Questioner: On all sides I hear that freedom from desires and inclinations is the first condition of self-realisation. But I find the condition impossible of fulfilment. Ignorance of oneself causes desires and desires perpetuate ignorance. A truly vicious circle!
Maharaj: There are no conditions to fulfil. There is nothing to be done, nothing to be given up. Just look and remember, whatever you perceive is not you, nor yours. It is there in the field of consciousness, but you are not the field and its contents, nor even the knower of the field. It is your idea that you have to do things that entangle you in the results of your efforts -- the motive, the desire, the failure to achieve, the sense of frustration -- all this holds you back. Simply look at whatever happens and know that you are beyond it.
Q: Does it mean I should abstain from doing anything?
M: You cannot! What goes on must go on. If you stop suddenly, you will crash.
Q: Is it a matter of the known and the knower becoming one?
M: Both are ideas in the mind, and words that express them. There is no self in them. The self is neither, between nor beyond. To look for it on the mental level is futile. Stop searching, and see -- it is here and now -- it is that 'I am' you know so well. All you need to do is to cease taking yourself to be within the field of consciousness. Unless you have already considered these matters carefully, listening to me once will not do. Forget your past experiences and achievements, stand naked, exposed to the winds and rains of life and you will have a chance.
Q: Has devotion (bhakti) any place in your teaching?
M: When you are not well, you go to a physician who tells you what is wrong and what is the remedy. If you have confidence in him, it makes things simple: you take the medicine, follow the diet restrictions and get well. But if you do not trust him, you may still take a chance, or you may study medicine yourself! In all cases it is your desire for recovery that moves you, not the physician.
Without trust there is no peace. Somebody or other you always trust -- it may be your mother, or your wife. Of all the people the knower of the self, the liberated man, is the most trust-worthy. But merely to trust is not enough. You must also desire. Without desire for freedom of what use is the confidence that you can acquire freedom? Desire and confidence must go together. The stronger your desire, the easier comes the help. The greatest Guru is helpless as long as the disciple is not eager to learn. Eagerness and earnestness are all-important. Confidence will come with experience. Be devoted to your goal -- and devotion to him who can guide you will follow. If your desire and confidence are strong, they will operate and take you to your goal, for you will not cause delay by hesitation and compromise.
The greatest Guru is your inner self. Truly, he is the supreme teacher. He alone can take you to your goal and he alone meets you at the end of the road. Confide in him and you need no outer Guru. But again you must have the strong desire to find him and do nothing that will create obstacles and delays. And do not waste energy and time on regrets. Learn from your mistakes and do not repeat them.
Q: If you do not mind my asking a personal question...?
M: Yes, go ahead.
Q: I see you sitting on an antelope skin. How does it tally with non-violence?
M: All my working life I was a cigarette-maker, helping people to spoil their health. And in front of my door the municipality has put up a public lavatory, spoiling my health. In this violent world how can one keep away from violence of some kind or other?
Q: Surely all avoidable violence should be avoided. And yet in India every holy man has his tiger, lion, leopard or antelope skin to sit on.
M: Maybe because no plastics were available in ancient times and a skin was best to keep the damp away. Rheumatism has no charm, even for a saint! Thus the tradition arose that for lengthy meditations a skin is needed. Just like the drum-hide in a temple, so is the antelope skin of a Yogi. We hardly notice it.
Q: But the animal had to be killed.
M: I have never heard of a Yogi killing a tiger for his hide. The killers are not Yogis and the Yogis are not killers.
Q: Should you not express your disapproval by refusing to sit on a skin?
M: What an idea! I disapprove of the entire universe, why only a skin?
Q: What is wrong with the universe?
M: Forgetting your Self is the greatest injury; all the calamities flow from it. Take care of the most important, the lesser will take care of itself. You do not tidy up a dark room. You open the windows first. Letting in the light makes everything easy. So, let us wait with improving others until we have seen ourselves as we are -- and have changed. There is no need to turn round and round in endless questioning; find yourself and everything will fall into its proper place.
Q: The urge to return to the source is very rare. Is it at all natural?
M: Outgoing is natural in the beginning, ingoing -- in the end. But in reality the two are one, just like breathing in and out are one.
Q: In the same way are not the body and the dweller in the body one?
M: Events in time and space -- birth and death, cause and effect -- these may be taken as one; but the body and the embodied are not of the same order of reality. The body exists in time and space, transient and limited, while the dweller is timeless and spaceless, eternal and all-pervading. To identify the two is a grievous mistake and the cause of endless suffering. You can speak of the mind and body as one, but the body-mind is not the underlying reality.
Q: Whoever he may be, the dweller is in control of the body and, therefore, responsible for it.
M: There is a universal power which is in control and is responsible.
Q: And so, I can do as I like and put the blame on some universal power? How easy!
