The Problems of Spiritual Life
by Swami Krishnananda

December 11, 1990 a.m.

Larry: What is good, and what is evil?

SWAMIJI: Whatever you have understood, you tell me. What do you mean by good and evil, according to your studies? What exactly is it?

Larry: What I understood was that while the world, the way we experience it, cannot be other than a manifestation of God, we still experience ourselves as separate from God. We experience ourselves as individuals and because we experience ourselves as individuals, we have likes and dislikes; we experience likes and dislikes, we experience opposites. In the end, I understood that good and evil are the same—that all of it comes from God.

SWAMIJI: Good and evil are the same? How do you say they are the same?

Larry: Good and evil are the same in the sense that everything, every experience we have, is from God—is a result of God's world unfolding.

SWAMIJI: If every experience is from God, how do you make a choice between right and wrong?

Larry: The choices, according to the Jewish perspective, are that you are given guidance through the Torah.

SWAMIJI: Forget the Torah, now. I am asking you directly. How do you make a choice?

Larry: How do I make a choice? Or, how does one make a choice in the Jewish perspective?

SWAMIJI: From your perspective, not the Jewish. Yes, from your perspective. If both are coming from God, they will be identical. One will be identical with the other, and then choice cannot arise.

Larry: We have innate responses. If I see something that I think is bad . . .

SWAMIJI: Why do you call it bad? You see, you have contradicted your earlier statement that it comes from God.

Larry: Yes, but two things come from God. You see, you are asking me what my personal reaction is, but I can't give you . . .

SWAMIJI: You cannot be outside the perspective of correctness.

Larry: You asked me what the Jewish perspective of good and bad is . . .

SWAMIJI: Is your perspective different from the Jewish perspective?

Larry: Yes.

SWAMIJI: Then, why did you study Jewish philosophy? You are studying unnecessary things, which are not connected with you.

Larry: I feel (for one reason or the other) I have been connected to the Jewish religion.

SWAMIJI: You see, as an academic exercise, you can study anything. There is nothing wrong with it. But for your practical purposes, what is the conclusion? That is what I am asking. Listen to me.

Larry: I haven't drawn my conclusions yet.

SWAMIJI: I understand. My question was simple: Is it true that both good and evil come from God, or are your making a mistake in your statement?

Larry: Is it true that good and evil come from God? I believe it is true.

SWAMIJI: Does God create evil?

Larry: God creates the circumstances that appear to me to be evil.

SWAMIJI: You are a lawyer, and talk like a lawyer. You want to protect God somehow from any imputation of evil to Him.

Larry: To me, there appears to be evil. From God's perspective, if God is perfect . . .

SWAMIJI: You are arguing on behalf of God as a client. You don't want to give any trouble to Him unnecessarily.

Larry: That's true. That's where you have to tell me who I am being retained to act for.

SWAMIJI: How much fee have you received from God?

Larry: My daily existence.

SWAMIJI: You are perfectly right. Both forces which you call as good and evil emanate from a single source—like day and night, for instance. You cannot say day and night are two things. It is one thing only, looking like two things. You cannot keep day somewhere and night in another place; that is not possible. It is one compact phenomenon, which looks partially like day and partially like night. Who creates day and who creates night? Can you say the sun is the cause of night? If the sun is the cause of day, he may be the cause of night also, because due to some phenomenon connected with the sun, night takes place. Nevertheless, you cannot say the sun is sitting there and creating nights. It is an automatic correlative of a particular situation that looks like dark night on the one side and bright day on the other side.

Good and evil do not exist in the kingdom of God; they exist only in a realm that is much below, and the concept itself involves a duality of perception. God sees with one eye, whereas we see with two eyes. God's vision is integral and the ethical mandates, the do's and don'ts of religion and morality, arise on account of a perception of one phenomenon as two phenomena.

We always say that there is day and there is night, while I would like to say there is no such thing as day on one side and night on another side. Something is happening, of which one aspect looks like day and another aspect looks like night. Now, you can say something is good and something is bad. Like children, we make a statement that day is good and night is bad. There is no harm in making this statement, but it is not true that night is bad and day is good. Who can say that night is bad? Let there be no night—we should have only day, eternally. Will it be all right? We will perish if there is only day without night. And suppose there is only night without day; then also we will not survive. So, two aspects blend together to create a phenomenon of an experience which looks dualistic, while it is integral from its own point of view.

Any impact upon consciousness—listen to me, lawyer! Any impact upon consciousness which will sunder it into a dualistic perception of subject and object with emphasis laid on one side more than the other can be regarded as not correct, if you want to use an ethical word here. Any impact upon consciousness which will enable you to see an integral phenomenon operating between both the subjective side and the objective side can be regarded as correct and right.

When I see you and you see me, it looks as if A is seeing B, and B is seeing A. This is the dualistic perception, as they call it. But there is another factor that is always bypassed in this process. My perception of you and your perception of me is neither my act nor your act. I am not seeing you and you are not seeing me. There is a consciousness between us which keeps the balance between the perceiver and the perceived, and observes both of us. That is why it is possible for a simultaneous perception of you by me, and of me by you. This vision, the so-called dualistic perception of the subject by the object, or the object by the subject, is a phenomenon created by a transcendental consciousness operating between both. But, anything that emphasises one side only is not right perception.

You need not use the words 'sin', 'evil', 'bad', 'ugly' and all that, because they are not very pleasant to hear. We can only say that there are proper and improper ways of perception. Anything that is contributory towards the movement of consciousness to an integral perception between the subject and the object is right, and anything that is opposed to it is not.

There is an illusion, and so you are asking a question like that. God does not create evil and, therefore, He also does not create illusion. It is only a mistaken squinted-eye perception. I told you earlier, a straight pencil looks dented when you dip it in a glass of water.

Larry: Yet He created my eyes to see it this way.

SWAMIJI: He did not create anything. God never creates anything outside Himself.

Larry: All right, but my eyes are there that see it this way.

SWAMIJI: It is something like a paralytic stroke of consciousness. It is a severing of a part of consciousness from the whole that creates all these problems.

Larry: But why was it necessary to do that?

SWAMIJI: It was not necessary, and finally you will find that it has not taken place also; it never happened. You will realise that you are under a delusion that it has taken place, and you will answer that question only after it goes out. You are asking in dream, "Why should I wake up?" because there is no such thing as waking for you when you are dreaming. Only when you wake up will you know that something has happened, and you will not ask a question afterwards.

Consciousness that is bound cannot know why it is bound, because the moment it knows it, it is no more bound. It is like seeing darkness with a torchlight. If you want to seek darkness, will you flash a torchlight and see it? You will find that darkness is not there when light is there. The light of knowledge will abolish the very question itself, so you cannot have a question answered. The question is darkness and you are flashing a light of knowledge over it and you will find the question vanishing immediately.

There is a story. They say that night went to God and cried, "The sun is pursuing me wherever I go, and I have no place to stay."

Brahma (the creator) called the sun and asked, "Why are you pursuing the poor darkness?"

The sun said, "I have never seen it. And how will I pursue it? Unnecessary complaints." He said, "I have never seen the thing." So, likewise is this question, why has God created the world. You are assuming that He has created, and is then unnecessarily pursuing it. It is like the sun pursuing darkness; it never existed. He said, "I never committed the mistake of pursuing darkness. I never saw it. Why are you making complaints?"

Like that, knowledge will tell you that these questions do not exist to knowledge and, therefore, you should not bring knowledge in confrontation with ignorance. The moment knowledge confronts ignorance, ignorance ceases. This means to say, your questions cannot be answered through knowledge; they can be answered through ignorance only. Ignorant questions are answered by ignorant answers. Right knowledge cannot give answers to misconceived questions.

Larry: So are you saying to me that there is no world?

