by Swami Krishnananda
Whatever be the form of yoga that we may practise, the basic methodology is practically the same, especially when we go straight and deep into the subject. This is so because the world is the same for all; there are not different worlds for different persons. The structure of things is the same for everyone and, therefore, everyone has to pass through the same pleasures and pains of life, even as a pedestrian moving towards a destination along a particular road has to cross the same landmarks and visualise the same vistas as anyone else who treads that same path towards the same destination.
This path that leads to the destination of life is not a linear movementlike a road from Rishikesh to Delhi, for instance. Here is the difficult and, also, the interesting part of yoga meditation. In yoga, we do not move in any particular direction, though it is a movement in a direction. It is not in any particular direction because in yoga we are confronting Gods creation. We are confronting God Himself. The Supreme Reality is that which is envisaged in the consciousness when we seriously undertake what is known as meditation.
There is no movement in the sense that we understand movement, though there is a total movement and a complete transformation. Since the world, the whole of creation, is connected to us in every fibre of our being, our movement towards the great destiny of the cosmos is connected to every fibre of our being. We are moving in entirety towards the great destination of the universenot moving partially or fractionally. Neither are we able to understand this entirety of ours, nor are we able to understand the entirety of the world, as long as we are subjected to the vision of things through the senses. We live in a sense world and, therefore, our idea of our own selves, as well as our idea of the world outside, is not adequate.
When it is said that we move towards the great destination of the universe, we may not be able to clearly grasp what this statement means. Who are we? What kind of we is it that moves towards what kind of universeand, what sort of destination is situated where? Questions of this kind may arise, and these questions cannot be answered abruptly, because we have never been educated in the cosmology of things. Our education is empirical, whollyeconomic, sociological, political, and so on. A cosmological educational system has been ever unknown to us. But, it is necessary to have a sufficient knowledge of our placement in this environment called the universe, inasmuch as one cannot do anything unless one knows where one is standing.
This knowledge of where we are standing is called philosophy. We may call it cosmology, we may call it ontology, or anything we like. The knowledge of our exact position in the structure of things is the subject of all philosophical studies. Where are we sitting, just now? The answer to this question is philosophy. After having known our placement in the structure of things, we have to know what we are supposed to do under the circumstances in which we are placed. This is yoga.
So, samkhya and yoga represent theory and practice knowledge, and the duty that is incumbent upon a person in the light of this knowledge. We have discussed the theoretical side sufficiently. How this world is made, what our relationship is to the cosmos, and where we are finally movingthis we have studied, to some extent, in a rationalistic fashion. The practical side is summed up in one word, meditation, but it has many facets and, also, several stages of its evolution.
Just as there is a series in the evolutionary process of the religious consciousness in the human individual, there is also an evolutionary process of the meditation technique. One does not suddenly jump from A to B in meditation. It is a growth and a progressive movement organically taking place, within as well as without at the same time. The growth of an organism is inward as well as outward. There is an internal transmutation simultaneously taking place in the growth or the maturity of an organism in relation to its connection with the atmosphere in which it is born. It adjusts itself to the atmosphere.
The adaptation of an organism to the environment in which it is placed is a part of its life. One does not live on an island. No man is an island, it is well said. So, when we grow, when we become mature, when we become adults, we are not individually, isolatedly, physically growing. We grow in every respect of the term. The adaptation of oneself to the environment is a part of the growth of the personality of the individual, whatever that individual be. We are not growing isolatedly, in a corner of our own house. We are also growing simultaneously with our environment, because the environment is not cut off from us, and we are not cut off from the environment. If yoga is a growth of the stuff of individuality called consciousness in its movement towards yoga in meditation, it undergoes a transmutation together with every kind of relationship that subsists between itself and its environment.
What is the environment in which we are placed? During your lessons on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, you must have heard something about the limbs, as they are calledthe steps or the progressive stages of the ascent of the meditative consciousness from the lower stages to the higher. If you try to properly understand their significance, you will realise it is a cosmological ascent. It is not an ascent from one rung of the ladder to another rung of the ladder, as is seen when a mason climbs to the top of a house. It is not a bifurcated rung. It is an interrelated rung, as every day is a rung in the ladder of the development of our person. Every day we grow, and when we grow we naturally move from one rung to another rung, but we cannot see the distinction between one and the other. It is a flow, like a river moving, and we cannot make a distinction between one part of this movement of the river and another part. That is the very meaning of movement as a flow.
Thus, the movement of consciousness in yoga meditation is a flow, and not a jump. It is not a sudden eruption from one state to another state. It is a very healthy, powerful, constructive, happy, integral movement in an all-around manner. It is not from a spatially lower position to a spatially higher state, because consciousness is not in space but is a mystical, adventurous movement. The mystical movement is different from the spatial movement.
