By Nisargadatta Maharaj
11. Awareness and Consciousness
What do you do when asleep?
Maharaj: I am aware of being asleep.
Q: Is not sleep a state of unconsciousness?
M: Yes, I am aware of being unconscious.
Q: And when awake, or dreaming?
M: I am aware of being awake or dreaming.
Q: I do not catch you. What exactly do you mean? Let me make my terms clear: by being asleep I mean unconscious, by being awake I mean conscious, by dreaming I mean conscious of one"s mind, but not of the surroundings.
M: Well, it is about the same with me, Yet, there seems to be a difference. In each state you forget the other two, while to me, there is but one state of being, including and transcending the three mental states of waking, dreaming and sleeping.
Q: Do you see in the world a direction and a purpose?
M: The world is but a reflection of my imagination. Whatever I want to see, I can see. But why should I invent patterns of creation, evolution and destruction? I do not need them and have no desire to lock up the world in a mental picture.
Q: Coming back to sleep. Do you dream?
M: Of course.
Q: What are your dreams?
M: Echoes of the waking state.
Q: And your deep sleep?
M: The brain consciousness is suspended.
Q: Are you then unconscious?
M: Unconscious of my surroundings -- yes.
Q: Not quite unconscious?
M: I remain aware that I am unconscious.
Q: You use the words 'aware' and 'conscious'. Are they not the same?
M: Awareness is primordial; it is the original state, beginningless, endless, uncaused, unsupported, without parts, without change. Consciousness is on contact, a reflection against a surface, a state of duality. There can be no consciousness without awareness, but there can be awareness without consciousness, as in deep sleep. Awareness is absolute, consciousness is relative to its content; consciousness is always of something. Consciousness is partial and changeful, awareness is total, changeless, calm and silent. And it is the common matrix of every experience.
Q: How does one go beyond consciousness into awareness?
M: Since it is awareness that makes consciousness possible, there is awareness in every state of consciousness. Therefore the very consciousness of being conscious is already a movement in awareness. Interest in your stream of consciousness takes you to awareness. It is not a new state. It is at once recognised as the original, basic existence, which is life itself, and also love and joy.
Q: Since reality is all the time with us, what does self-realisation consist of?
M: Realisation is but the opposite of ignorance. To take the world as real and one"s self as unreal is ignorance. The cause of sorrow. To know the self as the only reality and all else as temporal and transient is freedom, peace and joy. It is all very simple. Instead of seeing things as imagined, learn to see them as they are. It is like cleansing a mirror. The same mirror that shows you the world as it is, will also show you your own face. The thought 'I am' is the polishing cloth. Use it.
12. The Person is not Reality
Questioner: Kindly tell us how you realised.
Maharaj: I met my Guru when I was 34 and realised by 37.
Q: What happened? What was the change?
M: Pleasure and pain lost their sway over me. I was free from desire and fear. I found myself full, needing nothing. I saw that in the ocean of pure awareness, on the surface of the universal consciousness, the numberless waves of the phenomenal worlds arise and subside beginninglessly and endlessly. As consciousness, they are all me. As events they are all mine. There is a mysterious power that looks after them. That power is awareness, Self, Life, God, whatever name you give it. It is the foundation, the ultimate support of all that is, just like gold is the basis for all gold jewellery. And it is so intimately ours! Abstract the name and shape from the jewellery and the gold becomes obvious. Be free of name and form and of the desires and fears they create, then what remains?
M: Yes, the void remains. But the void is full to the brim. It is the eternal potential as consciousness is the eternal actual.
Q: By potential you mean the future?
M: Past, present and future -- they are all there. And infinitely more.
Q: But since the void is void, it is of little use to us.
M: How can you say so? Without breach in continuity how can there be rebirth? Can there be renewal without death? Even the darkness of sleep is refreshing and rejuvenating. Without death we would have been bogged up for ever in eternal senility.
Q: Is there no such thing as immortality?
M: When life and death are seen as essential to each other, as two aspects of one being, that is immortality. To see the end in the beginning and beginning in the end is the intimation of eternity. Definitely, immortality is not continuity. Only the process of change continues. Nothing lasts.
Q: Awareness lasts?
M: Awareness is not of time. Time exists in consciousness only. Beyond consciousness where are time and space?
Q: Within the field of your consciousness there is your body also.
M: Of course. But the idea 'my body', as different from other bodies, is not there. To me it is 'a body', not 'my body', 'a mind', not 'my mind'. The mind looks after the body all right, I need not interfere. What needs be done is being done, in the normal and natural way.
You may not be quite conscious of your physiological functions, but when it comes to thoughts and feelings, desires and fears you become acutely self-conscious. To me these too are largely unconscious. I find myself talking to people, or doing things quite correctly and appropriately, without being very much conscious of them. It looks as if I live my physical, waking life automatically, reacting spontaneously and accurately.
Q: Does this spontaneous response come as a result of realisation, or by training?
M: Both. Devotion to you goal makes you live a clean and orderly life, given to search for truth and to helping people, and realisation makes noble virtue easy and spontaneous, by removing for good the obstacles in the shape of desires and fears and wrong ideas.
Q: Don"t you have desires and fears any more?
M: My destiny was to be born a simple man, a commoner, a humble tradesman, with little of formal education. My life was the common kind, with common desires and fears. When, through my faith in my teacher and obedience to his words, I realised my true being, I left behind my human nature to look after itself, until its destiny is exhausted. Occasionally an old reaction, emotional or mental, happens in the mind, but it is at once noticed and discarded. After all, as long as one is burdened with a person, one is exposed to its idiosyncrasies and habits.
Q: Are you not afraid of death?
M: I am dead already.
Q: In what sense?
M: I am double dead. Not only am I dead to my body, but to my mind too.
Q: Well, you do not look dead at all!
M: That"s what you say! You seem to know my state better than I do!
Q: Sorry. But I just do not understand. You say you are bodyless and mindless, while I see you very much alive and articulate.
M: A tremendously complex work is going on all the time in your brain and body, are you conscious of it? Not at all. Yet for an outsider all seems to be going on intelligently and purposefully. Why not admit that one"s entire personal life may sink largely below the threshold of consciousness and yet proceed sanely and smoothly?
Q: Is it normal?
M: What is normal? Is your life -- obsessed by desires and fears, full of strife and struggle, meaningless and joyless -- normal? To be acutely conscious of your body id it normal? To be torn by feelings, tortured by thoughts: is it normal? A healthy body, a healthy mind live largely unperceived by their owner; only occasionally, through pain or suffering they call for attention and insight. Why not extend the same to the entire personal life? One can function rightly, responding well and fully to whatever happens, without having to bring it into the focus of awareness. When self-control becomes second nature, awareness shifts its focus to deeper levels of existence and action.
Q: Don"t you become a robot?
M: What harm is there in making automatic, what is habitual and repetitive? It is automatic anyhow. But when it is also chaotic, it causes pain and suffering and calls for attention. The entire purpose of a clean and well-ordered life is to liberate man from the thraldom of chaos and the burden of sorrow.
Q: You seem to be in favour of a computerised life.
M: What is wrong with a life which is free from problems? Personality is merely a reflection of the real. Why should not the reflection be true to the original as a matter of course, automatically? Need the person have any designs of its own? The life of which it is an expression will guide it. Once you realise that the person is merely a shadow of the reality, but not reality itself, you cease to fret and worry. You agree to be guided from within and life becomes a journey into the unknown.
13. The Supreme, the Mind and the Body
Questioner: From what you told us it appears that you are not quite conscious of your surroundings. To us you seem extremely alert and active. We cannot possibly believe that you are in a kind of hypnotic state, which leaves no memory behind. On the contrary, your memory seems excellent. How are we to understand your statement that the world and all it includes does not exist, as far as you are concerned.
Maharaj: It is all a matter of focus. Your mind is focussed in the world, mine is focussed in reality. It is like the moon in daylight -- when the sun shines, the moon is hardly visible. Or, watch how you take your food. As long as it is in your mouth, you are conscious of it; once swallowed, it does not concern you any longer. It would be troublesome to have it constantly in mind until it is eliminated. The mind should be normally in abeyance -- incessant activity is a morbid state. The universe works by itself -- that I know. What else do I need to know?
Q: So a jnani knows what he is doing only when he turns his mind to it; otherwise he just acts, without being concerned.
M: The average man is not conscious of his body as such. He is conscious of his sensations, feelings and thoughts. Even these, once detachment sets in, move away from the centre of consciousness and happen spontaneously and effortlessly.
Q: What then is in the centre of consciousness?
M: That which cannot be given name and form, for it is without quality and beyond consciousness. You may say it is a point in consciousness, which is beyond consciousness. Like a hole in the paper is both in the paper and yet not of paper, so is the supreme state in the very centre of consciousness, and yet beyond consciousness. It is as if an opening in the mind through which the mind is flooded with light. The opening is not even the light. It is just an opening.
Q: An opening is just void, absence.
M: Quite so. From the mind's point of view, it is but an opening for the light of awareness to enter the mental space. By itself the light can only be compared to a solid, dense, rocklike, homogeneous and changeless mass of pure awareness, free from the mental patterns of name and shape.
Q: Is there any connection between the mental space and the supreme abode?
M: The supreme gives existence to the mind. The mind gives existence to the body.
Q: And what lies beyond?
M: Take an example. A venerable Yogi, a master in the art of longevity, himself over 1000 years old, comes to teach me his art. I fully respect and sincerely admire his achievements, yet all I can tell him is: of what use is longevity to me? I am beyond time. However long a life may be, it is but a moment and a dream. In the same way I am beyond all attributes. They appear and disappear in my light, but cannot describe me. The universe is all names and forms, based on qualities and their differences, while I am beyond. The world is there because I am, but I am not the world.
Q: But you are living in the world!
M: That's what you say! I know there is a world, which includes this body and this mind, but I do not consider them to be more "mine" than other minds and bodies. They are there, in time and space, but I am timeless and spaceless.
Q: But since all exists by your light, are you not the creator of the world?
M: I am neither the potentiality nor the actualisation, nor the actuality of things. In my light they come and go as the specks of dust dancing in the sunbeam. The light illumines the specks, but does not depend on them. Nor can it be said to create them. It cannot be even said to know them.
Q: I am asking you a question and you are answering. Are you conscious of the question and the answer?
M: In reality I am neither hearing nor answering. In the world of events the question happens and the answer happens. Nothing happens to me. Everything just happens.
Q: And you are the witness?
M: What does witness mean? Mere knowledge. It rained and now the rain is over. I did not get wet. I know it rained, but I am not affected. I just witnessed the rain.
Q: The fully realised man, spontaneously abiding in the supreme state, appears to eat, drink and so on. Is he aware of it, or not?
M: That in which consciousness happens, the universal consciousness or mind, we call the ether of consciousness. All the objects of consciousness form the universe. What is beyond both, supporting both, is the supreme state, a state of utter stillness and silence. Whoever goes there, disappears. It is unreachable by words, or mind. You may call it God, or Parabrahman, or Supreme Reality, but these are names given by the mind. It is the nameless, contentless, effortless and spontaneous state, beyond being and not being.
Q: But does one remain conscious?
M: As the universe is the body of the mind, so is consciousness the body of the supreme. It is not conscious, but it gives rise to consciousness.
Q: In my daily actions much goes by habit, automatically. I am aware of the general purpose, but not of each movement in detail. As my consciousness broadens and deepens, details tend to recede, leaving me free for the general trends. Does not the same happens to a jnani, but more so?
M: On the level of consciousness -- yes. In the supreme state, no. This state is entirely one and indivisible, a single solid block of reality. The only way of knowing it is to be it. The mind cannot reach it. To perceive it does not need the senses; to know it, does not need the mind.
Q: That is how God runs the world.
M: God is not running the world.
Q: Then who is doing it?
M: Nobody. All happens by itself. You are asking the question and you are supplying the answer. And you know the answer when you ask the question. All is a play in consciousness. All divisions are illusory. You can know the false only. The true you must yourself be.
Q: There is the witnessed consciousness and there is the witnessing consciousness. Is the second the supreme?
M: There are the two -- the person and the witness, the observer. When you see them as one, and go beyond, you are in the supreme state. It is not perceivable, because it is what makes perception possible. It is beyond being and not being. It is neither the mirror nor the image in the mirror. It is what is -- the timeless reality, unbelievably hard and solid.
Q: The jnani -- is he the witness or the Supreme?
M: He is the Supreme, of course, but he can also be viewed as the universal witness.
Q: But he remains a person?
M: When you believe yourself to be a person, you see persons everywhere. In reality there are no persons, only threads of memories and habits. At the moment of realisation the person ceases. Identity remains, but identity is not a person, it is inherent in the reality itself. The person has no being in itself; it is a reflection in the mind of the witness, the 'I am', which again is a mode of being.
Q: Is the Supreme conscious?
M: Neither conscious nor unconscious, I am telling you from experience.
Q: Pragnanam Brahma. What is this Pragna?
M: It is the un-selfconscious knowledge of life itself.
Q: Is it vitality, the energy of life, livingness?
M: Energy comes first. For everything is a form of energy. Consciousness is most differentiated in the waking state. Less so in dream. Still less in sleep. Homogeneous -- in the fourth state. Beyond is the inexpressible monolithic reality, the abode of the jnani.
Q: I have cut my hand. It healed. By what power did it heal?
M: By the power of life.
Q: What is that power?
M: It is consciousness. AII is conscious.
Q: What is the source of consciousness?
M: Consciousness itself is the source of everything.
Q: Can there be life without consciousness?
M: No, nor consciousness without life. They are both one. But in reality only the Ultimate is. The rest is a matter of name and form. And as long as you cling to the idea that only what has name and shape exists, the Supreme will appear to you nonexisting. When you understand that names and shapes are hollow shells without any content whatsoever, and what is real is nameless and formless, pure energy of life and light of consciousness, you will be at peace -- immersed in the deep silence of reality.
