The consciousness of the body

City College of New York; New York, New York, USA
20 March 1970

I wish to give a very short talk on the consciousness of the body. To start with, I wish to cite a few words from Sanskrit: "Sannyasa koru karma sadhana." It means: "We have to practise the inner life, spiritual discipline, here, inside the body. Here, inside the body, we have to live the life of the spirit."

Confusion is the order of the day. Even now, we see what can happen. We were supposed to give our talk in a different hall; now we are compelled to be here. Everything seems to have gone wrong. So, when we live in the body, it is often all confusion. When we are in the soul, it is all illumination. The body right now is unlit, undeveloped and, at the same time, it remains unprogressive. That is why confusion is running riot.

We must never offer attachment to the physical body. At the same time, we must never offer our contempt to the physical body. If we are attached to the body, then we are immediately caught by the fetters of ignorance, and we will be lost in the mire of bondage. Again, if we offer contempt to the body, the physical consciousness, we will never be fully and totally fulfilled here on earth. It is here on earth that we have to realise the Truth, fulfil the Truth and manifest the Truth.

When the hour strikes, that is to say, when the soul rings the inner bell within us, the physical consciousness immediately thinks that it is time for its enjoyment. The vital thinks that it is time to show its capacity in breaking or destroying the creation. Its aggressive or, at best, its dynamic capacity wants to assert itself boldly and show the creation what it can do: how completely, how cleverly, how confidently it can change the plan, the plan that was envisioned by God's Will. The mind thinks that this is the time to doubt God's creation and, at the same time, to doubt the Creator, to doubt His very Existence on earth. The heart feels, when the bell is rung by the soul, "Now is the time for me to cry, cry for Light, Peace, Bliss and inner Power; the power that fulfils and does not destroy, the power of inseparable oneness with God's creation, with God's entire Universe."

When the physical consciousness tries to see the Truth, it usually sees the Truth with tremendous fear. Fearfully and tremulously it sees the Truth. When the vital tries to approach the Truth, it wants to see the Truth by force, by hook or by crook, ruthlessly, without patience. When the mind wants to see the Truth, it sees with the eye of suspicion, doubt, inner turmoil, anxiety and worry. And when the heart wants to see the Truth, it very often sees with joy, delight and soulful prayer.

The body. As an individual, I pride myself on this physical body. What I have and what I am —- it is all my body. The body is the only thing I have to show to the world at large. When I feel that my body is the only thing that I am, then I am nowhere near my realisation, not to speak of my revelation. If the body is the only thing that I can call my very own, then temptation, sense-pleasure, frustration and destruction also belong to me.

If I can say that the soul is my own, if I become one, inseparably one, with the existence of my soul, then only will I see the purpose of my life, the aim of my life, why I have come here, what necessity God has in me and what work He will do through me here on earth. When I live on earth, I live not because others are living here. Many people live on earth. I live on earth precisely because I have a special aim, a mission on earth. Each individual has to feel that he or she has something special to offer; and this message has to come directly from the soul and enter into the physical consciousness.

As an individual, an unlit individual, I boast, I brag. I say, "I have tremendous strength." But look. When an insignificant ant bites me, I am unnerved, I am irritated. When a South Indian mosquito bites me, immediately I become a raving lunatic. A mere mosquito has disturbed my inner poise. I have the strength to destroy hundreds and thousands of mosquitoes. But when I am stung by one mosquito, I am totally lost. One mosquito has robbed my body of all its poise and inner strength. I am conquered by a little mosquito or an ant. Why? Precisely because I live in the body.

If I live in the soul, if my consciousness becomes totally one with the soul which is the source of Light and Delight, then mosquitoes can bite, ants can bite; the whole world, like a venomous snake, can bite, I will remain unperturbed. I will remain in the sea of silence and tranquillity.

The body, the vital and the mind usually fight with one another. They quarrel, they fight, they never listen to one another. But when the soul asks them to do something, immediately they become one and they unanimously reject the offer, the soul's divine offer. If the soul wants to offer them light, inner light, individually or collectively, the body, the vital and the mind become, at that very moment, inseparable. In collusion they reject the soul's light. In the field of spirituality, they negate their own inner possibilities through their ignorance.

"Atmanam rathinam viddhi shariram rathameva tu." In the Katha Upanishad, one of India's loftiest and best-known Upanishads, we come to learn that the soul is the master, the body is the chariot, and the intellect, or should we say the reasoning capacity, is the charioteer, and the mind is the reins. Now, we need a chariot, we need a charioteer, we need a master of the chariot. Of course, we need a horse, the dynamic energy of the being, but we also need the reins to control that horse, and the reins are represented by the mind. All these we need in order to complete and fulfil our journey.

If we do not enter into the spiritual life, if we do not pay attention to the inner life, then the body is bound to act like a mad elephant, trampling down everything around us. This very body, however, really wants to respect its superiors, the heart and the soul. This body wants to be a perfect instrument. It is only its conscious oneness with something higher that can make the body feel what it really stands for, how much inner capacity it can exercise in the outer world of manifestation. But either we give undue importance to the body or we give no importance at all to the body. Here we commit a deplorable, Himalayan mistake. When we use the body for the sake of enjoyment, sense-pleasure, only to covet, to enjoy, we are misusing the body. We are giving no importance to the soul. At this point we can well think of the great spiritual Master named Maharishi Ramana, a great Yogi. "Why do you pay so much attention to the body? Take it as a banana leaf. Eat your meal, which is placed on the banana leaf and then, after you have eaten, just throw away the banana leaf. It has played its part." Again, if we observe the Truth from another angle, we see that if we just throw the body away and pay no attention to it, we do feel that we are not involved in it but, at the same time, if we discard the body as a banana leaf, seeing it only as a covering for the soul, then how can the manifestation take place here on earth?

The highest Truth can be realised only here on earth. God-discovery and Self-realisation can take place only here on earth. The soul is inside the body. It is the light of the soul that has to come to the fore and illumine our obscure, unlit, undivine consciousness. Once our outer consciousness is illumined, then only there is no difference between the inner and the outer. Now there is a yawning gulf between our inner realisation and illumination and our outer manifestation. Unless and until the inner realisation and the outer life's manifestation go together, we remain incomplete. So let us take the body as the field of manifestation and the soul as the realisation. First we have to realise; then we have to manifest. If we have not realised the Truth, what will there be to manifest? And again, if we have realised something and we cannot manifest it, the Truth is incomplete.

Each seeker, each aspirant, already knows that there are two types of consciousness: finite and infinite. Right now the body possesses, or you can say represents, the finite consciousness. And the inner Divinity, or shall we say the soul, represents the infinite Consciousness. It is here in the finite that the Infinite has to play its role. What we see without is the song of the finite. And what we become and grow into will be the Song of Infinity.

Now, either the finite has to enter into the Infinite, or the Infinite has to enter into the finite. Which is easier: for the father to come to the baby or for the baby to come to the father? Undoubtedly, it is far easier for the father to come to the baby because he has the capacity. But when does the father come to the child? Only when the child cries, cries to be near the father.

In conclusion I wish to quote just a line from India's greatest poet, Rabindranath Tagore. He sang, "Simar majhe nashibo…"

In the finite, in the bosom of the finite, You are playing Your tune, O Infinity. The melody has enchanted me. Its beauty is unparalleled. Again, it is in me and through me You are manifesting Your Infinity. That is why You are All-Beauty. You are utilising the finite to express Your Beauty. You are All-Beauty, You are All-Joy, All-Nectar, All-Delight.