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Facets of Spirituality
by Swami Krishnananda
Compiled by S. Bhagyalakshmi


An ashramite: Yajnyavalkya says that all love is self-love. Which self? The Atman?

Swamiji: That is also a part of that. There are so many selves—political, sociological, social, psychological, rational, physical, vital and mental.

Ashramite: It is all myself only—the jiva's self?

Swamiji: They are not the jiva's. They are higher than the jivas; you cannot call the inner self a jiva—butit is self, nevertheless. They are all real selves. There are many layers of the self. And he refers to every layer of the self. A universal statement is what he is making. Even the utmost selfishness you have is the urge of that universal self. It passes through, pressed through the body, and so becomes selfish—selfish, because it is limited to the body. But the force comes from the universal only, ultimately. Other than the Self nothing exists in the universe. But there are degrees of the self.

Ashramite: But are you speaking of that highest self only?

Swamiji: All self. Any self. Anything

Ashramite: It is not love of the self, it is love for the self?

Swamiji: They mean the same thing. When the self is the only reality for you, then what can you love? You can say ‘of' or ‘for' or ‘by' or anything. You love anything because it is in consonance with the structure of yourself. So ultimately it means you are loving yourself only. It follows that if something is not in consonance with you, you don't love it.

Ashramite: But suddenly it falls into the pit of selfishness?

Swamiji: That is it. It is selfish. Your love is only selfish because ultimately you are loving yourself only. Even the highest love is selfish, until it is merged into the Absolute. Then the ‘self' goes. There is no question of selfishness—because love for an object outside it is selfishness. And since the Absolute is not an object, there the self ceases to exist. Every objective level is selfish, unless and until that thing is in consonance with the nature of yourself. If an objective is disharmonious, you cannot love it. So you are loving yourself only; it is yourself only that you are loving. It follows by logic that you cannot love anything except yourself. Otherwise you will love even an enemy, and there would be no such thing as enemy at all. Only that which threatens your very existence cannot be loved, because it is disharmonious with yourself.

Ashramite: And it is not easy to distinguish it and understand it, as different from selfish love.

Swamiji: It is difficult to understand it, because it is a deep psychological subject. We are like hypnotised persons. A person who is hypnotised cannot know that he is working under the pressure of some other will. The moment he knows that, he ceases to be hypnotised. But as long as he is under the spell of that influence, he thinks he is acting of his own will. When you hypnotise a patient and ask him, “Why are you walking this way?” he will give some reason. But the reason is only a concocted reason; he is pressurised from within by some urge of which he has no knowledge. Do you know that you are walking on earth because of the pull of gravitation? But you say, “Who is pulling me? I walk of my own will.” It is not due to your will. If the gravitational force were not there, you would fly in the air like this [imitates flying.] So it is not true that you have even the freedom to walk. Where is your freedom? You don't know even this little pressure somebody puts on you. They say that if the sun didn't exert its upward pull, you would be stuck to the ground so much that you could not even move! And if the earth did not pull you down, you would be flying in the air! So the two forces are pulling in such a proportionate way that you are walking smoothly on the earth. Nobody is aware that such is the fact. You think you are free and go walking, swinging your arms as though you were the master of it all. But it is these two other masters who are controlling you!

“There are more things in heaven and earth than your philosophy dreams of,” says Shakespeare. All our philosophy is a husk compared to these mysteries. And if we think of it, it will crack our heads. They say that there are rays called cosmic rays which will melt even the earth if it penetrates deep enough—and that the whole universe is made up of the condensed form of this ray. It is light rays themselves that have condensed into matter we call the universe, and it is also your body. You are part of the nuclear dust. All these are tremendous and frightening truths which will simply take us out of our wits. You cannot exist at all without the operation of these forces because they hold your personality like the threads constituting the cloth. You pull out the threads, the cloth also goes. So is this. All these forces constitute the universe, and if they are withdrawn, the whole universe will vanish into thin air and disappear.

Ashramite: Is this the final dissolution?

