"Ignorance means nothing, zero."
What is ignorance? Ignorance means the Self not knowing Itself. Everything is the Self, so ignorance is also the Self; it is the "not-knowingness of the Self." It is like a veil that the Self draws over Itself. We cannot say that ignorance does not exist, because it has this veiling effect. Neither can we say that it does exist, because ignorance is a state of zero. Does zero exist? It is useful as a concept in mathematics and logic, but in itself it is nothing.
Ignorance is not opposed to ordinary knowledge, because the two can coexist; that is, there is knowledge of one's own existence and ignorance of one's true nature at the same time. The two: knowledge and ignorance, go together like twin brothers. What is ordinary knowledge then? Knowledge is the awareness of individual existence-"I am, and I am aware of it." This ego-knowledge is generally what Maharaj meant when he used the word "knowledge."
"Don't go back to ignorance. Ego is ignorance."
Once you have heard the Master's teaching and begun to accept it, don't leave it. Let that process of ripening come to fruition in you. You need time to reflect and meditate on what the Master has said, so that those thoughts can penetrate and in effect become your own thoughts. Don't go back to ignorance by imagining that you know best, that you can do anything by yourself, or that you can get liberation by any means other than whole-hearted commitment. This is all ego. The ego is the embodiment of ignorance. Don't resist the process that is happening. Hold fast to the knowledge given by the Master until it frees you absolutely.
"Be ignorant to the world and knowledgeable to the reality."
This is a very tidy and symmetrical sentence that puts knowledge and ignorance in the right perspective. The world, in the everyday sense of a collection of an infinite number of objects separate from "I," is itself the product of ignorance. That perception of the world is untrue, it does not retain its meaning for the person with Self knowledge. So ignorance, or forgetfulness, is appropriate with regard to that so-called world. Reality, on the other hand, is existence itself. To be knowledgeable to that reality is to be That. Real knowledge is Self-knowledge. Anything else is knowledge of something that does not exist.
"I am an ignorant person. I know that I know nothing."
Maharaj liked to refer to the well-known statement of Socrates, who came to the conclusion that he knew more than his contemporaries because he, at least, knew that he knew nothing, whereas they deluded themselves into believing that they were knowledgeable. If all you know relates to what doesn't exist, then what do you really know? If the "I" that you take yourself to be is itself not real, and that "I" is the knower, then how can "you" know anything? When these ideas penetrate and stay in the mind, then you become what Maharaj playfully refers to here as "an ignorant person." You are aware that the knowledge you had all amounted to nothing. Then you are ignorant in the right way. In fact, you have some real knowledge.
"Power is knowledge. Knowledge is power."
Power is the power of reality, the divine Shakti, or Brahman's power of Maya. This power manifests as that knowledge or "I-amness" that all sentient beings experience. Before Self-realization occurs, this power of knowledge is perceived through the filter of the concept of individual "I" or ego. Essentially, the Self splits Itself into two: "I," and the power. The result is that there is a relative experience of reality. You perceive a reflection of reality, not the absolute reality itself. "I" is like the image of the sun reflected in a bucket of water. The bucket of water is the mind and its thoughts, so that the clarity of the reflection of reality is determined by the quality or purity of the thoughts. Hence the emphasis on purification of the mind in the philosophy and practice of yoga.
As long as you are an aspirant, you have this kind of relationship with the divine power. You may conceive of this power as God, in whatever form you wish, or you may consider the guru to be the embodiment of that power. However you conceive of it, the power always has the same divine attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence in relation to yourself, which you continue to consider as separate from that power. You worship the divine power and pray to it. In fact, this one power is the recipient of all the worship of all the devotees of all the diverse religions of the world.
As the mind becomes purified through practice (sadhana), you may have various kinds of experiences of closeness or union with this power. However, it remains separate from you because of the veil of ignorance. Finally, when the Self realizes Itself, you understand that the power is yourself, that there is no divine power apart from yourself, that you are that One that you were seeking, worshipping, and praying to. Then you become knowledge itself, and you are present in all beings, everywhere. That is Self-knowledge and that is the end of the search.
"The power doesn't know anything. Doesn't know "I'm power."
It is ironic that the God we are praying to does not know who we are, does not distinguish the saint from the sinner. Why? Because it is only a power-a tremendous, divine power that has the effect of drawing all creatures back to It as the source of everything-but It is not a knower. The individual human being is the knower, and the individual human being is an illusion. "We" do not exist as individuals because the whole process is the Self seeking Itself in order to unite with Itself.
The realization of that fact is not there during the search. What "we" are in reality is knowledge itself. That knowledge or power does not know any objects. Only the human mind knows objects. As humans, we project this kind of knowing onto the divine and so create a God in our own image. This is a comfortable point of view, but it is one which ultimately gets given up in the final understanding of the non-dual nature of reality.
"With that power I see. Power doesn't see."
"Seeing" occurs in the waking state. It is a physiological function, involving lenses and color filters, the nervous system, and the brain. All the senses operate in a similar fashion. The power makes them work, but the power does not see or hear, touch or taste. Electricity makes a computer work, but electricity does not produce the text on the screen or calculate the numbers. The computer's hardware and software does that.
"I am the power that is in the body."
Identification with the body makes you feel that the thoughts are "my" thoughts and that the sense perceptions are "my" perceptions. Actually the body and mind are lifeless. There is nobody there! There is no individual person. The so-called individual is only a concept of that inert body and mind. "I" actually refers to the power that happens to be in the body. This "I" is also everywhere else, giving life to all the bodies and all the minds. How can "I" be everywhere? "I" as an individual cannot, but that "I" has never existed. The real "I" has always been everywhere as the eternal subject. Only the concept of individual existence was wrong.
"Go to the root of the mind. Mind and knowledge do not remain."
If the Self does not have a concept of its own existence, then it essentially does not have a mind. That does not mean that the Self does not exist, only that there is no conceptualizing in it. The individual person and the whole world that appears to that individual are built out of concepts and are based on the fundamental concept "I am." One's very existence as a person is based on a concept. There is therefore a great fear of losing that concept, which is called the fear of death. All such problems arise from the identification of the Self with a concept. But that concept of individual existence arose for reasons that cannot be known to the individual mind, because the mind is itself a product of that arising. The Self was already there. That was your condition as an infant. You had no knowledge of your own existence. That knowledge was there only as a seed, as potential. It didn't bother to ask you if it was OK with you if it appeared and sprouted into a complete world-picture. Now that it has appeared and "you" have appeared along with it, "you" must return to that condition before the seed sprouted. Then, mind becomes no-mind and there is no longer any "you." The Self remains at peace, resting in Its true nature.
The power is also not true."
If you look up at the sun, you feel its power as light and heat. That power is true for you. If you are the sun, you don't feel any light and heat. That power is not true for you. Maharaj is speaking here from the point of view of the sun, which symbolizes the Absolute reality.
"Knowledge is never satisfied. It wants to know more and more."
It is the nature of consciousness to create more and more forms, in order to have more and more experiences. Knowledge is like a power that makes everything run on and on. Living forms are born, experience according to their functions, and then die, only to be replaced by more complex forms with more refined functions that allow for more sophisticated experiences. So consciousness develops minerals, plants, animals, and finally human beings, "the crown of creation." Still the power continues, evolving more and more intelligence in the human being, gathering more and more information, more and more knowledge about what is not true in a constant search for happiness and fulfilment. When will it stop? Only when it receives real knowledge that explains its true nature as reality and it is able to accept and understand that knowledge. Then, at last, it ceases its movement and merges itself in its source.
Doubt is ignorance, nothing else."
Self-knowledge that is beyond any doubt is a characteristic of a realized person, but as long as you are an aspirant, you cannot know with absolute conviction who you are. Therefore, you are subject to doubts, such as "How can I be reality?" Doubt is, in fact, nothing else than the absence of that knowledge of "Who am I?" Absence of Self-knowledge is therefore one definition of ignorance. Doubt is the very nature of the terrain that you are traversing on your way to Self-knowledge.
"I don't know anything. I know Him only."
The knowledge that you have is not "your" knowledge. You are knowledge itself and you don't have any knowledge of facts or things. The "real" knowledge that the Master gives has the purpose of breaking the identification with the body and making you realize yourself as universal consciousness, as "He." You are He, and you know yourself by being yourself. Then you can say "I don't know anything. I know Him only." All other knowledge is false and, at best, of temporary usefulness.
"When I want something more, I have forgotten myself."
Why do we want something? Because we think that object will make us happy. Why do we think like that? Because we have forgotten that we are already happiness itself, that happiness and completeness is our true nature as reality. It may seem strange to see the word "forgotten" used here, because it may seem that reality has never been known. However, that is not true. You do know your true nature all the time because you are that reality. Forgetting means ignorance. As long as ignorance remains, it acts as a veil to keep reality unknown. All the moments of happiness and fullness that you do have are made possible by the temporary disappearance of the ignorance that is embodied as the ego. Naturally, you seek more of these experiences, until, eventually, you come to understand the reality behind them. Then you are satisfied with That.
"Do things, anything, no harm, but do not forget yourself."
If you are an actor in a play, you do everything written for your character to do, but you don't forget yourself and mix yourself up with the character. You may kill or be killed in the play but you still know that your wife or husband is sleeping soundly in bed at home. This statement from Maharaj is not an exhortation to make some kind of effort to "remember yourself" in the sense of "being in the moment" and so on. Anything that can be remembered or forgotten cannot be real. This is really a statement about Karma yoga, like those in the Bhagavad Gita. As an aspirant, when you perform actions, if you remember that the divine power is doing everything for you, you will develop devotion and the ego will be weakened. Later, you understand that the actions have always been performed by that power without there ever having been any "doer."
"Reality has no duty."
Electricity has no obligation to the appliances that it supplies with power. A human being may have many notions about God's responsibilities and duties but they are only the result of wishful thinking. Man's God often wears a human face and has human traits and human failings. Such a God is expected to indulge his devotees by fulfilling their desires. In fact, God has no duty. Great faith may result in a divine vision, but it is the power of faith that produces it and it is not God's obligation to respond. The power remains as power. It makes everything happen, but it does not take part in the drama.
I am only a thought, and thought is wrong."
Self-realization or enlightenment is actually a very simple thing, really nothing special. The only thing that happens is that a wrong concept goes off. What is that wrong concept? The concept that there was somebody there who had something to gain. The spiritual search ends with the understanding that there is nobody to understand. "I," the one who was seeking, was only a thought. All thought was wrong that was based on that illusion. "I" actually refers to the One who was being sought. It was the Self seeking Itself all along. Now it knows Itself as the subject.
"You have to go beyond zero. You have to go beyond the space."
Mere absence of thought does not put you into reality. Thought is the subtle body and absence of thought is the causal body, which is a state of pure ignorance, or zero. When there is no thought, you simply don't know anything. You are not self-aware. It is the same as being deeply asleep. The causal body is like a gap between the world of objects and the Self. You have to go beyond zero, beyond space, to realize the Self. Space is more subtle than objects because it pervades them, objects appear in space. It is more subtle than thought, for the same reason. However, you, as pure awareness, are subtler than space. You pervade it. You are aware of it. It appears in your awareness.
When you realize that you are the One who is aware even of the zero-space, in which there is nothing, then you have reached the mahakarana, or supra-causal, body. The characteristic of this body is that consciousness is self-evident. It shines by its own light. This condition is described in the Mandukya Upanishad, where it is called The Fourth, because it is beyond the three states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep.
The Fourth, the Self, is OM, the indivisible syllable. This syllable is unutterable, and beyond mind. In it the manifold universe disappears. It is the supreme good-One without a second. Whosoever knows OM, the Self, becomes the Self.
Be out of your thoughts and then you can understand the reality."
True being is beyond the level of thought, and beyond the level of absence of thought. Meditation is extremely useful for coming to this understanding. In meditation, using the mantra given by the Master, you can cross the sea of thoughts and arrive at the calm harbor of the causal body. From here, it is only a step to reach the shore of the Self. Through meditation, initial understanding and experience of one's true being comes in a conscious way. It puts thoughts into perspective, so that you find yourself better able to be out of them during the ordinary circumstances of life as well.
Understand I am the root of happiness and the ego is the root of unhappiness."
It is the most extraordinary and inexplicable irony that you are happiness yourself and yet, because you do not realize it, you seek for it outside. The happiness (ananda) that you naturally are, if you only knew it, is the ultimate happiness-a joy and fullness that never changes and is never diminished. What else could you possibly want? And yet even sincere seekers cannot accept that this happiness is already theirs. They continue to entertain doubts about that final understanding. Often, the ego takes the blame, as though the ego were some powerful demon that had its own strength and its own will. The ego is the source of unhappiness, yes, but you only give it greater strength by believing in its power. In fact, it has no power. It is a false God, the false "I" that is born out of ignorance of reality. Reality is the true "I," the existence that you already know as Being and as happiness itself.
"Knowledge is the greatest ignorance."
Out of ignorance, knowledge has emerged. The thought comes "I am a person." The Self has identified Itself with the form and the name. The game goes on in this way, life after life, as long as ignorance remains. Happiness remains elusive, appearing tantalizingly for a short while, then receding again, leaving only a nagging desire for more. Desires are pursued, ends gained, something is won and something is lost. Death silences the person, which disappears as mysteriously as it appeared. Another person appears, lives a little time, and then also vanishes. This is the nature of knowledge. To take it to be true is the greatest ignorance.
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