From the Universal to the Universal
Sri Swami Chidananda
This article is a chapter from the book Seek The Beyond.
The other day, when I was returning from my tour, I decided to get down at Dehra Dun instead of Hardwar. In the same compartment of the train were a Kashmiri lady and an army brigadier. They were talking about there being no provision in the India of today for the training of the youth–who are the wealth of the nation. I joined in the conversation and pointed out a number of organisations that were showing a real concern for the upcoming generation.
Finally, as we were getting close to Dehra Dun, the lady said to me, “Swamiji, you seem to know so much. Please give me some of your jnana, something that I can carry with me for my life.” I said, “Look here, I have been giving it, and that should be enough. Nevertheless, as an individual aspirant approaching me, it is my duty to give you some jnana. Therefore let me say something.”
I went on, “The first jnana I want to give you is: This life is only a journey. You have come here; you don’t belong here. You are on a journey, and at the end of the journey you will have to leave and go. So nothing is really yours here. Nor do you belong here. First truth.
“The second truth is that when a person is on a journey, they usually have a destination to reach. What destination have you set for yourself? Is it what you were discussing with the brigadier? Is that your destination? Is that your reach? Think of it! Your destination cannot be anything here for the simple reason that you do not belong here. If you reach any destination here, it will be here and you will go elsewhere. So you can reap no permanent benefit from whatever secular, temporal, worldly, earthly goal that you set for yourself–no matter how great it may be.
It may even be something as comprehensive as banning the use of nuclear weapons, something upon which the fate of all humanity on planet Earth hangs. It may be something as big as the United Nations or the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund. All these things are trivial, for the simple reason that none of them can be your real goal; because no matter what you achieve here you will go empty-handed. You came empty-handed, you’ll go empty-handed. Therefore, think!
“Third truth: All these important things that you have been discussing–that there is no proper provision in India today for the youth and that you must do something about it–is based on the egoistical feeling that there is a you and that you can do something.
“Look here, this world has been going on for hundreds and thousands of years before you and the brigadier and all people came. You come now and you will disappear like little insects coming in the rainy season having a 24-hour lifespan. Empires have come and gone. You have come and you will go. This drama of life will go on, the world will go on–another 1000 years, 2000 years, 10,000 years.
“You are nothing. There is some higher power that has been looking after this world for eons. Scientists say that the first sign of life came on planet Earth so many millions of years ago. What is your calendar of 365 days before millions of years? So don’t worry about it. There is some higher power who is quite capable of looking after this world that you are so concerned about. He doesn’t require Kashmiri ladies like you. You better take care of yourself, so that during this precious little human life between an entry point and an exit point that you do something to improve yourself, bring out all the latent potential within yourself.
“And before you leave, try to do maximum benefit to God’s creation–into which He has put you. That is the only thing that makes life worth living. Life’s importance is not assessed in terms of how much you have amassed, what titles you have, how many audiences you have addressed or how many books you have written. All that is vain fancy. The value of life is in having come here, before you go how many people have been happier, how many have been benefited, how useful have you been to God’s creation. Not only human beings, the whole world.”
I continued, “How many tears have you wiped from crying children, orphans, widows, helpless people, from poor, suffering people in the remotest villages where there is no drinking water, no sanitation, no education–they are disease bound? Try to do something. Go there and give them a proper road; they are cut off during the monsoon season. Go not to the posh cities, but help suffering humanity in the rural areas. Bring sanitation, hygiene, medical aid. Give eye camps for those who are blinded with cataracts. Then you have done something.
“Our culture, our country has as its highest ideal in life paropakara, benefiting others, being useful to others, doing something that is good for others, not only for yourself. Paropakara is the highest ideal. They went so far as to say that this body has been given only for this purpose. So bring about a change in the orientation of your vision.
“So this I am telling you personally. What then is the goal? Your goal is to go back from where you came. There is a great Universal Soul. You are not this body, this cage of flesh and bones. You are not the five karma indriyas or the five jnana indriyas. You are not this mind, emotion, sentiment, imagination and various moods such as anger, passion, greed, envy, jealousy. You are not even this little “I” that you are identifying yourself with when you look in a mirror. All these are not you. You are a centre of radiant consciousness, shining consciousness–eternal, imperishable, unborn, beyond time, beyond space, infinite. Read the second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita every day!”
That is how we took leave. I did not speak to her as an individual addressing an individual. I spoke as the Universal addressing the Universal in that lady. And I said that you belong to that dimension. This is a golden chance to lift yourself up from this confined consciousness to your real dimension of infinite consciousness, universal consciousness. That is why we are here.
She asked for blessings. I said, “May the Universal Consciousness grace and fulfil whatever is there in your heart, whatever you are aspiring for, whatever you are ardently longing and wishing for. May it be fulfilled!”