13. The Background of Thought
(Darshan given on February 4th, 1996.)
[Sri Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj was talking about his responsibilities as General Secretary of The Divine Life Society.]
A spiritual teacher: How do you sleep?
Swamiji: How do I sleep? It is a great question. I get very good sleep, no problem. When I go to sleep, I cease to be a human being as much as possible. I connect myself with all the five elements – earth, water, fire, air, ether, sun, moon, stars, space-time, everything. If that is possible, there is nothing that can disturb your mind because that which is going to disturb you is within this universal campus of creation as a whole. I take a deep breath, and switch on the consciousness to the consciousness present in everything anywhere so that there is nothing that can prevent the mind from going to sleep.
People cannot sleep because there are agitations caused by circumstances outside. At that time, the circumstances get identified with everything, which is the whole of creation, and inasmuch as I cannot stand outside creation, the agitation loses meaning. The universe cannot agitate itself. This is one form of meditation. At least, I am trying to be in this type of mood throughout the day. It is not only during the hour when we sit for meditation because even when we are not sitting for meditation, the soul may depart, and does it mean that the soul should depart when there is some non-universal thought in the mind? Then immediately it will take rebirth. Rebirth is caused by the affirmation of finitude of oneself and the separation of oneself from the Infinite. Meditation is the strong exercise of consciousness to be one with that from which it can never be separated.
One can pass away in the bathroom, or when you are taking lunch a little grain of food may get stuck in the throat and somebody dies at that moment. You cannot tell this predicament, “Please wait until I sit for meditation.” Any moment is a moment for exit from this world, and therefore any moment is a moment for meditation.
We do a lot of work, and nobody can sit quiet without doing anything. But we have a technique of identifying all activity with the Cosmic Being so that action does not stand apart from meditation. In Western parlance there is a saying: contemplation in action. How is it possible to contemplate when you are acting? There is a feeling that activity is a part of this world, and that meditation belongs to the other world. It is not so. There is no such thing as this world and the other world. It is one mass of interconnected organic being, so the actions that you perform are also within the campus of this universal inclusiveness. This should be the background of thought, though outwardly you may be busy with certain things. There is a little difference between the background of thought and the ordinary thought connected with normal work of the day.
I will give an example as to what the background of thought is. You have to catch a railway train. It is time to go to the railway station. You are busy. You have to run immediately to purchase a ticket. This may be considered as an activity connected with the world, but that person who is so busy in thinking that it is time to leave this place, run to the railway station, purchase a ticket and see that he has a seat in the train, with all these thoughts suppose he has in his pocket a large amount of currency notes. He will never forget in the busy activity of going and purchasing a ticket, etc., that there is something very valuable in his pocket. Even when he goes to the bathroom, he will remember this. This is the background of thought of that which is the most valuable thing for that person. Going to the railway station and purchasing a ticket is a valuable exercise, but with that attention in the direction of going to the railway station, the attention towards that which is in his pocket cannot be obviated. That is called the background of thought.
There is a person in prison. There is a judicial order that he will be executed three days afterwards. But every day he is getting food, he can take bath, he can read a book. With all the things that he is doing – eating, taking rest, and taking a bath – he will never forget that he will be here only for three days. That is the background of thought. It will persist again and again: Gentleman, you are here for three days more. Together with this background of thought, he will have the thought of eating food, reading, taking a bath, etc. Like this is to be our exercise.
There should not be a difference between spirituality and secularism. We always talk of secular life and spiritual life. We do not believe in such a bifurcation. It is like cutting off the world from God. Will you be able to cut God off from the world? The world has come out as an organic emanation of God's being, and if you consider anything connected with the world as secular, then the relationship of the world with God also will be secular, and you are injecting a little bit of secularism into God also, which is not possible. The secularism that we are thinking of in our mind is only an outward motivation of consciousness through the sense organs in the direction of what actually is not outward. The world is not external to the consciousness because the world is organic with the Creator of the world, which includes ourselves also. Therefore, anything that you do is organic to God's existence. Therefore, any performance should not be regarded as unspiritual. There is nothing unspiritual in a world which is created by God. Would God create unspiritual or ungodly things?
If you are convinced that we cannot impute any such error to God that He has created something which is different from Him, then that which is different from Him should have come from Him only; therefore, there cannot be anything different from Him. Thus, we become happy always. With all the multitudes of noises and activities, we keep calm in our mind, and we can have good sleep. This is my answer to you, how I sleep. [laughter]
A foolish person cannot be happy in this world. There must be a little bit of wisdom worth the while, and if you persist in not understanding the circumstances under which you are living, you require education – education in the light of your relationship with the whole environment of the cosmos. We do not belong to any country. There is no country, actually. The whole globe of the Earth is one mass of matter, and do you think the Earth is always thinking that this side is America, and that side is India? Is the Earth thinking like that? There is no such thing. It is only a demarcation that you have made psychologically for your convenience. There are no countries on the face of the Earth. It is only one mass of material substance.
In the same way is the case with everything else. I am repeating the same thing which I mentioned earlier: We belong to the family of God, as religious people say. Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of humanity is the way in which religions speak of our relationship to things in the world and above. To be truly spiritual, the idea of God being above should be removed from the mind. That which is above is certainly at a distant place; it will take time to reach you, and when you are in trouble it cannot help you. Hence, only that can be ready to assist you in your difficulty which is not away from you. If God is sitting beyond the stars and He takes time to come here, by that time you will perish here. There is no distance between God and what He created. It is one integral existence, of which everything conceivable – yourself and myself and everybody – are vitally related, and even the relationship, the relation itself, is part of this organism.
