The Objective and Subjective
Knowledge is an action exclusively confined neither to the material world nor to the abstract world.
- Rather, it is a happy blending of the physical and mental strata.
The faculty of knowledge:
- stems from anubhava or perception and
- reaches its highest point in the state of realization.
You can acquire knowledge about an elephant in various ways, either through seeing it or hearing it.
These result is the formation of a mental image of an elephant, where almost all of your mental body is metamorphosed into that same mental elephant.
- Only a microscopic portion of your mind remains as the witnessing entity.
Whenever an action of knowing takes place within the mind:
- a portion of it plays the subjective role and
- another portion plays the objective role.
The mind is divided into 2 chambers:
- The objective chamber
This is formed from almost all the ectoplasmic stuff.
- The subjective chamber
This is formed from that portion which is the knowing self.
If you visualize an elephant, a major portion of the mental body is transformed into a mental elephant.
In the wakeful state, when your conscious mind remains active, you understand that you are visualizing a mental elephant, but are not aware that your mental body has been converted into that very same elephant.
In dreams, one takes the mental elephant to be a real one, because the real world is non-existent.
Naturally, in dreams one fabricates a world previously experienced in the wakeful state and accordingly thinks that the things dreamt are real.
But if the mind is disturbed as a result of some serious accident or disaster, the dream world is shattered.
This mental disturbance may take place in the wakeful state as well as in sleep. For instance, in a dream you may visualize that you are flying high in the sky in a puśpaka rath (a mythological flying chariot).
Suddenly the horse of the chariot stops flying and the chariot starts falling like lightning. Now if in a wakeful state your vehicle happened to fall in such a dangerous way, you would be frightened out of your wits. In a dream that same fear makes you jump, and as a result of the jumping, the dream chariot no longer remains intact and you wake up.
The mind takes less time to dream an action than the body does to perform it. That is, it will take you four to five days to go to Delhi, enact a scene and then return; but in a dream it can be completed in a few seconds. This is only because the mind’s speed is greater than that of the body. Perhaps you hardly dreamt for one or two minutes and yet, on completing the dream, you felt as if you had been dreaming for a long time. In fact, you dreamt for only two to three minutes.
When a dream-object, an object of imagination, seems to be absolutely real, in such cases there is also a marked change in the personality also. Being obsessed with ghosts is a case in point. People who are obsessed with ghosts think that they have become the ghost. Being possessed by spirits is yet another case of this type: the affected persons think of themselves as a deity. Now, in order to free their minds from the thought of ghosts, one will have to induce a traumatic jolt in their bodies; one will have to create some sort of frightful circumstance that will startle them. Various methods may be used for this purpose, after which they will realize their error: that they wrongly identified themselves with their mental objects.
Sometimes it also happens that when the thought of an object from the natural world comes within the objective chamber of the mind, one’s ectoplasmic stuff becomes so concentrated that it can be utilized in various ways. There are some people who, employing certain methods, misuse their ectoplasmic strength. For instance, they might, with their ectoplasmic strength, cause bones or sticks to fall to the ground, while sitting in a corner some distance away. Common people wrongly take these actions to be those of a ghost. The fact is quite different. If you can locate the persons who are doing this, you should give them a good shaking to completely destroy their ectoplasmic strength. Then they will be forced to stop their roguery. This science of the application of ectoplasmic strength through the objective mind upon external events or objects is known as rákśasii vidyá in Sanskrit.
There is a story in the Rámáyańa to illustrate this point. Once Angada, the son of Bali, went to King Ravana’s court to present his credentials to him. Seated there at the time were King Ravana, his son Meghanatha (otherwise called Indrajit), and his nineteen ministers. When Angada appeared in court, Ravana was there in his usual form, but those nineteen ministers, in order to misguide Angada, began to ideate mentally that they were also Ravana. Angada was very confused since those ministers appeared to him as the exact replicas of Ravana, even though they were actually in their own forms.
They were merely ideating inwardly that they looked like Ravana. The impact of such ideating and their collective ectoplasmic strength had its effect on Angada’s mind. Angada started seeing as many as twenty Ravanas sitting in the court. How many Ravanas were there, he wondered in great confusion. (Meghanatha did not think in the same way as the ministers, and hence his form remained unaffected. For how could he think himself to be a replica of Ravana, his own father?
So he appeared to be sitting as usual). In this case the nineteen ministers were fully utilizing the ectoplasmic strength of the objective chambers of their respective minds. Their physical bodies were still motionless, just as in spiritual practice when one is required to direct one’s mind towards Parama Puruśa, one is not expected to move, walk, practise sit-ups or push-ups, etc. Angada contrived a plan to create some disturbance in the minds of those assumed personalities, otherwise, how could he distinguish the actual Ravana from the others, and to whom should he submit his credentials?
So he decided to anger the ministers in order to make them lose their mental concentration and thus remove their assumed personalities. Addressing Indrajit, Angada said: “Indrajit, my dear friend. I see twenty Ravanas! Is every one of them your father?” This angered all the ministers, and immediately the concentration of the objective chambers of their minds was disturbed and they resumed their original forms.
Something more must be said about the objective mind. The faculty of knowledge, as we know, is the subjectivization of external objectivity. Now, the subjectivization of anything external is the first step towards the supreme subjectivization. When the objective mind first subjectivizes an external elephant, the first phase is the objectivization of mind, and to know that external fact is objective knowledge. Now, is there any other aspect to the faculty of knowledge? Yes, indeed there is.
