Chapter 7: The Spirit of Sadhana
You have come here in order to gain something. A lot of knowledge has been gathered, and this is now going to be your guiding light and the outline of your daily conduct and practice. When you go back home, you go filled with a new confidence, a confidence that gets gradually diluted as the days pass. It is essential, therefore, to recharge yourself like a self-charging battery by a daily reconsideration of these lessons and a reinforcement of these aspects of learning and knowledge which have been imparted to you by learned men, by sadhakas and mahatmas.
The first and foremost of truths that we have to bear in mind is that the central aim of life is the realisation of God. It is the end and the purpose of our life. This end is of such a nature that it determines at every step of our practice the means that we adopt for the realisation of this goal. This end, this destination that is before us, is not like a distant place that we are going to reach after some years, a place which is practically unconnected with the journey that we are undertaking and the place from which we began. This goal before us is vitally connected with the journey that we are undertaking, and is also very intimately related to us from the very first step that we take.
The journey on the path of the spirit is like the growth of the human body. It is not like walking to Badrinath or undertaking a train journey to a distant place. The journey that we undertake through a vehicle or the distance that we cover on foot is quite different from the way in which we approach God. I give you the example of the growth of the human body to its perfection. We know the difference between the relationship that one place has with another place and the relationship that a child has with the condition or stage of the adult which it is to reach by a gradual organic growth of its personality. The child and the adult are not two different persons, while Rishikesh and Badrinath are two different places. When we walk from Rishikesh to Badrinath, we cover a distance between two places. But this covering of distance between two places is methodologically different from the distance that a child covers between itself and the stage of the adult.
The child becomes the adult; it grows into the adult. In one sense, we can say there is an evolution of the child into the adult. The childhood condition grows into the condition of the adult. While the adult condition is the goal of the condition of the child, and the process of the growth of the child into the state of the adult may be regarded as the journey of the childhood stage to the stage of the adult – or in another sense we may say the distance between the stage of the child and the condition of the adult is covered by the process of the evolution of the childhood stage – it is in another sense we speak of the covering of the distance between Rishikesh and Badrinath.
The distance that we cover between our mortal state of humanity and the state of Godhood is not like walking from Rishikesh to Badrinath. Most of religious people have this notion in our minds. We have to go to Brahmaloka, Vaikuntha, Kailasa after death. We reach the Father in heaven, who is in the distant realm beyond, which is something like going to New York or to the moon. We have still a conception of covering space or distance in terms of miles when we think of reaching God. Vaikuntha is very far, many millions of miles away from this place. This is our concept. We may be educated persons, having read many scriptures and listened to discourses by saints and sages, but this peculiar notion of distance between us and God does not leave us: God is far away from us in space, many miles far off, as one place is far off from another place, and going to God is something like going from Rishikesh to Badri. Not so! It is not like that. In our sadhana, this false notion has to be shed at the very outset.
God is the goal of our life in the same way as the adult is the goal of the child. He is not the goal of our life as Badrinath is the goal of the pedestrian walking from Rishikesh. We know the difference very well, and we know also how far God is from us. How far is the adult from the child – how many miles? We cannot conceive this distance in terms of miles. The adult is not so many miles away from the child. As a matter of fact, the spatial measurement in terms of distance is inapplicable in the case of the measurement of the difference between the adult and the child or the childhood condition from the condition of the adult. The adult is implicit in the child. The adult is not something that comes out of the child as something different. As the adult is immanent in the child – implicit, latent, patent in the child – or, in another way, we may say that tree is in the seed, God is in us.
So when we have to reach God through the practice of sadhana, we have to adopt the same means as a child adopts when growing into an adult. It is not to go from place to place. For the child to become the adult, it has not to move in a vehicle; it has not to purchase a ticket; it has not to walk in space. It has to grow within itself into a new condition of experience, because that goal of God-realisation is already here. It is not away. It cannot be walked to. In all the expositions of Acharya Sankara particularly, he was never tired of repeating this one important point that God is not reached as a place is reached by walking.
