Nisargadatta's "I Am That" - chapter 101

Jnani does not Grasp, nor Hold.

Questioner: How does the jnani proceed when he needs something to be done?

Does he make plans, decide about details and execute them?

Maharaj: Jnani understands a situation fully and knows at once what needs be done.

That is all.

The rest happens by itself, and to a large extent unconsciously.

The jnani's identity with all that is, is so complete, that as he responds to the universe, so does the universe respond to him.

He is supremely confident that once a situation has been cognised, events will move in adequate response.

The ordinary man is personally concerned, he counts his risks and chances, while the jnani remains aloof, sure that all will happen as it must; and it does not matter much what happens, for ultimately the return to balance and harmony is inevitable.

The heart of things is at peace.

Q: I have understood that personality is an illusion, and alert detachment, without loss of identity, is our point of contact with the reality.

Will you, please, tell me -- at this moment are you a person or a self-aware identity?

M: I am both.

But the real self cannot be described except in terms supplied by the person, in terms of what I am not.

All you can tell about the person is not the self, and you can tell nothing about the self, which would not refer to the person; as it is, as it could be, as it should be.

All attributes are personal.

The real is beyond all attributes.

Q: Are you sometimes the self and sometimes the person?

M: How can I be?

The person is what I appear to be to other persons.

To myself I am the infinite expanse of consciousness in which innumerable persons emerge and disappear in endless succession.

Q: How is it that the person, which to you is quite illusory, appears real to us?

M: You, the self, being the root of all being, consciousness and joy, impart your reality to whatever you perceive.

This imparting of reality takes place invariably in the now, at no other time, because past and future are only in the mind.

'Being' applies to the now only.

Q: Is not eternity endless too?

M: Time is endless, though limited, eternity is In the split moment of the now.

We miss it because the mind is ever shuttling between the past and the future.

It will not stop to focus the now.

It can be done with comparative ease, if interest is aroused.

Q: What arouses interest?

M: Earnestness, the sign of maturity.

Q: And how does maturity come about?

M: By keeping your mind clear and clean, by living your life in full awareness of every moment as it happens, by examining and dissolving one's desires and fears as soon as they arise.

Q: Is such concentration at all possible?

M: Try.

One step at a time is easy.

Energy flows from earnestness.

Q: I find I am not earnest enough.

M: Self-betrayal is a grievous matter.

It rots the mind like cancer.

The remedy lies in clarity and integrity of thinking.

Try to understand that you live in a world of illusions, examine them and uncover their roots.

The very attempt to do so will make you earnest, for there is bliss in right endeavour.

Q: Where will it lead me?

M: Where can it lead you if not to its own perfection?

Once you are well-established in the now, you have nowhere else to go what you are timelessly, you express eternally.

Q: Are you one or many?

M: I am one, but appear as many.

Q: Why does one appear at all?

M: It is good to be, and to be conscious.

Q: Life is sad.

M: Ignorance causes sorrow.

Happiness follows understanding.

Q: Why should ignorance be painful?

M: It is at the root of all desire and fear, which are painful states and the source of endless errors.

Q: I have seen people supposed to have realised, laughing and crying.

Does it not show that they are not free of desire and fear?

M: They may laugh and cry according to circumstances, but inwardly they are cool and clear, watching detachedly their own spontaneous reactions.

Appearances are misleading and more so in the case of a jnani.

Q: I do not understand you.

M: The mind cannot understand, for the mind is trained for grasping and holding while the jnani is not-grasping and not holding.

Q: What am I holding on to, which you do not?

M: You are a creature of memories; at least you imagine yourself to be so.

I am entirely unimagined.

I am what I am, not identifiable with any physical or mental state.

Q: An accident would destroy your equanimity.

M: The strange fact is that it does not.

To my own surprise, I remain as I am -- pure awareness, alert to all that happens.

Q: Even at the Moment of death?

M: What is it to me that the body dies?

Q: Don't you need it to contact the world?

M: I do not need the world.

Nor am I in one.

The world you think of is in your own mind.

