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Can another dispel the darkness in oneself?
Swami Venkatesananda: I have come to you Krishnaji, as a humble seeker comes to a guru, not in the sense of hero-worship but in its literal sense, as the remover of darkness of ignorance, which the word ‘guru’ stands for. Gūkārashcha andhakārashcha rūkārastanirodhakah. Andhakār vināshitvāt gururitya vidiyaté. ‘Gu’ stands for the darkness of ignorance and ‘ru’ stands for the remover, the dispeller. Hence the guru is the light that dispels the darkness of ignorance and you are that light for me now. We sit in the tent listening to you, and I cannot help visualising similar scenes. For instance, Buddha addressing the Bhikshus, or Vasishta instructing Rama in the royal court of Dasaratha. Thinking of these gurus we have a few examples in the Upanishads: first there was Varuna, the guru, he is very much like you. He merely prods his disciple with the words ‘Tapasā brahmavijidnyāsaswā tapo brahmeti’.
Krishnamurti: Tapo Brahmeti.
SV: Tapo Brahmeti. What is Brahman? Tapasā Brahma Vyijnāsaswā. Don’t ask me. Tapo Brahman – tapas or austerity or discipline or what you often say, ‘Find out’, is Brahman. And the disciple himself discovers the truth, though by stages. Yajnyavalkya and Uddhālaka adopted a more direct approach. Yajnyavalkya instructing his wife Maitreyi, uses the neti-neti method. You cannot describe Brahman positively, but when you eliminate all the others…
K: It is there.
SV: …it is there. As you said the other day, love cannot be described ‘this is it’, but only by eliminating what is not love. Uddhālaka used several analogies to enable his disciple to see the truth and then nailed it in with the famous expression ‘Tat-Tvam-Asi’. Dakshinamurti instructed his disciples by silence and Chinmudrā. Chitram vatarormulé vriddhāh shishya gūrūryūvā. Gurostū maunam vyākhyānam shishyāstuchhinna sanshayah. It is said that the Sanatkumārās went to him for instruction, and this young… When I read the descriptions of what Krishnamurti was when he was a young age, I am often reminded of that. These old sages went to him and Dakshinamurti just kept silent and showed the Chinmudra and the disciples looked at him and got enlightened and it is believed that one cannot realise the truth without the help, or whatever you call it, of a guru. Achāryavān Purusho Veda. Obviously even the people who regularly come to Saanen are greatly helped in their quest. What according to you is the role of a guru, a preceptor or a teacher or an awakener?
K: Sir, if you are using the word guru in the classical sense, which is the dispeller of darkness of ignorance, can – we’re enquiring – can another, whatever he be, enlightened or stupid, another, really help to dispel this darkness in oneself? Suppose ‘A’ is ignorant and you are his guru – guru in the accepted sense, one who dispels darkness and one who carries the burden for another, also, one who points out – taking all the meaning of those three – one who points out, one who carries the burden, one who dispels darkness – that’s a guru – can such a guru help another? Or rather can the guru dispel the darkness of another? – not theoretically but actually. Can you, wait sir, can you, if you are the guru of so-and-so, of someone, can you dispel the darkness of another, for another? Knowing he is unhappy, confused, not enough brain matter, not enough love, sorrow – you follow? – all that, can you dispel that? Or has he to work tremendously on himself? You may point out, you may say, ‘Look, go through that door,’ but he has to do the work entirely from the beginning to the end. Therefore, you are not a guru in the accepted sense of that word, if you say another cannot help him.
SV: There is just this, ‘if’ and ‘but’. The door is there, I have to go. But there is this ignorance of where the door is…
K: You point it out.
SV: …which you, by pointing out, remove.
K: Ah, I have to walk there!
SV: I have to walk, I’ll walk.
K: Sir, you are the guru and you point out the door. You have finished your job.
SV: Yes. So that darkness of ignorance is removed.
K: No, your job is finished. It is now for me to get up, walk, see what is involved in walking and I have to do all that.
SV: That is perfect.
K: Therefore you don’t dispel my darkness!
SV: I am sorry. Now I don’t know how to get out of this room.
K: You point it out.
SV: So that I am ignorant of the existence of a door in a certain direction and the guru removes the darkness of that ignorance. And then I take the necessary steps to get out.
K: No, let us be clear. Ignorance being lack of understanding, or lack of the understanding of oneself, not the big self or the little self. The door is the ‘me’ through which I have to go. It isn’t outside of ‘me’. It isn’t a factual door as that painted door. It is a door in me through which I have to go. You say, ‘Do that’.
K: And you, as a guru, have finished. You don’t become important. I don’t put garlands around your head. You’ve finished. So I have to do all the work – all the work! You have not dispelled the darkness of ignorance. You have, rather, pointed out to me that, ‘You are the door through which you yourself have to go through’.
SV: Quite, but would you, Krishnaji, accept that that pointing out was necessary?
K: Yes, that is of course, I point out, I do that. We do that at the tent. We all do that. I ask a man on the road, ‘Will you please tell me which is the way to Saanen’, he’ll tell me; but I don’t take the time, the devotion, the love and say, ‘Oh, my God, you are the greatest’. That is too childish!
