I Am That
28. All Suffering is Born of Desire
Questioner: I come from a far off country. I had some inner experiences on my own and I would like to compare notes.
Maharaj: By all means. Do you know yourself?
Q: I know that I am not the body. Nor am I the mind.
M: What makes you say so?
Q: I do not feel I am in the body. I seem to be all over the place everywhere. As to the mind, I can switch it on and off, so to say. This makes me feel I am not the mind.
M: When you feel yourself everywhere in the world, do you remain separate from the world? Or, are you the world?
Q: Both. Sometimes I feel myself to be neither mind nor body, but one single all-seeing eye. When I go deeper into it, I find myself to be all I see and the world and myself become one.
M: Very well. What about desires? Do you have any?
Q: Yes, they come, short and superficial.
M: And what do you do about them?
Q: What can I do? They come, they go. l look at them. Sometimes I see my body and my mind engaged in fulfilling them.
M: Whose desires are being fulfilled?
Q: They are a part of the world in which I live. They are just as trees and clouds are there.
M: Are they not a sign of some imperfection?
Q: Why should they be? They are as they are, and I am as I am. How can the appearance and disappearance of desires affect me? Of course, they affect the shape and content of the mind.
M: Very well. What is your work?
Q: I am a probation officer.
M: What does it mean?
Q: Juvenile offenders are let off on probation and there are special officers to watch their behaviour and to help them get training and find work.
M: Must you work?
Q: Who works? Work happens to take place.
M: Do you need to work?
Q: I need it for the sake of money. I like it, because it puts me in touch with living beings.
M: What do you need them for?
Q: They may need me and it is their destinies that made me take up this work. It is one life, after all.
M: How did you come to your present state?
Q: Sri Ramana Maharshi's teachings have put me on my way. Then I met one Douglas Harding who helped me by showing me how to work on the 'Who am I ?'
M: Was it sudden or gradual?
Q: It was quite sudden. Like something quite forgotten, coming back into one's mind. Or, like a sudden flash of understanding. 'How simple', I said, 'How simple; I'm not what I thought I am! I'm neither the perceived nor the perceiver; I'm the perceiving only'.
M: Not even the perceiving, but that which makes all this possible.
Q: What is love?
M: When the sense of distinction and separation is absent, you may call it love.
Q: Why so much stress on love between man and woman?
M: Because the element of happiness in it is so prominent.
Q: Is it not so in all love?
M: Not necessarily. Love may cause pain. You call it then compassion.
Q: What is happiness?
M: Harmony between the inner and the outer is happiness. On the other hand, self-identification with the outer causes is suffering.
Q: How does self-identification happen?
M: The self by its nature knows itself only. For lack of experience whatever it perceives it takes to be itself. Battered, it learns to look out (viveka) and to live alone (vairagya). When right behaviour (uparati), becomes normal, a powerful inner urge (mukmukshutva) makes it seek its source. The candle of the body is lighted and all becomes clear and bright.
Q: What is the real cause of suffering?
M: Self-identification with the limited (vyaktitva). Sensations as such, however strong, do not cause suffering. It is the mind bewildered by wrong ideas, addicted to thinking: 'I am this' 'I am that', that fears loss and craves gain and suffers when frustrated.
Q: A friend of mine used to have horrible dreams night after night. Going to sleep would terrorise him. Nothing could help him.
M: Company of the truly good (satsang) would help him.
Q: Life itself is a nightmare.
M: Noble friendship (satsang) is the supreme remedy for all ills, physical and mental.
Q: Generally one cannot find such friendship.
M: Seek within. Your own self is your best friend.
Q: Why is life so full of contradictions?
M: It serves to break down mental pride. We must realise how poor and powerless we are. As long as we delude ourselves by what we imagine ourselves to be, to know, to have, to do, we are in a sad plight indeed. Only in complete self-negation there is a chance to discover our real being.
Q: Why so much stress on self-negation?
M: As much as on self-realisation. The false self must be abandoned before the real self can be found.
Q: The self you choose to call false is to me most distressingly real. It is the only self I know. What you call the real self is a mere concept, a way of speaking, a creature of the mind, an attractive ghost. My daily self is not a beauty, I admit, but it is my own and only self. You say I am, or have, another self. Do you see it -- is it a reality to you, or do you want me to believe what you yourself don't see?
M: Don't jump to conclusions rashly. The concrete need not be the real, the conceived need not be false. Perceptions based on sensations and shaped by memory imply a perceiver, whose nature you never cared to examine. Give it your full attention, examine it with loving care and you will discover heights and depths of being which you did not dream of, engrossed as you are in your puny image of yourself.
Q: I must be in the right mood to examine myself fruitfully.
M: You must be serious, intent, truly interested. You must be full of goodwill for yourself.
Q: I am selfish all right.
M: You are not. You are all the time destroying yourself, and your own, by serving strange gods, inimical and false. By all means be selfish -- the right way. Wish yourself well, labour at what is good for you. Destroy all that stands between you and happiness. Be all -- love all -- be happy -- make happy. No happiness is greater.
Q: Why is there so much suffering in love?
M: All suffering is born of desire. True love is never frustrated. How can the sense of unity be frustrated? What can be frustrated is the desire for expression. Such desire is of the mind. As with all things mental, frustration is inevitable.
Q: What is the place of sex in love?
M: Love is a state of being. Sex is energy. Love is wise, sex is blind. Once the true nature of love and sex is understood there will be no conflict or confusion.
Q: There is so much sex without love.
M: Without love all is evil. Life itself without love is evil.
Q: What can make me love?
M: You are love itself -- when you are not afraid.
29. Living is Life’s only Purpose
Questioner: What does it mean to fail in Yoga? Who is a failure in Yoga (yoga bhrashta)?
Maharaj: It is only a question of incompletion. He who could not complete his Yoga for some reason is called failed in Yoga. Such failure is only temporary, for there can be no defeat in Yoga. This battle is always won, for it is a battle between the true and the false. The false has no chance.
Q: Who fails? The person (vyakti) or the self (vyakta)?
M: The question is wrongly put. There is no question of failure, neither in the short run nor in the long. It is like travelling a long and arduous road in an unknown country. Of all the innumerable steps there is only the last which brings you to your destination. Yet you will not consider all previous steps as failures. Each brought you nearer to your goal, even when you had to turn back to by-pass an obstacle. In reality each step brings you to your goal, because to be always on the move, learning, discovering, unfolding, is your eternal destiny. Living is life's only purpose. The self does not identify itself with success or failure -- the very idea of becoming this or that is unthinkable. The self understands that success and failure are relative and related, that they are the very warp and weft of life. Learn from both and go beyond. If you have not learnt, repeat.
Q: What am I to learn?
M: To live without self-concern. For this you must know your own true being (swarupa) as indomitable, fearless, ever victorious. Once you know with absolute certainty that nothing can trouble you but your own imagination, you come to disregard your desires and fears, concepts and ideas and live by truth alone.
Q: What may be the reason that some people succeed and others fail in Yoga? Is it destiny or character, or just accident?
M: Nobody ever fails in Yoga. It is all a matter of the rate of progress. It is slow in the beginning and rapid in the end. When one is fully matured, realisation is explosive. It takes place spontaneously, or at the slightest hint. The quick is not better than the slow. Slow ripening and rapid flowering alternate. Both are natural and right.
