Questioner: We are like animals, running about in vain pursuits and there seems to be no end to it. Is there a way out?
Maharaj: Many ways will be offered to you which will but take you round and bring you back to your starting point. First realise that your problem exists in your waking state only, that however painful it is, you are able to forget it altogether when you go to sleep. When you are awake you are conscious; when you are asleep, you are only alive. Consciousness and life -- both you may call God; but you are beyond both, beyond God, beyond being and not-being. What prevents you from knowing yourself as all and beyond all, is the mind based on memory. It has power over you as long as you trust it; don't struggle with it; just disregard it. Deprived of attention, it will slow down and reveal the mechanism of its working. Once you know its nature and purpose, you will not allow it to create imaginary problems.
Q: Surely, not all problems are imaginary. There are real problems.
M:What problems can there be which the mind did not create? Life and death do not create problems; pains and pleasures come and go, experienced and forgotten. It is memory and anticipation that create problems of attainment or avoidance, coloured by like and dislike. Truth and love are man's real nature and mind and heart are the means of its expression.
Q: How to bring the mind under control? And the heart, which does not know what it wants?
M:They cannot work in darkness. They need the light of pure awareness to function rightly. All effort at control will merely subject them to the dictates of memory. Memory is a good servant, but a bad master. It effectively prevents discovery. There is no place for effort in reality. It is selfishness, due to a self-identification with the body, that is the main problem and the cause of all other problems. And selfishness cannot be removed by effort, only by clear insight into its causes and effects. Effort is a sign of conflict between incompatible desires. They should be seen as they are -- then only they dissolve.
Q: And what remains?
M:That which cannot change, remains. The great peace, the deep silence, the hidden beauty of reality remain. While it can not be conveyed through words, it is waiting for you to experience for yourself.
Q: Must not one be fit and eligible for realisation? Our nature is animal to the core. Unless it is conquered, how can we hope for reality to dawn?
M:Leave the animal alone. Let it be. Just remember what you are. Use every incident of the day to remind you that without you as the witness there would be neither animal nor God. Understand that you are both, the essence and the substance of all there is. and remain firm in your understanding.
Q: Is understanding enough? Don't I need more tangible proofs?
M:It is your understanding that will decide about the validity of proofs. But what more tangible proof do you need than your own existence? Wherever you go you find yourself. However far you reach out in time, you are there.
Q: Obviously, I am not all-pervading and eternal. I am only here and now.
M:Good enough. The 'here' is everywhere and the now -- always. Go beyond the 'I-am-the-body' idea and you will find that space and time are in you and not you in space and time. Once you have understood this, the main obstacle to realisation is removed.
Q: What is the realisation which is beyond understanding?
M:Imagine a dense forest full of tigers and you in a strong steel cage. Knowing that you are well protected by the cage, you watch the tigers fearlessly. Next you find the tigers in the cage and yourself roaming about in the jungle. Last -- the cage disappears and you ride the tigers!
Q: I attended one of the group meditation sessions, held recently in Bombay, and witnessed the frenzy and self-abandon of the participants. Why do people go for such things?
M:These are all inventions of a restless mind pampering to people in search of sensations. Some of them help the unconscious to disgorge suppressed memories and longings and to that extent they provide relief. But ultimately they leave the practitioner where he was -- or worse.
Q: I have read recently a book by aYogi on his experiences in meditation. It is full of visions and sounds, colours and melodies; quite a display and a most gorgeous entertainment! In the end they all faded out and only the feeling of utter fearlessness remained. No wonder -- a man who passed through all these experiences unscathed need not be afraid of anything! Yet I was wondering of what use is such book to me?
M:Of no use, probably, since it does not attract you. Others may be impressed. People differ. But all are faced with the fact of their own existence. 'I am' is the ultimate fact; 'Who am l?' is the ultimate question to which everybody must find an answer.
Q: The same answer?
M:The same in essence, varied in expression.
