Questioner: There are so many theories about the nature of man and universe. The creation theory, the illusion theory, the dream theory -- any number of them. Which is true?
Maharaj: All are true, all are false. You can pick up whichever you like best.
Q: You seem to favour the dream theory.
M: These are all ways of putting words together. Some favour one way, some favour another. Theories are neither right nor wrong. They are attempts at explaining the inexplicable. It is not the theory that matters, but the way it is being tested. It is the testing of the theory that makes it fruitful. Experiment with any theory you like -- if you are truly earnest and honest, the attainment of reality will be yours. As a living being you are caught in an untenable and painful situation and you are seeking a way out. You are being offered several plans of your prison, none quite true. But they all are of some value, only if you are in dead earnest. It is the earnestness that liberates and not the theory.
Q: Theory may be misleading and earnestness -- blind.
M: Your sincerity will guide you. Devotion to the goal of freedom and perfection will make you abandon all theories and systems and live by wisdom, intelligence and active love. Theories may be good as starting points, but must be abandoned, the sooner -- the better.
Q: There is a Yogi who says that for realisation the eightfold Yoga is not necessary; that will-power alone will do. It is enough to concentrate on the goal with full confidence in the power of pure will to obtain effortlessly and quickly what others take decades to achieve.
M: Concentration, full confidence, pure will! With such assets no wonder one attains in no time.
This Yoga of will is all right for the mature seeker, who has shed all desires but one. After all, what is will but steadiness of heart and mind. Given such steadfastness all can be achieved.
Q: I feel the Yogi did not mean mere steadiness of purpose, resulting in ceaseless pursuit and application. He meant that with will fixed on the goal no pursuit or application are needed. The mere fact of willing attracts its object.
M: Whatever name you give it: will, or steady purpose, or one-pointedness of the mind, you come back to earnestness, sincerity, honesty. When you are in dead earnest, you bend every incident, every second of your life to your purpose. You do not waste time and energy on other things. You are totally dedicated, call it will, or love, or plain honesty. We are complex beings, at war within and without. We contradict ourselves all the time, undoing today the work of yesterday. No wonder we are stuck. A little of integrity would make a lot of difference.
Q: What is more powerful, desire or destiny?
M: Desire shapes destiny.
Q: And destiny shapes desire. My desires are conditioned by heredity and circumstances, by opportunities and accidents, by what we call destiny.
M: Yes, you may say so.
Q: At what point am I free to desire what I want to desire?
M: You are free now. What is it that you want to desire? Desire it.
Q: Of course I am free to desire, but I am not free to act on my desire. Other urges will lead me astray. My desire is not strong enough, even if it has my approval. Other desires, which I disapprove of are stronger.
M: Maybe you are deceiving yourself. Maybe you are giving expression to your real desires and the ones you approve of are kept on the surface for the sake of respectability.
Q: It may be as you say, but this is another theory. The fact is that I do not feel free to desire what I think I should, and when I seem to desire rightly, I do not act accordingly.
M: It is all due to weakness of the mind and disintegration of the brain. Collect and strengthen your mind and you will find that your thoughts and feelings, words and actions will align themselves in the direction of your will.
Q: Again a counsel of perfection! To integrate and strengthen the mind is not an easy task! How does one begin?
M: You can start only from where you are. You are here and now, you cannot get out of here and now.
Q: But what can I do here and now?
M: You can be aware of your being -- here and now.
Q: That is all?
M: That is all. There is nothing more to it.
Q: All my waking and dreaming I am conscious of myself. It does not help me much.
M: You were aware of thinking, feeling, doing. You were not aware of your being.
Q: What is the new factor you want me to bring in?
M: The attitude of pure witnessing, of watching the events without taking part in them.
Q: What will it do to me?
M: Weak-mindedness is due to lack of intelligence, of understanding, which again is the result of non-awareness. By striving for awareness you bring your mind together and strengthen it.
Q: I may be fully aware of what is going on, and yet quite unable to influence it in any way.
M: You are mistaken. What is going on is a projection of your mind. A weak mind cannot control its own projections. Be aware, therefore, of your mind and its projections. You cannot control what you do not know. On the other hand, knowledge gives power. In practice it is very simple. To control yourself -- know yourself.
Q: Maybe, I can come to control myself, but shall I be able to deal with the chaos in the world?
M: There is no chaos in the world, except the chaos which your mind creates. It is self-created in the sense that at its very centre is the false idea of oneself as a thing different and separate from other things. In reality you are not a thing, nor separate. You are the infinite potentiality; the inexhaustible possibility. Because you are, all can be. The universe is but a partial manifestation of your limitless capacity to become.
Q: I find that I am totally motivated by desire for pleasure and fear of pain. However noble my desire and justified my fear, pleasure and pain are the two poles between which my life oscillates.
M: Go to the source of both pain and pleasure, of desire and fear. Observe, investigate, try to understand.
Q: Desire and fear both are feelings caused by physical or mental factors. They are there, easily observable. But why are they there? Why do l desire pleasure and fear pain?
M: Pleasure and pain are states of mind. As long as you think you are the mind, or rather, the body-mind, you are bound to raise such questions.
Q: And when I realise that I am not the body, shall I be free from desire and fear?
M: As long as there is a body and a mind to protect the body, attractions and repulsions will operate. They will be there, out in the field of events, but will not concern you. The focus of your attention will be elsewhere. You will not be distracted.
Q: Still they will be there. Will one never be completely free?
M: You are completely free even now. What you call destiny (karma) is but the result of your own will to live. How strong is this will you can judge by the universal horror of death.
Q: People die willingly quite often.
M: Only when the alternative is worse than death. But such readiness to die flows from the same source as the will to live, a source deeper even than life itself. To be a living being is not the ultimate state; there is something beyond, much more wonderful, which is neither being nor nonbeing, neither living nor not-living. It is a state of pure awareness, beyond the limitations of space and time. Once the illusion that the body-mind is oneself is abandoned, death loses its terror, it becomes a part of living.