By Nisargadatta Maharaj
71. In Self-awareness you Learn about Yourself
It is our repeated experience that the disciples do much harm to their Gurus.
They make plans and carry them out, without considering the Guru's wishes. In
the end there is only endless worry for the Guru and bitterness for his disciples.
Maharaj: Yes, it does happen.
Q: Who compels the Guru to submit to these indignities?
M: The Guru is basically without desire. He sees what happens, but feels no urge to interfere. He makes no choices, takes no decisions. As pure witness, he watches what is going on and remains unaffected.
Q: But his work suffers.
M: Victory is always his -- in the end. He knows that if the disciples do not learn from his words, they will learn from their own mistakes. Inwardly he remains quiet and silent. He has no sense of being a separate person. The entire universe is his own, including his disciples with their petty plans. Nothing in particular affects him, or, which comes to the same, the entire universe affects him in equal measure.
Q: Is there no such thing as the Guru's grace?
M: His grace is constant and universal. It is not given to one and denied to another.
Q: How does it affect me personally?
M: It is by The Guru's grace that your mind is engaged in search for truth and it is by his grace that you will find it. It works unwaringly towards your ultimate good. And it is for all.
Q: Some disciples are ready, mature, and some are not. Must not the Guru exercise choice and make decisions?
M: The Guru knows the Ultimate and relentlessly propels the disciple towards it. The disciple is full of obstacles, which he himself must overcome. The Guru is not very much concerned with the superficialities of the disciple's life. It is like gravitation The fruit must fall -- when no longer held back.
Q: If the disciple does not know the goal, how can he make out the obstacles?
M: The goal is shown by the Guru, obstacles are discovered by the disciple. The Guru has no preferences, but those who have obstacles to overcome seem to be lagging behind.
In reality the disciple is not different from the Guru. He is the same dimensionless centre of perception and love in action. It is only his imagination and self-identification with the imagined, that encloses him and converts him into a person. The Guru is concerned little with the person. His attention is on the inner watcher. It is the task of the watcher to understand and thereby eliminate the person. While there is grace on one side, there must be dedication to the task on the other.
Q: But the person does not want to be eliminated.
M: The person is merely the result of a misunderstanding. In reality, there is no such thing. Feelings, thoughts and actions race before the watcher in endless succession, leaving traces in the brain and creating an illusion of continuity. A reflection of the watcher in the mind creates the sense of 'I' and the person acquires an apparently independent existence. In reality there is no person, only the watcher identifying himself with the 'I' and the 'mine'. The teacher tells the watcher: you are not this, there is nothing of yours in this, except the little point of 'I am', which is the bridge between the watcher and his dream. "I am this, I am that' is dream, while pure 'I am' has the stamp of reality on it. You have tasted so many things -- all came to naught. Only the sense 'I am' persisted -- unchanged. Stay with the changeless among the changeful, until you are able to go beyond.
Q: When will it happen?
M: It will happen as soon as you remove the obstacles.
Q: Which obstacles?
M: Desire for the false and fear of the true. You, as the person, imagine that the Guru is interested in you as a person. Not at all. To him you are a nuisance and a hindrance to be done away with. He actually aims at your elimination as a factor in consciousness.
Q: If I am eliminated, what will remain?
M: Nothing will remain, all will remain. The sense of identity will remain, but no longer identification with a particular body. Being -- awareness -- love will shine in full splendour. Liberation is never of the person, it is always from the person.
Q: And no trace remains of the person?
M: A vague memory remains, like the memory of a dream, or early childhood. After all, what is there to remember? A flow of events, mostly accidental and meaningless. A sequence of desires and fears and inane blunders. Is there anything worth remembering? The person is but a shell imprisoning you. Break the shell.
Q: Whom are you asking to break the shell? Who is to break the shell?
M: Break the bonds of memory and self-identification and the shell will break by itself. There is a centre that imparts reality to whatever it perceives. All you need is to understand that you are the source of reality, that you give reality instead of getting it, that you need no support and no confirmation. Things are as they are, because you accept them as they are. Stop accepting them and they will dissolve. Whatever you think about with desire or fear appears before you as real. Look at it without desire or fear and it does lose substance. Pleasure and pain are momentary. It is simpler and easier to disregard them than to act on them.
Q: If all things come to an end, why did they appear at all?
M: Creation is in the very nature of consciousness. Consciousness causes appearances. Reality is beyond consciousness.
Q: While we are conscious of appearances, how is it that we are not conscious that these are mere appearances?
M: The mind covers up reality, without knowing it. To know the nature of the mind, you need intelligence, the capacity to look at the mind in silent and dispassionate awareness.
Q: If I am of the nature of all-pervading consciousness, how could ignorance and illusion happen to me?
M: Neither ignorance nor illusion ever happened to you. Find the self to which you ascribe ignorance and illusion and your question will be answered. You talk as if you know the self and see it to be under the sway of ignorance and illusion. But, in fact, you do not know the self, nor are you aware of ignorance. By all means become aware -- this will bring you to the self and you will realise that there is neither ignorance nor delusion in it. It is like saying: if there is sun, how can darkness be? As under a stone there will be darkness, however strong the sunlight, so in the shadow of the 'I-am-the-body' consciousness there must be ignorance and illusion.
Q: But why did the body consciousness come into being?
M: Don't ask 'why', ask 'how'. It is in the nature of creative imagination to identify itself with its creations. You can stop it any moment by switching off attention. Or through investigation.
Q: Does creation come before investigation?
M: First you create a world, then the 'I am' becomes a person, who is not happy for various reasons. He goes out in search of happiness, meets a Guru who tells him: 'You are not a person, find who you are'. He does it and goes beyond.
Q: Why did he not do it at the very start?
M: It did not occur to him. He needed somebody to tell him.
Q: Was that enough?
M: It was enough.
Q: Why does it not work in my case?
M: You do not trust me.
Q: Why is my faith weak?
M: Desires and fears have dulled your mind. It needs some scrubbing.
Q: How can I clear my mind?
M: By watching it relentlessly. Inattention obscures, attention clarifies.
Q: Why do the Indian teachers advocate inactivity?
M: Most of people's activities are valueless, if not outright destructive. Dominated by desire and fear, they can do nothing good. Ceasing to do evil precedes beginning to do good. Hence the need for stopping all activities for a time, to investigate one's urges and their motives, see all that is false in one's life, purge the mind of all evil and then only restart work, beginning with one's obvious duties. Of course, if you have a chance to help somebody, by all means do it and promptly too, don't keep him waiting till you are perfect. But do not become a professional do-gooder.
Q: I do not feel there are too many do-gooders among disciples. Most of those I met are too absorbed in their own petty conflicts. They have no heart for others.
M: Such self-centeredness is temporary. Be patient with such people. For so many years they gave attention to everything but themselves. Let them turn to themselves for a change.
Q: What are the fruits of self-awareness?
M: You grow more intelligent. In awareness you learn. In self-awareness you learn about yourself. Of course, you can only learn what you are not. To know what you are, you must go beyond the mind.
Q: Is not awareness beyond the mind?
M: Awareness is the point at which the mind reaches out beyond itself into reality. In awareness you seek not what pleases, but what is true.
Q: I find that awareness brings about a state of inner silence, a state of psychic void.
M: It is all right as it goes, but it is not enough. Have you felt the all-embracing emptiness in which the universe swims like a cloud in the blue sky?
Q: Sir, let me first come to know well my own inner space.
M: Destroy the wall that separates, the 'I-am-the-body' idea and the inner and the outer will become one.
Q: Am I to die?
M: Physical destruction is meaningless. It is the clinging to sensate life that binds you. If you could experience the inner void fully, the explosion into the totality would be near.
Q: My own spiritual experience has its seasons. Sometimes I feel glorious, then again I am down. I am like a little boy -- going up, going down, going up, going down.
M: All changes in consciousness are due to the 'I-am-the-body' idea. Divested of this idea the mind becomes steady. There is pure being, free of experiencing anything in particular. But to realise it you must do what your teacher tells you. Mere listening, even memorizing, is not enough. If you do not struggle hard to apply every word of it in your daily life, don't complain that you made no progress. All real progress is irreversible. Ups and downs merely show that the teaching has not been taken to heart and translated into action fully.
Q: The other day you told us that there is no such thing as karma. Yet we see that every thing has a cause and the sum total of all the causes may be called karma.
M: As long as you believe yourself to be a body, you will ascribe causes to everything. I do not say things have no causes. Each thing has innumerable causes. It is as it is, because the world is as it is. Every cause in its ramifications covers the universe.
When you realise that you are absolutely free to be what you consent to be, that you are what you appear to be because of ignorance or indifference, you are free to revolt and change. You allow yourself to be what you are not. You are looking for the causes of being what you are not! It is a futile search. There are no causes, but your ignorance of your real being, which is perfect and beyond all causation. For whatever happens, all the universe is responsible and you are the source of the universe.
Q: I know nothing about being the cause of the universe.
M: Because you do not investigate. Enquire, search within and you will know.
Q: How can a speck like me create the vast universe?
M: When you are infected with the 'I-am-the-body' virus; a whole universe springs into being. But when you have had enough of it, you cherish some fanciful ideas about liberation and pursue lines of action totally futile. You concentrate, you meditate, you torture your mind and body, you do all sorts of unnecessary things, but you miss the essential which is the elimination of the person.
Q: In the beginning we may have to pray and meditate for some time before we are ready for self-enquiry.
M: If you believe so, go on. To me, all delay is a waste of time. You can skip all the preparation and go directly for the ultimate search within. Of all the Yogas it is the simplest and the shortest.
72. What is Pure, Unalloyed, Unattached is Real
Maharaj: You are back in India! Where have you been, what have you seen?
Questioner: I come from Switzerland. I stayed there with a remarkable man who claims to have realised. He has done many Yogas in his past and had many experiences that passed away. Now he claims no special abilities, nor knowledge; the only unusual thing about him is connected with sensations; he is unable to separate the seer from the seen. For instance, when he sees a car rushing at him, he does not know whether the car is rushing at him, or he at a car. He seems to be both at the same time, the seer and the seen. They become one. Whatever he sees, he sees himself. When I asked him some Vedantic questions he said: 'I really cannot answer. I do not know. All I know is this strange identity with whatever I perceive. You know, I expected anything but this.'
He is on the whole a humble man; he makes no disciples and in no way puts himself on a pedestal. He is willing to talk about his strange condition, but that is all.
M: Now he knows what he knows. All else is over. At least he still talks. Soon he may cease talking.
Q: What will he do then?
M: Immobility and silence are not inactive. The flower fills the space with perfume, the candle -- with light. They do nothing yet they change everything by their mere presence. You can photograph the candle, but not its light. You can know the man, his name and appearance, but not his influence. His very presence is action.
Q: Is it not natural to be active?
M: Everybody wants to be active, but where do his actions originate? There is no central point each action begets another, meaninglessly and painfully, in endless succession. The alternation of work and pause is not there. First find the immutable centre where all movement takes birth. Just like a wheel turns round an axle, so must you be always at the axle in the centre and not whirling at the periphery.
Q: How do I go about it in practice?
M: Whenever a thought or emotion of desire or fear comes to your mind, just turn away from it.
Q: By suppressing my thoughts and feelings I shall provoke a reaction.
M: I am not talking of suppression. Just refuse attention.
Q: Must I not use effort to arrest the movements of the mind?
M: It has nothing to do with effort. Just turn away, look between the thoughts, rather than at the thoughts. When you happen to walk in a crowd, you do not fight every man you meet -- you just find your way between.
Q: If I use my will to control the mind, it only strengthens the ego.
M: Of course. When you fight, you invite a fight. But when you do not resist, you meet with no resistance. When you refuse to play the game, you are out of it.
Q: How long will it take me to get free of the mind?
M: It may take a thousand years, but really no time is required. All you need is to be in dead earnest. Here the will is the deed. If you are sincere, you have it. After all, it is a matter of attitude. Nothing stops you from being a jnani here and now, except fear. You are afraid of being impersonal, of impersonal being. It is all quite simple. Turn away from your desires and fears and from the thoughts they create and you are at once in your natural state.
Q: No question of reconditioning, changing, or eliminating the mind?
M: Absolutely none. Leave your mind alone, that is all. Don't go along with it. After all, there is no such thing as mind apart from thoughts which come and go obeying their own laws, not yours. They dominate you only because you are interested in them. It is exactly as Christ said 'Resist not evil'. By resisting evil you merely strengthen it.
Q: Yes, I see now. All I have to do is to deny existence to evil. Then it fades away. But does it not boil down to some kind of auto-suggestion?
M: The auto-suggestion is in full swing now, when you think yourself to be a person, caught between good and evil. What I am asking you to do is to put an end to it, to wake up and see things as they are.
About your stay in Switzerland with that strange friend of yours: what did you gain in his company?
Q: Nothing absolutely. His experience did not affect me at all. One thing I have understood: there is nothing to search for. Wherever I may go, nothing waits for me at the end of the journey. Discovery is not the result of transportation.
M: Yes, you are quite apart from anything that can be gained or lost.
Q: Do you call it vairagya, relinquishment, renunciation?
M: There is nothing to renounce. Enough if you stop acquiring. To give you must have, and to have you must take. Better don't take. It is simpler than to practice renunciation, which leads to a dangerous form of 'spiritual' pride.
All this weighing, selecting, choosing, exchanging -- it is all shopping in some 'spiritual' market. What is your business there? What deal are you out to strike? When you are not out for business, what is the use of this endless anxiety of choice? Restlessness takes you nowhere. Something prevents you from seeing that there is nothing you need. Find it out and see its falseness. It is like having swallowed some poison and suffering from unquenchable craving for water. Instead of drinking beyond all measure, why not eliminate the poison and be free of this burning thirst?
Q: I shall have to eliminate the ego!
M: The sense 'I am a person in time and space' is the poison. In a way, time itself is the poison. In time all things come to an end and new are born, to be devoured in their turn. Do not identify yourself with time, do not ask anxiously: 'what next, what next?' Step out of time and see it devour the world. Say: 'Well, it is in the nature of time to put an end to everything. Let it be. It does not concern me. I am not combustible, nor do I need to collect fuel'.
Q: Can the witness be without the things to witness?
M: There is always something to witness. If not a thing, then its absence. Witnessing is natural and no problem. The problem is excessive interest, leading to self-identification. Whatever you are engrossed in you take to be real.
Q: Is the 'I am' real or unreal? Is the 'I am' the witness? Is the witness real or unreal?
M: What is pure, unalloyed, unattached, is real. What is tainted, mixed up, dependent and transient is unreal. Do not be misled by words -- one word may convey several and even contradictory meanings. The 'I am" that pursues the pleasant and shuns the unpleasant is false; the 'I am' that sees pleasure and pain as inseparable sees rightly. The witness that is enmeshed in what he perceives is the person; the witness who stands aloof, unmoved and untouched, is the watch-tower of the real, the point at which awareness, inherent in the unmanifested, contacts the manifested. There can be no universe without the witness, there can be no witness without the universe.
Q: Time consumes the world. Who is the witness of time?
M: He who is beyond time -- the Un-nameable. A glowing ember, moved round and round quickly enough, appears as a glowing circle. When the movement ceases, the ember remains. Similarly, the 'I am' in movement creates the world. The 'I am' at peace becomes the Absolute. You are like a man with an electric torch walking through a gallery. You can see only what is within the beam. The rest is in darkness.
Q: If I project the world, I should be able to change it.
M: Of course, you can. But you must cease identifying yourself with it and go beyond. Then you have the power to destroy and re-create.
Q: All I want is to be free.
M: You must know two things: What are you to be free from and what keeps you bound.
Q: Why do you want to annihilate the universe?
M: I am not concerned with the universe. Let it be or not be. It is enough if I know myself.
Q: If you are beyond the world, then you are of no use to the world.
M: Pity the self that is, not the world that is not! Engrossed in a dream you have forgotten your true self.
Q: Without the world there is no place for love.
M: Quite so. All these attributes; being, consciousness, love and beauty are reflections of the real in the world. No real -- no reflection.
Q: The world is full of desirable things and people. How can I imagine it non-existent?
M: Leave the desirable to those who desire. Change the current of your desire from taking to giving. The passion for giving, for sharing, will naturally wash the idea of an external world out of your mind, and of giving as well. Only the pure radiance of love will remain, beyond giving and receiving.
Q: In love there must be duality, the lover and the beloved.
M: In love there is not the one even, how can there be two? Love is the refusal to separate, to make distinctions. Before you can think of unity, you must first create duality. When you truly love, you do not say: 'I love you'; where there is mentation, there is duality.
Q: What is it that brings me again and again to India? It cannot be only the comparative cheapness of life here? Nor the colourfulness and variety of impressions. There must be some more important factor.
M: There is also the spiritual aspect. The division between the outer and the inner is less in India. It is easier here to express the inner in the outer. Integration is easier. Society is not so oppressive.
Q: Yes, in the West it is all tamas and rajas. In India there is more of sattva, of harmony and balance.
M: Can't you go beyond the gunas? Why choose the sattva? Be what you are, wherever you are and worry not about gunas.
Q: I have not the strength.
M: It merely shows that you have gained little in India. What you truly have you cannot lose. Were you well-grounded in your self, change of place would not affect it.
Q: In India spiritual life is easy. It is not so in the West. One has to conform to environment to a much greater extent.
M: Why don't you create your own environment? The world has only as much power over you as you give it. Rebel. Go beyond duality, make no difference between east and west.
Q: What can one do when one finds oneself in a very unspiritual environment?
M: Do nothing. Be yourself. Stay out. Look beyond.
Q: There may be clashes at home. Parents rarely understand.
M: When you know your true being, you have no problems. You may please your parents or not, marry or not, make a lot of money or not; it is all the same to you. Just act according to circumstances, yet in close touch with the facts, with the reality in every situation.
Q: Is it not a very high state?
M: Oh no, it is the normal state. You call it high because you are afraid of it. First be free from fear. See that there is nothing to be afraid of. Fearlessness is the door to the Supreme.
Q: No amount of effort can make me fearless.
M: Fearlessness comes by itself, when you see that there is nothing to be afraid of. When you walk in a crowded street, you just bypass people. Some you see, some you just glance at, but you do not stop. It is the stopping that creates the bottleneck. Keep moving! Disregard names and shapes, don't be attached to them; your attachment is your bondage.
Q: What should I do when a man slaps me on my face?
M: You will react according to your character, inborn or acquired.
Q: Is it inevitable? Am I, is the world, condemned to remain as we are?
M: A jeweller who wants to refashion an ornament, first melts it town to shapeless gold. Similarly, one must return to one's original state before a new name and form can emerge. Death is essential for renewal.
Q: You are always stressing the need of going beyond, of aloofness, of solitude. You hardly ever use the words 'right' and 'wrong'. Why is it so?
M: It is right to be oneself, it is wrong not to be. All else is conditional. You are eager to separate right from wrong, because you need some basis for action. You are always after doing something or other. But, personally motivated action, based on some scale of values, aiming at some result is worse than inaction, for its fruits are always bitter.
Q: Are awareness and love one and the same?
M: Of course. Awareness is dynamic, love is being. Awareness is love in action. By itself the mind can actualise any number of possibilities, but unless they are prompted by love, they are valueless. Love precedes creation. Without it there is only chaos.
Q: Where is the action in awareness?
M: You are so incurably operational! Unless there is movement, restlessness, turmoil, you do not call it action. Chaos is movement for movement's sake. True action does not displace; it transforms. A change of place is mere transportation; a change of heart is action. Just remember, nothing perceivable is real. Activity is not action. Action is hidden, unknown, unknowable. You can only know the fruit.
Q: Is not God the all-doer?
M: Why do you bring in an outer doer? The world recreates itself out of itself. It is an endless process, the transitory begetting the transitory. It is your ego that makes you think that there must be a doer. You create a God to your own Image, however dismal the image. Through the film of your mind you project a world and also a God to give it cause and purpose. It is all imagination -- step out of it.
Q: How difficult it is to see the world as purely mental! The tangible reality of it seems so very convincing.
M: This is the mystery of imagination, that it seems to be so real. You may be celibate or married, a monk or a family man; that is not the point. Are you a slave of your imagination, or are you not? Whatever decision you take, whatever work you do, it will be invariably based on imagination, on assumptions parading as facts.
Q: Here I am sitting in front of you. What part of it is imagination?
M: The whole of it. Even space and time are imagined.
Q: Does it mean that I don't exist?
M: I too do not exist. All existence is imaginary.
Q: Is being too imaginary?
M: Pure being, filling all and beyond all, is not existence which is limited. All limitation is imaginary, only the unlimited is real.
Q: When you look at me, what do you see?
M: I see you imagining yourself to be.
Q: There are many like me. Yet each is different.
M: The totality of all projections is what is called maha-maya, the Great Illusion.
Q: But when you look at yourself, what do you see?
M: It depends how I look. When I look through the mind, I see numberless people. When I look beyond the mind, I see the witness. Beyond the witness there is the infinite intensity of emptiness and silence.
Q: How to deal with people?
M: Why make plans and what for? Such questions show anxiety. Relationship is a living thing. Be at peace with your inner self and you will be at peace with everybody.
realise that you are not the master of what happens, you cannot control the future except in purely technical matters. Human relationship cannot be planned, it is too rich and varied. Just be understanding and compassionate, free of all self seeking.
Q: Surely, I am not the master of what happens. Its slave rather.
M: Be neither master, nor slave. Stand aloof.
Q: Does it imply avoidance of action?
M: You cannot avoid action. It happens, like everything else.
Q: My actions, surely, I can control.
M: Try. You will soon see that you do what you must.
Q: I can act according to my will.
M: You know your will only after you have acted.
Q: I remember my desires, the choices made, the decisions taken and act accordingly.
M: Then your memory decides, not you.
Q: Where do I come in?
M: You make it possible by giving it attention.
Q: Is there no such thing as free will? Am I not free to desire?
M: Oh no, you are compelled to desire. In Hinduism the very idea of free will is non-existent, so there is no word for it. Will is commitment, fixation, bondage.
Q: I am free to choose my limitations.
M: You must be free first. To be free in the world you must be free of the world. Otherwise your past decides for you and your future. Between what had happened and what must happen you are caught. Call it destiny or karma, but never -- freedom. First return to your true being and then act from the heart of love.
Q: Within the manifested what is the stamp of the unmanifested?
M: There is none. The moment you begin to look for the stamp of the unmanifested, the manifested dissolves. If you try to understand the unmanifested with the mind, you at once go beyond the mind, like when you stir the fire with a wooden stick, you burn the stick. Use the mind to investigate the manifested. Be like the chick that pecks at the shell. Speculating about life outside the shell would have been of little use to it, but pecking at the shell breaks the shell from within and liberates the chick. Similarly, break the mind from within by investigation and exposure of its contradictions and absurdities.
Q: The longing to break the shell, where does it come from?
M: From the unmanifested.
73. Death of the Mind is Birth of Wisdom
Questioner: Before one can realise one's true nature need not one be a person? Does not the ego have its value?
Maharaj: The person is of little use. It is deeply involved in its own affairs and is completely ignorant of its true being. Unless the witnessing consciousness begins to play on the person and it becomes the object of observation rather than the subject, realisation is not feasible. It is the witness that makes realisation desirable and attainable.
Q: There comes a point in a person's life when it becomes the witness.
M: Oh, no. The person by itself will not become the witness. It is like expecting a cold candle to start burning in the course of time. The person can stay in the darkness of ignorance forever, unless the flame of awareness touches it.
Q: Who lights the candle?
M: The Guru. His words, his presence. In India it is very often the mantra. Once the candle is lighted, the flame will consume the candle.
Q: Why is the mantra so effective?
M: Constant repetition of the mantra is something the person does not do for one's own sake. The beneficiary is not the person. Just like the candle which does not increase by burning.
Q: Can the person become aware of itself by itself?
M: Yes, it happens sometimes as a result of much suffering The Guru wants to save you the endless pain. Such is his grace. Even when there is no discoverable outer Guru, there is always the sadguru, the inner Guru, who directs and helps from within. The words 'outer' and 'inner' are relative to the body only; in reality all is one, the outer being merely a projection of the inner. Awareness comes as if from a higher dimension.
Q: Before the spark is lit and after, what is the difference?
M: Before the spark is lit there is no witness to perceive the difference. The person may be conscious, but is not aware of being conscious. It is completely identified with what it thinks and feels and experiences. The darkness that is in it is of its own creation. When the darkness is questioned, it dissolves. The desire to question is planted by the Guru. In other words, the difference between the person and the witness is as between not knowing and knowing oneself. The world seen in consciousness is to be of the nature of consciousness, when there is harmony (sattva); but when activity and passivity (rajas and tamas) appear, they obscure and distort and you see the false as real.
Q: What can the person do to prepare itself for the coming of the Guru.
M: The very desire to be ready means that the Guru had come and the flame is lighted. It may be a stray word, or a page in a book; the Guru's grace works mysteriously.
Q: Is there no such thing as self-preparation? We hear so much about yoga sadhana?
M: It is not the person that is doing sadhana. The person is in unrest and resistance to the very end. It is the witness that works on the person, on the totality of its illusions, past, present and future.
Q: How can we know that what you say is true? While it is self contained and free from inner contradictions, how can we know that it is not a product of fertile imagination, nurtured and enriched by constant repetition?
M: The proof of the truth lies in its effect on the listener.
Q: Words can have a most powerful effect. By hearing, or repeating words, one can experience various kinds of trances. The listener's experiences may be induced and cannot be considered as a proof.
M: The effect need not necessarily be an experience. It can be a change in character, in motivation, in relationship to people and one's self. Trances and visions induced by words, or drugs, or any other sensory or mental means are temporary and inconclusive. The truth of what is said here is immovable and everlasting. And the proof of it is in the listener, in the deep and permanent changes in his entire being. It is not something he can doubt, unless he doubts his own existence, which is unthinkable. When my experience becomes your own experience also, what better proof do you want?
Q: The experiencer is the proof of his experience.
M: Quite, but the experiencer needs no proof. 'I am, and I know I am'. You cannot ask for further proofs.
Q: Can there be true knowledge of things?
M: Relatively -- yes. Absolutely -- there are no things. To know that nothing is is true knowledge.
Q: What is the link between the relative and the absolute?
M: They are identical.
Q: From which point of view are they identical?
M: When the words are spoken, there is silence. When the relative is over, the absolute remains. The silence before the words were spoken, is it different from the silence that comes after? The silence is one and without it the words could not have been heard. It is always there -- at the back of the words. Shift your attention from words to silence and you will hear it. The mind craves for experience, the memory of which it takes for knowledge. The jnani is beyond all experience and his memory is empty of the past. He is entirely unrelated to anything in particular. But the mind craves for formulations and definitions, always eager to squeeze reality into a verbal shape. Of everything it wants an idea, for without ideas the mind is not. Reality is essentially alone, but the mind will not leave it alone -- and deals instead with the unreal. And yet it is all the mind can do -- discover the unreal as unreal.
Q: And seeing the real as real?
M: There is no such state as seeing the real. Who is to see what? You can only be the real -- which you are, anyhow. The problem is only mental. Abandon false ideas, that is all. There is no need of true ideas. There aren't any.
Q: Why then are we encouraged to seek the real?
M: The mind must have a purpose. To encourage it to free itself from the unreal it is promised something in return. In reality, there is no need of purpose. Being free from the false is good in itself, it wants no reward. It is just like being clean -- which is its own reward.
Q: Is not self-knowledge the reward?
M: The reward of self-knowledge is freedom from the personal self. You cannot know the knower, for you are the knower. The fact of knowing proves the knower. You need no other proof. The knower of the known is not knowable. Just like the light is known in colours only, so is the knower known in knowledge.
Q: Is the knower an inference only?
M: You know your body, mind and feelings. Are you an inference only?
Q: I am an inference to others. but not to myself.
M: So am I. An inference to you, but not to myself. I know myself by being myself. As you know yourself to be a man by being one. You do not keep on reminding yourself that you are a man. It is only when your humanity is questioned that you assert it. Similarly, I know that I am all. I do not need to keep on repeating: 'I am all, I am all'. Only when you take me to be a particular, a person, I protest. As you are a man all the time, so I am what I am -- all the time. Whatever you are changelessly, that you are beyond all doubt.
Q: When I ask how do you know that you are a jnani, you answer: 'I find no desire in me. Is this not a proof?'
M: Were I full of desires, I would have still been what I am.
Q: Myself, full of desires and you, full of desires; what difference would there be?
M: You identify yourself with your desires and become their slave. To me desires are things among other things, mere clouds in the mental sky, and I do not feel compelled to act on them.
Q: The knower and his knowledge, are they one or two?
M: They are both. The knower is the unmanifested, the known is the manifested. The known is always on the move, it changes, it has no shape of its own, no dwelling place. The knower is the immutable support of all knowledge; Each needs the other, but reality lies beyond. The jnani cannot be known, because there is nobody to be known. When there is a person, you can tell something about it, but when there is no self-identification with the particular, what can be said? You may tell a jnani anything; his question will always be: 'about whom are you talking? There is no such person'. Just as you cannot say anything about the universe because it includes everything, so nothing can be said about a jnani, for he is all and yet nothing in particular. You need a hook to hang your picture on; when there is no hook, on what will the picture hang? To locate a thing you need space, to place an event you need time; but the timeless and spaceless defies all handling. It makes everything perceivable, yet itself it is beyond perception. The mind cannot know what is beyond the mind, but the mind is known by what is beyond it. The jnani knows neither birth nor death; existence and non-existence are the same to him.
Q: When your body dies, you remain.
M: Nothing dies. The body is just imagined. There is no such thing.
Q: Before another century will pass, you will be dead to all around you. Your body will be covered with flowers, then burnt and the ashes scattered. That will be our experience. What will be yours?
M: Time will come to an end. This is called the Great Death (mahamrityu), the death of time.
Q: Does it mean that the universe and its contents will come to an end?
M: The universe is your personal experience. How can it be affected? You might have been delivering a lecture for two hours; where has it gone when it is over? It has merged into silence in which the beginning, middle and end of the lecture are all together. Time has come to a stop, it was, but is no more. The silence after a life of talking and the silence after a life of silence is the same silence. Immortality is freedom from the feeling: 'I am'. Yet it is not extinction. On the contrary, it is a state infinitely more real, aware and happy than you can possibly think of. Only self-consciousness is no more.
Q: Why does the Great Death of the mind coincide with the 'small death' of the body?
M: It does not! You may die a hundred deaths without a break in the mental turmoil. Or, you may keep your body and die only in the mind. The death of the mind is the birth of wisdom.
Q: The person goes and only the witness remains.
M: Who remains to say: 'I am the witness'. When there is no 'I am', where is the witness? In the timeless state there is no self to take refuge in.
The man who carries a parcel is anxious not to lose it -- he is parcel-conscious. The man who cherishes the feeling 'I am' is self-conscious. The jnani holds on to nothing and cannot be said to be conscious. And yet he is not unconscious. He is the very heart of awareness. We call him digambara clothed in space, the Naked One, beyond all appearance. There is no name and shape under which he may be said to exist, yet he is the only one that truly is.
Q: I cannot grasp it.
M: Who can? The mind has its limits. It is enough to bring you to the very frontiers of knowledge and make you face the immensity of the unknown. To dive in it is up to you.
Q: What about the witness? Is it real or unreal?
M: It is both. The last remnant of illusion, the first touch of the real. To say: I am only the witness is both false and true: false because of the 'I am', true because of the witness. It is better to say: 'there is witnessing'. The moment you say: 'I am', the entire universe comes into being along with its creator.
Q: Another question: can we visualise the person and the self as two brothers small and big? The little brother is mischievous and selfish, rude and restless, while the big brother is intelligent and kind, reasonable and considerate, free from body consciousness with its desires and fears. The big brother knows the little one. but the small one is ignorant of the big one and thinks itself to be entirely on its own. The Guru comes and tells the smaller one: 'You are not alone, you come from a very good family, your brother is a very remarkable man, wise and kind, and he loves you very much. Remember him, think of him, find him, serve him, and you will become one with him'. Now, the question is are there two in us, the personal and the individual, the false self and the true self, or is it only a simile?
M: It is both. They appear to be two, but on investigation they are found to be one. Duality lasts only as long as it is not questioned. The trinity: mind, self and spirit (vyakti, vyakta, avyakta), when looked into, becomes unity. These are only modes of experiencing: of attachment, of detachment, of transcendence.
Q: Your assumption that we are in a dream state makes your position unassailable. Whatever objection we raise, you just deny its validity. One cannot discuss with you!
M: The desire to discuss is also mere desire. The desire to know, to have the power, even the desire to exist are desires only. Everybody desires to be, to survive, to continue, for no one is sure of himself. But everybody is immortal. You make yourself mortal by taking yourself to be the body.
Q: Since you have found your freedom, will you not give me a little of it?
M: Why little? Take the whole. Take it, it is there for the taking. But you are afraid of freedom!
Q: Swami Ramdas had to deal with a similar request. Some devotees collected round him one day and began to ask for liberation. Ramdas listened smilingly and then suddenly he became serious and said: You can have it, here and now, freedom absolute and permanent. Who wants it, come forward. Nobody moved. Thrice he repeated the offer. None accepted. Then he said: 'The offer is withdrawn'.
M: Attachment destroys courage. The giver is always ready to give. The taker is absent. Freedom means letting go. People just do not care to let go everything. They do not know that the finite is the price of the infinite, as death is the price of immortality. Spiritual maturity lies in the readiness to let go everything. The giving up is the first step. But the real giving up is in realising that there is nothing to give up, for nothing is your own. It is like deep sleep -- you do not give up your bed when you fall sleep -- you just forget it.
74. Truth is Here and Now
Questioner: My question is: What is the proof of truth? Followers of every religion, metaphysical or political, philosophical or ethical, are convinced that theirs is the only truth, that all else is false and they take their own unshakable conviction for the proof of truth. 'I am convinced, so it must be true', they say. It seems to me, that no philosophy or religion, no doctrine or ideology, however complete, free from inner contradictions and emotionally appealing, can be the proof of its own truth. They are like clothes men put on, which vary with times and circumstances and follow the fashion trends.
Now, can there be a religion or philosophy which is true and which does not depend on somebody's conviction? Nor on scriptures, because they again depend on somebody's faith in them? Is there a truth which does not depend on trusting, which is not subjective?
Maharaj: What about science?
Q: Science is circular, it ends where it starts, with the senses. It deals with experience, and experience is subjective. No two persons can have the same experience, though they may express it in the same words.
M: You must look for truth beyond the mind.
Q: Sir, I have had enough of trances. Any drug can induce them cheaply and quickly. Even the classical samadhis, caused by breathing or mental exercises, are not much different. There are oxygen samadhis and carbon dioxide samadhis and self induced samadhis, caused by repetition of a formula or a chain of thoughts. Monotony is soporific. I cannot accept samadhi, however glorious, as a proof of truth.
M: Samadhi is beyond experience. It is a qualityless state.
Q: The absence of experience is due to inattention. It reappears with attention. Closing one's eyes does not disprove light. Attributing reality to negative states will not take us far. The very negation contains an affirmation.
M: In a way you are right. But don't you see, you are asking for the proof of truth, without explaining what is the truth you have in mind and what proof will satisfy you? You can prove anything, provided you trust your proof. But what will prove that your proof is true? I can easily drive you into an admission that you know only that you exist -- that you are the only proof you can have of anything. But I do not identify mere existence with reality. Existence is momentary, always in time and space, while reality is changeless and all-pervading.
Q: Sir, I do not know what is truth and what can prove it. Do not throw me on my own resources. I have none. Here you are the truth-knower, not me.
M: You refuse testimony as the proof of truth: the experience of others is of no use to you, you reject all inference from the concurring statements of a vast number of independent witnesses; so it is for you to tell me what is the proof that will satisfy you, what is your test of a valid proof?
Q: Honestly, I do not know what makes a proof.
M: Not even your own experience?
Q: Neither my experience, nor even existence. They depend on my being conscious.
M: And your being conscious depends on what?
Q: I do not know. Formerly, I would have said: on my body; now I can see that the body is secondary, not primary, and cannot be considered as an evidence of existence.
M: I am glad you have abandoned the l-am-the-body idea, the main source of error and suffering.
Q: I have abandoned it intellectually, but the sense of being the particular, a person, is still with me. I can say: 'I am', but what I am I cannot say. I know I exist, but I do not know what exists. Whichever way I put it, I face the unknown.
M: Your very being is the real.
Q: Surely, we are not talking of the same thing. I am not some abstract being. I am a person, limited and aware of its limitations. I am a fact, but a most unsubstantial fact I am. There is nothing I can build on my momentary existence as a person.
M: Your words are wiser than you are! As a person, your existence is momentary. But are you a person only? Are you a person at all?
Q: How am I to answer? My sense of being proves only that I am; it does not prove anything which is independent of me. I am relative, both creature and creator of the relative. The absolute proof of the absolute truth -- what is it, where is it? Can the mere feeling 'I am' be the proof of reality?
M: Of course not. 'I am' and 'the world is' are related and conditional. They are due to the tendency of the mind to project names and shapes.
