by Swami Krishnananda
It was concluded that the essence, the true being or the reality of an individual is something quite different than what it appears on the surface to the perception of the naked eye. We do not seem to be what we appear to be. All our perceptions in the world seem to be misguided, far removed from the facts that govern life as such. We landed on the conclusion that we can exist independent of every kind of relation, which we actually do when we are in the state of deep sleep.
We are under the impression that relations are important; and life is nothing but a bundle of relationships. Whenever we define ourselves or describe conditions in life, we express ourselves in terms of relations. In terms of relations, connections, associations, we understand life. Life has no meaning if it is not related to something that appears to be externally dovetailed to it.
Now what we, by analysis, understand is, this is not the case. We have an independence of our own—a personality that can stand on its own legs. It is not always essential for a person to be hanging on somebody else for his ultimate survival, though it looks as if we cannot exist without depending on external factors. It was also noted that this dual aspect of our personality is due to our involvement in phenomenal relations on the one hand and, on the other hand, our being totally free from every kind of relation.
We have, as they say philosophically, an empirical side and also a transcendental side. Empirically we are bound to the body, to human relations and to natural circumstances; transcendentally we are absolutely free. This transcendent freedom that is at the root of our being is the hope of our life. Our aspirations, rocketing up to the skies, can be explained only in terms of the transcendent reality that we really seem to be. Otherwise, our long-stretched aspirations have no meaning. They cannot even be conceived.
The desire to live as long as possible, even hundreds of years if it is practicable, can only be explained if we are free from time. A person bound to time cannot aspire for a timeless longevity or a durationless existence. Because of the involvement in the time process, we seem to be decaying and heading towards death. But because there is something in us which is not so involved in time, we hope for a better future, though we do not know where that future is and what kind of future it is.
There is both an infinity of longing and an endless, durationless desire working together at the same time, telling us that we are not bleating sheep but powerful lions with immense strength. But the mind is a trickster, about which we shall study a little later in our course of discussions. All this put together leads us to the conclusion that we are essentially independent existence, free from empirical relations. This was noticed in the state of deep sleep, and we did exist there in a more pleasant way than in any other empirical condition of waking life.
Again, please remember all the processes we discussed earlier. These things that we are discussing are not just information that is poured on your head, but something which will benefit you in your practical existence in this world—which will mould you and make you something superb and novel. If you could exist merely as a kind of consciousness, which was the case in sleep, this has to be deeply pondered over. What could have been the nature of that consciousness? What is meant by ‘consciousness’?
Psychologically speaking, consciousness can be defined as a subjectivity that is aware of something. The pure subjectivity in us which is experienced by us in the state of deep sleep is aware of something. We are aware of something now in the waking state, but this awareness in the waking condition is not of our subjectivity. We think very little of our own personality in our day-to-day existence; we think mostly of things outside. Just imagine what you are thinking in your mind from morning to evening. Do you go on thinking of yourself? You think only that which is not you—things outside. But in the state of deep sleep, the reverse process takes place. All that importance that you attach to the outside world is severed from your experience, and you are what you are; you stand by yourself. In ordinary waking life, you are involved in things which are not you, but in the state of deep sleep, you are only in you.
Would it be good to be in you, or would it be good to be not in you? This is a great question. Would you like to always be other than what you are, or would you like to be what you are? Certainly, you would not like to lose yourself in contemplating that which you are not; and a loss of yourself is implied in all contemplations on that which you are not. The more you think of objects outside, the more you have lost yourself. Therefore, misery rains upon you. The more you think of things outside—persons, the world, etc., and involvements of every kind—the more is the loss of your personality, the larger is the world for you, and the smaller are you at that time. Unless you are very small, the world does not look big. Your smallness is disproportionately related to the bigness of the universe. The more astounding and inscrutable is this universe before you, striking marvel in your mind, the more finite you are at that time. Is this the case?
It has been noticed that a thoroughgoing analysis of the nature of the consciousness in our deep sleep will give an answer to this question. Are we puppet-like in this world? The most difficult thing in the world is to understand one’s own self. Great seers have proclaimed: “Know thyself and be free!” You will be wondering, “How can I can be free by knowing myself?” Most people think that they know themselves very well. Don’t you know who you are? “Yes, very well.” We have a passport description of our personality. Now, “How can I consider myself as free? The passport itself is a bondage, so what do you mean by gaining freedom by knowing one’s own self?” Here is a metaphysical quandary before us. An ordinary, untutored mind cannot understand it.
You will find that this is difficult to understand, and may ask: “What are you telling us? Can I be free by being myself?” This is because a little shadow of your original wrong notion of yourself still persists. You seem to be carrying your finite psychophysical definition of yourself even to the description of the state of deep sleep when you feel doubtful about what this freedom of “I am just what I am” could be. However much you may go deep into this matter philosophically, you will find that a psychological difficulty persists. The persistence of this difficulty is due to the mind interpreting transcendental matters—the mind that is involved in space, time and relations.
