This entire book (An Introduction to the Philosophy of Yoga) is now online at: http://swami-krishnananda.org/intro_00.html
The outlook of one’s life depends upon one’s conception of reality. The structure of the universe decides our relationship with things. What is known as a vision of life is just the attitude which the individual is constrained to develop in regard to the atmosphere of the universe. Such an exalted conception of the totality of experience may be designated as the philosophy of life. It is, thus, philosophy which determines human conduct and enterprises of every kind in the social field as well as in one’s own person. Not merely this; the psychological pattern of the apparatus of perception and inference and the like is also conditioned by the relationship that obtains between the universe and the individual. As such, it can be safely said that psychology and ethics are rooted in metaphysics.
It is often said that the programme of human life may be carried on with an amount of success without straining one’s consciousness to the distant depths of the structure of the universe. People mostly prefer to live on the surface and move with the current of the river, with the least effort involved in the vocations of their personal and social existence. But, it is not difficult to notice that a sort of merely getting on with life through the vicissitudes of history is not only soul-less in its effect, by which the spirit of existence gets converted into a lifeless skeleton, but life, in the end, whether psychological, social or physical, would be impracticable if action is not fixed upon its proper relation with the environment of the entire pattern of life. Even as the working arrangement and the day-to-day performance of administration is based on Governmental Constitution along the lines of which contemplated programmes are carried on smoothly, life’s enterprise would not be a possibility if the same is not rooted in a standard picture of the whole pattern of existence which directs and determines the nature as well as the details of activity. Hence it is necessary to bestow a further thought on the facile formula of the commonplace of mankind that one can go on with the winds of the world blow, because, without a stable ideology and a lofty idealism, no movement is conceivable. If this is the aim behind all enterprises and programmes, no worth-the-while action of any kind would be possible without it even in contemplation.
It is not the activities of life are to be psychological meditations in an academic sense, or in the way in which people wrongly try to understand philosophy. Often, the erroneous notion goes that philosophy is an abstract thought-process which idealises life into an ethereal and, perhaps, an unknown something, while life is concrete and substantial. It is surprising that the world of matter should be taken as a solid substance while the ideas are regarded as airy nothings, even in the light of the astounding discoveries of modern researches in the field of science, which have swept off matter from the region of solidity, and matter appears to be evaporating into an undivided continuum of what is sometimes called a space-time extension, transcending the notions of a three-dimensional distance and a time-process divided into the partiteness of past, present and future. There is something more about this interesting discovery. If the continuum mentioned is indivisible by the very nature of its impartite and non- durational structure, naturally, it would follow that the individual observer of things cannot stand outside the continuum. The consequences of this deduction are, again, startling, while being obvious, again. The observing individual merges, as it were, into the vast indivisibility of the continuum, and the events of the universe knowing itself and the individual knowing himself, as well as the individual knowing the universe, cannot be separated from one another. It would appear that the universe, in this analysis, is itself a measureless conflagration of intelligence, knowing itself, and nothing outside it be noticed as an object of sensory perception of psychological cognition. We find ourselves entering into the bottom of an ocean of force and existence which is inseparable from intelligence, and to know the universe would be the same as to know one’s own Self. In the act of Self-knowledge, the universe is known at once, and the knowledge of the universe, on the other hand, is the knowledge of the Self.
In this circumstance of a new vision that we seem to be confronting before us, our personal and social life should be, indeed, a mirror-like clarity, which would include the type of relationship that we should adopt with other people, in our day-to-day existence. What we call the ethics or morality of human relationship as well as of personal behaviour amounts, from the above analysis, to a conscious participation in the pattern of things in general, which is only the face of the brooding Spirit of the Cosmos as a whole. Love becomes spontaneously unselfish. Love, then, cannot be directed exclusively to any person, or thing or an isolated ideal, but becomes a spring of joy arising from the recognition of the fullness of existence. Hatred of any kind gets abolished from the surface of life by the very fact of the unity of procedure and purpose involved in the structure and programme of creation. Human history can transfigure itself into a saga of the dramatic evolution of the particulars to the Universal through the various levels and degrees of its manifestation. What people have been dreaming of as the glorified ideal of Rama-Rajya or the Golden Age of Satya-Yuga, of the divine and eternal perfection, would not, indeed, be a far-off object to be realised. It was a perennial message which Plato proclaimed with the conviction of a genius when he declared that no peace of earth can ever prevail unless philosophy goes with administration and administration with philosophy. We have a glorious day ahead. Humanity! Be prepared to extend it a warm welcome.
We are all here for the fulfilment of a purpose. It may not be that everyone will be entertaining a uniform idea of what this purpose is. You must have attended schools. You must have passed through various stages of education. You are educated persons, and learned in many respects. You have studied well. You have lived in the world. Now you have come to another place to study something else. So, most of us are likely to have the idea that we are going to pursue another ‘course of studies’, just as we had already studied something else before. “If today I study physics here, I will study chemistry somewhere else, and for biology I go to a third place.” This idea can be in the minds of many of us, that we are here to study some subject with which we are not acquainted upto this time; it may be Yoga, a very well-known term these days. It may be Vedanta, it may be religion, it may be spirituality, it may be the art of God-living, and what not. Thus, it becomes a kind of subject among the many which are useful to people in one way or other.
At the very outset, it becomes necessary that we have to decondition our minds before we attempt anything positive and worth the while. We are not going to study any subject in the ordinary sense of the term. We do not study philosophy here, for, that one can study anywhere else, in a college or university. You have professors and learned men. That would not be a difficulty. But here we are not to get acquainted with a branch of learning, if that is your definition of education. This is something quite different, a kind by itself, of which an idea occurred to many stalwarts of yore, both in the East and the West. The latest example of this category, at least to my mind, was Swami Sivananda, the Founder of this Institution (The Divine Life Society).
One cannot say that they were not educated persons, but their education was different from the type into which people get initiated usually as learned persons, lecturers, professors, etc. We have to reorient our way of thinking, with some effort, in order to fathom the intentions of these Masters. It requires an effort because we are born into a world of certain prejudices which die very hard. The purpose of these sessions that we are contemplating to hold here is to get over these preconceived ruts of thinking, the purpose is to bring a right-about turn in the very art of thinking. More properly, we may say we are attempting to learn a way of thinking which is a little different from the usual way of the world. The normal way of thinking is well-known. “I belong to America, I belong to India, I am a man, I am a woman, I am a businessman, I am a teacher, I am rich, I am poor, I am happy, I am unhappy, this is good that is bad.” These are well-known ways of outlook in anyone’s life.
This, then, is the atmosphere in which we are living in the world, and we work hard everyday, whatever be the work we do, in the various fields of life. To adjust ourselves to these so-called chaotic presentations before us, we call life. All your day is spent in adjusting yourself with the conditions of the world. If it is cold, you put on your coat. If it is hot, you throw off your bunion. If you are hungry, you eat some food. If you are tired, you lie down. If you are angry you show your teeth. Well, so many things occasion different conditions in our minds,-the psychological circumstances-and we have to adapt ourselves to these sources of the influx of environmental conditions. All effort is only this much;-somehow to adapt ourselves to the world-conditions, whether they are geographical, political social, or family circumstances. We work very hard. Everyone of you is working hard. But what for? In what direction? What is the purpose? We are impelled by a peculiar urge from within us, to work. Otherwise, there is a sub-conscious threat felt from within towards the very extinction of our existence. We may die if we do not work. Our existence can be abolished by the powerful conditions of life outside.
The adaptations that we make with life outside vary from person to person. That is why what I do may not be what you do every day, and what you do may not be what another does. It does not mean that everyone is doing the same thing, in the same manner, everywhere in the world, in spite of the fact that everyone does something. Now, the necessity to do something is common to every person. Everybody feels a necessity to ‘do’, whether it is in a factory or a chapel or a temple or a shop. Everybody does something. The variety in doing arises on account of there being a variety in the condition of one’s own psychological being. Your actions depend on your mental structure. So activities have connection with psychology. Everyone is active but in different ways. The necessity to be active can be explained only by the impulsion from one’s psychological structure if you study your mind, you can know something about the need that you feel in regard to work in the world.
Why should you do any work? You know it very well. Each one knows the answer. The world is a hard job before us, and we have perforce to go hand-in-hand with the laws of the world. We cannot regard it as a stranger, as an outsider, as something not connected with us. Our sorrows are our maladjustments with the world, with life, with everything. The rectification of the maladjustment is attempted by work, activity, enterprise, project, planning, etc. All these plannings and projects, of every kind, in life are methods of personal adjustment with the requirements of outward life. I mention to you a few of these interesting factors which have to be considered before we endeavour to find out what is that we are supposed to do finally, why we are breathing and eating; and getting on, somehow, in the world. What is the purpose behind it all?
There is something which keeps us restless and anxious, whatever be the things we do. The practice of our vocations in life has a psychology behind it. That is why there is variety in the circumstances of life, there is this picturesque world before us of colours and sounds and movements evincing different kind of emotions and reactions from each different persons. Life is activity. It is work. The moment you think of living in the world, you think of ‘doing’ something. And this doing, again, as I mentioned, has vital relationship with the needs of your inner personality, the mind, if you want to call it that way. We shall try to think of what this mind is, in a little detail, after some time. For the time being, we may be satisfied with this thing called mind, with which we are almost familiar, which is the thing that limits and streamlines our activities. Activities have a psychology behind them. Every practice of any kind has a mental condition preceding.
The question may pose itself: why should the mind think in the way it thinks, and drive us in a given direction towards the performance of some work, towards engagement of ourselves in some activity? The ‘how’ of the activity of mind is called psychology. How does it work? What are the various branches of the movement of the Psyche? The study of the details of the mind is psychology. A very vast subject it is,-the study of the mind. Unless this is known, you cannot be fully conversant with the techniques of activity in the world, and you would be doing things without sufficient success. Activities will then be like pursuing the will-o’-the wisp; a wild-goose chase, a going through blind alleys, with no idea as to what will happen in the future, unless there is a correct knowledge of the background of these activities, which is human psychology. Unless you know your mind, you cannot know the nature of the works that you have to do, and the purpose towards which the works are directed.
But, why does the mind work in this manner? Why should I think in the way I am thinking just now? Why do you think in the way you are thinking? What is this devil working inside us, separating one from the other and demanding that one should think in this way and another should think in another way? Why should it be like that? Why should you think in that way and I should think in this manner? Why not we think together in the same way? What is the difficulty? This “why” raises a problem which goes beyond the field known as psychology.
Normally, this field is called philosophy. The ‘why’ of a thing is studied in Philosophy. The ‘how’ of a thing is studied in psychology, and the ‘what’ is the actual daily routine of activity. In our approach to anything, even the smallest item, even the most insignificant so-called addendum to our life, we have to be scientific in our approach. And what is the meaning of being scientific? Taking the first thing as the first thing and the second thing as the second thing and not mixing up one with the other. You should not start with the second thing while the first thing has been ignored. To be able to conceive the consecutive series of any kind of movement is to be scientific.
