Questioner: I am a retired chartered accountant and my wife is engaged in social work for poor women. Our son is leaving for the United States and we came to see him off. We are Panjabis but we live in Delhi. We have a Guru of the Radha-Soami faith and we value satsang highly. We feel very fortunate to be brought here. We have met many holy people and we are glad to meet one more.
Maharaj: You have met many anchorites and ascetics, but a fully realised man conscious of his divinity (swarupa) is hard to find. The saints and Yogis, by immense efforts and sacrifices, acquire many miraculous powers and can do much good in the way of helping people and inspiring faith, yet it does not make them perfect. It is not a way to reality, but merely an enrichment of the false. All effort leads to more effort; whatever was built up must be maintained, whatever was acquired must be protected against decay or loss. Whatever can be lost is not really one's own; and what is not your own of what use can it be to you? In my world nothing is pushed about, all happens by itself. All existence is in space and time, limited and temporary. He who experiences existence is also limited and temporary. I am not concerned either with 'what exists' or with 'who exists'. I take my stand beyond, where I am both and neither.
The persons who, after much effort and penance, have fulfilled their ambitions and secured higher levels of experience and action, are usually acutely conscious of their standing; they grade people into hierarchies, ranging from the lowest non-achiever to the highest achiever. To me all are equal. Differences in appearance and expression are there, but they do not matter. Just as the shape of a gold ornament does not affect the gold, so does man's essence remain unaffected. Where this sense of equality is lacking it means that reality had not been touched.
Mere knowledge is not enough; the knower must be known. The Pandits and the Yogis may know many things, but of what use is mere knowledge when the self is not known? It will be certainly misused. Without the knowledge of the knower there can be no peace.
Q: How does one come to know the knower?
M:I can only tell you what I know from my own experience. When I met my Guru, he told me: 'You are not what you take yourself to be. Find out what you are. Watch the sense 'I am', find your real self'. I obeyed him, because I trusted him. I did as he told me. All my spare time I would spend looking at myself in silence. And what a difference it made, and how soon! It took me only three years to realise my true nature. My Guru died soon after I met him, but it made no difference. I remembered what he told me and persevered. The fruit of it is here, with me.
Q: What is it?
M:I know myself as I am in reality. I am neither the body, nor the mind, nor the mental faculties. I am beyond all these.
Q: Are you just nothing?
M:Come on, be reasonable. Of course I am, most tangibly. Only I am not what you may think me to be. This tells you all.
Q: It tells me nothing.
M:Because it cannot be told. You must gain your own experience. You are accustomed to deal
with things, physical and mental. I am not a thing, nor are you. We are neither matter nor energy, neither body nor mind. Once you have a glimpse of your own being, you will not find me difficult to understand.
We believe in so many things on hearsay. We believe in distant lands and people, in heavens and hells, in gods and goddesses, because we were told. Similarly, we were told about ourselves, our parents, name, position, duties and so on. We never cared to verify. The way to truth lies through the destruction of the false. To destroy the false, you must question your most inveterate beliefs. Of these the idea that you are the body is the worst. With the body comes the world, with the world -- God, who is supposed to have created the world and thus it starts -- fears, religions, prayers, sacrifices, all sorts of systems -- all to protect and support the child-man, frightened out of his wits by monsters of his own making. realise that what you are cannot be born nor die and with the fear gone all suffering ends.
What the mind invents, the mind destroys. But the real is not invented and cannot be destroyed. Hold on to that over which the mind has no power. What I am telling you about is neither in the past nor in the future. Nor is it in the daily life as it flows in the now. It is timeless and the total timelessness of it is beyond the mind. My Guru and his words: 'You are myself' are timelessly with me. In the beginning I had to fix my mind on them, but now it has become natural and easy. The point when the mind accepts the words of the Guru as true and lives by them spontaneously and in every detail of daily life is the threshold of realisation. In a way it is salvation by faith, but the faith must be intense and lasting.
However, you must not think that faith itself is enough. Faith expressed in action is a sure means to realisation. Of all the means it is the most effective. There are teachers who deny faith and trust reason only. Actually it is not faith they deny, but blind beliefs. Faith is not blind. It is the willingness to try.
Q: We were told that of all forms of spiritual practices the practice of the attitude of a mere witness is the most efficacious. How does it compare with faith?
M:The witness attitude is also faith; it is faith in oneself. You believe that you are not what you experience and you look at everything as from a distance. There is no effort in witnessing. You understand that you are the witness only and the understanding acts. You need nothing more, just remember that you are the witness only. If in the state of witnessing you ask yourself: 'Who am I?', the answer comes at once, though it is wordless and silent. Cease to be the object and become the subject of all that happens; once having turned within, you will find yourself beyond the subject. When you have found yourself, you will find that you are also beyond the object, that both the subject and the object exist in you, but you are neither.
Q: You speak of the mind, of the witnessing consciousness beyond the mind and of the Supreme, which is beyond awareness. Do you mean to say that even awareness is not real?