The reaching of God by a sadhaka, or a student of yoga, is not like the reaching of a village or a town by walking or moving towards it by means of a vehicle. It is like growing into a new type of experience. Or, it is like waking from sleep. How far is the waking condition from the dream condition? How many miles distance? If we are to measure the distance between the condition of dream in which we are and the waking into which we have to rise, how many miles apart are they? I will give you a third example. We have gone to sleep. We are asleep on a bed in Sivananda Ashram, and suddenly we have an experience that we have flown by jet to New York City. We have gone away. We are many miles away from the place where we are sleeping. It is very clear that we have gone thousands of miles away and are now in New York. But how far is that New York from the bed on which we are sleeping? How many miles away? For all practical purposes it is some thousands of miles away, but really how far is it from the bed on which we are sleeping? It is not away at all; it is just there. The New York City to which we had flown is just there on our bed. It is not many miles away. So is God far away from us. He looks like millions and millions of miles away in the same way as the dream New York is away from the bed on which we are sleeping, or as the adult is far away from the child from which it has to grow.
This new concept into which I will try to introduce your minds is different from the usual man-in-the-street concept of God being spatially distant from us. God is not spatially distant. He is not even away temporally. Even in time, He is not in a future. Just as in space He is not an outside object, even as the dream New York is not spatially away from the bed on which we are sleeping, even as the adult is not spatially away from the childhood, likewise, even from the point of view of time God is not in the future. He is not a future because that so-called futurity of God-experience is hidden in the present of human experience. Can we say that the waking experience is a future to the dream experience? It is not so, because the waking is the cause for our dream experience. The waking impressions have been the motive force behind our experience of dream. In a sense we may say the waking mind envelopes everything that we experience in dream. In and out, the waking mind is in the dream mind. The dream experience is an expression of the waking mind which has separated itself into the experiencer and the experienced, the subject and the object; and all the panorama, the variety that we have in dream, is indwelt by the waking mind. So when we have awakened into the waking world from the condition of dream, something else has not been introduced into our experience. The waking mind has merely withdrawn the aberration of its activity in the form of objects of dream, absorbed all the objects into itself, and the vast world of dream has gone into our heads once again when we wake up into a new consciousness of jagrata avastha.
God-experience is not, therefore, a distance to be covered in space. It is also not a future; it is not a tomorrow. It is an infinity and an eternity – feeble words that we are using to express the inexplicable. We have no words to explain what is going to take place. We are carrying God with us wherever we go, just as the child carries the adult condition in it wherever it moves.
Contemplate on this condition for a few seconds. You will not be able to think. Your mind will stop thinking. To be God or to have God-experience is to grow from humanity into a condition which is already implicit here, as the adult condition is implicit in the childhood condition. So it is a growth personally into a more mature state of experience rather than a moving in space. Everything seems to be in our hands now. Just as when the child moves into the condition of the adult it grows in every respect – in strength, in understanding and in the comprehensiveness of its experience – similarly, when we move towards Divinity, we grow comprehensively in every respect.
Inasmuch as it is difficult to explain all these things in language, scriptures give us only metaphors, analogies and comparisons. That which is divine and godly cannot be explained with language of the mortal tongue. Everything is explained in an epic style and in a Puranic language of image, art and comparison. The various stages of growth into greater and greater experiences of comprehensiveness are described in some of the Upanishads. Every day the child grows. Tomorrow’s child is not today’s child, and yet it is the same child. Tomorrow’s child is different from today’s child in the sense that its mind has grown into greater maturity of comprehension and comprehensiveness. Likewise, tomorrow’s sadhaka is not today’s sadhaka, though it is the same sadhaka from another angle of vision.
Humanity has to grow into a different state of experience. We do not know how many stages we have to pass through but, broadly speaking, the Upanishads give us an idea of the stages of growth that we have to undergo. We have come from the lower stages to the stage of humanity. According to the scheme of evolution, from inanimate matter experiences rise to the plant kingdom, and higher up we grow into animal life, and from animal life we have come to the consciousness of manhood – humanity, or manavata.
But from the state of humanity there are higher stages still into which we have to grow. These are symbolically described in the Upanishads as the stages of Gandharvas, Pitris, Devas, etc. In knowledge and happiness, in power and comprehensiveness, the condition of the Gandharvas is supposed to be one hundred times greater than the condition of man. The Gandharvas are a hundred times more happy, a hundred times more intelligent, a hundred times more powerful and a hundred times more inclusive in their experience than humanity.
