The Long, the Short and the All
Chapter 1 - Knowledge and understanding
YOU ASK WHAT MY MESSAGE IS? It is a brief one indeed: those who are awake are alive; those who are asleep miss everything.
NO MAN IS GIVEN MANHOOD READY-MADE. He has to build it by himself. This is both a blessing and a bane. It is a blessing because there is always the possibility he will die without ever having become a man.
MAN DOES NOT BECOME GOD BY DEVELOPING HIMSELF. If he were able to open himself fully, he would know he is already God himself, here and now. As I see it, the complete revelation of the self is the only development there is.
IT IS NO EXAGGERATION TO SAY THAT WE HAVE FORGOTTEN OURSELVES. Have we not forgotten our own births? Then what else can one say about a life that rests on a foundation of self-forgetfulness? Isn't such a life really just a dream?
What, if any, is the difference between dreaming and being awake? In a dream the dreamer is completely forgotten. The dream overwhelms him, it happens right in front of him, but he is not present in the dream. In fact, his absence itself is his sleep because the moment he is present he is neither asleep nor dreaming.
Then what shall we call this so-called life of ours? It is certainly not wakefulness because we cannot remember our selves. So is it a dream too? Yes, my friend, this too is a dream. As long as there is insensibility towards the self, like is but an empty dream.
GURDJIEFF HAS SAID THAT MAN IS A MACHINE. In all his activities man is nothing but a passive participant. His actions are unconscious, unaware. They are really reactions. A mans may love, hate and feel anger, but these are simply expressions of unconscious and mechanical forces at work within him. He is really only an agent through which nature works. He has no conscious vitality of his own. What we can call real life only begins when a man rises above this mechanical state of existence.
A young man came to see me yesterday. He asked, "How shall I conduct my life so I will never have cause to repent anything in the future?"
I replied, "There is only one answer to your question -- discover real life. What you know as life is not life at all."
For one who has not yet attained to life the question of using it correctly has no meaning whatsoever. Not attaining real life is to misuse life: attaining it is to use it correctly. The absence of real life causes the need for repentance; living an authentic life results in bliss. What can a man accomplish when his real life is still dormant within him?
A man who is asleep is not one, but many. He is a crowd. Mahavira has said that man has many minds. It is true. Not one, but many individuals exist inside us. And a crowd cannot decide anything. A crowd cannot make a judgment; a crowd cannot determine anything. To accomplish anything at all it is imperative the soul in each one of us becomes activated, becomes awakened. We must become one, instead of the disorderly crowd we are at present. We must become conscious of our own individuality. Only then will reactions be replaced by actions. Jung has termed this the individual's attainment of his center.
When a man is asleep, unawakened, all of his efforts are futile. There is no sense of direction in such a man. What one part of him creates, another destroys. It is like yoking bullocks to the four sides of a cart, putting the reins into the hands of a sleeping driver and still hoping to get somewhere. The life of the ordinary man is just like this. He thinks he is getting somewhere but he is not really moving at all. Such a man achieves nothing: he simply exhausts his energies.
Mankind must realize that what it has mistaken for life is nothing but a slow form of suicide. Death begins with birth. Death is part of the process of birth; it is not something that happens accidentally. Birth and death are the two poles of life. But there is a greater life, beyond birth, and we must either attain to it or perish.
It must be remembered that whatever occurs at the end of some event was also present in the beginning. The end is simply the beginning in its manifest form. And if like has two poles, then it follows it also has two directions -- the possibility of life and the possibility of death. Stagnancy is death; consciousness is life. And man is a combination of these two things. He may be a machine, but there is an element in him that is able to comprehend this fact about himself. If he pursues this understanding he attains to life.
The existence of my consciousness gives me the knowledge that I am. And it is this realization itself that lights the path of existence, that illumines the path to life. The ray of light may be dim, it may be obscure, but still it is visible. And its existence is tremendously significant. That faint ray of light in the darkness is a sign, an indication that there is a possibility of reaching light. That ray of light gives me hope that the sun exists. Cannot the sun be known by a sunbeam? That ray of awareness in man points the way to his enlightenment. This slight indication of consciousness is man's greatest possibility, his greatest asset. Nothing more valuable than that exists in him. If he follows it, he can reach the self, his soul; if he pursues it he can reach existence. This is the way to life, to the greater life, to God.
Man only has two options; there is no third direction open to him. From this initial spark of consciousness he can move forward to enlightenment or he can regress into a coma. The mechanical and repetitive circle of ordinary life does not automatically proceed towards the peak, towards enlightenment. It is an eternal law that without effort one falls back. Death comes without being invited, but life waits for an invitation.
