I am that by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - HTML preview
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Real World is Beyond the
Questioner: On several occasions the question was raised as to whether the universe is subject to the law of causation, or does it exist and function outside the law. You seem to hold the view that it is uncaused, that everything, however small, is uncaused, arising and disappearing for no known reason whatsoever.
Maharaj: Causation means succession in time of events in space, the space being physical or mental. Time, space, causation are mental categories, arising and subsiding with the mind.
Q: As long as the mind operates, causation is a valid law.
M: Like everything mental, the so-called law of causation contradicts itself. No thing in existence has a particular cause; the entire universe contributes to the existence of even the smallest thing; nothing could be as it is without the universe being what it is. When the source and ground of everything is the only cause of everything, to speak of causality as a universal law is wrong.
The universe is not bound by its content, because its potentialities are infinite; besides it is a manifestation, or expression of a principle fundamentally and totally free.
Q: Yes, one can see that ultimately to speak of one thing being the only cause of another thing is altogether wrong. Yet, in actual life we invariably initiate action with a view to a result.
M: Yes, there is a lot of such activity going on, because of ignorance. Would people know that nothing can happen unless the entire universe makes it happen, they would achieve much more with less expenditure of energy.
I AM THAT
Q: If everything is an expression of the totality of causes, how can we talk of a purposeful action towards an achievement?
M: The very urge to achieve is also an expression of the total universe. It merely shows that the energy potential has risen at a particular point. It is the illusion of time that makes you talk of causality. When the past and the future are seen in the timeless now, as parts of a common pattern, the idea of cause-effect loses its validity and creative freedom takes its place.
Q: Yet, I cannot see how anything come to be without a cause.
M: When I say a thing is without a cause, I mean it can be without a particular cause. Your own mother was not needed to give you birth; you could have been born from some other woman.
But you could not have been born without the sun and the earth.
Even these could not have caused your birth without the most important factor: your own desire to be born. It is desire that gives birth, that gives name and form. The desirable is imagined and wanted and manifests itself as something tangible or conceivable. Thus is created the world in which we live, our personal world. The real world is beyond the mind’s ken; we see it through the net of our desires, divided into pleasure and pain, right and wrong, inner and outer. To see the universe as it is, you must step beyond the net. It is not hard to do so, for the net is full of holes.
Q: What do you mean by holes? And how to find them?
M: Look at the net and its many contradictions. You do and undo at every step. You want peace, love, happiness, and work hard to create pain, hatred and war. You want longevity and overeat, you want friendship and exploit. See your net as made of such contradictions and remove them — your very seeing them will make them go.
Q: Since my seeing the contradiction makes it go, is there no causal link between my seeing and its going?
M: Causality, even as a concept, does not apply to chaos.
Q: To what extent is desire a causal factor?
M: One of the many. For everything there are innumerable causal factors. But the source of all that is, is the Infinite Possibil-REAL WORLD IS BEYOND THE MIND
ity, the Supreme Reality, which is in you and which throws its power and light and love on every experience. But, this source is not a cause and no cause is a source. Because of that, I say everything is uncaused. You may try to trace how a thing happens, but you cannot find out why a thing is as it is. A thing is as it is, because the universe is as it is.
What is Born must Die
Questioner: Is the witness-consciousness permanent or not?
Maharaj: It is not permanent. The knower rises and sets with the known. That in which both the knower and the known arise and set, is beyond time. The words permanent or eternal do not apply.
Q: In sleep there is neither the known, nor the knower. What keeps the body sensitive and receptive?
M: Surely you cannot say the knower was absent. The experience of things and thoughts was not there, that is all. But the absence of experience too is experience. It is like entering a dark room and saying ‘I see nothing’. A man blind from birth knows not what darkness means. Similarly, only the knower knows that he does not know. Sleep is merely a lapse in memory. Life goes on.
Q: And what is death?
M: It is the change in the living process of a particular body. Integration ends and disintegration sets in.
I AM THAT
Q: But what about the knower. With the disappearance of the body, does the knower disappear?
M: Just as the knower of the body appears at birth, so he disappears at death.
Q: And nothing remains?
M: Life remains. Consciousness needs a vehicle and an instrument for its manifestation. When life produces another body, another knower comes into being.
Q: Is there a causal link between the successive body-knowers, or body-minds?
M: Yes, there is something that may be called the memory body, or causal body, a record of all that was thought, wanted and done. It is like a cloud of images held together.
Q: What is this sense of a separate existence?
M: It is a reflection in a separate body of the one reality. In this reflection the unlimited and the limited are confused and taken to be the same. To undo this confusion is the purpose of Yoga.
Q: Does not death undo this confusion?
M: In death only the body dies. Life does not, consciousness does not, reality does not. And the life is never so alive as after death.
Q: But does one get reborn?
M: What was born must die. Only the unborn is deathless. Find what is it that never sleeps and never wakes, and whose pale reflection is our sense of ‘I’.
Q: How am I to go about this finding out?
M: How do you go about finding anything? By keeping your mind and heart on it. Interest there must be and steady remembrance. To remember what needs to be remembered is the sec-et of success. You come to it through earnestness.
Q: Do you mean to say that mere wanting to find out is enough?
Surely, both qualifications and opportunities are needed.
M: These will come with earnestness. What is supremely important is to be free from contradictions: the goal and the way must not be on different levels; life and light must not quarrel; be-WHAT IS BORN MUST DIE
haviour must not betray belief. Call it honesty, integrity, whole-ness; you must not go back, undo, uproot, abandon the conquered ground. Tenacity of purpose and honesty in pursuit will bring you to your goal.
Q: Tenacity and honesty are endowments, surely! Not a trace of them I have.
M: All will come as you go on. Take the first step first. All blessings come from within. Turn within. ‘I am’ you know. Be with it all the time you can spare, until you revert to it spontaneously.
There is no simpler and easier way.
Questioner: All teachers advise to meditate. What is the purpose of meditation?
Maharaj: We know the outer world of sensations and actions, but of our inner world of thoughts and feelings we know very little. The primary purpose of meditation is to become conscious of, and familiar with, our inner life. The ultimate purpose is to reach the source of life and consciousness.
Incidentally, practice of meditation affects deeply our character. We are slaves to what we do not know: of what we know we are masters. Whatever vice or weakness in ourselves we discover and understand its causes and its workings, we overcome it by the very knowing; the unconscious dissolves when brought into the conscious. The dissolution of the unconscious 14
I AM THAT
releases energy; the mind feels adequate and become quiet.
Q: What is the use of a quiet mind?
M: When the mind is quiet, we come to know ourselves as the pure witness. We withdraw from the experience and its experiencer and stand apart in pure awareness, which is between and beyond the two. The personality, based on self-identification, on imagining oneself to be something: ‘I am this, I am that’, continues, but only as a part of the objective world. Its identification with the witness snaps.
Q: As I can make out, I live on many levels and life on each level requires energy. The Self by its very nature delights in everything and its energies flow outwards. Is not the purpose of meditation to dam up the energies on the higher levels, or to push them back and up, so as to enable the higher levels to prosper also?
M: It is not so much the matter of levels as of gunas (qualities).
Meditation is a sattvic activity and aims at complete elimination of tamas (inertia) and rajas (motivity). Pure sattva (harmony) is perfect freedom from sloth and restlessness.
Q: How to strengthen and purify the sattva?
M: The sattva is pure and strong always. It is like the sun. It may seem obscured by clouds and dust, but only from the point of view of the perceiver. Deal with the causes of obscuration, not with the sun.
Q: What is the use of sattva?
M: What is the use of truth, goodness, harmony, beauty? They are their own goal. They manifest spontaneously and effortlessly, when things are left to themselves, are not interfered with, not shunned, or wanted, or conceptualized, but just experienced in full awareness. Such awareness itself is sattva. It does not make use of things and people — it fulfils them.
Q: Since I cannot improve sattva, am I to deal with tamas and rajas only? How do I deal with them?
M: By watching their influence in you and on you. Be aware of them in operation, watch their expressions in your thoughts, words and deeds, and gradually their grip on you will lessen and the clear light of sattva will emerge. It is neither a difficult, MEDITATION
nor a protracted process; earnestness is the only condition of success.
Questioner: There are very interesting books written by apparently very competent people, in which the illusoriness of the world is denied (though not its transitoriness). According to them, there exists a hierarchy of beings, from the lowest to the highest; on each level the complexity of the organism enables and reflects the depth, breadth and intensity of consciousness, without any visible or knowable culmination. One law supreme rules throughout: evolution of forms for the growth and enrichment of consciousness and manifestation of its infinite potentialities.
Maharaj: This may or may not be so. Even if it is, it is only so from the mind’s point of view, but in fact the entire universe (mahadakash) exists only in consciousness (chidakash), while I have my stand in the Absolute (paramakash). In pure being consciousness arises; in consciousness the world appears and disappears. All there is is me, all there is is mine. Before all beginnings, after all endings — I am. All has its being in me, in the
‘I am’, that shines in every living being. Even not-being is unthinkable without me. Whatever happens, I must be there to witness it.
Q: Why do you deny being to the world?
I AM THAT
M: I do not negate the world. I see it as appearing in consciousness, which is the totality of the known in the immensity of the unknown.
What begins and ends is mere appearance. The world can be said to appear, but not to be. The appearance may last very long on some scale of time, and be very short on another, but ultimately it comes to the same. Whatever is time bound is momentary and has no reality.
Q: Surely, you see the actual world as it surrounds you. You seem to behave quite normally!
M: That is how it appears to you. What in your case occupies the entire field of consciousness, is a mere speck in mine. The world lasts, but for a moment. It is your memory that makes you think that the world continues. Myself, I don’t live by memory. I see the world as it is, a momentary appearance in consciousness.
Q: In your consciousness?
M: All idea of ‘me’ and ‘mine’, even of ‘I am’ is in consciousness.
Q: Is then your ‘absolute being’ (paramakash) unconsciousness?
M: The idea of un-consciousness exists in consciousness only.
Q: Then, how do you know you are in the supreme state?
M: Because I am in it. It is the only natural state.
Q: Can you describe it?
M: Only by negation, as uncaused, independent, unrelated, undivided, uncomposed, unshakable, unquestionable, unreachable by effort. Every positive definition is from memory and, therefore, inapplicable. And yet my state is supremely actual and, therefore, possible, realizable, attainable.
Q: Are you not immersed timelessly in an abstraction?
M: Abstraction is mental and verbal and disappears in sleep, or swoon; it reappears in time; I am in my own state (swarupa) timelessly in the now. Past and future are in the mind only — I am now.
Q: The world too is now.
M: Which world?
Q: The world around us.
M: It is your world you have in mind, not mine. What do you know of me, when even my talk with you is in your world only?
You have no reason to believe that my world is identical with yours. My world is real, true, as it is perceived, while yours appears and disappears, according to the state of your mind. Your world is something alien, and you are afraid of it. My world is myself. I am at home.
Q: If you are the world, how can you be conscious of it? Is not the subject of consciousness different from its object?
M: Consciousness and the world appear and disappear together, hence they are two aspects of the same state.
Q: In sleep I am not, and the world continues.
M: How do you know?
Q: On waking up I come to know. My memory tells me.
M: Memory is in the mind. The mind continues in sleep.
Q: It is partly in abeyance.
M: But its world picture is not affected. As long as the mind is there, your body and your world are there. Your world is mind-made, subjective, enclosed within the mind, fragmentary, temporary, personal, hanging on the thread of memory.
Q: So is yours?
M: Oh, no. I live in a world of realities, while yours is of imaginings. Your world is personal, private, unshareable, intimately your own. Nobody can enter it, see as you see, hear as you hear, feel your emotions and think your thoughts. ln your world you are truly alone, enclosed in your ever-changing dream, which you take for life. My world is an open world, common to all, accessible to all. In my world there is community, insight, love, real quality; the individual is the total, the totality — in the individual. AII are one and the One is all.
Q: Is your world full of things and people as is mine?
M: No, it is full of myself.
Q: But do you see and hear as we do?
I AM THAT
M: Yes, I appear to hear and see and talk and act, but to me it just happens, as to you digestion or perspiration happens. The body-mind machine looks after it, but leaves me out of it. Just as you do not need to worry about growing hair, so I need not worry about words and actions. They just happen and leave me unconcerned, for in my world nothing ever goes wrong.
The Self Stands Beyond Mind
Questioner: As a child fairly often I experienced states of complete happiness, verging on ecstasy: Later, they ceased, But since I came to India they reappeared, particularly after I met you. Yet these states, however wonderful, are not lasting. They come and go and there is no knowing when they will come back.
Maharaj: How can anything be steady in a mind which itself is not steady?
Q: How can I make my mind steady?
M: How can an unsteady mind make itself steady? Of course it cannot. It is the nature of the mind to roam about. All you can do is to shift the focus of consciousness beyond the mind.
Q: How is it done?
M: Refuse all thoughts except one: the thought ‘I am’. The mind will rebel in the beginning, but with patience and perseverance it will yield and keep quiet. Once you are quiet, things will begin THE SELF STANDS BEYOND MIND
to happen spontaneously and quite naturally, without any interference on your part.
Q: Can I avoid this protracted battle with my mind?
M: Yes, you can. Just live your life as it comes, but alertly, watchfully, allowing everything to happen as it happens, doing the natural things the natural way, suffering, rejoicing — as life brings. This also is a way.
Q: Well, then I can as well marry, have children, run a business... be happy.
M: Sure. You may or may not be happy, take it in your stride.
Q: Yet I want happiness.
M: True happiness cannot be found in things that change and pass away. Pleasure and pain alternate inexorably. Happiness comes from the self and can be found in the self only. Find your real self (swarupa) and all else will come with it.
Q: If my real self is peace and love, why is it so restless?
M: It is not your real being that is restless, but its reflection in the mind appears restless because the mind is restless. It is just like the reflection of the moon in the water stirred by the wind.
The wind of desire stirs the mind and the ‘me’, which is but a reflection of the Self in the mind, appears changeful. But these ideas of movement, of restlessness, of pleasure and pain are all in the mind. The Self stands beyond the mind, aware, but unconcerned.
Q: How to reach it?
M: You are the Self, here and now. Leave the mind alone, stand aware and unconcerned and you will realize that to stand alert but detached, watching events come and go, is an aspect of your real nature.
Q: What are the other aspects?
M: The aspects are infinite in number. Realize one, and you will realize all.
Q: Tell me some thing that would help me.
M: You know best what you need!
Q: I am restless. How can I gain peace?
I AM THAT
M: For what do you need peace?
Q: To be happy.
M: Are you not happy now?
Q: No, I am not.
M: What makes you unhappy?
Q: I have what I don’t want, and I want what I don’t have.
M: Why don’t you invert it: want what you have and care not for what you don’t have?
Q: I want what is pleasant and don’t want what is painful.
M: How do you know what is pleasant and what is not?
Q: From past experience, of course.
M: Guided by memory you have been pursuing the pleasant and shunning the unpleasant. Have you succeeded?
Q: No, I have not. The pleasant does not last. Pain sets in again.
M: Which pain?
Q: The desire for pleasure, the fear of pain, both are states of distress. Is there a state of unalloyed pleasure?
M: Every pleasure, physical or mental, needs an instrument.
Both the physical and mental instruments are material, they get tired and worn out. The pleasure they yield is necessarily limited in intensity and duration. Pain is the background of all your pleasures. You want them because you suffer. On the other hand, the very search for pleasure is the cause of pain. It is a vicious circle.
Q: I can see the mechanism of my confusion, but I do not see my way out of it.
M: The very examination of the mechanism shows the way.
After all, your confusion is only in your mind, which never rebelled so far against confusion and never got to grips with it. It rebelled only against pain.
Q: So, all I can do is to stay confused?
M: Be alert. Question, observe, investigate, learn all you can about confusion, how it operates, what it does to you and THE SELF STANDS BEYOND MIND
others. By being clear about confusion you become clear of confusion.
Q: When I look into myself, I find my strongest desire is to create a monument, to build something which will outlast me.
Even when I think of a home, wife and child, it is because it is a lasting, solid, testimony to myself.
M: Right, build yourself a monument. How do you propose to do it?
Q: It matters little what I build, as long as it is permanent.
M: Surely, you can see for yourself that nothing is permanent.
All wears out, breaks down, dissolves. The very ground on which you build gives way. What can you build that will outlast all?
Q: Intellectually, verbally, I am aware that all is transient. Yet, somehow my heart wants permanency. I want to create something that lasts.
M: Then you must build it of something lasting. What have you that is lasting? Neither your body nor mind will last. You must look elsewhere.
Q: I long for permanency, but I find it nowhere.
M: Are you, yourself, not permanent?
Q: I was born, I shall die.
M: Can you truly say you were not before you were born and can you possibly say when dead: ‘Now I am no more’? You cannot say from your own experience that you are not. You can only say ‘I am’. Others too cannot tell you ‘you are not’.
Q: There is no ‘I am’ in sleep.
M: Before you make such sweeping statements, examine carefully your waking state. You will soon discover that it is full of gaps, when the mind blanks out. Notice how little you remember even when fully awake. You cannot say that you were not conscious during sleep. You just don’t remember. A gap in memory is not necessarily a gap in consciousness.
Q: Can I make myself remember my state of deep sleep?
M: Of course! By eliminating the intervals of inadvertence during your waking hours you will gradually eliminate the long inter-22
I AM THAT
val of absent-mindedness, which you call sleep. You will be aware that you are asleep.
Q: Yet, the problem of permanency, of continuity of being, is not solved.
M: Permanency is a mere idea, born of the action of time. Time again depends on memory. By permanency you mean unfailing memory through endless time. You want to eternalize the mind, which is not possible.
Q: Then what is eternal?
M: That which does not change with time. You cannot eternalize a transient thing — only the changeless is eternal.
Q: I am familiar with the general sense of what you say. I do not crave for more knowledge. All I want is peace.
M: You can have for the asking all the peace you want.
Q: I am asking.
M: You must ask with an undivided heart and live an integrated life.
M: Detach yourself from all that makes your mind restless. Renounce all that disturbs its peace. If you want peace, deserve it.
Q: Surely everybody deserves peace.
M: Those only deserve it, who don’t disturb it.
Q: In what way do I disturb peace?
M: By being a slave to your desires and fears.
Q: Even when they are justified?
M: Emotional reactions, born of ignorance or inadvertence, are never justified. Seek a clear mind and a clean heart. All you need is to keep quietly alert, enquiring into the real nature of yourself. This is the only way to peace.
Responses of Memory
Questioner: Some say the universe was created. Others say that it always existed and is for ever undergoing transformations. Some say it is subject to eternal laws. Others deny even causality. Some say the world is real. Others — that it has no being whatsoever.
Maharaj: Which world are you enquiring about?
Q: The world of my perceptions, of course.
M: The world you can perceive is a very small world indeed.
And it is entirely private. Take it to be a dream and be done with it.
Q: How can I take it to be a dream? A dream does not last.
M: How long will your own little world last?
Q: After all, my little world is but a part of the total.
M: Is not the idea of a total world a part of your personal world?
The universe does not come to tell you that you are a part of it. It is you who have invented a totality to contain you as a part. In fact all you know is your own private world, however well you have furnished it with your imaginations and expectations.
Q: Surely, perception is not imagination!
M: What else? Perception is recognition, is it not? Something entirely unfamiliar can be sensed, but cannot be perceived.
Perception involves memory.
Q: Granted, but memory does not make it illusion.
M: Perception, imagination, expectation, anticipation, illusion
— all are based on memory. There are hardly any border lines between them. They just merge into each other. All are responses of memory.
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Q: Still, memory is there to prove the reality of my world.
M: How much do you remember? Try to write down from memory what you were thinking, saying and doing on the 30th of the last month.
Q: Yes, there is a blank.
M: It is not so bad. You do remember a lot — unconscious memory makes the world in which you live so familiar.
Q: Admitted that the world in which I live is subjective and partial. What about you? In what kind of world do you live?
M: My world is just like yours. I see, I hear, I feel, I think, I speak and act in a world I perceive, just like you. But with you it is all, with me it is almost nothing. Knowing the world to be a part of myself, I pay it no more attention than you pay to the food you have eaten. While being prepared and eaten, the food is separate from you and your mind is on it; once swallowed, you become totally unconscious of it. I have eaten up the world and I need not think of it any more.
Q: Don’t you become completely irresponsible?
M: How could I? How can I hurt something which is one with me. On the contrary, without thinking of the world, whatever I do will be of benefit to it. Just as the body sets itself right unconsciously, so am I ceaselessly active in setting the world right.
Q: Nevertheless, you are aware of the immense suffering of the world?
M: Of course I am, much more than you are.
Q: Then what do you do?
M: I look at it through the eyes of God and find that all is well.
Q: How can you say that all is well? Look at the wars, the exploitation, the cruel strife between the citizen and the state.
M: All these sufferings are man-made and it is within man’s power to put an end to them. God helps by facing man with the results of his actions and demanding that the balance should be restored. Karma is the law that works for righteousness; it is the healing hand of God.
Questioner: I am full of desires and want them fulfilled. How am I to get what I want?
Maharaj: Do you deserve what you desire? In some way or other you have to work for the fulfilment of your desires. Put in energy and wait for the results.
Q: Where am I to get the energy?
M: The desire itself is energy.
Q: Then why does not every desire get fulfilled?
M: Maybe it was not strong enough and lasting.
Q: Yes, that is my problem. I want things, but I am lazy when it comes to action.
M: When your desire is not clear nor strong, it cannot take shape. Besides, if your desires are personal, for your own enjoyment, the energy you give them is necessarily limited; it cannot be more than what you have.
Q: Yet, often ordinary persons do attain what they desire.
M: After desiring it very much and for a long time. Even then, their achievements are limited.
Q: And what about unselfish desires?
M: When you desire the common good, the whole world desires with you. Make humanity’s desire your own and work for it.
There you cannot fail.
Q: Humanity is God’s work, not mine. I am concerned with myself. Have I not the right to see my legitimate desires fulfilled?
They will hurt no one. My desires are legitimate. They are right desires, why don’t they come true?
M: Desires are right or wrong according to circumstances; it 26
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depends on how you look at them. It is only for the individual that a distinction between right and wrong is valid.
Q: What are the guide-lines for such distinction? How am I to know which of my desires are right and which are wrong?
M: In your case desires that lead to sorrow are wrong and those which lead to happiness are right. But you must not forget others. Their sorrow and happiness also count.
Q: Results are in the future. How can I know what they will be?
M: Use your mind. Remember. Observe. You are not different from others. Most of their experiences are valid for you too.
Think clearly and deeply, go into the entire structure of your desires and their ramifications. They are a most important part of your mental and emotional make-up and powerfully affect your actions. Remember, you cannot abandon what you do not know. To go beyond yourself, you must know yourself.
Q: What does it mean to know myself? By knowing myself what exactly do I come to know?
M: All that you are not.
Q: And not what I am?
M: What you are, you already are. By knowing what you are not, you are free of it and remain in your own natural state. It all happens quite spontaneously and effortlessly.
Q: And what do I discover?
M: You discover that there is nothing to discover. You are what you are and that is all.
Q: But ultimately what am I?
M: The ultimate denial of all you are not.
Q: I do not understand!
M: It is your fixed idea that you must be something or other, that blinds you.
Q: How can I get rid of this idea?
M: If you trust me, believe when I tell you that you are the pure awareness that illumines consciousness and its infinite content.
Realize this and live accordingly. If you do not believe me, then go within, enquiring ‘What am I’? or, focus your mind on ‘I am’, WITNESSING
which is pure and simple being.
Q: On what my faith in you depends?
M: On your insight into other people’s hearts. If you cannot look into my heart, look into your own.
Q: I can do neither.
M: Purify yourself by a well-ordered and useful life. Watch over your thoughts, feelings, words and actions. This will clear your vision.
Q: Must I not renounce every thing first, and live a homeless life?
M: You cannot renounce. You may leave your home and give trouble to your family, but attachments are in the mind and will not leave you until you know your mind in and out. First thing first
— know yourself, all else will come with it.
Q: But you already told me that I am the Supreme Reality. Is it not self-knowledge?
M: Of course you are the Supreme Reality! But what of it? Every grain of sand is God; to know it is important, but that is only the beginning.
Q: Well, you told me that I am the Supreme Reality. I believe you. What next is there for me to do?
M: I told you already. Discover all you are not. Body, feelings, thoughts, ideas, time, space, being and not-being, this or that
— nothing concrete or abstract you can point out to is you. A mere verbal statement will not do — you may repeat a formula endlessly without any result whatsoever. You must watch yourself continuously — particularly your mind — moment by moment, missing nothing. This witnessing is essential for the separation of the self from the not-self.
Q: The witnessing — is it not my real nature?
M: For witnessing, there must be something else to witness. We are still in duality!
Q: What about witnessing the witness? Awareness of awareness?
M: Putting words together will not take you far. Go within and discover what you are not. Nothing else matters.
Questioner: What do you do when asleep?
Maharaj: I am aware of being asleep.
Q: Is not sleep a state of unconsciousness?
M: Yes, I am aware of being unconscious.
Q: And when awake, or dreaming?
M: I am aware of being awake, or dreaming.
Q: I do not catch you. What exactly do you mean? Let me make my terms clear: by being asleep I mean unconscious, by being awake I mean conscious, by dreaming I mean conscious of one’s mind, but not of the surroundings.
M: Well, it is about the same with me. Yet, there seems to be a difference. In each state you forget the other two, while to me there is but one state of being, including and transcending the three mental states of waking, dreaming and sleeping.
Q: Do you see in the world a direction and a purpose?
M: The world is but a reflection of my imagination. Whatever I want to see, I can see. But why should I invent patterns of creation, evolution and destruction? I do not need them. The world is in me, the world is myself. I am not afraid of it and have no desire to lock it up in a mental picture.
Q: Coming back to sleep. Do you dream?
M: Of course.
Q: What are your dreams?
M: Echoes of the waking state.
AWARENESS AND CONSCIOUSNESS
Q: And your deep sleep?
M: The brain consciousness is suspended.
Q: Are you then unconscious?
M: Unconscious of my surroundings — yes.
Q: Not quite unconscious?
M: I remain aware that I am unconscious.
Q: You use the words ‘aware’ and ‘conscious’. Are they not the same?
M: Awareness is primordial; it is the original state, beginningless, endless, uncaused, unsupported, without parts, without change. Consciousness is on contact, a reflection against a surface, a state of duality. There can be no consciousness without awareness, but there can be awareness without consciousness, as in deep sleep. Awareness is absolute, consciousness is relative to its content; consciousness is always of something. Consciousness is partial and changeful, awareness is total, changeless, calm and silent. And it is the common matrix of every experience.
Q: How does one go beyond consciousness into awareness?
M: Since it is awareness that makes consciousness possible, there is awareness in every state of consciousness. Therefore, the very consciousness of being conscious is already a movement in awareness. Interest in your stream of consciousness takes you to awareness. It is not a new state. It is at once recognized as the original, basic existence, which is life itself, and also love and joy.
Q: Since reality is all the times with us, what does self-realization consist of?
M: Realization is but the opposite of ignorance. To take the world as real and one’s self as unreal is ignorance, the cause of sorrow. To know the self as the only reality and all else as temporal and transient is freedom, peace and joy. It is all very simple. Instead of seeing things as imagined, learn to see them as they are. When you can see everything as it is, you will also see yourself as you are. It is like cleansing a mirror. The same mirror that shows you the world as it is, will also show you your own face. The thought ‘I am’ is the polishing cloth. Use it.
The Person is not Reality
Questioner: Kindly tell us how you realized:
Maharaj: I met my Guru when I was 34 and realized by 37.
Q: What happened? What was the change?
M: Pleasure and pain lost their sway over me. I was free from desire and fear. I found myself full, needing nothing. I saw that in the ocean of pure awareness, on the surface of the universal consciousness, the numberless waves of the phenomenal worlds arise and subside beginninglessly and endlessly. As consciousness, they are all me. As events they are all mine.
There is a mysterious power that looks after them. That power is awareness, Self, Life, God, whatever name you give it. It is the foundation, the ultimate support of all that is, just like gold is the basis for all gold jewellery. And it is so intimately ours! Abstract the name and shape from the jewellery and the gold becomes obvious. Be free of name and form and of the desires and fears they create, then what remains?
M: Yes, the void remains. But the void is full to the brim. It is the eternal potential as consciousness is the eternal actual.
Q: By potential you mean the future?
M: Past, present and future — they are all there. And infinitely more.
Q: But since the void is void, it is of little use to us.
M: How can you say so? Without breach in continuity how can there be rebirth? Can there be renewal without death? Even the darkness of sleep is refreshing and rejuvenating. Without death we would have been bogged up for ever in eternal senility.
THE PERSON IS NOT REALITY
Q: Is there no such thing as immortality?
M: When life and death are seen as essential to each other, as two aspects of one being, that is immortality. To see the end in the beginning and beginning in the end is the intimation of eternity. Definitely, immortality is not continuity. Only the process of change continues. Nothing lasts.
Q: Awareness lasts?
M: Awareness is not of time. Time exists in consciousness only.
Beyond consciousness where are time and space?
Q: Within the field of your consciousness there is your body also.
M: Of course. But the idea ‘my body’, as different from other bodies, is not there. To me it is ‘a body’, not ‘my body’, ‘a mind’, not ‘my mind’. The mind looks after the body all right, I need not interfere. What needs be done is being done, in the normal and natural way.
You may not be quite conscious of your physiological functions, but when it comes to thoughts and feelings, desires and fears, you become acutely self-conscious. To me these too are largely unconscious. I find myself talking to people, or doing things quite correctly and appropriately, without being very much conscious of them. It looks as if I live my physical, waking life automatically, reacting spontaneously and accurately.
Q: Does this spontaneous response come as a result of realization, or by training?
M: Both. Devotion to your goal makes you live a clean and orderly life, given to search for truth and to helping people, and realization makes noble virtue easy and spontaneous, by removing for good the obstacles in the shape of desires and fears and wrong ideas.
Q: Don’t you have desires and fears any more?
M: My destiny was to be born a simple man, a commoner, a humble tradesman, with little of formal education. My life was of the common kind, with common desires and fears. When, through my faith in my teacher and obedience to his words, I realized my true being, I left behind my human nature to look after itself, until its destiny is exhausted. Occasionally an old 32
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reaction, emotional or mental, happens in the mind, but it is at once noticed and discarded. After all, as long as one is burdened with a person, one is exposed to its idiosyncrasies and habits.
Q: Are you not afraid of death?
M: I am dead already.
Q: In what sense?
M: I am double dead. Not only am I dead to my body, but to my mind too.
Q: Well, you do not look dead at all!
M: That’s what you say! You seem to know my state better than I do!
Q: Sorry. But I just do not understand. You say you are bodyless and mindless, while I see you very much alive and articu-late.
M: A tremendously complex work is going on all the time in your brain and body, are you conscious of it? Not at all. Yet for an outsider all seems to be going on intelligently and purposefully.
Why not admit that one’s entire personal life may sink largely below the threshold of consciousness and yet proceed sanely and smoothly?
Q: Is it normal?
M: What is normal? Is your life — obsessed by desires and fears, full of strife and struggle, meaningless and joyless —
normal? To be acutely conscious of your body is it normal? To be torn by feelings, tortured by thoughts: is it normal? A healthy body, a healthy mind live largely unperceived by their owner; only occasionally, through pain or suffering they call for attention and insight. Why not extend the same to the entire persona!
life? One can function rightly, responding well and fully to whatever happens, without having to bring it into the focus of awareness. When self-control becomes second nature, awareness shifts its focus to deeper levels of existence and action.
Q: Don’t you become a robot?
M: What harm is there in making automatic, what is habitual and repetitive? It is automatic anyhow. But when it is also chao-THE PERSON IS NOT REALITY
tic, it causes pain and suffering and calls for attention. The entire purpose of a clean and well-ordered life is to liberate man from the thraldom of chaos and the burden of sorrow.
Q: You seem to be in favour of a computerized life.
