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Question from Sandeep Sandy, posted in Conversations With Avant-garde Sages):

What is an Avant-garde Sage?


Robert Saltzman:

There are no "masters." All of us--Buddha, Ramana, Nisargadatta, Dalai Lama, are just ordinary human beings. We tell you that explicitly, but you refuse to believe it. Ask yourself why you refuse to believe it.


A guru is just a human being like yourself. "Guru" simply means teacher. There is a time in life to have a teacher, perhaps, but that person should never be worshiped. Listen to the message-but kill the messenger.


Reincarnation is nonsense. You are having enough trouble and suffering right now in this life. Why would you ever want another? If you will simply awaken to this very moment, you will not even want another moment, much less another life. You will not want anything.


There is no path, and no one to walk it. Gradual awakening is a fantasy which imagines time and space which do not exist. One awakens to truth now. Only now.


You are standing in a river dying of thirst. All you desire is here now. You are that. Stop riding a donkey looking for a donkey.


Scripture is dead. Only you are alive. Forget words, and find out what you are. Everything you need to know will be apparent to you if you simply become silent. Don't listen to what others believe, just be yourself.



Kiran Bhagat:

I really like this.. May I ask. How does one awaken to truth?


Robert Saltzman:

Hello, Kiran,


As Krishnamurti once said, "There is no how to be free."


When views, opinions, and other such thoughts arise, just let them go. They don't mean anything important. Find the silence within, and you will instantly know everything you need to know in that moment. Each moment is a new moment. Just be quiet, and you will understand.


Kiran Bhagat:

Sir. I am very keen to understand this. However, I am truly a novice. I simply feel that when I try this, it is just another part of me pretending to be the silence. How does 'one' know the difference?



Robert Saltzman:

Very good question, Kiran. I was interviewed about this kind of thing at length in Nonduality Magazine, and instead of trying to reply here, I will refer you to that interview. Perhaps there will be something in it for you. I admire your honesty and desire to be free. That desire is the only real desire--the only one worth pursuing.




Kiran Bhagat:

Thank you Sir.I shall read this. May I ask another question please. It is about the human condition. I am a Clinician. In my daily practice, I see a great deal of human pain and suffering. I work in Africa. We see the effects of famine, drought, malnutrition and frank destitution. I have asked this questions many a time to others on this site and elsewhere. But I am not quenched by their explanations. How is there is such pain? What deserves a child to go through severe hunger and gut wrenching suffering?



Robert Saltzman:

Yes, I am a clinician too--a psychotherapist--and also have to witness much suffering, including suicide, intense hatred, total confusion, and other such mental illnesses. We human beings suffer a lot in this life due to the animal bodies and animal brains which constitute our ordinary presences. No one "deserves" to suffer. Suffering is the price we pay for embodiment. We clinicians are those who attempt to alleviate this suffering by means of helping techniques which we have studied and learned. That is our work, and we must suffer to perform it. Embrace that kind of suffering, Kiran, it is a gift.


 Kiran Bhagat:

Sir, in the greater scheme, with the awareness you speak of that comes about, how does one attempt to understand why there is such dis-ease. I read from these and other sites - the use of words such as destiny and fate/karma etc. As a physician, this is a difficult pill to swallow in the midst of dis-ease. Take for example, child euthanasia, in the context of pain and suffering bound contextually with lack of financial resources in a setting of a developing world. Whilst one attempts to dissect out the awareness that you speak of that transcends all activites - it seems difficult to practice at such a relative world of daily clinical activity. Am I mistaken?       


Robert Saltzman:

No, you are not mistaken. We must live ordinary lives, and, within those lives, we must continue to suffer what we suffer, including the sadness you feel when witnessing the suffering of others.


Words like "destiny" or "karma" do not explain anything. They are just words. Words like that are like giving candy to a baby to stop her from crying. Foolish people imagine that "awakening" means the end of suffering, and imagine that there are so-called "masters" who have somehow "transcended" being human beings with human lives. This is nonsense. Anyone who tries to "awaken" while holding on to a selfish motive ("I don't want to suffer") will never awaken. When one of us is suffering, we are all suffering. When someone thinks "I am this, but you are that," he or she splits the universe in two.


I see that you are a person of great heart and a love of humanity. Those are beautiful attributes. Stay with them. While you are staying with them, learn to be silent inside. I mean silence in the midst of suffering. If you will do that, Kiran, you will come to understand everything you need to understand. I promise you this.       


Kiran Bhagat:

Sir your words strike a deep chord.Almost axiomatic. It would seem from your comments that most of what has been written is in vain? I am sure you will agree how difficult it is to seek that silence when seeing the pain. May I ask - this is not the same as seeing life as deterministic/fatalistic? That what one sees is part of a greater scheme of things?



Robert Saltzman:

Don't get lost in logic. Let the mystery remain.


Kiran Bhagat:

Sir, perhaps it is being too left brained. But is it not logic and reason that has prevailed over much else that shrouded humanities development in the sciences?


Robert Saltzman: Yes, Kiran. Logic is important, and science has done wonderful things. I appreciate that level of understanding, and even spend time working on that level. But there are other levels of being--countless ones. For some of them, the price of admission is leaving logical mind at the door, and participating in wonder, mystery, and not-knowing.



Kiran Bhagat:

Forgive me for labouring the issue Sir. I simply seek insight. As one such as I, that seems to operate at a very basic plane of practical performance; how is one informed in the use or access of other planes of consciousness. As a Clinician you will appreciate the abandonment that occurs with use of this word- much like the abused term 'quantum'. I humbly seek your reply.



Robert Saltzman:

I do forgive you, Kiran. As I said, I admire your honesty and desire to be free.


It is not a matter of trying to do anything, Kiran, except to allow thoughts, opinions, feelings, and views to pass away as they arise without clinging to them or spinning them into narratives.


For example, if I see a child suffering, as you often must in your work, I would feel what I feel, but then allow those feelings to pass away. I would not cling to the feelings. I would not justify them. I would not take those feelings and abstract them into a recital of the injustice of the world, or an account of man's inhumanity to man. This does not mean that you ignore suffering, but that you do not add to it with your own imagination.


If you will simply do this with whatever arises, pain, pleasure, or whatever--see it, feel it, and let it go--sooner or later a quiet state will arise with no particular effort to be quiet or to produce any particular state of mind. In that quietness, you will understand, in a wordless way, that which you need to understand.



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