Swamiji: Yes. But they won't withdraw because of the assertion of your personal ego, your individuality. One day they will withdraw, and that is when liberation takes place. At that time, all the forces are withdrawn into their sources. They say that the power of seeing goes to the Sun, the power of hearing to the Dikh Devatas, the power of the ego to Rudra, the power of the chitta to Vishnu, the power of the body to the earth, and the power of water principle to water. Everything goes to its original source. And you cease to be anymore, and become the cosmos. That is called freedom, liberation. But that cannot take place as long as you are in the physical body. Since there is great pleasure in this body, we don't want to get out of it. And that dismantling of this body, dismantling the warp and woof of the body, will not take place in hundreds of births unless you will it and wish it here and now. It is like a house you have built, and the entire structure has to be thrown down, and the effect has to go to the cause. It is not so simple (laughs.) You cannot do a few asanas and reach God. Asanas are good, but they are not sufficient for the purpose on hand (laughs.) God is not satisfied easily like that (laughs.) I cannot satisfy you unless I understand what you are made of. Even so, unless you understand Him, you cannot please Him. If I know your psychology, only then you are in my pocket. So is the case with God. Unless you know what He is made of, you cannot approach Him and satisfy Him. You may offer Him a banana, a little sugar candy in the form of asanas, austerities, etc. You cannot please Him so easily like that. He does not want bananas, because He is not made of bananas (all laugh, and so does Swamiji). It is like a baby trying to satisfy you. It puts a toy on your head for your headache. You laugh and say let it go! (Laughs loudly.) After all, it is a child, and even if it has no meaning, it shows love.

Sometimes the sun is worshipped by waving the camphor light to it, as if the sun is going to be illuminated. But your feeling in the act is appreciated.

Ashramite: It is not to illuminate it, Swamiji. It is to pray that he burns up...

Swamiji: No, no. you are not thinking of all that. You are showing some affection or fear through that act—not that you think of illuminating the sun. Sometimes when a guest comes you offer him a cup of tea, though it does not mean that he wants it. You show your concern for him, and your gesture is appreciated. God also knows that it is out of your simplicity that you do so. That is why Lord Krishna says, even a leaf is enough. He does not mean ‘leaf', but your sentiment is understood. His meaning is “You have got love for Me, I understand it, and you are expressing it with a leaf. Not that I want a leaf. But in your mind there is love for me.”

Ashramite: Just as we offer laddus for Gurudev at Samadhi Mandir.

Swamiji: Yes! Yes!

A visitor: When we start loving spiritual life, the world distracts us. Why should it do so?

Swamiji: [joking] Are you saying that God has made a blunder in creating the world? That is what it amounts to. You are telling God, “I want you only, and why have you created the world?”

Vis.: Yes! Yes!

Swamiji: God will tell you, “My dear man, I have created nothing. I am a simple man, and unnecessarily you are blaming Me for the things I have not done.” (peals of laughter from the gathering and from Swamiji.) God has not created the world. You see, this chair I am sitting on is made of fine electromagnetic waves. But there is no such thing as a chair from the point of view of physics. Can you say that the electrons have manufactured this chair?

A visitor: Their perfect order is distributed into this form of chair.

Swamiji: They are in perfect order even as this chair. If you see the chair with a powerful microscope, you will not see a chair there. So it does not mean that the chair has been created. It doesn't exist. If it is really there, you must be able to see it even with the microscope. Your imputation that God has created the world is like that. He has not created the world even as the atoms have not created the chair. As I said, God is sitting always as He was. God has done nothing, but you unnecessarily say He has done this and that. So there is some defect in the perception of the man who says God has created the world. Do you understand?

Visitor: That is what He has done, given a defective perception?

Swamiji: There is no He. You are part of Him, and you are blaming somebody of whom you are yourself a part. Your doubts arise because you are not seeing things properly. Can you say, “When I think of God, my mind rises to God?” If it does, then you will be able to do your official work in the world, and not feel you are debarred from it. Your spiritual life will not be contradictory to your official life. Once you see that point better, you can work better. Now, because you are not seeing clearly, you are fumbling. You come in to conflict because you do not see things in their right context. When you see things clearly, no conflict arises and your efficiency increases. When you do meditation, you will do more work, instead of allowing meditation to prevent you from doing work. Will you say that Lord Krishna did not meditate or that He did less work than you?

Another ashramite: Why is the spiritual path so difficult? What makes it so?

