Questioner: As far as I can see, nothing is amiss with my body or my true self. Both are not my creations and do not need improvement. What has gone awry is the ‘inner body,’ also known as the mind, awareness, or Antahkarana.

Maharaj: What do you believe is wrong with your mind?

Q: It is agitated, ravenous for pleasure, and terrified of the terrible.

M: What’s wrong with focusing on the pleasure and avoiding the unpleasant? The river of life runs between the banks of agony and pleasure. It only becomes a problem when the mind refuses to flow with life and remains trapped at the banks. By flowing with life, I mean accepting what comes and letting go of what goes.

Wish not, fear not, and just witness the real as it occurs, because you are not what happens, but to whom it happens. Finally, you are not an observer. You are the ultimate potentiality, the embodiment and expression of which is the all-encompassing awareness.

Q: Yet there is a cloud of ideas and emotions between the body and the self that neither benefits the body nor the self. These ideas and sentiments are weak, fleeting, and worthless, just mental dust that blinds and chokes, yet they are still there, concealing and destroying.

M: Clearly, an event’s recollection cannot stand in for the event itself. Neither can the expectation. There is something remarkable, something one-of-a-kind about the current occurrence that the prior or the coming do not have. It has a livingness to it, a realism to it; it stands out as though illuminated. The actual bears the stamp of reality,’ but the past and future do not.

Q: What is the stamp of reality on the present?

M: There is nothing unusual about the current incident that distinguishes it from the past and future. For a little while, the past was real, and the future will be as well. What distinguishes the present? Clearly, my presence. I am real because I am constantly here, and what is with me now contributes to my reality. The past is remembered, and the future is imagined. There is nothing in the current situation that distinguishes it as genuine.

It might be a simple, recurring event, such as the clock striking. Although our knowledge that succeeding strokes are similar, the current stroke differs significantly from the prior and subsequent ones – as recalled or predicted. A thing concentrated at the moment is with me because I am always there; it is my own reality that I give to the current occurrence.

Q: Yet we interact with memories as if they were real. M: We only regard memories when they enter the present. The forgotten is not counted until it is remembered — which means that it is brought into the present.

Q: Absolutely, I perceive some unknown force in the present that lends transitory reality to the ephemeral actuality.

M: You don’t need to mention it’s unknown since you see it all the time. Is there anything that has changed since you were born? Objects and ideas are always changing. However, even in a dream, the sensation that what is now real has never altered.

Q: There is no awareness of the current world during profound sleep.

M: The absence of distinct memories is totally responsible for the blankness of profound sleep. Nonetheless, there is a common recall of happiness. There is a distinction between saying ‘I was profoundly sleeping’ and ‘I was absent’.

Q: To return to our original question, there is the mind and its ever-changing states between life’s source and life’s representation (which is the body). The flow of mental states is infinite, pointless, and terrible. The constant component is pain. What we term pleasure is really a pause, a pause between two unpleasant situations. Desire and fear are the thread and weft of life, and both are woven from agony. Our issue is, can a happy mind exist?

M: Fear is the memory of pain, and desire is the memory of pleasure. Both make the mind race. Pleasures are just holes in the stream of misery. How can the mind be content?

Q: It is true whether we want pleasure or anticipate suffering. Yet there are unexpected, unsuspected joys. Absolute bliss, free of desire – unsought, unearned, God-given.

M: Yet, pleasure is only joy when set against the backdrop of grief.

Q: Is pain a cosmic reality or merely psychological?

M: The cosmos is complete, and where there is wholeness, nothing can cause suffering.

Q: The cosmos may be comprehensive in general, but it is lacking in specifics.

M: When seen in connection to the whole, a portion of the whole is also complete. It is only when seen in isolation that it becomes insufficient and consequently a source of suffering. What causes isolation?

Q: Of certainly, mental limitations. The intellect cannot perceive the whole in order to see the portion. M: That’s OK. The intellect, by definition, separates and opposes. Is there another mind that combines and harmonizes, that sees the whole in the part and the part as inextricably linked to the whole?

Q: Where can I find the other mind?

M: Beyond the restricting, dividing, and opposing mind. In putting a stop to the mental process as we know it. That mentality is born when this comes to an end.

Q: Does the dilemma of pleasure and sadness no longer exist in that mind?

M: Not in the way we think of them, as attractive or revolting. It becomes a subject of love-seeking expression and encountering hurdles. The inclusive mind is love in action, striving against the odds, first disappointed but finally triumphant.

Q: Is love the bridge that connects the soul and the body?

M: Is there anything else? The mind builds the gulf, which the heart traverses.