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Darshan with Swami Krishnananda during 1996
by Swami Krishnananda

12. Attaining Moksha

(Darshan given on February 3rd, 1996.)

A spiritual teacher: What I've been thinking about a lot lately and speaking about a lot lately is that the key to a perfect liberation and a perfect understanding is the secret of being able to not know anything and to hold on to absolutely no trace of knowledge in order to feel and be secure in this world. So what I've been thinking and speaking about a lot is this delicate balance about how to be very much here in this world of time and space, and yet in order to be here and to feel very comfortable, very at ease, very deeply at ease, the secret is just to learn how to hold on to absolutely nothing and to feel that one doesn't need to know anything in order to be.

Swamiji: Your organisation is called Moksha Foundation, isn't it?

Teacher: Yes.

Swamiji: It enables people to attain moksha.

Teacher: That's the idea.

Swamiji: But people have several different ideas about moksha.

Teacher: No doubt.

Swamiji: Moksha literally is supposed to mean freedom, but freedom from what? The answer to this question also is multitudinous. A person is in a prison. When he is freed from the prison, you can say that he has achieved moksha of some kind. He has removed the bondage of being in a prison. Liberation from bondage is moksha, so being freed from prison life can also be called moksha in one sense.

A person is bound by social restrictions and regulations, which makes a person unhappy. If social restrictions are lifted up, one may be considered to be free from some kind of social bondage. There is also political bondage. There is psychological bondage. There is intellectual bondage. And so these are all lower types of liberation. Even to be freed from hunger and thirst is a kind of moksha.

But actually, as far as the common interpretation of it is concerned, in India particularly, moksha is freedom from reincarnation, freedom from the necessity to be born again into this body, or rather, we may say it is the freedom from the finitude of one's existence. We are physically finite, socially finite. In every sense we are finite because of the fact there is some external atmosphere which limits our operation. No one can be entirely free individually in the world as long as there are other people who also seek the same kind of freedom, because the existence of another is a limitation on the freedom of one person. One person cannot have infinite freedom because there are other people who also would like to have infinite freedom, so infinites and infinites will clash. So we have only relative freedom in this world – comparatively good, but not absolutely all right.

The infinite freedom is what we seek. Limited freedom is not satisfying. Nothing limited can satisfy a person. Everything should be unending, vast in dimension, and also imperishable. The freedom should not be perishable freedom. You are free for one day; tomorrow again you are in bondage. People in the court are let off with bail. That person seems to be a little bit free, but he is caught by the net of the necessity to go again to the court and be questioned and perhaps may be even be sent back to prison. So relative freedom, tentative freedom, conditional freedom – on these conditions you have freedom – is as good as having no real freedom. We want, for instance, health. It should be unconditional health. We do not want to be conditionally healthy in our body because conditional health is limited health, and limited health is no health at all.

So I am coming to the point of the meaning of moksha. It is the freedom of consciousness from the sense of finitude. We have consciousness; everyone is conscious, but the old habit of imagining that the consciousness is within the brain, within the body, prevents the experience of the unlimited expanse of consciousness. If my consciousness is inside my body only, then that consciousness has no infinite compass in its operation. If the consciousness is within the body only, what happens to that consciousness when the body is no more alive? This is a very difficult question to answer. Does the consciousness also cease to exist when the body loses consciousness?

There are doctrines in the West, such as behaviourism, which hold that consciousness is an accretion of the brain cells; it is an accretion of material forces. Communist doctrine and materialism hold a similar view that consciousness is an epiphenomenon, an exudation from matter. What exists is only matter, and if anyone says there is also consciousness which is other than matter, the answer of these people is it is an exudation of matter. That is to say, matter only exists, and what we call consciousness is only an emanation of matter. By this statement they seem to solve the controversy of the relationship between consciousness and matter. But they do not realise that their argument has a flaw because if consciousness emanates from matter, matter should have consciousness inherent in it. A matchstick emanates flame. That flame is potentially present in the matchstick. So matter has latent consciousness in it in order that consciousness may emanate from it.

Now, conceding that consciousness is hidden in matter, in which part of matter is consciousness located? Since matter is ubiquitous – the whole universe is matter – it would mean that consciousness is potential in the whole of matter. We cannot say that there is only a little bit of matter emanating consciousness. The whole universe of matter emanates consciousness. Even taking the stand of the materialists and the behaviourists, they don't realise that this contradiction that arises from their doctrine. The whole of the material universe is potentially consciousness, which means to say, in other words, the universe is consciousness. As they say that there is nothing outside matter, by a logical deduction of this situation we come to the conclusion that there is nothing outside consciousness because of the very fact that consciousness is hidden in matter.

Now, we are all included in this vast universe. We are not outside the universe. For the time being I am using the word ‘we', though it is not an adequate description of our situation. If the whole universe is aglow, radiating with consciousness, what are we then, who are inseparable from the universe? We are consciousness, which cannot be located in any particular place. Matter cannot be located in any particular place, so consciousness cannot be located in any particular place. Therefore, we are not existing in one place only; we are existing everywhere. This is moksha. This is called spirituality.

