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The Attainment of the Infinite
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 2: Expanding Our Consciousness

This week is devoted to considerations on sadhana, and so it is called Sadhana Week, which means the bestowing of deep thought on the practical side of living a life that is in consonance with the facts of life as they are, and not as they appear from outside.

Imagine that we are seeing two things, one thing being different from the other. It is impossible to distinguish between one thing and another, unless the distinguishing person is neither the one, nor the other. If you yourself happen to be one of the two things to be distinguished as different from each other, then there would be no knowledge of the fact of there being two things at all. The observing principle, which is yourself, always stands outside the two things, which are distinguishable for some purpose.

Now, here arises another question: It is not only important to know that the distinguisher is not the same as the two objects distinguished, but that the distinguisher pervades the area, the entire location, of the two objects. The so-called distance appearing to be there between two things is covered by a perceptional faculty in the observer. That is to say, the observing principle should not only be present in one thing and the other thing, but also it has to be in the middle. If it is only on one side or the other side, the distinguishing knowledge will not be there at all. So, there is something in us, as the observers or the seers of things, which rises above the location of the things observed.

The knowledge of the fact of there being two things is not an operation of the physical bodily location of the observer; it is an awareness which pervades both the two things, and also, at the same time, operates in the relation that obtains between two things. The difference between two things is a consciousness of the relation of the difference between two things. If the relation is absent, two things will not be different.

The most difficult thing in the world is the apperception, or knowledge, of what relation is. We are all sitting here with a relation among one another. I am related to you; you are related to me. There is a connection between one and the other. What actually is the meaning of 'relation'? Though you and I are related to each other, we are not touching each other. A person may be sitting there, several yards away from me, and yet have inwardly a relationship with me. This relation is something that is intriguing. Where is that relation existing? It is neither in this place which I am occupying as a person, nor is it there in the other person who is supposed to be related to me. It is existing between myself and the other person.

What is that relation made of? Is it a part of myself, or a part of the other? The relation, so-called, which distinguishes one person from another person, if it is a projection of one side, it will become a part and parcel of one side only, and it will not touch the other side.

For instance, we can say there are two things, A and B. They are mutually related to each other. You have to listen to me with concentration of mind. This connection, this relation between A and B, should belong either to A or to B; otherwise, it cannot exist because, as far as our perception goes, that which exists is just A, this side, and B, that side. I am here, and you are there. There is nothing in between, visible to the eyes. But if there is nothing in between, there cannot be even a consciousness of my being here, from your side. There will be no relation.

"This is my brother. He is related to me very closely," you say. What kind of relation have you got? Is the brother sitting on your lap, physically touching you? The relation still can be maintained between one and the other, even if one of the persons is so far away, somewhere in another country. If your brother is in New York, still he is related to you. What is there between the location of New York and yourself? You cannot easily say what is there. There is nothing; visibly, no thing called the relation is observable. If it is not there, you cannot make any statement about one thing being related to another.

If you assume that there is such a thing called relation invisibly operating, it should belong either to this side or to that side. The relation emanates either from A to B, or from B to A, in which case, the relation belongs to one side only, and not to the other side. If you consider relation as something emanating from A, and it has nothing to do with B, then it will not touch B. So is the case in our assumption that the relation belongs to B and not to A. It has to belong to both sides; otherwise, a distinction cannot be known. How can one thing become two things? This is an enigma in our concept of relation.

Actually, the problem arises on account of our physical observation of things, and our imagination that everything is made up of material substance, and substance of individuality. Myself, yourself, father, mother, brother – they are all considered as physical entities. "My brother is coming." We do not know what is coming, actually. It is a tall physical figure, moving with two legs. This is our usual conception of things.

The pervasion of the observing principle in the process of the distinguishing of one thing from the other cannot be a physical element. You as a person, a physical individual, do not sit between two things to distinguish between two things, like a policeman separating one section of people from another section by just pushing his hands, physically. We are not doing that in our act of distinguishing between one and the other. We can distinguish between the sun and the moon even, and one star and another star, by sitting here and apprehending the distinction between two things. What a distance is there between ourselves and the stars! The distance does not matter; still, the relation obtains.

How could you know that the stars are distinguishable, one from the other, when they are several light years away from you? What has happened to you, actually? You have never gone to the stars. Your eyes are not touching the stars. No intelligible connection exists between you and the stars, yet you can see the stars. Actually, who is seeing the stars? It is not you, because you are here. How could you be at such a distance from the vast spatial expanse where the stars are, and yet know the stars are there? In an invisible, all-pervading form, your perceptional consciousness touches the stars. This is the reason why you are able to apprehend the existence of even the most distant things in space.

It is necessary for us to understand who we are before we try to know what other things are. Yesterday I mentioned something about the wrong notion that we have about our environment and about the location of our existence. We imagine that we are existing in one place. We are existing in all places; otherwise, the awareness of there being such a thing as vast spatial distance will not be permissible, and not possible. But, how are we in all places, while apparently, for the purpose of a photographic camera, we seem to be sitting in one place only? In another form of our true substantiality, we are pervading all space.

In order to free ourselves from the obsession of limitation of finitude felt agonisingly in regard to our own selves, one of the prescriptions of Yoga practice, as a preliminary instruction, is that we should practise the art of placing ourselves outside ourselves.

Can you imagine that you are outside yourself, which is a fact, and the truth? If some element in you is not outside yourself, the outside object cannot be known to be existing at all, because your location as a physical body in one place cannot be responsible for your knowledge of there being another thing which is far away. In a subtle form, you are away from your own self. A thought that is connected with the body is called kalpita vritti, a modification of the mind which is attached to the body only. There is another kind of operation of the mind which is known as akalpita vritti, non-physical thinking. Non-physical thinking is the process of thought operating external to oneself. You place yourself away from yourself.

To give an example, you are sitting in one place, and looking at something which is far away from you. By a stretch of your imagination and by an exercise of your will, can you transform your presence to that location of the object that you are looking at, and imagine strongly that you are not seeing that thing, but that thing is looking at you? I give a simple example of a tree in front of you. You are seeing the tree, but can you also imagine that the tree is seeing you? For this purpose, you have to practise what is known as a discarnate operation of the psychic apparatus. 'Discar­nate' means not clinging to this particular body. You transfer your position to the location of the tree, or of somebody else. Look at yourself from that point of view. You become an object of perception. The other thing, which you thought is an object, actually becomes the viewer or the subject of perception.

If this practice becomes possible, you will never be attached to this body any more, because you can as well be attached to any other body. Why only this body? There are millions of people in this world. In what way are you better than others? You are a bundle of material conglomeration, as anybody else is.

For the purpose of practising detachment from this miserable individual physical location, transfer your mind to the sun shining in the sky, so that this process may become a little happy, and not just a kind of exercise of the will. Transport your consciousness to the solar orb, and look at yourself from that point of view, from that location. You will be seeing yourself sitting here, from there.

Or, you may even go a little further, and identify yourself with the sun itself. Transfer your consciousness to the location of the sun. Feel intensely that you are brilliant, radiating multiple rays of energy and light, which falls on you. You are sitting on this earth.

Great power of will is necessary for this kind of practice. Instead of my seeing you, you should see me. That is the whole simple matter. But, you should see me, not as you are doing just now, in an ordinary fashion. I myself have become you, and from that point of view, I am looking from that point of view at myself here. I become the object, and the consciousness that perceives has transferred to the other side, which looks like you. That is to say, I am not actually becoming you in transferring my consciousness to that place; rather, I think through your mind. My mind merges into your mind, and I am thinking through your mind. If this could be practised continuously, the person whose mind has become the vehicle of my operation will start thinking in the same way as I am thinking. This is what, generally, Yoga psychology tells us, for the purpose of controlling the minds of other people. Nobody can harm you, not even an elephant, if your mind is transformed into the mind of the elephant. It will think as you are thinking.

In the Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana there is a beautiful verse. The great sage Shuka was walking unconcerned in some direction. When Vyasa, his father, summoned the son, "My dear boy, where are you?" the response came from every tree around. Every leaf started moving, shaking, in response to the call of the father. The leaves were saying, "I am here." That is to say, the non-physical Shuka, in his pervasive character, had entered into the so-called external existences like the leaf, and he himself, as a transported element in terms of the leaves, was looking at himself. It is a right-about turn of perceptional process. Instead of your looking at the world, let the world look at you. Can you imagine what kind of Yoga this is?

The attachment to this particular body is so intense that we can never understand actually what this process is. "What does it matter if something is there? I am concerned with myself only." This is the ahamkara that speaks.

Can you enter into the things that are outside in the world, and look at yourself from that point of view, so that you are somewhere else, at a place other than the place where you are physically appearing to be existing? You have detached your consciousness from this body, and you have attached it to something else, which becomes your subjectivity; your body, which was originally looking like a subject, becomes an object. Then, what happens? You will be another person altogether. You can become any person that you like. You need not be only Mr. this, Mr. that. It is not necessary. You can think like any person, or anything whatsoever, provided that your mind has transported itself from the location of this body to the location of another thing.

We hear that Bhagavan Sri Krishna lifted a mountain. Actually, he did not lift any mountain; he lifted himself. The pervasive character of his consciousness became the subject behind the mountain. There is no difficulty for me to lift my hand, because it is me, but I cannot lift somebody else's hand, like the hand of an elephant, for instance. The elephant can lift its own leg, but we cannot lift it because it is too heavy for us.

Do you know the weight of the elephant? Can anybody lift that elephant? But, how does it lift itself? If it is so heavy, the elephant also cannot move. Its existence, its pure subjectivity, has become identical with the location of its large body, so that it does not stand outside itself. The elephant is something outside us. Therefore, our consciousness cannot permit the lifting of it.

So, what you call Sri Krishna lifting the mountain is only him lifting his own hand, as an externalised form of his existence – an arm of his, as it were. It was not a mountain that he lifted; he lifted an arm of himself, in his wider form. He transferred his existence to the mountain, and it lifted itself, as an elephant lifts itself.

This is the principle of Yoga practice, finally. You can stretch this technique even to God Himself. Even that is not an impossibility. I am just giving preliminary instructions for the purpose of psychological transportation of consciousness from one locality to another locality, so that we may not be attached egoistically to this particular body only.

Remember that your body is not in any way more beautiful than another person's; nor has it any more value than anybody else's. If A dies or B dies, both go to dust. They are cremated and thrown. It does not mean that my body is superior to the body of another when the soul withdraws itself from it. The ahamkara or the egoism of a human being is certainly unimaginable. We have no problem except our own ego. There is so much clinging to this location, as if other locations are absent. What prevents you from being a little more charitable and generous in your way of thinking, and thinking in terms of that which you are considering as outside you? The outsideness vanishes; universality enters.

What you have heard as universality is nothing but the activity of your own mind in terms of everything outside. The outsideness becomes a universal pervasion, because you have thought yourself as present in other things also – in many things, or in everything – in the entire space, in the whole of time, in the Creator Himself. You can even transport your consciousness to the centre of the cosmos.

Scientists tell us that the world was created by a big bang. All right, but what was there before this event took place? That is the centre of the cosmos. Close your eyes intensely and feel that you are there, at that spot which was there before this event of creation took place. You will feel that you are the Creator of the cosmos.

The world will bend before you, but now it does not bend; now you have to bend before it, because the world has become your boss, and you have become the servant. Why should you be a servant of anybody? It is because you have isolated yourself from that which is controlling you. Transport your consciousness to that which appears to be controlling you. Then, you control yourself at that time, like an elephant controlling itself.

This is a hard thing to imagine in the mind. Yoga is not simple. It is a strenuous effort of the intelligent will of a person to become other than what it is. The worst thing that you can think of is to imagine that you are other than what you are. Nobody likes to be other than what one is. "I am this. Who can be like me? What do you think you are? Do you know who I am?" This kind of talk, this kind of feeling, is the pain of human life. We perish as egos, and nobody benefits us afterwards, because if everyone starts thinking through this egoistic individuality, there will be a clash of purposes. One ego will not tolerate another. This kind of intolerance of egoistic principles among people is the cause of war in the world. Battle takes place, and there is conflict everywhere. This happens because everything is different from everything else. Why is it that one thing is different from the other thing? It is the body that is different from the other bodies, naturally, because the separation of two things is due to the intervention of space.

We must assume that we are spiritual seekers. You are not just business people coming from somewhere to attend a conference here, and going back and becoming business people once again. You are artists, you are clerks, you are officials; you have come here, and you sit here also as officials only – as clerks, bosses, and engineers, as tradesmen – and when you go back, you are that only. You are the same thing as you were. Your coming here has not benefitted you in any way.

Here is a place where you are enabled to enter into a new type of educational process, a transvaluation of values, as you may call it. There is no use living in Rishikesh; you may go to Delhi and stay. You can go to Timbuktu; what does it matter? The place is not what is important. The circumstances that are guiding you in the right direction are what is important. People come to a place like Rishikesh, not because there is some gold or silver flowing everywhere, but because the atmosphere is charged with a facility which enables a person to think in a different manner altogether, in a spiritual way, in a universal way, in a non-subjective way, in a non-egoistic way, in a divine way.

If this process is not possible, then travelling has no meaning. It will be only a question of sightseeing, or picnicking. No transformation takes place. A person comes, and he goes in the same way as he came. Any number of times he may come, and he goes as the same person.

The training is not merely verbal and observational. It is not an entertainment. It is an inner necessity felt to become more than what one is. Do you want to become more than what you are, or are you satisfied with what you are? Now, certainly you will say that you would like to be more than what you are. How would you become more than what you are – by having lots of things around you? Suppose you have gadgets and appurtenances and wealth and what not, and relations and friends around you. Do you mean to say that, by that, you have become more than you? Rich people think that they are more than what they are because of the money and the friends that they have. No, they cannot become more than what they are by imagining that they are connected with things which are totally different from themselves. Any amount of multitude of B's cannot change the character of A. He will be A only.

So, becoming more than oneself does not mean having many things around you, because things cannot become you. They are totally outside. Any amount of wealth that is heaped like a mountain in front of you will not enhance your personality. It cannot widen your individuality. You will be the same little stupid mini-person, in spite of the large wealth that you have gained.

Mahmud of Ghazni attacked certain parts of India twenty-one times, and he collected a lot of gold. It seems he went to Ghazni and piled up all the gold, which looked like a little hill. You may say that he had exceeded himself in becoming great, but the time came when he had to breathe his last. Death was catching hold of his neck. It seems he was lying down, breathing his last, and gazing at the whole hill of gold, and he died as a poor fellow that he was even before he obtained this gold, because the gold has not become himself; it was outside.

So, you cannot become more than what you are, except by the enhancement of your thought. You are not the objects, the gold and silver, or the relations; you are your mind. It is the mind that is looking like what you are. If this mind can expand itself, then you have expanded yourself.

To be expanded means to be present in a place where you are physically not. Can you be somewhere outside here, outside the location of this little body? Physically it is not possible, because I cannot lift my body and put it there; that is true. But I am not the body; I am the mind. Whatever I am is due to the mind thinking. I may be happy or unhappy, not because the body is sitting in one place, but because the mind is happy or unhappy.

The mind should exceed itself beyond the limit of this bodily location. Then it becomes a larger individuality. Man becomes superman; a mortal tends to become an immortal existence. You become wider and wider, defying the limitations of space. It is wider, not in the sense of a measurable, geometrical pattern. It is not that your body has become so thick. That is not actually enhancement of being. It is the consciousness in you that has risen above its location inside the body, and gone out.

As consciousness is pure subjectivity, we cannot look at ourselves sitting here. You cannot see yourself sitting somewhere else. Be careful about that. The consciousness is pure subject. It cannot become an object. So, when I say the consciousness in you has to expand itself, and you have to become more than what you are, it means to say, your 'I-ness' has to become a larger 'I'. It is not by possession of things which are external, because the 'I' is not outside; it is yourself only.

So, it is a very difficult thing to imagine what all this is. It is a very hard job, because we have been thinking wrongly right from our childhood. All these things look very new to us. It looks impossible, practically. Many feel that the realisation of God is not for them, that they have to take many births. Well, you may take many births, but it is not necessary, provided you are able to think from the point of view of that which you are aspiring for. You can obtain anything in the world, provided you have become that which you are longing for. Anything that is really outside you will not come to you. Any amount of longing is no good. Everything will run away from you, flee from you; you will obtain nothing if you go on thinking, "I want something which is not me."

