Q: If you do not mind my asking a personal question...?
M: Yes, go ahead.
Q: I see you sitting on an antelope skin. How does it tally with non-violence?
M: All my working life I was a cigarette-maker, helping people to spoil their health. And in front of my door the municipality has put up a public lavatory, spoiling my health. In this violent world
how can one keep away from violence of some kind or other?
Q: Surely all avoidable violence should be avoided. And yet in India every holy man has his tiger, lion, leopard or antelope skin to sit on.
M: Maybes because no plastics were available in ancient times and a skin was best to keep the damp away. Rheumatism has no charm, even for a saint! Thus the tradition arose that for lengthy meditations a skin is needed. Just like the drum-hide in
a temple, so is the antelope skin of a Yogi. We hardly notice it.
Q: But the animal had to be killed.
M: I have never heard of a Yogi killing a tiger for his hide. The killers are not Yogis and the Yogis are not killers.
Q: Should you not express your disapproval by refusing to sit on a skin?
M: What an idea! I disapprove of the entire universe, why only a skin?
Q: What is wrong with the universe?
M: Forgetting your Self is the greatest injury; all the calamities flow from it.
Take care of the most important, the lesser will take care of itself. You do not tidy up a dark room. You open the windows first. Letting in the light makes everything easy. So, let us wait with improving others until we have seen ourselves as we are — and have changed. There is no need to turn round and round in endless questioning; find yourself and everything will fall into its proper place.
Q: The urge to return to the source is very rare. Is it at all natural?
M: Outgoing is natural in the beginning, ingoing — in the end.
But in reality the two are one, just like breathing in and out are one.
Q: In the same way are not the body and the dweller in the body one?
M: Events in time and space — birth and death, cause and effect — these may be taken as one; but the body and the embodied are not of the same order of reality. The body exists in time and space, transient and limited, while the dweller is timeless and spaceless, eternal and all-pervading. To identify the two is a grievous mistake and the cause of endless suffering.
You can speak of the mind and body as one, but the body-mind is not the underlying reality.
Q: Whoever he may be, the dweller is in control of the body and, therefore, responsible for it.
M: There is a universal power which is in control and is responsible.
Q: And so, I can do as I like and put the blame on some universal power? How easy!
M: Yes, very easy. Just realize the One Mover behind all that moves and leave all to Him. If you do not hesitate, or cheat, this
is the shortest way to reality. Stand without desire and fear, relinquishing all control and all responsibility.
Q: What madness!
M: Yes, divine madness. What is wrong in letting go the illusion of personal control and personal responsibility? Both are in the
mind only. Of course, as long as you imagine yourself to be in control, you should also imagine yourself to be responsible.
One implies the other.
Q: How can the universal be responsible for the particular?
M: All life on earth depends on the sun. Yet you cannot blame the sun for all that happens, though it is the ultimate cause. Light causes the colour of the flower, but it neither controls, nor is responsible for it directly. It makes it possible, that is all.
- Excerpt from: I AM THAT.
Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj.