Nisargadatta's "I Am That" - chapter 21
Who am I?.
Questioner: We are advised to worship reality personified as God, or as the Perfect Man.
We are told not to attempt the worship of the Absolute, as it is much too difficult for a braincentred consciousness.
Maharaj: Truth is simple and open to all.
Why do you complicate?
Truth is loving and lovable.
It includes all, accepts all, purifies all.
It is untruth that is difficult and a source of trouble.
It always wants, expects, demands.
Being false, it is empty, always in search of confirmation and reassurance.
It is afraid of and avoids enquiry.
It identifies itself with any support, however weak and momentary.
Whatever it gets, it loses and asks for more.
Therefore put no faith in the conscious.
Nothing you can see, feel, or think is so.
Even sin and virtue, merit and demerit are not what they appear.
Usually the bad and the good are a matter of convention and custom and are shunned or welcomed, according to how the words are used.
Q: Are there not good desires and bad, high desires and low?
M: All desires are bad, but some are worse than others.
Pursue any desire, it will always give you trouble.
Q: Even the desire to be free of desire?
M: Why desire at all?
Desiring a state of freedom from desire will not set you free.
Nothing can set you free, because you are free.
See yourself with desireless clarity, that is all.
Q: It takes time to know oneself.
M: How can time help you?
Time is a succession of moments; each moment appears out of nothing and disappears into nothing, never to reappear.
How can you build on something so fleeting?
Q: What is permanent?
M: Look to yourself for the permanent.
Dive deep within and find what is real in you.
Q: How to look for myself?
M: Whatever happens, it happens to you.
What you do, the doer is in you.
Find the subject of all that you are as a person.
Q: What else can I be?
M: Find out.
Even if I tell you that you are the witness, the silent watcher, it will mean nothing to you, unless you find the way to your own being.
Q: My question is: How to find the way to one's own being?
M: Give up all questions except one: 'Who am l'?
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.
Q: I am doing nothing else for the last 60 years.
M: What is wrong with striving?
Why look for results?
Striving itself is your real nature.
Q: Striving is painful.
M: You make it so by seeking results.
Strive without seeking, struggle without greed.
Q: Why has God made me as I am?
M: Which God are you talking about?
What is God?
Is he not the very light by which you ask the question?
'I am' itself is God.
The seeking itself is God.
In seeking you discover that you are neither the body nor mind, and the love of the self in you is for the self in all.
The two are one.
The consciousness in you and the consciousness in me, apparently two, really one, seek unity and that is love.
Q: How am I to find that love?
M: What do you love now?
The 'I am'.
Give your heart and mind to it, think of nothing else.
This, when effortless and natural, is the highest state.
In it love itself is the lover and the beloved.
Q: Everybody wants to live, to exist.
Is it not self-love?
M: All desire has its source in the self.
It is all a matter of choosing the right desire.
Q: What is right and what is wrong varies with habit and custom.
Standards vary with societies.
M: Discard all traditional standards.
Leave them to the hypocrites.
Only what liberates you from desire and fear and wrong ideas is good.
As long as you worry about sin and virtue you will have no peace.
Q: I grant that sin and virtue are social norms.
But there may be also spiritual sins and virtues.
I mean by spiritual the absolute.
Is there such a thing as absolute sin or absolute virtue?
M: Sin and virtue refer to a person only.
Without a sinful or virtuous person what is sin or virtue?
At the level of the absolute there are no persons; the ocean of pure awareness is neither virtuous nor sinful.
Sin and virtue are invariably relative.
Q: Can I do away with such unnecessary notions?
M: Not as long as you think yourself to be a person.
Q: By what sign shall l know that I am beyond sin and virtue?
M: By being free from all desire and fear, from the very idea of being a person.
To nourish the ideas: 'I am a sinner' 'I am not a sinner', is sin.
To identify oneself with the particular is all the sin there is.
The impersonal is real, the personal appears and disappears.
'I am' is the impersonal Being.
'I am this' is the person.
The person is relative and the pure Being -- fundamental.
Q: Surely pure Being is not unconscious, nor is it devoid of discrimination.
