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It is the same in satsang. I tell people, ‘Enquire, investigate, ask yourself "Who am I?"‘, and they reply, ‘We can’t do it, we can’t do it. We have tried, but it gives us trouble. We get a lot of tension and headaches when we do it.’ Only some rare ones get it. The others fail because their minds are otherwise engaged. I do not know why this is so. I cannot give you any explanation as to why it suddenly works with some people and not with others.


If you keep quiet, you will fall in love with it, that silence and peace. Everybody needs happiness and peace, whatever they are doing. And there can be no happiness, no peace, no love, no beauty in anything except this silence, which is always here and now within you. Therefore I always say that you don’t need any meditation. You need a mind to meditate, and whenever you use your mind, the result has to be mental. You also need your body. You are told to sit in a particular position, with hands and feet positioned in a particular way. Physical activities give you physical results, mental activities, mental results. But what I speak of is beyond the body, beyond the mind. It cannot be approached through mental and physical means.


If some spiritual idea sounds good to you, and you follow it, the result has to be intellectual. So, shun all ideas. Don’t try to approach this silence through physical, mental or intellectual routes. Just give up all notions, all ideas, everything you have heard and read, and you will discover that you are emptiness itself.


David: Many people have tried to be quiet, to be still, but they haven’t succeeded. What are they doing wrong?


Papaji: They should give up the intention to keep quiet. If they can’t keep quiet, I would tell them, ‘Give up the intention to keep quiet’. If they do, what will happen?


David: You frequently tell people, Papaji, to ask themselves ‘Who am I?’ Why does this work when every other method fails?


Papaji: Because this is not a method. Other methods are just clipping the branches, but enquiry strikes at the root, the root of the mind. If you cut a branch, after some time it will grow again. But if you go to the root of the mind and pull out the root, it can never come back. Enquiry uproots the mind. When you inquire ‘Who am I?’, you strike at the root of the mind and destroy it permanently. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that through enquiry you discover that there is no mind at all.


‘I’ is the mind. When you ask yourself ‘Who am I?’, ‘I’ is interrogating itself to find out what is the real nature of mind. No one has ever asked ‘Who am I?’ No one. People are always asking, ‘Who are you? Who is he? Who is she?’ But no one ever asks ‘Who am I?’ When you question yourself like this for the first time, you are not merely striking at the root of the mind, you are striking at the root of all creation because the ‘I’, the mind, is the source of all creation. When you make the enquiry, it is not just the ‘I’ that disappears, creation itself also vanishes. You discover that there is no creator, no creation and no beings created. This ‘Who am I?’ is such a powerful tool. It takes you to the depths of the Self, that place where you discover that neither you nor creation ever existed.


David: Many people have asked themselves ‘Who am I?’ without getting the right answer. Mind still remained. Should they keep on asking till they get the right answer?


Papaji: No, only once. If you do it properly, you only need to ask once. If you do it properly, it will strike at the right place. When you ask ‘Who am I?’ don’t expect any answer. You must get rid of the expectation that you will get an answer. You must not do the enquiry with the intention of getting somewhere, of getting an answer. The purpose of this question is not to get an answer. Rather it is to merge, in the same way that a river merges into the ocean. It doesn’t go to the ocean to remain a river, it goes there to lose itself. In the enquiry ‘Who am I?’, there is a merging into the divinity, into the Self, emptiness itself. Just keep quiet and see what happens.


While doing this enquiry, one must not wait for an answer. When the question is finished, the ‘I’ is also finished. ‘Who am I?’ What can come after this ‘I’? You become That into which the ‘I’ has discharged. That place has to be emptiness.


David: Papaji, you frequently say, ‘Truth exalts a holy person’. You also say that a holy person is one whose mind is spotless, pure, immaculate. And yet at the same time you never ask anyone to make their minds spotless, pure or immaculate. How can truth exalt us if we don’t do anything to make our minds pure, spotless, immaculate?


Papaji: You cannot make the mind pure. Mind itself is dust. You cannot clean dust with dust. Imagine that you have a dusty mirror that you want to clean. You bring more dust and add it to the original layer. This is cleaning the mind – adding dust to the dust. All your attempts to clean the mind through meditation or yoga will fail because they will just add dust to the dust that is already there. So what I say is, ‘Keep quiet’. If you keep quiet you are removing the mirror itself so that no dust can alight anywhere. This is what I mean by holiness. Truth exalts holiness, and you become holy by removing the mirror of the mind.


If you have a mirror in front of you, your face will be reflected in it. This reflection is a spot, an impurity. While that spot is there you are not holy. How to remove the reflection? Simple. You throw away the mirror. What will then happen to the reflection? It will go back to your face. If you throw away the mind for one second, just one second, holiness will reveal itself and you will merge back into that holiness.


Therefore I say, ‘Truth exalts a holy person’. All the objects you see around you are reflections in the mirror of your mind. All objects are dust. Throw away the mirror and there will be no mind, no objects and no dust.


David: Most people, Papaji, think that enlightenment is something which can be achieved after a long period of arduous preparation. What is wrong with this belief?


Papaji: This is wrong from start to finish. Any belief is wrong. Why should you believe in anything? Do you need to believe that you are David Godman? You are very sure about it, no? Do you need to ask someone? Do you go to Madhukar and say, ‘Please tell me where David Godman is. He was living in this house.’


He will tell you, ‘You are David Godman, and this is your house’. How did you lose the certain knowledge and conviction of who you really are? You don’t embark on arduous preparations to find out who you are if you already know who you are. You get attached to wrong ideas. Because you believe them, you end up thinking that you have to do something to be what you already are. You get stuck with these things and forget where your real home is.



The photos in the slide show were all taken during this interview in the Botanic Garden, Lucknow. The cover photo of the book was also taken that day.

David Godman Books


Books by David Godman on Ramana Maharshi, his devotees and his teachings

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