Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

An Interview with
Ramesh Balsekar

flower picture

The Godfather of Soul Part II

Second Satsang

Part I

Ramesh: Let me begin. What I am saying is that there is only one source, unchanging, eternal - it may be called Consciousness, it may be called energy, it may be called God. But my basic point is that there is one source from which has emerged this totality of manifestation that can be perceived by our senses. And the manifestation is nothing but a totality of objects, therefore the human being cannot essentially be anything other than an object. A human being is a uniquely programmed object through which the source or God functions and brings about such actions as are supposed to happen according to his will or according to a cosmic law.

In other words, what I am saying is, at any moment, the four words in the Bible, 'Thy will be done', is the basic and essential concept in life. Thy will be done. The meaning is very simply that nothing can happen unless it is God's will, you see. So if something has happened, whatever it may be, the human being may decide good, bad or indifferent. But if something has happened, it could not have happened unless it was God's will. That is the basis of what I say.

Paula: In deep sleep, the sense of individuality goes and only impersonal awareness remains. Why don't I experience this impersonal awareness in deep sleep?

R: Because in deep sleep there is no duality. The manifestation exists in the duality. Duality is only in manifestation. So in deep sleep, the impersonal awareness excludes all duality. The impersonal awareness means absence of duality.

P: But I have heard it said that a jnani in deep sleep is aware of deep sleep and I don't understand why that should be.

R: I don't either. Deep sleep is deep sleep. And even in the case of a sage, the identification with the name and form as a 'me' is still there. And that is what comes up as soon as he wakes up.

P: So even if a jnani is in deep sleep and somebody calls his name, he will wake up?

R: Sure. Therefore identification with the name and form is there.

P: So how is deep sleep different to being awake in the waking state?

R: Being awake in the waking state - that is an important point, Paula. Being awake for the sage in the waking state does not mean the dropping away of identification with the name and form. The sage still has to live his life in the world; therefore, there is identification with the name and form as an individual entity, separate from the rest of the world. So the sage has not lost his separation from the rest of the world as an individual entity. He has lost the separation with the rest of the world with this understanding � that his own body-mind organism and all the other separate body-mind organisms are merely objects through which the same energy of Consciousness functions.

So, when the understanding is that it is the same Consciousness or energy or God functioning through my body-mind organism and Paula's mind-body organism, when the understanding is absolutely deep, that means there is no separation. But there is separation as far as the appearance is concerned, as objects are concerned.

P: I have confused personal doership with identification but they are different.

R: Right. So the sage is called by name � he responds, which presumes the identification with a particular name and a particular body. So does the ordinary man. If the sage responds to his name being called and an ordinary man also responds to his name being called, where is the difference? The difference lies in the fact that in the case of an ordinary man, besides the identification with the name and form, there is the deep feeling of personal doership, which is obliterated in the sage. In the case of a sage, there is total acceptance that there is no individual doer, that everything that happens to all the body-mind mechanisms is created by God. The sense of personal doership is removed from the ego, so what remains of the ego after the understanding is mere identification to name and form to enable that individual mind-body organism to live the rest of its life in the world.

P: So if you weren't identified with your body, your name and form, you wouldn't feel the need to feed yourself, clothe yourself, or anything like that. It's the identification with your body that makes you care for it in order for you to continue to live.

R: Yes, and live and do whatever the body is supposed to do, with the understanding that what I think I do is not me doing it, that I am not doing anything. So, to put in different words, the sage as well as the ordinary man participates fully in this movie of life. If there is something tragic, there may be tears in the sage's eyes, like the ordinary person. If there is humour, he will laugh as wholeheartedly as the ordinary man. But the only difference is, while the ordinary man sees life as it happens as real, the sage is never unaware of the screen of reality of Consciousness on which this unreal movie of life is being shown. So, while the sage participates in life, he is never unaware of the screen behind Consciousness or impersonal awareness on which this movie happens.

Third Satsang

P: Why does judgement arise?

R: The basic point, Paula, that I am saying is that once it is possible to accept by the grace of God that no one is the doer, then immediately there is no question of judging anybody. There is no question of judging yourself nor anyone else. And because of that, there is peace. You see, the peace is not to be achieved. Peace is already there but it is covered by continuous conceptualizing, judging, blaming. What goes on from morning till night � conceptualizing, objectivizing, he is doing good, she is doing bad. That is what makes one lose the peace, which is already there. So, it is not a question of achieving peace but it is a question of something leaving that is preventing that peace from being felt. It is astonishing, amazing, how this one simple concept � 'I am not the doer' � that nothing can happen unless it is God's will, brings peace. Thy will be done.

P: You talk about the thinking mind and the working mind. The judgement comes from thinking mind?

R: Thinking mind is the sense of personal doership in the ego.

P: Which still comes from God?

R: The ego itself has been created by God or the source. Why do you suppose, Paula, God has created ego which makes everyone who has the ego so unhappy and uncomfortable? Why do you suppose God created the ego?

P: It enables human beings to manifest in this world?

R: No. For manifestation to happen, the ego is not necessary. The manifestation has happened because the potential energy has activized itself. Consciousness at rest has become Consciousness in movement. The manifestation has arisen and the functioning of manifestation is also a happening as the energized energy or activated Consciousness. The ego has been created by God because, without the ego, life as we know it cannot happen. The Hindu maya, life as it happens, like a movie, like a dream, cannot happen unless there are inter-human relationships � likes and dislikes, hate and love, frustration and fulfilment. So the inter-human relationships cannot happen unless there are egos. Life cannot happen unless there are inter-human relationships and inter-human relationships cannot happen unless there are egos. Therefore, God created egos so that life as we know it can happen.

At the same time, God also started the process of destroying the sense of personal doership in the ego in a limited number of cases. So that life goes on, there are a few people who are seeking the meaning of life or seeking freedom from the very inter-human relationships, which are a cause of misery.

P: But why is it like that? It's a bit like the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Finding a golden ticket in a chocolate bar entitles its finder to go and visit Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. But there are only a handful of golden tickets and it is seemingly by chance that someone can get hold of one.

R: Because if everybody had the chocolate, if everybody had the chocolate of enlightenment, if everybody had the chocolate of understanding that he is not the doer, then the egos wouldn't be there functioning and bringing about inter-human relationships. And if inter-human relationships didn't happen, life wouldn't happen. So it is for life to happen, which is called maya. It is also called God's game.

Now your question is - when Paula suffers, what kind of a game is God's game? Many times Paula is unhappy - do you think that makes God entertained? That is Paula's question, isn't it? The answer is, Paula, it is God who has written the movie, he has written the script for the movie, he has produced and directed the movie, and most importantly, he is playing all the characters in the movie and even witnessing the movie. Where does Paula come in? God is playing all the characters in the movie and it is God as Consciousness who is witnessing whatever is happening through individual body-mind objects, which have been created through which God can enjoy as Consciousness whatever is happening.

P: But if I'm God, why don't I know that or feel it?

R: Because that understanding is clouded, covered, hidden by the ego.

P: By God?

R: By the ego, which has been created by God. As part of life, God has started the process of the destruction of the sense of doership in the ego in a limited number of cases so that life should go on. So, the sage participates in the movie of life � tears may arise if he sees something tragic or he may have a good laugh if there is something comic according to his programming. He witnesses all that and accepts whatever is happening, accepts the misery and the pleasures of life as something happening to that object, which was created by God.

The only question which cannot be answered is on what basis does God allot pleasure and pain in each body-mind organism? On what basis does God bring about whatever happens in life? That is something an individual cannot know for two reasons. For Paula to know God, or whatever you want to call it, Paula has to be the subject and God the object. Therefore in wanting to know what God is doing, Paula has usurped the subjectivity of God and, worse still, turned the pure subjectivity into an object, which the pseudo-subject wants to know. If ever there is an original sin, this is it!

We think God is playing dice with the universe because we do not have the full information that God has. Niels Bohr had a theory of modern physics called the Theory of Uncertainty, which I am told is basically that, at any moment, there are thousands of probabilities about what is to happen through whatever body-mind organism, whether a thought or an action. Out of the thousands of probabilities, one probability collapses and becomes an action - which probability collapses, we don't know but according to Niels Bohr, only God knows. He said it is not like God playing dice with the universe; however it is not possible for us to have all the information, which God has. So we may think that one of the thousands of probabilities collapses into actuality but God knows exactly which probability is going to be turned into an actuality when and where.

Fourth Satsang

P: When Consciousness was at rest, it was whole and complete, One without a second...

R: Yes, there was nothing. When Consciousness was at rest, the energy was in its potential state � there was nothing to become complete or incomplete. Only when the potential energy, the potentiality, activized itself, when Consciousness at rest became Consciousness in movement, everything began.

P: So then Consciousness created something within itself and you say that was a spontaneous happening for some reason?

R: Because it was its nature.

P: So why is it that something contained within Consciousness has no knowledge of itself? Why is it that the subject created an object within itself?

R: The conceptual answer is potential energy activized itself to know itself. Consciousness at rest became Consciousness in movement so that it could know itself.

P: Like a reflection in a mirror?

R: Yes, exactly. For you to see yourself, you take a mirror. Potential energy, the nature of potentiality, is to activize itself. Otherwise it wouldn't be potential, Paula, it would be dead matter. So, the nature of potentiality is to activize itself at sometime and that's what it does. The potential energy activizes itself in a burst of unimaginable energy and then that energy finally exhausts itself. The activization goes back into the potential until the potential activizes itself once more.

P: I can understand the definition but I don't understand why life is like this.

R: Because the activized energy, the basis of activation, is inter-connected opposites, beginning with sage, man and woman, Adam and Eve. The basis of the manifestation and its function is inter-connected opposites. One cannot exist without the other. So, in the Hindu mythology, Siva is the source. So when Siva activized himself into the manifestation, Siva turned himself into Siva-Shakti. Shakti is the power of the female energy. Even according to the Hindu mythology, there is duality � Siva became Siva-Shakti, the male and the female. Since then, everything in the manifestation is inter-connected opposites.

P: I guess my underlying understanding is it is as it is. We can conceptualize it and define it scientifically, but...

R: Yes, the main thing is who is trying to find out? Who is trying to find out? The one who is trying to find out is Consciousness itself. Therefore the seeker is really not someone or something different from what is sought. Consciousness is seeking itself. Consciousness, which has activized itself and become movement, having become activized, wants to know its source. But, in any case, all of it is a concept.


As I listen to Ramesh and look at his face, I turn my attention to a black and white photograph of Ramana Maharshi on the wall behind him. I look back again at Ramesh and realize that they are one and the same, both in body and in essence. I then notice a mug on the table next to Ramesh - 'Best Granddad in the World' it reads on the side. I almost burst out laughing.

Around ten past eleven, the talk conies to an end. Ramesh waves his hand to the door and a small Indian woman comes in. She sits on the floor in front of Ramesh and starts chanting abhangas or bhajans whilst chiming together two small bells. Ramesh closes his eyes and claps his hands and then clicks his fingers to the music as the rest of the room joins in.

Gurur Bramka,Gurur Vishnu Gurur Devo
Maheshwara Gurur Saakshaath Parabramha Tasmai
Shri Guruvenamaha

My Guru is Lord Brahma, Lord Vishu, And Lord Maheshwara (Lord Siva).
My Guru is the Supreme Self Incarnate.
I salute my guru who is God Incarnate.

When the singing comes to an end, a few people get up and kneel in front of Ramesh, namaste, then prostrate themselves with their hands placed on the floor or on Ramesh's naked feet. On every other visit, I have simply sat still and watched this charming ceremony � now I too get up and bow before Ramesh, putting my fingertips on his long worn out toes. 'Thank you, Ramesh,' I say. 'You are most welcome, Paula,' he replies.

As our interview is scheduled for the afternoon, I return to my hotel room in order to rest and prepare myself for our conversation together. This is the final opportunity to air all the doubts and confusions I have about the theory of the teaching. And who better to ask than Ramesh? Indeed, I still feel that my mind needs to be satisfied with knowing the answers to specific intellectual points and although Ramesh would also agree that what he says is still a concept, my mind yearns to crack the metaphysical arguments so that they can finally be put aside and laid to rest, once and for all.

It is now late afternoon. I decide to take a taxi which collects me from the hotel's entrance � a spanking new, black Padmini deluxe I37D, adorned along the dashboard with pictures of Shirdi Baba with a string of mala beads hanging from the rear-view mirror. I want to take some flowers for Ramesh's wife, Sharda, and try and explain to the driver that I need to find a florist. He doesn't understand a word of what I am saying. But I am in luck � one of the few words of Sanskrit that I remember from elementary Sanskrit lessons I took a few years back is pushpum meaning flower. I say it almost proudly � 'pushpum, pushpum', adding a Hindi accent for greater effect. He understands and laughs loudly, whilst his head rotates on its axis, like a spinning gyroscope. We roar off and arrive in the Breach Candy district about half an hour later. There is a flower vendor just outside the Breach Candy Hospital. The driver pulls into a side road and I leap out.

Ramesh greets me as if I were his long-lost granddaughter. I offer my yellow roses to Sharda who is relaxing in the bedroom. She is thrilled and gives me a loving cuddle. Ramesh and I then go and sit down in the lounge and an Indian lady appears with some refreshments. Ramesh offers me a biscuit, takes one for himself and then dunks it into his coffee...

Part III

[Extract taken from The Teachers of One: Conversations on the Nature of Nonduality
by Paula Marvelly]

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012