody says, "Is it good to cut off the hand of a person?" You say that it is very bad, but suppose you are a surgeon and you are amputating a person's hand. Is it good? So, is cutting off the hand good or bad? There again, the question is relative. So, all questions bring a relative answer; under conditions, circumstances, and exigencies you will know what is proper.

Finally, that only can be called good which will directly or indirectly help you in reaching God. That only can be called good. It may be not directly useful, but indirectly, at least. You have to judge yourself: is it going to help you in any way, indirectly, at least, in reaching the Absolute? Then it is perfectly right – nothing wrong with it.

It is said that a person who is starving and about to die can even steal food, though you cannot say that stealing is good. Suppose there is a mentally demented person who is brandishing a sword in his hand, and you silently go behind him and steal that sword from his hand. Have you done a good thing, or a wrong thing? So, stealing is not always bad. You cannot answer any question in an absolute fashion. They are relative and conditional.

Drinking brandy is very bad, but suppose a person has fallen from a tree and become unconscious. You can pour a spoon of brandy into his mouth, and he will wake up. Is drinking brandy good or bad? Here, also, it is conditional. Every question has to be put carefully, and the answer also has to be given accordingly.

Visitor: Swamiji, would you say that anything was immoral if it had a harmful effect on other people?

SWAMIJI: It has nothing to do with "other" people. It is people in general, because you are also "other people" to certain others. For people who are other than you, you are an "other people." So, what do you mean by "other people?" There are no "other people" in the world. Everyone is equal to others. To me, you are an "other," and to you, I am an "other." When you say "other people," who are the other people? Everybody is "other people" only. What do you say?

You have to use the word carefully. You mean everybody. By "other people" you include yourself, also. You are also other people. So anything good for everybody is good. Don't say "other people." Anything that is good for everybody is fine, and you have to judge for yourself what is good for everybody. Be careful.

The best thing is not to judge quickly. There is a wise saying, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." You will be judged in the same manner as you judge others. The world is made in that way. Whatever you think of other people, that others will think about you, and whatever you do to others will be done to you. So, "do unto others as you would be done by." This is the ethics of the highest type. If you want to know what morality is, you can say it in this one sentence: "Do unto others as you would be done by." That is all.

Visitor: Rituals?

SWAMIJI: Images, idols, pictures, portraits, whatever it is, are as good as anything else. As every part is organically connected to the whole, you can contact the whole through any part. The worship of God through ritual is equivalent to trying to contact Him by means of visible manifestations. This is one stage of religion, or spirituality. But if your mind is vast enough to comprehend the total whole in one grasp, there is no need of touching parts. You can touch the total at one stroke. Otherwise, it is better to go slowly, stage by stage. So here is the relevance of ritual for enlightenment.

Visitor: What about after enlightenment?

SWAMIJI: After enlightenment means after reaching God. This is what you mean?

Visitor: Right. After realising the Self.

SWAMIJI: No, no. Go slowly. Are you realising God or the Self? What are you going to realise?

Visitor: God – the Self with a big "S."

SWAMIJI: Now, you see, after realising God, what happens?

Visitor: What is the relationship of practices after realising God?

SWAMIJI: When you realise God, what happens to you, actually? What will be your status in the condition of the realisation of God? What will happen to you, actually? Do you have an idea about it?

Visitor: It is not that you reach anything.

SWAMIJI: When you reach God, what will happen to you?

Visitor: Then there is no other. Everything is emptiness, or fullness.

SWAMIJI: There is no other.

Visitor: Right.

SWAMIJI: And, you will see only yourself. If you are seeing only yourself, no question will arise afterwards. Who will put the question? To whom? You are putting a question because you are seeing another. And you have already said that there is no "another." So, who will put the question? The question ceases. You will be doing there the same thing which God is doing. And, what is God doing just now? That you will be doing, whatever it be. Inasmuch as you have still maintained a little psychological distance between yourself and God, you are raising this question. If you have actually merged in God, you will not raise a question like that. Already you have asserted that there is no other. What will happen to you, and what will you do after realising God? You will do exactly the same thing as God is doing. Tell me what God is doing.

Visitor: Everything.

SWAMIJI: Then you will be doing the same thing.

Visitor: Another analogy can be: what happens to the river when it merges in the ocean?

SWAMIJI: The river cannot understand it, unless it actually enters the ocean. You are talking about a condition which you have not yet reached. That is why these questions are rising. Unless you have reached that state, it is like a sleeping man asking, "What will I do when I wake up?" When you wake up, you know what to do. Why are you putting a question? It is because you have not woken up that you are putting a question. You have woken up, and you know what is your duty; it is clear to your mind. When you reach the Absolute Being, you will behave in the same way as the Absolute Being behaves. It is up to you to decide what It does. You will be doing the same thing, because you are inseparable from That.

As the Swami said, "What does the river do when it enters the ocean?" It will do what the ocean is doing. It will not behave like a river at that time. It will behave like the ocean only. And, there will be no river in the ocean. The Ganga, the Yamuna, the Mississippi, the Volga, the Amazon – there will be no such thing in the ocean. You will see only ocean. You will not find the Amazon, the Mississippi, etc., in the ocean; yet, they are there. Likewise, you will all be there, yet you will not see anything there. It will all be ocean. This is what will happen to you, and you will do what the ocean is doing.

It is a great joy, isn't it? It purifies the mind, satisfies the soul. You feel healthy and vigorous, even by hearing it. What do you say? That is why satsanga is necessary. It makes you healthy, even the thought of it.

Visitor: In my experience before I was with my teacher now, I was involved in doing certain rituals and that kind of thing with another teacher. After I met my teacher and experienced enlightenment from him, all desire to do any of those kind of things just completely vanished. It was like there was no need anymore.

SWAMIJI: There is no need anymore, when you have reached the Universal Absolute. There is no need, because there is nobody to do anything at that time.

Visitor: Right.

SWAMIJI: So, the question does not arise. You need not do anything, because, who is there to do anything? Doing is a manipulation of the individual in terms of external relations, and external relations cease there. So, the question of doing does not arise. Everything vanishes into the Total Universality. Unless there is an external, there will be no doing, also.

Visitor: That is why it made me wonder why anyone after enlightenment would do any kind of rituals.

SWAMIJI: Anyone with enlightenment will do anything – what are you asking?

Visitor: Why is it that after enlightenment someone would do rituals, etc?

SWAMIJI: It all depends upon what you mean by enlightenment. If enlightenment means unity with the Absolute, there will be no question of doing anything afterwards. The question itself is redundant. But, if your idea of enlightenment is something else, then you have to define, first of all, what you mean by enlightenment. If in enlightenment you maintain individuality as Mr. so-and-so, then, in spite of enlightenment, you will be propelled to do actions by the very law of your biological existence. You will feel hungry, you will feel thirsty, you will like to sleep, you will like to travel, you will like to speak. These are all rituals only. But, you will do that only as long as you are existing in the body, and are conscious of the body.

But, if enlightenment means merging in the Universal Being, the question is not there. There is no question. You do not exist there at all. So, there is no doing; what will you do at that time? It is as "being" only, not "doing." God is Pure Being, not "doing." In Sanskrit we call this state sat-chit-ananda – existence-consciousness-bliss. That is the nature of God – pure existence, pure consciousness, and pure bliss. This is God in essence.

Visitor: After one realises unity with the Absolute, can there be any thing that is of not living in accord with that profound realisation, according to the depth of one's surrender to It?

SWAMIJI: Once you have become united with It, you do not exist anywhere else as this person. Your questions have no meaning then. You do not exist at all. You become one with the sea of universal force, so you will not put a question like that afterwards. The question arises on account of the persistence of individuality even after enlightenment. But, enlightenment means merging in the Universal. The personality ceases to be there; then, you need not have to raise this question at all. The person himself is not there. Then, what question arises? So, you do not maintain a duality after attainment of That. You should not think that still you are outside It.

Only if you are outside It, the question arises. In the path or the process of realising It, there may be difficulties of this kind. But once you have actually touched It, there is no problem. On the way, there are problems, and many varieties of problems. You will have hundreds of difficulties. Many of them, you cannot even imagine; such problems will arise.

You have to read the lives of saints who passed through all these stages, about the problems they had to face. Like Buddha, for instance – you must have studied or read about the life of Buddha. I am giving one example among many others. He tried many ways of enlightenment. First he went to a Guru who taught him physical exercises – asanas, pranayamas, and all that. He went on doing it and nothing happened. No enlightenment came. Then, he started fasting: "Let me not eat. I will sit here until my bone melts, and I will not get up from this place." There was no eating, and his body started withering, as if it was collapsing and finishing. He could not crawl, also. Even that strength he did not have. He felt at that time that it was all a waste, a worthless pursuit – nothing comes: "This is the last day for me." At that time, some lady on the way brought him some porridge, some gruel, and gave it to him to eat. He had some friends who saw him eating this, and they thought this man has fallen. "Oh, you have eaten! You are no good. We will leave you and go away."

