Four Systems of Yoga Scrutinised (Karma, Bhakti, Raja, Gnana)


Swami Venkatesananda: Krishnaji, I come as a humble speaker to a guru, not in the sense of hero worship but in the literal sense which the word guru means, that is the remover of darkness, of ignorance. The word ‘gu’ stands for the darkness of ignorance and ru stands for the remover, the dispeller. Hence guru is the light that dispels the darkness of ignorance and you are that light for me now. We sit in the tent here at Saanen for instance, of the Buddha addressing the Bhikshus, or of Vasishta instructing Rama in the royal court of Dasaratha. We have a few examples of these gurus in the Upanishads; first there was Varuna, the guru. He merely prods his disciple with the words ‘Tapasa Brahma… Tapo Brahmeti’. ‘What is Brahman? – Don’t ask me.’ Tapo Brahman, tapas, austerity or discipline – or as you yourself often say, ‘Find out’ – is Brahman and the disciple must himself discover the truth, though by stages. Yajnyavalkya and Uddhalaka adopted a more direct approach. Yajnyavalkya instructing his wife Maitreyi, used the neti-neti method. You cannot describe Brahman positively, but when you eliminate everything else, it is there. As you said the other day, love cannot be described – ‘this is it’ – but only by eliminating what is not love. Uddhalaka used several analogies to enable his disciples to see the truth and then nailed it with the famous expression TatTwam-Asi. Dakshinamurti instructed his disciples by silence and Chinmudra. It is said that the Sanatkumaras went to him for instruction. Dakshinamurti just kept silent and showed the Chinmudra and the disciples looked at him and got enlightened. It is believed that one cannot realize the truth without the help of a guru. Obviously even those people who regularly come to Saanen are greatly helped in their quest. Now, what according to you is the role of a guru, a preceptor or an awakener?

Krishnamurti: Sir, if you are using the word guru in the classical sense, which is the dispeller of darkness, of ignorance, can another, whatever he be, enlightened or stupid, really help to dispel this darkness in oneself? Suppose ‘A’ is ignorant and you are his guru – guru in the accepted sense, one who dispels darkness and one who carries the burden for another, one who points out – can such a guru help another? Or rather can the guru dispel the darkness of another? – not theoretically but actually. Can you, if you are the guru of so and so, dispel his darkness, dispel the darkness for another? Knowing that he is unhappy, confused, has not enough brain matter, has not enough love, or sorrow, can you dispel that? Or has he to work tremendously on himself? You may point out, you may say, ‘Look, go through that door,’ but he has to do the work entirely from the beginning to the end. Therefore, you are not a guru in the accepted sense of that word, if you say that another cannot help.

V: It is just this: the ‘if’ and ‘but’. The door is there. I have to go through. But there is this ignorance of where the door is. You, by pointing out, remove that ignorance.

K: But I have to walk there. Sir, you are the guru and you point out the door. You have finished your job.

V: So darkness of ignorance is removed.

K: No, your job is finished and it is now for me to get up, walk, and see what is involved in walking. I have to do all that.

V: That is perfect.

K: Therefore you do not dispel my darkness.

V: I am sorry, but I do not know how to get out of this room. I am ignorant of the existence of a door in a certain direction and the guru removes the darkness of that ignorance. And then I take the necessary steps to get out.

K: Sir, let us be clear. Ignorance is lack of understanding, or the lack of understanding of oneself, not the big self or the little self. The door is the ‘me’ through which I have to go. It is not outside of ‘me’. It is not a factual door as that painted door. It is a door in me through which I have to go. You say, ‘Do that.’

V: Exactly.

K: Your function as the guru is then finished. You do not become important. I do not put garlands around your head. I have to do all the work. You have not dispelled the darkness of ignorance. You have, rather, pointed out to me that, ‘You are the door through which you yourself have to go.’

V: But would you, Krishnaji, accept that that pointing out was necessary?

K: Yes, of course. I point out, I do that. We all do that. I ask a man on the road, ‘Will you please tell me which is the way to Saanen’, and he tells me; but I do not spend time and express devotion and say, ‘My God, you are the greatest of men.’ That is too childish!

V: Thank you, Sir. Closely related to what the guru is, there is the question of what discipline is, which you defined as learning. Vedanta classifies the seekers according to their qualifications, or maturity, and prescribes suitable methods of learning. The disciple with the keenest perception is given instruction in silence, or with a brief awakening word like Tat-Twam-Asi. He is called Uttamadhikari. The disciple with the mediocre ability is given more elaborate treatment; he is called Madhyamadhikari. The dull-witted is entertained with stories, rituals, etc., hoping for greater maturity; he is called Adhamadhikari. Perhaps you will comment on this?

K: Yes, the top, the middle and bottom. That implies, Sir, that we have to find out what we mean by maturity.

V: May I explain that? You said the other day, ‘The whole world is burning, you must realize the seriousness of it.’ And that hit me like a bolt – even to grasp that truth. But there may be millions who just do not bother; they are not interested. Those we shall call the Adhama, the lowest. There are others like the Hippies and so on who play with it, who may be entertained with stories and who say, ‘We are unhappy,’ or who tell you, ‘We know society is a mess, we will take L.S.D.’, and so on. And there may be others who respond to that idea, that the world is burning, and that immediately sparks them. We find them everywhere. How does one handle them?

K: How to handle the people who are utterly immature, those who are partially mature, and those who consider themselves mature?

V: Correct.

K: To do that, we have to understand what we mean by maturity. What do you think is maturity? Does it depend on age, time?

V: No.

K: So we can remove that. Time age is not an indication of maturity. Then there is the maturity of the very learned man, the man who is highly, intellectually capable.

V: No he may twist and turn the words.

K: So we will eliminate that. Whom would you consider as a mature, ripe man?

V: The man who is able to observe.

K: Wait. Obviously the man who goes to churches, to temples, to mosques is out; so is the intellectual the religious and the emotional. We should say, if we eliminate all that, maturity consists in being not self-centred – not ‘me’ first and everybody else second, or my emotions first. So maturity implies the absence of the ‘me’.

V: Fragmentation, to use a better word.

K: The ‘me’ which creates the fragments. Now, how would you appeal to that man? And to the man who is half one and half the other, ‘me’ and ‘not me’, who plays with both? And the other one who is completely ‘me’, who enjoys himself? How do you appeal to these three?

V: How do you awaken these three? – that is the trouble.

K: Wait! The man who is completely ‘me’, there is no awakening in him. He is not interested. He won’t even listen to you. He will listen to you if you promise him something, heaven, hell, fear or more profit in the world, more money; but he will do it in order to gain. So the man who wishes to gain, achieve, is immature.

V: Quite right.

K: Whether Nirvana, Heaven, Moksha, attainment, or enlightenment, he is immature. Now, what will you do with such a man?

V: Tell him stories.

K: No, why should I tell him stories, befuddle him more by my stories or by your stories? Why not leave him alone? He would not listen.

V: It is cruel.

K: Cruel on whose part? He won’t listen to you. Let us be factual. You come to me. I am the total ‘me’. I am not concerned with anything but ‘me’, but you say ‘Look, you are making a mess of the world, you are creating such misery for man’, and I say, please go away. Put it any way you like; put it in stories, cover it with pills, sweet pills, but he is not going to change the ‘me’. If he does, he comes to the middle – the ‘me’ and the ‘not me’. This is called evolution. The man who is the lowest reaches the middle.

V: How?

K: By knocking. Life forces him, teaches him. There is war, hatred; he is destroyed. Or he goes into a church. The church is a trap to him. It does not enlighten him, it does not say, ‘For God’s sake break through,’ but it says it will give him what he wants – entertainment, whether Jesus entertainment, or Hindu entertainment, or Buddhist, or Muslim or whatever it is – it will give him entertainment, only in the name of God. So they keep him at the same level, with little modifications, a little bit of polish, better culture, better clothes, etc. That is what is happening. He probably makes up (as you said just now) eighty per cent of the world, more perhaps, ninety per cent.

V: What can you do?

K: I won’t add to it, I won’t tell him stories, I won’t entertain him; because there are others who are already entertaining him.

V: Thank you.

K: Then there is the middle type, the ‘me’ and the ‘not-me’, who does social reforms, a little bit of good here and there, but always the ‘me’ operating. Socially, politically, religiously, in every way, the ‘me’ is operating. But a little more quietly, with a little more polish. Now to him you can talk a little bit, say, ‘Look, a social reform is all right in its place but it leads you nowhere,’ and so on. You can talk to him. Perhaps he will listen to you. The other one will not listen to you at all. This chap will listen to you, pay a little attention and perhaps say this is too serious, this requires too much work and slips back into his old pattern. We shall talk to him and leave him. What he wants to do is up to him. Now, there is the other one who is getting out of the ‘me’, who is stepping out of the circle of the ‘me’. There, you can talk to him. He will pay attention to you. So one talks to all the three, not distinguishing between those who are mature and those who are not mature. We will talk to all the three categories, the three types, and leave it to them.

V: The one who is not interested, he will walk out.

K: He will walk out of the tent, he will walk out of the room. That is his affair. He goes to his church, football, entertainment or whatever it is. But the moment you say ‘you are immature and I will teach you more’, he becomes…

V: Boosted up.

K: The seed of poison is already there. Sir, if the soil is right, the grain will take root. But to say, ‘You are mature, and you are immature’, that is totally wrong. Who am I to tell somebody that he is immature? It is for him to find out.

V: But can a fool find out that he is a fool?

K: If he is a fool he won’t even listen to you. You see, Sir, we start out with the idea of wanting to help.

V: That is what we are basing our whole discussion upon.

K: I think the approach of wanting to help is not valid, except in the medical world or in the technological world. If I am ill it is necessary to go to the doctor to be cured. Here, psychologically, if I am asleep, I won’t listen to you. If I am half awake, I will listen to you according to my vacant state, according to my moods. Therefore, to the one man who says, ‘I really want to keep awake, keep psychologically awake’, to him you can talk. So we talk to all of them.

V: Thank you. That clears up a big misunderstanding. When sitting alone, I reflected over what you had said earlier in the day. I cannot help the spontaneous feeling. ‘Ah, the Buddha said so, or Vasishtha said so’, though immediately I endeavour to cut through the imagery of the words to find the meaning. You help us find the meaning, though perhaps that is not your intention. So did Vasishtha and the Buddha. People come here as they went to those great ones. Why? What is there in human nature that seeks, that gropes and grasps for a crutch? Again, not to help them may be a cruelty, but to spoon-feed them may be greater cruelty. What does one do?

K: The question being, why do people need crutches?

V: Yes, and whether to help them or not.

K: That is it: whether you should give them crutches to lean on. Two questions are involved. Why do people need crutches? And whether you are the person to give them the crutches?

V: Should one or should one not?

K: Should one or should one not, and whether you are capable of giving them help? – those two questions are involved. Why do people want crutches, why do people want to depend on others, whether it is Jesus, Buddha, or ancient saints, why?

V: First of all, there is something that is seeking. The seeking itself seems to be good.

K: Is it? Or is it their fear of not achieving something which the saints, the great people, have pointed out? Or the fear of going wrong, of not being happy, of not getting enlightenment, understanding, or whatever you call it?

V: May I quote a beautiful expression from the Bhagvad-gita? Krishna said: four types of people come to me. The one who is in distress; he comes to me for the removal of distress. Then there is the one who is a curious man; he just wants to know what is this God, truth, and whether there is heaven and hell? The third one wants some money. He also comes to God and prays to get more money. And the Gyani, the wise man, also comes. All of them are good, because they are all, somehow or the other, seeking God. But of all these, I think the Gyani is the best one. So the seeking may be due to various reasons.

K: Yes, Sir. There are these two questions. First of all, why do we seek? Then, why does humanity demand crutches? Now, why does one seek, why should one seek at all?

V: Why should one seek – because one finds something missing.

K: Which means what? I am unhappy and I want happiness. That is a form of seeking. I do not know what enlightenment is. I have read about it in books and it appeals to me and I seek it. Also I seek a better job, because there is more money, more profit, more enjoyment and so on. In all these there is seeking, searching, wanting. I can understand the man wanting a better job, because society as it is constituted is so monstrously arranged, that it makes him seek more money, a better job. But psychologically, inwardly, what am I seeking? And when I do find it, in my search, how do I know that what I find is true?

V: Perhaps the seeking drops.

K: Wait, Sir. How do I know? In my search, how do I know that this is the truth? How do I know? Can I ever say ‘This is the truth’? Therefore why should I seek it? So what makes me seek? What makes one seek is a much more fundamental question than the search, and saying, ‘This is the truth.’ If I say, ‘This is the truth’, I must know it already. If I know it already, it is not truth. It is something dead, past, which tells me that is the truth. A dead thing cannot tell me what is truth.

So why do I seek? Because, deeply I am unhappy, deeply I am confused, deeply there is great sorrow in me and I want to find a way out of it. You come along as the guru, as an enlightened man, or as a professor and say, ‘Look, this is the way out.’ The basic reason for my search is to escape from this agony and I posit that I can escape sorrow, and that enlightenment is over there, or in myself. Can I escape from it? I cannot in the sense of avoiding it, resisting it, running away from it; it is there. Wherever I go, it is still there. So what I have to do is to find out in myself why sorrow has come into being, why I am suffering. Then, is that a search? No. When I want to find out why I am suffering, that is not searching. It is not even a quest. It is like going to a doctor and saying I have a bad tummy, and he says you have eaten the wrong kind of food.

So I will avoid wrong food. If the cause of my misery is in myself not necessarily created by the environment in which I live, then I have to find out how to be free from it for myself. You may, as the guru, point out that that is the door, but as soon as you have pointed it out, your job is over. Then I have to work, then I have to find out what to do, how to live, how to think how to feel this way of living in which there is no suffering.

V: Then to that extent the helping, the pointing out, is justified.

K: Not justified, but you do it naturally.

V: Supposing the other man gets stuck somewhere, that as he proceeds, in going there he knocks against this table…

K: He must learn that the table is there. He must learn that when he is going towards the door there is an obstacle in the way. If he is enquiring, he will find out. But you come along and say ‘There is the door, there is the table don’t knock against it’, you are treating him just like a child leading him to the door. There is no meaning to it.

V: So that much of help, the pointing out, is justified?

K: Any decent man with a decent heart will say Don’t go there, there is a precipice. I once met a very well-known guru in India. He came to see me. There was a mattress on the floor and we said to him politely, please sit on the mattress – and he quietly sat on the mattress, assumed the position of the guru, put his stick in front of him and began to discuss – it was quite a performance he put up! And he said: human beings need a guru because we gurus know better than the layman; why should he go through all the danger alone? We will help him. It was impossible to discuss with him because he had assumed that he alone knew and everybody else was in ignorance. At the end of ten minutes he left, annoyed.

V: That is one of the things for which Krishnaji is famous in India! – Next, while you rightly point out the utter futility of blindly accepting dogmas, formulas, you will not ask for their summary rejection. While tradition can be a deadly block, it is perhaps worth understanding it and its origin; otherwise, in destroying one tradition an equally pernicious one might spring up.

K: Quite right.

V: Hence may I offer a few traditional beliefs for your scrutiny so that we may discover where and how what you called ‘good intentions’ veered towards hell – the shell that imprisons us? Each branch of Yoga prescribed its own disciplines in the firm conviction that if one pursued them in the right spirit one would end sorrow. I shall enumerate them for your comments.

First, Karma Yoga: it demanded Dharma, or a virtuous life, which was often extended to include the much abused Varnashrama Dharma. Krishna’s dictum ‘Swadharme… Bhayavaha’ – seems to have indicated that if a man voluntarily submitted himself to certain rules of conduct, his mind would be free to observe and learn with the help of certain Bhavanas. Would you comment on this? – the concept of Dharma and rules and regulations: ‘do this’, ‘that is right’, ‘that is wrong….’

K: Which means really, lays down what is right conduct, and I voluntarily adopt it. There is a teacher who lays down what is righteous behaviour, and I come along and voluntarily, to use your word, take to it, accept it. Is there such a thing as voluntary acceptance? And should the teacher lay down what is right conduct, which means he has set the pattern, the mould, the conditioning? You follow the danger of it? – in his having laid down the conditioning which produces right behaviour, which will lead one to heaven.

V: That is one aspect of it. The other aspect in which I am more interested, is if that is accepted, then the psychological apparatus is free to observe.

K: I understand. No, Sir. Why should I accept it? You are the teacher. You lay down the mode of conduct. How do I know that you are right? You may be wrong. And I won’t accept your authority. Because I see the authority of the gurus, the authority of the priest, the authority of the Church – they have all failed. Therefore, with a new teacher laying down a new law, I would say, ‘For God’s sake you are playing the same game; I do not accept it.’ And is there such a thing as voluntary acceptance – voluntary, free acceptance? Or am I already influenced, because you are a teacher, you are the great one, and you promise me a reward at the end of it, unconsciously or consciously, which leads me to ‘voluntarily’ accept it? I do not accept it freely. If I am free, I do not accept it at all. I live. I live righteously.

V: So righteousness must come from within?

K: Obviously, what else, Sir? Look at what is going on in the study of behaviour. They say outward circumstances, environment, culture, produce certain types of behaviour. That is, if I live in a communist environment with its domination, with its threats, concentration camps, all that will make me behave in a certain way; I put on a mask, frightened, and I behave in a certain way. In a society which is more or less free, where there are not so many rules, because nobody believes in rules, where everything is permitted, there I play.

V: Now, which one is more acceptable from the sp point of view?

K: Neither. Because behaviour, virtue, is something which cannot be cultivated by me or by society. I have to find out how to live rightly. Virtue is something which is not an acceptance of patterns, or following a deadly pattern of routine. Goodness is not routine. Surely, if I am good because my teacher says I am good, it is meaningless. Therefore there is no such thing as voluntary acceptance of the righteous behaviour which is laid down by a guru, by a teacher.

V: One has to find it for oneself.

K: Therefore I have to begin to enquire. I begin to look, to find out how to live. I can only live when there is no fear.

V: Perhaps I should have explained this. According to Sankara it is meant only for the lower.

K: What is low and high? The mature and the immature? Sankara or X Y Z says, ‘Lay down the rule for the low and for the high’ and they do it. They read the books of Sankara, or some pundit reads it to them, and they say how marvellous it is and go back and live their own life. This is an obvious fact. You see it in Italy. They listen to the Pope – they listen earnestly for two or three minutes and then go on with their daily life; nobody cares, it does not make any difference. That is why I want to ask, why the so-called Sankaras, Gurus, lay down laws about what is behaviour.

V: Otherwise there would be chaos.

K: There is chaos anyhow. There is terrible chaos In India they have read Sankara and all the teachers for a thousand years. Look at them!

V: Perhaps, according to them, the alternative is impossible.

K: What is the alternative? Confusion? And that is what they are living in. Why not understand the confusion in which they are living instead of Sankara? If they understand confusion, they can change it.

V: Perhaps that leads us on to this question of Bhavana where a bit of psychology is involved. Coming to the Sadhana of Karma Yoga, the Bhagavad Gita prescribes among other things a Nimitta Bhavana. Bhavana is undoubtedly Being and Nimitta Bhavana is being an egoless instrument in the hands of God or the Infinite Being. But it is also taken to mean an attitude or a feeling in the hope that it will help a beginner to observe himself and thus the Bhavana will fill his being. Perhaps it is indispensable for the people of little understanding; or will it permanently distract them by self-deception? How shall we make this work?

K: What is the question you are asking, Sir?

V: There is the technique of Bkawana.

K: That implies a system, a method, by the practice of which, you ultimately reach enlightenment. You practise in order to come to God or whatever it is. The moment you practise a method, what happens? I practise day after day the method laid down by you. What happens?

V: There is a famous saying, ‘As you think so you become’.

K: I think that by the practice of this method I will reach enlightenment. So what do I do? Every day I practise it. I become more and more mechanical.

V: But there is a feeling.

K: The mechanical routine is going on with the feeling added, ‘I like it’, ‘I don’t like it’, ‘it is a bore’ – you know, there is a battle going on. So anything I practise, any discipline, any practice in the accepted sense of the word makes my mind more and more narrow, limited and dull, and you are promising at the end of it, heaven. I say it is like soldiers being trained day after day – drill, drill – till they are nothing but instruments of the commanding officer or sergeant. Give them a little initiative. So I am questioning the whole approach of system and method towards enlightenment. Even in factories a man who merely moves a button or pushes this or that does not produce as much as the man who is free to learn as he goes along.

V: Can you put that into Bhavana?

K: Why not?

V: So it works?

K: This is the only way. That is real Bhavana: Learn as you go along. Therefore keep awake. Learn as you go along, therefore be alert as you go along. If I take a walk and I have a system, a method of walking, that is all I am concerned with: I shall not see the birds, the trees, the marvellous light on the leaf, nothing. And why should I accept the teacher who gives me the method, the mode? He may be as peculiar as I am, and there are teachers who are very odd. So I reject all that.

V: The problem again is that of the beginner.

K: Who is the beginner? The immature one?

