The Heart and Soul of Spiritual Practice
by Swami Krishnananda

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Chapter 5: Pulling God into Yourself

[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.

You have to find a solution to this kind of problem, firstly by attending to these commitments – which are very great, hard realities, no doubt – in the manner necessary. You are not going to reject your wife and children, or resign from your job suddenly, in a fit of emotion, which may lead to some trouble afterwards. Do your duty as it is necessary for survival in this body and mind. Destroy not your body. Do not kill yourself in the name of devotion. The Bhagavadgita is before you, a great gospel of integral thinking. Outwardly as well as inwardly, it has brought before you a complete picture of what your duty is. You have a duty towards everything. You cannot say, "I have no duty. I am totally independent. I care not for anything." Nobody can say that. You are breathing the air of the world; you are drinking the water of creation; you are living because of the mercy of people helping you. Thousands of things are permitting you to live in this world. You have a duty towards them. You have a duty towards all of nature which is giving you fresh air to breathe. And you have a duty to the divinities that are keeping your heart pumping always, even when you are fast asleep.

These duties are sometimes described in our ancient scriptures as yajnas, or sacrifices, known as the pancha mahayajnas. You have to do five great sacrifices – which means to say, you have five great duties. No person can say, "I have no duty." This is impossible. You cannot even exist without some commitment in the form of duty. You are educated people. You have studied under a professor, a teacher. From where has this knowledge come to you? You owe a debt, at least mentally, in your prayers, to this great professor, this teacher, who has lovingly taught you the science, the art and the knowledge of your curriculum. You cannot say, "I have left the college. I left the school. I have nothing to do with him." No. You owe him an obligation. "He has made me. My dear schoolmaster, my dear headmaster, my dear professor, principal, has made me, was kind to me. Today if I am thinking properly and I am a little enlightened, it is because of him." You have a duty. You have a duty even to your parents who kept you on their laps and suckled you. They did not allow you, as a little child, to perish. They took care of you, fed you, loved you, educated you, financed you. You have a duty towards them. A humble, servant-like attitude is called upon you in regard to all these people. Your prayer for their welfare is itself a great duty, as you are indebted towards them. You have studied books. Who wrote these books? These authors deserve your prayers. You have read great texts. You have read scientific texts and books on art, religion, philosophy, physics, chemistry, mathematics, etc. They have contributed to your knowledge. These authors also are great rishis, you may say, who have made you what you are.

You have to consider other human beings as your own self. You are not the only human being and others are just dirt. You cannot think like that. They feel as you feel. They are hungry as you are hungry. They are grieving as you are grieving. They fear as you fear. They have needs as you have needs. If you have ample opportunity to serve these people and redress their grievances to the extent possible, it is a yajna that you are performing.

In the Upanishads we are told something more: you have an obligation even to animals and creatures. A little ant that is crawling on the floor of your house is not a wretched creature. It has a soul. It feels. It loves. It has a family. And it grieves, and is afraid. It wants to survive – like you. The ant's feeling in terms of the need for survival is as important as an elephant's feeling. The hunger of the ant is as intense as the hunger of the elephant. Touch not these beings in your house; do not crush them. Do not pound the ants because they are smaller than you. The Upanishads says that if these beings are considered by you as your own self, they will, after you depart from this body, protect you as you protected them. You will wonder how an ant can protect you after your death. The ant exists in the heavens also. Everything in the world has a heavenly existence. There are no ants, no creatures, no animals – they are all reflections of the forms of an original that they have in the high heavens. When you depart from this world, all these things which you have protected and served and shown love to will come there and protect you. If you have eaten somebody, they will eat you when you go to the next world. Whatever you have done to anybody will be done back to you. This is the duty we have spoken of.

If these duties are performed properly, your attachments for the things of the world, your sensations, will diminish gradually because of your feeling of a loving heart and a good nature. Be a good person always. Be a good person! It is necessary to be a good person. Do not become a bad person. In the Manusmriti, the author says, "Say always: Good, good. Do good. Very good." Do not say to anyone, "This is stupid." Nobody likes to hear such words. Though really a thing is stupid, you are not supposed to say so directly in an outburst. You have to approach everything with an educational method – gradually, step by step, in what may be called a Socratic method of approach. Socrates was a great master of dialogue. He knew what was wrong, but he would not say it was wrong. Gradually, step by step, he took the argument through the mind and the mouth of the opponent or the student, and the answer came not from the teacher but from the student himself because of the gradual process of digging the truth from one's own self. So love all, and harm not anyone. It is a great truth that you have to remember. If you harm anyone in a fit of anger or vengeance, you will reap the fruit of it in the next birth.

