The Mystique of Enlightenment/Part One
Part One U.G.
(Compiled from conversations in India and Switzerland, 1973 to 1976)
People call me an 'enlightened man' — I detest that term — they can't find any other word to describe the way I am functioning. At the same time, I point out that there is no such thing as enlightenment at all. I say that because all my life I've searched and wanted to be an enlightened man, and I discovered that there is no such thing as enlightenment at all, and so the question whether a particular person is enlightened or not doesn't arise. I don't give a hoot for a sixth-century-BC Buddha, let alone all the other claimants we have in our midst. They are a bunch of exploiters, thriving on the gullibility of the people. There is no power outside of man. Man has created God out of fear. So the problem is fear and not God.
I discovered for myself and by myself that there is no self to realize — that's the realization I am talking about. It comes as a shattering blow. It hits you like a thunderbolt. You have invested everything in one basket, self-realization, and, in the end, suddenly you discover that there is no self to discover, no self to realize — and you say to yourself "What the hell have I been doing all my life?!" That blasts you.
All kinds of things happened to me — I went through that, you see. The physical pain was unbearable — that is why I say you really don't want this. I wish I could give you a glimpse of it, a touch of it — then you wouldn't want to touch this at all. What you are pursuing doesn't exist; it is a myth. You wouldn't want anything to do with this.
UG: You see, I maintain that — I don't know, whatever you call this; I don't like to use the words 'enlightenment,' 'freedom,' 'moksha' or 'liberation'; all these words are loaded words, they have a connotation of their own — this cannot be brought about through any effort of yours; it just happens. And why it happens to one individual and not another, I don't know.
Questioner: So, it happened to you?
UG: It happened to me.
Q: When, Sir?
UG: In my forty-ninth year.
But whatever you do in the direction of whatever you are after — the pursuit or search for truth or reality — takes you away from your own very natural state, in which you always are. It's not something you can acquire, attain or accomplish as a result of your effort — that is why I use the word `acausal'. It has no cause, but somehow the search come to an end.
Q: You think, Sir, that it is not the result of the search? I ask because I have heard that you studied philosophy, that you were associated with religious people ...
UG: You see, the search takes you away from yourself — it is in the opposite direction — it has absolutely no relation.
Q: In spite of it, it has happened, not because of it?
UG: In spite of it — yes, that's the word. All that you do makes it impossible for what already is there to express itself. That is why I call this 'your natural state'. You're always in that state. What prevents what is there from expressing itself in its own way is the search. The search is always in the wrong direction, so all that you consider very profound, all that you consider sacred, is a contamination in that consciousness. You may not (Laughs) like the word 'contamination', but all that you consider sacred, 'holy and profound is a contamination.
So, there's nothing that you can do. It's not in your hands. I don't like to use the word 'grace', because if you use the word 'grace', the grace of whom? You are not a specially chosen individual; you deserve this, I don't know why.
If it were possible for me, I would be able to help somebody. This is something which I can't give, because you have it. Why should I give it to you? It is ridiculous to ask for a thing which you already have.
Q: But I don't feel it, and you do.
UG: No, it is not a question of feeling it, it is not a question of knowing it; you will never know. You have no way of knowing that at all for yourself; it begins to express itself. There is no conscious.... You see, I don't know how to put it. Never does the thought that I am different from anybody come into my consciousness.
Q: Has it been so from the beginning, ever since you became conscious of yourself?
UG: No, I can't say that. I was after something — like anybody else brought up in the religious atmosphere — searching for something, pursuing something. So, to answer that question is not easy, because I'll have to go into the whole background. Maybe it comes, I don't know. (Laughs)
Q: Just out of curiosity, like Nachiketa, I am very interested in knowing how these things have happened to you personally, to the extent you are aware of.
UG: You see, that's a long story; it's not so simple.
Q: We would like to hear it.
UG: No, you see, I will have to tell you about my whole life — it will take me a long time. My life story goes up to a point, and then it stops — there is no more biography after that.
The two biographers who are interested in writing my biography have two different approaches. One says that what I did — the sadhana (spiritual exercises), education, the whole background — put me there. I say it was in spite of all that. (Laughter) The other biographer isn't much interested in my statement 'in spite of', because there isn't much material for him to write a big volume. (Laughter) They are more interest in that. The publishers too are interested in that kind of thing. That is very natural because you are operating in a field where the cause and effect relationship always operates — that is why you are interested in finding out the cause, how this kind of a thing happened. So, we are back where we started, square number one: we are still concerned with 'how'.
My background is worthless: it can't be a model for anybody, because your background is unique. Every event in your life is something unique in its own way. Your conditions, your environment, your background — the whole thing is different. Every event in your life is different.
Q: I don't seek a model to give to the rest of the world — I'm not asking from that angle. We see a star, we see the sun, we see the moon — it is like that; not that I would like to imitate you. It may be relevant, who knows? That is why I said I am Nachiketa here: I don't want to leave without knowing the truth from you.
UG: You need a Yama Dharmaraja to answer your questions.
Q: If you don't mind, you be Yama Dharmaraja.
UG: I don't mind. Help me. You see, I'm helpless, I don't know where to begin. Where to end, I know. (Laughter) I think I will have to tell the whole story of my life.
Q: We don't mind listening.
UG: It doesn't come.
Q: You need to be inspired.
UG: I am not inspired, and I am the last person to inspire anybody. I will have to tell you, to satisfy your curiosity, the other side, the shoddy side of my life.
(He was born 9 July 1918 in South India into an upper-middle-class Brahmin family. The family name being Uppaluri, he was given the name Uppaluri Gopala Krishnamurti. His mother died soon after his birth, and he was brought up by his maternal grandparents in the small town of Gudivada near Masulipatam.)
I was brought up in a very religious atmosphere. My grandfather was a very cultured man. He knew Blavatsky (the founder of the Theosophical Society) and Olcott, and then, later on, the second and third generation of Theosophists. They all visited our house. He was a great lawyer, a very rich man, a very cultured man and, very strangely, a very orthodox man. He was a sort of mixed-up kid: orthodoxy, tradition on one side, and then the opposite, Theosophy and the whole thing, on the other side. He failed to establish a balance. That was the beginning of my problem.
(UG was often told that his mother had said, just before she died, that he "was born to a destiny immeasurably high." His grandfather took this very seriously and gave up his law practice to devote himself to UG's upbringing and education. His grandparents and their friends were convinced that he was a yoga bhrashta, one who had come within inches of enlightenment in his past life.)
He had learned men on his pay-roll, and he dedicated himself, for some reason — I don't want to go into the whole business — to create a profound atmosphere for me and to educate me in the right way, inspired by the Theosophists and the whole lot. And so, every morning those fellows would come and read the Upanishads, Panchadasi, Nyshkarmya Siddhi, the commentaries, the commentaries on commentaries, the whole lot, from four o'clock to six o'clock, and this little boy of five, six or seven years — I don't know — had to listen to all that crap. So much so that by the time I reached my seventh year I could repeat most of those things, the passages from the Panchadasi, Nyshkarmya Siddhi and this, that and the other. So many holy men visited my house — the Ramakrishna Order and the others; you name it, and those fellows had somehow visited that house — that was an open house for every holy man. So, one thing I discovered when I was quite young was that they were all hypocrites: they said something, they believed something, and their lives were shallow, nothing. That was the beginning of my search.
My grandfather used to meditate. (He is dead, and I don't want to say anything bad about him.) He used to meditate for one or two hours in a separate meditation room. One day a little baby, one and a half or two years old, started crying for some reason. That chap came down and started beating the child, and the child almost turned blue — and this man, you see, meditating two hours every day. "Look! What is this he has done?" That posed a sort of (I don't want to use the psychological term, but there is no escape from it) a traumatic experience — "There must be something funny about the whole business of meditation. Their lives are shallow, empty. They talk marvelously, express things in a very beautiful way, but what about their lives? There is this neurotic fear in their lives: they say something, but it doesn't operate in their lives. What is wrong with them?" — not that I sat in judgement over those people.
