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23 November, 2008


Recorded by Paul Brunton and
Munagala Venkataramiah

Question: We grieve when a person whom we love dies. Shall we avoid such grief by either loving all alike or by not loving at all?

Answer: If one person dies there is grief for the other person who still lives. The way to get rid of grief is not to live. Kill the one who grieves. Who will then remain to suffer? The ego must die. That is the only way. The two alternatives amount to the same state. When all is the Self, who is there to be loved or hated?
There is a class of people who want to know all about the future and past births, but they ignore the present. The load from the past is the present misery. Why recall the past, it is a waste of time.
The Self is the electric dynamo, the mind is the contact switchboard, while the body is the lamp. When the karma hour comes to give death, the mind switches off the current and withdraws the light-life from the body. Both mind and vitality are manifestations of the supreme life force, the Self.

Question: What happens to an individual after death?

Answer: Engage yourself in the living present. The future will take care of itself. Do not worry about the future. The state before creation and the process of creation are dealt with in the scriptures in order that you may know the present. Because you say you are born, therefore talk about it.
What is birth? Is it of the “I-thought” or of the body? Is “I” separate from the body or identical? How did this “I-thought” arise” Is the “I-thought” your nature? Or is something else your nature?
The “I” of the wise man includes the body but he does not identify himself with the body. For there cannot be anything apart from “I” for him. If the body falls, there is no loss for the “I”. “I” remains the same. If the body feels dead, let it raise the question. Being inert, it cannot “I”. “I” never dies and dos not ask. Who then dies? Who aks?

Question: From where does the ego arise?

Answer: Soul, mind, ego are mere words. There are no true entities of the kind. Consciousness is the only truth. Forgetfulness of your real nature is the real death; remembrance of it is the true birth. It puts an end to successive births. Yours is the eternal life. How does the desire for eternal life arise? Because the present state is unbearable. Why? Because it is not your true nature. Had it been your real nature, there would be no desire to agitate you. How does the present state differ from your real nature? You are spirit in truth.
Troubles arise because we consider ourselves limited. The idea is wrong. In sleep there was no world, no ego, and no trouble. Something wakes up from that happy state and says “I”. To that ego the world appears. It is the rise of the ego that is the cause of the trouble. Let him trace the ego to its source and he will reach that undifferentiated Source, a state that is sleepless sleep. The Self is ever there; wisdom only appears to dawn, though it is but natural.

Question: Are ego and Self the same?

Answer: Self can be without the ego, but the ego cannot be without the Self. Egos are like bubbles in the ocean. Impurities and worldly attachments affect only the ego; the Self remains pure and unaffected. All these are only mental concepts. You are now identifying yourself with a wrong “I” which the “I-thought.” This “I-thought” rises and sinks whereas the true significance of “I” cannot do so. There cannot be a break in your being. The father of your personal “I” is the real “I,” God. Try to find out the source of the individual “I” and then you will reach the other “I.” When the individual goes, the desire also go.

True Self-Reliance
I was once very self-reliant I fear in old age that people will laugh at me?

Answer: Even when you said you were self-reliant, it was not so—you were ego-reliant. Instead of this, if you let go of ego, you will get real Self-reliance. Your pride was merely pride of ego. As long as you identify yourself with the ego, you will recognize others as individuals also, then there is room for pride. Let that drop and you drop others’ ego as well and so there is no more room for pride. As long as there is the sense of separation, there will be afflicting thoughts. If the original source is regained and the sense of separation is put to an end, then there is peace.

Consider what happens when a stone is thrown up. It leaves its source, is projected up, tries to come down, and is always in motion until it regains its source where it is at rest. Similarly the waters of the ocean evaporate, form clouds that are moved by winds, condense into water, and falls as rain. The water rolls down the hill in streams and rivers until it reaches its original, source the ocean. After reaching there it is at peace.

So you see where there is sense of separateness from the source there is agitation and movement until the sense of separateness is lost. So it is with yourself. Now that you identify yourself with the body, you think that you are separate. Before this false identify ceases, you must regain your source, then you can be happy.

Gold is not an ornament but the ornament is nothing but gold. Whatever shape the ornament may assume and however different the shapes of the ornaments are, there is only one reality, which is gold. Similarly with the bodies and the Self, the Reality is the Self. To identify ourselves with the body and to seek happiness is like attempting to ford to take a lake on the back of an alligator. The body identity is due to extroversion and the wandering of the mind. To continue in that state will only keep one in an endless tangle and there will be no peace. Seek your source, merge in the Self and remain as one.

Rebirth really means discontent with the present state and a desire to be born where there will be discontent. Birth, being of the body, cannot affect the Self. The Self remains ever, even after the body perishes. The discontent is due to the wrong identity of the eternal Self with the perishable body. The body is a necessary adjunct of the ego. If the ego is killed the eternal Self is revealed in all its glory…

A wise man crushes the ego at its source. It rises again and again, for him as well as for the ignorant, impelled by nature, which is prarbdha. Both in the ignorant and the wise the ego sprouts up, but with this difference; the former ego is quite ignorant of its source, or is not aware of its deep sleep in the dream and wakeful states. On the contrary, a wise man enjoys his transcendental experience with this ego, keeping his attention always on its source. His ego is not dangerous; it is only the ash-skeleton of a burnt rope. Even though it possess a form; it is ineffective. By constantly keeping our focus on our source, our ego is dissolved.

The Nature of the Ego
How is realization made possible?

Answer: There is the absolute Self from which a spark proceeds as from fire. The spark is called ego. In the case of the ignorant it identifies itself with some object simultaneously with its rise. It cannot remain independent of such association. This association is ignorance whose destruction is the object of our efforts. If ego’s objectifying tendency is filled, it remains pure and merges in its source. We can separate ourselves from that which is external but not from that which is one with us. Therefore, ego is not one with the body. This must be realized in the waking state.
The quest of “Who am I” is the axe to cut of the ego. The intellect always seeks to have external knowledge, leaving knowledge of its own origin. The mind is only the identity of the Self with the body. It is false ego that is created; it creates false phenomena in its turn, and appears to move in them. If the false identity vanishes, the Reality becomes apparent. This does not mean that Reality is not even now. It is always there eternally the same.

Question: How to get rid of egoism?

Answer: If you see what the ego really is, that is enough to get rid of it. It is the ego that makes efforts to get rid of itself, so how can it die? If ego is to go, then something else must slay it. Will it ever consent to commit suicide? So first realize that is the true nature of the ego and it will go of its own accord. Examine the nature of ego. That is the process of realization. If one sees what one’s real nature is, then one will get rid of ego. Until then our efforts are just like chasing our own shadow; the more we advance, the more distant is the shadow. If we leave our own Self, then the ego will manifest itself. If we seek our true nature, then ego dies. If we are in our own Reality, then we need not trouble about the ego.
Seek your source. Find out from where the thought of “I” springs. What object can we be surer of and know more certainly than our Self? This is direct experience and cannot further be described. If the present “I” goes, it, the mind, is known for what it is—a myth. What remains is the pure Self. In deep sleep the Self exists without perception of body and world, then happiness reigns.

Question: You say that we shall find the divine centre inside us. If each individual has a centre are there then millions of divine centers?

Answer: There is only one Center to which there is no circumference. Dive deep within and find it. Meditating on Him or on the Seer, the Self, there is a mental vibration “I” to which all are reduced. Tracing the source of “I”, the primal “I” alone remains and It is inexpressible.

Question: Is there not an unchanging Self and a changing self?

Answer: Changefulness is mere thought. All thought rise after the arising of the “I-thought.” See to whom these thoughts arise. Then you transcend them and they subside. That is to say, tracing the source of the “I-thought,” you realize the perfect “I”. “I” is the name of the Self……

Seek the True Self
Question: Is it possible to know the after-death state of a person?

Answer: It is possible, but why try to know it?

Question: Because I consider my son’s death to be real from my level of understanding.

Answer: The birth of the “I-thought” is the son’s birth; its death is the person’s death. After “I-thought” has arisen, the wrong identity with the body arises. Thinking yourself as the body, you give false values to others and identify them with bodies. Did you think of your son before his birth? Only as you are thinking of him, he is your son. Where has he gone? He has gone to the source from which he sprang. He is one with you. As long as you are, he is there too.
See the real Self and this confusion with the body will vanish. You are eternal, and others will be found to be eternal. Until this truth is realized there will always be this grief due to wrong identity. Birth, death and rebirth should only make you investigate the question and find out that there are no births or rebirths, they relate to the body and not to the Self.

Question: What happens to the created ego after the body dies?

Answer: Ego is “I-thought”. In its subtle form, it remains a thought whereas in its gross aspect, it embraces mind, senses and body. They disappear in deep slumber along with the ego. Still the Self is there. Similarly it will be in death. Ego is not an entity independent of the Self in order that it might be created or destroyed by itself. It functions as an instrument of the Self and periodically ceases to function, that is, it appears and disappears as birth and death.

Question: I want to find the real “I” and always be effortlessly in touch.

Answer: It is enough that you give up the individual “I” and no effort will be reduced to gain the real “I”. Do not think that there is any such difference between you and the Self; then surrender yourself to Him, merge yourself in Him. There should be no reservations, as you cannot cheat God.

Question: What about after death?

Answer: Inquire first who or what it is that is born. It is the body not you. Why trouble about things beyond you such as death when your Self is here and present?

Question: How long does one stay in other worlds between births an deaths?

Answer: The Sense of time is relative. In a dream you may live a whole day’s events in a couple of hours. In the subtle body of the death world you may do the same and live like what seems a thousand years, although by our time it may be only a hundred years.
Do we fear sleep? Sleep is temporary death. Death is a longer sleep. Why should you want continuance of the bodily shackles? Find out your undying Self and be immortal.
As long as you identify yourself with the gross body, thoughts materialized as gross manifestations must be real to you. Having existed here it certainly survives death. Hence under these circumstances the other world exists. On the other hand, consider that the one reality is the Self from whom has sprung the ego. The ego loses sight of the Self and identifies itself with the body, which results in ignorance and misery. The life-current [the Self] has passed through innumerable incarnations, births and deaths, but is still unaffected. There is no reason to mourn. The mind is of the ego, and the ego rises from the Self.
The sacred bull [Nandi] in India represents the ego, Jiva. It is always shown in our temples facing God with a flat circular stone in front of it. This stone altar is where sacrifices are offered and it all symbolizes that the ego must be sacrificed and must be turned towards the inner God.


Excerpt from the Mananam Series Book on “The Sages Speak About Life & Death”.

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