SESSIONS WITH ASHRAM RESIDENTS - 29
Our Participation in an Organisation of Divinities
by Swami Krishnananda
(Spoken on January 8, 1998)
There are bees which produce honey. They do not have any house to stay at any particular place. They have no property, they have no furniture, they have no clerical staff, but they form a wonderful organisation whose product is the most beautiful honey. Without any kind of external apparatus, by sheer dint of a cooperative spirit among themselves, they bring about a result which is astounding – honey, in comparison with which there is nothing in this world.
What an organisation is, we have to learn from honeybees. They are very active and working hard continuously for the production of a common entity called honey, without any place or location for themselves. They can be spread out in various places, but they can join together at the call or the behest of an order which is of a mysterious nature. You may even say it is a mystical organisation.
Ants are also a wonderful organisation, to which nobody pays any attention – very intelligent. They have an intelligence bureau among themselves. They have soldiers, workers, and labourers who carry dead bodies. Everything is there as a result of the activity of that little brain and two tiny scintillating eyes of those beautiful creatures called ants. Ants are beautiful to look at. They are not a nuisance, as we may think. They are wonderful.
These two instances, honeybees and ants, illustrate what an organisation should be and how it works. People who belong to an organisation can be spread throughout the world, if necessary. It is quite possible to set up an organisation by individuals merely by their thoughts, their thinking capacity, and an orderly behaviour of a mental perspective among themselves. This is what we can learn from ants and honeybees.
There is no necessity for the members of an organisation to sit in one particular place. Buildings are not necessary. There are very able organisations secretly working for the welfare of a higher ideal, and these organisations are not visible to the naked eye. There are members of a Lion’s Club, Quaker’s Organisation, Rosicrucian Order, Freemasons, and others. Their activities are not publicised. Their activities are in their brains only, in their capacity to think in a coordinated manner. An organisation is an organisation of minds only. Physical apparatus is not an essential.
Humanity consists of an organisation. All humanity thought of as a coordinated setup is an organisation by itself, but humanity does not sit in one particular place. Humanity has no formation. It is an organisation of cooperative spirits. Thoughts well organised, proportionately functioning with necessary emphasis on aspects which are important, these are the elements of an organisation.
A human being is basically a mind. The body of a person is not a member of the organisation. The thought of the person is a member of the organisation. The mind of a person in India can communicate with the mind of a person in far-off lands and establish a coordination for bringing about a fulfilment of a purpose, which is the aim of the organisation.
The whole world is an organisation in itself. How unitedly the particles of matter arrange themselves for a purpose is the law of nature. There is no furniture necessary for the world to work its purpose. A centre of attraction, cohesion, intensification, purposiveness – these are some of the words we can use for describing how an organisation works.
The members of such an organisation are not I’s, you’s, he’s, she’s, it’s, and all that. Such words are irrelevant in an organisation of this nature. An organisation is just a cohesion of constitutive elements which are centres of purposiveness. Spirits operate in order to build up an organisation.
Where does The Divine Life Society exist? Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj used to say it exists in the hearts of people. The Divine Life Society is not in any particular place. Wherever there are people devoted to a higher purpose of life, there is a branch of The Divine Life Society. The Divine Life Society is not something recorded on paper. It is a cementing force acting among minds which think alike and act for a particular purpose. The whole of life is bringing together its internal elements to achieve a higher purpose. The human being is one of the elements in the structural pattern of the universe, of the world, of anything.
Little organisations we call the Theosophical Society, Ramakrishna Mission, Divine Life Society, whatever it is, are only appellations of formations in a visible form of restricted forms of operation dedicated to a purpose which is common to everybody. All the organisations in the world which are working for a higher purpose, for the achievement of the higher values of life, are internally coordinated. They are brothers of the same order. Saints and sages also form an organisation among themselves. They do not have to sit in one place to hold a meeting. They can think, and the meeting takes place. The necessity to coordinate oneself with another is the beginning of an organisation.
We are told that when God created the world, the great Unitary Being scattered itself, as it were, in the form of little particulars, call them by any name. These particulars are what we call the individualities. Total isolations, unconnected with one another, are called individualities. An individual is an element which is totally dissociated from every other individual. One cannot touch the other. There is, rather, a repulsive force operating among totally isolated individualities, because if this repulsive force in individuals does not work, they would not be individuals. The word ‘individuality’ indicates a self-centred interior force which struggles to maintain the self-identity of a particular location, whatever be its size. That is individuality. Self-identity is the word for it. I am just what I am. I cannot be you or anybody else. Because of this fact, I cannot cooperate with you. I shall mind my business, and you mind your business. This is the basic attitude of a totally isolated individuality. In spite of organisations and administrations throughout the world, this instinct persists even today, and it shall persist always.
When things are put to a hard test, we will realise we are utterly self-centred, self-identical individualities, and we cannot brook to melt down our individuality for the sake of the sustenance of another individual because if one is to sacrifice the self-identical individuality of oneself for the sake of another individuality which is totally different from one’s own self, then the individuality of such a person melts down and it ceases to be an individual. This is the last thing which anyone can expect. So there is a struggle till death to maintain one’s identity, and I shall not care for anybody else. If my personal self-centred intentions are frustrated or demanded or even shown a tendency to annihilation, the annihilation of one’s own mind, thought, intention, or purpose is veritable death. This happened when creation took place.
The Upanishads tell us that these cast-out, banished individualities were once upon a time like gods scintillating like sparks in the heaven, but the moment the isolation of the sparks gets affirmed, concentrated, and confirmed, these sparks, so-called divinities, little elements shut off from the Supreme Absolute, get hardened into a crust of individuality and solidify themselves in the form of physical matter, which is the body that we are embodying. This is the tragedy of human life, any kind of life.
Since it is humanly not possible to maintain this cocoon-like existence of utter selfishness and self-centredness, even foolish people are not so foolish as not to understand the meaninglessness of their foolishness. They manoeuvre the foolishness in such a cunning way that it works in its own way. The ego, which is utterly selfish and does not care for any other person, knows also that it cannot continue, it cannot survive, without the cooperation of other individuals.
Masters of political science tell us the way in which governments formed. Why did people feel the necessity for administration? Where is the necessity? Each one is independent for oneself. What connection have I got with you? People realised later on, gradually, by historical process by each individual, such a self-identical total isolation cannot succeed. We cannot even survive by such affirmation of total individuality. We require the cooperation of earth, water, fire, air, ether, and even other people.
The need felt by each one that impossibility is behind the self-centredness of each individual created a necessity for the coming together of individuals. If I have a fear of something, that fear gets diminished if there is another person with me. If I don’t care for other people, I remain alone to myself, swallowing my fear. If many people join together, the source of fear loses its intensity because a confidence arises thereby that cooperation of many people will have the capacity to meet this source of fear and demolish it completely. The fear sense in each individual created the need to form organisations of a political nature, a social nature, whatever they are.
Even a family is an organisation of that type. Nobody can exist individually by oneself. It is not possible that you yourself till the land, sow the seeds, collect the harvest, cook the food, and eat it. It requires an organisation here also for the helping hand of many other people. Every administration – family administration, district administration, village administration, state, international, whatever it is – they are all various degrees of the need felt for the coming together of otherwise utterly individual, self-centred persons.
Notwithstanding all this, granting that people are ready to cooperate among themselves to form a world system of administration, each individual still is selfish. That original demonical, self-centred, isolated individual sense persists in each person. So, it is not possible to conceive such a thing.
God is in our hearts, but the devil is also there, side by side. What we call Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are both inside. Man is supposed to be a crossing point of God and brute at the same time, so it is possible for us to behave like brutes if the time comes for it, but we also behave like gods if the time comes for it. The necessity for organisation arose, therefore, due to a practical need felt by individuals who could not survive without an organisation.
So, coming to the point, what I mean is that an organisation requires only people. It does not require buildings and so on. For example, the members of a parliament can sit anywhere, not necessarily in one building, and even then they are members of parliament. Even if there are six hundred members of Parliament, they continue to be members even if they all go trekking and sit on the bank of the Ganga. In a similar manner, wherever we are we may be dedicated to a common purpose. “Why should you be insisting on a common purpose again and again?” may be a question. “It is my purpose. I believe in my purpose. What is the use of another’s purpose?”
It is already mentioned that individuality cannot survive by excessive insistence on its own isolation. It will perish, gradually. There are fears of every kind. Death itself is the greatest fear in the world. We have invented and discovered hundreds of means of seeing to it that we do not die so easily, because that is the greatest tragedy. Yet, the individual has to die. Emperors who are protected by armies and the best of medical people died because death is inside the person. It is not outside, threatening one from somewhere else. When a person is born, death is also born together with that person. The fortune of a person, the death of a person, the joys of a person, the sorrows of a person are all born together in the womb itself. Your whole biography is written in the womb itself. Though, due to our interpretation of things through our egoistic individuality, we seem to be working hard to modify things, such a modification against the order of the Most High is not possible.
Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj organised this Divine Life Society. An organisation should not mean clinging to particular things. It is a totally detached spirit of the members of the society that constitutes the society. Each person is totally detached, detached not in the sense of callousness, carelessness, a don’t-care attitude. It is an intense concern with no attachment to any particular mood or objective. The whole society belongs to each member of the society, just as a trust board belongs to each trustee individually and severally and jointly, yet no one is attached to anything.
Responsibility, the sense of duty, is different from attachment. How carefully the manager of a bank takes care of the money that he is got in his chest, which does not belong to him. One penny does not belong to the manager of the bank. He can say, “What is the matter? It is not my concern. Let it be there. Something goes and something comes – in what way am I concerned?” Can he say like that? He is intensely concerned, but totally detached. Here is an example of deep obligation with a sense of duty being performed with detachment. We cannot understand how an obligation and detachment can go together, but here is the very meaning of a dedicated life.
Dedication implies social coordination and also a vertical longing for a higher ascent of each one towards divinity. We cannot quarrel among ourselves for any purpose. An organisation does not consist of people who quarrel among themselves. The very meaning of an organisation is a participation for a common purpose. We cannot quarrel with nature; we cannot quarrel with the wind, with the heat of the sun or with the rain. What is the use of quarrelling with these? We have to participate with them. We have to participate with the activities of nature, and with God Himself. We cannot quarrel with God, “Why have You not given to me what I want? Why do You bring thunderbolts and destroy people?” We cannot argue with God like that. In the cosmic purpose, participation is necessary.
“Do your work,” says the Bhagavadgita. But whose work are you doing? It is not your work. But you may say, “If it is not my work, why should I do it at all? Why should I bend my back for the sake of the work intended for somebody else’s benefit?” This is very bad, uncultured attitude of any human being to think like that. A person who thinks “If it is not my work, why should I do it at all?” is a fool of the first water. Such a person knows nothing of nature, of the world, and nothing of one’s own self also. It is a most uncultured attitude because each one belongs to another, in a different sense. I belong to myself in one sense, but I also belong to another in a different sense because we have descended from a larger organisation of divine elements at the time of creation, and so the participation of each individual unit in the fulfilment of a larger organisation of divinities persists even now.
If there is no connection of any kind between one person and another, and each one is self-centred and self-identical, we cannot even know that another person is existing. How do I know that you are sitting here? My mind is inside my brain, and you are physically far away from me. My mind does not enter into your body, and you do not enter into my eyes. How do you know that I am sitting here, and how do I know that you are here? There is an internal coordinating system operating, unknown to everybody, due to which we know of each other’s existence. Even the very perception itself is a coordinated activity, an organisation.
Such a wonderful spiritual organisation Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj created. “May we be blessed, may we be blessed, may we be blessed!” is my humble contribution today.