Discourse 1: The Universal Fabric of Interrelationships
[Addressed to the students of the Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy]
All of you are new to this place. It is the first time you are coming here. It is a great thing that God has blessed you all to find time to come here, and God has blessed you with all the facilities to come here even from long distances.
Apart from the fact that your intellectual comprehensions of the values of life are going to be enhanced by the teachings and the studies in the Academy, there is another thing which is very important – that you have come to a holy place. You have not come to an ordinary college or university in the midst of the humdrum of life. This is isolated completely from any disturbing atmosphere, and it is a sacred atmosphere.
Rishikesh may be considered as one of the most holy places in India. Large numbers of people are eager to come here. Something attracts them. The very word ‘Rishikesh’ is enchanting. There is a power which originated from time immemorial through the great sages and masters who lived here right from the time of Rama and Krishna. We are told that Rama came here, and Krishna was born very near us in Matura. These are the great gods whom people worship; they have come here. They have trodden the sands of this Mother Ganga. The sands of Mother Ganga are very sacred and are greatly purifying. Ganga has not only mineral values but also divine values. Even in the Rig Veda, the holiest and most ancient scripture of this country, Ganga is heralded as a divinely creative power.
There are many different stories of the descent of Ganga. There was a king called Sagara who had a large number of children. Kings in India had a habit of performing a horse sacrifice. They would free a horse to move in any direction it chose, and if any king along its way caught the horse and did not allow it to move further, the king who released the horse would fight with that king and overcome him, and annexe his total kingdom for himself. This was the intention of the asvamedha yagnas.
It is believed, according to tradition, whoever completes 100 sacrifices of this kind will reach the heaven of Indra, the leader of the gods in heaven. This was a fashion for all the kings. They wanted to become the leader of the gods in heaven, and King Sagara also wanted to achieve that blessing.
But Indra was always ready to put an obstacle in the completion of this sacrifice. He would do something, some mischief, so that the sacrifice was not completed. So he stole this horse and he tied it to a tree near a great sage called Kapila, who was one of the minor Avataras of Lord Vishnu. The intention of Indra was that those people who followed the horse would take it back, and would attack him, and Kapila’s wrath would destroy them completely. This was the trick played by Indra.
When the people following the horse saw it tied to the tree, they imagined that the sage sitting nearby must be the thief, so they attacked him. But he was not an ordinary sage. When Kapila heard noise from all sides created by those who followed the horse, he opened his eyes. When he opened his eyes, fire came out of them, and that fire burned all the people into ashes. They lay dead.
King Sagara, who sent these people, wanted to know what had happened because they had not returned. He sent another person, his second son, to find out what had happened. He found that everyone was gone once and for all. He grieved very much, and did a lot of tapas, but that tapas was not of much aid. When he died, his second son, Bhagiratha, tried his best to bring Ganga to the ground so that she may flow over these ashes and the dead ones would attain salvation.
Ganga was not on this Earth. Ganga was supposedly in a little pot, a holy kamandal in Brahmaloka, ruled by the Creator of the universe. Bhagiratha did tapasya and prayed to Brahma, “Please release Ganga for the benefit of these people who are all dead and gone.” Brahma said, “She cannot be released like that.”
After some time, Lord Vishnu would take the Avatara of Vishwarupa in connection with some other instance. His universal leg would touch up to the skies and then he would topple the kamandal and the Ganga would fall down. So Bhagiratha went on waiting for this occasion and, as we have heard of in Srimad Bhagavatam, Vishnu took the form of Vamana Avatara. He did not send Vamana Avatara to topple the Ganga. His intention was only to subdue the Ganga so that she should flow over the ashes. But the Ganga fell down with such tremendous force that she could have contained the Earth and gone inside, and the purpose would have not been fulfilled.
Then Bhagiratha prayed to Lord Siva, “O Lord, please hold Ganga on your head by force so that she may not go deep into the Earth.” Ganga fell on Lord Siva’s head, and was held up within his hair. But the purpose was not served by Ganga being on Siva’s head. He must let her down to the Earth so that she may flow over the ashes of the dead ones. Again Bhagiratha prayed to Lord Siva: “Dear God, I request to you release Ganga from your hair.” Siva released her, and Ganga fell with such tremendous force that she washed away the kutir, the hermitage, of a sage called Jahnu.
Jahnu, the sage, was very angry. “You have come and destroyed my hermitage.” He took the whole of Ganga in his hand and swallowed her. He had such yoga shakti. The Ganga was swallowed, and now all this tapas was a waste. Again Bhagiratha prayed to Jahnu Maharsi, “Please let Ganga come down.” Then Jahna let her down. Because she was connected with the sage Jahnu, Ganga is called Jahnavi, a derivative of the word ‘jahnu’. Jahnavi is one of the names of Ganga. Then she flowed over the ashes of the dead ones, and they attained salvation. So Ganga flowed from the high heaven through the astral regions down to the Earth.
Now you are on the bank of this great Mother Ganga. The very breeze that blows from her is sanctifying. The Vedas describe the glory of Ganga in high theological terms. You are here on the foothills of the Himalayas where the holy breeze wafts on our heads. Here it is that great Masters lived. Rama and Krishna also came here, and great sages lived here – Vasishtha, Vyasa, Sukadeva, and many other Masters – sanctifying the whole ground of this place. And you are here. This is a blessing, apart from the teachings that will be imparted to you in the Academy. Intellectual exercise along the line of expansion of knowledge and learning is the basic foundational intention of the establishment of this Academy by the great Master, saint and sage Sri Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj.
We are sitting, inundated by the grace of everybody in this most holy place, Rishikesh. What is it that the Academy will teach you? The intention of the founder of this institute called the Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy is to build up the personality of a human being. You will be wondering what is the meaning of this. Are you not all built up properly? Are you not hale and hearty? You will be thinking that you are well off, and there is nothing wrong with you. But there is something fundamentally wrong with anyone with fractional thinking. You may think one thing and not another thing, as when you want one thing, you will not want another thing. When you see one thing, you will not see another thing. This is called fractional perception and fractional mentation, and a human being cannot exist as a fragment of the perceptional and psychological values. You will be perfectly hale and hearty in a larger sense. What makes you what you are is the way in which you are thinking. You can imagine, “What have I been thinking since morning?” It has been all scattered ideas running helter-skelter, here and there, pursuing their objectives.
We hear these days that basically the mind is a compact whole. Modern psychology uses the word ‘holistic’, by which is intended ‘whole’ – wholistic, but spelt as holistic. The basic substance of the mind is a total thinking. The mind has lost this totality of perception and vigil due to some tragedy that befell it during the time of creation itself, so it has to reconstruct itself into a coherent and perceptive being which is perfect in its logical conclusions, emotional activities, and external performances. There should be harmony between what you understand, what you feel, and what you do. Mostly this harmony is not available. You cannot make meaning of the division between the intellectual comprehensions, emotional feelings, and outward actions, so they look like three different things. I may understand anything, I may feel anything else, and I may do a third thing. This is the tragedy of life. You think you are doing three different things when you understand, feel and act, but you are doing one thing – the releasing of the power which makes you a whole being.
No human being is confined to the intellect, or to the emotion, or to the impulse to act and to go on doing work. These three things are three ramifications of a single impulse to be complete in oneself. Otherwise, what will happen to you if you understand things in one way, feel them in a different way, and then work for them in a third way? You will be a completely distracted, torn personality. Most of the people in the world are torn into pieces. In a moment they change their thoughts. Every moment they change their desires, and none of their desires can be fulfilled. Only if your whole being acts, the desires can be fulfilled. But you will not find a whole being acting anywhere. A part of the brain is operating, and a part of the feeling. Mostly the feelings do not agree with the understanding of the brain. They are like the husband and wife quarrelling. The emotion says one thing, feeling says one thing, and the understanding says another thing. There is a perpetual conflict between logical understanding and emotional impulse.
Everyone is passing through this conflict in life. You feel it should be like this, but the intellect says no, it is not all right. The logic of the intellect and the feeling of the emotions should come together into a single force of total understanding. This is possible only by an act of meditation. Meditation is not doing something, but trying to expand the dimension of your being itself. This was the intention of Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj.
Now, what are you supposed to do? You have to find time in order to be yourself for some time in the life of everyday existence. You think of a hundred things, but there must be a time when you do not think like that, when you think of yourself only. What is your worth or value? Each person can deeply think over: What is my worth? Do I have any, or are the so-called values appearing to be in me foisted on me by external circumstances? Are you important because the external conditions make it possible for you to envision the actual conditions; or if these external conditions are completely separated and you are living alone, are you an important person even then?
An elephant has its own strength. Its strength does not increase by the votes of people. People do not have to raise hands, “Elephant, you are very powerful.” It has got an intrinsic strength. There are officials who have great power of governmental service, but when they retire, the power goes away. Are you able to maintain the strength within yourself even if you retire from your governmental service? That is called intrinsic strength. You are yourself complete and perfect, and you need not have to take the assistance of things that are outside you to make yourself perfect. It cannot actually increase the dimension of your personality by dovetailing things that are outside. If one thing is dovetailed to another, they cannot really join together. Whatever be the help you are receiving from outside is also to improve your personality. You are fragile internally. Your strength has to be built up from within by the adjustment of values in the mind itself, and an internal relationship with the whole creation. The yoga that people speak of is actually a systematic art of ascending from the lower region of the personality as you conceive it to be and expand it beyond the physical frame in which it is encased, expand it beyond the four walls of the body, and comprehend the objects of the world as inseparable from your existence.
Now we come to a subject called yourself and that which you perceive. Philosophically this is described as the relationship between subject and object. When you see a thing that appears to be an object of your perception, and you are a subject, what is the relationship between the subject and the object? What is the relationship between yourself as the perceiver and the object that is perceived?
Like unlettered folk, we glibly say that we are perceiving. The perceptional process is so intricate that it is not that we suddenly jump on the object in order to perceive it or commune with it. An undercurrent takes place between the subject and the object to bring them together into a meaningful relation of cognition and perception and, much more, to bring them together into a sort of identity in the final stage wherein that which you are and that which you see with your eyes do not stand apart from one another.
This consciousness within you which cognises an object outside becomes aware of the object. How does it become aware of the object? You think your mind is inside your body. The eyes are in the socket within the body. How does it become possible for you to cognise or perceive an object that is at a distance? The object does not enter your eyes, nor does it enter into your mind. Your mind does not touch the object. Your sense organ, the perceptional medium, does not touch the object. The object may be very far away, yet you are cognising it and becoming affected by the nature of the object. How has some interaction taken place between yourself and the object? You may not know what is actually happening. How do two things totally different from each other, placed at a distance from one another, act and react unless there is an undercurrent of activity taking place in a submerged area of consciousness deeper than the superficial waking consciousness?
There are levels of consciousness. One is the superficial sensory awareness. You are aware of everything in the world by means of the activity of the sense organs. This is the uppermost layer of consciousness. But below is the subliminal consciousness, sometimes called the subconscious. It is the storehouse of all the impulses of perception and action. And still deeper is what psychologists generally call the unconscious. That is the state into which you enter every day while you are asleep. While you are asleep, when you are not conscious of anything, you are not non-existent. You do not know that you are existing in the state of deep sleep because consciousness is covered over by a mist or a cloudy substance which consists of the potentials of unfulfilled desires. Whenever desires are fulfilled, you feel perfectly all right. You work hard every day to fulfil one desire or the other, as all the desires cannot be fulfilled simultaneously.
Your desires are so many that one life is not sufficient to fulfil them all, so their unfulfilled potentials get buried in the unconscious level, or the deep sleep level. The unfulfilled potentials do not leave you. They pursue you through your incarnations, whatever be their number. That potential of the unfulfilled desires is the occasion for a reincarnation, another birth. Why is another birth necessary? Because a desire is a live force, it cannot keep quiet. It insists that it should be fulfilled. Every desire asks for fulfilment, and if the body is not able to live long enough to be able to fulfil all the desires, it is shed. That is called death. The germinating desires which are not given an avenue of approach rise up in the next birth. There you take a body in a particular circumstance where it is possible to develop faculties of fulfilment of the remaining desires, and life goes on like that.
There again the reborn soul develops further desires. As long as your individuality is maintained, desires cannot stop. There again this accumulation of unfulfilled desires harassing the mind will continue. Then there is death of the body a second time and another, third birth, takes place. This is called samsara, the unending cycle of being born and dying. This has to be put an end to. We should not have to be born again and again only to suffer and then die. How do you put an end to this cycle of birth and death? By abolishing conditions which create desires. What are the conditions which create desires? The conditions for rebirth are the desires for external objects.
