Being the Cosmic Whole
by Swami Krishnananda

Discourse 2: The Centralisation of Consciousness

When a photograph of a person is taken, the personality is photographed, but not the individuality of a person. What is the difference? The individuality is an affirmation of the conception of oneself, limiting the self-identity of a person to a limited location so that a person is in one place only at a time and cannot be in two places. This is the so-called ‘I’ in statements such as “I am coming”, or “I am going”. Now, who is coming and who is going? It is the affirmation of the self-identical nature of one’s own self, the ‘I am what I am’ in a purely empirical sense, not the ‘I am that I am’ of God’s experience.

The empirical structural pattern of the outward look of this individuality is the personality. Nobody can see the individuality of a person because it is an internal operation taking place in the consciousness. The personality is an extension of the type of individual that a person is. The type of individuality is the determining factor of  experience: the way in which one speaks, the way in which one responds, and the like.

Each individuality, which is at the back of the awareness of what personality is, is not as separated as one sees. There are tentacles which operate in a mysterious way which make us feel that we are stable, steady and self-identical.

The Upanishads give a detailed description of how we exist at all, and what it is that exists when we say, “I am here.” The limits of the body, of all the organs which constitute this bodily personality, are controlled by certain divinities. The high heaven controls us. The ‘high heaven’ means the whole universal operational system which determines our way of thinking, speaking and acting.

You must have heard that the eyes see with the blessing of the divine Sun. Surya is the divinity operating through the eyes. People who wish to have good eyesight do surya upasana. For maintaining good eyesight, surya upasana is very important. You have to worship Surya, the Sun god, if you want good eyesight.

There is a peculiar Vedic concept of obtaining prosperity by worship of the holy Agni, the fire, which is not the fire that is cooking our food. It is a divine principle operating in the form of fire. Fire is a mysterious thing which cannot be described. You do arati in the temple by burning camphor, and then it is gone. Now, can you find where it has gone? Is it on you, or above you? When you just blow on that camphor light, it vanishes. But ‘vanishing’ means it has gone somewhere. Where has it gone? This is a great mystery. This is a common experience with everybody, and perhaps it is seen every day. We do not give it sufficient respect so we just say it has gone.

If you want learning, vidya, worship Lord Siva. If you are interested only in liberation, then worship Narayana. This is all mentioned in the scriptures.

The idea behind it is that there are gods, forces which are above the physical world. We may look like puppets dancing to the force exerted by puppeteers. If you see, it is due to the sun. If you hear, it is due to the Vayu devata, etc. If these devatas do not work, you will not be able to see, hear, smell, touch, or do anything. You will feel paralysed completely. You will look like a dead body.

People who do not believe in the relations of these gods, especially in modern times, usually have an ultra-exteriorised attraction to forms and things outside, and do not know how they are existing at all. There is no such thing as individual existence finally, unless it is permitted to exist by the operation of forces which are beyond the individuality.

There are several planes of existence. In Sanskrit they are called Bhuloka, Bhuvarloka, Svarloka, Maharloka, Janarloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka. These are the seven planes of existence, one over the other, exceeding interpreting capacity and subtlety as they go higher and higher. The grossest form of existence is Earthly existence, where everything is different from everything else. No one is concerned with anybody. This is the Earthly plane. Everybody, even father and son, are different; they do not identify with each other. Father is father, son is son, husband is husband, and wife is wife. There is no vital connection between them except some emotional attraction.

But when we go from one level of divinity to another level of divinity, from Bhuloka to Bhuvarloka, etc., the relationship between people, the relationship between anything, becomes closer and closer. Now we are utterly different. There is no connection between one and another on this Earthly plane. When we go to Bhuvarloka, Svarloka, the subjective side and the objective side, myself and yourself, come together closer and closer, and one becomes nearer to the other as the closeness increases, and the experience becomes much more than one of friendship and organic relation. Finally we reach the highest level of existence, which is called Satyaloka, where Brahma the Creator abides, as we are told, and at that level each person looks like every other person. We cannot distinguish one person from another person in Brahmaloka. Now, on the Earth plane, we can see many people here, and each one is different from the other. There each one becomes so fine and subtle, and begins to shine like a mirror. Each one is a mirror reflecting everyone else, as if all mirrors face each other and reflect each other, so that we cannot know where one is and where one is not.

The Upanishads are our standard guide, and they make out that in the highest level of Satyaloka, or Brahmaloka as it is called, there is practically an amalgam of individualities, and no one can know who is where. They are like drops of water in the large ocean, and we cannot find where one drop is and where another drop is. They are all touching each other almost organically, livingly, to make one believe they are one drop only. That one drop is the ocean, in which the little drops appearing to be different from one another are individuals. This individuality merges in Satyaloka. It is difficult to imagine what that condition is. You will see yourself everywhere.

