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Spiritual Aspiration and Practice
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 5: Lifting the Curtain of Space-Time

The intention of this Sadhana Week is to see that you benefit inwardly, spiritually, wholly, perfectly, and substantially. It is a very serious occupation. If the mind has not been satisfied, if the heart has not felt the touch of a transformation inside, if a modicum of change has not taken place in you for the betterment of your true being, your coming here may not be of much utility.

In this direction it is that we have been speaking and you have been hearing many things connected with this important aspect of your own personal life, because one day or the other this personal life will cease. It may be today; it may be tomorrow. You have lived a very comfortable social and physical life. All this will go like a wisp of wind when the call comes from above. When the time comes to leave this world, one may feel finally that one has achieved nothing and has done nothing worthwhile in this world. This should not be the fate of anyone. When you go, go smiling with a tremendous satisfaction that you have used this life for that purpose for which you have been brought here by the law of God. This satisfaction can arise in your mind only if you have done something for the benefit of your soul, and not merely for your family members, your office and your political structure. All these external associations, which I mentioned as a foisting of false values on you by the interference of space and time, will make a mockery of you in the end. They will show their teeth: “See what you have done!” And you do not want to see the teeth of space and time when you leave this world.

The question arises now, after hearing all this that has been said, how you can overcome this impediment that seems to be there between you and the great blessedness that you are expecting to attain. Space and time are considered as a metaphysical barrier, a natural obstruction which manages to twist your very process of thinking and compel you to think wrongly, even if you feel that you are thinking rightly. The obstruction is the spatial and temporal way of thinking, to which we give the designation space and time.

For the time being, we shall confine ourselves to space only. If that impediment is overcome, time will also go. You will find that when the dog goes, its tail will also vanish. Space is nothing but the distance that you maintain between yourself and another. It is the distance that is maintained between consciousness and its object. This is called space.

From all the considerations on which we bestowed thought earlier, it will be clear to you that there is no such distance between things. There is some apparent distance between the head and the feet, maybe some five feet or six feet. You can measure this distance, and you accept that there is a distance, but really it is an organic oneness that is there between the head and the feet. You will never feel that you are so long, so high, so wide, etc., when you are looking at yourself or dealing with yourself. Are you always thinking that you are five feet or six feet tall? Why do you not feel that your feet are so far away from your head, though it is a fact that there is some distance? The distance-consciousness gets transcended by the pervasion of an integral consciousness which is 'you'. I say, “I am here.” I do not say “My head is here, my legs are here” though they are also there.

Now, here the spatial intervention is overcome by the very consciousness of the pervasion of your true being over and above all the limbs and the structural variety of your body. I mentioned that distance is nothing but the spatial difference that you seem to be seeing between yourself and another thing that you considered as an object. The moment you think, you think something. That 'something' is not the same as the thought. You do not think the thought itself. You think through the mind about something which is not the thought. Thus you create a gulf, psychologically or even physically, between the thought and its object. This is called space. As long as this spatial distance is there between consciousness and its object, whether it is physically seen or mentally conceived, you can never have contact with that object. Even if you see an object through glass, you cannot touch that object because of the impediment, the obstruction of a glass pane between you and the object. No object in this world can be contacted. Nothing can be possessed, finally. There will be bereavement, separation, isolation, loss, and a feeling of desolation in the end, after having tried your best to possess things and own all the wealth of the world. This is so because of the fact that this spatial distance between you and that which you considered as your possession or belonging will never allow you to possess anything.

Not only that, you cannot even come in contact with that thing. It appears that you are in contact with some reality, but you are away from it. A curtain is there between you. Here, the curtain is spatial difference. Mark this word 'difference'. There is a difference between you and that which you want to possess. If this difference continues, how will you possess it? How can you possess anything when there is a difference between you and that which you want to possess? Is it not a fool's paradise in which you seem to be living and feeling a false satisfaction that you have property? Even the imagined distance between your feet and your head is a spatial intervention. That is why the body is called a mortal frame. Consciousness has no distance, due to which presence you do not feel the distance between your feet and your head. Yet, you can visibly measure this distance. That measuring process is made possible on account of the body being involved in space. A thing being in space means it is somewhere, and not somewhere else. A thing is only somewhere, and not everywhere. You are also somewhere, and not everywhere.

