I am that by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - HTML preview

PLEASE NOTE: This is an HTML preview only and some elements such as links or page numbers may be incorrect.
Download the book in PDF, ePub, Kindle for a complete version.
“a modern spiritual classic”

I

AM

THAT

Talks with

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

The real does not die, the unreal never lived.

Once you know that death happens to the body and not to you, you just watch your body falling off like a discarded garment.

The real you is timeless and beyond birth and death.

The body will survive as long as it is needed. It is not important that it should live long.

index-2_1.png

I

AM

THAT

Talks with

SRI NISARGADATTA MAHARAJ

Translated

from the Marathi taperecordings by

MAURICE FRYDMAN

Revised and edited by

SUDHAKAR S. DIKSHIT

THE ACORN PRESS

Durham, North Carolina

Copyright © 1973 by Nisargadatta Maharaj

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, by any means, including mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Originally published by Chetana Pvt. Ltd., Bombay, India, 1973, 3d ed.

1981, reprinted 1983. Published by arrangement with Chetana in the U.S.A. and Canada by The Acorn Press, P.O. Box 4007, Duke Station, Durham, North Carolina . Published in hardcover 1982, reprinted 1984,1985, 1986.

First American Paperback 1988

Third printing 1992

ISBN: 0-89385-022-0

Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 81-66800

Photographs by Jitendra Arya

Printed in the United States of America

That in whom reside all beings and who resides in all beings, who is the giver of grace to all, the Supreme Soul of the

universe, the limitless being — I am that.

Amritbindu Upanishad

That which permeates all, which

nothing transcends and which, like the universal space around us, fills

everything completely from within and

without, that Supreme non-dual Brahman

— that thou art.

Sankaracharya

The seeker is he who is in search of himself.

Give up all questions except one: ‘Who am I?’ After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The ‘I am’ is certain. The ‘I am this’ is not. Struggle to find out what you are in reality.

To know what you are, you must first

investigate and know what you are not.

Discover all that you are not — body,

feelings, thoughts, time, space, this or that —

nothing, concrete or abstract, which you

perceive can be you. The very act of

perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive.

The clearer you understand that on the level of mind you can be described in negative

terms only, the quicker will you come to the end of your search and realize that you are the limitless being.

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Foreword

That there should be yet another edition of I AM THAT is not surprising, for the sublimity of the words spoken by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, their directness and the lucidity with which they refer to the Highest have already made this book a literature of paramount importance. In fact, many regard it as the only book of spiritual teaching really worth studying.

There are various religions and systems of philosophy which claim to endow human life with meaning. But they suffer from certain inherent limitations. They couch into fine-sounding words their traditional beliefs and ideologies, theological or philosophical. Believers, however, discover the limited range of meaning and applicability, of these words, sooner or later. They get disillusioned and tend to abandon the systems, in the same way as scientific theories are abandoned, when they are called in question by too much contradictory empirical data.

When a system of spiritual interpretation turns out to be unconvincing and not capable of being rationally justified, many people allow themselves to be converted to some other system. After a while, however, they find limitations and contradictions in the other system also. In this unrewarding pursuit of acceptance and rejection what remains for them is only scepticism and agnosti-cism, leading to a fatuous way of living, engrossed in mere gross utilities of life, just consuming material goods. Sometimes, however, though rarely, scepticism gives rise to an intuition of a basic reality, more fundamental than that of words, religions or philosophic systems. Strangely, it is a positive aspect of scepticism. It was in such a state of scepticism, but also having an intuition of the basic reality, that I happened to read Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj’s I AM THAT. I was at once struck by the finality and unassailable certitude of his words. Limited by their very nature though words are, I found the utterances of Maharaj transparent, polished windows, as it were.

viii

No book of spiritual teachings, however, can replace the presence of the teacher himself. Only the words spoken directly to you by the Guru shed their opacity completely. In the Guru’s presence the last boundaries drawn by the mind vanish. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj is indeed such a Guru. He is not a preacher, but he provides precisely those indications which the seeker needs. The reality which emanates from him is inalienable and Absolute. It is authentic. Having experienced the verity of his words in the pages of I AM THAT, and being inspired by it, many from the West have found their way to Maharaj, to seek enlightenment.

