In the Light of Wisdom
by Swami Krishnananda

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Chapter 16: Questions That Arise

I would like to pause here and give some answers to questions that have arisen. The gist of one question is whether love for people is compatible with yoga practice. The doubt also arises as to whether love for people is itself a way of contacting Reality. I do not think that a detailed answer to this question is necessary, because this subject has been touched on in an adequate manner in our classes. There is no such thing as contacting Reality with another, because Reality is not ‘another’. That which is other than us is not Reality. That which is real can never be ‘another’, and this is very important to remember. That which is outside us and other than us shall always remain alien to our nature. It is also a psychological fact that anything that is totally different from us cannot become a true object of our love. There is no such thing as ‘loving another’. It is just a misnomer. Wherever there is an apparent affection or love for another, it arises on account of a misapprehension of one’s relation to another.

There are two aspects of the factor of love. One is internal, another is external. That which is the rational cause behind the very possibility of affection is different from its outer form or shape. The confusion between the inner cause and the outer form is the reason behind the failure of all loves in the world. We have seen that lovers have not succeeded in the end. They always ended in some kind of sorrow. The reason was that they could not reconcile the outer form of love with the inner makeup of it. Its constituents are never visible to the eyes, and we see only the shapes that it takes outside. In all our affections and loves, we imagine that our heart goes to an object outside. We are concerned with the form, the shape and the object-ness of the object in all forms of affection. But we do not have time enough to think as to why we should love at all. What is the harm if we do not love? Who is the loser? Is it true that we love another for the sake of another?

There have been many people who have held the opinion that we love others for their own good. “I love that person or that thing for its own benefit.” Is it true that we are looking for its benefit and its good? If that had been the case, it is really wonderful, and it should be so. If our love for another is for the benefit of another, nothing could be more praiseworthy than that attitude. But is it a fact? Are we honest in holding this opinion? On a careful analysis we will find that this is not the fact and we are only masquerading our selfishness in the form of a so-called interest in the good of others, because we will find that when love is not received back in an equal measure, when there is no reciprocation of love, our love vanishes into the winds.

Just imagine a circumstance where nobody loves us, rather everybody positively hates us. Will we have as much affection for people as we professed to have? It is impossible to love where love is not reciprocated, and such a love which is not reciprocated takes the form of hatred. Sometimes the best friend becomes the greatest enemy. It is difficult to tackle such an enemy, because of his having once been a friend. In our epic stories we have the instance of Vibhishana against Ravana. Nobody could have been a greater friend to Ravana than Vibhishana, but he became the biggest foe because he knew thoroughly all the tactics of Ravana.

When love becomes hatred, nothing can be more dangerous—not even an atom bomb can devastate us so vehemently as love turned to hatred. The wonder is, why should love become hatred? It is a contradiction. Can love become hatred? If love can become hatred, it cannot be called love. If today it is not love, it was not love even earlier. Love that has become hatred today could not have been love yesterday. Yesterday also this ‘love’ was a hidden hatred, and it was outwardly taking the shape of affection. It is political affection, we may say. In one sense, all our affections are political—they are not genuine. They are political in the sense that they will be withdrawn when they are not reciprocated.

This is the psychological truth about our affections and loves in the world. But there is a greater truth hidden behind it. Why do we love? The reason behind it is that we do not recognise Reality as being expressed in the object of our love. The question earlier was whether Reality can be contacted through love for people. Reality cannot be contacted through love for people, though Reality is the reason behind our love for people. The reason is that our own Self is immanently present in the object, so it summons us. “I am here!” We are calling ourselves in another form. The Infinite is summoning the Infinite in all affections. It is we who summon ourselves in the object or through the form of the object when we love an object; otherwise, love would be impossible. Where we are not present, love is absent—remember this. Love is present only where we are present. If we are not there, love is also not there.

This is the philosophical or metaphysical, as well as the selfish analysis of love. Individually, when we are present, it is selfishness. Universally, when we are present, it becomes divine affection. Both these are true as a form of affection. So, is Reality involved in our love? Yes, because our true nature as a universal consciousness is the ultimate reason behind our being attracted towards objects of the world. Otherwise, attraction would be impossible. This is not only true about human affection. Even the cohesive force of chemical elements and the gravitational pull of the planets are explicable only on account of this universal force of attraction existing in things. In the material realm it is called cohesive force or gravitational pull, chemical reaction, etc., but at the psychological level it is called love. In a spiritual realm it is called Self-realisation. All mean the same thing, ultimately. In that sense we may say we are contacting Reality in love.

This is feasible from the theoretical and metaphysical point of view. In practice though, the fact is different, because in practice what happens is that we do not contact Reality—we contact only the outer form of it. One form of it as the subject comes in contact with another form of it in the object. Two forms collide in love. Though the collision may be occasioned by an internal reality, which is the common substratum of both, the reason is something and the effect that it produces is something else. The forms which come in contact with each other in affection are under a misapprehension when their loves unite with each other, as they may not recognise the uniting Reality that stands as the basis of that affection.

If we are in a position to recognise the immanent cause behind this love, we can contact Reality. This is called universal love which is what one sees in the saint’s love for humanity. This is wonderful, but this is only a possibility and not a practicability for all human beings in a general sense. This is because generally, when we love a person or an object, we forget the immanent reality in it and we go after only the form outside. If name and form are to be cast aside, and if love is to be recognised as it is in itself, then love becomes experience—it is no more called love. It is God’s love for the universe, of Spirit loving Itself—the Universal recognising Itself. The saint’s love for mankind and for the whole world is love of the Self as universality. In that sense, contact with other people, communication with others and affection for things are another form of universal divine love. Only if we are saints or sages can we love at this level, and in all ordinary conditions we are misguided and forget the immanence of Truth. We go only for the forms, in which case we will be failures in life.

Is Brahmacharya Really Essential for Yoga?

Another question that arises in the mind is this doubt: “Is brahmacharya really essential for yoga, or can we get on without it?” The question arises perhaps on account of a subtle longing in the mind to continue enjoying the pleasures of life, although yoga promises many more wonderful things. “Why not have the pleasures of the world also, together with the pleasures of Truth?” That may be the subtle desire. Desires are very subtle, and it is difficult to understand them. We cannot know what is happening to our own minds when we think certain things. Is brahmacharya necessary for yoga, or can yoga be practised without brahmacharya? We cannot be a yogin without being a brahmacharin. It may be pointed out that brahmacharya is different from one’s living a married life or not. It is quite different and has a different connotation altogether. A married person also may be in the position to live a life of brahmacharya under certain given conditions, and an unmarried person may not be able to live a life of brahmacharya under certain given circumstances. Brahmacharya is not ‘marriage or not marriage’. It is an inner attitude of the mind and a discipline of desire. We may be wondering why it is that brahmacharya is emphasised in yoga—what is the purpose behind it, and why is there so much emphasis?

The reason is that brahmacharya means the conservation of the energy of our personality. In yoga, especially in its aspect as meditation, our mind is supposed to be tremendously powerful. A weak mind cannot concentrate—we know it very well. The subject of brahmacharya has to do with the energy of the system. We have a vital energy in our whole personality, pervading every pore and every cell. It is difficult to distinguish this from mental power. The power of the mind and the power of brahmacharya are indistinguishable. We may say even that one is the expression of the other.

Energy is supposed to be incapable of being lost. We know the law of the conservation of energy—our physicists say that the sum total of the energy in the cosmos is the same, and it neither increases nor decreases. So also is the sum total of energy in our personality. This is true, but what happens to the wealth of a country, for example? The sum total of the wealth of a country may be said to be the same—it never increases, it never decreases. My money may go to you, your money may come to me, and it may go to a third person, but the money never goes out of the country. Wherever it may be, it remains within the land. The country neither becomes rich nor poor—it is the same. But people may be suffering due to lack of money, while others are enjoying the benefits of great wealth. We know the unequal distribution of wealth that may take place in the same country, but the nation as a whole is neither poorer nor richer.

