By Nisargadatta Maharaj
31. Do not Undervalue Attention
As I look at you, you seem to be a poor man with very limited means, facing
all the problems of poverty and old age, like everybody else.
Maharaj: Were I very rich, what difference would it make? I am what I am. What else can I be? I am neither rich nor poor, I am myself.
Q: Yet, you are experiencing pleasure and pain.
M: I am experiencing these in consciousness, but I am neither consciousness, nor its content.
Q: You say that in our real being we are all equal. How is it that your experience is so different from ours.
M: My actual experience is not different. It is my evaluation and attitude that differ. I see the same world as you do, but not the same way. There is nothing mysterious about it. Everybody sees the world through the idea he has of himself. As you think yourself to be, so you think the world to be. If you imagine yourself as separate from the world, the world will appear as separate from you and you will experience desire and fear. I do not see the world as separate from me and so there is nothing for me to desire, or fear.
Q: You are a point of light in the world. Not everybody is.
M: There is absolutely no difference between me and others, except in my knowing myself as I am. I am all. I know it for certain and you do not.
Q: So we differ all the same.
M: No, we do not. The difference is only in the mind and temporary. I was like you, you will be like me.
Q: God made a most diversified world.
M: The diversity is in you only. See yourself as you are and you will see the world as it is -- a single block of reality, indivisible, indescribable. Your own creative power projects upon it a picture and all your questions refer to the picture.
Q: A Tibetan Yogi wrote that God creates the world for a purpose and runs it according to a plan. The purpose is good and the plan is most wise.
M: All this is temporary, while I am dealing with the eternal. Gods and their universes come and go, avatars follow each other in endless succession, and in the end we are back at the source. I talk only of the timeless source of all the gods with all their universes, past, present and future.
Q: Do you know them all? Do you remember them?
M: When a few boys stage a play for fun, what is there to see and to remember?
Q: Why is half humanity male and half female?
M: For their happiness. The impersonal (avyakta) becomes the personal (vyakta) for the sake of happiness in relationship. By the grace of my Guru I can look with equal eye on the impersonal as well as the personal. Both are one to me. In life the personal merges in the impersonal.
Q: How does the personal emerge from the impersonal?
M: The two are but aspects of one Reality. It is not correct to talk of one preceding the other. All these ideas belong to the waking state.
Q: What brings in the waking state?
M: At the root of all creation lies desire. Desire and imagination foster and reinforce each other. The fourth state (turiya) is a state of pure witnessing, detached awareness, passionless and wordless. It is like space, unaffected by whatever it contains. Bodily and mental troubles do not reach it -- they are outside, 'there', while the witness is always 'here'.
Q: What is real, the subjective or the objective? I am inclined to believe that the objective universe is the real one and my subjective psyche is changeful and transient. You seem to claim reality for your inner, subjective states and deny all reality to the concrete, external world.
M: Both the subjective and the objective are changeful and transient. There is nothing real about them. Find the permanent in the fleeting, the one constant factor in every experience.
Q: What is this constant factor?
M: My giving it various names and pointing it out in many ways will not help you much, unless you have the capacity to see. A dim-sighted man will not see the parrot on the branch of a tree, however much you may prompt him to look. At best he will see your pointed finger. First purify your vision, learn to see instead of staring, and you will perceive the parrot. Also you must be eager to see. You need both clarity and earnestness for self-knowledge. You need maturity of heart and mind, which comes through earnest application in daily life of whatever little you have understood. There is no such thing as compromise in Yoga.
If you want to sin, sin wholeheartedly and openly. Sins too have their lessons to teach the earnest sinner, as virtues -- the earnest saint. It is the mixing up the two that is so disastrous. Nothing can block you so effectively as compromise, for it shows lack of earnestness, without which nothing can be done.
Q: I approve of austerity, but in practice I am all for luxury. The habit of chasing pleasure and shunning pain is so ingrained in me, that all my good intentions, quite alive on the level of theory, find no roots in my day-to-day life. To tell me that I am not honest does not help me, for I just do not know how to make myself honest.
M: You are neither honest nor dishonest -- giving names to mental states is good only for expressing your approval or disapproval. The problem is not yours -- it is your mind's only. Begin by disassociating yourself from your mind. Resolutely remind yourself that you are not the mind and that its problems are not yours.
Q: I may go on telling myself: 'I am not the mind, I am not concerned with its problems,' but the mind remains and its problems remain just as they were. Now, please do not tell me that it is because I am not earnest enough and I should be more earnest! I know it and admit it and only ask you -- how is it done?
M: At least you are asking! Good enough, for a start. Go on pondering, wondering, being anxious to find a way. Be conscious of yourself, watch your mind, give it your full attention. Don't look for quick results; there may be none within your noticing. Unknown to you, your psyche will undergo a change, there will be more clarity in your thinking, charity in your feeling, purity in your behaviour. You need not aim at these -- you will witness the change all the same. For, what you are now is the result of inattention and what you become will be the fruit of attention.
Q: Why should mere attention make all the difference?
M: So far your life was dark and restless (tamas and rajas). Attention, alertness, awareness, clarity, liveliness, vitality, are all manifestations of integrity, oneness with your true nature (sattva). It is in the nature of sattva to reconcile and neutralise tamas and rajas and rebuild the personality in accordance with the true nature of the self. Sattva is the faithful servant of the self; ever attentive and obedient.
Q: And I shall come to it through mere attention?
M: Do not undervalue attention. It means interest and also love. To know, to do, to discover, or to create you must give your heart to it -- which means attention. All the blessings flow from it.
Q: You advise us to concentrate on 'I am'. Is this too a form of attention?
M: What else? Give your undivided attention to the most important in your life -- yourself. Of your personal universe you are the centre -- without knowing the centre what else can you know?
Q: But how can I know myself? To know myself I must be away from myself. But what is away from myself cannot be myself. So, it looks that I cannot know myself, only what I take to be myself.
M: Quite right. As you cannot see your face, but only its reflection in the mirror, so you can know only your image reflected in the stainless mirror of pure awareness.
Q: How am I to get such stainless mirror?
M: Obviously, by removing stains. See the stains and remove them. The ancient teaching is fully valid.
Q: What is seeing and what is removing?
M: The nature of the perfect mirror is such that you cannot see it. Whatever you can see is bound to be a stain. Turn away from it, give it up, know it as unwanted.
Q: All perceivables, are they stains?
M: All are stains.
Q: The entire world is a stain.
M: Yes, it is.
Q: How awful! So, the universe is of no value?
M: It is of tremendous value. By going beyond it you realise yourself.
Q: But why did it come into being in the first instance?
M: You will know it when it ends.
Q: Will it ever end?
M: Yes, for you.
Q: When did it begin?
Q: When will it end?
Q: It does not end now?
M: You don't let it.
Q: I want to let it.
M: You don't. All your life is connected with it. Your past and future, your desires and fears, all have their roots in the world. Without the world where are you, who are you?
Q: But that is exactly what I came to find out.
M: . And I am telling you exactly this: find a foothold beyond and all will be clear and easy.
32. Life is the Supreme Guru
Questioner: We two came from far off countries; one of us is British, the other American. The world in which we were born is falling apart and, being young, we are concerned. The old people hope they will die their own death, but the young have no such hope. Some of us may refuse to kill, but none can refuse to be killed. Can we hope to set the world right within our lifetime?
Maharaj: What makes you think that the world is going to perish?
Q: The instruments of destruction have become unbelievably potent. Also, our very productivity has become destructive of nature and of our cultural and social values.
M: You are talking of the present times. It has been so everywhere and always. But the distressing situation may be temporary and local. Once over, it will be forgotten.
Q: The scale of the impending catastrophe is unbelievably big. We live in the midst of an explosion.
M: Each man suffers alone and dies alone. Numbers are irrelevant. There is as much death when a million die as when one perishes.
Q: Nature kills by the millions, but this does not frighten me. There may be tragedy or mystery in it, but no cruelty. What horrifies me is man-made suffering, destruction and desolation. Nature is magnificent in its doings and undoings. But there is meanness and madness in the acts of man.
M: Right. So, it is not suffering and death that are your problem, but the meanness and madness at their root. Is not meanness also a form of madness? And is not madness the misuse of the mind? Humanity's problem lies in this misuse of the mind only. All the treasures of nature and spirit are open to man who will use his mind rightly.
Q: What is the right use of mind?
M: Fear and greed cause the misuse of the mind. The right use of mind is in the service of love, of life, of truth, of beauty.
Q: Easier said than done. Love of truth, of man, goodwill -- what luxury! We need plenty of it to set the world right, but who will provide?
M: You can spend an eternity looking elsewhere for truth and love, intelligence and goodwill, imploring God and man -- all in vain. You must begin in yourself, with yourself -- this is the inexorable law. You cannot change the image without changing the face. First realise that your world is only a reflection of yourself and stop finding fault with the reflection. Attend to yourself, set yourself right -- mentally and emotionally. The physical will follow automatically. You talk so much of reforms: economic, social, political. Leave alone the reforms and mind the reformer. What kind of world can a man create who is stupid, greedy, heartless?
Q: If we have to wait for a change of heart, we shall have to wait indefinitely. Yours is a counsel of perfection, which is also a counsel of despair. When all are perfect, the world will be perfect. What useless truism!
M: I did not say it. I only said: You cannot change the world before changing yourself. I did not say -- before changing everybody. It is neither necessary, nor possible to change others. But if you can change yourself you will find that no other change is needed. To change the picture you merely change the film, you do not attack the cinema screen!
Q: How can you be so sure of yourself? How do you know that what you say is true?
M: It is not of myself that I am sure, I am sure of you. All you need is to stop searching outside what can be found only within. Set your vision right before you operate. You are suffering from acute misapprehension. Clarify your mind, purify your heart, sanctify your life -- this is the quickest way to a change of your world.
Q: So many saints and mystics lived and died. They did not change my world.
M: How could they? Your world is not theirs, nor is their yours.
Q: Surely there is a factual world common to all.
M: The world of things, of energy and matter? Even if there were such a common world of things and forces, it is not the world in which we live. Ours is a world of feelings and ideas, of attractions and repulsions, of scales of values, of motives and incentives, a mental world altogether. Biologically we need very little, our problems are of a different order. Problems created by desires and fears and wrong ideas can be solved only on the level of the mind. You must conquer your own mind and for this you must go beyond it.
Q: What does it mean to go beyond the mind.
M: You have gone beyond the body, haven't you? You do not closely follow your digestion, circulation or elimination. These have become automatic. In the same way the mind should work automatically, without calling for attention. This will not happen unless the mind works faultlessly. We are, most of our time mind and body-conscious, because they constantly call for help. Pain and suffering are only the body and the mind screaming for attention. To go beyond the body you must be healthy: To go beyond the mind, you must have your mind in perfect order. You cannot leave a mess behind and go beyond. The mess will bog you up. 'Pick up your rubbish' seems to be the universal law. And a just law too.
Q: Am I permitted to ask you how did you go beyond the mind?
M: By the grace of my Guru.
Q: What shape his grace took?
M: He told me what is true.
