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An Introduction to the Philosophy of Yoga
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 4: The Search Within

It requires to be emphasised again – because it is easily forgotten – that our studies are not a mugging up of information from books. We are not inmates of a school where we are students in the classroom and animals outside. This is not our aim. Let alone the possibility of living as animals, each one trying to pounce on the other. It is not even enough if we live merely as human beings. There is no need for instruction that we should not be animals, but it requires an instruction to tell us that it is not enough if we live merely as human beings.

There is always a distinction between our laboratory life and our public life. We are scientists in the laboratories, but commonplace persons in the shops, in the railway stations, and the bus-stands. This is the outcome of our learning in colleges, in universities, in institutions. Wherever we are, we are fed up with this kind of life, and that is why we are trying to find a little time, if it is possible, to think in a different manner. It is easy to study. There are countless schools in the world and the result of all the studies is an upsurge of emotions and feelings in the minds of people, a veritable warfare perpetually threatening to take place, so that it is difficult to say if one person, at least, sleeps soundly in the night, with freedom from all anxiety. We have seen this, and we know this, and we are in the midst of this atmosphere. We are tired of it to the core and we realise that there is a basic error in our way of living and thinking, due to which all our studies look like a blank. These have led us nowhere.

To find out where the mistake lies, we are here not to study the Upanishads or the Bible. We may read the scriptures a hundred times; we would be the same persons. Nothing will change in our personality. It is not study in that sense that we are thinking of here. We have enough of people who have studied more than many of us. But there has been no desirable effect of these studies, except that we carry a burden on the head of a lot of information, and often of some rubbish which keeps us in a state of a fattened egoism and an empty soul.

If we are not able to be serious in regard to our own selves, how can we be serious in regard to the world outside? Who would like to go deliberately into the pit of hell? This possibility is there, on account of our missing the point in the life that we live. What do we see? We see people outside. Do we see people in the same way as anybody else sees? Even a pig sees people and we also see people outside us. But is there a difference between the pig seeing and our seeing? If there is no difference, it should be a travesty of affairs, that we should call ourselves cultured, educated. If our eyes are made like pig eyes and if there has been no transformation in the values of life with our studies, and we live in the same way as anyone else lives, then, it is high time that we should retrace our steps from our advance in the pursuit of the so-called studies and strike a retrospective view of what is wrong with us. We need not be under the impression that our studies are inadequate and therefore we are unhappy. We might have studied very well; nobody denies that, but those studies had evidently no meaning, no purpose, no substance in them.

After a bath given to the elephant, the elephant remains the same, with dust thrown on its body. Likewise, it is obvious that the perspective of life has not changed, for it cannot easily change as long as we see with our present eyes and cannot have another eye. If it is possible for us to see things with another eye altogether, other than the two eyes that we have been using right from our childhood, then our attempts may yield a value and a meaning. But if we persist seeing with the same two eyes, naturally we will see the same things. If we use the same telescope or the same microscope, we will see the same thing as before. But can we change this telescope or the microscope and see things differently, in the way they are really stationed, and not in the way they appear through the instruments of our eyes? We have to be honest to our own selves, for it is easy to deceive ourselves. It may be a little difficult to deceive others, but we can very easily go out of the track, due to the vagaries of the mind.

Our purpose in undertaking these studies, if they are to be worth the while, is quite different from the studies which people generally undergo through textbooks and in classrooms of institutions devoted to the several arts and sciences of the world. Ours may look like a classroom, from the point of view of its physical structure, but it is not supposed to be merely that. We are supposed to get up from here with a new spirit in our minds. But if the spirit is the same as the one that came an hour before, drooping and sinking and complaining and seeing ugliness and animosity and the diversities which are common to human perception, which has the undercurrent of even animal values, then we should be sorry for ourselves and not at the world that is.

This was a point of view which was emphasised before, viz., that we should be cautious with regard to ourselves, and it is useless to be merely observant of what is happening outside in the world. There is a maladjustment and an upsetting of the sense of values in our own minds, due to which we are in a very unenviable position. We are in search of facts and truths and realities, and we have not found anything of this kind. Everything is moving, everything is passing, everything is changing, and our ideas about things also change. We have discovered nothing of value or reality in the world.

We have tried our best to probe into the nature of things outside in the world. We have seen nothing, we have only hit our heads against the walls. We have stones and trees in front of us, not values which are worth considering and which are going to do us any good in the true sense of the term.

We noticed that this external search lands us in a failure, finally, because of the simple reason that the things we see are outside of us. A thing that is really 'outside' cannot come in contact with us, because we have already dubbed it as an 'outsider'. A thing that is external to us cannot become a part of our knowledge.

