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Sessions with Ashram Residents
by Swami Krishnananda

Session 19: An Action is a Vibration

If one man borrowed 75 rupees from some person who had borrowed 50 rupees from him, they can make an adjustment. That man has to repay only 25 rupees to the other man. But when he did that, the other man did not like it. He said, “You must give me 75 rupees. Why are you giving 25 rupees when you have borrowed 75 rupees?”

“No, no, it is adjusted,” the man said.

“I don't know anything. You pay your 75 rupees, and I will give you 50 rupees,” the other man replied.

This is the method of their thinking. It looks as if God is also having that kind of arithmetic. If a person does 75 good deeds and 50 bad deeds, it doesn't mean that he has done no bad deeds and has only 25 good deeds. You can tell God, “I have done 75 good deeds, so why don't you cancel the 50 bad deeds?” Is it like that?

An ashramite: God may want us to suffer.

Swamiji: God is not interested in punishing you. There is some great secret behind it. An action is not a thing. You cannot count actions the way you count things. It is not like rupees and dollars that you can make an adjustment by balancing. An action is a vibration that you are setting up in your personality. This is a new thing I am telling you. Whenever you do something, you are creating a vibration in your whole system. This vibration has some connection with the total cosmic vibration. As we are part of the whole universe, our vibrations are somehow or other connected to the total vibration. What we call a good action is not actually the action as such, but a vibration. Unless a vibration is generated, action cannot be done. We call it thought, mind, etc. The mind is also a vibration only. You set up an attitude of your whole personality; that is action, actually speaking. If this energy quantum of our body, which is the vibration, is totally opposed to the vibration of the whole universe, we may be said to be doing a bad action. God is not sitting in the heavens and wielding a rod, seeing who is doing what, and hitting you on your head. It is not like that. The whole universe automatically acts and reacts instantaneously. You cannot hide anything. It is not possible.

Instantaneous action takes place because you are inseparable from the universe, so you are punishing yourself only, in one way. Therefore, it is not that God is punishing you. People say that God is punishing and God is rewarding. There is no such God. The whole universe is God only, and your vibrations punish you, and your vibrations also reward you.

So this issue of 75 rupees and 50 rupees, that kind of thing will not work here. We are our doers and undoers, both. But human beings have got a habit of finding fault with others. Whenever any unpleasant thing is seen, we say another person is the cause of it. So we also say that God is creating all this. We say, “My neighbour is such a bad man. He is spitting on the floor.” Similarly, we say about God, “Why is He creating thorns and mosquitoes and troubling people?” This is our stupid idea of God, and therefore incalculable problems arise in the world. Who created evil, bad things, unhappiness? Many learned people have come and asked me who creates happiness, who creates unhappiness, etc.

There are no things called happiness and unhappiness. They don't exist. What happens is exactly what I told you just now. The whole universe evolves in some direction. In that evolutionary process it drags with it everyone and everything. It will drag even an insect towards some great destination. We need not touch that subject now, as to what that destination is. Every second it evolves. Everything is moving. So just as the universal evolution drags everything—even a plant, even an insect, everything is pulled—some peculiar situation arises. What is your relationship to this universal evolution? Are you sitting outside it or are you inside it?

Your body is not inside you, nor is it outside you. Such words cannot be used. It is you. You cannot say that your body is inside you. Saying that your body is outside you is also not correct. So you cannot say that you are inside the universe, and you cannot say that you are outside the universe. When the whole universal evolution takes place, what happens to you at that time? The whole thing goes up. But you are accepting this fact just now because of the logic of argument. You have to accept that you are neither inside nor outside, you are that only. But for how many minutes in your life will you think that you are neither inside nor outside the universe? Will anybody think like that? The whole life is wasted in wrong thinking in the sense that it is opposed to the fact of the evolutionary process of the universe. That vibration that you are creating by your opposition to the cosmic evolutionary process creates a kick from that evolutionary process, and that is unhappiness. Happiness does not come from anybody or anything. It comes from your cooperation with the cosmic process of evolution. It is not coming from any person, it is not coming from money, it is not coming from authority or power, it is not coming from anything in the world. The whole thing is a mistake. It is coming from your cooperation with this cosmic evolutionary process.