Q: What did he tell you?
M: He told me I am the Supreme Reality.
Q: What did you do about it?
M: I trusted him and remembered it.
Q: Is that all?
M: Yes, I remembered him; I remembered what he said.
Q: You mean to say that this was enough?
M: What more needs be done? It was quite a lot to remember the Guru and his words. My advice to you is even less difficult than this -- just remember yourself. 'I am', is enough to heal your mind and take you beyond. Just have some trust. I don't mislead you. Why should l? Do I want anything from you. I wish you well -- such is my nature. Why should I mislead you?
Commonsense too will tell you that to fulfil a desire you must keep your mind on it. If you want to know your true nature, you must have yourself in mind all the time, until the secret of your being stands revealed.
Q: Why should self-remembrance bring one to self-realisation?
M: Because they are but two aspects of the same state. Selfremembrance is in the mind, self-realisation is beyond the mind. The image in the mirror is of the face beyond the mirror.
Q: Fair enough. But what is the purpose?
M: To help others, one must be beyond the need of help.
Q: All I want is to be happy.
M: Be happy to make happy.
Q: Let others take care of themselves.
M: Sir, you are not separate. The happiness you cannot share is spurious. Only the shareable is truly desirable.
Q: Right. But do I need a Guru? What you tell me is simple and convincing. I shall remember it. This does not make you my Guru.
M: it is not the worship of a person that is crucial, but the steadiness and depth of your devotion to the task. Life itself is the Supreme Guru; be attentive to its lessons and obedient to its commands. When you personalise their source, you have an outer Guru; when you take them from life directly, the Guru is within. Remember, wonder, ponder, live with it, love it, grow into it, grow with it, make it your own -- the word of your Guru, outer or inner. Put in all and you will get all. I was doing it. All my time I was giving to my Guru and to what he told me.
Q: I am a writer by profession. Can you give me some advice, for me specifically?
M: Writing is both a talent and a skill. Grow in talent and develop in skill. Desire what is worth desiring and desire it well. Just like you pick your way in a crowd, passing between people, so you find your way between events, without missing your general direction. It is easy, if you are earnest.
Q: So many times you mention the need of being earnest. But we are not men of single will. We are congeries of desires and needs, instincts and promptings. They crawl over each other, sometimes one, sometimes another dominating, but never for long.
M: There are no needs, desires only.
Q: To eat, to drink, to shelter one's body; to live?
M: The desire to live is the one fundamental desire. All else depends on it.
Q: We live, because we must.
M: We live, because we crave sensory existence.
Q: A thing so universal cannot be wrong.
M: Not wrong, of course. In its own place and time nothing is wrong. But when you are concerned with truth, with reality, you must question every thing, your very life. By asserting the necessity of sensory and intellectual experience you narrow down your enquiry to search for comfort.
Q: I seek happiness, not comfort.
M: Beyond comfort of mind and body what happiness do you know?
Q: Is there any other?
M: Find out for yourself. Question every urge, hold no desire legitimate. Empty of possession, physical and mental, free of all self-concern, be open for discovery.
Q: It is a part of Indian spiritual tradition that mere living in the proximity of a saint or sage is conducive to liberation and no other means are needed. Why don't you organise an Ashram so that people could live near you?
M: The moment I create an institution I become its prisoner. As a matter of fact I am available to all. Common roof and food will not make people more welcome. 'Living near' does not mean breathing the same air. It means trusting and obeying, not letting the good intentions of the teacher go to waste. Have your Guru always in your heart and remember his instructions -- this is real abidance with the true. Physical proximity is least important. Make your entire life an expression of your faith and love for your teacher -- this is real dwelling with the Guru.
33. Everything Happens by Itself
Questioner: Does a jnani die?
Maharaj: He is beyond life and death. What we take to be inevitable -- to be born and to die -- appears to him but a way of expressing movement in the Immovable, change in the changeless, end in the endless. To the jnani it is obvious that nothing is born and nothing dies, nothing lasts and nothing changes, all is as it is -- timelessly.
Q: You say the jnani is beyond. Beyond what? Beyond knowledge?
M: Knowledge has its rising and setting. Consciousness comes into being and goes out of being. It is a matter of daily occurrence and observation. We all know that sometimes we are conscious and sometimes not. When we are not conscious, it appears to us as a darkness or a blank. But a jnani is aware of himself as neither conscious nor unconscious, but purely aware, a witness to the three states of the mind and their contents.
Q: When does this witnessing begin?
M: To a jnani nothing has beginning or ending. As salt dissolves in water, so does everything dissolve into pure being. Wisdom is eternally negating the unreal. To see the unreal is wisdom. Beyond this lies the inexpressible.
Q: There is in me the conviction: 'I am the body' Granted, I am talking from unwisdom. But the state of feeling oneself the body, the body-mind, the mind-body, or even pure mind -- when did it begin?
M: You cannot speak of a beginning of consciousness. The very ideas of beginning and time are within consciousness. To talk meaningfully of the beginning of anything, you must step out of it. And the moment you step out, you realise that there is no such thing and never was. There is only reality, in which no "thing' has any being on its own. Like waves are inseparable from the ocean, so is all existence rooted in being.
Q: The fact is that here and now I am asking you: when did the feeling 'I am the body' arise? At my birth? or this morning?
Q: But I remember having it yesterday too!
M: The memory of yesterday is now only.
Q: But surely I exist in time. I have a past and a future.
M: That is how you imagine -- now.
Q: There must have been a beginning.
Q: And what about ending?
M: What has no beginning cannot end.
Q: But I am conscious of my question.
M: A false question cannot be answered. It can only be seen as false.
Q: To me it is real.
M: When did it appear real to you? Now.
Q: Yes, it is quite real to me -- now.
M: What is real about your question? It is a state of mind. No state of mind can be more real than the mind itself. Is the mind real? It is but a collection of states, each of them transitory. How can a succession of transitory states be considered real?
Q: Like beads on a string, events follow events -- for ever.
M: They are all strung on the basic idea: 'I am the body'. But even this is a mental state and does not last. It comes and goes like all other states. The illusion of being the body-mind is there, only because it is not investigated. Non-investigation is the thread on which all the states of mind are strung. It is like darkness in a closed room. It is there -- apparently. But when the room is opened, where does it go? It goes nowhere, because it was not there. All states of mind, all names and forms of existence are rooted in non-enquiry, non-investigation, in imagination and credulity. It is right to say 'I am', but to say 'I am this', 'I am that' is a sign of not enquiring, not examining, of mental weakness or lethargy.
Q: If all is light, how did darkness arise? How can there be darkness in the midst of light?
M: There is no darkness in the midst of light. Self-forgetfulness is the darkness. When we are absorbed in other things, in the not-self, we forget the self. There is nothing unnatural about it. But, why forget the self through excess of attachment? Wisdom lies in never forgetting the self as the ever-present source of both the experiencer and his experience.
Q: In my present state the 'I am the body' idea comes spontaneously, while the 'I am pure being' idea must be imposed on the mind as something true but not experienced.
M: Yes, sadhana (practice) consists in reminding oneself forcibly of one's pure 'being-ness', of not being anything in particular, nor a sum of particulars, not even the totality of all particulars, which make up a universe. All exists in the mind, even the body is an integration in the mind of a vast number of sensory perceptions, each perception also a mental state. If you say: 'I am the body', show it.
Q: Here it is.
M: Only when you think of it. Both mind and body are intermittent states. The sum total of these flashes creates the illusion of existence. Enquire what is permanent in the transient, real in the unreal. This is sadhana.
Q: The fact is that I am thinking of myself as the body.
M: Think of yourself by all means. Only don't bring the idea of a body into the picture. There is only a stream of sensations, perceptions, memories and ideations. The body is an abstraction, created by our tendency to seek unity in diversity -- which again is not wrong.
Q: I am being told that to think 'I am the body' is a blemish in the mind.
M: Why talk like this? Such expressions create problems. The self is the source of all, and of all -- the final destination. Nothing is external.
Q: When the body idea becomes obsessive, is it not altogether wrong?
M: There is nothing wrong in the idea of a body, nor even in the idea 'I am the body'. But limiting oneself to one body only is a mistake. In reality all existence, every form, is my own, within my consciousness. I cannot tell what I am because words can describe only what I am not. I am, and because I am, all is. But I am beyond consciousness and, therefore, in consciousness I cannot say what I am. Yet, I am. The question 'Who am I' has no answer. No experience can answer it, for the self is beyond experience.
Q: Still, the question 'Who am I' must be of some use.
M: It has no answer in consciousness and, therefore, helps to go beyond consciousness.
Q: Here I am -- in the present moment. What is real in it, and what is not? Now, please don't tell me that my question is wrong. Questioning my questions leads me nowhere.
M: Your question is not wrong. It is unnecessary. You said: 'Here and now I am'. Stop there, this is real. Don't turn a fact into a question. There lies your mistake. You are neither knowing nor not-knowing, neither mind nor matter; don't attempt to describe yourself in terms of mind and matter.
Q: Just now a boy came to you with a problem. You told him a few words and he went away. Did you help him?
M: Of course.
Q: Wow can you be so sure?
M: To help is my nature.
Q: How did you come to know It?
M: No need to know. It operates by itself.
Q: Still you have made a statement. On what is it based?
M: On what people tell me. But it is you who asks for proofs. I do not need them. Setting things right lies in my very nature, which is satyam, shivam, sundaram (the true, the good, the beautiful).
Q: When a man comes to you for advice and you give him advice, wherefrom does it come and by what power does it help?
M: His own being affects his mind and induces a response.
Q: And what is your role?
M: In me the man and his self come together.
Q: Why does not the self help the man without you?
M: But I am the self! You imagine me as separate, hence your question. There is no 'my self' and 'his self'. There is the Self, the only Self of all. Misled by the diversity of names and shapes, minds and bodies, you imagine multiple selves. We both are the self, but you seem to be unconvinced. This talk of personal self and universal self is the learner's stage; go beyond, don't be stuck in duality.
Q: Let us come back to the man in need of help. He comes to you.
M: If he comes, he is sure to get help. Because he was destined to get help, he came. There is nothing fanciful about it. I cannot help some and refuse others. All who come are helped, for such is the law. Only the shape help takes varies according to the need.
Q: Why must he come here to get advice? Can't he get it from within?
M: He will not listen. His mind is turned outward. But in fact all experience is in the mind, and even his coming to me and getting help is all within himself. Instead of finding an answer within himself, he imagines an answer from without. To me there is no me, no man and no giving. All this is merely a flicker in the mind. I am infinite peace and silence in which nothing appears, for all that appears -- disappears. Nobody comes for help, nobody offers help, nobody gets help. It is all but a display in consciousness.
Q: Yet the power to help is there and there is somebody or something that displays that power, call it God or Self or the Universal Mind. The name does not matter, but the fact does.
M: This is the stand the body-mind takes. The pure mind sees things as they are -- bubbles in consciousness. These bubbles are appearing, disappearing and reappearing -- without having real being. No particular cause can be ascribed to them, for each is caused by all and affects all. Each bubble is a body and all these bodies are mine.
