Swami Dayananda Interview (cont)

The following is the continuation of an interview with Swami Dayananda Saraswati, conducted by John LeKay for Nonduality Magazine. That site is no longer available and the article was submitted by Dhanya. It is in three parts. Read Part 1

NDM: An Indian sage once said, “No learning or knowledge of scriptures is necessary to know the self, as no man requires a mirror to see himself.”     

            Swamiji: He does require a mirror to see his face. No man requires a mirror to find out whether he exists or not, correct. But if he wants to see his face, he requires a mirror.           

            I have no question about myself whether I exist or not. I don’t have a doubt. I don’t need any mirror. Even my eyes and ears, nothing I require, because I exist and therefore I use my eyes. I exist and therefore I use my mind.

            So I am. The problem is who I am. Who is to answer? If I know the answer, I won’t ask the question, ‘Who am I?’ If I don’t know the answer, then I cannot answer myself by asking the question, ‘Who am I?’ Unless the self is going to tell me from inside, ‘Hey, I’m here! I am saccidānanda! [existence-consciousness-limitlessness]’ It’s not going to tell me anything.           

            Why this bugging, ‘Who am I? Who am I?’ bugging. (Laughter) Then you go on bugging, bugging, bugging, bugging – then the self gets bored and blurts out, ‘I’m saccidānanda!’ (Laughter) It’s all ‘Who am I’ bugging, nagging.   

            So understand the topic. You see, nothing is necessary. Scripture is not necessary, nothing is necessary to know yourself, except knowledge. Where do you get it from?

            Wherever you are getting it from, that is called ‘scripture.’           

            You can call it a scripture, or a book, or a teaching – whatever you say – sacred text. We simply say ‘sruti,’ what has come through ears.

NDM: How about through intuition – intuition or insight?   

    Swamiji: Intuition is not a means of knowing. Intuition can give you a hunch and a feeling, maybe this is right. But then afterwards you have to prove this is right.   

    Every research scholar has some kind of intuition, and he assumes that this must be the truth. This must be the reason for a given phenomenon. He has a hunch and that is intuition. Intuition is nothing but a conclusion without having all the leading steps of reasoning. So the human mind is capable of doing that. And one gets a window through which one sees the whole thing. Then he doesn’t know the reasons for all that. Then afterwards he works for it and finds out the reason, and proves what he thought was right was right. That is research. But it’s not a pramāṇa [means of knowledge]. You have to prove.   

    Therefore, what is it that divides wishful thinking from intuition? Wishful thinking and intuition – what is the line that differentiates? There is no line.   

    One person said, “Swamiji, I came from Atlanta because I thought you were calling me.”

    “Hey, you thought I was calling you? You should have checked up, whether I called.”   

    “That is what I thought, you were calling me.”   

    I said, “What you thought that I thought was a wrong thought, okay? (Laughter) That you are here, I am happy. But don’t think that I was calling you. You have got your job and therefore I don’t want to disturb you in any manner. And why should I call you? If I have to call you, I will call you. (Laughter) So, what you thought that I thought was not what I thought.” (Laughter)

    Intuition is over. We don’t count it as a means of knowledge. So, one fellow intuits like this, another fellow says, “I intuit like this.” So what’s the difference between this intuition and another intuition?

    One fellow says, “I intuit atma – the self – is zero.”   

    Each one can say something. It has no validity. It has to stand scrutiny through valid means of knowledge. The knower goes about knowing through various means of knowledge.

How is he going to know himself as Brahman if that is true?           

            “All that is here is me. I am the cause of this entire thing, known and unknown.” That’s an entirely different vision. Sarvatma bhava [the sense that I am the self of all].           

            One fellow claims, “That is free from everything.” Therefore everything else is like a banana peel. The banana peel is not less real than the banana that has gone inside.            

            One fellow threw a banana peel outside and then ate the banana. He had his suit on with new shoes, went out and came back; he forgot about the banana peel he had thrown on the driveway. He stepped on it. (Laughter) He went down sprawling, and the banana he ate came out. Therefore, I always ask the question, “Which is more real, the peel or the banana?” (Laughter)

            Mere negation has the danger of dissociation. The modern Vedanta is like our dealing with garbage. (Laughs) So you have an underworld. We always just flush it out, but it is not totally out. It’s all in somewhere. It joins water, it joins air, it ends up in your salad. Nothing goes away in this world.

