(Spoken on August 3, 1983, the 20th anniversary of Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj's Mahasamadhi)
The great soul, the Mahatma whose hallowed memory we bring to our minds today, the spirit that indwells this Ashram and pervaded and exercised an influence upon the world of thought for decades, is a principle which requires deep concentration and understanding. What came, what lived, and what died?
The human mind is just what it is. It cannot be anything other than what it can be. For ordinary mortal thought, a person is a physical body. The father is a physical body, the mother is a physical body. The possessions, the properties are all physical in their nature. What we eat also is physical, and the result of everything that we think, feel, or do has also to be physical. Anything that is non-physical is unthinkable, and so our Guru also was a physical body. There is no other possible way of understanding by a mind which can think only in this manner.
This logic takes us even to the limit of thinking that God Himself is a body. It is a huge structure which is measureable in length, breadth and height, and our exalted notion of even the Viratswarupa is of a magnified body. We live in a world which is purely material, physical, three-dimensional, solid, tangible, sensible, and there cannot be any meaning which is not physical. This is only to point out the extent to which human nature has fallen into the abyss of a total incapacity to understand what the world is made of and how it is made, from where it has come, and what the values that we adore in this world are, whether these values may be our Masters, our Gurus, our adored personalities, our relatives, our properties and possessions, or even our own selves. When we take a photograph of ourselves, we take a photograph of our body.
And so we have a chain of physical forms of thinking, and we may be under the impression that we are celebrating, observing and remembering a personality who was, but now is not. This is the consequence of physical thinking. The imperceptibility and the non-visibility of any particular thing is considered by us as the death of that person, and if everything that is not visible to the eyes is not existent, then God also is non-existent because He is something that can never be seen, can never be photographed, and cannot be identified with anything that is tangible, material or visible.
The world is not made up of material objects. It is a force that appears before our eyes as something tangible, concretised. Even our physical bodies are not hard to the touch. The hardness of the physical body is an illusion created by sensations from inside, and the hardness of a brick is of a similar nature. The substance of the world is non-physical, finally. Even hard, impregnable rock-like masses of ice which can break steel ships in the ocean are ultimately a concretised form of gas which cannot be seen with the eyes – hydrogen and oxygen mixed in proportion. These gaseous elements become water and become ice, and by ages they may even become hills and mountains and rocks. They become touchable, tangible, visible things with shape, measurements, dimensions, etc.
Non-measurable entities assume measureable forms. That process is called incarnation. The non-measurable, non three-dimensional or four-dimensional, invisible, pervasive, intangible presence appears as a human body, as this world of matter, as the solar system, sun, moon and stars, as the trees, as the rivers, as the very earth on which we are seated. The original condition of the universe, according to discoveries made with great precision, has been concluded to be gas, a nebular dust, as it is usually designated to be. The whole universe was gas. It was not made up of diamond, gold, rock, brick, steel, etc. This gaseous, nebular, widespread terrific energy – we can call it only by the name energy, electricity – is not a solid substance, but it is that invisible force that can melt solid substances, burn them to ashes, and reduce the world to naught if an intense voltage of electricity can be applied. It by itself is not a concrete, physical, touchable, visible, photographable something.
The whole universe was space and time only. Ākāśād vāyuḥ, vāyor agniḥ, anger āpaḥ, adbhyaḥ pṛthivī, pṛthivyā oṣdhayaḥ, oṣadhībhyo annam, annāt puruṣaḥ (Taitt. Up. 2.1.1). This is how the concretisation took place as it is said in the Taittiriya Upanishad. There was only space. In the beginning of things, there was no world. Only emptiness was there. How can emptiness become solid buildings, multi-storeyed palaces, and very valuable solid substances which cannot be lifted even by one thousand elephants? Such things exist in this world, but they were originally in the condition of a void, emptiness, space.
Space-time constitutes the whole world. And space and time are not things; they are not people; they are not anything whatsoever. Even now we can think of space and time, but we do not give any regard to them, as if they are not there. Our value is for only small, visible things, titbits we can purchase from the market, but these valuable titbits were originally non-existent. So there is some point in saying that the world is unreal.
You have been told many times that the world does not really exist, but you never believe it. How can you believe when your thought is always ridden over with the solidity of the body and you evaluate everything in terms of body? But by this little analysis of the receding of the effects into their original causes, you will find non-existence was there, and from there the existence came. Asad vā idam agra āsīt, tato vai sad ajayata (Taitt. Up. 2.7.1) says the Taittiriya. From non-existence, existence comes. You will be wondering how existence can come from non-existence. That statement itself seems to have no meaning, but I have given you an idea as to how it could be.
This majestic emperor who ruled the Earth was an invisible force, a potency, before he entered the womb of the mother. He was not even a drop of liquid. He was much less than that; a kind of energy which cannot be thought in the mind becomes ridden over with hands and feet, with eyes and nose, with a self-assertion which begins to parade the whole world with its vanity that “this is mine, this earth is mine, all the heavens are mine, and all these things are mine only”. Thus this little, stupid, small thing which was nowhere once upon a time begins to speak for a few moments when, like a butterfly, it flits before the daylight of egoistic consciousness and then falls when the frost of death catches hold of it, and it is no more there, like these insects that fly over the light in the night and in the morning they are all corpses lying on the ground. Such is the greatness of man on this Earth.