But if you are oblivious of the series and miss a link in the chain of the development of thought and activity, then, you would not be scientific. And it is practically the same thing as to be logical; to be logical is also to be scientific, though there is a little difference in the significance of these terminologies with which we need not concern ourselves at present. To be systematic, to be patient, to be observant, to be accessible to rectification, to be tending towards more and more generalised forms of ideas, to attempt at an exceeding of the limitations of body, community, individuality, etc.-these are certain characteristics of a scientific attitude, the logical approach to things. Philosophy is the study of life with reference to ‘ultimate causes’, and not merely the ‘immediate antecedents’.
We are here to bestow some serious thought on the essentials of what we may generally call life, which condition the outward varieties with which we are connected. The outward details are expressions of inward essentials. The type of food that I eat depends upon the kind of hunger that I have, and the way in which the physiological organs operate, and the liver, the pancreas, the intestines, etc., work. So is the case with every kind of inward tendency, mental or psychological. A serious contemplative attitude is to be bestowed upon the factors which go to constitute the structure of the whole of our life, which includes the geographical aspect, the astronomical aspect, the political aspect, the social aspect, the personal aspect, etc. You will find that you are connected to various factors even when you are sitting here near your desk. You are seated here with a little desk in front of you. But you are many things just now. You are an American, a British, a male, a professor, a hungry man, you have an anxiety about your future, you have a desire to achieve something, and many such unimaginable things are conditioning you. It does not mean that you are always thinking ‘I am a German, an Indian, an American’ etc., but the idea is not noted out from the mind. It is there at the background.
How can you forget that you are woman or a man or that you are coming from such and such a country; that you are a national of such-and-such a place? You may not be brooding over this always, but it is there at the back of every kind of thought that is generated by your mind and every approach or outlook which may be there in your mind in regard to life. So, what is it that you are after? Not study of philosophy, psychology or economics in the traditional sense of the term. You are trying to go into the deepest roots of the various branches of study you call economics or psychology or philosophy, or whatever it is, all which are the outward expressions of an inward need.
The whole effort of ours seems, somehow, to be released of the shackles which restrain us like prisoners, within the four walls. You know what these shackles are. Each one of you knows what your bondage is. They are the bonds which do not allow you freedom unless you have an adequate knowledge of the way in which you have got into this bondage. You have problems of visa and passport and economics conditions and family relationships and bodily limitations. All these are shackles. You cannot be free like that so easily. But who has put us into this situation of suffering and is keeping us ever restless and unconscious of a future? We are worried about the past, restless about the present and anxious about the future. Thus, it becomes obvious that we are not merely students of some branch of learning, enabling us to earn our bread. Rather we are after something which will keep us sober in our minds, give us peace, if you would like to call it so, under every circumstance. What we lack is not so much bread as peace of mind.
It does not mean that a person who has plenty to eat is a person with sobriety or peace of spirit; nor is it true that a person who is physically starving has no peace of mind. What we are after is quite different from what people generally think they are after in the work-a-day world;. We also belong to the work-a-day world; it is true. We are not out of the world. We are on the earth, but being on the earth, being in the world, we are after a serious search for something which is not merely bread and a building and a comfortable, social and physical life. These are accessories to something else which we are truly seeking. Many of you may not be in a starving condition. You are not beggars. You may have an adequately satisfactory arrangement for your daily meal. You have a proper place to sleep at night. You have clothing. I do not think we have so much difficulty about these matters, which are the physical realities of life. But what is it that you do not have? And that is important.
There is something which speaks within us in a language of anxiety. Something is not all right, though you have everything in the physical or social sense. You are respectable people in society. You have a financial status of your own; everything is well, so far as it goes, but you are not happy, really speaking, for a reason which you have not yet found time to go deep into.
We are so busy with enormous flood of the atmospheric conditions outside that we have been prevented from even finding time to think, let alone the capacity to think. Whether we have a capacity to think correctly or not is a different subject. Have you time to think? That also is not there. Very busy indeed, is everyone. And there is therefore the need to learn also the art of finding time to think in the proper way, because your life is nothing but a mental life and if the mental life is ignored, your physical and social life is not going to make you free. You know very well how important your mind is. There is no need to go on speaking about the nature of the mind and the importance of its working.
With all the comforts and the glories of physical life, if the mind is not in peace of what avail is this glory of the earth? You may be a king or queen. Well, wonderful, but the mind is not working. What do you say to this? And you know what it means. There cannot be greater hell than that. Well, then, the mind is working, but in the wrong direction. That, too, is very unfortunate. What you seek is, therefore, something which is the pre- condition of your physical needs and social relationships. Hence, the subject that we shall take up in these sessions, with which I am personally supposed to be concerned now, would be a series of approaches towards the causes of the effects which our inner and outer life are.
Our life, whether it is inward or outer, consists of a series. It is not a solid substance. Our existence is not like a hard stone which is immovable and motionless. It is a flux, a series of tendencies, movements, enterprises, etc., which get practically bifurcated into the inward and outward phases. Life in itself is neither inward nor outward. It is everywhere. But for convenience’s sake we make this distinction of being inside and outside, just as we say we are inside in the room. But this ‘inside’ idea arises on account if the wall around. If the wall were not to be there, we would not say that we are inside. We are just on the surface of the earth. But because there is a consciousness of wall on the four sides, there is also a consciousness of inside and conversely a consciousness of an outside. There is really no such thing as inner life and outer life, just as there is no inside or outside really, unless there is a wall which separates the inside from the outside. But we always speak of an inner life and an outer life as if they are really there. This bifurcation or gulf, so-called, between our inner life and outer life, is due to a wall that seems to be there between what we call the inner and the outer. This wall has also to be seen, as to what it is.
Here we have walls made of bricks. But, what is this wall which makes us feel that we have an inner life as distinguished from an outer life? Everything has to be clear before we start doing anything. Yes; we have to see that everything is clear, and there are no doubts and obsessions in the mind. I began by saying that you should decondition yourself first and abandon all conditioned habits. Do not say, ‘I have read the Upanishads already’. Well, you forget the Upanishads for the time being, forget the Gita, forget the Bible, forget your nationality, forget that you are anything whatsoever. But remember that you are a spirit that is seeking solutions to certain serious problems which are universally harassing the minds of everyone. The basic problems are the same everywhere, though the outward expressions of the same are different.
The daily difficulties that we confront in our life are not the same. But the basic root-cause will be found finally to be one and the same thing. We think as human beings. That is the essential way of thinking. But, outwardly, one may think as a man, and another may think as a woman; one thinks as a professor, another thinks as a rustic in the field, etc. These are outward forms of outlook. But there is what is called a common denominator of normal thinking, which is the ‘human way of thinking’. We do not think as a dog or a cat, and we do not move like a tree towards the sun. We do not think as the non-human species. We think as human beings only, and we cannot think in any other manner. This is a great limitation on us, again, in the way we think.
I have mentioned certain of the limitations which prevent is from generalised thinking, but the human way of thinking also is a bondage. That is why you have been told many a time that the intellect is a barrier. You must have heard from people that the intellect is an obstacle in higher pursuits, because the intellect is an endowment of the human being. It is not present in an earth-worm or a centipede. They have some other instincts, of their own. And we have a peculiar structure within us, we call intellect, reason, etc. We have been told a hundred times that this is an obstacle. But why is it an obstacle when it is the only faculty we have in the end? It is an obstacle because it is present only in a human being and we cannot find it elsewhere. The way of thinking or the outlook of the different species will be different. And in order to be able to enter into a more generalised form of the outlook of life we should not be wedded too much to our endowment called the intellect. Though it is an aid, it is not enough.
It is a prerogative of the human species only, but the truths of life are not merely human. There are many more things in the world than human values, and we should not be under the impression that we are gods ruling over this world. We have, at times, a pride, which takes us off from our feet and makes us feel that we are angels walking in this earth, looking down upon sub-human creatures. They are all nothing before us, as if they do not exist at all. We are the masters. The world belongs to us. The earth is the property of the human being. When we have such feelings, we say, ‘this land is mine’. How does it belong to you? God knows! Anyhow, you have a feeling it is yours, the man that is in us works in an imperious manner. And that humanness in us, while it is a great virtue in many respects, is also going to be a great hindrance in the last resort. Our human character is one link in the chain of the development of the various species of life in creation. There are, also, superior faculties higher than human reason, which belongs to superhuman realms of being.
You know that the world is not made up of human beings alone. There are others below us and above us. We are in the middle hanging somewhere on the rope that stretches from the earth to the heavens. We are on a long journey. We are not stationed in this world as a permanent proprietors of properties here. We are not owners of anything. We are in a moving flux, as I said. We are on a perpetual journey onward, and we cannot, as a great master said, step into the same water of the river the next moment, because the next moment we step into another water of the same river. Thus, too, the next moment we are in a new life into which we perpetually enter, and the so- called continuity of our personality which makes us feel that we were yesterday the same thing that we are today, and the hope that we shall be tomorrow exactly what we are today, is due to a limitation of the way in which the mind works, the way in which we get tied up to one set if connotations in this movement. The habit of the mind is to look through a small hole or an aperture. The vast expanse of life, of which we are a small part, is out of the range of perception, due to certain structural defects in the mind.
That is why we feel that we are the same person everyday without knowing that we are changing every moment and are heading towards something different altogether until a catastrophic change will take place, when the mind will know that real change has occurred. And that catastrophe is called death. Every moment we are dying, but we are not aware of it because of the capacity of the mind to adjust itself to this little change every moment. And perhaps if our mind were in a position to adjust itself even to that so-called change called death, we would not know that we are dying. We will not even know that something has happened, just as we do not know that we are today different from what we were yesterday. But this mind is not so made. It is so much conditioned to this body that the severance of it from this body looks like a complete severance from existence itself.
There is a continuity, which is life, of which we are a part, and we are not just X,Y,Z, or A,B,C sitting here; it is not like that. If we open our eyes to fact, we will be surprised that we have been living a fool-hardy life upto this time, and now the time has come when we have to be serious. Our time is short, and there is so much to learn, and a lot to achieve. Obstacles are too many, and we have no time to woolgather, sleep or while away our time as if there is eternity before us. We cannot take things lightly, life is precious. We cannot take it as a joke. Every moment of time is as gold. Because every moment is nothing but a little loss of this span of our life. Every bell that rings tells us that we have lost one hour. It is not a happy thing that we are hearing. Tenacious has to be our effort at gaining insight into that which we seek.
Be humble. Be patient. Do not try to be big, but be small, until you almost become a nothing, which is better for you than to be a large thing in the world, a cynosure of all eyes. There is a hope, and so be always confident that you will get what you need. Always remember three things:
- Be clear as to what you want.
- Be sure that you will get what you want; do not be hesitant. Assert: yes, I am certainly going to get it, and
- Start with that effort just now. Do not say ‘tomorrow’. Everything is clear to me now, and I shall start at it’.
If these three maxims are before you as your guiding lights, you will succeed always, and with everything.
Make three columns: 1, 2, 3. In the first column, write the Heading: “What do you want?” In the second column, “Can you achieve it?” In the third column, “What is the way to it?”
Now, take the first item. “What do you want?” What are you in search of? What do you wish to know? All these questions imply almost one and the same thing, and are attempted and answered in the system of studies usually known as “Philosophy.” So, put this under column No. 1, which comes under philosophy.