You have to listen to me carefully here again. The mind that is involved in space, time and relations is trying to understand that which is not involved in that way. So in the early stages, it looks like a difficulty and a contradiction. The involvement of the mind in external relations is so profound that you seem to be incapable of thinking in any other manner at all. Even if you agree for the time being that your essential nature is Pure Existence-Consciousness, when you start thinking of it, you wrongly locate it somewhere.
Do you not feel that this Existence-Consciousness is in you? But this is a wrong definition of yourself. In the state of deep sleep, you are not inside yourself; you are just what you are. So, do not say your consciousness is inside you. There is no insideness there; it is just what you are. Difficult it is to conceive this! The existence that you are, unrelated being that you are, Pure Consciousness that you are in the state of deep sleep is not something inside you, as if you are outside it. So do not make the mistake of juxtaposing a wrongly related psychophysical individuality with that which you really are.
The whole point is, we cannot get out of this clutch of psychophysical involvement, however much we may try. And where doubt persists, a kind of fear also persists simultaneously. Whenever there is doubt, there is also fear: “Where am I heading?” Here, a very subtle investigative approach is called for. Yoga philosophy and psychology tells us that an impure mind cannot study this subject. A mind full of desires, with suppressed emotions, torn feelings, non-aligned internality—persons with such a mind are not in a position to understand this subtlety.
In the Yoga System, it is mentioned again and again that the mind has to be purified before it embarks upon investigations of this kind, because you are trying to rise above yourself, together with an attempt to rise above the world. This attempt will not end in success if you are already involved in the world and very much fond of yourself as a body and personality, and loves and hates tear you day in and day out.
Every yoga student is, to some extent at least, a sincere, honest, purified mind, with no muddle in his conscience. You should have no conscience pricking you. You should be very clear that your search is honest, it is one hundred percent sincere, and you are not just making a joke with it. If this sincerity is at the back of your pursuit, you shall certainly be able to achieve your purpose.
This consciousness which is existence, which is what you are basically, is not somewhere. This also is an important thing to remember. Where is this consciousness that you are? Is it lying on the bed when you are sleeping? Is the consciousness just as wide as the cot on which you are sleeping? The mind may say, “Yes, it is so,” but it is not so. The consciousness is not sleeping; the sleeper is somebody else.
You cannot locate consciousness in space and time, because consciousness is that which is conscious of space and time. Therefore, it cannot be involved in space and time. Space and time are objects of consciousness. How do you know that there is space, time or objects? The knower cannot be involved in that which is known. If the knower is involved in the known, there cannot be knowledge of the known.
So, we have drawn another conclusion: This consciousness that we are is not involved in space, not involved in time, and not involved in any kind of physical or external relation, merely because of the fact that if such involvement had taken place, the consciousness of there being such things would not be there. If consciousness was not involved in space, it would be spaceless. If it was spaceless, it would be dimensionless. If it was dimensionless, it would not have a location. For the purpose of our understanding at present, it would be everywhere. That which is not located in space is spaceless, dimensionless; we may say it is infinitude. Are we all-pervading in our basic essence? Is this not an astounding, wonder-strucking, unbelievable conclusion? “I was thinking that I am only a little person somewhere, living in a little flat, in a little room. Am I something more than this?” This is a great solace here. This message of yoga, this message of Vedanta, this message of the ancient masters is a solace when we appear to be sinking in this world of problems galore.
If this is the case, then our entire attitude to life changes. How would we live in this world of persons and things if this is our real nature? The conclusion that follows from this analysis will be clear to each one of you: You will not be a person afterwards; you may perhaps be called a super-person. Persons who have transcended the consciousness of personality and are able to live a super-personal existence, being sure of it being there, are called super-human beings—super-men, super-persons, super-individuals.
To think this, to be brooding over this, to be conscious only of this, would be the greatest spiritual meditation that you can think of. No meditation is greater than this. What is it that you are thinking? The mind will shudder with a fear of its being lost in this vast ocean of a discovery that it cannot contain within itself. It is like an ocean entering a little pot; the pot will not be there anymore. Infinity seems to have entered this finitude of human individuality. This vast world of perception is a universal object, as it were, presented to this Universal Consciousness.
The seer of this world is not a person. We have already come to the conclusion that you as a seer of this world are in your own root. This universal comprehensiveness looks like a little individuality because this essential universality of consciousness has been locked up within the little prison house of this body conditioned by the sense organs, and the whole sea of consciousness is peeping through these apertures of the sense organs and seeing itself in the world of objects—as it happens in dream, for instance. The big things that you see in the dream world—space, time, mountains, rivers, sun, moon, stars, and everything seen in dream—are presented outside. They are as much external as is the world in waking life. But what is this mountain in dream made of? Is it a physical substance? Can you touch it? You can hit your head against a wall even in dream. You can feel hunger and thirst. What are these substances in dream made of?