SESSIONS WITH ASHRAM RESIDENTS - 6
The Infinite in Us has to Respond to the Infinite Above
by Swami Krishnananda
(Spoken on January 13, 1997)
There is something in the midst of all things which may miss the attention of people, namely, where we are standing finally in the scheme of things. At the time of creation we are told that God perceived Himself as a universal experience of His own Self. The condensation of the will of God into the potentiality for the future of creation concretised itself in the form of the great picturesque description called the Viratswarupa, which we have in the Eleventh Chapter of the Bhagavadgita. It was a gradual condensation process, as it were, of the interior undivided being of God Almighty. When the descent reached the stage of Virat, a tripartite segregation is said to have taken place. Here the tragedy of creation commences.
I began by saying we must know where we are standing. It is no use foolishly being very active without knowing how it is that we are prompted to become active in any direction whatsoever. The tripartite segregation took place in the manner of an individualised, totally isolated fraction of this Virat in the form of a perceiving centre called jiva consciousness, like that of any one of us. And all the rest was looked upon as an object, namely, the world of five elements.
What did God create? He manifested Himself in a gradation of solidification of Himself as space, air, fire, water, earth. This consciousness entered into all these elements and gradually came down to the level of the earth consciousness, and became body consciousness. We are told that in this process the perception became topsy-turvy. What is the meaning of ‘topsy-turvy perception’? That which was everywhere appeared to be only somewhere, and that which was a universally pervasive being looked like an object outside. That which came first looked like the last item, and that which was the last item looked like the first item. The last item is human individuality, but human beings consider themselves as the primary deciding factors in the destiny of all things. This is the topsy-turvy nature of perception.
Where we are heading finally is an important question. Who will answer this question? Where are we moving? People are born, grow into adults, pass through all these kaleidoscopic experiences of life, become old, and then prepare themselves for their exit, which is the final word of human experience. What is this exit? This is also a part of the biography of human nature. A total oblivion of one’s future takes place. Actually, this oblivion of one’s future takes place in the womb of the mother itself. It is not that we become oblivious gradually, when we grow old. The moment consciousness enters into the womb of the mother, its consciousness gets twisted into this topsy-turvy position and it begins to see everything as other than what it is. Here is the beginning of the sorrow of life. It commences not after we are born; it commences even before we come out into the world. The length of the life of a person, the experiences that one has to pass through in this life, and all the ups and downs, gains and losses, tragedies and joys of life are all written when we are inside the womb of the mother, in a script which no one can read. This is called Brahma Lipi, the language of Brahma, who has recorded the past, the present and the future of every human being.
The birth of an individual into the womb of the mother is a consequence of a pressure exerted by its past experiences in the series of lives it underwent earlier, right from the time of creation. There is the pressure from behind to go ahead, outward, to externalise and lose ourselves in that which we consider as being seated outside us.
On the one hand, there is a pressure from the past. On the other hand, there is a pull from the future, from what we are going to be in the future. The present, so-called, is a transitory bubble. It has no substance by itself. It is a fleeting movement of an empty balloon-like content which is the individual’s life, like any one of ours. In this little bubble-like floating experience of individuality, we are very much occupied with world-transforming activities, world uplifting and so on. These are wonderful achievements – scientific, astronomical, astrological, psychological, and every blessed thing we are achieving – but these achievements will not be counted when the exit order comes. Remember very well, this exit can be tomorrow or today, and not necessarily many years in the future.
One of the very poignant results following from this topsy-turvy perception is that no one can know what will happen to oneself the next moment because if this is known, we would not be what we are today. That element of what we can call God-consciousness, from where we have fallen, which is maintained by an individual throughout one’s life notwithstanding the fact of these tragic experiences of topsy-turvy perception, will be the future of this individual soul.
Everyone – whether a disciple of Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, a seeker of truth, a servant of God, a yogi, a bhakta, a devotee, whatever one is – should be conscious of this fact. We seek liberation, but liberation from what? From what are we expecting liberation? This question one cannot easily answer. No one can answer “liberation from what?” “From the bondage of life.” What is the bondage of life? Let anyone answer this question. If life is a bondage, who will get oneself involved in the world?
The incessant merging of oneself in the processes of life, in activities of various kinds, in business, industry and other things, is a voluntary immersion of oneself in what one otherwise considers as something from which one wishes to be free. Is it not a contradiction in the very thought process of the individual? How is it possible for anyone to be free from the bondages of life, as they are called, since life vehemently persists in its demand for getting everyone involved in this process? Are we not voluntarily involving ourselves in activities which we consider worthwhile, beneficial to our own selves, beneficial to other people, beneficial in every way, in any way, in one way or another way?
If we are really true to our own self and we honestly believe that life is a bondage, we must know why is it a bondage. In what way is it binding us? It gives us satisfaction; it gives us pleasure. Otherwise, who will involve oneself in any kind of work? Why should there be the birth of children? Why should there be any kind of endeavour on the part of a person to guard oneself, save oneself and ask for security and long life? Who wants long life in a life of bondage?
That means to say, there is no real acceptance from the heart of hearts of individuals of the fact that life is a bondage. Life is also a satisfaction. Though it is a topsy-turvy satisfaction, it is a satisfaction. This is the reason why we cannot free ourselves from the bondage of life. One activity cannot free us from another activity because a golden chain and an iron chain are both chains only. We should not be under the impression that we can bind ourselves with diamond chains, gold chains, and then be free from the prison of life, because life in a prison is still the life of a prison. Whatever be the manner, whatever be the glorified form of imprisonment, it is still that. So the joys of life are also the bondage of life. This must be known very well.
