Mind is a Myth/IV
THERE IS NOTHING TO UNDERSTAND
U.G.: You will never be free from selfishness.
Q: But all the saints, saviors and religions of all times have encouraged us to be unselfish, to be self-effacing, to be meek. It must therefore be possible. How can you be so certain of such a thing?
U.G.: Because it is crystal clear to me that you have invented this idea of selflessness to protect yourself from the actual—your selfishness. In any case, whether you believe in selflessness or not, you remain at all times selfish. Your so-called selflessness exists only in the future, tomorrow. And when tomorrow comes, it is put off until the next day, or perhaps next life. Look at it this way; it is like the horizon. Actually, there is no horizon. The more you move towards the horizon, the more it moves away. It is only the limitations of the eyes that creates the horizon. But there is no such thing as the horizon. Likewise, there is no such thing as selflessness at all. Man has tortured himself for generations with this idea of selflessness, and it has only afforded a living for those who sell the idea of selflessness for a living, like the priests and moralists. I am not condemning you or anyone else, just pointing out the absurdity of what you are doing. When the energy that is spent in the pursuit of something that does not exist, like selflessness, is released, your problem becomes very simple, no matter what it is. You will cease to create problems on the material plane, and that's the only plane there is.
Q: Yes, but what about those who are not searching for some illusory abstraction, but simply happiness?
U.G.: Their search for happiness is no different from the spiritual pursuit. It is the pursuit of pleasure, spirituality being the greatest, ultimate pleasure.
Q: So this pursuit has to go?
U.G.: Don't say it should go. Wanting selfishness to go is part and parcel of the selfish pursuit of a more pleasurable state—selflessness. Both do not exist. That is why you are eternally unhappy. Your search for happiness is making you unhappy. Both the spiritual goal and the search for happiness are the same. Both are essentially selfish, pleasurable pursuits. If that understanding is somehow there in you, then you will not use the energy in that direction at all. You know, I've been everywhere in the world, and have found that people are exactly the same. There is no difference at all. Becoming is the most important thing in the world for everybody—to become something. They all want to become rich, whether materially or spiritually, it is exactly the same. Don't divide it; the so-called spiritual is the materialistic. You may think you are superior because you go to temple and do puja, but the woman there is doing puja in the hope of having a child. She wants something, so she goes to the temple. So do you; it is exactly the same. For sentimental reasons you go, but in time it will become routine and become abhorrent to you. What I am trying to point out is simply this: your spiritual and religious activities are basically selfish. That is all I am pointing out. You go to the temple for the same reason you go other places—you want some result. If you don't want anything there is no reason to go to the temple.
Q: But the great majority of people go to the temple ...
U.G.: Why are you so concerned about what the majority does? This is your problem, and you must solve it for yourself. Don't bother about mankind and all the billions of people in the world.
Q: You are ruthlessly condemning whatever people have said so far. You may, in time, also be condemned and blasted for what you are saying.
U.G.: If you have the guts, I will be the very first to salute you. But you must not rely on your holy books—the Bhagavad Gita or Upanishads. You must challenge what I am saying without the help of your so-called authorities. You just don't have the guts to do that because you are relying upon the Gita, not upon yourself. That is why you will never be able to do it. If you have that courage, you are the only person who can falsify what I am saying. A great sage like Gowdapada can do it, but he is not here. You are merely repeating what Gowdapada and others have said. It is a worthless statement as far as you are concerned. If there were a living Gowdapada sitting here, he would be able to blast what I am saying, but not you. So don't escape into meaningless generalizations. You must have the guts to disprove what I am saying on your own. What I am saying must be false for you. You can only agree or disagree with what I am saying according to what some joker has told you. That is not the way to go about it. I am just pointing out that there are no solutions at all, only problems. If others have said the same thing I am saying, why are you asking questions and searching for solutions here? Forget about the masses; I am talking about you. You are merely looking for new, better methods. I am not going to help you. I am saying, "Don't bother about solutions; try to find out what the problem is." The problem is the solution; solutions just don't solve your problem. Why in the hell are you looking for another solution? Don't come to me for solutions. That is all I am saying. You will make out of what I am saying another solution, to be added to your list of solutions, which are all useless when it comes to actually solving your problems. What I am saying is valid and true for me, that is all. If I suggest anything, directly or indirectly, you will turn it into another method or technique. I would be falsifying myself if I were to make any such suggestion. If anyone says there is a way out, he is not an honest fellow. He is doing it for his own self-aggrandizement, you may be sure. He simply wants to market a product and hopes to convince you that it is superior to other products on the market. If another man comes along and says that there is no way out, you make of that another method. It is all a fruitless attempt to overtake your own shadow. And yet you can't remain where you are. That is the problem. From all this you inevitably draw the conclusion that the situation is hopeless. In reality you are creating that hopelessness because you don't really want to be free from fear, envy, jealousy, and selfishness. That is why you feel your situation to be hopeless. The only hope lies in selfishness, greed, and anger, not in its fictitious opposite, i.e., the practice of selflessness, generosity, and kindness. The problem, say selfishness, is only strengthened by the cultivation of its fictitious opposite, the so-called selflessness. Sitting here discussing these things is meaningless, useless. That is why I am always saying to my listeners, "Get lost, please!" What you want you can get elsewhere, but not here. Go to the temple, do puja, repeat mantras, put on ashes. Eventually some joker comes along and says, "Give me a week's wages and I will give you a better mantra to repeat." Then another fellow comes along and tells you not to do any of that, that it is useless, and that what he is saying is much more revolutionary. He prescribes "choiceless awareness," takes your money and builds schools, organizations, and tantric centers.
Q: Why shouldn't we brush aside what you are saying, just as you brush aside the teachings and efforts of others?
U.G.: You will never blast me; the attachment you have to religious authority prohibits you from questioning anything, much less a man like me. I am certain you will never challenge me. For that reason what I am saying will inevitably create an unstable, neurotic situation for you. You cannot accept what I am saying, and neither are you in any position to reject it. If it wasn't for your very thick skin, you would certainly end up in the loony bin. You simply cannot and will not question what I am saying; it is too much of a threat. Absolutely nothing is going to penetrate your defenses; Gowdapada provides the gloves, the Bhagavad Gita a snug coat jacket, and the Brahmasutra a bullet-proof vest. So you are safe, and that is all you are really interested in. You can't blast what I am saying as long as you are relying upon what someone has said before. Please don't say that there are thousands of seers and sages; there are only a very few. You can count them all on your fingers. The rest are merely technocrats. The saint is a technocrat. That is what most people are. But now with the development of drugs and other techniques, the saint is dispensable. You don't any longer need a priest or saint to instruct you in meditation. If you want to control your thoughts, simply take a drug and forget them, if that is what you want. If you can't sleep, take a sleeping pill. Sleep for a while, then wake up. It is the same. Don't listen to me. It will create an unnecessary disturbance in you. It will only intensify the neurotic situation you are already caught in. Having taken for granted the validity of all this holy stuff, having never questioned, much less broken away from it, you not only have learned how to live with it, but also how to capitalize on it. It is a matter of profiteering, nothing more.
Q: If all this is so, then why do you go on talking?
U.G.: There is no use asking me why I talk. Am I selling or promising you anything? I am not offering you peace of mind, am I? You counter by saying that I am taking away your precious peace of mind. On the contrary, I am singing my own song, just going my own way, and you come along and attempt to disturb my peace.
Q: I feel that if anybody can help us it is you.
U.G.: No sir! Anything I do to help would only add to your misery—that is all. By continuing to listen to me you merely heap one more misery upon those you already have. In that sense this discussion we are having is doing you no good whatever. You don't seem to realize that you are playing with fire here. If you really want moksha here and now, you can have it. You see, you ARE anger, selfishness, and all these things; if they go, you go. There is a physical going—not in the abstract, but actual physical death.
Q:You are saying that that can happen now? Others have said ...
U.G.: I don't give a hoot what others have said. It can happen now. You simply don't want it. You would not touch it with a ten-foot barge pole. If anger and selfishness, which is YOU go, moksha is now, not tomorrow. Your own anger will burn you, not the electric heater. So the religious man has invented selflessness. If that selflessness goes, you go, that is all. So, freeing yourself from any one of these things (i.e., greed, selfishness, etc.,) implies that you, as you know and experience yourself, are coming to an end NOW. Please, in your interest and out of compassion I am telling you, this is not what you want. This is not a thing you can make happen. It is not in your hands at all. It hits whomsoever it chooses. You are out of the picture altogether. All that poetry and romanticism about "dying to all your yesterdays" is not going to help you, or anybody. Nothing can come out of it. They may hold forth on platforms, but they themselves don't want it. It is just words. Eventually people settle for that (viz., temples, mantras, scriptures). It is all too absurd and childish.
Q: Then how can we find out for ourselves and not just repeat the words of the so-called experts?
U.G.: You have to actually touch life at a point where nobody has touched it before. Nobody can teach you that. As long as you continue to repeat what others have said before, you are lost, and nothing good can come of it. Listening to and believing what others have said is not the way to find out for yourself, and there is no other way.
Q: So you are saying that we must get rid of our belief that....
U.G.: Don't bother. You will replace one belief with another. You are nothing but belief, and when it dies, you are dead. What I am trying to tell you is this: don't try to be free from selfishness, greed, anger, envy, desire, and fear. You will only create its opposites, which are, unfortunately, fictitious. If desire dies, you die. The black van comes and carts you away, that's it! Even if you should somehow miraculously survive such a shock, it will be of no use to you, or to others. You prefer to toy with things, asking absurd questions like, "What happens to my body after death? Will the body be strong enough to take it?" What the hell are you talking about? You are asking me what will happen to you if you touch that live electrical wire there. That is the kind of pointless question you are asking. You are not really interested at all. Perhaps after touching this you will be completely burnt and have to be thrown away. Perhaps others will get a shock themselves upon touching you, and you will become an untouchable! Look at what is implied by what I am saying. If you have the courage to touch life for the first time, you will never know what hit you. Everything man has taught, felt, and experienced is gone, and nothing is put in its place. Such a person becomes the living authority by virtue of his freedom from the past, culture, and he will remain so until someone else who has discovered this for himself blasts it. Until you have the courage to blast me, all that I am saying, and all the gurus, you will remain a cultist with photographs, rituals, birthday celebrations, and the like. I am sorry. I sing my song and go.
Q: But we are lost, and so we need gurus, sadhana, and scriptures or guidance.
U.G.: You can go back to your gurus. Do what you like. The thing I am talking about happens to the lucky; if you are lucky, you are lucky. That is all. I have nothing to do with it. It is in no one's hands.
Q: Lucky or unlucky, our tradition tells us that life is transient, that all is in flux, that....
U.G.: That is the tradition of India I am talking about—change, not the tradition you talk about, which is no change. Your whole life is a denial of the reality of change. You only wish to continue, somehow, then revive, only to continue. That is not the great tradition of India I am talking of. You think you are asking a profound question when you ask, "What is death?" You presume to ask Gowdapada's question before you have asked the more fundamental question, "Am I born?" Instead of tackling this basic question on your own, you quote and write commentaries upon Gowdapada, then take the easy way out, and simply equate what I am saying with what he said. That is your cop out. In any event, all you can do is to speculate about death and reincarnation. Only dead people ask about death. Those who are really living would never ask such a question. That memory in you—which is dead—wants to know if it will continue even after what it imagines to be death. That is why it is asking such silly questions. Death is finality; you are dead only once. When once the questions and ideas you have have died, then you will never ask about death again.
Q: You are ripping everything away, and suddenly I see that I have to strike out on my own, that no one can help me.
U.G.: Are you sure that no one can help you? You are not so sure. So your statement doesn't mean anything. You will harbor hope. Even assuming for a moment that an outside force can help you, you are still convinced that you can help yourself. This gives you tremendous hope, and hope is always oriented towards achieving something. So, rather than waste your time asking if there is or is not anyone who can help you achieve what you want, you should rather be asking, "Is there anything to be attained?" Whether you yourself, or someone else, helps you to attain it is not the issue at all. It is, rather, that you are searching. That is obvious. But for what are you searching? You are undoubtedly searching for what you already know. It is impossible to search for something you do not know. You search for, and find, what you know. It is difficult for you to face this simple fact. Please don't get me wrong. I am not asking questions, playing some kind of Socratic guessing game. I am not here to offer you any new methods, new techniques, or suggest any gimmicks to attain your goal. If other systems, techniques, and gimmicks have failed to help you reach your goal, and if you are looking or shopping around for some newer, better methods here, I am afraid I cannot be of any help to you. If you feel that someone else can help you, good luck to you. But I am compelled, through the lessons of my own experience, to add the rider, "You will get nowhere, you will see." The uselessness of turning to inner or outer sources to help you is something of which I am certain. It is clear to me that to find out for yourself you must be absolutely helpless with nowhere to turn. That is all. Unfortunately, this certainty cannot be transmitted to someone else. The certainty I have is simply that the goal, which you have invented, is responsible for your search. As long as the goal is there, so long will the search for it continue. If you say, "I really don't know what I am searching for," that is not true. So, what is it that you are searching for? That is by far the most important question to ask yourself. If you look at it you will see that, aside from your natural physical needs, what you want has arisen from what you have been told, what you have read, and what you yourself have experienced. The physical wants are self-evident and easily understandable. But this particular want—the object of your search—is something born out of your thinking, which in turn is based upon the knowledge you have gathered from various sources.
Q: If all you say is true, we are in a bad way indeed. We are not in a position to accept or reject what you are saying. Why, then, do you go on talking to us? What meaning can it have?
U.G.: This dialogue with you has no meaning at all. You may very well ask why the hell I am talking. I emphatically assure you that, in my case, it is not at all in the nature of self-fulfillment. My motive for talking is quite different from what you think it is. It is not that I am eager to help you understand, or that I feel that I must help you. Not at all. My motive is direct and temporary: you arrive seeking understanding, while I am only interested in making it crystal clear that there is nothing to understand. As long as you want to understand, so long there will be this awkward relationship between two individuals. I am always emphasizing that somehow the truth has to dawn upon you that there is nothing to understand. As long as you think, accept, and believe that there is something to understand, and make that understanding a goal to be placed before you, demanding search and struggle, you are lost and will live in misery. I have only a few things to say and I go on repeating them again and again and again. There are no questions for me, other than the practical questions for everyday functioning in this world. You, however, have many, many questions. These questions all have the same source: your knowledge. It is simply not in the nature of things that you can have a question without knowing the answer already. So meaningful dialogue is simply not possible when you are asking questions to yourself and to me, because you have already made up your mind, you already possess the answers. So communication between us is impossible; what is the point of carrying on any dialogue? There is the actual need to be free from answers themselves. The search is invalid because it is based upon questions which in turn are based upon false knowledge. Your knowledge has not freed you from your problems. Your dilemma is that you are searching for answers to questions you already know the answer to. This is making you neurotic. If the questions you have were actually solvable, it, the question, would blow itself up. Because all questions are merely variations on the same question, the annihilation of one means the annihilation of all. So freedom exists not in finding answers, but in the dissolution of all questions. This sort of problem-solving you are not, unfortunately, the least interested in. What others and you yourself think are the answers cannot help you at all. It is really very simple: if the answer is correct, the question disappears. I have no questions of any kind. They never enter my head. All my questions, which resolved themselves into one great question, have disappeared entirely. The questioner simply realized that it was meaningless to go on asking questions, the answers to which I already knew. You have foolishly created this search as an answer to your questions, which in turn have been invented out of the knowledge you have gathered. The questions you are formulating are born out of answers you already have. So what is your goal? You must be very clear about it; otherwise there is no point in proceeding. It becomes a game, a meaningless ritual. What do you want to get? There is always somebody to help you get what you want, for a price. You have foolishly divided life into higher and lower goals, into material and spiritual paths. In either case great struggle, pain, and effort is involved. I say, on the other hand, that there are no spiritual goals at all; they are simply the extension of material goals into what you imagine to be a higher, loftier plane. You mistakenly believe that by pursuing the spiritual goal you will somehow miraculously make your material goals simple and manageable. Such pursuits are in actuality not possible. You may think that only inferior persons pursue material goals, that material achievements are boring. But in fact the so-called spiritual goals you have put before yourself are exactly the same. You are your search, and it will not help to think that you have understood and are free of this. If you don't come here, you will go elsewhere in search of answers.
