by Swami Krishnananda
The doctrines behind the practice of yoga, whatever be their background and theoretical foundation, come to almost a unanimous conclusion that the novel adventure known as yoga is an indispensable in the life of a human being, and it principally consists in what may be called ‘integration of being’. Now, this suggestion that one’s being has to be integrated – and this is precisely yoga – this principle, at the same time, implies that the final aim of the ‘being’ of anything or anyone is the enhancement of that very ‘being’ itself, a sort of augmenting of the ‘being’ of one’s own self in such a way that the achievement of integration leaves nothing left over as something yet to be achieved, known, contacted, realised, or experienced.
There is a sort of integration already established in our psychophysical personality – we are not disintegrated individuals – due to which fact, we seem to be thinking in a sane manner. We maintain a kind of physical health, which is what may be regarded as the harmony of the physiological system; we seem to be thinking cogently, logically, sensibly, which is also a sort of integration of our psyche; and above all, we maintain that sort of integration in ourselves which makes us feel convinced that we are not dismembered as a composite of parts, but an undivided something. This is the reason behind our conviction that we exist, and we have no doubt about it. This conviction of one’s own existence is a state of consciousness, and it is integrated because it has no doubts about its own self. It is not schizophrenically divided within itself, and no one feels like a bundle of differentiated parts. That we do not consider ourselves as discrete elements artificially brought together into a tentative completeness is a proof that we have a sort of integration in our own selves. This is psychophysical or social sanity, which is our present condition – the state of affairs in which we are. But this is not enough.
Yoga considers that there are larger dimensions of integration, areas of contact which have not yet been explored by our present little integration of individuality; and the existence of such larger dimensions of a wider form of integration is what keeps us restless from birth to death. The satisfactions with which we are acquainted in life are the consequence of a little bit of integration that we have achieved. By ‘integration’ we are to understand a sort of harmony that obtains between ourselves and anything with which we are connected, in whatever manner that connection be. Our satisfactions, our joys, and our securities are direct results of this harmony which seems to be there obtaining between ourselves and the outer atmosphere – call it social, or anything else – and also within our own selves in the layers of our own personality. This is why we are satisfied.
But we are also dissatisfied. The dissatisfaction in life is the other side of the fact of our existence, which arises on account of there being something more to be achieved than what we have apparently achieved in our life. What we seem to have achieved is the source of our joy, and what we have not achieved is the cause of our unhappiness.
So, yoga is a practical science, though it is founded on a very important system of theory, doctrine – a logical foundation, we may say. As far as you are concerned – students in this academy – we need not go into the details of the theory, because that is too much for you. We shall confine ourselves to the actual practical side of what you consider as yoga, for which you seem to be moving from centres to centres in search of That which you are seeking unknowingly.
The aim of yoga, therefore, is an integration of consciousness. This is artificially achieved by our attempts at possession of desirable things, and a tentative conviction we entertain in our own selves that the possession is secure and we have nothing more to ask for in this world. The presence of something which we have not yet obtained, and yet seems to be there expecting an answer from us in regard to our relation to it, keeps us insecure. So far as the satisfied human being is concerned, it may safely be said that the so-called satisfactions of human nature, if they give the indication of there being a completeness in themselves, would also show that their source is insecure, unfounded.
It is only the discriminating consciousness that feels dissatisfied with its present achievements. Ignorance is bliss, and when we know nothing about what lies ahead of us, and we are not even conscious of there being anything at all beyond our possessions and our areas of operation and action, we are kept in a state of ignorance. This ignorance also brings a sort of joy, because of the disconnection of consciousness from the awareness of there being something beyond itself. So, the ignorant person is happy, and we too are happy, though we know very well that our very physical existence here is not secure. It is a terrible insecurity in which we are placed, and the next moment’s fate of our physical existence is not known to any wise man in the world; yet, we are happy. This is an instance of how ignorance can be bliss.
However, yoga is that art of awakening the sleeping consciousness of the human individual to the fact of there being something beyond its present location and area of action, and making it really integrated. We have to be very slow in trying to understand what ‘integration’ means. What do we mean by this word, which we are mentioning again and again? What is yoga, then? It is a communion that is not merely established as a sort of external achievement, but an inward attunement which is directly experienced in relation to that which is beyond and above the present level of conscious experience.
This is something like what goes by the name of ‘intuition’, in a very, very specific sense. It is a direct entry into the object, so-called, of consciousness – an object, which need not necessarily be a physical something. By ‘object’, we have to understand here anything that lies outside consciousness as the content thereof. A content which cannot be assimilated into consciousness but remains outside it somehow, with which the consciousness has to struggle to establish a sort of relationship – this is our present life. We know very well that the world of people, the world of things, the world of nature, is outside our consciousness; and yet, we cannot rest quiet by merely being aware that it is outside our consciousness. We are terribly insecure by being aware that there is something outside the purview of our consciousness, and we wish to abolish this insecure feeling in us by imagining that this object is not outside us.
A person who is intensely in love with something abolishes the insecurity that is apparently there, arisen out of the independence of that object in respect of the experiencing consciousness. A person who is hateful in his attitude also is engaged in a similar act of abolishing the feeling of insecurity arisen on account of a hateful thing, by engaging himself in that procedure of behaviour by which the object does not any more exist as an outside something. I do not know if I have mentioned to you that in love as well as in hatred, we are engaged in a single operation – namely, the abolition of the independence of the object, and an insistence that it is no more there outside us. In love, we absorb it into our consciousness, and it is no more there outside us. In hatred, we try to abolish it in some way or the other, by various means, and it is no more there as a contending party.