Maharaj’s interpretation of truth is not different from that of Jnana Yoga/Advaita Vedanta. But, he has a way of his own. The multifarious forms around us, says he, are constituted of the five elements. They are transient, and in a state of perpetual flux.

Also they are governed, by the law of causation. All this applies to the body and the mind also, both of which are transient and subject to birth and death. We know that only by means of the bodily senses and the mind can the world be known. As in the Kantian view, it is a correlate of the human knowing subject, and, therefore, has the fundamental structure of our way of knowing. This means that time, space and causality are not

‘objective’, or extraneous entities, but mental categories in which everything is moulded. The existence and form of all things depend upon the mind. Cognition is a mental product.

And the world as seen from the mind is a subjective and private world, which changes continuously in accordance with the restlessness of the mind itself.

In opposition to the restless mind, with its limited categories —

intentionality, subjectivity, duality etc. — stands supreme the limitless sense of ‘I am’. The only thing I can be sure about is, that

‘I am’ not as a thinking ‘I am’ in the Cartesian sense, but without any predicates. Again and again Maharaj draws our attention to this basic fact in order to make us realize our ‘I am-ness’ and thus get rid of all self-made prisons. He says: The only true statement is ‘I am’. All else is mere inference. By no effort can you change the ‘I am’ into ‘I am-not’.

Behold, the real experiencer is not the mind, but myself, the light in which everything appears. Self is the common factor at the root of all experience, the awareness in which everything happens. The entire field of consciousness is only as a film, or a speck, in ‘I am’. This ‘I am-ness’ is, being conscious of con-ix

sciousness, being aware of itself. And it is indescribable, because it has no attributes. It is only being my self, and being my self is all that there is. Everything that exists, exists as my self.

There is nothing which is different from me. There is no duality and, therefore, no pain. There are no problems. It is the sphere of love, in which everything is perfect. What happens, happens spontaneously, without intentions — like digestion, or the growth of the hair. Realize this, and be free from the limitations of the mind.

Behold, the deep sleep in which there is no notion of being this or that. Yet ‘I am’ remains. And behold the eternal now. Memory seems to bring things to the present out of the past, but all that happens does happen in the present only. It is only in the timeless now that phenomena manifest themselves. Thus, time and causation do not apply in reality. I am prior to the world, body and mind. I am the sphere in which they appear and disappear. I am the source of them all, the universal power by which the world with its bewildering diversity becomes manifest.

In spite of its primevality, however, the sense of ‘I am’ is not the Highest. It is not the Absolute. The sense, or taste of ‘I am-ness’ is not absolutely beyond time. Being the essence of the five elements, it, in a way, depends upon the world. It arises from the body, which, in its turn, is built by food, consisting of the elements. It disappears when the body dies, like the spark extinguishes when the incense stick burns out. When pure awareness is attained, no need exists any more, not even for ‘I am’, which is but a useful pointer, a direction-indicator towards the Absolute.

The awareness ‘I am’ then easily ceases. What prevails is that which cannot be described, that which is beyond words. It is this

‘state’ which is most real, a state of pure potentiality, which is prior to everything. The ‘I am’ and the universe are mere reflections of it. It is this reality which a jnani has realized.

The best that you can do is to listen attentively to the jnani — of whom Sri Nisargadatta is a living example — and to trust and believe him. By such listening you will realize that his reality is your reality. He helps you in seeing the nature of the world and of the ‘I am’. He urges you to study the workings of the body and the mind with solemn and intense concentration, to recognize that you are neither of them and to cast them off. He suggests that you return again and again to ‘I am’ until it is your only abode, outside of which nothing exists; until the ego as a limitation of ‘I am’, has disappeared. lt is then that the highest realization will just happen effortlessly.

x

Mark the words of the jnani, which cut across all concepts and dogmas. Maharaj says: “Until one becomes self-realized, attains to knowledge of the self, transcends the self, until then, all these cock-and-bull stories are provided, all these concepts.”* Yes, they are concepts, even ‘I am’ is, but surely there are no concepts more precious. It is for the seeker to regard them with the utmost seriousness, because they indicate the Highest Reality. No better concepts are available to shed all concepts.

I am thankful to Sudhakar S. Dikshit, the editor, for inviting me to write the Foreword to this new edition of I AM THAT and thus giving me an opportunity to pay my homage to Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, who has expounded highest knowledge in the simplest, clearest and the most convincing words.

Philosophical Faculty

DouweTiemersma

Erasmus Universiteit

Rotterdam, Holland

June,1981

* Evening Talk. October 2, 1979, recorded by Josef Nauwelaerts of Antverp. Belgium.

Who is Nisargadatta Maharaj?

When asked about the date of his birth the Master replied blandly that he was never born!

Writing a biographical note on Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj is a frustrating and unrewarding task. For, not only the exact date of his birth is unknown, but no verified facts concerning the early years of his life are available. However, some of his elderly relatives and friends say that he was born in the month of March 1897 on a full moon day, which coincided with the festival of Hanuman Jayanti, when Hindus pay their homage to Hanuman, also named Maruti, the monkey-god of Ramayana fame. And to associate his birth with this auspicious day has parents named him Maruti.

Available information about his boyhood and early youth is patchy and disconnected. We learn that his father, Shivrampant, was a poor man, who worked for some time as a domestic servant in Bombay and, later, eked out his livelihood as a petty farmer at Kandalgaon, a small village in the back woods of Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. Maruti grew up almost without education. As a boy he assisted his father in such labours as lay within his power — tended cattle, drove oxen, worked in the fields and ran errands. His pleasures were simple, as his labours, but he was gifted with an inquisitive mind, bubbling over with questions of all sorts.

His father had a Brahmin friend named Vishnu Haribhau Gore, who was a pious man and learned too from rural standards. Gore often talked about religious topics and the boy Maruti listened attentively and dwelt on these topics far more than anyone would suppose. Gore was for him the ideal man — earnest, kind and wise.

When Maruti attained the age of eighteen his father died, leaving behind his widow, four sons and two daughters. The meagre income from the small farm dwindled further after the old xii

man’s death and was not sufficient to feed so many mouths.

Maruti’s elder brother left the village for Bombay in search of work and he followed shortly after. It is said that in Bombay he worked for a few months as a low-paid junior clerk in an office, but resigned the job in disgust. He then took to petty trading as a haberdasher and started a shop for selling children’s clothes, tobacco and hand-made country cigarettes. This business is said to have flourished in course of time, giving him some sort of financial security. During this period he got married and had a son and three daughters.

Childhood, youth, marriage, progeny — Maruti lived the usual humdrum and eventless life of a common man till his middle age, with no inkling at all of the sainthood that was to follow. Among his friends, during this period was one Yashwantrao Baagkar, who was a devotee of Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj, a spiritual teacher of the *Navnath Sampradaya, a sect of Hinduism. One evening Baagkar took Maruti to his Guru and that evening proved to be the turning point in his life. The Guru gave him a mantra and instructions in meditation. Early in his practice he started having visions and occasionally even fell into trances. Something exploded within him, as it were, giving birth to a cosmic consciousness, a sense of eternal life. The identity of Maruti, the petty shopkeeper, dissolved and the illuminating personality Sri Nisargadatta emerged.

Most people live in the world of self-consciousness and do not have the desire or power to leave it. They exist only for themselves; all their effort is directed towards achievement of self-satisfaction and self-glorification. There are, however, seers, teachers and revealers who, while apparently living in the same world, live simultaneously in another world also — the world of cosmic consciousness, effulgent with infinite knowledge. After his illuminating experience Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj started living such a dual life. He conducted his shop, but ceased to be a profit-minded merchant. Later, abandoning his family and business he became a mendicant, a pilgrim over the vastness and variety of the Indian religious scene. He walked barefooted on his way to the Himalayas where he planned to pass the rest of his years in quest of an eternal life. But he soon retraced his steps and came back home comprehending the futility of such a quest.