This great problem is before the spiritual seeker. For ever and ever, you will be in this mess. Even the gods are not always successful in their battles with the demons. Though they try with all their might, it is not always of much avail. Great masters tell us that the demons in the world are larger in number than the gods. That is to say, the objects of the world are larger than the subjective awareness of things. That is the implication.

Now you are face to face with a terrible situation. Are you to go from this world achieving nothing, or are you to become a better spiritual entity in your next birth? Merely because you want something, it does not necessarily mean that it shall come. It has to be asked for by the thing that you really are, and you should not ask from your mouth. If the soul asks for a thing, it has to be supplied instantaneously. As Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj used to humorously say, the whole thing is a question of demand and supply. Ask and it shall be given. You may say you are asking every day, but you are asking through the mind, through the speech, through the throat, through the tongue, through your outer expression. The soul does not want it.

Go deep into your own recesses and put a question: Do you really want that which you are thinking that you want? You will be posing a tremendous question before yourself. We may not call ourselves hypocrites as that is a very strong word but, by impartially looking at our own selves, we may be convinced that we maintain a dual personality even in respect of our own selves. We seem to be wanting a betterment of our existence, but we would not like to give up the so-called associations with which we seem to be connected on account of these pleasurable situations created by the contact of space-time. This world is something for us, even now. “Maybe God is great, but what does it matter? The world is also something.” Do you not feel like that, or do you feel that the world is nothing? Nobody will say that the world is nothing, because the soul has not felt the touch of the contact with that which it sees perfectly. The screen is there in front of the soul, and it is seeing God through the screen.

The Yoga System is the panacea before you. This is a medical science for the illness of humanity. Abolish the distance between you and that which you want, and it shall be yours. Instantaneously, the treasures of heaven will be on your lap, provided you do not maintain a distance between you and them, because you are unnecessarily creating a problem by feeling that they are outside you, separate from you, and yet you want them. If they are not yours, they cannot come to you. If they are outside you, they mind their business. How can you ask for them? So let this psychological distance between you and the thing that you want, even if it is God Himself, be lifted. Let the curtain be lifted. How do you do this? This is the secret of spiritual meditation. Everybody is doing some meditation, but the crux of the matter may not be in your hand always. You go up to a certain distance in your meditation, and when the final step is to be taken, you are forced back. “Thus far and no further,” says that which is there as a guard who will not allow you entry into this forbidden area. Devair atrāpi vicikitsitam purā, na hi suvijñeyam, aṇur eṣa dharmaḥ (Katha 1.1.21): “Even the gods are in doubt about this matter, my dear child,” says Yama Dharmaraja to Nachiketas. “You, little lad, are coming and asking me questions of this kind of how you can pierce through space. Not even Indra's grandfather can understand this.”

'Yoga samadhi' is the term we use for describing this intricate process of our plunging ourselves into this tremendous onslaught, we may say, with that which we want to grasp and make our own. If there is no distance between us and that which we want to make our own, it shall be ours in this moment, at this instant.

Again comes the question of how to proceed. There are various methods prescribed. I can suggest to you one or two at this moment. You must listen to me carefully in this matter. Instead of looking at a thing, look through that thing. Now I am seeing you in front of me. It shall be my endeavour to enter into you through my mind, thinking process or consciousness, and not see you, but see as you are seeing. I hope you catch the point. This process can be applied to anything, even to a pillar. There is a pole. The pole is outside you. You have no right or authority over it. It is its own, and you are different from it. You enter into the pole by feeling that you yourself are the pole. The pole will immediately dance. That is how material objects can be moved by the thought of a person. You have heard that Sri Krishna lifted a mountain. How is it possible? Who can lift a mountain?