Consciousness cannot brook the presence of anything outside it; the whole question boils down to this issue. We cannot tolerate the presence of anything else, but we cannot help being conscious of there being something outside us also. So, there is a tentative, artificial adjustment which the human consciousness makes with everything around it, which is what is called social concourse. It does not mean that we are friendly with anything. But we know very well that we cannot help it. There are occasions when we cannot establish this friendly reconciliation with objects, for reasons known to our own self. Then, we retaliate, and create a circumstance wherein again we are under an impression that we are integrated, in the sense that the object outside the consciousness is not there. In circumstances where it is possible for us to abolish the existence of that object by absorbing it into our own self by love, affection, and converting it into a satellite, as it were – a subordinate of our consciousness – we are again integrated artificially. ‘Artificially’ is the word to be underlined. A real integration is not established anywhere in human life.
Thus, no human being can be said to be really secure and happy. There is only an imaginary satisfaction we are creating – a fool’s paradise, as it were, is this world. We seem to be quite secure, happy and comfortable because we have created a fool’s paradise around ourselves, in which we are ruling like masters. This is a fool’s paradise because it is not really a paradise. It is not real, because no real integration has been established by our consciousness in respect of the atmosphere around it – call it people, call it things, call it the world of nature.
Yoga does not tell us to be satisfied with this artificial integration. It is seeking to establish real integration. Again, to come to the point, what is real integration? It is not a tentative adjustment that consciousness makes with its atmosphere by love or hatred or by political manoeuvres, but by a real embracing of the very being of that object – an embrace wherein the subjective consciousness and the object so-called do not any more exist as two entities, two persons, two terms of a relation. There is no relation whatsoever; it is a relationless widening of the dimension of our being. When we widen our dimension, we exist as a non-separate, indivisible, secure something, and not merely in a state of artificial extension of our dimension – as is the case with a rich man, for instance, or a political ruler whose jurisdiction or dimension of existence is artificially expanded to the extent of the area of his operation. A king or a political administrator is integrated very, very artificially with the area which he rules, and the rich man is artificially integrated to the extent which his wealth can go. But no one can possess wealth, because the wealth is something outside the consciousness of one’s being. The possession of wealth and the security that one feels in its possession is totally artificial, because one can be dispossessed of it in a second. So is the case with land, property, and political power.
The power of yoga is a different thing altogether. It is a power which is identical with our very existence itself, and not because people have voted for us as a political leader. It is not a political power that we are wielding, because we can be rid of it in a moment if we get fewer vote. So is the case with wealth of any kind. We can be robbed of all the wealth we have, and we will be a pauper in a moment. But the power of yoga is that of which we cannot be dispossessed at any time. Our strength lies not in what we possess, but in what we are. Yoga is, therefore, that sort of integration of being, whereby our state of existence – what we ‘are’ – becomes larger than it is now. We are something more than what we are now. Remember these words. We do not become larger by possession or by reaching up to a distant space by travelling geographically or astronomically. The power of yoga is the power of our being itself. It arises on account of what we are, and not what we have. What we have has no sense, because we really cannot have anything in this world, since nothing can be possessed in the sense of an external object.
Consciousness refuses to be artificially and externally associated with anything outside it because, basically, yoga tells us that our being is infinite. It is not a finite dimension that we are seeking to achieve; it is an unlimited dimension that we are asking for. This is the reason why nothing that is given to us can make us happy. May the world be ours, but we are still unhappy, because we know that there are more things than this world. Finally, even if the whole universe is under our possession, we may be cut off by death, and we do not know what happens to us at that time. The fact that our psychophysical existence can be wiped out in a moment by operations which are beyond our control is also a feature which demonstrates the artificiality of the way in which we are living, and the non-yogic way in which people conduct themselves.
What is yoga, then? It is that sort of expanding the ‘being’ of our consciousness. It is not the expanding of the consciousness of possession of anything; it is not to become a rich person, and it is not to become a very important person in the world in the eyes of people. Nothing of the kind is yoga. It is to become important in a different sense altogether – ‘important’, because that which is ‘not you’ becomes ‘you’. The anatman, as they call it – the not-self, or that which is not at all us – which is threatening us, and which we would like to subdue and make a part of ourselves, that ceases to be ‘that which we have to deal with externally’. We are struggling, actually, with our own higher nature. All our struggles, finally, are struggles with our own selves. It is not a struggle with people, it is not a struggle with things or the world outside, because the people around, the things around, the world – all these things that we call by these names and terminologies – are areas where we ourselves will find ourselves one day or the other, because our jurisdiction exceeds the limit of the present location of our consciousness.
If this had not been the case, we would be totally satisfied with everything that we have and anything that we are; there would be no need to think anything or do anything, and there would be no needs of any kind at all. But the world is full of needs, and it is nothing but that. The needs arise on account of the fact that our existence is finite, and we want to break through this finitude by any method that is available to us. But all these methods that we employed, and we are employing now in the pursuit of a non-finite being of ourselves, have failed throughout history.