by Swami Krishnananda
[Swamiji Maharaj leads the group in chanting Om.]
When you sit for meditation, chant Om beautifully, deeply, sonorously – from the depths of your heart – for a few minutes. Chanting Om in this manner will produce a vibration not only within yourself, but also externally in the atmosphere around, especially if it is chanted in a chorus as you have done just now. Its effect is immense.
All things in the world are only vibrations. Concretised, dense forms of subtle vibrations are the things of the world. Really, there is no solid substance ultimately in this universe. There is a hard granite stone in front of you which is a very concrete substance – heavy, and you cannot lift it. But this heavy substance is the form taken by a tremendous cohesion of molecules which form this object called the stone. There is gravity inside every object, which makes it appear as what it is. Else, the molecules will disperse in different directions and there will be no object at all. If the molecules are dissected into their components, they become atoms. If the atoms are dissected into their essential core, they become an electromagnetic force.
The nucleus of the atom is what controls the form of the atom, even as the nucleus of the solar system, which is the sun, keeps the balance of the structure of the entire solar system. The solar system is formed of the nucleus of the sun and the cosmical electrons, we may say, which are the planets moving along their own orbits around the sun. In our body, in the objects of the world and everywhere, this activity goes on. The cohesion I mentioned is the principle of gravitation. We feel that we are a body, an indivisible, independent person, just as we say an atom is an independent unit by itself, differentiated from other atoms. The reason why we feel that we are this body, this independent personality, is because of a nucleus in us which pulls the periphery of this body structure constituted of several cells and molecular substances, attracting each one of them into itself as a magnet pulls iron filings. The central nucleus of our personality is what we call the principle of self-affirmation. In ordinary language, we call it ego.
The ego is not a solid object, though sometimes we may think that it is something like that. It is a centralisation of concentrated energy. We cannot know what the sun is made of – whether it is a solid object, or an atomic force congealed into a form, or whatever else it is. In a similar manner, there is a congealed centre in our own selves which we call 'me'. So forceful it is – so vehement it is – in pulling things into itself that it is sometimes considered to be as hard as flint. The ego of a person is hard like flint. The nucleus of an atom is also equally powerful. That is how the electrons are kept in position; else, they will fly helter-skelter. This so-called hard quantity called the atom is only a concentration of force at a particular point. The whole world is force, finally.
This chanting of Om, to which you are accustomed, is actually a synchronisation of yourself to the great vibration that originated the so-called cosmos. The beginning of the universe was a huge centralisation of energy. 'Energy' is the word for everything. There are no things; even we ourselves do not exist truly as we appear to our own selves. Mistakenly we consider ourselves to be physical bodies because of the illusion of solidity infused into this formation of centralised energy called egoism. Physicists tell us that the solid object that we touch with our hands is not actually a solid object. It is a sensation created by the molecular action of the so-called thing called the object, and the molecular action in the tips of our fingers. The reaction between two types of molecular action gives the impression that there is an object, a solid form in front.
If you analyse the structure of the universe in this manner, you will find that everything is everywhere. The whole universe is a large, unthinkable electromagnetic field. The whole universe is a kind of operation, a law that is asserting itself. A law is not an object; it is stronger than an object, as you know very well. A law can break things, though it is not a hard object.
I am placing before you this analysis to introduce you to the method of contemplating the whole cosmos as a pure, undifferentiated continuum of force. If this method of appreciation in your consciousness is possible for you, what will you desire in your mind? There will be no such thing as desire. It will be an illusory phantom. Who will you desire? Which thing? This context of yourself, as well as the things that you observe with your eyes, being just pressure points – concentrated energy centres of one continuous expanse of undifferentiated power – is what you may call God's power. It is not in one place. The power of God is not in one place, because here is a picture before you of the operation of cosmic power. Even the space in which you are living, which you erroneously consider as emptiness, is not emptiness, really speaking. You regard a thing that is not capable of being caught by the perceptual organs of the eyes as non-existent. Do you believe that radio waves, electromagnetic forces and television waves are moving even now in this room? Do you see them? Because you cannot see them, can you say they do not exist? To us, the concept of existence is solidity in terms of visual perception. Otherwise, we think that things do not exist. People say that God may not exist because He is not a solid object that can be conceived or perceived by the sense organs.
