Love and God

by Ramesh Balsekar

The dialogue, one evening, was started by a young Canadian, wearing a Lungi and a thin Kurta (Indian dress). He said he was twenty-three, but looked barely out of his teens. He wore around his neck an elegant little silver cross on a dainty chain. He said he had come across the book; I Am That in a bookshop in Bombay a couple of days ago. A cursory glance at a few pages impelled in him a desire to meet Maharaj personally. He had already gone through the book reading almost continuously through the afternoon, evening and night, and had finished both volumes only a few hours ago.

Maharaj: You are so young. I wonder from what age you have been interested in the spiritual quest.

Visitor: Sir, ever since I remember I have been deeply interested in Love and God. And I strongly felt that they are not different. When I sit in meditation, I often . . .

M: Wait a moment. What exactly do you mean by “meditation”?

V: I don’t really know. All I do is to sit cross-legged, close my eyes and remain absolutely quiet. I find my body relaxing, almost melting away, and my mind or being or whatever merging into space and the thought-process getting gradually suspended.

M: That’s good. Please proceed.

V: Quite often, during meditation, an overwhelming feeling of ecstatic love arises in my heart together with an effusion of well-being. I do not know what it is. It is during one such spell that I felt inspired to visit India—and here I am.

M: How long will you be in Bombay?

V: I really don’t know. I rarely make any plans. I have sufficient money to live frugally for about fifteen days, and I have my return ticket.

M: Now tell me, what is it exactly that you want to know? Do you have any specific questions?

V: I was a very confused man when I landed in Bombay. I felt I was almost going out of my mind. I really don’t know what took me to the bookshop because I don’t do much reading. The moment I picked up the first volume of I Am That, I experienced the same overpowering feeling that I get during my meditation. As I went on reading the book, a weight seemed to lift off from within me and, as I am sitting here before you, I feel as if I am talking to myself and what I am saying to myself seems like blasphemy. I was convinced that love is God. But now I think that love is surely a concept and if love is a concept God also must be a concept.

M: So, what is wrong in it?

V: (Laughing) Now, if you put it like that I have no feeling of guilt in transforming God into a concept.

M: Actually, you said love is God. What do you mean by the word “love”? Do you mean “love” as the opposite of “hate”? Or, do you mean something else, although, of course, no word can be adequate to describe “God.”

V: No. No. By the word “love” I certainly do not mean the opposite of “hate.” What I mean is that love is abstaining from discrimination as “me” and the “other.”

M: In other words, unity of being?

V: Yes, indeed. What then is “God” to whom I am expected to pray?

M: Let us talk about prayer later. Now then, what exactly is this “God” you are talking about? Is he not the very consciousness—the sense of “being” that one has—because of which you are able to ask questions? “I am” itself is God. What is it that you love most? Is it not this “I am,” the conscious presence which you want to preserve at any cost? The seeking itself is God. In seeking you discover that “you” are apart from this body?mind complex. If you were not conscious, would the world exist for you? Would there be any idea of a God? And, the consciousness in you and the consciousness in me—are they different? Are they not separate only as concepts, seeking unity unconceived, and is that not love?

V: Now I understand what is meant by “God is nearer to me than I am to myself.”

M: Also remember, there can be no proof of Reality other than being it. Indeed you are it, and have always been. Consciousness leaves with the end of the body (and is therefore time?bound) and with it leaves the duality, which is the basis of consciousness and manifestation.

V: What then is prayer, and what is its purpose?

M: Prayer, as it is generally understood, is nothing but begging for something. Actually, prayer means communion-uniting-Yoga.

V: Everything is so clear now, as if a great deal of rubbish has been suddenly thrown out of my system, blown out of existence.

M: Do you mean that you now seem to see everything clearly?

V: No. No! Not “seems.” It is clear, so clear that I am now amazed that it was not clear at any time. Various statements that I had read in the Bible, which seemed important but vague before, are now crystal clear—statements like: Before Abraham was I am; I and my Father are one; I am that I am.

M: Good. Now that you know what it is all about, what sadhana will you do to obtain liberation from your “bondage?”

V: Ah Maharaj! Now you are surely making fun of me. Or, are you testing me? Surely, now I know and have realized that I am that—I am, which I have always been and which I shall always be. What is left to be done? Or, undone? And who is to do it? And for what purpose?

M: Excellent! Just be.

V: I shall, indeed.

Then the young Canadian prostrated before Maharaj, his eyes brimming with tears of gratitude and joy. Maharaj asked him if he would be coming again, and the lad said: “Honestly, I don’t know.” When he left, Maharaj sat for a while with his eyes closed, the gentlest of smiles on his lips. He then said very softly: “A rare one”; I could barely catch the words.

I never saw the young Canadian again, and I have often wondered about him.

From Pointers from Nisargadatta Maharaj. Copyright © 1982 by Ramesh Balsekar. Reprinted by arrangement with The Acorn Press, Durham, North Carolina.