Book Code: ES293
Paperback: 255 pages
Book Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.40 inches
Shipping Weight: 270 grams
Table of Contents
|Discrimination and Dispassion||(14)|
|Continuity of Existence||(21)|
|Instrument of Perception||(22)|
|Correction of Error in Perception||(23)|
|Aim of Yoga||(25)|
|Our Relation With Reality||(27)|
|Yoga in Daily Life||(29)|
|Perfect Art of Life||(30)|
|Yoga of Action||(31)|
|The Nature of Truth or Brahman||43|
|What Is Jnana Yoga?||46|
|The Path of the Vedantic Aspirant||47|
|Hints on Vedantic Sadhana||49|
|Annihilation of the Ego||54|
|Obstacles in the Path||59|
|Wisdom and Realisation||60|
|Nature of Brahman||80|
|Vision of a Sage and a Worldly Man||81|
|Happiness Is in Atman Only||82|
|One Brahman Is Both Material and Efficient Cause||82|
|Brahman Is Unattached||82|
|Qualifications of an Aspirant||82|
|Method of Meditation||83|
|Nature of Brahman||86|
The Vision of a Sage and a Worldly Man
|Happiness Is in Atman Only||97|
|Brahman Is Both Material and Efficient Cause||98|
|Brahman Is Unattached||99|
|Qualifications of an Aspirant||102|
Method of Meditation
|Withdrawal From Multiplicity||108|
|Fitness for Wisdom||109|
|Guide to Meditation||111|
|Subtle and Most Subtle||116|
|Remove the Colouring of the Mind||118|
|Samgraha Vedanta Prakaranam||119|
|Tat Tvam Asi||122|
|Glory of Pranava||125|
|The Struggle for the Infinite||127|
|The First Observation||127|
|Analysis of the Self||129|
|Application to Life||130|
|Waking Experience Is As False As Dream Experience||132|
|Anvaya and Vyatireka||139|
|The Message of the Upanishads||151|
|Upanishads on Food||159|
|Eating Is a Sacrifice||162|
Categories in Vedanta
|What Is Vedanta?||193|
|Vedanta Solves All Problems||194|
|Vedanta for Health||194|
|Vedanta for World-peace||194|
|There Is Only One Soul||195|
|Share With All||196|
|Japa of Om During Work||196|
|Take the Essence||196|
|Remember Sankara’s Words||197|
|Be a Witness||197|
|Watch the Breath||198|
|Study These Books||198|
|Possess These Means||199|
|Enquire ‘Who Am I?’||200|
|Separate and Identify||200|
|Negate the Body and the Mind||201|
|Assert and Realise||201|
|Chant and Sing Om||201|
|Song of Om||201|
|The State of a Jivanmukta||202|
|Song of a Vedantin||202|
|Song of Chidananda||203|
|Mantras for Ahamgraha Upasana||204|
|Human Birth Is for God-realisation||205|
|Waste not Precious Life||207|
|Renunciation Is a Glorious Thing||208|
|Sense-life Is a Terrible Bondage||213|
|Sensual Life Is Shameful Life||215|
|Your Wretched State||216|
|Real Svarajya Is Atma Svarajya||221|
|Tyaga Is True Heroism||222|
|Money Is a Source of Misery||224|
|How Rotten Physical Beauty Is||225|
|The Fleeting Nature of Things||227|
|There Is Only Suffering in This World||228|
|Pleasure Is Purely Illusive||230|
|This Disgraceful Modern Age||232|
|Worldly Man! Wake Up!||235|
|Follow the Wise||239|
|Prince or Fisherman?||242|
|The Distant Inheritance||243|
|The Parable of the Millionaire’s Son||245|
Formulae for Nirguna Meditation
Vedanta is the crest jewel of all schools of philosophical thought which preaches the Unity of Existence, or Oneness of Consciousness. It proclaims that all these innumerable beings are, in essence, one and the same. It thrills and widens the heart, brightens the intellect, and makes one experience the Absolute Being, the Only Reality. Goodness of heart and intelligence of brain, which the whole world considers as a marvellous possession, is superseded by the Divinity of Absolute Consciousness through direct intuitional cognition of the Universal Soul!
“Essence of Vedanta” is a priceless jewel from the diadem of Sivananda Literature.
Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, unlike many other Vedantins, is a practical Vedantin. This glorious characteristic runs through all his writings. This wonderful scripture bears witness to it.
We are confident that students of Vedanta, and seekers after Truth who have chosen the path of Jnana, will find in this volume a great practical guide to Self-realisation.
THE DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY
(Sri P.C. Diwanji, Retd. Judge, Bombay)
Out of the six systems of philosophy which admit the authoritativeness of the Veda to a greater or less extent there are only two, namely the Vedanta and the Yoga, which attract the largest number of serious students from amongst the aspirants for spiritual advancement in this country. Of them the doctrine of the Vedanta as systematically expounded in the Saririka Sutra has been interpreted by the commentaries of various philosophical and theological schools in diverse ways which have given rise to the Kevaladvaita, Visishtadvaita and other Vadas, which have reference to differing views as to the nature of the ultimate reality sought to be established thereby. But the one thought which has been found in all the ages to appeal to the largest number of intelligent aspirants is the first, whose exponent was the first Sankaracharya. He being the earliest of the scholars to make a comprehensive effort to establish harmony between the three great recognised sources of the Vedanta doctrine namely the ten Upanishads of the Vedic age, the Bhagavadgita of the Epic age and the Saririka Sutra of the Darshana (systematic exposition) age, some holes were picked in his line of reasonings by the exponents of the other schools particularly, Ramanuja and Madhva. They had met with suitable rejoinders from amongst the followers of Sankara’s earlier interpreters of the two schools of Suresvara and Vachaspati. The last of those who faithfully interpreted Sankara’s dicta in the Parimala, a gloss on the Sariraka Sutra and composed an independent treatise a digest, embodying the result of a study of the arguments of all the writers of the Kevaladvaita school, named Siddhantaleshasamgraha was Appayya Dikshit, a South Indian scholar, who died at Banaras in 1660 at the ripe age of 72 years. The revered Swami Sivananda is, by birth, a scion of the same Dikshit family now a Sannyasin of the Ananda order, which is one of the ten orders founded by Sankara and also a faithful exponent of his Kevaladvaita Vada.
Next, philosophy is studied in India not as an intellectual pastime but as furnishing a reliable guide to the realisation of the true nature of the Self and to the determination of the right attitude to be adopted towards the non-selves, in which class fall not only the objects of the external world but also the sheaths enveloping the Self, such as the physical body, the vital parts, mind, etc. According to the Vedanta doctrine one must practise “Nididhyasana” (meditation or constant musing) of the quintessence of the Vedanta teaching contained in one of the “Mahavakyas” (great sentences)—the most often-quoted one out of which is that contained the Chhandogya Upanishad of the Samaveda namely, ‘Tat-tvam-asi’ (Thou art That), meaning that you are identical with the reality, Brahman. Thus, besides the knowledge derived from an external source such as a Guru or a scripture and reflection over its meaning, meditation on the truth contained therein forms part of the means for the Self-realisation. The human mind has however a natural tendency to brood over the non-selves. Some of the Upanishad sages had therefore hit upon the expedient of the constant repetition of the monosyllable Om, called the “Udgita” or “Pranava” and reflection over its meaning as the pure Brahman or the Self taken as an entire unite and as the qualified Brahman in its three aspects of the presiding deities of the cosmic processes of the creation, sustenance and destruction or the qualified self in its three aspects of the Vaisvanara, Taijasa and Prajna, the individual soul in the states of waking, dreaming and sleeping. The said process of meditation itself led in the Upanishad age to the state of “Samadhi” (perfect composure or self-integration) in the case of aspirants of a very high order if they lived in solitude and observed celibacy and in the case of others when it was further aided by the “Upasana” of the “Udgita”. That was an age in which life being simple there were few causes of mental distraction so much so that some Kshatriyas could attain Siddhi even without outward renunciation. Gradually however life began to be more and more complex with the result that the task of concentrating on one object continuously for some time began to be found difficult. This led to the invention of other devices as the means for keeping the vagrant minds under control. Some of these were exclusively mental while others were mixed mental and physical ones. Such devices when systematised by experience acquired the names of the different species of Yoga which have reference to the principal means employed for the attainment of the goal, the realisation of true nature of the Self which is identical in essence with the overself, the Paramatman, who transcends the limitations of space, time and causation and is also the inner ruler of all beings. Such realisation puts an end to all mental worries, which are the result of a false sense of the identification of the Self with the non-selves and a false sense of values which results from the ignorance of the fact that the universe of which we become conscious as consisting of diverse entities when we are in the states of waking and dreaming is also in essence the same as the Self within us, and brings in its train feelings of joy, contentment, perfect peace of mind etc. As however so long as the connection of the soul with the body and the senses becomes revived on return to the state of waking the overself or the self feeling itself as extended in space and time and acting in the world of causation takes possession of the body, senses and mind, becomes inspired with the disinterested desire to make as much contribution as one can, with the powers at one’s command through the said purified body, senses and mind, to the uplift of the other beings with whom one comes in contact, to the same high spiritual level as oneself, so that the ideal of the realisation of the sole existence of the unconditioned self even in the state of waking when the operation of the mind and the senses is not suspended may be attained. Towards the fulfilment of that objective, the Yogi has to remain engaged in diverse activities at diverse levels in the outside world but unlike those engaged in selfish activities he not only meets with no obstacles but on the contrary meets with several inconceivable facilities in respect of men, money and materials to the extent to which the objective conceived by him is in consonance with the preparedness of his field of action. Nor does such activity create any fresh bonds for him because it is individual egoism which is the cause of bondage and that he had cast off once for all before the desire was implanted in his mind. The universal consciousness, which did that, sees to it that he is only guided by intuition as inspired by it and not by individual desires, passions and prejudices, although continuing to have connection with a human body and remains indifferent to the results of his acts whether they are or are not the same as humanly conceived. However even though guided by intuition and remaining indifferent to the results of his efforts he must, since he has to work on human material and accomplish a purpose in the world of physical forms, have settled views on the philosophical problems arising from the present-day conditions in the world of concrete reality which the leading thinkers of his age have been trying to solve by the use of their intelligence and evolve a technique which all those who are prepared to accept his guidance can understand, assimilate and act up to. It is easily understandable that although the Self which every embodied soul can realise is the same immutable one at all times the post-realisation activity of every Jivanmukta cannot have been moulded in the same pattern because such activity of each such soul must to a greater or less extent be determined by the knowledge of the empirical world gathered and assimilated by training and experience in the anti-realisation period of his life, the problem or problems to be tackled by each of them cannot be the same and the method of tackling it or them must be adapted to the temperaments of the kind of people to be dealt with and the prevalent conditions of life in each age.
Now all those who have come in touch with Swami Sivananda the Kulapati of the Ashram at Ananda Kutir, feel convinced that his mind must have been unintermittently occupied with thoughts and plans intuitively conceived for the uplift of the souls of those whom he deems worthy of being helped by him to come upto the same level as his own in the best and as far as possible the easiest and quickest manner possible, regardless of the fact whether they do or do not come into physical touch with him, that he has not only carefully studied but also entered completely into the spirit of all the principal works on the Vedanta philosophy so as to be able to interpret them correctly in a simple non-technical language which even the novices can follow without such effort and above all he being of the view that mere theoretical knowledge is an intellectual pastime or a means for earning one’s livelihood, has acquired such a mastery over all the different species of Yoga practice as to be able to act as a very useful guide to the Sadhakas of all grades of spiritual development at all the stages in their progress towards their goal in any course of Yogic discipline, and warn them against possible pitfalls in their onward march. He is known to be doing that in diverse ways.
In the first place, he has by the continued practice of the post-realisation course of Yoga acquired the powers to receive and transmit messages by telepathy, which are effective in the case of those disciples of his who surrender themselves completely to him for guidance along the spiritual path.
Secondly, he has such an inexhaustible fund of energy that he is never tired of contributing articles on diverse topics of practical utility in the pursuit of the ideal by the readers of the English and Hindi journals edited from his Ashram by some of his Sannyasi disciples under his supervision and also by those of other journals devoted to philosophical and religious subjects edited from other places by other persons and of writing books, big and small, calculated to assist their readers in understanding the Vedanta doctrine considered from various angles of vision, ancient and modern and in both its aspects theoretical and practical. These books he presents very liberally to those whom he believes to be worthy of such kindness and generosity.
Thirdly he solves the doubts of and gives instructions by correspondence to those who address letters to him for those purposes from any part of the world.
Fourthly, although he has a number of well-trained disciples who can and do train newcomers who take up their abode in the Ashram either permanently or temporarily for being trained in any species of Sadhana and in the practice of the art of leading a divine life he himself pays personal attention to all and sundry and supervises the work entrusted to each such disciple and whenever found necessary gives personal guidance and furnishes an excellent example of what is meant by leading a divine life. The work of the Yoga-Vedanta Forest University (the status of the University has later on been changed into an Academy for certain reasons), which he has founded has been placed on a systematic basis and all its extra-curricular activities are given sufficient publicity through its Weekly journal which is published very regularly. The aim of introducing such activities seems to be the double one of giving opportunities to the eminent visitors to the institution to come into personal touch with the teachers and pupils at the University and to the latter groups to the trend of thought of the persons outside the orthodox Hindu fold. Some of the casual visitors also seek interviews with the Swamiji. He gives them freely and causes the reports thereof to be published in the University Weekly for the knowledge of its readers residing outside Rishikesh.
Fifthly, although he himself is a firm believer in the truth of the Vedanta teaching as expounded by Sankara and in the efficacy of the means recommended by him for the realisation of that truth namely Dhyana Yoga, he not only does not discourage those who have an admiration for any other system of thought and an inclination to pursue any other means for the realisation of truth but tries to interpret all the others in such a way as to bring about a harmony between them and the others from the practical point of view. Moreover he impresses upon the minds of his followers that the path of knowledge is required to be supplemented by that of action, done without an eye to the acquisition of any material benefit out of it, in the shape of disinterested service to the diseased and disabled human beings believing it to be a service rendered to the Almighty and that while doing so the attitude of mind to be adopted should be one of gratefulness to Him for giving that opportunity and not one of conferring an obligation on the needy individuals. Dhyana Yoga is a part of Jnana Yoga. But aspirants are not temperamentally or constitutionally fitted to be able to be engaged in contemplation without any previous preparation. The Swamiji therefore advises the supplementation of that Yoga by some physical or mental exercises, such as Asana, Pranayama and Pratyahara and even some Mudras (special physical devices) which form part of Hatha Yoga, in order that the mind can be brought under control by first acquiring control over the vital breath and the nervous system, and to the others he advises being engaged in the process of repetition of some short or long Vaidic or Pauranic Mantras which when done with reflection on the meanings of the Mantras enables one to stop the operation of the subconscious mind which is responsible for causing distraction when one tries to be engaged in meditation. This combination of the different species of Yoga he calls the Yoga of synthesis.
Lastly, for some years past he has organised the performance at his Ashram of what is designated as the “Visvasanti Yajna”, a sacrifice performed by some devotees who have dedicated their remaining lives to the selfless service of humanity, so that a reign of peace may be established in the universe as a whole.
The revered Swami Sivananda thus makes a solid contribution to the development of Indian philosophy on new lines suited to the requirements of the modern age, in which the duty of man is deemed not to end with securing the salvation of one’s individual soul but to extend to rendering the best possible help to others as well in getting relief from physical suffering and thereby enabling to make the best possible use they can of their lives on this planet for their own salvation, and in which the duty of securing the welfare of society is not deemed to be confined to the governing bodies but to, extend to the members of the society, because the former share their rights also with them. May the Almighty continue to confer on him energy and enthusiasm for many more years in order to enable him to give the benefit of his knowledge and experience to many more persons all over this earth than he has been able to do so far personally and through his trained disciples sent abroad for doing the same beneficent work in other countries.
Note: this article was written in 1958.
It is the need for the coordination of our thoughts with the higher life, the communion of our ideas with higher ideals, that is behind our love for spiritual values, our interest in religious matters our desire for holy association and studies. This noble purpose consists in our aspiration for moving towards a higher life which transcends and comprehends whatever we normally experience in the material plane.
It is the aspiration to grow, to evolve, to direct oneself to a transcendental ideal which is at once real at the time of its experience. It goes without saying, that we have a background of our thoughts which decides our motives, and that background determines the nature of our aspiration. It determines the nature of goal to which our aspiration directs us.
To put it concisely, we have a consciousness of the difference between the nature of our present condition and the nature of the ideal which we have before us. This consciousness of the distinction between the two levels of life has arisen in us on account of various factors. Purvapunya or the results of the meritorious deeds which we have done in previous births is one of the factors which has caused the rise of this consciousness in us, the consciousness of the existence of a higher life and the inadequacy of the Present life.
This we call in a technical term Viveka, a dissatisfaction with the superficial experience that we have in the material level and a glimpse indistinct though it may be of the presence of the higher life. Together with this consciousness of the presence of the higher ideal, this aspiration for living the higher life, a distaste is created in us, however temporary or unsubstantial for what is incongruous with the nature of that higher ideal. We call this distaste, Vairagya or dispassion.
An intense passion for the Real, a burning aspiration to realise the ultimately existent Being, includes the withdrawal of the natural consciousness of the visible objects of this world. Viveka and Vairagya come together. The one is the natural concomitant of the other. We have made an unconscious analysis of experience with our minds which has caused the rise of Viveka. When this analysis becomes conscious, it becomes a direct step in Sadhana.
An unconscious spiritual urge is felt as the result of conscious meritorious deeds which we have done in our past lives. We might have had some spiritual awareness in our previous lives also, and we might have thought over the problems of life and aspired for a solution. The present life is only a continuation of the past life. It is not a new life that we are leading now abruptly with a fresh beginning, but it is the continuation of a series. It is just one rung in the ladder of evolution.
The purpose of the spiritual aspirant, therefore, is to make this unconscious analysis a conscious one. The conscious analysis begins with the perception and experience of what is immediately presented to us. We understand what it is that is immediately brought before our senses. We take for granted the reality of what our senses perceive. We see this physical world. We see our own selves as situated here as contents of this world. We are parts of this cosmos, this universe, this world.
It does not require much time for you to understand that you are in the midst of others, because that perception which you have of yourself is immediate, non-relational. This knowledge does not stand in need of any external proof. The proof of the existence of an object outside is direct sense-perception. You say, “Here is a person sitting before me”, because you see him directly, perceive him and observe him through your senses which carry great authenticity.
Our present life is based on sense-perception. We are said to live, therefore, in a sense-world, a world that is presented to us by our senses. We do not question the authenticity of the experience that is brought to us by the senses, because we have identified to such an extent our consciousness with the form of the perception in which the objects in this world are presented to us or with which they come to us, to our consciousness. This is the basis of all philosophical and spiritual analysis, the analysis of the experiencing consciousness.
The common man with his common-sense takes for granted the validity of his experience in this world. I see this world. Well; here is the object. The world is here, and I have to make use of it. I have to live in the world by adjusting and adapting myself to the environments, so that I may fulfil the purpose which is in my mind, as the ideal to be realised. Different people have different conceptions of the ideal of life. But this is gross perception which takes the sense-world as ultimately real. It is the lowest form of perception that we have, because it is the perception of the gross physical universe of which our body is a part, a content.
The spiritual aspirant is endowed with a special higher consciousness of the existence of something, absolutely real which is above this experience which we receive through our senses. This aspiration for the Real is ingrained in the consciousness of the spiritual aspirant: only it gets intensified when he approaches the Guru, a spiritual preceptor, and receives the higher initiation from him but it is present there in him even before he approaches the Guru. Else, he would not have had the inclination to go to the spiritual Guru at all.
He feels the need for a higher knowledge. He feels the need for his being guided by a spiritual teacher. That means that he has already had within himself the rise of this consciousness of a trans-empirical life. It is in the seed state. It has to come to the state of a sprout, a plant and a tree later on, through the grace of the spiritual teacher, and through the grace of God.
Now with this aspiration, with this consciousness of the existence of a higher spiritual ideal, the aspirant begins his analysis in the light of the teachings of the Guru. It is the spiritual teacher who guides him in the process of this analysis. What is the form which this analysis takes? It is the analysis of his own self because the one object which is said to have doubtless existence is one’s own self.
One may doubt anything in this world, but one cannot doubt about one’s existence. All philosophical speculation, all aspiration, all endeavour, begin with this consciousness of the existence of one’s self. But here comes the distinction between the awareness which a spiritual aspirant has in regard to his existence and the one which the ordinary man has in regard to himself.
The objects which are seen in the world are considered by the common man to be existing outside his body and senses, and he feels that a copy, as it were, of the objects is experienced by him in his mind. The object itself does not enter his eye or the ear, but there is a transmission of vibration from that object, which his consciousness becomes aware of, which becomes a content of his consciousness and on account of which he happens to know the existence of the physical object.
It is only the spiritual aspirant endowed with a higher discrimination that can question the validity of this form of experience. You see a person. But how do you do this? You may say that because you have got eyes. An aspirant will not be satisfied with that answer, if only he has that higher intellect, because he wishes to know what actually is the process by which he is enabled to be aware of another’s existence. One may say that there is a vibration, as it were, emanating from the object outside and becoming a content of one’s consciousness, but one must go deeper into these problems, for even the possibility of such a vibration has to be explained.
You see so many objects in the world, so many forms but how are you to be sure of their existence? No one puts this question to himself, because he is already certain as to the nature of experience. It is only the spiritual aspirant who doubts this situation. Is it true one has a consciousness of real existence?
Now, take for granted that you are having a consciousness of real things. How do you know these to be real things? The obvious answer is: through the senses. What is the connection that the senses have with the objects outside? Nobody seems to know this, because there appears to be no relation at all, no contact between the sense organs and the objects outside.
If there is no sense-contact at all, how can you be aware of your existence here? You may see a person several feet apart from you, and you are aware of his existence, without your coming in contact with him in any way. You may say that light waves travel from you and contact the retina of the other person’s eyes. That is true, but the object is not brought and kept in your eyes. The object is outside. Even to have an image of the object in your consciousness, you must have some kind of intrinsic relation with that object.
No one will think for a moment that it is possible to have contact with an external object without involving in that contact a subtle relation, whatever the nature of that relation be. It is true that we have some kind of contact with the external world, though it may not always be a physical contact. There is a kind of relation which is intelligible in its nature. Otherwise the object cannot become a content of your intelligent nature.
You know that objects which have dissimilar characteristics cannot commingle each other and become one. For example, a rod of steel cannot be mixed with milk, for the two are possessed of dissimilar characteristics. Water and milk get mixed with each other, because they have a similar character. What is the nature of your consciousness which becomes aware of the presence of the objects outside? It is spiritual.
It appears to be ethereal, pervasive; otherwise it cannot comprehend the object outside; and if your spiritual nature, the intelligent nature, should be aware of the existence of the object outside, there should be something in the object which is similar to the consciousness that you have in you. In other words, there should be a spiritual element in the object that you see outside.
If you deny the existence of any spiritual element in the object perceived, you must admit that my consciousness, too, is physical in nature. That means your physical being is coming in contact with the physical object. You are not physically in contact with whom you see at all, and yet you are aware of his presence. It is a non-physical relation that enables you to be aware of the other’s existence. It has to be accepted that there is a non-physical relation in knowledge. This non-physical relation is psychological, empirically, but ultimately spiritual.
Even from the empirical viewpoint, we have to define the word ‘psychological’. What is meant by ‘psychological relation’? You may say: ‘mental relation’. And what is the nature of the mind? Is it physical? If it is physical, it should be inert, and it cannot be then conscious of the existence of the world outside. The mind should be endowed with an intelligent nature.
Here we are concerned only with the intelligent nature of the person, for all perception refers to an intelligence. This intelligence is responsible for the perception of the world outside. The intelligent nature should be present in the object also; else your intelligent nature cannot be in contact with it and you may not be aware of the existence of the outside world.
Now the question would arise: Taking for granted that there is a spiritual or intelligent element in the outside object also, where is the need for positing a relation between the seer and the seen? The need is felt when we become aware of the fact that perception is impossible without a relation, and if perception is a fact relation is a fact, and if relation is a fact, it must be intelligent, spiritual.
When we see objects in the world we understand that there seems to be a spiritual relation between the experiencer and the experienced. But what is this relation? Does it belong to only a few or to all, or does it not belong to anybody at all? Now, if it does not belong to anyone, it must be hanging, as it were, loosely in space. And if it is thus hanging loosely, it will not be in contact either with one or with another. So a third relation has to be brought in to connect that relation with oneself, the subject. It means then that the spiritual relation between one and another is not disconnected from one or from the other, but it is homogeneous with both. It is in oneself, it is in another, and it is between both. Otherwise there would be no objective consciousness.
Now, this explanation of the nature of perception gives a clue to the understanding of the nature of the whole world itself, because the world consists of experiencers and objects that are experienced, and nothing but these two, and if the relation between these two is a spiritual one, then there is a spiritual relation subsisting everywhere in the world. In other words, there is a Spirit present everywhere in the world. Without it, experience is impossible. This analysis is made in the waking state. There is a spiritual consciousness present in everybody and it is not limited to the sense-organs, because the sense-organs are there even in that state of dream, when they do not function, and one is aware of one’s existence even then.
That means to say that consciousness which is the perceiver and experiencer, is an independent principle, different from these fleshy organs which are seen outside. There is what is called ‘blank-look’. The eyes will be open, but one will not see anything. In Shambhavi Mudra it is possible for one to withdraw one’s consciousness from the external objects and yet keep the eyes open. It is found here that consciousness is different from the eyes. The experience is different from the organs through the instrumentality of which he perceives and experiences external objects.
Now, this explanation holds good in the state of dream also, because as far as the structure of experience is concerned, there is no difference between waking and dream, though there is difference in the quality thereof, because one has a purified, clear consciousness in the waking state, and there is a dull hazy consciousness in the dreaming state. Apart from this fact, the structure is the same. There are space, time and objects in dream. There is the difference between the seer and the seen. Every blessed thing that one experiences in the waking state is experienced in the dream also.
So the question of the relation between the seer and the seen which has been answered in relation to the waking state is applicable to dream also. There is a spiritual entity, if at all one can call it an entity, which is existent everywhere in the universe, in all objects, in seer and in seen, in the waking as well as the dreaming state. How many states does one experience daily? One would find that everybody is either waking, dreaming or sleeping. In what other state can one be? Swoon or insensibility is not a special state of consciousness. It is said to be a state midway between waking and death. If one understands the nature of the three states of experience, one will have answered a very great question of life itself.
What is life? This question can be answered by answering the question relating to the three states of consciousness. When one understands the nature of the three states, one would have understood all forms of experience. The waking life manifests the Eternal Spirit in its phases. So does dream which is similar to waking experience in form. Now, what happens in the state of sleep? In sleep one has no awareness at all. There is neither the seer nor are there objects seen. It is a blank, static, inert, darkness—nothing but this. But one exists in deep sleep. One knows this because one wakes up the next morning and becomes aware of one’s previous experience. We are aware of the survival of the same individuality. When I wake up and say, “Yesterday I slept, today I am aware of it,” I do not forget the continuity of my personality.
It means, therefore, that I existed in the state of deep sleep. One more question is left to be answered—the problem of the nature of experience in deep sleep. We have earlier examined that when we are awake, we are in a spiritual world; when we are in dream, we are again in a spiritual world, because experience is impossible without the existence of a cosmic spiritual connection. Does this spiritual being exist during deep sleep? We do not know. We have no consciousness at all, then. But when we wake up from sleep, do we remember sleep? Yes. Now what is remembrance? Remembrance always follows an experience. We have a memory of what we have experienced previously. If there were no experience at all, there would be no memory.
Memory always should be preceded by experience, and there is no experience unless it is attained with consciousness. One does not have ‘unconscious’ experience. If there is experience there must be consciousness attending it. If there were no experience; there would have no memory. Therefore, there must be experience even in sleep. But what is the reason for one’s inability to experience one’s consciousness during sleep? This inability to experience one’s conscious existence during sleep is a factor which can be known and removed only by the practice of Yoga.
This is the fundamental principle, the teaching of all Yogas, the removal of the obstructing principle, something covering the consciousness which does not allow one to have any experience at all. The obstructing element is called Avarana, nescience, ignorance and the presence of this ignorance it is that makes one incapable of any kind of experience in deep sleep. But it is sure that there ought to have been a consciousness; only on account of the presence of this Avarana one does not have the opportunity to verify it during sleep. The presence of spiritual element in all the three states becomes, however, an established fact.
The ignorance in deep sleep state is conceded. There is no clearness of consciousness in dream state. Therefore, one can understand why one is not aware of the Self in these states but why is one ignorant of the Self in the waking state also? It can be logically concluded that there would be a spiritual entity everywhere in the world, but this logical knowledge is not sufficient. Though this analysis has brought about this conclusion, one does not have any direct knowledge of it.
Why is it so? The reason is this: We perceive this world through the mind and the senses. The mind and the senses are the instruments of our knowledge. Without those instruments we cannot experience anything in this world. And every instrument has got a make up, a structure, a form. The mind also has a form. The senses also are made up in certain forms, certain shapes. Everything has got a manner of functioning. There is a small example to illustrate the conditioning of knowledge.
Keep a lens before your eye. Let it be convex or concave, but not plain glass. When you look at the object outside through the lens you see a distortion of the objects. You do not see the object properly, because the lens plays a part in your perception. The constitution of the lens is responsible for the perception of a distorted form outside. If it is a plain glass, you will see the object as it is. So there is any kind of a special construction of the instrument through which you see, the nature of the object will be very much influenced by the constitution of the instrument.
The constitution of the mind and the senses very much influences the nature of the object that we experiences outside. One can know another as an existing being only in so far as that existence is a content of one’s mental consciousness. To the extent the mind allows one to have a consciousness of one’s existence, one can know another. More than that he cannot know. The mind has a constitution, a special make-up. What is that constitution? It can know things only in space and time and relate one object to another object in a casual series. We see that one thing is caused by another thing. This is on account of the categories of space, time and causation. These three are the characteristics of the frame-work of our mental perception.
