Interview with Gangaji and Eli, April 2003
Betrayal is a word that sounds very dramatic to me, associated with being condemned to death. One betrays one’s country, one’s church, one’s faith, the trust of our fellows, our vows, the truth, etc. When you speak about self-betrayal, what do you mean?
Eli and Gangaji: Over the years of speaking with thousands of people we have both had the experience of watching moments of true understanding blossom in many people. A moment of expansion and recognition of oneself, infinitely more than what is confined to an individual body-mind.
The mind activity that arises after this experience of realization to claim the realization as “mine” is self-betrayal. From that initial betrayal either egoic aggrandizement or egoic deflation appears. In our work with the deeper use of the Enneagram we can point to the mechanics of particular mind activity, and thereby expose the tendency to betray. This exposure reveals the choice that is present in what is generally assumed to be choiceless.
The false self is who you think yourself to be, either grand or lowly. The true self is a limitless expanse of conscious intelligence.
By self-betrayal we mean betraying your true self by serving the false self. The false self calls itself “myself,” but it is based in ignorance, fear, and greed. As long as you are serving the egoic selfishness, you are betraying the pure loving intelligence that is the true heart. As long as you are following thoughts instead of love, as long as you believe the voices in your head instead of the clarity of open emptiness, you are betraying yourself.
When you betray yourself you sell out for security, comfort, or pleasure. You call the body and your body’s name your true self. This denial of your true self allows you to betray everyone else as well. If you are true to love, you cannot betray your fellow man.
If instead of realizing that you are true, formless, infinite being, you call yourself “just a human being”. You betray yourself and give yourself an excuse for continuing to act out selfish desires and fantasies. Selfish desires and fantasies cause suffering. We can surely see that on the world stage, as well as in our individual relationships.
In the US, you started last fall inviting people to retreats that you hold on the subject of “Uncovering Self-Betrayal”. To address so directly the patterns of suffering is new. Usually, the invitation is to meet Silence, to discover Love, to deepen the realization of the Truth, etc. What is the reason for this?
Eli and Gangaji: Our teacher, Papaji, had a radical plan.
Ramana Maharshi, Papaji’s teacher, was a saint and a sadhu who lived with no possessions, no children, or worldly duties. Ramana did not get involved in the world.
Papaji was a householder. He had been an officer in the British army before India’s independence, and he was married with two children to raise and a family of refugees to support after India’s partition from Pakistan. In all of this, he was a man of the world.
His radical plan was to spread satsang around the world as a vehicle for world peace and love. His prayer was that all beings of the universe live in peace and love. His action to bring this about was to send people around the world to hold satsang, announcing the possibility of instant awakening.
Because this teaching is so subtle, it is walking a razor’s edge; and because Papaji commanded everyone to live and speak satsang, sending out true teachers as well as anyone who had a glimpse, it is very easy to fall off the edge.
What we have seen over the years is that many people have learned to speak the words, and many people can radiate personal power as they speak the words of freedom. The words themselves are so powerful that they create an effect, even if spoken by a parrot. But even if all the words are correct, if there is a lack of depth, or a slight landing, or if they are only 99% true, then there will be a clunk of egoic identity that will eventually appear, usually after the public meeting is over. Usually around sex, power, and money. Now, satsang has lost its original meaning. It used to mean sitting with a fully self-realized Satguru who transmits silence and freedom. With everyone who has had a glimpse giving satsang, it has become a concept and a spiritual burden. It is becoming a new form of religion, and a poison instead of a medicine.
To be established in the truth of yourself, you must be willing to see the lies and false identity that have been running your whole life. By seeing the ways that you betray yourself, you are exposing the magician’s tricks so that you can see through them and they lose their hold. In this way you take direct responsibility for your own situation.
You needn’t wait around for next week’s satsang teacher to come to town.
There is a genuine relationship between a true teacher and a true disciple. It is a mysterious love affair that cannot be adequately put into words.
The teacher provides the transmission of silence and freedom, and has the task of guiding the earnest student to full establishment. But a teacher can only take you as deeply as the teacher has gone beyond.
Thus, we point both to the truth of yourself and to the traps and subconscious tendencies that can pull you back to needless suffering.
What had immediately pleased me when I met you the first time, Eli, was your call for responsibility. I was very suspicious of the idea that we have to leave the world, the day-to-day life, in order to discover the truth about ourselves. You told to a participant,”If you really want peace, you have first to stop all the wars where you are.” It was a direct transmission of your own commitment. And the more I meet you in retreats, the deeper I feel committed to peace where I am. Can you both share with us about this first stopping the wars where we are?
Eli and Gangaji: You cannot be responsible if you are simply reacting to the circumstances of your life. To have the capacity to respond, you must be aware of the subconscious reactions that rule most lives. To be free of these patterns, they must be brought to the surface to be exposed to the light.
There is a war inside each of us: a deep impulse to good, to love, to be kind, and an egoic impulse to defend, to hide, to be right. These impulses of the heart to openness and peace are terrifying to the egoic survival imperative of closed and guarded gates.
We can all see the horror in the world. We can perhaps also see that the horror of destruction, war, and ecological devastation are the fruits of minds filled with ignorance, fear, and greed. It is always easier to see these qualities in the enemy, but are you willing to uncover the ignorance, fear, and greed that are running just below the surface in your personal life?
In facing your demons and discovering the stillness that is already at peace, the war inside you can begin to end. When you are not at war with yourself, you can truly serve the ending of war in the world.
This is the time of the great Purification from the prophesies of the Hopi, the Maya, and other ancient people. This purification must happen in each heart, one by one, as an act of free will and choice. This is a conscious sacrifice of selfishness in the service of love and world peace.