Hold onto ‘I am’

To me, nothing exists by itself. All is the Self, all is myself. To see myself in everybody and everybody in myself most cer- tainly is love.

There is no thing which could be called ‘me’ or ‘mine’. Desire is a state of the mind, perceived and named by the mind. Without the mind perceiving and naming, where is desire?

Cons- ciousness and unconsciousness are two aspects of one life. They co-exist. To know the world you forget the self — to know the self you forget the world. What is world after all? A collection of memories. Cling to one thing, that matters, hold on to ‘I am’ and let go all else. This is sadhana. In realization there is nothing to hold on to and nothing to forget. Everything is known, nothing is remembered.

Self-remembering is a mental state and self-forgetting is another. They alternate like day and night. Reality is beyond both.

Q: Is it not a calamity to forget oneself?
M: As bad as to remember oneself continuously. There ±is a state beyond forgetting. and not-forgetting — the natural state. To remember, to forget — these are all states of mind, thought- bound, word-bound. Take for example, the idea of being born. I am told I was born. I do not remember. I am told I shall die. I do not expect it. You tell me I have forgotten, or I lack imagination. But I just cannot remember what never happened, nor expect the patently impossible. Bodies are born and bodies die, but what is it to me? Bodies come and go in consciousness and consciousness itself has its roots in me. I am life and mine are mind and body.

I am all. As myself all is real. Apart from me, nothing is real.

The world has no existence apart from you. At every moment it is but a reflection of yourself. You create it, you destroy it.

Your personal universe does not exist by itself. It is merely a limited and distorted view of the real. It is not the universe that needs improving, but your way of looking.

God does not aim at beauty — whatever he does is beautiful. Would you say that a flower is trying to be beautiful? It is beautiful by its very nature. Similarly God is perfection itself, not an effort at perfection.

What is beautiful? Whatever is perceived blissfully is beauti- ful. Bliss is the essence of beauty.

Be fully aware of your own being and you will be in bliss consciously. Because you take your mind off yourself and make it dwell on what you are not, you lose your sense of well-being, of being well.

True happiness is spontaneous and effortless.

What you can seek and find is not the real thing. Find what you have never lost, find the inalienable.

26. Personality, an Obstacle

Weak desires can be removed by introspection and meditation, but strong, deep-rooted ones mush be fulfilled and their fruits, sweet or bitter, tasted.

Q: The desire to live is a tremendous thing.
M: Still greater is the freedom from the urge to live.

Self- identification with the body may be good for an infant, but true growing up depends on getting the body out of the way. Nor- mally, one should outgrow body-based desires early in life. Even the Bhogi, who does not refuse enjoyments, need not hanker after the ones he has tasted. Habit, desire for repetition, frustrates both the Yogi and the Bhogi.

you will think yourself to be a person — living, feeling, thinking, active, passive, pleased or pained. Question yourself, ask yourself. ‘Is it so?’ ‘Who am I’? ‘What is behind and beyond all this?’ And soon you will see your mistake. And it is in the very nature of a mistake to cease to be, when seen.

Q: Sharada Devi, wife of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, used to scold his disciples for too much effort. She compared them to mangoes on the tree which are being plucked before they are ripe. ‘Why hurry?’ she used to say. ‘Wait till you are fully ripe, mellow and sweet.’
M: How right she was! There are so many who take the dawn for the noon, a momentary experience for full realization and destroy even the little they gain by excess of pride. Humility and silence are essential for a sadhaka, however advanced. Only a fully ripened gnani can allow himself complete spontaneity.

Q: It seems there are schools of Yoga where the student, after illumination, is obliged to keep silent for 7 or 12 or 15 or even 25 years. Even Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi imposed on him- self 20 years of silence before he began to teach.
M: Yes, the inner fruit must ripen. Until then the discipline, the living in awareness, must go on. Gradually the practice be- comes more and more subtle, until it becomes altogether form- less.

Q: I am an adopted child. My own father I do not know. My mother died when I was born. My foster father, to please my fos- ter mother, who was childless, adopted me — almost by acci- dent. He is a simple man — a truck owner and driver. My mother keeps the house. I am 24 years now. For the last two and a half years I am travelling, restless, seeking. I want to live a good life, a holy life. What am I to do?
M: Go home, take charge of your father’s business, look after your parents in their old age. Marry the girl who is waiting for you, be loyal, be simple, be humble. Hide your virtue, live si- lently. The five senses and the three qualities (gunas) are your eight steps in Yoga. And ‘I am’ is the Great Reminder (mahamantra). You can learn from them all you need to know. Be attentive, enquire ceaselessly. That is all.

It is not what you live, but how you live that matters. The idea of enlightenment is of utmost impor- tance. Just to know that there is such possibility, changes one’s entire outlook. It acts like a burning match in a heap of saw dust. All the great teachers did nothing else. A spark of truth can burn up a mountain of lies. The opposite is also true. The sun of truth remains hidden behind the cloud of self-identification with the body.

