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Everything About Spiritual Life
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 2: Universal Aloneness

I concluded the previous session by saying that there is a consciousness inside us called the Atman in Sanskrit; and we discovered that this consciousness, or what is called the Atman, cannot be only inside. It has to be outside also because if consciousness is only inside your body and not outside, who will know that it is not outside? There is nothing except consciousness that knows. It is the knower, the understander, the perceiver, the seer, the principle of knowledge. If this principle of knowledge or knowing is only inside you, and you conclude that it cannot be outside, who will know that it is not outside – except itself? So the Atman, this consciousness, cannot be bound by the body.

It appears to be limited to this body because of intense attachment. I can give you one example. There is akasha – space – everywhere. Wherever you go, there is space. Suppose you bring a little glass tumbler, and see space inside it. Imagine that this space inside the tumbler has consciousness and knows that it is inside the tumbler; but does it know that it is also outside the tumbler because space is everywhere? Taking for granted that such a situation is possible – that this space inside the tumbler can become conscious that it is only inside the glass, and knows nothing outside the tumbler – that would be our present position. Consciousness is like space pervading all places. Outside it nothing is; it is everywhere. This body is like a tumbler, like a bowl, inside which also is this all-pervading consciousness. But somehow, in a mysterious manner, this consciousness identifies itself with this one location, a little limited part, and so you  say, “I am here,” “You are there.” One tumbler-space is talking to another tumbler-space: “How are you, sir?” “Come on, let us go.” What is this statement? Actually, it has no meaning. One tumbler-space cannot talk to another tumbler-space, yet this is what is happening, which is a complete miscalculation of the true fact.

This consciousness, which is your Atman in the Sanskrit language, is your essence, your True Being. It is not only inside your body, it is everywhere. The conclusion from this is that you yourself seem to be everywhere. This is a shocking conclusion. If I am the consciousness, and I am nothing more than that, and if that is everywhere, it is another way of saying I am everywhere. How is it possible?

I will give another example without going too far into this mystery. Now you are in the waking state. You are aware of the whole world, but you are thinking the world is outside and you are sitting here. And when you say, “I am sitting here,” you mean this consciousness is inside this body. But you are not always in the waking condition; sometimes you dream, and sometimes you go to sleep. Now you feel that you are existing because your consciousness is speaking through the body: I am. In sleep, it does not speak like that. In the state of deep sleep, there is no consciousness. Do you exist in sleep? Were you alive in sleep? Or do you have a doubt? “I slept very well yesterday,” you say. Who is saying this? Not this waking consciousness, because it was not there in sleep. Actually, there was no consciousness in sleep; it was total darkness, unconsciousness, and abolition of every possible form of perception. When you knew nothing in sleep, how do you know that you slept yesterday? Do you understand? You have a memory that you slept. How could you have a memory when there was no knowledge of sleeping at all? You never knew that you were sleeping.

Memory is a representation of a previous experience. If today you have a memory of having slept yesterday, there must have been an experience preceding this memory; and what was that experience of sleep? It was an experience of nothing – knowing nothing. There was no personality; you never existed there. In deep sleep, you seem to have abolished, nullified your existence – you were not there. If you were not there in sleep, who is saying now that you slept yesterday? Here is a great clue to understand what your real nature is. You knew nothing, but you have a memory that you knew nothing.

This is a subtle, in-depth psychology which you must carefully listen to. You are aware that you were not aware of anything. It is a strange situation. You are conscious that you were not conscious. It is a peculiar psychological contradiction to make a statement like that. “I am now aware that I was not aware in sleep.” Has it any sense? But it has a sense; that is, there was something in deep sleep. It was not a negation of all of your personality. You are not dead in deep sleep – you are alive.

Now, what do you mean by being ‘alive'? When you breathe, when you see, when you think, you feel that you are alive. But in the state of sleep you are not thinking, you are not seeing, and you did not even know that you were breathing. So, for all practical purposes there was no indication that you were alive. Yet, you were alive. So being alive does not necessarily mean this, because you can exist without thinking, without tasting, seeing, or any of the sense organs, and without even being conscious that you are breathing.

