by Swami Krishnananda
By now you would have gathered that yoga is basically a perceptional change, and not merely an act of doing something with your body. You may do anything, stand on your head for hours, but the perception of things has not changed. The erroneous perception will condition even the practice of your asanas, pranayama, etc., because the whole problem is perception, and not something that is being done. People say, "I will do yoga." What kind of yoga are they doing? The same persons that they were years back, they are today also. The same operational method of perceiving things continues, and no attempt is made to change the way of perceiving things. This basic requirement is forgotten. It is not known that every step in yoga is a corresponding change in one's own perceptional procedure. If you have not changed even one whit and you are still the same person, all your doings are outside you, unconnected with you.
For instance, whatever I have told you earlier would have given you the confirmation that things are not just standing in front of you. No thing is just in front of you, sitting here, as the eyes report to you. But we always look outward. The basic relationship of things in general will require you to know that the very thing that you are seeing in front of you is also behind you, in another form altogether. As things are not in one place, they are not just in front of you. Not only are they also behind you, they are to your right, to your left, above and below. Things are everywhere. Now, how would you look at a thing, if this is the case? A practice, a kind of exercise is to be undertaken in order to change the perception of things.
Never look at an object as you generally look at it, because it is not in front of you. The pervasiveness of the location of every object necessitates the acceptance of its presence everywhere. So you are actually looking, so-called, at an object which is pervading you from all sides. A good manager or executive considers every aspect of an issue before taking a step. He looks ahead, looks behind, looks to the right and to the left, and to the top and bottom. Every side of an issue is taken into consideration. This is not only in business management, but even in legal arguments in court. You cannot give stereotyped arguments and not take into consideration the consequences and repercussions of the statement that you are making in regard to the implications of the case. So is the case of a general in an army. He does not just go ahead foolishly. He takes into consideration all aspects of the situation before acting.
In a way, yoga is a kind of military operation. As cautious as a general is in the field, so is the yoga student. A general of an army is facing a widespread situation that is everywhere around him; and in yoga we are also facing a widespread situation. Our problems are not sitting in one place, they are everywhere. They arise from top to bottom, right to left—from everywhere. Anything is everywhere, not just in one place.
Therefore, before starting actual meditational practice, the yoga student should clarify the intention. You must know very well that yoga is not a change in the way of doing things, but a change in the way of your being itself, because all doing proceeds from being. Whatever you are, that comes out of you. The doing cannot be great if you yourself are not a great person. A puny, stupid individual cannot perform great things, because the thing that is done is an emanation of one's own self. A finite individual cannot produce an infinite result. It is necessary to know there is a parallel action taking place between oneself and everything that one thinks or sees. Action is not taking place outside; it is taking place everywhere, wherever you start doing something, so the reaction also will come from every side.
The reason is, we are personally involved in the very process of acting; and the end result, as well as the process of acting, are directly connected with ourselves. The whole thing is moving in action, including our own selves; but we think that we are apart from the action, and something is being done outside with our hands. The idea that an action is outside is wrong. It is everywhere. The outside thing cannot produce any result.
Whatever you have learned up to this time is a great fundamental scientific solution to the perceptional process that I have presented before you, and is a very important thing to remember. It is a change in the way of seeing things, primarily in how you see and evaluate a thing. You can initially sit for meditation without going very deep into this technique. This is an exercise. Just cast your eyes around you, and think, "What am I seeing? I am seeing something, a vast phenomenon of nature in front of me. What is there behind me? The same nature that is in front of me is behind me. What is there to the right? The same nature. What is there to the left? The same nature. What is there above me? The same thing. What is below me? The same thing. What is there, finally?" The thing that you are seeing is not in one place.
Can you adjust your mind to the acceptance of this position that when you behold a thing, you are beholding that which is in all places? This means your dealing with a thing is actually a dealing with that which is surrounding you from all sides. A thing is an atmosphere, rather than an individual substance. This requires tremendous power of will because for years and years you have been thinking in one way, that you are the son or daughter of some parents, you live in a city or a village, you have these relations, you have this and that. This is not the way of looking in yoga, because there is an issue of pervasiveness involved in the yoga exercise. Even if it is a simple exercise like yoga asana, it is not an activity of one individual body taking place. It is a pervasive relationship that the body has with the atmosphere in which it is involved and the substance out of which it is made.
You do yoga asana, bend the body in different ways, but you have also to bend the relationship of this body with the nature of which the body is made. The whole of nature is doing yoga asana. If nature is opposed to you, and you cannot accommodate yourself with what is happening outside, then the exercise remains an isolated effort, not bringing any particular result. When you sit for meditation, remember that the whole of nature is sitting here. This is a fact. You are physically connected to everything in the universe, all nature. The entire nature is sitting here, erect, straight, poised, adjusted, and complete on all sides.
In the Upanishad it is said that even Earth is meditating, as it were. All nature is meditating, maintaining a balance. Anything that is maintaining a balance is actually doing yoga. When you sit for meditation, look around. Cast your eyes in all ten directions, and think, "What am I seeing? I am seeing my own father and mother who have produced me, and the great nature which is not only around me but in me—and it is me, actually speaking. The distractions of the mind will slowly cease because of there being no necessity to think anything extraneous. That the world is outside, things are in one position, anything is somewhere and not in other places, is an old, prejudiced habit of thinking. Yoga thinking is not the same as ordinary human thinking. It is an internal modification of the very structural pattern of the operation of the mind. The whole thing rises into the occasion of an inner, complete transformation.
