The Meaning and Importance of Self-Control in Spiritual Practice
by Swami Krishnananda


Discourse 1: Understanding Our Place in the Cosmos

In our effort to discover the true nature of things, several impediments, both internal as well as external, present themselves. Difficulties come both from within and from without. They are everywhere, and the seeker of Truth is almost at a loss to know what exactly is the way out of these problems galore, which day in and day out present themselves before him.

It is a tremendous truth that we are perhaps not yet ready to come face to face with the nature of Reality because the apparatus of our knowledge is conditioned by certain categories which prevent us from knowing Truth, because they are organically related to the structure of our own personality. Inwardly we saw that our prejudices, our emotions, our passions and our structural limitations obstruct the vision of Truth. Outwardly, in the world of nature, we have impediments in the form of space and time. The world, as far as we are concerned, is psychological as well as physical.

Psychologically our world of experience consists in the reactions that we set up through our emotions, our volitions, and our intellect, and physically the world that we experience is constituted of the network of space, time and cause. So either way, whether we approach with a psychological or a subjective attitude, or take a physical or an objective approach, in either of these methods we are under the operation of heavy limitations.

Now, the crux of all these arguments and this conclusion is that our consciousness is impeded from proceeding further in its discoveries. All effort is an activity of consciousness. Without it, there is no work, no effort, and nothing of any value. But as consciousness itself seems to be restricted in its operations, within as well as without – inwardly through the restrictions consequent upon the structure of our own personality, and outwardly on account of the operation of space, time and causal operations – due to these reasons we are in a relative world, a world of temporality and mortality.

Then what is the significance of our quest of the immortal, that which lasts for unending time? If nothing worthwhile can be achieved through this mortal frame in this physical world of limitations to space, time and cause in this world of psychological passions and prejudices, and if this is the situation of the mortal human being in this world, what is the worth or the meaning or the significance of this aspiration for that which transcends mortality and the spatiotemporal limitations? What is our intrinsic worth in this world of death and destruction where everyone is a failure and no one can achieve anything substantial, where life begins with a cry, ends with a sob, and continues through vicissitudes of various agonies? In this world of sorrow and suffering, destruction and death, pain and grief, and weeping day and night, in such a world of samsara, what is of any value? What is of any worth or meaning? Is there anything, or is there nothing?

That there is something, and that the world is not bereft of all value is the answer of our own super-logical urge from within us. We have a peculiar urge from within our own personality. This urge is unanswerable through logic or any kind of calculated argument. That we are not satisfied with the presentation of earthly glories is a fact. That neither the king nor the beggar is happy is true. Neither the rich is happy, nor the poor is happy – neither the tall nor the short, neither the stout nor the thin, neither one above nor one below. None is happy, though for different reasons. That we cannot be happy is a simple statement of limitations of human life. All our limitations boil down to the impossibility of having happiness in this world, but we ask for happiness.

Today we shall investigate the implications of this urge from within us. There is a difference between an urge and its implications. The urge is quite clear on its surface: we ask for that which is unlimited in every respect. We ask for unlimited knowledge, unlimited wealth, unlimited life in the process of time, unlimited suzerainty over the world and perhaps the universe. There is nothing that we ask for in a limited fashion. We never say a little will do. It will not do. When that little is given, we ask for a little more. This asking for more has no limit. When more is offered, we ask for another ‘more’ which is superior to that which is already offered. What is the implication of this so-called illogical urge for that which is absolutely impractical in this world of transiency and limitations? It is impossible on the very face of it that we can ask for the immortal, the unending or the unlimited in this world.

Now, this quandary of perception is due to a difficulty in which we are involved internally and which is not visible to our consciousness. We are ever in a dilemma, and this dilemma is that we can ask and yet we cannot get it. If it is quite clear that we cannot get what we ask, then we will not ask. But we – the child, the adult, and the old included – ask with a hope which cannot be answered by the visible objects of sense. Our hopes are meaningless if they are weighed on a balance of visible perceptions. We would be considered stupid to ask for that which we cannot see or can even conceive to be existent anywhere in the world. Has anyone seen an unlimited object in the world? And why do we ask for unlimited objects. How can we ask for that which can never be? Is it not illogical, non-mathematical, absurd?

Yet this absurdity is the very soul of our life. This so-called meaninglessness of our question is the vitality that supplies the sap of our life. If this meaningless question is not to be, we would have been dead and gone up to this time. If it were clear on the surface that we cannot ask for anything in this world – that the world is merely what it appears to be, and it is just perishability, transiency, brittleness, death and destruction, pain and sorrow, nothing but that – if that were the all, well, the world would not have existed up to this day. We would not have been alive here. We are alive today because of a hope implanted in our hearts which vehemently resists the answer given by the objects of sense that we cannot get anything here. The world tells us that this is a realm of death and pain. Have you seen anyone who is unlimitedly happy or lived defying the jaws of death? No one that was born ever lived forever, and yet we ask for unending life. No one ever left this world with a clear conscience, saying that all that was desired was obtained, and yet we ask for unending, unlimited possessions.

We have within our own selves a peculiar structure of being, which will not listen to arguments, a peculiarity which is not amenable to logical or mathematical conclusions, whatever be their precision: “You may argue and convince me that I cannot get anything in this world, and I should not have any hope. But your arguments are not going to convince me.” Why? No human being can answer this question. Why is it that we cannot listen to any arguments of sense and logic based on sense perception?

This is because we have within us something which we ourselves are not able to see properly. Every one of us enshrines within ourselves some queer essentiality – queer because it cannot be compared with anything in this world. That queer structure or existence in us, a meaning, some value that is recognised in ourselves, keeps us hopeful and living in this world. This is only a statement of facts as they are.

But we are not to be merely listening to statements of fact. We have also to find a way out of quandaries and dilemmas, because a mere statement of the fact that there is a dilemma is not a solution to the dilemma. I can tell you that there is a quandary, and you all will understand it, but you will ask me how to get out of the quandary: “Is there a way?”

“Yes,” is the answer. Our hope itself is the answer. We ourselves are the answer, to put it concisely. The answer does not come from books or scriptures. The answer comes from what you are, what I am, and what things really are in themselves. You yourself are the great answer to the great question of creation. No textbook, no thesis, nothing ever written can be an answer to this question. Each individual being is the answer to this question which is posed by mankind as a whole, by creation as a whole, and until we touch the bottom of our own being, until we learn to manipulate our own powers, we have not learnt the lesson of life. As long as we seek for advice from outside, as long as we seek to amass wealth from outside, as long as we want to perpetuate our worth through the process of time, which is moving from one condition to another, so long there shall be no satisfaction to the soul of man because the soul of man can be satisfied only by the soul of man. This is the point on hand. We can be satisfied only by ourselves, and by nobody else. This is why we are not happy. We are not happy because we cannot be made happy by anything else other than ourselves.

The question as to why, internally as well as externally, psychologically as well as physically, we seem to be hampered in our approach to Truth is because of the fact that we employ a wrong means of approach. The methodology is erroneous. The process of approach to the discovery of Truth is neither inward nor outward. It is neither psychological nor physical. It is not the mind approaching nor the world approaching. It is something different from both. That is why merely an individual’s human approach does not succeed, nor will physical approaches of science succeed. We have seen both these working in this world; both have failed miserably.

We have seen the physical advance of science. Where has it landed us? We are still the same primitive apes as far as culture and satisfaction are concerned. We have not advanced an inch further than our primitive ancestral approach so far as the ultimate outcome of our learning and efforts are concerned. This is what we have obtained through merely the objective, physical, scientific approach of things. Nor has man succeeded merely by the inward psychological approach because both rationalists and physicists have failed. Rationality is not the answer, as physics is not the answer. Logic is not the answer, as science also is not the answer. There is an old saying concerning Frances Bacon, perhaps, that the greatest men were the meanest of men. They are the greatest in intellectuality but the meanest in the success that they have achieved in their lives, because while we try to escape the limitation from one side, we are caught up by limitations from other sides.