Eternal life, he perceived, was not to be sought for; he already had it. Having gone beyond the I-am-the-body idea, he had acquired a mental state so joyful, peaceful and glorious that everything

* See Appendix II

xiii

appeared to be worthless compared to it. He had attained self-realization.

Uneducated though the Master is, his conversation is enlightened to an extraordinary degree. Though born and brought up in poverty, he is the richest of the rich, for he has the limitless wealth of perennial knowledge, compared to which the most fabulous treasures are mere tinsel. He is warm-hearted and tender, shrewdly humorous, absolutely fearless and absolutely true —

inspiring, guiding and supporting all who come to him.

Any attempt to write a biographical note on such a man is frivolous and futile. For he is not a man with a past or future; he is the living present — eternal and immutable. He is the self that has become all things.

Translator’s Note

I met Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj some years back and was impressed with the spontaneous simplicity of his appearance and behaviour and his deep and genuine earnestness in expounding his experience.

However humble and difficult to discover his little tenement in the backlanes of Bombay, many have found their way there. Most of them are Indians, conversing freely in their native language, but there were also many foreigners who needed a translator.

Whenever I was present the task would fall to me. Many of the questions put and answers given were so interesting and significant that a tape-recorder was brought in. While most of the tapes were of the regular Marathi-English variety, some were polyglot scrambles of several Indian and European languages.

Later, each tape was deciphered and translated into English.

It was not easy to translate verbatim and at the same time avoid tedious repetitions and reiterations. It is hoped that the present translation of the tape-recordings will not reduce the impact of this clear-minded, generous and in many ways an unusual human being.

A Marathi version of these talks, verified by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj himself, has been separately published.

Bombay,

Maurice Frydman

October 16, 1973

Translator

Editor’s Note

The present edition of I AM THAT is a revised and re-edited version of the 101 talks that appeared in two volumes in earlier editions. Not only the matter has now been re-set in a more readable typeface and with chapter headings, but new pictures of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj have been included and the appen-dices contain some hitherto unpublished valuable material.

I draw special attention of the reader to the contribution entitled

‘Nisarga Yoga’ (Appendix I), in which my esteemed friend, the late Maurice Frydman, has succinctly presented the teaching of Maharaj. Simplicity and humility are the keynotes of his teachings, as Maurice observes. The Master does not propound any intellectual concept or doctrine. He does not put forward any pre-conditions before the seekers and is happy with them as they are. In fact Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj is peculiarly free from all disparagement and condemnation; the sinner and the saint are merely exchanging notes; the saint has sinned, the sinner can be sanctified. It is time that divides them; it is time that will bring them together. The teacher does not evaluate; his sole concern is with

‘suffering and the ending of suffering’. He knows from his personal and abiding experience that the roots of sorrow are in the mind and it is the mind that must be freed from its distorting and destructive habits. Of these the identification of the self with its projections is most fatal. By precept and example Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj shows a short-cut, a-logical but empirically sound. It operates, when understood.

Revising and editing of I AM THAT has been for me a pilgrimage to my inner self — at once ennobling and enlightening. I have done my work in a spirit of dedication, with great earnestness. I have treated the questions of every questioner as mine own questions and have imbibed the answers of the Master with a mind emptied of all it knew. However, in this process of what may be called a two-voiced meditation, it is possible that at places I xvi

may have failed in the cold-blooded punctiliousness about the syntax and punctuation, expected of an editor. For such lapses, if any, I seek forgiveness of the reader.

Before closing, I wish to express my heart-felt thanks to Professor Douwe Tiemersma of the Philosophical Faculty Erasmus.

Universiteit, Rotterdam, Holland for contributing a new Foreword to this edition. That he acceded to my request promptly makes me feel all the more grateful.

Bombay,

Sudhakar S. Dikshit

July 1981

Editor

Contents

Foreword

V

Who is Nisargadatta Maharaj?

