by Swami Krishnananda
Whatever is necessary for your welfare has been explained, right from the very foundation to the pinnacle of this new knowledge that you have gained through a different curriculum of education which involves the whole personality—entirely, integrally—and it is not just training a particular faculty. A human being cannot be confined to one faculty. It is a total operation of understanding, feeling and willing, and the three aspects have to be put together simultaneously—not only hand in hand, but as three components of one single aspiration.
Every aspiration, every longing is a comprehensive movement of the person's whole individual personality, and not some part of you moving in one direction. Mostly we are divided personalities. Very few people are inwardly aligned properly. You are intellectually convinced about something, but your feeling is somewhere else and it has no connection with your conviction. People have political associations, social commitments, and family problems. There seems to be a huge mass of problems, each different from and unconnected to one another.
People generally say they have problems from every side, but actually the problem does not come from all sides. It comes from one side only, which is the entire environment of your personality. Whether it is a political operation, a social involvement connected with family, or anything related to your individuality, they are not different types of obligations and commitments. It is a whole structure of your being acting and reacting upon your entire surrounding—whether naturally, or socially, politically, economically, or in any way.
This kind of envisagement of the values of life is a total impossibility to an ordinary individual. Such kind of requirement is never taught anywhere, and nobody will talk to you on this subject because everybody everywhere is made of the same stuff of inward chaotic difficulty, and very little time has been bestowed to gather up the harvest of experience into a central focus of the one that you are, moving in the direction of the one that really is.
Philosophers call this achievement as the flight of the alone to the Alone. The aloneness of your personal individual associations gathers itself up in the direction of the attainment of Supreme Aloneness, which is designated as God Almighty, or the Absolute, or Brahman.
Repeating once again what I have mentioned over and over, every effort, every thought is a total operation. It is not a fraction. Your involvement in anything is total involvement. It is not that part of you is involved in something and part of you is free. No. You are involved in something, and the whole of you is caught in it because you cannot segment your personality into parts.
In the light of this awakening, your duty seems to be to encounter the whole cosmos as your origin, your sustenance, and your goal. In a way, you have emanated from the total structure of the entire universe, and therefore a whole universe is in every individual microcosmically, even to the minute atom. The little universe that is the individual is the representative of the Absolute individual which is the whole universe.
It is the whole that is aspiring for the whole. This in modern times is called a holistic approach, not fragmentary. If anyone asks you what your duty is, you have a fragmentary answer. You say, "I have a duty to my parents, my brothers and sisters, my office, my social relations, my community, my country." And if you are more charitable in your nature, you will say, "I am committed to the whole of humanity." This is insufficient.
You are committed to something more than what appears to you on the surface of the Earth, because the surface of the Earth and all that it contains is a partial manifestation of the operational process of the entire nature, which has no country, which has no ethnic differences, which knows no boundaries. It does not know language, one differing from the other. All this that we consider as great values in life does not exist for nature, and therefore it may also not exist for God.
Yoga practice is to collect ourselves into the acceptance of this great vision of life. Yoga is not pranayama, it is not sitting in one posture, and it is not going inwardly in contemplation of self-analysis. It is nothing of the kind. Yoga is the acceptance of your commitment to the entire creation before you.
You are obliged to anything and everything in the world. In the ancient traditional system, the duties of a man are divided into five obligations, known in Sanskrit as the Pancha Mahayajnas, because the performance of a duty is the performance of a sacrifice. The culture of India is centred in the notion of sacrifice. This word 'sacrifice' has many meanings. It may mean performing a havan and offering oblations in the holy fire, or it may also mean eliminating a part of your happiness for the sake of others, by charitable activities. When you offer something which not merely belongs to you but is a vital part of your being, you have done a great sacrifice. The whole of life is a sacrifice of the lower reality to the higher reality, individual reality to universal reality, the lesser whole to the larger whole.
This obligation in the form of the Pancha Mahayajnas, the fivefold sacrifice, is very distinctly described as your duty to the gods in heaven—which means to say, the divinities operating behind your sense organs. You say you have to protect your ears, your eyes, your limbs, your organs; but no one has any control over their organs, really speaking. You cannot control even the winking of your eyes by your own effort. It is laid down that it should be like that. The forces that are transcendent to the operation of the physical limbs of the body and act invisibly are Devatas—gods or divinities—and without their action and collaboration you will never be able to combine the perception of the eyes, the hearing of the ears, the smelling of the nose, the feeling of the skin, and the tasting of the tongue into a single knowledge. They are all independent actions. What the eye does the tongue cannot do, etc. But when all of them act, you know that you are experiencing the whole. This wholeness of experience that is possible to you, in spite of the variety in the organic sensory operation, is due to the divinity operating behind it. These are the gods, so-called. You have to offer your submission to these gods, and ask for their blessing.
The Bhagavadgita says in its third chapter: sahayajnah prajah sristva purovacha prajapatih, anena prasavisyadhvam esa vo'stvista kamadhuk (Gita 3.10). You are born with the obligation for sacrifice. The Creator ordained that every individual that is created is born inseparably from his obligation for sacrifice. That is to say, every individual has an obligation to transcend his individuality. The process of sacrifice is a process of self-transcendence. When you bow before your deity, you are not just thinking of something that is standing in front of you; you are surrendering your lower consciousness to an operative consciousness which surrounds you and transcends you. Therefore, the Deva Yajna, as it is called—the yajna's sacrifice due from you to the divinity superintending over every operation of your sense organs—is essential.
Then you have a duty to your forefathers who have begotten you and made you what you are. Your genes, your DNA, have a vital connection with your ancestors. It is said that sixteen generations of influence act upon a particular individual. When the shraddha ceremony is performed, the spirits of seven generations of forefathers are invited. Their blessing, their very existence, is invisibly operating through the cells in the bloodstream and the very thought, so to say, of the particular individuals.
You are obliged to the source from where you have come, and you should be grateful to that person who has made you what you are. You are obliged to even your teachers and professors who have educated you, as you would not be thinking in this way without the help of these people. You have an obligation to human beings, because they are human beings like yourself. Entertaining a guest, and lovingly offering your greetings to those who come to you for help, whether by way of food or any other way, is also an obligation. Those who come to you for help, who need your compassion and goodwill, are veritable gods, says this tradition. Uninvited people do not come accidently. It is a compulsive operation taking place somewhere else which pushes this individual in the direction of some other person who is able to assist him.
There is compassion to human beings, and compassion to animals. We may think that animals are idiots, and thus we are not concerned with their welfare. When we think of the welfare of the world, we do not think it includes the welfare of animals. They do not exist at all for us. The vibrations around animals have an impact upon everybody's existence. It is said the vibration of a cow is highly salubrious, and the smell that emanates from its body is supposed to be very purifying. That is why India considers the cow as a divinity and will not kill it, much less eat it.
Likewise, there are vital associations of every animal with the whole atmosphere, to which reference is made by Bhagavan Sri Krishna in the tenth chapter of Bhagavadgita. "I am the lion among animals. I am the crocodile among watery animals. I am the sacred peepal among all trees. I am the Ganga among all rivers. I am the Himalayas among mountains. I am Omkara among the Vedas. I am Indra among the gods. I am Bhrihaspati among the wise ones. I am even the force that directs a person to commit the mistake of playing dice."
Playing dice is not a good thing, but the idea of doing it cannot arise without something operating behind you because a dead mind cannot think of it—though this operative force is not responsible for your action. If someone commits burglary with the help of the light of the full moon, and without that light he could not have done it, you may say the full moon is responsible for the burglary. This is not so. The moonlight is a universal impersonal performance, and any action that is performed with the assistance of this light cannot be imputed to it.
Likewise, you should not condemn animals, even an ant. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad a touching message is given on this matter. Do not disturb an ant. It is not an insignificant creature; it is a whole being, and it requires as much assistance and compassion as an elephant. The hunger of an ant is not less than the hunger of an elephant, because hunger is an impulse that is commonly present everywhere. Therefore, you should calmly, cooperatively, compassionately, interfere not with the movements of these animals. People kill snakes. This should not be done. Snakes are not there to kill you; they have no such intention. You frighten them, and they react.
If you look compassionately upon other species, even ants, you should not say that you are wasting your time in activities of no consequence. Wonderful is the Upanishad that says these little ants and the birds, in their originality in the higher regions, will receive you with great love and affection. When the soul of an ant is operating above, it may give you the strength of an elephant, which you cannot understand. Nobody is an ant always. As I mentioned earlier, different things are of different statures in different space-time orders. Though in one space-time order it is an ant, it may not be like that everywhere.
Therefore, there should be compassionate treatment of animals, human beings, guests, teachers who give you knowledge, and the gods in heaven. This is the concept of sacrifice in India. It covers everything that is required of you.
What is the implication of all this teaching? It is a development of a universal view, which alone can be regarded as the means to your self-transcendence in the highest comprehensiveness of God-Being. You know Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. You know Narada's Bhakti Sutras. You know the thoughts of great Western thinkers. You know the message of Swami Sivananda. You know so many things, the knowledge of which has been imparted to you by different teachers of this Academy. All these should be brought together into a single attention and a collective knowledge which must help you.
In summing up, what you have gathered here is a new knowledge of the art of developing a comprehensive view of life, which is sometimes considered as the obligation of a judge in a court. The judge does not belong to any party. He is not interested in favouring this party or that party. He extracts the cream and the essence of the whole situation, and it is a wholesome judgment that the chief of dispensing law exercises.
Likewise is this approach, this inclusive view of life. Whenever you think something, remember that there is a counterpart to it. Unless there is another thing which has incidentally been excluded from your thinking, there would not be a possibility of thinking it. There is no such thing as one thing. The one thing is an abstraction from a wholesome involvement, of which the person concerned is totally unaware. Wholeness does not mean only one particular kind of wholeness. It is a mental wholeness, a gestalt, as they call it—a total action of mind, vital energy, emotion, understanding, and will. When you leave, you carry yourself in an enhanced manner, achieving a larger dimension of your own self, and you go home as a different person altogether. Your face is brighter.
The Upanishads mention a student who studied for years under a Guru, and wanted initiation. For some reason or other, the Guru never initiated, never cared for this student. He only told him, "Take these cattle to the forest, and don't return until the number of cattle multiplies." Caring the cows until they multiply takes years. The disciplined student accepted this instruction, and went to the forest. Poor person that he was, he tended the cattle. When years passed and the number of cattle increased from a few to four hundred, he thought the time had come for his initiation. The student said, "Guruji, I have done my duty. Would you kindly initiate me?" The Guruji said nothing, and went on a pilgrimage. The patni, consort of the Guru, was also surprised that the Guru was so careless.
Again the student took the cattle to the forest. The gods knew how this boy was suffering. The divinities in heaven appeared before him in the form of a bull, a burning fire, a flying bird and a swan. "Jabala," they cried, "I shall tell you one fourth of the truth." They described an aspect of the Supreme Being in their own illustrative style. It was the divine power that was working through these animals. Each divinity told him one fourth of the Supreme Reality.
When this knowledge was received, his face started shining with illumination. He returned home, and again asked his Guru, "Please initiate me."
The Guru asked, "Jabala, why is your face shining today? Who taught you?"
Jabala replied, "Guruji, it was someone who is not a human being."
Through intuition, the Guruji knew what had happened. "What you have learned through these divinities is enough for you, and you can go now. I relieve you from every obligation to me. There is no need for me to initiate you again."
After hearing all this, your face will become brilliant by the joy that is in your mind. Your face shines due to happiness. If you have a delicious lunch, your cheeks swell a little due to so much happiness. That is an illustration of satisfaction. There are also other kinds of satisfaction in the world that can make you filled with happiness in a complete manner, and you feel that you are elevated to the heavens. Therefore, what makes you happy also makes your face shine; and what can be a greater joy than knowledge? Knowledge is virtue, knowledge is power, knowledge is happiness.
Thus, go as the disciple mentioned in the story of the Upanishad. Remember that the whole of your life is an aspiration for the Ultimate Being. You are not going to your home; you are going to another part of the universe itself. Do not say you are going to your house. Where is your house? It is inside the universe only. From one atmosphere you are going to another atmosphere, to live a whole life wherever you are, because wherever you are the whole universe will pursue you.
Just as you cannot run away from the sun and the moon, and they are always there wherever you go, so this great requirement on your part in terms of the universal operations will pursue you wherever you go, and keep you restless and unhappy until you attend to the call of the Great Totality.
I conclude what I have to say. All shall be well. God bless you.
PRACTICAL HINTS ON SADHANA
1. First of all, there should be a clear conception of the Aim of one's life.
2. The Aim should be such that it should not be subject to subsequent change of opinion or transcendence by some other thought, feeling or experience. It means, the Aim should be ultimate, and there should be nothing beyond that.
3. It will be clear that, since the ultimate Aim is single, and set clearly before one's mind, everything else in the world becomes an instrument, an auxiliary or an accessory to the fulfilment of this Aim.
4. It is possible to make the mistake that only certain things in the world are aids in the realisation of one's Aim of life, and that others are obstacles. But this is not true, because everything in the world is interconnected and it is not possible to divide the necessary from the unnecessary, the good from the bad, etc., except in a purely relative sense. The so-called unnecessary items or the useless ones are those whose subtle connection with our central purpose in life is not clear to our minds. This happens when our minds are carried away by sudden emotions or spurts of enthusiasm.
5. All this would mean that it is not advisable or practicable to ignore any aspect of life totally, as if it is completely irrelevant to the purpose of one's life. But here begins the difficulty in the practice of sadhana, because it is not humanly possible to consider every aspect of a situation when one tries to understand it.
6. The solution is the training which one has to receive under a competent Teacher, who alone can suggest methods of entertaining such a comprehensive vision of things, which is the precondition of a true spiritual life, or a life of higher meditation.
7. There are economic and material needs as well as vital longings of the human nature which have to be paid their due, at the proper time and in the proper proportions, not with the intention of acquiring comfort and satisfaction to one's self, but with a view to the sublimation of all personal desires or urges, whether physical, vital or psychological. An utter ignorance of this fact may prove to be a sort of hindrance to one's further practice on the path of sadhana.
8. It is, of course, necessary that one should live a life of reasonable seclusion under the guidance of a master until such time when one can stand on one's own legs and think independently, without help from anyone.
9. But, one should, now and then, test one's ability to counteract one's reactions to the atmosphere even when one is in the midst of intractable and irreconcilable surroundings. Seclusion should not mean a kind of self-hypnotism or hibernation and an incapacity to face the atmosphere around.
10. It should also not mean that one should be incapable of living in seclusion alone to oneself, when the occasion for it comes. In short, the ideal should be achievement of an equanimous attitude to circumstances, whether one is alone to oneself or one is in the midst of an irreconcilable social atmosphere.
11. While in seclusion, the mind should not be allowed to go back to the circumstances of one's family life, official career or to problems which are likely to disturb the concentration of the mind on God, because the pressure of these earlier experiences may sometimes prove itself to be greater in intensity than one's love of God.
12. It is impossible to concentrate on God unless one has a firm conviction and faith that whatever one expects in this world can also be had from God; nay, much more than all these things which the world has as its treasures and values.
13. It is difficult to have the vision of one's Aim of Life when the mind goes out of meditation to whatever it longs for in the world. Hence, a deep study of the Upanishads and the Bhagavadgita, the Srimad-Bhagavata and such other scriptures is necessary to drive into the mind the conviction about the Supremacy of God.
14. Study or svadhyaya, japa of mantras and meditation are the three main aspects of spiritual practice.
15. Svadhyaya does not mean study of any book that one may find anywhere at any time. It means a continued and regular study, daily, of selected holy texts, or even a single text, from among those that have been suggested above. A study in this manner, done at a fixed time, every day, for a fixed duration, will bring the expected result.
16. The japa of the mantra should, in the beginning, be done with a little sound in the mouth so that the mind may not go here and there towards different things. The loud chant of the mantra will bring the mind back to the point of concentration. Later on, the japa can be only with movement of lips, but without making any sound. In the end, the japa can be only mental, provided that the mind does not wander during the mental japa.
17. A convenient duration, say, half an hour or one hour, should be set up at different times, so that the daily sadhana should be at least for three hours a day. It can be increased according to one's capacity, as days pass.
18. During japa, the mind should think of the meaning of the mantra, the surrender of oneself to the Deity of the mantra, and finally, the communion of oneself with that Great Deity. Effort should be put forth to entertain this deep feeling during japa, every day.
19. Meditation can be either combined with japa, or it can be independent of japa. Meditation with japa means the mental repetition of the mantra and, also, at the same time, meditating deeply on the meaning of the mantra, as mentioned above.
20. Meditation without japa is a higher stage where the mind gets so much absorbed in the thought of God, surrender to God and union with God, that in this meditation japa automatically stops. This is the highest state of meditation.
21. Throughout one's sadhana, it is necessary to feel the oneness of oneself and the universe with God.