The idea of God should be clear in your mind first before you say anything about it. No remark should be made without proper consideration and a justifiable, analytical concept. What do you mean by God? If the idea is not clear in your mind, you will not be able to meditate; you cannot concen-trate. People always complain, "The mind is wandering here and there." Where does it go? When you sit for meditation on God Almighty, the mind moves here and there. Where does it go? Why does it go? The mind wanders because it is accustomed to think only in terms of visual objects; invisible forces cannot become the content of the operation of the mind. This means to say that all our thought processes are irrelevant in the context of the Ultimate Reality, the ultimate nature of things. We are living in an irrelevant world, we may say in one sense. It is because of this meaningless adventure of the mind, in a meaningless panorama of presentation before it, that great philosophers have said the world does not exist. Something exists, but the world as you conceive it or see it with your sense organs does not exist. God, as you would like to think in your mind – as a huge person, as a solid presentation before the eyes and the mind – does not exist, but He is present much more than that. You also do not exist in the manner that you think you exist.
The Bhakti Shastras speak of surrender – the offering of oneself to God. This is the idea you may have in your mind about surrender. What do you mean by 'surrender'? You have a solid body sitting here, and are you going to offer this body to God? Who are you offering when you say, "I offer myself to God"? This pinpointed, illusory centre, which is the ego that asserts that it alone is and nothing else can be, this objectionable force of self-assertion has to be surrendered, offered, dedicated to a non-centralised cosmical operation, as wide as space, which is conscious of Itself. That indescribable widest expanse, beyond even the concept of space, conscious of Itself, is the only Being. This is why we say God alone is. If you feel disturbed by this statement that God alone is because you see the world outside – you see your family, you see your commitments and your own self – pull your ears, pinch them and tell this feeling in you that things are not as they appear. You have to practise tremendous self-control even to understand what God is – what to speak of actual dedication of yourself to God's Being.
Do you not believe that God is in heaven, far away? The idea of God being far away is implicitly present in every centre of thinking because of your involvement in space which divides everything, one from the other. The concept of distance is introduced into the mind because of this spatial expanse called the sky. Actually, there is no such thing as distance. Distance is an illusion. As I pointed out to you earlier, there is no real distance between your head and the toes of your feet. You can measure the height of your body – six feet, and so on – but it is not distance. It is an organic inclusiveness that your body is.
In the light of what I mentioned to you in the context of energy being all things, you will find there is no distance in this cosmos. If that is the case, how far is God? If God alone is – remember this point again and again – who will think God? Who will meditate on God? You can meditate on God as So-and-so sitting here if you are not included in this pervasive presentation of creation. Can you stand outside creation and think it?
I am trying to take your mind gradually to the point of what is known as supreme devotion to God – para bhakti. The apara bhakti, or the lower devotion, is the love of God as a huge person ruling in the heavens – far, far away from the concept of man. The lower devotion consists in chanting the Name of God as if He has a descriptive capacity or attribute by which you can explain the nature of God. Study of scripture, company of saints and sages, pilgrimage to holy centres, taking a bath in a holy river, and worship in a temple, on an altar – these are gauna bhakti, as it is known, a secondary form of devotion, which is very interesting, very important and very necessary. But even with all these appurtenances of devotion, your mind will wander. You will have a commitment. Simultaneously, in your mind you doubt the possibility of achieving anything substantially in spite of all the routines of your worship, fasting, visualising, etc. A fear creeps into the heart: "What is happening to me finally?"
