Chapter 67: Renunciation and Transformation
Visitor: What place does renunciation have in the holy life – in this meditation that you have been speaking about?
Swamiji: What is your question?
Visitor: What place does renunciation have in the meditative process of realising one's true Self?
Swamiji: Can you tell me what your idea of renunciation is? What does it mean, actually?
Visitor: To be more interested in realising what is true, and one's true Self, than anything else in life.
Swamiji: No. If you are interested in realising your Self, you are saying that you are going to renounce something. Isn't it?
Visitor: I think that is the result of being more interested in it.
Swamiji: What are you going to renounce? What are the things that you would like to renounce for this purpose?
Visitor: It might be old ways of being, old ways of thinking, old ways of interacting with people, old ways of understanding things.
Swamiji: That is all right. But, actually, renunciation means renunciation of all the desires that are connected with the world of perception. Have you desires connected with this world? If they can be renounced, you have attained perfection. Old ways of thinking, and other things you mentioned to me just now – actually, the old way of thinking is the way of desiring things in the world.
Swamiji: And, if that can be overcome, and if you desire the Self only, and desire nothing external to the Self, you have renounced, really. Renunciation is not abandoning objects of the world, persons and things – but the longing for them. Now, many people are seated here. Can you say, "I have renounced them"? The question does not arise, because you have no connection with them at all. Therefore, the question of renunciation, also, does not arise. Like that, if you have no concern with anything in the world, then the question of renunciation, also, will not arise.
Swamiji: If you have got concern with something, then the idea of renunciation, or not renunciation, arises. You are concerned with the Self, as you understand it correctly. And if there is nothing else that can interest you, then you have renounced perfectly, and you have done the best thing in the world. That is my answer.
Visitor: Thank you.
Visitor: I have another question, Swamiji, about transformation – how does transformation take place in time?
Swamiji: What kind of transformation?
Visitor: Of the personality, of the old way of being, the old way of seeing things, and understanding things to the new way of being more interested in the Self.
Swamiji: Transformation is actually a state of consciousness. When you are aware of something, consciousness envelops that thing, and it takes the shape of that particular thing, whether it is a human being, or any particular object of the world. And, you are transformed at that time into the form of the object which you are thinking in your mind. But, if the object does not exist for you, as you have concluded just now – they are not matters of concern for you – you have nothing to do with anything in the world, and then the consciousness transforms itself into its own true nature.
Now, we are empirically conscious, sensorially aware, and filled with object consciousness. We are seeing this world; we are looking at the buildings, we are seeing the wall, and so many people around us. There, in that condition of perception of things, a psychological transformation takes place. The mind assumes the shape of that which it cognises; then, you are able to see that such a thing exists. As molten lead cast into a crucible takes the shape of that crucible, the mind takes the shape of any object which it cognises, or perceives through the sense organs.
This is called bondage to the objects. If you are not concerned with anything – you are seeing so many people here, but your mind is not transformed into the shape of these people, because the mind has no concern with them – it is a blank looking and seeing, without any emotional connection. If that emotional connection with things is withdrawn, and your concern is centralised in the Pure Self, you undergo a metaphysical transformation, as they call it – a transcendental transformation – transformation into a form of God Himself, I should say. Instead of your consciousness taking the shape of a thing that it cognises outside, in the form of objects, etc., the centralised consciousness, with no concern external in space and time, gets modified into the form of the Transcendent Being, which is God-consciousness. That is the transformation that you are expecting, which will take place automatically, if you are freed from object-consciousness, or any kind of desire-consciousness. That is what you are expecting in your spiritual transforming process.
The Self almost loses contact with itself, and moves outside in the form of objects of sense, when it desires anything. That is an unnatural condition of the mind. The senses have to be withdrawn from such perceptional activity, and consciousness has to rest in itself. The resting of the consciousness in its own self, which is Universality of Being, is the highest Yoga or meditation. There is nothing more to be done afterwards. That is the final goal.
British Visitor: In your book The Realisation of the Absolute there is one part where you say that if a person does not realise himself, then Nature, in some way, takes revenge. And it made it sound like Nature has some sort of purpose, or some sort of reason. I just wondered if you could explain that.
Swamiji: Nature does not take revenge, but it will constrain the person to the laws of Nature, to which we are all subject, so to say. The consciousness of finitude, fear of death, sense of insecurity, and a feeling of dissatisfaction with everything – these are the ways in which Nature will react upon the person who has not realised the Self.
Self-realisation means the experience of the Universal Eternal Being, where Nature does not stand outside it. Inasmuch as it is universal, there is no one to control it. There is no one to restrict it; inasmuch as it is everywhere, it cannot die, also. It cannot be born; it is perfectly free, and ultimately absolute. This is how we describe the state of supreme realisation, called by various names like Self-realisation, God-realisation, the realisation of the Absolute – where One alone is, and there is nothing external to limit you in any manner whatsoever.
That is ultimate freedom, the aim of life, for which you have to struggle hard in deep meditational process. Deep meditation is necessary. You have to spend practically all your time in contemplation on this supreme completeness, the Total Whole, what you call the Absolute, where everything is, which is All-in-All, which is inseparable from your own existence.
This meditation is the primary duty of every person, and when that duty is discharged, everything is fulfilled, and you become perfect in every sense of the term. This is the thing for which we have to struggle and strive, day in and day out, in all our activities, in all our doings. Whatever our performances be in this life, they all have to get streamlined in the direction of this great meditative process on the Absolute. This is the duty of all.