You have to know that you can want only yourself. You can possess only yourself, you cannot possess somebody else. But, that somebody else also will come, provided that you have become that somebody. Then, that somebody ceases to be somebody, and you become that. You become universally operative. It is impossible to imagine this condition. You may be wondering how it is possible for you. If this is not possible for you, the very purpose of your existing in this world has no meaning; otherwise, you will be leading a meaningless life of drudgery, poverty, helplessness, and foolishness, and leave this body as foolish as you were when you took birth from the mother's womb. And, you will take another birth in order to continue this same foolishness with which you have left this body.

Death is not a solution to the problems of life. It is only a continuation of the problems. It is like escaping the eye of a creditor from whom you have borrowed a lot of money. How far can you go? The creditor will pursue you wherever your are.

A little calf, which has lost its mother cow in the midst of a large crowd of cows, moves zigzag, running hither and thither. Somehow it finds its mother, and will not rest until it finds its mother; similarly, your actions will pursue you wherever you go. So, death is not a solution to difficulties. Your debts cannot be cleared just because you have died. You will carry the debts, because debt is an obligation of the mind. It is not an obligation of the physical body. So, the body may go, but the mind that has obtained that credit will take it, as a very powerful magnetic energy following it, and you have to pay the debt in the next birth, with a redoubled force, with doubled interest.

Nobody can escape the facts. If you have done something wrong, it will come back on your head; if you do something good, it will come to you also, but we are not thinking of good and bad here. We are thinking of liberation from the thralldom of individual existence.

Whatever I have told you may look very strange, because it is impossible to think like this. The highest blessedness is the most difficult treasure that we can imagine. You have to become more than what you are, other than what you are, in the sense of an expanded being. You have to be larger, not by an increase in the width of your physical body, but larger in your dimension of thinking consciousness, so that you do not think only one thing, you think all things at the same time. This is the process prescribed in the Yoga technique of finding oneself outside oneself. From that point of view of the location that is external, so called, you look at yourself here, so that your attachment to this body has gone. The karma of this body will not attach itself. You are totally free. You become a super-physical viewer, rather than a physical observer.

If this technique can be extended further and further, into a wider field of comprehensiveness of all things in the world, you become a world person. This is what they call a superman. The world becomes your body. You can imagine what you will be feeling at that time. Your little consciousness, clinging to this little body, will cling to the whole world, and pervade everywhere, and everything will be your external form.

Can you imagine what it would be like to think in terms of the whole world as yourself? You cannot do that because you are unable to transfer the consciousness of your physical existence and make it enter into the substance of the universe. There is a great difficulty in becoming other than what one is. So much is the attachment to this body! That is why you cannot bear one word of talk against this body.

Yoga is difficult; sadhana is very hard. Sadhana is the supreme effort that you have to put forth in honestly seasoning your psychic operations and, as I mentioned yesterday, start thinking spiritually, and not psychologically. The psychological mind projects itself as an observer of another object. The spiritual mind considers itself as the very thing which it observes, so that the relationship between one thing and another is abolished, and it becomes a relationless, ubiquitous, expanded consciousness.

You are not a person; you are not a son or daughter of somebody. You are an element of consciousness, which is what has taken birth, which is what will go outside from this body and incarnate itself as another body. This so-called ' myself' will not go to the next world; it will be thrown away here. So, if this so-called 'myself' has been thrown away, then what are you, really, that is going to the other world? Why do you not think of it now itself? If you are certainly not what is thrown out at the time of death, why do you think it is you now? Even now it is quite different from what you are. How is it that it has become impossible to think like this? If this thing that is thrown out at the time of death is not you, as you know very well, then what are you? That thing is the crucial matter here. On this you concentrate, and see that instantaneously you will be liberated from the finitude that has been injected into you by wrong thinking.

Education is the process of right thinking in the direction of the pervasion of yourself higher than what you are. An educated person becomes more than what he is; he does not continue to be the same idiotic person as he was. Education is the art of larger being, rather than acquisition. This is a very difficult technique, but if you can succeed in it, you will be the most blessed person.