Questioner: I came from Europe a few months ago on one of my periodical visits to my Guru near Calcutta. Now I am on my way back home. I was invited by a friend to meet you and I am glad I came.
Maharaj: What did you learn from your Guru and what practice did you follow?
Q: He is a venerable old man of about eighty. Philosophically he is a Vedantin and the practice he teaches has much to do with rousing the unconscious energies of the mind and bringing the hidden obstacles and blockages into the conscious. My personal sadhana was related to my peculiar problem of early infancy and childhood. My mother could not give me the feeling of being secure and loved, so important to the child's normal development. She was a woman not fit to be a mother; ridden with anxieties and neuroses, unsure of herself, she felt me to be a responsibility and a burden beyond her capacity to bear. She never wanted me to be born. She did not want me to grow and to develop, she wanted me back in her womb, unborn, nonexistent. Any movement of life in me she resisted, any attempt to go beyond the narrow circle of her habitual existence she fought fiercely. As a child I was both sensitive and affectionate. I craved for love above everything else and love, the simple, instinctive love of a mother for her child was denied me. The child's search for its mother became the leading motive of my life and I never grew out of it. A happy child, a happy childhood became an obsession with me. Pregnancy, birth, infancy interested me passionately. I became an obstetrician of some renown and contributed to the development of the method of painless childbirth. A happy child of a happy mother -- that was my ideal all my life. But my mother was always there -- unhappy herself, unwilling and incapable to see me happy. It manifested itself in strange ways. Whenever I was unwell, she felt better; when I was in good shape, she was down again, cursing herself and me too. As if she never forgave me my crime of having been born, she made me feel guilty of being alive. 'You live because you hate me. If you love me -- die', was her constant, though silent message. And so I spent my life, being offered death instead of love. Imprisoned, as I was, in my mother, the perennial infant, I could not develop a meaningful relation with a woman; the image of the mother would stand between, unforgiving, unforgiven. I sought solace in my work and found much; but I could not move from the pit of infancy. Finally, I turned to spiritual search and I am on this line steadily for many years. But, in a way it is the same old search for mother's love, call it God or Atma or Supreme Reality. Basically I want to love and be loved; unfortunately the so-called religious people are against life and all for the mind. When faced with life's needs and urges, they begin by classifying, abstracting and conceptualising and then make the classification more important than life itself. They ask to concentrate on and impersonate a concept. Instead of the spontaneous integration through love they recommend a deliberate and laborious concentration on a formula. Whether it is God or Atma, the me or the other, it comes to the same! Something to think about, not somebody to love. It is not theories and systems that I need; there are many equally attractive or plausible. I need a stirring of the heart, a renewal of life, and not a new way of thinking. There are no new ways of thinking, but feelings can be ever fresh. When I love somebody, I meditate on him spontaneously and powerfully, with warmth and vigour, which my mind cannot command.
Words are good for shaping feelings; words without feeling are like clothes with no body inside -- cold and limp. This mother of mine -- she drained me of all feelings -- my sources have run dry. Can I find here the richness and abundance of emotions, which I needed in such ample measure as a child?
M: Where is your childhood now? And what is your future?
Q: I was born, I have grown, I shall die.
M: You mean your body, of course. And your mind. I am not talking of your physiology and psychology. They are a part of nature and are governed by nature's laws. I am talking of your search for love. Had it a beginning? Will it have an end?
Q: I really cannot say. It is there -- from the earliest to the last moment of my life. This yearning for love -- how constant and how hopeless!
M: In your search for love what exactly are you searching for?
Q: Simply this: to love and to be loved.
M: You mean a woman?
Q: Not necessarily. A friend, a teacher, a guide -- as long as the feeling is bright and clear. Of course, a woman is the usual answer. But it need not be the only one.
M: Of the two what would you prefer, to love or to be loved?
Q: I would rather have both! But I can see that to love is greater, nobler, deeper. To be loved is sweet, but it does not make one grow.
M: Can you love on your own, or must you be made to love?
Q: One must meet somebody lovable, of course. My mother was not only not loving, she was also not lovable.
M: What makes a person lovable? Is it not the being loved? First you love and then you look for reasons.
Q: It can be the other way round. You love what makes you happy.
M: But what makes you happy?
Q: There is no rule about it. The entire subject is highly individual and unpredictable.
M: Right. Whichever way you put it, unless you love there is no happiness. But, does love make you always happy? Is not the association of love with happiness a rather early, infantile stage? When the beloved suffers, don't you suffer too? And do you cease to love, because you suffer? Must love and happiness come and go together? Is love merely the expectation of pleasure?
Q: Of course not. There can be much suffering in love.
M: Then what is love? Is it not a state of being rather than a state of mind? Must you know that you love in order to love? Did you. not love your mother unknowingly? Your craving for her love, for an opportunity to love her, is it not the movement of love? Is not love as much a part of you, as consciousness of being? You sought the love of your mother, because you loved her.
Q: But she would not let me!
M: She could not stop you.
Q: Then, why was I unhappy all my life?
M: Because you did not go down to the very roots of your being. It is your complete ignorance of yourself, that covered up your love and happiness and made you seek for what you had never lost. Love is will, the will to share your happiness with all. Being happy -- making happy -- this is the rhythm of love.
Questioner: I must confess I came today in a rebellious mood. I got a raw deal at the airlines office. When faced with such situations everything seems doubtful, everything seems useless.
Maharaj: This is a very useful mood. Doubting all, refusing all, unwilling to learn through another. It is the fruit of your long sadhana. After all one does not study for ever.
Q: Enough of it. It took me nowhere.
M: Don't say 'nowhere'. It took you where you are -- now.
Q: It is again the child and its tantrums. I have not moved an inch from where I was.
M: You began as a child and you will end as a child. Whatever you have acquired in the meantime you must lose and start at the beginning.
Q: But the child kicks. When it is unhappy or denied anything it kicks.
M: Let it kick. Just look at the kicking. And if you are too afraid of the society to kick convincingly look at that too. I know it is a painful business. But there is no remedy -- except one -- the search for remedies must cease.
If you are angry or in pain, separate yourself from anger and pain and watch them. Externalisation is the first step to liberation. Step away and look. The physical events will go on happening, but by themselves they have no importance. It is the mind alone that matters. Whatever happens, you cannot kick and scream in an airline office or in a Bank. Society does not allow it. If you do not like their ways, or are not prepared to endure them, don't fly or carry money. Walk, and if you cannot walk, don't travel. If you deal with society you must accept its ways, for its ways are your ways. Your needs and demands have created them. Your desires are so complex and contradictory -- no wonder the society you create is also complex and contradictory.
Q: I do see and admit that the outer chaos is merely a reflection of my own inner disharmony. But what is the remedy?
M: Don't seek remedies.
Q: Sometimes one is in a 'state of grace' and life is happy and harmonious. But such a state does not last! The mood changes and all goes wrong.
M: If you could only keep quiet, clear of memories and expectations, you would be able to discern the beautiful pattern of events. It is your restlessness that causes chaos.
Q: For full three hours that I spent in the airline office I was practising patience and forbearance. It did not speed up matters.
M: At least it did not slow them down, as your kicking would have surely done! You want immediate results! We do not dispense magic here. Everybody does the same mistake: refusing the means, but wanting the ends. You want peace and harmony in the world, but refuse to have them in yourself. Follow my advice implicitly and you will not be disappointed. I cannot solve your problem by mere words. You have to act on what I told you and persevere. It is not the right advice that liberates, but the action based on it. Just like a doctor, after giving the patient an injection, tells him: 'Now, keep quiet. Do nothing more, just keep quiet,' I am telling you: you have got your 'injection', now keep quiet, just keep quiet. You have nothing else to do. My Guru did the same. He would tell me something and then said: 'Now keep quiet. Don't go on ruminating all the time. Stop. Be silent'.