Things went on and on and on, so I got involved with these things: "Is there anything to what they profess — the Buddha, Jesus, the great teachers? Everybody is talking about moksha, liberation, freedom. What is that? I want to know for myself. These are all useless fellows, yet there must be some person in this world who is an embodiment and apostle of all those things. If there is one, I want to find out for myself."
Then so many things happened. There was one man called Sivananda Saraswati in those days — he was the evangelist of Hinduism. Between the ages of fourteen and twenty- one (I am skipping many of the unnecessary events) I used to go there and meet him very often, and I did everything, all the austerities. I was so young, but I was determined to find out if there was any such thing as moksha, and I wanted that moksha for myself. I wanted to prove to myself and to everybody that there cannot be any hypocrisy in such people — "These are all hypocrites" — so I practiced yoga, I practiced meditation, studied everything. I experienced every kind of experience that the books talked about — samadhi, super-samadhi, nirvikalpa samadhi, everything. Then I said to myself "Thought can create any experience you want — bliss, beatitude, ecstasy, melting away into nothingness — all those experiences. So, this can't be the thing, because I'm the same person, mechanically doing these things. Meditations have no value for me. This is not leading me anywhere."
Then, you see, sex became a tremendous problem for me, a young human boy: "This is something natural, a biological thing, an urge in the human body. Why do these people all want to deny this sex and suppress something very natural, something which is part of the whole thing, in order to get something else? This is more real, more important to me than moksha and liberation and all that. This is a reality — I think of gods and goddesses and I have wet-dreams — I have this kind of a thing. Why should I feel guilty? It's something natural; I have no control over this kind of thing happening. Meditation has not helped me, study has not helped me, my disciplines have not helped me. I never touch salt, I never touch chilies or any spices." Then one day I found this man Sivananada eating mango pickles behind closed doors — "Here is a man who has denied himself everything in the hope of getting something, but that fellow cannot control himself. He is a hypocrite" — I don't want to say anything bad about him — "This kind of life is not for me."
Q: Between your fourteenth and twenty-first year, you say, you felt a great urge for sex. Did you marry then?
UG: No, I didn't rush; I allowed that. I wanted to experience the sex urge: "Suppose you don't do anything, what happens to that?" I wanted to understand this whole business: "Why do I want to indulge in these auto-eroticisms? I don't know anything about sex — then, why is it that I have all kinds of images of sex?" This was my inquiry, this was my meditation; not sitting in lotus posture or standing on my head. "How am I able to form these images?" — I never went to a movie, I never looked at, you know, now you have all kinds of posters —"How is it? This is something inside, not put in from outside. The outside is stimulating — stimulation comes from outside. But there is another kind of stimulation from inside — this is more important to me. I can cut out all that external stimulation successfully, but how can I cut out this from inside?" I wanted to find this out.
And then, I was also interested in finding out what this sex experience was. Although I myself had not experienced sex, I seemed to know what that sex experience was like. This went on and on and on. I did not rush to have sex with a woman or anything; I allowed things to happen in their own way. That was a time when I didn't want to marry. My aim was to become an ascetic, a monk, and all that kind of thing — not marriage — but things happened and I said to myself "If it is a question of satisfying your sex urge, why not marry? That is what society is there for. Why should you go and have sex with some woman? You can have a natural expression of sex in marriage."
I arrived at a point when I was twenty-one where I felt very strongly that all teachers — Buddha, Jesus, Sri Ramakrishna, everybody — kidded themselves, deluded themselves and deluded everybody. This, you see, could not be the thing at all — "Where is the state that these people talk about and describe? That description seems to have no relation to me, to the way I am functioning. Everybody says "Don't get angry" — I am angry all the time. I m full of brutal activities inside, so that is false. What these people are telling me I should be is something false, and because it is false it will falsify me. I don't want to live the life of a false person. I am greedy, and non-greed is what they are talking about. There is something wrong somewhere. This greed is something real, something natural to me; what they are talking about is unnatural. So, something is wrong somewhere. But I am not ready to change myself, to falsify myself, for the sake of being in a state of non-greed; my greed is a reality to me." I lived in the midst of people who talked of these things everlastingly — everybody was false, I can tell you. So, somehow, what you call 'existentialist nausea' (I didn't use those words at the time, but now I happen to know these terms, revulsion against everything sacred and everything holy, crept into my system and threw everything out: "No more slokas, no more religion, no more practices — there isn't anything there; but what is here is something natural. I am a brute, I am a monster, I am full of violence — this is reality. I am full of desire. Desirelessness, non-greed, non-anger — those things have no meaning to me; they are false, and they are not only false, they are falsifying me." So I said to myself "I'm finished with the whole business," but it is not that simple, you see.
Then somebody came along, and we were discussing all these things. He found me practically an atheist (but not a practicing atheist), skeptical of everything, heretical down to my boots. He said "There is one man here, somewhere in Madras at Tiruvannamalai, called Ramana Maharshi. Come on, let's go and see that man. Here is a living human embodiment of the Hindu tradition."
I didn't want to see any holy man. If you have seen one, you have seen them all. I never shopped around, went around searching for people, sitting at the feet of the masters, learning something; because everybody tells you "Do more and more of the same thing, and you will get it." What I got were more and more experiences, and then those experiences demanded permanence — and there is no such thing as permanence. So, "The holy men are all phonies — they are telling me only what is there in the books. That I can read — 'Do the same again and again' — that I don't want. Experiences I don't want. They are trying to share an experience with me. I'm not interested in experience. As far as experience goes, for me there is no difference between the religious experience and the sex experience or any other experience; the religious experience is like any other experience. I am not interested in experiencing Brahman; I am not interested in experiencing reality; I am not interested in experiencing truth. They might help others; but they cannot help me. I'm not interested in doing more of the same; what I have done is enough. At school if you want to solve a mathematical problem, you repeat it again and again — you solve the mathematical problem, and you discover that the answer is in the problem. So, what the hell are you doing, trying to solve the problem? It is easier to find the answer first instead of going through all this."
So, reluctantly, hesitatingly, unwilling, I went to see Ramana Maharshi. That fellow dragged me. He said "Go there once. Something will happen to you." He talked about it and gave me a book, Search in Secret India by Paul Brunton, so I read the chapter relating to this man — "All right, I don't mind, let me go and see." That man was sitting there. From his very presence I felt "What! This man — how can he help me? This fellow who is reading comic strips, cutting vegetables, playing with this, that or the other — how can this man help me? He can't help me." Anyway, I sat there. Nothing happened; I looked at him, and he looked at me. "In his presence you feel silent, your questions disappear, his look changes you" — all that remained a story, fancy stuff to me. I sat there. There were a lot of questions inside, silly questions — so, "The questions have not disappeared. I have been sitting here for two hours, and the questions are still there. All right, let me ask him some questions" — because at that time I very much wanted moksha. This part of my background, moksha, I wanted. "You are supposed to be a liberated man" — I didn't say that. "Can you give me what you have?" — I asked him this question, but that man didn't answer, so after some lapse of time I repeated that question — "I am asking 'Whatever you have, can you give it to me?'" He said, "I can give you, but can you take it?" Boy! For the first time this fellow says that he has something and that I can't take it. Nobody before had said "I can give you," but this man said "I can give you, but can you take it?" Then I said to myself "If there is any individual in this world who can take it, it is me, because I have done so much sadhana, seven years of sadhana. He can think that I can't take it, but I can take it. If I can't take it, who can take it?" - — that was my frame of mind at the time — you know, (Laughs) I was so confident of myself.
I didn't stay with him, I didn't read any of his books, so I asked him a few more questions: "Can one be free sometimes and not free sometimes?" He said "Either you are free, or you are not free at all." There was another question which I don't remember. He answered in a very strange way: "There are no steps leading you to that." But I ignored all these things. These questions didn't matter to me — the answers didn't interest me at all.
