Sri Swami Sivananda and His Mission
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 2: Being in Tune with World Thought

“The world is in a state of yoga,” says the Upanishad. This single statement may be regarded as the essence of all higher teachings. Yoga is the composure of oneself; and, a settling of oneself in oneself is what is attempted by the world as a whole. This perpetual activity on the part of all creation—namely, to maintain itself in a state of a healthy balance of its parts—is the yoga of God’s creation. We are told in the Veda as well as in the Upanishads that prior to the act of creation, God performed tapas and concentrated Himself in a fashion which, in its vast inclusive ambit, was clear about every detail of what was to be projected. The thought itself was the action, and the action was the same as the being of God. The world in which we are living is a part of this creation, though it is not a part in the sense of something that can be isolated from the whole to which it belongs. It is only a conceptually separable entity but is essentially, integrally, related to creation.

Thus there is a point in the Upanishad telling us that the world is practising yoga. The sky meditates, as it were, and so does the earth. To conceive in our minds a state where the world can be contemplating creation, is a state of yoga. In order to be able to appreciate at one stroke the possibility of such a self-settledness on the part of the whole world, we might have to shed our human personality for a few seconds. If it is true, and it is certainly true, that the world is in a state of self-settled composure and inclusive compactness of its spirit, and if at the same time it is also true that we human beings are not capable of separation from the stuff of the world, then every one of us is in a state totally opposed to yoga—because we do not think with the world. We may think of the world, but not think with the world. Here is the crux of the matter, which has an import which is spiritual and temporal at the same time. We can think that there is a world, but that is different from aligning our thought with the composure that the world is said to be maintaining in itself.

To participate in the world is different from looking at the world and harnessing it for purposes that are human or individual. We cannot harness to any particularised purpose a thing with which we are moving and without which we cannot be said to have even an existence worth the name. We have, first of all, to convince ourselves that we are outside the world in order that we may exploit the world, use it for our purposes and deal with it, a term which implies a wealth of undesirable meaning. To deal with a thing is to totally cut oneself off from all vital relationship with that with which one is dealing. Else, if that with which we try to deal is not so entirely vitally cut off from ourselves, our dealings with it would be equivalent to dealing with our own selves. We do not appreciate and understand the magnitude of the consequence that is involved in the errors of our thinking. This is the scientific base, the philosophical foundation, the core of the matter behind the difficulties of life, problems galore, and any blessed thing that we can think of in our minds.

The philosophy behind what I referred to yesterday as a materialistic outlook is this catastrophic thought, as it can be called, which persists in non-aligning itself with the way of the world and vainly attempts to align the process of the world with a temporarily significant process of one individual or even a group of individuals. Such an attempt is considered to be the task of life and the principal occupation—that is, putting the world to use and seeing that it moves parallel with the intentions of human behaviour and conduct. We have to subtly go into the depths of the difficulties of people in the world. Glib talking and a veneer of an outward interpretation of our difficulties will not do. There is a basic cause which refuses to come to the surface of analysis and persists in maintaining its isolation as a background of human thinking. Even our psychic endeavours and logical approaches are not adequate instruments to discover the basic difficulties of humanity, because these causes of our materialistic outlook are at the very back of even our psychic approach and are the conditions that are necessary for us to think in a particular manner—to think in a human fashion, so to say.

These conditions are prior—a priori, as it is called in philosophy—precedent to the action of every kind of human thinking, including rationality, scientific observation and philosophic probe. Man is conditioned in this sense. We know the meaning of the word ‘condition’. It has many meanings, psychological as well as social; but it has a deeper meaning than we are able to know. Psychologists may tell us that we are psychologically conditioned. Social conditioning is something well known. But there is a further conditioning which is the cause of all these exterior limitations of our psychophysical personality that determines our every endeavour, so that even the attempt to overcome our limitations seems to be varnished with a thick coat of the condition of this limitation—and so goes all learning of humanity. Once a long rope is given to this kind of thinking—when an instinct or impulsion or a natural proclivity is given unlimited freedom of action—it becomes the law of the day and the natural rule of ensuing thought and activity.

