Excerpts from an interview by Dick Sinnige in Amsterdam in 1996 for Mystèr Media.
For about 5 years now you give Satsang, and Satsang means meeting with Truth. It's an invitation to see who you really are. Welcome Isaac.
Five years Satsang?
Yeah, five years since I met Papaji.
Well it's a meeting with Truth, is there something like Truth?
What's spoken of as Truth is that which doesn't change. Because the way Truth is used in this context, is to see who you are. And all of us know, and all of us have the experience that we have many experiences, but we remain the same. From being a little boy to an older man something remains the same. Ideas might change, our beliefs might change all this thing might change, but something remains the same. And so this is what's called Truth, that which is always here, which doesn't change. So we're not speaking about relative truth.
And you got the idea of starting this Satsang from Papaji ?
My interest before I met Papaji was Truth. ... at that point it seemed to me that we were as a life form, as a species, ... were evolving and it still seems that way. And part of what needs to happen right now is a jump in the way we're operating as a species.
You really mean humanity.
Can you tell us something about this evolving?
Yes, as a species man is been around, scientists say, about two million years. Something happened with the dinosaurs and then there was an opportunity for man to take another niche in the whole ecological chain. So somehow man developed thinking, which gave him a certain advantage over other animals and then also the ability to think about thinking. So language developed about 30-60 thousand years ago, and then thinking was there with this languaging, and in this the ability to have what we call to witness, to recognize, to be aware about thinking, which seems to be unique to man. Maybe there are other species that have it also, like dolphins, we don't know what their internal world is. But certainly man has this ability to think about thinking, which gives us the possibility of having good and bad, right and wrong and to evaluate and compare. That has given us the ability to develop technologies and to come as far as we have scientifically and technologically.
But it's also brought us this ability to have what's called a dualistic mind. A split mind, me and something else, me and my mind, me and my emotions. In other words subject-object. So this produces a sense of separation, and also in this separation is fear. So what we have now is a fear based culture, you can say, that is developing technologies out of this fear and trying to solve its problems out of this fear. So this is driving us, and many people are now aware, actually in the last twenty years, of what's happening to our environment, to our Mother, our Earth. And what happens of course is, those people become aware of it. This adds to their anxiety, to the fear, and the whole separation and all the solutions, that get suggested from this, just further the problem. So the sages have been telling us through the ages, that it's possible to realize the oneness of everything, the wholeness of everything. That which Jesus, Buddha and a few other people have discovered.
Yes, because this fear seems to make people want to control things.
Yes to control things, and just the whole life style is based on that. So we can't even imagine what it will be like, if there was a mass awakening and people actually living as one. We can realize with our intellect that there is no separation, but we don't live it, we don't know it in our heart. So the possibility is that people recognize this as a real experience, as a direct experience, not as book-learned or anything else, but as their own direct experience. ...One of the things that happen when people recognize who they are, ..there is this tremendous burst of love for everyone and everything. People have been looking for everywhere to find this love, and they always look like the western song says: they're looking for love in all the wrong places. So when they discover the source of love in their own heart, in their own self, and it's not dependent on any one or anything and are able to function as this love itself, who knows what will happen in our culture, in our society. Somehow out of love, beauty comes. So I'm interested to see what happens.
It sounds quite natural.
Yes it's very natural. It's clear.
And we can see that in society there are a lot of dictators, there is a lot of suppression. How to break it?
True. In a way you could say it's hard to break,... but just historically, we've been going along, we've seen a few times in our history that things have been in a certain way, and then some discovery happens and without even meaning to, it changes everything. For example when fire was discovered, or when the wheel was discovered, or for that matter when agriculture was discovered. Just a simple discovery and everything turns around. So it's not a question of trying to break anything or trying to change anything. By itself, as something else was discovered, .. it's not going against anything at all. It's simply this discovery of something, that just makes that something outdated, you could say.
And it's right at hand.
And it's right at hand. That's what the sages have been telling us through the ages. It's actually quite amazing , because in the last ten years, of being the decade of the brain, ... there's been more information found out how the brain functions than at any other time in our history. And what scientists are discovering now, .... if you flash a light bulb, it takes a third of a second before we're actually conscious that we've seen it, so everything that we see or sense with our five senses is actually in the past. This is what the sages have been saying for years. And also this whole business of decision making.
So the world of the senses is actually a world of the past.
Yes a world of the past. Now brain looks forward. Also there is this whole idea of making decisions. By the time we're conscious of having made a decision, the decisions have already been made. And they can measure this now. There was an article in the ' Spiegel ', a magazine in Germany about this, mainstream german magazine. And many people are now starting to get interested in what is consciousness, what is going on with this thing. But what I'm speaking now are data about consciousness. My actual interest is the direct experience of who you are. And so this other thing is just like a context or a background what we're speaking now.