But this question "Can you take it?" ... "How arrogant he is!" — that was my feeling. "Why can't I take it, whatever it is? What is it that he has?" — that was my question, a natural question. So, the question formulated itself: "What is that state that all those people - - Buddha, Jesus and the whole gang — were in? Ramana is in that state — supposed to be, I don't know — but that chap is like me, a human being. How is he different from me? What others say or what he is saying is of no importance to me; anybody can do what he is doing. What is there? He can't be very much different from me. He was also born from parents. He has his own particular ideas about the whole business. Some people say something happened to him, but how is he different from me? What is there: What is that state?" — that was my fundamental question, the basic question — that went on and on and on. "I must find out what that state is. Nobody can give that state; I am on my own. I have to go on this uncharted sea without a compass, without a boat, with not even a raft to take me. I am going to find out for myself what the state is in which that man is." I wanted that very much, otherwise I wouldn't have given my life.
Q: This giving-taking business, I don't understand.
UG: I can't say anything about what he meant when he said "I can give it, but can you take it?" but in a way that helped me to formulate my own question. You see, if somebody were to ask me a similar question now, I would say there isn't anything to get from anybody. Who am I to give it to you? You have what I have. We are all at 25 Sannidhi Street, and you are asking me "Where is 25 Sannidhi Street?" I say you are there. Not that I know I am there. This wanting to know where you are — you are asking that question.
(UG says he never again visited Ramana or any of "those religious people," and never again touched any religious book except to study for his philosophy examinations.)
Then my real search began. All my religious background was there in me. Then I started exploring. For some years I studied psychology and also philosophy (Eastern and Western), mysticism, all the modern sciences — everything, the whole area of human knowledge, I started exploring on my own. The search went on and on and on, and "What is that state?" was my question, and the question had an intensity of its own. So, "All this knowledge doesn't satisfy me. Why read all this?" Psychology was one of my subjects for a Master's degree — unfortunately, at that time it was part of our syllabus. I was interested in psychology for the simple reason that the mind had always intrigued me: "Where is this mind? I want to know something about it. Here, inside of me, I don't see any mind, but all these books talk of mind. Come on, let me see what the Western psychologists have to say about the mind." One day I asked my professor "We are talking about the mind all the time. Do you know for yourself what the mind is? We are studying so many books — Freud, Jung, Adler and the whole gang. All that stuff I know — I read the definitions and descriptions that are there in the books — but do you yourself know anything about the mind?" He said "Don't ask such inconvenient questions. (Laughter) They are very dangerous questions. If you want to pass the examination, just take down these notes, memorize them, and repeat them in the answer papers — you will get your degree." "I am not interested in a degree; I am interested in finding out about the mind."
(His grandfather died, and UG left the University of Madras without completing his degree. In 1943 he married.)
Then I got involved with the Theosophical Society, because of my background. I inherited the Theosophical Society, J. Krishnamurti and a lot of money from my grandfather. So that made it easy for me: plenty of money was there at that time — fifty or sixty thousand dollars — so I could do all this kind of thing. I got involved with the Theosophical Society as a lecturer (and eventually UG was elected Joint General Secretary of the Society in India), but my heart was not in it — "All this is second-hand information. What is the point of giving lectures?" I was a very good speaker at that time, but not now any more. I was a first-class speaker, lecturing everywhere, on every platform. I addressed every university in India. "This is not something real to me. Anybody who has brains can gather this information and then throw it out. What am I doing? Why am I wasting my time? This is not my living, not my means of livelihood. If it is your living, all right, then I can understand, you repeat like a parrot and make a living; but this is not my living. And yet, I am interested in something, I am interested in that kind of a thing."
Then (in the late 1940's, towards the end of UG's time with the Theosophical Society) J. Krishnamurti arrived on the scene. He had just returned from the United States and started his new kind of....
Q: Are your related to Krishnamurti?
UG 'Krishnamurti' is only a given name, not a family name. His family name is Jiddu — 'Krishnamurti' is quite a common name — Jiddu Krishnamurti.
I got involved with him. I listened to him for some seven years, every time he came. I never met him personally, because the whole 'World Teacher' business and all that created some kind of a distance. "How can a World Teacher be created? World Teachers are born, not made" — that was my kind of make-up. I knew the whole background, the whole business. I was not part of the inner circle; I was always on the periphery, I never wanted to involve myself. There was the same hypocrisy there too, in the sense that there was nothing in their lives; they were shallow — the scholars, master-minds and remarkable people. "What is this? What is there behind?"
Then Krishnamurti came along and, after seven years, circumstances brought us together. I met him every day — we discussed the whole thing. I was not interested in his abstractions at all. His teaching did not interest me at all. I told him once "You have picked up the psychological jargon of the day, and you are trying to express something through this jargon. You adopt analysis and arrive at the point that analysis is not it. This kind of analysis is only paralyzing people; it is not helping people. It is paralyzing me." My question was the same question: "What is it that you have? The abstractions that you are throwing at me, I am not interested in. Is there anything behind the abstractions? What is that? Somehow I have a feeling — I can't say why — that what is behind the abstractions you are throwing out is what I am interested in. For some reason I have a feeling — it may be my own projection — you (to give a familiar, traditional simile) may not have tasted the sugar, but at lest you seem to have looked at the sugar. The way you are describing things gives me the feeling that you have at least seen the sugar, but I am not certain that you have tasted the sugar."
So, we struggled for years and years. (Laughs) There were some personal differences between us. I wanted some straight, honest answers from him, which he did not give, for his own reasons. He was very defensive — he was defending something. "What is there for you to defend? Hang your past, the whole thing on a tree and leave it to the people. Why do you want to defend yourself?" I wanted some straight, honest answers about his background, which he didn't give me in a satisfactory way. And then, towards the end, I insisted, "Come on, is there anything behind the abstractions which you are throwing at me?" And that chappie said "You have no way of knowing it for yourself." Finish — that was the end of our relationship, you see — "If I have no way of knowing it, you have no way of communicating it. What the hell are we doing? I've wasted seven years. Goodbye, I don't want to see you again." Then I walked out.
(It was probably about this time that UG was puzzled by the appearance of certain psychic powers.)
Before my forty-ninth ear I had so many powers, so many experiences, but I didn't pay any attention to them. The moment I saw a man, I could see the entire past, present and future of that man without his telling me anything. I didn't use them; I was wondering, puzzled, you see — "Why do I have this power?" Sometimes I said things, and they always happened. I couldn't figure out the mechanism of that — I tried to — "How is it possible for me to say something like that?" They always happened. I didn't play with it. Then it had certain unpleasant consequences and created suffering for some people.
(UG was travelling all over the world, still lecturing. In 1955 he and his wife and four children moved to the United States in search of treatment for his eldest son's polio. By 1961 his money was finished, and he felt beginning within him a tremendous upheaval which he could not and did not wish to control, and which was to last six years and end with the 'calamity' (as he calls his entry into the natural state). His marriage broke up. He put his family on a plane to India, and he went to London. He arrived penniless and began roaming the city. For three years he lived idly in the streets. His friends saw him as heading on a headlong course downhill, but he says that at the time his life seemed perfectly natural to him. Later, religious-minded people were to use the mystics' phrase 'the dark night of the soul' to describe those years, but in his view there was "no heroic struggle with temptation and worldliness, no soul-wrestling with urges, no poetic climaxes, but just a simple withering away of the will.")
It was as if there was no head for me after that: "Where is my head? Do I have a head or not? The head seems to be there. Where do these thoughts come from?" — this was my question. The head was absent, and only this part was moving around. There was no will to do anything: it was like a leaf blown here, there and everywhere, living a shoddy life. It went on and on and on. Finally — I don't know what happened — one day I said to myself "This kind of life is no good." I was a bum practically, living on the charity of some people and not knowing anything. There was no will — I didn't know what I was doing — I was practically insane. I was in London, wandering in the streets — no place to live — wandering in the streets all night. The policemen always stopped me: "Don't you have a place? We will put you in the nick." So, that was the kind of life I led. Daytimes I would go and sit in the British Museum — I could get a ticket. What to read in the British Museum? I was not interested in reading at all — no books interested me — but to pretend that I was there to read something, I used to pick up a thesaurus of underground slang — the underground men, the criminals — all kinds of slang. I was reading that for some time to spend the day; at night I'd go somewhere. It went on and on and on.
