To exert an effort of any kind, one must be there, is it not? That is, “I” must exist, first and foremost, inorder to be able to make an effort of any kind, or experience ego, or, the absence of it. So, when one asks, “how does meditation kill the ego?”, how does one relate to the notion of ego, in one’s consciousness? Is it something, other than what you are as the self? The self being the higher consciousness, or God, or whatever. Or, is the self itself, the ego?
If one says, the self is different from the ego, the self is the absolute consciousness or God, etc, and one becomes that, once the ego is killed, then, what is stopping God, who is all perfect, the absolute consciousness, from killing the ego in a second, if it were so, that such a state exists as the underlying substratum in one’s consciousness? Sir, can Truth ever have anything to do with the False? If you wish to kill ego, you surely think that there is something higher, which is the real, which is what you really are? And, in that thought, it the “YOU”, the “I”, that is striving to become something else, clothed in a different name, as Paramatman, Absolute Consciousness etc, is it not? For as long as there is the striving, the effort, the “I”, continues to thrive, it derives its continuity, in the very effort, does it not? That is, “I”, have to be there to meditate to kill the ego, is it not? While you are there, how can you kill it?, the ego doesn’t kill itself, it looks for ways of further deception to make believe, that now there is no ego, whatsoever. So, while there is a belief, an experience, a notion, a concept, an idea, there is a believer, an experiencer, a thinker, a judge, an analyser, that continues to exist. In other words, they are all one and, they are none other than, “YOU”, the “I”, ego, disguised, as an experiencer, a believer, a thinker, a judge, an analyser etc.
If you say, on the otherhand, the self and the ego, are one, how does one go about killing the ego? You cannot go about it surely, in anyway, as anything you do, will only further strengthen “you”. So what is one to do, sir? If one says, that they know that the ego and the self, are one and the same, in that knowing, there is an entirely different kind of inner revolution, is it not? To draw a parallel with a common metaphor, when one sees for oneself that the rope was always a rope and that it was mistaken for a snake, the illusion ceases on its own, provided one actually sees it physically for oneself. If one thought of it as a mere metaphor, in one’s mind, without actually seeing the rope for oneself physically, then, its quite possible that one might think that the rope was always the rope, that it was mistaken for the snake, therefore, the snake was always the rope. Do you get this? Does one see how easy it is for the mind to yet again distort what is, to what it might be? The rope was just the rope, the snake never existed, not that therefore, the snake was always the rope! To think the snake was always the rope is the same as saying, the snake existed except that it’s original form was that of rope, is it not? Does one see the absurdity of interpretation and belief, without actually knowing for oneself, knowing it as a fact, and not merely as knowledge, based on hearsay, as to what is truth, and, what is illusion. One can only find out for oneself, but how is one to do it, sir, without making an effort?
To face the fact of something, one must have no distortion whatsoever about it, is it not? That is, no preconceived ideas, beliefs, faith, opinions, judgments, prejudices, conditoning, etc. It is only in the absence of these can one come face to face with the fact of something. And when you face the fact of the absurdity of all that that makes up one’s ego, when you face it for yourself, what happens? One can only know when one finds out for oneself. In that, there is great inner revolution, great disturbance of all that is, because the very foundation of “YOU”, the “I”, is shaken to its core, it is threatened, when it comes face to face with the fact that it has no footing. It blasts away from its very core then. But, surely, it must also bring with it a radical transformation in oneself, that is instant, not over a period of time, but instant, is it not? And what is instant, is not of time, and what is not of time, can never be in the grasp of that which is in time, that is “YOU”, the “I”, which always seeks to strive, to make effort, to bring about a change over a period of time, while gaining its strength and continuity in that very striving, in that every effort, while remaining in conflict in that time.