Likewise, we may say, something happens to the energy in the body. The sum total may be the same, like the sum total of the wealth of the nation, but individually, in the practical manipulation of affairs, we find that the energy gets channelled in certain directions, like the channelisation of economic power. If my wealth goes to you, I will be sad and you will be happy, but it makes no difference to the country whether I gain or you gain as the country is neither richer nor poorer. But even though the general, theoretical sum total may be the same, practically it affects us. The wrong channelisation of energy is what is to be prevented by the practice of brahmacharya. The different senses—the powers of sense—which work through the sense organs are the avenues of the channelisation of force. Just as there are individuals in a country among whom wealth can be distributed equally or unequally, the energy of the system may be distributed equally or unequally among the sense organs. Sometimes it gets centralised in one sense or two or three senses. If this is so, then we feel a lopsided development in our personality. There is an unequal distribution of energy in the system when there is a lack of brahmacharya, just as there is unequal distribution of economic power in a country.

The yoga system emphasises brahmacharya for the sake of the maintenance of balance in the system. There should not be an unequal distribution of any kind of force in the body. Otherwise, the mind will lean in the direction where there is an excess of the distribution of energy. The mind will think in the direction of that centre to which the energy has been directed in a larger proportion. The energy gets concentrated in a particular direction when the mind drives it in that direction for its own purpose, and its purpose is the satisfaction of an immediate need or an urge.

Yoga is not very much concerned merely with immediate needs—it is concerned with ultimate needs. If we concern ourselves too much with immediate needs alone, we may lose sight of the ultimate need. A good governmental system cannot close its eyes to its ultimate needs and look only to the particular interests of people. The general good of the whole nation is the concern of the government—not merely your needs or my needs individually. However, many a time the truth of this gets lost, and the mind gets lodged in certain objects due to its immediate desires and longings. Wherever the mind is, there the energy also is. This fact can be amply demonstrated in certain practices of meditation.

For example, people who meditate on the centre of the eyebrows or any part of the body above the neck too much may feel a kind of headache. If one concentrates too much on the ajnachakra or the point between the two eyebrows, one will find a kind of headache slowly creeping in. The reason is because the mind is there. When the mind is there, the blood also rushes to that spot. Where the blood rushes, the energy increases, and one will have a headache. The very same thing happens when we love an object outside. We so much get identified with that thing, and we pour out our energy and affection along with everything else, so that the object becomes our temporary self. We cease to be ourselves—we become something else. The practice of brahmacharya, therefore, is a scientific and a psychological necessity and not merely an ethical question.

Sometimes it seems that social ethics torture people unnecessarily. It is not so. Brahmacharya is not an ethical principle merely; it is a scientific necessity, based on a psychological truth. Brahmacharya enables people to defend themselves from harm, to protect their energy and to integrate their personality rather than to allow these to be disintegrated. We know how immensely necessary it is to integrate our personality rather than disintegrate it. The forces that keep our limbs intact are the forces of brahmacharya. The forces which keep us healthy are the forces of brahmacharya. The forces which enable us to concentrate our minds, retain memory and have good attention are the forces of brahmacharya. The forces that give strength to the body are those of brahmacharya. Finally, of course, it goes without saying that these energies combine to establish such a balance and harmony in our system that rajas and tamas cease and sattva reveals itself. Sattva is another name for balance of force, and it is in this state of balanced forces that Truth gets reflected.

Can this System of Spiritual Harmony be Induced by the Intake of Certain Medicines or Drugs?

