Legacy YM

Chapter 22 - To Know What you Are, Find What you Are Not


Questioner: Your way of describing the universe as consisting of matter, mind and spirit is one of the many. There are other patterns to which the universe is expected to conform, and one is at a loss to know which pattern is true and which is not. One ends in suspecting that all patterns are only verbal and that no pattern can contain reality. According to you, reality consists of three expanses: The expanse of matter-energy (mahadakash), the expanse of consciousness (chidakash) and of pure spirit (paramakash). The first is something that has both movement and inertia. That we perceive. We also know that we perceive -- we are conscious and also aware of being conscious. Thus, we have two: matter-energy and consciousness. Matter seems to be in space while energy is always in time, being connected with change and measured by the rate of change. Consciousness seems to be somehow here and now, in a single point of time and space. But you seem to suggest that consciousness too is universal -- which makes it timeless, spaceless and impersonal. I can somehow understand that there is no contradiction between the timeless and spaceless and the here and now, but impersonal consciousness I cannot fathom. To me consciousness is always focalised, centred, individualised, a person. You seem to say that there can be perceiving without a perceiver, knowing without a knower, loving without a lover, acting without an actor. I feel that the trinity of knowing, knower and known can be seen in every movement of life. Consciousness implies a conscious being, an object of consciousness and the fact of being conscious. That which is conscious I call a person. A person lives in the world, is a part of it, affects it and is affected by it.

Maharaj: Why don't you enquire how real are the world and the person?

Q: Oh, no! I need not enquire. Enough if the person is not less real than the world in which the person exists.

M:Then what is the question?


Q: Are persons real, and universals conceptual, or are universals real and persons imaginary?

M:Neither are real.

Q: Surely, I am real enough to merit your reply and I am a person.

M:Not when asleep.

Q: Submergence is not absence. Even though asleep, I am.

M:To be a person you must be self-conscious. Are you so always?

Q: Not when I sleep, of course, nor when I am in a swoon, or drugged.

M:During your waking hours are you continually self-conscious?

Q: No, Sometimes I am absent-minded, or just absorbed.

M:Are you a person during the gaps in self-consciousness?

Q: Of course I am the same person throughout. I remember myself as I was yesterday and yester year -- definitely, I am the same person.

M:So, to be a person, you need memory?

Q: Of course.

M:And without memory, what are you?

Q: Incomplete memory entails incomplete personality. Without memory I cannot exist as a person.

M:Surely you can exist without memory. You do so -- in sleep.

Q: Only in the sense of remaining alive. Not as a person.

M:Since you admit that as a person you have only intermittent existence, can you tell me what are you in the intervals in between experiencing yourself as a person?

Q: I am, but not as a person. Since I am not conscious of myself in the intervals, I can only say that I exist, but not as a person.

M:Shall we call it impersonal existence?


Q: I would call it rather unconscious existence; I am, but I do not know that I am.

M:You have said just now: 'I am, but I do not know that I am'. Could you possibly say it about your being in an unconscious state?

Q: No, I could not.

M:You can only describe it in the past tense: 'I did not know. I was unconscious', in the sense of not remembering.

Q: Having been unconscious, how could I remember and what?

M:Were you really unconscious, or you just do not remember?

Q: How am I to make out?

M:Consider. Do you remember every second of yesterday?

Q: Of course, not.

M:Were you then unconscious?

Q: Of course, not.

M:So, you are conscious and yet you do not remember?

Q: Yes.

M:Maybe you were conscious in sleep and just do not remember.

Q: No, I was not conscious. I was asleep. I did not behave like a conscious person.

M:Again, how do you know?

Q: I was told so by those who saw me asleep.

M:All they can testify to is that they saw you lying quietly with closed eyes and breathing regularly. They could not make out whether you were conscious or not. Your only proof is your own memory. A very uncertain proof it is!

Q: Yes, I admit that on my own terms I am a person only during my waking hours. What I am in between, I do not know.

M:At least you know that you do not know! Since you pretend not to be conscious in the intervals between the waking hours, leave the intervals alone. Let us consider the waking hours only.


