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A Textbook of Yoga
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 13: Standing Inseparable from the Universal

We were discussing the meditational process. As it is said, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. In a similar way, we may say all our endeavours in any manner whatsoever, through any religious practice, through any type of faith or philosophical study, converge at a point where the differences—whether philosophical, psychological or sociological—melt down into a single target of attention. Until that time, we are all different.

We have many religions, and perhaps we even have many gods to worship. We have many aims in our lives. We speak many languages, and belong to many countries. Everything seems to be multifaceted, multi-farious. This continues until we reach the point of meditation. Just as many roads can take us to the top of a mountain and at the apex of the mountain there will not be many roads—there will be only one spot where all the roads, whatever be their number, converge at a single point—so is the case with this great effort of humanity to find its perfection through different types of activity and the pursuit of various ideals.

We have, in these sessions of study, noticed the various aspects of human personality and the different involvements of oneself in the levels of reality, facets of existence, and outlooks of life. They were designated by different kinds of nomenclature: as political involvement, social involvement, communal involvement, linguistic involvement, religious involvement, and involvements of various types such as family, personality, etc. Then we gathered our attention into a kind of inward endeavour and practice called yoga, which begins with the discipline of the physical body, the prana and the sense organs, which joined together for a single concert which is called meditation.

We also had occasion to notice how meditation becomes the be-all and end-all of psychological endeav-our, how meditation is everything and all things. In the earlier stages, meditation looks like one of the practices to which a person can get habituated. Later it becomes the only practice, and it is not just one among the many. It transcends even psychological operations. It becomes no more a mental work; it becomes an endeavour of the whole of our existence. The total being of the person wells up into the task of the communion we call the art and consummation of meditation.

I will repeat what was mentioned earlier, that meditation ceases to be a work or a function of the mind. Rather, it becomes a rising up of all that we are—body, mind and soul put together—in a single focused activity. It is not of the mind, sense organs or of any part of our self, but of our Self. Everything, every bit of what we are, inwardly and outwardly, is totalled up and brought into a focus of attention for a purpose which is the liberation of our finitude—a finitude not merely of the sense organs or the mind, but of ours. Thus, we brought ourselves to the borderland of the consideration of a great step that we have to take, which is called samapatti in the language of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras—a kind of communion with That out of which our personality is constituted.

In the previous session, our attention was to the structure of nature as a whole, nature made up of the five elements, and the attempt to see the very same structure, the very same substance, in our own personality also. Our body is made up of the same elements as nature outside. I said it is a very advanced step, a serious step, and perhaps a final step.

It may look very difficult. On the one hand, it is indeed difficult because no one in the world will think like this. No one will have the need to feel the identity of the structure of one's personality with that of nature or the world outside. The very idea looks funny because we know very well that we are inside the world and we are not a part of the world. No one thinks that he is a part of the world because if that were the case, there would be no need of doing anything in the world. There would be no work, no effort, because all effort is a confrontation of our personality with the external atmosphere.

Who are we going to confront when we envisage the world outside if we are basically inseparable in terms of the brick and mortar of our personality? Patanjali's Yoga Sutras tell us that it is a very difficult thing because we have never been able to think like this. Our educational career has been totally free from this instruction that is necessary for recognising ourselves as a vital part of this cosmic structure. Therefore, it looks as if we are introduced into a new world altogether by the Yoga Sutras; but it is actually the simplest thing to understand. To do work in the office, to build a house, to be an engineer, all these are very difficult things indeed. But to feel the communion of ourselves with That out of which we are made should not be so difficult. Truth is always simple and easy to understand. It is untruth that is difficult to understand. We have to struggle hard to get on with untruth. We have to pile up many types of falsehood in order to justify it. Truth is very simple. Once we utter it, the matter is closed. We do not have to go on saying it again and again. But an untruth has to be repeated several times, lest it should be discovered as a falsehood.

What is the truth of life? It is your inseparability from the substance of the world outside. This is what the yoga scripture says. There is an intense feeling of this communion of the substance of your personality with the substance of nature outside, an intense feeling commingling in actual being itself, as if you have become the entire nature in yourself—as if you are thinking and feeling through the eyes of nature, as if the very heart of nature is throbbing in your own heart, as if the sun and the moon and the stars are your own eyes, as if the rivers in the world are your own veins, as if the mountains are your bones, as if the world is your body. This feeling melts down into a deeper consciousness of your being of this nature. Yoga calls this savitarka samapatti, which is the first step. You may say it is a very difficult thing, that it looks like the final step; and yet, yogins say that it is the first step.

The terminology of the ascent along these lines of samapattis is, of course, well known to students of yoga. The earliest, the lowest, the first step, is called savitarka, where there is a mingling of the object with its form and the idea that one has about it. I am just repeating what I said in the previous session. Anything that we conceive or perceive has a threefold character blended into it. It is just what it is. Apart from that, we are associating it with a name, a designation. We call it by some name, and we have some notion about it.

In the second stage, which is nirvitarka, the object as such is entered into. I begin to see you as you are and not as I think you are, and do not call you by a name which is generally associated with you. I shall divest you of the name that is associated with you. I shall not think anything about you. I shall try to see you as you would like to see your own self. There is a difference between how you see yourself and how another sees you—a great difference, indeed. The way you see yourself now may often, in some respects at least, be similar to the manner in which other people see you. You are an official, working in some office. Others know that you are such, and you may also confirm that you are such and such an official. You will not forget it. On a surface parlance of looking at things on a purely social level of human concourse, your knowledge and idea of yourself may not be correct. You may be correct in saying that you are an official working in some office, in some category of performance, and this is also what people think about you. But really you are something different from this function that has been associated with you or foisted upon you, temporarily, for a social purpose.

Are you not something when you are free from that office? That something which you are when you are divested of your office function is a greater reality of yours than the assumed reality of your office job. Even if retirement gives you a better idea of your own self than while you were in an office, even as a retired person you will have some misconceptions about yourself. You may feel that you are a wealthy person owning a lot of land and property, many bungalows, etc., and have many relations and friends. This idea about yourself may continue even if you are divested of the authority of an office. But this idea is also not correct because it is not true that you are always possessed of wealth or that you have relations, friends, land and property, buildings, etc. Look at the manner of the different layers of misconception which you have about yourself, let alone what others think about you.

You may not like many of the opinions that people hold about you, but have you a good opinion about yourself? There also you are mistaken. Suppose you are divested of all your belongings. Will you call yourself a wealthy person? That designation of wealth will vanish. Suppose you have no land, no buildings, no relations, no friends. Are you still something, or are you nothing? Now you will have a different idea about yourself. “What am I? I cannot be regarded as an official; that has gone. I am not even a wealthy man. I have no property. I have nothing to call my own. All has gone.” You will no longer designate yourself with these qualities or adjuncts which you had connected with yourself; nevertheless, you are there, existing. What is your opinion about yourself at that time? You will feel you are a person totally undressed of all associations, both social and psychological. You will stand naked, as it were, before nature's reality. You will begin to feel, “I have nothing. Everything has gone.” Everything has gone, but you have not gone. That is the whole point.

When everything has gone, still you are persisting. That ‘you' which continues to exist even when everything has gone is your reality. There you will find that you are inseparable from nature. You do not require any kind of clothing at that time. Nature does not wear clothes, it does not own property, and is not a friend of anybody. No kind of association can be there with nature. This is a new type of analytical approach I am presenting before you to show the outlook that you have to develop for communing yourself with nature as it is in itself, in savitarka samapatti. You do not commune yourself as a rich man, as if a rich man is going to nature, a wealthy man is encountering the cosmos, an official is standing before the world. It is nothing of the kind. It is very hard for you to understand why such a difficult thing is considered as the first step. All these things appear to be beyond your head. You have never heard these things, you have never thought like this, and even now you find it very hard to hold on to these ideas for a long time. It is a total impossibility for you, yet it is the first step in yoga.

The second step, which is called nirvitarka, is, to mention again, the real you getting united with the reality of the cosmos, minus association with space and time. The first step—all this interesting detail which we have been discussing—is associated with the concept of space and time. Whatever be the notion that you have about yourself, even correctly, whatever be the idea that you have about nature, though it may be very appreciable and correct to a large extent, still you find that you are locating nature in space and time. This is Newton's concept of the physical universe, that it is something contained in a cup of space and time. Do you not feel that you are inside space and time? This is a defect in thinking. You are not inside space and time, really speaking. Space and time are part and parcel of the structure of physical nature, as we are learning these days. This physical universe of the five elements, including our own body, is a manifestation of space-time itself. We may call it a condensation of space-time.

