Dialogues with Nisargadatta
Excerpts from Consciousness and the Absolute
Here are some more amazing bits of dialogue with Nisargadatta.
July 29, 1980
Questioner: It is a great mystery.
Maharaj: It's a mystery only to the ignorant.
To the one not identified with the body,
it is no longer a mystery.
Q: Maharaj cannot convey it to us?
M: I keep telling you but you don't listen.
Q: Does Maharaj see us as individuals?
M: There are no individuals;
there are only food bodies with the knowledge "I Am".
There is no difference between
an ant, a human being, and Isvara;
they are of the same quality.
The body of an ant is small, an elephant's is large.
The strength is different, because of size,
but the life-force is the same.
For knowledge the body is necessary.
Q: How did Maharaj get the name Nisargadatta?
M: At one time I was composing poems.
Poems used to flow out of me and,
in this flow, I just added Nisargadatta.
I was reveling in composing poems
until my Guru cautioned me,
"You are enjoying composing these poems too much;
give them up!"
What was he driving at?
His objective was for me to merge in the Absolute state
instead of reveling in my beingness.
This was the way I realized knowledge,
not through mental manipulation.
My Guru said, "This is so," and for me, it was finished!
If you continue in the realm of intellect
you will become entangled and lost
in more and more concepts.
Consciousness is time flowing continuously.
But I, the Absolute, will not have its company eternally
because consciousness is time bound.
When this beingness goes,
the Absolute will not know "I Am".
Appearance and disappearance,
birth and death,
these are the qualities of beingness;
they are not your qualities.
You have urinated and odor is coming from that --
are you that odor?
Q: No, I am not.
M: You require no more sadhana.. For you, the words of the Guru are final.
November 8, 1980
Questioner: Why is it that we naturally seem
to think of ourselves as separate individuals?
Maharaj: Your thoughts about individuality are really
not your own thoughts;
they are all collective thoughts; they are all collective thoughts.
You think that you are the one who has the thoughts;
in fact thoughts arise in consciousness.
As our spiritual knowledge grows,
our identification with an individual body-mind diminishes,
and our consciousness expands into universal consciousness.
The life force continues to act,
but its thought and actions are
no longer limited to an individual.
They become the total manifestation.
It is like the action of the wind --
the wind doesn't blow for any particular individual,
but for the total manifestation.
Q: As an individual can we go back to the source?
M: Not as an individual;
the knowledge "I Am"
must go back to its own source.
Now, consciousness has identified with a form.
Later, it understands that it is not that form
and goes further.
In a few cases it may reach the space,
and very often, there it stops.
In a very few cases,
it reaches its real source,
beyond all conditioning.
It is difficult to give up that inclination of
identifying the body as the self.
I am not talking to an individual,
I am talking to the consciousness.
It is consciousness which must seek its source.
Out of that no-being state comes the beingness.
It comes as quietly as twilight, with just a feel of "I Am"
and then suddenly the space is there.
In the space, movement starts with the air,
the fire, the water, and the earth.
All these five elements are you only.
Out of your consciousness all this has happened.
There is no individual.
There is only you,
the total functioning is you,
the consciousness is you.
You are the consciousness,
all the titles of the Gods are your names,
but by clinging to the body
you hand yourself over to time and death --
you are imposing it on yourself.
I am the total universe.
When I am the total universe
I am in need of nothing because I am everything.
But I cramped myself into a small thing, a body;
I made myself a fragment and became needful.
I need so many things as a body.
In the absence of a body, do you, and did you, exist?
Are you, and were you, there or not?
Attain that state which is and was prior to the body.
Your true nature is open and free,
but you cover it up, you give it various designs.
November 9, 1980
Questioner: Should the type of dispassion which Maharaj is teaching us be taught to children?
Maharaj: No. If that's done,
they'll have no ambition to grow further;
they must have certain ambitions,
certain desires, for their proper growth.
The one who has fully investigated himself,
the one who has come to understand,
will never try to interfere in the play of consciousness.
There is no creator with a vast intellect as such;
all this play is going on spontaneously.
There's no intellect behind it,
so don't try to impose yours
to bring about any change; leave it alone.
Your intellect is a subsequent product of this process,
so how can your intellect take charge of or even evaluate,
the whole creation?
Investigate your self;
this is the purpose of your being.
Spirituality is nothing more than
understanding this play of consciousness --
try to find out what this fraud is by seeking its source.
Questioner: How are we to do this?
Maharaj: You can watch the body,
so you are not the body.
You can watch the breath,
so you are not the vital breath.
In the same way, you are not the consciousness;
but you have to become one with the consciousness.
As you stabilize in the consciousness,
dispassion for the body
and for the expressions through the body
It is a natural renunciation, not a deliberate one.
It does not mean that you should neglect your worldly duties;
carry these out with full zest.
Q: Shouldn't we rediscover the freedom of the little baby from the body?
M: Understand the source of the child.
The child is a product of the sperm of the father
and the ovum of the mother.
Consciousness is there in the child
as it is in the parents;
it is always the same consciousness
whether in the child or the adult.
There is only one consciousness.
You must become one with and stabilize in that consciousness,
then you transcend it.
That consciousness is your only capital.
November 18, 1980
Maharaj: My present outlook is without limitation, total freedom.
Ultimately one must go beyond knowledge,
but the knowledge must come,
and knowledge can come by constant meditation.
By meditating, the knowledge "I Am"
gradually settles down and merges with universal knowledge,
and thereby becomes totally free,
like the sky, or space.
Those who come here with the idea of getting knowledge,
even spiritual knowledge,
come here as individuals aspiring to get something:
that is the real difficulty.
The seeker must disappear.
When you know your real nature
the knowledge "I Am" remains,
but that knowledge is unlimited.
It is not possible for you to acquire knowledge,
you are knowledge.
You are what you are seeking.
Your true being exists
prior to the arising of any concept.
Can you, as an object, understand
something that existed prior to the arising of a concept?
In the absence of consciousness is there any proof
of the existence of anything?
Consciousness itself is mind, is thought,
is all phenomena, all manifestation.
Apprehending this is being dead to "I am the body"
This kind of knowledge comes only in a rare case,
and is a very elusive kind of knowledge
where no effort is necessary;
in fact, effort itself is a hindrance.
It is intuitive understanding.
Questioner: Then should all spiritual disciplines be dropped?
M: At the highest level this is so;
at the earlier levels you have to do your homework.
Those who are able intuitively to grasp this
lose their interest in worldly affairs.
Having lost it, what will they get?
Whatever they have lost,
they will have lost as an ordinary person,
but what they get in return will be fit for a King.
Those who have comprehended
and who have reached a certain stage
will not ask for anything,
but everything will come to them spontaneously.
There will be no wish for it;
nevertheless, it will be there.
This does not happen for an individual --
it happens for the universal manifestation,
of for the one who has become one with his true nature.
For the jnani, only witnessing is taking place.
November 20, 1980
Maharaj: The principle which can know itself is in the organism.
In a worm crawling, it is there,
because the worm knows itself instinctively.
By listening to my talks
you will be transformed back to your original state,
prior to you birth.
Right now, in spite of you present life, it will happen.
My present talk is quite different now, at a higher level;
therefore I do not invite anybody to listen to my present talks.
I recommend that nobody should come and listen
because they will develop a dispassion
for their family or daily life.
If you want peace,
stabilize at that point where you started to be,
stay put there.
Om is the unstruck sound,
the unpronounced word.
Consciousness is something like the drama of a play,
play-acting. You are unsupported, you have no support at all.
The birth, the parents, all this is illusion.
Taking the body as oneself is the accident.
If you don't cling to the body as your identity,
everything will be all right.
When beingness forgets itself,
that state is Parabrahman.
This knowingness is not your true state,
it is the outcome of the food essence body,
and you, the Absolute, are not that.
November 21, 1980
Maharaj: Whatever I had thought earlier
has now changed. What is happening now is that
even the slightest touch of individuality
has completely disappeared,
and it is consciousness as such which
is spontaneously experiencing.
The result is total freedom.
All the time there was complete conviction
that it was consciousness which was experiencing;
but that "I" which the consciousness was was there.
Now that has totally disappeared;
therefore, whatever happens in the field of consciousness,
I, who am there before consciousness,
am not concerned in any way.
The experience is of consciousness experiencing itself.
Nevertheless, understand what consciousness is,
even if consciousness is not an individual.
The basis and source of consciousness is in the material.
What I say is still in the conceptual world,
and you need not accept it as truth.
Nothing in the conceptual world is true.
Once the disease was diagnosed,
the very name of the disease
started various thoughts and concepts.
Watching those thoughts and concepts
I came to the conclusion that whatever is happening
is in the consciousness.
I told the consciousness, "It is you who is suffering, not I."
If consciousness wants to continue to suffer,
let it remain in the body.
If it wants to leave the body, let it.
Either way, I am not concerned.
All kinds of things were happening,
thoughts and experiences,
and they were credited to my account,
but once I have seen what it is,
all those account books have been burned
and I no longer have any account.
How amusing it is to see someone
who thinks of himself as an individual,
who thinks of himself as a doer or achiever.
Whatever is happening,
and the experiencing of the happening,
takes place in this consciousness
when the "I Am" arises.
November 24, 1980
Questioner: If there is no difference between
what is prior to birth and what is after death
there is no difference, is there any reason for
attempting to learn who we are now? Isn't it all the same?
Maharaj: The light coming from the sun and the sun itself -
is there any difference?
Q: The only difference is what happens in the middle?
M: Whatever happens between birth and death
is also an expression of the consciousness only.
Even in the realm of consciousness
you pass the time entertaining various concepts;
what else are you doing?
Q: Is Maharaj playing with various concepts?
M: No. It is the consciousness, it plays by itself.
Q: Does Maharaj's consciousness play,
even though he is detached from it?
M: Consciousness is not private property,
it is universal.
Q: Though we understand this,
sometimes it seems confined to a body.
M: You are trying to understand with the intellect; just be.
When I tell you that you are that dynamic,
manifest knowledge, you are everything.
What else do you want?
Q: I am aware that I came here because
Maharaj gives me the mirror,
but this time he is showing me that I am my own mirror.
M: That is why you should not stay for long.
Q: After we leave here, what are we to do?
M: It is up to you.
If you abide in consciousness
everything will be happening spontaneously.
If you are still at body-mind level,
you will think that you are doing something.
If you really abide in what I say,
you become one with your Self.
Then people will be serving you, they will fall at your feet.
Whatever is necessary for you will happen.
Activities are bound to happen.
Consciousness can never remain inactive,
it will always be busy - that is its nature.
When you come here, you have certain expectations,
but after listening to my talks
you lose all that.
Q: Even when I have an intuitive understanding of this,
what is this reluctance to give up all that I am not?
M: You have not stabilized firmly in that understanding.
Your conviction should be such that
no question at all should arise in future about that.
For example, a person is dead and has been cremated, it is all over,
is there any question about that? Like that, it will be all over.
Q: What effort do I need to make toward that?
M: Effortlessly, just be.
When the consciousness fully understands the consciousness,
will it embrace the body as itself?
It is in totality;
it is not going to pick our a fragment of the manifestation
and say, "I am this."
The consciousness expresses itself as does a light.
This five elemental play
is the manifestation of the consciousness,
the effulgence of consciousness only.
The play of the five elements
will finally merge into the consciousness,
because it is an outcome of the consciousness.
November 25, 1980
Maharaj: People come here and stay for days,
weeks, even months.
The first few days what they have heard takes root,
and that is when they should leave,
so that what has taken root
will have time to grow and blossom.
As soon as the seed takes root, they must go.
What has taken root must bloom,
must express itself within each heart.
Questioner: Maharaj has said, in this respect,
that the teachings were his Guru's,
but the understanding was his.
M: My Guru told me that consciousness alone is the Guru,
all other developments sprouted within me.
The fruit should grow on your own plant.
I should not sow my understandings in you.
I have no use for traditions or traditional knowledge.
If you do the slightest research on tradition
you will see that it is all a concept.
I am concerned with only one fact.
Here I was in my wholeness,
not even aware of my awareness,
then suddenly this consciousness sprang up.
How did it come about?
That is the question which needs investigating.
One must understand how clever this fraud of Maya is;
first it shows us our body
and makes us believe that we are the body,
but the body is nothing but a speck of fertilized sperm,
and in that sperm the consciousness is latent.
You see what a fraud it is?
The essence of the body is the essence of the foodstuff,
and this consciousness lies dormant in it from the very beginning.
In that state of consciousness is the entire universe.
Having seen this, whoever has understood is bound to be quiet,
knowing that this is only a transient happening.
An enormous structure of concepts
being taught to us as knowledge
is based on the simple appearance of consciousness.
December 8, 1980
Maharaj: I am talking about the consciousness
which works through this body at the moment,
but which is not visible.
This consciousness is not limited to the body
but is universal consciousness;
I can't speak of anything else now.
A person who is already dead
is not worried about anything.
Whether the people like it or not doesn't matter.
Perhaps you may be getting some blessings,
some benefits, from listening to my talks, I don't know.
All my actions are the actions of universal consciousness
appearing to work through this body. I do not remember
something from the past and then act;
it is all action in the now.
Questioner: Where does consciousness come from?
M: It never comes or goes, it just appears to have come.
Q: Why does Maharaj know this and we do not?
M: It is not difficult for you to know also,
but with what identity are you asking?
Q: Is it karmic, can karma be changed?
M: It is all consciousness working,
not this one or that one working;
it is all consciousness.
Q: Can Maharaj, out of compassion,
give me a push into that state of universal consciousness ?
M: Yes, of course, I can do that,
but you must listen to me,
you must have complete faith
in whatever I tell you about yourself,
and you must behave accordingly.
By nature I am non-manifest,
yet I am manifested,
but I am really not manifested.
Can you live like that, as the non-manifest?
As long as the attribute is there,
the quality of the attribute, the "I Am", is there;
therefore, I can speak like this.
If it goes away, what happens?
The sense of "I" has come and has gone,
that is all, I am not going to die.
One who has rejected this identity will understand.
Q: Maharaj said that he is not going to die ?
M: How can one who is not born, die?
When people first learned about this illness,
those who have affection for me came to talk to me,
or wrote to me, giving advice and medicine.
Whatever is to happen will happen, I have no interest.
I don't have fear so I don't have to do anything.
It is quite in order that those who have affection for me
write and come to discuss things with me;
I don't listen to them,
and that is also quite in order,
because I am not afraid of anything.
You are asking, "Who am I?"
and you are not going to get an answer,
because the one who will get the answer is false.
You may have an idea, a concept,
and you will think you have found yourself,
but it is only a concept;
you can never see your Self.
December 15, 1980
Maharaj: Consider the status you have reached
if you are able to understand what I say,
and if you have understood,
there will be no status at all.
Your worth cannot be measured.
You have done all your homework
and now your sadhana or spiritual practice is bearing fruit;
now you are here. Let it grow in you.
You don't have to go to anybody else after you leave this place;
that part of the work has already been done by you.
Because you are worthy of that state of realization,
you are here today.
Get to know that "I Am" without words
which arises in the morning.
Knowing the Self, abiding in the Self- knowledge,
is not a mere intellectual knowing.
You must be that,
and you should not move away from it.
Do not consult others about the advice I have given to them.
Abide in what I have told only you.
Kill that curiosity to know what others are told;
to each seeker the appropriate advice is given.
Unless you abide in your own true nature
you will not be able to gauge the depth of another's nature.
When you try to understand others,
the Self-effulgent nature of one's Self should open up completely.
You will know yourself in the process.
The knowledge being expounded here you will not find in any books.
Now, having given you so much,
you may see me tomorrow or you may not,
that is immaterial,
but don't forget what I have told you about your Self.
December 18, 1980
Questioner: This consciousness is like a screen, and I am the screen.
Maharaj: Understand what I say without concepts;
you are adding new concepts.
Now go to zero concepts.
There are many spiritual seekers whose aim is
to acquire sufficient merit to reach a certain place,
such as Heaven or Vaikuntha.
I have had no aims except to find out.
I was not aware of my awareness,
and suddenly I became conscious that I am.
Where and how did this consciousness arise on me?
That was my enquiry,
going back to that state
when the presence of phenomena was not there.
That is, original knowledge of the original Self.
So, I went back, tracing this original Self,
and I reached a stage where I wanted to know
what my state was before this consciousness arose.
That is the destination which I have reached.
Brahman, Isvara, God, all these are
names given to the consciousness
when it is conscious of itself.
If you have properly understood this knowledge,
what will be your position at the moment of so-called death?
It will be watching what is happening.
This consciousness gradually loses everything,
and ultimately consciousness is no longer conscious of itself.
That state cannot be described.
It is called Parabrahman, the Supreme Absolute,
but that is only a name for communication purposes.
This line of enquiry started when I noticed that
from the moment one wakes up until one falls asleep,
one is very busy doing something or other.
What is it that compels us to do these things?
Because of what does this go on?
Then I came to the conclusion that it is my beingness,
the fact that I am conscious of existing,
which is working throughout the day.
That was how my enquiry started.
In the body
the indwelling principle is the consciousness.
Abiding in the consciousness,
it became all manifestation.
Now transcendence of the consciousness has also occurred.
With the appearance of consciousness,
the Absolute knows it is, "I Am". This is the experience.
There are other experiences now, in this time factor,
but experiences are gradually dropping off,
including this primary experience "I Am".
It is only the consciousness that is going to disappear,
the Absolute is always there.
What a fall! The perfect state,
caught up in these experiences,
and trying to derive certain benefits out of the experiences.
Q: Is it spontaneous?
M: Yes. Whatever experiences were happening
in this field of knowingness,
the Ultimate principle got caught up in that.
It accepted some experience as itself.
Accepting experiences as the truth,
it gets more and more involved.
December 22, 1980
Maharaj: Just now I was lying down in the waking state,
but with no perceiving or receiving of any words,
something like a prior-to-words state.
Now the last traces of personality or individuality have left me.
Last year I used to talk to people with a certain affection,
but that is not available now.
