was one of my first loves as I stumbled my way onto the spiritual path
when I was in my early twenties. I loved him because he dealt with the
very mystery I had been preoccupied with since my childhood: Who am I?
What IS all this? What is consciousness?
Nisargadatta came into my life and
mind much later, in my mid-50s. He was like an electric shock somehow. The
first big publication of his words was a book called "I Am That." It was
all about what
Maharshi had been saying (or not saying, he spoke mostly in
At an ashram in the late 60s I used
to put his picture on a chair and just sit and stare at it. I could see in
his eyes the very thing I had been longing for since 1966. Here is the
famous picture of him which I used to just look at and adore.
I realized that there WERE people
who had awakened somehow and lived in a kind of expanded awareness that we
can barely dream of.
Ramana lived at the foot of the holy
hill in south India called "Arunachala." It was sacred to Lord Shiva since
ancient times and is also geologically very ancient.
Then came Nisargadatta like a
lightning storm. Nisargadatta may have spoken in silence too, but he also
spoke with words, lots of them. He gave talks to small groups nearly every
day. Thanks to a genius named Maurice Friedman we have an astounding and
clear translation of his words into English. The words, if read slowly and
thoughtfully, will take you right into deep meditation. You just have to
be a bit earnest about it. I see the book "I Am That" as the best
meditation book I have ever read because it can TAKE YOU THERE.
The path of both Ramana and
Nisargadatta is call the path of self-inquiry. You look at yourself fully
to see what you are. Ramana had open this new 20th century path, but did
not elaborate on the details of HOW to do this inquirey. Nisargadatta
comes later and gives exact instruction and details and finally the words
seem to glow and for a second, you are there.
Nisargadatta is fierce. He has
awakened to what he truly IS, what we all ARE, and brooks no nonsense of
any kind. "Those are all just mere concepts and ideas" he often says,
causing built up theories to collapse to nothing. "Only one in 10,000 will
get what I am driving at.
"I Am That" is an incredible roadmap
through self inquiry, reading Nisargadatta's words slowly and carefully
will actually induce a state (if you let it) of meditation. He makes you
turn your consciousness to itself. Consciousness being aware of
consciousness. Even that is not the final step. He talks about the
Absolute, a kind of pure awareness beyond what we know as "consciousness."
This pure awareness is what Franklin Merrill-Wolfe called "conciousness
without an object." Nisargadatta puts it another way: "Awareness unaware
of itself." Pure awareness. Not awareness OF anything, just an all
Somehow this awareness gets stepped
down into a relationship with matter in things called "organisms." We
organisms share in Absolute (the pure awareness) via our own
"consciousness." Another way it has been described by both Nisargadatta
and the new scalar electromagnetics is that the organism acts like a kind
of radio antenna, tuning in to the ubiquitous primal awareness and a kind
of universal mind. I found this "tuning" idea very helpful in trying to
understand the mind and brain and consciousness. Is the brain really a
kind of radio receiving waves of consciousness and mind?
Thankfully, there are many bits and
pieces of Nisargadatta's words on the net now, so one find examples of
this most amazing self realized sage.
Here's a beautiful little clip which
I found here. Nisargadatta is
The Sense of "I
"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
"My teacher told me to
hold on to the sense 'I am' tenaciously and not to swerve from it even
for a moment. I did my best to follow his "advice and in a comparatively
short time I realized within myself the "truth of his teaching. All I
did was to remember his teaching, his face, his words constantly. This
brought an end to the mind; in the stillness of the mind I saw myself as
I am -- unbound.
