Conditions Are Always Neutral


On pg 254 of the Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, Yoganandaji is quoted: "Conditions are always neutral ... They only appear good or bad, joyful or sad, fortunate or unfortunate owing to the positive or negative attitudes [and expectations] of the mind." Could you please explain this quotation? How are conditions which produce suffering, like illness, neutral? Similarly, how are conditions like the meditative state where we experience joy, peace, even bliss neutral?

—Sameera, India


Dear Friend,

In the deepest recesses of the human mind (and the cosmic mind behind all things), bliss is the only reality. The unceasing flux of pleasure and pain and all the pairs of opposites necessarily means they are conditional states of being. Just as scratching a mosquito bite can feel both pleasurable and painful, the conclusion that one sensation is pleasurable and another painful is determined by the response of the lower mind (ego) to the sensation.

Saints and masters have continually demonstrated the power to rise above pain (and pleasure). The Spirit is victorious over all conditional states, whether objective or subjective. Meditation, more than any other single tool, can re-direct our self-identification from the body and ego-mind to our eternal, ever-blissful, ever unconditioned Self. It is in the Self, therefore that we are above suffering.

Buddha demonstrated this. Jesus did so on the cross (when he forgave his tormentors). Yogananda gave several demonstrations of being pain-free in the midst of the body’s obvious injury or pain. Our teacher, Swami Kriyananda, used to test himself by never taking Novocaine when he went to the dentist (which was frequently owing to childhood deprivation).

I know what I am saying sounds extreme to the average person but many adepts have demonstrated “mind over matter.” Great saints have raised the dead or resurrected their own bodies from the ether of atoms to appear to a disciple.

And yes, even the joy of meditation is something we should accept with equanimity for we cannot know how long or deep it will last. Every great saint attests to the “dark night of the soul (ego, actually)” wherein at some point, usually right before samadhi or enlightenment, the inner light of divine consolations are removed as the final test of faith. If at the point of what seems like utter destruction of one’s consciousness one remains steadfastly conscious and in surrender to God, the test will be passed and the light returns.

So, YES! I am not saying this is easy to do but it IS worthwhile to live in this way and with this expectation of our own transcendent, ever-blissful nature as our true reality. Is it not true that when you have a cold or illness or are injured (or are poor, despised, rejected) that we know intuitively that such conditions are foreign to us and (should be) but temporary? Do we not reject pain (and are suspicious of pleasure) as a lasting, permanent reality?

At the same time, we also feel that pain (or pleasure) will, from that point forward, be our permanent reality? We go back and forth, in other words, in our response to these high and low states. “Fiat lux” All is flux! Cling to God; cling to the soul’s blissful nature! God alone as one great saint would put it: God alone!

Chant with the Adi Shankyacharya: “I am free, I am free, blissful Spirit I am HE!”

Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA