by Swami Krishnananda
Now we have to go back to the lessons we had at the very beginning and freshen up our memories about the need which we felt for the practice of yoga. The need also will explain to some extent the methods that we have to employ, just as the measure of our hunger will tell us what type of diet we have to take. There was a necessity for yoga, and that necessity itself is sufficient explanation of its methodology of approach. The need was felt on account of a lack that was felt in social life. There was a persistent feeling within that something is dead wrong with human society, and the world is not going to make us happy. This is what is called "the divine discontent" which comes upon every seeking soul. It is a discontent, but it is divine, because it is a pointer to a higher kind of life. If nothing can satisfy us in this world, it goes without saying that we actually have an idea as to what can satisfy us. That something which may satisfy us should be something different from anything we can have in this world, because the world has been seen to be incapable of providing satisfaction. We have experimented with different persons and different things, and we find them unsatisfying. Then it was that we felt the necessity for a deeper probe into our situations.
Earlier in our discussions, we went into the method of relief from inner tensions caused by a conflict between the ideal within our minds and the reality without. We are not happy, because society is not always going to accept the requests of our minds. We have many kinds of rules in society on account of which our movements are restricted and the avenues of our satisfaction are limited. These are some of the reasons we found for our being unhappy in the world – we would like the whole world for ourselves, but that will not be allowed because other persons are there like us in the world who want equally as much. As a result we try many other methods of satisfying ourselves in this world. These methods, covertly employed, also do not always succeed. Sometimes our secrets get known to people, and then matters become worse. However, even if our methods are not discovered, they do not always succeed.
There is a moral prick of the conscience, a fear, an anxiety, an incapacity and various other factors coming upon us to defeat our purposes. So, man is not happy. This is what we discovered by a careful analysis of the social situation. Even if psychoanalysis is going to relieve this tension for the time being, the world is not always going to be our friend. The analytic technique of psychology is not a permanent relief, but is only a medicine applied for a temporal headache. However, we are going to be unhappy even after we are relieved of this illness. Hence comes the need for a further research into our mental realm, which was the objective of yoga analysis.
The need for yoga has been felt because the world has been discovered to be impossible to manage. The world wants us to abide by its rules and regulations. Although the urge within us is to control our environment, the world is not going to abide by our whims and fancies. This is what we discovered through our earlier analysis. It looks as if we have become a puppet in the hands of the rules of the world. There have been dictators who tried to ravage the whole world with their powers, because of the urge they felt to rule over everything. But afterwards they discovered that the method they employed was not successful, and the world recoiled upon them with a great revenge. Dictators never fully succeeded in the world; they were all wiped out, because the world took such a vengeance upon them.
The world is not going to be subjugated by human powers, it is not going to be utilised for human purposes, and it is not going to be used as an instrument for human satisfaction. This is what we ultimately realise – often when it is too late to amend. All people that lived in this world, ever since creation perhaps, have realised this truth finally when they were about to leave this world for the other world. Yoga is a conscious analysis of this peculiar situation in which we find ourselves. It is an attempt at resolving another conflict that seems to be behind this superficial conflict between the psychological ideal and the social law outside. The inner, deeper conflict is the apparent irreconcilability of the urge to overcome the world and the possibility to overcome the world.
If it is absolutely impossible to do anything with the world, why is it that we have an irresistible urge to conquer the world and make it our own? What is this irrationality in our aspirations? Everyone wishes to control everything and have everything for oneself. "If the whole universe is mine, it will be very good. Well, I may fail in the implementation of my desire – that is a different matter – but why is this desire working in me at all?" Such a devil is working inside us which seems to have no reason.
Yoga tells us that it is not a devil working; it is something full of meaning which is highly rational in its conduct. This urge is not irrational. The way of its implementation may be irrational, but the urge itself is supremely rational. It is explicable within the very structure of things, and yoga tries to discover the rationality behind this urge in the human mind. To subdue the whole world – the whole universe if possible – and to find ways and means of materialising this urge is possible, because something totally impossible cannot rise in our conscience. If it is absolutely unreal, it should be impossible for it to rise into our minds.
The conflict is not between our desires and the social laws – the conflict seems to be something different. It is between the irresistible urge for perfection within and the impossibility of implementing it in practical life. Our longing for perfection contradicts the realities outside in the world, and vice versa. While perfection is the thing that we need and we want, it is the only thing that we cannot find in the world. This is the contradiction between the world outside and the longings inside. It is not merely social laws that contradict us; the world's structure itself seems to be such that it appears to be in conflict with what we long for from within.
We tried to understand the reason for this urge within us in our analysis of perception of the world in one earlier stage of our study. We realised that we have as our true nature and true Self something which seems to be transcending our body personality, and which is transcendent even to the world of objects outside. This is what we studied. By implication, by inference and analytical judgement we discovered that the true Self must be different from the material encasement. The Self seems to be a conscious entity which refuses to be restricted to the bodily limitations, and it moves out in its reaches to the objects outside. It seems to be immanent, not only in us as personalities or individualities, but it also seems to be immanent in the objects of perception outside. Not only this, it seems to be present even in the process of perception.
I have already given an analogy for us to meditate on, namely, the waters in two tanks being connected with a stream. Our consciousness, our true Self, seems to be a kind of stream filling our personality here, filling the object there, and connecting the two together in an inseparable, indivisible and unbroken link. Such seems to be our true nature, and there should be no wonder as to why an urge for overcoming the conflict between the inner and the outer should arise in our consciousness.
The longing for perfection arises not merely from the mental realm of our personality. The mind, which is limited to the body in all its practical functions, receives an impetus from the consciousness within. The impetus is a universal urge, because the consciousness is indivisible. This indivisible something which seems to fade away into an infinitude of being, gives a push to this limited mind, and an infinite push can be tremendously powerful. We can imagine how powerful the infinite could be, and such infinitude of propulsion received by this fragile mind of ours is the explanation for this longing to attain unlimited perfection – whether or not the world of objects outside is going to understand it and answer its needs. In its discovery of the rationality behind this human longing for perfection, yoga psychology realises also another important fact. If anything is rational, it should be practicable; the irrational is impractical. If there is any reason behind our longing for this infinitude of perfection, if it is rationally justifiable, it should also be practicable.
Yoga should therefore be a practicable affair, and it should not merely be a wild goose chase. If an infinitude of my being is the explanation for my longing, I should be able to fulfil this longing. My mistake may be in not being able to put it into practice properly in a world of this nature. The mistake does not lie in the longing itself. The urge within itself is not meaningless, but the difficulty seems to be in how to relate it to the circumstances of the world outside. We don't lack intelligent people in this world, but we lack people who can relate their intelligence properly to the prevailing situations in the world.
There is no use in having intelligence merely in theory. The intelligence has to come down to the level of the earth and then be acted out in accordance with the practical conditions prevailing in the world. Intelligence is not merely a theory; it is a capacity to adjust oneself with the world outside. That is intelligence. When rationality, which is another name for intelligence, pushes itself forward in our lives, it also gives us hope and seems to promise a fulfilment of our expectations. Yoga analysis of psychology is therefore deeper than the psychoanalytic techniques, because while psychoanalysis concerns itself merely with the conflicts of one individual in his relation to the society immediately around him, the psychology of yoga concerns itself with a genuine conflict of the human mind in general – not merely with one person's mind in its relation to what is outside itself.
It is not my difficulty or your difficulty – it is the difficulty of every person in this world. There is no use in studying one person's mind to cure an illness, because this illness is general to all people. We cannot take one person to the clinic and examine the mind of that person and cure that person of that conflict. It is impossible to truly cure the malady in this manner. It is a general malady that seems to be pervading the minds of all people, and it is more a subject of general psychology than abnormal psychology. Sober minds which are perfectly sane are in this state of conflict. It is not abnormal minds alone that are in conflict – normal minds are also in conflict, says yoga. What we call normalcy of behaviour is itself a kind of conflict. We call it normalcy because everybody seems to be in the same kind of conflict. If everybody in the world is a fool, we cannot know who is a fool, because foolishness looks normal. If there is however another person of a different nature, then we can try to find out the distinction. Everybody without exception in this world seems to be in a similar state of conflict. Not even one is an exception; hence, we cannot know that we are in a state of conflict.
Conflict has become a state of normalcy to us. Inside there is conflict, and outside there is conflict. Everywhere there is conflict in every person that we see. We live in a world of conflicts, and therefore it is that we are not able to realise our situation. We cannot judge whether people are abnormal or normal. It is difficult to define what is abnormalcy and what is normalcy. For us, the majority is normalcy, and the minority seems to be abnormal, but this is not the correct way of judgement. The judgement of yoga psychology is more fundamental, and it needs a profounder rectification of the ways of human thinking than is generally known to people. That we look all right need not mean that we really are all right. To actually be all right is a different thing altogether. If we were really all right, there would be no sense of longing or want in our minds anymore.
The sense of want itself is an indication that something is not all right in us. If there is something annoying our minds, we cannot just go scot-free with the idea that we are normal in our ways of thinking. According to yoga psychology, to be perfectly normal is to be free from any kind of conflict with nature outside – not merely with people around us. Even if all our friends agree with us, the world – which is more than just people – may not agree with us. If all the world of people is going to claim that we are normal, or perhaps even a great person, it need not be correct, because the world is more than people put together. The other aspect of the world which is different from 'people put together' may not agree with this conclusion.
Yoga goes deeper still – deeper than human psychology – into the psychology of creation itself. The yoga student therefore is not considered merely to have relationships with human beings. The world does not merely mean mankind. When we talk of world peace, for example, we unfortunately mean only mankind's peace, but mankind does not make up the whole world. Mankind is only one part of the world. What makes us think that humanity is all the world? Universal brotherhood does not merely mean mankind's brotherhood. Yoga psychology recognises this and therefore goes into the fundamentals. Unless we are in harmony with the world in its truth, we are not going to be happy in this world.
The world is not merely man – remember this important point again. Even if we are in tune with all people, we cannot be truly happy. A thunderstorm may strike on our heads, but this has nothing to do with people appreciating us or being friendly with us. The impetuous forces of nature and the intractability of the elements are something quite different from man's attitude towards them. The earth's orbit, for example, has nothing to do with people's thinking about us or people's thinking about themselves. If all the nations are at peace, it doesn't mean that we can have any control over the movement of the Earth. We can have international peace in mankind's realm, but peace cannot be insured by everyone merely acceding to it. Something else also has to accede, and we cannot ignore that aspect of the matter.