M: Yes, very easy. Just realise the One Mover behind all that moves and leave all to Him. If you do not hesitate, or cheat, this is the shortest way to reality. Stand without desire and fear, relinquishing all control and all responsibility.
Q: What madness!
M: Yes, divine madness. What is wrong in letting go the illusion of personal control and personal responsibility? Both are in the mind only. Of course, as long as you imagine yourself to be in control, you should also imagine yourself to be responsible. One implies the other.
Q: How can the universal be responsible for the particular?
M: All life on earth depends on the sun. Yet you cannot blame the sun for all that happens, though it is the ultimate cause. Light causes the colour of the flower, but it neither controls, nor is responsible for it directly. It makes it possible, that is all.
Q: What I do not like in all this is taking refuge in some universal power.
M: You cannot quarrel with facts.
Q: Whose facts? Yours or mine?
M: Yours. You cannot deny my facts, for you do not know them. Could you know them, you would not deny them. Here lies the trouble. You take your imagining for facts and my facts for imagination.
I know for certain that all is one. Differences do not separate. Either you are responsible for nothing, or for everything. To imagine that you are in control and responsible for one body only is the aberration of the body-mind.
Q: Still, you are limited by your body.
M: Only in matters pertaining to the body. This I do not mind. It is like enduring the seasons of the year. They come, they go -- they hardly affect me. In the same way body-minds come and go -- life is forever in search of new expressions.
Q: As long as you do not put all the burden of evil on God, I am satisfied. There may be a God for all I know, but to me he is a concept projected by the human mind. He may be a reality to you, but to me society is more real than God, for I am both its creature and its prisoner. Your values are wisdom and compassion; society's sagacious selfishness. I live in a world quite different from yours.
M: None compels.
Q: None compels you, but I am compelled. My world is an evil world, full of tears, toil and pain. To explain it away by the intellectualising, by putting forth theories of evolution and karma is merely adding insult to injury. The God of an evil world is a cruel God.
M: You are the god of your world and you are both stupid and cruel. Let God be a concept -- your own creation. Find out who you are, how did you come to live, longing for truth, goodness and beauty in a world full of evil. Of what use is your arguing for or against God. when you just do not know who is God and what are you talking about. The God born of fear and hope, shaped by desire and imagination, cannot be the Power That is, the Mind and the Heart of the universe.
Q: I agree that the world I live in and the God I believe in are both creatures of imagination. But in what way are they created by desire? Why do I imagine a world so painful and a God so indifferent? What is wrong with me that I should torture myself so cruelly? The enlightened man comes and tells me: 'it is but a dream to put an end to', but is he not himself a part of the dream? I find myself trapped and see no way out. You say you are free. Of what are you free? For heaven's sake, don't feed me on words, enlighten me, help me to wake up, since it is you who sees me tossing in my sleep.
M: When I say I am free, I merely state a fact. If you are an adult, you are free from infancy. I am free from all description and identification. Whatever you may hear, see, or think of, I am not that. I am free from being a percept, or a concept.
Q: Still, you have a body and you depend on it.
M: Again you assume that your point of view is the only correct one. I repeat: I was not, am not, shall not be a body. To me this is a fact. I too was under the illusion of having been born, but my Guru made me see that birth and death are mere ideas -- birth is merely the idea: 'I have a body'. And death -- 'I have lost my body'. Now, when I know I am not a body, the body may be there or may not -- what difference does it make? The body-mind is like a room. It is there, but I need not live in it all the time.
Q: Yet, there is a body and you do take care of it.
M: The power that created the body takes care of it.
Q: We are jumping from level to level all the time.
M: There are two levels to consider -- the physical -- of facts, and mental -- of ideas. I am beyond both. Neither your facts, nor ideas are mine. What I see is beyond. Cross over to my side and see with me.
Q: What I want to say is very simple. As long as I believe: 'I am the body', I must not say: 'God will look after my body'. God will not. He will let it starve, sicken and die.
M: What else do you expect from a mere body? Why are you so anxious about it?
Because you think you are the body, you want it indestructible. You can extend its life considerably by appropriate practices, but for what ultimate good?
Q: It is better to live long and healthy. It gives us a chance to avoid the mistakes of childhood and youth, the frustrations of adulthood, the miseries and imbecility of old age.
M: By all means live long. But you are not the master. Can you decide the days of your birth and death? We are not speaking the same language. Yours is a make-believe talk, all hangs on suppositions and assumptions. You speak with assurance about things you are not sure of.
Q: Therefore, I am here.
M: You are not yet here. I am here. Come in! But you don't. You want me to live your life, feel your way, use your language. I cannot, and it will not help you. You must come to me. Words are of the mind and the mind obscures and distorts. Hence the absolute need to go beyond words and move over to my side.
Q: Take me over.
M: I am doing it, but you resist. You give reality to concepts, while concepts are distortions of reality. Abandon all conceptualisation and stay silent and attentive. Be earnest about it and all will be well with you.