The Radiant Fire of Purification
This is a Satsang from Swami Amar Jyoti teaching how to know your subconscious and finding balance spiritually, and is a part of a full satsang called the “Radiant Fire of Purification”.
THE ILLUSION OF SPACE, TIME AND EGO
IF ALL THE CLOCKS AND WATCHES in the world were to stop, would time still exist? Watches and clocks do not make time, nor do they regulate time. They are simply machinery measuring a rhythmic pattern of repetition upon which we impose our conception of time. In absence of clocks, the movement of heavenly bodies would not stop and actually we base our time conception on the sunrise and sunset. In Sanskrit this conception is called prahara, a pattern that you create. If in your concentration or meditation you focus upon one thing completely, your mind stops. Time and space cease to exist. They are only conceptions.
We impose certain things upon time: “At twelve o’clock I should eat.” Actually we should eat when we are hungry; twelve o’clock is a conception. I am trying to make you understand how conceptions are illusions, and therefore time is illusion. We have solidified time by repeatedly thinking of it as being “something.” We give it name and form and use machinery to calculate it, but actually time is not graspable. Even holy people will say, “It takes time to be Enlightened,” but that is fallacious. The truth is that it takes no time to be Enlightened, but it takes time as far as the mind is concerned.
You have programmed your mind with ideas such as: “I’ll marry, then I’ll have two kids. I’ll make money, we will buy furniture and have a TV in every room. When I become rich I will retire and live off my stocks. Then I will help the poor and meditate more, pray more, and serve my Master. And then after years I will go deep into meditation.” In the meantime you do not know when you will die and your whole dream will tumble down. So we say, “It takes time to Realize,” since you have a lot of things to finish. As a matter of fact, as long as time and space conceptions are consciously or subconsciously occupying your mind, you will not attain Enlightenment. When you achieve perfect stillness, you Realize. But since you have other considerations, commitments, obligations, desires, plans, schedules and excuses, so many conceptions together make an illusory obstruction that will not allow you to attain Enlightenment.
You are giving importance to time, which works in the world but does not work in the Spirit. It works in the world because the world is illusion; illusion works within illusion. But as soon as you come to Source, Brahman, Spirit—when you be still and know—time and space stand still. Your mind stops traveling, measuring and calculating. And that is exactly the way to Realize: make your whole world stand still. If you watch waves roll upon waves, that phenomenon does not allow you to see the water clearly. To truly see the water you have to be still and unaffected, not seeing the waves. If you succeed in that, you are Enlightened. All the movements of your mind stop. You transcend time and space. The day you attain this Realization you will see that traveling to any other place in the universe does not take time. You can disappear here and reappear billions of light years away. Time is not an entity, nor is space. Both are simply illusions.
You might ask: “How does this illusion work?” If time did not exist, how could scientists calculate when a space ship will pass by Uranus or Neptune and at the right time take photographs? The answer is: within the illusion, within the dream, you can travel as much as you want, and you can calculate and measure, since it is phenomenal. Otherwise you could do the same thing without calculation or taking time. The same is true of any other force, for example gravity. As long as you believe that gravity is pulling you down, as you think so it happens. You are willing the illusory force of gravity to work as you think it should. That is a capacity of the phenomenon. But there is always transcendence beyond these laws, where you could refute the gravitational pull and magnetism. Long back I had said that there will be a time when mankind will produce spaceships that travel thousands of miles per minute, and at any given moment, they will be able to turn right or left or backward without the slightest jerk or shake. They will have overcome the gravitational force.
This is what we call “mystery,” vigyana, or “specialized knowledge.” As long as you are projecting yourself into time and space in your calculations, your measurements, your excuses, it is going to work that way. Nature is mysterious. I call her Mother. Sri Ramakrishna used to say, “Mother, have grace on me. I cannot understand all this. You tell me.” This mystery can only be known within you. The things that you give power to—laws, rules, conceptions—are solidified by your giving them importance. These calculations do not give us wisdom or knowledge. We impose them upon ourselves. This whole maya or illusion works that way. It is not only a belief. Science, knowledge or wisdom work according to how you give them importance.
