By Nisargadatta Maharaj
61. Matter is Consciousness Itself
I was lucky to have holy company all my life. Is it enough for self-realisation?
Maharaj: It depends what you make of it.
Q: I was told that the liberating action of satsang is automatic. Just like a river carries one to the estuary, so the subtle and silent influence of good people will take me to reality.
M: It will take you to the river, but the crossing is your own. Freedom cannot be gained nor kept without will-to-freedom. You must strive for liberation; the least you can do is uncover and remove the obstacles diligently. If you want peace you must strive for it. You will not get peace just by keeping quiet.
Q: A child just grows. He does not make plans for growth, nor has he a pattern; nor does he grow by fragments, a hand here a leg there; he grows integrally and unconsciously.
M: Because he is free of imagination. You can also grow like this, but you must not indulge in forecasts and plans, born of memory and anticipation. It is one of the peculiarities of a jnani that he is not concerned with the future. Your concern with future is due to fear of pain and desire for pleasure, to the jnani all is bliss: he is happy with whatever comes.
Q: Surely, there are many things that would make even a jnani miserable
M: A jnani may meet with difficulties, but they do not make him suffer. Bringing up a child from birth to maturity may seem a hard task, but to a mother the memories of hardships are a joy. There is nothing wrong with the world. What is wrong is in the way you look at it. It is your own imagination that misleads you. Without imagination there is no world. Your conviction that you are conscious of a world is the world. The world you perceive is made of consciousness; what you call matter is consciousness Itself. You are the space (akash) in which it moves, the time in which it lasts, the love that gives it life. Cut off imagination and attachment and what remains?
Q: The world remains. I remain.
M: Yes. But how different it is when you can see it as it is, not through the screen of desire and fear.
Q: What for are all these distinctions -- reality and illusion, wisdom and ignorance, saint and sinner? Everyone is in search of happiness, everyone strives desperately; everyone is a Yogi and his life a school of wisdom. Each learns his own way the lessons he needs. Society approves of some, disapproves of others; there are no rules that apply everywhere and for all time.
M: In my world love is the only law. I do not ask for love, I give it. Such is my nature.
Q: I see you living your life according to a pattern. You run a meditation class in the morning, lecture and have discussions regularly; twice daily there is worship (puja) and religious singing (bhajan) in the evening. You seem to adhere to the routine scrupulously.
M: The worship and the singing are as I found them and I saw no reason to interfere. The general routine is according to the wishes of the people with whom I happen to live or who come to listen. They are working people, with many obligations and the timings are for their convenience. Some repetitive routine is inevitable. Even animals and plants have their time-tables.
Q: Yes, we see a regular sequence in all life. Who maintains the order? Is there an inner ruler, who lays down laws and enforces order?
M: Everything moves according to its nature. Where is the need of a policeman? Every action creates a reaction, which balances and neutralises the action. Everything happens, but there is a continuous cancelling out, and in the end it is as if nothing happened.
Q: Do not console me with final harmonies. The accounts tally, but the loss is mine.
M: Wait and see. You may end up with a profit good enough to justify the outlays.
Q: There is a long life behind me and I often wonder whether its many events took place by accident, or there was a plan. Was there a pattern laid down before I was born by which I had to live my life? If yes, who made the plans and who enforced them? Could there be deviations and mistakes? Some say destiny is immutable and every second of life is predetermined; others say that pure accident decides everything.
M: You can have it as you like. You can distinguish in your life a pattern or see merely a chain of accidents. Explanations are meant to please the mind. They need not be true. Reality is indefinable and indescribable.
Q: Sir, you are escaping my question! I want to know how you look at it. Wherever we look we find structure of unbelievable intelligence and beauty. How can I believe that the universe is formless and chaotic? Your world, the world in which you live, may be formless, but it need not be chaotic.
M: The objective universe has structure, is orderly and beautiful. Nobody can deny it. But structure and pattern, imply constraint and compulsion. My world is absolutely free; everything in it is self-determined. Therefore I keep on saying that all happens by itself. There is order in my world too, but it is not Imposed from outside. It comes spontaneously and immediately, because of its timelessness. Perfection is not in the future. It is now.
Q: Does your world affect mine?
M: At one point only -- at the point of the now. It gives it momentary being, a fleeting sense of reality. In full awareness the contact is established. It needs effortless, un-self-conscious attention.
Q: Is not attention an attitude of mind?
M: Yes, when the mind is eager for reality, it gives attention. There is nothing wrong with your world, it is your thinking yourself to be separate from it that creates disorder. Selfishness is the source of all evil.
Q: I am coming back to my question. Before I was born, did my inner self decide the details of my life, or was it entirely accidental and at the mercy of heredity and circumstances?
M: Those who claim to have selected their father and mother and decided how they are going to live their next life may know for themselves. I know for myself. I was never born.
Q: I see you sitting in front of me and replying my questions.
M: You see the body only which, of course, was born and will die.
Q: It is the life-story of thus body-mind that I am interested in. Was it laid down by you or somebody else, or did it happen accidentally?
M: There is a catch in your very question. I make no distinction between the body and the universe. Each is the cause of the other; each is the other, in truth. But I am out of it all. When I am telling you that I was never born, why go on asking me what were my preparations for the next birth? The moment you allow your imagination to spin, it at once spins out a universe. It is not at all as you imagine and I am not bound by your imaginings.
Q: It requires intelligence and energy to build and maintain a living body. Where do they come from?
M: There is only imagination. The intelligence and power are all used up in your imagination. It has absorbed you so completely that you just cannot grasp how far from reality you have wandered. No doubt imagination is richly creative. Universe within universe are built on it. Yet they are all in space and time, past and future, which just do not exist.
Q: I have read recently a report about a little girl who was very cruelly handled in her early childhood. She was badly mutilated and disfigured and grew up in an orphanage, completely estranged from its surroundings. This little girl was quiet and obedient, but completely indifferent. One of the nuns who were looking after the children, was convinced that the girl was not mentally retarded, but merely withdrawn, irresponsive. A psychoanalyst was asked to take up the case and for full two years he would see the child once a week and try to break the wall of isolation. She was docile and well-behaved, but would give no attention to her doctor. He brought her a toy house, with rooms and movable furniture and dolls representing father, mother and their children. It brought out a response, the girl got interested. One day the old hurts revived and came to the surface. Gradually she recovered, a number of operations brought back her face and body to normal and she grew into an efficient and attractive young woman. It took the doctor more than five years, but the work was done. He was a real Guru! He did not put down conditions nor talk about readiness and eligibility. Without faith, without hope, out of love only he tried and tried again.
M: Yes, that is the nature of a Guru. He will never give up. But, to succeed, he must not be met with too much resistance. Doubt and disobedience necessarily delay. Given confidence and pliability, he can bring about a radical change in the disciple speedily. Deep insight in the Guru and earnestness in the disciple, both are needed. Whatever was her condition, the girl in your story suffered for lack of earnestness in people. The most difficult are the intellectuals. They talk a lot, but are not serious.
What you call realisation is a natural thing. When you are ready, your Guru will be waiting. Sadhana is effortless. When the relationship with your teacher is right you grow. Above all, trust him. He cannot mislead you.
Q: Even when he asks me to do something patently wrong?
M: Do it. A Sanyasi had been asked by his Guru to marry. He obeyed and suffered bitterly. But his four children were all saints and seers, the greatest in Maharashtra. Be happy with whatever comes from your Guru and you will grow to perfection without striving.
Q: Sir, have you any wants or wishes. Can I do anything for you?
M: What can you give me that I do not have? Material things are needed for contentment. But I am contented with myself. What else do I need?
Q: Surely, when you are hungry you need food and when sick you need medicine.
M: Hunger brings the food and illness brings the medicine. It is all nature's work.
Q: lf I bring something I believe you need, will you accept it?
M: The love that made you offer will make me accept.
Q: If somebody offers to build you a beautiful Ashram?
M: Let him, by all means. Let him spend a fortune, employ hundreds, feed thousands.
Q: Is it not a desire?
M: Not at all. I am only asking him to do it properly, not stingily, half-heartedly. He is fulfilling his own desire, not mine. Let him do it well and be famous among men and gods.
Q: But do you want it?
M: I do not want it.
Q: Will you accept it?
M: I don't need it.
Q: Will you stay in it?
M: If I am compelled.
Q: What can compel you?
M: Love of those who are in search of light.
Q: Yes, I see your point. Now, how am I to go into samadhi?
M: If you are in the right state, whatever you see will put you into samadhi. After all, samadhi is nothing unusual. When the mind is intensely interested, it becomes one with the object of interest -- the seer and the seen become one in seeing, the hearer and the heard become one in hearing, the lover and the loved become one in loving. Every experience can be the ground for samadhi.
Q: Are you always in a state of samadhi?
M: Of course not Samadhi is a state of mind, after all. I am beyond all experience, even of samadhi. I am the great devourer and destroyer: whatever I touch dissolves into void (akash).
Q: I need samadhis for self-realisation.
M: You have all the self-realisation you need, but you do not trust it. Have courage, trust yourself, go, talk, act; give it a chance to prove itself. With some, realisation comes imperceptibly, but somehow they need convincing. They have changed, but they do not notice it. Such non-spectacular cases are often the most reliable.
Q: Can one believe himself to be realised and be mistaken?
M: Of course. The very idea 'I am self-realised' is a mistake. There is no 'I am this'. 'I am that' in the Natural State.
62. In the Supreme the Witness Appears
Questioner: Some forty years ago J. Krishnamurti said that there is life only and all talk of personalities and individualities has no foundation in reality. He did not attempt to describe life -- he merely said that while life need not and cannot be described, it can be fully experienced, if the obstacles to its being experienced are removed. The main hindrance lies in our idea of, and addiction to, time, in our habit of anticipating a future in the light of the past. The sum total of the past becomes the 'I was', the hoped for future becomes the 'I shall be' and life is a constant effort of crossing over from what 'I was' to what "I shall be'. The present moment, the. 'now' is lost sight of. Maharaj speaks of 'I am'. Is it an illusion, like 'I was' and 'I shall be', or is there something real about it? And if the "I am' too is an illusion, how does one free oneself from it? The very notion of I am free of 'I am' is an absurdity. Is there something real, something lasting about the 'I am' in distinction from the 'I was', or "I shall be', which change with time, as added memories create new expectations?
Maharaj: The present 'I am' is as false as the 'I was' and 'I shall be'. It is merely an idea in the mind, an impression left by memory, and the separate identity it creates is false. this habit of referring to a false centre must be done away with, the notion 'I see', 'I feel', 'I think', 'I do', must disappear from the field of consciousness; what remains when the false is no more, is real.
Q: What is this big talk about elimination of the self? How can the self eliminate itself? What kind of metaphysical acrobatics can lead to the disappearance of the acrobat? In the end he will reappear, mightily proud of his disappearing.
M: You need not chase the 'I am' to kill it. You cannot. All you need is a sincere longing for reality. We call it atma-bhakti, the love of the Supreme: or moksha-sankalpa, the determination to be free from the false. Without love, and will inspired by love, nothing can be done. Merely talking about Reality without doing anything about it is self-defeating. There must be love in the relation between the person who says 'I am' and the observer of that 'I am'. As long as the observer, the inner self, the 'higher' self, considers himself apart from the observed, the 'lower' self, despises it and condemns it, the situation is hopeless. It is only when the observer (vyakta) accepts the person (vyakti) as a projection or manifestation of himself, and, so to say, takes the self into the Self, the duality of 'I' and 'this' goes and in the identity of the outer and the inner the Supreme Reality manifests itself.
This union of the seer and the seen happens when the seer becomes conscious of himself as the seer, he is not merely interested in the seen, which he is anyhow, but also interested in being interested, giving attention to attention, aware of being aware. Affectionate awareness is the crucial factor that brings Reality into focus.
Q: According to the Theosophists and allied occultists, man consists of three aspects: personality, individuality and spirituality. Beyond spirituality lies divinity. The personality is strictly temporary and valid for one birth only. It begins with the birth of the body and ends with the birth of the next body. Once over, it is over for good; nothing remains of it except a few sweet or bitter lessons.
The individuality begins with the animal-man and ends with the fully human. The split between the personality and individuality is characteristic of our present-day humanity. On one side the individuality with its longing for the true, the good and the beautiful; on the other side an ugly struggle between habit and ambition, fear and greed, passivity and violence.
The spirituality aspect is still in abeyance. It cannot manifest itself in an atmosphere of duality. Only when the personality is reunited with the individuality and becomes a limited, perhaps, but true expression of it, that the light and love and beauty of the spiritual come into their own.
You teach of the vyakti, vyakta, avyakta (observer, observed and ground of observation). Does it tally with the other view?
M: Yes, when the vyakti realises its non-existence in separation from the vyakta, and the vyakta sees the vyakti as his own expression, then the peace and silence of the avyakta state come into being. In reality, the three are one: the vyakta and the avyakta are inseparable, while the vyakti is the sensing-feeling-thinking process, based on the body made of and fed by the five elements.
Q: What is the relation between the vyakta and the avyakta?
M: How can there be relation when they are one? All talk of separation and relation is due to the distorting and corrupting influence of 'I-am-the-body' idea. The outer self (vyakti) is merely a projection on the body-mind of the inner self (vyakta), which again is only an expression of the Supreme Self (avyakta) which is all and none.
Q: There are teachers who will not talk of the higher self and lower self. They address the man as if only the lower self existed. Neither Buddha nor Christ ever mentioned a higher self. J. Krishnamurti too fights shy of any mention of the higher self. Why is it so?
M: How can there be two selves in one body? The 'I am' is one. There is no "higher I-am' and "lower I-am'. All kinds of states of mind are presented to awareness and there is self-identification with them. The objects of observation are not what they appear to be and the attitudes they are met with are not what they need be. If you think that Buddha, Christ or Krishnamurti speak to the person, you are mistaken. They know well that the vyakti, the outer self, is but a shadow of the vyakta, the inner self, and they address and admonish the vyakta only. They tell him to give attention to the outer self, to guide and help it, to feel responsible for it; in short, to be fully aware of it. Awareness comes from the Supreme and pervades the inner self; the so-called outer self is only that part of one's being of which one is not aware. One may be conscious, for every being is conscious, but one is not aware. What is included in awareness becomes the inner and partakes of the inner. You may put it differently: the body defines the outer self, consciousness the inner, and in pure awareness the Supreme is contacted.
Q: You said the body defines the outer self. Since you have a body, do you have also an outer self?
M: I would, were I attached to the body and take it to be myself.
Q: But you are aware of it and attend to its needs.
M: The contrary is nearer to truth -- the body knows me and is aware of my needs. But neither is really so. This body appears in your mind; in my mind nothing is.
Q: Do you mean to say you are quite unconscious of having a body?
M: On the contrary, I am conscious of not having a body.
Q: I see you smoking!
M: Exactly so. You see me smoking. Find out for yourself how did you come to see me Smoking, and you will easily realise that it is your 'I-am-the-body' state of mind that is responsible for this 'I-see-you-smoking' idea.
Q: There is the body and there is myself. I know the body. Apart from it, what am l?
M: There is no 'I' apart from the body, nor the world. The three appear and disappear together. At the root is the sense 'I am'. Go beyond it. The idea: 'I-am-not-the-body' is merely an antidote to the idea 'I-am-the-body' which is false. What is that 'I am"? Unless you know yourself, what else can you know?
Q: From what you say I conclude that without the body there can be no liberation. If the idea: 'I-am-not-the-body' leads to liberation, the presence of the body is essential.
M: Quite right. Without the body, how can the idea: "I-am-not-the-body' come into being? The idea "I-am-free' is as false as the idea 'I-am-in-bondage'. Find out the "I am' common to both and go beyond.
Q: All is a dream only.
M: All are mere words, of what use are they to you? You are entangled in the web of verbal definitions and formulations. Go beyond your concepts and ideas; in the silence of desire and thought the truth is found.
Q: One has to remember not to remember. What a task!
M: It cannot be done, of course. It must happen. But it does happen when you truly see the need of it. Again, earnestness is the golden key.
Q: At the back of my mind there is a hum going on all the time. Numerous weak thoughts swarm and buzz and this shapeless cloud is always with me. Is it the same with you? What is at the back of your mind?
M: Where there is no mind, there is no back to it. I am all front, no back! The void speaks, the void remains.
Q: Is there no memory left?
M: No memory of past pleasure or pain is left. Each moment is newly born.
Q: Without memory you cannot be conscious.
M: Of course I am conscious, and fully aware of it. I am not a block of wood! Compare consciousness and its content to a cloud. You are inside the cloud, while I look at. You are lost in it, hardly able to see the tips of your fingers, while I see the cloud and many other clouds and the blue sky too and the sun, the moon, the stars. Reality is one for both of us, but for you it is a prison and for me it is a home.
Q: You spoke of the person (vyakti), the witness (vyakta) and the Supreme (avyakta). Which comes first?
M: In the Supreme the witness appears. The witness creates the person and thinks itself as separate from it. The witness sees that the person appears in consciousness which again appears in the witness. This realisation of the basic unity is the working of the Supreme. It is the power behind the witness, the source from which all flows. It cannot be contacted, unless there is unity and love and mutual help between the person and the witness, unless the doing is in harmony with the being and the knowing. The Supreme is both the source and the fruit of such harmony. As I talk to you, I am in the state of detached but affectionate awareness (turiya). When this awareness turns upon itself, you may call it the Supreme State, (turiyatita). But the fundamental reality is beyond awareness, beyond the three states of becoming, being and not-being.
Q: How is it that here my mind is engaged in high topics and finds dwelling on them easy and pleasant. When I return home I find myself forgetting all l have learnt here, worrying and fretting, unable to remember my real nature even for a moment. What may be the cause?
M: It is your childishness you are returning to. You are not fully grown up; there are levels left undeveloped because unattended. Just give full attention to what in you is crude and primitive, unreasonable and unkind, altogether childish, and you will ripen. It is the maturity of heart and mind that is essential. It comes effortlessly when the main obstacle is removed -- inattention, unawareness. In awareness you grow.
63. Notion of Doership is Bondage
Questioner: We have been staying at the Satya Sai Baba Ashram for some time. We have also spent two months at Sri Ramanashram at Tiruvannamalai. Now we are on our way back to the United States.
Maharaj: Did India cause any change in you?
Q: We feel we have shed our burden. Sri Satya Sai Baba told us to leave everything to him and just live from day to day as righteously as possible. 'Be good and leave the rest to me', he used to tell us.
M: What were you doing at the Sri Ramanashram?
Q: We were going on with the mantra given to us by the Guru. We also did some meditation. There was not much of thinking or study; we were just trying to keep quiet. We are on the bhakti path and rather poor in philosophy. We have not much to think about -- just trust our Guru and live our lives.
M: Most of the bhaktas trust their Guru only as long as all is well with them. When troubles come, they feel let down and go out in search of another Guru.
Q: Yes, we were warned against this danger. We are trying to take the hard along with the soft. The feeling: 'All is Grace' must be very strong. A sadhu was walking eastwards, from where a strong wind started blowing. The sadhu just turned round and walked west. We hope to live just like that -- adjusting ourselves to circumstances as sent us by our Guru.
M: There is only life. There is nobody who lives a life.
Q: That we understand, yet constantly we make attempts to live our lives instead of just living. Making plans for the future seems to be an inveterate habit with us.
M: Whether you plan or don't, life goes on. But in life itself a little whorl arises in the mind, which indulges in fantasies and imagines itself dominating and controlling life. Life itself is desireless. But the false self wants to continue -- pleasantly. Therefore it is always engaged in ensuring one's continuity. Life is unafraid and free. As long as you have the idea of influencing events, liberation is not for you: The very notion of doership, of being a cause, is bondage.
Q: How can we overcome the duality of the doer and the done?
M: Contemplate life as infinite, undivided, ever present, ever active, until you realise yourself as one with it. It is not even very difficult, for you will be returning only to your own natural condition.
Once you realise that all comes from within, that the world in which you live has not been projected onto you but by you, your fear comes to an end. Without this realisation you identify yourself with the externals, like the body, mind, society, nation, humanity, even God or the Absolute. But these are all escapes from fear. It is only when you fully accept your responsibility for the little world in which you live and watch the process of its creation, preservation and destruction, that you may be free from your imaginary bondage.
Q: Why should I imagine myself so wretched?
M: You do it by habit only. Change your ways of feeling and thinking, take stock of them and examine them closely. You are in bondage by inadvertence. Attention liberates. You are taking so many things for granted. Begin to question. The most obvious things are the most doubtful. Ask yourself such questions as: "Was I really born?' 'Am I really so-and-so?" 'How do I know that I exist? 'Who are my parents?" 'Have they created me, or have I created them?' 'Must I believe all I am told about myself?' "Who am I, anyhow?'. You have put so much energy into building a prison for yourself. Now spend as much on demolishing it. In fact, demolition is easy, for the false dissolves when it is discovered. All hangs on the idea 'I am'. Examine it very thoroughly. It lies at the root of every trouble. It is a sort of skin that separates you from the reality. The real is both within and without the skin, but the skin itself is not real. This 'I am' idea was not born with you. You could have lived very well without it. It came later due to your self-identification with the body. It created an illusion of separation where there was none. It made you a stranger in your own world and made the world alien and inimical. Without the sense of 'I am' life goes on. There are moments when we are without the sense of 'I am'. at peace and happy. With the return of the 'I am' trouble starts.
Q: How is one to be free from the 'I'-sense?
M: You must deal with the 'I'-sense if you want to be free of it. Watch it in operation and at peace, how it starts and when it ceases, what it wants and how it gets it, till you see clearly and understand fully. After all, all the Yogas, whatever their source and character, have only one aim: to save you from the calamity of separate existence, of being a meaningless dot in a vast and beautiful picture.
You suffer because you have alienated yourself from reality and now you seek an escape from this alienation. You cannot escape from your own obsessions. You can only cease nursing them.
It is because the "I am' is false that it wants to continue. Reality need not continue -- knowing itself indestructible, it is indifferent to the destruction of forms and expressions. To strengthen, and stabilise the 'I am' we do all sorts of things -- all in vain, for the 'I am' is being rebuilt from moment to moment. It is unceasing work and the only radical solution is to dissolve the separative sense of 'I am such-and-such person' once and for good. Being remains, but not self-being.
Q: I have definite spiritual ambitions. Must I not work for their fulfilment?
M: No ambition is spiritual. All ambitions are for the sake of the 'I am'. If you want to make real progress you must give up all idea of personal attainment. The ambitions of the so-called Yogis are preposterous. A man's desire for a woman is innocence itself compared to the lusting for an everlasting personal bliss. The mind is a cheat. The more pious it seems, the worse the betrayal.
Q: People come to you very often with their worldly troubles and ask for help. How do you know what to tell them?
M: I just tell them what comes to my mind at the moment. I have no standardised procedure in dealing with people.
Q: You are sure of yourself. But when people come to me for advice, how am I to be sure that my advice is right?
M: Watch in what state you are, from what level you talk. If you talk from the mind, you may be wrong. If you talk from full insight into the situation, with your own mental habits in abeyance your advice may be a true response. The main point is to be fully aware that neither you nor the man in front of you are mere bodies; If your awareness is clear and full. a mistake is less probable.
64. Whatever pleases you, Keeps you Back
Questioner: I am a retired chartered accountant and my wife is engaged in social work for poor women. Our son is leaving for the United States and we came to see him off. We are Panjabis but we live in Delhi. We have a Guru of the Radha-Soami faith and we value satsang highly. We feel very fortunate to be brought here. We have met many holy people and we are glad to meet one more.
Maharaj: You have met many anchorites and ascetics, but a fully realised man conscious of his divinity (swarupa) is hard to find. The saints and Yogis, by immense efforts and sacrifices, acquire many miraculous powers and can do much good in the way of helping people and inspiring faith, yet it does not make them perfect. It is not a way to reality, but merely an enrichment of the false. All effort leads to more effort; whatever was built up must be maintained, whatever was acquired must be protected against decay or loss. Whatever can be lost is not really one's own; and what is not your own of what use can it be to you? In my world nothing is pushed about, all happens by itself. All existence is in space and time, limited and temporary. He who experiences existence is also limited and temporary. I am not concerned either with 'what exists' or with 'who exists'. I take my stand beyond, where I am both and neither.
The persons who, after much effort and penance, have fulfilled their ambitions and secured higher levels of experience and action, are usually acutely conscious of their standing; they grade people into hierarchies, ranging from the lowest non-achiever to the highest achiever. To me all are equal. Differences in appearance and expression are there, but they do not matter. Just as the shape of a gold ornament does not affect the gold, so does man's essence remain unaffected. Where this sense of equality is lacking it means that reality had not been touched.
Mere knowledge is not enough; the knower must be known. The Pandits and the Yogis may know many things, but of what use is mere knowledge when the self is not known? It will be certainly misused. Without the knowledge of the knower there can be no peace.
Q: How does one come to know the knower?
M: I can only tell you what I know from my own experience. When I met my Guru, he told me: 'You are not what you take yourself to be. Find out what you are. Watch the sense 'I am', find your real self'. I obeyed him, because I trusted him. I did as he told me. All my spare time I would spend looking at myself in silence. And what a difference it made, and how soon! It took me only three years to realise my true nature. My Guru died soon after I met him, but it made no difference. I remembered what he told me and persevered. The fruit of it is here, with me.
Q: What is it?
M: I know myself as I am in reality. I am neither the body, nor the mind, nor the mental faculties. I am beyond all these.
Q: Are you just nothing?
M: Come on, be reasonable. Of course I am, most tangibly. Only I am not what you may think me to be. This tells you all.
Q: It tells me nothing.
M: Because it cannot be told. You must gain your own experience. You are accustomed to deal with things, physical and mental. I am not a thing, nor are you. We are neither matter nor energy, neither body nor mind. Once you have a glimpse of your own being, you will not find me difficult to understand.
We believe in so many things on hearsay. We believe in distant lands and people, in heavens and hells, in gods and goddesses, because we were told. Similarly, we were told about ourselves, our parents, name, position, duties and so on. We never cared to verify. The way to truth lies through the destruction of the false. To destroy the false, you must question your most inveterate beliefs. Of these the idea that you are the body is the worst. With the body comes the world, with the world -- God, who is supposed to have created the world and thus it starts -- fears, religions, prayers, sacrifices, all sorts of systems -- all to protect and support the child-man, frightened out of his wits by monsters of his own making. realise that what you are cannot be born nor die and with the fear gone all suffering ends.
What the mind invents, the mind destroys. But the real is not invented and cannot be destroyed. Hold on to that over which the mind has no power. What I am telling you about is neither in the past nor in the future. Nor is it in the daily life as it flows in the now. It is timeless and the total timelessness of it is beyond the mind. My Guru and his words: 'You are myself' are timelessly with me. In the beginning I had to fix my mind on them, but now it has become natural and easy. The point when the mind accepts the words of the Guru as true and lives by them spontaneously and in every detail of daily life is the threshold of realisation. In a way it is salvation by faith, but the faith must be intense and lasting.
However, you must not think that faith itself is enough. Faith expressed in action is a sure means to realisation. Of all the means it is the most effective. There are teachers who deny faith and trust reason only. Actually it is not faith they deny, but blind beliefs. Faith is not blind. It is the willingness to try.
Q: We were told that of all forms of spiritual practices the practice of the attitude of a mere witness is the most efficacious. How does it compare with faith?
M: The witness attitude is also faith; it is faith in oneself. You believe that you are not what you experience and you look at everything as from a distance. There is no effort in witnessing. You understand that you are the witness only and the understanding acts. You need nothing more, just remember that you are the witness only. If in the state of witnessing you ask yourself: 'Who am I?', the answer comes at once, though it is wordless and silent. Cease to be the object and become the subject of all that happens; once having turned within, you will find yourself beyond the subject. When you have found yourself, you will find that you are also beyond the object, that both the subject and the object exist in you, but you are neither.
Q: You speak of the mind, of the witnessing consciousness beyond the mind and of the Supreme, which is beyond awareness. Do you mean to say that even awareness is not real?
M: As long as you deal in terms: real -- unreal; awareness is the only reality that can be. But the Supreme is beyond all distinctions and to it the term 'real' does not apply, for in it all is real and, therefore, need not be labelled as such. It is the very source of reality, it imparts reality to whatever it touches. It just cannot be understood through words. Even a direct experience, however sublime, merely bears testimony, nothing more.
Q: But who creates the world?
M: The Universal Mind (chidakash) makes and unmakes everything. The Supreme (paramakash) imparts reality to whatever comes into being. To say that it is the universal love may be the nearest we can come to it in words. Just like love it makes everything real, beautiful, desirable.
Q: Why desirable?
M: Why not? Wherefrom come all the powerful attractions that make all created things respond to each other, that bring people together, if not from the Supreme? Shun not desire; see only that it flows into the right channels. Without desire you are dead. But with low desires you are a ghost.
Q: What is the experience which comes nearest to the Supreme?
M: Immense peace and boundless love. realise that whatever there is true, noble and beautiful in the universe, it all comes from you, that you yourself are at the source of it. The gods and goddesses that supervise the world may be most wonderful and glorious beings; yet they are like the gorgeously dressed servants who proclaim the power and the riches of their master.
Q: How does one reach the Supreme State?
M: By renouncing all lesser desires. As long as you are pleased with the lesser, you cannot have the highest. Whatever pleases you, keeps you back. Until you realise the unsatisfactoriness of everything, its transiency and limitation, and collect your energies in one great longing, even the first step is not made. On the other hand, the integrity of the desire for the Supreme is by itself a call from the Supreme. Nothing, physical or mental, can give you freedom. You are free once you understand that your bondage is of your own making and you cease forging the chains that bind you.
Q: How does one find the faith in a Guru?
M: To find the Guru and also the trust in him is rare luck. It does not happen often.
Q: Is it destiny that ordains?
M: Calling it destiny explains little. When it happens you cannot say why it happens and you merely cover up your ignorance by calling it karma or Grace, or the Will of God.
Q: Krishnamurti says that Guru is not needed.
M: Somebody must tell you about the Supreme Reality and the way that leads to it. Krishnamurti is doing nothing else. In a way he is right -- most of the so-called disciples do not trust their Gurus; they disobey them and finally abandon them. For such disciples it would have been infinitely better if they had no Guru at all and just looked within for guidance. to find a living Guru is a rare opportunity and a great responsibility. One should not treat these matters lightly. You people are out to buy yourself the heaven and you imagine that the Guru will supply it for a price. You seek to strike a bargain by offering little but asking much. You cheat nobody except yourselves.
