The Mahageeta

Talks on Ashtavakra Samhita
Talks given from 11/09/1976 - 20/09/1976
Original in Hindi
Book Chapters : 10
Year published : 1993
Source: and

[NOTE: This discourse is in the process of being edited for publication. It is for reference use only.]

Chapter No. 1 - Ashtavakra: The Purest Expression of Truth
11 September 1976 am in Gautam the Buddha Auditorium








We are embarking on a rare journey. Man has many scriptures, but none comparable to the Gita of Ashtavakra. Before it the Vedas pale, the Upanishads speak with a weak voice. Even the Bhagavad Gita does not have the majesty found in the Ashtavakra Samhita -- it is simply unparalleled.

The most important thing is that neither society nor politics nor any other institution of human life has had any influence on the sayings of Ashtavakra. They are such a pure expression -- transcending emotion, transcending time and death -- there is nothing comparable. Perhaps this is why Ashtavakra's Gita, the ASHTAVAKRA SAMHITA, has not had much impact.

Krishna's Bhagavad Gita has been very influential. The first reason is that Krishna's Gita is a synthesis. He is more concerned with synthesis than with truth. The desire for synthesis is so strong that if necessary Krishna doesn't mind sacrificing the truth a little.

Krishna's Gita is a hodgepodge containing everything; hence it suits everyone, because there is something in it for everyone. It is difficult to find any tradition whose voice is not found in the Gita. It is difficult to find anyone who does not take solace from the Gita. But for such people Ashtavakra's Gita will prove very difficult.

Ashtavakra is not for synthesis -- he is a man of truth. He speaks the truth just as it is, without any artifice or coloring. He is not concerned about the listener, he does not care whether his listener will understand or not. Such a pure expression of truth has never happened anywhere before, nor has it ever happened again.

People love Krishna's Gita because it is very easy to extract one's own meaning from it. Krishna's Gita is poetic: in it two plus two can equal five, two plus two can also equal three. No such tricks are possible with Ashtavakra. With him two plus two are exactly four. Ashtavakra's statements are statements of pure mathematics. There isn't the least possibility for poetic licence here. He says things as they are, without any sort of compromise.

Reading Krishna's Gita a devotee extracts something of which he can make a belief, because Krishna spoke on bhakti, devotion. The karma yogi extracts his belief because Krishna has spoken on karma yoga, the Yoga of action. The believer in knowledge finds what he wants because Krishna has spoken on knowledge as well. Somewhere Krishna calls bhakti the ultimate, somewhere else he calls knowledge the ultimate, again elsewhere he calls karma yoga the ultimate.

Krishna's statements are very political. He was a politician, a perfect politician. Just to say he was a politician is not right; he was a shrewd politician, a real diplomat. In his statements he considered and included many things. This is why the Gita suits everyone, why there are thousands of commentaries on the Gita. No one is concerned with Ashtavakra, because to accept Ashtavakra you are going to have to drop yourself -- unconditionally. You cannot bring yourself along. Only if you stay behind can you come near him. With Krishna you can bring yourself along. With Krishna there is no need to transform yourself. With Krishna you can fit just as you are.

Hence the founders of each tradition have written commentaries on Krishna's Gita -- Shankara, Ramanuja, Nimbarak, Vallabha -- everyone. Each has extracted his own meaning. Krishna has said things in such a way as to allow multiple meanings; hence I call his Gita poetic. You can draw out any meaning you like from a poem.

Krishna's statements are like clouds surrounding you in the rainy season: you see in them whatever you want. Someone may see an elephant's trunk, someone sees the whole body of Ganesha, the elephant god. Someone may not see anything. He will say, "What nonsense you talk! They are clouds, vapor -- how is it you see forms in them?"

In the West, psychoanalysts use the ink blot test: just pour an ink stain onto blotting paper and ask the person to say what he sees in it. The person looks carefully and sees something or other. There is nothing there, only an ink stain on blotting paper -- randomly thrown, not thrown with any design, just poured from the bottle. But the person looking at it finds something or other. What he finds is in his mind, he has projected it.

You must have seen lines made by rain falling on a wall. Sometimes a man's face is seen, sometimes a horse's face is seen. You project onto it what you want to see. In the dark of night, clothes hanging on a line seem like ghosts.

Krishna's Gita is just like this -- you will be able to see whatever is in your mind. So Shankara sees knowledge, Ramanuja sees bhakti, Tilak sees action -- and each returns home in a cheerful mood thinking that what Krishna says is the same as his belief.

Emerson has written that once a neighbor came and borrowed the works of Plato from him. Plato lived two thousand years ago and is one of the world's rare, unique thinkers. Weeks later Emerson reminded him, "If you've read the books please return them." When the neighbor returned them Emerson asked, "How did you like them?"

The man said, "This man Plato's thoughts are in complete agreement with mine. I felt many times: how has this man come to know my thoughts?" Plato lived two thousand years earlier and this fellow suspects that Plato has stolen his thoughts!

This kind of suspicion often arises with Krishna too. Centuries have passed and commentaries on Krishna keep on coming. Each century finds its own meaning, each person finds his own meaning. Krishna's Gita is like an ink blot... it is the statement of the perfect politician.

You cannot extract any beliefs from Ashtavakra's Gita. Only if you drop yourself as you move into it, will Ashtavakra's Gita become clear to you.

Ashtavakra's message is crystal clear. You won't be able to add even a small bit of your own interpretation to it. Hence people have not written commentaries on Ashtavakra's Gita. There is no scope for writing a commentary; there is no way to distort or twist it. Your mind has no chance to add anything. Ashtavakra has given such an expression that no one has been able to add or take anything from it, even though centuries have passed. It is not easy to give such a perfect expression. Such skill with words is very difficult to come by.

This is why I say we are starting off on a rare journey.

Politicians have no interest in Ashtavakra. Not Tilak, not Aurobindo, not Gandhi, not Vinoba: none of them has any interest, because with Astavakra they cannot go on playing their own games. Tilak's interest was to inspire nationalism. He wanted the whole country to get involved in action -- and Krishna's Gita was helpful. Krishna is ready to lend a shoulder to anyone. Whosoever wants to steady themselves on his shoulder and shoot their bullets -- Krishna is ready. The shoulder is his, you can take the opportunity to hide behind it. And shooting from behind his shoulder makes even bullets appear significant.

Ashtavakra doesn't allow anyone to even rest their hand on his shoulder. So Gandhi is not interested, Tilak is not interested, Aurobindo, Vinoba have nothing to do with him, because they cannot impose anything. There is no room for politics -- Ashtavakra is not a political being.

This is the first thing you need to keep in mind... such crystal clarity, an expression like an open sky with no cloud in sight, you cannot see any forms. Only when you drop all forms, become disidentified with all forms and get connected with the formless, will you be able to comprehend Ashtavakra. If you really want to understand Ashtavakra you will have to descend into the depths of meditation. No commentary, no interpretation will be of any help.

And for meditation Ashtavakra does not ask us to sit and chant "Ram, Ram." He says that anything you do will not be meditation. How can there be meditation when there is a doer? As long as there is doing, there is illusion. As long as the doer is present, the ego is present. Ashtavakra says becoming a witness is meditation. Then the doer disappears; you remain only as watcher, nothing but the observer. When you are nothing but the observer then only is there darshan, seeing; then only is there meditation, then only is there wisdom.

Before we enter the sutras, it is necessary to understand a few things about Ashtavakra. Not much is known as he was neither a social nor political man, so no historical record exists. Only a few incidents are known -- and they are just wondrous, hardly believable. But if you understand them deeply the significance will be revealed.

The first incident happened before Ashtavakra was born. Nothing is known of what came afterwards but this is an incident while he was still in the womb. His father, who was a great scholar, would recite the Vedas every day while Ashtavakra listened from the womb. One day a voice came from the womb saying, "Stop it! This is all nonsense. There is no wisdom whatsoever in this. Mere words -- just a collection of words. Is wisdom found in scriptures? Wisdom is within oneself. Is truth found in words? Truth is within oneself."

Naturally his father was enraged. First of all he was a father and on top of that a scholar. And his son hidden in the womb was saying such things! Not even born yet! He exploded in anger, became engulfed in fire: The father's ego had been hit. And a scholar's ego... he was a great pundit, a great debater, knowledgeable in scriptures....

In anger he uttered a curse: When born, the boy would be deformed; his limbs would be bent in eight parts. Hence his name: Ashtavakra means one whose body has eight bends. He was born crippled in eight places; eight places hunchbacked like a camel. In a rage his father deformed his son's body.

There are other stories like this....

It is said that Buddha was born standing up. His mother was standing under a tree; she gave birth standing and he was born standing up. He didn't fall to the ground but started walking! He took seven paces and on the eighth he stopped and proclaimed the four noble truths -- that life is suffering....! He took just seven steps on earth and proclaimed that life is suffering, that it is possible to be free from suffering, that there is a way to become free of suffering, that there is a state free of suffering -- the state of nirvana.

About Lao Tzu the story is that he was born old, that he was born eighty years old, that he remained in the womb eighty years. Since he had no desire to do anything, he had no desire to leave the womb. Since he had no wants, he didn't want to come into the world either. When he was born he had white hair, an old man of eighty years!

Zarathustra's story is that he burst out laughing as soon as he was born.

But Ashtavakra has defeated them all. These are all events after birth; Ashtavakra made his full statement before he was even born!

These stories are significant. These stories contain the essence, the essential treasure of the life of these masters.

Buddha's story contains the essence of what he taught his whole life.... Buddha taught the eightfold path, so he took seven steps and stopped on the eighth. There are eight parts in all; the last step is that of right samadhi, and only in that state of samadhi is the whole truth of life known. So he proclaimed the four noble truths.

Lao Tzu was born old. People live eighty years, still they don't have the understanding Lao Tzu had at birth. Do you see people becoming intelligent just by getting old? Getting old and becoming intelligent are not synonymous. At a ripe old age even hair can ripen to pure white.

Lao Tzu's story simply says that if there is urgency, intensity in one's life, then what might take eighty years can happen in one moment. If one's understanding is intense it can happen in one moment and without pure intelligence it does not happen even in eighty years.

Zarathustra laughed right at birth. Zarathustra's religion is the only religion in the world that can be called a laughing religion... very earthy, a religion of the earth. That is why people of other religions don't see Parsees as being religious. They see them dancing, singing, happy -- Zarathustra's religion is a laughing religion, a life-affirming religion, not life negative. There is no place for renunciation in it. Have you ever seen a Parsi sadhu? -- stark naked, having renounced all, standing in the hot sun, sitting facing a fire like a Hindu sannyasin? No, the Parsee religion has no interest in torturing and causing trouble to the body. Zarathustra's whole message is this: if you can realize godliness through laughing, then why realize it crying? When you can reach to the temple dancing, why unnecessarily sow thorns on your path? When you can go with flowers, then why follow ways of pain and misery? It is right, the legend is right, that at birth Zarathustra was laughing.

Don't look for historical facts in these stories. It is not that they happened this way -- but there is a very profound meaning in these stories.

You have a seed: when you look at the seed you can find no indication of the flowers that will grow from it. There is not even a clue of what it can be. Will it be a lotus -- blossoming in the water but remaining untouched by it, dancing in the rays of the sun? And the sun too may become jealous, of its beauty, of its tenderness, of its incomparable glory and grace. Its perfume will fly into the sky. Looking at the seed this cannot be known. Looking at the seed one cannot even imagine, cannot even guess. But one day it happens.

So we can think in two ways. Either we can hold tight to the seed and say, "What is not visible in the seed cannot happen in the lotus either. It is an illusion, it is a trick, it is a lie." This is the standpoint of those we call rational, skeptics. They say what is not visible in the seed cannot be present in the flower -- something is wrong. Hence a skeptical person cannot believe a Buddha, cannot accept a Mahavir, cannot embrace a Jesus, because he says he already knows them.

When Jesus came to his village he was very surprised -- the people of the village didn't bother about him at all. Jesus has said a prophet is never respected in his own country. What is the reason? Why won't the village respect its prophet? The village people have seen him as the son of the carpenter Joseph, saw him carrying wood, saw him planing wood, saw him sawing wood, saw him bathed in sweat, saw him playing and fighting in the streets. The people of the village have known him since childhood, have seen him there as a seed. How is it possible that he suddenly becomes the son of God! No, those who saw the seed cannot accept the flower. They say there must be some fraud, some cheating; this man is a hypocrite.

Buddha returned to his village. And the father -- what the whole world could see, the father could not see. The world was experiencing an illumination, the news was spreading far and wide, people began coming from distant countries. But when Buddha came back to his home after twelve years, his father said, "I can still forgive you. Though what you did was wrong, you tormented us, you have certainly done a crime, I have a father's heart -- I will forgive you. The doors are open for you. Throw away this begging bowl, remove these monk's clothes. None of this will do here. Come back -- this kingdom is yours. I have become old; who is going to look after it? Much childishness has gone on, now stop all this play!"

Buddha said, "Please look at me. The one who left has not returned. Someone else has come, the one who was born in your house has not come back. Someone else is here, the seed has returned as a flower. Look deeply."

The father said, "You are going to teach me? I have known you since the day you were born! Go and deceive others; go and lecture other people and delude them -- you cannot deceive me. I repeat again, I know you perfectly well -- don't try to teach me. I am willing to forgive you."

Buddha said, "You say you know me? I didn't even know myself before. Only recently have the rays of light descended and I have come to know myself. Excuse me, but I have to say that the one you saw is not me. Whatever you saw is not me. You saw the outer shell, but did you look inside me? I was born out of you but you did not create me. I came via you as traveller comes via a certain route, but what do the traveller and the road have to do with each other? Suppose that tomorrow the road says 'I know you, your being has come from me' -- just as you are saying.

"I existed before you. I have been on this journey for many lives. I certainly passed through you, as I have passed through others. Others too have been my father, others too have been my mother. But my being is completely separate."

It is very difficult, extremely difficult: If you saw the seed you cannot believe the flower is in front of you.

One way of looking is that of the distrustful, the rational, the skeptical. They say, "We know the seed so this flower is not possible. We know the mud: how can a lotus come from it? It is all false -- a dream, an illusion. He must have fallen into a kind of hypnosis. Someone deceived him; some magic, some spell...."

