Nisargadatta's "I Am That" - chapter 20
The Supreme is Beyond All.
Questioner: You say, reality is one.
Oneness, unity, is the attribute of the person.
Is then reality a person, with the universe as its body?
Maharaj: Whatever you may say will be both true and false.
Words do not reach beyond the mind.
Q: I am just trying to understand.
You are telling us of the Person, the Self and the Supreme.
(vyakti, vyakta, avyakta).
The light of Pure Awareness (pragna), focussed as 'I am' in the Self (jivatma), as consciousness (chetana) illumines the mind (antahkarana) and as life (prana) vitalises the body (deha).
All this is fine as far as the words go.
But when it comes to distinguishing in myself the person from the Self and the Self from the Supreme, I get mixed up.
M: The person is never the subject.
You can see a person, but you are not the person.
You are always the Supreme which appears at a given point of time and space as the witness, a bridge between the pure awareness of the Supreme and the manifold consciousness of the person.
Q: When I look at myself, I find I am several persons fighting among themselves for the use of the body.
M: They correspond to the various tendencies (samskara) of the mind.
Q: Can I make peace between them?
M: How can you?
They are so contradictory!
See them as they are -- mere habits of thoughts and feelings, bundles of memories and urges.
Q: Yet they all say 'I am'.
M: It is only because you identify yourself with them.
Once you realise that whatever appears before you cannot be yourself, and cannot say 'I am', you are free of all your 'persons' and their demands.
The sense 'I am' is your own.
You cannot part with it, but you can impart it to anything, as in saying: I am young.
I am rich etc.
But such self-identifications are patently false and the cause of bondage.
Q: I can now understand that I am not the person, but that which, when reflected in the person, gives it a sense of being.
Now, about the Supreme?
In what way do I know myself as the Supreme?
M: The source of consciousness cannot be an object in consciousness.
To know the source is to be the source.
When you realise that you are not the person, but the pure and calm witness, and that fearless awareness is your very being, you are the being.
It is the source, the Inexhaustible Possibility.
Q: Are there many sources or one for all?
M: It depends how you look at it, from which end.
The objects in the world are many, but the eye that sees them is one.
The higher always appears as one to the lower and the lower as many to the higher.
Q: Shapes and names are all of one and the same God?
M: Again, it all depends on how you look at it.
On the verbal level everything is relative.
Absolutes should be experienced, not discussed.
Q: How is the Absolute experienced?
M: It is not an object to be recognised and stored up in memory.
It is in the present and in feeling rather.
It has more to do with the 'how' than with the 'what'.
It is in the quality, in the value; being the source of everything, it is in everything.
Q: If it is the source, why and how does it manifest itself?
M: It gives birth to consciousness.
All else is in consciousness.
Q: Why are there so many centres of consciousness?
M: The objective universe (mahadakash) is in constant movement, projecting and dissolving innumerable forms.
Whenever a form is infused with life (prana), consciousness (chetana) appears by reflection of awareness in matter.
Q: How is the Supreme affected?
M: What can affect it and how?
The source is not affected by the vagaries of the river nor is the metal -- by the shape of the jewellery.
Is the light affected by the picture on the screen?
The Supreme makes everything possible, that is all.
Q: How is it that some things do happen and some don't?
M: Seeking out causes is a pastime of the mind.
There is no duality of cause and effect.
Everything is its own cause.
Q: No purposeful action is then possible?
M: All I say is that consciousness contains all.
In consciousness all is possible.
You can have causes if you want them, in your world.
Another may be content with a single cause -- God's will.
The root cause is one: the sense 'I am'.
Q: What is the link between the Self (Vyakta) and the Supreme (Avyakta)?
M: From the self's point of view the world is the known, the Supreme -- the Unknown.
The Unknown gives birth to the known, yet remains Unknown.
The known is infinite, but the Unknown is an infinitude of infinities.
Just like a ray of light is never seen unless intercepted by the specs of dust, so does the Supreme make everything known, itself remaining unknown.
