Nisargadatta's "I Am That" - chapter 37

Beyond Pain and Pleasure there is Bliss.

Maharaj: You must realise first of all that you are the proof of everything, including yourself.

None can prove your existence, because his existence must be confirmed by you first.

Your being and knowing you owe nobody.

Remember, you are entirely on your own.

You do not come from somewhere, you do not go anywhere.

You are timeless being and awareness.

Questioner: There is a basic difference between us.

You know the real while I know only the workings of my mind.

Therefore what you say is one thing, what I hear is another.

What you say is true; what I understand is false, though the words are the same.

There is a gap between us.

How to close the gap?

M: Give up the idea of being what you think yourself to be and there will be no gap.

By imagining yourself as separate you have created the gap.

You need not cross it.

Just don't create it.

All is you and yours.

There is nobody else.

This is a fact.

Q: How strange!

The very same words which to you are true, to me are false.

'There is nobody else'.

How obviously untrue!

M: Let them be true or untrue.

Words don't matter.

What matters is the idea you have of yourself, for it blocks you.

Give it up.

Q: From early childhood I was taught to think that I am limited to my name and shape.

A mere statement to the contrary will not erase the mental groove.

A regular brain-washing is needed -- if at all it can be done.

M: You call it brain-washing, I call it Yoga -- levelling up all the mental ruts.

You must not be compelled to think the same thoughts again and again.

Move on!

Q: Easier said than done.

M: Don't be childish!

Easier to change, than to suffer.

Grow out of your childishness, that is all.

Q: Such things are not done.

They happen.

M: Everything happens all the time, but you must be ready for it.

Readiness is ripeness.

You do not see the real because your mind is not ready for it.

Q: If reality is my real nature, how can I ever be unready?

M: Unready means afraid.

You are afraid of what you are.

Your destination is the whole.

But you are afraid that you will lose your identity.

This is childishness, clinging to the toys, to your desires and fears, opinions and ideas.

Give it all up and be ready for the real to assert itself.

This self- assertion is best expressed in words: 'I am'.

Nothing else has being.

And I know that I am so and so, the owner of the body, in manifold relations with other owners.

M: It is all memory carried over into the now.

Q: I can be certain only of what is now.

Past and future, memory and imagination, these are mental states, but they are all I know and they are now.

You are telling me to abandon them.

How does one abandon the now?

M: You are moving into the future all the time whether you like it or not.

Q: I am moving from now into now -- I do not move at all.

Everything else moves -- not me.

M: Granted.

But your mind does move.

In the now you are both the movable and the immovable.

So far you took yourself to be the movable and overlooked the immovable.

Turn your mind inside out.

Overlook the movable and you will find yourself to be the ever-present, changeless reality, inexpressible, but solid like a rock.

Q: If it is now, why am I not aware of it?

M: Because you hold on to the idea that you are not aware of it.

Let go the idea.

Q: It does not make me aware.

M: Wait.

You want to be on both sides of the wall at the same time.

You can, but you must remove the wall.

Or realise that the wall and both sides of it are one single space, to which no idea like 'here' or 'there' applies.

Q: Similes prove nothing.

My only complaint is this: why do I not see what you see, why your words do not sound true in my mind.

Let me know this much; all else can wait.

You are wise and I am stupid; you see, I don't.

Where and how shall I find my wisdom?

M: If you know yourself to be stupid, you are not stupid at all!

Q: Just as knowing myself sick does not make me well, so knowing myself foolish can not make me wise.

M: To know that you are ill must you not be well initially?

Q: Oh, no.

I know by comparison.

If I am blind from birth and you tell me that you know things without touching them, while I must touch to know, I am aware that I am blind without knowing what does it mean to see.

Similarly, I know that I am lacking something when you assert things which I cannot grasp.

You are telling me such wonderful things about myself; according to you I am eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, supremely happy, creator, preserver and destroyer of all there is, the source of all life, the heart of being, the lord and the beloved of every creature.

You equate me with the Ultimate Reality, the source and the goal of all existence.

I just blink, for I know myself to be a tiny little bundle of desires and fears, a bubble of suffering, a transient flash of consciousness in an ocean of darkness.

M: Before pain was, you were.

After pain had gone, you remained.

Pain is transient, you are not.

Q: I am sorry, but I do not see what you see.

From the day I was born till the day I die, pain and pleasure will weave the pattern of my life.

Of being before birth and after death I know nothing.

I neither accept nor deny you.

I hear what you say, but I do not know it.

M: Now you are conscious, are you not?

Q: Please do not ask me about before and after.

I just know only what is now.

M: Good enough.

You are conscious.

Hold on to it.

There are states when you are not conscious.

Call it unconscious being.

Q: Being unconscious?

M: Consciousness and unconsciousness do not apply here.

Existence is in consciousness, essence is independent of consciousness.

Q: It is void?

Is it silence?

M: Why elaborate?

Being pervades and transcends consciousness.

Objective consciousness is a part of pure consciousness, not beyond it.

Q: How do you come to know a state of pure being which is neither conscious nor unconscious?

All knowledge is in consciousness only.

There may be such a state as the abeyance of the mind.

Does consciousness then appear as the witness?

M: The witness only registers events.

In the abeyance of the mind even the sense 'I am' dissolves.

There is no 'I am' without the mind.

Q: Without the mind means without thoughts.

'I am' as a thought subsides.

'I am' as the sense of being remains.

M: All experience subsides with the mind.

Without the mind there can be no experiencer nor experience.

Q: Does not the witness remain?

M: The witness merely registers the presence or absence of experience.

It is not an experience by itself, but it becomes an experience when the thought: 'I am the witness' arises.

Q: All I know is that sometimes the mind works and sometimes it stops.

The experience of mental silence I call the abeyance of the mind.

M: Call it silence, or void, or abeyance, the fact is that the three -- experiencer, experiencing, experience -- are not.

In witnessing, in awareness, self-consciousness, the sense of being this or that, is not.

Unidentified being remains.

Q: As a state of unconsciousness?

M: With reference to anything, it is the opposite.

It is also between and beyond all opposites.

It is neither consciousness nor unconsciousness, nor midway, nor beyond the two.

It is by itself, not with reference to anything which may be called experience or its absence.

Q: How strange!

You speak of it as if it were an experience.

M: When I think of it -- it becomes an experience.

Q: Like the invisible light, intercepted by a flower, becoming colour?

M: Yes, you may say so.

It is in the colour but not the colour.

Q: The same old four-fold negation of Nagarjuna: neither this nor that, nor both, nor either.

My mind reels!

M: Your difficulty stems from the idea that reality is a state of consciousness, one among many.

You tend to say: "This is real.

That is not real.

And this is partly real, partly unreal", as if reality were an attribute or quality to have in varying measures.

Q: Let me put it differently.

After all, consciousness becomes a problem only when it is painful.

An ever-blissful state does not give rise to questions.

We find all consciousness to be a mixture of the pleasant and the painful.


M: All consciousness is limited and therefore painful.

At the root of consciousness lies desire, the urge to experience.

Q: Do you mean to say that without desire there can be no consciousness?

And what is the advantage of being unconscious?

If I have to forego pleasure for the freedom from pain, I better keep both.

M: Beyond pain and pleasure there is bliss.

Q: Unconscious bliss, of what use is it?

M: Neither conscious nor unconscious.


Q: What is your objection to consciousness?

M: It is a burden.

Body means burden.

Sensations, desires, thoughts -- these are all burdens.

All consciousness is of conflict.

Q: Reality is described as true being, pure consciousness, infinite bliss.

What has pain to do with it?

M: Pain and pleasure happen, but pain is the price of pleasure, pleasure is the reward of pain.

In life too you often please by hurting and hurt by pleasing.

To know that pain and pleasure are one is peace.

Q: All this is very interesting, no doubt, but my goal is more simple.

I want more pleasure and less pain in life.

What am I to do?

M: As long as there is consciousness, there must be pleasure and pain.

It is in the nature of the 'I am', of consciousness, to identify itself with the opposites.

Q: Then of what use is all this to me?

It does not satisfy.

M: Who are you, who is unsatisfied?

Q: I am, the pain-pleasure man.

M: Pain and pleasure are both ananda (bliss).

Here I am sitting in front of you and telling you -- from my own immediate and unchanging experience -- pain and pleasure are the crests and valleys of the waves in the ocean of bliss.

Deep down there is utter fullness.

Q: Is your experience constant?

M: It is timeless and changeless.

Q: All I know is desire for pleasure and fear of pain.

M: That is what you think about yourself.

Stop it.

If you cannot break a habit all at once, consider the familiar way of thinking and see its falseness.

Questioning the habitual is the duty of the mind.

What the mind created, the mind must destroy.

Or realise that there is no desire outside the mind and stay out.

Q: Honestly, I distrust this explaining everything as mind-made.

The mind is only an instrument, as the eye is an instrument.

Can you say that perception is creation?

I see the world through the window, not in the window.

All you say holds well together because of the common foundation, but I do not know whether your foundation is in reality, or only in the mind.

I can have only a mental picture of it.

What it means to you I do not know.

M: As long as you take your stand in the mind, you will see me in the mind.

Q: How inadequate are words for understanding!

M: Without words, what is there to understand?

The need for understanding arises from mis- understanding.

What I say is true, but to you it is only a theory.

How will you come to know that it is true?

Listen, remember, ponder, visualise, experience.

Also apply it in your daily life.

Have patience with me and, above all have patience with yourself, for you are your only obstacle.

The way leads through yourself beyond yourself.

As long as you believe only the particular to be real, conscious and happy and reject the non-dual reality as something imagined, an abstract concept, you will find me doling out concepts and abstractions.

But once you have touched the real within your own being, you will find me describing what for you is the nearest and the dearest.

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