Friday, April 27, 2007
Q & A With Nisargadatta Maharaj
Questioner: I am a Frenchman by birth and domicile
and since about ten years I have been practicing Yoga.
Maharaj: After ten years of work are you anywhere
nearer your goal?
Q: A little nearer, maybe. It is hard work, you know.
M: The Self is near and the way to it is easy. All you
need doing is doing nothing.
Q: Yet I found my sadhana very difficult.
M: Your sadhana is to be. The doing happens. Just be
watchful. Where is the difficulty in remembering that
you are? Your are all the time.
Q: The sense of being is there all the time -- no doubt.
But the field of attention is often overrun by all sorts
of mental events -- emotions, images, ideas. The pure
sense of being is usually crowded out.
M: What is your procedure for clearing the mind of the
unnecessary? What are your means, your tools for the
purification of the mind?
Q: Basically, man is afraid. He is afraid of himself most.
I feel I am like a man who is carrying a bomb that is going
to explode. He cannot defuse it, he cannot throw it away.
He is terribly frightened and is searching frantically for a
solution, which he cannot find. To me liberation is getting
rid of this bomb. I do not know much about the bomb. I
only know that it comes from early childhood. I feel like
the frightened child protesting passionately against not
being loved. The child is craving for love and because he
does not get it, he is afraid and angry. Sometimes I feel
like killing somebody or myself. This desire is so strong that
I am constantly afraid. And I do not know how to get free
You see there is a difference between a Hindu mind and
a European mind. The Hindu mind is comparatively simple.
The European is a much more complex being. The Hindu
is basically sattvic. He does not understand the Europeans
restlessness, hid tireless pursuit of what he thinks needs
be done; his greater general knowledge.
M: His reasoning capacity is so great, that he will reason
himself out of all reason! His self-assertiveness is due to
his reliance on logic.
Q: But thinking, reasoning is the mind"s normal state. The
mind just cannot stop working.
M: It may be the habitual state, but it need not be the
normal state. A normal state cannot be painful, while a
habit often leads to chronic pain.
Q: If it is not the natural, or normal state of mind, then
how to stop it? There must be a way to quieten the mind.
How often I tell myself: enough, please stop, enough of
this endless chatter of sentences repeated round and round!
But my mind would not stop. I feel that one can stop it
for a while, but not for long. Even the so-called "spiritual"
people use tricks to keep their mind quiet. They repeat
formulas, they sing, pray, breathe forcibly or gently,
shake, rotate, concentrate, meditate, chase trances,
cultivate virtues -- working all the time, in order to
cease working, cease chasing, cease moving. Were it not
so tragic, it would be ridiculous.
M: The mind exists in two states: as water and as honey.
The water vibrates at the least disturbance, while the
honey, however disturbed, returns quickly to immobility.
Q: By its very nature the mind is restless. It can perhaps
be made quiet, but it is not quiet by itself.
M: You may have a chronic fever and shiver all the time.
It is desires and fears that make the mind restless. Free
from all negative emotions it is quiet.
Q: You cannot protect the child from negative emotions.
As soon as it is born it learns pain and fear. Hunger is a
cruel master and teaches dependence and hate. The
child loves the mother because she feeds it and hates
her because she is late with food. Our unconscious mind
is full of conflicts, which overflow into the conscious.
We live on a volcano; we are always in danger. I agree
that the company of people whose mind is peaceful has
a very soothing affect, but as soon as I am away from
them, the old trouble starts. This is why I come periodically
to India to seek the company of my Guru.
M: You think you are coming and going, passing through
various states and moods. I see things as they are,
momentary events, presenting themselves to me in rapid
succession, deriving their being from me, yet definitely
neither me nor mine. Among phenomena I am not one,
nor subject to any. I am independent so simply and totally,
that your mind, accustomed to opposition and denial,
cannot grasp it. I mean literally what I say; I do not need
oppose, or deny, because it is clear to me that I cannot
be the opposite or denial of anything. I am just beyond,
in a different dimension altogether. Do not look for me in
identification with, or opposition to something: I am where
desire, and fear are not. Now, what is your experience?
Do you also feel that you stand totally aloof from all
Q: Yes, I do -- occasionally. But at once a sense of danger
sets in, I feel isolated, outside all relationship with others.
You see, here lies the difference in our mentalities. With
the Hindu, the emotion follows the thought. Give a Hindu
an idea and his emotions are roused. With the Westerner
it is the opposite: give him an emotion and he will produce
an idea. Your ideas are very attractive -- intellectually,
but emotionally I do not respond.
M: Set your intellect aside. Don't use it in these matters.
Q: Of what use is an advice which I cannot carry out?
These are all ideas and you want me to respond feelingly
to ideas, for without feelings there can be no action.
M: Why do you talk of action? Are you acting ever? Some
unknown power acts and you imagine that you are acting.
You are merely watching what happens, without being
able to influence it in any way.
Q: Why is there such a tremendous resistance in me against
accepting that I just can do nothing?
M: But what can you do? You are like a patient under
anaesthetics on whom a surgeon performs an operation.
When you wake up you find the operation over; can you
say you have done something?
Q: But it is me who has chosen to submit to an operation.
M: Certainly not. It is your illness on one side and the
pressure of your physician and family on the other that
have made you decide. You have no choice, only the
illusion of it.
Q: Yet I feel I am not as helpless as you make me appear.
I feel I can do everything I can think of, only I do not
know how. It is not the power I lack, but the knowledge.
M: Not knowing the means is admittedly as bad as not
having the power! But let us drop the subject for the
moment; after all it is not important why we feel helpless,
as long as we see clearly that for the time being we are
I am now 74 years old. And yet I feel that I am an infant.
I feel clearly that in spite of all the changes I am a child.
My Guru told me: that child, which is you even now, is your
real self (swarupa). Go back to that state of pure being,
where the 'I am' is still in its purity before it got contaminated
with 'this I am' or 'that I am'. Your burden is of false
self-identifications -- abandon them all. My Guru told me --
'Trust me. I tell you; you are divine. Take it as the absolute
truth. Your joy is divine, your suffering is divine too. All comes
from God. Remember it always. You are God, your will alone is
done'. I did believe him and soon realised how wonderfully true
and accurate were his words. I did not condition my mind by
thinking: 'I am God, I am wonderful, I am beyond'. I simply
followed his instruction which was to focus the mind on pure
being 'I am', and stay in it. I used to sit for hours together,
with, nothing but the 'I am' in my mind and soon peace and
joy and a deep all-embracing love became my normal state.
In it all disappeared -- myself, my Guru, the life I lived, the
world around me. Only peace remained and unfathomable
Q: It all looks very simple and easy, but it is just not so.
Sometimes the wonderful state of joyful peace dawns on
me and I look and wonder: how easily it comes and how
intimate it seems, how totally my own. Where was the
need to strive so hard for a state so near at hand? This
time, surely, it has come to stay. Yet how soon it all dissolves
and leaves me wondering -- was it a taste of reality or
another aberration. If it was reality, why did it go? Maybe
some unique experience is needed to fix me for good in the
new state and until the crucial experience comes, this game
of hide and seek must continue.
M: Your expectation of something unique and dramatic, of
some wonderful explosion, is merely hindering and delaying
your self-realisation. You are not to expect an explosion,
for the explosion has already happened -- at the moment
when you were born, when you realised yourself as being-
knowing feeling. There is only one mistake you are making:
you take the inner for the outer and the outer for the inner.
What is in you, you take to be outside you and what is outside,
you take to be in you. The mind and feelings are external, but
you take them to be intimate. You believe the world to be
objective, while it is entirely a projection of your psyche.
That is the basic confusion and no new explosion will set it right.
You have to think yourself out of it. There is no other way.
Q: How am I to think myself out when my thoughts come
and go as they like. Their endless chatter distracts and exhausts
M: Watch your thoughts as you watch the street traffic.
People come and go; you register without response. It may
not be easy in the beginning, but with some practice you
will find that your mind can function on many levels at the
same time and you can be aware of them all. It is only when
you have a vested interest in any particular level, that your
attention gets caught in it and you black out on other levels.
Even then the work on the blacked out levels goes on, outside
the field of consciousness. Do not struggle with your memories
and thoughts; try only to include in your field of attention the
other, more important questions, like 'Who am l?' 'How did I
happen to be born?' 'Whence this universe around me?'. 'What
is real and what is momentary?' No memory will persist, if you
lose interest in it, it is the emotional link that perpetuates the.
You are always seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, always after
happiness and peace. Don't you see that it is your very search
for happiness that makes you feel miserable? Try the other way:
indifferent to pain and pleasure, neither asking, nor refusing,
give all your attention to the level on which 'I am' is timelessly
present. Soon you will realise that peace and happiness are in
your very nature and it is only seeking them through some
particular channels, that disturbs. Avoid the disturbance,
that is all. To seek there is no need; you would not seek
what you already have. You yourself are God, the Supreme
Reality. To begin with, trust me, trust the Teacher. It enables
you to make the first step -- and then your trust is justified
by your own experience. In every walk of life initial trust is
essential; without it little can be done. Every undertaking is
an act of faith. Even your daily bread you eat on trust! By
remembering what I told you you will achieve everything. I am
telling you again: You are the all-pervading, all transcending
reality. Behave accordingly: think, feel and act in harmony
with the whole and the actual experience of what I say will
dawn upon you in no time. No effort is needed. Have faith
and act on it. Please see that I want nothing from you. It
is in your own interest that l speak, because above all you
love yourself, you want yourself secure and happy. Don't be
ashamed of it, don't deny it. It is natural and good to love
oneself. Only you should know what exactly do you love. It
is not the body that you love, it is Life --perceiving, feeling,
thinking, doing, loving, striving, creating. It is that Life you
love, which is you, which is all. realise it in its totality, beyond
all divisions and limitations, and all your desires will merge in it,
for the greater contains the smaller. Therefore find yourself,
for in finding that you find all. Everybody is glad to be.
But few know the fullness of it. You come to know by
dwelling in your mind on 'I am', 'I know', 'I love' -- with
the will of reaching the deepest meaning of these words.
Q: Can I think 'I am God'?
M: Don't identify yourself with an idea. If you mean by
God the Unknown, then you merely say: 'I do not know
what I am'. If you know God as you know your self, you
need not say it. Best is the simple feeling 'I am'. Dwell on
it patiently. Here patience is wisdom; don't think of failure.
There can be no failure in this undertaking.
Q: My thoughts will not let me.
M: Pay no attention. Don't fight them. Just do nothing
about them, let them be, whatever they are. Your very
fighting them gives them life. Just disregard. Look through.
Remember to remember: 'whatever happens -- happens
because I am'. All reminds you that you are. Take full
advantage of the fact that to experience you must be.
You need not stop thinking. Just cease being interested.
It is disinterestedness that liberates. Don't hold on, that
is all. The world is made of rings. The hooks are all yours.
Make straight your hooks and nothing can hold you. Give
up your addictions. There is nothing else to give up. Stop
your routine of acquisitiveness, your habit of looking for
results and the freedom of the universe is yours. Be
Q: Life is effort. There are so many things to do.
M: What needs doing, do it. Don't resist. Your balance
must be dynamic, based on doing just the right thing,
from moment to moment. Don't be a child unwilling to
grow up. Stereotyped gestures and postures will not
help you. Rely entirely on your clarity of thought, purity
of motive and integrity of action. You cannot possibly
go wrong . Go beyond and leave all behind.
Q: But can anything be left for good?
M: You want something like a round-the-clock ecstasy.
Ecstasies come and go, necessarily, for the human brain
cannot stand the tension for a long time. A prolonged
ecstasy will burn out your brain, unless it is extremely
pure and subtle. In nature nothing is at stand-still,
everything pulsates, appears and disappears. Heart,
breath, digestion, sleep and waking -- birth and death
everything comes and goes in waves. Rhythm, periodicity,
harmonious alternation of extremes is the rule. No use
rebelling against the very pattern of life. If you seek the
Immutable, go beyond experience. When I say: remember
'I am' all the time, I mean: 'come back to it repeatedly'.
No particular thought can be mind's natural state, only
silence. Not the idea of silence, but silence itself. When
the mind is in its natural state, it reverts to silence
spontaneously after every experience or, rather, every
experience happens against the background of silence.
Now, what you have learnt here becomes the seed.
You may forget it -- apparently. But it will live and in
due season sprout and grow and bring forth flowers and
fruits. All will happen by itself. You need not do anything,
only don't prevent it.
Posted by Grant Bishop at 5:54 PM