“Can we induce this system of spiritual harmony by the intake of certain medicines or drugs?” is the next question. It is not possible. When we take a strong dose of coffee or tea, or perhaps when we smoke a cigarette, we seem to be energised, and it looks as though we are in a state of mental concentration. When we take a strong dose of coffee we will find, for a few minutes, that our mind is concentrated. But it is only for a few minutes, and then the concentration lessens. The reason for this rush of energy is not from concentration of mind but due to the stirring up of the nervous system. Drugs act upon the nerves and not so much on the mind. Inasmuch as the mind is connected with the action of the nerves, it looks as though the mind is influenced by the action of the nerves.

Suppose the person to my left pushes me. The impact of the push from my friend on the left may be communicated to my friend on the right. I am not actually pushing the person to the right, but the push that I received from the left causes me to contact the person on the right, and the right also receives the push. But the person on the right is not influenced, though the push has been felt. First of all, there is no actual psychological influence on the person who receives this push, though he feels the push physically. Second, that person who has received the push may give another push back to keep his balance. This the mind may do, and it will do this. The intake of any drug, narcotic or any kind of stimulant—even a cup of tea—such a simple thing as that gives a push to the nerves. The nerves push the mind, and it looks as if the mind has been influenced. The mind will immediately react. It may give a push back to the nerves, and when it does, we feel a debilitated condition of our system.

After the effects of a heavy dose of a narcotic have worn off, we will find that we have become physically weak. We were not strong during the drug experience; the strength was only a temporary feeling that had been artificially induced. The mind gives a push back because the push was given to it involuntarily. If I had wanted to be pushed, of course then I may keep quiet, but if I do not want to receive the push and you unnecessarily push me, then I’ll retaliate by giving you a push back. The mind is not prepared to accept the push. Even a monkey does not want to be taken unawares. Immediately he will make faces if someone goes near him and he is caught off guard.

Therefore in the intake of drugs—including narcotics, pharmaceutical preparations, etc.—the action is directly upon the nervous system and the cellular constitution of the body, and not on the mind. The mind will retaliate against the stimulation that it has received from the intake of drugs; and secondly it will not be really influenced, because influence is different from a push. We know the difference. I can influence someone and convince him to do some work, but if I try to push him to do something, that is another thing. Sometimes we are compelled to do a thing on account of the force that is exerted upon us, but it may be against our own will. If however we are convinced internally, then we will do the work more satisfactorily and joyously than under compulsion from outside. The mind will not concentrate when it is compelled to concentrate. Nobody will do anything under compulsion. This is a general law everywhere, applicable to everyone. People may appear to do a forced activity, but it will be mechanical action and not an organic action. We are concerned with living forces and not merely with dead facts.

The mind is not ultimately our concern in yoga, though we may take it for granted that the mind is influenced to some extent by drugs, etc. Consciousness is different from mind, and in yoga we can never influence consciousness, not even with the mind. Even if, for the time being, the mind can be influence to some extent through drugs, that concentration of the mind is not yoga. Concentration of the mind in yoga is to bring about another condition altogether, which is Spiritual-realisation.

The question may arise again as to whether we can enter into the infinite bliss of Reality through these inducements of mental concentration brought on by drugs. The answer is that ‘we’ cannot enter the Infinite, because who is entering the Infinite? May I ask this question: who is it who is putting these questions? Mister So-and-So, Jacob or John? So, we want to enter the Infinite? It is impossible. Only the Infinite can enter the Infinite—not you and I. Anything that is external to infinitude cannot enter the Infinite—not drugs, and not even the mind if it is external to the Infinite. There is no such thing as entering the Infinite, because there is nobody outside the Infinite who is to enter it.

Then what is it that we call the Realisation of the Infinite in yoga? It is realisation, not entering—we must remember the difference. Realisation is different from entering. We realise that we are inside a room. We are already there, so there is no question of entering the room. Entering is a question that arises when we are outside it. When we are already there, we have only to be aware that we are there. The consciousness within us, the consciousness that we really are, is to become aware that it is consciousness. It is not the mind that enters the Infinite. It is not an individual that goes to God. It is not man that confronts the Maker. There is no such thing.