Q: Names and shapes and ideas and convictions, but not truth. But for you, I would have accepted the relativity of everything, including truth, and learnt to live by assumptions. But then I meet you and hear you talking of the Absolute as within my reach and also as supremely desirable. Words like peace, bliss, eternity, immortality, catch my attention, as offering freedom from pain and fear. My inborn instincts: pleasure seeking and curiosity are roused and I begin to explore the realm you have opened. All seems most attractive and naturally I ask. Is it attainable? Is it real?
M: You are like a child that says: Prove that the sugar is sweet then only I shall have it. The proof of the sweetness is in the mouth not in the sugar. To know it is sweet, you must taste it, there is no other way. Of course, you begin by asking: Is it sugar? Is it sweet? and you accept my assurance until you taste it. Then only all doubts dissolve and your knowledge becomes first hand and unshakable. I do not ask you to believe me. Just trust me enough to begin with. Every step proves or disproves itself. You seem to want the proof of truth to precede truth. And what will be the proof of the proof? You see, you are falling into a regress. To cut it you must put a stop to asking for proofs and accept, for a moment only, something as true. It does not really matter what it is. It may be God, or me, or your own self. In each case you accept something, or somebody, unknown as true. Now, if you act on the truth you have accepted, even for a moment, very soon you will be brought to the next step. It is like climbing a tree in the dark -- you can get hold of the next branch only when you are perched on the previous one. In science it is called the experimental approach. To prove a theory you carry out an experiment according to the operational instructions, left by those who have made the experiment before you. In spiritual search the chain of experiments one has to make is called Yoga.
Q: There are so many Yogas, which to choose?
M: Of course, every jnani will suggest the path of his own attainment as the one he knows most intimately. But most of them are very liberal and adapt their advice to the needs of the enquirer. All the paths take you to the purification of the mind. The impure mind is opaque to truth; the pure mind is transparent. Truth can be seen through it easily and clearly.
Q: I am sorry, but I seem unable to convey my difficulty. I and asking about the proof of truth and am being given the methods of attaining it. Assuming I follow the methods and attain some most wonderful and desirable state, how do I come to know that my state is true? Every religion begins with faith and promises some ecstasy. Is the ecstasy of the real, or the product of faith? For, if it is an induced state, I shall have nothing to do with it. Take Christianity that says: Jesus is your Saviour, believe and be saved from sin. When I ask a sinning Christian how is it that he has not been saved from sin in spite of his faith in Christ, he answers: My faith is not perfect. Again we are in the vicious circle -- without perfect faith -- no salvation, without salvation -- no perfect faith, hence no salvation. Conditions are imposed which are unfulfillable and then we are blamed for not fulfilling them.
M: You do not realise that your present waking state is one of ignorance. Your question about the proof of truth is born from ignorance of reality. You are contacting your sensory and mental states in consciousness, at the point of 'I am', while reality is not mediated, not contacted, not experienced. You are taking duality so much for granted, that you do not even notice it, while to me variety and diversity do not create separation. You imagine reality to stand apart from names and forms, while to me names and forms are the ever changing expressions of reality and not apart from it. You ask for the proof of truth while to me all existence is the proof. You separate existence from being and being from reality, while to me it is all one. However much you are convinced of the truth of your waking state, you do not claim it to be permanent and changeless, as I do when I talk of mine. Yet I see no difference between us, except that you are imagining things, while I do not.
Q: First you disqualify me from asking about truth, then you accuse me of imagination! What is imagination to you is reality to me.
M: Until you investigate. I am not accusing you of anything. I am only asking you to question wisely. Instead of searching for the proof of truth, which you do not know, go through the proofs you have of what you believe to know. You will find you know nothing for sure -- you trust on hearsay. To know the truth, you must pass through your own experience.
Q: I am mortally afraid of samadhis and other trances, whatever their cause. A drink, a smoke, a fever, a drug, breathing, singing, shaking, dancing, whirling, praying, sex or fasting, mantras or some vertiginous abstraction can dislodge me from my waking state and give me some experience, extraordinary because unfamiliar. But when the cause ceases, the effect dissolves and only a memory remains, haunting but fading.
Let us give up all means and their results, for the results are bound by the means; let us put the question anew; can truth be found?
M: Where is the dwelling place of truth where you could go in search of it? And how will you know that you have found it? What touchstone do you bring with you to test it? You are back at your initial question: What is the proof of truth? There must be something wrong with the question itself, for you tend to repeat it again and again. Why do you ask what are the proofs of truth? Is it not because you do not know truth first hand and you are afraid that you may be deceived? You imagine that truth is a thing which carries the name 'truth' and that it is advantageous to have it, provided it is genuine. Hence your fear of being cheated. You are shopping for truth, but you do not trust the merchants. You are afraid of forgeries and imitations.
Q: I am not afraid of being cheated. I am afraid of cheating myself.
M: But you are cheating yourself in your ignorance of your true motives. You are asking for truth, but in fact you merely seek comfort, which you want to last for ever. Now, nothing, no state of mind, can last for ever. In time and space there is always a limit, because time and space themselves are limited. And in the timeless the words 'for ever' have no meaning. The same with the 'proof of truth'. In the realm of non-duality everything is complete, its own proof, meaning and purpose. Where all is one, no supports are needed. You imagine that permanence is the proof of truth, that what lasts longer is somehow more true. Time becomes the measure of truth. And since time is in the mind, the mind becomes the arbiter and searches within itself for the proof of truth -- a task altogether impossible and hopeless!
Q: Sir, were you to say: Nothing is true, all is relative, I would agree with you. But you maintain there is truth, reality, perfect knowledge, therefore I ask: What is it and how do you know? And what will make me say: Yes, Maharaj was right?
M: You are holding on to the need for a proof, a testimony, an authority. You still imagine that truth needs pointing at and telling you: 'Look, here is truth'. It is not so. Truth is not the result of an effort, the end of a road. It is here and now, in the very longing and the search for it. It is nearer than the mind and the body, nearer than the sense 'I am'. You do not see it because you look too far away from yourself, outside your innermost being. You have objectified truth and insist on your standard proofs and tests, which apply only to things and thoughts.
Q: All I can make out from what you say is that truth is beyond me and I am not qualified to talk about it.
M: You are not only qualified, but you are truth itself. Only you mistake the false for the true.
Q: You seem to say: Don't ask for proofs of truth. Concern yourself with untruth only.
M: The discovery of truth is in the discernment of the false. You can know what is not. What is -- you can only be. Knowledge is relative to the known. In a way it is the counterpart of ignorance. Where ignorance is not, where is the need of knowledge? By themselves neither ignorance nor knowledge have being. They are only states of mind, which again is but an appearance of movement in consciousness which is in its essence immutable.
Q: Is truth within the realm of the mind or beyond?
M: It is neither, it is both. It cannot be put into words.
Q: This is what I hear all the time -- inexpressible (anirvachaniya). It does not make me wiser.
M: It is true that it often covers sheer ignorance. The mind can operate with terms of its own making, it just cannot go beyond itself. That which is neither sensory nor mental, and yet without which neither sensory nor the mental can exist, cannot be contained in them. Do understand that the mind has its limits; to go beyond, you must consent to silence.
Q: Can we say that action is the proof of truth? It may not be verbalised, but it may be demonstrated.
M: Neither action nor inaction. It is beyond both.
Q: Can a man ever say: 'Yes, this is true'? Or is he limited to the denial of the false? In other words, is truth pure negation? Or, does a moment come when it becomes assertion?
M: Truth cannot be described, but it can be experienced.
Q: Experience is subjective, it cannot be shared. Your experiences leaves me where I am.
M: Truth can be experienced, but it is not mere experience. I know it and I can convey it, but only if you are open to it. To be open means to want nothing else.
Q: I am full of desires and fears. Does it mean that I am not eligible for truth?
M: Truth is not a reward for good behaviour, nor a prize for passing some tests. It cannot be brought about. It is the primary, the unborn, the ancient source of all that is. You are eligible because you are. You need not merit truth. It is your own. Just stop running away by running after. Stand still, be quiet.
Q: Sir, if you want the body to be still and the mind -- quiet, tell me how it is done. In self-awareness I see the body and the mind moved by causes beyond my control. Heredity and environment dominate me absolutely. The mighty 'I am', the creator of the universe, can be wiped out by a drug temporarily, or a drop of poison -- permanently.
M: Again, you take yourself to be the body.
Q: Even if I dismiss this body of bones, flesh and blood as not-me, still I remain with the subtle body made up of thoughts and feelings, memories and imaginations. If I dismiss these also as not-me, I still remain with consciousness, which also is a kind of body.
M: You are quite right, but you need not stop there. Go beyond. Neither consciousness, nor the 'I am' at the centre of it are you. Your true being is entirely un-self-conscious, completely free from all self-identification with whatever it may be, gross, subtle or transcendental.
Q: I can imagine myself to be beyond. But what proof have l? To be, I must be somebody.
M: It is the other way round. To be, you must be nobody. To think yourself to be something, or somebody, is death and hell.
Q: I have read that in ancient Egypt people were admitted to some mysteries where, under the influence of drugs or incantations, they would be expelled from their bodies and could actually experience standing outside and looking at their own prostrate forms. This was intended to convince them of the reality of the after-death existence and create in them a deep concern with their ultimate destiny, so profitable to the state and temple. The self-identification with the person owning the body remained.
M: The body is made of food, as the mind is made of thoughts. See them as they are. Non-identification, when natural and spontaneous, is liberation. You need not know what you are. Enough to know what you are not. What you are you will never know, for every discovery reveals new dimensions to conquer. The unknown has no limits.
Q: Does it imply ignorance for ever?
M: It means that ignorance never was. Truth is in the discovery not in the discovered. And to discovery there is no beginning and no end. Question the limits, go beyond, set yourself tasks apparently impossible -- this is the way.
75. In Peace and Silence you Grow
Questioner: The Indian tradition tells us that the Guru is indispensable. What is he indispensable for? A mother is indispensable for giving the child a body. But the soul she does not give. Her role is limited. How is it with the Guru? Is his role also limited, and if so, to what? Or is he indispensable generally, even absolutely?
Maharaj: The innermost light, shining peacefully and timelessly in the heart, is the real Guru. All others merely show the way.
Q: I am not concerned with the inner Guru. only with the one that shows the way. There are people who believe that without a Guru Yoga is inaccessible. They are ever in search of the right Guru, changing one for another. Of what value are such Gurus?
M: They are temporary, time-bound Gurus. You find them in every walk of life. You need them for acquiring any knowledge or skill.
Q: A mother is only for a lifetime, she begins at birth and ends at death. She is not for ever.
M:. Similarly, the time-bound Guru is not for ever. He fulfils his purpose and yields his place to the next. It is quite natural and there is no blame attached to it.
Q: For every kind of knowledge, or skill, do I need a separate Guru?
M: There can be no rule in these matters, except one 'the outer is transient, the innermost -- permanent and changeless', though ever new in appearance and action.
Q: What is the relation between the inner and the outer Gurus?
M: The outer represent the inner, the inner accepts the outer -- for a time.
Q: Whose is the effort?
M: The disciple's, of course. The outer Guru gives the instructions, the inner sends the strength; the alert application is the disciple's. Without will, intelligence and energy on the part of the disciple the outer Guru is helpless. The inner Guru bids his chance. Obtuseness and wrong pursuits bring about a crisis and the disciple wakes up to his own plight. Wise is he who does not wait for a shock, which can be quite rude.
Q: Is it a threat?
M: Not a threat, a warning. The inner Guru is not committed to non-violence. He can be quite violent at times, to the point of destroying the obtuse or perverted personality. Suffering and death, as life and happiness, are his tools of work. It is only in duality that non-violence becomes the unifying law.
Q: Has one to be afraid of his own self?
M: Not afraid, for the self means well.. But it must be taken seriously. It calls for attention and obedience; when it is not listened to, it turns from persuasion to compulsion, for while it can wait, it shall not be denied. The difficulty lies not with the Guru, inner or outer. The Guru is always available. It is the ripe disciple that is lacking. When a person is not ready, what can be done?
Q: Ready or willing?
M: Both. It comes to the same. In India we call it adhikari. It means both capable and entitled.
Q: Can the outer Guru grant initiation (diksha)?
M: He can give all kinds of initiations, but the initiation into Reality must come from within.
Q: Who gives the ultimate initiation?
M: It is self-given.
Q: I feel we are running in circles. After all, I know one self only, the present, empirical self. The inner or higher self is but an idea conceived to explain and encourage. We talk of it as having independent existence. It hasn't.