This ray of knowledge exists in everyone, and one can only move ahead by its light. As a man begins to move inward the dimensions of knowledge begin to unfold before him and he begins to rise above his stagnant, dormant state. And as he becomes more and more familiar with his newfound, growing consciousness, something solid and deep within him begins to take shape, begins to crystallize. It is this process that leads to the individuality worthy of the name man.
IT IS TRUE THAT MAN IS NOT AN ANIMAL, but is it correct to say that man has become man? His being an animal may be a past event, but his becoming a man is still a future possibility. We seem to be somewhere in the middle. This is our only affliction, our only tension, our only distress.
Only those who are dissatisfied with their miserable existences and make an effort to do something about them can become men. Manhood is not acquired automatically, you have to give birth to it within yourself. But to become a man you have to realize that simply not being an animal doesn't necessarily make you a man. You cannot be satisfied with what you are. Only a deep and fervent dissatisfaction with yourself will become your evolution.
RELIGIOUS LEADERS make much of the teaching "Know thyself". But where does this "self" exist? Isn't one's self just the shadow of the universal self? So why should I say to you "Know thyself"? I simply repeat over and over -- know, know, know! Know what is!
IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE IF NO ONE RECOGNIZES ME in the darkness that envelops the path of life but just think of the terrible consequence if I fail to know myself. Many people are not as keen to know themselves as they are to be known by others. That is why life is becoming shrouded deeper and deeper in darkness. How can you shed light around you if you don't know yourself at all?
The prayer of a man of knowledge is, "I will accept death readily -- unknown to the world, unrecognized by my fellow men and uncrowned with success -- but at least let me know myself."
That single ray of light is enough to lead a man to God. The light of a single man who has the knowledge of the self is more valuable than the light of a million suns.
YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW TO REALIZE THE SELF? First of all, come to know the non-self. Know what is not the self and understand it completely. Finally, nothing will remain; eventually, everything that is not the self will disappear. That is the self. That emptiness is the self. Only emptiness is really full.
WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED CONSCIOUSNESS? The mind is not consciousness. When the movement of the mind has totally ceased there is another stirring -- and this I call consciousness. Only when the mind becomes empty does consciousness manifest itself. The mind is the instrument, the medium. When it becomes involved with the activities of the ego it ceases to be a medium of consciousness because it is otherwise engaged. To become acquainted with consciousness is to bid farewell to the machinations of the mind.
The mind is like a servant who has usurped his master's place in the master's absence. Will such a servant ever desire the master's return? He will never be able to welcome the returning master with sincerity. He will put up every possible obstacle he can to delay the master's return. And the most basic obstruction will be his contention that he himself is the master and no one else. He will simply deny that any other master exists.
Generally the mind does exactly the same thing. This is how it becomes a barrier; this is how it hinders the advent of consciousness.
If you wish to move towards consciousness learn to let your mind relax. Allow it to remain free of activity; allow it to be empty; allow it to disengage itself from its involvements.
The cessation of the activity of the mind marks the first stirring of consciousness. And the death of the mind heralds the birth of consciousness.
IT IS CERTAINLY VERY DIFFICULT to conquer one's self, but it is impossible to conquer anything but the self. And remember, the man who conquers the self can easily achieve victory over everything else in life as well. In life there is only one conquest and only one defeat. The defeat is of the self, by the self; the conquest too is of the self, by the self.
THE GREATEST FREEDOM is the freedom of one's self from oneself. We usually remain unaware of the fact that we are our own tightest chains and the heaviest burdens on our own shoulders.
KNOWLEDGE SAYS "I AND EMPTINESS" and in that emptiness it becomes God himself. Ignorance says "I am everything: I am God" and in this fantasy of being God it remains empty. What knowledge realized, ignorance deludes itself into thinking it has realized. What knowledge knows, ignorance can only admit to, can only accept. What ignorance proclaims, it never becomes.
TO KNOW EXISTENCE, you have to transform the self into a mirror. The shadows of your thoughts distort your mind. But as thoughts subside and the mind becomes empty the mirror that is capable of reflecting the truth is suddenly there.
NOTHING IS SIMPLER THAN GREATNESS. Simplicity itself is greatness.
TO REALIZE EXISTENCE one has to come face-to-face with non-existence first. Only when a man is encompassed by non-existence does he realize that existence can be known, can be recognized, can be loved. Only when a man is surrounded by the vast ocean of non-existence can he have the intense experience of existence itself. For the very same reason, those who thirst for the fullness of truth must first move into the realm of the void, into inner emptiness.