The cells of our body are organically connected with our being. Therefore, we do not feel that we are a bundle of little, little cells. We feel that we are one integrated individual, notwithstanding the fact that we are made up of little, little pieces of brick, millions of them, known as cells. But in spite of the fact that these cells are multitudinous, we do not feel that we are made up of little bits of brick, of material substance, because there is a vital, conscious relationship established between the cells and what we think we are, so that the so-called relationship of one with the other is also constituted of consciousness only.
Yesterday I mentioned that all is the Absolute. When you utter this, a tremendous shock should enter your being, like a high-voltage current entering the body. If you touch a high-voltage current, what do you feel at that time? A shudder, impossible to describe. Sri Ramakrishna Parmahamsa, the well-known saint, used to say the entering of the Absolute into your being is like a wild elephant entering a thatched hut. It will break open everything and make itself as the owner, the very existence of that hut. You cease to be when God enters into you.
It is very difficult to understand the situation. God is so concerned with Himself, so to say, that He would not permit the existence of anything outside Him. That is why the reality of God is called ‘I am what I am'. I am, that's all. You cannot say that another thing is. He won't permit your existence. He will absorb you into Himself so that you cease to be there.
Yesterday I referred to Semitic religions, which are not able to understand the possibility of this kind of unity with the Universal Substance. They are very fanatical. They will not tolerate any kind of talk like this because they think the world is sinful and you are a sinner from the time of Adam himself. How can a sinner become God, or even touch God or go near God? This is one doctrine. If we are essentially sinners, we shall never become divine because one thing cannot become another thing. A is A only; A cannot be B. It is simple logic. So there is a flaw in this doctrine that a human being is a sinner. If one thing is one thing, it will be that only, forever; one thing cannot become another thing. So if there is a possibility of a sinner becoming divine, the divinity must be implicit in that which you call the sinner.
I mentioned yesterday that if all this is matter, then that which knows matter should be implicit in every part of matter. Likewise, the divinity, which is quite different from sinfulness, has to inundate the entire particle of the existence of sinfulness; otherwise, the sinner cannot reach God. So there is a difficulty and a great mistake in dubbing things in the world as sinful things and then trying to reach God. They are contradictions. The ladder between Earth and heaven, God's existence, has necessarily to have a connection between what is below and what is above. You cannot climb the ladder unless the ladder touches Earth as well as heaven.
So there are some very erroneous religions, which I can designate only as fanatical and fundamentalist, and totally misguiding, which we have to rise above with the effort of our conviction of what the Almighty existence is. If we have doubts, then there is no greater obstacle to us than doubts. No other obstacle is there except in our disbelief in what we are trying to do in the spiritual field. A person has entered the spiritual field and doubts: Is it a feasible way, or it is an erroneous way, or I am confounded? Finally, a doubt will come: Is there a thing called the Absolute Being? Am I going to reach it? How will I reach it? Is the method that I am adopting correct or not? Is my Guru a proper Guru, or may I go to another Guru? These kinds of doubts, like an avalanche, will descend upon a person. Faith is absolutely essential in what one does. A faithless work is no work at all. The mind is elsewhere, and you are doing something else.
So I feel that spiritual life is very easy, and I think that nothing can be so easy as that because to be what actually is must be the easiest thing, and to be what is not is a difficult thing. It is easy to tell a truth, but it is more difficult to tell a lie. You have to scratch your head a hundred times to tell an untruth, but truth automatically manifests itself because it is the nature of what is. We cannot connect ourselves with what is not.
Therefore, the great duty of every person is to know what actually is; and if there is a difference between what is and is not, then what is the relationship between the two? That relation also is abolished because it cancels the distinction between what is and what is not. This is a little bit of metaphysical argument, but it is very simple to understand.
Coming to the conclusion, we are blessed to be able to think in a proper way, and to decide once and for all that we have no other duty than to be totally immersed in this All-Being, which is all-perfection, all-knowledge, all-power, deathless, immortal blessedness. In the Sanskrit language it is Sat-Chit-Ananda. It is; therefore it is called Sat. It is conscious; therefore it is called Chit. It is total freedom; therefore it is called Ananda. Existence which is conscious of itself is total freedom. These three words are not different from one another. It is a difficulty in language that makes us use three different words. Existence is conscious that it exists; therefore, it is totally free. This is what you call God. Existence, consciousness, bliss are not three different words. There is a grammatical difficulty in expressing this condition, but if you can deeply think over the matter, you can imagine what it is to be conscious that there is existence. Existence is undivided; everything exists, so it is the consciousness of undivided existence. Therefore, there cannot be anything outside the undividedness, nothing to cause agony and bondage to you, so it is freedom and bliss: existence-consciousness-bliss. But it is not my existence, or that man's existence, or this person's existence; it is all-existence. All-existence is all-consciousness and all-freedom. This is how we can define God, if at all. What else can I tell you?
Teacher: Nothing. [laughter]
Swamiji: This is what some of us here are trying to achieve in our life. With all the activities, this background of thought is always there. We are very busy, yes it is true, but we know there is a huge treasure. I cannot forget that. That background of thought should be maintained always.