Questioner: Some teachers say that there is nothing you can do to become enlightened or awake. That there is no choice and no one there to make choice. Is this true ?
Mooji: On hearing this, what was your response ?
Q: actually it was mixed. On one side it felt deeply freeing, simple and natural, followed by a sense of real frustration and anger. Honestly, I felt quite irritated and oppressed by the thought of having no free will. It was very strange.
M: Which of these two responses have remained the strongest with you ?
Q: Well, as I said before, initially the feeling of freedom was strong, beautiful and expansive but short-lived, while the frustration, doubt and confusion have been more lingering.
M: And these feelings have again brought you to satsang, is that right ?
Q: You could say that. Actually, I don’t feel I took any decision to come here. I feel like I was drawn here by some force. When I’m here with you it all feels fine; your words and presence makes me feel secure in this truth. The problem starts when I’m outside in the world. Then I doubt myself. I feel weak, unfocused and lack that conviction I’m feeling now. I need help.
M: Thank you. ‘ I need help’ is the important statement here. It is wise to seek help, until you go beyond the need for help. Not the arrogance which claims ‘There’s no one to be helped, no I, no you. No one exist, only that which Is’, which though true when spoken through the mouth of the sage, is completely false when uttered from the ego mind- the ego rising through the intellect posing as some kind of spiritual hero. This understanding cannot be grafted onto the ego-centred mind, for true understanding dissolves the seeker-ego. There is no one left to claim freedom as an achievement. The one unicity alone exist, manifesting through and as consciousness, it expresses as the cosmic play. It is consciousness expressing itself in the role of the humble seeker who ultimately, through grace, attains ultimate understanding, thus realising itself as the Impersonal Awareness/Being. Your seeking help opens the floodgate of grace which manifest in the form of the ‘teacher’, who is a reflection of your true self, whose authority and presence assists by pushing the externalised mind into its heart source, resulting in final understanding. This grace comes from your own Self and is your Self. You’ve heard the saying ‘ We’re called by our own self’, and yet all this takes place as a mere play in consciousness. The Absolute, One’s real Being- The sat-guru within, does not benefit from, or undergo any change at all, it remains the unalterable substratum or background. This is the truth.
Q: There is joy again, at being reminded of this, perhaps this is the pull of satsang. But I must say, I’m still a little confused about…
M: No ! Stop right there. Actually, ‘you’, what you truly are, cannot be confused. Confusion is a state of mind. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that you feel or notice confusion arising in you ? And that both confusion feeling and comfort feeling are perceived by you, including their effect in the body and the subsequent thoughts and judgements accompanying these feelings. That these are states which come and go in the presence of some background ‘field’ of impersonal intelligence or natural witnessing ?
Q: Yes. There seems more distance in this way of looking. Feels more detached and spacious somehow.
M: Let’s return to your original question ?
Q: Yes, but I would like you to speak more on this point.
M: Ok. Ok, we’ll come back if necessary. In the statement ‘ there’s nothing you or anyone can do to gain ‘enlightenment’ or ‘awakening’. Who or what is it that hears this ? and who or what is the ‘you’ in the statement ?
Q: Myself ! What I am.
M: And what is that ? ( pause.. ) Now you’re wearing ‘thinking eyes’, Don’t think ! Observe !
Q: My mind.. My individuality. My sense of self, I suppose. My intellect ?
M: Musn’t there be something behind which sees the mind, the individuality, the intellect ? From where these very statements are arising, and which remains unaffected, untouched by the functioning of mind, intellect. Are these not phenomena being observed ? Can you confirm ?
Q: Yes, ( nodding slowly) I can confirm this as so.
M: Leaving aside whatever noticeable phenomena arising, turn your attention to the observing itself. What exactly is it that observes ? Is it a person, a thing ? Does it have a form, characteristic or quality ? Is it personal ?
Q: No. No one’s there. Nothing.
M: Are you there ?
Q: Yes. No. I must be. I am in it.
M: What sees or knows this ?