Therefore, you are really not the mind, or the breathing process; you are also not this body, because you were not conscious of it, and you are not the eye, the ear, the nose or the tongue. You were existing independent of all these limiting adjuncts connected with this physical frame. What is your real nature? Who are you? If any question is put to you, what will you say? Will you say, “I am a five-and-half-foot-tall physical frame, I am the son of such a father, I am the brother of so and so”? You will say only that, nothing more.

But ask yourself, go on thinking: “What kind of person am I? I was knowing nothing in sleep, yet I was alive.” How is it possible to be alive without knowing anything at all? Thus, existence does not necessarily mean being conscious of the body and the world. You can exist independently of the body and world consciousness. In the state of deep sleep, therefore, you were not the body, not the mind, not the intellect, not the sense organs, not a man, not a woman. You don't know what you were in sleep, whether you are young or old; all these ideas have gone. In deep sleep you are neither man nor woman, neither old nor young, neither rich nor poor, neither tall nor short, neither this nor that. You were only general awareness. Pure Existence only was there. “Pure Existence only I am, I was, I have to be.” This is all you can say about yourself.

But do not say, “I am a brother, brother-in-law, husband, wife, tall, short, rich, poor.” These are all statements that you make by associating your real nature with passing phenomena. If a person has no son, you cannot call him a father; if a person has no wife, you cannot call him a husband, and so on. These relations that you are associating with yourself are purely relative to circumstance. You are totally independent by yourself – you are neither a father nor a mother, neither a man nor a woman, neither rich nor poor, nor anything of the kind. What is the meaning of rich and poor? Nobody can possess money. It can be held, and can also be lost. Anything that can leave you cannot be regarded as your property. Even this body may go away one day. So, what is your property? You are yourself your property. The greatest thing in the world is yourself – not the building, not the land, not the wealth, not the friends, not the relations. You are the most important thing in the world. But, what kind of ‘you'? It is that real ‘you' which was there in the state of deep sleep – not the waking ‘you' – because in the waking condition you think: “I am tall, short, young, and so forth.” But in sleep all these have gone, and yet you did exist.

Your real nature is pure impersonal existence unconnected with any kind of appurtenance outside. But due to the force of attachment, this impersonal conscious existence gets attached to the several shirts that it puts on. This body is a shirt because you can throw it away; the mind and the intellect are also shirts. They are all coverings of different intensity over this Pure Being that you are. Existence alone was in deep sleep. What kind of existence? There is no qualification for that existence. Where is existence? Existence cannot be in one place only, in the same way as consciousness cannot be in one place only. So, existence and consciousness go together. When you say, “I am here,” you are saying, “I am conscious that I am here. I exist.” Do you exist? Yes. When you say, “I am existing,” you mean, “I am conscious that I am existing. I am not unconscious that I am existing.” Thus, your existence and your being conscious that you are existing go together. You come to a wonderful conclusion: you are existence-consciousness. In Sanskrit it is called sat-chit.

And were you happy when you were fast asleep? You feel wonderful and would like to have a long sleep. If the sleep is not there, even a kingdom of wealth has no meaning. Even a king cannot be happy if he does not sleep for fifteen days. So, that condition is also a state of great joy, satisfaction. Existence-consciousness-joy is called sat-chit-ananda in Sanskrit. Sat-chit-ananda are not three things, because you feel happy when you are conscious that you are existing. It is one mass of inexplicable experience. It is not existence somewhere, consciousness somewhere, happiness somewhere. We use the words sat-chit-ananda – existence-consciousness-bliss – because we have no proper words to explain what it actually is. It is existence which is conscious of itself as happy. That is what you are.

This is a wonderful truth, which is now clear to you by a little bit of analysis. I opened up the fabric of your thinking, gradually pulled out the threads and showed you what is inside. By a process of a deep analysis of this kind, you came to know that you are neither the body nor anything connected with this body or relations. No friends, no relatives, no wealth, no property, no land, no money – these are all gone in the state of deep sleep, but most happy you are. When you have nothing, how are you happy? Generally people become happy with a lot of money – so much land, so much relations, so much building. You have nothing in sleep, and yet how happy you are. Who made you happy?

