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I AM THAT
By Nisargadatta Maharaj

PARTS:   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13

PART  11


81. Root Cause of Fear

Maharaj: Where do you come from?
Questioner: I am from the United States, but I live mostly in Europe. To India I came recently. I was in Rishikesh, in two Ashrams. I was taught meditation and breathing.
M: How long were you there?
Q: Eight days in one, six days in another. I was not happy there and I left. Then for three weeks I was with the Tibetan Lamas. But they were all wrapped up in formulas and rituals.
M: And what was the net result of it all?
Q: Definitely there was an increase of energy. But before I left for Rishikesh, I did some fasting and dieting at a Nature Cure Sanatorium at Pudukkotai in South India. It has done me enormous good.
M: Maybe the access of energy was due to better health.
Q: I cannot say. But as a result of all these attempts some fires started burning in various places in my body and I heard chants and voices where there were none.
M: And what are you after now?
Q: Well, what are we all after? Some truth, some inner certainty, some real happiness. In the various schools of self-realisation there is so much talk of awareness, that one ends with the impression that awareness itself is the supreme reality. Is it so? The body is looked after by the brain, the brain is illumined by consciousness; awareness watches over consciousness; is there anything beyond awareness?
M: How do you know that you are aware?
Q: I feel that I am. I cannot express it otherwise.
M: When you follow it up carefully from brain through consciousness to awareness, you find that the sense of duality persists. When you go beyond awareness, there is a state of non-duality, in which there is no cognition, only pure being, which may be as well called non-being, if by being you mean being something in particular.
Q: What you call pure being is it universal being, being everything?
M: Everything implies a collection of particulars. In pure being the very idea of the particular is absent.
Q: Is there any relationship between pure being and particular being?
M: What relationship can there be between what is and what merely appears to be? Is there any relationship between the ocean and its waves? The real enables the unreal to appear and causes it to disappear. the succession of transient moments creates the illusion of time, but the timeless reality of pure being is not in movement, for all movement requires a motionless background. It is itself the background. Once you have found it in yourself, you know that you had never lost that independent being, independent of all divisions and separations. But don't look for it in consciousness, you will not find it there. Don't look for it anywhere, for nothing contains it. On the contrary, it contains everything and manifests everything. It is like the daylight that makes everything visible while itself remaining invisible.
Q: Sir, of what use to me is your telling me that reality cannot be found in consciousness? Where else am I to look for it? How do you apprehend it?
M: It is quite simple. If I ask you what is the taste of your mouth all you can do is to say: it is neither sweet nor bitter, nor sour nor astringent; it is what remains when all these tastes are not. Similarly, when all distinctions and reactions are no more, what remains is reality, simple and solid.
Q: All that I understand is that I am in the grip of a beginningless illusion. And I do not see how it can come to an end. If it could, it would -- long ago. I must have had as many opportunities in the past as I shall have in the future. What could not happen cannot happen. Or, if it did, it could not last. Our very deplorable state after all these untold millions of years carries, at best, the promise of ultimate extinction, or, which is worse, the threat of an endless and meaningless repetition.
M: What proof have you that your present state is beginningless and endless? How were you before you were born? How will you be after death? And of your present state -- how much do you know? You do not know even what was your condition before you woke up this morning? You only know a little of your present state and from it you draw conclusions for all times and places. You may be just dreaming and imagining your dream to be eternal.
Q: Calling it a dream does not change the situation. I repeat my question: what hope is left which the eternity behind me could not fulfil? Why should my future be different from my past?
M: In your fevered state, you project a past and a future and take them to be real. In fact, you know only your present moment. Why not investigate what is now, instead of questioning the imaginary past and future? Your present state is neither beginningless nor endless. If is over in a flash. Watch carefully from where it comes and where it goes. You will soon discover the timeless reality behind it.
Q: Why have I not done it before?
M: Just as every wave subsides into the ocean, so does every moment return to its source. realisation consists in discovering the source and abiding there.
Q: Who discovers?
M: The mind discovers.
Q: Does it find the answers?
M: It finds that it is left without questions, that no answers are needed.
Q: Being born is a fact. Dying is another fact. How do they appear to the witness?
M: A child was born; a man has died -- just events in the course of time.
Q: Is there any progress in the witness? Does awareness evolve?
M: What is seen may undergo many changes when the light of awareness is focussed on it, but it is the object that changes, not the light. Plants grow in sunlight, but the sun does not grow. By themselves both the body and the witness are motionless, but when brought together in the mind, both appear to move.
Q: Yes, I can see that what moves and changes is the 'I am' only. Is the 'I am' needed at all?
M: Who needs it? It is there -- now. It had a beginning it will have an end.
Q: What remains when the "I am" goes?
M: What does not come and go -- remains. It is the ever greedy mind that creates ideas of progress and evolution towards perfection. It disturbs and talks of order, destroys and seeks security.
Q: Is there progress in destiny, in karma?
M: Karma is only a store of unspent energies, of unfulfilled desires and fears not understood. The store is being constantly replenished by new desires and fears. It need not be so for ever. Understand the root cause of your fears -- estrangement from yourself: and of desires -- the longing for the self, and your karma will dissolve like a dream. Between earth and heaven life goes on. Nothing is affected, only bodies grow and decay.
Q: Between the person and the witness, what is the relation?
M: There can be no relation between them because they are one. Don't separate and don't look for relationship.
Q: If the seer and the seen are one, how did the separation occur?
M: Fascinated by names and forms, which are by their very nature distinct and diverse, you distinguish what is natural and separate what is one. The world is rich in diversity, but your feeling strange and frightened is due to misapprehension. It is the body that is in danger, not you.
Q: I can see that the basic biological anxiety, the flight instinct, takes many shapes and distorts my thoughts and feelings. But how did this anxiety come into being?
M: It is a mental state caused by the 'I-am-the-body' idea. It can be removed by the contrary idea: 'I-am-not-the-body'. Both the ideas are false, but one removes the other. realise that no ideas are your own, they all come to you from outside. You must think it all out for yourself, become yourself the object of your meditation. The effort to understand yourself is Yoga. Be a Yogi, give your life to it, brood, wonder, search, till you come to the root of error and to the truth beyond the error.
Q: In meditation, who meditates, the person or the witness?
M: Meditation is a deliberate attempt to pierce into the higher states of consciousness and finally go beyond it. The art of meditation is the art of shifting the focus of attention to ever subtler levels, without losing one's grip on the levels left behind. In a way it is like having death under control. One begins with the lowest levels: social circumstances, customs and habits; physical surroundings, the posture and the breathing of the body, the senses, their sensations and perceptions; the mind, its thoughts and feelings; until the entire mechanism of personality is grasped and firmly held. The final stage of meditation is reached when the sense of identity goes beyond the 'I-am-so-and-so', beyond 'so-l-am', beyond 'I-am-the-witness-only', beyond 'there-is', beyond all ideas into the impersonally personal pure being. But you must be energetic when you take to meditation. It is definitely not a part-time occupation. Limit your interests and activities to what is needed for you and your dependents' barest needs. Save all your energies and time for breaking the wall your mind had built around you. Believe me, you will not regret.
Q: How do I come to know that my experience is universal?
M: At the end of your meditation all is known directly, no proofs whatsoever are required. Just as every drop of the ocean carries the taste of the ocean, so does every moment carry the taste of eternity. Definitions and descriptions have their place as useful incentives for further search, but you must go beyond them into what is undefinable and indescribable, except in negative terms.
After all, even universality and eternity are mere concepts, the opposites of being place and time-bound. Reality is not a concept, nor the manifestation of a concept. It has nothing to do with concepts. Concern yourself with your mind, remove its distortions and impurities. Once you had the taste of your own self, you will find it everywhere and at all times. Therefore, it is so important that you should come to it. Once you know it, you will never lose it.
But you must give yourself the opportunity through intensive, even arduous meditation.
Q: What exactly do you want me to do?
M: Give your heart and mind to brooding over the 'I am', what is it, how is it, what is its source, its life, its meaning. It is very much like digging a well. You reject all that is not water, till you reach the life-giving spring.
Q: How shall I know that I am moving in the right direction?
M: By your progress in intentness, in clarity and devotion to the task.
Q: We, Europeans, find it very difficult to keep quiet. The world is too much with us.
M: Oh, no, you are dreamers too. We differ only in the contents of our dreams. You are after perfection -- in the future. We are intent on finding it -- in the now. The limited only is perfectible. The unlimited is already perfect. You are perfect, only you don't know it. Learn to know yourself and you will discover wonders.
All you need is already within you, only you must approach your self with reverence and love. Self-condemnation and self-distrust are grievous errors. Your constant flight from pain and search for pleasure is a sign of love you bear for your self, all I plead with you is this: make love of your self perfect. Deny yourself nothing -- glue your self infinity and eternity and discover that you do not need them; you are beyond.

82. Absolute Perfection is Here and Now
Questioner: The war is on. What is your attitude to it?
Maharaj: In some place or other, in some form or other, the war is always on. Was there a time when there was no war? Some say it is the will of God. Some say it is God's play. It is another way of saying that wars are inevitable and nobody is responsible.
Q: But what is your own attitude?
M: Why impose attitudes on me? I have no attitude to call my own.
Q: Surely somebody is responsible for this horrible and senseless carnage. Why do people kill each other so readily?
M: Search for the culprit within. The ideas of 'me' and 'mine' are at the root of all conflict. Be free of them and you will be out of conflict.
Q: What of it that I am out of conflict? It will not affect the war. If I am the cause of war, I am ready to be destroyed. Yet, it stands to reason that the disappearance of a thousand like me will not stop wars. They did not start with my birth nor will end with my death. I am not Responsible. Who is?
M: Strife and struggle are a part of existence. Why don't you enquire who is responsible for existence?
Q: Why do you say that existence and conflict are inseparable? Can there be no existence without strife? I need not fight others to be myself.
M: You fight others all the time for your survival as a separate body-mind, a particular name and form. To live you must destroy. From the moment you were conceived you started a war with your environment -- a merciless war of mutual extermination, until death sets you free.
Q: My question remains unanswered. You are merely describing what I know -- life and its sorrows. But who is responsible, you do not say. When I press you, you throw the blame on God, or karma, or on my own greed and fear -- which merely invites further questions. Give me the final answer.
M: The final answer is this: nothing is. All is a momentary appearance in the field of the universal consciousness; continuity as name and form is a mental formation only, easy to dispel.
Q: I am asking about the immediate, the transitory, the appearance. Here is a picture of a child killed by soldiers. It is a fact -- staring at you. You cannot deny it. Now, who is responsible for the death of the child?
M: Nobody and everybody. The world is what it contains and each thing affects all others. We all kill the child and we all die with it. Every event has innumerable causes and produces numberless effects. It is useless to keep accounts, nothing is traceable.
Q: Your people speak of karma and retribution.
M: It is merely a gross approximation: in reality we are all creators and creatures of each other, causing and bearing each other's burden.
Q: So, the innocent suffers for the guilty?
M: In our ignorance we are innocent; in our actions we are guilty. We sin without knowing and suffer without understanding. Our only hope: to stop, to look, to understand and to get out of the traps of memory. For memory feeds imagination and imagination generates desire and fear.
Q: Why do I imagine at all?
M: The light of consciousness passes through the film of memory and throws pictures on your brain. Because of the deficient and disordered state of your brain, what you perceive is distorted and coloured by feelings of like and dislike. Make your thinking orderly and free from emotional overtones, and you will see people and things as they are, with clarity and charity.
