The Path to Freedom: Mastering the Art of Total Perception
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 4: The Awakening of Spiritual Consciousness

Only at the human level does the understanding become fit for the reception of spiritual knowledge, not before. Spiritual consciousness, even at the human level, does not suddenly drop from the blue, and the difficulties of a spiritual life are many. Perhaps nothing can be more difficult than to be aware that there is a spiritual ideal in life, and it is not possible to be conscious of this opportunity of its own accord. While we have risen spontaneously, as it were, from the lower levels to the human state, the ascent higher than this has a difficulty felt only at the human level, and not before. Due to clogging of the consciousness in animal instincts, and to being enmeshed in a very translucent form of consciousness, animals and plants cannot be conscious of a spiritual life because the consciousness of a spiritual ideal is something quite different in quality from the consciousness of an object.

While we are all conscious, we cannot be conscious of the Spirit, or of spiritual values. Therefore, there is a sharp distinction between ordinary consciousness and spiritual consciousness. To be aware of something is not spirituality, because everyone is aware of something. There is a very subtle distinction, and it is this subtlety between the two types of awareness that makes it almost impossible for people to be spiritually conscious.

We may be well off in many respects, but we cannot be spiritual for the very simple reason that the distinction between ordinary awareness and spiritual awareness is not an object of our knowledge. At the human level particularly, the mind gets distracted in many directions and runs hither and thither, like a mass of water restrained by a bund bursting forth and running everywhere because of its force, without having any particular direction to its movement. This happens only with the human mind because of its advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of the human mind, as I pointed out last time, is that it feels for the Truth more than the lower levels. The call of the Infinite is felt more pulsating and more acutely in the human level. The call is very acute, stringent, impossible of turning a deaf ear to; yet, the eyes are blindfolded so that we cannot see what it is. It is like a child that is being called by the mother, yet it cannot see her.

There is a summons which we inaudibly hear from within us and from without us, and it is this summons that keeps us active, moving and asking for more and more of things in life. We ask for more and more because the limit of our asking hasn’t been reached.

In the previous session I said we have a hope which keeps us alive, and this hope is another name for this ‘more’ that we ask for, which is infinite. But what we are asking for is not clear to our vision; we feel a necessity and ask, but the nature of this necessity is not clear. We are in a very difficult position. We know that there is something that is pinching us and making us restless, not allowing us to rest in peace; something tells us that we have to march forward, to achieve something higher, and yet we do not know what it is. It is like a person falling ill and not knowing what the disease is. We are restless, agonised, and cannot be at rest. The human mind is in this position where it feels the push and pull of a higher value, and yet cannot be consciously aware as to the direction in which it has to move.

There is a mixture of two types of instinct and understanding in the human level. On one side there is an urge, a push and a pull; and on the other side, it is impossible to know what it is. This is why it is often said that man is a crossing of God and brute. We have the godly element in us, as well as the brute element. It is the godly element that keeps us hoping, keeps us moving, active and asking for more and more of freedom and happiness; but it is the other aspect in us that keeps us in the dark, not allowing us to open our eyes and see the daylight. We have two elements combined in us, the divine and the demonical, as the scriptures tell us—the positive and the negative, the upward pull and the downward pull—the sattvic manas, the rajo-guna, and the tamasic manas—the daivi sampat and the asuri sampat. The Pandavas and the Kauravas, we can say, are both in our body. There is a tussle perpetually going on in our subtle being between these two forces which speak in different languages and tell us these two distinct things.

Dῡram ete viparīte (Katha Up. 1.2.4). The destinations to which these two direct us are poles apart, as it were. If one directs us to the north, the other directs us to the south. They do not even run parallel. They are opposed to each other, pulling upward and downward. Now, this characterisation of our situation is a mixture of the upward and the downward, something like our feeling that we are down below on the Earth. If we think about this, we will realise that we are as much in space as any star or planet is. We are not down below. There is no such thing as ‘down below’ in space. There is no up and down in space. It is only tentatively from the point of view of our Earth-plane consciousness that we say that we are below and the stars are above, though it is not really true. We are as much above as the stars are. We have to place ourselves in a proper perspective in order to understand the situation. The ideas of above and below are tentative, relational to the position in which we are.

Likewise are the psychological upward and downward. What is this upward and downward pull? What is ascent and descent? Is it really a movement upward in space, or has it any other significance? If it were really an ascent in the physical sense, then spiritual progress would be a movement physically upward in space. We would have to go higher and higher, perhaps in a jet plane. Is this the ascent in the spiritual sense? And what is descent? Is it to go down into the bowels of the Earth? What are the nether regions and the celestial regions? Neither the up nor the down consciousness can be interpreted in this manner.

To be ascending in evolution is not to be rising into space, into the higher realms of the astronomical worlds, nor is descent a kind of entry down into the earth of the physical part of creation. Evolution is not in space and time, because space and time are part of the evolutionary process. We are not moving as a leaf moves in the wind or a train moves on its track. It is not this kind of movement that is meant by evolution. It is a new type of transformation that takes place, a novel situation of consciousness—a crisis of consciousness we may call it—which is every step in the process of evolution.

At the human level, the mind finds itself in a situation where it has to face a peculiar set of problems, on account of which it is difficult to lead a spiritual life. The problems are the ways of our own thinking. We have been taught from our very childhood to think in particular forms. We are taught in kindergarten and primary school, “This is a cat, this is a dog, this is a hat,” and so on. This kind of thinking is implanted in our minds. A kind of object lesson is provided to the mind from the very inception of human evolution, and we think in terms of objects. We are given ‘object lessons’ in the literal sense of the term. The human mind particularly has the capacity to get entangled and to think in terms of qualities and relations. Every thought that is generated in our mind is in terms of certain qualities of things and their relation to other things.

Close your eyes for a few minutes and just imagine what you think daily, from morning to evening. All your thoughts are in terms of certain qualities, characteristics of objects and their relations to other things, persons or objects. It is impossible for us to think, except in these terms of relations. Thought is in terms of relations alone. This is why sometimes we are told that this is a world of relativity. Everything seems to be related to something else, at least in our thoughts, and we are thus bound up psychologically with the objects of the world. It is this psychological bondage which keeps us earthly conscious and not spiritually conscious, because to be spiritual would be to be aware in terms of the Spirit, not in terms of the qualities and relations.

Last time I mentioned that the Spirit is such that its thought is intuitive in nature and not sensory, intellectual, or even rational. Intuitive vision is the name given to the way in which the Spirit knows itself and its environment. It is quite different from the way in which the mind thinks in terms of senses and objects. It is difficult to be spiritually aware, spiritually conscious or to lead a spiritual life because it is not possible for us to abide by the laws of the Spirit.

We are embodied beings. We live in bodies, and our contacts are with other bodies in the world, so we have a bodily life—a related life, an Earthly life, and life which is tethered to the consciousness of space and time. Not for a moment can we be spiritually conscious because we cannot be free from the clutches of these relations. The mind is a part of creation in this sense that it is related to every other object in creation.

Space and time, qualities and relations, are the limiting categories of human understanding; and whether one is a child, an adult or matured person, he will realise that everyone equally thinks in these terms alone. Rare, therefore, is that person who can be spiritually awakened. To be spiritually awakened is not to be moving in space, up or down, but to bring about a transfiguration within oneself, an evolution consciously brought about within us, a florescence of consciousness itself, something like waking from a state of deep sleep. When we wake up from sleep, we do not move into space, and yet we know the joy felt when waking up from a bad dream. We have not moved in space, not even moved in time; yet, what a vast difference it has made in our life. We have awakened into our own consciousness.

When a person who has had no eyesight can see, when a person who has been dreaming bad dreams wakes up, when a person who has been suffering from a bad disease gains health, he feels a change which cannot be explained in words. We must be very ill and regain health to see what a joy we feel. Only those who have been suffering with the flu would know what it is; when we regain health, it is as though we have been reborn into heaven, though we have no physical possessions at that time.

