The Problems of Spiritual Life
by Swami Krishnananda

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December 13, 1990 a.m.

Larry: I am confused about one thing.

SWAMIJI: Every day you are confused!

Larry: Yes.

SWAMIJI: Then how will I rectify it?

Larry: Because, today, I am only a little bit confused—less then yesterday.

SWAMIJI: You are not listening to me carefully. This is what I understood; otherwise, you will not put the same question the next day after having talked to me one day. Full attention you are not paying. Some little bit you are hearing; somewhere a little is in the background. Anyway, you can talk to me. Yes, please speak.

Larry: Thank you. It is just like I am a stone, and you chisel away a little bit at a time, but it doesn’t complete.

SWAMIJI: All right. Yes. Tell me.

Larry: I understand that there is only one consciousness and the ultimate consciousness is the Absolute; and that everything that has come, this multiplicity, is only that consciousness; and that nothing exists and everything exists—nothing but Him exists, and everything is He; It exists. But only one of the following two statements can be true. One, the illusion or the appearance of the multiplicity is not in my mind alone (my individual mind alone), but is shared with billions of other limited conscious minds; or, that the multiplicity is in my mind alone, and my mind alone exists.

SWAMIJI: Your mind alone, singly, cannot exist. As I told you in an analogy of dream, the minds of the people whom you see in dream and the mind of the person who is supposed to be seeing the dream—they are all interconnected. It is the total action taking place in dream, and it is not just somebody’s mind. It is universal kind of operation.

Larry: It’s the Absolute Mind…

SWAMIJI: You may call it the Absolute. I am just giving the example of dream, that the phenomenon of dream perception is not the action of some individual dreamer there. It is a total dream, including the object that is perceived—because somebody sees the dream and there is a person who is seen in dream. That person who is seen in the dream also sees the other person who sees the dream, so that you cannot know who is seeing the dream; likewise, this is the case of the world. Who created the world? Nobody can say, because it is a total action—neither you, nor somebody else. It is an inclusive action of everything. Nobody is responsible for it independently.

Larry: Then within the dream, all that appears, appears within the mind of the dreamer?

SWAMIJI: The mind of the total dreamer. All action is ‘total’.

Larry: If that is the case, how do you draw practical conclusions about what to do here?

SWAMIJI: Tell me what is the practical thing. Give me an example.

Larry: I am a dream object, and also a dream subject. And everything and everybody else here is also a dream subject and a dream object.

SWAMIJI: Yes. What is your problem now?

Larry: Drawing conclusions. Do I spend the rest of my life just sitting and meditating?

SWAMIJI: Why? Who asked you to sit quiet? Do whatever you like. You may do anything in dream; it matters little to the dream. The dream will continue whether you are a king in the dream or a beggar in the dream, starving in the dream or eating in the dream, or arguing in a court in the dream. It is one substance finally, in spite of the differences of professions, etc. Whether you are a lawyer or a beggar, it makes no difference to the dream, because both are equally harmonised as the basic substance. You can pursue any occupation in your life, provided that you know that all are interconnected with all things, and each one is as valid as the other or each one is as nonsensical as the other.

Larry: So, whether I am a thief or a saint, it makes no difference?

SWAMIJI: It makes no difference, if your consciousness is thinking in a ‘total fashion’. But if you think as Mr. Krauss, and steal, you will be caught by the police as a thief. You will never become a thief if you think in a total fashion. The idea itself is wrong. You will neither do good nor bad at that time. Relations of every kind get sublimated in what transcends them, even as there are no saints and sinners among the limbs of an organism.

Larry: Well, what does it mean to think in a total fashion?

SWAMIJI: Total thinking is to think the object of thought also as inseparably involved in the process of thinking. The object is not external to the process. You are thinking something outside, you are seeing something outside you; that you should not do. Neither you should see anything, nor anything should see you. The seer must be that which is between the two. Then there is no question of doing right and wrong. Such dualities get absorbed into a higher whole.

Larry: What difference does it make if I allow myself. . .

SWAMIJI: It does make a difference. It makes a difference, because you have love and hatred when you see something outside. But when you are in the middle, between the two, you will neither like nor dislike anything. Stand between yourself and the other; you would then be not a human being any more.

Larry: I understand that; but if I am a dream object of the Absolute dreamer and I have no. . .

SWAMIJI: You must be very careful in making statements. You said that you are an object of the Absolute dreamer. You should not use the words ‘object’, ‘subject’, and all that. Those words should not be used, because you are neither a subject nor an object; you are an integral part of that which is operating as a total function. As you are an integral part, you are not an object; nor are you a subject.

Larry: Yes; but as an integral part of that ‘total dream’, or reality, or appearance, I have been given free choice, or what appears to be free choice.

SWAMIJI: By freedom do you mean that you can do whatever you like? Is that what you mean by freedom?

Larry: Yes, within certain limits, I can do whatever I like.

SWAMIJI: Freedom does not mean doing whatever one likes. Freedom is that state of consciousness that does things in the light of the harmony that it has to maintain between the subject and the object. Otherwise, it could not be freedom. You are free only when moving in right directions. Your consciousness should operate properly. Only then does the question of freedom arise. When you think in terms of one side only, as a subject or an object, the consciousness is not operating integrally. It is weighing heavily on one side of the balance.

Nobody, can think like this. Therefore, it takes infinite time to accommodate oneself to think in this manner—that you are thinking something without actually thinking anything. Thought functions without thinking an object outside it. The thought thinks itself, almost in a total fashion, like the body thinking of both the right hand and the left hand at once. It has no prejudices, no partiality; it is immaterial to the body whether the right hand does one thing or the left hand does something, because it is doing it. When the hand lifts something, it is the body that is lifting it, not the hand. So, when you do something, it is the total universe that is working and not Mr. So-and-so. But this consciousness will not be maintained by anybody. It is a very hard job. In one second you will slip into the personality-consciousness. This is why I said we should meditate regularly.

Larry: There is a universal law, then?

SWAMIJI: The universal law is the only law operating anywhere.

Larry: If I think like a subject and allow myself to treat others as objects, that will correct itself, I suppose.

SWAMIJI: It will rectify itself by a reaction set up. The total universe will set up a reaction in respect of that which is thinking in an objective fashion. That is what they call kama (desire), karma (action), and all that. What you call karma and nemesis of action is nothing but the reaction of the total whole in respect of that which is not cooperating with it.

Sarah: So if one has the right consciousness, one creates no karma?

SWAMIJI: Karma is only a reaction generated by the whole in respect of the part that is not organically related to it. Else, there would be no karma.

Larry: My purpose in this world, then, is to live within the universal law.

SWAMIJI: Certainly. Absolutely so. You will be perfectly safe and happy. No problem will arise.

Larry: Does it matter which religion I practise?

SWAMIJI: What you are talking to me just now is the religion. What name you give to it is up to you. We are talking only religion; we speak nothing else, and yet we are not talking of any one religion. What we have been talking just now is nothing but the highest religion, and yet it has no connection with any particular religion which people are practising outwardly. This transcends all the so-called denominational religions.

Larry: How can an individual, then, know what keeps things in balance? If I eat a carrot, for example, I have pulled that carrot from the ground. . .

SWAMIJI: You must know that you yourself are the carrot. You have not eaten the carrot. That idea must go. It is not that the carrot is eaten by somebody. That somebody and the carrot are both eaten by something between the two. Again we are coming to the same point. The eater is that which is between the so-called eater and the eaten.

Larry: So, then, how can I know if there is a balance in my action?

Swamiji You can know to what extent you are personality-conscious, and to what extent you are carrot-conscious. To the extent you are personality-conscious or carrot-conscious, to that extent you are not in balance.

Larry: In other words, if I am either in the subject or the object, I am not in balance.

SWAMIJI: Yes, right. The eater and the eaten are clubbed together by another thing altogether, which is the real eater, if at all you can call it so. The eater and the eaten are both present in another thing, which is the real eater, or consumer.

Larry: The real eater! And we can only know that once we have reached a certain level of meditation.

SWAMIJI: Yes.

Larry: So, when there is evil in the world, and pain and suffering, that is the…

SWAMIJI: You are raising a question that is not relevant to the point. The balance state spoken of rises above the notions of good and evil, naturally.

Larry: But it is the imbalance that causes such perception.

SWAMIJI: Perception is a wrong way of looking at things. You are again jumping into the subjective side and objective side while saying this. You are not in the middle—you are on one side of the balance.

Larry: I am trying to understand. Evil, then, is somebody thinking like a subject and an object.

SWAMIJI: Evil or good, or whatever it is, is a value that we attach to something by segregating ourselves from it. You dread a snake, but the snake does not dreading itself. If the snake is a dreadful thing, it will be dreadful to itself, also. It cannot live for one second because of the fear of itself. You have objectified it and, therefore, it looks evil, isolated from your subjectively structured organism of personality.

Larry: So, there is no evil; there is only imbalance.

SWAMIJI: The imbalance itself is the evil.

Larry: The imbalance is the evil. So Hitler, for example, was not the evil; the imbalance he created was the evil.

SWAMIJI: That imbalance is the evil, which opposed what is other than itself.

Larry: And when the armies came in and fought…

SWAMIJI: Whatever it is, even if the army comes, it has acted for creating a balance which has been lost between two terms of a relation.

Larry: So, is it a positive thing to restore a balance?

SWAMIJI: Every moment you have to restore a balance, in some way, appropriately. You have no other duty in this world except maintaining balance, internally as well as externally.

Larry: So, if I see something out of balance and I take action to restore it…

SWAMIJI: You can take action only in the sense of maintaining the balance, but your action should not create another imbalance. That you must be very careful about. Do not act by taking one side of the issue.

Larry: The dreamer, the Absolute dreamer, does not do any action, does not interfere in the dream itself, when it is out of balance?

SWAMIJI: The Absolute is not out of balance, because It is the ‘Total’ above both the percipient and the perceived.

Larry: In other words, when there is a world war like World War II…

SWAMIJI: A world war can take place in dream also, and it is taking place within the total action of the mind that dreams. A person has a high temperature, he has got stomach trouble, and he has a headache. These three different things are taking place in a person, and yet it is one thing that is taking place in the whole organism in three different phases. Whether war takes place or anything takes place, it is one action in the total perception.

Larry: You are saying that there is only one action taking place in the dream, not two or three actions.

SWAMIJI: One action takes place not only in dream but even in waking. There is only one action taking place in the whole universe, even just now. Only ‘one person’ is doing all things. There is only One Person in the universe.

Larry: When it appears that I do an action to restore a balance…

SWAMIJI: Then you are making a mistake, by isolating yourself as a ‘doer’.

Larry: It is not me that is doing the action?

SWAMIJI: No.

Larry: So, I do not have any free will.

SWAMIJI: Your free will is only to the extent you are united with the Total—not independently as a person. You cannot be wholly free as an individual person.

Larry: Do I choose to be united with the Total or not to be united with the Total? Is there a choice in that?

SWAMIJI: You have no such choice, individually. Your duty is to be conscious that you are a part of It. There is no other choice for you except to be sure that you are involved in the Total.

Larry: Do I have a choice in choosing to be conscious?

SWAMIJI: Tomorrow the leg will start thinking, “I am independent of the body.” Do you think it has a freedom of choice like that?

Larry: No.

SWAMIJI: Will the leg say, “I will go to that side”? It cannot have a choice like that. It is a part of the body. It has to obey the law of the organism.

Larry: Do I have a choice in choosing to meditate or not to meditate?

SWAMIJI: Meditation also is a total action of the total mind, and not of Mr. So-and-so meditating. It is not some subject meditating on an object. It is the total mind trying to become conscious of itself. That is meditation, where the ‘middle one’ is the real meditator.

Larry: If I as an individual choose to meditate, I really have not chosen to meditate? It is the total mind that has chosen to cause me to meditate?

SWAMIJI: The total mind; yes.

Larry: When you are telling me to meditate…

SWAMIJI: I am not telling in the sense you are perhaps seeing.

Larry: It is the total mind influencing…

SWAMIJI: It is the total mind talking to itself, in a way.

Larry: And when I have an independent thought, it is not independent. In other words, if I decide not to meditate, it is the total mind . . .

SWAMIJI: Even if you do that, it is the total mind deciding it for some reason.

Larry: And is there any purpose to the Total Mind trying to maintain its balance?

SWAMIJI: No purpose standing outside. Existence has no purpose; it just is. One does not exist for some other purpose. The purpose is to exist only. Existence is not having another purpose behind it, or beyond it. Everything has a purpose towards existence. Existence is final, and that itself cannot have another purpose beyond it. Everything is; and that is all.

Larry: So, when Hitler began a war, it was not his action.

SWAMIJI: It was not his action, no doubt; but he was still thinking that it was his action. His feeling undid the whole thing. Actually a whole world-process was taking place in the organism of history.

Larry: It was his action, but it was really not his action.

SWAMIJI: Ultimately it was not his, but yet he felt it was his, and so he paid for it. It is your feeling that binds you or frees you. It is not the action that you do that is important. Your feeling connected with that action is important—your feeling that you are doing it. When you feel that you are doing it, you are responsible for it. Your consciousness is your bondage. Your action is not the point.

Larry: Even my feeling that I am responsible for something or that I did something—is that my feeling, or is it the Total feeling?

SWAMIJI: The Total feeling has gone completely even as your conscious awareness of your being So-and-so stultifies it. Though it is there, it is temporarily suspended. You can become a butterfly in a dream, though you have not become a butterfly. The Mr. Krauss consciousness has been submerged by the butterfly consciousness in spite of the fact that it has really not taken place. This is what is happening to us. Really you may be anything; that is a different matter altogether. But your affirmation at present is what is important.

Larry: But is it my affirmation, or is it…

SWAMIJI: That also is the Total only, in fact.

Larry: Any feeling is the Total feeling, is the feeling of the Absolute?

SWAMIJI: Yes, in fact, and finally.

Larry: Hitler suffered for his actions.

SWAMIJI: He never was conscious of the Total. That is why he was struggling, which was a battle against truth.

Larry: He struggled and he suffered for his action.

SWAMIJI: If he had the consciousness of the Total, he would have kept quiet without doing anything. There was no need to do anything, actually, except as a world-spirit operating towards an evolution of a higher order.

Larry: When he suffered, was it not the Total also suffering?

SWAMIJI: The Total does not suffer. It is the individual that feels, experiences joy or sorrow.

Larry: Was his suffering outside?

SWAMIJI: If the finger is cut off by a surgeon, do you say that the body is suffering, or it is happy? If it is a suffering, one will not go to the surgeon at all. It is a happy thing even if the limb is severed.

Larry: If the finger was sick, you mean.

SWAMIJI: Yes. Even surgery is a happy thing, though you are losing a part of your body. Otherwise, who will go to the doctor? Even if you lose two legs, it is only a joy to you. You cannot call it suffering, because it was a necessary surgery.

Larry: If you have gangrene.

SWAMIJI: Whatever it be. Otherwise, who will go to the surgeon? You cannot call it a suffering. Just because some loss has taken place from your point of view, it cannot be called pain. You may lose something and yet you can be happy for other reasons.

Larry: When we talk about the Total, nothing can be lost.

SWAMIJI: The Total does not suffer. It has no pain, and no joy. It has not done anything; therefore, the question of suffering does not arise in Its case.

Larry: How is it possible for the individual to suffer?

SWAMIJI: That is exactly like the moth-consciousness of a dreamer. How did a Mr. So-and-so become a moth in dream? And you may call it a suffering if you like. The man has become a moth or a butterfly in dream. How did it happen? Do you call it a suffering or a joy? You cannot use such ethical mandates with regard to a scientific phenomenon. Nothing is good, nothing is bad, nothing is a pleasure, nothing is a pain to the All. Such things do not exist for the world. You are giving names to certain phenomena that are taking place almost in a mathematical fashion.

There is no such thing as joy and sorrow except as reactions to circumstance. It is only your assessment from your particular point of view. When you change the point of view, pain can look like joy or joy can look like pain. There is no such thing as absolute pain, no such thing as pure joy, also. It is only a point of view that you are emphasising at certain times. Things do not exist by themselves.

Larry: So, people in a gas chamber in World War II—they did not suffer?

SWAMIJI: Gas chamber, or whatever it is. They suffered because their consciousness was tied to the body. Suppose they were in some other consciousness which was outside the body; they would not feel the pain—for example, a corpse does not feel pain.

Larry: But the Absolute dreamer tied their consciousnesses to their body.

SWAMIJI: He did not do anything. Again, you are imputing something to the Total, which has no adjective or adjunct.

Larry: How is it that the consciousness is tied to the body?

SWAMIJI: You should not put questions like ‘how’, and all that. You are again putting the same question, why it has taken place. Until the effect returns to the cause, it can have no answer.

Larry: Nonetheless, those people whose consciousnesses were tied to their bodies, they suffered.

SWAMIJI: Naturally, they will suffer because the body is limited. When the consciousness is absolved from the body, they will not feel pain. People throw corpses to the Ganga, which do not feel the pain of drowning. The consciousness is the cause of pain, not the action itself, or the temporal event.

Larry: Then, does not the Total consciousness. . .

SWAMIJI: The Total consciousness does not suffer or enjoy. It just is Itself.

Larry: It does not experience the suffering of the individual consciousness?

SWAMIJI: No, it cannot suffer, because in the Total the tree that is cut and also the axe that is cutting are both of the same force. There is no question of somebody feeling something. It is like the right hand hitting the left hand and you cannot know who is hitting whom.

Larry: A child that is seven or eight years old that has not had the opportunity to. . .

SWAMIJI: There is no such thing as child and all that for the Total. Such a thing does not exist to It.

Larry: But in terms of the individual?

SWAMIJI: Why are you talking of ‘individual’ now? You should brush aside these ideas from the mind. We are here trying to rectify our thoughts, not affirming the old thought again and again.

Larry: That is me as an adult.

SWAMIJI: No adult! You are not an adult even. You are one pressure point in the cosmic force which is intense sometimes and less intense at other times. When it is intense, you call it an adult; when it is less intense, you call it a child. Really, there is no such thing as child or adult. They are only two pressure points of electric energy, or whatever you call it. We think only in human terms, but now we must try to think in cosmic terms.