A Master Message of the Ancient Sages: Thinking the Cosmic Totality
by Swami Krishnananda

(Spoken on April 25, 1972 during night satsang on Swamiji's 50th birthday.)

Our heartfelt gratitude goes to the Supreme Father of the universe, whose incomparable compassion keeps us alive and breathing, makes our existence possible, and Who as the great Director of the drama of creation operates every activity, every effort, and every thought and feeling in all this mighty cosmos. May our silent obeisance be at His feet which are everywhere as the highest purifiers and the only solace of the restless souls in this world. May God’s grace be upon us all.

Our efforts in life assume a meaning only when they are based on honesty of purpose. And what is honesty? It is a simple obedience to the law of our own being. To be respectful to the rule that governs and controls our own selves is to be honest in one’s life. When we are disobedient to our own selves, we are dishonest, so honesty comes before us with a new significance. It is not so much regard for the welfare of others, as it is usually defined to be, on account of which definition it has become so difficult to practise. It is, rather, obeisance to our own principle existence. When we are not honest, we violate our own selves, tear ourselves into pieces psychologically, intellectually, spiritually. We remain as a house divided against itself, as it were. What could be worse for man than to violate his own laws and to be disobedient to himself? Honesty is the highest policy, as you must have heard. It is not merely a policy; it is the law of righteousness. It is the dharma that rules all creation. Life has significance when it is rooted in the law of Being.

Now, this Being is something enigmatic for the human intellect to grasp. Where is this Being, to whose law we have to bow our head? When this mystery behind the practice and the fulfilment of law becomes clear to our eyes and our minds, our life itself becomes fulfilled. Inasmuch as we do not know the very background and presupposition of this principle, mostly we appear to be failures in our life. A person who cheats himself or herself cannot be expected to achieve success in any walk of life. It is impossible for us to cheat others. We first cheat ourselves; then it manifests itself outside by an extension of its force. We cannot do violence to others unless we do violence first to our own selves. As they say, charity begins at home. Dishonesty and violence also begin at home. We fall first, and then make others fall. We cannot hurl another person into the pit unless we ourselves have fallen into the pit. This is a miraculous principle which rules inexorably, inviolably all creation, visible and invisible, whether it is operating in organic life or in so-called inorganic matter.

This Being, whose law is righteousness and honesty, is to be the guiding principle of our life. Where is this Being? Kṣetrajñaṁ cāpi māṁ viddhi sarvakṣetreṣu (Gita 13.2): This root of the Being of individuals, of personalities, of things in the world, is sometimes designated as the kshetrajna in us. Where is this kshetrajna, the regulator of the kshetra, the operator of this body, the vitality behind all forms in creation? It is sarvakshetresu, in all vehicles of existence. It is the meaning and the very substance of yourself, myself, and all things. Surprisingly enough, it is the law of our own being, and impliedly, it is the law of the being of everyone everywhere, merely because of the fact that our being is also the being of everyone else. When it is our kshetrajna, it is also the kshetrajna of all other kshetrassarvakshetresu. Kshetrajnam mam viddhi. This is something which is not visible to our eyes or palpable to our senses, but the most essential of all essentials in our life.

This is also to be good in oneself. To be honest is, at the same time, to be good because goodness is only an outer temporal expression of, once again, the law of this divinity within us. When we are honest to ourselves, we are, therefore, honest to everyone automatically. But when we regard the kshetrajna in us as different from the kshetrajna in other persons and things, we begin to trade with other people, carry on a commercial activity with other forms of life, and try to make profit out of them. We want to amass capital out of other persons and other things in the world. This is impossible.

Life is such, the world is constituted in such a manner, creation is of such a character that we cannot make capital out of any other person or thing in this world. We cannot profit in the sense of gaining over the losses of other people in the world. This is absolutely impossible on the very face of it, and anyone who tries to manipulate his activities in such a manner as to violate this essential law of life shall be the loser first, while he imagines that others shall be losers for his own profit or gain.

It is impossible to ultimately defeat any person in the world. We will be defeated in this attempt because such an idea is ostensibly contrary to the law of righteousness, or dharma. This righteousness is only a name that we give to the manner in which God Himself manifests His Being in this world. In the Vedas we have two terms, satya and rita. Rita rules this world as the lustre of satya, or the eternal Reality. What we call justice, equanimity, goodness, honesty, principle, is how God appears as this world and in this world. As God is unitary being, the law also is a tendency to the experience of this unitariness. As long as we offer our obeisance to this mighty principle of God working in this world, we shall be a success in every field of activity. Why should we fail? Why should there be such a thing as fall, suffering, and loss in life? All this is an outcome of the movement of ignorance in ourselves, which often takes atrocious forms and rises up as what we know in our Puranas as Hiranyakashipus or Ravanas. These violent personalities who try to demolish the law of God in the world are only configurations of a peculiar situation which it is difficult for us to describe in language, a situation in which we go contrary to the law of our own nature. Therefore, it would be really worth the while attempting every day of our life to be clear in our own conscience, and not hurl it into a pit or violate its personality.

What speaks from the recesses of your being is the law of your being. For a few seconds, just contemplate on how you direct your thought and feelings throughout the day. Are your thoughts honest to themselves? Do you feel in consonance with the purpose of these feelings? Often it appears, without our knowing actually what is happening to us, that we, at the very outset, oppose ourselves and then try to work our success through the fields and activity in life.

Our thoughts and feelings are not in consonance with themselves. There is no system, order or method in the operation of our thoughts and feelings. They are chaotic emanations, as it were, which are not clear about their own purpose, and move at random, imagining that they follow a great principle which should lead them to success.

If the conscience is clear and we are honest to our own selves, we should be happy people in the world. But the way in which we exhibit ourselves in our practical activity, psychologically as well as physically and socially, is often such that our conscience always pinches at the bottom. It is difficult for us to be true to ourselves because to be true to ourselves would be to occasionally not listen to the reports of our senses and the lower mind. Our senses are, unfortunately, our bad servants. We have employed them to gather reports and give us information about things outside. They never tell us the true state of affairs.

Suppose we have a set of friends, advisors or servants on whose reports we always depend, and we act on their advice. If these friends always give us wrong information, contrary to fact, what will happen to us? Such are our friends, who are the senses, which tell us something quite different from what the facts are. The eyes, the ears, the tongue, the nose, and the sense of touch give us erroneous reports of the fact of existence, and they have sworn themselves, as it were, to tell lies only. They never tell a single truth to us, and we have wedded ourselves, as it were, to them so intensely from the very inception of our life that if this state of affairs were to continue, success and happiness would be far from us.

Therefore, the senses and the mind are not good guides. Inasmuch as logic and scientific understanding these days is also based on the report of the senses, these sciences and the arts of thinking are also not ultimately dependable. Logic is based on perceptional proofs. Logic is essentially a kind of inference that we draw on the basis of the perception of the senses, which is itself a hypothesis, which itself cannot be demonstrated as a fact of indubitable justifiableness. Such is also what we call the law or principle of science, by which we swear today. All this is a muddle of life, a complete confusion, and while it appears that we are progressing, we are actually receding from our centre. We are completely side-tracked in our life. We are shown a wrong direction of approach, which we have mistaken for the right one. We cannot ultimately depend on anything that hangs on the report of the senses, or the mind which listens to the voice of the senses. It is on account of this difficulty that one of the famous aphorisms of the Brahma Sutra tells us that the shastra is our guide: śāstrayonittvāt (Brahma Sutra 1.1.3).

The revelation of the Masters, which is intuitive recognition of Reality, is to be our guide in life. We have to bow our heads before these great souls, the saints and sages whose direct perceptions of truth are embodied in the shastra, or the scripture. The Vedas and the Upanishads, and such other revelations of the religions of mankind are to be our guide when we cannot have a visible living guide in the form of a Guru or a spiritual teacher.

But we need not despair. That kshetrajna, the God Supreme, the Purusha who is in all bodies and personalities and in all beings, Himself is our ultimate Guru. Sa eṣaḥ pūrveṣām api guruḥ kālena anavacchedāt (Yoga Sutras 1.26): He is the Guru of all Gurus and knows where the disciple is. We need not, therefore, land ourselves in a state of despondency or a mood of melancholy that we are lost and have no proper guide. Wherever there is honesty and sincerity of purpose, success is certain. Everything necessary comes of its own accord. Why should not things come to us of their own accord when these things that we need are everywhere spread out before our eyes? Neha nānāsti kiñ cana (Katha Up. 2.11). The multitudinousness and variety of things which apparently keeps things away from us is not true, says the Upanishad. That which we actually need is spread out before our very eyes. It shall flow into us like a flood when the time for it comes. We are not beggars, poverty-stricken beings lost in this world, wanted by none. The whole abundance of God’s creation is before us at our disposal, if only we would summon it for the proper purpose.