But nobody can cooperate with it because everybody says “I am this man”, “I am that man”. If you say that, it will not tolerate it. In the Taittiriya Upanishad it is said that even if there is one millimetre of difference between you and That, you will immediately suffer. In one second hell will descend on the head. Sa hanisthan maha chidhram sa chantha jada mudatha, yan muhurtham kshanam vapi vasudevam na chinthayeth (Pandava Gita 70): The moment you forget this great Vasudeva, the pit leading to hell opens. The moment you forget it, you find yourself in trouble. That is a theological and religious way of putting things. There is also a philosophical way and a scientific way of explaining it. The moment you are aware of your inseparability from the process of the evolution of the universe, the whole universe sends a vibration of cooperation and power. You feel energy. The whole thing comes into you, so immediately you feel happy. The moment you feel that you are an individual, the whole thing goes.

An ashramite: But in daily life, how do we get on?

Swamiji: Why are you bringing daily life? Why has this question come now? Is the daily life outside this? Again you are bringing some unnecessary point.

Ashramite: I understand intellectually, but practically it is difficult.

Swamiji: Why is it difficult? You have no time to think like this. Each one should consider this matter. People say, “I am a very busy man. I have no time to sit and do all these things. I have got so much work. Day and night I am working.” Nobody says you should not work. In the Bhagavadgita, Bhagavan Sri Krishna says, “Do work.” But if you say doing work is an obstacle to this kind of thinking which is for your benefit, then why is Lord Krishna telling us to do work, and so on? What is the purpose? There is a great contradiction here.

You must work in the same way as the universe works. Do you say the universal evolution is not working? You cannot move even a finger without that. If you have a feeling inside you that you are perpetually backed up by the force of the evolutionary process and even your fountain pen is held by it only, and your mind is a part of the cosmic mind and all actions are done by it, action becomes meditation and meditation becomes action. They are not two different things. It is only a question of attitude.

Sri Krishna said, “Having been established in the state of yoga, do.” He has not said simply “Do!”, but “After having established yourself in the state of yoga, do.” Though he mentioned it briefly, I am explaining the situation. Therefore, you should not say, “I am very busy.” By foolishly saying that, you are harming your own self. You be busy. Who said you should not be busy?

Great attention of the mind is necessary. You must live in the world and do work in the world as if you are performing a circus feat of walking on a wire. Have you seen people walking on a wire? A little imbalance means they will be down. In some places there are rope bridges across the Ganga. Villagers tie long ropes. Two ropes will be there, and you must walk on them. It will swing, and if you disbalance yourself, you will be down in the Ganga. How much concentration is necessary?

The Upanishads give another example. There is a particular dance in which a lady dances with a pot filled with water on her head. She makes gesticulations, gestures, but she does not forget that there is a pot filled with water on her head. Otherwise, she will go on making gestures and forget that pot. That concentration on the pot on the head is establishment in yoga, and the gestures are the actions. But we do not know what she is thinking in her mind. We are only seeing her gestures.

Lord Krishna is the most active person you can think of. He does not keep quiet even for a minute. Read the life of Sri Krishna in the Bhagavata and the Mahabharata. There was not a time when he was simply sitting and wool-gathering. There was always something going on. “Though I am doing everything, consider that I am doing nothing.” You are doing everything. Nobody denies that you should work. But you are not doing anything, because it is impelled by another force. There is only mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti (B.G. 7.7): “There is nothing external to Me or outside Me. I am doing everything.” Together with that he says, “You do work.”

Now, they look like contradictions. Having said “Nobody does anything except Me”, Sri Krishna says “You should get up, go!” An ordinary commentator will not understand it, and we will also wonder what he is saying, as they seem to be two opposite statements. But the “Do it” applies to an inseparable part of himself only. Arjuna could not understand that, and we also cannot understand what these two opposite statements are. Sri Krishna could not convince Arjuna even till the tenth chapter of the Bhagavadgita. Again and again Arjuna was asking, “But how, but how?” Then Sri Krishna actually demonstrated the unity of things, and Arjuna must have seen himself also inside it, as well as the Kauravas, the Pandavas, and everybody. Now, who is doing what work?

You are disciples, followers, admirers of Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. You are students of yoga, religious people, spiritual aspirants, but you have no time. You say, “Day and night I am working.” What that person says can be appreciated. He is doing hard work, but he is not benefited by his stay in the Ashram. Doing work in the Ashram and for the Ashram may look like a wonderful thing. Everybody praises that person: “See how hard he is working!” But he does not benefit by that action because he complains, “I have got so much work.” If it is a beneficial thing, will he complain? He feels that this is not a proper thing he is doing. One or two departmental heads came and told me, “The whole day I have to work, and at night also. There is no time to attend satsanga.”