Can you imagine what would be your feeling when you see yourself in all places simultaneously? We, who are accustomed to seeing with mortal eyes, cannot imagine the spiritual eye operating in Brahmaloka. It is the spirit beholding spirit, not a body contacting another body. There are no bodies there. There is a spiritual blaze, countless in number. These are the blessed ones who, by intense tapasya and meditation, have reached the topmost level of creation, which we call Brahmaloka, the abode of the Creator, Brahma. We cannot make out what it is. With the farthest stretch of our imagination we will not be able to visualise this immortal existence through the perception of mortal eyes. But by hearing all these things you will feel some kind of shakeup in your personality. Though you have not reached that place, you will feel as if you are rising up into the spirit of the cosmos. What a glory! How happy, how liberated you will feel at that time! Your skin will shake if you think deeply like that, and you will be immensely purified by the very thought of such a kind of experience. This is veritably a supernormal meditation that one can think of.

That is to say, though we look like individuals, different persons, we are really controlled and operated by cosmic forces. I gave the example of a puppet show. There is a drama going on among the puppets. They play a joke, they play historical occurrences, but they play nothing. They are only moved in a particular fashion by the operator of their strings. Similarly, these strings in the cosmos operate the pattern of our existence, the way in which we think, and the nature of our reactions to things.

In a way, we may say there are no individuals existing. They are made to feel as if they are existing, just as puppets are made to show that they are individually existing while really there is no such thing. They are dead wooden pieces. We are like that – dead wooden pieces.

But we have some principle which is called ahamkara, the ego, as they say, which is a mysterious thing which cannot be described. People think that ego is inside. It is neither inside nor outside. It is an operating method. What kind of operation? Consciousness, which is the ultimate nature of everything in the universe, centralises itself, for reasons the Almighty only knows, in a particular point in space. This centralisation is like electric forces coming from all sides and pounding in one spot, one point, and then agitating. That agitation of centralised forces which are moving from outside, from cosmic levels, is something like an electrical knot, and not a physical knot. It is electric forces pushing towards a centre in all possible ways.

Electrical powers are unthinkable. How much strength has electricity got? It can blow up an entire building. Such a series of forces which are super-electrical in their power converge at one spatial point which is me and you and everybody else, and then become so hard that one thinks, “I am a perfectly solid person.” Electrical shocks can sometimes give the impression of solidity. If anybody has an experience of electrical shock of sufficient high voltage, they will know what is felt at that time. One’s hand will hang down from the body as if huge stones are tied to the fingers, with such a heavy weight. There is no heavy weight, there are no stones hanging, but the electric power which jolts with such force can give the impression that there is something heavy. A non-existent object such as the operation of electrical power can make it seem that a stone is hanging on one’s hand. That same thing happens in our feeling that we are existing. Just as a feeling that a stone is hanging on the hand is possible while such a thing does not exist, in the same manner we feel that we are existing. Really, we do not exist individually.

This kind of obstreperous, inveterate habit of asserting oneself as the only being is called egoism. It is not a thing moving inside the body. There is no such thing as ‘inside me’. It is you. The totality of your existence itself is ego. It is not outside or inside yourself. You yourself in a totality are the ego. It is an uncalled-for experience that is compelled upon us due to our inability to recognise a similar existence in other things and other persons.

One of the ways of reducing your egoism is to feel yourself with everything else. You cannot do that exercise because you cannot accept that you can be in somebody else or in something. Can you feel that you are in the tree, in the walls, in the buildings, in the mountains, in the rivers, in the sun, moon and stars? Can anybody accept it? The ego principle will not permit you to think like that. It will revolt and put you down: “Do not think like this.” That is why spiritual meditation is very difficult. The consciousness that you are maintaining in meditational posture is contrary to the affirmation of the egoistic individuality, so there is distraction. The affirmation of the concretised form of electrical or conscious operation inside pushing you in one direction only, in one place only, at one point, at one time, is the ego. It is an indescribable operation taking place, if you use the word ‘operation’ rather than a thing. But nobody can know this operation because one who tries to know is itself the operation. It is a very serious tragedy for everybody.

Therefore, yoga is a very difficult subject. It requires such force of determination as it will be necessary to break down this solid apparent individuality of anything. There are no individuals like sun, moon, stars, and so on. They are also coalescing with each other. But due to some centralisation that takes place as in the case of everybody else, they look as if they are existing.

