Of Time and Space

From Rikhiapeeth Satsangs 2, Swami Satyananda Saraswati

This is the first birthday I am celebrating because I believe that man is born only once. The astronomical position in 1923, the year I was born in, was the same as it is today, 24 December 2008. I was born on 24 December 1923, at four minutes past midnight. Four minutes past twelve is actually the 25th December, but according to the jyotish shastra or Indian astrology, which is based on the movement of the moon, it was the 24th.

Making the correction

Today is the morning of the 25th and the full moon already commenced at 12.04 am, when you were fast asleep. This is known as Aghan Poornima, the full moon that occurs in the month of Aghan, which is also known as Marga Sheersha. At 12.04 am, the exact time of my birth, the Poornima had already passed a few steps ahead, and this position of the moon is known as Pratipada. The next day is the first day of the dark fortnight of the month of Paush. According to Western astrology, the sun is passing through Sagittarius at this time. Of course, many of you are Christians, so don't mind it when I say that sometimes I doubt if Christ was a Sagittarian. Was he really born in December? By all the literature that I have read and all that I can conceive of, he was born in September and was a Virgo. Often, when I think about it, I find it a bit confusing because history says one thing and the traditions say something else. But we are born in a century where we can think independently.

I can have my independent thinking, which can be different from yours. When I begin to think, I begin to doubt. When I begin to think about it, I begin to ponder: was he really born in December or was he born in September? Was he a Virgo or was he a Sagittarian? The two astrological signs depict two totally different natures. The astrologers can tell you better than I can. Maybe you already know it, as many of you here may be astrologers.

Sagittarians have a definite nature, don't they? Virgos have their own nature. The symbol of Virgo is kanya, the virgin. Christ's mother was also a virgin. This is a very good coincidence. From a virgin mother a virgin child is born. If you ponder over it and think with an independent mind, not coloured by history, tradition or religion, then you will know that the nature of a person born in the Kanya rashi, Virgo, and the nature of Christ are perfectly matched.

So, 12.04 am was the time of my birth in the month of Aghan in 1923, and the same astrological conjunctions occur in my life today, after eighty-five years. The same astronomical situations are there which were there in 1923 when I was born. And why was this birthday declared by me? Well, I will tell you a story. When I was in Munger, some people began to say that I was born on 26 July 1923. They did not just think or say this; it was also printed in many books. 26 July! No, no, because I am not a Leo. I am not full of vanity or proud like a lion. Moreover, lions eat only one thing, but I can eat anything. I can eat idli, dosa, sambhar, chutney, puri-aloo, so how can I be a lion? No, I am not vain like a Leo; I am one-pointed like a Sagittarian. I think of only one thing, not two things.

I told Swami Niranjan that it is necessary to make the real date of my birth known, before the wrong date becomes a part of tradition and history, and maybe a part of the church also, who knows! Of course, Hindus do not say 'church', they call it sampradaya. So, in the course of time, the sampradaya may record that Swami Satyananda was born on 26 July, and all of you will be saying, 'Swamiji was a Leo.'

The explosion of birth

Now, the date of my birth has been corrected. The time and date of birth is very important, because we are human beings. God has created human beings with a purpose. We are not accidents. Human birth is not an accident. It has a purpose. What is the purpose of human life? What is the purpose of this human body? What is the purpose of human incarnation?

First of all, you must know that every human being, born in a particular time and space, is an object. You are born at a particular time, you are born in a particular space, and you are an object. Time, space and object are the three categories of nature, they are the three categories of mind, and they are the three categories of the entire science. Time and space are the two realities inherent in every substance, every object, every matter, including your body and mine. Without time and space, there would not be the creation of any object. For an object to exist, it requires a time-space continuum. Time and space are the two arms of nature present in all creation and they always travel opposite to and against each other.

Actually, there are two movements of time and space. They either move away from or towards each other. When they move towards each other, that is called yoga. When they move against each other, that is called bhoga. When time and space move towards each other and meet at a particular point, an explosion takes place. Your birth is the result of an explosion in time and space. Of course, you are born through the physical union of your mother and father, but is that the only process at work in the birth of a human being? Not at all. This body, which, apart from flesh, blood and bones, is composed of the pancha tattwas or five elements, operates on a highly refined energy system and houses the atma or soul, is created by multi-faceted processes that are cosmic in nature.

The same explosion between time and space takes place in your mind too, when you are successful in dhyana or meditation, and the movement of time and space is reversed and made to converge at the nucleus. As a matter of fact, the same explosion takes place in nuclear science as well. Scientists developed it when they realized that the atom is not indivisible and exploded it to discover atomic and nuclear energy. Those who are aware of nuclear science may know about the process of fusion, when time and space are brought together.

In fact, one of the biggest experiments of this kind is being done in Switzerland, where over twenty-five countries have sent their best scientists to develop an artificial condition where the movement of time and space can be reversed and they are made to travel towards each other at terrific speed. Science replicating Nature or rather, trying to replicate Nature, as their first attempt failed. The process created such intense heat that they had to abort the experiment to avoid a mishap, which could even mean annihilation of Earth!

