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Sadhana is the Universalisation of Consciousness
by Swami Krishnananda

(Brahmamuhurta lecture on Guru Purnima, July 14, 1968)

It is easier to fast for many days than to eat moderately daily, and it is easier to have complete mauna than to speak sweetly, because in these steps we go to an extreme and miss the golden mean. This is also true in the case of sadhana. We go into an exuberance rather than be sober persons of self-possessedness. The extreme seems to be easier. To be in the golden mean needs perpetual effort, which we cannot put forth. Hence, the via media is advised. The purpose of sadhana is not to exhibit. It is no use saying that we have done this or that. It makes no difference. It may make a difference to us in achieving an end which is other than sadhana, but it has no relation to people outside.

The most sober and middle term of existence is God Himself. We cannot catch Him either in this corner or that. It is neither in the subject nor in the object, but in the middle. It cannot be seen by the eyes, so we cannot attain it. The extremes are pertinent to the subject and object, but God's universal presence is neither subject nor object, neither in this nor in that wholly. This presence in a peculiar manner is itself a wonder: That which is everywhere but which cannot be seen anywhere. It is the only reality, and yet it cannot be dealt with.

We have never been able to get God because of the wrong step we take. In daily activities we are wholly extrovert, and in sadhana we are closed. We run in haste to objects, missing God on the way. We always run, never taking a wise step. All this comes to a simple fact that either we are over-enthusiastic in things or we make no effort. This is the bane of our moods. Suddenly we start getting up at 2 a.m., doing japa of a hundred malas, etc., that we can never stick to. There is a reaction to everything. But sadhana in the middle. The middle of what? Not of things, nor objects. It is the middle of our thought itself. Sadhana is ultimately a way of thinking. It is the middle of thought. Not thinking of the subject or object is sadhana. It is not thinking of anything which is regarded as an object that is in space and time; it is not thinking, and yet also not thinking anything at all. It is thinking and yet not thinking anything.

We employ all the yogis' implements to rouse in us a consciousness of the middle term of existence. We are on one side of the balance, and the objects are on the other side. There is no harmony between us and objects outside. There is tension. We do not feel the tension between the two hands of our body, but why do we feel the tension in society? Though we speak of society as a whole, we regard ourselves as individual units in society, and these units it is that wage war with one another. If the limbs always wage war, what will happen? Why should such a thing happen in society?

The reason is simple. We are ego-centric, and the limbs have made the sacrifice of this ego centre. The limbs are intuitively aware that they are organic parts of a whole. They have no personal interests of their own. They have an end beyond themselves and so they will not war between themselves, but we have an end in ourselves. Unless and until we regard the outer and the inner as parts of a whole, there is no harmony between us and the world. Sadhana is establishment of harmony at every level, internal and external, with prana, with mind, with intellect, with society and with the world. These are put in technical terms in some yoga texts. Pratyahara is the term used to show harmony with the senses, dharana with the mind, dhyana with the intellect, yamas with society.

The ashtanga yoga of Patanjali is a process of establishment of peace first outwardly, and afterwards inwardly. By yama and niyama we establish peace with the world. Then we establish the harmony within ourselves by asana, pranayama, etc. The final troublemaker is the ego. Missing the point of sadhana and engaging oneself in it would be a serious blunder. We should not take an action when the very purpose is frustrated. Even a day's sadhana will tell us what progress we have made, if it is substantial and done properly. Sadhanabrings about a twofold change: our relation to the world, and our feelings within. In the advanced stages it will change the world's feelings towards us. It will recognise us as a friend, and run to us. Now we regard the world as an enemy, and vice versa.

Sadhanais the panacea to cure this illness. A desireless person is not a source of fear to anyone. “I want nothing” is the motto of the sadhaka. It is the surrender of one's ego to Ishvara that can bring success in our sadhana and in our daily work. God is a harmoniser, not a frustrator, a fulfiller, not a destroyer, so sadhana will not obstruct our life's activity. We are in a perpetual state of anxiety, and real life is God-life. The jiva's life is mortal life, and deathless life is Godly living.

Sadhanais not to acquire name or to get anything ulterior, or to increase our bodily importance. It is the universalisation of consciousness. It is furnishing sacrifice for the sake of the whole. There is no sadhanawhich can afford to forget the God element in it. No sadhana should be practised which has no relevance to God. If there is doubt and dissatisfaction, know that your sadhana is not done properly. You will have a sense of confidence and not diffidence that you can do something and that you have done something. All this comes by your desirelessness. It matters little what form sadhana takes, but see whether it is genuine and the God element, or mumukshutva, is in it. Unless mumukshutva is there, sadhana becomes lifeless, like a series of zeros without a number in front of them. Add this single element of God's Being in all your activities and they assume importance. Then it becomes a divine lila. The main thing is to introduce God's element in all actions. Let God's presence be felt in everything and everywhere, always. Sadhana is the attainment of peace.