by Swami Krishnananda
The conclusion that we drew was that the basic reality of ourselves is consciousness. Inasmuch as its characteristic precludes any division within itself, and also precludes the existence of anything that is outside itself, it follows that consciousness should be universal in its nature. That is to say, it is all-pervading, and there is no point in space where it is not.
It has to be so, because if it were not so—if there had been an internal variety in consciousness, or an external division or relationship of any kind—there would be nobody to know that there is such a division inside or outside, because the knower is consciousness only. If consciousness has a division within it—if it is partite, if there is one part of consciousness differentiated from another part, if there is some gap between two parts which is not consciousness—who will be able to know that there is such a gap? Consciousness alone can know that there is a division within itself. The consciousness of there being such a gap between its own two parts would imply its presence even in the gap itself; and so, the gap gets abolished.
So is the case with external relation. There is no internal division and external relation to consciousness. It just is. We defined it as sat—pure sat, Pure Existence, Pure Being. And it is aware of itself; therefore, we called it sat-chit. And inasmuch as it is utter freedom from trammels of every kind, it is ananda, Bliss. The Supreme Reality, therefore, is sat-chit-ananda. It is not some particular location; it is not a thing; it is not a person. It is a definition of that ubiquitous Absolute Being.
If this is the nature of reality, how is it that we are seeing something in the form of a world outside, as if there is a division between the seer and the seen? Our philosophical or analytical conclusion is that in conscious perception there should not be a division. Consciousness cannot become an object of its own self, nor can there be an object outside itself. Such being the case, how are we to explain this world experience which seems to be a contradiction of the nature of Ultimate Being? Because of this contradiction between the nature of Ultimate Reality and our practical day-to-day experience, we call our experience as samsara, or involvement in something that is not real. Our perceptions contradict reality. In what way do they contradict?
The knowledge of this situation requires a little bit of insight into the nature of creation itself—how the world came into being. If we know the process of the creation of the universe, which includes creation of our own selves also, we will know to some extent where we stand in this world. Otherwise, we seem to be under the puerile impression, like children, that we are well off here on the surface of the earth, in some locality, in some country, in some family, in some little cottage. This is the idea of our location, as far as people like us are concerned.
Are we really located in such a prosaic manner as we seem to define ourselves? In this structure of creation, can we say our location is in a hut, in a little bungalow, on a little land? There seems to be something more about it than appears on the surface. There is a fundamental error in the process of human perception, or any kind of empirical perception.
In the process of creation, what is supposed to have taken place is a sudden split, as it appears to take place in the dream world. In dream, we have become the seer as well as the seen. Now we are in the state of waking. Our mind is integrated, we may say, because we have a total psychic operation. That is why we are sane, logical, sensible and intelligible. When we say our mind is perfectly in order, what we seem to mean is that there is no gap or split in the operation of the psyche. There is a perfect alignment of the parts of the psyche so that the psyche or mind becomes a wholesome, integrated operation.
This psyche of ours which is so wholesome in waking appears to become something other than what it is in the dream world. It can appear as a large mountain in front—space, time and what not. Who is the seer of the dream? It is the very same mind which has become the object. It also manufactures the process of perception, like space and time. It is not just the segregation of the waking mind into the subjective side and the objective side; there is a third element of the possibility of perception of the objective world.
There must be a connection between me and the object outside so that I may be aware that there is an object outside. This is very important. If a wall is in front of me, I must be able to know that there is a wall in front of me. How can I know it unless there is some kind of intelligible relation between me—between the so-called seeing mind—and the object outside? The wall is not inside my eyes. It is far away. How do I know that it is there? I can see even distant things without them being inside my eyes. How people perceive things is a part of perceptional psychology.
Mostly the study of general psychology does not go deep into this matter. They do not wish to be philosophical in their nature. Psychology is not philosophy—though in India especially, philosophy and psychology are related to each other as inseparables; philosophy, religion and psychology go together. But in the West, they have been isolated. Religion is different from philosophy; philosophy is different from psychology. And even in psychology, we have general psychology, abnormal psychology, industrial psychology, experimental psychology, and so on.
The psychology of perception has an implication behind it, within it: namely, the intelligibility involved in the perception of an object outside. Let us take dream as a very clear example before us. How do we perceive the objective dream world? We will be surprised to realise that this waking mind, so-called, which is our true mind, has manufactured a peculiar dramatic circumstance in the dream world, where it is the director of the drama, the audience, the enacting process, and even the light on the stage. If there is no light on the stage, the performance will not be intelligible. That light is something which people do not notice—though, without which, no perception is possible.
