Awakening into Cosmic Existence
by Swami Krishananda (www.swami-krishnananda.org)
(Spoken to the students in the Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy on October 10, 1996)
I was trying to introduce you to the foundations of the practice of what is known as yoga, or union with Reality. Without going into the depths of the philosophical involvement in connection with this subject, I may try to take you directly to the practical side, which is more important than just information about the details, theoretical or metaphysical.
Suffice it to say, what we suffer from is the unconsciousness of the fact that we are totally bereft of contact with reality. In a sense, we are living in a very, very false world – false in the sense that this world of our experience is constructed by an artificial arrangement that we have made between ourselves and what we consider as outer reality. There is an artificial adjustment that we make within our own selves also, and we are unable to align our psychological personality properly, so that rarely we feel that we are whole persons, very complete in ourselves. Rather, we feel that there is a lacuna in every one of us. The sense that we lack something in our own self is the beginning of the problems of life.
It is true that there is an intrinsic and in-depth insufficiency in everyone’s personality, which is engendered by the isolation of our individuality from what is to be considered as true reality. But, what is this true reality, from which we have, for some reason or the other, separated ourselves?
We seem to be separate from everything. We can never feel a kind of harmony between ourselves with anything inside or outside. All things look scattered hither and thither in a finite fashion, and nothing seems to have any connection with another. This frightens our personality very deeply, because we seem to be living in a forest of disorganised arrangements of things and persons in the world, so that we do not know how to deal with anything that we see with our eyes or hear with our ears.
Our mind is a droplet of the Cosmic Mind. That which really thinks is the Cosmic Mind, though we imagine in our ignorance that we can think independently. In a way, pragmatically speaking, each one of us thinks independently, and quite differently from other people. This difference in the way of our thinking as individuals is caused not because the Cosmic Mind is not working in any one of us, but because it is reflected in our personality in different ways, due to the structure of what we may call the root of our individuality. We are individuals, not identical with one another in the pattern of the composition of the individuality.
There are many houses, but one house does not look like another house, in spite of the fact that all the houses may be constructed out of the same material. The shapes differ, the pattern differs, and the aesthetic presentation also differs. Vibrations differ, due to the arrangement of the very same substance, which is the substance of any other structure in the world.
We say one atom is different from another atom. The difference arises in the inner composition and the velocity of the components of the atoms. In a similar manner, there are units which are composite in their nature, which constitute our individuality, and they set up vibrations of different kinds, on the basis of the manner in which they are arranged.
People who build houses, if they are careful enough, follow a system called vastu shastra, the art and science of house building, which takes care of the fact that the pattern of the structure produces a vibration of its own. Factors such as the direction, the shape, the particular angle towards sunlight, etc., are taken into consideration, especially in temple building, so that the temple, if it is properly constructed, becomes a visible symbol of the cosmos itself, and also a visible symbol of the individuality of a person. Buildings, temples, etc., are not meaningless structures. They create vibrations by the very nature of the manner in which the material is used.
This explains the reason why we seem to be different persons, though basically the same flesh and blood, the same earth, water, fire, air and ether – the same physical elements – constitute the body of every human being, and even of animals. The pattern, structure or arrangement of the inner components, caused by some pressure exerted upon the future possibility of individuality, determines why we are what we are.
What is this pressure? We are born with a force which decides the entire career of our life. We are told that even when a child is in the womb, its future is determined by the power or the impulsion which has made it enter into the womb. The impulsion is generally considered to be the potency created by past actions, past thoughts, past feelings, etc. These determine the nature of the form of the child inside the womb – even its longevity, its experiences, and the time of death. Everything is decided in the womb itself.
So, in spite of the fact that we as individuals are drops of the Cosmic Mind, we seem to be different on account of an agitation of the inner components of our individuality, which has to be set at rest. When Patanjali Maharshi says that yoga is the settling of the vrittis or the psychoses of the mind, what he means is setting at rest the agitation of the inner components of our psyche, caused by haphazard arrangement, without any proper vision of the reality to which this personality is connected.
