by Swami Krishnananda
Today is the full moon – Purnima, Purna – and there is a famous declaration in the Upanishads on this Purna: purnam adah, purnam idam purnat purnam udachyate; purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate (Brihad. 5.1.1). This passage occurs in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. We recite it, chant it every day, but mostly we do not think about what it means when we chant it; it goes as a routine. Purna is fullness. Yesterday we referred to Bhuma, the plenum of felicity, the fullness of being. That Bhuma is also Purna. The Upanishad says, "Purnam adah: that origin of all things is full; purnam idam: this entire creation that has come from that origin of all things is also full; purnat purnam udachyate: from that Full this Full has come; purnasya purnam adaya: having taken away this Full from that Full; purnam evavasisyate: the Full still remains unaffected."
If we take something from something, the source is supposed to be diminished in its content to the extent of that which has been taken away from it. This is common arithmetic. If we take something from something, the quantum of content in the original reservoir is lessened. If the world has come from God, some part of God must have gone to constitute this world and, to that extent, God must be less. Is it so? The Upanishad says it is not so. If we take away infinite from infinite, the Infinite is not reduced in any way, because one cannot take away anything from the Infinite. Therefore, if this so-called infinite of creation is taken to have emanated from that supreme Fullness of Infinity, it need not follow that there is some diminution of content in the original Fullness. After the emanation of this full universe from the full Origin, the Fullness still continues to be as it was, undiminished.
This is beyond our calculative method. We have never heard such a thing happening anywhere – that we carry away something and yet the source of that thing is as it is, without getting diminished. The reason is the character of Infinity itself. Things in the world do not participate in Infinity. They are all finite things. There is a location and a limited quantum for everything that is finite. Everything in the world is of this nature. Your existence, the existence of anything in this world, is bound or limited to the locality of the finite being – of yourself or anything. So if some part of this finite is taken away, naturally the ordinary human arithmetic applies to it. If a limb of the body is taken away, to that extent the body has lost a part of itself. But you cannot take away a part of the soul. Here is the difference. You may take a part of your body, but a part of the soul cannot be removed, because the soul is not a substance. Therefore, it is not a finite thing. Therefore, it is not in any particular place. Therefore, something cannot be taken away from it.
As we have our own soul, God is the Soul of the universe. This Soul is unlimited in its nature, a fact that I have been trying to drive into your ears again and again during our studies these days. The infinite character of God Almighty explains the reason why anything emanating from this infinite God cannot affect the infinite God. In fact, you cannot take away anything at all from the Infinite.
The idea of something coming from something else is ridden over in the operation of the causal law – the effect coming from the cause or the cause producing the effect. Our world is run on the principle of causation. If something happens somewhere, it produces some effect somewhere else. But if in the Infinite something happens, nothing happens as an effect. It is as if no action is taking place. If God does anything, it is as if He does nothing, because His action is identical with His existence, while in our case action is not the same as existence. Our existence is our psycho-physical individuality, but our action is a modulation, a modification or a transformation in some particular given direction of our personality. Action is a transformation of personality and it is directed to an ulterior end. Therefore, our action is not identical with our being. This is also the reason why, in our case, action binds.
But there is a state of being where action cannot be separated from being. This is exactly the principle that is hammered upon again and again by the Bhagavadgita, for instance. There is an activity that binds; there is an activity that does not bind. Any activity or process that is an externalised manifestation of being will produce an equal reaction on its part. But if action can be inseparable from being itself, what kind of reaction can come? Is it possible for us to work in this world, identifying ourselves with the work itself? This is to go into the theme of the Bhagavadgita. Has any one of you thought over this matter? Is it possible for you to do anything by totally merging yourself in that act of doing? Or do you feel that you are separate and the doing is another thing? Do you say, "I have done something"? This consciousness, this very idea that you are doing something implies that your doing is not identical with you. Otherwise, if your doing is the same as your being, it is another way of saying that you have done nothing at all. Then, in that case, karma cannot bind, because it is not karma at all. It is you yourself. How can you bind your own self? Somebody can bind you, but will you bind your own self? How can you be the cause and effect at the same time, the subject and object? That is not practicable.
The Bhagavadgita is here before us as a great quintessence of the Upanishads. If you have studied the Gita and entered into its spirit rather than merely the letter of its teaching, the one thing that rings aloud throughout the verses of the Gita is that, under certain circumstances, action cannot bind and it need not bind, if you are wise enough to conduct yourself in this world. Yoga is based on samkhya, says the Gita. Action is rooted in wisdom; that is the meaning. Whatever you do is based on proper understanding. What is that understanding? It is the understanding that your action need not necessarily be regarded as something outside you. In fact, the structure of the universe, the structure of being itself is such that one thing is not totally different from another thing. The relativity of the things in the world, the interdependence of things in this creation, precludes the possibility of considering anything as an isolated cause or a differentiated effect. If one thing hangs on another thing, you cannot know which is producing what – which is the cause, which is the effect in an organism – or which part of the body is the cause and which part of the body is the effect in our own personality. It is a total action taking place from head to foot, from fingertips to toes. No part of the body can be said to be doing anything independently. Organic action is no action; but, empirical action is action. This is the Gita's point of view. But has any one of us the ability to commune our consciousness with the act of performance of any work to such an extent that we will not know that we are doing anything at all, that we ourselves are moving? When you work, you yourself are moving through that work; your being is there, flowing in the process of activity, so that activity is not there. You yourself are there in the form of activity, like the ocean appearing as the waves. There are no waves; there is only the sea.
Thus, also, there is no action; there is only being. God's action and God's being are identical in this sense and it is also the sense in which anyone can view this world, provided such a communion can be established in one's daily life. Such a communion is called yoga. Yoga is supposed to be union, but union of what with what? It can be of anything with anything else. It can be the union of yourself, as a created unit, with God Almighty who has created you. It can be the union of the mind with the soul. It can be considered as the union of the subject with the object, or vice versa. It can be the union of the cause with the effect and the effect with the cause. It can be the union of related parts in a relative atmosphere. The idea behind the union mentioned in yoga is that something does not stand outside something else. If something is there, outside something else, it is not in a state of yoga.
We are not supposed to be in a state of yoga now, because everything is scattered helter-skelter, as it were, in this world outside us. We are outside somebody and somebody is outside us. Everything is external to everything else. Therefore, there is no yoga in this world. It is a kind of bhoga, an enjoyment of the effect produced by the relation of subject and object. We live not because we have strength in our own selves, independently, as pure infinite subjects; rather, we concoct or manufacture a kind of apparent completeness in us by our contact with objects of sense. That is called the world of bhoga, or enjoyment – sensory indulgence. All things in the world live by sense organs and sense contact.
But yoga is, from this point of view at least, not anything that belongs to this world. Nothing in this world can be said to be in a state of yoga, on account of the exclusion of everything from everything else. A herculean effort has to be exercised on the part of anyone to be really in a state of yoga, if yoga means the exclusion of the externality of consciousness. It is the union of the related part, in the form of an object standing outside, with the consciousness thereof. God Almighty, as the Creator of this cosmos, is a Fullness in the sense that outside Him nothing exists. The creational action of God is not any action at all. In the sense of the principle of the Bhagavadgita mentioned just now, action need not be something outside the actor. Therefore, God is the highest yogin, and the greatest yoga is possible only in the state of God. Yogeshwara is God, or God is Yogeshwara, as He is called. His action is no action. Tasya kartaram api mam viddhy akartaram avyayam (Gita 4.13), says the Gita: "Though I am doing all things, know that I do nothing." So, again, the same principle of karma yoga applies in an enlarged sense, in a universal sense, one may say; God is a karma yogi, though that word is not a proper application to Him. God's action is God Himself.
Therefore, the infinitude that is God, appearing to be manifesting in this infinite of the cosmos, does not diminish the content of God. If your action is yourself, your being is not depleted in your action. Otherwise, you feel tired of work. "Oh, I have finished. I have done a lot of work today." You will never feel that fatigue if the action is yourself, but if you are doing it for somebody else's sake, within a few minutes it becomes fatiguing indeed. Not only that, if your action is outside you, it will take away much of your energy. All work is a toll on our body because something goes from our body, something goes from our mind. But, in a heightened spirit of performance, it is possible to do work in this world without really getting tired in the way we get tired, because the work that we do is not somebody's work. We are not job hunters. We are not servants working in an office for somebody else's profit. Work that is divine is a participation in the existence of things. Work is a participation in the nature of Reality. It is not something being done for some other purpose. The otherness of the purpose is ruled out in divine activity.
Coming to the point, the infinitude of God is not diminished in any way when the infinite universe proceeds, as it were, from God. Actually, nothing proceeds from God. Having done all things, He has done nothing. The idea of proceeding arises only on account of the cause-and-effect relationship that has entered into our minds. Unless there is space and time, there cannot be cause and effect. Space and time are effects of creation and, therefore, cause and effect, having come after the manifestation of space and time, cannot affect Infinity, which is God. So, you cannot apply the principle of cause and effect to God Himself. Therefore, creation is not an effect coming from God as a cause. Even the word 'cause' is not a proper term that may be applied to God. He is a causeless cause, no doubt, but He also is not a cause at all. The Infinite is spaceless and timeless; therefore, it is neither a cause nor an effect. Hence, when the full universe comes from the full Almighty, nothing has happened. It may look as if God has not created the universe at all, if we go deep into it. All the faults that we generally find with God for having created a bad world – ugliness, evil and sin – will be ruled out in one second if we realise that perhaps He has created nothing. He is exactly in the same glory that He was prior to that action that we are imputing to Him as creation. Having created, He is full. This universe also appears to be full for us in a relative sense. God is Absolute Fullness and the universe is relative fullness.
Relatively, we feel filled when we become very rich or we have a very good meal or a very good sleep. Don't you feel a sense of fullness? A very grand, luxurious lunch is served to you; you feel fully satisfied, full and content. Also, during a good sleep you seem to be full. And if you have all things that you want, again you seem to be full. But this is relative fullness, not absolute fullness. Having eaten today, tomorrow again you are in a state of hunger, as before. Even if you are rich, it is only an imaginary wealth; any time it will vanish and you will become a pauper. Also, you cannot go on sleeping throughout your life.
Therefore, fullness in this world is not possible, really speaking. It is only an apparent, imaginary feeling that we have sometimes that we are full and, therefore, our happiness, incumbent upon this fullness, is also artificial. Our fullness is artificial, and our happiness also is artificial; it is not worth a farthing, finally. Thus, the Upani shad's declaration, purnam adah, purnam idam purnat purnam udachyate; purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate, is explained in some way.