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Facets of Spirituality
by Swami Krishnananda
Compiled by S. Bhagyalakshmi

October 1979: Part 1

A visitor: What is the lila of God? What does it mean that the creation is His lila?

Swamiji: This is the same as creation. If the electrons of the stone have really become a stone, then you cannot see the electrons but you can certainly see the stone. If it does not become the stone, how do you see it? The electrons become the stone, but why? No answer can be given. So, creation does not exist; it means it is only a misconception in the mind—it does not really exist. The more you think of it, the less you like to speak about it! Lila is an indescribable sport. You don't know why it happens.

Visitor: Is Ishvara a personal God?

Swamiji: There is a person as long as you exist. When you expand your personality, the personality of God gets diminished correspondingly, because two persons—you as well as He—cannot be there at the same time; and when you become cosmic, He ceases to be completely. He gives place to you. So there cannot be two Gods; only one God can be there.

Visitor: You seem to emphasise the creative side?

Swamiji: If He is the Creator, then He has to be the Sustainer and the Destroyer. But is there any Creator? You must decide that first—then other things would also follow. Has He created the world? If He has not created, He cannot sustain and destroy. I think He has not created the world.

Visitor: Some people say God created the world mechanically due to karmas; if so, can there be any grace of God to us?

Swamiji: There can be karma, there can be grace, there can be birth and death, there can be every blessed thing—even if there is no creation! These are no contradictions. God's creation is not necessary for all these purposes. It is a process of consciousness. Whatever you call itkarma, birth and death—they are not objective events, they are processes of consciousness. They are not outside us, what you see with your eyes.

Visitor: You mean belief in the world is a misconception, like the belief in the body?

Swamiji: Even the body is a state of consciousness only; it is not an object which exists ultimately. It appears to be there, but it is really not there. This 'you'and all that are, again, phantoms.

You have made a gulf of difference between you and I, which is not really there. It is a mistake that the mind makes. Just as in dreams persons appear to be there, but are really not there; they are only split parts of the same mind, one appearing as the I, the other appearing as you, and both are integrated in the single mind in a certain condition.

Visitor: Likewise here...

Swamiji: There is nothing like you and I. What are you seeing? You are seeing a part of the mind only. You are not seeing a person. Just as you see a wall in dream, you see another wall here. It stands in the same relation to the cosmic mind as the dream wall in relation to the waking mind.

Visitor: You mean the world is like a dream?

Swamiji: This world is a cosmic dream. When you wake up, you will not see the world, just as you do not see the dream-world now.

Visitor: Any difference between the jivanmukta and Ishvara, or are both beyond space and time?

Swamiji: Even mukti is a part of the dream only. When you wake up, there is no mukti. You are on the borderland—one leg here and another there—but really when you go there, there is no jivanmukti or anything.

Visitor: Then jivanmukti is the death of the empirical self?

Swamiji: It is not really death in the ordinary sense. It is a realisation by consciousness of its presence in everything. That is what you call death.

Visitor: It is not aware that it is present in everything. It always thinks it is present only in the body?

Swamiji: This is not the Truth. It is present in everything, and the moment you realise this Cosmic Vresence, there is no question of birth and death, the question itself does not arise.

Visitor: Shankara and Ramanuja disagree on saguna being ultimate?

Swamiji: There is no disagreement between Shankara and Ramanuja, but saguna is empirical reality for Shankara while Ramanuja takes it as an absolute Reality. It is something to be transcended.

We may be sitting here—you may not see the person really. You are seeing a part of the Cosmic Mind, of which you are also a part. One part of the Cosmic Mind is in another part of it. It is not one man seeing another man. That is a very crude way of thinking and expressing the fact. There is no man or woman or anything in this world; it is one part of the Cosmic Existence envisaging another part of it.

Each part is containing the whole in a hidden form. That is why you are able to catch the whole. The whole is implanted in every part entirely. Every cell of the body contains the totality of the personality biologically. If you take one cell of the body, you can study the whole of the person because it contains the reflection of the total personality. Likewise the whole Cosmic is reflected in every man—nay, in every atom.

There is a distinction between the vyavaharika and paramarthika levels of Reality.The distinction appears only to the empirical, it does not exist for the Absolute. You cannot have two things as reals. Two reals cannot exist. The real is only one, either this or that. One of them must be less, they cannot be in the same intensity of delight. Take, again, the electrons in a stone or as stone. Can you say the stone is nowhere after it becomes the electrons? It is even now the electrons only! So why should it 'become' a stone? So there is no question of jivas 'going' to Brahman. They are already there. They have only become aware of that fact by non-objective awareness.

Your consciousness of objects is your obstacle—i.e. consciousness identifying itself with all things, immediately after you wake up from dream. As long as the object is seen, you are inside the dream. When the object becomes the subject, the dream vanishes, the bubble bursts. That is called meditation. Ishvara is an object as a tree is an object. Your point of view in respect of the Absolute is called Ishvara. It is a point of view only, it does not really exist. If you cease to exist, it also goes. You will not see Ishvara when you reach the Absolute. It is like an 'x' in mathematics. It is a great help in finding a solution, but it is not in itself existing there. Without it you cannot have the solution, and it in itself has no meaning. Ishvara cannot be avoided as long as the world is seen with your eyes. The Ishvara concept is an automatic outcome of your belief in the reality of the world; and when the world exists, Ishvara has to exist as the cause thereof, but if the world does not exist, Ishvara need not exist because if the effect is not there, what is the use of the cause?

