SESSIONS WITH ASHRAM RESIDENTS - 2
The Cohesiveness and Completeness of the Universe
by Swami Krishnananda
(Spoken on January 7, 1997)
The other day I said something which is to be regarded as very fundamental, the very foundation of the organisation of life. I hope you remember what the points are that I actually touched upon. I also made reference to a thing called law operating wherever there is an organisation.
Many a time people consider law as dharma in the Sanskrit language, and dharma is a very misunderstood word. We have got Hindu dharma, Buddhist dharma, this dharma, that dharma. Dharma does not mean any kind of denominational religion. Even if there are no religions in the world, law will operate because law is just the rule of existence itself. One cannot even exist in a sensible manner unless some law is at the back of this intriguing thing called existence. It has nothing to do with denominational religions.
There are varieties of the manifestation of law, and it does not suddenly jump on our head from the skies. In a systematic, orderly, harmonised manner law operates everywhere, from the particle of sand on the bank of the Ganga right up to the galaxies. Such is the wonder of the operation of law.
In its lowest manifestation, in its most visible form, law operates as what we call gravitation. Everybody knows what gravitation is, but it is a thing which is least respected by any one of us. We think that gravitation is only in textbooks of physics, and in what way are we concerned with it? But we must remember that we cannot even go for a walk on the road unless there is a thing called gravitation. We cannot lift our leg; we cannot move. The earth stabilises our motion in such a manner that we seem to be freely moving on its surface as if we are the masters of everything, not knowing that every inch of our movement is controlled by forces that are transcendental. This is physical gravitation.
How one thing is pulled in respect of another, determined by the distance between the two objects and the quantity of their body, is difficult to understand. But more than the law of physical gravitation there is another law called biological gravitation, which is also seen practically in everybody’s life – the pull exerted by one living being in respect of another living being, mostly visible in attachment to the members of the family, the clinging of a mother to the child or the parent to the members of family. ‘My family’ is the word people use. If several families are travelling in a railway compartment, the ‘my family’ idea will be felt strongly by a group sitting separately who will not care for the other families also travelling in the same compartment. This is biological attraction, a pull which is also sanctioned by the law of nature. A mother monkey clings to her baby monkey. So much love she has got because it is ‘me’. The biological exudation in the form of the offspring manifests itself in such an irrational manner oftentimes that the mother will cling even to the dead child. “My child, my child, my child! It is only a corpse, but it does not matter. I hug it.” Nature compels everyone to see to it that its work continues in the form of the propagation of the species. Every kind of human attachment or attachment of any living being to any living being may be regarded as a biological gravitation.
There is also what is known as psychological gravitation. The sanity of our mind, the cohesion of our ideas, the system that operates behind logical thinking is also something very interesting to know. Though we have many thoughts, they are all organised into a system or a pattern of logicality. Otherwise, each thought will fly at a tangent somewhere, and there will be no connection between one thought and another thought. A person can go crazy in a moment if this psychological gravitation does not operate. We feel a sense of wholeness in our way of thinking, a compactness and a system, and meaningfulness is there. We cannot think in a meaningless manner because meaninglessness is an absence of logicality, cohesion, etc. Everywhere the cohesive force is operating. We cannot have only disparity, distinction, isolatedness and distinction. That is not possible.
Even to be aware that there are two things, there must be a third thing other than the two things. We cannot say here is A and here is B unless there is something to connect A with B. There is an intermediary awareness which permeates both A and B, and also rises above it. In the Vedantic parlance we call these operations as adhyatma, adhibhuta, and adhidaiva. There is a subjective side, an objective side, and a transcendental side. It is not that there is only a subject looking at the object, and only the object isolated from the subject. Such a thing is not possible because the object cannot enter into the subject, merely because of the fact that it is an object. An object is something which is totally disconnected from the subject. If that is the case, we will not even know that it is existing.
There is something inscrutable operating between the perceiving side and the object that is perceived. This is a transcendental cohesive force operating in the field of perception, of which most people are not aware. The great secrets of life seem to be not our concern at all. We are just happy with our business, with our give-and-take policy, shop-keeping, trading. Everything seems to be going on well without our knowing why it is going on well. There is a puller behind everything, a master who pulls the puppets of all the show of this world, whose existence is ignored totally minute to minute, which always says, “I am here.” But nobody bothers about it because the attachment to one side of things without any consideration to the other side of things rules life in such a poignant way that no one knows what is happening in the world.
There is also a law operating between this life and another life; otherwise, there will be no connection between the soul in this life and in the next life. Somebody will be living here now and another person will be living in another world. That cannot take place. The transition between one realm of being to another realm of being is also caused by a wider cohesive force, without which there will be no transmigration, no rebirth. There will not be consciousness even of tomorrow. We cannot know there is a thing called ‘tomorrow’ unless the present today is able to transfer itself to the possibility of a tomorrow. How do you know there is a thing called tomorrow? Who told you? Because tomorrow has not come, it is not existing. A non-existent thing cannot be a content of our consciousness, but yet we know there is a thing called tomorrow.
The idea of tomorrow, or the belief in the existence of a thing called tomorrow, is a miniature form of our belief in rebirth. We are sure that tomorrow we will be there. Who told us that? How do we know that tomorrow we will be here? Every time we say, “Tomorrow we shall look to it.” Why do we make a statement like that? There is something in us which is transcendentally operating which tells us tomorrow is directly, cohesively, logically connected with today. If the tomorrow is not there, the today also will not be there. It will be meaningless. There cannot be a today unless there is a tomorrow. Now, there cannot be a tomorrow unless the today has automatically transferred itself to a position above itself. In every act of our thought concerning the next day the self transcends itself and goes above itself and says, “I am more than what I am.”
These are some of the manners in which law in the world operates. But there is a further thing: the law of the integration of the souls in the universe in a universal soul. That is a most interesting thing operating. The souls of human beings are like scintillating sparks scattered over in different directions, as it were. But how will they be scattered like that? Even a planet cannot scatter itself in space unless it is connected with a solar system which controls its path.
These little monarchs of soul element, which are infinite in number, cannot make any sense unless they are made to cohere into a system of a transcendental organisational consciousness that we call God-consciousness. In traditional parlance we call it Ishvara-satta. The existence of Ishvara determines the manner and operation of every individual soul in a similar manner as the central constitution of a government determines the function and operation of every citizen in the country. That is to say, no individual can go against the law of God, and God will not do anything which is contradictory to the welfare of an individual. No citizen can go against the Constitution, and the Constitution will not do any harm to any individual. They are interconnected. So there is a cohesive element between God and soul also. Everywhere there is law, dharma, operating – rita and satya. Without that, no organisation can stand.
I am touching upon this subject because we are now highlighting the Diamond Jubilee of The Divine Life Society organisation, which is also a cohesive force. In one way we may say the thought of Swami Sivananda is the cohesive force among all the activities of The Divine Life Society throughout the world. Whether they are branches, individuals, devotees, admirers, seekers, whatever they are, they all gravitate around this central sun of the thought of Swami Sivananda. That is why the organisation of The Divine Life Society sustains itself. Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj used to say, “The branches of The Divine Life Society are not made up of brick and mortar, stone and steel. They are not somewhere far off. The heart of a human being is a branch of The Divine Life Society. In every seeking heart The Divine Life Society is operating.” By The Divine Life Society, it does not mean a secular registered body merely.
The day before yesterday I mentioned there is not much of a difference between the spiritual and the secular because such a distinction would be something like the difference we draw between God and the world, which does not exist; therefore, there is no great difference between the inner operation and the outer performance.
Here is the secret of spiritual sadhana also. We cannot do something which is contrary to what we feel inside us. Then it is not karma yoga. Our heart should permit the action that we are going to do. Karma yoga is not compulsory action. It is voluntary service that is done, not necessarily for the welfare of other people but the welfare of one’s own self, also. Atmano mokshartham jagat hitaya cha is an old, old saying. All our activity is not only for the welfare of other people, but also for one’s own liberation. It does not mean that you go on working for the welfare of people and remain bound yourself. That is not the intention, because you yourself also are a part of the people who require assistance and service.
Humanity is a complete manifestation of a total performance. Human beings are not outside us. The person who sees humanity outside is also a human being by himself or herself. “Let me serve people,” people say. Now, the person who says that is also a part of the people only. So whom is serving whom? Am I serving others or are others serving me? From the point of view of other people, I am an other which requires service, and from my point of view they are the others. Now, who are the others finally? There is no such thing as others, and there is no such thing as individual action. It is not me or you that does service; it is a total action taking place everywhere.
The Bhagavadgita is a central gospel which says one person is doing work everywhere. There is only one person doing all activity. There is no such thing as ‘I am doing and you are doing’. There is no I or you because this I and you are different souls that participate in a total action simultaneously taking place for all times. This activity of the cosmos is permanently going on endlessly like a cycle without a beginning, without an end. And who is responsible for it? Neither me nor you nor anybody, but That which is.