When you see a thing, you are seeing everything. Immediately the mind will come to a halt. "Am I seeing something? No, I am seeing everything, because this thing that I am seeing in front of me is everything. So what I am seeing in front of me? I am seeing everything. Where is that everything? It is in all directions." When you think of the mind adjusting itself to all directions equally in a balanced condition, you immediately attain stability in asana. You will not have jerking movements, pain and other difficulties. Your maladjustment with things outside causes the discomfort in your mind and body even when you are seated in meditation. Yoga is a balance in body, in social relations, in thinking, in emotion, in understanding, and in your very being itself.
But when you actually start this exercise, you will find that you are tired. An unwilling horse is easily tired, and it will never pull the carriage. It will simply stand. The mind that is unwilling is not going to be accessible to your instruction for meditation. The mind cannot be made to undergo any exercise if it is unwilling to do it. The unwillingness arises in the mind on account of its feeling that you are interfering with its old habits, which it feels are correct habits. "My old habits of thinking and doing are correct, and I am confirming that they are okay. But you are saying something quite different. I am not willing to yield like that." Here it is not enough if you merely have understanding; the strength of will is necessary. You may even have to speak loudly to yourself. "What am I seeing? I am seeing that which is around me in all directions." Your attitude towards any particular thing should be virtually an attitude towards everything. This is a preliminary exercise to which you can resort.
To assist you in this exercise of perceptional inclusiveness, you can chant the mantra Om continuously for fifteen minutes. All sessions of meditation are beneficiated by chanting Om at the commencement. The chanting of Om is not a sound that is produced in your mouth; it is a total vibration arising in a harmonious manner from the whole of your personality. When you know how to chant it, a beautiful intonation goes with it. This vibration that is produced by the recitation of Om is not inside your mind or inside your body, it is everywhere. Just as the ripples of water in a lake move in all directions, the ripples of this wave of chanting Om will be felt as pervading the entire outside surroundings also, together with the feeling that you are getting adjusted to this vibration.
After fifteen minutes of this exercise, try the other exercise of seeing and thinking at the same time that thing which is not only in one place. First of all, with open eyes you can think, "The thing that I am seeing is also behind me, and everywhere." Then close your eyes, and feel this situation in your mind. You will find that those things are with you. Can you understand the result of this feeling that the things are with you? It is so because of the fact that you yourself are a thing like any other thing. You are not a subjective operational centre segregated from other things which you regard as objects, because the standpoint of a so-called object permits the same attitudes towards you. It recognises you as an object.
The so-called subject and object are a misnomer, really speaking. Such words should not be used because, as I mentioned yesterday, the things which are this side and that side, which are called subject and object, are on an equal footing. Hence, you are not looking at an object, but looking at a situation that includes yourself as well as the object. The one who has this awareness of a different situation altogether is neither located on this side as a subject nor is operating outside as an object. It is an inclusiveness.
Every act of perception is an inclusiveness in the operation of the mind. Unless a blend of awareness is brought about between that which is seen and that which sees, perception will not take place. If there is a complete disparity between yourself and the situation that is outside you, you cannot behold anything, appreciate anything, or benefit from anything. Every meaningful perception is an operation of equality of status between the seer and the seen. You are not superior to the things that you see. They are as important as those who see them because everything can see just as you do.
In this manner, adjust yourself to an equanimity of position in your asana as well as your thought and feeling. And also have a surety in your mind that since these exercises are going to touch the very reality of things, you are going to benefit from them immensely. In yoga, every step in the right direction is a great achievement which cannot be destroyed. The Bhagavadgita says that even a modicum of your movement in the right direction is a great credit that you are adding to yourself, and this credit is never destroyed.
Hurry, haste, quickness should be avoided in meditation. "Let me do some meditation quickly, and go." This idea should not be there. You should think, "I am not seeing a person or a thing. I am seeing the whole of nature, which has manufactured this presence and things. I am seeing the mother of all things, the parent of everything." Some kind of psychological discipline is necessary for every person. Usually we do anything at any time. We eat any time, sleep any time, and no systematic arrangement of a daily program is maintained. We must have some kind of plan within ourselves, in a general and also in a specific manner, as to what work is to be done on a particular day.
Usually people do the same thing every day, with minor differences. It should not be a burden on the mind to go on thinking of what is to be done. It is a routine habit that is taking place. The work that you do should become spontaneous rather than a pressure that is exerted from outside. The need for work does not arise from outside, it arises from a total situation. Nobody is compelling you to work. The whole situation around you is compelling you to do something, which is nothing but an adjustment of yourself in a particular manner, either by doing something or by thinking something. This is a psychophysical adjustment that is called for. Yoga is psychophysical adjustment.
That the things that we need in this world are included in that which we are aspiring for is also a conviction that has to be driven into our minds. "The thing I want in this world is not removed from my realm of aspiration." We do not lose the world when we go to God. We lose nothing, actually. That which is our so-called external need or requirement is included in that which is totally pervasive. Both the external thing and the internal thing are included in the total. So when you seek the total, it is futile to go on thinking of another thing which is outside. That which is the total operational conviction in the mind includes that which you are considering as that which is internal or external. The thing that you need is neither inside nor outside. To repeat, it is everywhere. Therefore, you are told to restrain the greed of grabbing things and running after that which the senses want. But there is no need to restrain anything. You are not putting pressure on the sense organs to not do what they want, you are only enlightening them that what they see is not only in that place in which they are looking; it is in a larger situation. When even the seeing of a thing is included in the larger situation in which you are also included, the obtaining of it, for the matter of that, is also a total situation. Whole thing is a total. No particularity is allowed here.