29. Questions about Self-Realisation and Meditation
(Darshan given on October 29th, 1995.)
[Questions and answers from a group of Japanese visitors are being translated by a translator.]
A visitor: What is the difference between Self-realisation and Self-creation?
Swamiji: There is no such thing as Self-creation because the Self is already there. It need not be created; it has only to be realised. Of course, you can call it Self-creation in another sense. We have a lower self and a higher self, and if your lower self is trying to expand into the higher self, you may call it a kind of Self-creation. So when the lower self expands into the higher self, it is Self-creation, and also Self-realisation at the same time.
Visitor: When time passes, the love among the families or their friends or lovers fades out. When time changes, things change. Our body changes, and people age. Do you think that the love among families, friends or lovers will also change and fade away? Is this life?
Swamiji: Yes, it will change and slowly it will fade away. Right.
Visitor: When our body perishes, will the love and compassion stay or remain, or does the love also die out when our body perishes?
Swamiji: The love will not die, but it will be carried over to the next birth. There are two kinds of love. One is the love for particular persons and particular things. Another love is the love for the whole universe and God. When you have developed love for the whole universe, the individual love will get absorbed into it and it will not remain separate, as if outside, because that which is universal includes all individuals also. Actually, there is no necessity to pay special attention to individuals, because they are included in the total universe.
You have been speaking about the universe. This kind of meditation will one day make you one with the universe, in which case, you will not be existing as isolated individual bodies. Do you catch this point? If this is clear, you have also understood what is God. The consciousness in the universe is called God. Just as there is consciousness in you, there is consciousness in the whole universe, and your individual consciousness is included in the universal consciousness of God. So Self-realisation is the same as God-realisation.
Visitor: You mentioned two kinds of love. When the love and compassion are so highly elevated, then we will be guided to Self-realisation?
Swamiji: Only if the love and what you call compassion are expanded or extended to the whole universe, then you can call it a means to Self-realisation. But it should not be confined only to particular individuals or things.
Visitor: I am asking from the lower level because I have not achieved a very high level yet. However, every day I meditate and practise yoga asanas and pranyamas, and also I conduct my daily life and my work. So what is the principle of spending everyday life in order to achieve the higher level?
Swamiji: Together with all these things that you are doing, you must also meditate in the way that you have described already. Do all the work that you are doing, there is no objection, but also do this meditation for one hour, as we have already been considering.
Visitor: I would like to talk about my experience, and I would like to ask for your comment. One time I was meditating at the Zen temple in Japan, and then after forty minutes I felt a hand on one of my shoulders, and the hand was very warm. I felt like the sunshine was accumulated in my right shoulder, and the palm of a person was on my shoulder. Then I looked back, and there was nobody. This was repeated two times. Then at that time somehow I was so satisfied internally in my heart and I felt the full bliss. My question is, how should I understand this experience? This is only one experience. How should I deal with these experiences? Am I going to have more experiences like this, and how should I act when I have such experiences?
Swamiji: You can continue the Zen meditation, and this is an example of a good experience. You are moving in the right direction, so continue the meditation. There is no trouble, no problem. Whenever the mind is concentrated, such experiences will follow naturally. There is nothing to worry about.
Visitor: This is only a process of the meditation?
Swamiji: It is a process.
Visitor: And I will get all different kinds of experiences?
Swamiji: Different kinds of experiences will follow, much more than this.
Visitor: So the person who put the hand on my shoulder is not the only god that I have to be worshipping, or not the god who is always guarding me and protecting me?
Swamiji: In Zen meditation, as far as I understand, there is no God. It is a total concentration on a principle, which you may call God if you like. It is a meditation on a principle, and it is an act of intense concentration on one thing continuously which brings about these experiences. You can call it God, provided you think that this object of Zen is universal in its nature. Then you may call it God.
Another visitor: Why are there sick people? Although all of us are wishing for peace and also health, why do people get sick?
Swamiji: It has many reasons, not only one reason. One of the reasons is wrong living. The other reason is some power or force generated by actions done in the past. There are two reasons: Something the person has brought to this life from actions done in the previous life is a reason for the experiences in this life. And the other one is an erroneous way of living, contrary to nature, contrary to a rational and reasonable way of living and proper psychological alignment of one's own being. So there is an immediate cause, and also a transcendental cause.
Visitor: When a patient has found that he is not going to be cured, then what should he do?
Swamiji: Then two things should be done. Firstly, one should rectify one's way of living – eating, drinking, sleeping, and thinking. They must be harmonised as far as possible. The second thing is, one should meditate on the Supreme Creative Principle as the highest curative power. These are the only two things that are practicable under the present circumstances.
Visitor: How should the families around the patient react?
Swamiji: The family should serve the person who is sick. They must serve, do service to the one who is sick in the family – father, mother, whoever it is. The duty of the members is to serve this person who is sick in the family.