Then, comes the second column. “Can you achieve this goal or knowledge, of search, of aspiration, of asking?” The analysis of your own capacities in this great search of that which you seek or want, comes under what is known as “Psychology.” This is under No. 2.
Then, is the third section. “What is the way?” Taking for granted that you have the capacity, the equipment, the endowment, which is requisite, what is the methodology that is to be adopted? This is the “practical” aspect of your search. Thus, there is a “philosophical” aspect, a “psychological” aspect and a “practical” aspect of the whole subject. This is to make a broad division of our approach to the entire question of life in its completeness.
Properly speaking, the subject of philosophy is concerned with the nature of Truth, or Reality. It is quite obvious that we are not after unrealities, phantoms or things that pass away, we are not in search of these things. We require something substantial, permanent. And what is this? What do you mean by the thing that is permanent, which is the same as what you call real? The search for Reality is the subject of philosophy.
Then we come to the second issue, the individual nature, the structure of our personality, the nature of our endowments. An analysis of the entire internal structure of ourselves, as individuals in search of anything is comprehended under the various branches of psychology and even that we call “psycho- analysis.” They all are subsumed under this single head of an internal analysis of the individual.
Now, we have the third thing, under the third column, the way to the achievement of this ideal, the Reality; the methodology, the practice of it, is what we are concerned with essentially. This is what we generally hear of as “Yoga.” Yoga is practice, though it is preceded by certain philosophical and psychological studies and discussions.
What is this Reality which we are in search of? What do we mean by the Real? Well, if we put a question generally to a layman, there will be an immediate answer, “What I see with my eyes, is the real.” And what do “I see with my eyes?” “The world.” This is the reality, the world in which we live is the real thing, that is the object which we regard as real. It is permanent. “It was there even before I was born, it is now, and it may be there, even when I shall pass away. The world is my reality and I cannot conceive of any other reality.”
In the section of psychology, if I ask you a question, “What are you?” A simple answer will come forth, viz. “I am such and such,” “so and so,” ” a person,” a usual reply. If you are asked, “who are you,” you know what sort of answer you will give. It is quite clear. Perhaps you will imply as an underlying current of your answer that you have a mind, an intellect, a reason, a thinking power,-that is all. One cannot go beyond these simple definitions of oneself. And if you are asked, “What are you supposed to do? What is the practical aspect of your life?”-here too, you have a very simple, off-hand answer. “We have to work, for the maintenance of ourselves, in relationship to this world, in the context of the atmosphere of human society, and various other factors.” This is a prosaic and naïve approach of the common person in regard to the problems of life, the duties of life and the values of life, but these are to touch the subject only on the surface, even as we can have a very inadequate and unscientific diagnosis of the illness of a person by merely looking at the body of the person, or by just passing the hand over the body of the individual, without investigating into the internal complications which give rise to the discomfort of the disease. We are impelled to search for things on account of a discomfort we feel in life. Otherwise, there would be no impulsion for search in respect of anything.
Dissatisfaction is regarded as the mother of all philosophy. Philosophy is the child of a recognition of the inadequacies in life. There are many kinds of dissatisfaction. We can write a book on what dissatisfaction means, because we are dissatisfied with everything, practically. It is difficult to imagine that we can be satisfied with anything permanently, or even for an elongated period. We cannot be satisfied with summer for a long time. We cannot be satisfied with winter for a long time. We cannot be satisfied with any atmosphere for a long time, and so on are our grievances. There is an ingredient of dissatisfaction in the very structure of our existence in this world. This is something very strange. How is it that we should be kept restless and longing throughout our life? Each one of you, just for a few seconds, withdraw your minds and contemplate your lives from the time of your birth, at least from the time you can recollect yourselves. Were you satisfied at any time? You were always asking for something, and if you obtained that thing, you would ask for another thing. If you get the second thing, you ask for a third thing.
Now, where is this quest going to end? Is a person going to be satisfied with anything at all? How is it that we are under the grip of the demon, as it were, of endless asking, an asking for that of which we have no clear knowledge in our minds? We are demanding endless things, in a variety of ways, constantly, throughout our lives, because it has not yet become clear to our minds as to what we want finally. We are only experimenting with situations: “Perhaps, this is what I want, perhaps that is what I want”; and when we go to these things, we realise that these were not the things that we sought to have.
It is like experimenting with various medicines and finding that none of them will suit our illness. We have been experimenting with persons, with things, with professions and the various other facets of our longings. They have not satisfied us. Even today, we are not satisfied, neither you, nor I, nor anybody else. It is impossible to imagine a condition of complete satisfaction, where we will have to say nothing, where everything is obtained for ever. The state of obtaining all thing is, indeed, beyond even the stretch of imagination. We cannot imagine whether such a state is possible, that is, to have all things that we need.
It looks, many a time, that we have to pass away from this world in despair with everything. If we read the history of the minds of human beings, if there is any such thing as a history of psychology of human nature as such, we will be surprised to observe that it is impossible to pin-point even one individual who has left this world with genuine satisfaction, save those few who are the salt of the earth. There has always been a gap, an unfinished something with which the person has to quit. Everyone goes with something left incomplete. It will never be finished. This is the seamy side of things, the unhappy facet of life, which seems to be the outer picture of this world painted before us.
But we have also a peculiar solacing and satisfying inner core, which always eludes our grasp. There is something in us, in each one of us, which escapes our notice every moment. We can never visualise it with all our effort, and yet there is that mysterious and tremendous something which keeps us somehow hoping for the possibility of success in the end. This peculiar something in us, which keeps us positively hoping for the practicability of our enterprises in life, and expecting a victory at last, that is the glory of our personality.
Man has remained a wretched suffering individual in this world, it is true, but he is also a glorious something, a majestic and incomprehensible mystery, a combination of two contraries, as it were, which is just the miracle of man. Every human being is a miracle by himself. It is not possible for us to know ourselves wholly. If it had been possible, we would not be in search of things and running about here and there. There is a peculiar eluding difficulty on account of which we are in search of things and yet are not able to get anything; with all the search, we seem to be receiving nothing in the end. Yet, we cannot withhold this quest. This is another pecularity. On the one hand, it appears that we are going to get nothing, because we have got nothing up to this time, after so many years of suffering. If, for the last twenty-five, thirty or forty years of search and effort we seem to have achieved nothing, what is the guarantee that we are going to gain anything satisfying in another ten years? Perhaps they will also pass in the same way as the last twenty-five or thirty years have gone. “Impermanent and joyless, verily, is this world (Anityam, Asukham).”
This is a very depressing picture before us, indeed. But that is not to be the all, is a voice that we hear from within ourselves; otherwise we would not be here, listening to people speaking in a world language, in search of longed-for things, in forests, in hills and dales, in monasteries, in temples, in libraries, etc. We have something in us, definitely different from what we see with our eyes. This is our mystery, our glory, our reality and our solace. This mystery in us keeps us happy, somehow inspite of all the unhappiness in life. On the one side, we are terribly unhappy; on the other hand, there is an undercurrent of a possibility of permanent success and happiness beckoning us from a remote distance. This intriguing picture, which is the shape that we see of life before us, is the object that is investigated into and studied in philosophy. If the subject had been so simple as an apple dropping from above, there would have been no need for researches, studies and investigations. It is an intermixture of contrary elements and enigmatic factors and, therefore, an intense training is necessary, in a technical manner, in order to fathom the depths of these mysteries.
Well, we have another mystery simultaneously with it. Are we having in us the capacity, are we endowed with the equipment necessary to make these investigations? Or, are we just hopeless specimens with an utter impossibility behind this very quest? The magnitude of the problem seems to be so large, and our individuality appears to be so puny, that oftentimes it may look that it is a fruitless task.
There was a great philosopher who produced a revolutionising system of thinking, who placed before himself three questions, in which he summed every question of life:
First Q. What can we know? What is it that we are in a position to know at all, under the circumstances in which we are placed?
Second Q. Under the circumstances given, what ought we to do?
Third Q. Given the answers to the first two questions, what may we hope for, finally? What is going to be our fate, our destiny, our future?
Three questions include every question that we can ask in this world. What can we know? What ought we to do? What may we hope for? Three great volumes were written by this philosopher, in answer to these three questions. Have we the endowment to investigate the problem of existence? Then, what are the methods that we have to adopt? This would be the technical or technological aspect of the practice.
So, just as, before starting the construction of a huge edifice, a temple, a chapel or a place, one has a plan laid out before oneself; one does not start suddenly accumulating material in some place; there is, first of all, a consideration and study of the nature of the ground, the earth, what sort of earth it is, what is its inclination, and so on, the area that has to be covered, the depth that has to be dug, the material that is required, the personnel that may be requisite for the purpose, the time that it will take to complete the work, etc., so is the method of philosophical study constituted of many relevant themes of study. All this discussion implies at the same time, behind all these processes, the aim of the enterprise, viz., why does one build the edifice at all. That is at the back of one’s mind throughout this process of the activity called building construction. Likewise, we have been our minds an aim, whether we our tourists, travelling from place to place in the world, or we are students, or whatever we are. We do things because we have an aim or purpose, we are in search of it and work for its fulfilment.
I met one student from the West, and he told me that these questions are never asked in the West. “We never contemplate as to what is our ‘aim’. We get on every day. We have got some daily routines and we run up with these routines, duties, functions, vocations. But what is the ‘aim’, finally? We do not ask such questions. They never arise in the minds of people.” I said. “They may not arise, consciously, but they are there as the ingredients of the basic root of your personality. Otherwise, the conscious level will not operate in a systematic manner.” What is system, what is logic, what is scientific approach, if not the congruence of our conscious activity with some deeper aims? When there is an incongruence between our conscious activities and our inner aims, we are supposed to be unscientific, illogical and unsystematic. When there is a harmony between the aim and the actual approach, we call that process science, logic and system.
Thus, we have to lay the foundation of our searches and we are not to be too over-enthusiastic about it all without being confident that we have taken each step at the proper stage, very firmly, with clarity and completeness. As it was mentioned, our studies will be gradually tapering off from philosophy to psychology, from psychology to practice. We will not enter into the practical questions in the very beginning itself, just as we do not enter a house it is built. We have to build it first, then we go in and lie down on our lounge.
One should not be too very eager to start breathing exercise or concentration, etc. without first laying the foundation of these well known practices. They are very simple thing, if their essentials are understood. We have heard so much about breathing and meditation and Asanas (Yoga postures), etc., that they may look odd things for a common person and very difficult at that; all because of the fact that their foundations have not been laid properly. We just rush into Asana or meditations or study of some lofty literature or go to seclusion, without preparing ourselves in an adequate manner for the purpose. If we are unprepared, we go back unsatisfied.
We have to go slow, there is no harm in going slow, provided that we are sure that we have succeeded in taking at least one step. Even if it be only one step that we have taken in this life, it does not matter, if we have taken it effectively and we are not going to re-trace that step. There is no use jumping a hundred steps ahead and then having the chance of coming back by a push of retrogression on account of the unprepared adventure on our part. So let us move slowly and carefully, remembering each step in the mind with a firmness of confidence.
We began by saying that the foundations of thought is the clarity that we entertain about the nature of the reality which we are in search of. We are speaking of reality because we are naturally not interested in unreality. This is something common-place, very easy to understand. But, while we have an immediate and easy answer to the question. What is that which we call the Real, we will find that our answers are erroneous when we go deep into the nature of that which we see with our eyes.
