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The Pursuit of Satisfaction
by Swami Krishnananda

(Spoken on August 7, 1983.)

The greatest human acquirement, achievement or possession may be what is usually known as poise of mind. The stability which the mind maintains in a highly judicious attitude towards events that take place in the world, an understanding which connects the causes with the effects in their proper proportion and logical arrangement, is perhaps a great need. It is not only a great need, but an equipment that we wield in our hands with which alone one can have any hope for success in the fields of work and life.

The adventures of human existence on this Earth are mainly directed to substantial achievements which bring a satisfaction of having attained what is adequately permanent, and not merely a passing shadow or an emotional joy equivalent to that which one may have from the drama of the moving shadows on a screen in a picture show. This is evidently not what we expect.

But the judicious understanding which man is capable of manifesting and is expected to employ in the usual activities of life many a time gets blown out by cyclones which sweep over the ether of his heart with their own thunderclaps and lightning flashes of emotional joy. It is almost impossible even for the greatest power of reason and judgment in this world to be totally free from a susceptibility to the joys of moving with a cyclone or a fast-moving train, a jet, or even a rushing motorcar. Does it not give some satisfaction? Even a weak man feels a little strength when a car moves terribly fast, with 100 kilometres at its command. Wherefrom has this joy come to a weak patient that is being moved to a hospital? But there is a joy by being in a vehicle that is moving terribly fast.

The joy which accompanies moving at a tremendous velocity is something that is always taking place within our own minds. We feel a petty joy, a trifling and vainglorious amusement in our own minds in a sort of inexplicable contempt for the pedestrians on the road when we are seated in a fast-moving motorcar. The reason for it, God only knows. We have a slightly contemptuous amusement for the crawling people on the Earth when we are 30,000 feet above them in a jet, a satisfaction which reason cannot explain. It is the satisfaction which the ego alone can explain, and the ego's logic defies almost every other kind of logic.

The passions of man and the desires, so-called, are the winds that blow within our own hearts. They are the speedy vehicles in which we are moving, and is there not a joy at the same time to be moving with the current of the fast-moving waters of the Ganga? We have that satisfaction when we cross the current of the river. The acquiescing of oneself in a fast-moving speed, whatever be the nature of that movement, has some impact upon the movement of the mind itself, and by a peculiar collaboration of our deepest consciousness with the speedy movement of the mind, speed brings movement and joy at the same time.

All desires are speedy movements of mind. They are psychological cyclones, tempests that blow within our own hearts. Sometimes when going for a walk if the wind blows terribly fast from behind us we can walk easier with a greater joy, but it should not blow in our face. A cyclone on the back is a joy for the walker on the road. Why? Because our efforts are diminished. Similarly, the effort of consciousness to maintain a stability in itself is diminished by the winds that blow in the form of these passions and desires that back it up and, current-like, drive it onward, forward; desires bring us joy as speed brings joy, whatever be that speed.

Now, this cannot be considered as any kind of rational exercise of the highest faculties of the human individual. To be a slave of speed is sometimes considered as a satisfaction in the modern Western world where speed is the only virtue today and everything is hectically moving. “Life is fast,” say people coming from Europe and America. What is meant by this? “I am moving with a speed that cannot easily be controlled or adequately geared.” But why are you after the speed? Why have you manufactured greater and greater speeds? “Because the greater the speed, the greater the joy.” Here is the answer of the passion-ridden emotion of the human mind.

These satisfactions of quickly working gadgets and speedily moving instruments are the accomplices of the fast-moving desires of the human being. Thus, we cannot say modern physical comforts are any kind of cultural advancement. They are indications of the downfall of man, who does not know that the devil is pursuing him. Does he not run fast if the devil is behind him? That also is a joy. If you run at 10 mph because a goblin is behind you, that also is a joy. “Let the goblin be behind; what does it matter? I run fast.” So there is nothing that we require in this world except quickness, speed, rapidity and immediate action, whatever the consequences be of these adventurous moods of the human being.