SV: Thank you, sir. Closely related to what the guru is, is the question of what the disciple is. The disciple is ‘discipline’ which you defined as learning. Vedanta classifies the seekers according to their qualifications, or maturity, and prescribes suitable methods of learning. The disciple with the keenest perception is given instruction in silence, or a brief awakening word like Tat-Tvam-Asi. He is called Uttamādhikari. The disciple with the mediocre ability is given more elaborate treatment: Madhyamādhikari. The dull- witted is entertained with stories, rituals, etc., hoping for greater maturity – Adhamādhikari he is called. Perhaps you will comment on this system?
K: Yes, sir. The top, the middle and the bottom, quite. That implies, sir, we have to find out what we mean by maturity. Right?
SV: May I, perhaps, explain that?
K: Yes sir, please sir.
SV: You said the other day, ‘The whole world is burning, and you must realise the seriousness of it’. And that hit me like a bolt – even to grasp that truth. There may be millions who just don’t bother.
K: There are… of course, they are not interested.
SV: They are not interested. Those we shall call the Adhamā, the lowest. There are others like the hippies and so on who are interested in it, who just play with it, who may be entertained with stories and who may tell you, ‘Look, we know we are all unhappy. We know the whole society is in a mess, we take a drug, LSD shot and we go into Elysium, we don’t want anything else’ (laughs) And there may be others who respond to that idea, that the world is burning, and that immediately sparks them. That’s the top.
SV: We find them everywhere. How to handle them?
K: Aha, how to handle the people who are utterly immature, those who are partially mature, and those who consider themselves mature.
SV: (Laughs) Correct, absolutely.
K: Now to do that, what do we mean by maturity? What do you think is maturity? Does it depend on age, time?
SV: No, I wouldn’t say so. No.
K: So we can remove that. Time, age is not an indication of maturity. Or the maturity of the very learned.
SV: No, no, no.
K: No, we can remove that. Or the maturity of the man who is highly, intellectually capable.
SV: No, he may twist and turn into whatever...
K: Therefore we will consider he is not mature. Then whom would you consider as a mature, ripe man?
SV: The man who is able to observe.
K: Wait. Sir, go a little more… a little more. What would you consider… Obviously the man who goes to churches, temples, mosques is not; the obvious things are not. So what would one consider a mature man? Maturity, he is mature – not intellectual, not the emotional, not who plays intellectually and all the rest of it. We would say, if we eliminate all that, maturity consists in being not self-centred – right? – not ‘me’ first and everybody else second, or my emotions first. So maturity implies the absence of the ‘me’.
SV: Absence of fragmentation, to use perhaps your word.
K: Yes. Yes. The ‘me’ which creates the fragments. Now, how would you appeal to that man? And to the man who is half and half, ‘me’ and ‘not me’, plays with both, and the other is completely ‘me’, who enjoys himself. How do you appeal to these three?
SV: How do you awaken these three, in other words.
K: How do you awaken these three?
SV: That is the problem.
K: Wait! The man who is completely ‘me’, there is no awakening, he is not interested. He won’t even listen to you. He will listen to you if you promise him something: heaven, hell, fear or more profit in the world, more money; but he will do it in order to gain. So the man who wishes to gain, achieve, is immature.
SV: Quite right, absolutely.
K: Right? Whether nirvana, heaven, moksha, or attainment, enlightenment, he is immature. Right? Now, what will you do with such a man?
SV: Tell him stories.
K: No, why should I tell him stories, why should I befuddle him more with my stories or with your stories or his stories? Why not leave him alone?
SV: It seems too cruel.
K: Cruel on whose part? He won’t listen to you. Let us be factual, sir. You come to me. I am total ‘me’. You follow what I mean? I am not concerned with anything but ‘me’, and you say ‘Look, you are making a mess of the world, you are creating such misery for man’, and he says, ‘Please go away. I am not interested’.
SV: Yes, but that’s why they don’t say it like that.
K: No, no, no! Put it any way you like; put it in stories, cover it with pill, sweet pills or anything, but he is not going to evolve, he is not going to change the ‘me’. If he does, he comes to the middle – the ‘me’ and the ‘not me’. This is called evolution. The man who is the lowest reaches the middle.
K: By knocking. Life teaches him, forces him. Wars, hatred – you follow? – he is destroyed. Or he goes into a church.
SV: That’s where we’re going to differ.
K: No, therefore the church is a trap to him. It doesn’t enlighten him, it doesn’t say, ‘For God’s sake, break through,’ but it says, ‘We will give you what you want – entertainment, Jesus entertainment, or Hindu entertainment, or Buddhist, or Muslim or whatever it is – we will give you entertainment, only in the name of God’ – you know all the stuff. So they keep him at the same level, with a little modifications, a little bit polish, a little bit more culture, a little better clothes, eat properly – you follow me? – consider a little bit, not too much, others. That is what is happening. So he probably – as you said just now – eighty per cent of the world, more, more, perhaps, ninety. And you have the churches, the temples, the mosques, the Buddhist shrines and so on. What can you do? I won’t add to it, I won’t tell him stories, I won’t entertain him; because there are people who are already entertaining him.
SV: Ah. Thank you.
