Awakening to Total Revolution – Vimala Thakar

Enlightenment and the World Crisis

Awakening to Total Revolution

In a time when the survival of the human race is in question, to continue with the status quo is to cooperate with insanity, to contribute to chaos. When darkness engulfs the spirit of the people, it is urgent for concerned people to awaken, to rise to revolution.

The cleverness of the human mind has led us to the complex, horrifying, and all-encompassing crisis that we now face. The familiar solutions, based on a limited view of what a human being is, continue to fail, to be pathetically inadequate. Yet we pour vast resources into these tired solutions and feel that if we achieve a grand enough scale, the old solutions will meet the new challenges. Do we have the courage to see failures as failures and leave them to the past? Do we have the vitality to go beyond narrow, one-sided views of human life and to open ourselves to totality and wholeness? The call of the hour is to move beyond the fragmentary, to awaken to total revolution.

The call is not to one of the revolutionary formulas of the past; they have failed—why drag them out again even in new regalia? The challenge now is to create an entirely new, vital revolution that takes the whole of life into its sphere. We have never dared embrace the whole of life in all its awesome beauty; we’ve been content to perpetuate fragments, invent corners where we feel conceptually secure and emotionally safe. We could have our safe little nooks and niches were it not for the terrible mess we have made by attempting to break the cosmic wholeness into bite-size bits. It’s an ugly chaos we have created, and we try to remedy the complicated situation with the most superficial of patched-together cures.

Today, with the scars of our past failures marring our existence and the fears of the future weighing heavily on our spirits, we can no longer go on with this dangerous game of fragmentation. We can no longer escape the fact that we are all bonded, equal in wholeness. Science and technology have brought each of us into intimate relationship with all others. We are truly a global human family. Yet as a family, we have not learned how to live together in peace, to live without violence and exploitation. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Bertrand Russell wrote: “Man knows how to fly in the air like a bird, he knows how to swim in water like the fish, but how to live among other human beings, he does not know.”

Penetrating to the Roots of Conflict

Even though our very survival is in question, we tend to look at the crisis superficially, emotionally, sentimentally. We have tried in subtle ways to absolve ourselves of any deep responsibility for the condition of the human family. We perceive ourselves, or our small identity groups, as truly sincere and peace-loving, and we ascribe to outsiders, to those apart, to power-hungry villains, responsibility for aggression and wars.

Yet as members of societies that are prepared for war, how can we set ourselves apart as peace-loving and the others as violent? This is, however, what we attempt to do. We see on the television or hear on the radio news about massacres and wars taking place in different countries, and we feel how stupid it is to wage war and wonder why the politicians and the statesmen don’t have the wisdom to stop all this nonsense. This is the reaction perhaps of every sensitive citizen of the world. But who wages war? Where are the roots of war? Are they in the minds of a handful of individuals ruling over their respective countries? Or are the roots of war in the systems that we have created and have been living by for centuries—the economic, the political, the administrative, the industrial systems? If we are not romantic and sentimental, and do not feel gratified just by reacting emotionally, by expressing how bad the wars are, but rather go deep, won’t we find the roots of war in the systems and structures that we have accepted?

We will discover that there are systems and structures that inevitably lead to aggression, exploitation, and war. We have accepted aggression as a way of living. We create and entrench ourselves in structures which culminate in wars. Retaining the structures and avoiding wars is not possible. You and I as individuals have to realize how we are responsible, how we cooperate with the systems and thereby participate in the violence and wars. And then we must begin to inquire whether we can discontinue cooperating with the systems, whether we can stop participating in wars, and explore alternative ways of living for ourselves.

We must go to the roots of the problem, to the core of the human psyche, recognizing that collective social action begins with action in individual life. We cannot separate the individual and the society. We each contain the society when we accept the value structure of society, when we accept the priorities worked out for us by governments and the states and the political parties. We are expressions of the collective, repeating the pattern created for us, and we feel happy because we are given physical security, economic security, comfort, leisure, entertainment. We have been trained to be obsessed with the idea of security; the idea of tomorrow haunts us much more than the responsibility for today.

Going Beyond Fragmentation

If there is a willingness to face these unpleasant facts, and be with these facts, then we can proceed. If we enter into self-pity and depression, then negativity may lead to cynicism and bitterness against others and bitterness against the system. And releasing such negative energy does not help solve the problems. We have to stick with the facts as they are. Whether we like it or not, we are responsible participants in what is happening in the world.

If we sanction violence in our hearts, we are going to cooperate with whomever is waging war. We are participants because psychologically we sanction violence. If we really want to put an end to warfare, we need to explore deep into the human psyche where the roots of violence have a stronghold. Unless we find the roots of violence, ambition, and jealousy, we will not find our way out of chaos. Failure to eliminate their roots will doom us to endless miserable repetitions of the failures of the past. We must see that the inner and the outer are delicately intertwined in a totality and that we cannot deal with the one successfully without the other. The structures and systems condition the inner consciousness, and the conditionings of the consciousness create the structures and systems. We cannot carve out one part of the relationship, make it bright and beautiful, and ignore the rest. The forces of human societal conditionings are powerfully entrenched; they will not be ignored.

Traditionally, there have been two separate approaches. One approach takes us toward the social, the economic, the political problems, and says, “Look here, unless the economic and political problems are solved, there will be no happiness and no peace, there will be no end to suffering. It is the responsibility of every individual to engage in solving these problems according to some ideology. Turning toward the inner life, the imbalances and impurities of the inner life, that is not so important, that can be taken care of later on, for it is a self-centered, egoistic activity. But the responsibility is toward the society, toward the human race, so keep aside all those problems of meditation and silence, inner sophistication, transformation for inner revolution—keep all that aside. First turn toward this.” And the other approach says, “The political and economic problems cannot be solved unless the individual is transformed totally. Be concerned with your psychological mutation, the inner, radical revolution. The political, the economic, the social problems can wait.”

People have generally followed one or the other of these two conventional approaches: religious groups concerned with inner growth and inner revolution, and social activist groups concerned with social service. Traditionally we have created boundaries, and exploration beyond our home territories has been only superficial. The social activists have staked out their territory, the outer life—the socioeconomic, political structures—and the spiritual people have staked out theirs—the inner world of higher dimensions of consciousness, transcendental experiences, and meditation. The two groups, throughout history, have been contemptuous of each other. The social activists consider the spiritual inquirers to be self-indulgent, and the inquirers consider the activists to be caught in a race of activity, denying the essence of living. Traditional spiritual leaders have divided life into worldly and spiritual, and have insisted that the world is illusion. They said, “This world is maya, is an illusion. So whatever action you take should be in relation to the absolute truth and not in relation to maya.” Thus a religious person sitting in meditation for ten hours a day need not mind the tyranny or the exploitation or the cruelties surrounding him. He would say, “That’s not my responsibility. It’s God’s responsibility. God has created the world. He or She will take care of it.”

There have been superficial blendings, as spiritual groups take up social service work and social activists join religious organizations, but a real integration of social action and spirituality at a deep, innovative level has not yet happened to any significant degree. The history of human development has been fragmentary, and the majority of people have been content with the fragmentation. It has the sanction of society. Each fragment of society has its own set of values. Among many social activists, anger, hatred, violence, bitterness, and cynicism are accepted norms, even though the effectiveness of these motivations for peaceful living has been seriously put in doubt. And indifference to the needs of the poor has had shocking acceptance among generations of spiritual people who considered higher states of consciousness much more significant than the misery of the starving millions.

A new challenge awaits us at the beginning of the twenty-first century: to go beyond fragmentation, to go beyond the incompatible sets of values held even by serious-minded people, to mature beyond the self-righteousness of one’s accepted approaches and be open to total living and total revolution. In this era, to become a spiritual inquirer without social consciousness is a luxury that we can ill afford, and to be a social activist without a scientific understanding of the inner workings of the mind is the worst folly. Neither approach in isolation has had any significant success. There is no question now that an inquirer will have to make an effort to be socially conscious or that an activist will have to be persuaded of the moral crisis in the human psyche, the significance of being attentive to the inner life. The challenge awaiting us is to go much deeper as human beings, to abandon superficial prejudices and preferences, to expand understanding to a global scale, integrating the totality of living, and to become aware of the wholeness of which we are a manifestation.

As we deepen in understanding, the arbitrary divisions between inner and outer disappear. The essence of life, the beauty and grandeur of life, is its wholeness. Life in reality cannot be divided into the inner and the outer, the individual and social. We may make arbitrary divisions for the convenience of collective life, for analysis, but essentially any division between inner and outer has no reality, no meaning.

We have accepted the watertight compartments of society, the fragmentation of living as factual and necessary. We live in relationship to these fragments and accept the internalized divisions—the various roles we play, the contradictory value systems, the opposing motives and priorities—as reality. We are at odds with ourselves internally; we believe that the inner is fundamentally different from the outer, that what is me is quite separate from the not-me, that divisions among people and nations are necessary, and yet we wonder why there are tensions, conflicts, wars in the world. The conflicts begin with minds that believe in fragmentation and are ignorant of wholeness.

A holistic approach is a recognition of the homogeneity and wholeness of life. Life is not fragmented; it is not divided. It cannot be divided into spiritual and material, individual and collective. We cannot create compartments in life—political, economic, social, environmental. Whatever we do or don’t do affects and touches the wholeness, the homogeneity. We are forever organically related to wholeness. We are wholeness, and we move in wholeness. The awareness of oneness refuses to recognize separateness. So the holistic approach de-recognizes all the fragmentation in the name of religion or spirituality, all the compartmentalization in the name of social sciences, all the division in the name of politics, all the separation in the name of ideologies. When we understand the truth, we won’t cling to the false. As soon as we recognize the false as the false, we no longer give any value to it. We de-recognize it in daily living. A psychic and psychological de-recognition of all manner of fragmentation is the beginning of positive social action.

When awareness of the totality, of wholeness, dawns upon the heart, and there is awareness of the relationship of every being to every other, then there is no longer any possibility of taking an exclusive approach to a fragment and getting stuck there. As soon as there is awareness of wholeness, every moment becomes sacred, every movement is sacred. The sense of oneness is no longer an intellectual connection. We will in all our actions be whole, total, natural, without effort. Every action or nonaction will have the perfume of wholeness.

Inner Freedom Is a Social Responsibility

Viewing the world as a large pieced-together collection of fragments, some of which are labeled as friend and others as foe, begins internally. We map out our internal territories with the same positive or negative designations as we do external territories, and wars go on there as they do in the world. Internally, we are divided against ourselves; the emotions want one thing, the intellect another, the impulses of the body yet another, and a conflict takes place which is no different in quality, although it is in scale, from that of the world wars. If we are not related to ourselves in wholeness, is it any surprise that we cannot perceive the wholeness of the world? If we believe ourselves each to be a patched-together, unmatched assortment of desirable and undesirable features, motives at odds with each other, undigested beliefs and prejudices, fears, and insecurities, will we not project all this on the world?

Because the source of human conflict, social injustice, and exploitation is in the human psyche, we must begin there to transform society. We investigate the mind, the human psyche, not as an end in itself, as a self-centered activity, but as an act of compassion for the whole human race. We must move deep to the source of decay in society so that the new structures and social systems we design will have a sufficiently healthy root system that they will have an opportunity to flourish. The structures of society need to be transformed, but the hidden motivations and assumptions on which the structures rest need to be transformed as well. The individual and collective values and motives that give sanction to the injustice and exploitation of modern society must become the focus of change as much as the socioeconomic and political structures. We no longer will be able to allow the motivations and values that underlie personal and collective behavior to remain hidden and unexamined. It serves no lasting purpose for us to change the surface structures and behaviors while the deep foundations remain decadent and unsound.

Those of us who have dedicated our lives to social action have considered our personal morality and ethics, our motives and habits, to be private territory. We not only want our personal motivations and habits cut off from public view, but from our own recognition as well. But in truth, the inner life is not a private or personal thing; it’s very much a social issue. The mind is a result of collective human effort. There is not your mind and my mind; it’s a human mind. It’s a collective human mind, organized and standardized through centuries. The values, the norms, the criteria are patterns of behavior organized by collective groups. There is nothing personal or private about them. We may close the doors to our rooms and feel that nobody knows our thoughts, but what we do in so-called privacy affects the life around us. If we spend our days victimized by negative energies and negative thoughts, if we yield to depression, melancholia, and bitterness, these energies pollute the atmosphere. Where then is privacy? We need to learn, as a social responsibility, to look at the mind as something that has been created collectively and to recognize that our individual expressions are expressions of the human mind.

Inner freedom from the past, from the thought structure, from the organized, standardized collective mind, is absolutely necessary if we are to meet one another without mistrust or distrust, without fear, to look at each other spontaneously, to listen to one another without any inhibition whatsoever. The study of mind and the exploration of inner freedom is not something utopian, is not something self-centered, but it is urgently necessary so that we as human beings can transcend the barriers that regimentation of thought has created between us. Then we will perceive ourselves, each as an unlabeled human being; not an Indian, an American, a capitalist, or a communist—but as a human being, a miniature wholeness. We have not yet learned to do that. We are together on this small planet, and yet we cannot live together. Physically we are near one another, and psychologically we are miles apart. Clearly the social responsibility for arriving at inner freedom is a very relevant issue. We study the mind because we want the harmony of peace to prevail, because we need the joy of love in our hearts, because we care about the quality of life our children will inherit. We do not undertake such study because we want something new and esoteric for the ego, some transcendental experiences to enhance our self-image. We study the mind as a social responsibility; we recognize that the roots of violence, injustice, exploitation, and greed are in the human psyche, and we turn our clear, precise, objective attention there.

We are related organically, and we have to live that relationship. To be attentive to the dynamics of the inner being is not creating a network of escapes to avoid responsibility. It is not continuing a false superiority that I am sensitive and you are not. It is simply recognizing that our personal relationships and collective relationships are miserable affairs, and that these relationships stimulate fear and anxieties and throw us on the defensive. However much we yearn for peace, emotionally we are not mature enough for peace, and our immaturity affects everything we do, every action we take, even the most worthy of actions.

The elimination of inner disorder takes place in the lives of those who are interested in being truly creative, vital, and passionate whole human beings, and who recognize that inner anarchy and chaos drains energy and manifests in shabby, shoddy behavior in society. To be attentive requires tremendous love of living. It is not for those who choose to drift through life or for those who feel that charitable acts in society justify ugly inward ways of being. The total revolution we are examining is not for the timid or the self-righteous. It is for those who love truth more than pretense. It is for those who sincerely, humbly want to find a way out of this mess that we, each one of us, have created out of indifference, carelessness, and lack of moral courage.

The Choice Is Ours

Most of us are not aware of our motivations for living or our priorities for action. We drift with the tides of societal fashions, floating in and out of social concerns at the whim of societal dictates and on the basis of images created by the media or superficial, personal desires to be helpful, useful persons. We are used to living at the surface, afraid of the depths, and therefore our actions and concerns about humanity are shallow, fragile vessels easily damaged. Ultimately most of us are concerned chiefly with our small lives, our collection of sensual pleasures, our personal salvation, and our anxiety about sickness and death, rather than the misery created by collective indifference and callousness.

We have reached the point, however, where we no longer have the luxury to indulge in self-centered comfort and personal acquisition or to escape into religious pursuits at the cost of collective interests. For us there can be no escape, no withdrawal, no private arena in which we can turn our backs on the sorrows of humanity, saying, “I am not responsible. Others have created a mess; let them mend it.” The writing on the world’s wall is plain: “Learn to live together or in separateness you die!” The choice is ours.

The world today forces us to accept, at least intellectually, our oneness, our interrelatedness. And more and more people are awakening to the urgency of arresting the accelerating madness around us. As yet, however, our ways of responding are superficial, unequal to the complexities of the challenge. We do not take or even consider actions that threaten our security or alter our habitual ways of drifting through life. If we continue to live carelessly, indifferently, emphasizing private gain and personal indulgence, we are essentially opting for the suicide of humanity.

We can become involved in many acts of social service, according to our resources, without ever moving one inch from the center of our private interests; in fact, the very act of social service typically enhances self-image and self-centeredness. But we cannot become involved in true social action, which strikes at the roots of problems in the society and in the human psyche, without moving away from ego-centered motivation. We must look deep into the network of personal motivations and discover what our priorities are. Our yearning for peace must be so urgent that we are willing to free ourselves from the immaturity of ego-centered action, willing to grow into the sane maturity required to face the complex challenges that affect our existence. If we are motivated by desire for acceptance either by the dominant culture or the counterculture, clarity of right action and passion of precise purpose will not be there. We may be praised for our contributions, but unless there is a deep awareness of the essence of our lives, a penetrating clarity about the meaning of human existence, our contributions will not penetrate to the roots of human misery.

To be ready for social responsibility, we will have to be mercilessly honest with ourselves. Wherever we are, we are responsible to resist injustice, to be willing to put our comforts, securities, our lives at stake in fearless noncooperation with injustice and exploitation. If we adopt all the habit patterns of the enslaved—the fear, the acceptance of tyranny, the intellectual and emotional blindness to injustice—we deserve the inevitable consequences that are descending upon us in a dark storm cloud. If we are submissive, clinging to our small islands of security, naturally terror will reign. If we are willing to allow all others to perish—the peoples of other countries, races, castes, cultures, religions; the other creatures of the earth—so that we may flourish and endlessly increase our network of pleasures and comforts, obviously we are doomed to rot and decay. The callousness of letting others be abused so that our petty little lives will be undisturbed, so that all the comforts of a lovely home, pleasant meals, and good entertainment will not be threatened, portends doom for us all.

When we come face-to-face with the actualities of human and planetary suffering, what does the powerful moment of truth do to us? Do we retreat into the comforts of theories and defense mechanisms, or are we awakened at the core of our being? Awareness of misery, without defense structures, will naturally lead to action. The heart cannot witness misery without calling the being to action, without activating the force of love. We may not act on a global or national scale; it may be only on a community or neighborhood scale—but act, respond, we must. Social responsibility flowers naturally when we perceive the world without the involvement of the ego-consciousness. When we relate directly to suffering, we are led to understanding and spontaneous action—but when we perceive the world through the ego, we are cut off from direct relationship, from communion that stirs the deepest level of our being.

The Force of Love Is the Force of Total Revolution

A tender, loving concern for all living creatures will need to arise and reign in our hearts if any of us is to survive. And our lives will be truly blessed only when the misery of one is genuinely felt to be the misery of all. The force of love is the force of total revolution. It is the unreleased force, unknown and unexplored as a dynamic for change.

We have moved very far away from love in our collective lives, dangerously near destruction, close to starvation. Perhaps we have the wisdom now, the awareness that love is as essential to human beings as the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. Love is the beauty, the delicate mystery, the soul of life, the radiant unspoiled purity that brings spontaneous joy, songs of ecstasy, poems, paintings, dances, dramas to celebrate its indescribable, never-to-be-fully-captured bliss of being. Can we bring love into the marketplaces, into the homes, the schools, the places of business, and transform them completely? You may call it a utopian challenge, but it is the only one that will make a significant difference or that is fully worthy of the potential of whole human beings.

Compassion is a spontaneous movement of wholeness. It is not a studied decision to help the poor, to be kind to the unfortunate. Compassion has a tremendous momentum that naturally, choicelessly moves us to worthy action. It has the force of intelligence, creativity, and the strength of love. Compassion cannot be cultivated; it derives neither from intellectual conviction nor from emotional reaction. It is simply there when the wholeness of life becomes a fact that is truly lived.

Compassion does not manifest itself when we live on the surface of existence, when we try to piece together a comfortable life out of easily available fragments. Compassion requires a plunge to the depths of life—where oneness is reality and divisions merely an illusion. If we dwell at the superficial layers of being, we’ll be overly conscious of the apparent differences in human beings on the physical and mental level, and of the superficial difference in cultures and behavior. If we penetrate to the essentials, however, we will discover that there is nothing fundamental that differentiates any human being from another, or any human being from any other living creature. All are manifestations of life, created with the same life principles and nurtured by the same life-support systems. Oneness is absolute reality; differentiation has only transitory, relative reality.

It is not sufficient that a few in society penetrate to the depths of living and offer fascinating accounts about the oneness of all beings. What is necessary in these critical times is that all sensitive and caring people make a personal discovery of the fact of oneness and allow compassion to flow in their lives. When compassion and realization of oneness becomes the dynamic of human relationship, then humankind will evolve.

We are suffering throughout the world in the darkness of the misery we have created. By believing in the fragmentary and the superficial, we have failed to live together in peace and harmony, and so darkness looms very large on the horizon. It’s in such darkness that common people such as you and I feel the urgency to go deeper, to abandon superficial approaches that are inadequate and to activate the creative forces available to each of us as expressions of wholeness. The vast intelligence that orders the cosmos is available to all. The beauty of life, the wonder of living, is that we share creativity, intelligence, and unlimited potential with the rest of the cosmos. If the universe is vast and mysterious, we are vast and mysterious. If it contains innumerable creative energies, we contain innumerable creative energies. If it has healing energies, we also have healing energies. To realize that we are not simply physical beings on a material planet, but that we are whole beings, each a miniature cosmos, each related to all of life in intimate, profound ways, should radically transform how we perceive ourselves, our environments, our social problems. Nothing can ever be isolated from wholeness.

There is much unexplored potential in each human being. We are not just flesh and bone or an amalgamation of conditionings. If this were so, our future on this planet would not be very bright. But there is infinitely more to life, and each passionate being who dares to explore beyond the fragmentary and superficial into the mystery of totality helps all humanity perceive what it is to be fully human. Revolution, total revolution, implies experimenting with the impossible. And when an individual takes a step in the direction of the new, the impossible, the whole human race travels through that individual.

– Vimala Thakar

This essay was originally posted on:  http://www.enlightennext.org/magazine/j19/vimala.asp?page=1

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That NOW Which is the Harmony of Reason and Love – J. Krishnamurti

The following was a morning talk given in Ommen, Holland in 1929.

This morning I want to go over the whole of my subject in a condensed form, so that if you will use your keenest intelligence there will be no possibility of misunderstanding. It is very difficult to pierce through the illusion of words. Many of you here understand English and many do not; but even those who understand English will interpret the words in their own manner, and that is where the difficulty lies. I wish it were possible to invent a new language! Please give me your intelligent attention, analyze, criticize and make up your minds. Either what I say is entirely false or it is entirely true. If it is false, then every one of you must shout it down, destroy it. If it is true, then everything else must go, because Truth cannot exist with, cannot be set beside falsehood. Truth and falsehood cannot exist together. My purpose this morning is to make myself perfectly clear, so that you will be able to decide if what I say is true. If it is, then you must shout from the housetops, then you must live it, then it must be the one thing that matters for you. But if it is false, do not make a weak compromise with it -set about to destroy it. You must either be for the Truth entirely, or against it entirely, you cannot compromise. You cannot build in any other manner. You cannot stand in the shade and worship the sun; you must come out of the shade and delight in the sun, rejoice in its purity, so that you yourself become pure, perfect, incorruptible. You cannot compromise, for Truth does not lie in dead hopes.

In the minds of the majority who listen to me, there is an inclination to believe that what I say is purely destructive, and hence negative, that I am all the time merely pulling down, that as I do not put anything in the place of what I pull down I am not constructive. What I say is neither constructive nor destructive, because I speak of Life, and in Life there is neither destruction nor construction. It is the foolish that divide Life into the destructive and the creative. But when I say that certain things are childish, unnecessary, foolish, unessential, false, it is because I wish to make the one essential thing clear, positive, outstanding, and distinctive. On you alone therefore, on every individual alone, depends the destruction and the rebuilding. In the very process of pulling down you are building. That is what you do not realize. As soon as you have withdrawn from all childish things, from all crutches, from all unessential, futile, trivial things, inside you begins to grow that assured certainty, which is above all transient things, which is constant, which is your true measure of understanding. So it is not a matter of destruction, but rather of the desire to discover for yourself the true value, the true meaning, the true purpose of life. To discover that, you must set aside everything that is of little value, as otherwise your mind is perverted, your judgment made crooked.

As the river must go to the sea, must wander through many lands, urged on by the great volume of water behind it, so must every individual, through his own experience, through his own struggles, through his own suffering, ecstasy, rejoicing, enter that sea, which is boundless, limitless, immeasurable, which is Eternity itself. The sea cannot enter the river; the river is too limited. So the river must go to the sea. In like manner I have attained. All your worships, your fears, your anxieties, your ambitions have thrilled me, your hopes, your gurus, your discipleships have held me, but only by putting all these aside have I found. You must come to that Truth unburdened, fearless. You must not come to it with a prejudiced mind, with preconceived ideas, with false hopes, false fears, ambitions and personal glory. By putting aside everything which I held as glory before, I found that which is everlasting, unconditioned, which is Truth itself; by cutting away the past entirely, ruthlessly within myself, I found that which is eternal, which is neither past nor future, which has no beginning, no end, which is Eternal. Having by this means found that which is everlasting -and there is no other means- I would give of that understanding to others.

What is it therefore that all of you, who gather here year after year, are seeking? Please, when I ask this question, put it to yourselves, do not let it pass by. What is it that everyone is seeking? Why do you attend these Camps? To enjoy a pleasure resort? To pass a few days together with those whom you have not met for a whole year? To indulge yourselves in your petty passions? To listen to words of comfort? To be made certain in your doubtful beliefs? What is it you are seeking? What is it that every one of you desires? I will tell you what you desire -not what you desire individually, but what the world is seeking.

Ignorance has no beginning but it has an end, and every one of you is seeking to end that ignorance, because ignorance is a limitation and causes sorrow. To be unaware of the self is ignorance, and knowledge is fully to understand the self. Ignorance is the intermingling of the false and the real. Being uncertain, being doubtful, you are not sure of what is true and what is false, of what is essential and what is transient, of what is bitter and what is sweet. To know what is true, to know what is false; to recognize the truth in the true, and the falsehood in the false, is true knowledge of the self. That knowledge of the self creates no barriers and no limitations, and hence gives lasting happiness. You are seeking the power to destroy for yourselves all the limitations that are placed upon you by yourself, and thereby attain freedom, which is happiness. Anything that leads to freedom, to poise, to the boundless, immeasurable vastness of Life leads essentially to Truth. Anything which creates a barrier, a weakness, anything which imposes a bondage, a limitation, a belief, anything which acts as a crutch, which leads to reliance on another, is false, and will not lead you to Truth. So the intermingling of the true (which is the choice of the essential that shall set you free) and the false (which places a limitation on you and hence binds you) is ignorance. The falsehoods, the unessentials, the childishnesses, the weaknesses on which you depend, the fears which you take to your heart, cannot lead you to freedom, and hence they are false, they are a limitation to be set aside.

This constant struggle to discriminate between what is real and what is false, what is bondage and what is freedom, what is misery and what is happiness, this struggle, pain, this constant battle is going on within each one. It is this problem you must solve. It is this to which you must pay attention, give your concentration, and not to the trivial things created by man, not the forms that the perverted life creates. They will exist but they are of little importance. What you have to concern yourself with is how and in what manner you will distinguish for yourself, without the authority of another, that which is true and that which is false. When you have decided for yourself you must no longer play with them, you must be either firmly for one or for the other. There can be no compromise, for compromise cannot exist in spirituality.

What is it for which everyone in the world is struggling, groping, fighting, crying? It is to be sure for himself, to grow for himself, eternally, to acquire that inward peace which cannot be disturbed either by the false or by the true. This is what everyone is seeking, and it is to this that you must give your minds, your hearts, your whole concentration. I tell you that the only manner in which you can find it is as I have found it, by setting aside all trivial things -worships, gurus, fears, paths, everything- to discover this one thing. If you want that happiness you must do likewise. I am not urging you to do it. It is not my authority that should impel you. It is because you are unhappy, because your faces are shrouded with misery, because there are tears, and laughter that is bound by sorrow, that you must seek.

There are two elements in every human being -this is not a dogma or a philosophy or a theory- one eternal and the other progressive. You must concern yourself with changing the progressive self into the eternal. In every human being, in every one of you there is this progressive self that is struggling -struggling to advance to that which is immeasurable, limitless, eternal. In making that progressive self incorruptible, by the union with that which is eternal in you, lies the acquisition of Truth. I am dividing the self into the eternal and the progressive purely for explanation, but do not translate it into other words and make a theory, a dogma, a complicated system out of it, and thereby destroy what you are seeking. The whole process of existence consists in changing the progressive into the eternal. The progressive self that is in limitation, created by itself, is the cause of sorrow. The progressive self, because it is small, because it chooses the unessential, the false, the limited, is constantly creating barriers. That progressive self is constantly asserting itself, and that assertion will exist, must exist, until there is that union with the eternal.

This progressive self is ever seeking that eternity, which is not the eternity of the individual, but of the whole, which is not limited to individuals, but is the consummation of all life, individual as well as universal. The progressive self is in process of advancing, is all the time climbing, through struggle, by the destruction of barriers, and in that advancement, in that climb, it is creating, by its self-assertion, echoes. Those echoes return to it as sorrow, pain, and pleasure. That self-assertion of the progressive self will always exist and is bound to exist, until you are made one with the eternal. Existence itself, that is, the life that you are leading, is self-assertion, and that very self-assertion in limitation creates sorrow and that sorrow perverts your judgement, complicates your life. You are constantly led astray by things that are of no value, by things that are unessential, by things that place greater limitations on your search. If your search is not constantly watched over, guided, helped, encouraged, you are caught up in things that are trivial, absurd, and childish. Therefore, I say again, you cannot escape from the self-assertion, which is the cause of sorrow, but that self-assertion can be made so vast that it becomes boundless. Because what you perceive you desire. Your desire is transformed by that which you perceive. If your perception is narrow, limited, then your desires will be small. But if your perception of life is limitless, vast, whole, complete, then your desire becomes whole, vast, limitless.

The self-assertion of the “I” which does not create sorrow is timeless. The present, the immediate now, is ever the past. The moment I have done something it is over, it belongs to the past, it is dead. Every action, which takes place in the present, instantly becomes the past, and to that past belongs whatever you have understood of the progressive self. Whatever you have understood, whatever you have dominated, conquered, is over, it belongs to the past, it is dead, finished with.

All that you have understood and conquered, dominated brings you nearer to that future which is NOW. To that past which is the ever-changing present, belongs birth, acquisition, renunciation, all the qualities that you have developed. The moment you understand something of the progressive self it is over, it is finished with and belongs to the past. It is dead, dust, and nothing of it remains except that you are nearer to eternity.

The present being the ever-changing past, there remains the future, to which you all look with such delight, with such hopes, with such variation of longing that you create theories, innumerable philosophies, which have very little importance, because, as I will show you, the future is not real.

To that future, which is the mystery in which you take so much delight, to that future belong what remains of the unsolved, progressive self. Whatever you have not solved of the progressive self is a mystery, and in that mystery you are caught. That is the future, because that is the mystery of the self, which you have not conquered, which you have not gained, attained and solved.

So it remains a mystery. To the mystery of the future, which is the unsolved “I”, belongs death, of which you are so afraid. Directly you understand, there is no birth, no death. Whatever remains to be understood has not come to an end. Whatever has not come to an end is a mystery, and in that mystery you place death. Because you do not understand it, it belongs to that unsolved portion of the “I” and from that insoluble mystery comes fear -fear of death, fear of the entanglements of love (love which is not returned, jealousy, envy), fear of loneliness, fear of friendship, fear of all that is of the future and belongs to the unsolved “I”. You should seek that happiness you desire neither in the future nor in the past, but now. What is the good of being happy in ten years’ time? What is the good of being companionable, full of friendship in ten years’ time if you are lonely now, if every moment creates tears, sorrow, and misery? When you are hungry you want to be satisfied immediately, now.

