The Heart and Soul of Spiritual Practice
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 14: Attaining Peace of Mind

During these days I have practically told you everything that you are required to know. I have left nothing unsaid, and perhaps I spoke from every point of view of human life. We are now moving toward the conclusion of this course in the Academy.

It also is necessary to tell you that everyone should know the art of having peace of mind. A person with no peace of mind does not actually live, but just exists. Living is different from just existing. First and foremost the purpose of life has to be understood – why you want to be alive at all. Do you want to continue living in this world with distorted feelings, insecurity from all sides, fear that is gnawing into your vitals and dissatisfaction everywhere? Would you like to live such a life?

Every person has a common complaint that things are not as one would like them to be. This complaint is without foundation because things are exactly, even now, as they ought to be. You are not actually as you ought to be. The complaint, therefore, has to point in your direction and not in the direction of the world outside. We somehow forget that we belong to this wondrous structure of creation, which we look at as something that is staring at us as if we are outside it. The world, taken in its totality, never does wrong. It has its comprehensive vision directed towards its own goal. However much our learning and erudition, we cannot give up the prejudice of feeling that we are standing outside the world, outside everything; we are inside nothing. We are totally disassociated from the world of nature, from its Creator. That which you call peace, which you erroneously identify with some fancy of yours, is a little different from what you think it to be. Can you define what you really mean by peace ? When there is no noise, when nobody talks to you, when there is nothing for you to see in front of you, when everything is calm and stands still – is that peace? When everything is dead silent from all parts of the world – nothing moves, no sound is created and nobody speaks – is that peace? Naturally you will hesitate to agree that this kind of thing is peace. When there is no disturbance from anything in the world, nobody speaks to you, no sound is created, nothing happens anywhere, why should you not regard it as peace? It may be felt subtly from within. Peace does not come from outside. If the external world is the cause of your disturbance, then the dead silence of everything in nature, or in general, should be considered as peace.

So, the world is not the source of your distraction and suffering. The reactions that you set up in respect of the atmosphere outside are the causes of what you are, basically. I have been telling you many a time that you must regard the whole universe as a single organism. When it is said that the universe is an organism, a living, single unit, complete in itself, it goes without saying, simultaneously, that everything connected with this total organism also is an organism. Little organisms make large organisms, but nevertheless even the little ones are organisms only; they are not dead fractions. Your self is a complete organism. The society outside also is an organism by itself. The governmental setup itself is an organism. Everything is to be viewed in the sense of a totality and a completeness in itself.

Thus we have a series of organisms, or forms of completeness, until we reach the completeness of creation as a whole. The peace that you are speaking of, or want to have, is the extent to which you are in harmony with the organism with which you are inextricably related. What are the things, actually, with which you are connected in this world? With those things, you have to be in a state of harmony.

The agitations of the mind, caused by various factors, produce repercussions in the external atmosphere, and it looks like social conflict. There cannot be social conflict unless there is individual disturbance and conflict in one's own self, because society is nothing but many people like you, like me, like anybody. If every individual is filled with inner peace, society will have a completely peaceful atmosphere around. It is no use saying society is bad. Things are worse because you are one of the things, and you are a unit of society. When you complain against the world, against society, against people, you are including yourself also as a target of this complaint. Whenever you speak, whenever you think and make any judgment whatsoever, you seem to be standing outside the atmosphere of judgment and perception. Unfortunately, that is not so. The judge is involved in the very circumstance of judging. A judgment is an organic action. It is not an individual's predilection, or thinking as one would like. The judiciary is an organism which includes the judge, the lawyers and the people who are connected with the case. They are not isolated units scattered out in a disabled manner, but they form a complete whole. If the judge knows that the whole atmosphere of judiciary functioning is a complete whole, the judgment also is a complete whole without any kind of partisanship.

