Chapter 15: Life After Death and Rebirth,

Question 1



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Question 1



Visions of Krishna, or of Buddha, Mahavira or Christ are seen in two different ways. One is what we call a mental projection -- what you see is nothing but your dreams, your desires, your imaginations taking a visual form, a shape in front of your eyes. There is nothing real in front of you; it is all imagination. The mind is quite capable of it; it can project an image of your dreams and desires, and you can think it is real. As you dream in sleep, so you can dream in the wak-ing state. This is how a Hindu sees visions of Krishna or Rama, a Christian sees visions of Christ or Mary. It is just mental, imaginary, hallucinatory. The other way is real, but it does not bring you face to face with Krishna or his image; it makes you encounter and experience what may be called the Krishna-consciousness. In an experience like this there is no image whatsoever of Krishna or Christ, there is only a state of heightened awareness, a contact-high.

As I said yesterday, there are two forms of Krishna: one is his oceanic form and the other is his wave form. While his oceanic form represents the universal consciousness or superconsciousness, his wave form represents Krishna the man who happened some five thousand years ago.

Now an image, an icon of his wave form -- Krishna the man -- can be used to come in contact with his oceanic form, with Krishna-consciousness. But when you will really come in contact with Krishna-consciousness, this image, this symbol of Krishna will disappear and only the superconsciousness will remain with you. While it is true that his statue can be used for connecting with Krishna's superconsciousness, if someone sees only visions of Krishna and does not experience his consciousness, then it is merely a case of mental projection and nothing else.

The experience of Krishna-consciousness does not happen by way of visions and images. It is pure consciousness without any shape or form. We associate Krishna's name with it because a person loves Krishna and comes to this consciousness with the help of his image. Another person can come to it with the help of Buddha's image, and he can call it Buddha-consciousness. It can he called Christ-consciousness if someone attains it through the image of Christ. Names don't matter; the real thing is the oceanic consciousness, which is without name and form.

Arvind's experience of Krishna-visions is concerned with Krishna's image, his physical form. He says that Krishna appeared before him in physical form. This is simply a case of mental projection. Of course such an experience is pleasant and gratifying, but it is nonetheless a projection of our mind. It is an extension of desire; it is exactly dreamstuff. It is our mind's creation.

We can begin with the mind, but we have to go beyond the mind. The journey begins with the mind, and ends with the no-mind, cessation of the mind. It is significant to know that the mind is the world of words, forms and images; words, forms and images constitute the mind. And where forms and images disappear the mind disappears on its own. There is no way for the mind to exist without words, forms and images. The mind cannot exist in emptiness, in void; it lives on the determined, the concrete. The moment the concrete world comes to an end, the mind itself comes to an end. Krishna-consciousness is attained only when the mind ceases to be; it is a state of no-mind.

Whoever says he has encountered Krishna in his physical form is a victim of mental projection; he is projecting his own mental images on the vast screen of universal consciousness and viewing the objective reality. It is like a movie projector projects fast moving pictures on all empty screen; there is really nothing on the screen except shadows. Such visions are not a spiritual experience, they are wholly psychic. They are, however, very gratifying; a Krishna devotee is bound to be overjoyed to see visions of one he has been desiring to see all his life. But remember, it is only a kind of happiness, not bliss. Nor can you call it an experience of truth.

I don't mean to cay that Arvind's experience is not real, but he describes it in the way of a scholar, an intellectual. And this makes the experience appear to be one of mental projection. It is not difficult to distinguish a real experience, an experience of the oceanic consciousness from the one that is projected or imagined. An oceanic experience is everlasting; once it comes it comes forever, and it wipes out all other experiences from your mind. It really wipes out the mind itself. One blessed with such an experience sees the divine everywhere -- in trees and rocks, in streams and rivers, in mountains and stars. But so far as projected visions are concerned, they appear and disappear, they never last. They are transient, momentary. Being an intellectual, Arvind is not able to portray it rightly; for a man of intellect such a task becomes difficult.

But there is another side of Arvind which is poetic. He is not only an intellectual but also a great poet. As a poet he is not less than Rabindranath Tagore. If he failed to receive the Nobel Prize, it was not because he did not deserve it, but because his poetry is much too complex and difficult to understand. His savitri ranks among the great epics of the world; there are hardly ten great epics of the stature of Savitri. And unlike the scholar, the poet in Arvind is quite capable of seeing Krishna's visions. Ironically, Arvind has expressed this experience strictly in terms of logic and reason, which is of course natural. And his account of the experience does not have the flavor of the transconscious.

We use words in two ways. In one way the word is kept within the confines of its known meaning; it conveys only that which is conveyed by its meaning. It fails to go beyond its own limitations. In the other way, the word used communicates much more than its given meaning. The word itself may be small, but its meaning is vast; the meaning is larger than the word itself. Arvind's way is quite different; while he uses big words, he fails to communicate any great meaning through them. He is known for his long words and lengthy sentences. That is why he always ends up as a philosopher.

When words really take off, when they transcend their given meaning, they enter a world of mystery, they become a vehicle for the transcendental experience. Such words are pregnant with tremendous meaning; they are like fingers pointing to the moon. Arvind's words are not that pregnant, they don't have an arrow directed toward the beyond. His words never transcend their given meaning. And there are reasons for it.

As I said this morning, Arvind was educated in the West at a time when, like Darwin in science, Hegel was the most dominant influence in philosophy. And Hegel is also known for the pompous language replete with big words and complex phrases in his treatises. Going through Hegel's works one has a sense of profundity about them in the beginning. We tend to think that what we don't understand must be very profound. But it is not necessarily so, although it is true that profound things are difficult to under stand. So many people use obscure words and elaborate phrases to create an impression of depth on their listeners and readers.

Hegel is a case in point: his language is very complex, devious and bombastic -- full of lengthy, explanatory statements enclosed within brackets. But as scholarship gained maturity in Europe, Hegel's reputation declined in the same measure, and people came to know that he knew much less than he pretended. Arvind's way of expression is Hegelian, and like Hegel he is also a systematizer. He too has not much to say, and so he has to say it in a great many words, and long and involved sentences at that.

Expression has to have a logical and rational buildup. But if it says something which goes beyond it then it means the person saying it has known that which lies beyond words. But if he exhausts himself in his words, which say nothing more than what they mean, then it is clear he is only a knowledgeable person. Going through all of Arvind's works you are left with a feeling that they are wordy; there is nothing experiential about them. If someone who knows something of the beyond keeps silent, even his silence will be eloquent. But in the absence of such an experience, even a million words will prove to be a wastage. When you say something, you have to say it logically, but if your "something" is experiential it will leave its flavor, its perfume in your every word and metaphor. Not only that, your words will also say that they could not say what they really wanted to say. As far as Arvind is concerned, it seems he has said much more than was worth saying.

In this context I recall a significant event from the life of Rabindranath, which will help you to understand the thing better. The great poet is on his deathbed, and an intimate friend has come to say farewell. The friend says, "You sang all you wanted to sing, you said all you wanted to say; not only that, you did all you wanted to do. I believe now you can leave this world in perfect peace and contentment, with a feeling of utter gratefulness to God."

Rabindranath opened his eyes and said, "You have got it all wrong. Right now I have been saying to God, 'How ironical it is that when I have put together all the musical instruments and am ready to sing, I am called upon to leave the world.' I have yet to sing my song. What people think to be my song is only preparation for the real song I was going to begin, but alas! I have yet to say what I wanted to say."

Arvind cannot say the same thing. He has said all that he wanted to say, and said them very methodically. And I say that as a mystic Rabindranath is head and shoulders above Arvind.

You also want to know what will happen to Arjuna's individuality if he is only an instrument in the hands of existence. If everything happens exactly as it has to happen, if everything is pre-determined, then what is the meaning and responsibility of an individual person? Isn't he just a cog in the machine?

It is a significant question, so try to listen carefully to what I am going to say here. You will come upon some basic truths of life if you understand this thing rightly.

Certainly one's individuality will be destroyed if he is forced to be an instrument in the hands of another. But if someone becomes an instrument on his own accord, just the contrary will happen, his individuality will achieve its ultimate flowering. There is great difference between these two states. If someone forcibly turns you into a means and uses you as such, you are bound to lose your soul. But your soul will be fulfilled if you surrender on your own and become an instrument in the hands of existence. Please understand this difference -- it is very subtle and great. For instance, if you come and overpower me and fetter my hands and feet, I become your slave. But what will happen if 1, on my own, willingly volunteer myself to be your slave? Then I become the master of slavery -- its architect.

I would like to relate a story from the life of the Greek sage, Diogenes. I love to relate this story again and again; it is really beautiful.

Diogenes is passing through a forest. He is naked, walking fearlessly like a lion walks. Some people who are engaged in slave-trade happen to see Diogenes. They are tempted by his powerful physique. It is really splendid, as splendid as that of Mahavira. It is no wonder that both Mahavira and Diogenes discard clothes and live naked; they have such beautiful bodies that they alone can afford to go naked. Although the slave-traders are eight in number, they are very afraid of Diogenes who looks so powerful. It would be difficult for them to overpower and capture him.