I am reminded of something that happened one evening. I was in a remote village and as evening approached a clay lamp was lit in the hut where I was staying. Since darkness had not yet settled in, at first it appeared as if the flame of the lamp were hardly flickering at all. Had the lamp had any consciousness it would have seen at once that it really had not light of its own at all. And had the mid-day sun been blazing down the lamp would not even have known it was burning. But as darkness approached the lamp gradually began to spread its brilliance about the room, and as the darkness thickened the light grew brighter and brighter. As the moon came up, I continued to observe the growing life, the burgeoning vitality in the flame of the lamp. If the lamp knew itself now it would have believed it was no less than the sun.
This little incident sparked a thought in me. The flame and the lamp hadn't changed at all; the change had been in the darkness. As the background of darkness grew in intensity, the brilliance of the lamp manifested itself more and more clearly. The darkness was a friend to the lamp: the darkness had helped it assert itself completely.
This is also true of the self.
When the self is enveloped by existence it is not apparent at all, but when the mind becomes completely empty the full glory of the self shines forth. It is only through the door of non-existence, through the gateway of emptiness, that one can gain access to existence, to life itself.
A SET OF ETHICS CANNOT BE RELIGION, but religion is certainly ethical. A moral code is nothing more than an outline, a set of rules to be imitated, to be practiced. It is a disciplinary measure imposed from outside. This is why a moralist is never free, why he becomes more and more mechanical, more and more dependent on his code. His consciousness does not awaken but falls into deeper and deeper sleep. And eventually he becomes nothing more than a sluggish lump.
Like the moralist, the immoral man is also just a slave to his habits. The immoral man follows the dictates of his own nature and the moral man follows those of society. They both live by external guidelines; they are both dependent.
The only activity that is truly independent is the search for the self. And only the man who realizes that self attains real freedom. Freedom is only possible when there has been the experience of the self. How can any kind of real freedom be possible unless the existence of the self is known, unless a man knows who he really is?
From this experience of the self a new kind of discipline arises in a man. It is not imposed externally; it is natural, self-inspired. It comes from within. And the kind of morality that springs forth then is a different thing altogether. It is not the labored imitation of any prescribed set of rules but the spontaneous manifestation of one's inner being. The morality that exists after this is not geared to acquiring anything, it exists for distribution, for the sharing of what has been acquired.
REMEMBER ONE TRUTH ALL YOUR LIFE -- to deceive another is eventually to deceive yourself. Whatever you do to someone else always comes back to you.
WHAT IS GOOD CONDUCT? Conduct behind which evil intentions, preconceived opinions or selfish motives lurk is certainly not good conduct. Such conduct is both impure and imcomplete. It is impure because other things are mixed up in it; it is incomplete because something outside must be added to it to complete it.
Good conduct in complete in itself. It needs no future event to complete it. Good conduct is blissful on its own; its very birth is its bliss. Bliss is inherent in the very existence of good conduct -- not in any future fruition, not in any outward achievement.
Once in a lonely forest I came across a man playing the flute. There was no one there to hear him. I had lost my way in the woods and the music of his flute had guided me to the spot where he sat. "Why are you playing your flute in this solitary spot?" I asked him.
"Just to play my flute," he replied. "That is what makes me happy."
Good conduct is an action that is self-inspired; it is not a reaction to something external. A reaction is something that is done in return, and we make the mistake of looking on reactions as our own actions. Between action and reaction there is a gulf as wide as that between heaven and earth.
Our misunderstanding lies in the fact that activity is involved in both, in reaction as well as in action. But not only are they different, they are diametrically opposed to each other. An action that occurs within an individual as the result of a stimulus from his outer environment is a reaction; that which is inspired by his inner self is the real action.
Reactions imprison us because they are externally inspired; actions free us because they are manifestation of our selves. Reaction is dependence; action is independent. Reactions carry a kind of framework with them and there is always an aspect of helplessness involved, but actions are spontaneous expressions of the soul. Reactions are always redundant, always unnecessary; actions are always fresh, new and full of life.
Being firmly established in action, in pure and complete activity, is good conduct. Reaction is a sort of falling from grace because it is mechanical. In action, on the other hand, there is growth and upward development because it comes from feeling, because it is conscious.
THERE IS NO GREATER AFFLICTION than trying to become what you are not. Although this desire has no end to it and offers no fulfillment whatsoever, the majority of people do succeed in their attempts to appear different from what they are.
Recognize your own nature, realize who you really are. Living according to your own nature is heavenly bliss.
A VERY SMALL LAMP CAN DISPEL TH DARKNESS in a house that has been shut up for years. And in the same way the tiniest ray of self-understanding can erase the ignorance that has been accumulating for hundreds of births.