How can it be beyond sin and virtue?
Just tell us, please, has it intelligence or not?
M: All these questions arise from your believing yourself to be a person.
Go beyond the personal and see.
Q: What exactly do you mean when you ask me to stop being a person?
M: I do not ask you to stop being -- that you cannot.
I ask you only to stop imagining that you were born, have parents, are a body, will die and so on.
Just try, make a beginning -- it is not as hard as you think.
Q: To think oneself as the personal is the sin of the impersonal.
M: Again the personal point of view!
Why do you insist on polluting the impersonal with your ideas of sin and virtue?
It just does not apply.
The impersonal cannot be described in terms of good and bad.
It is Being -- Wisdom -- Love -- all absolute.
Where is the scope for sin there?
And virtue is only the opposite of sin.
Q: We talk of divine virtue.
M: True virtue is divine nature (swarupa).
What you are really is your virtue.
But the opposite of sin which you call virtue is only obedience born out of fear.
Q: Then why all effort at being good?
M: It keeps you on the move.
You go on and on till you find God.
Then God takes you into Himself -- and makes you as He is.
Q: The same action is considered natural at one point and a sin at another.
What makes it sinful?
M: Whatever you do against your better knowledge is sin.
Q: Knowledge depends on memory.
M: Remembering your self is virtue, forgetting your self is sin.
It all boils down to the mental or psychological link between the spirit and matter.
We may call the link psyche (antahkarana).
When the psyche is raw, undeveloped, quite primitive, it is subject to gross illusions.
As it grows in breadth and sensitivity, it becomes a perfect link between pure matter and pure spirit and gives meaning to matter and expression to spirit.
There is the material world (mahadakash) and the spiritual (paramakash).
Between lies the universal mind (chidakash) which is also the universal heart (premakash).
It is wise love that makes the two one.
Q: Some people are stupid, some are intelligent.
The difference is in their psyche.
The ripe ones had more experience behind them.
Just like a child grows by eating and drinking, sleeping and playing, so is man's psyche shaped by all he thinks and feels and does, until it is perfect enough to serve as a bridge between the spirit and the body.
As a bridge permits the traffic; between the banks, so does the psyche bring together the source and its expression.
M: Call it love.
The bridge is love.
Q: Ultimately all is experience.
Whatever we think, feel, do is experience.
Behind it is the experiencer.
So all we know consists of these two, the experiencer and the experience.
But the two are really one -- the experiencer alone is the experience.
Still, the experiencer takes the experience to be outside.
In the same way the spirit and the body are one; they only appear as two.
M: To the Spirit there is no second.
Q: To whom then does the second appear?
It seems to me that duality is an illusion induced by the imperfection of the psyche.
When the psyche is perfect, duality is no longer seen.
M: You have said it.
Q: Still I have to repeat my very simple question: who makes the distinction between sin and virtue?
M: He who has a body, sins with the body, he who has a mind, sins with the mind.
Q: Surely, the mere possession of mind and body does not compel to sin.
There must be a third factor at the root of it.
I come back again and again to this question of sin and virtue, because now- a-days young people keep on saying that there is no such thing as sin, that one need not be squermish and should follow the moment's desire readily.
They will accept neither tradition nor authority and can be influenced only by solid and honest thought.
If they refrain from certain actions, it is through fear of police rather than by conviction.
Undoubtedly there is something in what they say, for we can see how our values change from place to place and time to time.
For instance -- killing in war is great virtue today and may be considered a horrible crime next century.
M: A man who moves with the earth will necessarily experience days and nights.
He who stays with the sun will know no darkness.
My world is not yours.
As I see it, you all are on a stage performing.
There is no reality about your comings and goings.
And your problems are so unreal!
Q: We may be sleep-walkers, or subject to nightmares.
Is there nothing you can do?
M: I am doing: I did enter your dreamlike state to tell you -- "Stop hurting yourself and others, stop suffering, wake up".
Q: Why then don't we wake up?
M: You will.
I shall not be thwarted.
It may take some time.
When you shall begin to question your dream, awakening will be not far away.