Questioner: From the beginning of my life I am pursued by a sense of incompleteness. From school to college, to work, to marriage, to affluence, I imagined that the next thing will surely give me peace, but there was no peace. This sense of unfulfillment keeps on growing as years pass by.
Maharaj: As long as there is the body and the sense of identity with the body, frustration is inevitable. Only when you know yourself as entirely alien to and different from the body, will you find respite from the mixture of fear and craving inseparable from the 'I-am-the-body' idea. Merely assuaging fears and satisfying desires will not remove this sense of emptiness you are trying to escape from; only self-knowledge can help you. By self-knowledge I mean full knowledge of what you are not. Such knowledge is attainable and final; but to the discovery of what you are there can be no end. The more you discover, the more there remains to discover.
Q: For this we must have different parents and schools, live in a different society.
M: You; cannot change your circumstances, but your attitudes you can change. You need not be attached to the non-essentials. Only the necessary is good. There is peace only in the essential.
Q: It is truth I seek, not peace.
M: You cannot see the true unless you are at peace. A quiet mind is essential for right perception, which again is required for self-realisation.
Q: I have so much to do. I just cannot afford to keep my mind quiet.
M: It is because of your illusion that you are the doer. In reality things are done to you, not by you.
Q: If I just let things happen, how can I be sure that they will happen my way? Surely I must bend them to my desire.
M: Your desire just happens to you along with its fulfilment, or non-fulfilment. You can change neither. You may believe that you exert yourself, strive and struggle. Again, it all merely happens, including the fruits of the work. Nothing is by you and for you. All is in the picture exposed on the cinema screen, nothing in the light, including what you take yourself to be, the person. You are the light only.
Q: If I am light only, how did I come to forget it?
M: You have not forgotten. It is in the picture on the screen that you forget and then remember.
You never cease to be a man because you dream to be a tiger. Similarly you are pure light appearing as a picture on the screen and also becoming one with it.
Q: Since all happens, why should I worry?
M: Exactly. Freedom is freedom from worry. Having realised that you cannot influence the results, pay no attention to your desires and fears. Let them come and go. Don't give them the nourishment of interest and attention.
Q: If I turn my attention from what happens, what am I to live by?
M: Again it is like asking: 'What shall I do, if I stop dreaming?' Stop and see. You need not be anxious: 'What next?' There is always the next. Life does not begin nor, end: immovable -- it moves, momentary -- it lasts. Light can not be exhausted even if innumerable pictures are projected by it.
So does life fill every shape to the brim and return to its source, when the shape breaks down.
Q: If life is so wonderful, how could ignorance happen?
M: You want to treat the disease without having seen the patient! Before you ask about ignorance, why don't you enquire first, who is the ignorant? When you say you are ignorant, you do not know that you have imposed the concept of ignorance over the actual state of your thoughts and feelings. Examine them as they occur, give them your full attention and you will find that there is nothing like ignorance, only inattention. Give attention to what worries you, that is all. After all, worry is mental pain and pain is invariably a call for attention. The moment you give attention, the call for it ceases and the question of ignorance dissolves. Instead of waiting for an answer to your question, find out who is asking the question and what makes him ask it. You will soon find that it is the mind, goaded by fear of pain, that asks the question. And in fear there is memory and anticipation, past and future. Attention brings you back to the present, the now, and the presence in the now is a state ever at hand, but rarely noticed.
Q: You are reducing sadhana to simple attention. How is it that other teachers teach complete, difficult and time-consuming courses?
M: The Gurus usually teach the sadhanas by which they themselves have reached their goal, whatever their goal may be. This is but natural, for their own sadhana they know intimately. I was taught to give attention to my sense of 'I amí and I found it supremely effective. Therefore, I can speak of it with full confidence. But often people come with their bodies, brain and minds so mishandled, perverted and weak, that the state of formless attention is beyond them. In such cases, some simpler token of earnestness is appropriate. The repetition of a mantra, or gazing at a picture will prepare their body and mind for a deeper and more direct search. After all, it is earnestness that is indispensable, the crucial factor. Sadhana is only a vessel and it must be filled to the brim with earnestness, which is but love in action. For nothing can be done without love.
Q: We love only ourselves.
M: Were it so, it would be splendid! Love your self wisely and you will reach the summit of perfection. Everybody loves his body, but few love their real being.
Q: Does my real being need my love?
M: Your real being is love itself and your many loves are its reflections according to the situation at the moment.
Q: We are selfish, we know only self-love.
M: Good enough for a start. By all means wish yourself well. Think over, feel out deeply what is really good for you and strive for it earnestly. Very soon you will find that the real is your only good.
Q: Yet I do not understand why the various Gurus insist on prescribing complicated and difficult sadhanas. Don't they know better?
M: It is not what you do, but what you stop doing that matters. The people who begin their sadhana are so feverish and restless, that they have to be very busy to keep themselves on the track. An absorbing routine is good for them. After some time they quieten down and turn away from effort. In peace and silence the skin of the 'I' dissolves and the inner and the outer become one. The real sadhana is effortless.
Q: I have sometimes the feeling that space itself is my body.
M: When you are bound by the illusion: 'I am this body', you are merely a point in space and a moment in time. When the self-identification with the body is no more, all space and time are in your mind, which is a mere ripple in consciousness, which is awareness reflected in nature. Awareness and matter are the active and the passive aspects of pure being, which is in both and beyond both. Space and time are the body and the mind of the universal existence. My feeling is that all that happens in space and time happens to me, that every experience is my experience every form is my form. What I take myself to be, becomes my body and all that happens to that body becomes my mind. But at the root of the universe there is pure awareness, beyond space and time, here and now. Know it to be your real being and act accordingly.
Q: What difference will it make in action what I take myself to be. Actions just happen according to circumstances.
M: Circumstances and conditions rule the ignorant. The knower of reality is not compelled. The only law he obeys is that of love.