Self-Enquiry – Ramana Maharshi

Disciple: Master! What is the means to gain the state of eternal bliss, ever devoid of misery?

Master: Apart from the statement in the Veda that wherever there is body there is misery, this is also the direct experience of all people; therefore, one should enquire into one’s true nature which is ever bodiless, and one should remain as such. This is the means to gaining that state.

D: What is meant by saying that one should enquire into one’s true nature and understand it?

M: Experiences such as “I went; I came; I was; I did” come naturally to everyone. From these experiences, does it not appear that the consciousness “I” is the subject of those various acts?
Enquiry into the true nature of that consciousness, and remaining as oneself is the way to understand, through enquiry, one’s true nature.

D: How is one to enquire: “Who am I?”

M: Actions such as ‘going’ and ‘coming’ belong only to the body. And so, when one says “I went, I came”, it amounts to saying that the body is “I”. But, can the body be said to be the consciousness “I”, since the body was not before it was born, is made up of the five elements, is non-existent in the state of deep sleep, and becomes a corpse when dead? Can this body which is inert like a log of wood be said to shine as “I” “I”? Therefore, the “I” consciousness which at first arises in respect of the body is referred to variously as self-conceit (tarbodham), egoity (ahankara), nescience (avidya), maya, impurity (mala), and individual soul (jiva) . Can we remain without enquiring into this? Is it not for our redemption through enquiry that all the scriptures declare that the destruction of “self-conceit” is release (mukti)? Therefore, making the corpse-body remain as a corpse, and not even uttering the word “I”, one should enquire keenly thus: “Now, what is it that rises as ‘I’”. Then, there would shine in the Heart a kind of wordless illumination of the form ‘I’ ‘I’. That is, there would shine of its own accord the pure consciousness which is unlimited and one, the limited and the many thoughts having disappeared. If one remains quiescent without abandoning that (experience), the egoity, the individual sense, of the form ‘I am the body’ will be totally destroyed, and at the end the final thought, viz. the ‘I’- form also will be quenched like the fire that burns camphor.* The great sages and scriptures declare that this alone is release.

D: When one enquires into the root of ‘self-conceit’ which is of the form ‘I’, all sorts of different thoughts without number seem to rise; and not any separate ‘I’ thought.

M: Whether the nominative case, which is the first case, appears or not, the sentences in which the other cases appear have as their basis the first case; similarly, all the thoughts that appear in the heart have as their basis the egoity which is the first mental mode ‘I’, the cognition of the form ‘I am the body’; thus, it is the rise of egoity that is the cause and source of the rise of all other thoughts; therefore, if the self-conceit of the form of egoity which is the root of the illusory tree of samsara (bondage consisting of transmigration) is destroyed, all other thoughts will perish completely like an uprooted tree. Whatever thoughts arise as obstacles to one’s sadhana (spiritual discipline) – the mind should not be allowed to go in their direction, but should be made to rest in one’s self which is the Atman; one should remain as witness to whatever happens, adopting the attitude ‘Let whatever strange things happen, happen; let us see!’ This should be one’s practice. In other words, one should not identify oneself with appearances; one should never relinquish one’s self. This is the proper means for destruction of the mind (manonasa) which is of the nature of seeing the body as self, and which is the cause of all the aforesaid obstacles. This method which easily destroys egoity deserves to be called devotion (bhakti), meditation (dhyana), concentration (yoga), and knowledge (jnana). Because God remains of the nature of the Self, shining as ‘I’ in the heart, because the scriptures declare that thought itself is bondage, the best discipline is to stay quiescent without ever forgetting Him (God, the Self), after resolving in Him the mind which is of the form of the ‘I’-thought, no matter by what means. This is the conclusive teaching of the Scriptures.

*i.e., without leaving any sediment.

-Ramana Maharshi

From Self – Enquiry (Vicharasangraham) of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi

Here you can download a PDF of the entire book.

