Your Questions Answered
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 42: Queries of Seekers

SWAMIJI: Om is not a word; it is a vibration. It is a name for universal vibration. The whole cosmos is vibrating like this, and it started the vibration at the time of creation. You are trying to concentrate on that in your mind. You feel the sense of a universal vibration everywhere, like an electric energy emanating from the top of the universe till your heart. It vibrates everywhere. Feel deeply that the universe is vibrating through you.

You are not one person sitting; you are only a little drop in the ocean of universal force, and because you cannot think it properly, one creates a symbol in the mind. Om, Om, Om. If you chant like this, you must feel a thrill in the body, a vibration inside every cell of the body. All the pranas will do like this, shaking, as if some electric shock is given, and you feel as if you are connected with the universal energy. To create that feeling, you recite Om like that. You should chant it properly, not quickly, with deep thought and feeling from the middle of the heart, directly.

You start with a deep sonorous sound, and slowly it tapers off, like a ripple in water. When you throw a stone in water, it makes circles which will become wider and wider. Like that, you start the vibration here. Then you feel as if it is expanding little by little, by circles, until it reaches the top of the universe.

Eva: Reaching enlightenment through the mind, and in my own experience, what I experienced when I met my Guru was that I realised something that was other than the mind, where my own life, and all of existence was coming from.

SWAMIJI: You see, when you say "I" and "my," to what are you making a reference? That is the mind. You have already accepted that there is a mind when you say "I," "my" and all that. It is not the Universal Consciousness that is speaking here. It will not say "I," "my," etc. You have already concluded that you have reached It through your mind, because you are remembering It, and you are still having a mind. The mind has not gone away.

There is no problem with the mind. It is not a bad thing, though people always go on saying that the mind must be controlled, the mind must be transcended, and all that. The actual subtlety behind it is rarely understood by people.

The mind is neither a good thing, nor a bad thing. I told you, it is something like a mirror that is reflecting the sun, and you can have some idea of the sun through the mirror, though the sun is not in the mirror. The reflection in the mirror is not the sun, and yet, through the reflection you can have some idea as to what the sun is. And, if the reflection is to be considered as you, it can contemplate the original and reach the original.

So, as the reflection can reach the original, the mind also can reach the Absolute. There is no objection. The mind is not a bad thing like that; it is a medium of gradual ascent. Only, you should not misuse it for personal purposes. It is like money. Money is good or bad? You cannot say anything about it. It is an impersonal thing. It is up to you to see how it is utilised.

Visitor: I was wondering if there are any differences for men and women in reaching the Absolute.

SWAMIJI: No. There is no difference. What reaches the Absolute is not a man or a woman. What reaches the Absolute is an enlightened soul. The soul is neither a man, nor a woman. It is like a flame of light; therefore, there is no difference. God is neither a man, nor a woman. He is absolute radiance, and only the radiance in you will go to that Universal Radiance. The radiance is not man or woman.

Visitor: Thank you.

Vilaidan: In Hinduism, we say that we have to destroy the ego. But, how can there be initiative without the ego?

SWAMIJI: The initiative should arise from the Universal Being, which includes all the egos. So, it is a greater power of initiative than the individual egoistic motivation. You know, God can do more things than man can do. God is not an ego, It is universal existence. So, it implies that the lesser the ego, the greater is the entry of universality into you, and, more is the capacity for innovation, motivation, or initiative. And, the more is the ego or individual affirmation, the less is the power of the person. An egoistic person is a weak person; the lesser the ego, the greater is the strength, because of the entry of universality into the person. Ego is not a virtue. It is an obstacle to any kind of proper initiative in the real sense.

Luciano: In this case, when a man decides to follow a spiritual path, is it the ego that decides, or is it the grace of God?

SWAMIJI: The spiritual path is the technique which the ego employs in diminishing itself and allowing more and more of universality into it, by gradual degrees. You cannot say whether the spiritual path is trodden by the ego or by the Universal Being. It is a dual action taking place at the same time. When health improves, disease goes. Now, which comes first – the disease goes first, or health comes first? They are simultaneous occurrences taking place in the person. Night goes and day comes. Which is the first thing – night goes first, or day comes first? You cannot say which is first, and which is afterwards. It is a simultaneous occurrence. So, likewise, is the entry of the Universal into you, and the diminishing of the ego. They are not first and afterwards; it is a simultaneous action, a total evolution.

Luciano: Then, in that case, the ego is in tune with God-will.

SWAMIJI: Certainly. When it comes in tune with God-will, it ceases to be an ego. It is God Himself operating through the so-called individuality.

An American Visitor: In the USA there is a large interest in channels – people who go into a trance, or close their eyes, and come out with words that others call wisdom. They talk about all kinds of things. The voice changes, the mannerisms change.

SWAMIJI: They come in contact with some force through which they speak. There is nothing wrong with it. Mostly, the forces are disembodied souls.

Visitor: Why would a soul of a higher being condescend to come through a channel?

SWAMIJI: Instead of them coming down to your level, maybe you are ascending to their level. It does not necessarily mean that they will come down to your level. You adjust your consciousness to a higher status, and then you come in contact with them.

Visitor: Is it the higher soul that would be talking?

SWAMIJI: Yes, higher than your present level. You can come in contact not only with higher souls, but with God Himself if your mind is purified enough. God can speak through you, which is finally your aim. Why do you want to come in contact with ordinary souls? It is better to directly contact the Ultimate.

An American Visitor: Is there any benefit to knowing our past lives?

SWAMIJI: There is no benefit. It is an unnecessary curiosity. You have taken thousands of births; would you like to know all the things of all the thousands of births? It will be a hierarchy of all unpleasant things, which will make you miserable in one second. God has been kind enough to brush aside all those memories and confine your consciousness to the present birth.

If you knew all the miseries of your previous existence, you couldn't even live in this world for a few seconds. You might have been a bandit. How horrible to remember all these things! God is very merciful to remove this memory, to keep us sane. You have passed through every kind of species in existence. You were crawling reptiles, cockroaches, lizards, good people, bad people. It is a frightening drama which you would not like to remember.

You do not remember many of the things that you experienced even in this very life. Maybe fifty percent has been forgotten, and you would not like to remember it, also. So, memory is a good thing, but it is also a bad thing, in many cases.

Visitor: Is reincarnation a progressive evolution?

SWAMIJI: It is generally considered as a progressive evolution: from mineral, to plant, to animal, to human, to super-human. You have yet to go ahead. You are now a limited human being, but you are expected to become an advanced divinity, not merely an ordinary super-human. From man to God-man is the ascent yet ahead of you, for which you have to struggle through the practice of meditation, Yoga, or religion. You have to become a God-man – perhaps God Himself, ultimately.

Visitor: Some believe that we shouldn't have to struggle, we should just go with the flow, go as our life takes us.

SWAMIJI: That is one way of thinking, but you should not hinder the normal process by any kind of selfish action. If you are totally unselfish in your behavior, action and thought, I think the natural process will take you ahead; but if you hinder it by selfishness of any kind, then it may be difficult go with it.

Roger: Any intelligent person can see that the life in India is being choked by the excessive growth of population. India is a very religious country...

SWAMIJI: You see, I am not handling India.

Roger: Swamiji, please just let me finish, and then tell me your opinion. Why don't the holy men of India preach to the masses of the people that they should limit their family sizes, and thereby bring happiness back to the country?

SWAMIJI: The saints do nothing else but that. They are doing only that work. They don't say it bluntly as you suggest, but they are doing it in a highly cultured fashion, and you will be surprised that they are doing no other work than this. They are doing only that for all-round human welfare.

Roger: And the people are not listening?

SWAMIJI: They are listening. It is like a sick man being told not to eat food, and as soon as you go away, he starts eating. They are doing it slowly. They understand, but instincts are very strong. Social, biological instincts sometimes go rampant, though good advice is received.

So, it doesn't mean that the saints are not doing anything. They are doing it very well. To make the whole ocean sweet, it requires a large quantity of sugar. If we put ten quintals of sugar in the ocean, we have done a good deed, but the salt is so much that it's not sufficient to make it sweet. So, it is not that the saints are not doing it; it is slow work that is going on, and finally you have to trust in God. One day it will be successful. It must be. When God is great, all shall be well.

An American Visitor: There are a lot of problems in the world that we have never had before.

SWAMIJI: It will be like this forever. It won't change. The world will be like this only, and that is part of the process of evolution. There is a coming of something here, and a going somewhere else. You are seeing only this particular earth, but you do not know what is happening in the whole cosmos. If you widen your vision to the entire creation, you will never put a question like that afterwards.

They say the evolutionary process is like the movement of a wheel. The spoke that is above will come down, and that spoke which is down will go up after some time, so nothing is in a permanent position. There is a cycle; everything is moving. Today the world is in one condition, tomorrow it will be in another condition. Nothing is permanent, static or in one position only. Everything is a flux, finally aiming at Self-realisation of the universe. The universe is aiming at Self-realisation, which includes the Self-realisation of everybody and everything in the universe. A total merging of the universe in the Absolute is the purpose of evolution.

Visitor: Many people in the West fear that, because of man's selfishness, perhaps we will wipe civilisation off the earth, without evolving. We will destroy ourselves, instead of becoming better.

SWAMIJI: The world cannot destroy itself. Cells in the body are destroying themselves every minute, in order that you may become better. The destruction also is a process of becoming newer and fresher. Otherwise, you would have always been a baby, and would never have become an adult.

Every seven years, they say, the whole biological process of a person changes. You become a new man every seven years. Cells were destroyed; if they weren't, you would have been a stunted individual, and not the person that you are today. Your biological evolution is an indication of what is happening in the whole cosmos. Cells dying, and changing, is part of the natural anabolic and catabolic process in things. It takes place simultaneously. You cannot always be in the same condition; otherwise, there would be no movement and growth, no betterment. Death is meant for a better life; it is a part of evolution.

The world is moving forward and it has to move onward. Though there appears sometimes to be a retrogression, ultimately it is a progression.