Swamiji: The emotions and sentiments don't go hand in hand with logic and intellect of mankind. Your logic may impel you and force you in the direction of an aspirant. But the sentiments, which are human and sometimes subhuman, are against this logic of the intellect, and there is conflict in one's conception. All this is very well known to people such as Lamas and Jesus. Though very rare, there are a few souls that can understand this mystery. It is not easy to understand it. It is a mystery, and it is a mystery because it is not accessible to human understanding. It is not like two and two make four. We are in a realm where two and two do not make four. If something is said which is not acceptable to the human mathematical mind and the social way of thinking, nobody accepts it. We are immersed in the social decorum and social norm of thought, and we want to press even God into that norm, and if He is not amenable to that norm of our social way of thinking, we are not prepared to accept that God.

So we must be clear what it is that we are asking for. Be prepared to get to such extremes as sacrificing your ego and your social relationships and accepted social norms, as this may be demanded of you at some stage of your progress. You are unable to go there because the logic and arithmetic there are quite different; so we arrive at a conflict. We cannot displease the world. We cannot displease God either. We are trying to please God by pleasing the world also, at one and the same time. But it so happens that they are not in harmony with each other. Jesus said that God and Mammon cannot be pleased at the same time. Mammon is the extrovert mind which moves towards objects of the senses. It does not mean gold merely; it is only a symbol of the peculiar extrovert way of thinking, which directs itself towards sense objects and senses, including everything and anything that you see with your eyes or think of in the mind. Man is accustomed to think only in terms of objects which include society, which include everything that you regard as worthwhile and valuable in this life.

But the value that you are unconsciously or subconsciously seeing as the special ideal is something transcendent, which is a very significant word. It simply oversteps the limits of mathematics and human logic where your calculations do not hold good. Parallel lines may meet, the three angles of a triangle may not be equal to two right angles. All this is absurd from the human point of view. But that is the truth in some other realm. You may call it the multi-dimension or whatever it is, and that is what you are exactly asking for. You have got yet another prejudice which compels you to think in terms of the world of objects. You cannot forget it, because you are born into it. I am giving you an idea of how hard it is to find a person who can teach you, and even if you find such a person, how difficult it is to assimilate into your personality what is taught. It is impossible—almost impossible. After considering these difficulties in the way, if you are prepared and ready to go through the ordeal, I think there is no problem. But one cannot easily enter in and get into it. You have to crush your ego and demolish all your ordinary norms of thinking. It is almost like death itself. It is like dying to empirical life.

There are two kinds of prejudices; social and personal. We think in terms of society, and also in terms of personality. We cannot get out of this twin situation. What will happen to this body? And what will people say about me? You are frightened about these. These two difficulties have to be overcome with great caution. And the caution you have to exercise in this path is all the problem there is. That is the subtlety of the path. You should not go to any extreme. You have to seize the golden mean in such a manner, with such concentration and caution, that you don't get kicks from either side. Go slowly, causing displeasure neither to your body nor to the outside society, nor to God. You are to please everything by harmonising everything. The most difficult experience one has is that of being in harmony with everything. When you are in harmony with one thing, see that you are not in disharmony with another thing. So go very slowly and cautiously, and if even you take only one step, see that it is a firm step so that you do not regret it afterwards. It takes time, patience and force of will, coupled with understanding.

Aurobindo was a great man—you must have heard of him. Someone at his deathbed asked “Master, what is your message to the world”? He said, “It seems that the world is not ready for it.” Maybe it is true in some sense because the world is ready for what is pleasant, while it isn't ready for any unpleasant truth. It doesn't want it and says let us wait [laughs.] How can we forget that we are so-and-so, that we belong to this country or that country? How can we forget all these things? It is not easy to give up these ideas. But how wrong these ideas are! It is not ultimately true that you are a man, a woman, Western, Eastern, tall or short. These are all gross, empirical ways of thinking, and they are not ultimately true in the evaluation of things. Yet these are such hardboiled thoughts that we cannot easily get rid of them, especially when we try to get out of the personal and step into the realm of the impersonal. Then it is that you realise your status as a speck in the universal setup. You are not a man or a woman, not even a human being; you are a speck of dust, a drop in the ocean of Spirit, or in the ocean of the Universal, which cannot have gender and nationality. It cannot be designated in any way whatsoever. When such connection enters your very being, I think you will enter the path of the Spirit. Then alone the actual progress starts. Till that time you are only struggling against the current, trying to swim against it.