Only One Real Choice – Annamalai Swami

Question:  Bhagavan (Ramana Maharshi) once remarked that free will is non-existent, that all our activities are predetermined and that our only real choice is either to identify with the body that is performing the actions or with the underlying Self in which the body appears.

Someone once said to him: ‘If I drop this fan, will that be an act that has always been destined to happen in this moment?’

And Bhagavan replied, ‘It will be a predestined act’.

I assume that these predestined acts are all ordained by God, and that as a consequence, nothing happens that is not God’s will, because we, as individuals, have no power to deviate from God’s ordained script.

A question arises out of this. If I remember the Self, is this God’s will? And if I forget to remember at a certain moment, is this also God’s will?

Or, taking my own case, if I make an effort to listen to the sound ‘I-I, is this God’s will, or is it individual effort?

Annamalai Swami:  Forgetfulness of the Self happens because of non-enquiry. So I say, ‘Remove the forgetfulness through enquiry’. Forgetfulness or non-forgetfulness is not a part of your destiny. It is something you can choose from moment to moment. That is what Bhagavan said. He said that you have the freedom either to identify with the body and its activities, and in doing so forget the Self, or you can identify with the Self and have the understanding that the body is performing its predestined activities, animated and sustained by the power of the Self.

If you have an oil lamp and you forget to put oil in it, the light goes out. It was your forgetfulness and your lack of vigilance that caused the light to go out. Your thoughts were elsewhere. They were not on tending the lamp.

In every moment you only have one real choice: to be aware of the Self or to identify with the body and the mind. If you choose the latter course, don’t blame God or God’s will, or predestination. God did not make you forget the Self. You yourself are making that choice every second of your life.

-Annamalai Swami

From Final Talks, page 38

 

Discrimination – Annamalai Swami

Question:  ‘All is one’ may be the truth, but one can’t treat everything in the world equally. In daily life one still has to discriminate and make distinctions.

Annamalai Swami:  I once went for a walk near the housing board buildings [government flats that were built in the 1970s about 300 metres from Annamalai Swami’s ashram]. There was a sewage trench on one side of the building. I could smell the stench of the sewage even though I was a long way away. I stayed away from it because I didn’t want to be nauseated by the bad smell.

In circumstances such as these you don’t say, ‘All is one. Everything is the Self,’ and paddle through the sewage. The knowledge ‘everything is the Self’ may be there, but that doesn’t mean that you have to put yourself in dangerous or health-threatening places.

When you have become one with the Self, a great power takes you over and runs your life for you. It looks after your body; it puts you in the right place at the right time; it makes you say the right things to the people you meet. This power takes you over so completely, you no longer have any ability to decide or discriminate. The ego that thinks, ‘I must do this,’ or ‘I should not do that,’ is no longer there. The Self simply animates you and makes you do all the things that need to be done.

If you are not in this state, then use your discrimination wisely. You can choose to sit in a flower garden and enjoy the scent of the blooms, or you can go down to that trench I told you about and make yourself sick by inhaling the fumes there.

So, while you still have an ego, and the power of discrimination that goes with it, use it to inhale the fragrance that you find in the presence of an enlightened being. If you spend time in the proximity of a jnani, his peace will sink into you to such an extent that you will find yourself in a state of peace. If, instead, you choose to spend all your time with people whose minds are always full of bad thoughts, their mental energy and vibrations will start to seep into you.

I tell you regularly, ‘You are the Self. Everything is the Self.’ If this is not your experience, pretending that ‘all is one’ may get you into trouble. Advaita may be the ultimate experience, but it is not something that mind that still sees distinctions can practice.

Electricity is a useful form of energy, but it is also potentially harmful. Use it wisely. Don’t put your finger in the socket, thinking ‘all is one’. You need a body that is in good working order in order to realise the Self. Realising the Self is the only useful and worthy activity in this life, so keep the body in good repair till that goal is achieved. Afterwards, the Self will take care of everything and you won’t have to worry about anything anymore. In fact, you won’t be able to because the mind that previously did the worrying, the choosing and the discriminating will no longer be there. In that state you won’t need it and you won’t miss it.

-Annamalai Swami

From Final Talks, pages 27-28

The Ultimate Happiness: A Conversation with Robert Adams

This article was published In the Fall Issue of Inner Directions, 1995.

Robert Adams: There is one thing I can tell you for sure. All is well. Everything is unfolding as it should. I can tell you that truly nothing is wrong anywhere. If you think you have a problem, that’s the mistake — thinking you have a problem. As soon as you stop thinking, everything will go right.
Questioner: Isn’t everything going right while you are thinking?
R: Yes, but you don’t know it. Some of us don’t think it is, saying, “I’ve got a problem,” or “I’m involved in some-thing I can’t handle which is bigger than I am,” or “Some-thing hurts me,” or “I feel anger.” But I can assure you, there is nothing wrong! All that you have to do is watch yourself. As soon as your mind starts thinking past your nose, grab it — not your nose, but your thoughts. You can grab your nose too if you want (laughter). Grasp your thoughts with your mind, and put a stop to them any way you can, either by observing the thoughts or by practicing self-enquiry and asking to whom they occur. Whatever you need to do, do not allow yourself to think. If your mind does not think, you will be exceedingly happy. You will have unalloyed happiness.
Some people ask me, “Robert, why don’t you just speak the highest truth all the time?” Some others tell me to speak in such a way that they can understand what I am talking about (laughter). So that is the dilemma. I do whatever I have to do. I plan nothing. Everything is extemporaneous. I have no rehearsals.
A man called me yesterday telling me he had been practicing for two weeks, took a seminar and paid seven hundred dollars, and is still not realized. I get calls like this all the time. What you say determines the answer I give you. But there is a standard answer. Think of the question, “When will I become self-realized?” Before I answer this one, I usually ask, “Please tell me what do you mean by `I’?” Then I further ask, “What do you mean by `Self-realization’?” They usually become silent, so I finally ask, “Who do you think the `I’ is? Who wants to become Self-realized?”
If you can’t do anything else, surrender to consciousness. By surrender, I mean surrender your ego, your problems, your emotions, your fears, your frustrations and anger. Give it all up. Say, “Take it, consciousness!”
Do not get carried away by your emotions. Stop in the middle and watch. Watch your emotions ruling you. Watch your fears controlling you. Watch your anger arise. Do not try to stop it, just watch and observe. Look intelligently and realize who it is that is getting angry. It is not you. It is not even your ego because there is no ego. It is not your body because there is no body. It is not your mind because there is no mind. Therefore, what is making you angry? Nothing.
I was talking about all the phone calls I’ve been receiving. People still ask what I think about this or that teacher, this or that person, or why shouldn’t they go to see other teachers as well? I really don’t know what to say. You have to do what you have to do. I can tell you that the more people you consult, the more confused you’ll become. I don’t care if you never come back here again because I am not looking for anything.
If you do find a teacher that you seem to have an affinity for, you should stick around for a while. If you run from teacher to teacher, you will become totally confused. Every teacher has his place. You will be attracted to the person you have to be with for as long as necessary. It depends on where your consciousness is.
Q: Robert, throughout the spiritual literature there are distinctions made between a gradual path and instantaneous enlightenment. A lot of this stuff about passing through stages — I can’t relate to it. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.
R: What can’t you relate to?
Q: Just the idea that you pass through one stage to the next stage.
R: This is for the person who is striving. The truth is there is nothing to pass through. It appears that some people, who need to understand these things and research them for themselves, will be helped to see where they are coming from. Perhaps you don’t need it.
Q: The state of happiness you talk about I would not call happiness. The state seems far above happiness. Happiness as the opposite of sadness.
R: You are right.
Q: Sadness could even come into that state you are I and it would only be something that was passing through with no identification.
R: You are right. As an example, I can cry at a funeral but I realize who is crying. I can have sadness if I want to but I am never really sad.
Q: The state of non-attached mind, that’s really the closest thing to it, isn’t it?
R: That’s true. I am looking for words to describe things. More importantly, there is always total happiness. It is not human happiness. For most people to be happy, there has to be a person, place, or thing involved in their happiness. In true happiness, there are no things involved. It’s a natural state. You will abide in that state forever.