IX

Translator’s Note

XII

Editor’s Note

XIII

1. The Sense of ‘I am’

1

2. Obsession with the Body

3

3. The Living Present

6

4. Real World is Beyond the Mind

9

5. What is Born must Die

11

6. Meditation

13

7. The Mind

15

8. The Self Stands Beyond Mind

18

9. Responses of Memory

23

10. Witnessing

25

11. Awareness and Consciousness

28

12. The Person is not Reality

30

13. The Supreme, the Mind and the Body

33

14. Appearances and the Reality

39

15. The Gnani

44

16. Desirelessness, the Highest Bliss

47

17. The Ever-present

53

18. To Know What you Are, Find What you Are Not

55

19. Reality lies in Objectivity

60

20. The Supreme is Beyond All

64

21. Who am I?

69

22. Life is Love and Love is Life

74

23. Discrimination leads to Detachment

79

xviii

24. God is the All-doer, the Gnani a Non-doer

85

25. Hold onto ‘I am’

91

26. Personality, an Obstacle

97

27. The Beginningless Begins Forever

102

28. All Suffering is Born of Desire

108

29. Living is Life’s only Purpose

112

30. You are Free NOW

118

31. Do not Undervalue Attention

122

32. Life is the Supreme Guru

127

33. Everything Happens by Itself

133

34. Mind is Restlessness Itself

141

35. Greatest Guru is Your Inner Self

148

36. Killing Hurts the Killer, not the Killed

154

37. Beyond Pain and Pleasure there is Bliss

160

38. Spiritual Practice is Will Asserted and Re-asserted

167

39. By Itself Nothing has Existence

174

40. Only the Self is Real

178

41. Develop the Witness Attitude

183

42. Reality can not be Expressed

187

43. Ignorance can be Recognized, not Gnana

193

44. ‘I am’ is True, all else is Inference

198

45. What Comes and Goes has no Being

203

46. Awareness of Being is Bliss

209

47. Watch your Mind

214

48. Awareness is Free

218

49. Mind Causes Insecurity

227

50. Self-awareness is the Witness

231

51. Be Indifferent to Pain and Pleasure

235

52. Being Happy, Making Happy is the Rhythm of Life

243

53. Desires Fulfilled, Breed More Desires

246

54. Body and Mind are Symptoms of Ignorance

250

55. Give up All and You Gain All

256

56. Consciousness Arising, World Arises

261

57. Beyond Mind, there is no Suffering

267

xix

58. Perfection, Destiny of All

271

59. Desire and Fear: Self-centred States

276

60. Live Facts, not Fancies

281

61. Matter is Consciousness Itself

285

62. In the Supreme the Witness Appears

291

63. Notion of Doership is Bondage

297

64. Whatever Pleases you, Keeps you Back

300

65. A Quiet Mind is All You Need

307

66. All Search for Happiness is Misery

312

67. Experience is not the Real Thing

320

68. Seek the Source of Consciousness

325

69. Transiency is Proof of Unreality

329

70. God is the End of All Desire and Knowledge

335

71. In Self-awareness you Learn about Yourself

341

72. What is Pure, Unalloyed, Unattached is Real

348

73. Death of the Mind is Birth of Wisdom

357

74. Truth is Here and Now

364

75. In Peace and Silence you Grow

372

76. To Know that You do not Know, is True Knowledge

378

77. ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ are False Ideas

386

78. All Knowledge is Ignorance

390

79. Person, Witness and the Supreme

397

80. Awareness

402

81. Root Cause of Fear

408

82. Absolute Perfection is Here and Now

414

83. The True Guru

421

84. Your Goal is Your Guru

428

85. ‘I am’: The Foundation of all Experience

435

86. The Unknown is the Home of the Real

441

87. Keep the Mind Silent and You shall Discover

449

88. Knowledge by the Mind, not True Knowledge

453

89. Progress in Spiritual Life

459

90. Surrender to Your Own Self

463

91. Pleasure and Happiness

471

xx

92. Go Beyond the I-am-the-body Idea

475

93. Man is not the Doer

480

94. You are Beyond Space and Time

484

95. Accept Life as it Comes

490

96. Abandon Memories and Expectations

495

97. Mind and the World are not Separate

500

98. Freedom from Self-identification

508

99. The Perceived can not be the Perceiver

515

100. Understanding leads to Freedom

522

101. Gnani does not Grasp, nor Hold

527

Appendices

I. Nisarga Yoga

535

II. Navanath Sampradaya

539

III. Glossary

541

1

The Sense of ‘I am’

