by Swami Krishnananda
Life is neither a history nor a science but an enigma which poses itself as a greater reality than any other value with which one is likely to identify it. The significance of life does not lie in any pattern comparable with an analogical succession of temporal events we call history, nor is it identifiable with a mathematically calculable equation or a procedural system of induction or deduction by which set effects can be said to follow from set causes. Life is nothing of this sort. It, thus, defies an assessment or judgment of its meaning by any type of traditional routine or stereotyped method of procedure, all which are obviously the outcome of a historical or a mathematical attitude which one adopts in the appreciation of the usual demands of life. The interconnectedness and the organic character of the innumerable aspects that go to constitute the significance of life make it almost impossible for an isolated individual to probe into its secrets, because any individualistic approach to life would be an attempt to subject it to the empirical or traditional notions of a three-dimensional approach to things, which is what is precisely meant by the historical or the mathematical way of thinking. It is this erroneous approach that has converted the system of living into a mechanised form of the ethics of sheer do’s and don’ts, which, again, are the corollaries following from the general mechanistic attitude to life. Life is not a machine and hence any system of conduct or behaviour which fixes standard modes of thought and action would stultify the truth of the organic character of existence, which is exactly the essence of life.
The individual finds itself in a world of space-time-relations and there is at once a jump of the individual consciousness to evaluate and interpret life’s meaning in terms of the machine of a stereotyped conduct with a fixed value attached to every person and every thing, for all time to come, so that the evolution or progress of the individual through life’s processes gets tethered up to the procrustean bed of the ‘simple location’ of all things, a fallacy according to which anything is capable of being only in one place, in one condition, at any one time, without any vital connection with other things around it and without relevance to the changing circumstances of the outer atmosphere. It is this erroneous understanding of oneself and one’s external relations that has made life an inscrutable something so that it has never been approached in the manner consonant with its nature or inner structure, the result being a pursuing of the will-o’-the-wisp throughout ore’s career in life, without knowing either its beginning or end towards which it is moving.
The Universe, we are told, was originally a single Infinite Atom, known to us as Brahmanda, or the Cosmic Egg of ancient mystical history, and It split Itself into two, the two becoming the further split parts, again and again, into the innumerable ‘individuals’, now called persons, things, objects. This is the reason for one part rushing for union with another, for, the parts cannot rest except as ‘features’ in the Whole which is ‘wholly’ present in and compels recognition in and through every part. Every part seeks only the Whole.
But, this union is erroneously attempted by the parts by an ‘externalised’ spatio-temporal, physical-psychological contact with the ‘objects’, through the feelings of sense-and-ego-touch in respect of them. Nay, this cannot be, because nothing is outside the Universal Selfhood of Consciousness, and there are, therefore, no objects, each so-called object being merely a phase of this Selfhood. Thus, the longed-for union with the ‘objects’ can be successful only when they become the Subject itself, which longs for them; that is, in the end, the Universal Subject.
From Nature-Oneness there arises a space-distinction and time-duration, the original principle of isolation of one thing from another, the separation of individuality as a ‘located’ ‘subject’ of empirical experience, which sets off all Nature, from which it has risen, as an opposing ‘external’ object. Then, again, the individual sets off other such individuals as its further objects. There is, then, a reversal of the position of consciousness: the object becomes the subject, as it were, due to the transference of the latter to the former for the purpose of contacting outside what is complementary in character to the deficiencies experienced in the psycho-physical form of the latter, and the individual subject, seeing, thus, its own self in an ‘other’, dashes forth towards it, and struggles for union with it. For the Self can love nothing but the Self alone.
Through the grades of the bodily self, object-self, ego-self, family-self, community-self, nation-self, world-self and the Universal-Self, Consciousness endeavours to encompass everything that it sees, touches, hears, smells, or tastes. One’s nearness to the object is obviously the intention here, and hence its merger in oneself must necessarily be the final aim; the greatest happiness, then, is when the object ‘becomes’ the subject. Consciousness rushes out to unite itself with its content when the latter is dissociated from consciousness, and there is, then, the agonising vehemence of consciousness to perpetuate itself by reproduction of its ‘form’ by fusion with its isolated content. This is the tragedy of life, where the subject, instead of realising its being in all things, strives to immortalise its physical and psychical form by a sensory commingling of the temporal ingredients of mortal individuality.
The Universal Being is known as the virat. The virat or the Universal Body is one integrated comprehensiveness, where all ‘points-of-view’ are the glory of a Single Universal ‘Point-of-view’; and, out of the all-grasping, all-uniting level of being which is the virat, consciousness selects a given point-of-view and thus becomes the individual self. Thus arise the countless separate individuals. The content of experience at this level is grouped with reference to an individual point-of-view.