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Facets of Spirituality
by Swami Krishnananda
Compiled by S. Bhagyalakshmi

May 1979: Part 3

A visitor: Why does my throat go dry during meditation? It makes me cough.

Swamiji: It is due to the stopping of saliva; emotion dries up the saliva, which is connected with emotions, and in meditation your emotion on the object of concentration may cause this. Hunger, thirst, grief, sorrow, joy are all emotions which affect salivary secretion. When you are very angry, the mouth dries up; you cannot speak at that time. The mouth closes, the liver is disturbed and immediately your mouth dries up, the lips tremble.

Visitor: There is also palpitation during meditation.

Swamiji: It is all due to concentration at the time of meditation. Sometimes you feel the locking up of the teeth also. It is nothing unusual. It is natural—all due to concentration only.

Visitor: When in the course of doing japa, there is a time when you are unable to go on with it, as if you were in the grip of something other than the distraction of the mind. The mind does not seem to be coming into play here; there is joy for the time you are in this grip of something, which you are convinced is not a false experience but are convinced of the reality of the experience. It is not slipping into sleep or dream. Simultaneously you are aware that your concentration on your japa is not all that deep. Can this be taken to mean a flash in meditation, if such an interpretation is permissible here?

Swamiji: It is due to deep concentration only, although you may not be aware of it. Concentration can be even unconscious. Concentration need not be consciously set up. There can be effortless concentration, and that is more natural than the concentration with effort. When doing japa, it is tremendous concentration; but concentration is done unconsciously, and is more effective than the concentration with which you are speaking to me now. You are naturally feeling that you are so-and-so, and that is a tremendous concentration that has been pre-decided for years and so intensely practised that it has become a part of your being. And therefore, there is no effort in thinking you are this so-and-so, while it requires a little effort to listen to what I am saying, and so on. In japa, you have concentration at its subconscious level. Your name has become a part of you, you are that. Even so is the experience and the japa.

The conviction that there is a world outside us does not require great concentration of mind. We are born with the feeling that the world exists, though it really is a false notion. And yet that false notion has got into our blood so powerfully that we do not require to go on looking at things to feel that there is a world outside. So even wrong things can become a result of concentration.

Visitor: If no one is helping, how can one achieve anything for the commonweal?

Swamiji: You can do anything alone. Mahatma Gandhi led alone the whole of the Indian nation. Churchill singly defeated Hitler. Swami Sivananda was alone when he started the Ashram. If he had waited for help or cooperation from another person or persons, this Ashram would never have come into existence. Lord Krishna all by Himself delivered the Gita and won the battle of the Mahabharata. You also can do it all on your own.

An ashramite: So Swamiji, you mean to say that it requires concentration when you wish to concentrate on, i.e., think of God? How to concentrate when you want to think of God?

Swamiji: Be conscious that God exists, that God is the only thing that exists. This requires concentration. But we do not require any concentration to believe that the world exists, which really does not exist. You can imagine the trick of the mind. A thing which really is requires tremendous concentration to get it into our mind. But for a thing that is not there, it requires no concentration at all. It simply sits in your mind like a devil and takes possession of the entire area [laughs.] You can imagine the catastrophe that has taken place, and it is not going to be so easy a matter to rack one's head hard and struggle even to be aware that something exists while in fact that is the only thing that exists. And to get free from the clutches of a thing which is not there, see what an effort or attempt it is! You are struggling throughout your life to free yourself from the clutches of a thing that is not there, and you cannot think even for a single minute a thing which is really there. It is a case of complete hypnotisation and brainwashing to the very core by the mind. Brainwashing is really a poor word for it; much worse has happened. Brainwashing is only a psychological function.

Ashramite: The brainwashed mind does not wish to believe that it is as serious as it really is.

Swamiji: Yes, yes, yes.

Ashramite: In fact, that is the real brainwashing we do! We do not realise that it is as complete as it is.

Swamiji: Yes. A tremendous catastrophe has taken place, and yet you are brainwashed in another way, to make you feel that nothing has happened to you. Though are you a prisoner in fetters, you are made to believe that you are free. And that is a very interesting way of brainwashing! When you are in prison and you are aware that you are in prison, that is a blessing. But you are brainwashed again to believe that you are a free man.

Ashramite: If there is confirmation that you are in prison, there is no more struggle necessary to believe it is so. But you are brainwashed into thinking that you are practically free.

Swamiji: Yes, yes. Many great men think that they have realised God and are self-realised—Buddhas-Bodhisattvas. They think there is nothing else to attain, it only remains to give salvation to the world. Even many thinkers think like that. This is a topsy-turvy sincerity.

Another visitor: When did this change from reality to brainwashing begin? How?

Swamiji: It has no beginning. When you say ‘begin', you are thinking of a particular point of time. You are imagining a beginning of time [laughs].

Visitor: Okay. How did it change then? Why did it come about? What caused it?

Swamiji: If you know that you are no more so-and-so, you will cease to be that. That secret means God speaking in the end. He does not want to tell you because if He lets the cat out of the bag, then everybody will be happy. He has a small cat in the bag. He will not let it out; this secret He keeps to Himself. He has done something without letting you know what He has actually done.

Ashramite: Is it because man's own efforts will get rusted?

Swamiji: He wants you to put forth effort and know it. And He will not answer the question like that. He has worked the miracle. It is a miracle, well, merely because it is beyond the intellectual capacity to reach the cause. You are putting the question ‘why', and why is a question connected with logic. Logic means intellectual activity connecting cause and effect. These are all aftereffects of this phenomena, and the effect cannot know the cause. So the question ‘why' is connected with effect, and effect cannot know the cause, because logic cannot know the cause. Therefore, the question why has no answer. The question itself is a misplaced question.

Ashramite: Swamiji, the other day you said that the contradiction that arises between the waking consciousness and dream consciousness creates all the restlessness and problems of the waking consciousness, and that there are many more layers of the personality before the Atman is reached.

Swamiji: Yes, many, many more layers.

Ashramite: [Continuing] And Swamiji, you further said that God in His mercy has hidden these layers from us. How is it mercy?

Swamiji: Have you read my small book “The Struggle for Perfection”?

Ashramite: No. Swamiji. It is only now, after hearing you for a period of seven years, that I have the courage to read your books. Earlier I always kept them for special attention to the subject and for concentrated understanding. This opportunity did not come before I came to live in the Ashram, and only now the ground is familiar and I can read and follow what you write. Because of this background of only the earlier days that I had all those problems when I translated your book “Meditation—Its Theory and Practice”.

Swamiji: Read my book “The Struggle for Perfection”. I have mentioned all these layers there.

Ashramite: You have mentioned the layers in other contexts also.

Swamiji: I have also explained the layers there, and not merely mentioned them. The explanations cannot be exhaustive for a small book like that, but that is enough in that context.

Ashramite: I see. So I will get my answers by reading that book?

Swamiji: Yes, specially in the first part of it. That book is condensed and provides the essence of the whole matter.