SESSIONS WITH ASHRAM RESIDENTS - 26
Meditating on the Expansion of Consciousness
by Swami Krishnananda


(Spoken on December 21, 1997)

Gods in exile. We are all gods in exile. Our relationship to God is explained in two or three illustrations. One is this exile. We belong to another kingdom, from where we have been thrown out. We belong to the other kingdom. That point must be emphasised. We do not belong to that kingdom into which we have been thrown; we belong to that kingdom from which we have been thrown. That is one illustration. The second that is we have disobeyed God and so He has kicked us out. This is the story in the Bible. Lucifer, an angel, asserted independence and God threw him out into perdition, and kept a flaming sword at the gate of heaven so that he may not come back. He fell headlong. ‘Headlong’ means head below and legs up, like Trishanku in our stories. This headlong falling is mentioned in the Aitareya Upanishad also. The great Viratpurusha spread himself in a multitudinous variety, and in an inexplicable manner each part asserted its independence. We have only to say ‘inexplicable’ because why did it become necessary for the parts to assert independence? The more distant is the part from the centre from where it has come, the greater is the impulse to self-assertion and self-limitation.

The Aitareya Upanishad, which I like very much because it gives the entire story of creation in a very mysterious way, is an Upanishad which nobody reads. People read only the Isa, Kena, Katha Upanishads and they think they have understood everything. The story of creation is in the Aitareya Upanishad. The great cosmic creative personality we call Virat dispersed itself into an endless variety of existences.

There is nothing wrong in fire dispersing itself into millions of sparks because the sparks are nevertheless fire only. So are we sparks of God? If that is the case, we will shine like God. But we do not seem to be shining like gods. So it is not merely the dispersion of the whole into the parts that has taken place; there is a topsy-turvy falling of the parts. This is a very interesting thing that we have to remember. By being told that we are parts of God, we should not be under the impression that we are little gods, that our little brains are little gods thinking. No, it is not like that. We fell headlong, so it became topsy-turvy. The outside looked like the inside, and the inside started looking like the outside.

If you perform sirsasana on the bank of the Ganga and look at Swargashram, all the buildings will look upside down, though they are not like that. Look at yourself in a mirror. The right side looks like the left, the left side looks like the right. This is the illustration of what is called the reflection theory, or the pratibimba vada of the Vedantic doctrine. God is reflected in us; therefore, we look quite different from God. That is, right looks like left, left looks like right, which is another way of saying the universe, which is the first cause, looks like an effect of our perception, and we, who are the last, look like the first. We came last but we look first, and the world came first but it looks afterwards. We look at the world as an effect of our perception whereas the truth is the other way: it is looking at us.

When the Aitareya Upanishad mentions this process of creation, the multitudinous dispersion of the parts of Virat, it also mentions that, simultaneously, these little gods fell headlong because these little dispersed sparks were gods only, just as sparks are fire only. As far as the sparkness is concerned, they are gods. They are divinities, but they fell headlong. Then immediately they felt segregated from the whole. The immediate experience was hunger. These fallen gods were like Trishankus, upside down, and they felt hunger by their dissociation from the whole to which they originally belonged. Call this the separation, consciousness asserting itself. If you are asked why you are very egoistic, what answer can you give? It is a joy to be asserting oneself. “Why should I be with you and share my joy with you? I don’t want to share my joy with you. I will take all my joy for myself only.” That is the assertive capacity of existence. Existence asserts itself as a total completeness, so each person feels, “I am a complete person. I won’t share anything with you. I don’t like you. I also don’t want you to exist in front of me.”

Ashramite: Before separation there was one only, Swamiji. There were no many things there.

Swamiji: The story is that God wanted you to be punished. You can put it like that if you want. The ‘why’ question comes because the effect is asking what the cause of the cause is. The effect cannot know the cause unless it enters the cause. You are asking why your back is not shining. You cannot see your back. You are an effect, and you are trying to find out why the cause has become the effect. Enter the cause, and then you will know the reason. That is called meditation. Hunger, appetite, heat and cold, fear of death – all these came upon the separated part, one upon the other. This is jiva shrishti.

