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

Inauguration: Learning the Art of Being Always Happy

This Academy, founded by the great saint Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, is avowed to cater to the all-round needs of a human being, and point out the ways and methods of overcoming the limitations that we feel in our own lives. Everywhere there is a sense of lacuna in the life of a person. No one feels complete in one's own self. Either we are financially not well off, or our health is not on par, or socially we have got some problems, or there is tension in the office, or some other difficulty is in the family. So many things are there that it becomes difficult to adjust oneself with the pressures exerted in this manner, from different corners and aspects of human involvement.

What are we going to teach you? We are not going to instruct you on any kind of abstract academic subject, of which many of you are perhaps already aware, and in which you must be already trained very well, being highly educated persons. What is required is the learning of an art of being always happy in yourself.

Health and happiness go together, and health does not necessarily mean a sturdy body, a muscular person, and so on. It is a sense of buoyancy that one feels in oneself, an alertness in intelligence, and self-sufficiency in one's own being. The self-sufficiency is incapable of attainment on account of a perpetual pressure from the inner needs of the psyche, which goes on telling you that there are many other things in the world which are greater than you, and you are a little small fry when compared to all these people.

It is necessary for you to know that you are a complete person. If you feel that you are not complete, it is up to you to learn the art of making yourself feel complete in yourself. The physical completeness is there already. Your physical body is complete in itself; it lacks nothing. But is the mind also complete in itself? Are your thoughts integrated? Is the way of your thinking in a state of harmony? Many thoughts arise in the mind on account of the existence of varieties of things in the world with which the mind is connected, whether deliberately or inadvertently. Are you able to put these thoughts together into a focus of harmony, so that even if the thoughts are many, you are sure that the mind is one only? If the mind is one, and not manifold, the variety of the processes of thinking should not affect you seriously, if you are a good psychologist of your own mind.

The objects of perception may be many, but you are one integral whole. You do not become many when you perceive many things. This is a psychological secret. When you are conscious of many things, you may sometimes, due to lack of proper attention to the situation, feel that you also have become many things. You feel a sense of being torn into shreds of isolated aspects of personality. Either you go on thinking that you are a student, or you think that you are a professor, or a boss, or an engineer, or a husband or a wife, or a brother or a sister. Always these thoughts impinge upon the mind and will not permit you to think that you are something else in addition to this participation of your nature in the varieties of engagements. You do not become many things merely because you think many things but, very unfortunately, it looks as if you become many things, which causes distraction, despondency and inability to be cohesive in your thoughts. You cannot stand integrated in your own self.

The art of being is greater than the art of living somehow in the world in a getting-on way of existence. Somehow you can get on in life, but your being should not be shaken up. There are many kinds of doings in which you are engaged, but your being cannot be manifold. You are one being only, and a very strong being. The strength of your being arises on account of your capacity to absorb the varieties of perceptions in your total individuality, the whole that your mind is. In modern terms, they say it is a holistic way of thinking. The mind operates in a holistic manner, not in fractions.

Even if there are umpteen thoughts in the mind, they are coordinated to the central operative factory of the mind, and each one is conscious that these thoughts are my thoughts: “I have a hundred varieties of thoughts in my mind, but these thoughts are in my mind; that is to say, I stand single, integrated, wholesome, in spite of the apparent ramifications of the thought process.” This is the fruit of psychology and, to some extent, philosophy also.

Towards this end, it has been proposed in this Academy to impart a new type of education, which will cater to the different aspects of your personality. Your intellectual and rational being should be satisfied. There should not be any kind of intellectual doubt in the mind. Everything should be cleared, threadbare.

There is also emotion in your mind. You have a feeling. Oftentimes, you feel something which is not necessarily what you are trying to understand through the intellect. The reason may argue out a conclusion which is perfectly valid systematically, but the feelings will say, “After all, I am something different.”