It requires a little training of the mind to think in this fashion. That is why teachers of yoga have always insisted on the purification of the mind before one enters into meditation and the advanced stages of yoga. One cannot even understand what all this means if the mind is impure and is filled with the dross of the usual associations of love, hatred, and the like. Nothing will enter the head, whatever be the thing that is told. We will get confused, that is all.
But, it is possible to succeed in this superhuman adventure of the human spirit when it is cleared of the obstacles and the impediments that come in its way in the form of obsessions, which are psychological in nature. All human beings, everything in the world, has an obsession of his own, her own, or its own, and it is very difficult to free oneself from these obsessions. An obsession is a peculiar kink, a kind of trait of the outlook of the mind which becomes vitally connected with it as a part and parcel thereof, so that our very way of thinking is that obsession.
The service rendered for years together under a Guru is supposed to work a miracle by itself. All training spiritually, and on the path of yoga, is supposed to be always under the direct supervision of a Guru. It is not a matter concerning books and libraries. Any amount of reading will not keep the brain clear, because books do not speak.
We have peculiar difficulties within us. Sometimes we, ourselves, may not know what the difficulties are that we have to face tomorrow, just as illnesses sometimes take different turns and a panel of physicians may be required to understand the peculiar turns that the disease takes, and it may be difficult to know what can be expected. We are accustomed, right from our birth, to think in one particular manner. This manner has to change, root and branch. The initial thing is a transformation in the very theoretical outlook of things. Hence, theory is essential, though practice is more important.
Every doctrine has a theory behind its practice, whether it is physics, biology, or even engineering. The technology behind a thing is the theory; the actual implementation of it is the practice. We cannot suddenly jump into the practice without knowing the method behind it. The methodology, which is the foundation of the practice of yoga, is the whole educational process, which, in a few words, I have been trying to detail during the last sessions. We are connected to the world, we are connected to people, and we are connected to the whole purpose of this creation. First and foremost, we have to shed the idea that we are contained inside the universe.
When we open our eyes and look at things, we are not looking at the universe. We are looking at our own selves, as a spread-out body. In a way, when we look at things, when we see the world outside, it is something like a finger of the body looking at the whole body. I am giving you one illustration as to what the world is made of in relation to ourselves. Place yourself in the position of a single finger in your hand, and if that finger is to see the whole body, what will it thinkor rather, what is it supposed to think? The idea, the notion, the outlook and interpretation entertained by this finger in respect of the whole body is an illustration of the manner in which we have to envisage things, because the finger does not see the body; it sees its own self, inasmuch as it is the body. It is not a finger; finger is only a name that we give to a part of the body. There is no such thing as finger; it does not exist. It is all just body. The legs, the hands and the other limbs of the body are the body. So, when we look at the world, the world is looking at itself.
I am not looking at things; you are not looking at things; the world is seeing itself. Here is a fundamental change in our very outlook of things. This will inject a shock into us, if we start thinking like this. The world is seeing itself. It is not somebody meditating on the universe. The universe is, itself, attempting to contemplate its own internal pattern. In a few words, I have summed up the principal position.
Now, this position wherein we are placedthis position which we cannot easily think in our minds, this position which is not the usual way of our thinking, this position which may give a shock to us if we go on thinking like this for a long timeis the real position of things. This is why life sometimes gives shocks. When reality enters into us, we get shocks because we are accustomed to living only in a web of unrealities, which seems to be very pleasant. But, we cannot always set aside the realities of things, though sometimes they give us a long rope to go astray. Occasionally, the truths of life enter into us and give us such a kick that we do not know what is happening to us. We seem to be shattered into pieces.
Why should we get a kick unconsciously and be shattered to our bones? Why dont we consciously enter into this educational process of knowing the true relation that is between us and the world, and avoid this kick? Why dont we honourably and respectfully understand things as they are, rather than be forced to understand things as they are? If we are not going to learn the lessons of life honourably, we have to learn them by pain. These are the pains of life.
People learn lessons by pain because they do not want to understand them by education. They want the pleasantness of life and not the realities of life because, somehow, they have been given to understand that truth is not pleasant. This is very unfortunate. Truth need not be unpleasant. If truth is not going to be accepted by us under the impression that it is unpleasant, this unpleasantness will flood us one day and we will drown under it. Of this, history is a demonstration before us.
The world is not made in the way in which we think about it; and, our friends, relations, family and society are not related to us in the way in which we think. We are neither friends nor enemies. We are not in any way connected in a social fashion. We are connected in a cosmological fashion. Truth should speak, and one day it has to speakif not today, tomorrow. But we are always thinking that we are human beings, socially connected in an organisational fashion. This is not true.