25. Hold on to ‘I am’
Questioner: Are you ever glad or sad? Do you know joy and sorrow?
Maharaj: Call them as you please. To me they are states of mind only, and I am not the mind.
Q: Is love a state of mind?
M: Again, it depends what you mean by love. Desire is, of course, a state of mind. But the realization of unity is beyond mind. To me, nothing exists by itself. All is the Self, all is myself. To see myself in everybody and everybody in myself most certainly is love.
Q: When I see something pleasant, I want it. Who exactly wants it? The self or the mind?
M: The question is wrongly put. There is no 'who'. There is desire, fear, anger, and the mind says -- this is me, this is mine. There is no thing which could be called 'me' or 'mine'. Desire is a state of the mind, perceived and named by the mind. Without the mind perceiving and naming, where is desire?
Q: But is there such a thing as perceiving without naming?
M: Of course. Naming cannot go beyond the mind, while perceiving is consciousness itself.
Q: When somebody dies what exactly happens?
M: Nothing happens. Something becomes nothing. Nothing was, nothing remains.
Q: Surely there is a difference between the living and the dead. You speak of the living as dead and of the dead as living.
M: Why do you fret at one man dying and care little for the millions dying every day? Entire universes are imploding and exploding every moment -- am I to cry over them? One thing is quite clear to me: all that is, lives and moves and has its being in consciousness and I am in and beyond that consciousness. I am in it as the witness. I am beyond it as Being.
Q: Surely, you care when your child is ill, don't you?
M: I don't get flustered. I just do the needful. I do not worry about the future. A right response to every situation is in my nature. I do not stop to think what to do. I act and move on. Results do not affect me. I do not even care, whether they are good or bad. Whatever they are, they are -- if they come back to me, I deal with them afresh. Or, rather, I happen to deal with them afresh. There is no sense of purpose in my doing anything. Things happens as they happen -- not because I make them happen, but it is because I am that they happen. In reality nothing ever happens. When the mind is restless, it makes Shiva dance, like the restless waters of the lake make the moon dance. It is all appearance, due to wrong ideas.
Q: Surely, you are aware of many things and behave according to their nature. You treat a child as a child and an adult as an adult.
M: Just as the taste of salt pervades the great ocean and every single drop of sea-water carries the same flavour, so every experience gives me the touch of reality, the ever fresh realization of my own being.
Q: Do I exist in your world, as you exist in mine?
M: Of course, you are and I am. But only as points in consciousness; we are nothing apart from consciousness. This must be well grasped: the world hangs on the thread of consciousness; no consciousness, no world.
Q: There are many points in consciousness; are there as many worlds?
M: Take dream for an example. In a hospital there may be many patients, all sleeping, all dreaming, each dreaming his own private, personal dreams unrelated, unaffected, having one single factor in common -- illness. Similarly, we have divorced ourselves in our imagination from the real world of common experience and enclosed ourselves in a cloud of personal desire and fears, images and thoughts, ideas and concepts.
Q: This I can understand. But what could be the cause of the tremendous variety of the personal worlds?
M: The variety is not so great. All the dreams are superimposed over a common world. To some extent they shape and influence each other. The basic unity operates in spite of all. At the root of it all lies self-forgetfulness; not knowing who I am.
Q: To forget, one must know. Did I know who I am, before I forgot it?
M: Of course. Self-forgetting is inherent in self-knowing. Consciousness and unconsciousness are two aspects of one life. They co-exist. To know the world you forget the self -- to know the self you forget the world. What is world after all? A collection of memories. Cling to one thing, that matters, hold on to 'I am' and let go all else. This is sadhana. In realization there is nothing to hold on to and nothing to forget. Everything is known, nothing is remembered.
Q: What is the cause of self-forgetting?
M: There is no cause, because there is no forgetting. Mental states succeed one another, and each obliterates the previous one. Self-remembering is a mental state and self-forgetting is another. They alternate like day and night. Reality is beyond both.
Q: Surely there must be a difference between forgetting and not knowing. Not knowing needs no cause. Forgetting presupposes previous knowledge and also the tendency or ability to forget. I admit I cannot enquire into the reason for not-knowing, but forgetting must have some ground.
M: There is no such thing as not-knowing. There is only forgetting. What is wrong with forgetting? It is as simple to forget as to remember.
Q: Is it not a calamity to forget oneself?
