21. A Universal Vision
(Darshan given on August 31st, 1995.)
A Western visitor: Could you tell me something about the Sivananda Ashram?
Swamiji: The Divine Life Society, of which the Sivananda Ashram is headquarters, is a universal cosmopolitan society created by Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj for the welfare of humanity spiritually, culturally, socially, and in every form of benefit that is required for people in general. As I mentioned to you, it is a society that integrates faiths, religions, philosophies and general outlooks of life so that it has no partisan attitude. It is not devoted to any particular cult, creed or faith. It has a universal approach. It treats all people as far as their requirements are concerned. You may call it a universal institution meant for the welfare of everybody, irrespective of any kind of categorisation or departmentalisation of people in any manner whatsoever. It is basically spiritual. People come here for the purpose of learning the way to reach God Almighty, the Creator of this universe. But together with that, there is also a concern of the Society for the social and secular needs of people. That is why I say it is all-inclusive in every respect in the centrality of a spiritual approach to all things in general.
An Indian visitor: I would like a message for the citizens of India, for Indians.
Swamiji: We are concerned with the whole world, not merely with Indians, and if a message comes to the whole world, it includes Indians also. You know very well that the country cannot be happy and safe unless the international setup is also safe. So you have to look to the welfare of the entire setup of humanity so that the country is automatically included in that setup. Do you understand me? So the welfare of people, whether they are of India or of any other country, consists merely in a proper vision of the structure of the universe and the placement of each individual in the location of this universe.
Where are you stationed? Are you in Delhi or are you on this Earth, in the world or in the whole cosmos, or are you in the solar system or in the universe? You can say all these answers are correct. Actually speaking, a universal vision is the solution to the difficulties of every kind of human approach in this life. I told you this Ashram is spiritual. By ‘spiritual' I mean a total vision of things, an integrated vision of things excluding no aspect of life, considering and taking into consideration every aspect of life, whatever it is – inward, outward or transcendental.
It is difficult to conceive this kind of vision, which was held up as the lofty ideal of the life of people by Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. It requires a lot of training because we are generally accustomed to think in terms of personality, individuality and community, and creed, denomination, etc. These ideas should go. You must belong to the whole world. You must be a citizen not only of India, but a citizen of the world; or, I may say, you are a citizen of the whole creation of God. Then you will have protective forces emanating from all sides and taking care of you, and you will have no problem afterwards. Finally, the solace of mankind is God and its friendship with the whole creation of God. It is necessary to develop a sense of friendship with everybody, in every way, at all times, keeping in view the central vision of the transcendent and immanent presence of God Almighty. God is not a human being but a pervasive presence which is just here under your nose; and to realise that, to keep it as the hallmark of the approach to anything in this world, we may say, is the solution to difficulties and problems of life. You must consider God as the first value of life, the world should be considered the second value of life, and individuals are the third value of life. The third and the second will be taken care of by the first, which is all-inclusive. God first, world next, and individuals last. This principle should be kept before everybody. I think if this principle is kept in the hearts of people sincerely, all shall be well. There shall be no problem.
Another visitor: What is your concept of God? Are Rama and Krishna the only gods?
Swamiji: There is no Rama and Krishna. They are only some formations and nomenclature that we establish for their manifestations of the universal God. Rama and Krishna are like the hands, feet, nose, eyes, ears, etc., of a person. The person is one being only. There are no multitudes of persons in a human individual, though there are multitudes of limits. So all these Rama, Krishna, Govinda, Mohammed, or sky, star, whatever it is, they are part and parcel of the integrated totality which is God Almighty. It is omnipresent, which has no form, really speaking, because form is something which is associated with this otherwise formless, impersonal Absolute by interpreting things in terms of space, time and objectivity in the philosophical approach, which has to be understood properly. There are no many gods. There is only one God.
Visitor: Swamiji, what is your daily routine?
Swamiji: I get up in the morning and remember the great Almighty from where I came. And afterwards, I see this world before me, which is inclusive of many things like me, and I then look at myself as a spark of the Divine omnipresence, so that when I see things, when I talk to anybody, when I work, when I have to deal with anything, I maintain the attitude that I am dealing with the whole creation of God, and not with one person. When I talk to you, I don't feel that I'm talking to one person but to one leaf, one twig, one fruit, one flower of that large tree of universal manifestation. I maintain one consciousness always, that I am connected to everything. There is nothing outside me; and when I think, the whole universal thought enters me, and that keeps me always happy, so whatever work I do is a universal work, whatever word I utter is a universal word, and whatever activity I am engaged in may be considered as a universal activity, the meaning of which you can know only if you study the Bhagavadgita, which is the gospel not only of Hinduism but of the whole of humanity. This is the principle we follow.
Another visitor: Swamiji, these days are we going nearer to God?
Swamiji: We are going away from God, not nearer, due to the desires which are physically oriented, comfort oriented, gadget oriented, and pleasure oriented. People are thinking only what is outside, and they never think what is inside. All the religions of the world, all the so-called philosophies, all the activities are externally motivated, so in that sense I can say people are not going near God, though their duty it is to go near God. Otherwise, there would be no suffering in the world. There is too much desire, too much longing, too much passion, too much greed, too much conflict, too much anger, too much warfare. How can you think that people are going near God? They have to turn their gaze inside in a universal fashion. By ‘inside', I do not mean inside the physical body, but the inside structure of the whole creation, which is inundated by God's presence. If you can think as God thinks and try to behave as God would expect you to behave, and act as an ambassador of God Almighty and not as a person wedded to any particular occupation of life, you will be blessed. If this view is absent in people, you cannot say they are moving towards God.
Visitor: Swamiji Maharaj, as a great philosopher your replies are really wonderful and we are highly thankful to you. But as an administrator, as the General Secretary of the institution, some must be near, some must be dear, something right, something wrong.
Swamiji: I don't have any such feelings. Nothing is right, nothing is wrong. Everything is a variegated, multifaceted manifestation of a single problem, which is the creation itself, and to put it together in a harmonious state and make it a complete whole is the duty of every person who is attempting to attain the vision of life.
Visitor: At that moment is the Gita's samatvam possible?
Swamiji: It must be possible.
Visitor: How, Swamiji?
Swamiji: By the vision of the Almighty, who is present in all things and in the integrated structure of the cosmos.
Visitor: In daily life?
Swamiji: There is no daily life. It is only cosmic life that exists.
Visitor: But in the day-to-day routine, how can one practise?
Swamiji: There is no such thing as day-to-day routine; there is no such thing as individual life. There is only cosmic life. If you cannot grasp this point, then you cannot have peace of mind. There is no such thing as day-to-day, and all that. There is no day, there is no night. There is only one thing, which looks like day and night, which looks like activity, which looks like people. It is difficult to maintain this vision. That vision is described in the eleventh chapter of the Bhagavadgita, which is called Viratsvarupa. If you can think as the Viratsvarupa expects you to think, then you will not see any day-to-day, and no day and night, no people, no problem, no whiteness and blackness, nothing of the kind. But we are wedded to think in socialistic terms, political terms, business activity. With these attitudes we are looking at things, and we are not able to solve any problem of the question of life. The whole thing has to take a round-about turn, and this requires proper education, not the education that you are getting in the college and university, which is nothing. It has no meaning. It creates only more problems for you, so you must have a new education altogether. For that purpose you have to come to institutions of this kind and under the feet of the great Master, Swami Sivananda. With his blessings you must feel that you are a blessed child of God. You are not a child of a father and mother. You are a child of the Almighty God. Can you believe it? If you can believe it, I assure you that you shall have no problem.
Another visitor: You said that if we are a child of God we shall have no more problems. How can we reclaim this attitude, this long-lost attitude in a world where…
Swamiji: By a serious attempt to inwardise your consciousness in deep meditation, the art of which you have to learn from a competent person. From particularity consciousness you have to lift your attention to universality consciousness. From personality you become universality. From one particular thing you become all things at one stroke, just as you will not think of a particular limb of your body every day. You think of your total personality. Why are you not thinking of your finger, your nails, your nose, etc.? There is no need of thinking of them because you are one total whole. If this is possible when you are a personality, it should be possible in a similar way in regard to the cosmos, of which you are an integral part. Consider all things as parts of one universal whole, which includes yourself also, so that there is only one person who is thinking, one person who is acting, and one person who is doing anything. If this can enter into your heart, you can…
Visitor: There is also the danger of you thinking that you are having the experience while you are not.
Swamiji: Why? The experience will come if you meditate like this. You should not think it for a minute only. This should be maintained throughout the day. It should be the background of thought.
Visitor: In principle it should be, because that is what we are in reality.
Swamiji: You must believe it.
Visitor: Then the process of believing it, is it up to us?
Swamiji: Whatever I have told you just now, you should take it as something to you only. Why should I repeat the whole thing once again? Okay?