The Process of Yoga
by Swami Krishnananda

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Chapter 3: Recognising the Independent Status of Things

From the point of creation, two channels of force emanate in two different directions. One is the channel of objects, and the other is the channel of subjects – or, we may say, the channel of the five elements and the things of the world on one side, and the jivas, or the individual souls, on the other side. Just as we have the five elements – earth, fire, water, air and ether – on the objective side of creation, on the subjective side there are the physical body, the sense organs, the five pranas, the mind, the intellect, and many other mysteries that can be discovered within our own selves.

Now, inasmuch as both the objective side and the subjective side have come from one single source, they naturally partake of a similar characteristic between themselves. They are like an elder brother and a younger brother, or we may call them twins if they are to be regarded as having arisen simultaneously. We may call the objective world the elder brother, if we wish, because the objective world is so vast and so incomprehensible and unmanageable to the individual souls. However, whatever be the truth of it, there are two lines of approach: one external, another internal. The external is the vast world. The internal is the individual soul.

As I said, inasmuch as both these principles, the objective and the subjective, proceed from a single parent, they have common characteristics. Whatever the world has as its essential quality or character is also present in us as individual souls. And whatever is within us is also correspondingly present in the outer world. This is the reason why there is a reaction between the individual and the object. The reason why we are able to see the world and react to the world, and why the objects set up a stimulus of reactions in respect of our perceptions, is due to the fact that there is something common between us both. If the world was entirely dissimilar in character to our personality, we would not even be able to see it or know that it exists at all. What is common between us? What is the factor that equally underlies us both? This is a very crucial and decisive factor in our daily experience.

Though it is true that the fact of our perception of the world proves the possibility of there being a common current between both, this common current is never seen, never experienced in our waking life throughout our existence in this world. We never see or experience objects as they are. We have experiences of a different kind altogether. We live in a world of stimuli. �‘Stimulus’ is a peculiar term that we use to designate a set of reactions produced by objects on the one side and subjects on the other side. It is difficult to define it in a better manner. Some sensation is generated within us by the very presence of things, and this sensation is the effect of the stimulus generated by the function of a particular object in the world.

There is a magnetism, or a power, emanating from everything in this world. Everything is a magnet. There is inorganic magnetism, and also what is known as animal magnetism. This magnetic force is nothing but the way in which the energy is automatically released from bodies by their mere presence. Sometimes this magnetism is very intense, and sometimes it is very mild. Intense magnetism can be seen in such things as a loadstone, or what is generally known as a magnet. It is not only the magnet that has the power of magnetism; everything has that power in some proportion and in some intensity. But, even as the fire principle is present in all objects, even in wood and stone, yet we see a matchstick manifesting it in a greater proportion and intensity than a stone. Though the element of power or magnetism is present in different proportions in different objects, it is more manifest in certain things, which we call magnets. It may be a horseshoe magnet or any other magnet.

This magnetism is nothing but the call of the object for a particular purpose. It is not a purposeless action or reaction. It is a summons of the object in respect of other objects in the world. Every object calls every other object towards itself – ‘Come to me’ – as one sibling calls another sibling because of their intimate relationship or blood relation. The whole universe is such a magnetic mass, energised to its core, and its power is incomprehensible. We know what a small atomic mass of matter contains as its potential. It can destroy the whole world. If a small quantum of matter can contain so much energy as to be able to demolish life on Earth, what would be the total energy of the whole cosmos?

This energy is hidden latent, and not always manifest outside. It is manifest only when consciousness rises to its status of self-consciousness. The more we rise in our comprehensiveness of consciousness, the more are we in a position to release energy from ourselves. Yogis are supposed to be very powerful. The power comes not by the possession of instruments or implements in their hands, but by the manifestation of this potent force within themselves – the magnetic energy which everyone has but which manifests under certain given circumstances alone.

What I mean to say is that the whole universe is a mass of energy and power, indicating the fact that the objects of the world are intimately related to one another. This relation of objects among themselves is the cause for the release of energy or magnetism in things. It is a pull or push felt by objects on account of the presence of something else, external to them.

Each one of us here produces such a magnetism. We have an aura around us. Each person has an aura which feebly manifests itself in low-pressure individuals, but which releases itself in high potencies in high-pressure individuals. This high or low pressure of individuality is the result of the proportionate release of consciousness force in oneself by a peculiar art or technique which we know as yoga.