The appreciation of this particular thing which I have been expatiating during these few minutes, and the transformation of one's existence into this great position that we have arrived at, is spiritual life. It does not mean reading a book – Bible or Gita or Upanishad – it does not mean going on pilgrimages, it is not worshiping in a church or in a temple. This is spirituality. It is hidden within you, hidden within everybody. I briefly mentioned it is all in all, and we are inseparable from that, so basically every one of us is all in all. As there cannot be several all in alls – the all in all can be one only – then our so-called multiplicity, individuality and sociability get melted down into this menstruum of the indescribable glory that awaits us.

What you call evolution in the modern sense is nothing but the development of potential consciousness to the infinitude of consciousness. That is evolution, whether it is biological, psychological or sociological. These days we talk much about evolution. We have got Darwin's theory of evolution, and many other people in the West have developed doctrines and theories of types of evolution, all which boil down finally to this attempt of the finite centre to expand itself to the unlimited that it should be. If you have fully grasped it and it has entered your mind, you have become that by the deep appreciation of it, then you must consider yourself as most blessed. But if you find any difficulty in maintaining this position in your life, then you can tell me what difficulty you are facing. We shall try to remove these problems, because problems are meant to be solved. They should not be kept there as problems only. Every problem is required to be solved, and if there is anything, that has to be solved.

There will be one difficulty which is common to everybody, and especially common to Semitic religions – Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Islam. They have one common feature of asserting the Ultimate Reality as a transcendental existence. They never like to use the word ‘immanence' of God. There are mystical aspects of these religions also, which accept the immanence of the otherwise Transcendent Being. The limitation imposed upon us by the operation of space and time compels us to feel that God is beyond space and time, the Absolute is far, far away, beyond the stars. The Father in heaven, the Allah or whoever is the God, is not in this world. And Christianity adds a clause further by saying that the world is evil, it is sinful. The earlier you get rid of this sinful world, the better for you.

The immanence of God in the world is refuted because God cannot be present in a simple world. Here is a special doctrine of Orthodox Christianity. But yet there is also another set of Christians who are called the mystics of Christianity. There are mystics in Islam, called Sufis. The prevalent types of Islam, Sunni and Shia, reject the Sufi doctrine of the immanence of God. These Sufis, who propounded the infinitude and the immanence of God everywhere, were hanged, they were impaled, because Islam always asserts that God is transcendent – far, far, far.

So moksha also will be very far. Reaching God is not an immediate possibility. How many kilometres away is God? You cannot answer this question. So the very assumption that God, or the Absolute, is distant is unfounded, logically indefensible. If God maintains a distance, He will maintain the distance forever. If that is the case, there is no question of moksha, or of reaching God. So there is this contradiction in the doctrine of the complete transcendence of the Creator of the universe.

In India also we have got such doctrines. I don't know if you are all acquainted with the philosophical systems of India. The main features of Indian thought are theology. One is that God is irreconcilable with human individuality; this system is called dualism. Human deformity of existence can never be reconciled with God's kingdom. You are always separate from God.

There is another doctrine which says you are not identical with the Absolute, but you are a quality, an expression or an adjective of the Absolute. The example given of this adjective is as is the relationship between the soul and the body. The soul is not the body, which is well known to everybody, and yet you cannot separate the body from the soul. You cannot keep your soul somewhere and body somewhere else. So this doctrine, known as Visishtadvaita, a doctrine propounded by a great philosopher-saint called Ramanuja of the bhakti cult, or the cult of devotion, propounds the doctrine of the organic relation of God, even as the body is organically related to the soul but it is not identical with the soul.

There is another doctrine which is called non-dualism. The main propounder of it is Acharyasankara, and its base is the Upanishad. The Upanishad declares sarva khalvidam brahma: All this is the Absolute.

I am just mentioning there are varieties of doctrines in the world, and if we are to accept only that which is rationally acceptable and logically sensible, we are perforce brought to the conclusion that God, the Absolute, is consciousness, the meaning of which I tried to explain a few minutes before. And you are that stupendous Absolute consciousness. The relationship between you and the Absolute is not a relation at all, just as there is no relation between a drop of water in the ocean and the ocean itself because the ocean does not contain drops. The ocean itself is a big drop. So our relationship is no relation, it is total organic identity. If God is a blessed being, we are all equally blessed because we are inseparable from that Supreme Being we call the Absolute. The achievement of this great goal is moksha. Here I stop. Is there anything you want to say?

Teacher: You put me in meditation listening to you.

Swamiji: This itself is a meditation. The establishment of consciousness in the Absolute persistently, as long as possible, is meditation. Actually, we have no other duty except meditation. We are born for that, live for that, and will die for that. All other activities are only accessories to this great aim. Hari Om. God bless you.