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ramana maharshi | who am I? | guru | self-enquiry | spiritual instruction | wisdom | words | silence | daily talks | reality | padam - formless self | arunachala
abide in the self | upadesa tiruvahaval | annamalai swami | self alone is real | swami rama tirtha | real self | i am that | practical freedom | sun of self
h.w.l. poonja | freedom now | remembering | meeting ramana | who is aware of consciousness? | who are you? | words | no practice | final abode | lion's roar
eternal rest | peace is always everywhere | plunge into eternity | i am eternal self | summa iru | wisdom | here and now in lucknow | reject everything
ma anandamayi | words | old tcheng | sayings | siddharameshwar maharaj | beyond nothing | perfection of material science | master key | non-action | self
nisargadatta maharaj | words | a great maharashtrian jnani | self-knowledge and self-realisation | meet the sage | detachment | awareness | who am I?
life | "i am" | all is a dream | guru and disciple | ranjit maharaj | meeting siddharameshwar | everything is nothing | forget everything | death is not true
real and unreal | u.g. krishnamurti | natural state | words | remembering | no separation | nothing to understand | chief joseph | way of the warrior
advaita | vedanta | devikalottara | supreme wisdom | atma sakshatkar | direct awareness of the self | vichara mani mala | jewel garland of enquiry
avadhuta gita | ever-free | ashtavakra gita | purest expression of truth | ribhu gita | heart | wisdom | bhagavad gita | essence | the song celestial
adi shankaracharya | atma bodha | aparokshanubhuti | dakshinamurti strotram | dasasloki | nirvana shatkam | drik drisya viveka | vivekachudamani
seng tsan | faith mind | gaudapada | mandukya karika | katha upanishad | death as teacher | yoga vasistha | dispassion | seeker's behaviour | essence
ramakant maharaj | reality has nothing to do with words | lama guendune rinpoché | free and easy | ellam ondre | all is one | william samuel | now



Let there be peace and love among all beings of the universe. OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

who is thinking? | throw away the oars | it's something that is there all the time


UESTION :  I'm not clear how to make the best use of you as my teacher. I want to make the best use of my time here, but I'm not clear how I should use my time. What should I be doing that I am not doing at home?

Papaji: Take care of the purpose for which you have come. First, clarify your purpose. A relationship is not really necessary. That we can look after later. Purpose is the foremost, the most important thing. When you are thirsty, you go to the river. Your purpose is to quench your thirst. It is not to ask the river what kind of relationship you have with it. You don't need a relationship; you only need a purpose.

You came here the day before yesterday and your purpose is to find out who you are. Find this out. Know who you are. If you first know who you are, then you will automatically know who I am. So, your first priority is the question "Who am I?" Once you have discovered that, you will know the real nature of all the other things and people that you see. First start with this question "Who am I?" We started on this question the day before yesterday. You need to recognise your Self. Now, what was that question I asked you to ask?

Question: Who?

Papaji: Yes, what was the full question?

Question: Who is thinking?

Papaji: Yes, this was the question I gave you. I told you to find the answer to this question. I asked you to return home to the Self through asking this question, and then to come back and tell me what you saw there.

Question: What do I see there?

Papaji: Yes, what do you see there? [There was a pause while Papaji wrote "who" on a piece of paper and showed it to the questioner.] What do you see here?

Question: I see a word on a piece of paper.

Papaji: This simple word is your question.

Question: What do I see in here?

Papaji: Anywhere. Wherever the "who" is. Your question is, "Who is thinking?"

Question: I can see the question.

Papaji: Can you see where the question comes from? Focus on this question and look to see where it arises from. Return back to the "who". What do you see there?

Question: I see arising. I see things arising, one from another.

Papaji: Something "arose", that is the predicate. Now, what is the subject? Who is thinking? Return from this predicate of thinking and focus on the "who". This is the finish. Now you are at the root, aren't you? Find out who this "who" is. What is its shape? What is the shape of this "who"? What is its form? How is it? What does it look like?

[long pause]

What is happening?

Question: The question just arises out of nothing, out of Emptiness, and disappears back into Emptiness.

Papaji: That's right. You say this question disappeared into the Emptiness. The question was, "Who is thinking?" For thinking you need a mind, don't you? Now, the process of thinking has been arrested. It happened when you put the question, "Who is thinking?" Now the process has been arrested. Then you said, very correctly, that the question disappears. That's what you said. "There's Emptiness." What else do you say?