This is a psychology that is applicable to every kind of experience in your life, every duty that you perform, every work with which you are acquainted. It is not possible to have peace unless you know the source of peace. The source of peace is the balance that has to be struck in your own mind. The balance is disturbed on account of the mind working as the medium of the sense organs, which move towards objects outside. The agitation of the mind is caused by the necessity to think in terms of external objects – distance itself. That which you call peace or harmony of existence is the situation that you establish between yourself and that to which you belong – namely, the universal whole. It begins with lesser wholes and then enlarges itself into larger wholes until it covers the whole universe. Until the whole creation is in peace, you cannot be in peace, because it is not possible for a limb to be healthy when the organism is suffering.

If completeness is the nature of the entire creative pattern, the peace spoken of in terms of this pattern of creativity is integral to itself. The universe does not require anything to happen outside it in order that it may be in peace. Remember what I told you: every part of the cosmic organism is also an organism by itself – including yourself. The universe does not require anything to happen outside it in order that it may be in peace. If that is the truth, then it applies to you also. There is no need for anything to take place outside in order that you may be in peace, because the law of the universe applies to every individual. The law of the universe is such that it needs nothing external to it. Then how do you expect anything to take place outside yourself, for the sake of your peace of mind? It is, therefore, actually a meditational activity taking place when you are aspiring for peace of mind.

Meditation is the attention of the total mind in the direction of that which is the total above oneself. The lower total adjusts itself to the conditions of the higher total. This applies to human organisms, society, government, and nature as a whole. Therefore, to sum up, peace is an outcome of the adjustment of oneself with the various wholes that are inextricably related to the cosmic whole. Suffice it to say, you are slowly being led to the conclusion that unless you are friendly with the whole cosmos, you cannot have peace of mind.

What is meant by friendship with the cosmos? You have to be adjusted in your total personality to the requirements of cosmic operation, the evolutionary process. The world does not contain unwanted things, because if anything is unwanted, it cannot exist within the jurisdiction of the whole of creation. Everything has a particular context, and in that context it is perfectly fitted to the cosmic requirement – as in a large mechanism or a machine, every little nut and bolt has a role to play. Nothing is unimportant, and every little contribution made by each part of the machine is a whole contribution, without which the machine will not move. Therefore, even your smallest act is a whole act. There is no such thing as a small act and a big act, in the same way as in a mechanical setup there is no such thing as a small part and a big part. Each part is equally important because there is a community of participation in the working of a total whole – call it a mechanism or an organism. This is to be remembered always. You have to be a very good psychologist, and you must have the power to apply this psychological conclusion in your deep meditation. Meditation is the art of setting oneself in tune with that which is everywhere – call it society, call it family, call it government, call it nature, call it God.

If you are torn asunder – away from the total to which you organically belong and cannot unite yourself – then you cannot have peace. Peace is the total consciousness of total existence. We are far from it. We are torn individuals in every manner, socially and psychologically. We require, therefore, not peace of mind, but education. Education is the art of knowing oneself, first of all, before knowing anything else. You may know the stars in the heavens, but you may know nothing about your own self. You can count the stars in the heavens, but you do not know the number of doors in your own house. You have to look around to find out how many doors and windows there are. You know very much about the world outside, but nothing, practically, about yourself. But you must know that you cannot stand outside the world. So, knowledge of the world implies knowledge of the self also and, vice versa, knowledge of the self is knowledge of the world. Atmanam viddhi – know thyself and be free. This 'thyself', or the so-called 'yourself', is not one person, one individual, one unit sitting somewhere in a corner of the world, but is an integrally connected organism, though small in range, to the larger organisms of society, nature and God's existence.