Human birth is important. Why is it important? You cannot see God. You can only talk about Him. Go on talking. He is omnipresent, He is omniscient, He is omnipotent. But that will not give you the experience of God, because just by talking about him you cannot see Him. You cannot experience Him. It is not possible to conceptualize an eternal, infinite object by a finite mind. It is not possible by your finite mind to conceptualize an infinite and eternal thing. The body is finite and you are finite. You are mortal. You are limited by time and space. How can you conceptualize Him? How can you experience Him?

It is possible

It is definitely possible to experience the cosmic being in yourself. Therefore, God has created you, so that you may find Him within your heart, deep within yourself, beyond the body consciousness, beyond the mental consciousness, beyond the intellectual consciousness. Beyond all forms of consciousness of which you become conscious, there is a consciousness which is called Brahman, Paramatma, or the Absolute, which is hidden in you.

The totality of humanity can be experienced in this physical body, which is here, and that is precisely the purpose of human birth. That is why I was born on this day, on a certain date and at a certain time. Now it is up to you how you celebrate your birthday. To celebrate your birthday, you have to remember one thing: you are born as a human being not just for the purpose of living the life of a human being. You are born as a human being in order to realize the depth of consciousness, the height of consciousness, that magnanimity of your soul within yourself. You have something in you and you have to realize that. That is why the Vedas proclaim, Tat Twam Asi — 'You are That', about which you have been talking, that God, that eternal God. You are that God.

The God of whom the Vedas talk, the God of the Bible, the God of the Koran, the God about whom people have been talking since eternity, that God, that reality, that cosmic reality — you are That. Only as a human being can you conceive of that consciousness. No other incarnation can conceive of that. Not that there is nothing in them. A dog also has the seed of eternal truth in it. A donkey, a cobra, a monkey and even a rock has a spark of that divine truth we call God. The truth, eternity, God, is inherent in everything, but they cannot realize it. You can realize it. A dog cannot realize it, a donkey cannot realize it, a tree cannot realize it, the oceans cannot realize it, the mountains cannot realize it, the lakes cannot realize it. You can realize it because you have become aware.

It is not only Swami Satyananda who says that there is God in you. The Bible also says, 'I and my father are one.' In the Bible, they first speak of 'Our Father who art in Heaven.' That is similar to the theory of Vishishta Advaita or qualified monism of Vedanta. Then they say, 'I and my Father are One.' That is also a dictum of Vedanta, Aham Brahmasmi. So, it is not me who says it, but the people who have had that experience have reiterated it time and again in all the sacred texts. And what was the experience they had? 'I am not this body, I am not this mind, I am not the senses, I am not this mortal object; Immortal Self am I.' While I am talking of my birthday, I am also telling you to celebrate your birthday with this in mind. The purpose of your birth cannot be enjoyment or bhoga.

I will give you a small example. When you go from here to Kolkata, what is your aim or destination? It is to reach Kolkata. But on the way, you take tea, breakfast and sometimes you smoke as well. You may also sing in the train, talk to your co-passengers, make new friends, enjoy the scenery, but that is not the purpose for which you are on the train. No, your purpose for being on the train is to reach your destination. In the same way, your purpose for being in this world is to discover yourself, discover who you are. Of course, you can enjoy your journey of life, have children, have lots of money, a good house and all kinds of luxuries that science, society and company can provide you with. Enjoy them, I am not against that. But that is not the purpose for which you are born.

I am not against having good clothes, cosmetics, looking nice, having a boyfriend or a girlfriend. No, I am not going to tell you that you must not enjoy all that. Have it if you want to, but that is not the purpose for which you have been ordained. That is not the purpose for which you have been given this precious human life. He has given you a body, a very precious human body, and it is a perfect design of God. Sometimes, God makes better designs like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and others!

God's desire

God has designed human beings out of His kindness. After creating humans, He must have thought, 'How can I become known to this human being?' He must have said, 'Yes I am, and I want to reveal Myself to you.' Please listen to me very carefully. God is saying, 'I want to reveal Myself to this chap. But this chap is not looking at Me. He is only looking at his wealth or girlfriend or comfort and enjoyment.'

It is like there is a ghost, a spirit, in my room who wants me to talk to him, but my mind is on a different wavelength and that spirit is in a different incarnation. He can see me, he can see Swami Satyananda seated. And he says, 'Swami Satyananda, wake up.' But Swami Satyananda does not listen to him. He just cannot listen to him because he operates on a different wavelength. Similarly, God says, 'I want to reveal Myself to these guys.' He tries in many ways, but He does not get any reply because you are not tuned in to Him. To hear what he is saying, you require tuning.