Chitta vritti nirodha: The restraint of the mind is actually the restraint of the agitations of the mind, which are called vrittis. Every vritti is a psychosis, the mode of operation of the mind, and it is a disturbance. The Yoga Shastra mentions five types of agitation, into which detail we need not go now. It is sometimes dull, sleeping, as if it has no life at all, like a snake coiled up, as if it is dead. Sometimes it is moving, with a slight disturbance in its body. Sometimes it rises up into action. Sometimes it sleeps again, and afterwards gets up again. This is what is happening to our mind.
Yoga is a difficult subject. It is restraint, not of somebody, but it is a restraint of our own selves. Our divinity is the Cosmic Mind. That is our God. It is not merely all-pervading; it is the only existent thing. It may be called Cosmic Consciousness. It is not a totality of individual minds. It is the universal substance out of which the individual minds appear to be constituted.
The ocean is not a total of many drops. It is an integrated, undivided mass in which the apparently divided drops lose themselves. We should not imagine that the Cosmic Mind is made up of many individual minds. There is no many-ness there; it is indivisible.
Now, how would we manage to contemplate within ourselves the indivisibility of a cosmical operation through the mind, which apparently appears to be locked up within our body? In one of the sutras of Patanjali, a prescription is given. The trouble is that we always insist that the mind is inside the body only. The Cosmic Mind being the substance of the individual mind, it is the substance of everyone’s mind, also.
In the beginning stages, this difficult process of transferring the individual mind to the cosmic stuff can be attempted by a simple prescription of Patanjali, which he describes in one sutra: bahih akalpita vrittih mahavideha tatah prakasa avarnaksayah (3.44). Transfer your mind to that which is not you, so that the conflict between not you and you ceases, to a large extent. Think through the mind of that which the mind is cognising, or the eyes are beholding. It is not actually a thinking; it is a transference of the whole personality itself.
Many people put a question whether this transference of oneself to a larger dimension is a thought process, imagination, or intellectual activity. It is none of these things. It is the transference of the whole being itself. For instance, when you know that you are existing, this knowledge that you are existing is not intellectual appreciation; you are not just intellectually concluding that you are existing. You are not just feeling emotionally that you are existing. You are not volitionally asserting that you are existing. You just exist, and there is no question about the way in which you know that you are existing.
This is what is known as being. It is known only by experience. You know that you are a being, which you know by a faculty which is being itself. It is this being total that gets transferred into the being of that which you consider as different from yourself, so that the dimension of your being gets expanded, by a modicum at least, into the dimension of that which you originally thought to be different from yourself.
Let the mind go out of yourself and transfer itself. Here again, do not use the word ‘mind’. The whole being is transferred. You are there, which you have been beholding with the eyes, or which you have been thinking in your mind. A difficulty in this is that you require tremendous will power to feel that you are another thing. Balesu hasti baladini (3.25) is one sutra: Elephantine strength comes by deeply transferring yourself to the elephant. You are not imagining that you are the elephant; the whole potency which arises out of the structure of the elephantine body enters into you. It becomes one with you.
Samadhi is only a word that we use for this kind of union of the reality of another thing with the reality of your own self. Samadhi is not actually a union of two different things. If they are two different things, then it cannot be called a union. It is becoming one. When two drops of water are mixed together, there is only one drop left. You do not have two drops. It is not like one stick and another stick coming together as two sticks. Two drops of water become one drop, only. Like that, when your being is united with the being of another, there is only one being, and not two beings coming together. But that being is larger in its dimension because the finitude of your so-called individual being is, to some extent, eliminated by the addition of the being of another, which you earlier thought was different from you.
This technique can be applied to anything in the world, but you must be very sincere in this practice. You should not feel that it may come or not. It must come. The Cosmic Mind is not your imagination; it is the thing which existed prior to the manifestation of your individuality, and exists even now as a transcendent element which controls the operation of your individual mind.
There is an ordinary distinction made between the subjective perceptional side and the objective object side, without actually knowing how we come to know that the object exists itself. There is a transcendental connecting link, which is called adhidaiva. That consciousness which is responsible for making you feel that you are in union with the object is transcendent in the sense that it operates not only in you as a subject, but also in that which you consider as an object, yet rises above both, so that when you see an object, you are not seeing the object. It is that which is other than you and the object, which sees both you and the other one. This is another way of transferring your individual being to a wider dimension of higher being. You may call it God; you may call it Cosmic Mind.