To come to one’s true nature is the symptom of spirituality, and this activity of the mind, this attempt of the human understanding to come to its own Self is prevented by its entanglements in terms of space, time, qualities and relations. The mind is the cause of our bondage in this sense. Our condition is more pitiable than other beings because of our not being able to know what our actual difficulty is. What is our problem?

There is another mysterious trouble into which we descend in human life when we mistake an erroneous consciousness for the requisite knowledge of truth. For example, we all make the mistake of thinking that we are conscious of truth. The world is truth, the objects in the world are truth, the activities in which we are engaged are real, and we make reference to this reality whenever we want to judge the objects of the world by the standard of truth. We are in a world of reality when we wake up from dream. What is this world of reality? It is the world of these objects, these persons, these things, these temptations, these positive and negative attributes. We have not only been caught up by the inextricable activities of the external qualities and relations, but at the same time we make the mistake that this entangled consciousness is consciousness of reality. Hence, blessed indeed should be that person who can wake up higher still from this state of entangled consciousness.

Ordinarily, no one can be aware that there can be a consciousness above, beyond or transcending Earth consciousness. The trouble is that when we are in a state of mind, that particular state of mind appears to be true, real. We cannot compare one state of mind with another when the higher one has not yet been reached. In the state of waking, for example, we may compare our waking life with dream life and say that dream life is unreal; but we cannot compare waking life with another higher reality because we have not yet reached that state.

This waking life is the standard of comparison for us. Everything is compared to this waking life and the waking values. This cannot be compared to something else. This is final. This is one of our difficulties, that there is no comparative value in waking life. It is an absolute value for us and so we take it for granted that it is the thing that we have been asking for. The freedom that we have been asking for has been achieved, and we are in a state of true happiness. So we search for happiness in this world of variety. We seek freedom in this world of qualities and relations, while we have been caught up by the very same qualities and relations. By the term ‘we’ I mean ‘the centre of thinking’. It is the mind that has been caught.

It is the attitude of consciousness, the way of thought that determines our state of evolution. The mind, which is a form of consciousness working in space and time, so much identifies itself with the qualities and relations that we cannot for a moment remain as witnesses of the world situation. We are involved in the world situation and we are the world, and many a time it appears that what happens to the world happens to us. Our joys and sorrows are connected to world situations. We are living an external life, an objective life, a life of sensory perception. We live in terms of qualities and relations, not in terms of our own Self. Thus, from this point of view at least, no human being can be said to be spiritually conscious; everyone is bound. It is not possible to be spiritually conscious as long as the mind has not come back to its own source and as long as it has not realised that it is tangled in the relations of objects. The mind cannot achieve freedom so long as it mistakes objects for truths, so long as it mistakes objective perceptions for true knowledge, because the very idea or notion of freedom is itself fundamentally erroneous.

To be free does not mean to possess the things of the world or to have the license to do whatever one thinks or likes. Freedom is independence, non-dependence. Where we are dependent, we are not free, and we are said to be free only when we are absolutely independent. We have curious notions of independence today. We think that we are free merely because we have enough to eat and drink, enough clothes to put on, a bungalow, and so on. These are supposed to constitute our freedom. How can we call this freedom, when we are dependent on them? This is not freedom or independence; one thing is hanging on something else.

The great Narada approached Sanatkumara and asked, “What is Freedom?”

Sanatkumara said, “Infinite is Freedom.”

“But what is this Infinite?” asked Narada.

“The Infinite is that where you see nothing else outside, hear nothing else outside and understand nothing else outside,” Sanatkumara said.

“But on what is it based? Where does it stand? What is its support? What is it, outside which there is nothing, of which you speak?” questioned Narada.

“How do you expect this to be supported by something else? Here in this world,” said Sanatkumara, “one thing is supported by another, one thing hangs on to another, one thing is dependent on another. One’s freedom is restricted by the freedom of the other. Not so is the Infinite. Its basis is Itself.”

