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Darshan with Swami Krishnananda during 1995
by Swami Krishnananda

9. Duty towards the World

(Darshan given on July 4th, 1995.)

An ashramite: What happens to a person who has realised the Absolute? What is his duty towards the world?

Swamiji: What is his duty towards the world? His duty towards himself is his duty towards the world, because he and the world are not two different things. What is the duty of God towards the world?

A person who has realised the Absolute will not be separate from God, and therefore his duty will be the same as the duty of God Himself. If you say God has a duty towards the world, then he also has a duty. But if you say God has no duty, then nobody has a duty. Duty is a concept of separateness, and if the separateness persists, you will never be able to bridge that gulf between the two things. Always they will be two only.

There must be some kind of underlying unity between the performer and the aim to which it is directed; otherwise, no achievement is possible. Totally dissimilar things cannot come in contact with each other. That is why mere social work does not succeed. Only spiritual activity will work; and what is spiritual activity? It is that activity which anyone performs with the vision that is described in the eleventh chapter of the Bhagavadgita. At that time, what will you do? If you think in the same way as that being which is revealed in the eleventh chapter of the Bhagavadgita, what will you do at that time? “What is your duty?” you asked me. Then your question itself ceases. When the question ceases, the answer also ceases.

The mortal mind cannot think like this. The mortal mind thinks only mortal ideas. It can only think in terms of give and take, in terms of subject-object, in terms of society, in terms of politics. It cannot think in terms of Pure Being, prior to the manifestation of the universe. The mind is incapable of thinking like that. And meditation or spirituality, whatever you call it, is nothing but the attempt to think in terms of that existence which must have been there even prior to the manifestation of the universe. God must have been existing prior to the creation of the universe, isn't it? But where was He existing?

Ashramite: Everywhere.

Swamiji: There is no question of everywhere because there was no space, so the idea that God is everywhere is also not correct. See the difficulty in thinking. The mind is unfit to think such things. Time cannot think of eternity. Qualitatively, they are two different things. We are bound in time; we are made up of time. Every cell of our body is made up of the time process. Therefore, it is very difficult to think of that which is purely eternal, and is not everywhere. The question does not arise. It is an indivisibility of Pure Consciousness, Existence as such – not existence of something, but Existence as such.

You asked me what is the duty. Here every duty is subsumed. Sarvadharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja (B.G. 18.66) means the Absolute is telling you to renounce all relative categorical imperatives and absorb yourself in that one duty: that which is Pure Being as such. That is the real meaning of that verse of the Bhagavadgita. It is the Absolute speaking to the individual, the eternal speaking to the relative.

Ashramite: When a person gives talks on the Gita or the Upanishad…

Swamiji: Talking is different from actual feeling in your mind. Your talking will depend on your audience. You can talk to children also. You go to the primary school, high school and college, and you speak whatever is necessary for them according to their status, but I am talking of the fact as such for your own personal benefit. Do you want salvation, or do you only want to give talks?

Ashramite: Salvation is more important.

Swamiji: And how will you get salvation?

Ashramite: Transcending above this body, mind, intellect, consciousness, and merging in that All.

Swamiji: You have to think as the Absolute would think, that's all. This is the whole philosophy in one sentence: You have to think as the Absolute thinks. Can you adjust your mind to that level of being?  It is a total thought.

Ashramite: That means we have to kick the mind and intellect to that level of consciousness.

Swamiji: You place yourself in the position of the Absolute, and then you will know what to do. You needn't ask anybody what to do. You will burst with joy to think like this, isn't it?

Ashramite: Yes, Swamiji.

Swamiji: You would not like to speak to anybody afterwards. You will feel that you are filled up, that everything has filled you, and you will not open your mouth afterwards. All speaking will cease in the joy of completeness that you feel within yourself.

All activity is a manifestation of the finitude of individuality, and the more is the finitude felt by you, the greater is the desire to do work, and so that is not a great virtue, finally speaking. That is why Sankaracharya is against action. He was not a foolish person. You must understand that existence is not action. The whole point is that. Existence does not act. Action emanates from existence. You exist, and you work, but you don't exist for the sake of work. Existence is a value by itself. Are you identical with your work, or are you different from the work?

Ashramite: Different from the work.

Swamiji: Then what is more important? Is your existence more important, or the work that you do?

Ashramite: Existence.

Swamiji: Then that's the whole thing.