Question: Is there not another experience?
Swamiji: It is not an experience to be gained; you have enough experience of yourself. I am saying you are never away from yourself; you are not something to be gained as a new experience. You are already there, seeing me, hearing me. You never go out of the experience of yourself. You are there experiencing yourself in every experience. You are never outside yourself. You never get lost. Everything else, any object, may get lost, but you, the subject, never gets lost. Therefore, there is no question of lack of experience. In fact, you are the essence of every experience. I analyse your experiences about yourself and point out that this is what you are. Therefore there is no question about gaining an experience of atma, I, because atma is the invariable in all experiences. It is not that I must experience myself; it is that I recognize myself in all experiences. I see what I am – in seeing, hearing, walking, talking, thinking, doubting. In all of them what is there is only myself. There is only One and that One is I. To see that One is recognition. There is no experience. Experience is only with reference to an object other than yourself.
Questioner: Perhaps I was confusing the issue because I was not clear.
Swamiji: We are confused and therefore we use wrong words. Weuse wrong words and therefore we are confused. When we use right words there is no problem. If I use the word ‘experience’ for knowing myself, I will be confused. Let us stop using that word; knowing myself is a question of self recognition. So what you are asking is, “Is there such a thing as clear knowledge?”. Yes. In fact knowledge must be clear. Knowledge is not gradual, but clarity is gradual. Clarity is gradual because I keep creating doubts.
In preparing the mind for self recognition there are things that can be done to have a quiet mind. That quiet mind is experiential. So you may say that experientially you first obtain a quiet mind. That is useful, because without a quiet mind, the teaching does not work.
Question: So breathing exercises ....
Swamiji: Everything like that is experiential.
Questioner: But they are useful?
Swamiji: Everything including asana, pranayama, pratyahara is useful. It all depends upon what you want. They are useful to gain a quiet mind. But if you think these practices are going to solve the problem of knowing yourself, that is not true.
Om Tat Sat