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Your Questions Answered
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 5: What is the Self?

Krishna Kumar: What is meditation?

Luciano: How can I know the Self?

Swamiji: If you know the meaning of what the Self is, then you will automatically know how to go there. If you know where Rome is, you will know how to go, also; but if you don't know where it is, it is difficult to go there. So, where is this Self sitting? If you are sure as to where It is, then you will also know how to go. Now, tell me where It is.

Luciano: The saints and sages say that the Self is everywhere.

Swamiji: OK. How can a person go to a thing which is everywhere? Suppose a thing is everywhere; then, where are you sitting? If It is everywhere, It is under you, also. Then, where are you sitting?

Luciano: On the Self.

Swamiji: Then why are you crying? You have already attained It. You are sitting on It and asking me how to attain It.

Luciano: But I don't see It.

Swamiji: You are not seeing It because It is everywhere. If It is only in some place, then you will see It. That is the whole problem. How can you see a thing which is everywhere, unless you also become everywhere? If you also become everywhere, then you will see that which is everywhere. You are only in one place, and the Self is everywhere, so there is a contradiction between your existence and Self's existence.

This contradiction has to be removed. Either It should be in one place, or you should be everywhere. The Self cannot become something in one place, so you have to become everywhere. Then you will "see" It. People who think alike will become friends. If you think in one way and That thinks in another way, how will you contact It? So you must think as the Self thinks, and what does the Self think? It thinks, "I am all things." Can you think like that? The essential point is here.

You are thinking that you are Luciano from Italy. This is the only idea that you have got, but this kind of thing cannot take you to the Self. As long as you are Luciano, and you are from Italy, then nothing will work.

But you are not Luciano, and you are not coming from Italy. You have not come from anywhere; you are just where you are, and you are not Luciano. You can be any other name, also. Somebody called you Luciano, and now you are saying that you are Luciano. Somebody can call you Joseph, and you will say that you are Joseph.

Luciano: So then I have all the names.

Swamiji: Then you have no name! So, don't say that you are Luciano. When you start going near the Self, all kinds of trouble will arise. A big storm of troubles will come up from all sides; as the Self is everywhere, the trouble also will come from all sides. If you are prepared for It and don't mind the difficulties that come, and you are bent upon It, you will get It. But if you are only experimenting with It and seeing whether you can get It or not, then It understands your mind, so It won't come. This is a very serious matter. You will get It, no problem. But you have to pay a high price – many liras! But the Self cannot encash lira, and all that!

For travelling, for your passport and bank account, you may call yourself Luciano, but when you are sitting alone, forget this idea. You sit alone and look at yourself and tell yourself that you have all names so you have no name. But have you a form? You have two things, name and form.

Luciano: In the book you suggest to place the consciousness outside, between the object and the subject.

Swamiji: When you concentrate on any object, your consciousness is transferred to that object, and then the consciousness of you body becomes less. You are thinking too much of this body; therefore, the objects are cut off. But one of the techniques of meditation is to concentrate the consciousness on another thing. It may be anything. Then immediately the attachment to this body gets loosened. That is one method which is prescribed by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras.

That thing which you are concentrating upon can be any object. It can be a little material thing, or it can be God Himself, or all the five elements, or the sun, the moon, the stars, space, time – to anything you can transfer your consciousness. Then, the attachment to this body gets loosened and becomes less and less. Slowly you will find that your mind spreads into a Universal state. This is one method of meditation. Here, the consciousness exists between you and what is outside you! Wonder indeed!

Luciano: When I try to concentrate on one thing, often the mind goes like a monkey.

Swamiji: It doesn't matter; let it go. Again you sit and start. Even if it goes again and again, it will come also again and again, by practice. Every day you eat food and every day you feel hungry also. Like that, it is the same thing. The mind goes again and again, but again you sit. Keep doing it, and you will see that it comes under control. Then one day you will find that you will be able to think only in that way. You will then not think in any other way. It is a question of repeated practice.

Luciano: At the end of the third discourse, you mention that all will be clarified if people can answer the question of where the Self is. But the Atman is everywhere, so how can I discover It?

Swamiji: Why should you discover It, if It is everywhere? That would mean that It is not everywhere. You are saying two things. You have to discover a thing which is not near you. If It is everywhere, how will you discover It, and also, who will discover It? Luciano is not there, because Luciano has gone into that which is everywhere; so who is discovering It? This is a very subtle point. If It is everywhere, where is Luciano at that time?

Luciano: He is nowhere.

Swamiji: Then what problem have you? If Luciano is not there, what else is there?

Luciano: Luciano has no problem because he is not there.

Swamiji: Then why are you putting questions unnecessarily? You have to sit with a Guru, and there is no use of only reading a book. You see, what I told you in two sentences is more important than the whole book. If Luciano is not there, the problem also is not there. Then who is putting a question?

Luciano: Nobody.

Swamiji: So you are happy!