Question: It's Emptiness; just empty space.

Papaji: OK, it's Emptiness; it's space. Emptiness is there; space is there. This is your inherent nature. You can call it presence or space or anything else. It is obstructed by desire and by thinking. It is always obstructed by desire. Emptiness is just the lack, the absence of thoughts and desires. When you have a burden on your shoulder, you are restless. Let us say that you are holding onto two hundred pounds and that you want to get rid of this trouble, this burden. When you drop it, you have not gained anything. You have not attained some new state that was never there before. You have simply thrown something away that was troubling you and returned to your inherent nature, the inherent state that was there before you loaded yourself up with this weight.

This thinking process, this burden, is a desire that we always carry with us. I am showing you how to drop this unwanted burden. When you ask the question, "Who is thinking?" you arrest the process of thinking and return back to your true nature, your inherent nature, your spontaneous nature, the pure Source that is empty. This is your own nature, and this is what you are always. The mind does not enter there. Time does not enter. Death does not enter. Fear does not enter. This is your inherent, Eternal nature. If you stay there, there will be no fear. If you step out of it, you step into samsara, manifestation, and there you are in trouble all the time.

Question: I think I have a desire to make a much bigger deal of it.

Papaji: What?

Question: I think I had expectations that it would be some big, great experience, but actually the experience of it is very ordinary. It just feels very clear, very ordinary, and very empty.

Papaji: Yes, from Emptiness everything arises. From Emptiness all this cosmos has arisen, all this manifestation comprising millions of planets and solar systems. All of these millions of planets hanging in space arose from just one thought that arose from this particle of Emptiness. This can happen without affecting the Emptiness at all.

Question: Should I try to stay in the Emptiness? Thoughts arise in the Emptiness. Some of them are attractive; some make me afraid; and some of them are repugnant. I find myself latching onto thoughts and identifying with them. I become those thoughts. I lose sight of the Emptiness and the presence until I can remind myself again.

Papaji: If you remind yourself at that time, all is over, all is gone. The best position to take is that of not forgetting. Just play your role, but don't forget that it is all just a drama on the stage

Imagine a drama company is putting on a play. The person who has to play the servant of the king falls sick at the last moment and cannot come. No other actors are available, so the proprietor of the company steps in to play the role. In the play the king, who is one of the employees of the proprietor, orders the servant around: "Fetch my shoes. I want to go for a walk." The proprietor meekly obeys and carries out the orders, but does he ever forget that he is the owner of the company? He is happy to act the role of the servant because all the time that this role is being portrayed he knows that he is really the proprietor.

If you live like this, knowing that you are the Self, you can act anywhere. If you know this, all your activities will be very beautiful, and you will never suffer. Once you have had a glimpse, a knowledge of this Emptiness, you will be happy all the time because you will know that all manifestation, all samsara, is your own projection.

Where does all this manifestation rise from? When you are asleep, there is nothing there, isn't there?

Question: There's another kind of dreaming then.

Papaji: I am not speaking of dreaming. We can talk about that state later. For now, I'm talking about slumber, deep sleep.

A few years ago I met a team in Rishikesh. Twenty-five people had come from all over the world: psychologists, physiologists, even parapsychologists. They had a very original proposition that they were trying to test: that there are only two states, waking and dreaming. They said that man is either awake or dreaming and that there was really no such state as sleep.

One of them told me, "That is what we are discovering in the West. When we put an EEG on a sleeping person's brain we find that dreaming is going on all the time, even during what appears to be deep sleep."

In India we say that there are five states: waking, dreaming, sleeping, turiya, and turiyatita.

Question: What is that last one?

Papaji: Turiyatita. Waking, dreaming and sleeping are states you understand. After this there is turiya, the fourth state. This is the state in which the previous three appear and disappear. Beyond that is turiyatita, which means "beyond the fourth".

These scientists were going from ashram to ashram, looking for swamis to test with their equipment. Some of the scientists were part of an astronaut-training programme. Apparently, astronauts were not sleeping well in space, so research was going on, looking for ways to improve their sleeping. There was a theory that some kind of meditation or yoga might improve their sleeping patterns.

These scientists were looking for swamis to test. They wanted to put electrodes on their heads while they were meditating to see what happened to the brain waves during meditation. They tried many people and eventually ended up with a man called Swami Rama. When they arrived he was gardening in his ashram. I was not there at the time, so I got this story second-hand.

