QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Excerpts from a question and answer session with Maharaji at a public program in Houston, Texas: February 9, 1986
Why is there so much mystery involved in Knowledge? Why can't you just reveal it to us right here, tonight?
First, the mystery comes from the basic inadequacy of words to define what Knowledge is. We use vague words such as "fulfillment," "contentment," or "something." It's almost as if we have a circle of comprehension. Some words, like "ear," "suit," "glasses," "beard," and "shoes," fall within this circle of comprehension. But other words fall outside it - words like "contentment" and "fulfillment," for instance. When you use these words, you get close to what you're describing, but you never quite get there. There is nothing concrete I can compare it to.
But my intention is not to make it mysterious. If it were, I wouldn't be here today. My job would have been finished a few days ago when many of you heard me for the first time. I could have let you think about it forever. Now, that would be mysterious.
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But here I am, in person, to help you.
There is a process to receiving Knowledge. We want to make sure that people who receive Knowledge can distinguish between the need and the want. Some people may confuse personal needs, such as marital problems, with a need for Knowledge. Other people truly want an internal experience. It would be my pleasure to show it to everybody, but first I want to make sure people are ready.
The best way to prepare is to sit down and ask questions, talk about it, see how you feel about it. That's why we have instructors, people I have personally taught to take you through the process and give you the techniques, the Knowledge, the tools which allow you to dig into the experience.
You've said that one doesn't just obtain Knowledge, that it's a continual process. Does that mean you acquire some Knowledge here and there?
No. Think of Knowledge as a tool - a pick, a shovel, or a jackhammer. And think of something inside you as a gold mine. You have the Mother Lode. The more you dig, the richer you get. Every day that you dig, you become richer than if you did not.
You continue the search?
Search or find? There's a big difference. I've seen many people who are searching. When they, find, they don't stop, but keep on searching. They're not interested in finding, they're interested in searching. Their interest is more like curiosity. It's like a cat who climbs a chair just to try it, not for any particular reason. Finding is one thing and searching is another. The finders get to keep it. The searchers almost get it. To search and then know when you've found it feels very good. It's very important.
How do you know that you've found it?
Something inside tells you. How do you know when you've found the right person to marry? Some people describe it as magic or bells ringing. Something inside tells you. When you drink water, how do you know when your thirst is quenched? You just know.
You have to decide which path to take. That's why there is no contract or commitment saving that once you receive this Knowledge you cannot let go of it or change your mind. What we encourage is, "Try it. Be clear about it. If you like it, fine. If you don't, fine." The doors are always open.
Why do you think some people look for this inner experience and others do not? What makes people feel that desire?
I believe the thirst is there in everyone, but everyone has different priorities. Some people put their careers first and themselves second, and they burn out on their jobs. Others want career success, but along with it also want a sense of personal success. They want to be fulfilled.
There comes a point in our lives when we look at ourselves. And then the questions come: "Who am I? Why am I?" I believe everyone reaches that point sooner or later. But when it comes down to really needing to take a good look at ourselves, our reactions vary depending on where we are in life. It might be scary for some of us to face the questions, and so we might retreat to our family, our job, our car, or yacht.
It is true that I am able to spark self-reflection in people. I am not able to do it for everyone. And yet, even those who come and are not immediately touched often change their minds. They take home one of the information cards and maybe a year later go looking for it because they feel a need. People are in different places at different times.
How do you respond to someone who says that an orientation to self is selfish?
To me, truly looking at yourself is the most unselfish thing a person can do. Truly understanding and admiring what you have is not selfish. Even when you say you want to commit an unselfish action, it's really for your own self that you want to commit it. By participating in charitable work, who feels good? You do. To see how beautiful you really are inside is just admiring the gift you've been given. And that is the most unselfish thing I can think of.
How does Knowledge benefit us?
Well, we are used to looking at external things which offer definite benefits - things like telephones, cars, or answering machines. Or maybe something simple like a rose.
To see and smell a rose is lovely. It feels wonderful. But the beauty is not in the rose. It is in you. Imagine that you are sitting at a dinner table and feeling relaxed. Everything is hunky-dory. Then someone offers you a rose. You smell it and say, "This is wonderful." But suppose, instead, they said, "By the way, your house fell down, your kids ran away, your wife left you, you've been fired from your job, and the police have a warrant for your arrest. Here is a rose." Will the rose smell sweet then? No.
Why? Because the rose is merely a catalyst that triggers a feeling inside you. We try to line up a lot of external things in our life, a lot of catalysts. But Knowledge allows you to have your own built-in catalyst to experience the beauty that's already there. You will still love roses, but with Knowledge you'll have something else that can trigger that beautiful internal experience.
Will it make me a better person?
Do you know how good you already are? Your question assumes that you are fundamentally not good. Knowledge says something else. It says that you are very beautiful, that you are very incredible. Not your looks, necessarily, but inside you.
But what is the benefit?
The benefit is the simple joy and enjoyment of life that comes when you feel the experience manifesting inside you. It is fulfillment. To some, this may not seem like such a big benefit, but it is the ultimate benefit.
Feel the true togetherness inside you - the kindness, mercy and love within. That feeling is there by design and nothing else. When you're feeling good on the inside, the outside will also feel good. But remember, we do not pursue Knowledge to get the outside together. Rather, it is to pursue the togetherness that already exists within us.
I've searched for years in self-help groups and other things. Although I've felt peace of mind, I've never been able to keep it. I wonder whether it's even possible to maintain that good feeling.
Whether you can or not, you're going to have to be the judge of that, okay? Because you're talking about your life, not mine. There's a certain amount of
gamble involved in this. And you will have to take that gamble because something inside you won't leave you alone until you do. That's why you're here, even though part of you may be wondering, 'Am I just chasing another rabbit?" The question will remain until you find out.
Maybe things are okay for you, even going well. But still there is a potential here for the void within you to be filled. People who have been in self-help groups, and still are, come and receive Knowledge. They realize that whatever they are accomplishing in these groups is not the same thing as filling the void. Knowledge fills a void in a very, very specific place. It cannot be compared to anything else.
So you must take the gamble. Remember what David Lloyd George, the former Prime Minister of England, once said, "Do not hesitate to make a big jump when one is indicated. You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps."
What you are saying sounds very similar to what a teacher I once had used to say. He also spoke about trusting one's self.
There is a big difference between trusting and knowing. And I am talking about knowing, not just hoping.
Yesterday, someone asked me quite sincerely if all of this was a "hype." Well, there is a fine line between this being a hype and not being a hype. Anyone can come up and say what I say. But what I'm talking about goes one step further - the step into experience - and that's why this isn't hype. That's why I avoid getting into philosophy. Every conversation must end with us getting on with the experience. The words must lead us in a direction, toward a conclusion, not just to more fancy ideas. In the end you are the judge. Is the experience there? Is it beautiful? Does it make you content?
How can you stay in touch with the experience you are talking about even in the midst of daily activity?
First, you need to distinguish between your job and your self. Today I was really tired. But still I flew my airplane in through some heavy weather and made an excellent landing. Part of me wanted to jump up and say, "You did a wonderful job!" Then I flashed on three things: my accomplishment, my tiredness, and then my self. There was a "me" that was neither tired nor an accomplished pilot. That "me" is always there, whether I am trying to do my job, or sleeping, or flying an airplane. Knowledge provides the tools to help you experience that self.
The frustrations of the job environment can make me lose that experience. Sometimes I find myself angry and frustrated at a particular situation. Then I remember the saying, "Every time you fall, pick something up - you're down there anyway!"
We must be able to back off and recognize that "me." A chef making a soup combines ingredients to create the proper flavor. He puts himself into it, but not so much that he stirs boiling liquid with his bare hands. He doesn't say, "Let me be a part of it for real." He maintains the distinction between himself and his creation.
If we can preserve the "me" a little bit, life can be a lot smoother. Life is a flowing process. It's okay to get frustrated as long as you can get unfrustrated. It's okay to take a private moment and say, "Here I am, it's me." Then you can go back and take the bull by the horns.
In bullrings, matadors have safety walls they can hide behind if things get out of control. Likewise, you need to always have an open door somewhere. Otherwise, it's like the Roman Coliseum where the victims were fed to the lions. They had no hiding places.
Sometimes the doors are closed and you have to fumble with the doorknob. But it's okay if you can find it and open it. The problem with frustration is that it makes you more frustrated. Somewhere you have to say, "Time out! Me! Just me."
But what about the pressure to achieve, to get things done?
Yes. It reminds me of a legend about Alexander the Great. On his deathbed, this great emperor told his subjects to carry his casket open through the crowds so that his empty hands would show. He wanted a sign posted on his casket which read, "I, Alexander the Great, came into the world empty-handed and have gone from this world empty-handed."
On tombstones, the inscription shows the year of birth and the year of death separated by a dash. Everything the person did - good, bad, right, or wrong - is represented by that dash. Nothing is scripted out. There is no fine print.
We achieve many things and that is good. But among our achievements should be one that is very important - the true recognition of our selves. It should be something that goes beyond our ideas of everything created so far, be it social, governmental, or economic. Whatever pressures have created us to be where we are and who we are, we must recognize the self beyond that. The real us. The real being that's here and can enjoy the true fulfillment. And that, simply, is what Knowledge is all about.
I believe in what you are saying. But I'm an independent person and I feel I should be able to accomplish everything without outside help. Why can't we do it on our own?
Even though you're independent, if you broke your arm you'd probably go to a doctor. You wouldn't just tie it off like in a cowboy movie. And when you buy groceries, I bet you don't lose your sense of independence because you cannot create your own cow's milk.
It's beautiful that you feel independent. But in one sense, you are dependent on your feeling of independence. Knowledge is beautiful because it shows you how independent you really are which is far more than you ever thought you were.
Yours is a very good question. You got me thinking. Believe me, I learn more from listening to questions than I could tell you. I am constantly learning and that's a very beautiful process. I, too, think I am independent and fear that something will take my independence away. But when you experience this Knowledge, you realize how independent you really are - by design, not definition. You realize that no one can take your
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independence away, and that's when you really start to feel independent.
Why is there resistance to self-realization?
Oh, we resist everything. All my children were breast-fed, and whenever my wife would offer them a bottle they'd resist. They were hungry, but they'd resist being fed. I couldn't understand why.
We resist because we fear. We fear a lot, much more than we think. I don't see it as a big challenge. It's just a fact. There is a tug-of-war inside us where one part wants to move and the other part resists.
Life is peculiar because it will not allow us to stay on a plateau and sit still. When things become monotonous, it comes along and-wham!-says, "Go! Move!" The other part of us says, "Slow down!" We feel that friction and it's frustrating.
Who else teaches about Knowledge and what are the other ways to learn about it?
I really don't know about the others. But I do know one - and that's me. There is no protectionism here. What I speak about Knowledge is from my own conviction. To me, there is no challenge to that. If there are other ways to do it, then, of course, you must feel free to try them out, too.