By Nisargadatta Maharaj
21. Who am I?
We are advised to worship reality personified as God, or as the Perfect Man.
We are told not to attempt the worship of the Absolute, as it is much too difficult
for a braincentred consciousness.
Maharaj: Truth is simple and open to all. Why do you complicate? Truth is loving and lovable. It includes all, accepts all, purifies all. It is untruth that is difficult and a source of trouble. It always wants, expects, demands. Being false, it is empty, always in search of confirmation and reassurance. It is afraid of and avoids enquiry. It identifies itself with any support, however weak and momentary. Whatever it gets, it loses and asks for more. Therefore put no faith in the conscious. Nothing you can see, feel, or think is so. Even sin and virtue, merit and demerit are not what they appear. Usually the bad and the good are a matter of convention and custom and are shunned or welcomed, according to how the words are used.
Q: Are there not good desires and bad, high desires and low?
M: All desires are bad, but some are worse than others. Pursue any desire, it will always give you trouble.
Q: Even the desire to be free of desire?
M: Why desire at all? Desiring a state of freedom from desire will not set you free. Nothing can set you free, because you are free. See yourself with desireless clarity, that is all.
Q: It takes time to know oneself.
M: How can time help you? Time is a succession of moments; each moment appears out of nothing and disappears into nothing, never to reappear. How can you build on something so fleeting?
Q: What is permanent?
M: Look to yourself for the permanent. Dive deep within and find what is real in you.
Q: How to look for myself?
M: Whatever happens, it happens to you. What you do, the doer is in you. Find the subject of all that you are as a person.
Q: What else can I be?
M: Find out. Even if I tell you that you are the witness, the silent watcher, it will mean nothing to you, unless you find the way to your own being.
Q: My question is: How to find the way to one's own being?
M: Give up all questions except one: 'Who am l'? After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The 'I am' is certain. The 'I am this' is not. Struggle to find out what you are in reality.
Q: I am doing nothing else for the last 60 years.
M: What is wrong with striving? Why look for results? Striving itself is your real nature.
Q: Striving is painful.
M: You make it so by seeking results. Strive without seeking, struggle without greed.
Q: Why has God made me as I am?
M: Which God are you talking about? What is God? Is he not the very light by which you ask the question? 'I am' itself is God. The seeking itself is God. In seeking you discover that you are neither the body nor mind, and the love of the self in you is for the self in all. The two are one. The consciousness in you and the consciousness in me, apparently two, really one, seek unity and that is love.
Q: How am I to find that love?
M: What do you love now? The 'I am'. Give your heart and mind to it, think of nothing else. This, when effortless and natural, is the highest state. In it love itself is the lover and the beloved.
Q: Everybody wants to live, to exist. Is it not self-love?
M: All desire has its source in the self. It is all a matter of choosing the right desire.
Q: What is right and what is wrong varies with habit and custom. Standards vary with societies.
M: Discard all traditional standards. Leave them to the hypocrites. Only what liberates you from desire and fear and wrong ideas is good. As long as you worry about sin and virtue you will have no peace.
Q: I grant that sin and virtue are social norms. But there may be also spiritual sins and virtues. I mean by spiritual the absolute. Is there such a thing as absolute sin or absolute virtue?
M: Sin and virtue refer to a person only. Without a sinful or virtuous person what is sin or virtue? At the level of the absolute there are no persons; the ocean of pure awareness is neither virtuous nor sinful. Sin and virtue are invariably relative.
Q: Can I do away with such unnecessary notions?
M: Not as long as you think yourself to be a person.
Q: By what sign shall l know that I am beyond sin and virtue?
M: By being free from all desire and fear, from the very idea of being a person. To nourish the ideas: 'I am a sinner' 'I am not a sinner', is sin. To identify oneself with the particular is all the sin there is. The impersonal is real, the personal appears and disappears. 'I am' is the impersonal Being. 'I am this' is the person. The person is relative and the pure Being -- fundamental.
Q: Surely pure Being is not unconscious, nor is it devoid of discrimination. How can it be beyond sin and virtue? Just tell us, please, has it intelligence or not?
M: All these questions arise from your believing yourself to be a person. Go beyond the personal and see.
Q: What exactly do you mean when you ask me to stop being a person?
M: I do not ask you to stop being -- that you cannot. I ask you only to stop imagining that you were born, have parents, are a body, will die and so on. Just try, make a beginning -- it is not as hard as you think.
Q: To think oneself as the personal is the sin of the impersonal.
M: Again the personal point of view! Why do you insist on polluting the impersonal with your ideas of sin and virtue? It just does not apply. The impersonal cannot be described in terms of good and bad. It is Being -- Wisdom -- Love -- all absolute. Where is the scope for sin there? And virtue is only the opposite of sin.
Q: We talk of divine virtue.
M: True virtue is divine nature (swarupa). What you are really is your virtue. But the opposite of sin which you call virtue is only obedience born out of fear.
Q: Then why all effort at being good?
M: It keeps you on the move. You go on and on till you find God. Then God takes you into Himself -- and makes you as He is.
Q: The same action is considered natural at one point and a sin at another. What makes it sinful?
M: Whatever you do against your better knowledge is sin.
Q: Knowledge depends on memory.
M: Remembering your self is virtue, forgetting your self is sin. It all boils down to the mental or psychological link between the spirit and matter. We may call the link psyche (antahkarana). When the psyche is raw, undeveloped, quite primitive, it is subject to gross illusions. As it grows in breadth and sensitivity, it becomes a perfect link between pure matter and pure spirit and gives meaning to matter and expression to spirit.
There is the material world (mahadakash) and the spiritual (paramakash). Between lies the universal mind (chidakash) which is also the universal heart (premakash). It is wise love that makes the two one.
Q: Some people are stupid, some are intelligent. The difference is in their psyche. The ripe ones had more experience behind them. Just like a child grows by eating and drinking, sleeping and playing, so is man's psyche shaped by all he thinks and feels and does, until it is perfect enough to serve as a bridge between the spirit and the body. As a bridge permits the traffic; between the banks, so does the psyche bring together the source and its expression.
M: Call it love. The bridge is love.
Q: Ultimately all is experience. Whatever we think, feel, do is experience. Behind it is the experiencer. So all we know consists of these two, the experiencer and the experience. But the two are really one -- the experiencer alone is the experience. Still, the experiencer takes the experience to be outside. In the same way the spirit and the body are one; they only appear as two.
M: To the Spirit there is no second.
Q: To whom then does the second appear? It seems to me that duality is an illusion induced by the imperfection of the psyche. When the psyche is perfect, duality is no longer seen.
M: You have said it.
Q: Still I have to repeat my very simple question: who makes the distinction between sin and virtue?
M: He who has a body, sins with the body, he who has a mind, sins with the mind.
Q: Surely, the mere possession of mind and body does not compel to sin. There must be a third factor at the root of it. I come back again and again to this question of sin and virtue, because now-a-days young people keep on saying that there is no such thing as sin, that one need not be squermish and should follow the moment's desire readily. They will accept neither tradition nor authority and can be influenced only by solid and honest thought. If they refrain from certain actions, it is through fear of police rather than by conviction. Undoubtedly there is something in what they say, for we can see how our values change from place to place and time to time. For instance -- killing in war is great virtue today and may be considered a horrible crime next century.
M: A man who moves with the earth will necessarily experience days and nights. He who stays with the sun will know no darkness. My world is not yours. As I see it, you all are on a stage performing. There is no reality about your comings and goings. And your problems are so unreal!
Q: We may be sleep-walkers, or subject to nightmares. Is there nothing you can do?
M: I am doing: I did enter your dreamlike state to tell you -- "Stop hurting yourself and others, stop suffering, wake up".
Q: Why then don't we wake up?
M: You will. I shall not be thwarted. It may take some time. When you shall begin to question your dream, awakening will be not far away.
22. Life is Love and Love is Life
Questioner: Is the practice of Yoga always conscious? Or, can it be quite unconscious, below the threshold of awareness?
Maharaj: In the case of a beginner the practice of Yoga is often deliberate and requires great determination. But those who are practising sincerely for many years, are intent on self-realisation all the time, whether conscious of it or not. Unconscious sadhana is most effective, because it is spontaneous and steady.
Q: What is the position of the man who was a sincere student of Yoga for some time and then got discouraged and abandoned all efforts?
M: What a man appears to do, or not to do, is often deceptive. His apparent lethargy may be just a gathering of strength. The causes of our behaviour are very subtle. One must not be quick to condemn, not even to praise. Remember that Yoga is the work of the inner self (vyakta) on the outer self (vyakti). All that the outer does is merely in response to the inner.
Q: Still the outer helps.
M: How much can it help and in what way? It has some control over the body and can improve its posture and breathing. Over the mind's thoughts and feelings it has little mastery, for it is itself the mind. It is the inner that can control the outer. The outer will be wise to obey.
Q: If it is the inner that is ultimately responsible for man's spiritual development, why is the outer so much exhorted and encouraged?
M: The outer can help by keeping quiet and free from desire and fear. You would have noticed that all advice to the outer is in the form of negations: don't, stop, refrain, forego, give up, sacrifice, surrender, see the false as false. Even the little description of reality that is given is through denials -- 'not this, not this', (neti, neti). All positives belong to the inner self, as all absolutes -- to Reality.
Q: How are we to distinguish the inner from the outer in actual experience?
M: The inner is the source of inspiration, the outer is moved by memory. The source is untraceable, while all memory begins somewhere. Thus the outer is always determined, while the inner cannot be held in words. The mistake of students consists in their imagining the inner to be something to get hold of, and forgetting that all perceivables are transient and, therefore, unreal. Only that which makes perception possible, call it Life or Brahman, or what you like, is real.
Q: Must Life have a body for its self-expression?
M: The body seeks to live. It is not life that needs the body; it is the body that needs life.
Q: Does life do it deliberately?
