I Am That
92. Go Beyond the l-am-the-body Idea
Questioner: We are like animals, running about in vain pursuits and there seems to be no end to it. Is there a way out?
Maharaj: Many ways will be offered to you which will but take you round and bring you back to your starting point. First realise that your problem exists in your waking state only, that however painful it is, you are able to forget it altogether when you go to sleep. When you are awake you are conscious; when you are asleep, you are only alive. Consciousness and life -- both you may call God; but you are beyond both, beyond God, beyond being and not-being. What prevents you from knowing yourself as all and beyond all, is the mind based on memory. It has power over you as long as you trust it; don't struggle with it; just disregard it. Deprived of attention, it will slow down and reveal the mechanism of its working. Once you know its nature and purpose, you will not allow it to create imaginary problems.
Q: Surely, not all problems are imaginary. There are real problems.
M: What problems can there be which the mind did not create? Life and death do not create problems; pains and pleasures come and go, experienced and forgotten. It is memory and anticipation that create problems of attainment or avoidance, coloured by like and dislike. Truth and love are man's real nature and mind and heart are the means of its expression.
Q: How to bring the mind under control? And the heart, which does not know what it wants?
M: They cannot work in darkness. They need the light of pure awareness to function rightly. All effort at control will merely subject them to the dictates of memory. Memory is a good servant, but a bad master. It effectively prevents discovery. There is no place for effort in reality. It is selfishness, due to a self-identification with the body, that is the main problem and the cause of all other problems. And selfishness cannot be removed by effort, only by clear insight into its causes and effects. Effort is a sign of conflict between incompatible desires. They should be seen as they are -- then only they dissolve.
Q: And what remains?
M: That which cannot change, remains. The great peace, the deep silence, the hidden beauty of reality remain. While it cannot be conveyed through words, it is waiting for you to experience for yourself.
Q: Must not one be fit and eligible for realisation? Our nature is animal to the core. Unless it is conquered, how can we hope for reality to dawn?
M: Leave the animal alone. Let it be. Just remember what you are. Use every incident of the day to remind you that without you as the witness there would be neither animal nor God. Understand that you are both, the essence and the substance of all there is and remain firm in your understanding.
Q: Is understanding enough? Don't I need more tangible proofs?
M: It is your understanding that will decide about the validity of proofs. But what more tangible proof do you need than your own existence? Wherever you go you find yourself. However far you reach out in time, you are there.
Q: Obviously, I am not all-pervading and eternal. I am only here and now.
M: Good enough. The 'here' is everywhere and the now -- always. Go beyond the 'I-am-the-body' idea and you will find that space and time are in you and not you in space and time. Once you have understood this, the main obstacle to realisation is removed.
Q: What is the realisation which is beyond understanding?
M: Imagine a dense forest full of tigers and you in a strong steel cage. Knowing that you are well protected by the cage, you watch the tigers fearlessly. Next you find the tigers in the cage and yourself roaming about in the jungle. Last -- the cage disappears and you ride the tigers!
Q: I attended one of the group meditation sessions, held recently in Bombay, and witnessed the frenzy and self-abandon of the participants. Why do people go for such things?
M: These are all inventions of a restless mind pampering to people in search of sensations. Some of them help the unconscious to disgorge suppressed memories and longings and to that extent they provide relief. But ultimately they leave the practitioner where he was -- or worse.
Q: I have read recently a book by a Yogi on his experiences in meditation. It is full of visions and sounds, colours and melodies; quite a display and a most gorgeous entertainment! In the end they all faded out and only the feeling of utter fearlessness remained. No wonder -- a man who passed through all these experiences unscathed need not be afraid of anything! Yet I was wondering of what use is such book to me?
M: Of no use, probably, since it does not attract you. Others may be impressed. People differ. But all are faced with the fact of their own existence. 'I am' is the ultimate fact; 'Who am l?' is the ultimate question to which everybody must find an answer.
Q: The same answer?
M: The same in essence, varied in expression. Each seeker accepts, or invents, a method which suits him, applies it to himself with some earnestness and effort, obtains results according to his temperament and expectations, casts them into the mound of words, builds them into a system, establishes a tradition and begins to admit others into his 'school of Yoga'. It is all built on memory and imagination. No such school is valueless, nor indispensable; in each one can progress up to the point, when all desire for progress must be abandoned to make further progress possible. Then all schools are given up, all effort ceases; in solitude and darkness the vast step is made which ends ignorance and fear forever.
The true teacher, however, will not imprison his disciple in a prescribed set of ideas, feelings and actions; on the contrary, he will show him patiently the need to be free from all ideas and set patterns of behaviour, to be vigilant and earnest and go with life wherever it takes him, not to enjoy or suffer, but to understand and learn. Under the right teacher the disciple learns to learn, not to remember and obey. Satsang, the company of the noble, does not mould, it liberates. Beware of all that makes you dependent. Most of the so-called 'surrenders to the Guru' end in disappointment, if not in tragedy. Fortunately, an earnest seeker will disentangle himself in time, the wiser for the experience.
Q: Surely, self-surrender has its value.
M: Self-surrender is the surrender of all self-concern. It cannot be done, it happens when you realise your true nature. Verbal self-surrender, even when accompanied by feeling, is of little value and breaks down under stress. At the best it shows an aspiration, not an actual fact.
Q: In the Rigveda there is the mention of the adhi yoga, the Primordial Yoga, consisting of the marriage of pragna with Prana, which, as I understand, means the bringing together of wisdom and life. Would you say it means also the union of Dharma and Karma, righteousness and action?
M: Yes, provided by righteousness you mean harmony with one's true nature and by action -- only unselfish and desireless action. In Adhi yoga life itself is the Guru and the mind -- the disciple. The mind attends to life, it does not dictate. Life flows naturally and effortlessly and the mind removes the obstacles to its even flow.
Q: Is not life by its very nature repetitive? Will not following life lead to stagnation?
M: By itself life is immensely creative. A seed, in course of time, becomes a forest. The mind is like a forester -- protecting and regulating the immense vital urge of existence.
Q: Seen as the service of life by the mind, the Adhi yoga is a perfect democracy. Everyone is engaged in living a life to his best capacity and knowledge, everyone is a disciple of the same Guru.
M: You may say so. It may be so -- potentially. But unless life is loved and trusted, followed with eagerness and zest, it would be fanciful to talk of Yoga, which is a movement in consciousness, awareness in action.
Q: Once I watched a mountain-stream flowing between the boulders. At each boulder the commotion was different, according to the shape and size of the boulder. Is not every person a mere commotion over a body, while life is one and eternal?
M: The commotion and the water are not separate. It is the disturbance that makes you aware of water. Consciousness is always of movement, of change. There can be no such thing as changeless consciousness. Changelessness wipes out consciousness immediately. A man deprived of outer or inner sensations blanks out, or goes beyond consciousness and unconsciousness into the birthless and deathless state. Only when spirit and matter come together consciousness is born.
Q: Are they one or two?
M: It depends on the words you use: they are one, or two, or three. On investigation three become two and two become one. Take the simile of face -- mirror -- image. Any two of them presuppose the third which unites the two. In sadhana you see the three as two, until you realise the two as one. A long as you are engrossed in the world, you are unable to know yourself: to know yourself, turn away your attention from the world and turn it within.
Q: I cannot destroy the world.
M: There is no need. Just understand that what you see is not what is. Appearances will dissolve on investigation and the underlying reality will come to the surface. You need not burn the house to get out of it. You just walk out. It is only when you cannot come and go freely that the house becomes a jail. I move in and out of consciousness easily and naturally and therefore to me the world is a home, not a prison.
Q: But ultimately is there a world, or is there none?
M: What you see is nothing but yourself. Call it what you like, it does not change the fact. Through the film of destiny your own light depicts pictures on the screen. You are the viewer, the light, the picture and the screen. Even the film of destiny (prarabdha) is self-selected and self-imposed. The spirit is a sport and enjoys to overcome obstacles. The harder the task the deeper and wider his self- realisation.
93. Man is not the Doer
Questioner: From the beginning of my life I am pursued by a sense of incompleteness. From school to college, to work, to marriage, to affluence, I imagined that the next thing will surely give me peace, but there was no peace. This sense of un-fulfillment keeps on growing as years pass by.
Maharaj: As long as there is the body and the sense of identity with the body, frustration is inevitable. Only when you know yourself as entirely alien to and different from the body, will you find respite from the mixture of fear and craving inseparable from the 'I-am-the-body' idea. Merely assuaging fears and satisfying desires will not remove this sense of emptiness you are trying to escape from; only self-knowledge can help you. By self-knowledge I mean full knowledge of what you are not. Such knowledge is attainable and final; but to the discovery of what you are there can be no end. The more you discover, the more there remains to discover.
Q: For this we must have different parents and schools, live in a different society.
M: You; cannot change your circumstances, but your attitudes you can change. You need not be attached to the non-essentials. Only the necessary is good. There is peace only in the essential.
Q: It is truth I seek, not peace.
M: You cannot see the true unless you are at peace. A quiet mind is essential for right perception, which again is required for self-realisation.
Q: I have so much to do. I just cannot afford to keep my mind quiet.
M: It is because of your illusion that you are the doer. In reality things are done to you, not by you.
Q: If I just let things happen, how can I be sure that they will happen my way? Surely I must bend them to my desire.
M: Your desire just happens to you along with its fulfilment, or non-fulfilment. You can change neither. You may believe that you exert yourself, strive and struggle. Again, it all merely happens, including the fruits of the work. Nothing is by you and for you. All is in the picture exposed on the cinema screen, nothing in the light, including what you take yourself to be, the person. You are the light only.
Q: If I am light only, how did I come to forget it?
M: You have not forgotten. It is in the picture on the screen that you forget and then remember. You never cease to be a man because you dream to be a tiger. Similarly you are pure light appearing as a picture on the screen and also becoming one with it.
Q: Since all happens, why should I worry?
M: Exactly. Freedom is freedom from worry. Having realised that you cannot influence the results, pay no attention to your desires and fears. Let them come and go. Don't give them the nourishment of interest and attention.
Q: If I turn my attention from what happens, what am I to live by?
M: Again it is like asking: 'What shall I do, if I stop dreaming?' Stop and see. You need not be anxious: 'What next?' There is always the next. Life does not begin nor, end: immovable -- it moves, momentary -- it lasts. Light cannot be exhausted even if innumerable pictures are projected by it. So does life fill every shape to the brim and return to its source, when the shape breaks down.
Q: If life is so wonderful, how could ignorance happen?
M: You want to treat the disease without having seen the patient! Before you ask about ignorance, why don't you enquire first, who is the ignorant? When you say you are ignorant, you do not know that you have imposed the concept of ignorance over the actual state of your thoughts and feelings. Examine them as they occur, give them your full attention and you will find that there is nothing like ignorance, only inattention. Give attention to what worries you, that is all. After all, worry is mental pain and pain is invariably a call for attention. The moment you give attention, the call for it ceases and the question of ignorance dissolves. Instead of waiting for an answer to your question, find out who is asking the question and what makes him ask it. You will soon find that it is the mind, goaded by fear of pain, that asks the question. And in fear there is memory and anticipation, past and future. Attention brings you back to the present, the now and the presence in the now is a state ever at hand, but rarely noticed.
Q: You are reducing sadhana to simple attention. How is it that other teachers teach complete, difficult and time-consuming courses?
M: The Gurus usually teach the sadhanas by which they themselves have reached their goal, whatever their goal may be. This is but natural, for their own sadhana they know intimately. I was taught to give attention to my sense of 'I am’ and I found it supremely effective. Therefore, I can speak of it with full confidence. But often people come with their bodies, brain and minds so mishandled, perverted and weak, that the state of formless attention is beyond them. In such cases, some simpler token of earnestness is appropriate. The repetition of a mantra, or gazing at a picture will prepare their body and mind for a deeper and more direct search. After all, it is earnestness that is indispensable, the crucial factor. Sadhana is only a vessel and it must be filled to the brim with earnestness, which is but love in action. For nothing can be done without love.
Q: We love only ourselves.
M: Were it so, it would be splendid! Love yourself wisely and you will reach the summit of perfection. Everybody loves his body, but few love their real being.
Q: Does my real being need my love?
M: Your real being is love itself and your many loves are its reflections according to the situation at the moment.
Q: We are selfish, we know only self-love.
M: Good enough for a start. By all means wish yourself well. Think over, feel out deeply what is really good for you and strive for it earnestly. Very soon you will find that the real is your only good.
Q: Yet I do not understand why the various Gurus insist on prescribing complicated and difficult sadhanas. Don't they know better?
M: It is not what you do, but what you stop doing that matters. The people who begin their sadhana are so feverish and restless, that they have to be very busy to keep themselves on the track. An absorbing routine is good for them. After some time they quieten down and turn away from effort. In peace and silence the skin of the 'I' dissolves and the inner and the outer become one. The real sadhana is effortless.
Q: I have sometimes the feeling that space itself is my body.
M: When you are bound by the illusion: 'I am this body', you are merely a point in space and a moment in time. When the self-identification with the body is no more, all space and time are in your mind, which is a mere ripple in consciousness, which is awareness reflected in nature. Awareness and matter are the active and the passive aspects of pure being, which is in both and beyond both. Space and time are the body and the mind of the universal existence. My feeling is that all that happens in space and time happens to me, that every experience is my experience every form is my form. What I take myself to be, becomes my body and all that happens to that body becomes my mind. But at the root of the universe there is pure awareness, beyond space and time, here and now. Know it to be your real being and act accordingly.
Q: What difference will it make in action what I take myself to be. Actions just happen according to circumstances.
M: Circumstances and conditions rule the ignorant. The knower of reality is not compelled. The only law he obeys is that of love.
94. You are Beyond Space and Time
Questioner: You keep on saying that I was never born and will never die. If so, how is it that I see the world as one which has been born and will surely die?
Maharaj: You believe so because you have never questioned your belief that you are the body which, obviously, is born and dies. While alive, it attracts attention and fascinates so completely that rarely does one perceive one's real nature. It is like seeing the surface of the ocean and completely forgetting the immensity beneath. The world is but the surface of the mind and the mind is infinite. What we call thoughts are just ripples in the mind. When the mind is quiet it reflects reality. When it is motionless through and through, it dissolves and only reality remains. This reality is so concrete, so actual, so much more tangible than mind and matter, that compared to it even diamond is soft like butter. This overwhelming actuality makes the world dreamlike, misty, irrelevant.
Q: This world, with so much suffering in it, how can you see it as irrelevant. What callousness!
M: It is you who is callous, not me. If your world is so full of suffering, do something about it; don't add to it through greed or indolence. I am not bound by your dreamlike world. In my world the seeds of suffering, desire and fear are not sown and suffering does not grow. My world is free from opposites, of mutually distinctive discrepancies; harmony pervades; its peace is rocklike; this peace and silence are my body.
Q: What you say reminds me of the dharmakaya of the Buddha.
