Acharya Prashant: As you know, this we are calling as a ‘Myth Demolition Tour’. This is the third day of the tour. On the first day, we took up the ‘Genesis of myths’. We went into how the Truth gets obfuscated and falseness appears to have come into being, and then yesterday we took up the ‘Myth of the smile’. Today, in the same series, we’ll take up the ‘Myth of the Self’, rather the myth of the ‘Aatman’.
Call it ‘Self’, call it ‘Aatman’, the immediate and obvious reference is towards the ‘I’, the ‘me’. That is the closest indicator, and unfortunately also the worst deceiver. Whether we say the Self, the Aatman, the spirit, the soul, the intention is to point towards something which is within us. The intention is to point at some deep spot inside us.
The word ‘Aatman’ means ‘I’. The myth has permutated so deep in the psyche of mankind that we even use expressions like: ‘The soul has left the body’. The obvious assumption is that the soul is contained in the body, that the soul resides somewhere in the body. And not only the soul resides somewhere in the body, there have been attempts to even indicate where exactly it resides! This myth needs to be debunked.
When you say ‘Self’, ‘me’, ‘Aatman’, there is a very little relationship actually between that which you want to arrive at and that which you are pointing at. This has very little to do with Aatman.
The Aatman, the Self, is the only Truth that there is.
Let me put it this way that the Truth is also called as the Self. The Truth is not an object. The Truth is nowhere to be found in time and space. Only objects are located there. The Truth is not a mental construct, for all mental constructs are dualistic. When we are talking of dualistic constructs and mental objects, obviously the body too is one such object. It exists in space and time. Anything that exists in space and time cannot contain the Aatman.
This one fundamental point must be deeply understood: The Aatman is not in us, the Self is not in us, we are in the Self.
But it is hardly ever put this way. It is the height of arrogance of the ego to say ‘my soul’. The soul is neither amenable to possession nor it is personal or individualistic. You cannot ‘have’ a soul. Yours is a personal mind, yours is a personality, yours is everything that is divided, fragmented, personalized, dualistic. But we talk of the soul as our property, as something that belongs to us. Not only does it belongs to us, we also pretend and speak and assume that we know a lot about it.
The Self or the Soul or the Truth is not an object exposed to knowledge. The Self cannot be known. When only the Self is there, what is there to know it? The Self is the absolute witness. If you are knowing the Self, then you are claiming to witness the Self; in other words, you are claiming to witness the witness. So neither it is appropriate to think in terms of having a Soul nor is it appropriate to talk in terms of knowing the Soul. Do we very frequently say, “This is the voice of ‘my soul’ or ‘my spirits’ are soaring?
The Self neither soars nor declines. It displays no movement whatsoever, though all movement is within it.
We have a great interest in talking in terms of a ‘personalized’ Soul because if the Soul, the Truth, the Spirit, the Self, Aatman is personal, then it is your’s, then it belongs to the ego. And if the Truth belongs to the ego, then the ego is bigger than the Truth, and that is the biggest dream of the ego—to be bigger than everything, to be bigger than even the Truth.
Let’s go into this a little more closely. What we perceive as the universe, is perceived only through the sensory mechanism. There is no other proof of the universe. Remove the senses and there is no universe. And when I say the senses, I include the mind as well in that. There is no independent proof of what is perceived. Also, remove the universe and there is no proof of the senses. The universe and the senses, which means the world and the ego, the world and the person, they exist only in relationship with each other. They exist only as two ends of duality. And that is why they are not taken as the Truth. They are not taken as the Truth because if the senses change, if the move changes, if the state of consciousness changes, then the world too changes.
The world has no objective reality of its own. The state of the universe depends so much on the state of the perceiver, the state of the subject. And at the same time, the state of the subject depends so much on the state of the universe. If what is around us changes, then the mind too changes. In fact, the mind is a product of all that which is around us, which has been around us.
Whatever ‘changes’, brings grief and suffering; hence, those who have known, they have said that the one test of Truth is that it is totally dependable, that it is never going to betray you or let you down, that it is never going to exhaust or pass away. And if it passes away, then just call it a phenomenon, don’t call it a Truth because if it is passing away then you will always live in fear.
