Mind and Consciousness

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Once upon a time Lord Shiva was meditating on Kailash. Sati was sitting at his feet. For long hours, Shiva did not open his eyes, and finally when he did, Sati asked, “Lord, you are the Jagadishwara, the Lord of the universe. What were you doing?”

Shiva said: “Sati, I was meditating.”

She asked: “On whom were you meditating?” He said: “I was meditating on Sri Rama.”

She said: “What, meditating on Sri Rama? You are the Lord of the universe, Jagadishwara, and you are meditating on Rama? Which Rama? You mean that Rama whom I saw one day in the forest, Dandakaranya, weeping for his wife? You mean that Rama?”

He said: “Yes, Sati, that Rama.”

She said, “I do not understand it. This is all a puzzle. You say that he is an avatar of Sri Vishnu, representing all his divine qualities, and has incarnated out of compassion for his bhaktas. I know that he is living, moving, crying like any ordinary human being I see in the world.”

Shiva warned her: “My ishta deva is Sri Rama and I am against the one who talks against Sri Rama.”

From that moment the split began between Shiva and Sati. Shiva did not agree with her attitude towards Sri Rama. This is the spirit which always guides great mahatmas, saints and sages in India all throughout.

Ekam sat vipra badhuta vadanti. Indram, Varunam, Mahadeveshwaram.

The true existence is one, but those who know about it call it variously. Some call it Indra, some call it Varuna. Yet others call it Mahadeveshwara.

The ultimate reality is known as paramtattwa and He does not live in heaven, on earth or anywhere else, but He is the substratum behind the whole of existence.

There is a dialogue in the Chhandogya Upanishad between Uddalaka and Shwetaketu. Uddalaka asks Shwetaketu, “Go and taste the water from the sea in the north, east, south and west, and tell me how it is.” Shwetaketu says that it is salty. Uddalaka says as the water of the sea is salty everywhere, in the same way the existence, the universe and apparent reality is full of one purpose, the absolute consciousness, which does not have any form of its own. All forms are His forms. That is the important thing that we have to remember. It has no form of its own, rupam rupa vidantyatasya. As the Upanishad says that the sun illuminates everything and is in everything; air and fire are all pervading, but they do not have their own form. They assume the form of what they permeate or reside in. The ultimate purpose of yoga practices is to become the experiencer, the drashta, a seer of this reality. To have the experience of this reality is the ultimate goal. It does not happen because Brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati, individual awareness or jivatma merges with cosmic awareness. There is no individuality of awareness. Then how will you know what it is seeing? How will you know what it experiences? How can you know the knower?

When individual consciousness merges with the supreme consciousness, who is going to smell whom? Who is going to see whom? And who is going to understand whom? The little ‘I’ has merged with the totality and when that happens, it has no existence. If it has existence, then there is duality. If there is duality, it cannot be permanent or true knowledge. Advaita jnanam is true knowledge. Whether you feel that advaita anubhuti, experience of oneness, with your saguna upasya or nirguna upasya, worship of form or the formless, it does not matter. Whether your mind merges in shoonya, void, the Shivalinga, Vishnu Narayana, Guru or Devi Bhavani, Durga, Kali, it does not matter that much.

The individuality with name and form has to merge. The jivatma has name and form, but these are myths. We have given them, but they are not true. Make a bangle out of gold, you call it a bangle. Melt it, make a necklace, you call it necklace. You have given a name and a form. It is gold, no matter whether it is a necklace, bangle or any other ornament. You take earth and you make a mud pot, bricks or a lamp. They are forms you have given, but the ultimate is the substance. The multiplicity of the whole creation exists on substance. In order to arrive at this point, we must have not only inspiration but a system.

When a man is suffering from blindness or cataracts, then there is no use in telling him that the sun is bright, because he is suffering from an error in perception. When you correct the error in perception, then only can you have divya drishti, divine vision. This error in perception can only be corrected when you transcend avidya, ignorance, the limited experiences of the mind, senses, and objects. The limited experience in the subconscious mind in dream is avidya. Sukhanubhuti, the experience of happiness in sleep is avidya. Jagrat, swapna and sushupti, waking, dream and sleep states, belong to the category of avidya. When you can transcend the waking and dreaming consciousness by incessant sadhana of yoga and go to turiya, super-consciousness, then ultimate happiness is reached. This is the ultimate purpose of yoga. Even though we know where we have to go, there are difficulties related to avidya which have to be worked out. For this purpose, wise people have expounded many sciences like karma yoga, raja yoga, bhakti yoga, jnana yoga since ancient times in India.

I have come this time to South India after many years just to tell you that it is necessary for us to take to yoga, according to our swabhava, taste and inclination. Some people can do yoga for therapy, others for improvement of their personality, some for concentration of the mind and others for the awakening of kundalini. However, ultimately the universal consciousness has to be experienced.

31 January 1982, Ayyappa Puja Centre, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu