What am I looking for?
Deva Parmita, man is a search for the self – not for A self but for THE self. Man is constantly seeking the lost paradise: somewhere deep in the recesses of human beings, the nostalgia persists. We have known something that is only a far faraway memory. The memory is not even conscious; we have lost all track of it, where it is. But the fragrance goes on arising.
Hence religion is not an accidental phenomenon. It is not going to disappear from the world; no communism, no fascism can make it disappear. Religion is going to remain, because it is very essential. Unless a man surpasses humanity, unless a man becomes a Buddha, religion remains relevant. Only for a Buddha is religion irrelevant. He has arrived: now there is no need for any search.
Parmita, there are not different searches for different human beings. The search is singular, it is one, it is universal. The search is for the self, the supreme self. One wants to know, “Who am I?” because everything else is secondary. Without knowing oneself, whatsoever one is doing is pointless. Unless I know exactly who I am, my whole life is going to remain futile. It will not bring fruition, it will not bring flowering, it will not bring fulfillment.
The first step has to be that of self-knowledge. But the paradox is that if you start searching for A self you will miss THE self. By “a self” I mean the ego, the process of egoing. That is a false self: because we cannot find the true, we start creating the false, just to console ourselves. It is a substitute. But the substitute can never become the truth, and the substitute becomes a bondage.
Truth liberates. Substitutes for truth create prisons. The ego is the greatest prison that man has yet invented; you are all feeling suffocated, crushed. It is not that somebody else is doing it to you: you are the doer of it. You have taken a wrong step. Rather than searching for that which is, you have started substituting something for it – a toy, a pseudo thing. It may console you, but it cannot bring celebration to your life. And all consolation is suicidal, because while you remain consoled, time goes on slipping out of your hands.
THE self is not A self. The self is exactly a no-self: there is no idea of ‘I’ in it, it is universal. All ideas arise in it, but it cannot be identified with any idea that arises in it. All ideas arise in it, all ideas dissolve in it. It is the sky, the context of all contexts, it is the space in which everything happens. But the space itself never happens – it abides, it is always there, and because it is always there, it is easy to miss it. Because it is so much there and always there, you never become aware of its presence.
It is like the air: you don’t become aware of its presence. It is like the ocean that surrounds the fish: the fish never becomes aware of it. It is like the pressure of the air: the pressure is so much, it has always been there, but you are not aware of it. It is like gravitation: it is so much, but you are not aware of it. It is like the earth rushing with great speed round and round the sun: the earth is a spaceship, but nobody is aware of it. We are aboard a spaceship, and it is going at a great speed. Still we are not aware of it.
Awareness needs some gaps. When there are no gaps you fall asleep; you cannot remain aware.
If one has always been healthy, one will not be aware of health. Awareness needs gaps – sometimes you should not be healthy. You should fall ill, then you can have a sense of health. If there was no darkness in the world and there was only light, nobody would have ever known light; people would have missed it.
That’s how we go on missing the original self – you can call it God or nirvana, it doesn’t matter. Sufis have two beautiful words. One is fana: fana means dissolving the ego, dissolving the false substitute. And the other word is baqa: baqa means the arrival, the arising, of the real self.
The real self is universal. How to find it? It is not far away, so you are not to make a long journey to it. It is so close that no journey is needed at all. It is within you. Rather than journeying, you will have to learn how to sit silently.
That’s what meditation is all about – just sitting silently doing nothing. Thoughts arise: you watch. Desires arise: you watch. But you remain the watcher. You don’t become a victim of the desires and the thoughts that are arising; you remain a watcher. You remain the context of all contexts, you remain the space before which everything appears. But the space never appears before itself – it cannot, it is impossible.
The mirror cannot mirror itself, the eyes cannot see themselves. I cannot catch hold of my hand with the same hand; it is impossible.
This is the most fundamental thing to remember, Parmita. You are the watcher and never the watched, you are the observer and never the observed, you are the witness and never the witnessed. You are pure subjectivity. You never appear as an object – how can you appear as an object in front of yourself? Whatsoever appears in front of you is not you.
Go on eliminating the contents. Go on saying, “Neti neti, I am not this, I am not this.” Go on eliminating, and a moment comes when there is nothing left to eliminate. There is pure silence: no content moves in front of you, the mirror reflects nothing. That is the moment when self-knowing arises in you. You become illumined, you are enlightened.
So these few fundamentals are to be remembered: the self is a no-self. The self is not personal, it is universal. The self is the space or context in which all “positionality” in life appears, occurs, arises. It is the screen of life, but the screen itself never appears on the screen, it cannot. Everything else appears on it, it itself remains hidden. It is pure subjectivity.
This pure subjectivity is the ultimate goal everybody is searching for. But it seems difficult. We are so prone to become identified with the contents. So rather than searching for the real, we create something unreal, which is easy. The artificial is always easy, you can manufacture it.
Your ego is a manufactured phenomenon. And once you have manufactured the ego…
How is the ego manufactured? “I am a Hindu”: now you are on the way to creating an ego. “I am beautiful, I am intelligent, I am this, I am that” – you are bringing more and more bricks to make the prison called ego.
And this is what we go on doing in our whole life. Earn more money, have a bigger bank balance, and your ego will feel more grounded, more supported, more secure. Become famous: the more people know about you, the more you will think you are.
Hence the constant search for attention. If nobody pays any attention to you, you are reduced to nothing. If you move on the street and nobody says hello, people go on passing by, not even taking any note of you, suddenly you start feeling the earth disappearing underneath your feet. What has happened? They are not feeding your ego. But people feed each other’s egos, because that’s how THEY can be fed. Somebody says, “How are you?” He is really saying, “Ask ME, ‘How are you?’” He is simply asking for mutual gratification. And people do gratify each other; we support each other’s egos: somebody praises you, you praise him in return.
That’s what we call society. It depends on mutual satisfactions, and the greatest satisfaction seems to be ego-gratification.
Hence people are interested so much in politics, because politics can gratify you as nothing else can. If you become politically powerful the whole country is in your grip; the whole country has to pay attention to you. You can impose your will on people, you have power.
The power of a politician is the power of violence. Now he controls the whole mechanism of violence: he controls the police, the government, the military, he controls everything. He can impose his will on you. That’s why politicians tend to become violent sooner or later. Politicians hanker deep down for wars, because it is only in war that a politician becomes a great politician. If you go through history you will see the point.
Winston Churchill would not have been such a great leader if there had been no second world war. Neither would Adolf Hitler have been such a power if there had been no second world war, not would Mussolini. The war created the context: they were able to be as violent as possible. They were able to butcher people, to murder people, in millions.
People immediately pay attention when you are violent. If you live a peaceful life, no newspaper is going to report about you in your whole life. But if you kill somebody or you commit suicide, you will be immediately in the newspapers.
Just a few days ago, Reverend Jones committed suicide with all of his nine hundred disciples. You had never heard about this poor man before, nobody knew that there was anybody like that. Now the whole world knows.
They had lived in that commune for many years, but nobody would take any note of them. It is possible that had you taken note of them, they might not have needed to go to such an extreme, they might not have committed suicide. This is his way of making the whole world feel his presence – this is a very pathological way, ugly, but this is the same phenomenon again. People are searching for the ego: if they cannot find it through being creative, they will find it through being destructive. If they cannot find it by being a great saint, they will find it by being a great sinner.
Somebody asked George Bernard Shaw, “Where would you like to go when you die – to heaven or to hell?” He said, “It all depends.”
The man said, “What do you mean, ‘It all depends’?”
He said, “If I am going to be the first in heaven, then to heaven. If I am going to be second there, no. Then it is better to be in hell but be first.”
He is joking, but he is telling a truth – a truth about you, a truth about the whole humanity, the way it lives through ambition, through egoing.
Remember, the real self has nothing to do with anybody else paying attention to you. Note the difference: the false self needs others’ attention to be paid to you, and the real self only needs your attention – just your attention, and that’s enough.
If you turn your attention inwards, you will know the real self. If you go on seeking others’ attention, you will continuously live in a false entity which is always ready to disappear if you don’t feed it continuously. It has to be supported.
The ego is not an entity. It is not a noun, it is a verb. That’s why I am saying it is egoing. You cannot remain satisfied with any attention paid to you, you have to ask and hanker for more. You have to go on egoing; it is only through egoing that the ego can exist. It is a process – and it is so false and its demands are so ugly! It is a lie. It demands more and more lies from you, and to gratify it you have to become utterly false. You have to become a personality.
A personality means a false phenomenon, a mask. You have to become an actor; you are no longer a real person, you are no longer authentic. You don’t have any substance, you are just a shadow. And because of this shadow there is always fear of death, because any moment this shadow can disappear.
Your bank can go bankrupt, and immediately you are gone, you are nobody. Your power can be lost, because there are other competitors pushing you. This whole life is a constant pushing and pulling, hence there is so much agony.
Do you know the root of the word agony? It comes from ag: ag means pushing. You are continuously being pushed, and in your turn you are pushing others; that creates agony.
The whole world lives in anguish and agony. Only the person who comes to know his real self goes beyond it and enters into the world of ecstasy. And there are the two states: agony and ecstasy.
Parmita, you are in agony, as everybody else is. And the search is for ecstasy. Remember always, your commitments, your ideologies, your so-called ultimate values, your theologies, philosophies and religions provide contexts, often valuable contexts, for individual existence. But they are not what you are.
You are not even your body. You are not your mind. You are neither black nor white, you are neither Indian nor German. You cannot be defined in any way, all definitions will fall short. You are indefinable; you are something that surpasses all definitions. You are the vast sky in which planets appear and earths appear, and sun and moon and stars – and they all disappear, and the sky remains as it has remained always. The sky knows no change. You are that unchanging sky. Clouds come and go, you are always here.
When Raman Maharshi was dying, somebody asked, “Bhagwan, soon you will be leaving your body; where will you go?” He opened his eyes, laughed and said, “Where can I go? I have been here, I will be here. Where can I go – WHERE? There is nowhere to go. I am everywhere: I have been here and I will remain here for ever and ever.”
He is saying that he has come to know his being as the sky; he is no longer a cloud.
If you really want to search for the real self, don’t get attached to any commitment, to any program, to any idea. Remain unattached, flexible, fluid; don’t become stagnant. Always remain in a state of unfrozenness; don’t freeze. The moment you freeze, you have something false in your hands; a cloud has arisen. Remain in a state of meltedness, don’t become committed to any form or name. And then something tremendous starts happening to you: for the first time you start feeling who you are.
The feeling does not come from the outside, it arises from the inner depths of your being. It floods you. It is light, utter light, it is bliss, utter bliss. It is divine. It is another name for God.
Never become crystallized; if you become crystallized in something, you are encaged. Remain free, remain freedom. All identity creates fixation; and every fixation, every identification, is a liability. The more fixed one’s identity, the less the experience of which one is capable. The point is not to lack a position, but not to be positional.
I am not saying to become unthinking. Remain intelligent, capable of thinking, but never get identified with any thought. Use the thought as a tool, as an instrument; remember that you are the master.
Not to be attached to whatever position one has at any particular moment is the beginning of self-knowledge. One IS, one experiences aliveness, to the extent to which one can transcend particular positions and can assume other viewpoints.
That’s what I mean by remaining fluid, flowing. One should remain available to the present. Die to the past each moment, so that nothing about you remains fixed. Don’t carry a character around yourself; all characters are armors, imprisonments.
The real man of character is characterless – you will be surprised by this. The real man of character is characterless: he has consciousness, but he has no character. He lives moment to moment. Responsible he is, but he responds out of the moment, not out of past contexts. He carries no ready-made programs in his being. The more you have ready-made programs, the more you are an ego. When you have none – no programs, nothing ready-made in you – when each moment you are as fresh as if you are born anew, to me that is freedom. And only a free consciousness can know the true self.
This is the search, Parmita. Nothing else will ever satisfy, nothing else can ever satisfy. All are consolations – and it is better to drop them, it is better to become aware that consolations are not going to help.
This is what I call sannyas: dropping consolations, renouncing consolations – not the world but consolations – renouncing all that is false, becoming true, becoming simple, natural, spontaneous. That’s my vision of a sannyasin, the vision of total freedom.
And in those beautiful moments of total freedom, the first rays of light enter you, the first glimpses of who you are. And the grandeur of it is such, and the splendor of it is such, that you will be surprised to find that you have been carrying the kingdom of God within you and you have remained so unaware, and for so long. You will be surprised that it was possible not to know such a treasure. Such an inexhaustible treasure is within you.
Jesus goes on repeating again and again, “The kingdom of God is within you.” Call it the kingdom of God or the supreme self or nirvana or whatever you will, that is our search – everyone’s, not only of human beings but of all beings. Even trees are growing towards it, even birds are searching for it, even rivers are rushing towards it. The whole existence is an adventure.
And that is the beauty of this existence. If it was not an adventure, life would be absolute boredom. Life is a celebration because it is an adventure.
From Unio Mystica, V.2, Chapter Two
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