He has been working this way patiently since eternity, until somebody like a Christ or Ramakrishna or Vasishtha or Vishwamitra, hear him. Christ exclaimed, 'O Father who art in Heaven' when he realized God. Ramakrishna realized God in Ma Kali. He used to speak to the goddess and she used to reply to him. There are many others who have had this experience. They came to know that it is possible to realize God.

It is possible that one can listen to Him. When they started conversing with God, He must have given them the duty to tell others, to convince others as well. God said, 'Look here, Ramakrishna, you please tell these guys so I can talk to them.' That is why he sent Christ as a messenger. He said, 'Christ, Ishu, you please go and tell all these bandhus, brethren.'

Christ was a messenger of God, but the poor man was crucified like an ordinary criminal. He was born in Israel. Had he been born here, he would not have met that fate, because in India we don't crucify saints. We will wash their feet, we will put sandalwood paste on them, and if necessary, we will give them a lot of dollars and Euros for their mission. The sannyasins, the saints are sponsored and patronized here. Am I wrong? We are sponsored, we are patronized, we are worshipped. They won't crucify me, mind you. Even if I say, 'Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism is all nonsense,' they won't crucify me. No, they will still worship me.

God sent Christ as a messenger. In India, we call him a messiah. When God spoke to Christ, Ishu, he must have told him, 'Now that we are able to talk, I will tell you the way to experience Me and you should act as My messenger on earth.' God has spoken to many people. They say he spoke to Mohammed Hazarat. Devi spoke to Ramakrishna. You know the story of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa? Devi, Kali Mata spoke to him. The point is this, God is so kind that He wants to reveal Himself to you, but you have to tune yourself. God wants to talk to you. God is very keen to reveal Himself to you because He is also very lonely, He is all alone. He wants to have a talk with you. In the Upanishad it is written, Ekoham — 'I am One'; Bahusyam – 'Let me be many.'

Purpose of birth

If that is a truth, then my birthday is very important. It reminds me today that, eighty-five years ago, God created me, so that I may talk to Him, so that He may reveal Himself to me. I was born. My mother kissed me, gave me milk, loved me so much that if I said, 'Mummy, I want to talk to God, I want to talk to God,' she would be very afraid. She would say, 'My God, after so many years of marriage I've got a son, and he too is running after God. I will lose him.'

I came to earth for Him and if I run after Him, I am only going back to Him who sent me here in the first place. God is our ultimate home. God is our ultimate abode from where we came and where we go, and my mother is so afraid and terrified that her little boy will leave her for God. She should be happy that I am so wise, but instead she is ridden with fear, because children are toys for their mothers. They ignore the reality or the purpose of birth. They just get caught in moha, delusion, and asakti, attachment. They tremble with fear when they think that their child will not marry, but will go away, shave his head and become a sannyasin. So, they do a big cover-up, they keep him in delusion as long as they can. That is what they did to Buddha.

You know the story of Buddha? If not, please read it. Buddha was born under such celestial conjunctions that the astrologers had predicted his rise to enlightenment. Therefore, his parents kept him in utmost luxury and comfort, away from the realities of life such as death and disease. They made beautiful palaces for him where he lived in the intoxication of material life, wine, women, song and dance twenty-four hours. He was married to a beautiful princess, Yashodhara. But ultimately, Buddha walked out and went in search of God. No one could stop him, even the newly-born son that had just arrived. He went away. You know the whole story.

That is what most of us are doing. The purpose of human life is not to run after luxury, fleeting beauty and fleeting objects. They will be granted to you, they will come to you, yes, you will have them. But the ultimate destination is not the peanuts, tea, cigarette, gossip or newspaper that you indulge in on the train. No, that is not your destination. That is just passing time. The ultimate purpose is reaching the destination you set out for, which was Kolkata.

The ultimate purpose of life is realizing your own self. You are not the body. Swami Sivananda said, 'You are not the mind, you are not the indriyas, you are not the pancha tattwas, you are not the three prakritis, you are beyond all that, you have to transcend the duality.' How can one transcend this duality that is experienced day in and day out?

Step by step

First of all, have a guru, then have a mantra. Now go on practising it. A B C D, A B C D . . . First, the alphabet, then words, then sentences, paragraphs, essays, the whole subject. How do you learn a language, how do you learn mathematics, how do you learn things? You have to develop in spiritual life in the same way – step by step, starting with the mantra of a guru, which is the kindergarten of spiritual life. And don't be in a hurry.

It may take a year or two, or five-or twenty, or thirty or forty or fifty. It is possible that you may not even get it in this lifetime, but the next time you can start again, because God has given infinite lives. Just as your education system has given infinite classes. Take this level, then that level, and then graduation, post-graduation, research. In the same way, God has also given you many lives. Do not doubt that.

I tell you not from my knowledge, but from my experience. There is life beyond this life; this is not the only life. This is not the first time I am born, and this will not be the last. I will be born again and you will be born again. That is the truth. Karma is real. Life is real. There is a continuity of time, there is a continuity of space, there is a continuity in object. Why should there not be a continuity of life?

—25 December 2008, Rikhiapeeth, India