Acharya Prashant: Searching for Oneness?
AP: Surely you must be experiencing a lack of oneness if you are searching for it.
AP: Where do you find a lack of oneness?
L: I know that, first of all, the lack of oneness when I experience it, it is in me.
AP: Is it there, or, is it being thought of? How do you know that there is no oneness? And, how do you know what oneness is, if you do not know it?
You see, I go out to search for ‘Tibba’. Now to search for ‘Tibba’, first of all, I must know what ‘tibba’ is. Otherwise, how will I find ‘Tibba’? How will I identify it?
What is oneness? Is Oneness just not something you have read of in the books? Is Oneness just not a picture?
L: No, I know how oneness feels within me.
AP: If oneness feels like something, who is the one who feels oneness? Surely, someone who is a little away from oneness, right? To feel something, you will have to have a distance from it.
L: I experience oneness.
AP: Please tell me something, can the tongue taste itself? The tongue can only taste something that is kept upon it.
AP: Do you know the taste of the tongue? Do you know?
AP: To feel anything, there would surely be a distance between the feeler-the subject, and the thing being felt – the object. That means you have to have a distance from Oneness, to feel it or experience it. Now, such oneness from which you have a distance becomes two-ness.
L: I understand, but at the moment when I don’t experience oneness, then I can feel that I am missing it.
AP: But, that oneness that you are missing, was not oneness at all, in the first place. That was two-ness, a duality. It has been mistakenly named as oneness.
L: Sir, you are saying that when I have felt most fulfilled, at that moment I experience two-ness?
AP: Yes, of course, and that fulfillment is no fulfillment at all.
L: So, when I experience a lack, then, in fact, I am in the oneness?
AP: When you experience a lack, then you are at least in honesty.
L: So, oneness doesn’t exist as a feeling?
AP: As a feeling. As a feeling. As an experience, it does not exist.
L: I have a feeling that I am trapped in words at the moment.
AP: No, you are trapped in yourself. You see, we like it. We like to claim that we have had some special experience. That makes us feel special. That makes us feel elevated. That makes us feel Godly. That gives us a certain pride.
L1: So, there is an attachment of feeling because that gives us a certain identity.
AP: Yes, we have got…and something to brag about.
L: Even though it would be only in your own mind.
AP: Not only in your own mind, you would announce it to the entire world. Right now, are you telling me what is the name of your dog, or all the things that happened to you, since your childhood? No. But in the last fifteen-twenty minutes, you have told me of all your special experiences, including the experience of Oneness. So, if you experience Oneness, that qualifies you to talk about it to various people along various forums.
L: No, then I would only talk about that to help people to feel more one, within themselves. It is not so much about bragging.
AP: But, you know, to help someone, you are at least saying that you know what it means to be one. Is that already not a qualification? Already not a bragging, right?
L: No. not at all.
AP: I go to someone, I say, “You are sick, and as a healthy one, I am here to help you.” Have I already not elevated myself in comparison to him?
L1: No. I want to say something else. When I drink something, that is very nice, there is no greater joy than have it to somebody else. That is sharing the happy experience with you.
L: So, that is not to, in my eyes, not so much in like…”Oh! look at ‘me’.” It’s more like, “Isn’t this great to enjoy.” Isn’t that something else?
AP: Yes, that is something else. Now, we are really talking. So, when you experience something, let us say a drink, which is really tasty or fulfilling – Share the drink.
AP: Don’t share oneness. The drink is all that there is. But, instead of sharing the drink, we want to share oneness, experience, the metaphysical, God and rest of things, right? We won’t share the fact. We won’t share the money. We won’t share the clothing. We won’t share the house. But, we would want to share oneness. And, it is easy to share oneness because there is nothing to be shared. So, you can keep sharing it and still feel happy. You know, like a shopkeeper, who is collecting Euros, selling…?
AP: Or, oneness. Instead of sharing oneness, if the drink is wonderful, why don’t you just offer the drink? Yes, that’s better. That’s real.
L: But, I remember it was about the fact; if that was what I felt within me…the oneness within me, was it not, two-ness, as you pointed it out to me?
AP: If it is within you, then it stops the moment you stop. There is something within you, would it exist outside of you as well? You have already said, “It is within you.”
L: I am completely lost, I am completely lost. I have the feeling…
AP: Let us just remain lost. It is wonderful.
AP: So, if there is something within you, within you. What’s within me? Let us say, my intestines.
L: It’s the feeling.
AP: Or, my feeling.
