I Am That
99. The Perceived cannot be the Perceiver
Questioner: I have been moving from place to place investigating the various Yogas available for practice and I could not decide which will suit me best. I should be thankful for some competent advice. At present, as a result of all this searching, I am just tired of the idea of finding truth. It seems to me, both unnecessary and troublesome. Life is enjoyable as it is and I see no purpose in improving on it.
Maharaj: You are welcome to stay in your contentment, but can you? Youth, vigour, money -- all will pass away sooner than you expect. Sorrow, shunned so far, will pursue you. If you want to be beyond suffering, you must meet it half way and embrace it. Relinquish your habits and addictions, live a simple and sober life, don't hurt a living being; this is the foundation of Yoga. To find reality you must be real in the smallest daily action; there can be no deceit in the search for truth. You say you find your life enjoyable. Maybe it is -- at present. But who enjoys it?
Q: I confess I do not know the enjoyer nor the enjoyed. I only know the enjoyment.
M: Quite right. But enjoyment is a state of mind -- it comes and goes. Its very impermanence makes it perceivable. You cannot be conscious of what does not change. All consciousness is consciousness of change. But the very perception of change -- does it not necessitate a changeless background?
Q: Not at all. The memory of the last state -- compared to the actuality of the present state gives the experience of change.
M: Between the remembered and the actual there is a basic difference which can be observed from moment to moment. At no point of time is the actual the remembered. Between the two there is a difference in kind, not merely in intensity. The actual is unmistakably so. By no effort of will or imagination can you interchange the two. Now, what is it that gives this unique quality to the actual?
Q: The actual is real, while there is a good deal of uncertainty about the remembered.
M: Quite so, but why? A moment back the remembered was actual, in a moment the actual will be the remembered. What makes the actual unique? Obviously, it is your sense of being present. In memory and anticipation there is a clear feeling that it is a mental state under observation, while in the actual the feeling is primarily of being present and aware.
Q: Yes I can see. It is awareness that makes the difference between the actual and the remembered. One thinks of the past or the future, but one is present in the now.
M: Wherever you go, the sense of here and now you carry with you all the time. It means that you are independent of space and time, that space and time are in you, not you in them. It is yourself - identification with the body, which, of course, is limited in space and time, that gives you the feeling of finiteness. In reality you are infinite and eternal.
Q: This infinite and eternal self of mine, how am I to know it?
M: The self you want to know, is it some second self? Are you made of several selves? Surely, there is only one self and you are that self. The self you are is the only self there is. Remove and abandon your wrong ideas about yourself and there it is, in all its glory. It is only your mind that prevents self-knowledge.
Q: How am I to be rid of the mind? And is life without mind at all possible on the human level?
M: There is no such thing as mind. There are ideas and some of them are wrong. Abandon the wrong ideas, for they are false and obstruct your vision of yourself.
Q: Which ideas are wrong and which are true?
M: Assertions are usually wrong and denials -- right.
Q: One cannot live by denying everything!
M: Only by denying can one live. Assertion is bondage. To question and deny is necessary. It is the essence of revolt and without revolt there can be no freedom.
There is no second or higher self to search for. You are the highest self, only give up the false ideas you have about yourself. Both faith and reason tell you that you are neither the body, nor its desires and fears, nor are you the mind with its fanciful ideas, nor the role society compels you to play, the person you are supposed to be. Give up the false and the true will come into its own.
You say you want to know yourself. You are yourself -- you cannot be anything but what you are. Is knowing separate from being? Whatever you can know with your mind is of the mind, not you; about yourself you can only say: 'I am, I am aware, I like It'.
Q: I find being alive a painful state.
M: You cannot be alive for you are life itself. It is the person you imagine yourself to be that suffers, not you. Dissolve it in awareness. It is merely a bundle of memories and habits. From the awareness of the unreal to the awareness of your real nature there is a chasm which you will easily cross, once you have mastered the art of pure awareness.
Q: All I know is that I do not know myself.
M: How do you know, that you do not know yourself? Your direct insight tells you that you yourself know first, for nothing exists to you without your being there to experience its existence. You imagine you do not know yourself, because you cannot describe yourself. You can always say: 'I know that I am' and you will refuse as untrue the statement: 'I am not'. But whatever can be described cannot be yourself, and what you are cannot be described. You can only know yourself by being yourself without any attempt at self-definition and self-description.
Once you have understood that you are nothing perceivable or conceivable, that whatever appears in the field of consciousness cannot be yourself, you will apply yourself to the eradication of all self-identification, as the only way that can take you to a deeper realisation of yourself. You literally progress by rejection -- a veritable rocket. To know that you are neither in the body nor in the mind, though aware of both, is already self-knowledge.
Q: If I am neither the body nor mind, how am I aware of them? How can I perceive something quite foreign to myself?
M: 'Nothing is me,' is the first step. 'Everything is me' is the next. Both hang on the idea: 'there is a world'. When this too is given up, you remain what you are -- the non-dual Self. You are it here and now, but your vision is obstructed by your false ideas about yourself.
Q: Well, I admit that I am, I was, I shall be; at least from birth to death. I have no doubts of my being, here and now. But I find that it is not enough. My life lacks joy, born of harmony between the inner and the outer. If I alone am and the world is merely a protection, then why is there disharmony?
M: You create disharmony and then complain! When you desire and fear, and identify yourself with your feelings, you create sorrow and bondage. When you create, with love and wisdom, and remain unattached to your creations, the result is harmony and peace. But whatever be the condition of your mind, in what way does it reflect on you? It is only yourself-identification with your mind that makes you happy or unhappy. Rebel against your slavery to your mind, see your bonds as self- created and break the chains of attachment and revulsion. Keep in mind your goal of freedom, until it dawns on you that you are already free, that freedom is not something in the distant future to be earned with painful efforts, but perennially one's own, to be used! Liberation is not an acquisition but a matter of courage, the courage to believe that you are free already and to act on it.
Q: If I do as I like, I shall have to suffer.
M: Nevertheless, you are free. The consequences of your action will depend on the society in which you live and its conventions.
Q: I may act recklessly.
M: Along with courage will emerge wisdom and compassion and skill in action. You will know what to do and whatever you do will be good for all.
Q: I find that the various aspects of myself are at war between themselves and there is no peace in me. Where are freedom and courage, wisdom and compassion? My actions merely increase the chasm in which I exist.
M: It is all so, because you take yourself to be somebody, or something. Stop, look, investigate, ask the right questions, come to the right conclusions and have the courage to act on them and see what happens. The first steps may bring the roof down on your head, but soon the commotion will clear and there will be peace and joy.
You know so many things about yourself, but the knower you do not know. Find out who you are, the knower of the known. Look within diligently; remember to remember that the perceived cannot be the perceiver. Whatever you see, hear or think of, remember -- you are not what happens, you are he to whom it happens. Delve deeply into the sense 'I am' and you will surely discover that the perceiving centre is universal, as universal as the light that illumines the world. All that happens in the universe happens to you, the silent witness. On the other hand, whatever is done, is done by you, the universal and inexhaustible energy.
Q: It is, no doubt, very gratifying to hear that one is the silent witness as well as the universal energy. But how is one to cross over from a verbal statement to direct knowledge? Hearing is not knowing.
M: Before you can know anything directly, non-verbally, you must know the knower. So far, you took the mind for the knower, but it is just not so. The mind clogs you up with images and ideas, which leave scars in memory. You take remembering to be knowledge. True knowledge is ever fresh, new, unexpected. It wells up from within. When you know what you are, you also are what you know. Between knowing and being there is no gap.
Q: I can only investigate the mind with the mind.
M: By all means use your mind to know your mind. It is perfectly legitimate and also the best preparation for going beyond the mind. Being, knowing and enjoying is your own. First realise your own being. This is easy because the sense 'I am' is always with you. Then meet yourself as the knower, apart from the known. Once you know yourself as pure being, the ecstasy of freedom is your own.
Q: Which Yoga is this?
M: Why worry? What makes you come here is your being displeased with your life as you know it, the life of your body and mind. You may try to improve them, through controlling and bending them to an ideal, or you may cut the knot of self-identification altogether and look at your body and mind as something that happens without committing you in any way.
Q: Shall I call the way of control and discipline raja yoga and the way of detachment -- jnana yoga? And the worship of an ideal -- bhakti yoga?
M: If it pleases you. Words indicate, but do not explain. What I teach is the ancient and simple way of liberation through understanding. Understand your own mind and its hold on you will snap. The mind misunderstands; misunderstanding is its very nature. Right understanding is the only remedy, whatever name you give it. It is the earliest and also the latest, for it deals with the mind as it is.
Nothing you do will change you, for you need no change. You may change your mind or your body, but it is always something external to you that has changed, not yourself. Why bother at all to change? Realise once for all that neither your body nor your mind, nor even your consciousness is yourself and stand alone in your true nature beyond consciousness and unconsciousness. No effort can take you there, only the clarity of understanding. Trace your misunderstandings and abandon them, that is all. There is nothing to seek and find, for there is nothing lost. Relax and watch the 'I am'. Reality is just behind it. Keep quiet, keep silent; it will emerge, or, rather, it will take you in.
Q: Must I not get rid of my body and mind first?
M: You cannot, for the very idea binds you to them. Just understand and disregard.
Q: I am unable to disregard, for I am not integrated.
M: Imagine you are completely integrated, your thought and action fully coordinated. How will it help you? It will not free you from mistaking yourself to be the body or the mind. See them correctly as 'not you', that is all.
Q: You want me to remember to forget!