There are only two things that we see in this world; the world and ourselves. There is nothing else. If we look around, we see the vast world of astronomical phenomena and geographical extension, and we are there as small individuals in this mighty world. What else can we see? “I am here, and the world is there.” The individual and the world are the realities. Perhaps we may say, in a general manner, that we conceive two realities. If this is our concept of what is real, and we are certainly in search of what is real, it would follow, from this answer or definition, that we are in search of the world, or we are in search of ourselves. Naturally, this should be so, because there are only two things as we said: We are there, and the world is there. If we are there as a reality, we are in search of these, or both of them. But, actually, we have not found either of these. Though we seem to be in search of the world, the world is not under our possession. We are not owners of this world. This is very clear. The world is not our property. So, in search of the world we have not obtained it; and in search of ourselves, we do not seem to have achieved a proprietary control even over our own personalities. Death is a standing example of our incapacity to hold ourselves as property. Nobody would willingly sacrifice one’s own body to destruction. But a power overtakes us and we are dispossessed of this very body of ours, by the phenomenon called death. Though there are various other occasions also, which prove that we have no control over ourselves, this is the final proof which is there glaringly before us, telling that we have no right even over this body itself. And what to speak of rights over other things in this world?
So, in our search for either that or this, externally or internally, we have obtained nothing,-neither the world nor ourselves. There has been a mistake, evidently, in the very search that we have been making. If our definition of reality is correct, and if it is also true that we are in search of realities only, it should be inexplicable as to how we should be defeated in this search, which is unfortunately what has happened. The outcome of this analysis is certainly this much, that we have gone the wrong way. Our ideas of reality are not correct and therefore our search for this so-called reality has been in the wrong. We have not been moving the right way, because we have not understood what reality is.
Our philosophical edifice crumbles. It falls down and breaks into pieces if our search for reality, which is philosophical investigation, is rooted in a basic misconception of reality itself. There are, on the basis of the kind of analysis we have made upto this time, two ways of approach to truth, the external and the internal, the objective and the subjective, as they are called. The objective approach is generally the approach of science, of physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, etc. These are all examples of an external search for reality. The internal search have been of the psychologists, the psycho-analysis and, in the end, the mystic of the world. These are the internal probers, quite removed from the external investigators of the scientific type.
Now, what have we found by these external analyses and internal approaches? What has science told us after its running here and there for the reality of the world, and what are the psychologists telling us? Today, we have only these two studies before us. The external approach which is scientific includes also the studies under what goes by the name of humanities, political science, history, sociology, aesthetics, ethics, economics and the like.
The latter are not external in the sense of physics or chemistry, but they are external in the sense of objective studies by experiment and observation. Wherever we employ the technique of observation and experiment, we are pursuing the method of external approach to reality.
Thus, we have to take notice of both these approaches. And have they been satisfying, or have they confronted a wall in front of them, beyond which they could not go? Have these approaches, whether external or internal, ended in a final answer to all the questions of life? Or, have they led us to a blind alley? And we are just in darkness after some stage has been reached? If that is the case, there has been some error even in these approaches, the external and the internal. We have to take time, therefore, to go into the bare outlines, at least, of these approaches to reality in order to be sure as to where we stand.
We go back to where we stopped, viz., the ways in which we try to probe into reality. Obviously, we have three ways or three avenues of observation and we cannot think of a fourth method. We look outside and try to see what is there; we look inside and try to find out what is within us; also, often, we look up and wonder at what is above us. This has been the attitude of all investigators, whether in the field of science, philosophy or religion.
Fundamentally, we noticed that there is the usual objective approach of science which is remarkable for its achievements these days, and which almost goes about as a gospel. We have to see how far it has succeeded, before we can enter into a contemplation of other methods and ways of approach. What is science doing? What us the way if the specialist in the field of observation and experiment? Whoever tries to discover truth by observation and experiment is a scientist, and we try to do that in our own humble way in our attitude to things in the world. We look at the world. All our business in life is objective, external and material for the most part. We see the oceans, we see the wind blowing and we see the stellar system, we see the five elements,- Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether. What else can we see in the world? There was a time when our specialists in the field concluded that the world consists of the five elements, and we cannot see anything else. We are also acquainted with the advances made later on, further to these main observations of the five elements merely.
We have the great advancement of physical science, which has gone deep into the structure of matter, by which we mean all the five elements,-Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether. All these constitute matter in its essentiality. Physics goes into the structure of matter. What is matter made of? Of what is it constituted? Primarily, we say matter is only five elements, but we have seen that further experiments are performed, and have noticed that this solid earth is porous, a well known fact. The earth is not an indivisible mass. Water is porous, air is porous. Even fire is a continuity of processions of energy. So, none of these four visible elements is really the hard or impartite thing that it appears to be. All these are complex substances and not compounds. A compound is indivisible, a complex is divisible. These elements are divisible and are not an indivisible substance. This was discovered later on.
So, our original observation was not correct, viz., that there are solid elements. Now if matter is divisible, into what is it divisible? It is divisible into molecules. These are chemical substances. All these, including our own bodies, are reducible to certain chemical elements. There are only bundles of chemical molecules to which our bodies can be reduced and to which anything in the earth can be reduced. The molecules are chemical in their nature, but these chemicals are also constituted of finer particles called ‘atoms’. They are more difficult to apprehend than the chemical substances. Scientists as well as philosophers have given varying opinion about the nature of atoms. There were people who thought that the Earth-atoms are different from the Water-atoms, and the Water-atoms are different from Fire- atoms or the Air-atoms. We had in India at least some schools of thought which believed in the atomic structure of matter, but also held at the same time that the atoms vary one from the other. The Earth-atom is different from the Water-atom, etc. But this was not the finality of the discovery. We, today, are told, again and again, that there is no intrinsic difference between one atom and another atom. The so-called difference is not due to the inner structure of the atom but because of the arrangement of the constituents of the atom. So, Earth differs from Water, Water differs from Fire, etc., not because their atomic essentiality varies but because they are arranged in different patterns constitutionally.
But all this is what is known as classical physics. We may safely say, this is the physics which brought us down to the time which is a little later than what they call the Newtonian Era, when classical physics reached its climax and it was decided, once and for all, that matter is contained in space, space being regarded as a receptacle for the material contents. The great discovery that Newton made was the law of gravitation, the pull of the material parts in regard to one another due to the mass and the distance of these parts of matter.
But, we have come today to the twentieth century beyond half of it, and people are dinning into our ears the greater discoveries of a strange picture that is before us of even the world of matter, of which even Newton would be surprised if he were to be alive today. There are not even atoms. There is only a continuity of energy, so that we cannot know where is earth, where is water, where is fire, where is air, where is ether. We are not here to discuss science, and mention is made of all these only as a kind of preliminary introduction to the ways in which science has been moving in a search for reality. Our interest in this regard is philosophical.
Where has it brought us finally? Where are we standing after all this discovery? Are we more informed about the nature of truth, today, than we were at the time when we were told that there are only five elements in their gross form? Are we better off today socially, philosophically, religiously, ethically, or spiritually, merely because of the fact that we have discovered a continuum of energy in the Universe instead of the gross five elements? The crux of the matter is something which eludes our grasp. We are not in search of what matter is constituted of. That is not our interest. It avails us of nothing, if we know what another possesses. You may possess anything, and what does it matter to me? Why should I go on enquiring into your property, your bank-balance, your relations in the world, etc.? What does it matter to me, whatever you are, unless there is some connection of these information with my life which I am attempting to understand?
How are we benefited by these discoveries? If the world is a continuum of energy, what does it matter to us? Let that be. Are we better off? Well, we know well that we are in the same condition in our personal lives and social lives, in our aspirations and in our searches today, as our ancestors must have been centuries back. Where, then, is the difficulty? And it has somehow been missed. This is the defect of a purely scientific approach of the experimental type. The advantage of scientific discoveries has been a rapid technological development in this age. We have fast-moving aeroplanes and subtle submarines, and gadgets of every kind. All are discoveries, inventions made as a consequence of the knowledge that people have gained today of the components of matter. But, finally, it has kept us in a state of unhappiness and anxiety, because of the ostensible fact that our lives are not connected with these discoveries. There is, to put it in a more technical form, an epistemological gulf between the seer and seen. The knowledge pattern remains the same today, as it was a few thousand years back. And what is the knowledge-pattern we are referring to? The student has to be very attentive here, because this is a little novel theme and perhaps a little difficult to comprehend, because here is the essence of the whole problem.
Our life is inseparable from our experience. What we call life is nothing but experience, and this is important to remember. And experience, whatever be the nature of it is inseparable from a consciousness of that experience. There is no experience without a consciousness of it. We are aware that we are undergoing a process or are in a state of experience. If the awareness is absent, we cannot be said to be in a state of any experience at all. To have no experience is to have no awareness of what is happening. Now, our life being identical with a conscious experience, and our search for reality being observational and experimental in the scientific fashion, we have to find out how the panorama of external nature, as it stands before us from the point of view of science, is connected with our personal life.
The world is as unmanageable today as it was many years back. Merely because we say that there is a continuum of energy in the universe, instead of the five elements, we have not bettered the things. It means the same thing finally. Why is it the same thing and why not there be a difference? Because our disconnection from the world remains today the same as it was before. Our sorrow is due to the dispossession of ourselves from things we call real or reality. We cannot control the earth or the water, the fire or the air. And the vast space outside is enough to take one’s breath away.
Likewise, today, we cannot control the atoms or the electrons or the energies or the forces that be, because we are outside them. Our life, to repeat again, is a function of consciousness, and so long as our consciousness is not en-rapport with the reality that we are in search of, we are not in possession of that reality, and so long as we are not in possession of it, we have practically nothing to do with it. It is like a treasure that belongs to somebody else, about which we have only a theoretical information and with which there is, practically, no relationship. Our disconnection from reality,-let us be contented just now with the scientific definition of reality as external objects, the world that we see,-is also our weakness. Our strength enhances as we gain more and more control or possession of reality.
The more do we possess reality, the more is the power that we wield. And what is possession? To possess an object, to possess anything for the matter of that, is to be invariably connected with it, in an inseparable manner. We have a power over the limbs of our body. I am giving one example of what power means, and what power does not mean. I can lift my hand at my will, there is no difficulty about it. Even if the leg of the elephant is very heavy, the elephant can lift its leg. The elephant can lift its whole body, though even a hundred people cannot lift an elephant. Perhaps, I may not be able to lift your body, but you can lift your body. You may not be able to lift my body, but I can lift my body. What is this mystery? Wherefrom comes this strength by which I can lift my body and walk? The reason is that my consciousness is one with my reality, which is this body; it is not outside. But you cannot lift my body, nor can I lift your body, because your consciousness is disconnected from my body; and mine from yours. The analogy is simple, and clear enough.
The reason is that power is identical with the union of consciousness with its object. The content of consciousness should not be outside consciousness if real power is to be there. As long as the content remains outside, consciousness loses control over it. So, no scientist can control the universe or have any reasonable or appreciable relationship with it, because the scientist remains a puppet in the hands of the powers which he has discovered and of which , he, now today, realises, is an inseparable part. But, with all these defects of science, it has awakened us to one important truth, that to know the world is to know our own selves. One would be surprised how science can teach this truth. Yes, it has somehow stumbled upon this fact, by a chance, we may say.
