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

32. The Wheel of Nature

The morning darshan had begun about half an hour before this chronicler joined in. Hence the abruptness at the beginning of the following conversation. There were about twenty in the gathering, as usual consisting of many nationalities and types of people.

A visitor: Why does Mother Durga nonchalantly turn the wheel of life? She seems terrible!

Swamiji: The wheel represents the centripetal and the centrifugal forces of nature. The whole of nature is like the movement of a wheel, with the spikes moving up and down with the rolling of the wheel. When you are caught by the centrifugal force, you are urged towards externality and objects of the senses. This is what the book is talking of in that story. But there is another side of it which will take you back to the source. It works in two ways, like the spokes that go up and then down. The spoke below will not always be below, it will go up in its turn. When it is moving down, it looks as if you are going down. So whenever the urge of creativity takes the form of a movement towards externality, you think of the object of the senses and you cannot get over the consciousness that they are desirable things. But this state of affairs does not continue for long. The wheel moves, and the upward evolution follows. The Divine Mother is only a symbolic name for the Cosmic Energy moving in two ways. In the lower realm of externalisation in space and time, the phenomenal world and the higher realm of the universal urge towards itself, which is integration in the Absolute.

Visitor: But the second part of my question is that…

Swamiji: The sage is telling you, now you are caught in the lower earth and you are moving towards external objects, and, therefore, you are thinking of them again and again even if you learn bitter lessons from them. The love for the objects of senses is so intense that you feel even a drop of honey sticking to the bitterness of things is worth it. That is one stage in which a person may find himself in. People learn their lessons in the course of evolution and begin to realise the defects in objects they desire. It is a mystery of evolution that you are educated into, it is the art of discovery of the true structure of things, and then you recognise the hollowness of the pursuit of the external things. You are then taken by the upper current; the higher tides take you off to the upper, higher realms.

There are two kinds of 'maya', as they call it. Maya is the force of creativity. It is called avidya maya and vidya maya. Avidya means the force of ignorance and vidya is the force of knowledge, both come within the realm of creation. Even your desire for knowledge is a part of creative activity because that also is desire. It means higher and nobler desire but even then you are bound, as they put it, by a golden chain. Whether you are bound by a golden chain or an iron chain, bound you are. Just because you are bound by gold and diamonds, it does not mean that you are not bound. An 'A' Class prison or a 'C' Class one—it is prison anyway. You might be treated better as an 'A' Class prisoner. Similarly the desire for knowledge is better than the desire for sense objects; it ends in bondage.

The story you are referring to is in connection with the human fascination for sense objects. And why it is so is given in the story. It is the lower movement you are getting caught in—the movement of prakriti, maya, the Divine Mother, whatever you call it. When you take resort to the higher plane then you don't get attached any more. When you take refuge in the higher aspects of the same force, it protects you. It is a great integrating and protecting Mercy.

Visitor: I have another part of the question. The Divine Mother is described as not constantly playing with the wheel of life but almost at random and that…

Swamiji: Yes—whatever you do and whatever you think even, to a large extent is not actually of your own making. Though you think that you are the agent, you are following the course of Nature. The evolution of the universe is the determining factor of every one of your activities, wrongly imagined by you as your activity. So in that sense you may say the Universal Force is playing with you—as with a toy, as it were—and making you feel as if you are doing things. But it ceases to be a terrifying force toying with you the moment you know that you are not isolated from that Force.

Visitor: That is what you mean by...

Swamiji: Ah, yes, yes, when you commune with the Force you cease to be a puppet in its hands—when you are outside of it, you are controlled by it. When you identify yourself with it, you become the lawmaker rather than the person who has to obey the law. A lawmaker also follows the law, he does not break it. But because he is the maker of the law, no bondage is felt by him. A king can make the law, but he doesn't break the law he makes. And yet he follows it in a different sense altogether from which the people obeying it follow it. Similarly, you become the force of law which becomes identical with your own will.

Now, sometimes your will does not go hand in hand with the will of the cosmos. Then you feel it is like a weight on your head. When your will is turned to the Universal Will your wish, will, action and way of thinking become part and parcel of the law of the universe. You, then, are not a toy to be played with by anybody.

Visitor: So I am not under fear, sorrow...

Swamiji: Nothing of the kind. At that time, there will be nothing of the kind. Such feeling comes only when you are outside it, you are thinking that somebody is doing something to you. That is why such questions arise in your mind. When you become THAT which is appearing to do something, then this question will not arise. As I just mentioned, where you become the maker of law yourself, you will complain against yourself. Now you complain because you think somebody else has made that law, and it is not palatable to you. Once you get tuned to Him you will not complain. This point is very difficult to grasp. Is the lion cub afraid of the lioness? No, it rolls on the mother's body. But you cannot play with the lioness like the cub does. Nor can you be like the tiger cub who bites and scratches its mother in play—you can't touch the tiger. The cub is tuned to its mother and the mother to cub. It is so even with God.

You will not be afraid of even God, let alone the play of Forces or law that makes a toy of you, once you have become part and parcel of that law. You will never see any kind of ugliness or error or suffering in this world. Whatever takes place in the cosmos, which apparently looks pleasant and unpleasant to you, will cease to be so when you become one with that. The cells of the body may not know your intention. They are thrown off! They might think that you are a cruel God to have removed them from where they were and destroyed them. The purpose of the cosmos and the way it works and the justification behind it can be appreciated only when you are one with it; otherwise, it looks like a terrifying autocrat! And it ceases to be that when you yourself become the autocrat. Then no questions arise.

An ashramite: Swamiji, this is the same as when Lord Krishna in the Bhagavat Gita says: “I turn the world mounted on the machine?”

Swamiji: Yes. Yes. It is exactly the same.

A devotee: Swamiji, what is the meaning of “Purnamadah purnamidam”...

Swamiji: It is another way of saying that nothing comes from anything. How can the full come from the full? Can you imagine? When the full comes from the full, that from where it comes will cease to exist. It says after removing the full from the full, the full only remains. When you withdraw a thousand rupees from your account in which you have only one thousand rupees, do you think there will be another thousand there? But here it is not like that. When you withdraw the whole from the whole, the whole remains. This is a symbolic way of saying that nothing is happening. Infinity can't be removed from infinity. Who is the remover of it? If it itself wants to remove itself, no purpose is served. And to say that infinity alone remains even afterwards makes matters still worse. It is only a symbol.

Visitor: What is the significance of it, Swamiji?

Swamiji: The significance is that the universe is Absolute. It is unlimited, complete. There is neither evolution nor involution, neither going up nor coming down, neither pleasure nor pain, neither hell nor heaven, neither creation nor destruction. Everything is as it ought to be. One cannot understand this point. It will simply make one crazy to think like this.

So, they say there was a Creator, He created the world. You are seeing the world. You want to know who the creator is. Therefore, what can I do? I have to say there is a Creator. Because your desire is to find a creator, we have to find one for you. What happens—you put a further question! So I have to explain the process of evolution and involution. But these are only answers to the questions that arise in the mind of the individual. And these need not necessarily be valid questions. An invalid question cannot evoke valid answers. So, as they say, the devil will have to be paid its due—the answer has to be of the same category as the question. Naturally the argument will proceed on these lines: Since God is Infinite, whatever He creates must also be charged with Infinity. And the process of the coming of the Infinite from the Infinite also should be of the same category. It cannot be something else because God cannot create some non-God from His personality: He alone exists. This is only a symbolic explanation of the imagined process of creation, an answer that is evoked by a question from the mind of the individual which takes it for granted that there is a world outside and therefore it should have been created and, therefore also, there should be a process of coming and going. You have taken everything for granted. You take it for granted that you are there as a person; you don't doubt this point. As a corollary you take it for granted that the world exists. And, therefore, you have to take for granted that the Creator must also be there.

Now, why do you take all this for granted and then expect a logical answer? How do you know that the world exists? Can you answer this question logically? You say: “I see it”. But do you know that what you see need not necessarily exist? Is it true that whatever you see must exist? Is it a logically acceptable proposition? Are there not things in this world which exist but you cannot see them with your eyes? If that is the case, why should the world be there as you see it? Can you say that the proof of the existence of something is in merely seeing it? The moment you see a thing, does it follow that it exists?