M: The outer self and the inner both are imagined. The obsession of being an 'I' needs another obsession with a 'super-l' to get cured, as one needs another thorn to remove a thorn, or another poison to neutralise a poison. All assertion calls for a denial, but this is the first step only. The next is to go beyond both.
Q: I do understand that the outer Guru is needed to call my attention to myself and to the urgent need of doing something about myself. I also understand how helpless he is when it comes to any deep change in me. But here you bring in the sadguru, the inner Guru, beginningless, changeless, the root of being, the standing promise, the certain goal. Is he a concept or a reality?
M: He is the only reality. All else is shadow, cast by the body mind (deha-buddhi) on the face of time. Of course, even a shadow is related to reality, but by itself it is not real.
Q: I am the only reality I know. The sadguru is there as long as I think of him. What do I gain by shifting reality to him?
M: Your loss is your gain. When the shadow is seen to be a shadow only, you stop following it. You turn round and discover the sun which was there all the time -- behind your back!
Q: Does the inner Guru also teach?
M: He grants the conviction that you are the eternal, changeless, reality-consciousness-love, within and beyond all appearances.
Q: A conviction is not enough. There must be certainty.
M: Quite right. But in this case certainty takes the shape of courage. Fear ceases absolutely. This state of fearlessness is so unmistakably new, yet felt deeply as one's own, that it cannot be denied. It is like loving one's own child. Who can doubt it?
Q: We hear of progress in our spiritual endeavours. What kind of progress do you have in mind?
M: When you go beyond progress, you will know what is progress.
Q: What makes us progress?
M: Silence is the main factor. In peace and silence you grow.
Q: The mind is so absolutely restless. For quieting it what is the way?
M: Trust the teacher. Take my own case. My Guru ordered me to attend to the sense 'I am' and to give attention to nothing else. I just obeyed. I did not follow any particular course of breathing, or meditation, or study of scriptures. Whatever happened, I would turn away my attention from it and remain with the sense "I am', it may look too simple, even crude. My only reason for doing it was that my Guru told me so. Yet it worked! Obedience is a powerful solvent of all desires and fears.
Just turn away from all that occupies the mind; do whatever work you have to complete, but avoid new obligations; keep empty, keep available, resist not what comes uninvited.
In the end you reach a state of non-grasping, of joyful non-attachment, of inner ease and freedom indescribable, yet wonderfully real.
Q: When a truth-seeker earnestly practices his Yogas, does his inner Guru guide and help him or does he leave him to his own resources, just waiting for the outcome?
M: All happens by itself. Neither the seeker. nor the Guru do anything. Things happen as they happen; blame or praise are apportioned later, after the sense of doership appearing.
Q: How strange! Surely the doer comes before the deed.
M: It is the other way round; the deed is a fact, the doer a mere concept. Your very language shows that while the deed is certain, the doer is dubious; shifting responsibility is a game peculiarly human. Considering the endless list of factors required for anything to happen, one can only admit that everything is responsible for everything, however remote. Doership is a myth born from the illusion of 'me' and 'the mine'.
Q: How powerful the illusion?
M: No doubt, because based on reality.
Q: What is real in it?
M: Find out, by discerning and rejecting all that is unreal.
Q: I have not understood well the role of the inner self in spiritual endeavour. Who makes the effort? Is it the outer self, or the inner?
M: You have invented words like effort, inner, outer, self, etc. and seek to impose them on reality. Things just happen to be as they are, but we want to build them into a pattern, laid down by the structure of our language. So strong is this habit, that we tend to deny reality to what cannot be verbalised. We just refuse to see that words are mere symbols, related by convention and habit to repeated experiences.
Q: What is the value of spiritual books?
M: They help in dispelling ignorance. They are useful in the beginning, but become a hindrance in the end. One must know when to discard them.
Q: What is the link between atma and sattva, between the self and the universal harmony?
M: As between the sun and its rays. Harmony and beauty, understanding and affection are all expressions of reality. It is reality in action, the impact of the spirit on matter. Tamas obscures, rajas distorts, sattva harmonises. With the maturing of the sattva all desires and fears come to an end. The real being is reflected in the mind undistorted. Matter is redeemed, spirit -- revealed. The two are seen as one. They were always one, but the imperfect mind saw them as two. Perfection of the mind is the human task, for matter and spirit meet in the mind.
Q: I feel like a man before a door. I know the door is open but it is guarded by the dogs of desire and fear. What am I to do?
M: Obey the teacher and brave the dogs. Behave as if they were not there. Again, obedience is the golden rule. Freedom is won by obedience. To escape from prison one must unquestioningly obey instructions sent by those who work for one's release.
Q: The words of the Guru, when merely heard, have little power. One must have faith to obey them. What creates such faith?
M: When the time comes, faith comes. Everything comes in time. The Guru is always ready to share, but there are no takers.
Q: Yes, Sri Ramana Maharshi used to say: Gurus there are many, but where are the disciples?
M: Well, in the course of time everything happens. All will come through, not a single soul (jiva) shall be lost.
Q: I am very much afraid of taking intellectual understanding for realisation. I may talk of truth without knowing it, and may know it without a single word said.
I understand these conversations are going to be published. What will be their effect on the reader?
M: In the attentive and thoughtful reader they will ripen and bring out flowers and fruits. Words based on truth, if fully tested, have their own power.
76. To Know that You do not Know, is True Knowledge
Maharaj: There is the body. Inside the body appears to be an observer and outside -- a world under observation. The observer and his observation as well as the world observed all appear and disappear together. Beyond it all, there is void. This void is one for all.
Questioner: What you say appears simple, but not everyone would say it. It is you, and you alone, who talks of the three and the void beyond. I see the world only, which includes all.
M: Even the 'I am'?
Q: Even the 'I am'. The 'I am' is there because the world is there.
M: And the world is there because the 'I am' is there.
Q: Yes, it goes both ways. I cannot separate the two, nor go beyond, I cannot say something is, unless I experience it, as I cannot say something is not, because I do not experience it. What is it that you experience that makes you speak with such assurance?
M: I know myself as I am -- timeless, spaceless, causeless. You happen not to know, being engrossed as you are in other things.
Q: Why am I so engrossed?
M: Because you are interested.
Q: What makes me interested?
M: Fear of pain, desire for pleasure. Pleasant is the ending of pain and painful the end of pleasure. They just rotate in endless succession. Investigate the vicious circle till you find yourself beyond it.
Q: Don't I need your grace to take me beyond?
M: The grace of your Inner Reality is timelessly with you. Your very asking for grace is a sign of it. Do not worry about my grace, but do what you are told. The doing is the proof of earnestness, not the expecting of grace.
Q: What am I to be earnest about?
M: Assiduously investigate everything that crosses your field of attention. With practice the field will broaden and investigation deepen, until they become spontaneous and limitless.
Q: Are you not making realisation the result of practice? Practice operates within the limitations of physical existence. How can it give birth to the unlimited?
M: Of course, there can be no causal connection between practice and wisdom. But the obstacles to wisdom are deeply affected by practice.
Q: What are the obstacles?
M: Wrong ideas and desires leading to wrong actions, causing dissipation and weakness of mind and body. The discovery and abandonment of the false remove what prevents the real entering the mind.
Q: I can distinguish two states of mind: 'I am' and 'the world is"; they arise and subside together. People say: 'I am, because the world is'. You seem to say: 'The world is, because I am'. Which is true?
M: Neither. The two are one and the same state, in space and time. Beyond, there is the timeless.
Q: What is the connection between time and the timeless?
M: The timeless knows the time, the time does not know the timeless. All consciousness is in time and to it the timeless appears unconscious. Yet, it is what makes consciousness possible. Light shines in darkness. In light darkness is not visible. Or, you can put it the other way -- in the endless ocean of light, clouds of consciousness appear -- dark and limited, perceivable by contrast. These are mere attempts to express in words something very simple, yet altogether inexpressible.
Q: Words should serve as a bridge to cross over.
M: Word refers to a state of mind, not to reality. The river, the two banks, the bridge across -- these are all in the mind. Words alone cannot take you beyond the mind. There must be the immense longing for truth, or absolute faith in the Guru. Believe me, there is no goal, nor a way to reach it. You are the way and the goal, there is nothing else to reach except yourself. All you need is to understand and understanding is the flowering of the mind. The tree is perennial, but the flowering and the fruit bearing come in season. The seasons change, but not the tree. You are the tree. You have grown numberless branches and leaves in the past and you may grow them also in the future -- yet you remain. Not what was, or shall be, must you know, but what is. Yours is the desire that creates the universe. Know the world as your own creation and be free.
Q: You say the world is the child of love. When I know the horrors the world is full of, the wars, the concentration camps, the inhuman exploitations, how can I own it as my own creation? However limited I am, I could not have created so cruel a world.
M: Find to whom this cruel world appears and you will know why it appears so cruel. Your questions are perfectly legitimate, but just cannot be answered unless you know whose is the world. To find out the meaning of a thing you must ask its maker. I am telling you: You are the maker of the world in which you live -- you alone can change it, or unmake it.
Q: How can you say I have made the world? I hardly know it.
M: There is nothing in the world that you cannot know, when you know yourself. Thinking yourself to be the body you know the world as a collection of material things. When you know yourself as a centre of consciousness, the world appears as the ocean of the mind. When you know yourself as you are in reality, you know the world as yourself.
Q: It all sounds very beautiful, but does not answer my question. Why is there so much suffering in the world?
M: If you stand aloof as observer only, you will not suffer. You will see the world as a show. a most entertaining show indeed.
Q: Oh, no! This lila theory I shall not have. The suffering is too acute and all-pervading. What a perversion to be entertained by a spectacle of suffering! What a cruel God are you offering me!
M: The cause of suffering is in the identification of the perceiver with the perceived. Out of it desire is born and with desire blind action, unmindful of results. Look round and you will see -- suffering is a man-made thing.
Q: Were a man to create his own sorrow only, I would agree with you. But in his folly he makes others suffer. A dreamer has his own private nightmare and none suffers but himself. But what kind of dream is it that plays havoc in the lives of others?
M: Descriptions are many and contradictory. Reality is simple -- all is one, harmony is the eternal law, none compels to suffer. It is only when you try to describe and explain, that the words fail you.
Q: I remember Gandhiji telling me once that the Self is not bound by the law of non-violence (ahimsa). The Self has the freedom to impose suffering on its expressions in order to set them right.
M: On the level of duality it may be so, but in reality there is only the source, dark in itself, making everything shine. Unperceived, it causes perception. Unfelt, it causes feeling. Unthinkable, it causes thought. Non-being, it gives birth to being. It is the immovable background of motion. Once you are there you are at home everywhere.
Q: If I am that, then what causes me to be born?
M: The memory of the past unfulfilled desires traps energy, which manifests itself as a person. When its charge gets exhausted, the person dies. Unfulfilled desires are carried over into the next birth. Self-identification with the body creates ever fresh desires and there is no end to them, unless this mechanism of bondage is clearly seen. It is clarity that is liberating, for you cannot abandon desire, unless its causes and effects are clearly seen. I do not say that the same person is reborn. It dies and dies for good. But its memories remain and their desires and fears. They supply the energy for a new person. The real takes no part in it, but makes it possible by giving it, the light.
Q: My difficulty is this. As I can see, every experience is its own reality. It is there -- experienced. The moment I question it and ask to whom it happens, who is the observer and so on, the experience is over and all I can investigate is only the memory of it. I just cannot investigate the living moment -- the now. My awareness is of the past, not of the present. When I am aware, I do not really live in the now, but only in the past. Can there really be an awareness of the present?
M: What you are describing is not awareness at all, but only thinking about the experience. True awareness (samvid) is a state of pure witnessing, without the least attempt to do anything about the event witnessed. Your thoughts and feelings, words and actions may also be a part of the event; you watch all unconcerned in the full light of clarity and understanding. You understand precisely what is going on, because it does not affect you. It may seem to be an attitude of cold aloofness, but it is not really so. Once you are in it, you will find that you love what you see, whatever may be its nature. This choiceless love is the touchstone of awareness. If it is not there, you are merely interested -- for some personal reasons.
Q: As long as there are pain and pleasure, one is bound to be interested.
M: And as long as one is conscious, there will be pain and pleasure. You cannot fight pain and pleasure on the level of consciousness. To go beyond them you must go beyond consciousness, which is possible only when you look at consciousness as something that happens to you and not in you, as something external, alien, superimposed. Then, suddenly you are free of consciousness, really alone, with nothing to intrude. And that is your true state. Consciousness is an itching rash that makes you scratch. Of course, you cannot step out of consciousness for the very idea of stepping out is in consciousness. But if you learn to look at your consciousness as a sort of fever, personal and private, in which you are enclosed like a chick in its shell, out of this very attitude will come the crisis which will break the shell.