M: What is wrong with a life which is free from problems? Personality is merely a reflection of the real. Why should not the reflection be true to the original as a matter of course, automatically? Need the person have any designs of its own? The life of which it is an expression will guide it. Once you realize that the person is merely a shadow of the reality, but not reality itself, you cease to fret and worry. You agree to be guided from within and life becomes a journey into the unknown.
The Supreme, the Mind and
Questioner: From what you told us it appears that you are not quite conscious of your surroundings. To us you seem extremely alert and active. We cannot possibly believe that you are in a kind of hypnotic state, which leaves no memory behind.
On the contrary, your memory seems excellent. How are we to understand your statement that the world and all it includes does not exist, as far as you are concerned.
Maharaj: It is all a matter of focus. Your mind is focussed in the world; mine is focussed in reality. It is like the moon in daylight 34
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— when the sun shines, the moon is hardly visible. Or, watch how you take your food. As long as it is in your mouth, you are conscious of it; once swallowed, it does not concern you any longer. It would be troublesome to have it constantly in mind until it is eliminated. The mind should be normally in abeyance
— incessant activity is a morbid state. The universe works by itself — that I know. What else do I need to know?
Q: So a gnani knows what he is doing only when he turns his mind to it; otherwise he just acts, without being concerned.
M: The average man is not conscious of his body as such. He is conscious of his sensations, feelings and thoughts. Even these, once detachment sets in, move away from the centre of consciousness and happen spontaneously and effortlessly.
Q: What then is in the centre of consciousness?
M: That which cannot be given name and form, for it is without quality and beyond consciousness. You may say it is a point in consciousness, which is beyond consciousness. Like a hole in the paper is both in the paper and yet not of paper, so is the supreme state in the very centre of consciousness, and yet beyond consciousness. It is as if an opening in the mind through which the mind is flooded with light. The opening is not even the light. It is just an opening.
Q: An opening is just void, absence.
M: Quite so. From the mind’s point of view, it is but an opening for the light of awareness to enter the mental space. By itself the light can only be compared to a solid, dense, rocklike, homogeneous and changeless mass of pure awareness, free from the mental patterns of name and shape.
Q: Is there any connection between the mental space and the supreme abode?
M: The supreme gives existence to the mind. The mind gives existence to the body.
Q: And what lies beyond?
M: Take an example. A venerable Yogi, a master in the art of longevity, himself over 1000 years old, comes to teach me his art. I fully respect and sincerely admire his achievements, yet all I can tell him is: of what use is longevity to me? I am beyond THE SUPREME, THE MIND AND THE BODY
time. However long a life may be, it is but a moment and a dream. In the same way I am beyond all attributes. They appear and disappear in my light, but cannot describe me. The universe is all names and forms, based on qualities and their differences, while I am beyond. The world is there because I am, but I am not the world.
Q: But you are living in the world!
M: That’s what you say! I know there is a world, which includes this body and this mind, but I do not consider them to be more
“mine” than other minds and bodies. They are there, in time and space, but I am timeless and spaceless.
Q: But since all exists by your light, are you not the creator of the world?
M: I am neither the potentiality nor the actualization, nor the actuality of things. In my light they come and go as the specks of dust dancing in the sunbeam. The light illumines the specks, but does not depend on them. Nor can it be said to create them.
It cannot be even said to know them.
Q: I am asking you a question and you are answering. Are you conscious of the question and the answer?
M: In reality I am neither hearing nor answering. In the world of events the question happens and the answer happens. Nothing happens to me. Everything just happens.
Q: And you are the witness?
M: What does witness mean? Mere knowledge. It rained and now the rain is over. I did not get wet. I know it rained, but I am not affected. I just witnessed the rain.
Q: The fully realized man, spontaneously abiding in the supreme state, appears to eat, drink and so on. Is he aware of it, or not?
M: That in which consciousness happens, the universal consciousness or mind, we call the ether of consciousness. All the objects of consciousness form the universe. What is beyond both, supporting both, is the supreme state, a state of utter stillness and silence. Whoever goes there, disappears. It is unreachable by words, or mind. You may call it God, or Parabrahman, or Supreme Reality, but these are names given 36
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by the mind. It is the nameless, contentless, effortless and spontaneous state, beyond being and not being.
Q: But does one remain conscious?
M: As the universe is the body of the mind, so is consciousness the body of the supreme. It is not conscious, but it gives rise to consciousness.
Q: In my daily actions much goes by habit, automatically. I am aware of the general purpose, but not of each movement in detail. As my consciousness broadens and deepens, details tend to recede, leaving me free for the general trends. Does not the same happens to a gnani, but more so?
M: On the level of consciousness — yes. In the supreme state, no. This state is entirely one and indivisible, a single solid block of reality. The only way of knowing it is to be it. The mind cannot reach it. To perceive it does not need the senses; to know it, does not need the mind.
Q: That is how God runs the world.
M: God is not running the world.
Q: Then who is doing it?
M: Nobody. All happens by itself. You are asking the question and you are supplying the answer. And you know the answer when you ask the question. All is a play in consciousness. All divisions are illusory. You can know the false only. The true you must yourself be.
Q: There is the witnessed consciousness and there is the witnessing consciousness. Is the second the supreme?
M: There are the two — the person and the witness, the observer. When you see them as one, and go beyond, you are in the supreme state. It is not perceivable, because it is what makes perception possible. It is beyond being and not being. It is neither the mirror nor the image in the mirror. It is what is —
the timeless reality, unbelievably hard and solid.
Q: The gnani — is he the witness or the Supreme?