Then you've got a peculiar logic of cause and effect. Every effect must have a cause. You see from your experience of the world that something comes from something, and therefore the world looks like an effect. Thus, you insist that there should be a cause. So you imagine also an Extra-Cosmic Creator. In order to satisfy your curiosity you believe God created the universe. But He created it in such a manner that He has become the whole Universe. The full has come from the full—the whole Universe is full. And the process of coming also is full and the returning of it is also full. So it is purely a symbolic explanation, like the X in an equation. The equation can be solved only with X, if the X is not there you can't solve it. Yet the X has no value, you know that? So the valueless thing helps you in finding the solution.

A voice: X has a value always.

Swamiji: But X is meaningless arithmetically, it is not 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. Yet it is a help to you. See? Likewise this entire cosmology that is presented before us by the scriptures or logic or whatever it is, is an 'X' in the solution of a tremendous problem which is before you. And when the problem is solved the X vanishes. It cancels itself.

Visitor: What is meant by a “Swami” Swamiji?

Swamiji: I can't answer your question! I am one. (Laughs.)

Voice: (Laughing) Personal question.

Visitor: But what is the meaning, Swamiji? It must have a connotation. What is swamihood!

Ashramite: Is there such a thing as “swamihood”?

Swamiji: Like Gurudom (laughs). Swamihood is the life of a person who lives the life of a recluse, or to put it in a more popular language, who has become a monk.

Visitor: Swamiji must mean something.

Swamiji: One who is controlled. One who has authority. One who has restrained himself. It can mean all these things.

Another visitor: Swamiji, what is the meaning of Rishikesh?

Swamiji: It is not Rishikesh, it was Hrishikesh which has got corrupted into Rishikesh—'H' is the first letter, not R. Hrishikesh means the land of God—one of Lord Krishna's names is Hrishikesh.

Ashramite. What does it mean?

Another visitor: One who has controlled himself—his senses.

Swamiji: Yes—its literal meaning is that. Hrishika is “senses”. Isa is the Lord—the Lord of the senses is therefore Hrishikesha. People have made it Rishikesh, meaning it as the place of Rishis. And thus later it became RIKHIKESH. They write Rikhikesh also R, I, K, H, I, K, E, S,H. This is a Hindi distortion of a Sanskrit word. See?

Voice: Kes is hair also.

Swamiji: It is not Kes, it is Hrishika and is…

Voice: I thought it was Rishi and Kesh.

Swamiji: No. No. It is not Rishi and Kesh. If you know Sanskrit grammar, this doubt will not arise.        

Another visitor: Swamiji, what is the etymology of the word “swami”?

Swamiji: Well, one who has mastered one's own self, “swa”.

Ashramite: I see.

Visitor: And “mi”?

Swamiji: While “mi” is only a suffix, it is a grammatical peculiarity Sanskrit grammar and...

Voice: That means master of oneself.

Swamiji: Yes. Yes. Especially it means a controller, and a self-controlled person, master of senses, master of one's senses and the mind. But now it has lost its meaning. It has become jargon for anybody who has taken to a social order of monkhood, as you call it.

Visitor: What are the ordeals that a swami has to pass?

Swamiji: Ordeals—is it? You've put a very...

Another visitor: They are not ordeals. They are only disciplines to attain an ideal.

Swamiji: (Laughs heartily). They are naturally ordeals. (Continues to laugh) One who has no personal desires—whose desires are directed to the welfare of all but has no personal desires. No selfishness, see? The renunciation of selfishness is the ordeal through which he has to pass—if you call it an ordeal (laughs heartily). Naturally it is an ordeal, therefore, you can't get out of it. It is like peeling one's own skin, see? You can't remove your own skin without stoic courage. It is so much one with you that you just can't remove it, it is as good as removing yourself. The annihilation of the ego, or selfishness, is like annihilation of your personality itself. So it is so painful. And nobody wants that because love of self is the greatest love. And when you try to annihilate it, you have destroyed yourself, for all practical purposes; it looks as if it won't exist at all. You are nobody. It looks as if you are becoming nothing, though it is a way to become everything later on (laughs again heartily).

Voice: The body itself is the house of God. And so it has to be looked after as the Temple of God?

Swamiji: Looking after the Temple of God doesn't mean selfishness.

Ashramite: (Bursts into laughter.) That's it.