Q: Do you mean to say, that you have the power to do everything rightly?
M: There is no power as separate from me. It is inherent in my very nature. Call it creativity. Out of a lump of gold you can make many ornaments -- each will remain gold. Similarly, in whatever role I may appear and whatever function I may perform -- I remain what I am: the 'I am' immovable, unshakable, independent. What you call the universe, nature, is my spontaneous creativity. Whatever happens -- happens. But such is my nature that all ends in joy.
Q: I have a case of a boy gone blind because his stupid mother fed him methyl alcohol. I am requesting you to help him. You are full of compassion and, obviously, eager to help. By what power can you help him?
M: His case is registered in consciousness. It is there -- indelibly. Consciousness will operate.
Q: Does it make any difference that I ask you to help?
M: Your asking is a part of the boy's blindness. Because he is blind, you ask. You have added nothing.
Q: But your help will be a new factor?
M: No, all is contained in the boy's blindness. All is in it -- the mother, the boy, you and me and all else. It is one event.
Q: You mean to say that even our discussing the boy's case was predestined?
M: How else? All things contain their future. The boy appears in consciousness. I am beyond. I do not issue orders to consciousness. I know that it is in the nature of awareness to set things right. Let consciousness look after its creations! The boy's sorrow, your pity, my listening and consciousness acting -- all this is one single fact -- don't split it into components and then ask questions.
Q: How strangely does your mind work?
M: You are strange, not me. I am normal. I am sane. I see things as they are, and therefore l am not afraid of them. But you are afraid of reality.
Q: Why should l?
M: It is ignorance of yourself that makes you afraid and also unaware that you are afraid. Don't try not to be afraid. Break down the wall of ignorance first.
People are afraid to die, because they do not know what is death. The jnani has died before his death, he saw that there was nothing to be afraid of. The moment you know your real being, you are afraid of nothing. Death gives freedom and power. To be free in the world, you must die to the world. Then the universe is your own, it becomes your body, an expression and a tool. The happiness of being absolutely free is beyond description. On the other hand, he who is afraid of freedom cannot die.
Q: You mean that one who cannot die, cannot live?
M: Put it as you like; attachment is bondage, detachment is freedom. To crave is to slave.
Q: Does it follow that if you are saved, the world is saved?
M: As a whole the world does not need saving. Man makes mistakes and creates sorrow; when it enters the field of awareness, the consciousness of a jnani, it is set right. Such is his nature.
Q: We can observe what may be called spiritual progress. A selfish man turns religious, controls himself, refines his thoughts and feelings, takes to spiritual practice, realises his true being. Is such progress ruled by causality, or is it accidental?
M: From my point of view everything happens by itself, quite spontaneously. But man imagines that he works for an incentive, towards a goal. He has always a reward in mind and strives for it.
Q: A crude, unevolved man will not work without a reward. Is it not right to offer him incentives?
M: He will create for himself incentives anyhow. He does not know that to grow is in the nature of consciousness. He will progress from motive to motive and will chase Gurus for the fulfilment of his desires. When by the laws of his being he finds the way of return (nivritti) he abandons all motives, for his interest in the world is over. He wants nothing -- neither from others nor from himself. He dies to all and becomes the All. To want nothing and do nothing -- that is true creation! To watch the universe emerging and subsiding in one's heart is a wonder.
Q: The great obstacle to inner effort is boredom. The disciple gets bored.
M: Inertia and restlessness (tamas and rajas) work together and keep clarity and harmony (sattva) down. Tamas and Rajas must be conquered before Sattva can appear. It will all come in due course, quite spontaneously.
Q: Is there no need of effort then?
M: When effort is needed, effort will appear. When effortlessness becomes essential, it will assert itself. You need not push life about. Just flow with it and give yourself completely to the task of the present moment, which is the dying now to the now. For living is dying. Without death life cannot be.
Get hold of the main thing that the world and the self are one and perfect. Only your attitude is faulty and needs readjustment.
This process or readjustment is what you call sadhana. You come to it by putting an end to indolence and using all your energy to clear the way for clarity and charity. But in reality, these all are signs of inevitable growth. Don't be afraid, don't resist, don't delay. Be what you are. There is nothing to be afraid of. Trust and try. Experiment honestly. Give your real being a chance to shape your life. You will not regret.
34. Mind is restlessness Itself
Questioner: I am a Swede by birth. Now I am teaching Hatha Yoga in Mexico and in the States.
Maharaj: Where did you learn it?
Q: I had a teacher in the States, an Indian Swami.
M: What did it give you?
Q: It gave me good health and a means of livelihood.
M: Good enough. Is it all you want?
Q: I seek peace of mind. I got disgusted with all the cruel things done by the so-called Christians in the name of Christ. For some time I was without religion. Then I got attracted to Yoga.
M: What did you gain?
Q: I studied the philosophy of Yoga and it did help me.
M: In what way did it help you? By what signs did you conclude that you have been helped?
Q: Good health is something quite tangible.
M: No doubt it is very pleasant to feel fit. Is pleasure all you expected from Yoga?
Q: The joy of well-being is the reward of Hatha Yoga. But Yoga in general yields more than that. It answers many questions.
M: What do you mean by Yoga?
Q: The whole teaching of India -- evolution, re-incarnation, karma and so on.
M: All right, you got all the knowledge you wanted. But in what way are you benefited by it?
Q: It gave me peace of mind.
M: Did it? Is your mind at peace? Is your search over?
Q: No, not yet.
M: Naturally. There will be no end to it, because there is no such thing as peace of mind. Mind means disturbance; restlessness itself is mind. Yoga is not an attribute of the mind, nor is it a state of mind.
Q: Some measure of peace I did derive from Yoga.
M: Examine closely and you will see that the mind is seething with thoughts. It may go blank occasionally, but it does it for a time and reverts to its usual restlessness. A becalmed mind is not a peaceful mind. You say you want to pacify your mind. Is he, who wants to pacify the mind, himself peaceful?
Q: No. I am not at peace, I take the help of Yoga.
M: Don't you see the contradiction? For many years you sought your peace of mind. You could not find it, for a thing essentially restless cannot be at peace.
Q: There is some improvement.
M: The peace you claim to have found is very brittle any little thing can crack it. What you call peace is only absence of disturbance. It is hardly worth the name. The real peace cannot be disturbed. Can you claim a peace of mind that is unassailable?
Q: l am striving.
M: Striving too is a form of restlessness.
Q: So what remains?
M: The self does not need to be put to rest. It is peace itself, not at peace. Only the mind is restless. All it knows is restlessness, with its many modes and grades. The pleasant are considered superior and the painful are discounted. What we call progress is merely a change over from the unpleasant to the pleasant. But changes by themselves cannot bring us to the changeless, for whatever has a beginning must have an end. The real does not begin; it only reveals itself as beginningless and endless, all-pervading, all-powerful, immovable prime mover, timelessly changeless.
Q: So what has one to do?
M: Through Yoga you have accumulated knowledge and experience. This cannot be denied. But of what use is it all to you? Yoga means union, joining. What have you re-united, re-joined?
Q: I am trying to rejoin the personality back to the real self.
M: The personality (vyakti) is but a product of imagination. The self (vyakta) is the victim of this imagination. It is the taking yourself to be what you are not that binds you. The person cannot be said to exist on its own rights; it is the self that believes there is a person and is conscious of being it. Beyond the self (vyakta) lies the unmanifested (avyakta), the causeless cause of everything. Even to talk of re-uniting the person with the self is not right, because there is no person, only a mental picture given a false reality by conviction. Nothing was divided and there is nothing to unite.
Q: Yoga helps in the search for and the finding of the self.
M: You can find what you have lost. But you cannot find what you have not lost.
Q: Had I never lost anything, I would have been enlightened. But I am not. I am searching. Is not my very search a proof of my having lost something?
M: It only shows that you believe you have lost. But who believes it? And what is believed to be lost? Have you lost a person like yourself? What is the self you are in search of? What exactly do you expect to find?
Q: The true knowledge of the self.
M: The true knowledge of the self is not a knowledge. It is not something that you find by searching, by looking everywhere. It is not to be found in space or time. Knowledge is but a memory, a pattern of thought, a mental habit. All these are motivated by pleasure and pain. It is because you are goaded by pleasure and pain that you are in search of knowledge. Being oneself is completely beyond all motivation. You cannot be yourself for some reason. You are yourself, and no reason is needed.
Q: By doing Yoga I shall find peace.
M: Can there be peace apart from yourself? Are you talking from your own experience or from books only? Your book knowledge is useful to begin with, but soon it must be given up for direct experience, which by its very nature is inexpressible. Words can be used for destruction also; of words images are built, by words they are destroyed. You got yourself into your present state through verbal thinking; you must get out of it the same way.
Q: I did attain a degree of inner peace. Am I to destroy it?
M: What has been attained may be lost again. Only when you realise the true peace, the peace you have never lost, that peace will remain with you, for it was never away. Instead of searching for what you do not have, find out what is it that you have never lost? That which is there before the beginning and after the ending of everything; that to which there is no birth, nor death. That immovable state, which is not affected by the birth and death of a body or a mind, that state you must perceive.
Q: What are the means to such perception?
M: In life nothing can be had without overcoming obstacles. The obstacles to the clear perception of one's true being are desire for pleasure and fear of pain. It is the pleasure-pain motivation that stands in the way. The very freedom from all motivation, the state in which no desire arises is the natural state.
Q: Such giving up of desires, does it need time?
M: If you leave it to time, millions of years will be needed. Giving up desire after desire is a lengthy process with the end never in sight. Leave alone your desires and fears, give your entire attention to the subject, to him who is behind the experience of desire and fear. Ask: 'who desires?' Let each desire bring you back to yourself.
Q: The root of all desires and fears is the same -- the longing for happiness.
M: The happiness you can think of and long for, is mere physical or mental satisfaction. Such sensory or mental pleasure is not the real, the absolute happiness.
Q: Even sensory and mental pleasures and the general sense of well-being which arises with physical and mental health, must have their roots in reality.
M: They have their roots in imagination. A man who is given a stone and assured that it is a priceless diamond will be mightily pleased until he realises his mistake; in the same way pleasures lose their tang and pains their barb when the self is known. Both are seen as they are -- conditional responses, mere reactions, plain attractions and repulsions, based on memories or pre-conceptions. Usually pleasure and pain are experienced when expected. It is all a matter of acquired habits and convictions.
Q: Well, pleasure may be imaginary. But pain is real.
M: Pain and pleasure go always together. Freedom from one means freedom from both. If you do not care for pleasure, you will not be afraid of pain. But there is happiness which is neither, which is completely beyond. The happiness you know is describable and measurable. It is objective, so to say. But the objective cannot be your own. It would be a grievous mistake to identify yourself with something external. This churning up of levels leads nowhere. Reality is beyond the subjective and objective, beyond all levels, beyond every distinction. Most definitely it is not their origin, source or root. These come from ignorance of reality, not from reality itself, which is indescribable, beyond being and not-being.
Q: Many teachers have I followed and studied many doctrines, yet none gave me what I wanted.
M: The desire to find the self will be surely fulfilled, provided you want nothing else. But you must be honest with yourself and really want nothing else. If in the meantime you want many other things and are engaged in their pursuit, your main purpose may be delayed until you grow wiser and cease being torn between contradictory urges. Go within, without swerving, without ever looking outward.
Q: But my desires and fears are still there.
M: Where are they but in your memory? realise that their root is in expectation born of memory and they will cease to obsess you.
Q: I have understood very well that social service is an endless task, because improvement and decay, progress and regress, go side by side. We can see it on all sides and on every level. What remains?
M: Whatever work you have undertaken -- complete it. Do not take up new tasks. unless it is called for by a concrete situation of suffering and relief from suffering. Find yourself first, and endless blessings will follow. Nothing profits the world as much as the abandoning of profits. A man who no longer thinks in terms of loss and gain is the truly non-violent man, for he is beyond all conflict.
Q: Yes, I was always attracted by the idea of ahimsa (non-violence).
M: Primarily, ahimsa means what it says: 'don't hurt'. It is not doing good that comes first, but ceasing to hurt, not adding to suffering. Pleasing others is not ahimsa.
Q: I am not talking of pleasing, but I am all for helping others.
M: The only help worth giving is freeing from the need for further help. Repeated help is no help at all. Do not talk of helping another, unless you can put him beyond all need of help.
Q: How does one go beyond the need of help? And can one help another to do so?
M: When you have understood that all existence, in separation and limitation, is painful, and when you are willing and able to live integrally, in oneness with all life, as pure being, you have gone beyond all need of help. You can help another by precept and example and, above all, by your being. You cannot give what you do not have and you don't have what you are not. You can only give what you are -- and of that you can give limitlessly.
Q: But, is it true that all existence is painful?
M: What else can be the cause of this universal search for pleasure? Does a happy man seek happiness? How restless people are, how constantly on the move! It is because they are in pain that they seek relief in pleasure. All the happiness they can imagine is in the assurance of repeated pleasure.
Q: If what I am, as I am, the person I take myself to be, cannot be happy, then what am I to do?
M: You can only cease to be -- as you seem to be now. There is nothing cruel in what I say. To wake up a man from a nightmare is compassion. You came here because you are in pain, and all I say is: wake up, know yourself, be yourself. The end of pain lies not in pleasure. When you realise that you are beyond both pain and pleasure, aloof and unassailable, then the pursuit of happiness ceases and the resultant sorrow too. For pain aims at pleasure and pleasure ends in pain, relentlessly.
Q: In the ultimate state there can be no happiness?
M: Nor sorrow. Only freedom. Happiness depends on something or other and can be lost; freedom from everything depends on nothing and cannot be lost. Freedom from sorrow has no cause and, therefore, cannot be destroyed. realise that freedom.
Q: Am I not born to suffer as a result of my past? Is freedom possible at all? Was I born of my own will? Am I not just a creature?
M: What is birth and death but the beginning and the ending of a stream of events in consciousness? Because of the idea of separation and limitation they are painful. Momentary relief from pain we call pleasure -- and we build castles in the air hoping for endless pleasure which we call happiness. It is all misunderstanding and misuse. Wake up, go beyond, live really.
Q: My knowledge is limited, my power negligible.
M: Being the source of both. the self is beyond both knowledge and power. The observable is in the mind. The nature of the self is pure awareness, pure witnessing, unaffected by the presence or absence of knowledge or liking.
Have your being outside this body of birth and death and all your problems will be solved. They exist because you believe yourself born to die. Undeceive yourself and be free. You are not a person.
35. Greatest Guru is Your Inner Self
Questioner: On all sides I hear that freedom from desires and inclinations is the first condition of self-realisation. But I find the condition impossible of fulfilment. Ignorance of oneself causes desires and desires perpetuate ignorance. A truly vicious circle!
Maharaj: There are no conditions to fulfil. There is nothing to be done, nothing to be given up. Just look and remember, whatever you perceive is not you, nor yours. It is there in the field of consciousness, but you are not the field and its contents, nor even the knower of the field. It is your idea that you have to do things that entangle you in the results of your efforts -- the motive, the desire, the failure to achieve, the sense of frustration -- all this holds you back. Simply look at whatever happens and know that you are beyond it.
Q: Does it mean I should abstain from doing anything?
M: You cannot! What goes on must go on. If you stop suddenly, you will crash.
Q: Is it a matter of the known and the knower becoming one?
M: Both are ideas in the mind, and words that express them. There is no self in them. The self is neither, between nor beyond. To look for it on the mental level is futile. Stop searching, and see -- it is here and now -- it is that 'I am' you know so well. All you need to do is to cease taking yourself to be within the field of consciousness. Unless you have already considered these matters carefully, listening to me once will not do. Forget your past experiences and achievements, stand naked, exposed to the winds and rains of life and you will have a chance.
Q: Has devotion (bhakti) any place in your teaching?
M: When you are not well, you go to a physician who tells you what is wrong and what is the remedy. If you have confidence in him, it makes things simple: you take the medicine, follow the diet restrictions and get well. But if you do not trust him, you may still take a chance, or you may study medicine yourself! In all cases it is your desire for recovery that moves you, not the physician.
Without trust there is no peace. Somebody or other you always trust -- it may be your mother, or your wife. Of all the people the knower of the self, the liberated man, is the most trust-worthy. But merely to trust is not enough. You must also desire. Without desire for freedom of what use is the confidence that you can acquire freedom? Desire and confidence must go together. The stronger your desire, the easier comes the help. The greatest Guru is helpless as long as the disciple is not eager to learn. Eagerness and earnestness are all-important. Confidence will come with experience. Be devoted to your goal -- and devotion to him who can guide you will follow. If your desire and confidence are strong, they will operate and take you to your goal, for you will not cause delay by hesitation and compromise.
The greatest Guru is your inner self. Truly, he is the supreme teacher. He alone can take you to your goal and he alone meets you at the end of the road. Confide in him and you need no outer Guru. But again you must have the strong desire to find him and do nothing that will create obstacles and delays. And do not waste energy and time on regrets. Learn from your mistakes and do not repeat them.
Q: If you do not mind my asking a personal question...?
M: Yes, go ahead.
Q: I see you sitting on an antelope skin. How does it tally with non-violence?
M: All my working life I was a cigarette-maker, helping people to spoil their health. And in front of my door the municipality has put up a public lavatory, spoiling my health. In this violent world how can one keep away from violence of some kind or other?
Q: Surely all avoidable violence should be avoided. And yet in India every holy man has his tiger, lion, leopard or antelope skin to sit on.
M: Maybe because no plastics were available in ancient times and a skin was best to keep the damp away. Rheumatism has no charm, even for a saint! Thus the tradition arose that for lengthy meditations a skin is needed. Just like the drum-hide in a temple, so is the antelope skin of a Yogi. We hardly notice it.
Q: But the animal had to be killed.
M: I have never heard of a Yogi killing a tiger for his hide. The killers are not Yogis and the Yogis are not killers.
Q: Should you not express your disapproval by refusing to sit on a skin?
M: What an idea! I disapprove of the entire universe, why only a skin?
Q: What is wrong with the universe?
M: Forgetting your Self is the greatest injury; all the calamities flow from it. Take care of the most important, the lesser will take care of itself. You do not tidy up a dark room. You open the windows first. Letting in the light makes everything easy. So, let us wait with improving others until we have seen ourselves as we are -- and have changed. There is no need to turn round and round in endless questioning; find yourself and everything will fall into its proper place.
Q: The urge to return to the source is very rare. Is it at all natural?
M: Outgoing is natural in the beginning, ingoing -- in the end. But in reality the two are one, just like breathing in and out are one.
Q: In the same way are not the body and the dweller in the body one?
M: Events in time and space -- birth and death, cause and effect -- these may be taken as one; but the body and the embodied are not of the same order of reality. The body exists in time and space, transient and limited, while the dweller is timeless and spaceless, eternal and all-pervading. To identify the two is a grievous mistake and the cause of endless suffering. You can speak of the mind and body as one, but the body-mind is not the underlying reality.
Q: Whoever he may be, the dweller is in control of the body and, therefore, responsible for it.
M: There is a universal power which is in control and is responsible.
Q: And so, I can do as I like and put the blame on some universal power? How easy!
M: Yes, very easy. Just realise the One Mover behind all that moves and leave all to Him. If you do not hesitate, or cheat, this is the shortest way to reality. Stand without desire and fear, relinquishing all control and all responsibility.
Q: What madness!
M: Yes, divine madness. What is wrong in letting go the illusion of personal control and personal responsibility? Both are in the mind only. Of course, as long as you imagine yourself to be in control, you should also imagine yourself to be responsible. One implies the other.
Q: How can the universal be responsible for the particular?
M: All life on earth depends on the sun. Yet you cannot blame the sun for all that happens, though it is the ultimate cause. Light causes the colour of the flower, but it neither controls, nor is responsible for it directly. It makes it possible, that is all.
Q: What I do not like in all this is taking refuge in some universal power.
M: You cannot quarrel with facts.
Q: Whose facts? Yours or mine?
M: Yours. You cannot deny my facts, for you do not know them. Could you know them, you would not deny them. Here lies the trouble. You take your imagining for facts and my facts for imagination. I know for certain that all is one. Differences do not separate. Either you are responsible for nothing, or for everything. To imagine that you are in control and responsible for one body only is the aberration of the body-mind.
Q: Still, you are limited by your body.
M: Only in matters pertaining to the body. This I do not mind. It is like enduring the seasons of the year. They come, they go -- they hardly affect me. In the same way body-minds come and go -- life is forever in search of new expressions.
Q: As long as you do not put all the burden of evil on God, I am satisfied. There may be a God for all I know, but to me he is a concept projected by the human mind. He may be a reality to you, but to me society is more real than God, for I am both its creature and its prisoner. Your values are wisdom and compassion; society's sagacious selfishness. I live in a world quite different from yours.
M: None compels.
Q: None compels you, but I am compelled. My world is an evil world, full of tears, toil and pain. To explain it away by the intellectualising, by putting forth theories of evolution and karma is merely adding insult to injury. The God of an evil world is a cruel God.
M: You are the god of your world and you are both stupid and cruel. Let God be a concept -- your own creation. Find out who you are, how did you come to live, longing for truth, goodness and beauty in a world full of evil. Of what use is your arguing for or against God. when you just do not know who is God and what are you talking about. The God born of fear and hope, shaped by desire and imagination, cannot be the Power That is, the Mind and the Heart of the universe.
Q: I agree that the world I live in and the God I believe in are both creatures of imagination. But in what way are they created by desire? Why do I imagine a world so painful and a God so indifferent? What is wrong with me that I should torture myself so cruelly? The enlightened man comes and tells me: 'it is but a dream to put an end to', but is he not himself a part of the dream? I find myself trapped and see no way out. You say you are free. Of what are you free? For heaven's sake, don't feed me on words, enlighten me, help me to wake up, since it is you who sees me tossing in my sleep.