M: Does love act deliberately? Yes and no. Life is love and love is life. What keeps the body together but love? What is desire, but love of the self? What is fear but the urge to protect? And what is knowledge but the love of truth? The means and forms may be wrong, but the motive behind is always love -- love of the me and the mine. The me and the mine may be small, or may explode and embrace the universe, but love remains.
Q: The repetition of the name of God is very common in India. Is there any virtue in it?
M: When you know the name of a thing, or a person, you can find it easily. By calling God by His name you make Him come to you.
Q: In what shape does He come?
M: According to your expectations. If you happen to be unlucky and some saintly soul gives you a mantra for good luck and you repeat it with faith and devotion, your bad luck is bound to turn. Steady faith is stronger than destiny. Destiny is the result of causes, mostly accidental, and is therefore loosely woven. Confidence and good hope will overcome it easily.
Q: When a mantra is chanted, what exactly happens?
M: The sound of mantra creates the shape which will embody the Self. The Self can embody any shape -- and operate through it. After all, the Self is expressing itself in action -- and a mantra is primarily energy in action. It acts on you, it acts on your surroundings.
Q: The mantra is traditional. Must it be so?
M: Since time immemorial a link was created between certain words and corresponding energies and reinforced by numberless repetitions. It is just like a road to walk on. It is an easy way -- only faith is needed. You trust the road to take you to your destination.
Q: In Europe there is no tradition of a mantra, except in some contemplative orders. Of what use is it to a modern young Westerner?
M: None, unless he is very much attracted. For him the right procedure is to adhere to the thought that he is the ground of all knowledge, the immutable and perennial awareness of all that happens to the senses and the mind. If he keeps it in mind all the time, aware and alert, he is bound to break the bounds of non-awareness and emerge into pure life, light and love. The idea -- 'I am the witness only' will purify the body and the mind and open the eye of wisdom. Then man goes beyond illusion and his heart is free of all desires. Just like ice turns to water and water to vapour, and vapour dissolves in air and disappears in space, so does the body dissolve into pure awareness (chidakash), then into pure being (paramakash), which is beyond all existence and non-existence.
Q: The realised man eats, drinks and sleeps. What makes him do so?
M: The same power that moves the universe, moves him too.
Q: All are moved by the same power: what is the difference?
M: This only: The realised man knows what others merely hear; but don't experience. Intellectually they may seem convinced, but in action they betray their bondage, while the realised man is always right.
Q: Everybody says 'I am'. The realised man too says 'I am'. Where is the difference?
M: The difference is in the meaning attached to the words 'I am'. With the realised man the experience: 'I am the world, the world is mine' is supremely valid -- he thinks, feels and acts integrally and in unity with all that lives. He may not even know the theory and practice of self-realisation, and be born and bred free of religious and metaphysical notions. But there will not be the least flaw in his understanding and compassion.
Q: I may come across a beggar, naked and hungry and ask him 'Who are you?' He may answer: 'I am the Supreme Self'. 'Well', I say, 'suffice you are the Supreme, change your present state'. What will he do?
M: He will ask you: 'Which state? What is there that needs changing? What is wrong with me?
Q: Why should he answer so?
M: Because he is no longer bound by appearances, he does not identify himself with the name and shape. He uses memory, but memory cannot use him.
Q: Is not all knowledge based on memory?
M: Lower knowledge -- yes. Higher knowledge, knowledge of Reality, is inherent in man's true nature.
Q: Can I say that I am not what I am conscious of, nor am I consciousness itself?
M: As long as you are a seeker, better cling to the idea that you are pure consciousness, free from all content. To go beyond consciousness is the supreme state.
Q: The desire for realisation, does it originate in consciousness or beyond?
M: In consciousness, of course. All desire is born from memory and is within the realm of consciousness. What is beyond is clear of all striving. The very desire to go beyond consciousness is still in consciousness.
Q: Is there any trace, or imprint, of the beyond on consciousness?
M: No, there cannot be.
Q: Then, what is the link between the two? How can a passage be found between two states which have nothing in common? Is not pure awareness the link between the two?
M: Even pure awareness is a form of consciousness.
Q: Then what is beyond? Emptiness?
M: Emptiness again refers only to consciousness. Fullness and emptiness are relative terms. The Real is really beyond -- beyond not in relation to consciousness, but beyond all relations of whatever kind. The difficulty comes with the word 'state'. The Real is not a state of something else -- it is not a state of mind or consciousness or psyche -- nor is it something that has a beginning and an end, being and not being. All opposites are contained in it -- but it is not in the play of opposites. You must not take it to be the end of a transition. It is itself, after the consciousness as such is no more. Then words 'I am man', or 'I am God' have no meaning. Only in silence and in darkness can it be heard and seen.
23. Discrimination leads to Detachment
Maharaj: You are all drenched for it is raining hard. In my world it is always fine weather. There is no night or day, no heat or cold. No worries beset me there, nor regrets. My mind is free of thoughts, for there are no desires to slave for.
Questioner: Are there two worlds?
M: Your world is transient, changeful. My world is perfect, changeless. You can tell me what you like about your world -- I shall listen carefully, even with interest, yet not for a moment shall I forget that your world is not, that you are dreaming.
Q: What distinguishes your world from mine?
M: My world has no characteristics by which it can be identified. You can say nothing about it. I am my world. My world is myself. It is complete and perfect. Every impression is erased, every experience -- rejected. I need nothing, not even myself, for myself I cannot lose.
Q: Not even God?
M: All these ideas and distinctions exist in your world; in mine there is nothing of the kind. My world is single and very simple.
Q: Nothing happens there?
M: Whatever happens in your world, only there it has validity and evokes response. In my world nothing happens.
Q: The very fact of your experiencing your own world implies duality inherent in all experience.
M: Verbally -- yes. But your words do not reach me. Mine is a non-verbal world. In your world the unspoken has no existence. In mine -- the words and their contents have no being. In your world nothing stays, in mine -- nothing changes. My world is real, while yours is made of dreams.
Q: Yet we are talking.
M: The talk is in your world. In mine -- there is eternal silence. My silence sings, my emptiness is full, I lack nothing. You cannot know my world until you are there.
Q: It seems as if you alone are in your world.
M: How can you say alone or not alone, when words do not apply? Of course, I am alone for I am all.
Q: Are you ever coming into our world?
M: What is coming and going to me? These again are words. I am. Whence am I to come from and where to go?
Q: Of what use is your world to me?
M: You should consider more closely your own world, examine it critically and, suddenly, one day you will find yourself in mine.
Q: What do we gain by it?
M: You gain nothing. You leave behind what is not your own and find what you have never lost -- your own being.
Q: Who is the ruler of your world?
M: There are no ruler and ruled here. There is no duality whatsoever. You are merely projecting your own ideas. Your scriptures and your gods have no meaning here.
Q: Still you have a name and shape, display consciousness and activity.
M: In your world I appear so. In mine I have being only. Nothing else. You people are rich with your ideas of possession, of quantity and quality. I am completely without ideas.
Q: In my world there is disturbance, distress and despair. You seem to be living on some hidden income, while I must slave for a living.
M: Do as you please. You are free to leave your world for mine.
Q: How is the crossing done?
M: See your world as it is, not as you imagine it to be. Discrimination will lead to detachment; detachment will ensure right action; right action will build the inner bridge to your real being. Action is a proof of earnestness. Do what you are told diligently and faithfully and all obstacles will dissolve.
Q: Are you happy?
M: In your world I would be most miserable. To wake up, to eat, to talk, to sleep again -- what a bother!
Q: So you do not want to live even?
M: To live, to die -- what meaningless words are these! When you see me alive, I am dead. When you think me dead, I am alive. How muddled up you are!
Q: How indifferent you are? All the sorrows of our world are as nothing to you.
M: I am quite conscious of your troubles.
Q: Then what are you doing about them?
M: There is nothing I need doing. They come and go.
Q: Do they go by the very act of your giving them attention?
M: Yes. The difficulty may be physical, emotional or mental; but it is always individual. Large scale calamities are the sum of numberless individual destinies and take time to settle. But death is never a calamity.
Q: Even when a man is killed?
M: The calamity is of the killer.
Q: Still, it seems there are two worlds, mine and yours.
M: Mine is real, yours is of the mind.
Q: Imagine a rock and a hole in the rock and a frog in the hole. The frog may spend its life in perfect bliss, undistracted, undisturbed. Outside the rock the world goes on. If the frog in the hole were told about the outside world, he would say: 'There is no such thing. My world is of peace and bliss. Your world is a word structure only, it has no existence'. It is the same with you. When you tell us that our world simply does not exist, there is no common ground for discussion. Or, take another example. I go to a doctor and complain of stomach ache. He examines me and says: 'You are all right'. 'But it pains' I say. 'Your pain is mental' he asserts. I say 'It does not help me to know that my pain is mental. You are a doctor, cure me of my pain. If you cannot cure me, you are not my doctor.'
M: Quite right.
Q: You have built the railroad, but for lack of a bridge no train can pass. Build the bridge.
M: There is no need of a bridge.
Q: There must be some link between your world and mine.
M: There is no need of a link between a real world and an imaginary world, for there cannot be any.
Q: So what are we to do?
M: Investigate your world, apply your mind to it, examine it critically, scrutinise every idea about it; that will do.
Q: The world is too big for investigation. All I know is that I am the world is, the world troubles me and I trouble the world.
M: My experience is that everything is bliss. But the desire for bliss creates pain. Thus bliss becomes the seed of pain. The entire universe of pain is born of desire. Give up the desire for pleasure and you will not even know what is pain.
Q: Why should pleasure be the seed of pain?
M: Because for the sake of pleasure you are committing many sins. And the fruits of sin are suffering and death.
Q: You say the world is of no use to us -- only a tribulation. I feel it cannot be so. God is not such a fool. The world seems to me a big enterprise for bringing the potential into actual, matter into life, the unconscious into full awareness. To realise the supreme we need the experience of the opposites. Just as for building a temple we need stone and mortar, wood and iron, glass and tiles, so for making a man into a divine sage, a master of life and death, one needs the material of every experience. As a woman goes to the market, buys provisions of every sort, comes home, cooks, bakes and feeds her lord, so we bake ourselves nicely in the fire of life and feed our God.