Swamiji: That is quite a different thing. You are looking after the school in which you may be the principal; but you are not attached to that school, you may be transferred tomorrow to another school. You look after that school when you go there. You have no personal feeling towards the school in which you may be the principal or a professor, though you are very carefully looking after it. See? The manager of a bank has no attachment to that bank, even though he carefully looks into everything with concern. He doesn't say, 'it is mine', but he works for it as if it is his and much more than his. So it is a duty that you perform, not an attachment that you manifest in looking after your body the 'Temple' of God.

Voice: So it is your duty to attend to it.

Swamiji: You have got many kinds of duties, but that is different from attachment.

Another visitor: Swamiji, If thoughts originate from the mind...

Swamiji: Thoughts do not originate from the mind. The thoughts are same as the mind. It is like waves rising from the ocean. But the waves and the ocean are the same thing. They are not two things.

Visitor: Then emotions, what are they?

Swamiji: The same thing—they are the mind.

Visitor: They are from the mind Swamiji?

Swamiji: They are the mind. The mind working, mind in movement.

Visitor: Then when they say: “This has come from the heart” what do they mean?

Swamiji: It is emotion, one process of the mind. Normally, thinking is identified as the mind, and understanding with intellect. Assertion is called ego. But all four functions are the same in structure though in different form. They are not four different things.

Ashramite: Swamiji, in one of your expositions you kept saying: “It is the mind that thinks and doubts. It is the mind that thinks and doubts”. You were insistent in repeating these two words. Why? Is doubt not a thought?

Swamiji: It is a thought.

Ashramite: Then why do you say...?

Swamiji: There is impersonal thinking and specified thinking. Doubt is specified thinking.

Ashramite: Specified, I see...

Swamiji: Yes. Specified thinking, whether it is this or that, that is called doubt. But general thinking is, I am seeing something in front of me.

Ashramite: I know, yes.

Swamiji: That is general. In the early morning you see something in hazy light. “Oh I am seeing something… Is it a tree or a man?” That is a doubt.

Ashramite: But wherein comes the necessity to distinguish between these two sides of the same thought?

Swamiji: That is general thinking and specified thinking. It is only a distinction between two forces of thought. When you are merely visualising something, it is called a thought.

Ashramite: Yes?

Swamiji: And when you are doubting whether it is a man or a tree, as I mentioned…

Ashramite: It becomes more personal? More subjective?

Swamiji: Yes, more subjective, more specified and pinpointed to an object.

Ashramite: Pinpointed: that is it.

Swamiji: And when you clearly know that it is only a tree, the intellect is working. It is decided that it is a tree and not a man. And when you see it is a tree of your garden, your emotion is working. So all things are working one after the other in respect of the same object. And, somebody is interfering with your tree! You get angry. That is another part of the mind.

Ashramite: Emotion?

Visitor: There are two aspects in respect of everything, one is feeling, and the other is emotion.

Swamiji: Yes. Love and hatred. They are the two aspects. Likes and dislikes. Love is an emotion, hatred also is emotion. But both are two aspects of the same force, like the waves going forward and falling backwards.

Visitor: Is it right to be ruled by the emotion?

Swamiji: It is not right to be ruled by the emotions. But you are, what can I do? It is not right to be ruled by anybody or anything. It is better to be a master and rule everyone. Why do you want to be ruled by anybody? But you are ruled. That shows you are a slave, you have become subject to that.

Visitor: What do you mean by saying you should work with all your heart?

Swamiji: That means you should not show only lip sympathy, but feel whatever you do and act.

Visitor: How is it that sometimes we hate what we love most?

Swamiji: You have a double attitude towards a person; not only to persons, but to everything. It is not true that you love a person hundred per cent and it is not also true that you hate a person hundred per cent, for various reasons. Under certain conditions you like him and under certain other conditions you do not like him. You like your son very much because he is your son. But under certain conditions you may not like him if he behaves in a way you do not like. You may not even look at his face in spite of the fact that he is your son, due to which fact you love him so much! You have fondled him, educated him, which shows your love for your son. But under certain circumstances, you may not like him. So circumstances determine the attitude of every person or individual. Ultimately love and hate arise on account of misconceptions in the mind. You do not understand a thing correctly. Therefore, you sometimes like it and sometimes you dislike it. Neither are you justified in liking something in him nor are you justified in disliking something in him. Both are wrong notions. You have to understand the true nature of things.

The lunch bell goes and Swamiji asks the visitors to go for lunch.