Questioner: I have come to be with you, rather than to listen. Little can be said in words, much more can be conveyed in silence.
Maharaj: First words, then silence. One must be ripe for silence.
Q: Can I live in silence?
M: Unselfish work leads to silence, for when you work selflessly, you don’t need to ask for help. Indifferent to results, you are willing to work with the most inadequate means. You do not care to be much gifted and well equipped. Nor do you ask for recognition and assistance. You just do what needs be done, leaving success and failure to the unknown. For everything is caused by innumerable factors, of which your personal endeavour is but one. Yet such is the magic of man’s mind and heart that the most improbable happens when human will and love pull together.
Q: What is wrong with asking for help when the work is worthy?
M: Where is the need of asking? It merely shows weakness and anxiety. Work on, and the universe will work with you. After all the very idea of doing the right thing comes to you from the unknown. Leave it to the unknown as far as the results go, just go through the necessary movements. You are merely one of the links in the long chain of causation. Fundamentally, all happens in the mind only. When you work for something whole-heartedly and steadily, it happens, for it is the function of the mind to make things happen. In reality nothing is lacking and nothing is needed, all work is on the surface only. In the depths there is perfect peace. All your problems arise because you have defined and therefore limited yourself. When you do not think yourself to be this or that, all conflict ceases. Any attempt to do something about your problems is bound to fail, for what is caused by desire can be undone only in freedom from desire. You have enclosed yourself in time and space, squeezed yourself into the span of a lifetime and the volume of a body and thus created the innumerable conflicts of life and death, pleasure and pain, hope and fear. You cannot be rid of problems without abandoning illusions.
Q: A person is naturally limited.
M: There is no such thing as a person. There are only restrictions and limitations. The sum total of these defines the person. You think you know yourself when you know what you are. But you never know who you are. The person merely appears to be, like the space within the pot appears to have the shape and volume and smell of the pot. See that you are not what you believe yourself to be. Fight with all the strength at your disposal against the idea that you are nameable and describable. You are not. Refuse to think of yourself in terms of this or that. There is no other way out of misery, which you have created for yourself through blind acceptance without investigation. Suffering is a call for enquiry, all pain needs investigation. Don’t be too lazy to think.
Q: Activity is the essence of reality. There is no virtue in not working. Along with thinking something must be done.
M: To work in the world is hard, to refrain from all unnecessary work is even harder.
Q: For the person I am all this seems impossible.
M: What do you know about yourself? You can only be what you are in reality; you can only appear what you are not. You have never moved away from perfection. All idea of self-improvement is conventional and verbal. As the sun knows not darkness, so does the self know not the non-self. It is the mind, which by knowing the other, becomes the other. Yet the mind is nothing else but the self. It is the self that becomes the other, the not-self, and yet remains the self. All else is an assumption. Just as a cloud obscures the sun without in any way affecting it, so does assumption obscure reality without destroying it. The very idea of destruction of reality is ridiculous; the destroyer is always more real than the destroyed. Reality is the ultimate destroyer. All separation, every kind of estrangement and alienation is false. All is one — this is the ultimate solution of every conflict.
Q: How is it that in spite of so much instruction and assistance we make no progress?
M: As long as we imagine ourselves to be separate personalities, one quite apart from another, we cannot grasp reality which is essentially impersonal. First we must know ourselves as witnesses only, dimensionless and timeless centres of observation, and then realise that immense ocean of pure awareness, which is both mind and matter and beyond both.
Q: Whatever I may be in reality, yet I feel myself to be a small and separate person, one amongst many.
M: Your being a person is due to the illusion of space and time; you imagine yourself to be at a certain point occupying a certain volume; your personality is due to your self-identification with the body. Your thoughts and feelings exist in succession, they have their span in time and make you imagine yourself, because of memory, as having duration. In reality time and space exist in you; you do not exist in them. They are modes of perception, but they are not the only ones. Time and space are like words written on paper; the paper is real, the words merely a convention. How old are you?
M: What makes you say forty-eight? What makes you say: I am here? Verbal habits born from assumptions. The mind creates time and space and takes its own creations for reality. All is here and now, but we do not see it. Truly, all is in me and by me. There is nothing else. The very idea of ‘else’ is a disaster and a calamity.
Q: What is the cause of personification, of self-limitation in time and space?
M: That which does not exist cannot have a cause. There is no such thing as a separate person. Even taking the empirical point of view, it is obvious that everything is the cause of everything, that everything is as it is, because the entire universe is as it is.