Visitor: In which manner?
Swamiji: By every way – by loving, compassionate and affectionate treatment, by proper diet, proper medicine and, finally, by prayer to God. Doctors can prescribe medicine, but they don't have an affectionate heart. There is a difference between a family member speaking to a patient, and a doctor speaking. There is a great difference.
Another visitor: I have two questions regarding the method of meditation. Should we meditate in the morning, or in the evening, or any time is okay?
Swamiji: Any time is okay, provided your mind is free at that time. If the mind is occupied with some immediate work, that may not be a suitable time for meditation.
Visitor: Another question is, I usually meditate for one hour, and when I feel relaxed and good, and my body condition is very healthy, then one hour goes very quickly and I feel it is a very short time. And when my condition is not so good, I feel it's very long. So the time of the meditation is ideal for one hour, whether I feel it short or long, or when I feel it very happy then it could be shorter?
Swamiji: No, it should not be made shorter. You can make it longer if you have time enough, but if you have no time, practise at least one hour. Why do you make it shorter? It is not necessary. Let it be one hour; that's good. The question of shortening the time arises only when you are very busy with something. Otherwise, why should you shorten it?
Visitor: I have a friend who says she can receive cosmic power in her palm, and so she concentrates this cosmic power in her palm and then heals people. Do you believe that the person can concentrate cosmic power in the palm and heal the patient?
Swamiji: Yes, it is possible.
Visitor: Sometimes it works wonderfully. Sometimes it does not work on each individual patient. Is it because of the quality of the patient who receives this cosmic power?
Swamiji: It is the quality of the patient's receptivity, also the quality of the concentration through meditation of the person who is palming.
Visitor: Is this person who is palming talented by birth?
Swamiji: It can be called a talent by birth because this person must have practised meditation in the previous birth, and so it is coming automatically in the early days of life itself, but it cannot come without practise. She might have practised earlier.
Visitor: Sometimes you have a relationship with your friend or somebody, and you think that what you are saying or what you are doing to that person is good for her or good for him, but this person does not recognise that I am doing good for her or advising good for her. Then sometimes this person suffers from my advice or my actions. Should I continue my good action to that person in spite of the suffering from this person, or should I stop?
Swamiji: The person cannot suffer if your advice is given in a proper manner. The way of giving advice also is important, not merely the advice that is given. The advice should be very loving, affectionate and intelligent. It should not be abruptly saying something.
Visitor: When I have a very firm conviction that this is good for her, for instance, and one method was not received by that person, then I have to consider other ways so that this person can receive and welcome it.
Swamiji: You adopt that way by which it can be received by the person. If your mind is in harmony with the way of thinking of the other person, then your advice will take effect. But if you are disharmonious in your way of thinking, it cannot be received so easily.
Another visitor: As you know, when we see the world news this year, there are a lot of natural disasters. In Japan we had a very big earthquake in Kobe, so it looks like the universal God is manifesting in various ways as the form of natural calamities. Is this a certain sign of the universal God, and if it is a sign, what should we be doing?
Swamiji: If you can do something to prevent these catastrophes, do it. If you cannot do anything because the catastrophe is too big for you, then only you feel very incapacitated. As long as it is possible, do the best possible.
Visitor: Is it the intention of God or a message to human beings?
Swamiji: You cannot separate God and the human being. They work jointly, together, and the action of God and the thought in your mind are not two distinct actions taking place. They act simultaneously. So the action of God, whatever be the nature of that action, also includes the compulsion from you to do something. They are two sides of a single action. It is not that you are doing something opposed to God. It is not like that. Your way of thinking and your feeling in such conditions is a part of the thought of God Himself, who seems to be doing something else from your point of view.
God does not do bad things. He always does what is necessary, and you should not complain that God is doing something bad just because something that we cannot accommodate ourselves with from our personal point of view looks unnecessary. How can you judge any particular thing as necessary or unnecessary unless you look at that particular thing from a universal point of view? You cannot judge a thing from your personal point of view. You will always have a partiality for this side or that side. You said you are meditating on the universal Whole. If that is the case, you are included in this action that is taking place, which is the action of the universe. You should not stand outside and make a judgment.
Visitor: My question is about the earthquake in Kobe. Many people died; five thousand people died. Some people died, and some people were saved and survived. What is the difference of these people who died and those who did not die? Does this depend on the karma of the previous life?
Swamiji: When some surgery is conducted on the body of a person, something is destroyed and something is saved. Do you understand what I say? When medical surgery is performed on a person, some part of the body is destroyed and some part of the body is protected. So this is exactly what is happening. Something goes and something is remaining for the sake of something which is higher than what actually has taken place. The health of a person requires that some parts should go and some other parts should remain because the other part that remains is the real whole body. If half the body is cut off by surgery, still the whole person is remaining. He doesn't feel that he is only half a person.
