Works of Sankaracharya, Advaita Vedanta and Hindu Sacred Scriptures
Pleasure and Happiness
Questioner: A friend of mine, a young man about twenty-five, was told that he is suffering from an incurable heart disease. He wrote to me that instead of slow death he preferred suicide. I replied to him that a disease incurable by Western medicine may be cured in some other way. There are yogic powers that can bring almost instantaneous changes in the human body. Effects of repeated fasting also verge on the miraculous. I wrote to him not to be in a hurry to die; rather to give a trial to other approaches.
There is a Yogi living not far from Bombay who possesses some miraculous powers. He has specialised in the control of the vital forces governing the body. I met some of his disciples and sent through to the Yogi my friend"s letter and photo. Let us see what happens.
Maharaj: Yes, miracles often take place. But there must be the will to live. Without it the miracles will not happen.
Q: Can such a desire be instilled?
M: Superficial desire, yes. But it will wear out. Fundamentally, nobody can compel another to live. Besides, there were cultures in which suicide had its acknowledged and respected place.
Q: Is it not obligatory to live out one"s natural span of life?
M: Natural -- spontaneously -- easy -- yes. But disease and suffering are not natural. There is noble virtue in unshakable endurance of whatever comes, but there is also dignity in the refusal of meaningless torture and humiliation.
Q: I was given a book written by a siddha. He describes in it many of his strange, even amazing experiences. According to him the way of a true sadhaka ends with his meeting his Guru and surrendering to him body, mind and heart. Henceforth the Guru takes over and becomes responsible for even the least event in the disciple"s life, until the two become one. One may call it realisation through identification. The disciple is taken over by a power he cannot control, nor resist, and feels as helpless as a leaf in the storm. The only thing that keeps him safe from madness and death is his faith in the love and power of his Guru.
M: Every teacher teaches according to his own experience. Experience is shaped by belief and belief is shaped by experience. Even the Guru is shaped by the disciple to his own image. It is the disciple that makes the Guru great. Once the Guru is seen to be the agent of a liberating power, which works both from within and without, whole-hearted surrender becomes natural and easy. Just as a man gripped by pain puts himself completely in the hands of a surgeon, so does the disciple entrust himself without reservation to his Guru. It is quite natural to seek help when its need is felt acutely. But, however powerful the Guru may be, he should not impose his will on the disciple. On the other hand, a disciple that distrusts and hesitates is bound to remain unfulfilled for no fault of his Guru.
Q: What happens then?
M: Life teaches, where all else fails. But the lessons of life take a long time to come. Much delay and trouble is saved by trusting and obeying. But such trust comes only when indifference and restlessness give place to clarity and peace. A man who keeps himself in low esteem, will not be able to trust himself, nor anybody else. Therefore, in the beginning the teacher tries his best to reassure the disciple as to his high origin, noble nature and glorious destiny. He relates to him the experiences of some saints as well as his own, instilling confidence in himself and in his infinite possibilities. When self-confidence and trust in the teacher come together, rapid and far-going changes in the disciple"s character and life can take place.
Q: I may not want to change. My life is good enough as it is.
M: You say so because you have not seen how painful is the life you live. You are like a child sleeping with a lollypop in its mouth. You may feel happy for a moment by being totally self-centred, but it is enough to have a good look at human faces to perceive the universality of suffering. Even your own happiness is so vulnerable and short-lived, at the mercy of a bank-crash, or a stomach ulcer. It is just a moment of respite, a mere gap between two sorrows. Real happiness is not vulnerable, because it does not depend on circumstances.
Q: Are you talking from your own experience? Are you too unhappy?
M: I have no personal problems. But the world is full of living beings whose lives are squeezed between fear and craving. They are like cattle driven to the slaughter house, jumping and frisking, carefree and happy, yet dead and skinned within an hour.
You say you are happy. Are you really happy, or are you merely trying to convince yourself. Look at yourself fearlessly and you will at once realise that your happiness depends on conditions and circumstances, hence it is momentary, not real. Real happiness flows from within.
Q: Of what use is your happiness to me? It does not make me happy.
M: You can have the whole of it and more for the mere asking. But you do not ask; you don"t seem to want.
Q: Why do you say so? I do want to be happy.
M: You are quite satisfied with pleasures. There is no place for happiness. Empty your cup and clean it. It cannot be filled otherwise. Others can give you pleasure, but never happiness.
Q: A chain of pleasurable events is good enough.
M: Soon it ends in pain, if not in disaster. What is Yoga after all, but seeking lasting happiness within?
Q: You can speak only for the East. In the West the conditions are different and what you say does not apply.
M: There is no East and West in sorrow and fear. The problem is universal -- suffering and the ending of suffering. The cause of suffering is dependence and independence is the remedy. Yoga is the science and the art of self-liberation through self-understanding.
Q: I do not think I am fit for Yoga.
M: What else are you fit for? All your going and coming, seeking pleasure, loving and hating -- all this shows that you struggle against limitations, self-imposed or accepted. In your ignorance you make mistakes and cause pain to yourself and others, but the urge is there and shall not be denied. The same urge that seeks birth, happiness and death shall seek understanding and liberation. It is like a spark of fire in a cargo of cotton. You may not know about it, but sooner or later the ship will burst in flames. Liberation is a natural process and in the long run, inevitable. But it is within your power to bring it into the now.
Q: Then why are so few liberated people in the world?
M: In a forest only some of the trees are in full bloom at a given moment, yet every one will have its turn.
Sooner or later your physical and mental resources will come to an end. What will you do then? Despair? All right, despair. You will get tired of despairing and begin to question. At that moment you will be fit for conscious Yoga.
Q: I find all this seeking and brooding most unnatural.
M: Yours is the naturalness of a born cripple. You may be unaware but it does not make you normal. What it means to be natural or normal you do not know, nor do you know that you do not know.
At present you are drifting and therefore in danger, for to a drifter any moment anything may happen. It would be better to wake up and see your situation. That you are -- you know. What you are -- you don't know. Find out what you are.
Q: Why is there so much suffering in the world?
M: Selfishness is the cause of suffering. There is no other cause.
Q: I understood that suffering is inherent in limitation.
M: Differences and distinctions are not the causes of sorrow. Unity in diversity is natural and good. It is only with separateness and self-seeking that real suffering appears in the world.
92. Go Beyond the l-am-the-body Idea
Questioner: We are like animals, running about in vain pursuits and there seems to be no end to it. Is there a way out?
Maharaj: Many ways will be offered to you which will but take you round and bring you back to your starting point. First realise that your problem exists in your waking state only, that however painful it is, you are able to forget it altogether when you go to sleep. When you are awake you are conscious; when you are asleep, you are only alive. Consciousness and life -- both you may call God; but you are beyond both, beyond God, beyond being and not-being. What prevents you from knowing yourself as all and beyond all, is the mind based on memory. It has power over you as long as you trust it; don't struggle with it; just disregard it. Deprived of attention, it will slow down and reveal the mechanism of its working. Once you know its nature and purpose, you will not allow it to create imaginary problems.
Q: Surely, not all problems are imaginary. There are real problems.
M: What problems can there be which the mind did not create? Life and death do not create problems; pains and pleasures come and go, experienced and forgotten. It is memory and anticipation that create problems of attainment or avoidance, coloured by like and dislike. Truth and love are man's real nature and mind and heart are the means of its expression.
Q: How to bring the mind under control? And the heart, which does not know what it wants?
M: They cannot work in darkness. They need the light of pure awareness to function rightly. All effort at control will merely subject them to the dictates of memory. Memory is a good servant, but a bad master. It effectively prevents discovery. There is no place for effort in reality. It is selfishness, due to a self-identification with the body, that is the main problem and the cause of all other problems. And selfishness cannot be removed by effort, only by clear insight into its causes and effects. Effort is a sign of conflict between incompatible desires. They should be seen as they are -- then only they dissolve.
Q: And what remains?
M: That which cannot change, remains. The great peace, the deep silence, the hidden beauty of reality remain. While it can not be conveyed through words, it is waiting for you to experience for yourself.
Q: Must not one be fit and eligible for realisation? Our nature is animal to the core. Unless it is conquered, how can we hope for reality to dawn?
M: Leave the animal alone. Let it be. Just remember what you are. Use every incident of the day to remind you that without you as the witness there would be neither animal nor God. Understand that you are both, the essence and the substance of all there is. and remain firm in your understanding.
Q: Is understanding enough? Don't I need more tangible proofs?
M: It is your understanding that will decide about the validity of proofs. But what more tangible proof do you need than your own existence? Wherever you go you find yourself. However far you reach out in time, you are there.
Q: Obviously, I am not all-pervading and eternal. I am only here and now.
M: Good enough. The 'here' is everywhere and the now -- always. Go beyond the 'I-am-the-body' idea and you will find that space and time are in you and not you in space and time. Once you have understood this, the main obstacle to realisation is removed.
Q: What is the realisation which is beyond understanding?
M: Imagine a dense forest full of tigers and you in a strong steel cage. Knowing that you are well protected by the cage, you watch the tigers fearlessly. Next you find the tigers in the cage and yourself roaming about in the jungle. Last -- the cage disappears and you ride the tigers!
Q: I attended one of the group meditation sessions, held recently in Bombay, and witnessed the frenzy and self-abandon of the participants. Why do people go for such things?
M: These are all inventions of a restless mind pampering to people in search of sensations. Some of them help the unconscious to disgorge suppressed memories and longings and to that extent they provide relief. But ultimately they leave the practitioner where he was -- or worse.
Q: I have read recently a book by a Yogi on his experiences in meditation. It is full of visions and sounds, colours and melodies; quite a display and a most gorgeous entertainment! In the end they all faded out and only the feeling of utter fearlessness remained. No wonder -- a man who passed through all these experiences unscathed need not be afraid of anything! Yet I was wondering of what use is such book to me?
M: Of no use, probably, since it does not attract you. Others may be impressed. People differ. But all are faced with the fact of their own existence. 'I am' is the ultimate fact; 'Who am l?' is the ultimate question to which everybody must find an answer.
Q: The same answer?
M: The same in essence, varied in expression.
Each seeker accepts, or invents, a method which suits him, applies it to himself with some earnestness and effort, obtains results according to his temperament and expectations, casts them into the mound of words, builds them into a system, establishes a tradition and begins to admit others into his 'school of Yoga'. It is all built on memory and imagination. No such school is valueless, nor indispensable; in each one can progress up to the point, when all desire for progress must be abandoned to make further progress possible. Then all schools are given up, all effort ceases; in solitude and darkness the vast step is made which ends ignorance and fear forever.
The true teacher, however, will not imprison his disciple in a prescribed set of ideas, feelings and actions; on the contrary, he will show him patiently the need to be free from all ideas and set patterns of behaviour, to be vigilant and earnest and go with life wherever it takes him, not to enjoy or suffer, but to understand and learn.
Under the right teacher the disciple learns to learn, not to remember and obey. Satsang, the company of the noble, does not mould, it liberates. Beware of all that makes you dependent. Most of the so-called 'surrenders to the Guru' end in disappointment, if not in tragedy. Fortunately, an earnest seeker will disentangle himself in time, the wiser for the experience.
Q: Surely, self-surrender has its value.
M: Self-surrender is the surrender of all self-concern. It cannot be done, it happens when you realise your true nature. Verbal self-surrender, even when accompanied by feeling, is of little value and breaks down under stress. At the best it shows an aspiration, not an actual fact.
Q: In the Rigveda there is the mention of the adhi yoga, the Primordial Yoga, consisting of the marriage of pragna with Prana, which, as I understand, means the bringing together of wisdom and life. Would you say it means also the union of Dharma and Karma, righteousness and action?
M: Yes, provided by righteousness you mean harmony with one's true nature and by action -- only unselfish and desireless action.
In adhi yoga life itself is the Guru and the mind -- the disciple. The mind attends to life, it does not dictate. Life flows naturally and effortlessly and the mind removes the obstacles to its even flow.