Visitor: I think Ishvara is useful as an object of worship. Does it then matter what object we concentrate on?

Swamiji: There is no hard and fast rule in worshipping anything, provided you regard that as the Absolute. You should not regard that as one among many. That is the mistake which prevents you from going to the Absolute. You can take any particular object as the symbol of the Supreme. There is no question of this object of concentration as mine. The other things do not exist at all for you. The moment other things' concepts exist for you, your own concept of God ceases to be the Absolute for you. A person who regards a deity as the Absolute cannot argue like this. But if I think my deity is Absolute i.e. Visnu, I will argue with Saivites. The moment you are aware of another person, you have become relative immediately and you cannot regard that object as the Absolute. You must become the Absolute, pervading the whole Cosmos. That sort of concentration you must develop—so, in that way any meditation is correct meditation.

You can take that fountain pen as the Absolute and go to the Supreme by meditating on that because even here the Absolute is present in some form. Through any river in the world you can reach the ocean! These objects are only vehicles to conduct consciousness to the Supreme Absolute. So one object is as good as any other object, if you regard it as the Supreme. There is no inferior or superior deity, all deities are of equal status.

Another Visitor: “There is Atman in me, and there is Atman in you, and there is (Atman) God outside.” What is the relationship of Atman and God?

Swamiji: What is in between?

Visitor: Atman only!

Swamiji: You have answered your own question. The words 'inside' and 'outside' are but two terms used because of our physical body, like the inside and outside of a room. There is no relationship as such because they are the same thing. The Atman and God are but two different words standing for the same thing. You have asked the highest question. Nothing else remains.

Another visitor: Truth is one, although the paths are very many. Often I come across people who dogmatise and say, “This is the truth.” I wish to argue it out with them. Am I wasting my time?

Swamiji: Why do you think so?

Visitor: Because they do not seem to change.

Swamiji: There are two aspects; one is the time factor. Everyone's grasp is not of the same quickness. Everyone cannot grasp what is said in the same period of time. Some grasp it immediately, while others take a much longer time to comprehend it.

Secondly, there is your own capacity to teach. How quickly the other person grasps what you say will depend upon how you teach that particular person or a group of people.

Visitor: Truth is one, and all spiritual friends believe this.

Swamiji: Teaching is a science in itself, and the psychological understanding of its method and the technique of teaching, only a real teacher knows. Thirdly, you cannot teach when you yourself are not hundred per cent sure that your faith is correct. Missionaries are convinced that all religions are means of approach to God but Christianity is the approach to God for man. How would you impart your view to them?

Visitor: I shall ask what is the object of Christianity?

Swamiji: Love of God.

Visitor: Other religions also believe in the same view.

Swamiji: There are certain tenets of Christianity which cannot reconcile with other tenets. That is the difficulty. And the Bhagavad Gita says never disturb the faith of anyone.

Visitor: I only want to open their eyes.

Swamiji: Opening their eyes does not mean disturbing their faith. If your heart is sincere, this itself is its own reward, and will speak. Christianity, however, asserts that there is none other than Jesus, who is the only incarnation of God the Father. The only teacher of the Gospel of God is Jesus. Judaism is the religion which he taught. As a matter of fact Jesus, who is the “WAY”, is only one of the several Avatars. To see wrong is itself wrong. And this is the great quarrel. It is the negative way to argue.

Visitor: I want to unify the religions of the different sects of Christianity. They quarrel among themselves as though they were speaking of different truths.

Swamiji: Religion is a unifying factor. Religions today have, besides love of God, other accretions. Many other activities are included in religion. So you have a difficulty in saying 'God is love' to the customer to whom you speak. You speak in a way different from the one in which you talk to God in the Church. You must see God in the customer. But it is difficult, and not quite practical. That is why religions fail, because of this difficulty in achieving the balance between the love of God and the love for man. Religious practice is a hard job.

Visitor: Am I taking too big a job in this task I have set for myself? Do I need training, etc.?

Swamiji: Why do you have that fear?

Visitor: Because I do not want to aim at the moon with a pea-shooter.

Swamiji: By understanding the technique of teaching better, namely, the technique of teaching, you can improve your efforts to teach. And by yourself getting closer to God you can succeed in the job. For, at the point where you get close to God, you do not have to speak; your existence itself will speak. If you are truly a religious man, your life will belong to the great God! For, living a life as great as God's is to live a Godly life. There is no other or greater service to mankind. To all the friends you wish to talk to, this is the magnificent service you can render. And God will speak through you. You will be told what to do and what to say. You become the instrument of God, and it must succeed. This is the greatest duty and the greatest service you can render. His Being will spread an aura around you. Christ was greater than His words. For, “words are partial emanations of His”, is a saying; and 'being' is the first thing and doing comes afterwards.

To do a magnificent work you must 'be' yourself magnificent first.