What we call yoga is nothing but the process of the release of this consciousness force within ourselves. This immense universal magnetic force that is hidden, latent and potent in every person and every object is released by a peculiar, uncanny, veiled, unknown process. The process is nothing but the return of consciousness to its original status in which it was when it primarily manifested itself or was released from the point of creation. Jivas could be said to have been in a particular condition when they were originally in the point of creation. Things by themselves are different from things as they are in relation to other things and other persons. This is the difference that I drew between ethical or social relationship and primary or scientific relationship during our first session. We are coming to the point again as an important subject for discussion.

Things in themselves are difficult to perceive, and things as they are perceived are different from things as they really are. We have seen this distinction drawn in common experience among persons, human beings. A person himself or herself, independently, as he or she is individually when alone in their room, is different from a person appearing in public or society. When we are in public or in the external atmosphere of society, we behave in a different way than when we conduct ourselves independently. When we are absolutely alone, unknown, unseen and unobserved, we think and feel in a different manner than when we exhibit our conduct in public life, for reasons known to everyone. This law is perhaps applicable to everything, every object in the world. The thing as it is in itself – the thing in itself, the object as such, the person by himself or herself – is different and is more difficult to study than the same object or person in relation to other persons and things.

When a person is placed in the presence of an object, a new atmosphere is created. When we are in a congregation or a parliament, in a society of persons or bodies, we create an atmosphere that is a little different from the atmosphere we have in our own selves. The reason is that there is a mutual reaction between ourselves and the other persons or objects outside in public, while there is no such reaction when we are alone. This reaction is the cause of our pleasures and pains. The stimulus that is set up by objects disturbs our way of thinking, and we begin to think in terms of the relation that we have already established with the other persons and objects outside, and not independently. Therefore, we have a biased view of things on account of the individual position that we are placed in society. The practice of yoga becomes difficult because of our inability to understand the cosmic relationship in which we are placed as different from the individual or social relationship in which we are usually placed in day-to-day life.

While the two channels of the expression of force, the subjective and the objective, are one at the point of creation, they are different when they ramify themselves into these two channels. This is a matter for deep meditation and analysis by every student of yoga. As I mentioned in the previous session, the object, whatever be its nature, whether inanimate or animate, is a content of our consciousness, on account of which we are able to see or perceive the objects. The entire object is contained in consciousness; and on account of this capacity of the object to enter into the activity of our consciousness, we begin to be aware of an object or a world outside. This is what we call reaction.

To give an analogy, when sunlight falls on an object, the object is illuminated. We begin to see an object outside in sunlight. The object is visible to us on account of the rays of the Sun falling on it. Now, the object itself does not shine. What shines is the light rays of the Sun that have fallen on the object. There is a difference between the light of the Sun and the object that is illuminated; they are not the same. A pot that is put in broad daylight shines, and we say there is a pot in front of us. What we actually see is the illumination shed by sunlight over the surface of the pot. If the sunlight is withdrawn – when the Sun sets, for example – the pot itself becomes invisible. The pot has no character of shining and, therefore, it is not in a position to be seen or perceived by the percipient unless there is an associating factor – sunlight. But when we look at an object, we do not make a distinction between the light and the object. There is a superimposition, as it is called, between the light and the object. The object is shining, we say. The object does not shine; it is the light that is shining, but because we are unable to distinguish between the light and the object, we make the mistake of asserting that the object is shining.

Likewise, when we begin to see an object we make the assertion, “I see the object.” Now, seeing is nothing but a state of experience or an operation of consciousness. Unless our consciousness operates, seeing and knowing are impossible. If we know the existence of an object in front of us, it means there is consciousness operating in front of us. What we are conscious of is not the object as such, but the operation of our own consciousness in respect of the object.

In philosophical terminology, we are given a description of the process by which we become aware of the object outside. Similar to the comparison that I gave of the relation between the sunlight and the object that it illumines, we may apply this analogy to the perception of an object. Just as the light of the Sun falls on the object, our consciousness proceeds from us and falls on the object, envelopes it, and takes its shape, in the same way that sunlight may be said to take the shape of the object in order that it may become an object of perception or knowledge. Our consciousness goes outside through space and in time, envelopes the object, and makes it shine.