Sir, can Truth be a point of view? To hold any perspective, a point of view, would mean there is more than way to look at something, is it not? If one chooses to view life through one particular angle, that is certainly a very limited angle, is it not? It does not and cannot be the whole. Anything which is one-sided, operates in the limited field, because, it involves thought. An opinion, a point of view, all these are nothing more than thought. And, thought is Time, it can only ever operate in time and space. That is, thought, which takes you back in memory to something in the past, holding you prisoner to that experience, which influences your opinions and conditionings, and meeting the present moment always, based on that opinion. Or, thought, based on past, projecting into future, is it not? Can there ever be a movement of thought, that is not in time? If there are no psychological memories of you whatsoever, that is, none of your experiences in the past have made an impression in your memory, let’s say, can thought have a past to operate from or a future to project? Therefore, anything that operates in psychological time is a projection of thought, is it not? And, if one were to think of Truth as such and such, surely, that is a projection of thought too. It is, Truth, according to what thought tells you it is, whether it your own projection, or another’s projection, it is merely a projection of thought. If Truth, is that, which is eternal, can it operate in time and space? That is, can it have anything to do with psychological time as past, present and future? Ego, which is the self, has a past, present and future. Whereas, Truth which is timeless, and therefore eternal, can it have anything to do with time? Therefore, it is for one to find out for oneself, through inquiry, and contemplation, into the nature of oneself, in other words, one’s own thought process, is it not? Afterall, if thought is not, you are not. That is, thought which arises as a result of memory, gives you a sense of having been there and done that. If there are no memories, there is no thought and if there is no thought, what does self mean? But one must take care not to answer that too quickly and find out, leaving aside all of what one has heard, read, experienced etc. Because experience too, physical or metaphysical, is in the field of thought, because to have an experience, you must there to record that experience, is it not?
Sir, what is minimalism to you? Is it having fewer material possessions? Should one not decide what is important and what is superfluous in one’s life by themselves? Why does one think in terms of minimalism, anyway? If one had what one needed, and left out those that does take away the things that mattered to them, is one not automatically, living a life of a minimalist? What does one strive for, afterall? Isn’t it happiness, something that makes one’s life complete, to have a sense of satisfaction or fulfillment, that one wants really? Time with one’s family, good health, a career that one enjoys, good organic lifestyle, involving in a worthy cause – aren’t these what one considers to be idealistic these days? Why?
Has the society become so materially driven that it has lost track of what matters to it any longer? Does one need more than one car in a family, does one need, any at all? Would it not make life much more easier and simpler if one were to be car free, and if one can take an alternative means of commuting? If one were to let go of all that, which is, an unnecessary excess, would it not give one a sense of freedom? If one journeyed through life lighter, there isn’t a burden to weigh one down, is it not? There is great freedom from fear, from losing what one has, freedom from anxiety, freedom from guilt, freedom from comparison – he has this, but mine is better etc, freedom from the consumerism, basically, which we, as a society, have let into our lives, to define, and, take over, everything that matters to us, as a people. Isn’t it time, one decides one’s own rules, instead of letting what society dictates to be happiness or fulfillment, derived through things, as opposed to, through life itself?
Sir, what is perception? It has commonly come to mean, the way in which something is regarded, or interpreted, is it not? Which then becomes one’s beliefs that is held onto strongly. Therefore, how one chooses to perceive anything in life, is then shaped and influenced by the already existing beliefs and opinions, that one holds onto very strongly. It is a vicious circle in which all of one’s beliefs and opinions, in other words, one’s perceptions, keeps getting strengthened, by every new event in life. Whether one’s thoughts be positive or negative, one must understand that it all stems from this vicious circle and will keep repeating itself in this seemingly endless process.
One’s opinions, include all things that one has seen, heard, read, experienced, etc., and in this, there is both, the positive, and the negative, perceptions on life. Yesterday is the past, there is nothing to it, it is over, be it positive or negative. It is a dead thing in this present moment, but, it derives its continuity, in the present, when one let’s one’s beliefs, which are of the past, to shape and influence one’s present, is it not? Would it make any difference if one chooses to shape one’s present only by the positive perceptions of the past? Certainly not; the very mechanism that makes positive possible would make negative possible too, right? The past is a dead thing, and for as long as, that dictates your present events, there is no lasting change whatsoever. One may think one can rewire the brain patterns by positive thinking etc. Can that bring about any lasting transformation, if the mechanism that makes both, positive and negative, possible, still exists? So, the question is, not, how to have the right beliefs, rather if, it is possible at all, to not, form any, is it not? Surely, that then, is true perception, which is whole, complete, holy etc.