Aeons have passed since this circumstance of human creation seems to have taken place, and many an explanation is offered to describe the way in which this human outlook originated at a time which was perhaps prior to the coming of time itself—and we can imagine what length of time has passed. We have been educated in this fashion of thinking, to which I referred to as being an unyogic way of thinking. This kind of thinking of man—of every one of us, of humanity as a whole—considers the world as an associate who has to be put to use and to be utilised for the sustenance of the human individuality, to make it secure for as long as possible within the duration of time on this Earth, and in every blessed manner. But, this is not to be. If this is not to be, man cannot be happy in this world when he persists in this inveterate way of thinking which he considers as his own thinking, and not the thinking of the world.

The masters, the supermen about whom we had occasion to consider certain aspects, are different from ordinary human beings in the sense that the super-humanity in them is the characteristic of the operation of their minds, which are set in tune with the thought of the world. To think as a yogi would think would be to think as the world would think. Hard is this statement, difficult is the import of this suggestion, because we cannot understand what the world is thinking and how we are expected to think if we are to be in tune with the thought of the world. We shall have occasion to consider what all this means subsequently.

Since a thought which is contrary to the way of the world is unhealthy and is a sickness of the world as a whole, it has to be remedied. The remedying feature when sicknesses of this kind erupt in the context of world history is that health forces begin to act. These forces of health and regeneration of the world—these forces that are unleashed for the purpose of remedying the illnesses of life—are the saviours of humanity. We may call them incarnations, great leaders of mankind, sages or saints. The world is perhaps incapable of thinking in terms of persons. It is doubtful if it is aware that we are existing as people. This is a matter which requires some consideration. The body, for instance, may not be aware that it has fingers; it may be aware that it is. Something like that may be the way in which the world thinks.

Personalities are of no value for the world, and human history has been a demonstration of this truth—of the manner in which people are treated by the world. They are treated as something which we, as humans, are not able to understand. Great geniuses have exited from the drama of life in one second. Great heroes of history in various fields, whom we would like to remain here in our presence for ages to come, are cast into the winds by the powers of life, the forces of the world. Does the world care for us? Our demands seem to be given scant recognition by the rule and the law of the world. The world does not bother if we are born; it does not bother if we die. It also does not seem to bother how we live, because it cannot consider us in the way in which we consider it. Here is the difference between a loving parent looking at a child and an ignorant child understanding its parent.

The considerations of world forces in respect of people like us are impersonal considerations, not personal affiliations of human friendship or social affiliation. The world is not a human society. We may think it is only that; but, it is not just that. This is the reason why humankind, right from creation onwards, has never been able to understand what this world is or why things are happening in the way they happen. Things are happening in the way they have to happen, but things are not happening in the way we would like them to happen from the point of view of the observation and interpretation of values which we have foisted upon the world—not the real world, but a world which we have created in our own minds, a world of an exterior association and affiliation in regard to ourselves, whereas the world is not an exterior appendage to our personal lives. Remember—the world is not an appendix to the book of our personal lives; it is a standard existence by itself. However much we may stretch our thoughts to concede an independent value to the world, especially when we speak of world peace, human welfare, etc., we may not fully understand what is happening to our minds when we think or speak in that fashion.

Even when our thoughts, so-called, extend or appear to extend to the whole area of the world, geographical as well as social, we remain there as persons. In fact, we have not melted into the humanity which we consider as the deity of our social welfare activities. The social welfare worker is as yet a hard-boiled ego. He cannot cease to be, merely because the sea of humanity has engulfed him in this endeavour at social welfare or his thought of the good of the world as a whole. It is not easy—rather, it is almost impossible—for us to get out of the clutches of this background of our very method of thinking, however much we may imagine that we are thinking altruistically and balancing ourselves with the way of things and the world outside. This is a psychological root. I do not want to use the word ‘unconscious’ which is used by psychologists, when we do not know the exact meaning that they have in their minds for this word. Apart from that, it is not a suitable description for what I am trying to convey as the background of our difficulty. It is unconscious in the sense that it is not capable of thought. That means to say, this background of our method of thinking cannot be converted into an object of thought, just as one cannot see one’s own back.

Hence, to be with the world, which is said to be the art of yoga, may require a type of effort and endeavour on our part that is not just a psychological effort. When we are students of yoga in the real sense of the term, it is not this mind that is working. This mind that is human—which is mortal and caught up in the body, which thinks from its own individual point of view and cannot consider the ways of the world as a whole—is not the mind that practises yoga. This is the reason why yoga teachers often make a distinction between the lower mind and the higher mind. We have heard these terms ‘lower’ and ‘higher’, but we cannot easily discover the difference between these two aspects of human thinking. As I pointed out a little earlier, the lower mind is that kind of thinking which is concerned only with the maintenance and the security of the bodily individuality and the psychic ego.

The higher mind, whatever that mind be, is that capacity within us by which we can wrench ourselves from our own selves, pull ourselves out of ourselves, as it were, and become associates of the world processes—partly thinking as the world would think. I am again reverting to the point of the way in which the world thinks, which is supposed to be the yoga of the world. What does the Upanishad mean when it says that the world is in a state of yoga and, therefore, we too have to be in a state of yoga because of the fact that we are not in the world but we are the world? We live by the world and not merely inside the world, as living in a house. Our sustenance is the world. Our vitality is the world. Our soul itself is the world. The world soul sustains the so-called souls of individuals. Then what does it mean to think as the world thinks? This methodology of our consciousness is very easy and very difficult at the same time. We have to exert a little in order to be able to align ourselves in a totally different manner. Can we imagine that the world does not see anything outside itself because the world is all things?

We are all the world, and we are in the world. The world includes all things, for our practical purposes. If that is the case, that world which includes all of us will not be thinking of us, because if the world would be put to the needs of thinking of people like us, we would not be in the world; we would be outside the world. If we are in the world, if we are inseparable from the world, the world thought would not be a thought of people like us. It would not be any thought at all as we are accustomed to imagine. It would be thinking itself. Here we are required to exercise the will to be able to think in this manner. Why is it not necessary for the world to think of anything outside itself? The answer is very clear. That which we would like the world to think of is in the world and, therefore, is the world. Hence, the world does not think of anything; but it does think, in the sense that all thought is world thought. All thoughts are in it, and it is the thought. This is the world’s pratyahara-action taking place.

We have heard of the abstraction of the forces of the senses, the withdrawal of the mind and all that which yoga scriptures speak of by way of instruction: withdraw the senses, restrain the mind, and so on. In a broadly spread-out universal fashion, the world does this and it does nothing else, while we may be doing many other things side by side with a yoga activity. We know very well this is what we are doing. We have a few minutes of yoga, a few hours of religion, but there are many other things in our life which we seem to consider more important—very, very unhappily. If that is the case with our yoga, this is not the yoga that the world is thinking of. Yoga is the only thing that the world does. It has no other function to perform. It has no other activity, in the same way that the physical organism has only one action to perform—the maintenance of the health of the system. It has no other intention at all. The balancing of the whole system to maintain its perpetual health is the central intention of the whole physical organism. This is the yoga of the body; so is the yoga of the world.

Thus, the centrality of the features of yoga may slowly land us in a new discovery, namely, that it is a kind of thinking which does not require anything to be thought—not because there is nothing that is to be thought, but because there is no necessity for the mind to think of that which is to be thought. The need to think of objects, as we call them, arises because we have an anxiety that they are not with us. There is no necessity to think of that which is already with us—not merely with us, that which has already become us—just as we do not go on feeling anxious that the limbs of our body will drop off. They are very secure indeed. We are anxious about our wallet, our watch, our land, our house, because there is a feeling that they are not ours—and really, they are not ours. As they are not in our possession and, much worse, they have not become ourselves—they are not us—there is a need to think about them.

But that which is already with us, and that which is ourselves, need not require thought. It was pointed out that the world has no need to think in this fashion, because all that is required to be thought of is part of its being. The world includes all things. This will throw some light on to how it is possible for the world to be in a state of yoga—and how it is imperative on the part of every one of us, everything in the world, to be only in a state of yoga. If the world does nothing other than being in a state of yoga, and that is the only thing that the world has to do, can do and must do, and if it is also true that we are one with it and we cannot be outside it, we also have to follow the same path.

There is no duty except to be in a state of yoga. The question of other duties should not arise. There are no other duties, because the so-called others that we have suddenly and unnecessarily insinuated are a part of this yoga of the world. Here comes the importance of karma yoga, which is the converting of so-called other duties into the very substance, the very self and soul of the participation required by our minds in respect of world-thinking. So we should not say, “I have other duties—duties other than study, other than meditation and other than japa. I have office work.” These are irrelevant ways of understanding the situation of life. There are no other duties in the world, as there is no other. The word ‘other’ should not be used here, because that so-called other is that over which we have no control, over which we have no say whatsoever, which is not us, and over which we have, therefore, an anxiety that has to be brought into alignment with the thought of yoga, which is world thought. This process is karma yoga.