Each seeker accepts, or invents, a method which suits him, applies it to himself with some earnestness and effort, obtains results according to his temperament and expectations, casts them into the mound of words, builds them into a system, establishes a tradition and begins to admit others into his 'school of Yoga'. It is all built on memory and imagination. No such school is valueless, nor indispensable; in each one can progress up to the point, when all desire for progress must be abandoned to make further progress possible. Then all schools are given up, all effort ceases; in solitude and darkness the vast step is made which ends ignorance and fear forever.
The true teacher, however, will not imprison his disciple in a prescribed set of ideas, feelings and actions; on the contrary, he will show him patiently the need to be free from all ideas and set patterns of behaviour, to be vigilant and earnest and go with life wherever it takes him, not to enjoy or suffer, but to understand and learn.
Under the right teacher the disciple learns to learn, not to remember and obey. Satsang, the company of the noble, does not mould, it liberates. Beware of all that makes you dependent. Most of the so-called 'surrenders to the Guru' end in disappointment, if not in tragedy. Fortunately, an earnest seeker will disentangle himself in time, the wiser for the experience.
Q: Surely, self-surrender has its value.
M:Self-surrender is the surrender of all self-concern. It cannot be done, it happens when you realise your true nature. Verbal self-surrender, even when accompanied by feeling, is of little value and breaks down under stress. At the best it shows an aspiration, not an actual fact.
Q: In the Rigveda there is the mention of the adhi yoga, the Primordial Yoga, consisting of the marriage of pragna with Prana, which, as I understand, means the bringing together of wisdom and life. Would you say it means also the union of Dharma and Karma, righteousness and action?
M:Yes, provided by righteousness you mean harmony with one's true nature and by action -- only unselfish and desireless action.
In adhi yoga life itself is the Guru and the mind -- the disciple. The mind attends to life, it does not dictate. Life flows naturally and effortlessly and the mind removes the obstacles to its even flow.
Q: Is not life by its very nature repetitive? Will not following life lead to stagnation?
M:By itself life is immensely creative. A seed, in course of time, becomes a forest. The mind is like a forester -- protecting and regulating the immense vital urge of existence.
Q: Seen as the service of life by the mind, the adhi yoga is a perfect democracy. Everyone is engaged in living a life to his best capacity and knowledge, everyone is a disciple of the same Guru.
M:You may say so. It may be so -- potentially. But unless life is loved and trusted, followed with eagerness and zest, it would be fanciful to talk of Yoga, which is a movement in consciousness, awareness in action.
Q: Once I watched a mountain-stream flowing between the boulders. At each boulder the commotion was different, according to the shape and size of the boulder. Is not every person a mere commotion over a body, while life is one and eternal?
M:The commotion and the water are not separate. It is the disturbance that makes you aware of water. Consciousness is always of movement, of change. There can be no such thing as changeless consciousness. Changelessness wipes out consciousness immediately. A man deprived of outer or inner sensations blanks out, or goes beyond consciousness and unconsciousness into the birthless and deathless state. Only when spirit and matter come together consciousness is born.
Q: Are they one or two?
M:It depends on the words you use: they are one, or two, or three. On investigation three become two and two become one. Take the simile of face -- mirror -- image. Any two of them presuppose the third which unites the two. In sadhana you see the three as two, until you realise the two as one. A long as you are engrossed in the world, you are unable to know yourself: to know yourself, turn away your attention from the world and turn it within.
Q: I cannot destroy the world.
M:There is no need. Just understand that what you see is not what is. Appearances will dissolve on investigation and the underlying reality will come to the surface. You need not burn the house to get out of it. You just walk out. It is only when you cannot come and go freely that the house becomes a jail. I move in and out of consciousness easily and naturally and therefore to me the world is a home, not a prison.
Q: But ultimately is there a world, or is there none?
M:What you see is nothing but your self. Call it what you like, it does not change the fact. Through the film of destiny your own light depicts pictures on the screen. You are the viewer, the light, the picture and the screen. Even the film of destiny (prarabdha) is self-selected and self-imposed. The spirit is a sport and enjoys to overcome obstacles. The harder the task the deeper and wider his self- realisation.