I Am That
48. Awareness is Free
Questioner: I have just arrived from Sri Ramanashram. I have spent seven months there.
Maharaj: What practice were you following at the Ashram?
Q: As far as I could, I concentrated on the 'Who am l'?
M: Which way were you doing it? Verbally?
Q: In my free moments during the course of the day. Sometimes I was murmuring to myself 'Who am l?' 'I am, but who am l?' Or, I did it mentally. Occasionally I would have some nice feeling, or get into moods of quiet happiness. On the whole I was trying to be quiet and receptive, rather than labouring for experiences.
M: What were you actually experiencing when you were in the right mood?
Q: A sense of inner stillness, peace and silence.
M: Did you notice yourself becoming unconscious?
Q: Yes, occasionally and for a very short time. Otherwise I was just quiet, inwardly and outwardly.
M: What kind of quiet was it? Something akin to deep sleep, yet conscious all the same. A sort of wakeful sleep?
Q: Yes. Alertly asleep. (jagrit-sushupti).
M: The main thing is to be free of negative emotions -- desire, fear etc., the 'six enemies' of the mind. Once the mind is free of them, the rest will come easily. Just as cloth kept in soap water will become clean, so will the mind get purified in the stream of pure feeling. When you sit quiet and watch yourself, all kinds of things may come to the surface. Do nothing about them, don't react to them; as they have come so will they go, by themselves. All that matters is mindfulness, total awareness of oneself or rather, of one's mind.
Q: By 'oneself' do you mean the daily self?
M: Yes, the person, which alone is objectively observable. The observer is beyond observation. What is observable is not the real self.
Q: I can always observe the observer, in endless recession.
M: You can observe the observation, but not the observer. You know you are the ultimate observer by direct insight, not by a logical process based on observation. You are what you are, but you know what you are not. The self is known as being, the not-self is known as transient. But in reality all is in the mind. The observed, observation and observer are mental constructs. The self alone is.
Q: Why does the mind create all these divisions?
M: To divide and particularise is in the mind's very nature. There is no harm in dividing. But separation goes against fact. Things and people are different, but they are not separate. Nature is one, reality is one. There are opposites, but no opposition.
Q: I find that by nature I am very active. Here I am advised to avoid activity. The more I try to remain inactive, the greater the urge to do something. This makes me not only active outwardly, but also struggling inwardly to be what by nature I am not. Is there a remedy against longing for work?
M: There is a difference between work and mere activity. All nature works. Work is nature, nature is work. On the other hand, activity is based on desire and fear, on longing to possess and enjoy, on fear of pain and annihilation. Work is by the whole for the whole, activity is by oneself for oneself.
Q: Is there a remedy against activity?
M: Watch it, and it shall cease. Use every opportunity to remind yourself that you are in bondage, that whatever happens to you is due to the fact of your bodily existence. Desire, fear, trouble, joy, they cannot appear unless you are there to appear to. Yet, whatever happens, points to your existence as a perceiving centre. Disregard the pointers and be aware of what they are pointing to. It is quite simple, but it needs be done. What matters is the persistence with which you keep on returning to yourself.
Q: I do get into peculiar states of deep absorption into myself, but unpredictably and momentarily. I do not feel myself to be in control of such states.
M: The body is a material thing and needs time to change. The mind is but a set of mental habits, of ways of thinking and feeling, and to change they must be brought to the surface and examined. This also takes time. Just resolve and persevere, the rest will take care of itself.
Q: I seem to have a clear idea of what needs be done, but I find myself getting tired and depressed and seeking human company and thus wasting time that should be given to solitude and meditation.
M: Do what you feel like doing. Don't bully yourself. Violence will make you hard and rigid. Do not fight with what you take to be obstacles on your way. Just be interested in them, watch them, observe, enquire. Let anything happen -- good or bad. But don't let yourself be submerged by what happens.
Q: What is the purpose in reminding oneself all the time that one is the watcher?
M: The mind must learn that beyond the moving mind there is the background of awareness, which does not change. The mind must come to know the true self and respect it and cease covering it up, like the moon which obscures the sun during solar eclipse. Just realise that nothing observable, or experienceable is you, or binds you. Take no notice of what is not yourself.
Q: To do what you tell me I must be ceaselessly aware.
M: To be aware is to be awake. Unaware means asleep. You are aware anyhow, you need not try to be. What you need is to be aware of being aware. Be aware deliberately and consciously, broaden and deepen the field of awareness. You are always conscious of the mind, but you are not aware of yourself as being conscious.
Q: As I can make out, you give distinct meanings to the words 'mind', 'consciousness', and 'awareness'.
M: Look at it this way. The mind produces thoughts ceaselessly, even when you do not look at them. When you know what is going on in your mind, you call it consciousness. This is your waking state -- your consciousness shifts from sensation to sensation, from perception to perception, from idea to idea, in endless succession. Then comes awareness, the direct insight into the whole of consciousness, the totality of the mind. The mind is like a river, flowing ceaselessly in the bed of the body; you identify yourself for a moment with some particular ripple and call it: 'my thought'. All you are conscious of is your mind; awareness is the cognisance of consciousness as a whole.
Q: Everybody is conscious, but not everybody is aware.
M: Don't say: 'everybody is conscious'. Say: 'there is consciousness', in which everything appears and disappears. Our minds are just waves on the ocean of consciousness. As waves they come and go. As ocean they are infinite and eternal. Know yourself as the ocean of being, the womb of all existence. These are all metaphors of course; the reality is beyond description. You can know it only by being it.
Q: Is the search for it worth the trouble?
M: Without it all is trouble. If you want to live sanely, creatively and happily and have infinite riches to share, search for what you are. While the mind is centred in the body and consciousness is centred in the mind, awareness is free. The body has its urges and mind its pains and pleasures. Awareness is unattached and unshaken. It is lucid, silent, peaceful, alert and unafraid, without desire and fear. Meditate on it as your true being and try to be it in your daily life, and you shall realise it in its fullness. Mind is interested in what happens, while awareness is interested in the mind itself. The child is after the toy, but the mother watches the child, not the toy. By looking tirelessly, I became quite empty and with that emptiness all came back to me except the mind. I find I have lost the mind irretrievably.
Q: As you talk to us just now, are you unconscious?
M: I am neither conscious nor unconscious, I am beyond the mind and its various states and conditions. Distinctions are created by the mind and apply to the mind only. I am pure Consciousness itself, unbroken awareness of all that is. I am in a more real state than yours. I am undistracted by the distinctions and separations which constitute a person. As long as the body lasts, it has its needs like any other, but my mental process has come to an end.
Q: You behave like a person who thinks.
M: Why not? But my thinking, like my digestion, is unconscious and purposeful.
Q: If your thinking is unconscious, how do you know that it is right?
M: There is no desire, nor fear to thwart it. What can make it wrong? Once I know myself and what I stand for, I do not need to check on myself all the time. When you know that your watch shows correct time, you do not hesitate each time you consult it.
Q: At this very moment who talks, if not the mind?
M: That which hears the question, answers it.
Q: But who is it?
M: Not who, but what. I'm not a person in your sense of the word, though I may appear a person to you. I am that infinite ocean of consciousness in which all happens. I am also beyond all existence and cognition, pure bliss of being. There is nothing I feel separate from, hence I am all. No thing is me, so I am nothing. The same power that makes the fire burn and the water flow, the seeds sprout and the trees grow, makes me answer your questions. There is nothing personal about me, though the language and the style may appear personal. A person is a set pattern of desires and thoughts and resulting actions; there is no such pattern in my case. There is nothing I desire or fear -- how can there be a pattern?