When we are observing a dramatic performance, we do not go on looking at the light, though we know very well that without the light, nothing is possible. We are totally unaware of there being such a thing called light. We are absorbed in the objective enactment and not in the condition that is precedent to the very enactment itself—namely, light.
Similarly, in the dream world, as it is in the waking world, we are involved in the object outside and engrossed in the value that we attach to that object, or the meaning that we seem to be seeing in it—so much engrossed that we have no time to go deeper into the very condition of this perception. How did this perception become possible at all? The mind has become the subjective side, it has become the object of perception, and it has to also become the intelligence connecting the subject with the object.
This analogy of the dream phenomena will be a kind of explanation of what must have taken place, or what has taken place, as the scriptures tell us, at the time of creation. We may compare our waking mind to a total absolute. For all our daily practical purposes, it is that. That totality of the absolute psyche of our waking condition has become the subjective side, the objective side and also the link between the subject and the object.
The same thing has happened in a cosmic fashion. By analogy, we may transfer our dream perception psychology to the cosmic psychology of universal perception. If we are to study this subject in terms of the statements of the scriptures, especially the Vedas and the Upanishads, we may gather that there was an impulse to divide, as the waking mind has an impulse to become an object in the dream world, whatever be the cause. Why dreams take place is a different subject, which we will not enter into now.
The impulse to divide an organic totality into subjective and objective sides is the cause of dream perception. This total cosmic impulse is, according to the scriptures, the will of God. “Let there be this,” and it is there immediately, by the very affirmation of the will. “May I become other than what I am.” The universe is the otherness of God—the self-alienation of the Absolute, the Supreme Being beholding Itself, as it were, through the mirror of space and time.
Place a mirror in front of you. Do you see yourself? Is it possible for a person to see one’s own self? Can you become an object of your own self in perception? You know very well that in logical parlance, ‘A’ cannot become ‘B’. That ‘A’ is ‘A’ is the law of identity, and that ‘A’ cannot be ‘B’ is the law of contradiction. You cannot be something which is seen, because you are the seer. But in a mirror, you can see yourself. You have objectified yourself through a medium that makes it possible for you to behold yourself as an other than yourself.
Have you really become other than yourself? No. Remove the mirror, and the object is not there. The mirror of cosmic perception is the space-time-cause complex. Space is a name that we give to that intermediary vacuum or emptiness, as it were, which is necessary for alienating the subject into the object. Even in dream, space is necessary. The dream space is absolutely essential; otherwise, we will not see anything there. The space-time complex is the medium; it is the mirror through which the seeing mind beholds itself as if it is another.
God willed to be as if He is another. In the Purusha Sukta of the Vedas, and in certain other analogous mantras of the Vedas, enunciation is made that this universe of variety is the limbs of the Absolute. The Purusha Sukta begins by saying sahasrasirsa purusah sahasraksah sahasrapat, sa bhumim visvato vrtva’tyatistaddasagulam: The millionfold variety that is apparently visible as this universe is the head, the eyes, the hands and feet, the limbs of the Supreme Being. The Bhagavadgita says the same thing in its thirteenth chapter. Sarvatah pani-padam tat sarvato’ksi-siro-mukham, sarvatah srutimal loke sarvam avritya tisthati: Everywhere are ears, everywhere are eyes, everywhere are feet, everywhere are heads, the limbs of God.
The idea is that in the dream world, the whole thing is the mind. The mountain is the mind, the trees are the mind, the sun and the moon and the stars that we see in the dream world are our mind, the space is the mind, the time is the mind, and the causal relation is the mind. The entire activity is the mind. In dream we see a tiger pursuing us, and we run and climb to the top of a tree. The tiger is our mind, the running process is our mind, the tree is our mind, even the climbing is our mind.
All this mysterious activity that we can see—we can become a butterfly in dream, we can become a king, we can become a pauper, we can even be born and die in dream—all these things, wondrous as they appear, are the dramatic activity, peculiar magical performance of our mind. So this is again an analogy from our own personal experience to understand what the Vedas mean by saying that the whole universe is God’s limbs spread out.
But has God really become something other than what He is? Has God become non-God merely because we see something as the form of creation? The answer to this question is: Have we become the mountain, really? If that is the case, we would not wake up into the person that we were. The mountain would wake up. There is no mountain; it has gone into the integrated mind. Though the dream world is really perceptible, and in dream we can hit your head against a real wall, yet nothing has happened.
There are varieties of creation theories, the majority concluding that the world has somehow come from God. But the ‘somehow’ is difficult to explain. The creationist doctrines of a realistic nature say that there is an actual modification of the reality into the form of this world. What is meant by ‘modification’? Is it as milk becomes curd or yogurt? When milk becomes curd, milk has ceased to be what it is; it has become the curd. If that is the case, the matter is very serious. There will be no milk afterwards. We can drink our curd, but we cannot ask for milk again.
If God has really modified Himself into the yogurt of this world, there is no use asking for God, because God has ceased to be. He has become this, which we are seeing with our eyes. That is a very dangerous doctrine, because there is nothing to aspire for; all that we are aspiring for has died into this form of the manifested world. This doctrine is called Parinamavada, or the doctrine of transformation.
Our aspirations do not permit this kind of argument of the realistic doctrines. We long for higher and higher things. We long for endless things; we long for eternal life. We do not want to die; we want to defy death. We would like to possess the entire space. We would like to overcome time itself. How does this aspiration arise in us if the root of it has ceased to exist?
The analogy once again comes to our aid. Creation seems to have taken place, and very realistically indeed, but not as milk becoming curd. It is as an appearance. Is not a dream an appearance? Or has the mind really become the stone, brick, forest and trees that we see in dream? In spite of the hard realistic perception of the dream world, it is psychic in its content. All the objects in the world of dream are psychic in their nature; they are not physical.
In a similar manner, the entire world of perception, physical as it may appear in an astronomical sense, is a modification of consciousness. We may call it condensation, centralisation, pinpointing, etc., of the Universal Consciousness itself. It has become the seer of this world, it has become the world that we see, and it is also the process of perception—in the same way as the dream world has manifested itself from our own waking mind.
Now, what happens to us in the dream world? We take it for real. We can get frightened in dream, we can feel happy in dream. All the experiences that we seem to be undergoing in the waking world can also be undergone in the dream world. If a tiger pounces on us in dream, we may scream, and the screaming may be real. We will yell out and get up—a tiger has come! Such reality is attributed to the object of pure psychic content. We get attached to things, and we are also repelled by things in the dream world. We can become emperors, we can become beggars in dream.
There was a king called Janaka, of hallowed memory. He dreamt one day that he was a butterfly, and the intensity of the feeling that he was a butterfly was such that when he woke up, he did not know whether he was King Janaka or the butterfly dreaming that it is king. So he asked Yajnavalkya. King Janaka said, "Is Janaka dreaming that he is a butterfly, or is the butterfly dreaming that he is Janaka?" "Either way it can be," was Yajnavalkya's reply. Now, what do you say about this?
Humorously, someone said: If a poor person can dream for twelve hours that he is a king, and if a king can dream for twelve hours that he is a beggar, what is the difference between these two persons? If for twelve hours the king is a beggar, and for twelve hours the beggar is a king, who is the king and who is the beggar? Tell me! What do you understand from this analogy? This is a mystery of psychic phenomena. We call it a jugglery; we have to call it so. If God has really become this world, there is no use of asking for God-realisation, because He has ceased to be. But that cannot be. We ourselves are standing witnesses of the refutation of the doctrine of God having died into the form of this modified world.
Our attachments, our aversions, our loves and hatreds, our habit of grabbing property, even our love for life and fear of death can be bundled up into a single phenomenon of utter confusion in the mind. There has been a muddle of our psychic operation, making us believe that it is absolutely real. Do we not sometimes weep when we see a movie that is projected on a screen? Sometimes we cannot sleep after having seen certain movies. We will be elated, we will be jumping in joy, or we will cry.
What have we seen? There was nothing there, actually speaking. It was a shadow dance. The shadow dance was three-dimensionally projected into the structure of the mind with such vehemence that we take it for reality, and then we weep or jump in joy. For us to be happy or unhappy, objects need not necessarily be really there. Even non-existent things can make us happy and unhappy, provided our mind is connected to it.
Suppose a lady's son is serving in the army in a foreign country, and for years he has not come back. He is perfectly well, but false news reaches her that he has been killed in battle. The mother can collapse and die of heart attack, even though nothing has really taken place. An unreal phenomenon can kill her. But suppose he is really dead, and for ten years no news about it reaches her; she is perfectly all right.
Therefore, what is the cause of our sorrow? Is the cause something really happening, or is it our mental operation? This is the reason why yoga psychology tells us to be careful in our emotions, perceptions, loves, hatreds, and in taking things so seriously that we die for them. Things are not to be taken so seriously in terms of emotion.
Yoga psychology also distinguishes between ordinary psychic perception and what is called abnormal psychic perception. This is incidental to our studies, but it is important. When we look at a thing, we may look at it in two ways: as just an object which is there, or as an object that is connected with us. Do we not see a tree there in front of us? What concern do we have with that tree? We pass by it a hundred times every day and do not even recognise its existence. Suppose there are trees in our own garden, around our house. We will go on seeing every leaf. "How beautiful is this flower! How tender is this leaf! This is the tree that my grandfather planted here in the orchard." But there are so many trees in the forest, and nobody bothers about them. Some fall down, some wither away, some are cut. Suppose somebody cuts the tree in our garden?
Raga and dvesha, like and dislike, are connected with one kind of mental operation, whereas in others it is a general consciousness of something being there in front. If our emotions are disturbed or stimulated in any way, that is something quite different from ordinary perception. We sit in a railway compartment and see hundreds of people sitting there, but we do not bother to know who they are. They are like things, not like human beings. We are not concerned about them. But suppose it is a marriage party of our own group. Everyone is known to us and anything happening to anyone is happening to us also. What is the difference? Are the other passengers not human beings? Can we say that only those in our group are human beings? See the wonder of the working of the mind!
Inasmuch as all experience in this world is mental, finally, yoga students should be very cautious and not get involved in objects of perception to such an extent that it may ruin their health, spoil their career, and disturb their normal relationship with things. In order that our relationship, internally as well as externally, may always be normal, and we do not land in any kind of abnormal situation, yoga psychology prescribes the disciplines known as yamas: ahimsa satya asteya brahmacarya aparigrahah yamah. They are disciplines connected with internal alignment as well as external relation of a harmonious nature. It is an imposition upon us by a moral or ethical mandate. Are we to become disciplined and good only because there is a policeman outside? Or can we be good and disciplined even if there is no government? Should somebody hit us on the head so that we may become good?
The yamas and niyamas are like policemen. They compel us: You must be like this. But that kind of morality is not going to help us much. The thief who does not carry on his profession because of policemen around does not cease to be a thief. He is a thief, nevertheless. If gold is heaped in front of us and nobody sees us, and if our mind is not disturbed by its presence, we are not thieves. So our morality, ethics, goodness of behaviour, or detachment should be there—not because the scripture says or the institution penalises, or because we are afraid that God Himself will put us in hell. We must realise that it is always good to be good. Why is it good to be good? What is the harm if we are not good? We cannot immediately have a real answer to this question.
Children in school who are given lessons in morality may put a question. "Sir, that man is so bad, and he is thriving very well. Why are you telling me to be good?" The teacher sometimes cannot immediately give an answer to this question: "The evil man thrives and the good man goes to hell. What is this? And you tell me to be good?" Children in kindergarten can put a question like this; and we ourselves may also feel upset, irritated, by seeing these things. Our behaviour seems to be conditioned by certain disciplines imposed upon us. But yoga discipline is not imposition. Meditation is not an exercise like physical games. It is a demand of our inner nature itself. We have to find an answer ourselves as to why it is good to be good, why it is not good to be attached to things. Do we not feel happy if we are attached to loveable objects? Certainly! But yet, we are told that we should not get attached to anything, even if it looks loveable and attractive. Why? You answer the question yourself.
"Something beautiful, attractive and loveable—you said do not get attached to it. Is there any sense in your instruction?" There will be a revolt from inside. The scriptural instructions and the Guru's orders, whatever they be, will create a revolt inside the student's mind when he is told something contrary to what he feels. Now, why does he feel totally different from what is said to be good?
Spiritual practice is an inner demand, not an external imposition. It is not that somebody is sitting in meditation, so let me also sit. You feel a need for it for some reason of your own. You are a good man because you know what the meaning of a good man is. You are a gentleman; you know what the meaning of it is. Are you a gentleman because it is good to be a gentleman in the eyes of people? Is it a social psychology? Is goodness a social characteristic, or is it a personal requirement?
These students and teachers of moral science tell us that goodness is good—not because it brings some benefit to us, but because goodness itself is a benefit. It is difficult to understand this. "What is the benefit if I am just good?" The answer to this cannot come immediately, because our relationship to the whole universal structure is not clear to the mind.
