wu wei PDF Print E-mail

From The Notebooks of Paul Brunton:

Other Sources:

Lao Tzu
Eckhart Tolle
Nisargadatta Maharaj


Perhaps the term wu-wei, which means doing non-doing, summarizes the whole of the non path.  PB explains that Wu-wei involves all these, and none: allowing, letting be, letting go, being still, surrender, just be.

It comes to this, that we have to learn the art of doing nothing! It would seem that everyone could practise this without the slightest preparation or training, but the fact is that hardly anyone can do so. For the expression "doing nothing" must be interpreted in an absolute sense. We must learn to be totally without action, without thought--without any tension or manifestation of the ego. The Biblical expression "Be still!" says exactly the same thing but says it positively where the other says it negatively. If we really succeed in learning this art, and sit absolutely still for long periods of time, we shall be given the best of all rewards, the one promised by the Bible: we shall "know that I am God."   23:7.258

*Wu Wei has a double meaning: first, letting Life, Mind, act through you by yourself, becoming still, thought-free, and empty of ego--you are then not doing anything, but being done to, being used; second, pursuing truth impersonally. The usual ways seek personal attainment, achievement, salvation. The aspirant thinks or speaks of "my mind" or "my purification" or "my progress"; hence such ways are self-enclosed, egoistic. Whatever repression of ego that there is occurs only on the surface and merely drives it down to hide in the subconscious, whence it will re-emerge later. These methods are Long Path ones, hence are destined to end in futility and despair. The deeper way of Wu Wei is to lose the ego by doing nothing to seek truth or to improve oneself; adopting no practice; following no path. The Short Path turns realization over to Overself so that it is not your concern any longer. This does not mean that you do not care whether you find truth or not, but that whereas ordinary care for it arises out of desire of the ego or anxiety of the ego or egoistic need of comfort, escape, or relief, Short Path care arises out of the stillness of mind, the serenity of faith, and the acceptance of the universe.    23.5.228[use R and R: essence of sh p.

Lao Tzu said, "Do nothing by self-will but rather conform to heaven's will, and everything will be done for you." The whole of the quest may be summed up as an attempt to put these wise words into practice. However, the quest is not a thing of a moment or a day; it extends through many years, nay, through a whole lifetime. Therefore, merely to learn how to "do nothing" is itself a long task, if it is to be truly done and if we are not to deceive ourselves. 2.9.65

*Long Path is needed to make a man or woman ripe for receiving truth, but only the Short Path can lead to it. This is the answer to the dilemma created by the claims of the Wu Wei school. Its practical application is: act as the Long Path requires by working on and improving the self, but think as the Short Path enjoins by holding the attitude ``There is nothing to be attained.  Realization is already here and now!” 23.5.154

…Ordinarily we live in our thoughts, in our little selves, even if the thoughts are spiritual. Therefore we have to keep away from all thoughts. If you want to think of the Overself, which is without any form, it is not possible. We try, but any idea, form, or shape is wrong. You cannot imagine it. So better not to try but to be still. You must not remain in the ego. "Be still [let go] and know that I AM GOD," says the Bible.

…  Wu-Wei, meaning inaction, not trying, is the highest teaching of Taoism and Zen and it means the same as what has just been explained. The Overself is already there. You as ego must get out of the way. 2.1.209

What is given out is given freely to all. Jesus is not a teacher assigning marks at an examination, he is a benevolent philanthropist! Salvation is taken out of the ego's hands altogether; the only requirement is "Do Nothing, for that will be ego-doing."    (23:5.214)

More than any other author, Lao Tzu has put in the tersest and simplest way the importance, the meaning, and the result of the sitting-still practice, the patient waiting for inner being to reveal itself, the submissive allowing of intuition to be felt and accepted. 23.7.270 

When all action comes to an end, when the body is immobile and the consciousness stilled, there is achieved what the Chinese have called Wu Wei, meaning non-doing. This brings a wonderful peace, for tied up with it is non-desiring and non-aspiring. The quester has then come close to the end, but until this peace is thoroughly and permanently established in him, the quest must go on. Let go of all negative thoughts, especially those which concern others. Cease from condemnation and criticism except where it is a necessary part of one's obligation, duty, or position in the world, such as a magistrate's.    (24:3.289)

Wu Wei, no-doing, is free activity, done for its own sake and not for that of a reward. This is possible to creative minds intent on bringing the needed new into existence, or to inspired artists working for pure love of beauty and not for glory, or to saints obeying a higher will.    (24:3.292)


Make it a matter of habit, until it becomes a matter of inclination, to be kind, gentle, forgiving, and compassionate. What can you lose? A few things now and then, a little money here and there, an occasional hour or an argument? But see what you can gain! More release from the personal ego, more right to the Overself's grace, more loveliness in the world inside us, and more friends in the world outside us.   2:5.12

The basic principle and practical method of Taoism is Wu Wei--"Do Nothing." This puzzles the ordinary Western mind until it is explained as equivalent to the Psalmist's "Be Still." Stop the ego's constant physical and mental activity to let the Overself in!    (15:3.40)

Those who try to grasp Tao, lose it, declared Lao Tzu. Why? Because they are using willpower, personal willpower, instead of becoming passive and letting the Tao use them, their minds and bodies, as if they were its instruments. This elimination of the self-will is what Jesus meant when he counselled his followers to lose their life in order to find life. 24.3.199

Those who look for advancement by looking for inner experiences or for discoveries of new truth do well. But they need to understand that all this is still personal, still something that concerns the ego even if it be the highest and best part of the ego. Their greatest advance will be made when they cease holding the wish to make any advance at all, cease this continual looking at themselves, and instead come to a quiet rest in the simple fact that God is, until they live in this fact alone. That will transfer their attention from self to Overself and keep them seeing its presence in everyone's life and its action in every event. The more they succeed in holding to this insight, the less will they ever be troubled or afraid or perplexed again; the more they recognize and rest in the divine character, the less will they be feverishly concerned about their own spiritual future. 23.5.222

The leisureliness of the mystic is a thing to envy, and even imitate. …     (3:3.58)

The laborious, sometimes desperate self-discipline of the Long Path relaxes or even stops altogether. The effortless, sometimes ecstatic self-surrender to grace through faith, love, humility, and remembrance replaces it.    (23:4.63) 

If you investigate the matter deeply enough and widely enough, you will find that happiness eludes nearly all men despite the fact that they are forever seeking it. The fortunate and successful few are those who have stopped seeking with the ego alone and allow the search to be directed inwardly by the higher self. They alone can find a happiness unblemished by defects or deficiencies, a Supreme Good which is not a further source of pain and sorrow but an endless source of satisfaction and peace.(P 340)  (24:1.74)


What was named in The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga “The Yoga of the Untouch” can be literally translated as “The Yoga which Touches no Object,” meaning--in plain English--the practice of turning attention away from every thought and image and thing in profound concentration and being utterly absorbed in pure Mind.  This is a feat which obviously requires prior preparatory training.  There is no attempt at self-improvement, self-purification, or mind-training here; nor any aspiration, or longing.  It is a calm movement into the Silent Universal Mind, without personal aims. 23.7.231

When thought of the little self vanishes, even gloating thought of its spiritual rapture, and That which is behind or beyond it in utter stillness is alone felt and known, then he is said to experience ``the touch of the Untouchable,'' as ancient sages called it.  28.2.137

The sun's warmth and beauty brings out the flower's growth.  It does not strive, struggle, or push.  This is a good simile of the Short Path's final phase, taught also in the Chinese doctrine of wu-wei (inaction) and the Indian doctrine of asparsa yoga (without-effort method).  23.5.207

Asparsa Yoga: The literal meaning is ``non-touching'' or, possibly, ``touching the Untouchable.'' Everything is either related to, or in contact with, something else, that is, in touch with it.  But in the state of Asparsa there is no such possibility because the nondual Brahman is alone acknowledged, THAT which is uncontacted by anything. 28.2.138


Whatever the trouble be which distresses any man--be it physical or mental, personal or public, worldly or spiritual--there is one sure refuge to which he can always turn and return.  If he has learnt the art of being still, he can carry his trouble to the mind's outer threshold and leave it there, passing himself into its innermost recess of utter serenity and carefree tranquility.  This is not a cowardly escapism or a foolish self-deception, although with the un-philosophical mystic it could be and often is.  For when he emerges from the inner silence and picks up his trouble again, he will pick up also the strength to endure it bravely and the wisdom to deal with it rightly.  This will always be the case if his approach is through philosophical mysticism, which makes inspired action and not inspired dreaming its goal.  Furthermore, his contact with the inner Mind will set mysterious forces working on his behalf to solve the problem quite independently of his conscious effort and knowledge. (P)  278

If you would become a philosopher in practice, then the first step is to cultivate calmness.  24.2.193

But such calm, such satisfying equanimity, can only be kept if he does not expect too much from others, does not make too many demands on life, and is not too fussy about trifles.    (24:2.63)

The happiness he finds in certain persons, events, things, or places may pass away with time or with them, and leave him feeling so empty that it is as if they had never been in his life, or as if they had appeared only in a dream.  This is because he left them, where he found them--in the world of illusion--instead of bringing them where they become transformed--in the world of Reality.  24.3.59

Fate provides him with difficulties from which it is often not possible to escape.  But what must be borne may be borne in either of two ways.  He may adjust his thinking so that the lessons of the experience are well learnt.  Or he may drop it, for he need not carry the burden of anxiety, and remember the story of the man in the railway carriage who kept his trunk on his shoulders instead of putting it down and letting the train carry it.  So let him put his “trunk” of trouble down and let the Overself carry it. P. 334

…Nonduality in its extreme form is not to the taste of the masses. Instinctively they shy away from it.  Let the two views accommodate each other.  While these levels of reference ought not to be mixed together when theory and principles are concerned, there is one way in which there is considerable profit to be gained if the timeless eternal and universal atmosphere of Vedanta is kept at the back of the mind when the worldly problems have to be met.  They can be met with this remembrance that one's true being is, and will be, safe and unaffected, and that whatever decision or action we are called to make, the first thing is to keep calm….  23.5.157

Jesus said, "Take no thought of the morrow." What did Jesus mean? If we know to whom Jesus was speaking and the path along which he was trying to lead his hearers, we shall know also what he meant. It was certainly not that they should do nothing at all for the morrow; it was not that they should give no attention to it. It was that they should not fret and worry over the morrow; they should accept the duty imposed upon them to take care of the morrow, but reject all anxiety as to its outcome. They should not think that their little egos must manage everything, but they should have some faith also that the higher power can operate in their lives.    (18:4.106)

To live in lonely contemplation of the secrets deep down in the heart, to place all ambitions and restless desires on a funeral pyre and burn them up in a heap--these things demand the highest courage possible to man. Those who would denominate one who has achieved them as a coward, because he does not run with the crowd who fight for pelf and self, make a ghastly mistake.    (25:3.268)

 We truly relax from strains and strivings only when we relax in the inward stillness of the divine presence. Silently to declare the metaphysical truths about our personal life, quietly to affirm them in the midst of our active life, and deliberately to recognize them above the swirl of our emotional life is to achieve true repose.    (#34545)

When he knows that no good phase can last, that fortune will never let him rest durably in its undisturbed sunshine, he is ready for the next step. And that is to seek for inner peace.    (9:3.282)

 The harmony of the highest state is unbroken by thoughts. It is like a song without words; it is the perfumed essence of stillness, the deepest heart of silence.    (24:4.169)

 This stillness is the godlike part of every human being. In failing to look for it, he fails to make the most of his possibilities. If, looking, he misses it on the way, this happens because it is a vacuity: there is simply nothing there! That means no things, not even mental things, that is, thoughts.(P)    (24:4.4)

 Chinese Poet, T'ao Yuan-Ming (365-427 a.d.):

I have built my cottage within men's borders,
But there is no noise of carriage or horses.
Do you know how this is possible?
When the heart is remote, the place becomes like it.    (24:3.296)

The humility needed must be immensely deeper than what ordinarily passes for it. He must begin with the axiom that the ego is ceaselessly deceiving him, misleading him, ruling him. He must be prepared to find its sway just as powerful amid his spiritual interests as his worldly ones. He must realize that he has been going from illusion to illusion even when he seemed to progress.(P)    (18:3.20)


Whereas the initial stages of inquiry are active, at some point the search must become passive.  This is because the activity of the ego must cease altogether to invite, allow, listen for the response.

 He will understand the real spirit of meditation when he understands that he has to do nothing at all, just to sit still physically, mentally, and emotionally.  For the moment he attempts to do anything, he intrudes his ego.  By sitting inwardly and outwardly still, he surrenders egoistic action and thereby implies that he is willing to surrender his little self to his Overself.  He shows that he is willing to step aside and let himself be worked upon, acted through, and guided by a higher power. 23.7.238

There is a single basic principle which runs like a thread through all these higher contemplation exercises.  It is this: if we can desert the thoughts of particular things, the images of particular objects raised by the senses in the field of consciousness, and if we can do this with complete and intelligent understanding of what and why we are doing it, then such desertion will be followed by the appearance of its own accord of the element of pure undifferentiated Thought itself; the latter will be identified as our innermost self. (p. 320)  23.7.9

 If he wishes to enter the stage of contemplation, he must let go of every thought as it rises, however high or holy it seems, for it is sure to bring associated thoughts in its train.  However interesting or attractive these bypaths may be at other times, they are now just that--bypaths.  He must rigidly seek the Void. (P) 23.7.162



Every state other than this perfect stillness is a manifestation of the ego, even if it be an inner mystical ``experience.''  To be in the Overself one must be out of the ego, and consequently out of the ego's experience, thoughts, fancies, or images.  All these may have their fit place and use at other times but not when the consciousness is to be raised completely to the Overself. (P) 23.7.164

 If he does not practise keeping himself--his body and mind--still, this presence which emanates grace is not given the chance to activate his consciousness.  Here is the first secret of meditation--Be still! The second secret is--Know the I am, God!  The stillness will have a relaxing and somewhat healing effect, but no more, unless he has faith, unless he deliberately seeks communion with God. 23.7.167

…  Nevertheless man may enter into its knowledge, may enter into its Void, so soon as he can drop his thoughts, let go his sense-experience, but keep his sense of being.  Then he may understand what Jesus meant when saying: ``He that loseth his life shall find it.''  …  28.2.100

Those who look for advancement by looking for inner experiences or for discoveries of new truth do well. But they need to understand that all this is still personal, still something that concerns the ego even if it be the highest and best part of the ego. Their greatest advance will be made when they cease holding the wish to make any advance at all, cease this continual looking at themselves, and instead come to a quiet rest in the simple fact that God is, until they live in this fact alone. That will transfer their attention from self to Overself and keep them seeing its presence in everyone's life and its action in every event. The more they succeed in holding to this insight, the less will they ever be troubled or afraid or perplexed again; the more they recognize and rest in the divine character, the less will they be feverishly concerned about their own spiritual future. 23.5.222

 The would-be philosopher should not feel bound by labels, categories, and other fences which people want to put on others simply because they themselves live quite willingly surrounded by such fences and cannot understand someone who refuses to do so. Philosophy is a path which ends in the pathless--a way to the inner freedom which comes with truth.    (20:1.153)

 Whatever you do to work upon the ego, whether you remove this weakness or improve that faculty, it will always be ego and your consciousness will always remain within its tightly closed circle. In the time you give to such work you could be occupying yourself with thought of the non-ego, the Overself, and dwelling in this thought until the sunshine behind it bursts through and you bask in the glory.    (23:4.64)

SURRENDER: to find yourself you must lose yourself
*Where the heart goes, there soon or late the other faculties will follow.  This is why it is so important to let the Overself take possession of the heart by its total surrender in, and to, the Stillness.  24.4.90

 *We who honour philosophy so highly cannot afford to be other than honest with ourselves. We have to acknowledge that the end of all our striving is surrender. No human being can do other than this--an utterly humble prostration, where we dissolve, lose the ego, lose ourselves--the rest is paradox and mystery.    (20:5.11)

* By thought, the ego was made; by thought, the ego's power can be unmade.  But the thought must be directed toward a higher entity, for the ego's willingness to attack itself is only a pretense.  Direct it constantly to the Overself, be mentally devoted to the Overself, and emotionally love the Overself.  Can it then refuse to help you?  18.1.77  [glimpse in R and R]

 * Until it is brought to his attention, he may not know that the idol at whose feet he is continually worshipping is the ego.  If he could give to God the same amount of remembrance that he gives to his ego, he could quite soon attain, and become established in, that enlightenment to which other men devote lifetimes of arduous effort.  8.4.153 [remember in R and R]

 *The ego thought is like a string upon which our multitudinous sense-memories, interests, desires, fears thoughts and feelings are threaded.  And when one speaks of the surrender of the ego, it is not the surrender of one particular bead which is meant, but rather of the entire string which holds together all the diverse beads and without which all would collapse. This is effected, and can only be effected, by turning the mind inwards, and by concentrating deeper and ever deeper within the heart until individual beads of thought and feeling no longer engage our consciousness, but only the single thought of self-existence.  Then we discover that we are really angels fallen from the empyrean.  Quest of the Overself

 *No one else can do for a person what Nature is tutoring him to do for himself, that is, to surrender the ego to the higher self. Without such surrender no man can attain the consciousness of that higher self. It is useless to look to a master to make for him this tremendous change-over within himself. No master could do it. The proper way and the only way is to give up this pathetic clinging to his own power, to his own littleness, and to his own limitations. To turn so completely against himself demands from a man an extreme emotional effort of the rarest kind and also of the most painful kind. For to surrender the ego is to crucify it. 8.4.211

 He who enters upon this quest will have plenty to do, for he  will have to work on the weaknesses in his character, to think  impartially, to meditate regularly, and to aspire constantly.   Above all, he will have to train himself in the discipline of  surrendering the ego.   P. 21
This whittling away of the ego may occupy the entire lifetime and not seem very successful even then, yet it is of the highest value as a preparatory process for the full renunciation of the ego when--by Grace--it suddenly rises up in the heart.    (8:4.422)
There are certain rare moments when intense sorrow or profound bereavement makes a person sick at heart. It is then that desires temporarily lose their force, possessions their worth, and even existence itself its reality. One seems to stand outside the busy world whose figures flit to and fro like the shadowy characters on a cinema screen. Worst of all, perhaps, significance vanishes from human activity, which becomes a useless tragi-comedy, a going everywhere and arriving nowhere, an insane playing of instruments from which no music issues forth, a vanity of all the vanities. It is then, too, that a terrible suicidal urge may enter his blood and he will need all his mental ballast not to make away with himself. Yet these black moments are intensely precious, for they may set his feet firmly on the higher path. Few realize this whilst all complain. The self-destruction to which he is being urged by such dread experiences of life is not the crude physical act, but something subtle--a suicide of thought, emotion, and will. He is being called indeed, to die to his ego, to take the desires and passions, the greeds and hates out of his life, to learn the art of living in utter independence of externals and in utter dependence on the Overself. And this is that same call which Jesus uttered when he said: "He that loseth his life shall find it." Thus the sorrows of life on earth are but a transient means to an eternal end, a process through which we have to learn how to expand awareness from the person to the Overself.    (1:2.170).