This is a great, lofty ideal that Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj had in his mind, and his mind cannot be read through any printed book, really speaking. His biographies and autobiographies also do not clearly go into the depth of his mind. He used to sometimes say, “Work, work! Work hard. Don’t be lethargic. Don’t be simply sitting and rolling the beads.” But then he would also add, “All work is a bondage. Don’t get attached. It is the work that has bound you to this body.” But he would also say, “Work, work!” Both things he would say.
The same thing was told by Bhagavan Sri Krishna in the Gita. “Do the work. Do! Go ahead, embark upon the war. Don’t keep quiet. Rise up.” This is one side of the gospel of the Gita. The other side is, “I am doing everything. I have already done everything. You be only an instrument.” Now, it looks like a contradiction. “I have done everything myself. I am the only person who does everything.” Mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti (7.7): Outside Me nothing exists. I am the sole actor in this universe. Having said that, Sri Krishna then says, “Do! Get up, take up, don’t sit.” So both things are said.
Swami Sivanandaji had such characteristics in him, and he spoke what are almost looking like contradictions. We would not know what he is saying, whether he is asking us to sit and meditate and do japa, or he is saying we must do hard work. If we go to one extreme he would say, “No, no good.” We are caught. “Whole day you are sitting and doing japa? No. Idle man, work.” And if we go on working and working, “No, you are attached to the work.” He would never allow us this way or that way. Both ways we are were caught. If we do hard work, we are attached, and if we do japa only we are an idle, lethargic man. This is what Swami Sivanandaji would say. So how would we manage? Very difficult. We cannot understand saints, we cannot understand God, and we cannot understand the world also. We cannot understand our own self.
Submissiveness and humility and obedience to the law is the system that operates in all organisations. When I speak of an organisation, I am not necessarily meaning The Divine Life Society or any organisation whatsoever in the world. It is a system of integrated being; that’s all. That is called organisation. Even a little particle of sand is an organisation by itself. Great scriptures like the Yoga Vasishtha tell us that inside a little sand particle we can see many universes dancing, one inside the other. Every atom is a universe, every electron is a planet, every nucleus is a sun. Everywhere there are universes, universes, universes, worlds within worlds.
There are worlds inside worlds. We think that we are a world ourselves. This body is a world. But this body that looks like a world by itself is constituted of many little worlds called cells of the body, organic substances. Nowadays in medical parlance they say there are mysterious things called DNA and RNA. If we study these things operating in each cell of a person, one cell can tell what kind of person we are. Our entire history, our whole horoscope, our beginning and end is written in one cell. What we are from birth to death will be seen in one cell in a microscope. So largeness and smallness are not important; organisation is important. Everything should be cohesive, systematic and complete.
Spiritual practice is a complete way of thinking. Meditation is a complete way of thinking. Useful work is a complete way of thinking. Any kind of fractional, isolated, part-by-part activity cannot satisfy. Even when we take our meal, it should be a whole meal. We do not want a fraction of a meal. It cannot satisfy us. When our lunch is over, we must feel a whole satisfaction. We cannot say that we are only 50% or 25% satisfied. Wherever there is wholeness, organisation and completeness, there is joy, and the highest form of the integrated organisation is Pure Existence, Sat.
Wherever there is existence integrated within itself in every level of its manifestation, there is happiness. Unless we are full, happiness will not be there. It is up to each person to know how one can be full in one’s own self. Never say “I am unsatisfied.” That is because your thinking is partial. Why should you be unsatisfied? You find out, “What is lacking in me?” What is lacking in us is not money; it is not any property. That is not what we want. What we want is a completeness of thinking. In modern days people call it holistic thinking. Every thought is complete in itself. It is like a good meal that we are taking.
We can be happy only through our thoughts, not by eating, by money and property, land, bank balances. They cannot make us happy. We will be happy only by the way in which we are thinking. We can think heaven if we want. We can think hell also, if we want. It is in our hands. “It is neither heaven nor hell, but thinking makes it so,” said the poet. To be happy or unhappy is in our hands. I can organise my thoughts in such a way that in one second I can be happy. But I can disorganise my thoughts in such a way that in one minute I can be in hell also. “Man is the maker of his destiny,” is something well said. Our future is in our hands.
You should not say, “My future is in somebody’s hands.” There is no ‘somebody’ here. You should not use the word ‘somebody’ because, as I mentioned, the concept of the ‘other’ being there is erroneous thinking. There are no other people here, there are just people by themselves, because each one is an ‘other’ to somebody else, so who is the ‘other’? This is philosophical thinking, metaphysical thinking, spiritual thinking, divine thinking, holistic thinking, perfect thinking, or the yoga way of thinking, we can say.