You must first of all know what is the meaning of being good. Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj always said, "Be good. Do good." But tell me, what did he mean by being good? Have some idea in your mind. It is a gradational adjustment of your own existence with the structure of reality outside. It is a very pithy, sutra-like statement that I have made: an adjustment of your total being with the various degrees of reality manifest before you, including all the environment, up to the cosmos.
Thus, from the study of the process of creation which seems to be involving a peculiar split of the subjective side and the objective side in an otherwise-total cosmic existence, what we learn is that empirical perception, sensory perception, or the affirmation of the ordinary psychic operations and the egoistic nature are not normal, finally, in the real sense. None of us is ultimately normal from a purely spiritual and philosophical sense, if normalcy is to be defined as perfect harmony with the structure of things. Who is in such harmony with the structure of things? We are always dissonant. There is repulsion, fear, agony, anxiety, and the expectation of anything arising, on account of the continuous non-alignment of the inner operation of the mind with external manifestation. The mind in dream that sees the dream world is not set in tune with the object of dream. That is why, in dream also, we can have joy and sorrow. But if the dream mind was to know that it is itself appearing as the object outside, there would be neither joy nor sorrow.
Why are we told that saints and sages have neither sorrow nor joy in their minds? They are not dead people. They are fully aware of all things, but their awareness is so tuned up to the nature of things that nothing affects them either positively as love or negatively as hatred.
In the structure of this creational process, we are all now placed in the position of a percipient, a seer of this world, and we behold a vast phenomenon of space-time and objects. Yet, there is an invisible content pervading this process of perception. Between me and you there is an intermediary intelligence pervading everywhere, which we cannot see because it is the seer. If the dream percipient were to also perceive the intelligence between itself and the object, there would be no dream. The dream would vanish in one second.
It is necessary not to know certain things in order that we may enjoy a false performance—like in a cinema, for instance. If we go on thinking that, after all, it is a shadow and a screen, we will not enjoy the movie. Perception of objects will cease in one second. The world perception will vanish.
In our studies of this cosmic process of creation, we come across certain words such as adhyatma, adhibhauta and adhidaiva. The subjective side is called adhyatma, the objective side is called adhibhauta, and that invisible content between the subject and object is called adhidaiva, which is the divine principle superintending over all kinds of perception by the subject of the object. They are called gods. In India we worship many gods. Are there many gods, really speaking? Yes and no.
There is only one God, perfectly correct, because we have concluded that the Ultimate Being should be universal undividedness of consciousness. Therefore, there cannot be more than one God. But, why are we worshipping so many gods? This series of many gods is nothing but the intermediary link of consciousness between various stages of the connection between the subject and the object in the process of coming and going.
There are various stages of the descent of the Absolute into this perception of the world of physicality. These stages are sometimes called the realms of being or, in Sanskrit, bhuvan or loka—Bhuloka, Bhuvarloka, Svarloka, Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka. What is meant by all these? They are inner contents of the perceived world.
I will give an example as to what this inner content of a thing can be. Inside an object, such as a stone, there are molecules. Inside the molecules there are atoms, and inside the atoms there are finer contents, electrons. Inside them, there is something mysterious. Like that, there are seven stages of inwardisation of the structure of a particular thing. This inwardisation of the content of the whole world in seven stages—call them inwardisation in the ascending order or externalisation in the descending order—are these worlds cosmically. In Sanskrit they are called Bhuloka, Bhuvarloka, Svarloka, Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka.
In every loka, in every world, in every realm of this internalisation of the cosmos, there is subject-object relation; and in every subject-object relation, there is an intermediary intelligence. That is what is called the god. And as there are countless relationships of subject and objects, we can say millions of gods also are there. Therefore, it is not that Hinduism has many gods. It is a way of perceiving things, an interpretation of the various processes of the coming and going of things.
So is the meaning of adhyatma, adhibhauta, adhidaiva. Adhyatma is the perceiver in any realm, in any stage of ascent or descent. Adhibhauta is the object in any stage of ascent or descent. Adhidaiva is the god in this ascent or descent. Thus, there are three things: the very clear existence of the percipient like you, me; the existence of an object like a wall, a building or a mountain, which is also very clear; and the imperceptible divinity which is superintending over both the subject and the object—a very, very important thing that we always miss in our observation, and which is the cause of our trouble in this world.
If we can transfer our perceiving consciousness to the intermediary transcendent element between the seer and the seen, we would become supermen in one instant.