 "He that loseth his life shall save it." Those who would translate Jesus' words into generous emotion and not into metaphysical insight have never known the real meaning of those words. For the philanthropic service of others is a noble but secondary ideal, whereas the mystical union with the Overself is a priceless and primary achievement.    (22:4.99)

 The laborious, sometimes desperate self-discipline of the Long Path relaxes or even stops altogether. The effortless, sometimes ecstatic self-surrender to grace through faith, love, humility, and remembrance replaces it.    (23:4.63)

 Take away the thoughts and feelings, including the body-thought and the specific I-feeling, and you take away the whole basis of man's personal existence. It is indeed the only mode of his life that he can conceive. After all, the personality is only a series of continuous thoughts, strongly held and centered around a particular body. He who can win the power to free himself from all thoughts, wins the power to free himself from the personal "I"-thoughts. Only such a man has really obeyed Jesus' injunction to lose his life. For what other life has man ordinarily than the personal one? But Jesus also promised a certain reward for successful obedience. He said that such a person would "save" his life. What does this mean? When the thoughts lapse and the finited personality goes, will the man be bereft of all consciousness? No--he will still possess pure consciousness, the deeper life that supports the finited self and sustains its very thoughts.    (8:4.483)

 When Christ taught that he who would find his life must first lose it, he meant simply that one must first lose his attachments.    (24:3.183)

 The declaration of Jesus that whosoever will save his life shall lose it, is uncompromising. It is an eternal truth as well as a universal one. It is needed by the naive as well as by the sophisticated. …

Such an achievement may seem very far off from human possibility and indeed we find in history that not many have either cared, or been able, to realize it, for it is far too painful to the ego. But the metaphysical truths of successive rebirth on earth and of the unreality of time should give some comfort here. The first teaches a great patience while men labour daily at the task of remaking themselves. The second teaches that the Overself is even now ever present with all, that in the eternal Now there is no futurity and that theoretically the possibility of its realization does not necessarily belong to some distant rebirth. 8.4.230

 This experience of self-annihilation (fana, the Sufis call it) teaches several valuable truths, but the one which needs mention here is that whether you feel the Reality in an overwhelming mystic experience or not, what matters is that you should carry the unfaltering faith that it is always there, always present with you and within you. 23.7.151

 The place where you are, the people who surround you, the problems you encounter, and the happenings that take place just now--all have their special meaning for you. They come about under the law of recompense as well as under the particular needs of your spiritual growth. Study them well but impersonally, egolessly, and adjust your reactions accordingly. This will be hard and perhaps even unpalatable, yet it is the certain way to solving all your problems. This is what Jesus meant when he declared, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." This is that crucifixion of the ego which is true Christianity and which leads directly to the resurrection in the reality of the Overself. Regard your worst, most irritating trouble as the voice of your Overself. Try to hear what It says. Try to remove the obstructions It is pointing to within yourself. Look on this special ordeal, this particular trial, as having the most important significance in your own spiritual growth. The more crushing it is, the more effort is being made to draw you nearer to the Overself. At every point of your life, from one event, situation, contact to another, the Infinite Intelligence provides you with the means of growth, if only you will get out of the egoistic rut and take them.    (2:4.24)

 When a man consciously asks for union with the Overself, he unconsciously accepts the condition that goes along with it, and that is to give himself wholly up to the Overself. He should not complain therefore when, looking forward to living happily ever after with a desired object, that object is suddenly removed from him and his desire frustrated. He has been taken at his word. Because another love stood between him and the Overself, the obstruction had to be removed if the union were to be perfected; he had to sacrifice the one in order to possess the other. The degree of his attachment to the lesser love was shown by the measure of his suffering at its being taken away; but if he accepts this suffering as an educator and does not resent it, it will lead the way to true joy.    (18:4.138)

 Trace Ego To Its Lair:

So long as we persist in taking the ego at its own valuation as the real Self, so long are we incapable of discovering the truth about the mind or of penetrating to its mysterious depths.  It is a pretender, but so long as no enquiry is instituted it goes on enjoying the status of the real Self.  Once an enquiry into its true nature is begun in the proper manner and continued as long as necessary, this identification with ego may subside and surrender to the higher. 8.4.386


To trace the ego to its lair is to observe its open and covered manifestations, to analyse, comprehend, and note their everchanging ephemerality.  Finally it too turns out to be but a thought structure--empty, and capable of dissolution like all thoughts. 8.4.387

 Be still and know! This is to be done by practicing the art of meditation deep into its second stage and then--for it cannot properly be done before--tracing the ego to its hidden lair. Here it must be faced. Being still involves the achievement of mental silence, without which the ego remains cunningly active and keeps him within its sphere of influence. Knowing involves penetrating to the ego's secret source where, in its lulled and weakened condition, it can be confronted and killed. 8.4.390

The ego is always in hiding and often in disguise. It is a cunning creature, never showing its own face, so that even the man who wants to destroy its rule is easily tricked into attacking everything else but the ego! Therefore, the first (as well as the final) essential piece of knowledge needed to track it down to its secret lair is how to recognize and identify it.  8.4.391

 He will advance most on the Quest who tries most to separate himself from his ego. It will be a long, slow struggle and a hard one, for the false belief that the ego is his true self grips him with hypnotic intensity. All the strength of all his being must be brought to this struggle to remove error and to establish truth, for it is an error not merely of the intellect alone but also of the emotions and of the will.   Perspectives p. 198

 To surrender the ego is to surrender the thought of it, and this is done by stilling the mind whenever, in daily life, one becomes self-conscious. This silenced, ego vanishes. It is deep, mental effacement of the thought of being "XY," this quick stilling of the idea of being a particular person, this serene rejection of the intellectual movement and emotional agitation of the ego, that constitutes the "giving up of the self" which Jesus and all great mystics have insistently enjoined. This art of effacing the ego by stilling the mind, by suddenly stopping its whirling flood of thoughts, could not be practised at will and at any time if one had not practised it previously and frequently in deliberate exercises at set times. It is not an art into which the man in the street can straightway plunge. He is not ready for it. He must first get a disciplined mental nature through daily work in meditation as well as a subjugated emotional nature through hardened will. These endeavours must be brought to perfection first before the feat of giving up the ego can itself be brought to perfection.    (8:4.151)

 If he is willing to look for them, he will find the hidden workings of the ego in the most unsuspected corners, even in the very midst of his loftiest spiritual aspirations. The ego is unwilling to die and will even welcome this large attrition of its scope if that is its only way of escape from death. Since it is necessarily the active agent in these attempts at self-betterment, it will be in the best position to take care that they shall end as a seeming victory over itself but not an actual one. The latter can be achieved only by directly confronting it and, under Grace's inspiration, directly slaying it; this is quite different from confronting and slaying any of its widely varied expressions in weaknesses and faults. They are not at all the same. They are the branches but the ego is the root. Therefore when the aspirant gets tired of this never-ending Long Path battle with his lower nature, which can be conquered in one expression only to appear in a new one, gets weary of the self-deceptions in the much pleasanter imagined accomplishments of the Short Path, he will be ready to try the last and only resource. Here at long last he gets at the ego itself by completely surrendering it, instead of preoccupying himself with its numerous disguises--which may be ugly, as envy, or attractive, as virtue.(P)    (8:4.167)
*The limitation of the Long Path is that it is concerned only with thinning down, weakening, and reducing the ego's strength.  It is not concerned with totally deflating the ego.  Since this can be done only by studying the ego's nature metaphysically, seeing its falsity, and recognizing its illusoriness, which is not even done by the Short Path, then all the endeavours of the Short Path to practise self-identification with the Overself are merely using imagination and suggestion to create a new mental state that, while imitating the Overself's state, does not actually transcend the ego-mind but exists within it still.  So a third phase becomes necessary, the phase of getting rid of the ego altogether; this can be done only by the final dissolving operation of Grace, which the man has to request and to which he has to give his consent.  To summarize the entire process, the Long Path leads to the Short Path, and the Short Path leads to the Grace of an unbroken egoless consciousness. (P) 23.5.206

*…  In the end you will reject both. There is no Long Path or Short Path. We have constructed them to conform to what we think.  Buddha says in the Dhammapada that you yourself made up this picture you have of yourself, the picture you think is real. It is made by thought and can be undone by thought.

You could also say there is nothing to the whole thing: simply surrender yourself to God. This is true if you can do it.We get over-educated, have to rationalize everything and spend time writing books and reading books which are not altogether worthwhile.--January 1979      23.5.56…


It is the unique contribution of the Short Path that it takes advantage of the Overself's ever-present offer of Grace. 23.1.134

 It would be a grave mistake to believe that the following of ascetic regimes and the stilling of wandering thoughts causes the higher consciousness to supervene.  What they really do is to permit it to supervene.  Desires and distraction are hindrances to its attainment and they merely remove the hindrances.  This makes possible the recognition of what we really are beneath them.  If however we do nothing more than this, which is called yoga, we get only an inferior attainment, often only a temporary one.  For unless we also engage in the rooting out of the ego, which is called philosophy, we do not get the final and superior transcendental state. (P 205)

*When all thoughts are extinguished; when even the thought of the quest itself vanishes; when even the final thought of seeking to control thoughts also subsides, then the great battle with the ego can take place. But the last scene of this invisible drama is always played by the Overself. For only when its Grace shoots forth and strikes down this final thought, does success come.(P)    (23:8.152)  [R and R]

 There would be no hope of ever getting out of this ego-centered position if we did not know these three things. First, the ego is only an accumulation of memories and a series of cravings, that is, thought; it is a fictitious entity. Second, the thinking activity can come to an end in stillness. Third, Grace, the radiation of the Power beyond man, is ever-shining and ever-present. If we let the mind become deeply still and deeply observant of the ego's self-preserving instinct, we open the door to Grace, which then lovingly swallows us.    (8:4.417)

 But before he can even attempt to surrender the underself, he must first begin to feel, however feebly and however intermittently, that there is an Overself and that it is living there deep within his own heart. Such a feeling, however, must arise spontaneously and cannot be manufactured by any effort of his own. It does not depend on his personal choice whether he experience it or not. It is therefore an unpredictable factor; he cannot know when it is likely to come to him. This indeed is what makes this quest so mysterious. For such a feeling is nothing else than a manifestation of grace. Hence an old Sanskrit text, the Tripura, says: "Of all requisites Divine Grace is the most important. He who has entirely surrendered to his larger self is sure to attain readily. This is the best method." Without the divine grace (Faiz Ullah), the Sufis say, man cannot attain spiritual union with Him, but they add that this grace is not withheld from those who fervently yearn for it.    (18:4.94)

 What is grace? It is a descent of the Overself into the underself's zone of awareness. It is a visitation of power as unexpected and unpredictable as it is welcome and gratifying. It is an unseen hand stretched forth from the world­ darkness amid which we grope with unsteady feet. It is the voice of the Overself speaking suddenly out of the cosmic silence with which we are environed. It is like a glorious rainbow of hope which suddenly appears when all seems lost.

 More precisely, grace is a mystical energy, an active principle pertaining to the Overself which can produce results in the fields of human thought, feeling and flesh alike on the one hand, or in human karma circumstances and relations on the other hand. It is the cosmic will, not merely a pious wish or kindly thought, and can perform authentic miracles under its own unknown laws.  Such is its dynamic potency that it can confer insight into ultimate reality as  easily as it can lift a dying person back to life again or instantaneously restore the use of limbs to a crippled one.  The Wisdom of the Overself  “Shadows of Evil and Suffering”

 Grace may be defined as the Overself's response to the personal self's aspiration, sincerity, and faith, lifting up the person to a level beyond the ordinary one. This working in us (as contrasted with the working by us) begins in deep passive stillness and ends in mental, emotional, and even physical activity.  It is true that grace is given, but we ourselves help to make its blessing possible by the opening of self to receive it, the silencing of self to feel it, and the purifying of self to be fit for it. 18.5.38

The wonderful effect of profound sleep is not only the recovery of the physical body's energy but much more the man's return to himself, his spiritual self, the pure universal consciousness. Note that all this happens without any effort on his part, without any use of the personal will. It is all done to him. Grace acts in the same way.    (18:5.299)

 If there is any law connected with grace, it is that as we give love to the Overself so do we get grace from it. But that love must be so intense, so great, that we willingly sacrifice time and thought to it in a measure which shows how much it means to us. In short, we must give more in order to receive more. And love is the best thing we can give. 18.5.209

 Constant self-effort can thin down the egoism but not eliminate it. That final act is impossible because the ego will not willingly slay itself. What self-effort does is to prepare the way for the further force which can slay it and thus makes the operation timely and its success possible. What it further does is to improve intelligence and intuition and to ameliorate the character, which also prepares the individual and attracts those forces. They are nothing else than the pardoning, healing, and, especially, the transforming powers of Grace.    (18:5.135)

His dependence on self-effort must be balanced by his dependence on Grace. If he relies solely on his own endeavours to better his character and develop his intuition, he may find himself frustrated and unhappy with the result. Grace is to be invoked by making contact through prayer and meditation with his Overself. But the meditation should be of a special kind--what may be called the practice of nonduality. In it he should seek to identify himself with the universal and infinite power, to forget that he is an individual.    (23:6.49) [R and R]

 Only when the ego, thwarted and disappointed, hurt and suffering, finds that it cannot sufficiently change its own character, is it ready to beg, out of its helplessness, for Grace. So long as it believed that by its own power it could do so, it failed. And the way to ask for Grace is to sit perfectly still, to do nothing at all, since all previous doing failed.    (18:5.121)

 Where is the hope for mankind if there is no Grace, only karma? If it took so many ages to collect the karmic burden we now carry, then it will take a similar period to disengage from it--the forbidding task will continue throughout every reincarnation until the man dies again and again--unless the individual collector, the ego, is no longer here to claim it. But to cancel its own existence is impossible by its own efforts, yet possible by its non-effort, its surrender, its letting in the Higher Power, by no longer claiming its personal identity. The coming in, when actualized, is Grace for it is not his doing.    (18:5.94)

 The Progressive Stages of the Quest (The Working of Grace)   2.9. 67

"On the day of life's surrender I shall die desiring Thee; I shall yield my spirit craving of Thy street the dust to be." --Humamud Din (Fourteenth-century Persian mystic)


In these poetic lines is expressed the lengths to which the mystic must be willing to go to obtain Grace.

 Only if you fall in love with your soul as deeply as you have ever done with another person will you even stand a chance of finding it. Incessant yearning for the higher self, in a spirit of religious devotion, is one of the indispensable aspects of the fourfold integral quest. The note of yearning for this realization must sound through all your prayer and worship, concentration and meditation. Sometimes the longing for God may affect you even physically with abrupt dynamic force, shaking your whole body, and agitating your whole nervous system. A merely formal practice of meditation is quite insufficient although not quite useless. For without the yearning the advent of Grace is unlikely, and without Grace there can never be any realization of the Overself.

 The very fact you have consciously begun the quest is itself a manifestation of Grace, for you have begun to seek the Overself only because the Overself's own working has begun to make it plain to you, through the sense of unbearable separation from it, that the right moment for this has arrived. The aspirant should therefore take heart and feel hope. You are not really walking alone. The very love which has awakened within you for the Overself is a reflection of the love which is being shown towards you.

 Thus the very search upon which you have embarked, the studies you are making, and the meditations you are practising are all inspired by the Overself from the beginning and sustained by it to the end. The Overself is already at work even before you begins to seek it. Indeed you have taken to the quest in unconscious obedience to the divine prompting. And that prompting is the first movement of Grace.

Even when you believe that you are doing these things for yourself, it is really Grace that is opening the heart and enlightening the mind from behind the scenes.

 Our initiative pushes on toward the goal, whilst divine Grace draws us to it. Both forces must combine if the process is to be completed and crowned with success. Yet that which originally made the goal attractive to you and inspired you with faith in it and thus gave rise to your efforts, was itself the Grace. In this sense Paul's words, "For by Grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves," become more intelligible.


If you have conscientiously followed this fourfold path, if you practise mystical meditation and metaphysical reflection, purification of character and unselfish service, and yet seem to be remote from the goal, what are you to do? You have then to follow the admonition of Jesus: "Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you." You have literally to ask for Grace out of the deep anguish of your heart. We are all poor. One is indeed discerning who realizes this and becomes a beggar, imploring of God for Grace.
You must pray first to be liberated from the heavy thraldom of the senses, the desires, and the thoughts. You must pray next for the conscious presence of the Overself. You should pray silently and deeply in the solitude of your own heart. You should pray with concentrated emotion and tight-held mind. Your yearning for such liberation and such presence must be unquestionably sincere and unquestionably strong. You should begin and close--and even fill if you wish--your hour of meditation with such noble prayers. You must do this day after day, week after week. For the Overself is not merely a concept, but a living reality, the power behind all your other and lesser powers.

 No aspirant who is sincere and sensitive will be left entirely without help. It may appear during temptation when the lower nature may find itself unexpectedly curbed by a powerful idea working strongly against it. You may find in a book just that for which you have been waiting and which at this particular time will definitely help you on your way. The particular help you need at a particular stage will come naturally. It may take the form of a change in outward circumstances or a meeting with a more developed person, of a printed book or a written letter, of a sudden unexpected emotional inspiration or an illuminating intellectual intuition.

Nor is it necessary to travel to the farthest point before being able to gather the fruits. Long before this, you will begin to enjoy the flavour of peace, hope, knowledge, and divine transcendence.

In the moment that one willingly deserts his habitual standpoint under a trying situation and substitutes this higher one, in that moment he receives grace.


The factuality of Grace does not cancel out the need of moral choice and personal effort. It would be a great mistake to stamp human effort as useless in the quest and to proclaim human inability to achieve its own salvation as complete. For if it is true that Divine Grace alone can bring the quest to a successful terminus, it is likewise true that human effort must precede and thus invoke the descent of Grace. What is needed to call down Grace is, first, a humility that is utter and complete, deeply earnest and absolutely sincere, secondly, an offering of self to the Overself, a dedication of earthly being to spiritual essence, and, thirdly, a daily practice of devotional exercise. The practices will eventually yield experiences, the aspirations will eventually bring assistance. The mysterious intrusion of Grace may change the course of events. It introduces new possibilities, a different current of destiny.


We do not get at the Real by our own efforts alone nor does it come to us by its own volition alone. Effort that springs from the self and Grace that springs from beyond it are two things essential to success in this quest. The first we can all provide, but the second only the Overself can provide. Man was once told by someone who knew, "The Spirit bloweth where it listeth." Thus it is neither contradictory nor antithetic to say that human effort and human dependence upon Divine Grace are both needed. For there is a kind of reciprocal action between them. This reciprocal working of Grace is a beautiful fact. The subconscious invitation from the Overself begets the conscious invocation of it as an automatic response. When the ego feels attracted towards its sacred source, there is an equivalent attraction on the Overself's part towards the ego itself. Never doubt that the Divine always reciprocates this attraction to it of the human self. Neither the latter's past history nor present character can alter that blessed hope-bringing fact. Grace is the final, glorious, and authentic proof that it is not only man that is seeking God, but also God that is ever waiting for man.


All that the ego can do is to create the necessary conditions out of which enlightenment generally arises, but it cannot create this enlightenment itself. By self-purification, by constant aspiration, by regular meditation, by profound study, and by an altruistic attitude in practical life, it does what is prerequisite. But all this is like tapping at the door of the Overself. Only the latter's Grace can open it in the end.


At a certain stage you must learn to "let go" more and allow the Overself to possess you, rather than strain to possess something which you believe to be still eluding you. Every aspirant who has passed it will remember how they leapt ahead when they made this discovery

 At another stage, the Overself, whose Grace was the initial impetus to all his efforts, steps forward, as it were, and begins to reveal its presence and working more openly. The aspirant becomes conscious of this with awe, reverence, and thankfulness. He must learn to attend vigilantly to these inward promptings of Divine Grace.

With the descent of Grace, all the anguish and ugly memories of the seeker's past and the frustrations of the present are miraculously sponged out by the Overself's unseen and healing hand. He knows that a new element has entered into his field of consciousness, and he will unmistakably feel from that moment a blessed quickening of inner life. When his own personal effort subsides, a further effort begins on his behalf by a higher power. Without any move on his own part, Grace begins to do for him what he could not do for himself, and under its beneficent operation he will find his higher will strengthening, his moral attitude improving, and his spiritual aspiration increasing.


In seeking the Overself, the earnest aspirant must seek it with heartfelt love. Indeed, your whole quest must be ardently imbued with this feeling. Can you love the Divine purely and disinterestedly for its own sake? This is the question you must ask yourself. If this devotional love is to be something more than frothy feeling, it will have to affect and redeem the will. It will have to heighten the sense of, and obedience to, moral duty. Because of this devotion to something which transcends your selfish interests, you can no longer seek your selfish advantage at the expense of others. Your aim will be not only to love the soul but to understand it, not only to hear its voice in meditation but to live out its promptings in action.

As at the beginning, so at the end of this path, the unveiling of the Overself is not an act of any human will. Only the Divine Will--that is, only its own Grace--can bring about the final all-revealing act, whose sustained consciousness turns the aspirant into an adept.



These paras are at the heart of actually living the view of nonduality as duality with and within unity.

 *If the One Reality alone is, if even the world-illusion vanishes in deepest contemplation, how is he to deal with the world, since it awaits his attention whatever its status be? The answer is that he is to act in the world AS IF it were real: this is to be his working rule to enable him to carry on with everyday existence and perform all duties. This same practical rule was stated by Jesus in his succinct sentence: Be in the world but not of it.    (24:3.311)

 *The mystic must live a double existence, one during meditation and the other during work. The philosopher is released from such an awkward duality. He knows only one existence--the philosophic life. The divine quality permeates his whole activity as much as it permeates his meditative cessation from activity. Work too is worship for him.    (20:4.94)

 *It is one and the same Reality which appears in different ways to beings on different planes of perception.  If it is true that they are dealing only with Appearance because they are perceiving only its forms, it is equally true that, as soon as they discover what it is that projects these forms, they will discover that life is a harmonious whole and that there is no fundamental conflict between the so-called worldly life and the so-called spiritual life. (p. 293)

 Even though he knows it is like a dream, he must live, work and act, love, strive and suffer as if the dream were true. 21.5.19

 The philosophic attitude is to be in the world but not of it, to hold necessary useful or beautiful possessions but not to be held by them. It knows the transiency of things, the brevity of pleasures, the movement of every situation. This is the way of the universe, the ebb and flow of life, the power of time to alter the pattern of every existence. So the philosopher adjusts himself to this rhythm, learns how and when to let go and when to hold on, and so retains his inner equilibrium, his inner poise and peace. During stormy times he stands firm as a rock, he studies their meaning and accepts their lesson; during sunny times he avoids identifying himself with the little ego and remembers his true security is in the Overself.    (20:5.100)

 *The philosophic outlook rises above all sectarian controversy. It finds its own position not only by appreciating and synthesizing what is solidly based in the rival sects but also by capping them all with the keystone of nonduality.    (20:1.471)

 *Nonduality in its extreme form is not to the taste of the masses. Instinctively they shy away from it.  Let the two views accommodate each other.  While these levels of reference ought not to be mixed together when theory and principles are concerned, there is one way in which there is considerable profit to be gained if the timeless eternal and universal atmosphere of Vedanta is kept at the back of the mind when the worldly problems have to be met.  They can be met with this remembrance that one's true being is, and will be, safe and unaffected, and that whatever decision or action we are called to make, the first thing is to keep calm. 23.5.157

“He cannot walk this Shorter Path without rejecting the world as illusion and consequently without labelling the world's evil and suffering as illusory.  It is a hard test for him to pass, a narrow gate which bars successful travel on this Path to him if he persists in clinging to his old beliefs.  Their sacrifice is required of him--yet not blindly as a matter of faith alone but justly as a matter of reason as well. 23.1.119

 *The Real can't be merely static, actionless; this aspect is one of its faces, but there are two faces.  The other is dynamic, ever-active.  On the path, the discovery of its quiescent aspect is the first stage; this is mysticism.  But the world is always confronting him and its activity has to be harmonized with inner peace.  This harmonization can only be established by returning to the deserted world (while still retaining the peace) and making the second discovery--that it, too, is God active.  Only then can he have unbroken peace, as before it will be intermittent.  He then understands things in a different way.  24.3.310

 *The happiness he finds in certain persons, events, things, or places may pass away with time or with them, and leave him feeling so empty that it is as if they had never been in his life, or as if they had appeared only in a dream.  This is because he left them, where he found them--in the world of illusion--instead of bringing them where they become transformed--in the world of Reality.  24.3.59

 *He who can stay in the world and keep his calmness in all conditions--whether they are attractive or repulsive--who can move in society without falling victim to the desires, attachments, or greeds which afflict it, who never lets go of the still divine centre within himself whether alone and quiet or with others and active, he is the real yogi and is experiencing the true samadhi. 24.3.325

 …When we recognize that the Real is continuous with its Appearance and that the latter is indeed the very incarnation of it, when we understand that the vast universe is a presentation by the Mind to the Mind, the tendency to scorn the flesh and desert the world itself deserts us.

It is as incomplete a vision to see the world as transitory alone without its underlying reality as it is to see the reality alone with­out its manifestation as the world. The two are inseparably linked and true insight sees them as such, not as opposed to each other. The Real and its expression through the World‑Idea are, after all, not two irrevocably separate things but an unbroken unity. …“Unveiling of Reality”


"In The Spiritual Crisis of Man you say that everyone has a choice of action in life's situations. I do not understand this because, for instance, if I find a wallet on the street with identification and one hundred dollars in cash, it seems to me that the action I will take under these circumstances will be the result of my total experience (thinking) up to this point. I may feel that I make a choice between finding the owner and keeping the money because I am aware in my mind of the two possibilities but I feel that my life (or lives) up to this time would determine what I would do and so I do not really have a choice. I can see that as a person gains experience and grows towards a spiritual being that his idea tomorrow will not be what it was yesterday but the decision he makes is the only one he can make at the time.

"The idea of free will has always been hard for me to understand. What I have said above does not depress me because I feel that as we learn more our actions will be wiser but I would like to know what there is that I do not realize when you speak of man's free will." This is the text of a reader's letter. Here is my answer.

Many Orientals put all happenings under the iron rule of karma. There is no free will, no individual control over them. One has to accept them fatalistically and, if dismayed by their evil, turn to the Spiritual Source for the only real happiness. In mental attitude, in personal inward response to events, lies one's chief freedom of will.

It might, however, be questioned how far such freedom is illusory, since the response, the attitude, are themselves conditioned by the past and many other things. It is quite correct to state that the past inclines us to think and act in a certain way. But it is also admitted that we can grow, can improve our lives and change in the course of time. So this is an admission that we are free to choose to grow or to remain exactly as we were. A man who commits robbery with violence may say that he is fated to act violently. With each offense, he is arrested and suffers imprisonment. After this has happened several times he begins to change his course. Eventually he fears imprisonment so much so that he resists temptation and ceases to be a criminal. This change of mental attitude was an act of free will. His past inclined him to the old direction but it did not compel him.

One of my reader's claims that "the decision he makes is the only one he can make at the time." But the real situation is that it is the only decision he was willing to make. A man may not be conscious at first of conflict between two impulses inside himself. It is the presence of the Overself behind the ego which sets up the conflict. At first it remains in the subconscious, then in a dim vague way it becomes conscious. He may dismiss the alternative choice, but it was there all the time. Jesus said: "What you sow, you shall reap." The criminal chooses not to believe it, because he does not want to believe it. Inclinations from the past do not compel a man, but he unconsciously uses them as an excuse and claims he can do nothing else. The will is being expressed even when the man thinks he is, and seems to be, compelled to act in a certain way. It is expressed in the mental attitude adopted towards the situations in which he finds himself. Whenever he accepts the ordinary materialistic, negative, egoistic view of a situation, he is actually choosing that view. He is choosing even though he believes the contrary is true.

Where there is no choice, where circumstances make the decision, one must bow one's head to them. Fatalism is acceptable only in the sense of recognizing what is inevitable and what is not. But fatalism is unacceptable as a blind, unquestioning, helpless submission to every happening.    (9:4.25)

 Thoughts come to a person without his trying to bring them on, without his willing them into existence: they are there as a part of his human conditioning. The same applies to feelings. Where then is his freedom of choice, and what then is the use of preaching to him that he should be good or aspirational? What is the use of teachings which lull him into the belief that he is free to create his own mental states, both good and evil, when moods, emotions, and ideas happen of themselves or come to him by themselves? Is it not better for him to understand his limitations and not deceive himself, to know what he can and cannot do and thus not fall into illusions about his spiritual progress or spiritual failure? Moreover, if all is happening by the will of the World-Mind and all is comprised in the World-Idea, he himself is really doing nothing, thinking nothing, for all is being accomplished irrespective of his ego. To understand this situation and to accept it and to free himself from the idea that he is thinking, he is feeling, and he is doing, is to free himself from the illusions of personal agency, doership, and egohood as being the ultimate truth about his own experiences.    (9:4.155)
Although it is quite true that much of the vaunted free will of man is quite illusory, it is equally true that most of the events in his life, which consequently seem so predetermined, grow inescapably out of the kind of moral character and mental capacity which he possesses. They are neither merely accidental nor wholly arbitrary. Choice and reaction, attitude and decision depend ultimately on his psychological make-up and influence the course of events in a certain way. "Character is fate"--this is the simplest statement of the greatest truth. Where is freedom for man when heredity and the history and state of his family and race prearrange so many physical factors for him?    (9:3.426)


You think there is “free will!”  At the end of the day, sit down and have a cup of coffee or beer.  Relax.  Review the day and think of one action you most certainly did of “your own free will.” Something you intended and CHOSE.

Ask yourself: why did you do that action?  What motivated you?  There are one of two answers:

A.  You spontaneously acted with no forethought. A natural and spontaneous response. such as running to save someone.

B.  You acted because you had a previous thought to do it.

If you now look carefully into the previous thought, you will see that you did not “decide” to think this thought and then thought it.  “Hmm, let me see I think I will think ….THIS THOUGHT.”  No.  Thoughts arise, simply arise. You don’t decide to think them.  I, the empirical person, am hearing these thoughts as you are.

Either way, you are not the doer.   --Adopted from Ramesh Balsekar

 Whoever imagines that all his actions are entirely the result of his own personal choice, whoever suffers from the illusion of possessing complete free will, is blinded and infatuated with his ego. He does not see that at certain times it was impossible for him to act in any other way because there was no alternative. And such impossibility arose because there is a law which arranges circumstances or introduces a momentum according to an intelligible pattern. Karma, evolution, and the individual's trend of thought are the principal features of this pattern.    (9:3.536)

 In karma we find a key to many puzzles of contemporary history. It is a doctrine which warns us that we have prepared the cocoon of our present lot largely by the thoughts and deeds spun out of ourselves during bygone earth-lives and the present re-embodiment. Now the doctrine is as applicable to the history of whole peoples as to the history of single individuals. Its corollary is that our characters and minds are in travail through the ages; some are old with the rich experience of a hoary past but most are young, unwise, and ungoverned. Its lesson is that the changing tides of public fate and private fortune are not meaningless. On the contrary, they invite our philosophical consideration so that we may understand how neglected duties or positive wrong-doing are the hidden root of our troubles. Those who understand the principle of karma aright, who do not misunderstand it as being an external independent fate but see it as a force originally set in motion by our actions, understand also the significant part played by suffering in the lives of men. It is educative rather than retributive. Merited punishment is really a crude form of education. Thoughtful men learn lessons from their sorrows and resolve not to commit the same sin or the same error a second time.    (9:3.1)

  mounting the dragon

 In the final chapter of A Search in Secret India, I provided some hints of the cyclic nature of life, writing of how "every life has its aphelion and perihelion" (paraphrase). Now the time has come to particularize this statement and cast some light on the great mystery of fate and fortune. The knowledge of this truth renders a man better able to meet all situations in life, both pleasant and unpleasant, in the right way. "With an understanding of the auspicious and inauspicious issues of events, the accomplishment of great Life-tasks becomes possible," taught a Chinese sage. According to the Chinese wisdom, Tao, in its secondary meaning, is the divinely fixed order of things; under this there are four cycles of history. The first two are "yang" and the last two are "yin." This law of periodicity refers to individual lives no less than to cosmic existence. Every human life is therefore subject to periodical changes of destiny whose inner significance needs to be comprehended before one can rightly act. Hence the method of grappling with destiny must necessarily vary in accord with the particular rhythm which has come into the calendar of one's life. Every situation in human existence must find its appropriate treatment, and the right treatment can only be consciously adopted by the sage who has established inner harmony with the law of periodicity.

The sage seeks to do the right thing at the right moment, for automatic adjustment to these varying fortunes. This is called, in the Chinese Mystery School teaching, "mounting the dragon at the proper time and driving through the sky." Hence I have written in The Quest of the Overself that the wise man knows when to resist fate and when to yield to it. Knowing the truth above of the ebb and flow of destiny, he acts always in conformity with this inner understanding. Sometimes he will be fiercely active, other times completely quiescent, sometimes fighting tragedy to the utmost, but at other times resigned and surrendered. Everything has its special time and he does not follow any course of action at the wrong time. He is a free agent, yes, but he must express that freedom rightly, because he must work, as all must work, within the framework of cosmic law. To initiate the correct change in his activities at the incorrect time and amid wrong environing circumstances would be rash and lead to failure; to start a new and necessary enterprise at the wrong moment and amid the wrong situation of life, would also lead to failure. The same changes, however, if begun at another time and amid other conditions, will lead to success. The sage consults his innermost prompting, which, being in harmony with truth, guides him to correct action in particular situations accordingly. We can neither dictate to him as to what he should do, nor prescribe principles for his guidance, nor even predict how he is going to respond to any set of circumstances.

The proper course of action which anyone should adopt depends ultimately upon his time and place both materially and spiritually. In short, human wisdom must always be related to the cosmic currents of destiny and the divine goal. Man must be adaptable to circumstances, flexible to destiny, if his life is to be both wise and content. Unfortunately, the ordinary man does not perceive this, and creates much of his own unhappiness, works much of his own ruin. It is only the sage who, having surrendered the personal Ego, can create his own harmony with Nature and fate and thus remain spiritually undisturbed and at peace. As Kung-Fu-Tze (Confucius, in Western parlance) pithily says: "The superior man can find himself in no situation in which he is not himself." The wise man defers action and waits if necessary for the opportune and auspicious moment; he will not indulge in senseless struggles or untimely efforts. He knows how and when to wait and by his waiting render success certain. No matter how talented he be, if his circumstances are unfavourable and the time inopportune to express them, he will resign himself for the while and devote his time to self-preparation and self-cultivation and thus be ready for the opportunity which he knows the turn of time's wheel must bring him. He puts himself into alignment with the hidden principle which runs through man and matter, striking effectively when the iron is hot, refraining cautiously when it is cold. He knows the proper limits of his activity even in success and does not go beyond them. He knows when to advance and when to retreat, when to be incessantly active and when to lie as still as a sleeping mouse. Thus he escapes from committing serious errors.(P)    (9:3.566)



 Tao 9:

Do your work, then step back.

The only path to serenity



Since before time and space were,

The Tao is. It is beyond is and is not.

How do I know this is true?

I look inside myself and see.


Open yourself to Tao

Then trust your natural response

And everything will fall into place


The Tao never does anything,

Yet through it all things are done.



In the practice of Tao

Every day something is dropped.

Less and less do you need to do

Until you arrive at wu-wei.

When finally nothing is done (by you)

Nothing is left undone.



The sage has no mind of her own

She works with the mind of other people

She is good to people who are good

She is also good to people who are not good.



The sage gives himself up

To whatever the moment brings.

He holds nothing back from life

Therefore is ready for death

As a person is ready for sleep

After a good day’s work.



Every being in the universe

Is an expression of Tao

It springs into existence

Un self-conscious, perfect free

Takes on a physical body

Lets circumstances complete it.

That is why every being

Spontaneously honors Tao:



The Sage’s power is like this

He lets all things come and go

Effortlessly, without desire.

He never expects results

Thus is never disappointed

Because never disappointed

Thus his spirit never grows old.



Not-knowing is true knowing

Knowing about is a disease.

First realize that you are sick

Then you can move toward healing

The master is her own physican

She has healed herself of all relative knowing

thus she is truly wise.



The Tao is always at ease

Its net covers the whole universe

And though its meshes are wide

Nothing can slip through.



The Tao does not judge

The Tao does not reject anything

The Tao does not argue

The Tao is not Jewish


Wei Wu Wei [the author…]


Why are you unhappy?
Because 99.9 per cent
Of everything you think,
And of everything you do,
Is for yourself -
And there isn't one.

 A myriad bubbles were floating on the surface of a stream.
'What are you?' I cried to them as they drifted by.
'I am a bubble, of course' nearly a myriad bubbles answered,
and there was surprise and indignation in their voices as they passed.
But, here and there, a lonely bubble answered,
'We are this stream',

and there was neither surprise nor indignation in their voices,
but just a quiet certitude.

The purest doctrines, such as those of Ramana Maharshi, Padma Sambhava, Huang Po and Shen Hui, just teach that it is sufficient by analysis to comprehend that there is no entity which could have effective volition, that an apparent act of volition when in accord with the inevitable can only be a vain gesture and, when in discord, the fluttering of a caged bird against the bars of his cage. When he knows that, then at last he has peace and is glad.

Non-volitional living is glad living.

 What do you have to do?
Pack your bags, Go to the station without them,
Catch the train,
And leave your self behind.

There is no mystery whatever - only inability to perceive the obvious.

Let us live gladly! Quite certainly we are free to do it. Perhaps it is our only freedom, but ours it is, and it is only phenomenally a freedom. 'Living free' is being 'as one is'. Can we not do it now? Indeed can we not-do-it? It is not even a 'doing': it is beyond doing and not-doing. It is being as-we-are.

This is the only 'practice'.



[Eckhart Tolle]


Instead of going though life and reacting to the content that arises in your life, new things, thoughts, emotions, events, the scenery around you changes continuously.  Instead of reacting to content,  The content is allowed to be and instead of being aware of, identified with what arises in the now, you become aware of the now itself, beyond the phenomena that arise in it: that is the miracle of transformation of consciousness.  What does it mean, you become aware of the now itself? You become aware of an undercurrent of stillness in which everything happens: you sense it. Even that is not correct. You realize that you are it.   ET FOHC Track 2

Your innermost sense of self, of who you are, is inseparable from stillness.  This is the I Am that is deeper than name and form.

What is stillness?  The inner space or awareness in which the words on this page are being perceived and become thoughts

Stillness is your essential nature..  Without that awareness, there would be no perception, no thoughts, no world.

You are that awareness, disguised as a person.  P. 3  ET

 When you become aware of silence, immediately there is that state of inner still alertness.  You are present.  You have stepped out of thousands of years of collective human conditioning.  ET P.5

 You can become aware of awareness as the background to all your sense perceptions, all your thinking.  Becoming aware of awareness is the arising of inner stillness.  P.6  ET

 You become aware of the content: and aware of the field of stillness, life, awareness.  You become aware of awareness.  Attention: still attention.  You are that. ET Omega 2002

Draw your consciousness away from mind activity and create a gap of no-mind in which you are highly alert and aware but not thinking.  This is the essence of meditation.  ET. Power of Now
At that moment you become aware of silence, the consciousness beyond mind is there.  The inner silence.  There is an aliveness to it, a preciousness to it, that is not understandable by the mind.  There is a goodness to it.  Something unbelievable in that. It is like some vast power enveloping you within and without.

 Even if you never went to another talk, only remembered to listen to silence whenever possible.  Through this the new consciousness would arise more and more. ET Omega 2002

Pay attention to stillness. Underneath any noise there is a field of stillness. Normally the mind is only interested in the noise that arises, and not the silence, the stillness, out of which the noise comes and into which it goes.  The underlying field of stillness.  Pay more attention to the field of stillness than to the noises. ET Omega 2002

*59: I am telling you now the secret of life; you still have to use it…  In any experience there are things arising: inner thoughts feelings, emotions and outer people places events.

You give attention, not resisting: saying yes to the moment.  But then, there is more.  You are aware of attention itself in which the content arises: alive stillness, continuously there.  And you stop seeking yourself in the event, circumstance, content.  You are the underlying field (awareness, stillness, life, intelligence.) ET Omega 2002

 When you look at a tree, you are aware of the tree.  These seem to be true and obvious statements, yet if you look at them very closely, you will find that in a subtle way their very structure contains a fundamental illusion, an illusion that is unavoidable when you use language.  Thought and language create an apparent duality and a separate person where there is none.

The truth is: you are not somebody who is aware of the tree, the thought, feeling or experience.  You are the awareness or consciousness in and by which those things appear.    P.55  ET

 Step out of identity with the form and contents as often as you can--into the inner body, the stillness.  Yes  ET Omega 2002

 ACCEPTANCE: non-resistance//  [Eckhart Tolle]

When you say “yes” to the “isness” of life, when you accept this moment as it is, you can feel a sense of spaciousness within you that is deeply peaceful.  P.67  ET

When you say “yes” to what is, you become aligned with the power and intelligence of Life itself.  Only then can you become an agent for positive change in the world.  P.43  ET

Surrender, one could say, is the inner transition from resistance to acceptance, from “no” to “yes.”

When you surrender, your sense of self shifts from being identified with a reaction or mental judgment to being the space around the reaction or judgment.  It is a shift from identification with form—the thought or the emotion—to being and recognizing yourself as that which has no form—spacious awareness.   P.73
The way to yourself is not by improving yourself.  This is easier than improving yourself.  If life gave you a bundle of awful things, with a name for it that you didn’t even choose, still somehow it has taken you here.  Some with a bad bundle get there more quickly than those with a nice bundle of content, stuff. ET Omega 2002

 See the power of an uncompromising yes to what is, to the now.  You are no longer dependent on any content being pleasant or not.  It is accepted completely, because it is.  Something arises, so to speak, that is greater, infinitely vaster, than that which appears IN the moment: the form, event or circumstance.   ET Omega 2002

You are more aware of the now, the spaciousness in which form happens.  How do you find it?  By allowing.  Allowing the form that arises to be there, be it emotion or event. So-called good or bad.  You allow it.  You are not opposing it.  When the form is allowed to be, it takes you beyond form, into the spaciousness.  It allows you to realize that the essence of who you are is not any form that arises.  And that is a wonderful freedom. ET  2002

 Instead of being at the mercy of external conditions through surrender, you go beyond the conditions of your life which seemed so limiting, through surrender.  That’s the miracle.  And what do you surrender to?  Only now.  Nothing else is needed.  Only this moment.

So all that’s needed in surrender is this moment: it is not a lot.  It is as it is.  And you embrace this.  and that is where true power arises. ET Omega 2002

 Acceptance is not condoning: it is simply to say and see what is.  This is how these humans behave.  No matter how you judge it, you cannot argue with Isness.  You agree and accept the isness.  Then you can work with the content, try to change, compassion, etc.  but now you do it from the starting point of isness, calm, dimension of IS… Come to an inner acceptance of the isness of life right now.

Tolle/Oprah 10

The world becomes satisfying when you don’t expect it to satisfy you anymore.  And this moment becomes satisfying, because the illusion that at some time in the future it will satisfy goes away.  Suddenly you discover something long forgotten: the now.  The now had been a means to an end.  You see that almost everything you did was a means to an end.  You become aware of the now as it is, not in the service of a mentally projected self.  You discover how liberating it is to discover the now.  Miraculous.  Everything is truly miraculous.  This is truly awakening.  And you awaken into now. ET Omega 2002


More and more you live as the space in which the world happens.  Basically it means that you are the now in which it happens, not what happens, you are not the thought that happens, the emotion, the event, the situation that happens, you are none of that.  If you think you are that, it is delusion. You are not what happens, you are the space in which it happens. When you know that, through surrendering to what is, life becomes quite enjoyable.  The world of form, the dance of form, becomes enjoyable, and you know everything comes and goes. ET Omega 2002

 THE NOW: [Eckhart Tolle]

Most people confuse the Now with what happens in the Now, but that’s not what it is.  The Now is deeper than what happens in it.  It is the space in which it happens. …   So do not confuse the content of this moment with the Now.  The Now is deeper than any content that arises in it.    P.45 E Tolle

What is the present moment?  What is that?  In any experience you have, the one factor that remains constant, is the consciousness or the being, the field in which or out of which the experience arises.  The underlying field of consciousness unconditioned , pure being, deep stillness, aliveness.  Nothingness from the point of view of mind, and yet the fullness of life itself.  All phenomena come out of that.  So the now is really consciousness itself, before something comes out of it.  The timeless factor in every experience is consciousness, and it is you in the deepest sense. ET Omega 2002

 It is useful to think you can choose to be present, but you don’t really have the ability to choose to be present.  It is really the present choosing to emerge or arise.   You are only providing the space for it.  Or you align with the higher. ET Omega 2002

Challenge; how to continue to know the world and also the field in which it is happening; the now.  Everything changes, but it is always NOW.  That now is you.  The essence of you is the now.  All there is to do is to know the Now as yourself. ET Omega 2002

 No one really has that much time: it is an illusion.  It is over fairly quickly.  If something is accepted completely, you are suddenly aware of the now.  The now becomes stronger than what happens in the now.  An underlying spaciousness, a field.  At first it is something in the background, even when something undesirable happens ET Omega 2002

From Nisargadatta Maharaj  I AM THAT

EVERYTHING POINTS: Disentangle awareness: :


Whatever happens points to your existence as a perceiving center.   Disregard the pointers and be aware of what they are pointing to.   It is quite simple, but it needs to be done.  What matters is the persistence with which you keep on returning to yourself.   Ch 48 

 At present your being is mixed up with experiencing.  All you need is to unravel being from the tangle of experiences.  Once you have known pure being, without being this or that, you will discern it among experiences and you will no longer be misled by names and forms. Ch 46

 Become aware of that pure light and you will never lose it.  The being-ness in being, the awareness in consciousness, the interest in every experience—that is not describable, yet perfectly accessible, for there is nothing else.  Ch 45

 Q: how does one go beyond consciousness into awareness?

M:  since it is awareness that makes consciousness possible, there is awareness in every state of consciousness.  Therefore, the very consciousness of being conscious is already a movement in awareness. Interest in your stream of consciousness takes you to awareness.  It is not a new state.  It is at once recognized as the original, basic existence, which is life itself and also love and joy.  Ch 11

 The deepening and broadening of self-awareness is the royal way.  Call it mindfulness, or witnessing, or just attention—it is for all.  None is unripe for it and none can fail. ch67

 All you need is to be aware of being, not as a verbal statement, but as an ever present fact.  The awareness that you are will open your eyes to what you are.  Ch 98  p37

 WU-WEI: turn away, accept,  openness, allow, don’t resist.

Q: How do I go about it in practice?

M:  Whenever a thought or emotion of desire or fear comes to your mind, just turn away from it.

Q: must I not use effort?

M: It has nothing to do with effort.  Just turn away, look between the thoughts, rather than at the thoughts. ch72   

 Q: Your words “beyond the mind: give me no clue.

M:  While looking with the mind, you cannot go beyond it.  To go beyond, you must look away from the mind and its contents.

Q: In what direction am I to look?

M: All directions are within the mind!  I am not asking you to look in any particular direction.  Just look away from all that happens in your mind and bring it to the feeling “I Am.”  The “I am” is not a direction.  It is the negation of all direction.   Ch 65

Of course the self based on memory is momentary.  But such self demands unbroken continuity behind it. You know from experience that there are gaps when your self is forgotten.  What brings it back to life? What wakes you up in the morning?  There must be some constant factor bridging the gaps in consciousness.  If you watch carefully you will find that even your daily consciousness is in flashes, with gaps intervening all the time.  What is in the gaps?  What can there be but your real being that is timeless: mind and mindlessness are one to it. ch69

Remember to remember: “whatever happens, happens because I am.”  All reminds you that you are.  Take full advantage of the fact that to experience, you must be.  You need not stop thinking.  Just cease being interested.  It is disinterestedness that liberates.  ch51

 M: Don’t you see that it is your very search for happiness that makes you feel miserable?  Try the other way: indifferent to pain and pleasure, neither asking, nor refusing, give all your attention to the level on which “I am” is timelessly present.  Soon you will realize that peace and happiness are in your very nature. Ch51

M: The main thing is to be free of negative emotions -- desire, fear etc., the 'six enemies' of the mind. Once the mind is free of them, the rest will come easily. Just as cloth kept in soap water will become clean, so will the mind get purified in the stream of pure feeling.
When you sit quiet and watch yourself, all kinds of things may come to the surface. Do nothing about them, don't react to them; as they have come so will they go, by themselves. All that matters is mindfulness, total awareness of oneself or rather, of one's mind.  Ch48

M: …  for a seeker for reality there is only one meditation -- the rigorous refusal to harbour thoughts. To be free from thoughts is itself meditation.
Q: How is it done?
M: You begin by letting thoughts flow and watching them. The very observation slows down the mind till it stops altogether. Once the mind is quiet, keep it quiet. Don't get bored with peace, be in it, go deeper into it.  Ch.48

 Q: I seem to have a clear idea of what needs be done, but I find myself getting tired and depressed and seeking human company and thus wasting time that should be given to solitude and meditation.
M: Do what you feel like doing. Don't bully yourself. Violence will make you hard and rigid. Do not fight with what you take to be obstacles on your way. Just be interested in them, watch them, observe, enquire. Let anything happen -- good or bad. But don't let yourself be submerged by what happens.  CH 48


You need no more experiences.  The past ones are sufficient.  Learn from the sorrows of others and save yourself your own.  It is not experience that you need, but the freedom from all experience.  Don’t be greedy for experience: you need none. ch66

 Q: is there no need of effort then?

M:  When effort is needed, effort will appear.  When effortlessness becomes essential, it will assert itself.  You need not push life.  Just flow with it and give yourself completely to the task of the present moment, which is dying now to the now.  For living is dying.  Without death life cannot be.

Give your real being a chance to shape your life.  You will not regret it. ch33

 Nothing can block you so effectively as compromise, for it shows lack of earnestness, without which nothing can be done.  Spiritual practice is will asserted and re-asserted.  Who has not the daring will not accept the real even when offered.  Unwillingness born out of fear is the only obstacle. ch31, ch38

 Q: Am I not under the sway of destiny, of my karma? What can I do against it? What I am and what I do is pre-determined. Even my so-called free choice is predetermined; only I am not aware of it and imagine myself to be free.
M: Again, it all depends how you look at it. Ignorance is like a fever -- it makes you see things which are not there. karma is the divinely prescribed treatment. Welcome it and follow the instructions faithfully and you will get well. A patient will leave the hospital after he recovers. To insist on immediate freedom of choice and action will merely postpone recovery. Accept your destiny and fulfil it -- this is the shortest way to freedom from destiny... Ch.94

  “To act from desire and fear is bondage.  To act from love is freedom.”  NM  ch. 94

NM: You have put so much energy into building a prison for yourself.  Now spend as much on demolishing it.  In fact, demolition is easy, for the false dissolves when it is discovered. All hangs on the idea “I Am.” Examine it very thoroughly.  It lies at the root of every trouble.  It is a sort of skin that separates you from the reality.  … ch63

Forget your past experiences and achievements, stand naked, exposed to the winds and rains of life and you will have a chance. ch35

Rebel against your slavery to your mind, see you bonds as self-created and break the chains of attachment and revulsion.  Keep in mind your goal of freedom, until it dawns on you that you are already free, that freedom is not something in the distant future to be earned with painful efforts, but perennially one’s own, to be used!  Liberation is not an acquisition but a matter of courage, the courage to believe that you are free already and to act on it. ch99

Have patience with yourself for you are your only obstacle. Ch37

 You are the all-pervading, all-transcending reality.  Behave accordingly: think, feel and act in harmony with the whole and the actual experience of what I say will dawn upon you in no time.   No effort is needed.  Have faith and act on it. Ch 99

 Disregard whatever you think yourself to be and act as if you were absolutely perfect—whatever your idea of perfection may be.  All you need is courage.   Ch 82

Freedom means letting go.  People just do not care to let go everything.  They do not know that the finite is the price of the infinite, as death is the price of immortality.  Spiritual maturity lies in the readiness to let go everything.  The giving up is the first step.  But the real giving up is in the realizing that there is nothing to give up, for nothing is your own. ch73

Complete self-surrender by itself is liberation. ch84

There is nothing to seek and find, for there is nothing lost.  Relax and watch the “I am.”   Reality is just behind it.  Keep quiet, keep silent; it will emerge, or, rather, it will take you in. ch99 

 Being the source of both, the self is beyond both knowledge and power.  The nature of the self is pure awareness, pure witnessing, unaffected by the presence or absence of knowledge or liking.   Undeceive yourself and be free.  You are not a person. Ch 34

 Q:  What is the Sadhana for achieving the natural state?

M:  Hold on to the sense “I am” to the exclusion of everything else.  When thus the mind becomes completely silent, it shines with a new light and vibrates with new knowledge. It all comes spontaneously, you need only hold on to the “I Am” You will recognize that you have returned to your natural state by a complete absence of all desire and fear.  Ch 69

Give up the idea of being a person, that is all.  You need not become what you are anyhow.  There is the identity of what you are and there is the person superimposed on it.  All you know is the person, the identity—which is not a person—you do not know, for you never doubted, never asked yourself the crucial question—“Who am I?”  The identity is the witness of the person and Sadhana consists in shifting the emphasis from the superficial and changeful person to the immutable and ever-present witness. Ch 86


Q:  So far I have been following you.  Now what am I expected to do?

M:  There is nothing to do.  Just BE.  No climbing mountains and sitting in caves.  I do not even say: “be yourself,” since you do not know yourself.  Just be.

Be like that infant, instead of trying to be this or that, be happy to be. Ch. 69 and ch47

 Don’t be afraid, don’t resist, don’t delay.  Be what you are.  There is nothing to be afraid of.  Try and try.  Experiment honestly.

Give your real being a chance to shape your life.  You will not regret it. ch33