Yet, all this is so in the mind only. As I see it, there is really nothing of the kind. In the great mirror of consciousness images arise and disappear and only memory gives them continuity. And memory is material -- destructible, perishable, transient. On such flimsy foundations we build a sense of personal existence -- vague, intermittent, dream like. This vague persuasion: 'I-am-so-and-so' obscures the changeless state of pure awareness and makes us believe that we are born to suffer and to die.
Q: Just as a child cannot help growing, so does a man, compelled by nature, make progress. Why exert oneself? Where is the need of Yoga?
M: There is progress all the time. Everything contributes to progress. But this is the progress of ignorance. The circles of ignorance may be ever widening, yet it remains a bondage all the same. In due course a Guru appears to teach and inspire us to practice Yoga and a ripening takes place as a result of which the immemorial night of ignorance dissolves before the rising sun of wisdom. But in reality nothing happened. The sun is always there, there is no night to it; the mind blinded by the 'I am the body' idea spins out endlessly its thread of illusion.
Q: If all is a part of a natural process, where is the need of effort?
M: Even effort is a part of it. When ignorance becomes obstinate and hard and the character gets perverted, effort and the pain of it become inevitable. In complete obedience to nature there is no effort. The seed of spiritual life grows in silence and in darkness until its appointed hour.
Q: We come across some great people, who, in their old age, become childish, petty, quarrelsome and spiteful. How could they deteriorate so much?
M: They were not perfect Yogis, having their bodies under complete control. Or, they might not have cared to protect their bodies from the natural decay. One must not draw conclusions without understanding all the factors. Above all, one must not make judgements of inferiority or superiority. Youthfulness is more a matter of vitality (prana) than of wisdom (jnana).
Q: One may get old, but why should one lose all alertness and discrimination?
M: Consciousness and unconsciousness, while in the body depend on the condition of the brain. But the self is beyond both, beyond the brain, beyond the mind. The fault of the instrument is no reflection on its user.
Q: I was told that a realised man will never do anything unseemly. He will always behave in an exemplary way.
M: Who sets the example? Why should a liberated man necessarily follow conventions? The moment he becomes predictable, he cannot be free. His freedom lies in his being free to fulfil the need of the moment, to obey the necessity of the situation. Freedom to do what one likes is really bondage, while being free to do what one must, what is right, is real freedom.
Q: Still there must be some way of making out who has realised and who has not. If one is indistinguishable from the other, of what use is he?
M: He who knows himself has no doubts about it. Nor does he care whether others recognise his state or not. Rare is the realised man who discloses his realisation and fortunate are those who have met him, for he does it for their abiding welfare.
Q: When one looks round, one is appalled by the volume of unnecessary suffering that is going on. People who should be helped are not getting help. Imagine a big hospital ward full of incurables, tossing and moaning. Were you given the authority to kill them all and end their torture, would you not do so?
M: I would leave it to them to decide.
Q: But if their destiny is to suffer? How can you interfere with destiny?
M: Their destiny is what happens. There is no thwarting of destiny. You mean to say everybody's life is totally determined at his birth? What a strange idea! Were it so, the power that determines would see to it that nobody should suffer.
Q: What about cause and effect?
M: Each moment contains the whole of the past and creates the whole of the future.
Q: But past and future exist?
M: In the mind only. Time is in the mind, space is in the mind. The law of cause and effect is also a way of thinking. In reality all is here and now and all is one. Multiplicity and diversity are in the mind only.
Q: Still, you are in favour of relieving suffering, even through destruction of the incurably diseased body.
M: Again, you look from outside while I look from within. I do not see a sufferer, I am the sufferer. I know him from within and do what is right spontaneously and effortlessly. I follow no rules nor lay down rules. I flow with life -- faithfully and irresistibly.
Q: Still you seem to be a very practical man in full control of your immediate surroundings.
M: What else do you expect me to be? A misfit?
Q: Yet you cannot help another much.
M: Surely, I can help. You too can help. Everybody can help. But the suffering is all the time recreated. Man alone can destroy in himself the roots of pain. Others can only help with the pain, but not with its cause, which is the abysmal stupidity of mankind.
Q: Will this stupidity ever come to an end?
M: In man -- of course. Any moment. In humanity -- as we know it -- after very many years. In creation -- never, for creation itself is rooted in ignorance; matter itself is ignorance. Not to know, and not to know that one does not know, is the cause of endless suffering.
Q: We are told of the great avatars, the saviours of the world.
M: Did they save? They have come and gone -- and the world plods on. Of course, they did a lot and opened new dimensions in the human mind. But to talk of saving the world is an exaggeration.
Q: Is there no salvation for the world?
M: Which world do you want to save? The world of your own projection? Save it yourself. My world? Show me my world and I shall deal with it. I am not aware of any world separate from myself, which I am free to save or not to save. What business have you with saving the world, when all the world needs is to be saved from you? Get out of the picture and see whether there is anything left to save.
Q: You seem to stress the point that without you your world would not have existed and therefore the only thing you can do for it is to wind up the show. This is not a way out. Even if the world were of my own creation, this knowledge does not save it. It only explains it. The question remains: why did I create such a wretched world and what can I do to change it? You seem to say: forget it all and admire your own glory. Surely, you don't mean it. The description of a disease and its causes does not cure it. What we need is the right medicine.
M: The description and causation are the remedy for a disease caused by obtuseness and stupidity. Just like a deficiency disease is cured through the supply of the missing factor, so are the diseases of living cured by a good dose of intelligent detachment. (viveka-vairagya).
Q: You cannot save the world by preaching counsels of perfection. People are as they are. Must they suffer?
M: As long as they are as they are, there is no escape from suffering. Remove the sense of separateness and there will be no conflict.
Q: A message in print may be paper and ink only. It is the text that matters. By analysing the world into elements and qualities we miss the most important -- its meaning. Your reduction of everything to dream disregards the difference between the dream of an insect and the dream of a poet. All is dream, granted. But not all are equal.
M: The dreams are not equal, but the dreamer is one. I am the insect. I am the poet -- in dream. But in reality I am neither. I am beyond all dreams. I am the light in which all dreams appear and disappear. I am both inside and outside the dream. Just as a man having headache knows the ache and also knows that he is not the ache, so do I know the dream, myself dreaming and myself not dreaming -- all at the same time. I am what I am before, during and after the dream. But what I see in dream, l am not.
Q: It is all a matter of imagination. One imagines that one is dreaming, another imagines one is not dreaming. Are not both the same?
M: The same and not the same. Not dreaming, as an interval between two dreams, is of course, a Part of dreaming. Not dreaming as a steady hold on, and timeless abidance in reality has nothing to do with dreaming. In that sense I never dream, nor ever shall.
Q: If both dream and escape from dream are imaginings, what is the way out?
M: There is no need of a way out! Don't you see that a way out is also a part of the dream? All you have to do is to see the dream as dream.
Q: If I start the practice of dismissing everything as a dream where will it lead me?
M: Wherever it leads you, it will be a dream. The very idea of going beyond the dream is illusory. Why go anywhere? Just realise that you are dreaming a dream you call the world, and stop looking for ways out. The dream is not your problem. Your problem is that you like one part of your dream and not another. Love all, or none of it, and stop complaining. When you have seen the dream as a dream, you have done all that needs be done.
Q: Is dreaming caused by thinking?
M: Everything is a play of ideas. In the state free from ideation (nirvikalpa samadhi) nothing is perceived. The root idea is: 'I am'. It shatters the state of pure consciousness and is followed by the innumerable sensations and perceptions, feeling and ideas which in their totality constitute God and His world. The 'I am' remains as the witness, but it is by the will of God that everything happens.
Q: Why not by my will?
M: Again you have split yourself -- into God and witness. Both are one.
30. You are Free NOW
Questioner: There are so many theories about the nature of man and universe. The creation theory, the illusion theory, the dream theory -- any number of them. Which is true?
Maharaj: All are true, all are false. You can pick up whichever you like best.
Q: You seem to favour the dream theory.
M: These are all ways of putting words together. Some favour one way, some favour another. Theories are neither right nor wrong. They are attempts at explaining the inexplicable. It is not the theory that matters, but the way it is being tested. It is the testing of the theory that makes it fruitful. Experiment with any theory you like -- if you are truly earnest and honest, the attainment of reality will be yours. As a living being you are caught in an untenable and painful situation and you are seeking a way out. You are being offered several plans of your prison, none quite true. But they all are of some value, only if you are in dead earnest. It is the earnestness that liberates and not the theory.
Q: Theory may be misleading and earnestness -- blind.
M: Your sincerity will guide you. Devotion to the goal of freedom and perfection will make you abandon all theories and systems and live by wisdom, intelligence and active love. Theories may be good as starting points, but must be abandoned, the sooner -- the better.
Q: There is a Yogi who says that for realisation the eightfold Yoga is not necessary; that will-power alone will do. It is enough to concentrate on the goal with full confidence in the power of pure will to obtain effortlessly and quickly what others take decades to achieve.
M: Concentration, full confidence, pure will! With such assets no wonder one attains in no time. This Yoga of will is all right for the mature seeker, who has shed all desires but one. After all, what is will but steadiness of heart and mind. Given such steadfastness all can be achieved.
Q: I feel the Yogi did not mean mere steadiness of purpose, resulting in ceaseless pursuit and application. He meant that with will fixed on the goal no pursuit or applications are needed. The mere fact of willing attracts its object.
M: Whatever name you give it: will, or steady purpose, or one-pointedness of the mind, you come back to earnestness, sincerity, honesty. When you are in dead earnest, you bend every incident, every second of your life to your purpose. You do not waste time and energy on other things. You are totally dedicated, call it will, or love, or plain honesty. We are complex beings, at war within and without. We contradict ourselves all the time, undoing today the work of yesterday. No wonder we are stuck. A little of integrity would make a lot of difference.
Q: What is more powerful, desire or destiny?
M: Desire shapes destiny.
Q: And destiny shapes desire. My desires are conditioned by heredity and circumstances, by opportunities and accidents, by what we call destiny.
M: Yes, you may say so.
Q: At what point am I free to desire what I want to desire?
M: You are free now. What is it that you want to desire? Desire it.
Q: Of course I am free to desire, but I am not free to act on my desire. Other urges will lead me astray. My desire is not strong enough, even if it has my approval. Other desires, which I disapprove of are stronger.
M: Maybe you are deceiving yourself. Maybe you are giving expression to your real desires and the ones you approve of are kept on the surface for the sake of respectability.
Q: It may be as you say, but this is another theory. The fact is that I do not feel free to desire what I think I should, and when I seem to desire rightly, I do not act accordingly.
M: It is all due to weakness of the mind and disintegration of the brain. Collect and strengthen your mind and you will find that your thoughts and feelings, words and actions will align themselves in the direction of your will.
Q: Again a counsel of perfection! To integrate and strengthen the mind is not an easy task! How does one begin?
M: You can start only from where you are. You are here and now, you cannot get out of here and now.
Q: But what can I do here and now?
M: You can be aware of your being -- here and now.
Q: That is all?
M: That is all. There is nothing more to it.
Q: All my waking and dreaming I am conscious of myself. It does not help me much.
M: You were aware of thinking, feeling, doing. You were not aware of your being.
Q: What is the new factor you want me to bring in?
M: The attitude of pure witnessing, of watching the events without taking part in them.
Q: What will it do to me?
M: Weak-mindedness is due to lack of intelligence, of understanding, which again is the result of non-awareness. By striving for awareness you bring your mind together and strengthen it.
Q: I may be fully aware of what is going on, and yet quite unable to influence it in any way.
M: You are mistaken. What is going on is a projection of your mind. A weak mind cannot control its own projections. Be aware, therefore, of your mind and its projections. You cannot control what you do not know. On the other hand, knowledge gives power. In practice it is very simple. To control yourself -- know yourself.
Q: Maybe, I can come to control myself, but shall I be able to deal with the chaos in the world?
M: There is no chaos in the world, except the chaos which your mind creates. It is self-created in the sense that at its very centre is the false idea of oneself as a thing different and separate from other things. In reality you are not a thing, nor separate. You are the infinite potentiality; the inexhaustible possibility. Because you are, all can be. The universe is but a partial manifestation of your limitless capacity to become.
Q: I find that I am totally motivated by desire for pleasure and fear of pain. However noble my desire and justified my fear, pleasure and pain are the two poles between which my life oscillates.
M: Go to the source of both pain and pleasure, of desire and fear. Observe, investigate, try to understand.
Q: Desire and fear both are feelings caused by physical or mental factors. They are there, easily observable. But why are they there? Why do l desire pleasure and fear pain?
M: Pleasure and pain are states of mind. As long as you think you are the mind, or rather, the body- mind, you are bound to raise such questions.
Q: And when I realise that I am not the body, shall I be free from desire and fear?
M: As long as there is a body and a mind to protect the body, attractions and repulsions will operate. They will be there, out in the field of events, but will not concern you. The focus of your attention will be elsewhere. You will not be distracted.
Q: Still they will be there. Will one never be completely free?
M: You are completely free even now. What you call destiny (karma) is but the result of your own will to live. How strong is this will you can judge by the universal horror of death.
Q: People die willingly quite often.
M: Only when the alternative is worse than death. But such readiness to die flows from the same source as the will to live, a source deeper even than life itself. To be a living being is not the ultimate state; there is something beyond, much more wonderful, which is neither being nor non- being, neither living nor not-living. It is a state of pure awareness, beyond the limitations of space and time. Once the illusion that the body-mind is oneself is abandoned, death loses its terror, it becomes a part of living.
31. Do not Undervalue Attention
Questioner: As I look at you, you seem to be a poor man with very limited means, facing all the problems of poverty and old age, like everybody else.
Maharaj: Were I very rich, what difference would it make? I am what I am. What else can I be? I am neither rich nor poor, I am myself.
Q: Yet, you are experiencing pleasure and pain.
M: I am experiencing these in consciousness, but I am neither consciousness, nor its content.
Q: You say that in our real being we are all equal. How is it that your experience is so different from ours.
M: My actual experience is not different. It is my evaluation and attitude that differ. I see the same world as you do, but not the same way. There is nothing mysterious about it. Everybody sees the world through the idea he has of himself. As you think yourself to be, so you think the world to be. If you imagine yourself as separate from the world, the world will appear as separate from you and you will experience desire and fear. I do not see the world as separate from me and so there is nothing for me to desire, or fear.
Q: You are a point of light in the world. Not everybody is.
M: There is absolutely no difference between me and others, except in my knowing myself as I am. I am all. I know it for certain and you do not.
Q: So we differ all the same.
M: No, we do not. The difference is only in the mind and temporary. I was like you, you will be like me.
Q: God made a most diversified world.
M: The diversity is in you only. See yourself as you are and you will see the world as it is -- a single block of reality, indivisible, indescribable. Your own creative power projects upon it a picture and all your questions refer to the picture.
Q: A Tibetan Yogi wrote that God creates the world for a purpose and runs it according to a plan. The purpose is good and the plan is most wise.
M: All this is temporary, while I am dealing with the eternal. Gods and their universes come and go, avatars follow each other in endless succession, and in the end we are back at the source. I talk only of the timeless source of all the gods with all their universes, past, present and future.
Q: Do you know them all? Do you remember them?
M: When a few boys stage a play for fun, what is there to see and to remember?
Q: Why is half humanity male and half female?
M: For their happiness. The impersonal (avyakta) becomes the personal (vyakta) for the sake of happiness in relationship. By the grace of my Guru I can look with equal eye on the impersonal as well as the personal. Both are one to me. In life the personal merges in the impersonal.
Q: How does the personal emerge from the impersonal?
M: The two are but aspects of one Reality. It is not correct to talk of one preceding the other. All these ideas belong to the waking state.
Q: What brings in the waking state?
M: At the root of all creation lies desire. Desire and imagination foster and reinforce each other. The fourth state (turiya) is a state of pure witnessing, detached awareness, passionless and wordless. It is like space, unaffected by whatever it contains. Bodily and mental troubles do not reach it -- they are outside, 'there', while the witness is always 'here'.
Q: What is real, the subjective or the objective? I am inclined to believe that the objective universe is the real one and my subjective psyche is changeful and transient. You seem to claim reality for your inner, subjective states and deny all reality to the concrete, external world.
M: Both the subjective and the objective are changeful and transient. There is nothing real about them. Find the permanent in the fleeting, the one constant factor in every experience.
Q: What is this constant factor?
M: My giving it various names and pointing it out in many ways will not help you much, unless you have the capacity to see. A dim-sighted man will not see the parrot on the branch of a tree, however much you may prompt him to look. At best he will see your pointed finger. First purify your vision, learn to see instead of staring, and you will perceive the parrot. Also you must be eager to see. You need both clarity and earnestness for self-knowledge. You need maturity of heart and mind, which comes through earnest application in daily life of whatever little you have understood. There is no such thing as compromise in Yoga. If you want to sin, sin whole heartedly and openly. Sins too have their lessons to teach the earnest sinner, as virtues -- the earnest saint. It is the mixing up the two that is so disastrous. Nothing can block you so effectively as compromise, for it shows lack of earnestness, without which nothing can be done.
Q: I approve of austerity, but in practice I am all for luxury. The habit of chasing pleasure and shunning pain is so ingrained in me, that all my good intentions, quite alive on the level of theory, find no roots in my day-to-day life. To tell me that I am not honest does not help me, for I just do not know how to make myself honest.
M: You are neither honest nor dishonest -- giving names to mental states is good only for expressing your approval or disapproval. The problem is not yours -- it is your mind's only. Begin by disassociating yourself from your mind. Resolutely remind yourself that you are not the mind and that its problems are not yours.
Q: I may go on telling myself: 'I am not the mind, I am not concerned with its problems,' but the mind remains and its problems remain just as they were. Now, please do not tell me that it is because I am not earnest enough and I should be more earnest! I know it and admit it and only ask you -- how is it done?
M: At least you are asking! Good enough, for a start. Go on pondering, wondering, being anxious to find a way. Be conscious of yourself, watch your mind, give it your full attention. Don't look for quick results; there may be none within your noticing. Unknown to you, your psyche will undergo a change, there will be more clarity in your thinking, charity in your feeling, purity in your behaviour. You need not aim at these -- you will witness the change all the same. For, what you are now is the result of inattention and what you become will be the fruit of attention.
Q: Why should mere attention make all the difference?
M: So far your life was dark and restless (tamas and rajas). Attention, alertness, awareness, clarity, liveliness, vitality, are all manifestations of integrity, oneness with your true nature (sattva). It is in the nature of sattva to reconcile and neutralise tamas and rajas and rebuild the personality in accordance with the true nature of the self. Sattva is the faithful servant of the self; ever attentive and obedient.
Q: And I shall come to it through mere attention?
M: Do not undervalue attention. It means interest and also love. To know, to do, to discover, or to create you must give your heart to it -- which means attention. All the blessings flow from it.
Q: You advise us to concentrate on 'I am'. Is this too a form of attention?
M: What else? Give your undivided attention to the most important in your life -- yourself. Of your personal universe you are the centre -- without knowing the centre what else can you know?
Q: But how can I know myself? To know myself I must be away from myself. But what is away from myself cannot be myself. So, it looks that I cannot know myself, only what I take to be myself.
M: Quite right. As you cannot see your face, but only its reflection in the mirror, so you can know only your image reflected in the stainless mirror of pure awareness.
Q: How am I to get such stainless mirror?
M: Obviously, by removing stains. See the stains and remove them. The ancient teaching is fully valid.
Q: What is seeing and what is removing?
M: The nature of the perfect mirror is such that you cannot see it. Whatever you can see is bound to be a stain. Turn away from it, give it up, know it as unwanted.
Q: All perceivables, are they stains?
M: All are stains.
Q: The entire world is a stain.
M: Yes, it is.
Q: How awful! So, the universe is of no value?
M: It is of tremendous value. By going beyond it you realise yourself.
Q: But why did it come into being in the first instance?
M: You will know it when it ends.
Q: Will it ever end?
M: Yes, for you.
Q: When did it begin?
Q: When will it end?
Q: It does not end now?
M: You don't let it.
Q: I want to let it.
M: You don't. All your life is connected with it. Your past and future, your desires and fears, all have their roots in the world. Without the world where are you, who are you?
Q: But that is exactly what I came to find out.
M: . And I am telling you exactly this: find a foothold beyond and all will be clear and easy.
32. Life is the Supreme Guru
Questioner: We two came from far off countries; one of us is British, the other American. The world in which we were born is falling apart and, being young, we are concerned. The old people hope they will die their own death, but the young have no such hope. Some of us may refuse to kill, but none can refuse to be killed. Can we hope to set the world right within our lifetime?
Maharaj: What makes you think that the world is going to perish?
Q: The instruments of destruction have become unbelievably potent. Also, our very productivity has become destructive of nature and of our cultural and social values.
M: You are talking of the present times. It has been so everywhere and always. But the distressing situation may be temporary and local. Once over, it will be forgotten.
Q: The scale of the impending catastrophe is unbelievably big. We live in the midst of an explosion.
M: Each man suffers alone and dies alone. Numbers are irrelevant. There is as much death when a million die as when one perishes.
Q: Nature kills by the millions, but this does not frighten me. There may be tragedy or mystery in it, but no cruelty. What horrifies me is man-made suffering, destruction and desolation. Nature is magnificent in its doings and undoings. But there is meanness and madness in the acts of man.
