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Facets of Spirituality
by Swami Krishnananda
Compiled by S. Bhagyalakshmi


A visitor: How to see God as everything?

Swamiji: If you can be independent of the world, then you can see God in everything. The difference of opposites is the obstacle that prevents you from seeing God in everything, because the opposites do not exist in God; they cease to be opposites in God. God is positive in its entirety.

Visitor: What is the distinction between male and female?

Swamiji: It cannot be of the psyche. The psyche is not involved in the physiology of the body...

Visitor: What is meditation as part of yoga?

Swamiji: The yogic meditation is the summing up of all our activities. The purpose of all our activities is to be one with everything. But even in meditation space and time come in, and this is the tragedy which our activities try to overcome; our activities split up the purpose of unifying the activities in view as 'desires'. Hence, no desire is contradictory to any other.

Another Visitor: What is free will and what is God's grace?

Swamiji: When God's will passes through your personality it is your 'free will', and when the cosmic urge manifests itself through you, your personality takes 'effort', and that is the meaning of free will to act and effort one makes to act. Effort from the layman's point of view ordinarily appears to mean that activities are isolated. When you are writing, is it the nib of the pen writing? The eyes are unable to see what is behind the visible form; hence, the sense of isolation of activities. When the little finger moves, the child thinks that only the little finger is moving. But mature minds with knowledge of the working of human body know that the whole physiology of the human system is behind the movement of the little finger.

Visitor: Is prana the Ultimate Truth?

Swamiji: It is not, because a vibration, a motion, is transient, and this is not the characteristic of the unchanging Truth. But tentatively you can call it Truth inasmuch as it is the subtle essence of the cosmos. It is, relatively, Truth, but not actually Truth.

Visitor: What is its origin? And is it from prakriti?

Swamiji: The origin is the Atman, the Supreme Being itself. It is the breath of the Supreme Being. Prakriti is also prana itself. Prakriti is a potential condition of prana. Prakriti is a philosophical term in Sankhya, and ultimately means the same thing as what the Upanisadic language terms as prana. The two terms are two different ways of expressing the same thing.

Visitor: Are the gunas dependent on the power of prana?

Swamiji: The answer is the same as for the previous question. The three gunas are the three ways in which the universal prana operates. When it works by way of division, destruction and isolation of one thing from another, it is rajasic; when it works by way of stability of static forms of energy of things, it is tamasic, when it becomes subtle enough to become transparent and therefore capable of revealing the harmony of things, it is sattva, which is superior to the other two gunas and, hence, called sattva.

Visitor: Is prana identical with Existence?

Swamiji: Since prana is an expression of existence, how then can you say they are identical? Prana is an expression, a vibration, a, motion, a manifestation relatively of the Reality and, therefore, we should not call it existence as such because it is manifestation of the Eternal Being, and it is not the Eternal Being itself.

Visitor: If its existence is Existence itself, is it co-related with the will of God as the originator of the universe?

Swamiji: Yes. The will of God manifests itself as the cosmic prana in its grosser form. But the cosmic prana itself is on a higher level, called the will of God.

Visitor: Is prana “Mrityu”, or the Death Principle, in this universe itself to some extent?

Swamiji: It is the Principle of Death only in the individual, and not in the cosmos, because the cosmos does not die when the individual dies. There is death in the individual, but not in the universal. It can withdraw itself from the physical embodiment called the body. At the time of death the prana in the individual withdraws itself from the physical body, and gets absorbed in the mind, and it is this psychophysiological complex called the blend of prana, senses, the mind, the intellect etc., which is called the subtle body that reincarnates itself in a new existence. So prana is not `Mrityu' or death by itself, but it is what causes death by an extrication of itself from the physical body when the purpose of the physical body is completed.

Visitor: Is prana playing with prana which is present in all manifestations though prana, and is Shakti itself? What else can it be, other than the substance of everything? Can it be thought and matter also?