Q: Buddha said that life is suffering.
M: He must have meant that all consciousness is painful, which is obvious.
Q: And does death offer delivery?
M: One who believes himself as having been born is very much afraid of death. On the other hand, to him who knows himself truly, death is a happy event.
Q: The Hindu tradition says that suffering is brought by destiny and destiny is merited. Look at the immense calamities, natural or man-made, floods and earthquakes, wars and revolutions. Can we dare to think that each suffers for his own sins, of which he can have no idea? The billions who suffer, are they all criminals justly punished?
M: Must one suffer only for one's own sins? Are we really separate? In this vast ocean of life we suffer for the sins of others, and make others suffer for our sins. Of course, the law of balance rules Supreme and accounts are squared in the end. But while life lasts, we affect each other deeply.
Q: Yes, as the poet says: 'No man is an island'.
M: At the back of every experience is the Self and its interest in the experience. Call it desire, call it love -- words do not matter.
Q: Can I desire suffering? Can I deliberately ask for pain? Am I not like a man who made for himself a downy bed hoping for a good night of sleep and then he is visited by a nightmare and he tosses and screams in his dream? Surely, it is not the love that produces nightmares.
M: All suffering is caused by selfish isolation, by insularity and greed. When the cause of suffering is seen and removed, suffering ceases.
Q: I may remove my causes of sorrow, but others will be left to suffer.
M: To understand suffering, you must go beyond pain and pleasure. Your own desires and fears prevent you from understanding and thereby helping others. In reality there are no others, and by helping yourself you help everybody else. If you are serious about the sufferings of mankind, you must perfect the only means of help you have -- Yourself.
Q: You keep on saying that I am the creator, preserver and destroyer of this world, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent. When I ponder over what you say, I ask myself: 'How is it that there is so much evil in my world'.
M: There is no evil, there is no suffering; the joy of living is paramount. Look, how everything clings to life, how dear the existence is.
Q: On the screen of my mind images follow each other in endless succession. There is nothing permanent about me.
M: Have a better look at yourself. The screen is there -- it does not change. The light shines steadily. Only the film in between keeps moving and causes pictures to appear. You may call the film -- destiny (prarabdha).
Q: What creates destiny?
M: Ignorance is the cause of inevitability.
Q: Ignorance of what?
M: Ignorance of yourself primarily. Also, ignorance of the true nature of things, of their causes and effects. You look round without understanding and take appearances for reality. You believe you know the world and yourself -- but it is only your ignorance that makes you say: I know. Begin with the admission that you do not know and start from there.
There is nothing that can help the world more than your putting an end to ignorance. Then, you need not do anything in particular to help the world. Your very being is a help, action or no action.
Q: How can ignorance be known? To know ignorance presupposes knowledge.
M: Quite right. The very admission: 'I am ignorant' is the dawn of knowledge. An ignorant man is ignorant of his ignorance. You can say that ignorance does not exist, for the moment it is seen it is no more. Therefore, you may call it unconsciousness or blindness. All you see around and within you is what you do not know and do not understand, without even knowing that you do not know and do not understand. To know that you do not know and do not understand is true knowledge, the knowledge of an humble heart.
Q: Yes, Christ said: Blessed are the poor in spirit...
M: Put it as you like; the fact is that knowledge is of ignorance only. You know that you do not know.
Q: Will ignorance ever end?
M: What is wrong with not knowing? You need not know all. Enough to know what you need to know. The rest can look after itself, without your knowing how it does it. What is important is that your unconscious does not work against the conscious, that there is integration on all levels. To know is not so very important.
Q: What you say is correct psychologically. But when it comes to knowing others, knowing the world, my knowing that I do not know does not help much.
M: Once you are inwardly integrated, outer knowledge comes to you spontaneously. At every moment of your life you know what you need to know. In the ocean of the universal mind all knowledge is contained; it is yours on demand. Most of it you may never need to know -- but it is yours all the same.
As with knowledge, so it is with power.
Whatever you feel needs be done happens unfailingly. No doubt, God attends to this business of managing the universe; but He is glad to have some help. When the helper is selfless and intelligent, all the powers of the universe are for him to command.
Q: Even the blind powers of nature?
M: There are no blind powers. Consciousness is power. Be aware of what needs be done and it will be done. Only keep alert -- and quiet. Once you reach your destination and Know your real nature, your existence becomes a blessing to all. You may not know, nor will the world know, yet the help radiates. There are people in the world who do more good than all the statesmen and philanthropists put together. They radiate light and peace with no intention or knowledge. When others tell them about the miracles they worked, they also are wonder struck. Yet, taking nothing as their own, they are neither proud, nor do they crave for reputation. They are just unable to desire anything for themselves, not even the joy of helping others knowing that God is good they are at peace.
77. 'I' and 'Mine' are False Ideas
Questioner: I am very much attached to my family and possessions. How can I conquer this attachment?
Maharaj: This attachment is born along with the sense of 'me' and 'mine'. Find the true meaning of these words and you will be free of all bondage. You have a mind which is spread in time. One after another all things happen to you and the memory remains. There is nothing wrong in it. The problem arises only when the memory of past pains and pleasures -- which are essential to all organic life -- remains as a reflex, dominating behaviour. This reflex takes the shape of 'I' and uses the body and the mind for its purposes, which are invariably in search for pleasure or flight from pain. When you recognise the 'I' as it is, a bundle of desires and fears, and the sense of 'mine', as embracing all things and people needed for the purpose of avoiding pain and securing pleasure, you will see that the 'I' and the 'mine' are false ideas, having no foundation in reality. Created by the mind, they rule their creator as long as it takes them to be true; when questioned, they dissolve.
The 'I' and 'mine', having no existence in themselves, need a support which they find in the body. The body becomes their point of reference. When you talk of 'my' husband and 'my' children, you mean the body's husband and the body's children. Give up the idea of being the body and face the question: Who am l? At once a process will be set in motion which will bring back reality, or, rather, will take the mind to reality. Only, you must not be afraid.
Q: What am I to be afraid of?
M: For reality to be, the ideas of 'me' and 'mine' must go. They will go if you let them. Then your normal natural state reappears, in which you are neither the body nor the mind, neither the 'me" nor the 'mine', but in a different state of being altogether. It is pure awareness of being, without being this or that, without any self-identification with anything in particular, or in general. In that pure light of consciousness there is nothing, not even the idea of nothing. There is only light.
Q: There are people whom I love. Must I give them up?
M: You only let go your hold on them. The rest is up to them. They may lose interest in you, or may not.
Q: How could they? Are they not my own?
M: They are your body's, not your own. Or, better, there is none who is not your own.
Q: And what about my possessions?
M: When the 'mine' is no more, where are your possessions?
Q: Please tell me, must I lose all by losing the 'I'?
M: You may or you may not. It will be all the same to you. Your loss will be somebody's gain. You will not mind.
Q: If I do not mind, I shall lose all!
M: Once you have nothing you have no problems.
Q: I am left with the problem of survival.
M: It is the body's problem and it will solve it by eating, drinking and sleeping. There is enough for all, provided all share.
Q: Our society is based on grabbing, not on sharing.
M: By sharing you will change it.
Q: I do not feel like sharing. Anyhow, I am being taxed out of my possessions.
M: This is not the same as voluntary sharing. Society will not change by compulsion. It requires a change of heart. Understand that nothing is your own, that all belongs to all. Then only society will change.
Q: One man's understanding will not take the world far.
M: The world in which you live will be affected deeply. it will be a healthy and happy world, which will radiate and communicate, increase and spread. The power of a true heart is immense.
Q: Please tell us more.
M: Talking is not my hobby. Sometimes I talk, sometimes I do not. My talking, or not talking, is a part of a given situation and does not depend on me. When there is a situation in which I have to talk, I hear myself talking. In some other situation I may not hear myself talking. It is all the same to me. Whether I talk or not, the light and love of being what I am are not affected, nor are they under my control. They are, and I know they are. There is a glad awareness, but nobody who is glad. Of course, there is a sense of identity, but it is the identity of a memory track, like the identity of a sequence of pictures on the ever-present screen. Without the light and the screen there can be no picture. To know the picture as the play of light on the screen, gives freedom from the idea that the picture is real. All you have to do is to understand that you love the self and the self loves you and that the sense 'I am' is the link between you both, a token of identity in spite of apparent diversity. Look at the 'I am' as a sign of love between the inner and the outer, the real and the appearance. Just like in a dream all is different, except the sense of 'I', which enables you to say 'I dreamt', so does the sense of 'I am' enable you to say 'I am my real Self again". I do nothing, nor is anything done to me. I am what I am and nothing can affect me. I appear to depend on everything, but in fact all depends on me.
Q: How can you say you do nothing? Are you not talking to me?
M: I do not have the feeling that I am talking. There is talking going on, that is all.
Q: I talk.
M: Do you? You hear yourself talking and you say: I talk.
Q: Everybody says: 'I work, I come, I go'.
M: I have no objection to the conventions of your language, but they distort and destroy reality. A more accurate way of saying would have been: 'There is talking, working, coming, going'. For anything to happen, the entire universe must coincide. It is wrong to believe that anything in particular can cause an event. Every cause is universal. Your very body would not exist without the entire universe contributing to its creation and survival. I am fully aware that things happen as they happen because the world is as it is. To affect the course of events I must bring a new factor into the world and such factor can only be myself, the power of love and understanding focussed in me.
When the body is born, all kinds of things happen to it and you take part in them, because you take yourself to be the body. You are like the man in the cinema house, laughing and crying with the picture, though knowing fully well that he is all the time in his seat and the picture is but the play of light. It is enough to shift attention from the screen to oneself to break the spell. When the body dies, the kind of life you live now -- succession of physical and mental events -- comes to an end. It can end even now -- without waiting for the death of the body -- it is enough to shift attention to the Self and keep it there. All happens as if there is a mysterious power that creates and moves everything. realise that you are not the mover, only the observer, and you will be at peace.
Q: Is that power separate from me?
M: Of course not. But you must begin by being the dispassionate observer. Then only will you realise your full being as the universal lover and actor. As long as you are enmeshed in the tribulations of a particular personality, you can see nothing beyond it. But ultimately you will come to see that you are neither the particular nor the universal, you are beyond both. As the tiny point of a pencil can draw innumerable pictures, so does the dimensionless point of awareness draw the contents of the vast universe. Find that point and be free.
Q: Out of what do I create this world?
M: Out of your own memories. As long as you are ignorant of yourself as the creator, your world is limited and repetitive. Once you go beyond your self-identification with your past, you are free to create a new world of harmony and beauty. Or you just remain -- beyond being and non-being.
Q: What will remain with me if I let go my memories?
M: Nothing will remain.
Q: I am afraid.
M: You will be afraid until you experience freedom and its blessings. Of course, some memories are needed to identify and guide the body and such memories do remain, but there is no attachment left to the body as such; it is no longer the ground for desire or fear. All this is not very difficult to understand and practice, but you must be interested. Without interest nothing can be done.
Having seen that you are a bundle of memories held together by attachment, step out and look from the outside. You may perceive for the first time something which is not memory. You cease to be a Mr-so-and-so, busy about his own affairs. You are at last at peace. You realise that nothing was ever wrong with the world -- you alone were wrong and now it is all over. Never again will you be caught in the meshes of desire born of ignorance.
78. All Knowledge is Ignorance
Questioner: Are we permitted to request you to tell us the manner of your realisation?
Maharaj: Somehow it was very simple and easy in my case. My Guru, before he died, told me: Believe me, you are the Supreme Reality. Don't doubt my words, don't disbelieve me. I am telling you the truth -- act on it. I could not forget his words and by not forgetting -- I have realised.
Q: But what were you actually doing?
M: Nothing special. I lived my life, plied my trade, looked after my family, and every free moment I would spend just remembering my Guru and his words. He died soon after and I had only the memory to fall back on. It was enough.
Q: It must have been the grace and power of your Guru.
M: His words were true and so they came true. True words always come true. My Guru did nothing; his words acted because they were true. Whatever I did, came from within, un-asked and unexpected.
Q: The Guru started a process without taking any part in it?
M: Put it as you like. Things happen as they happen -- who can tell why and how? I did nothing deliberately. All came by itself -- the desire to let go, to be alone, to go within.
Q: You made no efforts whatsoever?