It is not one thing going to another thing, one man speaking to another person, and it is not a union between two things. The so-called ‘union’ which is yoga is only a manner of speaking; there is really no union. It is Self-realisation—that is the proper term, if we must describe the state. Self-realisation is the Self realising Itself as the Infinite, and not one man entering another person or the Self entering the Infinite. What is more, the Self is the Infinite, so the Self does not enter the Infinite. A doubt may still persist whether any artificial means can be employed in this Self-realisation? What is an artificial means? By artificial means, one perhaps thinks that it is any matter other than yoga. Can we become the Infinite or realise it or experience it or enter into it by any means other than yoga? If any other means is competent to make us realise the Self, then that is yoga, because any means that can enable the consciousness to rest in itself—by freeing itself from the so-called clutches of body, nerves, senses and even the mind—that is yoga.

My point is that drugs cannot do this, because if we do not want to have this experience, drugs cannot compel us to have it, and if we really want to have this experience, drugs are not necessary. We want a drug only when we do not want to do a thing. We cannot go to sleep, therefore we take a tablet. If we could get to sleep on our own, why would we want to take a tablet? The reason is that we want a push from outside. We want a cardamom mixture for digesting food because we cannot digest it ourselves, and we want a tablet to go to sleep, and we want someone to force us to get up and go for a walk.

This is the way in which most people live these days, on account of a kind of weakness that has crept into their systems. The body has become very weak; and the nerves, the senses and the mind are all very weak due to a depression and a mood of melancholy. A kind of frustrated feeling has entered into the mind due to which one cannot do anything for oneself. “I cannot even stand up.” That seems to be the feeling of many people. What do we then do with ourselves? We attempt to drive ourselves with a force that is not our own. The force that is not ours should come to our aid and make us move. This is not going to help us, because the Infinite has no concern with another—not drugs and not with any other external influence. Yoga or Self-experience is an inner ripening of consciousness—a growth that is taking place within us. It is like growing up from childhood into adulthood. By using drugs we cannot suddenly make ourselves taller in one day. A sapling cannot become a huge banyan tree in one day by any amount of drugs.

Gradual growth is a natural process, and inducements of any kind, whatever be their nature, are unnatural. Lack of strength, lack of concentration of mind, and a subtle desire for enjoyment persisting within us are the causes for the obstacles mentioned just now. One cannot love two things at the same time. We either have this or we have that. We cannot have experience of the Infinite along with the finite within us. There is an unconscious feeling in people’s minds that when we experience the Infinite, we are as individuals still there experiencing the Infinite. The Infinite is something regarded as some kind of objective reality, but it is not so. God is not an objective reality, and the Infinite is not an objective reality. It is a wrong usage of terms. What do we mean by ‘objective reality’, as if it were there outside us? It is not outside us. The very same inner experience of our own Self is the Infinite. We may call it objective in the sense that it is real, just as in common parlance we say something is an objective observation of facts—which means a dispassionate observation. In that sense, the Infinite is objective, but it is not objective in the sense of a thing outside us.

There is no individual ‘I’, and therefore there is no ‘another’. It is the incrustation of desire for another that is preventing the consciousness from resting in itself. When the desire is absent, we enter into the Infinite automatically—there need be no doubt about it. Why worry about drugs, medicines, this, that and so on? There is no obstacle to our experiencing the Infinite except our love for objects, which means to say, those things which are artificially regarded by us as outside the Infinite. If this so-called ‘outside the Infinite’ is the obstacle, and if the Infinite alone exists, and we really believe it, we shall enter into it even today.

Where Does the Curiosity to Know Rest?

Another question which has come up is: “Where does the curiosity to know rest?” The question seems to be this one perhaps: “If everything is a manifestation of nature, from where does the desire to know nature come about? Who knows nature, if nature is everything?” When nature is interpreted as everything, and if we really believe that nature is everything and there is nothing outside it, there is no such thing as someone knowing nature. The very doubt implies that there are two things—nature and someone who knows it. This is the Samkhya difficulty of the purusha and prakriti. There is no such thing as a knower of nature, because the moment that we suspect that there is a knower of nature, we do not believe that nature is everything. So we have created an artificial difficulty by raising this question. We either say nature is everything or we say there is something outside nature. We cannot say both things at the same time. If nature is everything and there is nothing outside nature, who is to know nature? Nature knows itself.

