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A Textbook of Yoga
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 15: Questions and Answers – Part 1

Student: In the dream state, do the will and the discrimination work as powerfully as in the waking state, or is there a difference?

Swamiji: The will and the discrimination work as powerfully in the dream state as in the waking state, only in a different order of space and time. In terms of the degree of reality, the experience in dream is qualitatively a lesser level that in waking, yet it has all the characteristics of the waking state. For instance, the human being can be regarded as a higher level of reality than an animal, yet all the biological functions are similar both in the human being and in the animal. Whatever man feels, the animal also feels; nevertheless, the animal is in a lower category of reality than the human. So there is a distinction between the degrees of reality, but they are identical from the point of view of structure—qualitatively different, structurally the same.

Student: Is it because of this qualitative difference in the degree of experience that the dream state is lesser than the waking state, and therefore all concepts and memory are less in the dream state than in the waking state?

Swamiji: Yes, you may say that. Correct.

Student: In the state of samadhi, do thoughts exist?

Swamiji: There are two kinds of thought. In Sanskrit, one kind of thought is called vishayakara vritti, and the other kind is called brahmakara vritti. The meaning of these two terms is that while the mind thinks of an object external to it, it assumes the form of that object and is cast in the mould of the object—even as molten lead cast in a crucible takes the form of that crucible. This operation of the mind in terms of the cognition of an object outside is what, in psychology, is usually called a psychosis; and this is what is meant by the Sanskrit word vishayakara vritti.

Now comes the answer to your question of whether there is a thought in samadhi. There is a thought, but it is called brahmakara vritti. In samadhi the mind does not think of anything outside it, but thinks that in which it itself is involved. Brahmakara vritti means cosmic psychosis; vishayakara vritti means objective psychosis. The samadhi vritti, the samadhi psychosis, is cosmic in the sense that the perceiver—the cogniser, or the one that is aware—gets merged in that of which it is aware. So you may say that the mind functions in samadhi also, but in a cosmic fashion, not in a particularised, individual fashion. Virtually, you may not call it mind at all. It has ceased to be the tormenting type of mind which we people have. It is a liberated mind. Nevertheless, you may call it a mind if you like because it is aware—not of an object outside, but of the total cosmos. So the mind is there, or you may say it is not there, either way.

Student:What is the law of nature?

Swamiji: The law of nature is what nature thinks in its mind. Your law is what you are thinking in your mind. Nature cannot be said to be thinking of anything outside itself, because outside nature nothing exists. Everything is inside nature, so if nature is thinking, what will it think? It will think only itself. So this total, inclusive thought of nature thinking also includes space and time because they are part of nature. Nature thinking is something like God thinking, because it is said that nature as we see it manifest in the form of this universe is God's body. This is also one of the conclusions of acharyas, etc., that the world is the body of God. Hence, if nature thinks, it will think only itself. It cannot think anything else.

So when you have to follow the law of nature perfectly, you have to think as nature would think. That is total harmony with its entire structure. Then it is something like being friendly with God Himself. To be friendly with nature is virtually to be friendly with God; and to think as nature thinks is something like thinking like God Himself. The total thought of the entire creation may be said to be the law of nature.

Student:Nature is said to be inside God.

Swamiji: God is a consciousness without the intervention of space-time and the causal relation of things. Nature, at least as we hear it said in the scriptures, is a visible form of the very same consciousness. The distinction between God and nature is something like the distinction between the soul and the body. You have got a soul and a body. You cannot say that the soul and the body are the same, and yet you cannot say that they are totally different. If they are totally different, the soul can be kept here and the body can be kept there. That you cannot do, so they are not two things; and yet, you cannot say that the body is the soul, nor can you say that the soul is the body. The soul is a manifestation. To express this more concretely, you may even say the condensation of universal Consciousness appears as this nature. It is something like water becoming ice.

Student: What is the difference between God and God-realisation?

Swamiji: A person who has realised God is called a God- realised soul. There are seven stages of God-realisation. These seven stages are mentioned in one way in the sutras of Patanjali, and in another way in the Yoga Vasishtha—especially in the Yoga Vasishtha.

When a person is free from all the desires to which ordinary people are accustomed, and thinks in the mind: “I want God only. My desire is to have God. I don't have a desire for anything else”, this thought itself can be regarded as the first stage, or step, towards God. You need not call it God-realisation, but nevertheless it is a great thing even to be convinced that you want only that. One cannot easily think like that. Most people have all kinds of ideas. But if you are convinced that this is the only thing that you want, it is the first step that you have taken towards God-realisation. In the language of the Yoga Vasishtha, it is called subhechcha: the desire to do the good thing, the only good thing being the love of God. This is the first step.

