June (from In the Light of Wisdom)
1. What We are in Small Things, That We are Also in Big Things
It is not proper that we should simply die with the same old ideas with which we were born and which we always thought were the right things. It is possible that we are, in fact, not correct in our assumptions and that they may need correction. Just as this is the circumstance in small matters, this happens to be the situation in big things as well. What we are in small things, that we are also in big things. We should not think that we can just be careless in small matters but then be very careful in big matters. When we are careless in tiny things, then we will also be careless in big things. Drops make the ocean, as you know. Even the apparently small matter of drinking a cup of tea is important. A small thing like a few words that we speak to a brother is as important as a big matter like the practice of yoga or even God-realisation itself. I am not just joking. These are serious things upon which we should reflect and meditate. There is nothing that is unimportant. Before God at least, nothing is unimportant, insignificant or unnecessary.
2. Let Us be Sure that We are Humans First
As a true human being, our life is a whole. All these imply what we call ‘human’. It is a regeneration of the mind that implies ‘humanity’, and not merely walking with two legs. We may be able to talk and walk on two legs, but even then we need not be wholly human. Before studying yoga we have to learn first to be human beings. It is from humanity that we rise to divinity. Let us be sure that we are humans first, and then let us think of divinity. These ideas seem to perhaps be small matters, as I said in the beginning. “Oh, these are just nothing,” we may say, but they should not be taken like that. There is nothing unimportant, as I told you. We ought to remember one great motto: “Anything that is connected with us in any manner whatsoever is not unimportant.” Just imagine for a few minutes what are the things that are connected with our lives. They may be persons, things, conditions, situations, ideas, concepts or whatever they are. If they are connected with us in any manner whatsoever, they are important.
3. Every Failure is a Kind of Death
Destruction of the physical body is not the only form of death. Every failure is a kind of death. Any kind of a fall—psychological, social or personal—is a kind of dying. We are dying every moment of our lives, and we are also reborn every moment of our lives. Creation, preservation and destruction are taking place every moment. These are not cosmological events that took place millions of years ago. They are an eternal, perpetual and unceasing process that continues even now, individually and cosmically. The student of yoga is to be aware of all the subtle shades of difference in conducting oneself in life, to be cautious inwardly and outwardly, and to be wholly human, and then to aspire for the divine. At the present moment, this may be difficult to envisage and comprehend wholly. It is difficult to get teachers, but it is also difficult to get able disciples. Both of these are rare in this world, and the combination of these two rare ideals is surely the manifestation of God’s grace. We offer a prayer to the Almighty to know what our right and whole-souled objective in life is.
4. Many Parts Put Together do not Make a Human Being
A human being is not merely the head, nor the limbs, nor even the totality of all the limbs. We are not merely a total of the physical parts; we are something more than these combinations. A human being is not merely a mathematical total, but a vital total. Likewise, not merely the last step that we take, but every step that we take is included in yoga. It is not the mathematical total of these steps that constitutes yoga, but something vital that is present in the combination of the parts. Many parts put together do not make a human being. The many stages of yoga put together do not make yoga, though they are all essential in the beginning. Therefore, I will try to answer the question “Where is the need for it?” The need, the purpose and the goal are the incentives behind every action. There needs to be a necessity to motivate an action. Yet in many experiences that we have in life, we feel that we are lacking something. Due to this lack, there is often a dissatisfaction in life. We are not satisfied with the daily eating of our meals; we feel that there is something more than merely sustaining ourselves with food.
5. There is a Kind of Tension between the Ideal and the Real
When the higher begins to determine the lower in any stage of life, law comes into play. We have various kinds of laws: laws of health, laws of family, laws of society, laws of the nation and so on. The law is for determining the lower from the higher. The law is only a symbol of the higher principle which we regard as more real than the lower level. Social living should be determined by a higher level of existence, and this is why we have laws. If such a determination of the lower by the higher were not necessary, no laws would be necessary, and there would be no need for governments. Any plan, scheme, system, proposal or law is only a symbol of our aspiration to determine a lower existence by a higher ideal which has not yet been realised—but which is implanted in our minds. If the higher would already be realised, there would be no need of determining the lower by it. The ideal is there weakly before the mind’s eye but has not yet been materialised into the reality of experience. There is a kind of tension between the ideal and the real.
6. Psychoanalytic Psychology
When I say there is a conflict between the ideal and the real, I mean that this conflict occurs in every type of life that one leads and in every stage of life in which one finds oneself. In our personal lives we have this conflict, in our social lives we have this very same conflict, in our political and national lives we have this conflict, and in international life we have this conflict between the ideal and the real—the real conflict between what ought to be and what really is. This is also the theme of a subject which comes from the West called ‘psychoanalytic psychology’. We need not go into the details of its techniques as practised in the West, but I am just mentioning the basic principles implied in this science. If conflict is visible everywhere in life, and if this conflict must be resolved if man is to be happy, what is the way to resolve this conflict? This was a question with which analytic psychology concerned itself. The ideal conflicts with the real, and here we are confronted in life with the devil, as it were.
7. What is Society, If Not All of Us Put Together?
Where can we run away in this world? Wherever we go, we will still be in human society. Society has its own peculiar notions of etiquette. These norms may be fair, or they may be unfair, but that is a different matter. These norms exist, and we cannot escape them. We find it difficult to adjust ourselves to these laws for a long time. The individual ideal rebels against the social etiquette and law. Society has its own strength, and it will keep us in line with its own force. The fight between the individual ideal and the social ideal leads to social tension, and in this case nobody can be truly happy. One may wonder what this peculiar society is after all, as it is itself made up of many individuals. What is society, if not all of us put together? Why could not the exercising of the individual ideal be made possible, inasmuch as society is only all of us put together? There is no society independent of individuals, but there is another peculiar trait of the human mind which is studied in the field of group psychology. Each one of us may individually agree to one thing, but when we are all put together we may not agree with it.
8. Give Me the Will to Change What I Can
We should attune ourselves with reality, and then we would be all right! Yet, instead we try to conform to society and the circumstances of the times. Whatever the society says is okay with us. As time marches, we also march with it. Striving with the same speed as society, there appears to be no tension. But it may be that one is unable to change sufficiently with society, and in that case one would have to suffer. If we do not have the strength to change society, society will try to change us. We either change society with our power or adjust ourselves with it. If we cannot do either, then we must endure it. People who want to change circumstances, but cannot, are the sufferers in the world. They say that society should not be as it is, and that it must change. But who is going to change it? Not us—we cannot do it. Then we go on complaining and suffering. Here I am reminded of a famous saying of a philosopher: “Give me the will to change what I can, the courage to bear what I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Very interesting!
9. We Must Understand Life as It Is
To understand life in its true perspective would be true philosophy. We must understand life as it is. We should not have a wrong idea about it. When we go to a place, we must understand where we are staying and what kind of people are around us. We should not go just like a fool, without knowing anything about the circumstances prevailing outside. “Where am I; what is this country; what kind of people are living around me, and what are the conditions in which I am going to be there?” All these are thoughts that might occur to our minds when we go to a new place. When we are in life, when we are living in this world, it must be our duty to understand what is the circumstance in which we find ourselves. “What is it that I am seeing in front of me; how am I related to these things, and what am I to do with these things? I have got to do something with them. I cannot just ignore them because they look at me, and they seem to be wanting something from me. How am I going to deal with these things that I call the world in front of me?”
10. Yoga is not Practised without Understanding
The wisdom of life, which is philosophy, is an understanding of life. Yoga therefore is a philosophy upon which is constructed the beautiful edifice of its psychology. Yoga is not practised without understanding. It is a practice with a tremendous understanding behind it. When this understanding becomes complete, one becomes a perfect human being attuned not merely to sociological reality but to reality in its completeness. It has many stages, and not merely the stage of sociological reality which psychoanalysts are concerned with. There is some deeper reality to which we have to attune ourselves systematically. When through all the levels of reality we attune ourselves and harmonise ourselves, we are one with nature, one with truth, and ultimately one with God. This is yoga. Yoga began to contemplate the mysteries behind the phenomenon of unhappiness persisting in spite of one’s having everything in life.