Man cannot be really free, because of the very existence of other human beings. My freedom is restricted by your freedom. The very existence of another is a limitation on my freedom, so there cannot be absolute freedom on the part of any human being. It is futile to cry for freedom when freedom is not possible. The very situation of the human mind is such that it cannot have freedom. The constitution of the human mind is such that freedom is unknown in the human level because human thinking is a peculiar entanglement of consciousness in relations.

The mind is another name for a kind of conscious relationship with objects. We are living in a relative world, not only physically but also psychologically. Even psychologically, intellectually, rationally we are living in a relative world—relative in the sense that the mind is hanging on something else, some other object. The mind cannot think without an object. This is the reason why intellectual knowledge has been regarded as lower knowledge, and spiritual knowledge is always regarded as something different from intellectual or ordinary knowledge.

The knowledge that we obtain from the world is regarded as inferior because it is relational knowledge, depending on external objects for its information. It is knowledge of things outside—a relativistic knowledge, a comparative knowledge. We compare one object with another and try to have some kind of knowledge about it. We know ‘A’ in terms of ‘B’ and ‘B’ in terms of ‘A’; we have full knowledge of neither ‘A’ nor ‘B’, so relative knowledge is false knowledge in one sense. When we hang ‘A’ on ‘B’, and ‘B’ on ‘A’, we do not have a perfect knowledge of either one. If we require the assistance of one for acquiring knowledge of another, what else can be our knowledge but relative knowledge? It is workable knowledge in a pragmatic world, but it is not an absolute knowledge in a real world.

This is the reason why we cannot be free in this world. This is the reason why, also, we cannot be really happy in this world. All this is because we are not spiritually awakened. To clinch the whole matter, no unspiritual mind can be happy; no unspiritual mind can be free, and all the questions of the human mind are answered by a single principle, the principle of the unitariness and the infinitude of the Spirit. Even today, with all our learning and the information that we have gathered, people have a very poor knowledge of what spirituality is. Even today, at this very moment, it can be very boldly said that people’s knowledge of spiritual living is very meagre, poor and apologetic, all because we try to import our relative knowledge even to the spiritual realm, and try to understand God and the Absolute in terms of the education that we have gathered in our schools.

I said that all our knowledge is relative in the sense that our mind is related to objects. Every object is related to everything else: qualities and relations hang heavily on the mind. Now, this way of thinking is utilised even in understanding the nature of the Spirit, so we question about God, creation, etc. There are certain so-called learned people who raise very big questions about God, creation, etc., and these questions arise merely because logical values which pertain to the world are misapplied to the realm of the Spirit. The way of thinking that obtains in the world cannot be applied to the life of the Spirit. The questions which appear to be intelligible and meaningful in ordinary life look absurd when they are applied to the Spirit because the spiritual attitude to life is something quite different—one hundred percent different—from the normal attitude of the mind towards objects and things. So our appetites, our likes and dislikes and our intellectual prejudices, whether scientific or logical, should never be allowed to interfere with that higher aspiration that rarely blossoms in our heart, the aspiration for spiritual awakening.

Scriptures have hammered into our minds the necessity of seeking a Master of the Spirit, an adept of yoga, because this knowledge cannot be acquired by ordinary means. In the Mundakopanishad it is said, “All that we know and all that we can know is lower knowledge.” It is not knowledge of the Truth. It may be knowledge of the Vedas and the Upanishads, and all the sciences that we can conceive of, but all this is lower knowledge.

Narada, the great Maharishi, knew everything. There was no science in which he was not proficient. There was no art in which he was not an expert, but he had no peace of mind. Knowledge did not help him because the knowledge of the Spirit, which alone can bring peace, is different from the knowledge that can make us comfortable in life. So what is that knowledge that man seeks? What is this freedom that we are crying for every day? Where is it found? Is it possible to find it at all?

Sometimes we live in despair, in a state of melancholy and moodiness, for everything looks dark and gloomy because of the insistent urge within us. But, at the same time, our ignorance is preposterous. This should awaken us again to the need for following the proper path of action for leading a spiritual life. The life spiritual is not one of the ways of living; it is the only proper way of living we can choose in life because it is the presupposition, the precondition of the very existence of the human being himself. It is more real than our activity of breathing, more necessary than the immediate calls of our life, even the creature comforts, because without it life becomes meaningless. The life spiritual is the way in which consciousness interprets life in terms of Reality, and without some sort of a hint at least at what Reality is, we cannot be spiritually conscious. We cannot even become spiritual seekers, aspirants or sadhakas.

Therefore, the first thing we as spiritual seekers would have to do is to shed all prejudices. When we approach a spiritual master, we should not go with prejudices of our earlier learning, imagining that we already know something. We might know something, but it might be a blunder which could put us on the wrong track and not help us at all. To approach a Spiritual Master, first of all one has to place oneself in the position of a seeker of Reality, and have viveka and an amount of vairagya—the nature of which has been discussed earlier—and have a clean heart, and an empty mind. “Empty thyself and I shall fill thee,” said Christ. We must empty ourselves of the old ways of thinking, because what binds us is only the way of our thinking. We have no iron chains that bind us. We think in certain ways, mistaking that thinking for the right way of thinking, and this binds us. We are unhappy because the mind is unable to reflect Truth in itself. The mind is harassed by certain obsessions, and it is these obsessions that become the objects of the mind’s thinking every day. Because of this harassment from the objects of the world, the mind’s powers get dissipated; like troubled waters which cannot reflect the rays of the sun, a troubled mind cannot reflect the light of Truth.

The mind that is dissipated or distracted is like a light that has been split into many parts, as if through a prism. The mind’s way of thinking, generally, is of the nature of a split personality: becoming conscious of oneself in many ways. When we are objectively conscious, our mind gets distracted; it has to flow in different channels at the same time, and then it is that we feel weak. In order that we can be in a position to attend to many things at the same time, we concentrate our mind on many objects. This is very difficult, and our resources are not enough to meet these demands. When the pull from the objects of the world is manifold and when the mind has to run in terms of these variegated pulls from objects, it has to draw sustenance from its own source, and our energies get split over the objects of sense. Thus a sensuous person is also a weak person—morally weak and also physically weak. He cannot have a good sleep, good digestion, or even a good power of expression because his energies have been depleted through sense perception and sense enjoyment.

So, first of all, the spiritual seeker is asked to control his senses in order that he may become fit to enshrine and entertain a mind that can reflect Truth. A sensual mind cannot be a spiritual mind. The mind that is wedded to the objects of sense cannot be in a position to receive the knowledge of Truth. The control of the senses is the first prerequisite of spiritual life, and must be performed.

Sense contact is an erroneous movement of the mind towards objects, which allows the mind to run away from its centre, which means away from Truth. To think of an object is to think of untruth because while the essence of the object is, as I mentioned last time, the fundamental essence of Reality, the shape and form (nama-rupa) that it has taken is the untrue aspect. We are running after the name and form of the object, not the essence. We like or dislike the name and form, and are committing a tremendous mistake in either asking for a thing or running away from it. Hence, essentially, to be sensorily conscious of any object positively in the form of love or negatively in the form of hatred would be to tread the path of untruth.

Therefore, the spiritual seeker is asked to control the senses, to withdraw the mental consciousness from its operation on objects. To control the senses is not to close the eyes or plug the ears. It is to withdraw the awareness from the awareness of things. What do we think in our mind? That will tell us what we are. Our dress, our position, our speech cannot tell what we are, but what we think in our mind from day to day, from morning to night, determines our evolution. Whether we are spiritual or unspiritual can only be known by the way in which we think, not from the way we look. The outside appearance is no criterion here. Our feelings, our reactions, our attitudes, our longings, our aspirations, will tell us where we stand in evolution.