In fact, one who wants to overpower another person is essentially a weak and fear-stricken person. Only a fearful person wants to frighten and dominate others just to assuage his own fear. A really fearless person never tries to dominate others. He loves everybody's freedom as much as he loves his own. A fearful man is always afraid that if he does not dominate others, others will dominate him. This is the psychology of all wars. That's why Machiavelli says in his book THE PRINCE, that to be on the offensive is the best defense.

So the traders are afraid of Diogenes, but their greed is equally strong. A slave like Diogenes would fetch a fabulous price in the slaves' market. After much discussion among themselves, they decide to make an attempt. Prepared for a good fight, they surround him from all sides, but Diogenes confounds them in a strange way. They would not have been surprised if he had resisted them. They were well-prepared for it. But instead they find Diogenes standing quietly and serenely in his place with not a trace of fear or agitation on his face. He folds hands and giggles, saying, "What do you want? What is your intention?"

The merchants are embarrassed and hesitatingly tell him that they wanted to capture and enslave him. Diogenes laughs and says, "Why make such a fuss about it? You are fools; you should have just asked me and I would have agreed. I have been watching you anxiously discussing and preparing an elaborate plan which is all useless. Where are the handcuffs? Take them out of your bags. And here are my hands." Saying this he stretches his two hands to them. His captors are amazed, and their confusion is worse. They have never seen such a man, shouting at them, "Where are the handcuffs? Take them out of your bags!" And he speaks as if he is the master and they are his slaves.

With great hesitation and fear they take out a pair of handcuffs and put them on Diogenes' hands, saying, "It is something incredible. The way you have put yourself in our hands is unbelievable. You baffle us.

What Diogenes says to them is significant. He says, "I have learned the secret of freedom, which is to become a slave on my own. Now no one can rob me of my freedom. You have no way to enslave me."

Then they chain him and with one end of the chain in their hands, they march him to the slave market. Diogenes then says, "Why carry a heavy chain in your hands unnecessarily? Don't you see I am going with you on my own accord? Take off the chains so we walk with ease, and take care that you don't run away before we reach the marketplace. And rest assured, I am not going to escape." The merchants soon remove the chains, because they know in their heart of hearts what kind of man he is. He has voluntarily surrendered himself to them. There is no use putting fetters on one who has given his hands for handcuffing without their asking.

Diogenes walks at their head as if a king is marching with his retinue.There is not a trace of fear on his face, while his captors look like his captives. He looks so charismatic that wherever he goes all eyes are turned on him. Pointing to his captors, Diogenes tells the spectators, "What are you looking for? They are all my slaves. And although they are not in chains yet, they cannot nm away from me. They are so found to me." The merchants are really crestfallen.

At long last they arrive at the marketplace where slaves are bought and sold. The leader of the gang approaches the market manager saying, "We have a strange man to sell, and sell as soon as possible. Otherwise all of us will be in trouble. He tells everyone that he is the master and we are all his slaves, because we are so bound to him that we cannot run away from him. And it is true, we cannot leave him, because he is going to fetch a fabulous price for us."

Diogenes immediately mounts the dock meant for slaves to be auctioned and stands there with the dignity of a king. Then the manager shouts, "Here is a great slave for sale; whosoever has enough money should bid for him."

Diogenes first shouts at the manager, "Shut up, if you don't know how to sell a master." Then he says to the bidders, "Here is a master for sale; whosoever can afford a master should bid for him."

If you are forced against your will to be an instrument. if it is not your own choice, then you are certainly a slave and your individuality is killed. But Krishna does not ask Arjuna to be such a slavish instrument; he only wants him to understand the reality and to flow with the stream of existence. It is foolish to fight with the river of life and try to swim upstream. He says to Arjuna, "Leave yourself in the hands of life, of existence, and you will be fulfilled." If someone surrenders himself to existence, to truth, to the whole, and surrenders with full understanding and joy, then his individuality, instead of being crippled, attains to full flowering and fruition. Then he is his own master. And there is no better way of proclaim ing one's mastery than the way of surrender.

Try to understand this thing very clearly. There is no better way of proclaiming one's mastery over himself than the way of surrender. If I surrender it means that I am my own master; no slave surrenders, he is just overpowered and captured. By surrendering, Arjuna does not become a cog in a machine; he really becomes a man with a soul, he becomes godly. For the first time, his individuality attains full flowering, and it happens effortlessly and naturally.


Next: Chapter 15: Life After Death and Rebirth, Question 2


Energy Enhancement           Enlightened Texts            Krishna            Krishna: The Man and His Philosophy



Chapter 15






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