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The Process of Self-Realisation
by Swami Krishnananda

There is also a little suspicion in one's own heart. This difficulty arises because we are too much human, and unable to get out of this human aspect in our nature. Not merely that, the feature which is human goes together with a sense of finitude and incapacity of oneself. As a human being, you feel very small, and consider yourself as a little almost nobody in this large humanity, like an ocean.

Two forces work within us at the same time. Sometimes we feel that we can achieve our purpose. This feeling inside is demonstrated in the unending desire for knowledge and achievement in the world. No one is finally satisfied with one's own present achievements. There is a longing to achieve more and more objectives in life. This longing shows that one is capable of these achievements. A totally unachievable objective cannot rouse an aspiration in regard to it, so our longing for unending completeness of life is justifiable somehow, and therefore there is a hope of our achieving all our ends in life. But together with this wondrous hope surging forth in our hearts, there is a simultaneous diffidence caused by our finitude, so we require propping up support every day when we are drooping down with a sense of finitude and limitation. Both these forces are working inside us simultaneously. We feel that we are capable of achieving everything, and yet, at the same time, feel that perhaps we are not for it. We feel the touch of the finite and the infinite at the same time. This is the human predicament.

These conflicting situations should be encountered properly, not only in our yoga practice, but also in our other performances in this world. This problem is not only a spiritual problem, it is a day-to-day problem of every person. The conflict referred to is present in every walk of life, in every human being. Actually, there is no such thing as a spiritual conflict or a political conflict. It is a single conflict before us of a uniform nature. All conflicts are rooted in a single conflict. They appear like spiritual, social, intellectual, political, and the like, by outer forms of their expression. It is the conflict between the finite and the infinite. It is the conflict I referred to earlier in one session, which is fourfold. You have to remember this character of the fourfold conflict every day in your mind. It is not clear to me if you will remember all these things that have been told to you for so many days.

You must be conscious of every aspect of your difficulty in day-to-day life. It is not enough if you are pinpointed only on one aspect of your difficulty. Your difficulty is a multifaceted one. A universal problem is before you. That universal problem manifests itself as everything, even a little conflict between one person and another person, and yourself and the world. I feel that I should repeat these few words once again for your remembrance, because it is so very important. I am mentioning to you what I have explained already some days back. It is very important because it is the very foundation of your clear thinking.

There are four aspects of conflict in life. The most immediate pressing conflict is your irreconcilability with human society, people outside. This outermost conflict appears as political, social, communal, etc., in many forms. It is basically a difficulty of relationship between one person and another person. That can be a relationship between two persons or many persons in a family, or a larger congregation like the nation or the whole world. In a quintessential form we may explain this circumstance as social conflict. This is the only thing that is occupying our minds mostly. Day in and day out we think of other people, and our difficulties with other people. When we sometimes say the world is good or the world is bad, we are referring to other people only. We are not thinking of the rivers and the mountains when we speak of the goodness or the badness of the world. The human world is nothing but the world of people. So here is the immediate difficulty we face right from the time we wake up in the morning till we go to bed at night. It is a question of self-adjustment with people outside.

But this has a root, or a cause, which is not easily visible to the mental eye. Most people cannot imagine that this conflict has arisen, due to some other problem in the minds of people. This you may consider as a higher form of conflict, a causative factor, and another type of conflict altogether. The minds of people cannot think uniformly or harmoniously. Though everyone knows that harmonious psychological operation is necessary for people's peace, yet this will not usually be achieved, for important reasons. A partner in a business knows that the business cannot go on well if he goes on disagreeing with his partner every day. If that situation continues, the business will fail, and both will be the losers. Yet, there will be conflict every day.

The reason behind social disharmony and absence of social equipoise is psychological nonalignment of people. Human beings are not a solid stone. They are made up of various layers of inward constitution. The human personality also is a wondrous psychological organization. It is this psychological organization that manifests itself as social organization outside, and therefore a non-aligned psyche will always come in conflict with other psyches in the world. Inasmuch as this seems to be a feature prevalent in almost everybody in the world, it appears to be an insoluble problem. Unless the psychological alignment of the inner constitution of people is achieved, social peace cannot be achieved. But the question will arise: How will you achieve this?

There is a cause behind this psychological difficulty also. This is the third type of conflict I referred to earlier. Actually, it is not the third type; it is the cause behind this second cause, and that is a thing which least attracts the attention of anybody in the world. The higher things do not usually become the concern of people. Just as a little worker or an official thinks mostly of his immediate boss and not the higher ones, people also think only of immediate causes and not higher causes. But it would not be a wisdom to be totally ignorant of the final causes of experience in the world. There is something which has a final say in all things. These difficulties, which are constitutional, or you may say psychophysical, are caused by cosmological factors.