A hundred times more than the Gandharvas in every respect are the Pitris. A hundred times more than the Pitris in every respect are the Devas or celestials. Do not make the mistake of thinking that the celestials are up above. They are up above as the adult is up above the child. It is only a higher experience into which we are rising. A hundred times more comprehensive than the Devas is Indra, the ruler of the gods. His knowledge, his happiness, his independence of spirit, his power, all these are one hundred times more than the Devas whom he rules. A hundred times more than Indra is Brihaspati, in every respect – knowledge, power and happiness. A hundred times more than Brihaspati is Prajapati, Brahma the Creator, Hiranyagarbha or Virat, whatever we call it.
Beyond that the mind cannot go, even in symbolic explanation. The Supreme Absolute is non-mathematically related to these conditions. It is not a hundred times merely, nor a million times, in the same sense as the waking experience is not merely a hundred times more than the dream experience, mathematically. It is a quite different thing altogether in quality. The happiness that we have in waking life is not mathematically multiplied by a factor to raise it above the dream happiness. We know how different waking experience is from dream experience. We cannot simply multiply it mathematically; it is quite different in quality in every respect. Similarly, the experience of the Absolute cannot be graded in this way by the multiplication of factors.
All these stages through which we have to pass are not a spatial rising, though they look like a spatial rising. They may look like the rise of consciousness from one world to another world, but they are worlds within the experience which is inseparable from our consciousness.
Now you know how you have to conceive God-realisation as the goal of your life. It is man rising to the state of superman, manava becoming atimanava, the seed growing into the tree, the child becoming the adult, the dream arising into waking experience, the relative merging into the Universal, the individual growing into the Absolute, the particular rising to the all-comprehensive Virat.
Hence, what is the sadhana that we have to practice to achieve this state? Every stage is a completeness by itself. Every day the child is a completeness by itself. It is not a partiality. It is not that today it is a half child, tomorrow it becomes a three-fourths child and so on, and after some days it becomes a whole child. We do not say that. Every day it is a whole child; and yet, tomorrow’s child is not today’s child. The wholeness differs every day; from a lesser wholeness it has grown into a greater wholeness. It is not a fraction of a child growing into a bigger fraction; it is not a one-sixteenth child becoming larger in size in a mathematical fraction. It is not a small child mathematically, but a whole child today. From wholeness to wholeness we grow from day to day in sadhana. This is, again, a very important thing to remember. The consciousness is whole; it is never a part at any time. That is why we cannot have a half man, a half child or a one-fourth human being, and so on. In every stage, even in the lowest stage of humanity, it is a whole human being. It is from wholeness to wholeness that we rise. In the intensity of consciousness, in the quality of our experience, we grow higher and higher until we reach God-experience – an incomprehensible stage of maturity of experience.
Therefore, the sadhana that we have to adopt – the means that we have to employ towards this experience – is not the usual routine of practice: rolling the beads, going to a temple, waving the lights, reading a book, visiting a holy shrine, and prostrating before a Mahatma. All these are good enough as far as they go, but they are insufficient and inadequate when they lack the spirit of this peculiar scheme of the evolution of consciousness from the lower to the higher stages.
When the spirit of sadhana is lacking, the routine of sadhana is like a corpse. You may be a very busy sadhaka, but you may be lacking the spirit of sadhana. Draw a distinction between the spirit of sadhana from the routine of it. Whatever be the number of times you may roll the beads, if the spirit of it is lacking, you will gain nothing.
The spirit is to be acquired from the state of mind in which you are. The mind is the medium of the expression of the spirit of sadhana. What you feel, the bhava that you enshrine in your mind, the attitude consciously adopted by you in your practice, is the real sadhana, just as a person is not merely the body or the physiological structure. When life is rid of it, well, there is no person at all. When the life of a person is sucked out, the person no more exists though the physiological structure is there as a corpse. The corpse has all the features of a human being, but we know how different the corpse is from a living body. We cremate that corpse though it is a human being, because the vitality is sapped out. What we call a human person is not the physiological appearance, because that is cast to the cremation ground when the spirit is withdrawn from it.
