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The Attainment of the Infinite
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 6: Reversing the Process of Creation

Whether we are to understand the onrush of the creative process in terms of scriptural descriptions of creation, or in the light of the discoveries of modern science, the consequence is similar. There is an externalising compulsive force operating throughout the cosmos. Grossly, it manifests itself as gravitation, against which nobody can stand. The gravitational pull of the outward rush of creative activity includes also the operations of the minds of individuals, who are mostly bodily conditioned, so that we think in terms of our bodies, and not independently.

The constitution of the physical organism influences the mind to such an extent that we cannot think independently of the compulsion exerted upon the mind by the physical constitution. Scriptural descriptions of the creative process, or the findings of modern science in this connection, appear to tell us that something very strange happened, and is happening even just now. The One indivisible force split into two parts: the positive and the negative of creation. Every scripture says this, and the big bang spoken of in modern scientific language is just this indescribable split of the One undivided originality into a segment of positive and negative characteristics. When the indivisible One apparently becomes two, there is a double activity taking place simultaneously: the consciousness of the separation of one thing from the other, and the consciousness of it being impossible for half of it to have no connection with the other half.

This original cosmic predicament is reflected in the lowest of social activities of human beings. We wish to be alone to ourselves, on the one hand, and find at the same time that it is not possible to be totally, literally, alone to ourselves, without contact with external things. It is the activity of the One and the many operating at the same time. If the One indivisibility has become two, then two have become four, four becomes eight, eight becomes sixteen, sixteen becomes thirty-two, thirty-two becomes sixty-four – such that the onrush of diversification, the pressure towards externality, compels itself to reach to the lowest level possible, until it reaches the utter externality of materiality, down to the atoms and the electrons and the particles of sand. The impulsion to objectification and diversification seems to be a tendency to destroy itself completely, so that there is a cosmic death, we may say, in the utter finality of the creative process.

This is what is known as pravritti dharma, the natural tendency of creation to engage itself in outwardly motivated activity. Pravriti laxano dharmah nivrittistu maha bhagah, says the Smriti. It is a natural tendency of everyone to act according to the law of this descending, precipitating, onward movement of creative force.

 But, if it is possible to resist this onward rush of externalising tendency, we will be more blessed. It is what they call, in Tantric language, wrongly interpreted, vama achara, the return process. It does not mean the left-hand path; it is the return process of the current of externalisation in creation.

Inasmuch as nobody can stand outside this process of onward movement of creative energy, we are helplessly driven, like insects floating in the onrush of a powerful flooded river that carries with it elephants, and insects, and logs of wood, and whatever; nobody can stand the onrush of the waters of a flowing river. This is like the flowing river.

"Create!" says Brahma in the Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana. "Let me create!" says God in heaven, in the biblical language. Why did this desire to create arise at all? Why should He create? It is an indescribable potential seed of outwardness, which is supposed to be inexplicably present, whatever be the language through which we speak of it. Nobody can explain why creation has taken place. It is a tendency to destruction, self-annihilation in the utter externality of material existence, so that what we seek in this world is just material objects, material benefit, and material acquisition. Anything that is non-material cannot attract us.

We ask a question, like a businessman, "In what material way am I going to be benefitted? What is the material advantage that accrues to me if I do this act?" We always use such language. Material benefit is the final benefit; any other benefit is not. We do not consider an increase in understanding and knowledge as having any worth, because an attempt at the increase of the wisdom and the understanding of life is an inwardising process of the mind, whereas the asking for material gains of any kind is an externalising force. As we are ourselves bodily just a heap of material elements, we are compelled to think in terms of this material embodiment only. Matter asks for matter.

The body, which is material, seeks material contact. It does not want anything else. This is called pravritti dharma, or the externalising tendency in creation. Philosophically, in Indian parlance, we say the universally spread out, ubiquitous Absolute Brahman became a potential for creation called Ishvara, in the same way as a painter would stiffen with starch the otherwise clean canvas, or cloth. Painting begins with a clean background of a canvas. The externalising process takes place when we stiffen it with starch, so that the porous structure of the cloth is filled in by the starch that is spread; it becomes a little stiff. The first step in externalising the cloth is the stiffening of the very same cloth with starch.

A further externalisation takes place, which is the drawing of an outline of the picture on the stiffened, starchy background of the canvas. With a pencil, the artist starts sketching the pattern which he would like to present as a piece of beautiful artistic presentation. Then, a further externalisation takes place, by filling this sketch with colour and ink, and we have a fully manifested, externalised form of the painting – by looking at which, we completely forget the outline behind it, forget the starch, and forget even the screen itself. When we see the painting, we cannot see the canvas.

