by Swami Krishnananda
We have gathered here to exercise our minds in the direction of our true blessedness. Where does our blessedness actually lie? Where do we become complete persons? These are days when people are intensely conscious of the environment of the world. The environment is very important. The vast atmosphere around us is the environment. It not only influences us minute by minute every day, but on a careful analysis we will realise that we are inseparable from this environment.
The environment spoken of is a kind of society external to us. We know very well to what extent every person is dependent on external human society, and the society of nature – the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, and the sunlight that we bask ourselves in. It is not merely this much. There are greater secrets which never appear before our eyes – namely, the question of our existence itself.
Do we exist? If it is true that we are existing, where are we existing? "Where are you coming from?" we generally ask a person. People say they are coming from Delhi, from Kanyakumari, from Japan, from England, from America, but whatever be the place from where we are coming, it amounts to saying that we are coming from the surface of the earth. We are moving on the surface of the earth. There are no countries, actually; they do not exist at all. They are only conceptual demarcations of the human mind for the purpose of administrative convenience. Countries do not exist. Only the surface of the earth exists.
The language that we speak, which immensely conditions our cultural background, adds to the difficulty of our not being able to realise that we are citizens of this planet earth. Let alone the question of nationalities and countries, we cling even to a community, a village, or a district, and imagine that we are confined to that particular location.
The mind has a predilection to enjoy the limitations of its own self, shrinking itself more and more into a very, very limited cocoon of prejudiced individuality, so that this little tiny tot of a so-called 'I' within oneself feels immensely happy within the tortuous cell of its own bodily encasement.
The environment that we are speaking of is what is external to us from one point of view, but inseparable from us from another point of view. While this earth is a large planet, upon the surface of which we are crawling like insects, as it were, the earth is a member of the larger family of the planetary system, which is ruled by the great parent of the entire system, called the solar operation.
Our family extends through entire galaxies, which are the original sources of different solar systems. Magnetic forces, which are undividedly pervading the whole atmosphere, taking often the form of what generally people call cosmic rays – which are not actually rays, but magnetic energies flowing from outer space – solidify themselves into the visible forms of bodily existence of human beings, of trees, of mountains, and of the very earth itself.
The cosmological analysis, even on a purely empirical level, establishes the fact that the vibration of space created a movement which we call the activity of air pervading the surface of the earth. Friction caused by this continuous movement of the air principle created heat which we call fire. The further condensation of the density of these forces, right from the activity of space, became what we call liquid, the solidified form of which is this very earth.
That is to say, our family extends beyond the surface of this earth; it touches the planets, the sun, the moon and the stars. Have you heard that our minds operate according to the movement of the moon in the sky? Lunar waxing and waning causes waxing and waning of the feelings and the emotions in the minds of people. During full moon and new moon days, people generally get excited without themselves knowing what actually happened to them. On full moon days, the ocean waves rise up, as if they want to catch the moon itself. The gravitational pull of the moon makes the liquid of the ocean rise up into turbulent waves.
It does not follow that the ocean alone is pulled by the gravitational power of the moon. The whole earth is pulled. Because the earth is solid, it does not rise up like the wave of the waters of the ocean; but nevertheless, the pull is uniformly felt by every particle of the material stuff of this earth. What of ourselves? We are also pulled up. If the waters of the sea are pulled up, every cell of our body also is pulled up. We get agitated, disturbed, upset, and have changing moods, and people who have a deficient mind, not perfectly normal, behave erratically, excitedly, and abnormally during full moon and new moon days.
The lunacy of the mind comes from the word luna, which means the moon. We say a person is a lunatic; that is moonstroke. Just as there is sunstroke, there can be moonstroke, also. In that case, there is disturbance caused by the mind.
Astrologically, we can decide the condition of the mind of a person from the location of the moon in the horoscope. Where is that moon situated – in what context, in what corner, in what relationship with other planets?
Suffice it to say, we are not simply cozily existing here, independently by ourselves, in our locked-up rooms. This idea has to be shed. We do not belong to our own selves. If it is true that we have to love our own neighbour, we have to know who our neighbour is. That question was asked of Jesus Christ: "Master, you said, 'Love thy neighbour as thyself', but who is my neighbour?"
How would you know who your neighbour is? That which is adjacent to you; that which is almost touching you; that which is inseparable from you, which limits you and conditions you, from whom you derive benefit, and about which you have some fear, even, is your neighbour. You like your neighbour because the neighbour may be of assistance to you, under certain conditions; but you fear your neighbour also, because the neighbour can retort and retaliate, and behave in a manner contrary to your expectations.
So, the neighbour is a friendly being, and also a fearsome something. So is nature. Nothing can be more friendly to us than the vast nature, because it is the mother out of which we are born. The very stuff of our body is made up of the five elements – earth, water, fire, air, and ether. If that is the case, how do we consider ourselves as outwardly existing, external to nature? The very building bricks of this body, of our own selves, are the stuff of the five elements.
Do not say that there is space or a long distance of sky between ourselves and the solar orb. Do not say that, because the sky, or the space that we speak of, is the very same thing that is causing the width and the height of this body. The size of our personality is due to the space that is present within us.
Scientists tell us that if we squeeze out all the space from within our body, the entire stuff of our body will be one cubic millimeter of carbon, hydrogen, etc. There is nothing in us. We are puffed up balloons, due to the entry of space within us. A balloon looks big, so we also look big, but it is all air that is causing the expansion of the balloon. The space that is within us is the reason for our height and width. Our very existence is precariously conditioned by the structural pattern of the whole atmosphere outside, so that we do not know who is really there, whether the nature outside is existing, or we are existing.
If the house that we build is not independent of the bricks of which it is constructed, independent of the cement and the iron rods that we use, and it will not be existing there if we pull out the bricks, we can say that there is no such thing as a house. It is only a false name that we give to a spatial shape taken by the bricks and the cement and the substance that has gone into the formation of that particular structure. There are no mansions, no palaces, no houses, but only bricks, stones, cement, lime, etc.
In a similar manner, a question will arise: Do we really exist at all, or are we imagining that we are, like mansions, parading ourselves? These mansions will collapse when the building bricks are pulled out. That happens at the time we call the departure of the spirit of our personality from this particular formation called the earth. The elements withdraw themselves from their erstwhile cooperation with us.
The power of cohesion which keeps these elements in order, so that we may feel safe in this body, destabilises itself, and they go helter-skelter, just as if the cement that is keeping the bricks together would not be there, the bricks would collapse in one minute. The cohesive force is our ahamkara, our egoism, our self-assertive nature.
So intensely are we conscious of this limitation of the bodily existence, by the power of that affirmation. You know, the mind is very powerful. It is the electromagnetic energy that can draw everything into itself. Nothing can be stronger than the mind. Nothing is more powerful than the mind, and nothing can be more enduring than the mind.
The self-affirmation of a little location of mental process, which is what is called the 'I' in the individual sense, acts as a cohesive force of the particles of nature, and causes the formation of this little body. We differ from one another in our structure, in our face, in our eyes, in our very demeanour, because of the nature of the difference between the affirmation in one person and another. We do not assert ourselves equally, and therefore, we do not look identical with one another. Our desires vary.
Actually, what we call this cohesive force is nothing but the mind's desire. No two persons desire the same thing; though they appear to be desiring one and the same thing, the manner in which the desire manifests itself differs. That is why there are so many people in this world. Otherwise, if there is only one kind of desire, there would be only a mass of humanity merged into one Vishvarupa of man. That does not happen.
Suffice it to say, therefore, that we are not existing in any particular location of the world. Our atmosphere is our neighbour, and when it is said that we should love our neighbour, we love our own larger personality. We cannot love an alien entity. If the neighbour has no connection with us, in any manner whatsoever, the question of loving the neighbour does not arise. There is a vitality, a similarity of characteristics between oneself and the neighbour; therefore, the question of loving, or having any relationship with the neighbour, arises.
The world is our neighbour. It is not merely near us; it is that stuff out of which we are made. As I mentioned, the substance of nature constitutes the stuff of our physical personality. The Cosmic Mind is operating and dancing through the individual mind of every one of us. The solar orb conditions the eyes, the moon conditions the mind, and many other divine forces are conditioning the operation of the sense organs. We do not seem to be independently existing at all. We seem to be living a borrowed existence. There are people who live by borrowing, and they have nothing of their own. In a similar manner, we live a borrowed existence, and when the creditor withdraws support, the entire sustenance will collapse in one second, and the whole individual personality will get dismembered into little bits of material stuff, and reduced to the utter particles of nature.