A- A+

Darshan with Swami Krishnananda during 1997
by Swami Krishnananda

22. The Characteristics of a Saint

(Darshan given on March 6th, 1997.)

A visitor: When was this established as a holy place?

Swamiji: Sixty years back, in the year 1936. It was founded by a great saint.

Visitor: What caused him to be a saint? Was he made a saint or did he do good work?

Swamiji: When a person is established in God, he becomes a saint. He does not become a saint by doing good work. Even a person who is not a saint can do a lot of good work, but that is not the criterion. The soul must be centralised in God; then that person can be called a saint. But if this consciousness of God is absent, any amount of service means nothing. It has no value. So that is the difference between a social welfare worker and a saint. A saint also can do a lot of social welfare, but the social welfare is not identical with saintliness. They are two different things.

Visitor: So how is sainthood manifested?

Swamiji: Manifested? He doesn't manifest. He is looking like you only, but his mind is different. He thinks in a most comprehensive manner, as God Himself would think. But others think in terms of individuality, personality, egoism, selfishness and all that, which he is totally free from. Have you heard of any saint in the world any time?

Visitor: I am thinking of the Christian saints.

Swamiji: Let it be. Let it be Christian, it doesn't matter. Who is the Christian saint you are thinking of?

Another visitor: St. Francis of Assisi.

Swamiji: Oh, very good. Very great saint. You have chosen the best of them.

Visitor: Who declares that a person has reached that particular level of sainthood?

Swamiji: Nobody can declare. It is a personal experience. You see, a person is a genius, for instance. You cannot know that a person is a genius unless he does something. So the saintliness of a person cannot be known except by the aura that he spreads around himself, the influence that he exerts upon others, and the satisfaction that you feel in his presence. These are some of the characteristics. Saintliness is a state of mind; it is an awareness of consciousness. By looking at him you cannot see anything, just as the wisdom of a man cannot be seen by merely seeing his face, but it can manifest itself by his behaviour, by his way of talking, by the influence that he exerts upon other people and the satisfaction that people feel when they sit near him. From that you can indicate what kind of person he is.

First visitor: How long have you been a Guru, a swami?

Swamiji: I have never been a Guru, but I have been a seeker of God, and if you want to call me a Guru it is left to you, but I don't call myself a Guru. But I accept that I am a seeker of God.

Visitor: As a child did you feel a calling?

Swamiji: Oh yes, I think so. It looks like that, yes. There was a calling from childhood. Maybe it is due to some impressions that I have brought from my previous life, so they are propelling me to think in one particular manner, which is manifest in what I am doing and what I am.

Visitor: Thank you.

Another visitor: I understand why penance is the main route to spirituality. Suppose you don't feel you've done anything terribly wrong. Why would it be penance instead of knowledge and…

Swamiji: According to your understanding of penance, what exactly is penance? What do you mean by penance?

Visitor: By penance, I mean I feel I have done something wrong or something is bad about me and I have to apologise to the universe for this.

Swamiji: That is a lower type of penance. But there is a higher type of penance which is actually the way to spirituality. Even a person who is very good, very virtuous, very righteous, who has not done anything wrong, even such a person requires penance of a different type to attune oneself to the nature of God. A person may be very good, very righteous, very truthful, very helpful, yet that person may not be godly.

So a higher type of penance consists in the disciplining of the whole personality in terms of the nature of God Himself. You have to become divine in your nature. For that, the human weaknesses should be shed completely by disciplining the mental structure. It does not mean that penance is only for bad people. Even a good man should do penance, of a different type altogether. Even if a person is highly righteous, that person remains only a human being. But to convert, transform a human being into a divine being, a higher type of penance is necessary, which is called meditation. Meditation is the higher penance, and what you are thinking of is a lower one, and unfortunately the same word is used for both things. But I am thinking of the higher one, which is pure meditation on God. That is the highest penance, which is spiritual purification – not ordinary psychological purification but spiritual.

Another visitor: How do you meditate and get your mind off that you have to do this – you have to do the laundry, oh my Lord, somebody is waiting for me? How do you meditate and focus?

Swamiji: I am happy that you have put a very great question. I think your question is the best that anyone has asked: how you orient your mind to God.

You know that God is all pervading. God is omnipresent, everywhere. There are two great characteristics of God: it is an all-pervading presence, it is everywhere. How would the mind of a human being conceive that which is everywhere? That effort of the human mind to accommodate itself to the presence of that which is everywhere, that effort is called meditation.

The mind generally thinks of one thing, two things, three things, a hundred things, but it cannot think one thing – the one thing which is everywhere. It is necessary for the mind to think in all directions: right, left, top, bottom, everywhere at one stroke. If a person can adjust the mind in order to be able to concentrate it in ten directions at the same time, comprehending the whole world – that is, when you think, you think the whole world at one stroke – that is called total thinking. This kind of total thinking, including everything that the mind can think of at one stroke, at one moment, is the highest discipline, which prepares it for the meditation on God.

God is the total whole, outside which nothing can be. As I mentioned to you, it is omnipresent, all pervading; everywhere it is. The mind has to adjust itself to this nature of the great Being, which is God, and shed the limitations of the mind, which is accustomed to think of only one or two things, and it should think all things at the same time as God Himself would think. This is one way of meditation.

But there are other ways of meditation also. Each person who is religious and is aspiring for spiritual life has a concept, whatever it be, of the Supreme Being above this cosmos, the Supreme Person who created this cosmos. This is a religious way of concentrating the mind on the highest principle of the universe. Religions everywhere call this highest principle as God, Supreme Being. And the other way, I mentioned to you already, the attempt of the mind to think all things at one stroke in a single act of thought, as God Himself would think. That is abstract meditation. The other one that I mentioned to you is personalistic meditation.

Or if you want something still lesser, you prevent the mind from going here and there in a hundred places. You take some object which you like very much. There is something in the world which you like very much. It may be a painting, it may be flower, it may be a musical note, it may be a piece of poetry. You like it very much and your heart is going for it. Go on thinking of it again and again, again and again, again and again. Any object that attracts you wholeheartedly can become the object of your meditation.

So I have mentioned to you three stages of meditation. One is the lower one: concentration on anything that you feel as most attractive, beautiful and wonderful. The higher one is the concentration on the whole creation itself, the principle of creatorship, Almighty God. The third one, which is still higher, is abstract thinking of the total reality of the cosmos at one stroke. All this is done to free the mind from the bondage of mortal existence, to liberate it and to make it fit for immortal existence. That is the purpose of spiritual life, and the way to it is meditation; and briefly I mentioned to you what it is.

Visitor: St. Thomas Aquinas says that the human mind is not capable of realising Reality because God is total and we cannot do this.

Swamiji: Ordinarily the mind is not capable of doing that, but by practice the mind can gradually expand itself to a larger dimension of comprehension. I don't say that the mind can jump suddenly to God. It is not possible. But gradually, little by little, little by little, little by little, by daily practice of expansion of the mind to regions beyond the body, to outer space, to the sun and the moon and the stars, the whole sky. Think of the whole sky; the mind expands. Think of the sun and the moon and the stars in high heaven. When you think of them, the mind expands. I am just giving you a technique of expanding the nature of the mind. Instead of thinking one thing only, or this body, or somebody sitting here, marketplace, railway station, airplane – these are all little, little thinking. But there is a bigger thinking. The whole sky you are thinking: the entire sky, all over, and the entire time and space, the sun and the moon and the stars. Close your eyes. Think this wonderful universe. When you think like that, the mind expands. It reaches beyond the limit of ordinary human perception. This is the beginning of the process of expansion of the mind. And if you are a lover of God, the thought of God itself is sufficient for you. Everything will be taken care of. God will bless you. Okay? Be happy.