Likewise, sadhana becomes a mere corpse, fit to be cremated, when the spirit is taken away from it. When it is bereft of the spirit, sadhana is as meaningful as a human being with the life taken away. Why you do not achieve much success in your meditation or sadhaha is because of the fact that it is only a corpse of sadhana, and not a living body. It is a corpse, but you mistake it for a living body because it has the shape of a living person. The sadhana may outwardly have all the characteristics of real sadhana, but really inwardly it may be bereft of life. Just as a corpse cannot grow, so is sadhana incapable of growth when the spirit is lacking.
Then, what is the spirit of sadhana apart from the routine shape or the outline contour of the body of sadhana? The body, or the physiological shape of sadhana, is rolling the beads, going to a temple, getting up early in the morning, taking a bath, reading a few verses from the Gita, etc. This is the outer feature of sadhana. But you may be doing all these thing without even thinking of it. The mind may be elsewhere while you pass through all these routines every day, just as you walk without thinking about your legs. When you walk, do you think of your legs moving? Yet, the walking is done, automatically. Likewise, the sadhana is likely to get lodged in a featureless, spiritless routine of japa and reading, etc., without the feeling in it being associated.
What performs the wonderful and magnificent task of spiritual practice is the consciousness in it, the spirit in it, the feeling in it, the ‘you’ which is to be underlined. The ‘you’ is not the work that you perform. You are something different from what you do. Your activity and profession is different from what you are. Likewise, the routine of sadhana is different from the spirit of it. The spirit is the feeling part associated with the practice of sadhana. Do you also grow in your feeling every day because of your spiritual practice, or do you have the same wretched feelings which you have been having in your mind for years? You have the same affection, the same loves, hatreds and prejudices, and you have the same way of judging things. You have not made an inch of progress in your attitude towards them.
Sadhana is nothing but the attitude that you have towards things in general. If that attitude is also growing every day, then your sadhana is progressing. But if your attitude does not change, then your sadhana is the same stagnant muddy water which has not grown in its perspicuity. If your heart has not changed, if your feelings are the same, if you are not broadened in the outlook of your life, then your sadhana is not progressing. You have to gradually grow into divinity, and the characteristics of divinity have to be reflected in your personal lives, if you are to be convinced that you are progressing in sadhana.
The qualities of God are to be seen in our lives. It may be a small percentage of divinity, but it does not matter; the percentage is there. The divinity being reflected in our day-to-day conduct may be one percent, or even less than that. What is the characteristic of God? How can we know that divinity is reflected in our mind and our practical conduct? It is by impartiality, impersonality, freedom from prejudice or preconceived notion, freedom from raga and dvesha or personal attachments and unreasoned hatred. These are characteristics of an ordinary human being, and when they are absent they are godly qualities.
The more we grow into impartiality of outlook, the more also we grow in divinity of conduct. The more we are conscious of the goal of God-realisation as the central aim of life, the more also we grow in spirituality. Spirituality is nothing but God-consciousness speaking from within us in greater and greater comprehensiveness. The essence of our life is the extent of the presence of the goal felt even today at the present moment. The more is it felt in extensiveness, the more we have grown into God-consciousness.
We become more and more relieved from the tension of our personality when we grow in sadhana. There is a greater sense of liberation of spirit from the thraldom of entanglement in life when we grow into spiritual life. We also feel more independent in our spirit, and our dependence on externals gets lessened. We will be able to live independently more and more as we grow in our sadhana, or the spirit of it. We are entirely dependent on many things today. Apart from the creature comforts on which we are dependent from the bodily point of view, we are also psychologically dependent on the world in many respects. All these forms of dependence get reduced in their intensity, and we become more independent psychologically and even physically later on when we grow into the consciousness of God.
We should not, therefore, make our sadhana an activity of our life, just as the growth of a child into an adult is not one of its activities. It is not a work that the child performs, but is something more intimately related to its life than the work that it does or the games that it plays. Very difficult to conceive what sadhana is. It is an inward growth consciously felt as inseparable from our own being, quite different from the work that we perform, though the work that we perform may be charged with a spirit of its inward growth.