Are you lifting your hand? An ant cannot lift your hand. Your hand is like a hill to a little ant, but you do not feel the weight of it. An elephant has such thick legs that even two people cannot lift its leg, but does the elephant feel the weight of its leg? The elephant is so large that even a hundred people cannot lift it, but the elephant moves easily, as everybody moves. How is it that the weight of one's body is not felt, even by a heavy person? There are stout people who do not feel their weight. They can walk, but you cannot lift them. The consciousness of their body is identified with their body and their weight. Sri Krishna lifted the mountain because his relationship with the mountain was like the relationship of the body with its hand. I can tell my hand to lift, and it lifts. So he told the mountain to lift, and it lifted. It was not the mountain that he lifted; he lifted his own arm. By an expansion of his personality, he became the mountain itself.

Somebody else cannot be controlled. You can control only yourself. Nothing can be managed unless you are part of that management. If you are a boss, the subordinates will not obey. You must also become part and parcel of the atmosphere of the structure of the working pattern. You are the soul of the atmosphere of the work, and not a chairman sitting somewhere and ordering people to work. A chairman cannot always succeed. The administration of an office is nothing but the pervasion of the spirit of the administrator throughout the entire atmosphere of the work, even if it is very large. Then he becomes an object of affection and consolation, and his word is respected, not feared.

So, in our meditations, which we practise for the purpose of the liberation of our soul, the soul has to divest itself of the spatial difference between itself and anything in this world. In the Eighth Chapter of the Chhandogya Upanishad there is a passage: Think a thing, and it is with you. Think of your departed father, and there he is standing before you. Think of the wealth of the world, and it is on your lap. Think of the gods in heaven, and they will descend just now. You may say that you have thought of them a hundred times but nobody came. It is because you were not thinking properly. You were thinking that they are outside you.

Moving away from the main subject for a little diversion, I shall relate to you what happened when Bharata went in search of Rama and had to stop for a night near the ashram of Sage Bharadwaja. The sage was living in a little hut in a thick forest filled with thorns and bushes so Bharata, knowing that the great master should not be disturbed by the noise of his trumpeting elephants and army, etc., which also followed him, told them to stop several miles away. He removed his royal dress and his footwear, put on an ordinary cloth, and humbly went to the sage.

He prostrated himself and said, “I am Bharata coming in search of my brother. Please bless me.”

The sage said, “Bharata! You are coming from Ayodhya. Have you come alone?”

“No, Master. Thousands have come with me. I did not want to bring them here lest they disturb this holy atmosphere,” replied Bharata.

“No problem. All of them will come here today. Thousands will have dinner here,” said the sage.

Bharata was intrigued, amused, and did not know what to say. How could the sage feed some thousands, along with their animals? Nothing was there; he had only a little hut in the jungle.

The great master felt that Bharata did not believe him, that Bharata thought he was a pauper, so he said, “I am telling you, royal Bharata, bring everyone just now, including the horses and chariots and elephants and footmen and everybody. They shall have dinner here in my cottage.”

Bharata could not understand what kind of dinner the sage was going to give, but as great masters' words have to be respected, Bharata brought all of them.

What did the sage do? He went into the yajnasala, poured some ghee into the fire and said, “Indra, come. Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, flow. Kubhera, bring your treasures. Gods in heaven, I have a good guest here. I want to feed him sumptuously with a divine dinner. Come!”

Light flashed in the whole forest. There was celestial music from all sides. The denizens of heaven descended with golden plates containing dishes that mortals have not tasted. Everywhere there were gardens and swimming pools and singing peacocks, and palatial buildings, thousands of houses and attendants and musicians.

Bharata thought, “Am I going crazy? Am I seeing things properly? Am I really seeing all these things, or am I dreaming?”

Sage Bharadwaja said, “All of you may be seated.”

Then the celestial angels served food in a masterly fashion, dishes which no mortal had tasted anywhere.

The soldiers felt, it seems, “Let Bharata go in search of Rama. We shall stay here. This is a nice place.”

This story is an indication of the power of consciousness when it identifies itself with the fourteen worlds. It was the work of the Vishvarupa that Sage Bharadwaja demonstrated.

Whatever one has achieved, another can also achieve. Everybody is heir apparent to the throne of immortality. You are the possessor of the treasures of God. Children of the Immortal, fear not, says the Upanishad: amṛtasya putrāḥ (S.U. 2.5).

In your meditation, then, what are you supposed to do? Abolish the consciousness of a difference between you and that which you think and see. Turn the tables around. Instead of looking at a thing, look through the thing. This is one simple recipe I am placing before you. I am not going into the details of any other yoga technique. This little thing will do for you. If you think through that thing which you otherwise think as an external somebody or something, immediately you become that thing. You have control over that thing in the same way as you have control over the limbs of your body. “Come!” means it comes. “Go!” means it goes. “Bring!” means it brings—not merely this thing or that thing, but the world as such.

When Sri Sukadeva—the great sage who gave the Bhagavata Mahapurana to Parikshit—as a little lad of sixteen years was unclad, walking unconscious of his body, the great master Vyasa Krishna Dvaipayana summoned him by loudly calling putreti tan-mayatayā taravo 'bhinedus (S.B. 1.2.2): “My dear child, where are you?” And the response came from where? The response came from every leaf of every tree, from every flower, from every plant, and from every stone: “Father, I am here.” Everywhere were reverberations of this response, “Father, I am here.” Where are you? Everywhere. The soul had permeated the fibrous structure of every leaf of the trees.

You may be thinking, “This is a terrible thing. I am not meant for it.” I am telling you that you are meant for it. Doubt about one's own self is a worse evil than doubt about other people. You doubt your own self. Can there be a greater tragedy for you than that? “We are our own traitors,” said the poet. Doubts are our traitors. There are no traitors in this world except our doubts about our own selves. You say, “I am incapable.” Instead you should say, “I am capable. I am honest in my asking. I love God sincerely. I have not deceived people. I have not harmed anybody. There is nothing wrong with me. Why should I have any diffidence? Certainly I will have it. Yes, I have girded up my loins for this achievement.” Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, Patanjali Maharshi, the Bhagavadgita, the Upanishads, the Bible, and so on, all give the same message.

Once again, I come to the point that I mentioned in the previous session. Every day, find one hour for yourself to think like this. If you can find more time and you can entertain this inner thought even during your busy hours, there is nothing wrong. Even if you are very busy, very much occupied, you cannot afford to forget this essential thing. If a large amount of cash is in your hand, will you forget that it is there even if you are busy in an office? You may be doing any work, but you will be conscious that something is there. If you can be conscious of the treasure in your pocket together with being conscious of all the work that you do, why should you not be conscious of this greater treasure when you are busy with other work? It is a question of wanting. You see the value of that which is in your pocket, but you do not seem to be seeing that much value in that which looks like an abstract occupation of the mind and not a reality for you. Very unfortunately, you feel that the world is a reality, and that for which you are asking is an ethereal, otherworldly abstraction. The reverse is the case. This world is the ethereal abstraction; it is an illusion, and the reality is somewhere else.

Thus, the meditation should be carried on every day. Adopt only one method: See through the thing by being that thing. It may be anything in this world. Immediately you will become the friend of all people. In one second you are the friend of all people, and whatever you feel about others, others will also feel about you. The world is ready to be at your service, provided you are ready to consider it as your friend and well-wisher. Are you not inextricably involved in the fabric of the structure of the universe? Where is your friend? Where is your enemy? Why harbour evil in the heart of hearts, making remarks about things and talking nonsense about whatever you see? As I told you, you cannot see things properly because the demons have attacked the eyes. Therefore, you see beautiful and ugly, pleasant and unpleasant, sweet and bitter, soft and hard, though no such things exist in the world. The beautiful and the ugly do not exist, and so on. The demonical attack of space and time is the cause of your seeing such duality perception, the worst thing being the duality between you and others, between yourself and the world, between yourself and God Himself.

