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Your Questions Answered
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 16: Diagnose the Illness of Life and Go Beyond

Swamiji: No medicine can be considered as appropriate unless the diagnosis of the case is done properly. You cannot prescribe any medicine unless you know what the illness is. You may do vipassana, japa yoga, asana, pranayama, karma yoga, bhakti yoga, jnana yoga, raja yoga, pilgrimage to holy places, satsanga with mahatmas, etc., but this is like eating all kinds of medicines from a chemist shop. All right, take it, but what is your illness? Unless you know what your illness is, these medicines will not be of any utility. Thus, each one who meditates must be clear about what the trouble is; if the nature of the trouble is clear, you also know what to do for that. You may do vipassana, you may stand on your head; do what you like, but don't unnecessarily do a thing without knowing what your problem is.

What is your problem? What is wrong with you that you are running about in search of gurus and yogas and meditations and all that? Let anybody be clear to one's own self.

Sean: I think the problem is separation from the universe.

Swamiji: All right, if your problem is separation from the universe, how will you unite yourself with the universe? How are you going to rectify this mistake? What is the method that you are adopting?

Sean: To find the common thread. Everything must be connected.

Swamiji: In your meditation, you are thinking something; that is your method. What is it that you are thinking?

Sean: I am thinking in very slow steps. I start thinking of the common connection – first feeling that everyone and everything here in the room are connected in some way. Then, I try to expand outside the walls and feel the connection with the river and the mountains. Then, I try to take it further to include the planet; then, higher and higher.

Swamiji: Higher and higher, up to what point?

Sean: As far as I can go.

Swamiji: You must go up to that point beyond which you feel there is nothing. If you feel there is something beyond that point, then you have not reached the highest point.

Sean: It is just a visualisation.

Swamiji: Yes. Visualisation, not merely like a theoretical concept – it is a strong sense of being That, from which you seem to be separated. It is not just an ordinary kind of identification of uniting two different things. You are not uniting yourself with some other thing which is different from you; you are identifying yourself, affirming your being with that whose being is your being. It is feeling a sense of being with that which has been apparently isolated from you. You are not thinking it, you are being it. You are the very thing from which you seem to be separated. Then, they say, it is available at once. The Kingdom of God is not merely within you, it is just you. You meditate like that. This "within" and "without" idea also should be given up. That also is a limitation of thought.

Sean: Swamiji, sometimes one can feel from outside, then one shrinks back down into this.

Swamiji: That is because of the old habit of thinking in the old way right from childhood. Everyone is brought up in a family, in a community, in a cultural background, in an atmosphere of thinking which is influencing one even now to some extent. There are certain basic prejudices which die hard. You are a Westerner; you will never think that you are an Indian. It is impossible for you to think like that, though it is not wholly correct to imagine that you are only a Westerner. You are a human being and you think like a human being. Are you thinking like a Westerner, or thinking like a human being?

You boil down your essence a little more. For some practical social outer purposes, you may think like a Westerner, and it may not be identical with Eastern thinking; but as a human being, you will think like any other human being. You have the same emotions, same feelings, same sense of heat and cold, hunger and thirst, and sense of self-respect. This is not peculiar to a Westerner only, it is in any human being.

A Christian cannot think that he is Hindu, though he may study Hinduism. Whatever may be the extent of his knowledge of Hinduism, a Christian can never say that he is a Hindu; a Hindu can never think that he is a Christian. This is a kind of prejudice which must be given up.

When you were manifested out of the cosmic substance as an individual, you didn't come out as a Christian or a Hindu; neither did you come as an Easterner or a Westerner. You came as a little piece of matter ejected out of the cosmic stuff; to that condition you will return in your meditation. You don't go to God as a Christian or a Muslim going to God, not even as a man or a woman going to God. Even that is a prejudice from the cosmic point of view.

This is a moot point, which is interestingly delineated in the different sections of the Bhagavad Gita. The first six chapters deal with one issue; the next six chapters deal with another issue and the last six deal with a third type of problem – the Individual, Cosmological and the Absolute. When you reach the Absolute point of view, even the cosmological prejudice of being a created something would drop. You are not a created entity, also. That idea also must go.

This is a very difficult thing, and this exercise you must do in your meditation daily, as if you are going to God today. You may say that you will do it slowly after fifty years, and reach God in the next birth. These ideas also are obstacles, because you may get it today by a miracle of Providence. All great things happen suddenly – birth or death, rise or fall, they take place in one instant. Suddenly you become big, suddenly you become small. Suddenly you come, and suddenly you go. Everything consequential is a sudden thing in this world.

When you meditate, you must go through these exercises that I have indicated with great intensity, as if you are going to reach God today, under the hope that it is possible. You should not start thinking that it is not a possibility. "It may be or may not be!" Again the Gita comes in, saying that you should not expect the fruit of an action. The possibility or impossibility of it is like expecting the fruit of an action. That idea also should be given up. Do your duty. Again, here, in meditation also that karma yoga principle comes in: do your duty, but expect not the fruit. Meditate in this manner of practising the exercise, without bringing the idea of possibility or impossibility; else, it would spoil the whole thing. You should never think of the future. "Act, act in the living present", "heart within and God overhead" as is the poem of H. W. Longfellow.