Swami Vivekananda: No; but we know it by its fruits. An idiot, when he goes to sleep, comes out of a sleep an idiot, or even worse. But another man goes into the state of meditation, and when he comes out he is a philosopher, a sage, a great man. That shows the difference between these two states.
What is the cause of illusion? The question has been asked for the last three thousand years; and the only answer is, when the world is able to formulate a logical question, we will answer it.
Each soul is a circle. The centre is where the body is, and the activity is manifested there. You are omnipresent, though you have the consciousness of being concentrated in only one point. That point has taken up particles of matter, and formed them into a machine to express itself. That through which it expresses itself is called the body. You are everywhere. When one body or machine fails you, the centre moves on and takes up other particles of matter, finer or grosser, and works through them. Here is man, and what is God? God is a circle, with circumference nowhere, and centre everywhere. Every point in that circle is living, conscious, active, and equally working. With our limited souls, only one point is conscious, and that point moves forward and backward.
Soul in a circle whose circumference is nowhere (limitless) but whose centre is in some body. Death is but a change of centre. God is a circle whose circumference is nowhere, and whose centre is everywhere. When we can get out of the limited centre of body, we shall realize God, our true self.
Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest the divinity within, by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy,-by one or more or all these, -and be free. This is all of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.
The Vedantist says that a man neither is born nor dies nor goes to heaven, and that reincarnation is really a myth with regard to the soul. The example is given of a book being turned over. It is the book that evolves, not the man. Every soul is omnipresent, so where can it come and go? These births and deaths are changes in nature which we are mistaking for changes in us.
Reincarnation is the evolution of nature and the manifestation of the God within.
The Vedanta says that each life is built upon the past, and that when we can look back over the whole past we are free. The desire to be free will take the form of a religious disposition from childhood. A few years will, as it were, make all truth clear to one. After leaving this life, and while waiting for the next, a man is still in the phenomenal.
The struggle never had meaning for the man who is free. But for us it has a meaning, because it is name and form that creates the world.
I cannot see how it can be otherwise than that all knowledge is stored up in us from the beginning. If you and I are little waves in the ocean, then that ocean is the background.
We would describe the soul in these words: “This soul the sword cannot cut, nor the spear pierce; him the fire cannot burn nor water melt; indestructible, omnipresent is this soul. Therefore weep not for it.”
We have no theory of evil. We call it ignorance.
So far as it goes, all dealing with other people, all ethics, are in the phenomenal world. As a most complete statement of truth, we would not think of applying such things as ignorance to God. Of him we say that He is Existence, Knowledge, and Bliss Absolute. Every effort of thought and speech will make the Absolute phenomenal, and break its character.
We have a place for struggle in the Vedanta, but not for fear. All fears will vanish when you begin to assert your own nature. If you think that you are bound, bound you will remain. If you think you are free, free you will be.
That sort of freedom which we can feel when we are yet in the phenomenal is a glimpse of the real, but not yet the real.
There is really no difference between matter, mind, and spirit. They are only different phases of experiencing the one. This very world is seen by the five senses as matter, by the very wicked as hell, by the good as heaven, and by the perfect as God.
The Vedanta recognizes the reasoning power of man a good deal, although it says there is something higher than intellect; but the road lies through intellect.
If we can stop all thought, then we know that we are beyond thought. We come to this by negation. When every phenomenon has been negated, whatever remains, that is it. That cannot be expressed, cannot be manifested, because the manifestation will be again will.
It is true that we create a system, but have to admit that it is not perfect, because the reality must be beyond all systems, and are ready to show that this is the only rational system that can be; but it is not perfect because reason is not perfect. It is, however, the only possible rational system that the human mind can conceive.
We have been low animals once. We think they are something different from us. I hear Western people say: “The world was created for me.” If tigers could write books, they would say man was created for them, and that man is a most sinful animal, because he does not allow him (the tiger) to catch him easily. The worm that crawls under your feet to-day is a God to be.
We say that it is freedom that we are to seek, and that that freedom is God. It is the same happiness as in everything else; but when man seeks it in something which is finite, he gets only a spark of it. The thief when he steals gets the same happiness as the man who finds it in God; but the thief gets only a little spark, with a mass of misery. The real happiness is God. Love is God, freedom is God; and everything that is bondage is not God.
If we could get rid of the belief in our limitations, it would be possible for us to do everything just now. It is only a question of time. If that is so, add power, and so diminish time. Remember the case of the professor who learned the secret of the development of marble, and who made marble in twelve years, while it took nature centuries.
When a man realizes, he gives up everything. The various sects and ceremonies and books, so far as they are the means of arriving at that point, are all right. But when they fail in that, we must change them. “The knowing one must not despise the condition of the ignorant, nor should the knowing one destroy the faith of the ignorant in their own particular method, but by proper action lead them, and show them the path to come to where he stands.”
The astral body is what we call the Linga Carira. When this body dies, how can it come to take another body? Force cannot remain without matter. So a little part of the fine matter remains, through which the internal organs make another body,-for each one is making his own body; it is the mind that makes the body. If I become a sage, my brain gets changed into a sage’s brain; and the Yogis say that even in this life a Yogi can change his body into a god-body.
Questioner: If you ever reach that state, can you ever tell about it?