A- A+

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

22. Through Strength of Yoga

The morning “chats” began with a question from a visitor.

Visitor: How do we get spiritual strength by yoga practice?

Swamiji: Your affiliation to God is your strength. It will save you in this life, and in your future life also. What I mean is yoga without giving it a label, yet it includes all the yogas. You don't want labelled yoga. You want a living yoga which is helpful in your practical life, not yoga for demonstration purposes or as an institution, but something which can keep you balanced and happy and without having to complain against anything. The yogi sees everything in its proper place. When you see a thing misplaced, then it is not yoga, and then you complain. You say it is very cold, or it is very hot, or you say it is wretched, it is a nuisance. Everything appears wrong to you. You appreciate nothing. But nothing is wrong with rain or cold. Nothing is wrong with the cyclone either, if you see it in its cosmic setting. But if you have a parochial outlook, you see only atrocity. A cyclone is blowing and people are suffering. This should not have happened. This is something like your saying somebody's body temperature has risen to 105°. This is awful, a horror. You don't understand the other aspects of it. The temperature has risen on account of the body condition. It is only an indication, as the doctor tells you.

We have no comprehensive outlook, that is why we are suffering And yoga is nothing but a comprehensive outlook of things. It is not just the Bhagavad Gita, nor the Upanishad. You may call it by any name you like. But you cannot be a comprehensive person so long as you are weak of mind and incapable of understanding all aspects. You miss some point, and then you say something is wrong. If you see that point, you say everything is all right. If you have perfect peace, you give peace to others by your very being. You radiate peace and become a magnet of completeness and strength—a source of energy and peace. But if you are a partial being, you become wretched yourself and make others around you also wretched (laughter).

An ashramite: When I have been blown off by the cyclone and everything is destroyed…

Swamiji: Nobody is blowing you off. No one is so angry with you.

Ashramite: All right, accepted. But, how do I take my pain, saying that cosmic balance is being set up? That does not help.

Swamiji: Your suffering is due to lack of understanding. If the Sun shines and you say, I can't see, it means that your eyes are not fit to receive sunlight. Your eyes are incapable of receiving sunlight, may be due to blindness.

Swamiji: (Addressing another ashramite) Thank you for this book. It is the Philosophy of Madhusudana Saraswati. Madhusudana Saraswati was a great scholar and saint, who lived about a hundred or two hundred years ago. He was a master in philosophy. Also a great devotee of Lord Krishna.

Another ashramite: He was a Jnana Yogi.

Swamiji: Jnana Yogi and a Bhakti Yogi. He believed in Krishna only and in nothing else. And yet, nobody was equal to him in the philosophy of the Absolute. He is the topmost philosopher of the Advaita Vedanta—and how he combines Advaita with devotion to Krishna is a wonder. That is the knack of the man; a great man is capable of reconciling anything with anything else.

A voice: The intellect and heart join together.

Swamiji: Everything, that is the sign of greatness. He can be reconciled with anything. He never refuses anything. He never rejects anything. He doesn't say anything is wrong. That is the sign of greatness. Everything is in its proper place, and at the proper time, under the given circumstances. So this is, again, yoga.

Ashramite: Swamiji, you said that Lord Krishna's ways, His lilas in His avatara were all a breaking of social norms, so to speak.

Swamiji: I explained.

Ashramite: That it was a spiritual interpretation, an explanation of God's attitude to man. How is it a spiritual interpretation?

Swamiji: Because, to say that the Ganga water is very cold is a human attitude. But before God it is not cold. It is cold only to your skin. To the fish in the Ganga it is not cold. So, is Ganga water really cold or not? Now you see! Your statement is not correct. Any statement that we make is relative; you may be right in terms of your sense of touch in saying that Ganga water is cold. But the fish in the Ganga does not say it is cold, because they have adjusted themselves to the atmosphere. You cannot adjust yourself to it in the same manner. And if the temperature of your body is the same as the temperature outside, you will not say it is winter. So all social laws, personal predilections are judgements made on the basis of the experiences from the point of view of your present state of personality. And it need not be correct. (Emphatically) It cannot be correct. It is relative.

Just now I gave a broad example of fish and yourself. You may say it is winter but the fish do not feel the pinch. So it is a question of the condition under which a person lives. And if the condition changes, your outlook changes. And you will not see things as before. If you have got a microscopic eye, you will not see the wall in front of you. You will not see the building, you will see only vibrations. You will see electrons or protons. And if I tell you it is a building you will say, “Where is the building? I cannot see tiny building”. God has given us a very gross eye and we see only a large structure. So who is correct? Is the microscope correct, or we? The circumstances are different and we speak from a different level of being. God speaks from all comprehensiveness.

