I am that by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - HTML preview
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M: Of what use is the relative view to you? You are able to look from the absolute point of view — why go back to the relative?
Are you afraid of the absolute?
Q: I am afraid. I am afraid of falling asleep over my so-called absolute certainties. For living a life decently absolutes don’t heir. When you need a shirt, you buy cloth, call a tailor and so on.
M: All this talk shows ignorance.
Q: And what is the knower’s view?
M: There is only light and the light is all. Everything else is but a APPEARANCES AND THE REALITY
picture made of light. The picture is in the light and the light is in the picture. Life and death, self and not-self — abandon all these ideas. They are of no use to you.
Q: From what point of view you deny causation? From the relative — the universe is the cause of everything. From the absolute — there is no thing at all.
M: From which state are you asking?
Q: From the daily waking state, in which alone all these discussions take place.
M: In the waking state all these problems arise, for such is its nature. But, you are not always in that state. What good can you do in a state into which you fall and from which you emerge, helplessly. In what way does it help you to know that things are causally related — as they may appear to be in your waking state?
Q: The world and the waking state emerge and subside together.
M: When the mind is still, absolutely silent, the waking state is no more.
Q: Words like God, universe, the total, absolute, supreme are just noises in the air, because no action can be taken on them.
M: You are bringing up questions which you alone can answer.
Q: Don’t brush me off like this! You are so quick to speak for the totality, the universe and such imaginary things! They cannot come and forbid you to talk on their behalf. I hate those irresponsible generalizations! And you are so prone to personalize them. Without causality there will be no order; nor purposeful action will be possible.
M: Do you want to know all the causes of each event? Is it possible?
Q: I know it is not possible! All I want to know is if there are causes for everything and the causes can be influenced, thereby affecting the events?
M: To influence events, you need not know the causes. What a roundabout way of doing things! Are you not the source and the end of every event? Control it at the source itself.
I AM THAT
Q: Every morning I pick up the newspaper and read with dis-may that the world’s sorrows — poverty, hatred and wars —
continue unabated. My questions are concerning the fact of sorrow, the cause, the remedy. Don’t brush me off saying that it is Buddhism! Don’t label me. Your insistence on causelessness removes all hope of the world ever changing.
M: You are confused, because you believe that you are in the world, not the world in you. Who came first — you or your parents? You imagine that you were born at a certain time and place, that you have a father and a mother, a body and a name.
This is your sin and your calamity! Surely you can change your world if you work at it. By all means, work. Who stops you? I have never discouraged you. Causes or no causes, you have made this world and you can change it.
Q: A causeless world is entirely beyond my control.
M: On the contrary, a world of which you are the only source and ground is fully within your power to change. What is created can be always dissolved and re-created. All will happen as you want it, provided you really want it.
Q: All I want to know is how to deal with the world’s sorrows.
M: You have created them out of your own desires’ and fears, you deal with them. All is due to your having forgotten your own being. Having given reality to the picture on the screen, you love its people and suffer for them and seek to save them. It is just not so. You must begin with yourself. There is no other way.
Work, of course. There is no harm in working.
Q: Your universe seems to contain every possible experience.
The individual traces a line through it and experiences pleasant and unpleasant states. This gives rise to questioning and seeking, which broaden the outlook and enable the individual to go beyond his narrow and self-created world, limited and self-centered. This personal world can be changed — in time. The universe is timeless and perfect.
M: To take appearance for reality is a grievous sin and the cause of all calamities. You are the all-pervading, eternal and infinitely creative awareness — consciousness. All else is local and temporary. Don’t forget what you are. In the meantime work APPEARANCES AND THE REALITY
to your heart’s content. Work and knowledge should go hand in hand.
Q: My own feeling is that my spiritual development is not in my hands. Making one’s own plans and carrying them out leads nowhere. I just run in circles round myself. When God considers the fruit to be ripe, He will pluck it and eat it. Whichever fruit seems green to Him will remain on the world’s tree for another day.
M: You think God knows you? Even the world He does not know.
Q: Yours is a different God. Mine is different. Mine is merciful.
He suffers along with us.
M: You pray to save one, while thousands die. And if all stop dying, there will be no space on earth.
Q: I am not afraid of death. My concern is with sorrow and suffering. My God is a simple God and rather helpless. He has no power to compel us to be wise. He can only stand and wait.
M: If you and your God are both helpless, does it not imply that the world is accidental? And if it is, the only thing you can do is to go beyond it.
Questioner: Without God’s power nothing can be done. Even you would not be sitting here and talking to us without Him.
Maharaj: All is His doing, no doubt. What is it to me, since I want nothing? What can God give me, or take away from me?
What is mine is mine and was mine even when God was not. Of course, it is a very tiny little thing, a speck — the sense ‘I am’, the fact of being. This is my own place, nobody gave it to me.
The earth is mine; what grows on it is God’s.
Q: Did God take the earth on rent from you?
M: God is my devotee and did all this for me.
Q: Is there no God apart from you?
M: How can there be? ‘I am’ is the root, God is the tree. Whom am I to worship, and what for?
Q: Are you the devotee or the object of devotion?
M: Am neither, I am devotion itself.
