SRI SWAMI KRISHNANANDA
This article is a chapter from the book "Sadhana-The
The "mind" is a name given to the policy of affirming
one's finitude. The assertion of individuality is known as "mind." It is a
pressure exerted upon the limitedness of our personality, and there is no
such thing as mind independently existing, as we may imagine it to be.
Childlike considerations may form the opinion that the
mind is something moving inside the body, like a ball of mercury changing
its position frequently, within the body only. No such thing is the mind.
It cannot be located as "something." It is, to explain it precisely, the
body asserting itself: "I am." This body feels "it is." That vehement
feeling of physical existence is termed the "mind" for purpose of easy
Fickleness is the nature of the mind. It will never occupy
a particular position because the physical affirmation spoken of is a
tantalizing phenomenon, not sure of itself. The body does not finally know
what it wants; that is to say, the mind, so-called, does not know what it
wants. This is so because there is a contradiction between the affirmation
of individuality through the physical body, and the infinite longings that
seem to be there, lying at the back of the personality. The infinite
longing contradicts the finite affirmation and, therefore, life is before
us as a great contradiction.
Everywhere we see problems, and no problem is finally
capable of solution. Kings and ministers, statesmen, work hard throughout
their lives to solve the problems of life. But they go, and the problems
remain, because life is constituted of an insoluble contradiction.
Inasmuch as the very basis of our existence is contradiction, no one can
find a solution to it.
But, is there not a way? The very longing within us is a
pointer to the problem capable of solution. Our longings are so firm, so
convincing, so irrefutable, so unrelenting that we seem to be enshrining
within our own selves a non-finite impulse simultaneously with the finite
impulse of bodily affirmation.
The control of the mind is, therefore, equal to the
finding of the relation between the finite and the Infinite. Great
persistence, great understanding and capacity to discriminate is here
called for. Ancient masters and seekers of truth, to one of whom I made
reference yesterday, had their own way of solution. Sometimes the
solutions seem to be very humorous, but very practical. The mind has to be
handled in an intelligent manner, but persistently.
When we drive a nail continuously on the wall, without
changing the spot, with the determination to drive the nail into the wall,
it will go inside and yield to our pressure. But, if we strike at one
place and find a brick, at another place a stone, in a third place
something else, we will not succeed in driving the nail at all.
In a similar manner, several methods have to be adopted in
a continuous determination to achieve a purpose. This determination takes
various phases of expression. It is not that everyone can manifest this
determination in the same way. There is a world under every hat, they say,
and there is a different type of solution within every individual. My
solution is not yours, and yours is not somebody else's. Peculiarity,
novelty, and a kaleidoscopic character of the method to be adopted,-all
these are some of the features of spiritual determination. There are some
stories of humorous instances adopted by great saints and sages. We will
be inclined to laugh at these analogies, but they are very practical and
prove very useful.
There was a great saint called Swami Narayana. His
followers are very large in the area of Gujarat, though he hailed from
Uttar Pradesh. One day he observed some villagers struggling with a cow.
They were unable to milk it because it was giving a kick the moment
anybody approached it. They could not go near the cow. Whenever it felt
that somebody was coming near it, it would kick with its foot.
Swami Narayana was not only a saint but also a seeker in
himself. He told these villagers, "I shall find a way of stopping this
kicking." He took a long stick and, sitting a little away from the cow,
slowly touched the cow's leg with that stick; it gave a kick immediately.
After a few seconds he again touched it; it gave another kick. He sat
there for the whole day, without taking food from morning to evening,
doing only one work, -touching the leg of the cow with the stick. To the
surprise of all the people who were witnessing this phenomenon, for a
continuous twelve hours, this touching went on. How long will the cow give
a kick? It is also a living being. It got fed up, tired, and stopped
kicking. Then he told them to milk the cow; it never kicked afterwards.
The mind is turbulent in some way of this kind. It has to
be treated in the same way as the swami treated the cow. Whatever
we say, the mind will not agree. It has its own voice and something else
to say, quite different from what we are wanting it to do. If we say, "Do
this," it will say, "No, I will do another thing."
There was a couple, husband and wife. The wife always did
the opposite of what the husband said. If he said, "Today will you prepare
some good meal with coconut?" she would say, "No, I will not use coconut."
She would make a thin, watery dal(lentils) and give him. Then, he
would say, "Today I am not feeling well, so don't make any dish. I want
only a little thin watery dal." "No, I will make a good dish for
you," she said, and she made a sumptuous meal, and he took it. "Today some
venerable guests are coming," he said; "Will you cook some good meal for
them?" She said, "No, I will not. I will give only water to the guests."
Then, after some days, when the visitors were actually expected, he told
the wife, "Today I am not expecting anybody and I don't think any special
meal is necessary." "No, I will make a very good meal for twenty people,"
she said, and she cooked twenty people's food; the visitors came and they
This is what the mind is telling us: "I will not listen to
you. You may say anything, but I have some other way." How will you deal
with it? Use the same way as the husband or Swami Narayana handled the
Sometimes, we may have failure when offering a frontal
attack to the mind. A direct attack is not always going to be a success
even in military operations. Great wisdom is to be exercised. We have to
retreat, we have to move forward, we have to become invisible for some
time, if necessary.
There was a fierce bull. If it saw any human being from a
distance, it would make a hissing noise through its nose. There was a
gentleman who decided to control that bull. How will he control it, if he
cannot go near it? What he did was that he built a fence around that
fierce bull. Now, one step for success has been taken, -the bull cannot go
outside the limit of the fence. Previously, it could roam anywhere and
attack anyone on the road; now it cannot go, because a fence is there.
Likewise, do to the mind. It goes everywhere, roaming throughout the
world, wanting anything and rejecting anything. Put a fence over it:
within this limit only it must operate. Give it whatever it wants within
the limitation; do not deny everything.
The bull was within the fence. The next step was that the
gentleman took a bundle of green grass, thrust his hand through the wire
fence and showed the bull the grass. The bull slowly came near. The man
knew very well the ferocity of the bull, -he could not touch it. But,
because of the grass, it forgot the man outside and was thinking only of
the grass. He fed it every day; daily feeding it with grass was his only
work, so that the bull became acquainted with the personality of this
individual. Every day it was seeing the same person. Then, with or without
the grass he could gently touch the bull's forehead, and it would just
look up. Then he lessened the circle of the fence and made it more
restricted, so that it was not more than a few square yards; he could go
on patting the bull with his hand continuously, and feeding it with green
The acquaintance became so intense that the bull started
slowly licking the hand of the gentleman. It developed an affection for
him. Previously, fierce it was; animosity was its nature. It became
friendly because of this affectionate treatment; it yielded to his touch.
Then he removed the fence and went near it with the grass. Without the
fencing he went near it, touched it, gave the grass, patted it on the
head, and even sat on its back. Can you imagine the success, to the
surprise of all people?
The ways of saints, the methods adopted by masters and
seekers of yore, are very interesting. They are not always logically
rigid, but a beautifully construed methodology of handling the mind.
I have told you many years back, perhaps, a Sufi saint's
story. There was a great mystic called Jalaluddin Rumi in the Middle Ages.
He had many followers. He recited an instance of how a person can change
himself by changing his circumstances. There was a Sufi guru who had
several followers and disciples, many of whom were poor Arabs, but very
devoted to their master. One of them came in the early morning to pay
homage to his master. The master asked, "How are you, my dear boy?"
"Master, I am living in hell."
"What is the trouble with you?"
"I have one room only, which is a small area where I have
my family, my wife and two children. There inside I cook my food. I have a
camel which brays continuously, and there is a dog barking all night. We
cannot sleep. You can imagine our condition. Don't you think, Master, that
this is veritable hell?".
The master said, "There is no problem; I can solve this
The obedience of disciples to the master was so amazing,
especially in ancient times, that they would not argue with the guru.
Though his suggestions may look funny, irrational, and sometimes unusual,
the devotion and submission to the guru supersedes rationality. The
guru told the disciple, "Tonight you tie the dog inside your house
when you go to bed." The man could not understand what kind of solution
this was, but obedience is obedience.
The dog made matters worse. It went on barking inside the
room and howled throughout the night. Nobody slept even for a minute. The
disciple went to the guru the next morning. The guru The man
said, "I cannot say anything. It is worse than construed hell. The dog did
not allow us to sleep."
"There is a solution for it. You have got a camel? Tie it
"He thought, "What is this? Am I going to be alive?" But
the guru is guru, and he did not say a word against him. He
tied the camel inside the room. There was no space to sit. The camel
occupied the entire area, making kicks and jumps, and the dog was barking
also, the fireplace was giving sparks, the children were crying, the wife
was standing only, and he was also sitting.
