(Spoken on August 30, 1985 to a group from Brussels)
This world of nature is usually considered as a mass of physical matter. Human beings observe things through their mind, which is charged with consciousness or awareness. The great and wondrous phenomenon behind this process of knowing is that what knows cannot know itself. It knows only what is other than itself.
Commonly we may say that it is the mind which feels that the whole world is materially constituted. Whatever we see or touch looks like a material stuff. Any contact we have in this world seems to be a contact with what is material. It so happens that even our body is materially constituted. We take for granted that each one of us is this body that is visible to the eyes. We see ourselves as the physical body and see the world as physical matter, so the mind feels justified in concluding that there is nothing in this world except matter. This conclusion that our own selves are just material bodies and everything that we see is also material leads to what we call the materialistic conception of life. What is this materialistic conception? “I am also a physical body, and everything else in the world also is physical only.”
Now, let us put a question to ourselves: Who is coming to this conclusion that we are the body and that the whole world is matter? The characteristic of matter is insentiency, or unawareness. Matter has no knowledge of itself. Matter cannot know itself and it also cannot know others. Matter does not know that anything exists; it does not know that even it exists, because matter is a name for that condition which is bereft of consciousness. So if the body of a human being has no consciousness because it is matter, and the world is also like that, who is saying that the world is only matter? Here is an interesting question before the whole of mankind. The world of matter cannot know that the world of matter exists, and if the human body is just what man is, man cannot know that he is existing at all.
Even supposing, from the point of view of psychology, that it is the mind that makes these conclusions, we have to understand what this mind is. How can there be a thing called mind if the whole world is only matter? We have already concluded that we ourselves and the whole world are matter. How is there a thing called the mind? Where does the mind exist if the whole world is only matter?
Here is a philosophical or even a common-sense question: Does the mind exist or does it not exist? If the mind does not exist, nobody knows that anything exists. But if we say the mind exists, the question is, where does the mind exist? We will find that the mind has no place to exist if the whole creation is material. Here we are using the word ‘mind' for the centre of knowing or awareness. For our practical purposes we understand ‘the mind' to be that thing which knows the world. So a knowing entity should exist in order that anything can be known to exist. This knowing entity actually has no place if the world is only material. It would mean that only the known object exists, and the knower does not exist. This is a total topsy-turvy of the fact. The mind that knows cannot be identified with matter that is known because the known is outside that which knows. Moreover, that which knows has self-illumination, whereas the object that is known has no such quality of knowledge.
We will find on a careful examination of the facts that this knowing entity is not an object, but a pure knowing subject. Here we have to understand what is meant by the word ‘subject'. A subject is that which knows but cannot be known by anybody; therefore, the knowing consciousness cannot be known by somebody else. Thus, the knowing consciousness refuses to become something that is known.
The characteristic of pure subjectivity is also indivisibility. If the knowing entity can be divided, one part of it may become the object of its own knowing. The meaning of subjectivity is that it cannot be known as other than itself. Hence, the knowing entity is an undivided and concrete mass of self-identity. Indivisibility implies immortality. It is the composed parts of a thing that cause the mortality of that thing; therefore, that which is not composed of parts cannot be mortal. The term ‘indivisibility' implies that it has no parts. It is not composite but eternal. Eternity implies timelessness, and timelessness implies spacelessness. This would mean that the knowing entity is a spaceless and timeless eternity; it is eternity and, therefore, infinity. Therefore, the whole world is included in this eternal knowing subject. This total knowing subject, which is immortal, is called God Almighty. This alone exists, and nothing else can exist. The knowledge of this total, eternal and immutable existence is the freedom of the soul of man.
Everyone and everything in the universe is striving to attain this immortal state. The anxiety, the desire, the anguish and struggle, and the restlessness of the world is an indication of the longing for this great immortal state. Keep this great truth in your mind always. This is called meditation. Never forget this truth; remember it always. The constant remembrance of this great Eternal Being is the highest meditation. What you deeply feel, that you will really become. Immortal you are, and immortal you shall become. Be blessed and, therefore, be happy, and make everybody happy. This is my message to you today. If you have any questions, you can ask me.
Question: Where does the ego come from?
Swamiji: The ego is the feeling that this eternal consciousness is limited to this body. The feeling that eternity is confined to this body is called ego. But it is a wrong feeling because eternity cannot be confined to the body. Anyhow, we somehow feel it is inside. That feeling is ego.
Question: How does this wrong notion come?
Swamiji: It comes by a desire to live in this body. It is a very pleasant thing; we like it, so we want to be here only, and not go outside. It is a great joy to be in this body.