Swamiji: The answer is not different from what has already been said. Prana, thought, matter—they are interconnected and convertible. The subtler thought and the grosser form of thought are prana. The movement of thought is prana, and the thinking aspect of prana is thought; and matter, of course, is something grosser than prana. It is the visible individualisation of things that we call prana, but the energy that is behind matter is called prana. Higher than prana is thought which is the cosmic thinking principle of thought.

Visitor: What is prana in relation to the Consciousness of the Absolute?

Swamiji: Consciousness co-vibrating with and through space and time is called prana, whether it is vibrating universally or individually.

Visitor: Has prana a place to merge in the Absolute?

Swamiji: The prana, being the manifestation of the Absolute, naturally gets absorbed in the Absolute at the time of the dissolution of the universe and also at the time of the liberation of the individual.

Visitor: Would even the attempt at meditation to realise the identity with prana be bound to the Cosmic Consciousness, or is there a passage to the Absolute transcending the universe and its Shakti?

Swamiji: Everything is cosmic ultimately because everything is correlated interconnected. Whenever you breathe, naturally you get connected with cosmic prana. The intention of meditation is to connect one's prana with cosmic prana. Only then it becomes a passage to the Eternal. It is not only the prana that is trying to connect with the cosmic prana, but everything also that is also in us. For example, the mind, intellect, etc., are also being connected. The individual prana in us by means of pranayama, or harmonised breathing, should get connected with the cosmic prana, which neither inhales nor exhales. Similarly, you must connect your individual thought with the cosmic will, or the universal thought. So also we have to connect our individual understanding with the cosmic intellect, which is called Hiranyagarbha.

Visitor: Why did the substratum, or cosmic prana, vanish as the Lord of the mind, Indra, appeared? Are the cosmic mind and the cosmic prana inseparable?

Swamiji: They are not inseparable because the cosmic mind is the internal condition of the cosmic prana, and the cosmic prana is a grosser manifestation of the cosmic mind. The substratum, or the cosmic prana, vanished because Indra is the principle of the ego. While speech can express by means of fire, which is a principle of nature and of health and which is symbolised in Agni as its deity, and while we can act in consonance with the Universal Being by means of the expression of the prana, which is symbolised by the deity Vayu approaching Supreme Being, Indra cannot approach the Universal Being, for Indra is the ego. When the ego approached God, God vanished because God and ego are polar opposites. So it is that Indra could not see the Absolute. Even though thought, speech and prana could visualise the Absolute Being, they could not understand the nature of the Absolute. Similarly, even in our practice of harmonised activity like philanthropic works and social service, we are unable to understand the nature of Reality, though by such harmonised activity we are trying to diminish our ego. But Indra is the principle of the ego itself, in direct opposition to God, which is why when the ego approaches, the Absolute vanishes.

This is a lesson to us as well. We should not meditate with our ego. It is worse than merely studying the scriptures and giving discourses on the nature of God, etc., or doing social service which, to some extent, is good. But when the ego contemplates, God vanishes because He is inclusive of the ego principle also. The meditating principle is not the ego. It is the Universal Being itself. It is God meditating on God, ultimately. So if you consider yourself Mr. So-and-so and then start meditating on God, God does not come to you because He is inclusive of your being also.

The concept of the universal means the affirmation of the idea that other than the object of meditation, nothing exists. That is called universalisation. When you think of something, you should not think of something else at the same time; that is the essence of concentration. If you believe God is all, you should not think of non-God at the same time. That is another way of defining universalisation. If a thing exists—and only that exists and nothing else—and your objective in meditation is so complete in itself that other than it cannot be, that is called a universal concept. What you think is not important. But are you thinking something else at the same time? That is the whole point. Are we able to concentrate upon it exclusively? You should not think anything except that. That is called concentration. How can something be outside of that object of your concentration? First of all, you have to convince yourself that the object of your meditation is all-pervading and it is all-existence. It should be the only thing that exists. It should not be one of the things in the world. Then there would be no valid reason for the mind or the ego to think of other objects outside it.