Very few in this world can be real sadhakas. Though many can enrol themselves into sadhana, very few can be real sadhakas. Very few can reach God, truly speaking. It is very difficult to have social salvation at one stroke. We were not born on the same day, and so also we all cannot reach God on the same day. We reach Him on different days. Perhaps, as Christ said, strait is the gate; narrow is the path. Only one person at a time is allowed, as in a queue system. We do not know what scheme is adopted there. Very, very narrow is that path, says Christ; strait is the gate. So narrow is the passage to God that only one person at a time seems to be allowed. Luggage cannot be carried, because the passage is so narrow. We have to throw away all our luggage, all our belongings and property. All things are cast away when we are near the strait gate. In some railway stations, there is a system like that. One person at a time goes to collect the ticket, and one person at a time goes out through the exit.
Narrow is the path to God. Our belongings cannot be taken there. So narrow is the passage that even the body cannot be taken. We have to shed this body also. So narrow is the passage that even the mind cannot go there. It is too gross. We have to shed even the mental body. The subtle body, the sukshma sarira, also has to be shed. We stand before the Universal Spirit as a spirit alone. The spirit stands naked before the Spirit. This is the disrobing of the personality, the gopi vastrapaharanam which is symbolically told to us in the Srimad Bhagavata. The gopis are the individual souls. They are disrobed completely. God takes away all the clothes�� all the five koshas are taken away – and we stand spiritually naked before the Absolute. We stand there in the same form in which we came when we descended at the point of creation. All our associations are cast off, and we will have Sri Krishnarjuna Samvada in the true sense of the term. The individual speaks to God in the privacy of its essential nature. That is the real Sri Krishnarjuna Samvada. That is the real Bhagavadgita that is spoken. The individual soul in its spiritual nakedness stands face to face with the Absolute. That concourse between the individual spirit and the Absolute Spirit is Nara-Narayana-Samvada – Nara moving towards Narayana.
But who can become Narayana? How can Nara become Narayana? If we adopt the principle of satya and dharma, Nara can become Narayana – man can become God. Satyam vada, dharmam chara. This is the essentiality of religion. That union of Sudhama or Kuchela with Bhagavan Sri Krishna in Dvaraka is sometimes represented as the union of dharma with satya. Sudhama represents dharma, Krishna represents satya. When dharma embraces satya, man merges in God. When righteousness rises to the status of Truth, it becomes one with the Absolute.
Sadhana is thus a spiritual effort of the individual soul, not a bodily activity merely, for a spiritual communion of the innermost spirit within us with the Universal Spirit. This is the call eternally ringing in our ears, coming from God, the Almighty, beckoning us towards Himself. This is why we are restless every moment of time. We have lost Him. We cannot be peaceful in this world as long as we have not gazed at the spirit of God, the burning fire of the Cosmos which shall reduce to ashes all our personal prejudices, and ragas and dveshas.
When the face of God is seen, it is like looking at a huge conflagration, a fire which cannot be borne or tolerated by the human spirit. Arjuna could not see it. He cried out in despair, “O Lord, come down to my level. Enough of this vision!” The mortal cannot face Him. Great saints have said that no one can live after seeing the face of God. We have to be burnt in the fire of spirituality, and He shall take us by the hand as a purified soul.
We have thus to be prepared honestly from the bottom of our hearts and in the recesses of our being. We should weep every day as children of God. No one who has not wept at least once for God can reach Him, because when we can place ourselves in that position of even visualising what God is, we cannot help crying for Him. We do not weep for Him, because we do not know what He is. The moment we know what God means, our heart will burst into thousand fragments. We cannot live in this world afterwards. It was Buddha who said that one who has real vairagya cannot stay in this world even for three days continuously. It will be like a burning cauldron of live coals. Because we are shut away from the consciousness of God by the thick veil of maya, we are complacent here and look all right. We have many pleasure centres in this world, and we seem to get on without God.
But to awake oneself into the consciousness of God is like a madman becoming sane. We know how far a madman is from a sane man. A mad person lives; a sane person also lives. The mad person has his own pleasures, but the sanity which he has lost makes all the difference in his life. The pleasures of sanity are quite different from the pleasures of madness. Now the mind has grown wild, completely gone out of control. It is erratic in its operation. It has gone mad. “Pitva mohamayim pramadamadiram unmatta bhutam jagat,” says Bhartrihari: Having drunk of the liquor of error and sin, the whole world has gone mad. We cannot see one sane person anywhere because sanity is only God-consciousness, and everything else is madness compared to it. So if an occasion is to arise for the crazy person to realise that there is such a thing as sanity, can he rest in that condition of insanity for a moment? Will he say, “Let me be insane for few more days,” as we say, “Let us live in this world for some more time; let God take care of Himself”?
