A- A+

Swami Krishnananda in Conversation
by Swami Krishnananda
Compiled by S. Bhagyalakshmi

5. The Cycle of Life

It was a fine morning. Devotees and visitors gathered around Swami Krishnanandaji in the open air under the trees with the winter sun warm and pleasant.

Swamiji: Read two books by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan: An Idealist View of Life, and Eastern Religions and Western Thought. These books are sufficient for the time being. Don't go too far.

A visitor: Will the human cycle be repeated? Also, will the relation of the psyche be repeated?

Swamiji: Yes, Yes. Not in every detail. But in general it will be repeated, they say. Slight variations in details there may be, but the general principles will be the same.

Visitor: Then which cycle ends? What state do you reach?

Swamiji: You will go higher and higher in each cycle. But somebody else will take your place so that the ground cycle is still there. You see, the government continues though the same persons do not continue to run it. The same pattern of government continues though people retire and go away. So while you may not be there, the system and the working of the government will continue the same way. There are some philosophers who think that the same form will come an infinite number of times in the cycle of creation though you may attain God or Mukti or whatever it is. This pattern of the shape or the structure of your personality is a mould into which souls are cast. And souls will change; when your soul attains salvation, another soul will enter this structure. So you are only a vehicle which carries a particular level of consciousness. Your body is not your personality; your personality is constituted by the level of your consciousness which rises to higher and higher levels, but the mould persists. Every mould is permanent. This is not only a religious doctrine, it is also a philosophical doctrine and a doctrine which is corroborated by modern physics and the philosopher Whitehead. There is a cycle of recurrence of patterns of life. They never cease. They are what in Platonic language is called the Idea. The Idea is not your idea, it is a pattern of the archetype of the moulds into which consciousness is encased. When consciousness goes on evolving from level to level, the pattern does not change. For example, in a school there is first standard, second, third, and so on. There is a syllabus of teaching in the first standard, another in the second standard etc. If you go from the first standard to the second, you do not study what you studied in the first standard. But that syllabus continues, it does not go out of use when you leave the class. Someone else joins the first standard and goes through the same course. So there is a certain continuity in thinking though the person goes through a series of changing situations. Likewise, they say the patterns of personality continue but the souls change.

Another visitor: Are the norms of human souls the same?

Swamiji: They are infinite. You know what is infinite? You can't count them.

Visitor: Are we coming from the animal level?

Swamiji: Well, that is what our biologist tells us, even religion accepts it. From matter to life, life to mind, mind to the intellect, and from the intellect to spirit. That is the process of evolution.

Visitor: There is also another idea. We start in a kind of Golden Age, and after we have gone the round of cycles, we are back again in the Golden Age.

Swamiji: Yes, you will be going in recorded cycle.

Visitor: You think the Golden Age will come?

Swamiji: Yes, it has come many times before and it will come again; that is what they say. It will never end.

Visitor: There was a Golden Age?

Swamiji: There was a Golden Age, and there is going to be one in the future also.

Another visitor: Can we contact the people of Pitri Loka?

Swamiji: Yes, you can contact people in the Pitri Loka, but not always and not at any time; and not all people, only some, and only on rare occasions. And they can also contact you, but this is not a usual occurrence.

Another visitor: If I offer shraddha to the dead, my father, he will be happy. But we do not have shraddha in our religion, so…

Swamiji: You pray for him, yes. This is one way.

Visitor: Will he derive benefit, a consolation, from the shraddha?

Swamiji: Yes, very much—certainly consolation. If I deeply think some good thoughts about you, it will certainly benefit you. What is prayer? It is spreading good thoughts; and whomsoever you think in your mind, he will receive the benefit. Telepathic communication. If I deeply wish your welfare, you will be benefited, there is no doubt about it.

Another visitor: What if I have renounced the world? Will I still have to perform shraddha?

Swamiji: What do you mean by renunciation? You mean, you have given up something? What have you given up? What have you renounced, tell me? Have you renounced the Pitris also?

Visitor: According to Sannyas, I have given up all my worldly samskaras.

Swamiji: If you have given up even the idea that Pitris exist, then of course your question is answered but, otherwise, if you believe they exist, your duty continues.

Visitor: Even after renouncing?

