I Am That
Questioner: Does it take time to realise the Self, or time cannot help to realise? Is self-realisation a matter of time only, or does it depends on factors other than time?
Maharaj: All waiting is futile. To depend on time to solve our problems is self-delusion. The future, left to itself merely repeats the past. Change can only happen now, never in the future.
Q: What brings about a change?
M: With crystal clarity see the need of change. This is all.
Q: Does self-realisation happen in matter, or beyond? Is it not an experience depending on the body and the mind for its occurrence?
M: All experience is illusory, limited and temporal. Expect nothing from experience. realisation by itself is not an experience, though it may lead to a new dimension of experiences. Yet the new experiences, however interesting, are not more real than the old. Definitely realisation is not a new experience. It is the discovery of the timeless factor in every experience. It is awareness, which makes experience possible. Just like in all the colours light is the colourless factor, so in every experience awareness is present, yet it is not an experience.
Q: If awareness is not an experience, how can it be realised?
M: Awareness is ever there. It need not be realised. Open the shutter of the mind, and it will be flooded with light.
Q: What is matter?
M: What you do not understand is matter.
Q: Science understands matter.
M: Science merely pushes back the frontiers of our ignorance.
Q: And what is nature?
M: The totality of conscious experiences is nature. As a conscious self you are a part of nature. As awareness, you are beyond. Seeing nature as mere consciousness is awareness.
Q: Are there levels of awareness?
M: There are levels in consciousness, but not in awareness. It is of one block, homogeneous. Its reflection in the mind is love and understanding. There are levels of clarity in understanding and intensity in love, but not in their source. The source is simple and single, but its gifts are infinite. Only do not take the gifts for the source. Realise yourself as the source and not as the river; that is all.
Q: I am the river too.
M: Of course, you are. As an 'I am' you are the river, flowing between the banks of the body. But you are also the source and the ocean and the clouds in the sky. Wherever there is life and consciousness, you are. Smaller than the smallest, bigger than the biggest, you are, while all else appears.
Q: The sense of being and the sense of living -- are they one and the same, or different?
M: The identity in space creates one, the continuity in time creates the other.
Q: You said once that the seer, seeing and the seen are one single thing, not three. To me the three are separate. I do not doubt your words, only I do not understand.
M: Look closely and you will see that the seer and the seen appear only when there is seeing. They are attributes of seeing. When you say 'I am seeing this'. 'I am' and 'this' come with seeing, not before. You cannot have an unseen 'this' nor an unseeing 'I am'.
Q: I can say: 'I do not see'.
M: The 'I am seeing this' has become 'l am seeing my not seeing', or 'I am seeing darkness'. The seeing remains. In the triplicity: the known, knowing and the knower, only the knowing is a fact. The 'I am' and 'this' are doubtful. Who knows? What is known? There is no certainty, except that there is knowing.
Q: Why am I sure of knowing, but not of the knower?
M: Knowing is a reflection of your true nature along with being and loving. The knower and the known are added by the mind. It is in the nature of the mind to create a subject-object duality, where there is none.
Q: What is the cause of desire and fear?
M: Obviously, the memory of past pains and pleasures. There is no great mystery about it. Conflict arises only when desire and fear refer to the same object.
Q: How to put an end to memory?
M: It is neither necessary, nor possible. Realise that all happens in consciousness and you are the root, the source, the foundation of consciousness. The world is but a succession of experiences and you are what makes them conscious, and yet remain beyond all experience. It is like the heat, the flame and the burning wood. The heat maintains the flame, the flame consumes the wood. Without heat there would be neither flame nor fuel. Similarly, without awareness there would be no consciousness, nor life, which transforms matter into a vehicle of consciousness.
Q: You maintain that without me there would be no world, and that the world and my knowledge of the world are identical. Science has come to a quite different conclusion: the world exists as something concrete and continuous, while I am a by-product of biological evolution of the nervous system, which is primarily not so much a seat of consciousness, as a mechanism of survival as individual and species. Yours is altogether a subjective view, while science tries to describe everything in objective terms. Is this contradiction inevitable?
M: The confusion is apparent and purely verbal. What is, is. It is neither subjective nor objective. Matter and mind are not separate, they are aspects of one energy. Look at the mind as a function of matter and you have science; look at matter as the product of the mind and you have religion.
Q: But what is true? What comes first, mind or matter?
M: Neither comes first. For neither appears alone. Matter is the shape, mind is the name. Together they make the world. Pervading and transcending is Reality, pure being -- awareness -- bliss, your very essence.
Q: All I know is the stream of consciousness, an endless succession of events. The river of time flows, bringing and carrying away relentlessly. Transformation of the future into past is going on all the time.
M: Are you not the victim of your language? You speak about the flow of time, as if you were stationary. But the events you have witnessed yesterday somebody else may see tomorrow. It is you who are in movement and not time. Stop moving and time will cease.
Q: What does it mean -- time will cease?
M: Past and future will merge in the eternal now.
Q: But what does it mean in actual experience? How do you know that for you time has ceased?
M: It may mean that past and future do not matter anymore. It may also mean that all that happened and will happen becomes an open book to be read at will.
Q: I can imagine a sort of cosmic memory, accessible with some training. But how can the future be known? The unexpected is inevitable.
M: What is unexpected on one level may be certain to happen, when seen from a higher level After all, we are within the limits of the mind. In reality nothing happens, there is no past or future; all appears and nothing is.
Q: What does it mean, nothing is? Do you turn blank, or go to sleep? Or do you dissolve the world and keep us all in abeyance, until we are brought back to life at the next flicker of your thought?
M: Oh, no, it is not that bad. The world of mind and matter, of names and shapes, continues, but it does not matter to me at all. It is like having a shadow. It is there -- following me wherever I go, but not hindering me in any way. It remains a world of experiences, but not of names and forms related to me by desires and fears. The experiences are qualityless, pure experiences, if I may say so. I call them experiences for the lack of a better word. They are like the waves on the surface of the ocean, the ever-present, but not affecting its peaceful power.
Q: You mean to say an experience can be nameless, formless, undefined?
M: In the beginning all experience is such. It is only desire and fear, born of memory, that give it name and form and separate it from other experiences. It is not a conscious experience, for it is not in opposition to other experiences, yet it is an experience all the same.
Q: If it is not conscious, why talk about it?
M: Most of your experiences are unconscious. The conscious ones are very few. You are unaware of the fact because to you only the conscious ones count. Become aware of the unconscious.
Q: Can one be aware of the unconscious? How is it done?
M: Desire and fear are the obscuring and distorting factors. When mind is free of them the unconscious becomes accessible.
Q: Does it mean that the unconscious becomes conscious?
M: It is rather the other way round. The conscious becomes one with the unconscious. The distinction ceases, whichever way you look at it.
Q: I am puzzled. How can one be aware and yet unconscious?
M: Awareness is not limited to consciousness. It is of all that is. Consciousness is of duality. There is no duality in awareness. It is one single block of pure cognition. In the same way one can talk of the pure being and pure creation -- nameless, formless, silent and yet absolutely real, powerful, effective.