M: Well, if you think so, act on it. Feed your God, by all means.
Q: A child goes to school and learns many things, which will be of no use to it later. But in the course of learning it grows. So do we pass through experiences without number and forget them all, but in the meantime we grow all the time. And what is a jnani but a man with a genius for reality! This world of mine cannot be an accident. It makes sense, there must be a plan behind it. My God has a plan.
M: If the world is false, then the plan and its creator are also false.
Q: Again, you deny the world. There is no bridge between us.
M: There is no need of a bridge. Your mistake lies in your belief that you are born. You were never born nor will you ever die, but you believe that you were born at a certain date and place and that a particular body is your own.
Q: The world is, I am. These are facts.
M: Why do you worry about the world before taking care of yourself? You want to save the world, don't you? Can you save the world before saving yourself? And what means being saved? Saved from what? From illusion. Salvation is to see things as they are. I really do not see myself related to anybody and anything. Not even to a self, whatever that self may be. I remain forever -- undefined. I am -- within and beyond -- intimate and unapproachable.
Q: How did you come to it?
M: By my trust in my Guru. He told me 'You alone are' and I did not doubt him. I was merely puzzling over it, until I realised that it is absolutely true.
Q: Conviction by repetition?
M: By self-realisation. I found that I am conscious and happy absolutely and only by mistake I thought I owed being consciousness-bliss to the body and the world of bodies.
Q: You are not a learned man. You have not read much and what you read, or heard did perhaps not contradict itself. I am fairly well educated and have read a lot and I found that books and teachers contradict each other hopelessly. Hence whatever I read or hear, I take it in a state of doubt. 'It may be so, it may not be so' is my first reaction. And as my mind is unable to decide what is true and what is not, I am left high and dry with my doubts. In Yoga a doubting mind is at a tremendous disadvantage.
M: I am glad to hear it; but my Guru too taught me to doubt -- everything and absolutely. He said: 'deny existence to everything except your self.' Through desire you have created the world with its pains and pleasures.
Q: Must it be also painful?
M: What else? By its very nature pleasure is limited and transitory. Out of pain desire is born, in pain it seeks fulfilment, and it ends in the pain of frustration and despair. Pain is the background of pleasure, all seeking of pleasure is born in pain and ends in pain.
Q: All you say is clear to me. But when some physical or mental trouble comes, my mind goes dull and grey, or seeks frantically for relief.
M: What does it matter? It is the mind that is dull or restless, not you. Look, all kinds of things happen in this room. Do I cause them to happen? They just happen. So it is with you -- the roll of destiny unfolds itself and actualises the inevitable. You cannot change the course of events, but you can change your attitude and what really matters is the attitude and not the bare event. The world is the abode of desires and fears. You cannot find peace in it. For peace you must go beyond the world. The root cause of the world is self-love. Because of it we seek pleasure and avoid pain. Replace self-love by love of the Self and the picture changes. Brahma the Creator is the sum total of all desires. The world is the instrument for their fulfilment. Souls take whatever pleasure they desire and pay for them in tears. Time squares all accounts. The law of balance reigns supreme.
Q: To be a superman one must be a man first. Manhood is the fruit of innumerable experiences: Desire drives to experience. Hence at its own time and level desire is right.
M: All this is true in a way. But a day comes when you have amassed enough and must begin to build. Then sorting out and discarding (viveka-vairagya) are absolutely necessary. Everything must be scrutinised and the unnecessary ruthlessly destroyed. Believe me, there cannot be too much destruction. For in reality nothing is of value. Be passionately dispassionate -- that is all.
24. God is the All-doer, the Jnani a Non-doer
Questioner: Some Mahatmas (enlightened beings) maintain that the world is neither an accident nor a play of God, but the result and expression of a mighty plan of work aiming at awakening and developing consciousness throughout the universe. From lifelessness to life, from unconsciousness to consciousness, from dullness to bright intelligence, from misapprehension to clarity -- that is the direction in which the world moves ceaselessly and relentlessly. Of course, there are moments of rest and apparent darkness, when the universe seems to be dormant, but the rest comes to an end and the work on consciousness is resumed. From our point of view the world is a dale of tears, a place to escape from, as soon as possible and by every possible means. To enlightened beings the world is good and it serves a good purpose. They do not deny that the world is a mental structure and that ultimately all is one, but they see and say that the structure has meaning and serves a supremely desirable purpose. What we call the will of God is not a capricious whim of a playful deity, but the expression of an absolute necessity to grow in love and wisdom and power, to actualise the infinite potentials of life and consciousness.
Just as a gardener grows flowers from a tiny seed to glorious perfection, so does God in His own garden grow, among other beings, men to supermen, who know and love and work along with Him.
When God takes rest (pralaya), those whose growth was not completed, become unconscious for a time, while the perfect ones, who have gone beyond all forms and contents of consciousness, remain aware of the universal silence. When the time comes for the emergence of a new universe, the sleepers wake up and their work starts. The more advanced wake up first and prepare the ground for the less advanced -- who thus find forms and patterns of behaviour suitable for their further growth.
Thus runs the story. The difference with your teaching is this: you insist that the world is no good and should be shunned. They say that distaste for the world is a passing stage, necessary, yet temporary, and is soon replaced by an all-pervading love, and a steady will to work with God.
Maharaj: All you say is right for the outgoing (pravritti) path. For the path of return (nivritti) naughting oneself is necessary. My stand I take where nothing (paramakash) is; words do not reach there, nor thoughts. To the mind it is all darkness and silence. Then consciousness begins to stir and wakes up the mind (chidakash), which projects the world (mahadakash), built of memory and imagination. Once the world comes into being, all you say may be so. It is in the nature of the mind to imagine goals, to strive towards them, to seek out means and ways, to display vision, energy and courage. These are divine attributes and I do not deny them. But I take my stand where no difference exists, where things are not, nor the minds that create them. There I am at home. Whatever happens, does not affect me -- things act on things, that is all. Free from memory and expectation, I am fresh, innocent and wholehearted. Mind is the great worker (mahakarta) and it needs rest. Needing nothing, I am unafraid. Whom to be afraid of? There is no separation, we are not separate selves. There is only one Self, the Supreme Reality, in which the personal and the impersonal are one.
Q: All I want is to be able to help the world.
M: Who says you cannot help? You made up your mind about what help means and needs and got your self into a conflict between what you should and what you can, between necessity and ability.
Q: But why do we do so?
M: Your mind projects a structure and you identify yourself with it. It is in the nature of desire to prompt the mind to create a world for its fulfilment. Even a small desire can start a long line of action; what about a strong desire? Desire can produce a universe; its powers are miraculous. Just as a small matchstick can set a huge forest on fire, so does a desire light the fires of manifestation. The very purpose of creation is the fulfilment of desire. The desire may be noble, or ignoble, space (akash) is neutral -- one can fill it with what one likes: You must be very careful as to what you desire. And as to the people you want to help, they are in their respective worlds for the sake of their desires; there is no way of helping them except through their desires. You can only teach them to have right desires so that they may rise above them and be free from the urge to create and re-create worlds of desires, abodes of pain and pleasure.
Q: A day must come when the show is wound up; a man must die, a universe come to an end.
M: Just as a sleeping man forgets all and wakes up for another day, or he dies and emerges into another life, so do the worlds of desire and fear dissolve and disappear. But the universal witness, the Supreme Self never sleeps and never dies. Eternally the Great Heart beats and at each beat a new universe comes into being.
Q: Is he conscious?
M: He is beyond all that the mind conceives. He is beyond being and not being. He is the Yes and No to everything, beyond and within, creating and destroying, unimaginably real.
Q: God and the Mahatma are they one or two?
M: They are one.
Q: There must be some difference.
M: God is the All-Doer, the jnani is a non-doer. God himself does not say: 'I am doing all.' To Him things happen by their own nature. To the jnani all is done by God. He sees no difference between God and nature. Both God and the jnani know themselves to be the immovable centre of the movable, the eternal witness of the transient. The centre is a point of void and the witness a point of pure awareness; they know themselves to be as nothing, therefore nothing can resist them.
Q: How does this look and feel in your personal experience?
M: Being nothing, I am all. Everything is me, everything is mine. Just as my body moves by my mere thinking of the movement, so do things happen as I think of them. Mind you, I do nothing. I just see them happen.
Q: Do things happen as you want them to happen, or do you want them to happen as they happen?
M: Both. I accept and am accepted. I am all and all is me. Being the world I am not afraid of the world. Being all, what am I to be afraid of? Water is not afraid of water, nor fire of fire. Also I am not afraid because I am nothing that can experience fear, or can be in danger. I have no shape, nor name. It is attachment to a name and shape that breeds fear. I am not attached. I am nothing, and nothing is afraid of no thing. On the contrary, everything is afraid of the Nothing, for when a thing touches Nothing, it becomes nothing. It is like a bottomless well, whatever falls into it, disappears.
Q: Isn't God a person?
M: As long as you think yourself to be a person, He too is a person. When you are all, you see Him as all.
Q: Can I change facts by changing attitude?
M: The attitude is the fact. Take anger. I may be furious, pacing the room up and down; at the same time I know what I am, a centre of wisdom and love, an atom of pure existence. All subsides and the mind merges into silence.
Q: Still, you are angry sometimes.
M: With whom am l to be angry and for what? Anger came and dissolved on my remembering myself. It is all a play of gunas (qualities of cosmic matter). When I identify myself with them, I am their slave. When I stand apart, I am their master.
Q: Can you influence the world by your attitude? By separating yourself from the world you lose all hope of helping it.
M: How can it be? All is myself -- can't I help myself? I do not identify myself with anybody in particular, for I am all -- both the particular and the universal.
Q: Can you then help me, the particular person?
