Nisargadatta's "I Am That" - chapter 79
Person, Witness and the Supreme.
Questioner: We have a long history of drug-taking behind us, mostly drugs of the consciousness- expanding variety.
They gave us the experience of other states of consciousness, high and low, and also the conviction, that drugs are unreliable and, at best, transitory and, at worst, destructive of organism and personality.
We are in search of better means for developing consciousness and transcendence.
We want the fruits of our search to stay with us and enrich our lives, instead of turning to pale memories and helpless regrets.
If by the spiritual we mean self-investigation and development, our purpose in coming to India is definitely spiritual.
The happy hippy stage is behind us; we are serious now and on the move.
We know there is reality to be found, but we do not know how to find and hold on to it.
We need no convincing, only guidance.
Can you help us?
Maharaj: You do not need help, only advice.
What you seek is already in you.
Take my own case.
I did nothing for my realisation.
My teacher told me that the reality is within me; I looked within and found it there, exactly as my teacher told me.
To see reality is as simple as to see one's face in a mirror.
Only the mirror must be clear and true.
A quiet mind, undistorted by desires and fears, free from ideas and opinions, clear on all the levels, is needed to reflect the reality.
Be clear and quiet -- alert and detached, all else will happen by itself.
Q: You had to make your mind clear and quiet before you could realise the truth.
How did you do it?
M: I did nothing.
It just happened.
I lived my life, attending to my family's needs.
Nor did my Guru do it.
It just happened, as he said it will.
Q: Things do not just happen.
There must be a cause for everything.
M: All that happens is the cause of all that happens.
Causes are numberless; the idea of a sole cause is an illusion.
Q: You must have been doing something specific -- some meditation or Yoga.
How can you say that realisation will happen on its own?
M: Nothing specific.
I just lived my life.
Q: I am amazed!
M: So was I.
But what was there to be amazed at?
My teacher's words came true.
He knew me better than I knew myself, that is all.
Why search for causes?
In the very beginning I was giving some attention and time to the sense 'I am', but only in the beginning.
Soon after my Guru died, I lived on.
His words proved to be true.
That is all.
It is all one process.
You tend to separate things in time and then look for causes.
Q: What is your work now?
What are you doing?
M: You imagine being and doing as identical.
It is not so.
The mind and the body move and change and cause other minds and bodies to move and change and that is called doing, action.
I see that it is in the nature of action to create further action like fire that continues by burning.
I neither act nor cause others to act; I am timelessly aware of what is going on.
Q: In your mind, or also in other minds?
M: There is only one mind, which swarms with ideas; 'I am this, I am that, this is mine, that is mine'.
I am not the mind, never was, nor shall be.
Q: How did the mind come into being?
M: The world consists of matter, energy and intelligence.
They manifest themselves in many ways.
Desire and imagination create the world and intelligence reconciles the two and causes a sense of harmony and peace To me it all happens; I am aware, yet unaffected.
Q: You cannot be aware, yet unaffected.
There is a contradiction in terms.
Perception is change.
Once you have experienced a sensation, memory will not allow you to return to the former state.
M: Yes, what is added to memory cannot be erased easily.
But it can surely be done and, in fact, I am doing it all the time.
Like a bird on its wings, I leave no footprints.
Q: Has the witness name and form, or is it beyond these?
M: The witness is merely a point in awareness.
It has no name and form.
It is like the reflection of the sun in a drop of dew.
The drop of dew has name and form, but the little point of light is caused by the sun.
The clearness and smoothness of the drop is a necessary condition but not sufficient by itself.
Similarly clarity and silence of the mind are necessary for the reflection of reality to appear in the mind, but by themselves they are not sufficient.
There must be reality beyond it.
Because reality is timelessly present, the stress is on the necessary conditions.
Q: Can it happen that the mind is clear and quiet and yet no reflection appears?
M: There is destiny to consider.
The unconscious is in the grip of destiny, it is destiny, in fact.
One may have to wait.
But however heavy may be the hand of destiny, it can be lifted by patience and self-control.
Integrity and purity remove the obstacles and the vision of reality appears in the mind.
Q: How does one gain self-control?
I am so weak-minded!
M: Understand first that you are not the person you believe yourself to be.
What you think yourself to be is mere suggestion or imagination.
You have no parents, you were not born, nor will you die.
Either trust me when I tell you so, or arrive to it by study and investigation.
The way of total faith is quick, the other is slow but steady.
Both must be tested in action.
Act on what you think is true -- this is the way to truth.
Q: Are deserving the truth and destiny one and the same?
M: Yes, both are in the unconscious.
Conscious merit is mere vanity.
Consciousness is always of obstacles; when there are no obstacles, one goes beyond it.
Q: Will the understanding that I am not the body give me the strength of character needed for self- control?
M: When you know that you are neither body nor mind, you will not be swayed by them.
You will follow truth, wherever it takes you, and do what needs be done, whatever the price to pay.
Q: Is action essential for self-realisation?
M: For realisation, understanding is essential.
Action is only incidental.
A man of steady understanding will not refrain from action.
Action is the test of truth.
Q: Are tests needed?
M: If you do not test yourself all the time, you will not be able to distinguish between reality and fancy.
Observation and close reasoning help to some extent, but reality is paradoxical.
How do you know that you have realised unless you watch your thoughts and feelings, words and actions and wonder at the changes occurring in you without your knowing why and how?
It is exactly because they are so surprising that you know that they are real.
The foreseen and expected is rarely true.
Q: How does the person come into being?
M: Exactly as a shadow appears when light is intercepted by the body, so does the person arise when pure self-awareness is obstructed by the 'I-am-the-body' idea.
And as the shadow changes shape and position according to the lay of the land, so does the person appear to rejoice and suffer, rest and toil, find and lose according to the pattern of destiny.
When the body is no more, the person disappears completely without return, only the witness remains and the Great Unknown.
The witness is that which says 'I know'.
The person says 'I do'.
Now, to say 'I know' is not untrue -- it is merely limited.
But to say 'I do' is altogether false, because there is nobody who does; all happens by itself, including the idea of being a doer.
Q: Then what is action?
M: The universe is full of action, but there is no actor.
There are numberless persons small and big and very big, who, through identification, imagine themselves as acting, but it does not change the fact that the world of action (mahadakash) is one single whole in which all depends on, and affects all.
The stars affect us deeply and we affect the stars.
Step back from action to consciousness, leave action to the body and the mind; it is their domain.
Remain as pure witness, till even witnessing dissolves in the Supreme.
Imagine a thick jungle full of heavy timber.
A plank is shaped out of the timber and a small pencil to write on it.
The witness reads the writing and knows that while the pencil and the plank are distantly related to the jungle, the writing has nothing to do with it.
It is totally super-imposed and its disappearance just does not matter.
The dissolution of personality is followed always by a sense of great relief, as if a heavy burden has fallen off.
Q: When you say, I am in the state beyond the witness, what is the experience that makes you say so?
In what way does it differ from the stage of being a witness only?
M: It is like washing printed cloth.
First the design fades, then the background and in the end the cloth is plain white.
The personality gives place to the witness, then the witness goes and pure awareness remains.
The cloth was white in the beginning and is white in the end; the patterns and colours just happened -- for a time.
Q: Can there be awareness without an object of awareness?
M: Awareness with an object we called witnessing.
When there is also self-identification with the object, caused by desire or fear, such a state is called a person.
In reality there is only one state; when distorted by self-identification it is called a person, when coloured with the sense of being, it is the witness; when colourless and limitless, it is called the Supreme.
Q: I find that I am always restless, longing, hoping, seeking, finding, enjoying, abandoning, searching again.
What is it that keeps me on the boil?
M: You are really in search of yourself, without knowing it.
You are love-longing for the love-worthy, the perfectly lovable.
Due to ignorance you are looking for it in the world of opposites and contradictions.
When you find it within, your search will be over.
Q: There will be always this sorrowful world to contend with.
M: Don't anticipate.
You do not know.
It is true that all manifestation is in the opposites.
Pleasure and pain, good and bad, high and low, progress and regress, rest and strife they all come and go together -- and as long as there is a world, its contradictions will be there.
There may also be periods of perfect harmony, of bliss and beauty, but only for a time.
What is perfect, returns to the source of all perfection and the opposites play on.
Q: How am I to reach perfection?
M: Keep quiet.
Do your work in the world, but inwardly keep quiet.
Then all will come to you.
Do not rely on your work for realisation.
It may profit others, but not you.
Your hope lies in keeping silent in your mind and quiet in your heart.
realised people are very quiet.