|A gentle teacher of deep insight, Swami Narayanam Sat-Yogi heads an ashram for the dying in Varnassi. Since 1979 he's taken the vow of silence and he communicates solely by darshan and writing. Fluent in several languages, he was a university teacher until a fateful encounter with Swami Sarvat Sivaraja. Following twelve years of austerity in seclusion, he established a spiritual rest house for the terminally ill in Varnassi at the age of fifty. This interview was conducted near a cremation ghat in Varnassi on September 6, 2004. Here are some excerpts.|
Q: How did you first become interested in yoga?
A: Everyone is interested in yoga — all persons are seeking union and liberation in some way. Ironically, as long as there is an "I" that exists it never manifests . . . am *I* clear? (laughing while gazing at empty space)
Q: Why did you go into silence?
A: Silence is not something you 'go into' — it is something you are. When you start to catch a glimmer of who you are, you will realize words are useless. For thirty-three years of this life I cared deeply about words and was fascinated with language. Now I realize that words are rough, imperfect garments. At the doors of eternity, all of us must be naked. Silence is a step towards that.
Q: Why do you focus on dying patients?
A: Because all of us are dying. Most people do not acknowledge death until their final moments – if then. I help people to see each day as a lifetime, and eventually to realize each moment as a point of death.
Q: How do you do that?
A: Simple — be one with what you do, then realize there is no doing and no doer. It is really quite easy once you get your priorities straight. In every action, ask yourself, "Where is this taking me?" If it is not towards liberation and greater non-clinging awareness, it is a waste. Most people think of yoga as something difficult to attain, but in fact ignorance is harder.
Q: So what is the main obstacle to enlightenment?
A: Why put your mind on obstacles? Watch your attention closely. If you observe closely, problems are not an issue. Problems arise when people are too pre-occupied with this world "self" to notice what is really happening. Freeze time and eliminate self, and sure enough you will find all is perfect. Always has been. Always will be.
Q: Are you concerned about the current state of the world?
A: The world is perfect. There is no problem with it. There are just problems with personally identifying with perceptions. The world has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with God. Where is the imperfection?
Q: I find this hard to believe. The human population has surpassed ten billion, many people are starving, and violence is rampant in many parts of the planet. How can you say there are no problems?
A: The phenomenal world will always be imperfect in one sense. However, imperfection is never solved on the level of imperfection. If you attempt to solve one imperfection, soon enough you will notice another one. In a curious way, the ego actually loves imperfections because it is a way to keep the mind busy and pre-occupied. Imperfection can solved only one way: from the level of transcendence. By cutting through the entire illusion and nature of duality. As long as there is duality, there is some imperfection. Remove all sense of duality, and everything is naturally perfect.
Q: So how do you actually help people who come to your ashram?
A: First of all, discard this notion that "you" are helping someone. That is an illusion. Be empty and allow divine nature manifest as needed. There is no thinking involved. The only way we can help others is when we are a vehicle for a higher power that does all the so-called "helping". Some call that God. I am not too worried about names.
Q: What is your message to the world?
A: Ask yourself, "What is the world's message for you?" As you explore that question, you will see the value in silence, simplicity, truth, and compassion.