Q: Is not life by its very nature repetitive? Will not following life lead to stagnation?
M: By itself life is immensely creative. A seed, in course of time, becomes a forest. The mind is like a forester -- protecting and regulating the immense vital urge of existence.
Q: Seen as the service of life by the mind, the adhi yoga is a perfect democracy. Everyone is engaged in living a life to his best capacity and knowledge, everyone is a disciple of the same Guru.
M: You may say so. It may be so -- potentially. But unless life is loved and trusted, followed with eagerness and zest, it would be fanciful to talk of Yoga, which is a movement in consciousness, awareness in action.
Q: Once I watched a mountain-stream flowing between the boulders. At each boulder the commotion was different, according to the shape and size of the boulder. Is not every person a mere commotion over a body, while life is one and eternal?
M: The commotion and the water are not separate. It is the disturbance that makes you aware of water. Consciousness is always of movement, of change. There can be no such thing as changeless consciousness. Changelessness wipes out consciousness immediately. A man deprived of outer or inner sensations blanks out, or goes beyond consciousness and unconsciousness into the birthless and deathless state. Only when spirit and matter come together consciousness is born.
Q: Are they one or two?
M: It depends on the words you use: they are one, or two, or three. On investigation three become two and two become one. Take the simile of face -- mirror -- image. Any two of them presuppose the third which unites the two. In sadhana you see the three as two, until you realise the two as one. A long as you are engrossed in the world, you are unable to know yourself: to know yourself, turn away your attention from the world and turn it within.
Q: I cannot destroy the world.
M: There is no need. Just understand that what you see is not what is. Appearances will dissolve on investigation and the underlying reality will come to the surface. You need not burn the house to get out of it. You just walk out. It is only when you cannot come and go freely that the house becomes a jail. I move in and out of consciousness easily and naturally and therefore to me the world is a home, not a prison.
Q: But ultimately is there a world, or is there none?
M: What you see is nothing but your self. Call it what you like, it does not change the fact. Through the film of destiny your own light depicts pictures on the screen. You are the viewer, the light, the picture and the screen. Even the film of destiny (prarabdha) is self-selected and self-imposed. The spirit is a sport and enjoys to overcome obstacles. The harder the task the deeper and wider his self-realisation.
93. Man is not the Doer
Questioner: From the beginning of my life I am pursued by a sense of incompleteness. From school to college, to work, to marriage, to affluence, I imagined that the next thing will surely give me peace, but there was no peace. This sense of unfulfillment keeps on growing as years pass by.
Maharaj: As long as there is the body and the sense of identity with the body, frustration is inevitable. Only when you know yourself as entirely alien to and different from the body, will you find respite from the mixture of fear and craving inseparable from the 'I-am-the-body' idea. Merely assuaging fears and satisfying desires will not remove this sense of emptiness you are trying to escape from; only self-knowledge can help you. By self-knowledge I mean full knowledge of what you are not. Such knowledge is attainable and final; but to the discovery of what you are there can be no end. The more you discover, the more there remains to discover.
Q: For this we must have different parents and schools, live in a different society.
M: You; cannot change your circumstances, but your attitudes you can change. You need not be attached to the non-essentials. Only the necessary is good. There is peace only in the essential.
Q: It is truth I seek, not peace.
M: You cannot see the true unless you are at peace. A quiet mind is essential for right perception, which again is required for self-realisation.
Q: I have so much to do. I just cannot afford to keep my mind quiet.
M: It is because of your illusion that you are the doer. In reality things are done to you, not by you.
Q: If I just let things happen, how can I be sure that they will happen my way? Surely I must bend them to my desire.
M: Your desire just happens to you along with its fulfilment, or non-fulfilment. You can change neither. You may believe that you exert yourself, strive and struggle. Again, it all merely happens, including the fruits of the work. Nothing is by you and for you. All is in the picture exposed on the cinema screen, nothing in the light, including what you take yourself to be, the person. You are the light only.
Q: If I am light only, how did I come to forget it?
M: You have not forgotten. It is in the picture on the screen that you forget and then remember. You never cease to be a man because you dream to be a tiger. Similarly you are pure light appearing as a picture on the screen and also becoming one with it.
Q: Since all happens, why should I worry?
M: Exactly. Freedom is freedom from worry. Having realised that you cannot influence the results, pay no attention to your desires and fears. Let them come and go. Don't give them the nourishment of interest and attention.
Q: If I turn my attention from what happens, what am I to live by?
M: Again it is like asking: 'What shall I do, if I stop dreaming?' Stop and see. You need not be anxious: 'What next?' There is always the next. Life does not begin nor, end: immovable -- it moves, momentary -- it lasts. Light can not be exhausted even if innumerable pictures are projected by it. So does life fill every shape to the brim and return to its source, when the shape breaks down.
Q: If life is so wonderful, how could ignorance happen?
M: You want to treat the disease without having seen the patient! Before you ask about ignorance, why don't you enquire first, who is the ignorant? When you say you are ignorant, you do not know that you have imposed the concept of ignorance over the actual state of your thoughts and feelings. Examine them as they occur, give them your full attention and you will find that there is nothing like ignorance, only inattention. Give attention to what worries you, that is all. After all, worry is mental pain and pain is invariably a call for attention. The moment you give attention, the call for it ceases and the question of ignorance dissolves. Instead of waiting for an answer to your question, find out who is asking the question and what makes him ask it. You will soon find that it is the mind, goaded by fear of pain, that asks the question. And in fear there is memory and anticipation, past and future. Attention brings you back to the present, the now, and the presence in the now is a state ever at hand, but rarely noticed.
Q: You are reducing sadhana to simple attention. How is it that other teachers teach complete, difficult and time-consuming courses?
M: The Gurus usually teach the sadhanas by which they themselves have reached their goal, whatever their goal may be. This is but natural, for their own sadhana they know intimately. I was taught to give attention to my sense of 'I am" and I found it supremely effective. Therefore, I can speak of it with full confidence. But often people come with their bodies, brain and minds so mishandled, perverted and weak, that the state of formless attention is beyond them. In such cases, some simpler token of earnestness is appropriate. The repetition of a mantra, or gazing at a picture will prepare their body and mind for a deeper and more direct search. After all, it is earnestness that is indispensable, the crucial factor. Sadhana is only a vessel and it must be filled to the brim with earnestness, which is but love in action. For nothing can be done without love.
Q: We love only ourselves.
M: Were it so, it would be splendid! Love your self wisely and you will reach the summit of perfection. Everybody loves his body, but few love their real being.
Q: Does my real being need my love?
M: Your real being is love itself and your many loves are its reflections according to the situation at the moment.
Q: We are selfish, we know only self-love.
M: Good enough for a start. By all means wish yourself well. Think over, feel out deeply what is really good for you and strive for it earnestly. Very soon you will find that the real is your only good.
Q: Yet I do not understand why the various Gurus insist on prescribing complicated and difficult sadhanas. Don't they know better?
M: It is not what you do, but what you stop doing that matters. The people who begin their sadhana are so feverish and restless, that they have to be very busy to keep themselves on the track. An absorbing routine is good for them. After some time they quieten down and turn away from effort. In peace and silence the skin of the 'I' dissolves and the inner and the outer become one. The real sadhana is effortless.
Q: I have sometimes the feeling that space itself is my body.
M: When you are bound by the illusion: 'I am this body', you are merely a point in space and a moment in time. When the self-identification with the body is no more, all space and time are in your mind, which is a mere ripple in consciousness, which is awareness reflected in nature. Awareness and matter are the active and the passive aspects of pure being, which is in both and beyond both. Space and time are the body and the mind of the universal existence. My feeling is that all that happens in space and time happens to me, that every experience is my experience every form is my form. What I take myself to be, becomes my body and all that happens to that body becomes my mind. But at the root of the universe there is pure awareness, beyond space and time, here and now. Know it to be your real being and act accordingly.
Q: What difference will it make in action what I take myself to be. Actions just happen according to circumstances.
M: Circumstances and conditions rule the ignorant. The knower of reality is not compelled. The only law he obeys is that of love.
94. You are Beyond Space and Time
Questioner: You keep on saying that I was never born and will never die. If so, how is it that I see the world as one which has been born and will surely die?
Maharaj: You believe so because you have never questioned your belief that you are the body which, obviously, is born and dies. While alive, it attracts attention and fascinates so completely that rarely does one perceive one's real nature. It is like seeing the surface of the ocean and completely forgetting the immensity beneath. The world is but the surface of the mind and the mind is infinite. What we call thoughts are just ripples in the mind. When the mind is quiet it reflects reality. When it is motionless through and through, it dissolves and only reality remains. This reality is so concrete, so actual, so much more tangible than mind and matter, that compared to it even diamond is soft like butter. This overwhelming actuality makes the world dreamlike, misty, irrelevant.
Q: This world, with so much suffering in it, how can you see it as irrelevant. What callousness!
M: It is you who is callous, not me. If your world is so full of suffering, do something about it; don't add to it through greed or indolence. I am not bound by your dreamlike world. In my world the seeds of suffering, desire and fear are not sown and suffering does not grow. My world is free from opposites, of mutually distinctive discrepancies; harmony pervades; its peace is rocklike; this peace and silence are my body.
Q: What you say reminds me of the dharmakaya of the Buddha.
M: Maybe. We need not run off with terminology. Just see the person you imagine yourself to be as a part of the world you perceive within your mind and look at the mind from the outside, for you are not the mind. After all, your only problem is the eager self-identification with whatever you perceive. Give up this habit, remember that you are not what you perceive, use your power of alert aloofness. See yourself in all that lives and your behaviour will express your vision. Once you realise that there is nothing in this world, which you can call your own, you look at it from the outside as you look at a play on the stage, or a picture on the screen, admiring and enjoying, but really unmoved. As long as you imagine yourself to be something tangible and solid, a thing among things, actually existing in time and space, short-lived and vulnerable, naturally you will be anxious to survive and increase. But when you know yourself as beyond space and time -- in contact with them only at the point of here and now, otherwise all-pervading and all-containing, unapproachable, unassailable, invulnerable -- you will be afraid no longer. Know yourself as you are -- against fear there is no other remedy.
You have to learn to think and feel on these lines, or you will remain indefinitely on the personal level of desire and fear, gaining and losing, growing and decaying. A personal problem cannot be solved on its own level. The very desire to live is the. messenger of death, as the longing to be happy is the outline of sorrow. The world is an ocean of pain and fear, of anxiety and despair. Pleasures are like the fishes, few and swift, rarely come, quickly gone. A man of low intelligence believes, against all evidence, that he is an exception and that the world owes him happiness. But the world cannot give what it does not have; unreal to the core, it is of no use for real happiness. It cannot be otherwise. We seek the real because we are unhappy with the unreal. Happiness is our real nature and we shall never rest until we find it. But rarely we know where to seek it. Once you have understood that the world is but a mistaken view of reality, and is not what it appears to be, you are free of its obsessions. Only what is compatible with your real being can make you happy and the world, as you perceive it, is its outright denial.
Keep very quiet and watch what comes to the surface of the mind. Reject the known, welcome the so far unknown and reject it in its turn. Thus you come to a state in which there is no knowledge, only being, in which being itself is knowledge. To know by being is direct knowledge. It is based on the identity of the seer and the seen. Indirect knowledge is based on sensation and memory, on proximity of the perceiver and his percept, confined with the contrast between the two. The same with happiness. Usually you have to be sad to know gladness and glad to know sadness. True happiness is uncaused and this cannot disappear for lack of stimulation. It is not the opposite of sorrow, it includes all sorrow and suffering.
Q: How can one remain happy among so much suffering?
M: One cannot help it -- the inner happiness is overwhelmingly real. Like the sun in the sky, its expressions may be clouded, but it is never absent.
Q: When we are in trouble, we are bound to be unhappy.
M: Fear is the only trouble. Know yourself as independent and you will be free from fear and its shadows.
Q: What is the difference between happiness and pleasure?
M: Pleasure depends on things, happiness does not.
Q: If happiness is independent, why are we not always happy?
M: As long as we believe that we need things to make us happy, we shall also believe that in their absence we must be miserable. Mind always shapes itself according to its beliefs. Hence the importance of convincing oneself that one need not be prodded into happiness; that, on the contrary, pleasure is a distraction and a nuisance, for it merely increases the false conviction that one needs to have and do things to be happy when in reality it is just the opposite.
But why talk of happiness at all? You do not think of happiness except when you are unhappy. A man who says: 'Now I am happy', is between two sorrows -- past and future. This happiness is mere excitement caused by relief from pain. Real happiness is utterly unselfconscious. It is best expressed negatively as: 'there is nothing wrong with me. I have nothing to worry about'. After all, the ultimate purpose of all sadhana is to reach a point, when this conviction, instead of being only verbal, is based on the actual and ever-present experience.
Q: Which experience?
M: The experience of being empty, uncluttered by memories and expectations; it is like the happiness of open spaces, of being young, of having all the time and energy for doing things, for discovery, for adventure.
Q: What remains to discover?
M: The universe without and the immensity within as they are in reality, in the great mind and heart of God. The meaning and purpose of existence, the secret of suffering, life's redemption from ignorance.
Q: If being happy is the same as being free from fear and worry, cannot it be said that absence of trouble is the cause of happiness?
M: A state of absence, of non-existence cannot be a cause; the pre-existence of a cause is implied in the notion. Your natural state, in which nothing exists, cannot be a cause of becoming; the causes are hidden in the great and mysterious power of memory. But your true home is in nothingness, in emptiness of all content.
Q: Emptiness and nothingness -- how dreadful!
M: You face it most cheerfully, when you go to sleep! Find out for yourself the state of wakeful sleep and you will find it quite in harmony with your real nature. Words can only give you the idea and the idea is not the experience. All I can say is that true happiness has no cause and what has no cause is immovable. Which does not mean it is perceivable, as pleasure. What is perceivable is pain and pleasure; the state of freedom from sorrow can be described only negatively. To know it directly you must go beyond the mind addicted to causality and the tyranny of time.
Q: If happiness is not conscious and consciousness -- not happy, what is the link between the two?
M: Consciousness being a product of conditions and circumstances, depends on them and changes along with them. What is independent, uncreated, timeless and changeless, and yet ever new and fresh, is beyond the mind. When the mind thinks of it, the mind dissolves and only happiness remains.
Q: When all goes, nothingness remains.
M: How can there be nothing without something? Nothing is only an idea, it depends on the memory of something. Pure being is quite independent of existence, which is definable and describable.
Q: Please tell us; beyond the mind does consciousness continue, or does it end with the mind?
M: Consciousness comes and goes, awareness shines immutably.
Q: Who is aware in awareness?
M: When there is a person, there is also consciousness. 'I am' mind, consciousness denote the same state. If you say 'I am aware', it only means: 'I am conscious of thinking about being aware'. There is no 'I am' in awareness.
Q: What about witnessing?
M: Witnessing is of the mind. The witness goes with the witnessed. In the state of non-duality all separation ceases.
Q: What about you? Do you continue in awareness?
M: The person, the 'I am this body, this mind, this chain of memories, this bundle of desires and fears' disappears, but something you may call identity, remains. It enables me to become a person when required. Love creates its own necessities, even of becoming a person.
Q: It is said that Reality manifests itself as existence -- consciousness -- bliss. Are they absolute or relative?
M: They are relative to each other and depend on each other. Reality is independent of its expressions.
Q: What is the relation between reality and its expressions?
M: No relation. In reality all is real and identical. As we put it, saguna and nirguna are one in Parabrahman. There is only the Supreme. In movement, it Is saguna. Motionless, it is nirguna. But it is only the mind that moves or does not move. The real is beyond, you are beyond. Once you have understood that nothing perceivable, or conceivable can be yourself, you are free of your imaginations. To see everything as imagination, born of desire, is necessary for self-realisation. We miss the real by lack of attention and create the unreal by excess of imagination.
You have to give your heart and mind to these things and brood over them repeatedly. It is like cooking food. You must keep it on the fire for some time before it is ready.
Q: Am I not under the sway of destiny, of my karma? What can I do against it? What I am and what I do is pre-determined. Even my so-called free choice is predetermined; only I am not aware of it and imagine myself to be free.
M: Again, it all depends how you look at it. Ignorance is like a fever -- it makes you see things which are not there. karma is the divinely prescribed treatment. Welcome it and follow the instructions faithfully and you will get well. A patient will leave the hospital after he recovers. To insist on immediate freedom of choice and action will merely postpone recovery. Accept your destiny and fulfil it -- this is the shortest way to freedom from destiny, though not from love and its compulsions. To act from desire and fear is bondage, to act from love is freedom.
95. Accept Life as it Comes
Questioner: I was here last year. Now I am again before you. What makes me come I really ~o not know, but somehow I cannot forget you.
Maharaj: Some forget, some do not, according to their destinies, which you may call chance, if you prefer.
Q: Between chance and destiny there is a basic difference.
M: Only in your mind. In fact, you do not know what causes what? Destiny is only a blanket word to cover up your ignorance. Chance is another word.
Q: Without knowledge of causes and their results can there be freedom?
M: Causes and results are infinite in number and variety. Everything affects everything. In this universe, when one thing changes, everything changes. Hence the great power of man in changing the world by changing himself.
Q: According to your own words, you have, by the grace of your Guru, changed radically some forty years ago. Yet the world remains as it had been before.
M: My world has changed completely. Yours remains the same, for you have not changed.
Q: How is it that your change has not affected me?
M: Because there was no communion between us. Do not consider yourself as separate from me and we shall at once share in the common state.
Q: I have some property in the United States which I intend to sell and buy some land in the Himalayas. I shall build a house, lay out a garden, get two or three cows and live quietly. People tell me that property and quiet are not compatible, that I shall at once get into trouble with officials, neighbours and thieves. Is it inevitable?
M: The least you can expect is an endless succession of visitors who will make your abode into a free and open guesthouse. Better accept your life as it shapes, go home and look after your wife with love and care. Nobody else needs you. Your dreams of glory will land you in more trouble.
Q: It is not glory that I seek. I seek Reality.
M: For this you need a well-ordered and quiet life, peace of mind and immense earnestness. At every moment whatever comes to you unasked, comes from God and will surely help you, if you make the fullest use of it. It is only what you strive for, out of your own imagination and desire, that gives you trouble.
Q: Is destiny the same as grace?
M: Absolutely. Accept life as it comes and you will find it a blessing.
Q: I can accept my own life. How can I accept the sort of life others are compelled to live?
M: You are accepting it anyhow. The sorrows of others do not interfere with your pleasures. If you were really compassionate, you would have abandoned long ago all self-concern and entered the state from which alone you can really help.
Q: If I have a big house and enough land, I may create an Ashram, with individual rooms; common meditation hall, canteen, library, office etc.
M: Ashrams are not made, they happen. You cannot start nor prevent them, as you cannot start or stop a river. Too many factors are involved in the creation of a successful Ashram and your inner maturity is only one of them. Of course, if you are ignorant of your real being, whatever you do must turn to ashes. You cannot imitate a Guru and get away with it. All hypocrisy will end in disaster.
Q: What is the harm in behaving like a saint even before being one?
M: Rehearsing saintliness is a sadhana. It is perfectly all right. provided no merit is claimed.
Q: How can I know whether I am able to start an Ashram unless I try?
M: As long as you take yourself to be a person, a body and a mind, separate from the stream of life, having a will of its own, pursuing its own aims, you are living merely on the surface and whatever you do will be short-lived and of little value, mere straw to feed the flames of vanity. You must put in true worth before you can expect something real. What is your worth?
Q: By what measure shall I measure it?
M: Look at the content of your mind. You are what you think about. Are you not most of the time busy with your own little person and its daily needs?
The value of regular meditation is that it takes you away from the humdrum of daily routine and reminds you that you are not what you believe yourself to be. But even remembering is not enough -- action must follow conviction. Don't be like the rich man who has made a detailed will, but refuses to die.
Q: Is not gradualness the law of life?
M: Oh, no. The preparation alone is gradual, the change itself is sudden and complete. Gradual change does not take you to a new level of conscious being. You need courage to let go.
Q: I admit it is courage that I lack.
M: It is because you are not fully convinced. Complete conviction generates both desire and courage. And meditation is the art of achieving faith through understanding. In meditation you consider the teaching received, in all its aspects and repeatedly, until out of clarity confidence is born and, with confidence, action. Conviction and action are inseparable. If action does not follow conviction, examine your convictions, don't accuse yourself of lack of courage. Self-depreciation will take you nowhere. Without clarity and emotional assent of what use is will?
Q: What do you mean by emotional assent? Am I not to act against my desires?
M: You will not act against your desires. Clarity is not enough. Energy comes from love -- you must love to act -- whatever the shape and object of your love. Without clarity and charity courage is destructive. People at war are often wonderfully courageous, but what of it?
Q: I see quite clearly that all I want is a house in a garden where I shall live in peace. Why should I not act on my desire?
M: By all means, act. But do not forget the inevitable, unexpected. Without rain your garden will not flourish. You need courage for adventure.
Q: I need time to collect my courage, don't hustle me. Let me ripen for action.
M: The entire approach is wrong. Action delayed is action abandoned. There may be other chances for other actions, but the present moment is lost -- irretrievably lost. All preparation is for the future -- you cannot prepare for the present.
Q: What is wrong with preparing for the future?
M: Acting in the now is not much helped by your preparations. Clarity is now, action is now. Thinking of being ready impedes action. And action is the touchstone of reality.
Q: Even when we act without conviction?
M: You cannot live without action, and behind each action there is some fear or desire. Ultimately, all you do is based on your conviction that the world is real and independent of yourself. Were you convinced of the contrary, your behaviour would have been quite different.
Q: There is nothing wrong with my convictions; my actions are shaped by circumstances.
M: In other words, you are convinced of the reality of your circumstances, of the world in which you live. Trace the world to its source and you will find that before the world was, you were and when the world is no longer, you remain. Find your timeless being and your action will bear it testimony. Did you find it?
Q: No, I did not.
M: Then what else have you to do? Surely, this is the most urgent task. You cannot see yourself as independent of everything unless you drop everything and remain unsupported and undefined. Once you know yourself, it is immaterial what you do, but to realise your independence, you must test it by letting go all you were dependent on. The realised man lives on the level of the absolutes; his wisdom, love and courage are complete, there is nothing relative about him. Therefore he must prove himself by tests more stringent, undergo trials more demanding. The tester, the tested and the set up for testing are all within; it is an inner drama to which none can be a party.
Q: Crucifixion, death and resurrection -- we are on familiar grounds! I have read, heard and talked about it endlessly, but to do it I find myself incapable.
M: Keep quiet, undisturbed, and the wisdom and the power will come on their own. You need not hanker. Wait in silence of the heart and mind. It is very easy to be quiet, but willingness is rare. You people want to become supermen overnight. Stay without ambition, without the least desire, exposed, vulnerable, unprotected, uncertain and alone, completely open to and welcoming life as it happens, without the selfish conviction that all must yield you pleasure or profit, material or so-called spiritual.
Q: I respond to what you say, but I just do not see how it is done.
M: If you know how to do it, you will not do it. Abandon every attempt, just be; don't strive, don't struggle, let go every support, hold on to the blind sense of being, brushing off all else. This is enough.
Q: How is this brushing done? The more I brush off, the more it comes to the surface.
