The Realisation of the Absolute
by Swami Krishnananda


A study of the Ultimate Reality of things reveals to us that their truth being one, their forms must be false. That which is one can appear as two or many only through imagination. Both the individual that perceives and the world that is perceived can only be projections of a powerful Universal Thought, while, in truth, there is only the undifferentiated Pure Being. The main points discussed in these pages, are: (1) Brahman or the Absolute is the only Reality. (2) It is Undifferentiated, Non-Relational, Supra-Mental, Transcendental, Consciousness, without the distinctions of knower, knowledge and known. (3) It is immaterial, so far as practical empirical life is concerned, whether Brahman is Impersonal or Personal, Nirguna or Saguna, so long as there is nothing second to Brahman, so long as there is no objective reality and no externalised knowing. In the process of philosophical meditation, however, the Absolute is envisaged in its pure perfection, free from superimposed attributes, as an ‘other’ of every form of thought, as the supra-cosmic, eternal consciousness. (4) The universe is an appearance of the Absolute, and, being of a presented or objective character, it is relative, transitory, unintelligible, and a perversion of Reality. (5) There is, in fact, neither the individual nor the cosmos, neither the subject nor the object because these are merely experiential standpoints of viewing the one undivided existence. (6) If God is taken to mean something different from the universe and its contents, that is, if God is a subject or an object of something—then, such a God would be as transitory as any mortal being. (7) The only purpose of the life of every individual is the realisation of the Absolute. (8) Knowledge and meditation are the two main ways to attain Perfection. Knowledge is jnana or anubhava of the Nirguna Brahman, and meditation is dhyana or upasana on Saguna Brahman.

The whole theme of the Upanishads is centred in two fundamental conceptions of Reality—Brahman and Atman. Both words are often used to mean the same thing. “This Atman is Brahman” (Mand. Up., 2.). The further implications of this statement are the different theories of spiritual philosophy. The philosophy of the main declarations of the Upanishads, however, consists essentially of the eight conclusions drawn above. This is the Ultimate Truth, transcending empiricality, extending beyond the egoism of human nature. The whole process of the realisation of Truth is, therefore, a sacrifice of the ego, and is a great pain. Suffering in the process of the experiencing of Infinitude cannot be abolished for the individual so long as the individual itself is inconsistent with the Infinite. Hence, the attempt towards the attainment of the perfectly Real is generally looked upon with a sense of fear, disgust and even hatred. The human being is always attached to the immediate concerns of life. He has no eye to look to the beyond. He is grieved about the past, doubtful about the future and worried about the present. He is ever diseased in his spirit due to his violation of the eternal law. He is caught in the whirl of ignorance, passion and sin, and is constantly dashed by the huge waves of uncontrollable sorrow. Every moment he finds himself in a fix. He ceaselessly dies to himself in time, and seems to recover new sense just then and there. His whole life is a flux of states—now destroyed, now renewed. He has no idea of anything besides himself, anything that is vaster and truer. He is imprisoned within his fragile body, within his whimsical mind, within his childish intellect, within his conceited individuality. A shower of superphysical knowledge upon him seems to be music played before the deaf. He thinks too highly about himself and, with canine avidity, licks the pricking bone even with his torn tongue. The Upanishads are not unaware of the futile attempts of man to grasp the Limitless Being, and they warn him that it is not to be comprehended through logic, but to be heard from the wise one (Katha Up., II. 8, 9). Reason is meant to strengthen belief in what is heard from reliable sources, and not to walk unaided. It is an empty pride to think that one can depend totally on oneself and reach the Eternal. Reason and faith should go hand in hand if the desired fruit is to be reaped. That which is agreeable at present does not remain so the next moment, nor does the disagreeable appear so forever. The immutable Reality is unperceived and unfelt, and the apparition seems to give us life, light and joy. The sole purpose of the Upanishad teaching is to disentangle man from the chain of samsara, to show him the way to the Glorious Light that shines within himself. Man is not a sinful mortal creature in truth; the Upanishad calls him “son of the Immortal”— amritasya putra (Svet. Up., II. 5). But he can know himself only through sacrificing himself. The highest sacrifice is the offering of the self to the Absolute. The greatest yoga is the sinking of the self into unity with the Absolute, by denying the separate, and asserting the One.

Such an act which refuses to feed the individual self-sense with its diverse requirements, compels the relative self-interest to dissolve itself in the Absolute-Interest, which soars high above the limitations of Space and Time, and engages itself in its establishment in the perfect satisfaction and uncontradicted experience of completeness and utter Reality. The awareness of the state of the Pure Self unimpeded by phenomenal laws or separative restrictions, and the infinite rejoicing in the free flow of the law of the Spirit, is the life of the exalted Self-realised one. He exists as the Divine Being, which is the supreme condition of the fullest freedom of Eternity. Without such a knowledge of the fundamental nature of existence, life becomes intense with conflict and war between the opposing forces. It is impossible for the individual to blossom into Infinity in the midst of such a heated strife among disturbant powers of Nature, without reconciling and pacifying them in a more expansive consciousness and a higher order of reality where they disclose their inner truths and melt into the bosom of Being with a fraternal embrace. The difficulties in coming to any settled opinion of things as they are the miseries of everyday experience, the quandaries in determining the essential truth and falsehood of life, the concomitant selfish desires, the failures, the kicks, the blows, the burning anxieties, the vain beliefs, the mocking expectations and hopes that confront the human being in his struggle for existence, give him opportunities to discriminate the Eternal, and direct him on the way that leads to the realisation of the Absolute.