Nisargadatta's "I Am That" - chapter 86

The Unknown is the Home of the Real.

Questioner: Who is the Guru and who is the supreme Guru?

Maharaj: All that happens in your consciousness is your Guru.

And pure awareness beyond consciousness is the supreme Guru.

Q: My Guru is Sri Babaji.

What is your opinion of him?

M: What a question to ask!

The space in Bombay is asked what is its opinion of the space in Poona.

The names differ, but not the space.

The word 'Babaji' is merely as address.

Who lives under the address?

You ask questions when you are in trouble.

Enquire who is giving trouble and to whom.

Q: I understand everybody is under the obligation to realise.

Is it his duty, or his destiny?

M: Realisation is of the fact that you are not a person.

Therefore, it cannot be the duty of the person whose destiny is to disappear.

Its destiny is the duty of him who imagines himself to be the person.

Find out who he is and the imagined person will dissolve.

Freedom is from something.

What are you to be free from?

Obviously, you must be free from the person, you take yourself to be, for it is the idea you have of yourself that keeps you in bondage.

Q: How is the person removed?

M: By determination.

Understand that it must go and wish it to go -- it shall go if you are earnest about it.

Somebody, anybody, will tell you that you are pure consciousness, not a body-mind.

Accept it as a possibility and investigate earnestly.

You may discover that it is not so, that you are not a person bound in space and time.

Think of the difference it would make!

Q: If I am not a person, then what am I?

M: Wet cloth looks, feels, smells differently as long as it is wet.

When dry it is again the normal cloth.

Water has left it and who can make out that it was wet?

Your real nature is not like what you appear to be.

Give up the idea of being a person, that is all.

You need not become what you are anyhow.

There is the identity of what you are and there is the person superimposed on it.

All you know is the person, the identity -- which is not a person -- you do not know, for you never doubted, never asked yourself the crucial question -- 'Who am I'.

The identity is the witness of the person and sadhana consists in shifting the emphasis from the superficial and changeful person to the immutable and ever-present witness.

Q: How is it that the question 'Who am I' attracts me little?

I prefer to spend my time in the sweet company of saints.

M: Abiding in your own being is also holy company.

If you have no problem of suffering and release from suffering, you will not find the energy and persistence needed for self-enquiry.

You cannot manufacture a crisis.

It must be genuine.

Q: How does a genuine crisis happen?

M: It happens every moment, but you are not alert enough.

A shadow on your neighbour's face, the immense and all-pervading sorrow of existence is a constant factor in your life, but you refuse to take notice.

You suffer and see others suffer, but you don't respond.

Q: What you say is true, but what can I do about it?

Such indeed is the situation.

My helplessness and dullness are a part of it.

M: Good enough.

Look at yourself steadily -- it is enough.

The door that locks you in, is also the door that lets you out.

The 'I am' is the door.

Stay at it until it opens.

As a matter of fact, it is open, only you are not at it.

You are waiting at the non-existent painted doors, which will never open.

Q: Many of us were taking drugs at some time, and to some extent.

People told us to take drugs in order to break through into higher levels of consciousness.

Others advised us to have abundant sex for the same purpose.

What is your opinion in the matter?

M: No doubt, a drug that can affect your brain can also affect your mind, and give you all the strange experiences promised.

But what are all the drugs compared to the drug that gave you this most unusual experience of being born and living in sorrow and fear, in search of happiness, which does not come, or does not last.

You should enquire into the nature of this drug and find an antidote.

Birth, life, death -- they are one.

Find out what had caused them.

Before you were born, you were already drugged.

What kind of drug was it?

You may cure yourself of all diseases, but if you are still under the influence of the primordial drug, of what use are the superficial cures?

Q: Is it not karma that causes rebirth?

M: You may change the name, but the fact remains.

What is the drug which you call karma or destiny?

It made you believe yourself to be what you are not.

What is it, and can you be free of it?

Before you go further you must accept, at least as a working theory, that you are not what you appear to be, that you are under the influence of a drug.

Then only will you have the urge and the patience to examine the symptoms and search for their common cause.

All that a Guru can tell you is: 'My dear Sir, you are quite mistaken about yourself.

You are not the person you think yourself to be.

' Trust nobody, not even yourself.

Search, find out, remove and reject every assumption till you reach the living waters and the rock of truth.