Every moment of this practice, you must try to be larger than what you are. Every minute you must attempt to be more than what you are. You should not be satisfied with what you appear to be. Now, the ‘more than what you are’ is not an addition of another thing, like property, gold, silver, land, etc. When land and property are added to you, you do not become more than what you are, because the dimension does not increase by merely imagining that the land and property belong to you. The land must become yourself; then the dimension may increase. Such a thing does not take place in possessions, so any kind of possession does not add to your personality. Therefore, love for luxury, property, money, etc., is not going to increase your happiness, because happiness is the characteristic of being itself. The being of a rich man does not increase in dimension merely because he has gold in the bank. That is a false idea. The person is as miserable as anybody else.
You must make a distinction between possession and being. When you possess a thing, you do not become the being of that object. It is always outside. Even if a ball of gold is in your hand, and you are tightly holding it, it has not become you. It is outside you. You may imagine that the gold is with you, and that you have the gold, but you do not have it. It drops out.
Being is to be distinguished from objectivity. The Universal Mind, or Universal Consciousness, is being. It is very, very important to know what being is. It is your being, for instance. The only explanation for what being is, is your own experience of your being. Yoga is practical experience, and cannot be learned by reading books. It requires daily exercise.
Never make the mistake of confusing being with possession or having something. Being is what you are, and not what you have. This is very important. What you are is the characteristic of your perfection and your happiness. What you have is an unnecessary accretion grown around you like moss, and it can be scraped off and you remain as an ordinary individual being.
It is necessary, therefore, to sit for meditation every day, as if it is the only duty in your life. You may have difficulties in reconciling your daily activities – office work, factory work, and other professional commitments – with this meditational technique, because again you make a mistake of thinking that your official duties and daily activities are different from the Cosmic Mind. Just as your being is the being of the Cosmic Mind, the being of the factory and office also is the being of the Cosmic Mind.
I am repeating the word ‘being’ again and again, so that you may know that it is different from ‘having’, or externalised connection. Just as it is important for you to affirm your being with the being of the Cosmic Being, in the same way you have to identify the individuality of every other thing also with this Cosmic Being – including office work, paper, pencil, whatever it is. Even a desk and table are also individuals, and their individuality also has a being of their own, which appears to make them distinct from one another.
Everything is being only. There is nothing else anywhere. Everything asserts its being. A creature, a tree, a plant, a cell, even a little particle of sand, an atom – they are all beings asserting themselves as “I am I”. This “I am I” is the crucial point in understanding the nature of Pure Being. Nobody can explain what this “I am I” is, except through your own personal experience. When you say, “I am what I am”, you know what you mean, and you cannot explain it to anybody else.
The samadhi spoken of in yoga is the union of being with being, so that it does not become a coming together of two beings, but it ends with one being. I gave you an example of two drops of water becoming one drop only. We have to be very careful using words here. United, aligned, coming together – these words do not properly describe the situation, but language is poor, and we have to use some word. It is the incomparable experience of a becoming larger than what you are, by becoming something which is far higher, bigger than what you are. This bigness is not due to the possession of property. It is a bigness of you, yourself, being what you are. You are a bigger being than what your present being is.
God is Pure Being. We consider God as Supreme Being; there is no other name for God. The Supreme Being means a Being which is incomparable with any other kind of being. It is so because of the fact that it is all-being. If it is possible by the purity of your mind, sincerity of your heart and the trustworthiness of your practice to get on with this meditation, you will feel daily happier and happier with whatever circumstance you have been placed in this world. Yoga makes you happy in a very different sense than the happiness that you have by social position, property, etc. You are happy because you are there yourself. You are happy because you are there, but you are there because you ought to be there. This ‘ought’, which is the substance of morality and ethics, is sometimes considered as a future possibility. You ought to be this. When you say that, you are insisting that you must be different from what you are. To be different from what you are may suggest that you have to be something else in the future, but morality is not the future; it is the present. The ought-ness is only an illusory distinction that appears to be made between the present and the future. The future is implanted in the present, so that the ought, or the so-called physical morality, which is divine and cosmic in its nature, not socially made, is implanted in yourself. This ought-ness, which is the essence of ethics and morality, perfection and righteousness, is another aspect of the enhancement of Pure Being. You will not only be a good person in every sense of the term, but you will be a great person.
