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The Brahma Sutra on the Final Salvation of the Soul
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 8: Conclusion

Here is the concluding of this particular course of teaching in the Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy, a two month course. You must have realised during this period that the intention of the academy is not to furnish you with textual knowledge or information, but to provide you with some insight into the way of living itself. What we have to learn is not history or geography, mathematics or any art or science, but the art of life: how we are to live in this world.

The art of living, it appears to me, is the way in which you have to adjust yourself with what you consider as other than yourself. There are only two things in this world: yourself, and what is not yourself. There are not many things in the world. This ‘not yourself' is a mysterious something whose location you must be able to discover with your power of perception. What is the distance between yourself and that which is not yourself? How many kilometres away is that from you?

Even space outside is something which is not you. Since everything is conditioned by space and time, and space is veritably touching your very skin, you may logically conclude that the thing which you consider as not yourself is also touching your skin. Since two similar things cannot come in contact with each other, nothing can touch your skin meaningfully if there is no connection between yourself and what you consider as absolutely not yourself. The outside thing cannot touch you if it is totally relegated to some form of existence that is irreconcilable with yourself. The world cannot touch you if it is unconnected with you.

You have to be careful in this matter, since it is something related to your very existence itself. You can neither praise anything nor condemn anything, all which you do by haste and an irrational attitude to things. The inseparability, basically speaking, between what you seem to be yourself and that which you consider as not yourself is a moot point for consideration. You cannot say that there is a distance between you and the world. If there is no such distance, there is no distance between what you are and what you are not as you consider in your mind. If that is the case, there is no such thing as what you are not, so all things become what you are. Be careful in coming to this conclusion.

This is why great thinkers have been mentioning again and again that when you know yourself, you know the whole world because the world cannot stand outside you and you cannot stand outside the world. It is not that you touch the world and the world touches you. There is no such contact possible if the world and yourself are two different things. But don't we always say that they are two different things? It is not like that. We think that something is happening somewhere. Something is not happening somewhere; it is happening on your skin only. There is no ‘somewhere' in this world because if you say something is happening somewhere, you are asserting a distance between yourself and that which you consider as not yourself. Careful analysis shows that such a distance does not exist. That anything happens anywhere happens in you also. If thunder strikes somewhere, it is striking inside. This will awaken you to a spirit of appreciation which is astounding, stirring, stimulating, revolutionising your thoughts and making you at once, in an instant, something different from what you thought you have been up to this time. To bring about this kind of revolutionising of your attitude to things, to bring about this change in your perception, it takes one second, because you yourself are living in a world which is beyond the processional fluxation of time.

A few words in this connection will suffice for you to think deeply about yourself. Our life is not a joke, it is not a pastime, it is not a picnicking. “Somehow I shall drag on.” What is the meaning of dragging on? You have to live. Life is not dragging on. It is not getting on, but it is living. You have to know what is living. How will you live in the teeth of opposition from what you have been always considering as totally alien to you? You detest the world so that the world also may detest you, but you have no logical reason to say anything about the world because to make any remark about the world will be tantamount to making a remark about yourself only. This is so because there cannot be a real distance between yourself and what is not yourself. Psychologically, by a cleavage in the perceptional process, by a deep metaphysical blunder, as you may call it, you are suffering right from your childhood, and you shall go in that condition when you leave this world also.

Generally, the human attitude has been somehow to push through the muddle of the tribulations of life in any manner whatsoever and get on, as is usually said, till your last breath. It finally ends in no meaning whatsoever. Meaninglessly you came into this world, meaninglessly you leave this world, and you want to conclude that you have also been living meaninglessly. But the illusion created by error of perception can make you wrongly feel that there is milk and honey flowing everywhere in the world. Everything is sweet and nice; you have got every means of comfort in this world. But you do not realise that the means of comfort physically, psychologically, socially, whatever be the nature of it, is based on the fundamental bungling in the very process of viewing things, even your so-called comforts.

You cannot say how the comforts have come to you. Who has provided you with comforts? Has someone poured charity upon you so that you are well off? There is no such person in the world who will give you charity. Nature is a system of legal operation. It has no charitable nature. It does not give gifts. Though we think that there are things called gifts, it is an impersonal operation where your situation, your structural existence, should be analysed and studied in such a way that you do not stand outside your own self. When you say there are things which are outside you, you forget that you are making a statement against your own self because thereby you have stood against your own self. Every complaint is a complaint against one's own self in some way. Man is the maker of his destiny; he is also the maker of his sorrow.

I am mentioning all these things because it was not the intention of Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj to pour texts on your brain. Those you can study anywhere, in any college, any university. People earn degrees; they come out of the world of learning in universities and they feel that the world is staring at them as a concrete reality which was waiting to pounce upon them the moment they graduate. During the course of study and learning in the classroom you never believed that there is a world outside, and the world was not willing to interfere with your attitude that your classroom is the whole world. Okay, complete your education and come out; then the world says, “I shall see what I can do for you.” You seem to be totally different from what you have studied. You will be repenting that you have studied nothing. Some dirt and dust has gone into your brain. The world says, “I am not what you have been thinking about me. Now I challenge you to meet me and deal with me.”

This kind of dealing and challenge is the encounter of life. There is no use merely saying, “I have got a good job, I have got family, I have got everything that is necessary for my physical and social comfort.” But as I mentioned to you a few minutes before, this conclusion is also based on an illusion. These comforts vanish into thin air in one second with the blow of forces which are not nurtured in your mind, which you have totally ignored. Illusions also can bring comforts. Actually, our comforts are total illusions, the delirious operations of a misconceived relationship of mind with matter, life with non-life, yourself with others.

Deep is this subject; wonderful is the depth of this insight. If you have totally absorbed the implications of what I have told you just now, I think you would have become a different person. You will feel there is something very important in this world, and that important thing you carry with you. Psychologically, educationally, socially, you are still connected with this Academy, with this Ashram. Every time we conclude a particular course, we tell the trainees, the students, that when you go home, you are not severing the connection with the atmosphere of learning and education and spiritual goodwill, but you are continuing it as a stream, as a flow of relationship with your alma mater, which is this institution. Be happy, and be always happy.