By Jeff Greenwald
You are not speaking of meditation, you are speaking of concentration. Meditation only takes place when you are not concentrating on any object. If you can manage not to bring any object of the past into the mind, that is called meditation. Do not use your mind — that is called meditation. If you use your mind to meditate, it is not meditation, it is concentration. The mind can only cling to some object that belongs to the past. Have you been told to meditate without the aid of the mind?
That is hard to answer. Most of the meditation that I have done involves techniques for dealing with thoughts that arise. But the aim of the meditation seems to be a thoughtless state, where no thoughts arise.
Yes, that is called meditation. When no thoughts arise, that is called meditation.
But thoughts arise, inevitably. How does one deal with thoughts that arise?
I will tell you how to deal with them. I think you can devote an amount of time equal to a finger snap. That is all the time I need to stop your thoughts. What is a thought? What is mind? There is no difference between thought and mind. Thought arises from mind and mind is merely a bundle of thoughts. Without thoughts there is no mind. What is mind? ‘I’ is mind. Mind is past, it is clinging to past, present and future. It is clinging to time, clinging to objects. This is called mind. Now, where does the mind arise from? When the ‘I’ rises, mind rises, senses rise, the world rises. Now, find out where the ‘I’ rises from and then tell me if you are not quiet. Go on, comment on what is happening while you do it.
I am listening to you speak.
After that. We have arrived at the fact that the mind is ‘I', and that mind arises from ‘I’. When the ‘I’ rises, the mind rises. This is what happens in the transition from sleeping to waking. Now, find out that reservoir, the place where the ‘I’ rises. Where does the ‘I’ rise from?
It is the name.
Wait, wait. You don’t follow. I will repeat it again. If there is a canal which comes out of a reservoir, you can follow this canal back to the place where it emerges from the reservoir. I am telling you, follow the ‘I'-thought in the same way. Where does it rise from? I will tell you how to do it, how to find the answer. You don’t have to box like Mohammed Ali for this. It is very simple. To know yourself is as simple as rubbing a rose petal. This knowledge or realisation is as simple as a rose petal in your fingers. It is not difficult at all. Difficulties only arise when you make an effort. So, you don’t have to make any effort to go to the reservoir which is the source of ‘I’. Don’t make any effort and don’t think either. Reject effort and reject thought. When I say reject thought, I mean, ‘Reject the ‘I'-thought and any kind of effort’.
It feels like a comet that is skirting the atmosphere. It flashes briefly and then disappears back into space. It is like a momentary spark of flame which is followed by the darkness of ‘I’ again.
Not again. For ‘again’ you have to go to the past. ‘Again’ is past. I am telling you to get rid of this ‘I’. Don’t make an effort and don’t think either for one single second. Even half of a second or a quarter of a second is quite enough. My dear young Jeff, you have not spent this much time on yourself in thirty-five million years! Here and now is the time to do it.
I find it impossible not to make an effort. There is always a trying. There is an expectation, a sense of trying, always.
All this ‘doing’ has been taught to you by your parents, by your priests, by your teachers, by your preachers. Now, instead, keep quiet for a quarter of a second and see what happens. You have inherited doing from your parents: ‘Do this and do that.’ You went to the priest and he told you, ‘Do this and don’t do that’. Then you heard the same thing from society and from everywhere else. I am telling you to get rid of both doing and of not doing. When you indulge in doing, you are back in your parents’ world. You first learned doing from your mother. If you did not handle your spoon and fork correctly, she slapped you at the dinner table and said, ‘Don’t do this!’ Do's and don’ts first came from your mother. And then from the priest: ‘You have to go to a particular church. Don’t go to somebody else's church. If you do, you will go to heaven. If you don’t, you will go to hell. You are a sinner.’
I say, ‘Get rid of both doing and not doing’. Have at least a taste of it. You have already had a taste of doing. There are six billion people and they are all tasting doing. Tell me, what is the result of all this doing? Recently we have seen the result of doing in the Gulf. We have also seen three wars. The result of this doing is hatred between man and man, and lots of killing. Let us instead see what can be done by not doing. In not doing, there will be love, not hatred. Let this love spring up once again as it did in the time of Buddha and Ashoka.
Papaji, now that I am calling you ‘Papaji', I am putting you in a parental role. It feels a little awkward.
This parent tells you: ‘Don’t make any effort.’ Listen to this Papaji, to only one of his words. If you don’t listen to this Papaji, you will have many other Papaji's for another thirty-five million years!
I am a writer and I find it very natural to write. People are always coming to me, asking for advice on writing and I tell them: ‘Just do it naturally. Just write as you would speak. There is nothing that is easier.’ But they can’t do it. They need to make some effort to do it.
Papaji, you awakened spontaneously and completely naturally at the age of eight. Why are you so confident that it will be so easy and so natural for others? We have spent thirty-five million years trying with little success.
I must also have spent that long. I know it because I have seen many of my past lives. Buddha also said that he spent many, many incarnations trying to wake up. He also knew them very well. He remembered very clearly a slight mistake he had made 253 incarnations ago. He also had been doing and doing.
You asked me a direct question. I do not know what caused my awakening. It was very spontaneous. I did not have any background, I did not do any meditation, I had not read any book about enlightenment. I was in Pakistan, so these books were not available. They are mostly written in Sanskrit, but I had not studied Sanskrit. I had only studied Persian. It came to me, but how I do not know. Perhaps it chose me. The Truth reveals Itself to a holy person. I did not have any qualification. I was not educated at that time. I was only eight years old, studying in the second standard. What I saw then I am still seeing. What is it? What is it? What is it? I am more and more in love with It with each passing moment.
All my life I have wondered what it would have been like to have lived in the time of the Buddha, and to have sat at his feet. Here with you, I feel I know the answer to that question.
Copyright © 1993 Avadhuta Foundation. This article is reprinted from Papaji Interviews. Used by permission.
H.W.L. Poonja (Papaji) was a popular Advaitin guru in the late 20th century. His students created
the modern satsang movement in the West.
Jeff Greenwald is the author of Shopping for Buddhas. Wikipedia has a page about him.
Edited by David Godman
As you’ve probably guessed from the book’s title, it consists mainly of interviews. Ten people sat down with Papaji and asked him questions, and the resulting conversations were transcribed. The questioners include Catherine Ingram, Wes Nisker, Shanti Devi, Chokyi Nyima Rimpoche, and Godman himself. The book also includes a 62-page biography of Papaji.
By David Godman
This massive three-volume biography of H.W.L. Poonja, widely known as Papaji, is one of the most comprehensive attempts ever made to document the life and teachings of a self-realized person. Papaji was a direct disciple of Sri Ramana Maharshi. He is largely responsible for the satsang movement in the West because he helped hundreds of Westerners attain glimpses of the Self and then sent them home to teach.
This page was published on October 24, 2001 and last revised on May 27, 2017.