One day I was sitting in Hyde Park. The policeman came and said "You can't stay here. We are going to throw you out." Where to go? What to do? No money — I think I only had five pence in my pocket. The thought came into my head: "Go to the Ramakrishna Mission." That's all, just that thought out of nowhere — maybe it was all my own projection. There was no way for me except wandering in the streets, and that fellow was after me, so I took the tube up to a point until I couldn't go any further. From there I walked to the Mission to meet the Swami. They said "You can't see him now. It is ten o'clock in the night. He won't see you; he won't see anybody at all." I told the secretary I had to see him. Somehow he came. Then I put this scrapbook before him — this was me: my lectures, The New York Times' comments on my lectures, my background. Somehow I had kept that book with me, the scrapbook which my manager had prepared in America. "This was me, and is me now." Then he said "What do you want?" I said "I want to go into the meditation room and sit there all night." He said "That you can't do. We have a policy not to let anybody use the meditation room after eight o'clock." I said "Then I have no place to go." He said "I'll fix up a room for you. Stay in the hotel tonight, and come back." So I stayed in the hotel. Next day I went there at twelve o'clock, tired. They were eating. They gave me lunch. For the first time I had a real meal. I had lost even the appetite for food; I didn't know what hunger was or what thirst was.
After lunch the Swami called me and said "I am looking for a man exactly like you. My assistant who was doing the editorial work is mentally ill — he has ended up in the hospital. I have to bring out this Vivekananda Centenary number. You are the right man for me to have at this time. You can help me." I said "I can't write anything. Maybe I did editing in those days, but now I can't do anything. I'm a finished man. I can't be of any help in that direction." He said "No, no, no, together we can do something." He was very badly in need of someone with a background in Indian philosophy and everything. He could have had anybody he wanted, but he said "No, no, no, it is all right. Rest for some time, stay here, I'll take care of you." I said "I don't want to do literary work. Give me a room, and I will wash your dishes or do something, but that kind of work I am singularly incapable of." He said "No, no, no, I want that." So I tried to do something; not to my satisfaction, not to his satisfaction, but somehow together we brought out the issue.
He was also giving me money, five pounds, like all the other swamis. Fort the first time I had five pounds to spend, so, "What to do with this?" I had lost the sense of the value of money because I'd had no money. There was a time when I could write a cheque for one hundred thousand rupees; after some time, not even one paisa in my pocket; now five pounds. "What am I to do with this?" — so, I decided to see every movie in London with that money. I used to stay at the mission and do work in the morning, eat there at one o'clock and go off to a movie. There came a time when I could not find any movie to see. In the London outskirts they used to show three movies for one shilling, or something like that, so I exhausted all the movies and spent all that money.
I used to sit there in the meditation room, wondering at these people meditating: "Why are they doing all those silly things?" By this time the whole thing had gone out of my system. But I had a very strange experience in that meditation center. Whatever it was — my own projection or something — the facts are there: for the first time I felt some peculiar.... I was sitting, doing nothing, looking at all those people, pitying them: "These people are meditating. Why do they want to go in for samadhi? They are not going to get anything — I have been through all that — they are kidding themselves. What can I do to save them from wasting all their lives doing all that kind of thing? It is not going to lead them anywhere." I was sitting there — nothing, blankness — when I felt something very strange: there was some kind of a movement inside of my body. Suddenly I found something was moving: some energy was coming out from the penis and through this (head) as if there was a hole. It was moving like this (in circles) in the clockwise direction, and then in the anticlockwise direction. it was like the Wills cigarette advertisement at the airport. It was such a funny thing for me, but I didn't relate this to anything at all. I was a finished man. Somebody was feeding me, somebody was taking care of me, there was no thought of the morrow, yet inside of me there was some kind of a thing: "It is a perverse way of living. It is perversity carried to its extremity. This is not anything." But yet, the head was missing — what could I do? It went on and on and on. After three months I said "I'm going. I can't do this kind of thing." Towards the end the Swami gave me some money, forty or fifty pounds. Then I decided....
You see, I still had an airline ticket to return to India, so I went to Paris, turned in the ticket and made some money because it was paid in dollars. With this thirty-five pounds I think I had about a hundred and fifty pounds. For three months I lived in Paris in some hotel, wandering in the streets as I had done before. The only difference was that now I had some money in my pocket. But slowly this money disappeared. After three months I decided I must go, but I resisted returning to India. Somehow I didn't want to go to India. Because of my family, the children, I was frightened of returning to India — that would complicate matters — all of them would come to me. I didn't want to go at all; I resisted that. Finally.... I had had a bank account in Switzerland for years and years — I thought I still had some money there. The last resort was to go to Switzerland and take the money out and then see what happened. So I came out of the hotel and got into a taxi and said "Take me to the Gare de Lyon." But the trains from Paris to Zurich (where I had my account) go from the Gare de l'Est, so I don't know why I told him to take me to the Gare de Lyon. So, he dropped me at the Gare de Lyon, and I got into the train going to Geneva.
I landed in Geneva with a hundred and fifty francs, or something to spend. I continued to stay in a hotel though I had no money to pay the bill. After two weeks they produced the bill: "Come on, money! What about the bill?" I had no money. I threw up my hands. The only thing left to me was to go to the Indian Consulate and say "Send me to India. I am finished, you see." So, the resistance to returning to India was finished, and I went to the Consulate and took out the scrapbook: "One of the most brilliant speakers that India has ever produced," with the opinions of Norman Cousins and Radhakrishnan about my talents. The Vice-Consul said "We can't send this kind of man to India at the expense of the Government of India. What do you think? Try and get some money from India, and in the meantime come and stay with me." So, you see, it went on and on and on. There I met this Swiss lady (Valentine de Kerven). She was the translator at the Indian Consulate, but that day she happened to be there at the reception desk because the receptionist was absent or something. We started talking, and then we became close friends. She said "If you want to stay, I can arrange for you to stay in Switzerland. If you don't want to go to India, don't go." After one month the Consulate sent me away, but we managed — she created a home for me in Switzerland. She gave up her job. She is not rich; she has just a little money, her pension, but we can live on this money.
So, we went to Saanen. That place has some significance to me. I had been there in '53 while travelling through that area, and when I saw this place, Saanen, something in me said "Get off the train and spend some time here," so I spent one week there. I said to myself "This is the place where I must spend the rest of my life." I had plenty of money then, but my wife didn't want to stay in Switzerland, because of the climate, and so many other things happened, and we went to America. So this unfulfilled dream materialized. We went to Saanen because I had always wanted to live there, so I continue to live there. Then J. Krishnamurti chose Saanen, for some reason or the other, for his meetings every summer — this chap started coming to Saanen. I lived there; I was not interested in Krishnamurti or anything. I was not interested in anything. For example, Valentine lived with me for a few years before my forty-ninth year. She can tell you that I never talked of this at all to her — my interest in truth, reality — nothing.
I never discussed this subject with her at all, nor with anybody else. There was no search in me, no seeking after something, but something funny was going on.
During that time (I call it the 'incubation') all kinds of things were happening to me inside — headaches, constant headaches, terrible pains here in the brain. I swallowed I don't know how many tens of thousands of aspirins. Nothing gave me relief. It was not migraine or any of those known headaches, but tremendous headaches. Those aspirin pills and fifteen to twenty cups of coffee every day to free myself! One day Valentine said "What! You are taking fifteen cups of coffee every day. Do you know what it means in terms of money? It is three or four hundred francs per month. What is this?" Anyway, it was such a terrible thing for me.
All kinds of funny things happened to me. I remember when I rubbed my body like this, there was a sparkle, like a phosphorous glow, on the body. She used to run out of her bedroom to see — she thought there were cars going that way in the middle of the night. Every time I rolled in my bed there was a sparkling of light, (Laughs) and it was so funny for me —"What is this?" It was electricity — that is why I say it is an electromagnetic field. At first I thought it was because of my nylon clothes and static electricity; but then I stopped using nylon. I was a very skeptical heretic, to the tips of my toes; I never believed in anything; even if I saw some miracle happen before me, I didn't accept that at all — such was the make-up of this man. It never occurred to me that anything of that sort was in the making for me.
Very strange things happened to me, but I never related those things to liberation or freedom or moksha, because by that time the whole thing had gone out of my system. I had arrived at a point where I said to myself "Buddha deluded himself and deluded others. All those teachers and saviors of mankind were damned fools — they fooled themselves — so I'm not interested in this kind of thing anymore," so it went out of my system completely. It went on and on in its own way — peculiar things — but never did I say to myself "Well, (Laughs) I am getting there, I am nearer to that." There is no nearness to that, there is no farawayness from that, there is no closeness to that. Nobody is nearer to that because he is different, he is prepared. There's no readiness for that; it just hits you like a ton of bricks.
Then (April 1967) I happened to be in Paris when J. Krishnamurti also happened to be there. Some of my friends suggested "Why don't you go and listen to your old friend? He is here giving a talk." "All right, I haven't heard him for so many years — almost twenty years — let me go and listen." When I got there they demanded two francs from me. I said "I am not ready to pay two francs to listen to J. Krishnamurti. No, come on, let us go and do something foolish. Let's go to a strip-tease joint, the 'Folies Bergere' or the 'Casino de Paris'. Come on, let us go there for twenty francs." So, there we were at the "Casino de Paris" watching the show. I had a very strange experience at that time: I didn't know whether I was the dancer or whether there was some other dancer dancing on the stage. A very strange experience for me: a peculiar kind of movement here, inside of me. (This is now something natural for me.) There was no division: there was nobody who was looking at the dancer. The question of whether I was the dancer, or whether there was a dancer out there on the stage, puzzled me. This kind of peculiar experience of the absence of division between me and the dancer, puzzled me and bothered me for some time — then we came out.
The question "What is that state?" had a tremendous intensity for me — not an emotional intensity — the more I tried to find an answer, the more I failed to find an answer, the more intensity the question had. It's like (I always give this simile) rice chaff. If a heap of rice chaff is ignited, it continues burning inside; you don't see any fire outside, but when you touch it, it burns you of course. In exactly the same way the question was going on and on and on: "What is that state? I want it. Finished. Krishnamurti said "You have no way," but still I want to know what that state is, the state in which Buddha was, Sankara was, and all those teachers were."
Then (July 1967) there arrived another phase. Krishnamurti was again there in Saanen giving talks. My friends dragged me there and said "Now at least it is a free business. Why don't you come and listen?" I said "All right, I'll come and listen." When I Iistened to him, something funny happened to me — a peculiar kind of feeling that he was describing my state and not his state. Why did I want to know his state? He was describing something, some movements, some awareness, some silence — "In that silence there is no mind; there is action" — all kinds of things. So, "I am in that state. What the hell have I been doing these thirty or forty years, listening to all these people and struggling, wanting to understand his state or the state of somebody else, Buddha or Jesus? I am in that state. Now I am in that state." So, then I walked out of the tent and never looked back.
Then — very strange — that question "What is that state?" transformed itself into another question "How do I know that I am in that state, the state of Buddha, the state I very much wanted and demanded from everybody? I am in that state, but how do I know?
The next day (UG's forty-ninth birthday) I was sitting on a bench under a tree overlooking one of the most beautiful spots in the whole world, the seven hills and seven valleys (of Saanenland). I was sitting there. Not that the question was there; the whole of my being was that question: "How do I know that I am in that state? There is some kind of peculiar division inside of me: there is somebody who knows that he is in that state. The knowledge of that state — what I have read, what I have experienced, what they have talked about — it is this knowledge that is looking at that state, so it is only this knowledge that has projected that state." I said to myself "Look here, old chap, after forty years you have not moved one step; you are there in square number one. It is the same knowledge that projected your mind there when you asked this question. You are in the same situation asking the same question, "How do I know?" because it is this knowledge, the description of the state by those people, that has created this state for you. You are kidding yourself. You are a damned fool." So, nothing. But still there was some kind of a peculiar feeling that this was the state.
The second question "How do I know that this is the state?" — I didn't have any answer for that question — it was like a question in a whirlpool — it went on and on and on. Then suddenly the question disappeared. Nothing happened; the question just disappeared. I didn't say to myself "Oh, my God! Now I have found the answer." Even that state disappeared — the state I thought I was in, the state of Buddha, Jesus — even that has disappeared. The question has disappeared. The whole thing is finished for me, and that's all, you see. From then on, never did I say to myself "Now I have the answer to all those questions." That state of which I had said "This is the state" — that state disappeared. The question disappeared. Finished, you see. It is not emptiness, it is not blankness, it is not the void, it is not any of those things; the question disappeared suddenly, and that is all.
(The disappearance of his fundamental question, on discovering that it had no answer, was a physiological phenomenon, UG says, "a sudden 'explosion' inside, blasting, as it were, every cell, every nerve and every gland in my body." And with that 'explosion', the illusion that there is continuity of thought, that there is a center, an 'I' linking up the thoughts, was not there anymore.)
Then thought cannot link up. The linking gets broken, and once it is broken it is finished. Then it is not once that thought explodes; every time a thought arises, it explodes. So, this continuity comes to an end, and thought falls into its natural rhythm.
Since then I have no questions of any kind, because the questions cannot stay there any more. The only questions I have are very simple questions ("How do I go to Hyderabad?" for example) to function in this world — and people have answers for these questions. For those questions, nobody has any answers — so there are no questions any more.
Everything in the head has tightened — there was no room for anything there inside of my brain. For the first time I became conscious of my head with everything 'tight' inside of it. So, these vasanas (past impressions) or whatever you call them — they do try to show their heads sometimes, but then the brain cells are so 'tight' that it has no opportunity to fool around there any more. The division cannot stay there — it's a physical impossibility; you don't have to do a thing about it, you see, That is why I say that when this 'explosion' takes place (I use the word 'explosion' because it's like a nuclear explosion) it leaves behind chain- reactions. Every cell in your body, the cells in the very marrow of your bones, have to undergo this 'change' — I don't want to use that word — it's an irreversible change. There's no question of your going back. there's no question of a 'fall' for this man at all. Irreversible: an alchemy of some sort.
It is like a nuclear explosion, you see — it shatters the whole body. It is not an easy thing; it is the end of the man — such a shattering thing that it blasts every cell, every nerve in your body. I went through terrible physical torture at that moment. Not that you experience the 'explosion'; you can't experience the 'explosion' — but it's after-effects, the 'fall-out', is the thing that changes the whole chemistry of your body.
Q: Sir, you must have experienced, if I may use the words, higher planes....
UG: You are talking of planes? There are no planes — no planes, no levels. You see, there is one very strange thing that happens as a result of this 'explosion' or whatever you want to call it: at no time does the thought that I am different from you come into this consciousness. Never. Never does that thought come into my consciousness and tell me that you are different from me or I am different from you, because there is no point here, there is no center here. Only with reference to this center do you create all the other points.
Q: In some way, you must certainly be different from other people.
UG: Physiologically, probably.
Q: You said that tremendous chemical changes have taken place in you. How do you know this? Were you ever examined, or is this an inference?
UG: The after-effects of that ('explosion'), the way the senses are operating now without any co-ordinator or center — that's all I can say. Another thing: the chemistry has changed — I can say that because unless that alchemy or change in the whole chemistry takes place, there is no way of freeing this organism from thought, from the continuity of thought. So, since there is no continuity of thought, you can very easily say that something has happened, but what actually has happened? I have no way of experiencing this at all.
Q: It may be that the mind is playing games and that I merely think I am an "exploded man."
UG: I am not trying to sell anything here. It is impossible for you to simulate this. This is a thing that has happened outside the field, the area, in which I expected, dreamed and wanted change, so I don't call this a 'change'. I really don't know what has happened to me. What I am telling you is the way I am functioning. There seems to be some difference between the way you are functioning and the way I am functioning, but basically there can't be any difference. How can there be any difference between you and me? There can't be; but from the way we are trying to express ourselves, there seems to be. I have the feeling that there is some difference, and what that difference is is all that I am trying to understand. So, this is the way I am functioning.
