A Textbook of Yoga
by Swami Krishnananda

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Chapter 15: Questions and Answers – Part 1

Q: In the dream state, do the will and the discrimination work as powerfully as in the waking state? What is the difference?

SWAMIJI: It works as powerfully in the dream state, only in a different order of space and time. Qualitatively, in terms of degree of reality, the experience in dream is a lesser level that in waking, yet it has all the characteristics of the waking state. The human being can be regarded as a higher level of reality than an animal, yet all the biological functions are similar both in the human being and in the animal. Whatever man feels, the animal also will feel; nevertheless, the animal is in a lower category of reality than the human. So by way of degree of reality, there is a distinction, but from the point of view of structure, they are identical – qualitatively different, structurally same.

Q: Is it because of this qualitative difference in the degree of experience that the dream state is lesser than the waking state and, therefore, all concepts and memory is less in the dream state than in the waking state?

SWAMIJI: Yes, you may say that. Correct.

Q: In the state of samadhi, do thoughts exist?

SWAMIJI: There are two kinds of thought. One is called in Sanskrit vishayakara vritti, and another is called brahmakara vritti. The meaning of these two terms is that while the mind thinks of an object external to it, it assumes the form of that object and it is cast in the mould of the object – even as molten lead cast in a crucible takes the form of that crucible. This operation of the mind in terms of the cognition of an object outside is what, in psychology, is usually called a psychosis. And this is what is meant by the Sanskrit word vishayakara vritti. Now comes the answer to your question of whether in samadhi there is a thought.

There is a thought, but it is called brahmakara vritti. The mind in samadhi does not think of anything outside it, but thinks that in which it itself is involved. Brahmakara vritti means cosmic psychosis; vishayakara vritti means objective psychosis. The samadhi vritti, samadhi psychosis, is cosmic in the sense that the perceiver – the cogniser or the one that is aware – gets merged in that of which one is aware. So you may say that mind functions in samadhi also, but in a cosmic fashion, not in a particularised, individual fashion. Virtually, we may not call it mind at all. It has ceased to be the tormenting type of mind which we people have. It is a liberated mind; nevertheless, you may call it a mind if you like because it is aware – not of an object outside, but of a total cosmos. So mind is there, or you may say it is not there – either way.

Q: What is the law of nature?

SWAMIJI: The law of nature is what nature thinks in its mind. Your law is what you are thinking in your mind. Nature cannot be said to be thinking of anything outside itself, because outside nature nothing exists. Everything is inside nature only, so if nature is thinking, what will it think? It will think itself only. So this total inclusive thought of nature thinking includes also space and time because they are also part of nature. It is something like God thinking, because they say nature as we see it manifest in the form of this universe is God's body. This is also one of the conclusions of acharyas, etc. The world is the body of God.

So if nature thinks, it will think itself only. It cannot think anything else. So when you have to follow the law of nature perfectly, you have to think as nature would think. That is total harmony with its entire structure. Then it is something like being friendly with God Himself. To be friendly with nature is virtually being friendly with God; and to think as nature thinks is something like thinking like God Himself. The total thought of the entire creation may be said to be the law of nature.

Q: Nature is said to be inside God.

SWAMIJI: God is a consciousness, without intervention of space-time and the causal relation of things. Nature, at least as we hear it said in the scriptures, is a visible form of the very same consciousness. The distinction between God and nature is something like soul and body. You have got a soul and a body. You cannot say that the soul and body are the same, and yet you cannot say that they are totally different. If they are totally different, the soul can be kept here and the body can be kept there. That you cannot do, so they are not two things; and yet you cannot say that the body is the soul, nor can you say that the soul is the body. So is the manifestation. If you want to make it more concrete in expression, you may even say the condensation of Universal consciousness appears as this nature. It is something like water becoming ice.

Q: What is the difference between God and God-realisation?

SWAMIJI: The person who has realised God is called a God-realised soul. There are seven stages of God-realisation. These seven stages are mentioned in one way in the sutras of Patanjali, and in another way in the Yoga Vasishtha – especially the Yoga Vasishtha.

When a person is free from all desires to which ordinary people are accustomed, and thinks in the mind, "I want God only. My desire is to have God. I don't have a desire for anything else," this thought itself can be regarded as the first state or step towards God. You need not call it God-realisation; but nevertheless, it is a great thing even to be convinced that you want only that. Easily one cannot think like that; most people have got all kinds of ideas. But if you are convinced that this is the only thing that you want, it is the first step that you have taken towards God-realisation. I am mentioning something in the language of the Yoga Vasishtha. It is called subhechcha in Sanskrit: the desire to do the good thing, and the only thing being love of God, is the first step.

