By Jeff Greenwald
Call it mystery if you like. That mysteriousness is called grace. There is no difference. It is a mystery and it will always remain a mystery. This mystery, this secret is so very sacred, you will not be able to tell me about it. When I took you to that place, you could not tell me about it. If it were not a secret, surely you would tell me about it, because you know me. I will not deceive you. You did not tell me what was happening in this instant because you couldn’t. It is so secret, two cannot walk abreast there. Not even one. Not the body, not the mind, not the senses, not even the discriminative intellect. That is That.
I have been trying for the last sixty years, but I cannot solve this mystery. I have never been able to solve this secret. I am an old man. You are very young, so please speak to me. I want to see that secret, that mystery face to face. I want to kiss Him, I want to kiss Her, because I have not seen a beauty like this beauty anywhere on the face of this planet. I am in love with someone, but the Beloved I have not seen.
How did I end up sitting at your feet like this? What kind of miracle is this that put me here?
You have called. It is your invitation.
Papaji, you recommend that we don’t read books about awakening because it just creates the preconception and expectation of what awakening will feel like, taste like, of what it will be like. What then do you hope to convey about it in an interview?
I don’t recommend that you read any sacred books or books about saints. When you read a spiritual book, you will probably like some part of it. If you read it and like it, you store it in the memory. Later, you sit in meditation, trying to get freedom. You want to be free, and you have a conception of freedom which you have acquired from your books. When you meditate, this preconceived idea will manifest and you will experience it. You forget that what you are experiencing is something that is stored in your memory. What you get is a past experience, not enlightenment. The real experience is not an experience of a past memory. The mind deceives you when you meditate. The mind is always going to deceive you and cheat you, so don’t depend on the mind. If the mind wants or likes something, don’t listen to it. Whatever the mind likes, dislike it. Memory means past. When you meditate, you are trying to execute a plan which is in your mind: ‘I have to arrive at the place I have read about.’ Your later experience is therefore preplanned and that is what you get, because whatever the mind thinks, it manifests.
When you have a thought of samsara, manifestation arises. This is your thought, your wish. That is why the world manifests. It looks so real to you because you have faith in its reality. Once you experience that Reality is somewhere else, you will reject samsara instantly. You will have a very new, very fresh experience. Each moment will be new. You will not experience it with the mind. Then there will be no mind, you will be all alone. This and this alone is called ‘experience’. I won’t use the word experience again because all experiences are planned from the past. It is not really going to be an experience, it is going to be a very direct meeting. For the first time you will meet That. You will go to meet It after denuding your mind, after denuding all the concepts of the mind. You have to go there undressed. Undress everything. Be nude. Even denude yourself of the nudity. Do you understand? The chamber of this Beloved is so sacred, this is the only way you can enter. If you want to meet your Beloved, go there. Who stops you? Do it now itself. It is so simple. To dress up takes time. To undress is much easier.
Yesterday you told a story about a Guru who was so deeply engrossed in meditation, he didn’t care for his sick son. Someone asked you about responsibility. I also want to ask you the same question: ‘Is freedom also freedom from responsibility?'
The man who asked me about this came to me again. I told him that this was a story of a saint, his wife and his son. I told him, ‘You do not relate to any one of these three, neither the son, nor the wife, nor the husband. This is a story of a saint and his wife. You have to become either a saint, or his wife to know. Or at least his son.’ Then he kept quiet and said he was satisfied.
Responsibilities have been there for a long time. You have a mind and an ego which says, ‘This belongs to me and that belongs to him’. From this, responsibility arises.
Who is the father of all this creation? Before your birth, this samsara, this creation, was already there. It has been here for millions of years. Who looked after it during all this time? You have been looking after your own responsibilities, your own liabilities, for about thirty years. After seventy years you will not be looking after them any longer. Your responsibilities and liabilities, the span of your duty, cannot be more than a hundred years. What about the millions of years before you? Who is responsible for the billions of activities that went on before you were born?
If you accept responsibility for your family, your son, your wife, your society, your country and all others in the world, you have to move your mind, your body and your intellect. Don’t you? To fulfill these responsibilities you need three things: good health, which means a good body, a good mind, which means good intentions, and compassion. Where do you draw these things from? Where do you get the energy to move the body so that you can help others physically? Where do you get the energy to move the mind to send compassion to others? Where do you draw this energy to act?
It is drawn from grace.
If you know that you are drawing the energy from grace, how and why do things become your own responsibility? This bulb is shining, light is there. Can the lamp say, ‘It is my light! If I want to shine I will shine, and if I don’t there will be darkness'? The light does not come from here. The reservoir, the source of it, is somewhere else. If this lamp says, ‘I am bright. Because of me you can see,’ it is mistaken. It doesn’t know. Where does the current come from? Where does the electricity come from? There was a chief electrical engineer who worked in this place, so I asked him: What is electricity? If you break the wire through which the current is passing to give us light, I don’t see anything.’
He answered, ‘We do not know yet. Somehow it works. Electricity is generated, but where it ultimately comes from, that we still do not know. We do not know what is the original source of that power which flows through the wires.’
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.