The second stage is vicharana. You do not merely think, but you start analysing into the ways and means of moving still further: “How can I go? What steps am I taking? What are the sadhanas?” Going on thinking like this, going to Gurus, and reading scriptures so that your mind becomes active in that direction, is the second stage.

The third stage is that the mind is almost detached from all objects. It is called tanumanasi. Tanu means thin, thread-like. The mind becomes thread-like, as if it is breaking.

The fourth stage is the actual spiritual condition. The first three are the stages of a seeker, a sadhaka. The last four are the stages of an actually realised person. The fourth stage is called sattvapatti, which means the light of the cosmos will start flashing in your mind, like lightning. Just as you see lightning flashes when there is a cloudy and rainy atmosphere, like that you will see lightning flashes, illuminations, etc., from inside.

The fifth stage is asamsakti. You will have no desire even to see a thing, let alone desire to have it. The eyes do not have any interest to see things; the ears have no desire to hear anything; the nose has no desire to smell; the tongue has no desire to taste; the hands have no desire to touch. Even the desire to be conscious of the existence of something outside goes.

The sixth state is padartha-bhavana. You will begin to see matter itself shining like gold. Now it is all brick and mortar, iron, and all kinds of things. In the state of padartha-bhavana, it will all look like shining gold. Things will not look like material objects, but as if one thing only is pervading everywhere, as if the whole world is made up of gold. Now you see mountains, trees, people, things, but afterwards it is like all ornaments look like one gold. The true Reality will be seen at that time.

The last stage is that you will actually merge into it. You will also become that very gold, and there will be no distinction between the knower of it and that which is known. These are the stages of God-realisation. In the previous stages there are differences, but in the last stage there is no difference. You will merge into it.

Student: Have I realised God?

Swamiji: Are you a realised person?

Student: Yes.

Swamiji: I am very glad. [To the class] You have got a Guru. Your Guru us here! I am very glad, sir. You are a confident boy. But be careful, very careful. [Laughter]God is the most kind mother. No mother can be so kind as God, but no judge in a court can be so severe as God. So how will you compare these two aspects? He is the most severe judiciary, and the kindest of mothers. These two qualities cannot be found in one person in the world. Generally, a mother thinks in one way and a father thinks in another way. But there, one person is like both. This judicial impartiality is the same as the kindness of a mother. It is difficult to explain because such a thing is not seen in this world.

Student: Does rebirth take place immediately? How is it decided what one will be in the next birth?

Swamiji: Rebirth need not take place immediately. It can take place immediately if the karma is very intense; otherwise, it may take its own time. The decision will be taken by the desires which remain at the time of death. Even now you can know, to some extent, what you will be in your next birth by analysing your own thoughts.

Today at sunset time, sit quiet. Go on thinking from the morning onwards, till this moment, what your predominant thoughts have been. Of course, you might have been thinking of the Academy, going to the kitchen, taking bath and washing clothes; these are all secondary matters. But basically, in your subconscious, what have you been thinking the whole day? Yesterday, what did you think? The day before yesterday, what did you think? This is why it is said that it is very important to keep a spiritual diary. You cannot remember what you thought ten days ago. If you keep a diary and make notes, you can know the balance sheet of thirty days of thinking. You can say that these are the basic thoughts that occurred to your mind. This is what you will become in the next birth, to fulfil that desire. You can yourself know what you will become in the next birth. You need not consult any scripture; your thoughts are very well known to you. What do you want? Ask your own mind what it wants.

In the classroom of this Academy you say you want God, but is not like that. Go to the road, go to the railway station, go to the marketplace, and then see what you are thinking. Those thoughts are also important. The essence of all these will be taken out, like butter from milk, and that will condense itself into a body, which is called rebirth. It is not decided by anybody else. You decide your own fate, and you create your own rebirth. Nobody is punishing you. Your thoughts are your makers, and you can, if you are impartial in judging your own mind, know what you will become in the next birth. It is not very difficult.

Student: How can I know which path is best for me? Should I choose it by myself?

Swamiji: If you can choose for yourself any good path among the many, very good. You can choose. But if you are unable to choose, you can ask your Guru. The Guru is supposed to know the mind of the disciple to some extent; and knowing you very well, he will tell what is the path for you at this moment. If you yourself can decide, fine. Otherwise, ask your Guru.

