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There is No Doer – The Story of the Rock

Ramesh Balsekar

Ramesh Balsekar

An ordinary human being would not usually begin anything unless he has a motive, an end to fulfil, and the means with which to achieve that end. But for the jnani living his life spontaneously, having already lost his sense of personal doership, he has nothing to achieve and is therefore not concerned with the means either. When the ego (identification with a personal entity as a “me”) goes, all personal sense of doership and achievement goes with it. Then all that happens through the body-mind organism is merely witnessed, without any comparison or judgement.

A wave in the ocean, if it were to animate and become infused with intellect, would at once begin to think in terms of a separate “me”, and would instantly make itself unhappy by comparing itself with other waves. Once it identifies itself as a separate entity, it loses its identification with the ocean. By identifying yourself with a body-mind organism as a separate entity with a sense of doership, you lose your identity with Totality. How does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul, his identity with Totality? You may gain the whole world yet it is still only an infinitesimal part of the enormous illusion of the universe, and in the process you lose your identity with Totality. And with the gain of the whole world comes the fear that you may lose it someday! The jnani, on the other hand, having realised his true nature as spirit when unmanifest, and as the Totality when manifested, is totally disidentified from the personal entity. Neither the end nor the means has any interest for him.

When the jnani does explain the truth that the human being is merely an instrument through which Totality functions, and that the human organism (infused with breath and intellect) cannot possibly have any kind of volition, the spiritual aspirant cannot possibly accept this. “How can the world go on without personal motivation?” The jnani will probably leave the matter at that, knowing that truth cannot be accepted without the appropriate receptivity, which itself is a matter of grace. Or perhaps he may relate the story of a rock lying in a pile: A child going home from school at the end of the day picked up the rock and threw it in the air. The rock was delighted and told his colleagues in the pile: “we all wished we could fly, but it is only me who can do it, and here I am in the air like a bird.” It hit the window pane and the glass was shattered, and the rock said, “This is what happens when something gets in my way. I break it into small pieces. So beware.” The rock fell on a mattress kept in the sun on the balcony, and it said, “I was obviously expected and my host has kept this soft mattress for me to rest on.” Hearing the sound of breaking glass, a servant came to the balcony, saw the stone and picked it up, and the rock thought, “Here I am being welcomed like royalty.” The servant threw the rock back into the pile, and the rock said to his colleagues, “I was beginning to feel homesick, and here I am back home among you, after a wonderful experience.” The child threw the rock because that was his nature, the rock came in contact with the glass and according to the inherent nature of each, the glass broke. The mattress happened to be where it was, and the servant threw the rock out, but the interpretation by the rock of a perfectly natural, spontaneous event was purely personal.

Breathing goes on by itself and the person thinks he is breathing. Thoughts come from outside – every fresh thought after a mental event is a spontaneous event – and he thinks it is he who is thinking. Thoughts get transformed into action, and he thinks it is he who is acting! The jnani on the other hand, merely witnesses the event of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling or tasting as an event in which he is not concerned as an individual because the sense of personal doership has evaporated altogether.