I am That – 80. Awareness
Questioner: Does it take time to realise the Self, or time cannot help to realise? Is self-realisation a matter of time only, or does it depend on factors other than time?
Maharaj: All waiting is futile. To depend on time to solve our problems is self-delusion. The future, left to itself merely repeats the past. Change can only happen now, never in the future.
Q: What brings about a change?
M: With crystal clarity see the need of change. This is all.
Q: Does self-realisation happen in matter, or beyond? Is it not an experience depending on the body and the mind for its occurrence?
M: All experience is illusory, limited and temporal. Expect nothing from experience. realisation by itself is not an experience, though it may lead to a new dimension of experiences. Yet the new experiences, however interesting, are not more real than the old. Definitely realisation is not a new experience. It is the discovery of the timeless factor in every experience. It is awareness, which makes experience possible. Just like in all the colours light is the colourless factor, so in every experience awareness is present, yet it is not an experience.
Q: If awareness is not an experience, how can it be realised?
M: Awareness is ever there. It need not be realised. Open the shutter of the mind, and it will be flooded with light.
Q: What is matter?
M: What you do not understand is matter.
Q: Science understands matter.
M: Science merely pushes Backthe frontiers of our ignorance.
Q: And what is nature?
M: The totality of conscious experiences is nature. As a conscious self you are a part of nature. As awareness, you are beyond. Seeing nature as mere consciousness is awareness.
Q: Are there levels of awareness?
M: There are levels in consciousness, but not in awareness. It is of one block, homogeneous. Its reflection in the mind is love and understanding. There are levels of clarity in understanding and intensity in love, but not in their source. The source is simple and single, but its gifts are infinite. Only do not take the gifts for the source. realise yourself as the source and not as the river; that is all.
Q: I am the river too.
M: Of course, you are. As an ‘I am’ you are the river, flowing between the banks of the body. But you are also the source and the ocean and the clouds in the sky. Wherever there is life and consciousness, you are. Smaller than the smallest, bigger than the biggest, you are, while all else appears.
Q: The sense of being and the sense of living — are they one and the same, or different?
M: The identity in space creates one, the continuity in time creates the other.
Q: You said once that the seer, seeing and the seen are one single thing, not three. To me the three are separate. I do not doubt your words, only I do not understand.
M: Look closely and you will see that the seer and the seen appear only when there is seeing.
They are attributes of seeing. When you say ‘I am seeing this’. ‘I am’ and ‘this’ come with seeing, not before. You cannot have an unseen ‘this’ nor an unseeing ‘I am’.
Q: I can say: ‘I do not see’.
M: The ‘I am seeing this’ has become ‘l am seeing my not seeing’, or ‘I am seeing darkness’. The seeing remains. In the triplicity: the known, knowing and the knower, only the knowing is a fact. The ‘I am’ and ‘this’ are doubtful. Who knows? What is known? There is no certainty, except that there is knowing.
Q: Why am I sure of knowing, but not of the knower?
M: Knowing is a reflection of your true nature along with being and loving. The knower and the known are added by the mind. It is in the nature of the mind to create a subject-object duality, where there is none.
Q: What is the cause of desire and fear?
M: Obviously, the memory of past pains and pleasures. There is no great mystery about it. Conflict arises only when desire and fear refer to the same object.
Q: How to put an end to memory?
M: It is neither necessary, nor possible. realise that all happens in consciousness and you are the root, the source, the foundation of consciousness. The world is but a succession of experiences and you are what makes them conscious, and yet remain beyond all experience. It is like the heat, the flame and the burning wood. The heat maintains the flame, the flame consumes the wood. Without heat there would be neither flame nor fuel. Similarly, without awareness there would be no consciousness, nor life, which transforms matter into a vehicle of consciousness.
Q: You maintain that without me there would be no world, and that the world and my knowledge of the world are identical. Science has come to a quite different conclusion: the world exists as something concrete and continuous, while I am a by-product of biological evolution of the nervous system, which is primarily not so much a seat of consciousness, as a mechanism of survival as individual and species. Yours is altogether a subjective view, while science tries to describe everything in objective terms. Is this contradiction inevitable?
M: The confusion is apparent and purely verbal. What is, is. It is neither subjective nor objective. Matter and mind are not separate, they are aspects of one energy. Look at the mind as a function of matter and you have science; look at matter as the product of the mind and you have religion.
Q: But what is true? What comes first, mind or matter?
M: Neither comes first. for neither appears alone. Matter is the shape, mind is the name. Together they make the world. Pervading and transcending is Reality, pure being — awareness — bliss, your very essence.
Q: All I know is the stream of consciousness, an endless succession of events. The river of time flows, bringing and carrying away relentlessly. Transformation of the future into past is going on all the time.
M: Are you not the victim of your language? You speak about the flow of time, as if you were stationary. But the events you have witnessed yesterday somebody else may see tomorrow. It is you who are in movement and not time. Stop moving and time will cease.
Q: What does it mean — time will cease?
M: Past and future will merge in the eternal now.
Q: But what does it mean in actual experience? How do you know that for you time has ceased?
M: It may mean that past and future do not matter any more. It may also mean that all that happened and will happen becomes an open book to be read at will.
Q: I can imagine a sort of cosmic memory, accessible with some training. But how can the future be known? The unexpected is inevitable.
M: What is unexpected on one level may be certain to happen, when seen from a higher level After all, we are within the limits of the mind. In reality nothing happens, there is no past nor future; all appears and nothing is.
Q: What does it mean, nothing is? Do you turn blank, or go to sleep? Or do you dissolve the world and keep us all in abeyance, until we are brought Backto life at the next flicker of your thought?
M: Oh, no, it is not that bad. The world of mind and matter, of names and shapes, continues, but it does not matter to me at all. It is like having a shadow. It is there — following me wherever I go, but not hindering me in any way. It remains a world of experiences, but not of names and forms related to me by desires and fears. The experiences are qualityless, pure experiences, if I may say so. I call them experiences for the lack of a better word. They are like the waves on the surface of the ocean, the ever-present, but not affecting its peaceful power.
Q: You mean to say an experience can be nameless, formless, undefined?
M: In the beginning all experience is such. It is only desire and fear, born of memory, that give it name and form and separate it from other experiences. It is not a conscious experience, for it is not in opposition to other experiences, yet it is an experience all the same.
Q: If it is not conscious, why talk about it?
M: Most of your experiences are unconscious. The conscious ones are very few. You are unaware of the fact because to you only the conscious ones count. Become aware of the unconscious .
Q: Can one be aware of the unconscious? How is it done?
M: Desire and fear are the obscuring and distorting factors. When mind is free of them the unconscious becomes accessible.
Q: Does it mean that the unconscious becomes conscious?
M: It is rather the other way round. The conscious becomes one with the unconscious. The distinction ceases, whichever way you look at it.
Q: I am puzzled. How can one be aware and yet unconscious?
M: Awareness is not limited to consciousness. It is of all that is. Consciousness is of duality. There is no duality in awareness. It is one single block of pure cognition. In the same way one can talk of the pure being and pure creation — nameless, formless, silent and yet absolutely real, powerful, effective. Their being indescribable does not affect them in the least. While they are unconscious, they are essential. The conscious cannot change fundamentally, it can only modify. Any thing, to change, must pass through death, through obscuration and dissolution. Gold jewellery must be melted down before it is cast into another shape. What refuses to die cannot be reborn.
Q: Barring the death of the body, how does one die?
M: Withdrawal, aloofness, letting go is death. To live fully, death is essential; every ending makes a new beginning. On the other hand, do understand, that only the dead can die, not the living. That which is alive in you, is immortal.
Q: From where does desire draw its energy?
M: Its name and shape it draws from memory. The energy flows from the source.
Q: Some desires are altogether wrong. How can wrong desires flow from a sublime source?
M: The source is neither right nor wrong. Nor is desire by itself right or wrong. It is nothing but striving for happiness. Having identified yourself with a speck of a body you feel lost and search desperately for the sense of fullness and completeness you call happiness.
Q: When did I lose it? I never had it.
M: You had it before you woke up this morning. Go beyond your consciousness and you will find it. Q: How am I to go beyond?
M: You know it already; do it.
Q: That’s what you say. I know nothing about it.
M: Yet I repeat — you know it. Do it. Go beyond, Backto your normal, natural, supreme state.
Q: I’m puzzled.
M: A speck in the eye makes you think you are blind. Wash it out and look.
Q: I do look! I see only darkness.
M: Remove the speck and your eyes will be flooded with light. The light is there — waiting. The eyes are there — ready. The darkness you see is but the shadow of the tiny speck. Get rid of it and come Backto your natural state.