I am That – 51. Be Indifferent to Pain and Pleasure
51. Be Indifferent to Pain and Pleasure
Questioner: I am a Frenchman by birth and domicile and since about ten years I have been practicing Yoga.
Maharaj: After ten years of work are you anywhere nearer your goal?
Q: A little nearer, maybe. It is hard work, you know.
M: The Self is near and the way to it is easy. All you need doing is doing nothing.
Q: Yet I found my sadhana very difficult.
M: Your sadhana is to be. The doing happens. Just be watchful. Where is the difficulty in remembering that you are? Your are all the time.
Q: The sense of being is there all the time — no doubt. But the field of attention is often overrun by all sorts of mental events — emotions, images, ideas. The pure sense of being is usually crowded out.
M: What is your procedure for clearing the mind of the unnecessary? What are your means, your tools for the purification of the mind?
Q: Basically, man is afraid. He is afraid of himself most. I feel I am like a man who is carrying a bomb that is going to explode. He cannot defuse it, he cannot throw it away. He is terribly frightened and is searching frantically for a solution, which he cannot find. To me liberation is getting rid of this bomb. I do not know much about the bomb. I only know that it comes from early childhood. I feel like the frightened child protesting passionately against not being loved. The child is craving for love and because he does not get it, he is afraid and angry. Sometimes I feel like killing somebody or myself. This desire is so strong that I am constantly afraid. And I do not know how to get free from fear.
You see there is a difference between a Hindu mind and a European mind. The Hindu mind is comparatively simple. The European is a much more complex being. The Hindu is basically sattvic. He does not understand the European’s restlessness, hid tireless pursuit of what he thinks needs be done; his greater general knowledge.
M: His reasoning capacity is so great, that he will reason himself out of all reason! His selfassertiveness is due to his reliance on logic.
Q: But thinking, reasoning is the mind’s normal state. The mind just cannot stop working.
M: It may be the habitual state, but it need not be the normal state. A normal state cannot be painful, while a habit often leads to chronic pain.
Q: If it is not the natural, or normal state of mind, then how to stop it? There must be a way to quieten the mind. How often I tell myself: enough, please stop, enough of this endless chatter of sentences repeated round and round! But my mind would not stop. I feel that one can stop it for a while, but not for long. Even the so-called ‘spiritual’ people use tricks to keep their mind quiet. They repeat formulas, they sing, pray, breathe forcibly or gently, shake, rotate, concentrate, meditate, chase trances, cultivate virtues — working all the time, in order to cease working, cease chasing, cease moving. Were it not so tragic, it would be ridiculous.
M: The mind exists in two states: as water and as honey. The water vibrates at the least disturbance, while the honey, however disturbed, returns quickly to immobility.
Q: By its very nature the mind is restless. It can perhaps be made quiet, but it is not quiet by itself.
M: You may have a chronic fever and shiver all the time. It is desires and fears that make the mind restless. Free from all negative emotions it is quiet.
Q: You cannot protect the child from negative emotions. As soon as it is born it learns pain and fear. Hunger is a cruel master and teaches dependence and hate. The child loves the mother because she feeds it and hates her because she is late with food. Our unconscious mind is full of conflicts, which overflow into the conscious. We live on a volcano; we are always in danger. I agree that the company of people whose mind is peaceful has a very soothing affect, but as soon as I am away from them, the old trouble starts. This is why I come periodically to India to seek the company of my Guru.
M: You think you are coming and going, passing through various states and moods. I see things as they are, momentary events, presenting themselves to me in rapid succession, deriving their being from me, yet definitely neither me nor mine. Among phenomena I am not one, nor subject to any. I am independent so simply and totally, that your mind, accustomed to opposition and denial, cannot grasp it. I mean literally what I say; I do not need oppose, or deny, because it is clear to me that I cannot be the opposite or denial of anything. I am just beyond, in a different dimension altogether. Do not look for me in identification with, or opposition to something: I am where desire, and fear are not. Now, what is your experience? Do you also feel that you stand totally aloof from all transient things?
Q: Yes, I do — occasionally. But at once a sense of danger sets in, I feel isolated, outside all relationship with others. You see, here lies the difference in our mentalities. With the Hindu, the emotion follows the thought. Give a Hindu an idea and his emotions are roused. With the Westerner it is the opposite: give him an emotion and he will produce an idea. Your ideas are very attractive -intellectually, but emotionally I do not respond.
M: Set your intellect aside. Don’t use it in these matters.
Q: Of what use is an advice which I cannot carry out? These are all ideas and you want me to respond feelingly to ideas, for without feelings there can be no action.
M: Why do you talk of action? Are you acting ever? Some unknown power acts and you imagine that you are acting. You are merely watching what happens, without being able to influence it in any way.
Q: Why is there such a tremendous resistance in me against accepting that I just can do nothing?
M: But what can you do? You are like a patient under anaesthetics on whom a surgeon performs an operation. When you wake up you find the operation over; can you say you have done something?
Q: But it is me who has chosen to submit to an operation.
M: Certainly not. It is your illness on one side and the pressure of your physician and family on the other that have made you decide. You have no choice, only the illusion of it.
Q: Yet I feel I am not as helpless as you make me appear. I feel I can do everything I can think of, only I do not know how. It is not the power I lack, but the knowledge.
M: Not knowing the means is admittedly as bad as not having the power! But let us drop the subject for the moment; after all it is not important why we feel helpless, as long as we see clearly that for the time being we are helpless.
I am now 74 years old. And yet I feel that I am an infant. I feel clearly that in spite of all the changes I am a child. My Guru told me: that child, which is you even now, is your real self (swarupa). Go Backto that state of pure being, where the ‘I am’ is still in its purity before it got contaminated with ‘this I am’ or ‘that I am’. Your burden is of false self-identifications — abandon them all. My Guru told me — ‘Trust me. I tell you; you are divine. Take it as the absolute truth. Your joy is divine, your suffering is divine too. All comes from God. Remember it always. You are God, your will alone is done’. I did believe him and soon realised how wonderfully true and accurate were his words. I did not condition my mind by thinking: ‘I am God, I am wonderful, I am beyond’. I simply followed his instruction which was to focus the mind on pure being ‘I am’, and stay in it. I used to sit for hours together, with, nothing but the ‘I am’ in my mind and soon peace and joy and a deep all-embracing love became my normal state. In it all disappeared — myself, my Guru, the life I lived, the world around me. Only peace remained and unfathomable silence.
Q: It all looks very simple and easy, but it is just not so. Sometimes the wonderful state of joyful peace dawns on me and I look and wonder: how easily it comes and how intimate it seems, how totally my own. Where was the need to strive so hard for a state so near at hand? This time, surely, it has come to stay. Yet how soon it all dissolves and leaves me wondering — was it a taste of reality or another aberration. If it was reality, why did it go? Maybe some unique experience is needed to fix me for good in the new state and until the crucial experience comes, this game of hide and seek must continue.
M: Your expectation of something unique and dramatic, of some wonderful explosion, is merely hindering and delaying your self-realisation. You are not to expect an explosion, for the explosion has already happened — at the moment when you were born, when you realised yourself as beingknowing-feeling. There is only one mistake you are making: you take the inner for the outer and the outer for the inner. What is in you, you take to be outside you and what is outside, you take to be in you. The mind and feelings are external, but you take them to be intimate. You believe the world to be objective, while it is entirely a projection of your psyche. That is the basic confusion and no new explosion will set it right. You have to think yourself out of it. There is no other way.
Q: How am I to think myself out when my thoughts come and go as they like. Their endless chatter distracts and exhausts me.
M: Watch your thoughts as you watch the street traffic. People come and go; you register without response. It may not be easy in the beginning, but with some practice you will find that your mind can function on many levels at the same time and you can be aware of them all. It is only when you have a vested interest in any particular level, that your attention gets caught in it and you black out on other levels. Even then the work on the blacked out levels goes on, outside the field of consciousness. Do not struggle with your memories and thoughts; try only to include in your field of attention the other, more important questions, like ‘Who am l?’ ‘How did I happen to be born?’ ‘Whence this universe around me?’. ‘What is real and what is momentary?’ No memory will persist, if you lose interest in it, it is the emotional link that perpetuates the bondage. You are always seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, always after happiness and peace. Don’t you see that it is your very search for happiness that makes you feel miserable? Try the other way: indifferent to pain and pleasure, neither asking, nor refusing, give all your attention to the level on which ‘I am’ is timelessly present. Soon you will realise that peace and happiness are in your very nature and it is only seeking them through some particular channels, that disturbs. Avoid the disturbance, that is all. To seek there is no need; you would not seek what you already have. You yourself are God, the Supreme Reality. To begin with, trust me, trust the Teacher. It enables you to make the first step -and then your trust is justified by your own experience. In every walk of life initial trust is essential; without it little can be done. Every undertaking is an act of faith. Even your daily bread you eat on trust! By remembering what I told you you will achieve everything. I am telling you again: You are the all-pervading, all transcending reality. Behave accordingly: think, feel and act in harmony with the whole and the actual experience of what I say will dawn upon you in no time. No effort is needed. Have faith and act on it. Please see that I want nothing from you. It is in your own interest that l speak, because above all you love yourself, you want yourself secure and happy. Don’t be ashamed of it, don’t deny it. It is natural and good to love oneself. Only you should know what exactly do you love. It is not the body that you love, it is Life –perceiving, feeling, thinking, doing, loving, striving, creating. It is that Life you love, which is you, which is all. realise it in its totality, beyond all divisions and limitations, and all your desires will merge in it, for the greater contains the smaller. Therefore find yourself, for in finding that you find all.
Everybody is glad to be. But few know the fullness of it. You come to know by dwelling in your mind on ‘I am’, ‘I know’, ‘I love’ — with the will of reaching the deepest meaning of these words.
Q: Can I think ‘I am God’?
M: Don’t identify yourself with an idea. If you mean by God the Unknown, then you merely say: ‘I do not know what I am’. If you know God as you know your self, you need not say it. Best is the simple feeling ‘I am’. Dwell on it patiently. Here patience is wisdom; don’t think of failure. There can be no failure in this undertaking.
Q: My thoughts will not let me.
M: Pay no attention. Don’t fight them. Just do nothing about them, let them be, whatever they are. Your very fighting them gives them life. Just disregard. Look through. Remember to remember: ‘whatever happens — happens because I am’. All reminds you that you are. Take full advantage of the fact that to experience you must be. You need not stop thinking. Just cease being interested. It is disinterestedness that liberates. Don’t hold on, that is all. The world is made of rings. The hooks are all yours. Make straight your hooks and nothing can hold you. Give up your addictions. There is nothing else to give up. Stop your routine of acquisitiveness, your habit of looking for results and the freedom of the universe is yours. Be effortless.
Q: Life is effort. There are so many things to do.
M: What needs doing, do it. Don’t resist. Your balance must be dynamic, based on doing just the right thing, from moment to moment. Don’t be a child unwilling to grow up. Stereotyped gestures and postures will not help you. Rely entirely on your clarity of thought, purity of motive and integrity of action. You cannot possibly go wrong . Go beyond and leave all behind.
Q: But can anything be left for good?
M: You want something like a round-the-clock ecstasy. Ecstasies come and go, necessarily, for the human brain cannot stand the tension for a long time. A prolonged ecstasy will burn out your brain, unless it is extremely pure and subtle. In nature nothing is at stand-still, everything pulsates, appears and disappears. Heart, breath, digestion, sleep and waking — birth and death everything comes and goes in waves. Rhythm, periodicity, harmonious alternation of extremes is the rule. No use rebelling against the very pattern of life. If you seek the Immutable, go beyond experience. When I say: remember ‘I am’ all the time, I mean: ‘come Backto it repeatedly’. No particular thought can be mind’s natural state, only silence. Not the idea of silence, but silence itself. When the mind is in its natural state, it reverts to silence spontaneously after every experience or, rather, every experience happens against the background of silence.
Now, what you have learnt here becomes the seed. You may forget it — apparently. But it will live and in due season sprout and grow and bring forth flowers and fruits. All will happen by itself. You need not do anything, only don’t prevent it.