Questioner: It is a matter of daily experience that on waking up the world suddenly appears. Where does it come from?

Maharaj: Before anything can come into being there must be somebody to whom it comes. All appearance and disappearance presupposes a change against some changeless background.

Q: Before waking up I was unconscious.

M: In what sense? Having forgotten, or not having experienced?

Don’t you experience even when unconscious? Can you exist without knowing? A lapse in memory: is it a proof of non-existence? And can you validly talk about your own non-existence as an actual experience? You cannot even say that your mind did not exist. Did you not wake up on being called?

And on waking up, was it not the sense ‘I am’ that came first?

Some seed consciousness must be existing even during sleep, or swoon. On waking up the experience runs: ‘I am — the body

— in the world.’ It may appear to arise in succession but in fact it is all simultaneous, a single idea of having a body in a world.

Can there be the sense of ‘I am’ without being somebody or other?

Q: I am always somebody with its memories and habits. I know no other ‘I am’.

M: Maybe something prevents you from knowing? When you do not know something which others know, what do you do?

Q: I seek the source of their knowledge under their instruction.

M: Is it not important to you to know whether you are a mere body, or something else? Or, maybe nothing at all? Don’t you see that all your problems are your body’s problems — food, clothing, shelter, family, friends, name, fame, security, survival — all these lose their meaning the moment you realize that you may not 2

I AM THAT

be a mere body.

Q: What benefit there is in knowing that I am not the body?

M: Even to say that you are not the body is not quite true. In a way you are all the bodies, hearts and minds and much more.

Go deep into the sense of ‘I am’ and you will find. How do you find a thing you have mislaid or forgotten? You keep it in your mind until you recall it. The sense of being, of ‘I am’ is the first to emerge. Ask yourself whence it comes, or just watch it quietly.

When the mind stays in the ‘I am’, without moving, you enter a state which cannot be verbalized but can be experienced. All you need to do is to try and try again. After all the sense ‘I am’ is always with you, only you have attached all kinds of things to it

— body, feelings, thoughts, ideas, possessions etc. All these self-identifications are misleading. Because of them you take yourself to be what you are not.

Q: Then what am I?

M: It is enough to know what you are not. You need not know what you are. For, as long as knowledge means description in terms of what is already known, perceptual, or conceptual, there can be no such thing as self-knowledge, for what you are cannot be described, except as total negation. All you can say is: ‘I am not this, I am not that’. You cannot meaningfully say ‘this is what I am’. It just makes no sense. What you can point out as ‘this’ or

‘that’ cannot be yourself. Surely, you can not be ‘something’ else.

You are nothing perceivable, or imaginable. Yet, without you there can be neither perception nor imagination. You observe the heart feeling, the mind thinking, the body acting; the very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive. Can there be perception, experience, without you? An experience must ‘belong’. Somebody must come and declare it as his own. Without an experiencer the experience is not real. It is the experiencer that imparts reality to experience. An experience which you cannot have, of what value is it to you?

Q: The sense of being an experiences, the sense of ‘I am’, is it not also an experience?

M: Obviously, every thing experienced is an experience. And in every experience there arises the experiencer of it. Memory creates the illusion of continuity. In reality each experience has its own experiencer and the sense of identity is due to the common factor at the root of all experiencer-experience relations.

Identity and continuity are not the same. Just as each flower has its own colour, but all colours are caused by the same light, so THE SENSE OF ‘I AM’

3

do many experiencers appear in the undivided and indivisible awareness, each separate in memory, identical in essence. This essence is the root, the foundation, the timeless and spaceless

‘possibility’ of all experience.