M: Maybe. We need not run off with terminology. Just see the person you imagine yourself to be as a part of the world you perceive within your mind and look at the mind from the outside, for you are not the mind. After all, your only problem is the eager self-identification with whatever you perceive. Give up this habit, remember that you are not what you perceive, use your power of alert aloofness. See yourself in all that lives and your behaviour will express your vision. Once you realise that there is nothing in this world, which you can call your own, you look at it from the outside as you look at a play on the stage, or a picture on the screen, admiring and enjoying, but really unmoved. As long as you imagine yourself to be something tangible and solid, a thing among things, actually existing in time and space, short-lived and vulnerable, naturally you will be anxious to survive and increase. But when you know yourself as beyond space and time -- in contact with them only at the point of here and now, otherwise all-pervading and all-containing, unapproachable, unassailable, invulnerable -- you will be afraid no longer. Know yourself as you are -- against fear there is no other remedy.
You have to learn to think and feel on these lines, or you will remain indefinitely on the personal level of desire and fear, gaining and losing, growing and decaying. A personal problem cannot be solved on its own level. The very desire to live is the messenger of death, as the longing to be happy is the outline of sorrow. The world is an ocean of pain and fear, of anxiety and despair. Pleasures are like the fishes, few and swift, rarely come, quickly gone. A man of low intelligence believes, against all evidence, that he is an exception and that the world owes him happiness. But the world cannot give what it does not have; unreal to the core, it is of no use for real happiness. It cannot be otherwise. We seek the real because we are unhappy with the unreal. Happiness is our real nature and we shall never rest until we find it. But rarely we know where to seek it. Once you have understood that the world is but a mistaken view of reality, and is not what it appears to be, you are free of its obsessions. Only what is compatible with your real being can make you happy and the world, as you perceive it, is its outright denial.
Keep very quiet and watch what comes to the surface of the mind. Reject the known, welcome the so far unknown and reject it in its turn. Thus you come to a state in which there is no knowledge, only being, in which being itself is knowledge. To know by being is direct knowledge. It is based on the identity of the seer and the seen. Indirect knowledge is based on sensation and memory, on proximity of the perceiver and his percept, confined with the contrast between the two. The same with happiness. Usually you have to be sad to know gladness and glad to know sadness. True happiness is uncaused and this cannot disappear for lack of stimulation. It is not the opposite of sorrow, it includes all sorrow and suffering.
Q: How can one remain happy among so much suffering?
M: One cannot help it -- the inner happiness is overwhelmingly real. Like the sun in the sky, its expressions may be clouded, but it is never absent.
Q: When we are in trouble, we are bound to be unhappy.
M: Fear is the only trouble. Know yourself as independent and you will be free from fear and its shadows.
Q: What is the difference between happiness and pleasure?
M: Pleasure depends on things, happiness does not.
Q: If happiness is independent, why are we not always happy?
M: As long as we believe that we need things to make us happy, we shall also believe that in their absence we must be miserable. Mind always shapes itself according to its beliefs. Hence the importance of convincing oneself that one need not be prodded into happiness; that, on the contrary, pleasure is a distraction and a nuisance, for it merely increases the false conviction that one needs to have and do things to be happy when in reality it is just the opposite.
But why talk of happiness at all? You do not think of happiness except when you are unhappy. A man who says: 'Now I am happy', is between two sorrows -- past and future. This happiness is mere excitement caused by relief from pain. Real happiness is utterly unselfconscious. It is best expressed negatively as: 'there is nothing wrong with me. I have nothing to worry about'. After all, the ultimate purpose of all sadhana is to reach a point, when this conviction, instead of being only verbal, is based on the actual and ever-present experience.
Q: Which experience?
M: The experience of being empty, uncluttered by memories and expectations; it is like the happiness of open spaces, of being young, of having all the time and energy for doing things, for discovery, for adventure.
Q: What remains to discover?
M: The universe without and the immensity within as they are in reality, in the great mind and heart of God. The meaning and purpose of existence, the secret of suffering, life's redemption from ignorance.
Q: If being happy is the same as being free from fear and worry, cannot it be said that absence of trouble is the cause of happiness?
M: A state of absence, of non-existence cannot be a cause; the pre-existence of a cause is implied in the notion. Your natural state, in which nothing exists, cannot be a cause of becoming; the causes are hidden in the great and mysterious power of memory. But your true home is in nothingness, in emptiness of all content.
Q: Emptiness and nothingness -- how dreadful!
M: You face it most cheerfully, when you go to sleep! Find out for yourself the state of wakeful sleep and you will find it quite in harmony with your real nature. Words can only give you the idea and the idea is not the experience. All I can say is that true happiness has no cause and what has no cause is immovable. Which does not mean it is perceivable, as pleasure. What is perceivable is pain and pleasure; the state of freedom from sorrow can be described only negatively. To know it directly you must go beyond the mind addicted to causality and the tyranny of time.
Q: If happiness is not conscious and consciousness -- not happy, what is the link between the two?
M: Consciousness being a product of conditions and circumstances, depends on them and changes along with them. What is independent, uncreated, timeless and changeless, and yet ever new and fresh, is beyond the mind. When the mind thinks of it, the mind dissolves and only happiness remains.
Q: When all goes, nothingness remains.
M: How can there be nothing without something? Nothing is only an idea, it depends on the memory of something. Pure being is quite independent of existence, which is definable and describable.
Q: Please tell us; beyond the mind does consciousness continue, or does it end with the mind?
M: Consciousness comes and goes, awareness shines immutably.
Q: Who is aware in awareness?
M: When there is a person, there is also consciousness. 'I am' mind, consciousness denote the same state. If you say 'I am aware', it only means: 'I am conscious of thinking about being aware'. There is no 'I am' in awareness.
Q: What about witnessing?
M: Witnessing is of the mind. The witness goes with the witnessed. In the state of non-duality all separation ceases.
Q: What about you? Do you continue in awareness?
M: The person, the 'I am this body, this mind, this chain of memories, this bundle of desires and fears' disappears, but something you may call identity, remains. It enables me to become a person when required. Love creates its own necessities, even of becoming a person.
Q: It is said that Reality manifests itself as existence -- consciousness -- bliss. Are they absolute or relative?
M: They are relative to each other and depend on each other. Reality is independent of its expressions.
Q: What is the relation between reality and its expressions?
M: No relation. In reality all is real and identical. As we put it, saguna and nirguna are one in Parabrahman. There is only the Supreme. In movement, it Is saguna. Motionless, it is nirguna. But it is only the mind that moves or does not move. The real is beyond, you are beyond. Once you have understood that nothing perceivable, or conceivable can be yourself, you are free of your imaginations. To see everything as imagination, born of desire, is necessary for self-realisation. We miss the real by lack of attention and create the unreal by excess of imagination.
You have to give your heart and mind to these things and brood over them repeatedly. It is like cooking food. You must keep it on the fire for some time before it is ready.
Q: Am I not under the sway of destiny, of my karma? What can I do against it? What I am and what I do is pre-determined. Even my so-called free choice is predetermined; only I am not aware of it and imagine myself to be free.
M: Again, it all depends how you look at it. Ignorance is like a fever -- it makes you see things which are not there. Karma is the divinely prescribed treatment. Welcome it and follow the instructions faithfully and you will get well. A patient will leave the hospital after he recovers. To insist on immediate freedom of choice and action will merely postpone recovery. Accept your destiny and fulfil it -- this is the shortest way to freedom from destiny, though not from love and its compulsions. To act from desire and fear is bondage, to act from love is freedom.
95. Accept Life as it Comes
Questioner: I was here last year. Now I am again before you. What makes me come, I really do not know, but somehow I cannot forget you.
Maharaj: Some forget, some do not, according to their destinies, which you may call chance, if you prefer.
Q: Between chance and destiny there is a basic difference.
M: Only in your mind. In fact, you do not know what causes what? Destiny is only a blanket word to cover up your ignorance. Chance is another word.
Q: Without knowledge of causes and their results can there be freedom?
M: Causes and results are infinite in number and variety. Everything affects everything. In this universe, when one thing changes, everything changes. Hence the great power of man in changing the world by changing himself.
Q: According to your own words, you have, by the grace of your Guru, changed radically some forty years ago. Yet the world remains as it had been before.
M: My world has changed completely. Yours remains the same, for you have not changed.
Q: How is it that your change has not affected me?
M: Because there was no communion between us. Do not consider yourself as separate from me and we shall at once share in the common state.
Q: I have some property in the United States which I intend to sell and buy some land in the Himalayas. I shall build a house, lay out a garden, get two or three cows and live quietly. People tell me that property and quiet are not compatible, that I shall at once get into trouble with officials, neighbours and thieves. Is it inevitable?
M: The least you can expect is an endless succession of visitors who will make your abode into a free and open guesthouse. Better accept your life as it shapes, go home and look after your wife with love and care. Nobody else needs you. Your dreams of glory will land you in more trouble.
Q: It is not glory that I seek. I seek Reality.
M: For this you need a well-ordered and quiet life, peace of mind and immense earnestness. At every moment whatever comes to you unasked, comes from God and will surely help you, if you make the fullest use of it. It is only what you strive for, out of your own imagination and desire, that gives you trouble.
Q: Is destiny the same as grace?
M: Absolutely. Accept life as it comes and you will find it a blessing.
Q: I can accept my own life. How can I accept the sort of life others are compelled to live?
M: You are accepting it anyhow. The sorrows of others do not interfere with your pleasures. If you were really compassionate, you would have abandoned long ago all self-concern and entered the state from which alone you can really help.
Q: If I have a big house and enough land, I may create an Ashram, with individual rooms; common meditation hall, canteen, library, office etc.
M: Ashrams are not made, they happen. You cannot start nor prevent them, as you cannot start or stop a river. Too many factors are involved in the creation of a successful Ashram and your inner maturity is only one of them. Of course, if you are ignorant of your real being, whatever you do must turn to ashes. You cannot imitate a Guru and get away with it. All hypocrisy will end in disaster.
Q: What is the harm in behaving like a saint even before being one?
M: Rehearsing saintliness is a sadhana. It is perfectly all right. provided no merit is claimed.
Q: How can I know whether I am able to start an Ashram unless I try?
M: As long as you take yourself to be a person, a body and a mind, separate from the stream of life, having a will of its own, pursuing its own aims, you are living merely on the surface and whatever you do will be short-lived and of little value, mere straw to feed the flames of vanity. You must put in true worth before you can expect something real. What is your worth?
Q: By what measure shall I measure it?
M: Look at the content of your mind. You are what you think about. Are you not most of the time busy with your own little person and its daily needs? The value of regular meditation is that it takes you away from the humdrum of daily routine and reminds you that you are not what you believe yourself to be. But even remembering is not enough -- action must follow conviction. Don't be like the rich man who has made a detailed will, but refuses to die.
Q: Is not gradualness the law of life?
M: Oh, no. The preparation alone is gradual, the change itself is sudden and complete. Gradual change does not take you to a new level of conscious being. You need courage to let go.
Q: I admit it is courage that I lack.
M: It is because you are not fully convinced. Complete conviction generates both desire and courage. And meditation is the art of achieving faith through understanding. In meditation you consider the teaching received, in all its aspects and repeatedly, until out of clarity confidence is born and, with confidence, action. Conviction and action are inseparable. If action does not follow conviction, examine your convictions, don't accuse yourself of lack of courage. Self-depreciation will take you nowhere. Without clarity and emotional assent of what use is will?
Q: What do you mean by emotional assent? Am I not to act against my desires?
M: You will not act against your desires. Clarity is not enough. Energy comes from love -- you must love to act -- whatever the shape and object of your love. Without clarity and charity courage is destructive. People at war are often wonderfully courageous, but what of it?
Q: I see quite clearly that all I want is a house in a garden where I shall live in peace. Why should I not act on my desire?
M: By all means, act. But do not forget the inevitable, unexpected. Without rain your garden will not flourish. You need courage for adventure.
Q: I need time to collect my courage, don't hustle me. Let me ripen for action.
M: The entire approach is wrong. Action delayed is action abandoned. There may be other chances for other actions, but the present moment is lost -- irretrievably lost. All preparation is for the future -- you cannot prepare for the present.
Q: What is wrong with preparing for the future?
M: Acting in the now is not much helped by your preparations. Clarity is now, action is now. Thinking of being ready impedes action. And action is the touchstone of reality.
Q: Even when we act without conviction?
M: You cannot live without action, and behind each action there is some fear or desire. Ultimately, all you do is based on your conviction that the world is real and independent of yourself. Were you convinced of the contrary, your behaviour would have been quite different.
Q: There is nothing wrong with my convictions; my actions are shaped by circumstances.
M: In other words, you are convinced of the reality of your circumstances, of the world in which you live. Trace the world to its source and you will find that before the world was, you were and when the world is no longer, you remain. Find your timeless being and your action will bear it testimony. Did you find it?
Q: No, I did not.
M: Then what else have you to do? Surely, this is the most urgent task. You cannot see yourself as independent of everything unless you drop everything and remain unsupported and undefined. Once you know yourself, it is immaterial what you do, but to realise your independence, you must test it by letting go all you were dependent on. The realised man lives on the level of the absolutes; his wisdom, love and courage are complete, there is nothing relative about him. Therefore he must prove himself by tests more stringent, undergo trials more demanding. The tester, the tested and the set up for testing are all within; it is an inner drama to which none can be a party.
Q: Crucifixion, death and resurrection -- we are on familiar grounds! I have read, heard and talked about it endlessly, but to do it I find myself incapable.
M: Keep quiet, undisturbed, and the wisdom and the power will come on their own. You need not hanker. Wait in silence of the heart and mind. It is very easy to be quiet, but willingness is rare. You people want to become supermen overnight. Stay without ambition, without the least desire, exposed, vulnerable, unprotected, uncertain and alone, completely open to and welcoming life as it happens, without the selfish conviction that all must yield you pleasure or profit, material or so- called spiritual.
Q: I respond to what you say, but I just do not see how it is done.
M: If you know how to do it, you will not do it. Abandon every attempt, just be; don't strive, don't struggle, let go every support, hold on to the blind sense of being, brushing off all else. This is enough.
Q: How is this brushing done? The more I brush off, the more it comes to the surface.
M: Refuse attention, let things come and go. Desires and thoughts are also things. Disregard them. Since immemorial time the dust of events was covering the clear mirror of your mind, so that only memories you could see. Brush off the dust before it has time to settle; this will lay bare the old layers until the true nature of your mind is discovered. It is all very simple and comparatively easy; be earnest and patient, that is all. Dispassion, detachment, freedom from desire and fear, from all self-concern, mere awareness -- free from memory and expectation -- this is the state of mind to which discovery can happen. After all, liberation is but the freedom to discover.
96. Abandon Memories and Expectations
Questioner: I am an American by birth and for the last one year I was staying in an Ashram in Madhya Pradesh, studying Yoga in its many aspects. We had a teacher, whose Guru, a disciple of the great Sivananda Saraswati, stays in Monghyr. I stayed at Ramanashram also. While in Bombay I went through an intensive course of Burmese meditation managed by one Goenka. Yet I have not found peace. There is an improvement in self-control and day-to-day discipline, but that is all. I cannot say exactly what caused what. I visited many holy places. How each acted on me, I cannot say.
Maharaj: Good results will come, sooner or later. At Sri Ramanashram did you get some instructions?
Q: Yes, some English people were teaching me and also an Indian follower of jnana yoga, residing there permanently, was giving me lessons.
M: What are your plans?
Q: I have to return to the States because of visa difficulties. I intend to complete my B.Sc., study Nature Cure and make it my profession.
M: A good profession, no doubt.
Q: Is there any danger in pursuing the path of Yoga at all cost?
M: Is a match-stick dangerous when the house is on fire? The search for reality is the most dangerous of all undertakings for it will destroy the world in which you live. But if your motive is love of truth and life, you need not be afraid.
Q: I am afraid of my own mind. It is so unsteady!
M: In the mirror of your mind images appear and disappear. The mirror remains. Learn to distinguish the immovable in the movable, the unchanging in the changing, till you realise that all differences are in appearance only and oneness is a fact. This basic identity -- you may call God, or Brahman, or the matrix (Prakriti), the words matters little -- is only the realisation that all is one. Once you can say with confidence born from direct experience: 'I am the world, the world is myself', you are free from desire and fear on one hand and become totally responsible for the world on the other. The senseless sorrow of mankind becomes your sole concern.
Q: So even a jnani has his problems!
M: Yes, but they are no longer of his own creation. His suffering is not poisoned by a sense of guilt. There is nothing wrong with suffering for the sins of others. Your Christianity is based on this.
Q: Is not all suffering self-created?
M: Yes, as long as there is a separate self to create it. In the end you know that there is no sin, no guilt, no retribution, only life in its endless transformations. With the dissolution of the personal 'I' personal suffering disappears. What remains is the great sadness of compassion, the horror of the unnecessary pain.
Q: Is there anything unnecessary in the scheme of things?
M: Nothing is necessary, nothing is inevitable. Habit and passion blind and mislead. Compassionate awareness heals and redeems. There is nothing we can do, we can only let things happen according to their nature.
Q: Do you advocate complete passivity?
M: Clarity and charity is action. Love is not lazy and clarity directs. You need not worry about action, look after your mind and heart. Stupidity and selfishness are the only evil.
Q: What is better -- repetition of God's name, or meditation?
M: Repetition will stabilise your breath. With deep and quiet breathing vitality will improve, which will influence the brain and help the mind to grow pure and stable and fit for meditation. Without vitality little can be done, hence the importance of its protection and increase. Posture and breathing are a part of Yoga, for the body must be healthy and well under control, but too much concentration on the body defeats its own purpose, for it is the mind that is primary in the beginning. When the mind has been put to rest and disturbs no longer the inner space (chidakash), the body acquires a new meaning and its transformation becomes both necessary and possible.
Q: I have been wandering all over India, meeting many Gurus and learning in driblets several Yogas. Is it all right to have a taste of everything?
M: No, this is but an introduction. You will meet a man who will help you find your own way.
Q: I feel that the Guru of my own choice cannot be my real Guru. To be real he must come unexpected and be irresistible.
M: Not to anticipate is best. The way you respond is decisive.
Q: Am I the master of my responses?
M: Discrimination and dispassion practised now will yield their fruits at the proper time. If the roots are healthy and well-watered, the fruits are sure to be sweet. Be pure, be alert, keep ready.
Q: Are austerities and penances of any use?
M: To meet all the vicissitudes of life is penance enough! You need not invent trouble. To meet cheerfully whatever life brings is all the austerity you need.
Q: What about sacrifice?
M: Share willingly and gladly all you have with whoever needs -- don't invent self-inflicted cruelties.
Q: What is self-surrender?
M: Accept what comes.
Q: I feel I am too weak to stand on my own legs. I need the holy company of a Guru and of good people. Equanimity is beyond me. To accept what comes as it comes, frightens me. I think of my returning to the States with horror.
M: Go back and make the best use of your opportunities. Get your B.Sc. degree first. You can always return to India for your Nature Cure studies.
Q: I am quite aware of the opportunities in the States. It is the loneliness that frightens me.
M: You have always the company of your own self -- you need not feel alone. Estranged from it even in India you will feel lonely. All happiness comes from pleasing the self. Please it, after return to the States, do nothing that may be unworthy of the glorious reality within your heart and you shall be happy and remain happy. But you must seek the self and, having found it, stay with it.
Q: Will compete solitude be of any benefit?
M: It depends on your temperament. You may work with others and for others, alert and friendly, and grow more fully than in solitude, which may make you dull or leave you at the mercy of your mind's endless chatter. Do not imagine that you can change through effort. Violence, even turned against yourself, as in austerities and penance, will remain fruitless.
Q: Is there no way of making out who is realised and who is not?
M: Your only proof is in yourself. If you find that you turn to gold, it will be a sign that you have touched the philosopher's stone. Stay with the person and watch what happens to you. Don't ask others. Their man may not be your Guru. A Guru may be universal in his essence, but not in his expressions. He may appear to be angry or greedy or over-anxious about his Ashram or his family, and you may be misled by appearances, while others are not.
Q: Have I not the right to expect all-round perfection, both inner and outer?
M: Inner --- yes. But outer perfection depends on circumstances, on the state of the body, personal and social, and other innumerable factors.
Q: I was told to find a jnani so that I may learn from him the art of achieving jnana and now I am told that the entire approach is false, that I cannot make out a jnani, nor can jnana be conquered by appropriate means. It is all so confusing!
M: It is all due to your complete misunderstanding of reality. Your mind is steeped in the habits of evaluation and acquisition and will not admit that the incomparable and unobtainable are waiting timelessly within your own heart for recognition. All you have to do is to abandon all memories and expectations. Just keep yourself ready in utter nakedness and nothingness.
Q: Who is to do the abandoning?
M: God will do it. Just see the need of being abandoned. Don't resist, don't hold on to the person you take yourself to be. Because you imagine yourself to be a person you take the jnani to be a person too, only somewhat different, better informed and more powerful. You may say that he is eternally conscious and happy, but it is far from expressing the whole truth. Don't trust definitions and descriptions -- they are grossly misleading.
Q: Unless I am told what to do and how to do it, I feel lost.
M: By all means do feel lost! As long as you feel competent and confident, reality is beyond your reach. Unless you accept inner adventure as a way of life, discovery will not come to you.
Q: Discovery of what?
M: Of the centre of your being, which is free of all directions, all means and ends.
Q: Be all, know all, have all?
M: Be nothing, know nothing, have nothing. This is the only life worth living, the only happiness worth having.
Q: I may admit that the goal is beyond my comprehension. Let me know the way at least.
M: You must find your own way. Unless you find it yourself it will not be your own way and will take you nowhere. Earnestly live your truth as you have found it -- act on the little you have understood. It is earnestness that will take you through, not cleverness -- your own or another's.
Q: I am afraid of mistakes. So many things I tried -- nothing came out of them.
M: You gave too little of yourself, you were merely curious, not earnest.
Q: I don't know any better.
M: At least that much you know. Knowing them to be superficial, give no value to your experiences, forget them as soon as they are over. Live a clean, selfless life that is all.
Q: Is morality so important?
M: Don't cheat, don't hurt -- is it not important? Above all you need inner peace -- which demands harmony between the inner and the outer. Do what you believe in and believe in what you do. All else is a waste of energy and time.
97. Mind and the World are not Separate
Questioner: I see here pictures of several saints and I am told that they are your spiritual ancestors. Who are they and how did it all begin?
Maharaj: We are called collectively the 'Nine Masters'. The legend says that our first teacher was Rishi Dattatreya, the great incarnation of the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Even the 'Nine Masters' (Navnath) are mythological.
Q: What is the peculiarity of their teaching?
M: Its simplicity, both in theory and practice.
Q: How does one become a Navnath? By initiation or by succession?
M: Neither. The ‘Nine Masters' tradition, Navnath Parampara, is like a river -- it flows into the ocean of reality and whoever enters it is carried along.
Q: Does it imply acceptance by a living master belonging to the same tradition?
M: Those who practise the sadhana of focussing their minds on ‘I am' may feel related to others who have followed the same sadhana and succeeded. They may decide to verbalise their sense of kinship by calling themselves Navnaths. It gives them the pleasure of belonging to an established tradition.
Q: Do they in any way benefit by joining?
M: The circle of satsang, the 'company of saints', expands in numbers as time passes.
Q: Do they get hold thereby of a source of power and grace from which they would have been barred otherwise?
M: Power and grace are for all and for the asking. Giving oneself a particular name does not help. Call yourself by any name -- as long as you are intensely mindful of yourself, the accumulated obstacles to self-knowledge are bound to be swept away.
Q: If I like your teaching and accept your guidance, can I call myself a Navnath?
M: Please your word-addicted mind! The name will not change you. At best it may remind you to behave. There is a succession of Gurus and their disciples, who in turn train more disciples and thus the line is maintained. But the continuity of tradition is informal and voluntary. It is like a family name, but here the family is spiritual.
Q: Do you have to realise to join the Sampradaya?
M: The Navnath Sampradaya is only a tradition, a way of teaching and practice. It does not denote a level of consciousness. If you accept a Navnath Sampradaya teacher as your Guru, you join his Sampradaya. Usually you receive a token of his grace -- a look, a touch, or a word, sometimes a vivid dream or a strong remembrance. Sometimes the only sign of grace is a significant and rapid change in character and behaviour.
Q: I know you now for some years and I meet you regularly. The thought of you is never far from my mind. Does it make me belong to your Sampradaya?
M: Your belonging is a matter of your own feeling and conviction. After all, it is all verbal and formal. In reality there is neither Guru nor disciple, neither theory nor practice, neither ignorance nor realisation. It all depends on what you take yourself to be. Know yourself correctly. There is no substitute to self-knowledge.
Q: What proof will I have that I know myself correctly?
M: You need no proofs. The experience is unique and unmistakable. It will dawn on you suddenly, when the obstacles are removed to some extent. It is like a frayed rope snapping. Yours is to work at the strands. The break is bound to happen. It can be delayed, but not prevented.
Q: I am confused by your denial of causality. Does it mean that none is responsible for the world as it is?
M: The idea of responsibility is in your mind. You think there must be something or somebody solely responsible for all that happens. There is a contradiction between a multiple universe and a single cause. Either one or the other must be false. Or both. As I see it, it is all day-dreaming. There is no reality in ideas. The fact is that without you, neither the universe nor its cause could have come into being.
Q: I cannot make out whether I am the creature or the creator of the universe.
M: 'I am' is an ever-present fact, while 'I am created' is an idea. Neither God nor the universe have come to tell you that they have created you. The mind obsessed by the idea of causality invents creation and then wonders 'who is the creator?' The mind itself is the creator. Even this is not quite true, for the created and its creator are one. The mind and the world are not separate. Do understand that what you think to be the world is your own mind.
Q: Is there a world beyond, or outside the mind?
M: All space and time are in the mind. Where will you locate a supra-mental world? There are many levels of the mind and each project is its own version, yet all are in the mind and created by the mind.
Q: What is your attitude to sin? How do you look at a sinner, somebody who breaks the law, inner or outer? Do you want him to change or you just pity him? Or, are you indifferent to him because of his sins?
M: I know no sin, nor sinner. Your distinction and valuation do not bind me. Everybody behaves according to his nature. It cannot be helped, nor need it be regretted.
Q: Others suffer.
M: Life lives on life. In nature the process is compulsory, in society it should be voluntary. There can be no life without sacrifice. A sinner refuses to sacrifice and invites death. This is as it is, and gives no cause for condemnation or pity.
Q: Surely you feel at least compassion when you see a man steeped in sin.
M: Yes, I feel I am that man and his sins are my sins.
Q: Right, and what next?
M: By my becoming one with him he becomes one with me. It is not a conscious process, it happens entirely by itself. None of us can help it. What needs changing shall change anyhow; enough to know oneself as one is, here and now. Intense and methodical investigation into one's mind is Yoga.
Q: What about the chains of destiny forged by sin?
M: When ignorance, the mother of sin, dissolves, destiny, the compulsion to sin again, ceases.
Q: There are retributions to make.
M: With ignorance coming to an end all comes to an end. Things are then seen as they are and they are good.
Q: If a sinner, a breaker of the law, comes before you and asks for your grace, what will be your response?
M: He will get what he asks for.
Q: In spite of being a very bad man?
M: I know no bad people, I only know myself. I see no saints, nor sinners, only living beings. I do not hand out grace. There is nothing I can give, or deny, which you do not have already in equal measure. Just be aware of your riches and make full use of them. As long as you imagine that you need my grace, you will be at my door begging for it. My begging for grace from you would make as little sense! We are not separate, the real is common.
Q: A mother comes to you with a tale of woe. Her only son has taken to drugs and sex and is going from bad to worse. She is asking for your grace. What shall be your response?
M: Probably I shall hear myself telling her that all will be well.
Q: That's all?
M: That's all. What more do you expect?
Q: But will the son of the woman change?
M: He may or he may not.
Q: The people who collect round you, and who know you for many years, maintain that when you say 'it will be all right' it invariably happens as you say.
M: You may as well say that it is the mother's heart that saved the child. For everything there are innumerable causes.
Q: I am told that the man who wants nothing for himself is all-powerful. The entire universe is at his disposal.
M: If you believe so, act on it. Abandon every personal desire and use the power thus saved for changing the world!
Q: All the Buddhas and Rishis have not succeeded in changing the world.
M: The world does not yield to changing. By its very nature it is painful and transient. See it as it is and divest yourself of all desire and fear. When the world does not hold and bind you, it becomes an abode of joy and beauty. You can be happy in the world only when you are free of it.
Q: What is right and what is wrong?
M: Generally, what causes suffering is wrong and what removes it, is right. The body and the mind are limited and therefore vulnerable; they need protection which gives rise to fear. As long as you identify yourself with them you are bound to suffer; realise your independence and remain happy. I tell you, this is the secret of happiness. To believe that you depend on things and people for happiness is due to ignorance of your true nature; to know that you need nothing to be happy, except self-knowledge, is wisdom.
Q: What comes first, being or desire?
M: With being arising in consciousness, the ideas of what you are arise in your mind as well as what you should be. This brings forth desire and action and the process of becoming begins. Becoming has, apparently, no beginning and no end, for it restarts every moment. With the cessation of imagination and desire, becoming ceases and the being this or that merges into pure being, which is not describable, only experienceable.
The world appears to you so overwhelmingly real, because you think of it all the time; cease thinking of it and it will dissolve into thin mist. You need not forget; when desire and fear end, bondage also ends. It is the emotional involvement, the pattern of likes and dislikes which we call character and temperament, that create the bondage.
Q: Without desire and fear what motive is there for action?
M: None, unless you consider love of life, of righteousness, of beauty, motive enough. Do not be afraid of freedom from desire and fear. It enables you to live a life so different from all you know, so much more intense and interesting, that, truly, by losing all you gain all.
Q: Since you count your spiritual ancestry from Rishi Dattatreya, are we right in believing that you and all your predecessors are reincarnations of the Rishi?
M: You may believe in whatever you like and if you act on your belief, you will get the fruits of it; but to me it has no importance. I am what I am and this is enough for me. I have no desire to identify myself with anybody, however illustrious. Nor do I feel the need to take myths for reality. I am only interested in ignorance and the freedom from ignorance. The proper role of a Guru is to dispel ignorance in the hearts and minds of his disciples. Once the disciple has understood, the confirming action is up to him. Nobody can act for another. And if he does not act rightly, it only means that he has not understood and that the Guru's work is not over.
Q: There must be some hopeless cases too?
M: None is hopeless. Obstacles can be overcome. What life cannot mend, death will end, but the Guru cannot fail.
Q: What gives you the assurance?
M: The Guru and man's inner reality are really one and work together towards the same goal -- the redemption and salvation of the mind. They cannot fail. Out of the very boulders that obstruct them they build their bridges. Consciousness is not the whole of being -- there are other levels on which man is much more co-operative. The Guru is at home on all levels and his energy and patience are inexhaustible.
Q: You keep on telling me that I am dreaming and that it is high time I should wake up. How does it happen that the Maharaj, who has come to me in my dreams, has not succeeded in waking me up? He keeps on urging and reminding, but the dream continues.
M: It is because you have not really understood that you are dreaming. This is the essence of bondage -- the mixing of the real with unreal. In your present state only the sense 'I am' refers to reality; the 'what' and the 'how I am' are illusions imposed by destiny, or accident.
Q: When did the dream begin?
M: It appears to be beginningless, but in fact it is only now. From moment to moment you are renewing it. Once you have seen that you are dreaming, you shall wake up. But you do not see, because you want the dream to continue. A day will come when you will long for the ending of the dream, with all your heart and mind, and be willing to pay any price; the price will be dispassion and detachment, the loss of interest in the dream itself.
Q: How helpless I am. As long as the dream of existence lasts, I want it to continue. As long as I want it to continue, it will last.
M: Wanting it to continue is not inevitable. See clearly your condition, your very clarity will release you.
Q: As long as I am with you, all you say seems pretty obvious; but as soon as I am away from you I run about restless and anxious.
M: You need not keep away from me, in your mind at least. But your mind is after the world's welfare!
Q: The world is full of troubles, no wonder my mind too is full of them.
M: Was there ever a world without troubles? Your being as a person depends on violence to others. Your very body is a battlefield, full of the dead and dying. Existence implies violence.
Q: As a body -- yes. As a human being -- definitely no. For humanity non-violence is the law of life and violence of death.
M: There is little of non-violence in nature.
Q: God and nature are not human and need not be humane. I am concerned with man alone. To be human I must be compassionate absolutely.
M: Do you realise that as long as you have a self to defend, you must be violent?
Q: I do. To be truly human I must be self-less. As long as I am selfish, I am sub-human, a humanoid only.
M: So, we are all sub-human and only a few are human. Few or many, it is again 'clarity and charity' that make us human. The sub-human -- the 'humanoids' -- are dominated by tamas and rajas and the humans by sattva. Clarity and charity is sattva as it affects mind and action. But the real is beyond sattva. Since I have known you, you seem to be always after helping the world. How much did you help?
Q: Not a bit. Neither the world has changed, nor have I. But the world suffers and I suffer along with it. To struggle against suffering is a natural reaction. And what is civilization and culture, philosophy and religion, but a revolt against suffering. Evil and the ending of evil -- is it not your own main preoccupation? You may call it ignorance -- it comes to the same.
M: Well, words do not matter, nor does it matter in what shape you are just now. Names and shapes change incessantly. Know yourself to be the changeless witness of the changeful mind. That is enough.
98. Freedom from Self-identification
Maharaj: Can you sit on the floor? Do you need a pillow? Have you any questions to ask? Not that you need to ask, you can as well be quiet. To be, just be, is important. You need not ask anything, nor do anything. Such apparently lazy way of spending time is highly regarded in India. It means that for the time being you are free from the obsession with 'what next'. When you are not in a hurry and the mind is free from anxieties, it becomes quiet and in the silence something may be heard which is ordinarily too fine and subtle for perception. The mind must be open and quiet to see. What we are trying to do here is to bring our minds into the right state for understanding what is real.
Questioner: How do we learn to cut out worries?
M: You need not worry about your worries. Just be. Do not try to be quiet; do not make 'being quiet' into a task to be performed. Don't be restless about 'being quiet', miserable about 'being happy'. Just be aware that you are and remain aware -- don't say: 'yes, I am; what next?' There is no 'next' in 'I am'. It is a timeless state.
Q: If it is a timeless state, it will assert itself anyhow.
M: You are what you are, timelessly, but of what use is it to you unless you know it and act on it? Your begging bowl may be of pure gold, but as long as you do not know it, you are a pauper. You must know your inner worth and trust it and express it in the daily sacrifice of desire and fear.
Q: If I know myself, shall I not desire and fear?
M: For some time the mental habits may linger in spite of the new vision, the habit of longing for the known past and fearing the unknown future. When you know these are of the mind only, you can go beyond them. As long as you have all sorts of ideas about yourself, you know yourself through the mist of these ideas; to know yourself as you are, give up all ideas. You cannot imagine the taste of pure water; you can only discover it by abandoning all flavourings. As long as you are interested in your present way of living, you will not abandon it. Discovery cannot come as long as you cling to the familiar. It is only when you realise fully the immense sorrow of your life and revolt against it, that a way out can be found.
Q: I can now see that the secret of India's eternal life lies in these dimensions of existence, of which India was always the custodian.
M: It is an open secret and there were always people willing and ready to share it. Teachers -- there are many, fearless disciples -- very few.
Q: I am quite willing to learn.
M: Learning words is not enough. You may know the theory, but without the actual experience of yourself as the impersonal and unqualified centre of being, love and bliss, mere verbal knowledge is sterile.
Q: Then, what am I to do?
M: Try to be, only to be. The all-important word is 'try'. Allot enough time daily for sitting quietly and trying, just trying, to go beyond the personality, with its addictions and obsessions. Don't ask how, it cannot be explained. You just keep on trying until you succeed. If you persevere, there can be no failure. What matters supremely is sincerity, earnestness; you must really have had surfeit of being the person you are, now see the urgent need of being free of this unnecessary self-identification with a bundle of memories and habits. This steady resistance against the unnecessary is the secret of success.
After all, you are what you are every moment of your life, but you are never conscious of it, except, maybe, at the point of awakening from sleep. All you need is to be aware of being, not as a verbal statement, but as an ever-present fact. The awareness, that you are, will open your eyes to what you are. It is all very simple. First of all, establish a constant contact with yourself, be with yourself all the time. Into self-awareness all blessings flow. Begin as a centre of observation, deliberate cognisance, and grow into a centre of love in action. 'I am' is a tiny seed which will grow into a mighty tree -- quite naturally, without a trace of effort.
Q: I see so much evil in myself. Must I not change it?
M: Evil is the shadow of inattention. In the light of self-awareness it will wither and fall off.
All dependence on another is futile, for what others can give others will take away. Only what is your own at the start will remain your own in the end. Accept no guidance but from within and even then sift out all memories for they will mislead you. Even if you are quite ignorant of the ways and the means, keep quiet and look within; guidance is sure to come. You are never left without knowing what your next step should be. The trouble is that you may shirk it. The Guru is there for giving you courage because of his experience and success. But only what you discover through your own awareness, your own effort, will be of permanent use to you.
Remember, nothing you perceive is your own. Nothing of value can come to you from outside; it is only your own feeling and understanding that are relevant and revealing. Words, heard or read, will only create images in your mind, but you are not a mental image. You are the power of perception and action behind and beyond the image.
Q: You seem to advise me to be self-centred to the point of egoism. Must I not yield even to my interest in other people?
M: Your interest in others is egoistic, self-concerned, self-oriented. You are not interested in others as persons, but only as far as they enrich, or ennoble your own image of yourself. And the ultimate in selfishness is to care only for the protection, preservation and multiplication of one's own body. By body I mean all that is related to your name and shape -- your family, tribe, country, race, etc. To be attached to one's name and shape is selfishness. A man who knows that he is neither body nor mind cannot be selfish, for he has nothing to be selfish for. Or, you may say, he is equally 'selfish' on behalf of everybody he meets; everybody's welfare is his own. The feeling 'I am the world, the world is myself' becomes quite natural; once it is established, there is just no way of being selfish. To be selfish means to covet, acquire, accumulate on behalf of the part against the whole.
Q: One may be rich with many possessions, by inheritance, or marriage, or just good luck.
M: If you do not hold on to, it will be taken away from you.
Q: In your present state can you love another person as a person?
M: I am the other person, the other person is myself; in name and shape we are different, but there is no separation. At the root of our being we are one.
Q: Is it not so whenever there is love between people?
M: It is, but they are not conscious of it. They feel the attraction, but do not know the reason.
Q: Why is love selective?
M: Love is not selective, desire is selective. In love there are no strangers. When the centre of selfishness is no longer, all desires for pleasure and fear of pain cease; one is no longer interested in being happy; beyond happiness there is pure intensity, inexhaustible energy, the ecstasy of giving from a perennial source.
Q: Mustn't I begin by solving for myself the problem of right and wrong?
M: What is pleasant people take it to be good and what is painful they take it to be bad.
Q: Yes, that is how it is with us, ordinary people. But how is it with you, at the level of oneness? For you what is good and what is bad?
M: What increases suffering is bad and what removes it is good.
Q: So you deny goodness to suffering itself. There are religions in which suffering is considered good and noble.
M: Karma, or destiny, is an expression of a beneficial law: the universal trend towards balance, harmony and unity. At every moment, whatever happens now, is for the best. It may appear painful and ugly, a suffering bitter and meaningless, yet considering the past and the future it is for the best, as the only way out of a disastrous situation.
Q: Does one suffer only for one's own sins?
M: One suffers along with what one thinks oneself to be. If you feel one with humanity, you suffer with humanity.
Q: And since you claim to be one with the sufferers, there is no limit in time or space to your suffering!
M: To be is to suffer. The narrower the circle of myself-identification, the more acute the suffering caused by desire and fear.
Q: Christianity accepts suffering as purifying and ennobling, while Hinduism looks at it with distaste.
M: Christianity is one way of putting words together and Hinduism is another. The real is, behind and beyond words, incommunicable, directly experienced, explosive in its effect on the mind. It is easily had when nothing else is wanted. The innards created by imagination and perpetuated by desire.
Q: Can there be no suffering that is necessary and good?
M: Accidental or incidental pain is inevitable and transitory; deliberate pain, inflicted with even the best of intentions, is meaningless and cruel.
Q: You would not punish crime?
M: Punishment is but legalised crime. In a society built on prevention, rather than retaliation, there would be very little crime. The few exceptions will be treated medically, as of unsound mind and body.
Q: You seem to have little use for religion.
M: What is religion? A cloud in the sky. I live in the sky, not in the clouds, which are so many words held together. Remove the verbiage and what remains? Truth remains. My home is in the unchangeable, which appears to be a state of constant reconciliation and integration of opposites. People come here to learn about the actual existence of such a state, the obstacles to its emergence, and, once perceived, the art of stabilising it in consciousness, so that there is no clash between understanding and living. The state itself is beyond the mind and need not be learnt. The mind can only focus the obstacles; seeing an obstacle as an obstacle is effective, because it is the mind acting on the mind. Begin from the beginning: give attention to the fact that you are. At no time can you say 'I was not' all you can say: 'I do not remember'. You know how unreliable memory is. Accept that, engrossed in petty personal affairs you have forgotten what you are; try to bring back the lost memory through the elimination of the known. You cannot be told what will happen, nor is it desirable; anticipation will create illusions. In the inner search the unexpected is inevitable; the discovery is invariably beyond all imagination. Just as an unborn child cannot know life after birth, for it has nothing in its mind with which to form a valid picture, so is the mind unable to think of the real in terms of the unreal, except by negation: ‘Not this, not that'. The acceptance of the unreal as real is the obstacle; to see the false as false and abandon the false brings reality into being. The states of utter clarity, immense love, utter fearlessness; these are mere words at the present, outlines without colour, hints at what can be. You are like a blind man expecting to see as a result of an operation -- provided you do not shirk the operation! The state I am in words does not matter at all. Nor is there any addiction to words. Only facts matter.
Q: There can be no religion without words.
M: Recorded religions are mere heaps of verbiage. Religions show their true face in action, in silent action. To know what man believes, watch how he acts. For most of the people service of their bodies and their minds is their religion. They may have religious ideas, but they do not act on them. They play with them, they are often very fond of them, but they will not act on them.
Q: Words are needed for communication.
M: For exchange of information -- yes. But real communication between people is not verbal. For establishing and maintaining relationship affectionate awareness expressed in direct action is required. Not what you say, but what you do is that matters. Words are made by the mind and are meaningful only on the level of the mind. The word ‘bread’: you can neither eat nor live by it; it merely conveys an idea. It acquires meaning only with the actual eating. In the same sense am I telling you that the Normal State is not verbal. I may say it is wise love expressed in action, but these words convey little, unless you experience them in their fullness and beauty.
Words have their limited usefulness, but we put no limits to them and bring ourselves to the brink of disaster. Our noble ideas are finely balanced by ignoble actions. We talk of God, Truth and Love, but instead of direct experience we have definitions. Instead of enlarging and deepening action we chisel our definitions. And we imagine that we know what we can define!
Q: How can one convey experience except through words?
M: Experience cannot be conveyed through words. It comes with action. A man who is intense in his experience will radiate confidence and courage. Others too will act and gain experience born out of action. Verbal teaching has its use; it prepares the mind for voiding itself of its accumulations.
A level of mental maturity is reached when nothing external is of any value and the heart is ready to relinquish all. Then the real has a chance and it grasps it. Delays, if any, are caused by the mind being unwilling to see or to discard.
Q: Are we so totally alone?
M: Oh, no, we are not. Those who have, can give. And such givers are many. The world itself is a supreme gift, maintained by loving sacrifice. But the right receivers, wise and humble, are so few. 'Ask and you shall be given' is the eternal law.
So many words you have learnt, so many you have spoken. You know everything, but you do not know yourself. For the self is not known through words -- only direct insight will reveal it. Look within, search within.
Q: It is very difficult to abandon words. Our mental life is one continuous stream of words.
M: It is not a matter of easy, or difficult. You have no alternative. Either you try or you don't. It is up to you.
Q: I have tried many times and failed.
M: Try again. If you keep on trying, something may happen. But if you don't, you are stuck. You may know all the right words, quote the scriptures, be brilliant in your discussions and yet remain a bag of bones. Or you may be inconspicuous and humble, an insignificant person altogether, yet glowing with loving kindness and deep wisdom.