M: But I do help you always -- from within. My self and your self are one. I know it, but you don't. That is all the difference -- and it cannot last.
Q: And how do you help the entire world?
M: Gandhi is dead, yet his mind pervades the earth. The thought of a jnani pervades humanity and works ceaselessly for good. Being anonymous, coming from within, it is the more powerful and compelling. That is how the world improves -- the inner aiding and blessing the outer. When a jnani dies, he is no more, in the same sense in which a river is no more when it merges in the sea, the name, the shape, are no more, but the water remains and becomes one with the ocean. When a jnani joins the universal mind, all his goodness and wisdom become the heritage of humanity and uplift every human being.
Q: We are attached to our personality. Our individuality, our being unlike others, we value very much. You seem to denounce both as useless. Your unmanifested, of what use is it to us?
M: Unmanifested, manifested, individuality, personality (nirguna, saguna, vyakta, vyakti); all these are mere words, points of view, mental attitudes. There is no reality in them. The real is experienced in silence. You cling to personality -- but you are conscious of being a person only when you are in trouble -- when you are not in trouble you do not think of yourself.
Q: You did not tell me the uses of the Unmanifested.
M: Surely, you must sleep in order to wake up. You must die in order to live, you must melt down to shape anew. You must destroy to build, annihilate before creation. The Supreme is the universal solvent, it corrodes every container, it burns through every obstacle. Without the absolute denial of everything the tyranny of things would be absolute. The Supreme is the great harmoniser, the guarantee of the ultimate and perfect balance -- of life in freedom. It dissolves you and thus re-asserts your true being.
Q: It is all well on its own level. But how does it work in daily life?
M: The daily life is a life of action. Whether you like it or not, you must function. Whatever you do for your own sake accumulates and becomes explosive; one day it goes off and plays havoc with you and your world. When you deceive yourself that you work for the good of all, it makes matters worse, for you should not be guided by your own ideas of what is good for others. A man who claims to know what is good for others, is dangerous.
Q: How is one to work then?
M: Neither for yourself nor for others, but for the work's own sake. A thing worth doing is its own purpose and meaning, Make nothing a means to something else. Bind not. God does not create one thing to serve another. Each is made for its own sake. Because it is made for itself, it does not interfere. You are using things and people for purposes alien to them and you play havoc with the world and yourself.
Q: Our real being is all the time with us, you say. How is it that we do not notice it?
M: Yes, you are always the Supreme. But your attention is fixed on things, physical or mental. When your attention is off a thing and not yet fixed on another, in the interval you are pure being. When through the practice of discrimination and detachment (viveka-vairagya), you lose sight of sensory and mental states, pure being emerges as the natural state.
Q: How does one bring to an end this sense of separateness?
M: By focussing the mind on 'I am', on the sense of being, 'I am so-and-so' dissolves; "I am a witness only" remains and that too submerges in 'I am all'. Then the all becomes the One and the One -- yourself, not to be separate from me. Abandon the idea of a separate 'I' and the question of 'whose experience?' will not arise.
Q: You speak from your own experience. How can I make it mine?
M: You speak of my experience as different from your experience, because you believe we are separate. But we are not. On a deeper level my experience is your experience. Dive deep within yourself and you will find it easily and simply. Go in the direction of 'I am'.
25. Hold on to "I am"
Questioner: Are you ever glad or sad? Do you know joy and sorrow?
Maharaj: Call them as you please. To me they are states of mind only, and I am not the mind.
Q: Is love a state of mind?
M: Again, it depends what you mean by love. Desire is, of course, a state of mind. But the realisation of unity is beyond mind. To me, nothing exists by itself. All is the Self, all is myself. To see myself in everybody and everybody in myself most certainly is love.
Q: When I see something pleasant, I want it. Who exactly wants it? The self or the mind?
M: The question is wrongly put. There is no 'who'. There is desire, fear, anger, and the mind says -- this is me, this is mine. There is no thing which could be called 'me' or 'mine'. Desire is a state of the mind, perceived and named by the mind. Without the mind perceiving and naming, where is desire?
Q: But is there such a thing as perceiving without naming?
M: Of course. Naming cannot go beyond the mind, while perceiving is consciousness itself.
Q: When somebody dies what exactly happens?
M: Nothing happens. Something becomes nothing. Nothing was, nothing remains.
Q: Surely there is a difference between the living and the dead. You speak of the living as dead and of the dead as living.
M: Why do you fret at one man dying and care little for the millions dying every day? Entire universes are imploding and exploding every moment -- am I to cry over them? One thing is quite clear to me: all that is, lives and moves and has its being in consciousness and I am in and beyond that consciousness. I am in it as the witness. I am beyond it as Being.
Q: Surely, you care when your child is ill, don't you?
M: I don't get flustered. I just do the needful. I do not worry about the future. A right response to every situation is in my nature. I do not stop to think what to do. I act and move on. Results do not affect me. I do not even care, whether they are good or bad. Whatever they are, they are -- if they come back to me, I deal with them afresh. Or, rather, I happen to deal with them afresh. There is no sense of purpose in my doing anything. Things happens as they happen -- not because I make them happen, but it is because I am that they happen. In reality nothing ever happens. When the mind is restless, it makes Shiva dance, like the restless waters of the lake make the moon dance. It is all appearance, due to wrong ideas.
Q: Surely, you are aware of many things and behave according to their nature. You treat a child as a child and an adult as an adult.
M: Just as the taste of salt pervades the great ocean and every single drop of sea-water carries the same flavour, so every experience gives me the touch of reality, the ever fresh realisation of my own being.
Q: Do I exist in your world, as you exist in mine?
M: Of course, you are and I am. But only as points in consciousness; we are nothing apart from consciousness. This must be well grasped: the world hangs on the thread of consciousness; no consciousness, no world.
Q: There are many points in consciousness; are there as many worlds?
M: Take dream for an example. In a hospital there may be many patients, all sleeping, all dreaming, each dreaming his own private, personal dreams unrelated, unaffected, having one single factor in common -- illness. Similarly, we have divorced ourselves in our imagination from the real world of common experience and enclosed ourselves in a cloud of personal desire and fears, images and thoughts, ideas and concepts.
Q: This I can understand. But what could be the cause of the tremendous variety of the personal worlds?
M: The variety is not so great. All the dreams are superimposed over a common world. To some extent they shape and influence each other. The basic unity operates in spite of all. At the root of it all lies self-forgetfulness; not knowing who I am.
Q: To forget, one must know. Did I know who I am, before I forgot it?
M: Of course. Self-forgetting is inherent in self-knowing. Consciousness and unconsciousness are two aspects of one life. They co-exist. To know the world you forget the self -- to know the self you forget the world. What is world after all? A collection of memories. Cling to one thing, that matters, hold on to 'I am' and let go all else. This is sadhana. In realisation there is nothing to hold on to and nothing to forget. Everything is known, nothing is remembered.
Q: What is the cause of self-forgetting?
M: There is no cause, because there is no forgetting. Mental states succeed one another, and each obliterates the previous one. Self-remembering is a mental state and self-forgetting is another. They alternate like day and night. Reality is beyond both.
Q: Surely there must be a difference between forgetting and not knowing. Not knowing needs no cause. Forgetting presupposes previous knowledge and also the tendency or ability to forget. I admit I cannot enquire into the reason for not-knowing, but forgetting must have some ground.
M: There is no such thing as not-knowing. There is only forgetting. What is wrong with forgetting? It is as simple to forget as to remember.
Q: Is it not a calamity to forget oneself?
M: As bad as to remember oneself continuously. There is a state beyond forgetting and not-forgetting -- the natural state. To remember, to forget -- these are all states of mind, thoughtbound, word-bound. Take for example, the idea of being born. I am told I was born. I do not remember. I am told I shall die I do not expect it. You tell me I have forgotten, or I lack imagination. But I just cannot remember what never happened, nor expect the patently impossible. Bodies are born and bodies die, but what is it to me? Bodies come and go in consciousness and consciousness itself has its roots in me. I am life and mine are mind and body.
Q: You say at the root of the world is self-forgetfulness. To forget I must remember What did I forget to remember? I have not forgotten that I am.
M: This 'I am' too may be a part of the illusion.
Q. How can it be? You cannot prove to me that I am not. Even when convinced that I am not -- I am.
M: Reality can neither be proved nor disproved. Within the mind you cannot, beyond the mind you need not. In the real, the question 'what is real?' does not arise. The manifested (saguna) and unmanifested (nirguna) are not different.
Q: In that case all is real.
M: I am all. As myself all is real. Apart from me, nothing is real.
Q: I do not feel that the world is the result of a mistake.
M: You may say so only after a full investigation, not before. Of course, when you discern and let go all that is unreal, what remains is real.
Q: Does anything remain?
M: The real remains. But don't be mislead by words!
Q: Since immemorial time, during innumerable births, I build and improve and beautify my world. It is neither perfect, nor unreal. It is a process.
M: You are mistaken. The world has no existence apart from you. At every moment it is but a reflection of yourself. You create it, you destroy it.
Q: And build it again, improved.
M: To improve it, you must disprove it. One must die to live. There is no rebirth, except through death.
Q: Your universe may be perfect. My personal universe is improving.
M: Your personal universe does not exist by itself. It is merely a limited and distorted view of the real. It is not the universe that needs improving, but your way of looking.
Q: How do you view it?
M: It is a stage on which a world drama is being played. The quality of the performance is all that matters; not what the actors say and do, but how they say and do it.
Q: I do not like this lila (play) idea I would rather compare the world to a work-yard in which we are the builders.
M: You take it too seriously. What is wrong with play? You have a purpose only as long as you are not complete (purna); till then completeness, perfection, is the purpose. But when you are complete in yourself, fully integrated within and without, then you enjoy the universe; you do not labour at it. To the disintegrated you may seem working hard, but that is their illusion. Sportsmen seem to make tremendous efforts: yet their sole motive is to play and display.
Q: Do you mean to say that God is just having fun, that he is engaged in purposeless action?
