Questioner: You keep on saying that I was never born and will never die. If so, how is it that I see the world as one which has been born and will surely die?
Maharaj: You believe so because you have never questioned your belief that you are the body which, obviously, is born and dies. While alive, it attracts attention and fascinates so completely that rarely does one perceive one's real nature. It is like seeing the surface of the ocean and completely forgetting the immensity beneath. The world is but the surface of the mind and the mind is infinite. What we call thoughts are just ripples in the mind. When the mind is quiet it reflects reality. When it is motionless through and through, it dissolves and only reality remains. This reality is so concrete, so actual, so much more tangible than mind and matter, that compared to it even diamond is soft like butter. This overwhelming actuality makes the world dreamlike, misty, irrelevant.
Q: This world, with so much suffering in it, how can you see it as irrelevant. What callousness!
M:It is you who is callous, not me. If your world is so full of suffering, do something about it; don't add to it through greed or indolence. I am not bound by your dreamlike world. In my world the seeds of suffering, desire and fear are not sown and suffering does not grow. My world is free from opposites, of mutually distinctive discrepancies; harmony pervades; its peace is rocklike; this peace and silence are my body.
Q: What you say reminds me of the dharmakaya of the Buddha.
M:Maybe. We need not run off with terminology. Just see the person you imagine yourself to be as a part of the world you perceive within your mind and look at the mind from the outside, for you are not the mind. After all, your only problem is the eager self-identification with whatever you perceive. Give up this habit, remember that you are not what you perceive, use your power of alert aloofness. See yourself in all that lives and your behaviour will express your vision. Once you realise that there is nothing in this world, which you can call your own, you look at it from the outside as you look at a play on the stage, or a picture on the screen, admiring and enjoying, but really unmoved. As long as you imagine yourself to be something tangible and solid, a thing among things, actually existing in time and space, short-lived and vulnerable, naturally you will be anxious to survive and increase. But when you know yourself as beyond space and time -- in contact with them only at the point of here and now, otherwise all-pervading and all-containing, unapproachable, unassailable, invulnerable -- you will be afraid no longer. Know yourself as you are -- against fear there is no other remedy.
You have to learn to think and feel on these lines, or you will remain indefinitely on the personal level of desire and fear, gaining and losing, growing and decaying. A personal problem cannot be solved on its own level. The very desire to live is the. messenger of death, as the longing to be happy is the outline of sorrow. The world is an ocean of pain and fear, of anxiety and despair. Pleasures are like the fishes, few and swift, rarely come, quickly gone. A man of low intelligence believes, against all evidence, that he is an exception and that the world owes him happiness. But the world cannot give what it does not have; unreal to the core, it is of no use for real happiness. It cannot be otherwise. We seek the real because we are unhappy with the unreal. Happiness is our real nature and we shall never rest until we find it. But rarely we know where to seek it. Once you have understood that the world is but a mistaken view of reality, and is not what it appears to be, you are free of its obsessions. Only what is compatible with your real being can make you happy and the world, as you perceive it, is its outright denial.
Keep very quiet and watch what comes to the surface of the mind. Reject the known, welcome the so far unknown and reject it in its turn. Thus you come to a state in which there is no knowledge, only being, in which being itself is knowledge. To know by being is direct knowledge. It is based on the identity of the seer and the seen. Indirect knowledge is based on sensation and memory, on proximity of the perceiver and his percept, confined with the contrast between the two. The same with happiness. Usually you have to be sad to know gladness and glad to know sadness. True happiness is uncaused and this cannot disappear for lack of stimulation. It is not the opposite of sorrow, it includes all sorrow and suffering.
Q: How can one remain happy among so much suffering?
M:One cannot help it -- the inner happiness is overwhelmingly real. Like the sun in the sky, its expressions may be clouded, but it is never absent.
Q: When we are in trouble, we are bound to be unhappy.
M:Fear is the only trouble. Know yourself as independent and you will be free from fear and its shadows.
Q: What is the difference between happiness and pleasure?
M:Pleasure depends on things, happiness does not.
Q: If happiness is independent, why are we not always happy?
M:As long as we believe that we need things to make us happy, we shall also believe that in their absence we must be miserable. Mind always shapes itself according to its beliefs. Hence the importance of convincing oneself that one need not be prodded into happiness; that, on the contrary, pleasure is a distraction and a nuisance, for it merely increases the false conviction that one needs to have and do things to be happy when in reality it is just the opposite.
But why talk of happiness at all? You do not think of happiness except when you are unhappy. A man who says: 'Now I am happy', is between two sorrows -- past and future. This happiness is mere excitement caused by relief from pain. Real happiness is utterly unselfconscious. It is best expressed negatively as: 'there is nothing wrong with me. I have nothing to worry about'. After all, the ultimate purpose of all sadhana is to reach a point, when this conviction, instead of being only verbal, is based on the actual and ever-present experience.
Q: Which experience?
M:The experience of being empty, uncluttered by memories and expectations; it is like the happiness of open spaces, of being young, of having all the time and energy for doing things, for discovery, for adventure.
Q: What remains to discover?
M:The universe without and the immensity within as they are in reality, in the great mind and heart of God. The meaning and purpose of existence, the secret of suffering, life's redemption from ignorance.
Q: If being happy is the same as being free from fear and worry, cannot it be said that absence of trouble is the cause of happiness?
M:A state of absence, of non-existence cannot be a cause; the pre-existence of a cause is implied in the notion. Your natural state, in which nothing exists, cannot be a cause of becoming; the causes are hidden in the great and mysterious power of memory. But your true home is in nothingness, in emptiness of all content.
Q: Emptiness and nothingness -- how dreadful!
M:You face it most cheerfully, when you go to sleep! Find out for yourself the state of wakeful sleep and you will find it quite in harmony with your real nature. Words can only give you the idea and the idea is not the experience. All I can say is that true happiness has no cause and what has no cause is immovable. Which does not mean it is perceivable, as pleasure. What is perceivable is pain and pleasure; the state of freedom from sorrow can be described only negatively. To know it directly you must go beyond the mind addicted to causality and the tyranny of time.
Q: If happiness is not conscious and consciousness -- not happy, what is the link between the two?
M:Consciousness being a product of conditions and circumstances, depends on them and changes along with them. What is independent, uncreated, timeless and changeless, and yet ever new and fresh, is beyond the mind. When the mind thinks of it, the mind dissolves and only happiness remains.
Q: When all goes, nothingness remains.
M:How can there be nothing without something? Nothing is only an idea, it depends on the memory of something. Pure being is quite independent of existence, which is definable and describable.
Q: Please tell us; beyond the mind does consciousness continue, or does it end with the mind?
M:Consciousness comes and goes, awareness shines immutably.
Q: Who is aware in awareness?
M:When there is a person, there is also consciousness. 'I am' mind, consciousness denote the same state. If you say 'I am aware', it only means: 'I am conscious of thinking about being aware'. There is no 'I am' in awareness.
Q: What about witnessing?
M:Witnessing is of the mind. The witness goes with the witnessed. In the state of non-duality all separation ceases.
Q: What about you? Do you continue in awareness?
M:The person, the 'I am this body, this mind, this chain of memories, this bundle of desires and fears' disappears, but something you may call identity, remains. It enables me to become a person when required. Love creates its own necessities, even of becoming a person.
Q: It is said that Reality manifests itself as existence -- consciousness -- bliss. Are they absolute or relative?
M:They are relative to each other and depend on each other. Reality is independent of its expressions.
Q: What is the relation between reality and its expressions?
M:No relation. In reality all is real and identical. As we put it, saguna and nirguna are one in Parabrahman. There is only the Supreme. In movement, it Is saguna. Motionless, it is nirguna. But it is only the mind that moves or does not move. The real is beyond, you are beyond. Once you have understood that nothing perceivable, or conceivable can be yourself, you are free of your imaginations. To see everything as imagination, born of desire, is necessary for self-realisation. We miss the real by lack of attention and create the unreal by excess of imagination.
You have to give your heart and mind to these things and brood over them repeatedly. It is like cooking food. You must keep it on the fire for some time before it is ready.
Q: Am I not under the sway of destiny, of my karma? What can I do against it? What I am and what I do is pre-determined. Even my so-called free choice is predetermined; only I am not aware of it and imagine myself to be free.
M:Again, it all depends how you look at it. Ignorance is like a fever -- it makes you see things which are not there. karma is the divinely prescribed treatment. Welcome it and follow the instructions faithfully and you will get well. A patient will leave the hospital after he recovers. To insist on immediate freedom of choice and action will merely postpone recovery. Accept your destiny and fulfil it -- this is the shortest way to freedom from destiny, though not from love and its compulsions. To act from desire and fear is bondage, to act from love is freedom.