This is one way. The other is the way of trust -- of the lover, the devotee, of the heart filled with empathy. He sees the flower and from the flower begins traveling backwards. He says, "When the flower has become so fragrant, when such radiance appears in the flower, when there is such beauty in the flower, when such fresh innocence is seen in the flower, then certainly it must also have been present in the seed -- because it is not possible that what is present in the flower was not already in the seed."

It is not that these stories actually happened. Those who saw flowers bloom in Ashtavakra concluded that what has happened today must have also been present yesterday -- it was hidden, screened, behind a veil. What is here in the end, must have been present at the beginning also. What is seen at the moment of death must also have been present at the moment of birth; otherwise how could it arise?

So one way is to look backwards from the flower, and the other is to look forward from the seed. If you look carefully their essence is the same, their foundation is the same, but what a difference: like between earth and sky! The one who knows the seed says, "How can what is not in the seed be in the flower?" This is his argument. The one who knows the flower says the same thing. He says, "What is in the flower should be in the seed too." They have the same argument. But each has a different way of looking.

It is a great hindrance. I have been asked, "In your childhood many people studied with you -- in school, in college -- but they are not to be seen here." How can they be? -- it is a great hindrance for them. They cannot believe what they see, it is tremendously difficult for them.

Just yesterday somebody sent me a newspaper from Raipur. Shri Harishankar Parsai has written an article against me. He knows me, knows me from my college days. He is the leading Hindi satirical writer. I respect his writing. In the article he writes, "There must be some wrong with the atmosphere of Jabalpur. Here only swindlers and charlatans are born -- like Osho, Mahesh Yogi and Mundra."

He listed three names. I must thank him that at least I am number one on his list! He considers me this worthy. He didn't completely push me out of his mind. It is not that he has completely forgotten me. But his difficulty is natural, clear and simple. I can understand his point. It is impossible -- he saw the seed; how can he trust the flower? And those who have seen the flower have difficulty trusting in the seed.

So the life story of all great men can be written from two angles. Those who are against him begin the journey from his childhood. Those who are for him begin the journey from the end and go backwards to childhood. Both are in a way right. But those who start with childhood and move towards the end will miss the truth. Their right approach is suicidal. Those who travel from the end and move backwards are blessed. They will get much with no effort... much that those thinking the first, the skeptics way, will not get.

Now not only am I wrong, but because of me the very air of Jabalpur is wrong! There must be something wrong in the environment. But I want to tell him that Jabalpur has no power over me, whether the environment is good or bad. I don't have much connection with Jabalpur; I was only there for a few years. Mahesh Yogi was also there a few years; he also has no connection.

Both of us are connected with another place. The people of that place are so sleepy that even now they don't know anything about us. Mahesh Yogi and my places of birth are very near to each other; Both of us were born near Gadarvada. He was born in Chichli, I was born in Kuchwada. If the environment is bad, it must be there. Gadarvada should be suffering for it, or receiving the blessing -- Jabalpur should not be dragged into this.

But what arguments the mind creates!

Whoever hears Ashtavakra's story will immediately cry "False, impossible!" Of course those who wrote this story know that no one ever speaks from the womb. They are only saying that what finally appears must have been present in the womb. The voice that later blossomed must have been present in some deep place in the womb; otherwise from where did it blossom, from where did it come? Do things just come out of the void?

There is a reason behind everything. We may not be able to see it but it must have been present. All these stories indicate this.

The second incident known about Ashtavakra happened when he was twelve years old. Only these two incidents are known. The third is his Ashtavakra Gita, or as some call it, the Ashtavakra Samhita. When Ashtavakra was twelve years old, Janak hosted a huge debating conference. Janak was an emperor, and he invited the pundits of the whole country to debate on the scriptures. He had one thousand cows placed at the palace gate and had the horns of the cows plated with gold and decorated with jewels. He proclaimed, "Whoever is victorious, shall take possession of these cows."

It was a great debate. Ashtavakra's father also participated. As dusk was falling, the message came to Ashtavakra that his father was losing. He had already defeated all the others, but he was about to be defeated by a pundit named Vandin. Receiving this message Ashtavakra went to the palace.

The hall was decorated. The debate was in its final stage and the decisive moment was fast approaching. His father's defeat was a complete forgone conclusion -- he was on the very edge of defeat.

The pundits saw Ashtavakra as he entered the royal court. They were all learned scholars. His body was bent and deformed in eight places: he had just to move and anyone would start laughing. His very movement was a laughing matter.

The whole meeting broke into laughter. Ashtavakra also roared with laughter. Janak asked, "Everyone else is laughing. I can understand why they laugh, but why did you laugh, my son?"

Ashtavakra said, "I am laughing because truth is being decided in this conference of butchers" -- the man must have been extraordinary. "What are all these skinners doing here?"

A deep silence fell over the meeting. Butchers? Skinners?

The king asked, "What do you mean?"

Ashtavakra said, "It is simple and straightforward: They only see skin, they don't see me. It is difficult to find a man more pure and simple than me, but they don't see this; they see a bent and deformed body. They are skinners, they judge by the skin. Your Majesty, in the curve of a temple is the sky curved? When a pot is smashed, is the sky smashed? The sky is beyond change. My body is twisted, but I am not. Look at the one within. You can't find anything more straight and pure."

It was a very startling declaration. There must have been pin-drop silence. Janak was impressed, astounded: "Absolutely right, why had he gathered a crowd of skinners there?" He became repentant, he felt guilty that he too had laughed.

That day the king couldn't manage to say anything, but the following day when he was out on his morning ride he saw Ashtavakra on the way. Janak dismounted from his horse and fell at his feet. The day before, in front of everyone, he couldn't find the courage. The day before he had said, "Why do you laugh, my son?" Ashtavakra was a boy of twelve years, and Janak had considered his age. This day he didn't notice the age. This day he got down from his horse and fell at Ashtavakra's feet, spread-eagled in prostration.

He said, "Please visit the palace, and satisfy my eagerness for the truth. Oh lord, be so gracious as to come to my home. I have understood! I couldn't sleep the whole night. You spoke truly: what depth of understanding have those who recognize only the body? They are debating the being, but attraction and repulsion for the body still arise; hate and attraction still arise. They are looking at death while talking of the deathless! I'm blessed that you came and disturbed me, that you broke my sleep. Please come to the palace!"

Janak had the palace decorated magnificently. He welcomed Ashtavakra and seated him on a golden throne -- this twelve year old Ashtavakra. Then he put his questions to him. The first sutra is Janak's inquiry. Janak asked and Ashtavakra explained. Beyond this, nothing is known about Ashtavakra. And there is no need to know more, it is more than enough! Diamonds are not many; only pebbles and rocks are so common. A single diamond is enough.

These are two small incidents. One before birth: a voice from the womb with the proclamation, "What madness have you fallen into? Confused by scriptures... by words? Wake up! This is not wisdom, this is all borrowed. It is all snares of the mind, not experience. There isn't the slightest bit of reality in it. How long are you going to delude yourself?"

And the second incident: the pundits in the palace laughing and Ashtavakra's saying that in life there are two visions: one is to see being and the other is to see skin.

Butchers see skin, the wise see being.

Have you noticed? A shoemaker doesn't look at your face, he sees only your shoes. Actually a shoemaker can know everything about you just by looking at your shoes: How your economic situation is, if you are successful or a failure; how your luck is.... The condition of the shoes tells him. Your autobiography is written on your shoes -- the shoemaker can read it. If the shoes are shiny, if the shoes are clean and new, the shoemaker is happy to meet you. For him your shoes are the proof of your being. A tailor looks at clothes. Seeing how you dress he understands your situation. All have their own narrow vision.

Only one full of his own being sees being. He has no fixed vision. He has only seeing, darshan.

One more small incident -- it is not about Ashtavakra but about Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, but Ashtavakra is involved in it.... After this we will enter the sutras.

When Vivekananda came to Ramakrishna his name was still Narendranath -- later on Ramakrishna named him Vivekananda. When he came to Ramakrishna he was extremely argumentative, an atheist, a rationalist. He wanted proof for everything.

There are some things that have no proof -- it cannot be helped. There is no proof for godliness: it is, and yet there is no proof. There is no proof for love. It is, and yet there is no proof. There is no proof for beauty. It is, and yet there is no proof.

If I say, "Look how beautiful these ironwood trees are," and you say, "I don't see any beauty -- Trees are just trees. Prove it!," it will be difficult. How can one prove they are beautiful? To be beautiful you need a sense of beauty -- there is no other way. You need eyes -- there is no other way. It is reported that Majnu said, "To know Laila you will need the eyes of Majnu." It is true; to see Laila there is no other way.

The king of his area called Majnu and said. "You are mad! I know your Laila -- an ordinary girl, jet black -- nothing special. I feel sorry for you, so here are twelve girls from my palace -- they are the most beautiful women of the country. You can chose any one you like. Seeing you cry, my heart also cries. "

Majnu looked at them and said, "There is no Laila among them. They cannot even be compared to Laila, they are not even worth the dust of her feet."

The king said, "Majnu, you are mad...!"

Majnu said, "That may be so, but I must tell you one thing: to see Laila you will need the eyes of Majnu."

Majnu is right. To see the beauty of trees you need an eye for art -- there is no other proof. If one wants to know love, one will need the heart of a lover -- there is no other proof. And godliness is the collective name of all the beauty, all the love and all the truth of this universe. For it an unwavering consciousness is needed, a witnessing is needed... where no word remains, no thought remains, no wave arises... where no mental dust remains and the mirror of consciousness is perfectly pure. What proof?

Vivekananda told Ramakrishna, "I want proof. If God exists then prove it!"

Ramakrishna looked at Vivekananda. This youth had great promise, great potential; much was ready to happen within him. There was a great treasure with which Vivekananda was unacquainted. Ramakrishna looked into, peered into, the past lives of this youth. Vivekananda had come carrying a great treasure, a great treasure of integrity, but it was suppressed under his logic. Seeing this, a cry of anguish and compassion must have risen from Ramakrishna's heart. He said, "Forget all this. We'll talk about proof and such things later on. I have become a little old, I have difficulty reading; you are young, you eyes are still strong -- read from the book lying there." It was the Ashtavakra Gita. "Read a little out loud to me."

It is said that Vivekananda saw nothing wrong in this, this fellow was not requesting anything special. He read three or four sutras and every cell began trembling. He started to panic and he said, "I cannot read on."

Ramakrishna insisted, " Go ahead and read. What harm can there be in it? How can this book hurt you? You are young, your eyes are still fresh, and I am old, it is hard for me to read. I must hear this book -- read it out to me."

It is said that Vivekananda kept on reading aloud from the book -- and disappeared in meditation. Ramakrishna had seen great potential in this youth, a very promising potential, like that of a bodhisattva who one day or other is destined to become a buddha. Sooner or later, no matter how much he wanders, he is approaching buddhahood.

Why did Ramakrishna ask that he read the Ashtavakra Gita out loud to him? Because there is no purer statement of truth.

If these words penetrate you, they will start awakening your sleeping soul.

These words will thrill you. These words will fill you with ecstasy. These words will shock you.

With these words the revolution can take place.

I have not chosen the Ashtavakra Gita just like that. Nor could I have chosen it earlier -- I have chosen it after a long wait, after much consideration. There was a time when I talked on Krishna's Gita because there was a crowd around me. For a crowd the Ashtavakra Gita has no meaning. With great effort I have got rid of the crowd.

Now there are a few Vivekanandas here.

Now I want to talk to those who have great potential.

I will work with those few on whom work can bring results. Now I will cut diamonds. This chisel is not to be destroyed on pebbles and stones. This why I have chosen the Ashtavakra Gita: I have chosen it because you are ready.

The first sutra....

Janak asked: "Oh lord, how does one attain wisdom? And how does liberation happen? And how is nonattachment attained? Please tell me this."

Tell me, Oh lord! Explain it to me.

To a boy of twelve King Janak says, "Oh lord! Bhagwan! Please explain! Give some understanding to an unknowing person like me! Awaken an ignorant person like me."

Three questions are asked....

"How does one attain wisdom?" Naturally, we might wonder: Why does he need to ask? There are books filled with these things. Janak also knew this.

What books are filled with is not wisdom. It is simply the dust wisdom leaves behind -- ash. When the flame of wisdom burns, ash is left behind. Ash goes on accumulating, and it becomes scripture. The Vedas are ash; once they were burning coals. Vedic sages burnt them in their souls and ash was left behind. Then the ashes were collected, compiled and systematically organized.

It is like people collecting the ashes and bones when a man's body has been burnt. They call these "flowers." People are very strange! They never called the man a flower when he was alive, but after burning him they collect his bones saying that they have collected the flowers. Then they preserve them, keep them in a casket. While the man was living they never respected him as a flower; while he was living they never even looked at him as a flower. When he dies -- man is insane! -- they call his bones, his ashes, flowers.

In the same way when a Buddha is alive you do not listen. When a Mahavir walks among you, you get angry. It seems that this man is destroying your dreams or is interfering with your sleep: "Is this any time to be woken up? Just as my dreams have started coming true, just as success is entering my life, just as my chances are getting better, as the arrow is hitting the target -- now this fellow comes and says everything is meaningless! Just as I win the elections and the way is open to get into power, this great man comes along, and says it is all a dream, it has no meaning, that death will come and take everything. Don't talk like this! When death comes we will see, but don't even bring up such things now."

But when Mahavir dies or Buddha dies we collect all their ashes. We create the Dhammapada, we create the Vedas, out of them, and then we offer flowers of worship.

Janak also knew that the scriptures are filled just with information. But he asked, "How does one attain wisdom?" -- because no matter how much you know, wisdom is not attained. You can go on gathering more and more knowledge, learn the scriptures by heart, become parrots, memorize each and every sutra, let the complete Vedas be imprinted in your memory -- but still there will be no wisdom.

"How does one attain wisdom? How does liberation happen?" He asks because what you call wisdom, knowledge, binds you instead -- how can this be liberation? Wisdom is that which liberates you. Jesus has said, "The truth shall make you free." Wisdom is that which liberates you -- this is the criterion of truth. Pundits don't appear to be liberated, they look enslaved. They talk about liberation but they don't look free. They seem to be bound with a thousand fetters.

Have you ever observed: your so-called religious people seem to be more enslaved than you. You may have a little freedom, but your saints are more stuck than you. They are just blind followers of tradition. They cannot move freely, they cannot sit freely, they cannot live freely.

A few days ago a message came to me from some Jaina sadhvis, Jaina nuns, saying they want to meet me, but their disciples do not allow them to come. This is a very strange situation! A sadhvi means one who no longer bothers about society, one who has started a journey into the unknown wilderness, one who has said, "Now I have no need of either your respect or your honor." But the nuns and monks say, "The disciples do not allow us to come." They say, "Don't even think of going there. If you go there we will close our doors on you." What kind of seeker are they? This is just dependency, slavery. This is completely backwards. It means that instead of the sadvi transforming the disciple, the disciple is transforming the sadvi.

A friend came and told me that a Jaina sadhvi reads my books, but only in secret. She also tries to listen to my tapes, but again secretly. And if by chance anyone mentions my name in her presence, she sits there pretending she has never heard of me. Is this liberation?

Janak asked, "How does liberation happen? What is liberation? Explain to me the wisdom which liberates."

Freedom is man's most important longing. Achieve everything, but if you are still unfree, it hurts. Attain everything, but if freedom is not attained, you have not attained anything. Man wants the open sky, unbounded. This is man's innermost longing, most secret longing -- for a space where there are no limits, no barriers. You may call it the longing to become divine or call it the longing for moksha, liberation.

In Sanskrit we have chosen the right word, moksha. Such a lovely word does not exist in any other language. There are words like heaven, paradise, but those words don't have the melody of moksha. Moksha has a unique music. It simply means a freedom so ultimate that it has no barrier; a freedom so pure it is unlimited.

Janak asked, "And how does liberation happen? And how is nonattachment attained? Oh lord, please tell me this."

Ashtavakra must have looked carefully at Janak -- because this is the first thing a master does when someone inquires. He observes attentively: from what source is this inquiry arising? Why has the questioner asked something? The master's answer can be significant only if he understands clearly why the question is asked.

Remember, a person who has attained truth -- a master -- does not answer your question. He answers you.

He doesn't bother much about what you ask, he is more concerned with why you have asked, what is behind the question, the complex hidden in the unconscious, what desire is actually hiding behind the screen of your question.

There are four types of people in the world: the wise, the seeker, the ignorant, the idiot. And there are four types of inquiry. The first inquiry is wordless -- the inquiry of the wise, the gyani, the one who knows. Actually the inquiry of the wise is not an inquiry at all. He knows -- nothing is left to be known. He has reached; the mind has become clear, become calm. He has come home, he has come to a state of relaxation.

So a gyani's inquiry is not an inquiry at all. This does not mean that a gyani is not ready to learn. A gyani becomes simple, like a small child -- he is always ready to learn. The more you learn, the more readiness to learn increases. The more you become simple and innocent, the more you open to learning. Winds come and find your doors open. The sun comes and doesn't need to knock on your door. Existence comes and finds you always available.

A gyani does not collect knowledge, he simply has the capacity to know. Understand this well, because it will be useful for you. Gyani simply means one who is open totally to learning, who has no prejudice, who has no buffers against learning, who has no pre-planned system or structure for knowing. A gyani means a dhyani, one who is meditative.

Ashtavakra must have observed carefully, looked into Janak and seen this person is not a gyani, he has not attained meditation; otherwise his inquiry would be silent, there would be no words in it.

There is an incident in Buddha's life.... A fakir came to meet him; a lone ascetic came to see him, a wanderer. He came and said to Buddha: "I have no words capable of asking, I have no skill to bring what I want to ask into words. You know it already. Understand and say whatever is right for me." This is the inquiry of one who knows.

Buddha was sitting silently. He didn't say a thing. After a short time it seemed as if something happened! The man had been looking at Buddha, and now his eyes started overflowing with tears. He bowed at Buddha's feet and said, "Thank you! I am really fortunate -- you gave me what I came here for." He got up and left. His face was radiating an aura of unique splendor. He went dancing.

The disciples around Buddha were confused. Ananda asked, "Bante, Bhagwan! It is a mystery. First this man says, 'I don't know how to ask, I don't know in which words to ask, I don't even know what I have come to ask. But you know everything. Look at me, say whatever is needed for me.' First, this man is a mystery. Is this any way to inquire? If you don't know what to ask, then why ask at all? How can you ask? Incredible!

"But the matter doesn't end here. You were sitting silently, and you went on sitting silently. We have never seen you sit so mute. If someone asks, you answer. Sometimes it happens that someone doesn't ask and still you answer. Your compassion is always flowing. What happened that suddenly you were silent and your eyes closed? And then what alchemy happened that the man began being transformed? We saw him changing. We saw him undergoing a complete mutation. We saw ecstasy coming over him. He has gone dancing, flowing with tears, overwhelmed, ecstatic. He bowed at your feet. His fragrance has touched us too. What has happened? You didn't utter a word; how did he hear? And we are with you for so many days, for years. Is your compassion less towards us? Why don't we receive the grace you gave him?"

But remember, you get as much as you are able to receive.

Buddha said, "Listen. Horses. . .." He talks to Ananda about horses, because Ananda was a warrior. He was a cousin of Buddha and from an early age was very fond of horses. He was a rider. He was a famous rider, a great competitor.

"Listen, Ananda," Buddha said, "There are four types of horses. One type will not budge an inch even if you whip it -- the most worthless of all horses. The more you whip them the more they stubbornly resist. They stand still -- as stubborn as a hatha yogi. If you whip them, you only provoke resistance.

"Then there is a second type of horse. If you whip them they move. If you don't whip them they won't move. At least they are better than the first.

"And there is a third type of horse. Just crack the whip -- to strike them is not necessary. Just crack the whip, the sound is enough. They are more aristocratic -- and better than the second kind.

"Then, Ananda, you must know those horses which run just by seeing the shadow of the whip. You don't even need to crack it. That man was that kind of horse: the shadow was enough."

Ashtavakra must have looked carefully.

When you come to ask me something, you yourself are a question, more important than what you ask. Sometimes you may also feel that I have answered a question you didn't ask. And perhaps you may even feel I have avoided your question, side stepped it and answered something else. But for me your inner need is always more important, what you ask is not important -- because you yourself don't really know what you are asking, why you are asking. The answer is being given only for your need; nothing of the answer is decided by your question.

Ashtavakra must have seen that Janak is not a gyani. Is he ignorant then? No, he is not ignorant either... because the ignorant person is arrogant, he stands proudly erect. He doesn't even know how to bow down -- and this man has bowed at his feet, stretched himself full length at the feet of a twelve year old boy. This is impossible for the ignorant. The ignorant thinks he already knows -- who is going to explain anything to him? If an ignorant person does ask, he asks just to prove you wrong, because the ignorant presumes he already knows and wants to see whether you know or not. The ignorant person asks to test you.

Ashtavakra must have thought, "No, Janak's eyes are very clear. Even though he's an emperor he asked me, an unknown, unfamiliar boy of twelve years, 'Oh lord! Please explain to me....' No he is humble, he is not ignorant. Is he an idiot then? Idiots never ask. Idiots don't have any idea that there are any problems in life."

There is a similarity between idiots and enlightened ones. For the enlightened ones no problem remains; for idiots no problem has yet arisen. Enlightened ones have gone beyond problems; the idiots have not yet entered them. Idiots are so unconscious, how can they ask questions? Will an idiot ask, What is wisdom? Will an idiot ask, What is liberation? Will an idiot ask, What is nonattachment? Impossible.

And if an idiot does ask, he will ask how to fulfill his passions. If an idiot asks, he will ask how to live here a few more days. Liberation? No, an idiot asks how to make his chains golden, how to inlay his chains with diamonds. If an idiot asks, he will ask such things. Wisdom? An idiot does not imagine that wisdom can exist. He cannot accept even the possibility. He will say, "What is wisdom?" An idiot lives like a beast.

No, Janak is not an idiot either. He is a mumukshu, a seeker of truth. The word mumukshu needs to be understood. Mumukshu is the desire for liberation, the desire for moksha.

Still he has not reached liberation: he is not a gyani. He is not standing with his back towards liberation: he is not an idiot. He is not sitting stuck to any traditional ideas about liberation: he is not ignorant either. He is a mumukshu. Mumukshu means that his inquiry is simple and straightforward. It is neither corrupted by idiocy nor twisted by ignorant preconceptions. His inquiry is pure -- he asks with an innocent mind.

Ashtavakra replied, "Oh Beloved, if you want liberation then renounce the vishayas the passions as visha, poison and take forgiveness, innocence, compassion, contentment and truth as nectar."

"If you want liberation then renounce the vishayas, the passions as visha, poison." The word vishaya is very meaningful. It is derived from visha, poison. The meaning of visha is a substance which, if one eats it, one will die. The meaning of vishaya is that which, if we consume it, we die again and again. With passions we die again and again. With food we die again and again; with ambitions, anger, hatred, burning jealousy -- consuming these, we go on dying again and again. We have died again and again because of these.

Up until now, have we known living in life? We have known only death. Our life until now... where is the flaming torch of life? There is only the smoke of death. From birth to death we are gradually dying. Are we living? We die every single day. What we call life is a continual process of dying. We don't know life yet: how can we live? The body goes on weakening every day, strength goes on decreasing every day. Enjoyment and passion go on sucking our energy every day, go on aging us. Passions and desires are like holes, and our energy, our being, goes on flowing out through them. In the end our pail is empty -- this is what we call death.

Have you ever seen? -- if you throw a bucket full of holes into a well, as long as it is submerged in water it seems to be full. Pull on the rope and lift it out of the water and already it has started emptying. It creates a great noise. Is this what you call life? Falling streams of water -- is this what you call life? And as the bucket draws closer to your hands, it becomes more and more empty. When it reaches your hands it is empty... not a single drop of water. This is how our life is.

When a child is not born yet, he seems to be full. Just born, he starts emptying. The first day of birth is the first day of his dying. He starts emptying: one day dead, two days dead, three days dead. What you call your birthday would be better called your deathday -- it would be nearer the truth. You have been dying for one year and you say a birthday has come. You have been dying for fifty years and you say you have lived for fifty years: "Let's celebrate my golden anniversary." But you died for fifty years. Death is drawing nearer and life is receding further and further: the bucket is emptying. Do you base your thinking about life on what is receding or do you base it on what is drawing nearer? What kind of inverted arithmetic is this? We are dying every day, death keeps creeping closer.

Ashtavakra says passions are poisonous, because by indulging them we simply die. We never get any life from them.

"Oh Beloved, if you want liberation then renounce the vishayas, the passions as visha, poison, and take forgiveness, innocence, compassion, contentment and truth as nectar."

Nectar means that which gives life, that which gives immortality, ambrosia -- when one has found it, one will never die again.

Then forgiveness. Anger is poison -- forgiveness is ambrosia.

Innocence. Deviousness is poison. Simplicity -- innocence is nectar.

Compassion. Hardheartedness, cruelty, is poison -- kindness, compassion, is nectar.

Contentment. The worm of discontent goes on eating up everything. The worm of discontent sits in the heart like a cancer. It goes on penetrating into it, it goes on spreading poison.

Contentment. Satisfaction with what is, no desire for what is not. What is, is more than enough. That it is, is more than enough. Open your eyes a little and see.

No one need impose contentment upon life. If you look attentively you will find that what you get is always more than what you need. You go on receiving what you want, you have always got what you want. If you wanted unhappiness you got unhappiness. If you wanted happiness you got happiness. If you wanted something wrong you got something wrong. Your desires have shaped your life.

Desire is the seed, and life is its harvest.

For life after life you have been getting what you desire. Many times you think you desire one thing but receive something else. Then the error is not in what you desire, you have only chosen a wrong word for what you desire. For example, you want success and get failure. You say you failed because what you wanted was success. But he who desired success had already accepted failure. Within, he has become afraid of failure. Because of failure he desires success. And whenever he wishes for success, the idea of failure comes; the idea of failure goes on becoming stronger. Sometimes he succeeds, but he is certain to spend his journey through life in failure after failure. The mood of failure goes on deepening. It deepens so much that one day it manifests. Then you complain that you wanted success. But in wanting success, you have wished for failure.

Lao Tzu has said, "Wish for success and you will fail. If you really want success, never wish for it. Then no one can make you a failure."

You say you wanted respect, but you are getting insults. A person who wants respect has no respect for himself, yet he wants respect from others. He who has no respect for himself wants others to cover it, to hide his lack of respect. This desire for respect is the sign that within, you feel disrespect for yourself. You have the feeling that you are nothing. Others should make you into something, should put you on a throne, should raise banners for you, should hoist flags in your name -- others should do something! You are a beggar. You have already insulted yourself when you wanted respect. And this insult goes on deepening.

Lao Tzu says, "No one can insult me because I don't want respect." This is what receiving respect is.

Lao Tzu says, "No one can defeat me because I have dropped the very idea of winning. How can you defeat me? You can only defeat one who wants to win." It is a strange fact.

In this world those who do not desire respect receive it. Those who do not want success get it, because those who do not want success already accept that they are successful: what more success do you want? You are already honored by the being within you: what more do you want? Existence has already given you respect by giving birth to you: who else's respect do you want? Existence has given you enough glory. It gave you life. It has blessed you with eyes -- open them and see these green trees, the flowers, the birds. It has given you ears -- listen to music, to the splashing of a water fall. It has given awareness so you can become a buddha: what more do you want? You have already been honored. Existence has certified you: who are you asking, like a beggar, for a certificate? Those who beg a certificate from you?

It is a very hilarious situation, two beggars face to face begging from each other. How can you get anything? Both are beggars. From who are you asking respect? Who are you standing in front of? You are insulting yourself this way. And the insult will deepen.

Contentment means: Look at what you have!

Open your eyes a little and see what you've already got.

This is an extremely valuable key Ashtavakra is giving. It will slowly become clear to you. Ashtavakra's view is very revolutionary, very unique. His revolution is from the very root.

"Take contentment and truth as nectar" -- because one who lives in falsehood will go on becoming more false. One who tells lies, lives in lies, will naturally be surrounded by lies. His connection to life will be shattered, his roots will be cut.

Do you want roots in existence? Those roots are possible only through truth. You can be linked to existence only through authenticity and truth. Do you want to be cut off from existence? Then create a smoke screen of lies, make great clouds of lies around you. The more you become false the farther away you will be from existence.

"You are neither earth, nor air, nor fire, nor water, nor ether. To attain liberation, know yourself as the witness, conscious of all these."

These statements are so immediate, not even an introduction. Ashtavakra has hardly uttered two sentences and meditation comes in; he begins to talk about samadhi, about deep meditation. One who knows has nothing except samadhi to share. He said two sentences first because if he had immediately started talking about samadhi, perhaps you would have been too startled to understand. But two sentences -- and immediately he is talking about samadhi.

Ashtavakra does not even take seven steps. Buddha took seven steps and on the eighth step, samadhi. Ashtavakra brings up samadhi on the very first step.

"You are neither earth, nor air, nor fire, nor water, nor ether." Let yourself relax into this truth. "To attain liberation, know yourself as the witness, conscious of all these."

The witness is the key.

There is no more valuable key than this.

Be the observer. Whatever happens, let it happen. There is no need to interfere with it. The body is composed of earth, air, fire, water and ether. You are the lamp within by which all these -- earth, air fire, water, ether -- are illuminated. You are the observer. Go deeply into this.

"Know yourself as the witness."

This is the most important sutra in existence. Be a witness. Wisdom will happen through it. Nonattachment will happen through it. Liberation will happen through it. The questions were three but the answer is one.

"If you can separate yourself from the physical body, and rest in consciousness, then this very moment you will be happy, at peace, and free of bondage."

"This very moment"! This is why I say it is a revolution from the very roots. Patanjali is not so courageous as to say, "This very moment." Patanjali says, "Practice discipline within and without. Practice control of breathing, turning inwards and yoga postures. Purify. This will take innumerable lives -- then enlightenment...."

Mahavir says, "Practice the five great vows. And when innumerable lives have passed, deconditioning will happen, purification will happen. Then one will cut the bonds of karma."

Listen to Ashtavakra: "If you can separate yourself from the physical body, and rest in consciousness, then this very moment you will be happy, at peace, and free of bondage."

Right here, right now, this very moment. "If you can separate yourself from the physical body, and rest in consciousness." If you begin to see the fact, "I am not the body, I am not the doer and enjoyer: I am that one hidden within me who sees all.... When childhood came it saw childhood, when youth came it saw youth, when old age came it saw old age. Childhood did not stay, so I cannot be childhood. It came and passed, still I am. Youth did not stay, so I cannot be youth. It came and passed, still I am. Old age came, and it is also going, so I cannot be old age. How can I be that which comes and goes? I am always. The one to whom childhood comes, to whom youth comes, to whom old age comes... to whom thousands of things have come and gone. I am that one eternal, everlasting."

Like railway stations they go on changing: childhood, youth, old age, birth. The traveller keeps moving. You never think you have become one with train stations. Coming to Poona station you do not think you are Poona. When you reach Manmad you don't think you are Manmad. You know that Poona has come and gone, Manmad has come and gone. You are a traveller. You are the observer that saw Poona: Poona came; who saw Manmad: Manmad came. You are the one who sees.

The first thing, separate what is happening from the observer.

"... separate yourself from the physical body, and rest in consciousness..." There is nothing else worth doing. Just as Lao Tzu's key sutra is surrender, Ashtavakra's key sutra is rest, relaxation. There is nothing to do.

People come to me and ask how to do meditation. The very question they ask is wrong. They ask a wrong question so I tell them just to do it. What should I do? I tell them, "Do -- something or other has to be done." You are itching to do something; that itch needs to be satisfied. If it itches, what to do? -- it can't be left unscratched. But gradually, just keeping them busy doing, I tire them out. Then they say, "Relieve us of this. How long are we to go on doing this?" I say, "I was ready from the beginning, but you needed time to understand. Now relax!"

The ultimate meaning of meditation is rest.

"... rest in consciousness...." He who lets his consciousness stop in relaxation, he who rests only in being.... There is nothing to do because you already have what you are seeking, because you have never lost what you are seeking. It is not possible to lose it -- it is your very nature. You are Brahma. Analhaq -- you are truth. What place are you seeking, where are you running to? In search of yourself, where are you running? Stop. Relax. Godliness is not attained by running, because it is hidden inside the runner. Godliness is not attained by doing anything, because it is hidden in the doer. To experience godliness nothing needs to be done -- you are it.

Hence Ashtavakra says "Rest in consciousness." Relax, let yourself unwind. Let go of this tension. Where are you going? There is nowhere to go, there is nowhere to reach to. "... and rest in consciousness," then right now, "this very moment you will be happy, at peace, and free of bondage."

The statement is unique. There is no other scripture comparable to it.

"You are not a brahmin or other caste, you are not in any of the four stages of life, you are not perceived by the eyes or other senses. Unattached and without form, you are the witness of the whole universe. Know this and be happy."

How can a brahmin write a commentary on this? "You are not a brahmin or other caste..." How can a Hindu take this scripture to heart? His whole religion is based on caste and stages of life. And from the very beginning Ashtavakra is cutting the roots of these beliefs. He says you are not a brahmin, not a low caste sudra, not a kshatriya warrior -- this is all nonsense. These are all projections. This is all the play of politics and society. You are simply Brahma, not a brahmin, not a kshatriya, not a sudra. "You are not a brahmin or other caste, you are not in any of the four stages of life...." And you are not a brahmacharya student, or a householder, or at the stage before sannyas -- you are not in any of the four stages of life. You are the observer, the witness who is inside passing through all these situations.

The Hindus cannot claim the Ashtavakra Gita as theirs, the Ashtavakra Gita is everyone's. If there were Muslims, Hindus and Christians in Ashtavakra's time, he would have said, "You are not a Hindu, not a Christian, not a Muslim." Who will build a temple for Ashtavakra? Who will champion his scripture? Who will claim him?... because he is denying everyone. It is a direct declaration of truth.

"Unattached and without form, you are the witness of the whole universe. Know this and be happy."

Ashtavakra does not say after you have known this you will become happy. Listen to the statement carefully. Ashtavakra says, "Know this and be happy."

"You are not a brahmin or other caste, you are not in any of the four stages of life, you are not perceived by the eyes or other senses. Unattached and without form, you are the witness of the whole universe. Know this and be happy."

Be happy. Be happy right now. Janak asks: How can one be happy? How can liberation happen? How can wisdom happen?

Ashtavakra says it can happen right now. There is no need to delay even a single moment. There is no reason to leave it for tomorrow, no need to postpone it. This happening does not occur in the future, it happens now or never. When it happens it happens right now, because there is no time except now. Where is the future? When it comes, it comes as now.

So those who have become enlightened, have become enlightened in the now. Do not leave it for some other time -- that is the cunning of the mind. The mind argues: "How can it happen so fast? Get ready first."

People come to meet me and they say, "We will take sannyas. We'll take it some day." Some day! They will never take it. If it is put off, it is put off forever. "Some day" never comes. If you are going to take it, take it now. There is no other time than now. Life is now, liberation is now. Ignorance is now, knowing is now. Sleep is now, awakening can happen now. Why some day?

It is difficult for the mind, the mind says, you will have to make preparations. The mind argues, "How can anything happen without preparations? When a person wants a certificate from the university, it takes years. For a doctorate it takes twenty to twenty-five years. Working year after year finally one attains his doctorate. How can it happen right now?"

Ashtavakra knows this. If you want to have a store, you can't open it right now. You will have to collect everything, arrange things, bring the goods, construct the store, attract customers, send out advertising -- it will take years! In this world nothing happens right now. It happens in orderly steps, and this is good. Ashtavakra knows this, I know it too. But there is one phenomenon in this world which takes place right now. It is godliness. Godliness is not your shop, nor your examination hall, not your university. Godliness does not happen in steps, it has already happened. It is merely a question of opening your eyes. The sun has already emerged. The sun is not waiting for your eyes, saying that until your eyes open he won't come out. The sun is already out. Light is spread all over. His music is resounding day and night. The sound of "AUM" is vibrating in all directions. The unstruck music is echoing everywhere. Open your ears! Open your eyes!

How much time does it take to open your eyes? It takes even less time to attain godliness. It takes a moment for the eyelid to blink. The Hindi word for moment means the time it takes to blink an eye. But it does not take even that much time to attain godliness.

"... you are the witness of the whole universe. Know this and be happy." Be happy right now.

Ashtavakra's religion is not by installments. It is cash in hand, hard cash.

"Oh expansive one, religion and atheism, happiness and misery, all are of the mind, they are not for you. You are not the doer nor the enjoyer. You have always been liberated."

Enlightenment is our inherent nature. Wisdom is our inner nature. Godliness is our way of being. It is our center. It is the fragrance of our life, our being.

Ashtavakra says, "Oh expansive one, oh bringer of joy, oh luxurious magnificence, religion and atheism, happiness and misery, all are of the mind. These are all waves of thought." You have done evil or good, committed sin or done good deeds, built a temple or given alms -- all this is of the mind.

"You are not the doer nor the enjoyer. You have always been liberated."

You are eternally free, you have always been free.

Liberation is not a happening which we have to work for.

Liberation has already happened in our being.

The whole existence is made of freedom. Every particle of it, every pore of it is made of liberation. Freedom is the material from which the whole existence is produced. Freedom is its very nature.

This declaration -- just understand it and the transformation takes place. There is nothing to do except understand it. If it descends into you, if you listen with your whole mind, it is enough.

I would like to say "Enough for today." Make a total effort to understand Ashtavakra. In Ashtavakra there is no place for doing. So don't think some method which you can do is going to emerge. Ashtavakra does not suggest anything to do. Listen in repose. Nothing is going to happen by doing.

So don't bring a scratch pad or book to take notes in when a sutra comes. Don't write it down to do later. Doing doesn't work here. Listen with no concern for the future. Just listen. Just sit quietly with me and listen. Listen to me in relaxation. Just listening... listening, you can become enlightened.

This is why Mahavir said that a shravaka is a seeker who can be enlightened just by listening! A shravaka means one who becomes liberated just by listening. A sadhu means one who cannot become liberated by listening. He is a little less intelligent -- he has to practice something. The shadow of the whip is not enough for him. This horse belongs to a slightly lower class: the whip cracks, then it moves a little. Or beat it and it moves a little.

The shadow is enough.

Listen -- the shadow of the whip will become apparent.

With Ashtavakra one thing has to be remembered: There is nothing to do. You can listen joyfully. You don't have to extract anything from it to try out later. Whatever happens will happen from listening.

Right listening is the key.

"This very moment you will be happy, at peace and free of bondage."

Be liberated right now. Be enlightened this very moment. Nobody is stopping you, nothing is preventing you. There is no need to budge an inch. Be enlightened right where you are, because you are free already. Awaken and be enlightened.

"Unattached and without form, you are the witness of the whole universe. Know this and be happy."

Be happy. There is no need to wait a single moment. It is a leap, a quantum leap. With Ashtavakra there are no steps. It is not a gradual evolution but sudden. It can happen this very moment.

Hari Om Tat Sat.

Enough for today.

Chapter No. 2 - Strangers in a Strange Land
12 September 1976 am in Gautam the Buddha Auditorium

The first question:

Question 1


We are on this earth, but in fact we cannot be on this earth, and we are not. We feel it: we are strangers to this earth. We have made a home in our body, but our body is not our home.

It is as if someone settles abroad and forgets his homeland. Suddenly in the market one day he meets someone who reminds him of home, who speaks his own language. For a moment the foreign country will vanish and his homeland will be present.

This is the significance of scriptures.

This is the real purpose of the words of the masters.

After listening to them, for a moment we are no longer here. We go where we belong. We flow in their music. The situations which had completely involved us vanish, and that which was very far away comes near.

Ashtavakra's words are absolutely unique. Hearing them, it will happen again and again: again and again you will feel you are not on this earth but have become part of the sky -- because these words are of the sky. These words come from the homeland, come from that from which source we all come, the source to which we must return. Without going back to it we will never find peace.

Where we are is like an inn, not a home. No matter how much we may insist it is a home, still an inn remains an inn. Try to explain it away, to forget it; it makes no difference. The thorn goes on pricking us, the memory keeps on coming. And sometime, if we happen to encounter such a truth that pulls us, and like a magnet would show us another world, then we feel we are not part of this earth. It is good: "While listening to the discourse yesterday, I felt that I was not of this earth." There is no one who is of this earth. We appear to be of it, we feel as if we are: in reality we exist in the sky. Our nature is of the sky.

Being means the inner sky.

Body means the earth, the body is made of earth. You are made of sky.

These two have met within you.

You are the horizon where the earth seems to be meeting the sky. But has it ever met it? Far away the horizon appears -- sky touching earth. Start walking towards it, expecting to reach it in a minute or two. Continue walking for life after life -- you will never reach a place where the sky touches the earth. It is only a mirage. It always appears that you can touch it a little further on, just a little further.

The horizon does not exist, it only appears to. It is the same inside us as with the outer horizon. Inside no contact ever happens either. How will being touch body? How will the mortal meet the immortal? Milk mixes with water -- both are of the earth. But how will being merge with body? Their basic quality is different. However near they come, they cannot touch. They may be forever near, still they cannot touch, they cannot meet. It is only our assumption, our concept -- the horizon exists only as our idea.

If you allow Ashtavakra's statements to penetrate your heart like arrows, they will awaken and remind you. They will arouse that long forgotten memory. For a moment the sky will open, the clouds will break, and your life will be filled with sunlight.

It may be difficult: the experience goes against our whole way of life. It will cause discomfort. And you did not disperse the clouds within, they were dispersed by the words of a master -- the clouds will gather again. Before you reach home, again the clouds will surround you. You won't drop your habits so quickly. Again the clouds will gather, and you will be more uneasy. You will doubt. Was it not a dream that you saw? Was it not some kind of projection? Was it not a trick of the ego, of the mind? Perhaps you fell into a kind of madness?

Naturally, the weight of your habits is heavy, very old. Darkness is ancient -- it doesn't exist, still it is ancient. Whenever rays of sunlight burst in, they are fresh -- absolutely new, freshly bathed. You see them for a moment, and again you are lost in darkness. Your darkness has a very long history. When you weigh these two, doubt arises about sunlight but not about darkness. Darkness should be doubted. Instead sunlight is doubted because its rays are new, and darkness is very old. Darkness is like a tradition coming down from century to century. The rays of light have just arrived -- fresh, new. So new, how can they be trusted?

"I felt I was not of this earth." There is no one who is of this earth. We cannot be of this earth. To think otherwise is our belief, our projection. It seems so, but it is not the truth.

"... And I felt I was a small particle of light in the infinite sky." This is the beginning, "a small particle of light in the infinite sky." You will soon feel, "I am the infinite sky." This is the start.

Right now we are not ready to be completely absorbed in the infinite sky. And if we feel the flight coming, the storm coming, that winds are carrying us away, still we keep separate and save ourselves. "... a particle of light." You are no longer darkness, you have become a particle of light. But the difference from the sky is still there; the division remains, a gap remains. The ultimate will happen the day you become the sky. The particle of light is also separate. The day you become integrated, one, on that day you will feel "I am the vast empty sky."

That's how we express it in language: "I am empty sky." But how is it possible as long as "I" is there? If "I" is, then the sky remains separate. When the feeling of empty sky comes, then "I" will be gone, only empty sky will remain.

People say aham brahmasmi -- I am God, I am Brahma. But when Brahma is, how can "I" remain? Only Brahma remains, not I. But there is no other way to express it.

Language is for people who are asleep. Language belongs to those who have settled in a strange country but consider it their homeland.

Silence is for those who know.

Language is for the ignorant.

So as soon as you say anything, just saying it truth becomes untruth. "Aham brahmasmi" -- I am Brahma, I am the sky. Say it, it becomes a lie. Only sky is. But to say, "Only sky is" is not the whole truth, because "only" indicates that there must be something more; otherwise why the emphasis on "only"? "Sky is"? There is difficulty even in saying this because "is" can become "is not."

We say, "The house is." Some day it will cease to be, it may fall down, become a ruin. We say, "The man is." Some day the man will die. The sky is not like this, that sometimes it is and sometimes not. The sky always is, so to say "Sky is" is a repetition. The very nature of the sky is to be. So why repeat "is"? It is correct to say "is" for those things which some day cease to exist. A man is. One day he was not, today he is, and tomorrow again he will not be. Our "is" exists between two "nots."

The isness of the sky was yesterday, is today and will also be tomorrow. What is the meaning of "is" between two "ises"? "Is" has meaning between two "is nots." So to say "Sky is" is also a repetition. Let us say, "sky." But when we say sky, when we make a word, even then it is wrong. Just to say sky means there is something which is different from it, separate from it; otherwise what is the need of a word? If there is only one, there is no need to say one. One is meaningful only when two is, three is, four is -- where there are numbers. Why say sky?

This is why wisdom is silent. It is impossible to bring the ultimate wisdom into words.

But we are fortunate that rare individuals like Ashtavakra have made untiring, impossible efforts. As much as it is possible they have made the effort to bring the fragrance of truth into words.

And note: few have been as successful as Ashtavakra in their attempt. Many have attempted to bring the truth into words -- all were defeated. Defeat is certain. But if you look among the defeated, the least defeated is Ashtavakra. He is the most successful. If you listen rightly you will be reminded of your home.

It is auspicious that you felt you were a particle of light. Prepare to be lost. One day you will feel that the particle of light is also lost, and only sky remains. Then drunkenness will completely overwhelm you. Then you will drown in the wine of truth. Then you will dance. Then you will experience the full taste of nectar.

"After discourse, an experience of lightness and aloneness continued. I wanted to keep wandering in this sky." Here we make a small mistake. When we have any pleasant experience, we want it again and again. How weak man's mind is! It is full of desires, full of greed; temptations go on arising. It wants to repeat whatever is pleasant. But remember one thing: repetition is already wrong. As soon as you wish "Let it happen again" it can never take place, because the first time it occurred it was not from your desire. It happened by itself, it was not your act.

This is where Ashtavakra puts the whole emphasis: truth happens. It is not an act, it is a happening. It happened to you while listening. What were you doing? Listening means you weren't doing anything. You were sitting feeling empty. You were silent, you were alert, you were awake, you were not asleep. Good! But what were you doing? You were simply a receiver. Your mind was mirrorlike -- what came before it was reflected, what was said was heard. You were not adding anything to it. If you were adding anything it would never have happened. You were not making commentaries. You were not in your mind saying, "Yes, this is right, that is wrong. I agree with it, I disagree. It is according to the scriptures," or "It is not." You were not making logical statements about it. If you had been lost in logic, this happening would never have taken place.

The one who has asked -- Swami Om Prakash Sarasvati -- I know him. His mind is far away from logic, far away from doubts and arguments. Those days are gone. He may have made logical arguments once, may have raised doubts. Now he has ripened from the experiences of life. Now that childishness is not in the mind. This is why it could happen. He was simply listening, sitting, not doing anything -- he just went on sitting and it happened.

It happened the first time without your doing anything. If you want it to happen a second time, this will create a disturbance. Desiring was not the cause of its happening. So when such a rare happening takes place, do not desire. When it happens, accept it joyously. When it doesn't happen don't complain, do not ask for it. Ask and you will miss. In asking is a demand, an insistence: "It should happen. It happened once, why doesn't it happen now?"

This occurs every day. When people come here to meditate, in the beginning they are fresh and new. They have no experience, so it happens. This is very surprising. You must comprehend this -- it will help you understand Ashtavakra better. This is my daily experience. When people come new and fresh and they have no experience of meditation, it happens. It happens and they are filled with joy -- but the very experience creates difficulty. Then expectations begin: what happened today should happen tomorrow; not just happen, but happen stronger. But it doesn't happen again and they approach me, crying. They say, "What happened? Have we made some mistake? It happened once, but now it's not."

"This is your mistake," I tell them. "When it first happened you were not expecting anything; now you are. Now the mind is no longer innocent. Your expectation has contaminated it. Now you are not genuine, you are not open -- asking has closed the doors. Expectation has arisen, and this expectation spoils everything. Now desire is aroused, greed enters."

This happens every day. People who have meditated a long time go on trying many methods but drop into meditation only with great difficulty. Their experience becomes a barrier. Sometimes someone just comes, flowing with the vibe... he had never even thought about meditation. A friend was coming, so he thought "Let's go see what it is." He came out of curiosity -- no desire, no spiritual searching, no efforts toward meditation -- he just came. Something was triggered inside when he saw others meditating and he joined them. Then it happened! He was surprised: "I didn't come for meditation, but meditation happened." Now the problems start. Now, when he comes again there is expectation. The mind is interested: it must happen again. There is greed, a desire for repetition. The mind has come in and the whole process is disturbed.

It happens only when there is no mind.

Remember, mind is the desire for repetition.

Let the pleasant happen again, let the unpleasant never repeat -- this is the mind. The mind chooses: let this happen and that not happen. Let it happen again and again like this, but never like that -- this is the mind.

When you begin to flow with life: whatever happens, okay; what doesn't, okay.... Suffering comes, it is accepted. Suffering comes, there is no resistance. Happiness comes, it is accepted. Happiness comes, there is no excitement. When there is calmness, in both happiness and suffering, an equanimity starts arising. Then happiness and suffering begin to appear very similar -- because no choice is left. Now it is out of our hands. What happens happens.

We go on watching -- this is what Ashtavakra calls sakshi-bhav, witnessing. And he says if witnessing is attained, everything is attained. Inside, sakshi-bhav awakens the witness, outside it brings equanimity.

Equanimity is the shadow of witnessing.

Or if you achieve equanimity, witnessing comes. These two go together. They are the two feet or the two wings of the same phenomenon.

"I wanted to keep wandering in this sky." Be alert. Don't give the mind a chance to destroy the moments of meditation. This same mind has already destroyed your life. It has spoiled all of your relationships. This mind has made your whole life dry like a desert. Where many flowers could have blossomed there are only thorns. Do not bring this mind with you on your inward journey. Say good-bye to it and take your leave. Lovingly, bid it farewell. Tell it, "It is enough. Now I won't demand anything. Whatever happens I will be awake, I will be watching."

As soon as you demand, you can no longer be a witness. You become identified as the one who enjoys and suffers. Then meditation vanishes. To be identified means you are saying: "I am the one who enjoyed this, it made me happy."

"I do not know what knowledge, karma, and devotion are, but in aloneness I wish to remain immersed in this state." Throw this wish away, and you will slip into the same state. Not only in aloneness but in the crowd you will slip into it. Even if you are in the market you will remain immersed. This state has nothing to do with aloneness or the crowd, the market or the temple, the masses or isolation. This state is related to your mind becoming quiet, to its being in equilibrium. This happening will take place wherever there is peace, equanimity. But do not demand it, otherwise the very demanding becomes uneasiness, creates tension.

Ashtavakra says, "Right here, right now." A demand is always for tomorrow. It cannot be here and now. The nature of demanding is that it is not in the present. It jumps. Demanding means: "Let it happen -- tomorrow, after an hour, in a moment, let it happen." A demand cannot be right now. Time is required. It may be very short, but time is required. And the future does not exist. The future means what is not. The present means what is. The present and demanding are not related.

When you are in the present you will find there is no demanding. And then the happening takes place.

When there is no wish for it, it will happen abundantly.

Understand this double bind well. Become familiar with every aspect of it. The day you don't demand anything is the day everything will happen. The day you aren't running like a madman after godliness, it will come after you. The day you don't show any eagerness for meditation, when there is no tension within you, that day you will be filled, overflowing with meditation.

Meditation does not come from outside. What is left inside you when you are not tense is called meditation. That which remains when there is no desire within you is called meditation.

It is a lake. Waves arise, then sudden gusts of wind. The surface of the lake is covered with storm and winds; everything goes topsy-turvy. The moon is in the sky, full; but no reflection is made because the surface is shimmering. How can it be a mirror? The moon's reflection is broken into a thousand pieces -- like silver spread over the whole lake, but no image is made.

The lake becomes quiet. Have the waves gone somewhere? Did the waves come from somewhere else? They are from the lake. Now they have gone back to sleep, hey have returned to the lake. The lake has regained its stillness. The moon, which was scattered like silver all over the surface of the lake, is now gathered in one place. The image becomes clear.

As soon as there are no waves on the lake of your mind, desiring waves, demanding waves, waves of, "This should be so and that should not be so," when there are no waves on the lake of the mind, then truth is reflected as it is. Then how can the beauty of the moon within you be described? How can its ecstasy be told? A river of ecstasy showers. One meets the inner beloved. Then there is a honeymoon, only a honeymoon.

But if you desire it, you will miss.

And I know this desire looks completely natural. But this is a great hurdle. So much joy comes in such moments, how can you avoid desiring? It is human. I don't say that you have made a big mistake, unworthy of a human being. It is an absolutely human error. When for a moment the window opens and the vast sky flows into you, when for a moment darkness vanishes and rays of light descend it is impossible, almost impossible, not to wish for more. But the impossible will have to be learned. Learn it today, learn it tomorrow or learn it the day after, but it will have to be learnt. The sooner you learn it the better. Become ready right now and it happens immediately. There is no need to wait even a moment.

"... I wish to remain immersed in this state." This state will come. It has nothing to do with your mind, so leave your mind behind. Whenever it sneaks in, you have to tell it again and again, "Excuse me, but you have meddled more than enough! You have messed up the world, now don't mess up the divine too. You have spoiled all of life's happiness. Now happiness is coming from the inner depths; at least don't spoil this."

Remain alert and say good-bye to the mind.

Gradually, increasingly, such moments will be coming.

They will come through your experience. Whenever mind is not, immediately the window opens again. Again the stream of heavenly joy flows, again the light descends. Again you are radiant, intoxicated. Again you drown in nectar.

When this happens again and again, it will become clear. You will become skilful at keeping the mind away from you. When it happens, let it happen. When it does not happen, wait quietly for it. It will come. That which has come once will come again and again -- just do not wish for it. Do not come in between at all. Do not create any hindrance.

"Still, the feeling sometimes arises that this may be madness...." Such feelings will arise in the intellect, because it cannot believe that bliss is possible. Intellect is absolutely at home with unhappiness. It has totally accepted unhappiness because it has given birth to it. Who will not accept their own offspring? So the intellect says, "If there is unhappiness, it is absolutely right. But ultimate happiness? Certainly there must be some mistake. Does it ever happen? It must be imagination. You saw a dream, you were lost in some daydream. You went into hypnosis. Certainly you have gone mad." The intellect will often say such things. Don't listen to it. Don't pay any attention to it. If you give attention to it, the experiences will stop. Those doors and windows will never open again.

Remember one thing: Bliss is the definition of truth.

Wherever you find joy, know it is the truth. That is why we have called God, Sat-chit-anand -- truth, consciousness, bliss. Anand is the ultimate definition for him. Bliss is above even truth, even above consciousness -- truth, consciousness, bliss. Truth is a lower step, consciousness is a lower step, bliss is ultimate. Wherever bliss flows, wherever you find ecstasy -- don't worry at all, you are near the truth.

It is like someone nearing a garden. The breeze becomes cooler; he begins to hear the singing of birds, he begins to feel a coolness. The garden is not yet visible, yet these signs tell him that he is on the right path, he is nearing the garden. Similarly, as you start approaching truth springs of bliss well up. The mind begins to cool down, you begin to be in equilibrium, patience begins increasing, happiness increases. An exultation overwhelms you -- uncaused. No cause can be found. You haven't won the lottery or made a big business profit, nor been offered a prestigious job. Or it may happen that you lost the job you had, you lost what was in your hands, your business went bankrupt -- but there is an uncaused exultation that goes on dancing within, never stopping. The intellect will say, "Have you gone mad? These are the signs of madness!"

This is a very strange world. Here, only the mad look happy. This is why the intellect says you must have gone mad. Have you ever seen anyone here cheerful and happy besides madmen? There are thousands of reasons to be happy, but still man is not happy. He may have a big palace, wealth, all sorts of comforts; still he is not happy. This world is a world of miserable people, the majority are miserable. So if you begin to laugh without cause here, people will say you are mad. And if you say, "This laughing comes for no reason, its waves arise within, it just spreads," people will say, "Enough! His mind is disturbed."

But if you pull a long face, look so dejected that seeing your face even ghosts are frightened, then you are fine, then you are okay here: no problem, everything goes smoothly for you. You are a man just like any other man. You are human the way human beings should be. But when you start smiling, start laughing, start humming songs, when you begin dancing at the side of the road -- then certainly you have gone mad.

This is the way we have denied God. If he should come here, we would put him away in a madhouse. Perhaps this is why he doesn't come. He is afraid of coming....

Imagine: if you met Krishna on the street, playing on his flute, wearing his peacock feather crown, his yellow silks, his girlfriends dancing all around -- what would you do? Run immediately to the police station, reporting: "There's trouble on the road. What's going on there? That kind of thing is not supposed to happen!" You would throw him in jail.

Bliss has been boycotted.

We have banished joy from our lives. We sit embracing unhappiness. Here, a pessimistic man appears intelligent, a cheerful man appears insane. Our whole criterion is upside down. It is natural: if all of a sudden what you had considered intelligent throughout your life begins disappearing, begins slipping away; if the foundation of your so-called intelligence begins shaking, and suddenly you start seeing joy everywhere, and remember "without cause".... This is what insanity means, happy without cause -- no cause at all. You are sitting alone and you start smiling. Enough, you've gone mad, because we have seen only mad people sitting like that.

Understand: the insane and the paramahansas, enlightened ones, are a little similar. The insane laugh and are happy; they have lost their intelligence. Paramahansas also laugh and are happy; they have gone beyond intellect. Both laugh -- an insane person because he has fallen below, a paramahansa because he has gone beyond intellect. There is this small similarity between the two. The insane and the paramahansa have one thing in common: both have lost the intellect. One has forsaken it consciously, the other in unconsciousness. Hence the difference is vast, as different as earth and sky, and yet there is this similarity. So sometimes you see a paramahansa as a mad person and sometimes a mad person as a paramahansa. Mistakes go on happening.

In the West there are many people locked up in asylums who are not insane. Recently a great revolution has begun there. Some psychologists, notably R.D.Laing and his co-workers, have started a movement. They claim that many in asylums are not insane. If these people had been born in the East they would have been respected as paramahansas. R.D. Laing does not know that the opposite happens in the East -- here many madmen are taken for paramahansas. But to err is human. Here in the East are many madmen who are understood to be paramahansas. These mistakes happen because the boundaries of these two touch. This confusion is natural.

Make it a point that if joy is increasing, no need to worry. But joy can increase due to insanity also. Then what is a safe criterion for it? This is the criterion: if your joy is increasing and at the same time you are not causing anybody's unhappiness to increase, then continue untroubled. Your joy should not be dependent on violence towards anyone, on aggression towards anyone, or on making anyone unhappy. Then there is no reason to be afraid of going mad. Even if you are going mad, it is a good sign, it is right. Go into it with no hesitation.

You need to be concerned only when you begin to harm somebody. Nobody is bothered by your dance. But if somebody is sleeping and you play your drum over his head and start dancing?... Dance, there's no problem in it. Chant your prayers, that's fine. But if in the middle of the night you set up a mike and start non-stop kirtan singing, then you are really mad -- although in India no one would call you mad because you are singing devotional songs. Many madmen do this. They say, "We are performing a non-stop kirtan -- twenty-four hours straight. Whether you sleep or not is your problem. And if you object to our program, you are irreligious."

See that your joy is not violent. This is sufficient. Your joy should be your own. Don't disturb anybody else's life with it. Let your flowers bloom, but in blooming, don't let anyone be pricked by its thorns. If you always make sure of this, then you are moving in the right direction. When you feel that now others are being disturbed by your behavior, be careful -- you are not moving towards enlightenment but are on the path to insanity.

Nobody is disturbed by Om Prakash. You can proceed without hesitation, fearlessly.

Yesterday I was reading a poem: "All that was beautiful, lovable, desirable; what was good, refined, new, true and real, I picked and brought, presenting my offerings. But what happened? It all withered where it was placed. Dried out. Wilted. Not a thing did he lift a hand to take, though somewhere it is written he would accept.... But what I gave, received, drank, knocked over, what I poured out, spilled, what I uncovered, covered, what I unloaded, what I loaded up -- all that was recorded. Then I saw that it all fell into the same sacrificial fire and at that moment I felt, Oh! I am released, I have made it across! Alright, I accept it, my head has spun away in craziness."

The man has made it -- from his head spinning away. You may go on offering very select things to God, the very best -- but nothing will come of it until you offer your head.

Listen again: "All that was beautiful, lovable, desirable; what was good, refined, new, true and real I picked and brought, presenting my offerings. But what happened? It all withered where it was placed. Dried out. Wilted. Not a thing did he lift a hand to take...."

Find the most beautiful and bring it, find the most valuable, offer the Kohinoor diamond -- all will pale into insignificance. Pick flowers, lotuses, roses, offer them -- all will wilt. Only one thing is accepted here: your head, your ego, your intellect, your mind. These are different names for exactly the same thing. You must offer yourself here.

"... and at that moment I felt, Oh! I am released, I made it across! Okay, I accept it, my head has spun away crazily."

Om Prakash, people will tell you the same thing: you have gone mad. Let them say so! Don't worry about what they say. When people call you crazy they are trying to save their own heads, nothing else. When they say you are crazy, they are saying, "Keep away from us, don't come near us! Don't sing these songs to us, don't bring this laughter to our doors, don't show us your wine-filled eyes, don't bring us this message." They will feel threatened.

They have this same music within. They have a veena lying within them, waiting many lives for someone to caress its strings. But they are afraid, insecure. They have built much and become settled in this phony world. Now they fear being uprooted.

I was in Allahabad, and a friend was sitting right in front of me, listening to me. Millions of people have sat before me and listened, but there are very few who have listened with as much feeling as he was listening. Streams of tears were flowing down his face.

Suddenly, he got up in the middle of the lecture and left the hall. I was a little surprised and I asked the organizer what happened. It turned out that the man was very famous -- I hadn't known. He was a literary man, a poet, a writer.

The organizer went to his house and inquired.... The man told him, "Forgive me -- I was becoming disturbed. After twenty minutes I thought, It is better to run away from here. If I stay a little longer, something or other will happen. This man is already cuckoo -- he will drive me mad. I will come, but not now. I will certainly come again, but give me a little time. I could not sleep for two nights, and what he said is echoing in my mind. No, at present I have so much work. Now my children are young, I have a house and family to look after, but I will certainly come. Go and please tell him I shall certainly come -- but not now."

When someone says you are cuckoo, he is only trying to protect himself. By deciding you are mad he means he is repressing his attraction. He also has an irrepressible longing within him. Who has not sought God? Who has no thirst for bliss? Who is not longing for truth? Such a person has never existed. Those you call atheists are people who have become frightened. They say, "No, there is no God" -- because if they don't deny him, they will have to seek him.

It is my own experience that there is a deeper desire for truth in an atheist than in a believer. He is afraid of going to a temple, but you are not. You are not afraid because the desire in you is not so strong that it will drive you mad. You go to the temple as if you were going to your shop. You go in and out of the temple but you are not affected at all.

An atheist is a person who knows that if he enters the temple he will not be able to return. If he enters he will not return the same as he entered. So there is just one escape; he says, "God does not exist -- religion is all hypocrisy." In this way he saves himself, persuading himself, "There is no God, so why go to the temple? There is no God, why get into all this mess? Why meditate? Why pray?"

As I see it, the atheist is inwardly trying to save himself. I have not yet seen a real, authentic atheist. How can man be an atheist? An atheist means a person who tries to live in "no." How can anyone live in no? How can anyone live in atheism?

To live one needs yes.

Do flowers ever bloom in no? Yes is needed. Acceptance is needed. The more acceptance of life, the more flowers bloom in it. But you are afraid flowers will bloom beyond your capacity, that the flowers will be so abundant that you will not be able to contain it....

Last night a young man told me, "Help! This experience is becoming uncontrollable. I am so elated, it seems I will burst. The ecstasy is too great, I cannot contain it. The vessel of my heart is so small. Help me! It is carrying me away. All my limits are being smashed. And I am afraid if I flow along with it there will be no return."

Losing control -- this is the fear. Ego can readily live with unhappiness; control is not lost in unhappiness. No matter how much you weep in misery, you remain the master. Control is lost in joy, the limits are shattered. Limits are never broken in misery. Even in hell limits are never broken. If you fall into hell you remain strong inside. Limits are broken in heaven -- there, control is lost. And where control is lost, ego is lost. Where control is lost, the grip of intellect is lost, the power of reasoning is lost.

This is what is happening. Don't be afraid. The moment of being carried away comes near you. But that current has never carried anyone away unless they have gone mad.

"I am searching for a song not yet on my lips, which would dance in my veins, boiling like lava. I am searching for a fire that will vibrate each and every cell with joy and reduce me to scattered threads, weave me into a fine net so I become transparent. I am in searching for a fragrance to make me weightless, so I can float on the air and quiver in the soft shower of a light rain in the slatey sky of the darkening evening. I am searching for a flashy color...."

Om Prakash, I have given you this flashy color; these orange clothes are the flashy color. Go on flowing, transcending limits. Float beyond intellect. Let go of control. Control means the doer -- leave control aside. If there is a doer, it can only be existence. Do not compete with existence, do not become its adversary. Don't fight with it. Surrender, flow with its stream. You will float.

Those who drown are carried afloat -- those who try to swim are drowned.

The second question:

Question 2


It is the truth.

It is not a method, not a device.

Your asking this is a method and device to save yourself. The mind is not ready to accept that godliness can be attained here and now. Why can't it accept it? It can't accept it because if he is available here and now and we are not attaining him, then what could be causing this? How can we explain it? If he can be attained here and now, why are we not attaining him? A great uneasiness arises: it can be attained here and now, but we are not attaining. How to explain it? It becomes a great frustration. To relieve the frustration you say he can be achieved but that you need to be worthy.

Intellect always manages to find a way. Whatever complication arises, the mind finds a solution. It says, "The way has to be sought, worthiness has to be sought, you will have to become purified: then you will attain. And if Ashtavakra says he can be achieved here and now, certainly he must have a reason for it. He says it so we will start making intense effort. But we will have to make efforts."

Mind is very clever.

Ashtavakra's statement is absolutely clear. Godliness can be found here and now, because it is not an achievement, it is your nature. His whole emphasis is simple: You are it. The very idea of attaining is wrong. When we say godliness can be attained here and now, it simply means it is already attained. Just open your eyes and see!

The very language of attaining is wrong. In attaining it seems that you and existence are separate. You are the seeker and it is the objective to be sought. You are the traveler and it is the destination. No, that it can be attained here and now simply means you are that which you are seeking.

Know thyself.

Open your eyes and see -- or close your eyes and see.

But see!

It is a matter of insight, not of worthiness.

Worthiness means that even godliness is a business deal. When you go to the market something is sold for a thousand rupees, something for one hundred thousand rupees, something for a million rupees. Everything has its price. Worthiness means that godliness also has its price. Whoever pays the price by proving his worth will get it. You want to make even godliness a commodity in the market: "Renounce, do austerities, then you will attain it. Pay the price and you will get it. Where can you get it for free?" You drag godliness into a shop, seal it in a box, stick on a price tag, and put it on the shelf. You say, "Do this many fasts, that many meditations, this much austerity; stand in the sun, suffer cold and heat, then you will attain it."

Have you ever thought what you are saying? You are saying that realizing godliness is related to your doing something. Whatever you do will be your doing, and your doing cannot be greater than you. Your austerity will be yours -- as low as you are, as dirty as you are. Your austerity cannot be greater than you. And whatever you attain through your austerity will be limited, finite, because through the finite only the finite can be obtained, not the infinite. Through austerity you will find a projection of your mind, not God.

Ashtavakra says God already is.

He is the one throbbing within you.

He is the one breathing within you, the one who is born, the one who will pass away. He is eternally manifesting himself in infinite forms -- here as a tree, there as a bird, somewhere else as a man. God is! There is nothing else except him. The recognition of this truth, the remembrance of this truth....

I have heard that once an emperor was very upset with his son and sent him into exile. Because he was an emperor's son, the boy didn't know how to do anything. He had never done anything else -- he could only beg. When an emperor is no longer an emperor, begging is the only thing he can do.

He began begging. Twenty years passed and he completely forgot: can anyone begging twenty years remember he is an emperor? Impossible. It is difficult, it would make begging difficult. It is better to forget it. So he forgot; otherwise how could he beg? An emperor and begging! Door to door, holding his begging bowl, standing in front of hotels and restaurants begging, asking for leftovers? An emperor! He had to forget the emperor. It had to be wiped out of his memory. It was finished, that chapter was closed. It was like a dream, like a story he had read long ago or a movie he had once seen. What did it have to do with him?

Twenty years later when the emperor, the father, became old, he got upset -- he had only one son and that son would be the ruler. He said to his ministers, "Go and find him. And wherever he is bring him back. Tell him his father has pardoned him. It is not a question of pardoning or not pardoning: I am dying. Who will look after the kingdom? It is better that it stay in the hands of my own blood rather than go to someone else. However he may be, good or bad, bring him back."

The ministers found the prince standing in front of a dining hall with his broken bowl, begging for money. He was naked. He had no shoes on his feet. It was mid-afternoon, in the heat of summer, a hot wind blowing. His feet were burning and he was begging for a little money to buy shoes. He had a little change in his bowl.

The chariot came and stopped. The minister got down and fell at his feet-he was the future emperor. As the minister touched his feet, in a flash it happened, it all came back. For twenty years he had not remembered that he was an emperor. Now to remember he had no need to sit and think, contemplate, do austerities, meditate. No, within one second, not even a second -- in a moment the transformation happened.

The man became something else. He was still a beggar, impoverished. He was still naked, still he had no shoes on his feet. He threw away his begging bowl and told the ministers to arrange for his bath and make arrangements for proper clothing. He stepped forward and mounted his chariot. His glory was a sight to see. He was still the same, but his face was majestic, his eyes were shining, there was a splendor all around. He was an emperor. The memory returned. His father had sent the invitation.

It is just like this.

When Ashtavakra says here and now, he is saying the same: however long you have traveled -- twenty years, even twenty lives.... You have been in exile, you have begged long, you have totally forgotten. The memory is sound asleep -- it had to be put to sleep. If the memory were not asleep, begging would have been impossible. You wandered from door to door with a begging bowl. Ashtavakra is saying, "The invitation has arrived. Wake up! You are not a beggar! You are the son of an emperor!"

If someone listens rightly, the happening takes place just by listening. This is the greatness, the glory of the Ashtavakra Gita. There is no insistence on doing anything. Just listen, just let the truth reach your heart. Don't come in the way, just be receptive. Just listen, let the arrow reach your heart. Its impact is enough. The forgetfulness of many many lives will break open, the memory will come back: you are God. Hence he says right here, right now.

Don't find excuses. You say, perhaps this is a method, a device, to increase urgency, to increase intensity in people.

This question is from Swami Yoga Chinmaya. With Chinmaya... in Chinmaya's intellect there is too much effort, striving, asceticism. His understanding is like an ordinary Yogi's. Ashtavakra's statements are not for the ordinary yogi. They are for the extraordinary, the intelligent -- those who can awaken just by listening. Chinmaya is a bit of a HATHA Yogi -- he moves only after a thorough beating. He cannot move just by seeing the whip, just by seeing the shadow of the whip.

Don't laugh, because most people are just like Chinmaya. Don't think that your laughing proves that you are different than Chinmaya. Chinmaya at least got up the courage to ask -- you didn't even ask. This is the only difference. You are just like him. If you haven't become God by the time the Ashtavakra Gita discourses are over, then know: there is no difference, you are just like him. But if while listening you wake up and become God, then just the shadow of the whip has worked.

"It has always been the observation of seekers that the realization of God is a very arduous phenomenon." The seeker is off track from the very beginning. The very meaning of seeker assumes that God has to be sought, that he has lost God somewhere. The seeker accepts that he has lost the divine somewhere. What a strange idea. He has lost God? How can you lose him?

People come to me saying they want to seek God. I say, "Alright, seek! But where did you lose him? When?" They say, "We don't know anything about that." Look into it first. It may be that you have not lost him at all. Sometimes it happens that your glasses are on your nose and looking through them you are searching for them. Could it not be that God is on your nose and you are searching for the same god? This is how it is. The seeker is fundamentally mistaken. He has accepted that he has lost the divine, or has not yet found him, that God is somewhere far away and has to be found.

The divine is never found by seeking. By searching and searching one learns that there is nothing in seeking. While searching, one day the very seeking drops away. As soon as the seeking drops God is found.

Buddha sought for six years, searched totally. Where can you find a greater seeker than him? Wherever he heard that someone had attained knowledge, he went there. He put his head at their feet. He did whatever the gurus, the teachers, told him. Even the teachers tired of him. Teachers never tire of students who don't follow their instructions. They are never tired of them because they can always say, "You are not following instructions. That's why nothing is happening. What can we do?" A teacher is relaxed when you don't obey him -- he can always say that you didn't obey. If you had obeyed it would have happened.

But with Buddha the teachers were in trouble. Buddha did whatever the gurus said. Buddha always managed to do even more than what they said. Finally the gurus told him with folded hands, "Look, go somewhere else. Whatever we have to say, we have said." Buddha said, "But nothing has happened through it." They said, "Nothing has happened to us either. We cannot hide it from you. Just go somewhere else."

Faced with such an authentic man even the gurus could not be deceptive. After searching intensely in every direction, at last Buddha saw that seeking is futile, it is not found by seeking. The world already had no meaning for him; spirituality also became meaningless. Worldly pleasures had no meaning for him. The day he left the palace they had become meaningless for him, so he left. Yoga also became meaningless. Nothing left in pleasure, nothing left in Yoga. What to do now? Now there was nothing left to be done -- it was no longer possible to be a doer.

Understand this sutra correctly. Neither worldly pleasure nor Yoga remains, neither the world nor heaven. There is no space left for the doer. If there is something to do the doer can remain. Nothing was left to do, and that very night it happened.

That evening sitting under the bodhi tree, there was nothing to do. Buddha was thrown into confusion. When he dropped the world, he grabbed hold of Yoga: when he dropped indulging he jumped into spiritualism. There was something to do -- the mind remained busy. Now the mind had no space. The mind-bird began fluttering -- no space! The mind needs space. The ego needs the nourishment of doing, it needs duties. If there is something to do the ego can survive. There was nothing left to do. Think about it a little. A deep indifference was born in him, what Ashtavakra calls nonattachment.

A Y is not detached, because a yogi seeks new pleasure: a yogi seeks spiritual pleasure. He is not indifferent, he still has the desire to enjoy. He couldn't find it in the world, so he searches in God -- but the search continues. It is not found here, so he looks there. It is not found outside, so he looks inside. But the search continues. Neither the hedonist nor the Yogi is indifferent to pleasure. Yes, they search differently for pleasure. One goes outside, one goes inside, but they both go somewhere.

That night there was nowhere for Buddha to go, neither inside nor outside. Just imagine that night, bring it to life. Feel how that night must have been. For the first time he attained rest, that which Ashtavakra says -- the rest in consciousness out of which one attains the truth. That day relaxation happened.

As long as there is something to do, effort continues. As long as there is something to do, tension continues. Now there was no question of tension. The body was completely exhausted, the mind was completely exhausted. Buddha collapsed under that tree and fell asleep. At dawn when his eyes opened, they opened the way everyone's eyes should open. At dawn when he opened his eyes, those eyes opened for the first time. Those eyes that had been closed for centuries opened.

At dawn when he opened his eyes, the last star of the morning was fading. He watched as the last star disappeared outside. Outside the last morning star dissolved -- inside the last trace of the mind also disappeared. There was nothing, no one left inside. There was absolute silence, a void, a great void, space.

It is said Buddha remained sitting that way for seven days -- like a statue, without the slightest movement. They say the gods became worried and descended from heaven. Brahma, creator of the universe, descended and fell at the feet of Buddha saying, "Please speak! Such a phenomenon occurs only once in centuries, and then too with great difficulty. Please say something. We are eager to hear what has happened!"

Hindus are very angry that in Buddhist stories Brahma is made to fall at the feet of Buddha. But the story is perfectly right... because gods may be living in heaven but they don't live beyond the sky. Today the phenomenon has happened that an individual has gone beyond desire. Now there is no one higher than Buddha. Buddhahood is the ultimate. Even gods are lower. They still have the desire for heaven and heavenly pleasures.

That is why there are stories that Indra's throne begins to shake when he hears that some competitor is coming, some sage is going deep in meditation. Indra becomes nervous, his throne starts shaking. It is the same story as with the throne in Delhi. Call it Indra's throne or Indira's, it is the same, there is no great difference. A challenger is coming: competition, anxiety, fear....

Buddha attained by non-doing. What happened in Buddha's life must have happened in Ashtavakra's life too. We do not have any story about it, no one has written it, but certainly it must have happened because whatever Ashtavakra says is just this: "You have done a lot of running -- now stop. God is not attained by running, he is attained by stopping. You have sought enough, now drop the search. You cannot find truth by seeking because truth is hidden in the one who is seeking. Why are you running here and there?"

Kabir says, "The musk is in the navel -- that fragrance is your own." But when fragrance emanates from the navel of a musk deer, he goes mad. He starts running here and there, searching. Where does this scent come from? Who has produced this perfume? Where does it come from?

... Because whatever fragrance the deer knows comes from outside: sometimes from flowers, sometimes from something else, but always from outside. Today the fragrance comes from within, but still he thinks it must come from outside. He starts running. And the musk is in his own navel, that fragrance is his own!

God resides within you. As long as you seek him outside -- in Yoga, in hedonism... it is useless.

An ordinary Yogi takes you out of indulgence, Ashtavakra takes you out of indulgence and Yoga both -- beyond Yoga, beyond hedonism. Hence you will find that the worldly man has an ego, but have you seen the ego of a Yogi? A worldly man gets angry. Have you heard the curse of a saint? A worldly man walks vainly with his head high, waving his flag. Have you seen the flags, the elephants, the pomp of the Yogis? An ordinary man proclaims his wealth, announces his achievements. Have you seen the Yogis boasting they have such-and-such powers, such-and-such abilities? But these things are all one and the same, there is no difference in them.

Unless Yoga is transcended, unless a person is completely free of the idea "I am the doer," nothing has happened. You have only changed color. You are a chameleon, you simply changed color. But only the color changed, not you.

"It has always been the observation of seekers that the realization of God is a very arduous phenomenon." In a sense this is true. If you insist on reaching by running hard then what can anyone do? If you want to touch your nose by reaching around your head, go ahead and do it. Certainly when you touch your nose from the far side you will feel that touching one's nose is a very arduous phenomenon. This is because of you, not because of your nose.

If you stand on your head and try to walk, it is difficult to walk even five or ten steps. Then if you say that walking is an arduous phenomenon you are not lying; what you say is right. But you are standing on your head. For those who stand on their feet walking is not a difficult thing.

You fast, overheat yourself in front of a fire, unnecessarily trouble your body, torture it, do a thousand kinds of idiocies -- and then you say that to realize God is a very arduous phenomenon. What you say is right. What you could have reached easily, naturally, you are reaching by becoming unnatural, so you find it difficult. Your way of reaching is wrong. But why does man choose the impossible? It has to be understood. What is the joy of walking on your head when you have feet? There is pleasure in walking on the head. It is the pleasure of the ego.

Mulla Nasruddin was fishing in a lake. I watched for a while. I went on watching but he was not getting even a bite. It seemed there were no fish in the lake. I asked him, "Nasruddin, it seems there are no fish in this lake. How long are you going to sit here? That other lake is nearby -- why don't you go over there and fish? Here there is not a fisherman to be seen; all the fishermen are over there."

Nasruddin said, "What is the point in catching fish there? There are so many fish in that lake that there is no place for them to swim. If you catch fish there, so what? If you catch fish here, it is something!"

The impossible is attractive. The more impossible it is, the more the ego is strengthened by doing it. It is something if you catch fish here. What is the point if you do what everyone else is doing? Everyone walks on their feet. If you do the same, what fun is it? Walk on your head.

As I see it, there is no connection between arduousness and God. Arduousness is connected to the ego. The ego enjoys doing arduous things. Everyone does things the easy way. What's the point? If you tell someone that you walk on your feet, people will say, "Have you gone mad? Everyone does." But if you walk on your head your name will be printed in the newspapers. People will start coming to you, they will bow their heads at your feet. You have achieved something: you are walking on your head!

Ego is worshiped when you do something impossible -- like when Edmund Hillary climbed Mount Everest, the whole world came to know about it. If you climb a small hill near Poona and plant your flag on it, and say, "No reporter is coming, no photographer is coming -- what is the matter? Why this discrimination? They made so much noise over Hillary, his name is set down now in history, and nothing is happening with me. He planted a flag -- I am doing the same thing!" But to climb Everest is difficult. For fifty to sixty years people tried to climb it. Then one man finally succeeded. That's why.

Eventually a road will be made. Sooner or later buses will start going there. Everest cannot keep itself safe from man for long now -- when one man has reached its summit, a whole chain begins. Recently a woman reached there too. When even women reach, what is left in reaching it? Eventually everyone will be going. Within a short time there will be hotels and buses and everything else. If you go when buses have started going and plant a flag, saying, "This is the place where Hillary placed his flag. But I am being discriminated against, favoritism is being shown against me"....

Ego enjoys difficulties. Man makes many things harder so his ego can be fulfilled. We make many things difficult: the more difficult we make it the more juicy it becomes. Arduousness is not in realizing God -- arduousness is juice for the ego.

What you say is right: "It has always been the observation of seekers that the realization of God is a very arduous phenomenon." These seekers are all egoistic. And when have seekers realized God? It has happened when seeking dropped away. You realize God only when seeking drops away, when you are not going anywhere -- just sitting, at rest, in ultimate rest. It happens when the pilgrimage disappears into the void.

People usually think that if they realize God the pilgrimage will end. But it is exactly the opposite. If you drop the journey, God will be realized immediately. People think, "When we reach the destination we will relax." The situation is otherwise: if you relax, you reach the destination.

Relaxation is the key to meditation and samadhi. Effort is the key to the ego.

That's why you will find that the more effort-oriented a religion is, the more egoistic the monks of that religion are. A Jaina monk is more egoistic than a Hindu monk. A Jaina monk says, "A Hindu monk? So what? Anybody can become one. A Jaina monk? It is a difficult thing -- only one meal a day, many many fasts, all kinds of arduous practices...."

Again, among Jainas there are Digambar monks and Shvetambar monks. The Digambar monks say, "What is there to Shvetambar monks? They wear clothes. The real monks are Digambaras." Nowhere will you ever find the ego shining more than in a Digambar monk. His body will be dried out, just a skeleton -- because of so much fasting, naked living, suffering in sun and fire -- but his ego will be aflame. His conceit will be that of a Hillary.

There are at the most twenty Digambar monks in India, five or six thousand Shvetambar monks, and five million Hindu monks. And if it is in my power I will make the whole world sannyasin. So there can be no ego in becoming my sannyasin. ... Because I don't say do this and do that. It is a very simple matter: put on orange clothes and you are a sannyasin!

If sannyas becomes easy then where is juice for the ego?

People come to me. They say I should make special arrangements for giving sannyas. Special arrangements for sannyas! They are right. This is what happens when a Jaina initiation takes place. Loud music is played, a horse is brought in, there is a lot of festivity. It seems as if something great is happening, somebody is being enthroned. Sannyas has become like a royal throne. People start praising, applauding this great happening. And I give sannyas so silently that no one knows -- I give it even by mail. I do not know who the fellow is, nor does he know who has given it. It is good.

As I see it, sannyas should be simple.

As I see it God is realized in relaxation, not by ego. It is not a doing, not a seeking.

God is already attained.

Be a little lighter, be a little more peaceful, just stop.

Suddenly you will find he was always here.

The last question:

Question 3



Who is it that is saying there are twenty billion cells in the body? Certainly it is not the cells. One cell cannot keep track of all the other cells -- there are billions of cells in the body. Who is saying this? Who asks this? Who found this out? There is definitely someone inside you quite separate from the cells, who counts and says there are twenty billion cells.

"In our body there are some twenty billion cells, and chemical reactions go on continuously. When you or Ashtavakra say, "Be a witness," who are you addressing?" That one, who says there are twenty billion cells.

"If you are addressing the brain cells, it is meaningless, because mind is transient." No, we are not addressing the brain cells, we are talking to you. Ashtavakra is addressing you. He is not such an idiot as to address your brain cells, it is you he is talking to. Your being is beyond your cells. The fact is, you use the cells. It is like a driver sitting at the wheel of a car. The car is running, moving fast, moving at one hundred miles per hour. Still the driver inside is not the car. If a policeman pulls him over and he asks the policeman, "Who are you addressing? The motor? -- the motor is propelling the car. Who are you addressing? The petrol? -- the petrol makes it run. The wheels? -- they spin fast."

What would the patrolman say? The same as I say to you: "I want to talk to you. It's you I pulled over."

"If you are trying to wake up the soul then it is meaningless, as the soul is already awake. It is foolish to awaken it and say "Know thyself."

You are absolutely right: the soul is already awake. There is no way to wake it up. Nor are we trying to do that.

The situation is something like this. You lie down and knowingly fake sleep; you are lying awake with your eyes closed. It is very easy to rouse the sleeping: shake him a little or throw water in his face and he will wake up. But the man who is lying awake with eyes closed pretending to sleep, how will you rouse him? Throw water; it won't do any good. Shake him, move him; he will roll over and keep on sleeping. Call his name; he hears but does not respond. This is your condition.

It is meaningless to rouse the awakened, but the awakened is pretending to sleep; hence the need to awaken.

We are not waking up any sleeper, because the soul cannot sleep. It is the body that sleeps, and the body can be awakened. There is no meaning in awakening a soul that is already awake. You are absolutely right, you are speaking with great wisdom -- but it must be borrowed. If it came from your own understanding you would never have asked.

Ashtavakra or I, we are awakening the one who is already awake but has forgotten that he is awake; who is awake but goes on pretending to sleep; who is playing at sleeping. And this is why there are difficulties in awakening anyone, great difficulties.

"Are you not throwing people into illusion?" Do you think people are not already in illusion? If they are not, then definitely I am throwing them into illusion. But if they are not in illusion, how can they be thrown into it? Can all these buddhas be thrown into illusion? And if people are in illusion, what I am doing is an effort to bring them out. However you are, I reverse it.

If you think you are in illusion, this is an attempt to awaken you. And if you think that you are already awakened, this is an attempt to throw you into illusion.

But who can throw you into illusion if you are already awakened? Remember, no one but you can throw you into illusion, and no one but you can awaken you. Someone can attempt to wake you up, but unless you cooperate you will not wake up -- because this is not a sleep which can be broken. You are faking it. Your cooperation is necessary. Cooperation means discipleship. Cooperation means that you go to someone who can awaken you. You tell him, "It has become an old habit to deceive myself -- please help me to come out of this habit."

A young woman came to me and told me she was in the habit of taking an addictive drug. She wanted to stop it. She wanted badly to get off the drug, so eager to be finished with it some way. But the drug addiction had gone deep into the cells of her body. When she did not take the drug, there was such severe pain and discomfort throughout the body that she couldn't sleep, couldn't get up, couldn't sit down, so she had to take it. And if she took it, she became depressed by the mess she was in. She had come to me to get off the drug, asking for my hand in support. This is the situation, this is your condition.

Your practice of remaining asleep life after life has deeply affected you. You are an awakened one under the illusion that he is asleep, a king considering himself a beggar. He has believed it for so many lives that now his own habit....

Nothing will happen only from listening. You can listen to me, but nothing will happen through it -- until you make it your own, until you accept it. No one but you can awaken you; otherwise one enlightened one would have been enough. He could have shouted loudly and awakened everyone. He could have beaten on his drums and awakened everyone.

If a hundred people are sleeping here, one person is enough to awaken them. Actually, no one is needed; an alarm clock can awaken them. One man can come and beat a drum and all will get up, or strike a bell and all will get up. But why couldn't this happen when Buddha was here, when Mahavir was, Ashtavakra was, Krishna was, Christ was, Zarathustra was, when Lao Tzu was here? Why couldn't they have rung a bell loudly and awakened the entire earth? They rang the bell loud and long. If anyone were really sleeping they would have awakened -- but here people are faking sleep. They lie with their eyes closed. They hear the bell and they think, "Go on ringing it. We'll see who's going to wake us up!"

When you want to wake up you will.

I cannot throw you into illusion. You are already in illusion: what more illusion can you be thrown into? Do you think you can be led further astray? Do you think there is still somewhere you can be misled? Can you fall down further than this? Is there any place left to fall? Can the greed in you be increased an inch? Can the anger in you be increased even one gram? Can desires which overwhelm you be stronger still? You are standing at the end of the line. He who should be first stands last. He who should be a king stands like a beggar. You cannot go lower -- there is no way to fall further.

There is no possibility for you to be more deluded. Even if someone wants to, he cannot do it to you. Yes, the most anyone can do is switch your illusion. If you are bored with one illusion, he'll give you another. And that is what the sadhus go on doing.

You start feeling out of sorts with worldly illusions, you feel bored, you have lived in them too much. Now nothing is real -- you have seen it all. Now they create a spiritual illusion. They say, "Come enjoy heaven: do good deeds, renounce, do austerities, enjoy heavenly maidens. You have enjoyed and suffered much, but for nothing. Here you drink wine in small measure, mere handfuls; there, in the walled heavenly garden, springs of wine are flowing. You can drown in wine. What is here? In heaven there are golden palaces, trees of diamonds and jewels. Sit under the wish-fulfilling tree and ask for anything you want. You have suffered too much here." But this is a new illusion.

I am not giving you any new illusion. I simply suggest: you have seen enough illusion, now wake up a little.

How can witnessing be illusion? Think about it.

I simply ask you to be a witness.

Whatever is, I ask you to watch it. If I asked you to do something, illusion would arise. If I asked you to give up this and do that, illusion would arise. I simply suggest that whatever you are doing; whoever you are, a yogi or a Zorba; whatever you are, Hindu or Muslim; wherever you are, in a temple or mosque -- wake up, watch with alertness. How can there be illusion in being aware? For an awakened person there is no possibility of being in illusion. Dreams come in sleep, how can they come when one is wide awake?

"And if people cease responding to pleasure and pain will they not become like plants and animals?"

First, who told you that plants and animals are worse off than you? You just take it for granted. You should ask trees and plants. Ask animals as well... look into the eyes of animals. This also is man's ego -- that he thinks he is above animals. And the strange thing is animals have never been asked to offer testimony. You have made a one-sided decision, you have decided by yourself. If animals were writing books like your scriptures it would be written in them that man is the animal beyond cure.

I have heard that among monkeys it is said that man is a fallen monkey. Darwin says man has evolved from monkeys, but who is Darwin to decide? You should listen to the monkeys too. Both parties need to be heard. Monkeys say man is fallen. And what they say is understandable. Monkeys are above, up in the trees, and you are on the ground below: you are fallen. Monkeys are up above, you are below.

Challenge any monkey to a fight, and see: has strength increased or decreased? Just see if you can leap from one tree to another -- your bones will break. Is competence evolving or disappearing? Who told you that you are superior? Or did you just take it for granted?

It is just ridiculous. One disease among the many diseases man has is to believe he is superior. If you ask men, they think they are superior to women -- without even asking women. Women's testimony has never been taken. There was never any vote on it. Men wrote the scriptures, expressing what was in their minds, and women were prohibited from reading, so they couldn't object. If she had known how to read, the pundit's wife would have harassed him for what he wrote. So women were prevented from reading: women should not read the Vedas, should not do this, should not do that.... These male chauvinists went right to the limit: they said women cannot even be liberated. First they will have to be born as men, to come into life in a male body; then they can get enlightened.

Then ask among men. The white man considers himself superior to the black man. But ask the black man....

I have heard that an Englishman went to an African jungle to hunt, taking a black guide with him. They got lost in the jungle and then they saw a tribe of about a hundred savages with spears coming at them. The Englishman freaked out! He told his black guide, "Our lives are in danger!" The black said, "Our lives? Leave me out of this! Just take care of yourself. Why should my life be in danger?" The white man thinks he is superior, the black thinks he is superior. Ask the Chinese. It is written in Chinese books that the English are monkeys. They do not even count them as human.

This disease exists throughout the whole world. It has gone very deep in man. He goes on deciding things without consulting the other party. This is all the play of the ego. If you just look, leaving aside your ego, you will find that all are manifestations of God -- animals, birds, plants, man, everything. Sometimes God wants to be green, so he is green. Sometimes he wants to manifest in the song of birds, and he does. Sometimes he wants to become man so he becomes man. There is no stratification here, no hierarchy, no one above or below. All are simultaneously the infinite waves of God. In a small wave, it is he, in a big wave it is he, in a white wave it is he, in a black wave it is he, in grass it is he, in trees touching the sky it is he.

The religious vision says God is whatever exists this very moment. In God how can anything be further ahead or behind? This would be very difficult. For something to be lower, something to be higher would be very difficult. There is only one. If you look as a witness, you will see all is one.

So the first thing is don't ask, "If people cease responding to pleasure and pain will they not become like plants and animals?" If they do it is not a loss. Would there be some loss if Hitler became an animal or a plant? Yes, millions of people would be saved from death; no other harm would be done. What danger if Nadirshah became a tiger? He would have been satisfied with killing five or ten people, killing only for food. As a man he covered the earth with corpses for no reason at all.

This much is certain -- animals have not yet invented anything like the atom bomb. Animals use their claws to kill, a very ancient way. And they kill only for food. Man is the only animal who kills with no intention of eating. Man goes to the jungle to hunt birds and animals, and says it his recreation, his sport. But if a lion attacks him, it is not recreation. He does not say, "The lion is just playing -- let him do it. It is his recreation." You kill for sport? No animal kills for sport.

Another significant point is that no other animal kills his own kind. No lion kills other lions. No monkey murders other monkeys. Man is the only animal who kills his own kind. Ants don't kill ants. Elephants don't kill elephants. Dogs don't kill dogs. They quarrel and fight but they don't kill, they don't murder. Men are the only animal who murder one another.

What is it in man that you are so worried about losing? What would be lost? Trees and plants are beautiful, animals are very innocent. But I am not asking you to be like trees or plants or animals; I am only saying, "Drop the ego."

And the second thing is, I have never said to cease responding to pleasure and pain. Ashtavakra has not said that either. To maintain an equanimity in happiness and pain does not mean ceasing to respond to pleasure and pain. To maintain an equanimity in pleasure and pain means only this: "I will remain a witness. If pain comes I will observe it; if happiness comes, I will observe it."

This does not mean if you prick Buddha with a thorn he will not feel pain. If you prick Buddha with a thorn he will feel more pain than you do because he is more sensitive than you are. You have become stone-like, while Buddha is like a delicate lotus. When you prick Buddha with a thorn he feels more pain than you do. But the pain is in the body. Knowing this, Buddha remains standing apart. He watches -- pain is happening. He knows pain is happening, still he does not identify himself with pain. He knows, "I am the knower, by inner nature, the knower."

Ashtavakra does not ask you to cease responding. He doesn't say that if your house catches fire don't run out; remain seated and you will become a buddha. He says that while running away know that the house is burning, but you are not burning. And even if your body is burning, know that the body is burning, not you. He does not mean you should allow your body to be burnt -- take your body away from the fire. He does not say to cause any hardship to the body.

To be unresponsive means to become stone-like, lifeless. The Buddha is not a stone. Have you ever met anyone more compassionate than Buddha? Ashtavakra could not have been a stone -- a river of love flowed through him. The sensitivity of those whom springs of love flow through has increased, not decreased. A great compassion descended through him. ... But you can misinterpret it.

And whoever has asked the question seems to have some kind of scriptural intellect, a bit too much garbage in the intellect. He has read a little, heard a little, gathered a little information -- now it churns around in him, not allowing him to listen, not allowing him to see. It goes on distorting things.

"The pilgrims all stopped. Water within is half-jelled, outside it's frozen solid. On one side unfathomable quicksand to the neck, on the other an oceanic flood. Wild winds are blowing, the jungles have all bowed down, the pilgrims have all stopped. Closed doors, through open windows eyes go on looking out. On the face of the sun there are infinite black rods, like arrows of dusk. Silent behind their masks all are frightened, overawed seeing this. The pilgrims have all stopped."

How long will you go on hiding behind these masks, these facades of intellectualism, of scholarship, of scriptural knowledge? How long will you hide behind these layers of thought? Push them aside and awaken the pure consciousness within you. Watch like a seer, not as a thinker. Thinker means one in whom the mind process has started.

So, if you want to understand Ashtavakra you can understand only as consciousness, pure consciousness. If you fall into thought you will not be able to understand Ashtavakra. You will miss. Ashtavakra is not a philosopher, Ashtavakra is not a thinker.

Ashtavakra is a messenger, a messenger of consciousness, of witnessing. Pure witnessing, just watching. If there is unhappiness, observe it. If there is happiness, observe it. In unhappiness don't become identified with unhappiness. In happiness don't become identified with happiness. Let both come, let both go. Night has come, observe it. Day has come, observe it. At night, don't think you have become night. In the day, don't think you have become the day.

Remain detached, beyond, transcendent, above, far away. Be identified with only one thing: you are the observer, you are the witness.

Hari Om Tat Sat.

Chapter No. 3 and 4 - The Lifting of the Veil
Chapter No. 5 and 6 - The Touchstone of Truth
Chapter No. 7 and 8 - No Title
Chapter No. 9 and 10 - No Title