Swamiji: But you've not renounced the idea that they exist. You see, it is not full renunciation. It is some partial renunciation. You might not have renounced the idea that the world exists, for instance. Does the world exist or not? And can you give up the idea, renounce the idea that it exists? Then you have no duties towards the world. But if you believe that it exists and you cannot renounce the idea that it exists, you have a duty towards it. Your obligations are dependent upon what you feel, what you believe as reality. But if you do not think it is a reality, you have no obligation. You do not have a duty towards unreality. But if you believe it is a reality, you have a duty towards it. Ultimately renunciation, true renunciation, is renunciation of wrong notions. Renunciation does not mean renouncing house, wife, children and property. This is a very crude idea of renunciation. The true idea is different. It is the renunciation of the wrong notions. And what are the wrong notions? That is up to you to decide. Ultimately, the notion that you exist as a personality also is a wrong notion. Can you give up that idea? If you succeed in that, well, you are blessed. But if, on the other hand, you feel that you exist, you have to feel that the world exists. Then you have to believe that there is a Creator. Everything follows one after the other. So everything follows from the belief that you exist. To the extent you can give up this notion, to that extent your renunciation is complete.

Another visitor: Swamiji, you said you have to renounce everything. Why have you to renounce everything? What is the harm if everything is not renounced?

Swamiji: Why is it necessary for you to be healthy? Why not be sick? Are you not born to be healthy?

Visitor. Yes.

Swamiji: Well, then you are born to renounce. Renunciation is the art of being in health, healthy in spirit. And if health is your duty, renunciation is your duty too. I have already told you that renunciation means renunciation of some error. Do you not think renunciation of error is good?

Visitor: Error is mistake?

Swamiji: Is English difficult for you? Yes, error is wrong thinking. You have to understand what is wrong thinking. I have already given a hint. The very idea that you exist as a body, even that is wrong thinking. From that wrong thinking, much other wrong thinking follows, as a corollary.

Visitor: Then renunciation does not mean to give up the world?

Swamiji: That idea is very crude. You cannot leave the world. You are the world. Where are you seated? On the earth. How can you renounce it? Nobody gives you any trouble; why are you renouncing them, poor things? Your ideas give you trouble, your incapacity to adjust yourself to things gives you trouble. The trouble is within you, and not outside. So, why do you renounce things? Things are not bad. Your idea about them is bad, and that is the cause of all trouble.

Visitor: So, renunciation is a kind of attitude that you take towards the world?

Swamiji: Ultimately it means that.

Visitor: Many people say that when you renounce you should not have any sexual relationship.

Swamiji: Again, it is not renunciation of things, it is the idea, the notion. And what is your notion about it? That is very important to understand. You can't renounce anything at all like that. Each thing is all right in its place. Your adjustment or you attitude, your relationship to the thing, that is what makes it necessary or unnecessary. You use the word 'sexuality'. What do you mean by that? You must first be clear in your head.

Visitor: When I say sex, I mean it is a kind of energy…

Swamiji: You can't renounce that; it is inside you. How will you renounce that?

Visitor: But there are people who think that if you renounce, you should not use energy for a purpose for which it is not meant.

Swamiji: The purpose? It is strictly for the purpose of experience so that you may transcend the experience by passing through it. The tension of desire to be relaxed is the secondary purpose. The energy is misused if used for secondary pleasure and will end in debility. It is intended to strengthen the psychophysical personality. This is another name for the energy for your whole system. You understand me? It is an electrical force and it is intended to strengthen your body and mind, both. You become weak when you spend it in any manner whatsoever, just as when you spend your money you become poor. Supposing you go on spending what money you have, you become weak financially. But if you keep it, conserve it, your strength is well known. Who would like to lose strength? This is a very simple question. Then what is the point in losing? If you lose strength, then naturally it is not beneficial to you. Energy is not meant for losing, but for conservation, which is the main thing.

Visitor: Why?

Swamiji: Because you want to be healthy, not become sick.

Visitor: What is the use of conserving this energy?

Swamiji: So that you may be healthy. Otherwise you will fall sick mentally and physically. You become so weak that you droop, you cannot stand up and walk, and you have to be taken care of by doctors.

Visitor: Is it not this energy…

Swamiji: Yes, I know what you are going to say. You say it is a cycle. It is an old Western doctrine. It is not something new. It is theoretically sound, but practically it is not workable. It strains and spends itself whenever it is directed towards objects. Energy goes out even by looking at things. Even when you look at a tree, the energy flows to the object. We are not attached to the tree and we are not trying to possess the tree, but even the act of perception will make your energy flow. That is the very reason why you are able to see the tree at all. If the energy does not flow towards an object, you cannot see the very existence of the object. In the yoga system, you have got a very important classification of psychological function—impersonal psychological function and personal psychological function. Impersonal psychological function is perception of an object. The personal psychological function is attachment to an object or aversion towards it. I see a tree, that is impersonal perception. It is my tree or it is somebody else's tree, I like it or I do not like it. This is a personal psychological function, and this is lower than the earlier one. Even the earlier one affects yoga negatively. You should not be aware of even the existence of things. They are not outside you.

Visitor: You should not be aware?

Swamiji: Yes, they are not outside you as you imagine. They are one with all things, and interconnected with all things. And if everything is connected with everything else, then it is not true that things are outside. So even your idea that things are outside is wrong. And to believe that it is yours or not yours is still worse. The latter is studied in abnormal psychology. As a matter of fact, whatever you have gathered from Adler, Freud, Jung and other modern psychologists is abnormal psychology where they study the function of the mind in terms of objects liked or not liked. But when you are merely looking at things and being aware of things, even then you are in a little error. This is not perceived by the psychoanalysts of the West. You have to go especially to the yoga system of Patanjali for this. So what I am driving at is this—I am coming to the point that the more you have a universality of outlook, the less are you conscious of external objects.

And then your question—the sex question—that question itself will not arise. You will never feel any impulse towards external objects afterwards. The impulse itself will cease. The energy will not move towards objects thereafter. It will be conserved in the Universal Passion. You will become indomitable to forces. Energy is everywhere, it is not only in you. And it is not supposed to be spent. The question of spending arises only where it is some object outside. When you are trying to give up the very idea that things are outside then there cannot be an idea of spending energy either. It is not just a river, it is an ocean, it subsists as an ocean. Now the energy is like the river that flows towards an object and you feel weakened as it moves; afterwards you realise that all rivers are in the ocean itself. You are the ocean, you are not a river that moves; the ocean does not move here and there to lose itself; the ocean does not become more or less. It is the same. But the river can dry up or flow with greater force, and so on and so forth. So we are an ocean of force, and not a river of force. If you are a river, you will move towards things like the flowing river. Then you would feel the ebb and flow, you would experience pleasure and pain. But if you are an ocean of energy, you are full at all times. Nothing can either please you or make you dejected, for you are the ocean. The rivers may or may not come—you do not bother. Rivers dry up if rains do not come. They are dependent on something else. So you are depending on an object, and that means you are not leading an independent life. You hang on to things, persons and objects. But when you become impersonal your nature and realise the universality of things, this question will not arise. You will have no desire for anything afterwards. You will not even be aware that you are a man or a woman. The question of sex does not arise then.

Visitor: Swamiji, it seems to me that that stage is an impractical stage?

Swamiji: You have to go stage by stage—you can't jump into the skies in one day.

Visitor: That is, you just decide in your mind…

Swamiji: You've got to keep the idea before you, and gradually work for it. It does not mean you will succeed in one day. It is not possible. But the ideal is to be kept in the mind's eye, and gradually, slowly, step by step, you've to work towards it just as a person, to accumulate wealth, keeps aside just one dollar, one rupee, a day. He does not become suddenly rich in one day. Even so you go on conserving energy by right thinking, and one day you will succeed. That it may take years does not matter.

Another visitor: In Kantian philosophy they think if you are able to use this kind of energy in the right way, you are able to conserve it.

Swamiji: Yes, that is the right way, that is what I am telling you.

Visitor: This is what you are saying?

Swamiji: Yes, yes, yes. It is the right way where you have got to gradually withdraw yourself from attachment to things, and then energy will not flow towards objects.

Visitor: It will be very difficult for me! (Laughs.)

Swamiji: (Laughs.) It is not only your problem; it is everybody's problem. It has to be overcome slowly. Whoever is born is attached. The problem is there, and you have to slowly transcend it.

Well the langar bell is ringing! Go and have lunch.