When we go to a movie, we cannot at that time see that there is a screen behind it. When we see the world, we cannot see God; when we see God, we cannot see the world. If we go on concentrating on the canvas and the screen behind, the show will not be interesting, because our mind is diverted to the background and not to the actual performance. But if we are concentrated on the movement of the shadows or pictures, we cannot, at the same time, think of the background.

So is the case with us in everyday life. When we are engrossed in the perception of the material things in the world, the background of it is completely forgotten. When we look at Virat, the colour-filled painted picture of creation is actually this visible cosmos. Originally, the cosmos was not a visible object, because there was no one to see it. The seeing principle gets involved in the very process of the manifestation in creation.

The grosser is the manifestation process, the greater is the tendency to segregate, to cut the subject from the object, the seer from the seen, the inside from the outside, the top from the bottom, the right from the left; everything is scattered in such a manner that a person who looks at the world with his eyes cannot know what is there at all.

This distracted presentation of the variety of creation is the cause for the flitting of the mind from one thing to another. No one can keep quiet looking at one thing only, because every little thing looks equally good, so no one can sit in one place. We have to keep moving from place to place. We cannot be satisfied with any one kind of endeavour. We have to go on doing different things continuously, all for the sake of a material gain that is expected to accrue to us by the contact of the material components of our body with the material components of the world outside.

The Bhagavadgita tells us that when matter comes in contact with matter, actually it is not two hard substances that come in contact with each other; two different forces meet each other. The material object, so called, is a concentrated form of energy. In Sanskrit we call it the gunas – sattva, rajas, and tamas. The forces which constitute the objects of the world, assuming a material form, have three conditions: status, dynamics, and equilibrium. When there is no activity, and a status quo is maintained, it is called tamas; it is status. When this state of complete inactivity gets disturbed by the activity of rajas, there is diversification of consciousness, and we move our mind in different directions, with varieties of desires.

But there is a third state which scientists do not know. We have only status and dynamics in science; equilibrium is unknown to science. When the externalising impulse and the stabilising force meet together in harmony, there is an equilibrium created that is called sattva in Sanskrit.

So, these forces, which are the strands of the rope of the object so-called, look like hard material substances. The hardest rock is a bundle of intense vibrations. Due to the intensity of the vibration, we cannot see the porous condition of the object, in the same way as a very powerfully moving electric fan may look static, as if nothing is moving at all. Increase the speed of the fan to the highest point; it will look as if it is not moving at all, because the mind and the perceptional capacity of the eye cannot catch up with the speed of the movement of the wings of the fan.

Why do we see people standing in a movie? There is nobody standing there. It is a rapid movement of pictures, rushing at the rate of about sixteen pictures per second, and the rapidity of the movement gives the illusion of a static condition of a particular object there. Everything is rapid motion, but the eyes cannot catch this motion; therefore, the illusion of stability of a form is created before our eyes. Our eyes are the deceptive media through which we are trying to envisage and judge objects of sense. Since the eyes in their dull, low potency vibrational capacity cannot catch up with the high-speed vibration of the objects of the world, we imagine that everything is in one place, and not in another place.

Actually, the objects are only concretised forms of this threefold energy, and they are touching each other in their essential level. You will find every object is touching every other object at its base. There is a fluidity, as it were, behind the apparent solidity of the perception of objects, but this cannot be observed by the sense organs, since this so-called fluidity of the basic nature of the objects is so rapid in its vibratory motion that the senses cannot catch up with it. If the structure of the retina and the perceptional faculty also moves with equal rapidity, we would not see the world at all, just as two trains moving at equal speed will create the illusion of stability of the two trains; we cannot know which train is moving, or if anything is moving at all, because two trains are moving parallel at the same speed, and each one looks like a static existence, though it is moving fast.

This is the illusion that is made by the externalising force of creation, one thing becoming multitudinous, and we become helpless because of our notion of isolation from this cosmic drama that is taking place. If we are not an observer of the moving picture, if we are one of the participants in the series of moving pictures and are inside the screen, we will never see the movement of the pictures. We are standing outside the movement of the pictures; therefore, they seem to be moving there.

If we are able to counteract this gravitational repulsive process which takes us away from the centre of the universe, and turn our tables round, and think in terms of the very structure of the objects of observation, then we will not see objects. We will see our own selves. When we see our own selves, we would not know what type of thing we are.

God is playing a drama, as it were, in this vast creative process. He remains Himself, in the same way as, in the dream world, varieties of movements and activities taking place are observed by the one indivisible waking mind which still exists as it was; it never changes, never creates, never absorbs, from its own point of view. This is the reason why we say that there is an illusoriness potential in the very perceptional activity of the world.