Their being indescribable does not affect them in the least. While they are unconscious, they are essential. The conscious cannot change fundamentally, it can only modify. Anything, to change, must pass through death, through obscuration and dissolution. Gold jewellery must be melted down before it is cast into another shape. What refuses to die cannot be reborn.
Q: Barring the death of the body, how does one die?
M: Withdrawal, aloofness, letting go is death. To live fully, death is essential; every ending makes a new beginning. On the other hand, do understand, that only the dead can die, not the living. That which is alive in you, is immortal.
Q: From where does desire draw its energy?
M: Its name and shape it draws from memory. The energy flows from the source.
Q: Some desires are altogether wrong. How can wrong desires flow from a sublime source?
M: The source is neither right nor wrong. Nor is desire by itself right or wrong. It is nothing but striving for happiness. Having identified yourself with a speck of a body you feel lost and search desperately for the sense of fullness and completeness you call happiness.
Q: When did I lose it? I never had it.
M: You had it before you woke up this morning. Go beyond your consciousness and you will find it.
Q: How am I to go beyond?
M: You know it already; do it.
Q: That's what you say. I know nothing about it.
M: Yet I repeat -- you know it. Do it. Go beyond, back to your normal, natural, supreme state.
Q: I'm puzzled.
M: A speck in the eye makes you think you are blind. Wash it out and look.
Q: I do look! I see only darkness.
M: Remove the speck and your eyes will be flooded with light. The light is there -- waiting. The eyes are there -- ready. The darkness you see is but the shadow of the tiny speck. Get rid of it and come back to your natural state.
81. Root Cause of Fear
Maharaj: Where do you come from?
Questioner: I am from the United States, but I live mostly in Europe. To India I came recently. I was in Rishikesh, in two Ashrams. I was taught meditation and breathing.
M: How long were you there?
Q: Eight days in one, six days in another. I was not happy there and I left. Then for three weeks I was with the Tibetan Lamas. But they were all wrapped up in formulas and rituals.
M: And what was the net result of it all?
Q: Definitely there was an increase of energy. But before I left for Rishikesh, I did some fasting and dieting at a Nature Cure Sanatorium at Pudukkotai in South India. It has done me enormous good.
M: Maybe the access of energy was due to better health.
Q: I cannot say. But as a result of all these attempts some fires started burning in various places in my body and I heard chants and voices where there were none.
M: And what are you after now?
Q: Well, what are we all after? Some truth, some inner certainty, some real happiness. In the various schools of self-realisation there is so much talk of awareness, that one ends with the impression that awareness itself is the supreme reality. Is it so? The body is looked after by the brain, the brain is illumined by consciousness; awareness watches over consciousness; is there anything beyond awareness?
M: How do you know that you are aware?
Q: I feel that I am. I cannot express it otherwise.
M: When you follow it up carefully from brain through consciousness to awareness, you find that the sense of duality persists. When you go beyond awareness, there is a state of non-duality, in which there is no cognition, only pure being, which may be as well called non-being, if by being you mean being something in particular.
Q: What you call pure being is it universal being, being everything?
M: Everything implies a collection of particulars. In pure being the very idea of the particular is absent.
Q: Is there any relationship between pure being and particular being?
M: What relationship can there be between what is and what merely appears to be? Is there any relationship between the ocean and its waves? The real enables the unreal to appear and causes it to disappear. the succession of transient moments creates the illusion of time, but the timeless reality of pure being is not in movement, for all movement requires a motionless background. It is itself the background. Once you have found it in yourself, you know that you had never lost that independent being, independent of all divisions and separations. But don't look for it in consciousness, you will not find it there. Don't look for it anywhere, for nothing contains it. On the contrary, it contains everything and manifests everything. It is like the daylight that makes everything visible while itself remaining invisible.
Q: Sir, of what use to me is your telling me that reality cannot be found in consciousness? Where else am I to look for it? How do you apprehend it?
M: It is quite simple. If I ask you what is the taste of your mouth all you can do is to say: it is neither sweet nor bitter, nor sour nor astringent; it is what remains when all these tastes are not. Similarly, when all distinctions and reactions are no more, what remains is reality, simple and solid.
Q: All that I understand is that I am in the grip of a beginningless illusion. And I do not see how it can come to an end. If it could, it would -- long ago. I must have had as many opportunities in the past as I shall have in the future. What could not happen cannot happen. Or, if it did, it could not last. Our very deplorable state after all these untold millions of years carries, at best, the promise of ultimate extinction, or, which is worse, the threat of an endless and meaningless repetition.
M: What proof have you that your present state is beginningless and endless? How were you before you were born? How will you be after death? And of your present state -- how much do you know? You do not know even what was your condition before you woke up this morning? You only know a little of your present state and from it you draw conclusions for all times and places. You may be just dreaming and imagining your dream to be eternal.
Q: Calling it a dream does not change the situation. I repeat my question: what hope is left which the eternity behind me could not fulfil? Why should my future be different from my past?
M: In your fevered state, you project a past and a future and take them to be real. In fact, you know only your present moment. Why not investigate what is now, instead of questioning the imaginary past and future? Your present state is neither beginningless nor endless. If is over in a flash. Watch carefully from where it comes and where it goes. You will soon discover the timeless reality behind it.
Q: Why have I not done it before?
M: Just as every wave subsides into the ocean, so does every moment return to its source. realisation consists in discovering the source and abiding there.
Q: Who discovers?
M: The mind discovers.
Q: Does it find the answers?
M: It finds that it is left without questions, that no answers are needed.
Q: Being born is a fact. Dying is another fact. How do they appear to the witness?
M: A child was born; a man has died -- just events in the course of time.
Q: Is there any progress in the witness? Does awareness evolve?
M: What is seen may undergo many changes when the light of awareness is focussed on it, but it is the object that changes, not the light. Plants grow in sunlight, but the sun does not grow. By themselves both the body and the witness are motionless, but when brought together in the mind, both appear to move.
Q: Yes, I can see that what moves and changes is the 'I am' only. Is the 'I am' needed at all?
M: Who needs it? It is there -- now. It had a beginning it will have an end.
Q: What remains when the ‘I am’ goes?
M: What does not come and go -- remains. It is the ever greedy mind that creates ideas of progress and evolution towards perfection. It disturbs and talks of order, destroys and seeks security.
Q: Is there progress in destiny, in karma?
M: Karma is only a store of unspent energies, of unfulfilled desires and fears not understood. The store is being constantly replenished by new desires and fears. It need not be so for ever. Understand the root cause of your fears -- estrangement from yourself: and of desires -- the longing for the self, and your karma will dissolve like a dream. Between earth and heaven life goes on. Nothing is affected, only bodies grow and decay.
Q: Between the person and the witness, what is the relation?
M: There can be no relation between them because they are one. Don't separate and don't look for relationship.
Q: If the seer and the seen are one, how did the separation occur?
M: Fascinated by names and forms, which are by their very nature distinct and diverse, you distinguish what is natural and separate what is one. The world is rich in diversity, but your feeling strange and frightened is due to misapprehension. It is the body that is in danger, not you.
Q: I can see that the basic biological anxiety, the flight instinct, takes many shapes and distorts my thoughts and feelings. But how did this anxiety come into being?