Limitations do not present themselves from only one side in creation. Creation is not merely the world of physicality, or the world of nature. When we speak of creation by God, we look outwardly with our eyes. Not merely that, as mentioned in the Gita, buddhir jñānam asaṁmohaḥ kṣamā satyaṁ damaḥ śamaḥ (Gita 10.4), etc., our understanding also is a part of creation. The way in which we think also is a part of creation. The way in which we try to understand creation is also a part of creation. So when we try to know the nature of Truth, to discover Reality, we are likely to be lopsided. The greatest defect of a scientific approach is lop-sidedness. Either we have extreme objectively, or extreme subjectively. There are people who completely withdraw themselves into a pure subjectivity of a psychological cave life. They are called introverts in psychoanalytic terms. They are not successes in this world. Nor are the extroverts successes – the pure humanitarians, philanthropists, social workers, politicians, scientists, and technologists. They too are a failure in life as much as the introverts. So you are a failure, I am a failure. Then who is a success? This is the problem, which is a hard nut to crack.

Spiritual life is not an inward life. It is also not an outward life. Spirituality is not withdrawal into a psychological cave; it is not introversion of the mind. It is also not running about outwardly in the physical world. It is neither a sensory approach to the outward nature of things, nor a psychological approach to the purely subjective activity of the personality. Spirituality is another name for the character of Reality. What Reality is, that is spirituality. It is neither inward nor outward. It is neither within us nor outside us, while it can be said to be either way.

I am reminded of a famous statement of Buddha Gautama, who used to repeat to his disciples that there are two kinds of extremes of concept. “Everything is,” said Buddha. This is one extreme: Whatever we see, is. This is one extreme of concept, which is not true. It is not true that everything is as it appears. The other extreme is that nothing is, which is also not true. So Buddha concluded that Truth is in the middle. It is not that nothing is; neither is it that everything is as it appears. Somewhere between these two extreme ideas there is Truth.

Can you catch it? You cannot catch it because you do not know where that margin is, that hairsbreadth of difference between genius and madness, as Shakespeare says. Between genius and madness there is only a hairsbreadth of difference. Likewise is this hairsbreadth of difference, which is Reality hanging subtly between what is within and what is without. To enter into this subtle margin of perception is to enter the field of spirituality.

Sadhakas who have girt up their loins to achieve success in the path of the spirit should be cautious in discovering this subtlety that hangs imperceptibly between external perception and internal cognition. There is something very, very subtle, almost imperceptible to consciousness, occasionally coming like a flash of lightning between what we see outside and what we regard as ourselves inside. To catch that is to live in that imperceptible eternity. It is eternity because it is not in time. Eternity is a subtle existence introducing itself into our experience every moment of time, but we miss it on account of our engaging ourselves too much in either external perception or internal cognition.

Now, how are we to perceive this subtle imperceptible reality of eternity? This is the only way of freedom from the shackles of space and time outwardly and from our mental limitations inwardly. The process is called atma-vinigraha, or self-control. There is no spiritual life without self-control. Here, one has to be cautious again. Self-control does not mean austerity, as we might have heard. Self-control, sense-control, etc., are not unknown terms, but their meaning is not understood. It is an adjustment of consciousness. It is not mortification or suffering. Generally we are afraid of self-control because we identify it with suffering, starvation, fasting, getting up at two o’clock in the night, sleeping on a thorny bed, taking cold water baths in winter, and standing in the hot sun in summer. These are likely to be identified with self-control. Well, there is some meaning in all these, but there is much that is outside the purview of these ritualistic observances of restraint.

What is to be restrained is our consciousness. What has put us in bondage is consciousness. We are suffering due to our consciousness. This is a peculiar subtle truth which escapes our perception. We are happy or unhappy in this world due to the way in which our consciousness operates. If it is entangled in outward perception of objects, then it is limited to the laws of space, time and causal relationship. If it is limited inwardly, then it is restricted by the prejudices of the mind such as the passions, the kama, krodha, lobha, ahamkara, body-consciousness, and all that is concomitant of body-consciousness.