M: Refuse attention, let things come and go. Desires and thoughts are also things. Disregard them. Since immemorial time the dust of events was covering the clear mirror of your mind, so that only memories you could see. Brush off the dust before it has time to settle; this will lay bare the old layers until the true nature of your mind is discovered. It is all very simple and comparatively easy; be earnest and patient, that is all. Dispassion, detachment, freedom from desire and fear, from all self-concern, mere awareness -- free from memory and expectation -- this is the state of mind to which discovery can happen. After all, liberation is but the freedom to discover.
96. Abandon Memories and Expectations
Questioner: I am an American by birth and for the last one year I was staying in an Ashram in Madhya Pradesh, studying Yoga in its many aspects. We had a teacher, whose Guru, a disciple of the great Sivananda Saraswati, stays in Monghyr. I stayed at Ramanashram also. While in Bombay I went through an intensive course of Burmese meditation managed by one Goenka. Yet I have not found peace. There is an improvement in self-control and day-to-day discipline, but that is all. I cannot say exactly what caused what. I visited many holy places. How each acted on me, I cannot say.
Maharaj: Good results will come, sooner or later. At Sri Ramanashram did you get some instructions?
Q: Yes, some English people were teaching me and also an Indian follower of jnana yoga, residing there permanently, was giving me lessons.
M: What are your plans?
Q: I have to return to the States because of visa difficulties. I intend to complete my B.Sc., study Nature Cure and make it my profession.
M: A good profession, no doubt.
Q: Is there any danger in pursuing the path of Yoga at all cost?
M: Is a match-stick dangerous when the house is on fire? The search for reality is the most dangerous of all undertakings for it will destroy the world in which you live. But if your motive is love of truth and life, you need not be afraid.
Q: I am afraid of my own mind. It is so unsteady!
M: In the mirror of your mind images appear and disappear. The mirror remains. Learn to distinguish the immovable in the movable, the unchanging in the changing, till you realise that all differences are in appearance only and oneness is a fact. This basic identity -- you may call God, or Brahman, or the matrix (Prakriti), the words matters little -- is only the realisation that all is one. Once you can say with confidence born from direct experience: 'I am the world, the world is myself', you are free from desire and fear on one hand and become totally responsible for the world on the other. The senseless sorrow of mankind becomes your sole concern.
Q: So even a jnani has his problems!
M: Yes, but they are no longer of his own creation. His suffering is not poisoned by a sense of guilt. There is nothing wrong with suffering for the sins of others. Your Christianity is based on this.
Q: Is not all suffering self-created?
M: Yes, as long as there is a separate self to create it. In the end you know that there is no sin, no guilt, no retribution, only life in its endless transformations. With the dissolution of the personal 'I' personal suffering disappears. What remains is the great sadness of compassion, the horror of the unnecessary pain.
Q: Is there anything unnecessary in the scheme of things?
M: Nothing is necessary, nothing is inevitable. Habit and passion blind and mislead. Compassionate awareness heals and redeems. There is nothing we can do, we can only let things happen according to their nature.
Q: Do you advocate complete passivity?
M: Clarity and charity is action. Love is not lazy and clarity directs. You need not worry about action, look after your mind and heart. Stupidity and selfishness are the only evil.
Q: What is better -- repetition of God's name, or meditation?
M: Repetition will stabilise your breath. With deep and quiet breathing vitality will improve, which will influence the brain and help the mind to grow pure and stable and fit for meditation. Without vitality little can be done, hence the importance of its protection and increase. Posture and breathing are a part of Yoga, for the body must be healthy and well under control, but too much concentration on the body defeats its own purpose, for it is the mind that is primary in the beginning. When the mind has been put to rest and disturbs no longer the inner space (chidakash), the body acquires a new meaning and its transformation becomes both necessary and possible.
Q: I have been wandering all over India, meeting many Gurus and learning in driblets several Yogas. Is it all right to have a taste of everything?
M: No, this is but an introduction. You will meet a man who will help you find your own way.
Q: I feel that the Guru of my own choice can not be my real Guru. To be real he must come unexpected and be irresistible.
M: Not to anticipate is best. The way you respond is decisive.
Q: Am I the master of my responses?
M: Discrimination and dispassion practised now will yield their fruits at the proper time. If the roots are healthy and well-watered, the fruits are sure to be sweet. Be pure, be alert, keep ready.
Q: Are austerities and penances of any use?
M: To meet all the vicissitudes of life is penance enough! You need not invent trouble. To meet cheerfully whatever life brings is all the austerity you need.
Q: What about sacrifice?
M: Share willingly and gladly all you have with whoever needs -- don't invent self-inflicted cruelties.
Q: What is self-surrender?
M: Accept what comes.
Q: I feel I am too weak to stand on my own legs. I need the holy company of a Guru and of good people. Equanimity is beyond me. To accept what comes as it comes, frightens me. I think of my returning to the States with horror.
M: Go back and make the best use of your opportunities. Get your B.Sc. degree first. You can always return to India for your Nature Cure studies.
Q: I am quite aware of the opportunities in the States. It is the loneliness that frightens me.
M: You have always the company of your own self -- you need not feel alone. Estranged from it even in India you will feel lonely. All happiness comes from pleasing the self. Please it, after return to the States, do nothing that may be unworthy of the glorious reality within your heart and you shall be happy and remain happy. But you must seek the self and, having found it, stay with it.
Q: Will compete solitude be of any benefit?
M: It depends on your temperament. You may work with others and for others, alert and friendly, and grow more fully than in solitude, which may make you dull or leave you at the mercy of your mind's endless chatter. Do not imagine that you can change through effort. Violence, even turned against yourself, as in austerities and penance, will remain fruitless.
Q: Is there no way of making out who is realised and who is not?
M: Your only proof is in yourself. If you find that you turn to gold, it will be a sign that you have touched the philosopher's stone. Stay with the person and watch what happens to you. Don't ask others. Their man may not be your Guru. A Guru may be universal in his essence, but not in his expressions. He may appear to be angry or greedy or over-anxious about his Ashram or his family, and you may be misled by appearances, while others are not.
Q: Have I not the right to expect all-round perfection, both inner and outer?
M: Inner --- yes. But outer perfection depends on circumstances, on the state of the body, personal and social, and other innumerable factors.
Q: I was told to find a jnani so that I may learn from him the art of achieving jnana and now I am told that the entire approach is false, that I cannot make out a jnani, nor can jnana be conquered by appropriate means. It is all so confusing!
M: It is all due to your complete misunderstanding of reality. Your mind is steeped in the habits of evaluation and acquisition and will not admit that the incomparable and unobtainable are waiting timelessly within your own heart for recognition. All you have to do is to abandon all memories and expectations. Just keep yourself ready in utter nakedness and nothingness.
Q: Who is to do the abandoning?
M: God will do it. Just see the need of being abandoned. Don't resist, don't hold on to the person you take yourself to be. Because you imagine yourself to be a person you take the jnani to be a person too, only somewhat different, better informed and more powerful. You may say that he is eternally conscious and happy, but it is far from expressing the whole truth. Don't trust definitions and descriptions -- they are grossly misleading.
Q: Unless I am told what to do and how to do it, I feel lost.
M: By all means do feel lost! As long as you feel competent and confident, reality is beyond your reach. Unless you accept inner adventure as a way of life, discovery will not come to you.
Q: Discovery of what?
M: Of the centre of your being, which is free of all directions, all means and ends.
Q: Be all, know all, have all?
M: Be nothing, know nothing, have nothing. This is the only life worth living, the only happiness worth having.
Q: I may admit that the goal is beyond my comprehension. Let me know the way at least.
M: You must find your own way. Unless you find it yourself it will not be your own way and will take you nowhere. Earnestly live your truth as you have found it -- act on the little you have understood. It is earnestness that will take you through, not cleverness -- your own or another's.
Q: I am afraid of mistakes. So many things I tried -- nothing came out of them.
M: You gave too little of yourself, you were merely curious, not earnest.
Q: I don't know any better.
M: At least that much you know. Knowing them to be superficial, give no value to your experiences, forget them as soon as they are over. Live a clean, selfless life, that is all.
Q: Is morality so important?
M: Don't cheat, don't hurt -- is it not important? Above all you need inner peace -- which demands harmony between the inner and the outer. Do what you believe in and believe in what you do. All else is a waste of energy and time.
97. Mind and the World are not Separate
Questioner: I see here pictures of several saints and I am told that they are your spiritual ancestors. Who are they and how did it all begin?
Maharaj: We are called collectively the 'Nine Masters'. The legend says that our first teacher was Rishi Dattatreya, the great incarnation of the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Even the 'Nine Masters' (Navnath) are mythological.
Q: What is the peculiarity of their teaching?
M: Its simplicity, both in theory and practice.
Q: How does one become a Navnath? By initiation or by succession?
M: Neither. The "Nine Masters' tradition, Navnath Parampara, is like a river -- it flows into the ocean of reality and whoever enters it is carried along.
Q: Does it imply acceptance by a living master belonging to the same tradition?
M: Those who practise the sadhana of focussing their minds on "I am' may feel related to others who have followed the same sadhana and succeeded. They may decide to verbalise their sense of kinship by calling themselves Navnaths. It gives them the pleasure of belonging to an established tradition.
Q: Do they in any way benefit by joining?
M: The circle of satsang, the 'company of saints', expands in numbers as time passes.
Q: Do they get hold thereby of a source of power and grace from which they would have been barred otherwise?
M: Power and grace are for all and for the asking. Giving oneself a particular name does not help. Call yourself by any name -- as long as you are intensely mindful of yourself, the accumulated obstacles to self-knowledge are bound to be swept away.
Q: If I like your teaching and accept your guidance, can I call myself a Navnath?
M: Please your word-addicted mind! The name will not change you. At best it may remind you to behave. There is a succession of Gurus and their disciples, who in turn train more disciples and thus the line is maintained. But the continuity of tradition is informal and voluntary. It is like a family name, but here the family is spiritual.
Q: Do you have to realise to join the Sampradaya?
M: The Navnath Sampradaya is only a tradition, a way of teaching and practice. It does not denote a level of consciousness. If you accept a Navnath Sampradaya teacher as your Guru, you join his Sampradaya. Usually you receive a token of his grace -- a look, a touch, or a word, sometimes a vivid dream or a strong remembrance. Sometimes the only sign of grace is a significant and rapid change in character and behaviour.
Q: I know you now for some years and I meet you regularly. The thought of you is never far from my mind. Does it make me belong to your Sampradaya?
M: Your belonging is a matter of your own feeling and conviction. After all, it is all verbal and formal. In reality there is neither Guru nor disciple, neither theory nor practice, neither ignorance nor realisation. It all depends on what you take yourself to be. Know yourself correctly. There is no substitute to self-knowledge.
Q: What proof will I have that I know myself correctly?
M: You need no proofs. The experience is unique and unmistakable. It will dawn on you suddenly, when the obstacles are removed to some extent. It is like a frayed rope snapping. Yours is to work at the strands. The break is bound to happen. It can be delayed, but not prevented.
Q: I am confused by your denial of causality. Does it mean that none is responsible for the world as it is?
M: The idea of responsibility is in your mind. You think there must be something or somebody solely responsible for all that happens. There is a contradiction between a multiple universe and a single cause. Either one or the other must be false. Or both. As I see it, it is all day-dreaming. There is no reality in ideas. The fact is that without you, neither the universe nor its cause could have come into being.
Q: I cannot make out whether I am the creature or the creator of the universe.
M: 'I am' is an ever-present fact, while 'I am created' is an idea. Neither God nor the universe have come to tell you that they have created you. The mind obsessed by the idea of causality invents creation and then wonders 'who is the creator?' The mind itself is the creator. Even this is not quite true, for the created and its creator are one. The mind and the world are not separate. Do understand that what you think to be the world is your own mind.
Q: Is there a world beyond, or outside the mind?
M: All space and time are in the mind. Where will you locate a supramental world? There are many levels of the mind and each projects its own version, yet all are in the mind and created by the mind.
Q: What is your attitude to sin? How do you look at a sinner, somebody who breaks the law, inner or outer? Do you want him to change or you just pity him? Or, are you indifferent to him because of his sins?