M: It is a mental state caused by the 'I-am-the-body' idea. It can be removed by the contrary idea: 'I- am-not-the-body'. Both the ideas are false, but one removes the other. Realise that no ideas are your own, they all come to you from outside. You must think it all out for yourself, become yourself the object of your meditation. The effort to understand yourself is Yoga. Be a Yogi, give your life to it, brood, wonder, search, till you come to the root of error and to the truth beyond the error.
Q: In meditation, who meditates, the person or the witness?
M: Meditation is a deliberate attempt to pierce into the higher states of consciousness and finally go beyond it. The art of meditation is the art of shifting the focus of attention to ever subtler levels, without losing one's grip on the levels left behind. In a way it is like having death under control. One begins with the lowest levels: social circumstances, customs and habits; physical surroundings, the posture and the breathing of the body, the senses, their sensations and perceptions; the mind, its thoughts and feelings; until the entire mechanism of personality is grasped and firmly held. The final stage of meditation is reached when the sense of identity goes beyond the 'I-am-so-and-so', beyond 'so-l-am', beyond 'I-am-the-witness-only', beyond 'there-is', beyond all ideas into the impersonally personal pure being. But you must be energetic when you take to meditation. It is definitely not a part-time occupation. Limit your interests and activities to what is needed for you and your dependents' barest needs. Save all your energies and time for breaking the wall your mind had built around you. Believe me, you will not regret.
Q: How do I come to know that my experience is universal?
M: At the end of your meditation all is known directly, no proofs whatsoever are required. Just as every drop of the ocean carries the taste of the ocean, so does every moment carry the taste of eternity. Definitions and descriptions have their place as useful incentives for further search, but you must go beyond them into what is undefinable and indescribable, except in negative terms. After all, even universality and eternity are mere concepts, the opposites of being place and time- bound. Reality is not a concept, nor the manifestation of a concept. It has nothing to do with concepts. Concern yourself with your mind, remove its distortions and impurities. Once you had the taste of your own self, you will find it everywhere and at all times. Therefore, it is so important that you should come to it. Once you know it, you will never lose it. But you must give yourself the opportunity through intensive, even arduous meditation.
Q: What exactly do you want me to do?
M: Give your heart and mind to brooding over the 'I am', what is it, how is it, what is its source, its life, its meaning. It is very much like digging a well. You reject all that is not water, till you reach the life-giving spring.
Q: How shall I know that I am moving in the right direction?
M: By your progress in intentness, in clarity and devotion to the task.
Q: We, Europeans, find it very difficult to keep quiet. The world is too much with us.
M: Oh, no, you are dreamers too. We differ only in the contents of our dreams. You are after perfection -- in the future. We are intent on finding it -- in the now. The limited only is perfectible. The unlimited is already perfect. You are perfect, only you don't know it. Learn to know yourself and you will discover wonders. All you need is already within you, only you must approach yourself with reverence and love. Self- condemnation and self-distrust are grievous errors. Your constant flight from pain and search for pleasure is a sign of love you bear for yourself, all I plead with you is this: make love of yourself perfect. Deny yourself nothing -- glue yourself infinity and eternity and discover that you do not need them; you are beyond.
82. Absolute Perfection is Here and Now
Questioner: The war is on. What is your attitude to it?
Maharaj: In some place or other, in some form or other, the war is always on. Was there a time when there was no war? Some say it is the will of God. Some say it is God's play. It is another way of saying that wars are inevitable and nobody is responsible.
Q: But what is your own attitude?
M: Why impose attitudes on me? I have no attitude to call my own.
Q: Surely somebody is responsible for this horrible and senseless carnage. Why do people kill each other so readily?
M: Search for the culprit within. The ideas of 'me' and 'mine' are at the root of all conflict. Be free of them and you will be out of conflict.
Q: What of it that I am out of conflict? It will not affect the war. If I am the cause of war, I am ready to be destroyed. Yet, it stands to reason that the disappearance of a thousand like me will not stop wars. They did not start with my birth nor will end with my death. I am not responsible. Who is?
M: Strife and struggle are a part of existence. Why don't you enquire who is responsible for existence?
Q: Why do you say that existence and conflict are inseparable? Can there be no existence without strife? I need not fight others to be myself.
M: You fight others all the time for your survival as a separate body-mind, a particular name and form. To live you must destroy. From the moment you were conceived you started a war with your environment -- a merciless war of mutual extermination, until death sets you free.
Q: My question remains unanswered. You are merely describing what I know -- life and its sorrows. But who is responsible, you do not say. When I press you, you throw the blame on God, or karma, or on my own greed and fear -- which merely invites further questions. Give me the final answer.
M: The final answer is this: nothing is. All is a momentary appearance in the field of the universal consciousness; continuity as name and form is a mental formation only, easy to dispel.
Q: I am asking about the immediate, the transitory, the appearance. Here is a picture of a child killed by soldiers. It is a fact -- staring at you. You cannot deny it. Now, who is responsible for the death of the child?
M: Nobody and everybody. The world is what it contains and each thing affects all others. We all kill the child and we all die with it. Every event has innumerable causes and produces numberless effects. It is useless to keep accounts, nothing is traceable.
Q: Your people speak of karma and retribution.
M: It is merely a gross approximation: in reality we are all creators and creatures of each other, causing and bearing each other's burden.
Q: So, the innocent suffers for the guilty?
M: In our ignorance we are innocent; in our actions we are guilty. We sin without knowing and suffer without understanding. Our only hope: to stop, to look, to understand and to get out of the traps of memory. For memory feeds imagination and imagination generates desire and fear.
Q: Why do I imagine at all?
M: The light of consciousness passes through the film of memory and throws pictures on your brain. Because of the deficient and disordered state of your brain, what you perceive is distorted and coloured by feelings of like and dislike. Make your thinking orderly and free from emotional overtones, and you will see people and things as they are, with clarity and charity. The witness of birth, life and death is one and the same. It is the witness of pain and of love. For while the existence in limitation and separation is sorrowful, we love it. We love it and hate it at the same time. We fight, we kill, we destroy life and property and yet we are affectionate and self- sacrificing. We nurse the child tenderly and orphan it too. Our life is full of contradictions. Yet we cling to it. This clinging is at the root of everything. Still, it is entirely superficial. We hold on to something or somebody, with all our might and next moment we forget it; like a child that shapes its mud-pies and abandons them light-heartedly. Touch them -- it will scream with anger, divert the child and he forgets them. For our life is now, and the love of it is now. We love variety, the play of pain and pleasure, we are fascinated by contrasts. For this we need the opposites and their apparent separation. We enjoy them for a time and then get tired and crave for the peace and silence of pure being. The cosmic heart beats ceaselessly. I am the witness and the heart too.
Q: I can see the picture, but who is the painter? Who is responsible for this terrible and yet adorable experience?
M: The painter is in the picture. You separate the painter from the picture and look for him. Don't separate and don't put false questions. Things are as they are and nobody in particular is responsible. The idea of personal responsibility comes from the illusion of agency. 'Somebody must have done it, somebody is responsible'. Society as it is now, with its framework of laws and customs, is based on the idea of a separate and responsible personality, but this is not the only form a society can take. There may be other forms, where the sense of separation is weak and responsibility diffused.
Q: An individual with a weak sense of personality -- is he nearer self-realisation?
M: Take the case of a young child. The sense of 'I-am' is not yet formed, the personality is rudimentary. The obstacles to self-knowledge are few, but the power and the clarity of awareness, its width and depth are lacking. In the course of years awareness will grow stronger, but also the latent personality will emerge and obscure and complicate. Just as the harder the wood, the hotter the flame, so the stronger the personality, brighter the light generated from its destruction.
Q: Have you no problems?
M: I do have problems. I told you already. To be, to exist with a name and form is painful, yet I love it.
Q: But you love everything!
M: In existence everything is contained. My very nature is to love; even the painful is lovable.
Q: It does not make it less painful. Why not remain in the unlimited?
M: It is the instinct of exploration, the love of the unknown, that brings me into existence. It is in the nature of being to see adventure in becoming, as it is in the very nature of becoming to seek peace in being. This alteration of being and becoming is inevitable; but my home is beyond.
Q: Is your home in God?
M: To love and worship a god is also ignorance. My home is beyond all notions, however sublime.
Q: But God is not a notion! It is the reality beyond existence.
M: You may use any word you like. Whatever you may think of, I am beyond it.
Q: Once you know your home, why not stay in it? What takes you out of it?
M: Out of love for corporate existence one is born and once born, one gets involved in destiny. Destiny is inseparable from becoming. The desire to be the particular makes you into a person with all its personal past and future. Look at some great man, what a wonderful man he was! And yet how troubled was his life and limited its fruits. How utterly dependent is the personality of man and how indifferent is its world. And yet we love it and protect it for its very insignificance.
Q: The war is on and there is chaos and you are being asked to take charge of a feeding centre. You are given what is needed, it is only a question of getting through the job. Will you refuse it?
M: To work, or not to work, is one and the same to me. I may take charge, or may not. There may be others, better endowed for such tasks, than I am -- professional caterers for instance. But my attitude is different. I do not look at death as a calamity as I do not rejoice at the birth of a child. The child is out for trouble while the dead is out of it. Attachment to life is attachment to sorrow. We love what gives us pain. Such is our nature. For me the moment of death will be a moment of jubilation, not of fear. I cried when I was born and I shall die laughing.
Q: What is the change in consciousness at the moment of death?
M: What change do you expect? When the film projection ends all remains the same as when it started. The state before you were born was also the state after death, if you remember.
Q: I remember nothing.
M: Because you never tried. It is only a question of tuning in the mind. It requires training, of course.
Q: Why don't you take part in social work?
M: But I am doing nothing else all the time! And what is the social work you want me to do? Patchwork is not for me. My stand is clear: produce to distribute, feed before you eat, give before you take, think of others, before you think of yourself. Only a selfless society based on sharing can be stable and happy. This is the only practical solution. If you do not want it -- fight.
Q: It is all a matter of gunas. Where tamas and rajas predominate, there must be war. Where sattva rules, there will be peace.
M: Put it whichever way you like, it comes to the same. Society is built on motives. Put goodwill into the foundations and you will not need specialised social workers.
Q: The world is getting better.
M: The world had all the time to get better, yet it did not. What hope is there for the future? Of course, there have been and will be periods of harmony and peace, when sattva was in ascendance, but things get destroyed by their own perfection. A perfect society is necessarily static and, therefore, it stagnates and decays. From the summit all roads lead downwards. Societies are like people -- they are born, they grow to some point of relative perfection and then decay and die.
Q: Is there not a state of absolute perfection which does not decay?
M: Whatever has a beginning must have an end. In the timeless all is perfect, here and now.
Q: But shall we reach the timeless in due course?
M: In due course we shall come back to the starting point. Time cannot take us out of time, as space cannot take us out of space. All you get by waiting is more waiting. Absolute perfection is here and now, not in some future, near or far. The secret is in action -- here and now. It is your behaviour that blinds you to yourself. Disregard whatever you think yourself to be and act as if you were absolutely perfect -- whatever your idea of perfection may be. All you need is courage.
Q: Where do I find such courage?
M: In yourself, of course. Look within.
Q: Your grace will help
M: My grace is telling you now: look within. All you need you have. Use it. Behave as best you know, do what you think you should. Don't be afraid of mistakes; you can always correct them, only intentions matter. The shape things take is not within your power; the motives of your actions are.
Q: How can action born from imperfection lead to perfection?
M: Action does not lead to perfection; perfection is expressed in action. As long as you judge yourself by your expressions give them utmost attention; when you realise your own being your behaviour will be perfect -- spontaneously.
Q: If I am timelessly perfect, then why was I born at all? What is the purpose of this life?
M: It is like asking: what does it profit gold to be made into an ornament? The ornament gets the colour and the beauty of gold; gold is not enriched. Similarly, reality expressed in action makes the action meaningful and beautiful.
Q: What does the real gain through its expressions?
M: What can it gain? Nothing whatsoever. But it is in the nature of love to express itself, to affirm itself, to overcome difficulties. Once you have understood that the world is love in action, you will look at it quite differently. But first your attitude to suffering must change. Suffering is primarily a call for attention, which itself is a movement of love. More than happiness, love wants growth, the widening and deepening of consciousness and being. Whatever prevents becomes a cause of pain, and love does not shirk from pain. Sattva, the energy that works for righteousness and orderly development, must not be thwarted. When obstructed it turns against itself and becomes destructive. Whenever love is withheld and suffering allowed to spread, war becomes inevitable. Our indifference to our neighbour’s sorrow brings suffering to our door.
83. The True Guru
Questioner: You were saying the other day that at the root of your realisation was the trust in your Guru. He assured you that you were already the Absolute Reality and there was nothing more to be done. You trusted him and left it at that, without straining, without striving. Now, my question is: without trust in your Guru would you have realised? After all, what you are, you are, whether your mind trusts or not; would doubt obstruct the action of the Guru's words and make them inoperative?
Maharaj: You have said it -- they would have been made inoperative -- for a time.
Q: And what would happen to the energy, or power in the Guru's words?
M: It would remain latent, un-manifested. But the entire question is based on a misunderstanding. The master, the disciple, the love and trust between them, these are one fact, not so many independent facts. Each is a part of the other. Without love and trust there would have been no Guru nor disciple, and no relationship between them. It is like pressing a switch to light an electric lamp. It is because the lamp, the wiring, the switch, the transformer, the transmission lines and the power house form a single whole, that you get the light. Any one factor missing and there would be no light. You must not separate the inseparable. Words do not create facts; they either describe them or distort. The fact is always non-verbal.
Q: I still do not understand; can the Guru's word remain unfulfilled or will it invariably prove true?
M: Words of a realised man never miss their purpose. They wait for the right conditions to arise which may take some time, and. this is natural, for there is a season for sowing and a season for harvesting. But the word of a Guru is a seed that cannot perish. Of course, the Guru must be a real one, who is beyond the body and the mind, beyond consciousness itself, beyond space and time, beyond duality and unity, beyond understanding and description. The good people who have read a lot and have a lot to say, may teach you many useful things, but they are not the real Gurus whose words invariably come true. They also may tell you that you are the ultimate reality itself, but what of it?
