Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj Biography

Grace of the Guru

The Pseudo-Entity The Individual

Video Nisargadatta, I am only the Self

The "I Amness"

The Mind

The Reality is You

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj Biography
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj was born in Mumbai (Bombay) in March, 1897. His parents, who gave him the name Maruti, had a small farm at the village of Kandalgaon in Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra. His father, Shivrampant, was a poor man who had been a servant in Bombay before turning to farming.

Maruti worked on the farm as a boy. Although he grew up with little or no formal education, he was exposed to religious ideas by his father's friend Vishnu Haribhau Gore, a pious Brahman. His father died when the young man was eighteen years old, leaving behind a wife and six children. Maruti and his older brother left the farm to look for work in Mumbai. After working for a short time as a clerk, he opened a shop selling children's clothes, tobacco, and leaf-rolled beedies. The shop was modestly successful and Maruti married in 1924. A son and three daughters soon followed.

When Maruti was 34, a friend of his introduced him to who would become his guru, Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj. The guru gave a mantra and spiritual guidance to his disciple and died soon after.

Sri Nisargadatta recalls:
"My guru ordered me to attend to the sense 'I am' and to give attention to nothing else. I just obeyed. I did not follow any particular course of breathing, or meditation, or study of scriptures. Whatever happened, I would turn away my attention from it and remain with the sense 'I am'. It may look simple, even crude. My only reason for doing it was that my Guru told me so. Yet it worked!"

Within three years, Maruti realised himself and took the new name Nisargadatta. He became a saddhu and walked barefoot to the Himalayas. Later he returned to Mumbai where he lived for the rest of his life, working as a cigarette vendor and giving spiritual instruction in his home.

The success of I am That, first published in English in 1973, made him world famous and brought many devotees to his small home in Mumbai. At the time of his death in 1981 he was his guru's successor as the head of the Inchegari branch of the Navanath Sampradaya. He was 84 years old.

Grace of the Guru
It is the intensity of the faith you have in the guru's words that is most important; once that is there, the grace flows automatically. The faith in the guru is based on the consciousness within, faith in your Self. My association with my guru was scarcely for two and a half years. The words he gave me touched me very deeply. I abided in one thing only: that the words of my guru are the truth, and he said "You are the Absolute, You are the Parabrahman". After that there were no more doubts and no more questions. Once my guru conveyed to me what he had to say I never bothered about other things - I hung on to the words of the guru. I know exactly how transient this present state of affairs is, and I also know the eternal state. I have no use for this ephemeral state. I understand the false as false. Since I have found my true permanent state I have no need for any of this; it has come on its own and it will go on its own. In that fullness there is no need of any kind. I've had that state of fullness after I met my guru; if I hadn't met him I would have lived and died as an ordinary man. The deep, dark blue state, the shade that you can take rest in, that is the grace of the guru. The darkness that you see when you close your eyes, that is the shadow of the guru's grace. Always keep it in mind; take rest in that shade of guru's grace.

Through the concepts of others you have built up so many things around you that you are lost. You are decorated and embellished by the concepts of others. The purpose of the guru is to tell you what you were like prior to the building up of all those concepts. Your present spiritual storehouse is filled up with the words of others - demolish those concepts. You must find out for yourself your own truth. Guru means the eternal state which will never change . . . what you truly are. You are that immutable, eternal, unchangeable Absolute. Guru tells you to get rid of all the walls built around you by the hearsay and concepts of others, which have kept you from your true nature.

Understand that the consciousness has arisen spontaneously in you, the Absolute. Once you are conscious of yourself you know you exist and you love this beingness; you do not want this beingness to depart from you, and it is this that makes you strive all day until sleep overcomes you, in order to keep the beingness satisfied. Then the guru tells you the true state of affairs, that this consciousness which you love so much is only an illusion. It is the basic cause of all unhappiness and your true state is before this consciousness arose. Understand this thoroughly, intuitively, beyond all words and concepts, but also know that if this understanding is just something happening in the intellect it will be of no use to you, because it will be at the level of phenomenal consciousness . . . concepts . . . and that consciousness is nothing but illusion. Whatever you know is imperfect, fraudulent. Go where you do not know. Recede into the source, into no form, no beingness; there you are perfect. Whatever you witness will not remain with you; it is imperfect. The one who recognizes the imperfect as imperfect is perfect; that one is complete in himself.

Have firm faith in the words of the guru. Nothing, nobody existed prior to you. When your beingness appeared then everything appeared. Understand that first moment when you understood that you are, the point at which everything arose. The source and the end are the same point. In the spiritual hierarchy going from the grossest to the subtlest, you are the subtlest. The very base is you, full and complete, without need for knowledge of who you are. Suddenly the space-like, all-pervading 'I amness' appears. Spontaneously, uncalled for, the beingness has come and is being witnessed by you, the Absolute. Later, this space-like 'I amness' disappears and the beingness goes back into oblivion. You remain in the eternal state, your true unchanging state. Prior to your beingness, nothing was... but you, the Absolute. After the beingness comes, still all there is is you, the Absolute. Without the beingness you, the Absolute, don't know you are. You are without any stigma, not covered by anything. You are the Paramatman, the core Self, the highest Self, the Absolute, subtler than space, beyond consciousness, beyond the 'I amness'.

In meditation, let your beingness merge in your Self, the non-dual state. Remain still. Do not struggle to come out of the mud of your concepts, you will only go deeper. Simply abide in the stillness. The Self has no occasion to say it exists; it is in eternity. When there is no body-mind there can be no practice; only the stillness of the Self remains

The Pseudo-Entity - The Individual
Now, you still think that you are one individual and that the guru is another individual, but it is not so. There can be no individuals separate from one another, no knowledge separable as worldly knowledge and spiritual knowledge. There is no guru and no disciple, there is no God and no devotee, there are no opposites, there is no second, always there is only one. Guru is you, guru is the One, he is the knower of consciousness, he is the witness of that illusion which is only temporary.

All your worldly and unworldly activities are based on the individual identification. You, as an individual, want to have liberation. You remain as an individual, that is the difficulty. You want the knowledge of the Self without giving up identification with the body; but the two are contradictory. You consider your presence as a phenomenon related to the body. You come here as individuals expecting something from me, but there is no individual so how can I do something for non-existing individuals? Your true nature is in no way different from mine. Your true nature is not circumscribed by time and space. You are prior to all these things. You might be a very great person but when you go to sleep you forget yourself as a separate entity. Give up this limited identification as an individual and everything becomes very simple.

When is there an ego? The ego is there when you have a reaction, when you register and take delivery of whatever is being observed spontaneously. Only when you cling to the observation, then there is an ego. For example, you see some building material lying on the road. You think you know something about how to use that material and you start figuring out various possibilities . . . that way the thought process develops and ego starts. If you are nobody, you will not bother about the building material . . . you will just observe it and go on your way. Once it is out of sight it is out of mind. But, if instead, you receive delivery and cogitate over it, then ego will start.

Don't say that you are an individual, just stay in the beingness; that is true bliss. You fill the world with selfishness due to your association with the body; but that selfishness vanishes once you understand the underlying principles and dissolve the personality. With the rising of the 'I am' the whole manifestation took place. In any activity that which witnesses the play is the 'I am'; that which concocts the play is maya, illusion. The 'I amness', the universal consciousness gives sentience to all beings whereas the life force, the vital breath performs all the actions through the gunas - tamas, rajas and satva, the three qualities associated with maya. That pure knowledge, 'I am', is the God of this universe, but it is not the Real; the Real I cannot tell you because words negate that. Whatever I am telling you is not the Truth. The Truth is beyond expression. You can never have knowledge about your Self because Parabrahman cannot be witnessed. You know what you are not... what you truly are you cannot know.

Now you are taking all this down, going over it, still thinking of yourself as individuals amassing knowledge, but this amassing of knowledge is not going to help you, because it is all in a dream. Don't be under the misapprehension that you are doing anything useful. It is impossible for a phenomenal object to achieve something. The seeker must disappear in the seeking, and once he does there is no question of doing. If at all you want to do something, do that which you cannot do at all... that is the state of no-being.

It is a very complicated riddle. You have to discard whatever you know, whatever you have read, and have a firm conviction about That about which nobody knows anything. You can't get any information about That, and yet about That you must have a firm conviction. Many people may reach that stage which is, but it is very, very rare that one reaches that stage which is not. It transcends all knowledge. His position is secure and stable and eternal. That which you don't know that is the right state. But this no-knowingness is not available right off.

Most essential, to begin with, is that knowledge 'I am'. Claim it. Appropriate it as your own. If that is not there nothing is. Knowledge of all the stages will be obtained only with the aid of that knowledge 'I am'. From the Absolute, no-knowing state spontaneously this consciousness 'I am' has appeared . . . there is no reason, no cause. This 'I amness' contains the entire cosmos. Spontaneously it comes, and along with it come the waking and the deep sleep states, the five elements, the three qualities, everything. Then this 'I amness' embraces the body made up of the elements as its self, and identifies itself with it. This 'I amness' has its own love to be. It wants to remain, to perpetuate itself, but it is not eternal. It is just a passing show, an illusion that comes and goes on the Real.

When this play comes, it happens spontaneously. The sum total of all this is illusion and nobody is responsible for creation it has come spontaneously and there is no question of improvement in that it will go on its own way. When you are ignorant, you think that you are playing a part in this manifest world. In the realm of beingness the fragmentation begins; it is limited, conditioned, because in this beingness we all try to claim the actions as ours. But there is no one working deliberately; you cannot claim anything in the process. Just realize that all phenomena, all concepts take place in the play of consciousness. There is no question of an independent entity; everything is an appearance in consciousness only. Just as in a piece of cloth the main element is the thread, so in any appearance the essence is consciousness. This must be deeply understood. Whatever natural experiences you encounter, just accept them. Don't try to alter them, just accept them as they come. But this understanding will not happen as long as there is identification with the body. As long as that identification is there you will think of benefiting this pseudo-personality. The whole universe is alive as long as you have this consciousness; once gone from you nothing is there. While it is there, fix your identity firmly on this beingness; but do not reserve exclusive identity for this physical bundle. Whatever identity you have is the play of the five elements; it is universal. Do not give that beingness limbs, shape or form, for once you have given it form you have limited it. Understand this energy which is behind the entire manifestation of the universe.

Nisargadatta, I am only the Self

The "I Amness"
Where has the experience of being alive come from which started all this trouble? The 'I' consciousness appeared spontaneously and the experiences started. When you got yourself separated from the Absolute with this identity, 'I am', your demands started. In the Absolute there are no needs of any kind, not even the need to know Itself. Brahman is the total truth; there is nothing else but Brahman. In That, the touch of beingness, 'I am', started, and then the separation and the sense of otherness appeared. Coming down into this world from the Absolute is like the appearance of a dream. Along with that appearance comes the primary ignorance, the false notion that you are the body. That is illusion, maya. Maya is very powerful; she will get you completely wrapped up. She will make you do all her tricks, and that light of yours, the beingness gets extinguished. But, although she might be your greatest enemy, if you propitiate her properly, she will turn around and lead you to the highest state.

First, know that you are the manifest consciousness, the 'I am'. Then go to the source and find out where this 'I am' came from. When you have knowledge you see the 'I am' as all-pervasive, so long as that consciousness is there. But then, this knowledge merges into no-knowledge, the Parabrahman, the witness of the consciousness. That has no 'I am'; that is you true eternal nature. It is on this true, whole, homogeneous state that a small ripple appeared. Then the news came, "I am". That news made all the difference, for then all this started. You must know your true state, and know that this ripple comes and goes on your true state. Beingness witnesses all this manifestation, but the eternal principle, the Absolute, witnesses the beingness. The universal Absolute understands the play of the attributes, the projection of the mind, but the play cannot understand the Absolute.

Prior to taking this form you were formless; then spontaneously the form came. But, once the form came there arose a natural longing to return to the formless, the desireless state. Consciousness has to know consciousness. When it realizes itself, then you wake up and return to normal. In this waking up you have only the sense of being, without words; this is the primary principle . . . the prerequisite. A little later on, you know fully that you are and, therefore, the world is, but you also know that to be an illusion like the horns of a hare; the world is only a dream. This consciousness of being 'I am', has created and sustained all the wonders in the world for which men take credit. It has tremendous powers. This beingness is itself Lord Krishna. It is whatever name you give to the Divinity. Be devoted to this beingness. Always remember this 'I am' principle, and without the command or direction of this principle, do nothing. In the initial stages your devotion is of the surrendering type. In the final stages you become the entire universe. Take it that this 'I amness' of yours is the unadulterated form of Godhood. The pure divine state is your beingness. Have full faith in It, give It its full importance, pray to It, and it will flower in you as the direct experience of Godliness. Think: "The entire manifest beingness is myself and each being is a sample of myself. The knowledge 'I am' in each species is myself. The life force, luminous, bright, radiant, indwelling principle is myself."

The Mind
Now, you are trying to understand all this but you cannot, because you have on the swaddling clothes of 'I am this or that'. Remove them. The ultimate point of view is that there is nothing to understand. So, trying to understand is just indulging in mental acrobatics. Whatever you have understood you are not. Spit it all out. Whatever you understand is not the truth. Throw it overboard. Do not try to catch hold of any concepts and cling to them. Don't employ any words, but look at yourself as you are. Throw away every thought, every experience, everything that happens after the consciousness, the beingness comes. Other than throwing it away as useless, there is nothing to be done beyond this firm understanding in which you become more and more absorbed. Before the beingness was there, look at that, be in that state. Do not get lost in words and thoughts and ideas. Do not crave for mind knowledge and concepts in the name of spirituality. Anything that is seen and interpreted by the mind is only an appearance in consciousness, and, therefore, cannot be true. The knowledgeable one just witnesses whatever experiences are obtainable through the mind, viewing them as without substance. The mind may be sprouting, expressing itself with various concepts. But, don't identify with that, let it go. Don't be a customer to your mind concepts. The knower of the mind is just a witness. He does not interfere in anything.

All this world play is in the realm of the mind. In your worldly work you can use the mind but don't get lost in the mind. Just observe the mind, be a witness to the mind-flow. Once you understand that you are not the mind then in what way are you concerned about all this? This is a temporary phase, it is imperfect, inadequate. Your true nature is that which was there before the body and mind, and before the consciousness which has identified itself with this bundle, came into being. Give up your fondness for this dwelling place in the world, your body, and your fondness for this beingness state, your false concept of existing as an entity. In the world of beingness every worm, bird, being is taken care of; every species knows the art of living. But, why should that concern you? Lose your fascination for this ephemeral life, this burden; there is no truth at all in this fraud. Get stabilized in the eternal. Go to the state which is beyond all this, prior to all this, which is not affected by all this. Only when you have the firm conviction that you are the highest will you be able to stabilize in the Ultimate.

When you move from the deep sleep to the waking state, the 'I am' with no words first appears. Later the words start flowing and you get involved with the words and carry out your worldly life with the meaning of those words - that is mind. But before this 'I am' and the word-flow of the waking state, that borderline . . . there is where you have to be, without words, without concepts. When words emanate from the consciousness, don't embrace those words, don't champion the meaning of those words. You have a mountain of concepts and words. To get rid of these you use other concepts. But, when you throw out all concepts, including your primary concept, then whatever is, is. Stay put in that quietude. To abide in that place, in that original state between deep sleep and waking before the 'I amness' comes, you must have an intensely peaceful state.

The Reality is You
What brings you here to me is that you want to 'reach reality'. Who is this 'I' that wants to reach reality? Is it this body complex, this psychosomatic apparatus? And are you sure that reality will accept you? And how will you reach it, is it by taking a high jump or perhaps by a rocket or through a mental leap? And where exactly out there is this reality, and what will it do for you, that you are so anxious to reach it? Don't you realize how funny all this is? The truth is that this entity which you think you are, based on this body complex and consciousness is totally false. When you see the false as false, then what remains is true. That which was prior to this body and consciousness, that which is ever-present . . . that is your true identity . . . that is reality. It is here and now. It is what you really are . . . the relative absence, the absolute presence. Where is the question of reaching it? You are the reality. Be it.

The desire for freedom, which arises in the heart of the seeker in the initial stages gradually disappears when he realizes that he himself is what he has been seeking. But if this desire continues to persist then it implies two blocks. It assumes the presence and continuance of an entity wanting 'freedom', whereas for a phenomenal object there can be no question of freedom because it has no independent existence, and so can never be separated from the total functioning of the manifestation. And it also assumes that reality can somehow be captured at the mind level, trying to capture the unknown and unknowable within the parameters of the known. But that is impossible.

When the impersonal consciousness personalized itself by identification with the sentient object, thinking of it as 'I', the effect was to transform the 'I', which was essentially the subject, into an object. It is this objectivation of pure subjectivity, this false identifying of the unlimited with the limited, which can be called bondage. It is from this entity-fication that freedom is sought. Liberation, therefore, can be nothing other than the immediate understanding that self-identification is false. The situation can be likened to a five year old girl who has been decked out in fine clothes and lovely ornaments. The same child three years earlier would have either ignored the fine clothes or would have accepted them as a nuisance forced on her by the doting parents. But now, after the conditioning that she has received, the child cannot wait until she can go out and gloat over the envy of her little friends who don't possess such fineries. What has happened between infancy and childhood is exactly that which is the obstacle to your seeing your true nature. The infant, unlike the child, still retains its subjective personality and identity. Before the conditioning, it refers to itself by its name, not as 'me', functions naturally as part of the total functioning without seeing itself as a separate personal entity, an object posing as a subject? Personal entity and enlightenment cannot go together; indeed there is neither entity nor enlightenment . . . understanding this deeply is itself enlightenment. Freedom is the unshakeable knowledge of your real nature; it is the total negation of entityness.

Once it is understood that an entity is merely a conceptual notion, then what follows is a reintegration into universality. Then you just watch life 'being lived', realizing that relatively speaking, you as manifestation are but a puppet being manipulated in a dream world. When you apperceive this intuitively, spontaneously, thoughtlessly, then this itself will be the awakening from this Maya-dream. Having understood that there can never be any individual entity with independent choice of action, then how could 'you' entertain any intentions? And in the absence of intentions how could there be any involvement with Karma? Then, you become perfectly aligned with whatever happens, accepting events without any feeling either of achievement or frustration. Such living would then be non-volitional living, an absence of doing and deliberate non-doing, going through your allotted span of life wanting nothing and avoiding nothing, free of conceptualizing and objectivation. Then, when this phenomenal life disappears in due course it leaves you in absolute presence.