M: I know no sin, nor sinner. Your distinction and valuation do not bind me. Everybody behaves according to his nature. It cannot be helped, nor need it be regretted.
Q: Others suffer.
M: Life lives on life. In nature the process is compulsory, in society it should be voluntary. There can be no life without sacrifice. A sinner refuses to sacrifice and invites death. This is as it is, and gives no cause for condemnation or pity.
Q: Surely you feel at least compassion when you see a man steeped in sin.
M: Yes, I feel I am that man and his sins are my sins.
Q: Right, and what next?
M: By my becoming one with him he becomes one with me. It is not a conscious process, it happens entirely by itself. None of us can help it. What needs changing shall change anyhow; enough to know oneself as one is, here and now. Intense and methodical investigation into one's mind is Yoga.
Q: What about the chains of destiny forged by sin?
M: When ignorance, the mother of sin, dissolves, destiny, the compulsion to sin again, ceases.
Q: There are retributions to make.
M: With ignorance coming to an end all comes to an end. Things are then seen as they are and they are good.
Q: If a sinner, a breaker of the law, comes before you and asks for your grace, what will be your response?
M: He will get what he asks for.
Q: In spite of being a very bad man?
M: I know no bad people, I only know myself. I see no saints nor sinners, only living beings. I do not hand out grace. There is nothing I can give, or deny, which you do not have already in equal measure. Just be aware of your riches and make full use of them. As long as you imagine that you need my grace, you will be at my door begging for it.
My begging for grace from you would make as little sense! We are not separate, the real is common.
Q: A mother comes to you with a tale of woe. Her only son has taken to drugs and sex and is going from bad to worse. She is asking for your grace. What shall be your response?
M: Probably I shall hear myself telling her that all will be well.
Q: That's all?
M: That's all. What more do you expect?
Q: But will the son of the woman change?
M: He may or he may not.
Q: The people who collect round you, and who know you for many years, maintain that when you say 'it will be all right' it invariably happens as you say.
M: You may as well say that it is the mother's heart that saved the child. For everything there are innumerable causes.
Q: I am told that the man who wants nothing for himself is all-powerful. The entire universe is at his disposal.
M: If you believe so, act on it. Abandon every personal desire and use the power thus saved for changing the world!
Q: All the Buddhas and Rishis have not succeeded in changing the world.
M: The world does not yield to changing. By its very nature it is painful and transient. See it as it is and divest yourself of all desire and fear. When the world does not hold and bind you, it becomes an abode of joy and beauty. You can be happy in the world only when you are free of it.
Q: What is right and what is wrong?
M: Generally, what causes suffering is wrong and what removes it, is right. The body and the mind are limited and therefore vulnerable; they need protection which gives rise to fear. As long as you identify yourself with them you are bound to suffer; realise your independence and remain happy. I tell you, this is the secret of happiness. To believe that you depend on things and people for happiness is due to ignorance of your true nature; to know that you need nothing to be happy, except self-knowledge, is wisdom.
Q: What comes first, being or desire?
M: With being arising in consciousness, the ideas of what you are arise in your mind as well as what you should be. This brings forth desire and action and the process of becoming begins. Becoming has, apparently, no beginning and no end, for it restarts every moment. With the cessation of imagination and desire, becoming ceases and the being this or that merges into pure being, which is not describable, only experienceable.
The world appears to you so overwhelmingly real, because you think of it all the time; cease thinking of it and it will dissolve into thin mist. You need not forget; when desire and fear end, bondage also ends. It is the emotional involvement, the pattern of likes and dislikes which we call character and temperament, that create the bondage.
Q: Without desire and fear what motive is there for action?
M: None, unless you consider love of life, of righteousness, of beauty, motive enough. Do not be afraid of freedom from desire and fear. It enables you to live a life so different from all you know, so much more intense and interesting, that, truly, by losing all you gain all.
Q: Since you count your spiritual ancestry from Rishi Dattatreya, are we right in believing that you and all your predecessors are reincarnations of the Rishi?
M: You may believe in whatever you like and if you act on your belief, you will get the fruits of it; but to me it has no importance. I am what I am and this is enough for me. I have no desire to identify myself with anybody, however illustrious. Nor do I feel the need to take myths for reality. I am only interested in ignorance and the freedom from ignorance. The proper role of a Guru is to dispel ignorance in the hearts and minds of his disciples. Once the disciple has understood, the confirming action is up to him. Nobody can act for another. And if he does not act rightly, it only means that he has not understood and that the Guru's work is not over.
Q: There must be some hopeless cases too?
M: None is hopeless. Obstacles can be overcome. What life cannot mend, death will end, but the Guru cannot fail.
Q: What gives you the assurance?
M: The Guru and man's inner reality are really one and work together towards the same goal -- the redemption and salvation of the mind They cannot fail. Out of the very boulders that obstruct them they build their bridges. Consciousness is not the whole of being -- there are other levels on which man is much more co-operative. The Guru is at home on all levels and his energy and patience are inexhaustible.
Q: You keep on telling me that I am dreaming and that it is high time I should wake up. How does it happen that the Maharaj, who has come to me in my dreams, has not succeeded in waking me up? He keeps on urging and reminding, but the dream continues.
M: It is because you have not really understood that you are dreaming. This is the essence of bondage -- the mixing of the real with unreal. In your present state only the sense 'I am' refers to reality; the 'what' and the 'how I am' are illusions imposed by destiny, or accident.
Q: When did the dream begin?
M: It appears to be beginningless, but in fact it is only now. From moment to moment you are renewing it. Once you have seen that you are dreaming, you shall wake up. But you do not see, because you want the dream to continue. A day will come when you will long for the ending of the dream, with all your heart and mind, and be willing to pay any price; the price will be dispassion and detachment, the loss of interest in the dream itself.
Q: How helpless I am. As long as the dream of existence lasts, I want it to continue. As long as I want it to continue, it will last.
M: Wanting it to continue is not inevitable. See clearly your condition, your very clarity will release you.
Q: As long as I am with you, all you say seems pretty obvious; but as soon as I am away from you I run about restless and anxious.
M: You need not keep away from me, in your mind at least. But your mind is after the world's welfare!
Q: The world is full of troubles, no wonder my mind too is full of them.
M: Was there ever a world without troubles? Your being as a person depends on violence to others. Your very body is a battlefield, full of the dead and dying. Existence implies violence.
Q: As a body -- yes. As a human being -- definitely no. For humanity non-violence is the law of life and violence of death.
M: There is little of non-violence in nature.
Q: God and nature are not human and need not be humane. I am concerned with man alone. To be human I must be compassionate absolutely.
M: Do you realise that as long as you have a self to defend, you must be violent?
Q: I do. To be truly human I must be self-less. As long as I am selfish, I am sub-human, a humanoid only.
M: So, we are all sub-human and only a few are human. Few or many, it is again 'clarity and charity' that make us human. The sub-human -- the 'humanoids' -- are dominated by tamas and rajas and the humans by sattva. Clarity and charity is sattva as it affects mind and action. But the real is beyond sattva. Since I have known you, you seem to be always after helping the world. How much did you help?
Q: Not a bit. Neither the world has changed, nor have I. But the world suffers and I suffer along with it. To struggle against suffering is a natural reaction. And what is civilization and culture, philosophy and religion, but a revolt against suffering. Evil and the ending of evil -- is it not your own main preoccupation? You may call it ignorance -- it comes to the same.
M: Well, words do not matter, nor does it matter in what shape you are just now. Names and shapes change incessantly. Know yourself to be the changeless witness of the changeful mind. That is enough.
98. Freedom from Self-identification
Maharaj: Can you sit on the floor? Do you need a pillow? Have you any questions to ask? Not that you need to ask, you can as well be quiet. To be, just be, is important. You need not ask anything, nor do anything. Such apparently lazy way of spending time is highly regarded in India. It means that for the time being you are free from the obsession with 'what next'. When you Are not in a hurry and the mind is free from anxieties, it becomes quiet and in the silence something may be heard which is ordinarily too fine and subtle for perception. The mind must be open and quiet to see. What we are trying to do here is to bring our minds into the right state for understanding what is real.
Questioner: How do we learn to cut out worries?
M: You need not worry about your worries. Just be. Do not try to be quiet; do not make 'being quiet' into a task to be performed. Don't be restless about 'being quiet', miserable about 'being happy'. Just be aware that you are and remain aware -- don't say: 'yes, I am; what next?' There is no 'next' in 'I am'. It is a timeless state.
Q: If it is a timeless state, it will assert itself anyhow.
M: You are what you are, timelessly, but of what use is it to you unless you know it and act on it? Your begging bowl may be of pure gold, but as long as you do not know it, you are a pauper. You must know your inner worth and trust it and express it in the daily sacrifice of desire and fear.
Q: If I know myself, shall I not desire and fear?
M: For some time the mental habits may linger in spite of the new vision, the habit of longing for the known past and fearing the unknown future. When you know these are of the mind only, you can go beyond them. As long as you have all sorts of ideas about yourself, you know yourself through the mist of these ideas; to know yourself as you are, give up all ideas. You cannot imagine the taste of pure water, you can only discover it by abandoning all flavourings.
As long as you are interested in your present way of living, you will not abandon it. Discovery cannot come as long as you cling to the familiar. It is only when you realise fully the immense sorrow of your life and revolt against it, that a way out can be found.
Q: I can now see that the secret of India's eternal life lies in these dimensions of existence, of which India was always the custodian.
M: It is an open secret and there were always people willing and ready to share it. Teachers -- there are many, fearless disciples -- very few.
Q: I am quite willing to learn.
M: Learning words is not enough. You may know the theory, but without the actual experience of yourself as the impersonal and unqualified centre of being, love and bliss, mere verbal knowledge is sterile.
Q: Then, what am I to do?
M: Try to be, only to be. The all-important word is 'try'. Allot enough time daily for sitting quietly and trying, just trying, to go beyond the personality, with its addictions and obsessions. Don't ask how, it cannot be explained. You just keep on trying until you succeed. If you persevere, there can be no failure. What matters supremely is sincerity, earnestness; you must really have had surfeit of being the person you are, now see the urgent need of being free of this unnecessary self-identification with a bundle of memories and habits. This steady resistance against the unnecessary is the secret of success.
After all, you are what you are every moment of your life, but you are never conscious of it, except, maybe, at the point of awakening from sleep. All you need is to be aware of being, not as a verbal statement, but as an ever-present fact. The a awareness that you are will open your eyes to what you are. It is all very simple. First of all, establish a constant contact with your self, be with yourself all the time. Into self-awareness all blessings flow. Begin as a centre of observation, deliberate cognisance, and grow into a centre of love in action. 'I am' is a tiny seed which will grow into a mighty tree -- quite naturally, without a trace of effort.
Q: I see so much evil in myself. Must I not change it?
M: Evil is the shadow of inattention. In the light of self-awareness it will wither and fall off.
All dependence on another is futile, for what others can give others will take away. Only what is your own at the start will remain your own in the end. Accept no guidance but from within, and even then sift out all memories for they will mislead you. Even if you are quite ignorant of the ways and the means, keep quiet and look within; guidance is sure to come. You are never left without knowing what your next step should be. The trouble is that you may shirk it. The Guru is there for giving you courage because of his experience and success. But only what you discover through your own awareness, your own effort, will be of permanent use to you.
Remember, nothing you perceive is your own. Nothing of value can come to you from outside; it is only your own feeling and understanding that are relevant and revealing. Words, heard or read, will only create images in your mind, but you are not a mental image. You are the power of perception and action behind and beyond the image.
Q: You seem to advise me to be self-centred to the point of egoism. Must I not yield even to my interest in other people?
M: Your interest in others is egoistic, self-concerned, self-oriented. You are not interested in others as persons, but only as far as they enrich, or ennoble your own image of yourself. And the ultimate in selfishness is to care only for the protection, preservation and multiplication of one's own body. By body I mean all that is related to your name and shape -- your family, tribe, country, race, etc. To be attached to one's name and shape is selfishness. A man who knows that he is neither body nor mind cannot be selfish, for he has nothing to be selfish for. Or, you may say, he is equally 'selfish' on behalf of everybody he meets; everybody's welfare is his own. The feeling 'I am the world, the world is myself' becomes quite natural; once it is established, there is just no way of being selfish. To be selfish means to covet, acquire, accumulate on behalf of the part against the whole.
Q: One may be rich with many possessions, by inheritance, or marriage, or just good luck.
M: If you do not hold on to, it will be taken away from you.
Q: In your present state can you love another person as a person?
M: I am the other person, the other person is myself; in name and shape we are different, but there is no separation. At the root of our being we are one.
Q: Is it not so whenever there is love between people?
M: It is, but they are not conscious of it. They feel the attraction, but do not know the reason.
Q: Why is love selective?
M: Love is not selective, desire is selective. In love there are no strangers. When the centre of selfishness is no longer, all desires for pleasure and fear of pain cease; one is no longer interested in being happy; beyond happiness there is pure intensity, inexhaustible energy, the ecstasy of giving from a perennial source.
Q: Mustn't I begin by solving for myself the problem of right and wrong?
M: What is pleasant people take it to be good and what is painful they take it to be bad.
Q: Yes, that is how it is with us, ordinary people. But how is it with you, at the level of oneness? For you what is good and what is bad?
M: What increases suffering is bad and what removes it is good.
Q: So you deny goodness to suffering itself. There are religions in which suffering is considered good and noble.
M: Karma, or destiny, is an expression of a beneficial law: the universal trend towards balance, harmony and unity. At every moment, whatever happens now, is for the best. It may appear painful and ugly, a suffering bitter and meaningless, yet considering the past and the future it is for the best, as the only way out of a disastrous situation.
Q: Does one suffer only for one's own sins?
M: One suffers along with what one thinks oneself to be. If you feel one with humanity, you suffer with humanity.
Q: And since you claim to be one with the sufferers, there is no limit in time or space to your suffering!
M: To be is to suffer. The narrower the circle of my self-identification, the more acute the suffering caused by desire and fear.
Q: Christianity accepts suffering as purifying and ennobling, while Hinduism looks at it with distaste.
M: Christianity is one way of putting words together and Hinduism is another. The real is, behind and beyond words, incommunicable, directly experienced, explosive in its effect on the mind. It is easily had when nothing else is wanted. The innards created by imagination and perpetuated by desire.
Q: Can there be no suffering that is necessary and good?
M: Accidental or incidental pain is inevitable and transitory; deliberate pain, inflicted with even the best of intentions, is meaningless and cruel.
Q: You would not punish crime?
M: Punishment is but legalised crime. In a society built on prevention, rather than retaliation, there would be very little crime. The few exceptions will be treated medically, as of unsound mind and body.
Q: You seem to have little use for religion.
M: What is religion? A cloud in the sky. I live in the sky, not in the clouds, which are so many words held together. Remove the verbiage and what remains? Truth remains. My home is in the unchangeable, which appears to be a state of constant reconciliation and integration of opposites. People come here to learn about the actual existence of such a state, the obstacles to its emergence, and, once perceived, the art of stabilising it in consciousness, so that there is no clash between understanding and living. The state itself is beyond the mind and need not be learnt. The mind can only focus the obstacles; seeing an obstacle as an obstacle is effective, because it is the mind acting on the mind. Begin from the beginning: give attention to the fact that you are. At no time can you say 'I was not' all you can say: 'I do not remember'. You know how unreliable is memory. Accept that, engrossed in petty personal affairs you have forgotten what you are; try to bring back the lost memory through the elimination of the known. You cannot be told what will happen, nor is it desirable; anticipation will create illusions. In the inner search the unexpected is inevitable; the discovery is invariably beyond all imagination. Just as an unborn child cannot know life after birth, for it has nothing in its mind with which to form a valid picture, so is the mind unable to think of the real in terms of the unreal, except by negation: "Not this, not that'. The acceptance of the unreal as real is the obstacle; to see the false as false and abandon the false brings reality into being. The states of utter clarity, immense love, utter fearlessness; these are mere words at the present, outlines without colour, hints at what can be. You are like a blind man expecting to see as a result of an operation -- provided you do not shirk the operation! The state I am in words do not matter at all. Nor is there any addiction to words. Only facts matter.
Q: There can be no religion without words.
M: Recorded religions are mere heaps of verbiage. Religions show their true face in action, in silent action. To know what man believes, watch how he acts. For most of the people service of their bodies and their minds is their religion. They may have religious ideas, but they do not act on them. They play with them, they are often very fond of them, but they will not act on them.
Q: Words are needed for communication.
M: For exchange of information -- yes. But real communication between people is not verbal. For establishing and maintaining relationship affectionate awareness expressed in direct action is required. Not what you say, but what you do is that matters. Words are made by the mind and are meaningful only on the level of the mind. The word "bread": neither can you eat nor live by it; it merely conveys an idea. It acquires meaning only with the actual eating. In the same sense am I telling you that the Normal State is not verbal. I may say it is wise love expressed in action, but these words convey little, unless you experience them in their fullness and beauty.
Words have their limited usefulness, but we put no limits to them and bring ourselves to the brink of disaster. Our noble ideas are finely balanced by ignoble actions. We talk of God, Truth and Love, but instead of direct experience we have definitions. Instead of enlarging and deepening action we chisel our definitions. And we imagine that we know what we can define!
Q: How can one convey experience except through words?
M: Experience cannot be conveyed through words. It comes with action. A man who is intense in his experience will radiate confidence and courage. Others too will act and gain experience born out of action. Verbal teaching has its use, it prepares the mind for voiding itself of its accumulations.
A level of mental maturity is reached when nothing external is of any value and the heart is ready to relinquish all. Then the real has a chance and it grasps it. Delays, if any, are caused by the mind being unwilling to see or to discard.
Q: Are we so totally alone?
M: Oh, no, we are not. Those who have, can give. And such givers are many. The world itself is a supreme gift, maintained by loving sacrifice. But the right receivers, wise and humble, are so few. 'Ask and you shall be given' is the eternal law.
So many words you have learnt, so many you have spoken. You know everything, but you do not know yourself. For the self is not known through words -- only direct insight will reveal it. Look within, search within.
Q: It is very difficult to abandon words. Our mental life is one continuous stream of words.
M: It is not a matter of easy, or difficult. You have no alternative. Either you try or you don't. It is up to you.
Q: I have tried many times and failed.
M: Try again. If you keep on trying, something may happen. But if you don't, you are stuck. You may know all the right words, quote the scriptures, be brilliant in your discussions and yet remain a bag of bones. Or you may be inconspicuous and humble, an insignificant person altogether, yet glowing with loving kindness and deep wisdom.
99. The Perceived can not be the Perceiver
Questioner: I have been moving from place to place investigating the various Yogas available for practice and I could not decide which will suit me best. I should be thankful for some competent advice. At present, as a result of all this searching, I am just tired of the idea of finding truth. It seems to me, both unnecessary and troublesome. Life is enjoyable as it is and I see no purpose in improving on it.
Maharaj: You are welcome to stay in your contentment, but can you? Youth, vigour, money -- all will pass away sooner than you expect. Sorrow, shunned so far, will pursue you. If you want to be beyond suffering, you must meet it half way and embrace it. Relinquish your habits and addictions, live a simple and sober life, don't hurt a living being; this is the foundation of Yoga. To find reality you must be real in the smallest daily action; there can be no deceit in the search for truth. You say you find your life enjoyable. Maybe it is -- at present. But who enjoys it?
Q: I confess I do not know the enjoyer nor the enjoyed. I only know the enjoyment.
M: Quite right. But enjoyment is a state of mind -- it comes and goes. Its very impermanence makes it perceivable. You cannot be conscious of what does not change. All consciousness is consciousness of change. But the very perception of change -- does it not necessitate a changeless background?
Q: Not at all. The memory of the last state -- compared to the actuality of the present state gives the experience of change.
M: Between the remembered and the actual there is a basic difference which can be observed from moment to moment. At no point of time is the actual the remembered. Between the two there is a difference in kind, not merely in intensity. The actual is unmistakably so. By no effort of will or imagination can you interchange the two. Now, what is it that gives this unique quality to the actual?
Q: The actual is real, while there is a good deal of uncertainty about the remembered.
M: Quite so, but why? A moment back the remembered was actual, in a moment the actual will be the remembered. What makes the actual unique? Obviously, it is your sense of being present. In memory and anticipation there is a clear feeling that it is a mental state under observation, while in the actual the feeling is primarily of being present and aware.
Q: Yes I can see. It is awareness that makes the difference between the actual and the remembered. One thinks of the past or the future, but one is present in the now.
M: Wherever you go, the sense of here and now you carry with you all the time. It means that you are independent of space and time, that space and time are in you, not you in them. It is your self-identification with the body, which, of course, is limited in space and time, that gives you the feeling of finiteness. In reality you are infinite and eternal.
Q: This infinite and eternal self of mine, how am I to know it?
M: The self you want to know, is it some second self? Are you made of several selves? Surely, there is only one self and you are that self. The self you are is the only self there is. Remove and abandon your wrong ideas about yourself and there it is, in all its glory. It is only your mind that prevents self-knowledge.
Q: How am I to be rid of the mind? And is life without mind at all possible on the human level?
M: There is no such thing as mind. There are ideas and some of them are wrong. Abandon the wrong ideas, for they are false and obstruct your vision of yourself.
Q: Which ideas are wrong and which are true?
M: Assertions are usually wrong and denials -- right.
Q: One cannot live by denying everything!
M: Only by denying can one live. Assertion is bondage. To question and deny is necessary. It is the essence of revolt and without revolt there can be no freedom.
There is no second, or higher self to search for. You are the highest self, only give up the false ideas you have about your self. Both faith and reason tell you that you are neither the body, nor its desires and fears, nor are you the mind with its fanciful ideas, nor the role society compels you to play, the person you are supposed to be. Give up the false and the true will come into its own.
You say you want to know your self. You are your self -- you cannot be anything but what you are. Is knowing separate from being? Whatever you can know with your mind is of the mind, not you; about yourself you can only say: 'I am, I am aware, I like It'.
Q: I find being alive a painful state.
M: You cannot be alive for you are life itself. It is the person you imagine yourself to be that suffers, not you. Dissolve it in awareness. It is merely a bundle of memories and habits. From the awareness of the unreal to the awareness of your real nature there is a chasm which you will easily cross, once you have mastered the art of pure awareness.
Q: All I know is that I do not know myself.
M: How do you know, that you do not know your self? Your direct insight tells you that yourself you know first, for nothing exists to you without your being there to experience its existence. You imagine you do not know your self, because you cannot describe your self. You can always say: 'I know that I am' and you will refuse as untrue the statement: 'I am not'. But whatever can be described cannot be your self, and what you are cannot be described. You can only know your self by being yourself without any attempt at self-definition and self-description. Once you have understood that you are nothing perceivable or conceivable, that whatever appears in the field of consciousness cannot be your self, you will apply yourself to the eradication of all self-identification, as the only way that can take you to a deeper realisation of your self. You literally progress by rejection -- a veritable rocket. To know that you are neither in the body nor in the mind, though aware of both, is already self-knowledge.
Q: If I am neither the body nor mind, how am I aware of them? How can I perceive something quite foreign to myself?
M: 'Nothing is me,' is the first step. 'Everything is me' is the next. Both hang on the idea: 'there is a world'. When this too is given up, you remain what you are -- the non-dual Self. You are it here and now, but your vision is obstructed by your false ideas about your self.
Q: Well, I admit that I am, I was, I shall be; at least from birth to death. I have no doubts of my being, here and now. But I find that it is not enough. My life lacks joy, born of harmony between the inner and the outer. If I alone am and the world is merely a protection, then why is there disharmony?
