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Darshan with Swami Krishnananda during 1996
by Swami Krishnananda

11. Everything is Fleeting

(Darshan given on February 2nd, 1996.)

Swamiji: We are all people brought up in an atmosphere of the stature of Swami Sivananda, and so whatever we are thinking is a reverberation of the thoughts of Swami Sivananda. He was, to our knowledge, a superman in the sense that he was more than a human being in the compass of his relationship with the world. We have been told by him, and by other saints and sages with whom we had contact, that this world is not all because everything is fleeting, everything is momentary, as the great Buddha once declared. Everything is fleeting, everything seems to be existing for a moment, rather, and it moves and moves and moves. Buddha considered life as a kind of flowing river, but I do not know whether he has answered the question as to the direction in which the river is moving. If everything is fleeting, it is fleeting in one particular direction. If nothing is stable, nothing exists for more than a moment, then nobody exists. This conclusion will follow. This was a great quandary that people have tried to observe in the teachings of Buddha. If everything is momentary and nothing has stability for even a moment, even the Buddha himself does not exist for more than a moment, and his teaching has no stability.

These questions were raised by other thinkers by saying that either Buddha did not give a clear answer to these obvious questions behind his teaching, or that people have not understood what he was saying. There were many people who felt he was so great that his teachings were not properly grasped by anybody. It is not true that he was saying that everything is moving without something which moves. It is like flying with something which is not there to fly. A bird must be there in order that there is flying. In the case of the meaning that we try to draw from his statements, the bird is not there and only the flying is there. Then the Buddha's teachings also are momentary, and they do not exist even for a moment.

This is not merely the teaching of Buddha; it is also accepted by great yoga teachers like Patanjali. The only thing is, they make a difference, which is to say that unless there is a target, nothing can move. From the birth to death of an individual, there is a growth and a movement towards some aim which life seems to be having, and we are not living for nothing. He lived for something.

Is there any meaning in life at all, or it is totally meaningless? Buddha said anityam asukham: The world is unpleasant and impermanent. That would mean to say that there is no meaning in life because it is unpleasant and it is not at all existing, even for a moment. But everyone feels that one should exist. Nobody wishes to pass away after one moment. There is an inward feeling of a desire to continue to exist and not allow oneself to fly like a momentary flowing drop in the ocean of life, and a simultaneous desire to live as long as possible. No one will feel satisfied by being told that they will be living only for a few months. It is a horror because the limitation put upon one's own existence is a deathblow to the longing to exist for a long time. From this, people have surmised by way of induction that the longing of every individual, of everything whatsoever, is for eternal existence, and not to subject oneself to passing in a form of momentary fluxation.

There are two types of longing, apparently, in every individual. One is the desire to defy time, which catches hold of the throat of everyone and wants to destroy it. “May I not be annihilated” is the wish of everyone from one side. The other side is, “May I have more and more of things. If I have a hundred million dollars, I would like to have five hundred million dollars. If I am the owner of a property extending to hundreds of acres, I would like to extend my domain. I would like to annex more into my kingdom. I would like to rule over the whole world, if possible. Why not? I would like to rule over the skies. Why should I be a limited, foolish man, sitting with a limited position? The more I have, the better for me. Nothing can satisfy my desire for possession because if I possess something, there is an unsatisfactory condition arising due to the existence of something more than what I already have.”

It is said by great masters that the desire to possess more and more in a horizontal fashion is a subtle longing to overcome spatial distance. You do not like to be located in a particular space, and limit your belonging also to a particular area of space. The wider is your existence, the larger is the dimension of your personality. Endless is your desire to expand your personality, so that you would like to be one supreme individual with no necessity to contact anybody else because space includes everybody.

One desire of the human being is to defy the limiting character of space by creating a distance of one thing from another thing. The other desire is to live perpetually, which is the desire to defy the time process. If you overcome subjection to the time process, and also overcome this subjection to spatial limitation, on one side you become eternal, on the other side you become infinite. So the longing of everybody is to merge infinity with eternity, which is a tantalising something, the greatest object of desire of everybody. I would like to be eternal, defying the time process, and infinite, defying the limitations imposed by space. Such a being, if it could be there, is regarded as the Absolute. In religion, we call it God. We call it by any name, like Ultimate Reality, etc.

So the search for the meaning of life, according to what we have understood, seems to be to find such apparatus by which we can become infinite and eternal at the same time. This we call perfection.

You have all heard what I told you. If you have anything to ask me, you are free to ask. Either you have understood what I said or you have not understood what I have said.

Visitor: Swamiji, I can follow your analysis when you say I am not satisfied with only one object. I have to have the other object, and finally I have to have…

Swamiji: Where are the other objects?

Visitor: I have to rule the whole world, you are saying.

Swamiji: I have already told you, the whole world merges into the Infinite, and when you become the Infinite the whole world – all people, America, England, sky, everything – goes into it. So it is not one person. You are not a person at that time. Don't use that word. There is no personality. It is a super-individual existence which includes everything that you call human beings, oceans, stars, everything. The world is not outside that Absolute. It is a manifestation of the Absolute itself, so when you reach the Absolute, you have reached everything. The whole cosmos is identical with you at that time.

It is difficult to conceive it in the mind by people who are accustomed to think purely in empirical terms, sociological terms. To think like this requires great training.

Visitor: Is it possible to think it?

Swamiji: It must be possible. If it is not possible, you have to make it possible. This is called education. By the process of education, you learn what you were unable to understand. The mind is dull. It is not grasping all these mystical and mysterious processes involved in thinking like this. The whole life is a training in getting identified with the Supreme Reality. The whole of life is the process of education. You can never complete your education at any time. You are always a student. Always you are student; knowledge is never complete. It is endless, and you are expecting to be endless in your existence. This is what they usually call in religion God. It is not a person; God is not a person. It is a universal inclusiveness of consciousness. You must be able to catch it in your meditations.

Visitor: Swamiji, I am asking now, when I want to approach this Reality, is it not a mistake for myself to invent this process of time which is necessary?

Swamiji: You are perfectly right. It is a mistake in inventing a process of time. You can overcome it in one minute by your identification of self with the whole thing. The time process ceases in one minute in your meditation. Actually you are right in saying there is no need for a long process of time in achieving it. To achieve a timeless being, time is not necessary, though they are contradictions. Your question is perfectly valid. In your meditation where you identify your existence with all existence, the time process ceases for the time being.

Another visitor: I want to ask, can you tell us something about forgiveness because I see that love is one of the vital things in cultivating our divinity, and very often…

Swamiji: Would you like to be forgiven?

Visitor: Of course.

Swamiji: Then why not forgive others?

Visitor: I want to forgive others, but sometimes there is difficulty. Sometimes we think we have forgiven people, and then maybe after a month or so we realise we haven't completely forgiven.

Swamiji: If you think you are a human being and would like to be forgiven, why should you not concede that same benefit to other people who are just like you?

Visitor: Yes, I agree, but I am saying it seems to me more difficult than that because at times I think I have forgiven people…

Swamiji: There is no difficulty if you agree that other people are as important as you are. If you think that you are superior and they are inferior, you will find it difficult to forgive them. Why not you be a little charitable and feel that others have the same feeling and difficulty as you are having? Humanity is one integrated mass of equilibrated thinking and feeling. We are thinking of humanity, not of one particular individual. So when you say “I would like to be forgiven”, you mean to say that the whole humanity may be forgiven by the mercy of God. Do you understand me?

Visitor: Yes. Thank you.

Another visitor: The question now is, how to merge directly into this Truth, into this Absolute, in this very moment?

Swamiji: You require a very able teacher whom you should consider as a Guru. How long did you stay in this ashram last time?

Visitor: I was here nearly one year altogether.

Swamiji: Do you think in one year you have not understood anything? You have forgotten. Whatever you heard, you have forgotten.

Visitor: I have not, Swamiji.

Swamiji: You cannot afford to forget this because you agree that it is the most valuable thing that you have to do.

Visitor: I agree.

Swamiji: If it is the most valuable thing, you cannot afford to forget it. You say, “How I can do it, how I can do it?” and all that. The question does not arise because nothing is so valuable as this. You will perpetually go on thinking it, and merge yourself in it. The few words that I spoke to you have entered you, and you have understood the meaning, and you have to brood over it again and again, and think nothing else, at least during the time of meditation, though not always. Do you understand me or not?

Visitor: I understand you.

Swamiji: You require a perpetual guide when you have doubts of this kind. A Guru is a person who knows more than what you know, and also knows how to obviate the difficulties that you are facing in your life. He is like a physician who knows what your illness is, and also knows what are the medicines that he has to give you to cure you of this particular metaphysical illness. I don't want to call it psychological. It is metaphysical, something more than a psychological difficulty.

I think you will be perfectly all right. You are a sincere man, as I believe, and with these little things I have told you, you have understood very carefully, and there is no need of repeating it again and again. The only thing necessary is to deeply sit and meditate, and don't think anything else except this thing. Of course, it is not possible to think like this throughout the day, but at least when you sit for meditation, which may be for one hour or two hours, as the case may be. And also, have faith that you are going to get it. You should not go like a doubting Thomas: “It may be or it may not be.” “No, it must be. I have understood it. It has entered into me, and I shall achieve it certainly in this life itself, not in the next birth. I don't want a next birth. Now! What is wrong with me? I'm perfectly all right. I have no defects in me. I am an honest person; I am sincere. I want it!” Assert yourself, and you become that. Whatever you assert in yourself, that you become. You are your own teacher, finally. You must learn the art of positive thinking, and avoid doubts and suspicions of every kind.