The impulse of creation that I mentioned, which is externally motivated, is what is grossly known as the gravitational pull. Nobody can resist this pull of gravitation. The mind is pulled towards the body. It cannot think independently, because the material components of the body exert a gravitational influence upon the thinking process, also; therefore, when we think, we think like bodies, and if we want or desire something, we want only bodies. Because of this involvement in the externalised onrush of creative process of pravritti dharma, we are unable to concentrate our mind on the ideal of our meditation.

Chanchalamhi manah krishna pramathi valavadridham: Impossible to control is the mind; impetuous, turbulent, is the tendency of the mind to turn back towards the body and towards material components connected with this body and its relations. Turbulent is the world; impetuous is the mind. It is resisting any kind of attempt to bring it back to the point from where it has arisen. The outward rush is as impulsive as the waters of a flooded river in which even elephants cannot stand and will be washed away.

So, any amount of physically conditioned thinking will not be a proper medium for meditation. We have to develop within ourselves a touch of the cosmic, in order that we may be saved from this trouble of individual gravitational pull of the bodily condition. Unless there is an element of God in us, it will be difficult to succeed in this world. Pure devil cannot get on; it is not possible. There must be some spark of light even in the utter darkness of sensory perception. All this means intense austerity of the mind, or retention of the mind from its onward movement towards things, and trying to think not in terms of the outwardly located objects, but in terms of the very basis of the creative process, which includes all these objects and our own selves.

For the time being, psychologically at least, we have to be cosmically located; otherwise, the mind will not come round. It is only when our mind gets tuned up to the cosmical situation that it will yield and listen to any kind of advice. It is unable to appreciate the fact that it is not cosmically conditioned. It is wrongly made to believe that it is physically conditioned – bodily, socially, financially, and politically conditioned, and in every way restricted to physical operations.

How would you change the way of thinking into a cosmical fashion? It requires a tremendous effort of the mind. Aneka janma samsiddha tato yati param gatim: Often it is said that the difficulty involved is so much that we may have to take several births to be able to think in a cosmical fashion.

We should not think in terms of our relations, in terms of the objects that pull us in their direction, or in terms of the body, which also conditions us. Transfer this body, with all its affirmations, to the vast sea of objects, so that we become a member of the cosmic medley of individualities, and it does not stand in the position of the onlooker of the forest of individuality in front. Let not anyone stand outside this vast forest of individualities, but become one of the plantations in this vast cosmic operation. That is to say, we enter the world, rather than look at the world. We make the world our own, rather than convert it into an object of perception.

Sensory perception is the reason why we are unable to concentrate the mind on anything that is of a universal nature. The senses do not know what universality is. They are wedded to individuality, particularity, segregation, and isolation. To make matters worse, we have five sense organs; five different affirmations are made at the same time. Like a head of a family pulled in different directions by the members thereof, the individual consciousness inside is pulled in five different directions externally by five different sense organs.

If we see a thing, it is not enough; we have also to hear it. A deaf man does not enjoy the world, though he can see the world. A person who cannot smell cannot enjoy the taste of a dish. If we have caught cold and the nostrils are clogged completely, we will not enjoy our daily meal. You will be wondering what the connection is: "I am eating with the tongue; why is the nose interfering?" They are interconnected. It is necessary to touch the food, to hear how it is made, to smell it also, to see it, and to taste it. All things should take place simultaneously. If one limb is not operating, the food is not tasty. We cannot enjoy it.

So, there is a fivefold onslaught of sensory activity taking place, even in our little contact with a single object of the world. There is a deliberate attempt, as it were, on the part of these fivefold apertures of sensation to deceive us completely. Every moment we are deceived by the activities of the sense organs, which tell us five different things.

Fortunately, we have only five sense organs. Suppose we had ten or fifteen; then, it would be still worse. Now, because of the five sensations, we are seeing five different objects – earth, water, fire, air, and ether – because these five elements are the five counterparts of the five sensations. Suppose we had one hundred sensations; we would see one hundred elements, and there would be no end for the variety in creation.

It does not mean that we are seeing all the variety of creation with the eyes. We see a limited segment of creation, due to the limitation of the sensory activity. If we have got all eyes, and all ears, and all taste, then we will be just seeing endless cosmic variety of creative dissipation, and we would not know where we are standing. Because only five senses are there, we are saved this tragedy, but they are doing enough mischief for us.

It is said that sense control is necessary for the purpose of engaging oneself in meditation. What is the meaning of 'sense control'? Is it closing the eyes, plugging the ears, and stuffing some cotton into the nose? It is nothing of the kind. We may plug the holes of the sense apparatus; it does not mean that these senses have been restrained. The senses are not what we see outwardly. The eyeballs are not the eyesight.

There is an impulsion inside, an energy content, a potential for outwardness; that is the sense organ. Whether it is the eye or the ear, or whatever it is, the sensation that we feel through these apertures is the sense organ. The sensation is the organ, not the physical fleshy substance of the organ, so any kind of plugging the nose, closing the mouth, and stuffing the ears will not work, because even a blind man has a desire to see, a deaf man has a desire to hear, and a person who has lost taste in the tongue has a desire to eat. Desire cannot be absent merely because the organs are not operating.

This is the reason why we must understand, first of all, what sense control is. It is the reverting of the very consciousness of wanting a thing through the sense organs, and universalising it. A particularising tendency of the sense organs is to be absorbed into a universalising tendency of mental perception. Rather than thinking through a particular sense organ, we should think purely in terms of the mind, proper. Pure reason, uncontaminated by the influence of sensations, should be our guide.

But, where is the pure reason? It does not operate at all; it is dead already. Usually, our reason corroborates and confirms the reports supplied to it by the sense organs. If the sensations say, "It is like this," the reason says, "Yes, it is like that." The reason cannot operate impersonally, in a detached way. But there are occasions when the reason can operate in an independent manner – for instance, your feeling that you would like to be much better than what you are now. This is a rational operation; the senses do not tell you like that. No sense organ can tell you that it is better to be more than what you are. It is the pure reason that is operating when telling you that you are a finite individual, and you would like to break this finitude. The sensations will not tell that; they are satisfied with finitude. But you have got an internal higher buddhi, or intelligence proper, uncontaminated by the reports of the sense organs, which tells you, like a good friend, that you are not so important as you think you are. You are a finite non-entity. You are helpless. Your very existence as a finite is due to the cooperation of other finites, like many donkeys joining together and forming a good United Nations organisation; it will not help you.

The reason is still alive in every one of us; only, it is submerged by the impetuous activities of the sense organs that run outward, while the reason moves upward. The reason moves upward in the sense that it tells you that there is something higher than what you are. The Infinite does necessarily exist, and this conviction follows from the very acceptance of the fact that you are limited and located in one place. You do not feel happy because you are locked up in one location. You do not like to feel that you are just one Tom, Dick and Harry among many other people. You would like to be much more than this.

This desire to be more than what you are is an activity of the higher reason. You are aware that you will die one day, but the higher reason says that it is good not to die and you must find out some means of perpetuating yourself eternally. This is the reason's longing. But the senses interfere: "Keep quiet! You will die one day, and you cannot become immortal." There is a clash between the higher reason, which is our real friend, and the turbulent sense organs. The senses know that the body will perish one day, but the reason tells us that there is something in us which is more than the perishable element.

How can such a desire to become deathless arise in a world where everything is dying? Every person goes; no one lives forever. In such a world of utter destruction, how is it possible for anyone to develop a tendency to expect deathlessness?

There is a universalising force operating within us, an ishvarabrahman, we may say, as an undercurrent of the activity of the externalising process. We know very well that we will perish together with other perishing objects, but still we have a hope that we shall be better: "Even if I take another birth, I would like to be a better person in the next birth." This is the desire. Nobody thinks that one should be worse in the next birth. If possible, I shall be wider, larger, tending to infinitude." These are the voices of the higher reason. It is the atma shakti getting reflected through the perspicacious intelligence in us, which we call the intellect.

The intellect is of two kinds, the lower and the higher – ashuddha buddhi, and shuddha buddhi. Shuddha buddhi is the transparent intellectuality, the rationality which reflects the cosmic operations in their integrated form, whereas the lower one reflects the diversity seen by the sense organs.

We are simultaneously living in two worlds - the world of phenomenality, and the world of noumenality. We are in the world of eternity, and in the world of time; we are in the world of death, and at the same time in the world of immortality. Viveka shakti, vichara shakti, the capacity to investigate into the truth of the matter in this fashion, is the precondition of attempting to sit and meditate. Unless the mind is free from the muddle of confused thinking, concentration will not be possible. People complain that their mind is not concentrating. How will it concentrate when the reason is dead, the senses are active, and the body is impetuous?

The inward restraint of these kinds of forces that are contrary to the injunctions of our higher reason is the tapas that we have to practise. Tapas is not a torture; it is an educational process. When you study more and more, and learn things larger and larger in their comprehension, your educational career rises from one level to another level; you move towards larger universalities. A person who is sufficiently educated can think in general terms, but a person who is not so trained will think only in particular terms. He says, "My land, my property, everything is mine." When he says "mine", he means only this bodily individuality.

