An Improvised Conversation with Igor over Teatime at his Hermitage in Mallorca
Question: Oh, why is it happening? Why is it so hard?
Igor: Yes, “why is it so hard ?” I want to turn the tables now, and I want to ask you in turn, what would you tell someone who is much less aware, who knows much less than you do already, and has much less experiences in these terms? How would you explain to them the working of the mind? How would you explain to them that the thoughts are not to be trusted?
So, I am turning the tables, and therefore have asked you, “What words, what sentences, what metaphors would you find to convey that simple realization or simple pointer?”
Question: It’s a play of the mind.
Igor: Very good! Very good! However, this is not going to suffice. So, let’s nail it once and for all, so there is an understanding; something that you can then come back to yourself — as many times as you want to — and it will give you the possibility of relating this to others. Once you will be able to relate to others about these workings of the mind, you will able to see clearer and clearer how the mind works. The whole mind is made out of these impressions. They are known as samskaras. Ramana Maharshi even said, “The whole world is in the mind. There is no world outside of the mind.”
Whether we like or accept this Vedantist perspective, there is some grain of gold, pearls of wisdom to be reminded of — that our mind is made out of these grooves, as an old LP (long playing) record, which has these grooves with information. And the needle of our attention, the needle of our Consciousness, the needle of attention of our Awareness falls into these grooves and plays this old record — over and over and over. Outside of this there is no mind!
So, this mind, this old record is all there is.
To transcend the mind, is to flatten these grooves as much as you can, so that the needle of your attention no longer falls into these grooves.
The example perhaps is unfair, because these old LP’s are so dear; our old records are so dear. We have so many attachments to these thoughts, because we think that these thoughts are who we are — because these thoughts give us these impression that that’s what we are. And in absolutely all perennial traditions, this is what is called “not knowing.”
By definition, this is what not knowing who we are is. Not knowing who we are, is not that not knowing of who we are as God, divinity, or light, or love — all these are still words, words and more words — but not knowing who we are is because we are considering ourselves to be this stuck record… these thoughts, these continuous, non-stop tunes. And it takes courage, wisdom, insight, and illumination to realize that “I have never been that record myself. My real nature, the essence of myself, is that needle, is the point of attention — and not the record! As long as I am thinking of myself as the record, as that old dusty LP, that’s all there is — that’s where all the suffering kicks in, that’s where all the discontent kicks in, because some tunes we like and we play them over and over. But then, no doubt, there comes a tune that we hate — that’s all there is! How does that affect the needle of attention? It doesn’t!
We can now make this example even more sophisticated a little bit more sophisticated. It’s not even the needle of attention; it’s the laser beam of the next generation of records that we had enjoyed some time ago, which were called “CD’s.” And the digital information on that disk, that CD, is that which is the content of the mind, but our attention is what chooses what to play on that disk. That laser beam of our attention, the laser beam of our awareness, is where we ought to turn to each time we are consumed by the content of any thoughts.
And I know it is perhaps less fun, but it is easier to turn your attention when you have negative thoughts — the so-called thoughts which produce discontent and suffering — because when we are enjoying our thoughts, we are taking them for granted; we are taken for a ride. And that is what it takes at some point, for a yogini to be aware of all the content of thoughts — it doesn’t matter if they are positive or negative — because you no longer identify yourself with the LP, with the CD, with the content of that mind-tune.
Now, fine, we gave this example: the question may arise:
So wait a minute, what makes me a human being then, if I discard this LP, if I discard the entire person that I know?
That is what cracks all this, you see? That is where the fear of the genuine shift comes. What we are afraid to discard is that pseudo-sense of personality, the pseudo-sense of identity, and it is pseudo, because that is not what we are. Or rather, we are accustomed to considering ourselves to be the recollection of these grooves, where the needle point of attention falls into repeatedly. But how can that be who you are? It cannot be!
