Beyond Time and Space
SRI SWAMI VENKATESANANDA
The holy man, wishing to be a king, became a king when the body was discarded. The germ of an idea “I wish I were a king” formed the seed which began to sprout. Then, by repeatedly entertaining the same idea, it assumed the strength and stature of reality. Why shouldn’t we do it now and say, for instance, “I am Buddha”? All right, you have planted the seed; that is one seed. From now on it has got to germinate, so be careful that you don’t disturb it. If you ask any medical scientist or gynaecologist he will tell you that once the first cell splits and starts multiplying the attention–or whatever it is that builds this foetus–is undeflected. All the nine months that which was building the foetus was at it twenty-four hours a day. It didn’t have a coffee break or take time off to go to the movies. Even so, can you sit down here and say: “I am the Buddha”? If you know how to plant the seed at the right spot, it must begin to germinate. From now until you are delivered as the Buddha you should be Buddha twenty-four hours of the day. Then I am sure you will become Buddha!
This is what we don’t really concede–we think that what we think is thought, but it is not so. The mind is not what we think it is, the mind is what thinks–so the disgusting, shameful truth is that we don’t even know how to think, otherwise our thoughts would materialise.
One can see this happening, but unfortunately even in our own life we don’t have persistence or concentrated attention. We do something and it does not seem to work, so we try something else for three months and that does not work either. This way you will do nothing at all. (If we had voluntary control over forming the foetus, the result would be most haphazard!) That germ of a thought must keep on and on until it becomes what it is.
How was the first man made? The Yoga Vasistha provides a nonsensical answer–the only answer that is possible: “It just happened to be so, accidentally.” Why did I become I? It just happened to be so. In this chaotic churning of matter, consciousness entered, and here a thought arose ‘I am a human being’ and there a thought arose ‘I am a cow’. Here a thought arose ‘I am a building’ and there a thought arose ‘I am water’. That is all. Don’t ask why: it was accidental coincidence. So the first creation (if one could visualise a thing called first creation) just happened.
That holy man on top of the hill, if he was the first creation, just happened. The infinite consciousness at that point of physical space thought ‘I am a holy man sitting on top of the hill’, so he became a holy man sitting on top Of the hill. Later, when he was attracted by the sight of the king and his regalia, this thought ‘I wish I were a king’ began to germinate within him and when the body dropped he became the king. By persistently holding on to that thought he experienced it as reality. (This is an extraordinary, beautiful and simple truth.)
There are two ways of phrasing a statement. One way it is difficult to grasp, the other way it is easy. I’ll give it to you both ways. One is: “As you think so you become”. If you persistently think you are a man, you become a human being. But there is a sneaking suspicion or doubt: “Can I become something else by thinking otherwise?” So leave that phraseology alone. The other is “When you are a human being, you persistently think you are a human being.” Watch carefully now. I am saying the same thing in different words. Is it possible for you to think you are a dog? No, and therefore you don’t become a dog. Where does this thought or germ ‘I am a human being’ arise and persist? It is perhaps as difficult to discover this as it is to discover at the age of fifty-nine (with several hundred billion cells in the body) which was the original cell that was fertilised fifty-nine years, eight and a half months ago. One of these several billion cells is that one. If you can find that, twist it and make it feel: “No, I am not a human being, I am a cow”, instantly you will become a cow!
So let us not use these phrases such as “As you think, so you become” as if they are commonplace. You sit and think “I am Buddha. But what about my coffee break?” It does not work that way. But it does work another way. In the case of an enlightened person a thought immediately materialises, but most people must work hard at it. You must keep at it, with unwinking vigilance, without letting it go out of focus even for a moment. Then it will happen.
When the queen asked to visit the holy man’s abode, the goddess said: “Yes, of course, but it is on a different dimension. In order to visit that hermitage you will have to raise your consciousness to that dimension. Then you can go, not otherwise. The holy man entertained the wish ‘I would like to become king’, and became your husband the king, not the other way around. So it is, as it were, that the holy man went to sleep and dreamt a dream in which he saw himself as a king, so that you and your husband are the dream creations or the dream creatures of this sleeping holy man. You cannot enter into his consciousness–you are the product of his consciousness.”
