by Swami Krishnananda
There is the path of devotion, known as bhakti marga. The feelings are the faculties that actually operate in the devotional path to God – the intellect and reason are not supposed to be interfering with one’s feelings – whereas in the system of Patanjali, it is a rational volition that is primarily active. Your brain has to be very strong. It does not mean that your feelings are absent, but they act as a kind of cooperative appendage to the reason and the will, which are primarily concerned with the act of communion with Reality as prescribed in the system of yoga by Sage Patanjali.
In bhakti marga you can conceive God from the deepest recesses of your heart. Rightly or wrongly, it doesn’t matter, because what you think about God is God for you, and He will respond to your needs and your calls. You may have any kind of idea about God, provided you regard that God of yours as a complete being, and not one among many gods. Even in bhakti marga, this great prescription is very imperative: That God, whom you are considering as your great Ideal, is the only God before you. It may be the God of the Israelites, the God of the Muslims, the God of the Zoroastrians, the God of the Hindus, the God of anybody; which God it is, is not important. The point is, is it the only God? If there are other gods external to this particular God, contending with this God, then this God is not the only God; He is not Absolute God. It does not matter what concept you have about God Almighty in your feelings. Your love can be poured on any notion of the Almighty Lord, but the condition is, it is the only thing that is in front of you. There is nothing else that you can think.
In Patanjali’s system, there is a little difference. He primarily takes you through the cosmological categories – the process of the decent and the ascent, as can be noticed in the process of evolution according to the Sankhya philosophy. This is a very important point that you should know – how Patanjali’s system differs in its foundational outlook of the Great Ideal from other systems, whether bhakti yoga or jnana yoga.
I was referring to the art of communion with reality last time. You can commune yourself with any type of reality or notion of reality. It may be a little thing, it may be a bigger thing, it may be a nice thing, it may be a not nice thing, it may be even just a concept; you can commune yourself with the ideal that your concept places before you. Now, though this is so, the main purpose of Sage Patanjali’s intention is that the whole physical cosmos should be considered as the object of meditation. The reason is that you consider this world as real before you. Let anybody say it is not there, but for you it is there. It can control you, decide your fate, and determine your actions every day in your life. In order that this world may not be a termagant, a kind of troublemaker, you come in union with the whole world, and you stand as a world individual.
It is difficult to conceive what is a world individual. It is the whole world assuming a consciousness of individuality of itself. When you commune yourself with the whole cosmos of physicality, who is concentrating? The consciousness that is immanent in the entire physical cosmos is contemplating itself. Here, in the act of samapatti or samadhi, someone is not thinking of somebody else. There is no somebody else there, and no someone. I have already described to you the method of transforming the consciousness from the subjective side and the objective side to a transcendental observational position, for which purpose I gave you illustrations from philosophical schools where the position of a thing is supposed to be always connected with an opposition – the thesis and the antithesis, and the synthesis of it – all which I am not going to repeat now. So, with this principle of the transcendental consciousness operating between the meditating subject and the universal object, the meditating subject ceases to exist. You – this person, that person, this lady, this man, this child – do not exist there. It is a unit of consciousness. Every one of you is a unit of consciousness. You should not think of yourself as a person, an individual, a son, daughter, and so on. They are not that.
This unit of individuality which is any one of you is, unfortunately, prone to segregation of itself from its real identity with the entire cosmos – of which it is a child, from where it has come, and without which it cannot exist. Union here means that consciousness which compels you to feel that you are an individual body, enters into the whole physical universe. Then the whole physical universe rises up like a giant, feeling that ‘it is’. This is called cosmic consciousness. And in that cosmicality of the physical universe, the so-called ‘yourself’ also has gone inside. You do not anymore exist as the contemplator of the universe of physicality because it is already known to you that the universe includes yourself.
It is very hard to abolish your existence in the interest of a larger inclusiveness of yourself in a greater reality. When you are told that you should drown yourself in the ocean of nectar, you would like to have the ocean of nectar but cannot tolerate the word ‘drowning’. You do not want to be drowned and completely abolished. The ego, the personality-consciousness, is so adamant, so flint-like, it says, “I will not submit to anybody, even to the cosmic will. I am what I am.” When it says, “I am what I am”, it is the body speaking.
With great difficulty, with great effort of purification of the rajasic and tamasic impulses in the mind, the sattva should predominate in you so that it permits you to enter into the cosmical setup of things. When you think, you think as the whole physical universe. You do not ‘think’ the universe, remember that. The universe is ‘thinking itself’, and you are gone into it. Wonderful! You are blessed. This is savitarka samadhi – savitarka samapatti – the lowest kind of samadhi.
When the lowest kind of samadhi is so difficult to imagine, what about the higher ones? Why is it very low in the category of the enumeration of samapattis? Because, even when you feel that you are the whole universe standing, animated by a pervading consciousness, you are likely to think like Newton – that the whole universe is inside space. Newton was a great man, but whatever his greatness be, he thought the entire physical universe is contained inside the cup or the vessel of space-time, and space-time is outside. This is the difficulty that anybody will face. You cannot think that the universe includes space-time, because if that takes place, your mind will stop thinking. Nobody can think beyond space and time.
The categories of space and time introduce themselves so powerfully into the mental structure that when you think, it is spatial and temporal. Immanuel Kant laid much emphasis on this in his book – that unconditional thinking is not possible, all thinking is spatiotemporal, and there are many other conditions, which makes the mind incapable of penetrating through the reality as such. But this effort must be undertaken. Even if you have to stand on your head, you must see that this great ideal is achieved.
For the time being, let the universe be conceived as inside the cup of space and time. The whole universe is there, and it contains so many beautiful things – so many stars, and so many galaxies, the sun, moon, and stars, so many countries, so many people. Let them be there. This concept of the universal physicality in terms of its variegated contents being inside space and time is a conditional union where the mind starts arguing about the finality of this achievement. There is an argumentation taking place, not in the ordinary sense of classroom logic, but an internal mystical argument of the soul itself takes place when there is concentration of the meditating consciousness on the whole universe as relevant to the entire variety that it contains, but as contained within space and time. This is a great achievement. You have become the whole universe. But still, it is inside space and time. So, you have some condition there. Space and time condition you. They have something to tell you, and they say that your samapatti is not complete because space and time are still above you.
But can you, with an effort of consciousness, bring the space and time aspect also into this structural pattern of the whole universe? Here, we are on the level of Albert Einstein, not Newton. In the earlier stage, it was Newton. Now Einstein comes: Space and time are not standing outside the physical universe. It is very difficult, a mind-boggling concept. Nobody knows what you are talking about. Space and time are included in the concept of the whole universe. That means they are within you also; you are a stuff of space and time. You are not made up of earth, water, fire, air and ether. You are made up of space-time. “Oh! How is it possible? Space-time? It is something abstract. What is space? It looks like emptiness. And what is time? I am a solid individual, and the whole physical universe is sufficiently hard. How can you say a so-called vacuous space and an indetermined time can be the source of the manifestation of hard substances like rocks, mountains, oceans, and myself?” The mind will not agree to this meditation. It will turn back immediately.
The mind will say, “No! I cannot go further.” Like a horse which refuses to pull the cart further and moves back, throwing all the passengers down into the road because it is hungry and tired, the mind says, “No, this is no good. Do not tell me all these things. Don’t trouble me unnecessarily. I will simply do something to you.” And, sometimes, it really does something. You may wonder what it will do. The mind says, “You are troubling me like this? See what I do. Beware!” Buddha had this experience.
One day, many years back, a swami who incidentally belonged to the Ramakrishna mission met me – an elderly person, about forty-five to fifty years of age. He was doing like this [shaking his head in all directions].
“What has happened to you?” I asked him.
He replied, “I have come only for that purpose, to tell you I have this difficulty.”
“What is it? How is it? Do you have spondilitis or some kind of nervous disorder?”
“No, I tried a meditation which has put me into this state.”
“What is the meditation?”
“I began to deeply concentrate that the stuff of everything, including myself, is consciousness, and I intensely felt that consciousness ocean is contemplating on consciousness ocean. There is no ‘me’ and ‘you’ or ‘it’ and the ‘world’. I went on doing this, Swamiji, and the result is this. I cannot sleep now, and my head is moving like this.”
I told him, “Swamiji, your aspiration is very good. You are a holy man that you trying to probe into this kind of deepest reality of the universe, but your mind is not prepared for it. You are compelling an unwilling mind to do a work which it cannot do.”
Even you yourself – you are working in factories and offices. Suppose a burden of files is thrown to you and the boss says, “Tomorrow, everything must be done”, you will immediately go mad. You will like to leave the place and go away. The mind says, “No! This kind of work I cannot do.” This is what happens if you go too far without proper purification of your mind.