As we have the most outward form of social conflict and inward psychological conflict, there is a conflict with man of the whole of the world. Nature works in one way, and we do not seem to be appreciating it fully. We cannot reconcile ourselves with the workings of nature. We have a complaint against nature's laws and operations also. We do not know why nature behaves in the way it does, just as we do not know why people behave in the way they are doing. So there is an ignorance of many causative factors of this type. So I mentioned to you three facets of conflict: social, psychological and cosmological.

But topping this list, there is a last word that is to be uttered. That explains everything. It is the conflict of everything with the Ultimate Reality of the cosmos. The effect cannot reconcile itself with the cause. This is a philosophical way of explaining the problem. You may wonder: What do you mean by the irreconcilability of the effect with the cause? There is a basic difficulty in understanding relationships of any kind. You cannot easily understand how one thing is connected with another thing. Philosophers have tackled this metaphysical question of the relation between cause and effect. It has been found that this is the crux of all the problems: In what way is the effect connected with the cause? The questions which are logical in this nature are of this type, as I shall briefly state.

The question is purely philosophical. You may call it logical if you like. Is the effect a part of the cause, or is it independent of the cause? There can be two alternatives: The effect is the same as the cause, or it is not the same as the cause. What other alternative can be there? Either it is one with it or it is not one with it. Now, if you feel the effect is the same as the cause, there is no such thing as the effect. If that is the case, it is futile to talk of effects of causes. But if you feel that the effect is not the same as the cause, then there is no connection between the cause and the effect. If there is no connection, the effect is not really an effect at all. The very word 'effect of a cause' implies the relationship of the effect with the cause. Now, you could not conceive of a relationship which is neither identity nor difference. So the relationship question is a moot question.

So many people do not understand what relation there can be between God and the world. Many a time people are afraid of using the word 'and' between God and the world. Why do you say God and the world, as if there are two things? If there are two things, the same question arises once again: the relationship between cause and effect. Is the world the same as God or different from cause? If the world is the same as God, then why are you worrying about the world? If you say it is not the same, what is its relation to God? If you say it has no relation, the question of reaching God does not arise. The whole problem of cause and effect is a logical quandary.

You may wonder why such a problem has arisen before us. It is the difficulty arisen in one’s own self not properly understanding one’s own self. You have assumed that you are something, but you are something else really. Great scientists and physicists also committed this mistake and never understood the nature of the world, even scientifically or physically. Scientists observe and experiment with things which are different from themselves. Every observation and every experiment is with something not identical with yourself. You cannot observe or experiment with that which is a part of your own skin. So we have the notion that the world is not part of our skin, it is outside. And today, what to speak of philosophers, even scientists have woken up from the slumber of this notion. The world is not merely sticking to you as your skin, it is nearer to you than your own throat. The world cannot be seen because it is inside you. It has entered every pore of your body. As I repeat once again what I told you, the ocean has entered every particle of water in the wave, so the wave cannot see the ocean. There is no such thing as the wave experimenting with the ocean. If such a task is taken upon the side of the wave, it can never understand the ocean.

Our relationship with the world is something like the relationship of the wave in the ocean with the ocean. So no philosopher, no scientist will ever succeed if this fact is forgotten by him. So the wave knowing the ocean would be like knowing its own self. So to know the world would be to know yourself, and to know yourself would be to know the world. So there is a great point in the ancient dictum and oracle: Know thyself and be free. This is the Oracle of Delphi and also Oracle of the Upanishads. Know yourself and you have known the universe or, to put it in this homely analogy I mentioned, know the wave and you know the ocean. So knowing the world and knowing yourself mean one and the same thing. This will also explain every kind of relationship anywhere. It explains society, it explains yourself, it explains the world and it explains God.

The fourfold conflict mentioned arises due to this notion in our mind, which has to be rectified. In fact, there are no conflicts. The conflicts are notional and not realistic, and inasmuch as they are not real conflicts, they can be broken down. If a problem is really there in front of you, you cannot solve it. Ultimately it is not there; therefore, it can be solved.

So be confident in yourself that you can achieve your purpose. These are the words with which I began today. You will succeed not only in yoga, but in every walk of life. You will be a good officer, good executive, good worker, good administrator, good friend, good husband, good wife – good everything. Yoga is the art of perfection. It is not perfection only in one line, but everywhere. It is a science and art of communion with everyone and everything in harmony. Samatvam yoga ucyate says the Bhagavadgita: Harmony is yoga. Yoga is defined in two ways in the Bhagavadgita, in short words. In one place it says yoga is harmony: Samatvam yogah. In another place it says yoga is expertness in action: Yoga karmasu kaushalam. A person who is in a state of harmony is also an expert in action. Expertness in action automatically arises due to the harmony at the back of it. As you are in harmony with every form of effect and every form of cause, nothing can be hurled in front of you. But you must remember all the causative factors behind every chain of effect.

