The Problems of Spiritual Life
by Swami Krishnananda

December 15, 1990

Larry: Sankaracharya—he speaks about universality?

SWAMIJI: Yes, he talks about everything; there is nothing left out. Whatever you can think in your mind, he already thought. You cannot say one word more than what he has said in the field of philosophy.

Larry: King Solomon said, “There’s nothing new under the sun.”

SWAMIJI: Whatever one may say, Whitehead opines, is only a footnote to Plato. There is nothing that he has not written. Likewise, here we can say all is a footnote to Acharya Sankara.

Larry: Swamiji, do you have any advice for me?

SWAMIJI: I have already given you advice during these days, and whatever I have told you is the advice for you. That advice covers every circumstance, every event and every person. It is an omnibus, a panacea for all things.

Sarah: There is a part of myself that stops myself from even really wanting God. There is a side that I see doesn’t want God at all, and it is laziness. Do you know how to overcome it?

SWAMIJI: It is not laziness. The value of a thing cannot be appreciated unless the mind is on a level equal to the value of the object that is to be evaluated. I told you the example of a gold necklace put on a cow’s neck. It does not mean that the gold necklace has no value, but the cow cannot appreciate it. It requires a mind suited to it. You cannot want a thing unless you need it. If your needs are already attended to by other means, you will not ask for something irrelevant.

The mind, which is involved in the physical body and social relations, requires a diet that is physical and social. Unfortunately for us, God is neither physical, nor social. Our needs are physical and social at present—and to some extent, psychological. God is none of these. How can God attract us? If you are not merely a physical entity, not a social unit or merely a mind that thinks, but an ontological existence, then you will not have such a problem, doubt, or fear.

Larry:‘Ontological’ means just to ‘be’?

SWAMIJI:‘Ontological’ means concerning ‘pure being’. One cannot be satisfied by anything but ontological existence. Only then love for God and need for God is felt. Your ontological existence is buried deep under the debris of physicality and sociality and psychological and political associations, and that which is buried cannot act. So we do not feel the need for that which can be felt only by that which is deep within. At present we are not wholly ourselves; we are only partially ourselves. We are on the tip of the iceberg of our personality and we are thinking through that tip on the top; and the larger base, which is heavy, is beneath the conscious level.

Our real personality is deeper than the conscious level, but we live only in the conscious level and, therefore, we are really not living in ourselves. Hence, we do not want God at present. This is the problem, an answer to your question. But when you go deep beneath your conscious level, beneath your subconscious and unconscious also, further down, deeper than the unconscious even, you enter the metaphysical level, the ontological being.

Sarah: So I have to look within myself to find it.

SWAMIJI: Go deep, deeper than what you seem to be. What is inside the body? You will find the mind. What is inside the mind? Intellect. What is inside the intellect? In deep sleep, the body is not there, the mind is not there, and the intellect is not there. But are you there? In deep sleep, are you there, or are you not there?

Sarah: It is both.

SWAMIJI: You are there. Have you a doubt? Are you existing in the state of deep sleep, or are you not existing?

Sarah: I do not know. It seems like it is both—that one is all existence, ultimate existence…

SWAMIJI: Are you alive or dead in deep sleep?

Sarah: Very alive.

SWAMIJI: How do you know that you are alive? Who told you? When you had no consciousness of your existence in sleep, how do you make a statement that you are alive there? Is it a hearsay or a real fact? Now you are stumbling on something that is the mystery of your being. That which you were in the state of deep sleep is your real personality—not intellect, not mind, not the senses, not the body, not relations, not friends, not enemies, not gold, not silver. Without anything you existed, and let us know what it was that existed at that time. That is your ontological status, the answer to your question. I gave a little book to Mr. Krauss—an analysis of consciousness. The name of the book is Self-Realisation, Its Meaning and Method. Read it thoroughly.

Sarah: Why do you use the word ‘personality’ when you say “it is the tip of the…”

SWAMIJI:‘Personality’ is what I am seeing with the physical eyes. This five-and-a-half-foot tall—this is the personality; but your real nature is not that, it is universal and all-inclusive. What you are projecting before a camera, that is your personality, but your real nature cannot be seen like that. No one can photograph what you were in deep sleep. Personality is a name for the body-mind complex, the psycho-physical formation.