There are two kinds of creation. One is called Ishvara shrishti, and the other is called jiva shrishti. I am quoting a sloka from the Panchadasi. Īkṣaṇādipraveśāntā sṛṣṭirīśena kalpitā, jāgradādivimokṣāntaḥ saṃsāro jīvakalpitaḥ (Panchadasi 7.4): The Universal Being willed. As I told you the other day, it saw with millions of eyes, but it did not see anything because there was nothing outside it to see. You must remember what I said the other day about parallel thinking. Everything sees. Yourself, myself, even the table and the wall, the trees and the mountains, the sun, moon, stars, all are seeing. They are not objects of your perception. They are seeing. So there is only the seer everywhere; there are no seen objects. That total situation of seeing is called cosmic seeing or Virat seeing, Ishvara seeing, Hiranyagarbha seeing, and so on. The moment you consider another centre of seeing as the seen, you are in trouble. So, as I told you the other day, I should not look at you as if you are sitting in front of me. I should see as if you are parallel to me.

Just imagine. Now so many are sitting here. I am looking at them, and they are looking at me. Imagine another situation. All of us are lined up in one line like this, all seeing only one side. That is, no one will see the other. Everyone is completely in a line. Then there will be a complete seeing, everybody seeing, a total seeing, but there will be nothing to be seen. Some such thing is the illustration of Virat seeing. When the headlong falling of the parts took place, hunger and thirst manifested, and the gods cried, “Give us food.” So everybody in the world cries, “Give us food.” The ant wants food, the tree wants food, everybody, even an insect, even a scorpion, everything wants food. Even a bird does not keep quiet. In the early morning it gets up and then finds some way of getting grub. Hunger is the immediate consequence of the fall from the universal whole.

That which sustains is food. From where do we get the food? The food comes from the world. Food is a material object. It consists of earth, water, fire, air and ether. There is nothing but this in the food that we eat. The different tastes and the different relishes, etc., of the foodstuff that we eat are due to the different permutation and combination of one or two of these elements.

Remember, the world of five elements is our parent from where we have come first. The Taittiriya Upanishad is to be remembered here. Tasmād vā etasmād ātmana ākāśas sambhūtaḥ, ākāśād vāyuḥ, vāyor agniḥ, agner āpaḥ, adbhyaḥ pṛithivī, pṛthivyā oṣdhayaḥ oṣadhībhyo annam, annāt puruṣaḥ (T.U. 2.1.1). There was a vacuous extension, as it were, at the time of creation. That vacuous extension is this vast sky that you are seeing. The consciousness of total inclusiveness should be abolished first in order that you may see externality. That is done by the manifestation of space. God consciousness is total inclusiveness, and space is total exclusiveness. It is the opposite of God. You see everything scattered out in distant places. One thing is not connected with another thing. Everything is far away from another thing – that is space. But everything is one with everything – that is God consciousness. If everything is connected to everything, that is God consciousness. If nothing is connected to anything, that is space consciousness. This is what has happened. This is the reason why many religions say God created the world out of nothing. Even in the Rigveda there is a mantra; Skhamba Sukta it is called. What is a scaffolding of this creation? What is the brick and mortar and wood God used for manufacturing this world? A long, long sukta is there in the Atharvaveda, called the Skhamba Sukta. What is the pillar of this universe? What is the material out of which the world has come? Since no material was there, religions started proclaiming that God created the world out of nothing. If nothing is the cause of this world, the world itself becomes nothing. There is no substance in anything in this world. It is like a balloon. That is a side issue.

Now, coming to the point, the hunger that we feel is due to the separation of the foodstuff, the separation of ourselves from the foodstuff. The foodstuff is the earth, water, fire, air, ether, from where we have come. So we are craving for the very thing from which we are cut off. That is called hunger. We grab anything and throw it into our stomach, under the impression that it absorbs into itself the thing from which it has been cut off. But every day there will be hunger. It will not satisfy itself because however much you may throw these five elements into your mouth, they will not get identified with yourself. The food is always outside you. It is capable of nourishing the physical body, the prana, the indriyas, the manas, the buddhi, etc., but it cannot satisfy the Self. The Self cannot be satisfied with anything that is thrust into it from outside. The Self is itself, so another thing thrust into itself cannot satisfy it. So with any amount of eating, you will still be unhappy only.