Q: Discovering the reality you are talking about demands real relationship and open communication with others, does it not?
U.G.: Forget it, sir! Dialogue has no meaning. Neither has conversation any meaning. What the hell are we doing? Do you think that I talk with people as an excuse of some kind? Do you think that I harbor any illusions about communicating with you? I have no such illusions. The very fact that you have returned here again to talk and discuss shows that you have not heard a thing I am saying. Once that understanding is there, the whole thing is finished for you once and for all. You will not visit any gurus, read any books on this, or listen to anybody. You will not stupidly repeat what others have said, especially what the holy men, saints, and saviors have said. All that is washed out of the system and you are left incapable of following or listening to anyone, not even a God walking the face of the earth, or even a million gods rolled into one. What good is it, after all, when somebody has a billion dollars and you are wondering where your next meal will come from? Anyway, that's not the point. The important thing is: what do you want? Please let us forget about your bhagavans. Don't sit here and repeat what you have heard from your gurus, it is useless. When once you place your hope, belief, and confidence in your guru, you are stuck with him.
Q: Virtually all the gurus, at least the Eastern ones, have stressed the necessity of being free from one's conditioning, one's past.
U.G.: The past will always be there as long as you want something. Even if you attempt to suppress your wants, the past has to come to your help and tell you HOW to suppress your wants. There is no such differentiation of wants; they are all exactly the same. In the Indian culture the spiritual wants are extolled and sought after, while in the West the material wants prevail. When wanting ceases, even for a moment, thought is absent and you are left with the simple matter of taking care of the bodily wants—food, clothes and shelter. To practice some sort of twisted self-denial in which you fail to see to the body's actual physical needs is a silly, perverted way of living.
Q: But the key question remains: how is one not to want?
U.G.: Again you ask "how", thus avoiding the issue. There is no "how" at all. "How" is the trickiest question, for in asking it you are doomed. "How to live?" That is one question that has been bothering people for centuries. Religions claim to give a satisfactory answer to this question. Every teacher claims he knows how. He will be pleased to show you how, for a fee of course. "How to live one's life?" That is the one question which has transformed itself into millions of questions. That is all.
Q: Brushing aside the question of how to be free from constant wanting, it seems obvious from what you have said that one must be free first from the influence of the past, or one's memory. Is this not so?
U.G.: If you go on trying to suppress the past, trying to live in what you call "the present", you will drive yourself crazy. You are trying to control something over which you have no control. It is just not possible to control thought without becoming neurotic, for it is not just your personal, petty little past that is in the way, but the entire past of mankind, the entire memory of every human being, every form of life, and every form of existence. It is not such a simple, easy thing to do. If you try to control the natural flow of the river through all these artificial means—building a dam so to speak—you will inundate and destroy the whole thing. That is why you find thoughts welling up inside you despite your efforts to control, observe, and be aware of them. Once this is understood, then you are never concerned whether thoughts are there or not. When there is an actual need for thought to function, it is there; when there is no need for thought to function, it is not there. You don't even know, and have no way of finding out, whether you are thinking or not. Your constant utilization of thought to give continuity to your separative self is you. There is nothing there inside you other than that. What you call the "you" is nothing other than the continuity of thought. If that artificial continuity is not there, neither are you. The "you" wants only to function on a different, "higher" level, and not to come to an end. You want to be transformed, to become something else, while continuing. The only way the self can do that is to add more and more experiences to those it has already accumulated.
Q: How does this process of accumulation work?
U.G.: The only way the self can add more and more knowledge and experience is to endlessly ask itself the meaningless question "How? How am I to live?" If someone tells you that the continuity of knowledge and experience must come to an end, you ask, "How?", and are right back in the same trap. You are merely asking for the same kind of knowledge.
Q: But we just want to know about enlightenment, if is possible ...
U.G.: You want to know whether there is enlightenment or not, who has it, and how to get it. You are curious about how a supposedly enlightened man would behave, what is the nature of his behavior patterns, and so on. Apparently you know a great deal about enlightenment You must, for you are searching for it.
Q: Not all of us are so naive as to think we can directly search for God, enlightenment, or nirvana. So we can accept the illusory nature of such goals. But we are searching for more practical, tangible things like....
U.G.: People are looking for enlightenment. You say you are not, but it is the same. Whether you want a new car or simple peace of mind, it is still a painful search. The secular leaders tell you one way, the holy men another way. It makes no difference: as long as you are searching for peace of mind, you will have a tormented mind. If you try not to search, or if you continue to search, you will remain the same. You have to stop. You don't stop searching because such an act would be the end of you.
You are lost in a jungle, and you have no way of finding your way out. Night is fast approaching, the wild animals are there, including the cobras, and still you are lost. What do you do in such a situation? You just stop. You don't move....
