A Treatise on the Vedanta Philosophy and Its Methodology
by Swami Krishnananda
The Attainment of Perfection is the Conscious Integration of Being. This is the central theme of the Upanishads. The Upanishads are intuitional revelations, and intuition is integral experience. Their declarations cannot fail to include within themselves the absolute scope of the diverse methods of approach to the one Reality, for integrality excludes nothing. No two individuals think alike, for thinking, which is the objective movement of the Spiritual Force, differs in its mode and impetus in different points of stress in integral existence. But, then, in spite of this separation of beings through their modes of mentation, all individuals have to aim at the attainment of a common Goal, the achievement of a common purpose, for, the truth of them all is one, and all their paths must but meet at One Perfection. Perfection or truth cannot be two, and there cannot be two absolutes. Hence, the methods of approach to Reality must all inherit certain fundamental natures or qualities which belong to the eternal nature of pure Existence. It is this undeniable fact that goes to prove the logical consistency that must exist and that exists among the multitudes of the methods employed by the relative individuals to experience Truth as it really is.
The one and the most important point to be remembered in all the processes of reasoning out the nature of Existence is that we cannot, with loyalty to reason, make in it such relative distinctions as subjective and objective, since such differences in nature are based on mere arbitrary conception and perception. We separate in pure Being the subject and the object only with concession to a belief in internality and externality based on immediate empirical experience bereft of intelligibility. The objective world and the subjective body are both in relation to the cognising entity, and existence is a divisionless mass of cognition, which fact is proved by the inexplicability of objective experience without our positing a conscious reality inclusive of both the subject and the object. The reality of the universe, both in its objective and subjective aspects, is in its existence, which cannot be known unless it becomes a content of consciousness. Unless, again, this content itself is non-different from consciousness, it will have no relation to consciousness, and it cannot be known. Existence must be the same as consciousness in order that existence may be known. If it is not known, it itself is not. Existence is really the existence of consciousness. The cognitive organ modifying the basic consciousness follows existence. And, as consciousness is indivisible, such a distinction in existence gets narrowed to identity of nature through inseparability in undifferentiatedness which has neither inside nor outside. Nothing that is related to another is real. Relation always means interdependence and not self-existence. Existence is always absolute; nothing else. Common perception, however, is not the criterion of truth. The sun does not become non-existent even if all men and animals have no eyes to see. Nor does he become an eternal being just because we perceive him. An unconscious unrest felt by every individualised personality in its own state and the impossibility to rest eternally in the separative consciousness points to the Being of the Supreme State of Absolute Perfection. Desire, which, in common parlance, is understood as the force which attracts the individual to relational existence, is only a clear proof of the inability of the individualised being to pull on with its finitude, and of its demand to have further experiences in the field of consciousness. There is no satisfaction in existing in a relative state of consciousness, however superior in the degree of its extension it may be when compared with the lower states of consciousness. There is a craving inherent in every individual to experience other states of consciousness and to possess other varieties of objects of the universe. This craving finds no rest until infinite states of consciousness are experienced and until infinite objects are possessed. This, however, does not imply multiplicity in Infinity, for that which is Infinite is Divisionless Existence. Even the emperorship of the entire universe cannot give perpetual satisfaction as long as it falls short of the Infinite. The rulership of heaven and earth is but a relative existence, though of a high order of merit, but satisfaction does not reach its summit even at absolute individuality. Perfect satisfaction is not to be found even in a dual state of life—even if it be absolute duality—but in infinite experience and infinite being.
This Infinite Being is not experienced by mere metaphysical speculation, but has its meaning in immediate non-relational experience. An integral experience necessitates an integral approach, a transformation of the integral personality. Hence, intellect which is a part of the integral man, cannot reach the Reality which is the Whole. The entire consciousness has to be concentrated upon the Ideal to be attained. Towards this end, it is imperative that the dissipated rays of personal consciousness should be withdrawn to their primal relative source, the root of the individual personality, the purified ego. The purified ego-consciousness thus freed from the divergent attractions of sense-perception is allowed to devote itself completely to the higher purpose of conscious expansion into the subtler and vaster states of consciousness. Each higher state is more extensive, subtler and more inclusive than the lower states, and the power of integration is greater in every succeeding state. Forces which cannot be controlled by a certain state of consciousness come under the easy sway of a further superior state, and the ability of the individual to fulfil a certain purpose is greater in more extensive states. Thus, the innate and the ultimate nature of consciousness should necessarily be all-inclusive, the most extensive and, hence, Infinite. The Consciousness and Power of this climax of Being is illimitable, for, there is nothing second to this essential condition of existence. The conscious establishment of the self in this homogeneous essence is achieved through a sacrifice of the individual separateness to the fullness of Infinitude. The Upanishads are the legacies of those who transcended the finite consciousness of a miserable individuality and hailed supreme in the Wholeness of Experience. The limitedness of diversified life is pointed out by the fact that the individual living such a life is put to the necessity of feeling a want of things and states other than those that are its own. Objective existence itself is a demarcation in the unity of existence's permanent nature, and the presentation of the untruth of relativity in undifferentiated being cannot win final victory. Even against the surface-conscience there is an urge from within the depth of every being to become the All, whether this is felt perfectly or otherwise. The Upanishads are the ripe fruits of such fine flowers blossomed out in the Light of the Wisdom-Sun. They lead us to the Whole, who are but its psychological parts.
The Upanishads are thoroughly spiritual and, hence, advocate the most catholic doctrine of the Yoga of Truth-realisation. Their teachings are not the product of an intellectual wonder or curiosity, but the effect of an intense and irresistible pressure of a practical need arising from the evil of attachment to individual existence. The task of the Seers was to remedy this defect in life, which, they realised, was due to the consciousness of separateness of being and the desire to acquire and become what one is not. The remedy lies in acquiring and becoming everything, expressed all too imperfectly by the words "Infinity," "Immortality," and the like. The central problem of every one of us is the overcoming of the illness of individual life and the attainment of the state of perfection, peace and bliss. The Upanishads point out the "End" as well as the "Means" and, since those sages had the Integral Knowledge of Reality, the method of approach to it they point out is also befitting the Ideal, viz., it is integral. The practice of such an ideal "sadhana" for deliverance from the thralldom of relational life leads one to the shining region of unalloyed happiness.
The differences among the conceptions regarding the efficacies of the various methods of the transformation of personality into the higher consciousness are due to the varying temperaments and grades of experience of those engaged in the task of realising the Divine Existence. Each of the ego-centers is different from the other in consciousness and experience. They require higher touches of experience varying in degree, in proportion to the subtlety of the condition of their present state of consciousness. We may assert that though the fundamental view presented in the declarations of the Upanishads is the one taken by the highest class of the seekers after Truth—a thorough-going intuitional Absolutism—one will not fail to find in them deepest proclamations touching all the aspects of the psychological constitution of the human being in general. The light and the heat of the sun are not useless to any existing entity of the universe—whatever be the way and degree in which it may make use of the sun's presence—and the Upanishadic statements of the integral Truth are not useless to any aspect of man and to no method of approach to Reality; for, "integrality" includes all "aspects".
This Integration of Being can be achieved even in this very life. It is not necessary to take some more rounds of births and deaths for the purpose, provided the integration is effected before the shaking off of the physical sheath, through persistent meditation on Reality and negation of separative consciousness. The quickness of the process of Attainment depends upon the intensity of the power of such meditation, both in its negative and assertive aspects. A dehypnotisation of the consciousness of physicality and individuality is the essential purpose of all methods of spiritual meditation.