We have to be yogis. Tasmāt sarveṣu kāleṣu yogayukto bhavārjuna (8.27): “Be always in a state of yoga,” says Bhagavan Sri Krishna. When he says “Be always in a state of yoga” he does not mean hold your breath and sit in a particular way. It is not that kind of thing. Be harmonised in your system, harmonised within yourself, harmonised with other people, harmonised with nature as a whole. Be in a state of harmony with the sun, moon and stars, with the forests, with the trees, with the river that flows and the green mountain. Be happy with them.
And be happy with God Himself. If God exists, there is no occasion for you to grieve and curse yourself. The sorrow comes only if God does not exist. Then everything will be pell-mell; a tornado, devastation, a whirlwind will start immediately in the mind of a person if God does not exist. That we are sane and healthy, feeling comfortable in our own selves, is itself a proof that God exists. He is operating within us and outside us.
Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj’s teachings are very complicated in some way, and often they look very simple also because nobody can write in such a simple way as he writes. His philosophy and teachings are very simple. Even an eighth-standard child can understand what he is writing. Yet, they are so deep because they touch all aspects. The depth of the teaching consists in its integration and inclusiveness of all aspects of life. You would have noticed that in his writings, he has not left any subject untouched. He writes on philosophy, spirituality, religion, medical science, political science, aesthetics, religion. There is nothing which he has not touched. His writings are encyclopaedic because he himself was an encyclopaedic superman. Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj was a superman, and he wanted to project to the people a system of living called super-individuality, higher than one’s own self, to live not only for one’s own individual life but for the larger life which is crying within each individual, saying “I am not complete in myself.”
We wish to be more than what we are. Every moment we wish to rise above ourselves. “I want to be wider than what I am, more integrated than what I am, by which I can be more happy than what I am.” This impulse from within to be more than one’s own self is the impulse of religion, philosophy, God-consciousness. Everybody has a feeling inside, “I must be more than what I am. I am not sufficient. There is insufficiency in me. In everything I want to exceed the limitations of my existence.” That impulse towards the more and the more reaches its culmination only in the widest expanse of comprehensiveness when the so-called individual becomes a cosmic person, when jiva becomes Ishvara, soul becomes God, consciousness becomes the Absolute, and bondage melts into the freedom of moksha.
This is a wonderful message not only of Swami Sivananda, but of all saints and sages of that level. All saints and sages form a fraternity of themselves. They belong to a world of their own, a world of sparks of divinity. Masters are said to be ranging over the whole space. In one minute they can manifest themselves at any time, at any place, if the call is there. But if you do not call them, they will not come.
But how will you call? The soul within has to call them. You should not call them with words of language. When your deepest cry of the heart is summoning something, it has to manifest itself. In greatest agony, people write the best poetry. The tragedies of Shakespeare are said to be the greatest works of Shakespeare – tragedies, not the comedies or the historical plays. In the deepest sorrow of the agony of the spirit, the depth of God often manifests itself. This is the spirit of renunciation, the abandonment of all that is incomplete and that is outside the purview of the soul.
The soul is pure subjectivity. It cannot brook any kind of externality or anything other than itself. It cannot think what is non-soul. It is another way of saying that it cannot think ungodly things because the soul itself is a mini God. Here is the essence of religion, of spirituality, of yoga, of good work, of service, of humanitarian service. Anything that is worthwhile in this world is comprehended within this wonderful concept of an all-pervading inclusiveness.
Swami Sivanandaji was an inclusive person. He wanted nothing for himself. If anybody offered something, immediately he would distribute it to all people. When a basket of fruit came, he would not take it to his kutir and eat it. Everybody must take it, and the whole thing was given to others. Any number of baskets of fruits – give, give, give, give, distribute it. You don’t lose anything by giving; you lose much by taking. He who takes will suffer; he who gives will enjoy. This is not known to people. Everybody thinks if you give you are losing something. No, it is not so. You do not lose by giving. “Give, and it shall be given back to you,” said Jesus Christ. Do you remember that? If you give, it will be given back to you not in the same measure that you give but filled, shaken, overflowing; abundantly it will come. If you give, you give with two hands, but if God gives, with millions of hands He will give to you. This is the difference between God giving and our giving. We cannot give more than what two hands can contain, but if God gives, millions of hands will start operating everywhere. There will be a flood of giving everywhere. You cannot keep them, if God gives the blessing.
There is an old Marathi saying, “If God with His infinite hands started pouring blessing upon you, how much will you grab with your two hands? On the other hand, if with infinite hands He pulls out everything, how much can you grab and keep it within yourself?”
Be humble, trust in God, and believe that everything shall be all right with no problem anywhere. God bless you!