We cannot know anything without presuming that objects exist in space and time. Shut your eyes and think of an object. It is in space. It is in time. It is one among the many objects. It is outside of you. These ideas come even if you shut all the senses. This is the cause of man’s finite perception. The mind is forced to experience things only in a particular way. This particular, specialised constitution of the mind and senses is limiting our perception. We have to polish the lens of this mind and make it clear, a plain glass, so that there may be correct perception of the object outside.
Why should one experience objects only in space and time? If there is a spiritual relation between the subject and the object, why is not one allowed to see it? Because of the intervention of space and time. Time and space are great factors in creating a chasm between one and another. So there is an error in perception. One innermost intelligence and consciousness tells us that there is a unitary principle pervading the world without which perception is impossible, but our sense-perception does not admit it. There is a division for the senses. That division is caused by a peculiar make-up of the mind.
It is by the process of Yoga that one has to transcend these limitations imposed upon one by space and time, and by the forms of the mind itself. The inability of the mind to perceive things as they are is caused by the intervention of space and time in perception. Yoga gives the technique to polish the mind, make it very clean and allow in it a clear reflection, an image of things as they are, objects in their true essence. The real perception of real objects can be had therefore, only when the instrument is perfected. The instrument is the mind, which works with the aid of the senses. Yoga, therefore, is a technique of training this mind, polishing this instrument to perfection.
Patanjali, the author of Raja Yoga, in his second Sutra says, Yogas-chittavritti-nirodhah. Yoga is the process of the inhibition of the functions of the mind-stuff. i.e., frying up of the raw material of the psychological organs. The mind, the intellect, the principle of egoism, the subconscious mind, all these are included in what is called the mind-stuff. And this is to be purified. This purification of the mind-stuff is the first and the last thing that has to be done in the practice of Yoga. This purification is really the cessation of the mind as the mind; it is its destruction.
In the state of Suddha Sattva, which is purity in itself, the mind becomes absolutely transparent, and then there is clear perception of things. Now we have a jaundiced perception of things. We do not see things in their true colour. The true colour of things is spiritual. But now we see their disjoined existence. When the mind-stuff is purified, there will be the perception of unity, for then there is no need for us to take the help of a limited instrument of perception. Then the difference between the seer and the seen will not be hindering knowledge. Division is caused by the intervention of space and time. When the defect is removed, the spatio-temporal relation will not be there at all. Then there will be an immediate communion of the object and the spiritual essence of the subject.
After the cessation of the mind, there is the establishment of the Self in itself. The real Self is the all-pervading being. We have to be established in that spiritual Being which is the ultimate relation among things here. That is the aim of Yoga. And this is the aim not only of the Yoga, which Patanjali described in his Sutras, but the aim of all Yogas. In truth, there is one Yoga, and not many Yogas. The many names which we give to Yoga are with reference to the various temperaments which individuals possess. When we look at Yoga from one point of view it appears to go by the name of Karma Yoga, from another point of view it is Bhakti Yoga, from a third point of view it is Jnana Yoga. The names differ in accordance with the form in which Yoga presents itself before us.
We look at Yoga from our own standpoint, from the standpoint of the make-up of our minds, and our practice of Yoga is based on perception of the constitution of our minds. That means to say, our perception is identical in one sense with the constitution of the mind. So with that instrument alone we look at Yoga. A person who has got an active temperament, takes to the Yoga of Action. It is meditation on the spiritual reality through action. Yoga may also be meditation through love of God, or it may be meditation through will (Raja Yoga), or it may be meditation through wisdom (Jnana Yoga). But all Yogas are processes of meditation, meditation on the ultimate spiritual reality which is everywhere without which we cannot exist, without which we cannot think. Nothing is possible without its existence.
A direct, immediate, non-instrumental experience of that Reality is the goal of Yoga. You can, therefore, practise any Yoga suited to your temperament, and all these will lead to the same goal. You will also find that an advancement along any particular path of Yoga involves a parallel advancement along all other paths also. There is no one-sidedness or lop-sidedness in Yoga. One cannot be a Karma Yogin alone to the exclusion of all other Yogas. Impossible. Yoga is not movement to any partial aspect of being, but to the total being itself. So there should be a transformation or discipline of the total being through Yoga.
One should practise Purna Yoga. All sides of our personality should be disciplined, transmuted and sublimated. We are active, emotional, psychic, end intellectual. All these aspects in us have to be trained properly. Otherwise what will happen? There will be a revolt of that particular side which has been neglected in favour of certain others. If you neglect emotion, it will rebel against intellect. If intellect alone is taken as the predominant aspect, there will be the revolt of emotion against it. There should therefore be complete transformation of our personality through the practice of the Yoga of Synthesis. It is synthesis of the essential elements of all Yogas. It is therefore, a march of the total being of the individual to Godhead, the flight of the alone to the Alone, as Plato put it.
Alone you have to fly to the Alone. Of course, you will have help from the teacher in the beginning, but afterwards, it will be an independent flight to the Eternal. As the great lawgiver, Manu, said, you are born alone. You will go alone. You will take nothing from this world, and, therefore, even when you live here, you are alone. Remember, O man, your social relationships are only temporary. They are only aids in exhausting certain Karmas, nothing but these. This experience of social life which we have in this world is a stage in our development to Eternal Life. It is a particular stage in the evolution of our individual being to Godhead. So you must make an all-round effort, not a one-sided effort. You should not lean to any one particular side. A simultaneous discipline of all the aspects must be there.
In this process of spiritual advancement, you will be greatly helped by the spiritual teacher, who has got a direct knowledge of the nature of the spiritual path. The spiritual path is super-sensible. It cannot be seen without eyes. It cannot be even heard of properly, because it is connected with Spiritual Reality. Even to get training in any particular branch of learning in this world you require a teacher, because you have no experience regarding the subject. More difficult is the spiritual subject, the subject of Yoga. The Yogi attempts to merge his personality in the cosmic, spiritual being, which is existent; everywhere eternally. It is not going to be achieved in the future, because without its existence, even our present existence would be impossible.
The universe has been existing since aeons and it is going to exist for many millions of years, whereas the perception of this world by individuals is varying. This apparently perpetual existence of the universe makes us believe that the spiritual being must be eternal. If it has a beginning and an end, it will be the basis of eternal experience. Brahman must be eternal. Then alone can there be justification for our eternal aspiration for perfection. We have a yearning to be perfect; nobody wishes to be imperfect in any way. There is a longing to become complete in every way, in knowledge, power and experience of happiness. Everybody wants to have the utmost possible knowledge, the greatest power and consequently, the greatest freedom and happiness.
We want to exist for ever. Who wants to die? There is a desire in every one to live for ever, eternally; all have a dread of death. One wants to be the most intelligent being, filled with cosmic consciousness, and wants to be fully free unrestricted by the things of this world. We want unlimited bliss. We have an aspiration for Satchidananda. We want to have an eternal experience of existence-absolute, an eternal experience and absolute knowledge, absolute bliss and absolute power. We want everything complete and infinite. And according to the analysis that we have made, infinite bliss or infinite knowledge would be impossible unless we intimately relate ourselves with the spiritual being, with the Infinite. In other words we must become the Infinite.
To know the Infinite is to become the Infinite, and we cannot know It through the senses. For the moment we look at it through the senses, it would appear like the world. After all what is this world? This world itself is God. God is not somewhere outside the world. But He is not seen, not recognised. He is recognised in a wrong way. We think He is the body, He is the matter, He is space, He is time, He is the gross world. No. This is not correct perception. Human perception does not correspond to Reality. Reality consists in the experience of Chit, knowledge uncontracted. This is the only thing that is eternal, and when it is objectified and looked at through the mind and the senses, it becomes the physical universe.
So, the purpose of Yoga is to withdraw the mind from objective perception and centre it in Chit. It is the resting of the seer in his own Self. Now, in this world the consciousness is in a state of tension. It is moving outside in search of pleasure. It has to be brought back from this fruitless quest and made to rest in itself. Only when it rests in itself there is experience of pleasure. Pleasure is not the result of contact of a person with an object. It is the result of the cessation of desire. As long as a desired object is not possessed, there is unrest, but when the desire is quenched, there is happiness. Happiness has not come from the object. It has come from the extinction of the particular form of the mind which was moving outside in search of peace. Therefore, bliss is in the heart of consciousness. It is everywhere, because without it no
perception is possible.
Thus the process by which we endeavour to unite ourselves with that eternal spiritual being for the sake of experiencing eternal bliss is Yoga. Yoga is the goal as well as the process. It means joining or uniting the individual with the Supreme, or according to another etymological meaning, it means meditation. Yoga is meditation, and also union of the soul with Godhead. When it is taken in the sense of the means, it is meditation, and when it is taken in the sense of the goal, it is absorption in Godhead. And to attain this goal we practise meditation. Yoga can be practised in one’s daily life. It is possible for one to be a Yogi every moment of one’s life, if only one understands the technique of Yoga.
It is possible, as Krishna has said, for one to be a Yogi every moment of one’s life, whatever be the action that he may be doing. Every act can be turned into Yoga (Karma Yoga), every feeling into Yoga (Bhakti Yoga), every volition into Yoga (Raja Yoga) and every thought into Yoga (Jnana Yoga). Whatever you feel, or understand, or will, or do, can be converted into a step in the practice of Yoga.
How? It can be done only by giving it the magical touch of the consciousness of the presence of the Eternal in all things. Karma Yoga is the worship of the Supreme Being in the form of action. It is service done to the Eternal through our limited limbs, organs. Every act that we do volitionally or intellectually, can be converted into Yoga. When the process of ratiocination is made the instrument in the practice of Yoga, it becomes Jnana Yoga, which is a peculiar method of directly coming into contact with the Eternal in its essential nature of Knowledge. And all other Yogas are aids to the realisation of this eternal consciousness itself.
What is our duty in this life? All our duties, the so-called duties, are aids to the fulfillment of the supreme duty of Self-realisation, the realisation of the existence of the Supreme Being in our own self. The existence of that Being in other persons cannot be realised unless it becomes a part and parcel of experiencing consciousness. If you objectify that Eternal Being, you see it in the frame-work of external beings. Then it becomes a physical body. So, one should have an experience of the Eternal in oneself in order that its spiritual realisation can be possible. And that experience in our Self becomes vast like the ocean, an infinite expanse of consciousness. It overflows with the knowledge of the Supreme. In other words there is no difference between one’s essential nature and the essential nature of the Divine Being.
With this meditation you have to act in this world. There should be no despondency at any moment in your life. This is an important thing which every aspirant should remember. No grief should be felt at any time, because the moment you are disturbed, upset or grieved, you must understand that you have not properly grasped the technique of Yoga. For, if you have properly understood the technique of Yoga, you will know how to transform every situation into Yoga. Ignorance is the cause of pain. We cannot be in a state of pain or sorrow if we have a proper conception of Yoga. Yoga is not confined to a group of people in the world. Yoga is the art of life, the science of life. Who does not want life? Everybody wants to live and know the art of living correctly, wisely, at its highest and the best. That is called Yoga.
Everybody can be a Yogi at some stage of life. Yoga is not confined to monks and Bhikshus alone, living in caves. It is the art of living an intelligent, perfect life. Anyone who is a Yogi lives a happy and perfect life, and a person who is not at all in any stage of Yoga is a miserable being. He suffers in this world. By ‘Yoga’ I do not mean here the ultimate Realisation, but the process of attainment. It is any step taken towards the realisation of that end. Of course, to the best of your ability you must act. You must not be slack in your meditation. All your knowledge and power you must put in a state of equilibrium. There should be equilibrium and dexterity, both together. Yogah karmasu kausalam. Yoga is equilibrium of mind. Yoga is skill or dexterity in action.
must be adept in action. What is the meaning of being an adept? You must fulfil your duty, be active in such a way that you are not disturbed by any thing in this world and you are ever in tune with the Absolute. That is dexterity in action. This dexterity is the consequence of an equilibrated mind. Samatvam Yoga Uchyate. So the two practices should go together—internal tranquillity of mind and external ability to transform every action into Yoga. Only he who has understood this technique can he a real aspirant. He alone can tread the path to the Spirit, without undergoing any difficulty and there will be no difficulty if there is direct guidance from the Guru.