Q: From the standpoint of practice, I have noticed that no matter what state arises, the problem is whether I am willing to let this go. Is it important for me to stay in my emotional state? The answer is that there is nothing you can do anyway as it comes and goes.
R: Act as if there is something you can do, even though there is nothing you can do. If you were passing a starving man in the room, don’t think there is nothing you can do. Give him a piece of bread.
Q: But in that state of mind arising, emotions arising, perceptions arising, there is nothing you can do.
R: Except watch. Just watch. Just observe. Another thing to consider is this: if you were here as a visitor, having only one meeting with me, and you would never see me again, I would expound the highest truth to you and take off. You would say how great that is. But when I see you twice a week or more, I begin to know you quite well, and everything I say is to help you grow because that is what is needed at that time, since I’m going to be with you again. To people who were with Ramana Maharshi as devotees, he didn’t expound absolute truth to them all the time. He would talk to them like an ordinary person. He would inquire about their welfare, their health, about their problems, and he would give them practical advice. He wouldn’t say, “Nothing matters because nothing exists.” They had problems. So he would talk to them in a practical manner.
Q: If we don’t see progress within ourselves and see we are continually getting upset, we shouldn’t let that bother us?
R: Keep observing, keep watching, keep focusing on the Self, and there will be nobody to ask who is bothered or who is not bothered. You only ask such a question when your attention is more on the bothering than it is on the Self. If you change your attention to the Self, see what happens.
Q: The question is, is that gradual?
R: For some people. It depends on how much time you give to it.
Q: We can’t just turn our emotions off. When I go to work sometimes, I find such an intensity there, with people snapping at each other, I get caught up in it. Of course I become aware, usually after the fact, asking myself, “will this disappear gradually by abiding in myself, or will I someday suddenly awaken?”
R: In the morning, when you first open your eyes, that’s the time to work on yourself. Ask yourself, “Who am I? How did I get here?” Reconcile yourself with yourself. If you do that upon first waking up, the whole day will be good, without these problems. Just don’t go straight to work. Get up an hour early if you have to. See yourself for what you are, and realize the truth. Focus on the self. Ask yourself, “Who Am I?” and wait. Concentrate on the source of “I Am,” or say to your-self, “I Am, I Am,” and then go to work. Then you will see changes. You will build up a power that you will carry with yourself all day long.
Q: To follow that “I” to its source, to find the “I” by self-enquiry and abide in it seems to mean non-existence, statelessness.
R: Don’t worry about being non-existent. Simply observe the “I,” and watch it going into the heart.
Q: It is not so much a following then, but that it happens by itself?
R: It happens by itself.
Q: When I contemplate “I Am,” does it mean that already I am the Self?
R: Yes it does.
Q: Robert, it’s because we have the concept we are not the Self that we miss the fact that we are abiding in the Self all the time. As Ramesh Balsekar has said, we only have the doubt we are not the Self, but the truth is we have always been it.
R: Exactly. When we don’t see that, we go through all these troubles and play all these games, until we realize we are the Self. Then that is it.
Q: If we don’t have the Self and are saying, “I am it,” what is to keep that from becoming a parrot-like repetition?
R: It doesn’t become a parrot-like repetition if you do it with your breath. When you inhale, say “I.” When you exhale, say “Am.” A subtle change of energy takes place within the Self, and you will become more peaceful, calm, and soon you will lose all identification with your body and mind. You will remain as “I Am.”
Q: Robert, when we do self-enquiry, actually that is the beginning step to find the “I.” When we develop a sense of abiding in the “I,” there isn’t much need of enquiry because we go straight to the abidance.
R: Self-enquiry has no beginning. If you practice “Who Am I,” it sounds simple, but is very powerful. Only say, “Who Am I?” then pause, then say it again, “Who Am I?” Never answer the question. Just keep repeating “Who Am I?” Eventually, something will happen.
Q: I’m asking, if you develop a sense of self-abidance, you can watch states come and go, watch identification with the ego, and then self-enquiry is not necessary if you can go directly to that.
R: If you are abiding in the Self, there is no ego to watch — there is only the Self. You watch the ego with the mind, not with the Self. If you abide in the Self, there is nothing else. You are finished. You’re cooked. Everything else is of the mind. When I say abide in the Self, I mean for-get everything and be yourself. There is nothing else to know at that point.