The next morning he went to the guru and said, "I
cannot speak, Master. I am dying today. I think it is the last day for me.
I thought it was hell; this is worse than hell."
"I will find a solution for it," the guru said.
"Tie the camel out; put the dog also out."
He slept very well that night, - no noise, no disturbance
of any kind. The next morning he went to the guru. The guru
asked, "How are you?"
"Heaven, heaven!" he said.
"Heaven? Hey! You came to me in the beginning, saying it
is hell. Now how has it become heaven?" he asked. "Do not complain."
The mind is a great mystery. It can deceive you every
moment and tell you everything is wrong, -nothing is good anywhere,
everybody is foolish, the world is a devil's abode and it is better to be
rid of it. It will go on telling all kinds of things; yet, till the last
moment of your breath, the desire to live long will not leave you. You may
be a patient with incurable disease, utterly poverty stricken, but you
would like to continue the existence in this body as much as possible.
Nobody would like to abolish the personality, destroy one's individuality,
negate one's existence.
What is it that you are longing for? Stories of this kind,
analyses of this nature, will tell you that again here is a contradiction
in your life. Your opinion about people and the world, and sometimes about
your own predicament, contradicts the endless longing that you maintain
within yourself for anything and everything. Death is a terror. Nothing
can be worse than that, because it is the end of your existence. You will
tolerate the end of anything that you possess, but you cannot tolerate the
end of your being.
So, your affection centralises itself later on into a
pin-pointed existence of your own location: "I must be; I do not want
anything else. Let the world go, let all things leave me, but may I live
long, may I persist, may I exist for ever and ever."
Who generates this feeling of endless longing, if not that
which is your real nature? What kind of longing is this? In the beginning
it is very nebulous and not clear to your mind. That is why you cannot
answer the question of why you want to live long. There is no why for it;
it is there, and it has to be accepted. For the final issue, there is no
why. Whatever be your situation in this world, you would like to live for
any number of years. Even if you are granted a blessing of ten thousand
years of living, that cannot satisfy you because when you are completing
the tenure of 9,999 years, the fear will strike you that only one year is
left, -as powerful as the fear of death would be if you were to pass away
earlier. So, length in life is not the solution, because how long will
that length of life continue? It will end one day.
When the great seeker Nachiketas was offered longest life
and all the glories of the world by the great master Yama, Nachiketas'
reply was: api sarvam jivitam alpameva, tavaiva vahas tava nrityagite:
"The longest life is short when it comes to an end." There is no such
thing as long life because when it ends, it is short. So, what do you mean
by saying that you want to live long?
Here again is a psychological contradiction before us.
Actually, what insists on our continuing for a long time is not this body
calling for a persistent existence, because the mind is clever enough to
know that the body cannot last long. But, it wants to accumulate certain
features that will give it the satisfaction of living long.
The central feature of this longing is the longing to have
our own selves. "Know thyself and be free." Though we hear these
admonitions a hundred times, we will make the common mistake of
identifying the Self with this so-called person seated here: "Let me know
my Atman (Self)." You will say "my Atman," as if you are going to possess
it as a property. If the Atman is to be possessed by you, it stands
outside you, like an object, like any other thing in the world. If you are
going to possess the Atman, then who are you? Other than the Atman is the
anatman. Anatman is nonexistence. Is non-existence trying to
possess existence? Here is again a contradiction in our thinking.
Great discrimination, vairagya, is called for.
Easily do we mistake the principle of vairagya. So many Sadhus
(renunciates) are there, so many vairagis are there. They have all
renounced everything. You may ask a vairagi: You have renounced
everything; what are the things that you have renounced?
The immediate, quick reply may be: "I possess nothing. I
have left everything that I had earlier. I have left the world; therefore,
I have completed my renunciation."
If you have abandoned the world, where are you standing
now? Are you sitting in the sky? Standing on the ground that is the earth,
you are saying that you have renounced it. The world blows a breeze of
various types on your personality every moment, saying that you cannot
renounce the world, unless you renounce yourself first. The renouncer has
to renounce himself, so that the renunciation may become complete.
But where is the meaning in renouncing one’s own self? If
the self is renounced, what remains? This difficulty will suddenly take
possession of our own selves. There is really no such thing as
renunciation of anything, because nothing in the world really belongs to
you. How can you renounce a thing which has not actually become your
property? Are you renouncing somebody else's belongings? The world is not
under your control; therefore, how will you renounce it?
Here, renunciation has to be understood in the spirit that
is within it. Renunciation is not an abandonment in the literal sense of
the word, but a spirit that is maintained within, -a spirit of not
belonging to anything, and a spirit of nothing actually belonging to one's
own self. In this process of the determination of the spirit, the world
stands united with you because of the fact that you are made of the same
substance as the world of nature.
All humanity is inside you, with you, within you, and has
taken possession of you. The principle of every individual in the world is
inside you also, so that on different occasions you can manifest the
character of any person in this world. Anything is inside you; only the
proper button has to be pushed. All humanity is potentially present inside
you. The world is potentially present inside you, inside in the sense of
that personality of yours which is clubbed with the whole nature at the
same time, and not this Mr. So-and-so personality.
Here is the difficulty that the mind will encounter every
day. We cannot think in this manner because our education is purely
empirical, outwardly motivated, and physically conditioned. But you stand
a master of all things by renunciation, in the sense of belonging to the
whole world,-the world belonging to you, and you yourself belonging to the
world. The world stands, including all personalities and all individuals,
all human beings, every created being, including yourself. The world
stands renounced within itself. You become a world individual.
Such renunciates are world masters, because they are self
masters. When the taste for things ceases, you have conquered the world;
when the taste is conquered, the world is conquered. Taste of the tongue,
taste of the eyes, taste of the ears, taste of the nostrils, taste of
touch,-all these are tastes of one kind or the other. They persist till
our death almost, because of the fact that we never succeeded in living as
world individuals. We have never succeeded in maintaining the position of
a world personality.
Can any one of you feel convinced within yourself that you
are a world individual? "I do not merely belong to the world; it is not
that the world belongs to me. I will stand as a meeting point of the world
and the individuality of everybody." Unthinkable is this situation. A
master-mind we call such people; a super-man, an incarnation, an
avatara,-all sorts of names and nomenclatures are attributed to such
achievements in a person who ceases to be a person and is at the same time
Such renunciation precedes the understanding that is
required to practise Yoga, which is real sadhana. The essence of
this situation is that you cannot entertain little petty desires and then
sit for meditation.
When you are seated in meditation, a kind of infinitude
enters into you, as is suggested in the sutra of Patanjali: prayatna
shaithilya ananta samapattibhyam: Steadiness in posture is possible by
a comprehension of the infinitude that this world is. Relaxation and the
concept of the Infinite will enable you to occupy a desired posture.
Relaxation,-the nerves are tense, the muscles are tense, the mind is
tense, the body is tense; they have to be released in a fashion akin to
yoganidra (the sleep of yoga, where the body is resting but the mind
is awake). It is not nidra (sleep); it is so called because of its
resemblance to non-perception of anything outside, similar to nidra,
the condition of sleep.
Before you sit in a posture for meditation, lie on your
back. Stretch your arms aside. Take deep breathing: take in air through
the nostrils and breathe out through the mouth, as you do generally,
automatically, when you are tired after a long journey or hard work: "Oh
God, the day's work is over, let me lie down!" You are not aware of
anything at that time except that you want nothing but total relaxation.
As the mind is connected to the body intimately, the mind also gets
relaxed at that time, together with the relaxation of the nerves and the
muscles. For a few minutes you can meditate even in that posture. It is
not necessary that you sit up with a rigidity of feeling at the outset.
As long as it is comfortable and possible for you to
contemplate your ideal even in that posture of lying on the back, let it
be; continue, because the mind will not enable you to concentrate on
anything when the body is feeling any kind of pain or discomfort. When you
catch hold of the mind, you cannot reject the body. The rider on the ass
is connected with the ass, so you cannot displease the ass when you are
riding on it.
Body and mind go together, as a psycho-biological
individuality. You cannot say you are the body, or are not the body, -you
are the mind, or you are not the mind. These statements have no meaning,
finally. It is a child's definition of what you are. You are an integrated
affirmation, wherein are blended both the mental structure and the
physical structure. So, a kind of relaxation caused by satisfaction of
having achieved an end should follow simultaneously with the effort at
But it is not an effort, actually speaking, because
Patanjali has told you "prayatna shaithilya": loosen your tension
of effort. Don't say, "I am doing something," because this consciousness
of doing something is again an assertion of individuality and a potential
of egoism manifesting itself.
