by Swami Krishnananda
Now I come to the actual thing that has to be done. I may only recapitulate what I was trying to hint at for the past few days: that every one of us, if we are true to the ideal that we are pursuing, and honest with ourselves, we have to find time to think about it; and all this requires a little of aloneness in our personal lives. It is no use being too busy with things unconcerned with our lives.
First of all, it is necessary to make a distinction between what is necessary and what is unnecessary. Often, even unnecessary things look necessary. So, this is the time for us to exercise our viveka, or the power of discrimination. Is everything necessary that we call necessary, ordinarily speaking? We want four coats and five wrist-watches, ten transistors, and a huge bungalow of ten stories, and millions of dollars in the bank. Can we call all these necessities of life? One who has these will say they are necessities, but this is a bungled way of thinking because we cannot call these necessities. A necessity is that without which we cannot exist; and if we can exist appreciably without untold discomfort with facilities that are provided to us, with that we have to be content. Contentment is a great virtue of a spiritual seeker. Yadrcchalabha santushtah, says the Bhagavadgita: We have to be content and satisfied with whatever comes without too much of exertion though a little of exertion, of course, is unavoidable. The exertion should not outweigh the benefit that accrues from it, because our exertion should be more in line with our spiritual attunement with God than in line with the acquisition of material goods and physical comforts in regard to which, we should not exceed limits.
It is necessary that we live a very simple life, because the need for living a simple life arises on account of a simple logic of life: we are not supposed to enjoy what we have not earned with the sweat of our brow. If we have not earned it with our effort, we cannot enjoy it. This is not merely a social law or an economic law, but a spiritual law. We are not supposed to enjoy anything which we have not honestly earned with our personal effort whatever be the nature of that effort. It may be physical, it may be social, it may be intellectual, it may be something else. Are we convinced from the recesses of our heart that the facilities of life that we are enjoying are the real outcome of the effort that we have put forth, or are they the consequences of some sort of exploitation? If that is the case, it is undesirable.
Exploitation is not the law of life, and it will not succeed. Though in the beginning it may appear to succeed for some time, later on it will produce a tremendous reaction; and that reaction will be so painful that we will not be able to bear it. If we keep this in mind, we will find that our efforts are so little that we can enjoy only very little in this life. How much effort are we putting forth for enjoying the facilities of life? Let everyone weigh the efforts that they put forth. Let us see: What have I done from morning to evening to deserve the comforts of life? We cannot ask even from God any facility unless we have done something for it, paid a price for it.
If this essential factor of spiritual economy, we may call it, is not borne in mind, there will be a reaction in the form of rebirth, and there will be no God-realisation. Rebirth is the outcome of having enjoyed things which we do not really deserve, which do not belong to us. We cannot take more than what we have given; this is the law of life. We have to give as much as we take from the world; otherwise, we cannot take it, and if we try to take more than what we have given, rebirth is the result. No yoga can help us.
Therefore, simplicity of life is called for. We have to be as simple as possible in our lives. He who is low fears no fall. Climb not too high under the impression that you are powerful. And so, it is better to give more and take less, and have a greater credit thereby, than take more and give less and deserve the discredit of the debit that would be struck against us in our lifes balance sheet.
These are not unconnected aspects of the practice of yoga, but very much connected. We always think that yoga means sitting in a posture, breathing deeply, and thinking something. This is not yoga, though that may be a part of the misconstrued idea we have of the higher reaches of yoga. In the practice of yoga, we are not doing something silently in our rooms; we are interfering with the powers of the world. This we should not forget. The practice of yoga is not a silent working of some peculiar technique inside ones room. No. We are operating the powers of the world when we are practicing yoga. It is like a telephone operator: though he may be sitting in a small room, he has connections with so many things. Or, it is something like the operator of a central powerhouse which has connections with innumerable centres outside. We are operating the switchboard of the cosmos when we enter into the practice of yoga. All these things are difficult for most people to imagine. We only think in terms of a little deep breathing, and standing on the head for a few minutes, and chanting something. All this little practice that we do in our own misconstrued way will not shake even a hair of this world.
Truly speaking – in the true sense of the term – yoga is that majestic and imponderable activity of our mind by which it tries to associate itself with every centre of power in the world. It is not merely something that is happening within our own body, because what is within our body is subtly connected with everything else in the world. Even if we are merely trying to rouse certain powers within our own body, there will be a simultaneous rising of the counterparts of these powers in the world outside; and if we cannot be equal to the nature of the powers that are roused thus in the outside world, there will be a fall in the practice of yoga. Many people even go crazy because they cannot face the powers that are roused thus. Hence, an utter dispassionate attitude and an abolition of all unwanted cravings inside should be regarded as a great necessity before we sit for pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, etc. We need not worry too much about these things called asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana; they are such simple things when these prerequisites are properly fulfilled.
All the time is taken only in the manufacture of the matchstick, and the striking of the match takes only a few seconds. Then why are we bothering about the striking of the match? That is a simple affair: we simply strike it. But how much time have we taken to manufacture it? This we forget, and we are worrying only about the striking of the match, which is called meditation. There is no difficulty about it; it is the most simple of things, but the difficulty is in preparing oneself for it, making oneself ready for it, and in understanding what it really means.
Having said all this, and understood this much, we take wholeheartedly to this great call of life called yoga. It is the great call of life, the call of God, the call of Eternity, the call of Infinity, the call of the Ultimate Reality, which we cannot resist, and which we should not try to resist. When we try to listen to this supreme call, every other sound of the world is shut out. We become impervious to the entry of external forces, which appear to go counter to this supreme call; and then it is that we are firmly seated in an asana. Even to sit in one posture is difficult because of the fickleness of the mind. Fickleness of mind has much to do with the inability to sit in one posture.
A rajasic and tamasic mind filled with desire, and agitated with frustrated feelings within cannot sit in one posture. Even this much we cannot do. We cannot sit even in an asana, let alone do other things. Ask anyone to sit quietly for three hours. It is not possible. He will get up and go away after a few minutes. He is agitated. What is wrong? The whole body is agitated: the nerves, the muscles, even the bones are shaking, and he cannot sit. Very strange! We cannot even sit quietly, and we are thinking of meditating on God!
All this is because we have a disturbed mind; we should not forget this. It is not that there is something wrong with our body. We may be a healthy person, but something is wrong with our mind. We are thinking a hundred things in our mind and in a very chaotic manner, not in a consistent way. The whole thing is a hotchpotch in the head; therefore, we cannot sit quietly without a sense of uneasiness.
Even sitting in one asana, or posture, is a great achievement. It is not an ordinary thing. It is wonderful if we can sit in one posture for three hours continuously. We may go to satsang and see how many people sit continuously from beginning to end, without getting up and going out. They will get up and go, as if something is wrong with them; or they will look this way, that way, do something, touch something, say something. It is horrible, really speaking. Why do they speak, why do they look this way, that way, touch this and touch that, do this and do that, get up, and go in and go out? What is wrong? And where is the question of the practice of yoga? It is all nonsense, if even a little of this initial practice cannot be done.
That is, we are totally unprepared; and this sort of attitude is not good for us. Otherwise, we will die in this very condition of sorrow. We would have achieved nothing got nothing either from this world or from the other world. We started showing a sort of disinterest in the things of the world under the notion that the heavens will descend upon us; but the heavens are not coming, and we have left the world. So we are like Trisankus, caught in the middle, and we are more wretched than the man of the world, if that is to be our fate.
So, let there be an honest effort to fully prepare oneself for this great ordeal. Though it may look like an ordeal in the beginning, it is a movement towards the greatest of joys conceivable. Let us be prepared for this, and let us be confident that success when this preparation is properly done is bound to come now, not in the distant future.