28. All Suffering is Born of Desire

Questioner: I come from a far off country. I had some inner experiences on my own and I would like to compare notes. Maharaj: By all means. Do you know yourself?

Q: I know that I am not the body. Nor am I the mind.

M: What makes you say so?

Q: I do not feel I am in the body. I seem to be all over the place everywhere. As to the mind, I can switch it on and off, so to say. This makes me feel I am not the mind.

M: When you feel yourself everywhere in the world, do you remain separate from the world? Or, are you the world?

Q: Both. Sometimes I feel myself to be neither mind nor body, but one single all-seeing eye. When I go deeper into it, I find myself to be all I see and the world and myself become one.

M: Very well. What about desires? Do you have any?

Q: Yes, they come, short and superficial.

M: And what do you do about them?

Q: What can I do? They come, they go. l look at them. Sometimes I see my body and my mind engaged in fulfilling them.

M: Whose desires are being fulfilled?

Q: They are a part of the world in which I live. They are just as trees and clouds are there.

M: Are they not a sign of some imperfection?

Q: Why should they be? They are as they are, and I am as I am. How can the appearance and disappearance of desires affect me? Of course, they affect the shape and content of the mind.

M: Very well. What is your work?

Q: I am a probation officer.

M: What does it mean?

Q: Juvenile offenders are let off on probation and there are special officers to watch their behaviour and to help them get training and find work.

M: Must you work?

Q: Who works? Work happens to take place.

M: Do you need to work?

Q: I need it for the sake of money. I like it, because it puts me in touch with living beings.

M: What do you need them for?

Q: They may need me and it is their destinies that made me take up this work. It is one life, after all.

M: How did you come to your present state?

Q: Sri Ramana Maharshi's teachings have put me on my way. Then I met one Douglas Harding who helped me by showing me how to work on the 'Who am I ?'

M: Was it sudden or gradual?

Q: It was quite sudden. Like something quite forgotten, coming back into one's mind. Or, like a sudden flash of understanding. 'How simple', I said, 'How simple; I'm not what I thought I am! I'm neither the perceived nor the perceiver; I'm the perceiving only'.

M: Not even the perceiving, but that which makes all this possible.

Q: What is love?

M: When the sense of distinction and separation is absent, you may call it love.

Q: Why so much stress on love between man and woman?

M: Because the element of happiness in it is so prominent.

Q: Is it not so in all love?

M: Not necessarily. Love may cause pain. You call it then compassion.

Q: What is happiness?

M: Harmony between the inner and the outer is happiness. On the other hand, self-identification with the outer causes is suffering.

Q. How does self-identification happen?

M: The self by its nature knows itself only. For lack of experience whatever it perceives it takes to be itself. Battered, it learns to look out (viveka) and to live alone (vairagya). When right behaviour (uparati), becomes normal, a powerful inner urge (mukmukshutva) makes it seek its source. The candle of the body is lighted and all becomes clear and bright.

Q: What is the real cause of suffering?

M: Self-identification with the limited (vyaktitva). Sensations as such, however strong, do not cause suffering. It is the mind bewildered by wrong ideas, addicted to thinking: 'I am this' 'I am that', that fears loss and craves gain and suffers when frustrated.

Q: A friend of mine used to have horrible dreams night after night. Going to sleep would terrorise him. Nothing could help him.

M: Company of the truly good (satsang) would help him.

Q: Life itself is a nightmare.

M: Noble friendship (satsang) is the supreme remedy for all ills, physical and mental.

Q: Generally one cannot find such friendship.

M: Seek within. Your own self is your best friend.

Q: Why is life so full of contradictions?

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

Q: Why so much stress on self-negation?

M: As much as on self-realisation. The false self must be abandoned before the real self can be found.

Q: The self you choose to call false is to me most distressingly real. It is the only self I know. What you call the real self is a mere concept, a way of speaking, a creature of the mind, an attractive ghost. My daily self is not a beauty, I admit, but it is my own and only self. You say I am, or have, another self. Do you see it -- is it a reality to you, or do you want me to believe what you yourself don't see?

M: Don't jump to conclusions rashly. The concrete need not be the real, the conceived need not be false. Perceptions based on sensations and shaped by memory imply a perceiver, whose nature you never cared to examine. Give it your full attention, examine it with loving care and you will discover heights and depths of being which you did not dream of, engrossed as you are in your puny image of yourself.

Q: I must be in the right mood to examine myself fruitfully.

M: You must be serious, intent, truly interested. You must be full of goodwill for yourself.

Q: I am selfish all right.

M. You are not. You are all the time destroying yourself, and your own, by serving strange gods, inimical and false. By all means be selfish -- the right way. Wish yourself well, labour at what is good for you. Destroy all that stands between you and happiness. Be all -- love all -- be happy -make happy. No happiness is greater.

Q: Why is there so much suffering in love?

M: All suffering is born of desire. True love is never frustrated. How can the sense of unity be frustrated? What can be frustrated is the desire for expression. Such desire is of the mind. As with all things mental, frustration is inevitable.

Q: What is the place of sex in love?

M: Love is a state of being. Sex is energy. Love is wise, sex is blind. Once the true nature of love and sex is understood there will be no conflict or confusion.

Q: There is so much sex without love.

M: Without love all is evil. Life itself without love is evil.

Q: What can make me love?

M: You are love itself -- when you are not afraid.