The great encomiums that people pour on themselves in all fields of life are parts of the bondage of life. The glory that we are enjoying in life is a part of the bondage of life. The importance that we attach to our own self is part of the bondage of life. The greatness that we see in ourselves or in anybody else, this is also a part of the bondage of life. But who will realise this fact when bondage appears as heaven? The whole point is that. When hell appears as heaven, who would like to be free from that? This is the reason why nobody can be free from samsara. It catches us from every side by giving life a beautiful look by daubing it with a painting of colourful attraction called the grandeur of life, the majesty of creation, all looking aesthetically presentable. Here is the reason why we cannot free ourselves from bondage.
Deep contemplation on the centrality of that very Being from where we came down on this Earth is very important. We do not carry our greatness when we have the exit order from this world. What is our importance? The importance is daubed with the topsy-turvy perception of futile imaginations of false importance attributed to our own selves. This will not be counted in the book of God. Very important it is to remember all these things.
Finally, we are our own friends. The glories that others pour on our head are not glories. What glory can you pour on your own head? Let each one touch one’s heart and ask, “What is my glory?” Go into your bedroom and find out how much glory you have got, how beautiful you are, how important you are, how strong you are. You will find you are a miserable individual if you are not to be in the midst of those people who are giving you a false impression of your own self. When the order comes to quit, you go like a wretched vegetable, that is all. And who likes to be in that condition?
This concentration of the mind throughout life is the necessity to be sure that it is there at the time of passing which, as I mentioned, can be any moment. People are going, going, we hear in newspapers, in family life, tragedies, cries, weeping, thrashing, beating the breast – oh, this has gone, that has gone, at any time anything goes. If that is the case, beware!
Therefore, the only solace for a spiritual seeker is to be really a spiritual seeker. The seeker of Spirit is the seeker of That from where one has come. How can we maintain this universality in a little brain which is so small, containing a tiny tot of a thought? Yet, it is necessary by practice of deep meditation to allow this little tiny tot of a thought of the human brain to effloresce into the widened dimension of God-consciousness. With all these difficulties, the ups and downs and running about of things, this consciousness has to be maintained. A great phrase in the Bhagavadgita says, “Remember Me and go ahead with the bustle of this battle of life.” Now, what is this “Remember Me?” We have forgotten that point, and we enter into the bustle of life like Abhimanyu in the Mahabharata getting caught in the Chakravyuh and being unable to get out of it afterwards.
We are disciples of Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, the mighty potentate of the Spirit. We have to remember that. This country has produced mighty Masters such as Bhagavan Sri Krishna, Vasishtha, Vyasa, and Nara Narayana himself, who in all his great might and main is gloriously presiding over the destiny of mankind in sacred Badrinath. This is the land where we are seated.
We always have to bear in mind that we are alone in this world. Do not be under the impression that people are guarding you. Nobody will guard you. There is no such thing. What you deserve, that you will get. What you do not deserve, that you cannot get. This is very important. You cannot ask for things for which you are not intended. You cannot say that it has not come, when it is not supposed to come, because your heart is not made of that stuff which can summon the substance which you want. That thing which you want and for which you are asking cannot come unless that which you seek, the object, is commensurate with your own nature. The world as a whole will come to you, provided that you are commensurate with the structure of the things of the whole universe and, finally, with God Himself.
Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj never tired of mentioning in the beginning of every book he wrote, “God-realisation is the goal of life.” All the earlier writings of Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj start with “God-realisation is the goal of life”. Everything that you do, everything that follows, is a corollary to this great adventure of the Spirit which we are marching towards, that source of things from which we are descended topsy-turvy, unfortunately, for reasons which we cannot understand now. We have to turn the tables around and look forward – not backward, not sideways or horizontally, but upward vertically. This is meditation. We are born for that.
Meditation is not a discipline or a religious activity. It is not just sitting somewhere and thinking. It is a merging, an immersion in the total absorption of oneself in that which is inundating us from all sides. It is like the drop contemplating the ocean of which it is a part. This will protect us. We are always in a state of perfect security. If this point is maintained by us, no one can shake a hair of our body. “My devotee cannot perish,” says Sri Krishna in the Bhagavadgita. But are you devotees? Your heart is the witness of your deeds, your thoughts and your feelings. Your heart is the witness of what you are. Let the heart say what you are. Let people say anything, but what does your heart say about you? The God in you, what does He say about you? This should be a standing witness before you to tell you what you are at the time of deep meditation.
The meditation should not be a hypocritical exercise of the kind of ritual that is to be undergone every day in a holy manner. It is not a holy exercise; it is an immersion of yourself in the heart of your hearts, in the depths of your spirit, in the true spirit of what you are, and trying to dissolve yourself in that perfection which is going to summon you one day, and is calling you every moment. This perpetual calling manifests itself in the various forms of the restlessness of life, the dissatisfactions and the sense of not anything being all right, of everything being finite. This kind of feeling of nothing being all right arises on account of a call from above. The Infinite is calling the finite; therefore, it feels restless here, and you feel restless always, perpetually. Never will you be at rest until the summoning is responded to properly. The Infinite in us has to respond to the Infinite above. Then only can you immerse yourself in the nectarine ocean of Infinity.