            You have to deal with garbage. Therefore it is called jagat garbage—the world garbage. This is, “I am not the stars. I am not the sky. I’m not time. I’m not space. I’m not this. I’m not that. I’m not…” Okay, what about all of them? This is called dissociation.           

            It only denies problems, and the problems will come back in great proportions and completely smother the person. But the truth is, “The subject and object are me.” That is Vedanta. You only get that by teaching.           

            The self is free from all this, and it is just consciousness – that is the reason why they all deny this, deny that, and all. But you have to account for this world, and it is complex. Is it something separate from me? Or if it is me, then what is this? You have to know. Then how do I remain myself at the same time I become all this? What accounts for it, the complexity of it?           

            Take your own body, how complex it is. And therefore, you require to account for all that, and so unless that is all resolved properly there is no question of Vedanta, advaita. Advaita is there is no second thing. There is no banana peel other than the banana and the eater of banana. (Laughter)

Question from audience: If you see the whole creation is mithya [relatively real] – it has no substance – its substance is only in your self – and that you lend the substance to the creation – and it resolves into mithya – why do you need Isvara [the Lord]? Why is there a necessity to have Isvara?           

            Swamiji: Mithya is Isvara [total universal Law and Order]. Mithya consists of all-knowledge, you know. This body is mithya. It’s nothing but knowledge. This whole body is a complex creation, so there is so much knowledge. There is nothing but knowledge here. And every cell is knowledge, every platelet is knowledge, and every organ is knowledge, every function is knowledge. It’s all knowledge. And so once knowledge is the thing, then mithya is only in terms of reality, and that reality is all-knowledge. And so this whole jagat is knowledge. There is nothing more than knowledge, word and meaning.

Word and meaning is knowledge. If you say, ‘chair,’ there is no chair. This is all cloth and then there is something inside, so none of them is chair. All the constituents of this chair are not chair. So if you remove them all, there is no chair. And each one has got a word and meaning. And so, each word if you look into it, there again it becomes many words. So every word has got many words. And any one word again you take among the many words, and then again you have many words.

            So you go like this. That’s how science is never ending. And they go on branching off into small lanes and by lanes. So all-knowledge means – where is this all-knowledge? Same vastu [same reality], is all-knowledge. Then I can understand all-knowledge from the standpoint of the small knowledge I have, because I have buddhi [intellect]. That’s why we call it Hiranyagharbha, all-knowledge, Isvara.

Individual/total, then that’s the difference. That makes all the difference. And the total is never away from the individual. Therefore the absence of alienation from the total, from all that is here, is security and safety for me. So that’s where the sanity lives. That’s where the sanity, well-being and wellness of the person abide.           

            The absence of alienation from the whole is where the sanity is and wellness is. They say, “I am the self.” I go one more step: “I am the whole.” (Laughs)           

            So either way you require Isvara, because you live your life only in Isvara’s domain. If ‘God’ makes the pursuit religious, let it be religious. We are afraid of religion because of religious teachers, (laughter), not because of God. The religious teachers have presented God as a punishing God.

God the Father makes an offer that I cannot refuse, “Either you come to me or go to Hell!” (Laughter)           

            If a godfather makes an offer, I can get him before he gets me, because he is locally available. But this God sitting in Heaven and makes an offer that I cannot refuse, I can’t even get him. (Laughs)

Read Part 3

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About Dhanya

Dhanya developed an interest in Hinduism and Eastern philosophy in the early 1970s. In 1973, she traveled to India in search of a guru to guide her on the spiritual path. While there she encountered disciples of Neem Karoli Baba and his teachings of bhakti and karma yoga which influenced her life from then on. She studied Vipasana meditation for some time with S.N. Goenkaji beginning in 1974. In 1991 she met HWL Poonja, whose words sparked a desire in her to understand the teachings of nonduality. Subsequently she met other advaita teachers, including Jean Klein and Sri Ranjit Maharaj, who were great sources of inspiration to her. In 2002 she met her current teacher, Dr. Carol Whitfield, a traditional teacher of Advaita/Vedanta and a disciple of Swami Dayananda Saraswati. Having found a teaching and a teacher with whom she has a deep resonance and who clearly and effectively elucidate the means for self-knowledge, Dhanya now lives in Northern California, where she studies Vedanta and writes on the topic of nonduality.