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Sessions with Ashram Residents
by Swami Krishnananda

Session 24: Becoming the Whole Universe

Swamiji: You cannot go behind the seen unless you become that seen itself.

An ashramite: What is the process of becoming it? Is it meditation only, or any other thing?

Swamiji: Suppose you want to become me. What willyou do?

Ashramite: I would think deeply about you and always contemplate you only.

Swamiji: Not only knowledge, but also the whole body, the shape, the circumstance, the nose, eyes, head, everything. You have to become me entirely. Like that you become with everything. Then your question is answered immediately. The question itself will finish in one second.

Ashramite: What is samadhi?

Swamiji: You become that which you are thinking in your mind. You will never be satisfied under any circumstance unless you become that which you want. This is the whole story of samadhi. You can become anything, anything at all. There is nothing which you cannot become, because originally you were everything. Once upon a time you were everything, and now again you have to be that. In the middle you got into some entanglement, unfortunately, for some reason which nobody understands. Once upon a time we were everything, and now we have to be everything once again. Until that is achieved, no amount of doing, accumulating and becoming wealthy and powerful, nothing will help you because all that you get in the form of possession of wealth, property, land, authority, they are not yourself. They are something which you want to possess. That which you want to possess cannot be yourself. Until you possess yourself, you will not get anything. This idea cannot enter into the mind of any person because the human mind is not made like that. It requires being told again and again, again and again, again and again, by a person who thinks like that and who will go on saying that, and nothing will help you in doing it except satsanga with a great saint and sage, whoever he is, who thinks like this and who has no other thought in his mind except this.

Ashramite: There is a saying that you should make yourself so powerful or so indispensable that God will ask you, “Let me know what you want.”

Swamiji: This is true spirituality. You have to become so powerful that God should come to you and ask you what you want. Can you draw God into yourself? That is called spirituality. You should not run after God; God should run after you. Now, here is a great point. Is it possible for you to make God run after you? Then you are really spiritual; otherwise, it is shaking. You must feel inside, “I can call Him.” But you say, “No, it is all futile. It is not possible. He will not come. He will give nothing to me.”

Activity is also meditation only. You should not say that activity is not meditation. If you think that activity is different from meditation, it would mean that you have understood nothing of the Bhagavadgita. How will you take activity as identical with meditation? Paśya me pārtha rūpāṇi śataśo'tha sahastraśaḥ, nānāvidhāni divyāni nānāvarṇākṛtīni ca (B.G. 11.5); mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti (B.G. 7.7): “See Me. Within Me all activity is taking place. My existence and My activity are identical. My being is spreading itself externally, as it were, as activity.” It is difficult to conceive how your being will go out of yourself in the form of the field of activity. That is the whole point of this higher self and lower self. When the lower self moves out, as it were, into the higher self, it becomes spiritual activity, and it is meditation also. Now, when saying 'moves out', one must be very careful. It is not actually going out; it is going to a larger area of one's own self.

The other day a visitor here said, “I cannot think God.” Then I told him, “Okay, you sit. You are two feet wide, but go on thinking that you are three feet wide, you are five feet wide. Go on intensely feeling that you have become so wide. Your body has become ten feet wide. You are big in width. You have become one hundred feet wide. You have become so wide that you are touching the mountain there. You should not simply say this; you must also feel it: 'I have become still wider. I am touching all space. My body has become so big that I am touching the stars. All the field of activity is included within me because I have become so big. In order to work, there must be a field, but the field has gone inside me because I have become so big. I have become so big, as big as space itself. See how big I am! The whole universe is me.'”

Now we come to the point. Think: “I have become so big that I am as big as the universe itself. So if I do anything, where am I doing it? I am doing it within myself only. Therefore, activity is being. Action and meditation are the same thing. Meditation is the consciousness that I am, and activity is the consciousness that I do, but here the two things merge together because I am doing it within myself only.” This is what Bhagavan Sri Krishna is telling us: “See, I am doing everything Myself. I am everywhere, and doing everything Myself.”

This little humorous instruction that I gave to this young man satisfied him so much. It shook him completely. Without going into any scripture or anything, in a humorous way I told him, “See, are you meditating now on God? This is God. The biggest thing is God, and you have become that. What is the difficulty?” “Oh, oh, oh,” he said. He was satisfied.

Ashramite: It means he has become infinite.

Swamiji: So what you are doing is not outside you; the whole point is that. If you say what you are doing is outside you, it is a bondage. If you are doing it inside you, how will that become a bondage? You yourself are going within yourself, like the ocean moving within itself as the waves. So why do you complain?

People are very busy every day in some department of work or the other, though they have time in their own rooms after their work is over. They can do their prayer, meditation, etc. Still, the mind is not fully clear in matters which are beyond human perception, which is the field of spirituality, really speaking. And that requires a little bit of discussion and self-analysis, etc. However much you may pray and offer worship, the mind is cleverer still. It can fool you with its clever methods and make you feel that you are experiencing something which is quite different from what you are actually expecting.

When a person takes to spiritual practice, in the earlier stages there will be no symptom of any progress, as if nothing is happening. It will be a daily routine, like a cart moving on a road, with no conscious feeling of the advance. If you do worship and prayer without concentration of mind, then you will feel nothing. But if you are at right earnest and persist in concentration of the mind, and if your heart is present in that prayer and worship that is offered, especially meditation, you will feel some symptoms taking place inside.

People think that some joyous experience will follow. It is not necessarily like that. Joy does not follow in the beginning. In the beginning, the psychophysical organism which is what we call the body resents the practice, just as truant children do not want to go to school though it is intended for their welfare. I have seen some children like that. They go halfway to the school, sit on a parapet the whole day, and come back home saying that they have gone to school. They don't want to go to school because they think it is a nuisance, and they don't want that. Though education is a very great blessing and there is no point in being truant and sitting on a parapet, the usual habit of carefree living resents any kind of discipline such as education, study, etc.

So is the case with meditation. The mind of a human being never meditates. It could never do that. It is like a honeybee or a fly, rather, that moves from place to place finding its grub. When it is not satisfied with what it seeks in a particular place, it will fly to another place. If anyone is careful enough to notice the activity of the mind in one day, it will be seen that it has never paid full attention to anything. It was just flitting from one thing to another thing. Attention is something unknown to a careless and carefree mind.

Meditation is nothing but attention. This moving from one thing to another thing is not permitted in meditation. If you persist in paying attention to one thing only, which is the essence of meditation, for some time you will not feel anything. Some exercise is going on. This is a very subtle point. In meditation, we are not thinking of what we see in the world. The mind is very happy in seeing things in the world. We go to the marketplace and go on looking around, and go on seeing everything without paying good attention to anything.

The mind resents the thought of the presence of something which is beyond its comprehension, and spiritual meditation is just that. Spiritual meditation is the attempt of the consciousness to centralise itself in something which is beyond itself. Anything that is beyond you is a step in the direction of spirituality. Religion is the asking for what is beyond you. It is not Hinduism, Sikhism, and so on. These ideas of religion should be given up.It is a longing for something which is beyond you and above you. You look up—of course, there is no need of physically looking up, but the mental habit of being frightened by what is beyond one's comprehension is manifest in a physical gesture of looking up. When you pray to God you do like this [Swamiji looks upward]. It is not that God is sitting above us; it doesn't mean that. But the body and mind are so intimately connected with each other that what the mind does, the body also does. If the mind feels it is deeply concerned with something above itself, the body also cooperates with this thought and looks up, as if that which is above is in the skies. We say God is in heaven, high heaven. This is a physical gesture exhibited by the body in collaboration with the mental effort to conceive what is beyond itself, which is the God of religion.

Now, when we speak of the God of religion, we must be very careful what we actually mean. Any degree of reality which is beyond the level in which you are is your God. Humorously considering, we may say the boss is the God of the subordinate. But there is a difference between a boss and a subordinate in this comparison. The relationship between the boss and the subordinate is horizontal. Both are sitting on a chair; one is on this side, the other is on that side. But God is not by your side, He is just above you. It is not a horizontal aboveness, but a vertical aboveness. This is a very troublesome way of thinking, that there is something above you not in a physical, geometrical or physical sense, but in a frighteningly blessed sense. A blessing can sometimes be frightening.

Suppose there is a poor man who has a windfall. He receives a message that he is going to get a hundred million dollars. It will be a frightening blessing to him. He will be shocked. He cannot imagine what it actually is. This is a jocular comparison. Likewise, here also the conception of what is above us is to be properly analysed. That which is above us is not merely vertically above us, but it is also horizontally beyond us. It is an expanded being, comparable to an imagined situation where we have become larger persons than we are at present.

Only analogies can explain this fact. They cannot be explained logically. This 'higher than oneself' can be explained analogically, as is taught in kindergarten, by the concept of your being getting wider and wider, larger and larger and higher and higher, so that you begin to encompass the atmosphere around you until you touch the skies, as it were. You have become as large as the sky. Go on thinking like this: “I have become so big as the sky.” But you should not think that the sky is outside you, because then it becomes an object. This spiritual concept is an inwardness, and not merely an externality. You can think of the sky even now, but this is not meditation because this sky is outside you and you are inside the sky. You should not think like that. The sky should be your own embodiment, so that you yourself are the sky. This is humanly not possible. You cannot think that you are something other than what you are, but meditation is just this technique. It is an intense concentration on a situation which is totally different from what your present condition is.