Thus, get up in the morning and be seated on your bed. If you want to have your ablutions, have them; if not, be seated there itself. Close your eyes for a few minutes and chant Aaaaauuuuummmmmmmm, Aaaaauuuuummmmmmmm, Aaaaauuuuummmmmmmm. Do not say Om, Om, Om, Om, Om. Chant sonorously, melodiously, musically, harmoniously, beautifully, and a vibration will be generated in your body. You will feel a thrill, as if ants are crawling through your nerves. The distracted manner in which the pranas move in many directions through the body will get focussed into a harmonious movement. You will feel a titillation and a sensation of movement throughout the body. A pleasurable sensation will be felt inside if this chant is sonorously, calmly, beautifully carried on for at least fifteen minutes. You will be healthier in your body, more composed in your mind, and blissful within. Then, after this chanting, the mind operates in the direction of these principles that have been placed before you.

For these several days you have heard so many things, but you will not be able to remember them always. Some five percent of what you have heard may be in your mind; ninety-five percent has gone because of the inability of the mind to grasp everything that is told. Therefore, Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj's advice is: When you go to a satsang, have a diary or a paper and a pencil with you. Take down important points that have been told to you. Who can remember everything? This point has struck you, that point has struck you; write them down. Then go to your room and ponder over these thoughts. You have attended many satsangs, and many mahatmas, many great, learned people might have told you interesting things. One thousand things you have heard, and how much can you remember? Make a note of all these things. Let your diary be a scripture for you. Go on brooding, thinking, contemplating.

After hearing all this, you will have a problem of how to practise. In the earlier stages you seem to be quite at hand with all these things that have been told to you. It is after several days of attempt that you will find that you are not up to the mark. You will never be able to practise this technique that I told you. The mind will refuse to do that. At that time, take a trip from your house to the place where you find guidance. Be there for one or two days and tell your guide, “I have missed the point. Simple though it appeared, I am not able to catch it. I cannot turn the tables round and make my mind think reversely. I think objectively, but I cannot think subjectively. I can think of the object, but I cannot think as the object. This is not possible.” You have understood what I said. Even now you know what it is. Perhaps you are able to think it just now, but after some time it goes. You will think of roti, chapatti, sabji, this and that. It is still an outside object.

The daily practice of a session in the early morning hours or in the evening, as the case may be, for even a few minutes, will have a salubrious effect on your personality. If all this mental exercise is hard for reasons of your own, take a passage of a scripture such as the Eleventh Chapter of the Bhagavadgita. Nāhaṁ vedair na tapasā na dānena na cejyayā, śakya evaṁvidho draṣṭuṁ dṛṣṭavān asi māṁ yathā (B.G. 11.53): “Nobody can behold Me in this way as you have seen Me, O Arjuna. Everybody sees Me as if I am in heaven, in Vaikunta, in Kailasa or in Brahmaloka. They do not know where I am, really. I am there where the seer of Me himself is, herself is, itself is.” This Great Being whom you are beholding is not anywhere else than in the heart of hearts of the one who beholds it. This is the reason why there was fright in the mind of Arjuna when he beheld it. It looks as if you are about to swallow the whole ocean through your little mouth, and it has inundated your whole personality.

A passage from the Bhagavadgita may be studied every day. A passage from the Isavasya Upanishad may also be studied: Īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvam (Isa 1.1), or any passage from any Upanishad or from the Ramayana or the Srimad Bhagavata may be studied.