This is a point which you have to bear in mind when you sit in meditation. You require nothing in order to bring you peace of mind. You require only yourself. You are the master of yourself and you have to know how to tune yourself to the requirement of existence as a whole. The tuning of your personality, your existence, to the existence that is total is peace of mind; that is peace of consciousness; that is harmony of existence; that is blessedness; that is happiness; that is bliss, you may say. What you call happiness, satisfaction or joy in the ordinary sense of the term is a fractional adjustment of yourself to a condition that is prevailing outside, though the adjustment may be for a few seconds only. You will not have satisfaction of any kind unless you are adjusted to the conditions prevailing outside. Unless you are well-adjusted, the family to which you belong cannot be well-adjusted, because every member of the family is just like yourself. So, you do not know what a family is. It is an organism of individuals like your own self. This little organism which is yourself becomes a slightly larger organism called the family. The family organism becomes a community organism. The community organism becomes a village, a state or a nation organism. The nation is an organism, a living body. The world, the country, the nation is not a bundle of trees and mountains and rivers and roads and buildings – nothing of the kind. It is a consciousness. It is an ideology. It is an adjustment of consciousness to a particular objective which transcends one's own self. That is what is known as national consciousness. That may be called social consciousness. That may be called natural or universal consciousness.

The whole play is consciousness only. You are the maker of yourself, which means your consciousness is the maker of yourself. You do not exist outside consciousness. What you are is the mind that thinks and the consciousness that operates. You are not the body. You are also not any kind of physical relation, as you imagine in your mind. You are the consciousness that you are. Can you imagine what you would be minus consciousness? You would be nowhere; you would be nothing. You would be a non-entity. The entity that you are, the meaning that you are, the significance that you seem to have with yourself is the consciousness thereof. What kind of consciousness have you got? What do you think of yourself? Here comes the psychology of philosophical adjustment of oneself. You should not be under the impression that you can be very wise with people and be a poor man, a poor person, in regard to your own self. The world will see you better than you see your own self. The world is all eyes. As you are organically connected with things, the world will see you from all sides.

This is not religion, this is not spirituality, this is not any kind of esoteric doctrine, but a scientific fact of the law of nature that everything is cohesive and fitted into one another so that each one is everything and everything is each one. This is a highly developed consciousness of democracy, if you can think in this manner. It is a feeling that consciousness is an ideal that gathers itself into a cohesive force by which it becomes inseparable from what it regards as something that is outside.

Here is the characteristic of a saint or a sage. Nothing is outside the saint and, therefore, he needs nothing from outside. One should not want anything from outside, because the outside thing does not exist apart from you and you do not exist outside that thing which you consider as outside. The saints and the sages ask not anything. They do not require anything because they have got everything by being united with that which you regard as outside you. The thing which you want is inside you in the sense that it is connected with your body, your personality, your consciousness. The moment you think, the universe acts, provided that your mind is united with the cosmic mind. Here is the transcendental meaning of true meditation – which is not a doctrine or a teaching or a gospel from the textbook of a scripture, but a scientific fact operating in the astronomical universe. Have you heard that the universe was, once upon a time, a cosmic atom? It was the source of the world. And do you believe that you have come from that cosmic atom? It was one integral whole. That requirement of integration which was characterising in that cosmic atom – brahmanda, as we call it – characterises everything that has proceeded from it. The larger whole produces lesser wholes, but not fractions. There are no such things as fractions in this world. Everything is a whole, though it is a modicum of a lesser order.

So, each level of wholeness gets identified with the larger whole of which it is an integral part, from which it cannot separate itself. This is the art of administration, the art of thinking properly, the art of education and the teaching process, learning – everything. This is the knowledge of the Self, as you may call it. It is said that the greatest knowledge is knowledge of the Self. But do not be under the impression that the Self is sitting inside the body. I mentioned to you that the Self is a wholeness that you feel within yourself, a consciousness rather than a limbed body with bones and flesh and nerves, etc. that you are not. You are the operation of consciousness. Remember very well – what would you be if consciousness were not there? You would not be there at all. If consciousness is not there, you also are not there. So when you are there, it is consciousness that is really there.

Satisfaction is not in you or in somebody else. It is in consciousness itself. Satisfaction is uninterrupted performance of consciousness. A larger satisfaction flashes forth when the unit of consciousness that you are operates as a set adjustment with the consciousness of other such units or centres. Who feels happiness? Who feels peace? Consciousness feels peace. It gets disturbed when there is no peace. Who disturbs it? It is disturbed by the wrong notion that it is outside the thing to which it really belongs.

In essence, everybody is a cosmic being. There is no such thing as an individual person. Can you think for a moment that you are a cosmic being? Go on saying, "I am a cosmic being. This little 'me' is organically related to the cosmic being – which means to say, I am a cosmic being. And the others I seem to see outside are not outside me, just as I am not outside the cosmic being." Go on asserting this with faith, with the power of will. "If I cannot stand outside the universe, I am the universe itself." Who will disturb your mind, then? Tell me frankly: who is there to disturb your mind? Nobody can disturb your mind. There is no such thing as 'your' mind. There is only the cosmic mind operating. Can you think through the cosmic mind? When you are thinking now, who is thinking? It is not the student that is sitting here – not this boy, this girl, this man, this woman. No. It is the cosmic mind that is thinking.

This is meditation. If anybody asks you what meditation is, tell them this is meditation. Toward the achievement of this apex of meditational practice, you are given recipes of a lesser category so that you may adjust yourself gradually, stage by stage, in the higher wholes which are the dimensions of larger and larger wholes of consciousness. You are the maker of yourself. Your peace of mind is within you only. You are the culprit – if at all there is one – and, therefore, complain not. Complain against your inadequacies, your imperfections and the lack of power of will that you are sunk in, by which you are unable to understand how you are connected to the world, to people, to the atmosphere, to ecological conditions, to the world as a whole. Find fault with yourself only. Do not find fault with anybody else, because the world is a whole, and wholeness cannot have imperfections.

Again I tell you, look at that wonderful Viratsvarupa, the cosmic consciousness, the description that we have in the eleventh chapter of the Bhagavadgita. Was any dirty thing there? If the cosmic consciousness – the universe which presented itself before Arjuna – did not have any dirty thing, ugly thing or unwanted thing, from where have these unwanted things come now before your eyes? You are the creator of the problems of life – nobody else – and you are not prepared to accept it because of the egoism that is so hard, flint-like, which says, "I am what I am, and I am right! And everybody has to follow what I think." If everybody started asserting in this manner, there would be a social rift and warfare immediately following.

You should consider yourself as very blessed that you can think like this. You should consider yourself as blessed because you know where your blessedness lies. It is with you – the you that is inseparably connected to the creation as a whole. So, peace is in the cosmos, it is in God, it is in all the forms of wholeness that you can think of. Your blessedness, your peace, your joy, your satisfaction lies in the extent to which you can adjust the dimension of your consciousness to that which you wrongly consider as outside you. Make it your own. Make the atmosphere your own. Make that which you see outside you your own, so that you think as the thing thinks and not as you, in your own individual capacity, think. When you see an object, try to think as the object thinks, not as you think it. Turn the tables round; let the object become the subject. If you assert yourself in that way, in a minute you will find that you are transported into a world which is beyond yourself.

It is difficult to think like this because you have been born into a family and a cultural background which is totally unacquainted with the normal, subliminal way of the required attitude in human life. Everywhere you see evil and ugliness and wretchedness and enmity – everywhere. There is nothing good anywhere in the world. This is how we are indoctrinated right from the beginning. When a child is born, the parents say, "The other man is an enemy. Don't go there. The next house is an enemy's house." You are told in the beginning itself, "This land is ours. That land is not ours. Don't go there. They want to grab our property." Animosity starts in childhood itself. "This is mine. That is not mine. This is yours. That is not yours. This is your friend. That is your enemy." You go on thinking like this right from your childhood. Your blood is infused with animosity and a feeling of incompatibility with everything. You are incompatible with everything; nothing is compatible. You are never in union with anything; everything is at sixes and sevens. Nothing is good for you; everything is useless. You are, yourself, the best thing, and all others are totally extraneous to you. Let this change of the pattern of thinking be developed, and you will find God prevailing Himself from your side. There is no God in the high heavens; you are yourself constraining Him and covering Him with a bush – with a dark cloud of erroneous thinking – regarding yourself as a totally independent person, unconnected with anybody else.