Q: But we can never be absolutely sure that there is not some way out, no matter how fantastic or improbable it may be ...
U.G.: As long as there is that hope that you can somehow or the other get out of the jungle, so long will you continue what you are doing—searching—and so long you feel lost. You are lost only because you are searching. You have no way of finding your way out of the jungle.
Q: So if one could just stop....
U.G.: No, that's not it at all. You still expect something to happen. That expectation is part of the problem. That is why you are pursuing these questions. Your expectations are part of your desire to change everything. Nothing needs changing; you must accept life as it is. Through "change" you hope and expect to be born again. What the hell for? This life is enough. There is no peace in this life, no lack of unhappiness, so you wait until your next life to be happy. It's not worth it. You may very well not be born again. After all, it is only a hopeful theory to you. You may as well find out for yourself if it is possible to be at peace with yourself now.
Q: But all our aspirations, whether material or spiritual, seem to be defined and cast in the mold of our societies, which are, like each of us, corrupt. Yet I must live and struggle within the limits my society has erected around me. My life is not determined solely by my personal aims and attributes, but by what my society allows me to do, that is, by what actual opportunities are made available.
U.G.: You want so many things, and I am not in a position to help you get any of them. You are not clear what you really want. When that which you want is fully recognized, then you must find out how to get what you want. And either you get it or you don't, that's all. So don't bother separating your goals into the low and the lofty. You have been doing that all your life and have not succeeded.
Q: Not just I, but everyone I know seems caught in this trap of endless searching and struggle. We need, do we not, to sit down together and communicate with each other on this ...?
U.G.: As I said, I have no illusions about communication. You cannot share or communicate your experiences with anybody, because, the way you are now functioning, each individual lives in separate and different worlds without any common reference point, and only imagines that you ever communicate with another. It is just not possible. I cannot communicate and you cannot understand because you have no reference point in regard to what I am saying. When once you have understood that there is nothing to understand, what is there to communicate? Communication is just not necessary. So there is no point in discussing the possibility of communication. Your desire to communicate is part of your general strategy of achievement. Veiled behind that desire for communication is the dependency upon some outside power to solve your problems for you. Except for the quite natural need for practical communication necessary to function in this world, your interest in communication is really an expression of your feelings of helplessness and your hope for the support of some outside agency. Your helplessness persists because of your dependency upon some outside agency. When that dependency upon some outside agency, fictitious or not, is not there, then the feelings of helplessness and the desire to communicate in the abstract, are not there. If the one goes, the other must go also. Your situation and prospects only seem hopeless because you have ideas of hope. Knock off that hope and the crippling feelings of helplessness go with it. There is bound to be helplessness and overwhelming frustration as long as you exist in relationship with the hope for fulfillment, because there is no fulfillment at all. This is the source of your dilemma.
Q: All this is just too much to comprehend and act upon immediately. Perhaps at some time in the future, when I am more able....
U.G.: The future is created by hope, that is the only future that exists. The hope of achieving your goal, the hope of attaining enlightenment, the hope of somehow getting off the merry-go-round—that is the future. The point from which you project yourself into the future appears to you to be the present, the now. But this is mistaken. There is only the past in operation, and that movement creates the illusion of present and future. You may find what I am saying here logical, or illogical, and you may accept or reject it. But it will in any case be the past that is doing so, for that is all that is in operation within you. It is the past that has projected these goals—God, enlightenment, peace of mind, whatever—and has placed them in the future, out of reach. So happiness is always in the future, tomorrow. A happy man wouldn't be interested in seeking happiness. A well-fed man is not in search of food.
Q: Surely real understanding, of which we are all more or less capable, takes place not in the future, but now, in the present.
U.G.: There is only the past. You have been told by holy men who talk of enlightenment and such nonsense that the past has got to come to a stop before you are free to operate in the "present" and so realize your potential or future possibilities. This I deny. First of all, why should you be interested in attempting to stop the past from interfering with the present? Be very clear that this idea that the past must die, that time must have an end, has been put into you by those self-appointed guardians of your so-called soul—the priests, holy men, and saviors of mankind. It is not yours at all. You need to be very clear also about the implications of ending the influence of the past. It is really a dangerous, calamitous thing. In your search to find the end of time, the past, you must use the past. So you only succeed in perpetuating the past. This is a fact, like it or not. Anything you do—having kinder thoughts, behaving selflessly, approaching life negatively rather than positively, listening to holy men, listening to me—is only adding momentum to the past. All the techniques and methods of achievement at your disposal are from the past, and, therefore, useless. Luckily, there is absolutely nothing to be achieved.
Q: Yes, but I think most of us realize that real happiness is a by-product of something else, and cannot be achieved in and of itself.
U.G.: Your actual approach to happiness is grounded in self-interest and naivete. You are a pleasure seeker at all times, and therefore your ideal of the greatest happiness is simply one of endless pleasure without any pain. When you perceive, if you do at all, the absurdity of such an approach, you then say, "If I could find God and enlightenment I would be free from the contradictory desire to have the one (pleasure) without the other (pain)." So this then becomes your goal, which will take more time to achieve. You are back where you started. To demand the cessation of the continuity of the movement of the past is ridiculous and unfounded. We have been brainwashed by all these people that if we free ourselves from the past in this life, everything will be hunky-dory, full of lightness and sweetness. It is all romantic hogwash, sheer unadulterated fantasy, and nothing more. You have fallen for this stuff, unfortunately. After all, what is it that you can do? All your actions are from the past. And anything you do only strengthens the hold of pleasure and pain upon you. Ultimately it is all pain and no pleasure. I can say that with certainty, but you are still cock-sure that there is a timeless state, a way out. It is therefore impossible for us to communicate. What I am saying will, if really listened to, put an end to you as you know and experience yourself. You are not listening to me at all. Your so-called listening is all in the past. The constant interpretation by the past of what is being said prevents you from listening to what is being said. All I can guarantee you is that as long as you are searching for happiness, you will remain unhappy. This is a fact. Society is so organized and complex that you have no other way of surviving except to accept the way of life around you as organized, along with the limitations it places upon all of us. We must all accept the reality of society, whether we like it or not. But this is not what we are talking about. What we are talking about is altogether different. All your relationships, knowledge, and experiences, all your emotions and feelings, all that romantic stuff, belongs entirely to society, not to you. You are not an individual at all; you are secondhand people. Only when you are free from what every man and woman has thought and felt before you will you become an individual. Such an individual will not go around attempting to destroy everything that belongs to society. He is not in conflict with society at all. He would never tear down the temples and institutions or burn books that men have made with great care. He would not be a rebel. All the accumulated knowledge, experience, and suffering of mankind is inside of you. You must build a huge bonfire within you. Then you will become an individual. There is no other way. Society is built on a foundation of conflict, and you are society. Therefore you must always be in conflict with society. The real individual, one who is free of the accumulated tradition and knowledge of mankind, is necessarily a threat to that society. Society, of which you are a part, cannot be other than it is. So stop trying to save it or change it. You cannot even change your mother-in-law.
Q: Not all of us are so obsessed with our own personal happiness and salvation. Many of us are socially, politically aware, and merely wish to create a new world, a differently organized society, so that poverty, injustice, and other social wrongs are corrected. You talk as if we all were fixated on only our own personal problems and goals, while in fact most of us want to be of service to the world and seek not selfish ends, but simply a better, more humane society.
U.G.: You want to change yourself into something and at the same time find you cannot change at all. This "change" you talk of is really just more romantic fancy stuff for you. You never change, only think about changing. As long as you want to change, for some reason or the other, so long will you insist upon changing the whole world. You want a different world so that you can be happy in it. That is your only interest. You can talk of mankind, concern for mankind, compassion for mankind, but it is all bullshit, horseshit ... Since you are determined to bring about change—a notion put into you by your culture—you remain discontent and want the world to be different. When your inner demand to be something different from what in fact you are comes to an end, then the neurotic demand to change your society ceases. Then you cannot be in conflict with society. You are in perfect harmony with society, including its brutalities and miseries. All your attempts to change this brutal society only add momentum to it. This is not to say that the free individual is indifferent to society. On the contrary. In any case, it is you who are indifferent right now. You only talk and whine, meanwhile doing nothing. Sorry....
Q: But it is very urgent that we have peace in the world ...
U.G.: Unless you are at peace with yourself, there cannot be peace around the world. When are you going to be at peace yourself? Next life? No chance. Wait, you will see. Even then there is no guarantee that your society will be peaceful. They will not be at peace. When you are at peace with yourself, that is the end of the story.
Q: It seems that we have only this idea of a peaceful society, while actually our relationship to others is quite violent. How do we bridge this gap between the ideal and the actual?
U.G.: You are trying to establish relationships with people around you, with society, with the whole world. For some reason or other the actual relationships are very ugly and horrible. Have you noticed that as long as our relationships satisfy the question, "What can I get out of this relationship?", as long as they can be directed to serve my personal happiness, there is no conflict? Every person is in the same situation: his relationships are harmonious as long as they serve his own ideas of happiness. And we also demand that our happiness be permanent. In the very nature of things this is impossible. There is no such thing as permanence at all. Everything is constantly changing. Everything is in flux. Because you cannot face the impermanence of all relationships, you invent sentiments, romance, and dramatic emotions to give them continuity. Therefore you are always in conflict.
Q: So perhaps we should abandon the search for perfect, harmonious relationships and concentrate on understanding ourselves—is that it?
U.G.: Understanding yourself is one of the greatest jokes, perpetrated on the gullible and credulous people everywhere, not only by the purveyors of ancient wisdom—the holy men—but also by the modern scientists. The psychologists love to talk about self-knowledge, self-actualization, living from moment to moment, and such rot. These absurd ideas are thrown at us as if they are something new.
Q: This must be boring for you, responding to the same old questions wherever you go.
U.G.: I have been everywhere in the world, meeting and talking with people. People are exactly the same the world over. The questions never vary. But I am never bored with it. How can I be bored? If I were some sort of fool getting some sort of kick out of this, looking for new, better and different questions, then there would be a possibility of getting bored. But I am not looking for anything So boredom is impossible. Are you bored? You have no way of finding out for yourself.
Q: I am bored because I am average, like everyone else. It is my mediocrity that makes life seem so empty and boring ...
U.G.: It is very difficult to be like the other fellow, to be ordinary. Mediocrity takes a great deal of energy. But to be ourselves is very easy. You don't have to do a thing. No effort is necessary. You don't have to exercise your will. You need not do a thing to be yourself. But to be something other than what you are, you have to do a lot of things. The boredom and restlessness you feel inside you is there only because you think you must be doing something more interesting, more meaningful, and more valuable than what you are already doing. You think that the way you are carrying on is terrible boring, and that there must be something more valuable, powerful, and exciting to do. So all this becomes part of the complex knowledge you have about yourself. The more you know about yourself the more impossible it becomes to be humble and sensitive. How can there be humility as long as you know something?
Q: There is something in me that finds it difficult to be simple about all this. There seems to be a fear of....
U.G.: All fears lead eventually to the fear of death, physical death. You are attempting to push the fear of death way into the background so you can continue, that is all. As long as you are fear-ridden, there can be no sense in discussing the meaning of life. Why ask questions and mystify life? You are alive because your parents had sex, period. Don't look for a meaning to life. There may not be any meaning at all. It may have its own meaning that you can never know. Obviously life has no meaning for you. Otherwise you would not be here asking these questions. Everything you do seems absolutely meaningless, that is the fact, Don't bother about others. The whole world is an extension of you. The way you are thinking, feeling, and experiencing is exactly the same way everyone else in this world is thinking, feeling, and experiencing. The goal may be different, but the mechanism and instrument you are using to achieve your particular goal is not a whit different from that used by others to achieve theirs. Why should there be any meaning in living? The moment a baby arrives in the world it is interested in one thing: survival. The instinct in the baby to feed itself, to survive, and to reproduce itself seems to be the way of life. It is life expressing itself. That is all. You needn't impose a meaning upon it.
Q: Living itself does not seem to be enough. We have aspirations and goals, and we feel that there must be a more sane and meaningful way of living.
U.G.: Instead of living, you are obsessed with the question, "How am I to live?" That dilemma is put into us by our culture, and is the one responsible for many of our problems. Because you are dead, not living what we call life, you are concerned with HOW to live. If you succeed in getting rid of the idea of somehow living a better, nobler, and more meaningful life, you will replace that belief with another. You must face the fact that you know nothing about life or the living of it.
Q: In spite of the fact that we are not living, we are terrified of death.
U.G.: The body responds to life around it: the pulse of the heart, the various physiological processes, the throb of life all indicate the presence of life. When these processes stop, then what you call clinical death takes place. Next we observe the body breaking down into its constituent elements, in turn assuming new and different life forms. But this continuity of life in new forms is little consolation to you, for you want to continue in your present form, warts and all. If you bury the body, the worms have a field day. If you throw it into the water, the fish will have a feast. That life will continue no matter what. But you will not be there to experience death. There is only death in the clinical sense.
Q: If I am not really living, if I cannot know death, if I really don't give a damn about society, if my life is actually meaningless, if my hard-won self-knowledge is just an expression of ignorance, then what I take to be reality is a projection of my own mind ...
U.G.: Where is this mind you talk of? Can you show it to me? There is no such thing as your mind and my mind. Mind is everywhere, sort of like the air we breathe. There is a thought sphere. It is not ours and not mine. It is always there. Your brain acts like an antenna, picking and choosing what signals it wants to use. That is all. You use the signals for purposes of communication. First of all, we have to communicate with ourselves. We begin as children naming everything over and over again. Communicating with others is a little more complex and comes next. The problem, or the pathology if you will, arises when you constantly communicate with yourself, irrespective of any outside demand for thought. You are all the time communicating with yourself: "I am happy....I am not happy....What is the meaning of life?..." and so on. If that incessant communication within yourself is not there, you are not there as you now know and experience yourself. When that inner monologue is no longer there, the need to communicate with others is absent. So you communicate with others only to maintain that communication you are having with yourself, your inner monologue. This kind of communication is possible only when you rely and draw upon the vast totality of thoughts passed on by man from generation to generation. Man has through the process of evolution learned to draw from this storehouse quicker, subtler, and more refined thoughts than the rest of the animals. They have powerful instincts. Through thinking man has enabled himself to survive more efficiently than the other species. This ability of thought to adapt is the curse of man.
Q: Whether you lay it at the door of society, the genes, evolution or the influence of the stars, it comes down to the same thing: we are all deeply conditioned and need to be free of that conditioning in order to function naturally and freely. This is obvious, isn't it?
U.G.: It is not at all obvious to me. It is just not possible for you to be without conditioning. No matter what you do, you are conditioned. The "unconditioning" that the spiritual gurus are talking about is a bogus affair. The notion of being unconditioned, of unconditioning oneself, is just another item for sale in the marketplace of the holy business. It has no validity. You will find out. Anything you do is conditioned. Unconditioning yourself has no meaning. What you have to be free from is the very desire to be free from conditioning. Conditioning is intelligence, the ability to respond adequately to the environment. This is entirely unrelated to your fantasies, ideations, and mentations, what you take to be the heights of intelligence.
Q: If inquiry, self-knowledge, and unconditioning don't help to solve my basic dilemma, then perhaps science can help through life-extension techniques or genetic engineering ... U.G.: Even genetic engineering that the scientists are indulging in is not for the benefit of mankind. If they succeed, it will be handed over to the state. The state will use it to control everything and everyone. Brainwashing, which takes centuries, would be obsolete. Through a simple injection of genetically engineered substances into the body, the state can turn its citizens into bloodthirsty soldiers, mindless bureaucrats, or whatever type it wants.
Q: Perhaps we are complicating it. Could it be that we are all just too shallow in thought, that we only lack sufficient vision and mental scope?
U.G.: Forget it. In any event your actions must be destructive of man's ultimate interests, for they are born out of thought, which is a dead thing. Forcing life to fit your dead ideas and assumptions is your basic difficulty. Everything you stand for, believe in, experience, and aspire to is the result of thought. And thought is destructive because it is nothing more than a protective mechanism, programmed to protect its own interests at all costs. Anyhow, are there really thoughts? Are you thinking now? You have no way of knowing.
Q: But it is a superhuman task to fully understand though, is it not? All religions and important philosophies have put before us a more or less superhuman figure who has somehow transcended the relative world—the world of thought if you will—and attained great heights. But we are ordinary men not capable of colossal, fearless, or intrepid actions.
U.G.: If you are freed from the goal of the `perfect', `godly', or `truly religious' supermen, then that which is natural in man begins to express itself. Your religious and secular culture has placed before you the ideal man or woman, the perfect human being, and then tries to fit everybody into that mold. It is impossible. Nature is busy creating absolutely unique individuals, whereas culture has invented a single mould to which all must conform. It is grotesque.
Q: So you are not a perfect man as some claim?
U.G.: I wish I knew, but I don't want to bother. Who cares? I have no way of finding out, and if I did, it would be a tragedy for the world. They would make of me a model and attempt to live a certain way, creating a disaster for mankind. We have enough gurus, why add one more?
Q: If you are not a teacher, a guru of some sort, then why do you talk to us? It appears to us that you are giving some kind of instruction, that you are expressing a teaching that can be of use to mankind.
U.G.: I am just singing my song, then I go. If someone listens to me or not, it is not my concern. I don't consider any hypothetical situation. If nobody comes and talks, it is all right with me. Believe me, my talking is only incidental, it is not aimed at liberating anyone. I've been coming to this area for thirty years. If you are not here, maybe I'll watch the TV, or read crime fiction—it's all the same for me. I am not selling anything. This is so. I am simply pointing out that at the rate at which we are going the whole genetic engineering technology will end up in the hands of the political system to be used for the complete control and subjugation of man.
Q: If this danger is really so imminent, then it is urgent that others "stumble" into their natural state, as you indicate happened to you, if for no other reason than to prove the existence of an alternative to genetic totalitarianism. Would you go along with this?
U.G.: No. This natural state cannot be used to further anyone's crusade. Nor am I interested in setting myself up as an archetype or prophet for mankind. I am not interested in satisfying the curiosity of anybody. The scientists are making tremendous progress in the fields of microbiology and glandular and brain physiology. They will soon have enough sophistication in these areas to understand the physiological mutation that took place within me. I personally cannot make any definite statement except to say that the whole mechanism is an automatic thing. The interference of thought is not there anymore. Thought is functional in value, nothing more. It operates temporarily here when there is a demand from the environment, but cannot act with regard to becoming something or to changing things there. This is all. That is energy, an energy that can make functioning in this world sanely and intelligently an easy affair. Now you are wasting that energy by attempting to be something other than what you in fact are. Then you will have a certainty which cannot be transmitted by me or by anybody. I have discovered for myself and by myself, that what we have been told about freedom, enlightenment, and God is false. No power in the world can touch this. This does not make me superior. Nothing of the sort. To feel superior or inferior you must separate yourself from the world. I do not look upon the world as a separate thing as you do. The knowledge I have bout the world—whether within or without—comes into operation only when there is a demand for it. Otherwise I simply don't know. Your natural state is one of not knowing.
Q: You make no special claims for yourself. Yet your listeners, including myself, sense a certainty and authority in what you say. Does not this indicate that you are in fact a free man?
U.G.: The knowledge that you are this, that you are that, that you are happy, that you are unhappy, that you are a realized man, that you are not a realized man, is completely absent here. You, or I, have no way of knowing if we are free men. Nothing tells me that I am a free man. In your case the naming process, the wanting something, the questioning goes on and on no matter what. Here thought functions only from a stimulus from the outside. Even then the response of knowledge is instantaneous, and I am back again like a big question mark. Your constant demand to experience the same thing over and over again results in compulsive, repetitive thinking. I don't see any need or reason for the repetitive process to go on and on. In my case there is no one separate from this functioning, no one who can step back and say, "This is reality." There is no such thing as reality at all. Reality is imposed upon us by culture, society, and education. Don't get me wrong. Thought has a functional value. If we don't accept the world as it is imposed on us, we will end up in the loony bin. I have to accept it as a relative fact. Otherwise there is no way of experiencing the reality of anything. It is thought that has created the reality of your body, of your living, of your sleep, and of all your perceptions. You experience this reality through knowledge. Otherwise there is no way of your knowing for yourself that you have a body, that you are alive, that you are awake. All that is knowledge. The reality of anything is something which cannot be experienced by anybody.
Q: We have found this talk most interesting. Thank you very much.
U.G.: Thank you.
- Bhagavad Gita: One of the major scriptures of Hinduism. Officially part of the epic Mahabharata. Teaches different paths to union with God (or liberation) including "disinterested action".
- Gowdapada: (c.780 A.D.) The philosopher who revived the monistic teaching of the Upanishads. His pupil Govinda is the teacher of Samkara, the famous Advaita (non-dualist) philosopher. He is the author of Mandukya-karika, a commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad.
- Brahmasutra: A central scripture of the Vedanta religion.