Q: You were told by your Guru that you are the Supreme and you trusted him and acted on it. What gave you this trust?
M: Say, I was just reasonable. It would have been foolish to distrust him. What interest could he possibly have in misleading me?
Q: You told a questioner that we are the same, that we are equals. I cannot believe it. Since I do not believe it, of what use is your statement to me?
M: Your disbelief does not matter. My words are true and they will do their work. This is the beauty of noble company (satsang).
Q: Just sitting near you can it be considered spiritual practice?
M: Of course. The river of life is flowing. Some of its water is here, but so much of it has already reached its goal. You know only the present. I see much further into the past and future, into what you are and what you can be. I cannot but see you as myself. It is in the very nature of love to see no difference.
Q: How can I come to see myself as you see me?
M: It is enough if you do not imagine yourself to be the body. It is the 'I-am-the-body' idea that is so calamitous. It blinds you completely to your real nature. Even for a moment do not think that you are the body. Give yourself no name, no shape. In the darkness and the silence reality is found.
Q: Must not I think with some conviction that I am not the body? Where am I to find such conviction?
M: Behave as if you were fully convinced and the confidence will come. What is the use of mere words? A formula, a mental pattern will not help you. But unselfish action, free from all concern with the body and its interests will carry you into the very heart of Reality.
Q: Where am I to get the courage to act without conviction?
M: Love will give you the courage. When you meet somebody wholly admirable, love-worthy, sublime, your love and admiration will give you the urge to act nobly.
Q: Not everybody knows to admire the admirable. Most of the people are totally insensitive.
M: Life will make them appreciate. The very weight of accumulated experience will give them eyes to see. When you meet a worthy man, you will love and trust him and follow his advice. This is the role of the realised people -- to set an example of perfection for others to admire and love. Beauty of life and character is a tremendous contribution to the common good.
Q: Must we not suffer to grow?
M: It is enough to know that there is suffering, that the world suffers. By themselves neither pleasure nor pain enlighten. Only understanding does. Once you have grasped the truth that the world is full of suffering, that to be born is a calamity, you will find the urge and the energy to go beyond it. Pleasure puts you to sleep and pain wakes you up. If you do not want to suffer, don't go to sleep. You cannot know yourself through bliss alone, for bliss is your very nature. You must face the opposite, what you are not, to find enlightenment.
65. A Quiet Mind is All You Need
Questioner: I am not well. I feel rather weak. What am I to do?
Maharaj: Who is unwell, you or the body?
Q: My body, of course.
M: Yesterday you felt well. What felt well?
Q: The body.
M: You were glad when the body was well and you are sad when the body is unwell. Who is glad one day and sad the next?
Q: The mind.
M: And who knows the variable mind?
Q: The mind.
M: The mind is the knower. Who knows the knower?
Q: Does not the knower know itself?
M: The mind is discontinuous. Again and again it blanks out, like in sleep or swoon, or distraction. There must be something continuous to register discontinuity.
Q: The mind remembers. This stands for continuity.
M: Memory is always partial, unreliable and evanescent. It does not explain the strong sense of identity pervading consciousness, the sense 'I am'. Find out what is at the root of it.
Q: However deeply I look, I find only the mind. Your words 'beyond the mind' give me no clue.
M: While looking with the mind, you cannot go beyond it. To go beyond, you must look away from the mind and its contents.
Q: In what direction am I to look?
M: All directions are within the mind! I am not asking you to look in any particular direction. Just look away from all that happens in your mind and bring it to the feeling 'I am'. The 'I am' is not a direction. It is the negation of all direction. Ultimately even the 'I am' will have to go, for you need not keep on asserting what is obvious. Bringing the mind to the feeling 'I am' merely helps in turning the mind away from everything else.
Q: Where does it all lead me?
M: When the mind is kept away from its preoccupations, it becomes quiet. If you do not disturb this quiet and stay in it, you find that it is permeated with a light and a love you have never known; and yet you recognise it at once as your own nature. Once you have passed through this experience, you will never be the same man again; the unruly mind may break its peace and obliterate its vision; but it is bound to return, provided the effort is sustained; until the day when all bonds are broken, delusions and attachments end and life becomes supremely concentrated in the present.
Q: What difference does it make?
M: The mind is no more. There is only love in action.
Q: How shall I recognise this state when I reach it?
M: There will be no fear.
Q: Surrounded by a world full of mysteries and dangers, how can I remain unafraid?
M: Your own little body too is full of mysteries and dangers, yet you are not afraid of it, for you take it as your own. What you do not know is that the entire universe is your body and you need not be afraid of it. You may say you have two bodies; the personal and the universal. The personal comes and goes, the universal is always with you. The entire creation is your universal body. You are so blinded by what is personal, that you do not see the universal. This blindness will not end by itself -- it must be undone skilfully and deliberately. When all illusions are understood and abandoned, you reach the error-free and perfect state in which all distinctions between the personal and the universal are no more.
Q: I am a person and therefore limited in space and time. I occupy little space and last but a few moments; I cannot even conceive myself to be eternal and all-pervading.
M: Nevertheless you are. As you dive deep into yourself in search of your true nature, you will discover that only your body is small and only your memory is short; while the vast ocean of life is yours.
Q: The very words 'I' and 'universal' are contradictory. One excludes the other.
M: They don't. The sense of identity pervades the universal. Search and you shall discover the Universal Person, who is yourself and infinitely more.
Anyhow, begin by realising that the world is in you, not you in the world.
Q: How can it be? I am only a part of the world. How can the whole world be contained in the part, except by reflection, mirror like?
M: What you say is true. Your personal body is a part in which the whole is wonderfully reflected. But you have also a universal body. You cannot even say that you do not know it, because you see and experience it all the time. Only you call it 'the world' and are afraid of it.
Q: I feel I know my little body, while the other I do not know, except through science.
M: Your little body is full of mysteries and wonders which you do not know. There also science is your only guide. Both anatomy and astronomy describe you.
Q: Even If I accept your doctrine of the universal body as a working theory, in what way can I test it and of what use is it to me?
M: Knowing yourself as the dweller in both the bodies you will disown nothing. All the universe will be your concern; every living thing you will love and help most tenderly and wisely. There will be no clash of interests between you and others. All exploitation will cease absolutely. Your every action will be beneficial, every movement will be a blessing.
Q: It is all very tempting, but how am I to proceed to realise my universal being?
M: You have two ways: you can give your heart and mind to self-discovery, or you accept my words on trust and act accordingly. In other words, either you become totally self-concerned, or totally un-self-concerned. It is the word 'totally' that is important. You must be extreme to reach the Supreme.
Q: How can I aspire to such heights, small and limited as I am?
M: realise yourself as the ocean of consciousness in which all happens. This is not difficult. A little of attentiveness, of close observation of oneself, and you will see that no event is outside your consciousness.
Q: The world is full of events which do not appear in my consciousness.
M: Even your body is full of events which do not appear in your consciousness. This does not prevent you from claiming your body to be your own. You know the world exactly as you know your body -- through your senses. It is your mind that has separated the world outside your skin from the world inside and put them in opposition. This created fear and hatred and all the miseries of living.
Q: What I do not follow is what you say about going beyond consciousness. I understand the words, but I cannot visualise the experience. After all, you yourself have said that all experience is in consciousness.
M: You are right, there can be no experience beyond consciousness. Yet there is the experience of just being. There is a state beyond consciousness, which is not unconscious. Some call it super-consciousness, or pure consciousness, or supreme consciousness. It is pure awareness free from the subject object nexus.
Q: I have studied Theosophy and I find nothing familiar in what you say. I admit Theosophy deals with manifestation only. It describes the universe and its inhabitants in great details. It admits many levels of matter and corresponding levels of experience, but it does not seem to go beyond. What you say goes beyond all experience. If it is not experienceable, why at all talk about it?
M: Consciousness is intermittent, full of gaps. Yet there is the continuity of identity. What is this sense of identity due to, if not to something beyond consciousness?
Q: If I am beyond the mind, how can I change myself?
M: Where is the need of changing anything? The mind is changing anyhow all the time. Look at your mind dispassionately; this is enough to calm it. When it is quiet, you can go beyond it. Do not keep it busy all the time. Stop it -- and just be. If you give it rest, it will settle down and recover its purity and strength. Constant thinking makes it decay.
Q: If my true being is always with me, how is it that I am ignorant of it?
M: Because it is very subtle and your mind is gross, full of gross thoughts and feelings. Calm and clarify your mind and you will know yourself as you are.
Q: Do I need the mind to know myself?
M: You are beyond the mind, but you know with your mind. It is obvious that the extent, depth and character of knowledge depend on what instrument you use. Improve your instrument and your knowledge will improve.
Q: To know perfectly I need a perfect mind.
M: A quiet mind is all you need. All else will happen rightly, once your mind is quiet. As the sun on rising makes the world active, so does self-awareness affect changes in the mind. In the light of calm and steady self-awareness inner energies wake up and work miracles without any effort on your part.
Q: You mean to say that the greatest work is done by not working?
M: Exactly. Do understand that you are destined for enlightenment. Co-operate with your destiny, don't go against it, don"t thwart it. Allow it to fulfil itself. All you have to do is to give attention to the obstacles created by the foolish mind.
66. All Search for Happiness is Misery
Questioner: I have come frown England and I am on my way to Madras. There I shall meet my father and we shall go by car overland to London. I am to study psychology, but I do not yet know what I shall do when I get my degree. I may try industrial psychology, or psychotherapy. My father is a general physician, I may follow the same line.
But this does not exhaust my interests. There are certain questions which do not change with time. I understand you have some answers to such questions and this made me come to see you.
Maharaj: I wonder whether I am the right man to answer your questions. I know little about things and people. I know only that I am, and that much you also know. We are equals.
Q: Of course I know that I am. But I do not know what it means.