In the Kathopanishad a very pointed caution is given, applicable to all seekers. Apramattas tadā bhavati, yogo hi prabhavāpyayau (Katha 2.3.11): Be cautious; be vigilant; do not be asleep, because the state of yoga comes and goes – yogo hi prabhavāpyayau. We cannot be in a state of yoga even for a few minutes continuously. It slips from our hand, eludes our grasp, because consciousness cannot rest in a state which is neither inward nor outward. Such a state is unknown to us. We can busy ourselves in outward life. That is easy. We can also completely cut off all activity and hibernate within. That is also easy. But moderation of consciousness is difficult. Spirituality is moderation of consciousness. Spirituality is temperance, the golden mean, is to be applied even to the operation of consciousness. It is not an extreme of any kind.

Self-control is the answer. It is the secret art of manipulating our understanding in such a way that it does not get caught in the limiting factors of the inward and the outward world. The world is not the physical objects, but is what makes them appear as objects. We must understand the difference. The objects that we see with our senses do not constitute the world. They are not the cause of bondage. It is said that ishvara-srishti is not the cause of bondage. Ishvara-srishti means the world of physicality. The mountain and the rivers, the solar system, the buildings and the lands that we see are not the causes of our bondage. But what makes them appear as a mountain, a river, a system of galaxies, physical objects, the cause of our perception of things as physical externalities, these are the causes of our bondage. Bondage is a limitation of consciousness. It is not perception of objects. Let us remember this very well. The mere fact that we are aware of the existence of an object is not our bondage, or samsara; but that we regard it as an isolated entity located somewhere unconnected with other objects is a part of our bondage.

Space and time, are the most difficult of obstacles. The invisible enemy is harder to overcome. The enemy who is visible can be attacked, but the enemy whom we cannot see with our eyes cannot be approached because we do not know where the enemy is. Space and time are samsara by itself. What we call mortal existence is nothing but limitation through space and time, but when we look at the world, we do not see space and time separately. They are mixed up with things, like poison that may be mixed up with our dinner. We eat it, not knowing that some undesirable element has crept in.

Hence, the art of self-control is adjusting our consciousness so that we do not live as foreigners in our own land. Consciousness can also be prejudiced, even in the practice of sadhana. We can be prejudiced even in our spiritual practice. We may be seekers of Truth, sadhakas, but we may have an approach to things which is wholly unwarranted, uncalled for. We can be mistaken even in a right activity. We may go wrong even in doing a right thing. This is not impossible. Mostly this happens. We do a right thing, but wrongly.

So in our efforts at sadhana, or spiritual practice and self-control, which is our subject, we may go wrong in understanding it, in applying it, and taking it impersonally. Spirituality is impersonality. It is not anything that is personal. It is neither yours nor mine; therefore, to live a spiritual life is not to live a personal life. There are some foolish people who think that spirituality is a personal, individual life of some person, some individual. It is not. It is not a matter concerning some person because it is an attitude of consciousness, which cannot be personal in its essentiality. Consciousness cannot be personal because to limit it to personality is to deny its real nature. Consciousness cannot be limited. The very consciousness of the limitation of consciousness proves that it is not limited; therefore, anything that is personal is far from the spiritual.

The more you grow spiritually, the more also do you become impersonal. You overcome the limitations of your body, anything connected with the body. Our social, political, communal and individual status are overcome gradually when impersonality takes possession of us. In our daily conduct, we should try to become more and more impersonal. This is very difficult because we have never been taught what it is to be impersonal. Impersonality of approach is a peculiar character of consciousness whereby it takes into consideration all conceivable and possible factors in every judgment of value. This would be to introduce impersonality into our conduct.

Spirituality is thus impersonality. Spirituality is also universality. Spirituality is the same as the nature of reality. It is to be true to our own nature. To be spiritual is to be true to our own nature, not to be self-deceptive – to be true to our conscience, and to exhibit in our outer conduct what we are internally in our own selves. When we manifest outside in our daily activity and conduct what we really are within, we are heading towards self-control and a spiritual life.

Now, the internal life is not always manifest outwardly, nor is the outward fact of life acceptable to the inner structure of personality. So this is a tension in our existence. We are ever in a state of mental and nervous tension because of a double difficulty that the facts of outward life are not wholly acceptable to us in our personal existence. Also, our personal constitution within cannot be wholly manifest outside in practical life. The two do not agree with each other, so we always live an artificial life. This is a part of samsara, to live an artificial life. Artificiality keeps us ever in a state of suspense and inward agony. We cannot go to sleep with satisfaction, nor can we get up from our bed with satisfaction, because we are in a state of nervous tension caused by this unavoidable conflict between the outer and the inner. To adjust the consciousness to the outer as well as the inner would be to enter the field of spirituality.