To solve the mystery of the unsolved “I”, of the self, you cannot look to the future, because the future, if you have not solved it, is never-ending; it is continuous. But to the man who understands, the solution is at that point where the past and the present and the future meet, which is now. The moment you understand, there is no mystery.

The eternity, which the progressive self is seeking, is neither in the past nor in the future. If it is neither in the past nor in the future, it is now. Now is the moment of eternity. When you understand that, you have transcended all laws, limitations, karma and reincarnation. These, though they may be facts, have no value, because you are living in the eternal.

You cannot solve your problems in the future; your fears, your anxieties, your ambitions, your deaths and births cannot be solved either in the future or in the past, you must solve them NOW. That progressive self, which is constantly seeking, through its limitations, through its sorrow, to find eternity, must be made incorruptible NOW. Not with whether you will be corruptible or incorruptible in the future, but with whether you are corruptible or incorruptible NOW must you concern yourself, because you are concerned with sorrow now, and not in the future. You must make that progressive self incorruptible, strong, whole, complete in the immediate NOW, which is the moment of eternity.

As you should have nothing to do with the past or with the future (I am afraid you have, but that does not matter!), you must concentrate your whole attention, focus every action, every thought, towards the incorruptibility of the mind and the heart, because there is the seat of self. The moment you are incorruptible, you will be a light and cast no shadow, so that all happiness, all rejoicing will be concentrated in you; then you can truly help, and give light to those around you who dwell in darkness.

To live in that immediate NOW, which is eternity you must withdraw from all trivial things that belong to the past or to the future. Your dead hopes, your false theories, your goals, everything must go, and you must live -as the flower lives, giving its perfume to everyone- fully concentrated in that moment of time, in that NOW which is neither the future nor the past, which is neither distant nor near, that NOW which is the harmony of reason and of love.

That NOW is Truth, because in it is the whole consummation of life. To dwell in that NOW is true creation, for creation is poise, it is absolute, unconditioned, it is the consummation of all life. If you would dwell in that eternity which is now, you must look neither to the future nor to the past, but with the desire to make that progressive self incorruptible, free, unconditioned, you must live concentrated, focused, acute, in every action, in every thought, in every love. Because that NOW exists where ever you are; that NOW abides in each one, whole, complete, unconditioned. It is that eternity which the progressive self, bound in limitation which is sorrow, is ever seeking.

– J. Krishnamurti

From Morning Talk, Ommen, Holland, 1929
Collection of Jiddu Krishnamurti Early Writings

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The Flame – J. Krishnamurti

The following was a talk given in 1928.

Some years ago I was talking with a great friend of mine, one who is not altogether of my way of thinking, though he agrees with me in many things -but he is not quite so uncompromising as I am. He said to me that I was as sweet as the meandering waters without the necessary fire for the destruction of useless things, and the creation of essential things. And he ended up by saying: If you would do anything in life, you must have the white flame to carry through your purpose. Because you will be opposed in your ideas, the sweet meandering waters will be dammed and turned to other purposes of irrigation rather than give life to the parched lands. I have been thinking considerably about what he said during the last two years, and wondering if the time has come for the white flame to burn. I hold that the white flame of which my friend spoke is necessary, but it is also necessary to have patience.

This spring in Ojai I was watching a sparrow, building her nest just outside my sleeping-porch. It was the most precarious nest, because it was built in the sunblind. Any person who came along and unconsciously pulled up that awning would necessarily have destroyed the nest. I watched it day after day, and saw the nest coming into being, the immense efforts of the mother bird, its gigantic struggles to create the lovely nest, in which it laid three eggs successively, night after night. In the building of that nest in that precarious position and in the bringing forth of the young birds in spite of the carelessness of human beings and the cruelty of other animals, that little sparrow was contending against the whole world in its creation. It had the white flame, necessary to contend, struggle and assert itself. And that sparrow gave me the necessary understanding that the white flame comes, not by a sudden onrush but by patience, by continual assertion of the essential truth, by continually contending against the small things of life, against narrowness of belief and small understanding. It would have been very easy for me to have hurled myself against the wall of orthodoxy and tradition and sets of beliefs some years ago, but it would have been unwise, because the wall was much too strong; there were very few people who really understood, and therefore would have helped to create a breach in that wall. But now, since I have been here, that white flame has grown strong within me, and I will not ever again compromise with anything, I will never try to reconcile the things which are not of the truth, I, personally, will never put aside the eternal for the sake of the passing.

I have been wondering how many of you have the flame, how many of you are like the steel, forged by your own hands, by your own understanding and by your own contention against life. I am now certain for myself, I am certain of that of which I speak. Even though everyone disagrees with me, though everyone contends against me, though everyone misunderstands that which I say. The more there is misunderstanding, the more there is divergence of opinion, the more certain I am. I would that you could be likewise, not because of what I say, but because you have perceived for yourself. Then that knowledge and wisdom shall give stability to your understanding, so that nothing can destroy it, so that you will constantly have the white flame that shall burn away the dross, the useless things of life, and destroy your innumerable crutches and the divisions which hold people apart. The sweet meandering waters are very pleasant to behold and delightful to sail upon, but if you would go out to sea where there are many waves, storms and tempests, you will have to leave the sweet meandering waters behind, you will have to put them aside and venture forth to discover your own strength, to contend with your own wisdom and knowledge against those things which are unessential and unimportant. For that one needs to have courage, not the stupid courage born out of lack of thought, but courage born out of understanding, courage born out of intelligence. As perhaps some of you agree with me, and see and feel and know and understand with me: if you will not compromise with the truth, then the realization of happiness and the bringing about of that happiness in the world will become a certainty. But if you who have perceived, who have known, who have considered and understood with me, have not the white flame but are merely meandering as the sweet waters, you will not create, you will not stand against the old beliefs and traditions. The time for sweet meandering is over, not for you perhaps, but for me. Not for those who have not understood, but for those who have seen, who have known, who have understood; not for the people who are all the time concerned with reconciliation and compromise, but for those who have invited doubt and have conquered doubt, and who have set aside reconciliation.

You cannot reconcile with truth -truth cannot be twisted, warped to your purpose. You will never bend truth to your particular understanding, but rather you will have to unbend your understanding to the truth; make straight those things which are crooked in order to understand the truth. In order to straighten out those things which have been made crooked, you need a flame. If you would bend the steel to a particular shape, you heat it; so if you would unbend and make straight those things in yourself, which are crooked, you must be heated by the white-hot flame of truth. You must be like the sea, against which nothing shall stand, whose waters are in continual motion, never still, always destroying those barriers that men create to hold them back. If a person is dying, and you would revive him and bring him back to life, your sweet fear of hurting him does not hold you back from inviting the surgeon who shall heal. It is no true affection that is afraid to hurt; no love that will not contend against false sentiment, vain hopes and fleeting pleasures. If you who have seen will stand for truth without compromise, we shall go forward together; if not, you will be on the sweet meandering waters, sailing smoothly along, with your particular pleasures and your delightful, smooth reconciliation, and Truth and I will be far away.

What is the use of you all agreeing with me, sympathizing with me, smiling with delight at my sayings, if there is not the true alteration of your mind and heart, if there is no straightening of those things that are crooked? I tell you that Truth is much too serious to play with; it is much too dangerous to have one part of your heart in the temple of truth and another part in the temple of unrealities and half-truths. For that way is the way of sorrow, is the way of contention, is the way of vain beliefs which shall decay. If you have not that white flame, which comes from understanding, which is born out of patience, you will not enter into that kingdom where Truth abides. As a sweet flower that decays and perishes, so shall be he who merely holds to sweet enjoyments, but if you would be as the tree that withstands every storm and dances in every breeze, you must delight in truth and walk in the light of truth.

– J. Krishnamurti

From Collection of Jiddu Krishnamurti Early Writing, 1928

The entire text can be found at:   http://jiddu-krishnamurti.net/en/1927-1928-1929-early-writings/jiddu-krishnamurti.php

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Seek the Source of Consciousness – Nisargadatta Maharaj

Questioner: We were talking the other day about the ways of the modern Western mind and the difficulty it finds in submitting to the moral and intellectual discipline of the Vedanta. One of the obstacles lies in the young European’s or American’s preoccupation with the disastrous condition of the world and the urgent need of setting it right.

They have no patience with people like you who preach personal improvement as a pre-condition for the betterment of the world. They say it is neither possible nor necessary. Humanity is ready for a change of systems — social, economic, political. A world-government, world-police, world-planning and the abolition of all physical and ideological barriers: this is enough, no personal transformation is needed. No doubt, people shape society, but society shapes people too. In a humane society people will be humane; besides, science provides the answer to many questions which formerly were in the domain of religion.

Maharaj: No doubt, striving for the improvement of the world is a most praiseworthy occupation. Done selflessly, it clarifies the mind and purifies the heart. But soon man will realise that he pursues a mirage. Local and temporary improvement is always possible and was achieved again and again under the influence of a great king or teacher; but it would soon come to an end, leaving humanity in a new cycle of misery. It is in the nature of all manifestation that the good and the bad follow each other and in equal measure. The true refuge is only in the unmanifested.

Q: Are you not advising escape?

M: On the contrary. The only way to renewal lies through destruction. You must melt down the old jewellery into formless gold before you can mould a new one. Only the people who have gone beyond the world can change the world. It never happened otherwise. The few whose impact was long lasting were all knowers of reality. Reach their level and then only talk of helping the world.

Q: It is not the rivers and mountains that we want to help, but the people

M: There is nothing wrong with the world, but for the people who make it bad. Go and ask them to behave.

Q: Desire and fear make them behave as they do.

M: Exactly. As long as human behaviour is dominated by desire and fear, there is not much hope.

And to know how to approach the people effectively, you must yourself be free of all desire and fear.

Q: Certain basic desires and fears are inevitable, such as are connected with food, sex and death.

M: These are needs and, as needs, they are easy to meet.

Q: Even death is a need?

M: Having lived a long and fruitful life you feel the need to die. Only when wrongly applied, desire and fear are destructive. By all means desire the right and fear the wrong. But when people desire what is wrong and fear what is right, they create chaos and despair.

Q: What is right and what is wrong?

M: Relatively, what causes suffering is wrong, what alleviates it is right. Absolutely, what brings you back to reality is right and what dims reality is wrong.

Q: When we talk of helping humanity, we mean a struggle against disorder and suffering.