But reason is a different faculty speaking like an aged grandmother with a tremendous experience of a century of life in the world, whose words a youth with warm blood in the veins cannot easily listen to. Reason is an old grandmother or old grandfather which has seen life through and through. It is like a very aged Supreme Court judge who has not only mastered law but has seen through the emotions and the needs of legality of administration. He is not a youngster who passes immediate judgments. He has the capacity to consider the pros and cons not only of action but even of words that are uttered and of thoughts that are manifesting in our minds.

But we would like to have the joys of life in a permanent way without paying the price for it. The prices are really very heavy. Greater is the poise and the composure of the mind required under the greatest tumult in which you may be placed in life, either outwardly or inwardly. Which person can say that he can have this capacity to maintain his psychological integrity in the midst of a chaos of clamorous activity and a humdrum of speed?

The impact of external events is not easy to tolerate or pleasant to bear. The reason for this difficulty is the difficulty which is at the base of every kind of human undertaking, namely, the difficulty of being a little more than what we are, the difficulty in expanding our personality to a degree a little more than what we appear to be in our bodies and in our social circumstances. We cannot have this advantage of the exercise of the higher judicious understanding, which is the only means of perpetual happiness in life, if we are not prepared to sacrifice our lower individuality for the gaining of a larger dimension of our own selves through entry into a little more impersonality to the extent practicable. Why do you suddenly jump on other people at even the least word that is uttered to you? Why do you become like a bear or a tiger to a human being who has uttered one word or opened his eyes or shown his teeth? The reason is that your personality has kept that person outside entirely, and your personality has not managed to succeed in expanding its area which can accommodate even that teeth-showing individual who is so resentful in his behaviour from the point of view of that personality in you, which is like his personality.

The greatness of a genius in any walk of life is the greatness that is comparable with impersonality. That is the only word we can use. First of all we have to become a great person, and not the small man that we have been. There is no point in being contented to be that small man who always feels a need to react, because reaction is the answer of the lower personality to the demand and the requirement of the external personality which is like one's own self. We are like anybody else in the world, and anybody else is like us. Hence, there is a conflict and a perpetual rubbing of shoulders among people in offices, in railway trains, in bus stations, on roads, in offices, and even during personal dialogues. This is, of course, the natural history of social life, but are we contented to be merely units of natural history? Are we just litigants in a psychological court of law, or is there something more about us? Are we born only to fight with another person like us? Or is there a higher stature we are capable of?

I have mentioned on earlier occasions that we have something in us which God has planted as His own Consul General, ambassador par excellence, which is the higher reason, which always speaks in moments of leisure and adequacy whenever we feel it. We represent God in many a way, and there is a great truth in saying that there is in man an image of God. There is some great truth in it, indeed. It is in this sense that each man is a Consul General of the Almighty Himself in this empire of the Earth. We are representatives of a certain responsibility on this Earth which has been entrusted to us by the Almighty from where we have come down for a purpose which is the commission with which we have been ordained to be here in this world.

I need not repeat what I have been saying again and again on earlier occasions. There cannot be any responsibility of a representative of God on Earth except that which God can expect from us. Any conscience which has the capacity to think for itself independently will know what God would expect of man. Would he behave in the presence of the Almighty like a bear showing claws and teeth? That would not be the attitude before the Almighty.

The more is the capacity of our understanding, the greater also is our strength in handling matters without the necessity to go with the speed of our emotions which always tell us to pounce on a man, to tear him to pieces and be rid of him for a moment and then be alone to ourselves. This logic of the tooth and the claw, the law of the jungle, is the counsel given by the emotion, and thus we come into irreconcilable positions with our own neighbours, friends and relatives, brothers and sisters, and even with our parents and our own children.

We have been human beings, and we seem to be contented with being only that much, demonstrating, as it were, that we are not intended for anything better. The representative of the Almighty cannot be the Almighty, of course. He is only a representative, a symbol, an insignia. He looks like an individual like anybody else, in the same way as a police official looks like any other man on the road. The difference is an impersonal power that he wields which is not limited to the body of the official but a constructive energy and an administrative capacity which occupies an area even outside the body of that official. A representative of God is the saint or the sage, the Godman as we usually designate them. The Godman, the sage, the saint, even a single simple honest seeker, a humble person who is satisfied with being regarded as a sadhaka, is something more than an ordinary person. Even a sadhaka, a humble aspirant sincerely attempting to tread the path is more than an ordinary human being in the sense that his mind, his consciousness, has exceeded the limits of his body.

The religious or the spiritual personality is that which has succeeded in breaking through the limits of this body at least by one inch, even if it be not more. But the hardbound human being that he is insists on his own ego-written requirements, and a similar reaction and demand manifest by other people, without conceding even a little sacrifice on anyone's part, becomes the cause of battles and wars even in shops and marketplaces. Man is not born here merely to die in the same way as he came on this Earth.

The poise of mind which I referred to is that power of awareness, of knowledge, of insight which can place itself in the position of an office which it really occupies as a representative of a higher reality from where it has descended to the lower one for not only the purpose of ascending further, but also to communicate to others the message of the higher reality which it represents.

People speak of peace of mind, but how is this possible as long as you are the same, same, same person without even the least change in your outlook of life? The more you are able to accommodate that which is not agreeable to you in a rational fashion, the more are you divine in your behaviour. There is no great virtue in accommodating what you like. Everyone is doing that, and we do nothing else. But the strength of personality of a genius, of a divine character, lies in that power which can harmoniously and non-injuriously accommodate and adjust itself with what is not reconcilable under other circumstances.

The world is a world of conflicts and irreconcilable movements. This is something known to human history – else there would be no history at all because there would be no kind of conflict, or any kind of movement or activity. But the converting of this process of human history outwardly as well as inwardly into a saga of the divine, into a drama that is played by a meaning that is hidden beneath the surface of human movements, is what is called the art of the karma yogin or the superman on Earth. Unshaken is your mind, untroubled are your emotions, stable is your reason and non-vindictive is your attitude. This becomes the stature of a person who is a representative of that which cannot be found in this world, which is above this world. That is a saint and a sage.

The power and the capacity to which I am making reference does not come by any kind of mere book reading or study of human psychology in a school. It comes only by the observing of the examples of great people, the majestic movements of Masters who lived in the world amidst the turmoil and the humdrum of life. The company that you may be blessed with in the vicinity of such mighty Masters is a lesson greater than what all the encyclopaedias and dictionaries may tell you, because the power of emotion many a time seems to be more violently demanding in its nature than the voice of reason. It is not that people are devoid of reason. Even a little boy has a reason which can understand when things are presented in a proper way. Totally irrational idiots are difficult to find. But the rationality is mostly buried deep under the debris of tumultuous movements of the waves of feeling and emotion, and we are mostly on the surface of the fast-moving emotions because we want immediate joys and satisfactions. We cannot wait for a piece of hard timber if that can be had only from a slow-growing tree. We want a quick manufacture of a wood that has grown immediately, and we do not mind if it is not strong.

I was told that in Kashmir people do not grow the best of apples, the ones usually called ambri. They have stopped growing them because they take a lot of time to grow and cannot be sold as speedily as the other apples that are available, so either they have diluted the whole orchard of these slow-growing apples or they have completely ignored them because the satisfaction of immediate profit is overwhelming in comparison with the benefits that may come from a slow-growing fruit which is more beneficial to the human system.

Man's asking for immediate joys has led him to the turmoils of modern existence, and he has to be blamed for what he is experiencing today. There is no use cursing God or nature or anybody else. The faster movements which seem to promise quicker satisfactions bring a spirit of competition with our brothers. Our business life today is one of competition rather than cooperation, and what is competition except exploitation, deceit, and a kind of internal warfare? So the commercial world, which goes hand-in-hand with the industrial world that manufactures even weapons of destruction, go with the demands of man for the immediate joys, and immediacy is the only thing. The joys should get piled up one over the other like mountains over his head. He must be drowned in joy, though it is the joy of being blown by a destructive cyclone that may root out the very existence of the person.

Today's history of mankind is certainly a great lesson which can open the eyes of any sensitive mind and take it deeper into the causes of the predicaments of modern history and modern social living, which is the inhuman treatment of human beings. A human being has to be treated as a human being, and one human being cannot treat another human being as a non-human being. What is being done by a human being in business, in commerce, in transaction, in conflict, in disagreement, in irreconcilability? There is only one attitude: the refusal to treat another human being like one's own self. I cannot agree with you, and you have to agree with me. This is the position that we maintain always, and everyone can maintain that position because each one is free. There is liberty, and here is the liberty before us. What is the consequence that follows? We see it today with our own eyes.

Man's freedom should not be equated with the freedom of assertion of his own whims and fancies that are bolstered up by his longings for immediate emotional satisfactions – physical, social, and even financial. The Godman is gradually dying and the anti-God, if it all there is something like that, seems to be showing its head in the present difficulties which give us not a moment's peace and rest even for a single night.

Is it too late for us to mend? It is always said that it is never too late to mend. It is never too late to mend because of a peculiar characteristic of the Ultimate Reality. Under every circumstance we have an opportunity to become better. Even in what we may consider as the worst of circumstances, we have a hope. Even in the deepest nether regions or the inferno of fire and brimstone, there is the immanence of the Ultimate Almighty. There is no deepest hell where the arms of Reality do not reach. God's fingers can touch and do operate even within the deepest inferno that we can conceive in our minds. This is the reason why there is a hope for even the worst of people, and if we think that today we are in the worst of conditions, if for any reason we are inclined to think that today the world is in perhaps the worst of situations, even taking for granted that it is so, there is a way out.

God cannot die; He is never dead. Reality cannot be destroyed; it never ceases. The law of the Almighty is a perpetual reconstructive force, a cosmic anabolism that is permanently taking place in this body of the whole of creation, whatever be the destructive tendencies that the human eye may perceive in its own ignorance.

At this moment, therefore, I have a feeling that these few very fortunate souls seated here in this auspicious vicinity of Sri Gurudev's Samadhi Shrine can build up a spiritual fraternity which can attract the attention of God Himself, if He casts a kind eye upon us by the very force of our devotion which is born of the deepest recesses of our heart, notwithstanding we are a handful seated here. You will be wonderstruck that God, the miracle maker and the greatest of miracle makers, can reveal Himself in the greatest of miracles at the exact crucial moment when it is necessary. There is a peculiarity with God that He does not seem to give us any notice about what He is going to do. He never tells us what He would do. This is evidently a peculiar, strange behaviour of God, though often we hear that there are and there have been occasions when He did promise even beforehand what He was intending to do in the cases of great saints and sages.

However, we are not away from the protective arms of God. The world is not yet entirely caught by the devil, though people are inclined to believe that it is happening. The power of God is operating even today, and even if there is only one man in the whole world whose heart is really rooted in God, we cannot say that the devil has really descended on the Earth. The roots of dharma are operating in the world even still.

At this hour, may our hearts sincerely move towards this ever-kind, all-merciful, omnipresent and omniscient Father whose grace we need every moment of time. May this bring peace to our minds, and may His power be the power of the poised attitude that we may manifest in our daily life. Thus, may we behave and live in this world even with our own brothers, not merely as devotees of God and disciples of a great Master, but even as good gentlemen and true human beings with reason working in the uppermost level of our psychic personality which will dictate the law of impersonality to the emotions and the feelings of man, thus keeping him happy in the sense of a real permanency that can come only as a representation from God's love even in the midst of these apparent turmoils.