So what is this, when the world of the senses is past, than what is here now?
This lineage, you could say, or this invitation is called 'Advaita Vedanta', and this has been going on for a few thousand years ...
What does this mean 'Advaita Vedanta' ?
I'm actually not sure. It's just a name for this, you can say inquiry into Truth. It's 'Non-dualism'.
It's going back to the 'Upanishads' ?
Beliefs, I'm not much of a scholar in that sense. So it's basically 'Non-dualism', which is the invitation to see, ..like when we sense something, there is this feeling of subject-object. So usually we're very aware of the object and our relationship with the object, do we like that or don't we like it.... all this. We never look to see who is aware of this, who is aware of this whole process of sensing.
Now first thing which comes to mind is: I am looking at something.
Yes. So this " I ", see we keep saying " I ". So this " I ", you say I look, I think, I breath and no one examines this " I ". So when we start to examine this " I ", we then can see : ...who is this " I " that's looking ....what's your own experience, no beliefs necessary. What we can say when we start to look is, we don't actually find an " I " that's looking, there is just looking. We say I breath. Same thing, breathing is happening, and the same thing with thinking. We say I think, yet in our direct experience a thought comes into the mind, or we're aware a thought comes into our awareness, so to speak. And as it comes into awareness, we say I think We don't know where it came from So this " I " is actually a way of speaking that people have identified with. And we say I. Upon examination, really looking into this " I ", really see if you can find it, ...and many people have seen it who'd been coming to Satsang, they say : oh, there is no " I " there, it's simply a thought.
They give it enough energy.
A pattern, mechanism of thoughts and information. So then the question remains: who are you? - This activity of " I " which is basically this ability we have, to name things and then make a relationship with them. I like, I dislike, or I want, I don't want, or whatever it is. This activity, something is aware of this activity, you see. You are aware of this activity. This is beyond even " I ", beyond the feeling of " I ", because clearly, this feeling of " I " doesn't exist in deep sleep. Again, this is not a belief that anyone is asked to express...
It's practical. If you ask anyone: what's your experience in deep sleep, not dream-state but deep sleep?... they say : oh, I'm not aware of anything. There is no time, no space, no sense of " I " even And then the question is : who is aware of this?
(Laughing) But that doesn't leave much. No time, no space, no " I ".
(Laughing) : It's clear. But yet we say, this 'Something', and this is not the personal " I ", is aware of this and this whole process of personalizing isn't present. So normally this is what captures our attention, this whole process of personalizing everything and making a relationship
Ah, yes, we've come to believe that this is present.
Yes we come to believe in this entity called " I ". But really there is just life that is expressing as trees, as bacteria, as this human body, and even with this human body, there are a number of life forms happening on it and in it. And somehow this process, this body-mind-process, body-mind-stream or whatever you want to call it, ... is life, expressing itself. And we then identify with this body. So the sages advise us to look : are we actually this body ? - ....It's clear, we don't say I'm my shirt. We say, no, my shirt I take off. So then we look further : am I my hair ? ... No, my hair I can shave off. - You know this very well ( both laughing now, since the interviewer has a shaven head )
Also we can replace the heart even, still you're you. And if you loose your eyes, still you're you. If you loose the use of your legs, still you're you. When there's some part of your body injured, you're still you. So like this you can start to see that this body isn't who you are. This body is a process, there are millions of cells dying off, new cells are being remade. It's a self regenerating mechanism that goes on until it doesn't work anymore.
Realization of this gives a lot of space.
Then somehow you don't need to be afraid to die anymore because it belongs to the body..
To the body, that's correct.
Then somehow everything is floating, because....
Yes, everything is, everything is just happening spontaneously and naturally, of itself, by itself, according to some thing that we can't say what it is.
What is this ?
Nobody can say what it is. People give it a name. They try to personalize it, they say it's God or they come up with some concept, to try and grasp it......
If you have a hole in a piece of wood, and you ask someone to describe the hole, they say, it's a wooden hole. But clearly it's not a wooden hole, .....
Another way to speak of the same thing is, we have space, and in this space we build a room. So the room is build out of bricks and mortar. But the bricks and mortar are only useful for the space inside of them. We can't live in the bricks and mortar, we have to live in the space which they enclose. So now we can talk about inside-space and outside-space. But in truth, space is not been touched. I mean, this is just a way that our minds have of saying inside and outside. We knock down the walls, the space is still here, untouched. And even while the room is here, the space is still there...
There has to be awareness in which the senses are appearing, through the senses the entire universe.
In the space.
.... I'd say, even space appears in awareness, because to have any space, there has to be some awareness of the space. So space, time, matter, energy, everything appears in awareness itself. And this is... awareness is here.
So to say that, it's a hole, would not even be appropriate.
It would be as close as we can come, as kind of description.
Yes, correct. So this awareness itself is here now, it's not something that you have to do anything for. It's already here, but as soon as we have any movement of mind and we identify with this movement of mind, ..... thought is appearing in our consciousness, and with any thought there is also a feeling. So as soon as there's any thought, like I want this, then you have a feeling of lack, or any judgment then there is a feeling of judging and the whole experience of judging, or any liking or disliking or any relationship. Then there is a sense of personalizing this activity, which hides the subtlety that's underneath it, the awareness itself. And awareness itself is prior to the senses, so it can't be sensed.
Ah, .. it's really very subtle.
It's very very subtle, ever present, and everything that is is appearing in it. And that's your real nature, that's the truth of who you are.
It's beauty. But it might sound to people very strange somehow....
Strange in a certain way .....
People, they switch on the television and they see you saying this, they think : Nothing !!??
Yes, but it's so funny because this is Buddha 2500 years ago who said 'Nothing and Everything'. It's this 'Nothing' which is a funny way of trying to describe it, ....
Another way they have in the East of explaining this, is when you have gold, it can be made into various ornaments, rings and earrings and things like that. When we see a ring, we forget that it's made of gold. So everything is made up of something, it comes from something. The energy that is inherent in everything, is the same energy that's constantly shifting around and rearranging itself as different forms, as different objects. So we say energy or we call it God or we call it Brahman or Atman or we're trying to give it a name, or the Universal Consciousness. But it's just a way of trying grappling it, grapple with it with our minds. When we stop trying to grapple with it with our minds, the direct experience starts to happen. And I'm not trying to delineate between heart and head or anything like that. Heart is just a way of speaking, it's not the physical heart. It's a direct experience that is possible here and now in this instant. When you give up any effort, any past, any future, any intention and you just directly experience this instant, for one instant, something shows its face, something is recognized which is your own Self.
It seems the heart is an antenna for this, and once it is received, even the heart is gone.
Even the heart is gone, of course, yes. The heart is just a way of speaking. There is no way to speak of this actually. My teacher's teacher Ramana said, that the only way to really speak about this was in silence. .... Basically he realized himself at a young age, and went to go and sit at this holy mountain in India and just sat absorbed in bliss in the silence of his own being, not speaking to anyone. And what happened when people came around him, their mind didn't function. His silence was so profound that all their troubles would disappear, and I mean severe troubles, loosing children, divorces, all kinds of trouble that happen in life.
There is a lot of suffering.
There is a lot of suffering, and people would come and around him ... it would just fall away. So word of him spread, even though he didn't speak and didn't do anything.
Simply by being.
Simply by being. And by the end of his life, politicians would come to sit at his feet and he was recognized as a holy sage. Because of the profound effect that he had on people, people would realize, through him, through a glance, or through a touch, would recognize their own self. ...This is some kind of mystery that happens through grace. We are so convinced, because we're brought up in cultures where the conditioning is that there's only suffering. There is not another possibility, we don't know a single happy person.
Seen from this, it seems, even that which we call happiness, is also suffering, because it's still sticking to something limited.
That's true. You see, from the sages perspective, even if you have a billion dollars or you're a king and you own a whole country,....you're giving up all time, all space, the entire universe just to own this little piece of real estate. So from the sage's perspective it's a very poor bargain. They cannot understand why anyone would want to give up everything for just a mere trivial few billion dollars.
So we've been very blessed, because somehow this wisdom has been passed on. And to say passed on is not exactly true, ....again we don't know how this process happens. How come this thought will come into someone's mind? We can clearly see, right now we live in 1996, and ideas that are around in 1996 are a little different than in 1956. People have a different world view.
Yes, I was born in '56. I grew up with thinking as being very important and feeling became very important.
Our relationship to our sexuality, our feelings, our environment, has changed dramatically in the last 30 - 40 years. So we can see, there is a cultural indoctrination, or cultural view that everybody subscribes to, and we take it on.....this is what's called conditioning. And so when you meet somebody who is free of all this, then you see the possibility that ....not only can someone live like this, but that you can live like this. And then in some instant, this becomes your own experience.
I think that's the wondrous thing about you, that many people get that experience. I can happily speak also for myself.