Q: Nevertheless, if for some reason I happen to trust them and obey, shall I be the loser?
M: If you are able to trust and obey, you will soon find your real Guru, or rather, he will find you.
Q: Does every knower of the Self become a Guru, or can one be a knower of Reality without being able to take others to it?
M: If you know what you teach, you can teach what you know, Here seership and teachership are one. But the Absolute Reality is beyond both. The self-styled Gurus talk of ripeness and effort, of merits and achievements, of destiny and grace; all these are mere mental formations, projections of an addicted mind. Instead of helping, they obstruct.
Q: How can I make out whom to follow and whom to mistrust?
M: Mistrust all, until you are convinced. The true Guru will never humiliate you, nor will he estrange you from yourself. He will constantly bring you back to the fact of your inherent perfection and encourage you to seek within. He knows you need nothing, not even him, and is never tired of reminding you. But the self-appointed Guru is more concerned with himself than with his disciples.
Q: You said that reality is beyond the knowledge and the teaching of the real. Is not the knowledge of reality the supreme itself and teaching the proof of its attainment?
M: The knowledge of the real, or the self, is a state of mind. Teaching another is a movement in duality. They concern the mind only; sattva is a Guna all the same.
Q: What is real then?
M: He who knows the mind as non-realised and realised, who knows ignorance and knowledge as states of mind, he is the real. When you are given diamonds mixed with gravel, you may either miss the diamonds or find them. It is the seeing that matters. Where is the greyness of the gravel and the beauty of the diamond, without the power to see? The known is but a shape and knowledge is but a name. The knower is but a state of mind. The real is beyond.
Q: Surely, objective knowledge and ideas of things and self-knowledge are not one and the same thing. One needs a brain, the other does not.
M: For the purpose of discussion you can arrange words and give them meaning, but the fact remains that all knowledge is a form of ignorance. The most accurate map is yet only paper. All knowledge is in memory; it is only recognition, while reality is beyond the duality of the knower and the known.
Q: Then by what is reality known?
M: How misleading is your language! You assume, unconsciously, that reality also is approachable through knowledge. And then you will bring in a knower of reality beyond reality! Do understand that to be, reality need not be known. Ignorance and knowledge are in the mind, not in the real.
Q: If there is no such thing as the knowledge of the real, then how do I reach it?
M: You need not reach out for what is already with you. Your very reaching out makes you miss it. Give up the idea that you have not found it and just let it come into the focus of direct perception, here and now, by removing all that is of the mind.
Q: When all that can go, goes, what remains?
M: Emptiness remains, awareness remains, pure light of the conscious being remains. It is like asking what remains of a room when all the furniture is removed? A most serviceable room remains. And when even the walls are pulled down, space remains. Beyond space and time is the here and the now of reality.
Q: Does the witness remain?
M: As long as there is consciousness, its witness is also there. The two appear and disappear together.
Q: If the witness too is transient, why is he given so much importance?
M: Just to break the spell of the known, the illusion that only the perceivable is real.
Q: Perception is primary, the witness -- secondary.
M: This is the heart of the matter. As long as you believe that only the outer world is real, you remain its slave. To become free, your attention must be drawn to the 'I am', the witness. Of course, the knower and the known are one not two, but to break the spell of the known the knower must be brought to the forefront. Neither is primary, both are reflections in memory of the ineffable experience, ever new and ever now, untranslatable, quicker than the mind.
Q: Sir, I am a humble seeker, wandering from Guru to Guru in search of release. My mind is sick, burning with desire, frozen with fear. My days flit by, red with pain, grey with boredom. My age is advancing, my health is decaying, my future is dark and frightening. At this rate I shall live in sorrow and die in despair. Is there any hope for me? Or have I come too late?
M: Nothing is wrong with you, but the ideas you have of yourself are altogether wrong. It is not you who desires, fears and suffers, it is the person built on the foundation of your body by circumstances and influences. You are not that person. This must be clearly established in your mind and never lost sight of. Normally, it needs a prolonged sadhana, years of austerities and meditation.
Q: My mind is weak and vacillating. I have neither the strength nor the tenacity for sadhana. My case, is hopeless.
M: In a way yours is a most hopeful case. There is an alternative to sadhana, which is trust. If you cannot have the conviction born from fruitful search, then take advantage of my discovery, which I am so eager to share with you. I can see with the utmost clarity that you have never been, nor are, nor will be estranged from realty, that you are the fullness of perfection here and now and that nothing can deprive you of your heritage, of what you are. You are in no way different from me, only you do not know it. You do not know what you are and therefore you imagine yourself to be what you are not. Hence desires and fear and overwhelming despair. And meaningless activity in order to escape.
Just trust me and live by trusting me. I shall not mislead you. You are the Supreme Reality beyond the world and its creator, beyond consciousness and its witness, beyond all assertions and denials. Remember it, think of it, act on it. Abandon all sense of separation, see yourself in all and act accordingly. With action bliss will come and, with bliss, conviction. After all, you doubt yourself because you are in sorrow. Happiness, natural, spontaneous and lasting cannot be imagined. Either it is there, or it is not. Once you begin to experience the peace, love and happiness which need no outer causes, all your doubts will dissolve. Just catch hold of what I told you and live by it.
Q: You are telling me to live by memory?
M: You are living by memory anyhow. I am merely asking you to replace the old memories by the memory of what I told you. As you were acting on your old memories, act on the new one. Don't be afraid. For some time there is bound to be a conflict between the old and the new, but if you put yourself resolutely on the side of the new, the strife will soon come to an end and you will realise the effortless state of being oneself, of not being deceived by desires and fears born of illusion.
Q: Many Gurus have the habit of giving tokens of their grace -- their head cloth, or their sticks, or begging bowl, or robe, thus transmitting or confirming the self-realisation of their disciples. I can see no value in such practices. It is not self-realisation that is transmitted, but self-importance. Of what earthly use is being told something very flattering, but not true? On one hand you are warning me against the many self-styled Gurus, on the other you want me to trust you. Why do you claim to be an exception?
M: I do not ask you to trust me. Trust my words and remember them, I want your happiness, not mine. Distrust those who put a distance between you and your true being and offer themselves as a go-between. I do nothing of the kind. I do not even make any promises. I merely say: if you trust my words and put them to test, you will for yourself discover how absolutely true they are. If you ask for a proof before you venture, I can only say: I am the proof. I did trust my teacher's words and kept them in my mind and I did find that he was right, that I was, am and shall be the Infinite Reality, embracing all, transcending all. As you say, you have neither the time nor the energy for lengthy practices. I offer you an alternative. Accept my words on trust and live anew, or live and die in sorrow.
Q: It seems too good to be true.
M: Don't be misled by the simplicity of the advice. '\very few are those who have the courage to trust the innocent and the simple. To know that you are a prisoner of your mind, that you live in an imaginary world of your own creation is the dawn of wisdom. To want nothing of it, to be ready to abandon it entirely, is earnestness. Only such earnestness, born of true despair, will make you trust me.
Q: Have l not suffered enough?
M: Suffering has made you dull, unable to see its enormity. Your first task is to see the sorrow in you and around you; next is to long intensely for liberation. The very intensity of longing will guide you; you need no other guide.