We cannot know the universe unless we know ourselves. While this is true, the reverse also is true, at the same time. We cannot know ourselves truly, unless we know the whole universe. The one is the same as the other. Now how does science lead us to this conclusion? The secret is the discovery of an indivisible continuum of nature, outside which no individual, nothing, can exist. The space-time continuum which scientists speak of today, in the relativity cosmos, is inclusive of yourself and myself and all things. We cannot stand outside it. We are an eddy in this ocean of force which is called the space-time continuum, and so, how can we know it unless we know ourselves, since we are a part of it; also it becomes more obvious on account of the fact that to know is to have an awareness of the fact; and awareness is an essentiality of our being. Our being and our consciousness of our being are the same; they are not two different things.
The moment we say that we exist, we imply we are conscious that we exist. The existence of things is inseparable from the consciousness of the existence of things. Inasmuch as it has been decided that existence is a continuity, inseparable in its meaning, with no gulf whatsoever, to know the universe would be to have a consciousness of the universe. But in what manner? Not in the form of the consciousness of the world that we have today. I am having the consciousness of a mountain in front of me; that is not the consciousness we are referring to. As consciousness cannot be separated from the existence of things, and inasmuch as the existence of things has been identified with a continuity and a wholeness of process or energy, the revelation would imply a strange conclusion which will startle us beyond our wits.
It would imply that to know anything would be the same as to be cosmically conscious. We cannot know anything in this world, unless we are universally awakened. Neither can we know ourselves, nor can we know even a particle of sand on the bank of the river, unless we are omniscient. And what religion calls God is nothing but this state of consciousness, where knowledge is identical with being. This is not the subject of science or physics, but it has landed us in this conclusion willy-nilly, by a mathematical force of logical deduction. This is a great benefit that science has given us, with all the horrors that it has created on the other side due to its technological aberrations.
But, science is not over with this, for we have been thinking only of physics, upto this time, and physics is not the whole of science. Students of science know that there is something more about it. There is what is called life. Living beings are different from inanimate matter. The world of physics and chemistry is different from the world of life or living beings. In addition to astronomy, physics and chemistry which deal mostly with inorganic matter, we have the science of biology which studies living organisms and tries to find out what life is.
Here, we have something of a very interesting nature to observe. What is biology? What is the study of life or living beings, and why is it called a science? It is a science because we identify science with the process of observation and experiment. And what is it that the biologists have observed and experimented with? The functions of life are their field. But one cannot observe life. I cannot see with my eyes the life in the people sitting in front of me, I can only see movements and symptoms of the presence of life. So, even biology, as a science, has been able to proceed only upto the point of observation of symptoms of the existence of life, but not life itself. We cannot see life with any apparatus or instruments.
But how do we know that living bodies are different from dead bodies, that a tree is different from a stone? We have this knowledge, because there are certain indications of the presence of life in what we call living bodies. These indications are not present in what we know as matter. Here, again, is a defect in the process of science. We have already standardised the symptoms of life. Only if such-and-such a symptom is observable, we call it life. We have passed judgment like this. We have consulted that, to regard a thing as living, it must have these characteristics. If they are not there, we regard that thing as inorganic. But this is a prejudice of the scientific method. This is its defect.
Why should we standardise the symptoms of life? This standardisation arises again and again on account of certain definitions which we form in our own minds. The mere discovery of certain movements in the world of matter cannot be equated with a discovery of the secret of life. The question has been put: how did life originate? This is an age-old question? Geologists and astronomers tell us that this earth has come from the Sun. It is practically accepted as a fact. It may be true. Once upon a time, there was no earth. The earth is a chip of the boiling mass of the Sun and, due to a whirling motion of the Sun, as some people think, or, due to a tremendous friction created in the body of the Sun on account of the proximity of another star passing near it, a piece was cut off from the Sun. This is the theory of the creation of this planet. There are two theories put forth, the one thinking that there was a digression of the movement of the Sun in a tremendous velocity on account of which a chip was cut off, and the other holding that a gravitational pull exerted by another star coming near the Sun cut off a portion of it, which ran off into empty space in a great speed, with boiling contents, fire in its essence. The fire cooled into liquid, which solidified itself into earth, gradually, is the story.
But where is life? We cannot see living beings in this state of affairs, where there is only fire and water or even inanimate earth. People tell us that life must have come from some other planet. Well, this looks like the old story of the wolf and the lamb. “If you have not disturbed the water, your grandfather must have done it.” Our question is: how did life originate? Merely by saying it has come from another planet, we have not answered the question. For, again, the question would be: How did life originate there? Then we would say that it has come from a third planet. No one can say how life came about. It is a mystery even today.
How can living beings originate from the hot masses of star? There are cases of germs manufacturing themselves from stagnant water, insects coming out from dunghill, etc. How does this become possible? It is said that scorpions are born out of dung. This is one doctrine. Well, scorpions have life; and dung has no life. How can life come from non-life? So, biology has a dark screen on front of it finally, and the discovery of life, somehow, becomes an inference rather than an observation.
Many people think that biology is not an exact science, while physics and chemistry are exact sciences. Biology is not an exact science because some inference is involved in its process, and it is not enough to have merely experiments and observations. But what is this inference? We go deep into biology. We should remember that we are discussing the objective approach of science, to find out where it has taken us, and where it has made us to halt, and what are its shortcomings and why it cannot help us finally.
In the same way as physics, chemistry and astronomy have landed us half-way, biology, too, seems to leave us somewhere in the middle and is unable to take us further, because the nature of life is inscrutable. We do not know what life means. When we say, “I am alive,” what do we mean actually Perhaps, we mean that we are moving. Can we say that a bullock cart is a living being because it is moving? Is a motor-car living? By ‘life’, we mean something different from mere motion.
It is a difficult thing to answer the question. What is life? When I say, “I am living, I am alive” I mean something quite different from a mere motion of the body. What is the essence of the biological research? Here, we somehow take a different turn of approach altogether and are forced to accept that life is a purposiveness in being; it is to be teleologically conscious. We are characterised by purposive movements and not merely aimless movements as in the case of a motor-car or a bullock-cart, which can simply go anywhere and in any way. Our movements are purposive, directed, filled with an aim, and this is what is meant by teleological movement. Now, that this, also, is not a very satisfactory answer will be noted when we consider the issue further.
When I say: “I am living because I have a purposive existence, and not merely an aimless motion”, I have to explain what do I mean by purposiveness. It is interesting to see, how we go from step to step into greater difficulties. What do we mean by a purposive existence? It would mean, at least in outline, the consciousness of an aim in front of oneself. Now, again, we see where we are moving, dangerously. From science, where have we come? To be conscious that there is an aim before us is to be purposive. Life is, again, inseparable from a state of consciousness. And biology, also, takes us to the same thing on which physics landed us, in the end.
Somehow we cannot escape the dilemma of it being impossible for us to be without the principle of consciousness, in whatever we do, in whatever direction we move. The basic sciences,-astronomy, physics, chemistry and biology,-have a common thing to say finally. In the end they tell us the same thing and by this proclamation of a truth, which is beyond their own jurisdiction, they, as sciences, are exceeding their limits. Science becomes philosophy.
It requires to be emphasised again,-because it is easily forgotten,-that our studies are not mugging up of information from books. We are not inmates of a school where we are students in the class room and animals outside. This is not our aim. Let alone the possibility of living as animals, each one trying to pounce on the other. It is not even enough if we live merely as human beings. There is no need for instruction that we should not be animals, but it requires an instruction to tell is that it is not enough if we live merely as human beings.
There is always a distinction between our laboratory life and our public life. We are scientists in the laboratories, but common-place persons in the shops, in the railway stations, and the bus-stands. This is the outcome of our learning in colleges, in universities, in institutions. Wherever we are, we are fed up with this kind of life, and that is why we are trying to find a little time, if it is possible, to think in a different manner. It is easy to study. There are countless schools in the world and the result of all the studies is an upsurge of emotions and feelings in the minds of people, a veritable warfare perpetually threatening to take place, so that it is difficult to say if one person, at least, sleeps soundly in the night, with freedom from all anxiety. We have seen this, and we know this, and we are in the midst of this atmosphere. We are tired of it to the core and we realise that there is a basic error in our way of living and thinking, due to which all our studies look like a blank. These have led us nowhere.
To find out where the mistake lies, we are here not to study the Upanishads or the Bible. We may read the scriptures a hundred times; we would be the same persons. Nothing will change in our personality. It is not study in that sense that we are thinking of here. We have enough of people who have studied more than many of us. But there has been no desirable effect of these studies, except that we carry a burden on the head of a lot of information, and often of some rubbish which keeps us in a state of a fattened egoism and an empty soul.
If we are not able to be serious in regard to our own selves, how can we be serious in regard to the world outside? Who would like to go deliberately into the pit of hell? This possibility is there, on account of our missing the point in the life that we live. What do we see? We see people outside. Do we see people in the same way as anybody else sees? Even a pig sees people and we also see people outside us. But is there a difference between the pig seeing and our seeing? If there is no difference, it should be a travesty of affairs, that we should call ourselves cultured, educated. If our eyes are made like pig eyes and if there has been no transformation in the values of life with our studies, and we live in the same way as anyone else lives, then, it is high time that we should retrace our steps from our advance pursuit of so-called studies and strike a retrospective view of what is wrong with us. We need not be under the impression that our studies are inadequate and therefore we are unhappy. We might have studied very well, nobody denies that, but those studies had evidently no meaning, no purpose, no substance in them.
After a bath given to the elephant, the elephant remains the same, with dust thrown on its body. Likewise, it is obvious that the perspective of life has not changed, for it cannot easily change, as long as we see with our present eyes and cannot have another eye. If it is possible for us to see things with another eye altogether, other than the two eyes that we have been using right from our childhood, then our attempts may yield a value and a meaning. But if we persist seeing with the same two eyes, naturally we will see the same things. If we use the same telescope or the same microscope, we will see the same thing as before. But can we change this telescope or the microscope and see things differently, in the way they are really stationed, and not in the way they appear through the instruments of our eyes? We have to be honest to our own selves, for it is easy to deceive ourselves. It may be a little difficult to deceive others, but we can very easily go out of the track, due to the vagaries of the mind.
Our purpose in undertaking these studies, if they are to be worth the while, is quite different from the studies which people generally undergo through textbooks and in class-rooms of institutions devoted to the several arts and the sciences of the world. Ours may look like a class-room, from the point of view of its physical structure, but it is not supposed to be merely that. We are supposed to get up from here with a new spirit in our minds. But if the spirit is the same as the one that it came an hour before, dropping and sinking and complaining, and seeing ugliness and animosity and the diversities which are common to human perception, which has the undercurrent of even animal values, then we should be sorry for ourselves and not at the world that is.
This was a point of view which was emphasised before, viz., that we should be cautious with regard to ourselves and it is useless to be merely observant of what is happening outside in the world. There is a maladjustment and an upsetting of the sense of values in our own mind due to which we are in a very unenviable position. We are in search of facts and truths and realities and we have not found anything of this kind. Everything is moving, everything is passing, everything is changing, and our ideas about things also change. We have discovered nothing of value or reality in the world.