You would not know when the thing might slip out of your hands. You can relax, you can enjoy only if there is something that is never in danger of going away, only if there is something that would never be exhausted, only if something that does not depend on any other thing for its being. That something, obviously, cannot belong to the province of mind, because the mind only knows divisions, limitations and small things. All that is there in the mind, comes and goes.
Is there anything in the mind which has always been there and would always be there?
In fact, time itself means change, and the mind lives in time—past, future, memories, hopes. So nothing that can be thought of by the mind is taken as the Truth. Nothing that can be even faintly conceptualised, even vaguely imagined, is taken to be the Truth. Nothing about which even one word can be said is taken to be the Truth.
If you can catch hold of it, if you can touch it, if you can express it, it is not Real.
The Real by definition is that which lies outside the province of the thinking mind. And that Real is the only dependable unit, the only thing if we may call it so, that you can absolutely rely upon.
The mind, when it is quiet, then it descends into a certain peace. It relaxes. That relaxation is not something of the mind. It is something that the mind dissolves into, and hence in relaxation, it is not present at all. It is gone, it is dissolved. That relaxation has utmost value because if it is not there, you cannot live, you’ll lose your sanity. That relaxation is your deepest desire. Hence, that relaxation, hence that Truth, was given the highest priority, worshipped and termed as God.
It would be a tragedy then to contain that Highest within ourselves. Then we would have to
let go of the only hope that is available to us. Now we are saying that there is nothing bigger than me and when there is nothing bigger than you, who is going to hold you? If the Soul is contained in you, then who is going to support you? What is contained inside you cannot be more powerful than you. What is contained inside you cannot be bigger than you. What is contained inside you cannot outlast you.
We have said two things:
- Nobody has a Soul.
- There are no different kinds of Souls.
There are different kinds of personalities. Persons are different; appearances are different; names are different; phenomenon are different. There is diversity only there.
The Aatman is one. One and only one. In fact, it would be prudent to not even call it one because the moment you call it one, you bring a finite boundary to it. The moment the boundary comes into picture, one gives rise to two. There is something outside the boundary as well, and then the probation starts—one, two, three, four… ten! So when it comes to the Aatman, it pays to say, “Well, it’s nothing, can’t say much about it, silence!”
One cannot think of the Aatman, one cannot touch it, and as I am saying this, I sense that this is not a very comforting statement. Are we saying that Truth or God is so very distant that I can have no connection with it?
Yes, the connection is there. But the connection is not at all perceivable if we continue to be what we are.
If you sit and think and talk, then you will only have concepts about Aatman or Truth or God.
But in intense, honest, passionate daily living, there is an evidence of Aatman, and that evidence is not a product of the mind.
That evidence is not a mental object.
That evidence is not an idea.
That evidence is not a planned activity.
That evidence comes infact as a shock!
You’re unable to sleep in the night and you come out of your room and you’ve just come out because you were unable to sleep. That was the intention of the mind.
The intention of the mind was to just go out, get a little fresh air, may be that would enable sleep, and instead you come out and you get to see the full moon.
That is Aatman.
Remember, this is not a definition of the Aatman, that is Aatman. Aatman can be known, but not via definitions. Aatman can be known, but not by a knower. The Aatman is known when you are not there. The Aatman cannot be known when you have planned to know it. If you plan for a full moon night, then it is ‘you’ and ‘your planning’, not the Truth. But when the moon suddenly shines over you and you are left aghast, that is the Aatman.
The mind is reasonable.
You know when you’ve touched the Aatman?
When you are compelled into doing something utterly unreasonable.
An intense war you are fighting. And you’ve been battered. You are more wounds than flesh now, and blood is dripping all over your body. And it’s an important battle, it must be fought. Wounds, muscles, every single tissue is gone and your opponent throws you down on the earth and turns to walk away, and you cry out—come on, more, more. That is Aatman.
It is not something within you. Within you is the body, within you is the thinking mind. They would never say ‘fight’. They would never say ‘more’. They would only say ‘enough’. But when something emerges from you, which is neither of the body nor of the mind, then you know that the Aatman is dancing. When you are all so composed, adjusted, civilized and decorated then surely it is the mind of the man at work.
The Aatman is not when one sits with an imposed social discipline.
The Aatman is when you let your hair loose and dance naked on the banks of the river like this.
You cannot plan for that.
You cannot try that out.
You cannot have that as an experiment.