Q: I don’t know. I just know but I don’t know how I know. I am nothing here exactly. I mean no form. Here comes that feeling again. This is what I felt, what I experienced the last time.
M: Don’t cling to this feeling now, let it be. Don’t go to the past, Stay behind. Don’t identify, don’t touch. Observe only, but remain neutral, so that if and when this joyful state subsides, there will be just this noticing remaining. You cannot ‘have’ this or ‘become’ this. No ownership, no achievement, only thoughts and sensations arising spontaneously in consciousness being perceived. You see ?
Q: But I don’t want this to go. Why push it away ? I wish to stay in this always. Isn’t that the point ?
M: That’s precisely what you must do. If it was not here before, it’s not permanent, it belongs to the changeful. It will go. Let it come and go, this is natural and this is freedom itself. Recognise the ‘ I don’t want to push this away’ is also a thought feeling arising, being noticed by something which is beyond coming or going. Be one with that. Don’t chase anything, stay as neutral awareness only. That’s all . What can awareness want ? What does it lack ? What to keep or lose ?
Q: My mind’s gone blank. Sorry, could you repeat ?
M: What is witnessing the blank ?
Q: (pause..) I am. Here again !
M: And again, who or what are you here ?
Q: Just this. There are no words to convey or describe it. Nothing-ness. Emptiness.
M: Is there some sadness ?
M: Happy ?
M: Free ?
Q: No. I wouldn’t use the word ‘free’ even. ( Pause ). No words…
M: Aha ! Very good ! Well done ! That is it ! that’s all, you’ve done it, Excellent ! The exercise is over. Now step out of this and return to your former state so that we may continue with your important questions.
Q: Mmm… That’s impossible ! It doesn’t make sense anymore. Step out and go where ?
M: Here !
Q: There’s not even here !
M: Really ? And what about Now ?
Q: No, not Now either( long pause…) I see clearly now that these are concepts only. There is no doubt about this- The indescribable is behind.
M: This alone is freedom, beyond any concept of freedom. The natural and supreme state of one’s true being.
( The questioner appears to have slipped into a meditative state, his face is motionless, but tranquil…Mooji chuckles.. ).
M: I wanted to talk along the lines of what happens when this ‘enlightenment’ experience fades away, but now it’s impossible to discuss this with him while he’s in samadhi. ( Laughter.. ).
Another questioner: I’ve also experienced this state which he seems to be in right now, that sort of non-experience experience, which lasted for about three or four weeks. I felt totally empty, clear, present, at one with all that Is. Everything was just going on by itself, it was really indescribable and beautiful, but after a while my mind came back, in my case I think even stronger than before. Actually I went into a kind of heavy depression and felt lost for some time. I feel afraid of repeating that experience.
M: Which experience ?
Q: The crazy one.
( Laughter.. ).
M: The real self is the changeless background underlying the changeful phenomena world. It is impersonal Awareness only; Immutable and blissful. In the experiential state it shines as the pure subjective awareness sense ‘I am’. This ‘I am-ness’ is impersonal and synonymous with consciousness- the field of perceiving. It is the direct expression of pure subjectivity. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, the great sage, describes it as like a door which swings one way into the manifestation and the other way into infinity. This expresses it beautifully. All events occur as movements in consciousness and are cognised in and by this conscious presence ‘I am’; this is the ‘witness’ or witnessing principle, which we are, while the body is here.
Q: So are we the body or ‘in’ the body or something separate ? Because…
( The questioner began recalling some experiences and observations…)
M: Leave all this alone for now; just stay open, allowing what is being said to simply be heard in the consciousness without taking hold of any particular thought or idea such as what to do with what’s being heard; let the listening just ‘happen’, as it were. You are there behind the listening mind. Watch the ‘I’- thought, it is not the true ‘I am’. It comes when the impersonal ‘I am’ gets identified with the body, which is merely the instrument through which it is expressing itself, with the aid of the vital force- the animating power. This association gives rise to the ego or individuality- the sense ‘me’. So you see, the individuality sense cannot exist without the supporting impersonal consciousness, and must itself be the changeful expression of that creative consciousness. Only now it operates as conditioned consciousness, believing itself to be the body-mind. Now arises the knowledge of ‘other-ness’ and the basic urge to protect itself; likes and dislikes arise, along with judgements, fear, desires, attachments and the entire play of inter-related opposites. We, as individual/being are fascinated and addicted to experiencing, which is natural and nothing ‘wrong’ in itself, when seen as the play or expression of the manifest consciousness we are. But when seen from the perspective of the individual identity, with its private agenda- Big trouble ! ( Laughter..).
Now listen, there’s nothing in particular to ‘do’ here and no one to do or undo either. Just a change in understanding must happen and everything will be set right. It’s all One. Let’s take the example of the telescopic car aerial, it is one unit- this represents the Absolute. Extend or Pull once- the impersonal ‘I am’ appears; it is still one unit. Pull again – the ‘I’- thought or ‘me’/ individuality sprouts and simultaneously- the personalised world manifestation comes into play. Like Russian dolls- One inside the other, successively- yet one whole ! One unicity expressing as manifest and unmanifest, two aspects of the one Reality. Such is the play in the theatre of consciousness. You are the ultimate witness; Happy, unaffected and whole. You are That ! It’s nothing personal. It’s not a compliment I’m paying you.
Q: Please could you repeat the point about the ‘theatre of consciousness’.
M: No ! I cannot repeat. For now, be attentive, open and present but neutral here, without letting your attention drift off or land on any particular thing. This position I’m inviting you to take. Trust your intuitive listening. It is your mind, appearing as a vigilant seeker, that strives for exactness then gets caught up with the feeling of missing something vital. At this point it is a subtle form of resistance or avoidance. My advice is; If you miss it, simply let it go. All is well for now. The real you is here and behind it all, effortlessly observing; from where the sense of losing and finding arises, is felt, but discarded as ‘not real’- ‘neti-neti’ as the jnanis say. You, as awareness are not any particular feeling. Thoughts and feelings come and go like waves playing on the surface of the ocean. Let everything come and go by themselves, this is natural for waves. Ocean, water, waves- all the same. Stay as witness only. For awareness, nothing is lost or found, or is good or bad. It is the immaculate substratum against which the shadow mind/world of names and forms dance their apparent existence.
Q: But Mooji, surely it is vigilance to make sure we understand correctly, to avoid misunderstanding; especially as all this is new to me, also many scriptures and teachers point to vigilance as a necessary quality or virtue for spiritual growth.
M: That is true if there really is a ‘someone’ who will make use of this understanding. But if you would really investigate, that ‘someone’; the ‘person’, the ‘individual’, will not be found ! All is consciousness only – the ‘you’, the ‘me’, the speaking, listening, satsang, everyone here, everything- all consciousness; this is the wonderful discovery ! Consciousness conversing with consciousness about consciousness through consciousness. How simple ! Yet how baffling when searched for through the ego-mind. Look, I point you to where you are right now, to stay with that, nothing else, but your mind landed on some point of interest to it. While you were engaged with holding onto that, you miss everything else- this is called the play of ‘maya'( The cosmic illusion). It’s like reading a book on exotic fruits and reggae music while strolling through Brixton market ! ( laughter..). One zen master named Bankei said: ‘it’s like a man losing his sword over the side of a ship at sea, and marking the spot on the railing where it fell in the water. ( Big laughter…).
Q: Just now as you said that, everything stopped. I can’t think. There are no thoughts. ( Raising hand to her mouth ) That is amazing !
M: What seeing all this ?
Q: Nothing… I.
M: ‘I’- nothing, witnessing the stopped mind. When mind is stopped, can it be called mind anymore ?
M: And now ?
Q: Silence and peace.
M: For whom ?
Q: Here.. For me.
M: For you ? Are you sure ? What, where and how are ‘you’ exactly in this ?
Q: Not me; just silence and deep peace and a real feeling of gratitude. Is that right ?
M: You tell me.
Q: Yes. Gratitude for hearing and seeing this so clearly. Thank you.
M: You are welcome. Self thanking Self. Very nice !