by Swami Krishnananda
Yoga philosophy, with its psychology, takes its stand on our common experience that we see something in front of us. All problems arise from this unavoidable phenomenon called perception of an object. Generally, we usually consider the object as totally different in its nature from our faculty of perception. In order that the existence of an object be known, there must be a knowing principle. If there is only the object, and there is nothing other than the object anywhere, there would be nobody to know that the object exists at all.
Materialist doctrines, behavioural psychologists, etc., which contend that matter alone is, commit a mistake by not bestowing sufficient thought on the problem of perception. The knowledge that there is an object in front of us does not arise from the object itself. It is not the object that knows itself as an object. Suffice it to say that matter cannot know itself, because matter is bereft of consciousness. The behaviourist supposition that consciousness is an exudation of material forces cannot stand scrutiny because if that were the case, matter would be the cause and consciousness would be its effect. Knowing well that the effect always comes from its cause, and it cannot contain anything which is not in the cause, it would follow that the consciousness which is supposed to be an exudation or a product of matter must be incipiently present in matter itself.
Where is matter actually situated? Everywhere. The whole world is material substance. Whatever is visible, tangible, observable, is material. That is to say, there is an omnipresent character of matter. There is no place where matter is not. Now, carrying on the argument that consciousness is supposed to be a product of matter—should be inherent in matter—the conclusion would be that consciousness is wherever matter is. If matter is ubiquitous and there is no segregation of the parts of matter, that which is hiddenly present in matter cannot but be ubiquitous. Matter is everywhere, and the result is that consciousness must also be everywhere. Since two everywheres is not conceivable because two infinities will overlap each other, and such a thing is inconceivable and not possible, this assumption also falls flat. It is not true that there are two infinities—consciousness on the one side and matter on the other side—because the very assumption is logically untenable.
Can we say that matter, which is the cause of the supposed emanation of consciousness, is all-in-all, and the perception of an object, which is material, is a self-knowledge of matter itself? Does matter know itself in the form of consciousness when there is perception or knowledge of an object? Strange would be this conclusion that matter has to know itself by means of that which is supposed to be its product. Nothing can be more absurd than this proposition.
We also cannot avoid the well-known circumstance that minus knowing, there is no meaning in the knowable or the object. Nobody can say that anything exists—matter, or whatever it is—unless there is somebody who knows that it is so. This knower cannot be identified with that which is known. If we attempt to identify the knower with the known object, either the knower would become an object or the object would become the knower. Either way, there would be a very fantastic conclusion, beyond what we actually expected at the beginning of our inquiry. Yoga takes its stand on this great problem before us—the perceptional problem. The insistence of the sense organs and the mind—which always works in terms of the sense organs—that everything is outside has created the difficulty, which usually looks insurmountable.
The psychology behind the process of perception assumes that a mental psychosis or operation, called a vritti in Sanskrit, envelopes the form which is called the object, and the mental crucible into which the form is cast assumes the form of that thing which is called the object. The form gets impressed upon the crucible of the mind-stuff, and thereby a foundation is laid for the knowledge of there being such a thing called object.
But crucibles are not conscious of themselves. The form cannot be said to be a conscious substance. This form that is impressed upon the crucible of the mind-stuff should be illuminated by a consciousness which knows "I know an object". Not only should there be a semblance between the form of the mind and the form of the object, but in addition to it there should also be a consciousness that this form is known.
As Sanskrit words may confuse you, I do not propose to use Sanskrit technological terms. However, for your information, the mode of enveloping the mental operation in respect of the form of the object is known as vritti vyapti, the psychosis modification in terms of an object. But mere modification cannot become self-conscious, so there must be an attending positive activity taking place together with the form that has been impressed upon the mind. That is consciousness. So consciousness becomes aware of an object, which is nothing but a form.
Here the whole process becomes a mistaken one. It was already assumed in our earlier analysis that consciousness cannot be in one place and an object also cannot be in one place. Since matter is everywhere, objectivity is also everywhere. Everywhere is the perceiving consciousness, and everywhere is the perceived material which is the basis of the objectivity of anything. But the sense organs deny this fact by saying that the object is only in one place. We cannot see an object everywhere; it is only in one place, and it has only one form. This insistence of the mode of sensory operations that the object is only in one place, and it has only one form, is a total contradiction of the fact as such—namely, the form cannot be in one place since the basis, or the very base of the form, is matter which is everywhere, and the consciousness that knows it is not attached only to the one single form.
Here is the necessity for the practice of self-restraint, mental control. The entire activity of the mind is erroneous. All that the sense organs tell us is a blunder. This is the reason why we are perpetually anxious, as if the very ground under our feet is being cut off, though an illusionary satisfaction is presented before the sensory consciousness, making it appear that there is a real contact of the object with consciousness. Though what we want is contact, this is a prejudice of consciousness. Two dissimilar things cannot come into contact with each other, and similar things also do not come into contact with each other. Similar things converge and become one, as the waters of two tanks on an equal level flow into each other. If the two are totally dissimilar, there is no question of them coming in contact with each other. Either way, we are in a very bad position. We are not actually seeing the form in one place, though the limitations of sensory activity tell us that it is so. The senses are not all-pervading; they have some limited apertures through which consciousness moves outside in a fivefold form—seeing, hearing, etc. Hence, common perception contradicts the facts as such.
The purpose of yoga practice is, therefore, to enable the mind to stand abreast of the true nature of things and restrain the senses from the irregular activity of externalising a thing which is really not external. That which is all-pervading—matter or consciousness, whatever it is—cannot be perceived as something outside. Hence, all perception is contrary to the true nature of things because things are not outside the process of knowledge. This difficulty is to be overcome by regular practice of a process called restraint of the movement of consciousness in terms of a so-called outward object.
We think we are happy by looking at an object, but it is not so. This so-called happiness which apparently arises when the assumed consciousness comes in contact with an object is a tremendous illusion presented before the whole process in this manner which I am describing to you. Consciousness is agitated always, because while it is truly universal, it looks as if it is limited within the body. It is like a prisoner in a jail, and it resents its location within the ramparts of the jail. It wants to break the walls of the prison and go outside. It is trying to do this adventure by moving out of itself into a world of space and time, which is considered to be totally outside, and by a psychosis, a modification of the mind, it touches the form which it has assumed to be totally outside it.
When that limited consciousness which is within us eagerly awaits a means of expanding its limited location within the body, it creates an illusion before itself. When a so-called object is sensorially observed through the internal consciousness, the limited consciousness rises up in joy at the possibility of coming in contact with that object, by which means it can expand its dimension beyond the limitations of bodily encumbrance. When the object comes near, it has greater satisfaction because it feels that now its joy is not very far off. When it comes in contact, as it were, it rises into a mad ecstasy of imagining that its widened dimension has already been achieved by the introduction of the form consciousness—the introduction of the form of the object into its own self. We have already seen that this introduction is not possible; the object cannot touch the consciousness. Therefore, the so-called happiness of the imagined contact of consciousness with the object is totally unconvincing and absurd, and we may say that all joys of the world are the result of a tremendous illusion that is cast before the sense organs.
Great saints have said that the world is like a madhouse where there is a crazy continuous effort of the individual to break its boundaries by the erroneous effort of contacting something else by which means it imagines that it can expand its boundaries. Contact is not the way that the dimension of consciousness can expand, because contact of two things is not possible; they always remain apart. Since all the efforts of life in imagining that some joy will come from earthly existence become futile and will go to dust one day or the other, all happiness in this world eventually becomes the dust of the earth. As we do not want to die in that miserable condition we are trying to see that our mind is set in tune with the facts of nature, which is possible only if the senses do not insist on externalising the object, making the mind believe that the world is outside.
The world is not outside. What you want is not external in space and time. What you want, the so-called thing or object, is everywhere. Anything that you want is everywhere. All things are everywhere, and they are at all times. That which is everywhere is also at all times and, therefore, you can realise your aspiration to fulfil the longing for all-pervasiveness at any time, and at any place. There is no space, time, and condition that limits this process. Here we are actually at the gates of spiritual practice.
To give an analogy of what is happening to us in this regard, look at the dream process. Don't you see an object in front of you? You are a dreamer. Your dream consciousness sees people outside, things externally, the whole world of space and time. You would like to come in contact with them. Now, who comes in contact with whom in the dream world? The whole structure of dream objectivity is a manifestation of the mind which was earlier in the waking condition, as we call it. The whole externality is within the internality of the waking consciousness. You need not use the word 'internality', because that creates a difference between the internal and the external, so you may say the universality of your mind. The mind that is working in a waking condition is a comprehensive mode of operation. It is called a gestalt, a total. The mind is not made up of little pieces. The total waking mind manifests a total world—only externalised. The total world which is contained within the total mind of wakening consciousness wrongly becomes an externalised total, and meanders here and there in that world which it has erroneously manufactured.
Just as we can pursue objects in dreams—enjoy them, detest them, want them, do not want them, and die for them—a similar thing takes place in the waking condition. There is a mind larger than our own mind; we usually call it the cosmic mind. We may compare this cosmic mind to our waking mind in the process of dream perception. All that happens in this world is actually a cosmic dream, and whatever we experience in this world, in any manner whatsoever, is exactly comparable to the process of perception in the individual's dream perception. The difference is that one is cosmic and the other is individual, but the process of perception is the same. In order that we may not be entangled in this wrong perception of externality in our daily life, we must enter into the bosom of the cosmic mind. Just as the waking mind pervades everything in the dream world, the cosmic mind pervades everything in our waking life. So who is seeing the world? The answer comes from the dream perception itself. Who is seeing the dream world? The comprehensive waking consciousness erroneously projects itself as an external world, and sees itself as an outward total.