Just be in a state of complete psycho-physical relaxation,
either by lying down, or in any other comfortable posture. Really, for the
purpose of meditation, there is no particular posture prescribed. As is
comfortable, so is the posture. The Yoga Shastra (texts) does not say,
"Sit only in this posture." Though sometimes for certain reasons a
particular seated posture is suggested, every rule has an exception. In a
similar manner, this general instruction to be seated with spine erect and
neck straight, etc., can be regarded as a very practicable posture,
provided that you don't feel any discomfort in that posture.
Dissatisfaction of any kind should not precede the effort at meditation.
How the Yoga practice commences is stated in this manner in the Yoga
I will repeat once again what I told you yesterday: be
clear as to what you are seeking. The object of meditation is the final
choice that you make in this world. You have selected it as the ultimate
meaning for your life. There are people who cling to a certain thing
throughout their lives and consider that particular thing as the be-all
and the end-all of their lives. Rightly or wrongly, they have hugged that
particular thing through their emotional clamouring. But this is a
treacherous attitude of the emotions. It will leave you in the dark at any
Nobody likes a thing continuously throughout one's life.
That is the effect of the fickleness of mental activity. In the choice of
the object of meditation, no fickleness is possible. You may take months
to decide what it is that can give you true satisfaction.
There are devotees who choose the form of a divinity, the
ultimate Godhead manifest before them in some form which they regard as
final. The reason why they consider that form as final is that they are
sure that the infinite longing for salvation is centralised in that
particular form of divinity, as the potentiality of the power of the sun
is hidden in a single ray of the sun. So, the whole world is one object.
You strike one object to the core; an atomic bomb
manifests itself. Strike it further; you will find the treasures of the
world coming up from inside the very object that you have struck again and
again by the hammering of the mental process. Strike it further; you will
find that this mind which meditates is the meeting point of all the levels
of creation commingling in one point, like the sea at the meeting point of
a river, where the two become one. Even in this initial stage of
meditation, you will see that you rise up from meditation as a new
individual, as if something has entered you, has been injected into you.
Old habits still persist. A sutra (verse) of
Patanjali tells us: Never feel satisfied with any experience, because any
satisfying experience in meditation,-sound, colour, perception of beauty,
fragrance, -should not attract you because it is as temporary and
tantalizing as any other presentation in this physical world.
Actually, what you call heaven is only a rarefied form of
earthly enjoyment. A highly potent form of sensory experience is heaven;
the gross form of it is the earth. When such presentations are, placed
before you, don't smile, "Oh they have come. Wonderful!" No, it is a mask
put on by a tremendous deceptive force before you.
The world opposes you in the beginning. Vehemently will it
oppose you, and it will see that you do not succeed. People will harass
you, condemn you, criticise you, say that you are a crack, and the world
will present further difficulties, causing you to tremble in your person,
as if you have gone wrong. I have told many a time on earlier occasions,
when you churn the mind for the sake of treasures that you seek, the
treasure will not come; only poison comes, as illustrated in the story of
amritamanthana in the Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana. Wanting nectar,
you churn the ocean; deadly poison comes in the beginning.
What is this poison, actually? Wherefrom has it arisen? It
is the potentiality of attachment still persisting at the last moment of
the death of individuality. When a cobra is about to die, it becomes most
poisonous; if it strikes at that time, it is a death strike. Likewise, the
last kick that human desire gives you is a poisonous smoke of discomfiture
and sorrow, and indecision of every kind. Do you know how many treasures
afterwards slowly arose from the churning of the ocean in
amritamanthana? Some fourteen gems are described there as the jewels
of human love, tempting more and more as the succeeding ones rose up, so
that the temptation to possess it rose in greater intensity. Finally, you
know what happened to these people who wanted nectar in this enlightening
This is a story about our own selves, -the gods and the
demons, the ocean, the nectar, the treasures, the jewels, the poison. All
these are inside us, inside in every sense of the term, outwardly,
inwardly, and also in the blend of both sides. Knowing well that such
things are possible before us, through the guidance that we have received
from our Master, whom we should not desert till the end of our
lives,-knowing this well, march forward.