Q: Surely, you will die.
M: Life will escape, the body will die, but it will not affect me in the least. Beyond space and time I am, uncaused, uncausing, yet the very matrix of existence.
Q: May I be permitted to ask how did you arrive at your present condition?
M: My teacher told me to hold on to the sense 'I am' tenaciously and not to swerve from it even for a moment. I did my best to follow his advice and in a comparatively short time I realised within myself the truth of his teaching. All I did was to remember his teaching, his face, his words constantly. This brought an end to the mind; in the stillness of the mind I saw myself as I am -- unbound.
Q: Was your realisation sudden or gradual.
M: Neither. One is what one is timelessly. It is the mind that realises as and when it get cleared of desires and fears.
Q: Even the desire for realisation?
M: The desire to put an end to all desires is a most peculiar desire, just like the fear of being afraid is a most peculiar fear. One stops you from grabbing and the other from running. You may use the same words, but the states are not the same. The man who seeks realisation is not addicted to desires; he is a seeker who goes against desire, not with it. A general longing for liberation is only the beginning; to find the proper means and use them is the next step. The seeker has only one goal in view: to find his own true being. Of all desires it is the most ambitious, for nothing and nobody can satisfy it; the seeker and the sought are one and the search alone matters.
Q: The search will come to an end. The seeker will remain.
M: No, the seeker will dissolve, the search will remain. The search is the ultimate and timeless reality.
Q: Search means lacking, wanting, incompleteness and imperfection.
M: No, it means refusal and rejection of the incomplete and the imperfect. The search for reality is itself the movement of reality. In a way all search is for the real bliss, or the bliss of the real. But here we mean by search the search for oneself as the root of being conscious, as the light beyond the mind. This search will never end, while the restless craving for all else must end, for real progress to take place. One has to understand that the search for reality, or God, or Guru and the search for the self are the same; when one is found, all are found. When 'I am' and 'God is' become in your mind indistinguishable, then something will happen and you will know without a trace of doubt that God is because you are, you are because God is. The two are one.
Q: Since all is preordained, is our self-realisation also preordained? Or are we free there at least?
M: Destiny refers only to name and shape. Since you are neither body nor mind, destiny has no control over you. You are completely free. The cup is conditioned by its shape, material, use and so on. But the space within the cup is free. It happens to be in the cup only when viewed in connection with the cup. Otherwise it is just space. As long as there is a body, you appear to be embodied. Without the body you are not disembodied -- you Just are. Even destiny is but an idea. Words can be put together in so many ways! Statements can differ, but do they make any change in the actual? There are so many theories devised for explaining things -- all are plausible, none is true. When you drive a car, you are subjected to the laws of mechanics and chemistry: step out of the car and you are under the laws of physiology and biochemistry.
Q: What is meditation and what are its uses?
M: As long as you are a beginner certain formalised meditations, or prayers may be good for you. But for a seeker for reality there is only one meditation -- the rigorous refusal to harbour thoughts. To be free from thoughts is itself meditation.
Q: How is it done?
M: You begin by letting thoughts flow and watching them. The very observation slows down the mind till it stops altogether. Once the mind is quiet, keep it quiet. Don't get bored with peace, be in it, go deeper into it.
Q: I heard of holding on to one thought in order to keep other thoughts away. But how to keep all thoughts away? The very idea is also a thought.
M: Experiment anew, don't go by past experience. Watch your thoughts and watch yourself watching the thoughts. The state of freedom from all thoughts will happen suddenly and by the bliss of it you shall recognise it.
Q: Are you not at all concerned about the state of the world? Look at the horrors in East Pakistan [1971, now Bangla Desh]. Do they not touch you at all?
M: I am reading newspapers, I know what is going on! But my reaction is not like yours. You are looking for a cure, while I am concerned with prevention. As long as there are causes, there must also be results. As long as people are bent on dividing and separating, as long as they are selfish and aggressive, such things will happen. If you want peace and harmony in the world, you must have peace and harmony in your hearts and minds. Such change cannot be imposed; it must come from within. Those who abhor war must get war out of their system. Without peaceful people how can you have peace in the world? As long as people are as they are, the world must be as it is. I am doing my part in trying to help people to know themselves as the only cause of their own misery. In that sense I am a useful man. But what I am in myself, what is my normal state cannot be expressed in terms of social consciousness and usefulness. I may talk about it, use metaphors or parables, but I am acutely aware that it is just not so. Not that it cannot be experienced. It is experiencing itself! But it cannot be described in the terms of a mind that must separate and oppose in order to know. The world is like a sheet of paper on which something is typed. The reading and the meaning will vary with the reader, but the paper is the common factor, always present, rarely perceived. When the ribbon is removed, typing leaves no trace on the paper. So is my mind -- the impressions keep on coming, but no trace is left.
Q: Why do you sit here talking to people? What is your real motive?
M: No motive. You say I must have a motive. I am not sitting here, nor talking: no need to search for motives. Don't confuse me with the body. I have no work to do, no duties to perform. That part of me which you may call God will look after the world. This world of yours, that so much needs looking after, lives and moves in your mind. Delve into it, you will find your answers there and there only. Where else do you expect them to come from? Outside your consciousness does anything exist?
Q: It may exist without my ever knowing it.
M: What kind of existence would it be? Can being be divorced from knowing? All being, like all knowing, relates to you. A thing is because you know it to be either in your experience or in your being. Your body and your mind exist as long as you believe so. Cease to think that they are yours and they will just dissolve. By all means let your body and mind function, but do not let them limit you. If you notice imperfections, just keep on noticing: your very giving attention to them will set your heart and mind and body right.
Q: Can I cure myself of a serious illness by merely taking cognisance of it?
M: Take cognisance of the whole of it, not only of the outer symptoms. All illness begins in the mind. Take care of the mind first, by tracing and eliminating all wrong ideas and emotions. Then live and work disregarding illness and think no more of it. With the removal of causes the effect is bound to depart. Man becomes what he believes himself to be. Abandon all ideas about yourself and you will find yourself to be the pure witness, beyond all that can happen to the body or the mind.
Q: If I become anything I think myself to be, and I start thinking that I am the Supreme Reality, will not my Supreme Reality remain a mere idea?
M: First reach that state and then ask the question.
49. Mind Causes Insecurity
Questioner: People come to you for advice. How do you know what to answer?
Maharaj: As I hear the question, so do I hear the answer.
Q: And how do you know that your answer is right?
M: Once I know the true source of the answers, I need not doubt them. From a pure source only pure water will flow. I am not concerned with people's desires and fears. I am in tune with facts, not with opinions. Man takes his name and shape to be himself, while I take nothing to be myself. Were I to think myself to be a body known by its name, I would not have been able to answer your questions. Were I to take you to be a mere body, there would be no benefit to you from my answers. No true teacher indulges in opinions. He sees things as they are and shows them as they are. If you take people to be what they think themselves to be, you will only hurt them, as they hurt themselves so grievously all the time. But if you see them as they are in reality, it will do them enormous good. If they ask you what to do, what practices to adopt, which way of life to follow, answer: 'Do nothing, just be. In being all happens naturally.'