This is what has happened during creation: hunger. “Give me that from where I have been thrown out” is what the hunger is saying.  All right, you will be given it, provided you really want it. Who wants it? Your self should want it. The self, if it asserts itself as an independent thing, cannot come to you. Sarvaṁ tam parādād yo'nyatrātmano sarvaṁ veda (B.U. 2.4.6): Everything will run away from you if you consider it as outside yourself. That is why there is no friend in this world, because you are considering the friend as an outside object. However closely related he may be to you – your own brother, which is the closest relation you can think of – he is an independent individual. Your brother will not enter into you. He is standing outside through space. I mentioned just now that space segregates everything. The closest relationship is cut off. Brother and brother, father and son, husband and wife are artificially connected as if they are relatives, but they are really segregated by space. Space is the Ravana, and time is the Kumbhakarna. They will not give you peace of mind.

When we are hungry and thirsty, we are asking for earth and water. Why are we asking for earth and water? Because we are made up of earth and water. We are asking for the substance out of which we have been made but have been separated by space. That is the reason why even if you eat the earth and the water principle in this world, the separating principle of space will not permit you to be satisfied. So till death you have to go on eating, and even then there is not going to be satisfaction. You have to overcome space and time in order that you may get back to that original state from where you have been thrown. Then the gates of heaven will be opened.

Rama had to defeat Kumbhakarna and Ravana both. I gave an example: Ravana and Kumbhakarna are this space and time. Formidable enemies, they will never allow you to think correctly. Everything is outside for us. Don’t you think it is like that? Everything is outside; there is nothing inside us. This is what the space is telling you; and time is telling you, “Fellow, I will destroy you one day.” The fear of death comes. The sense of limitation and helplessness is due to the space operating in a distracting manner, and the fear of destruction and death is due to the time process. Time is the all-devouring destroyer.

The Yoga Shastra is the art of defying this segregating act of space, and the death instinct of time. As I mentioned to you the other day, the art of yoga should be fully learned. Yoga is union. You cannot unite yourself with anything as long as space is there. One sand particle cannot get identified with another sand particle. They are all isolated. One leaf is not like another leaf on the tree. Everything is separate. How will you overcome the segregating function of space? When spatial distance is overcome, time will also go. They go together. When one goes, the other goes. How will you defy space?

Open your eyes, and then you will get all things. This is one method I am mentioning, among many others. Feel that you are seated here, and feel that you are also seated next to yourself. Feel that you are midway between yourself and another person. I am not making a joke; it is actually a fact. You cannot know that you are separate from another person unless your consciousness is operating between the two persons. Who told you that you are different from me? My consciousness itself is saying that. How did my consciousness go so far away to you to know that you are far away? It is moving between the two also, so the seer and the seen are connected by a process of seeing, which is consciousness. I am here, and I am there which looks like a seen object, and I am also there between the two. I am there also. The process of seeing also is my self. Pramat, pramana and prameya: subject, object and relation. Bring them together. Club two things into one thing.

In Western thought, some philosophers consider this process as position, opposition and synthesis. “I like you.” When I say that, I accept that you are different from me; otherwise, I cannot like you. Suppose you are yourself me. Then there is no meaning, there is no need to say that I like you. So there is a hypocrisy involved in this statement “I like you” because you cannot really like a person unless he is yourself only, and knowing that he is totally outside, you are saying “I like you”. You are telling this to every object in the world; therefore, total hypocrisy is prevailing in your asking for any object of desire, and they also know that because, as I already mentioned, everything sees. So your hypocrisy will be reflected there. Sarvaṁ tam paraded… It will say, “No, I will run away from you. You consider me as an object, so I go away from here.” Everything will run away. Friends will run away – father, mother, sister, husband, wife – everybody will run away from you. Nobody will come near you because you are thinking that they are outside you. Anything that is outside you is not yours. Nothing is yours. It is complete foolishness, the asking for anything other than yourself.