M: None. Believe it or not, I was not even anxious to realise. He only told me that I am the Supreme and then died. I just could not disbelieve him. The rest happened by itself. I found myself changing -- that is all. As a matter of fact, I was astonished. But a desire arose in me to verify his words. I was so sure that he, could not possibly have told a lie, that I felt I shall either realise the full meaning of his words or die. I was feeling quite determined, but did not know what to do. I would spend hours thinking of him and his assurance, not arguing, but just remembering what he told me.
Q: What happened to you then? How did you know that you are the Supreme?
M: Nobody came to tell me. Nor was I told so inwardly. In fact, it was only in the beginning when I was making efforts, that I was passing through some strange experiences; seeing lights, hearing voices, meeting gods and goddesses and conversing with them. Once the Guru told me: 'You are the Supreme Reality', I ceased having visions and trances and became very quiet and simple. I found myself desiring and knowing less and less, until I could say in utter astonishment: 'I know nothing, I want nothing.'
Q: Were you genuinely free of desire and knowledge, or did you impersonate a jnani according to the image given to you by your Guru?
M: I was not given any image, nor did I have one. My Guru never told me what to expect.
Q: More things may happen to you. Are you at the end of your journey?
M: There was never any journey. I am, as I always was.
Q: What was the Supreme Reality you were supposed to reach?
M: I was undeceived, that is all. I used to create a world and populate it -- now I don't do it any more.
Q: Where do you live, then?
M: In the void beyond being and non-being, beyond consciousness. This void is also fullness; do not pity me. It is like a man saying: 'I have done my work, there is nothing left to do'.
Q: You are giving a certain date to your realisation. It means something did happen to you at that date. What happened?
M: The mind ceased producing events. The ancient and ceaseless search stopped -- l wanted nothing, expected nothing -- accepted nothing as my own. There was no 'me' left to strive for. Even the bare 'I am' faded away. The other thing that I noticed was that I lost all my habitual certainties. Earlier I was sure of so many things, now I am sure of nothing. But I feel that I have lost nothing by not knowing, because all my knowledge was false. My not knowing was in itself knowledge of the fact that all knowledge is ignorance, that 'I do not know' is the only true statement the mind can make. Take the idea 'I was born'. You may take it to be true. It is not. You were never born, nor will you ever die. It is the idea that was born and shall die, not you. By identifying yourself with it you became mortal. Just like in a cinema all is light, so does consciousness become the vast world. Look closely, and you will see that all names and forms are but transitory waves on the ocean of consciousness, that only consciousness can be said to be, not its transformations.
In the immensity of consciousness a light appears, a tiny point that moves rapidly and traces shapes, thoughts and feelings, concepts and ideas, like the pen writing on paper. And the ink that leaves a trace is memory. You are that tiny point and by your movement the world is ever re-created. Stop moving, and there will be no world. Look within and you will find that the point of light is the reflection of the immensity of light in the body, as the sense 'I am'. There is only light, all else appears.
Q: Do you know that light? Have you seen it?
M: To the mind it appears as darkness. It can be known only through its reflections. All is seen in daylight -- except daylight.
Q: Have I to understand that our minds are similar?
M: How can it be? You have your own private mind, woven with memories, held together by desires and fears. I have no mind of my own; what I need to know the universe brings before me, as it supplies the food I eat.
Q: Do you know all you want to know?
M: There is nothing I want to know. But what I need to know, I come to know.
Q: Does this knowledge come to you from within or from outside?
M: It does not apply. My inner is outside and my outer is inside. I may get from you the knowledge needed at the moment, but you are not apart from me.
Q: What is turiya, the fourth state we hear about?
M: To be the point of light tracing the world is turiya. To be the light itself is turiyatita. But of what use are names when reality is so near?
Q: Is there any progress in your condition? When you compare yourself yesterday with yourself today, do you find yourself changing, making progress? Does your vision of reality grow in width and depth?
M: Reality is immovable and yet in constant movement. It is like a mighty river -- it flows and yet it is there -- eternally. What flows is not the river with its bed and banks, but its water, so does the sattva guna, the universal harmony, play its games against tamas and rajas, the forces of darkness and despair. In sattva there is always change and progress, in rajas there is change and regress, while tamas stands for chaos. The three Gunas play eternally against each other -- it is a fact and there can be no quarrel with a fact.
Q: Must I always go dull with tamas and desperate with rajas? What about sattva?
M: Sattva is the radiance of your real nature. You can always find it beyond the mind and its many worlds. But if you want a world, you must accept the three gunas as inseparable -- matter -- energy -- life -- one in essence, distinct in appearance. They mix and flow -- in consciousness. In time and space there is eternal flow, birth and death again, advance, retreat, another advance, again retreat -- apparently without a beginning and without end; reality being timeless, changeless, bodyless, mindless awareness is bliss.
Q: I understand that, according to you, everything is a state of consciousness. The world is full of things -- a grain of sand is a thing, a planet is a thing. How are they related to consciousness?
M: Where consciousness does not reach, matter begins. A thing is a form of being which we have not understood. It does not change -- it is always the same -- it appears to be there on its own -- something strange and alien. Of course it is in the chit, consciousness, but appears to be outside because of its apparent changelessness. The foundation of things is in memory -- without memory there would be no recognition. Creation -- reflection -- rejection: Brahma -- Vishnu -- Shiva: this is the eternal process. All things are governed by it.
Q: Is there no escape?
M: I am doing nothing else, but showing the escape. Understand that the One includes the Three and that you are the One, and you shall be free of the world process.
Q: What happens then to my consciousness?
M: After the stage of creation, comes the stage of examination and reflection and, finally, the stage of abandonment and forgetting. The consciousness remains, but in a latent, quiet state.
Q: Does the state of identity remain?
M: The state of identity is inherent in reality and never fades. But identity is neither the transient personality (vyakti), nor the karma-bound individuality (vyakta). It is what remains when all self-identification is given up as false -- pure consciousness, the sense of being all there is, or could be. Consciousness is pure in the beginning and pure in the end; in between it gets contaminated by imagination which is at the root of creation. At all times consciousness remains the same. To know it as it is, is realisation and timeless peace.
Q: Is the sense 'I am' real or unreal?
M: Both. It is unreal when we say: 'I am this, I am that'. It is real when we mean 'I am not this, nor that'.
The knower comes and goes with the known, and is transient; but that which knows that it does not know, which is free of memory and anticipation, is timeless.
Q: Is 'I am' itself the witness, or are they separate?
M: Without one the other cannot be. Yet they are not one. It is like the flower and its colour. Without flower -- no colours; without colour -- the flower remains unseen. Beyond is the light which on contact with the flower creates the colour. realise that your true nature is that of pure light only, and both the perceived and the perceiver come and go together. That which makes both possible, and yet is neither, is your real being, which means not being a 'this' or 'that', but pure awareness of being and not-being. When awareness is turned on itself, the feeling is of not knowing. When it is turned outward, the knowables come into being. To say: 'I know myself' is a contradiction in terms for what is 'known' cannot be 'myself'.
Q: If the self is for ever the unknown, what then is realised in self-realisation?
M: To know that the known cannot be me nor mine, is liberation enough. Freedom from self-identification with a set of memories and habits, the state of wonder at the infinite reaches of the being, its inexhaustible creativity and total transcendence, the absolute fearlessness born from the realisation of the illusoriness and transiency of every mode of consciousness -- flow from a deep and inexhaustible source. To know the source as source and appearance as appearance, and oneself as the source only is self-realisation.
Q: On what side is the witness? Is it real or unreal?
M: Nobody can say: "I am the witness'. The "I am' is always witnessed. The state of detached awareness is the witness-consciousness, the 'mirror-mind'. It rises and sets with its object and thus it is not quite the real. Whatever its object, it remains the same, hence it is also real. It partakes of both the real and the unreal and is therefore a bridge between the two.
Q: If all happens only to the 'I am', if the 'I am' is the known and the knower and the knowledge itself, what does the witness do? Of what use is it?
M: It does nothing and is of no use whatsoever.
Q: Then why do we talk of it?
M: Because it is there. The bridge serves one purpose only -- to cross over. You don't build houses on a bridge. The 'I am' looks at things, the witness sees through them. It sees them as they are -- unreal and transient. To say 'not me, not mine' is the task of the witness.
Q: Is it the manifested (saguna) by which the unmanifested (nirguna) is represented?
M: The unmanifested is not represented. Nothing manifested can represent the unmanifested.
Q: Then why do you talk of it?
M: Because it is my birthplace.
79. Person, Witness and the Supreme
Questioner: We have a long history of drug-taking behind us, mostly drugs of the consciousness-expanding variety. They gave us the experience of other states of consciousness, high and low, and also the conviction, that drugs are unreliable and, at best, transitory and, at worst, destructive of organism and personality. We are in search of better means for developing consciousness and transcendence. We want the fruits of our search to stay with us and enrich our lives, instead of turning to pale memories and helpless regrets. If by the spiritual we mean self-investigation and development, our purpose in coming to India is definitely spiritual. The happy hippy stage is behind us; we are serious now and on the move. We know there is reality to be found, but we do not know how to find and hold on to it. We need no convincing, only guidance. Can you help us?
Maharaj: You do not need help, only advice. What you seek is already in you. Take my own case. I did nothing for my realisation. My teacher told me that the reality is within me; I looked within and found it there, exactly as my teacher told me. To see reality is as simple as to see one's face in a mirror. Only the mirror must be clear and true. A quiet mind, undistorted by desires and fears, free from ideas and opinions, clear on all the levels, is needed to reflect the reality. Be clear and quiet -- alert and detached, all else will happen by itself.
Q: You had to make your mind clear and quiet before you could realise the truth. How did you do it?
M: I did nothing. It just happened. I lived my life, attending to my family's needs. Nor did my Guru do it. It just happened, as he said it will.
Q: Things do not just happen. There must be a cause for everything.
M: All that happens is the cause of all that happens. Causes are numberless; the idea of a sole cause is an illusion.
Q: You must have been doing something specific -- some meditation or Yoga. How can you say that realisation will happen on its own?
M: Nothing specific. I just lived my life.
Q: I am amazed!
M: So was I. But what was there to be amazed at? My teacher's words came true. So what? He knew me better than I knew myself, that is all. Why search for causes? In the very beginning I was giving some attention and time to the sense 'I am', but only in the beginning. Soon after my Guru died, I lived on. His words proved to be true. That is all. It is all one process. You tend to separate things in time and then look for causes.
Q: What is your work now? What are you doing?
M: You imagine being and doing as identical. It is not so. The mind and the body move and change and cause other minds and bodies to move and change and that is called doing, action. I see that it is in the nature of action to create further action like fire that continues by burning. I neither act nor cause others to act; I am timelessly aware of what is going on.
Q: In your mind, or also in other minds?
M: There is only one mind, which swarms with ideas; 'I am this, I am that, this is mine, that is mine'. I am not the mind, never was, nor shall be.
Q: How did the mind come into being?
M: The world consists of matter, energy and intelligence. They manifest themselves in many ways. Desire and imagination create the world and intelligence reconciles the two and causes a sense of harmony and peace To me it all happens; I am aware, yet unaffected.
Q: You cannot be aware, yet unaffected. There is a contradiction in terms. Perception is change. Once you have experienced a sensation, memory will not allow you to return to the former state.
M: Yes, what is added to memory cannot be erased easily. But it can surely be done and, in fact, I am doing it all the time. Like a bird on its wings, I leave no footprints.
Q: Has the witness name and form, or is it beyond these?
M: The witness is merely a point in awareness. It has no name and form. It is like the reflection of the sun in a drop of dew. The drop of dew has name and form, but the little point of light is caused by the sun. The clearness and smoothness of the drop is a necessary condition but not sufficient by itself. Similarly clarity and silence of the mind are necessary for the reflection of reality to appear in the mind, but by themselves they are not sufficient. There must be reality beyond it. Because reality is timelessly present, the stress is on the necessary conditions.
Q: Can it happen that the mind is clear and quiet and yet no reflection appears?
M: There is destiny to consider. The unconscious is in the grip of destiny, it is destiny, in fact. One may have to wait. But however heavy may be the hand of destiny, it can be lifted by patience and self-control. Integrity and purity remove the obstacles and the vision of reality appears in the mind.
Q: How does one gain self-control? I am so weak-minded!
M: Understand first that you are not the person you believe yourself to be. What you think yourself to be is mere suggestion or imagination. You have no parents, you were not born, nor will you die. Either trust me when I tell you so, or arrive to it by study and investigation. The way of total faith is quick, the other is slow but steady. Both must be tested in action. Act on what you think is true -- this is the way to truth.