You are here in the Ashram, comfortable in every way, not merely to do service and to do good work, but also to have some education to the mind. The Ashram is educating students; one thousand children we are educating, but you are not educating yourselves. You are the same guys as you came. In the house you were also working. You go to the fields, to the office, to the factory, and are very busy. The same thing is here also, but the difference is the mind. In the house you have got attachments to father, mother, sister, husband, wife, relations, uncle, and so many people, always thinking of them only. That attachment is not here. We all love each other. Everyone in the Ashram loves each other and is deeply concerned, but we are not attached to each other. I like you very much, but I am not attached to you and I completely forget you when you go away. But I am still concerned with you. That is God's attitude towards man, we can say.

A manager of the State Bank of India has a lot of money, but he is not attached to that money. But if it is your money, you will think of that only. Now, what is it that causes attachment? Is it the thing? Otherwise, day and night the bank manager will think of the crores of rupees in the safe. He has no such idea at all in his mind, but he will not make even one paise mistake in calculation. He will not say, “What is there? It is not my money. Let it go.” This is how we have to work.

People say, “What is there? It is somebody's work, and I am doing meditation. Why should I do all this stupid work? The work has no connection with me.” It is like the State Bank manager saying, “It is not my money. Why should I drudge unnecessarily? Let it go. If some two hundred rupees go away, what does it matter?” No, like that it cannot be. The State Bank manager is not a foolish man. He cannot lose five rupees, though it is not his money. So the whole problem is the ‘his' and the ‘my'. That is the problem. Even God is not your property; God is not your relation. You are That only, inseparably existing.

Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj used to say, “My disciple who is a yoga student will clean the floor better than a sweeper. He will not allow any dirt to remain, because he is a yogi who is cleaning. If you ask him to clean a vessel, he will see that the vessel is spotlessly clean and shining. And when he speaks, he will speak useful words, beneficial words, measured words, and only when it is necessary to speak. In every field, my disciple will be expert, number one.”

To think like this, you must have time. Though all the time is your time only, since you are beginners and unable to catch up with the speed of the thoughts of the mind, and cannot think in this wonderful way, you think only complaints against somebody. You always think against somebody, against somebody, against somebody. Nobody is good; everybody is bad only. This kind of habit you have created. But to think like this for the immortal benefit of one's own self, for the treasure that you have to carry into the next world, you should not say you have no time.

Well, it is true that even in the midst of all work you may not be able to think like this continuously, but if you cannot train your mind to such an extent that even in the midst of calculating figures you can meditate like this, then what to do? Swami Sivanandaji used to say, “You are an accountant. You know how much concentration is necessary. For half an hour do the calculations, and then put the fountain pen down. Take a breath. Collect yourself. Then start the work again.” It is not that eighteen hours of the day you do calculation and completely forget yourself. But it is easy to forget oneself, so after half an hour's work put the pen down. Even if you are doing cleaning, spadework, digging, for five minutes keep the spade down and take a breath and repeat: Bhagavan Narayana. Then start the work again. If it is not possible to maintain the stability of the mind throughout activity of any kind, because that is a very advanced stage, stop your work now and then and do your concentration for a few minutes, and then continue your work.

If even that is difficult, do work as you are doing it, but for one hour in your day be alone to yourself. When you are a little free for one hour, generally you like to go walking somewhere to the market, and so on. This is not going to benefit you. If you go to Rishikesh and see all the shops and come back, you gain nothing by that. You have wasted your time.

Twenty-four hours you have got, so twenty-three hours you are busy, and one hour is for yourself. What do you do in that one hour? These thoughts must come. Usually it is difficult to think like this. Even if you tell this any number of times, these thoughts will not arise in the mind. Why happiness comes, why unhappiness comes, why poverty comes, why richness comes, why this, why that? These questions arise because you have completely severed yourself from the cosmic process, and from the point of view of that wrong position of separateness from the whole you are arguing, questioning, writing philosophical books, etc. What is the use of philosophical books? They are all written by people who are outside the universal process, and they cannot answer any question. Those people who uttered the words of the Upanishads, for instance, were not professors of philosophy speaking. The Upanishads were expressions of the author's direct experience with this unity of the cosmos, so when you read those sentences, you are simply thrilled. But if you read a textbook of a professor, you will not be as happy as that.