Q: If time and space are mere illusions and you are beyond, please tell me what is the weather in New York. Is it hot or raining there?
M: How can I tell you? Such things need special training. Or, just travelling to New York. I may be quite certain that I am beyond time and space, and yet unable to locate myself at will at some point of time and space. I am not interested enough; I see no purpose in undergoing a special Yogic training. I have just heard of New York. To me it is a word. Why should I know more than the word conveys? Every atom may be a universe, as complex as ours. Must I know them all? I can -- if I train.
Q: In putting the question about the weather in New York, where did I make the mistake?
M: The world and the mind are states of being. The supreme is not a state. It pervades, all states, but it is not a state of something else. It is entirely uncaused, independent, complete in itself, beyond time and space, mind and matter.
Q: By what sign do you recognise it?
M: That's the point that it leaves no traces. There is nothing to recognise it by. It must be seen directly, by giving up all search for signs and approaches. When all names and forms have been given up, the real is with you. You need not seek it. Plurality and diversity are the play of the mind only. Reality is one.
Q: If reality leaves no evidence, there is no speaking about it.
M: It is. It cannot be denied. It is deep and dark, mystery beyond mystery. But it is, while all else merely happens.
Q: Is it the Unknown?
M: It is beyond both, the known and the unknown. But I would rather call it the known, than the unknown. For whenever something is known, it is the real that is known.
Q: Is silence an attribute of the real?
M: This too is of the mind. All states and conditions are of the mind.
Q: What is the place of samadhi?
M: Not making use of one's consciousness is samadhi. You just leave your mind alone. You want nothing, neither-from your body nor from your mind.
14. Appearances and the Reality
Questioner: Repeatedly you have been saying that events are causeless, a thing just happens and no cause can be assigned to it. Surely everything has a cause, or several causes. How am I to understand the causelessness of things?
Maharaj: From the highest point of view the world has no cause.
Q: But what is your own experience?
M: Everything is uncaused. The world has no cause.
Q: I am not enquiring about the causes that led to the creation of the world. Who has seen the creation of the world? It may even be without a beginning, always existing. But I am not talking of the world. I take the world to exist -- somehow. It contains so many things. Surely, each must have a cause, or several causes.
M: Once you create for yourself a world in time and space, governed by causality, you are bound to search for and find causes for everything. You put the question and impose an answer.
Q: My question is very simple: I see all kinds of things and I understand that each must have a cause, or a number of causes. You say they are uncaused -- from your point of view. But, to you nothing has being and, therefore, the question of causation does not arise. Yet you seem to admit the existence of things, but deny them causation. This is what I cannot grasp. Once you accept the existence of things, why reject their causes?
M: I see only consciousness, and know everything to be but consciousness, as you know the picture on the cinema screen to be but light.
Q: Still, the movements of light have a cause.
M: The light does not move at all. You know very well that the movement is illusory, a sequence of interceptions and colourings in the film. What moves is the film -- which is the mind.
Q: This does not make the picture causeless. The film is there, and the actors with the technicians, the director, the producer, the various manufacturers. The world is governed by causality. Everything is inter-linked.
M: Of course, everything is inter-linked. And therefore everything has numberless causes. The entire universe contributes to the least thing. A thing is as it is, because the world is as it is. You see, you deal in gold ornaments and I -- in gold. Between the different ornaments there is no causal relation. When you re-melt an ornament to make another, there is no causal relation between the two. The common factor is the gold. But you cannot say gold is the cause. It cannot be called a cause, for it causes nothing by itself. It is reflected in the mind as 'I am', as the ornament's particular name and shape. Yet all is only gold. In the same way reality makes everything possible and yet nothing that makes a thing what it is, its name and form, comes from reality.
But why worry so much about causation? What do causes matter, when things themselves are transient? Let come what comes and let go what goes -- why catch hold of things and enquire about their causes?
Q: From the relative point of view, everything must have a cause.
M: Of what use is the relative view to you? You are able to look from the absolute point of view -- why go back to the relative? Are you afraid of the absolute?
Q: I am afraid. I am afraid of falling asleep over my so-called absolute certainties. For living a life decently absolutes don't help. When you need a shirt, you buy cloth, call a tailor and so on.
M: All this talk shows ignorance.
Q: And what is the knower's view?
M: There is only light and the light is all. Everything else is but a picture made of light. The picture is in the light and the light is in the picture. Life and death, self and not-self --- abandon all these ideas. They are of no use to you.
Q: From what point of view you deny causation? From the relative -- the universe is the cause of everything. From the absolute -- there is no thing at all.
M: From which state are you asking?
Q: From the daily waking state, in which alone all these discussions take place.
M: In the waking state all these problems arise, for such is its nature. But, you are not always in that state. What good can you do in a state into which you fall and from which you emerge, helplessly. In what way does it help you to know that things are causally related -- as they may appear to be in your waking state?
Q: The world and the waking state emerge and subside together.
M: When the mind is still, absolutely silent, the waking state is no more.
Q: Words like God, universe, the total, absolute, supreme are just noises in the air, because no action can be taken on them.
M: You are bringing up questions which you alone can answer.
Q: Don't brush me off like this! You are so quick to speak for the totality, the universe and such imaginary things! They cannot come and forbid you to talk on their behalf. I hate those irresponsible generalizations! And you are so prone to personalise them. Without causality there will be no order; nor purposeful action will be possible.
M: Do you want to know all the causes of each event? Is it possible?
Q: I know it is not possible! All I want to know is if there are causes for everything and the causes can be influenced, thereby affecting the events?
M: To influence events, you need not know the causes. What a roundabout way of doing things! Are you not the source and the end of every event? Control it at the source itself.
Q: Every morning I pick up the newspaper and read with dismay that the world's sorrows -- poverty, hatred and wars -- continue unabated. My questions are concerning the fact of sorrow, the cause, the remedy. Don't brush me off saying that it is Buddhism! Don't label me. Your insistence on causelessness removes all hope of the world ever changing.
M: You are confused, because you believe that you are in the world, not the world in you. Who came first -- you or your parents? You imagine that you were born at a certain time and place, that you have a father and a mother, a body and a name. This is your sin and your calamity! Surely you can change your world if you work at it. By all means, work. Who stops you? I have never discouraged you. Causes or no causes, you have made this world and you can change it.
Q: A causeless world is entirely beyond my control.
M: On the contrary, a world of which you are the only source and ground is fully within your power to change. What is created can be always dissolved and re-created. All will happen as you want it, provided you really want it.
Q: All I want to know is how to deal with the world's sorrows.
M: You have created them out of your own desires and fears, you deal with them. All is due to your having forgotten your own being. Having given reality to the picture on the screen, you love its people and suffer for them and seek to save them. It is just not so. You must begin with yourself. There is no other way. Work, of course. There is no harm in working.
Q: Your universe seems to contain every possible experience. The individual traces a line through it and experiences pleasant and unpleasant states. This gives rise to questioning and seeking, which broaden the outlook and enable the individual to go beyond his narrow and self-created world limited and self-centred. This personal world can be changed -- in time. The universe is timeless and perfect.