What is knowledge? It is an assimilation of the object into the consciousness. If I assimilate you in my consciousness, I know you, but if you stand outside as a stranger to me, as an object which is totally independent of me, I cannot know you. All knowledge is participation in the content thereof. Participation implies our capacity to enter into the nature of the object and the capacity in the object to enter into the nature of our being, our knowledge; that is mutual assimilation of the nature of things. If I stand outside you totally and you stand outside me wholly, there would be no concourse between the two. I cannot know you and you cannot know me.

This is what has happened to the scientific observations of modern times. If science is an observation of objects, regarding them as objects having nothing to do with the subjects which observe them, then, science cannot give us knowledge. It can only give us descriptive information, the length and the breadth, the weight and the mass, the form and the colour, etc., of an object. I cannot know you, even if I know your height and weight, your girth, colour, shape, geometrical feature, or the chemical structure of your body. All these I may know, yet I would have not known you.

To know you physically, chemically and biologically is not to know you, because physically, chemically, and biologically, one would be the same as the other. The same substance is in each person, each thing – the earth, water, fire, air and ether are the components of the physical body of each and every individual in the world, so that to study one body would be equal to studying any other body. Why are there many people and many things, if everything is equal in bodily structure? The scientific observation is tentatively useful for our physical and social life, but it is not real knowledge; by it nothing can be known, not even one atom, truly if it is 'outside'.

This world outside is a fantastic world. It has a tremendous, fearsome significance, for anything that is outside is a source of fear, anxiety and insecurity. There is a great saying in the Upanishad that fear is caused by duality. Our fear is because there is another outside us, and as long as there is an 'other', we will have to be in a state of sorrow caused by the fear. And the fear is born of the fact that there is something independent of us, vying with us in reality and claiming equal status with us. There may be even one grain of sand there, but we cannot tolerate its presence, if it is outside us. We feel irksome that something is there totally alien.

Suppose you are in the midst of a society where people are aliens; you feel very uncomfortable. You have to get out from that place and go to an atmosphere where people are more friendly. You like friendliness and not 'foreign' characters. And what is friendliness? It is a tendency to assimilation of the one into the other. Friendliness is a social word, a term signifying the inclination of an individual to enter into the being of another. You have not actually entered into the being of another, no doubt, but there is a tendency, at least, and that is called friendliness. We have an aptitude to enter into our kith and kin. We might not have taken even the first step, but we have a desire, nevertheless, to take that step in the direction of our becoming a part of the friend's being. That is love, that is affection, that is friendliness. But if that tendency is absent, we wish to withdraw our being from others' being. That is the opposite of love, affection and friendliness. So, the tendency of friendliness is also the tendency to unite oneself with the desired object of perception.

All love longs for the union of the subject with the object. It cannot really unite itself, and that is why loves are frustrated for various reasons. It is not possible for us to get into union with anything, ultimately. But there is a desire to be united with things. That desire is what we call love and unselfishness. The desire to exceed ourselves into the region of another is love. We do not want to be locked up in our own bodies; unselfishness is the desire to go out of our bodies and enter into the bodies of other things.

We cannot achieve this purpose easily. We cannot enter into the body of anything, but we have a desire. This desire is what is called love and love indicates the possibility, under given circumstances, of such a union. Under certain conditions the union is actually effected. This is what we are going to study. Under what conditions is it possible for us to unite ourselves with things? Normally, this is not possible, because the structure of the physical world is such that it will not permit this union. There is what we call space which will not allow the unity of any two objects. There is the time factor, there is causality, there are social prejudices and personal ambitions, all which cut the ground from under one's feet at the very outset.

But that it should be certainly possible is proved by our own urges inside and our longing to achieve this aim. We have tried our best to conquer nature, to know nature, to become one with nature, to harness the powers of nature and be in union with nature. Science has made this attempt but has not succeeded, because, unfortunately, nature has always managed to remain as an outside object to the scientific observer. Like the horizon that recedes the more we go near it, the objects of the scientist – call them electrons or whatever they are – recede and elude the grasp of the observer. Nobody has understood what an electron is even today, because it is outside, and how can anyone know it?

Here we are with inconclusive researches of the objective approach of science. We have not found reality in science. We have not found it anywhere in the world. Then what is the way out? As we noticed, we can look at things from three angles. We look outside. We look inside. We look above. These are the three ways of looking at things. Now, we have already looked outside and found nothing, at least nothing satisfactory.

Let us look inside and see what is there. This is the subjective approach, quite the other side of the objective method of science. What do we see when we turn our gaze within? We see ourselves. Let us close our eyes and see what is there. We do not see anything outside; we see our personality and begin to wonder what it is made of. What am I? The search for an answer to this question is the subjective approach of psychology.

Now, let us see what comes out of this search. Are we going to be landed in the same unfortunate situation of the external approach, or does something else come out? We see the body when we look inside ourselves. We see the physiological and anatomical structure of the body, the skin and the bones, the flesh and the marrow, the blood and the various biological features of the physical body.