V: Probably.

K: Therefore you are giving him a toy to play with?

V: Some sort of opening.

K: Yes a toy and he enjoys that and practises all day and his mind remains very small.

V: Perhaps that is your answer to this Bhakti Yoga question too. Again, somehow they wanted these people to break through.

K: I am not at all sure, Sir.

V: I will discuss this Bhakti. Coming to Bhakti Yoga, the Bhakta is encouraged to worship God even in temples and images, feeling the Divine presence within. In quite a number of mantras, it is repeated again and again, ‘You are the All Pervading… you are the Omnipresent’, etc. Krishna asks the devotees to see God in the objects of nature and then as the ‘All’. At the same time through japa, or the repetition of mantra with the corresponding awareness of its significance, the devotee is asked to perceive that the divine presence outside is identical with the indwelling presence. Thus the individual realizes his oneness with the collective. Is there anything fundamentally wrong with that system?

K: Oh! Yes, Sir. The Communist block does not believe in God at all. The Communists have set the State above God. They are selfish, they are frightened, but there is no God, no mantras, etc. Another does not know the mantras, japa, repetition but he says, ‘I want to find out what truth is. I want to find out if there is a God at all. There may be no such thing.’ And the Gita and all of them assume that there is. They assume there is God. Who are they to tell me there is or there is not, including Krishna or X, Y, Z? I say it may be your own conditioning; you are born in a particular climate and with a particular conditioning, with a particular attitude and you believe in that. And then you lay down rules. But if I reject all authority, including the Communists, including the Western and the Asiatic authorities all authority, then where am I? Then I have to find out, because I am unhappy, I am miserable.

V: But I might be free from conditioning.

K: That is my business – to be free. Otherwise I cannot learn. If I remain a Hindu for the rest of my life, I am finished. The Catholic remains a Catholic and the Communist is equally dead. But is it possible – that is really the question – to reject all conditioning which accepts authority? Can I really reject all authority and stand alone to find out? And I must be alone. Otherwise, if I am not alone in the deeper sense of that word, I am just repeating what Sankara, Buddha, or X, Y, Z said. What is the point of it, knowing very well that repetition is not the real? So, must not I – mature, or immature, or half mature – must not they all learn to stand alone? It is painful; they say, ‘My God, how can I stand alone?’ – to be without the children, to be without God, to be without the Commissar? There is fear.

V: Do you think that every one can work out this?

K: Why not, Sir? If you cannot, then you are caught in it. Then no amount of Gods, and mantras, and tricks will help you. They may cover it up. They may bottle it up. They may suppress it and put it in the refrigerator. But it is always there.

V: Now there is the other method, that of standing alone: Raja Yoga. The student here is again asked to cultivate certain virtuous qualities which, on the one hand, make of him a good citizen and on the other, remove possible psychological barriers. This Sadhana, which is mainly awareness of thought which includes memory, imagination and sleep, seems to be close to your own teaching. Asana and Pranayama are auxiliaries, perhaps. And even the Dhyana of Yoga is not intended to bring about self-realization, which is admittedly not the end product of a series of actions. Krishna clearly says that Yoga clarifies perception: ‘Atma Shuddhaye’. Do you approve of this approach? There is not much of help involved here; even Iswara is only ‘Purusha Visheshaha’. It is a sort of a guru, invisible in the indwelling process. Do you approve of this approach: there is this method of sitting in meditation and trying to delve deeper and deeper.

V: And Patanjali defines meditation as, ‘The absence of all world idea or any extraneous idea.’ That is the ‘Bhakti Sunyam’.

K: Look, Sir, I have not read anything. Now here I am: I know nothing. I only know that I am in sorrow and that I have got a fairly good mind. I have no authority – Sankara, Krishna, Patanjali, nobody – I am absolutely alone. I have got to face my life and I have got to be a good citizen – not according to the Communists, Capitalists, or Socialists – Good citizenship means behaviour, which is not one thing in the office and different at home. First, I want to find out how to be free of this sorrow. Then being free, I shall find out if there is such a thing as God or whatever it is. So how am I to learn to be free of this enormous burden? That is my first question. I can only understand it in relationship with another. I cannot sit by myself and dig into it because I may pervert it; my mind is too silly, prejudiced. So, I have to find out in relationship – with nature, with human beings – what is this fear, this sorrow; in relationship, because if I sit by myself I can deceive myself very easily. But by being awake in relationship, I can spot it immediately.

V: If you are alert.

K: That is the point. If I am alert, watchful, I shall find out; and that does not take time.

V: But if one is not?

K: Therefore, the problem is to be awake, to be aware, alert. Is there a method for it? Follow it, Sir. If there is a method which will help me to be aware, I shall practise it; but is that awareness? Because in that is involved routine, acceptance of authority, repetition; that is gradually making my alertness dull. So I reject that: the practice of alertness. I say I can only understand sorrow in relationship and that understanding comes only through alertness. Therefore, I must be alert. I am alert because my demand is to end sorrow. If I am hungry, I want food and I go after food. In the same way, I discover the enormous burden of sorrow in me and I discover it through relationship – how I behave with you, how I talk to people. In that process of relationship, this thing is revealed.

V: In that relationship you are all the time self-aware, if I may put it that way.

K: Yes I am aware, alert, watching.

V: Is it so easy for an ordinary person?

K: It is, if the man is serious and says, ‘I want to find out.’ The ordinary man, eighty to ninety per cent of them, is not really interested. But the man who is serious, he says, ‘I shall find out – I want to see if the mind can be free from sorrow.’ And it is only possible to discover it in relationship. I cannot invent sorrow. In relationship sorrow comes.

V: The sorrow is within.

K: Naturally, Sir, it is a psychological phenomenon.

V: You would not want man to sit and meditate and sharpen?

K: So let us come back to the question of meditation. What is meditation? – not according to what Patanjali and others say because they may be totally mistaken. And I might be mistaken when I say I know how to meditate. So one has oneself to find out, one has to ask, ‘What is meditation?’ Is meditation sitting quiet, concentrating, controlling thought, watching?

V: Watching, perhaps.

K: You can watch when you are walking.

V: It is difficult.

K: You watch while eating, when you are listening to people, when somebody says something that hurts you, flatters you. That means, you have to be alert all the time – when you are exaggerating, when you are telling half-truths – you follow? To watch, you need a very quiet mind. That is meditation. The whole of that is meditation.

V: To me it looks as though Patanjali evolved an exercise for quietening the mind, not on the battlefield of life, but to start it when you are alone and then extend it to relationship.

K: But if you escape from the battle…

V: For a little while…

K: If you escape from the battle you have not understood the battle. The battle is you. How can you escape from yourself? You can take a drug, you can pretend that you have escaped, you can repeat mantras, japas and do all kinds of things, but the battle is going on. You say, ‘Get away quietly from it and then come back to it.’ That is a fragmentation. We are suggesting: ‘Look at the battle you are involved in; you are caught in it: you are it.’

V: That leads us to the last discipline: you are it.

K: You are the battle.

V: You are it, you are the battle, you are the fighter, you are away from it, you are with it – everything. That is perhaps what is implied in Gnana Yoga. According to Gnana Yoga, the seeker is asked to equip himself with the four means, Viveka, seeking the real and discarding the false; Vairagya, not seeking pleasure; Shat Satsampath, which meant in effect living a life conducive to the practice of this yoga; and Mumukshutva, a total dedication to the search of Truth. The disciple then approached a guru and his Sadhana consisted of Shravana (hearing), Manana (reflection) and Nisyudhyajna (assimilation), which all of us do here. The guru adopted various means to enlighten the student, which usually implied the realization of the All or the Whole Being. Sankara describes it thus: ‘The infinite alone is real, the world is unreal. The individual is non-different from the infinite, so there is no fragmentation there.’ Sankara said that the world is Maya by which he meant that the world-appearance is not the real, which one has to investigate and discover. Krishna describes it thus in the Gita: ‘The yogi is then aware that the action, the doer of the action, the instruments involved, and the object towards which the action is directed, are all one whole and thus fragmentation is overcome.’

How do you react to this Gnana Yoga method? First there is this Sadhana Chaturdhyaya, for which the disciple prepares himself. Then he goes to the guru and sits and hears the Truth from the guru and reflects over it and assimilates the truth, till it becomes one with him; and the truth is usually said in terms of these formulas. But these formulas that we repeat are supposed to be realized. Has this perhaps some validity?

K: Sir, if you have read none of these – Patanjali, Sankara, Chan Upanishads, Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Gnana Yoga, nothing – what would you do?

V: I shall have to find out.

K: What would you do?

V: Struggle.

K: Which you are doing anyhow. What would you do? Where would you start? – knowing nothing about what others have said, including what the Communist leaders have said – Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin. I am here, an ordinary human being, I have not read a thing, I want to know. Where am I to begin? I have to work – Karma Yoga – in a garden, as a cook, in a factory, an office, I have to work. And also there are the wife and children: I love them, I hate them, I am a sexual addict, because that is the only escape offered to me in life. Here I am. That is my map of life and I start from here. I cannot start from over there; I start here and I ask myself what it is all about. I know nothing about God. You can invent, pretend: I have a horror of pretending. If I do not know, I do not know. I am not going to quote Sankara, Buddha, or anybody. So I say: this is where I start. Can I bring about order in my life? – order, not invented by me or by them, but order that is virtue. Can I bring it about? And to be virtuous there must be no battle, no conflict in me or outside. Therefore, there must be no aggressiveness, no violence, no hate, no animosity. I start from there. And I find out I am afraid. I must be free of fear. To be conscious of it is to be aware of all this, aware of where I am; from there I will move, I shall work. And then I find out I can be alone – not carry all the burdens of memory, of Sankaras, of Buddhas, Marx, Engels – you follow? I can be alone because I have understood order in my life; and I have understood order because I have denied disorder, because I have learnt about disorder. Disorder means conflict, acceptance of authority, complying, imitation, all that. That is disorder, the social morality is disorder. Out of that I will bring order in myself; not myself as a potty little human being in a backyard, but as a Human Being.

V: How do you explain it?

K: It is a human being who is going through this hell. Every human being is going through this hell. So if I, as a human being, understand this, I have discovered something which all human beings can discover.

V: But how does one know that one is not deceiving oneself?

K: Very simple. First, humility: I do not want to achieve anything.

V: I do not know if you have come across people who say, ‘I am the humblest person in the world.’

K: I know. That is all too silly. Not to desire achievement is not.

V: When one is in it, in the soup, how does one know?

K: Of course you will know. When your desire says, ‘I must be like Mr. Smith who is the Prime Minister, the General, or the Executive Officer’, then there is the beginning of arrogance, pride, achievement. I know when I want to be like the hero, when I want to become like the Buddha, when I want to reach enlightenment, when desire says, ‘Be something.’ Desire says in being something there is tremendous pleasure.

V: But have we still tackled the root of the problem in all this?

K: Of course we have. ‘Me’ is the root of the problem. Self-centredness is the root of the problem.

V: But what is it? What does it mean?

K: Self-centredness? I am more important than you, my house, my property, my achievement, ‘me’ first.

V: But the martyr may say, ‘I am nothing, I can be shot.’

K: Who? – they do not.

V: They may say they are completely unselfish, selfless.

K: No Sir, I am not interested in what somebody else says.

V: He may be bluffing himself.

K: As long as I am quite clear in myself, I am not deceiving myself. I can deceive myself the moment I have a measure. When I compare myself with the man with a Rolls-Royce, or with the Buddha, I have a measure. Comparing myself with somebody is the beginning of illusion. When I do not compare, why should I move from there?

V: To be the Self?

K: Whatever I am; which is: I am ugly, I am full of anger, deception, fear, this and that. I start from there and see if it is at all possible to be free of all this. My thinking about God is like thinking about climbing those hills, which I never will.

V: But even so you said something very interesting the other day: the individual and the collective are one. How does the individual realize that unity with the collective?

K: But that is a fact. Here I am living in Gstaad; somebody is living in India, it is the same problem, the same anxiety, the same fear – only different expressions but the root of the thing is the same. That is one point. Second, the environment has produced this individuality and the individuality has created the environment. My greed has created this rotten society. My anger, my hatred, the fragmentation of my life has created the nation and all this mess. So I am the world, the world is me. Logically, intellectually, verbally, it is so.

V: But how does one feel it?

K: That comes only when you change. When you change, you are no longer a national. You do not belong to anything.

V: Mentally I may say I am not a Hindu, or I am not an Indian.

K: But, Sir, that is just a trick. You must feel it in your blood.

V: Please explain what that means.

K: It means, Sir, when you see the danger of nationalism, you are out of it. When you see the danger of fragmentation, you no longer belong to the fragment. We do not see the danger of it. That is all.