SWAMIJI: There is no world, finally—perfectly correct. Now further don’t talk!

Larry: There’s nobody to talk to.

SWAMIJI: It requires a plumbing into yourself. You go deep into your own self, because you are the answer to your questions. You, yourself are the answer. You will find that every answer comes from inside, which is a universal, bottomless sea, which is what you are. Deep practice of meditation is necessary. Place yourself in the context of that which is between you and that which you see—between that which you are and that which you think in your mind.

Deep meditation and a going into one’s own self—you see, listen. Whenever you think, you always think in a dualistic fashion—you are the thinker and there is a thought that you think; you are the thinker and there is an object that you are thinking of. Neither should you think of yourself, nor should you think of that which appears to be an object of your mind. Let that thing which is between you and the object transfer you to that middle position. Can you transfer your consciousness? Put it here, your consciousness should sit here. Can it sit here? Now it is inside your body. It is operating through the body and you are seeing through the aperture of your eyes and then perceiving a person like me here. You unlock your consciousness which is now tied up within the body, and concentrate in such a way that you are here in the middle, just now.

Larry: Outside my body?

SWAMIJI: Yes; and you are seeing both—not Mr. So-and-so Krauss seeing, it is some non-Krauss which is between both, seeing Krauss on the other side, Krishnananda this side. Then you will see that you are a different man altogether. You become a superman in one second. Now you are a man because you are looking through the medium of your eyes, through this body, at another thing, which is outside; that is man-thinking. Superman-thinking is a thought that is between both the subject and the object, which is transcendent to both subject and object, and also immanent in another way—both transcendent and immanent. A superman thinks in terms of the transcendent that is between the subject and the object, whereas the human mind thinks only of one side and cuts itself off from that which it perceives. So we should try to think like supermen and not simply like men.

Men cannot answer human questions. No man can answer man’s questions. Every man is like any other man; there is no difference. But there is a superhuman element in man that transcends human thought and which is above both the perceiver and the perceiving consciousness. It is a big circus feat, a feat that you have to perform in your consciousness. It is not the usual way of thinking, but it is a very, very necessary way of thinking, if you want to be impartial in your thoughts and happy in your mind. Otherwise, you will be always one-sided. Your balance will be swinging this side or that side and it will never be equalised.

Larry: But the moment I place myself in that position . . .

SWAMIJI: You will see neither yourself nor the world at that time. You will see something connecting both. Almost it is like God-vision. It is almost here on the lap of God, if you think like that. God is a balance between the subject and the object. That is God, and God is nothing but consciousness. So if you can think, if you can operate your consciousness as that which subsists between the seer and the seen, you are actually on the lap of God. Almost it is God-thinking, and you cease to be a person afterwards. It will transform you to such an extent (this exercise which I am mentioning to you) that if you can do it for even a few minutes consistently, with deep thought and intensity, in a few minutes you will find some tremendous vibration taking place in your personality and you will not be the same man that you were a little before. It will rejuvenate your personality physically, mentally, even socially. You will be a different individual. People will see ‘something’ in you. The moment they look at your face they will know there is ‘something’, some value is coming—because it is not a man that is coming. It is another thing that is coming through this personality of man.

I am telling all this because here a little practice is necessary. You need not read too much and discuss too much. The matter is simple. The proof of the pudding is in its eating. You have to eat it; that is all—otherwise you go on discussing about the pudding and there is no purpose. So, I request you to do some practice every day and try to think only along these lines. Let there be no other way of thinking. This is your habit; in your personal life, in you social life, in you legal life, whatever life, you think only along these lines. This is your way of thinking; give up the old way of thinking which is a dichotomy between subject and object, where you are obliged to take sides. You either take the subjective side or the objective side; you cannot strike a balance. It is very difficult because the habit of the mind is to get locked up in the body of one’s own self and then have some like or dislike, love or aversion to another body. It is a kind of malady. The consciousness locked up in a body is in a state of malady. It is sick actually; it is suffering, and so all our thoughts are a kind of sick thought. It is not natural and normal thought. So, neither are we happy nor can we make another person happy. A kind of total transformation of values is necessary by rethinking in a new model altogether, so that you don’t think through the body but through a way which is away from the body.

In the Yoga of Patanjali, there is a beautiful, very much neglected sutra (sutra means aphorism). People neither read it nor understand it. “The great consciousness is that which is outside the body.” That is all the translation of the sutra. When he speaks of ‘outside’, he actually means ‘free from the shackles of bodily encasement’, which is another way of mentioning just what I told you now. You are not sitting there; when I say ‘you’ I mean the consciousness. This Mr. consciousness-Krauss, whatever it is, is sitting inside this so-called body. Let it come out of this body and sit here on this carpet and look at it, and you become your own object and your attachment to the body ceases. Now you are thinking that you are a physical subject, so the consciousness clings to the body to such an extent that you think nothing but your own body. Let that thing which you now consider as your physical subject be an object, and you will be as much detached from it as you are detached from any other person sitting here—because you are not this; you are another thing that is looking at you. And you will look at yourself in the same way as you look at other people.

You are not concerned with the fate of these people here; you won’t bother; and you will also not be concerned with this body at that time, because you are another than what you appeared to be earlier. You are as much an object as anybody else. But why should you consider yourself a subject? That is the whole point; that is the mistake. That exercise is possible only if you are able to concentrate as this Patanjali sutra says: Transfer yourself to a position which is not the body—wider than the body—between the subject and the object, transcending both, and yet immanent in both. You become a God-man. You will not be a man at all. You will be something other than the ordinary human.

Larry: Is there no significance to one’s personality?

SWAMIJI: The personality will be taken care of by that which includes both this personality and the other—like the body taking care of two hands. You need not ask the right hand, “What is your connection with the left hand, sir?” You need not have to put questions like that, because the right hand belongs to that to which the left hand also belongs; so the body will take care of both. The subject belongs to that to which the object also belongs, and that particular thing is what I am emphasising, which is the real you. So, everything will be taken care of automatically. No problem will arise.

Larry: It still begs one question for me. What was the point in the first place of having individual personalities?

SWAMIJI: You are asking the question, why it took place. It will be known to you when you transcend this body; when you are above this body you will know the answer to this question. Again I told you, you are flashing a torchlight on ignorance. You cannot know ignorance through knowledge; they are contradictories. The question is a part of ignorance and the answer that you expect is a part of knowledge. As they are contradictories, one cannot know the other. You cannot see dream in waking; you cannot know waking in dream. Both cannot be simultaneously existing. So, theoretical questions are of no utility. You will find that in practice you will get the answer. The whole problem will vanish like mist before the sun, if you can concentrate properly. There is no need of questioning. It will solve itself automatically.

Sarah: All the wisdom that a person gets while in the body, through suffering, through personal growth, through maturity—what is the worth of that? Does it have any worth?

SWAMIJI: Yes, through that only you are thinking now; otherwise, how will you think? The knowledge has arisen gradually by the process of evolution from the lower stages to the higher stages, and now the stage that you have reached is the human stage. What I am referring to is something beyond the human stage.

Sarah: So you can only get to the human stage when you are always within the body.

SWAMIJI: Already you have reached the human stage, and you are now thinking through the human mind, but you have to think through the divine mind. That is what I am referring to. There is a stage higher than the human way of thinking, which is the divine way of thinking. But we have not reached that state yet. We think only as human beings, but there is a way of thinking which is not human—superhuman—that is what I was mentioning just now. Of course, it has gradually evolved from the lower stage and it has come through the body. You are perfectly right. From mineral to plant, plant to animal, animal to man, man to God—that is how it will rise gradually.

Sarah: And you only get to the divine way of thinking through meditation and deep thought, right?

SWAMIJI: Meditation. Yes, certainly. Yes, yes, perfectly right.