M: He is the Supreme, of course, but he can also be viewed as the universal witness.
Q: But he remains a person?
THE SUPREME, THE MIND AND THE BODY
M: When you believe yourself to be a person, you see persons everywhere. In reality there are no persons, only threads of memories and habits. At the moment of realization the person ceases. Identity remains, but identity is not a person, it is inherent in the reality itself. The person has no being in itself; it is a reflection in the mind of the witness, the ‘I am’, which again is a mode of being.
Q: Is the Supreme conscious?
M: Neither conscious nor unconscious, I am telling you from experience.
Q: Pragnanam Brahma. What is this Pragna?
M: It is the un-selfconscious knowledge of life itself.
Q: Is it vitality, the energy of life, livingness?
M: Energy comes first. For everything is a form of energy. Consciousness is most differentiated in the waking state. Less so in dream. Still less in sleep. Homogeneous — in the fourth state.
Beyond is the inexpressible monolithic reality, the abode of the gnani.
Q: I have cut my hand. It healed. By what power did it heal?
M: By the power of life.
Q: What is that power?
M: It is consciousness. All is conscious.
Q: What is the source of consciousness?
M: Consciousness itself is the source of everything.
Q: Can there be life without consciousness?
M: No, nor consciousness without life. They are both one. But in reality only the Ultimate is. The rest is a matter of name and form. And as long as you cling to the idea that only what has name and shape exists, the Supreme will appear to you non-existing. When you understand that names and shapes are hollow shells without any content whatsoever, and what is real is nameless and formless, pure energy of life and light of consciousness, you will be at peace — immersed in the deep silence of reality.
Q: If time and space are mere illusions and you are beyond, 38
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please tell rme what is the weather in New York. Is it hot or raining there?
M: How can I tell you? Such things need special training. Or, just travelling to New York. I may be quite certain that I am beyond time and space, and yet unable to locate myself at will at some point of time and space. I am not interested enough; I see no purpose in undergoing a special Yogic training. I have just heard of New York. To me it is a word. Why should I know more than the word conveys? Every atom may be a universe, as complex as ours. Must I know them all? I can — if I train.
Q: In putting the question about the weather in New York, where did I make the mistake?
M: The world and the mind are states of being. The supreme is not a state. It pervades all states, but it is not a state of something else. It is entirely uncaused, independent, complete in itself, beyond time and space, mind and matter.
Q: By what sign do you recognize it?
M: That’s the point that it leaves no traces. There is nothing to recognize it by. It must be seen directly, by giving up all search for signs and approaches. When all names and forms have been given up, the real is with you. You need not seek it. Plura-lity and diversity are the play of the mind only. Reality is one.
Q: If reality leaves no evidence, there is no speaking about it.
M: It is. It cannot be denied. It is deep and dark, mystery beyond mystery. But it is, while all else merely happens.
Q: Is it the Unknown?
M: It is beyond both, the known and the unknown. But I would rather call it the known, than the unknown. For whenever something is known, it is the real that is known.
Q: Is silence an attribute of the real?
M: This too is of the mind. Alt states and conditions are of the mind.
Q: What is the place of samadhi?
M: Not making use of one’s consciousness is samadhi. You just leave your mind alone. You want nothing, neither from your body nor from your mind.
Appearances and the Reality
Questioner: Repeatedly you have been saying that events are causeless, a thing just happens and no cause can be assigned to it. Surely everything has a cause, or several causes. How am I to understand the causelessness of things?
Maharaj: From the highest point of view the world has no cause.
Q: But what is your own experience?
M: Everything is uncaused. The world has no cause.
Q: I am not enquiring about the causes that led to the creation of the world. Who has seen the creation of the world? It may even be without a beginning, always existing. But I am not talking of the world. I take the world to exist — somehow. It contains so many things. Surely, each must have a cause, or several causes.
M: Once you create for yourself a world in time and space, governed by causality, you are bound to search for and find causes for everything. You put the question and impose an answer.
Q: My question is very simple: I see all kinds of things and I understand that each must have a cause, or a number of causes.
You say they are uncaused — from your point of view. But, to you nothing has being and, therefore, the question of causation does not arise. Yet you seem to admit the existence of things, but deny them causation. This is what I cannot grasp. Once you accept the existence of things, why reject their causes?
M: I see only consciousness, and know everything to be but consciousness, as you know the picture on the cinema screen to be but light.
I AM THAT
Q: Still, the movements of light have a cause.
M: The light does not move at all. You know very well that the movement is illusory, a sequence of interceptions and colour-ings in the film. What moves is the film — which is the mind.
Q: This does not make the picture causeless. The film is there, and the actors with the technicians, the director, the producer, the various manufacturers. The world is governed by causality.
Everything is inter-linked.
M: Of course, everything is inter-linked. And therefore everything has numberless causes. The entire universe contributes to the least thing. A thing is as it is, because the world is as it is.
You see, you deal in gold ornaments and I — in gold. Between the different ornaments there is no causal relation. When you re-melt an ornament to make another, there is no causal relation between the two. The common factor is the gold. But you cannot say gold is the cause. It cannot be called a cause, for it causes nothing by itself. It is reflected in the mind as ‘I am’, as the ornament’s particular name and shape. Yet all is only gold. In the same way reality makes everything possible and yet nothing that makes a thing what it is, its name and form, comes from reality.
But why worry so much about causation? What do causes matter, when things themselves are transient? Let come what comes and let go what goes — why catch hold of things and enquire about their causes?
Q: From the relative point of view, everything must have a cause.