You must always look at things from a total, cosmic point of view. You should not look from the point of view of Japan or any particular place of the world. It is not Japan or any country that is facing the trouble. It is the whole universe, and Japan is only one piece of it. If there is any pain in the leg or in any other part of the body, it is a pain felt by the whole body. It is not only the leg that is feeling the pain, it is the whole body. So it is with Japan or India or anything; it is a total action taking place in the whole universe, and you cannot understand it until you think like the universe. You must think not like an individual Japanese or Indian, but you must think like a total cosmic person. Then you will get the answer to it.
Another visitor: This is my personal experience. When I first started yoga practice, I did fasting. Then after fasting for several days, I found my mind was so clear and I felt my mind was unified with nature, and I felt full of bliss, and I was thankful for everything. However, after fasting, when I started eating regular meals again, then I have to go to the toilet and everything, then it starts to go back to the life before. So how can I maintain this blissful feeling without doing fasting and while making the usual normal life?
Swamiji: Normal life does not necessarily mean not eating. It also does not mean too much eating. You must eat only as much as is necessary for the health of the body. We need not go to extremes of fifteen days not eating, and afterwards starting eating. That is not a healthy way. The best thing is, eat a little every day, but not more than what is necessary for health. That is a harmonious way of taking food instead of taking extremes. For fifteen days you don't eat, and afterward you eat more; that is not a healthy way. It must be harmonious every day, and the minimum, as much as is necessary for the health of the body.
Visitor: Then I can maintain my spiritual bliss?
Swamiji: Spiritual bliss comes by meditation, not only by food. Food cannot bring peace of mind. It is only a means of maintaining health, and peace of mind can come only by meditation.
Another visitor: Since I have started yoga, meditation, I have peace of mind, and I am very kind and gentle to people, and I have compassion to people, except my family. That's my fault. I get very angry at my family. I think this is my special ego love.
Swamiji: If you are very compassionate to people, is the family not people?
Visitor: Yes, they are people, but because I have a very egoistic love for the family – I want my children to be like this or I want my husband to be like this, then that makes me angry at the family. But if I continue my meditation, do you think I will also have peace in my mind for my family?
Swamiji: Yes, right. If you continue meditation properly, this difficulty will vanish. Otherwise, it will mean that you love distant people and do not love nearer people. Family people are very near, and you are saying you are loving people who are far away. What is the purpose of that? You are distinguishing between nearer people and faraway people. People are everywhere, inside and outside. Why are you making distinctions?
Visitor: What is the method or way of meditation? Do you think meditation only takes place when you sit down in lotus posture and close your eyes and keep quiet, because through my experience as a calligrapher, when I am drawing calligraphy and concentrating my mind, I feel the same bliss. Also I am an ice dancer, and when I'm dancing and concentrating on dancing, I also get the same type of very happy, blissful feelings. Or when I am devoting time to somebody and work for somebody with selfless works, I also feel the same feeling. So my question is, could the form of meditation be different, or still do we have to sit down?
Swamiji: Meditation, finally, is a universal feeling in the heart. If this feeling continues even while you are doing any other work – dancing or calligraphy or whatever it is – it will bring the same happiness because happiness does not come from dancing or calligraphy. It comes from the universal feeling that you are maintaining even at that time. So the question is answered. It is only the feeling of the Universal that brings happiness, not the action as such, though the action will not prevent this happiness if the feeling continues.
Another visitor: All our bodies, including yourself, will get older and have sickness, and then deteriorate and perish. What kind of feeling do you have toward your body?
Swamiji: I have a feeling towards my body as I have a feeling towards the whole universe. That is the same feeling I have got because I am not outside the universe.
Visitor: The last question is about the destiny of human beings. I have heard that each individual has their own destiny when we are born, and usually it is very difficult to change. Swamiji said that when we do sadhana and meditation, we might be able to change part of our destiny. But since we are ordinary people, is there any chance we can change our destiny?
Swamiji: You cannot change anything, but you will not be able to feel the pain of any unpleasant experience because of the power of your meditation. The unpleasantness associated with the change will not be there because of the power of your meditation, but the change will continue nevertheless.
Visitor: I want to thank you, Swamiji, because my mother is very aged and critically ill but in spite of that I came to Rishikesh and I am very thankful to Swamiji because the last word spoken by Swamiji is exactly my feeling to my mother.
Swamiji: Right. Thank you.
Another visitor: There is so much misunderstanding in Japan for yoga itself because people think yoga is totally wrong.
Swamiji: It is because they have not understood what yoga is. That is a mistake in the thought itself, so you must rectify it by your group meditation. You join together and counteract that wrong thinking by your proper approach to things as they are. That is the highest social work. When you go to Japan, you start spreading the wave of good thoughts. It will influence everybody. That will rectify all the errors of thinking in other people.