Questioner: We have been staying at the Satya Sai Baba Ashram for some time. We have also spent two months at Sri Ramanashram at Tiruvannamalai. Now we are on our way back to the United States.
Maharaj: Did India cause any change in you?
Q: We feel we have shed our burden. Sri Satya Sai Baba told us to leave everything to him and just live from day to day as righteously as possible. 'Be good and leave the rest to me', he used to tell us.
M: What were you doing at the Sri Ramanashram?
Q: We were going on with the mantra given to us by the Guru. We also did some meditation.
There was not much of thinking or study; we were just trying to keep quiet. We are on the bhakti path and rather poor in philosophy. We have not much to think about -- just trust our Guru and live our lives.
M: Most of the bhaktas trust their Guru only as long as all is well with them. When troubles come, they feel let down and go out in search of another Guru.
Q: Yes, we were warned against this danger. We are trying to take the hard along with the soft. The feeling: 'All is Grace' must be very strong. A sadhu was walking eastwards, from where a strong wind started blowing. The sadhu just turned round and walked west. We hope to live just like that -- adjusting ourselves to circumstances as sent us by our Guru.
M: There is only life. There is nobody who lives a life.
Q: That we understand, yet constantly we make attempts to live our lives instead of just living. Making plans for the future seems to be an inveterate habit with us.
M: Whether you plan or don't, life goes on. But in life itself a little whorl arises in the mind, which indulges in fantasies and imagines itself dominating and controlling life. Life itself is desireless. But the false self wants to continue -- pleasantly. Therefore it is always engaged in ensuring one's continuity. Life is unafraid and free. As long as you have the idea of influencing events, liberation is not for you: The very notion of doership, of being a cause, is bondage.
Q: How can we overcome the duality of the doer and the done?
M: Contemplate life as infinite, undivided, ever present, ever active, until you realise yourself as one with it. It is not even very difficult, for you will be returning only to your own natural condition.
Once you realise that all comes from within, that the world in which you live has not been projected onto you but by you, your fear comes to an end. Without this realisation you identify yourself with the externals, like the body, mind, society, nation, humanity, even God or the Absolute. But these are all escapes from fear. It is only when you fully accept your responsibility for the little world in which you live and watch the process of its creation, preservation and destruction, that you may be free from your imaginary bondage.
Q: Why should I imagine myself so wretched?
M: You do it by habit only. Change your ways of feeling and thinking, take stock of them and examine them closely. You are in bondage by inadvertence. Attention liberates. You are taking so many things for granted. Begin to question. The most obvious things are the most doubtful. Ask yourself such questions as: ‘Was I really born?' 'Am I really so-and-so?’ 'How do I know that I exist? 'Who are my parents?’ 'Have they created me, or have I created them?' 'Must I believe all I am told about myself?' ‘Who am I, anyhow?'. You have put so much energy into building a prison for yourself. Now spend as much on demolishing it. In fact, demolition is easy, for the false dissolves when it is discovered. All hangs on the idea 'I am'. Examine it very thoroughly. It lies at the root of every trouble. It is a sort of skin that separates you from the reality. The real is both within and without the skin, but the skin itself is not real. This 'I am' idea was not born with you. You could have lived very well without it. It came later due to your self-identification with the body. It created an illusion of separation where there was none. It made you a stranger in your own world and made the world alien and inimical. Without the sense of 'I am' life goes on. There are moments when we are without the sense of 'I am'. at peace and happy. With the return of the 'I am' trouble starts.
Q: How is one to be free from the 'I'-sense?
M: You must deal with the 'I'-sense if you want to be free of it. Watch it in operation and at peace, how it starts and when it ceases, what it wants and how it gets it, till you see clearly and understand fully. After all, all the Yogas, whatever their source and character, have only one aim: to save you from the calamity of separate existence, of being a meaningless dot in a vast and beautiful picture.
You suffer because you have alienated yourself from reality and now you seek an escape from this alienation. You cannot escape from your own obsessions. You can only cease nursing them.
It is because the ‘I am' is false that it wants to continue. Reality need not continue -- knowing itself indestructible, it is indifferent to the destruction of forms and expressions. To strengthen, and stabilise the 'I am' we do all sorts of things -- all in vain, for the 'I am' is being rebuilt from moment to moment. It is unceasing work and the only radical solution is to dissolve the separative sense of 'I am such-and-such person' once and for good. Being remains, but not self-being.
Q: I have definite spiritual ambitions. Must I not work for their fulfilment?
M: No ambition is spiritual. All ambitions are for the sake of the 'I am'. If you want to make real progress you must give up all idea of personal attainment. The ambitions of the so-called Yogis are preposterous. A man's desire for a woman is innocence itself compared to the lusting for an everlasting personal bliss. The mind is a cheat. The more pious it seems, the worse the betrayal.
Q: People come to you very often with their worldly troubles and ask for help. How do you know what to tell them?
M: I just tell them what comes to my mind at the moment. I have no standardised procedure in dealing with people.
Q: You are sure of yourself. But when people come to me for advice, how am I to be sure that my advice is right?
M: Watch in what state you are, from what level you talk. If you talk from the mind, you may be wrong. If you talk from full insight into the situation, with your own mental habits in abeyance your advice may be a true response. The main point is to be fully aware that neither you nor the man in front of you are mere bodies; If your awareness is clear and full. a mistake is less probable.