Q: How do I get at it?

M: You need not get at it, for you are it. It will get at you, if you give it a chance. Let go your attachment to the unreal and the real will swiftly and smoothly step into its own. Stop imagining yourself being or doing this or that and the realization that you are the source and heart of all will dawn upon you. With this will come great love which is not choice or predilection, nor attachment, but a power which makes all things love-worthy and lovable.

2

Obsession with the Body

Questioner: Maharaj, you are sitting in front of me and I am here at your feet. What is the basic difference between us?

Maharaj: There is no basic difference.

4

I AM THAT

Q: Still there must be some real difference, I come to you, you do not come to me.

M: Because you imagine differences, you go here and there in search of ‘superior’ people.

Q: You too are a superior person. You claim to know the real, while I do not.

M: Did I ever tell you that you do not know and, therefore, you are inferior? Let those who invented such distinctions prove them. I do not claim to know what you do not. In fact, I know much less than you do.

Q: Your words are wise, your behaviour noble, your grace alt-powerful.

M: I know nothing about it all and see no difference between you and me. My life is a succession of events, just like yours. Only I am detached and see the passing show as a passing show, while you stick to things and move along with them.

Q: What made you so dispassionate?

M: Nothing in particular. It so happened that I trusted my Guru.

He told me I am nothing but my self and I believed him. Trusting him, I behaved accordingly and ceased caring for what was not me, nor mine.

Q: Why were you lucky to trust your teacher fully, while our trust is nominal and verbal?

M: Who can say? It happened so. Things happen without cause and reason and, after all, what does it matter, who is who? Your high opinion of me is your opinion only. Any moment you may change it. Why attach importance to opinions, even your own?

Q: Still, you are different. Your mind seems to be always quiet and happy. And miracles happen round you.

M: I know nothing about miracles, and I wonder whether nature admits exceptions to her laws, unless we agree that everything is a miracle. As to my mind, there is no such thing. There is consciousness in which everything happens. It is quite obvious and within the experience of everybody. You just do not look carefully enough. Look well, and see what I see.

Q: What do you see?

OBSESSION WITH THE BODY

5

M: I see what you too could see, here and now, but for the wrong focus of your attention. You give no attention to your self. Your mind is all with things, people and ideas, never with your self.

Bring your self into focus, become aware of your own existence.

See how you function, watch the motives and the results of your actions. Study the prison you have built around yourself, by inadvertence. By knowing what you are not, you come to know your self. The way back to your self is through refusal and rejection. One thing is certain: the real is not imaginary, it is not a product of the mind. Even the sense ‘I am’ is not continuous, though it is a useful pointer; it shows where to seek, but not what to seek.

Just have a good look at it. Once you are convinced that you cannot say truthfully about your self anything except ‘I am’, and that nothing that can be pointed at, can be your self, the need for the ‘I am’ is over — you are no longer intent on verbalizing what you are. All you need is to get rid of the tendency to define your self. All definitions apply to your body only and to its expressions. Once this obsession with the body goes, you will revert to your natural state, spontaneously and effortlessly. The only difference between us is that I am aware of my natural state, while you are bemused. Just like gold made into ornaments has no advantage over gold dust, except when the mind makes it so, so are we one in being — we differ only in appearance. We discover it by being earnest, by searching, enquiring, questioning daily and hourly, by giving one’s life to this discovery.

3

The Living Present

Questioner: As I can see, there is nothing wrong with my body nor with my real being. Both are not of my making and need not be improved upon. What has gone wrong is the ‘inner body’, call it mind, consciousness, antahkarana, whatever the name.

Maharaj: What do you consider to be wrong with your mind?

Q: It is restless, greedy of the pleasant and afraid of the unpleasant.

