A Philosophic Outlook of Life by Swami Krishnananda

Baba Times Digest© | 15 March 2014 13:53 EST | New York Edition

A Philosophic Outlook of Life

Daily Spiritual message from Divine Life Society New York

A Philosophic Outlook of Life

 Divine Life Society Publication: Chapter 3 What is Knowledge by Swami Krishnananda

 “Yoga is union with the ultimate state of things, not with things as they appear.”

 The ordinary way of thinking 

Our thinking is almost entirely conditioned by sense perception. We think as we see, as we hear, and as we sense in any form whatsoever. Our mind is a kind of confirming authority over whatever information is given through the senses. The peculiar central operation inside, which not only receives all these reports of the senses at the same time, but harmonizes them into a single cognition – that internal operation is the mind. Our thinking is also mostly sensory.

The philosophic mind is more than the ordinary empirical synthesizing mind. This is why it is sometimes said that there is a lower mind and a higher mind. The lower mind does this work of gathering information and simply synthesizing it into a central act of what is called perception and cognition. We seem to be doing very little independently; we are only reacting to what is happening outside insistently, perpetually. This is the ordinary man’s life. 

Not that we are incapable of thinking in any other manner, but we will not be permitted to think because of the continuous pressure exerted upon the mind by events and circumstances of the outer world, of nature, and of society.

If we are forced to do something, do we call it a free act?

We may be running for two reasons. We may be a participant in a race and want to win a prize. We may regard it as an act of freedom. So, in this running, we are exercising our own free choice. But suppose we are running because we are chased from all sides by wild animals; do we call it a free act, though we are running in the same way as we ran in a race? Therefore, the action may be the same outwardly – in both cases it is running – but they are two different things altogether. In one case, we exercise a freedom. In another case, we are forced to run due to reasons beyond our control.

Now, our life normally, cannot be considered really as an act of freedom. We have to eat because we are hungry. But why should there be hunger? A philosophic mind will never be satisfied unless the ultimate reason for a thing is known. The ultimate cause alone can explain the lesser causes and effects of every type. These are the difficulties of a philosophic mind. It cannot be easily satisfied with mere perceptions of things. “Does the world exist as it is?” “Is it its own creator?” “Or does it have no creator?” We cannot easily get an answer to these questions.

A truly philosophic mind cannot rest in peace until it gets an ultimate irrefutable answer – not to one or two questions only, but to every question pertaining to every type of existence.

Curiosity to know things

Do you believe that it is necessary to know the reason behind things? Or will you be satisfied by merely reacting to phenomena or events that occur outside? There is a curiosity born of a dissatisfaction as well as a perception of wonder. "How do things arrange themselves in this world in the manner they occur and present themselves?" This rouses in our minds a sense of wonder. 

Have we made ourselves ignorant deliberately, or has someone else thrown us into this condition? An entry into this abyss of human difficulty is attempted by a philosophic mind. Ancient thinkers, both in the East and the West, were very actively engaged in this adventure of knowledge. They were not satisfied with anything else. How can we say that anything else is important in this world, if these things are not to be known? If certain important serious matters are hidden out of our vision, how can we say that life is a satisfying field of existence even for a few moments? We realize, now, why knowledge is so important.

Pursuit of Knowledge

Philosophy does not mean reading some books or thinking something erratically. It is an attempt to have the true wisdom of life, and to know how to live in a world of this kind. 

The ancient thinkers busied themselves with this great adventure – the pursuit of true knowledge which is the art of wise living. Knowledge is life itself, and is as important as life itself.

The process of the investigation of factors and conditions which contribute to the rise of this knowledge is philosophy. In India we call it darsana, the vision of Reality, and the practical methods that we employ to establish ourselves in this vision of Reality is called yoga. 

Yoga is living knowledge

To apply knowledge to our practical existence in this world is yoga. Yoga is union with the ultimate state of things, not with things as they appear. Life does not anymore appear like a puppet show whose strings are operated by somebody else, someone who cannot be seen. We know the secret of the drama of existence, and we cannot any more be kept in a state of ignorance of values – because ignorance is, in a way, our incapacity to recognize any vital relationship that we have with the ultimate state of things.

Unless we know the cause, we cannot know why things are happening as they are, because an effect has a cause. 

Cause and effect

This particular phenomenon we call life in this world, as it is seen now, is an operation by some cause which is not visible to the eyes. There is a chain of railway carriages, and we know very well that although it appears that the carriage in front is pulling that one behind it, they are all pulled by an engine which itself is not pulled by anything else. Hence, everything is moved by something else, but there must be something which itself is not moved, but moves all things. Only then will we know why the railway train is moving. Otherwise, we know only relative movements – one pushing the other – without knowing why this pushing should be there at all.

Thus, the reason behind all occurrences, events in life, seems to be an important matter for study and understanding; and this reason is not merely the logical reason. The final answer to all these relative motions, occurrences, activities and phenomena in life can be explained only by a final reference. If this is known, we know how things are, and why things are, and we will not put any more questions. We become spectators of the events of the universe; and we do not merely remain as spectators of something happening outside us – we realize that we ourselves are participators in this great activity of the universe.

A holistic vision of things

The events of the world are not taking place only outside us, as if we are unconnected. There is an interconnection of causative factors. This is so because the world is one single entity; it is not made up of unconnected parts. It is a living body, something like our own body. Any event in any part of our body is an event occurring in the whole body.

We want to know what is the matter with all things. This is why we are searching for something. The problem is the intricate, inexplicable relationship of the individual with the Total Whole. Therefore, we can get truth everywhere. We can touch a person by touching any part of the body of that person – any part is that person only. Similarly, since the whole world is one single organic entity, we can be anywhere; it is as if we are everywhere.

This is a new vision which would be worthwhile for us to entertain, because we would realize that even the possibility of entertaining such a wholesome, holistic vision of things brings us a new kind of satisfaction – a satisfaction that arises from the very fact of it being possible for us to have a total vision of things. It is not a satisfaction that comes merely by eating, drinking and sleeping. It comes merely by 'knowing' that this is so. Knowledge itself is satisfaction.

Excerpts from:

A Philosophic Outlook of Life – What is Knowledge by Swami Krishnananda 

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