To control the senses would be not as many people imagine it to be, to physically manipulate the organs of sense, to starve the physical organs. Not so. Rather, it is the abstraction, as yoga psychology calls it—pratyahara, the withdrawal of the mental consciousness of objects. There are two ways of this withdrawal. Firstly it is an emotional withdrawal; and finally, withdrawal in a higher sense—we may call it philosophically. In the beginning we should have an emotional withdrawal, and then later a philosophical withdrawal.

In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, these two types of entanglements, the emotional and the philosophical, are called the klista and the aklista kleshas. We shall try to know what these are at a later date but, for the time being, it is enough to know that the control of the senses involves a double withdrawal of the mental consciousness—emotionally in the beginning, and later on in a deeper spiritual sense. To be emotionally withdrawn from an object would be not to crave an object or hate an object. We may have tremendous attachment for a particular person or an object; emotionally we get disturbed by such things, and our heart begins to move by the very perception of certain persons or things. That would be emotional relationships. Our feeling would be in a state of turmoil when certain things are seen, whether we like or dislike them. We may be in an emotional turmoil due to either affection or hatred.

To subdue the emotions, to free the mind from such emotional relationships in terms of objects would be the first stage of sense control. When we see an object, we should not be agitated, for or against. That would be the initial vairagya; but that is not enough. The practices in spiritual life require a higher kind of withdrawal where alone pure meditation is possible. Philosophical withdrawal is where we are not to withdraw the mind merely in terms of love and hatred, but also in terms of objectivity of perception.

We make two mistakes when we look at things, say our scriptures. The first or primary mistake is to be conscious of the thing itself, and the second mistake is to love or hate it. To be conscious of an object and the externality of things is itself a mistake in the philosophical sense or higher sense. But in the lower sense, to love or hate is a mistake: we may be conscious of it, but not love or hate it.

When there is God-vision, for example, there is celestial vision. When there is Isvara-bhava, Narayana-bhava, Atma-bhava, what we see would be regarded as a transformation of the spiritual Reality rather than an object to be considered independently of its own accord. All this is the simple background of spiritual life, which is built on the superstructure of spiritual practice. The practice that we are called upon to do in spiritual life is of various kinds, and the practice varies from person to person. If you ask me what is spiritual sadhana, the answer would be in terms of your temperament, your state of mind and the circumstances in which you are placed.

Generally, broadly speaking, all sadhana is of a similar nature, but the specific details differ from one condition to another. There are samanya dharmas and vishesha dharmas, general characteristics and specific characteristics in spiritual practice. We have to follow both of these. While the specific characteristics may vary, the general characteristics may not. What are the general characteristics which everyone may have to follow, though the specific relationships here may vary?

The general teaching of spiritual life, for all humanity, for everyone, is that the many has to be seen in terms of the One. Our interpretation of the manifoldness of life should be in the language of Universality. It is on the basis of this concept that people strive for human brotherhood, world peace, international solidarity and understanding, and so on. These are all outer expressions of the inner acceptance of the unitariness or the singleness of life, whose expressions are the varieties of activities. Spiritual sadhana as an evolutionary process is a very gradual movement from the lower to the higher levels. It is a movement, not only from the outer to the inner, but also from the lower to the higher. From the physical, the earthly, the bodily, the sensory life, the mind slowly rises into the psychological and rational fields of understanding, and then it is that it becomes spiritual in its perspective and vision. Externally, there is a gradual withdrawal from the love of physical objects, attachment to things, to the values that are hidden in things.

There is a difference between an object and a value hidden in an object. Crude minds, like that of children for example, cannot make a distinction between the value and the object that has the value. A rupee, a gold coin, a bar of gold is an object. A crude mind, an untutored mind, a materialistic mind will see gold itself as the meaning in life. The gold or the money is not the meaning. There is a value hidden in it, and it is the value that we are asking for. Our attachment to that object is due to our acceptance of the value present in it.