M: To take appearance for reality is a grievous sin and the cause of all calamities. You are the all-pervading, eternal and infinitely creative awareness -- consciousness. All else is local and temporary. Don't forget what you are. In the meantime work to your heart's content. Work and knowledge should go hand in hand.
Q: My own feeling is that my spiritual development is not in my hands. Making one's own plans and carrying them out leads no where. I just run in circles round myself. When God considers the fruit to be ripe, He will pluck it and eat it. Whichever fruit seems green to Him will remain on the world's tree for another day.
M: You think God knows you? Even the world He does not know.
Q: Yours is a different God. Mine is different. Mine is merciful. He suffers along with us.
M: You pray to save one, while thousands die. And if all stop dying, there will be no space on earth
Q: I am not afraid of death. My concern is with sorrow and suffering. My God is a simple God and rather helpless. He has no power to compel us to be wise. He can only stand and wait.
M: If you and your God are both helpless, does it not imply that the world is accidental? And if it is. the only thing you can do is to go beyond it.
15. The Jnani
Questioner: Without God's power nothing can be done. Even you would not be sitting here and talking to us without Him.
Maharaj: All is His doing, no doubt. What is it to me, since I want nothing? What can God give me, or take away from me? What is mine is mine and was mine even when God was not. Of course, it is a very tiny little thing, a speck -- the sense 'I am', the fact of being. This is my own place, nobody gave it to me. The earth is mine; what grows on it is God's.
Q: Did God take the earth on rent from you?
M: God is my devotee and did all this for me.
Q: Is there no God apart from you?
M: How can there be? 'I am' is the root, God is the tree. Whom am I to worship, and what for?
Q: Are you the devotee or the object of devotion?
M: I am neither, I am devotion itself.
Q: There is not enough devotion in the world.
M: You are always after the improvement of the world. Do you really believe that the world is waiting for you to be saved?
Q: I just do not know how much I can do for the world. All I can do, is to try. Is there anything else you would like me to do?
M: Without you is there a world? You know all about the world, but about yourself you know nothing. You yourself are the tools of your work, you have no other tools. Why don't you take care of the tools before you think of the work?
Q: I can wait, while the world cannot.
M: By not enquiring you keep the world waiting.
Q: Waiting for what?
M: For somebody who can save it.
Q: God runs the world, God will save it.
M: That's what you say! Did God come and tell you that the world is His creation and concern and not yours?
Q: Why should it be my sole concern?
M: Consider. The world in which you live, who else knows about it?
Q: You know. Everybody knows.
M: Did anybody come from outside of your world to tell you? Myself and everybody else appear and disappear in your world. We are all at your mercy.
Q: It cannot be so bad! I exist in your world as you exist in mine.
M: You have no evidence of my world. You are completely wrapped up in the world of your own making.
Q: I see. Completely, but -- hopelessly?
M: Within the prison of your world appears a man who tells you that the world of painful contradictions, which you have created, is neither continuous nor permanent and is based on a misapprehension. He pleads with you to get out of it, by the same way by which you got into it. You got into it by forgetting what you are and you will get out of it by knowing yourself as you are.
Q: In what way does it affect the world?
M: When you are free of the world, you can do something about it. As long as you are a prisoner of it, you are helpless to change it. On the contrary, whatever you do will aggravate the situation.
Q: Righteousness will set me free.
M: Righteousness will undoubtedly make you and your world a comfortable, even happy place. But what is the use? There is no reality in it. It cannot last.
Q: God will help.
M: To help you God must know your existence. But you and your world are dream states. In dream you may suffer agonies. None knows them, and none can help you.
Q: So all my questions, my search and study are of no use?
M: These are but the stirrings of a man who is tired of sleeping. They are not the causes of awakening, but its early signs. But, you must not ask idle questions, to which you already know the answers.
Q: How am I to get a true answer?
M: By asking a true question -- non-verbally, but by daring to live according to your lights. A man willing to die for truth will get it.
Q: Another question. There is the person. There is the knower of the person. There is the witness. Are the knower and the witness the same, or are they separate states?
M: The knower and the witness are two or one? When the knower is seen as separate from the known, the witness stands alone. When the known and the knower are seen as one, the witness becomes one with them.
Q: Who is the jnani? The witness or the supreme?
M: The jnani is the supreme and also the witness. He is both being and awareness. In relation to consciousness he is awareness. In relation to the universe he is pure being.
Q: And what about the person? What comes first, the person or the knower.
M: The person is a very small thing. Actually it is a composite, it cannot be said to exist by itself. Unperceived, it is just not there. It is but the shadow of the mind, the sum total of memories. Pure being is reflected in the mirror of the mind, as knowing. What is known takes the shape of a person, based on memory and habit. It is but a shadow, or a projection of the knower onto the screen of the mind.
Q: The mirror is there, the reflection is there. But where is the sun?
M: The supreme is the sun.
Q: It must be conscious.
M: It is neither conscious nor unconscious. Don't think of it in terms of consciousness or unconsciousness. It is the life, which contains both and is beyond both.
Q: Life is so intelligent. How can it be unconscious?
M: You talk of the unconscious when there is a lapse in memory. In reality there is only consciousness. All life is conscious, all consciousness -- alive.
Q: Even stones?
M: Even stones are conscious and alive.
Q: The worry with me is that I am prone to denying existence to what I cannot imagine.
M: You would be wiser to deny the existence of what you imagine. It is the imagined that is unreal.
Q: Is all imaginable unreal?
M: Imagination based on memories is unreal. The future is not entirely unreal.
Q: Which part of the future is real and which is not?
M: The unexpected and unpredictable is real.
16. Desirelessness, the Highest Bliss
Questioner: I have met many realised people, but never a liberated man. Have you come across a liberated man, or does liberation mean, among other things, also abandoning the body?
Maharaj: What do you mean by realisation and liberation?
Q: By realisation I mean a wonderful experience of peace, goodness and beauty, when the world makes sense and there is an all-pervading unity of both substance and essence. While such experience does not last, it cannot be forgotten. It shines in the mind, both as memory and longing. I know what I am talking about, for I have had such experiences.
By liberation I mean to be permanently in that wonderful state. What I am asking is whether liberation is compatible with the survival of the body.
M: What is wrong with the body?
Q: The body is so weak and short-lived. It creates needs and cravings. It limits one grievously.
M: So what? Let the physical expressions be limited. But liberation is of the self from its false and self-imposed ideas; it is not contained in some particular experience, however glorious.
Q: Does it last for ever?
M: All experience is time bound. Whatever has a beginning must have an end.
Q: So liberation, in my sense of the word, does not exist?
M: On the contrary, one is always free. You are, both conscious and free to be conscious. Nobody can take this away from you. Do you ever know yourself non-existing, or unconscious?
Q: I may not remember, but that does not disprove my being occasionally unconscious.
M: Why not turn away from the experience to the experiencer and realise the full import of the only true statement you can make: 'I am'?
Q: How is it done?
M: There is no 'how' here. Just keep in mind the feeling 'I am', merge in it, till your mind and feeling become one. By repeated attempts you will stumble on the right balance of attention and affection and your mind will be firmly established in the thought-feeling 'I am'. Whatever you think, say, or do, this sense of immutable and affectionate being remains as the ever-present background of the mind.
