Q: You talk a lot about effort but rarely speak about grace. Don’t you attach much importance to grace?

AS: Grace is important. In fact it is essential. It is even more important than effort. Realization of the Self comes through both effort and grace. When one makes a steady effort to abide in the Self one receives the guru’s grace in abundance. The grace comes not only through the form of one’s guru. When you meditate earnestly all the Jivanmuktas of the past and the present respond to your efforts by sending you blessings of light.

Q: Should one have a strong desire for realization? Is such a desire necessary if we want to do earnest sadhana? Or should we surrender even this desire and just get on with our meditation?

AS: Once, as Narada was going to Vaikunta, he met two sadhus who were doing tapas. They asked him where he was going and he replied, ‘Vaikunta’. They both wanted to know how their tapas was progressing so they asked Narada to ask Vishnu when they would attain liberation. Narada went to Vaikunta and returned with the information.
To the first sadhu he said, ‘You are very close. After four or five more births you will get liberation.’
The sadhu was rather annoyed by his prediction because he felt that he was almost enlightened.
‘I have been doing tapas since my birth,’ he said, ‘and I know that I have done tapas in previous births. Why do I have to wait for four or five births? This prediction cannot be correct.’

Narada said to the second sadhu: ‘You have been doing tapas under a tamarind tree. For you too liberation will eventually come, but first you will have to take as many more births as there are leaves on this tree.’

The second sadhu was very happy to hear this. ‘Moksha is certain for me!’ he exclaimed. ‘It will come one day. Vishnu Himself has guaranteed it!’
At that moment a big wind came and blew all the leaves off the tree. As the last leaf touched the ground he realized the Self.

The sadhu who was patient and contented showed that he had truly surrendered. The other sadhu showed his immaturity through his frustration and his impatience. If you have truly surrendered, you don’t demand realization from God. You are content with whatever He gives you.

Q: It seems that so much time is needed to realize the Self; many lifetimes in fact. For me, realization always seems to be an event in the distant future.

AS: You don’t need hundreds of lives to realize the Self. In fact you don’t need any time at all. Your idea of time is one of the things that is holding you in bondage. Time is one of the properties of the mind. Liberation does not come after a period of time because there is no time in the Self.

Liberation comes when you fully understand and experience there is no one who needs liberation. That understanding and that experience only arise when the mind and its inbuilt ideas of time cease to function. If you think about time and start to worry about how much longer it will be before you realize the Self, your attention will be on the mind and not on the Self. You can only make progress while the mind is on the Self.

Q: You often say that satsang is important. Can I have satsang of Bhagavan even though he is now dead? I am asking this because I once had a powerful experience of his presence while I was in Switzerland. At that time Bhagavan had been dead for many years.

AS: Bhagavan is at all times and in all places. Since he is the Self and not any particular physical form, it is of little importance that the body that we took to be Bhagavan is now dead. Radio waves can be received anywhere. If you tune yourself to Bhagavan’s wave length, which means abiding in the Self, you can be aware of him broadcasting his grace wherever you are.

There is never any separation from Bhagavan. Every atom in the material universe is Bhagavan. Every act which happens in the world is done by Bhagavan alone. Every being, every form is Bhagavan’s form. When you are clearly attuned to Bhagavan you will experience clarity and peace. You will receive guidance wherever you are.

Living by the Words of Bhagavan, p. 288