Why are you worried, and anxious, over, what happens to you after death while you are alive? Life is the known and death is the unknown. Yet, one is worried endlessly over what happens in the unknown. Can the known ever find out about the unknown? To come upon the unknown, therefore, one must let go of all that is known, is it not? You can get as far as the scope of everything that is in your experience, the known, for sure. But is death an experience too, for one to possibly comprehend in a living reality? Death, not, in the sense, one knows death to be commonly. Let’s leave aside for the moment, your personal faith or lack of it, on any personal God or religion. Death for the physical body is a sure thing, whether one believes in God or not. But in your question, where you have mentioned that you don’t believe in eternal oblivion, you seem to imply that your anxiety is over what may happen to you as a “being”, or, as a soul, etc., after death. Isn’t this your actual query? So, how shall we find out, sir?
If one believed in ideas of heaven or hell, then this query is over, because one already thinks that there is an eternal life awaiting them after death. Which means what? That there will still be a mind that is alive eternally after physical death, either, in heaven or in hell, and therefore, one continues in the field of the known. And if one believed in reincarnation, the same applies. One continues lifetime after lifetime, in a different body, in a different form, but the mind continues, in the field of the known, for as long as it does, until it eventually ceases to be, upon enlightenment or whatever. And, if one believed, simply, that there is nothing more to one’s present life other than being a body made of matter, and it goes back to matter, once it perishes, then this query ends here too. So what is it all about, sir? What does death actually mean?
Should one ask, is it about death or is it about life? Is one’s life intended to be one filled with the usual grind endlessly, whether one believed in just one lifetime, or in reincarnation? Why must I worry over whether or not, I had been there before or not? One can see, here, now, that our lives, are a certain repetitive pattern, is it not? One goes through the motions of all different types of experiences in one’s lifetime, all the different emotions, thoughts, feelings, one has held many different opinions, changing perceptions, judgments, grudges, ideas, etc. One sees the endless patterns, that is ever changing, with time, circumstance, and experience. Yet, the underlying residue, in all of these, is either, pain, suffering, anxiety, fear, anger, hatred, love, joy, sorrow, pride, arrogance, pleasure, etc., is it not?
One goes through repeated experiences of these, over and over, in one’s lifetime, is it not? What is life all about? Is this all there is to it? And to what purpose? If I have had a lifetime before the present one, them I am sure I have gone through the motions of these before. And, if I will have a lifetime again, then it is sure to continue, because my present reality is so. So, assuming there is something after death, what can one hope will be different in one’s life after death, whether in a different body, or in heaven or hell, if one’s present life, is an endless repetition? Can one ever get out of this rut in one’s present lifetime? If one can, then that surely is death, is it not? Death, not, as a physical death of the body, but the psychological dying to everything that is in the field of the known. Dying to everything that one has ever known, experienced, felt, etc. Not in the sense of amnesia, or loss of memory, but in the sense of letting go of all that is one’s experience and meeting every moment afresh, with no preconceived, notions or concepts or ideas whatsoever. Only then, can one possibly come upon that which is unknown, which can never be grasped by the mind, and be made into a thing that is knowable, but, that, which is ever new, and therefore, eternal; which is all there is.
You and pride or ego are not different, separate entities. What makes you, you, are the characteristics you portray, which is shaped by your conditioning, your traditions, your cultures, your past experiences, your upbringing, your education, your circumstances, your prejudices, your perceptions etc. In the absence of these, you live with no definitions, you are free. There is no distortion or neurotic behavior in one who doesn’t confine and cage himself within set parameters of definitions. Such a person is unfettered, unencumbered, orderly.