Now I shall speak a few words about what you can actually do at the present moment in your daily life. You have heard a lot, but what are you supposed to do now. Firstly, have a daily routine of program for your continuous awareness of this great objective in life. Take a diary and write down: What should I do every day? What are the items of work that are incumbent upon me? Mostly we have a set of duties every day. This is to speak generally. You have a general and broad outline of what you are expected to do every day in the position you are placed in human society. Now, this daily routine of yours has some connection with the ultimate aim of yours. You have some aim or objective in your mind which is the final thing, to achieve which you are undertaking this daily activity. But if this final aim is not clear, you will find this daily routine as a kind of drudgery and a great difficulty. There are people in the world who always complain, “Oh, I have to do a lot of work every day. I am very unhappy.” This complaint arises because they are unable to connect these daily duties with the ultimate purpose behind these duties. You know consciously and deliberately nobody will do a totally unnecessary thing. There is some necessity behind what you are doing every day, and inasmuch as it is a necessity, you have accepted it as essential for your life. Now be very logical in your thinking and systematic in your outlook. When you have voluntarily accepted a particular situation, you should not make a complaint against it. But the complaint arises due to the pain that is attached to it sometimes. It is impossible to engage oneself in a totally painless kind of work in the world. There is some pain and inconvenience in every work.

You may ask me why should there be pain in doing some duty. Here again I am bringing your mind deep down into a little philosophical issue. There is a little unhappiness, unfortunately, felt in the performance of duties. This is a little wonder indeed. The difficulty arises due to a misconception as to the nature of duty itself. The very word 'duty' is interpreted in a wrong way: as an imposition from outside. You always say “I have to do it, I cannot help it” and you think this is duty. It is not that you have to do and you cannot help. It is something that you must do for your own welfare also. If it has no relationship with your welfare one hundred percent, why will you do it?

But the painful aspect of duty arises due to a peculiar characteristic implicit in the very concept of duty. Duty is an obligation, not necessarily in respect of your own body and your personality, but in respect of a larger reality than your own individuality. You have an obligation to things or an obligation to the environment with which you are inseparably connected. But nobody likes to be obliged to anybody. This is the ego speaking inside: Why should I be obliged? Then the question will be: Why should I do anything at all? So you will resent the performance of even a duty due to this voice of the ego. But the ego, foolish thing, does not understand that this obligation to the environment outside is in its own interest, for its own survival even.

One cannot be so selfish as to be totally oblivious of the fact that the larger atmosphere, of which it is the part, is a conditioning factor of its own welfare also. The welfare of the part is in the welfare of the whole, and therefore the part has a duty towards the whole, and this duty is nothing but a harmonious relationship the part has to establish with the whole to which it belongs. So this part should not grudgingly do this duty. The grudge is not justifiable. But if the selfishness of the part is so very ingrained, the performance of duty becomes a pain. Otherwise, the performance of duty really should be a joy. Duty is a service that you due to your own larger self. The family is a self larger than a single member. The community is a larger self than even the family. Your nation is a larger self than even the community. The whole humanity or the world is still a larger self than even the nation, and the largest Self is the universal one, of which everyone is a part. So the duty or the obligation to the higher self is certainly a source of greater joy, and it cannot be a cause of pain. So when you make out this daily routine or program, remember that your aim is clear before you. It is the service of the higher Self. That is your aim.

But be sure what is this higher Self. In the lowest degree of its manifestation, it is your own family, and I mentioned to you there are higher and higher forms. The higher you go, the better for you. A national patriot is serving a larger self than the little family. But one who is conscious of the Universal Self is doing the greatest service. So with a logical and systematic consciousness of the gradation of these selfs, form a daily routine for your practice.

Then you have got another, interesting help, in the form of a set of questions that you can pose before your own self. Put questions to your own self regarding all the duties that you have to perform or the things that you should not do. So your questions can be a private questionnaire of your own self. You can go on asking yourself: “Have I done this, have I done this, or have I forgotten this, and have I done something which I should not do?” and so on, may be your questionnaire. So firstly there is the daily routine, and secondly, the daily diary of questionnaire, which is a pose before your own self. It is a system of self-examination every day. It is as if you are going to audit your accounts every day for your own satisfaction. It is said that when you go to bed, your balance sheet should always be on a credit side. You should not go to sleep with a dissatisfaction in the heart, because no one can be sure that one can wake up in the morning. We may wake up in the other world. So one has to be very cautious in closing the day with proper accounting of one’s own achievements in a positive manner. The third thing is a determination on your part, a will and a decision that you have taken: “It has to be done, and I shall do it. It is a resolve, and it is a permanent resolve. I shall do these, and I shall not do these.” This is a little difficult thing to do. The will of man is not so strong as it ought to be usually.

You may ask me: How can I develop my will? Individually, by your own side, it is a difficult thing for you. Every disciple requires a Master. In ancient days disciples used to live in the hermitages and monasteries of Masters, and there was no problem at that time because they were conditioned by the force of the will of the Master, and the determination of the Master was influencing the will of the disciple. The Master was under the care of the disciple so that they were exactly to obey him in every little bit of obedience. These days, things are a little different. We cannot live a life of that type, of ancient days. Nevertheless, the system should operate even now. The Guru, as I mentioned one day, is a higher self of your own. It is not another person to whom you are speaking. I have to repeat to you that your Guru is not another person. He is a total person that transcends your personality. In the same way, to repeat, the family is not another person. It is a larger person than the member thereof. So the Guru is a higher self in the same sense as I described earlier, a few minutes back, and it is not difficult to find a competent teacher, though the early circumstances of close physical relation are not feasible these days. So, have these three prongs, as it were, of your spiritual approach. Number one: a daily routine, number two: a system of questionnaire about your own self, and thirdly: a resolve and a determination to achieve the end.

Similarly, your daily spiritual practice can take three forms. Usually the religious or the spiritual approach is of this threefold nature. A recitation of the Divine Name is one method. This is a practice to which every form of religion is accustomed. In Sanskrit we call it japa, or we call it japa sadhana. Now, this system of repetition of the Divine Name is to be resorted to in the manner that will suit your particular mental condition. This also requires some suggestion and guidance from a superior. It is nothing but a symbol that you are resorting to in order to remember the higher values or purposes of life. The definition, the formula or the name that you are reciting is symbolic of a consciousness of a higher reality that you have to maintain in your mind.

But you may find that this practice is not possible throughout the day. It may tire you after one hour or two hours. So a more easy method is study of elevating spiritual philosophical literature. Though you may be a highly educated, greatly learned person, this study should not close as if you know everything. As there is a necessity to wash vessels in a kitchen every day so that they may not turn black, it is necessary to brush up your memories every day though you may be very learned. Even a learned person cannot remember everything always. So essentials which are to be remembered every day should be brought to the mind by the help of deep study. By study, I did not mean reading any book from a library. It is a constant vade mecum or a daily remembrancer of a specific type of sacred study. Too much of reading in the later stages is not necessary. In the earlier stages of education a lot of study may be required, but after that you do not require much of an assistance of this type. You can have only one book with you, you may call it a scripture or a text, as you may like. Such book or text you must choose which will suddenly and immediately rouse your spirits to higher realms. It may be any sacred literature which you love most or you like most. This system of daily reading is called svadhaya in Sanskrit.

So firstly I mentioned to you the chanting of the Divine Name, and secondly I mentioned sacred study. The third and the most important aspect of spiritual practice is meditation. Actually, the earlier two mentioned are preparatory for this last step. You have to have enough leisure to sit alone for yourself, for a few minutes, at least every day. You must be alone literally to yourself every day, at least for a few minutes, as much as possible. This aloneness is impossible usually in this workaday world. You have friends and family members and telephones and what not, which disturb you, but here again, your determination should work. For an hour at least, every day, you are alone to yourself, and you do not want to do anything else. Then, during this one hour at least, during which you will be alone to yourself, remember your destiny, the Cause from where you came, and your future, and your career. During these daily moments, gather your personality into a focus and concentrate on your universal relationships. And, again, this will be something like a meditation on your own larger Self.

All meditation is meditation on Self. In the beginning it may look like an outside object, just as you may think that the family is outside you or the nation is outside you or people are outside you. I mentioned to you, nothing is outside you. It is so because you are involved in that thing which you think is outside you. So even in a so-called meditation on an outward concept or object, you are really meditating on a larger self of your own. This sort of reorientation of thinking requires much training because we are not usually accustomed to this kind of approach to the world.

So I have told you practically the sum and substance of your duty, obligation, and nature of performance in life. If you can keep in mind all these things, you shall be blessed. God’s grace be upon you! Hari Om Tat Sat. Om purnam adah, purnam idam purnat purnam udachyate; purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate. Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.