M: When I say I am free, I merely state a fact. If you are an adult, you are free from infancy. I am free from all description and identification. Whatever you may hear, see, or think of, I am not that. I am free from being a percept, or a concept.
Q: Still, you have a body and you depend on it.
M: Again you assume that your point of view is the only correct one. I repeat: I was not, am not, shall not be a body. To me this is a fact. I too was under the illusion of having been born, but my Guru made me see that birth and death are mere ideas -- birth is merely the idea: 'I have a body'. And death -- 'I have lost my body'. Now, when I know I am not a body, the body may be there or may not -- what difference does it make? The bodymind is like a room. It is there, but I need not live in it all the time.
Q: Yet, there is a body and you do take care of it.
M: The power that created the body takes care of it.
Q: We are jumping from level to level all the time.
M: There are two levels to consider -- the physical -- of facts, and mental -- of ideas. I am beyond both. Neither your facts, nor ideas are mine. What I see is beyond. Cross over to my side and see with me.
Q: What I want to say is very simple. As long as I believe: 'I am the body', I must not say: 'God will look after my body'. God will not. He will let it starve, sicken and die.
M: What else do you expect from a mere body? Why are you so anxious about it?
Because you think you are the body, you want it indestructible. You can extend its life considerably by appropriate practices, but for what ultimate good?
Q: It is better to live long and healthy. It gives us a chance to avoid the mistakes of childhood and youth, the frustrations of adulthood, the miseries and imbecility of old age.
M: By all means live long. But you are not the master. Can you decide the days of your birth and death? We are not speaking the same language. Yours is a make-believe talk, all hangs on suppositions and assumptions. You speak with assurance about things you are not sure of.
Q: Therefore, I am here.
M: You are not yet here. I am here. Come in! But you don't. You want me to live your life, feel your way, use your language. I cannot, and it will not help you. You must come to me. Words are of the mind and the mind obscures and distorts. Hence the absolute need to go beyond words and move over to my side.
Q: Take me over.
M: I am doing it, but you resist. You give reality to concepts, while concepts are distortions of reality. Abandon all conceptualisation and stay silent and attentive. Be earnest about it and all will be well with you.
36. Killing Hurts the Killer, not the Killed
Questioner: A thousand years ago a man lived and died. His identity (antahkarana) re-appeared in a new body. Why does he not remember his previous life? And if he does, can the memory be brought into the conscious?
Maharaj: How do you know that the same person re-appeared in the new body? A new body may mean a new person altogether.
Q: Imagine a pot of ghee. (Indian clarified butter). When the pot breaks, the Ghee remains and can be transferred to another pot. The old pot had its own scent, the new -- its own. The Ghee will carry the scents from pot to pot. In the same way the personal identity is transferred from body to body.
M: It is all right. When there is the body, its peculiarities affect the person. Without the body we have the pure identity in the sense of 'I am'. But when you are reborn in a new body, where is the world formerly experienced?
Q: Every body experiences its own world.
M: In the present body the old body -- is it merely an idea, or is it a memory?
Q: An idea, of course. How can a brain remember what it has not experienced?
M: You have answered your own question. Why play with ideas? Be content with what you are sure of. And the only thing you can be sure of is 'I am'. Stay with it, and reject everything else. This is Yoga.
Q: I can reject only verbally. At best I remember to repeat the formula: 'This is not me, this is not mine. I am beyond all this'.
M: Good enough. First verbally, then mentally and emotionally, then in action. Give attention to the reality within you and it will come to light. It is like churning the cream for butter. Do it correctly and assiduously and the result is sure to come.
Q: How can the absolute be the result of a process?
M: You are right, the relative cannot result in the absolute. But the relative can block the absolute, just as the non-churning of the cream may prevent the butter from separating. It is the real that creates the urge; the inner prompts the outer and the outer responds in interest and effort. But ultimately there is no inner, nor outer; the light of consciousness is both the creator and the creature, the experiencer and the experience, the body and the embodied. Take care of the power that projects all this and your problems will come to an end.
Q: Which is the projecting power?
M: It is imagination prompted by desire.
Q: I know all this, but have no power over it.
M: This is another illusion of yours, born from craving for results.
Q: What is wrong with purposeful action?
M: It does not apply. In these matters there is no question of purpose, nor of action. All you need is to listen, remember, ponder. It is like taking food. All you can do is to bite off, chew and swallow. All else is unconscious and automatic. Listen, remember and understand -- the mind is both the actor and the stage. All is of the mind and you are not the mind. The mind is born and reborn, not you. The mind creates the world and all the wonderful variety of it. Just like in a good play you have all sorts of characters and situations, so you need a little of everything to make a world.
Q: Nobody suffers in a play.
M: Unless one identifies himself with it. Don't identify yourself with the world and you will not suffer.
Q: Others will.
M: Then make your world perfect, by all means. If you believe in God, work with Him. It you do not, become one. Either see the world as a play or work at it with all your might. Or both.
Q: What about the identify of the dying man? What happens to it when he is dead? Do you agree that it continues in another body.
M: It continues and yet it does not. All depends how you look at it. What is identity, after all? Continuity in memory? Can you talk of identity without memory?
Q: Yes, I can. The child may not know its parents, yet the hereditary characteristics will be there.
M: Who identifies them? Somebody with a memory to register and compare. Don't you see that memory is the warp of your mental life. And identity is merely a pattern of events in time and space. Change the pattern and you have changed the man.
Q: The pattern is significant and important. It has its own value. By saying that a woven design is merely coloured threads you miss the most important -- the beauty of it. Or by describing a book as paper with ink stains on it, you miss the meaning. Identity is valuable because it is the basis of individuality; that which makes us unique and irreplaceable. 'I am', is the intuition of uniqueness.
M: Yes and no. Identity, individuality, uniqueness -- they are the most valuable aspects of the mind, yet of the mind only. 'I am all there is' too is an experience equally valid. The particular and the universal are inseparable. They are the two aspects of the nameless, as seen from without and from within. Unfortunately, words only mention, but don't convey. Try to go beyond the words.
Q: What dies with death?
M: The idea 'I am this body' dies; the witness does not.
Q: The Jains believe in a multiplicity of witnesses, forever separate.
M: That is their tradition based on the experience of some great people. The one witness reflects itself in the countless bodies as 'I am'. As long as the bodies, however subtle, last, the 'I am' appears as many. Beyond the body there is only the One.
M: The Creator is a person whose body is the world. The Nameless one is beyond all gods.
Q: Sri Ramana Maharshi died. What difference did it make to him?
M: None. What he was, he is -- the Absolute Reality.
Q: But to the common man death makes a difference.
M: What he thinks himself to be before death he continues to be after death. His self-image survives.
Q: The other day there was a talk about the use by the jnani of animal skins for meditation etc. I was not convinced. It is easy to justify everything by referring to custom and tradition. Customs may be cruel and tradition corrupt. They explain, but do not justify.
M: I never meant to say that lawlessness follows self-realisation. A liberated man is extremely law-abiding. But his laws are the laws of his real self, not of his society. These he observes, or breaks according to circumstances and necessity. But he will never be fanciful and disorderly.
Q: What I cannot accept is justification by custom and habit.
M: The difficulty lies in our differing points of view. You speak from the body-mind's. Mine is of the witness. The difference is basic.
Q: Still, cruelty is cruelty
M: None compels you to be cruel.
Q: Taking advantage of other people's cruelty is cruelty by proxy.
M: If you look into living process closely, you will find cruelty everywhere, for life feeds on life. This is a fact, but it does not make you feel guilty of being alive. You began a life of cruelty by giving your mother endless trouble. To the last day of your life you will compete for food, clothing, shelter, holding on to your body, fighting for its needs, wanting it to be secure, in a world of insecurity and death. From the animal's point of view being killed is not the worst form of dying; surely preferable to sickness and senile decay. The cruelty lies in the motive, not in the fact. Killing hurts the killer, not the killed.
Q: Agreed; then one must not accept the services of hunters and butchers.
M: Who wants you to accept?
Q: You accept.
M: That is how you see me! How quickly you accuse, condemn, sentence and execute! Why begin with me and not with yourself?
Q: A man like you should set an example.
M: Are you ready to follow my example? I am dead to the world, I want nothing, not even to live. Be as I am, do as I do. You are judging me by my clothes and food; while I only look at your motives; if you believe to be the body and the mind and act on it you are guilty of the greatest cruelty -- cruelty to your own real being. Compared to it all other cruelties do not count.
Q; You are taking refuge in the claim that you are not the body. But you are in control of the body and responsible for all it does. To allow the body full autonomy would be imbecility, madness!
M: Cool down. I am also against all killing of animals for flesh or fur, but I refuse to give it first place. Vegetarianism is a worthy cause, but not the most urgent; all causes are served best by the man who has returned to his source.
Q: When I was at Sri Ramanashram, I felt Bhagwan all over the place, all-pervading, all-perceiving.
M: You had the necessary faith. Those who have true faith in him will see him everywhere and at all times. All happens according to your faith and your faith is the shape of your desire.
Q: The faith you have in yourself, is not that too a shape of a desire?
M: When I say: 'I am', I do not mean a separate entity with a body as its nucleus. I mean the totality of being, the ocean of consciousness, the entire universe of all that is and knows. I have nothing to desire for I am complete forever.
Q: Can you touch the inner life of other people?
M: I am the people.
Q: I do not mean identity of essence or substance, nor similarity of form. I mean the actual entering into the minds and hearts of others and participating in their personal experiences. Can you suffer and rejoice with me, or you only infer what I feel from observation and analogy?
M: All beings are in me. But bringing down into the brain the content of another brain requires special training. There is nothing that cannot be achieved by training.
Q: I am not your projection, nor are you mine. I am on my own right, not merely as your creation. This crude philosophy of imagination and projection does not appeal to me. You are depriving me of all reality. Who is the image of whom? You are my image or am I yours. Or am I an image in my own image! No, something is wrong somewhere.
M: Words betray their hollowness. The real cannot be described, it must be experienced. I cannot find better words for what I am now. What I say may sound ridiculous. But what the words try to convey is the highest truth. All is one, however much we quibble. And all is done to please the one source and goal of every desire. whom we all know as the 'I am'.
Q: It is pain that is at the root of desire. The basic urge is to escape from pain.
M: What is the root of pain? Ignorance of yourself. What is the root of desire? The urge to find yourself. All creation toils for its self and will not rest until it returns to it.
Q: When will it return?
M: It can return whenever you want it.
Q: And the world?
M: You can take it with you.
Q: Must I wait with helping the world until I reach perfection?
M: By all means help the world. You will not help much, but the effort will make you grow. There is nothing wrong in trying to help the world.
Q: Surely there were people, common people, who helped greatly.
M: When the time comes for the world to be helped, some people are given the will, the wisdom and the power to cause great changes.
37. Beyond Pain and Pleasure there is Bliss
Maharaj: You must realise first of all that you are the proof of everything, including yourself. None can prove your existence, because his existence must be confirmed by you first. Your being and knowing you owe nobody. Remember, you are entirely on your own. You do not come from somewhere, you do not go anywhere. You are timeless being and awareness.