Now, this shining is different from the shining of the object by the light of the Sun. We can conceive of an object even by closing our eyes. We can have mental objects, as we have physical objects. The process of perception is, therefore, purely a consciousness process. The movement of our own intelligence begins through an invisible process of activity in the medium of space and time, all which is on account of the fact that the object outside and the subject within have come from the same source.

Yoga practice is the name that we give to the process of this coming together of the object and the subject, and the experience of the subject in relation to the object in the manner in which it would have been had the experience been given to us at the point of creation itself. This is what the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, for instance, mention as the establishment of consciousness in itself – tadā draṣṭuh svarūpe avasthānam (1.3). The establishment of consciousness in itself is only a name that we give to the process of the return of the object to itself as pure subjectivity in its universal connotation.

Samsara, or earthly existence, the world of pleasures and pains, is the world of tensions created by the reaction between the subjects and the objects. To judge an object as it is, is different from the way in which we judge an object as it appears to us. When we look at an object, we do not look at the object as it is. The object means something to us. The meaning that we read in an object disturbs our correct apprehension of the object. We can never see an object as it is by itself. When we look at a tree, we see it as our tree or not our tree, as a tree in our garden or a tree in somebody else's garden, or a weed that grows in our field, and so on. We look at a person as our friend or not our friend, as related to us positively or negatively, as known to us or unknown to us, and so on. Whenever we look at things, we project a personal relationship in respect of them, and cannot look at a thing as it is in itself – just as, as I mentioned a few minutes before, we are a different in ourselves from the way in which we look or appear to others.

This rule applies to every object. If we can learn to look at things as they are rather than look at them in the way in which they appear to our minds due to the predisposition of the mind, we would be independent in the real sense of the term. That is called svarajya, or independence, which is the mastery that we gain over our mind rather than social acceptance of it in a tentative manner.

We are not absolutely independent in any respect. We are totally dependent on many things for our very existence. Nobody in this world can be wholly independent. The entire independence that we are asking for is possible only in the Absolute Spirit. Until the achievement of the Absolute Spirit, true independence is not possible.

The study of consciousness is really the study of yoga. It also involves the study of the object. Both mean one and the same thing. Thus, when we study the subject of consciousness and study the object as independent from each other, we come a cropper. We do not know what we are speaking of, and how this could be achieved. All these subtle matters are difficult to explain logically and scientifically. They are better explained by analogies, comparisons, etc.

I shall give an example as to what a scientific object is, independent of an ethical object or a social object. Take a human being. If we ask who this person is, the answer would be, “He is my father; he is my brother; he is my friend; he is my colleague; he is my boss; he is my subordinate.” These are the ways in which we generally describe a person. But is this really the person in himself? Is he nothing if he is not a father, a brother, a friend or an enemy? Suppose a person has no child; we do not call him a father. The idea of father is gone automatically when there is no child. But yet that person has some characteristics independent of being a father. He may not be a boss, he may not be a subordinate, he may be an only child, perhaps he may not be a friend or an enemy of anyone, and he may not occupy any status in society. It is very difficult to always explain the relationship of a person in terms of external contact, but this is what we try to do. We are habituated to giving this slipshod description. This is the social description of a thing, and not the scientific description.

The scientific description of a person is the description in terms of a characteristic which is inherent in that person. If you are not a president, if you are not a prime minister, if you are not a rich man, if you are not a poor man, if you are not anything that can be described by society, what are you? Suppose you are in the wilderness, in the thick of a jungle, and nobody sees you, nobody knows you, and nobody wants you. You will have a characteristic of your own, independently. When you are dispossessed of everything, you still exist as a person. That personality of yours, that body of characteristic in you, existing and subsisting independent of external relationship, is the scientific description of your personality.