Q: I am the same person in my dreams.

M:Agreed. Let us consider them together waking and dreaming. The difference is merely in continuity. Were your dreams consistently continuous, bringing back night after night the same surroundings and the same people, you would be at a loss to know which is the waking and which is the dream. Henceforward, when we talk of the waking state, we shall include the dream state too.

Q: Agreed. I am a person in a conscious relation with a world.

M:Are the world and the conscious relation with it essential to your being a person?

Q: Even immersed in a cave, I remain a person.

M:It implies a body and a cave. And a world in which they can exist.

Q: Yes. I can see. The world and the consciousness of the world are essential to my existence as a person.

M:This makes the person a part and parcel of the world, or vice versa. The two are one.

Q: Consciousness stands alone. The person and the world appear in consciousness.

M:You said: appear. Could you add: disappear?

Q: No, I cannot. I can only be aware of my and my world's appearance. As a person, I cannot say: 'the world is not'. Without a world I would not be there to say it. Because there is a world, I am there to say: 'there is a world'.

M:Maybe it is the other way round. Because of you, there is a world.

Q: To me such statement appears meaningless.

M:Its meaninglessness may disappear on investigation.

Q: Where do we begin?

M:All I know is that whatever depends, is not real. The real is truly independent. Since the existence of the person depends on the existence of the world and it is circumscribed and defined by the world, it cannot be real.

Q: It cannot be a dream, surely.

M:Even a dream has existence, when it is cognised and enjoyed, or endured. Whatever you think and feel has being. But it may not be what you take it to be. What you think to be a person may be something quite different.

Q: I am what I know myself to be.

M:You cannot possibly say that you are what you think yourself to be! Your ideas about yourself change from day to day and from moment to moment. Your self-image is the most changeful thing you have. It is utterly vulnerable, at the mercy of a passer by. A bereavement, the loss of a job, an insult, and your image of yourself, which you call your person, changes deeply. To know what you are you must first investigate and know what you are not. And to know what you are not you must watch yourself carefully, rejecting all that does not necessarily go with the basic fact: 'I am'. The ideas: I am born at a given place, at a given time, from my parents and now I am so-and-so, living at, married to, father of, employed by, and so on, are not inherent in the sense 'I am'. Our usual attitude is of 'I am this'. Separate consistently and perseveringly the 'I am' from 'this' or 'that', and try to feel what it means to be, just to be, without being 'this' or 'that'. All our habits go against it and the task of fighting them is long and hard sometimes, but clear understanding helps a lot. The clearer you understand that on the level of the mind you can be described in negative terms only, the quicker you will come to the end of your search and realise your limitless being.

Chapter1 - Foreword
Chapter2 - Who is Nisargadatta Maharaj?
Chapter3 - Translators Note
Chapter4 - Editors Note
Chapter5 - The Sense of ‘I am’
Chapter6 - Obsession with the body
Chapter7 - The Living Present
Chapter8 - Real World is Beyond the Mind
Chapter9 - What is Born must Die
Chapter10 - Meditation
Chapter11 - The Mind
Chapter12 - The Self Stands Beyond Mind
Chapter13 - Responses of Memory
Chapter14 - Witnessing
Chapter15 - Awareness and Consciousness
Chapter16 - The Person is not Reality
Chapter17 - The Supreme, the Mind and the Body
Chapter18 - Appearances and the Reality
Chapter19 - The Jnani
Chapter20 - Desirelessness, the Highest Bliss
Chapter21 - The Ever-Present
Chapter22 - To Know What you Are, Find What you Are Not
Chapter23 - Reality lies in Objectivity
Chapter24 - The Supreme is Beyond All
Chapter25 - Who am I?
Chapter26 - Life is Love and Love is Life
Chapter27 - Discrimination leads to Detachment
Chapter28 - God is the All-doer, the Jnani a Non-doer
Chapter29 - Hold on to ‘I am’
Chapter30 - Personality, an Obstacle
Chapter31 - The Beginningless Begins Forever
Chapter32 - All Suffering is Born of Desire
Chapter33 - Living is Life’s only Purpose
Chapter34 - You are Free NOW
Chapter35 - Do not Undervalue Attention
Chapter36 - Life is the Supreme Guru
Chapter37 - Everything Happens by Itself
Chapter38 - Mind is restlessness Itself
Chapter39 - Greatest Guru is Your Inner Self
Chapter40 - Killing Hurts the Killer, not the Killed
Chapter41 - Beyond Pain and Pleasure there is Bliss
Chapter42 - Spiritual Practice is Will Asserted and Re-asserted
Chapter43 - By Itself Nothing has Existence
Chapter44 - Only the Self is Real
Chapter45 - Develop the Witness Attitude
Chapter46 - Reality can not be Expressed
Chapter47 - Ignorance can be Recognised, not Jnana
Chapter48 - &39;I am&39; is True, all else is Inference
Chapter49 - What Comes and Goes has no Being
Chapter50 - Awareness of Being is Bliss
Chapter51 - Watch Your Mind
Chapter52 - Awareness is Free
Chapter53 - Mind Causes Insecurity
Chapter54 - Self-awareness is the Witness
Chapter55 - Be Indifferent to Pain and Pleasure
Chapter56 - Being Happy, Making Happy is the Rhythm of Life
Chapter57 - Desires Fulfilled, Breed More Desires
Chapter58 - Body and Mind are Symptoms of Ignorance
Chapter59 - Give up All and You Gain All
Chapter60 - Consciousness Arising, World Arises
Chapter61 - Beyond Mind there is no Suffering
Chapter62 - Perfection, Destiny of All
Chapter63 - Desire and Fear: Self-centred States
Chapter64 - Live Facts, not Fancies
Chapter65 - Matter is Consciousness Itself
Chapter66 - In the Supreme the Witness Appears
Chapter67 - Notion of Doership is Bondage
Chapter68 - Whatever pleases you, Keeps you Back
Chapter69 - A Quiet Mind is All You Need
Chapter70 - All Search for Happiness is Misery
Chapter71 - Experience is not the Real Thing
Chapter72 - Seek the Source of Consciousness
Chapter73 - Transiency is Proof of Unreality
Chapter74 - God is the End of All Desire and Knowledge
Chapter75 - In Self-awareness you Learn about Yourself
Chapter76 - What is Pure, Unalloyed, Unattached is Real
Chapter77 - Death of the Mind is Birth of Wisdom
Chapter78 - Truth is Here and Now
Chapter79 - In Peace and Silence you Grow
Chapter80 - To Know that You do not Know, is True Knowledge
Chapter81 - &39;I&39; and &39;Mine&39; are False Ideas
Chapter82 - All Knowledge is Ignorance
Chapter83 - Person, Witness and the Supreme
Chapter84 - Awareness
Chapter85 - Root Cause of Fear
Chapter86 - Absolute Perfection is Here and Now
Chapter87 - The True Guru
Chapter88 - Your Goal is Your Guru
Chapter89 - ‘I am’: The Foundation of all Experience
Chapter90 - The Unknown is the Home of the Real
Chapter91 - Keep the Mind Silent and You shall Discover
Chapter92 - Knowledge by the Mind, is not True Knowledge
Chapter93 - Progress in Spiritual Life
Chapter94 - Surrender to Your Own Self
Chapter95 - Pleasure and Happiness
Chapter96 - Go Beyond the l-am-the-body Idea
Chapter97 - Man is not the Doer
Chapter98 - You are Beyond Space and Time
Chapter99 - Accept Life as it Comes
Chapter100 - Abandon Memories and Expectations
Chapter101 - Mind and the World are not Separate
Chapter102 - Freedom from Self-identification
Chapter103 - The Perceived can not be the Perceiver
Chapter104 - Understanding leads to Freedom
Chapter105 - Jnani does not Grasp, nor Hold
Chapter106 - Appendix-1: Nisarga Yoga
Chapter107 - Appendix-2: Navnath Sampradaya

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