In some of the yoga scriptures, such as Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, childlike instructions are given to make one feel happier and stronger, such as: meditate on an elephant. Meditating on an elephant does not mean looking at the elephant. You can see an elephant on the road and go on looking at it, and it also looks like some meditation, but it doesn't mean that. Meditation, spiritually speaking, psychologically speaking, is the assuming of the very personality of that object in oneself. You yourself are the elephant. Patanjali Maharishi, in his sutra, says baleṣu hasti balādīni (Y.S. 3.25). It will look very humorous to hear all this, to think of the elephant being identified with yourself. You are not actually thinking of the elephant's trunk, but of the strength of the elephant and the carefree movement of the elephant, the fearlessness of the elephant. So meditation on the elephant does not mean meditating on the huge legs and the large body and the trunk, etc. That is to stretch the analogy too far, to the breaking point. Meditating on the elephant means you have the strength of the elephant. It is not the elephant, but the strength of the elephant, the fearlessness of the elephant, the courage of the elephant, and the carefree movement of the elephant. “Nobody can come near me.” Go on feeling like this.

Patanjali's sutra says by this meditation of conceiving of a larger than yourself, energies from the five elements will flow into you. What is the strength of the elephant? The earth, water, fire, air and space principles which are present in everyone's body are present in the elephant in a greater proportion. Because of the greater proportion of the presence of these elements in the body of the elephant, it looks heavier, larger, stronger, etc. By the concentration on the features of the elephant, you will draw the potential forces of the very elements—earth, water, fire, air and ether—into yourself, and you will feel the strength. When you walk on the road, you will feel a huge elephant is walking. You will not feel that you are walking with an elephant's trunk in front of you.

When you compare one thing with another thing, you must know the spirit behind it, and not take the comparison literally. People say the world and God are related to each other as a snake seen in the rope is related to the rope, and so the Ultimate Reality is like a rope, and the world is like a snake. This analogy is a philosophical comparison; one is superimposed on the other, but it does not mean that the Ultimate Reality is long like a rope. I am just mentioning the spirit of analogy. You must think not of the literal meaning, but only of the spirit.

So feel the energy of the elephantine existence. Why an elephant? Meditate: “The whole Earth is me.” In the Upanishads we have instructions on meditations of this kind. You can imagine what the earth is like. Everybody who knows some astronomy and geography knows what the Earth is like. You can see in a picture how the Earth is. Here, you don't only see the Earth; you yourself are the Earth. Strongly imagine that you are revolving around the sun. You are not sitting in Delhi, not in Rishikesh; you are in mid-space, revolving around the Sun. Oh, how big! All the population of the Earth is strung on you. All meditations are strange techniques. It is a mystical exercise, and ordinary people cannot understand that. Then you go up beyond the Earth and the planetary system and the sun and the moon and the stars. “The whole space-time complex is me.” Even now you can see space outside you. But you should not think the space; you yourself are the space. This is the difference between perceiving something and being something. You can perceive anything, but you cannot be that. This is the difference between meditational techniques and ordinary sensory operations in perception.

Miracles will take place by this kind of concentration. You might have heard that what you think you are, that you really are. There are people who perform miracles. We generally imagine that a miracle is something which is not natural. But a miracle is not an unnatural performance, it is a natural occurrence. What nature does spontaneously through its evolutionary process is done by a saint by assuming the processes of evolution in himself or herself. You feel the whole universe is evolving. You are not seeing the evolution of the universe; you yourself are the universe evolving. Think at this moment: “I am the whole universe evolving. Like waves in the ocean, I am dashing against my own self. I am bathing myself with myself, as the ocean does. I have become very expansive. I have assumed cosmic proportions. I am the whole cosmos. All the energy potential and content of the cosmos is scintillating through every pore of my person.”

When Lord Krishna showed the Vishvarupa, as is described in the Bhagavadgita, the whole cosmos started jetting forth from his personality. You will be wondering how it is possible. It is possible because there was no Lord Krishna at that time. The consciousness that was animating the personality of Lord Krishna entered the whole cosmos and projected itself in outer space before other people, and that became the Vishvarupa.

Do meditation like this. You can also give darshan to other people because you are as much a part of this wondrous existence as Lord Krishna himself is. The only thing is, he is nearer to the reality than you are, and so you find it simply impossible. Anything is possible to anyone as everyone is an heir apparent to the energy of the cosmos, so nobody is a poor nothing; nobody is a weakling. Everybody is a friend of the whole world, and the world is a friend of everybody. Meditate: “All the energy of the whole world is flowing through me. My cells are vibrating with the particles of nature, of all space and time, of the sun, moon and stars.” It is said that when the Vishvarupa was shown by Sri Krishna, the sun and moon and stars were all shining through his body. One eye was the sun and another eye was the moon, and so on, it is said. It doesn't mean the sun and the moon dropped down and entered into his body. They were there as they were, but when Krishna became the embodiment of the whole creation, the sun and moon looked like his eyes. Can anybody think like this? This is a shortcut to spiritual experience as a quick achievement, but it requires a very strong mind. People cannot meditate if they have a feeble mind, are very poor in thought and willpower, and always feel, “I am not good. This is not all right.” Everyone who is born in this world has the capacity of the whole world.