"I simply followed (my
teacher's) instruction which was to focus the mind on pure being 'I am',
and stay in it. I used to sit for hours together, with nothing but the
'I am' in my mind and soon peace and joy and a deep all-embracing love
became my normal state. In it all disappeared -- myself, my Guru, the
life I lived, the world around "me. Only peace remained and unfathomable
And here N. tells the
terrible truth, it is all illusion, maya. It is terrible only at first,
and is probably because the ego begins to suspect that annihilation may be
the outcome of following this line of meditation. I will cease to exists!
it cries in horror. But it's not so bad. What opens up as a result is so
much better than what is getting closed down that it soon takes up the
attention. The new. The unknown unfolding.
explosive. It takes place spontaneously, or at the slightest hint. The
quick is not better than the slow. Slow ripening and rapid flowering
alternate. Both are natural and right. Yet, all this is so in the mind
only. As I see it, there is really nothing of the kind. In the great
mirror of consciousness images arise and disappear and only memory gives
them continuity. And memory is material -- destructible, perishable,
transient. On such flimsy foundations we build a sense of personal
existence -- vague, intermittent, dreamlike. This vague persuasion:
'I-am-so-and-so' obscures the changeless state of pure awareness and
makes us believe that we are born to suffer and to die."
"The moment one becomes
predictable, one cannot be free. Ones freedom lies in being free to
fulfill the need of the moment, to obey the necessity of the situation.
Freedom to do what one likes is really bondage, while being free to do
what one must, what is right, is real freedom."
"The very idea of going
beyond the dream is illusory. Why go anywhere? Just realize that you are
dreaming a dream you call the world, and stop looking for ways out. The
dream is not your problem. Your problem is that you like one part of the
dream and not another. When you have seen the dream as a dream, you have
done all that needs be done."
At Amazon.com a reader has this to say about Nisargadatta's book "I
"I want to echo what
another reader said: Read with courage. It is one of the Most Amazing
books I've ever read. It is unique in its clarity, forthrightness, and
transformative power. We are tremendously fortunate that such a being is
speaking openly about his state. I've read literally thousands of pages
on books related to consciousness expansion and eastern spirituality.
But after reading Nisargadatta's Maharaj, something in me has totally
shifted. I can never think about things in the same way. "
"He never established
any large ashram or following, as he could have easily done if he was
looking for ego gratification. He simply was himself and gave of himself
naturally to those around him."
I read the book "I Am
That" 7 times and was reading it for the 8th time when I realized that
because it automatically put me into meditation I might as well read it
for the rest of my life. Finally I lost that copy, but it was okay because
I had other volumes, like Nisargadatta's "The Ultimate Medicine." All of
the books have the same effect on me: read about 2 or 3 pages carefully
and then just sit in the resulting meditation process for some time. To me
it is astounding. No other book affected me so, except perhaps "The Gospel
of Ramakrishna" which was like being there in the presence of a
God-intoxicated saint or avatar. That book is like receiving a dose of
devotion, or "bhakti," Nisargadatta is a straight shot of "jnana," the
path of the mind.
Objectively speaking, "I Am That" is the best book of its kind ever
published. Actually the book is an edited open-ended, free-for-all type
Socratic dialog between the Maharaj and various aspirants at a variety
of levels of spiritual progress. As such, the Maharaj responses to a
variety of inquiries are alternately inspiring, perplexing, abrasive,
discouraging, exasperating, humorous, ridiculing but ultimately always
spiritually exhilerating--especially for the devoted spiritual aspirant.
Another reader gives this
Questioner: "What do
Maharaj: "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 always 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 prision you have
built around yourself, by inadvertence. By knowing what you are not, you
come to know your self."
Gradually the words of
this sage are being translated into different languages. Here are a few
more gems the spiritually revolutionary book "I Am That." A google search
will bring you to more. These are worth printing and having as little
aides when you sit down to meditate. Google "Nisargadatta Maharj."
"The real does not die, the
unreal never lived. Set your mind right and all will be right. When you
know that the world is one, that humanity is one, you will act
accordingly. But first of all you must attend to the way you feel, think
and live. Unless there is order in yourself, there can be no order in
"Nothing is done by me,
everything just happens I do not expect, I do not plan, I just watch
events happening, knowing them to be unreal."
"Only a selfless society
based on sharing can be stable and happy. This is the only practical
solution. If you do not want it - fight."
"Whenever love is
withheld and suffering allowed to spread, war becomes inevitable. Our
indifference to our neighbor's sorrow brings suffering to our door."
"Yes, I appear to hear
and see and talk and act, but to me it just happens as to you digestion
or perspiration happens. The body-mind machine looks after it, but
leaves me out of it. Just as you do not need to worry about growing
hair, so I need not worry about words and actions. They just happen and
leave me unconcerned, for in my world nothing ever goes wrong."