Happiness is not a product of possession of things in the world. Actually, if you analyse further, you will realise that all possession is a source of misery. You are absolutely alone to yourself in the state of deep sleep. In that utter metaphysical aloneness you are the Eternal Being experiencing itself in a joy that surpasses all understanding. Eternity, Endlessness, Pure Being, Deathless Consciousness was there in your state of deep sleep. Therefore, you are happy.

Do you believe that God is a happy person? How much property has He got? Where is His house? Has He got money? Has He got friends? Has He got relations? Has He got a palace? If He has nothing of this, He must be a very unhappy person. We are happy because we have got so many things. God has no land, no place to sit, no friends, no father, no mother, no relation, nothing – so He must be miserable. But do you think so? He is the highest happiness. The more you are able to live a life of total aloneness independent of relations with anything, the greater is your happiness; and God is Universal Aloneness.

You are now thinking of yourself as an aloneness in the state of deep sleep. It is an individualised aloneness; therefore, it comes and goes. You cannot be sleeping always throughout your life. Your karma phala makes you wake up, and all the potentialities of desire germinate into action. Once again you are miserable in the waking state, and you continue that misery in dream also. As you get tired of this activity, the real nature in you pulls you towards it like a parent pulls a child. Birds go on chirping, searching for their grub from morning till evening and never rest even for one moment, but in the evening, when they are tired, they go back to their nest. Likewise is this bird of this jiva, which is running here, there, doing all kinds of work everywhere, trying to find some solace in something. Finding nothing, you get disgusted, and go back to your house. Your house is inside you only; therefore, the Truth in you forcefully pulls you into yourself and tells you, “You are alone in this world.”

You are alone in this world. When you brought nothing when you were born, when you will not take anything when you go, how did you become rich in the middle? Now also you have nothing really. You are unnecessarily imagining you have got a lot of property, which will vanish like the wind any moment by an earthquake or a social catastrophe. Then you will find yourself alone once again as you were born, or as you will perish. So, now also why not be alone? Do not be attached to things. This attachment to things is a malady – it is a kind of disease that has arisen in the consciousness, which foolishly roams about like a dog barking at its own shadow, while there is no other dog except its own self.

Hence, you are an alone pure Being-Consciousness, and that is why you are so happy in the state of deep sleep. When some great trouble comes, when there is a quarrel in the family, when you have lost your job and friends do not want to look at you, what do you think at that time? “I have nothing, I am alone. Nobody wants me. I have lost everything; the very ground under me is shaking.” If you are drowning, what will you think at that time? “I have got so much money in the bank, I have got so many friends and relatives” – will you think like that? You think of yourself only, and no other thing. So, the real thing is ‘you' only.

God is Supremely Alone in a universal sense, and you are alone in an individual sense; this is the difference. But, even then, this aloneness only brings happiness. Friends, relations, comrades, and alter egos – anything other than oneself – is an artificial situation that is created because the moment there is another, there is suspicion and fear from the other. In the Upanishad, it is said dvitīyād vai bhayaṁ bhavati (Brihad. Up. 1.4.2): You always suspect a person near you. What kind of person is he? You cannot fully trust any person, because it is contrary to the real nature of your being. Your being cannot tolerate another being, and so you distrust everything and quarrel; war takes place. But the truth is something else altogether. You have got caught up in a muddle of chaotic, confused thinking.

These are the ways of philosophical analysis by which you gradually come to your Self. Philosophy is the art of coming to one's own Self, finally. But you must know what this one's own Self is. Do not make the mistake of saying, “I am Mr. so and so.” That is not the Self I am speaking of. I am speaking of that Self which was in the state of deep sleep, which was being as such, conscious of itself. If it were not conscious of Itself, you would not remember that you slept. Because of your desires, which you have brought through many births, and which are clouding your consciousness in sleep, you are not aware that you are existing. If that cloud is lifted by an artificial aperture created through the sense organs, you begin to feel that you are existing as a wrong person. You are feeling that you are existing, but actually this feeling is contrary to the truth of your real existence. The wrong person is saying, “I am existing.” The Real Person is somewhere else, hidden. This wrong person is not going to give you anything. All of us are wrong persons in that sense. The whole thing is a chaos, a confusion created by the drama played by the sense organs and the potentialities of desires which are not fulfilled and brought forward from previous births.