The whole teaching of the Bhagavadgita is only this much—that our so-called other duties, vocations, performances, activities are not actually activities, duties, works, performances, drudgeries, etc. Nothing of the kind are these. They are part and parcel of the needs of the world and, therefore, they are included in the thought of the world. Hence, if we are wise enough to be in tune with world thought, we shall be taken care of. The world shall protect us, and our so-called other duties also will be taken care of without our sweating as much as we do. These are the fundamentals of what we may sometimes call philosophic thinking, spiritual thinking, yogic thinking, higher thinking, religious thinking, divine thinking—thinking that will make a mortal an immortal.

The world was finding it difficult, inscrutably though, as we are not able to fully ascertain the manner of this difficulty in the present mood of our minds. When there was a shake-up in a non-aligned fashion in the inner components of the world psyche—or the stuff of the world, we may say—necessity arose for rectifying media or corrective forces to rise into action, because the law of life is health; and, it is the health of everyone. There is no greater treasure than health, no greater requirement on our part than health. If we are healthy, we have everything. We need not ask for anything else. Health is an attainment by itself. It is an end in itself, and not a means. It is a great blessing to be healthy—mentally and physically, and in every other manner. Thus, yoga is also the science of health. It is the science of the health of everything that is connected with us in the world, in creation—anywhere. Yoga is the science of health in the sense that it is the way of coordinating the inner parts of the whole of human life, the life of the world, so that a yogi is not an individual person. It is not somebody doing yoga in some corner. It is not an individual affair. This wrong notion has to be given up.

“I am doing yoga.” This is not a correct statement. We are not doing yoga, because when we do it, we cease to be the ‘I’ that we are. We have begun to participate in a world process. As a river enters the ocean, we have gone into the depths of the sea of the world. In this sense, we may say that being in the state of yoga is the greatest service that we can render because to enter into people and to be what they are is the greatest service that we can do for them. Hence, when this was lost sight of—when this ideal of world health was difficult to maintain in the process of time, through the passage of history—when such a situation arose, difficulties also arose. Whenever we are not healthy, we have some difficulty; and any number of problems can arise from that, one after the other. There is no end to the problems that can arise when we are sick in our core.

What I intend to present during these days is the role which saints and sages play in this divine purposive action of maintaining the solidarity of the world, contributing to the well-being of everyone, and injecting into the whole of humanity that mighty relieving medium which will stand us in good stead forever. Even centuries after these incarnations came, their impact was felt. Even today, after ages of the departure of these incarnations and masters from the world, we feel a secure and comforting atmosphere around us when we remember them. Even a thought of these great masters is a satisfaction for us. We pray to the gurus, the masters, the incarnations, and to God Almighty. Even the very thought of them sustains us. That is the way in which they spread their aura around themselves. Not merely outside in the physical world, their aura spreads itself even through the passage of time, and it maintains itself for ages to come.

There is a short biography of a great saint who is remembered by devotees of God as a siddha purusha. One of his disciples showed the great master’s horoscope to several astrologers. “For how many years will my Guruji be alive?” the devotee asked. The Guruji was also present. One of the astrologers said one hundred years, another astrologer said three hundred years, and the third astrologer said seven hundred years. “How is it that you great astrologers say different things—that my Guru will be alive for one hundred years, three hundred years, and seven hundred years?”

The Guruji, who heard the pronouncements of the astrologers, said, “They are all correct. This body will live for one hundred years, its writings will be known to people for three hundred years, and its force will be felt for seven hundred years.” I am referring to the great Raghavendra Swamiji, whose samadhi is in Mantralaya. It is said that he made the statement that his presence would be felt for seven hundred years, his writings would be read for three hundred years, and he would be in the body for one hundred years. This is the glory of the great masters. The aura of the great master Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, who was amidst us, is sustaining us, and his physical absence is not a spiritual absence. And if spirit is more than matter, we have lost nothing.

With these words I conclude today, and hope to tell you something more about the very magnificent, interesting and stimulating life of this great master, Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, and his wondrous message to mankind.