Q: And you call it liberation?
M: I call it normal. What is wrong with being, knowing and acting effortlessly and happily? Why consider it so unusual as to expect the immediate destruction of the body? What is wrong with the body that it should die? Correct your attitude to your body and leave it alone. Don't pamper, don't torture. Just keep it going, most of the time below the threshold of conscious attention.
Q: The memory of my wonderful experiences haunts me. I want them back.
M: Because you want them back, you cannot have them. The state of craving for anything blocks all deeper experience. Nothing of value can happen to a mind which knows exactly what it wants. For nothing the mind can visualise and want is of much value.
Q: Then what is worth wanting?
M: Want the best. The highest happiness, the greatest freedom. Desirelessness is the highest bliss.
Q: Freedom from desire is not the freedom I want. I want the freedom to fulfil my longings.
M: You are free to fulfil your longings. As a matter of fact, you are doing nothing else.
Q: I try, but there are obstacles which leave me frustrated.
M: Overcome them.
Q: I cannot, I am too weak.
M: What makes you weak? What is weakness? Others fulfil their desires, why don't you?
Q: I must be lacking energy.
M: What happened to your energy? Where did it go? Did you not scatter it over so many contradictory desires and pursuits? You don't have an infinite supply of energy.
Q: Why not?
M: Your aims are small and low. They do not call for more. Only God's energy is infinite -- because He wants nothing for Himself. Be like Him and all your desires will be fulfilled. The higher your aims and vaster your desires, the more energy you will have for their fulfilment. Desire the good of all and the universe will work with you. But if you want your own pleasure, you must earn it the hard way. Before desiring, deserve.
Q: I am engaged in the study of philosophy, sociology and education. I think more mental development is needed before I can dream of self-realisation. Am I on the right track?
M: To earn a livelihood some specialised knowledge is needed. General knowledge develops the mind, no doubt. But if you are going to spend your life in amassing knowledge, you build a wall round yourself. To go beyond the mind, a well furnished mind is not needed.
Q: Then what is needed?
M: Distrust your mind, and go beyond.
Q: What shall I find beyond the mind?
M: The direct experience of being, knowing and loving.
Q: How does one go beyond the mind?
M: There are many starting points -- they all lead to the same goal. You may begin with selfless work, abandoning the fruits of action; you may then give up thinking and end in giving up all desires. Here, giving up (tyaga) is the operational factor. Or, you may not bother about any thing you want, or think, or do and just stay put in the thought and feeling 'I am', focussing 'I am' firmly in your mind. All kinds of experience may come to you -- remain unmoved in the knowledge that all perceivable is transient, and only the 'I am' endures.
Q: I cannot give all my life to such practices. I have my duties to attend to.
M: By all means attend to your duties. Action, in which you are not emotionally involved and which is beneficial and does not cause suffering will not bind you. You may be engaged in several directions and work with enormous zest, yet remain inwardly free and quiet, with a mirror-like mind, which reflects all, without being affected.
Q: Is such a state realisable?
M: I would not talk about it, if it were not. Why should I engage in fancies?
Q: Everybody quotes scriptures.
M: Those who know only scriptures know nothing. To know is to be. I know what I am talking about; it is not from reading, or hearsay.
Q: I am studying Sanskrit under a professor, but really I am only reading scriptures. I am in search of self-realisation and I came to get the needed guidance. Kindly tell me what am I to do?
M: Since you have read the scriptures, why do you ask me?
Q: The scriptures show the general directions but the individual needs personal instructions.
M: Your own self is your ultimate teacher (sadguru). The outer teacher (Guru) is merely a milestone. It is only your inner teacher, that will walk with you to the goal, for he is the goal.
Q: The inner teacher is not easily reached.
M: Since he is in you and with you, the difficulty cannot be serious. Look within, and you will find him.
Q: When I look within, I find sensations and perceptions, thoughts and feelings, desires and fears, memories and expectations. I am immersed in this cloud and see nothing else.
M: That which sees all this, and the nothing too, is the inner teacher. He alone is, all else only appears to be. He is your own self (swarupa), your hope and assurance of freedom; find him and cling to him and you will be saved and safe.
Q: I do believe you, but when it comes to the actual finding of this inner self, I find it escapes me.
M: The idea 'it escapes me', where does it arise?
Q: In the mind.
M: And who knows the mind.
Q: The witness of the mind knows the mind.
M: Did anybody come to you and say: 'I am the witness of your mind'?
Q: Of course not. He would have been just another idea in the mind.
M: Then who is the witness?
Q: I am.
M: So, you know the witness because you are the witness. You need not see the witness in front of you. Here again, to be is to know.
Q: Yes, I see that I am the witness, the awareness itself. But in which way does it profit me?
M: What a question! What kind of profit do you expect? To know what you are, is it not good enough?
Q: What are the uses of self-knowledge?
M: It helps you to understand what you are not and keeps you free from false ideas, desires and actions.
Q: If I am the witness only, what do right and wrong matter?
M: What helps you to know yourself is right. What prevents, is wrong. To know one's real self is bliss, to forget -- is sorrow.
Q: Is the witness-consciousness the real Self?
M: It is the reflection of the real in the mind (buddhi). The real is beyond. The witness is the door through which you pass beyond.
Q: What is the purpose of meditation?
M: Seeing the false as the false, is meditation. This must go on all the time.
Q: We are told to meditate regularly.
M: Deliberate daily exercise in discrimination between the true and the false and renunciation of the false is meditation. There are many kinds of meditation to begin with, but they all merge finally into one.
Q: Please tell me which road to self-realisation is the shortest.
M: No way is short or long, but some people are more in earnest and some are less. I can tell you about myself. I was a simple man, but I trusted my Guru. What he told me to do, I did. He told me to concentrate on 'I am' -- I did. He told me that I am beyond all perceivables and conceivables -- I believed. I gave him my heart and soul, my entire attention and the whole of my spare time (I had to work to keep my family alive). As a result of faith and earnest application, I realised my self (swarupa) within three years.
You may choose any way that suits you; your earnestness will determine the rate of progress.
Q: No hint for me?
M: Establish yourself firmly in the awareness of 'I am'. This is the beginning and also the end of all endeavour.
17. The Ever-Present
Questioner: The highest powers of the mind are understanding, intelligence and insight. Man has three bodies -- the physical, the mental and the causal (prana, mana, karana). The physical reflects his being; the mental -- his knowing and the causal -- his joyous creativity. Of course, these are all forms in consciousness. But they appear to be separate, with qualities of their own. Intelligence (buddhi) is the reflection in the mind of the power to know (chit). It is what makes the mind knowledgeable. The brighter the intelligence, the wider, deeper and truer the knowledge. To know things, to know people and to know oneself are all functions of intelligence: the last is the most important and contains the former two. Misunderstanding oneself and the world leads to false ideas and desires, which again lead to bondage. Right understanding of oneself is necessary for freedom from the bondage of illusion. I understand all this in theory, but when it comes to practice, I find that I fail hopelessly in my responses to situations and people and by my inappropriate reactions I merely add to my bondage. Life is too quick for my dull and slow mind. I do understand but too late, when the old mistakes have been already repeated.