M: Right. So, it is not suffering and death that are your problem, but the meanness and madness at their root. Is not meanness also a form of madness? And is not madness the misuse of the mind? Humanity's problem lies in this misuse of the mind only. All the treasures of nature and spirit are open to man who will use his mind rightly.
Q: What is the right use of mind?
M: Fear and greed cause the misuse of the mind. The right use of mind is in the service of love, of life, of truth, of beauty.
Q: Easier said than done. Love of truth, of man, goodwill -- what luxury! We need plenty of it to set the world right, but who will provide?
M: You can spend an eternity looking elsewhere for truth and love, intelligence and goodwill, imploring God and man -- all in vain. You must begin in yourself, with yourself -- this is the inexorable law. You cannot change the image without changing the face. First realise that your world is only a reflection of yourself and stop finding fault with the reflection. Attend to yourself, set yourself right -- mentally and emotionally. The physical will follow automatically. You talk so much of reforms: economic, social, political. Leave alone the reforms and mind the reformer. What kind of world can a man create who is stupid, greedy, heartless?
Q: If we have to wait for a change of heart, we shall have to wait indefinitely. Yours is a counsel of perfection, which is also a counsel of despair. When all are perfect, the world will be perfect. What useless truism!
M: I did not say it. I only said: You cannot change the world before changing yourself. I did not say -- before changing everybody. It is neither necessary, nor possible to change others. But if you can change yourself you will find that no other change is needed. To change the picture you merely change the film, you do not attack the cinema screen!
Q: How can you be so sure of yourself? How do you know that what you say is true?
M: It is not of myself that I am sure, I am sure of you. All you need is to stop searching outside what can be found only within. Set your vision right before you operate. You are suffering from acute misapprehension. Clarify your mind, purify your heart, sanctify your life -- this is the quickest way to a change of your world.
Q: So many saints and mystics lived and died. They did not change my world.
M: How could they? Your world is not theirs, nor is their yours.
Q: Surely there is a factual world common to all.
M: The world of things, of energy and matter? Even if there were such a common world of things and forces, it is not the world in which we live. Ours is a world of feelings and ideas, of attractions and repulsions, of scales of values, of motives and incentives, a mental world altogether. Biologically we need very little, our problems are of a different order. Problems created by desires and fears and wrong ideas can be solved only on the level of the mind. You must conquer your own mind and for this you must go beyond it.
Q: What does it mean to go beyond the mind.
M: You have gone beyond the body, haven't you? You do not closely follow your digestion, circulation or elimination. These have become automatic. In the same way the mind should work automatically, without calling for attention. This will not happen unless the mind works faultlessly. We are, most of our time mind and body-conscious, because they constantly call for help. Pain and suffering are only the body and the mind screaming for attention. To go beyond the body you must be healthy: To go beyond the mind, you must have your mind in perfect order. You cannot leave a mess behind and go beyond. The mess will bog you up. 'Pick up your rubbish' seems to be the universal law. And a just law too.
Q: Am I permitted to ask you how did you go beyond the mind?
M: By the grace of my Guru.
Q: What shape his grace took?
M: He told me what is true.
Q: What did he tell you?
M: He told me I am the Supreme Reality.
Q: What did you do about it?
M: I trusted him and remembered it.
Q: Is that all?
M: Yes, I remembered him; I remembered what he said.
Q: You mean to say that this was enough?
M: What more needs be done? It was quite a lot to remember the Guru and his words. My advice to you is even less difficult than this -- just remember yourself. 'I am', is enough to heal your mind and take you beyond. Just have some trust. I don't mislead you. Why should l? Do I want anything from you. I wish you well -- such is my nature. Why should I mislead you? Common sense too will tell you that to fulfil a desire you must keep your mind on it. If you want to know your true nature, you must have yourself in mind all the time, until the secret of your being stands revealed.
Q: Why should self-remembrance bring one to self-realisation?
M: Because they are but two aspects of the same state. Self-remembrance is in the mind, self- realisation is beyond the mind. The image in the mirror is of the face beyond the mirror.
Q: Fair enough. But what is the purpose?
M: To help others, one must be beyond the need of help.
Q: All I want is to be happy.
M: Be happy to make happy.
Q: Let others take care of themselves.
M: Sir, you are not separate. The happiness you cannot share is spurious. Only the shareable is truly desirable.
Q: Right. But do I need a Guru? What you tell me is simple and convincing. I shall remember it. This does not make you my Guru.
M: it is not the worship of a person that is crucial, but the steadiness and depth of your devotion to the task. Life itself is the Supreme Guru; be attentive to its lessons and obedient to its commands. When you personalise their source, you have an outer Guru; when you take them from life directly, the Guru is within. Remember, wonder, ponder, live with it, love it, grow into it, grow with it, make it your own -- the word of your Guru, outer or inner. Put in all and you will get all. I was doing it. All my time I was giving to my Guru and to what he told me.
Q: I am a writer by profession. Can you give me some advice, for me specifically?
M: Writing is both a talent and a skill. Grow in talent and develop in skill. Desire what is worth desiring and desire it well. Just like you pick your way in a crowd, passing between people, so you find your way between events, without missing your general direction. It is easy, if you are earnest.
Q: So many times you mention the need of being earnest. But we are not men of single will. We are congeries of desires and needs, instincts and promptings. They crawl over each other, sometimes one, sometimes another dominating, but never for long.
M: There are no needs, desires only.
Q: To eat, to drink, to shelter one's body; to live?
M: The desire to live is the one fundamental desire. All else depends on it.
Q: We live, because we must.
M: We live, because we crave sensory existence.
Q: A thing so universal cannot be wrong.
M: Not wrong, of course. In its own place and time nothing is wrong. But when you are concerned with truth, with reality, you must question everything, your very life. By asserting the necessity of sensory and intellectual experience you narrow down your enquiry to search for comfort.
Q: I seek happiness, not comfort.
M: Beyond comfort of mind and body what happiness do you know?
Q: Is there any other?
M: Find out for yourself. Question every urge, hold no desire legitimate. Empty of possession, physical and mental, free of all self-concern, be open for discovery.
Q: It is a part of Indian spiritual tradition that mere living in the proximity of a saint or sage is conducive to liberation and no other means are needed. Why don't you organise an Ashram so that people could live near you?
M: The moment I create an institution I become its prisoner. As a matter of fact I am available to all. Common roof and food will not make people more welcome. 'Living near' does not mean breathing the same air. It means trusting and obeying, not letting the good intentions of the teacher go to waste. Have your Guru always in your heart and remember his instructions -- this is real abidance with the true. Physical proximity is least important. Make your entire life an expression of your faith and love for your teacher -- this is real dwelling with the Guru.
33. Everything Happens by Itself
Questioner: Does a jnani die?
Maharaj: He is beyond life and death. What we take to be inevitable -- to be born and to die -- appears to him but a way of expressing movement in the Immovable, change in the changeless, end in the endless. To the jnani it is obvious that nothing is born and nothing dies, nothing lasts and nothing changes, all is as it is -- timelessly.
Q: You say the jnani is beyond. Beyond what? Beyond knowledge?
M: Knowledge has its rising and setting. Consciousness comes into being and goes out of being. It is a matter of daily occurrence and observation. We all know that sometimes we are conscious and sometimes not. When we are not conscious, it appears to us as darkness or a blank. But a jnani is aware of himself as neither conscious nor unconscious, but purely aware, a witness to the three states of the mind and their contents.
Q: When does this witnessing begin?
M: To a jnani nothing has beginning or ending. As salt dissolves in water, so does everything dissolve into pure being. Wisdom is eternally negating the unreal. To see the unreal is wisdom. Beyond this lies the inexpressible.
Q: There is in me the conviction: 'I am the body' Granted, I am talking from un-wisdom. But the state of feeling oneself the body, the body-mind, the mind-body, or even pure mind -- when did it begin?
M: You cannot speak of a beginning of consciousness. The very ideas of beginning and time are within consciousness. To talk meaningfully of the beginning of anything, you must step out of it. And the moment you step out, you realise that there is no such thing and never was. There is only reality, in which no ‘thing' has any being on its own. Like waves are inseparable from the ocean, so is all existence rooted in being.
Q: The fact is that here and now I am asking you: when did the feeling 'I am the body' arise? At my birth? or this morning?
Q: But I remember having it yesterday too!
M: The memory of yesterday is now only.
Q: But surely I exist in time. I have a past and a future.
M: That is how you imagine -- now.
Q: There must have been a beginning.
Q: And what about ending?
M: What has no beginning cannot end.
Q: But I am conscious of my question.
M: A false question cannot be answered. It can only be seen as false.
Q: To me it is real.
M: When did it appear real to you? Now.
Q: Yes, it is quite real to me -- now.
M: What is real about your question? It is a state of mind. No state of mind can be more real than the mind itself. Is the mind real? It is but a collection of states, each of them transitory. How can a succession of transitory states be considered real?
Q: Like beads on a string, events follow events -- for ever.
M: They are all strung on the basic idea: 'I am the body'. But even this is a mental state and does not last. It comes and goes like all other states. The illusion of being the body-mind is there, only because it is not investigated. Non-investigation is the thread on which all the states of mind are strung. It is like darkness in a closed room. It is there -- apparently. But when the room is opened, where does it go? It goes nowhere, because it was not there. All states of mind, all names and forms of existence are rooted in non-enquiry, non-investigation, in imagination and credulity. It is right to say 'I am', but to say 'I am this', 'I am that' is a sign of not enquiring, not examining, of mental weakness or lethargy.
Q: If all is light, how did darkness arise? How can there be darkness in the midst of light?
M: There is no darkness in the midst of light. Self-forgetfulness is the darkness. When we are absorbed in other things, in the not-self, we forget the self. There is nothing unnatural about it. But, why forget the self through excess of attachment? Wisdom lies in never forgetting the self as the ever-present source of both the experiencer and his experience.
Q: In my present state the 'I am the body' idea comes spontaneously, while the 'I am pure being' idea must be imposed on the mind as something true but not experienced.
M: Yes, sadhana (practice) consists in reminding oneself forcibly of one's pure 'being-ness', of not being anything in particular, nor a sum of particulars, not even the totality of all particulars, which make up a universe. All exists in the mind, even the body is an integration in the mind of a vast number of sensory perceptions, each perception also a mental state. If you say: 'I am the body', show it.
Q: Here it is.
M: Only when you think of it. Both mind and body are intermittent states. The sum total of these flashes creates the illusion of existence. Enquire what is permanent in the transient, real in the unreal. This is sadhana.
Q: The fact is that I am thinking of myself as the body.
M: Think of yourself by all means. Only don't bring the idea of a body into the picture. There is only a stream of sensations, perceptions, memories and ideations. The body is an abstraction, created by our tendency to seek unity in diversity -- which again is not wrong.
Q: I am being told that to think 'I am the body' is a blemish in the mind.
M: Why talk like this? Such expressions create problems. The self is the source of all, and of all -- the final destination. Nothing is external.
Q: When the body idea becomes obsessive, is it not altogether wrong?
M: There is nothing wrong in the idea of a body, nor even in the idea 'I am the body'. But limiting oneself to one body only is a mistake. In reality all existence, every form, is my own, within my consciousness. I cannot tell what I am because words can describe only what I am not. I am, and because I am, all is. But I am beyond consciousness and, therefore, in consciousness I cannot say what I am. Yet, I am. The question 'Who am I' has no answer. No experience can answer it, for the self is beyond experience.
Q: Still, the question 'Who am I' must be of some use.
M: It has no answer in consciousness and, therefore, helps to go beyond consciousness.
Q: Here I am -- in the present moment. What is real in it, and what is not? Now, please don't tell me that my question is wrong. Questioning my questions leads me nowhere.
M: Your question is not wrong. It is unnecessary. You said: 'Here and now I am'. Stop there, this is real. Don't turn a fact into a question. There lies your mistake. You are neither knowing nor not- knowing, neither mind nor matter; don't attempt to describe yourself in terms of mind and matter.
Q: Just now a boy came to you with a problem. You told him a few words and he went away. Did you help him?
M: Of course.
Q: How can you be so sure?
M: To help is my nature.
Q: How did you come to know It?
M: No need to know. It operates by itself.
Q: Still you have made a statement. On what is it based?
M: On what people tell me. But it is you who asks for proofs. I do not need them. Setting things right lies in my very nature, which is satyam, shivam, sundaram (the true, the good, the beautiful).
Q: When a man comes to you for advice and you give him advice, wherefrom does it come and by what power does it help?
M: His own being affects his mind and induces a response.
Q: And what is your role?
M: In me the man and his self come together.
Q: Why does not the self help the man without you?
M: But I am the self! You imagine me as separate, hence your question. There is no 'myself' and 'his self'. There is the Self, the only Self of all. Misled by the diversity of names and shapes, minds and bodies, you imagine multiple selves. We both are the self, but you seem to be unconvinced. This talk of personal self and universal self is the learner's stage; go beyond, don't be stuck in duality.
Q: Let us come back to the man in need of help. He comes to you.
M: If he comes, he is sure to get help. Because he was destined to get help, he came. There is nothing fanciful about it. I cannot help some and refuse others. All who come are helped, for such is the law. Only the shape help takes varies according to the need.
Q: Why must he come here to get advice? Can't he get it from within?
M: He will not listen. His mind is turned outward. But in fact all experience is in the mind, and even his coming to me and getting help is all within himself. Instead of finding an answer within himself, he imagines an answer from without. To me there is no me, no man and no giving. All this is merely a flicker in the mind. I am infinite peace and silence in which nothing appears, for all that appears -- disappears. Nobody comes for help, nobody offers help, nobody gets help. It is all but a display in consciousness.
Q: Yet the power to help is there and there is somebody or something that displays that power, call it God or Self or the Universal Mind. The name does not matter, but the fact does.
M: This is the stand the body-mind takes. The pure mind sees things as they are -- bubbles in consciousness. These bubbles are appearing, disappearing and reappearing -- without having real being. No particular cause can be ascribed to them, for each is caused by all and affects all. Each bubble is a body and all these bodies are mine.
Q: Do you mean to say, that you have the power to do everything rightly?
M: There is no power as separate from me. It is inherent in my very nature. Call it creativity. Out of a lump of gold you can make many ornaments -- each will remain gold. Similarly, in whatever role I may appear and whatever function I may perform -- I remain what I am: the 'I am' immovable, unshakable, independent. What you call the universe, nature, is my spontaneous creativity. Whatever happens -- happens. But such is my nature that all ends in joy.
Q: I have a case of a boy gone blind because his stupid mother fed him methyl alcohol. I am requesting you to help him. You are full of compassion and, obviously, eager to help. By what power can you help him?
M: His case is registered in consciousness. It is there -- indelibly. Consciousness will operate.
Q: Does it make any difference that I ask you to help?
M: Your asking is a part of the boy's blindness. Because he is blind, you ask. You have added nothing.
Q: But your help will be a new factor?
M: No, all is contained in the boy's blindness. All is in it -- the mother, the boy, you and me and all else. It is one event.
Q: You mean to say that even our discussing the boy's case was predestined?
M: How else? All things contain their future. The boy appears in consciousness. I am beyond. I do not issue orders to consciousness. I know that it is in the nature of awareness to set things right. Let consciousness look after its creations! The boy's sorrow, your pity, my listening and consciousness acting -- all this is one single fact -- don't split it into components and then ask questions.
Q: How strangely does your mind work?
M: You are strange, not me. I am normal. I am sane. I see things as they are, and therefore l am not afraid of them. But you are afraid of reality.
Q: Why should l?
M: It is ignorance of yourself that makes you afraid and also unaware that you are afraid. Don't try not to be afraid. Break down the wall of ignorance first. People are afraid to die, because they do not know what is death. The jnani has died before his death, he saw that there was nothing to be afraid of. The moment you know your real being, you are afraid of nothing. Death gives freedom and power. To be free in the world, you must die to the world. Then the universe is your own, it becomes your body, an expression and a tool. The happiness of being absolutely free is beyond description. On the other hand, he who is afraid of freedom cannot die.
Q: You mean that one who cannot die, cannot live?
M: Put it as you like; attachment is bondage, detachment is freedom. To crave is to slave.
Q: Does it follow that if you are saved, the world is saved?
M: As a whole the world does not need saving. Man makes mistakes and creates sorrow; when it enters the field of awareness, the consciousness of a jnani, it is set right. Such is his nature.
Q: We can observe what may be called spiritual progress. A selfish man turns religious, controls himself, refines his thoughts and feelings, takes to spiritual practice, realises his true being. Is such progress ruled by causality, or is it accidental?
M: From my point of view everything happens by itself, quite spontaneously. But man imagines that he works for an incentive, towards a goal. He has always a reward in mind and strives for it.
Q: A crude, unevolved man will not work without a reward. Is it not right to offer him incentives?
M: He will create for himself incentives anyhow. He does not know that to grow is in the nature of consciousness. He will progress from motive to motive and will chase Gurus for the fulfilment of his desires. When by the laws of his being he finds the way of return (nivritti) he abandons all motives, for his interest in the world is over. He wants nothing -- neither from others nor from himself. He dies to all and becomes the All. To want nothing and do nothing -- that is true creation! To watch the universe emerging and subsiding in one's heart is a wonder.
Q: The great obstacle to inner effort is boredom. The disciple gets bored.
M: Inertia and restlessness (tamas and rajas) work together and keep clarity and harmony (sattva) down. Tamas and Rajas must be conquered before Sattva can appear. It will all come in due course, quite spontaneously.
Q: Is there no need of effort then?
M: When effort is needed, effort will appear. When effortlessness becomes essential, it will assert itself. You need not push life about. Just flow with it and give yourself completely to the task of the present moment, which is the dying now to the now. For living is dying. Without death life cannot be. Get hold of the main thing that the world and the self are one and perfect. Only your attitude is faulty and needs readjustment. This process or readjustment is what you call sadhana. You come to it by putting an end to indolence and using all your energy to clear the way for clarity and charity. But in reality, these all are signs of inevitable growth. Don't be afraid, don't resist, don't delay. Be what you are. There is nothing to be afraid of. Trust and try. Experiment honestly. Give your real being a chance to shape your life. You will not regret.
34. Mind is restlessness Itself
Questioner: I am a Swede by birth. Now I am teaching Hatha Yoga in Mexico and in the States.
Maharaj: Where did you learn it?
Q: I had a teacher in the States, an Indian Swami.
M: What did it give you?
Q: It gave me good health and a means of livelihood.
M: Good enough. Is it all you want?
Q: I seek peace of mind. I got disgusted with all the cruel things done by the so-called Christians in the name of Christ. For some time I was without religion. Then I got attracted to Yoga.
M: What did you gain?
Q: I studied the philosophy of Yoga and it did help me.
M: In what way did it help you? By what signs did you conclude that you have been helped?
Q: Good health is something quite tangible.
M: No doubt it is very pleasant to feel fit. Is pleasure all you expected from Yoga?
Q: The joy of well-being is the reward of Hatha Yoga. But Yoga in general yields more than that. It answers many questions.
M: What do you mean by Yoga?
Q: The whole teaching of India -- evolution, re-incarnation, karma and so on.
M: All right, you got all the knowledge you wanted. But in what way are you benefited by it?
Q: It gave me peace of mind.
M: Did it? Is your mind at peace? Is your search over?
Q: No, not yet.
M: Naturally. There will be no end to it, because there is no such thing as peace of mind. Mind means disturbance; restlessness itself is mind. Yoga is not an attribute of the mind, nor is it a state of mind.
Q: Some measure of peace I did derive from Yoga.
M: Examine closely and you will see that the mind is seething with thoughts. It may go blank occasionally, but it does it for a time and reverts to its usual restlessness. A becalmed mind is not a peaceful mind. You say you want to pacify your mind. Is he, who wants to pacify the mind, himself peaceful?
Q: No. I am not at peace, I take the help of Yoga.
M: Don't you see the contradiction? For many years you sought your peace of mind. You could not find it, for a thing essentially restless cannot be at peace.
Q: There is some improvement.
M: The peace you claim to have found is very brittle any little thing can crack it. What you call peace is only absence of disturbance. It is hardly worth the name. The real peace cannot be disturbed. Can you claim a peace of mind that is unassailable?
Q: l am striving.
M: Striving too is a form of restlessness.
Q: So what remains?
M: The self does not need to be put to rest. It is peace itself, not at peace. Only the mind is restless. All it knows is restlessness, with its many modes and grades. The pleasant are considered superior and the painful are discounted. What we call progress is merely a change over from the unpleasant to the pleasant. But changes by themselves cannot bring us to the changeless, for whatever has a beginning must have an end. The real does not begin; it only reveals itself as beginningless and endless, all-pervading, all-powerful, immovable prime mover, timelessly changeless.
Q: So what has one to do?
M: Through Yoga you have accumulated knowledge and experience. This cannot be denied. But of what use is it all to you? Yoga means union, joining. What have you re-united, re-joined?
Q: I am trying to rejoin the personality back to the real self.
M: The personality (vyakti) is but a product of imagination. The self (vyakta) is the victim of this imagination. It is the taking yourself to be what you are not that binds you. The person cannot be said to exist on its own rights; it is the self that believes there is a person and is conscious of being it. Beyond the self (vyakta) lies the unmanifested (avyakta), the causeless cause of everything. Even to talk of re-uniting the person with the self is not right, because there is no person, only a mental picture given a false reality by conviction. Nothing was divided and there is nothing to unite.
Q: Yoga helps in the search for and the finding of the self.
M: You can find what you have lost. But you cannot find what you have not lost.
Q: Had I never lost anything, I would have been enlightened. But I am not. I am searching. Is not my very search a proof of my having lost something?
M: It only shows that you believe you have lost. But who believes it? And what is believed to be lost? Have you lost a person like yourself? What is the self you are in search of? What exactly do you expect to find?
Q: The true knowledge of the self.
M: The true knowledge of the self is not knowledge. It is not something that you find by searching, by looking everywhere. It is not to be found in space or time. Knowledge is but a memory, a pattern of thought, a mental habit. All these are motivated by pleasure and pain. It is because you are goaded by pleasure and pain that you are in search of knowledge. Being oneself is completely beyond all motivation. You cannot be yourself for some reason. You are yourself, and no reason is needed.
Q: By doing Yoga I shall find peace.
M: Can there be peace apart from yourself? Are you talking from your own experience or from books only? Your book knowledge is useful to begin with, but soon it must be given up for direct experience, which by its very nature is inexpressible. Words can be used for destruction also; of words images are built, by words they are destroyed. You got yourself into your present state through verbal thinking; you must get out of it the same way.
Q: I did attain a degree of inner peace. Am I to destroy it?
M: What has been attained may be lost again. Only when you realise the true peace, the peace you have never lost, that peace will remain with you, for it was never away. Instead of searching for what you do not have, find out what is it that you have never lost? That which is there before the beginning and after the ending of everything; that to which there is no birth, nor death. That immovable state, which is not affected by the birth and death of a body or a mind, that state you must perceive.
Q: What are the means to such perception?
M: In life nothing can be had without overcoming obstacles. The obstacles to the clear perception of one's true being are desire for pleasure and fear of pain. It is the pleasure-pain motivation that stands in the way. The very freedom from all motivation, the state in which no desire arises is the natural state.
Q: Such giving up of desires, does it need time?
M: If you leave it to time, millions of years will be needed. Giving up desire after desire is a lengthy process with the end never in sight. Leave alone your desires and fears, give your entire attention to the subject, to him who is behind the experience of desire and fear. Ask: 'who desires?' Let each desire bring you back to yourself.
Q: The root of all desires and fears is the same -- the longing for happiness.
M: The happiness, you can think of and long for, is mere physical or mental satisfaction. Such sensory or mental pleasure is not the real, the absolute happiness.
Q: Even sensory and mental pleasures and the general sense of well-being which arises with physical and mental health, must have their roots in reality.
M: They have their roots in imagination. A man who is given a stone and assured that it is a priceless diamond will be mightily pleased until he realises his mistake; in the same way pleasures lose their tang and pains their barb when the self is known. Both are seen as they are -- conditional responses, mere reactions, plain attractions and repulsions, based on memories or pre- conceptions. Usually pleasure and pain are experienced when expected. It is all a matter of acquired habits and convictions.
Q: Well, pleasure may be imaginary. But pain is real.
M: Pain and pleasure go always together. Freedom from one means freedom from both. If you do not care for pleasure, you will not be afraid of pain. But there is happiness which is neither, which is completely beyond. The happiness you know is describable and measurable. It is objective, so to say. But the objective cannot be your own. It would be a grievous mistake to identify yourself with something external. This churning up of levels leads nowhere. Reality is beyond the subjective and objective, beyond all levels, beyond every distinction. Most definitely it is not their origin, source or root. These come from ignorance of reality, not from reality itself, which is indescribable, beyond being and not-being.
Q: Many teachers have I followed and studied many doctrines, yet none gave me what I wanted.
M: The desire to find the self will be surely fulfilled, provided you want nothing else. But you must be honest with yourself and really want nothing else. If in the meantime you want many other things and are engaged in their pursuit, your main purpose may be delayed until you grow wiser and cease being torn between contradictory urges. Go within, without swerving, without ever looking outward.
Q: But my desires and fears are still there.
M: Where are they but in your memory? Realise that their root is in expectation born of memory and they will cease to obsess you.
Q: I have understood very well that social service is an endless task, because improvement and decay, progress and regress, go side by side. We can see it on all sides and on every level. What remains?
M: Whatever work you have undertaken -- complete it. Do not take up new tasks. Unless it is called for by a concrete situation of suffering and relief from suffering. Find yourself first, and endless blessings will follow. Nothing profits the world as much as the abandoning of profits. A man who no longer thinks in terms of loss and gain is the truly non-violent man, for he is beyond all conflict.
Q: Yes, I was always attracted by the idea of ahimsa (non-violence).
M: Primarily, ahimsa means what it says: 'don't hurt'. It is not doing good that comes first, but ceasing to hurt, not adding to suffering. Pleasing others is not ahimsa.
Q: I am not talking of pleasing, but I am all for helping others.
M: The only help worth giving is freeing from the need for further help. Repeated help is no help at all. Do not talk of helping another, unless you can put him beyond all need of help.
Q: How does one go beyond the need of help? And can one help another to do so?
M: When you have understood that all existence, in separation and limitation, is painful, and when you are willing and able to live integrally, in oneness with all life, as pure being, you have gone beyond all need of help. You can help another by precept and example and, above all, by your being. You cannot give what you do not have and you don't have what you are not. You can only give what you are -- and of that you can give limitlessly.
Q: But, is it true that all existence is painful?
M: What else can be the cause of this universal search for pleasure? Does a happy man seek happiness? How restless people are, how constantly on the move! It is because they are in pain that they seek relief in pleasure. All the happiness they can imagine is in the assurance of repeated pleasure.
Q: If what I am, as I am, the person I take myself to be, cannot be happy, then what am I to do?
M: You can only cease to be -- as you seem to be now. There is nothing cruel in what I say. To wake up a man from a nightmare is compassion. You came here because you are in pain, and all I say is: wake up, know yourself, be yourself. The end of pain lies not in pleasure. When you realise that you are beyond both pain and pleasure, aloof and unassailable, then the pursuit of happiness ceases and the resultant sorrow too. For pain aims at pleasure and pleasure ends in pain, relentlessly.
Q: In the ultimate state there can be no happiness?
M: Nor sorrow. Only freedom. Happiness depends on something or other and can be lost; freedom from everything depends on nothing and cannot be lost. Freedom from sorrow has no cause and, therefore, cannot be destroyed. Realise that freedom.
Q: Am I not born to suffer as a result of my past? Is freedom possible at all? Was I born of my own will? Am I not just a creature?
M: What is birth and death but the beginning and the ending of a stream of events in consciousness? Because of the idea of separation and limitation they are painful. Momentary relief from pain we call pleasure -- and we build castles in the air hoping for endless pleasure which we call happiness. It is all misunderstanding and misuse. Wake up, go beyond, live really.
Q: My knowledge is limited, my power negligible.
M: Being the source of both. The self is beyond both knowledge and power. The observable is in the mind. The nature of the self is pure awareness, pure witnessing, unaffected by the presence or absence of knowledge or liking. Have your being outside this body of birth and death and all your problems will be solved. They exist because you believe yourself born to die. Undeceive yourself and be free. You are not a person.