The second stage is vicharana. You do not merely think, but you start analysing into the ways and means of moving still further: "How can I go? What steps am I taking? What are the sadhanas?" Going on thinking like this, going to Gurus and reading scriptures so that your mind becomes active in that direction is the second stage.

The third stage is that the mind is almost detaching itself from all objects. It is called tanumanasi. Tanu means thin, thread-like. The mind becomes thread-like in the third stage. It is as if it is breaking.

The fourth is the actual spiritual condition. The first three are the stages of a seeker, a sadhaka. The last four are the stages of an actual realised person. The fourth state is called sattvapatti which means the light of the cosmos will start flashing in your mind, like lightning. You see lightning flashes when there is a cloudy and rainy atmosphere. Like that you will feel lightning flashes, illuminations, etc., from inside. That is the fourth state, sattvapatti.

The fifth state is asamsakti. You will have no desire even to see a thing, let alone desire. Even the eyes do not have any interest in seeing things; the ears have no desire to hear anything; the nose has no desire to smell; the tongue has no desire to taste; the hands have no desire to touch. Even the desire to be conscious of the existence of something outside goes. This is called asamsakti, the fifth state.

The sixth is padartha-bhavana. You will begin to see matter itself shining like gold. Now it is all brick and mortar, iron and all kinds of things. It will all look like gold afterwards – shining. They will not look like material objects, but as if one thing only is pervading everywhere, as if the whole world is made up of gold – something like that. Now you see mountains, trees, people, things, but later everything will look like ornaments, like one gold. The True Reality will be seen at that time.

The last stage is that you will actually merge into it. You will also become that very gold, and there will be no distinction between the knower of it and that which is known. These are the stages of God-realisation. There are differences, but in the last state there is no difference. You will merge into it.

Q: Have you realised God?

SWAMIJI: Are you a realised person?

Student: Yes.

SWAMIJI: I am very glad. [To the class] You have got a Guru! Your Guru us here! I am very glad, sir. You are a confident boy. What is your name — Bhavagrai? Yes, he has caught the bhava of the whole teaching. Good boy. But be careful, very careful. God is the most kind mother. No mother can be so kind as God, but no judge in a court can be so severe as God. So how will you compare these two aspects? He is the most severe judiciary, incomparable with anyone in the world, and the kindest of mothers. These two qualities you cannot find in one person in the world. The mother thinks in one way, the father thinks in another way, generally. Isn't it? But there one person only is two things. This judicial impartiality is the same as the kindness of a mother. It is difficult to explain because such a thing is not seen in this world.

Q: Does rebirth take place immediately? And what will I be in the next birth?

SWAMIJI: Rebirth need not take place immediately. It can take place immediately if the karma is very intense; otherwise, it may take its own time. The decision will be taken by the desires which are left at the time of death. Even now you can know to some extent what you will be in your next birth by analysing your own thoughts.

Today at sunset time you sit quiet. Go on thinking from the morning onwards till this moment what you have been thinking predominantly. Of course, you might have been thinking of the academy, kitchen, bath, washing clothes; they are all secondary matters. But basically, in your subconscious, what have you been thinking all day? Yesterday what did you think? The day before yesterday, what did you think? This is why they say you must keep a spiritual diary – very important. You cannot remember what you thought ten days ago. You will not remember. If you keep a diary and make notes, you can know the balance sheet of thirty days of thinking. You can say that these are the basic thoughts that occurred to your mind. This you will become in the next birth, to fulfil that desire. You can know what you will become in the next birth. You need not consult any scripture; your thoughts are known to you very well. What do you want? Ask your own mind what it wants.

In a classroom of the academy, you will say you want God. It is not like that. Go to the road, go to the railway station, go to the marketplace and then see what you are thinking. Those thoughts are also important. The essence of all these will be taken out, like butter from milk, and that will condense itself into a body which is called rebirth. It is not decided by anybody else. You are deciding your own fate and you create your own rebirth. Nobody is punishing you. Your thoughts are your makers, and you can, if you are impartial in judging your own mind, know what you will become in the next birth. It is not very difficult.

Q: How can I know which path is best for me? Should I choose by myself?