Student: Is Consciousness static or dynamic?

Swamiji: When Consciousness is in itself, it is static, but when creation takes place, it is dynamic. Electricity is pervading here even now, but it is not dynamic. It can become active by certain technological appliances which generate this active part of it—like a dynamo, for instance. If a dynamo is operating, you will see the active part of electricity. Otherwise, when electricity is pervading everywhere and you cannot see it in a general form, you can call it static, if you like. Even when the wind does not blow and the leaves are not moving, air is there, and so the wind is static. When the wind blows—it is moving, and all the trees are shaking—it is dynamic. So you can say that wind is originally static, but it is potentially dynamic. You cannot say air is static or dynamic because it can become both. In the same way, to think of Consciousness as totally free from creative activity, you may call it static.

Student: What is the qualitative difference between the dream state and the waking state?

Swamiji: In dream, you enter a different world altogether. The qualitative difference arises on account of a new space-time that you create. There is an objective physical space-time in the waking state, and there is only psychological space-time in the dream state. That is why a qualitative difference takes place. Dreams occur due to various reasons. It is not due to one reason only. One of the reasons is that, in the waking condition, you have got some submerged desires which you cannot express in daily life. Because the intellect, which censors your actions in the waking condition, is not operating in dream, the subconscious mind comes up, just as thieves start operating when policemen are not there.

But there are also other reasons for dreams occurring. They can foretell something that is going to happen in the future; or you may be a good sadhaka and so all the karmas are getting exhausted. Sometimes there are very pleasant things, and sometimes unpleasant things. Sometimes Dr. Jekyll comes, and sometimes Mr. Hyde comes.

I heard that in Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa's life there was an incident that when he was in an intense state of semi-samadhi, a black man started coming out of his body. From the left side, a dark man emerged. It was the Kalapurusha. That evil tendency in human nature completely went out of him. You can read about many fantastic experiences, such as Buddha having an experience in his meditations.

Sometimes there are temptations, sometimes there are threats, and sometimes there are delusions. They are all accumulated karmas of previous lives manifesting themselves in concrete form. These old karmas say they have done enough service to you, and now they are going. And when they go, naturally you see them. You never knew that they were inside you because you were so friendly with them that you never knew that they are different from you. But when they take leave of you, you find them to be pleasant things or unpleasant things.

Sometimes dreams occur due to the grace of God and the blessing of Guru. Suppose there is some very bad karma, due to which a person is to fall from a tree and break his leg. If God shows His kindness, and your love of God is intense, and Guru is also giving his blessing, you will fall from a tree and break you leg in dream. You will feel the same pain there. You will also yell; you will cry. But actually it has been ameliorated into a dream experience, and when you wake up you are perfectly all right.

Various other reasons are also there. So many reasons are mentioned by psychoanalysts, which we never consider. As far as spiritual seekers are concerned, we may say that karmas from past births, or even from this birth, are the causes of dream experiences.

Student: Is it true that all individuals are always meditating?

Swamiji: Why are you saying that? All individuals are not meditating. They may be thinking something. Every individual is thinking something, but you cannot call it meditating. Meditating means thinking only one thing; and if you think that every individual in the world is thinking only one thing, you may say they are all meditating. But each one has his own thoughts, and nobody is meditating. Meditation is one thought, and nobody has got one thought. All people have many thoughts. So it is not correct to say that all people are always meditating.

Student: Is it possible to be in the state of aham brahmasmi always?

Swamiji: That is the same as being in the state of God-consciousness, if you can intensely feel and convince yourself that you are inseparable from all that you see with the eyes—all this cosmos. I mentioned a number of times in earlier sessions that your personality is made up of the same substance as the world outside. So when you think, naturally you cannot think the world outside. You think that which is a blend of both. If this intention can be driven into your mind and you can feel it intensely, that is aham brahmasmi.

You are asking how long can you do it. You can be in this state of aham brahmasmi as you long as you can maintain this consciousness. You cannot do it for more than a few minutes because you will again think that something is outside. The moment that you think that there is something outside you, that aham brahmasmi consciousness has gone. You can think for yourself how many times you have felt that you are inseparable from the world. It may be for a few seconds or a few minutes, but the whole day is spent thinking something else unless you are deeply engaged in this practice.

Student: In the perceptual process, does the thought come before the prana vibrates on the mind?

Swamiji: Thought comes first.

Student: Thought comes because the prana vibrates on the mind. And is it the prana that goes to the sense object when we perceive things?

Swamiji: The prana will not go to the object unless the mind starts thinking the object. Prana is mostly inside the body. It can be driven out from the body and directed to an object outside when the mind thinks of that object. The thought of the mind in respect of an object is like a wire that connects this dynamo of the mind with that object, and then it becomes a live wire. The thought becomes a live wire, as it were, and the prana is discharged through the thought. Prana moves towards an object only when the mind thinks of the object. Otherwise, it will be inside the body only. Whatever you think in your mind is also the target of the prana. If you think something that is even at a very distant place, the prana will go there, and it will operate. There is a thing called telepathy. Telepathic action is due to the thought of the mind working in terms of some distant object and getting charged with the prana of the person, which invisibly travels because of the force of the thought. So prana moves to an object only when the mind thinks of the object.

Student: The mind thinks because of the vibration of prana.

Swamiji: The mind thinks because of desire. Prana has no consciousness. Therefore, it cannot think an object. It is like electricity; it has no mind, no brain. It can be directed to something only if the engineer is behind it to direct it in some way. Prana cannot think, but it can act. The mind acts through the prana. Prana and mind are like thought and action put together.

Student: That is also thought, Swamiji.

Swamiji: Maybe. When I say desire, it means thought only. When the mind thinks of an object, it is manifesting a desire: wanting it or not wanting it. Then it takes a step in the direction of fulfilling that desire. That step is in terms of the prana. Prana is the action of the mind. It thinks, and then acts. Mere thinking is the mind, but action is the prana. If you think that you have to lift something with your hand, the prana actually moves the hand in that direction and lifts it. So thought and prana go together.

Student: It is the prana that vibrates on the mind and generates thoughts.

Swamiji: Prana does not generate thought. It is the mind that generates the prana—the other way around.

Student: After being established in the Self, does the person do any work?

Swamiji: Do you mean to say that God is established in the Self, or not? Do you think God is established in the Self? Then what work is God doing? It is that same work that the person who is established in the Self will do. Does God work or not? What work is God doing just now?

Student: He is not working.

Swamiji: If He is not working, then a Self-realised person does not work. You have answered your question. But if you say God is working, then a Self-realised person also does work.

There was a king who saw a mahatma and said, “Come, Mahatmaji. Sit. Tell me, what is God doing just now?”

The mahatma said, “This is not the way of putting a question. You are sitting on a throne and I am sitting on the floor in front of you, and you are asking me a question. You are like a student. I am like a teacher. The teacher sitting on the floor, and the student sitting on the throne, is not the proper way. You must sit on the floor, and I must sit on the throne. Then only can the answer come.”

“All right,” said the king. “I will sit on the floor.” He got down and told the mahatma to sit on the throne.

“This is what God is doing,” said the mahatma. “He puts the top man down and the down man up. You are a king; you sat on the floor. I am a poor fellow; I sat on the throne. This is what God does.”

So I answered your question about what God is doing.

Student: How can I identify the presence of God?

Swamiji: When you cannot see anything outside you, and your presence, your personality, is totally identified with everything that you see, you may say that you are God-conscious. Your consciousness must be as much in union with things that you see with your eyes as your consciousness is now identified with your body. You are so very intimately connected with your body that you cannot say that your body is outside consciousness. If that intensity of consciousness can be felt in respect of all the things that you see outside, then you are one with nature, and you may say you are one with God also. It is a question of intense conviction and feeling of your heart. It can be done in one minute or it may take years, depending on the intensity of your longing for it.

Student: What is the most suitable method to realise God in Kali Yuga?

Swamiji: The common answer which all mahatmas generally give is that kirtan-bhajan is the best. They say that in this Kali Yuga, taking God's name is the easiest and the best way. Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare. This is the Kali Santarana mantra, which enables you to cross over the samsara of Kali Yuga.

Student: What is the meaning of Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare?

Swamiji: Hari is the Almighty Creator of the Universe. Sometimes they also call him Narayana. Rama and Krishna are his incarnations. In Rama's incarnation, he demonstrated perfect humanity, and in Krishna's incarnation, he demonstrated perfect divinity. Perfect universality which is Hari, perfect humanity in Rama, and perfect divinity in Krishna—all three perfections are blended together in this mantra. Therefore, it is a very great, powerful mantra. So do kirtan every day.

It is said that Brahma told this mantra to Narada. It may be that Narayana, the Original, must be thought of much more than the manifestations. You may say that.

Student: What is the difference between Brahman and Brahma?

Swamiji: Brahma is the creative originality, as in Brahma, Vishnu, Siva; but Brahman is the Absolute, which is beyond all the three. Brahma, Vishnu and Siva are manifestations of another thing which is inclusive of all the three. The Supreme Absolute, Brahman, manifests itself as the Creator, the Preserver and the Destroyer. When you think of the Absolute as the Creator, it is Brahma; as the Preserver, it is Vishnu; as the Dissolver of all things, it is Rudra or Siva, as the case may be. But Brahman is beyond all.

Student: Is time a movement of consciousness?

Swamiji: Yes. Correct.

Student: If so, why does time not move backwards?

Swamiji: The mind, which is basically our consciousness, is projected outwardly through the sense organs. We think only through the sense organs, we cannot think in any other way, and the force of the sense organs is always outward. The senses cannot think backward. It is not that you cannot go back in time. You can. In certain states, you can also know the past. But usually it cannot be done on account of the power of the sense organs which push the consciousness outward, and therefore it looks as if time moves in only one direction and not in another, though time has three directions: past, present and future. But mostly you can think only in one way because of the sense organs pushing the mind in one direction, like water gushing through a pipe. The water will go in only one direction.

Student: Is it possible for time to go back?

Swamiji: It can go back, if you control the senses. A physicist of relativity said that there was a person who came tomorrow and will go back yesterday. It means that in this cosmos of relativity where everything is interdependent, there is no past, present and future. A person came tomor-row and he will return yesterday. It has no sense, but it has all sense when time is abolished.

Student: Where is the whole cosmos?

Swamiji: What you are seeing with your eyes is the entire cosmos. You are seeing one part of it. When something is very small, the whole thing can be seen. But it is so big, so you are seeing only a part of it, like the story of the blind men and the elephant. The elephant is so big, but they saw only one part of it—the leg, which looked like a pillar. Similarly, you are seeing only a part of the cosmos, and you are calling it something. You cannot see the whole cosmos because your eyes are so small. What you see with your eyes is the cosmos only. You are walking on it.

Student: Are all mantras of equal value?

Swamiji: Yes, correct. All names are finally names of God, and therefore if you have faith that this name is really the name of God, it will take you to God.

Student: Is there any power in the mantra, or is it the concept of the mind that is the power?

Swamiji: A mantra has got its own power. Your conception also adds to it, but it has a power by itself. The very words of the mantra are arranged in such a way that they generate a kind of power when they are chanted. A chemical action takes place when the mantra is chanted. The words act and react to produce a force. That is why even by mantra chanting itself you can realise God, and you need not think of chakras. You can completely forget them. Mantras will do the work of other yogas as well. If you are convinced that this mantra is sufficient for you, you need not do any other yoga. The mantra will take care of you. It is enough. It is a complete yoga by itself.

Student: Is there a difference between the cosmos and the within?

Swamiji: The within is included in the cosmos. The so-called within is inside the cosmos. There is no within and without for the cosmos. The outside and the inside are both included in the cosmos. So it has no inside, and it has no outside. It is one total whole.

Student: What is the Mahakaran?

Swamiji: Mahakaran means the Supreme Cause of the universe, Mulaprakriti, or God Himself.

Student: It is said that in meditation, concentration stops. How do concentration and meditation differ?

Swamiji: Concentration is the first stage; meditation is the next stage. When concentration deepens, when you go on concentrating on the same thing continuously and there is only one thought without break, that process of intensified, prolongated concentration is called meditation. When your meditating consciousness merges into the object, it is called samadhi.

Student: Does our life consist of different relationships of names and forms?

Swamiji: Correct.

Student: So relationships are not real, but nature is the real friend because nature constitutes the panchabhuta, and our body also constitutes the panchabhuta?

Swamiji: Actually, nature by itself has no name and form. You see, you are there as a person. If the body as a whole can be attributed with a consciousness of its own, it will not think that there are fingers, hands, legs, and so on. It will only see that it is existing. You are giving names—finger, hand, etc.—for your convenience. Likewise, nature itself may not be conscious of people, trees, leaves, etc. It only knows ‘I am'. That is the difference. So name and form exist for us, but it does not exist for nature by itself.

Thank you very much. God bless you.