M: What you take to be the 'I' in the 'I am' is not you. To know that you are is natural, to know what you are is the result of much investigation. You will have to explore the entire field of consciousness and go beyond it. For this you must find the right teacher and create the conditions needed for discovery. Generally speaking, there are two ways: external and internal. Either you live with somebody who knows the Truth and submit yourself entirely to his guiding and moulding influence, or you seek the inner guide and follow the inner light wherever it takes you. In both cases your personal desires and fears must be disregarded. You learn either by proximity or by investigation, the passive or the active way. You either let yourself be carried by the river of life and love represented by your Guru, or you make your own efforts, guided by your inner star. In both cases you must move on, you must be earnest. Rare are the people who are lucky to find somebody worthy of trust and love. Most of them must take the hard way, the way of intelligence and understanding, of discrimination and detachment (viveka-vairagya). This is the way open to all.
Q: I am lucky to have come here: though I am leaving tomorrow, one talk with you may affect my entire life.
M: Yes, once you say 'I want to find Truth', all your life will be deeply affected by it. All your mental and physical habits, feelings and emotions, desires and fears, plans and decisions will undergo a most radical transformation.
Q: Once I have made up my mind to find The Reality, what do I do next?
M: It depends on your temperament. If you are earnest, whatever way you choose will take you to your goal. It is the earnestness that is the decisive factor.
Q: What is the source of earnestness?
M: It is the homing instinct, which makes the bird return to its nest and the fish to the mountain stream where it was born. The seed returns to the earth, when the fruit is ripe. Ripeness is all.
Q: And what will ripen me? Do I need experience?
M: You already have all the experience you need, otherwise you would not have come here. You need not gather any more, rather you must go beyond experience. Whatever effort you make, whatever method (sadhana) you follow, will merely generate more experience, but will not take you beyond. Nor will reading books help you. They will enrich your mind, but the person you are will remain intact. If you expect any benefits from your search, material, mental or spiritual, you have missed the point. Truth gives no advantage. It gives you no higher status, no power over others; all you get is truth and the freedom from the false.
Q: Surely truth gives you the power to help others.
M: This is mere imagination, however noble! In truth you do not help others, because there are no others. You divide people into noble and ignoble and you ask the noble to help the ignoble. You separate, you evaluate, you judge and condemn -- in the name of truth you destroy it. Your very desire to formulate truth denies it, because it cannot be contained in words. Truth can be expressed only by the denial of the false -- in action. For this you must see the false as false (viveka) and reject it (vairagya). Renunciation of the false is liberating and energizing. It lays open the road to perfection.
Q: When do I know that I have discovered truth?
M: When the idea 'this is true', 'that is true' does not arise. Truth does not assert itself, it is in the seeing of the false as false and rejecting it. It is useless to search for truth, when the mind is blind to the false. It must be purged of the false completely before truth can dawn on It.
Q: But what is false?
M: Surely, what has no being is false.
Q: What do you mean by having no being? The false is there, hard as a nail.
M: What contradicts itself, has no being. Or it has only momentary being, which comes to the same. For, what has a beginning and an end has no middle. It is hollow. It has only the name and shape given to it by the mind, but it has neither substance nor essence.
Q: If all that passes has no being, then the universe has no being either.
M: Who ever denies it? Of course the universe has no being.
Q: What has?
M: That which does not depend for its existence, which does not arise with the universe arising, nor set with the universe setting, which does not need any proof, but imparts reality to all it touches. It is the nature of the false that it appears real for a moment. One could say that the true becomes the father of the false. But the false is limited in time and space and is produced by circumstances.
Q: How am I to get rid of the false and secure the real?
M: To what purpose?
Q: In order to live a better, a more satisfactory life, integrated and happy.
M: Whatever is conceived by the mind must be false, for it is bound to be relative and limited. The real is inconceivable and cannot be harnessed to a purpose. It must be wanted for its own sake.
Q: How can I want the inconceivable?
M: What else is there worth wanting? Granted, the real cannot be wanted, as a thing is wanted. But you can see the unreal as unreal and discard it. It is the discarding the false that opens the way to the true.
Q: I understand, but how does it look in actual daily life?
M: Self-interest and self-concern are the focal points of the false. Your daily life vibrates between desire and fear. Watch it intently and you will see how the mind assumes innumerable names and shapes, like a river foaming between the boulders. Trace every action to its selfish motive and look at the motive intently till it dissolves.
Q: To live, one must look after oneself, one must earn money for oneself.
M: You need not earn for yourself, but you may have to -- for a woman and a child. You may have to keep on working for the sake of others. Even just to keep alive can be a sacrifice. There is no need whatsoever to be selfish. Discard every self-seeking motive as soon as it is seen and you need not search for truth; truth will find you.
Q: There is a minimum of needs.
M: Were they not supplied since you were conceived? Give up the bondage of self-concern and be what you are -- intelligence and love in action.
Q: But one must survive!
M: You can't help surviving! The real you is timeless and beyond birth and death. And the body will survive as long as it is needed. It is not important that it should live long. A full life is better than a long life.
Q: Who is to say what is a full life? It depends on my cultural background.
M: If you seek reality you must set yourself free of all backgrounds, of all cultures, of all patterns of thinking and feeling. Even the idea of being man or woman, or even human, should be discarded. The ocean of life contains all, not only humans. So, first of all abandon all self-identification, stop thinking of yourself as such-and-such, so-and-so, this or that. Abandon all self-concern, worry not about your welfare, material or spiritual, abandon every desire, gross or subtle, stop thinking of achievement of any kind. You are complete here and now, you need absolutely nothing.
It does not mean that you must be brainless and foolhardy, improvident or indifferent; only the basic anxiety for oneself must go. You need some food, clothing and shelter for you and yours, but this will not create problems as long as greed is not taken for a need. Live in tune with things as they are and not as they are imagined.
Q: What am I if not human?
M: That which makes you think that you are a human is not human. It is but a dimensionless point of consciousness, a conscious nothing; all you can say about yourself is: 'I am.' You are pure being -- awareness -- bliss. To realise that is the end of all seeking. You come to it when you see all you think yourself to be as mere imagination and stand aloof in pure awareness of the transient as transient, imaginary as imaginary, unreal as unreal. It is not at all difficult, but detachment is needed. It is the clinging to the false that makes the true so difficult to see. Once you understand that the false needs time and what needs time is false, you are nearer the Reality, which is timeless, ever in the now. Eternity in time is mere repetitiveness, like the movement of a clock. It flows from the past into the future endlessly, an empty perpetuity. Reality is what makes the present so vital, so different from the past and future, which are merely mental. If you need time to achieve something, it must be false. The real is always with you; you need not wait to be what you are. Only you must not allow your mind to go out of yourself in search. When you want something, ask yourself: do I really need it? and if the answer is no, then just drop it.
Q: Must I not be happy? I may not need a thing, yet if it can make me happy, should I not grasp it?
M: Nothing can make you happier than you are. All search for happiness is misery and leads to more misery. The only happiness worth the name is the natural happiness of conscious being.
Q: Don't I need a lot of experience before I can reach such a high level of awareness?
M: Experience leaves only memories behind and adds to the burden which is heavy enough. You need no more experiences. The past ones are sufficient. And if you feel you need more, look into the hearts of people around you. You will find a variety of experiences which you would not be able to go through in a thousand years. Learn from the sorrows of others and save yourself your own. It is not experience that you need, but the freedom from all experience. Don't be greedy for experience; you need none.
Q: Don't you pass through experiences yourself?
M: Things happen round me, but I take no part in them. An event becomes an experience only when I am emotionally involved. I am in a state which is complete, which seeks not to improve on itself. Of what use is experience to me?
Q: One needs knowledge, education.
M: To deal with things knowledge of things is needed. To deal with people, you need insight, sympathy. To deal with yourself you need nothing. Be what you are: conscious being and don't stray away from yourself.
Q: University education is most useful.
M: No doubt, It helps you to earn a living. But it does not teach you how to live. You are a student of psychology. It may help you in certain situations. But can you live by psychology? Life is worthy of the name only when it reflects Reality in action. No university will teach you how to live so that when the time of dying comes, you can say: I lived well I do not need to live again. Most of us die wishing we could live again. So many mistakes committed, so much left undone. Most of the people vegetate, but do not live. They merely gather experience and enrich their memory. But experience is the denial of Reality, which is neither sensory nor conceptual, neither of the body, nor of the mind, though it includes and transcends both.
Q: But experience is most useful. By experience you learn not to touch a flame.
M: I have told you already that knowledge is most useful in dealing with things. But it does not tell you how to deal with people and yourself, how to live a life. We are not talking. of driving a car, or earning money. For this you need experience. But for being a light unto yourself material knowledge will not help you. You need something much more intimate and deeper than mediate knowledge, to be your self in the true sense of the word. Your outer life is unimportant. You can become a night watchman and live happily. It is what you are inwardly that matters. Your inner peace and joy you have to earn. It is much more difficult than earning money. No university can teach you to be yourself. The only way to learn is by practice. Right away begin to be yourself. Discard all you are not and go ever deeper. Just as a man digging a well discards what is not water, until he reaches the water-bearing strata, so must you discard what is not your own, till nothing is left which you can disown. You will find that what is left is nothing which the mind can hook on to. You are not even a human being. You just are -- a point of awareness, co-extensive with time and space and beyond both, the ultimate cause, itself uncaused. If you ask me: 'Who are you?' My answer would be: 'Nothing in particular. Yet, I am.'
Q: If you are nothing in particular, then you must be the universal.
M: What is to be universal -- not as a concept, but as a way of life? Not to separate, not to oppose, but to understand and love whatever contacts you, is living universally. To be able to say truly: I am the world., the world is me, I am at home in the world, the world is my own. Every existence is my existence, every consciousness is my consciousness, every sorrow is my sorrow and every joy is my joy -- this is universal life. Yet, my real being, and yours too, is beyond the universe and, therefore, beyond the categories of the particular and the universal. It is what it is, totally self-contained and independent.
Q: I find it hard to understand.
M: You must give yourself time to brood over these things. The old grooves must be erased in your brain, without forming new ones. You must realise yourself as the immovable, behind and beyond the movable, the silent witness of all that happens.
Q: Does it mean that I must give up all idea of an active life?