SWAMIJI: If you can choose for yourself any good path among the many, very good; you can choose it. But if you are unable to choose it, you may ask your Guru. The Guru is supposed to know the mind of a disciple to some extent; and knowing you very well, they will tell what the path is for you at this moment. If you yourself can decide, fine. Otherwise, ask your Guru.

Q: Is consciousness static or dynamic?

SWAMIJI: When it is in itself, it is static, but when creation takes place, it is dynamic. Electricity is pervading here even now, but it is not dynamic. It can become active by certain technological appliances which generate this active part of it – like a dynamo, for instance. If a dynamo works, you will see the active part of the electricity; otherwise, it is pervading everywhere and you cannot see it in a general form. You call it static, if you like. Even when the wind does not blow, even if the leaf is not moving, air is there. You cannot say air is not there; it is static. Now it is dynamic; it is moving and all the trees are shaking. So you can say originally it is static, but it is potentially dynamic. You cannot say air is static or dynamic; it can become both. But anyway, to think totally free from creative activity, you may call it static.

Q: What is the qualitative difference between the dream state and the waking state?

SWAMIJI: In dream, you enter a different world altogether. Qualitative difference arises on account of a new space-time that you create. There is an objective, physical space-time here; there only psychological space-time is there. That is why qualitative difference takes place. And dreams occur due to various reasons. It is not due to one reason only. One of the reasons is that you have got some submerged desires which you cannot express in daily life, in the waking condition. Because the intellect, which puts a censorship in the waking condition, is not operating in dream, the subconscious mind comes up as thieves go everywhere when policemen are not there.

But there are other reasons also for dreams occurring. They can foretell something that is going to happen in the future; or you may be a good sadhaka and so all the karmas are getting exhausted. Sometimes very pleasant things, sometimes unpleasant things – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde may both come.

I heard in Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa's life there was an incident when he was intensely in a state of semi-samadhi. A black man started coming out of his body. From the left side, a dark man emerged. The Kala-purusha, that evil tendency in human nature, went out completely from him. You can read about many fantastic experiences, such as Buddha having an experience in his meditations. Sometimes temptations, sometimes threats, sometimes delusions – they are all your old accumulated karmas of previous lives manifesting themselves in concrete form.

These old karmas say that after having done enough service to you, they are going. And when they go, naturally you see them. You never knew that they are inside you because you were so friendly with them that you never knew that they are different from you. But when they take leave of you, you find them as pleasant things or unpleasant things.

Sometimes dreams occur due to the grace of God and the blessing of a Guru. Suppose there is some very bad karma, due to which a person is to fall from a tree and break his leg. If God is very kind and your love of God is intense and Guru also is giving his blessing, you will fall from a tree and break you leg in dream. You will feel the same pain there. You will also yell; you will cry. But actually it has got ameliorated into a dream experience, and when you wake up you are perfectly all right.

Various other reasons also are there. So many reasons are mentioned by psychoanalysts, into which we never enter. As far as we spiritual seekers are concerned, we may say that karmas are the causes — from past births or even this birth.

Q: Is it true that all individuals are always meditating?

SWAMIJI: Why are you saying that? All individuals are not always meditating. They may be thinking something. Every individual is thinking something, but you cannot call it meditating. Meditating means thinking only one thing; and if you think that every individual in the world is thinking only one thing, you may say they are meditating. But nobody does that. Each one has his own thoughts, and nobody is meditating like that. Who is meditating? Meditation is one thought, and nobody has got one thought. All people have got many thoughts. That is not correct; all people are not meditating.

Q: How is it practical to be in that state always?

SWAMIJI: That is the same as being in a state of God-consciousness. It is the same thing, if you can intensely feel and convince yourself that you are inseparable from all that you see with the eyes, all this cosmos. I have mentioned to you so many times in the earlier lessons that your personality is made up of the same substance as the world outside; so when you think, naturally you cannot think the world outside. You will think that which is both – a blend of both. If this intention can be driven into your mind and you can feel it intensely, that is aham brahma asmi.

And so you are asking how long can you do it. So long as you can maintain this consciousness. You cannot do it for more than a few minutes because again you will think that something is outside. The moment that you think that there is something outside you, that cosmic consciousness is gone. You can think for yourself how many times you have felt that you are inseparable from the world. It may be a few seconds, a few minutes, but the whole day is spent thinking something else, unless you are deeply engaged in practice.

Q: In the perceptual process, does the thought come before the prana vibrates on the mind?

SWAMIJI: Thought comes first.

Q: Thought comes because prana vibrates on the mind. And when the prana goes to the sense object, then we perceive things?

SWAMIJI: Prana will not go to the object unless the mind starts thinking the object. Prana is mostly inside the body only. It can be driven out from the body and directed to an object outside when the mind thinks of that object. The thought of the mind in respect of an object is like a wire that connects this dynamo of the mind with that object and it becomes a live wire. The thought becomes a live wire, as it were, and the prana is discharged through the thought. Prana moves towards an object only when the mind thinks of the object. Otherwise, it will be inside the body only. Whatever you think in your mind is also the target of the prana. If you think something even at a very far-off distant place, the prana will go there, and it will operate.

There is a thing called telepathy. Telepathic action is due to the thought of the mind working in terms of some distant object and getting charged with the prana of the person, which travels invisibly because of the force of thought. So prana moves to an object only when the mind thinks of the object.

Q: The mind thinks because of the vibration of prana.

SWAMIJI: The mind thinks because of desire. Prana has no consciousness. Therefore, it cannot think an object. It is like electricity; it has no mind, no brain. It can be directed to something only if the engineer is behind it to direct it in some way. Prana cannot think, but it can act. The mind acts through the prana; prana and mind are like thought and action put together.

Q: That is also thought, Swamiji.

SWAMIJI: Maybe. When I say desire, it means thought only. When the mind thinks of an object, it is manifesting a desire – wanting it or not wanting it. Then it takes a step in the direction of fulfilling that desire; that step is in terms of the prana. Prana is the action of the mind. It thinks and then acts. Mere thinking is mind, but action is prana. If you think that you have to lift something with your hand, the prana actually moves the hand in that direction and lifts it. So thought and action – prana – go together.

Q: It is the prana that vibrates on the mind and generates thoughts.

SWAMIJI: Prana does not generate thought. It is not true. It is the mind that generates the prana – the other way around.

Q: Does a God-realised person do any work?

SWAMIJI: Do you mean to say that God is established in the Self, or not? Do you think God is established in the Self? Then what work is God doing? It is that same work that the person will do who is established in the Self. Does God work? What work is God doing just now? If He is not working, then a Self-realised man will not work. But if you say God is working, then he will also work.

There was a Maharaja. He saw one Mahatma like you. Bhavagrai Mahatma. He said, "Hey, come, Mahatmaji. Sit. Tell me, what is God doing just now."

The Mahatma said that this is not the way of putting a question. "You see, you are sitting on a throne and I am sitting on the floor in front of you, and you are asking me. You are like a student. I am like a teacher. A teacher sitting on the floor and a student on a throne is not a proper way. You must sit on the floor and I must sit on the throne. Then only the answer can come."

"All right," he said. "I will sit on the floor." The king got down and told him to sit on the throne.

"This is what God is doing," he said. "He puts the top man down and the down man up. You are a king; you sat on the floor. I am a poor fellow; I sat on the throne. This is what God does. So I answered your question about what God is doing."

Q: How can I identify the presence of God?

SWAMIJI: When you cannot see anything outside you and your presence, your personality, is totally identified with everything that you see, you may say that you are God-conscious. You must have as much union of your consciousness with things that you see with your eyes, as your consciousness now is identified with this body. You are so very intimately connected with your body that you cannot say that the body is outside consciousness. If that intensity of consciousness can be felt in respect of things seen outside also, in the sense of all things that you see, you are one with nature and you may say it is one with God also.

It is a question of intense conviction and feeling of your heart. It can be done in one minute or it may take years, as is the case with the intensity of your longing for it.

Q: What is the most suitable method to realise God in this world?

SWAMIJI: If you want me to use a common answer which generally all mahatmas give, they say kirtan-bhajan is the best. God's name is the best way, easiest and best in this Kali Yuga. This is what they say. Hari Rama Hari Rama Rama Rama Hari Hari Hari Krishna Hari Krishna Krishna Krishna Hari Hari. This is the Kali-santarana mantra which enables you to cross over the samsara of Kali Yuga.

Q: What is the meaning of Hari Rama Hari Rama Rama Rama Hari Hari Hari Krishna Hari Krishna Krishna Krishna Hari Hari?

SWAMIJI: Hari is the Almighty Creator of the Universe. Sometimes they call him Narayana also. Rama and Krishna are his incarnations. In Rama's incarnation, he demonstrated perfect humanity, and in Krishna's incarnation, he demonstrated perfect divinity — so perfect Universality which is Hari, perfect humanity in Rama, and perfect divinity in Krishna. All three perfections are blended together in this mantra; so it is a very great, powerful mantra. So do kirtan every day.

It is said that Brahma told this mantra to Narada. It may be that Narayana, the original, must be thought of much more than the manifestations. You may say that. Brahma is the creative originality. You know Brahma, Vishnu, Siva; but Brahman is the Absolute, which is beyond all the three. Brahma, Vishnu, Siva are manifestations of another thing which is inclusive of all the three. The Supreme Absolute (Brahman) manifests itself as Creator, Preserver, Destroyer. When you think of the Absolute as the Creator, it is Brahma; as a Preserver, it is Vishnu; as a Dissolver of all things, it is Rudra or Siva, as the case may be. But Brahman is beyond all.

Q: Is time a movement of consciousness?

SWAMIJI: Yes. Correct.

Q: If so, why does time not move backwards?

SWAMIJI: The mind, which is basically our consciousness, is projected outwardly through the sense organs. We think only through the sense organs, we cannot think in any other way; and the force of the sense organs is always outward. They cannot think backward. It is not that you cannot go back; you can go. In certain states you can know the past also. But usually it cannot be done on account of the power of the sense organs which push the consciousness outward and, therefore, it looks as if only one direction is there and another is not there, though it has three directions: past, present and future. But mostly you can think only in one way because of the sense organs pushing the mind in one direction, like water gushing through a pipe. Only in one direction will it go.

Q: Is it possible for it to go back?

SWAMIJI: It can go back, if you control the senses.

You have heard a relativity physicist saying there was a person who came tomorrow and will go back yesterday. Now you will say that he has spoiled the whole time process, but it means that in a relativity cosmos, where everything is interdependent, there is no past, present and future. A person came tomorrow and he will return yesterday. It has no sense; but it has all sense when time is abolished.

Q: Where is the cosmos?

SWAMIJI: What you are seeing with your eyes is the entire cosmos. You are seeing one part of it. When it is very small, the whole thing can be seen. But it is so big, so you are seeing only a part of it, like [the story of] the blind men and an elephant. The elephant is so big, and they saw only one part — the leg, etc. So you are seeing only a part of it, and you are calling it something. You cannot see the whole cosmos with eyes that are so small and cannot see the entire thing. What you see with your eyes is the cosmos. You are seeing it only. You are walking on it.

Q: Are all mantras of equal value?

SWAMIJI: Yes, correct. All the names are finally names of God and, therefore, if you have faith that this name is really the name of God, it will take you to God.

Q: Is there any power in the mantra, or is it the concept of the mind that is the power?

SWAMIJI: A mantra has got its own power. Your conception also adds to it, but it has a power by itself. The very words of the mantra are arranged in such a way that they generate a kind of power when they are chanted. A chemical action takes place when the mantra is chanted. The words act and react to produce a force. That is why even by mantra chanting itself you can realise God, and you need not think of chakras. You can completely forget them. Mantras will do the work of other yogas as well. If you are convinced that this mantra is sufficient for you, you need not do any hatha yoga. That mantra will take care of you. It is enough. It is a complete yoga by itself.

Q: Is there a difference between the cosmos and within?

SWAMIJI: The within is included in the cosmos. The so-called within — within your person – is inside the cosmos. There is no within-without for that; it is including everything. The outside-inside are both included in the cosmos. So it has no inside and it has no outside. It is one total whole.

Q: What is the Mahakaran?

SWAMIJI: Mahakaran means the Supreme Cause — supreme cause of the universe, Mulaprakriti or God Himself.

Q: It is said that in meditation, concentration stops.

SWAMIJI: Concentration is the first stage; meditation is the next stage. When concentration deepens, when you go on concentrating on the same thing continuously and there is only one thought without break, that process of intensified, prolongated concentration is called meditation. When your meditating consciousness merges into the object, it is called samadhi.

Q: Does our life consist of different relationships of names and forms?

SWAMIJI: Correct.

Q: So relationships are not real, but nature is the real friend because nature constitutes the panchabhuta, and our body also constitutes the panchabhuta?

SWAMIJI: Actually, nature by itself has no name and form. Nature, you see; you are there as a person. If the body as a whole can be attributed with a consciousness of its own, it will not think that there are fingers, hands, legs and all that. It will only see that it is existing. Only you are giving names for your convenience – finger, hand, etc.). So likewise, nature itself may not be conscious of people, trees, leaves, etc. It only knows "I am". That is the difference. So name and form exist for us, but it does not exist for nature by itself.

Thank you very much. God bless you. Om Namo Narayanaya.