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I Am That: Dialogues

I Am That

Dialogues of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj 


That in whom reside all beings and who resides in all beings, who is the giver of
grace to all, the Supreme Soul of the universe, the limitless being -- I am that.
~ Amritbindu Upanishad

That which permeates all, which nothing transcends and which, like the universal
space around us, fills everything completely from within and without, that
Supreme non-dual Brahman -- that thou art.
~ Sankaracharya

The seeker is he who is in search of himself.

Give up all questions except one: ‘Who am I?’ After all, the only fact you are sure
of is that you are. The ‘I am’ is certain. The ‘I am this’ is not. Struggle to
find out what you are in reality.

To know what you are, you must first investigate and know what you are not.

Discover all that you are not -- body, feelings thoughts, time, space, this or that --
nothing, concrete or abstract, which you perceive can be you. The very act of
perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive.

The clearer you understand on the level of mind you can be described in negative
terms only, the quicker will you come to the end of your search and realise
that you are the limitless being.

~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Table of Contents

Who is Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj?
1. The Sense of ‘I am’

2. Obsession with the body

3. The Living Present

4. Real World is Beyond the Mind

5. What is Born must Die

6. Meditation

7. The Mind

8. The Self Stands Beyond Mind

9. Responses of Memory

10. Witnessing

11. Awareness and Consciousness

12. The Person is not Reality

13. The Supreme, the Mind and the Body

14. Appearances and the Reality

15. The Jnani

21. Who am I?

25. Hold on to ‘I am’

Who is Nisargadatta Maharaj?

When asked about the date of his birth the Master replied blandly that he was never born!

Writing a biographical note on Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj is a frustrating and unrewarding task. For, not only the exact date of his birth is unknown, but no verified facts concerning the early years of his life are available. However, some of his elderly relatives and friends say that he was born in the month of March 1897 on a full moon day, which coincided with the festival of Hanuman Jayanti, when Hindus pay their homage to Hanuman, also named Maruti, the monkey-god of Ramayana fame. And to associate his birth with this auspicious day his parents named him Maruti.

Available information about his boyhood and early youth is patchy and disconnected. We learn that his father, Shivrampant, was a poor man, who worked for some time as a domestic servant in Bombay and, later, eked out his livelihood as a petty farmer at Kandalgaon, a small village in the back woods of Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. Maruti grew up almost without education. As a boy he assisted his father in such labours as lay within his power -- tended cattle, drove oxen, worked in the fields and ran errands. His pleasures were simple, as his labours, but he was gifted with an inquisitive mind, bubbling over with questions of all sorts.

His father had a Brahmin friend named Vishnu Haribhau Gore, who was a pious man and learned too from rural standards. Gore often talked about religious topics and the boy Maruti listened attentively and dwelt on these topics far more than anyone would suppose. Gore was for him the ideal man -- earnest, kind and wise.

When Maruti attained the age of eighteen his father died, leaving behind his widow, four sons and two daughters. The meagre income from the small farm dwindled further after the old man’s death and was not sufficient to feed so many mouths. Maruti’s elder brother left the village for Bombay in search of work and he followed shortly after. It is said that in Bombay he worked for a few months as a low-paid junior clerk in an office, but resigned the job in disgust. He then took petty trading as a haberdasher and started a shop for selling children’s clothes, tobacco and hand-made country cigarettes. This business is said to have flourished in course of time, giving him some sort of financial security. During this period he got married and had a son and three daughters.

Childhood, youth, marriage, progeny -- Maruti lived the usual humdrum and eventless life of a common man till his middle age, with no inkling at all of the sainthood that was to follow. Among his friends during this period was one Yashwantrao Baagkar, who was a devotee of Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj, a spiritual teacher of the Navnath Sampradaya, a sect of Hinduism. One evening Baagkar took Maruti to his Guru and that evening proved to be the turning point in his life. The Guru gave him a mantra and instructions in meditation. Early in his practice he started having visions and occasionally even fell into trances. Something exploded within him, as it were, giving birth to a cosmic consciousness, a sense of eternal life. The identity of Maruti, the petty shopkeeper, dissolved and the illuminating personality of Sri Nisargadatta emerged.

Most people live in the world of self-consciousness and do not have the desire or power to leave it. They exist only for themselves; all their effort is directed towards achievement of self-satisfaction and self-glorification. There are, however, seers, teachers and revealers who, while apparently living in the same world, live simultaneously in another world also -- the world of cosmic consciousness, effulgent with infinite knowledge. After his illuminating experience Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj started living such a dual life. He conducted his shop, but ceased to be a profit-minded merchant. Later, abandoning his family and business he became a mendicant, a pilgrim over the vastness and variety of the Indian religious scene. He walked barefooted on his way to the Himalayas where he planned to pass the rest of his years in quest of a eternal life. But he soon retraced his steps and came back home comprehending the futility of such a quest. Eternal life, he perceived, was not to be sought for; he already had it. Having gone beyond the I-am-the-body idea, he had acquired a mental state so joyful, peaceful and glorious that everything appeared to be worthless compared to it. He had attained self-realisation.

Uneducated though the Master is, his conversation is enlightened to an extraordinary degree. Though born and brought up in poverty, he is the richest of the rich, for he has the limitless wealth of perennial knowledge, compared to which the most fabulous treasures are mere tinsel. He is warm-hearted and tender, shrewdly humorous, absolutely fearless and absolutely true -- inspiring, guiding and supporting all who come to him.

Any attempt to write a biographical not on such a man is frivolous and futile. For he is not a man with a past or future; he is the living present -- eternal and immutable. He is the self that has become all things.

1. The Sense of ‘I am’

It is a matter of daily experience that on waking up the world suddenly
appears. Where does it come from?

Before anything can come into being there must be somebody to whom it comes.
All appearance and disappearance presupposes a change against some changeless

Q:   Before waking up I was unconscious.

M:  In what sense? Having forgotten, or not
having experienced? Don’t you experience even when unconscious? Can you exist
without knowing? A lapse in memory: is it a proof of non-existence? And can you
validly talk about your own non-existence as an actual experience? You cannot
even say that your mind did not exist. Did you not wake up on being called? And
on waking up, was it not the sense ‘I am’ that came first? Some seed
consciousness must be existing even during sleep, or swoon. On waking up the
experience runs: ‘I am -- the body -- in the world.’ It may appear to arise in
succession but in fact it is all simultaneous, a single idea of having a body
in a world. Can there be the sense of ‘I am’ without being somebody or other?

Q:   I am always somebody with its memories and
habits. I know no other ‘I am’.

M:  Maybe something prevents you from knowing?
When you do not know something which others know, what do you do?

Q:   I seek the source of their knowledge under
their instruction.

M:  Is it not important to you to know whether
you are a mere body, or something else? Or, maybe nothing at all? Don’t you see
that all your problems are your body’s problems -- food, clothing, shelter,
family, friends, name, fame, security, survival -- all these lose their meaning
the moment you realise that you may not be a mere body.

Q:   What benefit is there in knowing that I am
not the body?

M:  Even to say that you are not the body is not
quite true. 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 verbalised but can be experienced. All you need
to do is 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.

Q:   Then what am I?

M:  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 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 ‘belong'. 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?

Q:   The sense of being an experiencer, the sense
of ‘I am’, is it not also an experience?

M:  Obviously, every thing experienced is an
experience. And in every experience there arises the experiencer of it. Memory
creates the illusion of continuity. In reality each experience has its own
experiencer and the sense of identity is due to the common factor at the root
of all experiencer-experience relations. Identity and continuity are not the
same. Just as each flower has its own colour, but all colours are caused by the
same light, so do many experiences appear in the undivided and indivisible
awareness, each separate in memory, identical in essence. This essence is the
root, the foundation, the timeless and spaceless 'possibility' of all

Q:   How do I get at it?

M:  You need not get at it, for you are it. It will get at you, if you give
it a chance. Let go your attachment to the unreal and the real will swiftly and
smoothly step into its own. Stop imagining yourself being or doing this or that
and the realisation that you are the source and heart of all will dawn upon
you. With this will come great love which is not choice or predilection, nor attachment,
but a power which makes all things love-worthy and lovable.

2. Obsession with the body

Maharaj, you are sitting in front of me and I am here at your feet. What is the
basic difference between us?

There is no basic difference.

Q:   Still there must be some real difference, I
come to you, you do not come to me.

M:  Because you imagine differences, you go here
and there in search of ‘superior’ people.

Q:   You too are a superior person. You claim to
know the real, while I do not.

M:  Did I ever tell you that you do not know and,
therefore, you are inferior? Let those who invented such distinctions prove
them. I do not claim to know what you do not. In fact, I know much less than
you do.

Q:   Your words are wise, your behaviour noble,
your grace all-powerful.

M:  I know nothing about it all and see no
difference between you and me. My life is a succession of events, just like
yours. Only I am detached and see the passing show as a passing show, while you
stick to things and move along with them.

Q:   What made you so dispassionate?

M:  Nothing in particular. It so happened that I
trusted my Guru. He told me I am nothing but my self and I believed him.
Trusting him, I behaved accordingly and ceased caring for what was not me, nor

Q:   Why were you lucky to trust your teacher
fully, while our trust is nominal and verbal?

M:  Who can say? It happened so. Things happen
without cause and reason and, after all, what does it matter, who is who? Your
high opinion of me is your opinion only. Any moment you may change it. Why
attach importance to opinions, even your own?

Q:   Still, you are different. Your mind seems to
be always quiet and happy. And miracles happen round you.

M:  I know nothing about miracles, and I wonder
whether nature admits exceptions to her laws, unless we agree that everything
is a miracle. As to my mind, there is no such thing. There is consciousness in
which everything happens. It is quite obvious and within the experience of
everybody. You just do not look carefully enough. Look well, and see what I

Q:   What do you see?

M:  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 inadvertence. By knowing what you are not, you come to
know your self. The way back to your self is through refusal and rejection. One
thing is certain: the real is not imaginary, it is not a product 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 verbalising 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 expressions. Once this obsession
with the body goes, you will revert to your natural state, spontaneously and
effortlessly. The only difference 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

As I can see, there is nothing wrong with my body nor with my real being. Both
are not of my making and need not be improved upon. What has gone wrong is the
‘inner body’, call it mind, consciousness, antahkarana,
whatever the name.

What do you consider to be wrong with your mind?

Q:   It is restless, greedy of the pleasant and
afraid of the unpleasant.

M:  What is wrong with its seeking the pleasant
and shirking the unpleasant? Between the banks of pain and pleasure the river
of life flows. It is only when the mind refuses to flow with life, and gets
stuck at the banks, that it becomes a problem. By flowing with life I mean
acceptance -- letting come what comes and go what goes. Desire not, fear not,
observe the actual, as and when it happens, for you are not what happens, you
are to whom it happens. Ultimately even the observer you are not. You are the
ultimate potentiality of which the all-embracing consciousness is the
manifestation and expression.

Q:   Yet, between the body and the self there
lies a cloud of thoughts and feelings, which neither server the body nor the
self. These thoughts and feelings are flimsy, transient and meaningless, mere
mental dust that blinds and chokes, yet they are there, obscuring and

M:  Surely, the memory of an
event cannot pass for the event itself. Nor can the anticipation. There is
something exceptional, unique, about the present event, which the previous, or
the coming do not have. There is a livingness about it, an actuality; it stands
out as if illuminated. There is the ‘stamp of reality’ on the actual, which the
past and the future do not have.

Q:   What gives the present that 'stamp of

M:  There is nothing peculiar in the present
event to make it different from the past and future. For a moment the past was
actual 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.
The past is in memory, the future -- in imagination. There is nothing in the
present event itself that makes it stand out as real. It may be some simple,
periodical occurrence, like the striking of the clock. 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 focussed in the now is with me, for I am ever present; it is my own
reality that I impart to the present event.

Q:   But we deal with things remembered as if
they were real.

M:  We consider memories, only when they come
into the present The forgotten is not counted until one is reminded -- which
implies, bringing into the now.

Q:   Yes, I can see there is in the now some
unknown factor that gives momentary reality to the transient actuality.

M:  You need not say it is unknown, for you see
it in constant operation. Since you were born, has it ever changed? Things and
thoughts have been changing all the time. But the feeling that what is now is
real has never changed, even in dream.

Q:   In deep sleep there is no experience of the
present reality.

M:  The blankness of deep sleep is due entirely
to the lack of specific memories. But a general memory of well-being is there.
There is a difference in feeling when we say ‘I was deeply asleep’ from ‘I was

Q:   We shall repeat the question we began with:
between life’s source and life’s expression (which is the body), there is the
mind and its ever-changeful states. The stream of mental states is endless,
meaningless and painful. Pain is the constant factor. What we call pleasure is
but a gap, an interval between two painful states. Desire and fear are the weft
and warp of living, and both are made of pain. Our question is: can there be a
happy mind?

M:  Desire is the memory of pleasure and fear is
the memory of pain. Both make the mind restless. Moments of pleasure are merely
gaps in the stream of pain. How can the mind be happy?

Q:   That is true when we desire pleasure or
expect pain. But there are moments of unexpected, unanticipated joy. Pure joy,
uncontaminated by desire -- unsought, undeserved, God-given.

M:  Still, joy is joy only against a background
of pain.

Q:   Is pain a cosmic fact, or purely mental?

M:  The universe is complete and where there is
completeness, where nothing lacks, what can give pain?

Q:   The Universe may be complete as a whole, but
incomplete in details.

M:  A part of the whole seen in relation to the
whole is also complete. Only when seen in isolation it becomes deficient and
thus a seat of pain. What makes for isolation?

Q:   Limitations of the mind, of course. The mind
cannot see the whole for the part.

M:  Good enough. The mind, by its very nature,
divides and opposes. Can there be some other mind, which unites and harmonises,
which sees the whole in the part and the part as totally related to the whole?

Q:   The other mind -- where to look for it?

M:  In the going beyond the limiting, dividing
and opposing mind. In ending the mental process as we know it. When this comes
to an end, that mind is born.

Q:   In that mind, the problem of joy and sorrow
exist no longer?

M:  Not as we know them, as desirable or
repugnant. It becomes rather a question of love seeking expression and meeting
with obstacles. The inclusive mind is love in action, battling against
circumstances, initially frustrated, ultimately victorious.

Q:   Between the spirit and the body, is it love
that provides the bridge?

M:  What else? Mind creates the abyss, the heart
crosses it.

4. Real World is Beyond the Mind

On several occasions the question was raised as to whether the universe is
subject to the law of causation, or does it exist and function outside the law.
You seem to hold the view that it is uncaused, that everything, however small,
is uncaused, arising and disappearing for no known reason whatsoever.

Causation means succession in time of events in space, the space being physical
or mental. Time, space, causation are mental categories, arising and subsiding
with the mind.

Q:   As long as the mind operates, causation is a
valid law.

M:  Like everything mental, the so-called law of
causation contradicts itself. No thing in existence has a particular cause; the
entire universe contributes to the existence of even the smallest thing;
nothing could be as it is without the universe being what it is. When the
source and ground of everything is the only cause of everything, to speak of
causality as a universal law is wrong. The universe is not bound by its
content, because its potentialities are infinite; besides it is a
manifestation, or expression of a principle fundamentally and totally free.

Q:   Yes, one can see that ultimately to speak of
one thing being the only cause of another thing is altogether wrong. Yet, in
actual life we invariably initiate action with a view to a result.

M:  Yes, there is a lot of such activity going
on, because of ignorance. 'Would people know that nothing can happen unless the
entire universe makes it happen, they would achieve much more with less
expenditure of energy.

Q:   If everything is an expression of the
totality of causes, how can we talk of a purposeful action towards an

M:  The very urge to achieve is also an
expression of the total universe. It merely shows that the energy potential has
risen at a particular point. It is the illusion of time that makes you talk of
causality. When the past and the future are seen in the timeless now, as parts of a common pattern, the
idea of cause-effect loses its validity and creative freedom takes its place.

Q:   Yet, I cannot see how can anything come to
be without a cause.

M:  When I say a thing is without a cause, I mean
it can be with¬out a particular cause. Your own mother was needed to give you
birth; But you could not have been born without the sun and the earth. Even
these could not have caused your birth without
your own desire to be born. It is desire that gives birth, that gives
name and form. The desirable is imagined and wanted and manifests itself as
something tangible or con¬ceivable. Thus is created the world in which we live,
our per¬sonal world. The real world is beyond the mind's ken; we see it through
the net of our desires, divided into pleasure and pain, right and wrong, inner
and outer. To see the universe as it is, you must step beyond the net. It is
not hard to do so, for the net is full of holes.

Q:   What do you mean by holes? And how to find

M:  Look at the net and its many contradictions.
You do and undo at every step. You want peace, love, happiness and work hard to
create pain, hatred and war. You want longevity and overeat, you want
friendship and exploit. See your net as made of such contradictions and remove
them -- your very seeing them will make them go.

Q:   Since my seeing the contradiction makes it
go, is there no causal link between my seeing and its going?

M:  Causality, even as a concept, does not apply
to chaos.

Q:   To what extent is desire a causal factor?

M:  One of the many. For everything there are
innumerable causal factors. But the source of all that is, is the Infinite
Possibility, the Supreme Reality, which is in you and which throws its power
and light and love on every experience. But, this source is not a cause and no
cause is a source. Because of that, I say everything is uncaused. You may try
to trace how a thing happens, but you cannot find out why a thing is as it is. A thing is as it is,
because the universe is as it is.

5. What is Born must Die

Is the witness-consciousness permanent or not?

It is not permanent. The knower rises and sets with the known. That in which
both the knower and the known arise and set, is beyond time. The words
permanent or eternal do not apply.