But we know very well that the law, the rule, guides all things. And as long as we are not in a position to understand this law, things in the world look like opponents, enemies standing against us and requiring us to conquer them. We often say these days that science is conquering nature. There is no such thing as conquering anyone. We have only to make friends with everyone. If we try to conquer others, they too will try to conquer us. What prevents them from doing the same thing? If we regard others as nature and want to conquer them, well, we are also nature for them. They shall also try to conquer us. So there shall be only war in the world rather than friendliness, amity and happiness.

The world outside us is not our enemy. People are not estranged from us in such a way as to make us afraid of them. Forces in the world are friendly, ultimately. They clamour to be friendly with us because the essential substance and principle of all things in the world is coextensive and coeternal with our own nature. If this is the truth and the fact of life, why does it look that we are weaklings, poverty-stricken, and in a very precarious position in the world? We have cut nature off from our personalities. Nature is not outside us. Even by common sense we can understand that we are ourselves in nature. How can nature be outside us? Nature is the vast creation, of which we are also an integral part. How can we say that anything is outside us? There is no need to refer to scriptures or use intuition; even by common sense can it not be understood that the world is one, that nature includes even our own selves?

But a peculiar twist of understanding in us has made the whole situation very difficult. We have regarded the world as external to us; therefore, there is a tit for tat played upon us by nature. As you do to me, I shall have to do to you. This is the law of everything in the world. As we approach it, it also approaches us in a similar manner. As it is humorously said, the world is something like our own reflection in a mirror. If we smile at the mirror, we see someone smiling at us there. If we frown, it also frowns. If we show our teeth, it also shows its teeth. If we call it names, well, we are also called names.

The world is a cosmic reflection of our own minds, and as long as we deliberately estrange ourselves from nature, keep nature apart from us, there shall be samsara. Samsara is nothing but this psychological estrangement of the outside world or the objects from our own selves, whom we regard as the percipients or the selves. We think that we are the self, we are the subjects, and everyone else is a thing or an object. We forget the fact that we are also objects from the point of view of other persons and other things. Instead of converting the whole world into a conglomeration of objects where everyone is an object to another, why not convert the world into a beautiful family of subjects where everyone is a subject to one’s own self?

Just imagine how easy it is to create a heaven out of hell, and how easy also it is to create a hell out of heaven. This is perhaps also the difference between the way in which man thinks and God thinks. What is the difference? Just concentrate your mind awhile to note this simple distinction made by consciousness itself in its own attitudes. You are a seer of other persons and things. They are objects to you, whom you want to put to use for your own purposes, whom you offer to utilise as instruments for your satisfaction, regarding them as objects outside you. You are also an object to them, so they too wish to use you as a kind of instrument or a tool for their own purposes. So each one regards another as an object. This is man thinking. This is samsara. Everything else other than your own self is an object. You never say or think for a moment that you are an object, and likewise, every person in the world regards every other one as an object.

We know the difference between treating oneself as a subject and treating oneself as an object. This needs no commentary. It is quite clear. The subject is incapable of externalisation. We cannot hate a subject. The subject is a source of affability, love and satisfaction. We can dislike, cast away or hate an object. Can we hate a subject? No. Inasmuch as everyone is an object to everyone else, well, the whole world is full of hatred, animosity, and an atmosphere of warfare. But can we change our very attitude? Everyone is a subject from his own or her own point of view, so it is impossible to hate anyone in this world.

This cosmic totality of subjectivity is, in one sense, Ishvara, God Supreme, the Absolute itself. And this cosmic totality of this chaos that is called objectivity is samsara, or world existence. So one and the same thing is God and the world, from two different standpoints. It is hell and heaven at the same time. One thing is hell, and the same thing is heaven from two different angles of vision. God and the devil are at the same place. Perhaps they are one and the same thing appearing as different from two standpoints of consciousness. We can, therefore, convert this world into a field of the activity of dharma, a dharmakshetra, if we would like to do it, or we can transform this world into a veritable field of perpetual suffering.