11. We Want to Manufacture some Peace Artificially
We might have seen people carrying their radios with them wherever they go. Whether they are in the bathroom, or at the lunch table, or in the meditation room—it makes no difference, as the radio must also be there. They go to the store to purchase something, and the radio is still hanging there on their shoulders. They try to drown themselves in the sound of this instrument, because they have no peace within. We want to manufacture some peace artificially through some instruments that we have created, because the peace is not there inside. “If I have not got something, I will try to import it from outside. I will drown myself in a loud sound so that I may not hear any other sounds. I do not want to hear the sound of even my own mind, because it is very inconvenient.” This sort of person not only wants to hear the constant sound of the radio but may also seek to constantly be moving about from place to place. The tendency seems to be to never sit in any one place and to be a permanent tourist throughout life. In this case, one has no time to think problems, because to think of them is another problem. “Better not to think about them—let them die out”, the person imagines to himself.
12. Creation is not Exhausted by this Small Earth
To try to increase the field of one’s influence is not a solution to one’s problems. We may seek the assistance of many people outside, but how many will we collect altogether? The whole world? Even then there are many things left out. Creation is not exhausted by this small Earth. Even if we roam around the whole solar system, creation is not encompassed. The intention of the mind is to reach the limit of its activity, and this limit is never reached by external movements. Despite any amount of external activity—though it may serve as a temporary substitute in order to forget the monotony of life—life nevertheless becomes a monotony to many people. They just cannot tolerate it, but they do not know what to do with this fact. They try to forget it in various ways, but though these may become temporal aids, they are not going to be solutions. The creditor is put off with pleas like, “Come tomorrow, sir, or after one month,” but he will eventually come. It may be after five years, but he is going to come.
13. A Politician is One Who Creates a Problem and Then Tries to Solve It!
We are the same persons that we were some centuries back, and our present day’s troubles are the same as they were some centuries back. Two thousand years ago man was suffering from something, and now he is suffering from the same thing. Yes, we have learned to fly like a bird and swim like a fish, as we have learned many other things, but we have not yet learned to walk the path of being true to ourselves. Man needs to be the subject of his own study, because man is the problem. Space and time are not the real problem. Why should we try to tackle space-time problems alone? Ultimately the world has not really been the problem—we have been the problem. I am reminded that a school teacher once asked a student, “Do you know, my dear child, what a politician is?” The student answered, “A politician is one who creates a problem and then tries to solve it!” Likewise, man seems to have created a peculiar problem, and now he finds this problem present before him. However, he finds it difficult to tackle the problem, because it is his own child. We cannot so easily deal with our own children.
14. Our Problems are in Us, and We are the Problems
There are some doctors who cannot treat themselves. Though they are physicians, they must go to other doctors. It looks very strange—why should they go to other doctors? But a psychological difficulty is there, and they cannot treat themselves. Man’s problem is man, and not so much the world itself. Our problem is ourselves; my problem is myself and not somebody else or something else—not the moon, not the sun, not the astronomical world, not society and not anybody else. Let us forget all these. Our problems are in us, and we are the problems. I began by saying that we are moving vehicles of problems; we are made up of these unanswered questions. This is the outermost layer of the ‘I’ of the human being, which is the personality of conflict. We do not eat peacefully, we do not speak peacefully and we do not sleep peacefully. When we eat our meals we are not at peace, because we are thinking of something else. When we go to bed, we don’t think of going to bed—we think rather of something else about yesterday or tomorrow.
15. Layers and Layers of Self are Covering the True Self
Sometimes we belong to a community and we begin to associate ourselves with that. We talk about it again and again, and we cannot so easily extricate ourselves from the idea that we ourselves are a part of that community. “I am a Hindu, a Maharashtrian, I am this, I am that.” These are the communal selves, but then we have the family selves. We have got family names which are called ‘surnames’, and to each person a surname is attached. It is a family heritage. Then come the personal associations of “I am a judge, a teacher, a businessman, a professor”. These are also selves we have created, but they are false selves. Socially also we have created these false selves. As if the inner problems are not sufficient, we have created additional problems by adding all these from outside. Inwardly there are also many layers, and I shall touch upon these inner layers a little later on. Layers and layers of self are covering the true self. Like layers of clouds can make the sun dark, layers of the false self have made our true selves a mass of darkness, confusion and therefore unhappiness.
16. What is Above this World?
For psychologists, reality means the social world. For them, we must be in tune with the world outside. For them ‘world’ means mankind. The world of human beings is called the world as far as they are concerned, because we are not concerned with the astronomical world. If the world of human society has to be regarded as the reality, then the attunement of our minds with it should assure our happiness. But we saw in our earlier discussion that this is not the case. People who are well off in society are not always found to be happy. They have a secret problem which they cannot understand or much less explain. Yoga began to contemplate the mysteries behind the phenomenon of unhappiness persisting in spite of one’s having everything in life. We may be the king of the whole world, yet it is still doubtful if we are going to be happy, and we will still have many problems. What is above this world? Why not conquer that? May be we have ambitions. Desires cannot be overcome even if we were the kings of this world. Death will come to us when it is time to leave this world.
17. One Going One Way, and Another Going the Other Way
What is the difference between ‘looking at’ and ‘seeing through’? They are quite different things. The inner stuff of things has to be seen. We ought to see the object, the thing or the person as it is or as he is in itself. There is no use in merely gathering information. Glancing over something is not knowledge. Yoga psychology is based on a philosophy that commenced with the observation of the fact that there is a deeper conflict in nature than the mere psychological conflict in the mind of the human being. This psychological conflict seems to be based on another conflict which our psychologists do not know. Why should there be this conflict of the ideal with that real? It is due to another deeper conflict. Here we have entered the philosophy of yoga. There seems to be a conflict between the individual desire and the society’s ideal, because these two seem to be irreconcilable with one going one way and another going the other way.
18. We do not Know What this Huge Cosmos Is
There seems to be a fundamental conflict between man and nature. The conflict between man and society is small when compared to this conflict between man and nature. There is a larger conflict of the irreconcilability between man and nature, because we do not know what this huge cosmos is. Inasmuch as we have not been able to answer this question of the relationship between us and this cosmos, we have not been able also to answer this question of our relation with human society. What we call human society is only a small fraction of the vast universe. Just as a finger is a part of a person’s larger body, this so-called society which is apparently troubling us so much is only a part—a very small part, insignificant perhaps—of this vast and magnificent creation. It is creation that is posing a problem, not this small human society. The problem of society is a part of the problem of the world as a whole.
19. The Strings of Love and Hatred
The strings of love and hatred which mean so much to us in our practical lives are primary obstacles in the practice of the sublimation of values. Love and hatred take certain peculiar shapes, and when they take a concrete form in the world outside, they may take the shape of pampering one thing and injuring another. Affection can get intensified and then harden into concrete forms. On one side there is pampering, on the other side there is the intention even to harm. Anything that is going to be a hindrance to our affection becomes an object of our hatred, and we take vengeance against it. By engaging these two strings of love and hatred, we end up cutting the ground from under our own feet. Such a person cannot live happily in society and becomes caught in suffering. There are various subtle as well as gross forms of the expression of this entanglement which are different for each person. These complications must be analysed in the context of the morality of yoga.
20. Is there a Relation of One Link with Another Link?
We have been just glibly talking about relation. In this sense, when I touch this desk, my finger is supposed to be in relation with this desk. The question then becomes, what does ‘touch’ mean? Is my finger really in relation with this desk? Is a link in a chain really touching another link? We may say, “Yes, it is touching,” but what is this ‘touch’? Does one link enter into touch with another link? Is there a relation of one link with another link? In a chain, does one link enter into another link, or does it lie outside another link? It does not enter—it remains outside. In a relation of this kind, which is perhaps the larger amount of relations in the world, the connected items lie outside each other. The child may be related to the mother, but it does not enter into the mother, or the mother does not enter into the child. They are outside each other and exclusive, even though the child may be so near the mother that she feels it as an inseparable part of herself. Yet, one is outside the other. This sort of exclusive relationship is the so-called relationship of most things in this world. That is why, though things seem to be related to one another, sometimes they depart from one another.
