by Swami Krishnananda
Inwardly, we are connected with everything in the world, but it appears outwardly that we are disconnected from all things. If we are really disconnected from things, we cannot have desire for things; but if we are connected with everything, then also we cannot have desire for anything. So, desire seems to be a kind of unscientific attitude of the mind which cannot be justified either way. If we are really disconnected, we cannot have anything so, why should we desire anything? But if we are really connected to everything, where is the point in desiring anything?
So, what is desire? It is something very interesting and, therefore, it eludes the grasp of understanding. The pressure of the connectedness of ourselves with all things within, exerted upon our apparent disconnectedness with things outside, is the reason behind desire. It is, therefore, a contradiction. Desire is a great contradiction. It is a conflict in our personality, and so it is an unsolved problem for all times. It is a great enigma, a mystery. Nobody can understand what it is, and why it is there, and what its purpose is. But if we try to go deep into its makeup, we will find that it is caused by this peculiar relationship between our inward connection with things and our outward disconnection from things.
Outwardly, we are not connected to anything. What physical connection have we got with things of the world? Everything is scattered hither and thither, unrelated, unconnected, with nothing meaningful cementing the objects or things. I am sitting here, and you are sitting there; what is our connection? There is absolutely no connection. This is one side of the issue. The other side of the matter is that we are really connected subtly, inwardly, by invisible threads. So, this invisible connectedness of ours inwardly with everything in the world presses hard upon our outward life in the world of the society of things; and it is that pressure that expresses itself as desire for things outwardly.
We long for the objects of the world, though they are apparently not connected with us outwardly. This longing is due to an inward feature not visible to the physical eyes; but, as I said, this inward feature comes in conflict with the outer conditions. That is why there can be desire at all. If there is no such contradiction or conflict, there is no point in desiring anything. To repeat: if we are disconnected with things, there cannot be desire; if we are connected with things, then also there cannot be desire. So, desire is something which we cannot understand, and yet we are under its grips; we are pressed hard by it, and we are like puppets dancing to the tune of these peculiar pressures which have taken possession of us completely.
We have a double nature, and it is this that makes us inscrutable beings inscrutable to others, and inscrutable to our own selves, also. We are phenomenal, temporal transient outwardly, but perpetual, permanent, eternal inwardly. So, there is an impact of the eternal on the temporal, and vice versa; this is human life. This is the cause of our joys, and also the cause of our sorrows. We are joyful because of the eternity present within us, and grieved because of the temporality seeping into our veins. The temporal chaos of outward society is the cause of our sorrow, with which we are unable to reconcile ourselves with any amount of understanding and scientific effort. But inwardly, there is something which speaks in a different language altogether, though we cannot see it.
We cannot see it, but that is our real nature. That something is not seen does not diminish its importance. Therefore, there is a great task before the yogi, the seeker of Reality, one who seeks to live a spiritual life. We are on the verge of a battle of the Mahabharata. This Mahabharata is nothing but the fight between the eternal and the temporal, and often it appears that success is not clear before ones eyes whether it is this side that wins or that side that wins. The power of the temporal can sometimes push back the urge of the eternal as it is said that Karna, with his physical force, could push the weighty chariot of Arjuna at least a few yards back, to the surprise of everyone. Such was his physical strength. But that was only an apparent success. His downfall was imminent. There can be an apparent defeat of the spiritual sense temporarily, on account of the force of temporal circumstances in which our bodily individuality is involved. It may look that God Himself is dead, or is defeated, at least, but this is only an apparent defeat and a false feeling of frustration. The success of the Kauravas was not a real success, though it looked as if they were successful in the beginning. It was a preparation for their total destruction.
The power of the temporal world of space, time and causality is a real power indeed. The power of diversity, the power of disconnectedness, and the power of social irreconcilability and tension all this is a power, no doubt, and we cannot face it easily. But the power of the eternal is greater, though it works very, very slowly, notwithstanding it is firm in its steps. The effort of the spiritual seeker in his practice of yoga is tremendous indeed. One would be startled at the amount of effort that may be required in achieving even a limited success on the path. It is most difficult to understand and more difficult to practice because the knot, which we call granthi in Sanskrit, by which our personalities are tied up to the eternal on one side and the temporal on the other side, is hard to break.
We are friends of both God and the devil. This is our difficulty, and this is also our weakness. But, this state of affairs cannot continue for long, as we see that mankind cannot continue in this circumstance of the present day for a long time. There is a struggle and an effort intensely put forth by people everywhere in the world for some sort of reconciliation, but the reconciliation is not forthcoming. All the international organisations of human society have failed, and there is no chance, apparently, of their achieving any success even in the future because of a mistaken notion, on the basis of which these organisations have been formed. We cannot have a real unity among mankind if we assume or take for granted that mankind is diversely distributed, with no apparent connection between one another. But this is our basic assumption: the East is East and the West is West, and the twain shall never meet. If that is the case, then there is no hope.
But we have hope as our support. We live on account of hope. We breathe today on account of a hope for a better future. If there was no hope at all, we would perish today itself. So, again there is a contradiction between our social life and our personal efforts. We try and try and try, but achieve nothing. Why? Because the effort that we put forth for bringing about a reconciliation in our lives with other people, and the various methods we are embarking upon for bringing about a unity of mankind, is a tendency of the basic unity in which we are rooted essentially the nature of the eternal, from which we are inseparable. That is why we are working for universal brotherhood and universal love one mankind, one world government, and so on. We hold millions of conferences everywhere to bring about an understanding among people, a collaboration of ideas, and some sort of a unity to the extent possible. But why do we attempt this if unity is not visible in outward life?
If you and I are absolutely disconnected, why should there be conferences? What is the purpose of organisations? Where is the meaning in any kind of effort for cooperation? This meaning is hiddenly speaking from within us in a language we cannot understand; but that being our essential nature, we also cannot turn a deaf ear to it. We are struggling to listen to it, even with our deaf ears; but on the other side, the world of diversity presses upon us very hard and insists upon individual selfishness, and a necessity for warfare for the sake of the protection of the ego.
Now, this is not merely a social problem, but a spiritual problem the problem of the seeker and the yogi which will face him with a ferocity which he cannot encounter, unless he is well prepared right from the beginning. What does the yogi or the seeker do under such circumstances? What is his aim, ultimately? What is the purpose for which we are working? What is yoga? It is the great art of supreme reconciliation whereby the temporal and the eternal do not any more fight with each other, but appear as one and the same thing. Our personalities do not seem to be divided between the eternal and the temporal. We become embodiments of a dual aspect of the single Absolute. That is the nature of a superman, which we are aiming at in the practice of yoga.