But your consciousness is pervading between the two, and it is pervading between three, between four, five, a hundred, and millions – the whole universe – so where are you sitting? You are sitting in the entire cosmos as the total integrating consciousness of creation. This is again coming to the point of Virat. Meditate like this. Read the Eleventh Chapter of the Bhagavadgita. Paśya me pārtha rūpāṇi śataśotha sahastraśaḥ (B.G. 11.5) Krishna tells Arjuna: Look at Me. Nānāvidhāni divyāni nānāvarṇākṛtīni ca: Everything is here. The person to whom I am speaking also is here with me.

Learn the art of beholding without feeling a necessity of an object that is to be beheld. Try to wrench your personality from this location of being seated on the earth to another location. This is one of the sutras in Patanjali. Bahih akalpita vrittih maha-videha tatah prakasha avarana ksayah (Y.S. 3.43): Wrench yourself away from yourself and place yourself in another place. Can you sit here and feel that you are sitting in Swargashram just now? Great willpower is necessary. Feel you are running away from this body. You are sitting in Swargashram and looking at yourself here. You are here only. You are seeing only the body of this person here, but you are not here. You are on the other side of Ganga. Feel deeply, “I am on the other side of Ganga just now. I am on the other side of Ganga.” You can feel the earth on the ground. You can feel the cement bench of Swargashram. “I am seated there. What am I seeing? I am seeing my body here which is in Sivananda Ashram.” Go on thinking like that. “Not Swargashram. I am a little further away than that, far away. I am in Kanyakumari just now.” Think like that. Go on feeling you are flying, flying away from this body. From Kanyakumari you are looking back into the Sivananda Ashram. This practice will gradually make the consciousness detach itself from this body. The one who is sitting in Kanyakumari is your consciousness, and what that consciousness sees in the Sivananda Ashram is the body.

How will you do this? “What is the meaning of consciousness?” you may ask me. “How to separate consciousness from the body?” Here is an example. There is the slough of a snake. The snake throws off its outer garb, called its slough. What it does is, at the time of casting off its slough it will move between two trees which are close to each other, and it will wriggle back and forth, and the whole snake will come out; even the mouth, the eyes and everything will be there. You will think it is the snake only. Now, something has come out of that slough. What has come out? Is it the snake that has come out, or the soul? Can you say it is the soul of the snake that has come out, or only the snake? So when a person dies, what goes out? Is it the soul that goes out, or you yourself are going? It is just like that. It is not the soul that is going; you have gone. In order to know that it is you that are going, remember this example of the snake. The snake soul is not coming out; the snake itself is coming out.

This body is like a slough, really. Because of the tremendous identity of the snake with the slough, the slough also looks like the snake only. You cannot distinguish them. Because of the tremendous identity of ourselves with this slough body, the body looks like me. So because of the inveterate attachment to the slough of the body, we conceive death as something passing away from ourselves. It is not like that. The something is not passing away from ourselves; we are going. I am going. Can you imagine this? Don’t say “My soul is going”. Say “I am going”. This is impossible to think because of your identification with this body. The snake is saying “The slough is me”. It is a terrible thing to remember this. “I am going. Where will I go? I will go to that place which I am thinking just now. I have already created my abode elsewhere by thinking it just now.”

Now, so many are sitting here. What are you thinking just now? Are you thinking of that place where you want to go? What are you thinking? Can anybody answer this question? Is anybody thinking now of that place which you want to reach? You are thinking something. That is the place where you go. Be careful. Don’t think it’s a joke.

Ashramite: I am thinking just now, Swamiji, this body will not be there.  When the pot is broken, there is no going and coming.

Swamiji: No, the body is not broken. The pot itself goes, the whole thing. The entire pot goes. The pot cannot break. Then you are saying the snake is broken. The snake cannot break. The whole thing comes out.

Ashramite: The idea of sukshma sharira, Swamiji, subtle body. . .

Swamiji: You yourself are the sukshma sharira. You are unnecessarily reading books and confusing yourself. There is no need of sukshma and all that. “I am coming just now.” Who is saying that? Is the sukshma sharira speaking, or are you speaking, or is the buddhi speaking? Who is speaking? Are the sense organs speaking? There is no such thing. “I am coming.” You do not say “The subtle body is coming”.

Ashramite: Everything is included, Swamiji.