M: As bad as to remember oneself continuously. There is a state beyond forgetting and not-forgetting -- the natural state. To remember, to forget -- these are all states of mind, thoughtbound, word-bound. Take for example, the idea of being born. I am told I was born. I do not remember. I am told I shall die I do not expect it. You tell me I have forgotten, or I lack imagination. But I just cannot remember what never happened, nor expect the patently impossible. Bodies are born and bodies die, but what is it to me? Bodies come and go in consciousness and consciousness itself has its roots in me. I am life and mine are mind and body.
Q: You say at the root of the world is self-forgetfulness. To forget I must remember What did I forget to remember? I have not forgotten that I am.
M: This 'I am' too may be a part of the illusion.
Q. How can it be? You cannot prove to me that I am not. Even when convinced that I am not -- I am.
M: Reality can neither be proved nor disproved. Within the mind you cannot, beyond the mind you need not. In the real, the question 'what is real?' does not arise. The manifested (saguna) and unmanifested (nirguna) are not different.
Q: In that case all is real.
M: I am all. As myself all is real. Apart from me, nothing is real.
Q: I do not feel that the world is the result of a mistake.
M: You may say so only after a full investigation, not before. Of course, when you discern and let go all that is unreal, what remains is real.
Q: Does anything remain?
M: The real remains. But don't be mislead by words!
Q: Since immemorial time, during innumerable births, I build and improve and beautify my world. It is neither perfect, nor unreal. It is a process.
M: You are mistaken. The world has no existence apart from you. At every moment it is but a reflection of yourself. You create it, you destroy it.
Q: And build it again, improved.
M: To improve it, you must disprove it. One must die to live. There is no rebirth, except through death.
Q: Your universe may be perfect. My personal universe is improving.
M: Your personal universe does not exist by itself. It is merely a limited and distorted view of the real. It is not the universe that needs improving, but your way of looking.
Q: How do you view it?
M: It is a stage on which a world drama is being played. The quality of the performance is all that matters; not what the actors say and do, but how they say and do it.
Q: I do not like this lila (play) idea I would rather compare the world to a work-yard in which we are the builders.
M: You take it too seriously. What is wrong with play? You have a purpose only as long as you are not complete (purna); till then completeness, perfection, is the purpose. But when you are complete in yourself, fully integrated within and without, then you enjoy the universe; you do not labour at it. To the disintegrated you may seem working hard, but that is their illusion. Sportsmen seem to make tremendous efforts: yet their sole motive is to play and display.
Q: Do you mean to say that God is just having fun, that he is engaged in purposeless action?
M: God is not only true and good, he is also beautiful (satyam-shivam-sundaram). He creates beauty -- for the joy of It
Q: Well, then beauty is his purpose!
M: Why do you introduce purpose? Purpose implies movement, change, a sense of imperfection. God does not aim at beauty -- whatever he does is beautiful. Would you say that a flower is trying to be beautiful? It is beautiful by its very nature. Similarly God is perfection itself, not an effort at perfection.
Q: The purpose fulfils itself in beauty.
M: What is beautiful? Whatever is perceived blissfully is beautiful. Bliss is the essence of beauty.
Q: You speak of Sat-Chit-Ananda. That I am is obvious. That I know is obvious. That I am happy is not at all obvious. Where has my happiness gone?
M: Be fully aware of your own being and you will be in bliss consciously. Because you take your mind off yourself and make it dwell on what you are not, you lose your sense of well-being of being well.
Q: There are two paths before us -- the path of effort (yoga marga), and the path of ease (bhoga marga). Both lead to the same goal -- liberation.
M: Why do you call bhoga a path? How can ease bring you perfection?
Q: The perfect renouncer (yogi) will find reality. The perfect enjoyer (bhogi) also will come to it.
M: How can it be? Aren't they contradictory?
Q: The extremes meet. To be a perfect Bhogi is more difficult than to be a perfect Yogi. I am a humble man and cannot venture judgements of value. Both the Yogi and the Bhogi, after all, are concerned with the search for happiness. The Yogi wants it permanent, the Bhogi is satisfied with the intermittent. Often the Bhogi strives harder than the Yogi.
M: What is your happiness worth when you have to strive and labour for it? True happiness is spontaneous and effortless.
Q: All beings seek happiness. The means only differ. Some seek it within and are therefore called Yogis; some seek it without and are condemned as Bhogis. Yet they need each other.
M: Pleasure and pain alternate. Happiness is unshakable. What you can seek and find is not the real thing. Find what you have never lost, find the inalienable.