My dwelling place in the grosser world is gone now;
presently it is in the subtler sphere, as in space.
The effect of these talks is that you will
stabilize in the very source from which the words sprout.
Abiding in the dynamic, manifest consciousness
is abiding in the words of the Guru.
The meaning of the mantra I have given you
is that you are the manifest, dynamic principle, not the body.
When you abide in that, you become that.
People think that they are coming here
of their own volition,
but it is the consciousness which is bringing them here,
because the consciousness wants this knowledge.
My talks are addressed to the consciousness,
"You have identified with the body,
but you are not the body."
It is knowledge which must understand its own nature,
and merge with the knowledge which is its source.
People come here and ask for blessings;
they don't understand that
the knowledge that one is not the body,
but the consciousness within,
is the blessing.
December 30, 1980
Questioner: I think there should be beauty in the whole manifestation.
Maharaj: You should not get involved in what has appeared.
Take a tree - the bark, the leaves, the blossoms, the fruit,
all have a different nature.
If you get involved in the appearance of these,
you will lose sight of the source, the tree.
Intellectually, you have understood,
but you have to be one with it,
you have to identify with what you have understood.
Understand that the seed of this body is the sperm of the father
mixed with the ovum of the mother.
That is the seed for the manifestation of the phenomen,
but I am not the seed, I am not the phenomena,
nor am I the consciousness which is time-bound.
The names and forms which you see
are consciousness only.
Your consciousness is very pure
and that's why you are able to judge.
The Atman is colorless, but it is able to judge colors, etc.
Your sadhana is over; you have reached this place.
This knowledge is for those who have no desires.
The Self-knowledge is the most precious knowledge.
To you who search for the Self I explain this type of knowledge.
I lead you to a state where there is no hunger, no desire,
therefore I am not inclined to invite those
who are worried about their possessions and their relations
to listen to my talks.
When you have knowledge
you see that the consciousness "I" is all-pervasive,
as long as the consciousness is there;
but the witness of the consciousness
has no "I Am"
and that is your true, eternal nature.
"I love" gives rise to great joy,
and at the same time there is nothing so miserable as "I love"
Giving up the body is a great festival for me.
What is the worth of all the activities of human beings?
It is all entertainment, just to pass time.
You get pleasure only when you forget yourself;
in deep sleep you have forgotten yourself,
that itself is joy.
It is the Atman,
not the personality,
that is drawn to spirituality.
I will not expound knowledge in the future;
a few words here and there will be all.
January 3, 1981
Maharaj: Beingness has the quality to become
whatever you think of.
Whatever concept you feed to the consciousness,
the consciousness will provide you with that.
Whatever you hold on to intensely,
you are bound to be that,
that is the quality of your consciousness.
You should never think that you are the body.
Consciousness is not the body.
As a result of the body the beingness is felt,
but beingness is all-pervasive.
Consciousness alone feels the expanse of consciousness,
but I, the Absolute, am not that.
Whatever is known is known by consciousness,
is in the field of consciousness.
The consciousness and the knowledge
will subside when the food body dies.
The Absolute always remains.
The seed of knowledge is planted in you by these talks;
now you have to follow it up.
You must nurse it, ruminate over it,
so that the tree of knowledge will grow.
January 4, 1981
Questioner: I was pondering what Maharaj said
about all consciousness being the same this morning,
and for just a few seconds, it was as if everything was one
and I was behind it. Is this the aim?
Maharaj: That is not the aim, IT IS SO.
It is there and it is only because of identity with the body
that what is, doesn't seem as if it is.
Please understand that there is only one thing to be understood,
and that is that you are the formless, timeless unborn.
It is because of your identification with the body as an entity
that your consciousness, which is universal consciousness,
thinks that it is dying.
Nobody is dying,
because nobody was born.
The millions of forms
are the manifestation of consciousness.
It is the millions of forms which get created and destroyed,
but universal consciousness itself is unborn and undying.
Just imagine if all the millions of forms
which have been created were still here -
how could other forms be created?
It is because consciousness is unborn and undying
that the millions of forms get created and destroyed;
it is a continuous process.
Understand that what you are is
this unlimited universal consciousness.
Only that in which consciousness manifests itself
is limited and is created and destroyed.
The total potential of consciousness remains.
It is unlimited.
You are seeking knowledge
from the standpoint of identification with the body
and whatever can be grasped by the mind.
When this body machine is there,
the technique of using it is there,
and that is what you are identifying with now,
but it is not your true identity.
You have no control over it,
it has appeared and it will disappear.
I talk to you from the perspective
of the universal consciousness
and I know that all bodies are the essence of food
and that they will vanish.
Another version is here:
Another dialogue is here: