Questioner: I am a Swede by birth. Now I am teaching Hatha Yoga in Mexico and in the States. Maharaj: Where did you learn it?
Q: I had a teacher in the States, an Indian Swami.
M: What did it give you?
Q: It gave me good health and a means of livelihood.
M: Good enough. Is it all you want?
Q: I seek peace of mind. I got disgusted with all the cruel things done by the so-called Christians in the name of Christ. For some time I was without religion. Then I got attracted to Yoga.
M: What did you gain?
Q: I studied the philosophy of Yoga and it did help me.
M: In what way did it help you? By what signs did you conclude that you have been helped?
Q: Good health is something quite tangible.
M: No doubt it is very pleasant to feel fit. Is pleasure all you expected from Yoga?
Q: The joy of well-being is the reward of Hatha Yoga. But Yoga in general yields more than that. It answers many questions.
M: What do you mean by Yoga?
Q: The whole teaching of India -- evolution, re-incarnation, karma and so on.
M: All right, you got all the knowledge you wanted. But in what way are you benefited by it?
Q: It gave me peace of mind.
M: Did it? Is your mind at peace? Is your search over?
Q: No, not yet.
M: Naturally. There will be no end to it, because there is no such thing as peace of mind. Mind means disturbance; restlessness itself is mind. Yoga is not an attribute of the mind, nor is it a state of mind.
Q: Some measure of peace I did derive from Yoga.
M: Examine closely and you will see that the mind is seething with thoughts. It may go blank occasionally, but it does it for a time and reverts to its usual restlessness. A becalmed mind is not a peaceful mind. You say you want to pacify your mind. Is he, who wants to pacify the mind, himself peaceful?
Q: No. I am not at peace, I take the help of Yoga.
M: Don't you see the contradiction? For many years you sought your peace of mind. You could not find it, for a thing essentially restless cannot be at peace.
Q: There is some improvement.
M: The peace you claim to have found is very brittle any little thing can crack it. What you call peace is only absence of disturbance. It is hardly worth the name. The real peace cannot be disturbed. Can you claim a peace of mind that is unassailable?
Q: l am striving.
M: Striving too is a form of restlessness.
Q: So what remains?
M: The self does not need to be put to rest. It is peace itself, not at peace. Only the mind is restless. All it knows is restlessness, with its many modes and grades. The pleasant are considered superior and the painful are discounted. What we call progress is merely a change over from the unpleasant to the pleasant. But changes by themselves cannot bring us to the changeless, for whatever has a beginning must have an end. The real does not begin; it only reveals itself as beginningless and endless, all-pervading, all-powerful, immovable prime mover, timelessly changeless.
Q: So what has one to do?
M: Through Yoga you have accumulated knowledge and experience. This cannot be denied. But of what use is it all to you? Yoga means union, joining. What have you re-united, re-joined?
Q: I am trying to rejoin the personality back to the real self.
M: The personality (vyakti) is but a product of imagination. The self (vyakta) is the victim of this imagination. It is the taking yourself to be what you are not that binds you. The person cannot be said to exist on its own rights; it is the self that believes there is a person and is conscious of being it. Beyond the self (vyakta) lies the unmanifested (avyakta), the causeless cause of everything.
Even to talk of re-uniting the person with the self is not right, because there is no person, only a mental picture given a false reality by conviction. Nothing was divided and there is nothing to unite.
Q: Yoga helps in the search for and the finding of the self.
M: You can find what you have lost. But you cannot find what you have not lost.
Q: Had I never lost anything, I would have been enlightened. But I am not. I am searching. Is not my very search a proof of my having lost something?
M: It only shows that you believe you have lost. But who believes it? And what is believed to be lost? Have you lost a person like yourself? What is the self you are in search of? What exactly do you expect to find?
Q: The true knowledge of the self.
M: The true knowledge of the self is not a knowledge. It is not something that you find by searching, by looking everywhere. It is not to be found in space or time. Knowledge is but a memory, a pattern of thought, a mental habit. All these are motivated by pleasure and pain. It is because you are goaded by pleasure and pain that you are in search of knowledge. Being oneself is completely beyond all motivation. You cannot be yourself for some reason. You are yourself, and no reason is needed.
Q: By doing Yoga I shall find peace.
M: Can there be peace apart from yourself? Are you talking from your own experience or from books only? Your book knowledge is useful to begin with, but soon it must be given up for direct experience, which by its very nature is inexpressible. Words can be used for destruction also; of words images are built, by words they are destroyed. You got yourself into your present state through verbal thinking; you must get out of it the same way.
Q: I did attain a degree of inner peace. Am I to destroy it?
M: What has been attained may be lost again. Only when you realise the true peace, the peace you have never lost, that peace will remain with you, for it was never away. Instead of searching for what you do not have, find out what is it that you have never lost? That which is there before the beginning and after the ending of everything; that to which there is no birth, nor death. That immovable state, which is not affected by the birth and death of a body or a mind, that state you must perceive.
Q: What are the means to such perception?
M: In life nothing can be had without overcoming obstacles. The obstacles to the clear perception of one's true being are desire for pleasure and fear of pain. It is the pleasure-pain motivation that stands in the way. The very freedom from all motivation, the state in which no desire arises is the natural state.
Q: Such giving up of desires, does it need time?
M: If you leave it to time, millions of years will be needed. Giving up desire after desire is a lengthy process with the end never in sight. Leave alone your desires and fears, give your entire attention to the subject, to him who is behind the experience of desire and fear. Ask: 'who desires?' Let each desire bring you back to yourself.
Q: The root of all desires and fears is the same -- the longing for happiness.
M: The happiness you can think of and long for, is mere physical or mental satisfaction. Such sensory or mental pleasure is not the real, the absolute happiness.
Q: Even sensory and mental pleasures and the general sense of well-being which arises with physical and mental health, must have their roots in reality.
M: They have their roots in imagination. A man who is given a stone and assured that it is a priceless diamond will be mightily pleased until he realises his mistake; in the same way pleasures lose their tang and pains their barb when the self is known. Both are seen as they are -- conditional responses, mere reactions, plain attractions and repulsions, based on memories or preconceptions. Usually pleasure and pain are experienced when expected. It is all a matter of acquired habits and convictions.
Q: Well, pleasure may be imaginary. But pain is real.
M: Pain and pleasure go always together. Freedom from one means freedom from both. If you do not care for pleasure, you will not be afraid of pain. But there is happiness which is neither, which is completely beyond. The happiness you know is describable and measurable. It is objective, so to say. But the objective cannot be your own. It would be a grievous mistake to identify yourself with something external. This churning up of levels leads nowhere. Reality is beyond the subjective and objective, beyond all levels, beyond every distinction. Most definitely it is not their origin, source or root. These come from ignorance of reality, not from reality itself, which is indescribable, beyond being and not-being.
Q: Many teachers have I followed and studied many doctrines, yet none gave me what I wanted.
M: The desire to find the self will be surely fulfilled, provided you want nothing else. But you must be honest with yourself and really want nothing else. If in the meantime you want many other things and are engaged in their pursuit, your main purpose may be delayed until you grow wiser and cease being torn between contradictory urges. Go within, without swerving, without ever looking outward.
Q: But my desires and fears are still there.
M: Where are they but in your memory? realise that their root is in expectation born of memory and they will cease to obsess you.
Q: I have understood very well that social service is an endless task, because improvement and decay, progress and regress, go side by side. We can see it on all sides and on every level. What remains?
M: Whatever work you have undertaken -- complete it. Do not take up new tasks. unless it is called for by a concrete situation of suffering and relief from suffering. Find yourself first, and endless blessings will follow. Nothing profits the world as much as the abandoning of profits. A man who no longer thinks in terms of loss and gain is the truly non-violent man, for he is beyond all conflict.
Q: Yes, I was always attracted by the idea of ahimsa (non-violence).
M: Primarily, ahimsa means what it says: 'don't hurt'. It is not doing good that comes first, but ceasing to hurt, not adding to suffering. Pleasing others is not ahimsa.
Q: I am not talking of pleasing, but I am all for helping others.
M: The only help worth giving is freeing from the need for further help. Repeated help is no help at all. Do not talk of helping another, unless you can put him beyond all need of help.
Q: How does one go beyond the need of help? And can one help another to do so?
M: When you have understood that all existence, in separation and limitation, is painful, and when you are willing and able to live integrally, in oneness with all life, as pure being, you have gone beyond all need of help. You can help another by precept and example and, above all, by your being. You cannot give what you do not have and you don't have what you are not. You can only give what you are -- and of that you can give limitlessly.
Q: But, is it true that all existence is painful?
M: What else can be the cause of this universal search for pleasure? Does a happy man seek happiness? How restless people are, how constantly on the move! It is because they are in pain that they seek relief in pleasure. All the happiness they can imagine is in the assurance of repeated pleasure.
Q: If what I am, as I am, the person I take myself to be, cannot be happy, then what am I to do?
M: You can only cease to be -- as you seem to be now. There is nothing cruel in what I say. To wake up a man from a nightmare is compassion. You came here because you are in pain, and all I say is: wake up, know yourself, be yourself. The end of pain lies not in pleasure. When you realise that you are beyond both pain and pleasure, aloof and unassailable, then the pursuit of happiness ceases and the resultant sorrow too. For pain aims at pleasure and pleasure ends in pain, relentlessly.
Q: In the ultimate state there can be no happiness?
M: Nor sorrow. Only freedom. Happiness depends on something or other and can be lost; freedom from everything depends on nothing and cannot be lost. Freedom from sorrow has no cause and, therefore, cannot be destroyed. realise that freedom.
Q: Am I not born to suffer as a result of my past? Is freedom possible at all? Was I born of my own will? Am I not just a creature?
M: What is birth and death but the beginning and the ending of a stream of events in consciousness? Because of the idea of separation and limitation they are painful. Momentary relief from pain we call pleasure -- and we build castles in the air hoping for endless pleasure which we call happiness. It is all misunderstanding and misuse. Wake up, go beyond, live really.
Q: My knowledge is limited, my power negligible.
M: Being the source of both. the self is beyond both knowledge and power. The observable is in the mind. The nature of the self is pure awareness, pure witnessing, unaffected by the presence or absence of knowledge or liking.
Have your being outside this body of birth and death and all your problems will be solved. They exist because you believe yourself born to die. Undeceive yourself and be free. You are not a person.