M:As long as you deal in terms: real -- unreal; awareness is the only reality that can be. But the Supreme is beyond all distinctions and to it the term 'real' does not apply, for in it all is real and, therefore, need not be labelled as such. It is the very source of reality, it imparts reality to whatever it touches. It just cannot be understood through words. Even a direct experience, however sublime, merely bears testimony, nothing more.
Q: But who creates the world?
M:The Universal Mind (chidakash) makes and unmakes everything. The Supreme (paramakash) imparts reality to whatever comes into being. To say that it is the universal love may be the nearest we can come to it in words. Just like love it makes everything real, beautiful, desirable.
Q: Why desirable?
M:Why not? Wherefrom come all the powerful attractions that make all created things respond to each other, that bring people together, if not from the Supreme? Shun not desire; see only that it flows into the right channels. Without desire you are dead. But with low desires you are a ghost.
Q: What is the experience which comes nearest to the Supreme?
M:Immense peace and boundless love. realise that whatever there is true, noble and beautiful in the universe, it all comes from you, that you yourself are at the source of it. The gods and goddesses that supervise the world may be most wonderful and glorious beings; yet they are like the gorgeously dressed servants who proclaim the power and the riches of their master.
Q: How does one reach the Supreme State?
M:By renouncing all lesser desires. As long as you are pleased with the lesser, you cannot have the highest. Whatever pleases you, keeps you back. Until you realise the unsatisfactoriness of everything, its transiency and limitation, and collect your energies in one great longing, even the first step is not made. On the other hand, the integrity of the desire for the Supreme is by itself a call from the Supreme. Nothing, physical or mental, can give you freedom. You are free once you understand that your bondage is of your own making and you cease forging the chains that bind you.
Q: How does one find the faith in a Guru?
M:To find the Guru and also the trust in him is rare luck. It does not happen often.
Q: Is it destiny that ordains?
M:Calling it destiny explains little. When it happens you cannot say why it happens and you merely cover up your ignorance by calling it karma or Grace, or the Will of God.
Q: Krishnamurti says that Guru is not needed.
M:Somebody must tell you about the Supreme Reality and the way that leads to it. Krishnamurti is doing nothing else. In a way he is right -- most of the so-called disciples do not trust their Gurus; they disobey them and finally abandon them. For such disciples it would have been infinitely better if they had no Guru at all and just looked within for guidance. to find a living Guru is a rare opportunity and a great responsibility. One should not treat these matters lightly. You people are out to buy yourself the heaven and you imagine that the Guru will supply it for a price. You seek to strike a bargain by offering little but asking much. You cheat nobody except yourselves.
Q: You were told by your Guru that you are the Supreme and you trusted him and acted on it. What gave you this trust?
M:Say, I was just reasonable. It would have been foolish to distrust him. What interest could he possibly have in misleading me?
Q: You told a questioner that we are the same, that we are equals. I cannot believe it. Since I do not believe it, of what use is your statement to me?
M:Your disbelief does not matter. My words are true and they will do their work. This is the beauty of noble company (satsang).
Q: Just sitting near you can it be considered spiritual practice?
M:Of course. The river of life is flowing. Some of its water is here, but so much of it has already reached its goal. You know only the present. I see much further into the past and future, into what you are and what you can be. I cannot but see you as myself. It is in the very nature of love to see no difference.
Q: How can I come to see myself as you see me?
M:It is enough if you do not imagine yourself to be the body. It is the 'I-am-the-body' idea that is so calamitous. It blinds you completely to your real nature. Even for a moment do not think that you are the body. Give yourself no name, no shape. In the darkness and the silence reality is found.
Q: Must not I think with some conviction that I am not the body? Where am I to find such conviction?
M:Behave as if you were fully convinced and the confidence will come. What is the use of mere words? A formula, a mental pattern will not help you. But unselfish action, free from all concern with the body and its interests will carry you into the very heart of Reality.
Q: Where am I to get the courage to act without conviction?
M:Love will give you the courage. When you meet somebody wholly admirable, love-worthy, sublime, your love and admiration will give you the urge to act nobly.
Q: Not everybody knows to admire the admirable. Most of the people are totally insensitive.
M:Life will make them appreciate. The very weight of accumulated experience will give them eyes to see. When you meet a worthy man, you will love and trust him and follow his advice. This is the role of the realised people -- to set an example of perfection for others to admire and love. Beauty of life and character is a tremendous contribution to the common good.
Q: Must we not suffer to grow?
M:It is enough to know that there is suffering, that the world suffers. By themselves neither pleasure nor pain enlighten. Only understanding does. Once you have grasped the truth that the world is full of suffering, that to be born is a calamity, you will find the urge and the energy to go beyond it. Pleasure puts you to sleep and pain wakes you up. If you do not want to suffer, don't go to sleep. You cannot know yourself through bliss alone, for bliss is your very nature. You must face the opposite, what you are not, to find enlightenment.