27. The Beginningless Begins Forever

Everything contributes to the ultimate perfection. Some say there are three aspects of reality — Truth-Wisdom-Bliss. He who seeks Truth becomes a Yogi, he who seeks wisdom becomes a gnani; he who seeks happiness becomes the man of action.

Pleasure and pain are the fruits of actions — righteous and unrighteous.
Q: What makes the difference?
M: The difference is between giving and grasping. Whatever the way of approach, in the end all becomes one.

Unfortunately, lan- guage is a mental tool and works only in opposites.

Q: As a witness, you are working or at rest?
M: Witnessing is an experience and rest is freedom from ex- perience.
Q: Can’t they co-exist, as the tumult of the waves and the quiet of the deep co-exist in the ocean.
M: Beyond the mind there is no such thing as experience. Ex- perience is a dual state. You cannot talk of reality as an expe- rience. Once this is understood, you will no longer look for being and becoming as separate and opposite. In reality they are one and inseparable, like roots and branches of the same tree. Both can exist only in the light of consciousness, which again, arises in the wake of the sense ‘I am’. This is the primary fact. If you miss it, you miss all.

Whatever is spoken is speech only. Whatever is thought is thought only. The real meaning is unexplainable, though ex- perienceable.

I live on courage. Courage is my essence, which is love of life. I am free of memories and anticipations, unconcerned with what I am and what I am not. I am not addicted to self- descriptions, I have the courage to be as nothing and to see the world as it is: nothing. It sounds simple, just try it!

Q: But what gives you courage?
M: How perverted are your views! Need courage be given? Your question implies that anxiety is the normal state and cou- rage is abnormal. It is the other way round. Anxiety and hope are born of imagination — I am free of both. I am simple being and I need nothing to rest on.

Q: Unless a thing is knowable and enjoyable, it is of no use to me. It must become a part of my experience, first of all.
M: You are dragging down reality to the level of experience. How can reality depend on experience, when it is the very ground (adhar) of experience. Reality is in the very fact of ex- perience, not in its nature. Experience is, after all, a state of mind, while being is definitely not a state of mind.

Q: I have another question to ask: Some Yogis attain their goal, but it is of no use to others. They do not know, or are not able to share. Those who can share out what they have, initiate others. Where lies the difference?
M: The wise man cannot help anybody, for he is everybody. He is the poor and also his pov- erty, the thief and also his thievery. How can he be said to help, when he is not apart? Who thinks of himself as separate from the world, let him help the world.

Q: Still, there is duality, there is sorrow, there is need of help. By denouncing it as mere dream nothing is achieved.
M: The only thing that can help is to wake up from the dream.

Q: I began at birth.
M: That is what you are told. Is it so? Did you see yourself be- ginning?
Q: I began just now. All else is memory.
M: Quite right. The beginningless begins forever. In the same way, I give eternally, because I have nothing. To be nothing, to have nothing, to keep nothing for oneself is the greatest gift, the highest generosity.

28. All Suffering is Born of Desire

Maharaj: By all means. Do you know yourself?
Q: I know that I am not the body. Nor am I the mind. M: What makes you say so?
Q: IdonotfeelIaminthebody.Iseemtobeallovertheplace, everywhere. As to the mind, I can switch it on and off, so to say. This makes me feel I am not the mind.

M: When you feel yourself everywhere in the world, do you re- main separate from the world? Or, are you the world?
Q: Both. Sometimes I feel myself to be neither mind nor body, but one single all-seeing eye. When I go deeper into it, I find myself to be all I see and the world and myself become one.

M: Very well. What about desires? Do you have any?
Q: Yes, they come, short and superficial. M: And what do you do about them?
Q: What can I do? They come, they go. I look at them. Some- times I see my body and my mind engaged in fulfilling them.
M: Whose desires are being fulfilled?
Q: They are a part of the world in which I live. They are just as trees and clouds are there.
M: Are they not a sign of some imperfection?
Q: Whyshouldtheybe?Theyareastheyare,andIamasIam. How can the appearance and disappearance of desires affect me? Of course, they affect the shape and content of the mind.

M: How did you come to your present state?
Q: Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teachings have put me on my way. Then I met one Douglas Harding who helped me by showing me how to work on the ‘Who am I?’
M: Was it sudden or gradual?
Q: It was quite sudden. Like something quite forgotten, coming back into one’s mind. Or, like a sudden flash of understanding. ‘How simple’, I said, ‘How simple; I’m not what I thought I am! I’m neither the perceived nor the perceiver; I’m the perceiving only’.
M: Not even the perceiving, but that which makes all this pos- sible.

Q: What is happiness?
M: Harmony between the inner and the outer is happiness. On
the other hand, self-identification with the outer causes is suffer- ing.

Q: What is the real cause of suffering?
M: It is the mind, bewildered by wrong ideas, addicted to thinking: ‘I am this’. ‘I am that’, that fears loss and craves gain and suffers when frus- trated.

Q: Life itself is a nightmare.
M: Noble friendship (satsang) is the supreme remedy for all ills, physical and mental.
Q: Generally one cannot find such friendship. M: Seek within. Your own self is your best friend.

Q: Why is life so full of contradictions?
M: It serves to break down mental pride. We must, realize how poor and powerless we are. As long as we delude ourselves by what we imagine ourselves to be, to know, to have, to do, we are in a sad plight indeed. Only in complete self-negation there is a chance to discover our real being.

Q: Why so much stress on self-negation?
M: As much as on self-realization. The false self must be aban- doned before the real self can be found.

Q: The self you choose to call false is to me most distressingly real. It is the only self I know. What you call the real self is a mere concept, a way of speaking, a creature of the mind, an attractive ghost. My daily self is not a beauty, I admit, but it is my own and only self. You say I am, or have, another self. Do you see it — is it a reality to you, or do you want me to believe what you yourself don’t see?
M: Don’t jump to conclusions rashly. The concrete need not be the real, the conceived need not be false. Perceptions based on sensations and shaped by memory imply a perceiver, whose nature you never cared to examine. Give it your full attention, examine it with loving care and you will discover heights and depths of being which you did not dream of, engrossed as you are in your puny image of yourself.

Q: I must be in the right mood to examine myself fruitfully.
M: You must be serious, intent, truly interested. You must be full of goodwill for yourself.

Wish yourself well, labour at what is good for you. Destroy all that stands between you and happiness. Be all — love all — be happy — make happy. No happiness is greater.

Q: Why is there so much suffering in love?
M: All suffering is born of desire. True love is never frustrated. How can the sense of unity be frustrated? What can be frus- trated is the desire for expression. Such desire is of the mind. As with all things mental, frustration is inevitable.

Q: There is so much sex without love.
M: Without love all is evil. Life itself without love is evil. Q: What can make me love?
M: You are love itself — when you are not afraid.

29. Living is Life’s only Purpose

There is no question of failure, neither in the short run nor in the long. It is like travelling a long and arduous road in an unknown country. Of all the innumerable steps there is only the last which brings you to your destination. Yet you will not consider all previous steps as failures. Each brought you nearer to your goal, even when you had to turn back to by-pass an obstacle. In reality each step brings you to your goal, because to be always on the move, learning, discovering, unfolding, is your eternal destiny. Living is life’s only purpose.

Once you know with absolute certainty that nothing can trouble you but your own imagination, you come to disregard your desires and fears, concepts and ideas and live by truth alone.

It is slow in the beginning and rapid in the end. When one is fully matured, realization is explosive. It takes place spon- taneously, or at the slightest hint.

Q: Just as a child cannot help growing, so does a man, compel- led by nature, make progress. Why exert oneself? Where is the need of Yoga?
M: There is progress all the time. Everything contributes to progress. But this is the progress of ignorance. The circles of ignorance may be ever widening, yet it remains a bondage all the same. In due course a Guru appears to teach and inspire us to practise Yoga and a ripening takes place as a result of which the immemorial night of ignorance dissolves before the rising sun of wisdom. But in reality nothing happened. The sun is al- ways there, there is no night to it; the mind blinded by the ‘I-am-the-body’ idea spins out endlessly its thread of illusion.

Q: We come across some great people, who, in their old age, become childish, petty, quarrelsome and spiteful. How could they deteriorate so much?
M: They were not perfect Yogis, having their bodies under complete control. Or, they might not have cared to protect their bodies from the natural decay. One must not draw conclusions without understanding all the factors. Above all, one must not make judgements of inferiority or superiority. Youthfulness is more a matter of vitality (prana) than of wisdom (gnana).

Q: I was told that a realized man will never do anything un- seemly. He will always behave in an exemplary way.
M: Who sets the example? Why should a liberated man neces- sarily follow conventions? The moment he becomes predicta- ble, he cannot be free. His freedom lies in his being free to fulfil the need of the moment, to obey the necessity of the situation. Freedom to do what one likes is really bondage, while being free to do what one must, what is right, is real freedom.

Q: Still there must be some way of making out who has realized and who has not. If one is indistinguishable from the other, of what use is he?
M: He who knows himself has no doubts about it. Nor does he care whether others recognize his state or not. Rare is the realized man who discloses his realization and fortunate are those who have met him, for he does it for their abiding welfare.

M: In the mind only. Time is in the mind, space is in the mind. The law of cause and effect is also a way of thinking. In reality all is here and now and all is one. Multiplicity and diversity are in the mind only.

Man alone can des- troy in himself the roots of pain. Others can only help with the pain, but not with its cause, which is the abysmal stupidity of mankind.

Q: Will this stupidity ever come to an end?
M: In man — of course. Any moment. In humanity — as we know it — after very many years. In creation — never, for crea- tion itself is rooted in ignorance; matter itself is ignorance. Not to know, and not to know that one does not know, is the cause of endless suffering.

Which world do you want to save? The world of your own projection? Save it yourself. My world? Show me my world and I shall deal with it.
What business have you with saving the world, when all the world needs is to be saved from you?