Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually Awakening people. We’ve done well over 600 of them now. And if this is new to you and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to batgap.com and look under the past interviews menu. This program is made possible through the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it and would like to help support it, there’s a PayPal button on the website and there’s a page of other alternatives to PayPal. My guest today is Pravrajika Divyanandaprana Mataji. She is a monastic member of Sri Sarada Math, an institution in the lineage of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi, and Swami Vivekananda. This is the same lineage of as Swami Sarvapriyananda, whom I’ve interviewed. She is currently editor of the English Journal, SAMVIT, that is published from New Delhi. She was principal of Nivedita Vidya Mandir School from 2014 to 2019. She has authored two books “Science of Happiness”, which I read in the last week or two, and “Self Discovery”. In addition to studying the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda literature, she has extensively studied the Yoga-Vedanta texts, based on these twin philosophies which include Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Raja Yoga, the Upanishads, and auxiliary scriptures of Vedanta, along with their commentaries. She has lectured all over India since 2010, in various universities, engineering, and medical colleges, and spiritual centers. She offers courses on yoga Vedanta, every semester at the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi. She has also traveled to teach and lecture in South Africa, Ireland, Great Britain, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada, and extensively in the US. I heard you came to Iowa, where was I when you did that? I was gone! She also has trained in the conventional sciences, and some of her talks have explored the interface between subjective and objective sciences. We were going to do this interview last week. But we had to reschedule. And I’m glad we did because it gave me an extra week to listen to her talks, I’ve just been listening to many, many hours of them. And I find I just resonate with this type of knowledge and this tradition also. And it’s been really uplifting and blissful actually, to listen to these beautiful talks, and to also listen to an audio recording of her whole book on “Science of Happiness”. Obviously, an interview like this is just kind of a snapshot. But I will provide links to various video sources of her talks on the YouTube channel, with over 50 hours’ worth of talks. And if you find that what we cover today resonates with you, I encourage you to listen to more of them. Okay, so thanks so much, Mataji for joining me here. I’ve really been looking forward to this.
Mataji: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me here.
Rick Archer: I know you are right now way up in the Himalayas someplace. Which means it’s not 115 degrees Fahrenheit, where you are, as it is in much of India! That’s probably why you’re there. So you know, I’ve been doing this for 12 to 13 years now. And when I first started, I encountered what is called Neo Advaita. And I hadn’t been too familiar with it. But I kept running into people and then interviewing some people who might be described as Neo Advaita teachers or exponents. And I just had a visceral discomfort with that approach as compared to what I feel you represent, which is a much more traditional approach to knowledge and deep experience. And so, I just want to start by emphasizing it, in my opinion, at least and we’ll get yours. There’s a value to these ancient traditions. I mean, maybe sometimes they get calcified or ossified and, you know, need a little refreshing. But people have been at this for 1000s of years, and they’ve learned a thing or two along the way. And, there are people who say, Oh, the “guru” thing is over. And we don’t need all these old, you know, crusty traditions. But I think it’s a shame if they’re just swept aside like that because there’s really a great deal of wisdom to be found in them. So let’s take that as a starting point.
Mataji: Yes, actually, it’s so good to know that you feel so intensely about these traditions, and the methods they have followed to come at the realization they speak of. In fact, today, very serious sadhaks (spiritual seekers) even today, you will find them trying to follow in the footsteps of those who have actually realized the Truth because the whole point is that you must have the experience in yourself. And for that, you require to follow a method in a particular ambiance. And that can never be discounted, like, you can’t compromise on that. And that’s the whole point about sadhana (practice). So, I think those who are very particular about getting the spiritual experience will definitely stick to the method.
Rick Archer: Yeah, some of the things the Neo Advaitins say are things that are true on some level, but they’re not actually that practical. For the average person, for instance, they’ll say, you’re already enlightened, you know? Or there is no person. So why should you do anything? Because you’re just going to reinforce the sense of a doer. If you do something for this Enlightenment thing, which you already are, you know, and things like that. On some level, I mean, if we read Mandukya Upanishad or something, yeah, that’s the way they talk. But it’s not a practical approach for the average person I know that you have said in one of your talks that the vast majority of people really need to start with Karma Yoga and go through a great degree of refinement and purification before knowledge alone can be the springboard to realization, right?
Mataji: Yeah, it’s essentially about transformation of consciousness. And until that has occurred, I think, just one single thought or thought process even, it cannot lead you to the actual thing. It’s a matter of transformation of consciousness. And in India, when we use the word consciousness, it means something more than a kind of thought or emotion or an act of will, or intention, it means something more than that; it’s a complete transformation of your awareness. That awareness, which was invested in a thought process in a mind in a body consciousness that has been transcended. Without this happening in the first person, as I always say, without it happening in yourself, it’s very difficult to actually digest a philosophy like Advaita.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Let’s talk a little bit about oh, you know what, I was gonna Oh, well, I was gonna have you do a little chant at the beginning but that might traditionally be done at the beginning of something like this and I forgot I wonder what to do one now. Like Asato ma sat…
Mataji: Yes, yes. Yes. I can do it. Yea. Om, asato ma sat gamaya; tamaso ma jyotir gamaya; mrityor ma amritam gamaya, Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. Thank you so much for suggesting this. I love these chants.
Rick Archer: Sorry that I forgot to do it in the beginning. What does that mean?
Mataji: Well, from asat, you lead me to sat from the unreal, lead me to the real; tamaso ma jyotir gamaya means lead me from darkness to light. And mrityor ma amritam gamaya means lead me from this mortality to immortality.
Rick Archer: Nice. Okay, so I was just about to ask you about Shravana Manana and Nididhyasana. Because it relates to what we were just saying I think so. start explaining what those mean and we’ll discuss them a little bit.
Mataji: Right, these are these are the three standard techniques we use in Vedanta. And, like Shravana, meaning to listen, is obviously to know something about the subject matter, and that is very much required initially.
Rick Archer: So Shravana is like an initial hearing and something you’re like, right now people are listening to our talk and that’s the kind of a Shravana
Mataji: Yes. And actually, Shravana can be very powerful because you are generating the mental vritties, or tendencies, regarding the subject matters, and vritties are the conscious modifications of your thought process. Impressions. Yeah, well, they become impressions, but initially, they are like a modification of your mind. Vritti comes from vrit dhatu or root, which is a world of thought, as it were. So it’s a kind of modification of the mind when you repeat it, it becomes a samskara, an impression.
Rick Archer: Okay, good. Yeah. So everything then that we perceive is a vritti. You could say, if we’re walking down the street, we see a telephone pole, we see a dog, we see a car. Yeah, those are all little vritties.
Mataji: Yeah. From the subjective standpoint, it’s a vritti. Yes.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay. And then obviously, every vritti, especially those we repeat, over and over and over again, makes an impression.
Mataji: Perfect. Okay, it’s an easy way to create samskara or impressions for the Vedantic life, the process of shravana.
Rick Archer: and I used to have the impression that samskara had a negative connotation, like it was a stress or not conditioning, but obviously, yeah, now especially I learned just listening to you that it’s as positive as it is negative, it depends on what they are.
Mataji: Yeah, exactly. There are many types of samskaras. And depending on the quality of your conscious thought process they are generated. So they can be positive or negative. Right.
Rick Archer: Right. And so we want to create positive ones, obviously, to counterbalance and displace the negative ones.
Mataji: Right, right.
Rick Archer: Good. And as with any kind of conditioning, you know, the more impressions of a certain kind we have, the more inclined we are to do a certain thing, you know, right? And so we want our inclinations to be more and more positive and healthy and constructive. So, therefore, we keep creating positive impressions.
Mataji: Yeah, actually samskaras in the spiritual traditions, especially here, they are looked upon as the building blocks of character and behavior. So they are the most important things about your spiritual life, the impressions you create as a result of your conscious thought and action. So these actually manifest as behavioral patterns. Even today’s behavioral psychology is not insisting on this. But this is so much a fact that the building blocks are already within you, based upon what you have thought in the past. And accordingly, you act in any particular situation, or you react, or whatever manifestation of behavior is there. So it’s all dependent on the samskaras.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I used to have a teacher who used to often say that to which we give our attention grows stronger in our lives,
Rick Archer: Yeah. So obviously, let’s say parents raising a child, they are trying to instill positive samskaras, or impressions in that child because that builds the child’s character.
Mataji: Right, right. So the whole key is the conscious thought pattern. You know, conscious thought becomes when repeated, it becomes samskara. Right? We ought to pay attention to that. What we are consciously doing with a conscious mind.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Good. And this might seem obvious, you know, but a lot of times people who are interested in spirituality are showing interest in it. They still, I mean, I’m guilty of this myself, I suppose. Because I like to watch the news and see what’s going on in the world. And that’s usually not very positive. But very often people indulge in things that have no redeeming value, and somehow feel they can get away with it. But these things have consequences.
Mataji: Yeah, it’s not like, you know, on the laptop, you want to erase something, you just have press that particular button, but it’s not so with the mind, whatever gets imprinted there, it takes time to erase that. And that’s why many people are actually frightened of their memories. Yeah, they have generated samskaras which are very strong and negative. And so they’re scared of their memories because samskaras again, produce memories. And that’s why the whole thing the whole cycle needs to be controlled; And this is very well described in the commentary in the Patanjali Yoga Sutras; this entire cycle can be controlled. If you take charge of your conscious thought process. You allow only positive, good thoughts; that’s why the importance of Shravana and Manana. See, you encourage the right form of thinking it will become your samskara. It will generate your memories further on, and the cycle gets repeated.
Rick Archer: So what’s the difference between Shravana and Manana?
Mataji: Manana is when you think deeply about what you have heard, when you have generated a certain level of vritti jnana (knowledge of your vrittis), through Shravana, the knowledge born of the modifications generated by hearing the Vedantic scripture, then you dwell upon that. Dwell upon that for a long time; you know, it’s the best thing, the next best thing to realization is to dwell upon the experience of the realized sage.
Rick Archer: Yeah, so for instance, you know, over the last couple of weeks, I’ve probably listened to 20 hours of your talks. And I don’t know if there was anything that I heard that I had never heard before. But my feeling was, I could hear this stuff every day for the rest of my life. And it would still have a positive influence. I mean, because a lot of it tends to go in one ear and out the other, and you just want to have it, you know, get more and more deeply ingrained. So it becomes second nature.
Mataji: Right, like that’s why the importance of Manana, thinking continuously about what we have heard. Yeah, especially about see the news, you don’t want to think continuously about what you have heard on the news channel, isn’t it, but a scripture, you require to hear it again and again and dwell upon it. So that you generate enough samskaras to support your practice further, that is the Nididhyasana the third step. confirming the mental mode to reality that will only come when you have generated enough positive samskaras, to support the practice, and get the experience through meditation.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and you know, you could take a book like The Bhagavad Gita or something and read it throughout your life, but it’s always a new book because there’s always sort of a deeper level of understanding as you go along.
Mataji: That’s right. Yeah. Even the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna is like that, every time you read it you feel there is something new.
Rick Archer: Okay, and then there’s Nididhyasana. And talk about that a bit.
Mataji: Yeah, that is about meditation. See, although we may love to get the direct insight into the state of pure consciousness, whatever the scriptures are speaking of, you have to learn to conform the mental mode to that reality. Before you can actually plunge into that experience, I use the word experience, there are people who use the word insight or breakthrough, or whatever you call it, before you get it, your mind should have completely absorbed that experience, or you should have a very, very clear idea of that experience within yourself and that you love to dwell on it. If this samskara not there, tell me, how on earth will you actually remain in that very rarefied state of awareness? That is why meditation is so very important. It is confirming the mental mode, the nature of your mind to the nature of reality, and this will only come through practice.
Rick Archer: Right? So for instance, you could read books about pure consciousness, you could read Nisargadatta Maharaj, you could read Ramana, Maharshi, and so on. But that’s like standing outside a restaurant reading the menu on the door and say, oh, that sounds very delicious. But you could starve to death doing that! You have to kind of go in and eat, so to speak, you have to sit down and meditate to experience it.
Mataji: so beautifully. But that’s right. Yeah.
Rick Archer: And actually, this would be a good point to mention the second and third verses of Patanjali Yoga Sutras I think that that kind of relates directly to what we’re talking about when we say my experience and the mechanics of how that experience is achieved.
Mataji: That’s right, because in the second sutra of the Yoga Sutras there he introduces to us the definition of yoga: Yogas chitta vritti nirodha (Yoga is the control of thought waves in the mind). So why the cessation of the thought process is important. Because if you don’t do that, tada drashtu svarupe avasthanam, meaning then man abides in this real nature. So that you’re witnessing awareness comes to the forefront, and your identification with the thought process goes to the background. You sort of undermine that by disconnecting from thought itself. So that awareness comes into full bloom. That’s the whole point because in yoga psychology, you know, how do you exactly see awareness, it is the undercurrent of your thought process it is what enlivens thought. So you have to put down thought in order to step into awareness. Otherwise, what will happen, vritti sarupya mitaratra, which means you will simply keep getting identified with a thought process again and again and getting carried away by it, which is what happens during meditation, please see; during meditation, maybe you attain a certain amount of deep calmness or stillness, but then something else comes into your mind and you’re just carries you away for momentarily, then again, you come back. So this is the natural process unless the witnessing awareness has come to the forefront. That is why the standard technique in yoga is you put down the thought process that is yoke, essentially, but to what effect so that you become more aware from within? Not that you go into sleep or anything like that.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And the analogy often used is that of a movie theater where there’s movies playing on the screen, you can’t see the screen because the movie overshadows it. But if you could take the movie image and make it fainter and fainter and fainter, and further than as you did, so the screen would become more and more and more obvious until eventually, right? No movie projecting on it, and the screen is right there. Right?
Mataji: Yes, exactly. In actual experience, it translates as becoming deeply aware or conscious, so conscious, that you don’t feel like you are the awareness or anything like that you just become intensely aware. So that is a tremendous experience actually, to achieve that.
Rick Archer: And there’s still something dualistic in saying, you become intensely aware. And obviously, what we’re talking about here is the state at which when actually transcends dualism.
Mataji: Yes, exactly. Because in that state, if when you are fully aware there is no question of duality; see, you are unidentified with any thought process. So there is no identification with a body or a world of objects. So there is no duality. Basically, the state of intense awareness guarantees this but for that, you must have sufficient clarity of mind to maintain that for a long time. Because it is a rarefied state from the normal standpoint.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And…
Mataji: But it makes everything very clear without Nidhidyasana, in fact, you can’t understand Vedanta.
Rick Archer: and maintaining it for a long time. That’s something which grows through practice, doesn’t it?
Mataji: Yes, yes. Yes. It should not be just a few prolonged seconds. It should be the real Samadhi-like state. That is the most important thing.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And the nervous system has to be cultured over time, the mind and nervous system.
Mataji: Yeah, that’s why without the samskaras backup, you actually can’t do it.
Rick Archer: Very good. Okay. So here’s a question that I wrote out in a little bit of detail. So the Gita says that there’s nothing so purifying as knowledge. And that might be interpreted to mean that you can just study, read, and discuss various scriptures and thereby be purified and enlightened. Some people dismiss the importance of practice, we’re rehashing a little bit here, they dismiss the importance of practice and suggest that it reinforces the sense of an ego or practice or, but you and others emphasize practice to gain clarity and purity. But when you’re practicing, meditating, you’re not gaining knowledge in an intellectual informational sense. You’re just allowing the mind to settle down to a quiet state. And yet, when it totally settles down, you might say you’ve arrived at a state of pure knowledge or pure realization, that to which intellectual understanding points, that’s more of a statement than a question, but it kind of summarizes what we just said. And perhaps you could elaborate on it a little bit more.
Mataji: Yeah, we use the word knowledge, because we don’t have a better word. In Sanskrit we have other words like we have ‘Samvit’, we have ‘Pragnya’ what these mean to say is, you see here knowledge is more to do with awareness than any kind of an objective encounter with anything. It is not knowing something in the final analysis, you know, you can only BE the thing you cannot know it. So it’s not a process of knowledge. But we don’t have another word in English so we keep using the word knowledge. If we were having this conversation in Sanskrit, we would have used quite different words, you know, because it is actually you cannot know the self you can only become the self because it’s your own awareness that you’re investigating into. You can only be it. That’s why Vivekananda use the word I think “being and becoming”. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it’s like, if you could stand apart from the self and know it like who is knowing what?
Rick Archer: Yeah. It’s like Eckhart Tolle had said that just before he had his awakening he, he’s he was very depressed. And he said, “I can’t live with myself anymore”. And then he said, “wait a minute, are there two of me?”
Mataji: That’s right. Exactly.
Rick Archer: Yeah. You know, they say that the Inuit so the Eskimos have about 30 different names for snow because they’re so familiar with snow. So, the, you know, the Vedic tradition has a lot of different names for conscious knowledge and all that.
Mataji: Yeah, we actually the word Pragnya, Chaitanya these are all very significant because we know here the knowledge has to do with intensified awareness. You can say, …. the level of your awareness is dependent on the density of your mind. If the mind is very clear, very sattvic then it will reflect more of what we are calling the sakshi, the pure consciousness, so your reflected awareness will be very intense. So that is a huge clue to getting to the state of your original being. Unless you manufacture that state; that is why the state of nidhidhyasana It hasn’t unless you manufacture that state, you won’t get an inkling of what you’re searching for and what its nature is. You know, there are two schools of Vedanta. One actually insists on shravana as the direct means to realization and the other insists on nidhidhyasana, meditation. I belong to the second school. That’s the Bhamati school.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And obviously, you include Shravana, do you include the hereafter? Yeah, that’s the first part of the package. I was listening to your discourses on the Isha Upanishad. And there’s a verse that I’ve always wondered about that you discussed, which and this relates to what we’re just talking about, into blinding darkness goes he who works who worships avidya, ignorance, into even greater darkness goes he who worships vidya, knowledge. And, I’ve always wondered about that verse. It sounds What are they talking about? Me? I have a thought about it, but let me hear what you feel, you know, discuss it.
Mataji: See, this is pretty obvious. This is the characteristic Upanishadic way of putting it that since it is not an objective knowledge, anything you know, even the spoken word, the written word, anything in the third person will never give you an inkling of what it is. And that is why this vidya will lead you into greater darkness. That’s why they’re saying that … because it’s not an objective knowledge at all. It’s the very nature of that knowledge. And the method changes when it comes to Self-knowledge. Meditation is the most direct way you can go into it. And for those who are adept at meditation, real Yogis, maybe just the Mahavakya suffices. Yes, for them, it’s just like a spark. You know, they get it immediately.
Rick Archer: please explain Mahavakya.
Mataji: Mahavakyas are those great statements, or sentences in the Upanishads, which give you the direct relationship between the Atman and Brahman, the Self, and the cosmic reality of existence. They all mean the same, actually. There are four Mahavakyas and we were just recently doing the Mandukya Upanishad. It has the Mahavakya, “Ayam Atma Brahma”, which means this Atman itself is Brahman. Chāndogya Upanishad has “Tat Tvam Asi”, That Thou Art, you are verily that Brahman. See, they all mean the same thing. And Brihanaranyaka has “Aham Brahma Asmi”, which is, I am Brahman. And Aitereya Upanishad has “Prajnanam Brahma”, which is, Consciousness is Brahman. So, these four statements are directly pointing, in fact, they alone suffice for a very developed mind; they are just great pointers towards the state of pure being ….your own real nature.
Rick Archer: So, in other words, if the mind is pure enough, ripe enough, one can just hear a phrase like that, and that can yes, that can drive you in straight. Yeah, right. Whereas, you know, someone else could hear it for years on end and it just wouldn’t have much effect.
Mataji: That’s the point I’m trying to make that the mind has to be cultivated by the meditation process. That is why I speak more about yoga many times than about Vedanta because you must perfect the methodology and then the end will come by itself.
Rick Archer: Another angle on that Isha Upanishad verse is, you know, he who worships, knowledge goes into even greater darkness. I wonder if it might be something I’ve encountered many times, which is actually described by an old Tibetan proverb, which is that don’t mistake understanding for realization. And don’t mistake realization for liberation. But yet a lot of times people read enough books or go to enough talks. And I think I got it, you know, that’s worse than thinking you don’t have it because you don’t, and yet you think you do, and therefore, you’re not going to do the necessary things to actually get it.
Mataji: You’re right. In fact, in the Upanishad, you have this statement, “sa Atma sa vijneyah”, they are not saying “sa janeyah”, they are not telling you that this is the Atma can be known as an object. They’re using the word , “Vijneyah”, which means the Atma has to be realized. It’s about being and becoming, and not knowing it as you know, an object. Just for want of words, we are constantly using the word object. You know, we have been using the word knowledge, but it’s about being and becoming, that’s how you can describe it. And I can tell you this, that people who have actually done a lot of meditation, they will understand the significance of this yogic statement, “yogo, yogena, jnatavyo yogo yogat pravartate”, which means you can know yoga only through yoga, and by yoga I mean meditation, not the exercises and all that. You can know it only through yoga, and you can proceed in yoga only through yoga. And not in any other way. Because the intelligence that develops as a result of stilling thought is something very different from the intelligence you get by collecting information through a thought process.
Rick Archer: Which can actually be elusive. Yeah.
Mataji: You remember, I think you have read a fair amount of Ramana literature. So you remember that incident, where there was this person sitting at the feet of Ramana Maharishi, and he said, Bhagwan, I don’t want to become sugar, I want to eat sugar. And then immediately, you know, Maharishi looked into his eyes and said, “Do you think awareness is insentient like sugar, that you have to remain apart from it to enjoy it?” Now, this is a stupendous point. Because you see that he’s Bhagwan, he has realized that state, he is in that state, it’s not a separate entity, that you have to keep it separate from you to enjoy it. The very nature of pure awareness is that it is synonymous with happiness. You will not realize it until you enter the state.
Rick Archer: I have some questions about that. I’ve been thinking about that. lately. I’ve been studying the Katha Upanishad, with Swami Sarvapriyananda. And we were doing one verse where it says or one Mantra where it says the discriminating man should merge the organ of speech into the mind, he should merge that mind into the intelligent self, he should merge the intelligent self into the great soul, he should merge the great soul into the peaceful Self. And Swami Sarvapriyananda talked about this as a recognition that they are already merged the way New York City has merged into New York State, which is merged into the United States, which is merged into North America, etc. But, you know, so he’s saying, one recognizes that they’re already merged, but then who or what is doing the recognizing? And does, that recognizer or have to remain ever so slightly unmerged or separate to some degree, in order to be observing these mergings?
Mataji: See, in the final analysis, from the final perspective, yes, they are merged. But just now we are recognizing them as separate. That’s why we are saying speech and mind and self, we’re using different terms. So from the beginner’s standpoint, I would put it like this, that what’s the meaning of merging speech in mind? See, if you just arrest speech, you become mentally very active, isn’t it? This is our natural experience. So, if you arrest the thought process, you become deeply aware. So this is the meaning of merge speech into mind and mind into self. What they’re asking us to do is…these are all faculties given for the expression of that inner consciousness. Now, your goal is not the expression, but the knowledge of the self itself. So what will you do? So merge speech into mind, which means arrest or still your different faculties of expression; your mind will become very active, then just suppress that intelligence also. And you will become deeply aware, because you see this is what happens in the meditation process, when you actually put down thought, in a very conscious state of mind you become intensely aware; aware of the absence of thought in your mind. Now, this state has to be extended, captured and extended, it will resolve into the very clarified state of, you can say pure awareness, it is still it’s still in the mind, it’s reflected awareness, but it will give you an inkling of what you are searching for the state of pure being, the Atman. So, you have to arrest this instrumentation in order to allow that to happen, otherwise, you know, you will be carried out, carried away by your thoughts, by your sense perceptions, they are all meant to turn us outward, and they are meant for our survival, okay. But once that is taken care of, we must get this. You know, it’s an inner imperative that you want to turn your senses and mind inward. Because you know the sheer limitation of sense experience and mind-born experience. That’s why I wrote that book, “Science of Happiness”, you see, we are all searching for the same thing. Only thing is, we have not explored this inner realm sufficiently. And we have not brought the terminology into everyday thinking and speaking; we haven’t done that. It’s somewhere in the scriptures and esoteric and all that, and only a few people have access to it, it should not be like that. Vivekananda had wanted that Advaita become practically applicable to everyday life all this you must have read in his works. So because why he wanted that was that this should be knowledge available to anyone who is prepared for it, who’s wanting it.
Rick Archer: Absolutely. I mean, I don’t know about India, but here in the United States, there’s a very high rate of depression and everybody’s taking medications for… there’s a very high rate of suicide, especially among younger people. And it’s tragic, especially considering that everyone contains deep within an ocean of happiness. Yet there’s all this unhappiness, you know, resulting in such tragic behaviors.
Mataji: Well, I always tell my students in these IITs and other colleges that you just keep this equation in your mind that happiness is an exponential function of awareness. If your mind is not deeply aware, no object will keep you happy for a long time, because the mind will fill up with boredom and then worries and anxieties and all sorts of things if it is not deeply aware. Don’t think a collection of information and a variety of thought processes all that constitutes intelligence. In fact, it compromises your real intelligence, because the more you allow the mind to overthink and purely just objective thinking, the more you discount awareness, you compromise on awareness, because you know, your thought as yoga sees it, it is nothing but a huge investiture of your vital energy. So, you are deeply engaged now in a thought process which is outward bound, you will lose on awareness and the mind which is not deeply aware will not know happiness.
Rick Archer: Right. And the reason for that obviously, or maybe not obviously, is that happiness or bliss is an intrinsic quality of consciousness or awareness, such as in Vedanta, you know, existence, consciousness, bliss. So what the Vedic scriptures say is that, you know, awareness is not only your innermost nature, but it’s also this fundamental reality of the universe, and bliss, or happiness is somehow, you know, part of its makeup. Yeah, yeah. Why would that be? Why is it that happiness is essential? I mean, let’s say, 10 minutes after the Big Bang, when there were no life forms of any sort in the universe, even then, would you say that happiness was the essential constituent or quality of Brahman, and it just took a few billion years for there to be beings who could enjoy that as a living reality, but still it was there from the start or from all times.
Mataji: See, you must understand this thing, in the first person again. Just check on your own awareness and see, is it apart from existence and happiness? It cannot be your own awareness. These are synonyms for that awareness only. What we are calling pure existence and happiness. They are different definitions, different words for awareness only. And that is why Brahman has always been called Satchitananda. But, you must realize it as your awareness, in your being. Because if I know, for example, Brahman as Satchitananda what does it matter to me? I have to be aware of myself as Satchitananda! You must experience it as, “I am that Brahma” in my awareness. Actually speaking, there is nothing called ‘my’ awareness because awareness is not ‘mine’, I AM awareness. So, through meditation, when you can capture it when you become deeply aware, this is all, all I can say about it, you know, that when you become intensely aware, which means, your mind is bereft of thought but intensely aware, awareness floods the mind, you will understand that, that means happiness, at every other form of happiness, which was object-based was a kind of synthetic joy, which, you know, the mind had to be engaged with something and somehow get a little joy or gladness, and that is why you will doing that kind of an engagement, but this is the original joy of pure being. But you can know it only if your awareness gets clarified to that extent, and not by any other means. Even the Upanishad, I’m telling you, are a great Rishi. Or say, Swami Vivekananda sitting in front of you, or Ramana Maharshi sitting in front of you, but it must happen in you, your awareness should touch pure being. Just now, when we are talking of awareness, we are talking of the reflected shadow of pure being in the mind. And to the extent we clear the mind, the more we become aware. So okay, you follow that method, but there must come a point when you see the source as it is, you don’t see it, you be it, you become it. Because you are always that.
Rick Archer: Of course, if you could sit in the presence of, you know, Ramana Maharshi…
Mataji: Yes, You sit in their presence, and they will do it for you. It’s contagious. That’s there. Yeah. But it should happen in you! That’s what I’m saying.
Rick Archer: Yeah, absolutely. Of course, there are still debates, and probably will be for a long time in scientific and even spiritual circles, as to whether consciousness is fundamental, and everything arises from that, or it’s just a product of the brain. And if you’re experiencing this in meditation, maybe it’s just because the process is somehow triggering these neuro chemicals, and, and so on. And it’s not an intrinsic quality of consciousness and blah, blah, blah, you know, we could go on and on with that. And that’s interesting.
Mataji: That’s right. Yes my students also keep telling me all that, but I tell them see, now you are asking for the experience of pure being, then you must practice meditation. If you don’t, if you try to merely understand spirituality, without the power of meditation, you will only depend on a refined thought process, isn’t it? Your thought is affected by so many factors. Your sense impressions actually create a lot of your thought processes, and your memories impinge on that. And so it’s a lot of collected information, this is what I want to say. You can only know when you plunge into the source. Otherwise, it’s a recycling of all the data you have collected in various ways over a long period of time. How will that yield this knowledge? Yeah. You know, Ramana Maharshi used to characteristically say, “No thought is consistent with realization”. And he would say, you can only realize the Self through “mritu-manas”, the dead mind. Vivekananda at one point in his life said, I simply want to forget everything that I have known; just before he attained Nirvikalpa samadhi state, that was his state of mind. This is obvious to a sadhak, a seeker, that just the mind, you have to sort of clean it, purify it of everything, so that the actual foundation of the thought process, that which enlivens your thoughts comes to the forefront. This is the whole thing about sadhana which is sometimes I feel it’s strange. Why is this not insisted upon by a whole lot of spiritual practitioners do not believe that. Somewhere you have to undermine thought and bring awareness to the forefront. This has to happen in your conscious mind.
Rick Archer: If they are spiritual practitioners, and they don’t believe that then what are they doing? What do they believe?
Mataji: I don’t know. In fact, you find me here just now in the Himalayas, because, you know, every year I run and come to this place, and whenever I can I try to be here. and all that I do is sit here, you know this pin-drop silence, Rick, you should actually just experience this. It’s so marvelous. It’s absolutely silent. And if you sit anywhere here in the Himalayas, and just, first of all, you just hear the silence. And ask yourself, who is it who is hearing? That’s enough to take you into what we are meaning by awareness.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah, I’ve been in some situations like that, where it’s very silent and pure and everything. It’s just very conducive to ….. Well, based on what you’re just saying, a question came in, from, actually, let me do this one first from Rahul Agarwal, in New Delhi: How long does the person like you after coming out of Samadhi, remember, calendar dates and linear time to continue worldly activities? And I’ll rephrase this question slightly, and that you were just quoting Ramana Maharshi is saying, mritu-manas, dead mind. And that wouldn’t sound appealing to the average person because they’d say, wait a minute, I have responsibilities and things I just, I can’t get into some blank state that I can’t get out of; my children will starve or whatever. But I think the whole point of, well, there’s the shloka in the Bhagavad Gita, you know, “Yogastha kuru karmani….” … you know, be established in being but integrated so that you can perform action from that foundation, on that foundation.
Mataji: Exactly. Actually speaking, that state does not take you away from life, or activity, because what happens is, there’s a function between your vital energy and awareness. If you experience the state of very clarified pure awareness, your vital energy is always at its optimum. So you will always have a lot of energy in your system. See, I have given those indices of happiness, I don’t know if you saw that video…
Rick Archer: I think I did…
Mataji: One of the indices of the status, is very high energy output, both physically and mentally, so you’re mentally clear and always aware and full of energy, and physically also, and it also caters to all the problems of the body, the compulsions of the mind, it caters to all that this state; it doesn’t take you away from life. In fact, it takes you deeply into real life. And whatever you do, you will do it better. Once you have experienced this state, I simply can’t understand how we have got that idea that these things take you away from life. They take you deep into life.
Rick Archer: Well, I think to a certain extent, it’s a matter of one’s Dharma, and you look at somebody like Ramana Maharshi. And you think, well, he must be in a very wonderful, subjective state. But I wouldn’t want to sit around on a couch for 30-40 years, in a loincloth, you know, I have inspirations and aspirations to do other things, which the average person does. And so I think it’s important to always mentioned that one can achieve a very elevated state and yet be engaged in activity.
Mataji: Yes, you can take Vivekananda as an example, or Sri Ramakrishna Himself. Well, they did so much of great work, after having realized that state. So it’s not like a dead end, actually, people try to interpret that state without reaching it. And that’s why they come to these kinds of conclusions, that it’s a state of blankness. It’s not a state of blackness at all. It is a state of full awareness. Due to which everything, whatever you call yourself, gets rejuvenated.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and there, you mentioned some good examples. Mata Amritanandamayi is another example. I’ve spent a lot of time around her. She, I mean, you know, her daily routine would kill the average person within about a week, the amount of time she spends doing stuff. And yet when you get close to her, and you really sort of tune into where she is… She’s in a very profound Deep State, but it’s completely compatible with incredibly dynamic activity.
Mataji: Look at that. Exactly. That’s what I’m saying. I think there’s a very wrong idea that that kind of absorption causes you to be away from ordinary activity. It enhances life spectacularly, in fact.
Rick Archer: Right. All right. Well, I think we’ve covered that point. I mean, so you know, there are some rare individuals who are going to be very reclusive and withdrawn, but it’s not the average person and therefore, this is available for everybody in the context of their natural inclinations and dharma. All righty. Well, let me just throw a question in here that someone asked. I don’t know if it’ll be a bit of an abrupt segue. And then we’ll get back to some other things. This is from Canta Dadlani in Bombay, Mumbai, why do some people experience negative reactions from others, even complete strangers? I’m not sure exactly what she’s asking. But I think you can make something of that.
Mataji: Well, why do you experience negative reactions? I think I can give you a solution to that. I can’t tell you why people are reacting like that around you. You must develop a kind of cover, what is called the kind of shield by being very positive yourself. You can watch the video on positive thinking; for most people, you know, that is the level of spirituality they want. That’s why we created that video, all they want is the effect of a good mind. And if you continuously think positively and think well of others and have what is called goodwill towards everyone. You know, the energies you attract will be only good around you. So then you won’t have to bother so much about negative people around you. There are toxic people, I’m not saying that it’s not there, but you will not draw them into your ambit, that I can tell you. So it depends entirely on the kind of energy you radiate.
Rick Archer: Although we can think of examples of saintly people who were attacked or criticized in various ways, and like Jesus saying, “Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do”. He wasn’t saying, Oh, these terrible people.
Mataji: Yeah, that’s the thing.
Rick Archer: Some guy wrote a very negative book about Ramana Maharshi. And he said, Oh, put it at the entrance to the ashram, make it freely available to everybody.
Mataji: And Vivekananda, the kind of criticisms he received and the way he dealt with them, well, you should actually read those stories. And they are very inspiring, because if you have a spiritual outlook, and if you have spiritual experience, then I think no negativity can come close to you. That’s the power of the Spirit, you will surely want give in to negative vibrations and all that because you have that shield around you. There’s something born of thought, your it’s your aura.
Rick Archer: There’s something in physics called the Meissner effect, where a super conductor super fluid, something that is extremely coherent within itself is impervious to incoherent influences coming at it from the outside. Okay, let’s talk a little bit for a while about, and feel free as we’re going along. If an idea comes to mind that you’d like to pursue, just bring it up, don’t wait for me to ask questions about it. Just launch into something if you like, anything, right at the moment or so I continue.
Mataji: Please continue.
Rick Archer: Okay. Let’s talk a little bit about ethics. There is some talk about the yamas and niyamas as being foundational for spiritual practice. And there was a nice quote from Vivekananda, that you mentioned that the infinite oneness of the soul is the eternal sanction of all morality, if I got that, right. And, let’s see. Swami Sarvapriyananda also talks about he has sometimes said, you can have ethics without Enlightenment, but you can’t have Enlightenment without ethics. He emphasizes that it’s quite foundational and even preliminary in traditional spiritual paths. It’s true in Buddhism also.
Mataji: Yes, yes. That’s pretty obvious. Because, what does it do to you in your system, from the yogic standpoint, you know, it actually conserves your vital energy. You can’t afford to compromise on your vital energies, because that is going to lead you to your experience of realization. And an ethical life conserves all your energies. And most of all the mental modes required for the higher life can come only with a very strong ethical foundation. In fact, without that, you’re sure to fail in yoga. So that’s why some of my IIT students asked me this, why should I be good? So I tell them because you know, that’s the only way you can control your mind. You can have a stable mind and a stable life. Otherwise, your own vital energies will systematically destroy you.
Rick Archer: Yeah, you know, I bring this up because I’ve seen I’m in touch with so many people in the spiritual world. And I’ve seen examples of this where people are literally destroyed, who seemed to start out pretty good, but somehow neglected this, this thing. And I gave a talk on this at a conference a few years ago. And then with some friends, we founded this organization called, The Association for Spiritual Integrity. And there are examples of people who just seem to feel that they’ve attained some state of consciousness, and they can do whatever they want. And it’s just God doing it. And they indulge in all kinds of drugs and sex and all kinds of things and end up literally, destroying themselves and becoming extremely toxic, and then hurting a lot of people in the process. So it’s a shame, you know, because spirituality is such a glorious undertaking and is so important for the world and it’s so hurtful and disillusioning to people when they get caught up in something like this.
Mataji: Yeah, that’s right. In fact, if you read the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, the Masters insistence on purifying the mind, and keeping it away from what he would call “woman and gold”, meaning “lust and greed”…. this is so central to the spiritual life. Because as long as that consciousness is their body consciousness will remain. And then how will you explore into pure consciousness if you are already identified with something? So that is so fundamental that that’s why the emphasis on yama and niyama. If we can practice that, for a long time, Yoga will happen by itself. A sattvic life is most important for spiritual practice.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a family life and have a job that earns you a good living, and so on and so forth. But there’s, there’s a certain balance or proportion. Like in the Vedic tradition there are people like King Janaka, and so on, who were wealthy.
Mataji: That’s right. Yes.
Rick Archer: There’s one question on this, that I, I was listening to your talk the other day, and you said, our perception of right and wrong comes from the mind. And then I wondered, well, aren’t there any more universal values of ethics? Because if it just comes from the mind, then it’s totally relative. And one person’s right might be another person’s wrong. And then anything goes? So I’m not sure what you meant by that.
Mataji: I said that contextually. But I do believe yes, there is a universal set of you can say values, which are mandatory to human life, and that’s what constitutes “ritam” in the in Vedic parlance, you know that which brings harmony into life.
Rick Archer: Ritam, r-i-t-a-m?
Mataji: Yes, yes, that’s right. So they are nothing but a code of universal laws and values, which are mandatory; you have to follow them. Ritam Bhara Pragya? That’s in Patanjali, isn’t it? No, that’s a different idea. This ritam in the Vedas is the essential rhythm of life, you can say, which is harmony, which comes through the spirit of yagna. Which means the spirit of exchange and understanding the nature of life is a healthy exchange between the internal and the external, participating in Universal Life, which means giving of yourself unselfish action, you can say, and working for the good of all, service mindedness, you can translate it in all these ways. But the essential thing is a harmony between the individual and the cosmos. Without this, you know, again, your vital energies will not remain harmonious and no higher spiritual experience is possible.
Rick Archer: What we’re saying here is not that people should be sort of, I mean, here in the United States, we have fundamentalist, religious people who are very moralistic and very strict and always, you know, criticizing those who aren’t like them, and so on and so forth. And then they usually are exposed in some kind of scandal. Turns out they were not practicing what they were preaching. So we’re not always seeing ethics. Sometimes it brings that kind of thing to mind, you know, kind of goody-two-shoes, moralistic, repressive kind of thing. But I think the context in which we want to frame this is just that this mind-body system that is our vehicle through life, and there are certain things which enhance its functioning and make the journey smoother and there are certain things which damage it Like, if you put dirt in your gas tank on your car, it’s not going to perform very well. So you just need to take care of this, this mechanism. And that’s right. Yeah, that was a realization I had when I was about 18. And decided I’d better stop taking drugs. Oh, this back in the 60s. What are the kleshas?
Mataji: The kleshas are actually the afflictions which the human mind suffers from. So they are generalized in the Patanjali yoga sutras as being five-fold. The first klesha is avidya, which is supposed to be the actual root for the cause for the other kleshas, which is ignorance of the Purusha, the real nature of our being. And then from that arises asmita, which means a wrong idea of yourself, a sense of yourself, which is not based on the reality of your being. And I think all of us have that asmita we have a sense of who I am, but it’s identified with something of the body and mind and not with the source. So that’s asmita. And then as a result, you have raga, dvesha, and abhinivesha, which are, attachment, aversion, and false fears. So this is pretty obvious, these are all the kleshas, the afflictions, due to which our mind goes into states of negativity, and we feel a sense of moroseness or, you know, the people are planning getaways all the time. Even a whole lot of tourists have just now come here to this Pangot because they just want to keep away from their mind, which is so wrongly conditioned by the kleshas.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it’s also 115 degrees Fahrenheit in much of India.
Mataji: Yes, Delhi is just sizzling in the heat, almost, it’s 45-46 degrees centigrade. So that’s an additionally physical klesha, you can say. So, all this keeps the mind and the body very unhappy, due to which we are seeking for a whole lot of other experiences. So people don’t actually work on getting rid of the kleshas; they only try to divert their minds to something else to escape these afflictions, that’s the problem.
Rick Archer: And so is just getting rid of them, you know, by doing spiritual practice, as we’ve already described, or is there more to it?
Mataji: Yeah, there is a different way. And in fact, Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga is the means to get rid of kleshas. That is how he puts it. Ashtanga yoga was actually calibrated to put an end to mental afflictions, which are due to all these factors. But you know, in order to succeed in this, you must see these afflictions, for what they are, and not superimpose them on factors outside of yourself. Like, we usually do this, when we have anger in our head, it’s due to that person or due to that circumstance happening like that, we do that. And we don’t recognize the enormous effect of avidya in our mind, I don’t know who I am. And I’m very happy to remain identified with what I am not. And also have a big ego about it. This is a huge problem. But we don’t think like that. That’s why we don’t recognize the afflictions, these kleshas. And that’s why Ashtanga yoga, the solution, doesn’t appear very impressive to us. Only if we have felt, you know, the actual misery of being ignorant about my own being will I start the spiritual journey, right, isn’t it? If I’m very happy, being what I’m not, and very satisfied with an ego, which is baseless and I identify with a whole lot of things which are so temporary, then how will I be serious on my spiritual journey? Tell me, you must, you must feel the shield sorrow of not knowing who we are, fundamentally, everything begins from there.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it would be nice if society were structured and education were structured such that one came to that realization in the normal course of the development as a child, you know, as it is, you know, most people never come to it and those who do often have to go through a lot of difficulties before they do.
Mataji: Yes, because they have trapped themselves in so many ways. And the mind is so deeply conditioned in so many negative patterns, that compulsive behaviors just …they are sort of trapped in their own minds.
Rick Archer: I mean, here in the West, it’s not really part of the culture, and there in India? Is it any better?
Mataji: Not in urban India, I wouldn’t say it’s any better. But I have seen this, the insistence on developing good samskaras is there in many pockets of India, Indian traditional families, in fact, they talk this language, almost all of our local languages, the native languages of India have the word samskara, that these inner impressions have to be purified and cleansed and deliberately made such that your life is tuned towards higher values. And you don’t compromise vital energy on silly thought and all kinds of emotions. And because, you know, it’s a huge trap.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And, you know, there’s a practical significance to it, too. I’ve often heard this, this Indian phrase, the means collect around sattva, you know, the Sanskrit of that?
Mataji: The means collecting around sattva?
Rick Archer: Isn’t there in Sanskrit a famous saying? But anyway, I mean, to me, what that means is, you know, not only for the sake of spiritual practice but for the sake of actually being successful in life. If one is living a sattvic life, things just seem to come your way more easily.
Mataji: That’s right. That’s right. You’re right. Because it’s all to do with energy. You know, there’s word of manifestation is to do with energy. And if you generate the right kind of energy or pull the right kind of things towards you.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And not only your sort of physical or psychic or emotional energy, but I think just, there’s an intelligence in nature that orchestrates the universe. And, and if we’re aligned with that, then, you know, you get the parking place, you get the green light, you know, and much, many more, much more significant things just kind of help you, which otherwise, other people, they’re always running into obstacles.
Mataji: That’s right. It’s the grace of God, as devotees would put it as a good way of putting in a good mind is really the grace of God. A mind which has turned away from good samskaras is bound to have this deviant perverted ways of thinking and action, and it only harms itself. It’s the sheer grace of God when you have a pure mind.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay, here’s a question that’s not going to come up in the ordinary course of our conversation. So I’ll just pop it in here. This is from Mohan Rao in Cookeville, Tennessee: from a Vedantic point of view… but before I ask this question. Let me just say that I’ve interviewed people who are mediums and psychics and things like that. And I’ve interviewed people who have had near-death experiences and past life memories and all that kind of stuff. Not that that’s the ultimate reality of things. But it demonstrates in a kind of a way that it can actually be measured scientifically, in some cases, that there is more to life than the surface value, that there’s more to life that when this body dies, there’s something that continues. And so that’s why I interview such people from time to time. But his question is, from a Vedantic point of view, what are your thoughts on mediums, psychics, and connecting with people on the other side?
Mataji: Well, from the Vedantic standpoint, see, there’s no other side, right? And because when they don’t give that importance to individuality or the person itself, there’s no question of the other side. But let me tell you this, that the human unconscious, and even the human subconscious, that itself goes so deep, that a whole lot of these experiences — I don’t say they are unreal or untrue or anything like that. They can happen in any life, any life which has found a way towards that, which has removed the blocks, which make us aware of this particular, you can say, source of the mental thought process. So those who have found a way to that can become mediums and psychics. And, in fact, there are there are people who have done a whole lot of good things by becoming that like Edgar Casey for example. So, all this is very true. It only points out to the depths of your own mind. But it is only when you step into pure consciousness or awareness that you do mind its place. Until then all this is very real and it holds. And in fact, you will have to pass through a whole lot of all these mental processes before you arrive at realization. You know, in yoga, they are very clear about this a whole lot vibutis can come to you. Meaning an acute sense of perception. Vibhutis are different powers; that show siddhis. Yeah, yeah, different powers, which are not normal, right, and very enhanced perceptions, augmented perceptions, you can see all of these are part of the spiritual journey according to yoga. Not that it comes into the life of every spiritual aspirant. But you must not get sidetracked by this. That’s the whole point. If you want to achieve the goal or just want the answer to “Who am I”, you must focus on the I-Sense in you, and not what your mind is doing or what came up or what light you saw there. And you’ll see 100 things because, you know, whatever, gets touched by clarified awareness will become very bright and effulgent. And it appears like an ineffable experience, but you should not be affected by it; rather you must ask who’s experiencing it. That’s the only way to go into the source of your being. So all these things have to be put aside when it comes to a real Vedanta inquiry. But not that they will not come into the life of a spiritual aspirant. I can tell you that.
Rick Archer: Yeah, so you just said at the beginning of that, from the Vedanta, or from the Vedantic perspective, there is no other side. But Vedanta is Anta, the end of the Veda. And there is also the vyavaharika satyam, the transactional reality level of things. And that has its relevance. I mean, we could also say that from the Vedantic perspective, there is no hunger or there is no war, or anything else, because it’s actually nothing. But hunger needs to be dealt with. And war needs to be dealt with, on its own level.
Mataji: That’s right, that’s right. See, many people, they confuse the way and the goal, and talk in the same terms regarding both. But let’s be clear about this, that when we are speaking of… see, I think Vivekananda put it in the best possible way that religion, actually spirituality is about manifestation, manifesting the divinity within which is already there. And bringing it out, bringing it to the forefront. And do this by any means. He said, work, worship, knowledge, these are all the yoga as you see, your will lead you to Vedanta. And you just stick to your method. And it can be a mixed part also, like you can be using many yogas and yogas, as are the constitutional necessities of our being due to our present identifications. So we can’t dispense with them.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, there’s all these different things, right? There is yoga. And there’s, bhakti. And there’s Raja Yoga and Karma Yoga and all these different things. And it seems to me, I can, I can’t think of any very many examples of anyone who is so exclusively engaged in any one of those that they’re not also somewhat engaged in the other. So there might be a preponderance of one or the other, but most for most people, it’s, you have a toolkit with many tools in it.
Mataji: Yeah, because you have all these faculties in yourself, and how can you put them aside? you are a thinker, and you are emoting, you are an emotional person, you have a propensity towards work and action. And you also have a tendency to meditate. So if you have all these it’s a constitutional necessity that you adopt every yoga.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Perhaps you might say that underlying all the different yogas is a common denominator, which again, is pure consciousness. And if one can take recourse to that, in addition to whatever mode of activity you engage in, that that will render the activity more fruitful.
Mataji: Yes, yes, yes. The idea is that that should dominate our thought process. You say you take up a method, but it’s a method towards this. And in fact, the method itself is being illumined by this. Finally, you understand that you are the goal you are seeking. You know, that Rumi’s statement –I knocked on the door to open it and then I realize I’m knocking from within.
Rick Archer: That’s great. I heard you mention in one talk, the three conditions of sadhana purity, patience and perseverance. And we’ve talked quite a bit about purity already but let’s talk more about patience and perseverance.
Mataji: Yes, Without patience, I think you go nowhere because these things take time for you to overcome the wrong kind of conditioning which you already have; to build the right samskaras, the building blocks; and then to concentrate to build focus in your system, it takes time. So patience must be there. The problem lies here, you know, most people, especially youngsters, they are taking up methods for a few days. So I was telling them that story of Sri Ramakrishna: that you start digging a well, and then you don’t you go to the three, four feet, and then you don’t find water, then you start digging in another place. Again, you go only to four feet, and then you start to take up a third place. That’s no way to find water. You must dig in one place only. And for that you require patience obviously.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And perseverance; And in my own experience. I was a very flaky guy; i dropped out of school a couple of times, I was very inconsistent all the time; but when I went to meditate at 18, it was so beneficial from day one, that I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but in fact, I haven’t missed one, ever since then. 54 years. It just, it didn’t take a lot of discipline. I wasn’t a very disciplined guy. It was. It was sort of just so rewarding, that I look forward to it.
Mataji: You had the samskaras. Rick, that’s like, yes, you found it like that.
Rick Archer: Just clicked. In any case,
Mataji: No, actually, it’s such a liberating experience for the mind one bout of real meditation. And you will know it’s the sanest state of existence.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it was such a relief. And so you know, so when we say patience and perseverance, it sounds like we’re having to go through this arduous sort of boring. Gotta keep doing this thing. But it’s, it’s a lot, it can be a lot easier than that. It’s rewarding all the way along the way.
Mataji: That’s right. Yeah. When you have similar company, it’s all the more beneficial and encouraging. Yeah,
Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah, I remember when I first learned, nobody around me was interested in it. And I used to I was in this place, it was very busy with kids and dogs and music. And there was a tree house out in the back. And I used to go up into the tree house to do my meditation. Kind of at the edge of the woods. Here’s another one. There’s all these gems, which are traditional Vedantic gems, but I want to touch upon them as we go. The fourfold qualifications for sadhana without which you should not embark on reading Vedanta, viveka, vairagya, shat-sampati, mumukshatva. Let’s talk about those.
Mataji: Yeah, see, they’re pretty obvious, actually, if you think. Viveka is to do with philosophical discrimination. And which means you’re able to clearly analyze what actually gives you happiness and what doesn’t. And the nature of life’s experiences, you’re able to clearly analyze them. And then vairagya is, you know, the nature of our mind is it can be pursuing something which is fruitless, just because it’s habituated to do that. So when you show a certain amount of indignation towards such activity, then it’s called vairagya.
Rick Archer: indignation is this passion?
Mataji: Yeah, this passion, but that the expression of the discussion can be a sort of indignation. What I meant to say is, the nature of our mind is it can be pursuing something which it knows is fruitless. Just because the habit, the tendency is there. So closing the gate to this is Vairagya, which means you develop a sense of dispassion, or dislike indignation towards this kind of activity, which is outward bound.
Rick Archer: if you let’s say you have a cigarette habit or something.
Mataji: You know, you show a bit of anger towards it. And it’s vairagya.
Rick Archer: Yeah, even disgust, perhaps like, Ah, this is yucky. Don’t want to do this.
Mataji: That’s right. Your mind will naturally do it if you have the viveka, because that’s the cause, and this the effect. Each of these four are like that, they see this. and then shat-sampati is a group of six qualities, which are very essential for our steady mind. It includes Shama, Dama, Uparati, Titiksha, Shraddha and Samadhana.
Rick Archer: Might be worth going through those.
Mataji: Yeah. Shama is actually deep calmness of the mind. Dama is the control of sense organs. See how important all this is, as long as they are rushing towards sense objects, no control of mind is possible. So, Shama and Dama, they go together. Uparati Is your ability to turn away from objects, which divert your attention, your ability to move away from that. Rati is attachment Uparati Is you turning away from that, meaning detachment; and Titiksha is great forbearance, the ability to bear with all the different conditions and circumstances of life. Well, you know, in places like Delhi and even here in the Himalayas, we get to practice natural Titiksha because the weather’s like that, the pollution levels can be like that, that you simply have to bear with it in order to keep a very stable mind and do what you can to continue a normal life without getting depressed without reacting abnormally. So Titiksha is very important and then you have Shraddha, which is astikya buddhi actually, a positive state of mind which helps you absorb the best in every situation, it helps you absorb knowledge.
Rick Archer: Sometimes Shraddha is defined as faith, is that correct?
Mataji: Your faith but Shankaracharya defines it as astikya buddhi, which means a positive frame of mind, which can accept the reality around you the truth of things. And then samadhana is focus, ability to concentrate, which means you have a very steady mind. So these are six core qualifications, which are the shat-sampati, the six treasures. And mumukshutva, of course, is your hankering for liberation, which means an unconditioned, uncluttered, pure state of existence, which obviously all of us are hankering for.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And these are said to be qualities, without which you should not embark on reading Vedanta. But obviously, all of these things grow. There is no end to their possible growth. And so you’re not going to wait until you’re perfect and all these things because that’ll never happen. So, you know, would it be true to say that if you are attracted to reading Vedanta, you might as well start doing it? And that perhaps indicates a certain degree of development of all these qualities?
Mataji: Yeah, the very fact that if you’re deeply interested in Vedanta, and you are doing it by default, every day, on an everyday basis, then it shows it means you have these qualities in some measure. And you can of course, always improve and further increase them. Because without Viveka and vairagya, why at all would you come to spiritual books? Tell me.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and so I guess to wrap it up this point, if you feel inclined to do anything along these lines, read Vedanta great. But you’ll find that your success with it and the benefit you derive from it will grow as you develop these other qualities and so that’s right, yeah. Okay.
Mataji: In fact, if you make a habit of karma yoga, of serving others, a whole lot of these qualities spontaneously come into you.
Rick Archer: Yeah, Swami Sarvapriyananda was telling a story the other night about these monks in a hospital that was run by the Vedanta society. Is the Vedanta society, the umbrella organization, or is that just sort of one thing under a bigger umbrella? What do you call the overall organization?
Mataji: Actually, it’s the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. And the Western centers are called Vedanta Societies.
Rick Archer: I see. Okay, good.
Mataji: We are the women’s monastic group, which is actually administratively independent but ideologically it’s the same. It’s a women’s wing of the Ramakrishna Mission, the Ramakrishna Sarada Mission.
Rick Archer: Yeah, so anyway, these couple of monks were taking care of all these people in this hospital and I guess a lot of people were older monks and on their changing bedpans and doing all this dirty work and, some people were criticizing them and you guys are monks, they were in fact, they called them some derogatory term. I forget what it was because they spent their whole days doing this stuff, which didn’t seem very Vedantic but then they would spend their evenings in samadhi because the Karma Yoga they were doing was so purifying that it would set them up for that.
Mataji: Yeah. Swami Turiyananda ji Maharaj had said this, that just three days you serve selflessly. And I assure you, you will have deep meditation, samadhi-like state; just three days of selfless work.
Rick Archer: And what are the, what do you think are the mechanics of that? Why is that so?
Mataji: That is so because you see, ultimately, it is our sense of individuality or ego that prevents the ultimate plunge into pure consciousness. So, in Karma Yoga, I’m really telling you, it’s the best way to purify yourself. you just keep doing good to others gladdening other minds, without any expectation or anticipation of benefit for yourself. And what will happen by that is this sense of ego, which is falsely identified, will drop by itself. Ultimately, that is the big block, the barrier for self-realization, isn’t it? So that is obliterated, naturally, Karma Yoga.
Rick Archer: And I’ve heard I’ve also, we talked about this earlier, but I’ve heard Karma Yoga defined as being not merely action, but action in a state of yoga. So like that, you know, chapter two verse 48, of the Gita, they’re established in yoga, perform action. So, yeah, so this has a depth to it. It’s not just frenetic service because sometimes people can burn out doing service, that’s a problem with you know, Doctors Without Borders and people who are trying to help in various capacities, they get burned out. So, if you can sort of take recourse to the self throughout you know, on a regular basis, then you have a foundation.
Mataji: Yes, in fact, the extent of your selflessness means that the genuine feeling have not I in the actual act will only come to the extent you are established in the real self. So then that makes you naturally selfless and whatever activity you do naturally becomes Karma Yoga. So that state will naturally lead you into spiritual liberation, isn’t it? Good.
Rick Archer: Question. Another question came in from Canta Dadlani, in Bombay, not everyone is able to master the scriptures as wonderfully as yourself and Swami Sarvapriyananda. Can one still walk the spiritual path without having to learn the scriptures by heart?
Mataji: Yeah, of course. See, I if you have been listening to this interview, from the beginning, I told you that you’re better off. In fact, if you don’t have a whole lot of the burden of a whole lot of thought processes in your mind. If you just know the goal, and you are able to manufacture an uncluttered completely clear, pure state of mind, that will take you closer to the goal than any scriptures. Because finally, it is your awareness that has to come to the forefront I’m again repeating it’s an unfoldment, a transformation of your own consciousness. And nothing can do it for you if you don’t, if it doesn’t happen within yourself by yourself. So it’s okay if you don’t study the scriptures. The only thing which Sri Ramakrishna recommended for spiritual aspirants is a burning desire to know the truth. Well, if you’re a bhakta, you will say a burning desire for God. If you are a yogi type, you will say, to unfold higher awareness; if you’re a jnani type, you will say to know Brahman or whatever you call it — a burning desire to transcend this limited level of existence and go into our original state of pure bliss. If that hankering is there, and the conscious mind is fully, like doing this, able to do this, then that’s enough qualification to go into higher states of samadhi and all that. It’s not mandatory that everybody should know the scriptures. In fact, people ask me, why did you study if you say this, then why at all did you dive into the scriptures or why did you even people ask me, why did you renounce the world? If you say that spiritual life only enhances life, then why did you run away from life? But I’m telling you, we did not run away from life, as you understand it. In fact, to have an over-cluttered wrongly conditioned mind is renunciation, you know, you have renounced the essential bliss of life, to have a pure mind and whatever is required for that to go into that is you can’t say you have gone away from life, you have dived deeper into the real taste of life by giving away the unnecessary things, the wrong attachments, the wrong conditioning, the negativity of life, by keeping a little distance from all that you have gone into the rarefied state of your own being, how can you call that renunciation in fact, Swami Brahmananda ji used to say that people who only indulge in the sensual pleasures they are the renunciates because they have renounced the essential peace and bliss of life. You must know how to live maturely. And that you will know only if you dive into awareness. If you bring your mind into your hands until then you can’t live maturely. You’re just being carried away by different forces. That’s all. And you’re calling that life.
Rick Archer: Let me let’s say you’re outdoors, and it’s windy and rainy and cold. And as you go into the house, it’s not like in the house is nice and warm and dry. You’re not renouncing the outdoors. Really! You’re going towards something which provides greater joy and comfort.
Mataji: Yes. In fact, the people who initially told me that while taking up this kind of life, they are the happiest people today, you know, they are so happy for me. In fact, they tell me that if we had known this kind of a path was there for young women when we were young, we would have definitely taken it.
Rick Archer: Here’s a follow-up question from Mohan Rao in Cookeville, Tennessee, about your analogy of digging the shallow wells or one deep well, whether you dig several shallow wells, or one deep well, are they not related to one’s samskaras and one really has no control? Oh, in other words, he’s saying, won’t your samskaras sort of compel you to either dig a lot of little shallow wells or buckle down and dig one deep one?
Mataji: Yeah, yeah, he’s right, actually, ultimately, no matter how much knowledge you have, your samskaras will dictate your life. Let’s see this. He’s right in what he’s saying. We always give the example of you know, Duryodhana on the battlefield of the Mahabharata war, and when Bheeshma is charging him and saying No, you idiot, it’s due to you that the war is taking place; you don’t know what you’re doing. And you don’t know the difference between dharma and dharma. And Duryodhana says “jana mi dharmam, na cha mein pravritti; jana mi adharmam, nacha mein nivritti”.” I know very well, what is the right thing to do, but I’m not able to do it. That’s my problem. And I know what is adharma, but I can’t desist from it. So this is the problem with the human mind, we may have knowledge enough, but no samskara backup. So when you don’t have a backpack of solid samskaras impressions, which impel you towards right action, no matter how much you know, you will only do the resultant of your net samskaras. In fact, you know how Vivekananda defines character? He says that character is nothing but a bundle of samskaras. He did not relate it with the exact conscious thought process, the knowledge that you have, it’s ultimately the resultant of your samskaras. And if you have not worked on manufacturing, the right samskaras, no matter how much information you collect, you will only go the way your subconscious and unconscious impels you and that can mean you can go anywhere. Unless you have consciously built these building blocks of great character, a pure sattvic life, inner clarity, and a kind of austere life. So all this if it can be brought to the youth and inspiration towards all this, then I think that’s a big way of making change. Because, you know, as Abraham Maslow said, The only way you can change a man is by changing his awareness of himself. So yes, you will only dig as per your samskaras, and not as per the knowledge of geography you have there. Yeah, but the something you just said is the key to it, which is you said building better samskaras or something and so that that implies that we do have some wiggle room, we do have some degree of free will. We might be compelled by samskaras but we’re not all in most cases, the vast majority, we’re not like 100% compelled; there’s some degree of volition. And you know that nursery rhyme I don’t know if you know this in India, but “row, row, row your boat gently down the stream”…. Okay, so the stream is carrying you along and you can’t do much about that. But you can row the boat, and you can sort of steer it this way and that and avoid rocks and things like that. So you have a certain amount of leeway. Yeah, you do. That’s right.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And that that can make all the difference in the world. Use exercising that leeway. And then the more you exercise it the more freedom you gain and the less you know, less a slave you are to the samskaras.
Mataji: That’s right. In fact, Vivekananda always said that you are the makers of your destiny. He didn’t say, well, it’s all done. And you only go by your the blocks in your subconscious. And no, you are the creators of your destiny, at any given moment of time, you have the choice to make the right decision. But why I’m insisting on samskaras is, see, even the act of making a decision. This is there, in one of the books, I think it’s there in the “Science of Happiness”. How many things happen before you make a decision in your own brain? There are a whole lot of processes going on. But I think there’s a talk on determinism and free will, which is on the NRCVEE Channel. So you can go through that talk there, I have given all the scientific analysis for this, that it takes so many processes before you arrive at a decision. And that’s why you must pay attention to samskaras in the early years of life, although yes, that much of a little bit of choice is given to you at any time in your life. If you have the right samskaras you know, your choice will work magically for you.
Rick Archer: Your choices? Yeah, I think it’s important to emphasize that because there are philosophers like Sam Harris and other people who argue that we don’t have free will. And they go into all kinds of details about that. And it’s not people’s practical experience. I mean, most people feel they have some degree of choice. And I think that, you know, we need to, I mean, ultimately, we could say God is doing everything or something like that. But on the level on which we live, you have to sort of live in tune with the reality that you’re in, you know, and not trying to sort of, what is that saying , there’s better as death in one’s own Dharma because one can perform it don’t try to perform the Dharma of another. And it’s up to what’s real for you. Rather than sort of transposing some other higher state and trying to live by that, then you’ll progress.
Mataji: Yes, very true.
Rick Archer: A question came in from Evy Chris in Ohio, which is related to a lot of things we’re saying. She’s talking about, you know, maintaining the peace of the self in the midst of trauma. Can we somehow disentangle our Self (capital S) from the content of experience, and therefore can allow the Self to shine through and experience peace, even though we might be in the midst of traumatic circumstances?
Mataji: Yeah, that’s what essentially yoga is about, to disconnect you from the thought process. But for it to happen as an actual nervous disconnection. It requires practice. It’s not, it won’t happen just like that.
Rick Archer: Right? Like anything, you don’t become an excellent violinist just like that. Whatever.
Mataji: Right? In fact, it requires long practice. And it is possible to keep distant from the body-mind complex, that’s a possibility. So then the trauma doesn’t exactly feel like you are experiencing the trauma. You just know that there are negative energies around you. And but you, you know, your knowledge translates into power, when you have knowledge through yoga. So then you have the ability to change that traumatic situation, also, through your positive energy. Knowledge at this level always translates into power, the ability to change.
Rick Archer: Good. Well, hopefully, Evy, we answered your question. Okay, let’s talk more about happiness. We talked about a little bit in the beginning and you wrote a whole book about it, which I listened to a transcript I listened, I measure books in terms of how long they are. So yours was about eight and a half hours. I turned it into audio. And you had a lot to say about happiness. It’s a great book. We talked about it earlier, and we talked about how most people think happiness is to be found outside them somehow. And yet, ultimately, it’s within there’s a quote from what is it the Upanishads happiness lies in the infinite there is no happiness in the finite.
Mataji: Yeah. Yeah, “na alpe sukham asti bhumaiva sukham,” Chāndogya Upanishad.
Rick Archer: So what would you say to a person who said, Well, you know, I, I am happy when I play tennis. I’m happy when I watch a good movie. I’m happy when I play with my children. Those things all bring me happiness. Well, why are you saying there’s no happiness in the finite?
Mataji: Yeah, I also feel happy when I’m in the Himalayas, I feel happy, when I’m in my room quietly, so, see mental happiness, the happiness we get from whatever objects and ambience and all that, that is to be distinguished from the happiness you get out of pure Being or what we call awareness. That there are two types of happiness, you know, the happiness which your mind can generate, and which objects can generate in your mind. You must have studied that ladder of happiness which I have given in the series, there are different rungs of the ladder, you see. So you have the sense level of happiness, then you have happiness born of thought. And then you have happiness born of intellectual engagement, you have happiness born of service, and then you have the bliss of meditation.
Rick Archer: And isn’t it in the Taittiriya Upanishad, which has that logarithmic scale?
Mataji: Yeah, in a slightly different way they are putting it Yeah, that’s right.
Rick Archer: It’s possible, that the knower Brahman is like, billions of times more happy
Mataji: Yes, that’s right. So if you check it out, and see that, when we talk of happiness, we are usually talking of one of the rungs of this ladder. And what the mistake we make is we try to optimize happiness only along that one rung, we don’t climb the ladder, that’s the whole problem. Only yoga — what yoga is actually trying to do is, it is raising the bar of happiness through awareness, through the influx of higher awareness in the mind. So they will tell you, you must climb the ladder, you can’t try to optimize happiness on the first rung of the ladder and call it great, greater happiness. You can’t do that. Because you will see — you must have heard of the hedonic treadmill. It’s a famous concept in today’s psychology. Yeah, the very nature of the happiness born of sense objects, is that after a certain time, actually, you will feel sick of it. Okay, well, you can try it out and see anybody can, it’s open for experimentation, if you if say, you drink every day for five days, or you party every day, for five days, by the fifth day, you won’t like it. So this is the nature of that level of happiness. So no matter how many objects you collect around you, you cannot maximize happiness in this way. But you can climb the next rung of the ladder, which means you try to develop thought and emotion to such a level, that that gives you greater happiness than mere objects. At the sense level. Creative thinking, creative writing, you know, if you write a poem, you just suddenly feel so happy. And deep level intellectual engagement in some, even if it’s a mathematical problem, or a game of chess, or in anything that interests you. You see, it’s a higher level of happiness. After the experience, you realize that the mind was so steady and you enjoy so much more happiness.
Rick Archer: When the State of Israel was founded, they tried to recruit Albert Einstein to become President.
Mataji: Yeah, I always give that example.
Rick Archer: Oh, yeah, you tell the story. Yeah, they wanted him to be president.
Mataji: Yeah. And you see, what he said that Presidentship can come and go. But an equation is forever. So I would rather invest in knowledge and in intellectual engagement than in ruling a country. See, this is what I’m saying, you can raise the bar of happiness through awareness, higher and higher happiness is possible for you. But if you want to only maximize along one rung, you will go into depression. This is what the modern youth forces actually deluded with, you know, they feel that excitability mode and drinks and drugs and all these things will get give them greater happiness, the more they collect it around themselves, the happier they will be. Now check out and see for yourself, they will only put you in the hedonic treadmill. That is the current theory of pleasure. And even positive psychology, in fact, you know, initially they gave you a Martin Seligman gave you the equation H is equal which is equal to P plus E plus M, where P is pleasure, E is engagement, M is meaning. Happiness constitutes this, he said, but later he modified the equation. He said, No, it’s called perma. The new theory. It says that it’s not to do with pleasure because pleasure gives very little happiness. Beyond a certain point, it actually causes revulsion. But positive thinking and positive feelings give you genuine happiness. So perma theory says it is positive emotion, and engagement are is good relationships, M is meaning and A’s achievement. These are the factors for happiness. I built further on this theory by saying that awareness in the mind gives happiness, ultimately, which is a characteristic Upanishadic idea.
Rick Archer: I was a student of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for many years, and he said some interesting things about happiness. One was that the expansion of happiness is the very purpose of creation. So that was a good one. And then there are also the everyone’s mind from the amoeba to human being, has a natural tendency to seek a field of greater happiness. And that’s, I kind of hooked those two together. You know, I think that, that it’s that fundamental drive and creation itself in the universe itself to expand happiness that manifests in us as a natural tendency to seek a field of greater happiness. But as you’ve been saying, you know, we get limited returns on trying to find it in sensory pleasures.
Mataji: Marginal return. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Some people say that the happiness we derive from external experiences, is actually a reflection of the inner happiness, the way the light of the moon is a reflection of the sunlight. You think that’s true?
Mataji: Not that I think that’s true. That’s true because you see, what is actually if you study the epistemology, you will see that what exactly is happening is that the gladness produced in your mind due to an object — It was generated. See, it is this much we can understand that happiness here was a state of my mind. Maybe it’s stimulated by that object. But Vedanta adds something more to this, what it says is somewhere, you touched the essence of your being, you touched awareness. And you superimpose the joy you got out of that on the object, your mind, you see it because it’s tinged with Maya, it produces this delusive effect, it will tell you start giving credit to the object, actually, what happened was your mind somehow, due to the stimulation due to whatever reason it plunged within and touched the core of your being. So there was a spot of joy.
Rick Archer: So are you saying that let’s say when you get a new car, somehow that acquisition is a catalyst for a momentary glimpse of the inner being? Yes.
Mataji: Because your identity was deeply involved with the car, it’s your car. And your sense of ‘I’ there, somehow, it sort of, you can say your mind reflected more of the light of pure awareness so your mind gladdened, but you superimposed the entire experience on the car and gave credit to the car alone. That’s the Vedantic understanding,
Rick Archer: And then of course, we know that happiness derived from those things doesn’t last at least not the initial degree of happiness that we get the day we drive it off the car lot. So, explain again, the mechanics of why that the satisfaction diminishes.
Mataji: See, now if you suddenly realized that that car was well, it, it belongs to your son, not to you. Okay, suppose you suddenly realize that … what will happen to the happiness in your mind, what I told you was your identity somehow generated the happiness because you started feeling this is my car. Now your identity does all these things, you know, ultimately whatever mental happiness you experience, it’s a reflection. It’s a shadow of that pure consciousness in a fairly clear state of mind. That’s why it’s feeling happy, but you managed to superimpose it on the object. Now, any object, any object can produce happiness to you. Why is it that after a continuous period of enjoyment with that object, then you are no longer happy with it, because happiness was inherent in your mind, somehow it leaked into that, that portion of your mind which gladdened you due to the presence of that object, but it was not dependent on the object because after five days, the object will no longer make you happy. So it was a state of your mind somehow generated by the self, but the mechanism can only be understood in a state close to samadhi. How the mind becomes happy, and it is not due to the object. This is the delusive effect of Maya, that it makes you believe. Because it superimposes, it makes you believe the object made me happy. It was an opening of your own mind to your own being, you discover it by yourself. Because no matter how much theory I tell you, I told you experience is in the first person always, you must get it by yourself.
Rick Archer: You know, if it’s true that it’s our natural tendency to seek greater happiness, it’s obvious how external experiences are not going to satisfy that. Because, you know, you just can’t keep buying new cars or, you know, having new partners or, you know, eating more food. I mean, there’s, there’s a limit to what you can do in the external world. But there’s no limit to the clarity and fullness with which inner consciousness can be appreciated. And so that alone can really gratify that. And because the happiness inherent in that is infinite, where the happiness in a car or whatever could never be infinite, that can really gratify or fulfill that natural tendency.
Mataji: Yeah, I think we get a very good understanding when we see the lives of realized masters like Sri Ramakrishna, for instance, all the people who had seen him, and usually he was in the state of Samadhi. As you know, all the three pictures of Sri Ramakrishna have him in Samadhi. And you know, how they have described him? One disciple actually describes him as his face appeared like a cracked melon, it was just radiating so much of joy and bliss, that it stunned their minds. And when Sri Ramakrishna would be in bhava samadhi, everyone around him felt something of that bhava.
Rick Archer: Bhava, explain what bhava means.
Mataji: Bhava means a very intense state of …you can’t even call it elevated emotion. It’s a transcendental state of emotional energy, which a person who has reached that state of Samadhi, attains. So it’s a Samadhi, produced by intense thought, by intense emotion, you can say that there is so much more, it’s not just emotion. The word ‘bhava’ has no English equivalent, unfortunately. But in that state Sri Ramakrishna would radiate such an amount of energy and joy, happiness, that all around him, it became like a mad mob, you know, they all would get infected by that joy, and get something of it, and start laughing, feeling ecstatic and dancing and all that. And people who saw this from outside, they would feel what is this going on in this room? Have they drunk too much? They would feel like that. And once somebody asked Sri Ramakrishna that, what exactly do you feel in Samadhi? And he said, Well, would you understand if I say, if a fish is suddenly released from a small pot into the ocean? How would it feel that kind of splashing liberating joy of feeling Samadhi?
Rick Archer: Do you think that somebody like him? I can’t imagine that when he went into samadhi, he was coming out of an ordinary state to begin with the kind that the average person experiences. He must have already been in a very blissful profound state. It’s just that. You know, he went into it. Well, you explain what’s the difference?
Mataji: See, Sri Ramakrishna’s state of normal consciousness was far from ordinary. Otherwise, how do you think a person would go into a state of Samadhi just like that, at the least suggestion, he would go plunge into that state. And I can tell you this that initially people who saw Sri Ramakrishna and his divine ecstatic state could not understand it for some time at least, and those who understood it, well, they actually felt that radiance on themselves. And there are so many such experiences, with Sri Ramakrishna in fact, have you read the literature about him?
Rick Archer: Some but not exhaustively.
Mataji: I think you should read the literature brought out by Swami Chetananda ji, “Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play”. And please see every incident there. It’s beautifully described and just concentrate on one paragraph and you will get a picture of the Master’s mind something divine and far from ordinary that’s pretty obvious.
Rick Archer: He was considered to be an Avatara right?
Mataji: Yes, he lived in God-consciousness. See, we don’t exactly understand what the avatara’s consciousness is like, but you can know it by the manifestation, you know by the kind of peace and bliss he radiated. And the people around him actually felt that you know, this is the litmus test of realization that you catch something of it in that presence. Like the Buddha, for example, wherever he walked, for a radius of about two miles, people could know the Buddha was around by the peace they felt.
Rick Archer: Yeah, there was a saying… Well, there’s a verse in the Yoga Sutras about peace in the radius of the realized being, right? Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s master who was Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, he was Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math. When he was doing tapas in the forest, it was said that the animals wouldn’t fight with each other within about a two-mile radius of him.
Rick Archer: I have another question about happiness. I wrote this one out because it’s a little bit long. It’s about distinguishing bliss from happiness. We haven’t really talked about the Kosha model, but you can elaborate on that a bit if you’d like. But the Anandamaya Kosha means it’s a blissful sheath. But it’s still a sheath. And it includes the word Maya, Anandamaya Kosha. And so as nice as it is, it’s still a layer of ignorance, I guess. And therefore, would it be something which it would be something which changes I presume, and that which changes can’t bring ultimate or lasting happiness? So, when you speak of happiness, are you alluding to that which lies beyond that sheath?
Mataji: Yeah, the Ultimate Bliss of course, is described as belonging to the Self not to the anandamaya kosha. Here the ‘mayi’ or ‘maya’ is not the ‘maya’ of Vedanta. It is that sheath which is suffused with Ananda or joy, because it is closest to the Atman; it is a causal body. Anandamaya kosha is the causal body and the rest, vijnanamaya kosha, manomaya kosha, all these come under the subtle body. So because it is closest to the Atman, it radiates a lot of the light of the Atman, which is bliss. So that’s why it’s called anandamaya kosha.
Rick Archer: good in itself is not intrinsically blissful, but it’s so close, like something that’s next to a hot fire gets heated up, it’s close to the Self, I see. Okay, good.
Mataji: Something like that. So what they are trying to say is that awareness percolates into your system. And, to the extent that these sheaths or koshas, are pure and transparent, the more awareness will percolate into the system. Evidence includes bliss, I told you, it’s synonymous with happiness and existence. They mean, it’s the same thing, they are not three qualities of the Atman it’s the same thing. You must understand it through the practice. That’s why I’m saying — not intellectually, and then you understand is the same thing. So to the extent these koshas are transparent, for enough that much of light would stream into them. We actually see this in a spiritual master, I can tell you this, even a great sadhak that you can actually see it in his physical frame, the light he exudes.
Rick Archer: Since we mentioned this, how do you explain the panchakosha model for a minute, just so we can get out as much knowledge as possible.
Mataji: The panchakosha model is a way of understanding the human personality paradigm according to that. Vedanta. So it includes the outermost sheath the annamaya kosha, which is the body. So you see it’s the only the external crust of your personality. And then beyond that is the pranamaya kosha, the vital energy sheath. Then there’s the manomaya kosha the mind then there’s the vijnanamaya kosha which is the sheath of your intellect and will and finally the anandamaya kosha which is the final sheath which covers the Atman you can say, but the actual core of your beingness the Atman it is the real you and you as it were manifest through these five sheaths, but you must remember this that traditionally In Vedanta, the annamaya kosha is the body; we call it the body. The pranamaya kosha, manomaya kosha, and vijnanamaya kosha, together are called the subtle body. And then the anandamaya kosha is the causal body. So you actually wear three bodies, not one. And as if three bodies are not enough, we have made a dress kosha also with our dress, with all the things we use to cover the body, as if this identification is not enough, we are identified with a whole lot of things outside annamaya kosha also. So we are trying to enhance our sense of personality through all this, but Vedanta will clearly tell you that you have to crack this personality paradigm, the panchakosha in order to know the Self, which means, the panchakosha Vichara has to be followed; try to understand why you are not this body, why you are not the vital energy sheath, why you are not the mind. I think you have already seen it in some of the Vedanta lectures, the panchakosha, the Brighu Valli is about this, cracking this panchakosha model, which means finding your way to the Self by analyzing these five sheaths and seeing that you are not identified with them by default, but by choice, check this out and see for yourself.
Rick Archer: Interesting. I mean, obviously, there’s 8 billion or so people in the world, most of whom don’t even know that there are all these sheaths, and yet who are identified with them. And if it’s if they’re identified by choice, that kind of implies that they could, if we tell them about this, they could say okay, I choose not to be identified, but obviously, it’s not as simple as that. So, what do you mean there?
Mataji: No, what I mean by that is see, why I say by choice, see, your body does not come and say ‘I’, does it? But you say I am the body right? What does this mean? See, this is Vedanta Vichara. Nothing in your body has self-awareness. You see all of your cells are conscious, they are doing their own thing they are like a machine, they are manufacturing what they have to, but they are not self-aware, you are aware of the body the body is not aware of you. What does this mean? This means you are wearing the body, you are not the body. Self-awareness belongs to the subject, the supreme subject, and not to the body. You know, I always give this example to my students that suppose you have a stomach ache an external instrument like a CT scan or ultrasound has to tell you what is the problem and where; you can’t pinpoint the problem. That unaware are you have the body. You are not even conscious of the body until you are made conscious of it. And yet, you say I am the body. This is the mistake. The body is yours definitely. But you are not the body because the body never claims an ‘I’. Yet you say, “I am the body.” There is an ‘I’ apart from the body. Please see this: Ramana Maharshi would say you see your existence is evident with or without body with or without mind. You must feel the truth of this in your own experience. Same thing with our thoughts, and with our minds. I am aware of my thoughts. That’s why I have memories. But my thoughts are not aware of me they don’t have self-awareness. These are objective experiences for me. The subject is always apart from them. So this is the panchakosha vichar, like this you can go till the anandamaya kosha. Everything is an object of your perception. Everything is changing in your perception. Everything is unidentified with you and yet you claim an ‘I’ over it although it is yours and it is not you. You say, “I am this”. This is the problem. Now the truth of this can only be experienced through Vedanta, only when it comes to the Self, the pure being. You need not claim anything there. You are just that all the time. That is not yours. It is you; awareness is not yours. Please see, as the ultimate analysis, you cannot say my awareness. Pure awareness is you. The rest is yours. So this is panchakosha vichar, it will tell you, it will show you clearly that you are wearing these five sheaths you are not the five sheaths; you are the Self, which dons these and manifests as a human personality. But if you identify only with this, you will lead a very limited life of body consciousness, mind consciousness and that’s all. That’s why I told you you are identified by choice and not by default.
Rick Archer: I’ve heard you say that when we die, really all that happens is the annamaya kosha dies, the body, the gross the physical, meat puppet dies…
Mataji: But the rest of you is carried on
Rick Archer: Yeah. Right. So that’s what reincarnates or goes to some Loka or whatever happens,
Rick Archer: Yeah. And that’s what people experience. That’s why I occasionally will interview someone who’s had a near-death experience, for instance, or an out-of-body experience. Because it’s a practical demonstration of that fact.
Mataji: That’s right. That’s right.
Rick Archer: There are many, many, so many stories. I mean, I interviewed one lady who, when she was a little child, fell into a tank of water and was drowning, and she left her body. And she saw the nanny in the house watching soap operas. And so she’s thought I’m not gonna get any help there. And so she went down the street and found her mother waiting at the bus stop to go to work. And she in her subtle body, said, “Hi, mom”. And her mom dropped whatever she was doing, ran back straight to the tank, not into the house, but straight to the tank, pulled her out, and resuscitated her. Yeah. So that kind of thing. You know, those who think that we’re only the body and that consciousness or that there’s nothing subtler or more independent. Those kinds of things demonstrate that there are.
Mataji: Yeah, exactly.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Before we run out of time, this is something that bugs me, which I’ve heard you say I’ve heard Ramana say it, many people say it, which is and I put it in my notes that you’ve seen, and that is that. This thing about experiencing the absence of objects during sleep, when I wake up in the morning, you know, I feel I feel I slept well not because I remember having slept necessarily, but because I feel so relaxed and rested, I must have slept well, I make that inference. Although the sometimes I actually do this thing where I wake up. And I think to myself, Okay, stop being so lazy, get out of bed, you’re awake. I have this feeling like I’ve been lying there awake for a long time. But then I realized when I just woke up, I’ve been sleeping. And there was a sort of awareness somehow that I was awake, even though I was asleep. And this can get much more clear. I have friends, some of whom I’ve interviewed on the show who, you know, joke that they haven’t slept in decades. And of course, their bodies have, but inner awareness has never been clouded for a long, long time. So, but the question, put this down into a question, do we really remember the fact that we feel we’ve slept well, is that really a proof that there was some awareness during sleep? Or can’t that just be deduced from how refreshed we feel when we wake up?
Mataji: Yeah, this point has been, there’s been a lot of discussion on this point because this was the main point of opposition between the Naiyayikas (logicians) and the Advaita Vedantists. How do you say that you experienced the absence and objective encounters in deep sleep, When, according to the Naiyayikas, it was an inference you’re drawing after you get up. According to the Advaitins, they say, No, it was an experience of absence, because the mind was shut down and you record experience only through the mind. When the mind gets shut down. You don’t have a normal experience. But since you say you had a restful, peaceful, happy sleep, state of sleep, who recorded that experience? Who felt it?
Rick Archer: But maybe you’re just feeling it when you woke up? Because it feels so good?
Mataji: No, but then how you would have said something like this, you know, you would have said that I slept, and I got up. You wouldn’t have said I had a restful, peaceful sleep which substantially rejuvenated my energies and renewed my mind. You wouldn’t say all this, you were there to detect the absence of objects. You were there to feel a deep restfulness that’s why it was an experience of absence. This is the kind of conclusion they draw. You know, the only way to study this, the way the Mandukya Upanishad is putting it, is to develop pockets of awareness in deep sleep. As you say, some of your friends have been doing that. A yogic state of mind will help you see the state of sushupti, deep sleep, also objectively. So, it is important that is why I say to understand Vedanta while being is established in yoga. If you don’t have this yogic awareness within you, you will not understand, you will not feel or be able to objectively study sushupti. If Mandukya Upanishad draws a statement like this, what does it matter to you unless you have felt the truth yourself? That is why I say pockets of awareness, deep level awareness, once you generate them in the meditative state… you know the effect of meditation lasts beyond meditation hours; your awareness will remain uncontaminated by all the experiences of your life and you will develop pockets of awareness even in deep sleep. So then you will understand that you have experienced absence.
Rick Archer: I mean, some of these people I’m referring to, it’s been a continuum now. In fact, some spiritual teachers hold that as a litmus test for real awakening, you know that if you’re losing your awareness during deep sleep, then you are not there yet.
Mataji: Let me tell you that jnani standpoint, you know, from the jnani standpoint, there are only two states not such four states of experience, which we usually say — the jagrat, Swapna, sushupti, and turiya …he reduces them two. He says there is one state of complete awakening and one state of dream. And all your jagrat, Swapna, and sushupti are different durations of the dream state. From the jnani’s standpoint, from Ramana Maharshi’s standpoint, for instance,
Rick Archer: I think Shankara called ignorance the long dream.
Mataji: Yeah, and even in talks with Ramana Maharshi or Nisargadatta Maharaj, you will find this, they consider all, the jagrat, Swapna, and sushupti, that is the waking, dreaming, and deep sleep — It’s only a dream of different durations, and only the state of realization is the really awakened state. Or you can say the really jagrat state. And so there are only two states according to them. Because those who have not in a state of realization will consider the jagrat state to be the awakened state, isn’t it? The state of arousal. So you must increase your awareness. That’s the only way in order to solve this problem. There’s no other way.
Rick Archer: Good. We’re going a little long today. Because this is such a… I consider this to be a wonderful privilege and opportunity to have this talk with you. I think there might, I mean a few more questions to come over. But I have another one for you, which I’ve wondered about for years, I heard that Sri Ramakrishna pursued the paths of Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, and in each case, arrived at the goal of each path. But that always puzzled me because he was already at the goal of all those paths. So how did he go through the path again, if he was already at the goal,
Mataji: see, his life was a demonstration of certain very important ideas, which are required for, you know, evolving humanity. It was a demonstration, obviously, he was in an awakened state of consciousness. So it was it must have been easy for him to awaken to the truth of all religions, but he came to show that every path is valid. Every religion is valid, everything is very good means to the ultimate state of God-realization. And nothing can be discounted, in fact, his famous statement, “jato mat, tato pat” but actually, ‘mat’ means not even faith, it means opinions. So as many opinions that many paths he says. Isn’t this fantastic in today’s world? You know, even to know this, that, as many faiths, that many paths and in a very much more practical way, he put this by saying that every man has a religion in his own soul. And when you actually take to spirituality or spiritual practice, that part is uncovered for you the way you will realize the supreme truth. And every such path is valid. It’s the sanction is in your own soul. So then, what are we quarreling about is something that I don’t understand. I don’t understand the fundamentalist philosophy, you know.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I me neither. I try to take God’s eye view of things. And it’s a big universe. In fact, on occasion, I’ve been confronted by fundamentalists and I start talking astronomy with them, you know, and try to give them an idea of how many inhabited planets there must be in the universe and you know, so is Jesus on tour or what? if he’s the only Savior? Here’s a question that came in from Ravi Dadlani. Must be Canta Dadlani’s husband or something. He’s in the UAE… In a Chapter of the Panchadasi, I think chapter 13 of 14, the emphasis is on how we can use everyday pleasure and or happiness as a portal to Atman is this a legitimate method?
Mataji: Everyday experiences of pain and pleasure…
Rick Archer: pleasure, happiness. Yeah, everyday pleasure. I mean, I suppose we could take eating a good meal, watching a good TV show could those be portals to Atman?
Mataji: They cannot be portals to self-knowledge, because they will keep your mind deeply engaged in the experience and will not allow it to transcend itself. But they will offer your clues like, where is this happiness coming from? Is it coming from that TV show or this meal? Or is it coming from a deeper source? They can lead you to this inquiry. But don’t think they are portals to transcending mind, because your mind will be carried away at that instant it will be carried away by the particular event. That is why you are engaging in it. So see, by the very definition of yoga, why does it say “Chitta Vritti nirodh”? Why on earth should it say that? Why would you want to put down thought which is, you know, the culmination of human evolution, your thought process? Why is it asking you to do that, so that you will get away from this conditioned mind so that you will enter into awareness and from there you view your thought process, or you think anything you want? But as long as you’re mingled with the thought process, you will not be able to realize the Self.
Rick Archer: I can think of one example a couple types of examples. For instance, one time I watched Brother Sun Sister Moon, which is a film about the life of St. Francis. And I just felt so expanded and elated from sitting there, I could barely, I had to sit for a while afterward, I couldn’t get up. Or another time I put on headphones listening to Beethoven’s Sixth, Fifth Symphony. And I remember I just went into such a deep state, it was like as good as any meditation. So I think sometimes,
Mataji: yeah, really. That’s the life, the life of Francis, or the life of St. Clair, or a piece of music like this, this can definitely put you into a very elevated level of consciousness because it has risen from there. And not everything will give you the capacity to do this.
Rick Archer: I remember hearing stories of Ramana or Sri Ramakrishna that he would hear some, some noise in the distance or something and it would put him into Samadhi.
Mataji: Yeah, no, say in his case, because his consciousness was, like, completely awakened. The least suggestions would put him into the state of God-consciousness. Well, in our case, we really need to cultivate the mind first, isn’t it? It’s pretty obvious. See Sri Ramakrishna would ask for some sweet meat in order to come out of his state of Samadhi into the normal state of consciousness, because his mind was used to that superconscious state, he would struggle to bring it down. Our struggle is just the opposite we are struggling to lift it up. So then to a certain extent, you must put down that which attracts the senses, that which engages the mind, in order to transcend this level. Whether you call it renunciation, you call it your whatever you call it, you must fundamentally understand the existential need to have a completely uncluttered mind, then sadhana becomes natural to you. Otherwise, you know, it’s enforced something, oh, why should I make my mind thought-free? Okay, don’t make it thought-free if you don’t want to nobody’s like insisting on that. But if you want to be a yogi, then you will understand the existential need of your mind to do this, then you will obviously do it, you can stall the mind, you can’t completely declutter it for a long time. So that’s why the practice is important. Stick to the practice.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And I should add that through regular practice, the mind attains a condition of unclutteredness all the time. I mean, you know, usually, it’s like, when I was a kid, that was like, I had five radio stations playing in my head all the time, just so much chaos. But you know, now the mind seems to be still; there is some degree of agitation, but a lot of times just very settled and, and, you know, things come up if they need to, but otherwise, there’s not a lot of extraneous clutter.
Mataji: That’s right. That’s right. That’s how it should be, isn’t it so that our peace is peaceful by our own nature? Yeah.
Rick Archer: And It’s a very efficient way of functioning because you burn a lot of energy with all this agitation going on. But if everything is settled, the physiology is settled to even if you’re physically active, that is a state of repose within that conserves energy. So you have more energy to channel into useful things. That’s right. All of our questions today are from Indians. Here’s one from Kavita Vishwanathan in Dallas, Texas. Could you speak about the state where the yogic practitioner has not found firm spiritual ground? (Alabhda-Bhoomikatdva) That’s the question.
Mataji: Yes, see not finding firm ground only means you have not completely separated from the thought process, according to yogic parlance, because I told you the foundation of your thought is awareness, if you step completely into that awareness, you can see the mind objectively but for this to happen, somewhere that separation should have taken place, isn’t it? Now, why doesn’t it take place is only because of our interest in the thought process. It keeps us subtly engaged with the thought process; is connected to it. So, that is why Vairagya. Vairagya is not running away from things and family and the duties and responsibilities, it is actually keeping your thought process at bay that is vairagya, when you know how to handle thought, how much to invest in the thought, then you are a true Vairagin or a true renunciate, I would say because actually, what will you renounce your body depends on this existence for its own sustenance. Your mind depends on this, the subtle world for it sustenance. Where are you renouncing? All you can do is by renunciation, what is meant is your ability to objectively see the body-mind complex. And this ability lies deep within you. Yoga is the means to bring it out. And if you don’t attend to it, well, don’t worry too much about the end result. I will tell you this, because you know, if you follow the method properly, suppose you don’t get the end result in the say the next one decade. You will get it after that. If you don’t get it in this lifetime, you will get in the next lifetime. But you have generated created the building blocks required for the yogic life. So no effort is wasted. This is there in the Bhagavad Gita in a big way. So your effort is carried on over lifetimes. And it’s not easy to do this. And especially in today’s modern lifestyle, where we are taught to be in the excitability mode, right from childhood, it is difficult to stop the thought process just like that but try it and you will see it has innumerable blessings to your life.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that verse of the Gita, no effort is lost and also no obstacle exists, which is a good one, which means that really, there is no obstacle which cannot be overcome.
Mataji: Yes. Initially, I think what we should try out is to generate the yogic samskaras required for continued intense yogic life, this is very important. See, the difference between a yoga bhrashta and a jivan mukta lies in this, if you have enough samskaras for the higher life, you will magically reach there. Otherwise, you will become a yoga bhrashta, which means you couldn’t find the truth in this life. And you just strove for it. And then you continue again in the next life. Which is also in the Gita. This is also in the Gita.
Rick Archer: So, you, you basically you pick up where you left off?
Mataji: Exactly. So you employ this karma, yoga, sattvic life, good habits, good tendencies to generate good samskaras, good exposures, most of all, because today, we have a wide range of exposures falling on us all the time. So, regulate a little of all this and you will see you will have this natural tendency towards a very intense inner life, naturally.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And when you say just stopped the mind, as he said a few minutes ago, that could be discouraging to people but you know, obviously, one should seek out good instruction. And, and as Jesus said, you know, seek and you shall find if you have the sincere desire for what we’re talking about here, opportunities will present themselves and yes, but you know, you’re not just telling people to listen to this interview, sit down and stop their mind.
Mataji: No, I see what I mean to say when I say that is your awareness should come to the forefront and your engagement with the thought process, which many times is erotic, should go at least to the background, if not vanish. This state is so magical and so powerful. When you are intensely aware without a deflecting thought process; this state is so powerful that you can achieve anything through the state. That’s why I keep saying stop mind. What I meant to say is I don’t mean to stop your life. I don’t mean to say that at all, I mean to say, become more aware than identified.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And it’s not an overnight process, but just move and keep moving in that direction. Yes. Question from Shri Ram Ganesh in India. Is there some guidance on finding our guru?
Mataji: Well, Guru is very important, and you must find your guru. Because all these New Age people who keep saying, Well, no need of Guru they don’t know what they’re saying. Because, you know, one powerful mind can, you know, all the struggle you can put up for decades or lifetimes maybe the guru can pull you through all that struggle. Just one powerful mind. And you must go into the physical presence of your guru. That’s why you must find one. And don’t listen to all this that Guru is not required and all that, in fact, the guru Shakti — if you intensely want the guru Shakti to come into your life, you will find your guru, because his mind also is just waiting to give.
Rick Archer: Unfortunately, there have been some so-called gurus who have misbehaved and have given gurus a bad name and disillusioned people, but there are still some good ones out there. Yeah. That’s why I brought up this whole ethics thing and beginning it really bothers me when people abuse the trust,
Mataji: the fundamental thing to understand and spiritual about spiritual life is without purity, you can’t go anywhere. Your mind will not remain in that clarified state where awareness will blossom if there is no inner-outer purity. That’s why we always insist on this. Even if you are a householder or regulated life where you have not compromised on your essential vitality. You don’t waste your vital energies on unnecessary thought and emotion. This is mandatory. A clean life is the best way to progress spiritually. yeah. Oh, I’m sorry. Go ahead. Do you say more though? No, it’s pretty obvious to the practitioner. Yeah. What I’m saying Yeah.
Rick Archer: Question from Tammy Budesa in Mount Shasta, California, I’m having surgery soon. And I’m wondering where does the witness consciousness go during general anesthesia? Since I am not conscious during anesthesia? Does it not have anything to witness which is a very good thing? She says she doesn’t want to witness surgery?
Mataji: No, the thing is, for most people, witness consciousness and mind there has been no conscious separation of these two. That’s why questions like these rise. See, let me put a counter-question to you that suppose you now you know, the visible universe only. The Hubble Space Telescope, suppose there was no Hubble Space Telescope up there? Would you see the visible universe, you wouldn’t be able to? Because the instrument for seeing that was the Space Telescope up there. So also your mind is giving you your experience of life when the mind is shut down, you may not experience life, but are you absent? Is the experiencer absent when the mind shuts down. You may not see experiences like in your state of coma. Actually what the medication during surgeries does, is it disconnects your brain and neuronal activity. Because it’s an experience of pain. it disconnects you from that. But I’m telling you who is the experiencer of this disconnection? You are always there, whether the Hubble Space Telescope is revealing the universe or not revealing it. The only thing is you use the mind always to have a concept of yourself. Now that mind is absent so you don’t have a concept of yourself. So you imagine you are absent. Please try to see what I’m trying to say.
Rick Archer: On this point. I had a friend who has since passed away but who was one of these people that was maintaining pure awareness during sleep all the time, and that was kind of normal. But she said that when she had surgery, she lost it. And that surprised her because she was used to having it be there all the time during deep sleep but not during general anesthesia.
Mataji: See, general anesthesia puts you into a very deep sleep. Yeah. So she can lose awareness at that time. But what I’m saying is here again we are when I’m using the word awareness here, it doesn’t mean the Atman it means the reflected awareness in your mind, since the whole mind is getting shut down that awareness also is lost. But are you lost is what I’m asking.
Rick Archer: Right? Although we know that even if you die, you’re not lost. So obviously during surgery is like that it’s that know that to be indeed indestructible, by which all this is pervaded.
Mataji: Yoga works at bringing your unconscious and subconscious to the conscious level. Yoga essentially practiced will do that. So, the intensity of your mental awareness will be very great through the practice of yoga. So, it creates pockets of awareness even in states of deep sleep, in states of coma, all this it can do that. And to the extent a yogi achieves this awareness to the extent he becomes more and more deeply conscious of things, and he realizes that he is never absent the instrument through which he is percept perceiving can be put down, which is what all this medication or coma or deep sleep and all this, this is what happens in those times. But that is not loss of consciousness, essentially. I have seen this in some elderly people who have Alzheimer’s and, you know, they may appear like they are in a completely vegetative state, but you don’t know, subjectively they are experiencing something, they are not able to articulate it or manifested in any way. But the subject is very much there.
Rick Archer: You know, there’s an interesting thing called end-stage lucidity, I believe it’s called, where someone who has been in a coma for a long time, perhaps with Alzheimer’s, they all of a sudden, they sit up in bed, have a coherent, even if the brain is quite deteriorated, have a quite coherent conversation with the people in the room, and then lie back and die.
Mataji: Look at that. That’s what I’m saying.
Rick Archer: Interesting. Okay, here’s one question. Probably our final question, this is from Mohan Rao, he asked one earlier, can you please comment on the concept of worship or praising God? If I am Atman, who is part of Brahman, then why should I worship and praise myself? Even having gratitude to myself may not make sense from this perspective?
Mataji: Yes, but as long as it’s only a perspective and not a realization, you must continue to praise God because until it becomes a realization, that I am Brahman, and I remain in the state of pure consciousness, always. You must understand that when you worship God, you are only worshipping the true self, the higher self, as long as you are not realized that you must continue to perform that worship, and not engage in, you know, people, one of our great Maharaj used to say this, a great monk of the Ramakrishna order. He used to say this, that people apply jnana to God, and they apply bhakti to themselves, which is wrong, isn’t it? You must apply the philosophical inquiry to yourself and devotion to God. So don’t confuse these two, as long as we have not realized our true self as being Brahman, you must continue to worship God, whether it is the personal God or the Vishisht Advaitic, the concept of God, whatever works, but your adoration for the higher reality should always be part of your mind and practice. And don’t compromise on these things. Just because there is some idea of Advaita Vedanta in your head. You know, as long as it’s an idea, it’s not true. It becomes true only when it’s a realized something in your, your entire system has become like that. It’s a complete realization in itself. So until it’s only an idea, it’s a cloud, in your mind, it will be blown away by another cloud after some time. So please continue to worship God.
Rick Archer: Even after Brahman has realized. Here’s a quote from Narahari, who was a post-Shankara Advaita Master, he said, “Duality is delusive before Enlightenment. But post-Enlightenment, duality imagined for the sake of devotion is more beautiful than non-duality.
Mataji: Yes. That’s so beautiful. That’s a good one. That’s right.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay, so let’s wrap it up. So, I mentioned earlier that there’s a there’s a YouTube channel with lots of your talks on it. I’ll provide a link to that. What other things you’re doing, that people around the world can plug into do any webinars or anything else or should they just listen to your talks on YouTube?
Mataji: We have a weekly live stream class on the Upanishad. Which I have a well just No, I’m not doing it. But I will. We have we had been discussing Mundaka Upanishad, and we already had five sessions done. Actually, all the Upanishads are being discussed every Sunday. But now since I’m in the Himalayas, I don’t want to go into discussion I would rather want to meditate more. So I have stopped the classes. And they will restart in July. So anybody can connect to the live stream.
Rick Archer: How can they find out about that? Can you send me information that I can put on your page?
Mataji: Yes, I do that. Okay.
Rick Archer: Good. And the books I mentioned, in the beginning, are those I didn’t find them on Amazon. Are they there? How can people get those books?
Mataji: Yeah, they are on Amazon India. Actually. They are not on Amazon global yet. You can get the books through the Sarada Mahila Samiti there which is run by Mary Tamraz. I don’t know if you know her.
Rick Archer: Send me a link to that also and I’ll be on your BatGap page if it so people can get those books. Okay, how would you like to end this with a nice little chant?
Mataji: Well, which one would you like? Purnamidam?
Rick Archer: sure that one
Mataji: Om, purnamadah, purnamidam, purnaat purnamudachyate, purnasya, purnaam adaya, purnam eva avishshyate. Shanti. Shanti. Shanti.
Rick Archer: Thank you, Mataji, it’s really been a joy spending time with you. And especially since we dragged you out of meditation to do this.
Mataji: Don’t say that. Let me end with a very beautiful quote of Ramana Maharshi. Because you like him so much. He says there is no mistaking consciousness when it is pure. Let’s remember this.
Rick Archer: Nice. All right, thank you so much. And thank you to everyone who has been listening or watching. And if you haven’t been to the BatGap website, go there and explore the menus. And you’ll see some interesting things. And including a schedule of who we’ve got scheduled for the upcoming weeks. So we’ll be in touch. Let’s do this again. One of these days.
Mataji: Maybe when I’m out of the Himalayas.
Rick Archer: When you’re back in civilization, yeah.
Mataji: Thank you so much.
Rick Archer: Take care.