The object as it is independently is incapable of observation because the very process of observation disturbs the activity of the object. In a laboratory there is no other way of observing a thing except through an instrument. Whatever be the subtlety of our observation in a laboratory, it is all dependent on the structure of the instrument that we make use of. But if the very presence of the instrument disturbs the presence of the object, the object's essential characteristic cannot be known. They say that even at this moment of advanced scientific discovery [1972], the actual characteristic of the inner content of an atom is not known. What is it made of, and how does it behave? What is the velocity with which it moves? All this has not yet been known or seen, because the very instrument with which they are trying to observe the moments of the contents of the atom disturbs the movement of the atoms. Likewise, the way in which we perceive the object disturbs the very presence of the object, so that the object as such cannot be known. Hence, no one in the world can be omniscient. Sarvajnattva is not given to us. Nothing can be known entirely by its physical structure.

But there is a superior, super-mental method of knowing things as they are – by not disturbing their existence, by not calling them by name, by not looking at them as external things, but by looking at them as they are in themselves. You know very well, if I adore you, regard you, respect you from your own point of view, you will be more friendly towards me than if I judge you from my point of view. You are a person of some status from your own point of view. Everyone has a certain status of his own or her own. If we take the point of view of that person's status from his or her own standpoint, there is a greater possibility of amicable relationship than if we judge that person from our point of view.

Suppose we have a subordinate or a servant. If we always make that person feel that he or she is a servant, and whenever we summon that person we give the impression that he or she is our underling; that is one way of treating a person. But suppose, though the person is our servant or a subordinate, we do not give the impression that he or she is a servant or a subordinate, and we speak in an affectionate manner as if he or she is our equal, we will know what difference it makes. Perhaps that servant will do more work for us than if we treat that person as a servant. This is because the status of the person has been raised by our recognising his or her independence.

Everything in this world is independent, essentially speaking. No one is dependent on another person or thing from the ultimate point of view, but they look like dependents on account of a social relationship in which these objects or persons are entangled. Everyone asks for independence. No one wants to be dependent. No one wants to be a servant, but everyone wishes to be a boss. It is humorously said that a person went to a Guru and asked, “Maharaj, who is superior, Guru or disciple?” The Guru replied, “Guru is superior.” “Then, make me a Guru,” the person said. Likewise, humorously though, we would like to be absolutely independent in ourselves, free from all external forms of dependence, because essentially we are not related in space and in time. As space and time did not exist prior to creation, and came only afterwards, we want to assert our nature which was prior to creation because that is the ultimate reality of things.

The process of yoga, to put it in simple language, is the art of recognising the independent status of things and not submitting objects to subordination to ourselves in any manner whatsoever. Even a mouse does not want to be subordinate to us. It has its own independence. It does not want to be caught. Nothing is so low, so despicable, as to ask for, voluntarily, submission to others.

Insult is the highest punishment that we can imprecate upon a person. We may deny food, we may cut off salary, we may not sanction their leave; it does not matter. But if we insult them it is worse than anything else because their independence is affected. That is called insult. We deny the independence that the person’s ego is affirming. The highest punishment that we can inflict upon a person is the denial of their ego. This ego, or the principle of self-affirmation, is a distorted form of the supreme absolute independence inherent in the Atman, or the Self of all beings.

It is from this point of view that the sage Yajnavalkya said, as recorded in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad: na vā are sarvasya kāmaya sarvam priyam bhavati, ātmanas tu kāmāya sarvam priyam bhavati (4.5.6). All loves are Self loves. We do not love an object or a person, really speaking, because they are conditioned by the intensity of the manifestation of our Atman. All love is conditioned. We do not have unconditioned love in this world. Therefore, all satisfaction or pleasure that we derive from objects or other persons in the world are also conditioned accordingly. It is conditioned in the sense that it is determined by the extent to which our consciousness has pervaded that object.

There is a story. A poor man was crossing a river with his wife and five children. He had to vacate his house and go to some other place by crossing a stream. On his head he was carrying a trunk containing gold and other valuables, and his wife was clinging to him with their five children on her shoulders. When they were in the middle of the river, the water started rising. His wife said, “There is danger. I cannot bear the weight of these five children on my shoulders. I am going.” As they were in the middle of the river, they could neither go this way nor that way. Either way they were finished. “Throw off one child,” the man said. “Four children will do.” It is very difficult to throw a child into the water, but as it was a question of life and death she had no other alternative than to close her eyes and throw a child down. The story goes that one by one all the children were thrown into the river, and only the man, his wife and his trunk were left. After sometime she said, “Now, even when there is no load on me, I cannot cross. My feet are giving way. I am going.” She caught hold of him tightly. He was bearing her weight and the weight of his trunk. He said, “It doesn't matter. If we are alive we can earn our bread by our sweat,” and he threw the trunk down. But the water still kept rising, and finally he began to think, “Now we are only two. What to do? If I survive, I can take another wife.” He pushed his wife into the water, and finally he alone swam across, having no thought of anything except himself. This is a crude illustration of how the selfishness of a person operates, indicating that there is something speaking from within, though in a distorted manner.