If I ask you, "Who are you?" you will say, "I am the son or daughter of so and so, the brother or sister," and something like that would be your definition of yourself. By all these definitions you mean that you are a body; that is all. It means nothing else. Otherwise, how are you a son or daughter of some body? It has no meaning except in the sense that you are a body. But let us see whether we are able to see only this much, and nothing further.

Are we living only as bodies and nothing else? Let us give everything to the body and see if we are satisfied. We have our breakfast and lunch and we have dinner, and we have a good sleep. What else do we want for the body? We will be given all these things, food and clothing and a house to live in. These are the things that the body requires, and the body is happy. But do we say that we are satisfied with this alone? No, these are not the things that people require merely. It is not just food and clothing and shelter that we need. They may be the requirements of our body. They may be necessities, no doubt, but these are not enough.

People with all these things are still searching for some other thing. There are people – we call them well-to-do people – who have got all these physical amenities. But they are still in search of some other relief. The reason is that their physical needs have not satisfied them, because they are not merely physical bodies. They have something else within them, which also needs a certain type of food, as the body requires material food.

What are we, then, other than the body? If we go deep into the body, we will find nothing there, except physical structure. By an amputation, or an operation on the physical body, one will see nothing inside the body, except the physical matter only in some layer. It is when we probe into a different state of our existence, through which we are almost daily passing, that we will be able to discover some other element of personality in us than the physical body, e.g., dream. In dreams, our physical bodies do not take part and yet we have an independent existence in dream, just as we have an independent existence in the waking condition. Now, did we exist in dream? Yes, we did exist. What was there? Not the physical body. What else? Well, very strange, we do find something else there. We had only the mind.

That we existed as a mind in dream is obvious. This does not require much explanation or commentary. We had joys and sorrows in dream, similar to those we experience in waking. We were exactly the same in dream as we were in waking, for all practical purposes of experience. We saw things, we encountered various phenomena, we were happy or unhappy, in the same way as we had such experience in the waking condition. So, it means that we can have, even independent of the body, the same kind of experiences as we have with the body, through the body, in terms of the body. The bodily existence or non-existence is not going to make a difference to the experiences of another layer of our personality which can independently exist and with which we can identify ourselves.

The phenomenon of dream demonstrates that we are more than a body and we can exist without the body. In dream we existed without any connection with the body, and we passed through all the experiences of waking independent of the body. The body was used only as an instrument, but it was not our real personality.

What are we, really? What do we discover when we probe into our own selves? We realise that we are a mind rather than a body. This is the reason why we are not satisfied even if we have plenty of money, a lot of food and clothing, large gardens and palatial buildings. With all these physical comforts, we cannot be satisfied, because we are not merely a physical body – a son, a daughter. We are a mind; that is why we are unhappy. It is not the body that is unhappy or is dissatisfied. It has everything – it eats well, it sleeps well; what is the difficulty with the body? Why is it that we are still unhappy?

The unhappiness comes from the mind and not from the body. All our difficulties are mental, not so much physical. Such emphasis is laid on this mental life of man that, it appears, compared to it, physical comfort is almost nothing. If our mind is satisfied, we will not bother much about physical amenities. There are various avenues of mental satisfaction which can overwhelm the requirements of even the physical body and this, again, does not require much of an analysis or study, for everyone knows what it means. If we are immensely happy for some reason, which state has lifted us up from the physical level, we forget our breakfast, and lunch, and sleep, and everything else. Satisfaction is a mental condition.

We are happy for reasons other than physical, and in some other world are we then. That world is a psychological world, a mental realm. If the mind is satisfied, the physical world can give us not much substance. We are all, in fact, searching for something psychical, intellectual, emotional, volitional, rational. If our reason is satisfied, the physical needs almost amount to a zero, but with all the physical amenities, if the reason is dissatisfied, they amount to a zero again. We are rational beings, rather than physical bodies.

This is an interesting observation that we make when we go deeper into our own personalities. We are minds, we are intellects, we are emotions, we are wills, and we are reasons. Until we satisfy the psychic nature of ours with its requirements, the physical world cannot make us happy with all the goods that it has. Nothing that is material can give us entire satisfaction. Material satisfaction is set at naught in a second by mental dissatisfaction. It is useless to harp upon physical needs too much, under the impression that they are the causes of our sorrows. The physical conditions are not the sources of anxiety. Our mental structure has not been provided with its needs, its requirements. The mind longs for some thing, in the same way as the body needs some thing, and the mental needs are more significant, more important than the physical ones.