AP: Would my feeling exist outside of me? It’s by definition, within me.
L: No. I can imagine that the same feeling can be outside of me as well. But I am only able to experience it within me.
AP: You see, as a fundamental, just realize that all experience, all experience, is necessarily of the other. That, which you are can have no experience at all.
L: That, I am, can’t have an experience. I don’t understand.
AP: There is nothing there to understand. It is obvious. And there is nothing dangerous in it, either. More than a question of understanding, it is a question of accepting.
L: But, I can’t, I really, I am sitting here like, what are you saying. I don’t understand.
AP: In, what I am saying, there is a danger of something being taken away. You see, I feel that this rose is in front of me, only as long as I can experience it, correct?
AP: If I can touch it, smell it, pick it up, put it in my pocket, see it… I feel assured that it exists, please see
AP: I feel assured that it exists. So, experience gives me a guarantee that the rose, my dear rose, my lovely rose exists.
AP: Yes? So, we have equated existence, with experience.
AP: Now, If I cannot experience this rose, you will very quickly say that the rose…?
L: You can’t even talk about a rose.
AP: It does not exist. You say, “It does not exist.” So, the moment it does not exist, you feel you have lost the rose. That’s our daily experience. That’s the way our system operates.
L: I would say, if I can’t experience the rose, the rose isn’t there for me.
AP: So it doesn’t exist. It is gone. I have lost it.
L: No, I haven’t lost it, because it was never there for me.
AP: Earlier you were able to experience it. Earlier, you were able to experience the rose.
L: Okay, then I understand. Yes.
AP: You were able to experience it, smell it, touch it and see it, all those things. And then you can’t experience it, immediately what do you feel? You have lost the rose. It is no more there. In fact, when we search for something, we only search by way of experience. Let us say, you have lost your watch. When would you claim that you have found out your watch? When you will be able to touch it, see it and again put it back on your wrist. Only then you will be able to experience it.
So, the moment it is said that, God, the most valuable one, the only valuable one, the only one is, beyond experience, quickly we feel that we have lost him. Because, to us, the experience is the only proof of existence. That is the threat contained in what I am saying. That is why one feels lost on hearing what I am saying. But, your internal resistance or lack of admission is coming only because you rely too much on your internal system.
L: Yes, I understand, now I understand.
AP: You say that you will admit something’s existence only if the eyes can see. So, you want to make God an object of experience. So does everybody. And there are entire religious systems that promise you the God experience. And there is a whole marketplace of gurus, who are selling the God experience. That’s what they are selling. They are selling you, your inner insecurity. They are saying, “Whatever exists can be experienced. So, if God exists, God too surely can be experienced, and come to us, we will provide you that experience. That’s the logic. Do you see that now?
L: I see that now, and at the same time, with all experience I have so far in my life, I have felt the presence very much within me.
AP: Yes, again, going to this, what all do you see present here? What all do you see present here?
L: All beautiful people.
AP: Beautiful people and..? Those books, this wall, that plant…
L: I can name them more if you want.
AP: Yes. This mattress and such things, right? So, presence is what you associate with limitations, with objects. Here is a limited body sitting, so you call him present. Here is a limited wall standing, so you call it present. Here is a limited couch, a limited machine, so you call all of these present, what have you done to God?
L: Limited God.
L: Yes, but at the same time, when I say, “I feel a presence,” you say that at that moment I am limiting God already?
AP: Yes, of course, because only the limited can be felt as present.
L: So, when I feel completeness in myself when I feel like, let us say, “This moment feels completely complete,” which isn’t that moment, but let us say, then I am in a limiting awareness.
AP: Whatever you have felt ever, I will go back to my old question, what happened to that completeness?
L: It is like the sea, coming and going.
AP: No, the sea never comes and goes, the waves come and go.
L: I understand, but I am talking about the tides, where it is, coming in short and moving out.
AP: That means you have only experienced the waves, not the sea.
L: Sometimes I have the feeling, this is a game of words, not so much about…
AP: It is not. No, no, it is not. Please see, that any kind of completeness that you can experience, had it been real, it could have never disappeared. Never, never, never disappeared.
L: But, we are here together at this moment. Later on, we will go our separate ways. I don’t see you. So, at that moment, that means that you are not real?
AP: Of course not. That is what happens when you take the teacher for his body. And that is what happens here daily. The moment people are out on the streets, they are no more what they were here. Because they equated the presence, to the presence of the body. They thought Presence means the presence of the body.
L: But then we are talking about the same thing. Because you are saying, when I have a feeling and I experience completeness, then it isn’t complete, you say, as we don’t know where has it is gone?
AP: Yes, of course
L: But that’s the same with…
AP: So, which means, that the teacher is not the body of the teacher. The body has gone away. Which means completeness does not belong to this. This goes away. Whatever is real can never – ever leave you and if it passes away, how can it be complete? You know what complete means?
That, which has no substitute.
For example, the universe – existent metaphor. Can the universe ever pass away? Where would you be located then? If you are there, that means the universe is there. The Total means something that can never ever pass away. It is not at all a function of time. Time may keep passing away. The Total cannot pass away for the simple reason that, the Total is total. And, there is nothing except it. Total means — this, these, as well as that, as well as that (Pointing at different directions) — just everything. Which means it cannot go away. Because, If this goes away, there is no alternative to it. It is the total. The Total.
Had you experienced completeness ever, how could that completeness be ever lost? It went away, which means it was a partiality.
L: I understand.
AP: It was a fragment, right?
AP: The Complete is that which neither comes to you nor does it ever go away.
If you will want that completeness to come to you, then you will also have to bear the pain of completeness deserting you; and mankind has been bearing that pain since long. We don’t need to bear that pain.
AP: We are healthy and joyful, just as we are.
L: So, all that, excluding that we do ourselves, make it impossible to experience totality.
AP: Wonderful, very well said.
AP: Totality is not the experience. Totality is that which enables you to experience. Which means that you don’t have to search for any special experience of the total. Which means that you must have the faith that every single experience that you have is an experience of the Total. Now the Total is actually total because at any given moment, you are living in some or the other experience. And whatever experience you have then, is an experience of the Total. Now you will never be disappointed. Now, the total will never leave you behind.
L: So, the invitation is to totally experience here.
AP: Whatever, whatever, just whatever. Be total in it.
Do not try to experience the Total. Just totally experience whatever is.
AP: These are two very different things, right?
AP: Trying to experience the Total means you are reducing the Total to an object, a limited object. Whereas totally experiencing whatever is, means, you experience whatever is there, to experience. But, you have the Total behind your back, patting, touching you gently, toddling you on and saying, “Go ahead.”
Total, go ahead, experience. The world is yours.
L: I find it such a pity that just for, let us say, for a short period, I can’t be inside of you to experience how you experience this what you are.
AP: At this moment I am only experiencing this conversation. At this moment, these eyes are looking at nothing, except you. So, even if you come inside me, you will only find…
L: I was in me, I understand. But, just the simplicity…apparently of living the way you are living, it is very interesting.
AP: Is it? Of course, it is. See, I am related directly to my vanity, am I not? (Mocking at self). I have no obligation to act like God, right? Just as everybody else is, I too have my own likes and dislikes, pains and pleasures. I live in them. There is nothing special here.
L: But, I can feel that the way we are structured, I would almost put it like that, makes it difficult to grasp this complete refreshing way of being.
AP: There is hardly anything to grasp here. Is there? Seriously?
L: Yes, but there is such a different way.
AP: Yes, it is different. But, it is not much.
L: Not as soon as it is completely rooted
AP: But it is almost like nothing. What will you find to grasp?
L: No, it is letting go of grasping
L: And the grasping is just an addiction.
AP: Yes, yes. Is that not everything?
Not to grasp anything further, but, to just let go off whatever one has already been grasping.
L: Yes, or it is really living from moment to moment and then moment to moment
AP: Yes. Do we have an option… seriously?
L: In our right, we have, in our mind, we have.
AP: Yes, in the mind we have so much; in the mind we have. But, actually, do we have an option, do we have an option?
When I meet students, this is one of my favorite things to ask them. I ask them, can you breathe in the past? Can you breathe in the future? Do you have an option? Do you have an option except living in the moment?
But we make it such a big thing; we make a big virtue of living in the now as if living in the now is something to be attained, something to be practiced and something to be strengthened. You are anyway in the now. Even if you are imagining the past, you are imagining the past in the now. Now, what is the big deal? What is the big deal?
All that we need is certain honesty. We do not need any exploration, you can keep searching all your life, and then for ten more lives, you will not get anything because what you are searching for is the one who is powering the search.
How will you get him outside?
L: You can’t catch him in your net.
AP: You can’t catch him in your net, he is the net and he is the catcher.
How will you catch him?
L: Okay. Thank you.
AP: Thank you.