The atma-kamatva can be of two kinds: love of the bodily self and love of the true Self. The love of the bodily self is a spatio-temporal expression of the love of the true Self. There is a vast ocean within us, but that ocean is not seen. It seems that a little tap is connected to the ocean, and though the pressure of the entire ocean is behind the tap, it is not seen on account of the consciousness becoming restricted to the flow of water through the tap. This tap is the ego. But the ego is not merely like a tap, because through the tap we have only real water flowing and nothing else, but here things come in a distorted form through the ego. The ego is not merely a limitation of the ocean behind it, but a distortion of it. It is coloured, it is fragmented, and something else altogether, totally different from the original, comes through the ego. This is what we call the Asura in Puranic language – the Rakshasa. Though Rakshasas have come from God only, they assume a different character altogether due to the distortion of personality through the operation of the gunassattva, rajas and tamas – in very violent proportions.

The practice of yoga, therefore, involves a graduated process of eliminating these Rakshasa or Asuric vrittis of rajas and tamas in ourselves, by which we also simultaneously eliminate the dependence that we feel in respect of other persons and objects, and give up selfishness, or the assertion or affirmation of the ego, and begin to feel sympathy towards all creation. This automatic sympathy that we recognise in the world outside is a very great advance that we make in the spiritual path. It is a step that we take towards the recognition of our original personality, prior to the point of creation.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali particularly give us a very beautiful description of the psychology of the process. The psychology of the process is a gradual elimination of the encrustations that seem to have grown over our personality. The bodily, sensory, pranic, mental and intellectual fungi that have grown over us have to be shed, and the essential luminosity of light that is within us is to be directly experienced, and not indirectly felt through these external apparatus of the senses, mind and intellect.

The affirmation of the ultimately real element in things is the art of meditation in yoga. This is to assert and to recognise the principle of the independence in things, which is the scientific status that each person occupies. To bring back to our memory the analogy of what this scientific status is, we have to recognise a person or an object from its own point of view rather than from our point of view. This is the highest love that we can evince towards others. Love is not embracing, shaking hands, weeping, or emotional outbursts. It is a philosophical attitude that we endow and develop in ourselves in respect of other persons and things. This is most difficult to achieve in life because we cannot be philosophical in our attitudes in respect of others. We always treat others as subordinates, as adjectives to us, a qualification. “What does it mean to me,” is the way in which we read the personalities of others and the structure of objects. Why should anything mean something to us? Does it not exist independently by itself, even if it does not mean anything to us? And what do we mean to others?

This is what is implied in the Mahabharata, that crest jewel of ethical teaching given by Vyasa: Do unto others as you would be done by. You should never conduct yourself in a manner in which you would not like that very same conduct to be shown to you. If you tell a lie, you should at the same time consider whether you would like a lie to be told to you. If somebody tells a lie to you, do you like it? Then why do you tell a lie? Why do you grab others’ property? Would you like your property to be grabbed by somebody else?

The ethical standard is to be judged by its capacity for universalisation. If a principle can be universalised, we may regard it as the highest ethical standard. Take the example of whether it is good or bad to tell a lie. If we want to test this principle, we just universalise it. If everyone in the world were to tell only lies, would it be all right? Not one person will tell the truth; everyone will lie. Then the world will not go on. Because we would not like lying to be universalised, lying is not an ethical standard. Suppose everyone in the world is a thief; will it be all right? Theft cannot be universalised. Suppose everyone in the world is incontinent; will it be all right? Incontinence cannot be universalised. Therefore, any principle that is capable of universalisation can be regarded as a standard.