Q:   In sleep there is neither the known, nor the
knower. What keeps the body sensitive and receptive?

M:  Surely you cannot say the knower was absent.
The experience of things and thoughts was not there, that is all. But the
absence of experience too is experience. It is like entering a dark room and
saying: 'I see nothing'. A man blind from birth knows not what darkness means.
Similarly, only the knower knows that he does not know. Sleep is merely a lapse
in memory. Life goes on.

Q:   And what is death?

M:  It is the change in the living process of a
particular body. Integration ends and disintegration sets in.

Q:   But what about the knower. With the
disappearance of the body, does the knower disappear?

M:  Just as the knower of the body appears at
birth, so he disappears at death.

Q:   And nothing remains?

M:  Life remains. Consciousness needs a vehicle
and an instrument for its manifestation. When life produces another body,
another knower comes into being,

Q:   Is there a causal link between the
successive body¬knowers, or body-minds?

M:  Yes, there is something that may be called the
memory body, or causal body, a record of all that was thought, wanted and done.
It is like a cloud of images held together

Q:   What is this sense of a separate existence?

M:  It is a reflection in a separate body of the
one reality. In this reflection the unlimited and the limited are confused and
taken to be the same. To undo this confusion is the purpose of Yoga.

Q:   Does not death undo this confusion?

M:  In death only the body dies. Life does not,
consciousness does not, reality does not. And the life is never so alive as
after death.

Q:   But does one get reborn?

M:  What was born must die. Only the unborn is
deathless. Find what is it that never sleeps and never wakes, and whose pale
reflection is our sense of 'I'.

Q:   How am I to go about this finding out?

M:  How do you go about finding anything? By
keeping your mind and heart in it. Interest there must be and steady
remembrance. To remember what needs to be remembered is the secret of success.
You come to it through earnestness.

Q:   Do you mean to say that mere wanting to find
out is enough? Surely, both qualifications and opportunities are needed.

M:  These will come with earnestness. What is
supremely important is to be free from contradictions: the goal and the way
must not be on different levels; life and light must not quarrel; behaviour
must not betray belief. Call it honesty, integrity, wholeness; you must not go
back, undo, uproot, abandon the conquered ground. Tenacity of purpose and
honesty in pursuit will bring you to your goal.

Q:   Tenacity and honesty are endowments, surely!
Not a trace of them I have.

M:  All will come as you go on. Take the first
step first. All blessings come from within. Turn within. 'l 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.

6. Meditation

All teachers advise to meditate. What is the purpose of meditation?

We know the outer world of sensations and actions, but of our inner world of
thoughts and feelings we know very little. The primary purpose of meditation is
to become conscious of, and familiar with, our inner life. The ultimate purpose
is to reach the source of life and consciousness.

Incidentally practice of meditation
affects deeply our character. We are slaves to what we do not know; of what we
know we are masters. Whatever vice or weakness in ourselves we discover and
understand its causes and its workings, we 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.

Q:   What is the use of a quiet mind?

M:  When the mind is quiet, we come to know
ourselves as the pure witness. We withdraw from the experience and its
experiencer and stand apart in pure awareness, which is between and beyond the
two. The personality, based on self-identification, on imagining oneself to be
something: 'I am this, I am that', continues, but only as a part of the
objective world. Its identification with the witness snaps.

Q:   As I can make out, I live on many levels and
life on each level requires energy. The self by its very nature delights in
everything and its energies flow outwards. Is it not the purpose of meditation
to dam up the energies on the higher levels, or to push them back and up, so as
to enable the higher levels to prosper also?

M:  It is not so much the matter of levels as of gunas (qualities). Meditation is a sattvic activity and aims at complete
elimination of tamas (inertia) and rajas (motivity). Pure sattva (harmony) is perfect freedom from
sloth and restlessness.

Q:   How to strengthen and purify the sattva?

M:  The sattva
is pure and strong always. It is like the sun. It may seem obscured by clouds
and dust, but only from the point of view of the perceiver. Deal with the
causes of obscuration, not with the sun.

Q:   What is the use of sattva?

M:  What is the use of truth, goodness, harmony,
beauty? They are their own goal. They manifest spontaneously and effortlessly,
when things are left to themselves, are not interfered with, not shunned, or
wanted, or conceptualised, but just experienced in full awareness, such
awareness itself is sattva. It does
not make use of things and people -- it fulfils them.

Q:   Since I cannot improve sattva, am I to deal with tamas
and rajas only? How can I deal with them?

M:  By watching their influence in you and on
you. Be aware of them in operation, watch their expressions in your thoughts,
words and deeds, and gradually their grip on you will lessen and the clear
light of sattva will emerge. It is
neither difficult, nor a protracted process; earnestness is the only condition
of success.

7. The Mind

There are very interesting books written by apparently very competent people,
in which the illusoriness of the world is denied (though not its
transitoriness). According to them, there exists a hierarchy of beings, from
the lowest to the highest; on each level the complexity of the organism enables
and reflects the depth, breadth and intensity of consciousness, without any
visible or knowable culmination. One law supreme rules throughout: evolution of
forms for the growth and enrichment of consciousness and manifestation of its
infinite potentialities.

This may or may not be so. Even if it is, it is only so from the mind’s point
of view, but In fact the entire universe (mahadakash)
exists only in consciousness (chidakash),
while I have my stand in the Absolute (paramakash).
In pure being consciousness arises; in consciousness the world appears and
disappears. All there is is me, all
there is is mine. Before all
beginnings, after all endings -- I am. All has its being in me, in the ‘I am’,
that shines in every living being. Even not-being is unthinkable without me.
Whatever happens, I must be there to witness it.

Q:   Why do you deny being to the world?

M:  I do not negate the world. I see it as
appearing in consciousness, which is the totality of the known in the immensity
of the unknown.

What begins and ends is mere appearance.
The world can be said to appear, but not to be. The appearance may last very
long on some scale of time, and be very short on another, but ultimately it
comes to the same. Whatever is time bound is momentary and has no reality.

Q:   Surely, you see the actual world as it
surrounds you. You seem to behave quite normally!

M:  That is how it appears to you. What in your
case occupies the entire field of consciousness, is a mere speck in mine. The
world lasts, but for a moment. It is your memory that makes you think that the
world continues. Myself, I don't live by memory. I see the world as it is, a
momentary appearance in consciousness.

Q:   In your

M:  All idea of ‘me’ and ‘mine’, even of ‘I am’
is in consciousness.

Q:   Is then your ‘absolute being’ (paramakash) un-consciousness?

M:  The idea of un-consciousness exists in
consciousness only.

Q:   Then, how do you know you are in the supreme

M:  Because I am in it. It is the only natural

Q:   Can you describe it?

M:  Only by negation, as uncaused, independent,
unrelated, undivided, uncomposed, unshakable, unquestionable, unreachable by
effort. Every positive definition is from memory and, therefore, inapplicable.
And yet my state is supremely actual and, therefore, possible, realisable,

Q:   Are you not immersed timelessly in an

M:  Abstraction is mental and verbal and
disappears in sleep, or swoon; it reappears in time; I am in my own state (swarupa) timelessly in the now. Past and future are in mind only --
I am now.

Q:   The world too is now.

M:  Which world?

Q:   The world around us.

M:  It is your world you have in mind, not mine.
What do you know of me, when even my talk with you is in your world only? You
have no reason to believe that my world is identical with yours. My world is
real, true, as it is perceived, while yours appears and disappears, according
to the state of your mind. Your world is something alien, and you are afraid of
it. My world is myself. I am at home.

Q:   If you are the world, how can you be
conscious of it? Is not the subject of consciousness different from its object?

M:  Consciousness and the world appear and
disappear together, hence they are two aspects of the same state.

Q:   In sleep I am not, and the world continues.

M:  How do you know?

Q:   On waking up I come to know. My memory tells

M:  Memory is in the mind. The mind continues in

Q:   It is partly in abeyance.

M:  But its world picture is not affected. As
long as the mind is there, your body and your world are there. Your world is
mind-made, subjective, enclosed within the mind, fragmentary, temporary,
personal, hanging on the thread of memory.

Q:   So is yours?

M:  Oh no. I live in a world of realities, while
yours is of imagination. 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. In 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. All are one and the One is all.

Q:   Is your world full of things and people as
is mine?

M:  No, it is full of myself.

Q:   But do you see and hear as we do?

M:  Yes, l appear to hear and see and talk and
act, but to me it just happens, as to you digestion or perspiration happens.
The body-mind machine looks after it, but leaves me out of it. Just as you do
not need to worry about growing hair, so I need not worry about words and
actions. They just happen and leave me unconcerned, for in my world nothing
ever goes wrong.

8. The Self Stands Beyond Mind

As a child fairly often I experienced states of complete happiness, verging on
ecstasy: later, they ceased, but since I came to India they reappeared,
particularly after I met you. Yet these states, however wonderful, are not
lasting. They come and go and there is no knowing when they will come back.