They approached him very respectfully and explained their purpose. Then they asked him if he would sit or lie down and meditate while they checked out his brain waves.

He replied, "You can attach your wires while I am watering my garden. I don't need to sit down to meditate."

The scientists put wires on his head and discovered that, as the swami had said, his mind was not working while he was engaged in his daily gardening chores. They were so impressed, they took him off for further tests.

If you are knowingly established in the substratum, any amount of activities can go on, and you won't need the mind to do them. The Self will take care of all these things and you will remain in peace at all times.

Let us go back to the three states – waking, dreaming and sleeping – and the underlying fourth state of Emptiness. The three states are projected onto that substratum, that background in which sleeping comes and goes, dreaming comes and goes, and waking comes and goes. There is some substratum, some basic foundation on which they all revolve. That foundation, that presence, that space is always there, but while you are preoccupied with outside things, you forget it.

Now, there are three classes of people. In the first category there are those who never ever forget. Under all circumstances they know that everything is taking place in this substratum. These people are the jivanmuktas, which means that they are fully liberated while they are still alive in their bodies. The second category get themselves into trouble because sometimes they remember and sometimes they forget. Awareness of Emptiness may be there for a while, but then the memory of a friend who has died may rise up and suddenly they are in grief. They have lost the awareness of that Emptiness by attaching themselves to a thought. This kind of "emptiness" is not abiding; it depends on the whims of mental activities. The people in the third category are suffering all the time. They never have even a glimpse of that original space, that emptiness, and so they suffer endlessly. For them, samsara never ends or even stops briefly.

If you are a member of the very exclusive number one club, you know that whatever manifests is an appearance in your own Self. When you wake up, manifestation arises, but you know that it is all a projection. When you sleep, no manifestation is present, but you, your Self, will still remain. Something will still be there while you sleep, and that something is your own Self.

Question: I am not aware of that presence while I am asleep.

Papaji: Yes, it is because "you" are not present. It is the "you" that you live through that decides these matters. For "you" presence is only felt when there is some obstruction to the awareness of the presence.

Question: "When there's obstruction, I can feel presence, but when there isn't, I can't." This sounds very paradoxical.

Papaji: Your sense of being a person is the obstruction. Everything, all your experiences, or the lack of them, are mediated through this idea of individuality. This obstruction rises from the presence and you either feel the presence through it, or you are aware of its absence. The presence is there all the time, but you don't feel it in your deep-sleep state because this mediator, this "I", is not there. You don't know how to be aware of anything when this "I" is absent, so you declare, "Presence is not there when I sleep."

You use this obstruction to validate all your experiences but it has no inherent validity of its own. Shanti, peace, was there before the obstruction arose, and when the obstruction subsides, shanti still prevails. Your inherent nature is this shanti. It is there both when the experiencer is there and when the experiencer is absent.

Question: Yes, it's obvious. A fish swims in water all its life, but it doesn't know anything about water. If you want to teach it about water, you take it out of the water, and immediately it understands what water is and how important it is.

What you are saying is that if there is nothing to interfere with the presence, there's nothing to contrast the presence to. And that means there is no means to know the presence.

Papaji: Here we speak of the fish that is still in the river and which cries, "I am thirsty!" It is ignorance of the underlying substratum that creates the idea of suffering. That space, that Emptiness, is your inherent nature. It is always there.

Question: [begins to laugh uncontrollably]

Papaji: He's a doctor of... [Papaji also starts to laugh]

Question: What a relief! [everyone in the room laughs] I can't believe it's so simple. Hmm. Thank you. Thank you very much. I seem to remember now.

Question: [new questioner, addressing the laughing man] Did you forget? I watch myself and I ask myself questions such as "Who is getting upset?" but I forget all the time.

Papaji: When you say, "I have forgotten", you are not forgetting, you are suddenly remembering. Every time the thought "I have forgotten" arises, that is remembrance.

Question: But there is also a point when you are not even aware that you have forgotten. You just get angry, for example, with no thought of forgetfulness or remembrance.

