INFORMAL TALKS ON SELFREALIZATION Golden Gate hall, San Francisco, January 18, 1903
[The following talks deal with the objections raised by the readers of the last lecture on “The Way to Self-Realization” which was printed in a pamphlet form in America—Ed. ]
The process of Realization you tell us is imaginary; it has to do more with the imagination and training of thought than with anything else.
To those who make this objection, Vedanta replies:—
Dear Self, reflect a little; dear Self, just think a little. All this world and all the bodies in this world are due to no cause other than imagination. It is your imagination and the current of thought in the wrong direction which brings all your sorrows, your troubles, your anxieties, your difficulties, and your pain. It is imagination and the current of ideas in the wrong direction which binds you, and it is imagination directed in the right channel which liberates you. Similia similibus curantur; like cures like.
The ladder from which you fell, so to speak, is the ladder which will lead you up. You will have to retrace your steps by the same road down which you fell to anxiety and misery. The kind of imagination which Vedanta recommends to you for liberation is just opposite to the form of imagination which brought you low. Thus you are sure to be cured by the process contrara contmrilnis curanta; the contrary cures the contrary.
Vedanta proves that all this world is nothing else but your own ideas, nothing else but your own imagination and your own thought. Now, purify this thought, elevate this thought, direct it aright, and you become the Light of lights, the All throughout the universe.
A man suffers from diarrhoea, and the Doctor gives him a purgative and he is cured. The diarrhoea made him go to the bath-room over and over again. Now a purgative taken willingly acts the same way, but there is a world of difference between the two. A purgative is a remedy while diarrhoea is a disease, and while both work in the same way there is a world of difference between them. Worldly thought enslaves you, it is a disease, it binds you and keeps you at the mercy of all sorts of circumstances; every wind and storm can upset you. The diarrhoea of thought is human ideas. Take up the purgative which Vedanta furnishes. This is also thought to be a kind of imagination. So is all the thought of the world, but worldly thoughts and human ideas are a diarrhoea, and the kind of imagination or thought advocated by Vedanta is a purgative. Take up this purgative and you will be cured of your malady, your disease, you will be relieved of all suffering, anxiety, and trouble.
In East India people do not wash their hands with soap but with ashes. Ashes are one kind of dirt, one kind of earth, and the soil which is polluting your hands is also earth or dirt. Even here when the ashes are applied to the hands, and the hands are washed in water, they not only remove the dirt from the hands, but are also removed themselves.
Similarly, the kind of thought which you will have to dwell upon, the kind of imagination, according to the teachings of Vedanta, is like ashes; it will wash you clean of every impurity and every weakness, it will raise you above the kind of imagination which is inculcated in this.
A man dreams, and in his dreams all sorts of things appear. Those things in the dream are mere ideas, mere thought, mere imagination. Suppose he sees a lion, tiger, or serpent in the dream. Do you know what happens on such occasions? When a man sees a tiger, a lion, or a serpent, he is startled at once, and is awakened. The tiger is a kind of nightmare and wakes him up, but this tiger or lion in the dream, although a creation of your own thought, this object of your dream is a wonderful thought, a wonderful imagination. It takes away all other ideas in the dream; it takes away all other dream objects. The fairy scenes, the beautiful landscapes, the flowing rivers, the majestic mountains of which you were dreaming have all gone after the tiger or the lion is seen in the dream. Now the tiger or lion never eats grass or stones, but the tiger of your dream is a wonderful creation, for the tiger ate up all the landscapes, the woods, the forests; all are gone, it has disturbed the dreaming Self, and at the same time has eaten itself up, it is seen no more when you wake up.
Similarly, the kind of ideas or imagination inculcated in this book is like the tiger in the dream. The whole world is a dream. This tiger will rid you of all false imagination and ignorance, and will at the same time rid you of its own self. It will take you where all imagination stops, where all language stops, it lands you into that indescribable Reality.