In this spiritual attempt, we practically cease to be an ordinary human being. To be a human being in the ordinary sense of the term is to retain our personality, to pass for Mr. so-and-so or Mrs. so-and-so, etc. The first step that a sadhaka would take in leading a life spiritual would be to reduce his personality consciousness to the minimum state possible. The higher states of sadhana will take care of themselves later on. The first and foremost of our duties would be to reduce our personality consciousness as much as possible.

There are layers of personality. You have various conceptions about your own self. Now, conceptions about yourself which are not necessary may be shed. You need not daily, for all the twenty-four hours of the day, be conscious that you are an engineer, or a collector, or a judge, or a medical officer, and so on. This is an easy method of shedding part of your false personality. That you are a judge or a collector may be part of your personality consciousness, but it is not a necessary part. It is not also the real part. It is a false association arisen on account of social relationships. It can be dropped any moment, and it will drop of itself.

The outermost associations should be dropped first because they are easier to drop. The inward associations are more and more difficult to give up, so that can be done later on. That you are an official or that you occupy a status in society is a personality-consciousness that you can give up easily. Give up this idea.

Then if you are successful in this attempt at the first step in self-control, you have controlled yourself partly. You have restrained yourself by giving up this false consciousness of being an official in society. The next step would be to give up the idea that you are a friend or an enemy of somebody. This is a little more difficult. You may forget that you are a collector, but you cannot forget that you are a friend or an enemy of somebody. This is more difficult, but it has to be given up. You must know that you are not born as a friend, nor are you born as an enemy of any person. That has cropped up later on artificially, again by social relationships. These artificial associations which were not born with you, nor will they die with you, should be dropped gradually. They are only here in the middle as tentatively workable necessities which have entered your consciousness to such an extent that they have become inseparable realities causing so much misery. Forget that you are a friend or an enemy of persons. That you are not a friend of anybody, and you are also not an enemy of anybody, would be perhaps a higher stage in restraining your personality consciousness.

Then you may forget that you belong to any part of your country. Why do you say that you belong to Gujarat or Madras, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana? Let this consciousness be dropped. Well, you cannot drop it so easily, though you may think and nod your head. You always think that you are a Gujarati or a Madrasi or a Punjabi, and so on. This is a false consciousness that has entered your mind. It is not your true nature. You are not a Punjabi or a Gujarati. It is not written on your forehead. It is all absurdity, a stupidity of the first water that you have unnecessarily created to increase your bondage, suffering and woe of every kind. Let this idea that you belong to a state be dropped. You belong to India. Why do you say you belong to Gujarat or to Madras? You belong to Bharatvarsha, India. This is very simple, but very hard to get over. When you hear your own language being spoken, you immediately gravitate towards it: “Oh, my own friend is there.” If a Spanish-speaking man is seen, the Spanish-speaking man runs to that place. If a Gujarati-speaking man is seen, the Gujarati man will run there. If it is a Tamil man, the Tamil runs immediately. Why this attraction?

It is a peculiar adhyasa we have created in our own selves apart from that metaphysical adhyasa that Sankaracharya is speaking of. That is something different, but we have got some other adhyasas created here which are as important as the other one, and perhaps more important, and causing the worst of sufferings in our practical daily life.

These are all important aspects of our sadhana. They may look like a joke, but they are not jokes; they are serious matters. Forget your language, your mother tongue, your state, your being a friend and enemy, your being an official in society. A large percentage of false personality has gone. Now you are coming nearer and nearer to what you really are.

Then there is another very hard difficulty, which is thinking that you are a male or a female. You cannot get out of this idea. You cannot get out of this, but it also is a false personality. It is not true that you are a male or a female. You are hypnotised into that belief by some association that has crept into you from birth itself. You are not a male; you are not a female. Though it seems very clear that you cannot get out of this consciousness, it has to be attempted. You must try to think that you are a merely a human being, not a male or a female. Can you think like this? You belong to mankind as such – humanity as such. Do not use the word ‘mankind’ because it excludes womankind. Simply say ‘humanity’. You belong to humanity, not to the male section or the female section. This is a harder method of self-control where you give up the attachment to that particular awareness that you are a male or a female.

This can be done only in meditation. You cannot get out of this in practical life, but in states of deep meditation and concentration you can forget that you are a sexual personality. You are merely a human individual, that is all, impersonal in its nature, and consciousness should be withdrawn even from that limitation to humanity. You are a part of God’s creation. Why are you associating yourself with humanity too much? Has God created only mankind, humanity, or has He created anything more? When we talk of the world, we mean only humankind, and nothing else. Superhuman and subhuman beings are also there in creation. You belong to God’s creation, not to a species or a genera. We shall not identify ourselves with any species: “I am not a human being; I am only a unit of creation in this cosmos.” This would be a purely scientific perception, scientific in the strictest sense of the term. From the purely scientific point of view, we are all units of configurations of force, not human beings or anything of that kind. There is no such thing as human beings from the purely scientific point of view of perception. What is the definition of a human being? How would we define a human as distinguished from others? Scientifically speaking, this distinction cannot be drawn, though for all practical and social purposes we draw this distinction.

But we are trying to know Truth. We are heading towards the nature of Reality. We should not be satisfied by mere conventions – conventions of political life, conventions of social life, conventions of linguistic life, conventions of family life. Limitations of this kind may be gradually given up.

Station yourself in a particular point in the cosmos, and gaze at the world as a part of creation. Do you know what a difference it makes to you? When you actually do it, you will know it. When you look in this manner, you do not see Rishikesh, Muni-ki-reti. This is not the real way of seeing things. Why do you say ‘Rishikesh’? Rishikesh is only a name that you have given to a part of the earth. You could have given it some other name; it does not matter. You can call it Hollywood. It does not matter. It is only under your control. There is no such thing as Rishikesh, Delhi, New York. They don’t exist. There is only a patch of earth which may be called by any name. So when you see, what do you see? You do not see Rishikesh. You see only a patch of earth, a mound of clay, a little water flowing. What else do you see?

We have created complications in our consciousness by calling things by particular names. This is Mr. Joshi. Who says he is Joshi? I can call him Narayan; I can call him John. What is the harm? Now the personality is associated with name also, and is another limitation. Do you know how deeply your name has entered your consciousness – even when you are asleep? If you call Brahmaji, immediately he will get up. But suppose I call him Karthikeyan, he will not get up. Even if the sound has fallen on his ears, he will not get up because deeply, in an unconscious level, he knows that he is not Karthikeyan. Just imagine how deeply you are attached to even a name. It is not a silly joke. You are all caught up in these small things which have become like a huge ocean, and you are getting drowned in it. Your difficulties are not one or two, but thousands. It is like being caught by hundreds of creditors from all sides. You cannot show your face to anyone. You are suffering from the root.

Can you give up these associations of name? I am not talking of form. That is a higher step. Can you give up association of name, that you are not Mr. so-and-so? Who called you by that name? You could have been called by some other name. Do you imagine how simple a matter it is to understand? You were not born in this world with any name. Somebody gave you a name. Why do you give it so much importance? This is prejudice, sheer prejudice, which is not logical. You have no name at all. You were born without a name, as a simple individual. When a child is born, it does not know whether it is male or female, and develops that distinction later on. It is a pure living organism that is born, which has no name. It does not know to which place it belongs, where it is born. Slowly, individuality consciousness gets more and more concretised, and attachment and repulsions get associated with consciousness.

The analysis of consciousness is the study of life. Life is nothing but consciousness working. Life does not mean our physical associations, enjoyments and sufferings, etc., in the conventional sense. It is a secret working of our consciousness, of which we are wholly unaware. No one knows what one is really, how one is caught. The deep-rooted disease is not known. We have a chronic illness which has to be rubbed out, erased by a gradual elimination of factors, moving from outward facts to inward facts.

