The Problems of Spiritual Life
by Swami Krishnananda

December 14, 1990 p.m.

SWAMIJI: The idea is the very way of thinking. There is always an empirical emphasis in Western thought. I hope you understand what I mean. Objective, sensory-oriented, externally conditioned, socially implied—all these notions are included in the word ‘empirical’. The emphasis is on the external, the individual, the sensorly perceived. In the East, the emphasis is on the universal, inclusive, transcendent, unitary. Nowadays, I suppose, this gulf is being bridged slowly.

Even then, the difficulty is there. I once had a discussion with a learned professor of Cornell University. Finally, his plight was: “What is the good of entering the Absolute if I am myself not going to be there? You see the point? If I myself am not going to be there, who is going to experience the Absolute?” A question of that kind arose from a master of philosophy, head of the department. You cannot say that it is a silly notion. It is a poignant question, but a meaningless fear if you think over it deeply.

Nobody says you are not going to be ‘there’; you are very much there, but it looks as if you are not going to be. Ask any seeker of Truth, any sadhaka, sanyasin, brahmacharin or anyone. All people will have some difficulty in swallowing this final pill. You do not like to be drowned; it is suffocating. Even if I say you are going to be drowned in an ocean of nectar, you would not like to hear the word ‘drowned’. That would strike terror.

There are people who cannot suddenly accommodate themselves to the possibility of their body being consigned to the cold waters of the Ganga after death, which is horrible—cold, cold! One old Swami said, “It is winter. I don’t want to die in winter. It’s cold. How could I go into the Ganga in winter? Summer is better.”

Now, you may be laughing at this way of talking. The attachment of consciousness to the body is so intense that these silly feelings also assume a meaning. How will you throw this body into the Ganga? It is suffocating and biting. You may say, “How is he raising such a foolish question? There will be no such problem at that time.” But it looks as if there is the problem.

The consciousness which is connected to this body at this moment transfers itself to a future condition in which it may find itself, though the consciousness may be wrested out of it and the body is only a corpse. The same thing happens to us when we feel a difficulty as to what will happen to us after God-realisation. After you realise God, what happens to you? Put a question to yourself. Finally, this bombshell will come on the head. So much suffering, meditation, and all that, for realising God! All right, take it for granted. But, after realising God, what happens? This shows how clear our minds are in regard to crucial matters.

There is a dark curtain in front of us. Nothing is clear beyond that. And in that darkness we are groping and doing all our sadhana, meditation, etc. Our meditation should not be a groping in the darkness. It should not be. It should be a walking in the light.