So, remember once again that your real nature is Aloneness. Sometimes, they call it alak niranjan, which means ‘there is nothing, Only One'. You might be afraid, “If I am alone, then I will die.” The death is not from that Aloneness; it is the wrong association of this aloneness with perishable things that is death. There are two things we have to understand in this connection: the aloneness of yourself as a person, and the Aloneness of the Supreme Being – God Almighty – in the universal sense. In Sanskrit that universal ‘I' is called Brahman, and the individual ‘I' is the Atman; and inasmuch as the cosmic space and the individual space in the tumbler cannot be separated, this Atman that you are cannot be separated from Brahman. The drop is the same as the ocean. This is a continuation of the process of analysis which we tried to conduct last time.

The oldest and greatest scripture of the world is the Rigveda. We have the earliest document of philosophical investigation in the Rigveda Samhita, where the vision of the Ultimate Reality was proclaimed by the great master as ekam sat: Being is one. You cannot divide Being into parts and have little bits of Being, because if you do, there will be a gap between this part of Being and the other part of Being; but that gap also must be existing, and that is also Being. Hence, there cannot be a gap. Non-existent separation is not separation. The gap cannot be non-existent; therefore, it is existing. Thus, there is no such thing as non-existence. The idea itself is meaningless, as Being cannot be divided. Ekam sat is the Rigvedic proclamation, ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti (R.V. 1.164.46): Great sages behold it in a variety of forms. Entire nature, the whole world that you see, is a manifestation of ekam sat.

We call that one Being by different names due to our language, the geographical conditions, the anthropomorphic notions we develop, and being born in particular cultural patterns. Geographical conditions, historical circumstances, cultural background, and family upbringing all condition your way of thinking this One Being. Inasmuch as you think through the mind, you cannot think through your pure Being, because the mind is always wedded to the perception of the sense organs; therefore, there is a multiplicity of the vision of this Supreme Being. It is like a single beam of light passing through a prism and getting deflected in many ways. Or it is like the many tongues of fire in a huge conflagration. No matter how many tongues of fire there may be, it is just one fire. Millions of waves in the ocean are only the ocean. All these names, all these forms, all these varieties of objects that you perceive are interpretations wrongly given to you by the five sense organs. The mind is dependent upon the report of these sense organs; therefore, there is no true perception through the senses and the mind. Everything is different from everything else: one religion is different from another religion, one god is different from another god, and you find that in the history of humanity everything is chaotically distributed with differences everywhere.

The eyes can see, but they cannot hear. The ears can hear, but they cannot see. The nose can smell, but it cannot eat. The tongue can swallow, but it cannot hear. Each limb has its own limitations, and yet we take for granted that these reports of the sense organs are complete. They are all isolated discrete particulars which have to be brought into a focus of synthesis, which the mind is trying to do. But the mind, unfortunately, is playing second fiddle to the sense organs which are making it dance to the music of wrong reports. You cannot know the Ultimate Reality through sense perception and mental operation alone. Thus, if all philosophical analysis is to be conducted only through sense-oriented mental thinking, it will not lead you to the Ultimate Reality.

There are philosophers who have gone into deep study of this phenomenon that we are conditioned by varieties of things, and the true nature of things cannot be known by any kind of rational analysis. Even reason cannot fully plumb into the depths of itself. How can reason go into itself when it is seeing outside? Reason is rarefied thinking, and thinking is only a conditioned sensory operation. Therefore, reason, logic, rational analysis and mental thinking through the sense organs do not bring any kind of conclusion. That is why there are so many philosophies – Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Sankhya, Yoga, etc. Even in Western philosophy, each person says whatever he likes because these thoughts, these conclusions, are totally conditioned by the phenomenon of this world as presented to the sense organs, ratified by the mind, and finally okayed by the reason.