An advanced spiritual seeker is capable of adjusting himself to any condition. He can sit with a beggar, he can sit with a king, he can sit with a prime minister, he can sit with a president, he can sit with schoolchildren, he can sit with anybody and he will be quite able to adjust himself to their condition. How wonderful to think all these things! It is very difficult to imagine.

Yoga is not an easy thing. A herculean effort is necessary. Some chanting, reading, temple-going and taking bath in a holy river are not the true religion that one must aspire for. Such religions are many in the world. They are like commodities from the market. You can get any religion from a shop. This is like playing with toys. “I went there and took a bath. I saw this temple and murti.” You may go on saying like that and then die one day, that's all. Nothing will happen.

This is an uncanny, veiled way of thinking of yogis. Ordinary men will not think like that. It is the art of touching truth, the truth of the cosmos. We are living in untrue circumstances now. They are all appearing to take place outside us, but nothing takes place outside. Everything takes place everywhere. All action, all events, all circumstances are cosmic. Every event is a cosmic event. We think that something is happening somewhere, but it is not happening there; it is happening everywhere. A pain felt in one part of the body is a pain felt by the whole body.

Do you know what is moksha? What is moksha, according to your idea? What happens to you when you attain moksha? You will do better work at that time than what you do now. You can work miracles at that time.

There was a king in Madurai, and near the city of Madurai there is a river. Once there was a flood, such a ravaging flood that it threatened to destroy the palace of the king. In those days the kings were tyrants. If they uttered one word, everybody had to follow. They were the judges and they were the police. They were themselves everything. Because of the ravaging water, the king ordered that every house in his kingdom should depute one person to build a bund in order to prevent flooding. People had to come because of fear of the king. Hundreds and hundreds of people came to build the bund. The king passed an edict that not even one house should shirk from following this order or they would be punished.

In one house there was an old lady living alone, who had nothing. She was very poor. She could not follow this edict because she had no one to send.

A boy came running. “Is there any job for me?” he asked.

“Well, a job is there. You see, the king ordered that we have to do this work. But I have nothing to give you for payment,” replied the lady.

“Give me whatever you have got,” said the boy.

“I have only dosa,” she said.

“Give. That is sufficient for me. I will work. What is the work?” asked the boy.

“You go and build the dam there, participate,” she said.

“I will do it,” he said. And he went and put some mud on the bund, and then ran back.

“Give me dosa,” again he said.

“Why you have come? The king will be angry,” said the old lady.

“No, no. I will do the work,” the boy replied.

“You go!” she said.

Again he went and took a little piece of stone, not a big stone like the others, and threw it at the bund, and came back. “Give another dosa,” he said.

The king was so angry. “Who is this stupid boy? From whose house is he coming?” The king took a whip and struck the boy on the back. The king felt that pain on his back so intensely that he thought that he was beating himself, and all the hundreds of people felt the pain as if somebody had thrown a stone on their backs. They shook. What was this lash? The king struck the boy, and the pain was felt by everyone simultaneously.

Then what the boy did was, he took a little mud and threw it, and the whole bund was built, a strong bund. Hundreds of people, thousands of people could not do anything, but this one boy did it because he was Lord Siva. He came to teach a lesson to the arrogant king. What thousands of engineers cannot do, God can do. In one instant He created the whole world.

There are wonderful things which everybody should know. Shakespeare says in his play Hamlet that there are more things in heaven and earth than philosophy dreams of. You may know philosophy, you may know religion, but there is something more than all that you know. There are wonders everywhere. Everywhere eyes, everywhere light, everywhere grace, everywhere happiness, everywhere bliss is pervading. That is the wonder of this world. God has not created mud and stone; He has created Himself. Where is mud for God? This world came from God only. All these mountains and rivers, the sun, moon and stars came from God. We say the earth is made of mud, stone, and so on, but do you believe that stones come from God's body? There are no stones, actually. There is no mud, also. It is a wrong perception of something that makes it look like mud. It is thought that a brick pillar cannot contain God inside it, but Narasimha came out from a brick pillar. God is present in mud also, in baked brick. He can burst forth from an atom. That is the significance of sarvantaryami, omnipresence.

All this can have some meaning and be appreciated only if you carry on meditation every day. You must think only this. You should not say you have no time. This excuse has no meaning because thought does not require time. Doing work requires time, but thinking is not an activity. It is a process of being itself. It is like saying you have no time to be yourself. You should not say that, because meditation is nothing but being yourself in a higher sense.