 

 

The ‘Spiritual I’ – Lucy Cornelssen

There is another rather harmless mistake which happens regularly to beginners. Many of them are blessed with various glimpses of the higher life, which they have entered. These carry the stamp of a genuine change of consciousness, and of course the sadhaka is happy, and convinced that he has made real progress. There is no harm in it, because he soon has to face the fact that his ‘experience’ is fading away, never to return. When this happens again and again, he learns to understand these sparks as what they are, glimpses from another dimension which want to teach him to discriminate between, the different dimensions but which also lure him on in his spiritual endeavour. They only become a pitfall, when he, by vanity or impatience, gets stuck in one of them, taking it for final Realisation. Then his further progress is blocked.

The mark by which this pitfall is recognised is ‘I’ have realised…’ This ‘I’ can only be a ‘wrong I’, because it is not the ‘I’ that realises.

The duty of the sadhaka is to watch himself ceaselessly; he has to know what is going on within himself. There is a serious risk in doing this only when he looks too much at others. When he does, his ‘personal I’ at once makes comparisons; and the result will be: ‘I am holier than thou’.

With this idea he gives his ‘personal I’ a strong chance to develop into a ‘spiritual I’, which is much worse than his original quite ordinary ‘I’, strengthened by all his previous spiritual effort. The result is a spiritual pride, the worse the more advanced the sadhaka has become, because his attainments, serve only to confirm his ‘right’ to be proud of his success. But even if he perceives the gentle Voice from within, warning him against this trend going on in him and reminding him of the secret of real ‘attainment’, silent humility, and even if he is quite prepared to accept the warning, there is still the risk that the cunning ego now is concealing itself behind his pride in his humility!

There is only one remedy against these and all other pitfalls on the Path to Realisation: Alert Awareness, relentlessly focusing on the treacherous ego…I.

Luckily the sadhaka is not left alone in his secret struggle against himself on his lonesome journey towards his high destination. How could he ever reach It. Were It not already within himself? And It never fails to send signals of warning when the traveller is nearing a pitfall or has even been caught by one due to inadvertance.

His is a journey like that in fairy-tales, when the hero has to go through many adventures, to fight against many enemies and even demons, to win the princess at the end. The further he proceeds, the mightier the obstacles.

The most cunning pitfall on the path of the sadhaka is the last one, hidden in Realisation Itself.

The first Revelation of the Self is temporary. “Jnana, once revealed, needs time to steady itself.” (Talks, 141).

The danger is not in the sliding back; it is natural to most sadhakas and is met quite naturally by continuing one’s practice faithfully, which in its turn will lead to further Revelations of the Self until finally there is no sadhaka left, but the Self only.

If, on the other hand, the sadhaka tries to ‘hold on’ to that first Revelation, in spite of his Inner Guide warning him, (Who is holding on?), then the ego…I slinks again in where the Self is veiled again and distorts the Revelation of the Self into the cry of victory: ‘I have realised!’ Blindfolded by the Bliss of the final ‘success’ (‘whose success?’) he never stops to scrutinize his condition and thus never finds out the truth: That he became a yogabhrastha, one who has fallen out of his yoga, his ‘union’.

The new and definitive disguise of his ego…I is ‘the Guru’, and this last and most powerful pitfall never releases him, because he never recognises that he is its victim.

There are nowadays many whose Guru-pitfall caught them even much earlier on their path.

-Lucy Cornelssen

Excerpt From Hunting the ‘I’, Obstacles and Pitfalls, pages 38-40

Two related posts can be found at Awakening Before Enlightenment and  Enlightenment, Before, During and After.

Overcoming The Ghost – Lucy Cornelssen

So what can we do?

There is only one way to overcome the ghost…to watch it. Do not fight, do not resist. Only try to watch it, quietly but ceaselessly. In other words, develop an unconcerned witness consciousness towards men, things and happenings without, but particularly towards yourself within. It means to carry on the calmness of the mind gained in your meditation to cover your whole day. You will distinctly feel it as an undercurrent of peace and detachment.

Of course, as soon as you succeed, the ghost-‘I’ will immediately try to hide itself in this witness-consciousness at the feeling ‘I am the witness’. This again is only a thought. But to be the witness without any I-consciousness is the pure mind at the threshold of Reality.

While following the transformation of your personal ‘I’ into the impersonal ‘witnessing’, you cut at the root of all your ‘personal’ shortcomings, vices and weaknesses, your passions and evil habits, because the root of all this unpleasant ‘you’ is just that personal ‘I’. Try to imagine yourself in the mood of the ‘unconcerned witness’ described above, and you will see that in that state it is impossible to think or act in a negative way, because in that mood you are, though only momentarily, beyond the personal ‘I’. Your sadhana is to keep yourself permanently in the state of ‘detached witnessing’ of all and everything, including the personal ‘I’ when and wherever it should try to raise its head.

In the silent Light of being witnessed it cannot survive. Such ‘witnessing’ will soon grow into pure Awareness, aware only of Itself.

In the words of Ramana Maharshi: “The Truth is that the Self is constant and un-intermittent Awareness.” (Talks, 454).

And in another context: “The essence of mind is only Awareness or Consciousness. When the ego, however, dominates it it functions as the reasoning, thinking or sensing faculty. The cosmic mind being not limited by the ego, has nothing separate from itself and therefore is only aware. This is what the Bible means by ‘I am that I AM’.” (Talks, 188).

Lucy Cornelssen

Excerpt from Hunting The ‘I’, Meditation, pages 31-32

Attention! Attention! – Dada Gavand

An interview with Dada Gavand by Suma Varughese

In his simple, serene way, Dada Gavand teaches to the world that watchful, attentive awareness alone can set the mind free

Sage-philosopher Dada Gavand has a stark and simple philosophy. Watch the patterns of your mind attentively and with awareness. That is all you need to reclaim your heritage of lasting peace and bliss.

So this was his paradise-a clearing in the Yeor Hills on the outskirts of hot and dusty Thane, near Mumbai. A few houses stand gracefully, and at ease, among the trees and the underfoot growth. Birdsong rippled through the air. Hens were scrabbling in the mud, as their chicks huddled under their wings. A few feet away, a black and white kitten, its tail curving in sheer joy of life, pretended to pounce on the hens, who pecked on, unperturbed. A young girl stood in an overgrown yard watching life go by. All was peaceful, simple, natural.

So was the picture book house we stopped at-a narrow two-storey building with sloping tiled roofs. White doves clustered around the gables, and swooped down to drink from the water-holder. Guava and other trees grew robustly in neat round concrete-lined beds. A sunshade with chairs was placed invitingly on one side of the garden. As we stood there and breathed in the visceral peace of the place, we had a precursor of the personality of the owner of the house.

The man who warmly welcomed us was not young. Eighty-five or thereabouts, he was lean and spry, with an alert, lively face, honed to its essence. His movements were fluid and quick and when he sat cross-legged as we talked, his torso was erect and still. He radiated a friendliness and an acceptance that put us at ease instantly. There were no trappings of conventional religion. No pictures of deities or saffron robes or agarbatti. No offerings of flowers and fruits. No genuflection either. He addressed us as matter-of-factly as a tutor would his students.

Dada Gavand is not an advocate of conventional religion, or of any of the tried and tested paths to enlightenment. His prescription is simple: attentive watchful awareness of the patterns of thought. This act alone is enough to vaporize the thoughts and set you free from the burden of the mind. If this is strikingly close to J. Krishnamurti‘s philosophy, it is not without reason. He spent some time with Krishnamurti before he moved on to forge his own inner journey.

Born in 1917 in Mumbai as Dattaram Madhavrao Gavand, his spiritual quest unfolded early. Though born in comfortable surroundings, he chafed at the convention and hypocrisy of society, and the dehumanizing impact of materialism. But he was the eldest and, on his father‘s untimely death, had to assume the responsibilities of taking care of his siblings, which included arranging for their marriages. On the third day of the marriage of the youngest sibling, Dada, as he was universally known, disappeared from home to seek his spiritual destiny. After eight months of solitary seeking and questioning at Mount Sajjangad, he experienced a mystical explosion in his inner domain, a sudden flow of timeless energy within, and a state of peace and ecstasy never known before.

After this, he stayed in semi-solitude for 14 years on Mount Mahabaleshwar. Since 1975, Dada has been sharing his understanding by extensive travel and lectures in the USA, Canada, Europe and of course India. Compiling his experiences and thoughts is his book Beyond the Mind that is about the deeper significance of living. Written in dialogic form, the book tries to answer ideas of liberation, sexuality, healing, imprisonment, expression etc. He has also held numerous meditation camps called Exploration into Oneself, but today he prefers to work with small groups and individuals in order to communicate on a personal level. Where he was once a keen sportsman and freedom fighter, he now writes poetry, excels in photography, and campaigns for freedom of the inner kind.

Excerpts from an intense interview:

What are the main tenets of your philosophy?

I don‘t have a set philosophy. Whatever I say is the outcome of the present moment. Besides, I don‘t trust words. The mind uses them, as it does everything else, to escape from the hard task of changing itself. The basic challenge of man is to discover that quality which is hidden within us and allow it to express itself. But this is difficult because of the blocks the mind sets up, such as the pre-occupation with things, even with reading spiritual literature.

What is the way to overcome these blocks?

There is no set answer. What is the hindrance blocking that quality? We need to be attentive to that block and that‘s the main challenge. Yogis and saints have found out several ways and techniques, but all are used by the mind to keep it busy. I believe only watchful awareness will set us free.

But can this approach work for all?

Why not? The conditioning of the mind is the same.

It is believed that different paths appeal to different temperaments.

By creating different paths we are creating separation and divisiveness. Conflicts arise because each thinks his path is the best.

What have been the significant events of your own spiritual journey?

I listened to masters, even read a few books. But I found that this was my own journey. Nobody can help. What is required is watchful, attentive awareness. It‘s a journey into the inner self, that‘s all. But we hesitate, and the mind is extroverted. It hesitates to take a turn, to enter within. The whole riches of the world, all the virtues, are basically inside. On the outside there is only the concept of virtues. Try to watch these concepts. The mind can never be virtuous or divine. All that is inside.

Can meditation help move the mind within?

Meditation is the fallout of attention-watchful attention. It‘s not a spiritual act. Meditation to me it‘s only a search into oneself, to dispel the patterns of thoughts, to enter the tranquility within.

Can the pursuit of this tranquility be balanced with the demands of a householder‘s life?

Oh, yes. We all need the basics of life for survival. But be balanced. Do not create more wants. We collect more and more of everything, including books. This last is intellectual greed. The mind becomes greedy for knowledge. This is the burden of intellect.

How do you get the mind to let go of this obsession with things?

Look at the world at large. What is so great about it? We never have the time to look at it quietly, independently. What we see is just the continuity of life. To me life is a discovery. We have to find that dynamism, energy.

What is the state of one who has reached inner tranquility?

Abundant peace and contentment. And whenever there is a challenge, there is a response, a creative response that does not resort to memory.

Looking at the world today, what do you think lies ahead for mankind?

The world was always like this. There is not much difference. Krishna, Ram, Buddha came and society digested them all, but it remains the same.

What do you think of the belief in a new age, when society as a whole will be transformed?

Only a human being can achieve enlightenment, not mankind. Only he who is honest, sensible, sensitive, and sincere can hope to achieve this state. And there are very few of such.

So there‘s no likelihood that mankind will attain lasting peace?

Man has always hoped for this. But it depends on each of us. The reality is that we can transform only ourselves. Nature wants man to transform, to become like it. To come back to the natural state is fulfillment. To become free of all obsessions-that is enlightenment.

Does being with nature provide a way within?

Become aware of nature. Become sensitive to it. An intellectual appreciation of it is not enough. We have worshipped the intellect too much. Now we have reached a dead end. The intellect has really obliged us. It has given us so much. But if we want to move further, this intellect is not going to oblige. Its function is over. The mind is secondhand activity, which is born of memory. People have spent so many years in searching for enlightenment. Is so much time necessary? That which is past is over. We avoid freshness of the moment by indulging in the past.

What was your own search like?

I came from a business family. We were fairly rich. But from an early age I was aware of the absurdity of the life we led. Everyone was copying everyone else. We were made by our surroundings-traditions, culture, family background, media. I saw that I was the result of environmental influences, nothing else. I saw people enslaved by social conditioning till the end of their lives. I wondered if another way of life was possible. A mighty intelligence had created the universe and here I was, living like a robot. I wondered if there was a deeper significance to life. At this stage, I visited many ashrams. I went to the Aurobindo ashram, I met Ramana Maharshi and Krishmanurti. I was with Krishnamurti for a while and then I told him that I no longer wanted to read his words or anyone‘s words. I wanted to discover for myself. And do you know what he said? He said: ‘‘I am so glad.” At these ashrams, I saw good people, happy, contented. What was that state of mind, to be contented? I soon came to know that no one could give me the answers. I had to discover them for myself. This whole outer is the manifestation of the mind. But there had to be something intrinsic. Where did that lie? I wondered about the energy that emerged from us, creating desires. We were using that energy for trivial reasons, merely dancing at the periphery of life. We need to ponder about these questions independently. Pondering is a sensitive activity. To look without ideas and opinions and without thought. Is it possible? And generally, there is no time for that. Thought activity is so strong.

When did you find answers to your questions?

There‘s a kind of breakthrough when the situation is right. It is not in our hands. It is a great blessing of nature. He who aspires will be helped by nature. But we must have that strong passion. Our passions are smaller. Born out of other things.

Is there God?

There is another dimension, which is divine, timeless. It‘s an energy. A very intelligent energy. To discover that is the touch of the divine. ‘God’ is a misused term. The mind creates concepts and goes after that. Thought is the barrier between you and the divine. Understand the designs of thought and be aware of them. And then you will dispel the thought patterns. That is important.

What is the relationship between spirituality and creativity? You, for instance, have created copious poetry.

Creation happens in the sensitivity of understanding. After that you are changed. You become highly sensitive. I never wrote poetry. It just came out of me. Suddenly a door had opened from within.

Post enlightenment, what is your role in life?

I have to live life. I don‘t have my own drives and ambitions. I have to live like a simple, humble entity.

To read more from Dada Gavand look here.