Q: Does it mean that the Unknown is inaccessible?
M: Oh, no.
The Supreme is the easiest to reach for it is your very being.
It is enough to stop thinking and desiring anything, but the Supreme.
Q: And if I desire nothing, not even the Supreme?
M: Then you are as good as dead, or you are the Supreme.
Q: The world is full of desires: Everybody wants something or other.
Who is the desirer?
The person or the self?
M: The self.
All desires, holy and unholy, come from the self; they all hang on the sense 'I am'.
Q: I can understand holy desires (satyakama) emanating from the self.
It may be the expression of the bliss aspect of the Sadchitananda (Beingness -- Awareness --Happiness) of the Self.
But why unholy desires?
M: All desires aim at happiness.
Their shape and quality depend on the psyche (antahkarana).
Where inertia (tamas) predominates, we find perversions.
With energy (rajas), passions arise.
With lucidity (sattva) the motive behind the desire is goodwill, compassion, the urge to make happy rather than be happy.
But the Supreme is beyond all, yet because of its infinite permeability all cogent desires can be fulfilled.
Q: Which desires are cogent?
M: Desires that destroy their subjects, or objects, or do not subside on satisfaction are self- contradictory and cannot be fulfilled.
Only desires motivated by love, goodwill and compassion are beneficial to both the subject and object and can be fully satisfied.
Q: All desires are painful, the holy as well as the unholy.
M: They are not the same and pain is not the same.
Passion is painful, compassion -- never.
The entire universe strives to fulfil a desire born of compassion.
Q: Does the Supreme know itself?
Is the Impersonal conscious?
M: The source of all has all.
Whatever flows from it must be there already in seed form.
And as a seed is the last of innumerable seeds, and contains the experience and the promise of numberless forests, so does the Unknown contain all that was, or could have been and all that shall or would be.
The entire field of becoming is open and accessible; past and future coexist in the eternal now.
Q: Are you living in the Supreme Unknown?
M: Where else?
Q: What makes you say so?
M: No desire ever arises in my mind.
Q: Are you then unconscious?
M: Of course not!
I am fully conscious, but since no desire or fear enters my mind, there is perfect silence.
Q: Who knows the silence?
M: Silence knows itself.
It is the silence of the silent mind, when passions and desires are silenced.
Q: Do you experience desires occasionally?
M: Desires are just waves in the mind.
You know a wave when you see one.
A desire is just a thing among many.
I feel no urge to satisfy it, no action needs be taken on it.
Freedom from desire means this: the compulsion to satisfy is absent.
Q: Why do desires arise at all?
M: Because you imagine that you were born, and that you will die if you do not take care of your body.
Desire for embodied existence is the root-cause of trouble.
Q: Yet, so many jivas get into bodies.
Surely it cannot be some error of judgement.
There must be a purpose.
What could it be?
M: To know itself the self must be faced with its opposite -- the not-self.
Desire leads to experience.
Experience leads to discrimination, detachment, self-knowledge -- liberation.
And what is liberation after all?
To know that you are beyond birth and death.
By forgetting who you are and imagining yourself a mortal creature, you created so much trouble for yourself that you have to wake up, like from a bad dream.
Enquiry also wakes you up.
You need not wait for suffering; enquiry into happiness is better, for the mind is in harmony and peace.
Q: Who exactly is the ultimate experiencer -- the Self or the Unknown?
M: The Self, of course.
Q: Then why introduce the notion of the Supreme Unknown?
M: To explain the Self.
Q: But is there anything beyond the Self?
M: Outside the Self there is nothing.
All is one and all is contained in 'I am'.
In the waking and dream states it is the person.
In deep sleep and turiya it is the Self.
Beyond the alert intentness of turiya lies the great, silent peace of the Supreme.
But in fact all is one in essence and related in appearance.
In ignorance the seer becomes the seen and in wisdom he is the seeing.
But why be concerned with the Supreme?
Know the knowers and all will be known.