How can anything be steady in a mind which itself is not steady?

Q:   How can I make my mind steady?

M:  How can an unsteady mind make itself steady?
Of course it cannot. It is the nature of the mind to roam about. All you can do
is to shift the focus of consciousness beyond the mind.

Q:   How is it done?

M:  Refuse all thoughts except one: the thought
'I am'. The mind will rebel in the beginning, but with patience and
perseverance it will yield and keep quiet. Once you are quiet, things will
begin to happen spontaneously and quite naturally without any interference on
your part.

Q:   Can I avoid this protracted battle with my

M:  Yes, you can. Just live your life as it
comes, but alertly, watchfully, allowing everything to happen as it happens,
doing the natural things the natural way, suffering, rejoicing -- as life
brings. This also is a way.

Q:   Well, then I can as well marry, have
children, run a business… be happy.

M:  Sure. You may or may not be happy, take it in
your stride.

Q:   Yet I want happiness.

M:  True happiness cannot be found in things that
change and pass away. Pleasure and pain alternate inexorably. Happiness comes
from the self and can be found in the self only. Find your real self (swarupa) and all else will come with it.

Q:   If my real self is peace and love, why is it
so restless?

M:  It is not your real being that is restless,
but its reflection in the mind appears restless because the mind is restless.
It is just like the reflection of the moon in the water stirred by the wind.
The wind of desire stirs the mind and the 'me', which is but a reflection of
the Self in the mind, appears changeful. But these ideas of movement, of
restlessness, of pleasure and pain are all in the mind. The Self stands beyond
the mind, aware, but unconcerned.

Q:   How to reach it?

M:  You are the Self, here and now Leave the mind
alone, stand aware and unconcerned and you will realise that to stand alert but
detached, watching events come and go, is an aspect of your real nature.

Q:   What are the other aspects?

M:  The aspects are infinite in number. Realise
one, and you will realise all.

Q:   Tell me some thing that would help me.

M:  You know best what you need!

Q:   I am restless. How can I gain peace?

M:  For what do you need peace?

Q:   To be happy.

M:  Are you not happy now?

Q:   No, I am not.

M:  What makes you unhappy?

Q:   I have what I don’t want, and want what I
don’t have.

M:  Why don’t you invert it: want what you have
and care not for what you don’t have?

Q:   I want what is pleasant and don’t want what
is painful.

M:  How do you know what is pleasant and what is

Q:   From past experience, of course.

M:  Guided by memory you have been pursuing the
pleasant and shunning the unpleasant. Have you succeeded?

Q:   No, I have not. The pleasant does not last.
Pain sets in again.

M:  Which pain?

Q:   The desire for pleasure, the fear of pain,
both are states of distress. Is there a state of unalloyed pleasure?

M:  Every pleasure, physical or mental, needs an
instrument. Both the physical and mental instruments are material, they get
tired and worn out. The pleasure they yield is necessarily limited in intensity
and duration. Pain is the background of all your pleasures. You want them
because you suffer. On the other hand, the very search for pleasure is the
cause of pain. It is a vicious circle.

Q:   I can see the mechanism of my confusion, but
I do not see my way out of it.

M:  The very examination of the mechanism shows
the way. After all, your confusion is only in your mind, which never rebelled
so far against confusion and never got to grips with it. It rebelled only
against pain.

Q:   So, all I can do is to stay confused?

M:  Be alert. Question, observe, investigate,
learn all you can about confusion, how it operates, what it does to you and
others. By being clear about confusion you become clear of confusion.

Q:   When I look into myself, I find my strongest
desire is to create a monument, to build something which will outlast me. Even
when I think of a home, wife and child, it is because it is a lasting, solid,
testimony to myself.

M:  Right, build yourself a monument. How do you
propose to do it?

Q:   It matters little what I build, as long as
it is permanent.

M:  Surely, you can see for yourself that nothing
is permanent. All wears out, breaks down, dissolves. The very ground on which
you build gives way. What can you build that will outlast all?

Q:   Intellectually, verbally, I am aware that
all is transient. Yet, somehow my heart wants permanency. I want to create
something that lasts.

M:  Then you must build it of something lasting.
What have you that is lasting? Neither your body nor mind will last. You must
look elsewhere.

Q:   I long for permanency, but I find it

M:  Are you, yourself, not permanent?

Q:   I was born, I shall die.

M:  Can you truly say you were not before you
were born and can you possibly say when dead: ‘Now I am no more’? You cannot
say from your own experience that you are not. You can only say ‘I am’. Others
too cannot tell you ‘you are not’.

Q:   There is no ‘I am’ in sleep.

M:  Before you make such sweeping statements,
examine carefully your waking state. You will soon discover that it is full of
gaps, when the min blanks out. Notice how little you remember even when fully
awake. You just don’t remember. A gap in memory is not necessarily a gap in

Q:   Can I make myself remember my state of deep

M:  Of course! By eliminating the intervals of
inadvertence during your waking hours you will gradually eliminate the long
interval of absent-mindedness, which you call sleep. You will be aware that you
are asleep.

Q:   Yet, the problem of permanency, of
continuity of being, is not solved.

M:  Permanency is a mere idea, born of the
action of time. Time again depends of memory. By permanency you mean unfailing
memory through endless time. You want to eternalise the mind, which is not

Q:   Then what is eternal?

M:  That which does not change with time. You
cannot eternalise a transient thing -- only the changeless is eternal.

Q:   I am familiar with the general sense of what
you say. I do not crave for more knowledge. All I want is peace.

M:  You can have for the asking all the peace you

Q:   I am asking.

M:  You must ask with an undivided heart and live
an integrated life.

Q:   How?

M:  Detach yourself from all that makes your mind
restless. Renounce all that disturbs its peace. If you want peace, deserve it.

Q:   Surely everybody deserves peace.

M:  Those only deserve it, who don't disturb it.

Q:   In what way do I disturb peace?

M:  By being a slave to your desires and fears.

Q:   Even when they are justified?

M:  Emotional reactions, born of ignorance or
inadvertence, are never justified. Seek a clear mind and a clean heart. All you
need is to keep quietly alert, enquiring into the real nature of yourself. This
is the only way to peace.

9. Responses of Memory

Some say the universe was created. Others say that it always existed and is for
ever undergoing transformation. Some say it is subject to eternal laws. Others
deny even causality. Some say the world is real. Others -- that it has no being

Which world are you enquiring about?

Q:   The world of my perceptions, of course.

M:  The world you can perceive is a very small
world indeed. And it is entirely private. Take it to be a dream and be done
with it.

Q:   How can I take it to be a dream? A dream
does not last.

M:  How long will your own world last?

Q:   After all, my little world is but a part of
the total.

M:  Is not the idea of a total world a part of
your personal world? The universe does not come to tell you that you are a part
of it. It is you who have invented a totality to contain you as a part. In fact
all you know is your own private world, however well you have furnished it with
your imaginations and expectations.

Q:   Surely, perception is not imagination!

M:  What else? Perception is recognition, is it
not? Something entirely unfamiliar can be sensed, but cannot be perceived.
Perception involves memory.

Q:   Granted, but memory does not make it

M:  Perception, imagination, expectation,
anticipation, illusion -- all are based on memory. There are hardly any border
lines between them. They just merge into each other. All are responses of

Q:   Still, memory is there to prove the reality
of my world.

M:  How much do you remember? Try to write down
from memory what you were thinking, saying and doing on the 30th of
the last month.

Q:   Yes, there is a blank.

M:  It is not so bad. You do remember a lot --
unconscious memory makes the world in which you live so familiar.

Q:   Admitted that the world in which I live is
subjective and partial. What about you? In what kind of world do you live?

M:  My world is just like yours. I see, I hear, I
feel, I think, I speak and act in a world I perceive, just like you. But with
you it is all, with me it is nothing. Knowing the world to be a part of myself,
I pay it no more attention than you pay to the food you have eaten. While being
prepared and eaten, the food is separate from you and your mind is on it; once
swallowed, you become totally unconscious of it. I have eaten up the world and
I need not think of it any more.

Q:   Don’t you become completely irresponsible?

M:  How could I? How can I hurt something which
is one with me. On the contrary, without thinking of the world, whatever I do
will be of benefit to it. Just as the body sets itself right unconsciously, so
am I ceaselessly active in setting the world right.

Q:   Nevertheless, you are aware of the
immense suffering of the world?

M:  Of course I am, much more than you are.

Q:   Then what do you do?

M:  I look at it through the eyes of God and find
that all is well.

Q:   How can you say that all is well? Look at
the wars, the exploitation, the cruel strife between the citizen and the state.

M:  All these sufferings are man-made and it is
within man's power to put an end to them. God helps by facing man with the
results of his actions and demanding that the balance should be restored. Karma is the law that works for
righteousness; it is the healing hand of God.

10. Witnessing

I am full of desires and want them fulfilled. How am I to get what I want?

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:  Desire itself is energy.

Q:   Then why does not every desire get

M:  Maybe it was not strong enough and lasting.

Q:   Yes, that is my problem. I want things, but
I am lazy when it comes to action.

M:  When your desire is not clear nor strong, it
cannot take shape. Besides, if your desires are personal, for your own
enjoyment, the energy you give them is necessarily limited; it can¬not be more
than what you have.

Q:   Yet, often ordinary persons do attain what
they desire.

M:  After desiring it very much and for a long
time. Even then, their achievements are limited.

Q:   And what about unselfish desires?

M:  When you desire the common good, the whole
world de¬sires with you. Make humanity's desire your own and work for it. There
you cannot fail,

Q:   Humanity is God’s work, not mine. I am
concerned with myself. Have I not the right to see my legitimate desires
fulfilled? They will hurt no one. My desires are legitimate. They are right
desires, why don’t they come true?

M:  Desires are right or wrong according to
circumstances; it depends on how you look at them. It is only for the
individual that a distinction between right and wrong is valid.

Q:   What are the guide-lines for such
distinction? How am I to know which of my desires are right and which are

M:  In your case desires that lead to sorrow are
wrong and those which lead to happiness are right. But you must not forget
others. Their sorrow and happiness also count.

Q:   Results are in the future. How can I know
what they will be?

M:  Use your mind. Remember. Observe. You are not
different from others. Most of their experiences are valid for you too. Think
clearly and deeply, go into the entire structure of your desires and their
ramifications. They are a most important part of your mental and emotional
make-up and powerfully affect your actions. Remember, you cannot abandon what
you do not know. To go beyond yourself, you must know yourself.

Q:   What does it mean to know myself? By knowing
myself what exactly do I come to know?

M:  All that you are not.

Q:   And not what I am?

M:  What you are, you already are. By knowing
what you are not, you are free of it and remain in your own natural state. It
all happens quite spontaneously and effortlessly.

Q:   And what do I discover?

M:  You discover that there is nothing to
discover. You are what you are and that is all.

Q:   I do not understand!

M:  It is your fixed idea that you must be
something or other, that blinds you.

Q:   How can I get rid of this idea?

M:  If you trust me, believe when I tell you that
you are the pure awareness that illuminates consciousness and its infinite
content. Realise this and live accordingly. If you do not believe me, then go
within, enquiring ‘What an I’? or, focus your mind on ‘I am’, which is pure and
simple being.

Q:   On what my faith in you depends?

M:  On your insight into other people’s hearts.
If you cannot look into my heart, look into your own.

Q:   I can do neither.

M:  Purify yourself by a well-ordered and useful
life. Watch over your thoughts, feelings, words and actions. This will clear
your vision.

Q:   Must I not renounce every thing first, and
live a homeless life?

M:  You cannot renounce. You may leave your home
and give trouble to your family, but attachments are in the mind and will not
leave you until you know your mind in and out. First thing first -- know
yourself, all else will come with it.

Q:   But you already told me that I am the
Supreme Reality. Is it not self-knowledge?

M:  Of course you are the Supreme Reality! But
what of it? Every grain of sand is God; to know it is important, but that is
only the beginning.

Q:   Well, you told me that I am the Supreme
Reality. I believe you. What next is there for me to do?

M:  I told you already. Discover all you are not.
Body, feelings, thoughts, ideas, time, space, being and not-being, this or that
-- nothing concrete or abstract you can point out to is you. A mere verbal
statement will not do -- you may repeat a formula endlessly without any result
whatsoever. You must watch your¬self continuously -- particularly your mind --
moment by moment, missing nothing. This witnessing is essential for the
separation of the self from the not-self.

Q:   The witnessing -- is it not my real nature?

M:  For witnessing, there must be something else
to witness. We are still in duality!

Q:   What about witnessing the witness? Awareness
of awareness?

M:  Putting words together will not take you far.
Go within and discover what you are not. Nothing else matters.

11. Awareness and Consciousness

What do you do when asleep?

I am aware of being asleep.

Q:   Is not sleep a state of unconsciousness?

M:  Yes, I am aware of being unconscious.

Q:   And when awake, or dreaming?

M:  I am aware of being awake or dreaming.

Q:   I do not catch you. What exactly do you
mean? Let me make my terms clear: by being asleep I mean unconscious, by being
awake I mean conscious, by dreaming I mean conscious of one’s mind, but not of
the surroundings.

M:  Well, it is about the same with me, Yet,
there seems to be a difference. In each state you forget the other two, while
to me, there is but one state of being, including and transcending the three
mental states of waking, dreaming and sleeping.

Q:   Do you see in the world a direction and a

M:  The world is but a reflection of my
imagination. Whatever I want to see, I can see. But why should I invent
patterns of creation, evolution and destruction? I do not need them and have no
desire to lock up the world in a mental picture.

Q:   Coming back to sleep. Do you dream?

M:  Of course.

Q:   What are your dreams?

M:  Echoes of the waking state.

Q:   And your deep sleep?

M:  The brain consciousness is suspended.

Q:   Are you then unconscious?

M:  Unconscious of my surroundings -- yes.

Q:   Not quite unconscious?

M:  I remain aware that I am unconscious.

Q:   You use the words 'aware' and 'conscious'.
Are they not the same?

M:  Awareness is primordial; it is the original
state, beginningless, endless, uncaused, unsupported, without parts, without
change. Consciousness is on contact, a reflection against a surface, a state of
duality. There can be no consciousness without awareness, but there can be
awareness without consciousness, as in deep sleep. Awareness is absolute,
consciousness is relative to its content; consciousness is always of something.
Consciousness is partial and changeful, awareness is total, changeless, calm
and silent. And it is the common matrix of every experience.

Q:   How does one go beyond consciousness into

M:  Since it is awareness that makes consciousness
possible, there is awareness in every state of consciousness. Therefore the
very consciousness of being conscious is already a movement in awareness.
Interest in your stream of consciousness takes you to awareness. It is not a
new state. It is at once recognised as the original, basic existence, which is
life itself, and also love and joy.

Q:   Since reality is all the time with us, what
does self-realisation consist of?

M:  Realisation is but the opposite of ignorance.
To take the world as real and one’s self as unreal is ignorance. The cause of
sorrow. To know the self as the only reality and all else as temporal and
transient is freedom, peace and joy. It is all very simple. Instead of seeing
things as imagined, learn to see them as they are. 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

Kindly tell us how you realised.

I met my Guru when I was 34 and realised 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?

Q:   Nothingness.

M:  Yes, the void remains. But the void is full
to the brim. It is the eternal potential as consciousness is the eternal

Q:   By potential you mean the future?

M:  Past, present and future -- they are all
there. And infinitely more.

Q:   But since the void is void, it is of little
use to us.

M:  How can you say so? Without breach in
continuity how can there be rebirth? Can there be renewal without death? Even
the darkness of sleep is refreshing and rejuvenating. Without death we would
have been bogged up for ever in eternal senility.

Q:   Is there no such thing as immortality?

M:  When life and death are seen as essential to
each other, as two aspects of one being, that is immortality. To see the end in
the beginning and beginning in the end is the intimation of eternity.
Definitely, immortality is not continuity. Only the process of change
continues. Nothing lasts.

Q:   Awareness lasts?

M:  Awareness is not of time. Time exists in
consciousness only. Beyond consciousness where are time and space?

Q:   Within the field of your consciousness there
is your body also.

M:  Of course. But the idea 'my body', as
different from other bodies, is not there. To me it is 'a body', not 'my body',
'a mind', not 'my mind'. The mind looks after the body all right, I need not
interfere. What needs be done is being done, in the normal and natural way.

You may not be quite conscious of your
physiological functions, but when it comes to thoughts and feelings, desires
and fears you become acutely self-conscious. To me these too are largely
unconscious. I find myself talking to people, or doing things quite correctly
and appropriately, without being very much conscious of them. It looks as if I
live my physical, waking life automatically, reacting spontaneously and

Q:   Does this spontaneous response come as a
result of realisation, or by training?

M:  Both. Devotion to you goal makes you live a
clean and orderly life, given to search for truth and to helping people, and
realisation makes noble virtue easy and spontaneous, by removing for good the
obstacles in the shape of desires and fears and wrong ideas.

Q:   Don’t you have desires and fears any more?

M:  My destiny was to be born a simple man, a
commoner, a humble tradesman, with little of formal education. My life was the
common kind, with common desires and fears. When, through my faith in my
teacher and obedience to his words, I realised my true being, I left behind my
human nature to look after itself, until its destiny is exhausted. Occasionally
an old reaction, emotional or mental, happens in the mind, but it is at once
noticed and discarded. After all, as long as one is bur¬dened with a person,
one is exposed to its idiosyncrasies and habits.

Q:   Are you not afraid of death?

M:  I am dead already.

Q:   In what sense?

M:  I am double dead. Not only am I dead to my
body, but to my mind too.

Q:   Well, you do not look dead at all!

M:  That’s what you say! You seem to know my
state better than I do!

Q:   Sorry. But I just do not understand. You say
you are bodyless and mindless, while I see you very much alive and articulate.

M:  A tremendously complex work is going on all
the time in your brain and body, are you conscious of it? Not at all. Yet for
an outsider all seems to be going on intelligently and purposefully. Why not
admit that one’s entire personal life may sink largely below the threshold of
consciousness and yet proceed sanely and smoothly?

Q:   Is it normal?

M:  What is normal? Is your life -- obsessed by
desires and fears, full of strife and struggle, meaningless and joyless --
normal? To be acutely conscious of your body id it normal? To be torn by
feelings, tortured by thoughts: is it normal? A healthy body, a healthy mind
live largely unperceived by their owner; only occasionally, through pain or
suffering they call for attention and insight. Why not extend the same to the
entire personal life? One can function rightly, responding well and fully to
whatever happens, without having to bring it into the focus of awareness. When
self-control becomes second nature, awareness shifts its focus to deeper levels
of existence and action.

Q:   Don’t you become a robot?

M:  What harm is there in making automatic, what
is habitual and repetitive? It is automatic anyhow. But when it is also
chaotic, it causes pain and suffering and calls for attention. The entire
purpose of a clean and well-ordered life is to liberate man from the thraldom
of chaos and the burden of sorrow.

Q:   You seem to be in favour of a computerised

M:  What is wrong with a life which is free from
problems? Personality is merely a reflection of the real. Why should not the
reflection be true to the original as a matter of course, automatically? Need
the person have any designs of its own? The life of which it is an expression
will guide it. Once you realise that the person is merely a shadow of the
reality, but not reality itself, you cease to fret and worry. You agree to be
guided from within and life becomes a journey into the unknown.

13. The Supreme, the Mind and the Body

From what you told us it appears that you are not quite conscious of your
surroundings. To us you seem extremely alert and active. We cannot possibly
believe that you are in a kind of hypnotic state, which leaves no memory
behind. On the contrary, your memory seems excellent. How are we to understand
your statement that the world and all it includes does not exist, as far as you
are concerned.

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 itself -- that I know. What else do I need
to know?

Q:   So a jnani
knows what he is doing only when he turns his mind to it; otherwise he just
acts, without being concerned.

M:  The average man is not conscious of his body
as such. He is conscious of his sensations, feelings and thoughts. Even these,
once detachment sets in, move away from the centre of consciousness and happen
spontaneously and effortlessly.

Q:   What then is in the centre of consciousness?

M:  That which cannot be given name and form, for
it is without quality and beyond consciousness. You may say it is a point in
consciousness, which is beyond consciousness. Like a hole in the paper is both
in the paper and yet not of paper, so is the supreme state in the very centre
of consciousness, and yet beyond consciousness. It is as if an opening in the
mind through which the mind is flooded with light. The opening is not even the
light. It is just an opening.

Q:   An opening is just void, absence.

M:  Quite so. From the mind's point of view, it
is but an opening for the light of awareness to enter the mental space. By
itself the light can only be compared to a solid, dense, rocklike, homogeneous
and changeless mass of pure awareness, free from the mental patterns of name
and shape.

Q:   Is there any connection between the mental
space and the supreme abode?

M:  The supreme gives existence to the mind. The
mind gives existence to the body.

Q:   And what lies beyond?

M:  Take an example. A venerable Yogi, a master
in the art of longevity, himself over 1000 years old, comes to teach me his
art. I fully respect and sincerely admire his achievements, yet all I can tell
him is: of what use is longevity to me? I am beyond time. However long a life
may be, it is but a moment and a dream. In the same way I am beyond all
attributes. They appear and disappear in my light, but cannot describe me. The
universe is all names and forms, based on qualities and their differences,
while I am beyond. The world is there because I am, but I am not the world.

Q:   But you are living in the world!

M:  That's what you say! I know there is a world,
which includes this body and this mind, but I do not consider them to be more
“mine” than other minds and bodies. They are there, in time and space, but I am
timeless and spaceless.

Q:   But since all exists by your light, are you
not the creator of the world?

M:  I am neither the potentiality nor the
actualisation, nor the actuality of things. In my light they come and go as the
specks of dust dancing in the sunbeam. The light illumines the specks, but does
not depend on them. Nor can it be said to create them. It cannot be even said
to know them.

Q:   I am asking you a question and you are
answering. Are you conscious of the question and the answer?

M:  In reality I am neither hearing nor
answering. In the world of events the question happens and the answer happens.
Nothing happens to me. Everything just happens.

Q:   And you are the witness?

M:  What does witness mean? Mere knowledge. It
rained and now the rain is over. I did not get wet. I know it rained, but I am
not affected. I just witnessed the rain.

Q:   The fully realised man, spontaneously
abiding in the supreme state, appears to eat, drink and so on. Is he aware of
it, or not?

M:  That in which consciousness happens, the
universal consciousness or mind, we call the ether of consciousness. All the
objects of consciousness form the universe. What is beyond both, supporting
both, is the supreme state, a state of utter stillness and silence. Whoever
goes there, disappears. It is unreachable by words, or mind. You may call it
God, or Parabrahman, or Supreme
Reality, but these are names given by the mind. It is the nameless,
contentless, effortless and spontaneous state, beyond being and not being.

Q:   But does one remain conscious?

M:  As the universe is the body of the mind, so
is consciousness the body of the supreme. It is not conscious, but it gives
rise to consciousness.

Q:   In my daily actions much goes by habit,
automatically. I am aware of the general purpose, but not of each movement in
detail. As my consciousness broadens and deepens, details tend to recede,
leaving me free for the general trends. Does not the same happens to a jnani, but more so?

M:  On the level of
consciousness -- yes. In the supreme state, no. This state is entirely one and
indivisible, a single solid block of reality. The only way of knowing it is to
be it. The mind cannot reach it. To perceive it does not need the senses; to
know it, does not need the mind.

Q:   That is how God runs the world.

M:  God is not running the world.

Q:   Then who is doing it?

M:  Nobody. All happens by itself. You are asking
the question and you are supplying the answer. And you know the answer when you
ask the question. All is a play in consciousness. All divisions are illusory.
You can know the false only. The true you must yourself be.

Q:   There is the witnessed
consciousness and there is the witnessing consciousness. Is the second the

M:  There are the two -- the person and the
witness, the observer. When you see them as one, and go beyond, you are in the
supreme state. It is not perceivable, because it is what makes perception
possible. It is beyond being and not being. It is neither the mirror nor the
image in the mirror. It is what is -- the timeless reality, unbelievably hard
and solid.

Q:   The jnani
-- is he the witness or the Supreme?

M:  He is the Supreme, of course, but he can also
be viewed as the universal witness.

Q:   But he remains a person?

M:  When you believe yourself to be a person, you
see persons everywhere. In reality there are no persons, only threads of
memories and habits. At the moment of realisation the person ceases. Identity
remains, but identity is not a person, it is inherent in the reality itself.
The person has no being in itself; it is a reflection in the mind of the
witness, the 'I am', which again is a mode of being.

Q:   Is the Supreme conscious?

M:  Neither conscious nor unconscious, I am
telling you from experience.

Q:   Pragnanam
. What is this Pragna?

M:  It is the un-selfconscious
knowledge of life itself.

Q:   Is it vitality, the energy of life,

M:  Energy comes first. For everything is a form
of energy. Consciousness is most differentiated in the waking state. Less so in
dream. Still less in sleep. Homogeneous -- in the fourth state. Beyond is the
inexpressible monolithic reality, the abode of the jnani.

Q:   I have cut my hand. It healed.
By what power did it heal?

M:  By the power of life.

Q:   What is that power?

M:  It is consciousness. AII is conscious.

Q:   What is the source of consciousness?

M:  Consciousness itself is the source of

Q:   Can there be life without consciousness?

M:  No, nor consciousness without life. They are
both one. But in reality only the Ultimate is. The rest is a matter of name and
form. And as long as you cling to the idea that only what has name and shape
exists, the Supreme will appear to you non¬existing. When you understand that
names and shapes are hollow shells without any content whatsoever, and what is
real is nameless and formless, pure energy of life and light of consciousness,
you will be at peace -- immersed in the deep silence of reality.

Q:   If time and space are mere illusions and you
are beyond, please tell me what is the weather in New York. Is it hot or
raining there?

M:  How can I tell you? Such things need special
training. Or, just travelling to New York. I may be quite certain that I am
beyond time and space, and yet unable to locate myself at will at some point of
time and space. I am not interested enough; I see no purpose in undergoing a
special Yogic training. I have just heard of New York. To me it is a word. Why
should I know more than the word conveys? Every atom may be a universe, as
complex as ours. Must I know them all? I can -- if I train.

Q:   In putting the question about the weather in
New York, where did I make the mistake?

M:  The world and the mind are states of being.
The supreme is not a state. It pervades, all states, but it is not a state of
something else. It is entirely uncaused, independent, complete in itself,
beyond time and space, mind and matter.

Q:   By what sign do you recognise it?

M:  That's the point that it leaves no traces.
There is nothing to recognise it by. It must be seen directly, by giving up all
search for signs and approaches. When all names and forms have been given up,
the real is with you. You need not seek it. Plurality and diversity are the
play of the mind only. Reality is one.

Q:   If reality leaves no evidence, there is no
speaking about it.

M:  It is.
It cannot be denied. It is deep and dark, mystery beyond mystery. But it is, while all else merely happens.

Q:   Is it the Unknown?

M:  It is beyond both, the known and the unknown.
But I would rather call it the known, than the unknown. For whenever something
is known, it is the real that is known.

Q:   Is silence an attribute of the real?

M:  This too is of the mind. All states and
conditions are of the mind.

Q:   What is the place of samadhi?

M:  Not making use of one's
consciousness is samadhi. You just
leave your mind alone. You want nothing, neither-from your body nor from your

14. Appearances and the Reality

Repeatedly you have been saying that events are causeless, a thing just happens
and no cause can be assigned to it. Surely everything has a cause, or several
causes. How am I to understand the causelessness of things?

From the highest point of view the world has no cause.

Q:   But what is your own experience?

M:  Everything is uncaused. The world has no

Q:   I am not enquiring about the causes that led
to the creation of the world. Who has seen the creation of the world? It may
even be without a beginning, always existing. But I am not talking of the
world. I take the world to exist -- somehow. It contains so many things. Surely,
each must have a cause, or several causes.

M:  Once you create for yourself a world in time
and space, governed by causality, you are bound to search for and find causes
for everything. You put the question and impose an answer.

Q:   My question is very simple: I see all kinds
of things and I understand that each must have a cause, or a number of causes.
You say they are uncaused -- from your point of view. But, to you nothing has
being and, therefore, the question of causation does not arise. Yet you seem to
admit the existence of things, but deny them causation. This is what I cannot
grasp. Once you accept the existence of things, why reject their causes?

M:  I see only consciousness, and know everything
to be but consciousness, as you know the picture on the cinema screen to be but

Q:   Still, the movements of light have a cause.

M:  The light does not move at all. You know very
well that the movement is illusory, a sequence of interceptions and colour¬ings
in the film. What moves is the film -- which is the mind.

Q:   This does not make the picture causeless.
The film is there, and the actors with the technicians, the director, the
producer, the various manufacturers. The world is governed by causality.
Everything is inter-linked.

M:  Of course, everything is inter-linked. And
therefore everything has numberless causes. The entire universe contributes to
the least thing. A thing is as it is, because the world is as it is. You see,
you deal in gold ornaments and I -- in gold. Between the different ornaments
there is no causal relation. When you re-melt an ornament to make another,
there is no causal relation between the two. The common factor is the gold. But
you cannot say gold is the cause. It cannot be called a cause, for it causes
nothing by itself. It is reflected in the mind as 'I am', as the ornament's
particular name and shape. Yet all is only gold. In the same way reality makes
everything possible and yet nothing that makes a thing what it is, its name and
form, comes from reality.

But why worry so much about causation?
What do causes matter, when things themselves are transient? Let come what
comes and let go what goes -- why catch hold of things and enquire about their

Q:   From the relative point of view, everything
must have a cause.

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 help. 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 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

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 personalise 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.

Q:   Every morning I pick up the newspaper and
read with dismay 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

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

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-centred. 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 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 no where. 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.

15. The Jnani

Questioner: Without God's power nothing can be done. Even you would
not be sitting here and talking to us without Him.

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

M:  I 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?

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

Q:   Who is the jnani? The witness or the supreme?

M:  The jnani
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 both and is beyond both.

Q:   Life is so intelligent. How can it be

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.

21. Who am I?

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 brain­centred consciousness.

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 a 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?

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 else can I be?

M:  Find out. Even if I tell you that you are the
witness, the silent watcher, it will mean nothing to you, unless you find the
way to your own being.

Q:   My question is: How to find the way to one's
own being?

M:  Give up all questions except one: 'Who am l'?
After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The 'I am' is
certain. The 'I am this' is not. Struggle to find out what you are in reality.

Q:   I am doing nothing else for the last 60

M:  What is wrong with striving? Why look for
results? Striving itself is your real nature.

Q:   Striving is painful.

M:  You make it so by seeking results. Strive
without seeking, struggle without greed.

Q:   Why has God made me as I am?

M:  Which God are you talking about? What is God?
Is he not the very light by which you ask the question? 'I am' itself is God.
The seeking itself is God. In seeking you discover that you are neither the
body nor mind, and the love of the self in you is for the self in all. The two
are one. The consciousness in you and the consciousness in me, apparently two,
really one, seek unity and that is love.

Q:   How am I to find that love?

M:  What do you love now? The 'I am'. Give your
heart and mind to it, think of nothing else. This, when effortless and natural,
is the highest state. In it love itself is the lover and the beloved.

Q:   Everybody wants to live, to exist. Is it not

M:  All desire has its source in the self. It is
all a matter of choosing the right desire.

Q:   What is right and what is wrong varies with
habit and custom. Standards vary with societies.

M:  Discard all traditional standards. Leave them
to the hypocrites. Only what liberates you from desire and fear and wrong ideas
is good. As long as you worry about sin and virtue you will have no peace.

Q:   I grant that sin and virtue are social
norms. But there may be also spiritual sins and virtues. I mean by spiritual
the absolute. Is there such a thing as absolute sin or absolute virtue?

M:  Sin and virtue refer to a person only.
Without a sinful or virtuous person what is sin or virtue? At the level of the
absolute there are no persons; the ocean of pure awareness is neither virtuous
nor sinful. Sin and virtue are invariably relative.

Q:   Can I do away with such unnecessary notions?

M:  Not as long as you think yourself to be a

Q:   By what sign shall l know that I am beyond
sin and virtue?

M:  By being free from all desire and fear, from
the very idea of being a person. To nourish the ideas: 'I am a sinner' 'I am
not a sinner', is sin. To identify oneself with the particular is all the sin
there is. The impersonal is real, the personal appears and disappears. 'I am'
is the impersonal Being. 'I am this' is the person. The person is relative and
the pure Being -- fundamental.

Q:   Surely pure Being is not unconscious, nor is
it devoid of discrimination. How can it be beyond sin and virtue? Just tell us,
please, has it intelligence or not?

M:  All these questions arise from your believing
yourself to be a person. Go beyond the personal and see.

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:   To think oneself as the personal is the sin
of the impersonal.

M:  Again the personal point of view! Why do you
insist on polluting the impersonal with your ideas of sin and virtue? It just
does not apply. The impersonal cannot be described in terms of good and bad. It
is Being -- Wisdom -- Love -- all absolute. Where is the scope for sin there? And
virtue is only the opposite of sin.

Q:   We talk of divine virtue.

M:  True virtue is divine nature (swarupa).
What you are really is your virtue. But the opposite of sin which you call
virtue is only obedience born out of fear.

Q:   Then why all effort at being good?

M:  It keeps you on the move. You go on and on
till you find God. Then God takes you into Himself -- and makes you as He is.

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.

Q:   Knowledge depends on memory.

M:  Remembering your self is virtue,
forgetting your self is sin. It all boils down to the mental or psychological
link between the spirit and matter. We may call the link psyche (antahkarana).
When the psyche is raw, undeveloped, quite primitive, it is subject to gross
illusions. As it grows in breadth and sensitivity, it becomes a perfect link
between pure matter and pure spirit and gives meaning to matter and expression
to spirit.

There is the material world (mahadakash)
and the spiritual (paramakash). Between lies the universal mind (chidakash)
which is also the universal heart (premakash). It is wise love that
makes the two one.

Q:   Some people are stupid,
some are intelligent. The difference is in their psyche. The ripe ones had more
experience behind them. Just like a child grows by eating and drinking,
sleeping and playing, so is man's psyche shaped by all he thinks and feels and
does, until it is perfect enough to serve as a bridge between the spirit and
the body. As a bridge permits the traffic; between the banks, so does the
psyche bring together the source and its expression.

M:  Call it love. The bridge is love.

Q:   Ultimately all is experience. Whatever we
think, feel, do is experience. Behind it is the experiencer. So all we know
consists of these two, the experiencer and the experience. But the two are
really one -- the experiencer alone is the experience. Still, the experiencer
takes the experience to be outside. In the same way the spirit and the body are
one; they only appear as two.

M:  To the Spirit there is no second.

Q:   To whom then does the second appear? It
seems to me that duality is an illusion induced by the imperfection of the
psyche. When the psyche is perfect, duality is no longer seen.

M:  You have said it.

Q:   Still I have to repeat my very simple
question: who makes the distinction between sin and virtue?

M:  He who has a body, sins with the body, he who
has a mind, sins with the mind.

Q:   Surely, the mere possession of mind and body
does not compel to sin. There must be a third factor at the root of it. I come
back again and again to this question of sin and virtue, because now-a-days
young people keep on saying that there is no such thing as sin, that one need
not be squermish and should follow the moment's desire readily. They will
accept neither tradition nor authority and can be influenced only by solid and
honest thought. If they refrain from certain actions, it is through fear of
police rather than by conviction. Undoubtedly there is something in what they
say, for we can see how our values change from place to place and time to time.
For instance -- killing in war is great virtue today and may be considered a
horrible crime next century.

M:  A man who moves with the earth will
necessarily experience days and nights. He who stays with the sun will know no
darkness. My world is not yours. As I see it, you all are on a stage
performing. There is no reality about your comings and goings. And your
problems are so unreal!

Q:   We may be sleep-walkers, or subject to
nightmares. Is there nothing you can do?

M:  I am doing: I did enter your dreamlike state
to tell you -- "Stop hurting yourself and others, stop suffering, wake

Q:   Why then don't we wake up?

M:  You will. I shall not be thwarted. It may
take some time. When you shall begin to question your dream, awakening will be
not far away.

25. Hold on to ‘I am’

Are you ever glad or sad? Do you know joy and sorrow?

Call them as you please. To me they are states of mind only, and I am not the

Q:   Is love a state of mind?

M:  Again, it depends what you mean by love.
Desire is, of course, a state of mind. But the realisation of unity is beyond
mind. To me, nothing exists by itself. All is the Self, all is myself. To see
myself in everybody and everybody in myself most certainly is love.

Q:   When I see something pleasant, I want it.
Who exactly wants it? The self or the mind?

M:  The question is wrongly put. There is no
'who'. There is desire, fear, anger, and the mind says -- this is me, this is
mine. 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?

Q:   But is there such a thing as perceiving
without naming?

M:  Of course. Naming cannot go beyond the mind,
while perceiving is consciousness itself.

Q:   When somebody dies what exactly happens?

M:  Nothing happens. Something becomes nothing.
Nothing was, nothing remains.

Q:   Surely there is a difference between the
living and the dead. You speak of the living as dead and of the dead as living.

M:  Why do you fret at one man dying and care
little for the millions dying every day? Entire universes are imploding and
exploding every moment -- am I to cry over them? One thing is quite clear to me:
all that is, lives and moves and has its being in consciousness and I am in and
beyond that consciousness. I am in it as the witness. I am beyond it as Being.

Q:   Surely, you care when your child is ill,
don't you?

M:  I don't get flustered. I just do the needful.
I do not worry about the future. A right response to every situation is in my
nature. I do not stop to think what to do. I act and move on. Results do not
affect me. I do not even care, whether they are good or bad. Whatever they are,
they are -- if they come back to me, I deal with them afresh. Or, rather, I
happen to deal with them afresh. There is no sense of purpose in my doing
anything. Things happens as they happen -- not because I make them happen, but
it is because I am that they happen. In reality nothing ever happens.
When the mind is restless, it makes Shiva dance, like the restless
waters of the lake make the moon dance. It is all appearance, due to wrong

Q:   Surely, you are aware of many things and
behave according to their nature. You treat a child as a child and an adult as
an adult.

M:  Just as the taste of salt pervades the great
ocean and every single drop of sea-water carries the same flavour, so every
experience gives me the touch of reality, the ever fresh realisation of my own

Q:   Do I exist in your world, as you exist in

M:  Of course, you are and I am. But only as
points in consciousness; we are nothing apart from consciousness. This must be
well grasped: the world hangs on the thread of consciousness; no consciousness,
no world.

Q:   There are many points in consciousness; are
there as many worlds?

M:  Take dream for an example. In a hospital
there may be many patients, all sleeping, all dreaming, each dreaming his own
private, personal dreams unrelated, unaffected, having one single factor in
common -- illness. Similarly, we have divorced ourselves in our imagination from
the real world of common experience and enclosed ourselves in a cloud of
personal desire and fears, images and thoughts, ideas and concepts.

Q:   This I can understand. But what could be the
cause of the tremendous variety of the personal worlds?

M:  The variety is not so great. All the dreams
are superimposed over a common world. To some extent they shape and influence
each other. The basic unity operates in spite of all. At the root of it all
lies self-forgetfulness; not knowing who I am.

Q:   To forget, one must know. Did I know who I
am, before I forgot it?

M:  Of course. Self-forgetting is inherent in
self-knowing. Consciousness 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 realisation there is nothing to hold on to and nothing to forget. Everything
is known, nothing is remembered.

Q:   What is the cause of self-forgetting?

M:  There is no cause, because there is no
forgetting. Mental states succeed one another, and each obliterates the
previous one. Self-remembering is a mental state and self-forgetting is
another. They alternate like day and night. Reality is beyond both.

Q:   Surely there must be a difference between
forgetting and not knowing. Not knowing needs no cause. Forgetting presupposes
previous knowledge and also the tendency or ability to forget. I admit I cannot
enquire into the reason for not-knowing, but forgetting must have some ground.

M:  There is no such thing as not-knowing. There
is only forgetting. What is wrong with forgetting? It is as simple to forget as
to remember.

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, thought­bound, 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.

Q:   You say at the root of the world is
self-forgetfulness. To forget I must remember What did I forget to remember? I
have not forgotten that I am.

M:  This 'I am' too may be a part of the

How can it be? You cannot prove to me that I am not. Even when convinced that I
am not -- I am.

M:  Reality can neither be proved nor disproved.
Within the mind you cannot, beyond the mind you need not. In the real, the
question 'what is real?' does not arise. The manifested (saguna) and
unmanifested (nirguna) are not different.

Q:   In that case all is real.

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

Q:   I do not feel that the world is the result
of a mistake.

M:  You may say so only after a full
investigation, not before. Of course, when you discern and let go all that is
unreal, what remains is real.

Q:   Does anything remain?

M:  The real remains. But don't be mislead by

Q:   Since immemorial time, during innumerable
births, I build and improve and beautify my world. It is neither perfect, nor
unreal. It is a process.

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

Q:   And build it again, improved.

M:  To improve it, you must disprove it. One must
die to live. There is no rebirth, except through death.

Q:   Your universe may be perfect. My personal
universe is improving.

M:  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.

Q:   How do you view it?

M:  It is a stage on which a world drama is being
played. The quality of the performance is all that matters; not what the actors
say and do, but how they say and do it.

Q:   I do not like this lila (play) idea I
would rather compare the world to a work-yard in which we are the builders.

M:  You take it too seriously. What is wrong with
play? You have a purpose only as long as you are not complete (purna);
till then completeness, perfection, is the purpose. But when you are complete
in yourself, fully integrated within and without, then you enjoy the universe;
you do not labour at it. To the disintegrated you may seem working hard, but
that is their illusion. Sportsmen seem to make tremendous efforts: yet their
sole motive is to play and display.

Q:   Do you mean to say that God is just having
fun, that he is engaged in purposeless action?

M:  God is not only true and good, he is also
beautiful (satyam-shivam-sundaram). He creates beauty -- for the joy of

Q:   Well, then beauty is his purpose!

M:  Why do you introduce purpose? Purpose implies
movement, change, a sense of imperfection. 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.

Q:   The purpose fulfils itself in beauty.

M:  What is beautiful? Whatever is perceived
blissfully is beautiful. Bliss is the essence of beauty.

Q:   You speak of Sat-Chit-Ananda. That I
am is obvious. That I know is obvious. That I am happy is not at all obvious.
Where has my happiness gone?

M:  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.

Q:   There are two paths before us -- the path of
effort (yoga marga), and the path of ease (bhoga marga). Both
lead to the same goal -- liberation.

M:  Why do you call bhoga a path? How can ease
bring you perfection?

Q:   The perfect renouncer (yogi) will
find reality. The perfect enjoyer (bhogi) also will come to it.

M:  How can it be? Aren't they

Q:   The extremes meet. To be a perfect Bhogi
is more difficult than to be a perfect Yogi. I am a humble man and
cannot venture judgements of value. Both the Yogi and the Bhogi,
after all, are concerned with the search for happiness. The Yogi wants
it permanent, the Bhogi is satisfied with the intermittent. Often the Bhogi
strives harder than the Yogi.

M:  What is your happiness worth when you have to
strive and labour for it? True happiness is spontaneous and effortless.

Q:   All beings seek happiness. The means only
differ. Some seek it within and are therefore called Yogis; some seek it
without and are condemned as Bhogis. Yet they need each other.

M:  Pleasure and pain alternate. Happiness is
unshakable. What you can seek and find is not the real thing. Find what you
have never lost, find the inalienable.

~by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - book: I Am That: Dialogues of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

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