But there is no such thing as an ultimately universal ethical standard. When it assumes the status of universality, it goes beyond morality. The ultimate reality is supermoral. It is not moral or ethical in the ordinary sense of the term. When we become spiritual, we rise above the moral standard. The saint’s conduct, the sage’s behaviour, is not merely ethical or moral behaviour. It is a metaphysical, a philosophical or a spiritual attitude incapable of comprehension by the ordinary mind.

We have to rise to this level in yoga. To attain this, we have to withdraw our relationships which are of a social character, a empirical type, and accept the pure scientific status in ourselves. This is Atmattva. The highest scientific principle is the Atman. That is the Self of all beings. To recognise the independence of a person or a thing is to recognise the selfhood of that person or object. How would we regard or respect the selfhood or the essentiality of a person or a thing? It is by, for a moment of time, entering into the feeling of that person. If we can think as that person thinks, feel as that person feels, exist as that person would exist, we have not only demonstrated the highest ethical standard in the world, but also done the greatest good to our own self by rising to a spiritual level of judgment and recognition.

Yogic adepts became masters of forces due to this technique of the recognition of the value in things. The more we become intimate with a person or a thing, the more is the power or the control that we gain over that person or thing. And the highest intimacy is non-separability. When we become inseparable from an object, we have asserted the highest reality over it. The more we become distinct from that object, the less is the control that we have over it. Sarvaṁ tam parādād yo'nyatrātmano sarvaṁ veda (2.4.6), says Yajnavalkya in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. To the extent we regard things as outside us, to that extent we have no control over them. They shall flee from us, they shall run away from us, they shall disregard us. And there shall be bereavement, destruction and death; and transmigration, the process of birth and death, cannot be avoided.

Thus, yoga is an affirmation of the independent status of things. This is what all the scriptures describe in various ways, in different phrases and languages. The independent status of things is the status that we occupy in our own self in regard to our own self. This is the metaphysical status, the philosophical or the spiritual status. This is the scientific relationship of things, independent of the made-up or the concocted, artificial relationship that we manufacture for the sake of practical convenience in our day-to-day life. That means to say, we have to become very honest and not hypocritical in our conduct. We must be honest in the sense that we must speak and act in a manner which is in consonance with what we think and feel in our hearts.

The objects and the persons in the world have a capacity to feel in the subliminal level. There is a level of our personality which is deeper than the conscious level, and we begin to feel, unconsciously though, the presence of a factor that is deeper than the conscious level. Often we are automatically attracted or repelled even without our conscious mind functioning. There is hatred at first sight, just as there is love at first sight. Suddenly we are repelled by a person or an object, without knowing the cause thereof. The reason is that there is a prehensive or subtle faculty of feeling in ourselves which is deeper and more profound than our conscious level, and that is the factor of unity in us overcoming the pressure of the surface activity of the conscious mind.

All this is very difficult to understand, and more difficult to practise. Yoga is not a joke. No one has succeeded in it. It is very difficult to succeed, and we cannot see God-realised souls in large numbers because self-control is the hardest of things to achieve. No one can be a master of oneself and, therefore, no one can be a master of others. Unless we have subdued ourselves, we cannot subdue other people and other things. We want mastery over everything, while we are slaves of our own passions and prejudices. Kama, krodha, lobha, the erroneous ways of judging things, psychological entanglements and tensions, all harass us so much from within that we are far from the demand or the requirement of the yogic practice. The practice of yoga is a sacrifice of the whole life. It is not a hobby that we have in our life, for a few hours of the day. It is a total dedication of our personality right from the beginning, from top to bottom, and there is nothing else for us to do. And when this is undergone as a process of discipline, we become different persons altogether, even in our social life.

At this level of profundity of knowledge, the Guru’s instructions are very essential and, I have to reiterate, in matters super�sensible we should not take the law in our own hands. In many matters which are not amenable even to logical understanding, the scripture is the guide; the masters and the adepts who have trodden the path are guides, because at this present moment we cannot see the dangers that are ahead of us. There are pitfalls and hazards that we have to face on the path of yoga. Because yoga is a process of self-control, a withdrawal of the social relationship that we establish in an empirical manner, and the assertion of the original scientific, philosophical and spiritual status of things, we have to undergo a process of dying altogether. Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj used to say, “Yoga is dying to live.” To live in Eternity, we have to die to the temporal process. Thus, we have to become very strict in controlling and subduing ourselves in thinking and understanding the objects of the world in their proper perspective, and never mistake things for what they are not.

