You Invent Your Reality

Fire and Ice

We want

Q: I have always been told that mankind has a certain purpose in creation. But ever since I have read your books, I have begun to wonder whether this is true.

UG: You are the one to answer that question. We don't give a tinker's damn, to use that harsh expression, to what others have said about it? How does it matter whether what they have said is true or not. It is up to you to find out. I can say that there is no purpose, and if there is any purpose, we have no way of knowing it. We only repeat what we have been told. We are made to believe that there is a purpose, and that belief is what is responsible for the tragedy of mankind today. We have also been made to believe that we are created for a grander purpose, for a nobler purpose, than all the species on this planet. This is not all. We are also told that the whole creation was created for the benefit of man: that's why we have created all these problems - ecological problems and problems of pollution. Now, we are almost at a point where we are going to blow ourselves up. The planet is not in danger, but we are in danger. You can pollute this planet and do all kinds of things; the planet can absorb everything - even these human bodies. If we are wiped out, nature knows what to do with the human bodies. It recycles them to maintain the energy level in the universe. That's all it is interested in. So, we are no more purposeful or meaningful than any other thing on this planet. We are not created for any grander purpose than the ants that are there or the flies that are hovering around you or the mosquitoes that are sucking your blood. I can say all this, but what do the you have to say? That is more important than what I have to say. We really don't know. We have no way of knowing anything. Even the scientists - they can say what they like. How does it interest us? It does not really matter as to how this whole universe was created - whether God created it, or the whole thing came out of some dust and pebbles, or hydrogen atoms somewhere. It is for the scientists to talk about all this, and every now and then come up with new theories. They will be amply rewarded and given Nobel prizes. But the theories don't help us to understand anything. So I really don't know if there is any purpose. I don't think that there is any. I do not see any meaning or purpose in life. A living thing, a living organism is not interested in asking the question, "What is the purpose of life? What is the meaning of life?"

Q: Does it matter if you create your own purpose?

UG: We are not satisfied with the daily grind of our lives, doing the same thing over and over again. We are bored. So boredom is responsible for asking the question, "What is the purpose?" Man feels that if this is all that is there, what more is there for him to do?

Q: That is how the problem is created.

UG: You create a problem and then try to solve it. That's what we are all doing. You enjoy your problems. Why not ?

Q: No.

UG: Enjoy them.

Q: Enjoy them?

UG: But don't go to a therapist. Don't go to a!

Q: Where do we go then?

UG: He will take a hundred dollars. I don't know what the charge is here. Probably more in this country. They tell you how to fit into the value system that is created by our culture or society. That is really the human problem. The one very basic question which every intelligent man and woman should ask for himself or herself is, "What kind of a human being do I want on this planet?" Unfortunately, the religious thinking of man for centuries has placed before us the model of a perfect being. Nature is not interested in a perfect being. Nature is not interested in the cultural input there [in us]. That's the battle that is going on in the form of the demand of the society or culture to fit everybody into its value system. That is really the cause of man's tragedy. It is not a question of destroying the value system or revolting against it. It is the impossibility of fitting yourself into that framework created by your culture that is really the problem. Thought is the real enemy. Thought can only create problems; it cannot solve them.

Q: People are bored....

UG: You are bored. Are you not bored?

Q: Yes, I am bored.

UG: ....because thought is a repetitive process. It repeats itself over and over again. It is wearing you out.

Q: You said that if we get bored we invent something or other.

UG: You create all sorts of things.

Q: But animals do not get bored.

UG: No, Not at all.

Q: Why does man get bored?

UG: Because man imagines that there is something more interesting, more meaningful, more purposeful to do than what he is actually doing. Anything you want above the basic needs creates this boredom for the human being. But you get the feeling, "Is that all?"

Nature is interested in only two things - to survive and to reproduce one like itself. Anything you superimpose on that, all the cultural input, is responsible for the boredom of man. So we have varieties of religious experience. You are not satisfied with your own religious teachings or games; so you bring in others from India, Asia or China. They become interesting because they are something new. You pick up a new language and try to speak it and use it to feel more important. But basically, it is the same thing.

Q: Christianity tells us to develop our talents. But you need no talent to reproduce.

UG: No talent is required to reproduce. Nature has done a tremendous job in creating this extraordinary piece - the body. The body does not want to learn anything from culture. It doesn't want to know anything from us. We are always interested in telling this body how to function. All our experiences, spiritual or otherwise, are the basic cause of our suffering. The body is not interested in your bliss or your ecstasies. It is not interested in your pleasure. It is not in interested in anything that you are interested in. And that is the battle that is going on all the time. But there seems to be no way out.

Q: But if everybody wants to go back to the original state....

UG: What is the original state ?

Q: I don't know!

UG: It's already there. You don't have to do a thing to go back to the original state.

Q: How can you go to that frame of mind? We believe that we have to do something to go back to that state?

UG: Your doing something to go back to your original state is what is taking you away from it. The original state is already there and is expressing itself in an extraordinarily intelligent way. The acquired intellect is no match to the intelligence that is there.

Q: Somehow we still do not trust....

UG: "Somehow," you say. That is the cultural input.

Q: We have lost touch with the original state somewhere.

UG: ....because culture or society has placed before us the model of a perfect being. Nature does not imitate anything. It does not use anything as a model.

Q: So you can say that all the approaches that mankind has developed to reach the original state is leading man away from it.

UG: They haven't worked nor have they touched anything there.

Q: I agree with that. But still can you not give us a model?

UG: What is the point in placing before you another model? It will be the same.

Q: Where does it all lead us? [Laughter]

UG: It leads you to where you actually stand, and therefore the questions. . . .

Q: Asking questions about all this is wrong?  

UG: Don't ask this question. You have no questions, and I have no questions. I have no questions at all other than the basic questions we need to ask. I am here and I want to get the bearings of this place. So I want to go and find out. I ask "Where is this station?" If I want to go to London, I ask, "Where is the British Airways office?" These are the basic questions we need to ask to function sanely and intelligently in this world. We do have to accept the reality of the world as it is imposed on us. Otherwise we will go crazy. If you question the reality of anything that is imposed on you, you are in trouble, because there is no such thing as reality, let alone the ultimate reality. You have no way of experiencing the reality of anything.

Q: Well, we have invented reality....

UG: We have invented reality. Otherwise you have no way of experiencing the reality of anything - the reality of that person sitting there, for instance, or even [the reality of] your own physical body. You have no way of experiencing that at all except through the help of the knowledge that has been put in you. So, there may not be any such thing as reality at all, let alone the ultimate reality. I do have to accept the fact that you are a man, that she is a woman. That is all. There it stops. But what is the reality you are talking about?

Q: Of course, she is a woman. We give a reality to it.

UG: [Laughter] If you question that, you would be in trouble. You will lose your woman and the woman will lose you. [Laughter] You are not ready for that.

Q: So being born, you have to be taught....

UG: Are you sure that you are born? [Laughter] We have been told that.

Q: We have been told; that's all. [Laughter] We take it for granted.

UG: We take it for granted. You have no way of finding out the fact that you were born on a particular day. What you are not ready to accept is that you are a thing exactly like a computer. You are so mechanical. Everything is put in there. There is nothing which you can call your own. I don't have any thought which I can call my own. What I want to emphasize to those who come to see me is that thoughts are not really spontaneous. They are not self-generated. They always come from outside. Another important thing for us to realize and understand is that the brain is not a creator. It is singularly incapable of creating anything. We have taken for granted that there it is something extraordinary, creating all kinds of things that we are so proud of. It is just a reactor and a container. It plays a very minor role in this living organism.

Q: We are not creating things....

UG: You are not creating. The brain is only a computer. Through trial and error you create something. But there are no thoughts there. There is no thinker there. Where are the thoughts? Have you ever tried to find out? What there is is only about thought but not thought. You cannot separate yourself from a thought and look at it. What you have there is only a thought about that thought, but you do not see the thought itself. You are using those thoughts to achieve certain results, to attain certain things, to become something, to be somebody other than what you actually are. I always give the example of a word-finder. You want to know the meaning of a word and press a button. The word-finder says, "Searching." It is thinking about it. If there is any information put in there, it comes out with it. That is exactly the way you are thinking. You ask questions and if there are any answers there, they come out. If the answers are not there, the brain says "Sorry." It is no different from a computer.

Q: You said that you went around just to find out about the surroundings.

UG: To learn about my bearings so that I may not get lost here. Even a dog does that. I am no different from a dog. A dog knows its way back home. It knows its master. So I am just like an animal.

Q: When I was a little kid my parents and the people around told me about the bearings of my culture. I was trained not to question them.

UG: They don't want you to question. They force on us everything they believed in, even the things they themselves did not believe, the things that did not operate in their lives. There is no use blaming them now. We are adults. So we don't have to blame them. This is a silly idea, the Freudian idea that for everything that is happening your mother is responsible, or your father is responsible. We are all grown-up people. There is no point in blaming our mothers and fathers. Actually, it is not a one-way street. Even children want to be accepted by us. We force them to fit into this framework, and they want to be accepted by us. This is a two-way traffic.

I have said a lot. Nice meeting you all and goodbye. I repeat the same thing again and again in ten different ways.

Q: Only ten?

UG: Or a hundred different ways. [Laughter] I have acquired a rich vocabulary. You can use different words to say the same thing. That's it. Isn't that enough? Bye-bye.

Q: So there is no way of seeing what I think I see.

UG: You never see anything. The physical eye does not say anything. There is no way you can separate yourself from what you are looking at. We have only the sensory perceptions. They do not tell anything about that thing - for example, that it is a camera. The moment you recognize that it is a camera, and a Sony camera at that, you have separated yourself from it. So what you are actually doing is translating the sensory perceptions within the framework of the knowledge you have of it. We never look at anything. It is too dangerous to look because that `looking' destroys the continuity of thinking.

We project the knowledge we have of whatever we are looking at. Even if you say that it is an object without giving a name, like, for example, camera, knowledge has already come in. It is good for a philosophy student to talk about this everlastingly, separating the object from the word, or separating the word from the thing. But actually, if you say that it is an object, you have already separated yourself from it. Even if you don't give a name to it, or recognize it as something, or call it a camera, a video camera, you have already separated yourself from it.

All that is already there in the computer. We are not conscious of the fact that we have all that information locked up there in the computer. Suddenly it comes out. We think it is something original. You think that you are looking at it for the first time in your life. You are not. Supposing somebody tells you that this is something new, you are trying to relate what he calls new to the framework of the old knowledge that you have.

Q: So if it is not in the computer, you cannot see it.

UG: You cannot see. If the information is not already there, there is no way you can see. [Otherwise] there is only a reflection of the object on the retina. And even this statement has been given to us by the scientists who have done a lot of observation and research. There is no way of experiencing the fact of that for yourself, because the stimulus and response are one unitary movement. The moment you separate yourself, you have created a problem. You may talk of the unity of life or the oneness of life, and all that kind of stuff and nonsense. But there is no way you can create that unitary movement through any effort of yours. The only way for anyone who is interested in finding out what this is all about is to watch how this separation is occurring, how you are separating yourself from the things that are happening around you and inside of you. Actually there is no difference between the outside and the inside. It is thought that creates the frontiers and tells us that this is the inside and something else is the outside. If you tell yourself that you are happy, miserable, or bored, you have already separated yourself from that particular sensation that is there inside of you.

Q: So by naming our sensations, our physical processes....

UG: We maintain the separation and keep up a non-existing identity. That is the reason why you have to constantly use your memory, which is nothing but the neurons, to maintain your identity.

Q: And the cells react to what we think?

UG: The cells are wearing out. That's why I say that the tragedy that is facing mankind is not AIDS or cancer, but Alzheimer's disease. We are using the neurons, our memory, constantly to maintain our identity. Whether you are awake or asleep or dreaming, this process is carried on. But it is wearing you out.

You experience what you know. Without the knowledge you have no way of experiencing anything. There is no such thing as a new experience at all. When you tell yourself that it is a new experience, it is the old that tells you that it is a new experience. Otherwise, you have no way of saying that it is something new. It is the old that tells you that it is new. And through that it is making it part of the old.

The only way it [the experience] can maintain its continuity is through the constant demand to know. If you don't know what you are looking at, the `you' as you know yourself, the `you' as you experience yourself, is going to come to an end. That is death. That is the only death, and there is no other death.

Q: That's terrifying....

UG: That is terrifying - the fear of losing what you know. So actually, you don't want to be free from fear. You do not want the fear to come to an end. All that you are doing - all the therapies and techniques that you are using to free yourself from fear, for whatever reason you want to be free from fear - is the thing that is maintaining the fear and giving continuity to it. So you do not want the fear to come to an end. If the fear comes to an end, the fear of what you know comes to an end. You will physically drop dead. A clinical death will take place.

Q: How can you be physically dead if you merely lose some thoughts?

UG: When once the `I' is gone, there is no way of experiencing your own body anymore. You have no way of knowing whether you are alive or dead. You will never be able to tell yourself, "This is my body." If you ask me, "Is that your body or my body?" I may say, "This is my body," just to communicate to you, differentiate and say that it is not your body but my body. But the fact that this is my body is something which cannot be experienced at all.

This body is not concerned about what you think, feel, or experience. All feelings are thoughts. There is no way you can feel anything without giving a name to it.

Q: So you say this process of naming is constant.

UG: Any movement anywhere - you can't leave that alone. You have to name it.

Q: Because there is identity involved in it.

UG: Yes. You can't lose your identity. It's too dangerous. If you don't know what you are looking at, you are going to be in trouble. You may tell yourself that you don't know what you are looking at, but if you are looking at your girl and tell yourself that you do not know [her], that is the end of the whole story. It's too dangerous. Don't play with that kind of thing. You can sit there and look at the camera and say, "I don't know what I am looking at." But that's a trick. You create a state of mind and believe that you don't know what you are looking at. But actually, in a given situation, if you don't know what you are looking at, there is trouble. So you dare not put yourself in that situation. You can only play games with it.

Q: Is that what is meant by illusion?

UG: No. Even if you say it is an illusion you are giving a name to it.

Q: Yes.

UG: You see, in India, they call the word illusion, `maya'. `Maya' means `to measure'. But there is no way you can measure anything unless there is a space, and there is a point [of reference] here. The moment thought takes its birth there, that is the point, and you create another point and try to measure. So thought creates a space. And anything you experience from that point is an illusion. If you say that somebody coming with a gun to shoot you is an illusion, you are a damn fool. You have to protect yourself. It doesn't mean that the whole world is an illusion. Not at all. Whatever you experience of the world, or of yourself as an entity, is an illusion because that experience is born out of the knowledge that is put in there. Otherwise, you have no way of experiencing the reality of anything.

Q: If you have a different background you have a different experience?

UG: No. It doesn't really mean it is different. It depends upon what you are interested in. In a computer, for example, a scientist puts in scientific data, a business man puts in business data, and an artist puts in something else. But the functioning of the computer is the same.

Q: And that determines ....

UG: The print-out is the result of what is put in there. It depends upon your particular interest. You may be a mathematician, a scientist, or a writer.

Q: So if you change the input or material....?

UG: No. If you change the material, you replace it with some other material. You get whatever you are interested in.

Q: So, it is a purely physical thing. What can you do to change this?

UG: We have not succeeded in changing anything there. You don't realize that all your attempts to bring about change are total failures. What an amount of energy you put into it!

Q: It is not really true because ....

UG: You feel good because you have given up meat-eating.

Q: Yes.

UG: Sure, you feel good and enjoy that. What's the difference? Why do you have to feel so good because you have given up meat-eating?

Q: It's a physical feeling. I feel better.

UG: I don't know - that may be psychological, Sir, if I could use that word. If you want to go back to eating meat, then it is a different story. If there is a craving, it creates a problem. If there is no craving, what's the difference whether you eat meat or vegetables? One form of life lives on another form of life. How many millions of bacteria are crawling all over your body - the flora and the fauna? You will be surprised, if they are magnified. They are as big as cockroaches. [Laughter] They live on you. When it becomes a corpse, they will have a field day on this body.

Q: If it is only physical....

UG: What else is there?

Q: I shall eat good food so that they can have a field day.

UG: That is your particular fancy. You want to eat macrobiotic food, and someone else wants to eat something else. What's the difference? The body can live on sawdust and glue. You should shoot all these nutritionists on sight and at sight! These commercials sell you all kind of things.

Q: They are making a living out of that.

UG: Let them make a living, but we are the sufferers.

Q: They say that if you don't eat food for 14 days you will die.

UG: There is no death for this body. After three days there is no way you can feel the hunger. What is hunger after all? The level of glucose goes down. After two or three days you don't feel hungry. The body starts living on itself.

Q: When you start having water or food, then changes take place.

UG: You need to drink water. Otherwise, after seventy two hours you are gone. Dehydration takes place. Because eighty percent of the body is water. Not only there, in every plant and in every form of life. Even on this planet as a whole eighty percent is water.

Q: Why should we feed the body?

UG: Yes, why should we feed the body? The body is not concerned. The body needs some energy, and that energy you can have from anything you eat. Sawdust is enough for it, without the health food and vitamin C, or your brown rice and seaweed.

Q: I think the body will definitely suffer.

UG: Not at all. That is your feeling, your idea. It doesn't give a damn. You put ideas in your stomach. First of all you eat ideas .... [Laughter]

Q: Most people eat menus....

UG: You can eat good ideas. Good luck to you. I am surviving without eating vitamins. I don't eat vegetables. I don't eat fruit. I don't eat brown rice. I have survived seventy three years. What's wrong with me?

Q: But we are more human....

UG: I am also human, more human than most humans are.

Q: I agree. [Laughter]

UG: I don't eat ideas, I don't wear names.

Q: If you were a lion and hungry, would you eat meat?

UG: If I am that hungry now, I will probably kill you and eat you, like a cannibal! [Laughter] You have been feeding this body with macrobiotic diet. It will do more harm than good. The body knows what is good for it. If it doesn't like some food, it rejects it.

Q: Is alcohol good for the body?

UG: Alcoholism is genetically programmed, you know?

Q: There is a belief that certain types of food are good for human beings and certain other types for animals.

UG: You can believe whatever you want to believe. Someone else believes something else. It is the belief that matters to people. You replace one belief with another. You are brought up on meat. Then why should you eat macrobiotic diet today? You have changed from one belief to another belief and you feel good. Feel good and enjoy. Enjoy your brown rice.

Q: May I ask you another question? Don't you think that we must think positively?

UG: Thinking is either positive or negative. As long as you think, it is either positive thinking or negative thinking. When once the positive approach fails, you have invented what is called negative thinking; but the goal is exactly the same.

Q: But you said that although we experience the world as an illusion, it is not an illusion.

UG: No. I am not saying that you experience the world as an illusion. What I am saying is that the way you are experiencing things through the help of the knowledge that is put in you is not the way. And you have no way of finding out anything other than that.

Q: But at the same time it is a reality.

UG: Look, the body is responding to stimuli. It is a living thing. By calling something `beautiful', you have already destroyed it. You have put the whole thing in a frame by calling it beautiful. If you don't say it is beautiful, it is having an effect on this body. The body is responding to the stimulus there. You take a deep breath. That's all.

Q: Then why does the same not hold for food?

UG: You put in more ideas. You have put ideas into the whole thing. The moment you ask, "How to live" and "What to eat?" you have created a problem.

Q: I believe that there is a certain thing as human food. But there is no culture or religion there.

UG: No, no. Everything is cultural. All your tastes are cultivated tastes. The body does not know what you are eating. Even the salt is not salty as far as the body is concerned.

Q: If we had not eaten rice and vegetables, we would not have developed the brains we have developed right now.

UG: My brain and your brain are not different. The brain of a genius is no different from yours. They have found out that the brain of Einstein is no different from that of a low grade moron. [Laughter] It seems that they examined it after his death. They stored it. You will be surprised, it is no different from a walnut. [Laughter] You eat your macrobiotic food and enjoy, Sir. Don't bother about all this.

Q: Oh well, I have enjoyed myself.

UG: How long you will enjoy is anyone's guess. Once a friend of mine invited me and fed me macrobiotic food. I have not yet recovered from that. It was fifty three years ago.

Q: You eat rice then....

UG: I don't eat rice even in India.

Q: On the video I saw you eating.

UG: Those who are feeding me know that I don't eat rice. It doesn't matter.

Q: I believe that mankind is what it is now because of the food it has been eating.

UG: I don't think so. If you think so, it's fine with me. The problem is you eat more than what the body needs. It's the overeating that is the problem.

Q: What about brown rice?

UG: Brown rice! The look of it will make me sick! I raised my son on milled rice, double polished and triple polished rice. [Laughs] He is working in a nuclear submarine somewhere in United States. He is an electronics technician. He is healthier than most health food freaks. Now, of course, he eats meat. He eats even human flesh - anything he can get.

Q: You must answer the question....

UG: I don't have any answers. You are answering your own questions, I am not answering. Lately I have been using this word, `ventriloquist'. You know, you ask the question in one voice and answer the same question with another voice. All the questions we ask are born out of the answers we already have. Otherwise, you wouldn't have any questions.

Q: If we give up our beliefs, you said that we would die.

UG: You replace one belief with another. You can't be without a belief. What you call `you' is only a belief. If the belief goes, you go with it. That is the reason why if you are not satisfied with the belief-structure you are brought up in, you replace it with something else.

Q: Do you believe that there is nothing wrong with the world?

UG: I don't see anything wrong with this world, because the world can't be any different. I am not interested in making a living out of telling people that the world needs some change, radical or otherwise. If you are a politician or a president for a nation, then it is a different story. Otherwise it is what it is. We being what we are, the world cannot be any different. What I say is not an abstraction. You and I living together is the world.

Q: Last question, Sir. What do you mean when you say I create you?

UG: You do create me. I don't create you for the simple reason that I don't have any image of myself.

You have an image of yourself and in relationship to that image you create the images of others around you. That is the relationship that you have with the other people. But the people are constantly changing - you are changing and so is the other person. But you want the image always to remain the same. That's just not possible.


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