Until you are free of the drug, all your religions and sciences, prayers and Yogas are of no use to you, for based on a mistake, they strengthen it.

But if you stay with the idea that you are not the body nor the mind, not even their witness, but altogether beyond, your mind will grow in clarity, your desires -- in purity, your actions -- in charity and that inner distillation will take you to another world, a world of truth and fearless love.

Resist your old habits of feeling and thinking; keep on telling yourself: 'No, not so, it cannot be so; I am not like this, I do not need it, I do not want it', and a day will surely come when the entire structure of error and despair will collapse and the ground will be free for a new life.

After all, you must remember, that all your preoccupations with yourself are only in your waking hours and partly in your dreams; in sleep all is put aside and forgotten.

It shows how little important is your waking life, even to yourself, that merely lying down and closing the eyes can end it.

Each time you go to sleep you do so without the least certainty of waking up and yet you accept the risk.

Q: When you sleep, are you conscious or unconscious?

M: I remain conscious, but not conscious of being a particular person.

Q: Can you give us the taste of the experience of self-realisation?

M: Take the whole of it!

It is here for the asking.

But you do not ask.

Even when you ask, you do not take.

Find out what prevents you from taking.

Q: I know what prevents -- my ego.

M: Then get busy with your ego -- leave me alone.

As long as you are locked up within your mind, my state is beyond your grasp.

Q: I find I have no more questions to ask.

M: Were you really at war with your ego, you would have put many more questions.

You are short of questions because you are not really interested.

At present you are moved by the pleasure-pain principle which is the ego.

You are going along with the ego, you are not fighting it.

You are not even aware how totally you are swayed by personal considerations.

A man should always revolt against himself, for the ego, like a crooked mirror, narrows down and distorts.

It is the worst of all the tyrants, it dominates you absolutely.

Q: When there is no 'I' who is free?

M: The world is free of a mighty nuisance.

Good enough.

Q: Good for whom?

M: Good for everybody.

It is like a rope stretched across the street, it snarls up the traffic.

Roll up, it is there, as mere identity, useful when needed.

Freedom from the ego-self is the fruit of self-enquiry.

Q: There was a time when I was most displeased with myself.

Now I have met my Guru and I am at peace, after having surrendered myself to him completely.

M: If you watch your daily life you will see that you have surrendered nothing.

You have merely added the word 'surrender' to your vocabulary and made your Guru into a peg to hang your problems on.

Real surrender means doing nothing, unless prompted by your Guru.

You step, so to say, aside and let your Guru live your life.

You merely watch and wonder how easily he solves the problems which to you seemed insoluble.

Q: As I sit here, I see the room, the people.

I see you too.

How does it look at your end?

What do you see?

M: Nothing.

I look, but I do not see in the sense of creating images clothed with judgements.

I do not describe nor evaluate.

I look, I see you, but neither attitude nor opinion cloud my vision.

And when I turn my eyes away, my mind does not allow memory to linger; it is at once free and fresh for the next impression.

Q: As I am here, looking at you, I cannot locate the event in space and time.

There is something eternal and universal about the transmission of wisdom that is taking place.

Ten thousand years earlier, or later, make no difference -- the event itself is timeless.

M: Man does not change much over the ages.

Human problems remain the same and call for the same answers.

Your being conscious of what you call transmission of wisdom shows that wisdom has not yet been transmitted.

When you have it, you are no longer conscious of it.

What is really your own, you are not conscious of.

What you are conscious of is neither you nor yours.

Yours is the power of perception, not what you perceive.

It is a mistake to take the conscious to be the whole of man.

Man is the unconscious, conscious and the super-conscious, but you are not the man.

Yours is the cinema screen, the light as well as the seeing power, but the picture is not you.

Q: Must I search for the Guru, or shall I stay with whomever I have found?

M: The very question shows that you have not yet found one.

As long as you have not realised, you will move from Guru to Guru, but when you have found yourself, the search will end.

A Guru is a milestone.

When you are on the move, you pass so many milestones.

When you have reached your destination, it is the last alone that mattered.

In reality all mattered at their own time and none matters now.

Q: You seem to give no importance to the Guru.

He is merely an incident among others.

M: All incidents contribute, but none is crucial.

On the road each step helps you reach your destination, and each is as crucial as the other, for each step must be made, you cannot skip it.

If you refuse to make it, you are stuck!

Q: Everybody sings the glories of the Guru, while you compare him to a milestone.

Don't we need a Guru?

M: Don't we need a milestone?

Yes and no.

Yes, if we are uncertain, no if we know our way.

Once we are certain in ourselves, the Guru is no longer needed, except in a technical sense.

Your mind is an instrument, after all, and you should know how to use it.

As you are taught the uses of your body, so you should know how to use your mind.

Q: What do I gain by learning to use my mind?

M: You gain freedom from desire and fear, which are entirely due to wrong uses of the mind.

Mere mental knowledge is not enough.

The known is accidental, the unknown is the home of the real.

To live in the known is bondage, to live in the unknown is liberation.

Q: I have understood that all spiritual practice consists in the elimination of the personal self.

Such practice demands iron determination and relentless application.

Where to find the integrity and energy for such work?

M: You find it in the company of the wise?

Q: How do I know who is wise and who is merely clever?

M: If your motives are pure, if you seek truth and nothing else, you will find the right people.

Finding them is easy, what is difficult is to trust them and take full advantage of their advice and guidance.

Q: Is the waking state more important for spiritual practice than sleep?

M: On the whole we attach too much importance, to the waking state.

Without sleep the waking state would be impossible; without sleep one goes mad or dies; why attach so much importance to waking consciousness, which is obviously dependent on the unconscious?

Not only the conscious but the unconscious as well should be taken care of in our spiritual practice.

Q: How does one attend to the unconscious?

M: Keep the 'I am' in the focus of awareness, remember that you are, watch yourself ceaselessly and the unconscious will flow into the conscious without any special effort on your part.

Wrong desires and fears, false ideas, social inhibitions are blocking and preventing its free interplay with the conscious.

Once free to mingle, the two become one and the one becomes all.

The person merges into the witness, the witness into awareness, awareness into pure being, yet identity is not lost, only its limitations are lost.

It is transfigured, and becomes the real Self, the sadguru, the eternal friend and guide.

You cannot approach it in worship.

No external activity can reach the inner self; worship and prayers remain on the surface only; to go deeper meditation is essential, the striving to go beyond the states of sleep, dream and waking.

In the beginning the attempts are irregular, then they recur more often, become regular, then continuous and intense, until all obstacles are conquered.

Q: Obstacles to what?

M: To self-forgetting.

Q: If worship and prayers are ineffectual why do you worship daily, with songs and music, the image of your Guru!

M: Those who want it, do it.

I see no purpose in interfering.

Q: But you take part in it.

M: Yes, it appears so.

But why be so concerned with me?

Give all your attention to the question: 'What is it that makes me conscious?

', until your mind becomes the question itself and cannot think of anything else.

Q: All and sundry are urging me to meditate.

I find no zest in meditation, but I am interested in many other things; some I want very much and my mind goes to them; my attempts at meditation are so half-hearted.

What am I to do?

M: Ask yourself: 'To whom it all happens?

' Use everything as an opportunity to go within.

Light your way by burning up obstacles in the intensity of awareness.

When you happen to desire or fear, it is not the desire or fear that are wrong and must go, but the person who desires and fears.

There is no point in fighting desires and fears which may be perfectly natural and justified; It is the person, who is swayed by them, that is the cause of mistakes, past and future.

The person should be carefully examined and its falseness seen; then its power over you will end.

After all, it subsides each time you go to sleep.

In deep sleep you are not a self-conscious person, yet you are alive.

When you are alive and conscious, but no longer self-conscious, you are not a person anymore.

During the waking hours you are, as if, on the stage, playing a role, but what are you when the play is over?

You are what you are; what you were before the play began you remain when it is over.

Look at yourself as performing on the stage of life.

The performance may be splendid or clumsy, but you are not in it, you merely watch it; with interest and sympathy, of course, but keeping in mind all the time that you are only watching while the play -- life -- is going on.

Q: You are always stressing the cognition aspect of reality.

You hardly ever mention affection, and will -- never?

M: Will, affection, bliss, striving and enjoying are so deeply tainted with the personal, that they cannot be trusted.

The clarification and purification needed at the very start of the journey, only awareness can give.

Love and will shall have their turn, but the ground must be prepared.

The sun of awareness must rise first -- all else will follow.

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