K: So why should I join that group? Then there is the middle one, the ‘me’ and the ‘not- me’, who does social reform, a little bit of good here and there, but always the ‘me’ operating. Socially, politically, religiously, in every way, the ‘me’ is operating, but a little more quietly, a little more polish, a little more in the cellar. Now, to him you can talk a little bit, say, ‘Look, social reform is all right in its place but it leads nowhere’, and so on, so on, so on. You can talk to him. Perhaps he will listen to you. The other one will not listen to you at all. This chap will listen to you, pay a little attention and say, well, this is too serious, this requires too much work, and slips back into his old pattern. And, we will talk to him and leave him. What he wants to do is up to him. Now, there is the other one who is getting out of the ‘me’, who is stepping out of the circle of the ‘me’. There, you can talk to him. There he will pay attention to you. So one will talk to all the three, not distinguish who’s mature, who’s not mature. We will talk to the three categories, the three types, and leave it to them.
SV: The one who is not interested, he will walk out.
K: He will walk out of the tent, walk out of the room. That is his affair. He goes to his church, entertainment, football, or whatever it is. But the moment I say ‘You are mature and I will teach you more’...
SV: He is boosted up.
K: Not only he is… (laughs) He becomes the… The seed of poison is always there. Sir, it’s like if the soil is right, the grain will take root. And if I say, ‘You are mature, and you are not mature’, that is totally wrong. Who am I to tell somebody, ‘You are mature’? It is for him to find out.
SV: But can a fool find out that he is a fool?
K: If he is a fool he won’t even listen to you. You see, sir, we start out with the idea of wanting to help.
SV: Yes, yes, that is what we are basing the whole discussion upon – so far.
K: We want to help people. I think that approach is not valid, except in the medical world or in the technological world it is necessary. I am ill, I go to the doctor to be cured. Here, psychologically, if I am asleep, I won’t listen to you. If I am half awake, I will listen to you according to my vacant state, or moods, according to my ups and downs. Therefore, there is the one man who says, ‘I really want to keep awake, keep psychologically awake’, to him you can talk. So we talk to all of them and not say, ‘Well…’
SV: Thank you. That clears a big misunderstanding. When sitting alone, I reflected over what you had said earlier in the day. I cannot help the spontaneous feeling. ‘Ah, the Buddha said so’, or ‘Vasishtha said so’, though immediately I endeavour to cut through the imagery of the words to find the meaning. You help us find the meaning, though perhaps that is not your intention. So did Vasishtha and the Buddha. People come here as they went to those great ones. Why? What is there in human nature that seeks, gropes and grasps for a crutch? Again, not to help them may be cruelty, to spoon-feed them may be greater cruelty. What to do?
K: Quite. The question being, why do people need crutches?
SV: Yes, and whether to help them or not.
K: Yes. That is it: whether you should give them crutches to lean on something.
SV: Two questions.
K: Why people need crutches, and whether you are the person to give crutches.
SV: No, you should or not.
K: Should or not, and whether you are capable. Those three are involved in it. Why do people want crutches, why do people want to depend on others, whether it is Jesus, Buddha, ancient saints, why?
SV: First of all, there is something that is seeking, which seems to be good.
K: Is it, is it? Or is it their fear of not achieving something which the saints, the great people, have pointed out? Or the fear of going wrong, of not being happy, of not getting enlightenment, understanding, whatever you call it?
SV: (Laughs) May I quote a beautiful expression from the Bhagvad-gita? Chaturvidhā bhajanté maam janāh sukritinorjūnah. Arto jignyāsurarthārthi dnyanicha bharatarshabha. Krishna said, in the Gita he said four types of people come to me, ‘ārto jignyāsurārthi, jnyani’. Arta, the one who is in distress; he comes to me for the removal of distress. Jignyāsu, the one who is a curious man; he just wants to know what is this God, what is this truth, and is there heaven and hell. Arthārthi, he wants some money. He also comes to God and prays to God for a little more money: I am a millionaire, let me become a multi-millionaire. And the Gyani, the wise man. Teshām dnyāni nityayūktah ek bhaktir vishishyate. All of them are good – he seems to cover the whole lot with a nice, lovely blanket – all of them are good because they are all, somehow or the other, seeking God. Teshām dnyāni nityayūktah ek bhaktir vishishyate. Of all these, I think the Gyani is the best one. So the seeking may be due to all sorts of reasons.
K: Yes, sir. What are we saying? Why do we seek? Then, why does humanity demand crutches? Those two questions. Now, seeking. Why does one seek, and why should one seek at all?
SV: Why should one seek? Why does one seek?
K: Why does one seek and why should one seek at all?
SV: Why should one seek? Because one finds something missing.
K: Which means what? I am unhappy and I want happiness. That is a form of seeking. I don’t know what enlightenment is. I have read about it in books and it appeals to me and I seek it. Right? And also I seek a better job, because there is more money, more profit, more enjoyment and so on. In all these there is seeking, searching, wanting. I can understand the man wanting a better job, because society is so monstrously arranged, as it is. But psychologically, inwardly, what am I seeking? And when I do find it, in my search, how do I know that what I find is true?
SV: Perhaps the seeking drops.
K: Wait, sir. How do I know in my search and say, ‘This is the truth’? How do I know? Can I ever say ‘This is the truth’? Therefore why should I seek it? So what makes me seek? I know we are seeking. So what makes me seek is a much more fundamental question than the search, and saying, ‘This is the truth.’ If I say, ‘This is the truth’, I must know it already.
SV: Yes, quite right.
K: If I know it already, it is not truth.
SV: Why should I seek?
K: It is something dead, past, which tells me that is the truth. A dead thing can’t tell me what is truth. So why do I seek? Because, deeply I am unhappy, deeply I am confused, deeply there is great sorrow in me and I want to find a way out of it. You come along as the guru or as an enlightened man, or as a professor and say, ‘Look, this is the way out.’ The basic reason for my search is to escape from this agony and I posit that I can escape, and that enlightenment is over there, or in myself. Can I escape from it? I can’t escape in the sense avoid it, resist it, run away from it; I can’t, it is there. Wherever I go, it is still there. So what I have to do is to find out in myself the cause – not the cause – why it has come into being, why I am suffering. Then, is that a search? Oh, no! I want to find out why I am suffering, that is not search.
SV: Quest, perhaps.
K: No, no. It is not even a quest. It is like going to a doctor and saying I have tummy ache, and he tells you, look, you have eaten the bad kind of food, and you’ll have tummy ache. So I will avoid it. If the cause of my misery is in myself, not necessarily created by the environment in which I live, then I have to find out how to be free from it for myself. You may point out as the guru the door, but as soon as you have pointed out, your job is over. Then I have to work. Then I have to find out what to do, how to live, how to think, how to feel this way of living in which there is no suffering.
SV: Then to that extent the help is justified – the pointing out.
K: Not justified, you’ll naturally do.
SV: Supposing the other man gets stuck somewhere, that as he goes there he knocks against this table...
K: Ah, wait a minute. He must learn that the table is there. He must learn from here when going towards the door the obstacle that is in the way.
SV: He doesn’t know.
K: Ah, he’ll find out. If he is enquiring, he will find out. But if you come along and say, ‘There is the door, there is the table, don’t knock against it’, you are treating him just like a child leading him to the door.
SV: That is spoon-feeding.
K: There is no meaning to it.
SV: So that much of help, the pointing out help, is justified, not more.
K: It’s inevitable, sir. Any decent man with a decent heart will say, ‘Look, don’t go down there, there is a precipice’. If a man insists upon going there, he has to learn. I once met a very well-known guru in India. He came to see me. And it was quite an odd performance he put up. There was a mattress on the floor and we said to him politely, ‘Sit on the mattress, sir’. He sat down and assumed the position of the guru, put his stick in front of him, you know, (laughter) and began to discuss. And he said, ‘We need guru because we know better than the layman; why should he go through danger? We will help.’ Regular arguments. And it was impossible to talk with him because he had assumed that he knew and everybody else was in ignorance.
SV: (Laughs) That’s very good. But then he can do nothing with those ignorant people.
K: I said so. So at the end of ten minutes he left, rather annoyed because we didn’t, you know…
SV: That is one of the things for which Krishnaji is famous in India! Every swami… (laughter) Next. While you rightly point out the utter futility of blindly accepting formulas and dogmas, you will not ask for their summary rejection – summary rejection. While tradition can be a deadly block, it is perhaps worth understanding it and its origin; else we might destroy one tradition and an equally pernicious one might spring up.
K: Quite right.
SV: Hence may I offer a few traditional beliefs for your scrutiny so that we may discover where and how what you called ‘good intentions’ veered towards hell – the shell that imprisons us?
K: Right, so what is the question, sir, now?
SV: Each branch of Yoga prescribed its own disciplines in the firm conviction that if one pursued it in the right spirit one would end sorrow. I shall enumerate them for your comments.
Karma Yoga: it demanded Dharma, or a virtuous life, which was often extended to include the much-abused Varnashrama Dharma. Krishna’s dictum ‘Swadharmé nidhanam shreyah, paradharmo bhayāvahah’ seems to have indicated that if a man voluntarily submitted himself to certain rules of conduct, his mind would be free to observe and learn with the help of certain Bhāvanās. Would you like to comment on this idea?
K: What is Bhāvanā, sir?
SV: That we’ll discuss next. Now first, the concept of Dharma and rules and regulations: criminal code and (laughs) ‘do this’, ‘this is right’ and ‘this is wrong...’
K: Therefore which means really, you lay down…
SV: Somebody lays down.
K: Doesn’t matter, X lays down what is right conduct.
SV: And one who voluntarily adopts that.
K: Yes, yes, yes. There is a teacher who lays down what is righteous behaviour, and I come along and voluntarily, to use your word ‘voluntarily’, take to it, accept it. Is there such a thing as voluntary acceptance, first? Should you lay down what is right conduct, should the teacher lay down what is right conduct, which means he has set the pattern, the mould, the conditioning? You follow the danger of it? He has laid down the conditioning which produces right behaviour, which will lead him to heaven.
SV: That is one aspect of it. The other aspect which I am a little more interested in, is if that is accepted, then the psychological apparatus is free to observe, is free to learn.
K: I understand. No, sir. Why should I accept it?
SV: Just to free this…
K: Ah, no, wait a minute, first of all you are the teacher. You lay down the mode of conduct. How do I know that you are right? You may be wrong. I am not – please…
SV: Yes, yes, yes.
