Questioner: I was here last year. Now I am again before you. What makes me come I really ~o not know, but somehow I cannot forget you.
Maharaj: Some forget, some do not, according to their destinies, which you may call chance, if you prefer.
Q: Between chance and destiny there is a basic difference.
M: Only in your mind. In fact, you do not know what causes what? Destiny is only a blanket word to cover up your ignorance. Chance is another word.
Q: Without knowledge of causes and their results can there be freedom?
M: Causes and results are infinite in number and variety. Everything affects everything. In this universe, when one thing changes, everything changes. Hence the great power of man in changing the world by changing himself.
Q: According to your own words, you have, by the grace of your Guru, changed radically some forty years ago. Yet the world remains as it had been before.
M: My world has changed completely. Yours remains the same, for you have not changed.
Q: How is it that your change has not affected me?
M: Because there was no communion between us. Do not consider yourself as separate from me and we shall at once share in the common state.
Q: I have some property in the United States which I intend to sell and buy some land in the Himalayas. I shall build a house, lay out a garden, get two or three cows and live quietly. People tell me that property and quiet are not compatible, that I shall at once get into trouble with officials, neighbours and thieves. Is it inevitable?
M: The least you can expect is an endless succession of visitors who will make your abode into a free and open guesthouse. Better accept your life as it shapes, go home and look after your wife with love and care. Nobody else needs you. Your dreams of glory will land you in more trouble.
Q: It is not glory that I seek. I seek Reality.
M: For this you need a well-ordered and quiet life, peace of mind and immense earnestness. At every moment whatever comes to you unasked, comes from God and will surely help you, if you make the fullest use of it. It is only what you strive for, out of your own imagination and desire, that gives you trouble.
Q: Is destiny the same as grace?
M: Absolutely. Accept life as it comes and you will find it a blessing.
Q: I can accept my own life. How can I accept the sort of life others are compelled to live?
M: You are accepting it anyhow. The sorrows of others do not interfere with your pleasures. If you were really compassionate, you would have abandoned long ago all self-concern and entered the state from which alone you can really help.
Q: If I have a big house and enough land, I may create an Ashram, with individual rooms; common meditation hall, canteen, library, office etc.
M: Ashrams are not made, they happen. You cannot start nor prevent them, as you cannot start or stop a river. Too many factors are involved in the creation of a successful Ashram and your inner maturity is only one of them. Of course, if you are ignorant of your real being, whatever you do must turn to ashes. You cannot imitate a Guru and get away with it. All hypocrisy will end in disaster.
Q: What is the harm in behaving like a saint even before being one?
M: Rehearsing saintliness is a sadhana. It is perfectly all right. provided no merit is claimed.
Q: How can I know whether I am able to start an Ashram unless I try?
M: As long as you take yourself to be a person, a body and a mind, separate from the stream of life, having a will of its own, pursuing its own aims, you are living merely on the surface and whatever you do will be short-lived and of little value, mere straw to feed the flames of vanity. You must put in true worth before you can expect something real. What is your worth?
Q: By what measure shall I measure it?
M: Look at the content of your mind. You are what you think about. Are you not most of the time busy with your own little person and its daily needs?
The value of regular meditation is that it takes you away from the humdrum of daily routine and reminds you that you are not what you believe yourself to be. But even remembering is not enough -- action must follow conviction. Don't be like the rich man who has made a detailed will, but refuses to die.
Q: Is not gradualness the law of life?
M: Oh, no. The preparation alone is gradual, the change itself is sudden and complete. Gradual change does not take you to a new level of conscious being. You need courage to let go.
Q: I admit it is courage that I lack.
M: It is because you are not fully convinced. Complete conviction generates both desire and courage. And meditation is the art of achieving faith through understanding. In meditation you consider the teaching received, in all its aspects and repeatedly, until out of clarity confidence is born and, with confidence, action. Conviction and action are inseparable. If action does not follow conviction, examine your convictions, don't accuse yourself of lack of courage. Self-depreciation will take you nowhere. Without clarity and emotional assent of what use is will?
Q: What do you mean by emotional assent? Am I not to act against my desires?
M: You will not act against your desires. Clarity is not enough. Energy comes from love -- you must love to act -- whatever the shape and object of your love. Without clarity and charity courage is destructive. People at war are often wonderfully courageous, but what of it?
Q: I see quite clearly that all I want is a house in a garden where I shall live in peace. Why should I not act on my desire?
M: By all means, act. But do not forget the inevitable, unexpected. Without rain your garden will not flourish. You need courage for adventure.
Q: I need time to collect my courage, don't hustle me. Let me ripen for action.
M: The entire approach is wrong. Action delayed is action abandoned. There may be other chances for other actions, but the present moment is lost -- irretrievably lost. All preparation is for the future -- you cannot prepare for the present.
Q: What is wrong with preparing for the future?
M: Acting in the now is not much helped by your preparations. Clarity is now, action is now. Thinking of being ready impedes action. And action is the touchstone of reality.
Q: Even when we act without conviction?
M: You cannot live without action, and behind each action there is some fear or desire. Ultimately, all you do is based on your conviction that the world is real and independent of yourself. Were you convinced of the contrary, your behaviour would have been quite different.
Q: There is nothing wrong with my convictions; my actions are shaped by circumstances.
M: In other words, you are convinced of the reality of your circumstances, of the world in which you live. Trace the world to its source and you will find that before the world was, you were and when the world is no longer, you remain. Find your timeless being and your action will bear it testimony. Did you find it?
Q: No, I did not.
M: Then what else have you to do? Surely, this is the most urgent task. You cannot see yourself as independent of everything unless you drop everything and remain unsupported and undefined.
Once you know yourself, it is immaterial what you do, but to realise your independence, you must test it by letting go all you were dependent on. The realised man lives on the level of the absolutes; his wisdom, love and courage are complete, there is nothing relative about him. Therefore he must prove himself by tests more stringent, undergo trials more demanding. The tester, the tested and the set up for testing are all within; it is an inner drama to which none can be a party.
Q: Crucifixion, death and resurrection -- we are on familiar grounds! I have read, heard and talked about it endlessly, but to do it I find myself incapable.
M: Keep quiet, undisturbed, and the wisdom and the power will come on their own. You need not hanker. Wait in silence of the heart and mind. It is very easy to be quiet, but willingness is rare. You people want to become supermen overnight. Stay without ambition, without the least desire, exposed, vulnerable, unprotected, uncertain and alone, completely open to and welcoming life as it happens, without the selfish conviction that all must yield you pleasure or profit, material or so-called spiritual.
Q: I respond to what you say, but I just do not see how it is done.
M: If you know how to do it, you will not do it. Abandon every attempt, just be; don't strive, don't struggle, let go every support, hold on to the blind sense of being, brushing off all else. This is enough.
Q: How is this brushing done? The more I brush off, the more it comes to the surface.
M: Refuse attention, let things come and go. Desires and thoughts are also things. Disregard them. Since immemorial time the dust of events was covering the clear mirror of your mind, so that only memories you could see. Brush off the dust before it has time to settle; this will lay bare the old layers until the true nature of your mind is discovered. It is all very simple and comparatively easy; be earnest and patient, that is all. Dispassion, detachment, freedom from desire and fear, from all self-concern, mere awareness -- free from memory and expectation -- this is the state of mind to which discovery can happen. After all, liberation is but the freedom to discover.