Various psychic diseases may arise if there is any defect in the process of the objectivization of mind. Remember that psychic disease and brain disease are not the same thing; they are quite different. Brain disease occurs due to some disorder in a part of the brain, or due to a congenital defect, or perhaps due to hereditary causes which hamper the proper formation of the brain. Mental disease is different. It arises due to a disorder in the objectivated mind, in the first stage in the process of subjectivization. Many people who, while creating thoughts in their objectivated minds, repeatedly form the same image out of weakness or fear, suffer from a mental disease called mania.
Kansa, one week before his death, repeatedly thought of nothing but Krśńa. Whether he liked it or not, his objectivated mind created the image of Krśńa, and he thought that Krśńa would kill him. In whichever direction he looked, be it towards water, land or sky, his objectivated mind created forms of Krśńa, and in this his objectivated mind became stronger than his subjective mind. This meant his mental death, and mental death leads to physical death.
Another case in point is hydrophobia. Suppose a dog has bitten a person and the person has become terribly frightened. His or her objectivated mind sees only the images of dogs, dogs on all sides. This is called hydrophobia.(1) Therefore, humans should have full control over their objectivated minds to avert serious psychic problems.
It often happens that, not due to fear, but because of weakness, the same image repeatedly arises in the mind. This is called mania. Among women in certain countries one such mania occurs: touch-mania. They tell the so-called low caste people, or even their own people, not to touch them, to keep away. While walking they take particular care not to touch or be touched by things considered unholy according to their prejudiced judgment.
In these cases, their objectivated minds are full of so-called contaminated objects. As their minds constantly entertain those unclean things, externally they condemn them. They judge people in terms of casteism and thus their minds become dens of impure and mean thoughts. Once I saw a so-called low-caste woman come to show her grandchild to another woman. The latter woman, who was a chronic victim of touch-mania, would not touch the child, but rather bestowed her affection on it keeping a safe distance, and thus maintaining her so-called purity. This is a case of mania.
There was another person I knew who was quite healthy and carried out his daily activities with ease, and yet he was under the impression, for no particular reason, that there was some trouble in his stomach. Actually there was no disease; he was in good health. Yet occasionally he used to come to me and complain that there was some disorder in his stomach. This was his mania.
Moreover, because of problems in the objectivated mind, people suffer from various psychic complexes. For example, there are those who are inclined to think that no one, neither their friends and relatives nor even their domestic animals, cares to think of them. They unnecessarily think that everyone deliberately avoids them, dislikes them, or ignores them, and therefore they become disappointed, dejected, and dispirited. Life loses all its charm and attraction for them, and they may even commit suicide. This type of mania is called melancholia.
A defect in the objectivated mind may also cause inferiority complex or superiority complex. When the objectivated mind becomes large enough to pamper one’s ego, one develops a superiority complex. One starts considering oneself to be superior to others in points of knowledge, the capacity to act, organizational calibre and other qualities of leadership, and unnecessarily slights others. Such a person expects preferential treatment, VIP status, and unquestioning obedience. If by accident their ego is hurt even slightly, they become violently angry. This is another kind of mania.
Conversely, there are those who exert too much control over their objectivated minds, which results in the mind’s constriction. In such a state their minds fail to grasp noble ideas, and such people start considering themselves to be inferior to others in all respects – education, social position, etc. Normally such people become unnecessarily nervous and begin to falter or fumble before their elders and seniors: they lack self-confidence and faith in themselves. This is inferiority complex. The best way to cure such people is to generate self-confidence in them by frequently advising them not to feel inferior to anyone. Slowly, gradually, they will free themselves from their inferiority complex and the feeling of superiority will increase.
But one must be careful that, after a certain stage, a superiority complex is not allowed to develop.
Most psychic diseases, if not all, grow out of the defective control over the objectivated mind. If one is alert, any trouble can be avoided. Those who regularly practise Iishvara prańidhána or dhyána (meditation) can remain free from these diseases, as their minds will remain in a balanced state.
One of the numerous benefits of sádhaná is that it keeps the mind free from psychic disease and encourages the natural growth of the mind. This is of tremendous importance since such problems may arise not only in individual life, but in collective life as well. Individual human beings as well as large communities often suffer from some sort of psychic disease. A subjugated people suffer from an inferiority complex towards the sovereign elite, the ruling class.
When India was a dependent colony, many Indians used to describe the members of the ruling community as God’s children, obviously due to their deep-rooted inferiority complex. Most of them wondered: “Will India ever see the light of freedom? When will we ever win the struggle against the ruling class?”
This shows that the entire indigenous community was a victim of inferiority complex, the removal of which would require a group of leaders endowed with enormous mental strength and noble character – a group of mighty personalities. India at that time was not fortunate enough to have such great people, and that is why the struggle for Indian freedom had to be prolonged. Otherwise, India could have gained freedom in a much shorter time.
I say all this because psychic diseases, as I have just pointed out, affect not only individuals but collective bodies as well. You must remain vigilant so that in your individual life you do not become the victim of a psychic disease, and so that if there is any such psychic disease in collective life, you see that it is eliminated.
11 May 1980, Calcutta