What is the meaning of greatness? “Here is a great person.” Can anybody imagine what the meaning of “a great person” is? It is a person who is greater than a good person. It is impossible to describe the meaning of that. It is great, grand, magnificent, because it represents Higher Being. Yoga is the union, in the sense explained, of being with being, so that the result is a larger being. Patanjali goes into great details of the stages of this communion, which is of great worth and value to you.
The stages of this union also are mentioned by Patanjali. These stages, actually, do not exist outside. They are the apparent stages of the development of the dimension of your own being, in different stages of involvement of your own internal constitution. The body, the sense organs, the mind, the reason, the subconscious – these things that appear to be inside us, as layers placed one over the other, are the reason for our feeling that there are stages in union. When one aspect of our personality in the state of its being is united with the corresponding being in the outside world, it is one kind of samadhi, a physical union.
Physical union does not mean the coming in contact of one body with another body. It is again the largeness of the very structure of the five elements. The five elements, which constitute our body, appear to be a little conglomeration of their units in the form of our physical personality. They become larger. The very physical structure itself becomes larger. This is one kind of samadhi, where the entire physical feature of the world, not merely of any particular object, gets subsumed under the total, of which the components of our physical body are a part.
This is the lowest of samadhis, where you feel your physical existence has united with the being of all physical things in the world. We call it savitarka. Then, there is a more potent form of the affirmation of this kind of union, which is called nirvitarka. Then, the physical aspect is dropped, and the potency that is behind the physical manifestation, like the electrical energy, we may say, within the atoms, is asserted. When that aspect of our personality is united with the very same energy content of the things outside, that becomes a higher union, still. It becomes a union of energy, rather than any kind of physical imposition. Nirvitarka, savichara, nirvichara,sananda, sasmita – these are the names Patanjali gives, and you must read some good textbook on this subject in order to understand what all this means.
Glories are ahead of you: Thy Kingdom come. The Kingdom of God is coming. It is not coming from the skies. It is coming from the true within; the Kingdom of God is within you. Within whom? Within that which actually is. Since everything is being, the Kingdom of God is within the being of everything, so that the Kingdom of God is another name for the widest being you can think of. Inasmuch as it appears to be internal, we call it ‘within’. It is like saying that we are inside the world, or the world is outside us. We are within the world, but the world is not without; it is not outside, the substance of the world being the substance of our own selves. So, the within-ness here, which is purely mystical and spiritual, is like the so-called within-ness of the identity of the world with your own self. The world is neither outside you, nor inside you; it is just what it is. You are the world and, therefore, it is a universal interiority that is asserted here. That interiority is the metaphysical, philosophical, mystical, spiritual interiority. That is the great mystical within¬ness. In that God resides. This means to say, Being resides in being.
For all this, you have to be a little careful about your psychological behaviour every day, and not be disturbed by your desires. There is desire in every person. Desire is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. It is like electricity. You cannot say that electricity is a dangerous thing, nor can you say that it is a good thing. It is just what it is. It is the electrical engineer who knows how to handle it, and harness it for a given purpose.
Desire is nothing but a call from the Infinite, injected into the finite. It is the Infinite that is summoning you, and telling you, “Come!” This call coming from the Infinite, passing through the finite, looks like a desire for another finite, because of the difficulty that the human egoism feels in actually responding to this Infinite call. Because the Infinite is at the back of all your desires, any fulfilment of a finite desire in a finite fashion does not satisfy. Whatever desire you may try to fulfil through finite contacts will not satisfy you, because the call comes from the Infinite. Since the finite mind is unable to apprehend the presence of the Infinite, it gets distracted here and there like water in high tide or from a broken dam, just moving in any direction whatsoever because it does not know where it is to be directed.
Desire is a divine call of the Infinite communicated to the finite. God is calling you when any desire arises, but you cannot understand that it is coming from God. Why does desire make you restless? Why should you feel restless? Because you consider desire as a motivation from inside towards another finite, and you know very well, two finites do not make the Infinite. And, therefore, even the total finites of the whole world will not satisfy you. Even a king or an emperor cannot be happy because he imagines that his finitude has been conjoined with a multitude of finites, not knowing that it is the ocean that is calling him, rather than a set of other drops.