Q: There is not enough devotion in the world.
M: You are always after the improvement of the world. Do you really believe that the world is waiting for you to be saved?
Q: I just do not know how much I can do for the world. All I can do, is to try. Is there anything else you would like me to do?
M: Without you is there a world? You know all about the world, but about yourself you know nothing. You yourself are the tools of your work, you have no other tools. Why don’t you take care of the tools before you think of the work?
Q: I can wait, while the world cannot.
M: By not enquiring you keep the world waiting.
Q: Waiting for what?
M: For somebody who can save it.
Q: God runs the world, God will save it.
M: That’s what you say! Did God come and tell you that the world is His creation and concern and not yours?
Q: Why should it be my sole concern?
M: Consider. The world in which you live, who else knows about it?
Q: You know. Everybody knows.
M: Did anybody come from outside of your world to tell you?
Myself and everybody else appear and disappear in your world.
We are all at your mercy.
Q: It cannot be so bad! I exist in your world as you exist in mine.
M: You have no evidence of my world. You are completely wrapped up in the world of your own making.
Q: I see. Completely, but — hopelessly?
M: Within the prison of your world appears a man who tells you that the world of painful contradictions, which you have created, is neither continuous nor permanent and is based on a misapprehension. He pleads with you to get out of it, by the same way by which you got into it. You got into it by forgetting what you are and you will get out of it by knowing yourself as you are.
Q: In what way does it affect the world?
M: When you are free of the world, you can do something about it. As long as you are a prisoner of it, you are helpless to change it. On the contrary, whatever you do will aggravate the situation.
Q: Righteousness will set me free.
M: Righteousness will undoubtedly make you and your world a comfortable, even happy place. But what is the use? There is no reality in it. It cannot last.
Q: God will help.
M: To help you God must know your existence. But you and your world are dream states. In dream you may suffer agonies.
None knows them, and none can help you.
Q: So all my questions, my search and study are of no use?
I AM THAT
M: These are but the stirrings of a man who is tired of sleeping.
They are not the causes of awakening, but its early signs. But, you must not ask idle questions, to which you already know the answers.
Q: How am I to get a true answer?
M: By asking a true question — non-verbally, but by daring to live according to your lights. A man willing to die for truth will get it.
Q: Another question. There is the person. There is the knower of the person. There is the witness. Are the knower and the witness the same, or are they separate states?
M: The knower and the witness are two or one? When the knower is seen as separate from the known, the witness stands alone. When the known and the knower are seen as one, the witness becomes one with them.
Q: Who is the gnani? The witness or the supreme?
M: The gnani is the supreme and also the witness. He is both being and awareness. In relation to consciousness he is awareness. In relation to the universe he is pure being.
Q: And what about the person? What comes first, the person or the knower.
M: The person is a very small thing. Actually it is a composite, it cannot be said to exist by itself. Unperceived, it is just not there.
It is but the shadow of the mind, the sum total of memories. Pure being is reflected in the mirror of the mind, as knowing. What is known takes the shape of a person, based on memory and habit. It is but a shadow, or a projection of the knower onto the screen of the mind.
Q: The mirror is there, the reflection is there. But where is the sun?
M: The supreme is the sun.
Q: It must be conscious.
M: It is neither conscious nor unconscious. Don’t think of it in terms of consciousness or unconsciousness. It is the life, which contains birth and is beyond both.
Q: Life is so intelligent. How can it be unconscious?
M: You talk of the unconscious when there is a lapse in memory. In reality there is only consciousness. All life is conscious, all consciousness — alive.
Q: Even stones?
M: Even stones are conscious and alive.
Q: The worry with me is that I am prone to denying existence to what I cannot imagine.
M: You would be wiser to deny the existence of what you imagine. It is the imagined that is unreal.
Q: Is all imaginable unreal?
M: Imagination based on memories is unreal. The future is not entirely unreal.
Q: Which part of the future is real and which is not?
M: The unexpected and unpredictable is real.
Desirelessness, the Highest
Questioner: I have met many realized people, but never a liberated man. Have you come across a liberated man, or does liberation mean, among other things, also abandoning the body?
Maharaj: What do you mean by realization and liberation?
Q: By realization I mean a wonderful experience of peace, 48
I AM THAT
goodness and beauty, when the world makes sense and there is an all-pervading unity of both substance and essence. While such experience does not last, it cannot be forgotten. It shines in the mind, both as memory and longing. I know what I am talking about, for I have had such experiences.
By liberation I mean to be permanently in that wonderful state.
What I am asking is whether liberation is compatible with the survival of the body.
M: What is wrong with the body?
Q: The body is so weak and shortlived. It creates needs and cravings. It limits one grievously.
M: So what? Let the physical expressions be limited. But liberation is of the self from its false and self-imposed ideas; it is not contained in some particular experience, however glorious.
Q: Does it last for ever?
M: All experience is time bound. Whatever has a beginning must have an end.
Q: So liberation; in my sense of the word, does not exist?
M: On the contrary, one is always free. You are, both conscious and free to be conscious. Nobody can take this away from you.
Do you ever know yourself non-existing, or unconscious?