Is there anything called externality, or not? Is there such a thing called the external world, unconnected with you? Think over this matter. People think the external world is unconnected with them. They say, “What does it matter what happens anywhere? I walk on the road independently.” This cannot be done because if the world is completely unconnected with you, you would not desire for anything in the world. Who will desire for a thing with which they are unconnected? That there is a desire to possess things as if they are totally external to one’s own consciousness shows that though they appear to be external, they are not really external. The world is a universal being; it is not an external object. The moment you think it is external, you will be in great trouble. On the one hand you want to possess the things of the world, and on the other hand you cannot possess them because they are external. This is the tragedy of samsara.
The panacea for overcoming this difficulty is to not consider the world as external to you. There is nothing external to you, really speaking. Everything is connected to you through the universal fabric of interrelationships. This is something very new that you are hearing. Everything is connected to everything else. Whether you think through a scientific or logical way or through meditation, you will realise that nothing in the world is totally outside you. The whole point is, if it is totally outside, you will not hanker after it. Who will hanker after a thing which is not connected with you? That shows there is an undercurrent of connection between you and everything else.
This act of meditation on the interrelationship of everything with everything else will make your mind a cosmic mind. A mind that can think the interrelationship of everything with everything else is not an ordinary human mind. It is a super-mind. Nobody thinks like that. Can you think of the interrelationship of everything with everything? Your mind will stop thinking at that time. It becomes a cosmic mind which has no object in front of it, and therefore, you should not hanker after objects. Therefore, there is no rebirth. This leads to salvation. This is the technology of the method of thinking and meditation by which you can put a stop to the samsara of birth and death and the agony of living in the world.
Great effort has to be put forth. Everything is connected to everything, as every thread in a cloth is connected to every other thread. The cloth that you speak of is only an interrelated activity of many threads. In a similar manner, the world that you are thinking of in your mind is only a fabric of threads of desires, personally or externally, which constitute an apparent sheet of observation. Every thread is connected to every thread of the cloth. In a similar way, every thing is connected organically, in a vital manner, with every other thing in the world, so that the world is one whole. It is not for your enjoyment. You cannot enjoy a part of your body. The world is made up of the same substance as your personality is made up of, just as you do not have to cling to your legs or your nose, and you do not have to go on hugging your hands – because it is you. You do not have to hug your hands because you yourself are the hands. Likewise, the so-called objects of the world will not tempt you, will not attract you, similar to the way your hands do not attract your attention. You do not have a desire for the limbs of your body. They are you, and therefore, no desire is possible.
In this way, expand your consciousness to the area of the whole creative existence, the whole world, and you will find that you are everywhere. As your body is everywhere in all parts of the body, in all limbs – in the ears and nose and legs and heart and lungs and everywhere, your body is there – in a similar way you will find you are everywhere because of the interconnection of one thing with another thing. You are connected to everything right from the Earth to the heavens. There is no isolated existence anywhere because of the necessary interconnection of the subject and the object, until a stage is reached where the subject merges with the object and, vice versa, the object merges with the subject. You remain a cosmic whole. This thought is called God thought. God does not think like us because there is nobody outside God. There is no thing. That is why God cannot have any desires. He desires Himself only.
Can you imagine that you are in that position where you yourself and that which you think of in your mind are clubbed together and you become one whole, in a larger fashion, so that you become wider and wider until you are as wide as the whole sky and beyond the sky, beyond the stars, because even that which is beyond the stars is an object? That object cannot stand before you because of the interconnection of all things. Everything is everywhere. This is God-consciousness. This is the art of meditation.
This meditation has to be carried on every day, in the morning and evening, for as long as possible. It is necessary for you to reconstruct your personality and refurbish your mental way of thinking: You do not have to apply too much logic of the brain, of the emotions, of the feeling, or of the impulse to the activity of the hands, but you stand whole as one integral being, which is the very condition of God-consciousness.
Do you understand what I am saying? Think over this deeply. And during the coming occasions I will try to tell you something more about this so that you may feel not only well educated in the Academy but also happy in your whole personality, and that you go from here as a new person altogether. That will be your blessing.