If you maintain all these moral injunctions and moral mandates in your mind, your sensations, the desire for objects of sense, will slowly come down – gradually, gradually. God will enter your heart. "Empty thyself. I shall fill Thee," the great Master told us. God is telling you, "I shall fill you – but first you should empty yourself." Empty yourself. What does it mean? This ego is asserting its independence, like Lucifer who rebelled against God and said, "I am – as much as You are." This Lucifer is your ego. It must be subdued and emptied of its content of the power of self-affirmation. When you become a vacuous content, the universal forces will rush into you. The pratyahara and dharana techniques of yoga are just these processes of allowing entry into yourself of the forces of the world. The windows of your personality are closed completely by the order of the ego which says, "Keep quiet. Allow none inside. I am the Master. I am the King. I am the Lord of all things! If worse comes to worst, you mind your business. Let the world go to the dogs." This is the voice of the ego, which must be emptied of its content, which is nothing but self-affirmation – an incapacity in yourself to concede anything to other people. You will never concede anything to others. Everything is yours – yourself only. "I am what I am and what I say is final, and you don't talk." This is what the ego says. Why should they not talk? If you can talk, others also can talk. And if you have ideas, they, too, have ideas. Everything is everywhere, even in the psychological realm.

If you are sincere, honest in your heart, and if you want God truly, He shall come. Undivided devotion is called for – ananya cintana. Read this yoga of the Bhagavadgita: ananyas cintayanto mam ye janah paryupasate tesham nityabhiyuktanam yoga-ksemam vahamya aham (B.G. 9.22). The whole of the Bhagavadgita gospel is clinched in this one single verse which hangs beautifully like a pendant in the garland of the verses of the Bhagavadgita. Trust God. He shall trust you and give you what you need. And the way of trusting is described in this verse: "For those who worship Me alone, thinking of no other, for those ever-united, I secure what is not already possessed and preserve what they already possess." Something other than God should not enter your mind. Another idea arises because you feel that God is not sufficient for your purpose. He is all-in-all, but there is another thing also which is good enough. That is the honey that the senses are licking in the barbed wire of the objects of sense.

Every day, find time in your house to be alone to yourself for one hour. Sit alone to yourself without any comrade or friend near you – alone to yourself, alone to yourself, alone to yourself. "Am I alone in this world, or have I got anything in this world?" Detachment – vairagya, non-attachment to things – will spontaneously arise in your mind if you think of the way in which you were born into this world. Helplessly you came; in abject dependence you were born. How did you become a king now, suddenly, when you have brought nothing with you? Are you going to leave this world one day? What are you going to take with you? "I have brought nothing and I am going to take nothing. How is it in the middle I appear to be possessed of so much wealth?" An illusion has been cast before you. Alone. Alone. Alone. You are just what you were when you came to this world – a poor, humble being, entirely at the disposal of the cosmic forces and God Almighty. Never forget that, essentially, you are not so independent as you are thinking. You live by the mercy of the world outside you, which also operates due to the centre of the cosmos – intelligently operating, without which no leaf in the tree can move. Finally when everything goes, what do you look like? Think about it. "I have no friends. I have no parents. They have left me. I have no family; that has gone. I lost my job. I have no penny with me, and nobody wants to look at me." What do you feel at that time? That is your true nature. If at that time you are a great man, you are really a great man. When everything goes, if you can feel everything has come to you, then God enters into you and you will be blessed.

I repeat once again: keep company of good people. Even when you are out of the classroom, when you are a little free, either be alone to yourself contemplating in the manner necessary, or keep company with a person who will help you in the entertainment of spiritual ideas – at least, who will not disturb you, or harm you, or make your mind go astray. Keep good company. If good company is not possible under certain conditions of life, be alone to yourself. Thus protected in many ways, guarding yourself in various forms of self-discipline, trusting in God, everything is possible in this world.

But one thing is not possible: trust in God. Firstly, it is because of the distance that seems to be there between yourself and Him; secondly, it is due to the suspicion of whether He is really going answer your prayer; thirdly, it is doubt whether you are meant for it or you are not a suitable candidate for this great adventure. Remove these doubts. Miracles will take place. You need not go to things; things will come to you. I told you a story the other day of when God runs after the devotee instead of your running after God. Can you pull God into yourself and make Him love you – let alone your intention, your being intent on loving God yourself? It is a great thing to pull God into yourself. This is a wondrous technique. If this could be successful, you do not know what you will be. Blessedness will be yours. God trusts you because you are the replica of God himself. He wants you more than you want Him. Do you know that? He wants you more than you want Him! It is said in the Bhakti Shastras that if you take one step in the direction of God, He will come running – taking a hundred steps. Your response is from one side only, unilaterally from one individual centre, but His response is from all sides. Like a flood, like an oceanic wave, He will come and give you so much that you will have no place to keep it.

There is a Marathi saying that if with infinite hands God starts giving you, into your two little hands, how much will you keep in your pocket? Infinite mercy God has upon you. He has created you. You should really believe that you have come from him. You are a spark of divinity; God is the soul within you. The soul that you are is God speaking. The conscience, the soul, the essential root of your being is God Himself planted in you. He speaks from within, and also speaks from without, and speaks from everywhere. When God speaks, he speaks even from a leaf of a tree. You will be a blessed person.

This is what Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj has told us for days and days, and months and months, and years and years, by his personal example of living, by his great writings and his great meditations for the welfare of the whole of humanity.