M: You merely talk of helping. Have you ever helped, really helped, a single man? Have you ever put one soul beyond the need of further help? Can you give a man character, based on full realisation of his duties and opportunities at least, if not on the insight into his true being? When you do not know what is good for yourself, how can you know what is good for others?

Q: The adequate supply of means of livelihood is good for all. You may be God himself, but you need a well-fed body to talk to us.

M: It is you that need my body to talk to you. I am not my body, nor do I need it. I am the witness only. I have no shape of my own. You are so accustomed to think of yourselves as bodies having consciousness that you just cannot imagine consciousness as having bodies. Once you realise that bodily existence is but a state of mind, a movement in consciousness, that the ocean of consciousness is infinite and eternal, and that, when in touch with consciousness, you are the witness only, you will be able to withdraw beyond consciousness altogether.

Q: We are told there are many levels of existences. Do you exit and function on all the levels? While you are on earth, are you also in heaven (swarga)?

M: I am nowhere to be found! I am not a thing to be given a place among other things. All things are in me, but I am not among things. You are telling me about the superstructure while I am concerned with the foundations. The superstructures rise and fall, but the foundations last. I am not interested in the transient, while you talk of nothing else.

Q: Forgive me a strange question. If somebody with a razor sharp sword would suddenly severe your head, what difference would it make to you?

M: None whatsoever. The body will lose its head, certain lines of communication will be cut, that is all. Two people talk to each other on the phone and the wire is cut. Nothing happens to the people, only they must look for some other means of communication. The Bhagavad Gita says: “the sword does not cut it”. It is literally so. It is in the nature of consciousness to survive its vehicles. It is like fire. It burns up the fuel, but not itself. Just like a fire can outlast a mountain of fuel, so does consciousness survive innumerable bodies.

Q: The fuel affects the flame.

M: As long as it lasts. Change the nature of the fuel and the colour and appearance of the flame will change.

Now we are talking to each other. For this presence is needed; unless we are present, we cannot talk. But presence by itself is not enough. There must also the the desire to talk.

Above all, we want to remain conscious. We shall bear every suffering and humiliation, but we shall rather remain conscious. Unless we revolt against this craving for experience and let go the manifested altogether, there can be no relief. We shall remain trapped.

Q: You say you are the silent witness and also you are beyond consciousness. Is there no contradiction in it? If you are beyond consciousness, what are you witnessing?

M: I am conscious and unconscious, both conscious and unconscious, neither conscious nor unconscious — to all this I am witness — but really there is no witness, because there is nothing to be a witness to. I am perfectly empty of all mental formations, void of mind — yet fully aware. This I try to express by my saying that I am beyond the mind.

Q: How can I reach you then?

M: Be aware of being conscious and seek the source of consciousness. That is all. Very little can be conveyed in words. It is the doing as I tell you that will bring light, not my telling you. The means do not matter much; it is the desire, the urge, the earnestness that count.

– Nisargadatta Maharaj

I Am That, chapter 68.

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Transiency is Proof of Unreality – Nisargadatta Maharaj

Questioner: My friend is a German and I was born in England from French parents. I am in India since over a year wandering from Ashram to Ashram.

Maharaj: Any spiritual practices (sadhanas)?

Q: Studies and meditation.

M: What did you meditate on?

Q: On what I read.

M: Good.

Q: What are you doing, sir?

M: Sitting.

Q: And what else?

M: Talking.

Q: What are you talking about?

M: Do you want a lecture? Better ask something that really touches you, so that you feel strongly about it. Unless you are emotionally involved, you may argue with me, but there will be no real understanding between us. If you say: ‘nothing worries me, I have no problems’, it is all right with me, we can keep quiet. But if something really touches you, then there is purpose in talking.

Shall I ask you? What is the purpose of your moving from place to place?

Q: To meet people, to try to understand them.

M: What people are you trying to understand? What exactly are you after?

Q: Integration.

M: If you want integration, you must know whom you want to integrate.

Q: By meeting people and watching them, one comes to know oneself also. It goes together.

M: It does not necessarily go together.

Q: One improves the other.

M: It does not work that way. The mirror reflects the image, but the image does not improve the mirror. You are neither the mirror nor the image in the mirror. Having perfected the mirror so that it reflects correctly, truly, you can turn the mirror round and see in it a true reflection of yourself — true as far as the mirror can reflect. But the reflection is not yourself — you are the seer of the reflection. Do understand it clearly — whatever you may perceive you are not what you perceive.

Q: I am the mirror and the world is the image?

M: You can see both the image and the mirror. You are neither. Who are you? Don’t go by formulas. The answer is not in words. The nearest you can say in words is: I am what makes perception possible, the life beyond the experiencer and his experience.

Now, Can you separate yourself both from the mirror and the image in the mirror and stand completely alone, all by yourself?

Q: No, I cannot.

M: How do you know that you cannot? There are so many things you are doing without knowing how to do it. You digest, you circulate your blood and lymph, you move your muscles — all without knowing how. In the same way, you perceive, you feel, you think without knowing the why and how of it. Similarly you are yourself without knowing it. There is nothing wrong with you as the Self. It is what it is to perfection. It is the mirror that is not clear and true and, therefore, gives you false images. You need not correct yourself — only set right your idea of yourself. Learn to separate yourself from the image and the mirror, keep on remembering: I am neither the mind nor its ideas: do it patiently and with convictions and you will surely come to the direct vision of yourself as the source of being — knowing — loving, eternal, all-embracing all-pervading. You are the infinite focussed in a body. Now you see the body only. Try earnestly and you will come to see the infinite only.

Q: The experience of reality, when it Comes, does it last?

M: All experience is necessarily transient. But the ground of all experience is immovable. Nothing that may be called an event will last. But some events purify the mind and some stain it. Moments of deep insight and all-embracing love purify the mind, while desires and fears, envies and anger, blind beliefs and intellectual arrogance pollute and dull the psyche.

Q: Is self-realisation so important?

M: Without it you will be consumed by desires and fears, repeating themselves meaninglessly in endless suffering. Most of the people do not know that there can be an end to pain. But once they have heard the good news, obviously going beyond all strife and struggle is the most urgent task that can be. You know that you can be free and now it is up to you. Either you remain forever hungry and thirsty, longing, searching, grabbing, holding, ever losing and sorrowing, or go out whole-heartedly in search of the state of timeless perfection to which nothing can be added, from which nothing — taken away. In it all desires and fears are absent, not because they were given up, but because they have lost their meaning.

Q: So far I have been following you. Now, what am I expected to do?

M: There is nothing to do. Just be. Do nothing. Be. No climbing mountains and sitting in caves. I do not even say: ‘be yourself’, since you do not know yourself. Just be. Having seen that you are neither the ‘outer’ world of perceivables, nor the ‘inner’ world of thinkables, that you are neither body nor mind — just be.

Q: Surely, there are degrees of realisation.

M: There are no steps to self-realisation. There is nothing gradual about it. It happens suddenly and is irreversible. You rotate into a new dimension, seen from which the previous ones are mere abstractions. Just like on sunrise you see things as they are, so on self-realisation you see everything as it is. The world of illusions is left behind.

Q: In the state of realisation do things change? They become colourful and full of meaning?

M: The experience is quite right, but it is not the experience of reality (sadanubhav), but of harmony (satvanubhav) of the universe.

Q: Nevertheless, there is progress.

M: There can be progress only in the preparation (sadhana). realisation is sudden. The fruit ripens slowly, but falls suddenly and without return.

Q: I am physically and mentally at peace. What more do I need?

M: Yours may not be the ultimate state. You will recognise that you have returned to your natural state by a complete absence of all desire and fear. After all, at the root of all desire and fear is the feeling of not being what you are. Just as a dislocated joint pains only as long as it is out of shape, and is forgotten as soon as it is set right, so is all self-concern a symptom of mental distortion which disappears as soon as one is in the normal state.

Q: Yes, but what is the sadhana for achieving the natural state?

M: Hold on to the sense ‘I am’ to the exclusion of everything else. When thus the mind becomes completely silent, it shines with a new light and vibrates with new knowledge. It all comes spontaneously, you need only hold on to the ‘I am’. Just like emerging from sleep or a state of rapture you feel rested and yet you cannot explain why and how you come to feel so well, in the same way on realisation you feel complete, fulfilled, free from the pleasure-pain complex, and yet not always able to explain what happened, why and how. You can put it only in negative terms: ‘Nothing is wrong with me any longer.’ It is only by comparison with the past that you know that you are out of it. Otherwise — you are just yourself. Don’t try to convey it to others. If you can, it is not the real thing. Be silent and watch it expressing itself in action.

Q: If you could tell me what I shall become, it may help me to watch over my development.

M: How can anybody tell you what you shall become when there is no becoming? You merely discover what you are. All moulding oneself to a pattern is a grievous waste of time. Think neither of the past nor of the future, just be.

Q: How can I just be? Changes are inevitable.

M: Changes are inevitable in the changeful, but you are not subject to them. You are the changeless background, against which changes are perceived.

Q: Everything changes, the background also changes. There is no need of a changeless background to notice changes. The self is momentary — it is merely the point where the past meets the future.

M: Of course the self based on memory is momentary. But such self demands unbroken continuity behind it. You know from experience that there are gaps when your self is forgotten. What brings it back to life? What wakes you up in the morning? There must be some constant factor bridging the gaps in consciousness. If you watch carefully you will find that even your daily consciousness is in flashes, with gaps intervening all the time. What is in the gaps? What can there be but your real being, that is timeless; mind and mindlessness are one to it.

Q: Is there any particular place you would advise me to go to for spiritual attainment?

M: The only proper place is within. The outer world neither can help nor hinder. No system, no pattern of action will take you to your goal. Give up all working for a future, concentrate totally on the now, be concerned only with your response to every movement of life as it happens.

Q: What is the cause of the urge to roam about?

M: There is no cause. You merely dream that you roam about. In a few years your stay in India will appear as a dream to you. You will dream some other dream at that time. Do realise that it is not you who moves from dream to dream, but the dreams flow before you and you are the immutable witness. No happening affects your real being — this is the absolute truth.

Q: Cannot I move about physically and keep steady inwardly?

M: You can, but what purpose does it serve? If you are earnest, you will find that in the end you will get fed up with roaming and regret the waste of energy and time. To find your self you need not take a single step.

Q: Is there any difference between the experience of the Self (atman) and of the Absolute (brahman)?

M: There can be no experience of the Absolute as it is beyond all experience. On the other hand, the self is the experiencing factor in every experience and thus, in a way, validates the multiplicity of experiences. The world may be full of things of great value, but if there is nobody to buy them, they have no price. The Absolute contains everything experienceable, but without the experience they are as nothing. That which makes the experience possible is the Absolute. That which makes it actual is the Self.

Q: Don’t we reach the Absolute through a gradation of experiences? Beginning with the grossest, we end with the most sublime.

M: There can be no experience without desire for it. There can be gradation between desires, but between the most sublime desire and the freedom from all desire there is an abyss which must be crossed. The unreal may look real, but it is transient. The real is not afraid of time.

Q: Is not the unreal the expression of the real?

M: How can it be? It is like saying that truth expresses itself in dreams. To the real the unreal is not. It appears to be real only because you believe in it. Doubt it, and it ceases. When you are in love with somebody, you give it reality — you imagine your love to be all-powerful and everlasting. When it comes to an end, you say: ‘I thought it was real, but it wasn’t’. Transiency is the best proof of unreality. What is limited in time and space, and applicable to one person only, is not real. The real is for all and forever.

Above everything else you cherish yourself. You would accept nothing in exchange for your existence. The desire to be is the strongest of all desires and will go only on the realisation of your true nature.

Q: Even in the unreal there is a touch of reality.

M: Yes, the reality you impart to it by taking it to be real. Having convinced yourself, you are bound by your conviction. When the sun shines, colours appear. When it sets, they disappear. Where are the colours without the light?

Q: This is thinking in terms of duality.

M: All thinking is in duality. In identity no thought survives.

– Nisargadatta Maharaj

I Am That, chapter 69.

For more posts on Nisargadatta Maharaj see:   https://o-meditation.com/category/nisargadatta-maharaj/

To read more from Nisargadatta Maharaj see:   https://o-meditation.com/jai-guru-deva/some-good-books/downloadable-books/nisargadatta-maharaj/

God is the End of All Desire and Knowledge – Nisargadatta Maharaj

Maharaj: Where are you coming from? What have you come for?

Questioner: I come from America and my friend is from the Republic of Ireland. I came about six months ago and I was travelling from Ashram to Ashram. My friend came on his own.

M: What have you seen?

Q: I have been at Sri Ramanashram and also I have visited Rishikesh. Can I ask you what is your opinion of Sri Ramana Maharshi?

M: We are both in the same ancient state. But what do you know of Maharshi? You take yourself to be a name and a body, so all you perceive are names and bodies.

Q: Were you to meet the Maharshi, what would happen?

M: Probably we would feel quite happy. We may even exchange a few words.

Q: But would he recognise you as a liberated man?

M: Of course. As a man recognises a man, so a jnani recognises a jnani. You cannot appreciate what you have not experienced. You are what you think yourself to be, but you cannot think yourself to be what you have not experienced.

Q: To become an engineer I must learn engineering. To become God, what must I learn?

M: You must unlearn everything. God is the end of all desire and knowledge.

Q: You mean to say that I become God merely by giving up the desire to become God?

M: All desires must be given up, because by desiring you take the shape of your desires. When no desires remain, you revert to your natural state.

Q: How do I come to know that I have achieved perfection?

M: You can not know perfection, you can know only imperfection. For knowledge to be, there must be separation and disharmony. You can know what you are not, but you can not know your real being. You can be only what you are. The entire approach is through understanding, which is in the seeing of the false as false. But to understand, you must observe from outside.

Q: The Vedantic concept of Maya, illusion, applies to the manifested. Therefore our knowledge of the manifested is unreliable. But we should be able to trust our knowledge of the unmanifested.

M: There can be no knowledge of the unmanifested. The potential is unknowable. Only the actual can be known.

Q: Why should the knower remain unknown?

M: The knower knows the known. Do you know the knower? Who is the knower of the knower? You want to know the unmanifested. Can you say you know the manifested?

Q: I know things and ideas and their relations. It is the sum total of all my experiences.

M: All?

Q: Well, all actual experiences. I admit I cannot know what did not happen.

M: If the manifested is the sum total of all actual experiences, including their experiencers, how much of the total do you know? A very small part indeed. And what is the little you know?

Q: Some sensory experiences as related to myself.

M: Not even that. You only know that you react. Who reacts and to what, you do not know. You know on contact that you exist — ‘I am’. The ‘I am this’, ‘I am that’ are imaginary.

Q: I know the manifested because I participate in it. I admit, my part in it is very small, yet it is as real as the totality of it. And what is more important, I give it meaning. Without me the world is dark and silent.

M: A firefly illumining the world! You don’t give meaning to the world, you find it. Dive deep into yourself and find the source from where all meaning flows. Surely it is not the superficial mind that can give meaning.

Q: What makes me limited and superficial?

M: The total is open and available, but you will not take it. You are attached to the little person you think yourself to be. Your desires are narrow, your ambitions — petty. After all, without a centre of perception where would be the manifested? Unperceived, the manifested is as good as the unmanifested. And you are the perceiving point, the non-dimensional source of all dimensions. Know yourself as the total.

Q: How can a point contain a universe?

M: There is enough space in a point for an infinity of universes. There is no lack of capacity. Self-limitation is the only problem. But you cannot run away from yourself. However far you go, you come back to yourself and to the need of understanding this point, which is as nothing and yet the source of everything.

Q: I came to India in search of a Yoga teacher. I am still in search.

M: What kind of Yoga do you want to practice, the Yoga of getting, or the Yoga of giving up?

Q: Don’t they come to the same in the end?

M: How can they? One enslaves, the other liberates. The motive matters supremely. Freedom comes through renunciation. All possession is bondage.

Q: What I have the strength and the courage to hold on to, why should I give up? And if I have not the strength, how can I give up? I do not understand this need of giving up. When I want something, why should I not pursue it? Renunciation is for the weak.

M: If you do not have the wisdom and the strength to give up, just look at your possessions. Your mere looking will burn them up. If you can stand outside your mind, you will soon find that total renunciation of possessions and desires is the most obviously reasonable thing to do. You create the world and then worry about it. Becoming selfish makes you weak. If you think you have the strength and courage to desire, it is because you are young and inexperienced. Invariably the object of desire destroys the means of acquiring it and then itself withers away. It is all for the best, because it teaches you to shun desire like poison.

Q: How am I to practice desirelessness?

M: No need of practice. No need of any acts of renunciation. Just turn your mind away, that is all. Desire is merely the fixation of the mind on an idea. Get it out of its groove by denying it attention.

Q: That is all?

M: Yes, that is all. Whatever may be the desire or fear, don’t dwell upon it. Try and see for yourself. Here and there you may forget, it does not matter. Go back to your attempts till the brushing away of every desire and fear, of every reaction becomes automatic.

Q: How can one live without emotions?

M: You can have all the emotions you want, but beware of reactions, of induced emotions. Be entirely self-determined and ruled from within, not from without. Merely giving up a thing to secure a better one is not true relinquishment. Give it up because you see its valuelessness. As you keep on giving up, you will find that you grow spontaneously in intelligence and power and inexhaustible love and joy.

Q: Why so much insistence on relinquishing all desires and fears? Are they not natural?

M: They are not. They are entirely mind-made. You have to give up everything to know that you need nothing, not even your body. Your needs are unreal and your efforts are meaningless. You imagine that your possessions protect you. In reality they make you vulnerable. realise yourself as away from all that can be pointed at as ‘this’ or ‘that’. You are unreachable by any sensory experience or verbal construction. Turn away from them. Refuse to impersonate.

Q: After I have heard you, what am I to do?

M: Only hearing will not help you much. You must keep it in mind and ponder over it and try to understand the state of mind which makes me say what I say. I speak from truth; stretch your hand and take it. You are not what you think yourself to be, I assure you. The image you have of yourself is made up from memories and is purely accidental.

Q: What I am is the result of my karma.

M: What you appear to be, you are not. Karma is only a word you have learnt to repeat. You have never been, nor shall ever be a person. Refuse to consider yourself as one. But as long as you do not even doubt yourself to be a Mr. S0-and-so, there is little hope. When you refuse to open your eyes, what can you be shown?

Q: I imagine karma to be a mysterious power that urges me towards perfection.

M: That’s what people told you. You are already perfect, here and now. The perfectible is not you. You imagine yourself to be what you are not — stop it. It is the cessation that is important, not what you are going to stop.

Q: Did not karma compel me to become what I am?

M: Nothing compels. You are as you believe yourself to be. Stop believing.

Q: Here you are sitting on your seat and talking to me. What compels you is your karma.

M: Nothing compels me. I do what needs doing. But you do so many unnecessary things. It is your refusal to examine that creates karma. It is the indifference to your own suffering that perpetuates it.

Q: Yes, it is true. What can put an end to this indifference?

M: The urge must come from within as a wave of detachment, or compassion.

Q: Could I meet this urge half way?

M: Of course. See your own condition, see the condition of the world.

Q: We were told about karma and reincarnation, evolution and Yoga, masters and disciples. What are we to do with all this knowledge?

M: Leave it all behind you. Forget it. Go forth, unburdened with ideas and beliefs. Abandon all verbal structures, all relative truth, all tangible objectives. The Absolute can be reached by absolute devotion only. Don’t be half-hearted.

Q: I must begin with some absolute truth. Is there any?

M: Yes, there is, the feeling: ‘I am’. Begin with that.

Q: Nothing else is true?

M: All else is neither true nor false. It seems real when it appears, it disappears when it is denied. A transient thing is a mystery.

Q: I thought the real is the mystery.

M: How can it be? The real is simple, open, clear and kind, beautiful and joyous. It is completely free of contradictions. It is ever new, ever fresh, endlessly creative. Being and non-being, life and death, all distinctions merge in it.

Q: I can admit that all is false. But, does it make my mind nonexistent?

M: The mind is what it thinks. To make it true, think true.

Q: If the shape of things is mere appearance, what are they in reality?

M: In reality there is only perception. The perceiver and the perceived are conceptual, the fact of perceiving is actual.

Q: Where does the Absolute come in?

M: The Absolute is the birthplace of Perceiving. It makes perception possible.

But too much analysis leads you nowhere. There is in you the core of being which is beyond analysis, beyond the mind. You can know it in action only. Express it in daily life and its light will grow ever brighter. The legitimate function of the mind is to tell you what is not. But if you want positive knowledge, you must go beyond the mind.

Q: In all the universe is there one single thing of value?

M: Yes, the power of love.

– Nisargadatta Maharaj

I Am That, chapter 70.

For more posts on Nisargadatta Maharaj see:   https://o-meditation.com/category/nisargadatta-maharaj/

To read more from Nisargadatta Maharaj see:   https://o-meditation.com/jai-guru-deva/some-good-books/downloadable-books/nisargadatta-maharaj/

An Interview with Ajja (Bhagavan Arabbi-Nithyanandam)

Ajja 1
Ajja (Bhagavan Arabbi-Nithyanandam

This interview was conducted by Andrew Cohen and  first appeared in the magazine What Is Enlightenment as part of a longer article. I am posting the interview portion for the benefit of those who have an interest in learning more about Ajja.
Ajja: First, we should introduce ourselves, so there will be mutual understanding and harmony. After that, our conversation can begin. Only then will there be usefulness in this conversation. Otherwise, words are mere words. The other day when we met, you described your experience of awakening, but the others here have not heard it, so could you please describe it again?

Andrew Cohen: I was sixteen years old.

Ajja: Who was sixteen years old?

AC: The individual, the young man, who was convinced that there was a problem, that there was something wrong.

Ajja: You can continue.

AC: Suddenly the doors of perception opened. It seemed like the walls in the room had disappeared and suddenly there was infinite space. And this infinite space was full of energy. And this energy was conscious, it was aware of itself.

Ajja: And what you are now—is it that awareness itself?

AC: Yes.

Ajja: So it’s not this body that you refer to as “I.” The awareness you experienced at that time, is that the “I” you feel now also?

AC: Yes. It’s the same.

Ajja: It’s not this body?

AC: There’s only one “I.”

Ajja: And what happened after that?

AC: Then what happened was that I realized that this energy which was aware of itself was intelligent—there was intelligence—and the nature of it was love. Unbearable love. Excruciating love. And it also became apparent that everything that existed in the manifest universe was of the same substance, which was this consciousness. And in that it became apparent that every point in space was exactly the same point as every other. For example, now we’re here in this room. We just came from Prashanti. Before that I was in Europe. Before that I was in America. While these all seem to be different places, what I realized in that moment was that every place I could be was the same point, literally and actually. Also, there were tears but I wasn’t crying. And my throat was opening and closing.

Eventually this experience faded. But then, six years later, when I was twenty-two, I began to seek for this experience once again, because even though by that time it felt very far away from me, I knew that it had been the most real experience of my life. I began to do sadhana [spiritual practice] and had various experiences and was with many different teachers. And then finally when I met my last teacher, I told him about it. Over the years, I had told many people about this experience and they had never known what to say, but when I told him, he said, “Then you experienced everything.” And when he said this, it began to come back. Then I experienced this overwhelming love and heat and burning for several weeks. After that happened I began to find myself speaking spontaneously about the Absolute—I couldn’t help it; I would start speaking about it and then it would come into the room. And my body would fill up with bliss, and other people would feel the bliss and be drawn into the experience.

Ajja: What is your state now?

AC: That’s what my experience is now. It happens when I’m teaching, when I’m speaking about the Absolute. Then this experience comes, and when I stop speaking about it, then I go back into a more ordinary state. But the difference now is that I have no doubt—self-preoccupation and doubt are gone—and this love that I met at that time is my whole life.

Ajja: In the beginning, the “I” was a constricted “I.” Later, it started becoming expanded, and then you reached a state where there was no time and space, beyond even emotions. In that, “you” and “I” become one—the supreme Divine. We only use the word “I.” Whatever there is in this body, for that we say “I” as a simple indication. We say that it is “me,” but I am nothing. I am not the body. I am not even a power. What really exists is That whose nature is light, its nature is satya [ultimate reality]. It is truth, it is bliss, it is peace, and that is the real existence.

Who is that energy, that power? What is the source of that? Who am I? What is my source? I am that energy. I am that power which is my source. So when I go to search for the source of this “I,” I reach that self-illumination. Then this power that is existing in this body, residing in this body, is also arising from that self-illumination itself. And it has all the qualities and nature of That itself. So when I know this, I start evolving. This “I” starts evolving to become That itself. That is its nature. Total expansion is its nature.

So what is that “I” which we were calling “I”? This body is not “I.” The one who resides in this body is the real I. That power, that shakti, is I. When one goes into that self-illuminated state and recognizes it as his own true nature, he also finds that it has endowed him with the qualities of illumination, expansion, compassion. The individual self has become one with That. Whatever he sees around him, where does it come from? It is evident that it always comes from within; in every instant, it seems to just come springing up from within. To a realized soul, that is how the whole world around us looks.

Everything has come out of that “I.” The most important answers, how do they come? It is not as if they were written down somewhere. These answers have just come out. Not from the individual self, but from this state they have come out. So there is no self! It has just spontaneously come out.
So for the individual soul who aspires to be totally free, what is the easiest and most direct path to freedom from the cycle of birth and death? The answer to that question will come when the mind becomes totally silent. So it is not what I say that is important. We have to get those answers ourselves, and that we can do only by silencing our minds. All of us have the capacity to get those answers, because every question has an answer within silence. When the mind has reached a state of stillness, the answer comes. This will not happen in one or two days, but it is certain that we will get the answer in the silence.

AC: I understand that when the mind is silent there is no problem and therefore no need to find a solution. However, I have some questions I’d like to ask you anyway, for the sake of the many people who will read this.

Ajja: Whatever question you ask, the answer that comes out of here is: “Silence the mind.” You have to first concentrate the mind on itself. If, after that, you still need a perfect answer, my life itself is the answer. By seeing my action, you can understand, you can realize That. That is my message. That is my answer.

AC: Can I ask you a question anyway? It’s a good one.

Ajja: If I answer something, it should be of some use. The importance is for action. When the message is given, will they bring it into practice?

AC: That is what I wanted to ask you about: What is the relationship between nonexistence and action in time and space?

Ajja: One loses his existence through knowledge and action. Through these he becomes free. Then he himself is a jivan mukta [liberated person]. But when that “I” has gone, what is there? Where is the question then?

AC: Even though he is free, isn’t the jnani [Self-realized individual], the jivanmukta, still expressing something through his actions?

Ajja: I don’t have the awareness that “I’m a jnani“or “I’m a jivan mukta.” I don’t have anything. When the “I” has gone, the consciousness does not even raise the feeling of “I.” That is completely gone. So for a jnani that question does not even arise. When there is no question of thinking, then ordinary action in day-to-day life does not take place. Our thoughts are transformed into contemplation. Then our day-to-day routine interactions become spiritual. In that, the regular routine itself becomes spiritual life. That itself is yogic life. That itself is divine life.

AC: There is a mystery that I’m infatuated with. From nothing, there became something; it’s literally the beginning of everything. In the jivanmukta, also, he is nothing, he’s in nothing. And yet, from nothing comes something: words, actions, etc. This is what I want to know about.

Ajja: I have already described how day-to-day interactions themselves can be converted into spiritual actions. Having that objective, when an individual soul is engaged in day-to-day actions and duties, he gets transformed. Then as he advances on the path of evolution, through contemplation on the thought “Who am I?”—who is that individual soul?—then, even while residing in this body, he becomes totally free from the cycle of birth and death. He becomes the Self itself, and the Self is total freedom. This is real freedom. This realization is the objective of human birth. It is for this alone that a human birth is taken. When this objective is fulfilled, our life itself is fulfilled. It is a state from which there is no more birth. It is a life free from duality, and beyond death. This is applicable everywhere in the entire world. This is true for the whole of humanity. When the whole of humanity understands this and puts it into action, then where is this question?

AC: Then there will be no difference between birth and death.

Ajja: Yes. Only when there is birth can there be death. Where is birth in this? We think: “I am this body. All the sense objects that are related to the body are mine. With such a constricted feeling, when a person is involved in action, and is experiencing the joys and sorrows that are resulting from such action, again and again he will take birth in this world. So his lives continue according to his actions. This is the secret of birth, life and death. But when the individual self is freed from the bondage of action, and also the bondage of this body, then he becomes one with the supreme Self, which is his original nature. He becomes the supreme Self itself. When the individual, through contemplation of the question “Who am I?” becomes free from karma, he evolves, he becomes the self-luminous Supreme. That itself is Self. That itself is bliss. That itself is satya, ultimate reality. That itself is Life. That itself is Self-realization.

So Self-realization is for the good of the whole. It brings auspiciousness and good to the whole universe. That is the objective of human life. When we understand the secret of this, we will really understand the relationship between the individual soul, the supreme Soul and the universe. The individual is a part of the cosmos. This body, this “I,” is nothing but a microcosm of that macrocosmic universe. When we understand the micro level, we are bound to understand the macro universe. Anyone who seeks here is bound to reach there, because this individuality is a part of That. And also, it containseverything. All the secrets of That, this also contains. Through the study of the individual—or even the atom—the basis of the whole universe can be understood.

How is this freedom realized? Through action alone does realization come. That is jnana, that is freedom, that is moksha [liberation].We must understand how, by doing action, we can reach that state. What kind of action will help us to become liberated? Chanting the name of God, contemplation, surrender, truth, nonviolence, detached action. One who, during his lifetime, can translate the knowledge of the Self into action, that one deserves to realize that supreme blissful state. Not only that, he becomes bliss itself. “Who am I? What is the secret of my life, my birth?” Understanding this, realizing this through his search, even when he is engaged in actions and duties, he attains his original nature, which is bliss. So it is through action that he becomes transformed.

AC: When you speak about karma yoga, or detached action, are you referring specifically to spiritual practice? Or to any form of detached action?

Ajja: Any action which is done as a duty without the expectation of a result. Any action, if you do it without expectation and selfishness, is transformed into duty. This leads you to a state where there are no emotions. One is doing, but he is not doing. There is no feeling that “I am doing something.” What happened to that “I”?

This evolution is step by step. It doesn’t happen all of a sudden. It has to pass through various stages. However, even the most elementary state of bliss is Bliss itself. The nature of bliss is Bliss itself. Bliss itself is the nature of bliss. Bliss is Bliss itself. Bliss is Bliss. This bliss is eternal reality. This bliss is eternal Truth. That bliss which is eternal reality, that is the eternal bliss. This is the supreme Bliss. This is the Brahmic [Absolute] Bliss. And that itself is Ananda [spiritual bliss]. There is nothing there—no state. Experience and words cannot reach there. The actual nature of the individual self is this bliss itself. And the easiest and the shortest path is to always dwell in that sahaja [natural] state that is our original nature.

The question may arise, “Where is that Bliss?” That Bliss is here and now, ever present. When this jivatma [individual self] is dropped, that Bliss is there, already existing. The individual soul has the bondage of action, but the Supreme doesn’t have that. There is not even birth for the Self. So let us go beyond this dualistic world of action, let us evolve, and reach the paramatma [supreme Self].

For all this, meditation is the starting point. In the beginning you should sit. You should have that internal preparation. One has to discipline oneself. But it is not enough only to sit. It is not merely that the body must sit; your mind must sit also. The mind should not be wandering. Unless the mind is controlled, there is no meditation. The wandering of the mind itself is the world.

AC: Yes. The mind is the world.

Ajja: So in the beginning, the mind should become still. The mind is wandering and that must stop. Through meditation, the mind turns inward. And this should happen not only in meditation, but also in the midst of action.

Nothing that we take to be real in this world actually is. When this world becomes unreal to you, then the true reality reveals itself. That is the beginning. In that, we realize that there is no death, there is no life, there is only existence. At one point or another, we all have to die. But I do not mean the death of this body. There is another kind of death—a death from which there is no rebirth. When the one who keeps coming back for reincarnation, when that one dies, that is the real death—as in my case, where all experiences have passed. Now, here in this state, there is nothing.

AC: When you say there is nothing here, do you mean that you have no experience right now? You seem to be expressing a great deal.

Ajja: Whose experience? Words are coming, it is true. Through this vehicle, some unknown force is acting, some power is working, using this body as an instrument. It is not this body that is speaking. There is a power that is inspiring this body, intellect and mind. In each one of us the same thing is happening, but often we say, “I am speaking.” Here that is not happening. Words are just coming out. That is the difference. I don’t say, “I say, I speak.”

AC: In my own experience, the relationship between this state of bliss, in which there is no “I,” and perfect action in the world of time and space seems to be very mysterious. So I would still like to know more about how you define that relationship for the one who is actually established in that bliss consciousness in which there is no notion of “I.” How do that individual’s actions in this world express the perfection of that condition? What is the relationship between that state and the expression of perfect action in this world of appearances?

Ajja: My level of interaction is totally different. There is no relationship between these two in my actions. What is your understanding about perfect action in the world?

AC: Perfect action means action that comes from pure love, in which there is no sense of individuality and no self-interest whatsoever. There’s no pride, there’s no greed, there’s no egotism, there’s no self-consciousness. And it is also the expression of pure love that has no sense of itself as being separate. But this action does occur. All the realized souls express this.

Ajja: This is difficult to explain, to put into words, but if one spends time in the company of a person who is in such blissful consciousness, then it becomes possible to understand. Such an individual will not tell you anything. He will communicate only in silence. But through contact with him, understanding can happen. One can know this only through experience.

What is love? Are we speaking about a love related to the senses? Or is it beyond the senses? Some people are the embodiment of love but the nature of their love is beyond the senses. You cannot see it with your eyes. You cannot describe that love with your words. They are love embodied. This love is not something to be displayed. It is their original nature. It’s not something they merely express. It is their nature always.

AC: It’s who they are.

Ajja: They exist in this world, but they are not. They are, and they are not. That is what self-illumination is. That itself is Atman [the Self]. That itself is bliss. That itself is truth. That itself is life. Which life is it? It’s not worldly life. It’s a life beyond duality and beyond death.

AC: So how they are, then, is the answer to the question. How they are is the answer to the question of what the relationship is between nothing and something.

Ajja: These things are beyond description. This we cannot explain. This can only be seen and understood. It’s not because they have something to say that they speak. It’s not possible to describe bliss. When you are blissful, it’s an experience, but there is no one there to speak. Words come out, but between the words that come out and that ultimate reality there is no relationship. The real state and the words that describe it are not related. That exists only as Itself. The words show That, they manifest That, but they are not That. The existence of that Supreme is indicated by the word “I” only for the sake of interaction in the world—for the sake of the world, but not for the sake of That.

My experience is of the Universal Soul only, which is energy, light and power—the self-luminous supreme Universal. It has come for evolution and it has evolved. Universal light comes for evolution and it evolves.

AC: The light evolves?

Ajja: Light and power came, but now only light remains in the evolved form. There is no power. The indweller of this physical body is the soul, which is nothing but self-luminous light and power. And in evolution, the power dissolves, leaving only light.

AC: Can you say that again?

Ajja: The indweller of the body is a universal power and light. And in the process of evolution, the power dissolves and the light remains. But the truth of this cannot really be communicated. Only through contact, by being in the proximity of a realized soul, can one understand. This is one of those questions the answer to which can only be discovered when you search for it in silence. Otherwise it becomes mere lecture from which none of us will benefit.

AC: I understand that the most important answer cannot be given in words, that it can only be found by the individual in silence. And yet it is my experience that by asking these kinds of questions sometimes magical and extraordinary things can happen.

Ajja: Even if the truth comes out or if, as you say, magical, miraculous things occur, when words come out, they are still nothing but words.

AC: But the words coming from a jnani have the power to enlighten.

Ajja: That is about the jnani. But where are the jnanis? Who is a jnani? And who is it that recognizes the jnani?

AC: The jnani and the one who recognizes the jnani are one and the same.

Ajja: Is that your experience?

AC: Yes.

Ajja: I do not deny that experience. But a jnani will never have the experience that “I am a jnani.” He is simply what he is. It’s his original state. If an unnatural state comes, he will be amazed. This is the original, natural state for a jnani. There is only bliss. There is no one to experience that bliss. The person who sees has gone. That is evolution. So what is, in that case, is a state which is not a state. This is the original state of every individual. But one must be ready to go to that original state.

AC: One of your disciples told me that when you get to know people more intimately you can see their past lives. Is this true?

Ajja: I am not an astrologer. I don’t read anyone’s mind. This is contradictory for spirituality. Liberation should happen in this life itself. Sometimes we are told that for some reason it’s not possible in this life, that we have to wait for future incarnations. But we don’t know if this is true or not, so here and now we should become free.

AC: I agree with you, and my question is based only on what I’ve heard from other people here. I personally feel that this kind of thing is a complete waste of time and also that it’s the opposite direction one should be looking in if one wants to be free. If one wants to be free, one wants to know the Self one is when there’s no time and no history. Finding out about past lives could never tell you anything about that which never happened.

Ajja: Yes. Let us know about this life. In knowing this you know everything you need to know. Now we are here. It’s now about this. Why should we go back? There is no future and no past. We have come here. We are here. What is this? Who are we? Who am I? Who is the one who has come? That which has come is self-luminous power with light. This itself is the foundation. There are engineers who build the building, but we must look only at the foundation, we are concerned only with the foundation. “Who am I?”—this inquiry is the foundation. When you go in search of That, it is possible to find the answer to every question on this earth. When you go in search of “Who am I?” you will reach a state where there is nothing. “I” means the state where nothing is there. It’s over. No sadhana is required for this—only search.

AC: Direct search.

Ajja: Yes, direct search. When the seeker goes in search of That, the seeker is no more. That state is Atman, which is bliss, which is self-luminous and which is silence. Until then, ego is there. Then it is not.

It sometimes happens in life that due to some incident there is total transformation. In many people’s lives, due to one incident there is total transformation. It is in the biographies of all the great saints of southern India—Valmiki, Tulsi Das, Ramana Maharshi, J. Krishnamurti. According to their karma, due to small incidents, they changed. Through all these stories, there is one thread. In my case, for example, there was pain for six months, then no pain. Then contemplation began; worry became contemplation. Untruth became truth. Darkness became light. As with fruit, when it is unripe, it is bitter. When it becomes ripe, it is sweet. But that sweetness was always there. That bitterness is transformed into sweetness.

So worry should become contemplation. For that reason alone we should give importance to thoughts. We should not get agitated or lost when we get worries or problems. We should experience them. Then there is an explosion.

AC: Do you mean that we must face them completely?

Ajja: Yes. Experience that. And how should the mind be when you experience that? During that time, the mind should be focused, the mind should contemplate on that. When the mind is fixed on that, then—

AC: You mean there should be no resistance to experience?

Ajja: No resistance. In this way, the same mind that experiences everything else now goes to contemplation. Beyond that there is no mind at all. So mind itself is both the cause of bondage and the means to liberation. This world is nothing but the roar of mind. When the works of mind are over, there is no mind. Then all desires are gone—desires which the mind imagines. Everything is imagined; all of that is mind. So the mind has to withdraw. All desires should go. Even if one desire is there, you cannot take the mind inward. The mind should go into the heart and begin the search. “Who am I? Who am I? I am here in this body. Who am I?” We should search like that. When you are in the search, in that the mind is gone. We are afraid to touch that place. But the mind must be totally gone. Give it up.

AC: You said earlier that this is universally applicable and true for the whole of humanity.

Ajja: Yes, this is a question for the whole of mankind. We need freedom. No one wants to be in bondage. Everyone wants to be free. My message for the whole universe is not that only one should get free. Others also should become free. The whole world should become free. That is my message.

What is the path to freedom? If you have a clear picture of the experiences I’ve had during my lifetime—joys and sorrows, triumphs and miseries, honor and dishonor, and how I reacted to these—that can help you to find your own way. How I faced those experiences, how I walked in my life, how I accepted death. How action was performed, and how transformation has come. My whole life, once understood, gives a clear picture of the way. When we have understood all these things, then we have to bring that understanding into our practice. Then we become free. If one individual is liberated in this way, then the mission of my life has been fulfilled. That is why I am giving these statements—so that it will be helpful for the public. That is why I have agreed to this interview. Otherwise I would remain in total silence.

The total picture is the integrated evolution of the individual and that power. When we become totally free in our action, only then is our birth fruitful. Then our life is really fulfilled. Freedom is the goal. Everyone should become free. And all have come to life only for that purpose—that freedom itself is bliss for all, for every individual. Every individual should be released from bondage. If I alone become free, it is not enough to make me happy. Everyone should become like that. Every soul has to become free. I have had a glimpse of that possibility, and if all were free, that would be true bliss for me.

AC: So this is for the benefit of mankind.

Ajja: Yes. This message is for the whole of humanity. When there is purity within, mind, heart and action should be one. Mind and heart should be pure and our deeds should be the same. We all have to go beyond thought to that state in which there are no obstacles at all. It is by this true search alone that one becomes a universal soul. And every individual has that capacity. Not just one. Every individual has the capacity to become That.

I am not in mind at all. I am in a state beyond all thoughts and emotions. I am speaking, but I don’t know anything. I don’t think; I read no books. For the true knowledge itself, none of this is necessary. For intellectual discourse, books are necessary, but for Self-experience, nothing is required. If I am in some remote corner, also it doesn’t stop. It spreads through the whole universe, percolates through the whole universe. If one reaches that state of ananda, even if he is in some remote corner, it just spreads. Even if he tries to hide, it just radiates from him. It reaches throughout the whole universe, the entire cosmos.

So . . . what are you going to do with what you have recorded?

AC: It will be part of an article about you—your experience and what you are saying—that will help people in America and other places to benefit from what you have discovered.

Ajja: It feels as if you are very known to us. You do not feel like a stranger to me.

AC: Yes, I feel the same way.

Ajja: There is no America and no India. There is only the whole universe.

This interview was first seen here.

Read about a visit to Ajja’s ashram.

See a video of Ajja.

For more posts on Ajja.

To read more from Ajja.