The Problems of Spiritual Life
by Swami Krishnananda

December 14, 1990 a.m.

Larry: It has been a good thing to be here. It has been a very good thing, and I only have one question today.

SWAMIJI: That is, slowly, your questions are dwindling. Very good.

Larry: I am not sure. It is either because I am running out of questions because I am giving up, or because I am getting answers. But this is a ‘how’ question. I know you do not like ‘how’ questions so much. But after seeing everything and listening to everything I have listened to this week, how did it happen that I became what I am?

SWAMIJI: You never became. You have not become anything. You are just what you are. If you had actually become something else, you would never have become another thing afterwards. The very fact that you can become something shows that the meaning of ‘becoming’ has to be modified. If A has become B, then B cannot become A afterwards. A can never become B, and A is A only. There is no question of realising God if you have already become a human being. The question does not arise. You cannot contradict what has happened to you. In God-realisation, you are only asserting what is there, and not what is not there. If you have already transformed yourself into a mortal, you will never become an immortal subsequently.

You are already affirming that it has happened. I am telling you that it has not happened and, therefore, affirm that it has not happened. Your destiny is in your hands. But if you say, “I am already a fool,” you cannot become a wise man by asserting a contrary of what you really believe you are. You cannot go against yourself.

Larry: But the question is: How. . .

SWAMIJI: What is ‘how’? You know it well.

Larry: But how is it that I thought I was a fool? How is it that I thought I was so small? It is such a shock to me.

SWAMIJI: You ask only yourself You are asking me why you committed a mistake. Ask yourself. No one asked you to commit a mistake. The question itself is redundant because you are imagining what is not true to your own basic aspiration and nature.

Larry: But that is the question: How did I come to imagine this?

SWAMIJI: In the same way as you saw another thing in dream.

Larry: The answer I have to my question is that it appeared that I was born as a baby, and it appeared that there were people outside of me who were taking care of me and who educated me.

SWAMIJI: Even if it appears, it does not matter. In what way are you affected by that? Let it appear. Does this not happen in dream? How do you assess the value of dream experience? Real? Unreal?

Larry: I grew gradually from a baby to a child.

SWAMIJI: Let all this happen. In what way are you bothered about these matters?

Larry: Because this supported the notion that I am a limited mortal.

SWAMIJI: But it also supports the notion that you are not limited—else, how do you come to know that you are limited?

Larry: How does it support that?

SWAMIJI: Because you cannot be conscious of limitation unless there is an unlimited consciousness behind it. Limited consciousness cannot know that it is limited. The very consciousness of finitude implies the consciousness of that which is above the finite. The implication is the other way round than what you are thinking. It is not possible to be conscious of finitude unless the very consciousness of finitude implies the existence of something that is infinite; otherwise, who is thinking of the finite? The finite cannot know the finite.

Larry: I appreciate that.

SWAMIJI: There is nothing else to speak. Why are you making comments on that?

Larry: Because I am looking at the past.

SWAMIJI: There is no past for that. The Infinite has no past.

Larry: Where did my notions come from, then?

SWAMIJI: From the Infinite.

Larry: My notions of limitation?

SWAMIJI: Yes, the finite is the delimitation of the Infinite. The notion also is a part of the infinitude only. It is not outside somewhere. So, let the notions be there. In what way are you concerned? It is the Infinite thinking that It is finite. Let a genius think that he is a little child and crawl on all fours; he is not losing anything. The Infinite will look like the finite, but It knows that It is not the finite. A wise man can act the part of a buffoon in a drama, but he has not really become one. If you ‘act’ like a fool, no harm. But are you really a fool? That is the whole point. And that cannot be.

Larry: But I think even the wise man who was once a fool would want to know why he was once a fool.

SWAMIJI: He will never raise such a question, because wisdom transcends all crotchets. Why don’t you do something, sir, for your illness, instead of asking questions?

Larry: I’m trying. You don’t have a pill, or something, I can take?

SWAMIJI: If you are sick, and I give medicine, and you are asking me who manufactured it, what is the point? I am not asking you to pay any price; let anybody manufacture it. I have given the pill; you swallow it.

Larry: But it takes time for it to have an effect.

SWAMIJI: It will take immediate effect when you know it is the medicine. What is the good of going to a doctor? Actual practice—all Yoga is practice, not theory, not discussion. Once you have understood it, you sink into it. That is all. Already you have understood it, but the thing is, you are not meditating on it. The meditation has not started.

Sravana, manana, nididhyasana—these are the three stages of absorption. First you must listen, then you must deeply contemplate it, and then merge into it, and be that. The knowledge that you have gained has to be your existence itself. You are not having the knowledge; you yourself are the knowledge. You are a moving embodiment of that knowledge. You must be perpetually in the state of this affirmation of the consciousness of your true nature, and after that you may do whatever you like. Meditation is not meant for a few minutes only. Day in and day out you are in that condition, and it is not an activity. Meditation is not an activity but a consciousness of what truth is. You don’t have to go on meditating that it is daytime now. It is part and parcel of normal thinking.

Larry: So, reflecting on it is a form of meditation—deep reflection on it.

SWAMIJI: Certainly.

Larry: Are there questions worth asking?

SWAMIJI: No question should be raised once the aspiration for the Infinite has been confirmed. Otherwise the aspiration itself is not warm enough. Whatever you have understood now is quite sufficient for you. You don’t require to know more. It is a waste of time to go on thinking too many things.

Larry: If I know why it happens. . .