Papaji: You have a relationship with this entity that is forgetting or remembering. There must be a person who is forgetting. There is a person who is the same whether she has forgotten or remembered. So, the person remains the same throughout the process of remembering and forgetting. Find out the "I" who has the forgetfulness and you will discover the "I" that never forgets. That real "I" is consciousness itself. It will not forget anything. It is presence itself. In that presence you don't forget anything. If light is everywhere, nothing can be hidden because there is no area of darkness where things are not clear. When you return to consciousness, everything will be very clear. Nothing will be forgotten or hidden.

There is the sleep state in which you have dreams, and there is the waking state. These are known to you. But there is something beyond them, and that is consciousness. This is your true nature. You don't have to acquire it, gain it, attain it, achieve it, or aspire for it. Since you have never lost it, you don't have to run after it to get it back. It is here now, and it will always be here. It can't be lost. If it is not here now, what is the use of trying to get it? Whatever you newly acquire you will one day lose.

So look for that which is never lost, which is permanent, abiding, natural and always there, here and now. Look into "now". Look into presence. Look into space. Look into your own Emptiness. Everything is there in this one particle of Emptiness. The whole cosmos is there, the whole cosmos. It emerges from there. Return there and see the Source of all this phenomenon. Then, enjoy life.


Question: Sometimes the awareness is there, but along with it there is still duality. Sometimes I am so intoxicated by the peace. I don't care; nothing seems to matter. At other times, though, it makes me sad that there is still duality.

Papaji: For duality to be there, there must be a substratum of non-duality. For duality to be recognised as duality, there must be a non-duality that is aware of the duality.

Question: It perceives the subject.

Papaji: There should be a basis of non-duality to perceive the duality. There is no question of them being different since one is the basis and substratum of the other. What is the difference? When you see duality, what do you see?

Question: Others. Otherness.

Papaji: Yes, but where does this "otherness" come from? When you sleep, you are alone. When you go to sleep, there are not two people asleep. Only oneness will sleep. When there is something other than you, you can't sleep, you can't be asleep. You have to reject all "otherness" if you want to go to sleep. You have to reject your body, your mind and your intellect in order to go to sleep. Only oneness is there when you sleep.

Now, you are alone in sleep. In that sleep you create a dreamer and manifestation comes back. You see mountains, rivers and forests. Duality is there again. Then sleep comes back and in that state there are no more manifestations and dualities. Return back to this state. Who has created this duality? Who? From where? From where did this manifestation come? Who created it?

Question: There is only one Source for everything.

Papaji: "One Source." If you know there can only be one Source for everything, a place from where so many things come, stay and go, if you really know this secret, how can you be troubled with dualities, manifestations and illusions? How can you be troubled by them? Let manifestation rise, stay or dissolve. This is all your drama, all your cosmic play. If you know this, you will enjoy it all.

[long pause]

You do not need to meditate; you just need to remove all your doubts. Once the doubts have been cleared, you need not do anything. If a lake is full of weeds, you can't see the water. You can't see your reflection in the water, and you can't see the bottom of the lake. But remove all the weeds, and all will be clear.

First, it's absolutely essential that you understand things properly. Once you do, meditation may or may not follow. Just understand things. Be very, very clear about important things, such as who you are. If you haven't got this understanding meditation is just going to be another trick of the mind; it will be an act of postponement.

Don't be deceived. Be very clear about things. That's all that is needed. With a truly quiet mind you can do anything.

Question: Is searching for the "I" compatible with being quiet and thought-free? Or are they two different things?

Papaji: The place of silence is the place where the "I" rises from. If you want to find out the Source of this "I" and be quiet there, first fix its geographical location. Once you know where something is, you can then decide on the best way of getting there. Before you make a decision about whether you should travel somewhere by air, by sea or by road, you have to have a destination, and you have to know where it is. How far away is the destination? What is the starting point? Once you have satisfactorily answered these two questions, it will be easy to decide the best way of making the journey.

Now, this "I", where is it? Start with the body itself. Someone inside a body is saying "I". All your life you are using this word "I". Where is this "I"? Where is it? First of all take note of the fact that it is there in all the three states – "I am awake, I dreamed, I slept." It persists in all these three states, but where does it actually reside? What is its residence? And the person who wants to discover its residence, who is this person? How far away is this person? If the destination, the object of the search, is the "I", how far away from it is he? These things have to be discovered, clarified.

The seeker, through his search, is seeking what? What is doing the seeking? This too has to be ascertained. There is the seeker, there is the search and there is the sought. First, find out the seeker who wants to do the seeking. This is very important.