Luciano: Yes!

Swamiji: With great difficulty you are happy! This point which has entered your mind just now, which has suddenly made you say reluctantly that you are happy, should be the object of your meditation. Day and night you must think this point: If the Atman is everywhere, nothing else is. The whole thing is that Atman, the pervading light everywhere, the dazzling light of the Atman which is the Universal Being, which is the Atman of everybody; there is only one Atman.

Go on telling this to the mind again and again so that the idea of Luciano and people, things and buildings and everything goes in one second. Go on thinking It again and again, and tell it also to the mind one thousand times. Don't think anything else for three hours every day and you'll see that something will happen afterwards.

Luciano: The problem is to expand my consciousness, because I think one of the problems is the separation between us and the Atman.

Swamiji: The separation arises because you are thinking that you are outside that Atman, but you have already said that you cannot be outside It. Your reason says that you cannot be outside It, so the feeling that you are outside It must be raised and merged into your reason. You cannot have two things, feeling something, and the reason saying another thing. They must come together.

That act of uniting the reason with the feeling is meditation. Go on driving that thought of reason into the feeling. Keep telling the feeling that you have accepted this point, that This is the only thing that you want, that This will give you whatever you want, and that you want nothing else. Tell the mind again and again, like a mantra. Do this meditation for three hours – in the morning, afternoon and night.

Don't create doubts in the mind. Write in your diary that you have no doubts. You have to go on telling the same thing again and again, because, otherwise, doubt will come and say, "No, you are not all right." When Buddha, the great Yogi, was meditating, some demons came to him and told him that he was a foolish man. Even Christ was told by somebody that he was wasting his time.

The reason should merge with the feeling. These should not be two different things. The feeling is very turbulent and troublesome. It will go on telling some wrong thing only. Though the reason says the right thing, the feeling will tell the wrong thing.

Luciano: Sometimes also the reason gives a wrong answer.

Swamiji: The reason needs to be purified by instruction from a Guru. Everybody has a reason, but that is ordinary, lower reason. We are now speaking of the higher reason, which accepts the universality of the Absolute and thinks nothing else. That has to be driven deeply into the feeling, all which is the process called meditation. If you can do it continuously and think nothing else in the mind at all times, then within a short time you will experience some great change in your life. You must wait for that day.

Luciano: So my first object of meditation must be that I am the only one, and that I have no doubts.

Swamiji: Yes. You write in your diary that you have no doubts. Every day see it, in big letters: "I have no doubts." If anybody tells you from inside that you have doubts, you say no. This will take you a long time; it is not an easy job. You must find time for it, and it will be all right in due course. If you persist in It, It will come to you.

The secret of success is that you can get anything you want, provided you want only that thing. But if you want two things, then you will get neither this nor that. Is there anything that you want entirely? It is difficult to find something like that, where only "that" is wanted. Nobody can live like that, with only one thing. There is also another thing, second thing, third thing, etc. So many things we want! But there is one thing, by getting which, you will get other things, also. All the waters of the world you will find in one thing, which is the ocean; so, find out that ocean.

Luciano: It is difficult for me to understand your image about drops in the ocean, and the separation between the drops, and the ocean made from infinite drops.

Swamiji: The ocean itself is one big drop, but it is also made of small drops; many little drops put together become an ocean. But actually, in the ocean, the drops don't exist; they are one integral whole. So, you may say there are no drops in the ocean, yet you can say it is made up of drops. Both notions are correct. Actually, the drops in the ocean are only conceptual. The mind says that there are many parts. Ideas move the world.

Luciano: So, also, in the world, I am separated from others.

Swamiji: It is like that. You have got a conceptual feeling of difference of one from another. Really, they are connected together into a vast ocean of infinite force. The people who are sitting here look like isolated people, even as conceptually you can imagine many drops in the ocean.

You have many cells in the body, but yet you are one man. The billions of cells make one Luciano. So, even if it looks like many, it is still one only. When there are many branches in a tree, the tree will not think that it is many trees. It is one tree only, though the branches are many.

The process is to become aware that there is one consciousness pervading everything, and it itself appears as all the objects. One tree appears as many branches, but is integrated by one tree-consciousness. Similarly, you will feel the ocean of force as identical with you. All these things that you see outside you are part of that conceptually differentiated, but really united being.

Luciano: Yes, but different people have different manners.

Swamiji: Even if there are many varieties of branches (one is straight, one is bent, one is up or down), it makes no difference to the tree. There are people with defective limbs, yet they think that they are a complete whole. The consciousness is not of defect. The body may have some defects, but the consciousness feels that it is perfectly all right. Varieties of limbs do not make varieties in consciousness. Consciousness is one only.

Luciano: So what appears as the forms is only a question of appearance, and not substance.

Swamiji: Yes. There are big waves in the ocean, and small waves, yet it is still one single ocean. This requires deep thinking every day. A long time you must take for this meditation, and do study also, if you require it as a help.