We are afraid of seeing God. We would like to postpone that condition as long as possible. We ask for long life in this world. Every day we pray for long life. It is like praying for long insanity, as long as possible. But we are in that condition, precisely speaking. We do not know how bad our state of affairs is. We have to be pitied, really speaking, if the truth of the matter is to be known. Our condition is wretched, most unwholesome, unhealthy from the point of view of the spirit and the reality of things. Therefore, we should not be complacent in our moods of ignorance. A real devotee is a real sadhaka. A real devotee is a real jnani and a real yogi.
To sum up, to practise sadhana is to recharge oneself with a new spirit and a new attitude to life, to become a different person altogether. You do not go back as the same person that you were. You have become a different person now. It is not that you start doing something different. That is apart. You are a different person, quite different from what you are going to do differently. Your routine and your practice may be different, but are you also going to be a different person? If that reorientation of your attitude has not taken place, you have not taken even the first step in sadhana.
May I give you a small outline, a short compass of what you preferably do when you go back home? Become a real sadhaka. To be a sadhaka is not to be an otherworldly person. I have given you enough information as to what sadhana is. You are not going to be a Sannyasin as a social outcaste, but you are going to be a newly oriented sane and mature person, more intensely than you were earlier.
You have to prepare a routine of spirituality rather than doing something with your hands and feet. Every day you have to grow in spirit rather than increase the time of your activities or performances outwardly. Resolve that from tomorrow onwards, you are going to be a newly educated person in spirituality, or the awareness of Reality. The consciousness of Reality is called spirituality; and the more you have of it, the more also are you spiritually reoriented.
Spirituality is not one of the activities of life. It is the life of life. The health that you maintain in your body is not one work that you perform. It is not a profession of yours. You do not say, “Tomorrow I am very busy because I have to maintain my health.” Maintaining health is not one of the busy activities; it is a natural condition which you have to maintain. Spirituality is, thus, the health of the spirit. Spirituality is a natural condition that you are trying to maintain, rather than a profession into which you are going to enter. It is not something that you have to do for a few hours of the day merely. Sadhana is not a work that you do for one or two hours of the day, just as maintenance of health is not a performance for one or two hours of the day. You cannot afford to be healthy for two hours, and sick for the other part of the day. Sickness is not an essentiality; it is not a part of your life. Likewise, non-sadhana – that which is contrary to sadhana – is not going to be a part of your life.
We think that the practice of the canons of spirituality is to be relegated to a part of the day – or perhaps a part of the life – because of a misconception that we have in regard to spirituality and the realisation of God. They are natural conditions imbedded in your own personality even now, but which have to be manifested in greater and greater intensity. That is spirituality. So the programme of your day when you return home should be a programme of spirituality, of the growth of the spirit in you, rather than a mere routine of fast and vigil and activities akin to that.
What should be the programme then, spiritually speaking? You have to grow into a better conception of God’s existence. That is the first thing that you have to do. The whole of sadhana is a process of education. Every day you grow or rise from one curriculum of study to another. But that rising from one curriculum into another curriculum in your study or in your educational process is a growth in spirit and understanding. It is not merely a movement in space or a passing of time.
Thus, regarding sadhana as an educational process of the growth of the understanding from the lower to the higher stage, and a growth from lesser state of comprehensiveness to the higher state of comprehensiveness, you realise at the same time that for sadhana you need not move from place to place. You study in the same university or the same college, but yet you are different every day because of the growth of consciousness. You do not change your university every day – today you study in this college and tomorrow you go to another college, and you go to a hundred colleges to complete your education. That is not done. The whole process of education is to be covered in one place itself. Similarly, sadhana is not movement of a personality from place to place, like a tirtha yatra. It is a tirtha yatra from within. We have to take a bath in the Atman Tirtha. This Atman is everywhere and, therefore, going to holy places of pilgrimage is not debarred, of course, provided it is done in this spirit of recognition of God in its universality.
