1. The Sense of ‘I am’
Don’t you see that all your problems are your body’s problems — food, clo- thing, shelter, family, friends, name, fame, security, survival — all these lose their meaning the moment you realize that you may not be a mere body.
In a way you are all the bodies, hearts and minds and much more. Go deep into the sense of ‘I am’ and you will find. How do you find a thing you have mislaid or forgotten? You keep it in your mind until you recall it. The sense of being, of ‘I am’ is the first to emerge. Ask yourself whence it comes, or just watch it quietly. When the mind stays in the ‘I am’, without moving, you enter a state which cannot be verbalized but can be experienced. All you need to do is to try and try again. After all the sense ‘I am’ is always with you, only you have attached all kinds of things to it — body, feelings, thoughts, ideas, possessions etc. All these self-identifications are misleading. Because of them you take yourself to be what you are not.
It is enough to know what you are not. You need not know what you are. For, as long as knowledge means description in terms of what is already known, perceptual, or conceptual, there can be no such thing as self-knowledge, for what you are cannot be described, except as total negation. All you can say is: ‘I am not this, I am not that’. You cannot meaningfully say ‘this is what I am’. It just makes no sense. What you can point out as ‘this’ or ‘that’ cannot be yourself. Surely, you can not be ‘something’ else. You are nothing perceivable, or imaginable. Yet, without you there can be neither perception nor imagination. You observe the heart feeling, the mind thinking, the body acting; the very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive. Can there be perception, experience, without you? An experience must ‘be- long’. Somebody must come and declare it as his own. Without an experiencer the experience is not real. It is the experiencer that imparts reality to experience. An experience which you cannot have, of what value is it to you?
2. Obsession with the Body
I see what you too could see, here and now, but for the wrong focus of your attention. You give no attention to your self. Your mind is all with things, people and ideas, never with your self. Bring your self into focus, become aware of your own existence. See how you function, watch the motives and the results of your actions. Study the prison you have built around yourself, by in- advertence. By knowing what you are not, you come to know your self. The way back to your self is through refusal and rejec- tion. One thing is certain: the real is not imaginary, it is not a pro- duct of the mind. Even the sense ‘I am’ is not continuous, though it is a useful pointer; it shows where to seek, but not what to seek. Just have a good look at it. Once you are convinced that you cannot say truthfully about your self anything except ‘I am’, and that nothing that can be pointed at, can be your self, the need for the ‘I am’ is over — you are no longer intent on verbalizing what you are. All you need is to get rid of the tendency to define your self. All definitions apply to your body only and to its expres- sions. Once this obsession with the body goes, you will revert to your natural state, spontaneously and effortlessly. The only dif- ference between us is that I am aware of my natural state, while you are bemused. Just like gold made into ornaments has no advantage over gold dust, except when the mind makes it so, so are we one in being — we differ only in appearance. We discover it by being earnest, by searching, enquiring, questioning daily and hourly, by giving one’s life to this discovery.
3. The Living Present
Surely, the memory of an event cannot pass for the event it- self. Nor can the anticipation. There is something exceptional, unique, about the present event, which the previous, or the com- ing do not have. There is a livingness about it, an actuality; it stands out as if illumined. There is the ‘stamp of reality’ on the ac- tual, which the past and future do not have.
For a moment the past was ac- tual and the future will become so. What makes the present so different? Obviously, my presence. I am real for I am always now, in the present, and what is with me now shares in my reality.
In spite of our knowing that the successive strokes are identical, the present stroke is quite different from the previous one and the next — as remembered, or expected. A thing focus- sed in the now is with me, for I am ever present; it is my own real- ity that I impart to the present event.
4. Real World is Beyond the Mind
Would people know that nothing can happen unless the entire universe makes it happen, they would achieve much more with less expenditure of energy.
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.
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.
5. What is Born must Die
Just as the knower of the body appears at birth, so he dis- appears at death.
Life remains. Consciousness needs a vehicle and an instrument for its manifestation. When life produces another body, another knower comes into being.
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.
What was born must die. Only the unborn is deathless. Find what is it that never sleeps and never wakes, and whose pale re- flection is our sense of ‘I’.
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.
We know the outer world of sensations and actions, but of our inner world of thoughts and feelings we know very lit- tle. 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 charac- ter. We are slaves to what we do not know: of what we know we are masters. Whatever vice or weakness in ourselves we dis- cover and understand its causes and its workings, we over- come it by the very knowing; the unconscious dissolves when brought into the conscious. The dissolution of the unconscious releases energy; the mind feels adequate and become quiet.
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.
7. The Mind
Oh, no. I live in a world of realities, while yours is of imagin- ings. 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.
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 un- concerned, for in my world nothing ever goes wrong.
8. The Self Stands Beyond Mind
Refuse all thoughts except one: the thought ‘I am’. The mind will rebel in the beginning, but with patience and perseverance it will yield and keep quiet. Once you are quiet, things will begin to happen spontaneously and quite naturally, without any inter- ference on your part.
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 re- flection 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 un- concerned.
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.
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?
Be alert. Question, observe, investigate, learn all you can about confusion, how it operates, what it does to you and others. By being clear about confusion you become clear of confusion.
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 eter- nalize a transient thing — only the changeless is eternal.
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.
9. Responses of Memory
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 sepa- rate from you and your mind is on it; once swallowed, you be- come totally unconscious of it. I have eaten up the world and I need not think of it any more.
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 en- joyment, the energy you give them is necessarily limited; it can- not be more than what you have.
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.
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’, which is pure and simple being.
Purify yourself by a well-ordered and useful life. Watch over your thoughts, feelings, words and actions. This will clear your vision.
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 your- self continuously — particularly your mind — moment by mo- ment, missing nothing. This witnessing is essential for the sepa- ration of the self from the not-self.
11. Awareness and Consciousness
Awareness is primordial; it is the original state, beginning- less, endless, uncaused, unsupported, without parts, without change. Consciousness is on contact, a reflection against a sur- face, 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 rela- tive to its content; consciousness is always of something. Con- sciousness is partial and changeful, awareness is total, change- less, calm and silent. And it is the common matrix of every ex- perience.
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 tem- poral and transient is freedom, peace and joy. It is all very sim- ple. 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.
12. 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?
Can there be renewal without death? Even the darkness of sleep is refreshing and rejuvenating. Without death we would have been bogged up for ever in eternal senility.
Q: Is there no such thing as immortality?
M: When life and death are seen as essential to each other, as two aspects of one being, that is immortality. To see the end in the beginning and beginning in the end is the intimation of eter- nity. Definitely, immortality is not continuity. Only the process of change continues. Nothing lasts.
13. The Supreme, the Mind and the Body
It is all a matter of focus. Your mind is focussed in the world; mine is focussed in reality. It is like the moon in daylight — when the sun shines, the moon is hardly visible. Or, watch how you take your food. As long as it is in your mouth, you are conscious of it; once swallowed, it does not concern you any longer. It would be troublesome to have it constantly in mind until it is eliminated. The mind should be normally in abeyance — incessant activity is a morbid state. The universe works by it- self — that I know. What else do I need to know?
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 con- sciousness and happen spontaneously and effortlessly.
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.
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 inhe- rent in the reality itself. The person has no being in itself; it is a re- flection in the mind of the witness, the ‘I am’, which again is a mode of being.
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 hol- low shells without any content whatsoever, and what is real is nameless and formless, pure energy of life and light of con- sciousness, you will be at peace — immersed in the deep sil- ence of reality.
14. Appearances and the Reality
When you re-melt an ornament to make another, 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 re- ality.
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.
To take appearance for reality is a grievous sin and the cause of all calamities. You are the all-pervading, eternal and in- finitely creative awareness — consciousness. All else is local and temporary. Don’t forget what you are. In the meantime work to your heart’s content. Work and knowledge should go hand in hand.
15. The Gnani
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?
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: 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.
16. Desirelessness, the Highest Bliss
Because you want them back, you cannot have them. The state of craving for anything blocks all deeper experience. No- thing 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: 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.
Your aims are small and low. They do not call for more. Only God’s energy is infinite — because He wants nothing for Him- self. Be like Him and all your desires will be fulfilled. The higher your aims and vaster your desires, the more energy you will have for their fulfilment. Desire the good of all and the universe will work with you. But if you want your own pleasure, you must earn it the hard way. Before desiring, deserve.
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 tran- sient, and only the ‘I am’ endures.
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.
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 se- rious. 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 expec- tations. 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 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 fi- nally 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 ear- nest and some are less. I can tell you about myself. I was a sim- ple 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.
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.
17. The Ever-present
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.
Were you not present at your birth? Will you not be present at your death? Find him who is always present and your prob- lem of spontaneous and perfect response will be solved.
18. To Know What you Are, Find What you Are Not
You cannot possibly say that you are what you think yourself to be! Your ideas about yourself change from day to day and from moment to moment. Your self-image is the most changeful thing you have. It is utterly vulnerable, at the mercy of a passer by. A bereavement, the loss of a job, an insult, and your image of yourself, which you call your person, changes deeply. To know what you are you must first investigate and know what you are not. And to know what you are not you must watch yourself carefully, rejecting all that does not necessarily go with the basic fact: ‘I am’. The ideas: I am born at a given place, at a given time, from my parents and now I am so-and-so, living at, married to, father of, employed by, and so on, are not inherent in the sense ‘I am’. Our usual attitude is of ‘I am this’. Separate consistently and perseveringly the ‘I am’ from ‘this’ or ‘that’, and try to feel what it means to be, just to be, without being ‘this’ or ‘that’. All our habits go against it and the task of fighting them is long and hard sometimes, but clear understanding helps a lot. The clearer you understand that on the level of the mind you can be described in negative terms only, the quicker you will come to the end of your search and realize your limitless being.
19. Reality lies in Objectivity
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 watch- ing only, all else happens.
Q: The picture is painting itself? Or, is there some deeper ‘me’, or some god who is painting?
M: Consciousness itself is the greatest painter. The entire world is a picture.
Q: Who painted the picture of the world? M: The painter is in the picture.
Q: The picture is in the mind of the painter and the painter is in the picture, which is in the mind of the painter who is in the pic- ture! Is not this infinity of states and dimensions absurd? The moment we talk of picture in the mind, which itself is in the pic- ture, 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. Bet- ween 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.
It is like entering a dark room. You see nothing — you may touch, but you do not see — no colours, no outlines. The win- dow 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 dif- ference to the room, but none to the sun. Yet all this is secon- dary 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.
To exist means to be something, a thing, a feeling, a thought, an idea. All existence is particular. Only being is uni- versal, in the sense that every being is compatible with every other being. Existences clash, being — never. Existence means becoming, change, birth and death and birth again, while in being there is silent peace.
20. The Supreme is Beyond All
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 con- sciousness. To know the source is to be the source. When you realize that you are not the person, but the pure and calm wit- ness, and that fearless awareness is your very being, you are the being. It is the source, the Inexhaustible Possibility.
M: No desire ever arises in my mind.
Q: Are you then unconscious?
M: Of course not! I am fully conscious, but since no desire or fear enters my mind, there is perfect silence.
Q: Who knows the silence?
M: Silence knows itself. It is the silence of the silent mind, when passions and desires are silenced.
Q: Do you experience desires occasionally?
M: Desires are just waves in the mind. You know a wave when you see one. A desire is just a thing among many. I feel no urge to satisfy it, no action needs be taken on it. Freedom from desire means this: the compulsion to satisfy is absent.
Q: Why do desires arise at all?
M: Because you imagine that you were born, and that you will
die if you do not take care of your body. Desire for embodied existence is the root-cause of trouble.
21. Who am I?
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 no- thing, never to reappear. How can you build on something so fleeting?
Q: What is permanent?
M: Look to yourself for the permanent. Dive deep within and find what is real in you.
Q: How to look for myself?
M: Whatever happens, it happens to you. What you do, the doer is in you. Find the subject of all that you are as a person.
Q: What exactly do you mean when you ask me to stop being a person?
M: I do not ask you to stop being — that you cannot. I ask you only to stop imagining that you were born, have parents, are a body, will die and so on. Just try, make a beginning — it is not as hard as you think.
Q: The same action is considered natural at one point and a sin at another. What makes it sinful?
M: Whatever you do against your better knowledge is sin.
22. Life is Love and Love is Life
The outer can help by keeping quiet and free from desire and fear. You would have noticed that all advice to the outer is in the form of negations: don’t, stop, refrain, forego, give up, sac- rifice, surrender, see the false as false. Even the little descrip- tion of reality that is given is through denials — ‘not this, not this’, (neti, neti). All positives belong to the inner self, as all absolutes — to Reality.
the outer is always determined, while the inner cannot be held in words. The mistake of students consists in their imagining the inner to be something to get hold of, and forgetting that all perceivables are transient and, therefore, un- real. Only that which makes perception possible, call it Life or Brahman, or what you like, is real.
Does love act deliberately? Yes and no. Life is love and love is life. What keeps the body together but love? What is desire, but love of the self? What is fear but the urge to protect? And what is knowledge but the love of truth? The means and forms may be wrong, but the motive behind is always love — love of the me and the mine. The me and the mine may be small, or may explode and embrace the universe, but love remains.