Chapter 8: Animal, Vegetable or God?
The greater the unconsciousness, the nearer you will sit. Therefore the worshippers of manifest nature will necessarily be in unconsciousness. These devotees of the sense organs will have to discover various ways and means to remain in unconsciousness. Hence they must always, by and by, seek out new intoxicants. It is no wonder that they resort to drinking wine and spirits. Actually, it is impossible for a devotee of the sense organs to be away from intoxicants for long. And whenever the number of such devotees goes on multiplying, more and more new ways and means will be discovered to remain unconscious. To be absorbed in the enjoyment of the sense organs, to sit nearer to the sense organs, it is good to keep the mind unconscious and lacking discretion. It is necessary to hold the mind in trance, in insensibility, if you want to be angry or greedy or full of sexual desire. Only in such an unconscious state of mind can you sit near, and worship, manifest nature.
So you see this sutra of the Upanishad is very significant. It says, they enter darkness who are absorbed in the worship of the manifest, the visible. It also says something else - that they enter greater darkness who are absorbed in the worship of the ego. The worship of the sense organs is natural. It is a kind of worship practiced even by animals; but no animal is absorbed in the worship of karma upasana - that is, in the satisfaction of ego. It is necessary to understand this a bit. The worship of karma upasana is a faculty unique to man.
Suppose a man is seeking prestige. There is no direct possibility of satisfying any particular sense organ by obtaining a certain professional position. By acquiring a certain status a man may make it easier for himself to indirectly satisfy certain sense organs, but there is no direct possibility of satisfaction. The sense organs have no direct link with status. The interest or desire to seek status does not belong to the sense organs, it pertains to ego - to “I am somebody.” It is true that to be a somebody will offer greater facilities for satisfying the sense organs than one has if one is a nobody, but “I am somebody” has its own absorption and pleasure. It is this interest - the satisfying of one’s ego - that is meant by karma upasana.
The Upanishads say such a person goes into greater darkness. He enters greater darkness than that of animals because the interest which animals take is natural and physical. A person takes interest in eating: it is animal-like. In a sense, he is an animal. But suppose a person takes an interest in politics and goes on seeking position after position; such a person is worse than an animal. His interest is not natural at all, it is perverted. The interest derived from holding a particular post does not satisfy any sense organ, any natural organ. It is a very unnatural growth. The knot, the tumor, of ego within goes on increasing and gives him the pleasure of feeling, “I am somebody and the other is nobody.” It is the interest in domination, the pleasure of power over others. It is the interest in crushing others in one’s fist. It is the pleasure of crushing the necks of others.
Therefore the meaning of the worship of karma prakriti lies in the various ways and means designed to satisfy ego. They may be directed towards fame, towards status, towards wealth. True, a person obtains more facilities to satisfy his worldly desires if he has money. If he has no money he has to face many difficulties; but there are some people who worship money for money’s sake. They do not worship it because with money they may be able to buy a beautiful woman or good food. They worship it only with the idea that they will be somebody if they have money. The question of being able to buy something does not worry them. It is not a problem for them.