What becomes clear out of this analysis is that we are in a uniform continuum of forces which are impersonal in their character. The world is impersonal, and not personal. There are no persons or things in this world. What we call persons and things are only forms of forces which do not belong to anyone. Forces are cosmic in their operation, absolutely impersonal in their nature; therefore, they cannot belong to anyone or anything else. They are what they are.

This attitude of consciousness where everyone and everything is regarded as what it is, that attitude is the attitude of God, ishvara-shristi. Ishvara-shristi, or the creation of God, is that state of affairs where every person is taken for what he is and everything is taken for what it is, and not as it appears to the eyes or the minds of others. This is very difficult. Perhaps nothing can be worse than this difficulty. We cannot take things from their point of view, because then it would be to think as a subject rather than as an object.

If I have to understand someone properly, I have to think as he thinks, I have to feel as he feels, and his personality should be my personality. His very being should be my being. But if I regard him as a person coming from somewhere, an individual outside me, then I judge him as an object from the point of view of my own limited understanding and logical restrictions.

All this may look easy, but it is most difficult, actually, to think in this manner. If we start thinking from the point of view of that very thing which we regard as an object in front of us, the object becomes a subject at once. It shall begin to speak to us as our friend. This is what is usually known as the universal love of saints. It is not love as we understand it in common parlance. It is not someone loving someone else. This is not universal love. That which we call universal love is not some person loving some other persons. That would be human love, mortal love, mortal affection, which has a beginning and an end, and it shall breed sorrow in the end. But the universal love of the perceiver of Reality, or Truth, is not a movement of emotional affection from one place to another place, from subject to object, but it is the love of the subject recognised in all other objects. This is what the Isavasya Upanishad tells us when it describes the nature of a saint or a Self-realised soul. It is easy to practise, and one will be the gainer if this practice could be implemented right at this very moment.

We have a peculiar notion that all this is perhaps not meant for us, and for our immediate purposes there seems to be something better than this. This is our folly. Even material fruits, even artha and kama, even temporal satisfaction, even abhyudaya or prosperity in this world, shall be ours if this attitude is to be adopted. We will have satisfaction in this world also. Do not think that we lose this world for the sake of God.

Even taking for granted for the time being that the Realisation of God is in some way quite opposed to the satisfactions of the objects of sense, well, even then the attitude of divine perception, or ishvara-shristi, ishvaratva, is not going to make us lose the values of the world. In many places the Upanishads tell us that the knower of truth is not merely a renouncer of all things but an enjoyer of all things. He is not merely a mahatyagi, but is also a mahabhokta, and a supreme actor, mahakarta. These three terms occur in the Yoga Vasishtha. Mahakarta, mahabhokta, mahatyagi. Wonderful! How can a mahatyagi be a mahabhokta at the same time? How can a supreme renouncer be at the same time a supreme enjoyer? The supreme renouncer has not abandoned anything in this world. He has everything with him. Therefore, he is the supreme enjoyer of all things.

But why is it said that he is an enjoyer of all things while this is practically an impossible thing for us to conceive? Everything becomes ours when we cease to regard everything as foreign to us. Kṣatraṁ tam parādād yo'nyatrātmanaḥ kṣatraṁ veda (Brihad. Up. 2.4.6): Everything shall run away from you if you regard it as an object to be used by you as a servant. “Oh, this person wants to use me as a servant. I shall run away from him.” This is what everything in the world thinks about us. But if we regard the things of the world as possessed of as much value and importance, and stationed in the same status as we are, then things will start thinking, “Oh, here is our friend. We shall go to him and serve him.” All things will come to us like a flood, like an ocean poured upon us, if we can change our attitude.

We have a feeling that we shall lose everything if we regard others as our own selves, because then we cannot get anything out of them. This is our notion: “What can I get from anyone or anything in this world if I begin to treat another person or thing as my own self? I can get nothing, so I am a fool immediately, at one stroke.” Not so. That we shall be losers with this attitude is the devil speaking from within us to defeat us in the very purpose of our life. Instead of losing things, we shall gain all things.

