The First Evening
Date: Fri, 4 June 1964 00:00:00 GMT
THE FIRST QUESTION:
IS THERE A CONFLICT BETWEEN RELIGION AND SCIENCE?
No. The knowledge of science is incomplete. It is as if there were light all over the world while in your own house there was darkness. With such imperfect knowledge, without the knowledge of one's self, life simply turns into misery. For life to be crowned with peace, contentment and fulfillment, it is not enough to know material things alone. That way one may find prosperity but not fulfillment. That way one may have possessions but one will not have light. And without light, without knowledge, possessions become a bondage, a noose of one's own making with which to hang oneself.
One who knows only the world is imperfect and imperfection leads to misery. By knowing the world one gains power. And science is a search for knowledge and power. Hasn't science put the secret keys to limitless power into mankind's hands already? But nothing worthwhile has come out of this attainment of that power. Without a doubt man has power but he does not have peace. Peace is to be had by knowing God, not material things. This search for God is religion.
Power without peace is self-destructive. The knowledge of material things without the knowledge of the self means power in the hands of the ignorant. Nothing good can come of it. The conflict that has prevailed between science and religion has so far had disastrous results. Those who have only researched the realm of science have become powerful but they are restless and unhappy. And those who have only done research in religion have no doubt attained peace but they are weak and poor. Thus the sadhana, the search that has been carried on so far is imperfect, partial. So far there has never been a full and complete sadhana for truth.
I want to see power and peace in their perfection. I want a synthesis, a harmony of religion and science. This will give birth to the perfect individual, to the perfect culture, to a people rich in inner values and in outer achievements. The individual is neither the body nor the soul but a combination of the two. Therefore anything based on any one of these alone is incomplete.
THE SECOND QUESTION: WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ABOUT RENOUNCING WORLDLY LIFE?
IS SANNYAS, BECOMING A SEEKER, ONLY POSSIBLE IF ONE RENOUNCES THE WORLD?
There is no conflict between the world and sannyas. It is not the world but ignorance that one must renounce. Giving up the world is not sannyas. The awakening of knowledge, of self-knowledge, is sannyas. This awakening leads to a renunciation, not of the world, but of attachment to it. The world stays where it is and as it is but we are transformed. Our outlook is transformed. This transformation is very fundamental. In this awakened state we do not have to give up anything. What is useless and superfluous automatically drops like the ripened fruit from a tree. Just as darkness disappears at the coming of light, at the dawn of knowledge impurities pass away and what remains thereafter is sannyas.
Sannyas has nothing to do with the world. It has to do with the self. It is the purification of the self.
It is just like the purification of alloyed gold.
Looking at life from the standpoint of self-ignorance is samsara, worldliness; looking at life from the standpoint of self-knowledge is sannyas. There fore whenever anyone says to me that he has "taken" sannyas it seems false to me. This "taking" of sannyas creates the impression it is an antagonistic act against the world. Is sannyas something that can be taken? Can anyone say he has "taken" knowledge? And will any knowledge taken like that be worth its salt? Taken-sannyas is not real sannyas. You cannot put on a mask of truth. Truth has to be awakened.
Sannyas is born. It comes through knowledge. And in that knowledge we go on being transformed.
When our knowledge is transformed our outlook is changed and our behavior is transformed automatically. The world stays where it is and sannyas is gradually born within us. Sannyas is the knowledge that "I am not the body"; it is the knowledge that "I am the soul". When this knowledge dawns, ignorance and attachment drop away. The world was there outside and it will still continue to be there. But inside there will be the absence of attachment for it. In other words, there will be no world, no samsara inside.
To try to cling to the outside world is ignorance and to try to renounce it is also ignorance because in both these states you continue to be related to it. Attachment to the world and disgust for it are both ignorance. Both are relationships with the world. The absence of this relationship is freedom, freedom both from attachment and from aversion. It is not just aversion or disgust. This absence of attachment and aversion I call sannyas.
Freedom from both attachment and aversion is attained through knowledge. Attachment is a kind of ignorance and the reaction one has to being fed up with attachment is aversion. This reaction too is ignorance. In the first case a person runs towards the world; in the second case, away from it. In both cases he runs. But little does he know that the joy of the one enshrined within us is not to be attained by running after the world or by running away from it but by being firmly lodged in one's own self. We must neither run towards the world nor from it. We have to move within, to our real selves.
Remember, we must move into our selves. This coming into one's self is impossible with attachment or with aversion. It is only possible by one's becoming a witness to the inherent conflict between attachment and aversion. There is one within us who is the witness to both our attachments and our aversions. We have to know him, he who is simply a witness. By knowing him we automatically attain freedom from both attachment and aversion. Knowing him is the natural result of self-knowledge.
THE THIRD QUESTION: DO YOU THINK RENUNCIATION OF HOME AND FAMILY IS USELESS?
I remember a maxim of Mahavira's. He said, "Attachment is possession." He did not say that possession was attachment. Why? Because of our ignorance, because of our foolishness, we are attached to worldly objects. Inside we are empty and we therefore want to fill ourselves with outward objects in order to delude ourselves into believing we are important entities. If one gives up attachment under these conditions and ignorance remains, can one really get rid of attachment?
One will be rid of things but not of attachment. It will still be there.
If one leaves his home for an ashram, the attachment to the ashram will take the place of his attachment to his home. If one leaves his family to join a sect he will be as attached to the sect as he was to his family. Attachment is on the inside and it will express itself under any new conditions.
Therefore those who know have advised renunciation of desire and of ignorance, not of material objects. Once knowledge dawns the things that are of no use do not even have to be abandoned, they automatically drop away.
THE FOURTH QUESTION: SHOULD WE CONCENTRATE OUR MINDS IN ORDER TO ATTAIN THOUGHTLESSNESS?
I do not ask you to concentrate. Concentration is a kind of coercion, a kind of tension. If one concentrates on some idea, on some form or image or on some word, it will neither lead to thoughtlessness nor to the awakening of consciousness but to an unconscious state of mental stupor. It is like auto-hypnosis. Forced concentration leads to unconsciousness. And it is an error to mistake this unconsciousness for samadhi. Samadhi is neither a state of unconsciousness nor of stupor, samadhi is the realization of perfect consciousness. Samadhi is the combination of thoughtlessness and perfect consciousness.
THE FIFTH QUESTION: HOW ARE WE TO WATCH THE PROCESSES OF INHALING AND EXHALING IN MEDITATION?
Hold the spine erect. Do not allow it to bend. The body is in a state of natural balance when the backbone is held erect. In that position the gravitational pull of the earth has a uniform effect on the body and it is easy to free oneself from its attraction. When the force of gravity is at its minimum the body does not interfere in one's becoming empty, in one's becoming devoid of thoughts. Hold the backbone erect, without tension or rigidity in the body. Allow the body to relax as if it were hung on the spine like a piece of cloth on a peg.
Relax the body completely and then breathe slowly and deeply. The inhaling and the exhaling will move the naval center up and down. Continue to watch this movement. It isn't necessary to concentrate on it, just watch it. Be a witness to it. Bear in mind I am not advocating concentration.
I am advising simple watchfulness and awareness. Breathe as children do - their chests do not move; their stomachs move. This is the natural process of inhalation and exhalation. As a result of this natural breathing, peace descends upon us, becoming deeper and deeper.
Because of the disturbed and tense condition of our minds we have gradually lost the ability to breathe deeply and fully. By the time we have grown to adolescence, superficial and artificial breathing has become a habit. You have undoubtedly noticed that the more your mind is disturbed, the less your breathing is natural and rhythmical. Breathe in a natural way - rhythmically, effortlessly.
The harmony of natural breathing helps dispel mental restlessness.
THE SIXTH QUESTION: WHY DO YOU ADVISE US TO OBSERVE THE BREATHING PROCESS?
I do so because breathing, inhaling and exhaling, is the bridge between the body and the soul. The soul resides in the body through breathing and because of breathing. By becoming aware of one's breath, by direct knowledge of breathing, a person gradually experiences that he is not the body.
I am the body but I am not the body alone. It is my abode but not my foundation. As the direct realization of breathing goes deeper, one experiences the presence, the proximity of the one who is not the body. For a moment one sees clearly that the self is not the body. Then you will see the three layers, the three sheaths of your personality - the body, the breath and the soul. The body is the shell; the breath is the bridge, the connecting link; the soul, the self, is the foundation.
The role of the breath on the path to self-realization is a most important one because breathing is the central point. On one side we have the body; on the other, the soul. We already exist on the physical level but what we yearn for is to be within the realm of the soul. But before this can be done it is essential to move onto the plateau of prana, of the breath. Only then can one enter the kingdom of the spirit.
Watching at the level of the breath, one can look both ways. From here, the paths leading to the body and to the soul become clear. Although the road is one and the same, the two directions stand out clearly. And the result is that a step towards the inner, towards the realm of the soul, becomes more of a possibility. I hope you now understand why I stress breathing so much.
THE SEVENTH QUESTION: WHY DO YOU SAY THAT DHYANA, MEDITATION, IS NO-ACTION?
IS IT NOT AN ACT AS WELL?
Look here, please. My fist is closed. To close my fist I must make a positive action. Closing is an action. But when I wish to open it, what must I do? I don't have to do anything to open it. If I simply drop the effort of closing the fist it will open automatically and the hand will return to its natural and normal state. Therefore I won't call opening one's fist an action. It is no-action, or if you like you can call it negative action. But that makes no difference; it is the same thing. I won't argue with words.
Please understand what I am telling you. Please understand the real significance of it.
By calling meditation "no-action", I wish to indicate that you should not regard meditation as a task or an activity. Meditation is free from such occupations. It is a natural state and you cannot change it into any kind of mental tension. If meditation becomes a mental tension it will neither lead you to your natural state nor to mental peace. Tension is a sort of restlessness and if one wants to attain peace one should start out by becoming quiet. If there is neither peace nor quiet at the first stage there will certainly be none at the last. The final stage is just the culmination of the first.
I see people going to temples and I see them worshipping their gods. I also see them sitting in meditation. But for all of them it is an activity, a sort of tense restlessness, and it is sheer folly for them to expect all this activity to yield the flowers and fruit of serenity. If you want peace, if you wish to be peaceful it is essential that you start out in peace this very moment.
I want to say this to you as well: do not search for truth. There is ego in searching and it is the ego that is the obstacle. Just lose yourself. Lose your identity. Simply stop being yourself. It is only when the ego, the "I", ceases to be that the one who is really you is seen. It is only when the feeling of ego, of "I-ness" disappears that reality is seen. Only by losing oneself does one attain one's self.
Just as new life sprouts from a seed only when the seed breaks apart and ceases to be, the shoot of immortality springs up only when the seed, the "I", the sheath of the soul also breaks apart and ceases to be. Please remember this precept: to attain your self you have to cease to be. Immortality can be had at the cost of death. A raindrop becomes the ocean when it loses itself in the ocean.
You are the soul but if you search for it within yourself you will find nothing but desire. Our whole lives are desire - the desire to become something, to attain something. Everyone wants to become somebody, to attain something. The race goes on every moment of our lives. Nobody wants to stay where he is. Everybody wants to be where he is not. Desire is a vague dissatisfaction with what one is or with what one has, and a blind longing for what one is not or for what one does not have.
There is no finish to this mad race because as soon as one gets something it becomes useless and then desire begins encircling what one does not yet have. Desire is always for the unachieved.
Desire is like the horizon. The more you try to approach it the farther it pulls away from you. This happens because the horizon simply does not exist. It is just an appearance, an illusion. It is not real. If it were real it would come closer to you as you neared it; if it were unreal it would disappear at your approach. If it is neither real nor unreal, if it is an appearance, a dream, an illusion, a figment of the imagination, it will remain as distant as before, no matter how hard you try to get close to it.
Untruth is the opposite of truth. The world of illusion, maya, is not truth's opposite but its veil, its cover. Desire is not the opposite of the soul, of the atman, but its veil, its cover. It is a fog, a smoke that hides our being, that hides our existence. We chase after what we are not and as a consequence we cannot see what we are. Desire is the curtain that has fallen on the soul and because of this it is impossible for us to know our souls. Because we constantly want to become something else we cannot realize our very own beings.
If this race, this desire to become something else ceases even for a moment the one who exists, who is, becomes visible - just as the sun becomes visible even if the sky is cloudless only for a moment.
The absence of this race I call dhyana, meditation. And what a sense of wonder one experiences at the moment one knows what really is! Then everything one ever desired is attained. The vision of the soul is the total satisfaction of desire because there, nothing is lacking.
Thought is a sign of ignorance. In knowledge there is no thought; there is direct vision. The path of thought will never take you to knowledge. Consciousness, free of thought, is the door to knowledge.
Knowledge is not an achievement, it is a discovery. We don't have to achieve it, we have to discover it. It is ever-present within us. We have to dig it out as we dig out a well. The springs of fresh water lie deeply buried under the earth, under rocks and stones. As soon as these are removed the spring will burst forth.
I see piles of rocks and the stones of thought lying in the springbed of knowledge. As soon as these are removed we will have an unbroken stream of consciousness. Dig a well within yourselves.
Remove the layers of thought with the spade of meditation. And by right-mindfulness and constant awareness render thought lifeless. Wipe it out of existence. What you will know then will be knowledge. Where there are no thoughts, where consciousness is not hidden by the smoke of ideas you will find knowledge.
I am not asking you to go into solitude. I ask you to create solitude within yourselves. A mere change of location won't help; a change of attitude is necessary. It is not the environment but our mental attitude that is the central and most important point. A man may go into solitude but if there is no solitude within him he will even be surrounded by a crowd in his lonely retreat, for the crowd within him will be there as well.
My friends, the crowd is not outside, it is within you. You are surrounded by a crowd within so how will running away from the crowd outside help? The crowd that is with you now will go with you into your solitude. Running away from the crowd is useless. The crowd of desires within must be removed.
Therefore don't seek solitude somewhere else. Just be solitary within. Don't go into seclusion but create desirelessness within. The moment you realize this, peace, bliss and ecstasy will permeate you. And at this moment of moments you will realize there never has been any crowd, nor has there ever been any outside world. Everything was within you! The creator and the creations are not separate from each other. They are, in truth, one and the same. It must have been at such a blissful moment that the mystic of the Upanishads exclaimed "Aham brahmasmi - I am he, the creator, I am God."
The dust of the ages lies heaped on our minds. Old customs, old traditions and superstitions have enveloped us, just as a ruined or deserted house is full of spiders' webs and inhabited by the birds of darkness. In the same way we are stuffed with thoughts borrowed from others. And these borrowed thoughts about truth and about God are great obstacles. They keep us from knowing the truth. And so the search for the self, the search that can awaken our sleeping consciousness never starts in us.
Before one can know truth oneself it is necessary to rid oneself of the knowledge borrowed from others. This is not knowledge, it is simply information. Brush off all this information taken from others and from old traditions, like you would brush dust off your hat. Then you will have a clear look, and the curtain between the truth and yourself will be there no more. The crowd of thoughts stands between them like a wall.
There is a world of difference between knowing about the truth and knowing the truth itself. Knowing about the truth is slavery to dead, borrowed knowledge; knowing the truth itself is the free expanse of the sky of self-realization. One takes away your ability to fly; the other gives you wings that can take you to God.
It is because of this that I am speaking to you about the void, about emptiness. Emptiness removes the burden of thought. Just as a man must leave his burden on the plain before climbing the mountain, one must be free from the burden of thought before setting out on the expedition to truth.
The lighter a mountaineer becomes the higher he will be able to climb. In the same way, one who wants to climb the mountain of truth will scale heights in direct proportion to his burdenlessness, to his emptiness. Those who aspire to the peak, to the supreme being, must reach that ultimate emptiness where being becomes non-being. The apex of perfection happens in the profound depths of emptiness and the music of existence comes out of the silence of non-existence - and then one knows that nirvana itself is the realization of brahma, of the creator, of God.
Since truth is unknown how can it be known by thought? Thought too is known. The effort is altogether absurd. There is no path leading from the known to the unknown. The known cannot take us to the unknown. It is unthinkable. It is impossible. The known can only move within the circle of the known. No matter how hard I think within the realm of the known there is no possibility of going beyond it or of moving out of it. I will no doubt move but it will be in a circle, like a bullock turning a waterwheel. I will cover the same ground again and again without going anywhere. So far nobody has ever been able to reach the truth by thinking. Those who have reached that destination have come some other way. I do not consider Mahavira, Lao Tzu, Buddha or Jesus as thinkers.
None of their attainments was the result of thinking. Then how did they reach their goal? It was not by walking along the path of thought but by taking a jump away from it. You cannot reach the unknown walking along the beaten path of the known. You have to leave that path and take a jump into the unknown.
Please understand the significance of the word "jump". Get to know this "jump" well. You too have to take it. You are at the level of thought. You are standing in thought, you are living in thought and you have to take a jump from there into the realm of thoughtlessness. You have to jump into a world where there is nothing but silence. You will have to jump from sound into silence. Will just thinking about this jump take you there? Are you going to think about how to take the jump? No, you will be yoking yourself once again to the wheel of thought and that won't take you anywhere.
Don't think - wake up! Watch the process of thought. Look at how it moves in circles. Simply watch.
And while you are watching you will find, at some propitious moment, that you have taken the jump without any effort and that you are in the unplumbed depths of emptiness. The moment you leave the shore of the known you will find that your boat sails smoothly on the ocean of the unknown.
And what a joy it is to sail like this, to sail the ocean of the unknown! How can I describe it? Your restlessness does not allow you to see. Eyes that are filled with tears cannot see. And whether they are filled with tears of joy or tears of sorrow makes no difference. Eyes that are filled with anything cannot see the truth. To see the truth, eyes that are empty are needed. Only an eye that is like a mirror, with nothing in it, can see the one that is everything.
I will tell you about an incident that happened in a village. Someone asked me how to find God. I replied with a question, asking him if he had already found himself since he had now set out to find God. We want to know God but we don't know our own selves! We don't even know what is closest to us! No being, no existence is closer to us than the self - so ignorance must first be attached and defeated at this point. One who is ignorant about his own self cannot attain knowledge on any other level.
The flame of knowledge first begins to burn in man's inner being. It is the east of knowledge and the sun of knowledge rises there. If there is darkness there you can be certain there cannot be light anywhere else. Know yourself, not God. This ray of light will ultimately grow into the sun. It is by knowing one's self that one realizes that there is sat-chit-anand, that there is being, consciousness and bliss, but that there is no "I", no ego. That very realization is the realization of God.
Man is a soul shrouded by an ego. And this is ignorance. A soul that is rid of the ego is God. And this is knowledge. Where are you going in search of your soul? In any of ten directions it is nowhere to be found. But there is one more direction, an eleventh. Do you know it? I will show you this direction.
You yourself are that eleventh direction and you can find this direction if you stop looking in the other ten. The eleventh direction is not like the other ten. In reality it is not a direction at all. It is no-direction, the negation of direction. It takes you where you have never left. It is your own entity, your own natural state. All of the ten directions go outward. The world is their creation. The ten directions are the world. They are the distance. But the one that knows all of these directions and moves in them is certainly separate from them, certainly different from them - otherwise he could neither know them nor move amongst them. He moves and at the same time does not move. If he is not firmly established in his own being he is unable to move, because at the center of all his movement there is motionlessness, because at the center of his revolving wheel there is fixedness.
Have you ever noticed the wheels of a carriage? The wheels are only able to move because the axle is stationary. There is always a fixed thing holding and sustaining any movement. Life is unstable and transitory but the soul is permanent and stable. The soul is the eleventh direction. One does not have to go anywhere in search of it. Drop all searching and see who resides in you. Wake up to the one who is. This is possible by giving up the search. It is not possible by running but it is possible by stopping.
Stop and look. These two words are the crux of religion, the guides on one's sadhana and the whole key of yoga. Stop and look, and the eleventh direction opens up before you. Through it you enter the inner space. The inner space is the soul. I see that you are all running after something but all this running ends in nothing but a fall. Don't you see people falling every day? Isn't that the result of all running? Doesn't all running end in death? But those who know this truth at the outset are saved from that disaster at the finish.
I want you to stop and look. Will you do it? In the midst of your frantic running do you hear my call?
Stop and look at who is running. Stop and look at who is seeking. Stop and look at the "I", at the self.
As soon as the fever of running subsides all ten directions vanish and only that one direction, that no-direction, remains. It takes you to the root, to the source, to the fountain of supreme knowledge.
A sadhu once asked people what they were like before they were born. If you meed that sadhu what will you say to him? Do you know what you were like before you were born? Do you know what you will be like after your death? If you learn to stop and look, you can know. You can know the one that was before birth, the one that will be after death and the one that is inside now at this very moment.
It is just a matter of turning around a little and looking. Stop and look.
I invite you to travel with me into this wonderful world.
Stop and look.