This world, therefore, is not a physical substance. Therefore, our possessions are not physical. Hence, it would be unadvisable on the part of anyone to possess material things in the world. They do not exist. They will pass away; they have to pass away. The passing, the bereavement, the dispossession, etc., of those things which we call possessions, material objects, is the passing of effects into their causes. One day the earth will melt into water, the water will be dried up by fire, the fire will be extinguished by air, the air will merge into space; we will no more be there, and nothing that we call ourselves also will be there. We will be that which was not there, and the thing which is there will not be there.
Thus, our Guru, our Master, even our God Himself are not physical embodiments. The photograph is not the Guru. The painted picture is not God. These are symbolic material representations of that which you cannot conceive with your mind. You cannot say that space and time are absent. As I mentioned, there are circumstances under which the whole world can be melted down into mere space-time. That is called pralaya, the dissolution of the cosmos, which means to say the whole world is contained in that which is not visible to the eyes. So it is immanent, it is pervasive, and it is there even now. The so-called invisible cause is present in the visible object.
Thus, nobody is dead. The Guru, Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, has not passed away. When ice melts it becomes water, and water becomes gas. Nothing is dead. It can once again be manifested in the same form as it was once upon a time. This is the coming and going of great Masters, incarnations, and the materialisation of consciousness forces.
These analogies that I placed before you are intended to detach your mind from unnecessary clingings, attachments, desires, passions, and longings which are meaningless ultimately, which will land you in terrible sorrow one day or the other. Those people who clung to things reaped sorrow as a harvest, and they never went to their treasures. The reason is, the world is not full of treasures. It is an emptiness. It does not exist. It is a nihil. It is a zero before the Almighty's background of omnipresence.
What do we adore on this holy day? We adore that immanent, omnipresent, universal power which comes in various shapes and forms according to the exigencies of time. There are no Gurus, no Masters, no this, no that; God only is, finally. The branches, the trunks, the leaves, the twigs, the flowers and the fruits are only trees, finally. The waves and the eddies are only oceans in the end. The names that we give are only indicative of their manifestations and diversifications. Their substance is one.
So we may say a prophet has come, a Guru has come, an Avatara has come, an Incarnation has come, a yogi has come, a siddha purusha has come. By any name, they are the concretisations in some necessary particularised geographical form of that which has no geography and no form, no shape, which is not material. Thus, God is an immaterial, universal, inconceivable power, and therefore, what can come out of that as a manifestation in the form of an incarnation or even a prophet or a religious teacher also has to be only that. We cannot have an effect which is totally different from the nature of the cause. If the cause is such imperceptible universality, the effect also is essentially that only.
So we are not adoring the body, the physical samadhi, or a photograph or picture of Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, in the same way as God is not adored as a painted picture, as something that is seen, because that which we see is only a spatial and temporal shape taken by that which can never really be seen or become tangible. God is never dead; God is always alive. Therefore, anything that comes from God is also never dead. It is alive.
There are millions of eyes that see you. There are no secret things in this world. Every eye is open, vigilant, and knows what is happening. Every atom in the world is awake. It is not dead. There is no unconscious anywhere. There is, therefore, a multitude of visions gazing at you, as it were, and you are known throughout the universe. This is one way of recognising yourself as a citizen of the universe. You are not only seen by every atom, it prehends you, comprehends you, reacts in regard to you, produces effects upon you, conditions you, knows everything that you are and whatever you can be.
So neither I nor you can be regarded as human beings. We are only centres, intangible pressures, points of energy which are coextensive and coeternal with the all-pervading eye, which is the reason why we say God has many eyes. It does not mean that His eyes are like our eyes. His eyes are centres of awareness, and every centre is everywhere. Therefore, there is omniscience pervading.
Thus, our adoration at this holy moment of Sri Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj is a veritable worship, obeisance that we offer to the Almighty Himself who, in His various incarnations, Avataras, came down as the great prophets of religion; and masters, poets and leaders in any field of life are veritable embodiments of this one Being only. Therefore Guru is God; God is Guru, is Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, as we say. Our adorations at this moment be to that Almighty who came not merely as the one whom we are acquainted with as Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, but who came as many other multifarious forces also that have been sustaining the world in this present condition.
This meditation is the great contribution that we can make by the power of our thought for the welfare of humanity. The world moves not by bulldozers and machines. It moves by thought. The world moves by ideas. The world moves by deep feelings, and whatever our deepest feelings are, deepest thoughts are, deepest concentrated contemplations are, what our consciousness is, that the world also is. So the highest service that we can do to anyone is to unify our consciousness in this manner with the total power which constitutes this universe.
Here is, therefore, an occasion for a double service that we can perform. An obeisance to the Almighty and the welfare of humanity at one and the same time is my humble prayer.