Today we are bound by time, but in ancient India when sages lived with their disciples in monasteries or hermitages, there was no sense of time per se. If someone asked a question about spiritual matters, the sage would not say, “At three p.m. we will meet and I will answer your question.” Your mood or metabolism or biorhythms would be different at a later time. The right time to know is when you are asking the question. Time today is much more mechanized and that keeps you away from Enlightenment. Let’s say you are longing for the Lord. You cannot say, “Lord, I’ll practice longing for You two hours daily.” The Lord may not listen, or at the most He may say, “I need twenty-four hours. Why only two hours?” You sit down at seven p.m. to long for God up to nine p.m. This is very mechanical, but we allow it because, as the English proverb says, “Something is better than nothing.” At least mechanically sitting and remembering God is better than not remembering Him at all. But such conceptual living is not living. Life is living us. When you truly live you flow in tune with the cosmos. If you want to live joyfully, life should not live you. Then you are not bound by anything, yet you still do everything.
In that flowing in tune, you have a crystal clear view of the world, your family, your life, everything. Do not try to understand intellectually; just try to see. You will see that you love things for yourself, not for the thing in itself. You love your wife, your husband, your children, your teacher, your property, your wealth, whatever, for yourself. Yajnavalkya, who was a great Vedantic sage of ancient India, wished to renounce when nearing his old age. He had two wives, Maitreyi and Katyayani, but life had ceased to give him any fulfillment. It was like chewing gum that had lost its taste. He went to his wives and said, “I’m going to renounce, so I will divide my property between you.” Katyayani was satisfied and thought that this was fair. But Maitreyi asked, “Will all this wealth and property you leave me give me immortality?” She was a wise woman. He told her, “No, you will be as any other wealthy person would be.” She replied, “Then what shall I do with it? I will go with you.”
In the forest, Maitreyi asked Yajnavalkya, “Tell me more about immortality and love in the world.” Yajnavalkya told her, “Look, Maitreyi, you love me for yourself.” She was shocked. “How can you talk like that? I came here with you and renounced everything, and now you are telling me that I love you for my sake?” Yajnavalkya told her, “Do not get agitated. Try to see clearly. Would you have come with me if that was not what you wanted for yourself? Did you come just to be with me and to help me?” And he added, “A husband also loves his wife for himself.” She was satisfied. He went on. “You also love your son for your self. It looks like you love your son for the son’s sake but that is not true. You have to go very deep and see it.” There is a lengthy description of this conversation in the scriptures.
Yajnavalkya told her, “You worship the sun for yourself because it gives you sunshine. You love the food for yourself. You love enjoyments for yourself. You revere your rulers for yourself, for what they give you. You respect priests and teachers for what you get from them. And as long as you are doing for the self, for ego, that ego will die and you will not attain immortality.” He told her, “Try to see behind the individual soul of everyone. What is the most common factor? From where do we all come, Maitreyi?” She could see the point: if you want to be immortal, if you want to go beyond all conceptions, if you want to know your true Source you have to become completely still and transcend time and space. With purity of heart, your concentration and focus will develop to know this: there is only one Truth, one Reality.
It is hard to transcend time and space before finishing with all the other conceptions. Practically all conceptions are dependent upon the conceptions of time and space, so you cannot take away that foundation and make all other conceptions fall like a pack of cards. If you could do that, it would be easier, but it does not happen that way. Let us say you are meditating in order to Realize. You are doing this in time and space, so you meditate in order to transcend time and space. If you reach that Realization, gradually as you open your inner eyes you will see that the first creation manifesting from Spirit is shining Light. In that Realization you will be blissful. Love will spring forth automatically. You have to go very deep to experience this.