Q: I may not remember, but that does not disprove my being occasionally unconscious.
M: Why not turn away from the experience to the experiencer and realize the full import of the only true statement you can make: ‘I am’?
Q: How is it done?
M: There is no ‘how’ here. Just keep in mind the feeling ‘I am’, merge in it, till your mind and feeling become one. By repeated attempts you will stumble on the right balance of attention and affection and your mind will be firmly established in the thought-feeling ‘I am’. Whatever you think, say, or do, this sense of immutable and affectionate being remains as the ever-present background of the mind.
Q: And you call it liberation?
M: I call it normal. What is wrong with being, knowing and act-DESIRELESSNESS, THE HIGHEST BLISS
ing effortlessly and happily? Why consider it so unusual as to expect the immediate destruction of the body? What is wrong with the body that it should die? Correct your attitude to your body and leave it alone. Don’t pamper, don’t torture. Just keep it going, most of the time below the threshold of conscious attention.
Q: The memory of my wonderful experiences haunts me. I want them back.
M: Because you want them back, you cannot have them. The state of craving for anything blocks all deeper experience. Nothing of value can happen to a mind which knows exactly what it wants. For nothing the mind can visualize and want is of much value.
Q: Then what is worth wanting?
M: Want the best. The highest happiness, the greatest freedom. Desirelessness is the highest bliss.
Q: Freedom from desire is not the freedom I want. I want the freedom to fulfil my longings.
M: You are free to fulfil your longings. As a matter of fact, you are doing nothing else.
Q: I try, but there are obstacles which leave me frustrated.
M: Overcome them.
Q: I cannot, I am too weak.
M: What makes you weak? What is weakness? Others fulfil their desires, why don’t you?
Q: I must be lacking energy.
M: What happened to your energy? Where did it go? Did you not scatter it over so many contradictory desires and pursuits?
You don’t have an infinite supply of energy.
Q: Why not?
M: Your aims are small and low. They do not call for more. Only God’s energy is infinite — because He wants nothing for Himself. Be like Him and all your desires will be fulfilled. The higher your aims and vaster your desires, the more energy you will have for their fulfilment. Desire the good of all and the universe 50
I AM THAT
will work with you. But if you want your own pleasure, you must earn it the hard way. Before desiring, deserve.
Q: I am engaged in the study of philosophy, sociology and education. I think more mental development is needed before I can dream of self-realization. Am I on the right track?
M: To earn a livelihood some specialized knowledge is needed. General knowledge develops the mind, no doubt. But if you are going to spend your life in amassing knowledge, you build a wall round yourself. To go beyond the mind, a well-furnished mind is not needed.
Q: Then what is needed?
M: Distrust your mind, and go beyond.
Q: What shall I find beyond the mind?
M: The direct experience of being, knowing and loving.
Q: How does one go beyond the mind?
M: There are many starting points — they all lead to the same goal. You may begin with selfless work, abandoning the fruits of action; you may then give up thinking and end in giving up all desires. Here, giving up (tyaga) is the operational factor. Or, you may not bother about any thing you want, or think, or do and just stay put in the thought and feeling ‘I am’, focussing ‘I am’
firmly in your mind. AII kinds of experience may come to you —
remain unmoved in the knowledge that all perceivable is transient, and only the ‘I am’ endures.
Q: I cannot give all my life to such practices. I have my duties to attend to.
M: By all means attend to your duties. Action, in which you are not emotionally involved and which is beneficial and does not cause suffering will not bind you. You may be engaged in several directions and work with enormous zest, yet remain inwardly free and quiet, with a mirror-like mind, which reflects all, without being affected.
Q: Is such a state realizable?
M: I would not talk about it, if it were not. Why should I engage in fancies?
Q: Everybody quotes scriptures.
DESIRELESSNESS, THE HIGHEST BLISS
M: Those who know only scriptures know nothing. To know is to be. I know what I am talking about; it is not from reading, or hearsay.
Q: I am studying Sanskrit under a professor, but really I am only reading scriptures. I am in search of self-realization and I came to get the needed guidance. Kindly tell me what am I to do?
M: Since you have read the scriptures, why do you ask me?
Q: The scriptures show the general directions but the individual needs personal instructions.
M: Your own self is your ultimate teacher (sadguru). The outer teacher (Guru) is merely a milestone. It is only your inner teacher, that will walk with you to the goal, for he is the goal.
Q: The inner teacher is not easily reached.
M: Since he is in you and with you, the difficulty cannot be serious. Look within, and you will find him.
Q: When I look within, I find sensations and perceptions, thoughts and feelings, desires and fears, memories and expectations. I am immersed in this cloud and see nothing else.
M: That which sees all this, and the nothing too, is the inner teacher. He alone is, all else only appears to be. He is your own self (swarupa), your hope and assurance of freedom; find him and cling to him and you will be saved and safe.
Q: I do believe you, but when it comes to the actual finding of this inner self, I find it escapes me.
M: The idea ‘it escapes me’, where does it arise?
Q: In the mind.
M: And who knows the mind.
Q: The witness of the mind knows the mind.
M: Did anybody come to you and say: ‘I am the witness of your mind’?
Q: Of course not. He would have been just another idea in the mind.
M: Then who is the witness?
Q: l am.
M: So, you know the witness because you are the witness. You 52
I AM THAT
need not see the witness in front of you. Here again, to be is to know.
Q: Yes, I see that I am the witness, the awareness itself. But in which way does it profit me?
M: What a question! What kind of profit do you expect? To know what you are, is it not good enough?
Q: What are the uses of self-knowledge?
M: It helps you to understand what you are not and keeps you free from false ideas, desires and actions.
Q: If I am the witness only, what do right and wrong matter?
M: What helps you to know yourself is right. What prevents, is wrong. To know one’s real self is bliss, to forget — is sorrow.
Q: Is the witness-consciousness the real Self?
M: It is the reflection of the real in the mind (buddhi). The real is beyond. The witness is the door through which you pass beyond.
Q: What is the purpose of meditation?
M: Seeing the false as the false, is meditation. This must go on all the time.
Q: We are told to meditate regularly.
M: Deliberate daily exercise in discrimination between the true and the false and renunciation of the false is meditation. There are many kinds of meditation to begin with, but they all merge finally into one.
Q: Please tell me which road to self-realization is the shortest.
M: No way is short or long, but some people are more in earnest and some are less. I can tell you about myself. I was a simple man, but I trusted my Guru. What he told me to do, I did. He told me to concentrate on ‘I am’ — I did. He told me that I am beyond all perceivables and conceivables — I believed. I gave him my heart and soul, my entire attention and the whole of my spare time (I had to work to keep my family alive). As a result of faith and earnest application, I realized my self (swarupa) within three years.
You may choose any way that suits you; your earnestness will determine the rate of progress.
DESIRELESSNESS, THE HIGHEST BLISS
Q: No hint for me?
M: Establish yourself firmly in the awareness of ‘I am’. This is the beginning and also the end of all endeavour.
Questioner: The highest powers of the mind are understanding, intelligence and insight. Man has three bodies — the physical, the mental and the causal (prana, mana, karana). The physical reflects his being; the mental — his knowing and the causal —
his joyous creativity. Of course, these are all forms in consciousness. But they appear to be separate, with qualities of their own. Intelligence (buddhi) is the reflection in the mind of the power to know (chit). It is what makes the mind knowledge-able. The brighter the intelligence, the wider, deeper and truer the knowledge. To know things, to know people and to know oneself are all functions of intelligence: the last is the most important and contains the former two. Misunderstanding oneself and the world leads to false ideas and desires, which again lead to bondage. Right understanding of oneself is necessary for freedom from the bondage of illusion. I understand all this in theory, but when it comes to practice, I find that I fail hopelessly in my responses to situations and people and by my inappropriate reactions I merely add to my bondage. Life is too quick for my dull and slow mind. I do understand but too late, when the old mistakes have been already repeated.
Maharaj: What then is your problem?
I AM THAT
Q: I need a response to life, not only intelligent, but also very quick. It cannot be quick unless it is perfectly spontaneous.
How can I achieve such spontaneity?
M: The mirror can do nothing to attract the sun. It can only keep bright. As soon as the mind is ready, the sun shines in it.
Q: The light is of the Self, or of the mind?
M: Both. It is uncaused and unvarying by itself and coloured by the mind, as it moves and changes. It is very much like a cinema. The light is not in the film, but the film colours the light and makes it appear to move by intercepting it.
Q: Are you now in the perfect state?
M: Perfection is a state of the mind, when it is pure. I am beyond the mind, whatever its state, pure or impure. Awareness is my nature; ultimately I am beyond being and non-being.
Q: Will meditation help me to reach your state?
M: Meditation will help you to find your bonds, loosen them, untie them and cast your moorings. When you are no longer attached to anything, you have done your share. The rest will be done for you.
Q: By whom?
M: By the same power that brought you so far, that prompted your heart to desire truth and your mind to seek it. It is the same power that keeps you alive. You may call it Life or the Supreme.
Q: The same power kills me in due course.
M: Were you not present at your birth? Will you not be present at your death? Find him who is always present and your problem of spontaneous and perfect response will be solved.
Q: Realization of the eternal and an effortless and adequate response to the ever-changing temporary event are two different and separate questions. You seem to roll them into one. What makes you do so?
M: To realize the Eternal is to become the Eternal, the whole, the universe, with all it contains. Every event is the effect and the expression of the whole and is in fundamental harmony with the whole. All response from the whole must be right, effortless and instantaneous.
It cannot be otherwise, if it is right. Delayed response is wrong response. Thought, feeling and action must be one and simultaneous with the situation that calls for them.
Q: How does it come?
M: I told you already. Find him who was present at your birth and will witness your death.
Q: My father and mother?
M: Yes, your father-mother, the source from which you came.
To solve a problem you must trace it to its source. Only in the dissolution of the problem in the universal solvents of enquiry and dispassion, can its right solution be found.
To Know What you Are, Find
What you Are Not
Questioner: Your way of describing the universe as consisting of matter, mind and spirit is one of the many. There are other patterns to which the universe is expected to conform, and one is at a loss to know which pattern is true and which is not. One ends in suspecting that all patterns are only verbal and that no pattern can contain reality. According to you, reality consists of three expanses: The expanse of matter-energy (mahadakash), the expanse of consciousness (chidakash) and of pure spirit (paramakash). The first is something that has both movement and inertia. That we perceive. We also know that we perceive —
I AM THAT
we are conscious and also aware of being conscious. Thus, we have two: matter-energy and consciousness. Matter seems to be in space while energy is always in time, being connected with change and measured by the rate of change. Consciousness seems to be somehow here and now, in a single point of time and space. But you seem to suggest that consciousness too is universal — which makes it timeless, spaceless and impersonal. I can somehow understand that there is no contradiction between the timeless and spaceless and the here and now, but impersonal consciousness I cannot fathom. To me consciousness is always focalized, centered, individualized, a person. You seem to say that there can be perceiving without a perceiver, knowing without a knower, loving without a lover, acting without an actor. I feel that the trinity of knowing, knower and known can be seen in every movement of life. Consciousness implies a conscious being, an object of consciousness and the fact of being conscious. That which is conscious I call a person.
A person lives in the world, is a part of it, affects it and is affected by it.
M: Why don’t you enquire how real are the world and the person?
Q: Oh, no! I need not enquire. Enough if the person is not less real than the world in which the person exists.
M: Then what is the question?
Q: Are persons real, and universals conceptual, or are universals real and persons imaginary?
M: Neither are real.
Q: Surely, I am real enough to merit your reply and am a person.
M: Not when asleep.
Q: Submergence is not absence. Even though asleep, I am.
M: To be a person you must be self-conscious. Are you so always?
Q: Not when I sleep, of course, nor when I am in a swoon, or drugged.
M: During your waking hours are you continually selfconscious?
TO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE, FIND WHAT YOU ARE NOT
Q: No, Sometimes l am absent-minded, or just absorbed.
M: Are you a person during the gaps in self-consciousness?
Q: Of course I am the same person throughout. I remember myself as I was yesterday and yester year — definitely, I am the same person.
M: So, to be a person, you need memory?
Q: Of course.
M: And without memory, what are you?
Q: Incomplete memory entails incomplete personality. Without memory I cannot exist as a person.
M: Surely you can exist without memory. You do so — in sleep.
Q: Only in the sense of remaining alive. Not as a person.
M: Since you admit that as a person you have only intermittent existence, can you tell me what are you in the intervals in between experiencing yourself as a person?
Q: I am, but not as a person. Since I am not conscious of myself in the intervals, I can only say that I exist, but not as a person.
M: Shall we call it impersonal existence?
Q: I would call it rather unconscious existence; I am, but I do not know that I am.
M: You have said just now: ‘I am, but I do not know that I am’.
Could you possibly say it about your being in an unconscious state?
Q: No, I could not.
M: You can only describe it in the past tense: ‘I did not know. I was unconscious’, in the sense of not remembering.
Q: Having been unconscious, how could I remember and what?
M: Were you really unconscious, or you just do not remember?
Q: How am I to make out?
M: Consider. Do you remember every second of yesterday?
Q: Of course, not.
M: Were you then unconscious?
Q: Of course, not.
I AM THAT
M: So, you are conscious and yet you do not remember?
M: Maybe you were conscious in sleep and just do not remember.
Q: No, I was not conscious. I was asleep. I did not behave like a conscious person.
M: Again, how do you know?
Q: I was told so by those who saw me asleep.
M: All they can testify to is that they saw you lying quietly with closed eyes and breathing regularly. They could not make out whether you were conscious or not. Your only proof is your own memory. A very uncertain proof it is!
Q: Yes, I admit that on my own terms I am a person only during my waking hours. What I am in between, I do not know.
M: At least you know that you do not know! Since you pretend not to be conscious in the intervals between the waking hours, leave the intervals alone. Let us consider the waking hours only.
Q: I am the same person in my dreams.
M: Agreed. Let us consider them together — waking and dreaming. The difference is merely in continuity. Were your dreams consistently continuous, bringing back night after night the same surroundings and the same people, you would be at a loss to know which is the waking and which is the dream.
Henceforward, when we talk of the waking state, we shall include the dream state too.
Q: Agreed. I am a person in a conscious relation with a world.
M: Are the world and the conscious relation with it essential to your being a person?
Q: Even immured in a cave, I remain a person.
M: It implies a body and a cave. And a world in which they can exist.
Q: Yes, I can see. The world and the consciousness of the world are essential to my existence as a person.
M: This makes the person a part and parcel of the world, or vice versa. The two are one.
TO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE, FIND WHAT YOU ARE NOT
Q: Consciousness stands alone. The person and the world appear in consciousness.
M: You said: appear. Could you add: disappear?
Q: No, I cannot. I can only be aware of my and my world’s appearance. As a person, I cannot say: ‘the world is not’. Without a world I would not be there to say it. Because there is a world, I am there to say: ‘there is a world’.
M: May be it is the other way round. Because of you, there is a world.
Q: To me such statement appears meaningless.
M: Its meaninglessness may disappear on investigation.
Q: Where do we begin?
M: All I know is that whatever depends, is not real. The real is truly independent. Since the existence of the person depends on the existence of the world and it is circumscribed and defined by the world, it cannot be real.
Q: It cannot be a dream, surely.
M: Even a dream has existence, when it is cognized and enjoyed, or endured. Whatever you think and feel has being. But it may not be what you take it to be. What you think to be a person may be something quite different.
Q: I am what I know myself to be.
M: You cannot possibly say that you are what you think yourself to be! Your ideas about yourself change from day to day and from moment to moment. Your self-image is the most changeful thing you have. It is utterly vulnerable, at the mercy of a passer by. A bereavement, the loss of a job, an insult, and your image of yourself, which you call your person, changes deeply. To know what you are you must first investigate and know what you are not. And to know what you are not you must watch yourself carefully, rejecting all that does not necessarily go with the basic fact: ‘I am’. The ideas: I am born at a given place, at a given time, from my parents and now I am so-and-so, living at, married to, father of, employed by, and so on, are not inherent in the sense ‘I am’. Our usual attitude is of ‘I am this’. Separate consistently and perseveringly the ‘I am’ from ‘this’ or ‘that’, and 60
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try to feel what it means to be, just to be, without being ‘this’ or
‘that’. All our habits go against it and the task of fighting them is long and hard sometimes, but clear understanding helps a lot.
The clearer you understand that on the level of the mind you can be described in negative terms only, the quicker you will come to the end of your search and realize your limitless being.
Reality lies in Objectivity
Questioner: I am a painter and I earn by painting pictures. Has it any value from the spiritual point of view?
Maharaj: When you paint, what do you think about?
Q: When I paint, there is only the painting and myself.
M: What are you doing there?
Q: I paint.
M: No, you don’t. You see the painting going on. You are watching only, all else happens.
Q: The picture is painting itself? Or, is there some deeper ‘me’, or some god who is painting?
M: Consciousness itself is the greatest painter. The entire world is a picture.
Q: Who painted the picture of the world?
M: The painter is in the picture.
REALITY LIES IN OBJECTIVITY
Q: The picture is in the mind of the painter and the painter is in the picture, which is in the mind of the painter who is in the picture! Is not this infinity of states and dimensions absurd? The moment we talk of picture in the mind, which itself is in the picture, we come to an endless succession of witnesses, the higher witness witnessing the lower. It is like standing between two mirrors and wondering at the crowd!
M: Quite right, you alone and the double mirror are there. Between the two, your forms and names are numberless.
Q: How do you look at the world?
M: I see a painter painting a picture. The picture I call the world, the painter I call God. I am neither. I do not create, nor am I created. I contain all, nothing contains me.
Q: When I see a tree, — a face, a sunset, the picture is perfect.
When I close my eyes, the image in my mind is faint and hazy. If it is my mind that projects the picture, why need I open my eyes to see a lovely flower and with eyes closed I see it vaguely?
M: It is because your outer eyes are better than your inner eyes.
Your mind is all turned outward. As you learn to watch your mental world, you will find it even more colourful and perfect than what the body can provide. Of course, you will need some training. But why argue? You imagine that the picture must come from the painter who actually painted it. All the time you look for origins and causes. Causality is in the mind only; memory gives the illusion of continuity and repetitiveness creates the idea of causality. When things repeatedly happen together, we tend to see a causal link between them. It creates a mental habit, but a habit is not a necessity.
Q: You have just said that the world is made by God.
M: Remember that language is an instrument of the mind; it is made by the mind, for the mind. Once you admit a cause, then God is the ultimate cause and the world the effect. They are different, but not separate.
Q: People talk of seeing God.
M: When you see the world you see God. There is no seeing God, apart from the world. Beyond the world to see God is to be God. The light by which you see the world, which is God, is the 62
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tiny little spark: ‘I am’, apparently so small, yet the first and the last in every act of knowing and loving.
Q: Must I see the world to see God?
M: How else? No world, no God.
Q: What remains?
M: You remain as pure being.
Q: And what becomes of the world and of God?
M: Pure being (avyakta).
Q: Is it the same as the Great Expanse (paramakash)?
M: You may call it so. Words do not matter, for they do not reach it. They turn back in utter negation.
Q: How can I see the world as God? What does it mean to see the world as God?
M: It is like entering a dark room. You see nothing — you may touch, but you do not see — no colours, no outlines. The window opens and the room is flooded with light. Colours and shapes come into being. The window is the giver of light, but not the source of it. The sun is the source. Similarly, matter is like the dark room; consciousness — the window — flooding matter with sensations and perceptions, and the supreme is the sun, the source both of matter and of light. The window may be closed, or open, the sun shines all the time. It makes all the difference to the room, but none to the sun. Yet all this is secondary to the tiny little thing which is the ‘I am’. Without the ‘I am’
there is nothing. All knowledge is about the ‘I am’. False ideas about this ‘I am’ lead to bondage, right knowledge leads to freedom and happiness.
Q: Is ‘I am’ and ‘there is’ the same?
M: ‘I am’ denotes the inner, ‘there is’ — the outer. Both are based on the sense of being.
Q: Is it the same as the experience of existence?