But I can understand the reason for this doubt. The reason is, nature is somehow or the other felt to be an unconscious body outside, and there is a feeling that nature cannot know because it is material. In this formulation the knower must be outside, but where does the knower rest? If the knower is regarded as a centre of consciousness, which seems to be the fact, and if nature is regarded as inert matter outside the knower, then there is no question of consciousness resting in nature. The implication is that nature is outside the knowing consciousness. However, this is not the truth. When we speak of nature in yoga psychology and philosophy, it includes all things, and even the so-called matter outside becomes a configuration of Spirit. Again we go back to the analysis we made in our study of perception. Consciousness, which is the knower, is immanent and transcendent—both in the subject that knows and the object that is known. Nature, which is regarded as the object, is again a vehicle of the very same Spirit, and when Spirit realises its immanence in the object, nature shall cease to be. There will be no nature; there will be only Spirit. This, once again, is God-realisation.

When there is attention, where does the attention rest? It rests in the chitta, which is that which entertains attention on anything. There are four aspects of the psychological organ: manas, buddhi, ahamkara and chitta. Chitta is the base or the raw material of the psychological functions. Just as we have ore in a mine out of which we get the minerals, the chitta may be regarded as ore. When the perception is not distracted and there is attention and concentration, chitta functions, and chitta alone functions. The question comes: “Does the chitta pervade the mind?” Just as the mind or the prana pervade the body, does the chitta pervade the mind? Yes, if we regard chitta as the cause and mind as the effect, we may say that chitta pervades the mind. The ore pervades the mineral, and the mineral is contained in the ore, as it is the basic material. The chitta, as the stuff of the psychological functions, operates through every expression of these functions, and so in that sense we may say chitta pervades them.

Sometimes we may identify this chitta with the unconscious storehouse of all impressions within, and it also pervades the expressions thereof. The articles of a retail shop may be said to be pervaded by the wholesale shop from which they came, because these articles of the retail shop originate from the wholesale shop. The wholesale storehouse is the source from which some articles have been taken to the retail shop. In this sense, the mind, the ego and the intellect may be said to be ‘retail’ expressions of and pervaded by the ‘wholesale’ within, which is the chitta.

These are questions that some students have raised. It is necessary that one contemplates the ideas that have been given here. One must meditate on the implications rather than merely the words. Sometimes one has to read between the lines, because everything cannot be taught in a short while. Yoga is a very vast subject—so vast that one may not even be able to learn it fully even in twelve years. Very little can be learned in the space of one short course, and therefore doubts of certain kinds may continue to persist. These doubts will not disappear simply by listening to lectures. They will go only by meditation and concentration.

May I suggest a method? When you go to bed, you must go in a state of concentration of mind. The last thing before going to sleep should be meditation on your day. You should not be engaged in some activity and then go straight to bed. The last thing of the day should not be work, but rather meditation. When all the routines of the day are completed, then you should close your eyes, drop your energies into a concentrated focus, meditate on the implications of the lessons rather then the words and feel confident as a result—and then go to bed. Some of the doubts will get cleared in sleep, because you are natural to yourselves in sleep, and your own chitta will answer our questions. Nothing can be a greater guide to us in our lives than meditation. There are three prescribed processes in yoga which are called sravana, manana and nididhyasana. We hear first, reflect over the lessons afterwards, and then deeply and profoundly go into them in the third stage. After we have heard or read these thoughts, we should reflect over them. That is called manana. What we hear or read now is called sravana. Sravana means, “hearing attentively”. Then reflect over what has been heard, revolve these ideas around in the head and ponder them deeply, which is nididhyasana. May God bless you.