The Mother Divine
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by Swami Krishnananda

Part 2

In philosophical style we generally say the knowing principle is visayi chaitanyaVisayi is one who knows the visaya or the object. The object itself is called visaya chaitanya. Consciousness that is embodied in the form of an object outside is visaya chaitanya. Consciousness that is embodied in the perceiving subject is visayi chaitanya. Now, the visayi or the visaya, the knower or the known, cannot come in contact with each other unless there is a medium, that medium being called pramana chaitanya, the instrument of knowing. The pramana is perception, inference, verbal testimony, comparison, and so on, as theories of knowledge tell us. These instruments, these media that we adopt in knowing the objects vary from person to person, from condition to condition and from one state of feeling and emotion to another state of feeling and emotion.

The Yoga Sutras particularly are before us as a great guide in understanding what true religious awareness can be. There is a sutra of Patanjali: kṣīṇavṛtteḥ abhijātasye iva maṇeḥ grahītṛ grahaṇa grāhyeṣu tatstha tadañjanatā samāpattiḥ (Y.S. 1.41). Grahītṛ grahaṇa grāhyeṣu are terms used for the knower who is the visayi, the known that is the visaya, and the medium of knowledge which is grahana, the pramana chaitanya. They coalesce into a single mass of existence. The object that is out there in order to be known, and the subject which is here that knows the object, and also the medium of knowledge which covers the distance existing between the knower and the known, melt down together into a pool of awareness. They may become a veritable sea of awareness. It is also called a level of God-consciousness. The religious consciousness is also one degree of God-consciousness. The similarity between these levels is in the comprehensiveness which characterises a particular level, the comprehensiveness being the capacity of the knower to absorb the existence and characteristics of the object into itself.

Scriptures describe degrees of knowledge. These degrees of knowledge are just degrees of God-consciousness. God-consciousness is the same as a degree of universal consciousness. The universal need not necessarily mean the ultimate universal. The brihat samanya or the ultimate samanya is, of course, the final universality, which is what we call God Himself – the That which Is. But the manifestation of God can be seen in lesser levels also, where the gulf between the seer and the seen gets diminished gradually, and in a more condensed and concretised form of the union of the subject with the object, this universal can be explained. The more we feel in our own selves an affinity of ourselves with the object of our knowledge, the more are we religious, the more are we spiritual. The less do we feel the vital connection between ourselves and another, the less are we religious and the less are we spiritual. Usually, we have no religious consciousness in our daily life. There is nothing of the spirituality there because there is another separation of ourselves from everybody else. There is not merely a gulf, so to say; there is a severe cutting off of the very vitality of connection of one with the other in our daily life, so that I have nothing to do with you and you have nothing to do with me. We can live independently so far as we go.

This total independence that we assert in our life and the simultaneous adoption on our part of a non-connection with objects outside is the opposite of the requirement of a religious consciousness. Friendliness is supposed to be a good quality, but it is only an ethical manifestation in society of an inward necessity to be at one with the existence and characteristic of an object. Mostly, moral instructions and ethical mandates are social exercises forcefully imposed upon us in terms of an inward undercurrent of uniformity that exists among all beings, and in as much as this uniformity is not visible to the eyes though it is there inwardly, we outwardly impose the characteristic of this inward connection by way of an outward injunction of codes of law, rules, regulations, etc. Anyway, mere rules and regulations will not work because they are like the blind movements of an intention inside, and the intention has to become self-conscious. Unconscious intentions do not work, finally.
Hence, when we take to spiritual life or religion as such wholeheartedly, we have to first of all be clear in our minds as to the background of the rise of this knowledge in us: What do we actually seek when we wish to be religious, and what do we actually mean when we say it is the God of the universe that we actually are in search of? And, while this psychological affirmation is clear enough, to what extent is it put into practice in our daily life? The understanding has gradually to sink into the feeling, that is, the understanding of our intellect asserting the necessity of our being ethically and practically in communion with others. This awareness that is consciously operating in our mind during waking life should enter into the feeling, and we must not merely understand it but feel a living connection of ourselves with the atmosphere, the environment around us.

Our love for people should not be an instruction put into practice. It should be a necessity we feel in our own selves. It is not a scripture that is being quoted and then implemented; it is a feeling that arises in our own selves as a manifestation of the wider self that we basically are. The religions that people practice in the world are the forms taken by the basic religious consciousness, which is an asking for a more than what we are, a greater than what we are, a larger than what we possess, and to the extent we are never satisfied with what we are and feel dissatisfied with everything that we have, to that extent we may be said to be religiously awakened.

The saints tell us that it is necessary for us to be satisfied with what we have but we should not be satisfied with what we are. Mostly in ordinary life we feel satisfied with what we are, and pat ourselves on our back. But we are never satisfied with what we have. There is a desire to possess external property, belongings, not knowing the fact the desire for external possessions is inversely proportional to our inward condition. The more we are poor inside, the more we wish to be richer outside. The grabbing of material wealth or possession of any kind is an indication of the inner poverty of the individual. The richness inside has been extinguished completely by the wind of desire for external things.

The awareness of a religious goal inside us is also simultaneously an awareness for a self-satisfying principle within our own selves. We are complete in ourselves. Religious consciousness is also a consciousness of completeness, self-sufficiency and self-adequacy in every way. That is, we accept as a spiritual principle that the potentials for the fulfilment of all our longings are present in our own selves. Every human being is a miniature cosmos. Inasmuch as we are a cross-section of the whole universe, everything that we can find in the universe we can find in our own selves.

In fact, we are not a miniature. To say that also is an understatement of facts. We appear to be a mini universe because of the limitation of our knowledge to this particular body, as a vast sky may appear limited to a small cup when we look at that little cup encasing the vast space within its little walls. We know very well that space is not limited by buildings. Walls cannot limit space. Yet, we may feel that there is a little space. That is, the littleness of spatiality arises on account of the enclosures, like the walls, etc. So we feel miniature, mini-brahmand or a small cross-section of things, due to our interpretation of our own selves in terms of this bodily existence. We can never forget this body at any time, under any circumstance. It goes with us as a dog follows us. There are great examples that even in the heights of religious pursuits the body has persisted, and the bodily demands are felt even at levels which we should consider as far beyond human understanding. Hunger and thirst and the fear of death, which constitute the basic essentials of physical clambering, do not leave us easily.
Hence, yoga exercises also give us a caution at the same time that we should transcend the body but not reject the body. We should transcend society but not reject society. We should transcend the world but not reject the world. And a distinction has to be drawn between rejections and transcending. Transcendence is mastery that we gain over a thing to such an extent that it no more torments us. We are not its slaves any more. At present, we are to some extent slaves of this body and the whims and fancies of the mind. We are slaves, and as long as we are slaves of it we cannot reject it. No servant can reject that of which he is a subject. Transcendence is control over that which originally subjected us to its own rules and laws.

The physical body, social relations and the world as a whole stand before us and we have to give them an answer. Your body, society, and the whole world will ask you, “What are you going to do with me?” Are you going to tell the body “I kick you out” and tell society “I care a fig for you” and tell the world “Go to the dogs”? You cannot say that.

The religious awakening is a gradual blossoming of the flower of the longing for perfection. It is a fructification of life into a beautiful edible fruit of overcoming the limitations to which we were originally subject. Overcoming limitations is quite different from rejecting the limitations that are there. A consciousness of limitation cannot be abandoned, cannot be rejected. As long as that limitation is a part of one’s consciousness, it is a reality. A reality is that which consciousness accepts as reality. You may say this body is not real and the world also is not real, but what is the use of saying that? Your consciousness has to feel and affirm. This is something to be carefully noted. The consciousness of perception has to be convinced that this body is not real, but it cannot so easily feel this as long as it is involved in the body. A person who is involved in the condition cannot control that condition. You can stand outside the condition and then be a master of it. You cannot control anything if you are involved in that particular thing itself. So if you are involved in this body, and to the extent you are involved in human society, to the extent you are involved in the laws of nature, there is no question of abandoning them.

The world cannot be renounced so long as you belong to the world. You cannot renounce that to which you belong. It is a contradiction in terms. When you stand outside of nature, when you get out of the body and look at it as an object in the same way as you look at other things in the world, can you look at this body as an object? Can you stand outside of it? And can you stand outside society and behold society as something totally external to you so that you do not belong to society? Can you stand outside the world and then look at the world as an object? Then you can renounce the world, renounce society, and renounce this body also. As long as you are in society, vitally controlled by it, and also controlled by the bodily requirements and the natural laws of the world, they are not to be abandoned.

Actually, in religion, in spirituality, there is no such thing as abandoning or rejecting because the idea of abandoning or rejecting arises due to a false notion that what is real is actually not there. How can you say that a real thing is not there? A real thing is certainly there; only an unreal thing is not there. And a real thing cannot be rejected; an unreal thing need not be rejected. Nāsato vidyate bhāvo nābhāvo vidyate sataḥ, ubhayor api dṛṣṭo.antas tv anayos tattvadarśibhiḥ (Gita 2.16). This is a warning given to us in the Bhagavad Gita that which your consciousness affirms as a reality is to be gradually transcended by meditational processes, and not emotionally rejected. No one can renounce the world who has not renounced himself. First you renounce yourself, and then you can renounce the world. Together with it, the world goes also. But if you stand as a solid individual as you were before – inside the world physically, materially and bodily – how will you extricate yourself from the clutches of the world?

Religion or spirituality is a gradual growth into stages of perfection. It is not a sudden jump into the skies. It is the fulfilment of the requirements of every level of existence, all degrees of reality, slowly. It may take many lives to achieve this purpose. If we have to take many lives, so be it. It does not matter, provided that we get a pass mark in every level through which we pass and no jump is attempted at any level.

Hence, the physicality of the body, the reality of human society and artharthi nature of the whole physical existence also have to be taken into consideration and they have to be transcended by experience, and not rejected by feeling. The great scriptures of the world are guides. The Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the New Testament and the other great writings of Masters like the Sufi saints and saints and sages of India, and their lives themselves are before our eyes as guidelines to live a spiritual life. Without a good guide, without a Master either in the form of a scripture or a person, it will be hard to tread the path of Spirit, which is religion, which is spirituality.

Slow is the movement, as is the movement of a growing tree. Slow-growing trees are also mature in equal proportion. The toughest timber comes from slow-growing trees. The quickly growing tall trees are not so tough as rosewood, for instance. In a similar manner, excessive enthusiasm in religious life is not called for. A persistence and tenacity and ardour in practice is necessary, but not overestimation of oneself. The tax payable at every check post is also to be paid, and the check posts are this body, human society, and the whole world at large. Pay your dues and then cross the border, and then you are free.