Swamiji: So you must say, “Everything included is coming.” [Laughter] Such attachment it is. You don’t say the mind is coming, the conglomeration of sense organs and buddhi and Atman is coming. You say, “I am coming.” This is the thing that will take you to that place that you are thinking of. If you say “I am coming”, you have accepted that you are there, and you will go to that place which you are thinking now. Nobody is binding you; nobody is liberating you. Your thought is binding you, and your thought is liberating you. It is a matter which everybody should think. Just now we can breathe our last. It is possible. If you do, the whole thing goes. Where do you go? You will go to the same place which you are thinking just now.

What is anybody thinking just now, at this moment? You are thinking of the lunch bell? What are you thinking? There is some basic thinking. You may be thinking of lunch and some work, but these are minor thoughts. You have got a basic thought. The basic thought is “I am Swami Krishnananda”. That is the basic thought. That I want to eat food and I want to sleep, that is a secondary thought. Now, what do you mean by saying “I am Swami Krishnananda”? This is the whole point. What do you mean by that sentence? Where is that person? What are you talking about? “I am this, I am that,” you are saying. Where is that person? Is it the slough the person, or is something else inside?

Ashramite: Consciousness.

Swamiji: Now I am coming to the point. I am dragging your mind here and there to make your mind concentrated. Now you are in Kanyakumari. The snake has gone to Kanyakumari, and the slough is in Sivananda Ashram. Let the snake think like that. “I have removed the slough.” The snake has moved to Kanyakumari. If you don’t like the word ‘snake’, think of some angel, whatever it is. Why Kanyakumari? “I am there in the sun. I am sitting in that blazing orb and looking at myself as a slough here in Sivananda Ashram.” Go up, go up, go up to the centre of the cosmos. “I am in Vaikuntha, I am in Kailasha, I am in Brahmaloka.” You may consider anything.

Scientists say there was a thing called the Big Bang. The universe was an atom, a bindu. Tantra Shastra, Agama Shastra says the whole universe was like a spot, a small thing. It was not so big as this. It expanded with a bang, the Big Bang. “I am in that place where I was before the Big Bang took place. How many kilometres away, how many light years away? I am sitting just now in that place where I was before the Big Bang took place. So far! From there I am seeing myself here.” Patanjali’s System mentions in one sutra: Throw yourself out of yourself into distant space. Practice meditation for a long time. You will feel gradually detached from this body and you will feel you are somewhere else.

If this practice can be continued in respect of everything else, you will feel not only that you are somewhere else, but you are everywhere, everywhere. When you are everywhere, you are also everything. Look at the happiness you will feel at that time. You will feel as if you are the Creator Himself. “I am the Supreme Absolute, before creation. I have wrenched my consciousness away from this slough and stationed myself at that Supreme Centre. From there I am beholding the whole universe. I am seeing the world in the same way as God is seeing it.” We are seeing the world, and God also must be seeing it. But is there any difference between us seeing and God seeing? We will see it spread out outside in space, but God will not see anything spread outside in space. He will see Himself only, expanded. His ananda, His bliss, is spilling out everywhere like ocean drops spilling themselves everywhere helter-skelter when the waves dash one over the other. Many people think that creation is nothing but the joy of God manifesting itself. Ānandādd hy eva khalv imāni bhūtani jāyante (T.U. 6.1). The Taittiriya Upanishad says: All the beings are created out of the bliss of God. We are basically centres of bliss, not centres of sorrow. Ānandādd anandena jatani jivanti. We are living due to the bliss only. We enter also into that. From the bliss of God you have come, by the bliss of God you are living, and into the bliss of God you will return. Life is bliss. Life is not sorrow, life is joy. God is joy, and God cannot create any kind of evil in front of us. This wrenching oneself away from the centre and imagining oneself scattered somewhere in distant space, that is the evil.