Feelings are the motive force in your personality. The emotion is the engine which pumps energy into the whole system, and even the intellect sometimes becomes subservient to the operation of the feeling. Whatever be your intellectual conclusion, professorial scholarship and degree that you hold, if the emotions revolt, you are immediately torn into a non-rational person.

There is a third aspect of the performance of the mind, which is called volition, or determining power. The power of the will is one of the aspects of the operation of the mind. Understanding, feeling and will are the three primary aspects of psychological functioning.

But there are deeper layers of our personality, all which we have inherited through the various incarnations we have experienced in our life. We have not suddenly dropped into this world from nowhere. A very complicated and comprehensive evolutionary process determines everything that is taking place in creation, and we are involved in this evolutionary process. It is not enough merely to participate in the integrating necessity in a family life; we have also to be integrated with society outside, with all the situations arising in the world. Finally, we have to be in harmony with the demands of nature, and ultimately with the requirements of the law of God Himself.

This personality, this human being, this 'I' or 'me', whatever it is, is not sitting outside the world. It is a great participant in the history of the cosmos. This is very important. It is not easily given to us during our usual syllabus or curricula in the colleges and universities. There, we have only compartmentalised teachings; it may be mathematics, physics, biology or law, and there is no connection of one with the other.

A person who is a master of physics met me one day. I mentioned to him casually in talking that there was a king called Ashoka in India. He asked, “What is Ashoka?”

“You have not read history?”

“But I am a physicist,” he said.

This is very strange. We may be a physicists, but we should have studied some history also. How do we suddenly jump into physics and know nothing about Indian history? We do not know world history, we do not know cosmology, we do not know anything about astronomy, the stars in the heavens, and so on.

This kind of education, where we are compartmentalised completely like in a barbershop, is no good. Humorously they say that a barber was telling, “I only know how to put soap on your head, but shaving I cannot do. You go to another man for shaving.” So the poor man with soap on his head had to go to someone else. This kind of education is no good. We must be complete and happy in our own being, even if it is on a moderate scale. I do not mean that one should be omniscient, but moderately one is a complete, educated person. One should not be an ignoramus.

Toward this end we have taken the help of various learned people here. We have some professors from universities, who have now retired. Each one is a master of one subject, but they are all devotees of Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, so they will be able to handle the subject in such a way that the teachings stand in unison with the ideals of the great founder of this institution. These ideals are spiritual uplift, enhancement of the spirit, and the recognition of the Atman, knowing your own Self. Know yourself, and then you will be free.

Most people say, “I know myself. What is wrong with me?” This kind of self is no good. This is the physical self which you are speaking of; and even if it is a psychological self, it is inadequate. There is a social self with which you are connected, and there is an emotional self, which arises on account of your likes and dislikes in respect of things in the world. There is a political self, as a citizen of a country. Many layers of self are there. Now, when you say, “I am studying the Self, the Atman,” what kind of self is it?

There are three kinds of self, at least, mentioned in philosophical circles. One is the false self, which is the physical self. This physical self is not the true self. It is temporary, vanishing, evanescent, fluctuating, perishable, and it has a beginning and an end.  Then there is the social self. You always identify yourself with a community, a nation, a language, a culture, etc. Then there is the emotional self, as I mentioned. When the mind is tied to something, positively or negatively, liking or not liking, you create another self, a secondary self of emotional attachment.

Whatever you are thinking in your mind, that becomes your self. The mind will not move towards anything unless your self also has alienated itself to some extent in that direction. You can take no interest in anything unless the self has transferred itself from your physical location to that particular object. Whether you like it or you do not like it, either way, there is a self-alienation taking place, and all sense perception thus becomes a travesty of affairs, an arena of muddled activity, so that no one knows what one is doing from morning to evening.

To free a person from these difficulties arising out of a maladjustment of personality with one's own self with society, with nature and with God Himself, an integrated system of teaching has to be conceived, which was in the mind of the great founder, Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. I am not going into details of all this just now; I am only expressing my happiness that I am in the presence of very interesting, very able, highly learned students.