I Am That
69. Transiency is Proof of Unreality
Questioner: My friend is a German and I was born in England from French parents. I am in India since over a year wandering from Ashram to Ashram.
Maharaj: Any spiritual practices (sadhanas)?
Q: Studies and meditation.
M: What did you meditate on?
Q: On what I read.
Q: What are you doing, sir?
Q: And what else?
Q: What are you talking about?
M: Do you want a lecture? Better ask something that really touches you, so that you feel strongly about it. Unless you are emotionally involved, you may argue with me, but there will be no real understanding between us. If you say: 'nothing worries me, I have no problems', it is all right with me, we can keep quiet. But if something really touches you, then there is purpose in talking. Shall I ask you? What is the purpose of your moving from place to place?
Q: To meet people, to try to understand them.
M: What people are you trying to understand? What exactly are you after?
M: If you want integration, you must know whom you want to integrate.
Q: By meeting people and watching them, one comes to know oneself also. It goes together.
M: It does not necessarily go together.
Q: One improves the other.
M: It does not work that way. The mirror reflects the image, but the image does not improve the mirror. You are neither the mirror nor the image in the mirror. Having perfected the mirror so that it reflects correctly, truly, you can turn the mirror round and see in it a true reflection of yourself -- true as far as the mirror can reflect. But the reflection is not yourself -- you are the seer of the reflection. Do understand it clearly -- whatever you may perceive you are not what you perceive.
Q: I am the mirror and the world is the image?
M: You can see both the image and the mirror. You are neither. Who are you? Don't go by formulas. The answer is not in words. The nearest you can say in words is: I am what makes perception possible, the life beyond the experiencer and his experience. Now, Can you separate yourself both from the mirror and the image in the mirror and stand completely alone, all by yourself?
Q: No, I cannot.
M: How do you know that you cannot? There are so many things you are doing without knowing how to do it. You digest, you circulate your blood and lymph, you move your muscles -- all without knowing how. In the same way, you perceive, you feel, you think without knowing the why and how of it. Similarly you are yourself without knowing it. There is nothing wrong with you as the Self. It is what it is to perfection. It is the mirror that is not clear and true and, therefore, gives you false images. You need not correct yourself -- only set right your idea of yourself. Learn to separate yourself from the image and the mirror, keep on remembering: I am neither the mind nor its ideas: do it patiently and with convictions and you will surely come to the direct vision of yourself as the source of being -- knowing -- loving, eternal, all-embracing all-pervading. You are the infinite focussed in a body. Now you see the body only. Try earnestly and you will come to see the infinite only.
Q: The experience of reality, when it Comes, does it last?
M: All experience is necessarily transient. But the ground of all experience is immovable. Nothing that may be called an event will last. But some events purify the mind and some stain it. Moments of deep insight and all-embracing love purify the mind, while desires and fears, envies and anger, blind beliefs and intellectual arrogance pollute and dull the psyche.
Q: Is self-realisation so important?
M: Without it you will be consumed by desires and fears, repeating themselves meaninglessly in endless suffering. Most of the people do not know that there can be an end to pain. But once they have heard the good news, obviously going beyond all strife and struggle is the most urgent task that can be. You know that you can be free and now it is up to you. Either you remain forever hungry and thirsty, longing, searching, grabbing, holding, ever losing and sorrowing, or go out whole-heartedly in search of the state of timeless perfection to which nothing can be added, from which nothing -- taken away. In it all desires and fears are absent, not because they were given up, but because they have lost their meaning.
Q: So far I have been following you. Now, what am I expected to do?
M: There is nothing to do. Just be. Do nothing. Be. No climbing mountains and sitting in caves. I do not even say: 'be yourself', since you do not know yourself. Just be. Having seen that you are neither the 'outer' world of perceivables, nor the 'inner' world of thinkables, that you are neither body nor mind -- just be.
Q: Surely, there are degrees of realisation.
M: There are no steps to self-realisation. There is nothing gradual about it. It happens suddenly and is irreversible. You rotate into a new dimension, seen from which the previous ones are mere abstractions. Just like on sunrise you see things as they are, so on self-realisation you see everything as it is. The world of illusions is left behind.
Q: In the state of realisation do things change? They become colourful and full of meaning?
M: The experience is quite right, but it is not the experience of reality (sadanubhav), but of harmony (satvanubhav) of the universe.
Q: Nevertheless, there is progress.
M: There can be progress only in the preparation (sadhana). realisation is sudden. The fruit ripens slowly, but falls suddenly and without return.
Q: I am physically and mentally at peace. What more do I need?
M: Yours may not be the ultimate state. You will recognise that you have returned to your natural state by a complete absence of all desire and fear. After all, at the root of all desire and fear is the feeling of not being what you are. Just as a dislocated joint pains only as long as it is out of shape, and is forgotten as soon as it is set right, so is all self-concern a symptom of mental distortion which disappears as soon as one is in the normal state.
Q: Yes, but what is the sadhana for achieving the natural state?
M: Hold on to the sense 'I am' to the exclusion of everything else. When thus the mind becomes completely silent, it shines with a new light and vibrates with new knowledge. It all comes spontaneously, you need only hold on to the 'I am'. Just like emerging from sleep or a state of rapture you feel rested and yet you cannot explain why and how you come to feel so well, in the same way on realisation you feel complete, fulfilled, free from the pleasure-pain complex, and yet not always able to explain what happened, why and how. You can put it only in negative terms: 'Nothing is wrong with me any longer.' It is only by comparison with the past that you know that you are out of it. Otherwise -- you are just yourself. Don't try to convey it to others. If you can, it is not the real thing. Be silent and watch it expressing itself in action.
Q: If you could tell me what I shall become, it may help me to watch over my development.
M: How can anybody tell you what you shall become when there is no becoming? You merely discover what you are. All moulding oneself to a pattern is a grievous waste of time. Think neither of the past nor of the future, just be.
Q: How can I just be? Changes are inevitable.
M: Changes are inevitable in the changeful, but you are not subject to them. You are the changeless background, against which changes are perceived.
Q: Everything changes, the background also changes. There is no need of a changeless background to notice changes. The self is momentary -- it is merely the point where the past meets the future.
M: Of course the self based on memory is momentary. But such self demands unbroken continuity behind it. You know from experience that there are gaps when yourself is forgotten. What brings it back to life? What wakes you up in the morning? There must be some constant factor bridging the gaps in consciousness. If you watch carefully you will find that even your daily consciousness is in flashes, with gaps intervening all the time. What is in the gaps? What can there be but your real being, that is timeless; mind and mindlessness are one to it.
Q: Is there any particular place you would advise me to go to for spiritual attainment?
M: The only proper place is within. The outer world neither can help nor hinder. No system, no pattern of action will take you to your goal. Give up all working for a future, concentrate totally on the now, be concerned only with your response to every movement of life as it happens.
Q: What is the cause of the urge to roam about?
M: There is no cause. You merely dream that you roam about. In a few years your stay in India will appear as a dream to you. You will dream some other dream at that time. Do realise that it is not you who moves from dream to dream, but the dreams flow before you and you are the immutable witness. No happening affects your real being -- this is the absolute truth.
Q: Cannot I move about physically and keep steady inwardly?
M: You can, but what purpose does it serve? If you are earnest, you will find that in the end you will get fed up with roaming and regret the waste of energy and time. To find yourself you need not take a single step.
Q: Is there any difference between the experience of the Self (atman) and of the Absolute (brahman)?
M: There can be no experience of the Absolute as it is beyond all experience. On the other hand, the self is the experiencing factor in every experience and thus, in a way, validates the multiplicity of experiences. The world may be full of things of great value, but if there is nobody to buy them, they have no price. The Absolute contains everything experienceable, but without the experience they are as nothing. That which makes the experience possible is the Absolute. That which makes it actual is the Self.
Q: Don't we reach the Absolute through a gradation of experiences? Beginning with the grossest, we end with the most sublime.
M: There can be no experience without desire for it. There can be gradation between desires, but between the most sublime desire and the freedom from all desire there is an abyss which must be crossed. The unreal may look real, but it is transient. The real is not afraid of time.
Q: Is not the unreal the expression of the real?
M: How can it be? It is like saying that truth expresses itself in dreams. To the real the unreal is not. It appears to be real only because you believe in it. Doubt it, and it ceases. When you are in love with somebody, you give it reality -- you imagine your love to be all-powerful and everlasting. When it comes to an end, you say: 'I thought it was real, but it wasn't'. Transiency is the best proof of unreality. What is limited in time and space, applicable to one person only, is not real. The real is for all and forever. Above everything else you cherish yourself. You would accept nothing in exchange for your existence. The desire to be is the strongest of all desires and will go only on the realisation of your true nature.
Q: Even in the unreal there is a touch of reality.
M: Yes, the reality you impart to it by taking it to be real. Having convinced yourself, you are bound by your conviction. When the sun shines, colours appear. When it sets, they disappear. Where are the colours without the light?
Q: This is thinking in terms of duality.
M: All thinking is in duality. In identity no thought survives.
70. God is the End of All Desire and Knowledge
Maharaj: Where are you coming from? What have you come for?
Questioner: I come from America and my friend is from the Republic of Ireland. I came about six months ago and I was travelling from Ashram to Ashram. My friend came on his own.
M: What have you seen?
Q: I have been at Sri Ramanashram and also I have visited Rishikesh. Can I ask you what is your opinion of Sri Ramana Maharshi?
M: We are both in the same ancient state. But what do you know of Maharshi? You take yourself to be a name and a body, so all you perceive are names and bodies.
Q: Were you to meet the Maharshi, what would happen?
M: Probably we would feel quite happy. We may even exchange a few words.
Q: But would he recognise you as a liberated man?
M: Of course. As a man recognises a man, so a jnani recognises a jnani. You cannot appreciate what you have not experienced. You are what you think yourself to be, but you cannot think yourself to be what you have not experienced.
Q: To become an engineer I must learn engineering. To become God, what must I learn?
M: You must unlearn everything. God is the end of all desire and knowledge.
Q: You mean to say that I become God merely by giving up the desire to become God?
M: All desires must be given up, because by desiring you take the shape of your desires. When no desires remain, you revert to your natural state.
Q: How do I come to know that I have achieved perfection?
M: You cannot know perfection, you can know only imperfection. For knowledge to be, there must be separation and disharmony. You can know what you are not, but you cannot know your real being. You can be only what you are. The entire approach is through understanding, which is in the seeing of the false as false. But to understand, you must observe from outside.
Q: The Vedantic concept of Maya, illusion, applies to the manifested. Therefore our knowledge of the manifested is unreliable. But we should be able to trust our knowledge of the unmanifested.
M: There can be no knowledge of the unmanifested. The potential is unknowable. Only the actual can be known.
Q: Why should the knower remain unknown?
M: The knower knows the known. Do you know the knower? Who is the knower of the knower? You want to know the unmanifested. Can you say you know the manifested?
Q: I know things and ideas and their relations. It is the sum total of all my experiences.
Q: Well, all actual experiences. I admit I cannot know what did not happen.
M: If the manifested is the sum total of all actual experiences, including their experiencers, how much of the total do you know? A very small part indeed. And what is the little you know?
Q: Some sensory experiences as related to myself.
M: Not even that. You only know that you react. Who reacts and to what, you do not know. You know on contact that you exist -- 'I am'. The 'I am this', 'I am that' are imaginary.
Q: I know the manifested because I participate in it. I admit, my part in it is very small, yet it is as real as the totality of it. And what is more important, I give it meaning. Without me the world is dark and silent.
M: A firefly illumining the world! You don't give meaning to the world, you find it. Dive deep into yourself and find the source from where all meaning flows. Surely it is not the superficial mind that can give meaning.
Q: What makes me limited and superficial?
M: The total is open and available, but you will not take it. You are attached to the little person you think yourself to be. Your desires are narrow, your ambitions -- petty. After all, without a centre of perception where would be the manifested? Unperceived, the manifested is as good as the unmanifested. And you are the perceiving point, the non-dimensional source of all dimensions. Know yourself as the total.
Q: How can a point contain a universe?
M: There is enough space in a point for infinity of universes. There is no lack of capacity. Self- limitation is the only problem. But you cannot run away from yourself. However far you go, you come back to yourself and to the need of understanding this point, which is as nothing and yet the source of everything.
Q: I came to India in search of a Yoga teacher. I am still in search.
M: What kind of Yoga do you want to practice, the Yoga of getting, or the Yoga of giving up?
Q: Don't they come to the same in the end?
M: How can they? One enslaves, the other liberates. The motive matters supremely. Freedom comes through renunciation. All possession is bondage.
Q: What I have the strength and the courage to hold on to, why should I give up? And if I have not the strength, how can I give up? I do not understand this need of giving up. When I want something, why should I not pursue it? Renunciation is for the weak.
M: If you do not have the wisdom and the strength to give up, just look at your possessions. Your mere looking will burn them up. If you can stand outside your mind, you will soon find that total renunciation of possessions and desires is the most obviously reasonable thing to do. You create the world and then worry about it. Becoming selfish makes you weak. If you think you have the strength and courage to desire, it is because you are young and inexperienced. Invariably the object of desire destroys the means of acquiring it and then itself withers away. It is all for the best, because it teaches you to shun desire like poison.
Q: How am I to practice desirelessness?
M: No need of practice. No need of any acts of renunciation. Just turn your mind away, that is all. Desire is merely the fixation of the mind on an idea. Get it out of its groove by denying it attention.
Q: That is all?
M: Yes, that is all. Whatever may be the desire or fear, don't dwell upon it. Try and see for yourself. Here and there you may forget; it does not matter. Go back to your attempts till the brushing away of every desire and fear, of every reaction becomes automatic.
Q: How can one live without emotions?
M: You can have all the emotions you want, but beware of reactions, of induced emotions. Be entirely self-determined and ruled from within, not from without. Merely giving up a thing to secure a better one is not true relinquishment. Give it up because you see its valuelessness. As you keep on giving up, you will find that you grow spontaneously in intelligence and power and inexhaustible love and joy.
Q: Why so much insistence on relinquishing all desires and fears? Are they not natural?
M: They are not. They are entirely mind-made. You have to give up everything to know that you need nothing, not even your body. Your needs are unreal and your efforts are meaningless. You imagine that your possessions protect you. In reality they make you vulnerable. Realise yourself as away from all that can be pointed at as 'this' or 'that'. You are unreachable by any sensory experience or verbal construction. Turn away from them. Refuse to impersonate.
Q: After I have heard you, what am I to do?
M: Only hearing will not help you much. You must keep it in mind and ponder over it and try to understand the state of mind which makes me say what I say. I speak from truth; stretch your hand and take it. You are not what you think yourself to be, I assure you. The image you have of yourself is made up from memories and is purely accidental.
Q: What I am is the result of my karma.
M: What you appear to be, you are not. Karma is only a word you have learnt to repeat. You have never been, nor shall ever be a person. Refuse to consider yourself as one. But as long as you do not even doubt yourself to be a Mr. So-and-so, there is little hope. When you refuse to open your eyes, what can you be shown?
Q: I imagine karma to be a mysterious power that urges me towards perfection.
M: That's what people told you. You are already perfect, here and now. The perfectible is not you. You imagine yourself to be what you are not -- stop it. It is the cessation that is important, not what you are going to stop.
Q: Did not karma compel me to become what I am?
M: Nothing compels. You are as you believe yourself to be. Stop believing.
Q: Here you are sitting on your seat and talking to me. What compels you is your karma.
M: Nothing compels me. I do what needs doing. But you do so many unnecessary things. It is your refusal to examine that creates karma. It is the indifference to your own suffering that perpetuates it.
Q: Yes, it is true. What can put an end to this indifference?
M: The urge must come from within as a wave of detachment, or compassion.
Q: Could I meet this urge half way?
M: Of course. See your own condition; see the condition of the world.
Q: We were told about karma and reincarnation, evolution and Yoga, masters and disciples. What are we to do with all this knowledge?
M: Leave it all behind you. Forget it. Go forth, unburdened with ideas and beliefs. Abandon all verbal structures, all relative truth, all tangible objectives. The Absolute can be reached by absolute devotion only. Don't be half-hearted.
Q: I must begin with some absolute truth. Is there any?
M: Yes, there is, the feeling: 'I am'. Begin with that.
Q: Nothing else is true?
M: All else is neither true nor false. It seems real when it appears, it disappears when it is denied. A transient thing is a mystery.
Q: I thought the real is the mystery.
M: How can it be? The real is simple, open, clear and kind, beautiful and joyous. It is completely free of contradictions. It is ever new, ever fresh, endlessly creative. Being and non-being, life and death, all distinctions merge in it.
Q: I can admit that all is false. But, does it make my mind nonexistent?
M: The mind is what it thinks. To make it true, think true.
Q: If the shape of things is mere appearance, what are they in reality?
M: In reality there is only perception. The perceiver and the perceived are conceptual, the fact of perceiving is actual.
Q: Where does the Absolute come in?
M: The Absolute is the birthplace of Perceiving. It makes perception possible. But too much analysis leads you nowhere. There is in you the core of being which is beyond analysis, beyond the mind. You can know it in action only. Express it in daily life and its light will grow ever brighter. The legitimate function of the mind is to tell you what is not. But if you want positive knowledge, you must go beyond the mind.
Q: In all the universe is there one single thing of value?
M: Yes, the power of love.
71. In Self-awareness you Learn about Yourself
Questioner: It is our repeated experience that the disciples do much harm to their Gurus. They make plans and carry them out, without considering the Guru's wishes. In the end there is only endless worry for the Guru and bitterness for his disciples.
Maharaj: Yes, it does happen.
Q: Who compels the Guru to submit to these indignities?
M: The Guru is basically without desire. He sees what happens, but feels no urge to interfere. He makes no choices, takes no decisions. As pure witness, he watches what is going on and remains unaffected.
Q: But his work suffers.
M: Victory is always his -- in the end. He knows that if the disciples do not learn from his words, they will learn from their own mistakes. Inwardly he remains quiet and silent. He has no sense of being a separate person. The entire universe is his own, including his disciples with their petty plans. Nothing in particular affects him, or, which comes to the same, the entire universe affects him in equal measure.
Q: Is there no such thing as the Guru's grace?
M: His grace is constant and universal. It is not given to one and denied to another.
Q: How does it affect me personally?
M: It is by The Guru's grace that your mind is engaged in search for truth and it is by his grace that you will find it. It works unwaringly towards your ultimate good. And it is for all.
Q: Some disciples are ready, mature, and some are not. Must not the Guru exercise choice and make decisions?
M: The Guru knows the Ultimate and relentlessly propels the disciple towards it. The disciple is full of obstacles, which he himself must overcome. The Guru is not very much concerned with the superficialities of the disciple's life. It is like gravitation The fruit must fall -- when no longer held back.
Q: If the disciple does not know the goal, how can he make out the obstacles?
M: The goal is shown by the Guru, obstacles are discovered by the disciple. The Guru has no preferences, but those who have obstacles to overcome seem to be lagging behind. In reality the disciple is not different from the Guru. He is the same dimensionless centre of perception and love in action. It is only his imagination and self-identification with the imagined, that encloses him and converts him into a person. The Guru is concerned little with the person. His attention is on the inner watcher. It is the task of the watcher to understand and thereby eliminate the person. While there is grace on one side, there must be dedication to the task on the other.
Q: But the person does not want to be eliminated.
M: The person is merely the result of a misunderstanding. In reality, there is no such thing. Feelings, thoughts and actions race before the watcher in endless succession, leaving traces in the brain and creating an illusion of continuity. A reflection of the watcher in the mind creates the sense of 'I' and the person acquires an apparently independent existence. In reality there is no person, only the watcher identifying himself with the 'I' and the 'mine'. The teacher tells the watcher: you are not this, there is nothing of yours in this, except the little point of 'I am', which is the bridge between the watcher and his dream. ‘I am this, I am that' is dream, while pure 'I am' has the stamp of reality on it. You have tasted so many things -- all came to naught. Only the sense 'I am' persisted -- unchanged. Stay with the changeless among the changeful, until you are able to go beyond.
Q: When will it happen?
M: It will happen as soon as you remove the obstacles.
Q: Which obstacles?
M: Desire for the false and fear of the true. You, as the person, imagine that the Guru is interested in you as a person. Not at all. To him you are a nuisance and a hindrance to be done away with. He actually aims at your elimination as a factor in consciousness.
Q: If I am eliminated, what will remain?
M: Nothing will remain, all will remain. The sense of identity will remain, but no longer identification with a particular body. Being -- awareness -- love will shine in full splendour. Liberation is never of the person, it is always from the person.
Q: And no trace remains of the person?
M: A vague memory remains, like the memory of a dream, or early childhood. After all, what is there to remember? A flow of events, mostly accidental and meaningless. A sequence of desires and fears and inane blunders. Is there anything worth remembering? The person is but a shell imprisoning you. Break the shell.
Q: Whom are you asking to break the shell? Who is to break the shell?
M: Break the bonds of memory and self-identification and the shell will break by itself. There is a centre that imparts reality to whatever it perceives. All you need is to understand that you are the source of reality, that you give reality instead of getting it, that you need no support and no confirmation. Things are as they are, because you accept them as they are. Stop accepting them and they will dissolve. Whatever you think about with desire or fear appears before you as real. Look at it without desire or fear and it does lose substance. Pleasure and pain are momentary. It is simpler and easier to disregard them than to act on them.
Q: If all things come to an end, why did they appear at all?
M: Creation is in the very nature of consciousness. Consciousness causes appearances. Reality is beyond consciousness.
Q: While we are conscious of appearances, how is it that we are not conscious that these are mere appearances?
M: The mind covers up reality, without knowing it. To know the nature of the mind, you need intelligence, the capacity to look at the mind in silent and dispassionate awareness.
Q: If I am of the nature of all-pervading consciousness, how could ignorance and illusion happen to me?
M: Neither ignorance nor illusion ever happened to you. Find the self to which you ascribe ignorance and illusion and your question will be answered. You talk as if you know the self and see it to be under the sway of ignorance and illusion. But, in fact, you do not know the self, nor are you aware of ignorance. By all means become aware -- this will bring you to the self and you will realise that there is neither ignorance nor delusion in it. It is like saying: if there is sun, how can darkness be? As under a stone there will be darkness, however strong the sunlight, so in the shadow of the 'I-am-the-body' consciousness there must be ignorance and illusion.
Q: But why did the body consciousness come into being?
M: Don't ask 'why', ask 'how'. It is in the nature of creative imagination to identify itself with its creations. You can stop it any moment by switching off attention. Or through investigation.
Q: Does creation come before investigation?
M: First you create a world, then the 'I am' becomes a person, who is not happy for various reasons. He goes out in search of happiness, meets a Guru who tells him: 'You are not a person, find who you are'. He does it and goes beyond.
Q: Why did he not do it at the very start?
M: It did not occur to him. He needed somebody to tell him.
Q: Was that enough?
M: It was enough.
Q: Why does it not work in my case?
M: You do not trust me.
Q: Why is my faith weak?
M: Desires and fears have dulled your mind. It needs some scrubbing.
Q: How can I clear my mind?
M: By watching it relentlessly. Inattention obscures, attention clarifies.
Q: Why do the Indian teachers advocate inactivity?
M: Most of people's activities are valueless, if not outright destructive. Dominated by desire and fear, they can do nothing good. Ceasing to do evil precedes beginning to do good. Hence the need for stopping all activities for a time, to investigate one's urges and their motives, see all that is false in one's life, purge the mind of all evil and then only restart work, beginning with one's obvious duties. Of course, if you have a chance to help somebody, by all means do it and promptly too, don't keep him waiting till you are perfect. But do not become a professional do-gooder.
Q: I do not feel there are too many do-gooders among disciples. Most of those I met are too absorbed in their own petty conflicts. They have no heart for others.
M: Such self-centeredness is temporary. Be patient with such people. For so many years they gave attention to everything but themselves. Let them turn to themselves for a change.
Q: What are the fruits of self-awareness?
M: You grow more intelligent. In awareness you learn. In self-awareness you learn about yourself. Of course, you can only learn what you are not. To know what you are, you must go beyond the mind.
Q: Is not awareness beyond the mind?
M: Awareness is the point at which the mind reaches out beyond itself into reality. In awareness you seek not what pleases, but what is true.
Q: I find that awareness brings about a state of inner silence, a state of psychic void.
M: It is all right as it goes, but it is not enough. Have you felt the all-embracing emptiness in which the universe swims like a cloud in the blue sky?
Q: Sir, let me first come to know well my own inner space.
M: Destroy the wall that separates, the 'I-am-the-body' idea and the inner and the outer will become one.
Q: Am I to die?
M: Physical destruction is meaningless. It is the clinging to sensate life that binds you. If you could experience the inner void fully, the explosion into the totality would be near.
Q: My own spiritual experience has its seasons. Sometimes I feel glorious, then again I am down. I am like a little boy -- going up, going down, going up, going down.
M: All changes in consciousness are due to the 'I-am-the-body' idea. Divested of this idea the mind becomes steady. There is pure being, free of experiencing anything in particular. But to realise it you must do what your teacher tells you. Mere listening, even memorizing, is not enough. If you do not struggle hard to apply every word of it in your daily life, don't complain that you made no progress. All real progress is irreversible. Ups and downs merely show that the teaching has not been taken to heart and translated into action fully.
Q: The other day you told us that there is no such thing as karma. Yet we see that everything has a cause and the sum total of all the causes may be called karma.
M: As long as you believe yourself to be a body, you will ascribe causes to everything. I do not say things have no causes. Each thing has innumerable causes. It is as it is, because the world is as it is. Every cause in its ramifications covers the universe. When you realise that you are absolutely free to be what you consent to be, that you are what you appear to be because of ignorance or indifference, you are free to revolt and change. You allow yourself to be what you are not. You are looking for the causes of being what you are not! It is a futile search. There are no causes, but your ignorance of your real being, which is perfect and beyond all causation. For whatever happens, all the universe is responsible and you are the source of the universe.
Q: I know nothing about being the cause of the universe.
M: Because you do not investigate. Enquire, search within and you will know.
Q: How can a speck like me create the vast universe?
M: When you are infected with the 'I-am-the-body' virus; a whole universe springs into being. But when you have had enough of it, you cherish some fanciful ideas about liberation and pursue lines of action totally futile. You concentrate, you meditate, you torture your mind and body, you do all sorts of unnecessary things, but you miss the essential which is the elimination of the person.
Q: In the beginning we may have to pray and meditate for some time before we are ready for self-enquiry.
M: If you believe so, go on. To me, all delay is a waste of time. You can skip all the preparation and go directly for the ultimate search within. Of all the Yogas it is the simplest and the shortest.
72. What is Pure, Unalloyed, Unattached is Real
Maharaj: You are back in India! Where have you been, what have you seen?
Questioner: I come from Switzerland. I stayed there with a remarkable man who claims to have realised. He has done many Yogas in his past and had many experiences that passed away. Now he claims no special abilities, nor knowledge; the only unusual thing about him is connected with sensations; he is unable to separate the seer from the seen. For instance, when he sees a car rushing at him, he does not know whether the car is rushing at him, or he at a car. He seems to be both at the same time, the seer and the seen. They become one. Whatever he sees, he sees himself. When I asked him some Vedantic questions he said: 'I really cannot answer. I do not know. All I know is this strange identity with whatever I perceive. You know, I expected anything but this.' He is on the whole a humble man; he makes no disciples and in no way puts himself on a pedestal. He is willing to talk about his strange condition, but that is all.
M: Now he knows what he knows. All else is over. At least he still talks. Soon he may cease talking.
Q: What will he do then?
M: Immobility and silence are not inactive. The flower fills the space with perfume, the candle -- with light. They do nothing yet they change everything by their mere presence. You can photograph the candle, but not its light. You can know the man, his name and appearance, but not his influence. His very presence is action.
Q: Is it not natural to be active?
M: Everybody wants to be active, but where do his actions originate? There is no central point each action begets another, meaninglessly and painfully, in endless succession. The alternation of work and pause is not there. First find the immutable centre where all movement takes birth. Just like a wheel turns round an axle, so must you be always at the axle in the centre and not whirling at the periphery.
Q: How do I go about it in practice?
M: Whenever a thought or emotion of desire or fear comes to your mind, just turn away from it.
Q: By suppressing my thoughts and feelings I shall provoke a reaction.
M: I am not talking of suppression. Just refuse attention.
Q: Must I not use effort to arrest the movements of the mind?
M: It has nothing to do with effort. Just turn away, look between the thoughts, rather than at the thoughts. When you happen to walk in a crowd, you do not fight every man you meet -- you just find your way between.
Q: If I use my will to control the mind, it only strengthens the ego.
M: Of course. When you fight, you invite a fight. But when you do not resist, you meet with no resistance. When you refuse to play the game, you are out of it.
Q: How long will it take me to get free of the mind?
M: It may take a thousand years, but really no time is required. All you need is to be in dead earnest. Here the will is the deed. If you are sincere, you have it. After all, it is a matter of attitude. Nothing stops you from being a jnani here and now, except fear. You are afraid of being impersonal, of impersonal being. It is all quite simple. Turn away from your desires and fears and from the thoughts they create and you are at once in your natural state.
Q: No question of reconditioning, changing, or eliminating the mind?
M: Absolutely none. Leave your mind alone, that is all. Don't go along with it. After all, there is no such thing as mind apart from thoughts which come and go obeying their own laws, not yours. They dominate you only because you are interested in them. It is exactly as Christ said 'Resist not evil'. By resisting evil you merely strengthen it.
Q: Yes, I see now. All I have to do is to deny existence to evil. Then it fades away. But does it not boil down to some kind of auto-suggestion?
M: The auto-suggestion is in full swing now, when you think yourself to be a person, caught between good and evil. What I am asking you to do is to put an end to it, to wake up and see things as they are. About your stay in Switzerland with that strange friend of yours: what did you gain in his company?
Q: Nothing absolutely. His experience did not affect me at all. One thing I have understood: there is nothing to search for. Wherever I may go, nothing waits for me at the end of the journey. Discovery is not the result of transportation.
M: Yes, you are quite apart from anything that can be gained or lost.
Q: Do you call it vairagya, relinquishment, renunciation?
M: There is nothing to renounce. Enough if you stop acquiring. To give you must have, and to have you must take. Better don't take. It is simpler than to practice renunciation, which leads to a dangerous form of 'spiritual' pride. All this weighing, selecting, choosing, exchanging -- it is all shopping in some 'spiritual' market. What is your business there? What deal are you out to strike? When you are not out for business, what is the use of this endless anxiety of choice? Restlessness takes you nowhere. Something prevents you from seeing that there is nothing you need. Find it out and see its falseness. It is like having swallowed some poison and suffering from unquenchable craving for water. Instead of drinking beyond all measure, why not eliminate the poison and be free of this burning thirst?
Q: I shall have to eliminate the ego!
M: The sense 'I am a person in time and space' is the poison. In a way, time itself is the poison. In time all things come to an end and new are born, to be devoured in their turn. Do not identify yourself with time, do not ask anxiously: 'what next, what next?' Step out of time and see it devour the world. Say: 'Well, it is in the nature of time to put an end to everything. Let it be. It does not concern me. I am not combustible, nor do I need to collect fuel'.
Q: Can the witness be without the things to witness?
M: There is always something to witness. If not a thing, then its absence. Witnessing is natural and no problem. The problem is excessive interest, leading to self-identification. Whatever you are engrossed in you take to be real.
Q: Is the 'I am' real or unreal? Is the 'I am' the witness? Is the witness real or unreal?
M: What is pure, unalloyed, unattached, is real. What is tainted, mixed up, dependent and transient is unreal. Do not be misled by words -- one word may convey several and even contradictory meanings. The 'I am’ that pursues the pleasant and shuns the unpleasant is false; the 'I am' that sees pleasure and pain as inseparable sees rightly. The witness that is enmeshed in what he perceives is the person; the witness who stands aloof, unmoved and untouched, is the watch-tower of the real, the point at which awareness, inherent in the unmanifested, contacts the manifested. There can be no universe without the witness, there can be no witness without the universe.
Q: Time consumes the world. Who is the witness of time?
M: He who is beyond time -- the un-nameable. A glowing ember, moved round and round quickly enough, appears as a glowing circle. When the movement ceases, the ember remains. Similarly, the 'I am' in movement creates the world. The 'I am' at peace becomes the Absolute. You are like a man with an electric torch walking through a gallery. You can see only what is within the beam. The rest is in darkness.
Q: If I project the world, I should be able to change it.
M: Of course, you can. But you must cease identifying yourself with it and go beyond. Then you have the power to destroy and re-create.
Q: All I want is to be free.
M: You must know two things: What are you to be free from and what keeps you bound.
Q: Why do you want to annihilate the universe?
M: I am not concerned with the universe. Let it be or not be. It is enough if I know myself.
Q: If you are beyond the world, then you are of no use to the world.
M: Pity the self that is, not the world that is not! Engrossed in a dream you have forgotten your true self.
Q: Without the world there is no place for love.
M: Quite so. All these attributes; being, consciousness, love and beauty are reflections of the real in the world. No real -- no reflection.
Q: The world is full of desirable things and people. How can I imagine it non-existent?
M: Leave the desirable to those who desire. Change the current of your desire from taking to giving. The passion for giving, for sharing, will naturally wash the idea of an external world out of your mind, and of giving as well. Only the pure radiance of love will remain, beyond giving and receiving.
Q: In love there must be duality, the lover and the beloved.
M: In love there is not the one even, how can there be two? Love is the refusal to separate, to make distinctions. Before you can think of unity, you must first create duality. When you truly love, you do not say: 'I love you'; where there is mentation, there is duality.
Q: What is it that brings me again and again to India? It cannot be only the comparative cheapness of life here? Nor the colourfulness and variety of impressions. There must be some more important factor.
M: There is also the spiritual aspect. The division between the outer and the inner is less in India. It is easier here to express the inner in the outer. Integration is easier. Society is not so oppressive.
Q: Yes, in the West it is all tamas and rajas. In India there is more of sattva, of harmony and balance.
M: Can't you go beyond the gunas? Why choose the sattva? Be what you are, wherever you are and worry not about gunas.
Q: I have not the strength.
M: It merely shows that you have gained little in India. What you truly have you cannot lose. Were you well-grounded in yourself, change of place would not affect it.
Q: In India spiritual life is easy. It is not so in the West. One has to conform to environment to a much greater extent.
M: Why don't you create your own environment? The world has only as much power over you as you give it. Rebel. Go beyond duality, make no difference between east and west.
Q: What can one do when one finds oneself in a very unspiritual environment?
M: Do nothing. Be yourself. Stay out. Look beyond.
Q: There may be clashes at home. Parents rarely understand.
M: When you know your true being, you have no problems. You may please your parents or not, marry or not, make a lot of money or not; it is all the same to you. Just act according to circumstances, yet in close touch with the facts, with the reality in every situation.
Q: Is it not a very high state?
M: Oh no, it is the normal state. You call it high because you are afraid of it. First be free from fear. See that there is nothing to be afraid of. Fearlessness is the door to the Supreme.
Q: No amount of effort can make me fearless.
M: Fearlessness comes by itself, when you see that there is nothing to be afraid of. When you walk in a crowded street, you just bypass people. Some you see, some you just glance at, but you do not stop. It is the stopping that creates the bottleneck. Keep moving! Disregard names and shapes, don't be attached to them; your attachment is your bondage.
Q: What should I do when a man slaps me on my face?
M: You will react according to your character, inborn or acquired.
Q: Is it inevitable? Am I, is the world, condemned to remain as we are?
M: A jeweller who wants to refashion an ornament, first melts it town to shapeless gold. Similarly, one must return to one's original state before a new name and form can emerge. Death is essential for renewal.
Q: You are always stressing the need of going beyond, of aloofness, of solitude. You hardly ever use the words 'right' and 'wrong'. Why is it so?
M: It is right to be oneself, it is wrong not to be. All else is conditional. You are eager to separate right from wrong, because you need some basis for action. You are always after doing something or other. But, personally motivated action, based on some scale of values, aiming at some result is worse than inaction, for its fruits are always bitter.
Q: Are awareness and love one and the same?
M: Of course. Awareness is dynamic, love is being. Awareness is love in action. By itself the mind can actualise any number of possibilities, but unless they are prompted by love, they are valueless. Love precedes creation. Without it there is only chaos.
Q: Where is the action in awareness?
M: You are so incurably operational! Unless there is movement, restlessness, turmoil, you do not call it action. Chaos is movement for movement's sake. True action does not displace; it transforms. A change of place is mere transportation; a change of heart is action. Just remember, nothing perceivable is real. Activity is not action. Action is hidden, unknown, unknowable. You can only know the fruit.
Q: Is not God the all-doer?
M: Why do you bring in an outer doer? The world recreates itself out of itself. It is an endless process, the transitory begetting the transitory. It is your ego that makes you think that there must be a doer. You create a God to your own Image, however dismal the image. Through the film of your mind you project a world and also a God to give it cause and purpose. It is all imagination -- step out of it.
Q: How difficult it is to see the world as purely mental! The tangible reality of it seems so very convincing.
M: This is the mystery of imagination, that it seems to be so real. You may be celibate or married, a monk or a family man; that is not the point. Are you a slave of your imagination, or are you not? Whatever decision you take, whatever work you do, it will be invariably based on imagination, on assumptions parading as facts.
Q: Here I am sitting in front of you. What part of it is imagination?
M: The whole of it. Even space and time are imagined.
Q: Does it mean that I don't exist?
M: I too do not exist. All existence is imaginary.
Q: Is being too imaginary?
M: Pure being, filling all and beyond all, is not existence which is limited. All limitation is imaginary, only the unlimited is real.
Q: When you look at me, what do you see?
M: I see you imagining yourself to be.
Q: There are many like me. Yet each is different.
M: The totality of all projections is what is called maha-maya, the Great Illusion.
Q: But when you look at yourself, what do you see?
M: It depends how I look. When I look through the mind, I see numberless people. When I look beyond the mind, I see the witness. Beyond the witness there is the infinite intensity of emptiness and silence.
Q: How to deal with people?
M: Why make plans and what for? Such questions show anxiety. Relationship is a living thing. Be at peace with your inner self and you will be at peace with everybody. Realise that you are not the master of what happens, you cannot control the future except in purely technical matters. Human relationship cannot be planned, it is too rich and varied. Just be understanding and compassionate, free of all self-seeking.
Q: Surely, I am not the master of what happens. It is slave rather.
M: Be neither master, nor slave. Stand aloof.
Q: Does it imply avoidance of action?
M: You cannot avoid action. It happens, like everything else.
Q: My actions, surely, I can control.
M: Try. You will soon see that you do what you must.
Q: I can act according to my will.
M: You know your will only after you have acted.
Q: I remember my desires, the choices made, the decisions taken and act accordingly.
M: Then your memory decides, not you.
Q: Where do I come in?
M: You make it possible by giving it attention.
Q: Is there no such thing as free will? Am I not free to desire?
M: Oh no, you are compelled to desire. In Hinduism the very idea of free will is non-existent, so there is no word for it. Will is commitment, fixation, bondage.
Q: I am free to choose my limitations.
M: You must be free first. To be free in the world you must be free of the world. Otherwise your past decides for you and your future. Between what had happened and what must happen, you are caught. Call it destiny or karma, but never -- freedom. First return to your true being and then act from the heart of love.
Q: Within the manifested what is the stamp of the unmanifested?
M: There is none. The moment you begin to look for the stamp of the unmanifested, the manifested dissolves. If you try to understand the unmanifested with the mind, you at once go beyond the mind, like when you stir the fire with a wooden stick, you burn the stick. Use the mind to investigate the manifested. Be like the chick that pecks at the shell. Speculating about life outside the shell would have been of little use to it, but pecking at the shell breaks the shell from within and liberates the chick. Similarly, break the mind from within by investigation and exposure of its contradictions and absurdities.
Q: The longing to break the shell, where does it come from?
M: From the unmanifested.
73. Death of the Mind is Birth of Wisdom
Questioner: Before one can realise one's true nature need not one be a person? Does not the ego have its value?
Maharaj: The person is of little use. It is deeply involved in its own affairs and is completely ignorant of its true being. Unless the witnessing consciousness begins to play on the person and it becomes the object of observation rather than the subject, realisation is not feasible. It is the witness that makes realisation desirable and attainable.
Q: There comes a point in a person's life when it becomes the witness.
M: Oh, no. The person by itself will not become the witness. It is like expecting a cold candle to start burning in the course of time. The person can stay in the darkness of ignorance forever, unless the flame of awareness touches it.
Q: Who lights the candle?
M: The Guru. His words, his presence. In India it is very often the mantra. Once the candle is lighted, the flame will consume the candle.
Q: Why is the mantra so effective?
M: Constant repetition of the mantra is something the person does not do for one's own sake. The beneficiary is not the person. Just like the candle which does not increase by burning.
Q: Can the person become aware of itself by itself?
M: Yes, it happens sometimes as a result of much suffering The Guru wants to save you the endless pain. Such is his grace. Even when there is no discoverable outer Guru, there is always the sadguru, the inner Guru, who directs and helps from within. The words 'outer' and 'inner' are relative to the body only; in reality all is one, the outer being merely a projection of the inner. Awareness comes as if from a higher dimension.
Q: Before the spark is lit and after, what is the difference?
M: Before the spark is lit there is no witness to perceive the difference. The person may be conscious, but is not aware of being conscious. It is completely identified with what it thinks and feels and experiences. The darkness that is in it is of its own creation. When the darkness is questioned, it dissolves. The desire to question is planted by the Guru. In other words, the difference between the person and the witness is as between not knowing and knowing oneself. The world seen in consciousness is to be of the nature of consciousness, when there is harmony (sattva); but when activity and passivity (rajas and tamas) appear, they obscure and distort and you see the false as real.
Q: What can the person do to prepare itself for the coming of the Guru.
M: The very desire to be ready means that the Guru had come and the flame is lighted. It may be a stray word, or a page in a book; the Guru's grace works mysteriously.
Q: Is there no such thing as self-preparation? We hear so much about yoga sadhana?
M: It is not the person that is doing sadhana. The person is in unrest and resistance to the very end. It is the witness that works on the person, on the totality of its illusions, past, present and future.
Q: How can we know that what you say is true? While it is self-contained and free from inner contradictions, how can we know that it is not a product of fertile imagination, nurtured and enriched by constant repetition?
M: The proof of the truth lies in its effect on the listener.
Q: Words can have a most powerful effect. By hearing, or repeating words, one can experience various kinds of trances. The listener's experiences may be induced and cannot be considered as a proof.
M: The effect need not necessarily be an experience. It can be a change in character, in motivation, in relationship to people and one's self. Trances and visions induced by words, or drugs, or any other sensory or mental means are temporary and inconclusive. The truth of what is said here is immovable and everlasting. And the proof of it is in the listener, in the deep and permanent changes in his entire being. It is not something he can doubt, unless he doubts his own existence, which is unthinkable. When my experience becomes your own experience also, what better proof do you want?
Q: The experiencer is the proof of his experience.
M: Quite, but the experiencer needs no proof. 'I am, and I know I am'. You cannot ask for further proofs.
Q: Can there be true knowledge of things?
M: Relatively -- yes. Absolutely -- there are no things. To know that nothing is is true knowledge.
Q: What is the link between the relative and the absolute?
M: They are identical.
Q: From which point of view are they identical?
M: When the words are spoken, there is silence. When the relative is over, the absolute remains. The silence before the words were spoken, is it different from the silence that comes after? The silence is one and without it the words could not have been heard. It is always there -- at the back of the words. Shift your attention from words to silence and you will hear it. The mind craves for experience, the memory of which it takes for knowledge. The jnani is beyond all experience and his memory is empty of the past. He is entirely unrelated to anything in particular. But the mind craves for formulations and definitions, always eager to squeeze reality into a verbal shape. Of everything it wants an idea, for without ideas the mind is not. Reality is essentially alone, but the mind will not leave it alone -- and deals instead with the unreal. And yet it is all the mind can do -- discover the unreal as unreal.
Q: And seeing the real as real?
M: There is no such state as seeing the real. Who is to see what? You can only be the real -- which you are, anyhow. The problem is only mental. Abandon false ideas, that is all. There is no need of true ideas. There aren't any.
Q: Why then are we encouraged to seek the real?
M: The mind must have a purpose. To encourage it to free itself from the unreal it is promised something in return. In reality, there is no need of purpose. Being free from the false is good in itself, it wants no reward. It is just like being clean -- which is its own reward.
Q: Is not self-knowledge the reward?
M: The reward of self-knowledge is freedom from the personal self. You cannot know the knower, for you are the knower. The fact of knowing proves the knower. You need no other proof. The knower of the known is not knowable. Just like the light is known in colours only, so is the knower known in knowledge.
Q: Is the knower an inference only?
M: You know your body, mind and feelings. Are you an inference only?
Q: I am an inference to others. but not to myself.
M: So am I. An inference to you, but not to myself. I know myself by being myself. As you know yourself to be a man by being one. You do not keep on reminding yourself that you are a man. It is only when your humanity is questioned that you assert it. Similarly, I know that I am all. I do not need to keep on repeating: 'I am all, I am all'. Only when you take me to be a particular, a person, I protest. As you are a man all the time, so I am what I am -- all the time. Whatever you are changelessly, that you are beyond all doubt.
Q: When I ask how do you know that you are a jnani, you answer: 'I find no desire in me. Is this not a proof?'
M: Were I full of desires, I would have still been what I am.
Q: Myself, full of desires and you, full of desires; what difference would there be?
M: You identify yourself with your desires and become their slave. To me desires are things among other things, mere clouds in the mental sky, and I do not feel compelled to act on them.
Q: The knower and his knowledge, are they one or two?
M: They are both. The knower is the unmanifested, the known is the manifested. The known is always on the move, it changes, it has no shape of its own, no dwelling place. The knower is the immutable support of all knowledge. Each needs the other, but reality lies beyond. The jnani cannot be known, because there is nobody to be known. When there is a person, you can tell something about it, but when there is no self-identification with the particular, what can be said? You may tell a jnani anything; his question will always be: 'about whom are you talking? There is no such person'. Just as you cannot say anything about the universe because it includes everything, so nothing can be said about a jnani, for he is all and yet nothing in particular. You need a hook to hang your picture on; when there is no hook, on what will the picture hang? To locate a thing you need space, to place an event you need time; but the timeless and spaceless defies all handling. It makes everything perceivable, yet itself it is beyond perception. The mind cannot know what is beyond the mind, but the mind is known by what is beyond it. The jnani knows neither birth nor death; existence and non-existence are the same to him.
Q: When your body dies, you remain.
M: Nothing dies. The body is just imagined. There is no such thing.
Q: Before another century will pass, you will be dead to all around you. Your body will be covered with flowers, then burnt and the ashes scattered. That will be our experience. What will be yours?
M: Time will come to an end. This is called the Great Death (mahamrityu), the death of time.
Q: Does it mean that the universe and its contents will come to an end?
M: The universe is your personal experience. How can it be affected? You might have been delivering a lecture for two hours; where has it gone when it is over? It has merged into silence in which the beginning, middle and end of the lecture are all together. Time has come to a stop, it was, but is no more. The silence after a life of talking and the silence after a life of silence is the same silence. Immortality is freedom from the feeling: 'I am'. Yet it is not extinction. On the contrary, it is a state infinitely more real, aware and happy than you can possibly think of. Only self-consciousness is no more.
Q: Why does the Great Death of the mind coincide with the 'small death' of the body?
M: It does not! You may die a hundred deaths without a break in the mental turmoil. Or, you may keep your body and die only in the mind. The death of the mind is the birth of wisdom.
Q: The person goes and only the witness remains.
M: Who remains to say: 'I am the witness'. When there is no 'I am', where is the witness? In the timeless state there is no self to take refuge in. The man who carries a parcel is anxious not to lose it -- he is parcel-conscious. The man who cherishes the feeling 'I am' is self-conscious. The jnani holds on to nothing and cannot be said to be conscious. And yet he is not unconscious. He is the very heart of awareness. We call him digambara clothed in space, the Naked One, beyond all appearance. There is no name and shape under which he may be said to exist, yet he is the only one that truly is.
Q: I cannot grasp it.
M: Who can? The mind has its limits. It is enough to bring you to the very frontiers of knowledge and make you face the immensity of the unknown. To dive in it is up to you.
Q: What about the witness? Is it real or unreal?
M: It is both. The last remnant of illusion, the first touch of the real. To say: I am only the witness is both false and true: false because of the 'I am', true because of the witness. It is better to say: 'there is witnessing'. The moment you say: 'I am', the entire universe comes into being along with its creator.
Q: Another question: can we visualise the person and the self as two brothers small and big? The little brother is mischievous and selfish, rude and restless, while the big brother is intelligent and kind, reasonable and considerate, free from body consciousness with its desires and fears. The big brother knows the little one. But the small one is ignorant of the big one and thinks itself to be entirely on its own. The Guru comes and tells the smaller one: 'You are not alone; you come from a very good family. Your brother is a very remarkable man, wise and kind. He loves you very much. Remember him, think of him, find him, serve him, and you will become one with him'. Now, the question is are there two in us, the personal and the individual, the false self and the true self, or is it only a simile?
M: It is both. They appear to be two, but on investigation they are found to be one. Duality lasts only as long as it is not questioned. The trinity: mind, self and spirit (vyakti, vyakta, avyakta), when looked into, becomes unity. These are only modes of experiencing: of attachment, of detachment, of transcendence.
Q: Your assumption that we are in a dream state makes your position unassailable. Whatever objection we raise, you just deny its validity. One cannot discuss with you!
M: The desire to discuss is also mere desire. The desire to know, to have the power, even the desire to exist are desires only. Everybody desires to be, to survive, to continue, for no one is sure of himself. But everybody is immortal. You make yourself mortal by taking yourself to be the body.
Q: Since you have found your freedom, will you not give me a little of it?
M: Why little? Take the whole. Take it, it is there for the taking. But you are afraid of freedom!
Q: Swami Ramdas had to deal with a similar request. Some devotees collected round him one day and began to ask for liberation. Ramdas listened smilingly and then suddenly he became serious and said: You can have it, here and now, freedom absolute and permanent. Who wants it, come forward. Nobody moved. Thrice he repeated the offer. None accepted. Then he said: 'The offer is withdrawn'.
M: Attachment destroys courage. The giver is always ready to give. The taker is absent. Freedom means letting go. People just do not care to let go everything. They do not know that the finite is the price of the infinite, as death is the price of immortality. Spiritual maturity lies in the readiness to let go everything. The giving up is the first step. But the real giving up is in realising that there is nothing to give up, for nothing is your own. It is like deep sleep -- you do not give up your bed when you fall sleep -- you just forget it.