Chapter 29 - Hold on to ‘I am’
Questioner: Are you ever glad or sad? Do you know joy and sorrow?
Maharaj: Call them as you please. To me they are states of mind only, and I am not the mind.
Q: Is love a state of mind?
M:Again, it depends what you mean by love. Desire is, of course, a state of mind. But the realisation of unity is beyond mind. To me, nothing exists by itself. All is the Self, all is myself. To see myself in everybody and everybody in myself most certainly is love.
Q: When I see something pleasant, I want it. Who exactly wants it? The self or the mind?
M:The question is wrongly put. There is no 'who'. There is desire, fear, anger, and the mind says -- this is me, this is mine. There is no thing which could be called 'me' or 'mine'. Desire is a state of the mind, perceived and named by the mind. Without the mind perceiving and naming, where is desire?
Q: But is there such a thing as perceiving without naming?
M:Of course. Naming cannot go beyond the mind, while perceiving is consciousness itself.
Q: When somebody dies what exactly happens?
M:Nothing happens. Something becomes nothing. Nothing was, nothing remains.
Q: Surely there is a difference between the living and the dead. You speak of the living as dead and of the dead as living.
M:Why do you fret at one man dying and care little for the millions dying every day? Entire universes are imploding and exploding every moment -- am I to cry over them? One thing is quite clear to me: all that is, lives and moves and has its being in consciousness and I am in and beyond that consciousness. I am in it as the witness. I am beyond it as Being.
Q: Surely, you care when your child is ill, don't you?
M:I don't get flustered. I just do the needful. I do not worry about the future. A right response to every situation is in my nature. I do not stop to think what to do. I act and move on. Results do not affect me. I do not even care, whether they are good or bad. Whatever they are, they are -- if they come back to me, I deal with them afresh. Or, rather, I happen to deal with them afresh. There is no sense of purpose in my doing anything. Things happens as they happen -- not because I make them happen, but it is because I am that they happen. In reality nothing ever happens. When the mind is restless, it makes Shiva dance, like the restless waters of the lake make the moon dance. It is all appearance, due to wrong ideas.
Q: Surely, you are aware of many things and behave according to their nature. You treat a child as a child and an adult as an adult.
M:Just as the taste of salt pervades the great ocean and every single drop of sea-water carries the same flavour, so every experience gives me the touch of reality, the ever fresh realisation of my own being.
Q: Do I exist in your world, as you exist in mine?
M:Of course, you are and I am. But only as points in consciousness; we are nothing apart from consciousness. This must be well grasped: the world hangs on the thread of consciousness; no consciousness, no world.
Q: There are many points in consciousness; are there as many worlds?
M:Take dream for an example. In a hospital there may be many patients, all sleeping, all dreaming, each dreaming his own private, personal dreams unrelated, unaffected, having one single factor in common -- illness. Similarly, we have divorced ourselves in our imagination from the real world of common experience and enclosed ourselves in a cloud of personal desire and fears, images and thoughts, ideas and concepts.
Q: This I can understand. But what could be the cause of the tremendous variety of the personal worlds?
M:The variety is not so great. All the dreams are superimposed over a common world. To some extent they shape and influence each other. The basic unity operates in spite of all. At the root of it all lies self-forgetfulness; not knowing who I am.
Q: To forget, one must know. Did I know who I am, before I forgot it?
M:Of course. Self-forgetting is inherent in self-knowing. Consciousness and unconsciousness are two aspects of one life. They co-exist. To know the world you forget the self -- to know the self you forget the world. What is world after all? A collection of memories. Cling to one thing, that matters, hold on to 'I am' and let go all else. This is sadhana. In realisation there is nothing to hold on to and nothing to forget. Everything is known, nothing is remembered.
Q: What is the cause of self-forgetting?
M:There is no cause, because there is no forgetting. Mental states succeed one another, and each obliterates the previous one. Self-remembering is a mental state and self-forgetting is another. They alternate like day and night. Reality is beyond both.
Q: Surely there must be a difference between forgetting and not knowing. Not knowing needs no cause. Forgetting presupposes previous knowledge and also the tendency or ability to forget. I admit I cannot enquire into the reason for not-knowing, but forgetting must have some ground.
M:There is no such thing as not-knowing. There is only forgetting. What is wrong with forgetting? It is as simple to forget as to remember.
Q: Is it not a calamity to forget oneself?