And overcoming that fear — not being afraid to discard that record — you are not discarding anything whatsoever! All you are discarding is simply the content of some thoughts. And guess what? The amazing thing is, that because of the nature of Consciousness, it can create any grooves — as much as it wants to. You can cut new grooves, new pathways for the mind to work at your own will, and no longer be subjected to the same grooves! So, in other words, even if you are discarding that old record that keeps getting stuck, you are not discarding your personality, because your personality belongs to that laser beam of your attention. What your attention falls into — which is known as projection — gives you back a picture, a reflection, and you very quickly identify with that. This is in the nature of our Consciousness. This is a tremendous freedom that you can entertain anything you want at will. All it takes is a little persistence and a little discipline — not even a lot of discipline — just some discipline.
It’s this attachment to that collector’s item; it’s that attachment to that record which must have cost a lot of money because it is an old Bee Gees first LP; it’s this attachment to that which we think ourselves to be. This is why we have satsang, and this is why we have darshan, so we can break that attachment. And that attachment doesn’t break who we are; it only reveals who we are. And it is that continuous revelation of who we are, that brings truth home and brings freedom. Just as those teachers and those speakers have said quite few times before in the last couple of years — you remember that reminder that our culture is excessively identified with thinking? And whenever we think that going beyond thinking somehow has the danger of making us dumb beings, that is simply because thinking is greatly overestimated.
We forget that thinking itself is rooted in being. The more we are rooted in being, then our thinking is only subordinate to that state of being. So, remember that, and don’t let that erroneous assumption that, “I am that record,” create a cast over your natural state.
You are not the record; you are the beam of light —laser sharp —that creates the focal point of attention, and illumines the content of whatever it is fallen into that groove. Take yourself out of that groove, and know yourself as that freedom of choice — as that freedom of being.
Question: So, we have this freedom of thought, this freedom of choice…of where we place our attention. If everything is just a projection, then what value does anything have? I mean, where do you place your attention?
Igor: This is the question of questions! It’s not just existential. What you are asking now here — whether you realize it or not — you are touching upon the heart of the matter; what the spiritual business, the whole enterprise, is actually here for. This is also the very essence of the dharma; the preservation of dharma is directing the focal point of attention of the individual consciousness, so that the collective consciousness can entertain life supporting, life affirming qualities of what we here collectively agree has certain aspects and qualities that — irrespective of differences in culture — are considered to be universal. These are those yamas and niyamas and the commandments, irrespective. The culture may be very different; the spaghetti and the noodles may have thousands of miles between, but in both cultures where this food is a staple, certain aspects are cherished on account of that inherent goodness that we know is the essence of what our natural state is here.
But, before we go into this, I would like to give you a further example with the focal point of attention, when we have replaced the needle for the laser beam. The technology has still moved further, and the music that we hear now — at the tip of our fingers, from all these devices including these devices that we carry, these iPhones, pocket phones — is not played because the laser beam falls into the digitally recorded information. This music is picked up in the photonic layer of the ether. This music is already in the ether element, you see?
All this which is being played by these devices — now wire-free Bluetooth, iCloud — just shows you that all this information is out there. Of course, it is coded; of course, this is still a sophisticated field of mathematics. All this is coded, and is all in the form of certain mathematical frequencies, algorithms… And these sounds out there contain a gazillion number of tunes already, and yet it picks with incomprehensible precision the tune that you want to play, in not an unlike manner as from all these thoughts — all this information field — which surround us and literally, we are here to pick what we want to be entertained by.
Just as you decide, “Now I am going to play Snatam Kaur,” or “I am going to play Bob Marley,” it’s the same decision about what you are in the mood for. Then why should that not be the same in relation to the mind? That is the question you should ask yourself with the example given — which is not far from the truth of how the mind works. All the thoughts are here in the ether, all these movements, thoughts, clouds, streams… What do you want to stream? What do you want to broadcast? That is the question.