M: Not at all. There will be marriage, there will be children, there will be earning money to maintain a family; all this will happen in the natural course of events, for destiny must fulfil itself; you will go through it without resistance, facing tasks as they come, attentive and thorough, both in small things and big. But the general attitude will be of affectionate detachment, enormous goodwill, without expectation of return, constant giving without asking. In marriage you are neither the husband nor the wife; you are the love between the two. You are the clarity and kindness that makes everything orderly and happy. It may seem vague to you, but if you think a little, you will find that the mystical is most practical, for it makes your life creatively happy. Your consciousness is raised to a higher dimension, from which you see everything much clearer and with greater intensity. You realise that the person you became at birth and will cease to be at death is temporary and false. You are not the sensual, emotional and intellectual person, gripped by desires and fears. Find out your real being. What am l? is the fundamental question of all philosophy and psychology. Go into it deeply.
67. Experience is not the Real Thing
Maharaj: The seeker is he who is in search of himself. Soon he discovers that his own body he cannot be. Once the conviction: 'I am not the body' becomes so well grounded that he can no longer feel, think and act for and on behalf of the body, he will easily discover that he is the universal being, knowing, acting, that in him and through him the entire universe is real, conscious and active. This is the heart of the problem. Either you are body-conscious and a slave of circumstances, or you are the universal consciousness itself -- and in full control of every event.
Yet consciousness, individual or universal, is not my true abode; I am not in it, it is not mine, there is no 'me' in it. I am beyond, though it is not easy to explain how one can be neither conscious, nor unconscious, but just beyond. I cannot say that I am in God or I am God; God is the universal light and love, the universal witness: I am beyond the universal even.
Questioner: In that case you are without name and shape. What kind of being have you?
M: I am what I am, neither with form nor formless, neither conscious nor unconscious. I am outside all these categories.
Q: You are taking the neti-neti (not this, not this) approach.
M: You cannot find me by mere denial. I am as well everything, as nothing. Nor both, nor either. These definitions apply to the Lord of the Universe, not to me.
Q: Do you intend to convey that you are just nothing.
M: Oh, no! I am complete and perfect. I am the beingness of being, the knowingness of knowing, the fullness of happiness. You cannot reduce me to emptiness!
Q: If you are beyond words, what shall we talk about? Metaphysically speaking, what you say holds together; there is no inner contradiction. But there is no food for me in what you say. It is so completely beyond my urgent needs. When I ask for bread, you are giving jewels. They are beautiful, no doubt, but I am hungry.
M: It is not so. I am offering you exactly what you need -- awakening. You are not hungry and you need no bread. You need cessation, relinquishing, disentanglement. What you believe you need is not what you need. Your real need I know, not you. You need to return to the state in which I am -- your natural state. Anything else you may think of is an illusion and an obstacle. Believe me, you need nothing except to be what you are. You imagine you will increase your value by acquisition. It is like gold imagining that an addition of copper will improve it. Elimination and purification, renunciation of all that is foreign to your nature is enough. All else is vanity.
Q: It is easier said than done. A man comes to you with stomach-ache and you advise him to disgorge his stomach. Of course, without the mind there will be no problems. But the mind is there -- most tangibly.
M: It is the mind that tells you that the mind is there. Don't be deceived. All the endless arguments about the mind are produced by the mind itself, for its own protection, continuation and expansion. It is the blank refusal to consider the convolutions and convulsions of the mind that can take you beyond it.
Q: Sir, I am an humble seeker, while you are the Supreme Reality itself. Now the seeker approaches the Supreme in order to be enlightened. What does the Supreme do?
M: Listen to what I keep on telling you and do not move away from it. Think of it all the time and of nothing else. Having reached that far, abandon all thoughts, not only of the world, but of yourself also. Stay beyond all thoughts, in silent being-awareness. It is not progress, for what you come to is already there in you, waiting for you.
Q: So you say I should try to stop thinking and stay steady in the idea: 'I am'.
M: Yes, and whatever thoughts come to you in connection with the 'I am', empty them of all meaning, pay them no attention.
Q: I happen to meet many young people coming from the West and I find that there is a basic difference when I compare them to the Indians. It looks as if their psyche (antahkarana) is different. Concepts like Self, Reality, pure mind, universal consciousness the Indian mind grasps easily. They ring familiar, they taste sweet. The Western mind does not respond, or just rejects them. It concretises and wants to utilise at once in the service of accepted values. These values are often personal: health, well-being, prosperity; sometimes they are social -- a better society, a happier life for all; all are connected with worldly problems, personal or impersonal. Another difficulty one comes across quite often in talking with the Westerners is that to them everything is experience -- as they want to experience food, drink and women, art and travels, so do they want to experience Yoga, realisation and liberation. To them it is just another experience, to be had for a price. They imagine such experience can be purchased and they bargain about the cost. When one Guru quotes too high, in terms of time and effort, they go to another, who offers instalment terms, apparently very easy, but beset with unfulfillable conditions. It is the old story of not thinking of the grey monkey when taking the medicine! In this case it is not thinking of the world, 'abandoning all self-hood', 'extinguishing every desire', 'becoming perfect celibates' etc. Naturally there is vast cheating going on all levels and the results are nil. Some Gurus in sheer desperation abandon all discipline, prescribe no conditions, advise effortlessness, naturalness, simply living in passive awareness, without any pattern of 'must' and 'must not' And there are many disciples whose past experiences brought them to dislike themselves so badly that they just do not want to look at themselves. If they are not disgusted, they are bored. They have surfeit of self-knowledge, they want something else.
M: Let them not think of themselves, if they do not like it. Let them stay with a Guru, watch him, think of him. Soon they will experience a kind of bliss, quite new, never experienced before, except, maybe, in childhood. The experience is so unmistakably new, that it will attract their attention and create interest; once the interest is roused, orderly application will follow.
Q: These people are very critical and suspicious. They cannot be otherwise, having passed through much learning and much disappointment. On one hand they want experience, on the other they mistrust it. How to reach them, God alone knows!
M: True insight and love will reach them.
Q: When they have some spiritual experience, another difficulty arises. They complain that the experience does not last, that it comes and goes in a haphazard way. Having got hold of the lollipop, they want to suck it all the time.
M: Experience, however sublime, is not the real thing. By its very nature it comes and goes. Self-realisation is not an acquisition. It is more of the nature of understanding. Once arrived at, it cannot be lost. On the other hand, consciousness is changeful, flowing, undergoing transformation from moment to moment. Do not hold on to consciousness and its contents. Consciousness held, ceases. To try to perpetuate a flash of insight, or a burst of happiness is destructive of what it wants to preserve. What comes must go. The permanent is beyond all comings and goings. Go to the root of all experience, to the sense of being. Beyond being and not-being lies the immensity of the real. Try and try again.
Q: To try one needs faith.
M: There must be the desire first. When the desire is strong, the willingness to try will come. You do not need assurance of success, when the desire is strong. You are ready to gamble.
Q: Strong desire, strong faith -- it comes to the same. These people do not trust either their parents or the society, or even themselves. All they touched turned to ashes. Give them one experience absolutely genuine, indubitable, beyond the argumentations of the mind and they will follow you to the world's end.
M: But I am doing nothing else! Tirelessly I draw their attention to the one incontrovertible factor -- that of being. Being needs no proofs -- it proves all else. If only they go deeply into the fact of being and discover the vastness and the glory to which the 'I am' is the door, and cross the door and go beyond, their life will be full of happiness and light. Believe me, the effort needed is as nothing when compared with the discoveries arrived at.
Q: What you say is right. But these people have neither confidence nor patience. Even a short effort tires them. It is really pathetic to see them groping blindly and yet unable to hold on to the helping hand. They are such nice people fundamentally but totally bewildered. I tell them: you cannot have truth on your own terms. You must accept the conditions. To this they answer: Some will accept the conditions and some will not. Acceptance or non-acceptance are superficial and accidental; reality is in all; there must be a way for all to tread -- with no conditions attached.
M: There is such a way, open to all, on every level, in every walk of life. Everybody is aware of himself. The deepening and broadening of self-awareness is the royal way. Call it mindfulness, or witnessing, or just attention -- it is for all. None is unripe for it and none can fail.
But, of course, your must not be merely alert. Your mindfulness must include the mind also. Witnessing is primarily awareness of consciousness and its movements.
68. Seek the Source of Consciousness
Questioner: We were talking the other day about the ways of the modern Western mind and the difficulty it finds in submitting to the moral and intellectual discipline of the Vedanta. One of the obstacles lies in the young European's or American's preoccupation with the disastrous condition of the world and the urgent need of setting it right.
They have no patience with people like you who preach personal improvement as a pre-condition for the betterment of the world. They say it is neither possible nor necessary. Humanity is ready for a change of systems -- social, economic, political. A world-government, world-police, world-planning and the abolition of all physical and ideological barriers: this is enough, no personal transformation is needed. No doubt, people shape society, but society shapes people too. In a humane society people will be humane; besides, science provides the answer to many questions which formerly were in the domain of religion.
Maharaj: No doubt, striving for the improvement of the world is a most praiseworthy occupation. Done selflessly, it clarifies the mind and purifies the heart. But soon man will realise that he pursues a mirage. Local and temporary improvement is always possible and was achieved again and again under the influence of a great king or teacher; but it would soon come to an end, leaving humanity in a new cycle of misery. It is in the nature of all manifestation that the good and the bad follow each other and in equal measure. The true refuge is only in the unmanifested.
Q: Are you not advising escape?
M: On the contrary. The only way to renewal lies through destruction. You must melt down the old jewellery into formless gold before you can mould a new one. Only the people who have gone beyond the world can change the world. It never happened otherwise. The few whose impact was long lasting were all knowers of reality. Reach their level and then only talk of helping the world.
Q: It is not the rivers and mountains that we want to help, but the people
M: There is nothing wrong with the world, but for the people who make it bad. Go and ask them to behave.
Q: Desire and fear make them behave as they do.
M: Exactly. As long as human behaviour is dominated by desire and fear, there is not much hope. And to know how to approach the people effectively, you must yourself be free of all desire and fear.
Q: Certain basic desires and fears are inevitable, such as are connected with food, sex and death.
M: These are needs and, as needs, they are easy to meet.
Q: Even death is a need?
M: Having lived a long and fruitful life you feel the need to die. Only when wrongly applied, desire and fear are destructive. By all means desire the right and fear the wrong. But when people desire what is wrong and fear what is right, they create chaos and despair.
Q: What is right and what is wrong?