For yourself, yes. People tell me this and I can see actually when it happens for someone, and the mystery to me is, I'm not doing anything. I'm simply keeping quiet in the truth of my own being and then somehow people recognize this in themselves. And when it happens, there is such beauty in this person's eyes, the whole face relaxes. A lot of times there is laughter and tears all happening at once, this person is just reporting : I'm home, I'm free, this is what I've always been yearning for, looking for. I now know who I am, I've realized it.
They call this highest realization. They call it ' Sahaja Samadhi ' which is the natural state. And up to now it's been very , very rare, very rare. Some yogis have been able to get to another kind of state, through extreme effort and concentration. ' Nirvalkalpa Samadhi ' they call this. But this Samadhi is only attained through effort, as soon as you relax again, the mind restarts.
So it's time-bound.
That must be suffering, because then you are in between.
Correct. So therefor they say, that anything that can be gained will be lost. You have to find That which can not be gained and not be lost, which is always present.
Which means, as seems from my perspective now, that what is needed is that you remove all the things that are in between and then it's simply there.
Correct. And this removing even, it happens by itself, by grace. Somehow it happens, we don't know how it happens. And this is the beauty somehow, ....that's why they call it ' Guru's grace ' but it's a misnomer, that it's someone, that the guru is someone. Because all that a guru is, it's someone who recognizes that there is no separation any longer, and recognizes that he or she is This that's everywhere at all time.
It seems like, one is simply being itself.
Yes, correct. And somehow this communicates itself to itself and an other, a then so called 'an other' can recognize it too. But there is no difference really. My experience is that you're my own self, you're my own heart.
Your love is the fire really.
Yes, you can say that.
But then, if we come back to the people searching, what did get into this? It's of course very easy to miss this. It's extremely strong, it's natural.
Once you know, you cannot miss it, .... truth has to be here and now already. The only moment that you can know is now. You can't know truth in the future, and you can't know truth in the past, you can only know it now. What's called enlightenment or whatever, can only happen now. Even 'enlightened' is a concept, but leave that aside for now. To speak of Truth, truth has to be here in this instant. So if you're searching, it means you're not here, you're trying to get somewhere else.
So this process is keeping you apart from it.
So this process, the actual searching, that pure mechanic of searching means that you're not finding. If somebody can hear this and really for an instant puts aside all searching, all effort, anything, and just stops, then they have some kind of kiss from Truth. I call it a kiss , because it's an inner kiss, ...
It's a soft love affair ?
A soft love affair with something that you can't see, or smell, or taste, but yet still the body responds in a way where it relaxes very profoundly and there's some dancing in the cells that some people call ecstasy. They try to describe it in different ways. So this thing happens ( Isaac laughs )
A chemistry of love.
A chemistry of love you can say. And this you can't even hold on to. It's funny because it's a byproduct really, it's recognition of the Truth of your own self.
It seems like it's there and at the same time it's not there. It's here and it's not here at the same time.
Another very famous sage Nisargadatta said : " When I'm realizing I'm nothing, then this is the truth. When I'm realizing I'm everything, then this is love. And between these two my life flows." Which I find very beautiful. So Ramana didn't say anything. My teacher Papaji, to whom I owe my whole life, everything, says : keep quiet, call off the search, you are already free.
Papaji is the guy next to your right I guess ( pointing to a picture of Papaji ).
In the picture, yes. And people ask : do you need a teacher? ....
As long as you think you're somebody, then you need somebody. I mean even a simple thing like learning to play an instrument. Or not so simple actually, you can sit with a guitar and try to find the range of cords that man has invented over time, or you can go to a teacher, and in a few weeks he can teach you all the basics and you can start to play. And how about the Truth of your own being, this which is not even an object. Very useful to have a perfect teacher, someone who knows his experience and is living it and can point you to it, just to your own Self, not to anything else, just your own Self in your own experience, not any belief system, not anything on your head, nothing you have to do, but just somehow point in a way so this experience can reveal itself to your own Self.
I think this can be very helpful.
People say it's very helpful, I know how much gratitude is in my heart for this body-mind-stream that people call Papaji.
It has nothing to do with following any sect, it has nothing to do with following any leaders, nothing.
No, this is the beauty. I can say Papaji is the one man that I've met, that never wanted anything from me.
I know another guy like that ( both laughing ).
He doesn't want my love, my appreciation, anything. He is so totally myself that I couldn't give him anything, even if I wanted to. This is the beauty, he is just so present as my own heart. Yes, what a mysterious love affair this is. I love his form, and I am his formlessness.