Remember that you are not unconnected with even a little stick on the ground. You are connected with that also. The stick can know what you are thinking. It is not dead. There are no dead things in this universe. Little things, unimportant things, unseen things, uncared for things – they know that you are there; and It knows. It has eyes everywhere. Everywhere eyes – the world is all eyes, everywhere. Sarvato 'ksi-siro-mukham (B.G. 13.13), says the Bhagavadgita. "Everywhere eyes, everywhere ears." They say that walls have ears – well, maybe. There are ears, no doubt, but there are also eyes everywhere. Every atom sees you. It is not a dead substance as scientists may tell us. There is no dead molecule anywhere; it is a living organism, a living being like you. With that you set yourself en rapport – in mind, in intention, in determination, in meditation – and slowly, thought becomes reality.

The psychology of the mind has to be understood. Thought concretises itself into reality. Do you know that the cosmic mind has concretised itself into this world which looks so solid? The cosmic mind, externalised in the space-time complex, appears to have descended into the concrete, solid form of the physical universe. That is the story of creation. Every little mind is a great potency. It is like a minute atom bomb which can assert, and what it asserts will take place. Think, and it is there.

But you are dubious in your adjustment of thought. You are always under the fear that something else is there outside you which will not agree with you. When you have the feeling that something is outside you which is different from you and cannot agree with you, you are really not en rapport with it, and it will really not like you and it cannot agree with you. What you think you are – that you really are. You must remember that. If you demoralise yourself, condemn yourself as a nobody and a nothing, you are that only. But if you understand your status in this world as a citizen of the cosmos and not merely of a little country or of a village, and know that the country protects its citizens, then the whole world will protect you. The cosmic forces are at your beck and call. This is spiritual meditation – or call it whatever you like – and be careful that you should not forget this.

I am not telling you all these things so that you may listen as a kind of entertainment. It is a recipe and medicine that is to be injected into your personality, so that the illness which is harassing you, day in and day out, may leave you slowly, gradually. This is a medical treatment for you. It is not a discourse that you have heard, as a professor speaks in a college. It is as a doctor speaks to a patient; and you have to be very careful to listen to it and take the medicine as it is prescribed, as it is necessary for you to take it.

So, briefly to say, you are really blessed souls. Everyone is a blessed child of the Immortal God. A child of God cannot be a miserable wretch. Do not think like that. How can the effect, which has come from the cosmic magnificence, become wretchedness? It is not possible. The magnificent divinity which is the cosmic whole reverberates in even the little divinity that you are. That may be a conflagration and you are a spark, but you are a part of it. With this confidence, take to meditation every day; but do not meditate as an exercise which is frightening and tiring, causing exhaustion and so on. You are inundating yourself. A process of inundating yourself cannot tire you. Meditation will bring you immense joy, not merely an ordinary benefit. You will be happy, happy, happy, happy! You will like to meditate more and more, because the more you are united with that ultimate level, the more is the blessedness that it will bestow upon you. This is what we call the grace of God – the grace of the higher total on the lower total. You may call this the grace of the divine omnipotence. Remember all these things as tiny processes of meditation with a different meaning altogether.

I have told you everything. There is nothing left now to speak to you. There are only a few days remaining until the completion of this course, and I want to thank you and bless you from the heart of my heart. I feel confident that I have done my duty very well, to the satisfaction of my own heart, and believe you have benefited immensely. Do not forget what I have told you, right from the beginning of the course until now. There are still a few more days, and when I see you again I will speak to you as it would be appropriate. God bless you!