"The very search for
pleasure is the cause of pain."
"The world is the adobe
of desires and fears. You cannot find peace in it. For peace you must go
beyond the world. The root cause of the world is self-love. Because of
it we seek pleasure and avoid pain."
"There is no chaos in the world, except the chaos which your mind
"For me the moment of
death will be a moment of jubilation, not of fear. I cried when I was
born and I shall die laughing."
Some Dialogues from
Consciousness and the Absolute
final Talks of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
The best compilation I
have see is here at something called
with the body-mind is the poison that brings bondage.
"There is no point in
fighting desires and fears which may be perfectly natural and justified;
it is the person, who is swayed by them, that is the cause of mistakes,
past and future. This person should be carefully examined and its
falseness seen; then its power over you will end. After all, it subsides
each time you go to sleep. (448)
"All your preoccupations
with yourself are only during waking hours and partly in your dreams; in
sleep all is put aside and forgotten. It shows how little important is
your waking life, even to yourself, that merely lying down and closing
the eyes can end it. Each time you go to sleep, you do so without the
least certainty of waking up and yet you accept the risk.
"Before you go further
you must accept, at least as a working theory, that you are not what you
appear to be, that you are under the influence of a drug. Then only will
you have the urge and the patience to examine the symptoms and search
for their common cause.
"The sense 'I am a
person in time and space' is the poison. In a way, time itself is the
poison. In time all things come to an end and new are born, to be
devoured in their turn. Do not identify yourself with time, do not ask
anxiously 'what next, what next?' Step out of time and see it devour the
"As long as there is the
body and the sense of identity with the body, frustration is inevitable.
Only when you know yourself as entirely alien to and different from the
body, will you find respite from the mixture of fear and craving
inseparable from the 'I-am-the-body' idea.
"While alive, the body
attracts attention and fascinates so completely that rarely does one
perceive one's real nature. It is like seeing the surface of the ocean
and completely forgetting the immensity beneath.
"As long as you take
yourself to be a person, a body and a mind, separate from the stream of
life, having a will of its own, pursuing its own aims, you are living
merely on the surface, and whatever you do will be short-lived and of
little value, mere straw to feed the flames of vanity.
"We are free 'here and
now', It is only the mind that imagines bondage. Once you know your mind
and its miraculous powers, and remove what poisoned it -the idea of a
separate and isolated person- you just leave it alone to do its work
among things for which it is well suited.
"As long as we imagine
ourselves to be separate personalities, one quite apart from another, we
cannot grasp reality, which is essentially impersonal. First we must
know ourselves as witnesses only, dimensionless and timeless centres of
observation, and then realize that immense ocean of pure awareness,
which is both mind and matter and beyond both.
"Nothings stops you from
being a gnani here and now, except fear. You are afraid of being
impersonal, of impersonal being. It is all quite simple. Turn away from
your desires and fears and from the thoughts they create and you are at
once in your natural state.
"The 'here' is
everywhere, and the now always. Go beyond the 'I-am-the-body' idea and
you will find that space and time are in you and not you in space and
time. Once you have understood this, the main obstacle to realization is
"When you are bound by
the illusion 'I am this body', you are merely a point in space and a
moment in time. When the self-identification with the body is no more,
all space and time are in your mind, which is a mere ripple in
consciousness, which is awareness reflected in nature.
"Once you realize that
the person is merely a shadow of the reality, but not reality itself,
you cease to fret and worry. You agree to be guided from within and life
becomes a journey into the unknown.
"Your loss is your gain.
When the shadow is seen to be a shadow only, you stop following it. You
turn round and discover the sun which was there all the time - behind
"Every existence is my
existence, every consciousness is my consciousness, every sorrow is my
sorrow and every joy is my joy - this is universal life. Yet, my real
being, and yours too, is beyond the universe and, therefore, beyond the
categories of the particular and the universal. It is what it is,
totally self-contained and independent."
This compilation is
a good way to dive into Nisargadatta's astonishing teaching.
Ramana feeds a monkey. Animals were unafraid around the sage and would
approach him easily.