August (from Lessons on the Upanishads)
1. Something Ought to be Like This
When we look at the world, we have what may be called a first view of things, and dissatisfaction with the first view of things is supposed to be the mother of all philosophical thinking. If we are satisfied with things, there is nothing more for us to search for in this world. Any kind of search, quest, enterprise, or desire to seek implies that we are not satisfied with the existing condition of things. And, we are quite aware that nobody in this world can be said to be totally satisfied with the prevailing conditions of things—neither in one’s own self, nor in one’s family, nor in the society outside, nor in anything, for the matter of that. There is always a tendency in the human mind to discover a lacuna in things: “It should not be like this. It should have been in some other way.” This is a distinction that we draw between the ‘is’ and the ‘ought’. We may say “something is like this”; but instead, what we express is “something ought to have been like this” or “something ought to be like this”. The ‘ought’ is something that we are expecting in this world; the ‘is’ is what we are actually facing in this world. There is always this distinction, drawn in ourselves, between the ‘is’ and the ‘ought’.
2. A Thing that Changes cannot Perceive Change by Itself
We begin to feel there must be something above this world. This was what the great poets and the sages of the Vedas felt. Everything seems to be transitory, moving, and in a state of flux. There is change in nature, change in human history, change in our own mental and biological constitution, change in even the solar system, the astronomical setup of things. Everything is changing. The perception of change is something very important for us to consider. How do we know that things are changing, that things are moving or are transitory? There is a logical peculiarity, a significance and a subtlety at the back of this ability on our part to perceive change and transition in things. A thing that changes cannot perceive change by itself. Change cannot know change. Only that which does not change can know that there is change. This is a very important point at the rock bottom of our thinking that we have to recognise. If everything is changing, who is it that is telling us that everything is changing? Are we also changing with the things that change? If that is the case, how do we come to know that all things are changing?
3. There is No ‘Ungod’ in this World
The whole universe of perception, the entire creation, may be said to be involved basically, at the root, in something which cannot be said to change. This is an adorable and most praiseworthy conclusion, and anything that is adorable is a worshipful something. These masters of the Vedas Samhitas, therefore, recognised a divinity in all things. There is a god behind every phenomenon, which is another way of saying there is an imperishable background behind every perishable phenomenon. The sun rises in the east, the sun sets in the west; clouds gather, pour rain and then go; seasons change; something comes, something goes; we are born, we become old and we also go. Everything is changing, everywhere, even in the vast universe of astronomical calculation. But all this is only an indication, a pointer to an unrecognised fact of there being something which is an adorable background of the cosmos itself. And wonderfully, majestically and touchingly, we may say, these sages of the Veda Samhitas began to see a god everywhere. There is no ‘ungod’ in this world, because every phenomenon must be conditioned, or determined, by something which is not a phenomenon itself.
4. There is no Movement Without a Purpose
The reality of things is what we are after; unrealities do not attract us. That which perpetually changes and escapes the grasp of our comprehension cannot be considered as real because of the fact of its passing constantly into something else. When we say that things are changing, we actually mean that one condition is passing into something else; one situation gives way to another situation. Why should this be at all? Where is the necessity for things to change and transform themselves? There is also a dissatisfaction with everything in its own self. We would like to transform ourselves into something else. It is not that things are changing only outwardly; we are changing inwardly. There is psychological change, together with physical and natural change. So, the transitoriness of things—the changeful character of everything in the world, including our own selves as perceivers of change—suggests the fact that we seem to be moving towards something which is not available at the present moment. Movement is always in some direction, and there is no movement without a purpose. So there must be a purpose in the movement of nature, in even the historical transformations that take place in human society and in the world as a whole.
5. To Thine Own Self be True
Never be in a hurry in the practice of yoga. Take only one step if it becomes necessary; do not try to make a hurried movement. If today you are capable of taking only one step, that is good enough. It is better to take only one step, but a firm step, rather than many steps which may have to be later retraced due to some errors that you have committed. Quality is important, not quantity. Many days of meditation do not mean much; it is the kind of meditation that you have been practising, and the quality, that is involved there. Here, the Upanishads, or the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, or the Bhagavadgita—all are telling you, finally, one and the same thing: “To thine own self be true,” as the poet has very rightly said. The whole of yoga can be said to be equanimous with this implication of the poet’s words: “To thine own self be true.”
6. Everywhere there are Gods
The recognition of a spiritual background behind the transitory phenomena of life is actually the object of worship. This is known as the divinities, or gods, who are adumbrated in the Veda Samhitas. Everywhere there are gods. We can worship a tree, we can worship a stone, we can worship a river, we can worship a mountain, we can worship the sun, the moon, the stars. Anything is okay as an object of worship because behind this emblem of an outward form of things in this world, there is a divinity masquerading as these forms. This is the highlighting principle of the Veda Samhitas. If we read the Vedas, we will find that every mantra, every verse, is a prayer to some divinity above, designated by various names: Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni, etc. We may give them any other name, according to our own language, style or cultural background. The point is not what name we give, but that there is something behind visible phenomena. Our heart throbs in a state of satisfaction of the fact that there is something above us. Religion, spirituality or philosophy, in the true sense of the term, is the recognition of something above oneself and a simultaneous recognition of the finitude of one’s personality.
7. The Infinite is Summoning Every Finite Individual
The non-finite is what we call the Infinite. The Infinite is masquerading in us, which is another way of saying that the Unchanging is present in us. The Infinite is summoning every finite individual. The Unchanging is calling us moment to moment: “Don’t sleep, get up!” One of the passages of the Katha Upanishad is uttisthata jagrata prapya varan nibodhata (Katha 1.3.14): “Wake up. Sleeping mankind, stand up!” Are we slumbering? Are we seeing only what we are able to cognise through the sense organs or are we also aware of something that is deeply rooted in our own self? Prapya varan: “Go to the Masters.” Go to the wise ones in this world—masters and teachers and guiding lights of mankind—and nibodhata: “know the secret”. The Bhagavadgita also has this great teaching for us: tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya (Gita 4.34): “Go to the Masters.” How do we gain knowledge? Pranipatena: “Go and prostrate yourself before the great Masters.” Pariprasnena: “and question them”. “Great Master, this is the problem before me. I am not able to understand the solution for this. Please condescend to come down to my level and satisfy my inquisitiveness.” Serve that great Master; prostrate yourself; question the Master.
8. We can Never be Happy if There is Another Person Near Us
The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad tells us in one little passage: dvitiyad vai bhayam bhavati (Brih. Up. 1.4.2). We can never be happy if there is another person near us. Always we have to adjust ourselves with that person and we do not know what to expect from that person. We cannot keep even a mouse in front of us; we will be very disturbed because the mouse is sitting in front. The mouse cannot do any harm to us, but we do not like the presence of even a little ant. “Oh, another thing has come.” This “another thing” is what is troubling us. The difficulty arising out of the cognition of another is because of the fact that the basic Reality, that unchanging Eternity, has no “another” outside It. Because of the absence of another in the basic reality of our own Self—the Truth of this cosmos—we feel a discomfiture at the perception of anything outside, human or otherwise. Whatever it is, we would like to be alone. Finally, we would like to be alone because that Aloneness, which is spaceless and timeless, is telling us: “You are really alone.”
9. The Recognition of a Supreme Value in Life
This world is not in a position to satisfy the desires of even one person, finally. If the whole world is given to you with all its gold and silver, rice and paddy, wheat and whatever it is, you will not find it satisfying. “The whole world is with me.” All right. Are you perfectly satisfied? You will be unhappy even then, for two reasons. One of them is: “After all, there is something above this world. Why not have that also?” A person who has a village wants another village also. If you have all the villages, you would like the entire state. If the state is under you, you want the entire country. If the country is under you, you would like the whole Earth. But why not have something above the Earth? So there is a dissatisfaction. “What is above? No, this is no good; there is something above me which I cannot control, which I cannot understand.” The presence of something above the world, outside the world, will make you unhappy again. The second point is: “How long will I be in possession of this whole world, sir? Is there any guarantee?” Nobody knows. The next moment you may not be here. “Oh, I see. So, what is the good of possessing the whole world, if tomorrow I am going to be dispossessed of it?” Thus, the recognition of a supreme value in life, and the need to adore it as the objective and the goal of one’s endeavour in life, became the Devata, or the Divinity of the Vedas.
10. You Yourself are the Spirit
The Upanishads are the doctrine of the lifting of your own self to the Self of the universe, the Spirit which you are. It is not merely the Spirit inside you—you yourself are the Spirit. Why do you say “inside”—because when the outer cloth of this body and even the mind is shed at the time of departure, do you remain, or do you exist only in part there? Can you say, “A part of me has gone; I am only partly there”? No, you are wholly there. Independent of the body and also of the mind, you are whole. This is a fact you will recognise by an analysis of deep sleep. The body and mind are excluded from awareness or cognition in the state of deep sleep. Do you exist only partially in deep sleep, or do you exist entirely? If your body and mind are really a part of you, when they are isolated from your consciousness in deep sleep, you would be only fifty percent or twenty-five percent; and when you wake up from sleep, you would get up as a twenty-five percent individual, and not as a whole person. But you wake up as a whole person. Therefore, the wholeness of your true essence need not include the body and the mind. This is what is meant by the word ‘Spirit’.
11. Do You Want Only Yourself as the True Spirit?
When you search for the Spirit of the world as a whole, the Spirit of your own Self, when you search for your Self, you conclude there is no need in searching for anything else. Here is the condition that you have to fulfil before studying the Upanishads. Do you want only your Self as the true Spirit, commensurate with the Spirit of the universe, or do you want many other things also? Those who want many other things are not fit students of the Upanishadic or even the Bhagavadgita philosophy, because the Upanishads and the Gita take you to the very essence of things, which is the Reality of all things. When you get That, attain That, reach That, identify yourself with That, you will not have to ask for anything else. It is like the sea of Reality, and nothing is outside it. But if desire still persists—a little bit of pinching and a discovery of a frustration, and emotional tension: “Oh, I would like to have this”—and it is harassing you, then you had better finish with all your desires. You should fulfil all your requirements and not come to the Upanishadic teacher with the disease of a frustrated, unfulfilled desire.
12. When One Knows That, One has Known Everything
Teachers used to prescribe many years tapas—in the form of self-control—to students. That is why in ancient days the students were required to stay with the teacher for so many years. What do you do for so many years? Pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya (Gita 4.34): “Every day prostrating yourself before that person—questioning, studying and serving.” This is what you do with the Master. This process should continue for years until you are perfectly chastened and purified of all the dross of worldliness—Earthly longings, all rubbish of things. These must be washed out completely and like a clean mirror, you approach the teacher; then, whatever knowledge is imparted to you will reflect in your personality as sunlight is reflected in a mirror. Thus, you receive something in depth in the Upanishads. The last portion, Vedanta, is also the name given to the Upanishads. Anta means the inner secret, the final word of the Veda or the last portion of the Veda—whatever is one’s way of defining it. The quintessence, the final word, the last teaching of the Veda is the Upanishad, and beyond that there is nothing to say. When one knows That, one has known everything.
13. We are the Most Secret Aspect of Creation
The most unpleasant thing in the world is to say anything about one’s own self. We can go on saying anything about people, but when it is a matter concerning us, we would like that not much is said. Om Shanti. This is because we are the most secret aspect of creation and we are very touchy; we would not like to be touched, even unconsciously, by anybody. “Don’t say anything about me; say anything about other people.” Now, what is the matter? There is some peculiarity about this so-called ‘me’, ‘I’, or the self. This is the peculiarity of the Upanishadic teaching, and also its difficulty. The knowledge of the gods in the heavens, the knowledge of historical personages—kings, saints and sages—and the way of worshipping them and adoring them is something we can comprehend. “Yes, we understand what it means.” This is exactly what we commonly understand by the word ‘religion’. “He is a religious person.” Sometimes we even say, “He is spiritual.” Generally speaking, when we say that a person is religious or spiritual, we have an idea that this person is concerned with something higher than himself or herself—some god, some ideal, some future expectation which we may call divine, not concerned with the present, necessarily.
14. The Upanishad Refers to God and it Refers to Nothing Else
The Upanishads are not telling us about any god. Then, what is it that the Upanishads are telling us if it is not speaking about God? It is speaking about God, but not about the God that we usually think in our mind according to our upbringing, culture, language or tradition. It refers to God and it refers to nothing else, whereas the other religious forms of the concept of God—the God of the various ‘isms’ in the world—have other things in addition to and simultaneous with God’s existence, such as: Something must be done, something must not be done. These ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ fill the texture of every religion in the world. Something has to be done and something should not be done. The question of this dichotomy does not arise in the Upanishads. The concept of God, or the Ultimate Reality, that we encounter in the Upanishads is markedly different from our transcendent conception of God. We always look up to the skies, fold our palms and humbly offer a prayer to a divinity that is invisible to the eyes but considered as transcendent, above us—perhaps very far from us. None of us can escape this idea of God being a little far from us. Certainly, there is some distance between us and God. That distance frightens us.
15. The Concept of Distance is the Concept of Space
Simultaneous with this concept of distance between us and God, there is also the concept of futurity of the attainment of God. It is not something that can be attained just now; it is a matter for tomorrow. “I will attain God one day.” This “one day” implies some time in the future. So, somehow the concept of time also comes in when we conceive God in the traditional pattern. Because of the space concept in our mind, we feel that God is far away from us; there is a distance. The concept of distance is the concept of space. It has entered our brains to such an extent that we cannot think anything except in terms of measurement—length, breadth, height, distance. So, God is away from us, measurably, by a distance. He is also a futurity in time, and He can be attained by hard effort. There is also a causative factor involved in the concept of the attainment of God. Space, time and cause—these are the conditioning factors of human thinking. Without these concepts, we can think nothing. Hence, we are trying to cast God Himself into the mould, the crucible of this threefold determination of our thought— namely, space, time and cause. However, because the concept of space, time and cause involves objectivity, we cannot cast God into this mould.
16. What Sort of Religion is there Between Us and God?
If God is not spatially distant and temporally a futurity and He is not caused by some human effort, what sort of relation is there between us and God? Here is a point which will be before us like a hard nut to crack. What is our relationship with God? If we say we are a part of God, we again bring the concept of space and time. If we say we are created by God, then also we bring space, time and causation. If we say we are a reflection of God, then also we bring something external to God’s universality. Whatever we may say about ourselves in relation to God, in that statement of ours we are delimiting God and denying the universality and the ultimacy of Reality that is His essential characteristic. The Upanishads take up this subject, and they want to break this hard nut; but, it is not as easy to break this nut as one may imagine. If we read the Upanishads, we will find ancient seekers undergoing tremendous hardships even in approaching these great Masters of yore, and undergoing disciplines which are unthinkably painful for weak wills and minds and bodies like ours. It is not merely that we are weak psycho-physically; we have other difficulties which are more important and crucial—namely, obstacles which will stand in the way of our contacting God.
17. Everybody Uses the Word ‘Self’
When we speak of the soul, we do not know what it is that we are speaking about, finally. It is a nebulous, flimsy, slippery object. What are we talking about when we say “self”? Everybody uses the word ‘self’. “I myself I have done this work.” “He himself is responsible for that mistake.” Do we not use the word ‘self’ in this manner? We are very well acquainted with the use of the word ‘self’: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself—everywhere this ‘self’ comes in. It is so common in our daily life that we do not see any special significance in that usage at all. We do not see the significance because we do not know the meaning of the word ‘self’, and no dictionary gives us the correct meaning of this word. Even if the dictionary says it is you, one’s own Self, the basic Reality, the Atman, these are only words which will mean as little as the word ‘self’ itself. This is because here is a question of the handling of one’s self by one’s Self. You may ask me: “Why should I handle my self when there are more important things in the world? The world is so rich and beautiful and grand and vast; instead of that I handle my self? What is the great thing that I am going to gain out of it?” Terrible is the problem. If you have answers and questions of this kind and you have doubts as to why this Self is to be considered as so important, you will not be immediately fit for the knowledge of the Upanishads.
18. You can be Free by Knowing Your Own Self
All our educational technology these days, as education is generally understood, concerns itself with objects of perception and intellectual understanding. The Atman is not a subject which can be perceived through the sense organs, nor can it be understood intellectually by any kind of logical acumen. The reason is that the Atman is yourself; it is not somebody else. In all courses of knowledge and procedures of study, you place yourselves in the position or context of students, and you consider the world of objects outside as subjects of observation, experiment and study. In your education you do not study yourself; you study something other than your own self. You go to a college or a university and study subjects like mathematics, physics, chemistry, sociology and what not. All these subjects, which are so well placed before you in great detail, are external to yourself. Everything that you study, anywhere, is outside you. You do not study yourself in any course of study that has been made available to you. But the Upanishad is a study of ourselves. Atmanam viddhi is the great oracle of the Upanishad: “Know thyself and be free.” It is something astounding to hear that you can be free by knowing your own self.
19. ‘A’ is ‘A’; ‘A’ cannot be ‘B’
There is an ‘I-ness’ or a feeling of self-identity even in a tree, which grows according to its own predilection for the purpose of its own survival. The instinct of survival is present in each and every living entity—and perhaps even in non-living elements, like an atom. They maintain an identity of themselves. The Atman may be said to be the characteristic of the self-identity of everything. You cannot become other than what you are. You are something, and you want to be that thing only, and you cannot be something else. ‘A’ is ‘A’; ‘A’ cannot be ‘B’. This is the law of identity in logic. Everything is what it is; nothing can be other than what it is. There is a peculiar inherent tendency of the maintenance of self-identity in all things. You have to listen carefully to every word that I speak. This inherent tendency in everything in respect of the maintenance of that vehement form of self-identity consciousness is the Atman. The Atman is not merely a force that causes this impulse of self-identity in things, it is also a consciousness of there being such a self-identity. You are what you are, but not only that; you are also aware that you are what we are. So it exists, and it is also conscious that it exists.
20. Karma is Discharge of One’s Duty
There is a tendency inherent in the human mind by which the pure subjectivity, which is the consciousness of the Atman, is pulled, as it were, in the direction of what it is not, and is compelled to be aware of what it is not in the form of sense-perception. Not only that, it cannot be continuously conscious of one particular object. Now it is aware of this; now it is aware of another thing. It moves from object to object. The tendency to move in the direction of what the Atman is not—the impulsion towards externality of objects—is the dirt, or mala, as it is called. The impossibility of fixing the mind on anything continuously is the distraction, or the vikshepa. The reason why such an impulse has arisen at all is the avarana, or the veil. These three defects have to be removed gradually by protracted self-discipline coupled with proper instruction. It takes its own time. There are techniques of yoga practice known as karma, bhakti and jnana—or karma, upasana and jnana. Karma is activity, work, performance of any kind—discharge of one’s duty, we may say.
21. Work Done as a Duty Alone can Purify
When you do a work, you must put a question to yourself: “What is the reason behind engaging in that work? Is it because there is some extraneous or ulterior motive behind that work? Or is it done for mere self-purification? You must distinguish between work done as a job and work done as a duty. A duty may not apparently bring you a material benefit at the very outset, but it will bring you an invisible benefit. That is why duty is adored so much everywhere and people say you must do your duty. If duty is not so very important, but a remunerative job is the only thing that is important, then insistence on duty would be out of point. Everybody says duty must be done; but, what is duty? Work done as a duty alone can purify; no other work can purify the self. It is not any kind of labour that can be regarded as karma yoga. So, what is this duty that we are talking of which is going to chasten the personality of the individual, and purify it? Briefly it can be called unselfish action. It is a work that you do for the benefit that may accrue to a larger dimension of reality, and not merely to the localised entity called your own individual self.
22. One’s Essential Being is also the Essential Being of Everybody Else
When you serve people, you are to always bear in mind the reason why this service is done at all. Mostly, the reason is buried underneath. You have social reasons, political reasons, economic reasons and family considerations when you do any work in the form of service of people. But service which is spiritually oriented is not a social work or a political activity, nor is it connected even with family maintenance. It is actually a service done to your own self. How is that so? You may put a question: In what way is the service of people, for instance, a service to you own self? Remember the few words that I spoke a little while ago, that one’s essential being is also the essential being of everybody else. So the people that you see outside, even the world of space-time, is a wider dimension of the selfhood which is your own pure subjectivity. This is a subject that is a little difficult to understand, and is to be listened to with great caution and care. The service that you render to others—even to a dog, let alone human beings, even feeding manure to a tree for its sustenance or taking care of anything whatsoever—is not to be done with any kind of ulterior motive, much less even the consideration that it is something outside you.
23. You are Serving Your Own Self when You Serve Humanity
Work becomes purely a spiritual form of worship only when the character of selfhood is introduced into the area of this performance of work and into the location of the direction towards which your work is motivated. You are serving your own self when you serve humanity. People sometimes glibly say, “Worship of man is worship of God.” It is just a manner of speaking, without understanding what they mean. How does man become God? You know very well that no man can be equal to God. So how do you say that service of man is equal to service of God? Therefore, merely talking in a social sense does not bring much meaning. It has a significance that is deeper than the social cloak that it bears—namely, the essential being of each person is present in every other person also. So when you love your neighbour as yourself, you love that person not because that person is your neighbour in the sense of social nearness, but because there is a nearness which is spiritual. The person is near to you as a spiritual entity, as part of the same self that is you, rather than a nearness that is measurable by a distance of yards or kilometres. The spiritual concept of work is the great theme of the Bhagavadgita.
24. This Universe is a Well-managed Organisation
The whole theme of the Bhagavadgita is how we can conduct our activity in the sense of a transmutation of all its values into spiritual worship. Actually, service is not service done to anybody else—that term ‘else’ must be removed from the sentence. It is service done to a larger area of one’s own self. This idea can be planted in one’s own mind by doing service of any kind, whether it is service of Guru, service of mankind, or even work in an office without laying too much emphasis on the salary aspect, etc. If the administration is well managed, the salary will come of its own accord—you need not cry for it—and this universe is a well-managed organisation. It is not a political system which constantly requires amendment of laws and regulations. Everything is systematically ordained and, therefore, you need not have any doubt in your mind whether you gain anything at all by doing service in this manner. When you serve your own larger self, which becomes largest when it is a service done to the universe as a whole, virtually you are serving God, because the largest self is God. And it is an expanded form of your own self. This is the point to be borne in mind.
25. You are Attracted towards That Which is Everywhere
In the beginning when you conceive of the Supreme Being, you have a spatio-temporal imagination of that Being. God is very big, very large, very far away, very great, adorable; you offer your prostrations to that Almighty as something lovable. Even the Upanishads sometimes refer to the Supreme Absolute as the most lovable. Vanam means adorable; that Being is the most adorable. That thing which you call God, that thing which pulls your attention in its own direction, that which is the Ultimate Reality of things, that which is the Self of the cosmos, is the most magnificent, beloved, lovable, beautiful, most essential of all beings. And one who loves this Ultimate Being as the most lovable is loved by the whole world. You attract things towards yourself because you are attracted towards that which is everywhere. This is the best way of making friends in this world. You need not read Dale Carnegie, etc. If you are attracted towards that which is everywhere, wholly and solely, the entire world will be attracted towards you as a natural consequence of the attraction that you feel towards that Ultimate Reality. This is how you can honestly love it, if you want to be loved by others.
26. Austerity is Physical, Verbal and Mental
The first thing you can do in your life towards performance of austerity is to avoid luxury and a happy-go-lucky attitude. You should have or keep with you only those things which are necessary for you, and should not keep those things which are not essential for a reasonably comfortable existence. This is the first step that you can take in austerity. Something is necessary for you under certain given conditions—okay, granted—but you need not ask for more than that. Eating, sleeping and comforts of any kind have to be within the limit of the exigency that you feel under the conditions that you are living, for the work that you are doing, etc., and you need not go beyond that limit. This is the first step that you may take towards austerity. Austerity is physical, verbal and mental. You have to be restrained not only in your physical appurtenances but also in the words that you speak and the acts that you do. That is, you should not cause any kind of disharmony, incongruity in the atmosphere, and towards that end you may manipulate and adjust yourself ably for being a humane individual, a good person, in the sense that your presence does not cause conflict with anyone.
27. How does God Create the World?
The Creator, Whom we call God, manifests this universe, creates this universe. In what manner does He create the universe? There are instances of someone creating something in this world. A carpenter creates a table or a chair. A potter creates a mud pot. Is this the way in which God creates the world? Some say that this is not the way in which God creates, because a carpenter requires some tool and some material out of which and through which he can manufacture a table or some furniture. But, where is the instrument or tool, and where is the material for God? If we say that there is some material outside God, then there will be another difficult question: “Who created this material?” If God created the world out of some existent material, someone must have created that material also. Is God Himself the creator of that material wood or furniture of this cosmos? The question is a vicious one; it is what is called ‘begging the question’. Hence, problems connected with the creation of the world do not seem to be easily solvable by merely assuming that there was some material before God at the time of the creation of this universe. Though there are some thinkers and philosophers who hold this opinion that there is an eternally existing material out of which God fashions this universe, there are others who feel that this is not the proper way of visualising the fact of creation.
28. God must Himself have Become this Universe
God must have modified Himself into this universe, as milk modifies itself into yogurt or curd. Otherwise, we cannot explain how God creates this world. The assumption of a totally independent material existence outside God is not permissible for various reasons, one of the reasons being that it would limit God to a finite entity. Finitude is that state of being which has something outside it, another finite. Everyone is limited and everyone is finite because of the existence of other finitudes—in the sense that there are things and persons outside every person and thing. God also would become finite because the existence of another thing outside God, such as the material for creation, would condition God to a limited existence. Therefore, the doctrine that the creation of the world came out of an already-existing material would be a contending factor before God, an opposition to God. God would then not be infinite. Therefore, God must Himself have become this universe. This is the second doctrine. The first doctrine is called Arambhavada. A creation out of something and producing something totally new is the doctrine of Arambhavada, which involves multiplicity and duality in creation.
29. This is what We Call God
Consciousness cannot be in some place because to be conscious that consciousness is in this ‘some place’, it has also to be somewhere else—where it now appears not to be. Therefore, consciousness cannot deny that it exists in another place as well, somewhere else, because such denial is impossible unless it is already present there at the spot which is being denied. Therefore, the nature of consciousness is universal. This is the nature of the Ultimate Reality. This is what we call God. This is what we call Ishvara. Therefore, the pervasion of this Supreme Consciousness, which is the Absolute Reality, is not pervasion—something entering into something else—in the ordinary sense of the term. It is the One Thing being all things. In a great mantra of the Rig Veda we are told: ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti (R.V. 1.164.46). “The one Being—poets, sages, and masters call It by different names” such as Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni, and so on. Therefore, this world of perception, this universe of variety, is a perceptional presentation and not actually a modification, because eternal things cannot modify themselves. If eternity modifies itself, it becomes a temporal something. That which is above time cannot become something in time.
30. There is No Such Thing as Possession
You feel happy only if you have some property. A propertyless person is considered an unhappy person. People say: “I have nothing—neither land, nor house, nor money. My condition is pitiable.” If you obtain land, money and a house, you are happy. But the Upanishad says: “You will not be happy by acquiring land, money, house, etc.” Actually, possession is not the way of being happy. There is no such thing as possession. You cannot possess an area of land. It was already there, and was there even before you were born. Can you grab a piece of land, which is the earth? How can you grab the earth? Even the house that we propose to purchase from somebody must have been there before you existed. What exactly do you mean by saying “I possess something”? Does that object enter into your body? Does the house seep into your flesh and bones? Does the land enter your brain, and is the money under your skin? Does it happen so? They always remain outside, just as they were outside even before you were born. Nobody has seen money entering into someone’s stomach. For obvious reasons, a thing that is outside, totally, cannot become yours. How can you possess a thing that is not yours? But you somehow convince yourself that it is yours.
31. Do Not be Possessive
Do not be greedy. Do not be possessive. Do not say “I want, I want, I want.” You require nothing, finally. Even the richest people do not sleep on ten kilometres of land. They require six feet on which to sleep. Do you think a millionaire requires a longer, lengthier bed, several furlongs long, to sleep on? Will a rich person eat two quintals of food because he is rich? He will perhaps eat less than what you eat. These are confusions in the mind. Wealth and possession—accretion of objects, imagination that one has everything in this world—“I am the ruler of this Earth”—these are rank illusions in the mind, and you will know this when the time comes. When everything goes, you will realise that you made a mistake in thinking that you had everything. You never brought anything when you came to this world. Are you trying to possess things which you did not bring? How did you earn this property of the world when you did not bring it with you when you came? Actually, if you have earned this property, you could take it when you go. Why do you not take it with you? You have so much wealth that you have earned through your profession; take it with you when you go. Can you? If you cannot bring anything and if you cannot take anything either, how is it possible for you to possess anything in the middle?