(UG noticed, during the week following the 'explosion', fundamental changes in the functioning of his senses. On the last day his body went through 'a process of physical death' (Nirvikalpa samadhi), and the changes became permanent features.)
Then began the changes — from the next day onwards, for seven days — every day one change. First I discovered the softness of the skin, the blinking of the eyes stopped, and then changes in taste, smell and hearing — these five changes I noticed. Maybe they were there even before, and I only noticed them for the first time.
(On the first day) I noticed that my skin was soft like silk and had a peculiar kind of glow, a golden color. I was shaving, and each time I tried to shave, the razor slipped. I changed blades, but it was no use. I touched my face. My sense of touch was different, you see, also the way I held the razor. Especially my skin — my skin was soft as silk and had this golden glow. I didn't relate this to anything at all; I just observed it.
(On the second day) I became aware for the first time that my mind was in what I call a 'declutched state'. I was upstairs in the kitchen and Valentine had prepared tomato soup. I looked at it, and I didn't know what it was. She told me it was tomato soup, and I tasted it, and I recognized "This is how tomato soup tastes." Then I swallowed the soup, and then I returned to this odd frame of mind — though 'frame of mind' is not the word for it; it was a frame of 'not mind' — in which I forgot again. I asked again "What is that?" Again she said it was tomato soup. Again I tasted it. Again I swallowed and forgot. I played with this for some time. It was such a funny business for me then, this 'declutched state'; now it has become normal. I no longer spend time in reverie, worry, conceptualization and the other kinds of thinking that most people do when they're alone. My mind is only engaged when it's needed, for instance when you ask questions, or when I have to fix the tape-recorder or something like that. The rest of the time my mind is in the 'declutched state'. Of course now I have my memory back — I lost it at first, but now I have it back — but my memory is in the background and only comes into play when it's needed, automatically. When it's not needed, there is no mind here, there is no thought, there is only life.
(On the third day) some friends invited themselves over for dinner, and I said "All right, I'll prepare something." But somehow I couldn't smell or taste properly. I became gradually aware that these two senses had been transformed. Every time some odor entered my nostrils it irritated my olfactory center in just about the same way — whether it came from the most expensive scent or from cow dung, it was the same irritation. And then, every time I tasted something, I tasted the dominant ingredient only — the taste of the other ingredients came slowly after. From that moment perfume made no sense to me, and spicy food had no appeal for me. I could taste only the dominant spice, the chili or whatever it was.
(On the fourth day) something happened to the eyes. We were sitting in the 'Rialto' restaurant, and I became aware of a tremendous sort of 'vistavision', like a concave mirror. Things coming towards me, moved into me, as it were; and things going away from me, seemed to move from inside me. It was such a puzzle to me — it was as if my eyes were a gigantic camera, changing focus without my doing anything. Now I am used to the puzzle. Nowadays that is how I see. When you drive me around in your Mini, I am like a cameraman dollying along, and the cars in the other direction go into me, and the cars that pass us come out of me, and when my eyes fix on something they fix on it with total attention, like a camera. Another thing about my eyes: when we came back from the restaurant I came home and looked in the mirror to see what was odd about my eyes, to see how they were 'fixed'. I looked in the mirror for a long time, and then I observed that my eyelids were not blinking. For half an hour or forty-five minutes I looked into the mirror — still no blinking of the eyes. Instinctive blinking was over for me, and it still is.
(On the fifth day) I noticed a change in hearing. When I heard the barking of a dog, the barking originated inside me. And the same with the mooing of the cow, the whistle of the train — suddenly all sounds originated inside me, as it were - coming from within, and not from outside — they still do.
Five senses changed in five days, and on the sixth day I was lying down on a sofa — Valentine was there in the kitchen — and suddenly my body disappeared. There was no body there. I looked at my hand. (Crazy thing — you would certainly put me in the mental hospital.) I looked at it — "Is this my hand?" There was no questioning here, but the whole situation was like that - that is all I am describing. So I touched this body — nothing — I didn't feel there was anything there except the touch, you see, the point of contact. Then I called Valentine: "Do you see my body on this sofa? Nothing inside of me says that this is my body." She touched it — "This is your body." And yet that assurance didn't give me any comfort or satisfaction — "What is this funny business? My body is missing." My body had gone away, and it has never come back. The points of contact are all that is there for the body — nothing else is there for me — because the seeing is altogether independent of the sense of touch here. So it is not possible for me to create a complete image of my body even, because where there's no sense of touch there are missing points here in the consciousness.
On the seventh day I was again lying on the same sofa, relaxing, enjoying the 'declutched state'. Valentine would come in, I would recognize her as Valentine; she would go out of the room — finish, blank, no Valentine — "What is this? I can't even imagine what Valentine looks like." I would listen to the sounds coming from inside me?" I could not relate. I had discovered that all my senses were without any coordinating thing inside: the co- ordinator was missing.
I felt something happening inside of me: the life energy drawing to a focal point from different parts of my body. I said to myself "Now you have come to the end of your life. You are going to die." Then I called Valentine and said "I am going to die, Valentine, and you will have to do something with this body. Hand it over to the doctors — maybe they will use it. I don't believe in burning or burial or any of those things. In your own interest you have to dispose of this body — one day it will stink — so, why not give it away?" She said "You are a foreigner. The Swiss government won't take your body. Forget about it," then she went away. And then this whole business of the frightening movement of the life force coming to a point, as it were. I was lying down on the sofa. Her bed was empty, so I moved over to that bed and stretched myself, getting ready. She ignored me and went away. She said "One day you say this thing has changed, another day this thing has changed, a third day this thing has changed. What is this whole business?" She was not interested in any of those things — never was she interested in any of these religious matters — never heard of those things. "You say you are going to die. You are not going to die. You are all right, hale and healthy." She went away. Then I stretched myself, and this was going on and on and on. The whole life energy was moving to some focal point — where it was, I don't know. Then a point arrived where the whole thing looked as if the aperture of a camera was trying to close itself. (It is the only simile that I can think of. The way I am describing this is quite different from the way things happened at that time, because there was nobody there thinking in such terms. All this was part of my experience, otherwise I wouldn't be able to talk about it.) So, the aperture was trying to close itself, and something was there trying to keep it open. Then after a while there was no will to do anything, not even to prevent the aperture closing itself. Suddenly, as it were, it closed. I don't know what happened after that.
This process lasted for forty-nine minutes — this process of dying. It was like a physical death, you see. Even now it happens to me: the hands and feet become so cold, the body becomes stiff, the heartbeat slows down, the breathing slows down, and then there is a gasping for breath. Up to a point you are there, you breathe your last breath, as it were, and then you are finished. What happens after that, nobody knows.
When I came out of that, somebody said there was a telephone call for me. I came out and went downstairs to answer it. I was in a daze. I didn't know what had happened. It was a physical death. What brought me back to life, I don't know. How long it lasted, I don't know. I can't say anything about that, because the experiencer was finished: there was nobody to experience that death at all.... So, that was the end of it. I got up.
I didn't feel that I was a new-born baby — no question of enlightenment at all — but the things that had astonished me that week, the changes in taste, seeing and so on, had become permanent fixtures. I call all these events the 'calamity'. I call it the 'calamity' because from the point of view of one who thinks this is something fantastic, blissful, full of beatitude, love, ecstasy and all that kind of a thing, this is physical torture — this is a calamity from that point of view. Not a calamity to me, but a calamity to those who have an image that something marvelous is going to happen. It's something like: you imagine New York, you dream about it, you want to be there. When you are actually there, nothing of it is there; it is a godforsaken place, and even the devils have probably forsaken that place. It's not the thing that you had sought after and wanted so much, but totally different. What is there, you really don't know — you have no way of knowing anything about that — there is no image here. In that sense I can never tell myself or anybody "I'm an enlightened man, a liberated man, a free man; I'm going to liberate mankind." Free from what? How can I liberate somebody else. There's no question of liberating anybody. For that, I must have an image that I am a free man, you understand?
Then, on the eighth day I was sitting on the sofa and suddenly there was an outburst of tremendous energy — tremendous energy shaking the whole body, and along with the body, the sofa, the chalet and the whole universe, as it were — shaking, vibrating. You can't create that movement at all. It was sudden. Whether it was coming from outside or inside, from below or above, I don't know — I couldn't locate the spot; it was all over. It lasted for hours and hours. I couldn't bear it but there was nothing I could do to stop it; there was a total helplessness. This went on and on, day after day, day after day. Whenever I sat it started — this vibration like an epileptic fit or something. Not even an epileptic fit; it went on for days and days.
(For three days UG lay on his bed, his body contorted with pain — it was, he says, as if he felt pain in every cell of his body, one after the other. Similar outbursts of energy occurred intermittently throughout the next six months, whenever he lay down or relaxed.)
The body was not able to.... The body feels the pain. That's a very painful process. Very painful. It is a physical pain because the body has limitations — it has a form, a shape of its own, so when there is an outburst of energy, which is not your energy or my energy or God's (or call it by any name you like), it is like a river in spate. The energy that is operating there does not feel the limitations of the body; it is not interested; it has its own momentum. It is a very painful thing. It is not that ecstatic, blissful beatitude and all that rubbish — stuff and nonsense! — it is really a painful thing. Oh, I suffered for months and months after that; before that too. Everybody has. Even Ramana Maharshi suffered after that.
A great cascade — not one, but thousands of cascades — it went on and on and on for months and months. It's a very painful experience — painful in the sense that the energy has a peculiar operation of its own. H'm, you know, you have at the airport a Wills cigarette advertisement. There is an atom: lines going like that. (UG demonstrates.) It is clockwise, anticockwise, and then it is this way and then this way and then this way. Like an atom it moves inside — not in one part of your body; the whole body. it is as if a wet towel were being wrung to get rid of the water — it is like that, the whole of our body — it's such a painful thing. It goes on even now. You can't invite it; you can't ask it to come; you can't do anything. It gives you the feeling that it is enveloping you, that it is descending on you. Descending from where? Where is it coming from? How is it coming? Every time it is new — very strange — every time it comes in a different way, so you don't know what is happening. You lie down on your bed, and suddenly it begins — it begins to move slowly like ants. I'd think there were bugs in my bed, jump out, look — (Laughs) no bugs — then I'd go back — then again.... The hairs are electrified, so it slowly moves.
There were pains all over the body. Thought has controlled this body to such an extent that when that loosens, the whole metabolism is agog. The whole thing was changing in its own way without my doing anything. And then the movement of the hands changed. Usually your hands turn this way. (UG demonstrates.) Here, this wrist joint had terrible pains for six months until it turned itself, and all the movements are now like this. That is why they say my movements are mudras (mystical gestures). The movements of the hands are quite different now than before. Then there were pains in the marrow of the bones. Every cell started changing, and it went on and on for six months.
And then the sex hormones started changing. I didn't know whether I was a man or a woman — What is this business?" — suddenly there was a breast on the left-hand side. All kinds of things — I don't want to go into details — there is a complete record of all these things. It went on and on and on. It took three years for this body to fall into a new rhythm of its own.
Q: Can we understand how it happened to you?
Q: Can we understand what happened?
UG: You can read a description of the events of my life, that's all. One day, around my forty- ninth birthday something stopped; another day another sense changed; the third day something else changed.... There is a record of the way the things happened tome. What value has that to you? It has no value at all. On the other hand it's very dangerous because you try to simulate the outward manifestations. People simulate these things and believe that something is happening — that's what these people do. I behaved normally. I didn't know what was happening. It was a strange situation. there is no point in leaving any record — people will only simulate these things. The state is something natural.
(Up and down his torso, neck and head, at those points which Indian holy men call chakras, his friends observed swellings of various shapes and colors, which came and went at intervals. On his lower abdomen the swellings were horizontal, cigar-shaped bands. Above the navel was a hard, almond-shaped swelling. A hard, blue swelling, like a large medallion, in the middle of his chest was surmounted by another smaller, brownish-red, medallion-shaped swelling at the base of his throat. These two 'medallions' were as though suspended from a varicolored, swollen ring — blue, brownish and light yellow — around his neck, as in pictures of the Hindu gods. There were also other similarities between the swellings and the depictions of Indian religious art: his throat was swollen to a shape that made his chin seem to rest on the head of a cobra, as in the traditional images of Siva; just above the bridge of the nose was a white lotus-shaped swelling; all over the head the small blood vessels expanded, forming patterns like the stylized lumps on the heads of Buddha statues. Like the horns of Moses and the Taoist mystics, two large, hard swellings periodically came and went. The arteries in his neck expanded and rose, blue and snake-like, into his head.)
I do not want to be an exhibitionist, but you are doctors. There is something to the symbolism they have in India — the cobra. Do you see the swellings here? — they take the shape of a cobra. Yesterday was the new moon. The body is affected by everything that is happening around you; it is not separate from what is happening around you. Whatever is happening there, is also happening here — there is only the physical response. This is affection. Your body is affected by everything that is happening around you; and you can't prevent this, for the simple reason that the armour that you have built around yourself is destroyed, so it is very vulnerable to everything that is happening there. With the phases of the moon — full moon, half moon, quarter moon — these swellings here take the shape of a cobra. Maybe that is the reason why some people have created all these images — Siva and all those kinds of things. But why should it take the shape of a cobra? I have asked many doctors why this swelling is here, but nobody could give me a satisfactory answer. I don't know if there are any glands or anything here.
There are certain glands ... This I have discussed so many times with doctors who are doing research into the ductless glands. Those glands are what the Hindus call "chakras." These ductless glands are located in exactly the same spots where the Hindus speculated the chakras are. There is one gland here which is called the 'thymus gland'. That is very active when you are a child — very active — they have feelings, extraordinary feelings. When you reach the age of puberty it becomes dormant — that's what they say. When again this kind of a thing happens, when you are reborn again, that gland is automatically activated, so all the feelings are there. Feelings are not thoughts, not emotions; you feel for somebody. If somebody hurts himself there, that hurt is felt here—not as a pain, but there is a feeling, you see — you automatically say "Ah!"
This actually happened to me when I was staying in a coffee plantation: a mother started beating a child, a little child, you know. She was mad, hopping mad, and she hit the child so hard, the child almost turned blue. And somebody asked me "Why did you not interfere and stop her?" I was standing there — I was so puzzled, you see. "Who should I take pity on, the mother or the child?" — that was my answer — "Who is responsible?" Both were in a ridiculous situation: the mother could not control her anger, and the child was so helpless and innocent. This went on — it was moving from one to the other — and then I found all those things (marks) on my back. So I was also part of that. (I am not saying this just to claim something.) That is possible because consciousness cannot be divided. Anything that is happening there is affecting you — this is affection, you understand? There is no question of your sitting in judgement on anybody; the situation happens to be that, so you are affected by that. You are affected by everything that is happening there.
Q: In the entire universe?
UG: That is too big, you see. Anything that is happening within your field of consciousness. Consciousness is, of course, not limited. If he is hurt there, you also are hurt here. If you are hurt, there is an immediate response there. I can't say about the universe, the whole universe, but in your field of consciousness, in the limited field in which you are operating at that particular moment, you are responding — not that you are responding.
And all the other glands also here.... There are so many glands here; for example, the pituitary — 'third eye', ajña chakra, they call it. When once the interference of thought is finished, it is taken over by this gland: it is this gland that gives the instructions or orders to the body; not thought any more; thought cannot interfere. (That is why they call it that*, probably. I'm not interpreting or any such thing; perhaps this gives you an idea.) But you have built an armour created an armour with this thought, and you don't allow yourself to be affected by things.
- The literal meaning "ajña" is "command."
