Transcribed & edited from a talk given at the Lonavla Retreat on February 18, 2012

R (Rajivji): Thank you for being here and sharing with me – joy – that we all are.

I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that we are already the Self! There is nothing to do.

And the bad news is that we don’t realize it. There is one thing that keeps us away from Self Realization and that is – ego or ahankar – I am this or I am that …

So, the ego keeps us away from what we already are. Every spiritual aspirant or seeker reads this very often – that it is the ego which is the main culprit. He visits Masters and even they say, “Drop the ego”. When the ego is dropped, the Self rises.

Hence, every seeker is anxious to drop the ego. And most questions from a seeker are about this – “How do I drop the ego?”

The ego cannot be dropped! Why can’t the ego be dropped?

Who is dropping the ego? Who wants to drop the ego? Or rather, who is trying to drop the ego?

There is a story I thought about which I want to tell you. There was a very rich but miserly merchant who would not part with his money. He was very ill and was going to die. So he tried everything that he could to get better – all kinds of medicines and methods – but nothing worked. Someone told him to visit a sage with miraculous powers, who could cure him of his disease. So this man goes to the sage and tells him that he wants to get cured of this illness so that he can live longer. The sage says that it is possible.
The man asks, “Tell me what I should do? What medicines should I have? What pujas should I perform? I am ready to do any pujas and can do anything, just relieve me of my suffering so that I can prolong my life.”

The sage replies, “You don’t have to do anything, you can get relief right now.”


The sage answers, “I see a diamond ring on your finger. There is a well next to my house, my kutiya, just drop this diamond ring into the well. It is very simple, I promise you.”

So the man goes off to do this with so much reverence and thinks that he will be fine now. When he walks towards the well, because of his miserly tendencies, he starts thinking – “Is he making a fool out of me? Maybe if I drop the ring in the well someone will secretly fish it out of the well and take it, who knows?” He says, “But, let me try. After all, I’ve come all the way to see him and it is such a long journey. He must be a Jnani, a yogi, he is known to be a great person. Let me do it and see what happens.”

So he goes to the well. He removes his ring and as he releases it with one hand, the other hand quickly catches it before it goes down into the well. The man thinks, “Are you sure you want to do this?” But reconsiders – “No, no, I must drop it. If I have to live I must have complete faith in this sage otherwise it will not work. I must let go of this diamond ring.”

Again, one hand releases the ring and the other hand catches hold of it as it falls. So this goes on and on.

The question is, who is the one who is dropping the ring? Fear – the fear that he is going to die.

And who is the one who is catching hold of it? Greed. The doubt and the greed that makes him hold on to it.

The greed and the fear are components of the mind. So I say – you cannot drop the ego! Every time you try to drop it, the mind reinforces the ego again. It is nothing but the movement of the mind to drop the ego.

The mind is a master of camouflage, a master of disguise. Sri Ramana gave a very good example. The mind is disguised as a policeman, but actually he is the King of thieves and the ego is his servant. The main person is the policeman, the mind – he is the master of ego; he is the father of the ego. Is he not the father of the ego?

What is ego? When do you first feel that you have ego? When do you first get the feeling of ‘I’?

P (Participant): When you wake up in the morning.

R: Absolutely. When you wake up from your sleep, the I-ness comes. Before I- ness comes, the mind has appeared. When the mind is not there, the world is not there, there is no ‘I’. In deep sleep do you have any knowledge of ‘I’? No. Except that there is a blank and there is happiness. There is deep rest in deep sleep. But the moment you get up in the morning the identification starts, and the identification is brought about by the mind. The mind appears first. When the identity appears that ‘I am so and so’, with that the world also appears to you.

So I say – forget about the ego, forget about dropping the ego! Catch the master – the mind – because, if you catch the mind, if you catch the gang leader, small time thieves are not going to do anything.

So my next question is – what is mind? What is your first awareness of mind?

P1: Space.

P2: Thoughts.

R: Thoughts. Space comes later. The mind is the various thoughts you identify with – ‘I am going to office’, ‘I am going to work’, ‘My boss always harasses me’, ‘Now this is going to happen’… These are various thoughts you entertain and you identify with them and that has become the mind. So the first awareness of mind is of thoughts.

So, can I understand thought? Can I try and observe and understand thought? Thought is the first component of the mind. What happens when you see thought? So far you were identified with thoughts and you were going with the movement of thoughts and that has become the mind; that has become ‘you’. The thoughts are dictating you and you have become the mind.
When you start to observe or witness thoughts, you find yourself before thoughts. You say, ‘I am the witnesser of thought’. Your centre has gone prior to thought.

As I look at the thought, even when I am in the middle of thought, there is no thought! The mere looking at thought is no-thought. Think about it. Anytime if there is an identification with thought, just look at the thought. It stops in the middle of the thought-sentence.

So then what happens? I have become the witness of my thought: I-thought. And then: I-gap-thought. I witness a gap in the thoughts. There will be a gap and then the thought. It is not that thoughts are going to end. Thoughts will keep coming, they are meant to come. You are not stopping thought, just looking at thought, being a witnesser of thought.

So now there is: thought-gap-thought … thought- gap-thought … thought–gap– thought … thought —gap— thought … thought —– gap —— thought.

Something is becoming bigger than thought. The space is getting bigger than the thought. The interval between two thoughts is getting longer and longer.

So I achieve this in two ways – one by voluntarily stopping the thought; I will it. I stop the thought and I feel a gap which is also called space. It is the same thing.

Or, I simply look at thought; I witness the thought at regular intervals. Still it is going to be space or a gap between thoughts.

A time will come when the gap will be longer than the thoughts. But that does not mean that the thoughts will stop. What will happen is that the space is NOT a gap will be realized. It is NOT a space between two thoughts. Actually, it is the background of thoughts. It is not a gap. It appears as a gap first, but later on, the space becomes the background, a still awareness. And there is only going to be this gap, huge space and on that these little tiny thoughts will appear and disappear, almost like waves in an ocean. So what is realized as a gap becomes bigger and bigger, and then there is a realization – that this is not a gap, this is space, a background space on which all thoughts are falling and rising, falling and rising.

So, I can look at my thoughts or stop my thoughts and I can recognize that background space right here, and look. I can do it right here if I have an expansive view of everything that is here at this very moment, which means, bringing many objects you see at this moment, in your present state of awareness; not one or two, but many objects. Look with a long shot. It is like swallowing all objects in that space. There is that stillness and in that still space everything is rising and falling. I have only to recognize that again and again, that’s all.

I just relax myself in that still state of awareness, in that space. I find myself one with it. Slowly that space grows. The certitude, the recognition of that space is so profound that all I see is space – even though it is from my senses. All my five senses are only seeing space; all my five senses are only melting into space.

And may I ask you what separates you and me, right here – space! A part of space touches me, a part of space touches you. And that space is the bond of love between you and me, between each of you. And where there is love, there is no ego. Remember, if something touches you – space, and that space touches me, we are that. All of us are connected, all objects are connected, through space, and I find myself in you and you find yourself in me and may I ask you what that is? Love. So I become one with you through space; it connects both of us. I become one with everything through space – mountains, rivers, chairs, tables, sinner or saint, woman or man, doesn’t matter. I am connected.

And when I become everything, where is my I-ness? The ego has not been dropped. It is automatically gone, because I have recognized something prior to it – the recognition of space which connects me to everyone.

Now, when I close my eyes, there is no space as I saw it before. There is space, but not the brightly lit space that I can see with open eyes. I don’t see objects when I close my eyes; the objects have disappeared. Everything disappears when I close my eyes. What I see is a black void. Blankness, that’s all. But the same stillness is still available there, not in the form of brightly lit space, but in the form of a dark void, a dark, blank void. The brightness is gone, objects have gone, everything is gone, and there is nothing. When I turn my senses inside which were projecting outside as love, inside they have become a blank, zero, nothing, a void.

Now, I see all my thoughts there again when I close my eyes. I see the stories that I have invented, I see my emotions, all the images that come and go, but again I recognize that one space that I saw outside of me has taken the form of a void inside of me. It is still falling on a still awareness; the only thing is that it has changed its appearance.

Let’s say you have a mirror and there is dust accumulated on it. The reflection is not good due to the dust and I can’t see what’s in it clearly. So I take a cloth and
wipe it. Now the reflection is very clear, the object is seen, it is beautiful. Christy looks beautiful in the mirror, everyone looks beautiful in the mirror. While there is light, the reflection is perfect. While there is bright light, because of the smooth, shiny surface of the mirror, the image is very beautiful.

But, let’s say at night, there is no light, there is absolute darkness. There is no image in the mirror, the images have gone. But can you say that the mirror is tainted? No, it is still shiny and clear, but it just doesn’t have the light to reflect, but, it is the same mirror. The dust is gone.

Similarly, when you close your eyes and see blankness, the inside awareness of the mirror is intact. It is shiny, clear, untainted. It is ready to reflect when there is light. ‘Ready to reflect’ means that the moment there is the waking state, it is ready to show a clear image of love. And when it is in a state of void, beyond the waking state, it may be dark, but it is still clear, shiny and smooth.

That is your mind. The only thing missing are the images, that’s all. But awareness is intact. It has not gone. And when I go deep enough, I feel the stillness, the same stillness, carried to my waking and to my dream and deep sleep states, I realize that I am that blankness, that nothingness. I am nothing.

So, when I am nothing, where is the ego? Is there an ego? When I am something, then there is ego. When I open my eyes, I am everything, so no ego, because I am everything. My individual identity is not there, I am you and you and the oceans and the mountains, I am everything. I find my centre in everything when I open my eyes – through space. And when I close my eyes, I find that I am nothing. So my life goes from everything to nothing. Where is the ego then? There is no ego. Between these two my life revolves – from everything to nothing.

Love is … when there is love, the ego is not there, both cannot be there. If you want to know your progress, there is only one barometer – is there love in your heart? No matter how much you are suffering, no matter who is causing you suffering, forget about it, is there love in your heart or not? If there is love, there is no ego. Both cannot be there together.

I remember a doha (a couplet) by Kabir. He says:

“Jab main tha, tab Hari nahin. Ab Hari hai, to main nahin. Prem gali ati sankari. Is mein do na samahi.”

This means:

“When I was, God was not. If God is, then I am not. The street of love is very narrow. Two cannot pass at the same time.”

Only Love can pass. Prem gali… The street of Love is very narrow. Only one can walk through and that is the path of Love.

Many of you are full of love. I see that – so much love. When it goes to such uncontainable levels that you cannot contain it, there is no room for ego to come in; because all you’ll find is Love, the fragrance of Love, through you.

~Rajiv Kapur

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