M: Yes, it looks so. Yet, it is not hopeless. You can do it. Just set about it in earnest. Your blind groping is full of promise. Your very searching is the finding. You cannot fail.
Q: Because we are disintegrated, we suffer.
M: We shall suffer as long as our thoughts and actions are prompted by desires and fears. See their futility and the danger and chaos they create will subside. Don't try to reform yourself, just see the futility of all change. The changeful keeps on changing while the changeless is waiting. Do not expect the changeful, to take you to the changeless -- it can never happen. Only when the very idea of changing is seen as false and abandoned, the changeless can come into its own.
Q: Everywhere I go, l am told that I must change profoundly before I can see the real. This process of deliberate, self-imposed change is called Yoga.
M: All change affects the mind only. To be what you are, you must go beyond the mind, into your own being. It is immaterial what is the mind that you leave behind, provided you leave it behind for good. This again is not possible without self-realisation.
Q: What comes first -- the abandoning of the mind or self-realisation?
M: Self-realisation definitely comes first. The mind cannot go beyond itself by itself. It must explode.
Q: No exploration before explosion?
M: The explosive power comes from the real. But you are well advised to have your mind ready for it. Fear can always delay it, until another opportunity arises.
Q: I thought there is always a chance.
M: In theory -- yes. In practice a situation must arise, when all the factors necessary for self- realisation are present. This need not I discourage you. Your dwelling on the fact of 'I am' will soon create another chance. For, attitude attracts opportunity. All you know is second-hand. Only ‘I am' is first-hand and needs no proofs. Stay with it.
100. Understanding leads to Freedom
Questioner: In many countries of the world investigating officers follow certain practices aimed at extracting confessions from their victim and also changing his personality, if needed. By a judicious choice of physical and moral deprivations and by persuasions the old personality is broken down and a new personality established in its place. The man under investigation hears so many times repeated that he is an enemy of the State and a traitor to his country, that a day comes when something breaks down in him and he begins to feel with full conviction that he is a traitor, a rebel, altogether despicable and deserving the direst punishment. This process is known as brain-washing.
It struck me that the religious and Yogic practices are very similar to 'brain-washing'. The same physical and mental deprivation, solitary confinement, a powerful sense of sin, despair and a desire to escape through expiation and conversion, adoption of a new image of oneself and impersonating that image. The same repetition of set formulas: 'God is good; the Guru (party) knows; faith will save me.' In the so-called Yogic or religious practices the same mechanism operates. The mind is made to concentrate on some particular idea to the exclusion of all other ideas and concentration is powerfully reinforced by rigid discipline and painful austerities. A high price in life and happiness is paid and what one gets in return appears therefore, to be of great importance. This prearranged conversion, obvious or hidden, religious or political, ethical or social, may look genuine and lasting, yet there is a feeling of artificiality about it.
Maharaj: You are quite right. By undergoing so many hardships the mind gets dislocated and immobilised. Its condition becomes precarious; whatever it undertakes ends in a deeper bondage.
Q: Then why are sadhanas prescribed?
M: Unless you make tremendous efforts, you will not be convinced that effort will take you nowhere. The self is so self-confident, that unless it is totally discouraged, it will not give up. Mere verbal conviction is not enough. Hard facts alone can show the absolute nothingness of the self- image.
Q: The brain-washer drives me mad, and the Guru drives me sane. The driving is similar. Yet the motive and the purpose are totally different. The similarities are, perhaps merely verbal.
M: Inviting, or compelling to suffer contains in it violence and the fruit of violence cannot be sweet. There are certain life situations, inevitably painful, and you have to take them in your stride. There are also certain situations which you have created, either deliberately or by neglect. And from these you have to learn a lesson so that they are not repeated again.
Q: It seems that we must suffer, so that we learn to overcome pain.
M: Pain has to be endured. There is no such thing as overcoming the pain and no training is needed. Training for the future, developing attitudes is a sign of fear.
Q: Once I know how to face pain, I am free of it, not afraid of it, and therefore happy. This is what happens to a prisoner. He accepts his punishment as just and proper and is at peace with the prison authorities and the State. All religions do nothing else but preach acceptance and surrender. We are being encouraged to plead guilty, to feel responsible for all the evils in the world and point at ourselves as their only cause. My problem is: I cannot see much difference between brain-washing and sadhana, except that in the case of sadhana one is not physically constrained. The element of compulsive suggestion is present in both.
M: As you have said, the similarities are superficial. You need not harp on them.
Q: Sir, the similarities are not superficial. Man is a complex being and can be at the same time the accuser and the accused, the judge, the warden and the executioner. There is not much that is voluntary in a 'voluntary' sadhana. One is moved by forces beyond one's ken and control. I can change my mental metabolism as little as the physical, except by painful and protracted efforts -- which is Yoga. All I am asking is: does Maharaj agree with me that Yoga implies violence?
M: I agree that Yoga, as presented by you, means violence and I never advocate any form of violence. My path is totally non-violent. I mean exactly what I say: non-violent. Find out for yourself what it is. I merely say: it is non-violent.
Q: I am not misusing words. When a Guru asks me to meditate sixteen hours a day for the rest of my life, I cannot do it without extreme violence to myself. Is such a Guru right or wrong?
M: None compels you to meditate sixteen hours a day, unless you feel like doing so. It is only a way of telling you: 'remain with yourself, don't get lost among others'. The teacher will wait, but the mind is impatient. It is not the teacher; it is the mind that is violent and also afraid of its own violence. What is of the mind is relative; it is a mistake to make it into an absolute.
Q: If I remain passive, nothing will change. If I am active, I must be violent. What is it I can do which is neither sterile nor violent?
M: Of course, there is a way which is neither violent nor sterile and yet supremely effective. Just look at yourself as you are, see yourself as you are, accept yourself as you are and go ever deeper into what you are. Violence and non-violence describe your attitude to others; the self in relation to itself is neither violent nor non-violent, it is either aware or unaware of itself. If it knows itself, all it does will be right; if it does not, all it does will be wrong.
Q: What do you mean by saying: I know myself as I am?
M: Before the mind -- I am. 'I am' is not a thought in the mind; the mind happens to me, I do not happen to the mind. And since time and space are in the mind, I am beyond time and space, eternal and omnipresent.
Q: Are you serious? Do you really mean that you exist everywhere and at all times?
M: Yes, I do. To me it is as obvious, as the freedom of movement is to you. Imagine a tree asking a monkey: 'Do you seriously mean that you can move from place to place?' And the monkey saying: 'Yes. I do.'
Q: Are you also free from causality? Can you produce miracles?
M: The world itself is a miracle. I am beyond miracles -- I am absolutely normal. With me everything happens as it must. I do not interfere with creation. Of what use are small miracles to me when the greatest of miracles is happening all the time? Whatever you see it is always your own being that you see. Go ever deeper into yourself, seek within, there is neither violence nor non- violence in self-discovery. The destruction of the false is not violence.
Q: When I practice self-enquiry, or go within with the idea that it will profit me in some way or other, I am still escaping from what I am.
M: Quite right. True enquiry is always into something, not out of something. When I enquire how to get, or avoid something, I am not really inquiring. To know anything I must accept it -- totally.
Q: Yes, to know God I must accept God -- how frightening!
M: Before you can accept God, you must accept yourself, which is even more frightening. The first steps in self-acceptance are not at all pleasant, for what one sees is not a happy sight. One needs all the courage to go further. What helps is silence. Look at yourself in total silence, do not describe yourself. Look at the being you believe you are and remember -- you are not what you see. 'This I am not -- what am l?' is the movement of self-enquiry. There are no other means to liberation, all means delay. Resolutely reject what you are not, till the real Self emerges in its glorious nothingness, its 'not-a-thingness.'
Q: The world is passing through rapid and critical changes. We can see them with great clarity in the United States, though they happen in other countries. There is an increase in crime on one hand and more genuine holiness on the other. Communities are being formed and some of them are on a very high level of integrity and austerity. It looks as if evil is destroying itself by its own successes, like a fire which consumes its fuel, while the good, like life, perpetuates itself.
M: As long as you divide events into good and evil, you may be right. In fact, good becomes evil and evil becomes good by their own fulfilment.
Q: What about love?
M: When it turns to lust, it becomes destructive.
Q: What is lust?
M: Remembering -- imagining -- anticipating. It is sensory and verbal. A form of addiction.
Q: Is brahmacharya, continence, imperative in Yoga?
M: A life of constraint and suppression is not Yoga. Mind must be free of desires and relaxed. It comes with understanding, not with determination, which is but another form of memory. An understanding mind is free of desires and fears.
Q: How can I make myself understand?
M: By meditating which means giving attention. Become fully aware of your problem, look at it from all sides, watch how it affects your life. Then leave it alone. You can't do more than that.
Q: Will it set me free?
M: You are free from what you have understood. The outer expressions of freedom may take time to appear, but they are already there. Do not expect perfection. There is no perfection in manifestation. Details must clash. No problem is solved completely, but you can withdraw from it to a level on which it does not operate.
101. Jnani does not Grasp, nor Hold
Questioner: How does the jnani proceed when he needs something to be done? Does he make plans, decide about details and execute them?
Maharaj: Jnani understands a situation fully and knows at once what needs be done. That is all. The rest happens by itself and to a large extent unconsciously. The jnani’s identity with all that is, is so complete, that as he responds to the universe, so does the universe responds to him. He is supremely confident that once a situation has been cognised, events will move in adequate response. The ordinary man is personally concerned, he counts his risks and chances, while the jnani remains aloof, sure that all will happen as it must; and it does not matter much what happens, for ultimately the return to balance and harmony is inevitable. The heart of things is at peace.
Q: I have understood that personality is an illusion, and alert detachment, without loss of identity, is our point of contact with the reality. Will you, please, tell me -- at this moment are you a person or a self-aware identity?
M: I am both. But the real self cannot be described except in terms supplied by the person, in terms of what I am not. All you can tell about the person is not the self, and you can tell nothing about the self, which would not refer to the person; as it is, as it could be, as it should be. All attributes are personal. The real is beyond all attributes.
Q: Are you sometimes the self and sometimes the person?
M: How can I be? The person is what I appear to be to other persons. To myself I am the infinite expanse of consciousness in which innumerable persons emerge and disappear in endless succession.
Q: How is it that the person, which to you is quite illusory, appears real to us?
M: You, the self, being the root of all being, consciousness and joy, impart your reality to whatever you perceive. This imparting of reality takes place invariably in the now, at no other time, because past and future are only in the mind. ‘Being' applies to the now only.
Q: Is not eternity endless too?
M: Time is endless, though limited, eternity is In the split moment of the now. We miss it because the mind is ever shuttling between the past and the future. It will not stop to focus the now. It can be done with comparative ease, if interest is aroused.
Q: What arouses interest?
M: Earnestness, the sign of maturity.
Q: And how does maturity come about?
M: By keeping your mind clear and clean, by living your life in full awareness of every moment as it happens, by examining and dissolving one's desires and fears as soon as they arise.
Q: Is such concentration at all possible?
M: Try. One step at a time is easy. Energy flows from earnestness.
Q: I find I am not earnest enough.
M: Self-betrayal is a grievous matter. It rots the mind like cancer. The remedy lies in clarity and integrity of thinking. Try to understand that you live in a world of illusions, examine them and uncover their roots. The very attempt to do so will make you earnest, for there is bliss in right endeavour.
Q: Where will it lead me?
M: Where can it lead you if not to its own perfection? Once you are well-established in the now, you have nowhere else to go what you are timelessly, you express eternally.
Q: Are you one or many?
M: I am one, but appear as many.
Q: Why does one appear at all?
M: It is good to be, and to be conscious.
Q: Life is sad.
M: Ignorance causes sorrow. Happiness follows understanding.
Q: Why should ignorance be painful?
M: It is at the root of all desire and fear, which are painful states and the source of endless errors.
Q: I have seen people supposed to have realised, laughing and crying. Does it not show that they are not free of desire and fear?
M: They may laugh and cry according to circumstances, but inwardly they are cool and clear, watching detachedly their own spontaneous reactions. Appearances are misleading and more so in the case of a jnani.
Q: I do not understand you.
M: The mind cannot understand, for the mind is trained for grasping and holding while the jnani is not-grasping and not holding.
Q: What am I holding on to, which you do not?
M: You are a creature of memories; at least you imagine yourself to be so. I am entirely unimagined. I am what I am, not identifiable with any physical or mental state.
Q: An accident would destroy your equanimity.
M: The strange fact is that it does not. To my own surprise, I remain as I am -- pure awareness, alert to all that happens.
Q: Even at the Moment of death?
M: What is it to me that the body dies?
Q: Don't you need it to contact the world?
M: I do not need the world. Nor am I in one. The world you think of is in your own mind. I can see it through your eyes and mind, but I am fully aware that it is a projection of memories; it is touched by the real only at the point of awareness, which can be only now.
Q: The only difference between us seems to be that while I keep on saying that I do not know my real self, you maintain that you know it well; is there any other difference between us?
M: There is no difference between us; nor can I say that I know myself; I know that I am not describable or definable. There is a vastness beyond the farthest reaches of the mind. That vastness is my home; that vastness is myself. And that vastness is also love.
Q: You see love everywhere, while I see hatred and suffering. The history of humanity is the history of murder, individual and collective. No other living being so delights in killing.
M: If you go into the motives, you will find love, love of oneself and of one's own. People fight for what they imagine they love.
Q: Surely their love must be real enough when they are ready to die for it.
M: Love is boundless. What is limited to a few cannot be called love.
Q: Do you know such unlimited love?
M: Yes, l do.
Q: How does it feel?
M: All is loved and lovable. Nothing is excluded.
Q: Not even the ugly and the criminal?
M: All is within my consciousness; all is my own. It is madness to split oneself through likes and dislikes. I am beyond both. I am not alienated.
Q: To be free from like and dislike is a state of indifference.
M: It may look and feel so in the beginning. Persevere in such indifference and it will blossom into an all-pervading and all-embracing love.
Q: One has such moments when the mind becomes a flower and a flame, but they do not last and the life reverts to its daily greyness.
M: Discontinuity is the law, when you deal with the concrete: The continuous cannot be experienced, for it has no borders. Consciousness implies alterations, change followings change, when one thing or state comes to an end and another begins; that which has no borderline cannot be experienced in the common meaning of the word. One can only be it, without knowing, but one can know what it is not. It is definitely not the entire content of consciousness which is always on the move.
Q: If the immovable cannot be known, what is the meaning and purpose of its realisation?
M: To realise the immovable means to become immovable. And the purpose is the good of all that lives.
Q: Life is movement. Immobility is death. Of what use is death to life?
M: I am talking of immovability, not of immobility. You become immovable in reticence. You become a power which gets all things right. It may or may not imply intense outward activity, but the mind remains deep and quiet.
Q: As I watch my mind I find it changing all the time, mood succeeding mood in infinite variety, while you seem to be perpetually in the same mood of cheerful benevolence.
M: Moods are in the mind and do not matter. Go within, go beyond. Cease being fascinated by the content of your consciousness. When you reach the deep layers of your true being, you will find that the mind's surface-play affects you very little.
Q: There will be play all the same?
M: A quiet mind is not a dead mind.
Q: Consciousness is always in movement -- it is an observable fact. Immovable consciousness is a contradiction. When you talk of a quiet mind, what is it? Is not mind the same as consciousness?
M: We must remember that words are used in many ways, according to the context. The fact is that there is little difference between the conscious and the unconscious --- they are essentially the same. The waking state differs from deep sleep in the presence of the witness. A ray of awareness illumines a part of our mind and that part becomes our dream or waking consciousness, while awareness appears as the witness. The witness usually knows only consciousness. Sadhana consists in the witness turning back first on his conscious, then upon himself in his own awareness. Self-awareness is Yoga.
Q: If awareness is all-pervading, then a blind man, once realised, can see?
M: You are mixing sensation with awareness. The jnani knows himself as he is. He is also aware of his body being crippled and his mind being deprived of a range of sensory perceptions. But he is not affected by the availability of eyesight, nor by its absence.
Q: My question is more specific; when a blind man becomes a jnani will his eyesight be restored to him or not?
M: Unless his eyes and brain undergo a renovation, how can he see?
Q: But will they undergo a renovation?
M: They may or may not. It all depends on destiny and grace. But a jnani commands a mode of spontaneous, non-sensory perception, which makes him know things directly, without the intermediary of the senses. He is beyond the perceptual and the conceptual, beyond the categories of time and space, name and shape. He is neither the perceived nor the perceiver, but the simple and the universal factor that makes perceiving possible. Reality is within consciousness, but it is not consciousness nor any of its contents.
Q: What is false, the world, or my knowledge of it?
M: Is there a world outside your knowledge? Can you go beyond what you know? You may postulate a world beyond the mind, but it will remain a concept, unproved and unprovable. Your experience is your proof, and it is valid for you only. Who else can have your experience, when the other person is only as real as he appears in your experience?
Q: Am I so hopelessly lonely?
M: You are. as a person. In your real being vow are the whole.
Q: Are you a part of the world which I have in consciousness, or are you independent?
M: What you see is yours and what I see is mine. The two have little in common.
Q: There must be some common factor which unites us.
M: To find the common factor you must abandon all distinctions. Only the universal is in common.
Q: What strikes me as exceedingly strange is that while you say that I am merely a product of my memories and woefully limited, I create a vast and rich world in which. Everything is contained, including you and your teaching. How this vastness is created and contained in my smallness is what I find hard to understand. May be you are giving me the whole truth, but I am grasping only a small part of it.
M: Yet, it is a fact -- the small projects the whole, but it cannot contain the whole. However great and complete is your world it is self-contradictory and transitory and altogether illusory.
Q: It may be illusory yet it is marvellous. When I look and listen, touch, smell and taste, think and feel, remember and imagine, I cannot but be astonished at my miraculous creativity. I look through a microscope or telescope and see wonders, I follow the track of an atom and hear the whisper of the stars. If I am the sole creator of all this, then I am God indeed! But if I am God, why do I appear so small and helpless to myself?
M: You are God, but you do not know it.
Q: If I am God, then the world I create must be true.
M: It is true in essence, but not in appearance. Be free of desires and fears and at once your vision will clear and you shall see all things as they are. Or, you may say that the satvoguna creates the world, the tamoguna obscures it and the rajoguna distorts.
Q: This does not tell me much, because if I ask what are the gunas, the answer will be: what creates -- what obscures -- what distorts. The fact remains -- something unbelievable happened to me, and I do not understand what has happened, how and why.
M: Well, wonder is the dawn of wisdom. To be steadily and consistently wondering is sadhana.
Q: I am in a world which I do not understand and therefore, I am afraid of it. This is everybody's experience.
M: You have separated yourself from the world, therefore it pains and frightens you. Discover your mistake and be free of fear.
Q: You are asking me to give up the world, while I want to be happy in the world.
M: If you ask for the impossible, who can help you? The limited is bound to be painful and pleasant in turns. If you seek real happiness, unassailable and unchangeable, you must leave the world with its pains and pleasures behind you.
Q: How is it done?
M: Mere physical renunciation is only a token of earnestness, but earnestness alone does not liberate. There must be understanding which comes with alert perceptivity, eager enquiry and deep investigation. You must work relentlessly for your salvation from sin and sorrow.
Q: What is sin?
M: All that binds you.
Appendix-1: Nisarga Yoga
In the humble abode of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, but for the electric lights and the noises of the street traffic, one would not know in which period of human history one dwells. There is an atmosphere of timelessness about his tiny room; the subjects discussed are timeless -- valid for all times; the way they are expounded and examined is also timeless; the centuries, millennia and yugas fall off and one deals with matters immensely ancient and eternally new.
The discussions held and teachings given would have been the same ten thousand years ago and will be the same ten thousand years hence. There will always be conscious beings wondering about the fact of their being conscious and enquiring into its cause and aim. Whence am I? Who am I? Whither am I? Such questions have no beginning and no end. And it is crucial to know the answers, for without a full understanding of oneself, both in time and in timelessness, life is but a dream, imposed on us by powers we do not know, for purposes we cannot grasp.
Maharaj is not a learned. There is no erudition behind his homely Marathi; authorities he does not quote, scriptures are rarely mentioned; the astonishingly rich spiritual heritage of India is implicit in him rather than explicit. No rich Ashram was ever built around him and most of his followers are humble working people cherishing the opportunity of spending an hour with him from time to time.
Simplicity and humility are the keynotes of his life and teachings; physically and inwardly he never takes the higher seat; the essence of being on which he talks, he sees in others as clearly as he sees it in himself. He admits that while he is aware of it, others are not yet, but this difference is temporary and of little importance, except to the mind and its ever-changing content. When asked about his Yoga, he says he has none to offer, no system t propound, no theology, cosmology, psychology or philosophy. He knows the real nature -- his own and his listeners’ -- and he points it out. The listener cannot see it because he cannot see the obvious, simply and directly. All he knows, he knows with his mind, stimulated with the senses. That the mind is a sense in itself, he does not even suspect.
The Nisarga Yoga, the ‘natural’ Yoga of Maharaj, is disconcertingly simple -- the mind, which is all- becoming, must recognise and penetrate its own being, not as being this or that, here or there, then or now, but just as timeless being.
This timeless being is the source of both life and consciousness. In terms of time, space and causation it is all-powerful, being the causeless cause; all-pervading, eternal, in the sense of being beginningless, endless and ever-present. Uncaused, it is free; all-pervading, it knows; undivided, it is happy. It lives, it loves, and it has endless fun, shaping and re-shaping the universe. Every man has it, every man is it, but not all know themselves as they are, and therefore identify themselves with the name and shape of their bodies and the contents of their consciousness.
To rectify this misunderstanding of one’s reality, the only way is to take full cognisance of the ways of one’s mind and to turn it into an instrument of self-discovery. The mind was originally a tool in the struggle for biological survival. It had to learn the laws and ways of Nature working hand-in-hand can raise life to a higher level. But, in the process the mind acquired the art of symbolic thinking and communication, the art and skill of language. Words became important. Ideas and abstractions acquired an appearance of reality, the conceptual replaced the real, with the result that man now lives in a verbal world, crowded with words and dominated by words.
Obviously, for dealing with things and people words are exceedingly useful. But they make us live in a world totally symbolic and, therefore, unreal. To break out from this prison of the verbal mind into reality, one must be able to shift one’s focus from the word to what it refers to, the thing itself.
The most commonly used word and most pregnant with feelings, and ideas is the word ‘I’. Mind tends to include in it anything and everything, the body as well as the Absolute. In practice it stands as a pointer to an experience which is direct, immediate and immensely significant. To be, and to know that one is, is most important. And to be of interest, a thing must be related to one’s conscious existence, which is the focal point of every desire and fear. For, the ultimate aim of every desire is to enhance and intensify this sense of existence, while all fear is, in its essence, the fear of self- extinction.
To delve into the sense of ‘I’ -- so real and vital -- in order to reach its source is the core of Nisarga Yoga. Not being continuous, the sense of ‘I’ must have a source from which it flows and to which it returns. This timeless source of conscious being is what Maharaj calls the self-nature, self-being, swarupa.
As to the methods of realising one’s supreme identity with self-being, Maharaj is peculiarly non- committal. He says that each has his own way to reality, and that there can be no general rule. But, for all the gateway to reality, by whatever road one arrives to it, is the sense of ‘I am’. It is through grasping the full import of the ‘I am’, and going beyond it to its source, that one can realise the supreme state, which is also the primordial and the ultimate. The difference between the beginning and the end lies only in the mind. When the mind is dark or turbulent, the source is not perceived. When it is clear and luminous, it becomes a faithful reflection of the source. The source is always the same -- beyond darkness and light, beyond life and death, beyond the conscious and the unconscious.
This dwelling on the sense ‘I am’ is the simple, easy and natural Yoga, the Nisarga Yoga. There is no secrecy in it and no dependence; no preparation is required and no initiation. Whoever is puzzled by his very existence as a conscious being and earnestly wants to find his own source, can grasp the ever-present sense of ‘I am’ and dwell on it assiduously and patiently, till the clouds obscuring the mind dissolve and the heart of being is seen in all its glory.
The Nisarga Yoga, when persevered in and brought to its fruition, results in one becoming conscious and active in what one always was unconsciously and passively. There is no difference in kind -- only in manner -- the difference between a lump of gold and a glorious ornament shaped out of it. Life goes on, but it is spontaneous and free, meaningful and happy.
Maharaj most lucidly describes this natural, spontaneous state, but as the man born blind cannot visualise light and colours, so is the unenlightened mind unable to give meaning to such descriptions. Expressions like dispassionate happiness, affectionate detachment, timelessness and causelessness of things and being -- they all sound strange and cause no response. Intuitively we feel they have a deep meaning, and they even create in us a strange longing for the ineffable, a forerunner of things to come, but that is all. As Maharaj puts it: words are pointers, they show the direction but they will not come along with us. Truth is the fruit of earnest action, words merely point the way.
Appendix-2: Navnath Sampradaya
Hinduism comprises numerous sects, creeds and cults and the origin of most of them is lost in antiquity. The Nath Sampradaya, later known as the Navnath Sampradaya, is one of them. Some scholars are of the view that this sect originated with the teachings of the mythical Rishi Dattatreya, who is believed to be a combined incarnation of the holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The unique spiritual attainments of this legendary figure are mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana, the Mahabharata and also in some later Upanishads. Others hold that it is an offshoot of the Hatha Yoga.
Whatever be its origin, the teachings of the Nath Sampradaya have, over the centuries, become labyrinthine in complexity and have assumed different forms in different parts of India. Some Gurus of the Sampradaya lay stress on bhakti, devotion; others on jnana, knowledge; still others on yoga, the union with the ultimate. In the fourteenth century we find Svatmarama Svami, the great Hathayogin, bemoaning ‘the darkness arising out of multiplicity of opinions’ to displel which he lit the lamp of his famous work Hathayogapradipika.
According to some learned commentators, the Nath Gurus propound that the entire creation is born out of nada (sound), the divine principle, and bindu (light), the physical principle and the Supreme Reality from which these two principles emanate is Shiva. Liberation according to them is merging of the soul into Shiva through the process of laya, dissolution of the human ego, the sense of I-ness.
In the day-to-day instructions to their devotees, however, the Nath Gurus seldom refer to the metaphysics discovered by the scholars in their teachings. In fact their approach is totally non- metaphysical, simple and direct. While the chanting of sacred hyms and devotional songs as well as the worship of the idols is a traditional feature of the sect, its teaching emphasises that the Supreme Reality can be realised only within the heart.
The Nath Sampradaya came to be known as Navnath Sampradaya when sometime in the remote past, the followers of the sect chose nine of their early Gurus as exemplars of their creed. Bur there is no unanimity regarding the names of these nine Masters. The most widely accepted list however is as follows:
Of these nine Masters, Gahaninath and Revananath had large followings in the southern part of India, including Maharashtra, the state to which Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj belongs. Revananath is said to have founded a sub-sect of his own and chose Kadasiddha as his chief disciple and successor. The latter initiated Lingajangam Maharaj and Bhausahib Maharaj and entrusted to their care his Ashram and the propagation of his teaching. Bhausahib Maharaj later established what came to be known as Inchegeri Sampradaya, a new movement within the traditional fold. Among his disciples were Amburao Maharaj, Girimalleshwar Maharaj, Siddharameshwar Maharaj and the noted philosopher Dr. R. D. Renade. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj is the direct disciple and successor of Siddharameshwar Maharaj.
It may be mentioned here that, though officially the current Guru of the Inchegeri branch of the Navnath Sampradaya, Sri Nisargadatta does not seem to attach much importance to sects, cults and creeds, including his own. In answer to a questioner whi wished to join the Navnath Sampradaya he said: "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... 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 upon what you take yourself to be. Know yourself correctly. There is no substitute for self-knowledge"
The teaching of Nath Sampradaya offers the seeker the royal road to liberation, a road in which all the four by-lanes of bhakti, jnana, karma and dhyana of Lord Shiva, in his hagiography, entitled Nathlingamrita, claims that the path shown by the Nath sect is the best of all and it leads to direct liberation.