The ego is a part of the psychic world. Our sense of individual being is not a physical sense. It is a psychic centre. "I am so-and-so, I am such-and-such – this kind of assertion is not a physical act. It is not the body making this affirmation. When you are annoyed, you say, "What do you think I am?" You look up; gazing at the other. "What do you think you are?" These arrogant statements arise not from the body; they are arrogations fuming up like a volcano from the psychic individuality within. It asks for food in the same way as we ask for bread for the body. The food of the ego is what people are asking for, and the ego has not been able to obtain it, with all the foods that one has physically, materially. The ego is starving, and so we are unhappy.

Man wants to swallow the whole world, if it could be possible. Behold the audacity of a dictator, a terrorising despot, or an out-and-out egoistic, self-affirmative person. People whose ego is at its heights would like to masticate the world and digest it, so that they alone exist and other things do not exist before them. The desire of the ego is to destroy the world, because the affirmation of the ego is equivalent to an intolerance in regard to the presence of other egos. One ego cannot be the friend of another ego. It wants to destroy the other, somehow, and therefore one is irksome, much agitated if one sees another person like oneself. One wants to put down that person by some hook or crook. One cannot tolerate a person equal to oneself. The other must be inferior always; that is the glutting glory of the ego.

We may not be consciously feeling that the ego is there at all. But it is present as a secret urge. We are yet to see why the ego is operating in this manner. Why is this ego operating in this manner that it cannot tolerate an other than itself? What is the devil that is working inside? What is the harm if another person also exists? But this is not possible for some important reason, which is outside the vision of ordinary observation. For some strange reason the ego cannot bear the sight of other egos. It cannot tolerate the presence of even the world outside; it wants to control it and subdue it and make it its own, superintend over it, and wants to be a master. This is the desire of the autocrats, the dominating rulers, the despots, the apotheosis of ego.

We have a tremendous world inside us. And it is not so simple as that. We are not the little persons we seem to be. We have a hidden submarine content inside our personalities. This is to give a short outline of the psychic world which is our area of functioning, and of which we are citizens. We are not citizens merely of this physical world. We are also inhabitants of the psychic world. Thus, this is a psychic relationship of ours with other people, due to which we are, either this way or that way, related to this person or that person, positively or negatively, with pleasure, pain or indifference attending.

We are denizens of a psychic world and not merely of a social world of Indians and Americans, Russians and Japanese, etc. We are in a different world inwardly and that world is as much real as, if not more real than, the physical world. With the bare analysis that we have made, we can realise that the physical world is, before this psychic world, far less significant than the credit it receives. If the psychic world is well, the physical world follows suit with it. The physical values lose much of their significance before the insistances that are psychic, rational, intellectual and emotional. Perception, inference, doubt, memory, love, hatred, attachment to life, fear of death, are all phases of the psychic individuality.

This is an aspect of psychology, which reveals itself when we analyse ourselves deeper than our physical personality. The physical body is made up of the five elements – earth, water, fire, air, ether. All are that, I am that, and every one is that; even the tree is made up of these five elements, and the stone is that. Everything is just the five elements. So, materially or physically, no difference can be observed among things. But we see difference among people. This has to be attributed not to the shapes of the bodies, but to the minds which are different in each individual. I do not think as you think, and you do not think as I think. That is why we are two different persons. The psychic raw material makes all the difference, and is responsible even for the physical differences.

The difference is not in the physical body, because the bodies are identical in structure. The same flesh, the same blood, the same chemical compounds are present in every body, but there is a difference in the structure of thinking. The whirling of the mind is in different directions in different cases, the current of the movement of the mind varies in different individuals, because of the purposiveness with which the minds move – an observation that we made in regard to living bodies – and, this changes even the nature of the physical components. The purposiveness or the intensive urge from within the psyche of an individual distinguishes it from others and from inanimate matter.

There is a purpose behind the growth of even a tree; it moves in a particular direction and with an aim behind it. Every living being has an intention in the performance of its varied functions and inasmuch as the intention varies from individual to individual, there are different individuals. We are different persons because we are different minds. And why are we different minds? Because a mind is nothing but a particular pattern of thinking. As the pattern of thinking varies, the mind varies, and therefore, people vary. And what is this pattern of thinking? It is a particular direction which the psyche takes, just as a river may take a particular direction. Because of the variety in the direction of the movement of the psyche, there is difference in the intention. The direction and the intention are practically the same, because when the intention is of a particular mode, the mind moves in the same direction. Why is there difference in intention? Why should not all people think in the same way, in the whole world?

Why should we all think differently? Where is the necessity? What is the harm if we all think identically? This is not possible for the same reason which keeps one's ego intolerant of other egos. The ego which works in an affirmative manner intolerant of the presence of other egos is also the reason behind the variety in the intention behind the psyche which keeps everything always apart. I am 'I', you are 'you'. "I mind my business. You mind your business." This is the world. Is there a solution, a remedy for this malady?