But what you have asked is, the difference between two adjectives here, and by excessive ego, I presume, you are referring to arrogance. Well, what is the difference? Both these qualities add to you and gives continuity to you, as a being, as an ego, the I, the same way, to classify yourself, as humble, noble etc, are equally qualities that simply keeps giving continuity to you, as an ego, I. You are the ego, you and ego are not two different things. You follow? Whether you are arrogant or humble, they are both, what keeps you, the “I”, continuing. Just the same way, a rainbow is the result of a reflection and dispersion of light in water droplets, that appears as a multi-colored arc in the sky, the ego is the result of reflection of all that which makes up one’s consciousness. Neither, the water droplets have a color, nor, do the rainbows actually exist, as an entity. Like so, the ego, which is only a reflection of the contents of your consciousness in thought, that is, when I think, I am this or that, there is the “me”, but, the “me” isn’t an actual entity. It has no existence in isolation from thought. And, if the ego doesn’t actually exist, what meaning have those ingredient qualities, such as, pride or humility, that make up one’s ego, the “I”?
One who is truly free from all definitions of humility, nobility, arrogance, pride etc., will never know himself to be this or that. Such a one operates from intelligence which is not derived from any knowledge.
Sir, what is consciousness? Is it something that is just there making all actions possible? When you ask, how does one cleanse one’s consciousness from past experiences?, you imply in that question, that consciousness is a storehouse of memories, is it not? In the second part of the question, you seem to imply that there is consciousness with its memories and then, there is you, that is apart from it. If, consciousness, according to you, is just something out there, making, all actions possible, as well as, serving, as a storehouse of memories, then, what is your role in action? If, on the other hand, you think it is you who is responsible for all actions, then does your consciousness serve you merely as a storehouse of memories? One is hurt by another when one was 20 years old, and that is retained in consciousness as a memory, one ventured into a business at 25, which turned out sour and one feels a failure, and one retains that in one’s memories, one has enjoyed a great time with another at 28, and that is a memory too, one was insulted by a colleague at work when one was 26, and that is retained as a memory too. The sum total of one’s consciousness therefore, is all of one’s memory, which in turn influences one’s thinking, one’s perceptions, one’s ideas, one’s fears, one’s hopes, one’s emotions, one’s feelings, one’s conditioning, one’s culture, one’s traditions, one’s prejudices etc. And all this constitutes one’s psychological knowledge, and this knowledge, this conditioning, is what lends a personality to me, as “me”, is it not? Suppose one never retained any memories, what meaning will the “me” have? What would one’s experiences in life, such as pain, suffering, humiliation, anger, heartbreak, pleasure, failure, success, beautiful, ugly etc, mean? And if the “me”, doesn’t exist in isolation from memory, what does consciousness mean to you? Therefore, your consciousness is you, is it not?
Consciousness is its content, and its contents are memories and knowledge of you, and your memories and knowledge, is what gives continuity to you as a “being”, as the “me”. I remember I was there and therefore, I am; I suffered, therefore, I know; I loved, therefore, I feel; isn’t this what, you call, past experiences? But the past is the sum total of you. In other words, “you” are your memory, and your memory is the content of your consciousness, and your consciousness, therefore, is you, stored as a memory over time. Therefore, to ask how to cleanse it and become a new consciousness, would be the same as removing partially those memories that are undesirable and retaining partially those that are desirable, is it not? In other words, one thinks, memory, which makes up the “me”, can be removed in half, and retained in half. Can you be half gone and half remain? Does one see the futility of this? To remove the painful memories, would mean, the pleasurable ones, would have to go with it too. The very mechanism that makes pain possible would pleasure possible too, is it not? You, who are derived from your memory, only continue to exist, for as long as there are memories give continuity to you. If there are no memories, then, there is no “you” either. In other words, if there are no memories, what remains of you, to assert your existence, as a psychological “being”? Not physically. Ofcourse, you have a physical body and that will continue to be for as long as it does, but I am referring, to you, the psychological being, the you, with all your painful past, and the pleasant past. What happens to you? If there is no you, what meaning has your past, sir?
When there is the thought of doing, and by doing, one refers to all action, whether it is speaking, eating, thinking, sleeping, working etc., one refers to a being, that is oneself, that is doing all these actions, is it not? When one questions, who is this “self”, or “I”, one immediately makes a gesture by pointing out to oneself, as me. But, who is this “me”? Sure, the body, eats, sleeps, thinks etc., but is it also the body that remembers a past experience, such as emotional suffering, pain, pleasure, anger, etc? Surely, then one says, it is my mind ofcourse that can remember it. Is the mind, me? Is the mind, this psychological being, that is, “me”, that feels, experiences, etc? Does this psychological being, that is, “me”, exist, as factually as, my physical body does? Can one point it out quite the way one would the physical body?
When one probes into this “me”, the “I”, deeply, one realizes, it doesn’t actually exist except in one’s thoughts. When thoughts cease, there is no awareness of “me” as a being either, is it not? It is thought that gives continuity to this self or me. Therefore, if the “me” is not actually real except in one’s thought, what does “me” mean? Does it exist at all actually, or, does it keep giving itself continuity through various actions, of thinking, feeling, experiencing, lest it might not exist, at all? And why does it give itself continuity at the cost of such self-deception when it doesn’t really exist and towards what purpose? And, who needs to realize this self-deception but that very self, is it not?
When the self realizes this about itself, what then? Does action cease altogether or does action continue in good order in the practical spirit? One eats when hungry, and not when one is depressed, one sleeps when the body is tired, one works, because this life demands it and doesn’t mull over its results endlessly at the expense of one’s health, one relates to another in the present moment without holding onto images of another based on one’s perceptions, prejudices, past experiences etc., is it not? But the “me” must cease entirely on its own, and not through any effort, for then, it would be the “me” making that effort and in that it strengthens itself by giving itself continuity through “spiritual progress” and so on. And when the “me” is not, and action is performed, to whom may one attribute such action to, sir?
There is a certain vastness that the “me” can never penetrate. That vastness certainly must have existed before, and will continue to be, for all of creation to have sprung into life from, including, the many little “me’s”, and the vast universes that is known, and still unfolding, is it not? If that vastness is ordained with such intelligence for all of creation, then that vastness, must have ordained in it, the intelligence for action too, is it not? So who must this insistent petty little “me” be, that has accorded itself such great importance, when it can never, hope to know, cannot know, anything that is not within the scope of its own definitions?
To embrace anything new, one must let go of the old, is it not? The new is the unknown and the old is the known. Can that which is unknown ever be invited? One can replace one for another, have a new person, take up a new hobby, visit a new place, wear a new dress, read a new book, move to a new place, watch a new movie, build a new house, and so on. Is one seeking “new” in the sense of a replacement? Or is one seeking something that is completely and totally fresh, something that remains ever new, full of vitality, in which, seeking for anything, never arises?
Everything that I know, is my past, which includes, my memories, my experiences, my suffering, my pain, my anger, my hurts, my wounds, my traditions, and so on. And all this is part of my knowledge stored in memory. This knowledge shapes and influences your perception and interactions with the world, is it not? One’s relationship with the world and society reflects, this knowledge. I, relate to you, based on the image, I have of you. You, relate to your friend, based on the image of have him. That is, my knowledge tells me, that I should trust him or not trust him, is it not? Therefore, one relates to everything from one’s past images. The relating is with the image, over and over. One has been hurt before, one doesn’t like a particular trait, one has a strong opinion on right and wrong, one is fearful, one is fearless, and so on. And all these have their roots in your knowledge.
One has had many an experience in one’s life, and one keeps adding it to one’s knowledge, by recalling it, over and over, in time. One never realizes that one merely keeps recycling one’s past, in this process. Can one ever find anything new, when one is full of the old? Your memories give continuity to your past, and your past is what makes you, you. That is, the sum total of you, the ‘being’, is your past. Therefore, to come upon that which is new, one must let go of all that, which is the old. One must let go all of one’s past, which is one’s psychological memories, which is one’s knowledge. And if there are no memories, no recalling of the old, what gives continuity to the past? If there is no past, there is no knowledge. If there is no knowledge, there is no projection into the future either, is it not? I have been hurt before, and I don’t want to get hurt again. You follow? That is, if the sum total of you, that makes you, you, is not there, what happens? What is the state or quality of such a mind that carries no burden of the past, no memories, or images, whatsoever. How does such a mind relate to the world? Think about it.
What is change? Why do you want change? Only that which is prone to change, can change, is it not? Time changes, time is change, and that which changes in time, will keep on changing in time. The body changes in time, your opinions change in time, your beliefs change in time, your relationships change in time, your ideas change in time, your perceptions change in time, your circumstances change in time, your career changes in time, in short, the sum total of you, keeps changing in time. Yet, you seek a challenge to bring about change. So, the question is, are you seeking to change something, where change is inevitable over and over, or are you seeking something unchanging, lasting, timeless?
Is one unhappy with one’s own life that drives one to look for another, perhaps better way to live? That’s an all too familiar feeling for one. One has been there before, and brought about some change, which worked out splendidly. For a while. Then one’s life changes, again, and one wants something else entirely, and one is back, looking for newer ways, perhaps something that simply would work out well throughout one’s life, is it not? A relationship that lasts, a friendship that stays, a love that never diminishes, a beauty that never fades, a profession that never tires, a body that never changes, an aging that never happens, a recognition that is never forgotten, a contentment that remains. In other words, a time that doesn’t change. You follow. This is what everyone wants, is it not? That something which is eternal, and therefore timeless. So what is one to do?
One’s life is saddled with the burden of responsibilities, relationships, and commitments, of livelihood and in all that chaos, one hasn’t the time or space, to even question the ways one functions. Yet, there is the inner need that is felt by one to bring about a different quality in one’s life, is it not? So, how can I bring about that quality which is timeless into my life, when I live in time? Time, not in the chronological sense, but rather in the psychological sense. One’s thoughts spring from one’s memories, is it not? If there is no memory, there is no thought either. If one saw something entirely new and simply stayed with the newness of it without comparison, without relating to it from the past, there is just no thought operating. One is completely captivated by something beautiful and one loses oneself in that moment of captivity. And in that moment, time doesn’t operate, you don’t exist. But when one creates an image of that captivating beauty, it becomes a memory. And then, one starts comparing and contrasting, and, in that, there is division, the beautiful and the ugly, the good and the bad, the respectable and the disrespectable, the worthy and the unworthy, love and hate, like and dislike. Therefore, thought which expresses memory, is always divisive. And what is memory, sirs? Is it a mere recording, something stored in your brain, that thought merely recalls? What are all the things that one stores in one’s memory?
I need to become a lawyer, therefore, it takes me years of study and training. What I read, must be retained, in order for me to pass my exams and qualify. I need to know the way to my residence from my office, and I need to recall the direction. I need to recall a recipe to prepare a certain dish. Therefore, knowledge in the practical spirit, has its place and needs to retained. But I have also retained, a harsh word spoken to me by another when I was 12, an insult at work when I was 21, a great time with someone dear when I was 25, a heartbreak when I was such and such, my beliefs, my anger, my hatred, my opinions, my faith, my prejudices, my likes, my dislikes, my traditions, my culture, my race, etc. And all these have shaped my conditionings, which in turn, influences my perceptions and relationships. So, the sum total of all that which lends a personality to me, are my conditionings, which I have retained in my memory. In other words, the conditioning is the personality, and the personality, which makes me, “me”, is memory put together over time. And, memory lends continuity to the “me” in time. If there is no memory, there is no “me”, and there is no time, is it not? Therefore, time is me, time is you. Does one see that?
So how can one bring about a timeless state in one’s life, that eternal quality, when one continues to operate from the past? To come upon that which is timeless, time would have to cease. That is, you, who are a sum total of your conditionings and beliefs , must cease to be. Cease, not in the sense of dying, but in the sense of letting go of all that psychological accumulation, that makes you, you. Change does not require 50 days or even 50 minutes. It must happen here and now, if you actually see, for yourself, what you are, made up of. If you counted on time to change you, heal you, make you stronger, happier, etc., you are basically waiting for you, to change you. How can there be any change, if you, the personality, the memory, the time, continue to dictate and direct that change? You are time, therefore, any change you direct, will change again. Do you see that?
If you don’t change now, time cannot bring about that change, if you don’t heal now, time cannot bring about that healing.