So from the particular, we go to the more general in our evaluation of things. Instead of loving a beautiful object, we start loving beauty itself. That is a higher state of mind. In Plato’s dialogue, we read the way the great philosopher has made a study of the rise of the mind from the gross to the subtle, especially in artistic beauty. Running after the beautiful things, instead of beauty, is the first stage of the mind, says Plato. That is a very crude state of mind where we want the object also, together with the beauty. Our affection is not for the object, but for the beauty, so we have to make a distinction between the object and the beauty when chasing a beautiful object. That is the first stage of discrimination, the first stage of understanding of the difference between the object and its content.

When we are able to realise that beauty is different from the beautiful object—it is not the object that we want, but only the beauty—we go higher up, from particular beauty to general beauty. It is not this form of beauty or that form of beauty that we want, but beauty as such. As we say, it is not a rupee, a dollar or a pound that we want, it is money that we want. From the actual currency note or gold coin, we rise to the consciousness of economic value, which is what we are asking for. We do not want gold or a currency note; we want its value. If it has no value, we will not want it and will throw it away. So it is the value of the rupee or the dollar that the mind is asking for.

But then we go higher still into general economic value of life as a whole. This analysis can be applied to any kind of life: artistic life, economic life, political life, family life, psychological life or spiritual life. The point that we have to understand is that we have to rise from the particular to the general, from the more concrete to the subtler, from the external to the internal. This is the way in which the mind has to be taught the lesson of abstraction, pratyahara, or detachment. The philosophical mind is more detached from the ordinary crude mind. Sometimes we say when there is suffering, “Take it philosophically.” Or, “Oh, that person took it philosophically, though his child died,” by which we mean that he took the particular instance in terms of a general occurrence. That would be to take a thing philosophically. To take a thing as it is particularly, localised, restricted from its own point of view would be to think like the ordinary man in the street, which is not thinking philosophically.

To think philosophically is to generalise concepts, to broaden views, or to put it succinctly, to introduce the universal value into the particular element. The highest universal is God. There are many stages of the manifestations of the Universal, which we call the degrees of Reality. And when we interpret the lower in terms of the higher, we are said to be philosophical and spiritual, and moral. To be moral is to be able to interpret the lower value in terms of the higher value. That would be ethics or morality, and philosophy, and also the principles of spiritual living.

As I said, the highest of determining principles, the highest of universals, is God Himself. So when the element of God is brought into life, and that is made to be the standard of reference and judgement, and we begin to interpret everything in terms of that principle—when God becomes the judge of all things, when we begin to see things as though through the eyes of God, as it were—then it is that we are spiritually awakened.

Now, this does not necessarily mean being God-conscious. To interpret particulars in terms of universals, even in terms of the universal God, Ishvara Himself, would be to learn a way of thinking. It is quite different from the state of God-realisation; that is a higher state, still. Now, I am trying to tell you how to train the mind first. The realisation is a different thing. It will come, by God’s grace; of course, when it will come, we do not know. It has to come, but the mind has to be trained to think along these lines first. Before reaching the destination, we must know the direction in which we have to walk towards it. We gird up our loins and move towards it.

This is a spiritual or philosophical viewpoint of life, and is definitely capable of bringing about a tremendous transformation even in ordinary life, business life and workaday life. It is bound to bring about a transformation to such an extent that even the work done with the sweat of our brow will become an article of worship. This is exactly what is meant by Karma Yoga. The drudgery in which we seem to be entangled will be seen to be mysteriously transformed into an article of affection—a thing which we love, a thing which we convert to an object of beauty and endearment. This is what spiritual awakening can do. It is like a philosopher’s stone, by whose touch base metal gets converted into higher metal. The base metal of ordinary, bound life gets transformed into the life of consciousness, of freedom, into the awareness of a higher value in life, and finally a confidence that God does exist.

The confidence that God exists will itself be sufficient to give us inner strength. The strength does not come from material possessions, but from the confidence we have in our mind. All confident people are also strong people, whereas diffident people are not. The confidence that we receive with this affirmation of God’s presence is so potent that nothing can stand before it. All the woes, all the sorrows, all the grievances of life will evaporate before this confidence that God does exist, and knowing that He does exist, all shall be well.