M: God is not only true and good, he is also beautiful (satyam-shivam-sundaram). He creates beauty -- for the joy of It
Q: Well, then beauty is his purpose!
M: Why do you introduce purpose? Purpose implies movement, change, a sense of imperfection. God does not aim at beauty -- whatever he does is beautiful. Would you say that a flower is trying to be beautiful? It is beautiful by its very nature. Similarly God is perfection itself, not an effort at perfection.
Q: The purpose fulfils itself in beauty.
M: What is beautiful? Whatever is perceived blissfully is beautiful. Bliss is the essence of beauty.
Q: You speak of Sat-Chit-Ananda. That I am is obvious. That I know is obvious. That I am happy is not at all obvious. Where has my happiness gone?
M: Be fully aware of your own being and you will be in bliss consciously. Because you take your mind off yourself and make it dwell on what you are not, you lose your sense of well-being of being well.
Q: There are two paths before us -- the path of effort (yoga marga), and the path of ease (bhoga marga). Both lead to the same goal -- liberation.
M: Why do you call bhoga a path? How can ease bring you perfection?
Q: The perfect renouncer (yogi) will find reality. The perfect enjoyer (bhogi) also will come to it.
M: How can it be? Aren't they contradictory?
Q: The extremes meet. To be a perfect Bhogi is more difficult than to be a perfect Yogi. I am a humble man and cannot venture judgements of value. Both the Yogi and the Bhogi, after all, are concerned with the search for happiness. The Yogi wants it permanent, the Bhogi is satisfied with the intermittent. Often the Bhogi strives harder than the Yogi.
M: What is your happiness worth when you have to strive and labour for it? True happiness is spontaneous and effortless.
Q: All beings seek happiness. The means only differ. Some seek it within and are therefore called Yogis; some seek it without and are condemned as Bhogis. Yet they need each other.
M: Pleasure and pain alternate. Happiness is unshakable. What you can seek and find is not the real thing. Find what you have never lost, find the inalienable.
26. Personality, an Obstacle
Questioner: As I can see, the world is a school of Yoga and life itself is Yoga practice. Everybody strives for perfection and what is Yoga but striving. There is nothing contemptible about the so-called 'common' people and their 'common' lives. They strive as hard and suffer as much as the Yogi, only they are not conscious of their true purpose.
Maharaj: In what way are your common people -- Yogis?
Q: Their ultimate goal is the same. What the Yogi secures by renunciation (tyaga) the common man realises through experience (bhoga). The way of Bhoga is unconscious and, therefore, repetitive and protracted, while the way of Yoga is deliberate and intense and, therefore, can be more rapid.
M: Maybe the periods of Yoga and Bhoga alternate. First Bhogi, then Yogi, then again Bhogi, then again Yogi.
Q: What may be the purpose?
M: Weak desires can be removed by introspection and meditation, but strong, deep-rooted ones must be fulfilled and their fruits, sweet or bitter, tasted.
Q: Why then should we pay tribute to Yogis and speak slightingly of Bhogis? All are Yogis, in a way.
M: On the human scale of values deliberate effort is considered praiseworthy. In reality both the Yogi and Bhogi follow their own nature, according to circumstances and opportunities. The Yogi's life is governed by a single desire -- to find the Truth; the Bhogi serves many masters. But the Bhogi becomes a Yogi and the Yogi may get a rounding up in a bout of Bhoga. The final result is the same.
Q: Buddha is reported to have said that it is tremendously important to have heard that there is enlightenment, a complete reversal and transformation in consciousness. The good news is compared to a spark in a shipload of cotton; slowly but relentlessly the whole of it will turn to ashes. Similarly the good news of enlightenment will, sooner or later, bring about a transformation.
M: Yes, first hearing (shravana), then remembering (smarana), pondering (manana) and so on. We are on familiar ground. The man who heard the news becomes a Yogi; while the rest continue in their Bhoga.
Q: But you agree that living a life -- just living the humdrum life of the world, being born to die and dying to be born -- advances man by its sheer volume, just like the river finds its way to the sea by the sheer mass of the water it gathers.
M: Before the world was, consciousness was. In consciousness it comes into being, in consciousness it lasts and into pure consciousness it dissolves. At the root of everything, is the feeling 'I am'. The state of mind: 'there is a world' is secondary, for to be, I do not need the world, the world needs me.
Q: The desire to live is a tremendous thing.
M: Still greater is the freedom from the urge to live.
Q: The freedom of the stone?
M: Yes, the freedom of the stone, and much more besides. Freedom unlimited and conscious.
Q: Is not personality required for gathering experience?
M: As you are now, the personality is only an obstacle. Selfidentification with the body may be good for an infant, but true growing up depends on getting the body out of the way. Normally, one should outgrow body-based desires early in life. Even the Bhogi, who does not refuse enjoyments, need not hanker after the ones he has tasted. Habit, desire for repetition frustrates both the Yogi and the Bhogi.
Q: Why do you keep on dismissing the person (vyakti) as of no importance? Personality is the primary fact of our existence. It occupies the entire stage.
M: As long as you do not see that it is mere habit, built on memory, prompted by desire, you will think yourself to be a person -- living, feeling, thinking, active, passive, pleased or pained. Question yourself, ask yourself. 'Is it so?' 'Who am l'? 'What is behind and beyond all this?' And soon you will see your mistake. And it is in the very nature of a mistake to cease to be, when seen.
Q: The Yoga of living, of life itself, we may call the Natural Yoga (nisarga yoga). It reminds me of the Primal Yoga (adhi yoga), mentioned in the Rig-Veda which was described as the marrying of life with mind.
M: A life lived thoughtfully, in full awareness, is by itself Nisarga Yoga.
Q: What does the marriage of life and mind mean?
M: Living in spontaneous awareness, consciousness of effortless living, being fully interested in one's life -- all this is implied.
Q: Sharada Devi, wife of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, used to scold his disciples for too much effort. She compared them to mangoes on the tree which are being plucked before they are ripe. 'Why hurry?' she used to say. 'Wait till you are fully ripe, mellow and sweet.'
M: How right she was! There are so many who take the dawn for the noon, a momentary experience for full realisation and destroy even the little they gain by excess of pride. Humility and silence are essential for a sadhaka, however advanced. Only a fully ripened jnani can allow himself complete spontaneity.
Q: It seems there are schools of Yoga where the student, after illumination, is obliged to keep silent for 7 or 12 or 15 or even 25 years. Even Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi imposed on himself 20 years of silence before he began to teach.
M: Yes, the inner fruit must ripen. Until then the discipline, the living in awareness, must go on. Gradually the practice becomes more and more subtle, until it becomes altogether formless.
Q: Krishnamurti too speaks of living in awareness.
M: He always aims directly at the 'ultimate'. Yes, ultimately all Yogas end in your adhi yoga, the marriage of consciousness (the bride) to life (the bridegroom). Consciousness and being (sad-chit) meet in bliss (ananda). For bliss to arise there must be meeting, contact, the assertion of unity in duality.
Q: Buddha too has said that for the attainment of nirvana one must go to living beings. Consciousness needs life to grow.
M: The world itself is contact -- the totality of all contacts actualised in consciousness. The spirit touches matter and consciousness results. Such consciousness. when tainted with memory and expectation, becomes bondage. Pure experience does not bind; experience caught between desire and fear is impure and creates karma.
Q: Can there be happiness in unity? Does not all happiness imply necessarily contact, hence duality?
M: There is nothing wrong with duality as long as it does not create conflict. Multiplicity and variety without strife is joy. In pure consciousness there is light. For warmth, contact is needed. Above the unity of being is the union of love. Love is the meaning and purpose of duality.
Q: I am an adopted child. My own father I do not know. My mother died when I was born. My foster father, to please my foster mother, who was childless, adopted me -- almost by accident. He is a simple man -- a truck owner and driver. My mother keeps the house. I am 24 years now. For the last two and a half years I am travelling, restless, seeking. I want to live a good life, a holy life. What am I to do?
M: Go home, take charge of your father's business, look after your parents in their old age. Marry the girl who is waiting for you, be loyal, be simple, be humble. Hide your virtue, live silently. The five senses and the three qualities (gunas) are your eight steps in Yoga. And 'I am' is the Great Reminder (mahamantra). You can learn from them all you need to know. Be attentive, enquire ceaselessly. That is all.
Q: If just living one's life liberates, why are not all liberated?
M: All are being liberated. It is not what you live, but how you live that matters. The idea of enlightenment is of utmost importance. Just to know that there is such possibility, changes one's entire outlook. It acts like a burning match in a heap of saw dust. All the great teachers did nothing else. A spark of truth can burn up a mountain of lies. The opposite is also true; The sun of truth remains hidden behind the cloud of self-identification with the body.
Q: This spreading the good news of enlightenment seems very important.
M: The very hearing of it, is a promise of enlightenment. The very meeting a Guru is the assurance of liberation. Perfection is life-giving and creative.
Q: Does a realised man ever think: 'I am realised?' Is he not astonished when people make much of him? Does he not take himself to be an ordinary human being?
M: Neither ordinary, nor extra-ordinary. Just being aware and affectionate -- intensely. He looks at himself without indulging in self-definitions and self-identifications. He does not know himself as anything apart from the world. He is the world. He is completely rid of himself, like a man who is very rich, but continually gives away his riches. He is not rich, for he has nothing; he is not poor, for he gives abundantly. He is just propertyless. Similarly, the realised man is egoless; he has lost the capacity of identifying himself with anything. He is without location, placeless, beyond space and time, beyond the world. Beyond words and thoughts is he.
Q: Well, it is deep mystery to me. I am a simple man.
M: It is you who are deeply complex, mysterious, hard to understand. I am simplicity itself, compared to you: I am what is -- without any distinction whatsoever into inner and outer, mine and yours, good and bad. What the world is, I am; what I am the world is.
Q: How does it happen that each man creates his own world?
M: When a number of people are asleep, each dreams his own dream. Only on awakening the question of many different dreams arises and dissolves when they are all seen as dreams, as something imagined.
Q: Even dreams have a foundation.
M: In memory. Even then, what is remembered, is but another dream. The memory of the false cannot but give rise to the false. There is nothing wrong with memory as such. What is false is its content. Remember facts, forget opinions.
Q: What is a fact?
M: What is perceived in pure awareness, unaffected by desire.
27. The Beginningless Begins Forever
Questioner: The other day I was asking you about the two ways of growth -- renunciation and enjoyment (yoga and bhoga). The difference is not so great as it looks -- the Yogi renounces to enjoy; the Bhogi enjoys to renounce. The Yogi renounces first.
Maharaj: So what? Leave the Yogi to his Yoga and the Bhogi to Bhoga.
Q: The way of Bhoga seems to me the better one. The Yogi is like a green mango, separated from the tree prematurely and kept to open in a basket of straw. Airless and overheated, it does get ripe, but the true flavour and fragrance are lost. The mango left on the tree grows to full size, colour and sweetness. A joy in every way. Yet somehow Yoga gets all the praises, and Bhoga -- all the curses. As I see it, Bhoga is the better of the two.
M: What makes you say so?
Q: I watched the Yogis and their enormous efforts. Even when they realise, there is something bitter or astringent about it. They seem to spend much of their time in trances and when they speak, they merely voice their scriptures. At their best such jnanis are like flowers -- perfect, but just little flowers, shedding their fragrance within a short radius. There are some others, who are like forests -- rich, varied, immense, full of surprises, a world in themselves. There must be a reason for this difference.
M: Well, you said it. According to you one got stunted in his Yoga, while the other flourished in Bhoga.
Q: Is it not so? The Yogi is afraid of life and seeks peace, while the Bhogi is adventurous, full of spirits, forward going. The Yogi is bound by an ideal, while the Bhogi is ever ready to explore.
M: It is a matter of wanting much or being satisfied with little. The Yogi is ambitious while the Bhogi is merely adventurous. Your Bhogi seems to be richer and more interesting, but it is not so in reality. The Yogi is narrow as the sharp edge of the knife. He has to be -- to cut deep and smoothly, to penetrate unerringly the many layers of the false. The Bhogi worships at many altars; the Yogi serves none but his own true Self.
There is no purpose in opposing the Yogi to the Bhogi. The way of outgoing (pravritti) necessarily precedes the way of returning (nivritti). To sit in judgement and allot marks is ridiculous. Everything contributes to the ultimate perfection. Some say there are three aspects of reality -- Truth-Wisdom-Bliss; He who seeks Truth becomes a Yogi, he who seeks wisdom becomes a jnani; he who seeks happiness becomes the man of action.
Q: We are told of the bliss of non-duality.
M: Such bliss is more of the nature of a great peace. Pleasure and pain are the fruits of actions -- righteous and unrighteous.
Q: What makes the difference?
M: The difference is between giving and grasping. Whatever the way of approach, in the end all becomes one.
Q: If there be no difference in the goal, why discriminate between various approaches?
M: Let each act according to his nature. The ultimate purpose will be served in any case. All your discriminations and classifications are quite all right, but they do not exist in my case. As the description of a dream may be detailed and accurate, though without having any foundation, so does your pattern fit nothing but your own assumptions. You begin with an idea and you end with the same idea under a different garb.
Q: How do you see things?
M: One and all are the same to me. The same consciousness (chit) appears as being (sat) and as bliss (ananda): Chit in movement is Ananda; Chit motionless is being.
Q: Still you are making a distinction between motion and motionlessness.
M: Non-distinction speaks in silence. Words carry distinctions. The unmanifested (nirguna) has no name, all names refer to the manifested (saguna). It is useless to struggle with words to express what is beyond words. Consciousness (chidananda) is spirit (purusha), consciousness is matter (prakriti). Imperfect spirit is matter, perfect matter is spirit. In the beginning as in the end, all is one.
All division is in the mind (chitta); there is none in reality (chit). Movement and rest are states of mind and cannot be without their opposites. By itself nothing moves, nothing rests. It is a grievous mistake to attribute to mental constructs absolute existence. Nothing exists by itself.
Q: You seem to identify rest with the Supreme State?
M: There is rest as a state of mind (chidaram) and there is rest as a state of being (atmaram). The former comes and goes, while the true rest is the very heart of action. Unfortunately, language is a mental tool and works only in opposites.
Q: As a witness, you are working or at rest?
M: Witnessing is an experience and rest is freedom from experience.
Q: Can't they co-exist, as the tumult of the waves and the quiet of the deep co-exist in the ocean.
M: Beyond the mind there is no such thing as experience. Experience is a dual state. You cannot talk of reality as an experience. Once this is understood, you will no longer look for being and becoming as separate and opposite. In reality they are one and inseparable, like roots and branches of the same tree. Both can exist only in the light of consciousness, which again, arises in the wake of the sense 'I am'. This is the primary fact. If you miss it, you miss all.
Q: Is the sense of being a product of experience only? The great saying (Mahavakya) tat-sat is it a mere mode of mentation?
M: Whatever is spoken is speech only. Whatever is thought is thought only. The real meaning is unexplainable, though experienceable. The Mahavakya is true, but your ideas are false, for all ideas (kalpana) are false.
Q: Is the conviction: 'I am That' false?
M: Of course. Conviction is a mental state. In 'That' there is no 'I am'. With the sense 'I am' emerging, 'That' is obscured, as with the sun rising the stars are wiped out. But as with the sun comes light, so with the sense of self comes bliss (chidananda). The cause of bliss is sought in the 'not--I' and thus the bondage begins.
Q: In your daily life are you always conscious of your real state?
M: Neither conscious, nor unconscious. I do not need convictions. I live on courage. Courage is my essence, which is love of life. I am free of memories and anticipations, unconcerned with what I am and what I am not. I am not addicted to selfdescriptions, soham and brahmasmi ('I am He', 'I am the Supreme') are of no use to me, I have the courage to be as nothing and to see the world as it is: nothing. It sounds simple, just try it!
Q: But what gives you courage?
M: How perverted are your views! Need courage be given? Your question implies that anxiety is the normal state and courage is abnormal. It is the other way round. Anxiety and hope are born of imagination -- I am free of both. I am simple being and I need nothing to rest on.
Q: Unless you know yourself, of what use is your being to you? To be happy with what you are, you must know what you are.
M: Being shines as knowing, knowing is warm in love. It is all one. You imagine separations and trouble yourself with questions. Don't concern yourself overmuch with formulations. Pure being cannot be described.
Q: Unless a thing is knowable and enjoyable, it is of no use to me. It must become a part of my experience, first of all.
M: You are dragging down reality to the level of experience. How can reality depend on experience, when it is the very ground (adhar) of experience. Reality is in the very fact of experience, not in its nature. Experience is, after all, a state of mind, while being is definitely not a state of mind.
Q: Again I am confused! Is being separate from knowing?
M: The separation is an appearance. Just as the dream is not apart from the dreamer, so is knowing not apart from being. The dream is the dreamer, the knowledge is the knower, the distinction is merely verbal.
Q: I can see now that sat and chit are one. But what about bliss (ananda)? Being and consciousness are always present together, but bliss flashes only occasionally.
M: The undisturbed state of being is bliss; the disturbed state is what appears as the world. In non-duality there is bliss; in duality -- experience. What comes and goes is experience with its duality of pain and pleasure. Bliss is not to be known. One is always bliss, but never blissful. Bliss is not an attribute.
Q: I have another question to ask: Some Yogis attain their goal, but it is of no use to others. They do not know, or are not able to share. Those who can share out what they have, initiate others. Where lies the difference?
M: There is no difference. Your approach is wrong. There are no others to help. A rich man, when he hands over his entire fortune to his family, has not a coin left to give a beggar. So is the wise man (jnani) stripped of all his powers and possessions. Nothing, literally nothing, can be said about him. He cannot help anybody for he is everybody. He is the poor and also his poverty, the thief and also his thievery. How can he be said to help, when he is not apart? Who thinks of himself as separate from the world, let him help the world.
Q: Still, there is duality, there is sorrow, there is need of help. By denouncing it as mere dream nothing is achieved.
M: The only thing that can help is to wake up from the dream.
Q: An awakener is needed.
M: Who again is in the dream. The awakener signifies the beginning of the end. There are no eternal dreams.
Q: Even when it is beginningless?
M: Everything begins with you. What else is beginningless?
Q: I began at birth.
M: That is what you are told. Is it so? Did you see yourself beginning?
Q: I began just now. All else is memory.
M: Quite right. The beginningless begins forever. In the same way, I give eternally, because I have nothing. To be nothing, to have nothing, to keep nothing for oneself is the greatest gift, the highest generosity.
Q: Is there no self-concern left?
M: Of course I am self-concerned, but the self is all. In practice it takes the shape of goodwill, unfailing and universal. You may call it love, all-pervading, all-redeeming. Such love is supremely active -- without the sense of doing.
28. All Suffering is Born of Desire
Questioner: I come from a far off country. I had some inner experiences on my own and I would like to compare notes. Maharaj: By all means. Do you know yourself?
Q: I know that I am not the body. Nor am I the mind.
M: What makes you say so?
Q: I do not feel I am in the body. I seem to be all over the place everywhere. As to the mind, I can switch it on and off, so to say. This makes me feel I am not the mind.
M: When you feel yourself everywhere in the world, do you remain separate from the world? Or, are you the world?
Q: Both. Sometimes I feel myself to be neither mind nor body, but one single all-seeing eye. When I go deeper into it, I find myself to be all I see and the world and myself become one.
M: Very well. What about desires? Do you have any?
Q: Yes, they come, short and superficial.
M: And what do you do about them?
Q: What can I do? They come, they go. l look at them. Sometimes I see my body and my mind engaged in fulfilling them.
M: Whose desires are being fulfilled?
Q: They are a part of the world in which I live. They are just as trees and clouds are there.
M: Are they not a sign of some imperfection?
Q: Why should they be? They are as they are, and I am as I am. How can the appearance and disappearance of desires affect me? Of course, they affect the shape and content of the mind.
M: Very well. What is your work?
Q: I am a probation officer.
M: What does it mean?
Q: Juvenile offenders are let off on probation and there are special officers to watch their behaviour and to help them get training and find work.
M: Must you work?
Q: Who works? Work happens to take place.
M: Do you need to work?
Q: I need it for the sake of money. I like it, because it puts me in touch with living beings.
M: What do you need them for?
Q: They may need me and it is their destinies that made me take up this work. It is one life, after all.
M: How did you come to your present state?
Q: Sri Ramana Maharshi's teachings have put me on my way. Then I met one Douglas Harding who helped me by showing me how to work on the 'Who am I ?'
M: Was it sudden or gradual?
Q: It was quite sudden. Like something quite forgotten, coming back into one's mind. Or, like a sudden flash of understanding. 'How simple', I said, 'How simple; I'm not what I thought I am! I'm neither the perceived nor the perceiver; I'm the perceiving only'.
M: Not even the perceiving, but that which makes all this possible.
Q: What is love?
M: When the sense of distinction and separation is absent, you may call it love.
Q: Why so much stress on love between man and woman?
M: Because the element of happiness in it is so prominent.
Q: Is it not so in all love?
M: Not necessarily. Love may cause pain. You call it then compassion.
Q: What is happiness?
M: Harmony between the inner and the outer is happiness. On the other hand, self-identification with the outer causes is suffering.
Q. How does self-identification happen?
M: The self by its nature knows itself only. For lack of experience whatever it perceives it takes to be itself. Battered, it learns to look out (viveka) and to live alone (vairagya). When right behaviour (uparati), becomes normal, a powerful inner urge (mukmukshutva) makes it seek its source. The candle of the body is lighted and all becomes clear and bright.
Q: What is the real cause of suffering?
M: Self-identification with the limited (vyaktitva). Sensations as such, however strong, do not cause suffering. It is the mind bewildered by wrong ideas, addicted to thinking: 'I am this' 'I am that', that fears loss and craves gain and suffers when frustrated.
Q: A friend of mine used to have horrible dreams night after night. Going to sleep would terrorise him. Nothing could help him.
M: Company of the truly good (satsang) would help him.
Q: Life itself is a nightmare.
M: Noble friendship (satsang) is the supreme remedy for all ills, physical and mental.
Q: Generally one cannot find such friendship.
M: Seek within. Your own self is your best friend.
Q: Why is life so full of contradictions?
M: It serves to break down mental pride. We must realise how poor and powerless we are. As long as we delude ourselves by what we imagine ourselves to be, to know, to have, to do, we are in a sad plight indeed. Only in complete self-negation there is a chance to discover our real being.
Q: Why so much stress on self-negation?
M: As much as on self-realisation. The false self must be abandoned before the real self can be found.
Q: The self you choose to call false is to me most distressingly real. It is the only self I know. What you call the real self is a mere concept, a way of speaking, a creature of the mind, an attractive ghost. My daily self is not a beauty, I admit, but it is my own and only self. You say I am, or have, another self. Do you see it -- is it a reality to you, or do you want me to believe what you yourself don't see?
M: Don't jump to conclusions rashly. The concrete need not be the real, the conceived need not be false. Perceptions based on sensations and shaped by memory imply a perceiver, whose nature you never cared to examine. Give it your full attention, examine it with loving care and you will discover heights and depths of being which you did not dream of, engrossed as you are in your puny image of yourself.
Q: I must be in the right mood to examine myself fruitfully.
M: You must be serious, intent, truly interested. You must be full of goodwill for yourself.
Q: I am selfish all right.
M. You are not. You are all the time destroying yourself, and your own, by serving strange gods, inimical and false. By all means be selfish -- the right way. Wish yourself well, labour at what is good for you. Destroy all that stands between you and happiness. Be all -- love all -- be happy -- make happy. No happiness is greater.
Q: Why is there so much suffering in love?
M: All suffering is born of desire. True love is never frustrated. How can the sense of unity be frustrated? What can be frustrated is the desire for expression. Such desire is of the mind. As with all things mental, frustration is inevitable.
Q: What is the place of sex in love?
M: Love is a state of being. Sex is energy. Love is wise, sex is blind. Once the true nature of love and sex is understood there will be no conflict or confusion.
Q: There is so much sex without love.
M: Without love all is evil. Life itself without love is evil.
Q: What can make me love?
M: You are love itself -- when you are not afraid.
29. Living is Life"s only Purpose
Questioner: What does it mean to fail in Yoga? Who is a failure in Yoga (yoga bhrashta)?
Maharaj: It is only a question of incompletion. He who could not complete his Yoga for some reason is called failed in Yoga. Such failure is only temporary, for there can be no defeat in Yoga. This battle is always won, for it is a battle between the true and the false. The false has no chance.
Q: Who fails? The person (vyakti) or the self (vyakta)?
M: The question is wrongly put. There is no question of failure, neither in the short run nor in the long. It is like travelling a long and arduous road in an unknown country. Of all the innumerable steps there is only the last which brings you to your destination. Yet you will not consider all previous steps as failures. Each brought you nearer to your goal, even when you had to turn back to by-pass an obstacle. In reality each step brings you to your goal, because to be always on the move, learning, discovering, unfolding, is your eternal destiny. Living is life's only purpose. The self does not identify itself with success or failure -- the very idea of becoming this or that is unthinkable. The self understands that success and failure are relative and related, that they are the very warp and weft of life. Learn from both and go beyond. If you have not learnt, repeat.
Q: What am I to learn?
M: To live without self-concern. For this you must know your own true being (swarupa) as indomitable, fearless, ever victorious. Once you know with absolute certainty that nothing can trouble you but your own imagination, you come to disregard your desires and fears, concepts and ideas and live by truth alone.
Q: What may be the reason that some people succeed and others fail in Yoga? Is it destiny or character, or just accident?
M: Nobody ever fails in Yoga. It is all a matter of the rate of progress. It is slow in the beginning and rapid in the end. When one is fully matured, realisation is explosive. It takes place spontaneously, or at the slightest hint. The quick is not better than the slow. Slow ripening and rapid flowering alternate. Both are natural and right.
Yet, all this is so in the mind only. As I see it, there is really nothing of the kind. In the great mirror of consciousness images arise and disappear and only memory gives them continuity. And memory is material -- destructible, perishable, transient. On such flimsy foundations we build a sense of personal existence -- vague, intermittent, dreamlike. This vague persuasion: 'I-am-so-and-so' obscures the changeless state of pure awareness and makes us believe that we are born to suffer and to die.
Q: Just as a child cannot help growing, so does a man, compelled by nature, make progress. Why exert oneself? Where is the need of Yoga?
M: There is progress all the time. Everything contributes to progress. But this is the progress of ignorance. The circles of ignorance may be ever widening, yet it remains a bondage all the same. In due course a Guru appears to teach and inspire us to practise Yoga and a ripening takes place as a result of which the immemorial night of ignorance dissolves before the rising sun of wisdom. But in reality nothing happened. The sun is always there, there is no night to it; the mind blinded by the 'I am the body' idea spins out endlessly its thread of illusion.
Q: If all is a part of a natural process, where is the need of effort?
M: Even effort is a part of it. When ignorance becomes obstinate and hard and the character gets perverted, effort and the pain of it become inevitable. In complete obedience to nature there is no effort. The seed of spiritual life grows in silence and in darkness until its appointed hour.
Q: We come across some great people, who, in their old age, become childish, petty, quarrelsome and spiteful. How could they deteriorate so much?
M: They were not perfect Yogis, having their bodies under complete control. Or, they might not have cared to protect their bodies from the natural decay. One must not draw conclusions without understanding all the factors. Above all, one must not make judgements of inferiority or superiority. Youthfulness is more a matter of vitality (prana) than of wisdom (jnana) .
Q: One may get old, but why should one lose all alertness and discrimination?
M: Consciousness and unconsciousness, while in the body depend on the condition of the brain. But the self is beyond both, beyond the brain, beyond the mind. The fault of the instrument is no reflection on its user.
Q: I was told that a realised man will never do anything unseemly. He will always behave in an exemplary way.
M: Who sets the example? Why should a liberated man necessarily follow conventions? The moment he becomes predictable, he cannot be free. His freedom lies in his being free to fulfil the need of the moment, to obey the necessity of the situation. Freedom to do what one likes is really bondage, while being free to do what one must, what is right, is real freedom.
Q: Still there must be some way of making out who has realised and who has not. If one is indistinguishable from the other, of what use is he?
M: He who knows himself has no doubts about it. Nor does he care whether others recognise his state or not. Rare is the realised man who discloses his realisation and fortunate are those who have met him, for he does it for their abiding welfare.
Q: When one looks round, one is appalled by the volume of unnecessary suffering that is going on. People who should be helped are not getting help. Imagine a big hospital ward full of incurables, tossing and moaning. Were you given the authority to kill them all and end their torture, would you not do so?
M: I would leave it to them to decide.
Q: But if their destiny is to suffer? How can you interfere with destiny?
M: Their destiny is what happens. There is no thwarting of destiny. You mean to say everybody's life is totally determined at his birth? What a strange idea! Were it so, the power that determines would see to it that nobody should suffer.
Q: What about cause and effect?
M: Each moment contains the whole of the past and creates the whole of the future.
Q: But past and future exist?
M: In the mind only. Time is in the mind, space is in the mind. The law of cause and effect is also a way of thinking. In reality all is here and now and all is one. Multiplicity and diversity are in the mind only.
Q: Still, you are in favour of relieving suffering, even through destruction of the incurably diseased body.
M: Again, you look from outside while I look from within. I do not see a sufferer, I am the sufferer. I know him from within and do what is right spontaneously and effortlessly. I follow no rules nor lay down rules. I flow with life -- faithfully and irresistibly.
Q: Still you seem to be a very practical man in full control of your immediate surroundings.
M: What else do you expect me to be? A misfit?
Q: Yet you cannot help another much.
M: Surely, I can help. You too can help. Everybody can help. But the suffering is all the time recreated. Man alone can destroy in himself the roots of pain. Others can only help with the pain, but not with its cause, which is the abysmal stupidity of mankind.
Q: Will this stupidity ever come to an end?
M: In man -- of course. Any moment. In humanity -- as we know it -- after very many years. In creation -- never, for creation itself is rooted in ignorance; matter itself is ignorance. Not to know, and not to know that one does not know, is the cause of endless suffering.
Q: We are told of the great avatars, the saviours of the world.
M: Did they save? They have come and gone -- and the world plods on. Of course, they did a lot and opened new dimensions in the human mind. But to talk of saving the world is an exaggeration.
Q: Is there no salvation for the world?
M: Which world do you want to save? The world of your own projection? Save it yourself. My world? Show me my world and I shall deal with it. I am not aware of any world separate from myself, which I am free to save or not to save. What business have you with saving the world, when all the world needs is to be saved from you? Get out of the picture and see whether there is anything left to save.
Q: You seem to stress the point that without you your world would not have existed and therefore the only thing you can do for it is to wind up the show. This is not a way out. Even if the world were of my own creation, this knowledge does not save it. It only explains it. The question remains: why did I create such a wretched world and what can I do to change it? You seem to say: forget it all and admire your own glory. Surely, you don't mean it. The description of a disease and its causes does not cure it. What we need is the right medicine.
M: The description and causation are the remedy for a disease caused by obtuseness and stupidity. Just like a deficiency disease is cured through the supply of the missing factor, so are the diseases of living cured by a good dose of intelligent detachment. (viveka-vairagya).
Q: You cannot save the world by preaching counsels of perfection. People are as they are. Must they suffer?
M: As long as they are as they are, there is no escape from suffering. Remove the sense of separateness and there will be no conflict.
Q: A message in print may be paper and ink only. It is the text that matters. By analysing the world into elements and qualities we miss the most important -- its meaning. Your reduction of everything to dream disregards the difference between the dream of an insect and the dream of a poet. All is dream, granted. But not all are equal.
M: The dreams are not equal, but the dreamer is one. I am the insect. I am the poet -- in dream. But in reality I am neither. I am beyond all dreams. I am the light in which all dreams appear and disappear. I am both inside and outside the dream. Just as a man having headache knows the ache and also knows that he is not the ache, so do I know the dream, myself dreaming and myself not dreaming -- all at the same time. I am what I am before, during and after the dream. But what I see in dream, l am not.
Q: It is all a matter of imagination. One imagines that one is dreaming, another imagines one is not dreaming. Are not both the same?
M: The same and not the same. Not dreaming, as an interval between two dreams, is of course, a Part of dreaming. Not dreaming as a steady hold on, and timeless abidance in reality has nothing to do with dreaming. In that sense I never dream, nor ever shall.
Q: If both dream and escape from dream are imaginings, what is the way out?
M: There is no need of a way out! Don't you see that a way out is also a part of the dream? All you have to do is to see the dream as dream.
Q: If I start the practice of dismissing everything as a dream where will it lead me?
M: Wherever it leads you, it will be a dream. The very idea of going beyond the dream is illusory. Why go anywhere? Just realise that you are dreaming a dream you call the world, and stop looking for ways out. The dream is not your problem. Your problem is that you like one part of your dream and not another. Love all, or none of it, and stop complaining. When you have seen the dream as a dream, you have done all that needs be done.
Q: Is dreaming caused by thinking?
M: Everything is a play of ideas. In the state free from ideation (nirvikalpa samadhi) nothing is perceived. The root idea is: 'I am'. It shatters the state of pure consciousness and is followed by the innumerable sensations and perceptions, feeling and ideas which in their totality constitute God and His world. The 'I am' remains as the witness, but it is by the will of God that everything happens.
Q: Why not by my will?
M: Again you have split yourself -- into God and witness. Both are one.
30. You are Free NOW
Questioner: There are so many theories about the nature of man and universe. The creation theory, the illusion theory, the dream theory -- any number of them. Which is true?
Maharaj: All are true, all are false. You can pick up whichever you like best.
Q: You seem to favour the dream theory.
M: These are all ways of putting words together. Some favour one way, some favour another. Theories are neither right nor wrong. They are attempts at explaining the inexplicable. It is not the theory that matters, but the way it is being tested. It is the testing of the theory that makes it fruitful. Experiment with any theory you like -- if you are truly earnest and honest, the attainment of reality will be yours. As a living being you are caught in an untenable and painful situation and you are seeking a way out. You are being offered several plans of your prison, none quite true. But they all are of some value, only if you are in dead earnest. It is the earnestness that liberates and not the theory.
Q: Theory may be misleading and earnestness -- blind.
M: Your sincerity will guide you. Devotion to the goal of freedom and perfection will make you abandon all theories and systems and live by wisdom, intelligence and active love. Theories may be good as starting points, but must be abandoned, the sooner -- the better.
Q: There is a Yogi who says that for realisation the eightfold Yoga is not necessary; that will-power alone will do. It is enough to concentrate on the goal with full confidence in the power of pure will to obtain effortlessly and quickly what others take decades to achieve.
M: Concentration, full confidence, pure will! With such assets no wonder one attains in no time. This Yoga of will is all right for the mature seeker, who has shed all desires but one. After all, what is will but steadiness of heart and mind. Given such steadfastness all can be achieved.
Q: I feel the Yogi did not mean mere steadiness of purpose, resulting in ceaseless pursuit and application. He meant that with will fixed on the goal no pursuit or application are needed. The mere fact of willing attracts its object.
M: Whatever name you give it: will, or steady purpose, or onepointedness of the mind, you come back to earnestness, sincerity, honesty. When you are in dead earnest, you bend every incident, every second of your life to your purpose. You do not waste time and energy on other things. You are totally dedicated, call it will, or love, or plain honesty. We are complex beings, at war within and without. We contradict ourselves all the time, undoing today the work of yesterday. No wonder we are stuck. A little of integrity would make a lot of difference.
Q: What is more powerful, desire or destiny?
M: Desire shapes destiny.
Q: And destiny shapes desire. My desires are conditioned by heredity and circumstances, by opportunities and accidents, by what we call destiny.
M: Yes, you may say so.
Q: At what point am I free to desire what I want to desire?
M: You are free now. What is it that you want to desire? Desire it.
Q: Of course I am free to desire, but I am not free to act on my desire. Other urges will lead me astray. My desire is not strong enough, even if it has my approval. Other desires, which I disapprove of are stronger.
M: Maybe you are deceiving yourself. Maybe you are giving expression to your real desires and the ones you approve of are kept on the surface for the sake of respectability.
Q: It may be as you say, but this is another theory. The fact is that I do not feel free to desire what I think I should, and when I seem to desire rightly, I do not act accordingly.
M: It is all due to weakness of the mind and disintegration of the brain. Collect and strengthen your mind and you will find that your thoughts and feelings, words and actions will align themselves in the direction of your will.
Q: Again a counsel of perfection! To integrate and strengthen the mind is not an easy task! How does one begin?
M: You can start only from where you are. You are here and now, you cannot get out of here and now.
Q: But what can I do here and now?
M: You can be aware of your being -- here and now.
Q: That is all?
M: That is all. There is nothing more to it.
Q: All my waking and dreaming I am conscious of myself. It does not help me much.
M: You were aware of thinking, feeling, doing. You were not aware of your being.
Q: What is the new factor you want me to bring in?
M: The attitude of pure witnessing, of watching the events without taking part in them.
Q: What will it do to me?
M: Weak-mindedness is due to lack of intelligence, of understanding, which again is the result of non-awareness. By striving for awareness you bring your mind together and strengthen it.
Q: I may be fully aware of what is going on, and yet quite unable to influence it in any way.
M: You are mistaken. What is going on is a projection of your mind. A weak mind cannot control its own projections. Be aware, therefore, of your mind and its projections. You cannot control what you do not know. On the other hand, knowledge gives power. In practice it is very simple. To control yourself -- know yourself.
Q: Maybe, I can come to control myself, but shall I be able to deal with the chaos in the world?
M: There is no chaos in the world, except the chaos which your mind creates. It is self-created in the sense that at its very centre is the false idea of oneself as a thing different and separate from other things. In reality you are not a thing, nor separate. You are the infinite potentiality; the inexhaustible possibility. Because you are, all can be. The universe is but a partial manifestation of your limitless capacity to become.
Q: I find that I am totally motivated by desire for pleasure and fear of pain. However noble my desire and justified my fear, pleasure and pain are the two poles between which my life oscillates.
M: Go to the source of both pain and pleasure, of desire and fear. Observe, investigate, try to understand.
Q: Desire and fear both are feelings caused by physical or mental factors. They are there, easily observable. But why are they there? Why do l desire pleasure and fear pain?
M: Pleasure and pain are states of mind. As long as you think you are the mind, or rather, the body-mind, you are bound to raise such questions.
Q: And when I realise that I am not the body, shall I be free from desire and fear?
M: As long as there is a body and a mind to protect the body, attractions and repulsions will operate. They will be there, out in the field of events, but will not concern you. The focus of your attention will be elsewhere. You will not be distracted.
Q: Still they will be there. Will one never be completely free?
M: You are completely free even now. What you call destiny (karma) is but the result of your own will to live. How strong is this will you can judge by the universal horror of death.
Q: People die willingly quite often.
M: Only when the alternative is worse than death. But such readiness to die flows from the same source as the will to live, a source deeper even than life itself. To be a living being is not the ultimate state; there is something beyond, much more wonderful, which is neither being nor non-being, neither living nor notliving. It is a state of pure awareness, beyond the limitations of space and time. Once the illusion that the body-mind is oneself is abandoned, death loses its terror, it becomes a part of living.