Q: Suffering has made me dull, indifferent even to itself.
M: Maybe it is not sorrow but pleasure that made you dull. Investigate.
Q: Whatever may be the cause; I am dull. I have neither the will nor the energy.
M: Oh, no. You have enough for the first step. And each step will generate enough energy for the next. Energy comes with confidence and confidence comes with experience.
Q: Is it right to change Gurus?
M: Why not change? Gurus are like milestones? It is natural to move on from one to another. Each tells you the direction and the distance, while the sadguru, the eternal Guru, is the road itself. Once you realise that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.
Q: So, there is no need to worship, to pray, to practice Yoga?
M: A little of daily sweeping, washing and bathing can do no harm. Self-awareness tells you at every step what needs be done. When all is done, the mind remains quiet. Now you are in the waking state, a person with name and shape, joys and sorrows. The person was not there before you were born, nor will be there after you die. Instead of struggling with the person to make it become what it is not, why not go beyond the waking state and leave the personal life altogether? It does not mean the extinction of the person; it means only seeing it in right perspective.
Q: One more question. You said that before I was born I was one with the pure being of reality; if so, who decided that I should be born?
M: In reality you were never born and never shall die. But now you imagine that you are, or have a body and you ask what has brought about this state. Within the limits of illusion the answer is: desire born from memory attracts you to a body and makes you think as one with it. But this is true only from the relative point of view. In fact, there is no body, nor a world to contain it; there is only a mental condition, a dream-like state, easy to dispel by questioning its reality.
Q: After you die, will you come again? If I live long enough, will I meet you again.
M: To you the body is real, to me there is none. I, as you see me, exist in your imagination only. Surely, you will see me again, if and when you need me. It does not affect me, as the Sun is not affected by sunrises and sunsets. Because it is not affected, it is certain to be there when needed. You are bent on knowledge, I am not. I do not have that sense of insecurity that makes you crave to know. I am curious, like a child is curious. But there is no anxiety to make me seek refuge in knowledge. Therefore, I am not concerned whether I shall be reborn, or how long will the world last. These are questions born of fear.
84. Your Goal is Your Guru
Questioner: You were telling us that there are many self-styled Gurus, but a real Guru is very rare. There are many jnani who imagine themselves realised, but all they have is book knowledge and a high opinion of themselves. Sometimes they impress, even fascinate, attract disciples and make them waste their time in useless practices. After some years, when the disciple takes stock of himself, he finds no change. When he complains to his teacher, he gets the usual rebuke that he did not try hard enough. The blame is on the lack of faith and love in the heart of the disciple, while in reality the blame is on the Guru, who had no business in accepting disciples and raising their hopes. How to protect oneself from such Gurus?
Maharaj: Why be so concerned with others? Whoever may be the Guru, if he is pure of heart and acts in good faith, he will do his disciples no harm. If there is no progress, the fault lies with the disciples, their laziness and lack of self-control. On the other hand, if the disciple is earnest and applies himself intelligently and with zest to his sadhana, he is bound to meet a more qualified teacher, who will take him further. Your question flows from three false assumptions: that one needs concern oneself with others; that one can evaluate another and that the progress of the disciple is the task and responsibility of his Guru. In reality, the Guru's role is only to instruct and encourage; the disciple is totally responsible for himself.
Q: We are told that total surrender to the Guru is enough, that the Guru will do the rest.
M: Of course, when there is total surrender, complete relinquishment of all concern with one's past, presents and future, with one's physical and spiritual security and standing, a new life dawns, full of love and beauty; then the Guru is not important, for the disciple has broken the shell of self-defence. Complete self-surrender by itself is liberation.
Q: When both the disciple and his teacher are inadequate, what will happen?
M: In the long run all will be well. After all, the real Self of both is not affected by the comedy they play for a time. They will sober up and ripen and shift to a higher level of relationship.
Q: Or, they may separate.
M: Yes, they may separate. After all, no relationship is forever. Duality is a temporary state.
Q: Is it by accident that I met you and by another accident shall we separate never to meet again? Or is my meeting you a part of some cosmic pattern, a fragment in the great drama of our lives?
M: The real is meaningful and the meaningful relates to reality. If our relationship is meaningful to you and me, it cannot be accidental. The future affects the present as much, as the past.
Q: How can I make out who is a real saint and who is not?
M: You cannot, unless you have a clear insight into the heart of man. Appearances are deceptive. To see clearly, your mind must be pure and unattached. Unless you know yourself well, how can you know another? And when you know yourself -- you are the other. Leave others alone for some time and examine yourself. There are so many things you do not know about yourself -- what are you, who are you, how did you come to be born, what are you doing now and why, where are you going, what is the meaning and purpose of your life, your death, your future? Have you a past, have you a future? How did you come to live in turmoil and sorrow, while your entire being strives for happiness and peace? These are weighty matters and have to be attended to first. You have no need, nor time for finding who is a jnani and who is not?
Q: I must select my guru rightly.
M: Be the right man and the right Guru will surely find you.
Q: You are not answering my question: how to find the right Guru?
M: But I did answer your question. Do not look for a Guru, do not even think of one. Make your goal your Guru. After all, the Guru is but a means to an end, not the end in itself. He is not important; it is what you expect of him that matters to you. Now, what do you expect?
Q: By his grace I shall be made happy, powerful and peaceful.
M: What ambitions! How can a person limited in time and space, a mere body-mind, a gasp of pain between birth and death, be happy? The very conditions of its arising make happiness impossible. Peace, power, happiness, these are never personal states; nobody can say ‘my peace’, ‘my power’ -- because ‘mine’ implies exclusivity, which is fragile and insecure.
Q: I know only my conditioned existence; there is nothing else.
M: Surely, you cannot say so. In deep sleep you are not conditioned. How ready and willing you are to go to sleep, how peaceful, free and happy you are when asleep!
Q: I know nothing of it.
M: Put it negatively. When you sleep, you are not in pain, nor bound, nor restless.
Q: I see your point. While awake, I know that I am, but am not happy; in sleep I am, I am happy, but I don’t know it. All I need is to know that I am free and happy.
M: Quite so. Now, go within, into a state which you may compare to a state of waking sleep, in which you are aware of yourself, but not of the world. In that state you will know, without the least trace of doubt, that at the root of your being you are free and happy. The only trouble is that you are addicted to experience and you cherish your memories. In reality it is the other way round; what is remembered is never real; the real is now.
Q: All this I grasp verbally, but it does not become a part of myself. It remains as a picture in my mind to be looked at. Is it not the task of the Guru to give life to the picture?
M: Again, it is the other way round. The picture is alive; dead is the mind. As the mind is made of words and images, so is every reflection in the mind. It covers up reality with verbalisation and then complains. You say a Guru is needed, to do miracles with you. You are playing with words only. The Guru and the disciple are one single thing, like the candle and its flame. Unless the disciple is earnest, he cannot be called a disciple. Unless a Guru is all love and self-giving, he cannot be called a Guru. Only reality begets reality, not the false.
Q: I can see that I am false. Who will make me true?
M: The very words you said will do it. The sentence: ‘I can see that I am false’ contains all you need for liberation. Ponder over it, go into it deeply, go to the root of it; it will operate. The power is in the word, not in the person.