M: What is wrong with its seeking the pleasant and shirking the unpleasant? Between the banks of pain and pleasure the river of life flows. It is only when the mind refuses to flow with life, and gets stuck at the banks, that it becomes a problem. By flowing with life I mean acceptance — letting come what comes and go what goes. Desire not, fear not, observe the actual, as and when it happens, for you are not what happens, you are to whom it happens. Ultimately even the observer you are not. You are the ultimate potentiality of which the all-embracing consciousness is the manifestation and expression.

Q: Yet, between the body and the self there lies a cloud of thoughts and feelings, which neither serve the body nor the self.

These thoughts and feelings are flimsy, transient end meaningless, mere mental dust that blinds and chokes, yet they are there, obscuring and destroying.

M: Surely, the memory of an event cannot pass for the event itself. Nor can the anticipation. There is something exceptional, unique, about the present event, which the previous, or the coming do not have. There is a livingness about it, an actuality; it stands out as if illumined. There is the ‘stamp of reality’ on the actual, which the past and future do not have.

THE LIVING PRESENT

7

Q: What gives the present that ‘stamp of reality’?

M: There is nothing peculiar in the present event to make it different from the past and future. For a moment the past was actual and the future will become so. What makes the present so different? Obviously, my presence. I am real for I am always now, in the present, and what is with me now shares in my reality. The past is in memory, the future — in imagination. There is nothing in the present event itself that makes it stand out as real. It may be some simple, periodical occurrence, like the striking of the clock. In spite of our knowing that the successive strokes are identical, the present stroke is quite different from the previous one and the next — as remembered, or expected. A thing focussed in the now is with me, for I am ever present; it is my own reality that I impart to the present event.

Q: But we deal with things remembered as if they were real.

M: We consider memories, only when they come into the present. The forgotten is not counted until one is reminded — which implies bringing into the now.

Q: Yes, I can see there is in the now some unknown factor that gives momentary reality to the transient actuality.

M: You need not say it is unknown, for you see it in constant operation. Since you were born, has it ever changed? Things and thoughts have been changing all the time. But the feeling that what is now is real has never changed, even in dream.

Q: In deep sleep there is no experience of the present reality.

M: The blankness of deep sleep is due entirely to the lack of specific memories. But a general memory of well-being is there.

There is a difference in feeling when we say ‘I was deeply asleep’

from ‘I was absent’.

Q: We shall repeat the question we began with: between life’s source and life’s expression (which is the body), there is the mind and its ever-changeful states. The. stream of mental states is endless, meaningless and painful. Pain is the constant factor.

What we call pleasure is but a gap, an interval between two painful states. Desire and fear are the weft and warp of living, and both are made of pain. Our question is: can there be a happy mind?

8

I AM THAT

M: Desire is the memory of pleasure and fear is the memory of pain. Both make the mind restless. Moments of pleasure are merely gaps in the stream of pain. How can the mind be happy?

Q: That is true when we desire pleasure or expect pain. But there are moments of unexpected, unanticipated joy. Pure joy, uncontaminated by desire — unsought, undeserved, God-given.

M: Still, joy is joy only against a background of pain.

Q: Is pain a cosmic fact, or purely mental?

M: The universe is complete and where there is completeness, where nothing lacks, what can give pain?

Q: The universe may be complete as a whole, but incomplete in details.

M: A part of the whole seen in relation to the whole is also complete. Only when seen in isolation it becomes deficient and thus a seat of pain. What makes for isolation?

Q: Limitations of the mind, of course. The mind cannot see the whole for the part.

M: Good enough. The mind, by its very nature, divides and opposes. Can there be some other mind, which unites and harmonizes, which sees the whole in the part and the part as totally related to the whole?

Q: The other mind — where to look for it?

M: In the going beyond the limiting, dividing and opposing mind. In ending the mental process as we know it. When this comes to an end, that mind is born.

Q: In that mind, the problem of joy and sorrow exist no longer?

M: Not as we know them, as desirable or repugnant. It becomes rather a question of love seeking expression and meeting with obstacles. The inclusive mind is love in action, battling against circumstances, initially frustrated, ultimately victorious.

Q: Between the spirit and the body, is it love that provides the bridge?

M: What else? Mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it.