Maharaj: What then is your problem?
Q: I need a response to life, not only intelligent, but also very quick. It cannot be quick unless it is perfectly spontaneous. How can I achieve such spontaneity?
M: The mirror can do nothing to attract the sun. It can only keep bright. As soon as the mind is ready, the sun shines in it.
Q: The light is of the Self, or of the mind?
M: Both. It is uncaused and unvarying by itself and coloured by the mind, as it moves and changes. It is very much like a cinema. The light is not in the film, but the film colours the light and makes it appear to move by intercepting it.
Q: Are you now in the perfect state?
M: Perfection is a state of the mind, when it is pure. I am beyond the mind, whatever its state, pure or impure. Awareness is my nature; ultimately I am beyond being and non-being.
Q: Will meditation help me to reach your state?
M: Meditation will help you to find your bonds, loosen them, untie them and cast your moorings. When you are no longer attached to anything, you have done your share. The rest will be done for you.
Q: By whom?
M: By the same power that brought you so far, that prompted your heart to desire truth and your mind to seek it. It is the same power that keeps you alive. You may call it Life or the Supreme.
Q: The same power kills me in due course.
M: Were you not present at your birth? Will you not be present at your death? Find him who is always present and your problem of spontaneous and perfect response will be solved.
Q: realisation of the eternal and an effortless and adequate response to the ever-changing temporary event are two different and separate questions. You seem to roll them into one. What makes you do so?
M: To realise the Eternal is to become the Eternal, the whole, the universe, with all it contains. Every event is the effect and the expression of the whole and is in fundamental harmony with the whole. All response from the whole must be right, effortless and instantaneous.
It cannot be otherwise, if it is right. Delayed response is wrong response. Thought, feeling and action must be one and simultaneous with the situation that calls for them.
Q: How does it come?
M: I told you already. Find him who was present at your birth and will witness your death.
Q: My father and mother?
M: Yes, your father-mother, the source from which you came. To solve a problem you must trace it to its source. Only in the dissolution of the problem in the universal solvents of enquiry and dispassion, can its right solution be found.
18. To Know What you Are, Find What you Are Not
Questioner: Your way of describing the universe as consisting of matter, mind and spirit is one of the many. There are other patterns to which the universe is expected to conform, and one is at a loss to know which pattern is true and which is not. One ends in suspecting that all patterns are only verbal and that no pattern can contain reality. According to you, reality consists of three expanses: The expanse of matter-energy (mahadakash), the expanse of consciousness (chidakash) and of pure spirit (paramakash). The first is something that has both movement and inertia. That we perceive. We also know that we perceive -- we are conscious and also aware of being conscious. Thus, we have two: matter-energy and consciousness. Matter seems to be in space while energy is always in time, being connected with change and measured by the rate of change. Consciousness seems to be somehow here and now, in a single point of time and space. But you seem to suggest that consciousness too is universal -- which makes it timeless, spaceless and impersonal. I can somehow understand that there is no contradiction between the timeless and spaceless and the here and now, but impersonal consciousness I cannot fathom. To me consciousness is always focalised, centred, individualised, a person. You seem to say that there can be perceiving without a perceiver, knowing without a knower, loving without a lover, acting without an actor. I feel that the trinity of knowing, knower and known can be seen in every movement of life. Consciousness implies a conscious being, an object of consciousness and the fact of being conscious. That which is conscious I call a person. A person lives in the world, is a part of it, affects it and is affected by it.
Maharaj: Why don't you enquire how real are the world and the person?
Q: Oh, no! I need not enquire. Enough if the person is not less real than the world in which the person exists.
M: Then what is the question?
Q: Are persons real, and universals conceptual, or are universals real and persons imaginary?
M: Neither are real.
Q: Surely, I am real enough to merit your reply and I am a person.
M: Not when asleep.
Q: Submergence is not absence. Even though asleep, I am.
M: To be a person you must be self-conscious. Are you so always?
Q: Not when I sleep, of course, nor when I am in a swoon, or drugged.
M: During your waking hours are you continually self-conscious?
Q: No, Sometimes I am absent-minded, or just absorbed.
M: Are you a person during the gaps in self-consciousness?
Q: Of course I am the same person throughout. I remember myself as I was yesterday and yester year -- definitely, I am the same person.
M: So, to be a person, you need memory?
Q: Of course.
M: And without memory, what are you?
Q: Incomplete memory entails incomplete personality. Without memory I cannot exist as a person.
M: Surely you can exist without memory. You do so -- in sleep.
Q: Only in the sense of remaining alive. Not as a person.
M: Since you admit that as a person you have only intermittent existence, can you tell me what are you in the intervals in between experiencing yourself as a person?
Q: I am, but not as a person. Since I am not conscious of myself in the intervals, I can only say that I exist, but not as a person.
M: Shall we call it impersonal existence?
Q: I would call it rather unconscious existence; I am, but I do not know that I am.
M: You have said just now: 'I am, but I do not know that I am'. Could you possibly say it about your being in an unconscious state?
Q: No, I could not.
M: You can only describe it in the past tense: 'I did not know. I was unconscious', in the sense of not remembering.
Q: Having been unconscious, how could I remember and what?
M: Were you really unconscious, or you just do not remember?
Q: How am I to make out?
M: Consider. Do you remember every second of yesterday?
Q: Of course, not.
M: Were you then unconscious?
Q: Of course, not.
M: So, you are conscious and yet you do not remember?
M: Maybe you were conscious in sleep and just do not remember.
Q: No, I was not conscious. I was asleep. I did not behave like a conscious person.
M: Again, how do you know?
Q: I was told so by those who saw me asleep.
M: All they can testify to is that they saw you lying quietly with closed eyes and breathing regularly. They could not make out whether you were conscious or not. Your only proof is your own memory. A very uncertain proof it is!
Q: Yes, I admit that on my own terms I am a person only during my waking hours. What I am in between, I do not know.
M: At least you know that you do not know! Since you pretend not to be conscious in the intervals between the waking hours, leave the intervals alone. Let us consider the waking hours only.
Q: I am the same person in my dreams.
M: Agreed. Let us consider them together waking and dreaming. The difference is merely in continuity. Were your dreams consistently continuous, bringing back night after night the same surroundings and the same people, you would be at a loss to know which is the waking and which is the dream. Henceforward, when we talk of the waking state, we shall include the dream state too.
Q: Agreed. I am a person in a conscious relation with a world.
M: Are the world and the conscious relation with it essential to your being a person?
Q: Even immersed in a cave, I remain a person.
M: It implies a body and a cave. And a world in which they can exist.
Q: Yes. I can see. The world and the consciousness of the world are essential to my existence as a person.
M: This makes the person a part and parcel of the world, or vice versa. The two are one.
Q: Consciousness stands alone. The person and the world appear in consciousness.
M: You said: appear. Could you add: disappear?