Q: Are deserving the truth and destiny one and the same?
M: Yes, both are in the unconscious. Conscious merit is mere vanity. Consciousness is always of obstacles; when there are no obstacles, one goes beyond it.
Q: Will the understanding that I am not the body give me the strength of character needed for self-control?
M: When you know that you are neither body nor mind, you will not be swayed by them. You will follow truth, wherever it takes you, and do what needs be done, whatever the price to pay.
Q: Is action essential for self-realisation?
M: For realisation, understanding is essential. Action is only incidental. A man of steady understanding will not refrain from action. Action is the test of truth.
Q: Are tests needed?
M: If you do not test yourself all the time, you will not be able to distinguish between reality and fancy. Observation and close reasoning help to some extent, but reality is paradoxical. How do you know that you have realised unless you watch your thoughts and feelings, words and actions and wonder at the changes occurring in you without your knowing why and how? It is exactly because they are so surprising that you know that they are real. The foreseen and expected is rarely true.
Q: How does the person come into being?
M: Exactly as a shadow appears when light is intercepted by the body, so does the person arise when pure self-awareness is obstructed by the 'I-am-the-body' idea. And as the shadow changes shape and position according to the lay of the land, so does the person appear to rejoice and suffer, rest and toil, find and lose according to the pattern of destiny. When the body is no more, the person disappears completely without return, only the witness remains and the Great Unknown.
The witness is that which says 'I know'. The person says 'I do'. Now, to say 'I know' is not untrue -- it is merely limited. But to say 'I do' is altogether false, because there is nobody who does; all happens by itself, including the idea of being a doer.
Q: Then what is action?
M: The universe is full of action, but there is no actor. There are numberless persons small and big and very big, who, through identification, imagine themselves as acting, but it does not change the fact that the world of action (mahadakash) is one single whole in which all depends on, and affects all. The stars affect us deeply and we affect the stars. Step back from action to consciousness, leave action to the body and the mind; it is their domain. Remain as pure witness, till even witnessing dissolves in the Supreme.
Imagine a thick jungle full of heavy timber. A plank is shaped out of the timber and a small pencil to write on it. The witness reads the writing and knows that while the pencil and the plank are distantly related to the jungle, the writing has nothing to do with it. It is totally super-imposed and its disappearance just does not matter. The dissolution of personality is followed always by a sense of great relief, as if a heavy burden has fallen off.
Q: When you say, I am in the state beyond the witness, what is the experience that makes you say so? In what way does it differ from the stage of being a witness only?
M: It is like washing printed cloth. First the design fades, then the background and in the end the cloth is plain white. The personality gives place to the witness, then the witness goes and pure awareness remains. The cloth was white in the beginning and is white in the end; the patterns and colours just happened -- for a time.
Q: Can there be awareness without an object of awareness?
M: Awareness with an object we called witnessing. When there is also self-identification with the object, caused by desire or fear, such a state is called a person. In reality there is only one state; when distorted by self-identification it is called a person, when coloured with the sense of being, it is the witness; when colourless and limitless, it is called the Supreme.
Q: I find that I am always restless, longing, hoping, seeking, finding, enjoying, abandoning, searching again. What is it that keeps me on the boil?
M: You are really in search of yourself, without knowing it. You are love-longing for the love-worthy, the perfectly lovable. Due to ignorance you are looking for it in the world of opposites and contradictions. When you find it within, your search will be over.
Q: There will be always this sorrowful world to contend with.
M: Don't anticipate. You do not know. It is true that all manifestation is in the opposites. Pleasure and pain, good and bad, high and low, progress and regress, rest and strife they all come and go together -- and as long as there is a world, its contradictions will be there. There may also be periods of perfect harmony, of bliss and beauty, but only for a time. What is perfect, returns to the source of all perfection and the opposites play on.
Q: How am I to reach perfection?
M: Keep quiet. Do your work in the world, but inwardly keep quiet. Then all will come to you. Do not rely on your work for realisation. It may profit others, but not you. Your hope lies in keeping silent in your mind and quiet in your heart. realised people are very quiet.
Questioner: Does it take time to realise the Self, or time cannot help to realise? Is self-realisation a matter of time only, or does it depend on factors other than time?
Maharaj: All waiting is futile. To depend on time to solve our problems is self-delusion. The future, left to itself merely repeats the past. Change can only happen now, never in the future.
Q: What brings about a change?
M: With crystal clarity see the need of change. This is all.
Q: Does self-realisation happen in matter, or beyond? Is it not an experience depending on the body and the mind for its occurrence?
M: All experience is illusory, limited and temporal. Expect nothing from experience. realisation by itself is not an experience, though it may lead to a new dimension of experiences. Yet the new experiences, however interesting, are not more real than the old. Definitely realisation is not a new experience. It is the discovery of the timeless factor in every experience. It is awareness, which makes experience possible. Just like in all the colours light is the colourless factor, so in every experience awareness is present, yet it is not an experience.
Q: If awareness is not an experience, how can it be realised?
M: Awareness is ever there. It need not be realised. Open the shutter of the mind, and it will be flooded with light.
Q: What is matter?
M: What you do not understand is matter.
Q: Science understands matter.
M: Science merely pushes back the frontiers of our ignorance.
Q: And what is nature?
M: The totality of conscious experiences is nature. As a conscious self you are a part of nature. As awareness, you are beyond. Seeing nature as mere consciousness is awareness.
Q: Are there levels of awareness?
M: There are levels in consciousness, but not in awareness. It is of one block, homogeneous. Its reflection in the mind is love and understanding. There are levels of clarity in understanding and intensity in love, but not in their source. The source is simple and single, but its gifts are infinite. Only do not take the gifts for the source. realise yourself as the source and not as the river; that is all.
Q: I am the river too.
M: Of course, you are. As an 'I am' you are the river, flowing between the banks of the body. But you are also the source and the ocean and the clouds in the sky. Wherever there is life and consciousness, you are. Smaller than the smallest, bigger than the biggest, you are, while all else appears.
Q: The sense of being and the sense of living -- are they one and the same, or different?
M: The identity in space creates one, the continuity in time creates the other.
Q: You said once that the seer, seeing and the seen are one single thing, not three. To me the three are separate. I do not doubt your words, only I do not understand.
M: Look closely and you will see that the seer and the seen appear only when there is seeing. They are attributes of seeing. When you say 'I am seeing this'. 'I am' and 'this' come with seeing, not before. You cannot have an unseen 'this' nor an unseeing 'I am'.
Q: I can say: 'I do not see'.
M: The 'I am seeing this' has become 'l am seeing my not seeing', or 'I am seeing darkness'. The seeing remains. In the triplicity: the known, knowing and the knower, only the knowing is a fact. The 'I am' and 'this' are doubtful. Who knows? What is known? There is no certainty, except that there is knowing.
Q: Why am I sure of knowing, but not of the knower?
M: Knowing is a reflection of your true nature along with being and loving. The knower and the known are added by the mind. It is in the nature of the mind to create a subject-object duality, where there is none.
Q: What is the cause of desire and fear?
M: Obviously, the memory of past pains and pleasures. There is no great mystery about it. Conflict arises only when desire and fear refer to the same object.
Q: How to put an end to memory?
M: It is neither necessary, nor possible. realise that all happens in consciousness and you are the root, the source, the foundation of consciousness. The world is but a succession of experiences and you are what makes them conscious, and yet remain beyond all experience. It is like the heat, the flame and the burning wood. The heat maintains the flame, the flame consumes the wood. Without heat there would be neither flame nor fuel. Similarly, without awareness there would be no consciousness, nor life, which transforms matter into a vehicle of consciousness.
Q: You maintain that without me there would be no world, and that the world and my knowledge of the world are identical. Science has come to a quite different conclusion: the world exists as something concrete and continuous, while I am a by-product of biological evolution of the nervous system, which is primarily not so much a seat of consciousness, as a mechanism of survival as individual and species. Yours is altogether a subjective view, while science tries to describe everything in objective terms. Is this contradiction inevitable?
M: The confusion is apparent and purely verbal. What is, is. It is neither subjective nor objective. Matter and mind are not separate, they are aspects of one energy. Look at the mind as a function of matter and you have science; look at matter as the product of the mind and you have religion.
Q: But what is true? What comes first, mind or matter?
M: Neither comes first. for neither appears alone. Matter is the shape, mind is the name. Together they make the world. Pervading and transcending is Reality, pure being -- awareness -- bliss, your very essence.
Q: All I know is the stream of consciousness, an endless succession of events. The river of time flows, bringing and carrying away relentlessly. Transformation of the future into past is going on all the time.
M: Are you not the victim of your language? You speak about the flow of time, as if you were stationary. But the events you have witnessed yesterday somebody else may see tomorrow. It is you who are in movement and not time. Stop moving and time will cease.
Q: What does it mean -- time will cease?
M: Past and future will merge in the eternal now.
Q: But what does it mean in actual experience? How do you know that for you time has ceased?
M: It may mean that past and future do not matter any more. It may also mean that all that happened and will happen becomes an open book to be read at will.
Q: I can imagine a sort of cosmic memory, accessible with some training. But how can the future be known? The unexpected is inevitable.
M: What is unexpected on one level may be certain to happen, when seen from a higher level After all, we are within the limits of the mind. In reality nothing happens, there is no past nor future; all appears and nothing is.
Q: What does it mean, nothing is? Do you turn blank, or go to sleep? Or do you dissolve the world and keep us all in abeyance, until we are brought back to life at the next flicker of your thought?
M: Oh, no, it is not that bad. The world of mind and matter, of names and shapes, continues, but it does not matter to me at all. It is like having a shadow. It is there -- following me wherever I go, but not hindering me in any way. It remains a world of experiences, but not of names and forms related to me by desires and fears. The experiences are qualityless, pure experiences, if I may say so. I call them experiences for the lack of a better word. They are like the waves on the surface of the ocean, the ever-present, but not affecting its peaceful power.
Q: You mean to say an experience can be nameless, formless, undefined?
M: In the beginning all experience is such. It is only desire and fear, born of memory, that give it name and form and separate it from other experiences. It is not a conscious experience, for it is not in opposition to other experiences, yet it is an experience all the same.
Q: If it is not conscious, why talk about it?
M: Most of your experiences are unconscious. The conscious ones are very few. You are unaware of the fact because to you only the conscious ones count. Become aware of the unconscious .
Q: Can one be aware of the unconscious? How is it done?
M: Desire and fear are the obscuring and distorting factors. When mind is free of them the unconscious becomes accessible.
Q: Does it mean that the unconscious becomes conscious?
M: It is rather the other way round. The conscious becomes one with the unconscious. The distinction ceases, whichever way you look at it.
Q: I am puzzled. How can one be aware and yet unconscious?
M: Awareness is not limited to consciousness. It is of all that is. Consciousness is of duality. There is no duality in awareness. It is one single block of pure cognition. In the same way one can talk of the pure being and pure creation -- nameless, formless, silent and yet absolutely real, powerful, effective. Their being indescribable does not affect them in the least. While they are unconscious, they are essential. The conscious cannot change fundamentally, it can only modify. Any thing, to change, must pass through death, through obscuration and dissolution. Gold jewellery must be melted down before it is cast into another shape. What refuses to die cannot be reborn.
Q: Barring the death of the body, how does one die?
M: Withdrawal, aloofness, letting go is death. To live fully, death is essential; every ending makes a new beginning. On the other hand, do understand, that only the dead can die, not the living. That which is alive in you, is immortal.
Q: From where does desire draw its energy?
M: Its name and shape it draws from memory. The energy flows from the source.
Q: Some desires are altogether wrong. How can wrong desires flow from a sublime source?
M: The source is neither right nor wrong. Nor is desire by itself right or wrong. It is nothing but striving for happiness. Having identified yourself with a speck of a body you feel lost and search desperately for the sense of fullness and completeness you call happiness.
Q: When did I lose it? I never had it.
M: You had it before you woke up this morning. Go beyond your consciousness and you will find it.
Q: How am I to go beyond?
M: You know it already; do it.
Q: That's what you say. I know nothing about it.
M: Yet I repeat -- you know it. Do it. Go beyond, back to your normal, natural, supreme state.
Q: I'm puzzled.
M: A speck in the eye makes you think you are blind. Wash it out and look.
Q: I do look! I see only darkness.
M: Remove the speck and your eyes will be flooded with light. The light is there -- waiting. The eyes are there -- ready. The darkness you see is but the shadow of the tiny speck. Get rid of it and come back to your natural state.