Q: I do not grasp you fully. On one hand you say a Guru is needed; on the other -- the Guru can only give advice, but the effort is mine. Please state clearly -- can one realise the Self without a Guru, or is the finding of a true Guru essential?
M: More essential is the finding of a true disciple. Believe me, a true disciple is very rare, for in no time he goes beyond the need for a Guru, by finding his own self. Don’t waste your time on trying to make out whether the advice you get flows from knowledge only, or from valid experience! Just follow it faithfully. Life will bring you another Guru, if another one is needed. Or deprive you of all outer guidance and leave you to your own lights. It is very important to understand that it is the teaching that matters, not the person or the Guru. You get a letter that makes you laugh or cry. It is not the postman who does it. The Guru only tells you the good news about your real Self and shows you the way back to it. In a way the Guru is its messenger. There will be many messengers, but the message is one: be what you are. Or, you can put it differently: Until you realise yourself, you cannot know who is your real Guru. When you realise, you find that all the Gurus you had have contributed to your awakening. Your realisation is the proof that your Guru was real. Therefore, take him as he is, do what he tells you, with earnestness and zeal and trust your heart to warn you if anything goes wrong. If doubt sets in, don’t fight it. Cling to what is doubtless and leave the doubtful alone.
Q: I have a Guru and I love him very much. But whether he is my true Guru I do not know.
M: Watch yourself. If you see yourself changing, growing, it means you have found the right man. He may be beautiful or ugly, pleasant or unpleasant, flattering you or scolding; nothing matters except the one crucial fact of inward growth. If you don’t, well, he may be your friend, but not your Guru.
Q: When I meet a European with some education and talk to him about a Guru and his teachings, his reaction is: ‘the man must be mad to teach such nonsense’. What am I to tell him?
M: Take him to himself. Show him, how little he knows himself, how he takes the most absurd statements about himself for holy truth. He is told that he is the body, was born, will die, has parents, duties, learns to like what others like and fear what others fear.
Totally a creature of heredity and society, he lives by memory and acts by habits. Ignorant of himself and his true interests, he pursues false aims and is always frustrated. His life and death are meaningless and painful, and there seems to be no way out. Then tell him, there is a way out within his easy reach, not a conversion to another set of ideas, but liberation from all ideas and patterns of living. Don’t tell him about Gurus and disciples -- this way of thinking is not for him. His is an inner path, he is moved by an inner urge and guided by an inner light. Invite him to rebel and he will respond. Do not try to impress on him that so-and-so is a realised man and can be accepted as a Guru. As long as he does not trust himself, he cannot trust another. And confidence will come with experience.
Q: How strange! I cannot imagine life without a Guru.
M: It is a matter of temperament. You too are right. For you, singing the praises of God is enough. You need not desire realisation or take up a sadhana. God’s name is all the food you need. Live on it.
Q: This constant repetition of a few words, is it not a kind of madness?
M: It is madness, but it is a deliberate madness. All repetitiveness is tamas, but repeating the name of God is sattva-tamas due to its high purpose. Because of the presence of sattva, the tamas will wear out and will take the shape of complete dispassion, detachment, relinquishment, aloofness, immutability. Tamas becomes the firm foundation on which an integrated life can be lived.
Q: The immutable -- does it die?
M: It is changing that dies. The immutable neither lives nor dies; it is the timeless witness of life and death. You cannot call it dead, for it is aware. Nor can you call it alive, for it does not change. It is just like your tape-recorder. It records, it reproduces -- all by itself. You only listen. Similarly, I watch all that happens, including my talking to you. It is not me who talks, the words appear in my mind and then I hear them said.
Q: Is it not the case with everybody?
M: Who said no? But you insist that you think, you speak, while to me there is thinking, there is speaking.
Q: There are two cases to consider. Either I have found a Guru, or I have not. In each case what is the right thing to do?
M: You are never without a Guru, for he is timelessly present in your heart. Sometimes he externalises himself and comes to you as an uplifting and reforming factor in your life, a mother, a wife, a teacher; or he remains as an inner urge toward righteousness and perfection. All you have to do is obey him and do what he tells you. What he wants you to do is simple, learn self-awareness, self-control, self-surrender. It may seem arduous, but it is easy if you are earnest. And quite impossible if you are not. Earnestness is both necessary and sufficient. Everything yields to earnestness.
Q: What makes one earnest?
M: Compassion is the foundation of earnestness. Compassion for yourself and others, born of suffering, your own and others.
Q: Must I suffer to be earnest?
M: You need not, if you are sensitive and respond to the suffering of others, as Buddha did. But if you are callous and without pity, your own suffering will make you ask the inevitable questions.
Q: I find myself suffering, but not enough. Life is unpleasant, but bearable. My little pleasures compensate me for my small pains and on the whole I am better off than most of the people I know. I know that my condition is precarious, that a calamity can overtake me any moment. Must I wait for a crisis to put me on my way to truth?
M: The moment you have seen how fragile is your condition, you are already alert. Now, keep alert, give attention, enquire, investigate, discover your mistakes of mind and body and abandon them.
Q: Where is the energy to come from? I am like a paralysed man in a burning house.
M: Even paralysed people sometimes find their legs in a moment of danger! But you are not paralysed, you merely imagine so. Make the first step and you will be on your way.
Q: I feel my hold on the body is so strong that I just cannot give up the idea that I am the body. It will cling to me as long as the body lasts. There are people who maintain that no realisation is possible while alive and I feel inclined to agree with them.
M: Before you agree or disagree, why not investigate the very idea of a body? Does the mind appear in the body or the body in the mind? Surely there must be a mind to conceive the ‘I-am-the- body’ idea. A body without a mind cannot be ‘my body’. ‘My body’ is invariably absent when the mind is in abeyance. It is also absent when the mind is deeply engaged in thoughts and feelings. Once you realise that the body depends on the mind, and the mind on consciousness, and consciousness on awareness and not the other way round, your question about waiting for self- realisation till you die is answered. It is not that you must be free from ‘I-am-the-body’ idea first, and then realise the self. It is definitely the other way round -- you cling to the false, because you do not know the true. Earnestness, not perfection, is a precondition to self-realisation. Virtues and powers come with realisation, not before.
85. ‘I am’: The Foundation of all Experience
Questioner: I hear you making statements about yourself like: ‘I am timeless, immutable beyond attributes’, etc. How do you know these things? And what makes you say them?
Maharaj: I am only trying to describe the state before the ‘I am’ arose, but the state itself, being beyond the mind and language, is indescribable.
Q: The ‘I am’ is the foundation of all experience. What you are trying to describe must also be an experience, limited and transitory. You speak of yourself as immutable. I hear the sound of the word, I remember its dictionary meaning, but the experience of being immutable I do not have. How can I break through the barrier and know personally, intimately, what it means to be immutable?
M: The word itself is the bridge. Remember it, think of it, explore it, go round it, look at it from all directions, dive into it with earnest perseverance: endure all delays and disappointments till suddenly the mind turns round, away from the word, towards the reality beyond the word. It is like trying to find a person knowing his name only. A day comes when your enquiries bring you to him and the name becomes reality. Words are valuable, for between the word and its meaning there is a link and if one investigates the word assiduously, one crosses beyond the concept into the experience at the root of it. As a matter of fact, such repeated attempts to go beyond the words are called meditation. Sadhana is but a persistent attempt to cross over from the verbal to the non- verbal. The task seems hopeless until suddenly all becomes clear and simple and so wonderfully easy. But, as long as you are interested in your present way of living, you will shirk from the final leap into the unknown.
Q: Why should the unknown interest me? Of what use is the unknown?
Q: Nothing more is needed, of course. But you are talking of the knowable.
M: Of the unknowable only silence talks. The mind can talk only of what it knows. If you diligently investigate the knowable, it dissolves and only the unknowable remains. But with the first flicker of imagination and interest the unknowable is obscured and the known comes to the fore-front. The known, the changeable, is what you live with -- the unchangeable is of no use to you. It is only when you are satiated with the changeable and long for the unchangeable, that you are ready for the turning round and stepping into what can be described, when seen from the level of the mind, as emptiness and darkness. For the mind craves for content and variety, while reality is, to the mind, contentless and invariable.
Q: It looks like death to me.
M: It is. It is also all-pervading, all-conquering, intense beyond words. No ordinary brain can stand it without being shattered; hence the absolute need for sadhana. Purity of body and clarity of mind, non-violence and selflessness in life are essential for survival as an intelligent and spiritual entity.
Q: Are there entities in reality?
M: Identity is Reality, Reality is identity. Reality is not shapeless mass, a wordless chaos. It is powerful, aware, blissful; compared to it your life is like a candle to the sun.
Q: By the grace of God and your teacher’s you lost all desire and fear and reached the immovable state. My question is simple -- how do you know that your state is immovable?
M: Only the changeable can be thought of and talked about. The unchangeable can only be realised in silence. Once realised, it will deeply affect the changeable, itself remaining unaffected.
Q: How do you know that you are the witness?
M: I do not know, I am. I am, because to be everything must be witnessed.
Q: Existence can also be accepted on hearsay.
M: Still, finally you come to the need of a direct witness. Witnessing, if not personal and actual, must at least be possible and feasible. Direct experience is the final proof.
Q: Experience may be faulty and misleading.
M: Quite, but not the fact of an experience. Whatever may be the experience, true or false, the fact of an experience taking place cannot be denied. It is its own proof. Watch yourself closely and you will see that whatever be the content of consciousness, the witnessing of it does not depend on the content. Awareness is itself and does not change with the event. The event may be pleasant or unpleasant, minor or important, awareness is the same. Take note of the peculiar nature of pure awareness, its natural self-identity, without the least trace of self-consciousness, and go to the root of it and you will soon realise that awareness is your true nature and nothing you may be aware of, you can call your own.
Q: Is not consciousness and its content one and the same?
M: Consciousness is like a cloud in the sky and the water drops are the content. The cloud needs the sun to become visible, and consciousness needs being focussed in awareness.
Q: Is not awareness a form of consciousness?
M: When the content is viewed without likes and dislikes, the consciousness of it is awareness. But still there is a difference between awareness as reflected in consciousness and pure awareness beyond consciousness. Reflected awareness, the sense ‘I am aware’ is the witness, while pure awareness is the essence of reality. Reflection of the sun in a drop of water is the reflection of the sun, no doubt, but not the sun itself. Between awareness reflected in consciousness as the witness and pure awareness there is a gap, which the mind cannot cross.
Q: Does it not depend on the way you look at it? The mind says there is a difference. The heart says there is none.
M: Of course there is no difference. The real sees the real in the unreal. It is the mind that creates the unreal and it is the mind that sees the false as false.
Q: I understood that the experience of the real follows seeing the false as false.
M: There is no such thing as the experience of the real. The real is beyond experience. All experience is in the mind. You know the real by being real.
Q: If the real is beyond words and mind, why do we talk so much about it?
M: For the joy of it, of course. The real is bliss supreme. Even to talk of it is happiness.
Q: I hear you talking of the unshakable and blissful. What is in your mind when you use these words?
M: There is nothing in my mind. As you hear the words, so do I hear them. The power that makes everything happen makes them also happen.
Q: But you are speaking, not me.
M: That is how it appears to you. As I see it, two body-minds exchange symbolic noises. In reality nothing happens.
Q: Listen Sir. I am coming to you because I am in trouble. I am a poor soul lost in a world I do not understand. I am afraid of Mother Nature who wants me to grow, procreate and die. When I ask for the meaning and purpose of all this, she does not answer. I have come to you because I was told that you are kind and wise. You talk about the changeable as false and transient and this I can understand. But when you talk of the immutable, I feel lost. ‘Not this, not that, beyond knowledge, of no use’ -- why talk of it all? Does it exist, or is it a concept only, a verbal opposite to the changeable?
M: It is, it alone is. But in your present state it is of no use to you. Just like the glass of water near your bed if of no use to you, when you dream that you are dying of thirst in a desert. I am trying to wake you up, whatever your dream.
Q: Please don’t tell me that I am dreaming and that I will soon wake up. I wish it were so. But I am awake and in pain. You talk of a painless state, but you add that I cannot have it in my present condition. I feel lost.
M: Don’t feel lost. I only say that to find the immutable and blissful you must give up your hold on the mutable and painful. You are concerned with your own happiness and I am telling you that there is no such thing. Happiness is never your own, it is where the ‘I’ is not. I do not say it is beyond your reach; you have only to reach out beyond yourself, and you will find it.
Q: If I have to go beyond myself, why did I get the ‘I am’ idea in the first instance?
M: The mind needs a centre to draw a circle. The circle may grow bigger and with every increase there will be a change in the sense ‘I am’. A man who took himself in hand, a Yogi, will draw a spiral, yet the centre will remain, however vast the spiral. A day comes when the entire enterprise is seen as false and given up. The central point is no more and the universe becomes the centre.
Q: Yes, maybe. But what am I to do now?
M: Assiduously watch your ever-changing life, probe deeply into the motives beyond your actions and you will soon prick the bubble in which you are enclosed. A chic needs the shell to grow, but a day comes when the shell must be broken. If it is not, there will be suffering and death.
Q: Do you mean to say that if I do not take to Yoga, I am doomed to extinction?
M: There is the Guru who will come to your rescue. In the meantime be satisfied with watching the flow of your life; if your watchfulness is deep and steady, ever turned towards the source, it will gradually move upstream till suddenly it becomes the source. Put your awareness to work, not your mind. The mind is not the right instrument for this task. The timeless can be reached only by the timeless. Your body and your mind are both subject to time; Only awareness is timeless, even in the now. In awareness you are facing facts and reality is fond of facts.
Q: You rely entirely on my awareness to take me over and not on the Guru and God.
M: God gives the body and the mind and the Guru shows the way to use them. But returning to the source is your own task.
Q: God has created me, he will look after me.
M: There are innumerable gods, each in his own universe. They create and re-create eternally. Are you going to wait for them to save you? What you need for salvation is already within your reach. Use it. Investigate what you know to its very end and you will reach the unknown layers of your being. Go further and the unexpected will explode in you and shatter all.
Q: Does it mean death?
M: It means life -- at last.