(98) SELF (ATMAN)
25th February, 1947
This morning a Gujarati lady arrived from Bombay with her husband and children. She was middle-aged, and from her bearing she appeared to be a cultured lady. The husband wore khaddar, and appeared to be a congressman. They seemed to be respectable people by the way they conducted themselves.
They all gathered in the Hall by about 10 a.m., after finishing their bath, etc. From their attitude it could be seen that they intended to ask some questions. Within fifteen minutes or so they began asking as follows:
Lady: Bhagavan! How can one attain the Self?
Bhagavan: Why should you attain the Self?
Lady: For shanti (peace).
Bhagavan: So! Is that it? Then there is what is called peace, is there?
Lady: Yes! there is.
Bhagavan: All right! And you know that you should attain it. How do you know? To know that, you must have experienced it at some time or other. It is only when one knows that sugarcane is sweet, that one wishes to have some.
Similarly, you must have experienced peace. You experience it now and then. Otherwise, why this longing for peace? In fact we find every human being is longing similarly for peace; peace of some kind. It is therefore obvious that peace is the real thing, the reality; call that ‘shanti’, ‘soul’, or ‘Paramatma’ or ‘Self’ — whatever you like. We all want it, don’t we?
Lady: Yes! But how to attain it?
Bhagavan: What you have got is shanti itself. What can I say if some one asks for something which he has already got? If it is anything to be brought from somewhere, effort is required.
The mind with all its activities has come between you and your Self. What you have to do now is to get rid of that.
Lady: Is living in seclusion necessary for sadhana, or is it enough if we merely discard all worldly pleasures?
Bhagavan merely answered the second part of the question by saying, “renunciation means internal renunciation and not external,” and kept silent.
The dinner gong sounded from the dining hall.
What can Bhagavan reply to the earlier part of the last question of this lady who has a large family? She is also educated and cultured. Bhagavan used to speak similarly to householders; and there is a ring of appropriateness about it. After all, is internal or mental renunciation so easy as all that? That is why Bhagavan merely replied that renunciation means internal renunciation and not external.
Perhaps the next question would have been, “what is meant by ‘internal renunciation’?” and there would have been a reply if the dinner gong had not intervened. I returned to my abode where I live in seclusion. You see God has allotted to each individual what is apt and appropriate.
Did Bhagavan ever ask me, “Why are you living alone?” Or did he mention it to anybody else? Never. If you ask why, it is because this is appropriate to the conditions of my life.