This then seems to express your gratitude to him.
Well traditionally they say : the only way to express your gratitude is to be This, to live with This, - because then everywhere you go, existence will be kissed by This, everyone that meets you, whether they recognize it or not, and many will not. But some people where this is starting to wake up in, will be touched, and now they recognize something and they will be attracted, just like a moth to a flame. Everybody wants ultimately to be happy, to have love and peace as their own experience.
We are not talking about sentimental love.
There is a lot of misunderstanding also about awareness. In Holland you have programs, and they are very clever. There are very good programs about mind, what ever. But as soon as they talk about awareness, they say : well that's a function of the memory ... and they really loose track.
Yes, it's interesting because this is a kind of a tricky subject for people .... this is where a lot of people get lost. You could say that awareness and perception are mixed up. In the waking-state we have the sense of perceiving, and in dream-state we see, we recognize things. And this is the sense of 'I-am-ness' that we have.
The personal perception.
The personal perception. And then clearly, when we go to deep sleep, all of this disappears. But deep sleep is a dull state, even though everybody loves to go to deep sleep. It's dull in the sense that there is no recognition of anything, we've disappeared. So now, to recognize this state in the waking-state is what this invitation is. To recognize , to be fully awake.......
And unbound. This is what they call liberation. In a way it's being asleep while awake, and awake while asleep.
This is of course where the difficulty comes from. To get this awareness, to be able to say something about it, you have to get an experience yourself, otherwise ... it's impossible.
Yes it's clear. With something as simple as the taste of a lemon, ...until you tasted it, you don't know. Even if someone says, oh it's very sour, it makes your face go like this. You don't know until you tasted it. And this has to be experienced directly. To have this direct experience is very simple and easy and yet so rare in this day and age. If you look, very few people are actually interested, even seeking, still to this point. The percentage of people that are actually seeking at this point on the planet is small, we're just at the very beginning of this seeking phenomena
Well I've read something interesting happening. They've done studies of what most people are occupied with, and for a certain period of time it was farming. Then the Industrial Revolution came and suddenly everybody moved from farming into the industrial age, everybody was working with industry. Now, the big shift has been to information, and this curve has been phenomenal. People that are involved in information, their whole work is about information. Like this is actually information what we do now. With conscious work this is the fastest growing curve at the moment. It's really exploding. My sense is, that we see a huge interest now coming, in people waking up.
Ramana put it so beautifully. He said: 'When it's a pleasant dream, nobody wakes up. When it's a nightmare, then you wake up out of your sleep.'
So now it's very fast approaching that people are recognizing we cannot continue the way we're going. Our natural systems are breaking down, I mean we all know about the Rain forest being cut down. The lungs of our very Mother Earth are fast coming to an end, where they cannot produce the oxygen we need to live, and many species are disappearing daily, and the groundwater is all polluted and and and.... You can continue with this. People know about this.
At the same time the stage has been set for a massive awakening it looks like to me. And then you see what was never born, never can die, what this whole process is appearing in. Then we see what happens, what the next step is. This is exciting.
Yes and now it is running in the right direction.
Everything serves consciousness because there is only consciousness.
From consciousness there has never been any trouble. And as soon as you fit in somewhere and you think you are separate, or you start to define things, then the trouble is there.
Correct, that's beautiful.
Then there is ..... the pollution.
Yes, then you say where is the pollution. This is what happens ( both laugh ).
But still the pollution is there.
....It seems like a paradox, we know this actually in our own experience. When you are depressed, everything seems terrible. And when you're happy, then the same room, the same world looks very different. And when you're ecstatic, again....
Yes, what to do.
Now we have to see what happens as people recognize the source of beauty, the source of love, and they live as That.....Who knows what's possible.
Yes we don't know. Tomorrow the whole world might be totally different.
And it can happen in an instant, and I think it can happen to all of humanity also very quickly. We are so hooked up. Technologically we have the ability to broadcast this interview right around the world, just like that.
It can be seen on the Internet ( laughing ).
We see how this happens. We don't know, we will see..........
The original interview, as seen on the video, is interrupted here by scenes from a Satsang.
Later, the interview is taken up again, touching on education, his interest in founding a Satsang school for small children (Isaac has his own family, children and currently a baby son), then the history of mankind and the change of consciousness therein and other related issues. But above all he explains in great detail who we really are and how simple Self-enquiry leads to the recognition of true Self, which is already always here.
The video ends with a short interview of people who have been sitting with him, their experience and thoughts about Isaac in their own words.
Excerpts from an interview by Dick Sinnige in Amsterdam in 1996 for Mystèr Media.