Existence, non-existence and the sourceUniversity of Connecticut at Storrs; Storrs, Connecticut, USA
11 February 1972
Sat and asat are two terms in Indian philosophy which one very often comes across. Sat means 'existence', and asat means 'non-existence'. Existence is something that becomes, that grows and that fulfils. Non-existence is something that negates its own reality and its own divinity. Existence is everywhere, but existence has its value or its meaning only when divinity is visible in it. If divinity does not loom large in existence, then that existence is useless. Divinity is the life-breath of existence. Divinity fulfils our aspiring consciousness and reveals our own Immortality here on earth only when we see divinity as something infinite and eternal.
Existence is cherished by the aspiring consciousness and by God's own highest Reality. Reality and existence have to go together. Reality without existence is an impossibility, and existence without reality is an absurdity. Divine Reality and divine Existence always go together.
Existence expresses itself only through Truth. This Truth conquers everything that is untruth. India's motto, Satyam eva jayate, means 'Truth alone triumphs'. What is this Truth? This Truth is at once the Depth of God's Heart and the Height of God's Head.
Truth is our inner promise. Our inner promise, our soul's promise, is that in this incarnation we will realise God, not by hook or by crook, but under the able guidance of our spiritual Master, because we feel that this is what the Supreme within us wants. What for? So that we can serve Him in His own Way.
The highest way of feeling this Truth is to feel this: "If He does not want me to realise Him in this incarnation, but in some future incarnation, I am fully prepared to abide by His decision." But the seeker must have a dynamic feeling. If he just says, "Oh, let me play my role. Let me be nice, sincere, truthful, obedient and, when the time comes, He will do it all," then relaxation comes. Very often when we say, "Let me play my role, and God will take care of my realisation," God does take care of our realisation. But if we feel that if we can become fully realised as soon as possible, then we can be of real help to God, then we are bound to get our realisation faster.
If we have peace, light and bliss, only then can we be of real service to mankind. The idea of God-realisation at God's choice Hour must come from the very depths of our heart, and not from our mental knowledge. Unfortunately, it usually does not come from the heart; it comes only from the clever mind which says, "I have read in books and I have heard from the Master that if I do not want anything from God, then God will give me everything." It is better to pray to God to give you peace of mind so that you can see the Truth in its totality. To ask God for peace of mind is not a crime. If you do not have peace of mind, wherever you are, whether in the subway, or in the country, or in Times Square, there will be no God there for you. God has given us some intelligence. In the morning if you say, "God, it is up to You whether I eat or not. I will just stay here in bed," God is not going to put food into your mouth. No, God has given you the necessary intelligence to know that you have to put forth some effort. You have to leave the bed and take a shower and eat by your own effort.
In the inner life, if you want purity, humility, peace of mind and other divine qualities, then you have to make an effort to get them. It is true that if you do not pray to God for anything then He will give you everything, but this truth has to be understood in its highest sense. If you do not pray to God, or aspire for God-realisation, or even think of God, then how do you expect God to give you everything? He will give you everything on the strength of your absolute faith in Him combined with your sincere inner cry.
The Upanishads come from the Vedas. What is the difference between the gifts which we get from the Vedas and the gifts which we get from the Upanishads? The Vedas are like a storehouse —- everything is there, but it is not kept in proper order. Also, in it there are quite a few things which are unimportant for the modern world, for present-day life, for evolved human beings, for the intelligent or developed mind. The Upanishads come to our rescue. They take the inspiration and aspiration from the Vedas, but they have their own originality. All that is good in the Vedas the Upanishads gladly take and offer in a special manner.
Without the Vedas, the Upanishads do not exist. The Vedas are the source. But the wealth of the Vedas can be offered properly to the generality of mankind only through the Upanishads. The Upanishads have the capacity to enter into the source and the capacity to offer the illumining, fulfilling wealth of the source in a way that can be accepted and understood by humanity at large. They are the end or cream of the Vedas; they are called Vedanta. On the mental plane, on the spiritual plane, on the psychic plane, on the moral plane, all of India's achievements come from the polished, developed, aspiring and illumining consciousness of the Upanishads.
Buddhism is a form of Vedanta philosophy. But the Buddha's philosophy emphasises a special aspect of Vedanta. We speak of the Buddha as the Lord of Compassion. We speak of the Buddha's moral ethics. Where did all this come from? From Vedanta. But while expressing the Vedantic or Upanishadic truth, the Buddha offered his own inner light in a specific way. That is why ordinary human beings find it difficult to believe that Vedanta was the original source of the Buddha's teachings.
In the Western world we have Pythagoras and Plato, two great philosophers. You can see that the philosophy of both of them, and especially of Plato, has been greatly inspired by Upanishadic thought.
The world has received many significant things from the Upanishads, but unfortunately the world does not want to offer credit to the source. No harm. A child takes money from his parents and tells his friends that it is his money. Friends of his age believe that it is his, but adults will say, "He does not work. Where can he get money?" They know that he has received it from his parents. Millions of people have been inspired by the Upanishadic lore, consciously or unconsciously. In India and in the West there are many paths, many religions, which have taken abundant light from the Upanishads, but they find it hard to give credit to the source.
The Upanishadic Seers abide within us. They do not need any appreciation or recognition. What do they want? What do they expect? From the genuine seekers and followers of Truth, what they want and expect is the application of the Truth which has been offered. If the Truth is applied in our daily lives, no matter where it came from, divinity will loom large in us, and divinity will offer appreciation, admiration and glorification to the source. Even God does not expect or demand anything more from us as long as we apply the Truth in our own lives consciously, constantly, devotedly, soulfully and unconditionally.