by Swami Krishnananda
The problems of a seeker of Truth can be evaluated and an attempt be made to arrive at a satisfactory solution of the same, only if it can be possible to come to a definite conclusion as to their causes, even the remote ones which may not be immediately recognisable or discoverable, but which, perhaps, are the main reasons behind every form of human problem. Just as a good physician, while conducting a medical examination, does not immediately jump into a prescription for the disease merely on the observation of certain symptoms outside but would take care to see that the causes of the illness are properly investigated, in which case it is obvious that when the cause is treated, the effect is automatically dealt with in the manner required; even so is the case with the difficulties of human life and the various facets which they present to human observation as if they are independent difficulties, while they might be, for all purposes, only diversifications of a few, or even a single major problem.
If we are to apply this scientific method of inquiry of the causes of the problems of human life, we would naturally be led into an investigation, at the same time, of the various types of phenomena in Nature which form the atmosphere or environment of the human individual or even human society as a whole. Even as the prescription of a medical recipe is preceded by a careful conduct of an examination of a case in hand, and its investigation, again, is rooted in a thorough grasp of anatomy and physiology and the entire philosophy of medical science, an investigation into the nature of human problems and a finding out of the proper remedies for them would call for a deeper procedure of logical inquiry in a systematic manner; but this process would be guided by the principles of the philosophy of life itself. An inductive analysis of the whole of personal and natural phenomena leads us to the discovery of deeper and more inclusive principles rather than persons, objects or things, and we are led along the lines of the vision of a new world altogether, which could not be a conglomeration of isolated persons or objects but an interrelated play of powers, laws and forces which seem to come together into a fraternal embrace. This means to say that the object of investigation becomes not a single item, person or thing, or even a cluster of objects or events, but a sort of limitless expanse which may cover the entire universe itself.
But, how can all Nature be known, or anything be known at all, if there is not a witnessing or observing consciousness? How can there be anything known if there is not a knower of it? And it needs no mention that while it is possible that the known can be material or unconscious, the knower cannot be so. The knower should be conscious. Not only this; consciousness cannot be merely an attribute of the knower, but it must be the essence of the knower himself: else, consciousness would be an attribute of an unconscious base, a conclusion very absurd on the very face of it. It follows that the knower should be consciousness in substance and essence, and it is consciousness that knows phenomena.
But, again, what is the relation between consciousness and its object? The relation itself has to be conscious or be a mode of consciousness: else, the connection would be unconscious and there would be no possibility of anyone knowing anything at all. The accepted fact is that there is such a thing as knowledge, which should prove that not only is the knower a centre of consciousness but even the relation between the knower and the known has to be a process of consciousness. Further, as this relation between the knower and the known, namely, the process of knowing, has itself to be somehow connected with the object known, and its connection would be a second relation, which has now to be explained, the final conclusion would be that it is impossible to have a connection between the knower and the known unless the object also is a phenomenon of consciousness itself. Now, we come to a wonderful conclusion:—Consciousness knows consciousness through consciousness. All existence is consciousness, which is the meaning of the famous dictum of the Vedanta philosophy, that ‘sat’ is ‘chit’:—Existence is Consciousness. This is reality, the conclusion we arrive at by pure logical analysis.
This inductively obtained conclusion is corroborated by the Upanishads which speak of the Supreme Absolute, willing itself to become a subtle causal form of potential being. This original potential condition is termed, in the Vedanta, isvara, or the Supreme Creator. This latent potentiality of manifestation then gets accentuated into the faint outlines of the future contingence and form of the universe, and this state of universal manifested being is called hiranyagarbha. There is a further process of completion of the functioning of manifestation when the outlines drawn in the earlier stage become ways for the grosser visible shape of the universe known as virat. Here is the lowermost or the final form of universal manifestation, where the different formations, configurations or shapes do not constitute isolated or segregated points of self-affirmation or individuality but remain as the focusing points of the single Universal Being, the virat.
But, then, the work of ‘individuation’ commences when these focusing points begin to assert their independence, and then they are not mere points for focusing or concentration of the universal but absolutely different forms or bodies cut off from one another by space and time, with apparently no relationship among one another, because the work of space and time is precisely that of segregation or isolation of one part from the other or one form from another form. There is, then, a sudden catastrophe, as it were, befalling every such self-assertive individual centre, and each such centre feels within its total individual being a restlessness, as if death has overtaken it, and there is the fear of impending destruction threatening from all sides, for it is quite understandable that when the individual has severed itself from the universal reality which is its sustaining Power, it should naturally feel an agony and anguish that everything is in a state of chaos and fear yawning with open jaws from everywhere in the atmosphere. To obviate this fear and get rid of this calamitous state of affairs, the individual struggles to gain back what it has lost, which is possible only by a return to the universal form of unitedness, because the universal is inclusive of every individual in a total unity of singleness of being and the individual which has lost the consciousness of its inseparability from the universal attempts in an artificial manner to bring this universality into manifestation and active participation by struggling to come in contact with other forms or individuals. It wrongly feels that physical and psychological contact with other individuals would be a remedy to restore the lost universality and inclusiveness. For this purpose of a physical and psychological contact with every other individual, the consciousness within carefully projects the powers of sense, namely those of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching, together with the corresponding physical organs through which these powers are made to work for the purpose of the intended contact with other individuals. It also projects the psychological organs of the ego, of thinking, feeling and willing for the purpose of a psychological contact with other individuals. This method, it feels, will bring about the needed universality or unitedness with every individual or form, and with this conviction it rushes forward towards the other individuals with a vehemence and impetuosity of hope not only to contact the individuals outside but even absorb them into itself, so that there would be no externality or even existence of other individuals and there would be only a single universality of its own selfhood. This is the reason behind perception of objects, thought of objects and desire for objects through the senses and the mind: The intention of all these activities of the individual consciousness is to restore universality in its selfhood. But, alas, this is not to be; for universality cannot be restored by sense-contact with external objects or even thought of external objects, since externality which is the special feature of space and time prevents the merger of one individual with the other, nay, even an actual contact, possession or enjoyment of the object, except merely, in a stupid imagination which makes out that there is the joy of heaven prevailing even in the stink of hell.