Q: No, I cannot. I can only be aware of my and my world's appearance. As a person, I cannot say: 'the world is not'. Without a world I would not be there to say it. Because there is a world, I am there to say: 'there is a world'.
M: Maybe it is the other way round. Because of you, there is a world.
Q: To me such statement appears meaningless.
M: Its meaninglessness may disappear on investigation.
Q: Where do we begin?
M: All I know is that whatever depends, is not real. The real is truly independent. Since the existence of the person depends on the existence of the world and it is circumscribed and defined by the world, it cannot be real.
Q: It cannot be a dream, surely.
M: Even a dream has existence, when it is cognised and enjoyed, or endured. Whatever you think and feel has being. But it may not be what you take it to be. What you think to be a person may be something quite different.
Q: I am what I know myself to be.
M: You cannot possibly say that you are what you think yourself to be! Your ideas about yourself change from day to day and from moment to moment. Your self-image is the most changeful thing you have. It is utterly vulnerable, at the mercy of a passer by. A bereavement, the loss of a job, an insult, and your image of yourself, which you call your person, changes deeply. To know what you are you must first investigate and know what you are not. And to know what you are not you must watch yourself carefully, rejecting all that does not necessarily go with the basic fact: 'I am'. The ideas: I am born at a given place, at a given time, from my parents and now I am so-and-so, living at, married to, father of, employed by, and so on, are not inherent in the sense 'I am'. Our usual attitude is of 'I am this'. Separate consistently and perseveringly the 'I am' from 'this' or 'that', and try to feel what it means to be, just to be, without being 'this' or 'that'. All our habits go against it and the task of fighting them is long and hard sometimes, but clear understanding helps a lot. The clearer you understand that on the level of the mind you can be described in negative terms only, the quicker you will come to the end of your search and realise your limitless being.
19. Reality lies in Objectivity
Questioner: I am a painter and I earn by painting pictures. Has it any value from the spiritual point of view?
Maharaj: When you paint what do you think about?
Q: When I paint, there is only the painting and myself.
M: What are you doing there?
Q: I paint.
M: No, you don't. You see the painting going on. You are watching only, all else happens.
Q: The picture is painting itself? Or, is there some deeper 'me', or some god who is painting?
M: Consciousness itself is the greatest painter. The entire world is a Picture.
Q: Who painted the picture of the world?
M: The painter is in the Picture.
Q: The picture is in the mind of the painter and the painter is in the picture, which is in the mind of the painter who is in the picture! Is not this infinity of states and dimensions absurd? The moment we talk of picture in the mind, which itself is in the picture, we come to an endless succession of witnesses, the higher witness witnessing the lower. It is like standing between two mirrors and wondering at the crowd!
M: Quite right, you alone and the double mirror are there. Between the two, your forms and names are numberless.
Q: How do you look at the world?
M: I see a painter painting a picture. The picture I call the world, the painter I call God. I am neither. I do not create, nor am I created. I contain all, nothing contains me.
Q: When I see a tree, a face, a sunset, the picture is perfect. When I close my eyes, the image in my mind is faint and hazy. If it is my mind that projects the picture, why need I open my eyes to see a lovely flower and with eyes closed I see it vaguely?
M: It is because your outer eyes are better than your inner eyes. Your mind is all turned outward. As you learn to watch your mental world, you will find it even more colourful and perfect than what the body can provide. Of course, you will need some training. But why argue? You imagine that the picture must come from the painter who actually painted it. All the time you look for origins and causes. Causality is in the mind, only; memory gives the illusion of continuity and repetitiveness creates the idea of causality. When things repeatedly happen together, we tend to see a causal link between them. It creates a mental habit, but a habit is not a necessity.
Q: You have just said that the world is made by God.
M: Remember that language is an instrument of the mind; It is made by the mind, for the mind. Once you admit a cause, then God is the ultimate cause and the world the effect. They are different, but not separate.
Q: People talk of seeing God.
M: When you see the world you see God. There is no seeing God, apart from the world. Beyond the world to see God is to be God. The light by which you see the world, which is God is the tiny little spark: 'I am', apparently so small, yet the first and the last in every act of knowing and loving.
Q: Must I see the world to see God?
M: How else? No world, no God.
Q: What remains?
M: You remain as pure being.
Q: And what becomes of the world and of God?
M: Pure being (avyakta).
Q: Is it the same as the Great Expanse (paramakash)?
M: You may call it so. Words do not matter, for they do not reach it. They turn back in utter negation.
Q: How can I see the world as God? What does it mean to see the world as God?
M: It is like entering a dark room. You see nothing -- you may touch, but you do not see -- no colours, no outlines. The window opens and the room is flooded with light. Colours and shapes come into being. The window is the giver of light, but not the source of it. The sun is the source. Similarly, matter is like the dark room; consciousness -- the window -- flooding matter with sensations and perceptions, and the Supreme is the sun the source both of matter and of light. The window may be closed, or open, the sun shines all the time. It makes all the difference to the room, but none to the sun. Yet all this is secondary to the tiny little thing which is the 'I am'. Without the 'I am' there is nothing. All knowledge is about the 'I am'. False ideas about this 'I am' lead to bondage, right knowledge leads to freedom and happiness.
Q: Is 'I am' and 'there is' the same?
M: 'I am' denotes the inner, 'there is' -- the outer. Both are based on the sense of being.
Q: Is it the same as the experience of existence?
M: To exist means to be something, a thing, a feeling, a thought, an idea. All existence is particular. Only being is universal, in the sense that every being is compatible with every other being. Existences clash, being -- never. Existence means becoming, change, birth and death and birth again, while in being there is silent peace.
Q: If I create the world, why have I made it bad?
M: Everyone lives in his own world. Not all the worlds are equally good or bad.
Q: What determines the difference?
M: The mind that projects the world, colours it its own way. When you meet a man, he is a stranger. When you marry him, he becomes your own self. When you quarrel, he becomes your enemy. It is your mind's attitude that determines what he is to you.
Q: I can see that my world is subjective. Does it make it also illusory?
M: It is illusory as long as it is subjective and to that extent only. Reality lies in objectivity.
Q: What does objectivity mean? You said the world is subjective and now you talk of objectivity. Is not everything subjective?
M: Everything is subjective, but the real is objective.
Q: In what sense?
M: It does not depend on memories and expectations, desires and fears, likes and dislikes. All is seen as it is.
Q: Is it what you call the fourth state (turiya)?
M: Call it as you like. It is solid, steady, changeless, beginningless and endless, ever new, ever fresh.
Q: How is it reached?
M: Desirelessness and fearlessness will take you there.
20. The Supreme is Beyond All
Questioner: You say, reality is one. Oneness, unity, is the attribute of the person. Is then reality a person, with the universe as its body?
Maharaj: Whatever you may say will be both true and false. Words do not reach beyond the mind.
Q: I am just trying to understand. You are telling us of the Person, the Self and the Supreme. (vyakti, vyakta, avyakta). The light of Pure Awareness (pragna), focussed as 'I am' in the Self (jivatma), as consciousness (chetana) illumines the mind (antahkarana) and as life (prana) vitalises the body (deha). All this is fine as far as the words go. But when it comes to distinguishing in myself the person from the Self and the Self from the Supreme, I get mixed up.
