Questioner: The Indian tradition tells us that the Guru is indispensable. What is he indispensable for? A mother is indispensable for giving the child a body. But the soul she does not give. Her role is limited. How is it with the Guru? Is his role also limited, and if so, to what? Or is he indispensable generally, even absolutely?
Maharaj: The innermost light, shining peacefully and timelessly in the heart, is the real Guru. All others merely show the way.
Q: I am not concerned with the inner Guru. only with the one that shows the way. There are people who believe that without a Guru Yoga is inaccessible. They are ever in search of the right Guru, changing one for another. Of what value are such Gurus?
M:They are temporary, time-bound Gurus. You find them in every walk of life. You need them for acquiring any knowledge or skill.
Q: A mother is only for a lifetime, she begins at birth and ends at death. She is not for ever.
M:. Similarly, the time-bound Guru is not for ever. He fulfils his purpose and yields his place to the next. It is quite natural and there is no blame attached to it.
Q: For every kind of knowledge, or skill, do I need a separate Guru?
M:There can be no rule in these matters, except one 'the outer is transient, the innermost -- permanent and changeless', though ever new in appearance and action.
Q: What is the relation between the inner and the outer Gurus?
M:The outer represent the inner, the inner accepts the outer -- for a time.
Q: Whose is the effort?
M:The disciple's, of course. The outer Guru gives the instructions, the inner sends the strength; the alert application is the disciple's. Without will, intelligence and energy on the part of the disciple the outer Guru is helpless. The inner Guru bids his chance. Obtuseness and wrong pursuits bring about a crisis and the disciple wakes up to his own plight. Wise is he who does not wait for a shock, which can be quite rude.
Q: Is it a threat?
M:Not a threat, a warning. The inner Guru is not committed to non-violence. He can be quite violent at times, to the point of destroying the obtuse or perverted personality. Suffering and death, as life and happiness, are his tools of work. It is only in duality that non-violence becomes the unifying law.
Q: Has one to be afraid of his own self?
M:Not afraid, for the self means well.. But it must be taken seriously. It calls for attention and obedience; when it is not listened to, it turns from persuasion to compulsion, for while it can wait, it shall not be denied. The difficulty lies not with the Guru, inner or outer. The Guru is always available. It is the ripe disciple that is lacking. When a person is not ready, what can be done?
Q: Ready or willing?
M:Both. It comes to the same. In India we call it adhikari. It means both capable and entitled.
Q: Can the outer Guru grant initiation (diksha)?
M:He can give all kinds of initiations, but the initiation into Reality must come from within.
Q: Who gives the ultimate initiation?
M:It is self-given.
Q: I feel we are running in circles. After all, I know one self only, the present, empirical self. The inner or higher self is but an idea conceived to explain and encourage. We talk of it as having independent existence. It hasn't.
M:The outer self and the inner both are imagined. The obsession of being an 'I' needs another obsession with a 'super-l' to get cured, as one needs another thorn to remove a thorn, or another poison to neutralise a poison. All assertion calls for a denial, but this is the first step only. The next is to go beyond both.
Q: I do understand that the outer Guru is needed to call my attention to myself and to the urgent need of doing something about myself. I also understand how helpless he is when it comes to any deep change in me. But here you bring in the sadguru, the inner Guru, beginningless, changeless, the root of being, the standing promise, the certain goal. Is he a concept or a reality?
M:He is the only reality. All else is shadow, cast by the body mind (deha-buddhi) on the face of time. Of course, even a shadow is related to reality, but by itself it is not real.
Q: I am the only reality I know. The sadguru is there as long as I think of him. What do I gain by shifting reality to him?
M:Your loss is your gain. When the shadow is seen to be a shadow only, you stop following it. You turn round and discover the sun which was there all the time -- behind your back!
Q: Does the inner Guru also teach?
M:He grants the conviction that you are the eternal, changeless, reality-consciousness-love, within and beyond all appearances.
Q: A conviction is not enough. There must be certainty.
M:Quite right. But in this case certainty takes the shape of courage. Fear ceases absolutely. This state of fearlessness is so unmistakably new, yet felt deeply as one's own, that it cannot be denied. It is like loving one's own child. Who can doubt it?
Q: We hear of progress in our spiritual endeavours. What kind of progress do you have in mind?
M:When you go beyond progress, you will know what is progress.
Q: What makes us progress?
M:Silence is the main factor. In peace and silence you grow.
Q: The mind is so absolutely restless. For quieting it what is the way?
M:Trust the teacher. Take my own case. My Guru ordered me to attend to the sense 'I am' and to give attention to nothing else. I just obeyed. I did not follow any particular course of breathing, or meditation, or study of scriptures. Whatever happened, I would turn away my attention from it and remain with the sense ‘I am', it may look too simple, even crude. My only reason for doing it was that my Guru told me so. Yet it worked! Obedience is a powerful solvent of all desires and fears.
Just turn away from all that occupies the mind; do whatever work you have to complete, but avoid new obligations; keep empty, keep available, resist not what comes uninvited.
In the end you reach a state of non-grasping, of joyful non-attachment, of inner ease and freedom indescribable, yet wonderfully real.
Q: When a truth-seeker earnestly practices hisYogas, does his inner Guru guide and help him or does he leave him to his own resources, just waiting for the outcome?
M:All happens by itself. Neither the seeker. nor the Guru do anything. Things happen as they happen; blame or praise are apportioned later, after the sense of doership appearing.
Q: How strange! Surely the doer comes before the deed.
M:It is the other way round; the deed is a fact, the doer a mere concept. Your very language shows that while the deed is certain, the doer is dubious; shifting responsibility is a game peculiarly human. Considering the endless list of factors required for anything to happen, one can only admit that everything is responsible for everything, however remote. Doership is a myth born from the illusion of 'me' and 'the mine'.
Q: How powerful the illusion?
M:No doubt, because based on reality.
Q: What is real in it?
M:Find out, by discerning and rejecting all that is unreal.
Q: I have not understood well the role of the inner self in spiritual endeavour. Who makes the effort? Is it the outer self, or the inner?
M:You have invented words like effort, inner, outer, self, etc. and seek to impose them on reality. Things just happen to be as they are, but we want to build them into a pattern, laid down by the structure of our language. So strong is this habit, that we tend to deny reality to what cannot be verbalised. We just refuse to see that words are mere symbols, related by convention and habit to repeated experiences.
Q: What is the value of spiritual books?
M:They help in dispelling ignorance. They are useful in the beginning, but become a hindrance in the end. One must know when to discard them.
Q: What is the link between atma and sattva, between the self and the universal harmony?
M:As between the sun and its rays. Harmony and beauty, understanding and affection are all expressions of reality. It is reality in action, the impact of the spirit on matter. Tamas obscures, rajas distorts, sattva harmonises. With the maturing of the sattva all desires and fears come to an end. The real being is reflected in the mind undistorted. Matter is redeemed, spirit -- revealed. The two are seen as one. They were always one, but the imperfect mind saw them as two. Perfection of the mind is the human task, for matter and spirit meet in the mind.
Q: I feel like a man before a door. I know the door is open but it is guarded by the dogs of desire and fear. What am I to do?
M:Obey the teacher and brave the dogs. Behave as if they were not there. Again, obedience is the golden rule. Freedom is won by obedience. To escape from prison one must unquestioningly obey instructions sent by those who work for one's release.
Q: The words of the Guru, when merely heard, have little power. One must have faith to obey them. What creates such faith?
M:When the time comes, faith comes. Everything comes in time. The Guru is always ready to share, but there are no takers.
Q: Yes, Sri Ramana Maharshi used to say: Gurus there are many, but where are the disciples?
M:Well, in the course of time everything happens. All will come through, not a single soul (jiva ) shall be lost.
Q: I am very much afraid of taking intellectual understanding for realisation. I may talk of truth without knowing it, and may know it without a single word said.
I understand these conversations are going to be published. What will be their effect on the reader?
M:In the attentive and thoughtful reader they will ripen and bring out flowers and fruits. Words based on truth, if fully tested, have their own power.