In this blog Prajna offers a passage from I AM THAT: Talks. Nisargadatta Maharaj clearly addresses typical questions on The Way of Reality. This discourse is reminiscent of many discussions from Prajna’s recent trip to Europe in Satsang, retreat and private sessions. The teachings on attraction, relationship to the body, questioning beliefs, suffering, aspiration, faith and willingness, silence, love and noble company are beautifully expressed. No commentary is needed, simply digest, look within and live awake. In darkness and silence Reality is found.
Q: We are Panjanis but we live in Delhi. We have a Guru of the Radha-Soam Faith but we value Satsang highly. We feel very fortunate to be brought here. We have met many holy people and we are glad to meet one more.
MAHARAJ: You have met many authorities and ascetics, but a fully realized man or woman conscious of his/her divinity is hard to find. The Saints and yogis, by immense efforts and sacrifices, acquire many miraculous powers and do much good in the way of helping people and inspiring faith, yet it does not make them realized. It is not a way to Reality, but merely an enrichment of the false. All effort leads to more effort; whatever was built up must be maintained, whatever was acquired must be protected against decay or loss. Whatever can be lost is not really ones own, what is not your own, of what you use can it be to you? In my world nothing is pushed about, all happens by itself. All existence is in space and time, limited and temporary. I am not concerned either with what exists or with who exist. I take my stand beyond, where I am both and neither.
The person who, after much effort and penance, have fulfilled their ambitions and secured high levels of experience and action, are usually acutely conscious of their standing; they grade people into hierarchies, ranging from the lowest non-achiever to the highest achiever. To me all are equal. Differences in appearance and expression are there but they do not matter. Just as the shape of a gold ornament does not affect the gold, so does man’s essence remain unaffected. When this sense of equality is lacking it means that reality has not been touched.
Mere knowledge is not good enough; the knower must be known. The Pandits and the yogis may know many things, but of what use is knowledge when the self is not known? It will be certainly misused. Without the knowledge of the knower there can be no peace.
Question: How does one come to know the knower?
MAHARAJ: I can only tell you what I know from my own experience. When I met my Guru, he told me: “You are not what you take yourself to be. Find out what you are. Watch the sense ‘I am,’ find your ‘real self’.” I obeyed him, because I trusted him. I did as he told me. All my spare time I would spend looking at myself in silence. And what a difference it made, and how soon! It took me only three days to realize my true nature. My Guru died soon after I met him but it made no difference.
I remembered what he told me and persevered. The fruit of it is here, with me.
Q: What is it?
MAHARAJ: I know myself as I am in reality. I am neither the body, nor the mind, nor the mental faculties. I am beyond all these.
Q: Are you just nothing?
MAHARAJ: Come on, be reasonable. Of course I am, most tangibly. Only I am not what you may think me to be. This tells all.
Q: This tells me nothing.
MAHARAJ: Because it cannot be told. You must gain your own experience. Your accustomed to deal with things, physical and mental. I am not a thing, nor are you. We are neither matter nor energy, neither body nor mind. Once you have a glimpse of your own being, you will not find me difficult to understand.
We believe in so many things on hearsay. We believe and distant lands and people, in heavens and hells, and gods and goddesses, because we are told. Similarly, we were told about ourselves, our parents, name, position, duties and so on. We never cared to verify. The way of truth lies to the destruction of the false. To destroy the false must question your most inveterate beliefs. Of these the idea that you are the body is the worst. With the body comes the world, and with the world—God, who is supposed to have created the world and us it starts—fears, religions, prayers, sacrifices, all sorts of systems—all to protect and support the child-man, frightened out of his wits by monsters of his own making.
Realize that what you are cannot be born or die and with fear gone all suffering ends. What the mind invents, the mind destroys. But the real is not invented and cannot be destroyed.
Hold on to that over which the mind has no power. What I am telling you about is neither in the past nor in the future. Nor is it in the daily life as it flows in the now. It is timeless and the total timelessness of it is beyond the mind. My Guru and his words: “You are myself” and timelessly with me. In the beginning I had to fix my mind on them, but now it has become natural and easy. The point when the mind accepts the words of the Guru is true and lives by them spontaneously and in every detail of daily life is the threshold of realization. In a way it is a salvation by faith, but the faith must be intense and lasting.
However, you must not think that faith itself is enough. Faith expressed in action is a sure means to realization. Of all the means it is the most effective. There are teachers who deny faith and trust reason only. Actually it is not faith they denied but their blind believes. Faith is not blind. It is the willingness to try.
Q: We were told that of all forms of spiritual practices the practice of the attitude with mere a witness is the most efficacious. How does it compare with faith?
MAHARAJ: The witness attitude is also faith; it is faith in oneself. You believe that you are not what you experience and you look at everything as from a distance. There is no effort in witnessing. You understand that you are the witness only and the understanding acts. You need nothing more, just remember that you are the witness only. If in the state of witnessing ask yourself: “Who am I?”, The answer comes at once, though it is wordless and silent. Cease to be the object and become the subject of all that happens; once having turned within, you will find yourself beyond the subject. When you found yourself, you will find that you are also beyond the object, that both the subject and the object exists in you, but you are neither.
Q: You speak of the mind, of the witness and consciousness beyond the mind and of the Supreme, which is beyond awareness. You mean to say that even awareness is not real?
MAHARAJ: As long as you deal in terms: real—unreal, awareness is the only reality that can be. But the Supreme is beyond all distinctions and to it the term “real” does not apply, for in it all is real and, therefore, need not be labeled as such. It is the very source of Reality, it imparts reality to whatever touches. It just cannot be understood through words. Even a direct experience, however sublime, merely bears testimony, nothing more.
Q: But who creates the world?
MAHARAJ: The Universal Mind makes and unmakes everything. The Supreme imparts reality to whatever comes into being. To say that it is Universal Love maybe the nearest we can come to it in words. Just like love it makes everything real, beautiful, and desirable.
Q: Why desirable?
MAHARAJ: Why not? Where do all the powerful attractions come from that make all created things respond to each other, that bring people together, if not from the Supreme? Shun not desire; see only that it flows into the right channels. Without desire your dead. But with low desires you are a ghost.
Q: What is the experience that comes nearest to the Supreme?
MAHARAJ: Immense peace and boundless love. Realize that whatever is true, noble and beautiful in the universe, it all comes from you, that you yourself are at the source of it. The gods and goddesses that supervise the world maybe most wonderful and glorious beings; yet they are like the gorgeously dressed servants who proclaim the power and the riches of their master.
Q: How does one reach the Supreme state?
MAHARAJ: By renouncing all lesser desires. As long as you are pleased with the lesser, you cannot have the highest. Whatever pleases you, keeps you back. Until you realize the unsatisfactoriness of everything, it’s transiency and limitation, and collect your energies in one great longing, even the first step is not made. On the other hand, the integrity of the desire for the Supreme is by itself a call from the Supreme. Nothing, physical or mental, can give you freedom. You are free once you understand that your bondage is of your own making and you cease forging the chains that bind you.
Q: You told a questionnaire that we are all the same, that we are equals. I cannot believe it. Since I do not believe it, of what use is your statement to me?
MAHARAJ: Your disbelieve does not matter. My words are true and they will do their work. This is the beauty of noble company (Satsang).
Q: Just sitting near you can it be considered spiritual practice?
MAHARAJ: Of course. The river of life is flowing. Some of its water is here, but so much of it has already reached its goal. You know only the present. I see much further into the past and future, into what you are and what you can be. I cannot but see you as myself. It is the very nature of love to see no difference.
Q: How can I come to see myself as you see me?
MAHARAJ: It is enough if you do not imagine yourself to be the body. It is the I-am-the-body idea that is so calamitous. It binds you completely to your real nature. Even for a moment do not think that you are the body. Give yourself no name, no shape. In the darkness and the silence reality is found.
Q: Must not I think with some conviction that I am not the body? Where am I to find such conviction?
MAHARAJ: Behave as if you were fully convinced and the confidence will come. What is the use of mere words? A formula, a mental pattern will not help you. But unselfish action, free from all concern with the body and its interest will carry you into the very heart of Reality.
Q: where am I to get the courage to act without conviction?
MAHARAJ: Love will give you the courage. When you meet somebody wholly admirable, love-worthy, sublime, your love and admiration will give you the urge to act nobly.
Q: Not everybody knows to admire the admirable. Most of the people are totally insensitive.
MAHARAJ: Life will make them appreciate. The very weight of accumulated experience will give them eyes to see. When you meet a worthy man or woman, you will love and trust him/her and follow his/her advice. This is the role of the realized people—to set an example of humanity for others to admire and love. Beauty of life and character is a tremendous contribution to the common good.
Q: Must we not suffer to grow?
MAHARAJ: It is enough to know that there is suffering that the world suffers. Alone neither pleasure not pain enlighten. Only understanding does. Once you have grasped the truth that the world is full of suffering, that to be born is a calamity, you will find the urge and the energy to go beyond it. Pleasure puts you to sleep and pain wakes you up. If you do not want to suffer, don’t go to sleep. You cannot know yourself through bliss alone, for bliss is your very nature. You must face the opposite, but you are not, define enlightenment.
I AM THAT: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj pp. 300-306
PRAJNA GINTY is a spiritual teacher, Hakomi Therapist, Consciousness guide and author of the Amazon Best Seller: Edge of Grace: A Fierce Awakening to Love. As a single mom of two children with special needs, she was inspired to create The Flowing River School and Sangha Project (2001). She is also the creator of The Embodiment Intensive (2006). Prajna has been featured in One Truth, Many Voices, Buddha at the Gas Pump, Living-from-Love, 10,000 Awakenings and Conscious TV. She came to spiritual realization by way of mysticism and three decades of extensive training in the world’s non-dual wisdom traditions, depth psychology and living an ordinary life. Inspired by Ramana Mahashi, her root teacher Adyashanti, and her children, her teachings are practical, non-dogmatic and elicit the direct knowing of who we are amidst everyday life. She is widely known for her depth of presence, unabated compassion and potent meditations for reclaiming your original wholeness and aliveness. She graciously points to the truth and happiness that is already present in you, and creates a soft place to land and embody your true self for the deepest satisfaction in life.