Since there is nobody who uses this thought as a self-protective mechanism, it burns itself up. Thought undergoes combustion, ionization (if I may use your scientific term). Thought is, after all, vibration. So, when this kind of ionization of thought takes place, it throws out, sometimes it covers the whole body with, an ash-like substance. Your body is covered with that when there is no need for thought at all. When you don't use it, what happens to that thought? It burns itself out — that is the energy — it's a combustion. The body gets heated, you know. There is tremendous heat in the body as a result of this, and so the skin is covered — your face, your feet, everything — with this ash-like substance.
That's one of the reasons why I express it in pure and simple physical and physiological terms. It has no psychological content at all, it has no mystical content, it has no religious overtones at all, as I see it. I am bound to say that, and I don't care whether you accept it or not, it is of no importance to me.
This kind of a thing must have happened to so many people. I say this happens to one in a billion, and you are that one in a billion. It is not something that one is specially prepared for. There are no purificatory methods necessary, there is no sadhana necessary for this kind of a thing to happen — no preparation of any kind. The consciousness is so pure that whatever you are doing in the direction of purifying that consciousness is adding impurity to it.
Consciousness has to flush itself out: it has to purge itself of every trace of holiness, every trace of unholiness, everything. Even what you consider 'sacred and holy' is a contamination in that consciousness. It is not through any volition of yours; when once the frontiers are broken — not through any effort of yours, not through any volition of yours — then the floodgates are open and everything goes out. In that process of flushing out, you have all these visions. It's not a vision outside there or inside of you; suddenly you yourself, the whole consciousness, takes the shape of Buddha, Jesus, Mahavira, Mohammed, Socrates — only those people who have come into this state; not great men, not the leaders of mankind — it is very strange — but only those people to whom this kind of a thing happened.
One of them was a colored man (not exactly a colored man), and during that time I could tell people how he looked. Then some woman with breasts, flowing hair — naked. I was told that there were two saints here in India — Akkamahadevi and Lalleswari — they were women, naked women. Suddenly you have these two breasts, the flowing hair — even the organs change into female organs.
But still there is a division there — you, and the form the consciousness has assumed, the form of Buddha, say, or Jesus Christ or God knows what — the same situation: "How do I know I am in that state?" But that division cannot stay long; it disappears and something else comes. Hundreds of people — probably something happened to so many hundreds of people. This is part of history — so many rishis, some Westerners, monks, so many women, and sometimes very strange things. You see, all that people have experienced before you is part of your consciousness. I use the expression "the saints go marching out"; in Christianity they have a hymn "When the Saints Go Marching In." They run out of your consciousness because they cannot stay there any more, because all that is impurity, a contamination there.
You can say (I can't make any definite statement) probably it is because of the impact on the human consciousness of the 'explosions' of all those saints, sages and saviours of mankind that there is this dissatisfaction in you, that whatever is there is all the time trying to burst out, as it were. Maybe that is so — I can't say anything about it. You can say that they are there because they are pushing you to this point, and once the purpose is achieved they have finished their job and they go way — that is only speculation on my part. But this flushing out of everything good and bad, holy and unholy, sacred and profane has got to happen, otherwise your consciousness is still contaminated, still impure. During that time it goes on and on and on — there are hundreds and thousands of them — then, you see, you are put back into that primeval, primordial state of consciousness. Once it has become pure, of and by itself, then nothing can touch it, nothing can contaminate that any more. All the past up to that point is there, but it cannot influence your actions any more.
All these visions and everything were happening for three years after the "calamity." Now the whole thing is finished. The divided state of consciousness cannot function at all any more; it is always in the undivided state of consciousness — nothing can touch that. Anything can happen — the thought can be a good thought, a bad thought, the telephone number of a London prostitute.... During my wanderings in London, I used to look at those telephone numbers fixed to the trees. I was not interested in going to the prostitute, but those things, the numbers, interested me. I had nothing else to do, no books to read, nothing to do but look at those numbers. One number gets fixed in there, it comes there, it repeats itself. It doesn't matter what comes there — good, bad, holy, unholy. Who is there to say "This is good; that is bad?" — the whole thing is finished. That is why I have to use the phrase 'religious experience' (not in the sense in which you use the word 'religion'): it puts you back to the source. You are back in that primeval, primordial, pure state of consciousness —call it 'awareness' or whatever you like. In that state things are happening, and there is nobody who is interested, nobody who is looking at them. They come and go in their own way, like the Ganges water flowing: the sewerage water comes in, half-burnt corpses, both good things and bad things — everything — but that water is always pure.
The most puzzling and bewildering part of the whole thing was when the sensory activities began their independent careers. There was no co-ordinator linking the senses, so we had terrible problems — Valentine had to go through the whole business. We'd go for a walk, and I'd look at a flower and ask "What is that?" She'd say "That is a flower." I'd take a few more steps, look at a cow and ask "What is that?" Like a baby, I had to relearn everything all over (not actually relearn, but all the knowledge was in the background and never came to the forefront, you see). It started — the whole business — "What is this crazy business?" I have to put it in words; not that I felt I was in a crazy state. I was a very sane man, acting sanely, everything going on, and yet this ridiculous business of asking about everything "What is this? What is that?" That's all; no other questions. Valentine also didn't know what to make out of the whole business. She even went to a leading psychiatrist in Geneva. She rushed to him — she wanted to understand, but at the same time she felt that there was nothing crazy about me. If I'd done one crazy thing she would have left me. Never; only strange things, you see. "What is that?" "That is a cow." "What is that?" "That is that." It went on and on and on, and it was too much for her and too much for me. When she met the psychiatrist, he said "Unless we see the person, we can't tell anything. Bring him." But I knew that something really fantastic had happened inside — what it was, I didn't know, but that didn't bother me. "Why ask if that's a cow? What's the difference whether it is a cow, a donkey or a horse?" — that bewildering situation continued for a long time — all the knowledge was in the background. It's the same situation even now, but I don't ask those questions any more. When I am looking at something, I really don't know what I'm looking at — that is why I say it is a state of not knowing. I really don't know. That is why I say that once you are there, through some luck, some strange chance, from then on everything happens in its own way. You are always in a state of samadhi; there is no question of going in and out of it; you are always there. I don't want to use that word, so I say it is a state of not knowing. You really don't know what you are looking at.
I can't do anything about it — there is no question of my going back or anything; it is all finished — it is operating and functioning in a different way. (I have to use the words 'different way' to give you a feel about it.)
There seems to be some difference. You see, my difficulty with the people who come to see me is this: they don't seem to be able to understand the way I am functioning, and I don't seem to be able to understand the way they are functioning. How can we carry on a dialogue? Both of us have to stop. How can there be a dialogue between us both? I am talking like a raving maniac. All my talking totally unrelated, just like a maniac's — the difference is only a hair's breadth — that is why I say you either flip or fly at that moment.
There is no difference, absolutely no difference. Somehow, you see, by some luck, by some strange chance, this kind of thing happens (I have to use the word 'happens' to give you a feel about that) and the whole thing is finished for you.
Q: Are even those who have realized (within quotation marks) different from one another?
UG: Yes, because the background is different. The background is the only thing that can express itself. What else is there? My expression of it is the background: how I struggled, my path, the path I followed, how I rejected the paths of others — up to that point I can say what I did or what I did not do — so, that did not help me in any way.
Q: But one like you (I'm sorry to use 'you') is different from us. We re getting involved in our thoughts.
UG: He's different, not only from you but from all the others who are supposed to be in this state, because of his background.
Q: Although everyone who is supposed to have undergone this 'explosion' is unique, in the sense that each one is expressing his own background, there do seem to be some common characteristics.
UG: That is not my concern; it seems to be yours. I never compare myself to somebody else.
And that is all there to it. My biography is over. There is nothing more to write about, and never will be. If people come and ask me questions, I answer; if they don't, it makes no difference to me. I have not set myself up in the 'holy business' of liberating people. I have no particular message for mankind, except to say that all holy systems for obtaining enlightenment are bunk, and that all talk of arriving at a psychological mutation through awareness is poppycock. Psychological mutation is impossible. The natural state can happen only through biological mutation.