Spiritual life is not easy. It requires a little of effort of thought. We have to think in a new way altogether. Now the time has come to think of only one thing, and not of anything else. The other things we consider to be outside are a part of what you have been thinking of. So the essence of concentration is exclusive absorption in the object of an Omnipresent Reality. That is the essence of meditation. Everything which up to now you have been regarding as a little finite being becomes an integral part of the Cosmic Being. It is an awakening into the true relationship of things to Reality. When you realise your integral connection with the Absolute, you will realise that in every sand particle, in every dust particle, everywhere is God Himself. That is meditation. You need not close your eyes and sit in the meditation hall. The moment you are aware of this, you are in a state of meditation. That is the way to be happy. Otherwise, you are happy inside the meditation hall and unhappy outside. You must be happy in the street, in the marketplace, in the bathroom, and not only in the temple, etc. That is what is described as your 'travelling in space' by yogic practice. You must travel in consciousness first. The whole point is, we require some guidance from a Guru until such time as we are able to live in this kind of living awareness.

An ashramite: What is time? There is a confusion in giving different meanings to it.

Swamiji: Time is consciousness of the succession of events. It is not the time factor of this world of ours. Time was the first creation. Jiva, with reference to creation, is both the animate and innanimate mass of creation as a whole. In the evolution of prakriti, the rocks and other inanimate objects, by rearrangement of their internal atomic, neutronic structure, evolved into trees, and the like, of the plant kingdom in the evolution of time.

Ashramite: It is again said that the jiva, maya and time (to which reference is made in the Bhagavad Purana) were lying meaninglessly around until the Supreme Being entered them simultaneously when creation began. How does time make maha-sattva, the ego and the five gross elements cohere? Is it by sequence? Can it be said that up to now the evolution was something like a chemical action and time a manufacturing factor giving meaning to the chemical actions?

Swamiji: It is a poor analogy but it is something like that, and of a much more complex and deeper nature.

Ashramite: Is time equal to, I mean, the same as consciousness?

Swamiji: Time is consciousness of the succession of events. This is different from the Time Spirit, which is Narayana himself. The hub and the spokes of a wheel is a constant figure of speech to explain this differentiation between time and the Time Spirit. It is a cliché of the sacred texts, even as is the analogy of a black rat and a white rat eating the thread which means time, that is, day and night, which are the hierarchy of time. If you see the stone in the statue of a dog, you don't see the dog. But if you see the dog, the stone does not exist. The snake and the rope is another such cliché.

Another visitor: What is Madhu Vidya that the Brihadaranyaka Upanishada expounds?

Swamiji: Three things are in three different places: the Absolute, the universe, and the jiva. The interconnectedness of these are explained in this chapter. The Lord's energy is divided when the equilibrium of the three gunas gets disturbed under the force of His energy, known by the name of Time. Externalised energy is matter and objective energy of the Lord, and time is subjective. Mimamsa speaks of Him as karma, the Charuvakas speak of Him as nature. Some speak of Him as kama.

Visitor: Why is the anandamaya kosa a sense of darkness? There is no awareness of anything in deep sleep which is because it is resting in the anandamaya kosa.

Swamiji: There is no such thing as kosa for the anandamaya. It is only a way of putting it, for there are no vrittis in the anandamaya kosa. Vrittis arise only with reference to objects that are externalised as objects outside. This is what happens even in dream; and since there are no objects in deep sleep, which rests in the anandamaya kosa, there are no vrittis. The absence of vrittis is not a state of a nescience that is darkness. The anandamaya kosa is so brilliant, like the light of a million-watt bulb, that it seems dark, like the sun's disc appears dark when you see it with naked eye. The mind cannot take this amount of brilliance that is in the anandamaya kosa. Hence, the jiva gets the sense of nothingness. Also, there is no such thing as 'entering' bliss. It is not pulled up or down as happens in the case of a satellite entering the orbit of the moon. The pull in the state of bliss, if you so wish to put it, is from all sides. You just become merged into it, one with this Existence-Knowledge-Bliss.