So, that also means to reprogram yourself, so that you can tune in to the sounds, tune in to the tunes that you prefer to be entertained with. Again, I am reminding you — rather than having something downloaded into you, imposed upon you, by a simple manner of conditioning — it is as simple as that!
Of course, it is easier said than done, and we are still affected by all this stream of information that has created these invisible grooves, because the example with the LP was easy. Now it’s more complex and open to great imagination — how can that work? All this information field is available, but it is how you are tuned in, it’s how you are programmed.
Question: And so, you receive what? A symbol or a sign that would direct you to what you should tune into or you just pick… or what?
Igor: No, you have to stick with that reprogramming, keep reprogramming yourself from these thoughts, reprogramming yourself from being in the groove. And that reprogramming begins again from not identifying with them, because if you are identifying, and calling these thoughts to be you — “I am these thoughts” — then immediately you become these thoughts and your field is affected by these thoughts. Everyone knows that.
The wise and the ignorant know the power of thought; the power of thinking is that. It then changes the chemistry in the body, it affects our mood, it affects our hormones, and in turn this circuit, the circle, is locked. This is what it means to be a prisoner of the samskaras. This is the wheel of samsara within, locked — and that is what some other teachers call, “suffering hell” and so forth. To take yourself out is to consciously and constantly reprogram yourself… but you will slip many times, of course, because there is the sheer habit…
Question: And the people around you also inform you…
Igor: Yes, the people around you solidify that. They don’t inform you on the account that they do that consciously; it is you who decodes that information. If you fall victim to that, then you simply realize, “Okay, I am still programmed.” So that is also what it means to break away from the matrix of that programming. In other words, freedom would not be what freedom is, if it was easy to break away from this matrix of programming, of being programmed.
But it takes great insight, imagination, and thinking outside of that groove, outside of the box — to not be afraid to be reprogrammed because there is a “safety mechanism” at work, because your thoughts also create that pact, where if you cannot imagine yourself without these thoughts, then it means that your identity was these thoughts. It’s that very safety net of who you are, and that by definition is what is known as “ignorance.”
If you cannot imagine yourself being outside of the content of your thoughts, if you identify with the content of your thoughts to the degree of, “That’s who I am!” and insist and beat yourself on the chest like most human beings do — “I am who I am because that’s what I am, that’s what I am thinking, that’s my world!” Well, sorry sages will come and go, that’s how they do their job, few will break free others will suffer — that’s as simple as it is. And guess what? It’s all in the nature of Consciousness! It’s all in the nature of the focal point of your attention — whether that is a hard needle, a laser beam or simply attention picking up something in that photonic layer, that layer of ether that encircles our planet. That’s all there is. But reprogramming is a must.
Question: I feel as if you avoided my question, because I have asked you very specifically, “What does one place their attention on? Do we place their attention on being God? Do they place their attention on being…?”
Igor: No, your attention is not even in what I am saying to begin with! Retrace back and see and hear again what I have said. I said,
“Your attention is not on the content of the stuck record; your attention is on that photonic beam of light, which is your attention, your awareness.”
You place your attention on what recognizes these thoughts. You turn away from the screen, and look at the projector where the light comes from. As long as you are staring at the screen of your projection, you are completely immersed in the drama of what is happening! You are that focal point of attention — you are not the record, you are not the disc, you are not that stream of thoughts.
Question: What…I am is silence then.
Igor: Don’t give it a name!
Question: But you just named it “light!”
Igor: Just turn your attention to what illumines these thoughts.
Question: I am trying to get the quality or…
Igor: I am giving you this hint. Turn your attention to what recognizes these thoughts. Who is the one who illumines these thoughts? It’s a simple method of self-inquiry. Who is thinking this? To whom do these thoughts belong? Do they belong to the body? Do they belong to the mind? Do they belong to the subtle? Where do they come from? I am simply giving you another example here, an easy example;
at the moment when the thoughts begin to dominate, you turn your attention to what recognizes these thoughts, what illumines them — recognizes means illumines them — that’s the focal point of attention.
And you also asked earlier, what to pick in this field, right? What to place your attention on? Reprogramming has one very special, unique feature to it; reprogramming also sets you in the evolutionary direction. It already has something in itself that unwinds this whole process of being dependent on thinking, because this dependency simply comes from the place of that blind identity and thinking, “No, I know myself, I know I am” — whatever name, this that — perennial programs, “I know myself.”
These are the seeds of ignorance. As long as you have the seeds of ignorance, that will constantly be the source of your instruction. That’s what instructs you. Breaking away from this leads to freedom, and certain trajectories are set in motion. It progressively keeps reprogramming itself, and that is what every seeker of truth, everyone who is after freedom experiences at some point — not knowing who you are. That is a blessing in disguise! Not knowing who you are, is much better than being so convinced of who you are not! Just ponder that!
Not knowing who you are is better, than being convinced who you are not.
Question: That’s easy for you to say.
Igor: Yes, it’s easy and that is why I am saying it! It’s my job to say that. If it wasn’t my job to say that, I would have not ventured in saying that. That is why it is said, “Only the one who truly desires liberation will get liberation.” It’s not going to be given to the one who thinks he will get it because it will just be granted. No! This lazy man’s approach to enlightenment — like some teachers promulgate — it’s never going to work. It belongs to the daring. It takes the quality of daring here.
– An Improvised Conversation with Igor over Teatime at his Hermitage in Mallorca. Transcribed from an audio recording. Alaro, Mallorca, Spain. July 2017
1 Samskaras – individual latent impressions, innate tendencies, or imprints of past actions and thoughts that remain in the subtle body. When the Kundalini is awakened, these impressions are “stirred up” and brought to the surface of one’s awareness, and eliminated as part of the inner purification process.
2 Ramana Maharshi – a well-known sage (1879 –1950), who at age 16, spontaneously initiated a process of self-inquiry that culminated within a few minutes, in his own permanent awakening. Shortly thereafter, he left home to travel to the holy mountain Arunachala, Tiruvannamalai, where he remained for the rest of his life.
3 Vedanta or Advaita Vedanta – one of the six orthodox schools of Indian Philosophy, and the first school of Vedanta philosophy. It adopts a position of absolute nonduality, and its central teaching is the oneness of the jiva, the individual soul with the Absolute — Brahman. Advaita Vedanta has no individual founder, as its roots are in the Vedas; however, the great sage Adi Shankara was responsible for consolidating these teachings around the 8th century CE. The primary texts of Advaita Vedanta are the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Brahma Sutra.
4 Satsang – from the Sanskrit sat, “holy, truth, good” and sanga, “meeting or come together. Thus, it is holy company, or the keeping the company of the wise, godly, God-minded who speak the truth. When devotees get together and meet for purposes of hearing scriptures, sitting in the presence of a holy being, guru, or saint, this is satsang.
5 Darshan is seeing or being in the presence of a holy being or sacred idol or place.
6 Dharma – righteousness, one’s religious duty, natural law, and it is the basis of all social and ethical order — a “right way of living.” Dharma is considered an essential value for attainment of Self-realization.
7 Yamas and Nyamas – Yoga’s ethical guidelines for living; yamas are the restraints involved in our interactions with others (e.g., nonviolence, truthfulness, etc.), and the niyamas are personal practices relating to our inner world (e.g., purity, contentment, etc.).
8 Wheel of Samsara – the eternal cycle of birth and death that all beings pass through; it is the repeating cycle of birth, life and death of reincarnation. During the course of each life, the result actions performed, as the law of couse and effect (karma) determines the future destiny of each person. This concept of samsara is closely associated with the belief that the person continues to be born and reborn in various realms in the form of a human, animal, or other being, depending upon karma.