Chapter 56: After the Guru has Left the Body
John: My problem is that I never felt sure in my heart that I'm in the right place. My Guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, is not in the body, and I only meet representatives of his, and I have never felt really sure. . .
Swamiji: He was not in the body even when you saw him in the body. Even at that time, he was not in the body. People respect their parents, and hang a photograph of them on the wall of the house in reverence; but when that person departs from this body, the very thing whose photograph was hung on the wall is consigned to the earth or the cremation ground. Now, who is it that was revered actually? Was it that thing which was visible to the eyes and whose photograph was revered? Or was the person whom you revered something other than what you saw with your eyes?
If you say you consider that person as the very thing which you saw with your eyes, then you have no business to consign that person to the river, or the fire, or the earth, as if it has no meaning or value; but if you say that the person whom you revered is not the one whom you are seeing with the eyes, then your question is answered by yourself.
It is a perceptional difference, like the value of a currency note. A currency note is only a piece of paper whose value is less than half a penny, and you will call it a thousand dollars if you like. From where comes this value? When the substance that you are holding in your hand is not worth half a penny, how are you conceptually revering it as a thousand dollars? So the value is conceptual, perceptional, valuational – not material, physical, visual. This applies to everything that we see in the world, including human beings and God Himself.
The visible is not the real; the invisible is the real. This requires a little time to think and appreciate. Usually we don't think in this fashion. We think in terms of sense organs, physical objects, tangible things, visible things, and we do not believe that the actual value of things is not in what we see, but in that which we think only.
The value of a currency note is in your thought. It is not the physical substance that has any value. You may have even a certificate from a bank. The signature of the manager of the bank is there as a certificate for deposit. All the money is in the bank only, not in your hand. You have only one signature of that man, and you are holding it as if the whole world is in your hand. It has no value except that you believe in your mind that it has a value.
All value is mental, psychological, ideational, based on consciousness. Finally, consciousness is the reality, not the visibility of a thing. You yourself are not the person sitting in front of me and talking to me. Neither of these two terms of relation in the conversation can be regarded as one body talking to another body – nothing of the kind. It is not body talking to body, not body listening to body. It is a consciousness in you appreciating the manner in which my consciousness operates. It is a conversation between two terms of consciousness, and they can be perpetually there, even if the visibility thereof is not there. Do you understand the point?
John: So, I can assume that the master's consciousness is full. If I am unaware, the problem is here?
Swamiji: The difference is only that he is aware and you are not aware, but the fact is the same. You are also some invisible reality, though you may not be aware of it.
John: So I should redouble effort at my sadhana?
Swamiji: Yes, yes. We try to do many good things in this world so that we may reap the fruits thereof in a better future. If no fruit will accrue from your good deeds, the good deeds will have no meaning. Now, when will you reap the fruits of your good deeds, knowing well that physical existence in this world is precarious? Nobody knows how long it will continue. Knowing very well the brittleness of physical existence, and comparing that condition with our hope of reaping good fruits of our good actions in the future, who is going to reap that fruit of good action? It is not this body. So, here is a demonstrable evidence before you that you are not this body.
When you say that you shall reap the fruits of your good actions, the body is not speaking. The body cannot say that, because it will not last to reap the fruit of those good deeds. It will not even go there, to the place where the fruits will be given to you. So, you are a spirit speaking, a consciousness that is speaking. It is consciousness saying that you shall do good things so that you shall have a good future, and it is a good future of the consciousness only, not of the physical body. So, the physical body has no value, finally. It is only a vehicle, and the rider of the vehicle is more important than the vehicle itself.