When Sri Krishna was tending the cows and Brahma took them all away, he became not merely the cattle, he became the cowherds, and even the sticks of the cowherds, with the same height and length, and with the same knots. Every little thing was perfect. Sarvaṁ viṣṇumayaṁ giro 'ṅga-vad ajaḥ sarva-svarūpo babhau (S.B. 10.13.19), says Suka Maharshi in this great context. Sarvaṁ viṣṇumayaṁ: All this is the Absolute Supreme Being. This verse manifested itself physically, as it were, palpably, visibly and materially when Sri Krishna became even the bamboo sticks with the same number of knots, and the same faces, the same manner of speaking, the same gesticulations as the cowherds and the cattle. O wonder! Sarvaṁ viṣṇumayaṁ giro 'ṅga-vad ajaḥ sarva-svarūpo babhau. You will be thrilled by hearing all this. These little things that you hear are not merely stories told to you, but are medicines which will purge you of all the dross in your personality. You become clarified, cleansed completely.

After a few days here, will you become a different person when you go back? No, you will not. This is only a recharging of your batteries while you are here, but it has to work continuously, even when you are elsewhere. Knowing that this life is short, knowing that the call can come at any moment, knowing that nothing can come with you, not even your closest friends, be cautious. Do not be heedless. Every night, go to bed with a feeling that tomorrow morning you will not wake up. This is one of the instructions of great sages. Your balance sheet is closed tonight, and there are no figures carried forward; otherwise, the figures will come up. Today is your last day, and if tomorrow you wake up, it is a long lease given to you by God; and if you do not wake up, well and good, you have cleared your accounts. No unfulfilled desire may be maintained in the mind when you go to bed; otherwise, you will have to reap it in the next birth. Do not owe something to somebody when you go to bed. Discharge the debt today itself; otherwise, you will have to repay it in the next birth. When you go to bed, do not have the feeling that you owe something to someone. Do not have the feeling that you have hurt somebody's feelings. Immediately go and touch the feet of that person and say, “I am very sorry. I cannot sleep because I have done this. Excuse me.” Then the heart is calm. Go calmly to your bed thinking, “I have not hurt anybody. I owe no debt to any person, and I have not begged anything from anybody. My accounts are clear. I go freely.” It may be that you shall get up in the morning, or you may not, also. So why take
a risk?

Someone said, “If God does not exist, it does not matter; you need have no fear. But suppose He exists? Be careful. See what will happen to you.” So if you continue to exist tomorrow, it is the grace of God. If you do not exist tomorrow, what will happen? Where will you go? What will be your condition then? Who will receive you? What laws will operate in that new world? Who will call you their own? Those people whom you considered as yours will leave you, depart from you at the cremation ground. Those people, those things, those laws whom you disregarded as if they never existed will be there face to face with you: “Do you recognise us?” Do not have that question posed to you. Be a friend of all the laws of nature, of all the fourteen realms: Bhuloka, etc., till Satyaloka. Be a friend of the world that God has created. Be a blessed soul, and the world will be yours. God shall be yours.

Therefore, have this little program, as I suggested. I am repeating the same thing again and again. Be alone to yourself for some time every day, because it is the most difficult thing for you. You are always busy running here and there; but if you want to mind your business, and if you think that you are also something worthwhile in this world and not only business is important, that you are also important to some extent, and if you honestly feel that something good should be done to you, you have to find time for it. Some price has to be paid for all things, whatever they are. Thus is the message of the great saints and sages, the masters of yore.

Be happy. Be happy because you have not borrowed anything from anybody. Be happy that you have not hurt the feelings of anybody. Be happy that you have not uttered unkind words about any other person. You have seen things as God would see; you have performed your actions as God would expect you to perform them. You have lived here as an ambassador of God Almighty, which you really are, as a representative of That which sent you here for Its purpose. With this message planted in your heart, rejoice, be thrilled, dance in ecstasy, and be blessed.