This is called sublimation of desire. Sublimation does not mean suppression. It is not even diversion. It is something more than that. It is allowing the Infinite Higher to operate through the so-called finitude of ours. Again I come to the point which I mentioned to you: It is the Higher Being that is summoning the lower being. Being calls being. That is wrongly considered as a desire, which we are unable to handle properly. This requires a good guide, a teacher who has passed through these experiences.
You must remember that without a good guide who has personal experience, you should not touch these subjects. Otherwise, you will come in clash with the finitudes, with which your finitude is connected, and you will make yourself miserable. You will never know that there is an infinite meaning behind any kind of disturbance or insecurity that you feel inside, but you wrongly consider it as caused by outside elements. Your non-adjustability with what is happening inside, with the reason why it is happening, is the difficulty that you are facing.
You can never understand this by any amount of thinking, reading books, etc., because yoga is pure practice. Yoga is what you are doing, and not what you are reading or hearing in a lecture. Yoga is actual doing, and not hearing or understanding. It is not professorial knowledge. It is not intellectual acumen. It is not widening understanding. It is widening yourself.
This is a wonder of yoga. Ascaryavat pasyati kascit enam, ascaryavad vadati tathaiva canyah, ascaryavac caiman anyah srnoti, srutvapy enam veda na caiva kascit (B.G. 2.29) Wonder! The only word is wonder. People look at it as a wonder: “What are you talking about? What is this wonder?”Ascaryavad vadati: People speak of it as a great wonder. You can conceive it only as a great wonder, I can speak to you in the language of wonder, and you should listen to it also as a wonder. But, srutvapy enam veda na caiva kascit: Any amount of bombardment upon the individual of this wonder remains eluding, always. No one has grasped it.
A total dedication of your life is necessary for that purpose. People easily mistake one thing for another thing by not having a clear concept of what is being told. An utter dedication to this ideal does not mean going to a forest, throwing off clothes and abandoning family, and then becoming a Sannyasin. It is nothing of the kind. It is a dedication of your being, as I mentioned to you. Your being does not get enhanced merely because you are away from your family. You are just the same person. Physical distance from the world does not mean a real distance.
The word ‘sublimation’ has to be understood properly. It is a transmutation of iron into gold, brute into God, lower being into Higher Being. The word ‘being’ explains everything – union of being with Being. You must know what your being is, apart from what you appear to be physically, socially, politically, etc. – that “I am”. When everything goes, you remain. What is it that remains? You remain. What is this ‘you’? Think over this matter. That which remains finally is the being of yours. It is not ‘yours’; you are the being. This being becomes one with the being of everything.
This is, in one way, how we can describe that the so-called individual mind can become the Universal Mind. When it is all-pervading, it becomes the thing which appeared as finite existence outside you, and you are in a state of bliss, ananda, which is also a samadhi.
The test of the correctness of your meditation is the happiness and the relaxation and freedom that you feel after the meditation is over. If you feel that the meditation session is a bore, it means your concentration has not been properly carried on. Every session of meditation is a joy, and you would like to sit more and more and continue it again and again. Meditation is joy; it is not an exercise.
People do not like the words ‘exercise’, ‘austerity’, and ‘regimentation’. But meditation is not an exercise that is inflicted upon you as a ‘must’ by religions. It is a rising of joy from inside to a state of higher joy – a rising not by scaling the distance through space. It is a rising without actually spatially rising, since lower being is connected to the Higher Being not by a link, but being just what it is in a higher state, like waking consciousness being superior to dream consciousness. There is no chain or a link that connects the dream consciousness with the waking. Waking consciousness is just being, but a higher being in comparison with the lower being of dream consciousness; and why it is higher, you cannot explain. You would like to be awake rather than be dreaming, because the higher being, which is the waking consciousness, gives you greater joy, merely because you have woken up.
So, this is a kind of awakening into Cosmic Existence. It is the birthright of everybody. Yoga is not for you, me, this person, that person. It is not religion. It is the duty of everyone who is born. It is the duty of every human being.