Ashramite: What is the ear or eye with which we should hear or see His lilas, so that we understand His purpose?

Swamiji: You understand your level of existence first. You speak from your level only. Do not overestimate yourself and try to see as God sees from a comprehensive level.

Ashramite: You mean to say, what I cannot understand, I should leave alone?

Swamiji: Yes. You should not try to disturb your present feelings. The disturbance arises on account of the fact that you try to overcome the limits of your feelings. Whether they are right or not, that is a different matter. They may be right. They are right only as long as they are incapable of transcendence. When they are capable of transcendence, they become wrong. When you are dreaming, the objects that you see in the dream appear real, but now they are not real. You have transcended them. So, when I say it is real or unreal, it depends upon the point of view, the level of being from which I speak. You are a human being. You cannot get over this idea.

But it is not true that you are a human being ultimately. You are something else. You are a unit in the Cosmic Force. But you cannot understand it. It is no use talking about it. So what is your present state? You are a human being. You cannot forget that you are an Indian. You cannot forget that you are a woman. All these are false notions ultimately—you are neither a daughter of somebody nor the mother of somebody. You are neither Indian nor are you a human being. You talk from your point of view and from facts as they are for you. If you think from God's point of view or the Cosmic point of view, you will see it all differently. But it is no use telling you all this—because you will never see things like this. If I tell you you are not a woman, “Who says I am not a woman?” you will ask. So you take the standpoint of your present experience. If you're a woman, accept it.

But when you realise that you're not a woman, then you speak in a different language and you experience different things. So, as long as your feelings and your connections are inseparable from your present level of understanding, you have to follow only that law. That is what Bhagavan Krishna says in the Gita—do not disturb the present state of affairs. You should not speak to others from your point of view of God. Their point of view may be quite different. Do not disturb that. You have to go stage by stage, from one level of another. All yoga is transcendence and not negation. You don't negate anything, you transcend it. You should understand the difference between negation and transcendence. You do not negate the nature of a child, but you transcend it when you become an adult. When a child behaves in a particular manner, you don't call it stupid behaviour. It is valid behaviour at that level. But if you now behave like a baby, it is invalid. You have transcended childhood. So at that level it is valid, at this level, it is not valid.

Ashramite: So the Bhagavatam puts before us various levels of understanding?

Swamiji: You have to find your level first.

Ashramite: Yes, but it puts forth all the levels.

Swamiji: Yes, yes.

Ashramite: And so it is no use trying to understand something higher than your level.

Swamiji: No, no, no. You should not jump like that to the sky. You know your level and work on that level. And when you fulfil the law of that level, you will automatically be liberated from that bondage, and you will be taken to another level. And then you work at that level. Like that, you go higher and higher until you reach the Absolute. You should be a happy person at every level. You must always be friendly and happy and balanced and coordinated with every type of atmosphere, that is your wisdom, that is called the wisdom of life. Never reject, never disagree, never become irreconcilable and never be intolerant.

Ashramite: It is very difficult to decide at what point you should act, Swamiji.

Swamiji: You know you are hungry just now; your entire biological system is hungry, needs food. So you give food.

Ashramite: If I start feeling excruciatingly hungry, but if the bell for food has gone long back and I will not get food now, what happens?

Swamiji: If you do not get food there, go where you can get food. You cannot say you can't get food anywhere in the whole world. You may not get food in the Ashram kitchen because you have not gone at the proper time. But it is possible that you can get it somewhere else. You know that it is possible.

Ashramite: I increase my sufferings which could have been forestalled if I could have had…

Swamiji: That is ignorance. Ignorance of law is no excuse. Every law is a kind of system which has a reaction.

Ashramite: Swamiji spoke of intolerance. Now that is exactly the point I want to know. Up to what point you should tolerate?

Swamiji: No, there is no limit for tolerance. Christ suffered due to his goodness. But you cannot say he did a wrong thing. And you will be taken care of by other forces, which will not let you feel at sea. Because you follow a system of perfection you will not really suffer. It is a mistaken notion. If you follow the law from the level in which you are, then you will not suffer. You have made a mistake in your calculation and therefore suffer. You do not have diarrhoea because of eating, it is because of eating wrong things; so many laddus. You must realise that.

Ashramite: But I do not know that I am eating one too many. There is no indication to show that I am not digesting it.

Swamiji: Your sensations will tell you. Correct eating is to fill your stomach half with food, one fourth with water and the rest is for air. The stomach should not be filled with food only.

Well, it is lunchtime. Go for lunch.