Satsang with Babaji

rishikeshStudent:  What is relative free will?
Babaji:  Most people have a hard time with this.  They think in terms of choice.  Ramana Maharishi says there is no free will.  Relatively speaking, there is no free will.  There may be choice based upon relative free will, but the problem with choice is that it is all wound up with karma and samskaras.  Anyone who does not believe in reincarnation cannot adequately explain cause and effect.

Student: When referring to the Atman, there seems to be an ego-identification with it, as opposed to Brahman.  Can you explain?
Babaji: Atman is Brahman, but apparently modified by the five sheaths.  One sheath is the ego and the Atman associates with it.  It is not all bad.  It is not the same idea as having a “big ego,” etc.  Philosophically it means the sense of separation.  It is an illusion, really.  There is no separate identity from Brahman.  Now, in an illumined being the ego all but disappears, and what is left becomes very sweet.  Whatever the case, Atman has this ability to identify with its own coverings.  But it can also strip them away, ride its Devatmashakti, and easily withdraw from all obscurations.  Then it is nothing other than Brahman.

Student: It seems like Knowledge is the best way to attain realization.  But there are other approaches, like devotion, meditation, etc.
Babaji:  I agree with you, Knowledge is essential.  It defeats ignorance.  And there is Paravidya, supreme Knowledge.  The problem arises with secular or merely intellectual knowledge only.  The ego gets in and declares “my knowledge.”  But true knowledge is both infinite and impersonal.  Sri Ramakrishna stated that it was Ma Sarasvati Who kept supplying him with His amazing Wisdom.  We should take a clue from Him.

Student: Then it seems that devotion can only be raised by Knowledge.
Babaji: We think alike.  Superficial bhakti needs knowledge to ripen it.  True Bhakti is Wisdom.  If you have natural bhakti, and attempt any of the other three yogas, you will be successful.  You cannot necessarily say that of the other yogas.  If you want to know God and love God, and do not already have natural bhakti, then purify the mind with knowledge.  As Sri Krishna says, “Of all the great purifiers, knowledge is the greatest.”

Student: If you merge in God, do you have individuality anywhere?
Babaji:  One never leaves Brahman; you just dream yourself away from It.  “Merging” is a dualistic term.