K: You may be wrong. And I won’t accept your authority. Because I say, sorry, I see the authority of the church, the authority of the priest, the authority of the gurus, they have all failed. Therefore, a new teacher laying down a new law, I would say, ‘For God’s sake’, (laughs) ‘you are playing the same game; I don’t accept you’. But if I voluntarily accept it, is there such a thing as voluntary acceptance, voluntary, free acceptance? Or I am already influenced, because you are a teacher, you are the great one, and you promise me a reward at the end of it, unconsciously or consciously, therefore I ‘voluntarily’ – quotes – accept it. I don’t accept it freely. If I am free, I don’t accept it at all. I live. I live righteously.
SV: So righteousness must come from within.
K: Obviously, otherwise what else, sir? The whole study of behaviour, what’s going on – they say outward circumstances, environment, culture, produce behaviour, certain type of behaviour. That is, if I lived in Russia, the communist environment with its domination, with its threat, exposure, going to the concentration camps, will make me behave in a certain way; I’ll put on a mask, frightened, I’ll behave in a certain way. In a society which is more or less free, where there are no rules, because nobody believes anymore in rules, where everything is permitted, there I play.
SV: Now, which one is more acceptable from the spiritual point of view?
K: Neither. Because behaviour, virtue, is something which cannot be cultivated by me or by society. I have to find out how to live rightly. Because virtue is something which is not accepting of patterns and following a deadly pattern of routine. Goodness is not routine, sir, surely?
SV: Quite right.
K: If I am good because my teacher says I am good, it is meaningless. Therefore there is no such thing as voluntary acceptance of the righteous behaviour which is laid down by a guru, by a teacher.
SV: One has to find it.
K: Therefore I begin to enquire, I begin to look, I begin to find out how to live. I can only live when there is no fear.
SV: Perhaps I should have explained that this Karma Yoga according to some, to Sankaracharya, it is meant only for the lower…
K: You see I… sir, I don’t know what is low and high.
SV: That is the one who is not quite mature.
K: Mature – (laughs) that’s it. The mature, the immature and the totally immature. And therefore Sankara, X Y Z says, ‘Lay down the rules for the lowest or the middle’, and they don’t do it! You follow? They read the books of Sankara, or some pundit reads to them, and they say how marvellous it is and go back and live their own life. You know that sir, this is an obvious fact! You see it in Italy. They listen to the Pope, and nobody cares either – they listen most earnestly for two or three minutes and go on with their life, daily life as they live it; it does not make any difference.
K: That is what I want to ask: why do the so-called Sankaras, Gurus, lay down laws at all about what is behaviour.
SV: Otherwise they think there will be chaos.
K: But there is chaos!
SV: (Laughs) In any case.
K: There is terrible chaos in the world. In India they have read Sankara and all the teachers for ten thousand, or five thousand years. Look at them!
SV: But perhaps, according to them, the alternative is impossible.
K: What is the alternative? Confusion. And which is what they are living in.
SV: (Laughs) So that is not an alternative.
K: So why not understand the confusion in which they are living instead of studying Sankara? If they understand the confusion, they can change it!
SV: Perhaps that leads us on to this question of Bhāvanā where a bit of psychology is involved. Coming now to the Sādhanā of Karma Yoga, the Bhagavad Gita prescribes among other things the Nimitta Bhāvanā. Nimitta mātram bhava savyasāchin. Bhāvanā is undoubtedly being, literally, and Nimitta Bhāvanā is being ‘an egoless instrument in the hands of God’ – quotations – or the Infinite Being. But it is also taken to mean an attitude or a feeling in the hope that it will help a beginner observe himself and thus the Bhāvanā will fill his being. Perhaps it is indispensable for people of little understanding; perhaps it will permanently distract them by self-deception. But how can we make this work?
K: The question is, sir, you are asking…
SV: There is this technique of Bhāvanā.
K: That implies, sir, a system, a method, a method by the practice of which, you reach ultimately enlightenment – let’s call it for the moment – God, or truth or anything. Therefore: practise in order to come to God or whatever it is. The moment you practise a method, what happens? I practise day after day the method laid down by you. What happens to me?
SV: There is a famous saying, ‘As you think so you become’. Yad bhāvam tadabhavati.
K: No, wait, I think that by the practice of this method I will reach enlightenment. So what do I do? Every day I practise it. I become more and more and more mechanical.
SV: But there is feeling.
K: Mechanical! The mechanical routine is going on with the feeling added, ‘I like it’, ‘I don’t like it’, ‘it is a bore’, ‘it is a trial’, ‘I have to pray’ – you know, there is a battle with it going on. So anything I practise, any discipline, any practice in the accepted sense of the word makes my mind more and more narrow, limited, dull. And you are promising at the end of this, heaven. So you are saying, become dull to achieve heaven. I say it is like the soldiers are being trained day after day, day after day – drill, drill, drill – till they are nothing but instruments of the officer or the sergeant or whoever it is. Or give them a little initiative. So we are questioning – at least I am questioning this whole approach of system and method towards enlightenment. Even in factories sir, a man who merely moves a button or pushes this or that he does not produce as much as the man who is free to learn as he goes along.
SV: Can we put that into this Bhāvanā?
K: Why not?
SV: Then it works.
K: That is the only way! That is real Bhāvanā: learn as you go along. Therefore no method. Therefore keep awake. Therefore be alert as you go along. I take a walk and if I have a system, a method of walking, and I am concerned with that, then I shan’t see the birds, the trees, the marvellous light on the leaf, nothing. And why should I accept the teacher who gives me the mould? He may be as peculiar as I am. And there are teachers who are very odd.
SV: Yes, yes.
K: So I reject all of that.
SV: But the problem is again of the beginner. K: Who is the beginner? The immature one?
SV: Practically. (Laughs)
K: Therefore you are giving him a toy to play with? SV: Some sort of opening through which...
K: Yes, a toy, and he enjoys that toy. He says, I am practising all day, and his mind remains very small.
SV: Perhaps that is your answer to this Bhakti Yoga question too. But again, somehow they wanted to help these people to break through.
K: I am not at all sure, sir. I am not at all sure.
SV: I will discuss this Bhakti. Coming to Bhakti Yoga, the Bhakta is encouraged to worship God even in temples and images, feeling the Divine presence within. In quite a number of our mantras, it is repeated again and again and again, ‘You are the All Pervading... you are the Omnipresent’, etc. Krishna asks the devotee to see God in the objects of nature and then as the ‘All’. At the same time through japa, or the repetition of a mantra with the corresponding awareness of its significance – tajapas tadārtha bhāvanam – the devotee is asked to perceive that the divine presence outside is identical with the indwelling presence. Thus the individual realised his oneness with the collective. Is there anything fundamentally wrong with this system?
K: Oh, yes, sir! (Laughs) Sir, there is a whole… the Communist block doesn’t believe in God at all.
SV: They may not have used that word.
K: They have put the State or… they don’t believe in that at all. They are selfish, they are frightened, but there is no God, no mantras, etc. Another does not believe in any of that, doesn’t know mantras, repetition, japa and all the rest of it. He says, ‘I want to find out what truth is. I want to find out if there is God at all. There may be no such thing.’ And the Gita and all they assume that there is. They assume there is God. Who are they to tell me there is or there is not, including Krishna or X Y Z? I say it may be your own conditioning; you are born in that peculiar climate, with that peculiar tradition, with that peculiar attitude and you just believe in it. And then you lay down rules how to get it.
But if one rejects all authority, including the Communists, including the Western and the Asiatic authority – all authority, then where am I? Then I want to find out. I am unhappy, I am miserable.
SV: But am I free from conditioning? No.
K: That is my business, to be free. Otherwise I can’t learn. If I am still a Hindu for the rest of my life, I am finished. The Catholic remains a Catholic and the Communist is equally deadly. So is it possible – that is the question really: is it possible to reject all conditioning which accepts authority? Can I really reject all authority and stand alone to find out? And I must be alone. Otherwise, if I am not alone in the deeper sense of that word, I am just repeating what Sankara, Buddha, or X, Y, Z said – repeat. What is the point of it, knowing very well the repetition is not the real? So, mustn’t I – mature, immature, or half mature, semi mature – mustn’t they all learn to stand alone? It is painful because they say, ‘My God, how can I stand alone?’ – to be without the children, to be without God, to be without the Commissar? So there is fear.
SV: But you think every one can work out this fear and get out of it?
K: Why not, sir? If you cannot, then you are caught in it. Then no amount of Gods, and mantras, and tricks will help you. They may cover it up. They may bottle it up. They may suppress it and put it in the refrigerator. But it is always there.
SV: Now there is the other method, of standing alone: Rāja Yoga. The student is asked to cultivate again certain virtuous qualities which, on the one hand, make of him a good citizen and on the other, remove possible psychological barriers – possible.
SV: The Sādhanā, which is mainly awareness of thought which includes memory, imagination and sleep, seems to be close to your own teaching. Seems to. Asana and Pranayama are auxiliaries, perhaps. And even the Dhyana of Yoga is not intended to bring about self-realisation, which is admittedly not the end product of a series of actions. Krishna clearly says that Yoga clarifies perception: ‘Atma Shuddhayé’. Do you approve of this approach? It’s purely… There is not much of help here involved; even Iswara he says is only ‘Purusha Visheshaha’. It is not a guru – invisible in the indwelling presence.
K: Yes, sir, what is the question then?
SV: Do you approve of this approach? There is the method of sitting in meditation and trying to dive deeper and deeper, and finding yourself.
K: Now wait. One has to go into the question of meditation.
SV: Yes. And Patanjali defines meditation as, ‘The absence of all world idea or any extraneous idea.’ That is ‘Bhakti Sunyam’.
K: Look, sir, I haven’t read a thing. Patanjali…
SV: You are Patanjali.
K: No. I’ve never read anything, except as I told you, a little bit of the Bible as a literature because very good English, that’s all. Now, here I am: I know nothing. I only know that I am in sorrow and I have got a fairly good mind – right? – and I have no authority – Sankara, Krishna, Patanjali – nobody, because I am absolutely alone. You follow? I have got to face my life and I have got to be a good citizen – not according to the Communists, or the Capitalists, or the Socialists. Good citizen means behaviour, which is not different in the office and different at home. Right? I want to find out first how to be free of this sorrow. That’s one. Then, being free, I shall find out if there is such a thing as God, God or whatever it is.
SV: Self or whatever it is.
K: Whatever it is. So how am I to learn to be free of this enormous burden? That is my first question. I can only understand it in relationship with another. I can’t sit by myself and dig in because I may pervert it because my mind is too silly, prejudiced. So, I have to find out in relationship – with nature, with human beings – what this fear, this sorrow is, in relationship only, because if I sit by myself I can deceive myself very well. There, in being awake in relationship, I spot it immediately.
SV: If you are alert.
K: Therefore that is the point. If I am alert, watchful, I find it out; and that doesn’t take time to find out.
SV: But if one is not?
K: Therefore, the problem is to be awake, to be aware, alert. Is there a method for it? Follow it, sir. If there is a method which will help me to be aware, I practise it: is that awareness? Because in that is involved routine, acceptance of authority, repeating, repeating, repeating, which is gradually making my alertness dull. So I reject that: the practice of alertness. So I say by Jove, I can only understand sorrow in relationship and that understanding comes only through alertness. Therefore, I must be alert. I am alert because my demand is to end sorrow. Therefore I must be alert. If I am hungry, I want food and I go after food. In the same way, I discover there is the enormous burden of sorrow in me and I’ve discovered it through relationship – how I behave with you, how I talk to people – you follow? In that process of relationship, this thing is revealed.
SV: But in that relationship you are all the time self-aware, if I may put it so.
K: Yes, yes, I am aware, alert, watching.
SV: Is it so easy for an ordinary person?
K: It is, if the man is serious and says, ‘I want to find out.’ The ordinary man, sir – eighty to ninety per cent – he says, ‘I am not really interested, what are you talking about. Go away, I want to be entertained’ – by the Gita, by the Bible, by the church, by Jesus, by Buddha. ‘I want to be entertained’ – football. ‘I don’t care’. But the man who is serious, he says, ‘I will find out, find out – not just invent – I want to see if the mind can be free from sorrow’, you know. And it is only possible to discover it in relationship. I can’t invent sorrow. In relationship sorrow has come.
SV: But sorrow is within.
K: Yes, sorrow is within. Naturally, it is a psychological phenomenon.
SV: You wouldn’t want a man to sit and meditate and try to sharpen?
K: Therefore let us come back to the question of meditation. What is meditation? – not according to Patanjali. I don’t read. I don’t want even to know what they think because they may be totally mistaken. And I might be mistaken when I say I know how to meditate. So I have to find out, I have to say, ‘Now what is meditation?’ What is meditation – sitting quiet, concentrated, controlling thought?
SV: Watching, perhaps.
K: Watching. You can watch when you are walking…
SV: (Laughs) Difficult unless you….
K: …eating, when you are listening to people, when somebody is saying something that hurts you, flatters you. That means, you have to be alert all the time – when you are exaggerating, when you are telling half-truths. You follow? So, to watch you need a very quiet mind. There it is. That is meditation. The whole of that is meditation.
SV: To me it looks as though Patanjali evolved an exercise for quietening the mind, not on the battlefield of life, but start it when you are alone and then extend it…
K: To the battle.
SV: …to the battle, to the relationship.
K: But if you escape from the battle...
SV: For a little while... (laughter)
K: If you escape from the battle you have not understood the battle. The battle is you. How can you escape from yourself? You can take a drug, you can pretend that you have escaped, you can repeat mantras, japa and do all kinds of things, but the battle is going on. Therefore, first you say, ‘Get away from it quietly, and then come back to it.’ That is a fragmentation. We are suggesting: ‘Look at the battle, you are involved in it, you are caught in it: you are it.’
SV: That leads us to the last: you are it. (Laughs)
K: You are the battle.
SV: You are it, you are everything, you are the battle, you are the fighter, you are away from it, everything. That is what perhaps Gnana Yoga implied, suggested. According to Gnana Yoga, the seeker is asked to equip himself with the four means: Viveka, seeking the real and discarding the false; Vairāgya, not seeking pleasure; Shat Sampath, which meant in effect living a life conducive to the practice of this yoga; and Mumukshutvā, a total dedication to the search of Truth. The disciple then approached a guru and his Sādhanā consisted of Shravana – hearing; Manana – reflection; and Nididhyāsanā – assimilation, which all of us do here. The guru adopted various means to enlighten the student, which usually implied the realisation of the All or the Whole Being. Sankara describes it thus: Brahmasatyam jagan mitthyā jivo brahmaiva nā parah. ‘The infinite alone is real, the world is unreal. The individual is non-different from the infinite,’ So that there is no fragmentation there. Sankara said that the world is Maya by which he meant that the world-appearance is not the real, which one has to investigate and discover. The Upanishads envisioned the Truth in the following Mahāvākyās, Prajnyānam brahma, consciousness is the Infinite. Aham brahmāsmi. I am the Infinite. Or, ‘I’ is the Infinite. Tattvamasi. Thou are That, Ayamātmā brahma, the self is Infinite. Even these should lead to Cosmic Consciousness, or realisation. Sarvam khalvidam brahma deh nā nāsti kinchana. Everything is the All – is the Brahman, All is the Infinite. The Infinite is Infinite. And its active manifestation in daily life which Krishna thus describes in the Gita: Brahmārpanam brahma havirbrahmāgnou brahmanāhūtam brahmaiva tena gantavyam brahmakarma samādhina. ‘The yogi is then aware that the action, the doer of the action, the instruments involved, and the object towards which the action is directed, are all one whole’ and thus fragmentation is overcome. How do you react to this Gnana Yoga method? First there is this Shatsampat, Sadhana chatūshtaya which the disciple prepares himself for it. Then he goes to the guru and sits and hears the truth from the guru and then sits and reflects over it and assimilates the truth, till it becomes one with him; and the truth is usually said in terms of these formulas. But these formulas we repeat they are supposed to be realised. Has this perhaps some validity?
K: Sir, if you hadn’t read any of these – none of these: Rājayoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakti – everything, Patanjali, Shankara – nothing! What would you do?
SV: Perhaps I would have had to find out.
K: What would you do?
K: Which you are doing anyhow. What would you do? Where would you start? – knowing nothing about what they have said, including what the Communist leaders have said – Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and all the butchers. I haven’ t read a thing, I don’t want to know. I am here, an ordinary human being. Where am I to begin? I have to work
– Karma Yoga, I have to work: in a garden, as a cook, in a factory, an office, I have to work. And also there are the wife and children: I love, I hate, I am a sexual fiend, because that is the only escape offered to me in life. There I am. That is my map of life and I start from there. I can’t start over there; I have to start here and I say to myself, what is it all about. I know nothing about God. They can invent, they can pretend – I have a horror of pretending. If I don’t know, I don’t know. Full stop. I am not going to quote Sankara, Buddha, or anybody. So I say: now this is where I start. Can I bring about order in my life? – order, not invented by me or by them, so that order is virtue. Can I bring it about? And to be virtuous there must be no battle, no conflict in me or outside. Therefore, there must be no aggressiveness, no violence, no hate, no animosity. I start from there. And I find out I am afraid. I must be free of fear. To be conscious of it is to be aware of all this, aware where I am, and from there I will work, move. And I find out I can be alone – not carry all the burdens of memory, of Sankaras, Buddhas, Marx, Engels. You follow? I can be alone because I have understood order in my life; and I have understood order because I have denied disorder, because I have learnt about disorder. Disorder means conflict, acceptance of authority, complying, imitation, all that is disorder, the social morality is disorder. Out of that I bring order in myself; not myself as a potty little human being in a backyard, as a human being.
SV: How do you explain that?
K: This is a human being who is going through this hell. All of us are going through… Every human being is going through this hell. So if I, as a human being, understand this, I have discovered something which all human beings can discover.
SV: But how does one discover again that one is not…
K: …deceiving oneself? Very simple. First, humility: I don’t want to achieve anything.
SV: I do not know if you have come across people who say, ‘I am the humblest person in the whole world’. (Laughs)
K: That is all too silly, those are appalling crowds.
SV: How does…
K: I know – desire for achievement is not.
SV: But when one is in it, in the soup, how does one know?
K: Oh, yes, you do know. When your desire says, ‘I must be like Mr Smith who is the Prime Minister, or the General, or the Executive Officer’, then there is the beginning of arrogance, pride, achievement. When I want to be like the hero, when I want to become like the Buddha, when I want to reach enlightenment, when desire says, ‘Be something’. And desire says in being something there is tremendous pleasure.
SV: But have we still tackled the root of the problem?
K: Oh, yes, I have.
SV: No, no, in all this.
K: Yes, ‘me’ is the root of the problem. Self-centredness.
SV: But what is it? What does it mean?
K: Self-centredness? I am more important than you – my house, my property, my achievement – you follow? – me first.
SV: But the martyr may say, ‘I am nothing, my Lord, I can be shot.’
SV: The martyr.
K: No, they don’t. ‘I can be shot’ – they are silly as to be shot. I don’t want to be shot!
SV: They may say they are completely selfless, unselfish.
K: Who? I am – sir, I am not interested in what somebody else says.
SV: He may be bluffing himself.
K: As long as I am quite clear in myself I am not deceiving. I can deceive myself the moment I have a measure. When I compare myself with that man who has a Rolls- Royce, or with the Buddha, or with Marx. Comparing myself with somebody is the beginning of illusion. When I don’t compare, why should I, I am what I am. I move from there.
SV: To be the self.
K: Whatever I am; which is: I am ugly, I am battling, I am full of anger, full of deception, this, that, and fear and all that. I start from there and see if it is at all possible to be free of all this. Without that my thinking about God is just like my thinking about climbing those hills, which I never will.
SV: But even then you said something very interesting the other day: the individual and the collective are one.
SV: How does the individual then realise that unity with the collective?
K: But that is a fact. Here I am living in Gstaad; somebody living in India, he has the same problems, the same anxiety, the same fear, only different expressions of it but the root of the thing is the same. That is one point. Second, the environment has produced this individuality and the individuality has created the environment. My greed has created this rotten society. My anger, my hatreds, the fragmentation of my life has created the nations, you know – all this mess. So I am the world, the world is me.
Logically, intellectually, verbally, it is so.
SV: But how does one…
K: Feel it?
K: That comes only when you change. When you change, you are no longer a national. You don’t belong to anything.
SV: Mentally I may say I am not a Hindu, or I am not an Indian.
K: But, sir, mentally – that is just a trick. You have to feel it in your blood.
SV: If you will please explain what that means.
K: What it means is, sir, when you see the danger of nationalism, you are out of it. When you see the danger of fragmentation, you no longer belong to the fragment. Don’t you? That’s all. We don’t see the danger of it!
SV: Thank you.
K: No, sir, please, sir.