23rd January, 1936
Mr. P. Brunton: Why do religions speak of Gods, heaven, hell, etc.?
Maharshi: Only to make the people realise that they are on a par with this world and that the Self alone is real. The religions are according to the view-point of the seeker. Take the Bhagavad Gita for instance: When Arjuna said that he would not fight against his own relatives, his elders, etc., in order to kill them and gain the kingdom, Sri Krishna said, "Not that these, you or I, were not before, are not now, nor will not be hereafter. Nothing was born, nothing was dead, nor will it not be so hereafter" and so on. Later as he developed the theme and declared that He had given the same instruction to the Sun, through him to Ikshvaku, etc. Arjuna raised the doubt, "How could it be? You were born a few years ago. They lived ages ago." Then Sri Krishna understanding Arjuna's standpoint, said: "Yes. There have been so many incarnations of myself and yourself, I know them all but you do not know." Such statements appear contradictory, but still they are correct according to the viewpoint of the questioner. The Christ also declared that He was even before Abraham.
D.: What is the purpose of such descriptions in religions?
Maharshi: Only to establish the Reality of the Self.
D.: Bhagavan always speaks from the highest standpoint. Sri Bhagavan (with a smile): People would not understand the simple and bare truth - the truth of their every day, ever-present and eternal experience. That Truth is that of the Self. Is there anyone not aware of the Self? They would not even like to hear it (the Self), whereas they are eager to know what lies beyond - heaven, hell ,
reincarnation. Because they love mystery and not the bare truth, religions pamper them - only to bring them round to the Self. Wandering hither and thither you must return to the Self only. Then, why not abide in the Self even here and now? The other worlds require the Self as a spectator or speculator. Their reality is only of the same degrees as that of the spectator or thinker. They cannot exist without the spectator, etc. Therefore they are not different from the Self. Even the ignorant man sees only the Self when he sees objects. But he is confused and identifies the Self with the object, i.e., the body and with the senses and plays in the world. Subject and object - all merge in the Self. There is no seer nor objects seen. The seer and the seen are the Self. There are not many selves either. All are only one Self.
Talk 144 Talk 146