M: To exist means to be something, a thing, a feeling, a thought, an idea. All existence is particular. Only being is universal, in the sense that every being is compatible with every other being. Existences clash, being — never. Existence means becoming, change, birth and death and birth again, while in REALITY LIES IN OBJECTIVITY
being there is silent peace.
Q: If I create the world, why have I made it bad?
M: Everyone lives in his own world. Not all the worlds are equally good or bad.
Q: What determines the difference?
M: The mind that projects the world, colours it its own way.
When you meet a man, he is a stranger. When you marry him, he becomes your own self. When you quarrel, he becomes your enemy. It is your mind’s attitude that determines what he is to you.
Q: I can see that my world is subjective. Does it make it also illusory?
M: It is illusory as long as it is subjective and to that extent only.
Reality lies in objectivity.
Q: What does objectivity mean? You said the world is subjective and now you talk of objectivity. Is not everything subjective?
M: Everything is subjective, but the real is objective.
Q: In what sense?
M: It does not depend on memories and expectations, desires and fears, likes and dislikes. All is seen as it is.
Q: Is it what you call the fourth state (turiya)?
M: Call it as you like. It is solid, steady, changeless, beginningless and endless, ever new, ever fresh.
Q: How is it reached?
M: Desirelessness and fearlessness will take you there.
The Supreme is Beyond All
Questioner: You say, reality is one. Oneness, unity, is the attribute of the person. Is then reality a person, with the universe as its body?
Maharaj: Whatever you may say will be both true and false.
Words do not reach beyond the mind.
Q: I am just trying to understand. You are telling us of the Person, the Self and the Supreme. (vyakti, vyakta, avyakta). The light of Pure Awareness (pragna), focussed as ‘I am’ in the Self (jivatma), as consciousness (chetana) illumines the mind (antahkarana) and as life (prana) vitalizes the body (deha). All this is fine as far as the words go. But when it comes to distinguishing in myself the person from the Self and the Self from the Supreme, I get mixed up.
M: The person is never the subject. You can see a person, but you are not the person. You are always the Supreme which appears at a given point of time and space as the witness, a bridge between the pure awareness of the Supreme and the manifold consciousness of the person.
Q: When I look at myself, I find I am several persons fighting among themselves for the use of the body.
M: They correspond to the various tendencies (samskara) of the mind.
Q: Can I make peace between them?
M: How can you? They are so contradictory! See them as they are — mere habits of thoughts and feelings, bundles of memories and urges.
Q: Yet they all say ‘I am’.
M: It is only because you identify yourself with them. Once you THE SUPREME IS BEYOND ALL
realize that whatever appears before you cannot be yourself, and cannot say ‘I am’, you are free of all your ‘persons’ and their demands. The sense ‘I am’ is your own. You cannot part with it, but you can impart it to anything, as in saying: I am young. I am rich etc. But such self-identifications are patently false and the cause of bondage.
Q: I can now understand that I am not the person, but that which, when reflected in the person, gives it a sense of being.
Now, about the Supreme? In what way do I know myself as the Supreme?
M: The source of consciousness cannot be an object in consciousness. To know the source is to be the source. When you realize that you are not the person, but the pure and calm witness, and that fearless awareness is your very being, you are the being. It is the source, the Inexhaustible Possibility.
Q: Are there many sources or one for all?
M: It depends how you look at it, from which end. The objects in the world are many, but the eye that sees them is one. The higher always appears as one to the lower and the lower as many to the higher.
Q: Shapes and names are all of one and the same God?
M: Again, it all depends on how you look at it. On the verbal level everything is relative. Absolutes should be experienced, not discussed.
Q: How is the Absolute experienced?
M: It is not an object to be recognized and stored up in memory. It is in the present and in feeling rather. It has more to do with the ‘how’ than with the ‘what’. It is in the quality, in the value; being the source of everything, it is in everything.
Q: If it is the source, why and how does it manifest itself?
M: It gives birth to consciousness. All else is in consciousness.
Q: Why are there so many centres of consciousness?
M: The objective universe (mahadakash) is in constant movement, projecting and dissolving innumerable forms. Whenever a form is infused with life (prana), consciousness (chetana) appears by reflection of awareness in matter.
I AM THAT
Q: How is the Supreme affected?
M: What can affect it and how? The source is not affected by the vagaries of the river nor is the metal — by the shape of the jewellery. Is the light affected by the picture on the screen? The Supreme makes everything possible, that is all.
Q: How is it that some things do happen and some don’t?
M: Seeking out causes is a pastime of the mind. There is no duality of cause and effect. Everything is its own cause.
Q: No purposeful action is then possible?
M: All I say is that consciousness contains all. In consciousness all is possible. You can have causes if you want them, in your world. Another may be content with a single cause —
God’s will. The root cause is one: the sense ‘I am’.
Q: What is the link between the Self (Vyakta) and the Supreme (Avyakta)?
M: From the self’s point of view the world is the known, the Supreme — the Unknown. The Unknown gives birth to the known, yet remains Unknown. The known is infinite, but the Unknown is an infinitude of infinities. Just like a ray of light is never seen unless intercepted by the specs of dust, so does the Supreme make everything known, itself remaining unknown.
Q: Does it mean that the Unknown is inaccessible?
M: Oh, no. The Supreme is the easiest to reach for it is your very being. It is enough to stop thinking and desiring anything, but the Supreme.
Q: And if I desire nothing, not even the Supreme?
M: Then you are as good as dead, or you are the Supreme.
Q: The world is full of desires. Everybody wants something or other. Who is the desirer? The person or the self?
M: The self. All desires, holy and unholy, come from the self; they all hang on the sense ‘I am’.
Q: I can understand holy desires (satyakama) emanating from the self. It may be the expression of the bliss aspect of the Sadchitananda (Beingness — Awareness — Happiness) of the Self. But why unholy desires?
M: All desires aim at happiness. Their shape and quality de-THE SUPREME IS BEYOND ALL
pend on the psyche (antahkarana). Where inertia (tamas) predominates, we find perversions. With energy (rajas), passions arise. With lucidity (sattva) the motive behind the desire is goodwill, compassion, the urge to make happy rather than be happy. But the Supreme is beyond all, yet because of its infinite permeability all cogent desires can be fulfilled.
Q: Which desires are cogent?
M: Desires that destroy their subjects, or objects, or do not subside on satisfaction are self-contradictory and cannot be fulfilled. Only desires motivated by love, goodwill and compassion are beneficial to both the subject and object and can be fully satisfied.
Q: All desires are painful, the holy as well as the unholy.
M: They are not the same and pain is not the same. Passion is painful, compassion — never. The entire universe strives to fulfil a desire born of compassion.
Q: Does the Supreme know itself? Is the Impersonal conscious?
M: The source of all has all. Whatever flows from it must be there already in seed form. And as a seed is the last of innumerable seeds, and contains the experience and the promise of numberless forests, so does the Unknown contain all that was, or could have been and all that shall or would be. The entire field of becoming is open and accessible; past and future co-exist in the eternal now.
Q: Are you living in the Supreme Unknown?
M: Where else?
Q: What makes you say so?
M: No desire ever arises in my mind.
Q: Are you then unconscious?
M: Of course not! I am fully conscious, but since no desire or fear enters my mind, there is perfect silence.
Q: Who knows the silence?
M: Silence knows itself. It is the silence of the silent mind, when passions and desires are silenced.
Q: Do you experience desires occasionally?
I AM THAT
M: Desires are just waves in the mind. You know a wave when you see one. A desire is just a thing among many. I feel no urge to satisfy it, no action needs be taken on it. Freedom from desire means this: the compulsion to satisfy is absent.
Q: Why do desires arise at all?
M: Because you imagine that you were born, and that you will die if you do not take care of your body. Desire for embodied existence is the root-cause of trouble.
Q: Yet, so many jivas get into bodies. Surely it cannot be some error of judgement. There must be a purpose. What could it be?
M: To know itself the self must be faced with its opposite — the not-self. Desire leads to experience. Experience leads to discrimination, detachment, self-knowledge — liberation. And what is liberation after all? To know that you are beyond birth and death. By forgetting who you are and imagining yourself a mortal creature, you created so much trouble for yourself that you have to wake up, like from a bad dream.
Enquiry also wakes you up. You need not wait for suffering; enquiry into happiness is better, for the mind is in harmony and peace.
Q: Who exactly is the ultimate experiencer — the Self or the Unknown?
M: The Self, of course.
Q: Then why introduce the notion of the Supreme Unknown?
M: To explain the Self.
Q: But is there anything beyond the Self?
M: Outside the Self there is nothing. All is one and all is contained in ‘I am’. In the waking and dream states it is the person.
In deep sleep and turiya it is the Self. Beyond the alert intentness of turiya lies the great, silent peace of the Supreme. But in fact all is one in essence and related in appearance. In ignorance the seer becomes the seen and in wisdom he is the seeing.
But why be concerned with the Supreme? Know the knowers and all will be known.
Who am I?
Questioner: We are advised to worship reality personified as God, or as the Perfect Man. We are told not to attempt the worship of the Absolute, as it is much too difficult for a brain-centered consciousness.
Maharaj: Truth is simple and open to all: Why do you complicate? Truth is loving and lovable. It includes all, accepts all, purifies all. It is untruth that is difficult and a source of trouble. It always wants, expects, demands. Being false, it is empty, always in search of confirmation and reassurance. It is afraid of and avoids enquiry. It identifies itself with any support, however weak and momentary. Whatever it gets, it loses and asks for more. Therefore put no faith in the conscious. Nothing you can see, feel, or think is so. Even sin and virtue, merit and demerit are not what they appear. Usually the bad and the good are matter of convention and custom and are shunned or welcomed, according to how the words are used.
Q: Are there not good desires and bad, high desires and low?
M: All desires are bad, but some are worse than others. Pursue any desire, it will always give you trouble.
Q: Even the desire to be free of desire?
M: Why desire at all? Desiring a state of freedom from desire will not set you free. Nothing can set you free, because you are free. See yourself with desireless clarity, that is all.
Q: It takes time to know oneself.
M: How can time help you? Time is a succession of moments; each moment appears out of nothing and disappears into nothing, never to reappear. How can you build on something so fleeting?