You love your daughter, your son, your husband, your teacher or your friend, but as soon as someone tramples on your ego, your love evaporates. You reply back in a hurting manner. That is why sages say that human nature is primarily selfish. If your motive is not served, out of courtesy you may outwardly let it go, but you will invariably harbor it subconsciously. Does this mean there are no selfless people on earth? Some are more selfish; some are less so. When a person is less selfish, it looks like selflessness, but if you could perceive deep within you would see that it is for the self. This is not a cause for gloominess. The world is made of these illusions of the ego, so it has to be egotistical, but the degree of egotism is more or less in each individual.
Only Enlightened Souls are truly selfless. Those rare souls who have merged with Brahman, who have seen God, are truly selfless because they are no longer individuals. As long as you are individual to any degree, you are bound to be selfish up to that degree. Maitreyi was horrified and asked Yajnavalkya, “Then is there is no hope for any human being?” He said, “There is a way out. We do not have to remain this way. You have forgotten your true Essence, your true Spirit. Get back to that. That will be divine life. Thou art That.”
Where is time and space in this? Let us say you are making a table. It has measurements: length, breadth and height. That means you are talking about dimensions—space. Now it may take ten hours to build it—time. But what is the table itself? It is a conception. Before those pieces of wood took shape you imposed your conception of a table on them. The tree did not cut itself into logs and travel to your house to say: “Make me into a table.” In your mind you conceived of a table, then you began to work within time and space to create it. This is conception working within time and space, conceptions rolling upon conceptions.
The worst fallacy of ego is this: that it does not take itself as a conception. Even when we believe that the world is illusion, we continue to believe: I am real. This percolates into human nature. You think, “That person is bad. I am not like him.” All the time “me” is better in some way than others. The world may be illusion; wealth, property, everyone and everything else may be illusion; but I am real. We have carried on this fallacy for millions of years. Vedanta says this forgetfulness is the crux of the problem, the greatest illusion of all. The ego does not want to hear: “You are illusion.” Ego wanders and wanders: to the Himalayas, to forests, caves, teachers, scriptures. After years or decades of wandering, if I ask, “Have you achieved Realization?” you will say, “No, not yet.” “Why don’t you do this or this?” “Oh, the world is illusion.” All the time, “the world is illusion”—and “me” is not!
Vedanta says: “Ego has to merge in Brahman, your Source.” You are the illusion from which all other illusions sprang, the very root illusion. This is where the basic fallacy remains. Therefore the word “surrender” has been used. Unless your ego surrenders completely and unconditionally unto That, fighting illusions alone has no meaning. It is you who project time and space as well as excuses, justifications and understandings. So if you want to Realize, if you want to be your True Self, if you want to come back to your sweet Home, your Father and Mother in Heaven, point the finger at yourself. That is where you started all this, and that is where you will end. Otherwise, even if you demolish two conceptions, four will spring up the next day. And what does it matter if, out of a thousand conceptions, you reduce one hundred fifty? You still have eight hundred fifty.
One of the most common examples in Vedanta is salt and water. The disciple asked the guru, “You say Brahman is everywhere, all-pervading Consciousness. How can you see that and I do not?” The guru said, “Bring a glass of water and some salt.” He told the disciple to put the salt into the water and mix it. When it was dissolved the guru asked the disciple, “Where is the salt?” The disciple said, “I don’t see it.” The guru asked, “Because you do not see it, does that mean it is not there? Taste the water at the top. How is it?” The disciple said, “Salty.” He said, “Taste the water in the middle. How is it?” He said, “Salty.” “Taste the water in the bottom. How is it?” “Salty.” The guru said, “Isn’t it salty everywhere but you do not see it?” Then the guru explained, “The things that give you gratification—good tastes, good smells, good sights, good touch—whatever little affection and pleasure you find in the world is only a pale reflection of that Brahman within.”
Any joy, happiness, love or fulfillment that you feel is because Brahman is everywhere, but you are not seeing it. Whenever we think, “This person makes me happy, this person makes me sad, this thing gave me success, this thing gave me failure,” we are seeing only the surface. All this is emerging out because of That which is pervading. That is what has to be Realized. And all this is within you. You do not need a science laboratory; you can experiment within. It is a question of longing. You long for things you desire, don’t you? This longing will also make things emerge from within. What you call nothing, the void, imperceptible, is all-pervading. It depends upon how deep you go. Spiritual practice is within time and space; longing reduces the distance and the time. People travel thousands of miles if there is sufficient longing. And if there is no longing, someone may be next door and you have not seen each other for months. When longing becomes more focused, pinpointed, when ego is merged, time and space vanish. Some sages have said, “What I was seeking was just there, so simple.”
Go within; it is inside you. It is everywhere, but you have to find it where it is accessible to you. An example is electricity. The wire has electricity but light only shines through certain fixtures. Light is everywhere but it shines in certain souls—Prophets, Enlightened Beings, gurus and sages. That is why we go on pilgrimage: we feel higher vibrations there. We seek holy places and holy personages because we feel that is where we will see the Light. God is in everyone, everywhere, and in everything. The great saint Mirabai saw God in a bowl of poison. She accepted the bowl from those who intended to poison her, believing: “This is from my Beloved.” She drank it and nothing happened to her. Nostradamus saw in his bowl the future of the world, thousands of years hence. We look into bowls daily and do not see anything. If you are able to see your God, your Light, your Brahman in your son, your wife, your husband, your wealth and position, then certainly that is God. But belief is not vision. This is the difference between theory and practice. Therefore we have reverence for holy people and pilgrimages.
Forgetfulness is the first sin. The Sanskrit word is bismriti. Smriti is remembrance; bismriti is forgetfulness. Because you forget your true essence, someone has to tell you. Not only is the Kingdom of God within you, it is also the nearest possible to you. But your pain and pleasure are also within you and that is where the shoe is pinching; you have to solve that problem first. Therefore sages say to take refuge in your Source. That will gradually reduce your conceptions and take you to stillness. The Light within you is a flame that has no smoke, a windless place of silence. This is Vedantic meditation: you go on focusing on the flame within until you and the flame lose separate identities. You become one with That, which is already there.
All conceptions are just illusion. Where will they go? They will not go anywhere. They do not exist. When waves roll upon waves, where do they go? They merge back into the water. A room may be dark for a thousand years, but the moment you bring in light, where does the darkness go? It vanishes. It never existed. It was an illusion. All conceptions are illusory dreams self-imposed upon Brahman, the Reality. When you wake up in the morning, where do your dreams go? Even if you want to see the same dreams the next night, you cannot repeat them. They did not exist. Therefore the Vedas proclaim that even the Vedas are illusory. You have to close your books and go within. You have to transcend all conceptions, including taking “you” as real.
Meditate upon the Light. Purify your heart so that your mind does not waver. Slowly and gradually—shanai, shanai is the Sanskrit word—the distance between you and the flame will reduce. Do not blame anything else. Your separation from your true identity, God, Brahman, is the cause of all your pain. Had you not left that abode you would have no problems. How many would fling themselves like mad ones without thinking or planning or any reservation? Not me, Lord, Thou. Mirabai said, “My Lord is my all!” That is pure love, pure longing, with nothing else in between. That is why only one among millions sees Him, because of all the conceptions, barriers, blocks and hang-ups, no matter what we say or try to justify. The only legitimate question that could come up is: “If everyone did this, what will become of the world?” Actually, at that end this question does not exist. Even if everyone plunged into that Light, this question would not exist. Everyone does not do it anyway. It is only you who can do it.
This is the climax of Vedanta: Nothing has ever happened. You already are so. Vedanta does not say, “Thou wilt be That.” It says, “Thou art That.” It does not say, “I will be Brahman.” It says, “I am Brahman, the Absolute.” Your own thinking and calculations have been your blocks. Now you are blaming conceptions and other personalities or situations, but it is all you. It is a simple thing: you are there, where you want to reach. Just open your inner eye, your inner consciousness, and you will see that what you are trying to find is there, everywhere. You were blindfolded, simply. When your eyes are opened, when you are perfectly still, you will see. The Light is always there. Reduce the distance between you and your Light and merge into That. The pure devotee longs for God alone. Vedanta says simply, “Only He exists.”