An Evening With Maharaji
First of all, I'd like to offer you all a very warm welcome to our meeting this evening, and I hope you enjoy it. In a sense, what we are going to consider is a different topic from our normal concerns, because with our daily lives and our involvement in everything around us, very seldom are we able to turn inside and try to tune into a very beautiful and simple feeling that exists within each one of us. And it is this I would like to consider tonight.
The point is that although people have a lot of ideas about how the world could be a much better place, no-one ever seems to come up with the answer. And all I would suggest is that somewhere along the line all the focus has to stop going on the outside and has to turn to the inside, to an experience of contentment and fulfilment which does exist within us.
It is an experience that cannot be expressed in words, and it cannot be confined to any language or culture. It is fundamentally universal, because it is central to our being and doesn't have anything to do with the targets and goals we set ourselves in the world about us.
Besides all the accomplishments we have achieved in the world, there is still a voice inside that calls out for a simple contentment. It is saying, "OK, whatever there is, is fine, but there has to be something more."
Contentment is a feeling which everyone has to know for themselves. It is something that, when we have it, we know it. It really comes down to a question of what life means to us. It is something that we go through every day, never giving a second thought to what it means? I am born, I fit into the system, whichever system it is, and within it I go about the business of existence. Or is there more to it?
Isn't that inner desire for quality in our lives, for us to know what we really are, and for us to be able to enjoy the experience of being alive, here with us all the time? It is a universal and fundamental need, and what can satisfy it is something equally universal and fundamental. Not satisfaction brought about because of some situation, some change in the circumstances around us, but just satisfaction that comes from the capacity to enjoy life itself, as it is.
Because life is satisfying, it is enjoyable to the nth. degree, and it is constantly with us, through thick and thin. Maybe you did something terribly wrong, and your friends and family leave you. Life is still there, saying, "It's OK, I'm here, don't worry. I'll stand by you."
I'm not saying that Knowledge, which allows us to have an experience of that contentment, of what being is all about, and which allows us to feel what existence really is, takes away our problems. It's not that once we are in touch with that beauty inside we will not have our ups and downs, but because it is packed with beauty, kindness and gentility, life can help us overcome pain and tears. That's what life is able to do, when we can experience it for what it is. This is what we have been gifted with, the most precious thing, and then to have no idea what it's all about, to me, that's the biggest shame.
I know I can't convince anybody of anything. Ultimately, when it boils down to it, if some chord in me is not struck, a person hasn't convinced me of anything. But there's more to it than coming and listening. There is a way to be able to experience that simplicity, that beauty, inside us. If there wasn't a way, the whole thing becomes hypothetical, and then I would become just another philosopher. But I'm not a philosopher. I'm able to show people something very simple, something very beautiful. And more times than not, when people see and feel that for themselves, it brings the most real smile to their faces.
I am talking about a potential that is already there. Not what you can accomplish but something that was already accomplished on the day you were born, and is still being accomplished with every second that goes by, with every breath that you take. And why do we need to know what that is? Because in feeling that, there is a great amount of contentment, beauty, comfort and joy.
I'm not trying to change people. I'm not trying to deal with people's philosophies. To me, it's as simple as this: Socrates said, "Know thyself."
It's a nice phrase, but what does it mean? How many people, after hearing that phrase on their college course, think, "My goodness, what could he possibly have meant by that?" Just by hearing it, we do not understand what he meant.
To me, it's a matter of feelings.
There is no intellectual debate about it. In a debate like that, there can be winners and losers, but in the process of life, to me, everybody is a winner; nobody is a loser. We have to go on what we feel, and what I offer is an avenue where we can come closer to recognising the simplicity and beauty that lies at the heart of our lives.
So I think that's all I have to say. If you have any questions, please ask them and I will do my best to answer them.
First, I would like to say how much I've enjoyed listening to you. What I would like to know is, if I obtained Knowledge, what would I have to do to sustain it, to continue it on in my life?
You would have to practise it by giving it a few minutes of your time. It's quite simple. You can even practise it when you are in some odd circumstances, because what you are experiencing is always with you. The Knowledge is merely the tool that allows you to tap into it. That's all there is to it.
Would you mind saying a little bit more about what Knowledge is?
Well, I think the way I just expressed it sums it up. Knowledge is just a tool which allows you to tap into that which is inside you, that which gives us life, that which can give us a beautiful experience if we are connected with it. It's not that I am giving you the experience. All I'm doing is giving you the means to be able to get to the experience.
Is it meditation?
If you want to call it meditation, you may. But it's not particularly like that. It doesn't really follow your typical meditation where you sit in a room and think of something nice or focus on something. It's not like that, but it's hard to express it in words. I suppose if you really want to know, you'll have to get it for yourself. But do come again and put questions to me or to an instructor, just to explore more and pinpoint exactly what you want to know about it.
Could you explain the origins of Knowledge, how it evolved and also whether you feel it originates mainly from yourself or from a wider basis?
Well, it's true that every time you buy a car you get a log book with it. The history of the car is important, but the main point is what the car can actually do for you now. With Knowledge, basically there is something there to experience and this is a way to be able to experience it. Before me, my father taught the Knowledge and now I am teaching it. But I have no idea who is going to do it after me. It's not as if it's passed on in the family. There's no tradition about it.
And how the Knowledge originated, I don't know. All I know is that it does bring people a beautiful experience, and it is being presented entirely on its own merit. Tonight the only person I have referred to is Socrates. All I can say is that it does exist, it's here now, and whether it came originally from India or China or Great Britain, I don't know. To tell the truth, I have talked to people who have tried to follow up on its history but they keep running short … it just seems to disappear into nothingness after a while. To me, the only thing of value is the experience it brings.
You say that like all of us you have your downs as well as your ups. Do you feel that eventually, through your Knowledge, you will achieve the feat of removing the downs entirely from your life, and if you can do it, can we achieve that too?
Well, first of all, you make it sound as if there's a great separation between you and me, by virtue of suggesting that I sit up there somewhere, as if I've taken the malaria pills, so I can go into the jungle and not worry about mosquito bites. But it's not like that at all.
The thing I see in myself is that I want to enjoy my being here, my being alive. I do want to learn, but I can't say that the object of my learning is never to have downs again. I don't even know if I would remember the value of the ups if that happened. I think I will always make mistakes and I will have to suffer the consequences of those mistakes. I'll try not to make them again, but I probably will.
And yet there is a rhythm and beauty to this life, to being here, and I want to recognise and experience that. It is not a matter of ups and downs. Kahil Gibran said: "Joy is your sorrow unmasked", and that is a very deep saying, because both elements are there. What I want is, through my ups and through my downs, to be somehow in tune with enjoying myself.
I don't want to change the way I am as a human being, because being a human being is itself the greatest thing going on. It really is. Nothing else tops it. There is such a joy, such a pleasure, in that. In the whole process of growing up, we are never in touch with that real something inside that's saying: "Beauty. That's what's you are." But there needs to be that connection. That's what's happening for me, and that's what really needs to happen for everyone. Then we can all enjoy being human, and not have any barriers of any sort.
Maharaji, is this one way of many to realise your true self, or the only one?
Well, it might be, and it might not be. You'll have to be the judge of that. You can try out whatever you want to try out. And then you can come and try this one out and see if you like it.
Can this happen to you spontaneously, without this method of yours?
I personally think we taste it at different times in our lives. We don't get the whole cake but sometimes we smell it, or see it, or taste it. These are the times when you feel really, really good, and there's no reason at all for it. You feel thankful; you feel good about yourself. There aren't too many days like that, I'm sure, but there are some. And I think it's having these feelings that makes us want to pursue something like this, that makes us say to ourselves: "It's hard to put my finger on, but I want something more in my life."
Well, it's been very enjoyable for me to be here and I hope you have enjoyed yourself too. At least it's been a different kind of evening, hasn't it? I hope to be back again before too long, and in the meantime, if you are interested in receiving Knowledge for yourself, or just knowing more about it, you are most welcome to contact your local instructor. You are not joining anything, and it is free of charge. It is just, as I have been saying, a simple way for you to experience something really beautiful in your life.
So, once again, thank you very much for coming, and I wish you a very goodnight.