Questioner: There is a basic difference between us. You know the real while I know only the workings of my mind. Therefore what you say is one thing, what I hear is another. What you say is true; what I understand is false, though the words are the same. There is a gap between us. How to close the gap?
M: Give up the idea of being what you think yourself to be and there will be no gap. By imagining yourself as separate you have created the gap. You need not cross it. Just don't create it. All is you and yours. There is nobody else. This is a fact.
Q: How strange! The very same words which to you are true, to me are false. 'There is nobody else'. How obviously untrue!
M: Let them be true or untrue. Words don't matter. What matters is the idea you have of yourself, for it blocks you. Give it up.
Q: From early childhood I was taught to think that I am limited to my name and shape. A mere statement to the contrary will not erase the mental groove. A regular brain-washing is needed -- if at all it can be done.
M: You call it brain-washing, I call it Yoga -- levelling up all the mental ruts. You must not be compelled to think the same thoughts again and again. Move on!
Q: Easier said than done.
M: Don't be childish! Easier to change, than to suffer. Grow out of your childishness, that is all.
Q: Such things are not done. They happen.
M: Everything happens all the time, but you must be ready for it. Readiness is ripeness. You do not see the real because your mind is not ready for it.
Q: If reality is my real nature, how can I ever be unready?
M: Unready means afraid. You are afraid of what you are. Your destination is the whole. But you are afraid that you will lose your identity. This is childishness, clinging to the toys, to your desires and fears, opinions and ideas. Give it all up and be ready for the real to assert itself. This self-assertion is best expressed in words: 'I am'. Nothing else has being. Of this you are absolutely certain
Q: 'I am', of course, but 'I know' also. And I know that I am so and so, the owner of the body, in manifold relations with other owners.
M: It is all memory carried over into the now.
Q: I can be certain only of what is now. Past and future, memory and imagination, these are mental states, but they are all I know and they are now. You are telling me to abandon them. How does one abandon the now?
M: You are moving into the future all the time whether you like it or not.
Q: I am moving from now into now -- I do not move at all. Everything else moves -- not me.
M: Granted. But your mind does move. In the now you are both the movable and the immovable. So far you took yourself to be the movable and overlooked the immovable. Turn your mind inside out. Overlook the movable and you will find yourself to be the ever-present, changeless reality, inexpressible, but solid like a rock.
Q: If it is now, why am I not aware of it?
M: Because you hold on to the idea that you are not aware of it. Let go the idea.
Q: It does not make me aware.
M: Wait. You want to be on both sides of the wall at the same time. You can, but you must remove the wall. Or realise that the wall and both sides of it are one single space, to which no idea like 'here' or 'there' applies.
Q: Similes prove nothing. My only complaint is this: why do I not see what you see, why your words do not sound true in my mind. Let me know this much; all else can wait. You are wise and I am stupid; you see, I don't. Where and how shall I find my wisdom?
M: If you know yourself to be stupid, you are not stupid at all!
Q: Just as knowing myself sick does not make me well, so knowing myself foolish can not make me wise.
M: To know that you are ill must you not be well initially?
Q: Oh, no. I know by comparison. If I am blind from birth and you tell me that you know things without touching them, while I must touch to know, I am aware that I am blind without knowing what does it mean to see. Similarly, I know that I am lacking something when you assert things which I cannot grasp. You are telling me such wonderful things about myself; according to you I am eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, supremely happy, creator, preserver and destroyer of all there is, the source of all life, the heart of being, the lord and the beloved of every creature. You equate me with the Ultimate Reality, the source and the goal of all existence. I just blink, for I know myself to be a tiny little bundle of desires and fears, a bubble of suffering, a transient flash of consciousness in an ocean of darkness.
M: Before pain was, you were. After pain had gone, you remained. Pain is transient, you are not.
Q: I am sorry, but I do not see what you see. From the day I was born till the day I die, pain and pleasure will weave the pattern of my life. Of being before birth and after death I know nothing. I neither accept nor deny you. I hear what you say, but I do not know it.
M: Now you are conscious, are you not?
Q: Please do not ask me about before and after. I just know only what is now.
M: Good enough. You are conscious. Hold on to it. There are states when you are not conscious. Call it unconscious being.
Q: Being unconscious?
M: Consciousness and unconsciousness do not apply here. Existence is in consciousness, essence is independent of consciousness.
Q: It is void? Is it silence?
M: Why elaborate? Being pervades and transcends consciousness. Objective consciousness is a part of pure consciousness, not beyond it.
Q: How do you come to know a state of pure being which is neither conscious nor unconscious? All knowledge is in consciousness only. There may be such a state as the abeyance of the mind. Does consciousness then appear as the witness?
M: The witness only registers events. In the abeyance of the mind even the sense 'I am' dissolves. There is no 'I am' without the mind.
Q: Without the mind means without thoughts. 'I am' as a thought subsides. 'I am' as the sense of being remains.
M: All experience subsides with the mind. Without the mind there can be no experiencer nor experience.
Q: Does not the witness remain?
M: The witness merely registers the presence or absence of experience. It is not an experience by itself, but it becomes an experience when the thought: 'I am the witness' arises.
Q: All I know is that sometimes the mind works and sometimes it stops. The experience of mental silence I call the abeyance of the mind.
M: Call it silence, or void, or abeyance, the fact is that the three -- experiencer, experiencing, experience -- are not. In witnessing, in awareness, self-consciousness, the sense of being this or that, is not. Unidentified being remains.
Q: As a state of unconsciousness?
M: With reference to anything, it is the opposite. It is also between and beyond all opposites. It is neither consciousness nor unconsciousness, nor midway, nor beyond the two. It is by itself, not with reference to anything which may be called experience or its absence.
Q: How strange! You speak of it as if it were an experience.
M: When I think of it -- it becomes an experience.
Q: Like the invisible light, intercepted by a flower, becoming colour?
M: Yes, you may say so. It is in the colour but not the colour.
Q: The same old four-fold negation of Nagarjuna: neither this nor that, nor both, nor either. My mind reels!
M: Your difficulty stems from the idea that reality is a state of consciousness, one among many. You tend to say: "This is real. That is not real. And this is partly real, partly unreal", as if reality were an attribute or quality to have in varying measures.
Q: Let me put it differently. After all, consciousness becomes a problem only when it is painful. An ever-blissful state does not give rise to questions. We find all consciousness to be a mixture of the pleasant and the painful. Why?
M: All consciousness is limited and therefore painful. At the root of consciousness lies desire, the urge to experience.
Q: Do you mean to say that without desire there can be no consciousness? And what is the advantage of being unconscious? If I have to forego pleasure for the freedom from pain, I better keep both.
M: Beyond pain and pleasure there is bliss.
Q: Unconscious bliss, of what use is it?
M: Neither conscious nor unconscious. Real.
Q: What is your objection to consciousness?
M: It is a burden. Body means burden. Sensations, desires, thoughts -- these are all burdens. All consciousness is of conflict.
Q: Reality is described as true being, pure consciousness, infinite bliss. What has pain to do with it?
M: Pain and pleasure happen, but pain is the price of pleasure, pleasure is the reward of pain. In life too you often please by hurting and hurt by pleasing. To know that pain and pleasure are one is peace.
Q: All this is very interesting, no doubt, but my goal is more simple. I want more pleasure and less pain in life. What am I to do?
M: As long as there is consciousness, there must be pleasure and pain. It is in the nature of the 'I am', of consciousness, to identify itself with the opposites.
Q: Then of what use is all this to me? It does not satisfy.
M: Who are you, who is unsatisfied?
Q: I am, the pain-pleasure man.
M: Pain and pleasure are both ananda (bliss). Here I am sitting in front of you and telling you -- from my own immediate and unchanging experience -- pain and pleasure are the crests and valleys of the waves in the ocean of bliss. Deep down there is utter fullness.
Q: Is your experience constant?
M: It is timeless and changeless.
Q: All I know is desire for pleasure and fear of pain.
M: That is what you think about yourself. Stop it. If you cannot break a habit all at once, consider the familiar way of thinking and see its falseness. Questioning the habitual is the duty of the mind. What the mind created, the mind must destroy. Or realise that there is no desire outside the mind and stay out.
Q: Honestly, I distrust this explaining everything as mind-made. The mind is only an instrument, as the eye is an instrument. Can you say that perception is creation? I see the world through the window, not in the window. All you say holds well together because of the common foundation, but I do not know whether your foundation is in reality, or only in the mind. I can have only a mental picture of it. What it means to you I do not know.
M: As long as you take your stand in the mind, you will see me in the mind.
Q: How inadequate are words for understanding!
M: Without words, what is there to understand? The need for understanding arises from mis-understanding. What I say is true, but to you it is only a theory. How will you come to know that it is true? Listen, remember, ponder, visualise, experience. Also apply it in your daily life. Have patience with me and, above all have patience with yourself, for you are your only obstacle. The way leads through yourself beyond yourself. As long as you believe only the particular to be real, conscious and happy and reject the non-dual reality as something imagined, an abstract concept, you will find me doling out concepts and abstractions. But once you have touched the real within your own being, you will find me describing what for you is the nearest and the dearest.
38. Spiritual Practice is Will Asserted and Re-asserted
Questioner: The Westerners who occasionally come to see you are faced with a peculiar difficulty. The very notion of a liberated man, a realised man, a self-knower, a God-knower, a man beyond the world, is unknown to them. All they have in their Christian culture is the idea of a saint: a pious man, law-abiding, God-fearing, fellow-loving, prayerful, sometimes prone to ecstasies and confirmed by a few miracles. The very idea of a jnani is foreign to Western culture, something exotic and rather unbelievable. Even when his existence is accepted, he is looked at with suspicion, as a case of self-induced euphoria caused by strange physical postures and mental attitudes. The very idea of a new dimension in consciousness seems to them implausible and improbable.
What will help them is the opportunity of hearing a jnani relate his own experience of realisation, its causes and beginnings, its progress and attainments and its actual practice in daily life. Much of what he says may remain strange, even meaningless, yet there will remain a feeling of reality, an atmosphere of actual experiencing, ineffable, yet very real, a centre from which an exemplary life can be lived.
Maharaj: The experience may be incommunicable. Can one communicate an experience?
Q: Yes, if one is an artist. The essence of art is communication of feeling, of experience.
M: To receive communication, you must be receptive.
Q: Of course. There must be a receiver. But if the transmitter does not transmit, of what use is the receiver?
M: The jnani belongs to all. He gives himself tirelessly and completely to whoever comes to him. If he is not a giver, he is not a jnani. Whatever he has, he shares.
Q: But can he share what he is?
M: You mean, can he make others into jnanis? Yes and no. No, since jnanis are not made, they realise themselves as such, when they return to their source, their real nature. I cannot make you into what you already are. All I can tell you is the way I travelled and invite you to take it.