I can see it through your eyes and mind, but I am fully aware that it is a projection of memories; it is touched by the real only at the point of awareness, which can be only now.

Q: The only difference between us seems to be that while I keep on saying that I do not know my real self, you maintain that you know it well; is there any other difference between us?

M: There is no difference between us; nor can I say that I know myself, I know that I am not describable nor definable.

There is a vastness beyond the farthest reaches of the mind.

That vastness is my home; that vastness is myself.

And that vastness is also love.

Q: You see love everywhere, while I see hatred and suffering.

The history of humanity is the history of murder, individual and collective.

No other living being so delights in killing.

M: If you go into the motives, you will find love, love of oneself and of one's own.

People fight for what they imagine they love.

Q: Surely their love must be real enough when they are ready to die for it.

M: Love is boundless.

What is limited to a few cannot be called love.

Q: Do you know such unlimited love?

M: Yes, l do.

Q: How does it feel?

M: All is loved and lovable.

Nothing is excluded.

Q: Not even the ugly and the criminal?

M: All is within my consciousness; all is my own.

It is madness to split oneself through likes and dislikes.

I am beyond both.

I am not alienated.

Q: To be free from like and dislike is a state of indifference.

M: It may look and feel so in the beginning.

Persevere in such indifference and it will blossom into an all-pervading and all-embracing love.

Q: One has such moments when the mind becomes a flower and a flame, but they do not last and the life reverts to its daily greyness.

M: Discontinuity is the law, when you deal with the concrete: The continuous cannot be experienced, for it has no borders.

Consciousness implies alterations, change followings change, when one thing or state comes to an end and another begins; that which has no borderline cannot be experienced in the common meaning of the word.

One can only be it, without knowing, but one can know what it is not.

It is definitely not the entire content of consciousness which is always on the move.

Q: If the immovable cannot be known, what is the meaning and purpose of its realisation?

M: To realise the immovable means to become immovable.

And the purpose is the good of all that lives.

Q: Life is movement.

Immobility is death.

Of what use is death to life?

M: I am talking of immovability, not of immobility.

You become immovable in reticence.

You become a power which gets all things right.

It may or may not imply intense outward activity, but the mind remains deep and quiet.

Q: As I watch my mind I find it changing all the time, mood succeeding mood in infinite variety, while you seem to be perpetually in the same mood of cheerful benevolence.

M: Moods are in the mind and do not matter.

Go within, go beyond.

Cease being fascinated by the content of your consciousness.

When you reach the deep layers of your true being, you will find that the mind's surface-play affects you very little.

Q: There will be play all the same?

M: A quiet mind is not a dead mind.

Q: Consciousness is always in movement -- it is an observable fact.

Immovable consciousness is a contradiction.

When you talk of a quiet mind, what is it?

Is not mind the same as consciousness?

M: We must remember that words are used in many ways, according to the context.

The fact is that there is little difference between the conscious and the unconscious --- they are essentially the same.

The waking state differs from deep sleep in the presence of the witness.

A ray of awareness illumines a part of our mind and that part becomes our dream or waking consciousness, while awareness appears as the witness.

The witness usually knows only consciousness.

Sadhana consists in the witness turning back first on his conscious, then upon himself in his own awareness.

Self-awareness is Yoga.

Q: If awareness is all-pervading, then a blind man, once realised, can see?

M: You are mixing sensation with awareness.

The jnani knows himself as he is.

He is also aware of his body being crippled and his mind being deprived of a range of sensory perceptions.

But he is not affected by the availability of eyesight, nor by its absence.

Q: My question is more specific; when a blind man becomes a jnani will his eyesight be restored to him or not?

M: Unless his eyes and brain undergo a renovation, how can he see?

Q: But will they undergo a renovation?

M: They may or may not.

It all depends on destiny and grace.

But a jnani commands a mode of spontaneous, non-sensory perception, which makes him know things directly, without the intermediary of the senses.

He is beyond the perceptual and the conceptual, beyond the categories of time and space, name and shape.

He is neither the perceived nor the perceiver, but the simple and the universal factor that makes perceiving possible.

Reality is within consciousness, but it is not consciousness nor any of its contents.

Q: What is false, the world, or my knowledge of it?

M: Is there a world outside your knowledge?

Can you go beyond what you know?

You may postulate a world beyond the mind, but it will remain a concept, unproved and unprovable.

Your experience is your proof, and it is valid for you only.

Who else can have your experience, when the other person is only as real as he appears in your experience?

Q: Am I so hopelessly lonely?

M: You are.

as a person.

In your real being vow are the whole.

Q: Are you a part of the world which I have in consciousness, or are you independent?

M: What you see is yours and what I see is mine.

The two have little in common.

Q: There must be some common factor which unites us.

M: To find the common factor you must abandon all distinctions.

Only the universal is in common.

Q: What strikes me as exceedingly strange is that while you say that I am merely a product of my memories and woefully limited, I create a vast and rich world in which.

everything is contained, including you and your teaching.

How this vastness is created and contained in my smallness is what I find hard to understand.

May be you are giving me the whole truth, but I am grasping only a small part of it.

M: Yet, it is a fact -- the small projects the whole, but it cannot contain the whole.

However great and complete is your world it is self-contradictory and transitory and altogether illusory.

Q: It may be illusory yet it is marvellous.

When I look and listen, touch, smell and taste, think and feel, remember and imagine, I cannot but be astonished at my miraculous creativity.

I look through a microscope or telescope and see wonders, I follow the track of an atom and hear the whisper of the stars.

If I am the sole creator of all this, then I am God indeed!

But if I am God, why do I appear so small and helpless to myself?

M: You are God, but you do not know it.

Q: If I am God, then the world I create must be true.

M: It is true in essence, but not in appearance.

Be free of desires and fears and at once your vision will clear and you shall see all things as they are.

Or, you may say that the satoguna creates the world, the tamoguna obscures it and the rajoguna distorts.

Q: This does not tell me much, because if I ask what are the gunas, the answer will be: what creates -- what obscures -- what distorts.

The fact remains -- something unbelievable happened to me, and I do not understand what has happened, how and why.

M: Well, wonder is the dawn of wisdom.

To be steadily and consistently wondering is sadhana.

Q: I am in a world which I do not understand and therefore, I am afraid of it.

This is everybody's experience.

M: You have separated yourself from the world, therefore it pains and frightens you.

Discover your mistake and be free of fear.

Q: You are asking me to give up the world, while I want to be happy in the world.

M: If you ask for the impossible, who can help you?

The limited is bound to be painful and pleasant in turns.

If you seek real happiness, unassailable and unchangeable, you must leave the world with its pains and pleasures behind you.

Q: How is it done?

M: Mere physical renunciation is only a token of earnestness, but earnestness alone does not liberate.

There must be understanding which comes with alert perceptivity, eager enquiry and deep investigation.

You must work relentlessly for your salvation from sin and sorrow.

Q: What is sin?

M: All that binds you.

There is an atmosphere of timelessness about his tiny room; the subjects discussed are timeless -- valid for all times; the way they are expounded and examined is also timeless; the centuries, millennia and yugas fall off and one deals with matters immensely ancient and eternally new.

The discussions held and teachings given would have been the same ten thousand years ago and will be the same ten thousand years hence.

There will always be conscious beings wondering about the fact of their being conscious and enquiring into its cause and aim.

Whence am I?

Who am I?

Whither am I?

Such questions have no beginning and no end.

And it is crucial to know the answers, for without a full understanding of oneself, both in time and in timelessness, life is but a dream, imposed on us by powers we do not know, for purposes we cannot grasp.

Maharaj is not a learned.

There is no erudition behind his homely Marathi; authorities he does not quote, scriptures are rarely mentioned; the astonishingly rich spiritual heritage of India is implicit in him rather than explicit.

No rich Ashram was ever built around him and most of his followers are humble working people cherishing the opportunity of spending an hour with him from time to time.

Simplicity and humility are the keynotes of his life and teachings; physically and inwardly he never takes the higher seat; the essence of being on which he talks, he sees in others as clearly as he sees it in himself.

He admits that while he is aware of it, others are not yet, but this difference is temporary and of little importance, except to the mind and its ever-changing content.

When asked about his Yoga, he says he has none to offer, no system t propound, no theology, cosmology, psychology or philosophy.

He knows the real nature -- his own and his listeners' -- and he points it out.

The listener cannot see it because he cannot see the obvious, simply and directly.

All he knows, he knows with his mind, stimulated with the senses.

That the mind is a sense in itself, he does not even suspect.

The Nisarga Yoga, the 'natural' Yoga of Maharaj, is disconcertingly simple -- the mind, which is all- becoming, must recognise and penetrate its own being, not as being this or that, here or there, then or now, but just as timeless being.

This timeless being is the source of both life and consciousness.

In terms of time, space and causation it is all-powerful, being the causeless cause; all-pervading, eternal, in the sense of being beginningless, endless and ever-present.

Uncaused, it is free; all-pervading, it knows; undivided, it is happy.

It lives, it loves, and it has endless fun, shaping and re-shaping the universe.

Every man has it, every man is it, but not all know themselves as they are, and therefore identify themselves with the name and shape of their bodies and the contents of their consciousness.

To rectify this misunderstanding of one's reality, the only way is to take full cognisance of the ways of one's mind and to turn it into an instrument of self-discovery.

The mind was originally a tool in the struggle for biological survival.

It had to learn the laws and ways of Nature working hand-in-hand can raise life to a higher level.

But, in the process the mind acquired the art of symbolic thinking and communication, the art and skill of language.

Words became important.

Ideas and abstractions acquired an appearance of reality, the conceptual replaced the real, with the result that man now lives in a verbal world, crowded with words and dominated by words.

Obviously, for dealing with things and people words are exceedingly useful.

But they make us live in a world totally symbolic and, therefore, unreal.

To break out from this prison of the verbal mind into reality, one must be able to shift one's focus from the word to what it refers to, the thing itself.

The most commonly used word and most pregnant with feelings, and ideas is the word 'I'.

Mind tends to include in it anything and everything, the body as well as the Absolute.

In practice it stands as a pointer to an experience which is direct, immediate and immensely significant.

To be, and to know that one is, is most important.

And to be of interest, a thing must be related to one's conscious existence, which is the focal point of every desire and fear.

For, the ultimate aim of every desire is to enhance and intensify this sense of existence, while all fear is, in its essence, the fear of self- extinction.

To delve into the sense of 'I' -- so real and vital -- in order to reach its source is the core of Nisarga Yoga.

Not being continuous, the sense of 'I' must have a source from which it flows and to which it returns.

This timeless source of conscious being is what Maharaj calls the self-nature, self-being, swarupa.

As to the methods of realising one's supreme identity with self-being, Maharaj is peculiarly non- committal.

He says that each has his own way to reality, and that there can be no general rule.

But, for all the gateway to reality, by whatever road one arrives to it, is the sense of 'I am'.

It is through grasping the full import of the 'I am', and going beyond it to its source, that one can realise the supreme state, which is also the primordial and the ultimate.

The difference between the beginning and the end lies only in the mind.
When the mind is dark or turbulent, the source is not perceived.
When it is clear and luminous, it becomes a faithful reflection of the source.
The source is always the same -- beyond darkness and light, beyond life and death, beyond the conscious and the unconscious.
This dwelling on the sense 'I am' is the simple, easy and natural Yoga, the Nisarga Yoga.
There is no secrecy in it and no dependence; no preparation is required and no initiation.
Whoever is puzzled by his very existence as a conscious being and earnestly wants to find his own source, can grasp the ever-present sense of 'I am' and dwell on it assiduously and patiently, till the clouds obscuring the mind dissolve and the heart of being is seen in all its glory.
The Nisarga Yoga, when persevered in and brought to its fruition, results in one becoming conscious and active in what one always was unconsciously and passively.
There is no difference in kind -- only in manner -- the difference between a lump of gold and a glorious ornament shaped out of it.
Life goes on, but it is spontaneous and free, meaningful and happy.
Maharaj most lucidly describes this natural, spontaneous state, but as the man born blind cannot visualise light and colours, so is the unenlightened mind unable to give meaning to such descriptions.
Expressions like dispassionate happiness, affectionate detachment, timelessness and causelessness of things and being -- they all sound strange and cause no response.
Intuitively we feel they have a deep meaning, and they even create in us a strange longing for the ineffable, a forerunner of things to come, but that is all.
As Maharaj puts it: words are pointers, they show the direction but they will not come along with us.
Truth is the fruit of earnest action, words merely point the way.
The Nath Sampradaya, later known as the Navnath Sampradaya, is one of them.
Some scholars are of the view that this sect originated with the teachings of the mythical Rishi Dattatreya, who is believed to be a combined incarnation of the holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
The unique spiritual attainments of this legendary figure are mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana, the Mahabharata and also in some later Upanishads.
Others hold that it is an offshoot of the Hatha Yoga.
Whatever be its origin, the teachings of the Nath Sampradaya have, over the centuries, become labyrinthine in complexity and have assumed different forms in different parts of India.
Some Gurus of the Sampradaya lay stress on bhakti, devotion; others on jnana, knowledge; still others on yoga, the union with the ultimate.
In the fourteenth century we find Svatmarama Svami, the great Hathayogin, bemoaning 'the darkness arising out of multiplicity of opinions' to displel which he lit the lamp of his famous work Hathayogapradipika.
According to some learned commentators, the Nath Gurus propound that the entire creation is born out of nada (sound), the divine principle, and bindu (light), the physical principle and the Supreme Reality from which these two principles emanate is Shiva.
Liberation according to them is merging of the soul into Shiva through the process of laya, dissolution of the human ego, the sense of I-ness.
In the day-to-day instructions to their devotees, however, the Nath Gurus seldom refer to the metaphysics discovered by the scholars in their teachings.
In fact their approach is totally non- metaphysical, simple and direct.
While the chanting of sacred hyms and devotional songs as well as the worship of the idols is a traditional feature of the sect, its teaching emphasises that the Supreme Reality can be realised only within the heart.
The Nath Sampradaya came to be known as Navnath Sampradaya when sometime in the remote past, the followers of the sect chose nine of their early Gurus as examplars of their creed.
Bur there is no unanimity regarding the names of these nine Masters.
Matsyendranath 2.
Gorakhnath 3.
Jalandharnath 4.
Kantinath 5.
Gahininath 6.
Bhartrinath 7.
Revananath 8.
Charpatnath 9.
Revananath is said to have founded a sub-sect of his own and chose Kadasiddha as his chief disciple and successor.
The latter initiated Lingajangam Maharaj and Bhausahib Maharaj and entrusted to their care his Ashram and the propagation of his teaching.
Bhausahib Maharaj later established what came to be known as Inchegeri Sampradaya, a new movement within the traditional fold.
Among his disciples were Amburao Maharaj, Girimalleshwar Maharaj, Siddharameshwar Maharaj and the noted philosopher Dr. R. D. Renade.
It may be mentioned here that, though officially the current Guru of the Inchegeri branch of the Navnath Sampradaya, Sri Nisargadatta does not seem to attach much importance to sects, cults and creeds, including his own.
In answer to a questioner whi wished to join the Navnath Sampradaya he said: "The Navnath Sampradaya is only a tradition, a way of teaching and practice.
It does not denote a level of consciousness.
If you accept a Navnath Sampradaya teacher as your Guru, you join his Sampradaya...
Your belonging is a matter of your own feeling and conviction.
After all it is all verbal and formal.
In reality there is neither Guru nor disciple, neither theory nor practice, neither ignorance nor realisation.
It all depends upon what you take yourself to be.
Know yourself correctly.