You can start this practice from today and see a difference in your life. I promise you that in a single day you will see attitudes towards you changing in the world. This is not merely a notion in the mind or an imagination, but the truth of all truths. Let your heart change its attitude today. Cease from regarding others as outside you, as your servants or subordinates. Nobody is a subordinate to you in this world. Leave this false notion. Nobody is your servant. Why should you regard others as servants, and why should anybody be your servant? In what way are they less than you? Why should they not treat you as a servant and exploit you? This is exactly what happens. Because you try to exploit others, the whole world is exploiting you, and you are ultimately a fool. You were born as a fool, and you will die as a fool, having achieved nothing in life.

From this very day, try to change your attitude. For this, you need not do anything with your hands and feet. You have only to think differently. What a marvel it would be for yourself and your whole life, the whole world, as it were. It would not merely be a benefit for you that you have brought upon yourself, but a benefit for the whole world. Enmity will cease in the international field. Miraculously, as it were, people will become friends without your knowing. A wonder will work in the world. Do not think that you have not got this strength. You have the power within you. Every one of us has this power because the infinity is speaking from within us. The whole ocean of existence is at our back. When we summon it, it shall come to us. We shall be the benefactor of all mankind and the whole world merely by thinking differently.

Here itself, at this very spot, you can start thinking differently, and these forces of your thought shall be felt in every nook and corner of the world, like a telegraphic message or a telephone or wireless message. The impact of your thought shall be felt everywhere, and forces will tend towards you, flow towards you. The greatest sacrifice that you can do is to think in this manner, as a universal benefactor, as a friend of all the forces, and when this happens, when you regard yourself as a friend of all by not objectifying them, by not regarding others as things external to you, what happens? The Chhandogya Upanishad says at the conclusion of the Vaishvanara Vidya, yathāiha kṣudhitā bālā māmaram paryupāsate evaṁ sarvāṇi bhūtāny agnihotram upāsata (Chh. Up. 5.24.5): All the world will flock to you like children flocking to a mother. As hungry children sit around their mother asking for food, the world shall flock around you asking for succour. Agnihotra here means the cosmic sacrifice that is made by thinking in this manner.

Do not think you are small persons incapable of thinking in this manner, or that this sadhana is difficult. You are not small persons or incapable individuals. You have a great strength within you, and you are able to understand it, only a devilish misconception has entered into your minds, which spoils every one of your attempts. You have to take a strong stand at this very moment, and you know all this. It is so simple because it is absolutely in your hand. You have merely to think differently; that is all. You are not asked to do anything. You do not require money for this purpose. You need not be economically rich to entertain these thoughts in your mind. Are you poor in thinking? Are you a beggar even in your ideas? No.

When ideas rule the world in the proper way based on this law of righteousness, it is called Rama Rajya. People have been talking about Rama Rajya, a new millennium, and so on. But all this cannot come by talks, conferences or lectures from the pulpit or by shaking hands. It requires a right-about turn of consciousness. At this very moment you can become gods in your thought at least, bringing peace to your own self and spreading waves of peace throughout the world, nay, throughout the whole cosmos. This is the Upanishads, this is the Gita, this is scripture, this is what dharma expects of us. This is what God would expect of us.

So I shall reiterate this message that our humble endeavour from this very moment should be to think rightly, and not be under the false impression that you can exploit anything in this world. Exploiting things in any form is contrary to the law of God, of the world, of your own self. So never try to put another to use for your own purpose. You treat others as you treat yourself. It is not doing anything differently with your body, your limbs, your feet, etc. You have only to think differently. It is a master message of the ancient sages, by which you can be supremely happy even if you possess nothing materially or economically.

It is from this point of view that Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj used to say again and again that even if you are clad in rags and sleeping on the road, roar like a lion as if you are possessor of everything in the world. What did he mean by this? How can you be so happy when you are clad in rags? It is because this happiness is not dependent on your clothes or the place that you sleep. It is in what you are, and not in what you possess. You can be happy, and you shall be happy. You are bound to be happy. We take a vow today that we must be happy, we ought to be happy, because to be happy is in our hands. Nobody else can make us happy; nobody else also can make us unhappy. It is entirely in our hands, and from this very moment may we, the children of God, invoke the grace of the Almighty for the benefit of all creation – sarvabhūtahite ratāḥ (Gita 12.4).