This fear is due to the separation of yourself from the heaven which God is. You must know that the kingdom of God is within you, as it has been well said. Can you imagine a kingdom being inside your heart? Your heart is so small; it is of the size of your fist, as they say. And the kingdom – can you imagine how wide it is? How can anyone say that the kingdom of the universe – the kingdom of the Supreme Being, God – is inside your little heart? There is no 'inside' in this creation of God. There is also no 'outside'.
Ask your mind again and again: "Do you really believe that only God exists?" The answer you give to this question reveals what kind of person you are as a religious or spiritual person. Do you really believe, from the bottom of your heart, that God is the only reality? You cannot believe it because you see things other than God. Do you believe that God created the world? Suppose that is so; let us accept the whole attractive universe of sensations was created by God. All right. Because of creation, you are moving hither and thither through your sensations. But, did God exist before creation? Put that question to yourself. I am introducing you to an analytic process of your own mind. Did God exist before creation? Naturally, you cannot say He did not exist. Where was He before He created? Was He in heaven? Because He created the heaven and the earth, God could not be in heaven before the creation of heaven. Then where was God? Your mind will get stunned by the thought of such a possibility. Your sins will be destroyed in an instant if you can think that God existed before creation. Then He will not be away from you, He will not be coming to you tomorrow; and, you will not know what kind of being He would be. We have such wondrous descriptions of the nature of God in certain parts of the Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana – which you have to read with an eye of true insight and not like a story or a historical document, which the Bhagavata is not.
Another difficulty before you is a suspicion that God cannot give you all things. You, of course, cannot deny that God can give all things. You are afraid to say that. But the heart also has a heart inside. That whisper of the heart which is inside the heart tells you, "Beware! Don't make a mistake! Who has seen God, and what has God given to devotees?"
Before you reach the borderland of God's existence, you have to pass through veritable hell, indeed. You have heard of hell, etc. They are not certain places, some locations of creation. They are certain conditions prevailing, some circumstances through which you have to pass under the order of this body which you consider as yourself. You will not keep these ideas in your mind for more than a few minutes. "After a while I will go away from this place. The bell will ring, and it will be lunch time." The whole thing has gone to the winds. Why? Because you have heard what has been said, but you have not bestowed thought on it. Merely listening is called sravana. Okay; it is very good. That is wonderful. But how far, for how long, can the ears retain the impression of what has been told? The impression of what has been heard has to go into the mind and you have to start thinking it deeply. "This is what I have heard." That is why I recommend that one should make notes during any lecture or reading, of salient points which strike one as important, because everything that is told or read cannot be retained in the mind. One-fourth of what I told you may be in your mind; three-fourths will vanish completely unless you take down, in your diary, some essential points.
Deep thinking of these truths that you have heard is called manana. Manana is deeper than sravana, which is just hearing. When what you thought, what you heard and the ideas you gathered into yourself get absorbed into your being, they become not merely ideas of your mind but thus become you only. Idea itself is you. You become the idea itself – the merging of the consciousness of whatever you have heard into your own being. Knowledge becomes being. This state is called nidhidyasana.
You have come to this Academy with a serious purpose. You have not come merely because you have free time or are on a holiday. Here you have an occasion to deeply think over what is the real blessedness for you. Are you to die in the same way as you were born, or will you go with joy in your heart? Will you leave this world with the feeling that everything has been achieved – "Perfectly all right, and I'm not going to lose anything"? Or are you to leave this world with the feeling of: "I have accumulated so many good things but I have nothing to carry with me. I have lost everything. Nobody wants me. I am in a wretched condition." Are you going to say that, at the end of time? Or, do you feel that God has blessed you always, at all times, and He is not going to bless you only when the prana is leaving you? "I have many commitments. I have a wife and children. I have to work hard in the office. My salary is insufficient. I have trouble from bosses. I am suffering. My body has illness. My child is crying." These thoughts are also important. They are not going to leave you like that so easily.