Here again we have the difficulty of how hard substances like stone and brick and can be regarded as a condensation of space and time because space seems to be empty, and time is indescribable and enigmatic. We cannot see space, and we cannot see time. We see some emptiness, and something called time, in a concept of the mind. But, space and time are not mere voids, and they are not just empty concepts. They are the very background and the matrix of the later developments in the process of evolution, in the form of the tanmatras and the five elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. If space and time are not a vessel in which the physical universe is contained, as we wrongly think, but physicality is just a form of space-time itself, then thinking the universe in terms of space and time ceases.

It is not possible for ordinary people to entertain these areas of thought and meditation. You cannot go on thinking like this for a long time. You will become giddy; you will fall asleep; you will feel that this is not for you. You may appear to understand what I am saying, but you cannot carry it for a long time. The very first step was difficult, and the second step becomes even more difficult because here is a prescription whereby you are not to think of space outside, and not even to think of time. Why is it so? It is because, in the same way as nature is not outside your body, space-time is not outside nature. As you are not outside nature, nature is not outside space-time. This is how you begin to withdraw yourself in an ascending order of concept, or push yourself forward, as it were, into the causes of the effects that appear as this phenomenal world.

I mentioned that in creation, effects follow causes, and that in meditation, causes follow effects. That is to say, from the lower, you go to the higher. The lowest is the political concept, the social concept, the physical concept. Then you go to the higher concept of your inseparability with nature, which is physical. Now you go still further into the concept of the inseparability of nature as a whole from space-time itself. This is the second stage of samapatti, or samadhi, where you do not know what is happening. I can describe it only in this manner. There is no language which can describe this condition because all language, all definition, all description is in terms of qualities and relations. When we speak of anything, something is compared with something else and some quality or adjunct is associated with another quality or adjunct. But here, this becomes an impossiblility on account of there being no qualities, no relations, no adjuncts whatsoever outside what you consider as the object of your meditation. Who is meditating? The ‘you' that meditates ceases to be there because it has already gone into the very substance of the object of meditation, which has become all nature and all space and time. It looks as if nature itself is contemplating itself. The earth is contemplating, nature is meditating, the whole cosmos is becoming aware of itself. You are no longer meditating; you have now gone beyond meditation.

Meditation is a very simple thing. It is a kindergarten stage, as it were, compared to all this that we are discussing now. You are on a very high level where you are not contemplating anything; you have become one with nature. So, who is meditating? Nature is contemplating itself as existing. But even that is not sufficient. It is now not contemplating itself as existing in space and time. The idea of nature thinking that it exists in space and time also has gone. What is left now? Here your speech becomes hushed, and nobody is there to tell you anything. Language ceases, thought does not function further in the manner it was functioning earlier, and you are caught in a whirlpool of a cosmic tide that is flooding over you. You are no more a human being. You have no friends around you, and nothing to see. What is existing? Here, all human effort ceases. Up to this time there was effort to do something, to think in some way, and then see that you do not get distracted into some other way of thinking. Now, at this moment, the effort itself ceases.

If the effort ceases, how do you progress onwards? For this there is an Upanishadic declaration that a divine hand starts operating at that moment. Up to this time you have been doing something, but now you cannot do anything; you have become totally helpless. When your limbs are removed and you are melting down into the substance of the world, what effort is possible on your part? How is it possible that there can be further progress? The Upanishad says that some non-human or super-human power takes care of you at that time. It takes you up by the hand, as it were, and leads you along a path which is not visible to the eyes but can be felt by your consciousness. It is the point, as it were, where you are directly in contact with the ambassadors of God. Until that time, you are far away from these great personalities. Even to contact these ambassadors is very difficult. You have to struggle so much, with such force, with agony for such a long time even to contact these officials of God—and God is still further.

However, it is a wonderful thing to meet these great officials. Once they raise their green flag, you will have no problem. Then, in modern style, you may say, they will present you with a green card to the Absolute, and you shall have no problems. You cannot move because you have no eyes, you have no legs, you have no limbs; you are not a person. There, the movement is of conscious-ness; consciousness moves into consciousness. All this wondrous description is associated with the second stage. This is the nirvitarka stage. Actually, in these first two stages of savitarka and nirvitarka, you are still in the level of the physical cosmos, though you have by some means overcome the limitations of the concept of space and time.

There is something higher: the tanmatras. You have to remember the process of evolution. I mentioned that the Original Absolute appears as adhibhuta on one side, adhyatma on the other side, and adhidaiva in the middle; and the tanmatras—the potentials of hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, tasting—become the latent forces which, by a certain permutation and combination, become the five elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether.

Up to this time we have been considering only the level of the physical elements, either with the association of space and time or without such association. Now we are going to consider pure potentials, not the physical universe. These are the tanmatras, as they are called, the universe as constituted of pure force. The concept of force is also difficult to entertain because we know only electric force and so on, but this is something more than electricity. It is prana, in one way. What is prana? You may in a way compare it to electric energy, but it is subtler than that; it is vitality. There is no vitality in electricity. It is a dead force. Electricity is a tremendous force indeed, but it has no life, and it cannot understand. Because vitality is something which has motivation, it therefore transcends the concept of force as electricity.

In this realm of the tanmatras, you enter into a non-physical environment of continuity which is spaceless and timeless. Modern science sometimes calls it the space-time continuum. It does not mean that there is space and time. It looks like a continuum of the melting together of even space and time, which means to say, a spaceless and timeless continuum—a fourth dimension, as we are intriguingly told. The fourth state is something like that. It transcends the three states of waking, dreaming and sleeping.

So we have savitarka, nirvitarka. Then there is savichara, the third stage, where the tanmatras come into operation. The fourth stage is nirvichara, in which the forces are not anymore a continuum because even the concept of the process of dynamism involves a tinge of spatiality and temporality. Even if you consider the universe as a process, and not as a substance and a thing, you are somehow introducing spatiality and temporality into it. But it is something more than that. The Ultimate Reality is not in space and not in time, and cannot be thought of as being in space and in time.

All this is an area of consideration which is totally alien to ordinary human thinking. It is something surprising, transforming, shocking, and illuminating in a new way, and makes you something totally different from what you are. You cease to be a person, a human being, a man or a woman. You do not know what you are. You will be floating in some atmosphere which cannot be considered as anything at all in ordinary language.

These are some of the processes of the communion of individuality with the cosmos. To repeat these designations of Patanjali, they are savitarka, nirvitarka, savichara and nirvichara. There are two or three more ascents and processes of moving higher up, and these are not in any way related to the physical universe or even to the forces of nature, not even to the tanmatras, but are pure cosmic thought. Here you are led by the ambassadors into the very kingdom of God, and you are there.

In religious circles—in bhakti shastras, or the yoga of devotion—we are told that salvation is of four kinds: salokya, samipya, sarupya, sayujya. Salokya is something like feeling oneself in the kingdom of God. You cannot understand what it all means. Suffice it to say it is something. You have entered the very kingdom of the Absolute. To conceive it is not practicable at present, because the mind is not yet prepared for it in this course of study. It is a matter for you to personally attain in your individual practice. When you feel as if you have landed on the runway, as it were, of the kingdom of God—you have landed your plane in the airport of God's kingdom—you feel a thrill. You have not seen anything of God, but you are in His kingdom; that is itself sufficient. You are still at the airport and have not seen anything yet, but it does not matter; you are there. This is one kind of salvation, to feel oneself as present in the kingdom of God.

The second stage is nearness to the location of God, if at all you can conceive such a thing as location. You are nearer to the Supreme Being. You have not seen or felt the Supreme Being, but you feel a sensation of being approximate to That. It is a higher stage than merely being conscious of being in the kingdom of God. This is called samipya, nearness.

In the third stage, you look like one of the denizens or citizens of that kingdom. You are not a foreigner with alien clothes entering into that kingdom. You begin to shine like anybody else there. You look like everybody inhabiting that kingdom. You become a shining personality, and that kind of being and contour cannot be described. This is called sarupya, having the same form as the people, the individuals, the salvation-attained souls inhabiting that kingdom.

The last is, of course, entry into God's Being; that is sayujya. This is something like what is told to us in these yoga techniques of an ascent that is going to rise higher than these stages that we have already considered as savitarka, nirvitarka, savichara and nirvichara—where pure universal thought begins to operate, and we stand inseparable from the universe itself.