Yoga is a difficult art. Every Sunday we discussed these matters, but for another seven days nobody bothers about all this. We think something else. Jñātuṁ draṣṭuṁ ca tattvena praveṣṭuṁ ca paraṁtapa (B.G. 11.54): It is necessary to know it – jñātuṁ; it is necessary to see it – draṣṭuṁ; it is necessary to enter into it – praveṣṭuṁ. Arjuna saw, Arjuna knew what it was, but he never entered into it. That is the whole difference. So he came back in the same way as a person who took a bath in a reservoir of nectar came back the same old person. Now we are thinking of entering into it. The mind refuses to think like this. When I say “entering into it”, the ‘it’ comes as something outside somewhere. We should not use the words ‘you’, ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, and so on. There is no such thing as he, she, it, you, because everything is me only. Will anybody refer to oneself as he, she, it? These words are used because you have isolated yourself from them and completely cut them off, and you want a benefit from them. How would you benefit from anybody when you say ‘he, she, it’? You don’t want to be called an ‘it’.

Nothing can be had in this world because you are alienating everyone as an it and as something else, and disconnecting yourself from that. This space principle again comes and says, “I will not allow you to obtain anything in this world.” To defy space, this is a method of meditation I am telling you, placing yourself far away, far away, far away, far away. You can even imagine that you have crossed the boundaries of space. Only seeing will be there. Salila eko draṣṭādvaito bhavati (B.U. 4.3.32): Like an ocean you become at that time. Eṣa brahma-lokaḥ, samrāḍ iti; hainam anuśaśāsa yājñavalkyaḥ. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Yajnavalkya says, “This is Brahmaloka, the centre of Brahman.” Eṣāsya paramā gatiḥ: This is the abode of everybody. Eṣāsya paramā sampat: This is the greatest treasure. Eṣo'sya paramo lokaḥ: This is the greatest achievement. All the worlds will come to you. Eṣo'sya parama ānandaḥ: This is the supreme bliss. “You have attained this,” Yajnavalkya tells Janaka. Janaka falls down at the feet of Yajnavalkya. “Here I am, with my whole kingdom, at your feet, and myself also as your servant.” Janaka was so impressed by this teaching that he said, “The whole kingdom is at your feet now, and I myself am a servant. Speak to me more, great Master.”

Yo vai bhūmā tat sukham (C.U. 7.23.1). Sanatkumara is speaking to Narada. That inclusiveness, bhūmā, is happiness. What is that? Yatra nānyat paśyati (C.U. 7.24.1): Where you don’t have to see anything outside you; yatra nānyac chṛṇoti: there is nothing that you have to hear; yatra nānyad vijānāti: there is nothing for you to understand; sa bhūmāAtha yatrānyat paśyati: Where you see something outside; yatra anyac chṛṇoty: where you are hearing something; yatra anyad vijānāti: understanding something else; tad alpam: that is mortal. Yo vai bhūmā tat sukham.

Sa evādhastāt sa upariṣṭāt sa paścāt sa purastāt sa dakṣiṇataḥ sa uttarataḥ, sa evedaṃ sarvam iti (C.U. 7.25.1): It is to the right, to the left, to the top, to the bottom, to the front and to the rear. Sa evedaṃ sarvam: That alone is. When you say ‘that’, you are not separately sitting outside. The gates of heaven will open, and God will withdraw the flaming sword. The exiled man will go back, and he will be received with great joy. We need not be exiled always. Why should we be exiles? Because of our ahamkara, we have become exiles.

So let this meditation continue. Whatever work you are doing, whatever you are talking, whatever you are seeing, let this background of thought be maintained. Just as I mentioned to you, whatever you may be doing and seeing, you will not forget that you are this person. You should not say, “I have no time to think like that.” Why do you want time to think like this? To think the basic truth, you say, “I have no time. I am very busy.” Why are you able to think that you are so-and-so? Have you got time to think like that? There is no time for that; it is yourself only. So there is no need of time. People unnecessarily complain, “I have no time to think of God. I am doing hard work.” What kind of hard work are you doing? You forget your own self and then do hard work. Is it possible? This is all a misplaced complaint.

Ashramite: The other things are not united, Swamiji.

Swamiji: If you don’t want them to unite, they will not unite. You are telling them “Don’t unite”, so they say “Okay, I will go away”. Gṛhīta iva keśeṣu mṛtyunā dharmam ācaret (Hitopadesha 1.3): You must think of this as if death has come and caught hold of your choti. At that time what will you think? And any time it will do like this, catch your choti, so you should not say, “Come afterwards, I am busy.” Will you say that? Be prepared now. Yoga is a perpetual activity of your existence. Your existence itself is meditating.