M:As bad as to remember oneself continuously. There is a state beyond forgetting and not- forgetting -- the natural state. To remember, to forget -- these are all states of mind, thought-bound, word-bound. Take for example, the idea of being born. I am told I was born. I do not remember. I am told I shall die I do not expect it. You tell me I have forgotten, or I lack imagination. But I just cannot remember what never happened, nor expect the patently impossible. Bodies are born and bodies die, but what is it to me? Bodies come and go in consciousness and consciousness itself has its roots in me. I am life and mine are mind and body.
Q: You say at the root of the world is self-forgetfulness. To forget I must remember What did I forget to remember? I have not forgotten that I am.
M:This 'I am' too may be a part of the illusion.
Q. How can it be? You cannot prove to me that I am not. Even when convinced that I am not -- I am.
M:Reality can neither be proved nor disproved. Within the mind you cannot, beyond the mind you need not. In the real, the question 'what is real?' does not arise. The manifested (saguna) and unmanifested (nirguna) are not different.
Q: In that case all is real.
M:I am all. As myself all is real. Apart from me, nothing is real.
Q: I do not feel that the world is the result of a mistake.
M:You may say so only after a full investigation, not before. Of course, when you discern and let go all that is unreal, what remains is real.
Q: Does anything remain?
M:The real remains. But don't be mislead by words!
Q: Since immemorial time, during innumerable births, I build and improve and beautify my world. It is neither perfect, nor unreal. It is a process.
M:You are mistaken. The world has no existence apart from you. At every moment it is but a reflection of yourself. You create it, you destroy it.
Q: And build it again, improved.
M:To improve it, you must disprove it. One must die to live. There is no rebirth, except through death.
Q: Your universe may be perfect. My personal universe is improving.
M:Your personal universe does not exist by itself. It is merely a limited and distorted view of the real. It is not the universe that needs improving, but your way of looking.
Q: How do you view it?
M:It is a stage on which a world drama is being played. The quality of the performance is all that matters; not what the actors say and do, but how they say and do it.
Q: I do not like this lila (play) idea I would rather compare the world to a work-yard in which we are the builders.
M:You take it too seriously. What is wrong with play? You have a purpose only as long as you are not complete (purna); till then completeness, perfection, is the purpose. But when you are complete in yourself, fully integrated within and without, then you enjoy the universe; you do not labour at it. To the disintegrated you may seem working hard, but that is their illusion. Sportsmen seem to make tremendous efforts: yet their sole motive is to play and display.
Q: Do you mean to say that God is just having fun, that he is engaged in purposeless action?
M:God is not only true and good, he is also beautiful (satyam-shivam-sundaram). He creates beauty -- for the joy of It
Q: Well, then beauty is his purpose!
M:Why do you introduce purpose? Purpose implies movement, change, a sense of imperfection. God does not aim at beauty -- whatever he does is beautiful. Would you say that a flower is trying to be beautiful? It is beautiful by its very nature. Similarly God is perfection itself, not an effort at perfection.
Q: The purpose fulfils itself in beauty.
M:What is beautiful? Whatever is perceived blissfully is beautiful. Bliss is the essence of beauty.
Q: You speak of Sat-Chit-Ananda. That I am is obvious. That I know is obvious. That I am happy is not at all obvious. Where has my happiness gone?
M:Be fully aware of your own being and you will be in bliss consciously. Because you take your mind off yourself and make it dwell on what you are not, you lose your sense of well-being of being well.
Q: There are two paths before us -- the path of effort (yoga marga), and the path of ease (bhoga marga). Both lead to the same goal -- liberation.
M:Why do you call bhoga a path? How can ease bring you perfection?
Q: The perfect renouncer (yogi) will find reality. The perfect enjoyer (bhogi) also will come to it.
M:How can it be? Aren't they contradictory?
Q: The extremes meet. To be a perfect Bhogi is more difficult than to be a perfectYogi. I am a humble man and cannot venture judgements of value. Both the Yogi and the Bhogi, after all, are concerned with the search for happiness. The Yogi wants it permanent, the Bhogi is satisfied with the intermittent. Often the Bhogi strives harder than theYogi.
M:What is your happiness worth when you have to strive and labour for it? True happiness is spontaneous and effortless.
Q: All beings seek happiness. The means only differ. Some seek it within and are therefore called Yogis; some seek it without and are condemned as Bhogis. Yet they need each other.
M:Pleasure and pain alternate. Happiness is unshakable. What you can seek and find is not the real thing. Find what you have never lost, find the inalienable.
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