Question: [the man from New Zealand who burst into prolonged laughter in the previous section] It's as if presence is seeking recognition.

Papaji: [laughing] Very good. Yes, you are coming very close. You are coming very close. You are coming close because you understand that it is just a recognition.

Question: It all seems to arise out of vast, empty space, and then disappear back into it.

Papaji: Seeking is there because recognition is not yet established. The seeker is slowly moving through the search for recognition. It is like looking in a mirror to recognise yourself. You find the mirror, see your reflection in it, and recognise yourself. Once you have recognised yourself, you can throw away the mirror, the search, and the idea that there is something to be sought.

In recognition there is no "who" who recognises, but no one knows this. From time immemorial everyone has been sitting endlessly in meditation. Nobody tells the truth about this process of recognition, about the necessity of it. Prayers are going on in temples and meditations are going on in monasteries, but nobody knows the Truth. Nobody dares even to speak It. Everyone is walking on the beaten track, like a flock of sheep. You have to get off the beaten track. You have to take your own track, perhaps no track at all.

Question: It's so vast!

Papaji: In Emptiness there are no tracks. There aren't any. Wherever you go, Emptiness follows you. And Emptiness leads you. Emptiness is on either side of you, above you and below you. Where can you go where you can leave behind the Emptiness? Where else can you go? In that Emptiness death cannot approach. Gods cannot even approach.

Question: It is. It just is.

Papaji: [laughing] It just is. This Kiwi is very strong [laughter]. It looks slow, but it is very fast. It has been very nice meeting with you. You originally asked about what relationship you had with me. This is the relationship.

Question: I have got my question answered.

Papaji: The answer! This is the only relationship. There is no other relationship that is permanent, not even with the gods. Your parents cannot provide you with this permanent relationship, nor can your priests. This is the only abiding relationship that you must have. This is the one you cannot shun. This relationship will not abandon you, and you will not be divorced from it at any time. All other relationships revolve around self-interest. Every other relationship is motivated by some interest, some desire. This relationship is sweet, very loving, and of excellent beauty. You will not find anything about this relationship in your dictionary. It is not there. I can tell you this because I am very sure about it. This relationship is not known anywhere. All the others are very ugly relationships, very ugly, very dirty relationships.

Question: I start out wanting to use you and finish up by meeting you.

Papaji: Hereafter, throw away your oars. Throw your oars into the river and you will have a very safe passage. You will sail very safely.

Question: I am very fond of the oars.

Papaji: The breeze is there. The breeze will take care of you. Using the oars is a very tiring job. Let the breeze take care of you.

Question: Fear arises when the thought of throwing away the oars appears.

Papaji: This is the right time. When I say, "Throw away the oars," this is the right time to do it.


Papaji: [speaking to a woman who did not seem to be fully aware of what was going on around her because of some internal experience she was immersed in] We were walking together in the garden. Some music was playing. I looked at you and spoke to you, but you didn't hear what I said. You were the only person there who didn't hear me. You weren't taking part in what was going on because you were attending to something else, something inside you that was far more interesting and attractive. It's true, isn't it? Life could go on like this all the time. You could move through it without leaving any footprints.

Question: Footprints?

Papaji: Your mind was not engaging with anything external. You were not taking any serious part in it because you were absorbed. This is how it should happen. Eventually, you will take part, but at the same tine you will not be taking part. This is the technique to adopt. It will come slowly.

Question: This is how I have been feeling for most of this weekend.

Papaji: You are speaking too softly. Come and sit here. I don't want to ask you to repeat everything you say.

Question: [after moving closer] I was going to say that during this weekend I have had the feeling that there is one person who is asking "Who is Susie?" and another one who is just observing the process. Is this what you are talking about?

Papaji: Yes, this is what I am describing. You are in the transit lounge, watching what is going on. Keep on watching. Everyone is agitated in the transit lounge. You know that. There are announcements that people are trying to catch; much activity is going on; no one is just sitting quietly. See what is going on. Observe it, comment on it if you like, but at the same time get clarity in yourself. Now is the time to do this. You have not read about this anywhere. Why? Because it is not written anywhere. It is not something that you can read in books or pick up from other people.

You are seeking clarity, a clarification of the confusion you have become aware of within yourself. It will come in a few more days, and then you can pack up and go. What you are speaking of is a good thing. Something is happening to you. Some dictation is being given to you, and you are following its commands. You are becoming an instrument, an instrument that is being activated by a power that is not your own ego. It will be a very happy life, a very beautiful life. There will be no responsibilities in it. You will be very happy.

Question: I don't think the ego is absent. Is it? It feels like it is still here.

Papaji: In this state it becomes like a burnt rope. You look at it and its shape appears to be that of a rope, but it cannot be used for anything. If you try to pick it up and tie something with it, it disintegrates in your fingers. It seems to be there, but it can no longer be used.

Question: I see. I'll try to tie something with it and see if it is still working.

Papaji: Don't think at all. Just stay as you are. Meditation is going on. It will do its work. Meditation is going on continuously. Do you see? Are you finding it?

Question: Yes, I find that...

Papaji: This is meditation.

Question: It's interesting. It feels like ... some kind of perception ... it's interesting ... some special kind of perception is happening.

Papaji: Yes, that's what I am saying. It's meditation, but it has become effortless. Some concentration is there, but it is not attaching itself to any object, neither an object on the inside nor anything outside. You are not clinging to any object. Have you noticed?

Question: No. It just feels like meditation. I don't really know what's going on.

Papaji: [laughing] Yes, this is what real meditation is like. Usually, there is some attachment to sense objects, a clinging to them, but in this meditation there is nothing to cling to. There is no intention there. That's the important point. When there is no intention, there will be constant meditation. You must be feeling some difference yourself. The mind is quiet. In this state it will be quiet even if you don't meditate. You are somehow different. Haven't you noticed it?

Question: Yes. ... I feel ... I am knowledge.

Papaji: That's what I am saying. This is something that was known to you. It was a knowledge you had before. How to meditate, how to sit. The knowledge is there. It is coming back to you.

Question: I didn't do anything. I didn't sit and I didn't meditate.

Papaji: This is natural meditation. You don't "do" it. It's something that is there all the time. It's called "sahaja", which means "natural". This is sahaja meditation.

Question: Sahaja?

Papaji: Sahaja meditation. This is the natural state. It will become your sister.

Question: This is confusing me, Papaji. You are talking about this, giving a lot of importance to this change. To me it doesn't feel like anything special.

Papaji: This is good. It may not feel special, but it is a special thing to say. [laughter] You didn't say this before, before you came here. At the moment, it is not "special" to you, but if you knew this before, if this "knowledge", as you call it, was there before, then why did you come here?

Question: I don't know.

Papaji: Now you are saying "I don't know." Before you knew all sorts of things. You have nothing to gain any more. Nothing more to get, nothing more to achieve. This is a return to your natural state, a very natural state. Most people can't do this. They don't want to stay as they are. They want to become something else, something they are not, and that makes them disturbed. You are making good statements. "No change." This is very good.

[very long pause]

I was staying in Rishikesh a few years ago when I was visited by a woman who came from Baroda. Have you heard of Baroda? Her husband was a petrochemical engineer. She came to Rishikesh with about fifty other people to attend a yoga course at Sivananda Ashram. They had a very busy programme. They were living in a house that was called "Baroda House". Baroda was once an independent state and this building had been constructed by a member of the royal family so that people who came to Rishikesh from Baroda would have somewhere to stay. It was a very big building.

They had a very busy programme. At 5 a.m. they all had to get up and attend some yoga class. There were talks, lectures and yoga classes for most of the day, but they had some free time after 1 p.m. I was staying in a cottage that belonged to a temple which was up the hill from Rishikesh. This woman came to visit me there during this short period of free time.

She asked the priest of the temple if there was any swami in residence, and he told her, "There is no one in orange robes you can speak to, but there is a man who teaches here who wears western clothes. He is a householder. Some foreign people are staying with him in his cottage. You can go and speak to him there."

She wanted the priest to introduce her, but he said, "No introduction is necessary. Just go there and join the group. No one will mind."

There was something about her face that reminds me of you. She would eat and do things, but her attention was withdrawn into herself. She wasn't really noticing much of what was going on around her. Something was pulling her in, and she wasn't absorbing much from the outside world.

There were seven or eight foreigners with me at the time and we were speaking in English. A few Indians were also there. This woman arrived at my satsang with several other women who were also on the Sivananda Ashram course. She seemed to me to be the leader of the group.

After some preliminary conversation about yoga, a subject she seemed to be quite knowledgeable on, she asked me, "Swami, how does one control the mind?"

This is a standard question that disciples have been asking gurus for thousands of years. In all that period it has never been satisfactorily answered.

Arjuna, in the Bhagavad Gita, had the same problem. "It's just like air," he said. "How can it be controlled?"

Everyone on the spiritual path is obsessed with this particular question, but on this occasion I didn't give any reply. Instead, I asked a girl from France who was staying with me to make some tea for our new guests. The question was repeated, and again I made no reply. After the tea had been drunk she asked the question for the third time, and for the third time I gave no reply. Time was running out for them because they had to return to Sivananda Ashram to carry on with their course. They had been there three days, doing this course, and they had still to complete the course before they could return home.

Just before she left she asked the question one more time, and once more I kept quiet.

The following morning, at a very early hour, she came to see me alone, carrying fruit and flowers.

She gave them to me, saying, "I have found the answer. Even though you never answered my question while I was here, I wanted to come again and repeat it because it was really bothering me. In the middle of the night, at about 1.30 a.m., someone knocked on my door. I assumed it was someone from my group, but when I opened the door it was you."

I hadn't been anywhere that night. I had been asleep in bed when this story apparently took place.

"You came to my door", she continued, "and somehow you gave me the answer. Now I am satisfied. We came here for a month of yoga training as a group. We booked a whole coach on a train and we are all travelling together. I don't want to go back on the coach with everyone else. I want to stay here with you."

I tried to discourage her: "You can continue staying where you are. You can finish your course and then go home to Baroda with everyone else."

"No", she said, "I want to stay here with you."

When I saw that she was determined to stay with me, I asked her to go and see the manager of this ashram I was in since I couldn't let anyone else stay there without getting his permission first. When the manager gave the necessary permission, she moved into a nearby room. Afterwards, she came to my room, sat down and refused to move or even eat. She was absorbed in some inward state and didn't want to bother with the business of ordinary life. She could hear what I was saying, but she didn't feel inclined to stir herself and do anything that I suggested. She did not even speak to me when I asked her to do things.

Her name was Suman. "Suman," I would say, "You are not eating. You have to eat. I will help you."

I put food in her hand but she refused to lift the hand up to her mouth. I had to lift her arm as well and place her hand next to her mouth. She never complained about any of this, but she wouldn't do any of the work herself.

I made her open her mouth to put the food in, and then I told her, "That's all I can do for you. You have to do the munching and swallowing yourself. I can't do that for you."

She gave me a lot of trouble for two days. She sat there for this whole period, day and night, just staring vacantly and not responding to any of the suggestions that I gave her. I couldn't make her go back to her room. She just sat on my floor and refused to move. There were seven or eight of us staying there at the time. We had four rooms between us. I had a room to myself and the others shared the other three rooms. The manager knew me and usually gave me these rooms every year for three months. It was a good place – up in the mountains, away from the town of Rishikesh.

I wanted to send this woman home to her family, but I knew that in her current state I would have to make all the arrangements myself. I took her in a taxi to Haridwar, purchased a first class ticket to Baroda, bought some sweets to give to her children, and gave her a bottle to Ganga water to take back for anyone who wanted some. I tried to make her eat at the station, but she wasn't interested.

She tried to give me all her money, saying, "I don't need this any more. I will keep five rupees for the journey. I can get a taxi at the other end and my family can pay for it when I arrive home. Now, everything I have belongs to you. I want you to take it all."

I refused to take it. Since I could see that she was in no fit condition to look after herself, I spoke to the man who was sharing the first class carriage with her. I had found out her family's phone number, so I gave it to the man in the carriage.

"When the train reaches Baroda," I said, "please call this number and make sure that someone comes to collect her. Otherwise she will just wander around and get lost."

When I explained to the man in the carriage that Suman was having problems looking after herself, he promised to take care of her until her family could take delivery of her in Baroda. Since the train stopped for twenty minutes at Baroda, there would be enough time to make all the arrangements.

"Will she eat?" he asked, and I replied, "If you put some food in her hand and tell her to put it in her mouth, chew it and swallow, she will probably do it. But don't worry if she doesn't eat. She can easily last until her family comes. There is nothing physically wrong with her. She is just very absent-minded at the moment. Her attention is elsewhere."

Everything went according to plan and she arrived safely at her house. Her husband sent me a telegram, thanking me for all the trouble I had taken to get her home. He even invited me to come and stay with them. Suman had apparently told him that if I didn't come to them, she would leave and look for me.