21. All that We possess may Leave Us
We have a working knowledge of things, as people say. We don’t have a real knowledge—just a working knowledge which goes with the life we lead. We have been getting one with things through various kinds of relationships. The adhyatma and the adhibhuta, the subject and the object, and man and nature have been in this sort of relationship—not really related, but only apparently connected. We have not been able to know what to do with this world. Nature has always been lying outside us. It has never become ours. We have never been able to control or master nature fully, because it was always something different from us, and not ours. Ever since creation, this has been the situation, as we have never been able to possess a thing properly. If we could possess it really, why should it leave us after some time? Why should we lose a thing that is really ours? The reason is that it is not ours. We have been thinking that it was ours, but it asserts its real nature of not being ours when it leaves us. “I am not yours, my dear friend. Don’t think I am not going.” Things may leave us; it may be a person, it may be our own relationships, our own possessions—whatever it is—all that we possess may leave us.
22. There is an Unintelligible Relationship between Man and Nature
We may be thinking that it is ours, but a time comes when those things assert their independence. “Oh, we are absolutely independent, just as you are. You think that we belong to you, as well as we may think that you belong to us. Why should I belong to you, sir? Why shouldn’t you belong to me?” Why do we say some objects are ‘mine’, some objects are ‘yours’? What makes us think like that? The others also may think that we belong to them. Instead of other things belonging to us, we may belong to something else. There is a relativity of belonging and relationship. Sometimes we are told that this is the world of relativity, one thing hanging on another and nothing absolutely independent by itself. We hang on something else, that thing hangs on us. This is a simple, crude explanation of the relativity of things, which will be more fully explained in the next lesson. There is an unintelligible relationship between man and nature.
23. It is Nature that Speaks through Us
We should not approach nature like a businessman approaching his account books. Nature has to be approached as nature would expect us to approach it. If a person is to approach us, how would we expect him to approach? If some person comes to us seeking work, how do we expect him to come? He should come in a sympathetic manner, in an understanding manner, in an amiable manner, and in a manner which is agreeable to our expectations. This is how we would expect a person to approach us, and not in a way that is contrary to our essential nature. If he approaches us wrongly, then we are repelled by him, and we cannot bear his presence. If this is the human attitude, then this is nothing but nature’s attitude as well. It is nature that speaks through us. When we expect others to correspond to our nature, it is the natural disposition of creation which speaks through our personalities. Nature will not tolerate a person who tries to conquer her.
24. We Try to Subjugate Nature
We try to utilise, conquer, overcome and subjugate nature. This is a very untactful method which we have adopted! Nature puts us off the moment we approach it in a conquering spirit or in a suspicious attitude. Nobody wishes to be approached with suspicion. Our approach should be sympathetic, if it is going to be successful. I will now try to take us step by step to show how nature has been approached by our scientists up until this time. For the astronomer, nature appeared to be constituted of diversified objects, and he took things as they appeared. Each star and each planet was separate, and there were no connections between one and the other. The original approach of astronomy was one of an attitude of the diversity of things. The adhibhuta or the external world was approached as it appears to the physical senses. This approach brought a knowledge which saw the universe as merely a physical object, but the ultimate questions remained unanswered. As a consequence, the world remained distant and only empirically knowable.
25. Gravitational Pull Explained Everywhere
Man advanced in his knowledge of nature step by step till he reached the present circumstance of this twentieth century. Nature was an astronomical diversity constituted of planets, stars, the Earth and so on, and there was apparently no relation between them. We seemed to be suspended in space in a very mysterious manner unknown to the human mind. Advancing knowledge revealed by various methods that the stars and the planets are not hanging or suspended as they appeared to be, but were relatively attracting each other by a force called gravitation. This relativity of gravitational pull keeps them in the position in which they are, and this was a later discovery of many scientists of both the East and West. Gravitational pull explained everything. The foremost among those scientists of the West was Newton, and in India we had the astronomers Bhaskara and Varahamihira.
26. There was an Image of Lord Krishna Suspended in Space
Just for your information, it is said that in southern India near Vijayanagar, a great ancient capital of a Hindu kingdom of the past, that there was an image of Lord Krishna suspended in space. How could this be? Many engineers came and stood looking at the image as it stood in space without dropping to the earth—with no wires or connecting links from any side. British archaeologists who were interested in the phenomenon later on discovered that there were four pillars on the ground which were made up of magnets. The four magnetic pillars were pulling this iron image on the top with an equally distributed power in different directions in such a way that the image could not drop. They wanted to improve this and removed one pillar. An electromagnet was put in the pillar, but afterwards it did not succeed. They could not get the image suspended again, and the effect has been lost for ever. Those ancient people were apparently wiser and surer than the present day scientists! The pull of a magnet is a familiar phenomenon comparable to the universal magnetic pull of the stellar and planetary regions.
27. The Wonder Yet Remains
How many stars and how many planets are in the heavens? We cannot count them, and how is it that they are all so systematically and mathematically arranged with relative pull upon one another? The wonder remains as to how all this system could have been conceived, if at all there were a mind which could have originally set these bodies in such a harmonious relationship with one another. If there is anyone who could have done this, there could then be no greater wonder than the mind of that person. Well, to come to the point, it was discovered that the heavenly bodies are not scattered as children might imagine. There is an unknown power connecting these bodies, and this power is the explanation for the movements of the stars in the universe. But our explanation is not complete here. The wonder yet remains. What is this gravitational pull, and what have we to do with it? How are we to explain the universe for our purposes, and how are we going to understand nature? Unless there is a thorough understanding, there will be no satisfaction.
28. The Many Things are Made Up Only of a Few Things
Knowledge is bliss. The greater the knowledge, the greater also will be the happiness. If there is inadequate understanding, then there will be a dissatisfaction lurking within. “Something is not all right. I don’t understand this.” This is the sorrow of the scientist and the philosopher. As knowledge advanced, it was discovered that the gravitational pull was not the full explanation. The necessity arose to find out what these bodies were made of that were attracting one another. What is the sun? What is the moon? What are the stars? Of what are they constituted? The actual substance of the cosmos became the subject of study. While the superficial vision sees many colours, many sounds and many things in the universe, the analytic mind of some ancient scientists discovered that the many things are made up only of a few things. The multitude in the variety of creation is explicable in terms of a few fundamental elements of which everything is made.
29. What is Earth Made Of?
The ancient Indian scientists felt that everything was made up of five things: the earth element, the water element, the fire element, the air element and the ether (space) element. The ether element was an especially enigmatic thing for these scientists. Everything is made up of these five elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. All the wonder of creation is included in the wonder of these five elements. The vast astronomical universe is made up of these five elements alone. But what these five elements are—that is another question. One needs to go deeper and deeper: what is earth made of? ‘Earth’ is only a name that we give to something which appears hard to the touch, but the mere name does not satisfy us. We may use the word ‘earth’, but what is earth? What is water? What is fire? What are these five elements? Why not go deeper and discover what these five elements are made of? In Sanskrit, these elements are called the mahabhutas.
30. Though We Use Electricity, We do not Know What it is Made Of
Maha means ‘great’, and bhutas means ‘existing elements’. What are these made of? They became the object of further scientific analysis. We know as educated people what these discoveries have been. Physicists of later times analysed the elements of earth, water, fire and air, although they could not analyse ether because they did not know what ether was. It appeared to be a vacuum, and how could one analyse a vacuum? Hence, the vacuum was left out of the analysis. The analysis was only of the four elements of earth, water, fire and air. They went on dissecting these into bits and parts and minor particles visible only to a powerful microscope. It was proclaimed as a great discovery that these physical attributes were made up of elements. They said that there are about ninety-two or so elements. This was a great advancement by the scientists, and they were all very happy. “Now we have discovered nature!” We know that a chemical substance differs from another in constitution and function. Though we use electricity, we do not know what it is made of.