Q: Yet personality must have a cause.
M: How does personality, come into being? By memory. By identifying the present with the past and projecting it into the future. Think of yourself as momentary, without past and future and your personality dissolves.
Q: Does not ‘I am’ remain?
M: The word ‘remain’ does not apply. ‘I am’ is ever afresh. You do not need to remember in order to be. As a matter of fact, before you can experience anything, there must be the sense of being. At present your being is mixed up with experiencing. All you need is to unravel being from the tangle of experiences. Once you have known pure being, without being this or that, you will discern it among experiences and you will no longer be misled by names and forms. Self-limitation is the very essence of personality.
Q: How can I become universal?
M: But you are universal. You need not and you cannot become what you are already. Only cease imagining yourself to be the particular. What comes and goes has no being. It owes its very appearance to reality. You know that there is a world, but does the world know you? All knowledge flows from you, as all being and all joy. Realise that you are the eternal source and accept all as your own. Such acceptance is true love.
Q: All you say sounds very beautiful. But how has one to make it into a way of living?
M: Having never left the house you are asking for the way home. Get rid of wrong ideas, that is all. Collecting right ideas also will take you nowhere. Just cease imagining.
Q: It is not a matter of achievement, but of understanding.
M: Don’t try to understand! Enough if you do not misunderstand. Don’t rely on your mind for liberation. It is the mind that brought you into bondage. Go beyond it altogether.
What is beginningless cannot have a cause. It is not that you knew what you are and then you have forgotten. Once you know, you cannot forget. Ignorance has no beginning, but can have an end. Enquire: who is ignorant and ignorance will dissolve like a dream. The world is full of contradictions, hence your search for harmony and peace. These you cannot find in the world, for the world is the child of chaos. To find order you must search within. The world comes into being only when you are born in a body. No body — no world. First enquire whether you are the body. The understanding of the world will come later.
Q: What you say sounds convincing, but of what use is it to the private person, who knows itself to be in the world and of the world?
M: Millions eat bread, but few know all about wheat. And only those who know can improve the bread. Similarly, only those who know the self, who have seen beyond the world, can improve the world. Their value to private persons is immense, for they are their only hope of salvation. What is in the world cannot save the world; if you really care to help the world you must step out of it.
Q: But can one step out of the world?
M: Who was born first, you or the world? As long as you give first place to the world, you are bound by it; once you realise, beyond all trace of doubt that the world is in you and not you in the world, you are out of it. Of course your body remains in the world and of the world, but you are not deluded by it. All scriptures say that before the world was, the Creator was. Who knows the Creator? He alone who was before the Creator, your own real being, the source of all the worlds with their creators.
Q: All you say is held together by your assumption that the world is your own projection. You admit that you mean your personal, subjective world, the world given you through your senses and your mind. In that sense each one of us lives in a world of his own projection. These private worlds hardly touch each other and they arise from and merge into the ‘I am’ at their centre. But surely behind these private worlds there must be a common objective world, of which the private worlds are mere shadows. Do you deny the existence of such an objective world, common to all?
M: Reality is neither subjective nor objective, neither mind nor matter, neither time nor space. These divisions need somebody to whom to happen, a conscious separate centre. But reality is all and nothing, the totality and the exclusion, the fullness and the emptiness, fully consistent, absolutely paradoxical. You cannot speak about it, you can only lose your self in it. When you deny reality to anything, you come to a residue which cannot be denied. All talk of jnana is a sign of ignorance. It is the mind that imagines that it does not know and then comes to know. Reality knows nothing of these contortions. Even the idea of God as the Creator is false. Do I owe my being to any other being? Because I am, all is.
Q: How can it be? A child is born into the world, not the world into the child. The world is old and the child is new.
M: The child is born into your world. Now, were you born into your world, or did your world appear to you? To be born means to create a world round yourself as the centre. But do you ever create yourself? Or did anyone create you? Everyone creates a world for himself and lives in it, imprisoned by one’s ignorance. All we have to do is to deny reality to our prison.
Q: Just as the waking state exists in seed form during sleep, so does the world the child creates on being born exist before its birth. With whom does the seed lie?
M: With him who is the witness of birth and death, but is neither born nor dies. He alone is the seed of creation as well as its residue. Don’t ask the mind to confirm what is beyond the mind. Direct experience is the only valid confirmation.
From I Am That, Chapter 45
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