Another ashramite: I have a question.

Swamiji: I have spoken much. What did you understand from what I said? Why are you asking questions when I have answered all your questions? Why are you still existing outside? I told you, you should not exist outside. You are still cutting yourself off. “But,” you will say. People hear all this and then say ‘but'. This ‘but' is the mischief-maker. Okay, tell me what you want to say.

Ashramite: Swamiji told now one should keep silent for five minutes during work or for one hour in the day.

Swamiji: You have got better facility than others because you are a librarian. A librarian has no work, really speaking. It is simply keeping the books, so there you have got no problem. You are not so very handicapped like an accountant. He cannot meditate like that, but you are free. What is your problem? Can you not get five minutes?

Ashramite: It seems that ultimately non-doing is the end.

Swamiji: It is not non-doing, it is unity with doing. Again you are mistaking the point. When the doing becomes your being itself, it ceases to be action. The sun is not doing any action; his very existence is action. The whole universe is trembling before him, but he does not go on giving lectures to people to do this and do that, and so on. Nor does the sun have hands and feet. When action becomes your being itself, it ceases to be action. This is the whole thing. Action and being are not two things. That is why I said meditation and action are identical. Action does not proceed from some aspect of your personality outside; it is an emanation of your being itself. You yourself are entirely moving. The whole person is moving in that action, so the action is you moving. Therefore, who is doing the action? Then nobody is doing the action, and you yourself are sitting there. The whole action is your being. Do you understand me? It is a very subtle point, and very difficult. That is why I said again and again that you must find time to think like this. It is subtle, like mathematics. You cannot understand this.

There is no such thing as action; it doesn't exist. It is a movement of your being itself, actually. But as you have separated yourself from space and time, it looks as if the action is taking place somewhere outside, and you are doing it. “I am doing action,” you are saying, so you are the subject and action is the object. This is not like that. The action is the subject. It is doing itself in the sense that you yourself are involved in that action and you are yourself the action. That is the meaning of Bhagavan Sri Krishna saying, “I am doing everything.” “I am doing everything” means not with the fountain pen, computer, and so on. Lord Krishna does not have any clerk and computer and so on, so how does he do work? He does it simply by his being. The existence itself is action. This is how God works or anybody should work, so you should not have any problems.

Another ashramite: Can we meditate standing up?

Swamiji: Provided you don't fall down, because unless the mind thinks of the legs, the legs cannot move, and if part of the mind goes to the movement of the legs to stabilise the motion, the percentage of mind allotted for concentration or meditation may be comparatively less to that extent. So it is up to you to decide the matter. You cannot give one hundred percent of the mind to the meditation because then your legs will totter.

You can chant a mantra and walk on the road, but you must be cautious of the trucks coming from both sides. Your mind is thinking of some mantra, and a truck hits you from behind. Are you going to be conscious of the movement of trucks, or are you going to be conscious of the mantra? It is not a good habit, especially on the road. You can walk in the jungle; that is all right because there are no trucks there and nobody troubles you, but on the main road where there is traffic, why should you risk your security? Of course, you can just casually have a noble thought, but actual acute concentration cannot be done. And where is the necessity to meditate when walking? Why not sit somewhere? You can sit on the parapet on the roadside and meditate. When you meditate, why are you walking? Where is the urgency?

Ashramite: Unless I am doing some physical work.

Swamiji: Why should you do physical work? Labourers who dig the ground on the road can think, because it is a crude work they are doing. But you have got plenty of time; you are a retired man, so you can sit in the room and meditate. Why do you want to meditate while walking? When you walk, you walk; when you think, you think; when you eat, you eat. Why do two things at the same time? When you eat food, you must think only of the food, not of the railway train and other things, and when you write, you think only of writing. When you meditate, you think only of God. When you walk, you think only of the atmosphere around. You should not think two things at the same time. That is not good. Anything that is done with a hundred-percent concentration will work. Whenever you do anything, you must think only that, not another thing; then it becomes beneficial. So this is my answer.

Life is a progressive process of the evolution of the human individual towards Godhead. That is life. Do you understand what I uttered? A progressive evolutionary process of the individual towards the realisation of the ultimate Godhead—that is life. So take this sentence with you as my gift.