Q: It seems to me that in your talks you use the words 'naturally' and 'accidentally' indiscriminately. I feel there is a deep difference in the meaning of the two words. The natural is orderly, subject to law; one can trust nature; the accidental is chaotic, unexpected, unpredictable. One could plead that everything is natural, subject to nature's laws; to maintain that everything is accidental, without any cause, is surely an exaggeration.
M: Would you like it better if I use the word 'spontaneous' instead of 'accidental'?
Q: You may use the word 'spontaneous' or 'natural' as opposed to 'accidental'. In the accidental there is the element of disorder, of chaos. An accident is always a breach of rules, an exception, a surprise.
M: Is not life itself a stream of surprises?
Q: There is harmony in nature. The accidental is a disturbance.
M: You speak as a person, limited in time and space, reduced to the contents of a body and a mind. What you like, you call 'natural' and what you dislike, you call 'accidental'.
Q: I like the natural, and the law-abiding, the expected and I fear the law-breaking, the disorderly, the unexpected, the meaningless. The accidental is always monstrous. There may be so-called 'lucky accidents', but they only prove the rule that in an accident-prone universe life would be impossible.
M: I feel there is a misunderstanding. By 'accidental' I mean something to which no known law applies. When I say everything is accidental, uncaused, I only mean that the causes and the laws according to which they operate are beyond our knowing, or even imagining.
If you call what you take to be orderly, harmonious, predictable, to be natural, then what obeys higher laws and is moved by higher powers may be called spontaneous. Thus, we shall have two natural orders: the personal and predictable and the impersonal, or super-personal, and unpredictable. Call it lower nature and higher nature and drop the word accidental. As you grow in knowledge and insight, the borderline between lower and higher nature keeps on receding, but the two remain until they are seen as one. For, in fact, everything is most wonderfully inexplicable!
Q: Science explains a lot.
M: Science deals with names and shapes, quantities and qualities, patterns and laws; it is all right in its own place. But life is to be lived; there is no time for analysis. The response must be instantaneous -- hence the importance of the spontaneous, the timeless. It is in the unknown that we live and move. the known is the past.
Q: I can take my stand on what I feel I am. I am an individual, a person among persons. Some people are integrated and harmonised, and some are not. Some live effortlessly, respond spontaneously to every situation correctly, doing full justice to the need of the moment, while others fumble, err and generally make a nuisance of themselves. The harmonised people may be called natural, ruled by law, while the disintegrated are chaotic and subject to accidents.
M: The very idea of chaos presupposes the sense of the orderly, the organic, the inter-related. Chaos and cosmos: are they not two aspects of the same state?
Q: But you seem to say that all is chaos, accidental, unpredictable.
M: Yes, in the sense that not all the laws of being are known and not all events are predictable. The more you are able to understand, the more the universe becomes satisfactory, emotionally and mentally. Reality is good and beautiful; we create the chaos.
Q: If you mean to say that it is the free will of man that causes accidents, I would agree. But we have not yet discussed free will.
M: Your order is what gives you pleasure and disorder is what gives you pain.
Q: You may put it that way, but do not tell me that the two are one. Talk to me in my own language -- the language of an individual in search of happiness. I do not want to be misled by non-dualistic talks.
M: What makes you believe that you are a separate individual?
Q: I behave as an individual. I function on my own. I consider myself primarily, and others only in relation to myself. In short, I am busy with myself.
M: Well, go on being busy with yourself. On what business have you come here?
Q: On my old business of making myself safe and happy. I confess I have not been too successful. I am neither safe nor happy. Therefore, you find me here. This place is new to me, but my reason for coming here is old: the search for safe happiness, happy safety. So far I did not find it. Can you help me?
M: What was never lost can never be found. Your very search for safety and joy keeps you away from them. Stop searching, cease losing. The disease is simple and the remedy equally simple. It is your mind only that makes you insecure and unhappy. Anticipation makes you insecure, memory -- unhappy. Stop misusing your mind and all will be well with you. You need not set it right -- it will set itself right, as soon as you give up all concern with the past and the future and live entirely in the now.
Q: But the now has no dimension. I shall become a nobody, a nothing !
M: Exactly. As nothing and nobody you are safe and happy. You can have the experience for the asking. Just try.
But let us go back to what is accidental and what is spontaneous, or natural. You said nature is orderly while accident is a sign of chaos. I denied the difference and said that we call an event accidental when its causes are untraceable. There is no place for chaos in nature. Only in the mind of man there is chaos. The mind does not grasp the whole -- its focus is very narrow. It sees fragments only and fails to perceive the picture. Just as a man who hears sounds, but does not understand the language, may accuse the speaker of meaningless jabbering, and be altogether wrong. What to one is a chaotic stream of sounds is a beautiful poem to another.
King Janaka once dreamt that he was a beggar. On waking up he asked his Guru -- Vasishta: Am I a king dreaming of being a beggar, or a beggar dreaming of being a king? The Guru answered: You are neither, you are both. You are, and yet you are not what you think yourself to be. You are because you behave accordingly; you are not because it does not last. Can you be a king or a beggar for ever? All must change. You are what does not change. What are you? Janaka said: Yes, I am neither king nor beggar, I am the dispassionate witness. The Guru said. This is your last illusion that you are a jnani, that you are different from, and superior to, the common man. Again you identify yourself with your mind, in this case a well-behaved and in every way an exemplary mind. As long as you see the least difference, you are a stranger to reality. You are on the level of the mind. When the 'I am myself' goes, the 'I am all' comes. When the 'I am all' goes, 'I am' comes. When even 'I am' goes, reality alone is and in it every 'I am' is preserved and glorified. Diversity without separateness is the Ultimate that the mind can touch. Beyond that all activity ceases, because in it all goals are reached and all purposes fulfilled.
Q: Once the Supreme State is reached, can it be shared with others?
M: The Supreme State is universal, here and now; everybody already shares in it. It is the state of being -- knowing and liking. Who does not like to be, or does not know his own existence? But we take no advantage of this joy of being conscious, we do not go into it and purify it of all that is foreign to it. This work of mental self-purification, the cleansing of the psyche, is essential. Just as a speck in the eye, by causing inflammation, may wipe out the world, so the mistaken idea: 'I am the body-mind' causes the self-concern, which obscures the universe. It is useless to fight the sense of being a limited and separate person unless the roots of it are laid bare. Selfishness is rooted in the mistaken ideas of oneself. Clarification of the mind is Yoga.
50. Self-awareness is the Witness
Questioner: You told me that I can be considered under three aspects: the personal (vyakti), the super-personal (vyakta) and the impersonal (avyakta). The Avyakta is the universal and real pure 'I'; the Vyakta is its reflection in consciousness as ‘I am'; the Vyakti is the totality of physical and vital processes. Within the narrow confines of the present moment, the super-personal is aware of the person, both in space and time; not only one person, but the long series of persons strung together on the thread of karma. It is essentially the witness as well as the residue of the accumulated experiences, the seat of memory, the connecting link (sutratma). It is man's character which life builds and shapes from birth to birth. The universal is beyond all name and shape, beyond consciousness and character, pure un-selfconscious being. Did I put down your views rightly?
Maharaj: On the level of the mind -- yes. Beyond the mental level not a word applies.
Q: I can understand that the person is a mental construct, a collective noun for a set of memories and habits. But, he to whom the person happens, the witnessing centre, is it mental too?
M: The personal needs a base, a body to identify oneself with, just as a colour needs a surface to appear on. The seeing of the colour is independent of the colour -- it is the same whatever the colour. One needs an eye to see a colour. The colours are many, the eye is single. The personal is like the light in the colour and also in the eye, yet simple, single, indivisible and unperceivable, except in its manifestations. Not unknowable, but unperceivable, un-objectival, inseparable. Neither material nor mental, neither objective nor subjective, it is the root of matter and the source of consciousness. Beyond mere living and dying, it is the all-inclusive, all-exclusive Life, in which birth is death and death is birth.
Q: The Absolute or Life you talk about, is it real, or a mere theory to cover up our ignorance?
M: Both. To the mind, a theory; in itself -- a reality. It is reality in its spontaneous and total rejection of the false. Just as light destroys darkness by its very presence, so does the absolute destroy imagination. To see that all knowledge is a form of ignorance is itself a movement of reality. The witness is not a person. The person comes into being when there is a basis for it, an organism, a body. In it the absolute is reflected as awareness. Pure awareness becomes self-awareness. When there is a self, self-awareness is the witness. When there is no self to witness, there is no witnessing either. It is all very simple; it is the presence of the person that complicates. See that there is no such thing as a permanently separate person and all becomes clear. Awareness -- mind -- matter -- they are one reality in its two aspects as immovable and movable, and the three attributes of inertia, energy and harmony.
Q: What comes first: consciousness or awareness?
M: Awareness becomes consciousness when it has an object. The object changes all the time. In consciousness there is movement; awareness by itself is motionless and timeless, here and now.
Q: There is suffering and bloodshed in East Pakistan at the present moment. How do you look at it? How does it appear to you, how do you react to it?
M: In pure consciousness nothing ever happens.
Q: Please come down from these metaphysical heights! Of what use is it to a suffering man to be told that nobody is aware of his suffering but himself? To relegate everything to illusion is insult added to injury. The Bengali of East Pakistan is a fact and his suffering is a fact. Please, do not analyse them out of existence! You are reading newspapers, you hear people talking about it. You cannot plead ignorance. Now, what is your attitude to what is happening?
M: No attitude. Nothing is happening.
Q: Any day there may be a riot right in front of you, perhaps people killing each other. Surely you cannot say: nothing is happening and remain aloof.
M: I never talked of remaining aloof. You could as well see me jumping into the fray to save somebody and getting killed. Yet to me nothing happened. Imagine a big building collapsing. Some rooms are in ruins, some are intact. But can you speak of the space as ruined or intact? It is only the structure that suffered and the people who happened to live in it. Nothing happened to space itself. Similarly, nothing happens to life when forms break down and names are wiped out. The goldsmith melts down old ornaments to make new. Sometimes a good piece goes with the bad. He takes it in his stride, for he knows that no gold is lost.
Q: It is not death that I rebel against. It is the manner of dying.
M: Death is natural, the manner of dying is man-made. Separateness causes fear and aggression, which again cause violence. Do away with man-made separations and all this horror of people killing each other will surely end. But in reality there is no killing and no dying. The real does not die, the unreal never lived. Set your mind right and all will be right. When you know that the world is one, that humanity is one, you will act accordingly. But first of all you must attend to the way you feel, think and live. Unless there is order in yourself, there can be no order in the world. In reality nothing happens. Onto the screen of the mind destiny forever projects its pictures, memories of former projections and thus illusion constantly renews itself. The pictures come and go -- light intercepted by ignorance. See the light and disregard the picture.
Q: What a callous way of looking at things! People are killing and getting killed and here you talk of pictures.
M: By all means go and get killed yourself -- if that is what you think you should do. Or even go and kill, if you take it to be your duty. But that is not the way to end the evil. Evil is the stench of a mind that is diseased. Heal your mind and it will cease to project distorted, ugly pictures.
Q: What you say I understand, but emotionally I cannot accept it. This merely idealistic view of life repels me deeply. I just cannot think myself to be permanently in a state of dream.
M: How can anybody be permanently in a state caused by an impermanent body? The misunderstanding is based on your idea that you are the body. Examine the idea, see its inherent contradictions, realise that your present existence is like a shower of sparks, each spark lasting a second and the shower itself -- a minute or two. Surely a thing of which the beginning is the end, can have no middle. Respect your terms. Reality cannot be momentary. It is timeless, but timelessness is not duration.
Q: I admit that the world in which I live is not the real world. But there is a real world, of which I see a distorted picture. The distortion may be due to some blemish in my body or mind. But when you say there is no real world, only a dream world in my mind, I just cannot take it. I wish I could believe that all horrors of existence are due to my having a body. Suicide would be the way out.
M: As long as you pay attention to ideas, your own or of others, you will be in trouble. But if you disregard all teachings, all books, anything out into words and dive deeply within yourself and find yourself, this alone will solve all your problems and leave you in full mastery of every situation, because you will not be dominated by your ideas about the situation. Take an example. You are in the company of an attractive woman. You get ideas about her and this creates a sexual situation. A problem is created and you start looking for books on continence, or enjoyment. Were you a baby, both of you could be naked and together without any problem arising. Just stop thinking you are the bodies and the problems of love and sex will lose their meaning. With all sense of limitation gone, fear, pain and the search for pleasure -- all cease. Only awareness remains.
51. Be Indifferent to Pain and Pleasure
Questioner: I am a Frenchman by birth and domicile and since about ten years I have been practicing Yoga.
Maharaj: After ten years of work are you anywhere nearer your goal?
Q: A little nearer, maybe. It is hard work, you know.
M: The Self is near and the way to it is easy. All you need doing is doing nothing.
Q: Yet I found my sadhana very difficult.
M: Your sadhana is to be. The doing happens. Just be watchful. Where is the difficulty in remembering that you are? Your are all the time.
Q: The sense of being is there all the time -- no doubt. But the field of attention is often overrun by all sorts of mental events -- emotions, images, ideas. The pure sense of being is usually crowded out.
M: What is your procedure for clearing the mind of the unnecessary? What are your means, your tools for the purification of the mind?
Q: Basically, man is afraid. He is afraid of himself most. I feel I am like a man who is carrying a bomb that is going to explode. He cannot defuse it, he cannot throw it away. He is terribly frightened and is searching frantically for a solution, which he cannot find. To me liberation is getting rid of this bomb. I do not know much about the bomb. I only know that it comes from early childhood. I feel like the frightened child protesting passionately against not being loved. The child is craving for love and because he does not get it, he is afraid and angry. Sometimes I feel like killing somebody or myself. This desire is so strong that I am constantly afraid. And I do not know how to get free from fear.
You see there is a difference between a Hindu mind and a European mind. The Hindu mind is comparatively simple. The European is a much more complex being. The Hindu is basically sattvic. He does not understand the European’s restlessness, hid tireless pursuit of what he thinks needs be done; his greater general knowledge.
M: His reasoning capacity is so great, that he will reason himself out of all reason! His self- assertiveness is due to his reliance on logic.
Q: But thinking, reasoning is the mind’s normal state. The mind just cannot stop working.
M: It may be the habitual state, but it need not be the normal state. A normal state cannot be painful, while a habit often leads to chronic pain.
Q: If it is not the natural, or normal state of mind, then how to stop it? There must be a way to quieten the mind. How often I tell myself: enough, please stop, enough of this endless chatter of sentences repeated round and round! But my mind would not stop. I feel that one can stop it for a while, but not for long. Even the so-called ‘spiritual’ people use tricks to keep their mind quiet. They repeat formulas, they sing, pray, breathe forcibly or gently, shake, rotate, concentrate, meditate, chase trances, cultivate virtues -- working all the time, in order to cease working, cease chasing, cease moving. Were it not so tragic, it would be ridiculous.
M: The mind exists in two states: as water and as honey. The water vibrates at the least disturbance, while the honey, however disturbed, returns quickly to immobility.
Q: By its very nature the mind is restless. It can perhaps be made quiet, but it is not quiet by itself.
M: You may have a chronic fever and shiver all the time. It is desires and fears that make the mind restless. Free from all negative emotions it is quiet.
Q: You cannot protect the child from negative emotions. As soon as it is born it learns pain and fear. Hunger is a cruel master and teaches dependence and hate. The child loves the mother because she feeds it and hates her because she is late with food. Our unconscious mind is full of conflicts, which overflow into the conscious. We live on a volcano; we are always in danger. I agree that the company of people whose mind is peaceful has a very soothing affect, but as soon as I am away from them, the old trouble starts. This is why I come periodically to India to seek the company of my Guru.
M: You think you are coming and going, passing through various states and moods. I see things as they are, momentary events, presenting themselves to me in rapid succession, deriving their being from me, yet definitely neither me nor mine. Among phenomena I am not one, nor subject to any. I am independent so simply and totally, that your mind, accustomed to opposition and denial, cannot grasp it. I mean literally what I say; I do not need oppose, or deny, because it is clear to me that I cannot be the opposite or denial of anything. I am just beyond, in a different dimension altogether. Do not look for me in identification with, or opposition to something: I am where desire, and fear are not. Now, what is your experience? Do you also feel that you stand totally aloof from all transient things?
Q: Yes, I do -- occasionally. But at once a sense of danger sets in, I feel isolated, outside all relationship with others. You see, here lies the difference in our mentalities. With the Hindu, the emotion follows the thought. Give a Hindu an idea and his emotions are roused. With the Westerner it is the opposite: give him an emotion and he will produce an idea. Your ideas are very attractive -- intellectually, but emotionally I do not respond.
M: Set your intellect aside. Don't use it in these matters.
Q: Of what use is an advice which I cannot carry out? These are all ideas and you want me to respond feelingly to ideas, for without feelings there can be no action.
M: Why do you talk of action? Are you acting ever? Some unknown power acts and you imagine that you are acting. You are merely watching what happens, without being able to influence it in any way.
Q: Why is there such a tremendous resistance in me against accepting that I just can do nothing?
M: But what can you do? You are like a patient under anesthetics on whom a surgeon performs an operation. When you wake up you find the operation over; can you say you have done something?
Q: But it is me who has chosen to submit to an operation.
M: Certainly not. It is your illness on one side and the pressure of your physician and family on the other that have made you decide. You have no choice, only the illusion of it.
Q: Yet I feel I am not as helpless as you make me appear. I feel I can do everything I can think of, only I do not know how. It is not the power I lack, but the knowledge.
M: Not knowing the means is admittedly as bad as not having the power! But let us drop the subject for the moment; after all it is not important why we feel helpless, as long as we see clearly that for the time being we are helpless.
I am now 74 years old. And yet I feel that I am an infant. I feel clearly that in spite of all the changes I am a child. My Guru told me: that child, which is you even now, is your real self (swarupa). Go back to that state of pure being, where the 'I am' is still in its purity before it got contaminated with 'this I am' or 'that I am'. Your burden is of false self-identifications -- abandon them all. My Guru told me -- 'Trust me. I tell you; you are divine. Take it as the absolute truth. Your joy is divine, your suffering is divine too. All comes from God. Remember it always. You are God, your will alone is done'. I did believe him and soon realised how wonderfully true and accurate were his words. I did not condition my mind by thinking: 'I am God, I am wonderful, I am beyond'. I simply followed his instruction which was to focus the mind on pure being 'I am', and stay in it. I used to sit for hours together, with, nothing but the 'I am' in my mind and soon peace and joy and a deep all-embracing love became my normal state. In it all disappeared -- myself, my Guru, the life I lived, the world around me. Only peace remained and unfathomable silence.
Q: It all looks very simple and easy, but it is just not so. Sometimes the wonderful state of joyful peace dawns on me and I look and wonder: how easily it comes and how intimate it seems, how totally my own. Where was the need to strive so hard for a state so near at hand? This time, surely, it has come to stay. Yet how soon it all dissolves and leaves me wondering -- was it a taste of reality or another aberration. If it was reality, why did it go? Maybe some unique experience is needed to fix me for good in the new state and until the crucial experience comes, this game of hide and seek must continue.
M: Your expectation of something unique and dramatic, of some wonderful explosion, is merely hindering and delaying yourself-realisation. You are not to expect an explosion, for the explosion has already happened -- at the moment when you were born, when you realised yourself as being- knowing-feeling. There is only one mistake you are making: you take the inner for the outer and the outer for the inner. What is in you, you take to be outside you and what is outside, you take to be in you. The mind and feelings are external, but you take them to be intimate. You believe the world to be objective, while it is entirely a projection of your psyche. That is the basic confusion and no new explosion will set it right. You have to think yourself out of it. There is no other way.
Q: How am I to think myself out when my thoughts come and go as they like. Their endless chatter distracts and exhausts me.
M: Watch your thoughts as you watch the street traffic. People come and go; you register without response. It may not be easy in the beginning, but with some practice you will find that your mind can function on many levels at the same time and you can be aware of them all. It is only when you have a vested interest in any particular level, that your attention gets caught in it and you black out on other levels. Even then the work on the blacked out levels goes on, outside the field of consciousness. Do not struggle with your memories and thoughts; try only to include in your field of attention the other, more important questions, like 'Who am l?' 'How did I happen to be born?' 'Whence this universe around me?'. 'What is real and what is momentary?' No memory will persist, if you lose interest in it, it is the emotional link that perpetuates the bondage. You are always seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, always after happiness and peace. Don't you see that it is your very search for happiness that makes you feel miserable? Try the other way: indifferent to pain and pleasure, neither asking, nor refusing, give all your attention to the level on which 'I am' is timelessly present. Soon you will realise that peace and happiness are in your very nature and it is only seeking them through some particular channels, that disturbs. Avoid the disturbance, that is all. To seek there is no need; you would not seek what you already have. You yourself are God, the Supreme Reality. To begin with, trust me, trust the Teacher. It enables you to make the first step -- and then your trust is justified by your own experience. In every walk of life initial trust is essential; without it little can be done. Every undertaking is an act of faith. Even your daily bread you eat on trust! By remembering what I told you you will achieve everything. I am telling you again: You are the all-pervading, all transcending reality. Behave accordingly: think, feel and act in harmony with the whole and the actual experience of what I say will dawn upon you in no time. No effort is needed. Have faith and act on it. Please see that I want nothing from you. It is in your own interest that l speak, because above all you love yourself, you want yourself secure and happy. Don't be ashamed of it, don't deny it. It is natural and good to love oneself. Only you should know what exactly do you love. It is not the body that you love, it is Life --perceiving, feeling, thinking, doing, loving, striving, creating. It is that Life you love, which is you, which is all. realise it in its totality, beyond all divisions and limitations, and all your desires will merge in it, for the greater contains the smaller. Therefore find yourself, for in finding that you find all.
Everybody is glad to be. But few know the fullness of it. You come to know by dwelling in your mind on 'I am', 'I know', 'I love' -- with the will of reaching the deepest meaning of these words.
Q: Can I think 'I am God'?
M: Don't identify yourself with an idea. If you mean by God the Unknown, then you merely say: 'I do not know what I am'. If you know God as you know yourself, you need not say it. Best is the simple feeling 'I am'. Dwell on it patiently. Here patience is wisdom; don't think of failure. There can be no failure in this undertaking.
Q: My thoughts will not let me.
M: Pay no attention. Don't fight them. Just do nothing about them, let them be, whatever they are. Your very fighting them gives them life. Just disregard. Look through. Remember to remember: 'whatever happens -- happens because I am'. All reminds you that you are. Take full advantage of the fact that to experience you must be. You need not stop thinking. Just cease being interested. It is disinterestedness that liberates. Don't hold on, that is all. The world is made of rings. The hooks are all yours. Make straight your hooks and nothing can hold you. Give up your addictions. There is nothing else to give up. Stop your routine of acquisitiveness, your habit of looking for results and the freedom of the universe is yours. Be effortless.
Q: Life is effort. There are so many things to do.
M: What needs doing, do it. Don't resist. Your balance must be dynamic, based on doing just the right thing, from moment to moment. Don't be a child unwilling to grow up. Stereotyped gestures and postures will not help you. Rely entirely on your clarity of thought, purity of motive and integrity of action. You cannot possibly go wrong. Go beyond and leave all behind.
Q: But can anything be left for good?
M: You want something like a round-the-clock ecstasy. Ecstasies come and go, necessarily, for the human brain cannot stand the tension for a long time. A prolonged ecstasy will burn out your brain, unless it is extremely pure and subtle. In nature nothing is at stand-still, everything pulsates, appears and disappears. Heart, breath, digestion, sleep and waking -- birth and death everything comes and goes in waves. Rhythm, periodicity, harmonious alternation of extremes is the rule. No use rebelling against the very pattern of life. If you seek the Immutable, go beyond experience. When I say: remember 'I am' all the time, I mean: 'come back to it repeatedly'. No particular thought can be mind's natural state, only silence. Not the idea of silence, but silence itself. When the mind is in its natural state, it reverts to silence spontaneously after every experience or, rather, every experience happens against the background of silence. Now, what you have learnt here becomes the seed. You may forget it -- apparently. But it will live and in due season sprout and grow and bring forth flowers and fruits. All will happen by itself. You need not do anything, only don't prevent it.
52. Being Happy, Making Happy is the Rhythm of Life
Questioner: I came from Europe a few months ago on one of my periodical visits to my Guru near Calcutta. Now I am on my way back home. I was invited by a friend to meet you and I am glad I came.
Maharaj: What did you learn from your Guru and what practice did you follow?
Q: He is a venerable old man of about eighty. Philosophically he is a Vedantin and the practice he teaches has much to do with rousing the unconscious energies of the mind and bringing the hidden obstacles and blockages into the conscious. My personal sadhana was related to my peculiar problem of early infancy and childhood. My mother could not give me the feeling of being secure and loved, so important to the child's normal development. She was a woman not fit to be a mother; ridden with anxieties and neuroses, unsure of herself, she felt me to be a responsibility and a burden beyond her capacity to bear. She never wanted me to be born. She did not want me to grow and to develop, she wanted me back in her womb, unborn, non-existent. Any movement of life in me she resisted, any attempt to go beyond the narrow circle of her habitual existence she fought fiercely. As a child I was both sensitive and affectionate. I craved for love above everything else and love, the simple, instinctive love of a mother for her child was denied me. The child's search for its mother became the leading motive of my life and I never grew out of it. A happy child, a happy childhood became an obsession with me. Pregnancy, birth, infancy interested me passionately. I became an obstetrician of some renown and contributed to the development of the method of painless childbirth. A happy child of a happy mother -- that was my ideal all my life. But my mother was always there -- unhappy herself, unwilling and incapable to see me happy. It manifested itself in strange ways. Whenever I was unwell, she felt better; when I was in good shape, she was down again, cursing herself and me too. As if she never forgave me my crime of having been born, she made me feel guilty of being alive. 'You live because you hate me. If you love me -- die', was her constant, though silent message. And so I spent my life, being offered death instead of love. Imprisoned, as I was, in my mother, the perennial infant, I could not develop a meaningful relation with a woman; the image of the mother would stand between, unforgiving, unforgiven. I sought solace in my work and found much; but I could not move from the pit of infancy. Finally, I turned to spiritual search and I am on this line steadily for many years. But, in a way it is the same old search for mother's love, call it God or Atma or Supreme Reality. Basically I want to love and be loved; unfortunately the so-called religious people are against life and all for the mind. When faced with life's needs and urges, they begin by classifying, abstracting and conceptualising and then make the classification more important than life itself. They ask to concentrate on and impersonate a concept. Instead of the spontaneous integration through love they recommend a deliberate and laborious concentration on a formula. Whether it is God or Atma, the me or the other, it comes to the same! Something to think about, not somebody to love. It is not theories and systems that I need; there are many equally attractive or plausible. I need a stirring of the heart, a renewal of life, and not a new way of thinking. There are no new ways of thinking, but feelings can be ever fresh. When I love somebody, I meditate on him spontaneously and powerfully, with warmth and vigour, which my mind cannot command. Words are good for shaping feelings; words without feeling are like clothes with no body inside -- cold and limp. This mother of mine -- she drained me of all feelings -- my sources have run dry. Can I find here the richness and abundance of emotions, which I needed in such ample measure as a child?
M: Where is your childhood now? And what is your future?
Q: I was born, I have grown, I shall die.
M: You mean your body, of course. And your mind. I am not talking of your physiology and psychology. They are a part of nature and are governed by nature's laws. I am talking of your search for love. Had it a beginning? Will it have an end?
Q: I really cannot say. It is there -- from the earliest to the last moment of my life. This yearning for love -- how constant and how hopeless!
M: In your search for love what exactly are you searching for?
Q: Simply this: to love and to be loved.
M: You mean a woman?
Q: Not necessarily. A friend, a teacher, a guide -- as long as the feeling is bright and clear. Of course, a woman is the usual answer. But it need not be the only one.
M: Of the two what would you prefer, to love or to be loved?
Q: I would rather have both! But I can see that to love is greater, nobler, deeper. To be loved is sweet, but it does not make one grow.
M: Can you love on your own, or must you be made to love?
Q: One must meet somebody lovable, of course. My mother was not only not loving, she was also not lovable.
M: What makes a person lovable? Is it not the being loved? First you love and then you look for reasons.
Q: It can be the other way round. You love what makes you happy.
M: But what makes you happy?
Q: There is no rule about it. The entire subject is highly individual and unpredictable.
M: Right. Whichever way you put it, unless you love there is no happiness. But, does love make you always happy? Is not the association of love with happiness a rather early, infantile stage? When the beloved suffers, don't you suffer too? And do you cease to love, because you suffer? Must love and happiness come and go together? Is love merely the expectation of pleasure?
Q: Of course not. There can be much suffering in love.
M: Then what is love? Is it not a state of being rather than a state of mind? Must you know that you love in order to love? Did you. not love your mother unknowingly? Your craving for her love, for an opportunity to love her, is it not the movement of love? Is not love as much a part of you, as consciousness of being? You sought the love of your mother, because you loved her.