M: Relatively, what causes suffering is wrong, what alleviates it is right. Absolutely, what brings you back to reality is right and what dims reality is wrong.
Q: When we talk of helping humanity, we mean a struggle against disorder and suffering.
M: You merely talk of helping. Have you ever helped, really helped, a single man? Have you ever put one soul beyond the need of further help? Can you give a man character, based on full realisation of his duties and opportunities at least, if not on the insight into his true being? When you do not know what is good for yourself, how can you know what is good for others?
Q: The adequate supply of means of livelihood is good for all. You may be God himself, but you need a well-fed body to talk to us.
M: It is you that need my body to talk to you. I am not my body, nor do I need it. I am the witness only. I have no shape of my own. You are so accustomed to think of yourselves as bodies having consciousness that you just cannot imagine consciousness as having bodies. Once you realise that bodily existence is but a state of mind, a movement in consciousness, that the ocean of consciousness is infinite and eternal, and that, when in touch with consciousness, you are the witness only, you will be able to withdraw beyond consciousness altogether.
Q: We are told there are many levels of existences. Do you exit and function on all the levels? While you are on earth, are you also in heaven (swarga)?
M: ! am nowhere to be found! I am not a thing to be given a place among other things. All things are in me, but I am not among things. You are telling me about the superstructure while I am concerned with the foundations. The superstructures rise and fall, but the foundations last. I am not interested in the transient, while you talk of nothing else.
Q: Forgive me a strange question. If somebody with a razor sharp sword would suddenly severe your head, what difference would it make to you?
M: None whatsoever. The body will lose its head, certain lines of communication will be cut, that is all. Two people talk to each other on the phone and the wire is cut. Nothing happens to the people, only they must look for some other means of communication. The Bhagavad Gita says: "the sword does not cut it". It is literally so. It is in the nature of consciousness to survive its vehicles. It is like fire. It burns up the fuel, but not itself. Just like a fire can outlast a mountain of fuel, so does consciousness survive innumerable bodies.
Q: The fuel affects the flame.
M: As long as it lasts. Change the nature of the fuel and the colour and appearance of the flame will change.
Now we are talking to each other. For this presence is needed; unless we are present, we cannot talk. But presence by itself is not enough. There must also he the desire to talk.
Above all, we want to remain conscious. We shall bear every suffering and humiliation, but we shall rather remain conscious. Unless we revolt against this craving for experience and let go the manifested altogether, there can be no relief. We shall remain trapped.
Q: You say you are the silent witness and also you are beyond consciousness. Is there no contradiction in it? If you are beyond consciousness, what are you witnessing to?
M: I am conscious and unconscious, both conscious and unconscious, neither conscious nor unconscious -- to all this I am witness -- but really there is no witness, because there is nothing to be a witness to. I am perfectly empty of all mental formations, void of mind -- yet fully aware. This I try to express my saying that I am beyond the mind.
Q: How can I reach you then?
M: Be aware of being conscious and seek the source of consciousness. That is all. Very little can be conveyed in words. It is the doing as I tell you that will bring light, not my telling you. The means do not matter much; it is the desire, the urge, the earnestness that count.
69. Transiency is Proof of Unreality
Questioner: My friend is a German and I was born in England from French parents. I am in India since over a year wandering from Ashram to Ashram.
Maharaj: Any spiritual practices (sadhanas)?
Q: Studies and meditation.
M: What did you meditate on?
Q: On what I read.
Q: What are you doing, sir?
Q: And what else?
Q: What are you talking about?
M: Do you want a lecture? Better ask something that really touches you, so that you feel strongly about it. Unless you are emotionally involved, you may argue with me, but there will be no real understanding between us. If you say: 'nothing worries me, I have no problems', it is all right with me, we can keep quiet. But if something really touches you, then there is purpose in talking.
Shall I ask you? What is the purpose of your moving from place to place?
Q: To meet people, to try to understand them.
M: What people are you trying to understand? What exactly are you after?
M: If you want integration, you must know whom you want to integrate.
Q: By meeting people and watching them, one comes to know oneself also. It goes together.
M: It does not necessarily go together.
Q: One improves the other.
M: It does not work that way. The mirror reflects the image, but the image does not improve the mirror. You are neither the mirror nor the image in the mirror. Having perfected the mirror so that it reflects correctly, truly, you can turn the mirror round and see in it a true reflection of yourself -- true as far as the mirror can reflect. But the reflection is not yourself -- you are the seer of the reflection. Do understand it clearly -- whatever you may perceive you are not what you perceive.
Q: I am the mirror and the world is the image?
M: You can see both the image and the mirror. You are neither. Who are you? Don't go by formulas. The answer is not in words. The nearest you can say in words is: I am what makes perception possible, the life beyond the experiencer and his experience.
Now, Can you separate yourself both from the mirror and the image in the mirror and stand completely alone, all by yourself?
Q: No, I cannot.
M: How do you know that you cannot? There are so many things you are doing without knowing how to do it. You digest, you circulate your blood and lymph, you move your muscles -- all without knowing how. In the same way, you perceive, you feel, you think without knowing the why and how of it. Similarly you are yourself without knowing it. There is nothing wrong with you as the Self. It is what it is to perfection. It is the mirror that is not clear and true and, therefore, gives you false images. You need not correct yourself -- only set right your idea of yourself. Learn to separate yourself from the image and the mirror, keep on remembering: I am neither the mind nor its ideas: do it patiently and with convictions and you will surely come to the direct vision of yourself as the source of being -- knowing -- loving, eternal, all-embracing all-pervading. You are the infinite focussed in a body. Now you see the body only. Try earnestly and you will come to see the infinite only.
Q: The experience of reality, when it Comes, does it last?
M: All experience is necessarily transient. But the ground of all experience is immovable. Nothing that may be called an event will last. But some events purify the mind and some stain it. Moments of deep insight and all-embracing love purify the mind, while desires and fears, envies and anger, blind beliefs and intellectual arrogance pollute and dull the psyche.
Q: Is self-realisation so important?
M: Without it you will be consumed by desires and fears, repeating themselves meaninglessly in endless suffering. Most of the people do not know that there can be an end to pain. But once they have heard the good news, obviously going beyond all strife and struggle is the most urgent task that can be. You know that you can be free and now it is up to you. Either you remain forever hungry and thirsty, longing, searching, grabbing, holding, ever losing and sorrowing, or go out whole-heartedly in search of the state of timeless perfection to which nothing can be added, from which nothing -- taken away. In it all desires and fears are absent, not because they were given up, but because they have lost their meaning.
Q: So far I have been following you. Now, what am I expected to do?
M: There is nothing to do. Just be. Do nothing. Be. No climbing mountains and sitting in caves. I do not even say: 'be yourself', since you do not know yourself. Just be. Having seen that you are neither the 'outer' world of perceivables, nor the 'inner' world of thinkables, that you are neither body nor mind -- just be.
Q: Surely, there are degrees of realisation.
M: There are no steps to self-realisation. There is nothing gradual about it. It happens suddenly and is irreversible. You rotate into a new dimension, seen from which the previous ones are mere abstractions. Just like on sunrise you see things as they are, so on self-realisation you see everything as it is. The world of illusions is left behind.
Q: In the state of realisation do things change? They become colourful and full of meaning?
M: The experience is quite right, but it is not the experience of reality (sadanubhav), but of harmony (satvanubhav) of the universe.
Q: Nevertheless, there is progress.
M: There can be progress only in the preparation (sadhana). realisation is sudden. The fruit ripens slowly, but falls suddenly and without return.
Q: I am physically and mentally at peace. What more do I need?
M: Yours may not be the ultimate state. You will recognise that you have returned to your natural state by a complete absence of all desire and fear. After all, at the root of all desire and fear is the feeling of not being what you are. Just as a dislocated joint pains only as long as it is out of shape, and is forgotten as soon as it is set right, so is all self-concern a symptom of mental distortion which disappears as soon as one is in the normal state.
Q: Yes, but what is the sadhana for achieving the natural state?
M: Hold on to the sense 'I am' to the exclusion of everything else. When thus the mind becomes completely silent, it shines with a new light and vibrates with new knowledge. It all comes spontaneously, you need only hold on to the 'I am'. Just like emerging from sleep or a state of rapture you feel rested and yet you cannot explain why and how you come to feel so well, in the same way on realisation you feel complete, fulfilled, free from the pleasure-pain complex, and yet not always able to explain what happened, why and how. You can put it only in negative terms: 'Nothing is wrong with me any longer.' It is only by comparison with the past that you know that you are out of it. Otherwise -- you are just yourself. Don't try to convey it to others. If you can, it is not the real thing. Be silent and watch it expressing itself in action.
Q: If you could tell me what I shall become, it may help me to watch over my development.
M: How can anybody tell you what you shall become when there is no becoming? You merely discover what you are. All moulding oneself to a pattern is a grievous waste of time. Think neither of the past nor of the future, just be.
Q: How can I just be? Changes are inevitable.
M: Changes are inevitable in the changeful, but you are not subject to them. You are the changeless background, against which changes are perceived.
Q: Everything changes, the background also changes. There is no need of a changeless background to notice changes. The self is momentary -- it is merely the point where the past meets the future.
M: Of course the self based on memory is momentary. But such self demands unbroken continuity behind it. You know from experience that there are gaps when your self is forgotten. What brings it back to life? What wakes you up in the morning? There must be some constant factor bridging the gaps in consciousness. If you watch carefully you will find that even your daily consciousness is in flashes, with gaps intervening all the time. What is in the gaps? What can there be but your real being, that is timeless; mind and mindlessness are one to it.
Q: Is there any particular place you would advise me to go to for spiritual attainment?
M: The only proper place is within. The outer world neither can help nor hinder. No system, no pattern of action will take you to your goal. Give up all working for a future, concentrate totally on the now, be concerned only with your response to every movement of life as it happens.
Q: What is the cause of the urge to roam about?
M: There is no cause. You merely dream that you roam about. In a few years your stay in India will appear as a dream to you. You will dream some other dream at that time. Do realise that it is not you who moves from dream to dream, but the dreams flow before you and you are the immutable witness. No happening affects your real being -- this is the absolute truth.
Q: Cannot I move about physically and keep steady inwardly?
M: You can, but what purpose does it serve? If you are earnest, you will find that in the end you will get fed up with roaming and regret the waste of energy and time. To find your self you need not take a single step.