To put it more simply: if I am looking at the ceiling and day-dreaming about you, you cannot enter into my day-dream, into my imagination. You are there, but still it is impossible for you to get into that dream.
It is so simple and yet it is so intriguing. When you try to express it or clarify your own ideas you nearly go out of your mind, because we are functioning within the framework of the ego-sense. I am firmly committed to the idea that I am Swami Venkatesananda and you are firmly committed to the idea that you are you. We are firmly committed to the idea that we are both completely separate human beings, so that my dream is my dream and your dream is your dream. Even though I may find a part in your dream and you may find a part in my dream, we are still separate, and neither of us can enter into the other’s dream. In effect, I am saying that I am your guest but I have no place in your house. Why is it so? Because we are convinced that we are totally independent beings, unrelated to each other–and this barrier cannot be broken.
This barrier cannot be broken because it is not there! This is what the oriental philosopher calls avidya (ignorance) or maya (illusion). It is not as though ‘this’ is an illusion. It is not there, and yet I am thoroughly convinced it is there and therefore I cannot get rid of it. The difficulty is that the more I struggle to get rid of it, the firmer it becomes established. Therefore we return to a very beautiful expression found both in the Yoga Vasistha and the Bhagavad Gita: “Only grace can help you, nothing else can.” The more you struggle, the worse the problem becomes, and yet grace compels you to struggle. It is a strange phenomenon. You struggle and struggle, and if you don’t struggle then it means you have not experienced grace. Grace makes you restless, and restlessly struggling against this non-existent obstacle, you despair. You realise that struggle does not get you anywhere and you realise that you cannot help struggling. It is a whole mess. Then suddenly grace reveals, “This is what it is!”
The goddess and the queen went to the holy man’s abode. Everyone there was miserable. The queen (who changed her appearance) asked the son of the holy man: “What happened?” And he said: “Our parents passed away eight days ego and we are inconsolable.” The queen blessed the young man and he got over his grief. She was intrigued: “Eight days ago? This goddess said that the holy man became my husband, the king, and we lived as king and queen for seventy years, yet I was this boy’s mother. What do you mean eight days ago?” Saraswati smiled and said: “What is time?”
There are innumerable theories of time and a number of them are mentioned in the Yoga Vasistha. But let us look at it from the same point of view that we have adopted so far, i.e., the ‘me’ or ego-sense being memory. If we examine this thing called memory we realise something fantastic.
Time in relation to memory is a much deeper enigma than the relativity theory or fourth dimension. If you observe the relation between memory and time you are puzzled. Time has its own tricks–or, the mind has its own tricks when it deals with time. An unpleasant incident which you want to forget seems to have happened a long time ago, and something which you cherish might have happened ten or fifteen years ago, but it seems as though it happened yesterday.
What is time? Did it happen? When? How? Except the manner in which the mind regards it–as a sort of sequential series of events–what applies to space applies to time also. The brain or the mind has been trained to look upon this as a series–one, two, three–and computes time on the basis of this. (So time is a convenient measure for paying wages, and that is all!)
That holy man sitting on top of the hill entertained the thought, ‘I am a king’ and he became the king, and as he functioned as a king he became more and more addicted to the idea that he was a king. (It occurs to all of us. We may not be kings and queens, but we are addicted to the idea that we are human being–New Zealanders or Indians, etc.)
The queen wanted to know: “Where is the king now?” Saraswati said: “I’ll show you. He is in the same room. All this happened in the same room. The holy man lived in the same room, your husband lived in the same room. He is dead and now he is still ruling the kingdom in the same room.”
Space or distance has no sense at all apart from what you think it is. So if you can enter into this imagination or dream called ‘you’ and the other imagination or dream called ‘me’ and find the core of this dream, there you might discover that the stuff is the same. The dream entity is different, but the stuff of the dream is the same, and therefore the entity is the same.