But a person who is properly educated in the art of generalised principles can draw conclusions of a universal nature from particular instances. That person will be able to generalise the mental activity also, and then it is possible that the mind will yield. Unless the mind is satisfied, it cannot be made to work in any direction. An unsatisfied servant cannot do any work. You should see that the mind is not unsatisfied. It should not feel that you are bullying it, belabouring it, or cudgeling it; that will not work.

The mind has to be trained by an educational method, an application of reason which is called viveka and vichara, the investigative capacity. Perpetually, we should be engaged in trying to probe into the structure of experience, like a scientist in a laboratory – the more he discovers, the less he is satisfied; he wants to know more and more things. Distant things look near, afterwards; particularised, located things appears as pervading everywhere when we generalise things.

In this way, gradually, by effort of days and months and years, we must come back to ourselves. As I mentioned yesterday, coming back to ourselves is the most difficult thing ever. That which is far away can easily be seen and understood, but a thing that is nearer cannot easily be understood, and the nearest thing is your own self. So, you cannot control yourself.

The most turbulent, repressive element in us is our own selves. We can be masters of everybody, but we cannot be masters of our own selves because here, in our case, we are the teacher as well as the taught; we are the schoolmaster and the classroom, at the same time. It is the mind that becomes the investigator and the teacher, and it is the very object that is to be investigated and studied. The mind is the subject and the object at the same time during self-analysis. As nobody can understand how one and the same thing can be subject and object, it is not possible to handle the mind so easily.

It requires satsanga. Good things should be dinned into our ears every day. Wherever you go, you should see and hear only good things. If you are not able to hear good things, go to a place where you hear good things, because the habit of inundating the mind with good information adds to the strength of the mind in the direction of universalised perception.

Avyabdhipanan mahatah sumero unmulanad api api vanyajanat sadho vishavat chitta nigrahah. This is the advice given by Sage Vasishtha to Ramachandra in the Yoga Vasishtha: "Do not be under the impression that you can subdue yourself. You can subdue anybody else, but not yourself. You can drink the whole ocean, you can simply shake the whole Himalayas; it is possible. You can drink fire, but not control the mind, because who are you to control the mind? You yourself are the mind." The controlling activity becomes inoperative, because here the controller is the same as the thing that is to be controlled.

It is self-inwardisation, also known as self-analysis, tending towards self-consciousness, with the aim of Self-realisation. That art of the higher reason which is purified of the dross of sensory desires will help us. Years of effort may be necessary.

You have to learn the art of being alone to yourself. I have mentioned all this in the earlier days. Do not be always thinking of other people. You are sufficient unto yourself. You are your own strength, and you are your own failing. All that is necessary for you is hidden inside you. You have only to bring it out. This conviction that all potency, all power, and all that is necessary is hiddenly present in our mind will convince the mind that it has a self-sufficient comprehensiveness, and it can be happy wherever it is. If you can convince yourself, then you can be happy wherever you are, under any circumstances, because all that you need is potentially present within you, and you can summon it at any moment. If you cannot believe this, if you think that your welfare lies in others' hands, in other things, then the mind will go outwardly with the impulse of creation.

The liberation of the spirit, called moksha, is capable of demanding the greatest price. What does God want from you? It is not some banana, not some kichiri, not some prasad, apples and jam; no, because these things that you are offering to God do not belong to you.

What really belongs to you should be offered, and what really belongs to you is your own self. Self-sacrifice, or self-surrender is the act that pleases the Universal Being. No amount of study of the Vedas, no austerity, no study of books, no charity, no philanthropy, and no goodness that you can consider worthwhile in the social sense can touch the spirit, which is unrelated to everybody else. 'Unrelated' effort is the word. Any amount of thinking in terms of relationship with another thing weakens the mind. You have to think independently by yourself, as an all-inclusive force, sufficient unto yourself – you are complete in yourself, and you do not want anything else; you are happy with what you are, not with what you have.

Do not be satisfied with what you are, but be satisfied with what you have. Be satisfied with what you have, but do not easily be satisfied with what you are, because you cannot know what you are. Various shapes will be seen in what you are, and they will be kaleidoscopic, chameleon-like pictures, and you can misguide yourself by imagining that you are a perfected being. Be humble before yourself, with humility, utter self-negation, and self-satisfaction, and not wanting anything outside. Belief in the perfection that is hidden in one's own self will bend the mind in the direction of perfection.