IN THE SEARCH OF LIFE nothing is more fatal than self-satisfaction. Those who are satisfied with themselves are not alive at all. The only man who keeps moving ahead in the direction of truth is the man who is dissatisfied with himself. Remember, real virtue is constant rebellion against self-satisfaction.
ON A GRAVESTONE IT READ, "Here lies a man who did nothing in between the great deeds he dreamed of undertaking and the small tasks he hated to perform"
Of course, this is only written on one tombstone, but ought it not to be engraved on many others as well? Isn't this the sum-total of the lives of many men? And I wish to ask you a pointed and personal question, "Isn't this the epitaph you would like to see on your gravestone as well?"
IS THERE ANYONE WHO CAN DECEIVE US as much as we deceive ourselves? We are our own worst enemies. If you see the truth in this then you should realize that, if you wish, you can also become your own best friend. Religion begins in you when you make friends with yourself.
DO WE NOT USE DIFFERENT YARDSTICKS to measure ourselves and to measure others?
A Christian of my acquaintance told his son the good news that a group of Hindus has embraced Christianity. "It is a sign of God's great mercy," he said, "that so many Hindus have shown such good sense."
"But father," his son reminded him, "you did not mention good sense at all when that Christian friend of yours became a Hindu!"
The man was furious, "Don't even mention that rebel's name to me!" he shouted in anger.
The man who leaves one's fold is considered an out and out turncoat, but those who join one's fold are thought to be men of good sense!
Because of this double standard of measurement we see the tiny speck in our neighbor's eye while the mountain in our own escapes our notice altogether. Is this proper? Is this a healthy attitude? It is not up to me to ask you, but it is for you to put the question to yourself.
On the path of religion the man with two yardsticks will never be transformed. Because of his double standards he cannot even see the truth of his own life. And this unfamiliarity with himself stands in the way of any transformation. Using two yardsticks is a characteristic of an unrighteous, irreligious mind. When you measure yourself you have to use the same standards you apply in measuring others. The man who does not possess even this much impartiality will never pass through the revolution of the soul.
I DO NOT ASK YOU TO BELIEVE IN OTHERS. That is only the result of a lack of belief in yourself.
MAN HAS TO STRUGGLE AGAINST THE EGO; he has to fight with the "I". He has to start a revolution against the ego. To remain surrounded by the ego is to be trapped in the world. To move out of the ego is to live in God. In fact, man is God himself.
DO NOT TRY TO RUN AWAY FROM YOUR EGO, from your "I". It is impossible to run away from it because wherever you go it will be there with you. Rather than trying to run away from it, dive into it with all your energy. The deeper a man goes into hes egoism the more and more he realizes that it has no real existence at all.
YOU WANT YOUR LIFE TO BE HELL? Then I will tell you about a very easy and totally infallible way to achieve it. It is a method that had been tried and tested by thousands of people for thousands and thousands of years. There is no possibility of error; it is to build your life about "I".
Egoism is the simplest and most direst path to misery. And those who stray from this path will not be able to attain sorrow no matter how hard they try. Without this method no one will ever arrive at misery, because this is misery itself. Without knowing this secret no one will ever reach hell. This is hell itself.
THERE IS NO HELL EXCEPT EGOISM. Egoism kindles the fires of hell. Get rid of your ego and there is no hell.
PRIDE NEVER ALLOWS THE FLOWER OF KNOWLEDGE TO BLOOM and a knowledge that is not humble is nothing but delusion. A pompous display of knowledge loudly proclaims that it has all been borrowed.
I KNEW A MAN WHO HAD NEVER COMMITTED AN ERROR in his life and I once asked him his secret. He said, "I was afraid to make a mistake, so I never did anything. That is how I avoided making any mistakes in my life."
When I heard this I began to laugh. Somewhat affronted, he asked, "Why are you laughing?"
I answered, "What greater mistake can there be than not doing anything because you might make a mistake?"
To fear mistakes is to fear life. You have to be ready to make mistakes. The only thing is not to make the same mistake again. Only the man who avoids old mistakes but is not afraid to make new ones, lives and learns. And he is also the only one who ever wins too.
WHAT EXISTS CAN FADE INTO NOTHINGNESS and what is done can be undone. If a man can become entangled in worldly activity, he can become liberated from it as well. His dependence can become his freedom.
IT IS FOOLISHNESS TO EXPECT PEACE from something you have been longing to possess, from something you have been hankering to own. Even if you obtain your heart's delight it cannot help but be transitory. When the mind that yearns is itself a transient thing then how can any object it cherishes be everlasting?
THE GATES OF BLISS ARE CLOSE AT HAND. But if you set out with violence and hatred in your heart you will find yourself standing at the door of hell, even though you were searching for heaven. The path you take is the important thing. On its own, ambition leads nowhere at all.
THERE IS AN INVISIBLE INNER FIRE that burns unceasingly, that constantly scorches a man. It is the fire of greed. Greed burns like a torch held aloft in a gust of wind. The man lets himself be scorched by the flame and then puts the blame on the wind.
WHERE IS IGNORANCE TO BE FOUND? In the ego. That is where lust has taken root.
LUST is endlessly painful because it is insatiable.
PURSUING YOUR LECHEROUS FANTASIES is a wild-goose chase. It is diving into a wasteland of dreams; it is living a frigid life that only ends in a frozen death. The man who is ruled by sexual fantasies dies a thousand and one deaths in his lifetime, but the man who is ready to court death in a fight against these daydreams will find himself sitting at the deathbed of death itself.
THE PLEASURE OF THE SENSES are like delicate flowers -- they fade if you handle them roughly. In your quest for the imperishable pleasure you have to rise far above the body and the senses.
WHAT IS SIN? Sin is denying your own divinity. There is no virtue greater than constant awareness of your own godliness.
SO NOW YOU HAVE FORSAKEN EVIL? That's fine. Now renounce good as well. Your vanity will remain with you as long as you have a hold on either.
WHAT A WONDERFUL CREATURE MAN IS! Side by side within him exist a mound of filth and rubbish and a precious storehouse of gold. What he chooses to dig into rests entirely in his own hands.
DON'T BE AFRAID. You will never be free of the person you fear. He will always pursue you. Your defeat is always in proportion to your fear.
TO BE VICTORIOUS YOU HAVE TO WAGE WAR. But most people plan their victories even before they go into battle. As I see it, these are the people who are always defeated in the end.
LIVING IN THE WORLD BUT NOT BELONGING TO THE WORLD is renunciation. But renunciation has often been compared to the three monkeys -- one shades his eyes to escape the evil sights of the world, one caps his ears to shut out evil sounds and the third covers his mouth to avoid evil speech. For monkeys this kind of thing may be forgivable, but as far as man is concerned it is ridiculous.
Running away from the world in fear is not freedom from the world, it is a subtle but very deep bondage. Don't run from the world; just be aware of yourself. If you try to run away even greater fear will grip you; if you stay aware you will find safety. Only fearlessness that has been acquired through knowledge will give you freedom.
FREEDOM is the form of the soul. If a man has will his dependence can bee wiped out in a moment. A man's freedom is in proportion to his will.
ARE YOU AWARE that no man has ever been deceived by others as much as he has been deceived by himself?
THE TIME AND EFFORT SPENT IN SEEKING the truth, in seeking the self, is never spent in vain. It eventually turns out to be the only time and effort you have never wasted
THE ONLY UNBRIDGEABLE GULF that can exist between one's self and truth is cowardice.
GET TO KNOW THE "I" TOTALLY, in its fullness, because you have to get rid of it. Egoism is the source of darkness, yet it disappears the second a ray of light creeps in.
IF THERE IS DARKNESS inside no outer light will do any good whatsoever.
NOT LONG AGO I HAD A DREAM in which someone slipped and fell into a ravine in the mountains. A crowd gathered around him. They teased him and laughed in derision at his weakness in falling. A priest told him he must forsake the weakness that caused his fall, and a social reformer told him he should be punished, saying that people who fall must be made an example for others.
I observe all of this in my dream and it bothers me that no one is trying to help him up. Somehow I squeeze through the crowd and reach him. When I try to lift him I see that he is already dead. The the crowd disperses. Perhaps they have gone off in search of someone else who has fallen. The priest leaves too. Perhaps some other fallen man may be awaiting his advice on some other path. The social reformer moves away as well. Someone else may have fallen somewhere and he does not want to deny himself the chance to punish someone and to see him reform. Finally, I am the only person left near the dead man. His arms and legs look so frail and weak I find it difficult to believe he has ever been able to walk anywhere. It is not his fall but the fact that he has journeyed into the mountains at all that seems a miracle to me.
In this state of dismay I awakened from my dream. And now I see that it was not just a dream after all. All of humanity is in the same condition.
WHY IS LIFE SO PURPOSELESS, so meaningless, so mechanical, so sluggish? Why is it so insipid, so boring? It is because we have lost a great power, the sense of wonder. Wonder has vanished. Man has murdered wonder; his so-called knowledge has sounded the death knell on wonder.
We are under the illusion we know everything. We think we know the reason behind every secret, behind every miracle. And naturally, the man who has an explanation for each and every phenomenon under the sun will not consider anything a miracle. To a mind that is filled with so-called knowledge nothing remains unknown. And where nothing is unknown there is no wonder. There are no miracles where there is no sense of wonder. There is no charm; there is no joy. But this is the bliss of life; this is the very point of life.
I urge you to discard this so-called knowledge. It is dead. It is a thing of the past, an obstacle that stands between you and the miraculous unknown. Let it go and allow the unknown in. Awareness of the unknown is wonder. It is also the doorway to God, to the greatest unknown.
What is known if the world; what is unknown is God.
THAT WHICH ALWAYS EXISTS in the present is truth. And that which is closest to you is ultimate truth. Seek to understand that which is closest, not that which is afar. How can a man who is ignorant of what is near know what is far away from him? For him who understands what is close at had nothing remains distant at all.
ONE MOONLIT NIGHT I stood alone on the bank of a river silently gazing at the sky. Suddenly I heard a sound, and turning, I saw a young monk standing beside me. He was weeping. I asked him to sit with me and for some time we sat quietly together, my hand resting on his shoulder. There was nothing I could say to him yet my silence seemed to bring him consolation. I have no idea how long we sat there like that but at last he spoke. "I want to see God," he said. "Tell me, does he exist or not? Am I just chasing a dream?"
What could I say? I drew him closer to me "I know no other God than love," ran through my mind. "Anyone who ignores love in his search for God will surely miss. Anyone who seeks any other temple than the temple of love is simply moving further and further away from God." These were my thoughts. But still I said nothing.
"Please say something to me," he implored. "I have sought you out with great expectation. Can you show me God?"
What was there I could say to him? I kissed his tear-filled eyes, drenched in hope, overflowing with the fervor of his desire to see God. But is God something external, something one can see?"
Finally I spoke, "That very question you have put to me was also asked of Shree Ramana," I told him. "He replied that God could not be seen, but that if a man wanted to, he could become God. I say the same thing.
"It is meaningless to say you want to find God. How can you find something you have never lost? How can you find that which you yourself are? The one thing you cannot see if your self. And the idea of visualizing God as an external being simply separates him from the self. God is your self; he is your soul -- and so you will never be able to see him. And my friend, if you do see God then know well, he is just a figment of your imagination. The human mind is capable of giving form to all its fantasies, but when you lose yourself in these creations of your mind you move further and further away from God, away from truth itself."
I am reminded of this incident because you also want to see God. You have come to hear me for that reason and so I must say something about it to you as well.
In the past I myself sought God in the same way, but I have since come to realize the futility of this kind of search. I realized that it was because of my ignorance of my self that I was unable to know truth, unable to know God. You have to know your self before you can know truth. And once the self is known you realize there is nothing more to be known. The door to truth is unlocked by the key of self-realization. Truth pervades existence, and the self is the door.
The man who is unable to discover his self, who cannot find something so close at hand, won't be able to find anything off in the distance neither. Seeking some remote goal is an attempt to avoid that which is near. And this pursuit of worldly things begins as an effort to escape oneself, which is the same thing as trying to escape from God. All quests, except the investigation of one's own inner being, are attempts to escape from one's self.
What exists inside us? Inside there is darkness, loneliness, emptiness. And aren't you just running in circles, looking for shelter from this darkness, from this loneliness, from this emptiness? But escapism only results in suffering, nothing more. Any man who tries to avoid his self will find nothing anywhere else. All pursuits, except this inquiry into the self, lead nowhere.
There are only two alternatives -- escape from the self or awakening to the self. To escape, one needs an outer goal; to awaken, one must be totally disillusioned with everything on the outside.
As long as your God remains external he is your illusion, your hallucination. Man has invented this God to escape from the self. So the first thing I wish to say to you is that there is no need to search for God, for truth, for liberation, for emancipation. You must investigate the investigator himself. That investigation alone will ultimately lead to God, to truth, to liberation. No search, other than the search for the self, can be termed religious.
The terms "self" and "self-realization" are very mis-leading. How can one know one's self? To know something, duality is required. So how can one know something if there are not two separate things involved? How is visualization possible; how is realization possible? Both knowledge and perception belong to the world of duality, and where there is oneness they lose their meanings, their credibility.
As an act, "self-realization" is an impossibility; the term is self-contradictory. And yet I also say to know the self. Socrates said the same thing, and so did Buddha, so did Mahavira, so did Christ, so did Krishna. Even so, you must realize that what it is that can be known is not the self, but the non-self. That can be known. The self is the perceiver, the one who realizes; it can never be the object perceived.
So, you ask, how can the self be known? Since only the object can be known, how can the knower be known? Where there is knowledge there is both subject and object, there is both the knower and the object that is known. And isn't trying to know the knower like trying to see your eye with your eye? Have you ever noticed a dog trying unsuccessfully to catch its own tail? The tail moves away from him as quickly as he tries to grab it. He can never catch it; it is impossible. In the same way, you cannot make the self the object of knowledge. I cannot know myself in the way I can know everything else. Self-knowledge is so simple, and yet it is so complicated, so difficult. Self-knowledge is not the same kind of knowledge with which we are familiar. Not at all. It is not a relationship between the knower and an object. It is supreme knowledge, because after it there remains nothing else to be known. We can also call it supreme ignorance, because there is really nothing to be known. Objective knowledge is the relation between the subject and the object; self-knowledge is the absence of both subject and object. When this happens, only pure knowledge remains, unqualified.
It is through knowledge that all worldly objects are known. Through knowledge the object is known, but the one who knows is separate from the object. And our understanding of material things is this very relationship between subject and object.
Where there is neither subject nor object -- without an object the subject no longer exists -- there is knowledge of the self. Self-knowledge is the purest state of knowledge there is. We call this state self-knowledge because, as Buddha explained it, neither self nor non-self exists in this state.
To most people the word "self" suggests ego. But this is not the case. As long as the ego exists, there can be no self-knowledge.
But how can one attain to this knowledge? Where is the path to be found?
I was once a guest in a house that had so many things in it there was hardly any room to move about. The house was large, but because it was so overcrowded it seemed quite small. In fact, the house was really invisible. A house is the empty space enclosed by the walls, not the walls themselves. The space is the house; it is that space in which we live.
During the evening the host complained that there was no room in his house. He asked how he could make more space. I laughed and told him there was all kinds of room in his house. It was there; he had just filled it with things. If he got rid of some things, I told him, he would see how much space he really had.
The process of self-knowledge is not unlike this.
"I" is always there. Whether awake or asleep, whether sitting or walking, whether in pleasure or in pain, "I" is there. Whether one is knowledgeable or ignorant, "I" is present. No one doubts the fact that he exists, that he is. A man can doubt everything else in the world but he cannot doubt his own existence. Descartes has said, "Even if I doubt, I am there. Who else is there to doubt besides me?"
But who am I? What is this "I"? Who am I" I do not doubt my existence; I do not doubt that I am able to know, that I possess consciousness, perception. There is a possibility that what I know may be false, may be fantasy, but my capacity to know is real.
Let us consider these two facts. First there is the fact of your existence, and secondly, there is the fact that the ability to know exists within you. You can set out on your search on the basis of these two facts alone.
You know that you are, but you do not know who you are. So what is to be done? You must first investigate your capacity to know. You have no other alternative. Knowledge is a tremendously powerful force, but it is hidden by objects, by the things you know through it. Over and over again, in the same way one thought gives way to another, one object is replaced by another. No sooner has your knowledge been freed from one object than it is trapped by another.
But if this knowledge were freed from objects, if it simply existed without anything outer on which to focus, then what would happen? In such a void, where there was nothing to comprehend, wouldn't knowledge then turn towards itself, wouldn't knowledge then know itself? When knowledge is freed from any object it settles on itself. When it is not tied to any object it is pure. That purity, that emptiness itself is what self-knowledge is. When one's consciousness is without object, without thought, without focus, this experience is what we call self-realization.
In this realization neither ego nor object exists. Nor is there any word for this experience. Lao Tzu has said, "Whatsoever you may say about truth, it becomes a lie as soon as you have uttered it." Yet, is there anything man has said more about than truth? When we say it is indescribable we are also describing it. Knowledge is beyond words, but as with love there is an urge to talk about its bliss, its light, its freedom. However incomplete the comparisons may be, however unsatisfying the answers to your questions may be, every man who knows wants to say something, even if it is only to explain to you that he wished to say something but cannot. The problem is that these statements, these suggestions about truth can create great misunderstandings.
The man who searches for the self as one searches for an ordinary object is on the wrong path. The self cannot be the object of knowledge. The self is not an object at all. It cannot be aimed at, like some target, for it is the intrinsic nature of the seeker himself. The investigation and the investigator are one and the same. Only those who do not search for anything else can search for the self. Only those who empty themselves of all knowledge can come to know the self. And when all searching has finally been abandoned, one's consciousness reaches its natural state, the state in which it has always been.
Once someone asked Buddha what he gained by meditation. Buddha replied, "Nothing. I have lost much, but have gained nothing. I have lost my passion, my thoughts, my struggles and my desires, and I have only gained what I have always been since time immemorial."
You cannot lose your innate nature. You cannot lose God.
And what about truth? Truth is without beginning, without end. To find your intrinsic nature you have to erase all that is untrue from your consciousness. You only know what is true when you have lost everything that can be lost. The truth is attained when you have lost your dreams.
Let me say it again -- the truth is attained when you have lost your dreams. When all your dreams have gone, what remains is your self. That alone is truth. That alone is freedom.
YOU CANNOT BECOME A ROSE. But that is no reason for you to become a thorn. You cannot become a twinkling star in the sky, but do you have to become the dark cloud that covers its light? Let me tell you a little secret -- the man who does not become a thorn becomes a flower, and the man who does not become a dark cloud becomes the shining star itself.
"WHO AM I?" YOU ASK. Rather, ask yourself "Where am I?" Search for "I". Look for it in yourself. When you are unable to find this "I" anywhere you will realize who you are. The secret of who you are lies in the annihilation of "I"
A MAN'S LIFE IS REALLY COUNTED BY HIS ACTIONS, not by his years. Thoughts give birth to actions. And actions are deeper than breath. The breath just drags the years along in its wake. Feeling and emotions are even deeper than thoughts, but there is an unfathomable depth that is even more profound than any of these things. And that is a man's soul. The man who goes deeper and deeper into himself rises higher and higher in life. The proportion is the same. A tree that aspires to touch the sky must first fix its roots very deep in the earth.
I cannot walk the path to truth for you. Nor can anyone else. You have to undertake that journey for yourself. Know this and know it well, otherwise you will spend your precious life in vain. The path of life is shrouded in darkness and no other light but the light of self-understanding can illumine your way. You are your own darkness and you can also be your own light. No one else but you can envelop you in darkness, so how can you expect anyone else to be a light for you?
WHAT SHALL I SAY ABOUT DHARMA, ABOUT RELIGION? Whatever I say will not be religion. That which is beyond words cannot be expressed through speech.
Don't mistake the scriptures for religion; they contain only words. Words divide. Words have divided humanity. The walls that exist between men are not of stone, they are built of words. And the same wall of words stands between man and truth. Anything that has separated man from truth has separated him from everything. Words are mantras that have hypnotized us into straying from our authentic natures, from our real selves.
The man who is unfamiliar with himself is far from the truth. This is because the understanding of one's self is the nearest thing there is to truth. Everything else is distant, far removed. Words hide the self as the waves camouflage the ocean; the turmoil of words shrouds the inner music as smoke smothers a fire.
We spend our lives caught up in exploration of the outer shell, ignoring the man within. I look inside myself. I see words -- thoughts, memories, images, dreams -- words. The real me is buried beneath this layer of words. Is this it? Is this all? Or is there something else within me, beyond this cloud-cover of words? Everything depends on your answer to this question. If the answer comes from words, from thoughts, then you will never know DHARMA, you will never know what religion is. Thought is its own limitation.
Generally, in the search for the self, this is where people turn back. They run up against this invisible wall and retrace their steps. It is very frustrating. It is like digging a well and only finding more rocks, more and more stones. But to be confronted by this layer of stones, of words, is quite natural. This on only an outer layer, only a veil.
To find the self you have to pierce this veil. You must move on until you arrive face to face with the naked truth. You must keep on digging through the layers of words until you hit the well of wordlessness. You must brush away the dust of thoughts until the mirror of the self is reflected. This is not easy. You not only have to remove your clothes, you also have to strip away your skin. This is penance, this is real atonement.
Have you ever peeled an onion? You have to peel yourself like that. After the layers and layers of peel have been removed the essence remains. That is you authentic being. That is you.
You have to drive all thoughts away; you have to know to recognize, to understand everything that is not you. You have to dive deep.
And there is to be no choosing between good and bad. These are intellectual evaluations and do not lead beyond thought. This is the difference between morality and religion. Morality is the selection of what is good, as opposed to what is bad. In religion, there is no selection; religion is beyond all choice.
When there is nothing left to choose, all that remains is one's self. When a man becomes free of choice, thought evaporates. And only awareness remains. There is no object any more, there is only consciousness. At this point the wisdom that has always been latent in you manifests itself, and the gates of religion are thrown open to you.
I invite you to meet your self. What the scriptures cannot give you is already within you. What no one else can give you, you can attain yourself. The truth is realized as soon as you go beyond words.
MAN IS A JOURNEY, a journey to the infinite. Nietzsche has said, "Man's greatness is this: he is the bridge, not the destination." I say the same thing.
WHEN I LOOK INTO MYSELF do you know what I realize? I realize that salvation is nearer to me than the ground under my feet.
THE PHYSICAL BODY IS A SACRED TEMPLE. Instead of fighting with it, go inside; the path to God lies through it. The body is a place of holy pilgrimage; God has chosen it as his abode. The true seeker after spiritual perfection acknowledges his body, cooperates with it in gratitude and directs all its energies towards the ultimate merger with the universal soul.