That in whom reside all beings and who resides in all beings, who is the giver of grace to all, the Supreme Soul of the universe, the limitless being -- I am that.
That which permeates all, which nothing transcends and which, like the universal space around us, fills everything completely from within and without, that Supreme non-dual Brahman -- that thou art.
The seeker is he who is in search of himself.
Give up all questions except one: ‘Who am I?’ After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The ‘I am’ is certain. The ‘I am this’ is not. Struggle to find out what you are in reality.
To know what you are, you must first investigate and know what you are not.
Discover all that you are not -- body, feelings thoughts, time, space, this or that -- nothing, concrete or abstract, which you perceive can be you. The very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive.
The clearer you understand on the level of mind you can be described in negative terms only, the quicker will you come to the end of your search and realise that you are the limitless being.
|Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj|
Who is Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj?
1. The Sense of ‘I am’|
2. Obsession with the body
3. The Living Present
4. Real World is Beyond the Mind
5. What is Born must Die
7. The Mind
8. The Self Stands Beyond Mind
9. Responses of Memory
11. Awareness and Consciousness
12. The Person is not Reality
13. The Supreme, the Mind and the Body
14. Appearances and the Reality
15. The Jnani
16. Desirelessness, the Highest Bliss
17. The Ever-Present
18. To Know What you Are, Find What you Are Not
19. Reality lies in Objectivity
20. The Supreme is Beyond All
21. Who am I?
22. Life is Love and Love is Life
23. Discrimination leads to Detachment
24. God is the All-doer, the Jnani a Non-doer
25. Hold on to ‘I am’
26. Personality, an Obstacle
27. The Beginningless Begins Forever
28. All Suffering is Born of Desire
29. Living is Life’s only Purpose
30. You are Free NOW
31. Do not Undervalue Attention
32. Life is the Supreme Guru
33. Everything Happens by Itself
34. Mind is restlessness Itself
35. Greatest Guru is Your Inner Self
36. Killing Hurts the Killer, not the Killed
37. Beyond Pain and Pleasure there is Bliss
38. Spiritual Practice is Will Asserted and Re-asserted
39. By Itself Nothing has Existence
40. Only the Self is Real
41. Develop the Witness Attitude
42. Reality can not be Expressed
43. Ignorance can be Recognised, not Jnana
44. 'I am' is True, all else is Inference
45. What Comes and Goes has no Being
46. Awareness of Being is Bliss
47. Watch Your Mind
48. Awareness is Free
49. Mind Causes Insecurity
50. Self-awareness is the Witness
51. Be Indifferent to Pain and Pleasure
52. Being Happy, Making Happy is the Rhythm of Life|
53. Desires Fulfilled, Breed More Desires
54. Body and Mind are Symptoms of Ignorance
55. Give up All and You Gain All
56. Consciousness Arising, World Arises
57. Beyond Mind there is no Suffering
58. Perfection, Destiny of All
59. Desire and Fear: Self-centred States
60. Live Facts, not Fancies
61. Matter is Consciousness Itself
62. In the Supreme the Witness Appears
63. Notion of Doership is Bondage
64. Whatever pleases you, Keeps you Back
65. A Quiet Mind is All You Need
66. All Search for Happiness is Misery
67. Experience is not the Real Thing
68. Seek the Source of Consciousness
69. Transiency is Proof of Unreality
70. God is the End of All Desire and Knowledge
71. In Self-awareness you Learn about Yourself
72. What is Pure, Unalloyed, Unattached is Real
73. Death of the Mind is Birth of Wisdom
74. Truth is Here and Now
75. In Peace and Silence you Grow
76. To Know that You do not Know, is True Knowledge
77. 'I' and 'Mine' are False Ideas
78. All Knowledge is Ignorance
79. Person, Witness and the Supreme
81. Root Cause of Fear
82. Absolute Perfection is Here and Now
83. The True Guru
84. Your Goal is Your Guru
85. ‘I am’: The Foundation of all Experience
86. The Unknown is the Home of the Real
87. Keep the Mind Silent and You shall Discover
88. Knowledge by the Mind, is not True Knowledge
89. Progress in Spiritual Life
90. Surrender to Your Own Self
91. Pleasure and Happiness
92. Go Beyond the l-am-the-body Idea
93. Man is not the Doer
94. You are Beyond Space and Time
95. Accept Life as it Comes
96. Abandon Memories and Expectations
97. Mind and the World are not Separate
98. Freedom from Self-identification
99. The Perceived can not be the Perceiver
100. Understanding leads to Freedom
101. Jnani does not Grasp, nor Hold
Appendix-1: Who is Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj|
Appendix-2: Navnath Sampradaya
That there should be yet another addition of I AM THAT is not surprising, for the sublimity of the words spoken by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, their directness and the lucidity with which they refer to the Highest have already made this book a literature of paramount importance. In fact, many regard it as the only book of spiritual teaching really worth studying.
There are various religions and systems of philosophy which claim to endow human life with meaning. But they suffer from certain inherent limitations. They couch into fine-sounding words their traditional beliefs and ideologies, theological or philosophical. Believers, however, discover the limited range of meaning and applicability of these words, sooner or later. They get disillusioned and tend to abandon the systems, in the same way as scientific theories are abandoned, when they are called in question by too much contradictory empirical data.
When a system of spiritual interpretation turns out to be unconvincing and not capable of being rationally justified, many people allow themselves to be converted to some other system. After a while, however, they find limitations and contradictions in the other system also. In this unrewarding pursuit of acceptance and rejection what remains for them is only scepticism and agnosticism, leading to a fatuous way of living, engrossed in mere gross utilities of life, just consuming material goods. Sometimes, however, though rarely, scepticism gives rise to an intuition of a basic reality, more fundamental than that of words, religions or philosophic systems. Strangely, it is a positive aspect of scepticism. It was in such a state of scepticism, but also having an intuition of the basic reality, that I happened to read Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj’s I AM THAT. I was at once struck by the finality and unassailable certitude of his words. Limited by their very nature though words are, I found the utterances of Maharaj transparent, polished windows, as it were.
No book of spiritual teachings, however, can replace the presence of the teacher himself. Only the words spoken directly to you by the Guru shed their opacity completely. In a Guru’s presence the last boundaries drawn by the mind vanish. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj is indeed such a Guru. He is not a preacher, but he provides precisely those indications which the seeker needs. The reality which emanates from him is inalienable and Absolute. It is authentic. Having experienced the verity of his words in the pages of I AM THAT, and being inspired by it, many from the West have found their way to Maharaj to seek enlightenment.
Maharaj’s interpretation of truth is not different from that of Jnana Yoga/Advaita Vedanta. But, he has a way of his own. The multifarious forms around us, says he, are constituted of the five elements. They are transient, and in a state of perpetual flux. Also they are governed by the law of causation. All this applies to the body and the mind also, both of which are transient and subject to birth and death. We know that only by means of the bodily senses and the mind can the world be known. As in the Kantian view, it is a correlate of the human knowing subject, and, therefore, has the fundamental structure of our way of knowing. This means that time, space and causality are not ‘objective’, or extraneous entities, but mental categories in which everything is moulded. The existence and form of all things depend upon the mind. Cognition is a mental product. And the world as seen from the mind is a subjective and private world, which changes continuously in accordance with the restlessness of the mind itself.
In opposition to the restless mind, with its limited categories -- intentionality, subjectivity, duality etc. -- stands supreme the limitless sense of ‘I am’. The only thing I can be sure about is that ‘I am’; not as a thinking ‘I am’ in the Cartesian sense, but without any predicates. Again and again Maharaj draws our attention to this basic fact in order to make us realise our ‘I am-ness’ and thus get rid of all self-made prisons. He says: The only true statement is ‘I am’. All else is mere inference. By no effort can you change the ‘I am’ into ‘I am-not’.
Behold, the real experiencer is not the mind, but myself, the light in which everything appears. Self is the common factor at the root of all experience, the awareness in which everything happens. The entire field of consciousness is only as a film, or a speck, in ‘I am’. This ‘I am-ness’ is, being conscious of consciousness, being aware of itself. And it is indescribable, because it has no attributes. It is only being my self, and being my self is all that there is. Everything that exists, exists as my self. There is nothing which is different from me. There is no duality and, therefore, no pain. There are no problems. It is the sphere of love, in which everything is perfect. What happens, happens spontaneously, without intentions -- like digestion, or the growth of the hair. Realise this, and be free from the limitations of the mind.
Behold, the deep sleep in which there is no notion of being this or that. Yet ‘I am’ remains. And behold the eternal now. Memory seems to being things to the present out of the past, but all that happens does happen in the present only. It is only in the timeless now that phenomena manifest themselves. Thus, time and causality do not apply in reality. I am prior to the world, body and mind. I am the sphere in which they appear and disappear. I am the source of them all, the universal power by which the world with its bewildering diversity becomes manifest.
In spite of its primevality, however, the sense of ‘I am’ is not the Highest. It is not the Absolute. The sense, or taste of ‘I am-ness’ is not absolutely beyond time. Being the essence of the five elements, it, in a way, depends upon the world. It arises from the body, which, in its turn, is built by food, consisting of the elements. It disappears when the body dies, like the spark extinguishes when the incense stick burns out. When pure awareness is attained, no need exists any more, not even for ‘I am’, which is but a useful pointer, a direction-indicator towards the Absolute. The awareness ‘I am’ then easily ceases. What prevails is that which cannot be described, that which is beyond words. It is this ‘state’ which is most real, a state of pure potentiality, which is prior to everything. The ‘I am’ and the universe are mere reflections of it. It is this reality which a jnani has realised.
The best that you can do is listen attentively to the jnani -- of whom Sri Nisargadatta is a living example -- and to trust and believe him. By such listening you will realise that his reality is your reality. He helps you in seeing the nature of the world and of the ‘I am’. He urges you to study the workings of the body and the mind with solemn and intense concentration, to recognise that you are neither of them and to cast them off. He suggests that you return again and again to ‘I am’ until it is your only abode, outside of which nothing exists; until the ego as a limitation of ‘I am’, has disappeared. It is then that the highest realisation will just happen effortlessly.
Mark the words of the jnani, which cut across all concepts and dogmas. Maharaj says: “until once becomes self-realised, attains to knowledge of the self, transcends the self, until then, all these cock-and-bull stories are provided, all these concepts.” Yes, they are concepts, even ‘I am’ is, but surely there are no concepts more precious. It is for the seeker to regard them with the utmost seriousness, because they indicate the Highest Reality. No better concepts are available to shed all concepts.
I am thankful to Sudhakar S. Dikshit, the editor, for inviting me to write the Foreword to this new edition of I AM THAT and thus giving me an opportunity to pay my homage to Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, who has expounded highest knowledge in the simplest, clearest and the most convincing words.Douwe Tiemersma
When asked about the date of his birth the Master replied blandly that he was never born!
Writing a biographical note on Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj is a frustrating and unrewarding task. For, not only the exact date of his birth is unknown, but no verified facts concerning the early years of his life are available. However, some of his elderly relatives and friends say that he was born in the month of March 1897 on a full moon day, which coincided with the festival of Hanuman Jayanti, when Hindus pay their homage to Hanuman, also named Maruti, the monkey-god of Ramayana fame. And to associate his birth with this auspicious day his parents named him Maruti.
Available information about his boyhood and early youth is patchy and disconnected. We learn that his father, Shivrampant, was a poor man, who worked for some time as a domestic servant in Bombay and, later, eked out his livelihood as a petty farmer at Kandalgaon, a small village in the back woods of Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. Maruti grew up almost without education. As a boy he assisted his father in such labours as lay within his power -- tended cattle, drove oxen, worked in the fields and ran errands. His pleasures were simple, as his labours, but he was gifted with an inquisitive mind, bubbling over with questions of all sorts.
His father had a Brahmin friend named Vishnu Haribhau Gore, who was a pious man and learned too from rural standards. Gore often talked about religious topics and the boy Maruti listened attentively and dwelt on these topics far more than anyone would suppose. Gore was for him the ideal man -- earnest, kind and wise.
When Maruti attained the age of eighteen his father died, leaving behind his widow, four sons and two daughters. The meagre income from the small farm dwindled further after the old man’s death and was not sufficient to feed so many mouths. Maruti’s elder brother left the village for Bombay in search of work and he followed shortly after. It is said that in Bombay he worked for a few months as a low-paid junior clerk in an office, but resigned the job in disgust. He then took petty trading as a haberdasher and started a shop for selling children’s clothes, tobacco and hand-made country cigarettes. This business is said to have flourished in course of time, giving him some sort of financial security. During this period he got married and had a son and three daughters.
Childhood, youth, marriage, progeny -- Maruti lived the usual humdrum and eventless life of a common man till his middle age, with no inkling at all of the sainthood that was to follow. Among his friends during this period was one Yashwantrao Baagkar, who was a devotee of Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj, a spiritual teacher of the Navnath Sampradaya, a sect of Hinduism. One evening Baagkar took Maruti to his Guru and that evening proved to be the turning point in his life. The Guru gave him a mantra and instructions in meditation. Early in his practice he started having visions and occasionally even fell into trances. Something exploded within him, as it were, giving birth to a cosmic consciousness, a sense of eternal life. The identity of Maruti, the petty shopkeeper, dissolved and the illuminating personality of Sri Nisargadatta emerged.
Most people live in the world of self-consciousness and do not have the desire or power to leave it. They exist only for themselves; all their effort is directed towards achievement of self-satisfaction and self-glorification. There are, however, seers, teachers and revealers who, while apparently living in the same world, live simultaneously in another world also -- the world of cosmic consciousness, effulgent with infinite knowledge. After his illuminating experience Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj started living such a dual life. He conducted his shop, but ceased to be a profit-minded merchant. Later, abandoning his family and business he became a mendicant, a pilgrim over the vastness and variety of the Indian religious scene. He walked barefooted on his way to the Himalayas where he planned to pass the rest of his years in quest of a eternal life. But he soon retraced his steps and came back home comprehending the futility of such a quest. Eternal life, he perceived, was not to be sought for; he already had it. Having gone beyond the I-am-the-body idea, he had acquired a mental state so joyful, peaceful and glorious that everything appeared to be worthless compared to it. He had attained self-realisation.
Uneducated though the Master is, his conversation is enlightened to an extraordinary degree. Though born and brought up in poverty, he is the richest of the rich, for he has the limitless wealth of perennial knowledge, compared to which the most fabulous treasures are mere tinsel. He is warm-hearted and tender, shrewdly humorous, absolutely fearless and absolutely true -- inspiring, guiding and supporting all who come to him.
Any attempt to write a biographical not on such a man is frivolous and futile. For he is not a man with a past or future; he is the living present -- eternal and immutable. He is the self that has become all things.
I met Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj some years back and was impressed with the spontaneous simplicity of his appearance and behaviour and his deep and genuine earnestness in expounding his experience.
However humble and difficult to discover his little tenement in the back lanes of Bombay, many have found their way there. Most of them are Indians, conversing freely in their native language, but there were also many foreigners who needed a translator. Whenever I was present the task would fall to me. Many of the questions put and answers given were so interesting and significant that a tape-recorder was brought in. While most of the tapes were of the regular Marathi-English variety, some were polygot scrambles of several Indian and European languages. Later, each tape was deciphered and translated into English.
It was not easy to translate verbatim and at the same time avoid tedious repetitions and reiterations. It is hoped that the present translation of the tape-recordings will not reduce the impact of this clear-minded, generous and in many ways an unusual human being.
A Marathi version of these talks, verified by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj himself, has been separately published.Maurice Frydman
The present edition of I AM THAT is a revised and re-edited version of the 101 talks that appeared in two volumes in earlier editions. Not only the matter has now been re-set in a more readable typeface and with chapter headings, but new pictures of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj have been included and the appendices contain some hitherto unpublished valuable material.
I draw special attention to the reader to the contribution entitled ‘Nisarga Yoga’, in which my esteemed friend, the late Maurice Frydman, has succinctly presented the teaching of Maharaj. Simplicity and humility are the keynotes of his teachings, as Maurice observes. The Master does not propound any intellectual concept or doctrine. He does not put forward any pre-conditions before the seekers and is happy with them as they are. In fact Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj is peculiarly free from all disparagement and condemnation; the sinner and the saint are merely exchanging notes; the saint has sinned, the sinner can be sanctified. It is time that divides them; it is time that will bring them together. The teacher does not evaluate; his sole concern is with ‘suffering and the ending of suffering’. He knows from his personal and abiding experience that the roots of sorrow are in the mind and it is the mind that must be freed from its distorting and destructive habits. Of these the identification of the self with its projections is most fatal. By precept and example Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj shows a short-cut, a-logical but empirically sound. It operates, when understood.
Revising and editing of I AM THAT has been for me a pilgrimage to my inner self -- at once ennobling and enlightening. I have done my work in a spirit of dedication, with great earnestness. I have treated the questions of every questioner as mine own questions and have imbibed the answers of the Master with a mind emptied of all it knew. However, in this process of what may be called a two-voiced meditation, it is possible that at places I may have failed in the cold-blooded punctiliousness about the syntax and punctuation, expected of an editor. For such lapses, if any, I seek forgiveness of the reader.
Before closing, I wish to express my heart-felt thanks to Professor Douwe Tiemersma of the Philosophical Faculty Erasmus, Universieit, Rottendam, Holland for contributing a new Foreword to this edition. That he acceeded to my request promptly makes me feel all the more grateful.Sudhakar S. Dikshit
Questioner: It is a matter of daily experience that on waking up the world suddenly appears. Where does it come from?
Maharaj: Before anything can come into being there must be somebody to whom it comes. All appearance and disappearance presupposes a change against some changeless background.
Q: Before waking up I was unconscious.
M: In what sense? Having forgotten, or not having experienced? Don’t you experience even when unconscious? Can you exist without knowing? A lapse in memory: is it a proof of non-existence? And can you validly talk about your own non-existence as an actual experience? You cannot even say that your mind did not exist. Did you not wake up on being called? And on waking up, was it not the sense ‘I am’ that came first? Some seed consciousness must be existing even during sleep, or swoon. On waking up the experience runs: ‘I am -- the body -- in the world.’ It may appear to arise in succession but in fact it is all simultaneous, a single idea of having a body in a world. Can there be the sense of ‘I am’ without being somebody or other?
Q: I am always somebody with its memories and habits. I know no other ‘I am’.
M: Maybe something prevents you from knowing? When you do not know something which others know, what do you do?
Q: I seek the source of their knowledge under their instruction.
M: Is it not important to you to know whether you are a mere body, or something else? Or, maybe nothing at all? Don’t you see that all your problems are your body’s problems -- food, clothing, shelter, family, friends, name, fame, security, survival -- all these lose their meaning the moment you realise that you may not be a mere body.
Q: What benefit is there in knowing that I am not the body?
M: Even to say that you are not the body is not quite true. In a way you are all the bodies, hearts and minds and much more. Go deep into the sense of ‘I am’ and you will find. How do you find a thing you have mislaid or forgotten? You keep it in your mind until you recall it. The sense of being, of 'I am' is the first to emerge. Ask yourself whence it comes, or just watch it quietly. When the mind stays in the 'I am' without moving, you enter a state which cannot be verbalised but can be experienced. All you need to do is try and try again. After all the sense ‘I am’ is always with you, only you have attached all kinds of things to it -- body, feelings, thoughts, ideas, possessions etc. All these self-identifications are misleading. Because of them you take yourself to be what you are not.
Q: Then what am I?
M: It is enough to know what you are not. You need not know what you are. For as long as knowledge means description in terms of what is already known, perceptual, or conceptual, there can be no such thing as self-knowledge, for what you are cannot be described, except as except as total negation. All you can say is: ‘I am not this, I am not that’. You cannot meaningfully say ‘this is what I am’. It just makes no sense. What you can point out as 'this' or 'that' cannot be yourself. Surely, you can not be 'something' else. You are nothing perceivable, or imaginable. Yet, without you there can be neither perception nor imagination. You observe the heart feeling, the mind thinking, the body acting; the very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive. Can there be perception, experience without you? An experience must ‘belong'. Somebody must come and declare it as his own. Without an experiencer the experience is not real. It is the experiencer that imparts reality to experience. An experience which you cannot have, of what value is it to you?
Q: The sense of being an experiencer, the sense of ‘I am’, is it not also an experience?
M: Obviously, every thing experienced is an experience. And in every experience there arises the experiencer of it. Memory creates the illusion of continuity. In reality each experience has its own experiencer and the sense of identity is due to the common factor at the root of all experiencer-experience relations. Identity and continuity are not the same. Just as each flower has its own colour, but all colours are caused by the same light, so do many experiences appear in the undivided and indivisible awareness, each separate in memory, identical in essence. This essence is the root, the foundation, the timeless and spaceless 'possibility' of all experience.
Q: How do I get at it?
M: You need not get at it, for you are it. It will get at you, if you give it a chance. Let go your attachment to the unreal and the real will swiftly and smoothly step into its own. Stop imagining yourself being or doing this or that and the realisation that you are the source and heart of all will dawn upon you. With this will come great love which is not choice or predilection, nor attachment, but a power which makes all things love-worthy and lovable.
Questioner: Maharaj, you are sitting in front of me and I am here at your feet. What is the basic difference between us?
Maharaj: There is no basic difference.
Q: Still there must be some real difference, I come to you, you do not come to me.
M: Because you imagine differences, you go here and there in search of ‘superior’ people.
Q: You too are a superior person. You claim to know the real, while I do not.
M: Did I ever tell you that you do not know and, therefore, you are inferior? Let those who invented such distinctions prove them. I do not claim to know what you do not. In fact, I know much less than you do.
Q: Your words are wise, your behaviour noble, your grace all-powerful.
M: I know nothing about it all and see no difference between you and me. My life is a succession of events, just like yours. Only I am detached and see the passing show as a passing show, while you stick to things and move along with them.
Q: What made you so dispassionate?
M: Nothing in particular. It so happened that I trusted my Guru. He told me I am nothing but my self and I believed him. Trusting him, I behaved accordingly and ceased caring for what was not me, nor mine.
Q: Why were you lucky to trust your teacher fully, while our trust is nominal and verbal?
M: Who can say? It happened so. Things happen without cause and reason and, after all, what does it matter, who is who? Your high opinion of me is your opinion only. Any moment you may change it. Why attach importance to opinions, even your own?
Q: Still, you are different. Your mind seems to be always quiet and happy. And miracles happen round you.
M: I know nothing about miracles, and I wonder whether nature admits exceptions to her laws, unless we agree that everything is a miracle. As to my mind, there is no such thing. There is consciousness in which everything happens. It is quite obvious and within the experience of everybody. You just do not look carefully enough. Look well, and see what I see.
Q: What do you see?
M: I see what you too could see, here and now, but for the wrong focus of your attention. You give no attention to your self. Your mind is all with things, people and ideas, never with your self. Bring your self into focus, become aware of your own existence. See how you function, watch the motives and the results of your actions. Study the prison you have built around yourself by inadvertence. By knowing what you are not, you come to know your self. The way back to your self is through refusal and rejection. One thing is certain: the real is not imaginary, it is not a product of the mind. Even the sense ‘I am’ is not continuous, though it is a useful pointer; it shows where to seek, but not what to seek. Just have a good look at it. Once you are convinced that you cannot say truthfully about your self anything except ‘I am’, and that nothing that can be pointed at, can be your self, the need for the ‘I am’ is over -- you are no longer intent on verbalising what you are. All you need is to get rid of the tendency to define your self. All definitions apply to your body only and to its expressions. Once this obsession with the body goes, you will revert to your natural state, spontaneously and effortlessly. The only difference between us is that I am aware of my natural state, while you are bemused. Just like gold made into ornaments has no advantage over gold dust, except when the mind makes it so, so are we one in being -- we differ only in appearance. We discover it by being earnest, by searching, enquiring, questioning daily and hourly, by giving one's life to this discovery.
Questioner: As I can see, there is nothing wrong with my body nor with my real being. Both are not of my making and need not be improved upon. What has gone wrong is the ‘inner body’, call it mind, consciousness, antahkarana, whatever the name.
Maharaj: What do you consider to be wrong with your mind?
Q: It is restless, greedy of the pleasant and afraid of the unpleasant.
M: What is wrong with its seeking the pleasant and shirking the unpleasant? Between the banks of pain and pleasure the river of life flows. It is only when the mind refuses to flow with life, and gets stuck at the banks, that it becomes a problem. By flowing with life I mean acceptance -- letting come what comes and go what goes. Desire not, fear not, observe the actual, as and when it happens, for you are not what happens, you are to whom it happens. Ultimately even the observer you are not. You are the ultimate potentiality of which the all-embracing consciousness is the manifestation and expression.
Q: Yet, between the body and the self there lies a cloud of thoughts and feelings, which neither server the body nor the self. These thoughts and feelings are flimsy, transient and meaningless, mere mental dust that blinds and chokes, yet they are there, obscuring and destroying.
M: Surely, the memory of an event cannot pass for the event itself. Nor can the anticipation. There is something exceptional, unique, about the present event, which the previous, or the coming do not have. There is a livingness about it, an actuality; it stands out as if illuminated. There is the ‘stamp of reality’ on the actual, which the past and the future do not have.
Q: What gives the present that 'stamp of reality’?
M: There is nothing peculiar in the present event to make it different from the past and future. For a moment the past was actual and the future will become so. What makes the present so different? Obviously, my presence. I am real for I am always now, in the present, and what is with me now shares in my reality. The past is in memory, the future -- in imagination. There is nothing in the present event itself that makes it stand out as real. It may be some simple, periodical occurrence, like the striking of the clock. In spite of our knowing that the successive strokes are identical, the present stroke is quite different from the previous one and the next -- as remembered, or expected. A thing focussed in the now is with me, for I am ever present; it is my own reality that I impart to the present event.
Q: But we deal with things remembered as if they were real.
M: We consider memories, only when they come into the present The forgotten is not counted until one is reminded -- which implies, bringing into the now.
Q: Yes, I can see there is in the now some unknown factor that gives momentary reality to the transient actuality.
M: You need not say it is unknown, for you see it in constant operation. Since you were born, has it ever changed? Things and thoughts have been changing all the time. But the feeling that what is now is real has never changed, even in dream.
Q: In deep sleep there is no experience of the present reality.
M: The blankness of deep sleep is due entirely to the lack of specific memories. But a general memory of well-being is there. There is a difference in feeling when we say ‘I was deeply asleep’ from ‘I was absent’.
Q: We shall repeat the question we began with: between life’s source and life’s expression (which is the body), there is the mind and its ever-changeful states. The stream of mental states is endless, meaningless and painful. Pain is the constant factor. What we call pleasure is but a gap, an interval between two painful states. Desire and fear are the weft and warp of living, and both are made of pain. Our question is: can there be a happy mind?
M: Desire is the memory of pleasure and fear is the memory of pain. Both make the mind restless. Moments of pleasure are merely gaps in the stream of pain. How can the mind be happy?
Q: That is true when we desire pleasure or expect pain. But there are moments of unexpected, unanticipated joy. Pure joy, uncontaminated by desire -- unsought, undeserved, God-given.
M: Still, joy is joy only against a background of pain.
Q: Is pain a cosmic fact, or purely mental?
M: The universe is complete and where there is completeness, where nothing lacks, what can give pain?
Q: The Universe may be complete as a whole, but incomplete in details.
M: A part of the whole seen in relation to the whole is also complete. Only when seen in isolation it becomes deficient and thus a seat of pain. What makes for isolation?
Q: Limitations of the mind, of course. The mind cannot see the whole for the part.
M: Good enough. The mind, by its very nature, divides and opposes. Can there be some other mind, which unites and harmonises, which sees the whole in the part and the part as totally related to the whole?
Q: The other mind -- where to look for it?
M: In the going beyond the limiting, dividing and opposing mind. In ending the mental process as we know it. When this comes to an end, that mind is born.
Q: In that mind, the problem of joy and sorrow exist no longer?
M: Not as we know them, as desirable or repugnant. It becomes rather a question of love seeking expression and meeting with obstacles. The inclusive mind is love in action, battling against circumstances, initially frustrated, ultimately victorious.
Q: Between the spirit and the body, is it love that provides the bridge?
M: What else? Mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it.
Questioner: On several occasions the question was raised as to whether the universe is subject to the law of causation, or does it exist and function outside the law. You seem to hold the view that it is uncaused, that everything, however small, is uncaused, arising and disappearing for no known reason whatsoever.
Maharaj: Causation means succession in time of events in space, the space being physical or mental. Time, space, causation are mental categories, arising and subsiding with the mind.
Q: As long as the mind operates, causation is a valid law.
M: Like everything mental, the so-called law of causation contradicts itself. No thing in existence has a particular cause; the entire universe contributes to the existence of even the smallest thing; nothing could be as it is without the universe being what it is. When the source and ground of everything is the only cause of everything, to speak of causality as a universal law is wrong. The universe is not bound by its content, because its potentialities are infinite; besides it is a manifestation, or expression of a principle fundamentally and totally free.
Q: Yes, one can see that ultimately to speak of one thing being the only cause of another thing is altogether wrong. Yet, in actual life we invariably initiate action with a view to a result.
M: Yes, there is a lot of such activity going on, because of ignorance. 'Would people know that nothing can happen unless the entire universe makes it happen, they would achieve much more with less expenditure of energy.
Q: If everything is an expression of the totality of causes, how can we talk of a purposeful action towards an achievement?
M: The very urge to achieve is also an expression of the total universe. It merely shows that the energy potential has risen at a particular point. It is the illusion of time that makes you talk of causality. When the past and the future are seen in the timeless now, as parts of a common pattern, the idea of cause-effect loses its validity and creative freedom takes its place.
Q: Yet, I cannot see how can anything come to be without a cause.
M: When I say a thing is without a cause, I mean it can be without a particular cause. Your own mother was needed to give you birth; But you could not have been born without the sun and the earth. Even these could not have caused your birth without your own desire to be born. It is desire that gives birth, that gives name and form. The desirable is imagined and wanted and manifests itself as something tangible or conceivable. Thus is created the world in which we live, our personal world. The real world is beyond the mind's ken; we see it through the net of our desires, divided into pleasure and pain, right and wrong, inner and outer. To see the universe as it is, you must step beyond the net. It is not hard to do so, for the net is full of holes.
Q: What do you mean by holes? And how to find them?
M: Look at the net and its many contradictions. You do and undo at every step. You want peace, love, happiness and work hard to create pain, hatred and war. You want longevity and overeat, you want friendship and exploit. See your net as made of such contradictions and remove them -- your very seeing them will make them go.
Q: Since my seeing the contradiction makes it go, is there no causal link between my seeing and its going?
M: Causality, even as a concept, does not apply to chaos.
Q: To what extent is desire a causal factor?
M: One of the many. For everything there are innumerable causal factors. But the source of all that is, is the Infinite Possibility, the Supreme Reality, which is in you and which throws its power and light and love on every experience. But, this source is not a cause and no cause is a source. Because of that, I say everything is uncaused. You may try to trace how a thing happens, but you cannot find out why a thing is as it is. A thing is as it is, because the universe is as it is.
Questioner: Is the witness-consciousness permanent or not?
Maharaj: It is not permanent. The knower rises and sets with the known. That in which both the knower and the known arise and set, is beyond time. The words permanent or eternal do not apply.
Q: In sleep there is neither the known, nor the knower. What keeps the body sensitive and receptive?
M: Surely you cannot say the knower was absent. The experience of things and thoughts was not there, that is all. But the absence of experience too is experience. It is like entering a dark room and saying: 'I see nothing'. A man blind from birth knows not what darkness means. Similarly, only the knower knows that he does not know. Sleep is merely a lapse in memory. Life goes on.
Q: And what is death?
M: It is the change in the living process of a particular body. Integration ends and disintegration sets in.
Q: But what about the knower. With the disappearance of the body, does the knower disappear?
M: Just as the knower of the body appears at birth, so he disappears at death.
Q: And nothing remains?
M: Life remains. Consciousness needs a vehicle and an instrument for its manifestation. When life produces another body, another knower comes into being,
Q: Is there a causal link between the successive bodyknowers, or body-minds?
M: Yes, there is something that may be called the memory body, or causal body, a record of all that was thought, wanted and done. It is like a cloud of images held together
Q: What is this sense of a separate existence?
M: It is a reflection in a separate body of the one reality. In this reflection the unlimited and the limited are confused and taken to be the same. To undo this confusion is the purpose of Yoga.
Q: Does not death undo this confusion?
M: In death only the body dies. Life does not, consciousness does not, reality does not. And the life is never so alive as after death.
Q: But does one get reborn?
M: What was born must die. Only the unborn is deathless. Find what is it that never sleeps and never wakes, and whose pale reflection is our sense of 'I'.
Q: How am I to go about this finding out?
M: How do you go about finding anything? By keeping your mind and heart in it. Interest there must be and steady remembrance. To remember what needs to be remembered is the secret of success. You come to it through earnestness.
Q: Do you mean to say that mere wanting to find out is enough? Surely, both qualifications and opportunities are needed.
M: These will come with earnestness. What is supremely important is to be free from contradictions: the goal and the way must not be on different levels; life and light must not quarrel; behaviour must not betray belief. Call it honesty, integrity, wholeness; you must not go back, undo, uproot, abandon the conquered ground. Tenacity of purpose and honesty in pursuit will bring you to your goal.
Q: Tenacity and honesty are endowments, surely! Not a trace of them I have.
M: All will come as you go on. Take the first step first. All blessings come from within. Turn within. 'l am' you know. Be with it all the time you can spare, until you revert to it spontaneously. There is no simpler and easier way.
Questioner: All teachers advise to meditate. What is the purpose of meditation?
Maharaj: We know the outer world of sensations and actions, but of our inner world of thoughts and feelings we know very little. The primary purpose of meditation is to become conscious of, and familiar with, our inner life. The ultimate purpose is to reach the source of life and consciousness.
Incidentally practice of meditation affects deeply our character. We are slaves to what we do not know; of what we know we are masters. Whatever vice or weakness in ourselves we discover and understand its causes and its workings, we overcome it by the very knowing; the unconscious dissolves when brought into the conscious. The dissolution of the unconscious releases energy; the mind feels adequate and become quiet.
Q: What is the use of a quiet mind?
M: When the mind is quiet, we come to know ourselves as the pure witness. We withdraw from the experience and its experiencer and stand apart in pure awareness, which is between and beyond the two. The personality, based on self-identification, on imagining oneself to be something: 'I am this, I am that', continues, but only as a part of the objective world. Its identification with the witness snaps.
Q: As I can make out, I live on many levels and life on each level requires energy. The self by its very nature delights in everything and its energies flow outwards. Is it not the purpose of meditation to dam up the energies on the higher levels, or to push them back and up, so as to enable the higher levels to prosper also?
M: It is not so much the matter of levels as of gunas (qualities). Meditation is a sattvic activity and aims at complete elimination of tamas (inertia) and rajas (motivity). Pure sattva (harmony) is perfect freedom from sloth and restlessness.
Q: How to strengthen and purify the sattva?
M: The sattva is pure and strong always. It is like the sun. It may seem obscured by clouds and dust, but only from the point of view of the perceiver. Deal with the causes of obscuration, not with the sun.
Q: What is the use of sattva?
M: What is the use of truth, goodness, harmony, beauty? They are their own goal. They manifest spontaneously and effortlessly, when things are left to themselves, are not interfered with, not shunned, or wanted, or conceptualised, but just experienced in full awareness, such awareness itself is sattva. It does not make use of things and people -- it fulfils them.
Q: Since I cannot improve sattva, am I to deal with tamas and rajas only? How can I deal with them?
M: By watching their influence in you and on you. Be aware of them in operation, watch their expressions in your thoughts, words and deeds, and gradually their grip on you will lessen and the clear light of sattva will emerge. It is neither difficult, nor a protracted process; earnestness is the only condition of success.
Questioner: There are very interesting books written by apparently very competent people, in which the illusoriness of the world is denied (though not its transitoriness). According to them, there exists a hierarchy of beings, from the lowest to the highest; on each level the complexity of the organism enables and reflects the depth, breadth and intensity of consciousness, without any visible or knowable culmination. One law supreme rules throughout: evolution of forms for the growth and enrichment of consciousness and manifestation of its infinite potentialities.
Maharaj: This may or may not be so. Even if it is, it is only so from the mind’s point of view, but In fact the entire universe (mahadakash) exists only in consciousness (chidakash), while I have my stand in the Absolute (paramakash). In pure being consciousness arises; in consciousness the world appears and disappears. All there is is me, all there is is mine. Before all beginnings, after all endings -- I am. All has its being in me, in the ‘I am’, that shines in every living being. Even not-being is unthinkable without me. Whatever happens, I must be there to witness it.
Q: Why do you deny being to the world?
M: I do not negate the world. I see it as appearing in consciousness, which is the totality of the known in the immensity of the unknown.
What begins and ends is mere appearance. The world can be said to appear, but not to be. The appearance may last very long on some scale of time, and be very short on another, but ultimately it comes to the same. Whatever is time bound is momentary and has no reality.
Q: Surely, you see the actual world as it surrounds you. You seem to behave quite normally!
M: That is how it appears to you. What in your case occupies the entire field of consciousness, is a mere speck in mine. The world lasts, but for a moment. It is your memory that makes you think that the world continues. Myself, I don't live by memory. I see the world as it is, a momentary appearance in consciousness.
Q: In your consciousness?
M: All idea of ‘me’ and ‘mine’, even of ‘I am’ is in consciousness.
Q: Is then your ‘absolute being’ (paramakash) un-consciousness?
M: The idea of un-consciousness exists in consciousness only.
Q: Then, how do you know you are in the supreme state?
M: Because I am in it. It is the only natural state.
Q: Can you describe it?
M: Only by negation, as uncaused, independent, unrelated, undivided, uncomposed, unshakable, unquestionable, unreachable by effort. Every positive definition is from memory and, therefore, inapplicable. And yet my state is supremely actual and, therefore, possible, realisable, attainable.
Q: Are you not immersed timelessly in an abstraction?
M: Abstraction is mental and verbal and disappears in sleep, or swoon; it reappears in time; I am in my own state (swarupa) timelessly in the now. Past and future are in mind only -- I am now.
Q: The world too is now.
M: Which world?
Q: The world around us.
M: It is your world you have in mind, not mine. What do you know of me, when even my talk with you is in your world only? You have no reason to believe that my world is identical with yours. My world is real, true, as it is perceived, while yours appears and disappears, according to the state of your mind. Your world is something alien, and you are afraid of it. My world is myself. I am at home.
Q: If you are the world, how can you be conscious of it? Is not the subject of consciousness different from its object?
M: Consciousness and the world appear and disappear together, hence they are two aspects of the same state.
Q: In sleep I am not, and the world continues.
M: How do you know?
Q: On waking up I come to know. My memory tells me.
M: Memory is in the mind. The mind continues in sleep.
Q: It is partly in abeyance.
M: But its world picture is not affected. As long as the mind is there, your body and your world are there. Your world is mind-made, subjective, enclosed within the mind, fragmentary, temporary, personal, hanging on the thread of memory.
Q: So is yours?
M: Oh no. I live in a world of realities, while yours is of imagination. Your world is personal, private, unshareable, intimately your own. Nobody can enter it, see as you see, hear as you hear, feel your emotions and think your thoughts. In your world you are truly alone, enclosed in your ever-changing dream, which you take for life. My world is an open world, common to all, accessible to all. In my world there is community, insight, love, real quality; the individual is the total, the totality -- in the individual. All are one and the One is all.
Q: Is your world full of things and people as is mine?
M: No, it is full of myself.
Q: But do you see and hear as we do?
M: Yes, l appear to hear and see and talk and act, but to me it just happens, as to you digestion or perspiration happens. The body-mind machine looks after it, but leaves me out of it. Just as you do not need to worry about growing hair, so I need not worry about words and actions. They just happen and leave me unconcerned, for in my world nothing ever goes wrong.
Questioner: As a child fairly often I experienced states of complete happiness, verging on ecstasy: later, they ceased, but since I came to India they reappeared, particularly after I met you. Yet these states, however wonderful, are not lasting. They come and go and there is no knowing when they will come back.
Maharaj: How can anything be steady in a mind which itself is not steady?
Q: How can I make my mind steady?
M: How can an unsteady mind make itself steady? Of course it cannot. It is the nature of the mind to roam about. All you can do is to shift the focus of consciousness beyond the mind.
Q: How is it done?
M: Refuse all thoughts except one: the thought 'I am'. The mind will rebel in the beginning, but with patience and perseverance it will yield and keep quiet. Once you are quiet, things will begin to happen spontaneously and quite naturally without any interference on your part.
Q: Can I avoid this protracted battle with my mind?
M: Yes, you can. Just live your life as it comes, but alertly, watchfully, allowing everything to happen as it happens, doing the natural things the natural way, suffering, rejoicing -- as life brings. This also is a way.
Q: Well, then I can as well marry, have children, run a business… be happy.
M: Sure. You may or may not be happy, take it in your stride.
Q: Yet I want happiness.
M: True happiness cannot be found in things that change and pass away. Pleasure and pain alternate inexorably. Happiness comes from the self and can be found in the self only. Find your real self (swarupa) and all else will come with it.
Q: If my real self is peace and love, why is it so restless?
M: It is not your real being that is restless, but its reflection in the mind appears restless because the mind is restless. It is just like the reflection of the moon in the water stirred by the wind. The wind of desire stirs the mind and the 'me', which is but a reflection of the Self in the mind, appears changeful. But these ideas of movement, of restlessness, of pleasure and pain are all in the mind. The Self stands beyond the mind, aware, but unconcerned.
Q: How to reach it?
M: You are the Self, here and now Leave the mind alone, stand aware and unconcerned and you will realise that to stand alert but detached, watching events come and go, is an aspect of your real nature.
Q: What are the other aspects?
M: The aspects are infinite in number. Realise one, and you will realise all.
Q: Tell me some thing that would help me.
M: You know best what you need!
Q: I am restless. How can I gain peace?
M: For what do you need peace?
Q: To be happy.
M: Are you not happy now?
Q: No, I am not.
M: What makes you unhappy?
Q: I have what I don’t want, and want what I don’t have.
M: Why don’t you invert it: want what you have and care not for what you don’t have?
Q: I want what is pleasant and don’t want what is painful.
M: How do you know what is pleasant and what is not?
Q: From past experience, of course.
M: Guided by memory you have been pursuing the pleasant and shunning the unpleasant. Have you succeeded?
Q: No, I have not. The pleasant does not last. Pain sets in again.
M: Which pain?
Q: The desire for pleasure, the fear of pain, both are states of distress. Is there a state of unalloyed pleasure?
M: Every pleasure, physical or mental, needs an instrument. Both the physical and mental instruments are material, they get tired and worn out. The pleasure they yield is necessarily limited in intensity and duration. Pain is the background of all your pleasures. You want them because you suffer. On the other hand, the very search for pleasure is the cause of pain. It is a vicious circle.
Q: I can see the mechanism of my confusion, but I do not see my way out of it.
M: The very examination of the mechanism shows the way. After all, your confusion is only in your mind, which never rebelled so far against confusion and never got to grips with it. It rebelled only against pain.
Q: So, all I can do is to stay confused?
M: Be alert. Question, observe, investigate, learn all you can about confusion, how it operates, what it does to you and others. By being clear about confusion you become clear of confusion.
Q: When I look into myself, I find my strongest desire is to create a monument, to build something which will outlast me. Even when I think of a home, wife and child, it is because it is a lasting, solid, testimony to myself.
M: Right, build yourself a monument. How do you propose to do it?
Q: It matters little what I build, as long as it is permanent.
M: Surely, you can see for yourself that nothing is permanent. All wears out, breaks down, dissolves. The very ground on which you build gives way. What can you build that will outlast all?
Q: Intellectually, verbally, I am aware that all is transient. Yet, somehow my heart wants permanency. I want to create something that lasts.
M: Then you must build it of something lasting. What have you that is lasting? Neither your body nor mind will last. You must look elsewhere.
Q: I long for permanency, but I find it nowhere.
M: Are you, yourself, not permanent?
Q: I was born, I shall die.
M: Can you truly say you were not before you were born and can you possibly say when dead: ‘Now I am no more’? You cannot say from your own experience that you are not. You can only say ‘I am’. Others too cannot tell you ‘you are not’.
Q: There is no ‘I am’ in sleep.
M: Before you make such sweeping statements, examine carefully your waking state. You will soon discover that it is full of gaps, when the min blanks out. Notice how little you remember even when fully awake. You just don’t remember. A gap in memory is not necessarily a gap in consciousness.
Q: Can I make myself remember my state of deep sleep?
M: Of course! By eliminating the intervals of inadvertence during your waking hours you will gradually eliminate the long interval of absent-mindedness, which you call sleep. You will be aware that you are asleep.
Q: Yet, the problem of permanency, of continuity of being, is not solved.
M: Permanency is a mere idea, born of the action of time. Time again depends of memory. By permanency you mean unfailing memory through endless time. You want to eternalise the mind, which is not possible.
Q: Then what is eternal?
M: That which does not change with time. You cannot eternalise a transient thing -- only the changeless is eternal.
Q: I am familiar with the general sense of what you say. I do not crave for more knowledge. All I want is peace.
M: You can have for the asking all the peace you want.
Q: I am asking.
M: You must ask with an undivided heart and live an integrated life.
M: Detach yourself from all that makes your mind restless. Renounce all that disturbs its peace. If you want peace, deserve it.
Q: Surely everybody deserves peace.
M: Those only deserve it, who don't disturb it.
Q: In what way do I disturb peace?
M: By being a slave to your desires and fears.
Q: Even when they are justified?
M: Emotional reactions, born of ignorance or inadvertence, are never justified. Seek a clear mind and a clean heart. All you need is to keep quietly alert, enquiring into the real nature of yourself. This is the only way to peace.
Questioner: Some say the universe was created. Others say that it always existed and is for ever undergoing transformation. Some say it is subject to eternal laws. Others deny even causality. Some say the world is real. Others -- that it has no being whatsoever.
Maharaj: Which world are you enquiring about?
Q: The world of my perceptions, of course.
M: The world you can perceive is a very small world indeed. And it is entirely private. Take it to be a dream and be done with it.
Q: How can I take it to be a dream? A dream does not last.
M: How long will your own world last?
Q: After all, my little world is but a part of the total.
M: Is not the idea of a total world a part of your personal world? The universe does not come to tell you that you are a part of it. It is you who have invented a totality to contain you as a part. In fact all you know is your own private world, however well you have furnished it with your imaginations and expectations.
Q: Surely, perception is not imagination!
M: What else? Perception is recognition, is it not? Something entirely unfamiliar can be sensed, but cannot be perceived. Perception involves memory.
Q: Granted, but memory does not make it illusion.
M: Perception, imagination, expectation, anticipation, illusion -- all are based on memory. There are hardly any border lines between them. They just merge into each other. All are responses of memory.
Q: Still, memory is there to prove the reality of my world.
M: How much do you remember? Try to write down from memory what you were thinking, saying and doing on the 30th of the last month.
Q: Yes, there is a blank.
M: It is not so bad. You do remember a lot -- unconscious memory makes the world in which you live so familiar.
Q: Admitted that the world in which I live is subjective and partial. What about you? In what kind of world do you live?
M: My world is just like yours. I see, I hear, I feel, I think, I speak and act in a world I perceive, just like you. But with you it is all, with me it is nothing. Knowing the world to be a part of myself, I pay it no more attention than you pay to the food you have eaten. While being prepared and eaten, the food is separate from you and your mind is on it; once swallowed, you become totally unconscious of it. I have eaten up the world and I need not think of it any more.
Q: Don’t you become completely irresponsible?
M: How could I? How can I hurt something which is one with me. On the contrary, without thinking of the world, whatever I do will be of benefit to it. Just as the body sets itself right unconsciously, so am I ceaselessly active in setting the world right.
Q: Nevertheless, you are aware of the immense suffering of the world?
M: Of course I am, much more than you are.
Q: Then what do you do?
M: I look at it through the eyes of God and find that all is well.
Q: How can you say that all is well? Look at the wars, the exploitation, the cruel strife between the citizen and the state.
M: All these sufferings are man-made and it is within man's power to put an end to them. God helps by facing man with the results of his actions and demanding that the balance should be restored. Karma is the law that works for righteousness; it is the healing hand of God.
Questioner: I am full of desires and want them fulfilled. How am I to get what I want?
Maharaj: Do you deserve what you desire? In some way or other you have to work for the fulfilment of your desires. Put in energy and wait for the results.
Q: Where am I to get the energy?
M: Desire itself is energy.
Q: Then why does not every desire get fulfilled?
M: Maybe it was not strong enough and lasting.
Q: Yes, that is my problem. I want things, but I am lazy when it comes to action.
M: When your desire is not clear nor strong, it cannot take shape. Besides, if your desires are personal, for your own enjoyment, the energy you give them is necessarily limited; it cannot be more than what you have.
Q: Yet, often ordinary persons do attain what they desire.
M: After desiring it very much and for a long time. Even then, their achievements are limited.
Q: And what about unselfish desires?
M: When you desire the common good, the whole world desires with you. Make humanity's desire your own and work for it. There you cannot fail,
Q: Humanity is God’s work, not mine. I am concerned with myself. Have I not the right to see my legitimate desires fulfilled? They will hurt no one. My desires are legitimate. They are right desires, why don’t they come true?
M: Desires are right or wrong according to circumstances; it depends on how you look at them. It is only for the individual that a distinction between right and wrong is valid.
Q: What are the guide-lines for such distinction? How am I to know which of my desires are right and which are wrong?
M: In your case desires that lead to sorrow are wrong and those which lead to happiness are right. But you must not forget others. Their sorrow and happiness also count.
Q: Results are in the future. How can I know what they will be?
M: Use your mind. Remember. Observe. You are not different from others. Most of their experiences are valid for you too. Think clearly and deeply, go into the entire structure of your desires and their ramifications. They are a most important part of your mental and emotional make-up and powerfully affect your actions. Remember, you cannot abandon what you do not know. To go beyond yourself, you must know yourself.
Q: What does it mean to know myself? By knowing myself what exactly do I come to know?
M: All that you are not.
Q: And not what I am?
M: What you are, you already are. By knowing what you are not, you are free of it and remain in your own natural state. It all happens quite spontaneously and effortlessly.
Q: And what do I discover?
M: You discover that there is nothing to discover. You are what you are and that is all.
Q: I do not understand!
M: It is your fixed idea that you must be something or other, that blinds you.
Q: How can I get rid of this idea?
M: If you trust me, believe when I tell you that you are the pure awareness that illuminates consciousness and its infinite content. Realise this and live accordingly. If you do not believe me, then go within, enquiring ‘What an I’? or, focus your mind on ‘I am’, which is pure and simple being.
Q: On what my faith in you depends?
M: On your insight into other people’s hearts. If you cannot look into my heart, look into your own.
Q: I can do neither.
M: Purify yourself by a well-ordered and useful life. Watch over your thoughts, feelings, words and actions. This will clear your vision.
Q: Must I not renounce every thing first, and live a homeless life?
M: You cannot renounce. You may leave your home and give trouble to your family, but attachments are in the mind and will not leave you until you know your mind in and out. First thing first -- know yourself, all else will come with it.
Q: But you already told me that I am the Supreme Reality. Is it not self-knowledge?
M: Of course you are the Supreme Reality! But what of it? Every grain of sand is God; to know it is important, but that is only the beginning.
Q: Well, you told me that I am the Supreme Reality. I believe you. What next is there for me to do?
M: I told you already. Discover all you are not. Body, feelings, thoughts, ideas, time, space, being and not-being, this or that -- nothing concrete or abstract you can point out to is you. A mere verbal statement will not do -- you may repeat a formula endlessly without any result whatsoever. You must watch yourself continuously -- particularly your mind -- moment by moment, missing nothing. This witnessing is essential for the separation of the self from the not-self.
Q: The witnessing -- is it not my real nature?
M: For witnessing, there must be something else to witness. We are still in duality!
Q: What about witnessing the witness? Awareness of awareness?
M: Putting words together will not take you far. Go within and discover what you are not. Nothing else matters.
Questioner: What do you do when asleep?
Maharaj: I am aware of being asleep.
Q: Is not sleep a state of unconsciousness?
M: Yes, I am aware of being unconscious.
Q: And when awake, or dreaming?
M: I am aware of being awake or dreaming.
Q: I do not catch you. What exactly do you mean? Let me make my terms clear: by being asleep I mean unconscious, by being awake I mean conscious, by dreaming I mean conscious of one’s mind, but not of the surroundings.
M: Well, it is about the same with me, Yet, there seems to be a difference. In each state you forget the other two, while to me, there is but one state of being, including and transcending the three mental states of waking, dreaming and sleeping.
Q: Do you see in the world a direction and a purpose?
M: The world is but a reflection of my imagination. Whatever I want to see, I can see. But why should I invent patterns of creation, evolution and destruction? I do not need them and have no desire to lock up the world in a mental picture.
Q: Coming back to sleep. Do you dream?
M: Of course.
Q: What are your dreams?
M: Echoes of the waking state.
Q: And your deep sleep?
M: The brain consciousness is suspended.
Q: Are you then unconscious?
M: Unconscious of my surroundings -- yes.
Q: Not quite unconscious?
M: I remain aware that I am unconscious.
Q: You use the words 'aware' and 'conscious'. Are they not the same?
M: Awareness is primordial; it is the original state, beginningless, endless, uncaused, unsupported, without parts, without change. Consciousness is on contact, a reflection against a surface, a state of duality. There can be no consciousness without awareness, but there can be awareness without consciousness, as in deep sleep. Awareness is absolute, consciousness is relative to its content; consciousness is always of something. Consciousness is partial and changeful, awareness is total, changeless, calm and silent. And it is the common matrix of every experience.
Q: How does one go beyond consciousness into awareness?
M: Since it is awareness that makes consciousness possible, there is awareness in every state of consciousness. Therefore the very consciousness of being conscious is already a movement in awareness. Interest in your stream of consciousness takes you to awareness. It is not a new state. It is at once recognised as the original, basic existence, which is life itself, and also love and joy.
Q: Since reality is all the time with us, what does self-realisation consist of?
M: Realisation is but the opposite of ignorance. To take the world as real and one’s self as unreal is ignorance. The cause of sorrow. To know the self as the only reality and all else as temporal and transient is freedom, peace and joy. It is all very simple. Instead of seeing things as imagined, learn to see them as they are. It is like cleansing a mirror. The same mirror that shows you the world as it is, will also show you your own face. The thought 'I am' is the polishing cloth. Use it.
Questioner: Kindly tell us how you realised.
Maharaj: I met my Guru when I was 34 and realised by 37.
Q: What happened? What was the change?
M: Pleasure and pain lost their sway over me. I was free from desire and fear. I found myself full, needing nothing. I saw that in the ocean of pure awareness, on the surface of the universal consciousness, the numberless waves of the phenomenal worlds arise and subside beginninglessly and endlessly. As consciousness, they are all me. As events they are all mine. There is a mysterious power that looks after them. That power is awareness, Self, Life, God, whatever name you give it. It is the foundation, the ultimate support of all that is, just like gold is the basis for all gold jewellery. And it is so intimately ours! Abstract the name and shape from the jewellery and the gold becomes obvious. Be free of name and form and of the desires and fears they create, then what remains?
M: Yes, the void remains. But the void is full to the brim. It is the eternal potential as consciousness is the eternal actual.
Q: By potential you mean the future?
M: Past, present and future -- they are all there. And infinitely more.
Q: But since the void is void, it is of little use to us.
M: How can you say so? Without breach in continuity how can there be rebirth? Can there be renewal without death? Even the darkness of sleep is refreshing and rejuvenating. Without death we would have been bogged up for ever in eternal senility.
Q: Is there no such thing as immortality?
M: When life and death are seen as essential to each other, as two aspects of one being, that is immortality. To see the end in the beginning and beginning in the end is the intimation of eternity. Definitely, immortality is not continuity. Only the process of change continues. Nothing lasts.
Q: Awareness lasts?
M: Awareness is not of time. Time exists in consciousness only. Beyond consciousness where are time and space?
Q: Within the field of your consciousness there is your body also.
M: Of course. But the idea 'my body', as different from other bodies, is not there. To me it is 'a body', not 'my body', 'a mind', not 'my mind'. The mind looks after the body all right, I need not interfere. What needs be done is being done, in the normal and natural way.
You may not be quite conscious of your physiological functions, but when it comes to thoughts and feelings, desires and fears you become acutely self-conscious. To me these too are largely unconscious. I find myself talking to people, or doing things quite correctly and appropriately, without being very much conscious of them. It looks as if I live my physical, waking life automatically, reacting spontaneously and accurately.
Q: Does this spontaneous response come as a result of realisation, or by training?
M: Both. Devotion to you goal makes you live a clean and orderly life, given to search for truth and to helping people, and realisation makes noble virtue easy and spontaneous, by removing for good the obstacles in the shape of desires and fears and wrong ideas.
Q: Don’t you have desires and fears any more?
M: My destiny was to be born a simple man, a commoner, a humble tradesman, with little of formal education. My life was the common kind, with common desires and fears. When, through my faith in my teacher and obedience to his words, I realised my true being, I left behind my human nature to look after itself, until its destiny is exhausted. Occasionally an old reaction, emotional or mental, happens in the mind, but it is at once noticed and discarded. After all, as long as one is burdened with a person, one is exposed to its idiosyncrasies and habits.
Q: Are you not afraid of death?
M: I am dead already.
Q: In what sense?
M: I am double dead. Not only am I dead to my body, but to my mind too.
Q: Well, you do not look dead at all!
M: That’s what you say! You seem to know my state better than I do!
Q: Sorry. But I just do not understand. You say you are bodyless and mindless, while I see you very much alive and articulate.
M: A tremendously complex work is going on all the time in your brain and body, are you conscious of it? Not at all. Yet for an outsider all seems to be going on intelligently and purposefully. Why not admit that one’s entire personal life may sink largely below the threshold of consciousness and yet proceed sanely and smoothly?
Q: Is it normal?
M: What is normal? Is your life -- obsessed by desires and fears, full of strife and struggle, meaningless and joyless -- normal? To be acutely conscious of your body id it normal? To be torn by feelings, tortured by thoughts: is it normal? A healthy body, a healthy mind live largely unperceived by their owner; only occasionally, through pain or suffering they call for attention and insight. Why not extend the same to the entire personal life? One can function rightly, responding well and fully to whatever happens, without having to bring it into the focus of awareness. When self-control becomes second nature, awareness shifts its focus to deeper levels of existence and action.
Q: Don’t you become a robot?
M: What harm is there in making automatic, what is habitual and repetitive? It is automatic anyhow. But when it is also chaotic, it causes pain and suffering and calls for attention. The entire purpose of a clean and well-ordered life is to liberate man from the thraldom of chaos and the burden of sorrow.
Q: You seem to be in favour of a computerised life.
M: What is wrong with a life which is free from problems? Personality is merely a reflection of the real. Why should not the reflection be true to the original as a matter of course, automatically? Need the person have any designs of its own? The life of which it is an expression will guide it. Once you realise that the person is merely a shadow of the reality, but not reality itself, you cease to fret and worry. You agree to be guided from within and life becomes a journey into the unknown.
Questioner: From what you told us it appears that you are not quite conscious of your surroundings. To us you seem extremely alert and active. We cannot possibly believe that you are in a kind of hypnotic state, which leaves no memory behind. On the contrary, your memory seems excellent. How are we to understand your statement that the world and all it includes does not exist, as far as you are concerned.
Maharaj: It is all a matter of focus. Your mind is focussed in the world, mine is focussed in reality. It is like the moon in daylight -- when the sun shines, the moon is hardly visible. Or, watch how you take your food. As long as it is in your mouth, you are conscious of it; once swallowed, it does not concern you any longer. It would be troublesome to have it constantly in mind until it is eliminated. The mind should be normally in abeyance -- incessant activity is a morbid state. The universe works by itself -- that I know. What else do I need to know?
Q: So a jnani knows what he is doing only when he turns his mind to it; otherwise he just acts, without being concerned.
M: The average man is not conscious of his body as such. He is conscious of his sensations, feelings and thoughts. Even these, once detachment sets in, move away from the centre of consciousness and happen spontaneously and effortlessly.
Q: What then is in the centre of consciousness?
M: That which cannot be given name and form, for it is without quality and beyond consciousness. You may say it is a point in consciousness, which is beyond consciousness. Like a hole in the paper is both in the paper and yet not of paper, so is the supreme state in the very centre of consciousness, and yet beyond consciousness. It is as if an opening in the mind through which the mind is flooded with light. The opening is not even the light. It is just an opening.
Q: An opening is just void, absence.
M: Quite so. From the mind's point of view, it is but an opening for the light of awareness to enter the mental space. By itself the light can only be compared to a solid, dense, rocklike, homogeneous and changeless mass of pure awareness, free from the mental patterns of name and shape.
Q: Is there any connection between the mental space and the supreme abode?
M: The supreme gives existence to the mind. The mind gives existence to the body.
Q: And what lies beyond?
M: Take an example. A venerable Yogi, a master in the art of longevity, himself over 1000 years old, comes to teach me his art. I fully respect and sincerely admire his achievements, yet all I can tell him is: of what use is longevity to me? I am beyond time. However long a life may be, it is but a moment and a dream. In the same way I am beyond all attributes. They appear and disappear in my light, but cannot describe me. The universe is all names and forms, based on qualities and their differences, while I am beyond. The world is there because I am, but I am not the world.
Q: But you are living in the world!
M: That's what you say! I know there is a world, which includes this body and this mind, but I do not consider them to be more “mine” than other minds and bodies. They are there, in time and space, but I am timeless and spaceless.
Q: But since all exists by your light, are you not the creator of the world?
M: I am neither the potentiality nor the actualisation, nor the actuality of things. In my light they come and go as the specks of dust dancing in the sunbeam. The light illumines the specks, but does not depend on them. Nor can it be said to create them. It cannot be even said to know them.
Q: I am asking you a question and you are answering. Are you conscious of the question and the answer?
M: In reality I am neither hearing nor answering. In the world of events the question happens and the answer happens. Nothing happens to me. Everything just happens.
Q: And you are the witness?
M: What does witness mean? Mere knowledge. It rained and now the rain is over. I did not get wet. I know it rained, but I am not affected. I just witnessed the rain.
Q: The fully realised man, spontaneously abiding in the supreme state, appears to eat, drink and so on. Is he aware of it, or not?
M: That in which consciousness happens, the universal consciousness or mind, we call the ether of consciousness. All the objects of consciousness form the universe. What is beyond both, supporting both, is the supreme state, a state of utter stillness and silence. Whoever goes there, disappears. It is unreachable by words, or mind. You may call it God, or Parabrahman, or Supreme Reality, but these are names given by the mind. It is the nameless, contentless, effortless and spontaneous state, beyond being and not being.
Q: But does one remain conscious?
M: As the universe is the body of the mind, so is consciousness the body of the supreme. It is not conscious, but it gives rise to consciousness.
Q: In my daily actions much goes by habit, automatically. I am aware of the general purpose, but not of each movement in detail. As my consciousness broadens and deepens, details tend to recede, leaving me free for the general trends. Does not the same happens to a jnani, but more so?
M: On the level of consciousness -- yes. In the supreme state, no. This state is entirely one and indivisible, a single solid block of reality. The only way of knowing it is to be it. The mind cannot reach it. To perceive it does not need the senses; to know it, does not need the mind.
Q: That is how God runs the world.
M: God is not running the world.
Q: Then who is doing it?
M: Nobody. All happens by itself. You are asking the question and you are supplying the answer. And you know the answer when you ask the question. All is a play in consciousness. All divisions are illusory. You can know the false only. The true you must yourself be.
Q: There is the witnessed consciousness and there is the witnessing consciousness. Is the second the supreme?
M: There are the two -- the person and the witness, the observer. When you see them as one, and go beyond, you are in the supreme state. It is not perceivable, because it is what makes perception possible. It is beyond being and not being. It is neither the mirror nor the image in the mirror. It is what is -- the timeless reality, unbelievably hard and solid.
Q: The jnani -- is he the witness or the Supreme?
M: He is the Supreme, of course, but he can also be viewed as the universal witness.
Q: But he remains a person?
M: When you believe yourself to be a person, you see persons everywhere. In reality there are no persons, only threads of memories and habits. At the moment of realisation the person ceases. Identity remains, but identity is not a person, it is inherent in the reality itself. The person has no being in itself; it is a reflection in the mind of the witness, the 'I am', which again is a mode of being.
Q: Is the Supreme conscious?
M: Neither conscious nor unconscious, I am telling you from experience.
Q: Pragnanam Brahma. What is this Pragna?
M: It is the un-selfconscious knowledge of life itself.
Q: Is it vitality, the energy of life, livingness?
M: Energy comes first. For everything is a form of energy. Consciousness is most differentiated in the waking state. Less so in dream. Still less in sleep. Homogeneous -- in the fourth state. Beyond is the inexpressible monolithic reality, the abode of the jnani.
Q: I have cut my hand. It healed. By what power did it heal?
M: By the power of life.
Q: What is that power?
M: It is consciousness. AII is conscious.
Q: What is the source of consciousness?
M: Consciousness itself is the source of everything.
Q: Can there be life without consciousness?
M: No, nor consciousness without life. They are both one. But in reality only the Ultimate is. The rest is a matter of name and form. And as long as you cling to the idea that only what has name and shape exists, the Supreme will appear to you nonexisting. When you understand that names and shapes are hollow shells without any content whatsoever, and what is real is nameless and formless, pure energy of life and light of consciousness, you will be at peace -- immersed in the deep silence of reality.
Q: If time and space are mere illusions and you are beyond, please tell me what is the weather in New York. Is it hot or raining there?
M: How can I tell you? Such things need special training. Or, just travelling to New York. I may be quite certain that I am beyond time and space, and yet unable to locate myself at will at some point of time and space. I am not interested enough; I see no purpose in undergoing a special Yogic training. I have just heard of New York. To me it is a word. Why should I know more than the word conveys? Every atom may be a universe, as complex as ours. Must I know them all? I can -- if I train.
Q: In putting the question about the weather in New York, where did I make the mistake?
M: The world and the mind are states of being. The supreme is not a state. It pervades, all states, but it is not a state of something else. It is entirely uncaused, independent, complete in itself, beyond time and space, mind and matter.
Q: By what sign do you recognise it?
M: That's the point that it leaves no traces. There is nothing to recognise it by. It must be seen directly, by giving up all search for signs and approaches. When all names and forms have been given up, the real is with you. You need not seek it. Plurality and diversity are the play of the mind only. Reality is one.
Q: If reality leaves no evidence, there is no speaking about it.
M: It is. It cannot be denied. It is deep and dark, mystery beyond mystery. But it is, while all else merely happens.
Q: Is it the Unknown?
M: It is beyond both, the known and the unknown. But I would rather call it the known, than the unknown. For whenever something is known, it is the real that is known.
Q: Is silence an attribute of the real?
M: This too is of the mind. All states and conditions are of the mind.
Q: What is the place of samadhi?
M: Not making use of one's consciousness is samadhi. You just leave your mind alone. You want nothing, neither-from your body nor from your mind.
Questioner: Repeatedly you have been saying that events are causeless, a thing just happens and no cause can be assigned to it. Surely everything has a cause, or several causes. How am I to understand the causelessness of things?
Maharaj: From the highest point of view the world has no cause.
Q: But what is your own experience?
M: Everything is uncaused. The world has no cause.
Q: I am not enquiring about the causes that led to the creation of the world. Who has seen the creation of the world? It may even be without a beginning, always existing. But I am not talking of the world. I take the world to exist -- somehow. It contains so many things. Surely, each must have a cause, or several causes.
M: Once you create for yourself a world in time and space, governed by causality, you are bound to search for and find causes for everything. You put the question and impose an answer.
Q: My question is very simple: I see all kinds of things and I understand that each must have a cause, or a number of causes. You say they are uncaused -- from your point of view. But, to you nothing has being and, therefore, the question of causation does not arise. Yet you seem to admit the existence of things, but deny them causation. This is what I cannot grasp. Once you accept the existence of things, why reject their causes?
M: I see only consciousness, and know everything to be but consciousness, as you know the picture on the cinema screen to be but light.
Q: Still, the movements of light have a cause.
M: The light does not move at all. You know very well that the movement is illusory, a sequence of interceptions and colourings in the film. What moves is the film -- which is the mind.
Q: This does not make the picture causeless. The film is there, and the actors with the technicians, the director, the producer, the various manufacturers. The world is governed by causality. Everything is inter-linked.
M: Of course, everything is inter-linked. And therefore everything has numberless causes. The entire universe contributes to the least thing. A thing is as it is, because the world is as it is. You see, you deal in gold ornaments and I -- in gold. Between the different ornaments there is no causal relation. When you re-melt an ornament to make another, there is no causal relation between the two. The common factor is the gold. But you cannot say gold is the cause. It cannot be called a cause, for it causes nothing by itself. It is reflected in the mind as 'I am', as the ornament's particular name and shape. Yet all is only gold. In the same way reality makes everything possible and yet nothing that makes a thing what it is, its name and form, comes from reality.
But why worry so much about causation? What do causes matter, when things themselves are transient? Let come what comes and let go what goes -- why catch hold of things and enquire about their causes?
Q: From the relative point of view, everything must have a cause.
M: Of what use is the relative view to you? You are able to look from the absolute point of view -- why go back to the relative? Are you afraid of the absolute?
Q: I am afraid. I am afraid of falling asleep over my so-called absolute certainties. For living a life decently absolutes don't help. When you need a shirt, you buy cloth, call a tailor and so on.
M: All this talk shows ignorance.
Q: And what is the knower's view?
M: There is only light and the light is all. Everything else is but a picture made of light. The picture is in the light and the light is in the picture. Life and death, self and not-self --- abandon all these ideas. They are of no use to you.
Q: From what point of view you deny causation? From the relative -- the universe is the cause of everything. From the absolute -- there is no thing at all.
M: From which state are you asking?
Q: From the daily waking state, in which alone all these discussions take place.
M: In the waking state all these problems arise, for such is its nature. But, you are not always in that state. What good can you do in a state into which you fall and from which you emerge, helplessly. In what way does it help you to know that things are causally related -- as they may appear to be in your waking state?
Q: The world and the waking state emerge and subside together.
M: When the mind is still, absolutely silent, the waking state is no more.
Q: Words like God, universe, the total, absolute, supreme are just noises in the air, because no action can be taken on them.
M: You are bringing up questions which you alone can answer.
Q: Don't brush me off like this! You are so quick to speak for the totality, the universe and such imaginary things! They cannot come and forbid you to talk on their behalf. I hate those irresponsible generalizations! And you are so prone to personalise them. Without causality there will be no order; nor purposeful action will be possible.
M: Do you want to know all the causes of each event? Is it possible?
Q: I know it is not possible! All I want to know is if there are causes for everything and the causes can be influenced, thereby affecting the events?
M: To influence events, you need not know the causes. What a roundabout way of doing things! Are you not the source and the end of every event? Control it at the source itself.
Q: Every morning I pick up the newspaper and read with dismay that the world's sorrows -- poverty, hatred and wars -- continue unabated. My questions are concerning the fact of sorrow, the cause, the remedy. Don't brush me off saying that it is Buddhism! Don't label me. Your insistence on causelessness removes all hope of the world ever changing.
M: You are confused, because you believe that you are in the world, not the world in you. Who came first -- you or your parents? You imagine that you were born at a certain time and place, that you have a father and a mother, a body and a name. This is your sin and your calamity! Surely you can change your world if you work at it. By all means, work. Who stops you? I have never discouraged you. Causes or no causes, you have made this world and you can change it.
Q: A causeless world is entirely beyond my control.
M: On the contrary, a world of which you are the only source and ground is fully within your power to change. What is created can be always dissolved and re-created. All will happen as you want it, provided you really want it.
Q: All I want to know is how to deal with the world's sorrows.
M: You have created them out of your own desires and fears, you deal with them. All is due to your having forgotten your own being. Having given reality to the picture on the screen, you love its people and suffer for them and seek to save them. It is just not so. You must begin with yourself. There is no other way. Work, of course. There is no harm in working.
Q: Your universe seems to contain every possible experience. The individual traces a line through it and experiences pleasant and unpleasant states. This gives rise to questioning and seeking, which broaden the outlook and enable the individual to go beyond his narrow and self-created world limited and self-centred. This personal world can be changed -- in time. The universe is timeless and perfect.
M: To take appearance for reality is a grievous sin and the cause of all calamities. You are the all-pervading, eternal and infinitely creative awareness -- consciousness. All else is local and temporary. Don't forget what you are. In the meantime work to your heart's content. Work and knowledge should go hand in hand.
Q: My own feeling is that my spiritual development is not in my hands. Making one's own plans and carrying them out leads no where. I just run in circles round myself. When God considers the fruit to be ripe, He will pluck it and eat it. Whichever fruit seems green to Him will remain on the world's tree for another day.
M: You think God knows you? Even the world He does not know.
Q: Yours is a different God. Mine is different. Mine is merciful. He suffers along with us.
M: You pray to save one, while thousands die. And if all stop dying, there will be no space on earth
Q: I am not afraid of death. My concern is with sorrow and suffering. My God is a simple God and rather helpless. He has no power to compel us to be wise. He can only stand and wait.
M: If you and your God are both helpless, does it not imply that the world is accidental? And if it is. the only thing you can do is to go beyond it.
Questioner: Without God's power nothing can be done. Even you would not be sitting here and talking to us without Him.
Maharaj: All is His doing, no doubt. What is it to me, since I want nothing? What can God give me, or take away from me? What is mine is mine and was mine even when God was not. Of course, it is a very tiny little thing, a speck -- the sense 'I am', the fact of being. This is my own place, nobody gave it to me. The earth is mine; what grows on it is God's.
Q: Did God take the earth on rent from you?
M: God is my devotee and did all this for me.
Q: Is there no God apart from you?
M: How can there be? 'I am' is the root, God is the tree. Whom am I to worship, and what for?
Q: Are you the devotee or the object of devotion?
M: I am neither, I am devotion itself.
Q: There is not enough devotion in the world.
M: You are always after the improvement of the world. Do you really believe that the world is waiting for you to be saved?
Q: I just do not know how much I can do for the world. All I can do, is to try. Is there anything else you would like me to do?
M: Without you is there a world? You know all about the world, but about yourself you know nothing. You yourself are the tools of your work, you have no other tools. Why don't you take care of the tools before you think of the work?
Q: I can wait, while the world cannot.
M: By not enquiring you keep the world waiting.
Q: Waiting for what?
M: For somebody who can save it.
Q: God runs the world, God will save it.
M: That's what you say! Did God come and tell you that the world is His creation and concern and not yours?
Q: Why should it be my sole concern?
M: Consider. The world in which you live, who else knows about it?
Q: You know. Everybody knows.
M: Did anybody come from outside of your world to tell you? Myself and everybody else appear and disappear in your world. We are all at your mercy.
Q: It cannot be so bad! I exist in your world as you exist in mine.
M: You have no evidence of my world. You are completely wrapped up in the world of your own making.
Q: I see. Completely, but -- hopelessly?
M: Within the prison of your world appears a man who tells you that the world of painful contradictions, which you have created, is neither continuous nor permanent and is based on a misapprehension. He pleads with you to get out of it, by the same way by which you got into it. You got into it by forgetting what you are and you will get out of it by knowing yourself as you are.
Q: In what way does it affect the world?
M: When you are free of the world, you can do something about it. As long as you are a prisoner of it, you are helpless to change it. On the contrary, whatever you do will aggravate the situation.
Q: Righteousness will set me free.
M: Righteousness will undoubtedly make you and your world a comfortable, even happy place. But what is the use? There is no reality in it. It cannot last.
Q: God will help.
M: To help you God must know your existence. But you and your world are dream states. In dream you may suffer agonies. None knows them, and none can help you.
Q: So all my questions, my search and study are of no use?
M: These are but the stirrings of a man who is tired of sleeping. They are not the causes of awakening, but its early signs. But, you must not ask idle questions, to which you already know the answers.
Q: How am I to get a true answer?
M: By asking a true question -- non-verbally, but by daring to live according to your lights. A man willing to die for truth will get it.
Q: Another question. There is the person. There is the knower of the person. There is the witness. Are the knower and the witness the same, or are they separate states?
M: The knower and the witness are two or one? When the knower is seen as separate from the known, the witness stands alone. When the known and the knower are seen as one, the witness becomes one with them.
Q: Who is the jnani? The witness or the supreme?
M: The jnani is the supreme and also the witness. He is both being and awareness. In relation to consciousness he is awareness. In relation to the universe he is pure being.
Q: And what about the person? What comes first, the person or the knower.
M: The person is a very small thing. Actually it is a composite, it cannot be said to exist by itself. Unperceived, it is just not there. It is but the shadow of the mind, the sum total of memories. Pure being is reflected in the mirror of the mind, as knowing. What is known takes the shape of a person, based on memory and habit. It is but a shadow, or a projection of the knower onto the screen of the mind.
Q: The mirror is there, the reflection is there. But where is the sun?
M: The supreme is the sun.
Q: It must be conscious.
M: It is neither conscious nor unconscious. Don't think of it in terms of consciousness or unconsciousness. It is the life, which contains both and is beyond both.
Q: Life is so intelligent. How can it be unconscious?
M: You talk of the unconscious when there is a lapse in memory. In reality there is only consciousness. All life is conscious, all consciousness -- alive.
Q: Even stones?
M: Even stones are conscious and alive.
Q: The worry with me is that I am prone to denying existence to what I cannot imagine.
M: You would be wiser to deny the existence of what you imagine. It is the imagined that is unreal.
Q: Is all imaginable unreal?
M: Imagination based on memories is unreal. The future is not entirely unreal.
Q: Which part of the future is real and which is not?
M: The unexpected and unpredictable is real.
Questioner: I have met many realised people, but never a liberated man. Have you come across a liberated man, or does liberation mean, among other things, also abandoning the body?
Maharaj: What do you mean by realisation and liberation?
Q: By realisation I mean a wonderful experience of peace, goodness and beauty, when the world makes sense and there is an all-pervading unity of both substance and essence. While such experience does not last, it cannot be forgotten. It shines in the mind, both as memory and longing. I know what I am talking about, for I have had such experiences.
By liberation I mean to be permanently in that wonderful state. What I am asking is whether liberation is compatible with the survival of the body.
M: What is wrong with the body?
Q: The body is so weak and short-lived. It creates needs and cravings. It limits one grievously.
M: So what? Let the physical expressions be limited. But liberation is of the self from its false and self-imposed ideas; it is not contained in some particular experience, however glorious.
Q: Does it last for ever?
M: All experience is time bound. Whatever has a beginning must have an end.
Q: So liberation, in my sense of the word, does not exist?
M: On the contrary, one is always free. You are, both conscious and free to be conscious. Nobody can take this away from you. Do you ever know yourself non-existing, or unconscious?
Q: I may not remember, but that does not disprove my being occasionally unconscious.
M: Why not turn away from the experience to the experiencer and realise the full import of the only true statement you can make: 'I am'?
Q: How is it done?
M: There is no 'how' here. Just keep in mind the feeling 'I am', merge in it, till your mind and feeling become one. By repeated attempts you will stumble on the right balance of attention and affection and your mind will be firmly established in the thought-feeling 'I am'. Whatever you think, say, or do, this sense of immutable and affectionate being remains as the ever-present background of the mind.
Q: And you call it liberation?
M: I call it normal. What is wrong with being, knowing and acting effortlessly and happily? Why consider it so unusual as to expect the immediate destruction of the body? What is wrong with the body that it should die? Correct your attitude to your body and leave it alone. Don't pamper, don't torture. Just keep it going, most of the time below the threshold of conscious attention.
Q: The memory of my wonderful experiences haunts me. I want them back.
M: Because you want them back, you cannot have them. The state of craving for anything blocks all deeper experience. Nothing of value can happen to a mind which knows exactly what it wants. For nothing the mind can visualise and want is of much value.
Q: Then what is worth wanting?
M: Want the best. The highest happiness, the greatest freedom. Desirelessness is the highest bliss.
Q: Freedom from desire is not the freedom I want. I want the freedom to fulfil my longings.
M: You are free to fulfil your longings. As a matter of fact, you are doing nothing else.
Q: I try, but there are obstacles which leave me frustrated.
M: Overcome them.
Q: I cannot, I am too weak.
M: What makes you weak? What is weakness? Others fulfil their desires, why don't you?
Q: I must be lacking energy.
M: What happened to your energy? Where did it go? Did you not scatter it over so many contradictory desires and pursuits? You don't have an infinite supply of energy.
Q: Why not?
M: Your aims are small and low. They do not call for more. Only God's energy is infinite -- because He wants nothing for Himself. Be like Him and all your desires will be fulfilled. The higher your aims and vaster your desires, the more energy you will have for their fulfilment. Desire the good of all and the universe will work with you. But if you want your own pleasure, you must earn it the hard way. Before desiring, deserve.
Q: I am engaged in the study of philosophy, sociology and education. I think more mental development is needed before I can dream of self-realisation. Am I on the right track?
M: To earn a livelihood some specialised knowledge is needed. General knowledge develops the mind, no doubt. But if you are going to spend your life in amassing knowledge, you build a wall round yourself. To go beyond the mind, a well furnished mind is not needed.
Q: Then what is needed?
M: Distrust your mind, and go beyond.
Q: What shall I find beyond the mind?
M: The direct experience of being, knowing and loving.
Q: How does one go beyond the mind?
M: There are many starting points -- they all lead to the same goal. You may begin with selfless work, abandoning the fruits of action; you may then give up thinking and end in giving up all desires. Here, giving up (tyaga) is the operational factor. Or, you may not bother about any thing you want, or think, or do and just stay put in the thought and feeling 'I am', focussing 'I am' firmly in your mind. All kinds of experience may come to you -- remain unmoved in the knowledge that all perceivable is transient, and only the 'I am' endures.
Q: I cannot give all my life to such practices. I have my duties to attend to.
M: By all means attend to your duties. Action, in which you are not emotionally involved and which is beneficial and does not cause suffering will not bind you. You may be engaged in several directions and work with enormous zest, yet remain inwardly free and quiet, with a mirror-like mind, which reflects all, without being affected.
Q: Is such a state realisable?
M: I would not talk about it, if it were not. Why should I engage in fancies?
Q: Everybody quotes scriptures.
M: Those who know only scriptures know nothing. To know is to be. I know what I am talking about; it is not from reading, or hearsay.
Q: I am studying Sanskrit under a professor, but really I am only reading scriptures. I am in search of self-realisation and I came to get the needed guidance. Kindly tell me what am I to do?
M: Since you have read the scriptures, why do you ask me?
Q: The scriptures show the general directions but the individual needs personal instructions.
M: Your own self is your ultimate teacher (sadguru). The outer teacher (Guru) is merely a milestone. It is only your inner teacher, that will walk with you to the goal, for he is the goal.
Q: The inner teacher is not easily reached.
M: Since he is in you and with you, the difficulty cannot be serious. Look within, and you will find him.
Q: When I look within, I find sensations and perceptions, thoughts and feelings, desires and fears, memories and expectations. I am immersed in this cloud and see nothing else.
M: That which sees all this, and the nothing too, is the inner teacher. He alone is, all else only appears to be. He is your own self (swarupa), your hope and assurance of freedom; find him and cling to him and you will be saved and safe.
Q: I do believe you, but when it comes to the actual finding of this inner self, I find it escapes me.
M: The idea 'it escapes me', where does it arise?
Q: In the mind.
M: And who knows the mind.
Q: The witness of the mind knows the mind.
M: Did anybody come to you and say: 'I am the witness of your mind'?
Q: Of course not. He would have been just another idea in the mind.
M: Then who is the witness?
Q: I am.
M: So, you know the witness because you are the witness. You need not see the witness in front of you. Here again, to be is to know.
Q: Yes, I see that I am the witness, the awareness itself. But in which way does it profit me?
M: What a question! What kind of profit do you expect? To know what you are, is it not good enough?
Q: What are the uses of self-knowledge?
M: It helps you to understand what you are not and keeps you free from false ideas, desires and actions.
Q: If I am the witness only, what do right and wrong matter?
M: What helps you to know yourself is right. What prevents, is wrong. To know one's real self is bliss, to forget -- is sorrow.
Q: Is the witness-consciousness the real Self?
M: It is the reflection of the real in the mind (buddhi). The real is beyond. The witness is the door through which you pass beyond.
Q: What is the purpose of meditation?
M: Seeing the false as the false, is meditation. This must go on all the time.
Q: We are told to meditate regularly.
M: Deliberate daily exercise in discrimination between the true and the false and renunciation of the false is meditation. There are many kinds of meditation to begin with, but they all merge finally into one.
Q: Please tell me which road to self-realisation is the shortest.
M: No way is short or long, but some people are more in earnest and some are less. I can tell you about myself. I was a simple man, but I trusted my Guru. What he told me to do, I did. He told me to concentrate on 'I am' -- I did. He told me that I am beyond all perceivables and conceivables -- I believed. I gave him my heart and soul, my entire attention and the whole of my spare time (I had to work to keep my family alive). As a result of faith and earnest application, I realised my self (swarupa) within three years.
You may choose any way that suits you; your earnestness will determine the rate of progress.
Q: No hint for me?
M: Establish yourself firmly in the awareness of 'I am'. This is the beginning and also the end of all endeavour.
Questioner: The highest powers of the mind are understanding, intelligence and insight. Man has three bodies -- the physical, the mental and the causal (prana, mana, karana). The physical reflects his being; the mental -- his knowing and the causal -- his joyous creativity. Of course, these are all forms in consciousness. But they appear to be separate, with qualities of their own. Intelligence (buddhi) is the reflection in the mind of the power to know (chit). It is what makes the mind knowledgeable. The brighter the intelligence, the wider, deeper and truer the knowledge. To know things, to know people and to know oneself are all functions of intelligence: the last is the most important and contains the former two. Misunderstanding oneself and the world leads to false ideas and desires, which again lead to bondage. Right understanding of oneself is necessary for freedom from the bondage of illusion. I understand all this in theory, but when it comes to practice, I find that I fail hopelessly in my responses to situations and people and by my inappropriate reactions I merely add to my bondage. Life is too quick for my dull and slow mind. I do understand but too late, when the old mistakes have been already repeated.
Maharaj: What then is your problem?
Q: I need a response to life, not only intelligent, but also very quick. It cannot be quick unless it is perfectly spontaneous. How can I achieve such spontaneity?
M: The mirror can do nothing to attract the sun. It can only keep bright. As soon as the mind is ready, the sun shines in it.
Q: The light is of the Self, or of the mind?
M: Both. It is uncaused and unvarying by itself and coloured by the mind, as it moves and changes. It is very much like a cinema. The light is not in the film, but the film colours the light and makes it appear to move by intercepting it.
Q: Are you now in the perfect state?
M: Perfection is a state of the mind, when it is pure. I am beyond the mind, whatever its state, pure or impure. Awareness is my nature; ultimately I am beyond being and non-being.
Q: Will meditation help me to reach your state?
M: Meditation will help you to find your bonds, loosen them, untie them and cast your moorings. When you are no longer attached to anything, you have done your share. The rest will be done for you.
Q: By whom?
M: By the same power that brought you so far, that prompted your heart to desire truth and your mind to seek it. It is the same power that keeps you alive. You may call it Life or the Supreme.
Q: The same power kills me in due course.
M: Were you not present at your birth? Will you not be present at your death? Find him who is always present and your problem of spontaneous and perfect response will be solved.
Q: realisation of the eternal and an effortless and adequate response to the ever-changing temporary event are two different and separate questions. You seem to roll them into one. What makes you do so?
M: To realise the Eternal is to become the Eternal, the whole, the universe, with all it contains. Every event is the effect and the expression of the whole and is in fundamental harmony with the whole. All response from the whole must be right, effortless and instantaneous.
It cannot be otherwise, if it is right. Delayed response is wrong response. Thought, feeling and action must be one and simultaneous with the situation that calls for them.
Q: How does it come?
M: I told you already. Find him who was present at your birth and will witness your death.
Q: My father and mother?
M: Yes, your father-mother, the source from which you came. To solve a problem you must trace it to its source. Only in the dissolution of the problem in the universal solvents of enquiry and dispassion, can its right solution be found.
Questioner: Your way of describing the universe as consisting of matter, mind and spirit is one of the many. There are other patterns to which the universe is expected to conform, and one is at a loss to know which pattern is true and which is not. One ends in suspecting that all patterns are only verbal and that no pattern can contain reality. According to you, reality consists of three expanses: The expanse of matter-energy (mahadakash), the expanse of consciousness (chidakash) and of pure spirit (paramakash). The first is something that has both movement and inertia. That we perceive. We also know that we perceive -- we are conscious and also aware of being conscious. Thus, we have two: matter-energy and consciousness. Matter seems to be in space while energy is always in time, being connected with change and measured by the rate of change. Consciousness seems to be somehow here and now, in a single point of time and space. But you seem to suggest that consciousness too is universal -- which makes it timeless, spaceless and impersonal. I can somehow understand that there is no contradiction between the timeless and spaceless and the here and now, but impersonal consciousness I cannot fathom. To me consciousness is always focalised, centred, individualised, a person. You seem to say that there can be perceiving without a perceiver, knowing without a knower, loving without a lover, acting without an actor. I feel that the trinity of knowing, knower and known can be seen in every movement of life. Consciousness implies a conscious being, an object of consciousness and the fact of being conscious. That which is conscious I call a person. A person lives in the world, is a part of it, affects it and is affected by it.
Maharaj: Why don't you enquire how real are the world and the person?
Q: Oh, no! I need not enquire. Enough if the person is not less real than the world in which the person exists.
M: Then what is the question?
Q: Are persons real, and universals conceptual, or are universals real and persons imaginary?
M: Neither are real.
Q: Surely, I am real enough to merit your reply and I am a person.
M: Not when asleep.
Q: Submergence is not absence. Even though asleep, I am.
M: To be a person you must be self-conscious. Are you so always?
Q: Not when I sleep, of course, nor when I am in a swoon, or drugged.
M: During your waking hours are you continually self-conscious?
Q: No, Sometimes I am absent-minded, or just absorbed.
M: Are you a person during the gaps in self-consciousness?
Q: Of course I am the same person throughout. I remember myself as I was yesterday and yester year -- definitely, I am the same person.
M: So, to be a person, you need memory?
Q: Of course.
M: And without memory, what are you?
Q: Incomplete memory entails incomplete personality. Without memory I cannot exist as a person.
M: Surely you can exist without memory. You do so -- in sleep.
Q: Only in the sense of remaining alive. Not as a person.
M: Since you admit that as a person you have only intermittent existence, can you tell me what are you in the intervals in between experiencing yourself as a person?
Q: I am, but not as a person. Since I am not conscious of myself in the intervals, I can only say that I exist, but not as a person.
M: Shall we call it impersonal existence?
Q: I would call it rather unconscious existence; I am, but I do not know that I am.
M: You have said just now: 'I am, but I do not know that I am'. Could you possibly say it about your being in an unconscious state?
Q: No, I could not.
M: You can only describe it in the past tense: 'I did not know. I was unconscious', in the sense of not remembering.
Q: Having been unconscious, how could I remember and what?
M: Were you really unconscious, or you just do not remember?
Q: How am I to make out?
M: Consider. Do you remember every second of yesterday?
Q: Of course, not.
M: Were you then unconscious?
Q: Of course, not.
M: So, you are conscious and yet you do not remember?
M: Maybe you were conscious in sleep and just do not remember.
Q: No, I was not conscious. I was asleep. I did not behave like a conscious person.
M: Again, how do you know?
Q: I was told so by those who saw me asleep.
M: All they can testify to is that they saw you lying quietly with closed eyes and breathing regularly. They could not make out whether you were conscious or not. Your only proof is your own memory. A very uncertain proof it is!
Q: Yes, I admit that on my own terms I am a person only during my waking hours. What I am in between, I do not know.
M: At least you know that you do not know! Since you pretend not to be conscious in the intervals between the waking hours, leave the intervals alone. Let us consider the waking hours only.
Q: I am the same person in my dreams.
M: Agreed. Let us consider them together waking and dreaming. The difference is merely in continuity. Were your dreams consistently continuous, bringing back night after night the same surroundings and the same people, you would be at a loss to know which is the waking and which is the dream. Henceforward, when we talk of the waking state, we shall include the dream state too.
Q: Agreed. I am a person in a conscious relation with a world.
M: Are the world and the conscious relation with it essential to your being a person?
Q: Even immersed in a cave, I remain a person.
M: It implies a body and a cave. And a world in which they can exist.
Q: Yes. I can see. The world and the consciousness of the world are essential to my existence as a person.
M: This makes the person a part and parcel of the world, or vice versa. The two are one.
Q: Consciousness stands alone. The person and the world appear in consciousness.
M: You said: appear. Could you add: disappear?
Q: No, I cannot. I can only be aware of my and my world's appearance. As a person, I cannot say: 'the world is not'. Without a world I would not be there to say it. Because there is a world, I am there to say: 'there is a world'.
M: Maybe it is the other way round. Because of you, there is a world.
Q: To me such statement appears meaningless.
M: Its meaninglessness may disappear on investigation.
Q: Where do we begin?
M: All I know is that whatever depends, is not real. The real is truly independent. Since the existence of the person depends on the existence of the world and it is circumscribed and defined by the world, it cannot be real.
Q: It cannot be a dream, surely.
M: Even a dream has existence, when it is cognised and enjoyed, or endured. Whatever you think and feel has being. But it may not be what you take it to be. What you think to be a person may be something quite different.
Q: I am what I know myself to be.
M: You cannot possibly say that you are what you think yourself to be! Your ideas about yourself change from day to day and from moment to moment. Your self-image is the most changeful thing you have. It is utterly vulnerable, at the mercy of a passer by. A bereavement, the loss of a job, an insult, and your image of yourself, which you call your person, changes deeply. To know what you are you must first investigate and know what you are not. And to know what you are not you must watch yourself carefully, rejecting all that does not necessarily go with the basic fact: 'I am'. The ideas: I am born at a given place, at a given time, from my parents and now I am so-and-so, living at, married to, father of, employed by, and so on, are not inherent in the sense 'I am'. Our usual attitude is of 'I am this'. Separate consistently and perseveringly the 'I am' from 'this' or 'that', and try to feel what it means to be, just to be, without being 'this' or 'that'. All our habits go against it and the task of fighting them is long and hard sometimes, but clear understanding helps a lot. The clearer you understand that on the level of the mind you can be described in negative terms only, the quicker you will come to the end of your search and realise your limitless being.
Questioner: I am a painter and I earn by painting pictures. Has it any value from the spiritual point of view?
Maharaj: When you paint what do you think about?
Q: When I paint, there is only the painting and myself.
M: What are you doing there?
Q: I paint.
M: No, you don't. You see the painting going on. You are watching only, all else happens.
Q: The picture is painting itself? Or, is there some deeper 'me', or some god who is painting?
M: Consciousness itself is the greatest painter. The entire world is a Picture.
Q: Who painted the picture of the world?
M: The painter is in the Picture.
Q: The picture is in the mind of the painter and the painter is in the picture, which is in the mind of the painter who is in the picture! Is not this infinity of states and dimensions absurd? The moment we talk of picture in the mind, which itself is in the picture, we come to an endless succession of witnesses, the higher witness witnessing the lower. It is like standing between two mirrors and wondering at the crowd!
M: Quite right, you alone and the double mirror are there. Between the two, your forms and names are numberless.
Q: How do you look at the world?
M: I see a painter painting a picture. The picture I call the world, the painter I call God. I am neither. I do not create, nor am I created. I contain all, nothing contains me.
Q: When I see a tree, a face, a sunset, the picture is perfect. When I close my eyes, the image in my mind is faint and hazy. If it is my mind that projects the picture, why need I open my eyes to see a lovely flower and with eyes closed I see it vaguely?
M: It is because your outer eyes are better than your inner eyes. Your mind is all turned outward. As you learn to watch your mental world, you will find it even more colourful and perfect than what the body can provide. Of course, you will need some training. But why argue? You imagine that the picture must come from the painter who actually painted it. All the time you look for origins and causes. Causality is in the mind, only; memory gives the illusion of continuity and repetitiveness creates the idea of causality. When things repeatedly happen together, we tend to see a causal link between them. It creates a mental habit, but a habit is not a necessity.
Q: You have just said that the world is made by God.
M: Remember that language is an instrument of the mind; It is made by the mind, for the mind. Once you admit a cause, then God is the ultimate cause and the world the effect. They are different, but not separate.
Q: People talk of seeing God.
M: When you see the world you see God. There is no seeing God, apart from the world. Beyond the world to see God is to be God. The light by which you see the world, which is God is the tiny little spark: 'I am', apparently so small, yet the first and the last in every act of knowing and loving.
Q: Must I see the world to see God?
M: How else? No world, no God.
Q: What remains?
M: You remain as pure being.
Q: And what becomes of the world and of God?
M: Pure being (avyakta).
Q: Is it the same as the Great Expanse (paramakash)?
M: You may call it so. Words do not matter, for they do not reach it. They turn back in utter negation.
Q: How can I see the world as God? What does it mean to see the world as God?
M: It is like entering a dark room. You see nothing -- you may touch, but you do not see -- no colours, no outlines. The window opens and the room is flooded with light. Colours and shapes come into being. The window is the giver of light, but not the source of it. The sun is the source. Similarly, matter is like the dark room; consciousness -- the window -- flooding matter with sensations and perceptions, and the Supreme is the sun the source both of matter and of light. The window may be closed, or open, the sun shines all the time. It makes all the difference to the room, but none to the sun. Yet all this is secondary to the tiny little thing which is the 'I am'. Without the 'I am' there is nothing. All knowledge is about the 'I am'. False ideas about this 'I am' lead to bondage, right knowledge leads to freedom and happiness.
Q: Is 'I am' and 'there is' the same?
M: 'I am' denotes the inner, 'there is' -- the outer. Both are based on the sense of being.
Q: Is it the same as the experience of existence?
M: To exist means to be something, a thing, a feeling, a thought, an idea. All existence is particular. Only being is universal, in the sense that every being is compatible with every other being. Existences clash, being -- never. Existence means becoming, change, birth and death and birth again, while in being there is silent peace.
Q: If I create the world, why have I made it bad?
M: Everyone lives in his own world. Not all the worlds are equally good or bad.
Q: What determines the difference?
M: The mind that projects the world, colours it its own way. When you meet a man, he is a stranger. When you marry him, he becomes your own self. When you quarrel, he becomes your enemy. It is your mind's attitude that determines what he is to you.
Q: I can see that my world is subjective. Does it make it also illusory?
M: It is illusory as long as it is subjective and to that extent only. Reality lies in objectivity.
Q: What does objectivity mean? You said the world is subjective and now you talk of objectivity. Is not everything subjective?
M: Everything is subjective, but the real is objective.
Q: In what sense?
M: It does not depend on memories and expectations, desires and fears, likes and dislikes. All is seen as it is.
Q: Is it what you call the fourth state (turiya)?
M: Call it as you like. It is solid, steady, changeless, beginningless and endless, ever new, ever fresh.
Q: How is it reached?
M: Desirelessness and fearlessness will take you there.
Questioner: You say, reality is one. Oneness, unity, is the attribute of the person. Is then reality a person, with the universe as its body?
Maharaj: Whatever you may say will be both true and false. Words do not reach beyond the mind.
Q: I am just trying to understand. You are telling us of the Person, the Self and the Supreme. (vyakti, vyakta, avyakta). The light of Pure Awareness (pragna), focussed as 'I am' in the Self (jivatma), as consciousness (chetana) illumines the mind (antahkarana) and as life (prana) vitalises the body (deha). All this is fine as far as the words go. But when it comes to distinguishing in myself the person from the Self and the Self from the Supreme, I get mixed up.
M: The person is never the subject. You can see a person, but you are not the person. You are always the Supreme which appears at a given point of time and space as the witness, a bridge between the pure awareness of the Supreme and the manifold consciousness of the person.
Q: When I look at myself, I find I am several persons fighting among themselves for the use of the body.
M: They correspond to the various tendencies (samskara) of the mind.
Q: Can I make peace between them?
M: How can you? They are so contradictory! See them as they are -- mere habits of thoughts and feelings, bundles of memories and urges.
Q: Yet they all say 'I am'.
M: It is only because you identify yourself with them. Once you realise that whatever appears before you cannot be yourself, and cannot say 'I am', you are free of all your 'persons' and their demands. The sense 'I am' is your own. You cannot part with it, but you can impart it to anything, as in saying: I am young. I am rich etc. But such self-identifications are patently false and the cause of bondage.
Q: I can now understand that I am not the person, but that which, when reflected in the person, gives it a sense of being. Now, about the Supreme? In what way do I know myself as the Supreme?
M: The source of consciousness cannot be an object in consciousness. To know the source is to be the source. When you realise that you are not the person, but the pure and calm witness, and that fearless awareness is your very being, you are the being. It is the source, the Inexhaustible Possibility.
Q: Are there many sources or one for all?
M: It depends how you look at it, from which end. The objects in the world are many, but the eye that sees them is one. The higher always appears as one to the lower and the lower as many to the higher.
Q: Shapes and names are all of one and the same God?
M: Again, it all depends on how you look at it. On the verbal level everything is relative. Absolutes should be experienced, not discussed.
Q: How is the Absolute experienced?
M: It is not an object to be recognised and stored up in memory. It is in the present and in feeling rather. It has more to do with the 'how' than with the 'what'. It is in the quality, in the value; being the source of everything, it is in everything.
Q: If it is the source, why and how does it manifest itself?
M: It gives birth to consciousness. All else is in consciousness.
Q: Why are there so many centres of consciousness?
M: The objective universe (mahadakash) is in constant movement, projecting and dissolving innumerable forms. Whenever a form is infused with life (prana), consciousness (chetana) appears by reflection of awareness in matter.
Q: How is the Supreme affected?
M: What can affect it and how? The source is not affected by the vagaries of the river nor is the metal -- by the shape of the jewellery. Is the light affected by the picture on the screen? The Supreme makes everything possible, that is all.
Q: How is it that some things do happen and some don't?
M: Seeking out causes is a pastime of the mind. There is no duality of cause and effect. Everything is its own cause.
Q: No purposeful action is then possible?
M: All I say is that consciousness contains all. In consciousness all is possible. You can have causes if you want them, in your world. Another may be content with a single cause -- God's will. The root cause is one: the sense 'I am'.
Q: What is the link between the Self (Vyakta) and the Supreme (Avyakta)?
M: From the self's point of view the world is the known, the Supreme -- the Unknown. The Unknown gives birth to the known, yet remains Unknown. The known is infinite, but the Unknown is an infinitude of infinities. Just like a ray of light is never seen unless intercepted by the specs of dust, so does the Supreme make everything known, itself remaining unknown.
Q: Does it mean that the Unknown is inaccessible?
M: Oh, no. The Supreme is the easiest to reach for it is your very being. It is enough to stop thinking and desiring anything, but the Supreme.
Q: And if I desire nothing, not even the Supreme?
M: Then you are as good as dead, or you are the Supreme.
Q: The world is full of desires: Everybody wants something or other. Who is the desirer? The person or the self?
M: The self. All desires, holy and unholy, come from the self; they all hang on the sense 'I am'.
Q: I can understand holy desires (satyakama) emanating from the self. It may be the expression of the bliss aspect of the Sadchitananda (Beingness -- Awareness --Happiness) of the Self. But why unholy desires?
M: All desires aim at happiness. Their shape and quality depend on the psyche (antahkarana). Where inertia (tamas) predominates, we find perversions. With energy (rajas), passions arise. With lucidity (sattva) the motive behind the desire is goodwill, compassion, the urge to make happy rather than be happy. But the Supreme is beyond all, yet because of its infinite permeability all cogent desires can be fulfilled.
Q: Which desires are cogent?
M: Desires that destroy their subjects, or objects, or do not subside on satisfaction are self-contradictory and cannot be fulfilled. Only desires motivated by love, goodwill and compassion are beneficial to both the subject and object and can be fully satisfied.
Q: All desires are painful, the holy as well as the unholy.
M: They are not the same and pain is not the same. Passion is painful, compassion -- never. The entire universe strives to fulfil a desire born of compassion.
Q: Does the Supreme know itself? Is the Impersonal conscious?
M: The source of all has all. Whatever flows from it must be there already in seed form. And as a seed is the last of innumerable seeds, and contains the experience and the promise of numberless forests, so does the Unknown contain all that was, or could have been and all that shall or would be. The entire field of becoming is open and accessible; past and future coexist in the eternal now.
Q: Are you living in the Supreme Unknown?
M: Where else?
Q: What makes you say so?
M: No desire ever arises in my mind.
Q: Are you then unconscious?
M: Of course not! I am fully conscious, but since no desire or fear enters my mind, there is perfect silence.
Q: Who knows the silence?
M: Silence knows itself. It is the silence of the silent mind, when passions and desires are silenced.
Q: Do you experience desires occasionally?
M: Desires are just waves in the mind. You know a wave when you see one. A desire is just a thing among many. I feel no urge to satisfy it, no action needs be taken on it. Freedom from desire means this: the compulsion to satisfy is absent.
Q: Why do desires arise at all?
M: Because you imagine that you were born, and that you will die if you do not take care of your body. Desire for embodied existence is the root-cause of trouble.
Q: Yet, so many jivas get into bodies. Surely it cannot be some error of judgement. There must be a purpose. What could it be?
M: To know itself the self must be faced with its opposite -- the not-self. Desire leads to experience. Experience leads to discrimination, detachment, self-knowledge -- liberation. And what is liberation after all? To know that you are beyond birth and death. By forgetting who you are and imagining yourself a mortal creature, you created so much trouble for yourself that you have to wake up, like from a bad dream.
Enquiry also wakes you up. You need not wait for suffering; enquiry into happiness is better, for the mind is in harmony and peace.
Q: Who exactly is the ultimate experiencer -- the Self or the Unknown?
M: The Self, of course.
Q: Then why introduce the notion of the Supreme Unknown?
M: To explain the Self.
Q: But is there anything beyond the Self?
M: Outside the Self there is nothing. All is one and all is contained in 'I am'. In the waking and dream states it is the person. In deep sleep and turiya it is the Self. Beyond the alert intentness of turiya lies the great, silent peace of the Supreme. But in fact all is one in essence and related in appearance. In ignorance the seer becomes the seen and in wisdom he is the seeing.
But why be concerned with the Supreme? Know the knowers and all will be known.
Questioner: We are advised to worship reality personified as God, or as the Perfect Man. We are told not to attempt the worship of the Absolute, as it is much too difficult for a braincentred consciousness.
Maharaj: Truth is simple and open to all. Why do you complicate? Truth is loving and lovable. It includes all, accepts all, purifies all. It is untruth that is difficult and a source of trouble. It always wants, expects, demands. Being false, it is empty, always in search of confirmation and reassurance. It is afraid of and avoids enquiry. It identifies itself with any support, however weak and momentary. Whatever it gets, it loses and asks for more. Therefore put no faith in the conscious. Nothing you can see, feel, or think is so. Even sin and virtue, merit and demerit are not what they appear. Usually the bad and the good are a matter of convention and custom and are shunned or welcomed, according to how the words are used.
Q: Are there not good desires and bad, high desires and low?
M: All desires are bad, but some are worse than others. Pursue any desire, it will always give you trouble.
Q: Even the desire to be free of desire?
M: Why desire at all? Desiring a state of freedom from desire will not set you free. Nothing can set you free, because you are free. See yourself with desireless clarity, that is all.
Q: It takes time to know oneself.
M: How can time help you? Time is a succession of moments; each moment appears out of nothing and disappears into nothing, never to reappear. How can you build on something so fleeting?
Q: What is permanent?
M: Look to yourself for the permanent. Dive deep within and find what is real in you.
Q: How to look for myself?
M: Whatever happens, it happens to you. What you do, the doer is in you. Find the subject of all that you are as a person.
Q: What else can I be?
M: Find out. Even if I tell you that you are the witness, the silent watcher, it will mean nothing to you, unless you find the way to your own being.
Q: My question is: How to find the way to one's own being?
M: Give up all questions except one: 'Who am l'? After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The 'I am' is certain. The 'I am this' is not. Struggle to find out what you are in reality.
Q: I am doing nothing else for the last 60 years.
M: What is wrong with striving? Why look for results? Striving itself is your real nature.
Q: Striving is painful.
M: You make it so by seeking results. Strive without seeking, struggle without greed.
Q: Why has God made me as I am?
M: Which God are you talking about? What is God? Is he not the very light by which you ask the question? 'I am' itself is God. The seeking itself is God. In seeking you discover that you are neither the body nor mind, and the love of the self in you is for the self in all. The two are one. The consciousness in you and the consciousness in me, apparently two, really one, seek unity and that is love.
Q: How am I to find that love?
M: What do you love now? The 'I am'. Give your heart and mind to it, think of nothing else. This, when effortless and natural, is the highest state. In it love itself is the lover and the beloved.
Q: Everybody wants to live, to exist. Is it not self-love?
M: All desire has its source in the self. It is all a matter of choosing the right desire.
Q: What is right and what is wrong varies with habit and custom. Standards vary with societies.
M: Discard all traditional standards. Leave them to the hypocrites. Only what liberates you from desire and fear and wrong ideas is good. As long as you worry about sin and virtue you will have no peace.
Q: I grant that sin and virtue are social norms. But there may be also spiritual sins and virtues. I mean by spiritual the absolute. Is there such a thing as absolute sin or absolute virtue?
M: Sin and virtue refer to a person only. Without a sinful or virtuous person what is sin or virtue? At the level of the absolute there are no persons; the ocean of pure awareness is neither virtuous nor sinful. Sin and virtue are invariably relative.
Q: Can I do away with such unnecessary notions?
M: Not as long as you think yourself to be a person.
Q: By what sign shall l know that I am beyond sin and virtue?
M: By being free from all desire and fear, from the very idea of being a person. To nourish the ideas: 'I am a sinner' 'I am not a sinner', is sin. To identify oneself with the particular is all the sin there is. The impersonal is real, the personal appears and disappears. 'I am' is the impersonal Being. 'I am this' is the person. The person is relative and the pure Being -- fundamental.
Q: Surely pure Being is not unconscious, nor is it devoid of discrimination. How can it be beyond sin and virtue? Just tell us, please, has it intelligence or not?
M: All these questions arise from your believing yourself to be a person. Go beyond the personal and see.
Q: What exactly do you mean when you ask me to stop being a person?
M: I do not ask you to stop being -- that you cannot. I ask you only to stop imagining that you were born, have parents, are a body, will die and so on. Just try, make a beginning -- it is not as hard as you think.
Q: To think oneself as the personal is the sin of the impersonal.
M: Again the personal point of view! Why do you insist on polluting the impersonal with your ideas of sin and virtue? It just does not apply. The impersonal cannot be described in terms of good and bad. It is Being -- Wisdom -- Love -- all absolute. Where is the scope for sin there? And virtue is only the opposite of sin.
Q: We talk of divine virtue.
M: True virtue is divine nature (swarupa). What you are really is your virtue. But the opposite of sin which you call virtue is only obedience born out of fear.
Q: Then why all effort at being good?
M: It keeps you on the move. You go on and on till you find God. Then God takes you into Himself -- and makes you as He is.
Q: The same action is considered natural at one point and a sin at another. What makes it sinful?
M: Whatever you do against your better knowledge is sin.
Q: Knowledge depends on memory.
M: Remembering your self is virtue, forgetting your self is sin. It all boils down to the mental or psychological link between the spirit and matter. We may call the link psyche (antahkarana). When the psyche is raw, undeveloped, quite primitive, it is subject to gross illusions. As it grows in breadth and sensitivity, it becomes a perfect link between pure matter and pure spirit and gives meaning to matter and expression to spirit.
There is the material world (mahadakash) and the spiritual (paramakash). Between lies the universal mind (chidakash) which is also the universal heart (premakash). It is wise love that makes the two one.
Q: Some people are stupid, some are intelligent. The difference is in their psyche. The ripe ones had more experience behind them. Just like a child grows by eating and drinking, sleeping and playing, so is man's psyche shaped by all he thinks and feels and does, until it is perfect enough to serve as a bridge between the spirit and the body. As a bridge permits the traffic; between the banks, so does the psyche bring together the source and its expression.
M: Call it love. The bridge is love.
Q: Ultimately all is experience. Whatever we think, feel, do is experience. Behind it is the experiencer. So all we know consists of these two, the experiencer and the experience. But the two are really one -- the experiencer alone is the experience. Still, the experiencer takes the experience to be outside. In the same way the spirit and the body are one; they only appear as two.
M: To the Spirit there is no second.
Q: To whom then does the second appear? It seems to me that duality is an illusion induced by the imperfection of the psyche. When the psyche is perfect, duality is no longer seen.
M: You have said it.
Q: Still I have to repeat my very simple question: who makes the distinction between sin and virtue?
M: He who has a body, sins with the body, he who has a mind, sins with the mind.
Q: Surely, the mere possession of mind and body does not compel to sin. There must be a third factor at the root of it. I come back again and again to this question of sin and virtue, because now-a-days young people keep on saying that there is no such thing as sin, that one need not be squermish and should follow the moment's desire readily. They will accept neither tradition nor authority and can be influenced only by solid and honest thought. If they refrain from certain actions, it is through fear of police rather than by conviction. Undoubtedly there is something in what they say, for we can see how our values change from place to place and time to time. For instance -- killing in war is great virtue today and may be considered a horrible crime next century.
M: A man who moves with the earth will necessarily experience days and nights. He who stays with the sun will know no darkness. My world is not yours. As I see it, you all are on a stage performing. There is no reality about your comings and goings. And your problems are so unreal!
Q: We may be sleep-walkers, or subject to nightmares. Is there nothing you can do?
M: I am doing: I did enter your dreamlike state to tell you -- "Stop hurting yourself and others, stop suffering, wake up".
Q: Why then don't we wake up?
M: You will. I shall not be thwarted. It may take some time. When you shall begin to question your dream, awakening will be not far away.
Questioner: Is the practice of Yoga always conscious? Or, can it be quite unconscious, below the threshold of awareness?
Maharaj: In the case of a beginner the practice of Yoga is often deliberate and requires great determination. But those who are practising sincerely for many years, are intent on self-realisation all the time, whether conscious of it or not. Unconscious sadhana is most effective, because it is spontaneous and steady.
Q: What is the position of the man who was a sincere student of Yoga for some time and then got discouraged and abandoned all efforts?
M: What a man appears to do, or not to do, is often deceptive. His apparent lethargy may be just a gathering of strength. The causes of our behaviour are very subtle. One must not be quick to condemn, not even to praise. Remember that Yoga is the work of the inner self (vyakta) on the outer self (vyakti). All that the outer does is merely in response to the inner.
Q: Still the outer helps.
M: How much can it help and in what way? It has some control over the body and can improve its posture and breathing. Over the mind's thoughts and feelings it has little mastery, for it is itself the mind. It is the inner that can control the outer. The outer will be wise to obey.
Q: If it is the inner that is ultimately responsible for man's spiritual development, why is the outer so much exhorted and encouraged?
M: The outer can help by keeping quiet and free from desire and fear. You would have noticed that all advice to the outer is in the form of negations: don't, stop, refrain, forego, give up, sacrifice, surrender, see the false as false. Even the little description of reality that is given is through denials -- 'not this, not this', (neti, neti). All positives belong to the inner self, as all absolutes -- to Reality.
Q: How are we to distinguish the inner from the outer in actual experience?
M: The inner is the source of inspiration, the outer is moved by memory. The source is untraceable, while all memory begins somewhere. Thus the outer is always determined, while the inner cannot be held in words. The mistake of students consists in their imagining the inner to be something to get hold of, and forgetting that all perceivables are transient and, therefore, unreal. Only that which makes perception possible, call it Life or Brahman, or what you like, is real.
Q: Must Life have a body for its self-expression?
M: The body seeks to live. It is not life that needs the body; it is the body that needs life.
Q: Does life do it deliberately?
M: Does love act deliberately? Yes and no. Life is love and love is life. What keeps the body together but love? What is desire, but love of the self? What is fear but the urge to protect? And what is knowledge but the love of truth? The means and forms may be wrong, but the motive behind is always love -- love of the me and the mine. The me and the mine may be small, or may explode and embrace the universe, but love remains.
Q: The repetition of the name of God is very common in India. Is there any virtue in it?
M: When you know the name of a thing, or a person, you can find it easily. By calling God by His name you make Him come to you.
Q: In what shape does He come?
M: According to your expectations. If you happen to be unlucky and some saintly soul gives you a mantra for good luck and you repeat it with faith and devotion, your bad luck is bound to turn. Steady faith is stronger than destiny. Destiny is the result of causes, mostly accidental, and is therefore loosely woven. Confidence and good hope will overcome it easily.
Q: When a mantra is chanted, what exactly happens?
M: The sound of mantra creates the shape which will embody the Self. The Self can embody any shape -- and operate through it. After all, the Self is expressing itself in action -- and a mantra is primarily energy in action. It acts on you, it acts on your surroundings.
Q: The mantra is traditional. Must it be so?
M: Since time immemorial a link was created between certain words and corresponding energies and reinforced by numberless repetitions. It is just like a road to walk on. It is an easy way -- only faith is needed. You trust the road to take you to your destination.
Q: In Europe there is no tradition of a mantra, except in some contemplative orders. Of what use is it to a modern young Westerner?
M: None, unless he is very much attracted. For him the right procedure is to adhere to the thought that he is the ground of all knowledge, the immutable and perennial awareness of all that happens to the senses and the mind. If he keeps it in mind all the time, aware and alert, he is bound to break the bounds of non-awareness and emerge into pure life, light and love. The idea -- 'I am the witness only' will purify the body and the mind and open the eye of wisdom. Then man goes beyond illusion and his heart is free of all desires. Just like ice turns to water and water to vapour, and vapour dissolves in air and disappears in space, so does the body dissolve into pure awareness (chidakash), then into pure being (paramakash), which is beyond all existence and non-existence.
Q: The realised man eats, drinks and sleeps. What makes him do so?
M: The same power that moves the universe, moves him too.
Q: All are moved by the same power: what is the difference?
M: This only: The realised man knows what others merely hear; but don't experience. Intellectually they may seem convinced, but in action they betray their bondage, while the realised man is always right.
Q: Everybody says 'I am'. The realised man too says 'I am'. Where is the difference?
M: The difference is in the meaning attached to the words 'I am'. With the realised man the experience: 'I am the world, the world is mine' is supremely valid -- he thinks, feels and acts integrally and in unity with all that lives. He may not even know the theory and practice of self-realisation, and be born and bred free of religious and metaphysical notions. But there will not be the least flaw in his understanding and compassion.
Q: I may come across a beggar, naked and hungry and ask him 'Who are you?' He may answer: 'I am the Supreme Self'. 'Well', I say, 'suffice you are the Supreme, change your present state'. What will he do?
M: He will ask you: 'Which state? What is there that needs changing? What is wrong with me?
Q: Why should he answer so?
M: Because he is no longer bound by appearances, he does not identify himself with the name and shape. He uses memory, but memory cannot use him.
Q: Is not all knowledge based on memory?
M: Lower knowledge -- yes. Higher knowledge, knowledge of Reality, is inherent in man's true nature.
Q: Can I say that I am not what I am conscious of, nor am I consciousness itself?
M: As long as you are a seeker, better cling to the idea that you are pure consciousness, free from all content. To go beyond consciousness is the supreme state.
Q: The desire for realisation, does it originate in consciousness or beyond?
M: In consciousness, of course. All desire is born from memory and is within the realm of consciousness. What is beyond is clear of all striving. The very desire to go beyond consciousness is still in consciousness.
Q: Is there any trace, or imprint, of the beyond on consciousness?
M: No, there cannot be.
Q: Then, what is the link between the two? How can a passage be found between two states which have nothing in common? Is not pure awareness the link between the two?
M: Even pure awareness is a form of consciousness.
Q: Then what is beyond? Emptiness?
M: Emptiness again refers only to consciousness. Fullness and emptiness are relative terms. The Real is really beyond -- beyond not in relation to consciousness, but beyond all relations of whatever kind. The difficulty comes with the word 'state'. The Real is not a state of something else -- it is not a state of mind or consciousness or psyche -- nor is it something that has a beginning and an end, being and not being. All opposites are contained in it -- but it is not in the play of opposites. You must not take it to be the end of a transition. It is itself, after the consciousness as such is no more. Then words 'I am man', or 'I am God' have no meaning. Only in silence and in darkness can it be heard and seen.
Maharaj: You are all drenched for it is raining hard. In my world it is always fine weather. There is no night or day, no heat or cold. No worries beset me there, nor regrets. My mind is free of thoughts, for there are no desires to slave for.
Questioner: Are there two worlds?
M: Your world is transient, changeful. My world is perfect, changeless. You can tell me what you like about your world -- I shall listen carefully, even with interest, yet not for a moment shall I forget that your world is not, that you are dreaming.
Q: What distinguishes your world from mine?
M: My world has no characteristics by which it can be identified. You can say nothing about it. I am my world. My world is myself. It is complete and perfect. Every impression is erased, every experience -- rejected. I need nothing, not even myself, for myself I cannot lose.
Q: Not even God?
M: All these ideas and distinctions exist in your world; in mine there is nothing of the kind. My world is single and very simple.
Q: Nothing happens there?
M: Whatever happens in your world, only there it has validity and evokes response. In my world nothing happens.
Q: The very fact of your experiencing your own world implies duality inherent in all experience.
M: Verbally -- yes. But your words do not reach me. Mine is a non-verbal world. In your world the unspoken has no existence. In mine -- the words and their contents have no being. In your world nothing stays, in mine -- nothing changes. My world is real, while yours is made of dreams.
Q: Yet we are talking.
M: The talk is in your world. In mine -- there is eternal silence. My silence sings, my emptiness is full, I lack nothing. You cannot know my world until you are there.
Q: It seems as if you alone are in your world.
M: How can you say alone or not alone, when words do not apply? Of course, I am alone for I am all.
Q: Are you ever coming into our world?
M: What is coming and going to me? These again are words. I am. Whence am I to come from and where to go?
Q: Of what use is your world to me?
M: You should consider more closely your own world, examine it critically and, suddenly, one day you will find yourself in mine.
Q: What do we gain by it?
M: You gain nothing. You leave behind what is not your own and find what you have never lost -- your own being.
Q: Who is the ruler of your world?
M: There are no ruler and ruled here. There is no duality whatsoever. You are merely projecting your own ideas. Your scriptures and your gods have no meaning here.
Q: Still you have a name and shape, display consciousness and activity.
M: In your world I appear so. In mine I have being only. Nothing else. You people are rich with your ideas of possession, of quantity and quality. I am completely without ideas.
Q: In my world there is disturbance, distress and despair. You seem to be living on some hidden income, while I must slave for a living.
M: Do as you please. You are free to leave your world for mine.
Q: How is the crossing done?
M: See your world as it is, not as you imagine it to be. Discrimination will lead to detachment; detachment will ensure right action; right action will build the inner bridge to your real being. Action is a proof of earnestness. Do what you are told diligently and faithfully and all obstacles will dissolve.
Q: Are you happy?
M: In your world I would be most miserable. To wake up, to eat, to talk, to sleep again -- what a bother!
Q: So you do not want to live even?
M: To live, to die -- what meaningless words are these! When you see me alive, I am dead. When you think me dead, I am alive. How muddled up you are!
Q: How indifferent you are? All the sorrows of our world are as nothing to you.
M: I am quite conscious of your troubles.
Q: Then what are you doing about them?
M: There is nothing I need doing. They come and go.
Q: Do they go by the very act of your giving them attention?
M: Yes. The difficulty may be physical, emotional or mental; but it is always individual. Large scale calamities are the sum of numberless individual destinies and take time to settle. But death is never a calamity.
Q: Even when a man is killed?
M: The calamity is of the killer.
Q: Still, it seems there are two worlds, mine and yours.
M: Mine is real, yours is of the mind.
Q: Imagine a rock and a hole in the rock and a frog in the hole. The frog may spend its life in perfect bliss, undistracted, undisturbed. Outside the rock the world goes on. If the frog in the hole were told about the outside world, he would say: 'There is no such thing. My world is of peace and bliss. Your world is a word structure only, it has no existence'. It is the same with you. When you tell us that our world simply does not exist, there is no common ground for discussion. Or, take another example. I go to a doctor and complain of stomach ache. He examines me and says: 'You are all right'. 'But it pains' I say. 'Your pain is mental' he asserts. I say 'It does not help me to know that my pain is mental. You are a doctor, cure me of my pain. If you cannot cure me, you are not my doctor.'
M: Quite right.
Q: You have built the railroad, but for lack of a bridge no train can pass. Build the bridge.
M: There is no need of a bridge.
Q: There must be some link between your world and mine.
M: There is no need of a link between a real world and an imaginary world, for there cannot be any.
Q: So what are we to do?
M: Investigate your world, apply your mind to it, examine it critically, scrutinise every idea about it; that will do.
Q: The world is too big for investigation. All I know is that I am the world is, the world troubles me and I trouble the world.
M: My experience is that everything is bliss. But the desire for bliss creates pain. Thus bliss becomes the seed of pain. The entire universe of pain is born of desire. Give up the desire for pleasure and you will not even know what is pain.
Q: Why should pleasure be the seed of pain?
M: Because for the sake of pleasure you are committing many sins. And the fruits of sin are suffering and death.
Q: You say the world is of no use to us -- only a tribulation. I feel it cannot be so. God is not such a fool. The world seems to me a big enterprise for bringing the potential into actual, matter into life, the unconscious into full awareness. To realise the supreme we need the experience of the opposites. Just as for building a temple we need stone and mortar, wood and iron, glass and tiles, so for making a man into a divine sage, a master of life and death, one needs the material of every experience. As a woman goes to the market, buys provisions of every sort, comes home, cooks, bakes and feeds her lord, so we bake ourselves nicely in the fire of life and feed our God.
M: Well, if you think so, act on it. Feed your God, by all means.
Q: A child goes to school and learns many things, which will be of no use to it later. But in the course of learning it grows. So do we pass through experiences without number and forget them all, but in the meantime we grow all the time. And what is a jnani but a man with a genius for reality! This world of mine cannot be an accident. It makes sense, there must be a plan behind it. My God has a plan.
M: If the world is false, then the plan and its creator are also false.
Q: Again, you deny the world. There is no bridge between us.
M: There is no need of a bridge. Your mistake lies in your belief that you are born. You were never born nor will you ever die, but you believe that you were born at a certain date and place and that a particular body is your own.
Q: The world is, I am. These are facts.
M: Why do you worry about the world before taking care of yourself? You want to save the world, don't you? Can you save the world before saving yourself? And what means being saved? Saved from what? From illusion. Salvation is to see things as they are. I really do not see myself related to anybody and anything. Not even to a self, whatever that self may be. I remain forever -- undefined. I am -- within and beyond -- intimate and unapproachable.
Q: How did you come to it?
M: By my trust in my Guru. He told me 'You alone are' and I did not doubt him. I was merely puzzling over it, until I realised that it is absolutely true.
Q: Conviction by repetition?
M: By self-realisation. I found that I am conscious and happy absolutely and only by mistake I thought I owed being consciousness-bliss to the body and the world of bodies.
Q: You are not a learned man. You have not read much and what you read, or heard did perhaps not contradict itself. I am fairly well educated and have read a lot and I found that books and teachers contradict each other hopelessly. Hence whatever I read or hear, I take it in a state of doubt. 'It may be so, it may not be so' is my first reaction. And as my mind is unable to decide what is true and what is not, I am left high and dry with my doubts. In Yoga a doubting mind is at a tremendous disadvantage.
M: I am glad to hear it; but my Guru too taught me to doubt -- everything and absolutely. He said: 'deny existence to everything except your self.' Through desire you have created the world with its pains and pleasures.
Q: Must it be also painful?
M: What else? By its very nature pleasure is limited and transitory. Out of pain desire is born, in pain it seeks fulfilment, and it ends in the pain of frustration and despair. Pain is the background of pleasure, all seeking of pleasure is born in pain and ends in pain.
Q: All you say is clear to me. But when some physical or mental trouble comes, my mind goes dull and grey, or seeks frantically for relief.
M: What does it matter? It is the mind that is dull or restless, not you. Look, all kinds of things happen in this room. Do I cause them to happen? They just happen. So it is with you -- the roll of destiny unfolds itself and actualises the inevitable. You cannot change the course of events, but you can change your attitude and what really matters is the attitude and not the bare event. The world is the abode of desires and fears. You cannot find peace in it. For peace you must go beyond the world. The root cause of the world is self-love. Because of it we seek pleasure and avoid pain. Replace self-love by love of the Self and the picture changes. Brahma the Creator is the sum total of all desires. The world is the instrument for their fulfilment. Souls take whatever pleasure they desire and pay for them in tears. Time squares all accounts. The law of balance reigns supreme.
Q: To be a superman one must be a man first. Manhood is the fruit of innumerable experiences: Desire drives to experience. Hence at its own time and level desire is right.
M: All this is true in a way. But a day comes when you have amassed enough and must begin to build. Then sorting out and discarding (viveka-vairagya) are absolutely necessary. Everything must be scrutinised and the unnecessary ruthlessly destroyed. Believe me, there cannot be too much destruction. For in reality nothing is of value. Be passionately dispassionate -- that is all.
Questioner: Some Mahatmas (enlightened beings) maintain that the world is neither an accident nor a play of God, but the result and expression of a mighty plan of work aiming at awakening and developing consciousness throughout the universe. From lifelessness to life, from unconsciousness to consciousness, from dullness to bright intelligence, from misapprehension to clarity -- that is the direction in which the world moves ceaselessly and relentlessly. Of course, there are moments of rest and apparent darkness, when the universe seems to be dormant, but the rest comes to an end and the work on consciousness is resumed. From our point of view the world is a dale of tears, a place to escape from, as soon as possible and by every possible means. To enlightened beings the world is good and it serves a good purpose. They do not deny that the world is a mental structure and that ultimately all is one, but they see and say that the structure has meaning and serves a supremely desirable purpose. What we call the will of God is not a capricious whim of a playful deity, but the expression of an absolute necessity to grow in love and wisdom and power, to actualise the infinite potentials of life and consciousness.
Just as a gardener grows flowers from a tiny seed to glorious perfection, so does God in His own garden grow, among other beings, men to supermen, who know and love and work along with Him.
When God takes rest (pralaya), those whose growth was not completed, become unconscious for a time, while the perfect ones, who have gone beyond all forms and contents of consciousness, remain aware of the universal silence. When the time comes for the emergence of a new universe, the sleepers wake up and their work starts. The more advanced wake up first and prepare the ground for the less advanced -- who thus find forms and patterns of behaviour suitable for their further growth.
Thus runs the story. The difference with your teaching is this: you insist that the world is no good and should be shunned. They say that distaste for the world is a passing stage, necessary, yet temporary, and is soon replaced by an all-pervading love, and a steady will to work with God.
Maharaj: All you say is right for the outgoing (pravritti) path. For the path of return (nivritti) naughting oneself is necessary. My stand I take where nothing (paramakash) is; words do not reach there, nor thoughts. To the mind it is all darkness and silence. Then consciousness begins to stir and wakes up the mind (chidakash), which projects the world (mahadakash), built of memory and imagination. Once the world comes into being, all you say may be so. It is in the nature of the mind to imagine goals, to strive towards them, to seek out means and ways, to display vision, energy and courage. These are divine attributes and I do not deny them. But I take my stand where no difference exists, where things are not, nor the minds that create them. There I am at home. Whatever happens, does not affect me -- things act on things, that is all. Free from memory and expectation, I am fresh, innocent and wholehearted. Mind is the great worker (mahakarta) and it needs rest. Needing nothing, I am unafraid. Whom to be afraid of? There is no separation, we are not separate selves. There is only one Self, the Supreme Reality, in which the personal and the impersonal are one.
Q: All I want is to be able to help the world.
M: Who says you cannot help? You made up your mind about what help means and needs and got your self into a conflict between what you should and what you can, between necessity and ability.
Q: But why do we do so?
M: Your mind projects a structure and you identify yourself with it. It is in the nature of desire to prompt the mind to create a world for its fulfilment. Even a small desire can start a long line of action; what about a strong desire? Desire can produce a universe; its powers are miraculous. Just as a small matchstick can set a huge forest on fire, so does a desire light the fires of manifestation. The very purpose of creation is the fulfilment of desire. The desire may be noble, or ignoble, space (akash) is neutral -- one can fill it with what one likes: You must be very careful as to what you desire. And as to the people you want to help, they are in their respective worlds for the sake of their desires; there is no way of helping them except through their desires. You can only teach them to have right desires so that they may rise above them and be free from the urge to create and re-create worlds of desires, abodes of pain and pleasure.
Q: A day must come when the show is wound up; a man must die, a universe come to an end.
M: Just as a sleeping man forgets all and wakes up for another day, or he dies and emerges into another life, so do the worlds of desire and fear dissolve and disappear. But the universal witness, the Supreme Self never sleeps and never dies. Eternally the Great Heart beats and at each beat a new universe comes into being.
Q: Is he conscious?
M: He is beyond all that the mind conceives. He is beyond being and not being. He is the Yes and No to everything, beyond and within, creating and destroying, unimaginably real.
Q: God and the Mahatma are they one or two?
M: They are one.
Q: There must be some difference.
M: God is the All-Doer, the jnani is a non-doer. God himself does not say: 'I am doing all.' To Him things happen by their own nature. To the jnani all is done by God. He sees no difference between God and nature. Both God and the jnani know themselves to be the immovable centre of the movable, the eternal witness of the transient. The centre is a point of void and the witness a point of pure awareness; they know themselves to be as nothing, therefore nothing can resist them.
Q: How does this look and feel in your personal experience?
M: Being nothing, I am all. Everything is me, everything is mine. Just as my body moves by my mere thinking of the movement, so do things happen as I think of them. Mind you, I do nothing. I just see them happen.
Q: Do things happen as you want them to happen, or do you want them to happen as they happen?
M: Both. I accept and am accepted. I am all and all is me. Being the world I am not afraid of the world. Being all, what am I to be afraid of? Water is not afraid of water, nor fire of fire. Also I am not afraid because I am nothing that can experience fear, or can be in danger. I have no shape, nor name. It is attachment to a name and shape that breeds fear. I am not attached. I am nothing, and nothing is afraid of no thing. On the contrary, everything is afraid of the Nothing, for when a thing touches Nothing, it becomes nothing. It is like a bottomless well, whatever falls into it, disappears.
Q: Isn't God a person?
M: As long as you think yourself to be a person, He too is a person. When you are all, you see Him as all.
Q: Can I change facts by changing attitude?
M: The attitude is the fact. Take anger. I may be furious, pacing the room up and down; at the same time I know what I am, a centre of wisdom and love, an atom of pure existence. All subsides and the mind merges into silence.
Q: Still, you are angry sometimes.
M: With whom am l to be angry and for what? Anger came and dissolved on my remembering myself. It is all a play of gunas (qualities of cosmic matter). When I identify myself with them, I am their slave. When I stand apart, I am their master.
Q: Can you influence the world by your attitude? By separating yourself from the world you lose all hope of helping it.
M: How can it be? All is myself -- can't I help myself? I do not identify myself with anybody in particular, for I am all -- both the particular and the universal.
Q: Can you then help me, the particular person?
M: But I do help you always -- from within. My self and your self are one. I know it, but you don't. That is all the difference -- and it cannot last.
Q: And how do you help the entire world?
M: Gandhi is dead, yet his mind pervades the earth. The thought of a jnani pervades humanity and works ceaselessly for good. Being anonymous, coming from within, it is the more powerful and compelling. That is how the world improves -- the inner aiding and blessing the outer. When a jnani dies, he is no more, in the same sense in which a river is no more when it merges in the sea, the name, the shape, are no more, but the water remains and becomes one with the ocean. When a jnani joins the universal mind, all his goodness and wisdom become the heritage of humanity and uplift every human being.
Q: We are attached to our personality. Our individuality, our being unlike others, we value very much. You seem to denounce both as useless. Your unmanifested, of what use is it to us?
M: Unmanifested, manifested, individuality, personality (nirguna, saguna, vyakta, vyakti); all these are mere words, points of view, mental attitudes. There is no reality in them. The real is experienced in silence. You cling to personality -- but you are conscious of being a person only when you are in trouble -- when you are not in trouble you do not think of yourself.
Q: You did not tell me the uses of the Unmanifested.
M: Surely, you must sleep in order to wake up. You must die in order to live, you must melt down to shape anew. You must destroy to build, annihilate before creation. The Supreme is the universal solvent, it corrodes every container, it burns through every obstacle. Without the absolute denial of everything the tyranny of things would be absolute. The Supreme is the great harmoniser, the guarantee of the ultimate and perfect balance -- of life in freedom. It dissolves you and thus re-asserts your true being.
Q: It is all well on its own level. But how does it work in daily life?
M: The daily life is a life of action. Whether you like it or not, you must function. Whatever you do for your own sake accumulates and becomes explosive; one day it goes off and plays havoc with you and your world. When you deceive yourself that you work for the good of all, it makes matters worse, for you should not be guided by your own ideas of what is good for others. A man who claims to know what is good for others, is dangerous.
Q: How is one to work then?
M: Neither for yourself nor for others, but for the work's own sake. A thing worth doing is its own purpose and meaning, Make nothing a means to something else. Bind not. God does not create one thing to serve another. Each is made for its own sake. Because it is made for itself, it does not interfere. You are using things and people for purposes alien to them and you play havoc with the world and yourself.
Q: Our real being is all the time with us, you say. How is it that we do not notice it?
M: Yes, you are always the Supreme. But your attention is fixed on things, physical or mental. When your attention is off a thing and not yet fixed on another, in the interval you are pure being. When through the practice of discrimination and detachment (viveka-vairagya), you lose sight of sensory and mental states, pure being emerges as the natural state.
Q: How does one bring to an end this sense of separateness?
M: By focussing the mind on 'I am', on the sense of being, 'I am so-and-so' dissolves; "I am a witness only" remains and that too submerges in 'I am all'. Then the all becomes the One and the One -- yourself, not to be separate from me. Abandon the idea of a separate 'I' and the question of 'whose experience?' will not arise.
Q: You speak from your own experience. How can I make it mine?
M: You speak of my experience as different from your experience, because you believe we are separate. But we are not. On a deeper level my experience is your experience. Dive deep within yourself and you will find it easily and simply. Go in the direction of 'I am'.
Questioner: Are you ever glad or sad? Do you know joy and sorrow?
Maharaj: Call them as you please. To me they are states of mind only, and I am not the mind.
Q: Is love a state of mind?
M: Again, it depends what you mean by love. Desire is, of course, a state of mind. But the realisation of unity is beyond mind. To me, nothing exists by itself. All is the Self, all is myself. To see myself in everybody and everybody in myself most certainly is love.
Q: When I see something pleasant, I want it. Who exactly wants it? The self or the mind?
M: The question is wrongly put. There is no 'who'. There is desire, fear, anger, and the mind says -- this is me, this is mine. There is no thing which could be called 'me' or 'mine'. Desire is a state of the mind, perceived and named by the mind. Without the mind perceiving and naming, where is desire?
Q: But is there such a thing as perceiving without naming?
M: Of course. Naming cannot go beyond the mind, while perceiving is consciousness itself.
Q: When somebody dies what exactly happens?
M: Nothing happens. Something becomes nothing. Nothing was, nothing remains.
Q: Surely there is a difference between the living and the dead. You speak of the living as dead and of the dead as living.
M: Why do you fret at one man dying and care little for the millions dying every day? Entire universes are imploding and exploding every moment -- am I to cry over them? One thing is quite clear to me: all that is, lives and moves and has its being in consciousness and I am in and beyond that consciousness. I am in it as the witness. I am beyond it as Being.
Q: Surely, you care when your child is ill, don't you?
M: I don't get flustered. I just do the needful. I do not worry about the future. A right response to every situation is in my nature. I do not stop to think what to do. I act and move on. Results do not affect me. I do not even care, whether they are good or bad. Whatever they are, they are -- if they come back to me, I deal with them afresh. Or, rather, I happen to deal with them afresh. There is no sense of purpose in my doing anything. Things happens as they happen -- not because I make them happen, but it is because I am that they happen. In reality nothing ever happens. When the mind is restless, it makes Shiva dance, like the restless waters of the lake make the moon dance. It is all appearance, due to wrong ideas.
Q: Surely, you are aware of many things and behave according to their nature. You treat a child as a child and an adult as an adult.
M: Just as the taste of salt pervades the great ocean and every single drop of sea-water carries the same flavour, so every experience gives me the touch of reality, the ever fresh realisation of my own being.
Q: Do I exist in your world, as you exist in mine?
M: Of course, you are and I am. But only as points in consciousness; we are nothing apart from consciousness. This must be well grasped: the world hangs on the thread of consciousness; no consciousness, no world.
Q: There are many points in consciousness; are there as many worlds?
M: Take dream for an example. In a hospital there may be many patients, all sleeping, all dreaming, each dreaming his own private, personal dreams unrelated, unaffected, having one single factor in common -- illness. Similarly, we have divorced ourselves in our imagination from the real world of common experience and enclosed ourselves in a cloud of personal desire and fears, images and thoughts, ideas and concepts.
Q: This I can understand. But what could be the cause of the tremendous variety of the personal worlds?
M: The variety is not so great. All the dreams are superimposed over a common world. To some extent they shape and influence each other. The basic unity operates in spite of all. At the root of it all lies self-forgetfulness; not knowing who I am.
Q: To forget, one must know. Did I know who I am, before I forgot it?
M: Of course. Self-forgetting is inherent in self-knowing. Consciousness and unconsciousness are two aspects of one life. They co-exist. To know the world you forget the self -- to know the self you forget the world. What is world after all? A collection of memories. Cling to one thing, that matters, hold on to 'I am' and let go all else. This is sadhana. In realisation there is nothing to hold on to and nothing to forget. Everything is known, nothing is remembered.
Q: What is the cause of self-forgetting?
M: There is no cause, because there is no forgetting. Mental states succeed one another, and each obliterates the previous one. Self-remembering is a mental state and self-forgetting is another. They alternate like day and night. Reality is beyond both.
Q: Surely there must be a difference between forgetting and not knowing. Not knowing needs no cause. Forgetting presupposes previous knowledge and also the tendency or ability to forget. I admit I cannot enquire into the reason for not-knowing, but forgetting must have some ground.
M: There is no such thing as not-knowing. There is only forgetting. What is wrong with forgetting? It is as simple to forget as to remember.
Q: Is it not a calamity to forget oneself?
M: As bad as to remember oneself continuously. There is a state beyond forgetting and not-forgetting -- the natural state. To remember, to forget -- these are all states of mind, thoughtbound, word-bound. Take for example, the idea of being born. I am told I was born. I do not remember. I am told I shall die I do not expect it. You tell me I have forgotten, or I lack imagination. But I just cannot remember what never happened, nor expect the patently impossible. Bodies are born and bodies die, but what is it to me? Bodies come and go in consciousness and consciousness itself has its roots in me. I am life and mine are mind and body.
Q: You say at the root of the world is self-forgetfulness. To forget I must remember What did I forget to remember? I have not forgotten that I am.
M: This 'I am' too may be a part of the illusion.
Q. How can it be? You cannot prove to me that I am not. Even when convinced that I am not -- I am.
M: Reality can neither be proved nor disproved. Within the mind you cannot, beyond the mind you need not. In the real, the question 'what is real?' does not arise. The manifested (saguna) and unmanifested (nirguna) are not different.
Q: In that case all is real.
M: I am all. As myself all is real. Apart from me, nothing is real.
Q: I do not feel that the world is the result of a mistake.
M: You may say so only after a full investigation, not before. Of course, when you discern and let go all that is unreal, what remains is real.
Q: Does anything remain?
M: The real remains. But don't be mislead by words!
Q: Since immemorial time, during innumerable births, I build and improve and beautify my world. It is neither perfect, nor unreal. It is a process.
M: You are mistaken. The world has no existence apart from you. At every moment it is but a reflection of yourself. You create it, you destroy it.
Q: And build it again, improved.
M: To improve it, you must disprove it. One must die to live. There is no rebirth, except through death.
Q: Your universe may be perfect. My personal universe is improving.
M: Your personal universe does not exist by itself. It is merely a limited and distorted view of the real. It is not the universe that needs improving, but your way of looking.
Q: How do you view it?
M: It is a stage on which a world drama is being played. The quality of the performance is all that matters; not what the actors say and do, but how they say and do it.
Q: I do not like this lila (play) idea I would rather compare the world to a work-yard in which we are the builders.
M: You take it too seriously. What is wrong with play? You have a purpose only as long as you are not complete (purna); till then completeness, perfection, is the purpose. But when you are complete in yourself, fully integrated within and without, then you enjoy the universe; you do not labour at it. To the disintegrated you may seem working hard, but that is their illusion. Sportsmen seem to make tremendous efforts: yet their sole motive is to play and display.
Q: Do you mean to say that God is just having fun, that he is engaged in purposeless action?
M: God is not only true and good, he is also beautiful (satyam-shivam-sundaram). He creates beauty -- for the joy of It
Q: Well, then beauty is his purpose!
M: Why do you introduce purpose? Purpose implies movement, change, a sense of imperfection. God does not aim at beauty -- whatever he does is beautiful. Would you say that a flower is trying to be beautiful? It is beautiful by its very nature. Similarly God is perfection itself, not an effort at perfection.
Q: The purpose fulfils itself in beauty.
M: What is beautiful? Whatever is perceived blissfully is beautiful. Bliss is the essence of beauty.
Q: You speak of Sat-Chit-Ananda. That I am is obvious. That I know is obvious. That I am happy is not at all obvious. Where has my happiness gone?
M: Be fully aware of your own being and you will be in bliss consciously. Because you take your mind off yourself and make it dwell on what you are not, you lose your sense of well-being of being well.
Q: There are two paths before us -- the path of effort (yoga marga), and the path of ease (bhoga marga). Both lead to the same goal -- liberation.
M: Why do you call bhoga a path? How can ease bring you perfection?
Q: The perfect renouncer (yogi) will find reality. The perfect enjoyer (bhogi) also will come to it.
M: How can it be? Aren't they contradictory?
Q: The extremes meet. To be a perfect Bhogi is more difficult than to be a perfect Yogi. I am a humble man and cannot venture judgements of value. Both the Yogi and the Bhogi, after all, are concerned with the search for happiness. The Yogi wants it permanent, the Bhogi is satisfied with the intermittent. Often the Bhogi strives harder than the Yogi.
M: What is your happiness worth when you have to strive and labour for it? True happiness is spontaneous and effortless.
Q: All beings seek happiness. The means only differ. Some seek it within and are therefore called Yogis; some seek it without and are condemned as Bhogis. Yet they need each other.
M: Pleasure and pain alternate. Happiness is unshakable. What you can seek and find is not the real thing. Find what you have never lost, find the inalienable.
Questioner: As I can see, the world is a school of Yoga and life itself is Yoga practice. Everybody strives for perfection and what is Yoga but striving. There is nothing contemptible about the so-called 'common' people and their 'common' lives. They strive as hard and suffer as much as the Yogi, only they are not conscious of their true purpose.
Maharaj: In what way are your common people -- Yogis?
Q: Their ultimate goal is the same. What the Yogi secures by renunciation (tyaga) the common man realises through experience (bhoga). The way of Bhoga is unconscious and, therefore, repetitive and protracted, while the way of Yoga is deliberate and intense and, therefore, can be more rapid.
M: Maybe the periods of Yoga and Bhoga alternate. First Bhogi, then Yogi, then again Bhogi, then again Yogi.
Q: What may be the purpose?
M: Weak desires can be removed by introspection and meditation, but strong, deep-rooted ones must be fulfilled and their fruits, sweet or bitter, tasted.
Q: Why then should we pay tribute to Yogis and speak slightingly of Bhogis? All are Yogis, in a way.
M: On the human scale of values deliberate effort is considered praiseworthy. In reality both the Yogi and Bhogi follow their own nature, according to circumstances and opportunities. The Yogi's life is governed by a single desire -- to find the Truth; the Bhogi serves many masters. But the Bhogi becomes a Yogi and the Yogi may get a rounding up in a bout of Bhoga. The final result is the same.
Q: Buddha is reported to have said that it is tremendously important to have heard that there is enlightenment, a complete reversal and transformation in consciousness. The good news is compared to a spark in a shipload of cotton; slowly but relentlessly the whole of it will turn to ashes. Similarly the good news of enlightenment will, sooner or later, bring about a transformation.
M: Yes, first hearing (shravana), then remembering (smarana), pondering (manana) and so on. We are on familiar ground. The man who heard the news becomes a Yogi; while the rest continue in their Bhoga.
Q: But you agree that living a life -- just living the humdrum life of the world, being born to die and dying to be born -- advances man by its sheer volume, just like the river finds its way to the sea by the sheer mass of the water it gathers.
M: Before the world was, consciousness was. In consciousness it comes into being, in consciousness it lasts and into pure consciousness it dissolves. At the root of everything, is the feeling 'I am'. The state of mind: 'there is a world' is secondary, for to be, I do not need the world, the world needs me.
Q: The desire to live is a tremendous thing.
M: Still greater is the freedom from the urge to live.
Q: The freedom of the stone?
M: Yes, the freedom of the stone, and much more besides. Freedom unlimited and conscious.
Q: Is not personality required for gathering experience?
M: As you are now, the personality is only an obstacle. Selfidentification with the body may be good for an infant, but true growing up depends on getting the body out of the way. Normally, one should outgrow body-based desires early in life. Even the Bhogi, who does not refuse enjoyments, need not hanker after the ones he has tasted. Habit, desire for repetition frustrates both the Yogi and the Bhogi.
Q: Why do you keep on dismissing the person (vyakti) as of no importance? Personality is the primary fact of our existence. It occupies the entire stage.
M: As long as you do not see that it is mere habit, built on memory, prompted by desire, you will think yourself to be a person -- living, feeling, thinking, active, passive, pleased or pained. Question yourself, ask yourself. 'Is it so?' 'Who am l'? 'What is behind and beyond all this?' And soon you will see your mistake. And it is in the very nature of a mistake to cease to be, when seen.
Q: The Yoga of living, of life itself, we may call the Natural Yoga (nisarga yoga). It reminds me of the Primal Yoga (adhi yoga), mentioned in the Rig-Veda which was described as the marrying of life with mind.
M: A life lived thoughtfully, in full awareness, is by itself Nisarga Yoga.
Q: What does the marriage of life and mind mean?
M: Living in spontaneous awareness, consciousness of effortless living, being fully interested in one's life -- all this is implied.
Q: Sharada Devi, wife of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, used to scold his disciples for too much effort. She compared them to mangoes on the tree which are being plucked before they are ripe. 'Why hurry?' she used to say. 'Wait till you are fully ripe, mellow and sweet.'
M: How right she was! There are so many who take the dawn for the noon, a momentary experience for full realisation and destroy even the little they gain by excess of pride. Humility and silence are essential for a sadhaka, however advanced. Only a fully ripened jnani can allow himself complete spontaneity.
Q: It seems there are schools of Yoga where the student, after illumination, is obliged to keep silent for 7 or 12 or 15 or even 25 years. Even Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi imposed on himself 20 years of silence before he began to teach.
M: Yes, the inner fruit must ripen. Until then the discipline, the living in awareness, must go on. Gradually the practice becomes more and more subtle, until it becomes altogether formless.
Q: Krishnamurti too speaks of living in awareness.
M: He always aims directly at the 'ultimate'. Yes, ultimately all Yogas end in your adhi yoga, the marriage of consciousness (the bride) to life (the bridegroom). Consciousness and being (sad-chit) meet in bliss (ananda). For bliss to arise there must be meeting, contact, the assertion of unity in duality.
Q: Buddha too has said that for the attainment of nirvana one must go to living beings. Consciousness needs life to grow.
M: The world itself is contact -- the totality of all contacts actualised in consciousness. The spirit touches matter and consciousness results. Such consciousness. when tainted with memory and expectation, becomes bondage. Pure experience does not bind; experience caught between desire and fear is impure and creates karma.
Q: Can there be happiness in unity? Does not all happiness imply necessarily contact, hence duality?
M: There is nothing wrong with duality as long as it does not create conflict. Multiplicity and variety without strife is joy. In pure consciousness there is light. For warmth, contact is needed. Above the unity of being is the union of love. Love is the meaning and purpose of duality.
Q: I am an adopted child. My own father I do not know. My mother died when I was born. My foster father, to please my foster mother, who was childless, adopted me -- almost by accident. He is a simple man -- a truck owner and driver. My mother keeps the house. I am 24 years now. For the last two and a half years I am travelling, restless, seeking. I want to live a good life, a holy life. What am I to do?
M: Go home, take charge of your father's business, look after your parents in their old age. Marry the girl who is waiting for you, be loyal, be simple, be humble. Hide your virtue, live silently. The five senses and the three qualities (gunas) are your eight steps in Yoga. And 'I am' is the Great Reminder (mahamantra). You can learn from them all you need to know. Be attentive, enquire ceaselessly. That is all.
Q: If just living one's life liberates, why are not all liberated?
M: All are being liberated. It is not what you live, but how you live that matters. The idea of enlightenment is of utmost importance. Just to know that there is such possibility, changes one's entire outlook. It acts like a burning match in a heap of saw dust. All the great teachers did nothing else. A spark of truth can burn up a mountain of lies. The opposite is also true; The sun of truth remains hidden behind the cloud of self-identification with the body.
Q: This spreading the good news of enlightenment seems very important.
M: The very hearing of it, is a promise of enlightenment. The very meeting a Guru is the assurance of liberation. Perfection is life-giving and creative.
Q: Does a realised man ever think: 'I am realised?' Is he not astonished when people make much of him? Does he not take himself to be an ordinary human being?
M: Neither ordinary, nor extra-ordinary. Just being aware and affectionate -- intensely. He looks at himself without indulging in self-definitions and self-identifications. He does not know himself as anything apart from the world. He is the world. He is completely rid of himself, like a man who is very rich, but continually gives away his riches. He is not rich, for he has nothing; he is not poor, for he gives abundantly. He is just propertyless. Similarly, the realised man is egoless; he has lost the capacity of identifying himself with anything. He is without location, placeless, beyond space and time, beyond the world. Beyond words and thoughts is he.
Q: Well, it is deep mystery to me. I am a simple man.
M: It is you who are deeply complex, mysterious, hard to understand. I am simplicity itself, compared to you: I am what is -- without any distinction whatsoever into inner and outer, mine and yours, good and bad. What the world is, I am; what I am the world is.
Q: How does it happen that each man creates his own world?
M: When a number of people are asleep, each dreams his own dream. Only on awakening the question of many different dreams arises and dissolves when they are all seen as dreams, as something imagined.
Q: Even dreams have a foundation.
M: In memory. Even then, what is remembered, is but another dream. The memory of the false cannot but give rise to the false. There is nothing wrong with memory as such. What is false is its content. Remember facts, forget opinions.
Q: What is a fact?
M: What is perceived in pure awareness, unaffected by desire.
Questioner: The other day I was asking you about the two ways of growth -- renunciation and enjoyment (yoga and bhoga). The difference is not so great as it looks -- the Yogi renounces to enjoy; the Bhogi enjoys to renounce. The Yogi renounces first.
Maharaj: So what? Leave the Yogi to his Yoga and the Bhogi to Bhoga.
Q: The way of Bhoga seems to me the better one. The Yogi is like a green mango, separated from the tree prematurely and kept to open in a basket of straw. Airless and overheated, it does get ripe, but the true flavour and fragrance are lost. The mango left on the tree grows to full size, colour and sweetness. A joy in every way. Yet somehow Yoga gets all the praises, and Bhoga -- all the curses. As I see it, Bhoga is the better of the two.
M: What makes you say so?
Q: I watched the Yogis and their enormous efforts. Even when they realise, there is something bitter or astringent about it. They seem to spend much of their time in trances and when they speak, they merely voice their scriptures. At their best such jnanis are like flowers -- perfect, but just little flowers, shedding their fragrance within a short radius. There are some others, who are like forests -- rich, varied, immense, full of surprises, a world in themselves. There must be a reason for this difference.
M: Well, you said it. According to you one got stunted in his Yoga, while the other flourished in Bhoga.
Q: Is it not so? The Yogi is afraid of life and seeks peace, while the Bhogi is adventurous, full of spirits, forward going. The Yogi is bound by an ideal, while the Bhogi is ever ready to explore.
M: It is a matter of wanting much or being satisfied with little. The Yogi is ambitious while the Bhogi is merely adventurous. Your Bhogi seems to be richer and more interesting, but it is not so in reality. The Yogi is narrow as the sharp edge of the knife. He has to be -- to cut deep and smoothly, to penetrate unerringly the many layers of the false. The Bhogi worships at many altars; the Yogi serves none but his own true Self.
There is no purpose in opposing the Yogi to the Bhogi. The way of outgoing (pravritti) necessarily precedes the way of returning (nivritti). To sit in judgement and allot marks is ridiculous. Everything contributes to the ultimate perfection. Some say there are three aspects of reality -- Truth-Wisdom-Bliss; He who seeks Truth becomes a Yogi, he who seeks wisdom becomes a jnani; he who seeks happiness becomes the man of action.
Q: We are told of the bliss of non-duality.
M: Such bliss is more of the nature of a great peace. Pleasure and pain are the fruits of actions -- righteous and unrighteous.
Q: What makes the difference?
M: The difference is between giving and grasping. Whatever the way of approach, in the end all becomes one.
Q: If there be no difference in the goal, why discriminate between various approaches?
M: Let each act according to his nature. The ultimate purpose will be served in any case. All your discriminations and classifications are quite all right, but they do not exist in my case. As the description of a dream may be detailed and accurate, though without having any foundation, so does your pattern fit nothing but your own assumptions. You begin with an idea and you end with the same idea under a different garb.
Q: How do you see things?
M: One and all are the same to me. The same consciousness (chit) appears as being (sat) and as bliss (ananda): Chit in movement is Ananda; Chit motionless is being.
Q: Still you are making a distinction between motion and motionlessness.
M: Non-distinction speaks in silence. Words carry distinctions. The unmanifested (nirguna) has no name, all names refer to the manifested (saguna). It is useless to struggle with words to express what is beyond words. Consciousness (chidananda) is spirit (purusha), consciousness is matter (prakriti). Imperfect spirit is matter, perfect matter is spirit. In the beginning as in the end, all is one.
All division is in the mind (chitta); there is none in reality (chit). Movement and rest are states of mind and cannot be without their opposites. By itself nothing moves, nothing rests. It is a grievous mistake to attribute to mental constructs absolute existence. Nothing exists by itself.
Q: You seem to identify rest with the Supreme State?
M: There is rest as a state of mind (chidaram) and there is rest as a state of being (atmaram). The former comes and goes, while the true rest is the very heart of action. Unfortunately, language is a mental tool and works only in opposites.
Q: As a witness, you are working or at rest?
M: Witnessing is an experience and rest is freedom from experience.
Q: Can't they co-exist, as the tumult of the waves and the quiet of the deep co-exist in the ocean.
M: Beyond the mind there is no such thing as experience. Experience is a dual state. You cannot talk of reality as an experience. Once this is understood, you will no longer look for being and becoming as separate and opposite. In reality they are one and inseparable, like roots and branches of the same tree. Both can exist only in the light of consciousness, which again, arises in the wake of the sense 'I am'. This is the primary fact. If you miss it, you miss all.
Q: Is the sense of being a product of experience only? The great saying (Mahavakya) tat-sat is it a mere mode of mentation?
M: Whatever is spoken is speech only. Whatever is thought is thought only. The real meaning is unexplainable, though experienceable. The Mahavakya is true, but your ideas are false, for all ideas (kalpana) are false.
Q: Is the conviction: 'I am That' false?
M: Of course. Conviction is a mental state. In 'That' there is no 'I am'. With the sense 'I am' emerging, 'That' is obscured, as with the sun rising the stars are wiped out. But as with the sun comes light, so with the sense of self comes bliss (chidananda). The cause of bliss is sought in the 'not--I' and thus the bondage begins.
Q: In your daily life are you always conscious of your real state?
M: Neither conscious, nor unconscious. I do not need convictions. I live on courage. Courage is my essence, which is love of life. I am free of memories and anticipations, unconcerned with what I am and what I am not. I am not addicted to selfdescriptions, soham and brahmasmi ('I am He', 'I am the Supreme') are of no use to me, I have the courage to be as nothing and to see the world as it is: nothing. It sounds simple, just try it!
Q: But what gives you courage?
M: How perverted are your views! Need courage be given? Your question implies that anxiety is the normal state and courage is abnormal. It is the other way round. Anxiety and hope are born of imagination -- I am free of both. I am simple being and I need nothing to rest on.
Q: Unless you know yourself, of what use is your being to you? To be happy with what you are, you must know what you are.
M: Being shines as knowing, knowing is warm in love. It is all one. You imagine separations and trouble yourself with questions. Don't concern yourself overmuch with formulations. Pure being cannot be described.
Q: Unless a thing is knowable and enjoyable, it is of no use to me. It must become a part of my experience, first of all.
M: You are dragging down reality to the level of experience. How can reality depend on experience, when it is the very ground (adhar) of experience. Reality is in the very fact of experience, not in its nature. Experience is, after all, a state of mind, while being is definitely not a state of mind.
Q: Again I am confused! Is being separate from knowing?
M: The separation is an appearance. Just as the dream is not apart from the dreamer, so is knowing not apart from being. The dream is the dreamer, the knowledge is the knower, the distinction is merely verbal.
Q: I can see now that sat and chit are one. But what about bliss (ananda)? Being and consciousness are always present together, but bliss flashes only occasionally.
M: The undisturbed state of being is bliss; the disturbed state is what appears as the world. In non-duality there is bliss; in duality -- experience. What comes and goes is experience with its duality of pain and pleasure. Bliss is not to be known. One is always bliss, but never blissful. Bliss is not an attribute.
Q: I have another question to ask: Some Yogis attain their goal, but it is of no use to others. They do not know, or are not able to share. Those who can share out what they have, initiate others. Where lies the difference?
M: There is no difference. Your approach is wrong. There are no others to help. A rich man, when he hands over his entire fortune to his family, has not a coin left to give a beggar. So is the wise man (jnani) stripped of all his powers and possessions. Nothing, literally nothing, can be said about him. He cannot help anybody for he is everybody. He is the poor and also his poverty, the thief and also his thievery. How can he be said to help, when he is not apart? Who thinks of himself as separate from the world, let him help the world.
Q: Still, there is duality, there is sorrow, there is need of help. By denouncing it as mere dream nothing is achieved.
M: The only thing that can help is to wake up from the dream.
Q: An awakener is needed.
M: Who again is in the dream. The awakener signifies the beginning of the end. There are no eternal dreams.
Q: Even when it is beginningless?
M: Everything begins with you. What else is beginningless?
Q: I began at birth.
M: That is what you are told. Is it so? Did you see yourself beginning?
Q: I began just now. All else is memory.
M: Quite right. The beginningless begins forever. In the same way, I give eternally, because I have nothing. To be nothing, to have nothing, to keep nothing for oneself is the greatest gift, the highest generosity.
Q: Is there no self-concern left?
M: Of course I am self-concerned, but the self is all. In practice it takes the shape of goodwill, unfailing and universal. You may call it love, all-pervading, all-redeeming. Such love is supremely active -- without the sense of doing.
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.
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, dreamlike. 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 practise 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.
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 application are needed. The mere fact of willing attracts its object.
M: Whatever name you give it: will, or steady purpose, or onepointedness 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 notliving. 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.
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 wholeheartedly 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.
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?
Commonsense 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. Selfremembrance 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 every thing, 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.
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 a 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 unwisdom. 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: Wow 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 'my self' 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.
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 a 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.
Questioner: On all sides I hear that freedom from desires and inclinations is the first condition of self-realisation. But I find the condition impossible of fulfilment. Ignorance of oneself causes desires and desires perpetuate ignorance. A truly vicious circle!
Maharaj: There are no conditions to fulfil. There is nothing to be done, nothing to be given up. Just look and remember, whatever you perceive is not you, nor yours. It is there in the field of consciousness, but you are not the field and its contents, nor even the knower of the field. It is your idea that you have to do things that entangle you in the results of your efforts -- the motive, the desire, the failure to achieve, the sense of frustration -- all this holds you back. Simply look at whatever happens and know that you are beyond it.
Q: Does it mean I should abstain from doing anything?
M: You cannot! What goes on must go on. If you stop suddenly, you will crash.
Q: Is it a matter of the known and the knower becoming one?
M: Both are ideas in the mind, and words that express them. There is no self in them. The self is neither, between nor beyond. To look for it on the mental level is futile. Stop searching, and see -- it is here and now -- it is that 'I am' you know so well. All you need to do is to cease taking yourself to be within the field of consciousness. Unless you have already considered these matters carefully, listening to me once will not do. Forget your past experiences and achievements, stand naked, exposed to the winds and rains of life and you will have a chance.
Q: Has devotion (bhakti) any place in your teaching?
M: When you are not well, you go to a physician who tells you what is wrong and what is the remedy. If you have confidence in him, it makes things simple: you take the medicine, follow the diet restrictions and get well. But if you do not trust him, you may still take a chance, or you may study medicine yourself! In all cases it is your desire for recovery that moves you, not the physician.
Without trust there is no peace. Somebody or other you always trust -- it may be your mother, or your wife. Of all the people the knower of the self, the liberated man, is the most trust-worthy. But merely to trust is not enough. You must also desire. Without desire for freedom of what use is the confidence that you can acquire freedom? Desire and confidence must go together. The stronger your desire, the easier comes the help. The greatest Guru is helpless as long as the disciple is not eager to learn. Eagerness and earnestness are all-important. Confidence will come with experience. Be devoted to your goal -- and devotion to him who can guide you will follow. If your desire and confidence are strong, they will operate and take you to your goal, for you will not cause delay by hesitation and compromise.
The greatest Guru is your inner self. Truly, he is the supreme teacher. He alone can take you to your goal and he alone meets you at the end of the road. Confide in him and you need no outer Guru. But again you must have the strong desire to find him and do nothing that will create obstacles and delays. And do not waste energy and time on regrets. Learn from your mistakes and do not repeat them.
Q: If you do not mind my asking a personal question...?
M: Yes, go ahead.
Q: I see you sitting on an antelope skin. How does it tally with non-violence?
M: All my working life I was a cigarette-maker, helping people to spoil their health. And in front of my door the municipality has put up a public lavatory, spoiling my health. In this violent world how can one keep away from violence of some kind or other?
Q: Surely all avoidable violence should be avoided. And yet in India every holy man has his tiger, lion, leopard or antelope skin to sit on.
M: Maybe because no plastics were available in ancient times and a skin was best to keep the damp away. Rheumatism has no charm, even for a saint! Thus the tradition arose that for lengthy meditations a skin is needed. Just like the drum-hide in a temple, so is the antelope skin of a Yogi. We hardly notice it.
Q: But the animal had to be killed.
M: I have never heard of a Yogi killing a tiger for his hide. The killers are not Yogis and the Yogis are not killers.
Q: Should you not express your disapproval by refusing to sit on a skin?
M: What an idea! I disapprove of the entire universe, why only a skin?
Q: What is wrong with the universe?
M: Forgetting your Self is the greatest injury; all the calamities flow from it. Take care of the most important, the lesser will take care of itself. You do not tidy up a dark room. You open the windows first. Letting in the light makes everything easy. So, let us wait with improving others until we have seen ourselves as we are -- and have changed. There is no need to turn round and round in endless questioning; find yourself and everything will fall into its proper place.
Q: The urge to return to the source is very rare. Is it at all natural?
M: Outgoing is natural in the beginning, ingoing -- in the end. But in reality the two are one, just like breathing in and out are one.
Q: In the same way are not the body and the dweller in the body one?
M: Events in time and space -- birth and death, cause and effect -- these may be taken as one; but the body and the embodied are not of the same order of reality. The body exists in time and space, transient and limited, while the dweller is timeless and spaceless, eternal and all-pervading. To identify the two is a grievous mistake and the cause of endless suffering. You can speak of the mind and body as one, but the body-mind is not the underlying reality.
Q: Whoever he may be, the dweller is in control of the body and, therefore, responsible for it.
M: There is a universal power which is in control and is responsible.
Q: And so, I can do as I like and put the blame on some universal power? How easy!
M: Yes, very easy. Just realise the One Mover behind all that moves and leave all to Him. If you do not hesitate, or cheat, this is the shortest way to reality. Stand without desire and fear, relinquishing all control and all responsibility.
Q: What madness!
M: Yes, divine madness. What is wrong in letting go the illusion of personal control and personal responsibility? Both are in the mind only. Of course, as long as you imagine yourself to be in control, you should also imagine yourself to be responsible. One implies the other.
Q: How can the universal be responsible for the particular?
M: All life on earth depends on the sun. Yet you cannot blame the sun for all that happens, though it is the ultimate cause. Light causes the colour of the flower, but it neither controls, nor is responsible for it directly. It makes it possible, that is all.
Q: What I do not like in all this is taking refuge in some universal power.
M: You cannot quarrel with facts.
Q: Whose facts? Yours or mine?
M: Yours. You cannot deny my facts, for you do not know them. Could you know them, you would not deny them. Here lies the trouble. You take your imagining for facts and my facts for imagination. I know for certain that all is one. Differences do not separate. Either you are responsible for nothing, or for everything. To imagine that you are in control and responsible for one body only is the aberration of the body-mind.
Q: Still, you are limited by your body.
M: Only in matters pertaining to the body. This I do not mind. It is like enduring the seasons of the year. They come, they go -- they hardly affect me. In the same way body-minds come and go -- life is forever in search of new expressions.
Q: As long as you do not put all the burden of evil on God, I am satisfied. There may be a God for all I know, but to me he is a concept projected by the human mind. He may be a reality to you, but to me society is more real than God, for I am both its creature and its prisoner. Your values are wisdom and compassion; society's sagacious selfishness. I live in a world quite different from yours.
M: None compels.
Q: None compels you, but I am compelled. My world is an evil world, full of tears, toil and pain. To explain it away by the intellectualising, by putting forth theories of evolution and karma is merely adding insult to injury. The God of an evil world is a cruel God.
M: You are the god of your world and you are both stupid and cruel. Let God be a concept -- your own creation. Find out who you are, how did you come to live, longing for truth, goodness and beauty in a world full of evil. Of what use is your arguing for or against God. when you just do not know who is God and what are you talking about. The God born of fear and hope, shaped by desire and imagination, cannot be the Power That is, the Mind and the Heart of the universe.
Q: I agree that the world I live in and the God I believe in are both creatures of imagination. But in what way are they created by desire? Why do I imagine a world so painful and a God so indifferent? What is wrong with me that I should torture myself so cruelly? The enlightened man comes and tells me: 'it is but a dream to put an end to', but is he not himself a part of the dream? I find myself trapped and see no way out. You say you are free. Of what are you free? For heaven's sake, don't feed me on words, enlighten me, help me to wake up, since it is you who sees me tossing in my sleep.
M: When I say I am free, I merely state a fact. If you are an adult, you are free from infancy. I am free from all description and identification. Whatever you may hear, see, or think of, I am not that. I am free from being a percept, or a concept.
Q: Still, you have a body and you depend on it.
M: Again you assume that your point of view is the only correct one. I repeat: I was not, am not, shall not be a body. To me this is a fact. I too was under the illusion of having been born, but my Guru made me see that birth and death are mere ideas -- birth is merely the idea: 'I have a body'. And death -- 'I have lost my body'. Now, when I know I am not a body, the body may be there or may not -- what difference does it make? The bodymind is like a room. It is there, but I need not live in it all the time.
Q: Yet, there is a body and you do take care of it.
M: The power that created the body takes care of it.
Q: We are jumping from level to level all the time.
M: There are two levels to consider -- the physical -- of facts, and mental -- of ideas. I am beyond both. Neither your facts, nor ideas are mine. What I see is beyond. Cross over to my side and see with me.
Q: What I want to say is very simple. As long as I believe: 'I am the body', I must not say: 'God will look after my body'. God will not. He will let it starve, sicken and die.
M: What else do you expect from a mere body? Why are you so anxious about it?
Because you think you are the body, you want it indestructible. You can extend its life considerably by appropriate practices, but for what ultimate good?
Q: It is better to live long and healthy. It gives us a chance to avoid the mistakes of childhood and youth, the frustrations of adulthood, the miseries and imbecility of old age.
M: By all means live long. But you are not the master. Can you decide the days of your birth and death? We are not speaking the same language. Yours is a make-believe talk, all hangs on suppositions and assumptions. You speak with assurance about things you are not sure of.
Q: Therefore, I am here.
M: You are not yet here. I am here. Come in! But you don't. You want me to live your life, feel your way, use your language. I cannot, and it will not help you. You must come to me. Words are of the mind and the mind obscures and distorts. Hence the absolute need to go beyond words and move over to my side.
Q: Take me over.
M: I am doing it, but you resist. You give reality to concepts, while concepts are distortions of reality. Abandon all conceptualisation and stay silent and attentive. Be earnest about it and all will be well with you.
Questioner: A thousand years ago a man lived and died. His identity (antahkarana) re-appeared in a new body. Why does he not remember his previous life? And if he does, can the memory be brought into the conscious?
Maharaj: How do you know that the same person re-appeared in the new body? A new body may mean a new person altogether.
Q: Imagine a pot of ghee. (Indian clarified butter). When the pot breaks, the Ghee remains and can be transferred to another pot. The old pot had its own scent, the new -- its own. The Ghee will carry the scents from pot to pot. In the same way the personal identity is transferred from body to body.
M: It is all right. When there is the body, its peculiarities affect the person. Without the body we have the pure identity in the sense of 'I am'. But when you are reborn in a new body, where is the world formerly experienced?
Q: Every body experiences its own world.
M: In the present body the old body -- is it merely an idea, or is it a memory?
Q: An idea, of course. How can a brain remember what it has not experienced?
M: You have answered your own question. Why play with ideas? Be content with what you are sure of. And the only thing you can be sure of is 'I am'. Stay with it, and reject everything else. This is Yoga.
Q: I can reject only verbally. At best I remember to repeat the formula: 'This is not me, this is not mine. I am beyond all this'.
M: Good enough. First verbally, then mentally and emotionally, then in action. Give attention to the reality within you and it will come to light. It is like churning the cream for butter. Do it correctly and assiduously and the result is sure to come.
Q: How can the absolute be the result of a process?
M: You are right, the relative cannot result in the absolute. But the relative can block the absolute, just as the non-churning of the cream may prevent the butter from separating. It is the real that creates the urge; the inner prompts the outer and the outer responds in interest and effort. But ultimately there is no inner, nor outer; the light of consciousness is both the creator and the creature, the experiencer and the experience, the body and the embodied. Take care of the power that projects all this and your problems will come to an end.
Q: Which is the projecting power?
M: It is imagination prompted by desire.
Q: I know all this, but have no power over it.
M: This is another illusion of yours, born from craving for results.
Q: What is wrong with purposeful action?
M: It does not apply. In these matters there is no question of purpose, nor of action. All you need is to listen, remember, ponder. It is like taking food. All you can do is to bite off, chew and swallow. All else is unconscious and automatic. Listen, remember and understand -- the mind is both the actor and the stage. All is of the mind and you are not the mind. The mind is born and reborn, not you. The mind creates the world and all the wonderful variety of it. Just like in a good play you have all sorts of characters and situations, so you need a little of everything to make a world.
Q: Nobody suffers in a play.
M: Unless one identifies himself with it. Don't identify yourself with the world and you will not suffer.
Q: Others will.
M: Then make your world perfect, by all means. If you believe in God, work with Him. It you do not, become one. Either see the world as a play or work at it with all your might. Or both.
Q: What about the identify of the dying man? What happens to it when he is dead? Do you agree that it continues in another body.
M: It continues and yet it does not. All depends how you look at it. What is identity, after all? Continuity in memory? Can you talk of identity without memory?
Q: Yes, I can. The child may not know its parents, yet the hereditary characteristics will be there.
M: Who identifies them? Somebody with a memory to register and compare. Don't you see that memory is the warp of your mental life. And identity is merely a pattern of events in time and space. Change the pattern and you have changed the man.
Q: The pattern is significant and important. It has its own value. By saying that a woven design is merely coloured threads you miss the most important -- the beauty of it. Or by describing a book as paper with ink stains on it, you miss the meaning. Identity is valuable because it is the basis of individuality; that which makes us unique and irreplaceable. 'I am', is the intuition of uniqueness.
M: Yes and no. Identity, individuality, uniqueness -- they are the most valuable aspects of the mind, yet of the mind only. 'I am all there is' too is an experience equally valid. The particular and the universal are inseparable. They are the two aspects of the nameless, as seen from without and from within. Unfortunately, words only mention, but don't convey. Try to go beyond the words.
Q: What dies with death?
M: The idea 'I am this body' dies; the witness does not.
Q: The Jains believe in a multiplicity of witnesses, forever separate.
M: That is their tradition based on the experience of some great people. The one witness reflects itself in the countless bodies as 'I am'. As long as the bodies, however subtle, last, the 'I am' appears as many. Beyond the body there is only the One.
M: The Creator is a person whose body is the world. The Nameless one is beyond all gods.
Q: Sri Ramana Maharshi died. What difference did it make to him?
M: None. What he was, he is -- the Absolute Reality.
Q: But to the common man death makes a difference.
M: What he thinks himself to be before death he continues to be after death. His self-image survives.
Q: The other day there was a talk about the use by the jnani of animal skins for meditation etc. I was not convinced. It is easy to justify everything by referring to custom and tradition. Customs may be cruel and tradition corrupt. They explain, but do not justify.
M: I never meant to say that lawlessness follows self-realisation. A liberated man is extremely law-abiding. But his laws are the laws of his real self, not of his society. These he observes, or breaks according to circumstances and necessity. But he will never be fanciful and disorderly.
Q: What I cannot accept is justification by custom and habit.
M: The difficulty lies in our differing points of view. You speak from the body-mind's. Mine is of the witness. The difference is basic.
Q: Still, cruelty is cruelty
M: None compels you to be cruel.
Q: Taking advantage of other people's cruelty is cruelty by proxy.
M: If you look into living process closely, you will find cruelty everywhere, for life feeds on life. This is a fact, but it does not make you feel guilty of being alive. You began a life of cruelty by giving your mother endless trouble. To the last day of your life you will compete for food, clothing, shelter, holding on to your body, fighting for its needs, wanting it to be secure, in a world of insecurity and death. From the animal's point of view being killed is not the worst form of dying; surely preferable to sickness and senile decay. The cruelty lies in the motive, not in the fact. Killing hurts the killer, not the killed.
Q: Agreed; then one must not accept the services of hunters and butchers.
M: Who wants you to accept?
Q: You accept.
M: That is how you see me! How quickly you accuse, condemn, sentence and execute! Why begin with me and not with yourself?
Q: A man like you should set an example.
M: Are you ready to follow my example? I am dead to the world, I want nothing, not even to live. Be as I am, do as I do. You are judging me by my clothes and food; while I only look at your motives; if you believe to be the body and the mind and act on it you are guilty of the greatest cruelty -- cruelty to your own real being. Compared to it all other cruelties do not count.
Q; You are taking refuge in the claim that you are not the body. But you are in control of the body and responsible for all it does. To allow the body full autonomy would be imbecility, madness!
M: Cool down. I am also against all killing of animals for flesh or fur, but I refuse to give it first place. Vegetarianism is a worthy cause, but not the most urgent; all causes are served best by the man who has returned to his source.
Q: When I was at Sri Ramanashram, I felt Bhagwan all over the place, all-pervading, all-perceiving.
M: You had the necessary faith. Those who have true faith in him will see him everywhere and at all times. All happens according to your faith and your faith is the shape of your desire.
Q: The faith you have in yourself, is not that too a shape of a desire?
M: When I say: 'I am', I do not mean a separate entity with a body as its nucleus. I mean the totality of being, the ocean of consciousness, the entire universe of all that is and knows. I have nothing to desire for I am complete forever.
Q: Can you touch the inner life of other people?
M: I am the people.
Q: I do not mean identity of essence or substance, nor similarity of form. I mean the actual entering into the minds and hearts of others and participating in their personal experiences. Can you suffer and rejoice with me, or you only infer what I feel from observation and analogy?
M: All beings are in me. But bringing down into the brain the content of another brain requires special training. There is nothing that cannot be achieved by training.
Q: I am not your projection, nor are you mine. I am on my own right, not merely as your creation. This crude philosophy of imagination and projection does not appeal to me. You are depriving me of all reality. Who is the image of whom? You are my image or am I yours. Or am I an image in my own image! No, something is wrong somewhere.
M: Words betray their hollowness. The real cannot be described, it must be experienced. I cannot find better words for what I am now. What I say may sound ridiculous. But what the words try to convey is the highest truth. All is one, however much we quibble. And all is done to please the one source and goal of every desire. whom we all know as the 'I am'.
Q: It is pain that is at the root of desire. The basic urge is to escape from pain.
M: What is the root of pain? Ignorance of yourself. What is the root of desire? The urge to find yourself. All creation toils for its self and will not rest until it returns to it.
Q: When will it return?
M: It can return whenever you want it.
Q: And the world?
M: You can take it with you.
Q: Must I wait with helping the world until I reach perfection?
M: By all means help the world. You will not help much, but the effort will make you grow. There is nothing wrong in trying to help the world.
Q: Surely there were people, common people, who helped greatly.
M: When the time comes for the world to be helped, some people are given the will, the wisdom and the power to cause great changes.
Maharaj: You must realise first of all that you are the proof of everything, including yourself. None can prove your existence, because his existence must be confirmed by you first. Your being and knowing you owe nobody. Remember, you are entirely on your own. You do not come from somewhere, you do not go anywhere. You are timeless being and awareness.
Questioner: There is a basic difference between us. You know the real while I know only the workings of my mind. Therefore what you say is one thing, what I hear is another. What you say is true; what I understand is false, though the words are the same. There is a gap between us. How to close the gap?
M: Give up the idea of being what you think yourself to be and there will be no gap. By imagining yourself as separate you have created the gap. You need not cross it. Just don't create it. All is you and yours. There is nobody else. This is a fact.
Q: How strange! The very same words which to you are true, to me are false. 'There is nobody else'. How obviously untrue!
M: Let them be true or untrue. Words don't matter. What matters is the idea you have of yourself, for it blocks you. Give it up.
Q: From early childhood I was taught to think that I am limited to my name and shape. A mere statement to the contrary will not erase the mental groove. A regular brain-washing is needed -- if at all it can be done.
M: You call it brain-washing, I call it Yoga -- levelling up all the mental ruts. You must not be compelled to think the same thoughts again and again. Move on!
Q: Easier said than done.
M: Don't be childish! Easier to change, than to suffer. Grow out of your childishness, that is all.
Q: Such things are not done. They happen.
M: Everything happens all the time, but you must be ready for it. Readiness is ripeness. You do not see the real because your mind is not ready for it.
Q: If reality is my real nature, how can I ever be unready?
M: Unready means afraid. You are afraid of what you are. Your destination is the whole. But you are afraid that you will lose your identity. This is childishness, clinging to the toys, to your desires and fears, opinions and ideas. Give it all up and be ready for the real to assert itself. This self-assertion is best expressed in words: 'I am'. Nothing else has being. Of this you are absolutely certain
Q: 'I am', of course, but 'I know' also. And I know that I am so and so, the owner of the body, in manifold relations with other owners.
M: It is all memory carried over into the now.
Q: I can be certain only of what is now. Past and future, memory and imagination, these are mental states, but they are all I know and they are now. You are telling me to abandon them. How does one abandon the now?
M: You are moving into the future all the time whether you like it or not.
Q: I am moving from now into now -- I do not move at all. Everything else moves -- not me.
M: Granted. But your mind does move. In the now you are both the movable and the immovable. So far you took yourself to be the movable and overlooked the immovable. Turn your mind inside out. Overlook the movable and you will find yourself to be the ever-present, changeless reality, inexpressible, but solid like a rock.
Q: If it is now, why am I not aware of it?
M: Because you hold on to the idea that you are not aware of it. Let go the idea.
Q: It does not make me aware.
M: Wait. You want to be on both sides of the wall at the same time. You can, but you must remove the wall. Or realise that the wall and both sides of it are one single space, to which no idea like 'here' or 'there' applies.
Q: Similes prove nothing. My only complaint is this: why do I not see what you see, why your words do not sound true in my mind. Let me know this much; all else can wait. You are wise and I am stupid; you see, I don't. Where and how shall I find my wisdom?
M: If you know yourself to be stupid, you are not stupid at all!
Q: Just as knowing myself sick does not make me well, so knowing myself foolish can not make me wise.
M: To know that you are ill must you not be well initially?
Q: Oh, no. I know by comparison. If I am blind from birth and you tell me that you know things without touching them, while I must touch to know, I am aware that I am blind without knowing what does it mean to see. Similarly, I know that I am lacking something when you assert things which I cannot grasp. You are telling me such wonderful things about myself; according to you I am eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, supremely happy, creator, preserver and destroyer of all there is, the source of all life, the heart of being, the lord and the beloved of every creature. You equate me with the Ultimate Reality, the source and the goal of all existence. I just blink, for I know myself to be a tiny little bundle of desires and fears, a bubble of suffering, a transient flash of consciousness in an ocean of darkness.
M: Before pain was, you were. After pain had gone, you remained. Pain is transient, you are not.
Q: I am sorry, but I do not see what you see. From the day I was born till the day I die, pain and pleasure will weave the pattern of my life. Of being before birth and after death I know nothing. I neither accept nor deny you. I hear what you say, but I do not know it.
M: Now you are conscious, are you not?
Q: Please do not ask me about before and after. I just know only what is now.
M: Good enough. You are conscious. Hold on to it. There are states when you are not conscious. Call it unconscious being.
Q: Being unconscious?
M: Consciousness and unconsciousness do not apply here. Existence is in consciousness, essence is independent of consciousness.
Q: It is void? Is it silence?
M: Why elaborate? Being pervades and transcends consciousness. Objective consciousness is a part of pure consciousness, not beyond it.
Q: How do you come to know a state of pure being which is neither conscious nor unconscious? All knowledge is in consciousness only. There may be such a state as the abeyance of the mind. Does consciousness then appear as the witness?
M: The witness only registers events. In the abeyance of the mind even the sense 'I am' dissolves. There is no 'I am' without the mind.
Q: Without the mind means without thoughts. 'I am' as a thought subsides. 'I am' as the sense of being remains.
M: All experience subsides with the mind. Without the mind there can be no experiencer nor experience.
Q: Does not the witness remain?
M: The witness merely registers the presence or absence of experience. It is not an experience by itself, but it becomes an experience when the thought: 'I am the witness' arises.
Q: All I know is that sometimes the mind works and sometimes it stops. The experience of mental silence I call the abeyance of the mind.
M: Call it silence, or void, or abeyance, the fact is that the three -- experiencer, experiencing, experience -- are not. In witnessing, in awareness, self-consciousness, the sense of being this or that, is not. Unidentified being remains.
Q: As a state of unconsciousness?
M: With reference to anything, it is the opposite. It is also between and beyond all opposites. It is neither consciousness nor unconsciousness, nor midway, nor beyond the two. It is by itself, not with reference to anything which may be called experience or its absence.
Q: How strange! You speak of it as if it were an experience.
M: When I think of it -- it becomes an experience.
Q: Like the invisible light, intercepted by a flower, becoming colour?
M: Yes, you may say so. It is in the colour but not the colour.
Q: The same old four-fold negation of Nagarjuna: neither this nor that, nor both, nor either. My mind reels!
M: Your difficulty stems from the idea that reality is a state of consciousness, one among many. You tend to say: "This is real. That is not real. And this is partly real, partly unreal", as if reality were an attribute or quality to have in varying measures.
Q: Let me put it differently. After all, consciousness becomes a problem only when it is painful. An ever-blissful state does not give rise to questions. We find all consciousness to be a mixture of the pleasant and the painful. Why?
M: All consciousness is limited and therefore painful. At the root of consciousness lies desire, the urge to experience.
Q: Do you mean to say that without desire there can be no consciousness? And what is the advantage of being unconscious? If I have to forego pleasure for the freedom from pain, I better keep both.
M: Beyond pain and pleasure there is bliss.
Q: Unconscious bliss, of what use is it?
M: Neither conscious nor unconscious. Real.
Q: What is your objection to consciousness?
M: It is a burden. Body means burden. Sensations, desires, thoughts -- these are all burdens. All consciousness is of conflict.
Q: Reality is described as true being, pure consciousness, infinite bliss. What has pain to do with it?
M: Pain and pleasure happen, but pain is the price of pleasure, pleasure is the reward of pain. In life too you often please by hurting and hurt by pleasing. To know that pain and pleasure are one is peace.
Q: All this is very interesting, no doubt, but my goal is more simple. I want more pleasure and less pain in life. What am I to do?
M: As long as there is consciousness, there must be pleasure and pain. It is in the nature of the 'I am', of consciousness, to identify itself with the opposites.
Q: Then of what use is all this to me? It does not satisfy.
M: Who are you, who is unsatisfied?
Q: I am, the pain-pleasure man.
M: Pain and pleasure are both ananda (bliss). Here I am sitting in front of you and telling you -- from my own immediate and unchanging experience -- pain and pleasure are the crests and valleys of the waves in the ocean of bliss. Deep down there is utter fullness.
Q: Is your experience constant?
M: It is timeless and changeless.
Q: All I know is desire for pleasure and fear of pain.
M: That is what you think about yourself. Stop it. If you cannot break a habit all at once, consider the familiar way of thinking and see its falseness. Questioning the habitual is the duty of the mind. What the mind created, the mind must destroy. Or realise that there is no desire outside the mind and stay out.
Q: Honestly, I distrust this explaining everything as mind-made. The mind is only an instrument, as the eye is an instrument. Can you say that perception is creation? I see the world through the window, not in the window. All you say holds well together because of the common foundation, but I do not know whether your foundation is in reality, or only in the mind. I can have only a mental picture of it. What it means to you I do not know.
M: As long as you take your stand in the mind, you will see me in the mind.
Q: How inadequate are words for understanding!
M: Without words, what is there to understand? The need for understanding arises from mis-understanding. What I say is true, but to you it is only a theory. How will you come to know that it is true? Listen, remember, ponder, visualise, experience. Also apply it in your daily life. Have patience with me and, above all have patience with yourself, for you are your only obstacle. The way leads through yourself beyond yourself. As long as you believe only the particular to be real, conscious and happy and reject the non-dual reality as something imagined, an abstract concept, you will find me doling out concepts and abstractions. But once you have touched the real within your own being, you will find me describing what for you is the nearest and the dearest.
Questioner: The Westerners who occasionally come to see you are faced with a peculiar difficulty. The very notion of a liberated man, a realised man, a self-knower, a God-knower, a man beyond the world, is unknown to them. All they have in their Christian culture is the idea of a saint: a pious man, law-abiding, God-fearing, fellow-loving, prayerful, sometimes prone to ecstasies and confirmed by a few miracles. The very idea of a jnani is foreign to Western culture, something exotic and rather unbelievable. Even when his existence is accepted, he is looked at with suspicion, as a case of self-induced euphoria caused by strange physical postures and mental attitudes. The very idea of a new dimension in consciousness seems to them implausible and improbable.
What will help them is the opportunity of hearing a jnani relate his own experience of realisation, its causes and beginnings, its progress and attainments and its actual practice in daily life. Much of what he says may remain strange, even meaningless, yet there will remain a feeling of reality, an atmosphere of actual experiencing, ineffable, yet very real, a centre from which an exemplary life can be lived.
Maharaj: The experience may be incommunicable. Can one communicate an experience?
Q: Yes, if one is an artist. The essence of art is communication of feeling, of experience.
M: To receive communication, you must be receptive.
Q: Of course. There must be a receiver. But if the transmitter does not transmit, of what use is the receiver?
M: The jnani belongs to all. He gives himself tirelessly and completely to whoever comes to him. If he is not a giver, he is not a jnani. Whatever he has, he shares.
Q: But can he share what he is?
M: You mean, can he make others into jnanis? Yes and no. No, since jnanis are not made, they realise themselves as such, when they return to their source, their real nature. I cannot make you into what you already are. All I can tell you is the way I travelled and invite you to take it.
Q: This does not answer my question. I have in mind the critical and sceptical Westerner who denies the very possibility of higher states of consciousness. Recently drugs have made a breach in his disbelief, without affecting his materialistic outlook. Drugs or no drugs, the body remains the primary fact and the mind is secondary. Beyond the mind, they see nothing. From Buddha onwards the state of self-realisation was described in negative terms, as 'not this, not that'. Is it inevitable? Is it not possible to illustrate it, if not describe. I admit, no verbal description will do, when the state described is beyond words. Yet it is also within words. Poetry is the art of putting into words the inexpressible.
M: There is no lack of religious poets. Turn to them for what you want. As far as I am concerned, my teaching is simple: trust me for a while and do what I tell you. If you persevere, you will find that your trust was justified.
Q: And what to do with people who are interested, but cannot trust?
M: If they could stay with me, they would come to trust me. Once they trust me, they will follow my advice and discover for themselves.
Q: It is not for the training that I am asking just now, but for its results. You had both. You are willing to tell us all about the training, but when it comes to results, you refuse to share. Either you tell us that your state is beyond words, or that there is no difference; that where we see a difference, you see none. In both cases we are left without any insight into your state.
M: How can you have insight into my state when you are without insight into your own? When the very instrument of insight is lacking, is it not important to find it first? It is like a blind man wanting to learn painting before he regains his eyesight. You want to know my state -- but do you know the state of your wife or servant?
Q: I am asking for some hints only.
M: Well, I gave you a very significant clue -- where you see differences, I don't. To me it is enough. If you think it is not enough, I can only repeat; it is enough. Think it out deeply and you will come to see what I see. You seem to want instant insight, forgetting that the instant is always preceded by a long preparation. The fruit falls suddenly, but the ripening takes time. After all, when I talk of trusting me, it is only for a short time, just enough time to start you moving. The more earnest you are, the less belief you need, for soon you will find your faith in me justified. You want me to prove to you that I am trustworthy! How can I and why should l? After all, what I am offering you is the operational approach, so current in Western science. When a scientist describes an experiment and its results, usually you accept his statements on trust and repeat his experiment as he describes it. Once you get the same or similar results, you need not trust him any more; you trust your own experience. Encouraged, you proceed and arrive in the end at substantially identical results.
Q: The Indian mind was made ready for metaphysical experiments by culture and nurture. To the Indian words like 'direct perception of the Supreme Reality' make sense and bring out responses from the very depths of his being. They mean little to a Westerner; even when brought up in his own variety of Christianity, he does not think beyond conformity with God's commandments and Christ's injunctions. First-hand knowledge of reality is not only beyond ambition, but also beyond conceiving. Some Indians tell me: 'Hopeless. The Westerner will not, for he cannot. Tell him nothing about self-realisation; let him live a useful life and earn a rebirth in India. Then only will he have a chance'. Some say: 'Reality is for all equally, but not all are equally endowed with the capacity to grasp it. The capacity will come with desire, which will grow into devotion and ultimately into total self-dedication. With integrity and earnestness and iron determination to overcome all obstacles, the Westerner has the same chance as the Oriental man. All he needs is the rousing of interest'. To rouse his interest in self-knowledge he needs to be convinced about its advantages.
M: You believe it is possible to transmit a personal experience?
Q: I do not know. You speak of unity, identity of the seer with the seen. When all is one, communication should be feasible.
M: To have the direct experience of a country one must go and live there. Don't ask for the impossible. A man's spiritual victory no doubt benefits mankind, but to benefit another individual, a close personal relation is required. Such relation is not accidental and not everybody can claim it. On the other hand, the scientific approach is for all. 'Trust-test-taste'. What more do you need? Why push the Truth down unwilling throats? It cannot be done, anyhow. Without a receiver what can the giver do?
Q: The essence of art is to use the outer form to convey an inner experience. Of course, one must be sensitive to the inner, before the outer can be meaningful. How does one grow in sensitivity?
M: Whichever way you put it, it comes to the same. Givers there are many; where are the takers?
Q: Can you not share your own sensitivity?
M: Yes, I can, but sharing is a two-way street. Two are needed in sharing. Who is willing to take what I am willing to give?
Q: You say we are one. Is this not enough?
M: I am one with you. Are you one with me? If you are, you will not ask questions. If you are not, if you do not see what I see, what can I do beyond showing you the way to improve your vision?
Q: What you cannot give is not your own.
M: I claim nothing as my own. When the 'I' is not, where is the 'mine'?. Two people look at a tree. One sees the fruit hidden among the leaves and the other does not. Otherwise there is no difference between the two. The one that sees knows that with a little attention the other will also see, but the question of sharing does not arise. Believe me, I am not close-fisted, holding back your share of reality. On the contrary, I am all yours, eat me and drink me. But while you repeat verbally: 'give, give', you do nothing to take what is offered. I am showing you a short and easy way to being able to see what I see, but you cling to your old habits of thought, feeling and action and put all the blame on me. I have nothing which you do not have. Self-knowledge is not a piece of property to be offered and accepted. It is a new dimension altogether, where there is nothing to give or take.
Q: Give us at least some insight into the content of your mind while you live your daily life. To eat, to drink, to talk, to sleep -- how does it feel at your end?
M: The common things of life: I experience them just as you do. The difference lies in what I do not experience. I do not experience fear or greed, hate or anger. I ask nothing, refuse nothing, keep nothing. In these matters I do not compromise. Maybe this is the outstanding difference between us. I will not compromise, I am true to myself, while you are afraid of reality.
Q: From the Westerner's point of view there is something disturbing in your ways. To sit in a corner all by oneself and keep on repeating: 'I am God, God I am', appears to be plain madness. How to convince a Westerner that such practices lead to supreme sanity?
M: The man who claims to be God and the man who doubts it -- both are deluded. They talk in their dream.
Q: If all is dreaming, what is waking?
M: How to describe the waking state in dreamland language? Words do not describe, they are only symbols.
Q: Again the same excuse that words cannot convey reality.
M: If you want words, I shall give you some of the ancient words of power. Repeat any of them ceaselessly; they can work wonders.
Q: Are you serious? Would you tell a Westerner to repeat 'Om' or 'Ram' or 'Hare Krishna' ceaselessly, though he lacks completely the faith and conviction born of the right cultural and religious background. Without confidence and fervour, repeating mechanically the same sounds, will he ever achieve anything?
M: Why not? It is the urge, the hidden motive that matters, not the shape it takes. Whatever he does, if he does it for the sake of finding his own real self, will surely bring him to himself.
Q: No need of faith in the efficacy of the means?
M: No need of faith which is but expectation of results. Here the action only counts. Whatever you do for the sake of truth, will take you to truth. Only be earnest and honest. The shape it takes hardly matters.
Q: Then where is the need of giving expression to one's longing?
M: No need. Doing nothing is as good. Mere longing, undiluted by thought and action, pure, concentrated longing, will take you speedily to your goal. It is the true motive that matters, not the manner.
Q: Unbelievable! How can dull repetition in boredom verging on despair, be effective?
M: The very facts of repetition, of struggling on and on and of endurance and perseverance, in spite of boredom and despair and complete lack of conviction are really crucial. They are not important by themselves, but the sincerity behind them is all-important. There must be a push from within and pull from without.
Q: My questions are typical of the West. There people think in terms of cause and effect, means and goals. They do not see what causal connection can there be between a particular word and the Absolute Reality.
M: None whatsoever. But there is a connection between the word and its meaning, between the action and its motive. Spiritual practice is will asserted and re-asserted. Who has not the daring will not accept the real even when offered. Unwillingness born out of fear is the only obstacle.
Q: What is there to be afraid of?
M: The unknown. The not-being, not-knowing, not-doing. The beyond.
Q: You mean to say that while you can share the manner of your achievement, you cannot share the fruits?
M: Of course I can share the fruits and I am doing so all the time. But mine is a silent language. Learn to listen and understand.
Q: I do not see how one can begin without conviction.
M: Stay with me for some time, or give your mind to what I say and do and conviction will dawn.
Q: Not everybody has the chance of meeting you.
M: Meet your own self. Be with your own self, listen to it, obey it, cherish it, keep it in mind ceaselessly. You need no other guide. As long as your urge for truth affects your daily life, all is well with you. Live your life without hurting anybody. Harmlessness is a most powerful form of Yoga and it will take you speedily to your goal. This is what I call nisarga yoga, the Natural yoga. It is the art of living in peace and harmony, in friendliness and love. The fruit of it is happiness, uncaused and endless.
Q: Still, all this presupposes some faith.
M: Turn within and you will come to trust yourself. In everything else confidence comes with experience.
Q: When a man tells me that he knows something I do not know, I have the right to ask: 'what is if that you know, that I do not know?'
M: And if he tells you that it cannot be conveyed in words?
Q: Then I watch him closely and try to make out.
M: And this is exactly what I want you to do! Be interested, give attention, until a current of mutual understanding is established. Then the sharing will be easy. As a matter of fact, all realisation is only sharing. You enter a wider consciousness and share in it. Unwillingness to enter and to share is the only hindrance. I never talk of differences, for to me there are none. You do, so it is up to you to show them to me. By all means, show me the differences. For this you will have to understand me, but then you will no longer talk of differences. Understand one thing well, and you have arrived. What prevents you from knowing is not the lack of opportunity, but the lack of ability to focus in your mind what you want to understand. If you could but keep in mind what you do not know, it would reveal to you its secrets. But if you are shallow and impatient, not earnest enough to look and wait, you are like a child crying for the moon.
Questioner: As I listen to you I find that it is useless to ask you questions. Whatever the question, you invariably turn it upon itself and bring me to the basic fact that I am living in an illusion of my own making and that reality is inexpressible in words. Words merely add to the confusion and the only wise course is the silent search within.
Maharaj: After all, it is the mind that creates illusion and it is the mind that gets free of it. Words may aggravate illusion, words may also help dispel it. There is nothing wrong in repeating the same truth again and again until it becomes reality. Mother's work is not over with the birth of the child. She feeds it day after day, year after year until it needs her no longer. People need hearing words, until facts speak to them louder than words.
Q: So we are children to be fed on words?
M: As long as you give importance to words, you are children.
Q: All right, then be our mother.
M: Where was the child before it was born? Was it not with the mother? Because it was already with the mother it could be born.
Q: Surely, the mother did not carry the child when she was a child herself.
M: Potentially, she was the mother. Go beyond the illusion of time.
Q: Your answer is always the same. A kind of clockwork which strikes the same hours again and again.
M: It can not be helped. Just like the one sun is reflected in a billion dew drops, so is the timeless endlessly repeated. When l repeat: 'I am, I am', I merely assert and re-assert an ever-present fact. You get tired of my words because you do not see the living truth behind them. Contact it and you will find the full meaning of words and of silence -- both.
Q: You say that the little girl is already the mother of her future child. Potentially -- yes. Actually -- no.
M: The potential becomes actual by thinking. The body and its affairs exist in the mind.
Q: And the mind is consciousness in motion and consciousness is the conditioned (saguna) aspect of the Self. The unconditioned (nirguna) is another aspect and beyond lies the abyss of the absolute (paramartha).
M: Quite right -- you have put it beautifully.
Q: But these are mere words to me. Hearing and repeating them is not enough, they must be experienced.
M: Nothing stops you but preoccupation with the outer which prevents you from focussing the inner. It cannot be helped, you cannot skip your sadhana. You have to turn away from the world and go within, until the inner and the outer merge and you can go beyond the conditioned, whether inner or outer.
Q: Surely, the unconditioned is merely an idea in the conditioned mind. By itself it has no existence.
M: By itself nothing has existence. Everything needs its own absence. To be, is to be distinguishable, to be here and not there, to be now and not then, to be thus and not otherwise. Like water is shaped by the container, so is everything determined by conditions (gunas). As water remains water regardless of the vessels, as light remains itself regardless of the colours it brings out, so does the real remain real, regardless of conditions in which it is reflected. Why keep the reflection only in the focus of consciousness? Why not the real itself?
Q: Consciousness itself is a reflection. How can it hold the real?
M: To know that consciousness and its content are but reflections, changeful and transient, is the focussing of the real. The refusal to see the snake in the rope is the necessary condition for seeing the rope.
Q: Only necessary, or also sufficient?
M: One must also know that a rope exists and looks like a snake. Similarly, one must know that the real exists and is of the nature of witness-consciousness. Of course it is beyond the witness, but to enter it one must first realise the state of pure witnessing. The awareness of conditions brings one to the unconditioned.
Q: Can the unconditioned be experienced?
M: To know the conditioned as conditioned is all that can be said about the unconditioned. Positive terms are mere hints and misleading.
Q: Can we talk of witnessing the real?
M: How can we? We can talk only of the unreal, the illusory, the transient, the conditioned. To go beyond, we must pass through total negation of everything as having independent existence. All things depend.
Q: On what do they depend?
M: On consciousness. And consciousness depends on the witness.
Q: And the witness depends on the real?
M: The witness is the reflection of the real in all its purity. It depends on the condition of the mind. Where clarity and detachment predominate, the witness-consciousness comes into being. It is just like saying that where the water is clear and quiet, the image of the moon appears. Or like daylight that appears as sparkle in the diamond.
Q: Can there be consciousness without the witness?
M: Without the witness it becomes unconsciousness, just living. The witness is latent in every state of consciousness, just like light in every colour. There can be no knowledge without the knower and no knower without his witness. Not only you know, but you know that you know.
Q: If the unconditioned cannot be experienced, for all experience is conditioned, then why talk of it at all?
M: How can there be knowledge of the conditioned without the unconditioned? There must be a source from which all this flows, a foundation on which all stands. Self-realisation is primarily the knowledge of one's conditioning and the awareness that the infinite variety of conditions depends on our infinite ability to be conditioned and to give rise to variety. To the conditioned mind the unconditioned appears as the totality as well as the absence of everything. Neither can be directly experienced, but this does not make it not-existent.
Q: Is it not a feeling?
M: A feeling too is a state of mind. Just like a healthy body does not call for attention, so is the unconditioned free from experience. Take the experience of death. The ordinary man is afraid to die, because he is afraid of change. The jnani is not afraid because his mind is dead already. He does not think: 'I live'. He knows: 'There is life'. There is no change in it and no death. Death appears to be a change in time and space. Where there is neither time nor space, how can there be death? The jnani is already dead to name and shape. How can their loss affect him? The man in the train travels from place to place, but the man off the train goes nowhere, for he is not bound for a destination. He has nowhere to go, nothing to do, nothing to become. Those who make plans will be born to carry them out. Those who make no plans need not be born.
Q: What is the purpose of pain and pleasure?
M: Do they exist by themselves, or only in the mind?
Q: Still, they exist. Never mind the mind.
M: Pain and pleasure are merely symptoms, the results of wrong knowledge and wrong feeling. A result cannot have a purpose of its own.
Q: In God's economy everything must have a purpose.
M: Do you know God that you talk of him so freely? What is God to you? A sound, a word on paper, an idea in the mind?
Q: By his power I am born and kept alive.
M: And suffer, and die. Are you glad?
Q: It may be my own fault that I suffer and die. I was created unto life eternal.
M: Why eternal in the future and not in the past. What has a beginning must have an end. Only the beginningless is endless.
Q: God may be a mere concept, a working theory. A very useful concept all the same!
M: For this it must be free of inner contradictions, which is not the case. Why not work on the theory that you are your own creation and creator. At least there will be no external God to battle with.
Q: This world is so rich and complex -- how could I create it?
M: Do you know yourself enough to know what you can do and what you cannot? You do not know your own powers. You never investigated. Begin with yourself now.
Q: Everybody believes in God.
M: To me you are your own God. But if you think otherwise, think to the end. If there be God, then all is God's and all is for the best. Welcome all that comes with a glad and thankful heart. And love all creatures. This too will take you to your Self.
Maharaj: The world is but a show, glittering and empty. It is, and yet is not. It is there as long as I want to see it and take part in it. When I cease caring, it dissolves. It has no cause and serves no purpose. It just happens when we are absentminded. It appears exactly as it looks, but there is no depth in it, nor meaning. Only the onlooker is real. Call him Self or Atma. To the Self the world is but a colourful show, which he enjoys as long as it lasts and forgets when it is over. Whatever happens on the stage makes him shudder in terror or roll with laughter, yet all the time he is aware that it is but a show. Without desire or fear he enjoys it, as it happens.
Questioner: The person immersed in the world has a life of many flavours. He weeps, he laughs, loves and hates, desires and fears, suffers and rejoices. The desireless and fearless jnani, what life has he? Is he not left high and dry in his aloofness?
M: His state is not so desolate. It tastes of the pure, uncaused, undiluted bliss. He is happy and fully aware that happiness is his very nature and that he need not do anything, nor strive for anything to secure it. It follows him, more real than the body, nearer than the mind itself. You imagine that without cause there can be no happiness. To me dependence on anything for happiness is utter misery. Pleasure and pain have causes, while my state is my own, totally uncaused, independent, unassailable.
Q: Like a play on the stage?
M: The play was written, planned and rehearsed. The world just spouts into being out of nothing and returns to nothing.
Q: Is there no creator? Was not the world in the mind of Brahma, before it was created?
M: As long as you are outside my state, you will have Creators, Preservers and Destroyers, but once with me you will know the Self only and see yourself in all.
Q: You function nevertheless.
M: When you are giddy, you see the world running circles round you. Obsessed with the idea of means and end, of work and purpose, you see me apparently functioning. In reality I only look. Whatever is done, is done on the stage. Joy and sorrow life and death, they all are real to the man in bondage; to me they are all in the show, as unreal as the show itself.
I may perceive the world just like you, but you believe to be in it, while I see it as an iridescent drop in the vast expanse of consciousness.
Q: We are all getting old. Old age is not pleasant -- all aches and pains, weakness and the approaching end. How does a jnani feel as an old man? How does his inner self look at his own senility.
M: As he gets older he grows more and more happy and peaceful. After all, he is going home. Like a traveller nearing his destination and collecting his luggage, he leaves the train without regret.
Q: Surely there is a contradiction. We are told the jnani is beyond all change. His happiness neither grows nor wanes. How can he grow happier because older, and that in spite of physical weakness and so on?
M: There is no contradiction. The reel of destiny is coming to its end -- the mind is happy. The mist of bodily existence is lifting -- the burden of the body is growing less from day to day.
Q: Let us say, the jnani is ill. He has caught some flu and every joint aches and burns. What is his state of mind?
M: Every sensation is contemplated in perfect equanimity. There is no desire for it, nor refusal. It is as it is and then he looks at it with a smile of affectionate detachment.
Q: He may be detached from his own suffering, but still it is there.
M: It is there, but it does not matter. Whatever state I am in, I see it as a state of mind to be accepted as it is.
Q: Pain is pain. You experience It all the same.
M: He who experiences the body, experiences its pains and pleasures. I am neither the body, nor the experiencer of the body.
Q: Let us say you are twenty-five years old. Your marriage is arranged and performed, and the household duties crowd upon you. How would you feel?
M: Just as I feel now. You keep on insisting that my inner state is moulded by outer events. It is just not so. Whatever happens, I remain. At the root of my being is pure awareness, a speck of intense light. This speck, by its very nature, radiates and creates pictures in space and events in time -- effortlessly and spontaneously. As long as it is merely aware there are no problems. But when the discriminative mind comes into being and creates distinctions, pleasure and pain arise. During sleep the mind is in abeyance and so are pain and pleasure. The process of, creation continues, but no notice is taken. The mind is a form of consciousness, and consciousness is an aspect of life. Life creates everything but the Supreme is beyond all.
Q: The Supreme is the master and consciousness -- his servant.
M: The master is in consciousness, not beyond it. In terms of consciousness the Supreme is both creation and dissolution, concretion and abstraction, the focal and the universal. It is also neither. Words do not reach there, nor mind.
Q: The jnani seems to be a very lonely being, all by himself.
M: He is alone, but he is all. He is not even a being. He is the beingness of all beings. Not even that. No words apply. He is what he is, the ground from which all grows.
Q: Are you not afraid to die?
M: I shall tell you how my Guru's Guru died. After announcing that his end was nearing, he stopped eating, without changing the routine of his daily life. On the eleventh day, at prayer time he was singing and clapping vigorously and suddenly died! Just like that, between two movements, like a blown out candle. Everybody dies as he lives. I am not afraid of death, because I am not afraid of life. I live a happy life and shall die a happy death. Misery is to be born, not to die. All depends how you look at it.
Q: There can be no evidence of your state. All I know about it is what you say. All I see is a very interesting old man.
M: You are the interesting old man, not me! I was never born. How can I grow old? What I appear to be to you exists only in your mind. I am not concerned with it.
Q: Even as a dream you are a most unusual dream.
M: I am a dream that can wake you up. You will have the proof of it in your very waking up.
Q: Imagine, news reach you that I have died. Somebody tells you: 'You know so-and-so? He died'. What would be your reaction?
M: I would be very happy to have you back home. Really glad to see you out of this foolishness.
Q: Which foolishness?
M: Of thinking that you were born and will die, that you are a body displaying a mind and all such nonsense. In my world nobody is born and nobody dies. Some people go on a journey and come back, some never leave. What difference does it make since they travel in dream lands, each wrapped up in his own dream. Only the waking up is important. It is enough to know the 'I am' as reality and also love.
Q: My approach is not so absolute, hence my question. Throughout the West people are in search of something real. They turn to science, which tells them a lot about matter, a little about the mind and nothing about the nature and purpose of consciousness. To them reality is objective, outside the observable and describable, directly or by inference; about the subjective aspect of reality they know nothing. It is extremely important to let them know that there is reality and it is to be found in the freedom of consciousness from matter and its limitations and distortions. Most of the people in the world just do not know that there is reality which can be found and experienced in consciousness. It seems very important that they should hear the good news from somebody who has actually experienced. Such witnesses have always existed and their testimony is precious.
M: Of course. The gospel of self-realisation, once heard, will never be forgotten. Like a seed left in the ground, it will wait for the right season and sprout and grow into a mighty tree.
Questioner: What is the daily and hourly state of mind of a realised man? How does he see, hear, eat, drink, wake and sleep, work and rest? What proof is there of his state as different from ours? Apart from the verbal testimony of the so-called realised people, is there no way of verifying their state objectively. Are there not some observable differences in their physiological and nervous responses, in their metabolism, or brain waves, or in their psychosomatic structure?
Maharaj: You may find differences, or you may not. All depends on your capacity of observation. The objective differences are however, the least important. What matters is their outlook, their attitude, which is that of total detachment, aloofness, standing apart.
Q: Does not a jnani feel sorrow when his child dies, does he not suffer?
M: He suffers with those who suffer. The event itself is of little importance, but he is full of compassion for the suffering being, whether alive or dead, in the body or out of it. After all, love and compassion are his very nature. He is one with all that lives and love is that oneness in action.
Q: People are very much afraid of death.
M: The jnani is afraid of nothing. But he pities the man who is afraid. After all to be born, to live and to die is natural. To be afraid is not. To the event, of course, attention is given.
Q: Imagine you are ill -- high fever, aches, shivers. The doctor tells you the condition is serious, there are only a few days to live. What would be your first reaction?
M: No reaction. As it is natural for the incense stick to burn out, so it is natural for the body to die. Really, it is a matter of very little importance. What matters is that I am neither the body nor the mind. I am.
Q: Your family will be desperate, of course. What would you tell them?
M: The usual stuff: fear not, life goes on, God will protect you, we shall be soon together again and so on. But to me the entire commotion is meaningless, for I am not the entity that imagines itself alive or dead. I am neither born nor can I die. I have nothing to remember or to forget.
Q: What about the prayers for the dead?
M: By all means pray for the dead. It pleases them very much. They are flattered. The jnani does not need your prayers. He is himself the answer to your prayers.
Q: How does the jnani fare after death?
M: The jnani is dead already. Do you expect him to die again?
Q: Surely, the dissolution of the body is an important event even to a jnani.
M: There are no important events for a jnani, except when somebody reaches the highest goal. Then only his heart rejoices. All else is of no concern. The entire universe is his body, all life is his life. As in a city of lights, when one bulb burns out, it does not affect the network, so the death of a body does not affect the whole
Q: The particular may not matter to the whole, but it does matter to the particular. The whole is an abstraction, the particular, the concrete, is real.
M: That is what you say. To me it may be the other way -- the whole is real, the part comes and goes. The particular is born and reborn, changing name and shape, the jnani is the Changeless Reality, which makes the changeful possible. But he cannot give you the conviction. It must come with your own experience. With me all is one, all is equal.
Q: Are sin and virtue one and the same?
M: These are all man-made values! What are they to me? What ends in happiness is virtue, what ends in sorrow is sin. Both are states of mind. Mine is not a State of mind.
Q: We are like the blind people at a loss to understand what does it mean to see.
M: You can put it as you like.
Q: Is the practice of silence as a sadhana effective?
M: Anything you do for the sake of enlightenment takes you nearer. Anything you do without remembering enlightenment puts you off. But why complicate? Just know that you are above and beyond all things and thoughts. What you want to be, you are it already. Just keep it in mind.
Q: I hear you saying it, but I cannot believe.
M: I was in the same position myself. But I trusted my Guru and he proved right. Trust me, if you can. Keep in mind what I tell you: desire nothing, for you lack nothing. The very seeking prevents you from finding.
Q: You seem to be so very indifferent to everything!
M: I am not indifferent, I am impartial. I give no preference to the me and the mine. A basket of earth and a basket of jewels are both unwanted. Life and death are all the same to me.
Q: Impartiality makes you indifferent.
M: On the contrary, compassion and love are my very core. Void of all predilections, I am free to love.
Q: Buddha said that the idea of enlightenment is extremely important. Most people go through their lives not even knowing that there is such a thing as enlightenment, leave alone the striving for it. Once they have heard of it, a seed was sown which cannot die. Therefore, he would send his bhikhus to preach ceaselessly for eight months every year.
M: 'One can give food, clothes, shelter, knowledge, affection, but the highest gift is the gospel of enlightenment', my Guru used to say. You are right, enlightenment is the highest good. Once you have it, nobody can take it away from you.
Q: If you would talk like this in the West, people would take you for mad.
M: Of course, they would! To the ignorant all that they can not understand is madness. What of it? Let them be as they are. I am as I am, for no merit of mine and they are as they are, for no fault of theirs. The Supreme Reality manifests itself in innumerable ways. Infinite in number are its names and shapes. All arise, all merge in the same ocean, the source of all is one. Looking for causes and results is but the pastime of the mind. What is, is lovable. Love is not a result, it is the very ground of being. Wherever you go, you will find being, consciousness and love. Why and what for make preferences?
Q: When by natural causes thousands and millions of lives are extinguished (as it happens in floods and earthquakes), I do not grieve. But when one man dies at the hand of man, I grieve extremely. The inevitable has its own majesty, but killing is avoidable and, therefore, ugly and altogether horrible.
M: All happens as it happens. Calamities, whether natural or man-made, happen, and there is no need to feel horrified.
Q: How can anything be without cause?
M: In every event the entire universe is reflected. The ultimate cause is untraceable. The very idea of causation is only a way of thinking and speaking. We cannot imagine, uncaused emergence. This, however, does not prove the existence of causation.
Q: Nature is mindless, hence irresponsible. But man has a mind. Why is it so perverse?
M: The causes of perversity are also natural -- heredity, environment and so on. You are too quick to condemn. Do not worry about others. Deal with your own mind first. When you realise that your mind too is a part of nature, the duality will cease.
Q: There is some mystery in it which I cannot fathom. How can the mind be a part of nature?
M: Because nature is in the mind; without the mind where is nature?
Q: If nature is in the mind and the mind is my own, I should be able to control nature, which is not really the case. Forces beyond my control determine my behaviour.
M: Develop the witness attitude and you will find in your own experience that detachment brings control. The state of witnessing is full of power, there is nothing passive about it.
Questioner: I have noticed a new self emerging in me, independent of the old self. They somehow co-exist. The old self goes on its habitual ways; the new lets the old be, but does not identify itself with it.
Maharaj: What is the main difference between the old self and the new?
Q: The old self wants everything defined and explained. It wants things to fit each other verbally. The new does not care for verbal explanations -- it accepts things as they are and does not seek to relate them to things remembered.
M: Are you fully and constantly aware of the difference between the habitual and the spiritual. What is the attitude of the new self to the old?
Q: The new just looks at the old. It is neither friendly nor inimical. It just accepts the old self along with everything else. It does not deny its being, but does not accept its value and validity.
M: The new is the total denial of the old. The permissive new is not really new. It is but a new attitude of the old. The really new obliterates the old completely. The two cannot be together. Is there a process of self-denudation, a constant refusal to accept the old ideas and values, or is there just a mutual tolerance? What is their relation?
Q: There is no particular relation. They co-exist.
M: When you talk of the old self and new, whom do you have in mind? As there is continuity in memory between the two, each remembering the other, how can you speak of two selves?
Q: One is a slave to habits, the other is not. One conceptualises, the other is free from all ideas.
M: Why two selves? Between the bound and the free there can be no relationship. The very fact of co-existence proves their basic unity. There is but one self -- it is always now. What you call the other self -- old or new -- is but a modality, another aspect of the one self. The self is single. You are that self and you have ideas of what you have been or will be. But an idea is not the self. Just now, as you are sitting in front of me, which self are you? The old or the new?
Q: The two are in conflict.
M: How can there be conflict between what is and what is not? Conflict is the characteristic of the old. When the new emerges the old is no longer. You cannot speak of the new and the conflict in the same breath. Even the effort of striving for the new self is of the old. Wherever there is conflict, effort, struggle, striving, longing for a change, the new is not. To what extent are you free from the habitual tendency to create and perpetuate conflicts?
Q: I cannot say that I am now a different man. But I did discover new things about myself, states so unlike what I knew before that I feel justified in calling them new.
M: The old self is your own self. The state which sprouts suddenly and without cause, carries no stain of self; you may call it 'god'. What is seedless and rootless, what does not sprout and grow, flower and fruit, what comes into being suddenly and in full glory, mysteriously and marvellously, you may call that 'god'. It is entirely unexpected yet inevitable, infinitely familiar yet most surprising, beyond all hope yet absolutely certain. Because it is without cause, it is without hindrance. It obeys one law only; the law of freedom. Anything that implies a continuity, a sequence, a passing from stage to stage cannot be the real. There is no progress in reality, it is final, perfect, unrelated.
Q: How can I bring it about?
M: You can do nothing to bring it about, but you can avoid creating obstacles. Watch your mind, how it comes into being, how it operates. As you watch your mind, you discover your self as the watcher. When you stand motionless, only watching, you discover your self as the light behind the watcher. The source of light is dark, unknown is the source of knowledge. That source alone is. Go back to that source and abide there. It is not in the sky nor in the all-pervading ether. God is all that is great and wonderful; I am nothing, have nothing, can do nothing. Yet all comes out of me -- the source is me; the root, the origin is me.
When reality explodes in you, you may call it experience of God. Or, rather, it is God experiencing you. God knows you when you know yourself. Reality is not the result of a process; it is an explosion. It is definitely beyond the mind, but all you can do is to know your mind well. Not that the mind will help you, but by knowing your mind you may avoid your mind disabling you. You have to be very alert, or else your mind will play false with you. It is like watching a thief -- not that you expect anything from a thief, but you do not want to be robbed. In the same way you give a lot of attention to the mind without expecting anything from it.
Or, take another example. We wake and we sleep. After a day's work sleep comes. Now, do I go to sleep or does inadvertence -- characteristic of the sleeping state -- come to me? In other words -- we are awake because we are asleep. We do not wake up into a really waking state. In the waking state the world emerges due to ignorance and takes one into a waking-dream state. Both sleep and waking are misnomers. We are only dreaming. True waking and true sleeping only the jnani knows. We dream that we are awake, we dream that we are asleep. The three states are only varieties of the dream state. Treating everything as a dream liberates. As long as you give reality to dreams, you are their slave. By imagining that you are born as so-and-so, you become a slave to the so-and-so. The essence of slavery is to imagine yourself to be a process, to have past and future, to have history. In fact, we have no history, we are not a process, we do not develop, nor decay; also see all as a dream and stay out of it.
Q: What benefit do I derive from listening to you?
M: I am calling you back to yourself. All I ask you is to look at yourself, towards yourself, into yourself.
Q: To what purpose?
M: You live, you feel, you think. By giving attention to your living, feeling and thinking, you free yourself from them and go beyond them. Your personality dissolves and only the witness remains. Then you go beyond the witness. Do not ask how it happens. Just search within yourself.
Q: What makes the difference between the person and the witness?
M: Both are modes of consciousness. In one you desire and fear, in the other you are unaffected by pleasure and pain and are not ruffled by events. You let them come and go.
Q: How does one get established in the higher state, the state of pure witnessing?
M: Consciousness does not shine by itself. It shines by a light beyond it. Having seen the dreamlike quality of consciousness, look for the light in which it appears, which gives it being. There is the content of consciousness as well as the awareness of it.
Q: I know and I know that I know.
M: Quite so, provided the second knowledge is unconditional and timeless. Forget the known, but remember that you are the knower. Don't be all the time immersed in your experiences. Remember that you are beyond the experience ever unborn and deathless. In remembering it, the quality of pure knowledge will emerge, the light of unconditional awareness.
Q: At what point does one experience reality?
M: Experience is of change, it comes and goes. Reality is not an event, it cannot be experienced. It is not perceivable in the same way as an event is perceivable. If you wait for an event to take place, for the coming of reality, you will wait for ever, for reality neither comes nor goes. It is to be perceived, not expected. It is not to be prepared for and anticipated. But the very longing and search for reality is the movement, operation, action of reality. All you can do is to grasp the central point, that reality is not an event and does not happen and whatever happens, whatever comes and goes, is not reality. See the event as event only, the transient as transient, experience as mere experience and you have done all you can. Then you are vulnerable to reality, no longer armoured against it, as you were when you gave reality to events and experiences. But as soon as there is some like or dislike, you have drawn a screen.
Q: Would you say that reality expresses itself in action rather than in knowledge? Or, is it a feeling of sorts?
M: Neither action, nor feeling, nor thought express reality. There is no such thing as an expression of reality. You are introducing a duality where there is none. Only reality is, there is nothing else. The three states of waking, dreaming and sleeping are not me and I am not in them. When I die, the world will say -- 'Oh, Maharaj is dead!' But to me these are words without content; they have no meaning. When the worship is done before the image of the Guru, all takes place as if he wakes and bathes and eats and rests, and goes for a stroll and returns, blesses all and goes to sleep. All is attended to in minutest details and yet there is a sense of unreality about it all. So is the case with me. All happens as it needs, yet nothing happens. I do what seems to be necessary, but at the same time I know that nothing is necessary, that life itself is only a make-belief.
Q: Why then live at all? Why all this unnecessary coming and going, waking and sleeping, eating and digesting?
M: Nothing is done by me, everything just happens I do not expect, I do not plan, I just watch events happening, knowing them to be unreal.
Q: Were you always like this from the first moment of enlightenment?
M: The three states rotate as usual -- there is waking and sleeping and waking again, but they do not happen to me. They just happen. To me nothing ever happens. There is something changeless, motionless, immovable, rocklike, unassailable; a solid mass of pure being-consciousness-bliss. I am never out of it. Nothing can take me out of it, no torture, no calamity.
Q: Yet, you are conscious!
M: Yes and no. There is peace -- deep, immense, unshakeable. Events are registered in memory, but are of no importance. I am hardly aware of them.
Q: If I understand you rightly, this state did not come by cultivation.
M: There was no coming. It was so -- always. There was discovery and it was sudden. Just as at birth you discover the world suddenly, as suddenly I discovered my real being.
Q: Was it clouded over and your sadhana dissolved the mist? When your true state became clear to you, did it remain clear, or did it get obscured again? Is your condition permanent or intermittent?
M: Absolutely steady. Whatever I may do, it stays like a rock -- motionless. Once you have awakened into reality, you stay in it. A child does not return to the womb! It is a simple state, smaller than the smallest, bigger than the biggest. It is self-evident and yet beyond description.
Q: Is there a way to it?
M: Everything can become a way, provided you are interested. Just puzzling over my words and trying to grasp their full meaning is a sadhana quite sufficient for breaking down the wall. Nothing troubles me. I offer no resistance to trouble -- therefore it does not stay with me. On your side there is so much trouble. On mine there is no trouble at all. Come to my side. You are trouble-prone. I am immune. Anything may happen -- what is needed is sincere interest. Earnestness does it.
Q: Can I do it?
M: Of course. You are quite capable of crossing over. Only be sincere.
Questioner: From year to year your teaching remains the same. There seems to be no progress in what you tell us.
Maharaj: In a hospital the sick are treated and get well. The treatment is routine, with hardly any change, but there is nothing monotonous about health. My teaching may be routine, but the fruit of it is new from man to man.
Q: What is realisation? Who is a realised man? By what is the jnani recognised?
M: There are no distinctive marks of jnana. Only ignorance can be recognised, not jnana. Nor does a jnani claim to be something special. AII those who proclaim their own greatness and uniqueness are not jnanis. They are mistaking some unusual development for realisation. The jnani shows no tendency to proclaim himself to be a jnani. He considers himself to be perfectly normal, true to his real nature. Proclaiming oneself to be an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipotent deity is a clear sign of ignorance.
Q: Can the jnani convey his experience to the ignorant? Can jnana be transmitted from one man to another?
M: Yes, it can. The words of a jnani have the power of dispelling ignorance and darkness in the mind. It is not the words that matter, but the power behind them.
Q: What is that power?
M: The power of conviction, based on personal realisation, on one's own direct experience.
Q: Some realised people say that knowledge must be won, not got. Another can only teach, but the learning is one's own.
M: It comes to the same.
Q: There are many who have practiced Yoga for years and years without any result. What may be the cause of their failure?
M: Some are addicted to trances, with their consciousness in abeyance. Without full consciousness what progress can there be?
Q: Many are practicing samadhis (states of rapturous absorption). In samadhis consciousness is quite intense, yet they do not result in anything.
M: What results do you expect? And why should jnana be the result of anything? One thing leads to another, but jnana is not a thing to be bound by causes and results. It is beyond causality altogether. It is abidance in the self. The Yogi comes to know many wonders, but of the self he remains ignorant. The jnani may look and feel quite ordinary, but the self he knows well.
Q: There are many who strive for self-knowledge earnestly, but with scant results. What may be the cause of it?
M: They have not investigated the sources of knowledge sufficiently, their sensations, feelings and thoughts they do not know well enough. This may be one cause of delay. The other: some desires may still be alive.
Q: Ups and downs in sadhana are inevitable. Yet the earnest seeker plods on in spite of all. What can the jnani do for such a seeker?
M: If the seeker is earnest, the light can be given. The light is for all and always there, but the seekers are few, and among those few, those who are ready are very rare. Ripeness of heart and mind is indispensable.
Q: Did you get your own realisation through effort or by the grace of your Guru?
M: His was the teaching and mine was the trust. My confidence in him made me accept his words as true, go deep into them, live them, and that is how I came to realise what I am. The Guru's person and words made me trust him and my trust made them fruitful.
Q: But can a Guru give realisation without words, without trust, just like this, without any preparation?
M: Yes, one can, but where is the taker? You see, I was so attuned to my Guru, so completely trusting him. there was so little of resistance in me, that it all happened easily and quickly. But not everybody is so fortunate. Laziness and restlessness often stand in the way and until they are seen and removed, the progress is slow. All those who have realised on the spot, by mere touch, look or thought, have been ripe for it. But such are very few. The majority needs some time for ripening. Sadhana is accelerated ripening.
Q: What makes one ripe? What is the ripening factor?
M: Earnestness of course, one must be really anxious. After all, the realised man is the most earnest man. Whatever he does, he does it completely, without limitations and reservations. Integrity will take you to reality.
Q: Do you love the world?
M: When you are hurt, you cry. Why? Because you love yourself. Don't bottle up your love by limiting it to the body, keep it open. It will be then the love for all. When all the false selfidentifications are thrown away, what remains is all-embracing love. Get rid of all ideas about yourself, even of the idea that you are God. No self-definition is valid.
Q: I am tired of promises. I am tired of sadhanas, which take all my time and energy and bring nothing. I want reality here and now. Can I have it?
M: Of course you can, provided you are really fed up with everything, including your sadhanas. When you demand nothing of the world, nor of God, when you want nothing, seek nothing, expect nothing then the Supreme State will come to you uninvited and unexpected!
Q: If a man engrossed in family life and in the affairs of the world does his sadhana strictly as prescribed by his scriptures, will he get results?
M: Results he will get, but he will be wrapped up in them like in a cocoon.
Q: So many saints say that when you are ripe and ready, you will realise. Their words may be true, but they are of little use. There must be a way out, independent of ripening which needs time, of sadhana which needs effort.
M: Don't call it a way; it is more a kind of skill. It is not even that. Stay open and quiet, that is all. What you seek is so near you, that there is no place for a way.
Q: There are so many ignorant people in the world and so few jnanis. What may be the cause of it?
M: Don't concern yourself with others, take care of yourself. You know that you are. Don't burden yourself with names, just be. Any name or shape you give yourself obscures your real nature.
Q: Why should seeking end before one can realise?
M: The desire for truth is the highest of all desires, yet, it is still a desire. All desires must be given up to the real to be. Remember that you are. This is your working capital. Rotate it and there will be much profit.
Q: Why should there be seeking at all.
M: Life is seeking, one cannot help seeking. When all search ceases, it is the Supreme State.
Q: Why does the Supreme State come and go?
M: It neither comes nor goes. It is.
Q: Do you speak from your own experience?
M: Of course. It is a timeless state, ever present.
Q: With me it comes and goes, with you it does not. Why this difference?
M: Maybe because I have no desires. Or you do not desire the Supreme strongly enough. You must feel desperate when your mind is out of touch.
Q: All my life I was striving and achieved so little. I was reading, I was listening -- all in vain.
M: Listening and reading became a habit with you.
Q: I gave it up too. I do not read nowadays.
M: What you gave up is of no importance now. What have you not given up?. Find that out and give up that. Sadhana is a search for what to give up. Empty yourself completely.
Q: How can a fool desire wisdom? One needs to know the object of desire, to desire it. When the Supreme is not known, how can it be desired?
M: Man naturally ripens and becomes ready for realisation.
Q: But what is the ripening factor?
M: Self-remembrance, awareness of 'l am' ripens him powerfully and speedily. Give up all ideas about yourself and simply be.
Q: I am tired of all the ways and means and skills and tricks, of all these mental acrobatics. Is there a way to perceive reality directly and immediately?
M: Stop making use of your mind and see what happens. Do this one thing thoroughly. That is all.
Q: When I was younger, I had strange experiences, short but memorable, of being nothing, just nothing, yet fully conscious. But the danger is that one has the desire to recreate from memory the moments that have passed.
M: This is all imagination. In the light of consciousness all sorts of things happen and one need not give special importance to any. The sight of a flower is as marvellous as the vision of God. Let them be. Why remember them and then make memory into a problem? Be bland about them; do not divide them into high and low, inner and outer, lasting and transient. Go beyond, go back to the source, go to the self that is the same whatever happens. Your weakness is due to your conviction that you were born into the world. In reality the world is ever recreated in you and by you. See everything as emanating from the light which is the source of your own being. You will find that in that light there is love and infinite energy.
Q: If I am that light, why do I not know it?
M: To know, you need a knowing mind, a mind capable of knowing. But your mind is ever on the run, never still, never fully reflecting. How can you see the moon in all her glory when the eye is clouded with disease?
Q: Can we say that while the sun is the cause of the shadow one cannot see the sun in the shadow. One must turn round.
M: Again you have introduced the trinity of the sun, the body and shadow. There is no such division in reality. What I am talking about has nothing to do with dualities and trinities. Don't mentalise and verbalise. Just see and be.
Q: Must I see, to be?
M: See what you are. Don't ask others, don't let others tell you about yourself. Look within and see. All the teacher can tell you is only this. There is no need of going from one to another. The same water is in all the wells. You just draw from the nearest. In my case the water is within me and I am the water.
Maharaj: The perceiver of the world, is he prior to the world, or does he come into being along with the world?
Questioner: What a strange question! Why do you ask such questions?
M: Unless you know the correct answer, you will not find peace.
Q: When I wake up in the morning, the world is already there, waiting for me. Surely the world comes into being first. I do, but much later, at the earliest at my birth. The body mediates between me and the world. Without the body there would be neither me nor the world.
M: The body appears in your mind, your mind is the content of your consciousness; you are the motionless witness of the river of consciousness which changes eternally without changing you in any way. Your own changelessness is so obvious that you do not notice it. Have a good look at yourself and all these misapprehensions and misconceptions will dissolve. Just as all the little watery lives are in water and cannot be without water, so all the universe is in you and cannot be without you.
Q: We call it God.
M: God is only an idea in your mind. The fact is you. The only thing you know for sure is: 'here and now I am'. Remove, the 'here and now' the 'I am' remains, unassailable. The word exists in memory, memory comes into consciousness; consciousness exists in awareness and awareness is the reflection of the light on the waters of existence.
Q: Still I do not see how can the world be in me when the opposite 'I am in the world' is so obvious.
M: Even to say 'I am the world, the world is me', is a sign of ignorance. But when I keep in mind and confirm in life my identity with the world, a power arises in me which destroys the ignorance, burns it up completely.
Q: Is the witness of ignorance separate from ignorance? Is not to say: 'I am ignorant' a part of ignorance?
M: Of course. All I can say truly is: 'I am', all else is inference. But the inference has become a habit. Destroy all habits of thinking and seeing. The sense 'I am' is the manifestation of a deeper cause, which you may call self, God, reality or by any other name. The 'I am' is in the world; but it is the key which can open the door out of the world. The moon dancing on the water is seen in the water, but it is caused by the moon in the sky and not by the water.
Q: Still the main point seems to escape me. l can admit that the world in which I live and move and have my being is of my own creation, a projection of myself, of my imagination, on the unknown world, the world as it is, the world of 'absolute matter', whatever this matter may be. The world of my own creation may be quite unlike the ultimate, the real world, just like the cinema screen is quite unlike the pictures projected onto it. Nevertheless, this absolute world exists, quite independent of myself.
M: Quite so, the world of Absolute Reality, onto which your mind has projected a world of relative unreality is independent of yourself, for the very simple reason that it is yourself.
Q: Is there no contradiction in terms? How can independence prove identity?
M: Examine the motion of change and you will see. What can change while you do not change, can be said to be independent of you. But what is changeless must be one with whatever else is changeless. For, duality implies interaction and interaction meats change. In other words, the absolutely material and the absolutely spiritual, the totally objective and the totally subjective are identical, both in substance and essence.
Q: Like in a tri-dimensional picture, the light forms its own screen.
M: Any comparison will do. The main point to grasp is that you have projected onto yourself a world of your own imagination, based on memories, on desires and fears, and that you have imprisoned yourself in it. Break the spell and be free.
Q: How does one break the spell?
M: Assert your independence in thought and action. After all, all hangs on your faith in yourself, on the conviction that what you see and hear, think and feel is real. Why not question your faith? No doubt, this world is painted by you on the screen of consciousness and is entirely your own private world. Only your sense 'I am', though in the world, is not of the world. By no effort of logic or imagination can you change the 'I am' into 'I am not'. In the very denial of your being you assert it. Once you realise that the world is your own projection, you are free of it. You need not free yourself of a world that does not exist, except in your own imagination! However is the picture, beautiful or ugly, you are painting it and you are not bound by it. realise that there is nobody to force it on you, that it is due to the habit of taking the imaginary to be real. See the Imaginary as imaginary and be free of fear.
Just as the colours in this carpet are brought out by light but light is not the colour, so is the world caused by you but you are not the world.
That which creates and sustains the world, you may call it God or providence, but ultimately you are the proof that God exists, not the other way round. For, before any question about God can be put, you must be there to put it.
Q: God is an experience in time, but the experiencer is timeless.
M: Even the experiencer is secondary. Primary is the infinite expanse of consciousness, the eternal possibility, the immeasurable potential of all that was, is, and will be. When you look at anything, it is the ultimate you see, but you imagine that you see a cloud or a tree.
Learn to look without imagination, to listen without distortion: that is all. Stop attributing names and shapes to the essentially nameless and formless, realise that every mode of perception is subjective, that what is seen or heard, touched or smelt, felt or thought, expected or imagined, is in the mind and not in reality, and you will experience peace and freedom from fear.
Even the sense of 'I am' is composed of the pure light and the sense of being. The 'I' is there even without the 'am'. So is the pure light there whether you say 'I' or not. Become aware of that pure light and you will never lose it. The beingness in being, the awareness in consciousness, the interest in every experience -- that is not describable, yet perfectly accessible, for there is nothing else.
Q: You talk of reality directly -- as the all-pervading, ever-present, eternal, all-knowing, all-energizing first cause. There are other teachers, who refuse to discuss reality at all. They say reality is beyond the mind while all discussions are within the realm of the mind, which is the home of the unreal. Their approach is negative; they pinpoint the unreal and thus go beyond it into the real.
M: The difference lies in the words only. After all, when l talk of the real, I describe it as not-unreal, space-less, time-less, cause-less, beginning-less and end-less. It comes to the same. As long as it leads to enlightenment, what does the wording matter? Does it matter whether you pull the cart or push it, as long as it is kept rolling? You may feel attracted to reality at one time and repelled from the false at another; these are only moods which alternate; both are needed for perfect freedom. You may go one way or another -- but each time it will be the right way at the moment; just go whole-heartedly, don't waste time on doubting or hesitating. Many kinds of food are needed to make the child grow, but the act of eating is the same. Theoretically -- all approaches are good. In practice, and at a given moment, you proceed by one road only. Sooner or later you are bound to discover that if you really want to find, you must dig at one place only -- within.
Neither your body nor mind can give you what you seek -- the being and knowing your self and the great peace that comes with it.
Q: Surely there is something valid and valuable in every approach.
M: In each case the value lies in bringing you to the need of seeking within. Playing with various approaches may be due to resistance to going within, to the fear of having to abandon the illusion of being something or somebody in particular. To find water you do not dig small pits all over the place, but drill deep in one place only. Similarly, to find your self you have to explore yourself. When you realise that you are the light of the world, you will also realise that you are the love of it; that to know is to love and to love is to know.
Of all the affections the love of oneself comes first. Your love of the world is the reflection of your love of yourself, for your world is of your own creation. Light and love are impersonal, but they are reflected in your mind as knowing and wishing oneself well. We are always friendly towards ourselves. but not always wise. A Yogi is a man whose goodwill is allied to wisdom.
Questioner: I have come to be with you, rather than to listen. Little can be said in words, much more can be conveyed in silence.
Maharaj: First words, then silence. One must be ripe for silence.
Q: Can I live in silence?
M: Unselfish work leads to silence, for when you work selflessly, you don't need to ask for help. Indifferent to results, you are willing to work with the most inadequate means. You do not care to be much gifted and well equipped. Nor do you ask for recognition and assistance. You just do what needs be done, leaving success and failure to the unknown. For everything is caused by innumerable factors, of which your personal endeavour is but one. Yet such is the magic of man's mind and heart that the most improbable happens when human will and love pull together.
Q: What is wrong with asking for help when the work is worthy?
M: Where is the need of asking? It merely shows weakness and anxiety. Work on, and the universe will work with you. After all the very idea of doing the right thing comes to you from the unknown. Leave it to the unknown as far as the results go, just go through the necessary movements. You are merely one of the links in the long chain of causation. Fundamentally, all happens in the mind only. When you work for something whole-heartedly and steadily, it happens, for it is the function of the mind to make things happen. In reality nothing is lacking and nothing is needed, all work is on the surface only. In the depths there is perfect peace. All your problems arise because you have defined and therefore limited yourself. When you do not think yourself to be this or that, all conflict ceases. Any attempt to do something about your problems is bound to fail, for what is caused by desire can be undone only in freedom from desire. You have enclosed yourself in time and space, squeezed yourself into the span of a lifetime and the volume of a body and thus created the innumerable conflicts of life and death, pleasure and pain, hope and fear. You cannot be rid of problems without abandoning illusions.
Q: A person is naturally limited.
M: There is no such thing as a person. There are only restrictions and limitations. The sum total of these defines the person. You think you know yourself when you know what you are. But you never know who you are. The person merely appears to be, like the space within the pot appears to have the shape and volume and smell of the pot. See that you are not what you believe yourself to be. Fight with all the strength at your disposal against the idea that you are nameable and describable. You are not. Refuse to think of yourself in terms of this or that. There is no other way out of misery, which you have created for yourself through blind acceptance without investigation. Suffering is a call for enquiry, all pain needs investigation. Don't be too lazy to think.
Q: Activity is the essence of reality. There is no virtue in not working. Along with thinking something must be done.
M: To work in the world is hard, to refrain from all unnecessary work is even harder.
Q: For the person I am all this seems impossible.
M: What do you know about yourself? You can only be what you are in reality; you can only appear what you are not. You have never moved away from perfection. All idea of self-improvement is conventional and verbal. As the sun knows not darkness, so does the self know not the non-self. It is the mind, which by knowing the other, becomes the other. Yet the mind is nothing else but the self. It is the self that becomes the other, the notself, and yet remains the self. All else is an assumption. Just as a cloud obscures the sun without in any way affecting it, so does assumption obscure reality without destroying it. The very idea of destruction of reality is ridiculous; the destroyer is always more real than the destroyed. Reality is the ultimate destroyer. All separation, every kind of estrangement and alienation is false. All is one -- this is the ultimate solution of every conflict.
Q: How is it that in spite of so much instruction and assistance we make no progress?
M: As long as we imagine ourselves to be separate personalities, one quite apart from another, we cannot grasp reality which is essentially impersonal. First we must know ourselves as witnesses only, dimensionless and timeless centres of observation, and then realise that immense ocean of pure awareness, which is both mind and matter and beyond both.
Q: Whatever I may be in reality, yet I feel myself to be a small and separate person, one amongst many.
M: Your being a person is due to the illusion of space and time; you imagine yourself to be at a certain point occupying a certain volume; your personality is due to your self-identification with the body. Your thoughts and feelings exist in succession, they have their span in time and make you imagine yourself, because of memory, as having duration. In reality time and space exist in you; you do not exist in them. They are modes of perception, but they are not the only ones. Time and space are like words written on paper; the paper is real, the words merely a convention. How old are you?
M: What makes you say forty-eight? What makes you say: I am here? Verbal habits born from assumptions. The mind creates time and space and takes its own creations for reality. All is here and now, but we do not see it. Truly, all is in me and by me. There is nothing else. The very idea of 'else' is a disaster and a calamity.
Q: What is the cause of personification, of self-limitation in time and space?
M: That which does not exist cannot have a cause. There is no such thing as a separate person. Even taking the empirical point of view, it is obvious that everything is the cause of everything, that everything is as it is, because the entire universe is as it is.
Q: Yet personality must have a cause.
M: How does personality, come into being? By memory. By identifying the present with the past and projecting it into the future. Think of yourself as momentary, without past and future and your personality dissolves.
Q: Does not 'I am' remain?
M: The word 'remain' does not apply. 'I am' is ever afresh. You do not need to remember in order to be. As a matter of fact, before you can experience anything, there must be the sense of being. At present your being is mixed up with experiencing. All you need is to unravel being from the tangle of experiences. Once you have known pure being, without being this or that, you will discern it among experiences and you will no longer be misled by names and forms.
Self-limitation is the very essence of personality.
Q: How can I become universal?
M: But you are universal. You need not and you cannot become what you are already. Only cease imagining yourself to be the particular. What comes and goes has no being. It owes its very appearance to reality. You know that there is a world, but does the world know you? All knowledge flows from you, as all being and all joy. realise that you are the eternal source and accept all as your own. Such acceptance is true love.
Q: All you say sounds very beautiful. But how has one to make it into a way of living?
M: Having never left the house you are asking for the way home. Get rid of wrong ideas, that is all. Collecting right ideas also will take you nowhere. Just cease imagining.
Q: It is not a matter of achievement, but of understanding.
M: Don't try to understand! Enough if you do not misunderstand. Don't rely on your mind for liberation. It is the mind that brought you into bondage. Go beyond it altogether.
What is beginningless cannot have a cause. It is not that you knew what you are and then you have forgotten. Once you know, you cannot forget. Ignorance has no beginning, but can have an end. Enquire: who is ignorant and ignorance will dissolve like a dream. The world is full of contradictions, hence your search for harmony and peace. These you cannot find in the world, for the world is the child of chaos. To find order you must search within. The world comes into being only when you are born in a body. No body -- no world. First enquire whether you are the body. The understanding of the world will come later.
Q: What you say sounds convincing, but of what use is it to the private person, who knows itself to be in the world and of the world?
M: Millions eat bread, but few know all about wheat. And only those who know can improve the bread. Similarly, only those who know the self, who have seen beyond the world, can improve the world. Their value to private persons is immense, for they are their only hope of salvation. What is in the world cannot save the world; if you really care to help the world you must step out of it.
Q: But can one step out of the world?
M: Who was born first, you or the world? As long as you give first place to the world, you are bound by it; once you realise, beyond all trace of doubt that the world is in you and not you in the world, you are out of it. Of course your body remains in the world and of the world, but you are not deluded by it. All scriptures say that before the world was, the Creator was. Who knows the Creator? He alone who was before the Creator, your own real being, the source of all the worlds with their creators.
Q: All you say is held together by your assumption that the world is your own projection. You admit that you mean your personal, subjective world, the world given you through your senses and your mind. In that sense each one of us lives in a world of his own projection. These private worlds hardly touch each other and they arise from and merge into the 'I am' at their centre. But surely behind these private worlds there must be a common objective world, of which the private worlds are mere shadows. Do you deny the existence of such an objective world, common to all?
M: Reality is neither subjective nor objective, neither mind nor matter, neither time nor space. These divisions need somebody to whom to happen, a conscious separate centre. But reality is all and nothing, the totality and the exclusion, the fullness and the emptiness, fully consistent, absolutely paradoxical. You cannot speak about it, you can only lose your self in it. When you deny reality to anything, you come to a residue which cannot be denied .
All talk of jnana is a sign of ignorance. It is the mind that imagines that it does not know and then comes to know. Reality knows nothing of these contortions. Even the idea of God as the Creator is false. Do I owe my being to any other being? Because I am, all is.
Q: How can it be? A child is born into the world, not the world into the child. The world is old and the child is new.
M: The child is born into your world. Now, were you born into your world, or did your world appear to you? To be born means to create a world round yourself as the centre. But do you ever create yourself? Or did anyone create you? Everyone creates a world for himself and lives in it, imprisoned by one's ignorance. All we have to do is to deny reality to our prison.
Q: Just as the waking state exists in seed form during sleep, so does the world the child creates on being born exist before its birth. With whom does the seed lie?
M: With him who is the witness of birth and death, but is neither born nor dies. He alone is the seed of creation as well as its residue. Don't ask the mind to confirm what is beyond the mind. Direct experience is the only valid confirmation.
Questioner: By profession I am a physician. I began with surgery, continued with psychiatry and also wrote some books on mental health and healing by faith. I came to you to learn the laws of spiritual health.
Maharaj: When you are trying to cure a patient, what exactly are you trying to cure? What is cure? When can you say that a man is cured?
Q: I seek to cure the body as well as improve the link between the body and the mind. I also seek to set right the mind.
M: Did you investigate the connection between the mind and the body? At what point are they connected?
Q: Between the body and the indwelling consciousness lies the mind.
M: Is not the body made of food? And can there be a mind without food?
Q: The body is built and maintained by food. Without food the mind usually goes weak. But the mind is not mere food. There is a transforming factor which creates a mind in the body. What is that transforming factor?
M: Just like the wood produces fire which is not wood, so does the body produce the mind which is not the body. But to whom does the mind appear? Who is the perceiver of the thoughts and feelings which you call the mind? There is wood, there is fire and there is the enjoyer of the fire. Who enjoys the mind? Is the enjoyer also a result of food, or is it independent?
Q: The perceiver is independent.
M: How do you know? Speak from your own experience. You are not the body nor the mind. You say so. How do you know?
Q: I really do not know. I guess so.
M: Truth is permanent. The real is changeless. What changes is not real, what is real does not change. Now, what is it in you that does not change? As long as there is food, there is body and mind. When the food is stopped, the body dies and the mind dissolves. But does the observer perish?
Q: I guess it does not. But I have no proof.
M: You yourself are the proof. You have not, nor can you have any other proof. You are yourself, you know yourself, you love yourself. Whatever the mind does, it does for the love of its own self. The very nature of the self is love. It is loved, loving and lovable. It is the self that makes the body and the mind so interesting, so very dear. The very attention given to them comes from the self.
Q: If the self is not the body nor the mind, can it exist without the body and the mind?
M: Yes, it can. It is a matter of actual experience that the self has being independent of mind and body. It is being -- awareness -- bliss. Awareness of being is bliss.
Q: It may be a matter of actual experience to you, but it is not my case. How can I come to the same experience? What practices to follow, what exercises to take up?
M: To know that you are neither body nor mind, watch yourself steadily and live unaffected by your body and mind, completely aloof, as if you were dead. It means you have no vested interests, either in the body or in the mind.
M: I am not asking you to commit suicide. Nor can you. You can only kill the body, you cannot stop the mental process, nor can you put an end to the person you think you are. Just remain unaffected. This complete aloofness, unconcern with mind and body is the best proof that at the core of your being you are neither mind nor body. What happens to the body and the mind may not be within your power to change, but you can always put an end to your imagining yourself to be body and mind. Whatever happens, remind yourself that only your body and mind are affected, not yourself. The more earnest you are at remembering what needs to be remembered, the sooner will you be aware of yourself as you are, for memory will become experience. Earnestness reveals being. What is imagined and willed becomes actuality -- here lies the danger as well as the way out.
Tell me, what steps have you taken to separate your real self, that in you which is changeless, from your body and mind?
Q: I am a medical man, I have studied a lot, I imposed on myself a strict discipline in the way of exercises and periodical fasts and I am a vegetarian.
M: But in the depth of your heart what is it that you want?
Q: I want to find reality.
M: What price are you willing to pay for reality? Any price?
Q: While in theory I am ready to pay any price, in actual life again and again I am being prompted to behave in ways which come in between me and reality. Desire carries me away.
M: Increase and widen your desires till nothing but reality can fulfil them. It is not desire that is wrong, but its narrowness and smallness. Desire is devotion. By all means be devoted to the real, the infinite, the eternal heart of being. Transform desire into love. All you want is to be happy. All your desires, whatever they may be, are expressions of your longing for happiness. Basically, you wish yourself well.
Q: I know that I should not…
M: Wait! Who told you that you should not? What is wrong with wanting to be happy?
Q: The self must go, l know.
M: But the self is there. Your desires are there. Your longing to be happy is there. Why? Because you love yourself. By all means love yourself -- wisely. What is wrong is to love yourself stupidly, so as to make yourself suffer. Love yourself wisely. Both indulgence and austerity have the same purpose in view -- to make you happy. Indulgence is the stupid way, austerity is the wise way.
Q: What is austerity?
M: Once you have gone through an experience, not to go through it again is austerity. To eschew the unnecessary is austerity. Not to anticipate pleasure or pain Is austerity. Having things under control at all times is austerity. Desire by itself is not wrong. It is life itself, the urge to grow in knowledge and experience.
It is the choices you make that are wrong. To imagine that some little thing -- food. sex, power, fame -- will make you happy is to deceive yourself. Only something as vast and deep as your real self can make you truly and lastingly happy.
Q: Since there is nothing basically wrong in desire as an expression of love of self, how should desire be managed?
M: Live your life intelligently, with the interests of your deepest self always in mind. After all, what do you really want? Not perfection; you are already perfect. What you seek is to express in action what you are. For this you have a body and a mind. Take them in hand and make them serve you.
Q: Who is the operator here? Who is to take the body-mind in hand?
M: The purified mind is the faithful servant of the self. It takes charge of the instruments, inner and outer, and makes them serve their purpose.
Q: And what is their purpose?
M: The self is universal and its aims are universal. There is nothing personal about the self. Live an orderly life, but don't make it a goal by itself. It should be the starting point for high adventure.
Q: Do you advise me to come to India repeatedly?
M: If you are earnest, you don't need moving about. You are yourself wherever you are and you create your own climate. Locomotion and transportation will not give you salvation. You are not the body and dragging the body from place to place will take you nowhere. Your mind is free to roam the three worlds -- make full use of it.
Q: If I am free, why am I in a body?
M: you are not in the body, the body is in you! The mind is in you. They happen to you. They are there because you find them interesting. Your very nature has the infinite capacity to enjoy. It is full of zest and affection. It sheds its radiance on all that comes within its focus of awareness and nothing is excluded. It does not know evil nor ugliness, it hopes, it trusts, it loves. You people do not know how much you miss by not knowing your own true self. You are neither the body nor the mind, neither the fuel nor the fire. They appear and disappear according to their own laws.
That which you are, your true self, you love it, and whatever you do, you do for your own happiness. To find it, to know it, to cherish it is your basic urge. Since time immemorial you loved yourself, but never wisely. Use your body and mind wisely in the service of the self, that is all. Be true to your own self, love your self absolutely. Do not pretend that you love others as yourself. Unless you have realised them as one with yourself, you cannot love them Don't pretend to be what you are not, don't refuse to be what you are. Your love of others is the result of self-knowledge, not its cause. Without self-realisation, no virtue is genuine. When you know beyond all doubting that the same life flows through all that is and you are that life, you will love all naturally and spontaneously. When you realise the depth and fullness of your love of yourself, you know that every living being and the entire universe are included in your affection. But when you look at anything as separate from you, you cannot love it for you are afraid of it. Alienation causes fear and fear deepens alienation. It is a vicious circle. Only self-realisation can break it. Go for it resolutely.
Questioner: In one's search for the essential, one soon realises one's inadequacy and the need for a guide or a teacher. This implies a certain discipline for you are expected to trust your guide and follow implicitly his advice and instruction. Yet the social urgencies and pressures are so great, personal desires and fears so powerful, that the simplicity of mind and will, essential in obedience, are not forthcoming. How to strike a balance between the need for a Guru and the difficulty in obeying him implicitly?
Maharaj: What is done under pressure of society and circumstances does not matter much, for it is mostly mechanical, mere reacting to impacts. It is enough to watch oneself dispassionately to isolate oneself completely from what is going on. What has been done without minding, blindly, may add to one's karma (destiny), otherwise it hardly matters. The Guru demands one thing only; clarity and intensity of purpose, a sense of responsibility for oneself. The very reality of the world must be questioned. Who is the Guru, after all? He who knows the state in which there is neither the world nor the thought of it, he is the Supreme Teacher. To find him means to reach the state in which imagination is no longer taken for reality. Please, understand that the Guru stands for reality, for truth, for what is. He is a realist in the highest sense of the term. He cannot and shall not come to terms with the mind and its delusions. He comes to take you to the real; don't expect him to do anything else.
The Guru you have in mind, one who gives you information and instructions, is not the real Guru. The real Guru is he who knows the real, beyond the glamour of appearances. To him your questions about obedience and discipline do not make sense, for in his eyes the person you take yourself to be does not exist, your questions are about a non-existing person. What exists for you does not exist for him. What you take for granted, he denies absolutely. He wants you to see yourself as he sees you. Then you will not need a Guru to obey and follow, for you will obey and follow your own reality. realise that whatever you think yourself to be is just a stream of events; that while all happens, comes and goes, you alone are, the changeless among the changeful, the self-evident among the inferred. Separate the observed from the observer and abandon false identifications.
Q: In order to find the reality, one should discard all that stands in the way. On the other hand, the need to survive within a given society compels one to do and endure many things. Does one need to abandon one's profession and one's social standing in order to find reality?
M: Do your work. When you have a moment free, look within. What is important is not to miss the opportunity when it presents itself. If you are earnest you will use your leisure fully. That is enough.
Q: In my search for the essential and discarding the unessential, is there any scope for creative living? For instance, I love painting. Will it help me if I give my leisure hours to painting?
M: Whatever you may have to do, watch your mind. Also you must have moments of complete inner peace and quiet, when your mind is absolutely still. If you miss it, you miss the entire thing. If you do not, the silence of the mind will dissolve and absorb all else.
Your difficulty lies in your wanting reality and being afraid of it at the same time. You are afraid of it because you do not know it. The familiar things are known, you feel secure with them. The unknown is uncertain and therefore dangerous. But to know reality is to be in harmony with it. And in harmony there is no place for fear.
An infant knows its body, but not the body-based distinctions. It is just conscious and happy. After all, that was the purpose for which it was born. The pleasure to be is the simplest form of self-love, which later grows into love of the self. Be like an infant with nothing standing between the body and the self. The constant noise of the psychic life is absent. In deep silence the self contemplates the body. It is like the white paper on which nothing is written yet. Be like that infant, instead of trying to be this or that, be happy to be. You will be a fully awakened witness of the field of consciousness. But there should be no feelings and ideas to stand between you and the field.
Q: To be content with mere being seems to be a most selfish way of passing time.
M: A most worthy way of being selfish! By all means be selfish by foregoing everything but the Self. When you love the Self and nothing else, you go beyond the selfish and the unselfish. All distinctions lose their meaning. Love of one and love of all merge together in love, pure and simple, addressed to none, denied to none. Stay in that love, go deeper and deeper into it, investigate yourself and love the investigation and you will solve not only your own problems but also the problems of humanity. You will know what to do. Do not ask superficial questions; apply yourself to fundamentals, to the very roots of your being.
Q: Is there a way for me to speed up my self-realisation?
M: Of course there is.
Q: Who will do this speeding up? Will you do it for me?
M: Neither you will do it, nor me. It will just happen.
Q: My very coming here has proved it. Is this speeding up due to holy company? When I left last time, I hoped to come back. And I did! Now I am desperate that so soon I have to leave for England.
M: You are like a newly born child. It was there before but not conscious of its being. At its birth a world arose in it, and with it the consciousness of being. Now you have just to grow in consciousness, that is all. The child is the king of the world -- when it grows up, it takes charge of its kingdom. Imagine that in its infancy it fell seriously ill and the physician cured it. Does it mean that the young king owes his kingdom to the physician? Only, perhaps as one of the contributing factors. There were so many others; all contributed. But the main factor, the most crucial, was the fact of being born the son of a king. Similarly, the Guru may help. But the main thing that helps is to have reality within. It will assert itself. Your coming here definitely helped you. It is not the only thing that is going to help you. The main thing is your own being. Your very earnestness testifies to it.
Q: Does my pursuing a vocation deny my earnestness?
M: I told you already. As long as you allow yourself an abundance of moments of peace, you can safely practice your most honourable profession. These moments of inner quiet will burn out all obstacles without fail. Don't doubt its efficacy. Try it.
Q: But, I did try!
M: Never faithfully, never steadily. Otherwise you would not be asking such questions. You are asking because you are not sure of yourself. And you are not sure of yourself because you never paid attention to yourself, only to your experiences. Be interested in yourself beyond all experience, be with yourself, love yourself; the ultimate security is found only in self-knowledge. The main thing is earnestness. Be honest with yourself and nothing will betray you. Virtues and powers are mere tokens for children to play with. They are useful in the world, but do not take you out of it. To go beyond, you need alert immobility, quiet attention.
Q: What then becomes of one's physical being?
M: As long as you are healthy, you live on.
Q: This life of inner immobility, will it not affect one's health?
M: Your body is food transformed. As your food, gross and subtle, so will be your health.
Q: And what happens to the sex instinct? How can it be controlled?
M: Sex is an acquired habit. Go beyond. As long as your focus is on the body, you will remain in the clutches of food and sex, fear and death. Find yourself and be 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.
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.
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 unselfconscious 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.
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 anaesthetics 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 your self-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-knowingfeeling. 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 your self, 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.