The witness of birth, life and death is one and the same. It is the witness of pain and of love. For while the existence in limitation and separation is sorrowful, we love it. We love it and hate it at the same time. We fight, we kill, we destroy life and property and yet we are affectionate and self-sacrificing. We nurse the child tenderly and orphan it too. Our life is full of contradictions. Yet we cling to it. This clinging is at the root of everything. Still, it is entirely superficial. We hold on to something or somebody, with all our might and next moment we forget it; like a child that shapes its mud-pies and abandons them light-heartedly. Touch them -- it will scream with anger, divert the child and he forgets them. For our life is now, and the love of it is now. We love variety, the play of pain and pleasure, we are fascinated by contrasts. For this we need the opposites and their apparent separation. We enjoy them for a time and then get tired and crave for the peace and silence of pure being. The cosmic heart beats ceaselessly. I am the witness and the heart too.
Q: I can see the picture, but who is the painter? Who is responsible for this terrible and yet adorable experience?
M: The painter is in the picture. You separate the painter from the picture and look for him. Don't separate and don't put false questions. Things are as they are and nobody in particular is responsible. The idea of personal responsibility comes from the illusion of agency. 'Somebody must have done it, somebody is responsible'. Society as it is now, with its framework of laws and customs, is based on the idea of a separate and responsible personality, but this is not the only form a society can take. There may be other forms, where the sense of separation is weak and responsibility diffused.
Q: An individual with a weak sense of personality -- is he nearer self-realisation?
M: Take the case of a young child. The sense of 'I-am' is not yet formed, the personality is rudimentary. The obstacles to self knowledge are few, but the power and the clarity of awareness, its width and depth are lacking. In the course of years awareness will grow stronger, but also the latent personality will emerge and obscure and complicate. Just as the harder the wood, the hotter the flame, so the stronger the personality, brighter the light generated from its destruction.
Q: Have you no problems?
M: I do have problems. I told you already. To be, to exist with a name and form is painful, yet I love it.
Q: But you love everything!
M: In existence everything is contained. My very nature is to love; even the painful is lovable.
Q: It does not make it less painful. Why not remain in the unlimited?
M: It is the instinct of exploration, the love of the unknown, that brings me into existence. It is in the nature of being to see adventure in becoming, as it is in the very nature of becoming to seek peace in being. This alteration of being and becoming is inevitable; but my home is beyond.
Q: Is your home in God?
M: To love and worship a god is also ignorance. My home is beyond all notions, however sublime.
Q: But God is not a notion! It is the reality beyond existence.
M: You may use any word you like. Whatever you may think of am beyond it.
Q: Once you know your home, why not stay in it? What takes you out of it?
M: Out of love for corporate existence one is born and once born, one gets involved in destiny. Destiny is inseparable from becoming. The desire to be the particular makes you into a person with all its personal past and future. Look at some great man, what a wonderful man he was! And yet how troubled was his life and limited its fruits. How utterly dependent is the personality of man and how indifferent is its world. And yet we love it and protect it for its very insignificance.
Q: The war is on and there is chaos and you are being asked to take charge of a feeding centre. You are given what is needed, it is only a question of getting through the job. Will you refuse it?
M: To work, or not to work, is one and the same to me. I may take charge, or may not. There may be others, better endowed for such tasks, than I am -- professional caterers for instance. But my attitude is different. I do not look at death as a calamity as I do not rejoice at the birth of a child. The child is out for trouble while the dead is out of it. Attachment to life is attachment to sorrow. We love what gives us pain. Such is our nature.
For me the moment of death will be a moment of jubilation, not of fear. I cried when I was born and I shall die laughing.
Q: What is the change in consciousness at the moment of death?
M: What change do you expect? When the film projection ends all remains the same as when it started. The state before you were born was also the state after death, if you remember.
Q: I remember nothing.
M: Because you never tried. It is only a question of tuning in the mind. It requires training, of course.
Q: Why don't you take part in social work?
M: But I am doing nothing else all the time! And what is the social work you want me to do? Patchwork is not for me. My stand is clear: produce to distribute, feed before you eat, give before you take, think of others, before you think of yourself. Only a selfless society based on sharing can be stable and happy. This is the only practical solution. If you do not want it -- fight.
Q: It is all a matter of gunas. Where tamas and rajas predominate, there must be war. Where sattva rules, there will be peace.
M: Put it whichever way you like, it comes to the same. Society is built on motives. Put goodwill into the foundations and you will not need specialised social workers.
Q: The world is getting better.
M: The world had all the time to get better, yet it did not. What hope is there for the future? Of course, there have been and will be periods of harmony and peace, when sattva was in ascendance, but things get destroyed by their own perfection. A perfect society is necessarily static and, therefore, it stagnates and decays. From the summit all roads lead downwards. Societies are like people -- they are born, they grow to some point of relative perfection and then decay and die.
Q: Is there not a state of absolute perfection which does not decay?
M: Whatever has a beginning must have an end. In the timeless all is perfect, here and now.
Q: But shall we reach the timeless in due course?
M: In due course we shall come back to the starting point. Time cannot take us out of time, as space cannot take us out of space. All you get by waiting is more waiting. Absolute perfection is here and now, not in some future, near or far. The secret is in action -- here and now. It is your behaviour that blinds you to yourself. Disregard whatever you think yourself to be and act as if you were absolutely perfect -- whatever your idea of perfection may be. All you need is courage.
Q: Where do I find such courage?
M: In yourself, of course. Look within.
Q: Your grace will help
M: My grace is telling you now: look within. All you need you have. Use it. Behave as best you know, do what you think you should. Don't be afraid of mistakes; you can always correct them, only intentions matter. The shape things take is not within your power; the motives of your actions are.
Q: How can action born from imperfection lead to perfection?
M: Action does not lead to perfection; perfection is expressed in action. As long as you judge yourself by your expressions give them utmost attention; when you realise your own being your behaviour will be perfect -- spontaneously.
Q: If I am timelessly perfect, then why was I born at all? What is the purpose of this life?
M: It is like asking: what does it profit gold to be made into an ornament? The ornament gets the colour and the beauty of gold; gold is not enriched. Similarly, reality expressed in action makes the action meaningful and beautiful.
Q: What does the real gain through its expressions?
M: What can it gain? Nothing whatsoever. But it is in the nature of love to express itself, to affirm itself, to overcome difficulties. Once you have understood that the world is love in action, you will look at it quite differently. But first your attitude to suffering must change. Suffering is primarily a call for attention, which itself is a movement of love. More than happiness, love wants growth, the widening and deepening of consciousness and being. Whatever prevents becomes a cause of pain, and love does not shirk from pain. Sattva, the energy that works for righteousness and orderly development, must not be thwarted. When obstructed it turns against itself and becomes destructive. Whenever love is withheld and suffering allowed to spread, war becomes inevitable. Our indifference to our neighbour"s sorrow brings suffering to our door.

83. The True Guru
Questioner: You were saying the other day that at the root of your realisation was the trust in your Guru. He assured you that you were already the Absolute Reality and there was nothing more to be done. You trusted him and left it at that, without straining, without striving. Now, my question is: without trust in your Guru would you have realised? After all, what you are, You are, whether your mind trusts or not; would doubt obstruct the action of the Guru's words and make them inoperative?
Maharaj: You have said it -- they would have been made inoperative -- for a time.
Q: And what would happen to the energy, or power in the Guru's words?
M: It would remain latent, unmanifested. But the entire question is based on a misunderstanding. The master, the disciple, the love and trust between them, these are one fact, not so many independent facts. Each is a part of the other. Without love and trust there would have been no Guru nor disciple, and no relationship between them. It is like pressing a switch to light an electric lamp. It is because the lamp, the wiring, the switch, the transformer, the transmission lines and the power house form a single whole, that you get the light. Any one factor missing and there would be no light. You must not separate the inseparable. Words do not create facts; they either describe them or distort. The fact is always non-verbal.
Q: I still do not understand; can the Guru's word remain unfulfilled or will it invariably prove true?
M: Words of a realised man never miss their purpose. They wait for the right conditions to arise which may take some time, and. this is natural, for there is a season for sowing and a season for harvesting. But the word of a Guru is a seed that cannot perish. Of course, the Guru must be a real one, who is beyond the body and the mind, beyond consciousness itself, beyond space and time, beyond duality and unity, beyond understanding and description. The good people who have read a lot and have a lot to say, may teach you many useful things, but they are not the real Gurus whose words invariably come true. They also may tell you that you are the ultimate reality itself, but what of it?
Q: Nevertheless, if for some reason I happen to trust them and obey, shall I be the loser?
M: If you are able to trust and obey, you will soon find your real Guru, or rather, he will find you.
Q: Does every knower of the Self become a Guru, or can one be a knower of Reality without being able to take others to it?
M: If you know what you teach, you can teach what you know, Here seership and teachership are one. But the Absolute Reality is beyond both. The self-styled Gurus talk of ripeness and effort, of merits and achievements, of destiny and grace; all these are mere mental formations, projections of an addicted mind. Instead of helping, they obstruct.
Q: How can I make out whom to follow and whom to mistrust?
M: Mistrust all, until you are convinced. The true Guru will never humiliate you, nor will he estrange you from yourself. He will constantly bring you back to the fact of your inherent perfection and encourage you to seek within. He knows you need nothing, not even him, and is never tired of reminding you. But the self appointed Guru is more concerned with himself than with his disciples.
Q: You said that reality is beyond the knowledge and the teaching of the real. Is not the knowledge of reality the supreme itself and teaching the proof of its attainment?
M: The knowledge of the real, or the self, is a state of mind. Teaching another is a movement in duality. They concern the mind only; sattva is a Guna all the same.
Q: What is real then?
M: He who knows the mind as non-realised and realised, who knows ignorance and knowledge as states of mind, he is the real. When you are given diamonds mixed with gravel, you may either miss the diamonds or find them. It is the seeing that matters. Where is the greyness of the gravel and the beauty of the diamond, without the power to see? The known is but a shape and knowledge is but a name. The knower is but a state of mind. The real is beyond.
Q: Surely, objective knowledge and ideas of things and self knowledge are not one and the same thing. One needs a brain, the other does not.
M: For the purpose of discussion you can arrange words and give them meaning, but the fact remains that all knowledge is a form of ignorance. The most accurate map is yet only paper. All knowledge is in memory; it is only recognition, while reality is beyond the duality of the knower and the known.
Q: Then by what is reality known?
M: How misleading is your language! You assume, unconsciously, that reality also is approachable through knowledge. And then you will bring in a knower of reality beyond reality! Do understand that to be, reality need not be known. Ignorance and knowledge are in the mind, not in the real.
Q: If there is no such thing as the knowledge of the real, then how do I reach it?
M: You need not reach out for what is already with you. Your very reaching out makes you miss it. Give up the idea that you have not found it and just let it come into the focus of direct perception, here and now, by removing all that is of the mind.
Q: When all that can go, goes, what remains?
M: Emptiness remains, awareness remains, pure light of the conscious being remains. It is like asking what remains of a room when all the furniture is removed? A most serviceable room remains. And when even the walls are pulled down, space remains. Beyond space and time is the here and the now of reality.
Q: Does the witness remain?
M: As long as there is consciousness, its witness is also there. The two appear and disappear together.
Q: If the witness too is transient, why is he given so much importance?
M: Just to break the spell of the known, the illusion that only the perceivable is real.
Q: Perception is primary, the witness -- secondary.
M: This is the heart of the matter. As long as you believe that only the outer world is real, you remain its slave. To become free, your attention must be drawn to the 'I am', the witness. Of course, the knower and the known are one not two, but to break the spell of the known the knower must be brought to the forefront. Neither is primary, both are reflections in memory of the ineffable experience, ever new and ever now, untranslatable, quicker than the mind.
Q: Sir, I am an humble seeker, wandering from Guru to Guru in search of release. My mind is sick, burning with desire, frozen with fear. My days flit by, red with pain, grey with boredom. My age is advancing, my health decaying, my future dark and frightening. At this rate I shall live in sorrow and die in despair. Is there any hope for me? Or have I come too late?
M: Nothing is wrong with you, but the ideas you have of yourself are altogether wrong. It is not you who desires, fears and suffers, it is the person built on the foundation of your body by circumstances and influences. You are not that person. This must be clearly established in your mind and never lost sight of. Normally, it needs a prolonged sadhana, years of austerities and meditation.
Q: My mind is weak and vacillating. I have neither the strength nor the tenacity for sadhana. My case, is hopeless.
M: In a way yours is a most hopeful case. There is an alternative to sadhana, which is trust. If you cannot have the conviction born from fruitful search, then take advantage of my discovery, which I am so eager to share with you. I can see with the utmost clarity that you have never been, nor are, nor will be estranged from realty, that you are the fullness of perfection here and now and that nothing can deprive you of your heritage, of what you are. You are in no way different from me, only you do not know it. You do not know what you are and therefore you imagine your self to be what you are not. Hence desires and fear and overwhelming despair. And meaningless activity in order to escape.
Just trust me and live by trusting me. I shall not mislead you. You are the Supreme Reality beyond the world and its creator, beyond consciousness and its witness, beyond all assertions and denials. Remember it, think of it, act on it. Abandon all sense of separation, see yourself in all and act accordingly. With action bliss will come and, with bliss, conviction. After all, you doubt yourself because you are in sorrow. Happiness, natural, spontaneous and lasting cannot be imagined. Either it is there, or it is not. Once you begin to experience the peace, love and happiness which need no outer causes, all your doubts will dissolve. Just catch hold of what I told you and live by it.
Q: You are telling me to live by memory?
M: You are living by memory anyhow. I am merely asking you to replace the old memories by the memory of what I told you. As you were acting on your old memories, act on the new one. Don't be afraid. For some time there is bound to be a conflict between the old and the new, but if you put yourself resolutely on the side of the new, the strife will soon come to an end and you will realise the effortless state of being oneself, of not being deceived by desires and fears born of illusion.
Q: Many Gurus have the habit of giving tokens of their grace -- their head cloth, or their sticks, or begging bowl, or robe, thus transmitting or confirming the self-realisation of their disciples. I can see no value in such practices. It is not self-realisation that is transmitted, but self-importance. Of what earthly use is being told something very flattering, but not true? On one hand you are warning me against the many self-styled Gurus, on the other you want me to trust you. Why do you claim to be an exception?
M: I do not ask you to trust me. Trust my words and remember them, I want your happiness, not mine. Distrust those who put a distance between you and your true being and offer themselves as a go-between. I do nothing of the kind. I do not even make any promises. I merely say: if you trust my words and put them to test, you will for yourself discover how absolutely true they are. If you ask for a proof before you venture, I can only say: I am the proof. I did trust my teacher's words and kept them in my mind and I did find that he was right, that I was, am and shall be the Infinite Reality, embracing all, transcending all.
As you say, you have neither the time nor the energy for lengthy practices. I offer you an alternative. Accept my words on trust and live anew, or live and die in sorrow.
Q: It seems too good to be true.
M: Don't be misled by the simplicity of the advice. 'very few are those who have the courage to trust the innocent and the simple. To know that you are a prisoner of your mind, that you live in an imaginary world of your own creation is the dawn of wisdom. To want nothing of it, to be ready to abandon it entirely, is earnestness. Only such earnestness, born of true despair, will make you trust me.
Q: Have l not suffered enough?
M: Suffering has made you dull, unable to see its enormity. Your first task is to see the sorrow in you and around you; your next to long intensely for liberation. The very intensity of longing will guide you; you need no other guide.
Q: Suffering has made me dull, indifferent even to itself.
M: Maybe it is not sorrow but pleasure that made you dull. Investigate.
Q: Whatever may be the cause; I am dull. I have neither the will nor the energy.
M: Oh, no. You have enough for the first step. And each step will generate enough energy for the next. Energy comes with confidence and confidence comes with experience.
Q: Is it right to change Gurus?
M: Why not change? Gurus are like milestones? It is natural to move on from one to another. Each tells you the direction and the distance, while the sadguru, the eternal Guru, is the road itself. Once you realise that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.
Q: So, there is no need to worship, to pray, to practice Yoga?
M: A little of daily sweeping, washing and bathing can do no harm. Self-awareness tells you at every step what needs be done. When all is done, the mind remains quiet.
Now you are in the waking state, a person with name and shape, joys and sorrows. The person was not there before you were born, nor will be there after you die. Instead of struggling with the person to make it become what it is not, why not go beyond the waking state and leave the personal life altogether? It does not mean the extinction of the person; it means only seeing it in right perspective.
Q: One more question. You said that before I was born I was one with the pure being of reality; if so, who decided that I should be born?
M: In reality you were never born and never shall die. But now you imagine that you are, or have a body and you ask what has brought about this state. Within the limits of illusion the answer is: desire born from memory attracts you to a body and makes you think as one with it. But this is true only from the relative point of view. In fact, there is no body, nor a world to contain it; there is only a mental condition, a dream-like state, easy to dispel by questioning its reality.
Q: After you die, will you come again? If I live long enough, will I meet you again.
M: To you the body is real, to me there is none. I, as you see me, exist in your imagination only. Surely, you will see me again, if and when you need me. It does not affect me, as the Sun is not affected by sunrises and sunsets. Because it is not affected, it is certain to be there when needed.
You are bent on knowledge, I am not. I do not have that sense of insecurity that makes you crave to know. I am curious, like a child is curious. But there is no anxiety to make me seek refuge in knowledge. Therefore, I am not concerned whether I shall be reborn, or how long will the world last. These are questions born of fear.

84. Your Goal is Your Guru
Questioner: You were telling us that there are many self-styled Gurus, but a real Guru is very rare. There are many jnani who imagine themselves realised, but all they have is book knowledge and a high opinion of themselves. Sometimes they impress, even fascinate, attract disciples and make them waste their time in useless practices. After some years, when the disciple takes stock of himself, he finds no change. When he complains to his teacher, he gets the usual rebuke that he did not try hard enough. The blame is on the lack of faith and love in the heart of the disciple, while in reality the blame is on the Guru, who had no business in accepting disciples and raising their hopes. How to protect oneself from such Gurus?
Maharaj: Why be so concerned with others? Whoever may be the Guru, if he is pure of heart and acts in good faith, he will do his disciples no harm. If there is no progress, the fault lies with the disciples, their laziness and lack of self-control. On the other hand, if the disciple is earnest and applies himself intelligently and with zest to his sadhana, he is bound to meet a more qualified teacher, who will take him further. Your question flows from three false assumptions: that one needs concern oneself with others; that one can evaluate another and that the progress of the disciple is the task and responsibility of his Guru. In reality, the Guru's role is only to instruct and encourage; the disciple is totally responsible for himself.
Q: We are told that total surrender to the Guru is enough, that the Guru will do the rest.
M: Of course, when there is total surrender, complete relinquishment of all concern with one's past, presents and future, with one's physical and spiritual security and standing, a new life dawns, full of love and beauty; then the Guru is not important, for the disciple has broken the shell of self-defence. Complete self-surrender by itself is liberation.
Q: When both the disciple and his teacher are inadequate, what will happen?
M: In the long run all will be well. After all, the real Self of both is not affected by the comedy they play for a time. They will sober up and ripen and shift to a higher level of relationship.
Q: Or, they may separate.
M: Yes, they may separate. After all, no relationship is forever. Duality is a temporary state.
Q: Is it by accident that I met you and by another accident shall we separate never to meet again? Or is my meeting you a part of some cosmic pattern, a fragment in the great drama of our lives?
M: The real is meaningful and the meaningful relates to reality. If our relationship is meaningful to you and me, it cannot be accidental. The future affects the present as much, as the past.
Q: How can I make out who is a real saint and who is not?
M: You cannot, unless you have a clear insight into the heart of man. Appearances are deceptive. To see clearly, your mind must be pure and unattached. Unless you know yourself well, how can you know another? And when you know yourself -- you are the other.
Leave others alone for some time and examine yourself. There are so many things you do not know about yourself -- what are you, who are you, how did you come to be born, what are you doing now and why, where are you going, what is the meaning and purpose of your life, your death, your future? Have you a past, have you a future? How did you come to live in turmoil and sorrow, while your entire being strives for happiness and peace? These are weighty matters and have to be attended to first. You have no need, nor time for finding who is a jnani and who is not?
Q: I must select my guru rightly.
M: Be the right man and the right Guru will surely find you.
Q: You are not answering my question: how to find the right Guru?
M: But I did answer your question. Do not look for a Guru, do not even think of one. Make your goal your Guru. After all, the Guru is but a means to an end, not the end in itself. He is not important, it is what you expect of him that matters to you. Now, what do you expect?
Q: By his grace I shall be made happy, powerful and peaceful.
M: What ambitions! How can a person limited in time and space, a mere body-mind, a gasp of pain between birth and death, be happy? The very conditions of its arising make happiness impossible. Peace, power, happiness, these are never personal states, nobody can say "my peace", "my power" -- because "mine" implies exclusivity, which is fragile and insecure.
Q: I know only my conditioned existence; there is nothing else.
M: Surely, you cannot say so. In deep sleep you are not conditioned. How ready and willing you are to go to sleep, how peaceful, free and happy you are when asleep!
Q: I know nothing of it.
M: Put it negatively. When you sleep, you are not in pain, nor bound, nor restless.
Q: I see your point. While awake, I know that I am, but am not happy; in sleep I am, I am happy, but I don"t know it. All I need is to know that I am free and happy.
M: Quite so. Now, go within, into a state which you may compare to a state of waking sleep, in which you are aware of yourself, but not of the world. In that state you will know, without the least trace of doubt, that at the root of your being you are free and happy. The only trouble is that you are addicted to experience and you cherish your memories. In reality it is the other way round; what is remembered is never real; the real is now.
Q: All this I grasp verbally, but it does not become a part of myself. It remains as a picture in my mind to be looked at. Is it not the task of the Guru to give life to the picture?
M: Again, it is the other way round. The picture is alive; dead is the mind. As the mind is made of words and images, so is every reflection in the mind. It covers up reality with verbalisation and then complains. You say a Guru is needed, to do miracles with you. You are playing with words only. The Guru and the disciple are one single thing, like the candle and its flame. Unless the disciple is earnest, he cannot be called a disciple. Unless a Guru is all love and self-giving, he cannot be called a Guru. Only reality begets reality, not the false.
Q: I can see that I am false. Who will make me true?
M: The very words you said will do it. The sentence: " I can see that I am false" contains all you need for liberation. Ponder over it, go into it deeply, go to the root of it; it will operate. The power is in the word, not in the person.
Q: I do not grasp you fully. On one hand you say a Guru is needed; on the other -- the Guru can only give advice, bit the effort is mine. Please state clearly -- can one realise the Self without a Guru, or is the finding of a true Guru essential?
M: More essential is the finding of a true disciple. Believe me, a true disciple is very rare, for in no time he goes beyond the need for a Guru, by finding his own self. Don"t waste your time on trying to make out whether the advice you get flows from knowledge only, or from valid experience! Just follow it faithfully. Life will bring you another Guru, if another one is needed. Or deprive you of all outer guidance and leave you to your own lights. It is very important to understand that it is the teaching that matters, not the person or the Guru. You get a letter that makes you laugh or cry. It is not the postman who does it. The Guru only tells you the good news about your real Self and shows you the way back to it. In a way the Guru is its messenger. There will be many messengers, but the message is one: be what you are. Or, you can put it differently: Until you realise yourself, you cannot know who is your real Guru. When you realise, you find that all the Gurus you had have contributed to your awakening. Your realisation is the proof that your Guru was real. Therefore, take him as he is, do what he tells you, with earnestness and zeal and trust your heart to warn you if anything goes wrong. If doubt sets in, don"t fight it. Cling to what is doubtless and leave the doubtful alone.
Q: I have a Guru and I love him very much. But whether he is my true Guru I do not know.
M: Watch yourself. If you see yourself changing, growing, it means you have found the right man. He may be beautiful or ugly, pleasant or unpleasant, flattering you or scolding; nothing matters except the one crucial fact of inward growth. If you don"t, well, he may be your friend, but not your Guru.
Q: When I meet a European with some education and talk to him about a Guru and his teachings, his reaction is: "the man must be mad to teach such nonsense". What am I to tell him?
M: Take him to himself. Show him, how little he knows himself, how he takes the most absurd statements about himself for holy truth. He is told that he is the body, was born, will die, has parents, duties, learns to like what others like and fear what others fear. Totally a creature of heredity and society, he lives by memory and acts by habits. Ignorant of himself and his true interests, he pursues false aims and is always frustrated. His life and death are meaningless and painful, and there seems to be no way out. Then tell him, there is a way out within his easy reach, not a conversion to another set of ideas, but a liberation from all ideas and patterns of living. Don"t tell him about Gurus and disciples -- this way of thinking is not for him. His is an inner path, he is moved by an inner urge and guided by an inner light. Invite him to rebel and he will respond. Do not try to impress on him that so-and-so is a realised man and can be accepted as a Guru. As long as he does not trust himself, he cannot trust another. And confidence will come with experience.
Q: How strange! I cannot imagine life without a Guru.
M: It is a matter of temperament. You too are right. For you, singing the praises of God is enough. You need not desire realisation or take up a sadhana. God"s name is all the food you need. Live on it.
Q: This constant repetition of a few words, is it not a kind of madness?
M: It is madness, but it is a deliberate madness. All repetitiveness is tamas, but repeating the name of God is sattva-tamas due to its high purpose. Because of the presence of sattva, the tamas will wear out and will take the shape of complete dispassion, detachment, relinquishment, aloofness, immutability. Tamas becomes the firm foundation on which an integrated life can be lived.
Q: The immutable -- does it die?
M: It is changing that dies. The immutable neither lives nor dies; it is the timeless witness of life and death. You cannot call it dead, for it is aware. Nor can you call it alive, for it does not change. It is just like your tape-recorder. It records, it reproduces -- all by itself. You only listen. Similarly, I watch all that happens, including my talking to you. It is not me who talks, the words appear in my mind and then I hear them said.
Q: Is it not the case with everybody?
M: Who said no? But you insist that you think, you speak, while to me there is thinking, there is speaking.
Q: There are two cases to consider. Either I have found a Guru, or I have not. In each case what is the right thing to do?
M: You are never without a Guru, for he is timelessly present in your heart. Sometimes he externalises himself and comes to you as an uplifting and reforming factor in your life, a mother, a wife, a teacher; or he remains as an inner urge toward righteousness and perfection. All you have to do is obey him and do what he tells you. What he wants you to do is simple, learn self-awareness, self-control, self-surrender. It may seem arduous, but it is easy if you are earnest. And quite impossible if you are not. Earnestness is both necessary and sufficient. Everything yields to earnestness.
Q: What makes one earnest?
M: Compassion is the foundation of earnestness. Compassion for yourself and others, born of suffering, your own and others.
Q: Must I suffer to be earnest?
M: You need not, if you are sensitive and respond to the suffering of others, as Buddha did. But if you are callous and without pity, your own suffering will make you ask the inevitable questions.
Q: I find myself suffering, but not enough. Life is unpleasant, but bearable. My little pleasures compensate me for my small pains and on the whole I am better off than most of the people I know. I know that my condition is precarious, that a calamity can overtake me any moment. Must I wait for a crisis to put me on my way to truth?
M: The moment you have seen how fragile is your condition, you are already alert. Now, keep alert, give attention, enquire, investigate, discover your mistakes of mind and body and abandon them.
Q: Where is the energy to come from? I am like a paralysed man in a burning house.
M: Even paralysed people sometimes find their legs in a moment of danger! But you are not paralysed, you merely imagine so. Make the first step and you will be on your way.
Q: I feel my hold on the body is so strong that I just cannot give up the idea that I am the body. It will cling to me as long as the body lasts. There are people who maintain that no realisation is possible while alive and I feel inclined to agree with them.
M: Before you agree or disagree, why not investigate the very idea of a body? Does the mind appear in the body or the body in the mind? Surely there must be a mind to conceive the "I-am-the-body" idea. A body without a mind cannot be "my body". "My body" is invariably absent when the mind is in abeyance. It is also absent when the mind is deeply engaged in thoughts and feelings. Once you realise that the body depends on the mind, and the mind on consciousness, and consciousness on awareness and not the other way round, your question about waiting for self-realisation till you die is answered. It is not that you must be free from "I-am-the-body" idea first, and then realise the self. It is definitely the other way round -- you cling to the false, because you do not know the true. Earnestness, not perfection, is a precondition to self-realisation. Virtues and powers come with realisation, not before.

85. "I am": The Foundation of all Experience
Questioner: I hear you making statements about yourself like: "I am timeless, immutable beyond attributes", etc. How do you know these things? And what makes you say them?
Maharaj: I am only trying to describe the state before the "I am" arose, but the state itself, being beyond the mind and language, is indescribable.
Q: The "I am" is the foundation of all experience. What you are trying to describe must also be an experience, limited and transitory. You speak of yourself as immutable. I hear the sound of the word, I remember its dictionary meaning, but the experience of being immutable I do not have. How can I break through the barrier and know personally, intimately, what it means to be immutable?
M: The word itself is the bridge. Remember it, think of it, explore it, go round it, look at it from all directions, dive into it with earnest perseverance: endure all delays and disappointments till suddenly the mind turns round, away from the word, towards the reality beyond the word. It is like trying to find a person knowing his name only. A day comes when your enquiries bring you to him and the name becomes reality. Words are valuable, for between the word and its meaning there is a link and if one investigates the word assiduously, one crosses beyond the concept into the experience at the root of it. As a matter of fact, such repeated attempts to go beyond the words is called meditation. Sadhana is but a persistent attempt to cross over from the verbal to the non-verbal. The task seems hopeless until suddenly all becomes clear and simple and so wonderfully easy. But, as long as you are interested in your present way of living, you will shirk from the final leap into the unknown.
Q: Why should the unknown interest me? Of what use is the unknown?
M: Of no use whatsoever. But it is worthwhile to know what keeps you within the narrow confines of the known. It is the full and correct knowledge of the known that takes you to the unknown. You cannot think of it in terms of uses and advantages; to be quite detached, beyond the reach of all self-concern, all selfish consideration, is an inescapable condition of liberation. You may call it death; to me it is living at its most meaningful and intense, for I am one with life in its totality and fullness -- intensity, meaningfulness, harmony; what more do you want?
Q: Nothing more is needed, of course. But you are talking of the knowable.
M: Of the unknowable only silence talks. The mind can talk only of what it knows. If you diligently investigate the knowable, it dissolves and only the unknowable remains. But with the first flicker of imagination and interest the unknowable is obscured and the known comes to the fore-front. The known, the changeable, is what you live with -- the unchangeable is of no use to you. It is only when you are satiated with the changeable and long for the unchangeable, that you are ready for the turning round and stepping into what can be described, when seen from the level of the mind, as emptiness and darkness. For the mind craves for content and variety, while reality is, to the mind, contentless and invariable.
Q: It looks like death to me.
M: It is. It is also all-pervading, all-conquering, intense beyond words. No ordinary brain can stand it without being shattered; hence the absolute need for sadhana. Purity of body and clarity of mind, non-violence and selflessness in life are essential for survival as an intelligent and spiritual entity.
Q: Are there entities in reality?
M: Identity is Reality, Reality is identity. Reality is not shapeless mass, a wordless chaos. It is powerful, aware, blissful; compared to it your life is like a candle to the sun.
Q: By the grace of God and your teacher"s you lost all desire and fear and reached the immovable state. My question is simple -- how do you know that your state is immovable?
M: Only the changeable can be thought of and talked about. The unchangeable can only be realised in silence. Once realised, it will deeply affect the changeable, itself remaining unaffected.
Q: How do you know that you are the witness?
M: I do not know, I am. I am, because to be everything must be witnessed.
Q: Existence can also be accepted on hearsay.
M: Still, finally you come to the need of a direct witness. Witnessing, if not personal and actual, must at least be possible and feasible. Direct experience is the final proof.
Q: Experience may be faulty and misleading.
M: Quite, but not the fact of an experience. Whatever may be the experience, true or false, the fact of an experience taking place cannot be denied. It is its own proof. Watch yourself closely and you will see that whatever be the content of consciousness, the witnessing of it does not depend on the content. Awareness is itself and does not change with the event. The event may be pleasant or unpleasant, minor or important, awareness is the same. Take note of the peculiar nature of pure awareness, its natural self-identity, without the least trace of self-consciousness, and go to the root of it and you will soon realise that awareness is your true nature and nothing you may be aware of, you can call your own.
Q: Is not consciousness and its content one and the same?
M: Consciousness is like a cloud in the sky and the water drops are the content. The cloud needs the sun to become visible, and consciousness needs being focussed in awareness.
Q: Is not awareness a form of consciousness?
M: When the content is viewed without likes and dislikes, the consciousness of it is awareness. But still there is a difference between awareness as reflected in consciousness and pure awareness beyond consciousness. Reflected awareness, the sense "I am aware" is the witness, while pure awareness is the essence of reality. Reflection of the sun in a drop of water is the reflection of the sun, no doubt, but not the sun itself. Between awareness reflected in consciousness as the witness and pure awareness there is a gap, which the mind cannot cross.
Q: Does it not depend on the way you look at it? The mind says there is a difference. The heart says there is none.
M: Of course there is no difference. The real sees the real in the unreal. It is the mind that creates the unreal and it is the mind that sees the false as false.
Q: I understood that the experience of the real follows seeing the false as false.
M: There is no such thing as the experience of the real. The real is beyond experience. All experience is in the mind. You know the real by being real.
Q: If the real is beyond words and mind, why do we talk so much about it?
M: For the joy of it, of course. The real is bliss supreme. Even to talk of it is happiness.
Q: I hear you talking of the unshakable and blissful. What is in your mind when you use these words?
M: There is nothing in my mind. As you hear the words, so do I hear them. The power that makes everything happen makes them also happen.
Q: But you are speaking, not me.
M: That is how it appears to you. As I see it, two body-minds exchange symbolic noises. In reality nothing happens.
Q: Listen Sir. I am coming to you because I am in trouble. I am a poor soul lost in a world I do not understand. I am afraid of Mother Nature who wants me to grow, procreate and die. When I ask for the meaning and purpose of all this, she does not answer. I have come to you because I was told that you are kind and wise. You talk about the changeable as false and transient and this I can understand. But when you talk of the immutable, I feel lost. "Not this, not that, beyond knowledge, of no use" -- why talk of it all? Does it exist, or is it a concept only, a verbal opposite to the changeable?
M: It is, it alone is. But in your present state it is of no use to you. Just like the glass of water near your bed if of no use to you, when you dream that you are dying of thirst in a desert. I am trying to wake you up, whatever your dream.
Q: Please don"t tell me that I am dreaming and that I will soon wake up. I wish it were so. But I am awake and in pain. You talk of a painless state, but you add that I cannot have it in my present condition. I feel lost.
M: Don"t feel lost. I only say that to find the immutable and blissful you must give up your hold on the mutable and painful. You are concerned with your own happiness and I am telling you that there is no such thing. Happiness is never your own, it is where the "I" is not. I do not say it is beyond your reach; you have only to reach out beyond yourself, and you will find it.
Q: If I have to go beyond myself, why did I get the "I am" idea in the first instance?
M: The mind needs a centre to draw a circle. The circle may grow bigger and with every increase there will be a change in the sense "I am". A man who took himself in hand, a Yogi, will draw a spiral, yet the centre will remain, however vast the spiral. A day comes when the entire enterprise is seen as false and given up. The central point is no more and the universe becomes the centre.
Q: Yes, maybe. But what am I to do now?
M: Assiduously watch your ever-changing life, probe deeply into the motives beyond your actions and you will soon prick the bubble in which you are enclosed. A chic needs the shell to grow, but a day comes when the shell must be broken. If it is not, there will be suffering and death.
Q: Do you mean to say that if I do not take to Yoga, I am doomed to extinction?
M: There is the Guru who will come to your rescue. In the meantime be satisfied with watching the flow of your life; if your watchfulness is deep and steady, ever turned towards the source, it will gradually move upstream till suddenly it becomes the source. Put your awareness to work, not your mind. The mind is not the right instrument for this task. The timeless can be reached only by the timeless. Your body and your mind are both subject to time; Only awareness is timeless, even in the now. In awareness you are facing facts and reality is fond of facts.
Q: You rely entirely on my awareness to take me over and not on the Guru and God.
M: God gives the body and the mind and the Guru shows the way to use them. But returning to the source is your own task.
Q: God has created me, he will look after me.
M: There are innumerable gods, each in his own universe. They create and re-create eternally. Are you going to wait for them to save you? What you need for salvation is already within your reach. Use it. Investigate what you know to its very end and you will reach the unknown layers of your being. Go further and the unexpected will explode in you and shatter all.
Q: Does it mean death?
M: It means life -- at last.

86. The Unknown is the Home of the Real
Questioner: Who is the Guru and who is the supreme Guru?
Maharaj: All that happens in your consciousness is your Guru. And pure awareness beyond consciousness is the supreme Guru.
Q: My Guru is Sri Babaji. What is your opinion of him?
M: What a question to ask! The space in Bombay is asked what is its opinion of the space in Poona. The names differ, but not the space. The word "Babaji" is merely as address. Who lives under the address? You ask questions when you are in trouble. Enquire who is giving trouble and to whom.
Q: I understand everybody is under the obligation to realise. Is it his duty, or his destiny?
M: Realisation is of the fact that you are not a person. Therefore, it cannot be the duty of the person whose destiny is to disappear. Its destiny is the duty of him who imagines himself to be the person. Find out who he is and the imagined person will dissolve. Freedom is from something. What are you to be free from? Obviously, you must be free from the person, you take yourself to be, for it is the idea you have of yourself that keeps you in bondage.
Q: How is the person removed?
M: By determination. Understand that it must go and wish it to go -- it shall go if you are earnest about it. Somebody, anybody, will tell you that you are pure consciousness, not a body-mind. Accept it as a possibility and investigate earnestly. You may discover that it is not so, that you are not a person bound in space and time. Think of the difference it would make!
Q: If I am not a person, then what am I?
M: Wet cloth looks, feels, smells differently as long as it is wet. When dry it is again the normal cloth. Water has left it and who can make out that it was wet? Your real nature is not like what you appear to be. Give up the idea of being a person, that is all. You need not become what you are anyhow. There is the identity of what you are and there is the person superimposed on it. All you know is the person, the identity -- which is not a person -- you do not know, for you never doubted, never asked yourself the crucial question -- "Who am I". The identity is the witness of the person and sadhana consists in shifting the emphasis from the superficial and changeful person to the immutable and ever-present witness.
Q: How is it that the question "Who am I" attracts me little? I prefer to spend my time in the sweet company of saints.
M: Abiding in your own being is also holy company. If you have no problem of suffering and release from suffering, you will not find the energy and persistence needed for self-enquiry. You cannot manufacture a crisis. It must be genuine.
Q: How does a genuine crisis happen?
M: It happens every moment, but you are not alert enough. A shadow on your neighbour"s face, the immense and all-pervading sorrow of existence is a constant factor in your life, but you refuse to take notice. You suffer and see others suffer, but you don"t respond.
Q: What you say is true, but what can I do about it? Such indeed is the situation. My helplessness and dullness are a part of it.
M: Good enough. Look at yourself steadily -- it is enough. The door that locks you in, is also the door that lets you out. The "I am" is the door. Stay at it until it opens. As a matter of fact, it is open, only you are not at it. You are waiting at the non-existent painted doors, which will never open.
Q: Many of us were taking drugs at some time, and to some extent. People told us to take drugs in order to break through into higher levels of consciousness. Others advised us to have abundant sex for the same purpose. What is your opinion in the matter?
M: No doubt, a drug that can affect your brain can also affect your mind, and give you all the strange experiences promised. But what are all the drugs compared to the drug that gave you this most unusual experience of being born and living in sorrow and fear, in search of happiness, which does not come, or does not last. You should enquire into the nature of this drug and find an antidote.
Birth, life, death -- they are one. Find out what had caused them. Before you were born, you were already drugged. What kind of drug was it? You may cure yourself of all diseases, but if you are still under the influence of the primordial drug, of what use are the superficial cures?
Q: Is it not karma that causes rebirth?
M: You may change the name, but the fact remains. What is the drug which you call karma or destiny? It made you believe yourself to be what you are not. What is it, and can you be free of it? Before you go further you must accept, at least as a working theory, that you are not what you appear to be, that you are under the influence of a drug. Then only will you have the urge and the patience to examine the symptoms and search for their common cause. All that a Guru can tell you is: "My dear Sir, you are quite mistaken about yourself. You are not the person you think yourself to be." Trust nobody, not even yourself. Search, find out, remove and reject every assumption till you reach the living waters and the rock of truth. Until you are free of the drug, all your religions and sciences, prayers and Yogas are of no use to you, for based on a mistake, they strengthen it. But if you stay with the idea that you are not the body nor the mind, not even their witness, but altogether beyond, your mind will grow in clarity, your desires -- in purity, your actions -- in charity and that inner distillation will take you to another world, a world of truth and fearless love. Resist your old habits of feeling and thinking; keep on telling yourself: "No, not so, it cannot be so; I am not like this, I do not need it, I do not want it", and a day will surely come when the entire structure of error and despair will collapse and the ground will be free for a new life. After all, you must remember, that all your preoccupations with yourself are only in your waking hours and partly in your dreams; in sleep all is put aside and forgotten. It shows how little important is your waking life, even to yourself, that merely lying down and closing the eyes can end it. Each time you go to sleep you do so without the least certainty of waking up and yet you accept the risk.
Q: When you sleep, are you conscious or unconscious?
M: I remain conscious, but not conscious of being a particular person.
Q: Can you give us the taste of the experience of self-realisation?
M: Take the whole of it! It is here for the asking. But you do not ask. Even when you ask, you do not take. Find out what prevents you from taking.
Q: I know what prevents -- my ego.
M: Then get busy with your ego -- leave me alone. As long as you are locked up within your mind, my state is beyond your grasp.
Q: I find I have no more questions to ask.
M: Were you really at war with your ego, you would have put many more questions. You are short of questions because you are not really interested. At present you are moved by the pleasure-pain principle which is the ego. You are going along with the ego, you are not fighting it. You are not even aware how totally you are swayed by personal considerations. A man should always revolt against himself, for the ego, like a crooked mirror, narrows down and distorts. It is the worst of all the tyrants, it dominates you absolutely.
Q: When there is no "I" who is free?
M: The world is free of a mighty nuisance. Good enough.
Q: Good for whom?
M: Good for everybody. It is like a rope stretched across the street, it snarls up the traffic. Roll up, it is there, as mere identity, useful when needed. Freedom from the ego-self is the fruit of self-enquiry.
Q: There was a time when I was most displeased with myself. Now I have met my Guru and I am at peace, after having surrendered myself to him completely.
M: If you watch your daily life you will see that you have surrendered nothing. You have merely added the word "surrender" to your vocabulary and made your Guru into a peg to hang your problems on. Real surrender means doing nothing, unless prompted by your Guru. You step, so to say, aside and let your Guru live your life. You merely watch and wonder how easily he solves the problems which to you seemed insoluble.
Q: As I sit here, I see the room, the people. I see you too. How does it look at your end? What do you see?
M: Nothing. I look, but I do not see in the sense of creating images clothed with judgements. I do not describe nor evaluate. I look, I see you, but neither attitude nor opinion cloud my vision. And when I turn my eyes away, my mind does not allow memory to linger; it is at once free and fresh for the next impression.
Q: As I am here, looking at you, I cannot locate the event in space and time. There is something eternal and universal about the transmission of wisdom that is taking place. Ten thousand years earlier, or later, make no difference -- the event itself is timeless.
M: Man does not change much over the ages. Human problems remain the same and call for the same answers. Your being conscious of what you call transmission of wisdom shows that wisdom has not yet been transmitted. When you have it, you are no longer conscious of it. What is really your own, you are not conscious of. What you are conscious of is neither you nor yours. Yours is the power of perception, not what you perceive. It is a mistake to take the conscious to be the whole of man. Man is the unconscious, conscious and the super-conscious, but you are not the man. Yours is the cinema screen, the light as well as the seeing power, but the picture is not you.
Q: Must I search for the Guru, or shall I stay with whomever I have found?
M: The very question shows that you have not yet found one. As long as you have not realised, you will move from Guru to Guru, but when you have found yourself, the search will end. A Guru is a milestone. When you are on the move, you pass so many milestones. When you have reached your destination, it is the last alone that mattered. In reality all mattered at their own time and none matters now.
Q: You seem to give no importance to the Guru. He is merely an incident among others.
M: All incidents contribute, but none is crucial. On the road each step helps you reach your destination, and each is as crucial as the other, for each step must be made, you cannot skip it. If you refuse to make it, you are stuck!
Q: Everybody sings the glories of the Guru, while you compare him to a milestone. Don"t we need a Guru?
M: Don"t we need a milestone? Yes and no. Yes, if we are uncertain, no if we know our way. Once we are certain in ourselves, the Guru is no longer needed, except in a technical sense. Your mind is an instrument, after all, and you should know how to use it. As you are taught the uses of your body, so you should know how to use your mind.
Q: What do I gain by learning to use my mind?
M: You gain freedom from desire and fear, which are entirely due to wrong uses of the mind. Mere mental knowledge is not enough. The known is accidental, the unknown is the home of the real. To live in the known is bondage, to live in the unknown is liberation.
Q: I have understood that all spiritual practice consists in the elimination of the personal self. Such practice demands iron determination and relentless application. Where to find the integrity and energy for such work?
M: You find it in the company of the wise?
Q: How do I know who is wise and who is merely clever?
M: If your motives are pure, if you seek truth and nothing else, you will find the right people. Finding them is easy, what is difficult is to trust them and take full advantage of their advice and guidance.
Q: Is the waking state more important for spiritual practice than sleep?
M: On the whole we attach too much importance, to the waking state. Without sleep the waking state would be impossible; without sleep one goes mad or dies; why attach so much importance to waking consciousness, which is obviously dependent on the unconscious? Not only the conscious but the unconscious as well should be taken care of in our spiritual practice.
Q: How does one attend to the unconscious?
M: Keep the "I am" in the focus of awareness, remember that you are, watch yourself ceaselessly and the unconscious will flow into the conscious without any special effort on your part. Wrong desires and fears, false ideas, social inhibitions are blocking and preventing its free interplay with the conscious. Once free to mingle, the two become one and the one becomes all. The person merges into the witness, the witness into awareness, awareness into pure being, yet identity is not lost, only its limitations are lost. It is transfigured, and becomes the real Self, the sadguru, the eternal friend and guide. You cannot approach it in worship. No external activity can reach the inner self; worship and prayers remain on the surface only; to go deeper meditation is essential, the striving to go beyond the states of sleep, dream and waking. In the beginning the attempts are irregular, then they recur more often, become regular, then continuous and intense, until all obstacles are conquered.
Q: Obstacles to what?
M: To self-forgetting.
Q: If worship and prayers are ineffectual why do you worship daily, with songs and music, the image of your Guru!
M: Those who want it, do it. I see no purpose in interfering.
Q: But you take part in it.
M: Yes, it appears so. But why be so concerned with me? Give all your attention to the question: "What is it that makes me conscious?", until your mind becomes the question itself and cannot think of anything else.
Q: All and sundry are urging me to meditate. I find no zest in meditation, but I am interested in many other things; some I want very much and my mind goes to them; my attempts at meditation are so half-hearted. What am I to do?
M: Ask yourself: "To whom it all happens?" Use everything as an opportunity to go within. Light your way by burning up obstacles in the intensity of awareness. When you happen to desire or fear, it is not the desire or fear that are wrong and must go, but the person who desires and fears. There is no point in fighting desires and fears which may be perfectly natural and justified; It is the person, who is swayed by them, that is the cause of mistakes, past and future. The person should be carefully examined and its falseness seen; then its power over you will end. After all, it subsides each time you go to sleep. In deep sleep you are not a self-conscious person, yet you are alive. When you are alive and conscious, but no longer self-conscious, you are not a person anymore. During the waking hours you are, as if, on the stage, playing a role, but what are you when the play is over? You are what you are; what you were before the play began you remain when it is over. Look at yourself as performing on the stage of life. The performance may be splendid or clumsy, but you are not in it, you merely watch it; with interest and sympathy, of course, but keeping in mind all the time that you are only watching while the play -- life -- is going on.
Q: You are always stressing the cognition aspect of reality. You hardly ever mention affection, and will -- never?
M: Will, affection, bliss, striving and enjoying are so deeply tainted with the personal, that they cannot be trusted. The clarification and purification needed at the very start of the journey, only awareness can give. Love and will shall have their turn, but the ground must be prepared. The sun of awareness must rise first -- all else will follow.

87. Keep the Mind Silent and You shall Discover
Questioner: Once I had a strange experience. I was not, nor was the world, there was only light -- within and without -- and immense peace. This lasted for four days and then I returned to the every-day consciousness.
Now I have a feeling that all I know is merely a scaffolding, covering and hiding the building under construction. The architect, the design, the plans, the purpose -- nothing I know; some activity is going on, things are happening; that is all I can say. I am that scaffolding, some thing very flimsy and short-lived; when the building is ready, the scaffolding will be dismantled and removed. The "I am" and the "What am I" are of no importance, because once the building is ready, the "I" will go as a matter of course, leaving no questions about itself to answer.
Maharaj: Are you not aware of all this? Is not the fact of awareness the constant factor?
Q: My sense of permanency and identity is due to memory, which is so evanescent and unreliable. How little I remember, even of the recent past! I have lived a life-time, and now what is left with me? A bundle of events, at best a short story.
M: All this takes place within your consciousness.
Q: Within and without. In daytime -- within; in the night -- without. Consciousness is not all. So many things happen beyond its reach. To say that what I am not conscious of does not exist, is altogether wrong.
M: What you say is logical, but actually you know only what is in your consciousness. What you claim exists outside conscious experience is inferred.
Q: It may be inferred and yet it is more real than the sensory.
M: Be careful. The moment you start talking you create a verbal universe, a universe of words, ideas, concepts and abstractions, interwoven and inter-dependent, most wonderfully generating, supporting and explaining each other and yet all without essence or substance, mere creations of the mind. Words create words, reality is silent.
Q: When you talk, I hear you. Is it not a fact?
M: That you hear is a fact. What you hear -- is not. The fact can be experienced, and in that sense the sound of the word and the mental ripples it causes are experienced. There is no other reality behind it. Its meaning is purely conventional, to be remembered; a language can be easily forgotten, unless practiced.
Q: If words have no reality in them why talk at all?
M: They serve their limited purpose of inter-personal communication. Words do not convey facts, they signal them. Once you are beyond the person, you need no words.
Q: What can take me beyond the person? How to go beyond consciousness?
M: Words and questions come from the mind and hold you there. To go beyond the mind, you must be silent and quiet. Peace and silence, silence and peace -- this is the way beyond. Stop asking questions.
Q: Once I give up asking questions, what am I to do?
M: What can you do but wait and watch?
Q: What am I to wait for?
M: For the centre of your being to emerge into consciousness. The three states -- sleeping, dreaming and waking are all in consciousness, the manifested; what you call unconsciousness will also be manifested -- in time; beyond consciousness altogether lies the unmanifested. And beyond all, and pervading all, is the heart of being which beats steadily -- manifested-unmanifested; manifested-unmanifested (saguna-nirguna).
Q: On the verbal level it sounds all right. I can visualise myself as the seed of being, a point in consciousness, with my sense "I am" pulsating, appearing and disappearing alternately. But what am I to do to realise it as a fact, to go beyond into the changeless, wordless Reality?
M: You can do nothing. What time has brought about, time will take away.
Q: Why then all these exhortations to practice Yoga and seek reality? They make me feel empowered and responsible, while in fact it is time that does all.
M: This is the end of Yoga -- to realise independence. All that happens, happens in and to the mind, not to the source of the "I am". Once you realise that all happens by itself, (call it destiny, or the will of God or mere accident), you remain as witness only, understanding and enjoying, but not perturbed.
Q: If I cease trusting words altogether, what will be my condition?
M: There is a season for trusting and for distrusting. Let the seasons do their work, why worry?
Q: Somehow I feel responsible for what happens around me.
M: You are responsible only for what you can change. All you can change is only your attitude. There lies your responsibility.
Q: You are advising me to remain indifferent to the sorrows of others!
M: It is not that you are indifferent. All the sufferings of mankind do not prevent you from enjoying your next meal. The witness is not indifferent. He is the fullness of understanding and compassion. Only as the witness you can help another.
Q: All my life I was fed on words. The number of words I have heard and read go into the billions. Did it benefit me? Not at all!
M: The mind shapes the language and the language shapes the mind. Both are tools, use them but don"t misuse them. Words can bring you only unto their own limit; to go beyond, you must abandon them. Remain as the silent witness only.
Q: How can I? The world disturbs me greatly.
M: It is because you think yourself big enough to be affected by the world. It is not so. You are so small that nothing can pin you down. It is your mind that gets caught, not you. Know yourself as you are -- a mere point in consciousness, dimensionless and timeless. You are like the point of the pencil -- by mere contact with you the mind draws its picture of the world. You are single and simple -- the picture is complex and extensive. Don"t be misled by the picture -- remain aware of the tiny point -- which is everywhere in the picture.
What is, can cease to be; what is not, can come to be; but what neither is nor is not, but on which being and non-being depend, is unassailable; know yourself to be the cause of desire and fear, itself free from both.
Q: How am I the cause of fear?
M: All depends on you. It is by your consent that the world exists. Withdraw your belief in its reality and it will dissolve like a dream. Time can bring down mountains; much more you, who are the timeless source of time. For without memory and expectation there can be no time.
Q: Is the "I am" the Ultimate?
M: Before you can say: "I am", you must be there to say it. Being need not be self-conscious. You need not know to be, but you must be to know.
Q: Sir, I am getting drowned in a sea of words! I can see that all depends on how the words are out together, but there must be somebody to put them together -- meaningfully. By drawing words at random the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavata could never be produced. The theory of accidental emergence is not tenable. The origin of the meaningful must be beyond it. What is the power that creates order out of chaos? Living is more than being, and consciousness is more than living. Who is the conscious living being?
M: Your question contains the answer: a conscious living being is a conscious living being. The words are most appropriate, but you do not grasp their full import. Go deep into the meaning of the words: being, living, conscious, and you will stop running in circles, asking questions, but missing answers. Do understand that you cannot ask a valid question about yourself, because you do not know whom you are asking about. In the question "Who am I?" the "I" is not known and the question can be worded as: “I do not know what I mean by "I"” What you are, you must find out. I can only tell you what you are not. You are not of the world, you are not even in the world. The world is not, you alone are. You create the world in your imagination like a dream. As you cannot separate the dream from yourself, so you cannot have an outer world independent of yourself. You are independent, not the world. Don"t be afraid of a world you yourself have created. Cease from looking for happiness and reality in a dream and you will wake up. You need not know "why" and "how", there is no end to questions. Abandon all desires, keep your mind silent and you shall discover.

88. Knowledge by the Mind, is not True Knowledge
Questioner: Do you experience the three states of waking, dreaming and sleeping just as we do, or otherwise?
Maharaj: All the three states are sleep to me. My waking state is beyond them. As I look at you, you all seem asleep, dreaming up words of your own. I am aware, for I imagine nothing. It is not samadhi which is but a kind of sleep. It is just a state unaffected by the mind, free from the past and future. In your case it is distorted by desire and fear, by memories and hopes; in mine it is as it is -- normal. To be a person is to be asleep.
Q: Between the body and pure awareness stands the "inner organ", antahkarana, the "subtle body", the "mental body", whatever the name. Just as a whirling mirror converts sunlight into a manifold pattern of streaks and colours, so does the subtle body convert the simple light of the shining Self into a diversified world. Thus I have understood your teaching. What I cannot grasp is how did this subtle body arise in the first instance?
M: It is created with the emergence of the "I am" idea. The two are one.
Q: How did the "I am" appear?
M: In your world everything must have a beginning and an end. If it does not, you call it eternal. In my view there is no such thing as beginning or end -- these are all related to time. Timeless being is entirely in the now.
Q: The antahkarana, or the "subtle body", is it real or unreal?
M: It is momentary. Real when present, unreal when over.
Q: What kind of reality? Is it momentary?
M: Call it empirical, or actual, or factual. It is the reality of immediate experience, here and now, which cannot be denied. You can question the description and the meaning, but not the event itself. Being and non-being alternate and their reality is momentary. The Immutable Reality lies beyond space and time. Realise the momentariness of being and non-being and be free from both.
Q: Things may be transient, yet they are very much with us, in endless repetition.
M: Desires are strong. It is desire that causes repetition. There is no recurrence where desire is not.
Q: What about fear?
M: Desire is of the past, fear is of the future. The memory of past suffering and the fear of its recurrence make one anxious about the future.
Q: There is also fear of the unknown.
M: Who has not suffered is not afraid.
Q: We are condemned to fear?
M: Until we can look at fear and accept it as the shadow of personal existence, as persons we are bound to be afraid. Abandon all personal equations and you shall be free from fear. It is not difficult. Desirelessness comes on its own when desire is recognised as false. You need not struggle with desire. Ultimately, it is an urge to happiness, which is natural as long as there is sorrow. Only see that there is no happiness in what you desire.
Q: We settle for pleasure.
M: Each pleasure is wrapped in pain. You soon discover that you cannot have one without the other.
Q: There is the experiencer and there is his experience. What created the link between the two?
M: Nothing created it. It is. The two are one.
Q: I feel there is a catch somewhere, but I do not know where.
M: The catch is in your mind, which insists on seeing duality where there is none.
Q: As I listen to you, my mind is all in the now and I am astonished to find myself without questions.
M: You can know reality only when you are astonished.
Q: I can make out that the cause of anxiety and fear is memory. What are the means for putting an end to memory?
M: Don"t talk of means, there are no means. What you see as false, dissolves. It is the very nature of illusion to dissolve on investigation. Investigate -- that is all. You cannot destroy the false, for you are creating it all the time. Withdraw from it, ignore it, go beyond, and it will cease to be.
Q: Christ also speaks of ignoring evil and being child-like.
M: Reality is common to all. Only the false is personal.
Q: As I watch the sadhakas and enquire into the theories by which they live, I find they have merely replaced material cravings by "spiritual" ambitions. From what you tell us it looks as if the words: "spiritual" and "ambition" are incompatible. If "spirituality" implies freedom from ambition, what will urge the seeker on? The Yogis speak of the desire for liberation as essential. Is it not the highest form of ambition?
M: Ambition is personal, liberation is from the personal. In liberation both the subject and the object of ambition are no longer. Earnestness is not a yearning for the fruits of one"s endeavours. It is an expression of an inner shift of interest away from the false, unessential, the personal.
Q: You told us the other day that we cannot even dream of perfection before realisation, for the Self is the source of all perfection and not the mind. If it is not excellence in virtue that is essential for liberation, then what is?
M: Liberation is not the result of some means skilfully applied, nor of circumstances. It is beyond the causal process. Nothing can compel it, nothing can prevent it.
Q: Then why are we not free here and now?
M: But we are free "here and now". It is only the mind that imagines bondage.
Q: What will put an end to imagination?
M: Why should you want to put an end to it? Once you know your mind and its miraculous powers, and remove what poisoned it -- the idea of a separate and isolated person -- you just leave it alone to do its work among things to which it is well suited. To keep the mind in its own place and on its own work is the liberation of the mind.
Q: What is the work of the mind?
M: The mind is the wife of the heart and the world their home -- to be kept bright and happy.
Q: I have not yet understood why, if nothing stands in the way of liberation, it does not happen here and now.
M: Nothing stands in the way of your liberation and it can happen here and now, but for your being more interested in other things. And you cannot fight with your interests. You must go with them, see through them and watch them reveal themselves as mere errors of judgement and appreciation.
Q: Will it not help me if I go and stay with some great and holy man?
M: Great and holy people are always within your reach, but you do not recognise them. How will you know who is great and holy? By hearsay? Can you trust others in these matters, or even yourself? To convince you beyond the shadow of doubt you need more than a commendation, more even than a momentary rapture. You may come across a great and holy man or women and not even know for a long time your good fortune. The infant son of a great man for many years will not know the greatness of his father. You must mature to recognise greatness and purify your heart for holiness. Or you will spend your time and money in vain and also miss what life offers you. There are good people among your friends -- you can learn much from them. Running after saints is merely another game to play. Remember yourself instead and watch your daily life relentlessly. Be earnest, and you shall not fail to break the bonds of inattention and imagination.
Q: Do you want me to struggle all alone?
M: You are never alone. There are powers and presences who serve you all the time most faithfully. You may or may not perceive them, nevertheless they are real and active. When you realise that all is in your mind and that you are beyond the mind, that you are truly alone; then all is you.
Q: What is omniscience? Is God omniscient? Are you omniscient? We hear the expression -- universal witness. What does it mean? Does self-realisation imply omniscience? Or is it a matter of specialised training?
M: To lose entirely all interest in knowledge results in omniscience. It is but the gift of knowing what needs to be known, at the right moment, for error-free action. After all, knowledge is needed for action and if you act rightly, spontaneously, without bringing in the conscious, so much the better.
Q: Can one know the mind of another person?
M: Know you own mind first. It contains the entire universe and with space to spare!
Q: Your working theory seems to be that the waking state is not basically different from dream and the dreamless sleep. The three states are essentially a case of mistaken self-identification with the body. Maybe it is true, but, I feel, it is not the whole truth.
M: Do not try to know the truth, for knowledge by the mind is not true knowledge. But you can know what is not true -- which is enough to liberate you from the false. The idea that you know what is true is dangerous, for it keeps you imprisoned in the mind. It is when you do not know, that you are free to investigate. And there can be no salvation, without investigation, because non-investigation is the main cause of bondage.
Q: You say that the illusion of the world begins with the sense "I am", but when I ask about the origin of the sense "I am", you answer that it has no origin, for on investigation it dissolves. What is solid enough to build the world on cannot be mere illusion. The "I am" is the only changeless factor I am conscious of; how can it be false?
M: It is not the "I am" that is false, but what you take yourself to be. I can see, beyond the least shadow of doubt, that you are not what you believe yourself to be. Logic or no logic, you cannot deny the obvious. You are nothing that you are conscious of. Apply yourself diligently to pulling apart the structure you have built in your mind. What the mind has done the mind must undo.
Q: You cannot deny the present moment, mind or no mind. What is now, is. You may question the appearance, but not the fact. What is at the root of the fact?
M: The "I am" is at the root of all appearance and the permanent link in the succession of events that we call life; but I am beyond the "I am".
Q: I have found that the realised people usually describe their state in terms borrowed from their religion. You happen to be a Hindu, so you talk of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and use Hindu approaches and imagery. Kindly tell us, what is the experience behind your words? What reality do they refer to?
M: It is my way of talking, a language I was taught to use.
Q: But what is behind the language?
M: How can I put it into words, except in negating them? Therefore, I use words like timeless, spaceless, causeless. These too are words, but as they are empty of meaning, they suit my purpose.
Q: If they are meaningless, why use them?
M: Because you want words where no words apply.
Q: I can see your point. Again, you have robbed me of my question!

89. Progress in Spiritual Life
Questioner: We are two girls from England, visiting India. We know little about Yoga and we are here because we were told that spiritual teachers play an important role in Indian life.
Maharaj: You are welcome. There is nothing new you will find here. The work we are doing is timeless. It was the same ten thousand years ago. Centuries roll on, but the human problem does not change -- the problem of suffering and the ending of suffering.
Q: The other day seven young foreigners have turned up asking for a place to sleep for a few nights. They came to see their Guru who was lecturing in Bombay. I met him -- a very pleasant looking young man is he -- apparently very matter-of-fact and efficient, but with an atmosphere of peace and silence about him. His teaching is traditional with stress on karma Yoga, selfless work, service of the Guru etc. Like the Gita, he says that selfless work will result in salvation. He is full of ambitious plans: training workers who will start spiritual centres in many countries. It seems he gives them not only the authority, but also the power to do the work in his name.
M: Yes, there is such a thing as transmission of power.
Q: When I was with them I had a strange feeling of becoming invisible. The devotees, in their surrender to their Guru surrendered me also! Whatever I did for them was their Guru"s doing and I was not considered, except as a mere instrument. I was merely a tap to turn left or right. There was no personal relationship whatsoever. They tried a little to convert me to their faith; as soon as they felt resistance, they just dropped me from the field of their attention. Even between themselves they did not appear very much related; it is their common interest in their Guru that kept them together. I found it rather cold, almost inhuman. To consider oneself an instrument in God"s hands is one thing; to be denied all attention and consideration because "all is God" may lead to indifference verging on cruelty. After all, all wars are made "in the name of God". The entire history of mankind is a succession of "holy wars". One is never so impersonal as in war!
M: To insist, to resist, are contained in the will to be. Remove the will to be and what remains? Existence and non-existence relate to something in space and time; here and now, there and then, which again are in the mind. The mind plays a guessing game; it is ever uncertain; anxiety-ridden and restless. You resent being treated as a mere instrument of some god, or Guru, and insist on being treated as a person, because you are not sure of your own existence and do not want to give up the comfort and assurance of a personality. You may not be what you believe yourself to be, but it gives you continuity, your future flows into the present and becomes the past without jolts. To be denied personal existence is frightening, but you must face it and find your identity with the totality of life. Then the problem of who is used by whom is no more.
Q: All the attention I got was an attempt to convert me to their faith. When I resisted they lost all interest in me.
M: One does not become a disciple by conversion, or by accident. There is usually an ancient link, maintained through many lives and flowering as love and trust, without which there is no discipleship.
Q: What made you decide to become a teacher?
M: I was made into one by being called so. Who am I to teach and whom? What I am, you are, and what you are -- I am. The "I am" is common to us all; beyond the "I am" there is the immensity of light and love. We do not see it because we look elsewhere; I can only point at the sky; seeing of the star is your own work. Some take more time before they see the star, some take less; it depends on the clarity of their vision and their earnestness in search. These two must be their own -- I can only encourage.
Q: What am I expected to do when I become a disciple?
M: Each teacher has his own method, usually patterned on his Guru"s teachings and on the way he himself has realised, and his own terminology as well. Within that framework adjustments to the personality of the disciple are made. The disciple is given full freedom of thought and enquiry and encouraged to question to his heart"s content. He must be absolutely certain of the standing and competence of his Guru, otherwise his faith will not be absolute nor his action complete. It is the absolute in you that takes you to the absolute beyond you -- absolute truth, love selflessness are the decisive factors in self-realisation. With earnestness these can be reached.
Q: I understand one must give up one"s family and possessions to become a disciple.
M: It varies with the Guru. Some expect their mature disciples to become ascetics and recluses; some encourage family life and duties. Most of them consider a model family life more difficult than renunciation, suitable for a personality more mature and better balanced. At the early stages the discipline of monastic life may be advisable. Therefore, in the Hindu culture students up to the age of 25 are expected to live like monks -- in poverty, chastity and obedience -- to give them a chance to build a character able to meet the hardships and temptations of married life.
Q: Who are the people in this room? Are they your disciples?
M: Ask them. It is not on the verbal level that one becomes a disciple, but in the silent depths of one"s being. You do not become a disciple by choice; it is more a matter of destiny than self-will. It does not matter much who is the teacher -- they all wish you well. It is the disciple that matters -- his honesty and earnestness. The right disciple will always find the right teacher.
Q: I can see the beauty and feel the blessedness of a life devoted to search for truth under a competent and loving teacher. Unfortunately, we have to return to England.
M: Distance does not matter. If your desires are strong and true, they will mould your life for their fulfilment. Sow you seed and leave it to the seasons.
Q: What are the signs of progress in spiritual life?
M: Freedom from anxiety; a sense of ease and joy; deep peace within and abundant energy without.
Q: How did you get it?
M: I found it all in the holy presence of my Guru -- I did nothing on my own. He told me to be quiet -- and I did it -- as much as I could.
Q: Is your presence as powerful as his?
M: How am I to know? For me -- his is the only presence. If you are with me, you are with him.
Q: Each Guru will refer me to his own Guru. Where is the starting point?
M: There is a power in the universe working for enlightenment -- and liberation. We call it Sadashiva, who is ever present in the hearts of men. It is the unifying factor. Unity -- liberates. Freedom -- unites. Ultimately nothing is mine or yours -- everything is ours. Just be one with yourself and you will be one with all, at home in the entire universe.
Q: You mean to say that all these glories will come with the mere dwelling on the feeling "I am"?
M: It is the simple that is certain, not the complicated. Somehow, people do not trust the simple, the easy, the always available. Why not give an honest trial to what I say? It may look very small and insignificant, but it is like a seed that grows into a mighty tree. Give yourself a chance!
Q: I see so many people sitting here -- quietly. What for have they come?
M: To meet themselves. At home the world is too much with them. Here nothing disturbs them; they have a chance to take leave of their daily worries and contact the essential in themselves.
Q: What is the course of training in self-awareness?
M: There is no need of training. Awareness is always with you. The same attention that you give to the outer, you turn to the inner. No new, or special kind of awareness is needed.
Q: Do you help people personally?
M: People come to discuss their problems. Apparently they derive some help, or they would not come.
Q: Are the talks with people always in public, or will you talk to them privately also?
M: It is according to their wish. Personally, I make no distinction between public and private.
Q: Are you always available, or have you other work to do?
M: I am always available, but the hours in the morning and late afternoon are the most convenient.
Q: I understand that no work ranks higher than the work of a spiritual teacher.
M: The motive matters supremely.

90. Surrender to Your Own Self
Questioner: I was born in the United States, and the last fourteen months I have spent in Sri Ramanashram; now I am on my way back to the States where my mother is expecting me.
Maharaj: What are your plans?
Q: I may qualify as a nurse, or just marry and have babies.
M: What makes you want to marry?
Q: providing a spiritual home is the highest form of social service I can think of. But, of course, life may shape otherwise. I am ready for whatever comes.
M: These fourteen months at Sri Ramanashram, what did they give you? In what way are you different from what you were when you arrived there?
Q: I am no longer afraid. I have found some peace.
M: What kind of peace is it? The peace of having what you want, or not wanting what you do not have?
Q: A little of both, I believe. It was not easy at all. While the Ashram is a very peaceful place, inwardly I was in agonies.
M: When you realise that the distinction between inner and outer is in the mind only, you are no longer afraid.
Q: Such realisation comes and goes with me. I have not yet reached the immutability of absolute completeness.
M: Well, as long as you believe so, you must go on with your sadhana, to disperse the false idea of not being complete. Sadhana removes the super-impositions. When you realise yourself as less than a point in space and time, something too small to be cut and too short-lived to be killed, then, and then only, all fear goes. When you are smaller than the point of a needle, then the needle cannot pierce you -- you pierce the needle!
Q: Yes, that is how I feel sometimes -- indomitable. I am more than fearless -- I am fearlessness itself.
M: What made you go to the Ashram?
Q: I had an unhappy love affair and suffered hell. Neither drink nor drugs could help me. I was groping and came across some books on Yoga. From book to book, from clue to clue -- I came to Ramanashram.
M: Were the same tragedy to happen to you again, would you suffer as much, considering your present state of mind?
Q: Oh no, I would not let myself suffer again. I would kill myself.
M: So you are not afraid to die!
Q: I am afraid of dying, not of death itself. I imagine the dying process to be painful and ugly.
M: How do you know? It need not be so. It may be beautiful and peaceful. Once you know that death happens to the body and not to you, you just watch your body falling off like a discarded garment.
Q: I am fully aware that my fear of death is due to apprehension and not knowledge.
M: Human beings die every second, the fear and the agony of dying hangs over the world like a cloud. No wonder you too are afraid. But once you know that the body alone dies and not the continuity of memory and the sense of "I am" reflected in it, you are afraid no longer.
Q: Well, let us die and see.
M: Give attention and you will find that birth and death are one, that life pulsates between being and non-being, and that each needs the other for completeness. You are born to die and you die to be reborn.
Q: Does not detachment stop the process?
M: With detachment the fear goes, but not the fact.
Q: Shall I be compelled to be reborn? How dreadful!
M: There is no compulsion. You get what you want. You make your own plans and you carry them out.
Q: Do we condemn ourselves to suffer?
M: We grow through investigation, and to investigate we need experience. We tend to repeat what we have not understood. If we are sensitive and intelligent, we need not suffer. Pain is a call for attention and the penalty of carelessness. Intelligent and compassionate action is the only remedy.
Q: It is because I have grown in intelligence that I would not tolerate my suffering again. What is wrong with suicide?
M: Nothing wrong, if it solves the problem. What, if it does not? Suffering caused by extraneous factors -- some painful and incurable disease, or unbearable calamity -- may provide some justification, but where wisdom and compassion are lacking, suicide cannot help. A foolish death means foolishness reborn. Besides there is the question of karma to consider. Endurance is usually the wisest course.
Q: Must one endure suffering, however acute and hopeless?
M: Endurance is one thing and helpless agony is another. Endurance is meaningful and fruitful, while agony is useless.
Q: Why worry about karma? It takes care of itself anyhow.
M: Most of our karma is collective. We suffer for the sins of others, as others suffer for ours. Humanity is one. Ignorance of this fact does not change it. We could have been much happier people ourselves, but for our indifference to the sufferings of others.
Q: I find I have grown much more responsive.
M: Good. When you say it, what do you have in mind? Yourself, as a responsive person within a female body?
Q: There is a body and there is compassion and there is memory and a number of things and attitudes; collectively they may be called a person.
M: Including the "I am" idea?
Q: The "I am" is like a basket that holds the many things that make a person.
M: Or, rather, it is the willow of which the basket is woven. When you think of yourself as a women, do you mean that you are a women, or that your body is described as female?
Q: It depends on my mood. Sometimes I feel myself to be a mere centre of awareness.
M: Or, an ocean of awareness. But are there moments when you are neither man nor women, not the accidental, occasioned by circumstances and conditions?
Q: Yes, there are, but I feel shy to talk about it.
M: A hint is all that one can expect. You need not say more.
Q: Am I allowed to smoke in your presence? I know that it is not the custom to smoke before a sage and more so for a women.
M: By all means, smoke, nobody will mind. We understand.
Q: I feel the need of cooling down.
M: It is very often so with Americans and Europeans. After a stretch of sadhana they become charged with energy and frantically seek an outlet. They organise communities, become teachers of Yoga, marry, write books -- anything except keeping quiet and turning their energies within, to find the source of the inexhaustible power and learn the art of keeping it under control.
Q: I admit that now I want to go back and live a very active life, because I feel full of energy.
M: You can do what you like, as long as you do not take yourself to be the body and the mind. It is not so much a question of actual giving up the body and all that goes with it, as a clear understanding that you are not the body. A sense of aloofness, of emotional non-involvement.
Q: I know what you mean. Some four years ago I passed through a period of rejection of the physical; I would not buy myself clothes, would eat the simplest foods, sleep on bare planks. It is the acceptance of the privations that matters, not the actual discomfort. Now I have realised that welcoming life as it comes and loving all it offers, is best of it. I shall accept with glad heart whatever comes and make the best of it. If I can do nothing more than give life and true culture to a few children -- good enough; though my heart goes out to every child, I cannot reach all.
M: You are married and a mother only when you are man-women conscious. When you do not take yourself to be the body, then the family life of the body, however intense and interesting, is seen only as a play on the screen of the mind, with the light of awareness as the only reality.
Q: Why do you insist on awareness as the only real? Is not the object of awareness as real, while it lasts?
M: But it does not last! Momentary reality is secondary; it depends on the timeless.
Q: Do you mean continuous, or permanent?
M: There can be no continuity in existence. Continuity implies identity in past, present and future. No such identity is possible, for the very means of identification fluctuate and change. Continuity, permanency, these are illusions created by memory, mere mental projections of a pattern where no pattern can be; Abandon all ideas of temporary or permanent, body or mind, man or women; what remains? What is the state of your mind when all separation is given up? I am not talking of giving up distinctions, for without them there is no manifestation.
Q: When I do not separate, I am happily at peace. But somehow I lose my bearings again and again and begin to seek happiness in outer things. Why is my inner peace not steady, I cannot understand.
M: Peace, after all, is also a condition of the mind.
Q: Beyond the mind is silence. There is nothing to be said about it.
M: Yes, all talk about silence is mere noise.
Q: Why do we seek worldly happiness, even after having tasted one"s own natural spontaneous happiness?
M: When the mind is engaged in serving the body, happiness is lost. To regain it, it seeks pleasure. The urge to be happy is right, but the means of securing it are misleading, unreliable and destructive of true happiness.
Q: Is pleasure always wrong?
M: The right state and use of the body and the mind are intensely pleasant. It is the search for pleasure that is wrong. Do not try to make yourself happy, rather question your very search for happiness. It is because you are not happy that you want to be happy. Find out why you are unhappy. Because you are not happy you seek happiness in pleasure; pleasure brings in pain and therefore you call it worldly; you then long for some other pleasure, without pain, which you call divine. In reality, pleasure is but a respite from pain. Happiness is both worldly and unworldly, within and beyond all that happens. Make no distinction, don"t separate the inseparable and do not alienate yourself from life.
Q: How well I understand you now! Before my stay at Ramanashram I was tyrannised by conscience, always sitting in judgement of myself. Now I am completely relaxed, fully accepting myself as I am. When I return to the States, I shall take life as it comes, as Bhagavan"s grace, and enjoy the bitter along with the sweet. This is one of the things I have learnt in the Ashram -- to trust Bhagavan. I was not like this before. I could not trust.
M: Trusting Bhagavan is trusting yourself. Be aware that whatever happens, happens to you, by you, through you, that you are the creator, enjoyer and destroyer of all you perceive and you will not be afraid. Unafraid, you will not be unhappy, nor will you seek happiness.
In the mirror of your mind all kinds of pictures appear and disappear. Knowing that they are entirely your own creations, watch them silently come and go, be alert, but not perturbed. This attitude of silent observation is the very foundation of Yoga. You see the picture, but you are not the picture.
Q: I find that the thought of death frightens me because I do not want to be reborn. I know that none compels, yet the pressure of unsatisfied desires is overwhelming and I may not be able to resist.
M: The question of resistance does not arise. What is born and reborn is not you. Let it happen, watch it happen.
Q: Why then be at all concerned?
M: But you are concerned! And you will be concerned as long as the picture clashes with your own sense of truth, love and beauty. The desire for harmony and peace is in eradicable. But once it is fulfilled, the concern ceases and physical life becomes effortless and below the level of attention. Then, even in the body you are not born. To be embodied or bodyless is the same to you. You reach a point when nothing can happen to you. Without body, you cannot be killed; without possessions you cannot be robbed; without mind, you cannot be deceived. There is no point where a desire or fear can hook on. As long as no change can happen to you, what else matters?
Q: Somehow I do not like the idea of dying.
M: It is because you are so young. The more you know yourself the less you are afraid. Of course, the agony of dying is never pleasant to look at, but the dying man is rarely conscious.
Q: Does he return to consciousness?
M: It is very much like sleep. For a time the person is out of focus and then it returns.
Q: The same person?
M: The person, being a creature of circumstances, necessarily changes along with them, like the flame that changes with the fuel. Only the process goes on and on, creating time and space.
Q: Well, God will look after me. I can leave everything to Him.
M: Even faith in God is only a stage on the way. Ultimately you abandon all, for you come to something so simple that there are no words to express it.
Q: I am just beginning. At the start I had no faith, no trust; I was afraid to let things happen. The world seemed to be a very dangerous and inimical place. Now, at least I can talk of trusting the Guru or God. Let me grow. Don"t drive me on. Let me proceed at my own pace.
M: By all means proceed. But you don"t. You are still stuck in the ideas of man and women, old and young, life and death. Go on, go beyond. A thing recognised is a thing transcended.
Q: Sir, wherever I go people take it to be their duty to find faults with me and goad me on. I am fed up with this spiritual fortune making. What is wrong with my present that it should be sacrificed to a future, however glorious? You say reality is in the now. I want it. I do not want to be eternally anxious about my stature and its future. I do not want to chase the more and the better. Let me love what I have.
M: You are quite right; do it. Only be honest -- just love what you love -- don"t strive and strain.
Q: This is what I call surrender to the Guru.
M: Why exteriorise? Surrender to your own self, of which everything is an expression.

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