by Swami Krishnananda
Coming to the point, the rectification of the common belief of the world being evil, or a Satanic production, is taken into consideration in a very, very serious manner by the Agama and Tantra Sastras. The distance that keeps the evil world away from us is narrowed down to an intimacy that makes it impossible for the evil to exist outside the perceiving consciousness. This includes the vagaries of material existence, the pricking pieces of earth which do not look beautiful to us and are considered as objects of renunciation. Do we not say that the world has to be renounced? Every religious doctrine tells us that for the sake of the attainment of God, the world has to be renounced, but it does not tell us what kind of world it is that we are going to renounce. Are we going to renounce the mountains, the trees, the rivers that are flowing, the oceans, the sun and the moon and the stars? What are we renouncing when we are told that the world is to be renounced for the sake of the realisation of God? And we know that the world consists of only these things that I have mentioned, and there is nothing else about it. Or are we renouncing people? Apart from trees and mountains, there are also people. Does renunciation of the world mean rejection of everybody in the world except oneself? Perhaps that is what is in our minds.
Are we able to justify this attitude of our being religious merely because we consider ourselves to be superior to other people – and the only thing that should not be renounced is our own self, and everybody else has to be renounced? We know very well that renunciation cannot be the renunciation of the earth – the ground on which we are sitting. It also cannot be the renunciation of trees and mountains. It has to be the renunciation of people, family relations, brothers, sisters, and so on. But why should we renounce them? What is wrong with other people? What is the mistake that parents, brothers, sisters, friends, etc. have committed that we consider them as abominable things that have to be rejected?
Now, do we consider that we ourselves also are human beings – that a part of humanity, which is supposed to be renounced in the practice of renunciation, is our own self? Are we able to renounce ourselves also? The renouncer does not renounce himself. Here is the peculiarity behind the popular concept of renunciation. I am mentioning here the esoteric aspect of renunciation that is told to us through the Agamas and Tantras. No one who has not renounced himself first can renounce the world, because the renouncer is inseparable from the world of renunciation; the people whom we are going to reject are not in any way different from what we are. After all, they are human beings like us and whatever evil that we impute to them may be in us, also--perhaps in a larger measure.
So, renunciation, like charity, begins at home. Renounce your own self first and then you will see that everything connected with you goes with it because when you yourself have gone, all things connected with you also go. Why are you worrying about the renunciation of the world, of people? You are not there, because you have renounced yourself; because of the fact that you have renounced yourself, other things that are apparently connected with you, or were connected with you, also go. When the dog goes, the tail also goes. It cannot be there, separate from the dog.
This is hard for the mind to absorb. What on earth do you mean by saying that you have renounced your own self? Spiritual renunciation, in order that it may become really a divine transmutation of values and not merely a public show or an adumbration of religiosity on the part of a person, has also to be a transmutation of one’s own materiality in the form of physical values – desires connected with the physical world related to this body – and the very existence of the spiritual seeker should enlarge its dimension from the material encrustations into a spiritual dimension. Then you will realise that if there are bad things, all things are equally bad because you can see the same badness in everything, if you want to see it. If you think that certain things are evil in this world, there is nothing in this world which is not evil; and if that is the case, what is good in the world, including yourself? You also are included in this category of everything being evil, because there is certainly some defect in every structure of material configuration in the world, including human beings.
So, the evil character that is attributed to objects that are supposed to be renounced is to be seen ubiquitously, seen everywhere, and yourself and the world vanish in one stroke. This cannot be achieved easily unless you know the relationship between the world and yourself. In usual public moralistic and legalistic ways of religious worship, the relationship basically obtaining between oneself and the world is not taken into consideration, because in all these ways the world is always considered as an outside something and God is there as the transcendental creator of the world. The relationship between the world and yourself is so close that you must be able to appreciate the fact of the very building bricks of your body being the same as the building bricks of the world outside. The five elements – earth, water, fire, air and ether – which are the constituents of the world of matter, the whole of nature outside, are the constituents of your body also. Your attitude towards the world, therefore, cannot be justified unless it is also an attitude that you adopt in regard to your own self.
So, whatever you think of the world is also what you think of yourself. This is generally not done because we have one philosophy for our own selves and another philosophy for the world of objects and people outside. This categorisation of duality between the observer of the world and the observed object is broken down completely and the rise of the soul from the lower to the higher values of life is not considered as a rise from evil to good, from untruth to truth, but as a rise from a lesser good to a larger or greater good. From a lesser truth you rise to the higher truth. The world is not evil; it is a lesser good in comparison with the highest reality and highest values, which are the final good. You may consider the lesser ones to be inconsiderate in their values and their interference may look, of course, like an evil.
When there is a serious parliamentary discussion going on, if a little child crawls in and starts screaming and runs to sit on the lap of its father who is a member of parliament, that occurrence may look like an evil – a totally unexpected thing taking place in the public performance of parliamentary affairs. You would not like a dog to bark there, or a cat to sit on somebody’s head. You do not necessarily consider these events as evil in themselves, but they become evil because of the wrong juxtaposition of one thing to the other. The things are where they should not be. Even a right thing may look wrong if it is a projected at a wrong place. The right thing has to be done in the right manner, in the right procedure, in the right place, because unless all the factors connected with rectitude are there, rightness may become wrongness, and truth may become untruth. There are occasions when untruth may become truth and that which is considered as totally unnecessary may become a very valuable thing.
Have you not heard in Aesop tales that a mouse saved a lion? Can you imagine that a mouse can save a lion? The lion laughed at this little urchin telling, “After all, great master, one day I will be of some service to you”. “Oh! You can serve me!” the lion grinned in contempt. Such is the way we condemn the world. Do not do that. The smallest mouse or the worst of things in this world can become a first rung in the ladder of the evolution of the soul to the higher realities, and the ugliest of things in the world may assume the most beautiful form if they are put in the proper place. The worst of things can even become the best of things under certain given conditions. You cannot find fault with anything.
I remember a little verse: “There is so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us that it ill behoves any of us to find fault with the rest of us”. This is because the contempt that you attribute as a quality to things that are abominable to you, ethically or legally, are finally not permissible attitudes in the spiritual realm. Iron becomes gold, and matter becomes consciousness in the Tantra Sastra method. As I mentioned, the details of the practice cannot be explained. This is only an introduction into the theoretical side of its transcendental character in comparison with the Prabhu Samhita and Suhrit Samhita. Nowhere will you be told how this practice is to be actually conducted. It is a secret between the Guru and the disciple; and, also, the Guru would not like to put a sword in the hand of an inexperienced student. He will give it only to a soldier. The Narayanastra was not to be given to inexperienced people; Dronacharya was reluctant to give it to anybody, but unfortunately he gave to Asvatthama, an inexperienced man, and it wreaked havoc.
Thus, the method of Tantra is supposed to be the quickest and the most potent method of self-transmutation, provided its techniques are properly understood; otherwise, it will be like dynamite which will blow off your head, and even what you have will be lost.
The Agamas are also great textbooks of temple worship, the procedure of actual adoration of God through the well-known methods of charya, kriya, yoga and jnana. Briefly, they simply imply the entry of the soul into the inner modes of worship, from the outer circles. Charya is the outermost, kriya is inner, yoga is still more inside, and jnana is the finale where the worshipper becomes one with God. But the way in which the entry is sought from the outer circle to the inner circle is a purely esoteric one, and the tremendous incongruity that apparently seems to be there in the behaviour of these great worshippers can be observed in the lives of the great Nayanars and Alwars of southern India, whose religious outbursts and fantastic behaviour with people, and with God Himself, can best be described only as totally incongruent to the legal or moral world of behaviour.
The Vaishnava Agama method is easier to understand, though it also has an inner circle of Sahaja Marga, as I mentioned to you. The Saiva Agama is a little more esoteric than the Vaishnava. The Sakta Tantra is the most esoteric, where the consideration of the student is the immediate task of transmuting matter into divinity, object into subject, externality into internality, the devil itself into God. Can you imagine such a possibility? It has been undertaken, and it has to be undertaken because there cannot be a devil before God. As long as God sees a devil in front of Him, He would not be a complete god.
Therefore, we should not go on harping on the existence of Satan, evil, badness, and ugliness, etc. in the presence of the Almighty Lord because in His presence, evil cannot be there. If evil is not there in the presence of God, how does it become something real in our eyes? Where is Satan sitting? Where is the place for the demon to sit? Is he inside the kingdom of God, or is he outside it? Is he organically connected with the God’s universality, or is he outside the universality? These questions – which are esoteric and deeply secret in their nature – will completely transform the whole world of religious practice. The popular concepts of religion will get transmuted into the gold of an inner circle, which is so difficult to understand. Religion is much more than outer behaviour.
Hence, this is the secret that is between the lover and the beloved, as I mentioned earlier. This does not conform to the social mandates of courts of law or textbooks of ethics, which are public and social in their nature. Rather, they are interior – concerned with the soul of a person in relation to another soul – and this aspect is totally ignored in practical social life, public life, and legal life. Spirituality is much more than ordinary common religion. It is an inner attitude of consciousness, and is not merely a public performance even in the form of adorations, scriptural studies, japa sadhana, etc.
Here we have to distinguish between public religious modes of worship and inner spiritual states of transmutation, which is a matter to be decided between the Guru and disciple only. Nobody can be spiritual unless he is initiated into these techniques, and mere textbooks will not help in this matter.
I am not revealing what the secret of this practice is. I am just mentioning that there is such a thing as a transcendent inner circle of behaviour of the soul in relation to God where you become the lover and God becomes the beloved; or you become the lover and world becomes the beloved; or you become the lover and the whole humanity becomes the beloved. If such attitude can be developed in your soul, you have become a transmuted, illuminating spark of divinity walking in this world.