The outward activities thus become a spiritual practice of karma yoga, provided that the spirit of sadhana is present in the outward activities, whether it is your tirtha yatra or your profession in life. For God there is no within and without. While God is not outside and He is supposed to be within in one sense, He is everywhere in another sense. Inasmuch as God is the Self, the Atman of all beings, He is regarded as within all things and not outside. You cannot see God outside. He is always supposed to be inside. He is inside in a special sense, not that He is only within a room or within the body of a person. The within-ness of God is a peculiar significance of the nature of God that we are trying to describe.
The Selfhood of God is emphasised when we say that God is within. What is the meaning of Selfhood? The Selfhood is a peculiar experience that we have within our own selves. We cannot describe it. You cannot externalise yourself, as you know. Your experiences are so intimately connected with what you are that it cannot be described. Your sorrows and your pleasures cannot be described, because they are connected with your selfhood. Can you write a poem about your sorrows? You may try to describe them in poetry, but your sorrows are deeper than what you can describe. Also, your pleasures are more intense than you can describe in a language. When your dearest relative has died, you know what experience you have at that moment. You cannot write in a letter what experience you have at that time. You may write pages about your sorrow, but your sorrow is different from what you have written on paper. That is the selfhood of the sorrow. The Self cannot be expressed. The delight that you have in your personal experiences, the grief that rends your heart occasionally, are not matters for externalisation, either of writing or speaking.
Likewise, God is Selfhood, incapable of externalisation, either by language of expression or by any kind of representation outwardly in the world. In that sense of an inalienable Selfhood of experience, God is the Atman of all beings. But, He is also everywhere. He is not only Paramatman, but He is also Sarvantaryamin. So to conceive God is to conceive Sarvantaryamittva together with Atmattva. While nothing that you do can be said to touch even the fringe of God-experience – everything that you do in your life can be regarded as quite apart from the realm of Reality, from one point of view, because of God being the Self and not capable of being externalised in any way – in another sense you cannot do anything except by being God. As in one sense, nothing that you experience in dream can be said to touch the waking experience in any manner whatsoever, in another sense everything that is in dream is a part of the waking mind working in one way.
So while action cannot be regarded as the spirit of sadhana because action is what you do, while sadhana is what you are, in another sense every activity can be converted into sadhana inasmuch as the spirit of God is present everywhere. So, karma can become karma yoga. I am just giving you an idea as to how difficult it is even to conceive sadhana – how hard it is even to entertain the idea of sadhana correctly, and how you can make a small mistake and spoil the whole affair.
Sadhana is, therefore, a spiritual conduct of your life, enshrining the spirit of God in your attitude to life, and a daily communion of your spirit with God, whether it is in prayer inwardly, meditation practice from within, or by means of your unselfish activities carried on from outside. When you do sadhana by charging your works or activities through the spirit of God, it is called karma yoga. When you deeply contemplate on the universality of God, identifying Him with your consciousness, it is called jnana yoga. And when you are restless on account of the separation of your individual spirit from the Universal Spirit, and you feel an agony of it and want to commune yourself with that Supreme Spirit, and you cry for it daily, weep for it, are restless without it, that is bhakti. Hence, all sadhanas are one and the same thing. They are different attitudes adopted by the soul towards God.
The recognition of the spirit of God in all activities of the world is karma yoga. That is sarvantaryamittva recognised in the diversified processes, events and works of the world. When Atmattva is recognised in the Universality of God, you are a jnana yogin; and when you weep for God on account of the separation which the individual spirit feels for the Universality of Spirit, it is bhakti yoga. The will employed in the practice of sadhana in concentration or the focussing of the mind in the concept of God, for realising Him as Infinity, is the aspect emphasised in raja yoga. Thus, all four yogas are four paths leading to Rome, the same Citadel of the city of God. But the four paths are not four spatial movements, and are not even separated temporally. I shall bring home to your mind again the analogy I have given of the growth of the child into the adult, and the rising from dream to waking. That is the rise of man to God.
My prayers to the Almighty are that He may bless you all with the energy, the power of will and the understanding to recognise what He really is and how essential God is for your life, and how God-realisation alone can be the goal of your life.