SWAMIJI: You cannot know it. It is impossible to know it. No human being in the world can answer that question, because a human being cannot know superhuman things. The effect cannot know the cause; else, it is putting the cart before the horse. The very question is redundant. It is upside down. The effect is trying to know the cause, which is not possible until it enters the cause. The whole point is that the effect must enter the cause—and do all things that are necessary to enable it to so enter. Immediately you will know what the cause has been doing, and all your questions are then answered. You will know the answer only in the cause, not in the effect. The effect cannot know the answer, because the effect is outside the cause. So, what answer can come?

Larry: For example, there are western religions, the Jewish religion, where they say what the purpose is of the creation.

SWAMIJI: Then I can also say what the purpose is. When you assign a purpose to God, you are saying that God has desire—and then He becomes like us, like anybody else. That is not a great advantage to us, to impute a purpose to God. We are gaining nothing by adding our own predilections to God’s kingdom. Then you can say that God has family also. What is the harm? He has children, He has a palace. There are religions that think like that. That is only for our ego’s satisfaction, but that will bring you nothing, finally. You can play with the toys of religious consciousness, but toys will not satisfy you finally. What we are thinking of is not playing with ideas, but a cure to the disease of suffering, which cannot go by any amount of slipshod handling of the matter. You have to be very serious about it. The very idea of purpose keeps God away from the world, and also keeps God away from His Being.

Larry: What about the record of prophecies?

SWAMIJI: They come within the empirical realm of space and time.

Larry: When there is a prophet such as Moses or Jesus. . .

SWAMIJI: Let anybody be there. They are all within the universal action. They have a value in the same way as everything that you see in dream has a value. All experience is real; else, it would not be experience.

I told you that dream is not an unreal thing. The only thing is that it is a lesser reality. All things that you see are perfectly true but they are relatively okay, not absolutely. Even the wealth that you gain in dream will give you satisfaction, in that condition. The satisfaction is not false; it is a real satisfaction, and so you cannot say that dream is unreal. So also anything that happens in the world is also real. But—there is a ‘but’ that there is another waking above that particular condition, where you will find the whole world vanishes in a second, and that reality is subsumed by another higher reality. The lesser real is not unreal—and yet, you must underline the word ‘lesser’.

The baby is not an unreal existence, and yet it is redundant to the genius who has already grown up from that state. Nothing is unreal in this world. Everything is real, but only there are gradations of reality. The higher includes the lower; so we should not go on clinging only to the lower forever, when the higher already includes it and transcends it. Every viewpoint is correct in itself. Everything that you have said also is okay—but only at one level, not at all levels, and also not finally.

Larry: So, universality transcends all things?

SWAMIJI: It transcends everything and includes everything. Transcendence does not mean negation of something. We are not rejecting some reality and then going to God. It is not like that. We are acquiring everything that we want in a more abundant manner than we could get otherwise. We are not renouncing the world to reach God, as people generally say; you renounce nothing. You are renouncing only the lesser characteristic and the inadequate form of it for the sake of a higher inclusiveness.

There is no such thing as renunciation, if it is to be properly understood. You are renouncing only an inadequacy and not a reality. You can ‘renounce’ for the sake of God—become a monk and anchorite, and all that. Sometimes the idea is not clear—what are they renouncing? When you say “I have renounced”, what have you renounced? You cannot renounce a building or a wall or a brick; it is not your property. What are you renouncing when nothing can be regarded as your belonging?

It is only the renunciation of an inadequate idea that you have about things, for the sake of a higher, more adequate achievement. It is a renunciation of a lesser degree of consciousness for the sake of a larger, more inclusive consciousness, so that it is not renunciation at all—it is only a growth into a higher realm. In such renunciation you lose nothing; but, ordinarily, when we speak of renunciation, it looks as if we have lost money, land, property, relations, etc. That is not the correct way of grasping it. Renunciation is detachment of consciousness from every form of its externalisation.

If you have left your home and come here, it doesn’t mean that you have renounced it. The thing is still there; it has not gone anywhere else. Your idea about it has to be renounced. The world is nothing but an idea, and a big idea it is. The universe is an idea ultimately—one thought. There are no substances; solid things do not exist. It is only an idea that is operating in the cosmos. Here we are agreeing with what Plato said in one way, that reality is an idea, a universalised consciousness.

But, nobody can swallow this hard truth. People will not understand what you mean by saying that the universe is an idea. A little education along these lines is not enough. People will think that you are talking nonsense, though it is the fact. One thought is there; that’s all. There is nothing else anywhere; and ‘That Is’. This is what they call Consciousness-Existence. Thought is chit-sat. That is all. And all these hard things like brick and mortar and the entire stellar region, the universe of solidity, melt into “such stuff as dreams are made of”, as Shakespeare would tell us. All the solidity of the Rocky Mountains in dream will melt into airy nothing when you wake up. That will happen to you in regard to this world also. All these things will melt into one, single thought—call it God, if you so like. This is what the Veda says; this is what the Upanishads say; this is what the Gita says; this is what prophets have said; this is what any religion will finally proclaim. “God created the heaven and the earth,” says Genesis. But what was God before He created them? He was Thought, Idea, Consciousness, Being.

You must try to think God minus this world. God must have existed even before creating, and how was He existing? Where was He sitting? He had no place to sit because space was created afterwards. Then where was God before creation? No question—the question cannot be raised at all. It was just Pure Idea. That is God. Call It Consciousness. Once you utter this, you have said everything. Further than that, you cannot speak. Being-Consciousness, sat-chit, Thought Thinking Itself—all these are the messages of our philosophers. One Thought is; One Idea is; One Person is. Let this go deep into your feelings, and you will require nothing else. All shall be well.