This was a very rare case. Someone who got it instantly from the teacher. She came with a burning question – "How to control the mind?" – and without my saying anything she experienced the state in which mind no longer needs to be controlled. It is the state of no-abiding, the state in which the mind does not abide anywhere. There have been two or three cases like this; they are not common.

I accepted the husband's invitation and went and spent fifteen days with them. Then I took her to Bombay where I visited some other devotees.

These things do sometimes happen very quickly. In some people it doesn't happen at all.

There is a never-ending cycle of birth and death. What is birth and what is death? They are desire. This never-ending cycle is fuelled by desire, the desire to enjoy sense objects in a body. When desire ceases, this cycle also ceases. This apparently endless cycle of birth and death ends with the cessation of desire. It is not only birth and death that end. When desire ceases, the universe itself ceases. It is as if it never existed. That's how it is.

Question: [new questioner] I have a question about the mind. It seemed to me this morning that the mind is not just something that one needs to disengage from. It seems that it can take me to wherever I need to go.

Papaji: Mind can be the enemy and mind can also be the friend. It is the mind that binds and it is the mind that liberates. When the mind is attached to objects, which are transitory and impermanent, this is the mind that binds. This is the mind that is an enemy. But a mind that does not abide anywhere, on any object, is a mind that is your friend. This is the mind that liberates. It all depends on you, on what kind of company you keep in your mind. Mind can destroy you, but mind can also be of great help. There is a tremendous power in the mind, a power that you can make use of. When the mind is at rest, it gives us peace. But when it is restless, it creates all this samsara, this suffering, this hell. A peaceful mind brings heaven down to earth. It brings peace everywhere. In that state, wherever you walk, that place will be heaven. This is the mind.

Question: It seems to me that there is a choice. The mind can decide whether to create a heaven or a hell. At any given moment that choice is there.

Papaji: Yes, that is your own choice. You have to decide these things for yourself. You can decide, "I am bound; I have to suffer", and this creates samsara. Alternatively, you can say, "I want peace. I want freedom. I want happiness. I want love." When you move in this direction, what a beautiful choice you have made! Make it! "I want freedom! I want to be free! I want happiness! I want love!" Do it now, today, or at least some time during your span of life. Have a good mind, a friendly mind.

Question: [new questioner] When mind is not abiding, does mind still exist?

Papaji: No. When a desire arises in the mind, there arises with it an intention to enjoy sense objects. When this happens you are involved in their enjoyment. The mind works through the senses; the senses move out to objects that they can enjoy. All these things manifest once desire and intention arise. Your intention makes the mind the agent for the various enjoyments it indulges in. In the middle of all this is the ego, the enjoyer of all the objects that are being pursued and enjoyed. If the ego remains still, mind itself does not arise. It does not cause any trouble. It will not abide anywhere, and with no place to abide, it will return to its Source, to the place of no-mind. In that place there will be no mind.

You can function without this mind. You can function very well without it. Earlier today this girl was talking about how this can work. She was talking about the state in which no mind does the work. What did you say? Can you repeat it again?

Question: [the woman who reminded Papaji of Suman] I was saying that there is an actor and the observer.

Papaji: Yes, this is how it is. Can you explain it a little more?

Question: It feels as if there is an actor and an observer in the same person. And the body just seems to act by itself.

Papaji: The body is acting and the observer is different from it. The body is receiving direct instructions, but not through the ego. The "I am the doer" idea is not there. When the doer is not there, one is not responsible for one's actions. No karma is formed in this state. This is no mind. You can work very well without this mind.

Question: [new questioner] Why does mind arise again afterwards?

Papaji: If you are careful and vigilant in this state, it is not mind that rises again. Something else is going to rise in its place. What's that "other"? Now, you only know about the mind. You don't know about what is beyond it. When mind has gone, when mind is finished, you no longer have desires, and when you don't have desires, you return to the Source. In that Source something else will animate you, something that you have not been aware of before. You can call it prajna, wisdom or pure consciousness. It will look after you, and It will do a very good job. When pure consciousness runs your life, you will just be its instrument. This was explained well in the Gita. Arjuna surrendered his mind at the feet of his master, and then allowed the prajna to dictate his actions. The command to fight started with the direct command from Krishna. That command worked through Arjuna and carried him through the battle. This word, this state of being dictated by the Divine can only be known after freedom.

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