Pleasure, pain and the changeless

Q: All this is very interesting, no doubt, but my goal is more simple. I want more pleasure and less pain in life. What am I to do?

M: As long as there is consciousness, there must be pleasure and pain. It is in the nature of the ‘I am’, of consciousness, to identify itself with the opposites.

Q: Then of what use is all this to me? It does not satisfy.

M: Who are you, who is unsatisfied?

Q: I am the pain-pleasure man.

M: Pain and pleasure are both ananda (bliss). Here I am sitting in front of you and telling you — from my own immediate and unchanging experience — pain and pleasure are the crests and valleys of the waves in the ocean of bliss. Deep down there is utter fullness.

Q: Is your experience constant?

M: It is timeless and changeless.

Q: All I know is desire for pleasure and fear of pain.

M: That is what you think about yourself. Stop it. If you cannot break a habit all at once, consider the familiar way of thinking and see its falseness. Questioning the habitual is the duty of the mind. What the mind created, the mind must destroy. Or realise that there is no desire outside the mind and stay out.

Q: Honestly, I distrust this explaining everything as mind-made. The mind is only an instrument, as the eye is an instrument. Can you say that perception is creation? I see the world through the window, not in the window. All you say holds well together because of the common foundation, but I do not know whether your foundation is in reality, or only in the mind. I can have only a mental picture of it. What it means to you I do not know.

M: As long as you take your stand in the mind, you will see me in the mind.

Q: How inadequate are words for understanding!

M: Without words, what is there to understand? The need for understanding arises from mis-understanding. What I say is true, but to you it is only a theory. How will you come to know that it is true? Listen, remember, ponder, visualise, experience. Also apply it in your daily life. Have patience with me and, above all have patience with yourself, for you are your only obstacle. The way leads through yourself beyond yourself. As long as you believe only the particular to be real, conscious and happy and reject the non-dual reality as something imagined, an abstract concept, you will find me doling out concepts and abstractions. But once you have touched the real within your own being, you will find me describing what for you is the nearest and the dearest.

Nisargadatta Maharaj



Questioner: There are so many theories about the nature of man and universe. The creation theory, the illusion theory, the dream theory — any number of them. Which is true?

Maharaj: All are true, all are false. You can pick up whichever you like best.

Q: You seem to favour the dream theory.

M: These are all ways of putting words together. Some favour one way, some favour another. Theories are neither right nor wrong. They are attempts at explaining the inexplicable. It is not the theory that matters, but the way it is being tested. It is the testing of the theory that makes it fruitful. Experiment with any theory you like — if you are truly earnest and honest, the attainment of reality will be yours. As a living being you are caught in an untenable and painful situation and you are seeking a way out. You are being offered several plans of your prison, none quite true. But they all are of some value, only if you are in dead earnest. It is the earnestness that liberates and not the theory.

I Am That, Nisargadatta

Toni Packer: Dying

Most of us are afraid of dying. One can try to combat the fear of death by concentrating on death as a practice. Recently I heard of a monastery where the monks were not supposed to talk at all, except for when they met each other they said, “Remember, brother, that you are going to die.”

What goes on in these people’s minds? What are they doing in this exercise? Essentially the resistance to being here now is the fear of dying and losing all that we know about ourselves our whole history. So can one work with this fear directly, listening openly, vulnerably, dying to ideas as they come up about myself and the world? No idea,
not being anything, no grasping to be somebody, not anything when that happens freely there is no fear of dying, because this is what we really are, what we were before we are born, and what we will be when we die.
It is our true state. Now. There is nothing fearful about it.
Q: Do you ever think about your own death?
Packer: Sometimes. I wonder how it will be. At the moment of dying I will not be the way I am right now, living. There will be a total letting go of the need to continue. I am sure of that. And that takes care of itself.
Q: How can you be so sure?
Packer: More and more the concern about death and dying is totally absent. There is just the vastness of purely being here that knows no story about itself. And then there are times when I am thoroughly enjoying being with somebody, or sharing a wonderful meal, or smelling the new spring flowers. And, at such a moment, thoughts may arise, “Oh, someday I may not have this anymore. This marvelous view here of the
hills and the snow-covered trees.” Then there could be a twinge of either sadness or nostalgia. Seeing that fully is the dying. At the moment of dying you simply do not want things anymore, there is a totally different space.

As miserable as ever

During a serious illness recently the freedom of liberation arose for
several days. There was no ego present at all, just freedom. Then this
faded and left me with only an intellectual memory of it. What do
you think happened to me?
It is possible that all there is to be seen has been seen, but there is
still an idea hanging on that “This isn’t it”. Such an idea can seem
very powerful, but it is still only an idea.
This is fairly common. It usually happens when the individual
is still clinging to a story which goes “If this is liberation, it should
be better than this.”
At this point it might be good to remember some Zen anec-
dotes. There is the story of a monk who said “Now that I’m
enlightened, I’m just as miserable as ever.” There was also a master
who asked a student “Why do you want enlightenment? How do
you know you’d like it?”
Another well-known Zen saying is “Before enlightenment,
chop wood. After enlightenment, chop wood.” In other words,
liberation is simply the seeing that there is no central self. It has
no other necessary implications. Afterwards life goes on but it is
seen that there is no one living it.


It seems that in the boundless energy that is oneness there can also arise a contracted energy which brings about apparent self-awareness. A powerful and convincing sense of self-identity seems to arise together with a belief in personal free will and choice in what is experienced as a real life story. All of these personal experiences can only apparently arise in what seems to be a very real but dualistic reality in which everything appears to be separate. This sense of separation can bring with it a sense of loss and a need to seek guidance, an understanding or a path or process that can promise fulfilment. There are attempts to seek unity which are totally futile because the separate seeker is apparently the very dualism from which it is trying to escape.

Tony Parsons

No one is doing this

I wondered about this, why do we feel so good walking through the meadows? The sparkling grass, the flowers, raindrops hanging from the leaves and branches. Clouds and animals. Why does it feel so healing? So in touch. Is it because a leaf does not think? And therefore does not vibrate with confusion? It’s either a little brown bud, the first green glossy opening of tiny leaves, and now bright yellow, orange and red. There are no regrets here, no wanting. No fearing. Does the leaf want to come out? Is it afraid to turn red? I don’t know, I’ve never been a leaf. Nor a tree. It doesn’t affect one this way. It’s all here the way it is: cracked branches, upright ones, dried, crumpled leaves and nibbled ones. A lot of nibbling has gone on for these leaves. There they are, full of holes, like the finest of lace. Somebody put some out on the dining room table. It was neat to see: nibbled, holy leaves. Almost transparent. No sob story emanating from them.
I’m not denying that there is freedom. Of course there is!
But there is a lot of buzz and fuzz in this thinking organism. Which is no one’s fault. It has evolved this way, and now we’re stuck with it, or we feel we are. Caught up in our thinking, in the emotions triggered by thought and memory, and taking for real what is imagination about ourselves and each other. Imagining the dream to be true! The pain that goes with it, the suffering, or the momentary ecstasy.
Can that buzz of thinking, of imagining, of wanting and fearing, and the organism humming along with it, can it clear up in quiet listening and looking? Be seen for what it is and seen through? Not changed, but seen through. In openness, stillness, emptiness.
Not the words.
Chirping of cicadas and breathing and people moving, leaves rustling and gentle rain dropping… is that thought? Wanting? Or is it just happening, plain and simple, with no one doing it?
No one doing it. No one.
That is all.

Toni Packer

Krishnamurti’s journal 1

The man had been sitting there on the bank of the beautiful
river, motionless; he was there for over an hour. He would come
there every morning, freshly bathed, he would chant in Sanskrit for
some time and presently he would be lost in his thoughts; he didn’t
seem to mind the sun, at least the morning sun. One day he came
and began to talk about meditation. He did not belong to any
school of meditation, he considered them useless, without any real
significance. He was alone, unmarried and had put away the ways
of the world long ago. He had controlled his desires, shaped his
thoughts and lived a solitary life. He was not bitter, vain or
indifferent; he had forgotten all these some years ago. Meditation
and reality were his life. As he talked and groped for the right
word, the sun was setting and deep silence descended upon us. He
stopped talking. After a while, when the stars were very close to
the earth, he said: “That is the silence I have been looking for
everywhere, in the books, among the teachers and in myself. I have
found many things but not this. It came unsought, uninvited. Have
I wasted my life in things that did not matter? You have no idea
what I have been through, the fastings, the self-denials and the
practices. I saw their futility long ago but never came upon this
silence. What shall I do to remain in it, to maintain it, to hold it in
my heart? I suppose you would say do nothing, as one cannot
invite it. But shall I go on wandering over this country, with this
repetition, this control? Sitting here I am conscious of this sacred
silence; through it I look at the stars, those trees, the river. Though
I see and feel all this, I am not really there. As you said the other
day, the observer is the observed. I see what it means now. Thebenediction I sought is not to be found in the seeking. It is time for me to go.”
The river became dark and the stars were reflected on its waters
near the banks. Gradually the noises of the day were coming to an
end and the soft noises of the night began. You watched the stars
and the dark earth and the world was far away. Beauty, which is
love, seemed to descend on the earth and the things of it.

Krishnamurti’s Journal