He said, "All right, you can go away." Actually, they did not understand, nor did Buddha understand at that time, whether fasting is good, or eating is good. Anyway, he took it and a little strength came, but he was dejected very much. "What is the matter? Nothing comes – no enlightenment. I am in the same condition as I was." He went on sitting.

Suddenly, he saw in his presence his own wife, whom he had left. The wife was with a little child on the lap: "My Lord, you have left me and come. Are you so cruel?"

He said, "How this lady has come here?" He was in the forest, far off under a tree, and the palace of this lady was somewhere else. "Oh, it is an illusion!" he started telling himself, "My desires are manifesting themselves in the form of this individual. Get away from here!" he said.

It was cruel, you could see, because she was sitting there. She was weeping, "Oh, my Lord, you have left me."

He said, "No, no, no. Get away! You are an illusion. You are trying to tempt me. Get away!" Anyway, that vision vanished afterwards. Again he sat.

Edwin Arnold has written a poem called "Light of Asia." I do not know if you have read that book. "Light of Asia" is a poetic biography of Buddha written by a learned scholar. He describes in one chapter what psychological tortures Buddha had to undergo. Angels descended from heaven with temptations of thousands of kinds – with dance and music and nectar. They said, "Everything is here. Come on. You have attained enlightenment, Master! Now, stop your meditation. Here is the river of nectar; there is the pool of honey; here are the maidens for your servants; here are the palaces; you are the king of these gods. Come on!"

"Get away from here!" Buddha said, "You are trying to tempt me with all these dances and all that. No! I do not want it." After he persisted in rejecting them, these visions vanished.

Then, another more ferocious vision started: "What do you think you are? We will pound you to dust just now. We will belabour you! Get up from this place! You are an idiot!" Demons started coming and talking to him.

He said, "What is the matter? First some other vision, now another thing is coming. Do not talk to me! You can pound me to dust or belabour me. I do not want to talk to you," he said. He kept quiet and went on with the meditation. Then, that vision vanished.

Then, there was vast wind, tornado, cyclone, with mud and a hailstorm – everything on his head. It was not actually a physical hailstorm. A psychological world manifested itself before the dross of the mind was thrown out. When you sweep the floor, all the dust goes up and blinds your eyes; yet, it is a cleaning process. Even then, he was thinking to himself, "Nothing has happened to me. I am not having any enlightenment or anything." On that day, when he was in this very difficult situation and in a state of despondency, in the middle of the night, light opened; he had enlightenment.

I am just mentioning to you the difficulties that spiritual seekers have to pass through. It is not easy going, a bread-and-jam path. It is a very hard job, difficult to control the mind. The mind cannot be controlled; it cannot be concentrated on anything continuously. It will jump here and there, in twenty places. When you are wanting to think something, another thing will come. This is the difficulty in Yoga practice. Even God you cannot think then. When you think of God, the idea of the market place, or travel, or a railway train, or something, will come and obstruct you.

Months and years of practice, and tenacious, adamantine persistence in concentrating the mind on one thing is necessary – and a perfect faith that after getting it, "I shall get everything." Therefore, tell the mind: "Oh foolish mind! Why do you go here and there? When you get that, everything will come to you, so what is the good of running here and there for little tinsels?" You tell the mind.

The mind feels that it is losing everything when it goes to God. All the friends, relations, money, wealth, and good things vanish. It may feel like that; it is not concentrating. You tell it, "No, it is not like that. This is a shadow that you are seeing. The realities are somewhere else. If the shadows are attracting you so much, what about the realities? And, not only that, these shadows also are included there in that thing which is your goal in meditation, so you are going to lose nothing. You are going to get everything."

Tell the mind. That is one way of controlling the mind. Like a little child, you tell the mind, "Don't cry, don't cry!" Otherwise, it won't listen. Even children don't listen. They are very naughty. So, these are some of the interesting things on the spiritual path. It is very hazardous and takes much time; yet, it is worth pursuing, and it is the only thing worth pursuing, finally. What do you say?

Visitor: You said earlier that after enlightenment, external relations do not exist? Is that right? Could you explain more about that?

SWAMIJI: What explanation? I have told you. It is very clear. I think the sentence is very clear. What difficulty have you got in understanding it?

Visitor: I am wondering about how people live together after enlightenment.