The ancient teachers have stressed that a spiritual aspirant should undergo training for at least twelve years under a spiritual teacher. Only then can there be real progress, because the correct technique of Yoga can be taught only by the Guru. After understanding, one should practise Sravana, Manana and Nididhyasana. There is first hearing the nature of Truth from the Guru and then contemplation and meditation. This meditation should go on every moment of our life. Meditation should not be confined only to a particular part of the day. It is not enough if one carries on meditation for a part of the day, and then absolutely forgets it at other times. Else, there will be a fall. Here comes the importance of Karma Yoga.
You should not make a sharp distinction between meditation and Karma Yoga. Otherwise, you will find it very difficult to act in the world. But if you transform every action by the power of meditation, then you will find there will be no difficulty in living in the world a peaceful and happy life. Life will be a happy process of spiritual progress if the power of meditation gives strength to the action that you do. Action is an external expression, an outward manifestation of an internal aspiration or realisation. I have used the two words: aspiration and realisation. Karma Yoga is the external expression of an aspiration or a realisation. In the case of Siddha Purushas it is the manifestation of an internal realisation, but in the Sadhakas it is the manifestation of an internal aspiration.
In the case of the Siddhas there is no question of self-transformation or self-purification. Every action that they do is cosmic process. It is not individual action done through the limbs. It is a universal movement, which is an end in itself. The Karma Yoga of the Sadhaka is a means to such a state of cosmic realisation. The aim of the Sadhaka is, therefore, to become a cosmic being, to be a Purushottama, the Lord of the Universe, pervading the whole universe. This is the goal of all processes of Yoga. I want to stress the point that Yoga is not something queer; extraordinary or other-worldly. It is the most useful, most necessary thing, because it is the art of the perfect life. Remember this. It is the art of living wisely and it is the technique of the realisation of the supreme bliss and beatitude.
This is the goal of life. This you have to remember at all times of your life, and you should try your best to put this into practice every day, every moment, as long as you are conscious living beings. Supterutthaya suptyantam Brahmaikam pravichintyatam. A great sage has said: “Remember God alone, the Supreme Being alone, throughout the day.” Do not forget this. The moment you get up from the bed in the morning you must start thinking of God, and this thinking must be there till you are overpowered by sleep. Every action that you do should be charged with your remembrance of God. This is the technique of Yoga. This should be learned under a spiritual teacher and then one must enter into deep meditation for the sake of the supreme Realisation.
Life on earth is a gradual process of unfolding of the Divine Consciousness which man essentially is. It is to set one’s own individuality in tune with the working of the Eternal Nature, to harmonise oneself with the Plenitude of Being. The earth is the arena where we expand the finite into the infinite. The purpose of life here is to live the existence of the Absolute Brahman! A life dedicated to this supreme End is the one of an earnest Seeker through Vedanta.
In the misery of the transient world the ignorant man dies every moment of his life. He is whirled round in the storm of life’s turmoil; he is tormented by the imaginary substanceless appearances of the universe. Tons of the loads of life seem to be pressed upon his weak shoulders and he sits forlorn crying. He is gripped by fear, desires, worries and anxieties. Everything flows; today it is and the next moment it is not. Man has mistaken the love of life for the eternal joy of existence. The sorrow of phenomenal life is rooted in the clinging to relational living fed by the misbelief in separative independence and multiple permanence of beings. The joy of immensity of eternal life is partaken of by cutting the root of the tree of life with the axe of wisdom acquired through spiritual renunciation and meditation.
Meditation is the crowning edifice of spiritual practices. That is to be started the moment you start studying this book. Lay the foundation now and build the walls with assiduity of will. Equip yourself with the Sadhana-Chatushtaya. Put on the armour of ethical discipline and moral excellence. Load the gun of the intellect with the explosive of wisdom and shoot the dark demon of ignorance which is the cause of untold suffering.
Life in the Highest Divinity implies the transcending of the conditions that are inconsistent with Its natural and essential characteristic. The Divine Attainment is the realisation of the integrity of Life as a whole and, hence, life as an earthbound individual which is based on devotion to negativity and falsehood cannot go hand in hand with the plenitude of the Real. A thorough-going abandonment of the clinging to multiple realities has to be cast off before the region of Truth is stepped into. This abandonment consists in the renunciation of thoughts, destruction of the ego, annulment of the lower self, annihilation of the sense of separateness, emptying and cleansing the heart of its passions and desires in order to exist as the Transcendent-Divinity! When thought is renounced, one exists as Awareness-Supreme; when the ego is destroyed, the Realisation of the Truth takes place; when the lower self is annulled, one exists as the Immortal Self when this sense of separateness is annihilated, one beholds the Essence of Existence, the One Reality everywhere; when the heart is emptied and cleansed, one is filled with the Pure Delight of the Bhuma-Experience.
Amritasya Putrah! For your own Eternal Good, live this life of the true seeker of the Final Beatitude, the joyous living of Eternal Felicity! Come, come! O Bold ones! Delay is perennial perdition. Tomorrow will never come. Hurry up, soon! Tarry not! Practise this. You will get installed in the empire of the Spirit. The Truth shall dawn. Knowledge shall follow. The Sun of Joy shall rise. Bliss-rays shall be radiated. You become That. The intelligence gets fixed on the spotless Light of Truth, when nothing remains save the simple Truth in all its nakedness and pristine purity, when the mind majestically walks into the stainless supreme fathomless depth of silence untouched by the ceaseless din and bustle of the phenomenal world. Objective consciousness gets melted in the menstruum of Eternal Peace. The passionate love for life is dissolved in the Immortal. The tenacious clinging to the egoistic self is merged in the dazzling luminous waters of the everlasting ocean of Existence. The Divine Being, the Vast Expanse is revealed, the ultimate extreme of the Reality, beyond the beyonds, the one Supreme Goal of life is reached and realised. The thinker hails as the Thought. The individual self is annulled and all is forgotten in the majesty of the Great All. Brahmasamstho Amritatvameti—one established in Brahman attains Immortality. This is the Essence of Vedanta.