Q: I can keep quiet for an hour in the morning. But the day is long and many things happen that throw me out of balance. It is easy to say 'be silent', but to be silent when all is screaming in me and round me -- please tell me how it is done.
M: All that needs doing can be done in peace and silence. There is no need to get upset.
Q: It is all theory which does not fit the facts. I am returning to Europe with nothing to do there. My life is completely empty.
M: If you just try to keep quiet, all will come -- the work, the strength for work, the right motive. Must you know everything beforehand? Don't be anxious about your future -- be quiet now and all will fall in place. The unexpected is bound to happen, while the anticipated may never come. Don't tell me you cannot control your nature. You need not control it. Throw it overboard. Have no nature to fight, or to submit to. No experience will hurt you, provided you don't make it into a habit. Of the entire universe you are the subtle cause. All is because you are. Grasp this point firmly and deeply and dwell on it repeatedly. To realise this as absolutely true, is liberation.
Q: If I am the seed of my universe, then a rotten seed I am! By the fruit the seed is known.
M: What is wrong with your world that you swear at it?
Q: It is full of pain.
M: Nature is neither pleasant nor painful. It is all intelligence and beauty. Pain and pleasure are in the mind. Change your scale of values and all will change. Pleasure and pain are mere disturbances of the senses; treat them equally and there will be only bliss. And the world is, what you make it; by all means make it happy. Only contentment can make you happy -- desires fulfilled breed more desires. Keeping away from all desires and contentment in what comes by itself is a very fruitful state -- a precondition to the state of fullness. Don't distrust its apparent sterility and emptiness. Believe me, it is the satisfaction of desires that breeds misery. Freedom from desires is bliss.
Q: There are things we need.
M: What you need will come to you, if you do not ask for what you do not need. Yet only few people reach this state of complete dispassion and detachment. It is a very high state, the very threshold of liberation.
Q: I have been barren for the last two years, desolate and empty and often was I praying for death to come.
M: Well, with your coming here events have started rolling. Let things happen as they happen -- they will sort themselves out nicely in the end. You need not strain towards the future -- the future will come to you on its own. For some time longer you will remain sleep-walking, as you do now, bereft of meaning and assurance; but this period will end and you will find your work both fruitful and easy. There are always moments when one feels empty and estranged. Such moments are most desirable for it means the soul had cast its moorings and is sailing for distant places. This is detachment -- when the old is over and the new has not yet come. If you are afraid, the state may be distressing; but there is really nothing to be afraid of. Remember the instruction: whatever you come across -- go beyond.
Q: The Buddhas rule: to remember what needs to be remembered. But I find it so difficult to remember the right thing at the right moment. With me forgetting seems to be the rule!
M: It is not easy to remember when every situation brings up a storm of desires and fears. Craving born of memory is also the destroyer of memory.
Q: How am I to fight desire? There is nothing stronger.
M: The waters of life are thundering over the rocks of objects -- desirable or hateful. Remove the rocks by insight and detachment and the same waters will flow deep and silent and swift, in greater volume and with greater power. Don't be theoretical about it, give time to thought and consideration; if you desire to be free, neglect not the nearest step to freedom. It is like climbing a mountain: not a step can be missed. One step less -- and the summit is not reached.
Questioner: We were discussing one day the person -- the witness -- the absolute (vyakti-vyakta-avyakta). As far as I remember, you said that the absolute alone is real and the witness is absolute only at a given point of space and time. The person is the organism, gross and subtle, illumined by the presence of the witness. I do not seem to grasp the matter clearly; could we discuss it again? You also use the terms mahadakash, chidakash and paramakash. How are they related to person, witness, and the absolute?
Maharaj: Mahadakash is nature, the ocean of existences, the physical space with all that can be contacted through the senses. Chidakash is the expanse of awareness, the mental space of time, perception and cognition. Paramakash is the timeless and spaceless reality, mindless, undifferentiated, the infinite potentiality, the source and origin, the substance and the essence, both matter and consciousness -- yet beyond both. It cannot be perceived, but can be experienced as ever witnessing the witness, perceiving the perceiver, the origin and the end of all manifestation, the root of time and space, the prime cause in every chain of causation.
Q: What is the difference between vyakta and avyakta?
M: There is no difference. It is like light and daylight. The universe is full of light which you do not see; but the same light you see as daylight. And what the daylight reveals is the vyakti, The person is always the object, the witness is the subject and their relation of mutual dependence is the reflection of their absolute identity. You imagine that they are distinct and separate states. They are not. They are the same consciousness at rest and in movement, each state conscious of the other. In chit man knows God and God knows man. In chit the man shapes the world and the world shapes man. Chit is the link, the bridge between extremes, the balancing and uniting factor in every experience. The totality of the perceived is what you call matter. The totality of all perceivers is what you call the universal mind. The identity of the two, manifesting itself as perceptibility and perceiving, harmony and intelligence, loveliness and loving, reasserts itself eternally.
Q: The three gunas, sattva--rajas--tamas, are they only in matter, or also in the mind?
M: In both, of course, because the two are not separate. It is only the absolute that is beyond gunas. In fact, these are but points of view, ways of looking. They exist only in the mind. Beyond the mind all distinctions cease.
Q: Is the universe a product of the senses?
M: Just as you recreate your world on waking up, so is the universe unrolled. The mind with its five organs of perception, five organs of action, and five vehicles of consciousness appears as memory, thought, reason and selfhood.
Q: The sciences have made much progress. We know the body and the mind much better than our ancestors. Your traditional way, describing and analysing mind and matter, is no longer valid.
M: But where are your scientists with their sciences? Are they not again images in your own mind?
Q: Here lies the basic difference! To me they are not my own projections. They were before I was born and shall be there when I am dead.
M: Of course. Once you accept time and space as real, you will consider yourself minute and short-lived. But are they real? Do they depend on you, or you on them? As body, you are in space. As mind, you are in time. But are you mere body with a mind in it? Have you ever investigated?
Q: I had neither the motive nor the method.
M: I am suggesting both. But the actual work of insight and detachment (viveka-vairagya) is yours.
Q: The only motive I can perceive is my own causeless and timeless happiness. And what is the method?
M: Happiness is incidental. The true and effective motive is love. You see people suffer and you seek the best way of helping them. The answer is obvious -- first put yourself beyond the need of help. Be sure your attitude is of pure goodwill, free of expectation of any kind.
Those who seek mere happiness may end up in sublime indifference, while love will never rest.
As to method, there is only one -- you must come to know yourself -- both what you appear to be and what you are. Clarity and charity go together -- each needs and strengthens the other.
Q: Compassion implies the existence of an objective world, full of avoidable sorrow.
M: The world is not objective and the sorrow of it is not avoidable. Compassion is but another word for the refusal to suffer for imaginary reasons.
Q: If the reasons are imaginary, why should the suffering be inevitable?
M: It is always the false that makes you suffer, the false desires and fears, the false values and ideas, the false relationships between people. Abandon the false and you are free of pain; truth makes happy -- truth liberates.
Q: The truth is that I am a mind imprisoned in a body and this is a very unhappy truth.
M: You are neither the body nor in the body -- there is no such thing as body. You have grievously misunderstood yourself; to understand rightly -- investigate.
Q: But I was born as a body, in a body and shall die with the body, as a body.
M: This is your misconception. Enquire, investigate, doubt yourself and others. To find truth, you must not cling to your convictions; if you are sure of the immediate, you will never reach the ultimate. Your idea that you were born and that you will die is absurd: both logic and experience contradict it.
Q: All right, I shall not insist that I am the body. You have a point here. But here and now, as I talk to you, I am in my body -- obviously. The body may not be me, but it is mine.
M: The entire universe contributes incessantly to your existence. Hence the entire universe is your body. In that sense -- I agree.
Q: My body influences me deeply. In more than one way my body is my destiny. My character, my moods, the nature of my reactions, my desires and fears -- inborn or acquired -- they are all based on the body. A little alcohol, some drug or other and all changes. Until the drug wears off I become another man.
M: All this happens because you think yourself to be the body. realise your real self and even drugs will have no power over you.
Q: You smoke?
M: My body kept a few habits which may as well continue till it dies. There is no harm in them.
Q: You eat meat?
M: I was born among meat-eating people and my children are eating meat. I eat very little -- and make no fuss.
Q: Meat-eating implies killing.
M: Obviously. I make no claims of consistency. You think absolute consistency is possible; prove it by example. Don't preach what you do not practise.
Coming back to the idea of having been born. You are stuck with what your parents told you: all about conception, pregnancy and birth, infant, child, youngster, teenager, and so on. Now, divest yourself of the idea that you are the body with the help of the contrary idea that you are not the body. It is also an idea, no doubt; treat it like something to be abandoned when its work is done. The idea that I am not the body gives reality to the body, when in fact, there is no such thing as body, it is but a state of mind. You can have as many bodies and as diverse as you like; just remember steadily what you want and reject the incompatibles.
Q: I am like a box within box, within box, the outer box acting as the body and the one next to it -- as the indwelling soul. Abstract the outer box and the next becomes the body and the one next to it the soul. It is an infinite series, an endless opening of boxes, is the last one the ultimate soul?
M: If you have a body, you must have a soul; here your simile of a nest of boxes applies. But here and now, through all your bodies and souls shines awareness, the pure light of chit. Hold on to it unswervingly. Without awareness, the body would not last a second. There is in the body a current of energy, affection and intelligence, which guides, maintains and energises the body. Discover that current and stay with it.
Of course, all these are manners of speaking. Words are as much a barrier, as a bridge. Find the spark of life that weaves the tissues of your body and be with it. It is the only reality the body has.
Q: What happens to that spark of life after death?
M: It is beyond time. Birth and death are but points in time. Life weaves eternally its many webs. The weaving is in time, but life itself is timeless. Whatever name and shape you give to its expressions, it is like the ocean -- never changing, ever changing.
Q: All you say sounds beautifully convincing. yet my feeling of being just a person in a world strange and alien, often inimical and dangerous, does not cease. Being a person, limited in space and time, how can I possibly realise myself as the opposite; a de-personalised, universalised awareness of nothing in particular?
M: You assert yourself to be what you are not and deny yourself to be what you are. You omit the element of pure cognition, of awareness free from all personal distortions. Unless you admit the reality of chit, you will never know yourself.
Q: What am I to do? I do not see myself as you see me. Maybe you are right and I am wrong, but how can I cease to be what I feel I am?
M: A prince who believes himself to be a beggar can be convinced conclusively in one way only: he must behave as a prince and see what happens. Behave as if what I say is true and judge by what actually happens. All I ask is the little faith needed for making the first step. With experience will come confidence and you will not need me any more. I know what you are and I am telling you. Trust me for a while.
Q: To be here and now, I need my body and its senses. To understand, I need a mind.
M: The body and the mind are only symptoms of ignorance, of misapprehension. Behave as if you were pure awareness, bodiless and mindless, spaceless and timeless, beyond 'where' and 'when' and 'how'. Dwell on it, think of it, learn to accept its reality. Don't oppose it and deny it all the time. Keep an open mind at least. Yoga is bending the outer to the inner. Make your mind and body express the real which is all and beyond all. By doing you succeed, not by arguing.
Q: Kindly allow me to come back to my first question. How does the error of being a person originate?
M: The absolute precedes time. Awareness comes first. A bundle of memories and mental habits attracts attention, awareness gets focalised and a person suddenly appears. Remove the light of awareness, go to sleep or swoon away -- and the person disappears. The person (vyakti) flickers, awareness (vyakta) contains all space and time, the absolute (avyakta) is.
Questioner: What is your state at the present moment?
Maharaj: A state of non-experiencing. In it all experience is included
Q: Can you enter into the mind and heart of another man and share his experience?
M: No. Such things require special training. I am like a dealer In wheat. I know little about breads and cakes. Even the taste of a wheat-gruel I may not know. But about the wheat grain I know all and well. I know the source of all experience. But the innumerable particular forms experience can take I do not know. Nor do I need to know. From moment to moment, the little I need to know to live my life, I somehow happen to know.
Q: Your particular existence and my particular existence, do they both exist in the mind of Brahma?
M: The universal is not aware of the particular. The existence as a person is a personal matter. A person exists in time and space, has name and shape, beginning and end; the universal includes all persons and the absolute is at the root of and beyond all.
Q: I am not concerned with the totality. My personal consciousness and your personal consciousness -- what is the link between the two?
M: Between two dreamers what can be the link?
Q: They may dream of each other.
M: That is what people are doing. Everyone imagines 'others' and seeks a link with them. The seeker is the link, there is none other.
Q: Surely there must be something in common between the many points of consciousness we are.
M: Where are the many points? In your mind. You insist that your world is independent of your mind. How can it be? Your desire to know other people's minds is due to your not knowing your own mind. First know your own mind and you will find that the question of other minds does not arise at all, for there are no other people. You are the common factor, the only link between the minds. Being is consciousness; 'I am' applies to all.
Q: The Supreme Reality (Parabrahman) may be present in all of us. But of what use is it to us?
M: You are like a man who says: 'I need a place where to keep my things, but of what use is space to me?' or 'I need milk, tea, coffee or soda, but for water I have no use'. Don't you see that the Supreme Reality is what makes everything possible? But if you ask of what use is it to you, I must answer: 'None'. In matters of daily life the knower of the real has no advantage: he may be at a disadvantage rather: being free from greed and fear, he does not protect himself. The very idea of profit is foreign to him; he abhors accretions; his life is constant divesting oneself, sharing, giving.
Q: If there is no advantage in gaining the Supreme, then why take the trouble?
M: There is trouble only when you cling to something. When you hold on to nothing, no trouble arises. The relinquishing of the lesser is the gaining of the greater. Give up all and you gain all. Then life becomes what it was meant to be: pure radiation from an inexhaustible source. In that light the world appears dimly like a dream.
Q: If my world is merely a dream and you are a part of it, what can you do for me? If the dream is not real, having no being, how can reality affect it?
M: While it lasts, the dream has temporary being. It is your desire to hold on to it, that creates the problem. Let go. Stop imagining that the dream is yours.
Q: You seem to take for granted that there can be a dream without a dreamer and that I identify myself with the dream of my own sweet will. But I am the dreamer and the dream too. Who is to stop dreaming?
M: Let the dream unroll itself to its very end. You cannot help it. But you can look at the dream as a dream, refuse it the stamp of reality.
Q: Here am I, sitting before you. I am dreaming and you are watching me talking in my dream. What is the link between us?
M: My intention to wake you up is the link. My heart wants you awake. I see you suffer in your dream and I know that you must wake up to end your woes. When you see your dream as dream, you wake up. But in your dream itself I am not interested. Enough for me to know that you must wake up. You need not bring your dream to a definite conclusion, or make it noble, or happy, or beautiful; all you need is to realise that you are dreaming. Stop imagining, stop believing. See the contradictions, the incongruities, the falsehood and the sorrow of the human state, the need to go beyond. Within the immensity of space floats a tiny atom of consciousness and in it the entire universe is contained.
Q: There are affections in the dream which seem real and everlasting. Do they disappear on waking up?
M: In dream you love some and not others. On waking up you find you are love itself, embracing all. Personal love, however intense and genuine, invariably binds; love in freedom is love of all.
Q: People come and go. One loves whom one meets, one cannot love all.
M: When you are love itself, you are beyond time and numbers. In loving one you love all, in loving all, you love each. One and all are not exclusive.
Q: You say you are in a timeless state. Does it mean that past and future are open to you? Did you meet Vashishta Muni, Rama's Guru?
M: The question is in time and about time. Again you are asking me about the contents of a dream. Timelessness is beyond the illusion of time, it is not an extension in time. He who called himself Vashishta knew Vashishta. I am beyond all names and shapes. Vashishta is a dream in your dream. How can I know him? You are too much concerned with past and future. It is all due to your longing to continue, to protect yourself against extinction. And as you want to continue, you want others to keep you company, hence your concern with their survival. But what you call survival is but the survival of a dream. Death is preferable to it . There is a chance of waking up .
Q: You are aware of eternity, therefore you are not concerned with survival.
M: It is the other way round. Freedom from all desire is eternity. All attachment implies fear, for all things are transient. And fear makes one a slave. This freedom from attachment does not come with practice; it is natural, when one knows one's true being. Love does not cling; clinging is not love.
Q: So there is no way to gain detachment?
M: There is nothing to gain. Abandon all imaginings and know yourself as you are. Self-knowledge is detachment. All craving is due to a sense of insufficiency. When you know that you lack nothing, that all there is, is you and yours, desire ceases.
Q: To know myself must I practise awareness?
M: There is nothing to practise. To know yourself, be yourself. To be yourself, stop imagining yourself to be this or that. Just be. Let your true nature emerge. Don't disturb your mind with seeking.
Q: It will take much time if I Just wait for self-realisation.
M: What have you to wait for when it is already here and now? You have only to look and see. Look at your self, at your own being. You know that you are and you like it. Abandon all imagining, that is all. Do not rely on time. Time is death. Who waits -- dies. Life is now only. Do not talk to me about past and future -- they exist only in your mind.
Q: You too will die.
M: I am dead already. Physical death will make no difference in my case. I am timeless being. I am free of desire or fear, because I do not remember the past, or imagine the future. Where there are no names and shapes, how can there be desire and fear? With desirelessness comes timelessness. I am safe, because what is not, cannot touch what is. You feel unsafe, because you imagine danger. Of course, your body as such is complex and vulnerable and needs protection. But not you. Once you realise your own unassailable being, you will be at peace.
Q: How can I find peace when the world suffers?
M: The world suffers for very valid reasons. If you want to help the world, you must be beyond the need of help. Then all your doing as well as not doing will help the world most effectively.
Q: How can non-action be of use where action is needed?
M: Where action is needed, action happens. Man is not the actor. His is to be aware of what is going on. His very presence is action. The window is the absence of the wall and it gives air and light because it is empty. Be empty of all mental content, of all imagination and effort, and the very absence of obstacles will cause reality to rush in. If you really want to help a person, keep away. If you are emotionally committed to helping, you will fail to help. You may be very busy and be very pleased with your charitable nature, but not much will be done. A man is really helped when he is no longer in need of help. All else is just futility.
Q: There is not enough time to sit and wait for help to happen. One must do something.
M: By all means -- do. But what you can do is limited; the self alone is unlimited. Give limitlessly -- of yourself. All else you can give in small measures only. You alone are immeasurable. To help is your very nature. Even when you eat and drink you help your body. For yourself you need nothing. You are pure giving, beginning-less, endless, inexhaustible. When you see sorrow and suffering, be with it. Do not rush into activity. Neither learning nor action can really help. Be with sorrow and lay bare its roots -- helping to understand is real help.
Q: My death is nearing.
M: Your body is short of time, not you. Time and space are in the mind only. You are not bound. Just understand yourself -- that itself is eternity.
Questioner: When an ordinary man dies, what happens to him?
Maharaj: According to his belief it happens, As life before death is but imagination, so is life after. The dream continues.
Q: And what about the jnani?
M: The jnani does not die because he was never born.
Q: He appears so to others.
M: But not to himself. In himself he is free of things -- physical and mental.
Q: Still you must know the state of the man who died. At least from your own past lives.
M: Until I met my Guru I knew so many things. Now I know nothing, for all knowledge is in dream only and not valid. I know myself and I find no life nor death in me, only pure being -- not being this or that, but just being. But the moment the mind, drawing on its stock of memories, begins to imagine, it fills the space with objects and time with events. As I do not know even this birth, how can I know past births? It is the mind that, itself in movement, sees everything moving, and having created time, worries about the past and future. All the universe is cradled in consciousness (maha tattva), which arises where there is perfect order and harmony (maha sattva). As all waves are in the ocean, so are all things physical and mental in awareness. Hence awareness itself is all important, not the content of it. Deepen and broaden your awareness of yourself and all the blessings will flow. You need not seek anything, all will come to you most naturally and effortlessly. The five senses and the four functions of the mind -- memory, thought, understanding and selfhood; the five elements -- earth, water, fire, air and ether; the two aspects of creation -- matter and spirit, all are contained in awareness.
Q: Yet, you must believe in having lived before.
M: The scriptures say so, but I know nothing about it. I know myself as I am; as I appeared or will appear is not within my experience. It is not that I do not remember. In fact there is nothing to remember. Reincarnation implies a reincarnating self. There is no such thing. The bundle of memories and hopes, called the 'I', imagines itself existing everlastingly and creates time to accommodate its false eternity: To be, I need no past or future. All experience is born of imagination; I do not imagine, so no birth or death happens to me. Only those who think themselves born can think themselves re-born. You are accusing me of having been born -- I plead not guilty!
All exists in awareness and awareness neither dies nor is reborn. It is the changeless reality itself.
All the universe of experience is born with the body and dies with the body; it has its beginning and end in awareness, but awareness knows no beginning, nor end. If you think it out carefully and brood over it for a long time, you will come to see the light of awareness in all its clarity and the world will fade out of your vision. It is like looking at a burning incense stick, you see the stick and the smoke first; when you notice the fiery point, you realise that it has the power to consume mountains of sticks and fill the universe with smoke. Timelessly the self actualises itself, without exhausting its infinite possibilities. In the incense stick simile the stick is the body and the smoke is the mind. As long as the mind is busy with its contortions, it does not perceive its own source. The Guru comes and turns your attention to the spark within. By its very nature the mind is outward turned; it always tends to seek for the source of things among the things themselves; to be told to look for the source within, is, in a way, the beginning of a new life. Awareness takes the place of consciousness; in consciousness there is the 'I', who is conscious while awareness is undivided; awareness is aware of itself. The 'I am' is a thought, while awareness is not a thought, there is no 'I am aware' in awareness. Consciousness is an attribute while awareness is not; one can be aware of being conscious, but not conscious of awareness. God is the totality of consciousness, but awareness is beyond all -- being as well as not-being.
Q: I had started with the question about the condition of a man after death. When his body is destroyed, what happens to his consciousness? Does he carry his senses of seeing, hearing etc. along with him or does he leave them behind? And, if he loses his senses, what becomes to his consciousness?
M: Senses are mere modes of perception. As the grosser modes disappear, finer states of consciousness emerge.
Q: Is there no transition to awareness after death?
M: There can be no transition from consciousness to awareness, for awareness is not a form of consciousness. Consciousness can only become more subtle and refined and that is what happens after death. As the various vehicles of man die off, the modes of consciousness induced by them also fade away.
Q: Until only unconsciousness remains?
M: Look at yourself talking of unconsciousness as something that comes and goes! Who is there to be conscious of unconsciousness? As long as the window is open, there is sunlight in the room. With the windows shut, the sun remains, but does it see the darkness in the room? Is there anything like darkness to the sun? There is no such thing as unconsciousness, for unconsciousness is not experienceable. We infer unconsciousness when there is a lapse in memory or communication. If I stop reacting, you will say that I am unconscious. In reality I may be most acutely conscious, only unable to communicate or remember.
Q: I am asking a simple question: there are about four billion people in the world and they are all bound to die. What will be their condition after death -- not physically, but psychologically? Will their consciousness continue? And if it does, in what form? Do not tell me that I am not asking the right question, or that you do not know the answer, or that in your world my question is meaningless; the moment you start talking about your world and my world as different and incompatible, you build a wall between us. Either we live in one world or your experience is of no use to us.
M: Of course we live in one world. Only I see it as it is, while you don't. You see yourself in the world, while I see the world in myself. To you, you get born and die, while to me, the world appears and disappears. Our world is real, but your view of it is not. There is no wall between us, except the one built by you. There is nothing wrong with the senses, it is your imagination that misleads you. It covers up the world as it is, with what you imagine it to be -- something existing independently of you and yet closely following your inherited, or acquired patterns. There is a deep contradiction in your attitude, which you do not see and which is the cause of sorrow. You cling to the idea that you were born into a world of pain and sorrow; I know that the world is a child of love, having its beginning, growth and fulfilment in love. But I am beyond love even.
Q: If you have created the world out of love, why is it so full of pain?
M: You are right -- from the body's point of view. But you are not the body. You are the immensity and infinity of consciousness. Don't assume what is not true and you will see things as I see them. Pain and pleasure, good and bad, right and wrong: these are relative terms and must not be taken absolutely. They are limited and temporary.
Q: In the Buddhist tradition it is stated that a Nirvani, an enlightened Buddha, has the freedom of the universe. He can know and experience for himself all that exists. He can command, interfere with nature, with the chain of causation, change the sequence of events, even undo the past! The world is still with him but he is free in it.
M: What you describe is God. Of course, where there is a universe, there will also be its counterpart, which is God. But I am beyond both. There was a kingdom in search of a king. They found the right man and made him king. In no way had he changed. He was merely given the title, the rights and the duties of a king. His nature was not affected, only his actions. Similarly, with the enlightened man; the content of his consciousness undergoes a radical transformation. But he is not misled. He knows the changeless.
Q: The changeless cannot be conscious. Consciousness is always of change. The changeless leaves no trace in consciousness.
M: Yes and no. The paper is not the writing, yet it carries the writing. The ink is not the message, nor is the reader's mind the message -- but they all make the message possible.
Q: Does consciousness come down from reality or is it an attribute of matter?
M: Consciousness as such is the subtle counterpart of matter. Just as inertia (tamas) and energy (rajas) are attributes of matter, so does harmony (sattva) manifest itself as consciousness. You may consider it in a way as a form of very subtle energy. Wherever matter organises itself into a stable organism, consciousness appears spontaneously. With the destruction of the organism consciousness disappears.
Q: Then what survives?
M: That, of which matter and consciousness are but aspects, which is neither born nor dies.
Q: If it is beyond matter and consciousness, how can it be experienced?
M: It can be known by its effects on both; look for it in beauty and in bliss. But you will understand neither body nor consciousness, unless you go beyond both.
Q: Please tell us squarely: are you conscious or unconscious?
M: The enlightened (jnani) is neither. But in his enlightenment (jnana) all is contained. Awareness contains every experience. But he who is aware is beyond every experience. He is beyond awareness itself.
Q: There is the background of experience, call it matter. There is the experiencer, call it mind. What makes the bridge between the two?
M: The very gap between is the bridge. That, which at one end looks like matter and at the other as mind, is in itself the bridge. Don't separate reality into mind and body and there will be no need of bridges.
Consciousness arising, the world arises. When you consider the wisdom and the beauty of the world, you call it God. Know the source of it all, which is in yourself, and you will find all your questions answered.
Q: The seer and the seen: are they one or two?
M: There is only seeing; both the seer and the seen are contained in it. Don't create differences where there are none.
Q: I began with the question about the man who died. You said that his experiences will shape themselves according to his expectations and beliefs.
M: Before you were born you expected to live according to a plan, which you yourself had laid down. Your own will was the backbone of your destiny.
Q: Surely, karma interfered.
M: Karma shapes the circumstances: the attitudes are your own. Ultimately your character shapes your life and you alone can shape your character.
Q: How does one shape one's character?
M: By seeing it as it is, and being sincerely sorry. This integral seeing-feeling can work miracles. It is like casting a bronze image; metal alone, or fire alone will not do; nor will the mould be of any use; you have to melt down the metal in the heat of the fire and cast it in the mould.
Questioner: I see you sitting in your son's house waiting for lunch to be served. And I wonder whether the content of your consciousness is similar to mine, or partly different, or totally different. Are you hungry and thirsty as I am, waiting rather impatiently for the meals to be served, or are you in an altogether different state of mind?
Maharaj: There is not much difference on the surface, but very much of it in depth. You know yourself only through the senses and the mind. You take yourself to be what they suggest; having no direct knowledge of yourself, you have mere ideas; all mediocre, second-hand, by hearsay. Whatever you think you are you take it to be true; the habit of imagining yourself perceivable and describable is very strong with you.
I see as you see, hear as you hear, taste as you taste, eat as you eat. I also feel thirst and hunger and expect my food to be served on time. When starved or sick, my body and mind go weak. All this I perceive quite clearly, but somehow I am not in it, I feel myself as if floating over it, aloof and detached. Even not aloof and detached. There is aloofness and detachment as there is thirst and hunger; there is also the awareness of it all and a sense of Immense distance, as if the body and the mind and all that happens to them were somewhere far out on the horizon. I am like a cinema screen -- clear and empty -- the pictures pass over it and disappear, leaving it as clear and empty as before. In no way is the screen affected by the pictures, nor are the pictures affected by the screen. The screen intercepts and reflects the pictures, it does not shape them. It has nothing to do with the rolls of films. These are as they are, lumps of destiny (prarabdha), but not my destiny; the destinies of the people on the screen.
Q: You do not mean to say that the people in a picture have destinies! They belong to the story, the story is not theirs.
M: And what about you? Do you shape your life or are you shaped by it?
Q: Yes, you are right. A life story unrolls itself of which I am one of the actors. I have no being outside it, as it has no being without me. I am merely a character, not a person.
M: The character will become a person, when he begins to shape his life instead of accepting it as it comes, and identifying himself with it.
Q: When I ask a question and you answer, what exactly happens?
M: The question and the answer -- both appear on the screen. The lips move, the body speaks -- and again the screen is clear and empty.
Q: When you say: clear and empty, what do you mean?
M: I mean free of all contents. To myself I am neither perceivable nor conceivable; there is nothing I can point out and say: 'this I am'. You identify yourself with everything so easily, I find it impossible. The feeling: 'I am not this or that, nor is anything mine' is so strong in me that as soon as a thing or a thought appears, there comes at once the sense 'this I am not'.
Q: Do you mean to say that you spend your time repeating 'this I am not, that I am not'?
M: Of course not. I am merely verbalizing for your sake. By the grace of my Guru I have realised once and for good that I am neither object nor subject and I do not need to remind myself all the time.
Q: I find it hard to grasp what exactly do you mean by saying that you are neither the object nor the subject. At this very moment, as we talk, am I not the object of your experience, and you the subject?
M: Look, my thumb touches my forefinger. Both touch and are touched. When my attention; is on the thumb, the thumb is the feeler and the forefinger -- the self. Shift the focus of attention and the relationship is reversed. I find that somehow, by shifting the focus of attention, I become the very thing I look at and experience the kind of consciousness it has; I become the inner witness of the thing. I call this capacity of entering other focal points of consciousness -- love; you may give it any name you like. Love says: 'I am everything'. Wisdom says: 'I am nothing' Between the two my life flows. Since at any point of time and space I can be both the subject and the object of experience, I express it by saying that I am both, and neither, and beyond both.
Q: You make all these extraordinary statements about yourself. What makes you say those things? What do you mean by saying that you are beyond space and time?
M: You ask and the answer comes. I watch myself -- I watch the answer and see no contradiction. It is clear to me that I am telling you the truth. It is all very simple. Only you must trust me that I mean what I say, that I am quite serious. As I told you already, my Guru showed me my true nature -- and the true nature of the world. Having realised that I am one with, and yet beyond the world, I became free from all desire and fear. I did not reason out that I should be free -- I found myself free -- unexpectedly, without the least effort. This freedom from desire and fear remained with me since then. Another thing I noticed was that I do not need to make an effort; the deed follows the thought, without delay and friction. I have also found that thoughts become self-fulfilling; things would fall in place smoothly and rightly. The main change was in the mind; it became motionless and silent, responding quickly, but not perpetuating the response. Spontaneity became a way of life, the real became natural and the natural became real. And above all, infinite affection, love, dark and quiet, radiating in all directions, embracing all, making all interesting and beautiful, significant and auspicious.
Q: We are told that various Yogic powers arise spontaneously in a man who has realised his own true being. What is your experience in these matters?
M: Man's fivefold body (physical etc.) has potential powers beyond our wildest dreams. Not only is the entire universe reflected in man, but also the power to control the universe is waiting to be used by him. The wise man is not anxious to use such powers, except when the situation calls for them. He finds the abilities and skills of the human personality quite adequate for the business of daily living. Some of the powers can be developed by specialised training, but the man who flaunts such powers is still in bondage. The wise man counts nothing as his own. When at some time and place some miracle is attributed to some person, he will not establish any causal link between events and people, nor will he allow any conclusions to be drawn. All happened as it happened because it had to happen everything happens as it does, because the universe is as it is.
Q: The universe does not seem a happy place to live in. Why is there so much suffering?
M: Pain is physical; suffering is mental. Beyond the mind there is no suffering. Pain is merely a signal that the body is in danger and requires attention. Similarly, suffering warns us that the structure of memories and habits, which we call the person (vyakti), is threatened by loss or change. Pain is essential for the survival of the body, but none compels you to suffer. Suffering is due entirely to clinging or resisting; it is a sign of our unwillingness to move on, to flow with life.
As a sane life is free of pain, so is a saintly life free from suffering.
Q: Nobody has suffered more than saints.
M: Did they tell you, or do you say so on your own? The essence of saintliness is total acceptance of the present moment, harmony with things as they happen. A saint does not want things to be different from what they are; he knows that, considering all factors, they are unavoidable. He is friendly with the inevitable and,. therefore, does not suffer. Pain he may know, but it does not shatter him. If he can, he does the needful to restore the lost balance -- or he lets things take their course.
Q: He may die.
M: So what? What does he gain by living on and what does he lose by dying? What was born, must die; what was never born cannot die. It all depends on what he takes himself to be.
Q: Imagine you fall mortally ill. Would you not regret and resent?
M: But I am dead already, or, rather, neither alive nor dead. You see my body behaving the habitual way and draw your own conclusions. You will not admit that your conclusions bind nobody but you. Do see that the image you have of me may be altogether wrong. Your image of yourself is wrong too, but that is your problem. But you need not create problems for me and then ask me to solve them. I am neither creating problems nor solving them.
Questioner: When asked about the means for self-realisation, you invariably stress the importance of the mind dwelling on the sense 'I am'. Where is the causal factor? Why should this particular thought result in self-realisation? How does the contemplation of 'I am' affect me?
Maharaj: The very fact of observation alters the observer and the observed. After all, what prevents the insight into one's true nature is the weakness and obtuseness of the mind and its tendency to skip the subtle and focus on the gross only. When you follow my advice and try to keep your mind on the notion of 'I am' only, you become fully aware of your mind and its vagaries. Awareness, being lucid harmony (sattva) in action, dissolves dullness and quietens the restlessness of the mind and gently, but steadily changes its very substance. This change need not be spectacular; it may be hardly noticeable; yet it is a deep and fundamental shift from darkness to light, from inadvertence to awareness.
Q: Must it be the 'I am' formula? Will not any other sentence do? If I concentrate on 'there is a table', will it not serve the same purpose?
M: As an exercise in concentration -- yes. But it will not take you beyond the idea of a table. You are not interested in tables, you want to know yourself. For this keep steadily in the focus of consciousness the only clue you have: your certainty of being. Be with it, play with it, ponder over it, delve deeply into it, till the shell of ignorance breaks open and you emerge into the realm of reality.
Q: Is there any causal link between my focussing the 'I am' and the breaking of the shell?
M: The urge to find oneself is a sign that you are getting ready. The impulse always comes from within. Unless your time has come, you will have neither the desire nor the strength to go for self-enquiry whole-heartedly.
Q: Is not the grace of the Guru responsible for the desire and its fulfilment? Is not the Guru's radiant face the bait on which we are caught and pulled out of this mire of sorrow?
M: It is the Inner Guru (sadguru) who takes you to the Outer Guru, as a mother takes her child to a teacher. Trust and obey your Guru, for he is the messenger of your Real Self.
Q: How do I find a Guru whom I can trust?
M: Your own heart will tell you. There is no difficulty in finding a Guru, because the Guru is in search of you. The Guru is always ready; you are not ready. You have to be ready to learn; or you may meet your Guru and waste your chance by sheer inattentiveness and obstinacy. Take my example; there was nothing in me of much promise, but when I met my Guru, I listened, trusted and obeyed.
Q: Must I not examine the teacher before I put myself entirely into his hands?
M: By all means examine! But what can you find out? Only as he appears to you on your own level.
Q: I shall watch whether he is consistent, whether there is harmony between his life and his teaching.
M: You may find plenty of disharmony -- so what? It proves nothing. Only motives matter. How will you know his motives?
Q: I should at least expect him to be a man of self-control who lives a righteous life.
M: Such you will find many -- and of no use to you. A Guru can show the way back home, to your real self. What has this to do with the character, or temperament of the person he appears to be? Does he not clearly tell you that he is not the person? The only way you can judge is by the change in yourself when you are in his company. If you feel more at peace and happy, if you understand yourself with more than usual clarity and depth, it means you have met the right man. Take your time, but once you have made up your mind to trust him, trust him absolutely and follow every instruction fully and faithfully. It does not matter much if you do not accept him as your Guru and are satisfied with his company only. Satsang alone can also take you to your goal, provided it is unmixed and undisturbed. But once you accept somebody as your Guru, listen, remember and obey. Half-heartedness is a serious drawback and the cause of much self-created sorrow. The mistake is never the Guru's; it is always the obtuseness and cussedness of the discipline that is at fault.
Q: Does the Guru then dismiss, or disqualify a disciple?
M: He would not be a Guru if he did! He bides his time and waits till the disciple, chastened and sobered, comes back to him in a more receptive mood.
Q: What is the motive? Why does the Guru take so much trouble?
M: Sorrow and the ending of sorrow. He sees people suffering in their dreams and he wants them to wake up. Love is intolerant of pain and suffering. The patience of a Guru has no limits and, therefore, it cannot be defeated. The Guru never fails.
Q: Is my first Guru also my last, or do I have to pass from Guru to Guru?
M: The entire universe is your Guru. You learn from everything, if you are alert and intelligent. Were your mind clear and your heart clean, you would learn from every passer-by;. It is because you are indolent or restless, that your inner Self manifests as the outer Guru and makes you trust him and obey.
Q: Is a Guru inevitable?
M: It is like asking 'Is a mother inevitable?' To rise in consciousness from one dimension to another, you need help. The help may not always be in the shape of a human person, it may be a subtle presence, or a spark of intuition, but help must come. The inner Self is watching and waiting for the son to return to his father. At the right time he arranges everything affectionately and effectively. Where a messenger is needed, or a guide, he sends the Guru to do the needful.
Q: There is one thing I cannot grasp. You speak of the inner self as wise and good and beautiful and in every way perfect, and of the person as mere reflection without a being of its own. On the other hand you take so much trouble in helping the person to realise itself. If the person is so unimportant, why be so concerned with its welfare? Who cares for a shadow?
M: You have brought in duality where there is none. There is the body and there is the Self. Between them is the mind, in which the Self is reflected as 'I am'. Because of the imperfections of the mind, its crudity and restlessness, lack of discernment and insight, it takes itself to be the body, not the Self. All that is needed is to purify the mind so that it can realise its identity with the Self. When the mind merges in the Self, the body presents no problems. It remains what it is, an instrument of cognition and action, the tool and the expression of the creative fire within: The ultimate value of the body is that it serves to discover the cosmic body, which is the universe in its entirety. As you realise yourself in manifestation, you keep on discovering that you are ever more than what you have imagined.
Q: Is there no end to self-discovery?
M: As there is no beginning, there is no end. But what I have discovered by the grace of my Guru is: I am nothing that can be pointed at. I am neither a 'this' nor a 'that'. This holds absolutely.
Q: Then, where comes in the never-ending discovery, the endless transcending oneself into hew dimensions?
M: All this belongs to the realm of manifestation; it is in the very structure of the universe, that the higher can be had only through the freedom from the lower.
Q: What is lower and what is higher?
M: Look at it in terms of awareness. Wider and deeper consciousness is higher. All that lives, works for protecting, perpetuating and expanding consciousness. This is the world's sole meaning and purpose. It is the very essence of Yoga -- ever raising the level of consciousness, discovery of new dimensions, with their properties, qualities and powers. In that sense the entire universe becomes a school of Yoga (yogakshetra).
Q: Is perfection the destiny of all human beings?
M: Of all living beings -- ultimately. The possibility becomes a certainty when the notion of enlightenment appears in the mind. Once a living being has heard and understood that deliverance is within his reach, he will never forget, for it is the first message from within. It will take roots and grow and in due course take the blessed shape of the Guru.
Q: So all we are concerned with is the redemption of the mind?
M: What else? The mind goes astray, the mind returns home. Even the word 'astray' is not proper. The mind must know itself in every mood. Nothing is a mistake unless repeated.
Questioner: I would like to go again into the question of pleasure and pain, desire and fear. I understand fear which is memory and anticipation of pain. It is essential for the preservation of the organism and its living pattern. Needs, when felt, are painful and their anticipation is full of fear; we are rightly afraid of not being able to meet our basic needs. The relief experienced when a need is met, or an anxiety allayed is entirely due to the ending of pain. We may give it positive names like pleasure, or joy, or happiness, but essentially it is relief from pain. It is this fear of pain that holds together our social, economic and political institutions.
What puzzles me is that we derive pleasure from things and states of mind, which have nothing to do with survival. On the contrary, our pleasures are usually destructive. They damage or destroy the object, the instrument and also the subject of pleasure. Otherwise, pleasure and pursuit of pleasure would be no problem. This brings me to the core of my question: why is pleasure destructive? Why, in spite of its destructiveness, is it wanted?
I may add, I do not have in mind the pleasure-pain pattern by which nature compels us to go her way. I think of the man-made pleasures, both sensory and subtle, ranging from the grossest, like overeating, to the most refined. Addiction to pleasure, at whatever cost, is so universal that there must be something significant at the root of it.
Of course, not every activity of man must be utilitarian, designed to meet a need. Play, for example, is natural and man is the most playful animal in existence. Play fulfils the need for self-discovery and self-development. But even on his play man becomes destructive of nature, others and himself.
Maharaj: In short, you do not object to pleasure, but only to its price in pain and sorrow.
Q: If reality itself is bliss, then pleasure in some way must be related to it.
M: Let us not proceed by verbal logic. The bliss of reality does not exclude suffering. Besides, you know only pleasure, not the bliss of pure being. So let us examine pleasure at its own level.
If you look at yourself in your moments of pleasure or pain, you will invariably find that it is not the thing in itself that is pleasant or painful, but the situation of which it is a part. Pleasure lies in the relationship between the enjoyer and the enjoyed. And the essence of it is acceptance. Whatever may be the situation, if it is acceptable, it is pleasant. If it is not acceptable, it is painful. What makes it acceptable is not important; the cause may be physical, or psychological, or untraceable; acceptance is the decisive factor. Obversely, suffering is due to nonacceptance.
Q: Pain is not acceptable.
M: Why not? Did you ever try? Do try and you will find in pain a joy which pleasure cannot yield, for the simple reason that acceptance of pain takes you much deeper than pleasure does. The personal self by its very nature is constantly pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain. The ending of this pattern is the ending of the self. The ending of the self with its desires and fears enables you to return to your real nature, the source of all happiness and peace. The perennial desire for pleasure is the reflection of the timeless harmony within. It is an observable fact that one becomes self-conscious only when caught in the conflict between pleasure and pain, which demands choice and decision. It is this clash between desire and fear that causes anger, which is the great destroyer of sanity in life. When pain is accepted for what it is, a lesson and a warning, and deeply looked into and heeded, the separation between pain and pleasure breaks down, both become experience -- painful when resisted, joyful when accepted.
Q: Do you advise shunning pleasure and pursuing pain?
M: No, nor pursuing pleasure and shunning pain. Accept both as they come, enjoy both while they last, let them go, as they must.
Q: How can I possibly enjoy pain? Physical pain calls for action.
M: Of course. And so does Mental. The bliss is in the awareness of it, in not shrinking, or in any way turning away from it. All happiness comes from awareness. The more we are conscious, the deeper the joy. Acceptance of pain, non-resistance, courage and endurance -- these open deep and perennial sources of real happiness, true bliss.
Q: Why should pain be more effective than pleasure?
M: Pleasure is readily accepted, while all the powers of the self reject pain. As the acceptance of pain is the denial of the self, and the self stands in the way of true happiness, the wholehearted acceptance of pain releases the springs of happiness.
Q: Does the acceptance of suffering act the same way?
M: The fact of pain is easily brought within the focus of awareness. With suffering it is not that simple. To focus suffering is not enough, for mental life, as we know it, is one continuous stream of suffering. To reach the deeper layers of suffering you must go to its roots and uncover their vast underground network, where fear and desire are closely interwoven and the currents of life's energy oppose, obstruct and destroy each other.
Q: How can I set right a tangle which is entirely below the level of my consciousness?
M: By being with yourself, the 'I am'; by watching yourself in your daily life with alert interest, with the intention to understand rather than to judge, in full acceptance of whatever may emerge, because it is there, you encourage the deep to come to the surface and enrich your life and consciousness with its captive energies. This is the great work of awareness; it removes obstacles and releases energies by understanding the nature of life and mind. Intelligence is the door to freedom and alert attention is the mother of intelligence.
Q: One more question. Why does pleasure end in pain?
M: Everything has a beginning and an end and so does pleasure. Don't anticipate and don't regret, and there will be no pain. it is memory and imagination that cause suffering.
Of course pain after pleasure may be due to the misuse of the body or the mind. The body knows its measure, but the mind does not. Its appetites are numberless and limitless. Watch your mind with great diligence, for there lies your bondage and also the key to freedom.
Q: My question is not yet fully answered: Why are man's pleasures destructive? Why does he find so much pleasure in destruction? Life's concern lies in protection, perpetuation and expansion of itself. In this it is guided by pain and pleasure. At what point do they become destructive?
M: When the mind takes over, remembers and anticipates, it exaggerates, it distorts, it overlooks. The past is projected into future and the future betrays the expectations. The organs of sensation and action are stimulated beyond capacity and they inevitably break down. The objects of pleasure cannot yield what is expected of them and get worn out, or destroyed, by misuse. It results in excess of pain where pleasure was looked for.
Q: We destroy not only ourselves, but others too!
M: Naturally, selfishness is always destructive. Desire and fear, both are self-centred states. Between desire and fear anger arises, with anger hatred, with hatred passion for destruction. War is hatred in action, organised and equipped with all the instruments of death.
Q: Is there a way to end these horrors?
M: When more people come to know their real nature, their influence, however subtle, will prevail and the world's emotional atmosphere will sweeten up. People follow their leaders and when among the leaders appear some, great in heart and mind, and absolutely free from self-seeking, their impact will be enough to make the crudities and crimes of the present age impossible. A new golden age may come and last for a time and succumb to its own perfection. For, ebb begins when the tide is at its highest.
Q: Is there no such thing as permanent perfection?
M: Yes, there is, but it includes all imperfection. It is the perfection of our self-nature which makes everything possible, perceivable, interesting. It knows no suffering, for it neither likes nor dislikes; neither accepts nor rejects. Creation and destruction are the two poles between which it weaves its ever-changing pattern. Be free from predilections and preferences and the mind with its burden of sorrow will be no more.
Q: But I am not alone to suffer. There are others.
M: When you go to them with your desires and fears, you merely add to their sorrows. First be free of suffering yourself and then only hope of helping others. You do not even need to hope -- your very existence will be the greatest help a man can give his fellowmen.
Questioner: You say that whatever you see is yourself. You also admit that you see the world as we see it. Here is today's newspaper with All the horrors going on. Since the world is yourself, how can you explain such misbehaviour?
Maharaj: Which world do you have in mind?
Q: Our common world, in which we live.
M: Are you sure we live in the same world? I do not mean nature, the sea and the land, plants and animals. They are not the problem, nor the endless space, the infinite time, the inexhaustible power. Do not be misled by my eating and smoking, reading and talking. My mind is not here, my life is not here. Your world, of desires and their fulfilments, of fears and their escapes, is definitely not my world. I do not even perceive it, except through what you tell me about it. It is your private dream world and my only reaction to it is to ask you to stop dreaming.
Q: Surely, wars and revolutions are not dreams. Sick mothers and starving children are not dreams. Wealth, ill-gotten and misused, is not a dream.
M: What else?
Q: A dream cannot be shared.
M: Nor can the waking state. All the three states -- of waking, dreaming and sleeping -- are subjective, personal, intimate. They all happen to and are contained within the little bubble in consciousness, called 'I'. The real world lies beyond the self.
Q: Self or no self, facts are real.
M: Of course facts are real! I live among them. But you live with fancies, not with facts. Facts never clash, while your life and world are full of contradictions. Contradiction is the mark of the false; the real never contradicts itself.
For instance, you complain that people are abjectly poor. Yet you do not share your riches with them. You mind the war next door, but you hardly give it a thought when it is in some far off country. The shifting fortunes of your ego determine your values; 'I think', 'I want', 'I must' are made into absolutes.
Q: Nevertheless, the evil is real.
M: Not more real than you are. Evil is in the wrong approach to problems created by misunderstanding and misuse. It is a vicious circle.
Q: Can the circle be broken?
M: A false circle need not be broken. It is enough to see it as it is -- non-existent.
Q: But, real enough to make us submit to and inflict indignities and atrocities.
M: Insanity is universal. Sanity is rare. Yet there is hope, because the moment we perceive our insanity, we are on the way to sanity. This is the function of the Guru -- to make us see the madness of our daily living. Life makes you conscious, but the teacher makes you aware.
Q: Sir, you are neither the first nor the last. Since immemorial times people were breaking into reality. Yet how little it affected our lives! The Ramas and the Krishnas, the Buddhas and the Christs have come and gone and we are as we were; wallowing in sweat and tears. What have the great ones done, whose lives we witnessed? What have you done, Sir, to alleviate the world's thrall?
M: You alone can undo the evil you have created. Your own callous selfishness is at the root of it. Put first your own house in order and you will see that your work is done.
Q: The men of wisdom and of love, who came before us, did set themselves right, often at a tremendous cost. What was the outcome? A shooting star, however bright, does not make the night less dark.
M: To judge them and their work you must become one of them. A frog in a well knows nothing about the birds in the sky.
Q: Do you mean to say that between good and evil there is no wall?
M: There is no wall, because there is no good and no evil. In every concrete situation there is only the necessary and the unnecessary. The needful is right, the needless is wrong.
Q: Who decides?
M: The situation decides. Every situation is a challenge which demands the right response. When the response is right, the challenge is met and the problem ceases. If the response is wrong, the challenge is not met and the problem remains unsolved. Your unsolved problems -- that is what constitutes your karma. Solve them rightly and be free.
Q: You seem to drive me always back into myself. Is there no objective solution to the world's problems?
M: The world problems were created by numberless people like you, each full of his own desires and fears. Who can free you of your past, personal and social, except yourself? And how will you do it unless you see the urgent need of your being first free of cravings born of illusion? How can you truly help, as long as you need help yourself?
Q: In what way did the ancient sages help? In what way do you help? A few individuals profit, no doubt; your guidance and example may mean a lot to them; but in what way do you affect humanity, the totality of life and consciousness? You say that you are the world and the world is you; what impact have you made on it?
M: What kind of Impact do you expect?
Q: Man is stupid, selfish, cruel.
M: Man is also wise, affectionate and kind.
Q: Why does not goodness prevail?
M: It does -- in my real world. In my world even what you call evil is the servant of the good and therefore necessary. It is like boils and fevers that clear the body of impurities. Disease is painful, even dangerous, but if dealt with rightly, it heals.
Q: Or kills.
M: In some cases death is the best cure. A life may be worse than death, which is but rarely an unpleasant experience, whatever the appearances. Therefore, pity the living, never the dead. This problem of things, good and evil in themselves, does not exist in my world. The needful is good and the needless is evil. In your world the pleasant is good and the painful is evil.
Q: What is necessary?
M: To grow is necessary. To outgrow is necessary. To leave behind the good for the sake of the better is necessary.
Q: To what end?
M: The end is in the beginning. You end where you start -- in the Absolute.
Q: Why all this trouble then? To come back to where I started?
M: Whose trouble? Which trouble? Do you pity the seed that is to grow and multiply till it becomes a mighty forest? Do you kill an infant to save him from the bother of living? What is wrong with life, ever more life? Remove the obstacles to growing and all your personal, social, economic and political problems will just dissolve. The universe is perfect as a whole and the part's striving for perfection is a way of joy. Willingly sacrifice the imperfect to the perfect and there will be no more talk about good and evil.
Q: Yet we are afraid of the better and cling to the worse.
M: This is our stupidity, verging on insanity.
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