The process of yoga is also the process of spirituality. It is to recognise the spirit in things, as I said on the very first day. To recognise the spirit or the Atman in things, the Selfhood in things, the scientific status in things, is also to recognise the highest reality, not only in ourselves but in all creation. For this, the first and foremost thing that we have to do is to employ every method possible to subdue the passions within us. The Rakshasa vrittis, or the Asuric, demoniacal features within us, have to be put down by the force of self-discipline, by the means of japa, concentration, meditation, self-analysis or vichara, study of scriptures, service of the Guru, and beyond everything, an ardent longing for the liberation of the spirit. Unless we actually manifest in ourselves an honest yearning for freedom or moksha, the power to subdue ourselves, the power of self-discipline, cannot come to us.

The most difficult of things is self-discipline. We can discipline others but we cannot discipline ourselves because there is no means of controlling ourselves, while there are methods of controlling others. We have laws and regulations to subdue other people, but what is the law and regulation that we have to employ in controlling or subduing ourselves? Nothing. There is no instrument conceivable. The mind itself is the master and the slave. It has to control itself by methods employed by itself, varying in different proportions at different times in the process of its evolution.

Ultimately, we have no other duty in the world than to subdue ourselves for the sake of mastery. The highest achievement, the greatest fulfilment in life is the consequence or the result of the greatest relinquishment, the greatest renunciation. The more we renounce, the more we practice self-abnegation, the more we practice austerity or tapas, the greater is our power and the more is the control that we can exert on things. And finally, to the extent we have achieved mastery over ourselves, we have achieved mastery over the world also. The highest yoga is supreme mastery – supreme Self-mastery – and in this mastery of the Self, we have at once also mastered the whole world. This is because, as I said, the world and the Self are two emanations from the same source. When one is subdued, the other is automatically subdued. They are parallel lines of movement. When there is Self-control, there is also world-control. When there is Self-knowledge, there is also world-knowledge. When there is Self-realisation, there is also world-realisation. All these things take place simultaneously; they are not two different things.

Remember that the world and the subject have proceeded as two channels from the same source, so that when we touch one element, the other elements are automatically touched. When we touch one branch of a tree, it is like touching the whole tree. When we touch our finger, we have touched our body. Similarly, when we touch the Self, we touch the whole cosmos. It is the switchboard of the whole universe.

You may ask why the Self should be touched rather than the object. Why do we not try to control the object outside rather than the Self, the subject? The reason is that the character of reality is selfhood, and not the object. The Self is incapable of externalisation into objectivity, inasmuch as its nature is consciousness. Chit, or chaitanya, is the nature of the Self, and it cannot be externalised. However much we may differentiate it into the object, it refuses to become differentiated because it is the nature of consciousness to maintain the status of Selfhood, Atmattva.

Therefore, the Supreme Atman is called the Paramatman. The Paramatman is another name that we give to the Atman of the cosmos. While the individual self is called the jiva, the Supreme Self is called the Paramatman, the Oversoul or the Overself. By control of the jiva, we enter into the Atman of the individual. By the entry of consciousness into itself in the affirmation of the Atman within, it has simultaneously entered into the Atman of the cosmos. So, Atma-sakshatkara is the same as Paramatma-sakshatkara; Self-realisation and God-realisation mean one and the same thing. Self-discipline is world-discipline; Self-mastery is world-mastery; Self-knowledge is world-knowledge or omniscience.

This is the nature of God. God is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent because He is the Self of all things – not merely of the subjective side of things, but also the objective side of things. While we experience the consciousness aspect of the subject, we do not experience the consciousness aspect of the object because we always make the mistake of thinking that the object is outside us. There is a sea of consciousness within us, and when we enter into that sea of consciousness we have entered into the manifestations of it in various forms at the same time.

To reiterate what I said in the previous session, this is spaceless and timeless experience. This is not an experience that takes place in the future or in a distant place in the expanse of space. It is a totality, a simultaneity, an instantaneity. That is all we can say about it, for which we have to strive by subduing ourselves to such an extent that our individuality is abolished completely and we remain what we were originally, prior to our manifestation as jivas, at the point of creation.