Q: This does not answer my question. I have in mind the critical and sceptical Westerner who denies the very possibility of higher states of consciousness. Recently drugs have made a breach in his disbelief, without affecting his materialistic outlook. Drugs or no drugs, the body remains the primary fact and the mind is secondary. Beyond the mind, they see nothing. From Buddha onwards the state of self-realisation was described in negative terms, as 'not this, not that'. Is it inevitable? Is it not possible to illustrate it, if not describe. I admit, no verbal description will do, when the state described is beyond words. Yet it is also within words. Poetry is the art of putting into words the inexpressible.
M: There is no lack of religious poets. Turn to them for what you want. As far as I am concerned, my teaching is simple: trust me for a while and do what I tell you. If you persevere, you will find that your trust was justified.
Q: And what to do with people who are interested, but cannot trust?
M: If they could stay with me, they would come to trust me. Once they trust me, they will follow my advice and discover for themselves.
Q: It is not for the training that I am asking just now, but for its results. You had both. You are willing to tell us all about the training, but when it comes to results, you refuse to share. Either you tell us that your state is beyond words, or that there is no difference; that where we see a difference, you see none. In both cases we are left without any insight into your state.
M: How can you have insight into my state when you are without insight into your own? When the very instrument of insight is lacking, is it not important to find it first? It is like a blind man wanting to learn painting before he regains his eyesight. You want to know my state -- but do you know the state of your wife or servant?
Q: I am asking for some hints only.
M: Well, I gave you a very significant clue -- where you see differences, I don't. To me it is enough. If you think it is not enough, I can only repeat; it is enough. Think it out deeply and you will come to see what I see. You seem to want instant insight, forgetting that the instant is always preceded by a long preparation. The fruit falls suddenly, but the ripening takes time. After all, when I talk of trusting me, it is only for a short time, just enough time to start you moving. The more earnest you are, the less belief you need, for soon you will find your faith in me justified. You want me to prove to you that I am trustworthy! How can I and why should l? After all, what I am offering you is the operational approach, so current in Western science. When a scientist describes an experiment and its results, usually you accept his statements on trust and repeat his experiment as he describes it. Once you get the same or similar results, you need not trust him any more; you trust your own experience. Encouraged, you proceed and arrive in the end at substantially identical results.
Q: The Indian mind was made ready for metaphysical experiments by culture and nurture. To the Indian words like 'direct perception of the Supreme Reality' make sense and bring out responses from the very depths of his being. They mean little to a Westerner; even when brought up in his own variety of Christianity, he does not think beyond conformity with God's commandments and Christ's injunctions. First-hand knowledge of reality is not only beyond ambition, but also beyond conceiving. Some Indians tell me: 'Hopeless. The Westerner will not, for he cannot. Tell him nothing about self-realisation; let him live a useful life and earn a rebirth in India. Then only will he have a chance'. Some say: 'Reality is for all equally, but not all are equally endowed with the capacity to grasp it. The capacity will come with desire, which will grow into devotion and ultimately into total self-dedication. With integrity and earnestness and iron determination to overcome all obstacles, the Westerner has the same chance as the Oriental man. All he needs is the rousing of interest'. To rouse his interest in self-knowledge he needs to be convinced about its advantages.
M: You believe it is possible to transmit a personal experience?
Q: I do not know. You speak of unity, identity of the seer with the seen. When all is one, communication should be feasible.
M: To have the direct experience of a country one must go and live there. Don't ask for the impossible. A man's spiritual victory no doubt benefits mankind, but to benefit another individual, a close personal relation is required. Such relation is not accidental and not everybody can claim it. On the other hand, the scientific approach is for all. 'Trust-test-taste'. What more do you need? Why push the Truth down unwilling throats? It cannot be done, anyhow. Without a receiver what can the giver do?
Q: The essence of art is to use the outer form to convey an inner experience. Of course, one must be sensitive to the inner, before the outer can be meaningful. How does one grow in sensitivity?
M: Whichever way you put it, it comes to the same. Givers there are many; where are the takers?
Q: Can you not share your own sensitivity?
M: Yes, I can, but sharing is a two-way street. Two are needed in sharing. Who is willing to take what I am willing to give?
Q: You say we are one. Is this not enough?
M: I am one with you. Are you one with me? If you are, you will not ask questions. If you are not, if you do not see what I see, what can I do beyond showing you the way to improve your vision?
Q: What you cannot give is not your own.
M: I claim nothing as my own. When the 'I' is not, where is the 'mine'?. Two people look at a tree. One sees the fruit hidden among the leaves and the other does not. Otherwise there is no difference between the two. The one that sees knows that with a little attention the other will also see, but the question of sharing does not arise. Believe me, I am not close-fisted, holding back your share of reality. On the contrary, I am all yours, eat me and drink me. But while you repeat verbally: 'give, give', you do nothing to take what is offered. I am showing you a short and easy way to being able to see what I see, but you cling to your old habits of thought, feeling and action and put all the blame on me. I have nothing which you do not have. Self-knowledge is not a piece of property to be offered and accepted. It is a new dimension altogether, where there is nothing to give or take.
Q: Give us at least some insight into the content of your mind while you live your daily life. To eat, to drink, to talk, to sleep -- how does it feel at your end?
M: The common things of life: I experience them just as you do. The difference lies in what I do not experience. I do not experience fear or greed, hate or anger. I ask nothing, refuse nothing, keep nothing. In these matters I do not compromise. Maybe this is the outstanding difference between us. I will not compromise, I am true to myself, while you are afraid of reality.
Q: From the Westerner's point of view there is something disturbing in your ways. To sit in a corner all by oneself and keep on repeating: 'I am God, God I am', appears to be plain madness. How to convince a Westerner that such practices lead to supreme sanity?
M: The man who claims to be God and the man who doubts it -- both are deluded. They talk in their dream.
Q: If all is dreaming, what is waking?
M: How to describe the waking state in dreamland language? Words do not describe, they are only symbols.
Q: Again the same excuse that words cannot convey reality.
M: If you want words, I shall give you some of the ancient words of power. Repeat any of them ceaselessly; they can work wonders.
Q: Are you serious? Would you tell a Westerner to repeat 'Om' or 'Ram' or 'Hare Krishna' ceaselessly, though he lacks completely the faith and conviction born of the right cultural and religious background. Without confidence and fervour, repeating mechanically the same sounds, will he ever achieve anything?
M: Why not? It is the urge, the hidden motive that matters, not the shape it takes. Whatever he does, if he does it for the sake of finding his own real self, will surely bring him to himself.
Q: No need of faith in the efficacy of the means?
M: No need of faith which is but expectation of results. Here the action only counts. Whatever you do for the sake of truth, will take you to truth. Only be earnest and honest. The shape it takes hardly matters.
Q: Then where is the need of giving expression to one's longing?
M: No need. Doing nothing is as good. Mere longing, undiluted by thought and action, pure, concentrated longing, will take you speedily to your goal. It is the true motive that matters, not the manner.
Q: Unbelievable! How can dull repetition in boredom verging on despair, be effective?
M: The very facts of repetition, of struggling on and on and of endurance and perseverance, in spite of boredom and despair and complete lack of conviction are really crucial. They are not important by themselves, but the sincerity behind them is all-important. There must be a push from within and pull from without.
Q: My questions are typical of the West. There people think in terms of cause and effect, means and goals. They do not see what causal connection can there be between a particular word and the Absolute Reality.
M: None whatsoever. But there is a connection between the word and its meaning, between the action and its motive. Spiritual practice is will asserted and re-asserted. Who has not the daring will not accept the real even when offered. Unwillingness born out of fear is the only obstacle.
Q: What is there to be afraid of?
M: The unknown. The not-being, not-knowing, not-doing. The beyond.
Q: You mean to say that while you can share the manner of your achievement, you cannot share the fruits?
M: Of course I can share the fruits and I am doing so all the time. But mine is a silent language. Learn to listen and understand.
Q: I do not see how one can begin without conviction.
M: Stay with me for some time, or give your mind to what I say and do and conviction will dawn.
Q: Not everybody has the chance of meeting you.
M: Meet your own self. Be with your own self, listen to it, obey it, cherish it, keep it in mind ceaselessly. You need no other guide. As long as your urge for truth affects your daily life, all is well with you. Live your life without hurting anybody. Harmlessness is a most powerful form of Yoga and it will take you speedily to your goal. This is what I call nisarga yoga, the Natural yoga. It is the art of living in peace and harmony, in friendliness and love. The fruit of it is happiness, uncaused and endless.
Q: Still, all this presupposes some faith.
M: Turn within and you will come to trust yourself. In everything else confidence comes with experience.
Q: When a man tells me that he knows something I do not know, I have the right to ask: 'what is if that you know, that I do not know?'
M: And if he tells you that it cannot be conveyed in words?
Q: Then I watch him closely and try to make out.
M: And this is exactly what I want you to do! Be interested, give attention, until a current of mutual understanding is established. Then the sharing will be easy. As a matter of fact, all realisation is only sharing. You enter a wider consciousness and share in it. Unwillingness to enter and to share is the only hindrance. I never talk of differences, for to me there are none. You do, so it is up to you to show them to me. By all means, show me the differences. For this you will have to understand me, but then you will no longer talk of differences. Understand one thing well, and you have arrived. What prevents you from knowing is not the lack of opportunity, but the lack of ability to focus in your mind what you want to understand. If you could but keep in mind what you do not know, it would reveal to you its secrets. But if you are shallow and impatient, not earnest enough to look and wait, you are like a child crying for the moon.
39. By Itself Nothing has Existence
Questioner: As I listen to you I find that it is useless to ask you questions. Whatever the question, you invariably turn it upon itself and bring me to the basic fact that I am living in an illusion of my own making and that reality is inexpressible in words. Words merely add to the confusion and the only wise course is the silent search within.
Maharaj: After all, it is the mind that creates illusion and it is the mind that gets free of it. Words may aggravate illusion, words may also help dispel it. There is nothing wrong in repeating the same truth again and again until it becomes reality. Mother's work is not over with the birth of the child. She feeds it day after day, year after year until it needs her no longer. People need hearing words, until facts speak to them louder than words.
Q: So we are children to be fed on words?
M: As long as you give importance to words, you are children.
Q: All right, then be our mother.
M: Where was the child before it was born? Was it not with the mother? Because it was already with the mother it could be born.
Q: Surely, the mother did not carry the child when she was a child herself.
M: Potentially, she was the mother. Go beyond the illusion of time.
Q: Your answer is always the same. A kind of clockwork which strikes the same hours again and again.
M: It can not be helped. Just like the one sun is reflected in a billion dew drops, so is the timeless endlessly repeated. When l repeat: 'I am, I am', I merely assert and re-assert an ever-present fact. You get tired of my words because you do not see the living truth behind them. Contact it and you will find the full meaning of words and of silence -- both.
Q: You say that the little girl is already the mother of her future child. Potentially -- yes. Actually -- no.
M: The potential becomes actual by thinking. The body and its affairs exist in the mind.
Q: And the mind is consciousness in motion and consciousness is the conditioned (saguna) aspect of the Self. The unconditioned (nirguna) is another aspect and beyond lies the abyss of the absolute (paramartha).
M: Quite right -- you have put it beautifully.