M: You create disharmony and then complain! When you desire and fear, and identify yourself with your feelings, you create sorrow and bondage. When you create, with love and wisdom, and remain unattached to your creations, the result is harmony and peace. But whatever be the condition of your mind, in what way does it reflect on you? It is only your self-identification with your mind that makes you happy or unhappy. Rebel against your slavery to your mind, see your bonds as self-created and break the chains of attachment and revulsion. Keep in mind your goal of freedom, until it dawns on you that you are already free, that freedom is not something in the distant future to be earned with painful efforts, but perennially one's own, to be used! Liberation is not an acquisition but a matter of courage, the courage to believe that you are free already and to act on it.
Q: If I do as I like, I shall have to suffer.
M: Nevertheless, you are free. The consequences of your action will depend on the society in which you live and its conventions.
Q: I may act recklessly.
M: Along with courage will emerge wisdom and compassion and skill in action. You will know what to do and whatever you do will be good for all.
Q: I find that the various aspects of myself are at war between themselves and there is no peace in me. Where are freedom and courage, wisdom and compassion? My actions merely increase the chasm in which I exist.
M: It is all so, because you take yourself to be somebody, or something. Stop, look, investigate, ask the right questions, come to the right conclusions and have the courage to act on them and see what happens. The first steps may bring the roof down on your head, but soon the commotion will clear and there will be peace and joy. You know so many things about yourself, but the knower you do not know. Find out who you are, the knower of the known. Look within diligently, remember to remember that the perceived cannot be the perceiver. Whatever you see, hear or think of, remember -- you are not what happens, you are he to whom it happens. Delve deeply into the sense 'I am' and you will surely discover that the perceiving centre is universal, as universal as the light that illumines the world. All that happens in the universe happens to you, the silent witness. On the other hand, whatever is done, is done by you, the universal and inexhaustible energy.
Q: It is, no doubt, very gratifying to hear that one is the silent witness as well as the universal energy. But how is one to cross over from a verbal statement to direct knowledge? Hearing is not knowing.
M: Before you can know anything directly, non-verbally, you must know the knower. So far, you took the mind for the knower, but it is just not so. The mind clogs you up with images and ideas, which leave scars in memory. You take remembering to be knowledge. True knowledge is ever fresh, new, unexpected. It wells up from within. When you know what you are, you also are what you know. Between knowing and being there is no gap.
Q: I can only investigate the mind with the mind.
M: By all means use your mind to know your mind. It is perfectly legitimate and also the best preparation for going beyond the mind. Being, knowing and enjoying is your own. First realise your own being. This is easy because the sense 'I am' is always with you. Then meet yourself as the knower, apart from the known. Once you know yourself as pure being, the ecstasy of freedom is your own.
Q: Which Yoga is this?
M: Why worry? What makes you come here is your being displeased with your life as you know it, the life of your body and mind. You may try to improve them, through controlling and bending them to an ideal, or you may cut the knot of self-identification altogether and look at your body and mind as something that happens without committing you in any way.
Q: Shall I call the way of control and discipline raja yoga and the way of detachment -- jnana yoga? And the worship of an ideal -- bhakti yoga?
M: If it pleases you. Words indicate, but do not explain. What I teach is the ancient and simple way of liberation through understanding. Understand your own mind and its hold on you will snap. The mind misunderstands, misunderstanding is its very nature. Right understanding is the only remedy, whatever name you give it. It is the earliest and also the latest, for it deals with the mind as it is.
Nothing you do will change you, for you need no change. You may change your mind or your body, but it is always something external to you that has changed, not yourself. Why bother at all to change? realise once for all that neither your body nor your mind, nor even your consciousness is yourself and stand alone in your true nature beyond consciousness and unconsciousness. No effort can take you there, only the clarity of understanding. Trace your misunderstandings and abandon them, that is all. There is nothing to seek and find, for there is nothing lost. Relax and watch the 'I am'. Reality is just behind it. Keep quiet, keep silent; it will emerge, or, rather, it will take you in.
Q: Must I not get rid of my body and mind first?
M: You cannot, for the very idea binds you to them. Just understand and disregard.
Q: I am unable to disregard, for I am not integrated.
M: Imagine you are completely integrated, your thought and action fully co-ordinated. How will it help you? It will not free you from mistaking yourself to be the body or the mind. See them correctly as 'not you', that is all.
Q: You want me to remember to forget!
M: Yes, it looks so. Yet, it is not hopeless. You can do it. Just set about it in earnest. Your blind groping is full of promise. Your very searching is the finding. You cannot fail.
Q: Because we are disintegrated, we suffer.
M: We shall suffer as long as our thoughts and actions are prompted by desires and fears. See their futility and the danger and chaos they create will subside. Don't try to reform yourself, just see the futility of all change. The changeful keeps on changing while the changeless is waiting. Do not expect the changeful, to take you to the changeless -- it can never happen. Only when the very idea of changing is seen as false and abandoned, the changeless can come into its own.
Q: Everywhere I go, l am told that I must change profoundly before I can see the real. This process of deliberate, self-imposed change is called Yoga.
M: All change affects the mind only. To be what you are, you must go beyond the mind, into your own being. It is immaterial what is the mind that you leave behind, provided you leave it behind for good. This again is not possible without self-realisation.
Q: What comes first -- the abandoning of the mind or self-realisation?
M:. Self-realisation definitely comes first. The mind cannot go beyond itself by itself. It must explode.
Q: No exploration before explosion?
M: The explosive power comes from the real. But you are well advised to have your mind ready for it. Fear can always delay it, until another opportunity arises.
Q: I thought there is always a chance.
M: In theory -- yes. In practice a situation must arise, when all the factors necessary for self-realisation are present. This need not I discourage you. Your dwelling on the fact of 'I am' will soon create another chance. For, attitude attracts opportunity. All you know is second-hand. Only "I am' is first-hand and needs no proofs. Stay with it.
100. Understanding leads to Freedom
Questioner: In many countries of the world investigating officers follow certain practices aimed at extracting confessions from their victim and also changing his personality, if needed. By a judicious choice of physical and moral deprivations and by persuasions the old personality is broken down and a new personality established in its place. The man under investigation hears so many times repeated that he is an enemy of the State and a traitor to his country, that a day comes when something breaks down in him and he begins to feel with full conviction that he is a traitor, a rebel, altogether despicable and deserving the direst punishment. This process is known as brain-washing.
It struck me that the religious and Yogic practices are very similar to 'brain-washing'. The same physical and mental deprivation, solitary confinement, a powerful sense of sin, despair and a desire to escape through expiation and conversion, adoption of a new image of oneself and impersonating that image. The same repetition of set formulas: 'God is good; the Guru (party) knows; faith will save me.' In the so-called Yogic or religious practices the same mechanism operates. The mind is made to concentrate on some particular idea to the exclusion of all other ideas and concentration is powerfully reinforced by rigid discipline and painful austerities. A high price in life and happiness is paid and what one gets in return appears therefore, to be of great importance. This prearranged conversion, obvious or hidden, religious or political, ethical or social, may look genuine and lasting, yet there is a feeling of artificiality about it.
Maharaj: You are quite right. By undergoing so many hardships the mind gets dislocated and immobilised. Its condition becomes precarious; whatever it undertakes, ends in a deeper bondage.
Q: Then why are sadhanas prescribed?
M: Unless you make tremendous efforts, you will not be convinced that effort will take you nowhere. The self is so self confident, that unless it is totally discouraged, it will not give up. Mere verbal conviction is not enough. Hard facts alone can show the absolute nothingness of the self-image.
Q: The brain-washer drives me mad, and the Guru drives me sane. The driving is similar. Yet the motive and the purpose are totally different. The similarities are, perhaps merely verbal.
M: Inviting, or compelling to suffer contains in it violence and the fruit of violence cannot be sweet.
There are certain life situations, inevitably painful, and you have to take them in your stride. There are also certain situations which you have created, either deliberately or by neglect. And from these you have to learn a lesson so that they are not repeated again.
Q: It seems that we must suffer, so that we learn to overcome pain.
M: Pain has to be endured. There is no such thing as overcoming the pain and no training is needed. Training for the future, developing attitudes is a sign of fear.
Q: Once I know how to face pain, I am free of it, not afraid of it, and therefore happy. This is what happens to a prisoner. He accepts his punishment as just and proper and is at peace with the prison authorities and the State. All religions do nothing else but preach acceptance and surrender. We are being encouraged to plead guilty, to feel responsible for all the evils in the world and point at ourselves as their only cause. My problem is: I cannot see much difference between brain-washing and sadhana, except that in the case of sadhana one is not physically constrained. The element of compulsive suggestion is present in both.
M: As you have said, the similarities are superficial. You need not harp on them.
Q: Sir, the similarities are not superficial. Man is a complex being and can be at the same time the accuser and the accused, the judge, the warden and the executioner. There is not much that is voluntary in a 'voluntary' sadhana. One is moved by forces beyond one's ken and control. I can change my mental metabolism as little as the physical, except by painful and protracted efforts -- which is Yoga. All I am asking is: does Maharaj agree with me that Yoga implies violence?
M: I agree that Yoga, as presented by you, means violence and I never advocate any form of violence. My path is totally non-violent. I mean exactly what I say: non-violent. Find out for yourself what it is. I merely say: it is non-violent.
Q: I am not misusing words. When a Guru asks me to meditate sixteen hours a day for the rest of my life, I cannot do it without extreme violence to myself. Is such a Guru right or wrong?
M: None compels you to meditate sixteen hours a day, unless you feel like doing so. It is only a way of telling you: 'remain with yourself, don't get lost among others'. The teacher will wait, but the mind is impatient.
It is not the teacher, it is the mind that is violent and also afraid of its own violence. What is of the mind is relative, it is a mistake to make it into an absolute.
Q: If I remain passive, nothing will change. If I am active, I must be violent. What is it I can do which is neither sterile nor violent?
M: Of course, there is a way which is neither violent nor sterile and yet supremely effective. Just look at yourself as you are, see yourself as you are, accept yourself as you are and go ever deeper into what you are. Violence and non-violence describe your attitude to others; the self in relation to itself is neither violent nor non-violent, it is either aware or unaware of itself. If it knows itself, all it does will be right; if it does not, all it does will be wrong.
Q: What do you mean by saying: I know myself as I am?
M: Before the mind -- I am. 'I am' is not a thought in the mind; the mind happens to me, I do not happen to the mind. And since time and space are in the mind, I am beyond time and space, eternal and omnipresent.
Q: Are you serious? Do you really mean that you exist everywhere and at all times?
M: Yes, I do. To me it is as obvious, as the freedom of movement is to you. Imagine a tree asking a monkey: 'Do you seriously mean that you can move from place to place?' And the monkey saying: 'Yes. I do.'
Q: Are you also free from causality? Can you produce miracles?
M: The world itself is a miracle. I am beyond miracles -- I am absolutely normal. With me everything happens as it must. I do not interfere with creation. Of what use are small miracles to me when the greatest of miracles is happening all the time? Whatever you see it is always your own being that you see. Go ever deeper into yourself, seek within, there is neither violence nor non-violence in self-discovery. The destruction of the false is not violence.
Q: When I practice self-enquiry, or go within with the idea that it will profit me in some way or other, I am still escaping from what I am.
M: Quite right. True enquiry is always into something, not out of something. When I enquire how to get, or avoid something, I am not really inquiring. To know anything I must accept it -- totally.
Q: Yes, to know God I must accept God -- how frightening!
M: Before you can accept God, you must accept yourself, which is even more frightening. The first steps in self acceptance are not at all pleasant, for what one sees is not a happy sight. One needs all the courage to go further. What helps is silence. Look at yourself in total silence, do not describe yourself. Look at the being you believe you are and remember -- you are not what you see. 'This I am not -- what am l?' is the movement of self-enquiry. There are no other means to liberation, all means delay. Resolutely reject what you are not, till the real Self emerges in its glorious nothingness, its 'not-a-thingness.'
Q: The world is passing through rapid and critical changes. We can see them with great clarity in the United States, though they happen in other countries. There is an increase in crime on one hand and more genuine holiness on the other. Communities are being formed and some of them are on a very high level of integrity and austerity. It looks as if evil is destroying itself by its own successes, like a fire which consumes its fuel, while the good, like life, perpetuates itself.
M: As long as you divide events into good and evil, you may be right. In fact, good becomes evil and evil becomes good by their own fulfilment.
Q: What about love?
M: When it turns to lust, it becomes destructive.
Q: What is lust?
M: Remembering -- imagining -- anticipating. It is sensory and verbal. A form of addiction.
Q: Is brahmacharya, continence, imperative in Yoga?
M: A life of constraint and suppression is not Yoga. Mind must be free of desires and relaxed. It comes with understanding, not with determination, which is but another form of memory. An understanding mind is free of desires and fears.
Q: How can I make myself understand?
M: By meditating which means giving attention. Become fully aware of your problem, look at it from all sides, watch how it affects your life. Then leave it alone. You can't do more than that.
Q: Will it set me free?
M: You are free from what you have understood. The outer expressions of freedom may take time to appear, but they are already there. Do not expect perfection. There is no perfection in manifestation. Details must clash. No problem is solved completely, but you can withdraw from it to a level on which it does not operate.
101. Jnani does not Grasp, nor Hold
Questioner: How does the jnani proceed when he needs something to be done? Does he make plans, decide about details and execute them?
Maharaj: Jnani understands a situation fully and knows at once what needs be done. That is all. The rest happens by itself, and to a large extent unconsciously. The jnani"s identity with all that is, is so complete, that as he responds to the universe, so does the universe respond to him. He is supremely confident that once a situation has been cognised, events will move in adequate response. The ordinary man is personally concerned, he counts his risks and chances, while the jnani remains aloof, sure that all will happen as it must; and it does not matter much what happens, for ultimately the return to balance and harmony is inevitable. The heart of things is at peace.
Q: I have understood that personality is an illusion, and alert detachment, without loss of identity, is our point of contact with the reality. Will you, please, tell me -- at this moment are you a person or a self-aware identity?
M: I am both. But the real self cannot be described except in terms supplied by the person, in terms of what I am not. All you can tell about the person is not the self, and you can tell nothing about the self, which would not refer to the person; as it is, as it could be, as it should be. All attributes are personal. The real is beyond all attributes.
Q: Are you sometimes the self and sometimes the person?
M: How can I be? The person is what I appear to be to other persons. To myself I am the infinite expanse of consciousness in which innumerable persons emerge and disappear in endless succession.
Q: How is it that the person, which to you is quite illusory, appears real to us?
M: You, the self, being the root of all being, consciousness and joy, impart your reality to whatever you perceive. This imparting of reality takes place invariably in the now, at no other time, because past and future are only in the mind. "Being' applies to the now only.
Q: Is not eternity endless too?
M: Time is endless, though limited, eternity is In the split moment of the now. We miss it because the mind is ever shuttling between the past and the future. It will not stop to focus the now. It can be done with comparative ease, if interest is aroused.
Q: What arouses interest?
M: Earnestness, the sign of maturity.
Q: And how does maturity come about?
M: By keeping your mind clear and clean, by living your life in full awareness of every moment as it happens, by examining and dissolving one's desires and fears as soon as they arise.
Q: Is such concentration at all possible?
M: Try. One step at a time is easy. Energy flows from earnestness.
Q: I find I am not earnest enough.
M: Self-betrayal is a grievous matter. It rots the mind like cancer. The remedy lies in clarity and integrity of thinking. Try to understand that you live in a world of illusions, examine them and uncover their roots. The very attempt to do so will make you earnest, for there is bliss in right endeavour.
Q: Where will it lead me?
M: Where can it lead you if not to its own perfection? Once you are well-established in the now, you have nowhere else to go what you are timelessly, you express eternally.
Q: Are you one or many?
M: I am one, but appear as many.
Q: Why does one appear at all?
M: It is good to be, and to be conscious.
Q: Life is sad.
M: Ignorance causes sorrow. Happiness follows understanding.
Q: Why should ignorance be painful?
M: It is at the root of all desire and fear, which are painful states and the source of endless errors.
Q: I have seen people supposed to have realised, laughing and crying. Does it not show that they are not free of desire and fear?
M: They may laugh and cry according to circumstances, but inwardly they are cool and clear, watching detachedly their own spontaneous reactions. Appearances are misleading and more so in the case of a jnani.
Q: I do not understand you.
M: The mind cannot understand, for the mind is trained for grasping and holding while the jnani is not-grasping and not holding.
Q: What am I holding on to, which you do not?
M: You are a creature of memories; at least you imagine yourself to be so. I am entirely unimagined. I am what I am, not identifiable with any physical or mental state.
Q: An accident would destroy your equanimity.
M: The strange fact is that it does not. To my own surprise, I remain as I am -- pure awareness, alert to all that happens.
Q: Even at the Moment of death?
M: What is it to me that the body dies?
Q: Don't you need it to contact the world?
M: I do not need the world. Nor am I in one. The world you think of is in your own mind. I can see it through your eyes and mind, but I am fully aware that it is a projection of memories; it is touched by the real only at the point of awareness, which can be only now.
Q: The only difference between us seems to be that while I keep on saying that I do not know my real self, you maintain that you know it well; is there any other difference between us?
M: There is no difference between us; nor can I say that I know myself, I know that I am not describable nor definable. There is a vastness beyond the farthest reaches of the mind. That vastness is my home; that vastness is myself. And that vastness is also love.
Q: You see love everywhere, while I see hatred and suffering. The history of humanity is the history of murder, individual and collective. No other living being so delights in killing.
M: If you go into the motives, you will find love, love of oneself and of one's own. People fight for what they imagine they love.
Q: Surely their love must be real enough when they are ready to die for it.
M: Love is boundless. What is limited to a few cannot be called love.
Q: Do you know such unlimited love?
M: Yes, l do.
Q: How does it feel?
M: All is loved and lovable. Nothing is excluded.
Q: Not even the ugly and the criminal?
M: All is within my consciousness; all is my own. It is madness to split oneself through likes and dislikes. I am beyond both. I am not alienated.
Q: To be free from like and dislike is a state of indifference.
M: It may look and feel so in the beginning. Persevere in such indifference and it will blossom into an all-pervading and all-embracing love.
Q: One has such moments when the mind becomes a flower and a flame, but they do not last and the life reverts to its daily greyness.
M: Discontinuity is the law, when you deal with the concrete: The continuous cannot be experienced, for it has no borders. Consciousness implies alterations, change followings change, when one thing or state comes to an end and another begins; that which has no borderline cannot be experienced in the common meaning of the word. One can only be it, without knowing, but one can know what it is not. It is definitely not the entire content of consciousness which is always on the move.
Q: If the immovable cannot be known, what is the meaning and purpose of its realisation?
M: To realise the immovable means to become immovable. And the purpose is the good of all that lives.
Q: Life is movement. Immobility is death. Of what use is death to life?
M: I am talking of immovability, not of immobility. You become immovable in reticence. You become a power which gets all things right. It may or may not imply intense outward activity, but the mind remains deep and quiet.
Q: As I watch my mind I find it changing all the time, mood succeeding mood in infinite variety, while you seem to be perpetually in the same mood of cheerful benevolence.
M: Moods are in the mind and do not matter. Go within, go beyond. Cease being fascinated by the content of your consciousness. When you reach the deep layers of your true being, you will find that the mind's surface-play affects you very little.
Q: There will be play all the same?
M: A quiet mind is not a dead mind.
Q: Consciousness is always in movement -- it is an observable fact. Immovable consciousness is a contradiction. When you talk of a quiet mind, what is it? Is not mind the same as consciousness?
M: We must remember that words are used in many ways, according to the context. The fact is that there is little difference between the conscious and the unconscious --- they are essentially the same. The waking state differs from deep sleep in the presence of the witness. A ray of awareness illumines a part of our mind and that part becomes our dream or waking consciousness, while awareness appears as the witness. The witness usually knows only consciousness. Sadhana consists in the witness turning back first on his conscious, then upon himself in his own awareness. Self-awareness is Yoga.
Q: If awareness is all-pervading, then a blind man, once realised, can see?
M: You are mixing sensation with awareness. The jnani knows himself as he is. He is also aware of his body being crippled and his mind being deprived of a range of sensory perceptions. But he is not affected by the availability of eyesight, nor by its absence.
Q: My question is more specific; when a blind man becomes a jnani will his eyesight be restored to him or not?
M: Unless his eyes and brain undergo a renovation, how can he see?
Q: But will they undergo a renovation?
M: They may or may not. It all depends on destiny and grace. But a jnani commands a mode of spontaneous, non-sensory perception, which makes him know things directly, without the intermediary of the senses. He is beyond the perceptual and the conceptual, beyond the categories of time and space, name and shape. He is neither the perceived nor the perceiver, but the simple and the universal factor that makes perceiving possible. Reality is within consciousness, but it is not consciousness nor any of its contents.
Q: What is false, the world, or my knowledge of it?
M: Is there a world outside your knowledge? Can you go beyond what you know? You may postulate a world beyond the
mind, but it will remain a concept, unproved and unprovable. Your experience is your proof, and it is valid for you only. Who else can have your experience, when the other person is only as real as he appears in your experience?
Q: Am I so hopelessly lonely?
M: You are. as a person. In your real being vow are the whole.
Q: Are you a part of the world which I have in consciousness, or are you independent?
M: What you see is yours and what I see is mine. The two have little in common.
Q: There must be some common factor which unites us.
M: To find the common factor you must abandon all distinctions. Only the universal is in common.
Q: What strikes me as exceedingly strange is that while you say that I am merely a product of my memories and woefully limited, I create a vast and rich world in which. everything is contained, including you and your teaching. How this vastness is created and contained in my smallness is what I find hard to understand. May be you are giving me the whole truth, but I am grasping only a small part of it.
M: Yet, it is a fact -- the small projects the whole, but it cannot contain the whole. However great and complete is your world it is self-contradictory and transitory and altogether illusory.
Q: It may be illusory yet it is marvellous. When I look and listen, touch, smell and taste, think and feel, remember and imagine, I cannot but be astonished at my miraculous creativity. I look through a microscope or telescope and see wonders, I follow the track of an atom and hear the whisper of the stars. If I am the sole creator of all this, then I am God indeed! But if I am God, why do I appear so small and helpless to myself?
M: You are God, but you do not know it.
Q: If I am God, then the world I create must be true.
M: It is true in essence, but not in appearance. Be free of desires and fears and at once your vision will clear and you shall see all things as they are. Or, you may say that the satoguna creates the world, the tamoguna obscures it and the rajoguna distorts.
Q: This does not tell me much, because if I ask what are the gunas, the answer will be: what creates -- what obscures -- what distorts. The fact remains -- something unbelievable happened to me, and I do not understand what has happened, how and why.
M: Well, wonder is the dawn of wisdom. To be steadily and consistently wondering is sadhana.
Q: I am in a world which I do not understand and therefore, I am afraid of it. This is everybody's experience.
M: You have separated yourself from the world, therefore it pains and frightens you. Discover your mistake and be free of fear.
Q: You are asking me to give up the world, while I want to be happy in the world.
M: If you ask for the impossible, who can help you? The limited is bound to be painful and pleasant in turns. If you seek real happiness, unassailable and unchangeable, you must leave the world with its pains and pleasures behind you.
Q: How is it done?
M: Mere physical renunciation is only a token of earnestness, but earnestness alone does not liberate. There must be understanding which comes with alert perceptivity, eager enquiry and deep investigation. You must work relentlessly for your salvation from sin and sorrow.
Q: What is sin?
M: All that binds you.
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