When you look at the world, therefore, do not look at Rishikesh. There is no such thing as Rishikesh. Then what is it? It is Uttar Pradesh? No. There is no such thing as that. It is also a name that you have given to a patch of a wider land. Is it India that you are seeing? No, it is not India. India is also a name that you have given to a part of the Earth. You could have given it some other name. You have, fortunately or unfortunately, chanced to give it a particular name. You call a particular part of the Earth America, another part of the Earth India, a third part of the Earth something else. It has no name by itself.

Then when you look, what do you see? You do not see any countries. They do not exist at all. Countries are only a devil in the consciousness of the human being, harassing us. So when you look, you see only a part of the surface of the globe of the Earth. What else do you see? Nothing else. You are a unit, a living organism, crawling, as it were, on the surface of this Earth. Do you know what a liberation of the nervous system it is to think like this? You will sigh with relief. “Oh, I am only on the Earth, not in limited country or a nationality. But even this is a limitation. You are not merely on the surface of the Earth. There is something else to it. You are wrong in thinking that you are stuck to this Earth.

I will tell you another interesting thing. We are likely to be enamoured of people who land on the moon. “We are in space,” they say. We look up to distant objects and say they are in space, high space. But do you know that you are also in space? Just plant yourself on the moon, and imagine that you are looking at the Earth. This will be a planet hanging in space. This is as much a planet hanging in space as the moon hanging in space. So you can be happy that you are in space. Why are you trying to rush up to some other planet to be in space? You are in space. You are on the surface of a planet. You are in mid-air; you know that. You are not on the surface of the Earth. So I am taking your consciousness above the Earth itself.

You have come from the lower levels, from district consciousness, town consciousness, state consciousness, country consciousness, from Earth consciousness. Now you have come to an astronomical universe consciousness: “I am not even on the Earth. There is no such thing as that. I am simply in space, universal space, belonging to nobody, really speaking.” If you think like this, your consciousness has expanded beyond conceivable limits. If you think like this, you will feel healthy psychologically, and even physically. Illnesses and diseases will vanish by this sort of correct thinking. This is not merely imagination; this is fact, whereas what we are thinking now is imagination – that we are in India, in Gandhinagar, and so forth. This is all imagination, not fact; it is the disease. The reverse is happening to us.

Thus, from political status of officialdom we have slowly come higher and higher into realities which are vaster and vaster in their magnitude, more and more universal and impersonal in their character, touching the borderland of Truth, as it were. You are a cosmic person, remember. You are not a human being sticking to the planet Earth. You are influenced by the movement of galaxies beyond the ken of sense perception. You belong to the Milky Way. You do not merely belong to the Earth, or even the solar system. The solar system belongs to the Milky Way, as told by astronomers.

Well, these are all wonderful things. The world is very vast, and we are inseparable parts of this vast creation. Your attachments and hatreds will cease by this sort of direction of consciousness in the proper way. We are still in the physical level. I have not taken you further. Even if you think of the cosmos, it is only physical. But spiritual sadhana is not merely expansion of consciousness to the level of physical perception, even cosmically. It is higher still, and subtler, to which we have to go gradually, and not immediately. God-consciousness is not physical consciousness, though it may be universally extended.

By methods akin to these mentioned, the senses which detract our consciousness and make it impinge on objects, cling to objects, can be restrained in their operations. We can thus become more and more impersonal even in our daily attitude and activity. What you are hearing just now is not merely a lecture. It is a technique of daily living, a methodology of daily conduct. It is the way in which you have to think even when you take a cup of tea, even when you are in the bathroom. It is not only for your puja room. Wherever you are, whatever be your activity, this is the way you have to think. Then you are, I should say, half liberated from samsara. Even by this daily meditation of this character, of this nature, you are fifty percent liberated from bondage. Only another fifty percent remains, which shall also go gradually.

Such is the earnest investigative attitude of a sincere seeker of Truth who contents himself remaining a simple unit in the cosmic creation of God, not arrogating to himself or herself the feeling of possessing things or assuming status in life, or even having a name or belonging to a particular locality and such other associations which have all to be given up by hard effort of daily practice, which is an essential part of sadhana, or spiritual practice.