Larry: There is no such thing as time?

SWAMIJI: It is there as the measure of experience.

Larry: Everything that is for us, in our present state, and the future, has already occurred. Everything that would be tomorrow, for example, has also already occurred, time being relative.

SWAMIJI: Even that which is going to take place after some centuries has already taken place somewhere else—though for you it has not taken place. The Trojan war is taking place even today, in some other realm, though for you it is some centuries-old story. In some place, it is taking place just now; in some other place, it is yet to take place. The relativity of the cosmos is a mystery to the human mind. If you study even our modern physical Theory of Relativity, you will be stunned. The mind will be boggled to such an extent that you will not be able to think any more afterwards, if you understand what this relatively implies.

There is no fixed time; a linear motion of time does not exist. It is entirely relative to circumstance, condition and position of the observer and, therefore, you cannot say what is taking place at what time. Everything is taking place at all times. The Mahabharata war has taken place, but it is just now taking place in some other realm; and in certain other realms, it has not yet taken place.

For us who are bound to a fixed idea of time that is like a block, the fluid motion of time in this relativity fashion is unintelligible. We can never understand anything that is relatively determined in a mutual relationship of components, because we are unable to think like that. You can never think, even for a moment, that you are related to everything in the universe. If that thought enters you mind, you would not know how to live in the world.

And so we try to brush aside such thoughts and imagine that we are localised in one place only, as little entities moving from one place to another place, in a solid space and a solid time, in a solid objective world. This is what we are thinking, which is totally contrary to fact. The fact is something else. One can summon anything at any time, since even dead things are alive in some other place.

I was told that some mechanism has been manufactured somewhere, whereby you can materialise just now, today, the vibrations which were created by the ancient historical events, though they may be centuries in the past. And you can see today, as you see in a television, the events that took place in ancient history by materialisation of these vibrations which are never dead; vibrations never die. Every event is eternal, in a sense.

Larry: You mean the vibrations that were set up by the event when it took place are captured?

SWAMIJI: Yes. All the television pictures that you see are a materialisation of vibrations. There are no pictures there. They are vibrations materialised through a mechanism. And, likewise, they say, vibrations of the ancient past can be condensed into a particular mechanism and you can see now ancient history; Roman history or Homer’s Iliad you may see dramatised just now.

Larry: Yes, it makes sense.

SWAMIJI: So, everything is in eternity. All things are everywhere at all times. You can summon anything and be with it, if your vibrations can rise to the requisite frequency.

Larry: So for each of us, our futures have already occurred.

SWAMIJI: Our future has already occurred—past, present and future are a compact whole. There is no past, present and future, separately by themselves.

Larry: So I am right now living the first day of my life and the last day of my life.

SWAMIJI: Right! Everything. You can call it first or last or middle—whatever you like. It is a long chain, beginningless and endless. Where you began, where you end, where you are in the middle, nobody can say. It is an entire cosmic movement where you cannot say which is the beginning, which is the end.

Larry: So absolutely no change is possible.

SWAMIJI: You can call it a change if you like, from the point of view of your concept of time. It looks like change, but finally it is a timeless occurrence.

Larry: So all the events in my life have already been determined—every moment of every day, every thought, every feeling.

SWAMIJI: Everything—every moment, and even every thought, every feeling. Eternity—the word ‘eternity’ explains everything. It has no past, present and future and, therefore, anything that you say in terms of the time process is invalid to it. It is just there, and all things are there. Here and now, in a compact integrality—all things can be seen just here. That is the meaning of eternity. But we cannot think eternity; we think in time only. We think in terms of process. So, we are unable to make out what sense it is to have all things in one spot. It is a centre which is not a geometrical point, but a centre which is everywhere, as they call it, with circumference nowhere.

Larry: So the consciousness, my own self-consciousness, right at this moment, is a self-consciousness that feels as though it is in December 15, 1990.

SWAMIJI: Your consciousness is now thinking in terms of body and time process.

Larry: Yes, but the consciousness that was thinking yesterday, December 14, is it still conscious in the same way as I am feeling consciousness right now, December 15?

SWAMIJI: It is the same consciousness, the same thing. It has not changed, but it appears to be changing as it is tied to the body that is under process. It is attached to the process of the body and, therefore, it looks as if it is also moving, while, actually, it is not moving anywhere.

Larry: But at this very moment, the interaction I had with you yesterday is occurring.

SWAMIJI: As a memory.

Larry: As a memory, or as a real experience?

SWAMIJI: If you call memory also as an experience, then you may call it experience.

Larry: I would call memory a record.

SWAMIJI: That is all. You don’t have an experience? You have a memory only.

Larry: Today I have a memory of yesterday.

SWAMIJI: Yesterday you had a lunch and you enjoyed it and today you are not having an experience of it. You have a memory only.

Larry: Today I only have a memory. But relative to me today, are the events of yesterday now occurring in some other realm, in some other place?

SWAMIJI: Yes, perfectly right.

Larry: So they are occurring at this very moment.

SWAMIJI: Yes. They are occurring somewhere else, but this ‘else’ is an illusion of the so-called time-process. Rather, it is eternally present. Read the Yoga Vasishtha.

Larry: That is Supreme Yoga?

SWAMIJI: Yes, yes. You will find all these interesting things. Everything is occurring everywhere, and what you had experienced yesterday is being experienced somewhere else by somebody else.

Larry: By somebody else, or by me yesterday?

SWAMIJI: By you also, and by another also; it can be either way. And the same thing can be experienced in the future by somebody else. Actually, this ‘somebody’ is yourself in another time form; there is, really, no ‘somebody’ outside the complicated ‘you’.

Larry: I understand by somebody else, but…

SWAMIJI: But, what? You can have the same experience.

Larry: The experiences that I experienced yesterday—am I experiencing them at this moment, right now, again? In other words, is it December 14 for me in some other point in consciousness? Today is for me December 15. And I am conscious right now that at this moment I am speaking to you. Yesterday was December 14, and at that moment, at roughly the same time (24 hours earlier) I was conscious of speaking to you on December 14. Today I have a memory—here now, it is a memory of yesterday. But are the events of December 14, yesterday’s events, taking place somewhere else in consciousness?

SWAMIJI: Yes, perfectly so. They are taking place somewhere else. Correct. And they will be a present; they will not be a past. Though for you it is a past, it is a present for some other condition of yours. There is no such thing as past and there is no such thing as present, no such thing as future also. They are totally relative. What is past can be present; what can be present can be future also. And future can be present—either way, you will find yourself everywhere.

Larry: So, every moment in time continues to exist for infinity.

SWAMIJI: Yes, right. Certainly so.

Larry: So one’s success—whether one succeeds in this evolution or fails in this evolution, has also already happened.

SWAMIJI: It is perfectly so.

Larry: So, perhaps my next question is irrelevant. I was going to ask you, as we are now leaving the ashram in another day or so, what guiding principles should I bring to my life in Canada?

SWAMIJI: What is the difficulty that you will face?

Larry: I don’t know what difficulties I will face in terms of job.

SWAMIJI: You can imagine at least.

Larry: I can imagine that I will have choices to make as to how much work, how many hours a day I should work, whether I should continue as a lawyer, whether I should have one child or more children.

SWAMIJI: Every question has to be decided in the light of what you want to achieve tomorrow or in the near future or in this life. Unnecessarily you do not do anything. You may be a lawyer, you may be anything, but what for are you doing all this work? For, true achievement is supposed to be the culmination of your life—a progressive advance towards your objective. And if you concentrate your mind a little bit on what this final objective is that you are aiming at, every little step that you take on different days will either be a constructive move, participation in this advance towards the goal that you want to achieve, or it may be some irrelevant thing obstructing. Your common sense, your understanding of the worthwhileness of the step that you take today in the light of this achievement will tell you what is proper and what is not.

What is it that you want to do finally? You are a lawyer, you are this man, you are that man, let it be anything. But, what for is this effort and work and activity, and this and that? There is a purpose behind it, and you want to achieve something. What is it that you want finally? You have some idea in your mind that this is the thing that you need. For that purpose, these appurtenances, these accessories are important, and anything that is going to contribute to the achievement of this objective may be considered as necessary and valid—and do it. But if you lose sight of the goal itself, you will not be able to take even one step forward.

Larry: What is the best way of determining one’s goals? I’m not sure I’m clear on what my goals are.

SWAMIJI: First of all, you want to live. You don’t want to die, number one. Anything that is necessary to enable you to live without any hindrance must be done. You cannot have an offhand academic answer to this question. What are the factors that will help you in living securely? You use your common sense.

The next question: It is not that you want to live like a tree or a stone. You must live a life which has a meaning according to your concept of value. Maybe you want to increase your knowledge. You must be aspiring for wisdom and you must work for the achievement of that, the acquiring of that knowledge, or wisdom, in whatever way possible.

Then, thirdly, you should have good health. You should not do anything which will impair your health—physical health, mental health and social health. You should not be at loggerheads with the society outside. You should not be at variance with your body. You should not be in conflict with your mind. Physical health, psychological health, social health, even political health are essential. You should not be always quarrelling with your government. That also is a part of your aspiration to exist in this world in a sensible manner.

All this granted, what happens finally? You grow in consciousness and experience towards a dimension of your personality—now I am coming to the main point—a dimension of your personality that will tend towards its largest expanse, which is God-experience. This is why you are living in this world. You don’t live here merely because everybody is living and you also have to live—to eat, drink, sleep. That is not the purpose of existence. In a constructive, positive, secure, integrated, holistic manner we have to live for the purpose of an advance towards larger dimensions of our own existence, culminating in absolute universality. This is the purpose of life. You exist for this purpose.

All the legal work you are doing—including court cases, going to the market and purchasing things, having a marriage and children and so on, whatever it be—they are all part and parcel of this advance that you are going to make towards universal existence, and every inch of your activity should be contributory to this great purpose. You have to use your common sense, your understanding and your education to find out how these little, little things of your daily life will build up the edifice of your total existence. This is how you have to guide yourself in your daily life.

You are not one isolated individual living in Canada. You are connected to all things, to the whole world, and all space and time. Space and time and the solar system are touching your skin even now. You are not living in any particular place. You are living in this solar system, in this galaxy, in this space-time complex, in this vast universe, which is not merely touching you but has entered the very fibre of your existence. The very cells of your body are made up of cosmic stuff and so you are not a Mr. So-and-so, one individual; you are something more than what you think you are. May this be in your mind always, and then direct your daily routine in this manner.

Larry: It is such a big message; I do not know on a practical level how my being is connected to the entire cosmos.

SWAMIJI: Every minute you have to be conscious of this truth if you want real protection from the creation of God; otherwise, you will feel insecure every moment. No one can protect you except the cosmic forces. You cannot think this is a kind of theoretical discussion. This is a very important medical prescription that has to be taken now. It is not a message, but a medicine.

This is not the way in which ordinary people think, but we are not here to think as ordinary people. We are in this ashram for a different purpose, to enhance the dimension of our thought. If we were just ordinary, there would be no such aspiration. We are in the ashram here for a different purpose, to think differently altogether and envisage the world in a new light. It is not a difficult thing; it is the proper thing and has to be done just now, not tomorrow, because there is no tomorrow for us. It is question of here and now.

You cannot be secure in this world even for a second but for the cooperation that you receive from the cosmic powers. Otherwise, you will be let down. It is difficult to live. No man can protect you in this world. It is only the cosmic powers who are the very building bricks of your personality that can protect you. The building is protected by the bricks of which it is made. And if the building is different from the bricks, how will it survive? And the bricks of your personality are the very stuff of the cosmos. You cannot even exist for a moment without this appreciation.

Larry: The level of protection that I do receive in the universe—has it not been already determined?

SWAMIJI: It is determined, and your consciousness should not be severed from that conviction. The whole point is that your consciousness should appreciate it. You must be conscious that this is the fact. Unconscious occurrences are not going to benefit you consciously.

Larry: And, yet, is it also that the level of my consciousness, all my thoughts and feelings, have also been predetermined?

SWAMIJI: Let it be so, but you must accept it in your consciousness. You must live it. What you are just now saying must be a part of your living itself. What do you lose by being a big man? I am asking you to be a big man rather than a small person. You will be a large man walking on the road, a giant, a superman walking, as a little representation of the cosmos itself moving. Isn’t it a joy to feel it? So very thrilled you will be even to think that. Everything will look fine. Strength you will gain, joy you will feel, protection you will receive. You will experience a sense of enough with all things. You may even dance with joy if this enters your heart.