We have tried our best to probe into the nature of things outside in the world. We have seen nothing, we have only hit our heads against the walls. We have stones and trees in front of us, not values which are worth considering and which are going to do us any good in the true sense of the term.
We noticed that this eternal search lands us in a failure, finally, because of the simple reason that the things we see are outside of us. A thing that is really ‘outside’ cannot come in contact with us, because we have already dubbed it as an ‘outsider’. A thing that is external to us cannot become a part of our knowledge.
What is knowledge? It is an assimilation of the object into the consciousness. If I assimilate you into my consciousness, I know you, but if you stand outside as a stranger to me, as an object which is totally independent of me, I cannot know you. All knowledge is participation in the content thereof. Participation implies our capacity to enter into the nature of the object and the capacity in the object to enter into the nature of our being, our knowledge; that is a mutual assimilation of the nature of things. If I stand outside you totally and you stand outside me wholly, there would be no concourse between the two. I cannot know you and you cannot know me.
This is what has happened to the scientific observation of modern times. If science is an observation of objects, regarding them as objects having nothing to do with the subjects which observe them, then, science cannot give us knowledge. It can only give us descriptive information, the length and the breadth, the weight and the mass, the form and the colour, etc., of an object. I cannot know you, even if I know your height and weight, your girth, colour, shape, geometrical feature, or the chemical structure of your body. All these I may know, yet I would have not know you.
To know you physically, chemically and biologically is not to know you, because physically, chemically and biologically, one would be the same as the other. The same substance is in each person, each thing,-the earth, water, fire, air and ether are the components of the physical body of each and every individual in the world, so that to study one body would be equal to studying any other body. Why are there many people and many things, if everything is equal in bodily structure? The scientific observation is tentatively useful for our physical and social life, but it is not real knowledge, by it nothing can be known, not even one atom, truly if it is ‘outside’.
This world outside is a fantastic world. It has a tremendous, fearsome significance, for anything that is outside is a source of fear, anxiety and insecurity. There is a great saying in the Upanishad that fear is caused by duality. Our fear is because there is another outside us, and as long as there is an ‘other’, we will have to be in a state of sorrow caused by the fear. And the fear is born of the fact that there is something independent of us, vying with us in reality and claiming equal status with us. There may be even one grain of sand there, but we cannot tolerate its presence, if it is outside us. We feel irksome that something is there totally alien.
Suppose you are in the midst of a society, where people are aliens, you feel very uncomfortable. You have to get out from that place and go to an atmosphere where people are more friendly. You like friendliness and not ‘foreign’ characters. And what is friendliness? It is a tendency to assimilation of the one into the other. Friendliness is a social word, a term signifying the inclination of an individual to enter into the being of another. You have not actually entered into the being of another, no doubt, but there is a tendency, at least, and that is called friendliness. We have an aptitude to enter into our kith and kin. We might not have taken even the first step, but we have a desire, nevertheless, to take that step in the direction of our becoming a part of the friend’s being. That is love, that is affection, that is friendliness. But if that tendency is absent, we wish to withdraw our being from others’ being. That is the opposite of love, affection and friendliness. So, the tendency of friendliness is also the tendency to unite oneself with the desired object of perception.
All love longs for the union of the subject with the object. It can not really unite itself, and that is why loves are frustrated for various reasons. It is not possible for us to get into union with anything, ultimately. But there is a desire to be united with things. That desire is what we call love and unselfishness. The desire to exceed ourselves into the region of another is love. We do not want to be locked up in our own bodies, unselfishness is the desire to go out of our bodies and enter the bodies of other things.
We cannot achieve this purpose easily. We cannot enter into the body of anything, but we have a desire. This desire is what is called love and love indicates the possibility, under given circumstances, of such a union. Under certain conditions the union is actually effected. This is what we are going to study. Under what conditions is it possible for us to unite ourselves with things? Normally, this is not possible, because the structure of the physical world is such that it will not permit this union. There is what we call space which will not allow the unity of any two objects. There is the time factor, there is causality, there are social prejudices and personal ambitions, all which cut the ground from under one’s feet at the very outset.
But that it should be certainly possible is proved by our own urges inside and our longing to achieve this aim. We have tried our best to conquer nature, to know nature, to become one with nature, to harness the powers of nature and be in union with nature. Science has made this attempt but has not succeeded, because, unfortunately, nature has always managed to remain as an outside object to the scientific observer. Like the horizon that recedes the more we go near it, the objects of the scientist,-call them electrons or what ever they are,-recede and elude the grasp of the observer. Nobody has understood what an electron is even today, because it is outside, and how can anyone know it?
Here we are with inconclusive researches of the objective approach of science. We have not found reality in science. We have not found it anywhere in the world. Then what is the way out? As we noticed, we can look at things from three angles. We look outside. We look inside. We look above. These are three ways of looking at things. Now, we have already looked outside and found nothing, at least nothing satisfactory.
Let is look inside and see what is there. This is the subjective approach, quite the other side of the objective method of science. What do we see when we turn our gaze within? We see ourselves. Let us close our eyes and see what is there. We do not see anything outside, we see our personality and begin to wonder what it is made of. What am I? The search for an answer to this question is the subjective approach of psychology.
Now, let us see what comes out of this search. Are we going to be landed in the same unfortunate situation of the external approach or does something else come out? We see the body when we look inside ourselves. We see the physiological and anatomical structure of the body, the skin and the bones, the flesh and the marrow, the blood and the various biological features of the physical body.
If I ask you, who are you? You will say, I am the son or daughter of so and so, the brother or sister, and something like that would be your definition of yourself. By all these definitions you mean that you are a body,-that is all. It means nothing else. Otherwise, how are you a son or daughter of some body? It has no meaning except in the sense that you are a body. But let us see whether we are able to see only this much, and nothing further.
Are we living only as bodies and nothing else? Let us give everything to the body and see if we are satisfied. We have our breakfast and lunch and we have dinner, and we have a good sleep. What else do we want for the body? We will be given all these things, food and clothing and house to live in. These are the things that the body requires, and the body is happy. But do we say that we are satisfied with this alone? No, these are not the things that people require merely. It is not just food and clothing and shelter that we need. They may be the requirements of our body. They may be necessary, no doubt; but these are not enough.
People with all these things are still searching for some other things. There are people,-we call them well-to-do people,-who have got all these physical amenities. But they are still in search of some other relief. The reason is that their physical needs have not satisfied them, because they are not merely physical bodies. They have something else within them, which also needs a certain type of food, as the body requires material food. What are we, then, other than the body? If we go deep into the body, we will find nothing there, except physical structure. By an amputation, or an operation of the physical body, one will see nothing inside the body, except the physical matter only ion some layer. It is when we probe into a different state of our existence, through which we are almost daily passing, that we will be able to discover some other element of personality in us, than the physical body, e.g., dream. In dreams, our physical bodies do not take part and yet we have an independent existence in the waking condition. Now, did we exist in dream? Yes, we did exist. What was there? Not the physical body. What was else? Well, very strange, we do find something else there. We had only the mind.
Thus we existed as a mind in dream is obvious. This does not require much explanation or commentary. We had joys and sorrows in dream, similar to those we experience in waking. We were exactly the same in dream, as we were in waking, for all practical purposes of experience. We saw things, we encountered various phenomena, we were happy or unhappy, in the same way as we had such experience in the waking condition. So, it means that we can have, even independent of the body, the same kind of experience we have with the body, through the body, in terms of the body. The bodily existence or non-existence is not going to make a difference to the experiences of another layer of our personality which can independently exist and with which we can identify ourselves.
The phenomenon of dream demonstrates that we are more than a body and we can exist without the body. In dream we existed without any connection with the body, and we passed through all the experiences of waking independent of the body. The body was used only as an instrument, but it was not our real personality.
What are we, really? What do we discover when we probe into our own selves? We realize that we are a mind rather than a body. This is the reason why we are not satisfied even if we have plenty of money, a lot of food and clothing, large gardens and palatial buildings. With all these physical comforts, we cannot be satisfied, because we are not merely a physical body,- a son, a daughter. We are a mind; that is why we are unhappy. It is not that the body that is unhappy or is dissatisfied. It has everything, it eats well, it sleeps well, that is the difficulty with the body? Why is it that we are still unhappy ?
The unhappiness comes from the mind and not from the body. All our difficulties are mental, not so much physical Such emphasis is laid on this mental life of man that, it appears, compared to it, physical comfort is almost nothing. If our mind is satisfied, we will not bother much about physical amenities. There are various avenues of mental satisfaction which can overwhelm the requirements of even the physical body and this, again, does not require much of an analysis or study, for everyone knows what it means. If we are immensely happy for some reason which state has lifted us up from the physical level, we forget our breakfast and lunch and sleep, and everything else. Satisfaction is a mental condition.
We are happy for reasons otherwise than physical, and in some other world are we then. That world is a psychological world, a mental realm. If the mind is satisfied, the physical world can give us not much substance. We are all, in fact, searching for something psychical, intellectual, emotional, volitional, rational. If our reason is satisfied, the physical needs almost amount to a zero, but with all the physical amenities, if the reason is dissatisfied, they amount to a zero again. We are rational beings, rather than physical bodies.
This is an interesting observation that we make when we go deeper into our own personalities. We are minds, we are intellects, we are emotions, we are wills, and we are reasons. Until we satisfy the psychic nature of ours with its requirements, the physical world cannot make us happy with all the goods that it has. Nothing that is material can give us entire satisfaction. Material satisfaction is set at naught in a second by mental dissatisfaction. It is useless to harp upon physical needs too much, under the impression that they are the causes of our sorrows. The physical conditions are not the sources of anxiety. Our mental structure has not been provided with its needs, its requirements. The mind longs for some thing, in the same way as the body needs some thing, and the mental needs are more significant, more important than the physical ones.
The ego is a part of the psychic world. Our sense of individual being is not a physical sense. It is a psychic centre. “I am so-and-so, I am such-and- such,”-this kind of assertion is not a physical act, it is not the body making this affirmation. When you are annoyed, you say, “What do you think I am?” You look up, gazing at the other. “What do you think, you are?” These arrogant statements, arise not from the body, they are arrogations fuming up like a volcano from the psychic individuality within. It as asks for food in the same way we ask for bread for the body. The food of the ego is what people are asking for, and the ego has not been able to obtain it, with all the foods that one has physically, materially. The ego is starving, and so we are unhappy.
Man wants to swallow the whole world, if it could be possible. Behold the audacity of a dictator, a terrorising despot, or an out-and-out egoistic self-affirmative person. People whose ego is at its heights would like to masticate the world and digest it, so that they alone exist and other things do not exist before them. The desire of the ego is to destroy the world, because the affirmation of the ego is equivalent to an intolerance in regard to the presence of other egos. One ego cannot be the friend of another ego. It wants to destroy the other, somehow, and therefore one is irksome, much agitated if one sees another person like oneself. One wants to put down that person by some hook or crook. One cannot tolerate a person equal to oneself. The other must be inferior always, that is the glutting glory of the ego.
We may not be consciously feeling that the ego is there at all. But it is present as a secret urge. We are yet to see why the ego is operating in this manner. Why is this ego operating in this manner, that it cannot tolerate an other than itself? What is the devil that is working inside? What is the harm if another person also exists? But this is not possible for some important reason, which is outside the vision of ordinary observation. For some strange reason the ego cannot bear the sight of other egos. It cannot tolerate the presence of even the world outside, it wants to control it and subdue it and make it its own, superintend over it, and wants to be a master, this is the desire of the autocrats, the dominating rulers, the despots, the apotheosis of ego.
We have a tremendous world inside us. And it is not so simple as that. We are not the little persons we seem to be. We have a hidden submarine content inside our personalities. This is to give a short outline of the psychic world which is our area of functioning, and of which we are citizens. We are not citizens merely of this physical world. We are also inhabitants of the psychic world. Thus these is a psychic relationship of ours with other people, due to which we are, either this way or that way, related to this person or that person, positively or negatively, with pleasure, pain or indifference attending.
We are denizens of a psychic world and not merely of a social world of Indians and Americans, Russians and Japanese, etc. We are in a different world inwardly and that world is as much real as, if not more real than, the physical world. With the bare analysis that we have made, we can realize that the physical world is, before this psychic world, far less significant than the credit it receives. If the psychic world is well, the physical world follows suit with it. The physical values lose much of their significance before the insistences that are psychic, rational, intellectual and emotional. Perception, inference, doubt, memory, love, hatred, attachment to life, fear of death, are all phases of the psychic individuality.
This is an aspect of psychology, which reveals itself when we analyse ourselves deeper than our physical personality. The physical body is made up of the five elements-earth, water, fire, air, ether. All are that, I am that, and every one is that, even the tree is made up of these five elements, and the stone is that. Everything is just the five elements. So, materially, or physically, no difference can be observed among things. But we see difference among people. This has to be attributed not to the shapes of the bodies, but to the minds which are different in each individual. I do not think as you think, and you do not think as I think. That is why we are different persons. The psychic raw material makes all the difference, and is responsible even for the physical differences.
The difference is not the physical body, because the bodies are identical in structure. The same flesh, same blood, the same chemical compounds are present in every body, but there is a difference in the structure of thinking, the whirling of the mind is in different directions in different cases, the current of the movement of the mind varies in different individuals, because of the purposiveness with which the minds move,-an observation that we made in regard to living bodies,-and this changes even the nature of the physical components. The purposiveness or the intensive urge from within the psyche of an individual distinguishes it from others and from inanimate matter. There is a purpose behind the growth of even a tree, it moves in a particular direction and with an aim behind it. Every living being has as intention in the performance of its various functions and in as much as the intention varies from individual to individual, there are different individuals. We are different persons because we are different minds. And why are we different minds? Because a mind is nothing but a particular pattern of thinking. As the pattern of thinking varies, the mind varies, and therefore, people vary. And what is this pattern of thinking? It is a particular direction which the psyche takes, just as a river may take a particular direction. Because of the variety in the direction of movement of the psyche, there is difference in the intention. The direction and the intention are practically the same, because when the intention is of a particular mode, the mind moves in the same direction. Why is there difference in intention? Why should not all people think in the same way, in the world?
Why should we all think differently? Where is the necessity? What is the harm if we all think identically? This is not possible for the same reason which keeps one’s ego, intolerant of other egos. The ego which works in an affirmative manner intolerant of the presence of other egos is also the reason behind the variety in the intention behind the psyche which keeps everything always apart. I am ‘I’, you are ‘you’, ‘I mind my business’, ‘You mind your business’. This is the world. Is there a solution, a remedy for this malady?
We observed that our inner world is constituted of the psyche, it is a mental world, and that is the real world of ours, of which we are citizens primarily. We are nationals of a psychic world, more properly than the way in which we belong to the physical worlds of social beings. Our psychic apparatus is a complicated structure, because it has connections with almost everything in the world. It is like a main switch-board. We are not so much detached from things as we appear to be. There is a subterranean relationship between our inner contents and the whole cosmos outside. The moment we begin to enter the realm of Yoga practice, we also start operating upon our cosmic relationships. This is something important to remember. At present we believe that we are isolated individuals with no connection whatsoever with others. But meditation is adventure, which opens up a new vista before us and surprises us with our relationship which were not apparent in our waking work-a-day life.
Our mind is not made up of any simple substance. It is rather a process than an entity. It may be compared to electric energy, if we would like to associate it with something known to us. We cannot say that it is a substance, or a body, or something existing in one place. It is almost like a fluid. At present it pervades our entire body. That is why our thinking is connected with every part of the body. The whole body thinks, as it were, because of the pervasion of the body by the mind. This mind which is not an entity or a substance like physical objects, and appears to be a moving process is our inner working faculty. We live a psychic life, rather than a physical life. Our joys and sorrows are psychic and not physical. Our activities, also, are psychic. Physical activities are no activities if they are divested of the psychic content. It comes to this finally, that the mind is everything.
The whole is nothing but mind operating in mysterious ways, in its wondrous relationships of variegated types. Western psychology particularly distinguishes between three aspects of the psyche:- (1) Understanding, (2) willing, and (3) feeling. But in Eastern psychology, a further diversity of this content has been noticed. It has infinite varieties of expression but in the main outline we may say that our psyche consists of many functions on account of which it takes various names. Even these aspects of nomenclature as understanding, willing, feeling are the outcome of the different functions that one psyche performs.
When the psyche decides, by a clarity of grasp, upon a particular situation, we call it understanding. And the affirmation which follows the decision that is taken on the basis of the understanding of the situation is the will. Then something more significant takes place. When we understand that a thing is such-and-such, and we also decide to act upon this situation in a particular manner, our whole being reacts in a given proportion. That reaction is emotion. There is a welling up of our whole personality in regard to the existent situation outside. We begin to feel and not merely will or understand. Now, this activity of the psyche, in the form of understanding, willing and feeling, is rooted in what is usually known as the ego-principle. The ego is the faculty of self-assertiveness or self-affirmation. As a matter of fact, it precedes all other functions. Before we can understand, will or feel, we have to be sure that we exist. This certainty of the fact of our existing as an individual, is the activity of the ego. The word ego gets translated in various ways. When we generally speak of an egoistic person, we mean thereby a proud person, for instance. But the ego does not and need not necessarily mean ‘pride’. Pride is only a gross outer expression of it. Its essentiality is something subtle, far more invisible than the outer expression as the so-called pride of the individual. The ego is a sense of individual being, our confidence that we exist as individual independent of other individuals. The conscious confidence in us that we are isolated individuals, quite different, in every way, from others, is the ego-principle in its essentiality.
What, then, is the ego? It is a consciousness of our individual existence, isolated from other individuals. And this self-assertiveness concretises itself in various levels of our life. There are different kind of egos. There is a metaphysical ego; there is the psychic or purely volitional ego; there is the physical ego; there is the social ego, and, finally, it becomes the political ego. All these are expressions of a single impulse from inside to affirm oneself as distinct from others, to dominate over others, to absorb others into oneself. This desire to be distinct from others is the disease of man. It is a primary evil and Yoga psychology calls this principle of the ego, “Ahamkara.” This word, “Ahamkara”, is very interesting in its connotation. In the Sanskrit language, ‘Aham’ means ‘I’, ‘Kara’ means, ‘one who does’. One who causes everything to feel that it is, is the ego. It is that ‘which is developed from’ the sense if ‘self-consciousness’.
The ego does not rest quiet merely by an affirmation of itself. It becomes grosser, when it operates in external life, until it reaches the most concrete of its expressions.
The ego exists originally as a principle of awareness, a simple consciousness that one is. That is why it is then called the metaphysical ego. It simply “is”, but “is” as distinct from others. The consciousness of “I am” is the primordial empirical and it is the philosophical ego. Then, this simple principle of self-affirmation in its primary capacity of isolation begins to operate as the psyche which starts to think objects outside. It does not merely think of itself as an isolated being. It has become something worse now. In the beginning, it was content with being only aware of itself. Now it wants to be aware that ‘others are’. So, there is a further consequence following from the affirmation of oneself. If “I am”, others also are, as distinct from me. This distinction between oneself or one ego and others express itself as distinction between physical personalities. The physical ego is the bodily ego which identifies itself with the bodily encasement.
The ‘I-amness’ is not merely a consciousness of ‘my being’. It is also a consciousness of ‘others being’. It is a specific affirmation of this body as the “me” and a distinction drawn between this body and other bodies.
Then there are various social distinctions extending to almost endless details. We cannot even count how many social distinctions there are. There is a great variety of the differences that we draw between one and the other in our social life and we need not go into forms of these, because they are all obvious. Then there is the worst form of the ego, which intends to exercise authority, power, by way of political maneuvers, which may begin with one’s family management and in a desire for world-government by oneself, until the farthest limit of it is reached, wherein it seeks to affirm itself to the exclusion of others. One of the important features of the ego is, not merely self-affirmation and distinction of self from other selves, but a resentment of the presence of other selves.
This follows as a consequence of the structure of the ego. The self-affirmation of the ego is charged with a deep impulsion towards survival of itself at the cost of anything whatsoever in the world. If we believe in the doctrine of the survival of the fittest, the ego says, “I am the fittest and, so, I alone should survive, and nobody else.” Naturally, if every ego has this sense of the fittest in itself and if each one is the fittest, the consequence is a battle, and the wars that history records. These wars are nothing but the conflicts of egos, each ego, wishing to assert itself as the fittest, whether it is an individual ego or a group of egos. These create a chaos of circumstance and if one goes into the inner secret of the sorrows of life, one will realize that all these are rooted in the ego-principle. Understanding, willing, feeling, and the other psychological functions are the rays of the ego, which is the parent of all these manifestations.
We have heard that Yoga is ‘union’, a common definition that is given in all textbooks. But union with what, and who is to be in union with which substance, or reality? This cannot be made clear unless we know the basis of this definition itself. In our study of the objective world, we concluded that in the farthest analysis of the universe outside, we come face to face with the reality of the perceiver getting involved in the perceived, inasmuch as nature is a whole, a complete continuum, and the bifurcation of the seer and the seen is foreign to the structure of Nature. Nature in its wholeness may not even be aware that there are such things as the seer and the seen, even as we cannot say that the right hand is the seer of the left hand or the left hand is the seer of the right hand in one’s own body. These appellations would not apply to an organisation of parts which belong to a whole, in an inseparable manner.
Under the circumstance that in the end a distinction between the seer and the seen cannot be drawn, because of the fact that such a distinction does not exist, and also under the circumstance that the distinction between the seer and the seen is really made in practical life, there is seen a contradiction between practical life and life as it really is. Our present way of living is far removed from the truth of life in its essentiality. We make a marked distinction between the seer and the seen, by the operation of the psychic apparatus. The mind thinks the object, the object is outside the mind, which means that the object seen is different from the mind that sees it. We are so sure that this is the case, that we work in the world with the certainty that the world is outside the mind, that the seer is completely cut of from the seen.
But his is not going to be a lasting conclusion in the event of a further analysis of the deeper structure of life. Reality is quite different from what we with our eyes or even what we think with our minds. What we see with our eyes is not reality, and what we think and understand is also not reality. So, Yoga, when it is defined as union, should naturally be understood in the sense of the union of the seer and the seen, because the seer and the seen cannot be isolated. If they are really different, there cannot be a knowledge of the seen by the seer. In this connection there is an important theme discussed in philosophical circles, known as “The theory of knowledge.”
How do we know the world? How are we aware that things are? This is a vast subject which takes into deep waters. We cannot easily explain how we are aware that the world is there at all. This awareness takes us by surprise, we suddenly become aware that there is a world. The way in which we become aware of the world is comparable to the way in which we wake up from sleep. We are fast asleep, where we are oblivious of everything. When we wake up, we have only a general awareness of our having woken up. We become aware that there is no sleep, sleep has gone, and there is a general awareness without knowledge of details of either this or that particular fact. After this, the general awareness concretises itself, we begin to feel that we are, we become conscious of our own self, after some time. But we will not be much aware of the things outside, the table and the chairs etc.; even the windows and the doors we will not see properly, because we have just woken up from sleep. We do not know even the exit from the room, sometimes, because of the deepness of the sleep. There are deep-sleepers who often perch upon the window, thinking it is the door, and hit their head against it; so deep was the sleep.
Well, the point is that we become aware of ourselves first, only later we know things outside. After we become aware that things are outside, we become also aware of what those things are. From a general knowledge of things, we reach to the specific knowledge of things. “It is not merely some things in a featureless bareness that are in front of me, but this is a chair, this is a table, this is a wall clock, this is a person.” Then, the awareness becomes more specified. “This is my son, this is my daughter this is my friend, this is so-and-so”, etc. Then it becomes further more expressed in the form of an impulse to action with regard to the things seen. This is also, in a way, the process of the creation of the world.
What happened cosmically must have been something like this individual phenomenon that we pass through every day after we wake up from sleep. The point at issue is, how do we become conscious of the world? We become conscious of the world by an expansion of our consciousness gradually from our selves outside. What is this ‘outside’? The so-called ‘outside’ is the world, really speaking. The world is not constituted of mountains and trees, human beings, cows and asses.
These are not the world. The world is an ‘outsideness’ of things, the externality, the so-called ‘thingness’ in all things, a peculiar separation of one thing from another, and this feature becoming a content of our consciousness. The consciousness of externality is the world. If this externality were not to be there, there would be no world.
If there is no space between you and me, we would not see each other, and space and time go together. If the one is, the other also is there. So, the space-time structure is the world. What we call the world is nothing but space-time. If this were not to be there, there would be no externality of perception, and if the externality were not to be there, there would be no world-experience. World-experience is nothing but externality of experience. If we are to somehow divest ourselves of the consciousness of externality of every kind, we will ‘enter’ into the world at once, and the world will ‘enter’ into us. The whole problem is of the externality of space-time, and we are given here a lot of information in the theories of knowledge of the various schools of philosophy, as to how we become aware of things outside. The things are not really outside, that is the point. That they are not outside should be clear from the analysis of Nature itself. Things form one organic whole. We cannot say that our leg is outside our body, notwithstanding the fact that we are seeing it. Merely looking at things cannot be regarded as a proof of their externality, because I see even my fingers, but I do not say that they are outside me.
The outsideness of a thing arises on account of a distinction between the consciousness of the seer and the existence of the seen. We begin to feel that our consciousness is different from others’ being. When we speak of the distinction between the seer and the seen, we actually mean a distinction between beings in their essentiality. But , how does one know that another being exists? The space or the time content between us cannot be the cause of this perception. An undercurrent of consciousness is necessary. If there is not going to be a secret connection of consciousness between me and you, I cannot know that you are sitting in front of me. The wind that is blowing on my face through the fan that is moving cannot be the cause of my awareness that you exist. The wind has no consciousness, it cannot make me know that you are. Nothing that is visible to our eyes, as that which exists between me and you, can be considered a cause of my knowledge that you are. There is nothing, practically, between you and me, there is only empty space. How do I know that you are there? This is a strange phenomenon. My eyes, physically constituted as they are, are spatially cut off from your physical existence; you are not sitting inside my eyes. How do I know that you are and how do you know that I am here? Nothing that is visible to the eyes can be regarded as a cause of the perception of an object.
We may say, there is the mind, and we have finally to bank upon this aspect of our being. The mind is thinking that you are. But, then, where is the mind? Where is it situated? Mostly, we think that it is inside our body. My mind is inside my brain or at least within my body, it cannot be outside. Now, if my mind is inside my body, naturally it cannot be of any help to me in my knowing that you exist; because, you outside me, at least a few yards away from me, and the mind is inside my body, it has not gone out. But if you say, that, perhaps the mind is going out and is touching the bodies of others, and then it becomes aware, it would be curious that the mind can exceed the borders of the body. Why speak of people before me, I know even that there is a sun shining in the sky, 93 million miles away from me. Does it mean that the mind is extending 93 million miles outside my body? If we accept this doctrine that the perception of the object is due to the operation of the mind and the mind has to touch that object in order that one may become aware of the object, than the mind should reach the stars, which are several light-years away. This is a revelation, indeed.
If this is a fact, the mind is not our mind merely, it is a mind that reaches upto the distant space, the stars, or whatever it is; if we do not accept this theory, we cannot explain how we are aware that the stars are shining in the sky. This is a tentative answer to this pressing pragmatic question. But more important than this issue is the thing that follows. What is mind? Is the mind capable of knowing that things exist outside? We have said so much about the mind, but what is mind? What is it made of? Provisionally accepting the position that the mind know objects, we have to attribute the mind with some sort of consciousness; because knowing an object is the same as being aware of the object, and if the mind is aware of the object, it is conscious. It cannot be an inert substance.
The mind has to be charged with some kind of consciousness, in the same way, perhaps,-to give a prosaic example,-as a copper wire may be charged with electricity. We need not say that the wire is the same as electricity; the two are quite different things. But the wire is filled with the flow of electricity, on account of which we call it a live wire. If the electricity were not to be there, it becomes an ordinary wire; on which we can hang a wet cloth for drying. It is to be accepted that the mind has to be endowed with some consciousness. If that also is not conceded, the chance of knowing anything does not arise. It should follow that the mind is inseparably connected with consciousness. It has to be pervaded by consciousness, and, so, my being aware that you are in front of me is due to the movement of consciousness towards you, even in the intermediary space between you and me.
This conclusion that consciousness is not limited to the body but is also outside the body follows from another interesting analysis that we can make. We cannot set a limit to consciousness. We cannot say that consciousness is here and not there. Because, to be conscious that consciousness is limited, consciousness has to be outside the limit at the same time. Who is to know that consciousness is limited? It is consciousness itself that knows. The awareness of the limitation of awareness is also a function of awareness. So, the boundary that is tentatively set to a state of awareness is also a content of awareness. One cannot be aware that there is a limit to consciousness, unless consciousness has exceeded that limit. To imagine that there is division between two parts of consciousness would be to assume that there is consciousness even midway between the two assumed parts of consciousness. Otherwise, who is to be aware that there is a gap between two parts of consciousness? The awareness of a gap between two parts of consciousness is also awareness and, therefore, there cannot be a gap in consciousness, which means that consciousness is indivisible.
If consciousness has no parts, it is indivisible, and so all-pervading. It is infinite in its nature. The presence of the infinitude of consciousness is the reason behind the mind being aware that there are objects. But where comes the question of an outside if there is a pervasion of all things by consciousness? There is an error in the perception of externality in things. If the consciousness that knows things is indivisible, and exists everywhere as subject and object, there must be definitely some mistake in our seeing or apprehending things as if they are outside us. This mistake is introduced into our perception by the operation of space and time.
Meditation is the art of transcending space and time. The moment this is affected, we enter into an infinitude of consciousness. By the various techniques of meditation, we overcome the barrier that is created between us and the objects by the action of space-time. The moment we think of an object, we think of it as it is existent in space and in time. The methods of Yoga are the ways of defying the operation of space-time and effecting a union between the subject and the object, the seer and the seen, in their essentiality. In their outward forms, they are distinct, names and forms differ, but the essentiality of the things does not so differ. The content does not vary, only the shape differs. Thus in all processes of the practice of Yoga, one thing alone is aimed at, viz., the union of consciousness with being.
There is a single Yoga, ultimately, taking forms on account of the difference in the structural patterns of minds. Just as one would like a sweet dish, another a saltish dish, etc., but it makes no difference to the fact that all partake of food for a common purpose, likewise, the essentiality behind meditations is the same, though the outer focus differs due to the needs of the minds of the individuals in the different stages of evolution in which they find themselves. Yoga is union, yes. It is the union that is necessary for beholding things as they really are and for outgrowing the erroneous awareness of the apparent duality of things. Our weakness, physical or psychological, are the outcome of our dissociation from things.
Strength is the necessary consequence of a union of ourselves with things. Energy is abundant in Nature. The universe is full of power, it has infinite resources. It is never poor. It is always rich. There is no poverty in the world in its true nature. But we look poor socially, physically, mentally, in every way. We are helpless beings and forlorn. This situation arises because we have blocked the avenues of the entry of forces of Nature into ourselves by the activities of the sense-organs. The senses are our enemies, if at all there are enemies anywhere, because they present us with a picture of the world, which is not really there. The friends and foes that we see in the world are the concoctions of the ego and the sense-organs. The five elements we see are also the reports given to us by the five senses. There are no five elements, there is one element only everywhere, appearing in different densities of expression.
The world is seen or known in five different ways because of the five way in which the senses work. To give an example, electric energy is common everywhere. But, when it passes through a refrigerator, it cools; when it passes through a stove, it heats; when it passes through a railway train, it moves. The various functions of electric energy are due to the instruments through which it is made to operate; likewise is Nature. It is neither sound, nor touch, nor colour, nor taste, nor smell. There are no such things as that in Nature. But our senses abstract certain features of Nature and then become cognisant of these specified features and one sense tells us that it is smell, another that it is colour, and a third something else. If we had a hundred sense-organs, perhaps, we would have seen a hundred things in the world. Now we have, thank God, only five senses, and we see only five things. If we had only one sense, we would have seen only one thing. The sense-organs create a quintuplication of perception, where there is only a uniform reality.
Firstly, the senses deceive us into the belief that things are outside. Then there is a further deception into the belief that here are five different objects. That objects are outside is mistake enough; that there are five different things is a worse form of it. In our practices known as Yoga, we have, therefore, to tackle a fivefold operation and then the mind which tells us that the world is outside us. The whole of Yoga hinges upon the operation upon the senses and the mind in such a manner as to enable us to overcome the awareness of externality and its outcome as the fivefold perception through the senses. The task is undertaken either directly or in the revere order, as is one’s predilection.
Thus, Yoga leads is to a kind of operation which is not merely individualistic. It is a common affair to all people. There is no such thing as my Yoga or your Yoga. We are all in the same boat, our problems are common stock, we are in the same difficulty and we have to seek for the same remedy. Yoga is a common need that will be felt by every individual. It is neither a religion, nor a creed; it is a need of life, as the breath we breathe. Yoga is the science of existence. It neither belongs to the West nor to the East. It is neither Hindu, nor Christian, nor Muslim. It is not any religion at all. It is the very fact of the essential structure of human existence.
(To be continued)