Q: Is there any difference between the experience of the Self (atman) and of the Absolute (brahman)?
M: There can be no experience of the Absolute as it is beyond all experience. On the other hand, the self is the experiencing factor in every experience and thus, in a way, validates the multiplicity of experiences. The world may be full of things of great value, but if there is nobody to buy them, they have no price. The Absolute contains everything experienceable, but without the experience they are as nothing. That which makes the experience possible is the Absolute. That which makes it actual is the Self.
Q: Don't we reach the Absolute through a gradation of experiences? Beginning with the grossest, we end with the most sublime.
M: There can be no experience without desire for it. There can be gradation between desires, but between the most sublime desire and the freedom from all desire there is an abyss which must be crossed. The unreal may look real, but it is transient. The real is not afraid of time.
Q: Is not the unreal the expression of the real?
M: How can it be? It is like saying that truth expresses itself in dreams. To the real the unreal is not. It appears to be real only because you believe in it. Doubt it, and it ceases. When you are in love with somebody, you give it reality -- you imagine your love to be all-powerful and everlasting. When it comes to an end, you say: 'I thought it was real, but it wasn't'. Transiency is the best proof of unreality. What is limited in time and space, and applicable to one person only, is not real. The real is for all and forever.
Above everything else you cherish yourself. You would accept nothing in exchange for your existence. The desire to be is the strongest of all desires and will go only on the realisation of your true nature.
Q: Even in the unreal there is a touch of reality.
M: Yes, the reality you impart to it by taking it to be real. Having convinced yourself, you are bound by your conviction. When the sun shines, colours appear. When it sets, they disappear. Where are the colours without the light?
Q: This is thinking in terms of duality.
M: All thinking is in duality. In identity no thought survives.
70. God is the End of All Desire and Knowledge
Maharaj: Where are you coming from? What have you come for?
Questioner: I come from America and my friend is from the Republic of Ireland. I came about six months ago and I was travelling from Ashram to Ashram. My friend came on his own.
M: What have you seen?
Q: I have been at Sri Ramanashram and also I have visited Rishikesh. Can I ask you what is your opinion of Sri Ramana Maharshi?
M: We are both in the same ancient state. But what do you know of Maharshi? You take yourself to be a name and a body, so all you perceive are names and bodies.
Q: Were you to meet the Maharshi, what would happen?
M: Probably we would feel quite happy. We may even exchange a few words.
Q: But would he recognise you as a liberated man?
M: Of course. As a man recognises a man, so a jnani recognises a jnani. You cannot appreciate what you have not experienced. You are what you think yourself to be, but you cannot think yourself to be what you have not experienced.
Q: To become an engineer I must learn engineering. To become God, what must I learn?
M: You must unlearn everything. God is the end of all desire and knowledge.
Q: You mean to say that I become God merely by giving up the desire to become God?
M: All desires must be given up, because by desiring you take the shape of your desires. When no desires remain, you revert to your natural state.
Q: How do I come to know that I have achieved perfection?
M: You can not know perfection, you can know only imperfection. For knowledge to be, there must be separation and disharmony. You can know what you are not, but you can not know your real being. You can be only what you are. The entire approach is through understanding, which is in the seeing of the false as false. But to understand, you must observe from outside.
Q: The Vedantic concept of Maya, illusion, applies to the manifested. Therefore our knowledge of the manifested is unreliable. But we should be able to trust our knowledge of the unmanifested.
M: There can be no knowledge of the unmanifested. The potential is unknowable. Only the actual can be known.
Q: Why should the knower remain unknown?
M: The knower knows the known. Do you know the knower? Who is the knower of the knower? You want to know the unmanifested. Can you say you know the manifested?
Q: I know things and ideas and their relations. It is the sum total of all my experiences.
Q: Well, all actual experiences. I admit I cannot know what did not happen.
M: If the manifested is the sum total of all actual experiences, including their experiencers, how much of the total do you know? A very small part indeed. And what is the little you know?
Q: Some sensory experiences as related to myself.
M: Not even that. You only know that you react. Who reacts and to what, you do not know. You know on contact that you exist -- 'I am'. The 'I am this', 'I am that' are imaginary.
Q: I know the manifested because I participate in it. I admit, my part in it is very small, yet it is as real as the totality of it. And what is more important, I give it meaning. Without me the world is dark and silent.
M: A firefly illumining the world! You don't give meaning to the world, you find it. Dive deep into yourself and find the source from where all meaning flows. Surely it is not the superficial mind that can give meaning.
Q: What makes me limited and superficial?
M: The total is open and available, but you will not take it. You are attached to the little person you think yourself to be. Your desires are narrow, your ambitions -- petty. After all, without a centre of perception where would be the manifested? Unperceived, the manifested is as good as the unmanifested. And you are the perceiving point, the non-dimensional source of all dimensions. Know yourself as the total.
Q: How can a point contain a universe?
M: There is enough space in a point for an infinity of universes. There is no lack of capacity. Self-limitation is the only problem. But you cannot run away from yourself. However far you go, you come back to yourself and to the need of understanding this point, which is as nothing and yet the source of everything.
Q: I came to India in search of a Yoga teacher. I am still in search.
M: What kind of Yoga do you want to practice, the Yoga of getting, or the Yoga of giving up?
Q: Don't they come to the same in the end?
M: How can they? One enslaves, the other liberates. The motive matters supremely. Freedom comes through renunciation. All possession is bondage.
Q: What I have the strength and the courage to hold on to, why should I give up? And if I have not the strength, how can I give up? I do not understand this need of giving up. When I want something, why should I not pursue it? Renunciation is for the weak.
M: If you do not have the wisdom and the strength to give up, just look at your possessions. Your mere looking will burn them up. If you can stand outside your mind, you will soon find that total renunciation of possessions and desires is the most obviously reasonable thing to do. You create the world and then worry about it. Becoming selfish makes you weak. If you think you have the strength and courage to desire, it is because you are young and inexperienced. Invariably the object of desire destroys the means of acquiring it and then itself withers away. It is all for the best, because it teaches you to shun desire like poison.
Q: How am I to practice desirelessness?
M: No need of practice. No need of any acts of renunciation. Just turn your mind away, that is all. Desire is merely the fixation of the mind on an idea. Get it out of its groove by denying it attention.
Q: That is all?
M: Yes, that is all. Whatever may be the desire or fear, don't dwell upon it. Try and see for yourself. Here and there you may forget, it does not matter. Go back to your attempts till the brushing away of every desire and fear, of every reaction becomes automatic.
Q: How can one live without emotions?
M: You can have all the emotions you want, but beware of reactions, of induced emotions. Be entirely self-determined and ruled from within, not from without. Merely giving up a thing to secure a better one is not true relinquishment. Give it up because you see its valuelessness. As you keep on giving up, you will find that you grow spontaneously in intelligence and power and inexhaustible love and joy.
Q: Why so much insistence on relinquishing all desires and fears? Are they not natural?
M: They are not. They are entirely mind-made. You have to give up everything to know that you need nothing, not even your body. Your needs are unreal and your efforts are meaningless. You imagine that your possessions protect you. In reality they make you vulnerable. realise yourself as away from all that can be pointed at as 'this' or 'that'. You are unreachable by any sensory experience or verbal construction. Turn away from them. Refuse to impersonate.
Q: After I have heard you, what am I to do?
M: Only hearing will not help you much. You must keep it in mind and ponder over it and try to understand the state of mind which makes me say what I say. I speak from truth; stretch your hand and take it. You are not what you think yourself to be, I assure you. The image you have of yourself is made up from memories and is purely accidental.
Q: What I am is the result of my karma.
M: What you appear to be, you are not. Karma is only a word you have learnt to repeat. You have never been, nor shall ever be a person. Refuse to consider yourself as one. But as long as you do not even doubt yourself to be a Mr. S0-and-so, there is little hope. When you refuse to open your eyes, what can you be shown?
Q: I imagine karma to be a mysterious power that urges me towards perfection.
M: That's what people told you. You are already perfect, here and now. The perfectible is not you. You imagine yourself to be what you are not -- stop it. It is the cessation that is important, not what you are going to stop.
Q: Did not karma compel me to become what I am?
M: Nothing compels. You are as you believe yourself to be. Stop believing.
Q: Here you are sitting on your seat and talking to me. What compels you is your karma.
M: Nothing compels me. I do what needs doing. But you do so many unnecessary things. It is your refusal to examine that creates karma. It is the indifference to your own suffering that perpetuates it.
Q: Yes, it is true. What can put an end to this indifference?
M: The urge must come from within as a wave of detachment, or compassion.
Q: Could I meet this urge half way?
M: Of course. See your own condition, see the condition of the world.
Q: We were told about karma and reincarnation, evolution and Yoga, masters and disciples. What are we to do with all this knowledge?
M: Leave it all behind you. Forget it. Go forth, unburdened with ideas and beliefs. Abandon all verbal structures, all relative truth, all tangible objectives. The Absolute can be reached by absolute devotion only. Don't be half-hearted.
Q: I must begin with some absolute truth. Is there any?
M: Yes, there is, the feeling: 'I am'. Begin with that.
Q: Nothing else is true?
M: All else is neither true nor false. It seems real when it appears, it disappears when it is denied. A transient thing is a mystery.
Q: I thought the real is the mystery.
M: How can it be? The real is simple, open, clear and kind, beautiful and joyous. It is completely free of contradictions. It is ever new, ever fresh, endlessly creative. Being and non-being, life and death, all distinctions merge in it.
Q: I can admit that all is false. But, does it make my mind nonexistent?
M: The mind is what it thinks. To make it true, think true.
Q: If the shape of things is mere appearance, what are they in reality?
M: In reality there is only perception. The perceiver and the perceived are conceptual, the fact of perceiving is actual.
Q: Where does the Absolute come in?
M: The Absolute is the birthplace of Perceiving. It makes perception possible.
But too much analysis leads you nowhere. There is in you the core of being which is beyond analysis, beyond the mind. You can know it in action only. Express it in daily life and its light will grow ever brighter.
The legitimate function of the mind is to tell you what is not. But if you want positive knowledge, you must go beyond the mind.
Q: In all the universe is there one single thing of value?
M: Yes, the power of love.