That comes from somewhere else, and the coming of that is the demolition of all thinking patterns. The coming of that is its own proof because neither one’s mind nor other’s are ever going to validate what is happening. Only you know that, that which is happening is good, is true and must happen. Only you know that. And when only you know that, that is Self, Aatman.
No, nobody else is needed.
No, nobody else can know.
Even I cannot know. When even you cannot know, that is the Self.
The Aatman is when you want to communicate something really passionately, really intensely, and you speak and speak and speak and your voice starts quivering, and then you are groping for words and you don’t get any, and then there is a helpless silence and then it suddenly strikes you that all that needed to be said has been said by the silence. That silence is Aatman.
And that silence is not yours. Left to yourself, you would only talk and have those words. In the vocabulary of man, silence has no place. Silence comes only as a last resort. Man can hardly choose silence, in fact, silence cannot be chosen. If it is being chosen then it is something, and silence is not something, not anything.
Aatman is the silence that so eloquently, so evocatively communicates. And remember, that silence is your delight and your helplessness both.
If it does not make you helpless, if it does not overpower you, if it does not overwhelm you, if it does not take complete possession of you, it cannot be the Truth.
If you are still on top, then it is only you, not the Truth.
The Aatman is the heart beating madly in the nights, and if you have even faintly known Love, then you will know what I am saying.
Have you seen the parted lips of the beloved?
Have you seen the lips opening up ever so slightly, so slightly, so slightly that you can see your entire universe in that parting?
When you can see the entire universe in the parted lips of the beloved, that is the Aatman.
And the Aatman is when you are so drunk that you can’t even kiss those lips.
Think about it, if you can.
Any attempt to put this into thought would be a humiliation, sacrilege.
Aatman is not a model. Aatman is not a product of mental activity. It is childish to keep parroting that there is this shield, this shield, and this shield, and behind all these shields, there lies the Aatman.
The Aatman does not lie underneath any shield; the Aatman is the foundation, the substratum of all shields.
You do not uncover anything to reach the Aatman.
The Aatman is that vast space in which all covering and uncovering is continuously happening.
The Aatman cannot be yours. There is no way it can belong to you.
But there is some good news: you can belong to the Aatman.
And that is called surrender. And that is also called the only rightful living.
Belong to the Aatman.
Let yourself be taken.
Belong to the Truth.
Have That as your only priority.
Have That as your only Master.
Let That decide whatever you do.
The Aatman is a great dancer. The Shiva Sutra says that the dancer that the Aatman is, uses the mind as the stage. Let the mind not be an actor. Withdraw, retire, resign. Let the mind be just a stage, a humble stage that allows the dance to happen without interfering.
A question arises, if that which is called the Aatman has so little relationship with that which we call as the ‘I’ then why was it named as the Aatman in the first place?
It was named as the Aatman because it is the rightful resting place of the ‘I’. That which we call as the ‘I’ is a restless mask. It’s a peace-less entity seeking relaxation, seeking stillness, seeking peace. That peace is the destination of the ‘I’, the ego. Since it is the destiny, since it is inevitable, since you won’t feel quiet, since you won’t feel at home unless that happens, hence, you have been named after your inviolable, inexorable destiny.
The Aatman is one’s highest potential. The Aatman is one’s peaceful nature. But never, never say the Aatman is what we are. We are kids who have lost their Home; the Aatman is the Home. And the one who has wandered straight away from the Home must accept that he is Homeless. In accepting his Homelessness, there is a possibility of an instant return to the Home, to the Center, to the Base. Hence, it’s a beautiful name—Aatman.
It keeps reminding you that you are not there. The Aatman is hence a great pointer. It does not tell you what you are; it tells you what you must be. It tells you that without being which, you would remain lost, wandering, grieving. The Aatman is our right Center. But at that Center, the ‘I’ that exists is not the I that ‘I’ know, and that is why most people miss it. They miss it because they are eager to defend that which they think that they are.
‘I think of myself as something and I do not know what would be left if I drop it. I am not alright with what I think myself to be.’ Nobody is alright. But it’s a strange situation. In spite of not being comfortable with the status quo, which we have assumed ourselves to be, we are still not prepared to let it go. The only fear is: if this goes, what’s next? This may be bad, but at least it is something, at least I have something to hold onto. As they say, “One bird in hand is better than two in the bush.”
“I have a bad relationship” — and the world is just a relationship, right? Relationship with yourself, relationship with family, relationship with the universe—”It’s a bad relationship, but at least I have a relationship that protects me from loneliness. If I let go of this then who knows when the next thing will come about, and whether anything will come about.”
That Aatman is when you are not afraid to let go of all that which is false. The Aatman enables the dropping, and the Aatman is that which is left after the dropping. Without the Grace of the Aatman, you will never be able to drop all that which is rotten about the mind. And when all that which is rotten about us is dropped, then you find that you can now rightfully call yourself the Aatman.
The Aatman enables the dropping, and the Aatman is that which is left after the dropping. Without the Grace of the Aatman, you will never be able to drop all that which is rotten about the mind. And when all that which is rotten about us is dropped, then you find that you can now rightfully call yourself the Aatman.
It is another matter that then you have very little interest left in calling yourself as anything. It’s a strange thing. Only till the time you do not deserve to call yourself Truth, you are particular about labelling yourself as Truth. Only till the time there is no love in the relationship, you are particular about parroting the name of Love. When Love actually descends, then you forget all about Love. Then you forget the whole story, the whole concept around the world. It’s gone. Now there is just life. Life which is Love.
We have suddenly come upon a beautiful word – Love.
What is Love?
Love is your attraction towards the Aatman. Love is the pull of the Aatman towards the restless mind.
When you are restless, what is that you want? You want rest. This want is Love.
If you feel incomplete, what is it that you want? You want completion. This want is Love.
If you’ve been deceived and betrayed and hurt and wounded, what is it that you want? You want total reliance, you want total commitment, you want something that is absolutely dependable. This total sense of security that always calls us is Love.
So just as it is not proper to point to oneself and say ‘Soul’. Similarly, it is not very proper to point oneself and say ‘Lover’. Love is not between two objects. Love is always between the restless psyche and the center of rest. When Love calls, then you know that unreasonable urge to be Aatman. Surrender to That. Be defeated. Let that all overpower you. Left to itself, the mind only wants victory.
When the mind rejoices in the glory of its defeat, then you know that it is Aatman.
When you are smiling even after you have given away everything, you have lost everything, and people are coming out to console you, then you know that smile is Aatman.
When you are leaving behind your important business, your worldly commitments, to take care of an ordinary wounded animal lying by the roadside, then it is the Aatman.
When you say that you rather have death than a life of bondage, then it is Aatman.
Aatman will not be controlled by you; it controls you. When you are controlled, you panic because we want to be in charge; the Aatman is not for those who cannot let go of themselves, who want to continuously remain in charge. The Aatman is not for those for whom acceptance and respectability is very important; the Aatman makes you look stupid, crazy. You won’t get any respect for letting the Aatman act through you. Society respects only those who live by the society not those who live by the Heart. So those of us who are very particular about their social image and worldly standing,may rest assured that the Aatman would remain just a concept for them.
The Aatman is not a pattern. The Aatman is not to be found in a crowd. When you see that solitary one walking his own path not even minding where the crowd is going and whether he is going with or against the crowd, then you know that this is the dance of the Aatman.
Left to yourself, you would only join a crowd, you would only go to places where everyone goes. Left to yourself, you will only act like a machine. When suddenly that machine develops wings. When suddenly that machine gets tears in its eyes. When suddenly that machine develops a heart that beats. When that machine suffers. When that machine rejoices. Then you know, it is the Aatman.
The Aatman is that which won’t let you sleep. Those of us who are very particular about sleeping rightly and waking rightly may forget the Aatman. The Aatman is stupid and mad. The Aatman is insane. Why call the Aatman as wise? Because those whom we have called as wise have been repeatedly proven to be stupid in the deepest ways. So let’s simply call the Aatman as mad and foolish.
When you are not afraid of being foolish, then it is the Aatman.
When you find that your head is willingly bowing down, coming in touch with an immensity far far bigger than itself, then it is the Aatman.
When you hold her face in your hands, in your palms, and you look into her eyes and you forget why you touched her face in the first place, and you look so stupid having forgotten that, so stupid that she laughs at you, then it is the Aatman – then it is the forgetfulness of the Aatman, and it is the laughter of the Aatman.
The Aatman is not an organized laughter. The Aatman is not a scheduled meeting. The Aatman is not an appointed time of meditation. The Aatman is not one particular pose for yoga. The Aatman is when you forget all about poses and the body goes bizarre. The Aatman is when you forget all about time. If time is still important to you then time rules you and time is the world, time is meditation! Time is not meditation. When you come to listen and you forget that you had ever come and you forget that you need to go, then it is the Aatman.
If you’re still within yourself, if you still remember that you’ve come, if you still remember that you’ve come with somebody, if you still remember your neighbour, then you are you and your neighbour, forget the Aatman.
The Aatman is when you forget even the chair on which you are sitting. The Aatman is when you forget that you came as a body. The Aatman is when you listen to your words and do not know who has been speaking. The Aatman is when you look at yourself in the mirror and for the first time you see a strange beauty. That beauty is not a cosmetic beauty. That beauty is not a purchased beauty. And that beauty is not a beauty that is sellable. Only the Aatman can appreciate the Aatman. Only the Aatman can love the Aatman. The mind is only terrified of the Aatman. It glorifies the Aatman but avoids it like death. The Aatman is when death is so sweet that it need not be avoided. The Aatman is when a Kabir spontaneously sings – “mujhe maran ka chaav”. He is not just saying that he is not afraid of death, he is saying he is fond of death. That’s Aatman.
The Aatman is not something that you read of in the books. The Aatman is not something that scholars can tell you of. The Aatman is something that you pay for with your life, with your blood. And if you are not prepared to pay that price then continue shopping in the shopping malls. You had enough stuff of your liking there.
The Aatman is never for sale. It is only attained through sacrifice and the ultimate sacrifice is your own sacrifice.
The Aatman is when you pause like this but you cannot remain paused because the command is to remain speaking. And who can disobey the command of that sweet Master? (Smiles) So you might be tired, you might know that it is not logical but yet you bow and continue. The Aatman is an eccentric life. The Aatman is not the syllabus of a university; the Aatman is when the life teaches you. Those who have not prepared to be taught by life may continue with their university enrollments. They are in the right place.
When the Aatman hears of the Aatman, it rejoices; when the mind hears of the Aatman, it runs away, it escapes, and its very face is studded with misery. It feels suffocated. It sees the sign of impending death. It says, “Where am I stuck? Why the hell did I come here?”
It is not only crazy, it is lunatic. When you hear the word lunatic then you shrink into yourself, then you keep shrinking. But if you feel like joining the lunacy, then the Aatman has touched you.
The mind builds. It builds schedules. It builds orders. It builds sequences, time, future, plans, this entire universe, these buildings, that bridge, all the machines. The mind wants to have an order. Aatman is that which disrupts that order. The Aatman is the divine order that the mind cannot comprehend. The mind can build an itinerary, a schedule, an airplane. The Aatman is when you miss your flight deliberately. And you don’t want to miss it but you still miss it. The plane and the runway may keep waiting and they keep announcing your name. You know that somebody else has been Calling, and that Call is far more important than the call to be seated in the plane. You miss the flight, and now you are flying. That’s Aatman.
We’ll continue through your inputs and queries.
You continue to remain silent, the Aatman will talk. And when She talks, just don’t interrupt, you’re not needed. And She talks and talks beautifully, sweetly. Her talk is like music. Let Her talk. When She talk, you would be amazed to listen how beautiful your own voice is, and then you can say: “Aatman is Me”. If you’re ugly, you have no right to call yourself the Aatman. Only in the moments of tremendous beauty that you get the right to call yourself the Aatman and counter your own bedazzling beauty. Let the Aatman show up. Let her dance and let her talk.
Listener 1: Sir, this restlessness never stops, it causes grief.
AP: Now understand, the Aatman is absolutely cruel. She will not let you relax unless you relax in her arms. If you are feeling that restlessness, that grief, it only means that it is time now to surrender to the arms of the Beloved. Surrender, go to sleep, relax. The Beloved will act. The Aatman is not called the Beloved for no reason. The Aatman loves you greatly, and because She loves you greatly, She causes you so much grief. You too love Her. It’s time now to acknowledge your love. Stop doubting. Why must you hold on to that which makes you so nervous, fidgety, uncertain? Drop it! And you have no volition anyway because unless and until you drop it, She’ll keep making your life hell.
We are not obliged to suffer; Aatman is the rebellion against suffering. Aatman is when you say, “I have had enough! It is not man’s destiny to continue suffering. I decide to drop all that which causes me suffering. I refuse to continue to be my enemy. Just refuse.”
Suffering is wonderful. Suffering only means that the Aatman is calling you. Suffering is the message of the Beloved. Suffering means that you’ve been chosen now. That all has been done, only your acceptance is awaited. Suffering is when the beloved is knocking on the door and you’re so shy and so inhibited that you can’t get up and open yourself for Him. Suffering means that the knock is already there. It’s good news. If the Truth is not knocking on your door, you cannot suffer. Don’t you see so many people who are so well adjusted, comfortable? They don’t suffer at all. You look at them and they appear so relax. It only means that they are greatly unfortunate. They are so unfortunate that they don’t even feel the suffering contained in separation.
Lucky are those who can see that they are trembling.
L2: Are poors fortunate?
AP: Depends upon what you mean by poor. There are lot of poor who are poor only because they haven’t been able to acquire much. They have been trying desperately to acquire but they have been such idiots that they can’t even acquire.
Aatman is absolutely poor, absolutely poor in the sense that it has nothing; Aatman is absolutely rich in the sense that it does not have anything, because it does not need anything. If you count the number of possessions, Aatman is impoverish, has nothing; has nothing because it needs nothing. Now it depends upon you. If you are the Aatman, you’ll say: “Majestic, royal, full, beyond contentment”. But if you are one of the holders, the accumulators, the possessors, then you’ll say: “Oh, miserable! impoverished”. There is a great beauty in not having anything. For not having anything means that you have everything and hence need nothing.
(It starts raining)
You cannot plan this, or can you? Could you arrange for the rain? The Aatman is when the heavens open up to bless a setting where the Aatman is being loved. The Aatman remains unforeseen like these drops that have come to bless.
L3: Sir, you told that if crowd goes the opposite side, then you don’t mind. I want to understand that if anybody goes opposite to this i.e., comes closer to the crowd, then it is not Aatman?
AP: The Aatman is not when you go with the crowd; the Aatman is also not when you go against the crowd. Because whether you go with or against the crowd , you’re still bothered about the crowd. The Aatman is when the crowd doesn’t exists for you. The Aatman is when your legs are controlled by another Master. The Aatman is not when you look at the crowd and decide your direction. The direction could as well be against the crowd. You could be desirous of calling yourself a rebel. The Aatman is not even a rebellion. It is the greatest rebellion. The greatest rebellion is when you don’t even rebel. You discard. You loose interest even in rebelling. When you rebel against something then you are giving at least some importance to that thing. The greatest rebellion is when that thing becomes so inconsequential for you that you refuse to rebel. You loose interest in fighting against it. Now you are dancing to some other tune. The Aatman is no ordinary rebellion.
L3: Sir, I want to utnderstand what Aatman is. When I am not for or against the crowd, then it is Aatman? Before it was not Aatman?
AP: Before it was you and after that again it would be you. Before and after are always in time. The mind that talks the language of ‘before’ and ‘after’, and is trying to understand, is just mind self-contained. The Aatman is when you don’t even try to understand and yet you understood. Like this. The Aatman is not when you’ve organized a question-answer session to understand. The Aatman is when even before the sentence is complete, you’ve understood. And that is the Aatman. The Aatman is not when you comprehend somebody’s words; the Aatman is when you listen something beyond the words. The Aatman is not when you know what the speaker is saying; the Aatman is when you come to the same place where the speaker is coming from.
L4: You said that the soul is not inside or outside. How is it possible? If you say that there is no inside and no outside, then it states that inside there is no Aatma. How is it possible?
AP: Whenever we say ‘inside’ or ‘outside’, we are talking the language of space. The space that we talk of is a mental construct. When you’re sleeping deeply, do you perceive space? When you are in deep sleep, is there space, or is there time?
It’s not there, right? Not there. How can then the Truth be in something that changes with the changing states of consciousness? Space is experienced only in a particular state of consciousness. You move into another state, you sleep, and the space is gone. How can then the Truth be contained in space? The Truth, by definition, is that which is immutable, unchangeable, not transitory. Aatman is neither ‘inside’ nor ‘outside’. It is the foundation on which all space rests.
L4: Yes, yes. That’s true.
AP: Have you got it now? Good enough. It does not matter when it comes to you. Whenever it comes to you, say, “Thank You”. To some it comes instantly, to some it takes a little time. But it’s so precious that whenever it comes to you, you can only have gratitude to offer. Even if it comes to you in the last breath of your life, your life has still been worthy.
L5: Sir, is the Aatman a personal choice?
AP: Is the Aatman a personal choice? Yes, and no. The Aatman is like a lover who continuously calls, continuously calls, does not let you sleep, does not let you relax but would never force himself upon you. He waits for your consent. The Aatman is absolute freedom and hence respects even the freedom of the ego to choose. So, though the Aatman would keep inviting you to dance yet it would never really force you directly to dance. You’ll have to say ‘yes’. You’ll have to say ‘yes’. Even God waits for your ‘yes’. Even if you don’t say ‘yes’, God will keep waiting, keep knocking, keep sending his messengers but never impose Himself upon you.
L5: It depends on the openness to welcome the Aatman.
AP: Yes, ofcourse. If something has reached you, then the most important factor has been your openness. You had a session, the session has not been the same for everybody who is present here. There have been some who have been absolutely touched, and there are some who’ll go back home dry just as they came. The session, had it been dependent upon the speaker, would have been same for everybody, but it depends upon you. You open the gates and your house would be flooded; you don’t open the gates, you would still hear the knocks. Let’s see how long you refuse to answer. The Aatman is very obstinate. It does not rest till you answer its Calls.
L6: My mind can say ‘yes’, but it cannot open the gate. Can you help me to be in the same place like you?
AP: The mind is not designed to say ‘yes’. When the mind says ‘no’, it is a ‘no’ and when the mind says ‘yes’ it is a bigger ‘no’. So, the ‘yes’ is only ‘yes’ when the mind does not say anything. When you are silent, when the mind has been stunned into relaxation, that is your ‘yes’, that is your consent. ‘No’ is an activity of the mind, ‘yes’ too is an activity of the mind. Any activity of the mind makes the mind think that it is the doer and has some power. In saying ‘yes’, the mind says: “I am the one who has said ‘yes’. It means that I have some power”. And when the mind has power, then where is the question of surrender? ‘Yes’ is when the mind cannot even say ‘yes’. So overwhelmed that even saying ‘yes’ is not possible. Now it is ‘yes’. Now it is ‘yes’. How do you know that it is right for you to kiss your Beloved? Do you wait for her ‘yes’, no, her silence is enough. That is the ‘yes’. In matters of greatest intimacy and importance, you do not wait for words that say ‘yes’. Silence is enough and only silence would suffice.
L6: Sir, please help me to be in the same place like you.
AP: It’s already happening. When you are already being helped, then the biggest help you can do to yourself is to not to try for more help. A doctor comes and administers you medicines, and you want to be helped more, so what do you do? You take more of the stuff. You won’t be helped. It’s already happening. The greatest favor that we can do to ourselves is that we stop trying to be our own well-wishers. As long as we try to help ourselves, we will only cause ourselves… The intention is always to be good to oneself, is it not? Nobody is really suicidal. The intention is always to have betterment, welfare, and with that kind of intention what does one get? One gets what we are.
Don’t try to help yourself. The help is always there. It doesn’t wait for your invitation to come. Grace is always present. Just figure out how you block it. And blocking is an act, unblocking is not another act. Unblocking is just the cessation of the act, just see what you have been doing. To disregard and return the help. Stop doing that. Stop doing whatever you have been doing. That’s the biggest favor you can do to yourself. No new action is needed. All new actions will come from the same center and hence will be as worthless as all the previous actions. We are already doing a lot. Why do we want to do more?
Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
Since eternity mankind has been running in search of happiness and equally shying away from sadness or miseries. With every chapter of this book, the Author takes you to a place away from these two ends of duality. The book throws light on how the search of happiness is a futile one.
With utmost simplicity, he explains how freedom from both happiness and sadness is the ultimate peace. Author’s genius lies in the fact that he does not talk of happiness and sadness as some far off terms and does not throw concepts of ‘higher living’ to the readers. Rather, he deals with issues in a very simple, personal way and through this book extends an invitation to join the ongoing existential party.