Have you heard the cosmological doctrine of creation where there was no sun, moon, stars? There was no human being, no living being. In the Manusmriti, the great scriptural ethical book, the first sloka itself says: āsīd idam tamobhūtam aprajñātam alakṣaṇam, apratarkyam avijñeyaṁ prasuptam iva sarvataḥ. Before the manifestation of scattered particularities we call creation, there was an indescribable stillness – dark, as it were, as if the whole universe was sleeping. That is the pre-creational condition of existence, says the Manusmriti. A similar thing was recorded in the Rigveda mantra called the Nasadiya Sukta: nāsadāsī`nnosadāsītta (1). At that time, prior to the creation of particularities, there was no existence and no non-existence, there was no space and no time. Can you imagine a condition where there is no space and time? That is the prior condition of this universe. You have to climb on your own back to find out what all this is. That is, you are the effect and the thing that I am speaking of is the cause, as the effect is pushed forward with vehement force by the cause. You can go forward in one direction and cannot turn back and see what is behind you, so that you will never know how the world is working and how creation took place.

But yoga abhyasa, the art of meditation, is the way of disentangling this ego and feeling yourself in the egos of everyone so that you exist in the same way as you seem to have existed prior to the formation of particularities.

You know the scientific theory of the origin of things, called the Big Bang. It is the cosmological theory of the physicists. The world was not yet created, as the Rigveda and the Manusmriti mention. What was there? Oh, who can answer this question of what was there before creation? Your head will reel as if you have received a blow. Prior to this so-called Big Bang, as modern physicists say, there was a point. This point is accepted in all religions. It is called a bindu, one dot. It is said at that time, prior to creation, this endlessly spread out universe was in the form of a single dot. Its dimension was of the dimension of a point that we strike on the paper by the nib of a fountain pen. There was no dimension because dimension is a form of distance, and there was no distance because there was no space. And there was no ‘now’, no tomorrow, no past, present and future, because there was no time. What a wonder that this incredible universe can be contained in one dot, one full stop! This is called a bindu in the Tantra Shastra, and in the Vedanta also. ‘Bindu’ means an incredibly small dot, a point which includes the vast universe, which became this vast universe. The bindu is the dot. It is not a spatial dot. Even the dot struck on the paper by the nib of a fountain pen has got some distance. It has a dimension, which can be seen through a microscope. Here is a bindu which has no dimension. If you can concentrate your mind on this peculiar thing, you will cease to be a human being.

“Oh, I see,” you go on telling yourself. “I was not at that time. The whole universe of particularities, individualities, things and persons, all were contained in that impossible dot.” This is the bindu that the Tantra Shastra speaks of. Then there was nada – the Big Bang, as it is called, a big burst of sound. What kind of sound it is, you cannot imagine. It is a cosmic sound, not a sound that we hear through our ears. They are all impossible things to conceive. Bindu, nada and kala – these are the three terms used in Tantra Shastra. Bindu is the pre-creational dot. Nada is what we may compare with the Big Bang, the splitting of the cosmos into two halves, the positive and the negative. And third is kala, all the variety that we see.

We are stunned by the variety of the universe. We use telescopes to see the stars and the planets. But all these impossibly distant things are contained in that little wavelike dot. And we ourselves are there. So to which part of the universe do we belong? Where are you? You belong to which place? You will say, “I am from Delhi, Madras or Kerala,” and so on. This is all false descriptions of oneself which binds us to samsara. You do not belong to any place in this world. You belong to that condition prior to the creation of the universe. Where were you at that time, prior to creation?

It is, we may say in modern language, a super-metaphysical point. ‘Metaphysics’ is a very poor word. It is something super-metaphysical. You were at the very seat of the universe before creation took place. That means to say, you are everywhere. You are not in India, you are not in any place or country if you agree that you were prior to the bursting of the cosmos into two parts. Otherwise, if you do not exist at all, how do you come to be existent now? You were in the Eternal Being. Even now you are coming from God. The eternity is dancing through your heart even at this moment. That is the reason why nobody wants to die. The eternity inside tells you that you will not die. Even if everyone knows that tomorrow will be the last day of one’s life, nobody will believe it. People want to perpetuate their existence by creating a false eternal circumstance by nameplates and legacies, and many other things.

It is the immortality that is within us which is acting in us as the belief in the impossibility of dying. Nobody believes that they will die. They say, “Let us see after fifty years, after sixty years.” Even after sixty years, nobody believes that death will come because the principle of life asserts itself perpetually. So eternity is ruling our very existence, but because of the variety seen with the two eyes in the form of space and time, we see, at the same time, that there is a perishability of things. Everything in the world is perishable. On the one side it says everybody will go. We are afraid of that. And on another side our central being says we will not die.

That fear of perishability is due to our involvement in external things, and the principle of eternity working inside us makes us feel that we will not die. Nobody will feel that one is going to die in a few days. Why a few days? It may be in a few minutes. Nobody can accept it. We think is not possible. The eternity says it cannot be, we cannot go. But the other side, the empirical side, pushes us into the acceptance of the possibility of death at any time. So we belong to two worlds – the eternal world and the perishable, empirical world, and we are pushed from both sides. Sometimes we emphasise our empirical aspect more and we get caught in what they call samsara. On the other side we emphasise the eternal side. We feel happy and spiritual at that time.

The essence of all this is that you are everywhere. If you were everywhere before the bursting of the point of creation, you must be everywhere even now. How could you be at one place now while you were at all places prior? It requires a little bit of analysis. Your real nature is all-pervading inclusiveness. But the sense organs compel you to see things with the eyes and work as a media of perishability.

Everybody sees somebody is dying. What is the greatest wonder in this world? Yudhishthira, the Pandava, was asked this question. He answered the question: “What can be a greater wonder than that people see daily that bodies are taken to the cremation ground, but think that they themselves will not be taken?” People carry a dead body to the cremation ground, but the one who carries the body to the cremation ground will not believe that he or she also will meet the same fate. This is the conflict created by the eternal and the empirical in us operating simultaneously. That is why I said you belong to two worlds, the perishable world and the eternal world. But the perishable nature of things can be subsumed under the meditation of eternity.

There are various ways of meditation. One of them is, as I mentioned in a simple way, where were you before creation? Find out that spot, and there you are even now. You cannot say that you were somewhere very far, far away. This idea of ‘far away’ also is not correct because there was no space. Without space, there is no ‘far away’. There is no distance. And you cannot say that you were some time back, many, many years back, because there was no time. Therefore, you cannot say you were there many, many years back and far off somewhere. Both these statements are incorrect because there was no space at that time, and there was no time. In that incredible blessedness of existence you were, and even now you are there because no time has passed after your existence in the heavenly point. You should not say many, many years back. There is no many, many years back because there was no time, and you should not say somewhere, a long distance, because that also is not proper. This is a kind of meditation which shakes up your personality, brushes you completely, washes your karmas, and you will have a double feeling of fear as to where you are going and the joy that you are moving towards a point of truth.

Mysterious is life, mysterious is this creation, mysterious is the way everything has come. Nobody can say anything about it because that ‘it’ does not exist. It is a part of you only. When you try to know another thing, you are also dragging yourself in that direction. You must know yourself first before you try to know others. This is a kind of meditational technique. And you must be sunk in it with utter sincerity – now or never. The whole day you must think this. Even if you are busy with some work in the office or the family, let the work go on, but at the background you cannot forget that you are not of this world. An aya takes care of children belonging to somebody else, and she will take care of the child as if it is her own, but at the background of thought she will know that her child is somewhere else and this is not her child. Likewise, you must do work very vigorously as if it is your work, but at the background you know that it is not your work; it is a cosmical work in which you are engaged.

There are people who dance with a water pot on their head. They throw their hands in all directions and whirl vigorously, but the water pot will not fall down because the mind of that dancer is so intensely conscious of the presence of this water pot on the head that all the whirling and throwing of hands, etc., will not block the consciousness of the pot. So any amount of moving in dancing postures will not put the pot down. Likewise, do any work in your office, house, railway station, but the pot of your memory, your consciousness that you belong to another realm altogether, cannot leave you. Work is not a bondage; it is a big drama that is being played, and it is wonderful. Do work, but at the background of your thought know that you belong to somebody else.

Labourers are there, workers are there, servants are there. They do hard work, as if they are doing work for themselves, but they know very well that they belong to another house. They will leave this place and go away afterwards. This is the type of detachment we have to maintain in ourselves.

You are eternity dancing in the form of a person. Be happy. You will dance with a great joy – “All is well with me; I have no problems” – because God will never let you down. He wants you much more than you are wanting Him. It is not the drop wanting the ocean, but the whole ocean wanting the drops. God loves you much more than you love God. Your love for God is called devotion. What do you call that love of God for you? When God loves you, do you call it devotion? It is an indescribable state. You will be spewed into the network of existence when God calls you. At that time, you are on the borderland of becoming a saint or a sage, as it may be. You are moving towards being a Godman, as it is called.