Q: But she would not let me!
M: She could not stop you.
Q: Then, why was I unhappy all my life?
M: Because you did not go down to the very roots of your being. It is your complete ignorance of yourself, that covered up your love and happiness and made you seek for what you had never lost. Love is will, the will to share your happiness with all. Being happy -- making happy -- this is the rhythm of love.
53. Desires Fulfilled, Breed More Desires
Questioner: I must confess I came today in a rebellious mood. I got a raw deal at the airlines office. When faced with such situations everything seems doubtful, everything seems useless.
Maharaj: This is a very useful mood. Doubting all, refusing all, unwilling to learn through another. It is the fruit of your long sadhana. After all one does not study for ever.
Q: Enough of it. It took me nowhere.
M: Don't say 'nowhere'. It took you where you are -- now.
Q: It is again the child and its tantrums. I have not moved an inch from where I was.
M: You began as a child and you will end as a child. Whatever you have acquired in the meantime you must lose and start at the beginning.
Q: But the child kicks. When it is unhappy or denied anything it kicks.
M: Let it kick. Just look at the kicking. And if you are too afraid of the society to kick convincingly look at that too. I know it is a painful business. But there is no remedy -- except one -- the search for remedies must cease. If you are angry or in pain, separate yourself from anger and pain and watch them. Externalisation is the first step to liberation. Step away and look. The physical events will go on happening, but by themselves they have no importance. It is the mind alone that matters. Whatever happens, you cannot kick and scream in an airline office or in a Bank. Society does not allow it. If you do not like their ways, or are not prepared to endure them, don't fly or carry money. Walk, and if you cannot walk, don't travel. If you deal with society you must accept its ways, for its ways are your ways. Your needs and demands have created them. Your desires are so complex and contradictory -- no wonder the society you create is also complex and contradictory.
Q: I do see and admit that the outer chaos is merely a reflection of my own inner disharmony. But what is the remedy?
M: Don't seek remedies.
Q: Sometimes one is in a 'state of grace' and life is happy and harmonious. But such a state does not last! The mood changes and all goes wrong.
M: If you could only keep quiet, clear of memories and expectations, you would be able to discern the beautiful pattern of events. It is your restlessness that causes chaos.
Q: For full three hours that I spent in the airline office I was practicing patience and forbearance. It did not speed up matters.
M: At least it did not slow them down, as your kicking would have surely done! You want immediate results! We do not dispense magic here. Everybody does the same mistake: refusing the means, but wanting the ends. You want peace and harmony in the world, but refuse to have them in yourself. Follow my advice implicitly and you will not be disappointed. I cannot solve your problem by mere words. You have to act on what I told you and persevere. It is not the right advice that liberates, but the action based on it. Just like a doctor, after giving the patient an injection, tells him: 'Now, keep quiet. Do nothing more, just keep quiet,' I am telling you: you have got your 'injection', now keep quiet, just keep quiet. You have nothing else to do. My Guru did the same. He would tell me something and then said: 'Now keep quiet. Don't go on ruminating all the time. Stop. Be silent'.
Q: I can keep quiet for an hour in the morning. But the day is long and many things happen that throw me out of balance. It is easy to say 'be silent', but to be silent when all is screaming in me and round me -- please tell me how it is done.
M: All that needs doing can be done in peace and silence. There is no need to get upset.
Q: It is all theory which does not fit the facts. I am returning to Europe with nothing to do there. My life is completely empty.
M: If you just try to keep quiet, all will come -- the work, the strength for work, the right motive. Must you know everything beforehand? Don't be anxious about your future -- be quiet now and all will fall in place. The unexpected is bound to happen, while the anticipated may never come. Don't tell me you cannot control your nature. You need not control it. Throw it overboard. Have no nature to fight, or to submit to. No experience will hurt you, provided you don't make it into a habit. Of the entire universe you are the subtle cause. All is because you are. Grasp this point firmly and deeply and dwell on it repeatedly. To realise this as absolutely true, is liberation.
Q: If I am the seed of my universe, then a rotten seed I am! By the fruit the seed is known.
M: What is wrong with your world that you swear at it?
Q: It is full of pain.
M: Nature is neither pleasant nor painful. It is all intelligence and beauty. Pain and pleasure are in the mind. Change your scale of values and all will change. Pleasure and pain are mere disturbances of the senses; treat them equally and there will be only bliss. And the world is, what you make it; by all means make it happy. Only contentment can make you happy -- desires fulfilled breed more desires. Keeping away from all desires and contentment in what comes by itself is a very fruitful state -- a precondition to the state of fullness. Don't distrust its apparent sterility and emptiness. Believe me, it is the satisfaction of desires that breeds misery. Freedom from desires is bliss.
Q: There are things we need.
M: What you need will come to you, if you do not ask for what you do not need. Yet only few people reach this state of complete dispassion and detachment. It is a very high state, the very threshold of liberation.
Q: I have been barren for the last two years, desolate and empty and often was I praying for death to come.
M: Well, with your coming here events have started rolling. Let things happen as they happen -- they will sort themselves out nicely in the end. You need not strain towards the future -- the future will come to you on its own. For some time longer you will remain sleep-walking, as you do now, bereft of meaning and assurance; but this period will end and you will find your work both fruitful and easy. There are always moments when one feels empty and estranged. Such moments are most desirable for it means the soul had cast its moorings and is sailing for distant places. This is detachment -- when the old is over and the new has not yet come. If you are afraid, the state may be distressing; but there is really nothing to be afraid of. Remember the instruction: whatever you come across -- go beyond.
Q: The Buddhas rule: to remember what needs to be remembered. But I find it so difficult to remember the right thing at the right moment. With me forgetting seems to be the rule!
M: It is not easy to remember when every situation brings up a storm of desires and fears. Craving born of memory is also the destroyer of memory.
Q: How am I to fight desire? There is nothing stronger.
M: The waters of life are thundering over the rocks of objects -- desirable or hateful. Remove the rocks by insight and detachment and the same waters will flow deep and silent and swift, in greater volume and with greater power. Don't be theoretical about it, give time to thought and consideration; if you desire to be free, neglect not the nearest step to freedom. It is like climbing a mountain: not a step can be missed. One step less -- and the summit is not reached.
54. Body and Mind are Symptoms of Ignorance
Questioner: We were discussing one day the person -- the witness -- the absolute (vyakti-vyakta- avyakta). As far as I remember, you said that the absolute alone is real and the witness is absolute only at a given point of space and time. The person is the organism, gross and subtle, illumined by the presence of the witness. I do not seem to grasp the matter clearly; could we discuss it again? You also use the terms mahadakash, chidakash and paramakash. How are they related to person, witness, and the absolute?
Maharaj: Mahadakash is nature, the ocean of existences, the physical space with all that can be contacted through the senses. Chidakash is the expanse of awareness, the mental space of time, perception and cognition. Paramakash is the timeless and spaceless reality, mindless, undifferentiated, the infinite potentiality, the source and origin, the substance and the essence, both matter and consciousness -- yet beyond both. It cannot be perceived, but can be experienced as ever witnessing the witness, perceiving the perceiver, the origin and the end of all manifestation, the root of time and space, the prime cause in every chain of causation.
Q: What is the difference between vyakta and avyakta?
M: There is no difference. It is like light and daylight. The universe is full of light which you do not see; but the same light you see as daylight. And what the daylight reveals is the vyakti. The person is always the object, the witness is the subject and their relation of mutual dependence is the reflection of their absolute identity. You imagine that they are distinct and separate states. They are not. They are the same consciousness at rest and in movement, each state conscious of the other. In chit man knows God and God knows man. In chit the man shapes the world and the world shapes man. Chit is the link, the bridge between extremes, the balancing and uniting factor in every experience. The totality of the perceived is what you call matter. The totality of all perceivers is what you call the universal mind. The identity of the two, manifesting itself as perceptibility and perceiving, harmony and intelligence, loveliness and loving, reasserts itself eternally.
Q: The three gunas, sattva--rajas--tamas, are they only in matter, or also in the mind?
M: In both, of course, because the two are not separate. It is only the absolute that is beyond gunas. In fact, these are but points of view, ways of looking. They exist only in the mind. Beyond the mind all distinctions cease.
Q: Is the universe a product of the senses?
M: Just as you recreate your world on waking up, so is the universe unrolled. The mind with its five organs of perception, five organs of action, and five vehicles of consciousness appears as memory, thought, reason and selfhood.
Q: The sciences have made much progress. We know the body and the mind much better than our ancestors. Your traditional way, describing and analysing mind and matter, is no longer valid.
M: But where are your scientists with their sciences? Are they not again images in your own mind?
Q: Here lies the basic difference! To me they are not my own projections. They were before I was born and shall be there when I am dead.
M: Of course. Once you accept time and space as real, you will consider yourself minute and short- lived. But are they real? Do they depend on you, or you on them? As body, you are in space. As mind, you are in time. But are you mere body with a mind in it? Have you ever investigated?
Q: I had neither the motive nor the method.
M: I am suggesting both. But the actual work of insight and detachment (viveka-vairagya) is yours.
Q: The only motive I can perceive is my own causeless and timeless happiness. And what is the method?
M: Happiness is incidental. The true and effective motive is love. You see people suffer and you seek the best way of helping them. The answer is obvious -- first put yourself beyond the need of help. Be sure your attitude is of pure goodwill, free of expectation of any kind. Those who seek mere happiness may end up in sublime indifference, while love will never rest. As to method, there is only one -- you must come to know yourself -- both what you appear to be and what you are. Clarity and charity go together -- each needs and strengthens the other.
Q: Compassion implies the existence of an objective world, full of avoidable sorrow.
M: The world is not objective and the sorrow of it is not avoidable. Compassion is but another word for the refusal to suffer for imaginary reasons.
Q: If the reasons are imaginary, why should the suffering be inevitable?
M: It is always the false that makes you suffer, the false desires and fears, the false values and ideas, the false relationships between people. Abandon the false and you are free of pain; truth makes happy -- truth liberates.
Q: The truth is that I am a mind imprisoned in a body and this is a very unhappy truth.
M: You are neither the body nor in the body -- there is no such thing as body. You have grievously misunderstood yourself; to understand rightly -- investigate.
Q: But I was born as a body, in a body and shall die with the body, as a body.
M: This is your misconception. Enquire, investigate, doubt yourself and others. To find truth, you must not cling to your convictions; if you are sure of the immediate, you will never reach the ultimate. Your idea that you were born and that you will die is absurd: both logic and experience contradict it.
Q: All right, I shall not insist that I am the body. You have a point here. But here and now, as I talk to you, I am in my body -- obviously. The body may not be me, but it is mine.
M: The entire universe contributes incessantly to your existence. Hence the entire universe is your body. In that sense -- I agree.
Q: My body influences me deeply. In more than one way my body is my destiny. My character, my moods, the nature of my reactions, my desires and fears -- inborn or acquired -- they are all based on the body. A little alcohol, some drug or other and all changes. Until the drug wears off I become another man.
M: All this happens because you think yourself to be the body. Realise your real self and even drugs will have no power over you.
Q: You smoke?
M: My body kept a few habits which may as well continue till it dies. There is no harm in them.
Q: You eat meat?
M: I was born among meat-eating people and my children are eating meat. I eat very little -- and make no fuss.
Q: Meat-eating implies killing.
M: Obviously. I make no claims of consistency. You think absolute consistency is possible; prove it by example. Don't preach what you do not practice. Coming back to the idea of having been born. You are stuck with what your parents told you: all about conception, pregnancy and birth, infant, child, youngster, teenager, and so on. Now, divest yourself of the idea that you are the body with the help of the contrary idea that you are not the body. It is also an idea, no doubt; treat it like something to be abandoned when its work is done. The idea that I am not the body gives reality to the body, when in fact, there is no such thing as body, it is but a state of mind. You can have as many bodies and as diverse as you like; just remember steadily what you want and reject the incompatibles.
Q: I am like a box within box, within box, the outer box acting as the body and the one next to it -- as the indwelling soul. Abstract the outer box and the next becomes the body and the one next to it the soul. It is an infinite series, an endless opening of boxes, is the last one the ultimate soul?
M: If you have a body, you must have a soul; here your simile of a nest of boxes applies. But here and now, through all your bodies and souls shines awareness, the pure light of chit. Hold on to it unswervingly. Without awareness, the body would not last a second. There is in the body a current of energy, affection and intelligence, which guides, maintains and energises the body. Discover that current and stay with it. Of course, all these are manners of speaking. Words are as much a barrier, as a bridge. Find the spark of life that weaves the tissues of your body and be with it. It is the only reality the body has.
Q: What happens to that spark of life after death?
M: It is beyond time. Birth and death are but points in time. Life weaves eternally its many webs. The weaving is in time, but life itself is timeless. Whatever name and shape you give to its expressions, it is like the ocean -- never changing, ever changing.
Q: All you say sounds beautifully convincing. yet my feeling of being just a person in a world strange and alien, often inimical and dangerous, does not cease. Being a person, limited in space and time, how can I possibly realise myself as the opposite; a de-personalised, universalised awareness of nothing in particular?
M: You assert yourself to be what you are not and deny yourself to be what you are. You omit the element of pure cognition, of awareness free from all personal distortions. Unless you admit the reality of chit, you will never know yourself.
Q: What am I to do? I do not see myself as you see me. Maybe you are right and I am wrong, but how can I cease to be what I feel I am?
M: A prince who believes himself to be a beggar can be convinced conclusively in one way only: he must behave as a prince and see what happens. Behave as if what I say is true and judge by what actually happens. All I ask is the little faith needed for making the first step. With experience will come confidence and you will not need me any more. I know what you are and I am telling you. Trust me for a while.
Q: To be here and now, I need my body and its senses. To understand, I need a mind.
M: The body and the mind are only symptoms of ignorance, of misapprehension. Behave as if you were pure awareness, bodiless and mindless, spaceless and timeless, beyond 'where' and 'when' and 'how'. Dwell on it, think of it, learn to accept its reality. Don't oppose it and deny it all the time. Keep an open mind at least. Yoga is bending the outer to the inner. Make your mind and body express the real which is all and beyond all. By doing you succeed, not by arguing.
Q: Kindly allow me to come back to my first question. How does the error of being a person originate?
M: The absolute precedes time. Awareness comes first. A bundle of memories and mental habits attracts attention, awareness gets focalised and a person suddenly appears. Remove the light of awareness, go to sleep or swoon away -- and the person disappears. The person (vyakti) flickers, awareness (vyakta) contains all space and time, the absolute (avyakta) is.