So, where are we? We are drifting in a world of phenomena, passing shadows, where everything is moving, everything is passing. But what is there which is not passing? We cannot see it through the senses, through the mind, through the reason. Everything is a flux, everything is motion, everything is a tremendous vibration of forces; this is what we hear from great learned people or saints and sages such as Buddha, for instance. Even in the Bhagavadgita it is said anityam asukhaṁ lokam (Gita 9.33), duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam. (Gita 8.15). Asukham: impermanent is your experience in this world; duhkhalayam: joyless is your experience in this world. Just as a vastralaya is a shop where there is only cloth, or an aushadhalaya is where there is only medicine, here there is only duhkhalaya. Bhagavan Sri Krishna has said that just as a vastralaya gives vastra, and an aushadhalaya gives aushadha, this world gives duhkham, and that is why it is called duhkhalayam. That also is not permanent, it is asasvatam. The whole thing is mystery indeed, and it is high time for us to awaken ourselves to the secrets of our very existence.

As I mentioned in the previous session, there are two ways of coming to conclusions derivatively: by deduction from a vision of the Ultimate Reality, as it is in the case of the Vedas and the Upanishads, etc., or by induction, as it is mostly in the case of Western thinkers. Every day the sun rises in the east, but how do you know that the sun will rise in the east always? You do not doubt it. By a collection of particulars over a long period of time, and seeing a uniformity in the operation of these particulars, you come to a conclusion that the sun will always rise in the east, though there is no guarantee. Due to some change in the astronomical set up, the sun can rise in the west, but we think that will not happen because we have not seen it.

Indian thought, being mostly universal in its outlook and deductive in its nature, is based on the vision of Truth, and not mere analysis as it is in the case of the West. Therefore, in India we call this perception darshana. Darshana means vision. The great seers have seen, and then only proclaimed. They have seen not through these eyes, not through the mind, not through even the reason, but through the soul itself. By deep self-control, the Atman beheld itself as what it was, what it is, and what it shall be.

If there is no restraint of the sense organs from their wrong manoeuvring through the objects of perception outside, the mind becomes a treacherous medium which will not tell you the truth. Reason is also only a kind of rarefied form of thinking. If you want to achieve anything substantially and truly, you must have self control. You must withdraw the energies that are being depleted and thrown out unnecessarily by seeing, hearing, touching, etc. Consciousness, which is your real nature, is reflected through the reason and the mind, and percolates through the avenues of the five sense organs as sunlight may pass through five holes at the bottom of a mud pot or a pitcher. The force of the senses is such that they drag your pure Consciousness-Being outside, and make you feel that you are outside, as if you are a foreigner in your own land. This kind of catastrophic information is supplied to you by the sense organs. The sense organs are not your friends. This is why any kind of scientific analysis which is based purely on sensory observation and experimentation in a laboratory may give you a tentative truth, but not an ultimate truth.

You are spiritual seekers. You want to build up your true personality, and become a true human being. A true human being is a strong personality. He wants nothing. He is a great genius, and feels, “Everything is in me only; I can stand before anything.” This kind of conviction comes to a true gentleman. A gentleman does not think, “I am helpless, everything is gone, nobody is with me.” He thinks, “If everything goes, still I am here.”

The elephant says, “Let all go, I am here. Come, you come before me.” Bhagavan Sri Krishna spoke like that in the court of the Kurus when Duryodhana said, “I will bind Sri Krishna and put him in prison, and see that the Pandavas are thrown out.” Krishna said, “Okay, come on! You bind me! You are so many, and I am alone, but this one man is sufficient before all these millions.” You know the story. That is a real gentleman. It is something more than a gentleman; it is a superman. Lord Krishna was a superman. He said, “The whole world can stand before me.” But you want so many people; you want brothers, sisters, family, and so on. You cry for these things every day, and you are never satisfied with anything that is given to you; everything is insufficient. You should say, “I have got everything within myself. I can summon the forces of nature.” If Sri Krishna said that, why not you? He is only an example of supernature.

You should feel, “I am sufficient for myself. If I am here, it is sufficient for me. I do not need anything else.” Are you here? That is sufficient. I gave the example of Bhagavan Sri Krishna – “I am here, and it is sufficient. I don't want anybody else nearby. No friends, no armaments, no police, no army. I am here – one – and let the whole world come and stand before me.” This is not a merely a story in the Mahabharata, this is the potential that is in everyone. You are a man, and you have to become a superman, and finally a Godman. God bless you.