M: The person is never the subject. You can see a person, but you are not the person. You are always the Supreme which appears at a given point of time and space as the witness, a bridge between the pure awareness of the Supreme and the manifold consciousness of the person.
Q: When I look at myself, I find I am several persons fighting among themselves for the use of the body.
M: They correspond to the various tendencies (samskara) of the mind.
Q: Can I make peace between them?
M: How can you? They are so contradictory! See them as they are -- mere habits of thoughts and feelings, bundles of memories and urges.
Q: Yet they all say 'I am'.
M: It is only because you identify yourself with them. Once you realise that whatever appears before you cannot be yourself, and cannot say 'I am', you are free of all your 'persons' and their demands. The sense 'I am' is your own. You cannot part with it, but you can impart it to anything, as in saying: I am young. I am rich etc. But such self-identifications are patently false and the cause of bondage.
Q: I can now understand that I am not the person, but that which, when reflected in the person, gives it a sense of being. Now, about the Supreme? In what way do I know myself as the Supreme?
M: The source of consciousness cannot be an object in consciousness. To know the source is to be the source. When you realise that you are not the person, but the pure and calm witness, and that fearless awareness is your very being, you are the being. It is the source, the Inexhaustible Possibility.
Q: Are there many sources or one for all?
M: It depends how you look at it, from which end. The objects in the world are many, but the eye that sees them is one. The higher always appears as one to the lower and the lower as many to the higher.
Q: Shapes and names are all of one and the same God?
M: Again, it all depends on how you look at it. On the verbal level everything is relative. Absolutes should be experienced, not discussed.
Q: How is the Absolute experienced?
M: It is not an object to be recognised and stored up in memory. It is in the present and in feeling rather. It has more to do with the 'how' than with the 'what'. It is in the quality, in the value; being the source of everything, it is in everything.
Q: If it is the source, why and how does it manifest itself?
M: It gives birth to consciousness. All else is in consciousness.
Q: Why are there so many centres of consciousness?
M: The objective universe (mahadakash) is in constant movement, projecting and dissolving innumerable forms. Whenever a form is infused with life (prana), consciousness (chetana) appears by reflection of awareness in matter.
Q: How is the Supreme affected?
M: What can affect it and how? The source is not affected by the vagaries of the river nor is the metal -- by the shape of the jewellery. Is the light affected by the picture on the screen? The Supreme makes everything possible, that is all.
Q: How is it that some things do happen and some don't?
M: Seeking out causes is a pastime of the mind. There is no duality of cause and effect. Everything is its own cause.
Q: No purposeful action is then possible?
M: All I say is that consciousness contains all. In consciousness all is possible. You can have causes if you want them, in your world. Another may be content with a single cause -- God's will. The root cause is one: the sense 'I am'.
Q: What is the link between the Self (Vyakta) and the Supreme (Avyakta)?
M: From the self's point of view the world is the known, the Supreme -- the Unknown. The Unknown gives birth to the known, yet remains Unknown. The known is infinite, but the Unknown is an infinitude of infinities. Just like a ray of light is never seen unless intercepted by the specs of dust, so does the Supreme make everything known, itself remaining unknown.
Q: Does it mean that the Unknown is inaccessible?
M: Oh, no. The Supreme is the easiest to reach for it is your very being. It is enough to stop thinking and desiring anything, but the Supreme.
Q: And if I desire nothing, not even the Supreme?
M: Then you are as good as dead, or you are the Supreme.
Q: The world is full of desires: Everybody wants something or other. Who is the desirer? The person or the self?
M: The self. All desires, holy and unholy, come from the self; they all hang on the sense 'I am'.
Q: I can understand holy desires (satyakama) emanating from the self. It may be the expression of the bliss aspect of the Sadchitananda (Beingness -- Awareness --Happiness) of the Self. But why unholy desires?
M: All desires aim at happiness. Their shape and quality depend on the psyche (antahkarana). Where inertia (tamas) predominates, we find perversions. With energy (rajas), passions arise. With lucidity (sattva) the motive behind the desire is goodwill, compassion, the urge to make happy rather than be happy. But the Supreme is beyond all, yet because of its infinite permeability all cogent desires can be fulfilled.
Q: Which desires are cogent?
M: Desires that destroy their subjects, or objects, or do not subside on satisfaction are self-contradictory and cannot be fulfilled. Only desires motivated by love, goodwill and compassion are beneficial to both the subject and object and can be fully satisfied.
Q: All desires are painful, the holy as well as the unholy.
M: They are not the same and pain is not the same. Passion is painful, compassion -- never. The entire universe strives to fulfil a desire born of compassion.
Q: Does the Supreme know itself? Is the Impersonal conscious?
M: The source of all has all. Whatever flows from it must be there already in seed form. And as a seed is the last of innumerable seeds, and contains the experience and the promise of numberless forests, so does the Unknown contain all that was, or could have been and all that shall or would be. The entire field of becoming is open and accessible; past and future coexist in the eternal now.
Q: Are you living in the Supreme Unknown?
M: Where else?
Q: What makes you say so?
M: No desire ever arises in my mind.
Q: Are you then unconscious?
M: Of course not! I am fully conscious, but since no desire or fear enters my mind, there is perfect silence.
Q: Who knows the silence?
M: Silence knows itself. It is the silence of the silent mind, when passions and desires are silenced.
Q: Do you experience desires occasionally?
M: Desires are just waves in the mind. You know a wave when you see one. A desire is just a thing among many. I feel no urge to satisfy it, no action needs be taken on it. Freedom from desire means this: the compulsion to satisfy is absent.
Q: Why do desires arise at all?
M: Because you imagine that you were born, and that you will die if you do not take care of your body. Desire for embodied existence is the root-cause of trouble.
Q: Yet, so many jivas get into bodies. Surely it cannot be some error of judgement. There must be a purpose. What could it be?
M: To know itself the self must be faced with its opposite -- the not-self. Desire leads to experience. Experience leads to discrimination, detachment, self-knowledge -- liberation. And what is liberation after all? To know that you are beyond birth and death. By forgetting who you are and imagining yourself a mortal creature, you created so much trouble for yourself that you have to wake up, like from a bad dream.
Enquiry also wakes you up. You need not wait for suffering; enquiry into happiness is better, for the mind is in harmony and peace.
Q: Who exactly is the ultimate experiencer -- the Self or the Unknown?
M: The Self, of course.
Q: Then why introduce the notion of the Supreme Unknown?
M: To explain the Self.
Q: But is there anything beyond the Self?
M: Outside the Self there is nothing. All is one and all is contained in 'I am'. In the waking and dream states it is the person. In deep sleep and turiya it is the Self. Beyond the alert intentness of turiya lies the great, silent peace of the Supreme. But in fact all is one in essence and related in appearance. In ignorance the seer becomes the seen and in wisdom he is the seeing.
But why be concerned with the Supreme? Know the knowers and all will be known.