Q: But these are mere words to me. Hearing and repeating them is not enough, they must be experienced.
M: Nothing stops you but preoccupation with the outer which prevents you from focussing the inner. It cannot be helped, you cannot skip your sadhana. You have to turn away from the world and go within, until the inner and the outer merge and you can go beyond the conditioned, whether inner or outer.
Q: Surely, the unconditioned is merely an idea in the conditioned mind. By itself it has no existence.
M: By itself nothing has existence. Everything needs its own absence. To be, is to be distinguishable, to be here and not there, to be now and not then, to be thus and not otherwise. Like water is shaped by the container, so is everything determined by conditions (gunas). As water remains water regardless of the vessels, as light remains itself regardless of the colours it brings out, so does the real remain real, regardless of conditions in which it is reflected. Why keep the reflection only in the focus of consciousness? Why not the real itself?
Q: Consciousness itself is a reflection. How can it hold the real?
M: To know that consciousness and its content are but reflections, changeful and transient, is the focussing of the real. The refusal to see the snake in the rope is the necessary condition for seeing the rope.
Q: Only necessary, or also sufficient?
M: One must also know that a rope exists and looks like a snake. Similarly, one must know that the real exists and is of the nature of witness-consciousness. Of course it is beyond the witness, but to enter it one must first realise the state of pure witnessing. The awareness of conditions brings one to the unconditioned.
Q: Can the unconditioned be experienced?
M: To know the conditioned as conditioned is all that can be said about the unconditioned. Positive terms are mere hints and misleading.
Q: Can we talk of witnessing the real?
M: How can we? We can talk only of the unreal, the illusory, the transient, the conditioned. To go beyond, we must pass through total negation of everything as having independent existence. All things depend.
Q: On what do they depend?
M: On consciousness. And consciousness depends on the witness.
Q: And the witness depends on the real?
M: The witness is the reflection of the real in all its purity. It depends on the condition of the mind. Where clarity and detachment predominate, the witness-consciousness comes into being. It is just like saying that where the water is clear and quiet, the image of the moon appears. Or like daylight that appears as sparkle in the diamond.
Q: Can there be consciousness without the witness?
M: Without the witness it becomes unconsciousness, just living. The witness is latent in every state of consciousness, just like light in every colour. There can be no knowledge without the knower and no knower without his witness. Not only you know, but you know that you know.
Q: If the unconditioned cannot be experienced, for all experience is conditioned, then why talk of it at all?
M: How can there be knowledge of the conditioned without the unconditioned? There must be a source from which all this flows, a foundation on which all stands. Self-realisation is primarily the knowledge of one's conditioning and the awareness that the infinite variety of conditions depends on our infinite ability to be conditioned and to give rise to variety. To the conditioned mind the unconditioned appears as the totality as well as the absence of everything. Neither can be directly experienced, but this does not make it not-existent.
Q: Is it not a feeling?
M: A feeling too is a state of mind. Just like a healthy body does not call for attention, so is the unconditioned free from experience. Take the experience of death. The ordinary man is afraid to die, because he is afraid of change. The jnani is not afraid because his mind is dead already. He does not think: 'I live'. He knows: 'There is life'. There is no change in it and no death. Death appears to be a change in time and space. Where there is neither time nor space, how can there be death? The jnani is already dead to name and shape. How can their loss affect him? The man in the train travels from place to place, but the man off the train goes nowhere, for he is not bound for a destination. He has nowhere to go, nothing to do, nothing to become. Those who make plans will be born to carry them out. Those who make no plans need not be born.
Q: What is the purpose of pain and pleasure?
M: Do they exist by themselves, or only in the mind?
Q: Still, they exist. Never mind the mind.
M: Pain and pleasure are merely symptoms, the results of wrong knowledge and wrong feeling. A result cannot have a purpose of its own.
Q: In God's economy everything must have a purpose.
M: Do you know God that you talk of him so freely? What is God to you? A sound, a word on paper, an idea in the mind?
Q: By his power I am born and kept alive.
M: And suffer, and die. Are you glad?
Q: It may be my own fault that I suffer and die. I was created unto life eternal.
M: Why eternal in the future and not in the past. What has a beginning must have an end. Only the beginningless is endless.
Q: God may be a mere concept, a working theory. A very useful concept all the same!
M: For this it must be free of inner contradictions, which is not the case. Why not work on the theory that you are your own creation and creator. At least there will be no external God to battle with.
Q: This world is so rich and complex -- how could I create it?
M: Do you know yourself enough to know what you can do and what you cannot? You do not know your own powers. You never investigated. Begin with yourself now.
Q: Everybody believes in God.
M: To me you are your own God. But if you think otherwise, think to the end. If there be God, then all is God's and all is for the best. Welcome all that comes with a glad and thankful heart. And love all creatures. This too will take you to your Self.
40. Only the Self is Real
Maharaj: The world is but a show, glittering and empty. It is, and yet is not. It is there as long as I want to see it and take part in it. When I cease caring, it dissolves. It has no cause and serves no purpose. It just happens when we are absentminded. It appears exactly as it looks, but there is no depth in it, nor meaning. Only the onlooker is real. Call him Self or Atma. To the Self the world is but a colourful show, which he enjoys as long as it lasts and forgets when it is over. Whatever happens on the stage makes him shudder in terror or roll with laughter, yet all the time he is aware that it is but a show. Without desire or fear he enjoys it, as it happens.
Questioner: The person immersed in the world has a life of many flavours. He weeps, he laughs, loves and hates, desires and fears, suffers and rejoices. The desireless and fearless jnani, what life has he? Is he not left high and dry in his aloofness?
M: His state is not so desolate. It tastes of the pure, uncaused, undiluted bliss. He is happy and fully aware that happiness is his very nature and that he need not do anything, nor strive for anything to secure it. It follows him, more real than the body, nearer than the mind itself. You imagine that without cause there can be no happiness. To me dependence on anything for happiness is utter misery. Pleasure and pain have causes, while my state is my own, totally uncaused, independent, unassailable.
Q: Like a play on the stage?
M: The play was written, planned and rehearsed. The world just spouts into being out of nothing and returns to nothing.
Q: Is there no creator? Was not the world in the mind of Brahma, before it was created?
M: As long as you are outside my state, you will have Creators, Preservers and Destroyers, but once with me you will know the Self only and see yourself in all.
Q: You function nevertheless.
M: When you are giddy, you see the world running circles round you. Obsessed with the idea of means and end, of work and purpose, you see me apparently functioning. In reality I only look. Whatever is done, is done on the stage. Joy and sorrow life and death, they all are real to the man in bondage; to me they are all in the show, as unreal as the show itself.
I may perceive the world just like you, but you believe to be in it, while I see it as an iridescent drop in the vast expanse of consciousness.
Q: We are all getting old. Old age is not pleasant -- all aches and pains, weakness and the approaching end. How does a jnani feel as an old man? How does his inner self look at his own senility.
M: As he gets older he grows more and more happy and peaceful. After all, he is going home. Like a traveller nearing his destination and collecting his luggage, he leaves the train without regret.
Q: Surely there is a contradiction. We are told the jnani is beyond all change. His happiness neither grows nor wanes. How can he grow happier because older, and that in spite of physical weakness and so on?
M: There is no contradiction. The reel of destiny is coming to its end -- the mind is happy. The mist of bodily existence is lifting -- the burden of the body is growing less from day to day.
Q: Let us say, the jnani is ill. He has caught some flu and every joint aches and burns. What is his state of mind?
M: Every sensation is contemplated in perfect equanimity. There is no desire for it, nor refusal. It is as it is and then he looks at it with a smile of affectionate detachment.
Q: He may be detached from his own suffering, but still it is there.
M: It is there, but it does not matter. Whatever state I am in, I see it as a state of mind to be accepted as it is.
Q: Pain is pain. You experience It all the same.
M: He who experiences the body, experiences its pains and pleasures. I am neither the body, nor the experiencer of the body.
Q: Let us say you are twenty-five years old. Your marriage is arranged and performed, and the household duties crowd upon you. How would you feel?
M: Just as I feel now. You keep on insisting that my inner state is moulded by outer events. It is just not so. Whatever happens, I remain. At the root of my being is pure awareness, a speck of intense light. This speck, by its very nature, radiates and creates pictures in space and events in time -- effortlessly and spontaneously. As long as it is merely aware there are no problems. But when the discriminative mind comes into being and creates distinctions, pleasure and pain arise. During sleep the mind is in abeyance and so are pain and pleasure. The process of, creation continues, but no notice is taken. The mind is a form of consciousness, and consciousness is an aspect of life. Life creates everything but the Supreme is beyond all.
Q: The Supreme is the master and consciousness -- his servant.
M: The master is in consciousness, not beyond it. In terms of consciousness the Supreme is both creation and dissolution, concretion and abstraction, the focal and the universal. It is also neither. Words do not reach there, nor mind.
Q: The jnani seems to be a very lonely being, all by himself.
M: He is alone, but he is all. He is not even a being. He is the beingness of all beings. Not even that. No words apply. He is what he is, the ground from which all grows.
Q: Are you not afraid to die?
M: I shall tell you how my Guru's Guru died. After announcing that his end was nearing, he stopped eating, without changing the routine of his daily life. On the eleventh day, at prayer time he was singing and clapping vigorously and suddenly died! Just like that, between two movements, like a blown out candle. Everybody dies as he lives. I am not afraid of death, because I am not afraid of life. I live a happy life and shall die a happy death. Misery is to be born, not to die. All depends how you look at it.
Q: There can be no evidence of your state. All I know about it is what you say. All I see is a very interesting old man.
M: You are the interesting old man, not me! I was never born. How can I grow old? What I appear to be to you exists only in your mind. I am not concerned with it.
Q: Even as a dream you are a most unusual dream.
M: I am a dream that can wake you up. You will have the proof of it in your very waking up.
Q: Imagine, news reach you that I have died. Somebody tells you: 'You know so-and-so? He died'. What would be your reaction?
M: I would be very happy to have you back home. Really glad to see you out of this foolishness.
Q: Which foolishness?
M: Of thinking that you were born and will die, that you are a body displaying a mind and all such nonsense. In my world nobody is born and nobody dies. Some people go on a journey and come back, some never leave. What difference does it make since they travel in dream lands, each wrapped up in his own dream. Only the waking up is important. It is enough to know the 'I am' as reality and also love.
Q: My approach is not so absolute, hence my question. Throughout the West people are in search of something real. They turn to science, which tells them a lot about matter, a little about the mind and nothing about the nature and purpose of consciousness. To them reality is objective, outside the observable and describable, directly or by inference; about the subjective aspect of reality they know nothing. It is extremely important to let them know that there is reality and it is to be found in the freedom of consciousness from matter and its limitations and distortions. Most of the people in the world just do not know that there is reality which can be found and experienced in consciousness. It seems very important that they should hear the good news from somebody who has actually experienced. Such witnesses have always existed and their testimony is precious.
M: Of course. The gospel of self-realisation, once heard, will never be forgotten. Like a seed left in the ground, it will wait for the right season and sprout and grow into a mighty tree.