Chapter 89 - ‘I am’: The Foundation of all Experience
Questioner: I hear you making statements about yourself like: ‘I am timeless, immutable beyond attributes’, etc. How do you know these things? And what makes you say them?
Maharaj: I am only trying to describe the state before the ‘I am’ arose, but the state itself, being beyond the mind and language, is indescribable.
Q: The ‘I am’ is the foundation of all experience. What you are trying to describe must also be an experience, limited and transitory. You speak of yourself as immutable. I hear the sound of the word, I remember its dictionary meaning, but the experience of being immutable I do not have. How can I break through the barrier and know personally, intimately, what it means to be immutable?
M:The word itself is the bridge. Remember it, think of it, explore it, go round it, look at it from all directions, dive into it with earnest perseverance: endure all delays and disappointments till suddenly the mind turns round, away from the word, towards the reality beyond the word. It is like trying to find a person knowing his name only. A day comes when your enquiries bring you to him and the name becomes reality. Words are valuable, for between the word and its meaning there is a link and if one investigates the word assiduously, one crosses beyond the concept into the experience at the root of it. As a matter of fact, such repeated attempts to go beyond the words is called meditation. Sadhana is but a persistent attempt to cross over from the verbal to the non- verbal. The task seems hopeless until suddenly all becomes clear and simple and so wonderfully easy. But, as long as you are interested in your present way of living, you will shirk from the final leap into the unknown.
Q: Why should the unknown interest me? Of what use is the unknown?
Q: Nothing more is needed, of course. But you are talking of the knowable.
M:Of the unknowable only silence talks. The mind can talk only of what it knows. If you diligently investigate the knowable, it dissolves and only the unknowable remains. But with the first flicker of imagination and interest the unknowable is obscured and the known comes to the fore-front. The known, the changeable, is what you live with -- the unchangeable is of no use to you. It is only when you are satiated with the changeable and long for the unchangeable, that you are ready for the turning round and stepping into what can be described, when seen from the level of the mind, as emptiness and darkness. For the mind craves for content and variety, while reality is, to the mind, contentless and invariable.
Q: It looks like death to me.
M:It is. It is also all-pervading, all-conquering, intense beyond words. No ordinary brain can stand it without being shattered; hence the absolute need for sadhana. Purity of body and clarity of mind, non-violence and selflessness in life are essential for survival as an intelligent and spiritual entity.
Q: Are there entities in reality?
M:Identity is Reality, Reality is identity. Reality is not shapeless mass, a wordless chaos. It is powerful, aware, blissful; compared to it your life is like a candle to the sun.
Q: By the grace of God and your teacher’s you lost all desire and fear and reached the immovable state. My question is simple -- how do you know that your state is immovable?
M:Only the changeable can be thought of and talked about. The unchangeable can only be realised in silence. Once realised, it will deeply affect the changeable, itself remaining unaffected.
Q: How do you know that you are the witness?
M:I do not know, I am. I am, because to be everything must be witnessed.
Q: Existence can also be accepted on hearsay.
M:Still, finally you come to the need of a direct witness. Witnessing, if not personal and actual, must at least be possible and feasible. Direct experience is the final proof.
Q: Experience may be faulty and misleading.
M:Quite, but not the fact of an experience. Whatever may be the experience, true or false, the fact of an experience taking place cannot be denied. It is its own proof. Watch yourself closely and you will see that whatever be the content of consciousness, the witnessing of it does not depend on the content. Awareness is itself and does not change with the event. The event may be pleasant or unpleasant, minor or important, awareness is the same. Take note of the peculiar nature of pure awareness, its natural self-identity, without the least trace of self-consciousness, and go to the root of it and you will soon realise that awareness is your true nature and nothing you may be aware of, you can call your own.
Q: Is not consciousness and its content one and the same?
M:Consciousness is like a cloud in the sky and the water drops are the content. The cloud needs the sun to become visible, and consciousness needs being focussed in awareness.
Q: Is not awareness a form of consciousness?
M:When the content is viewed without likes and dislikes, the consciousness of it is awareness. But still there is a difference between awareness as reflected in consciousness and pure awareness beyond consciousness. Reflected awareness, the sense ‘I am aware’ is the witness, while pure awareness is the essence of reality. Reflection of the sun in a drop of water is the reflection of the sun, no doubt, but not the sun itself. Between awareness reflected in consciousness as the witness and pure awareness there is a gap, which the mind cannot cross.
Q: Does it not depend on the way you look at it? The mind says there is a difference. The heart says there is none.
M:Of course there is no difference. The real sees the real in the unreal. It is the mind that creates the unreal and it is the mind that sees the false as false.
Q: I understood that the experience of the real follows seeing the false as false.
M:There is no such thing as the experience of the real. The real is beyond experience. All experience is in the mind. You know the real by being real.
Q: If the real is beyond words and mind, why do we talk so much about it?
M:For the joy of it, of course. The real is bliss supreme. Even to talk of it is happiness.
Q: I hear you talking of the unshakable and blissful. What is in your mind when you use these words?
M:There is nothing in my mind. As you hear the words, so do I hear them. The power that makes everything happen makes them also happen.
Q: But you are speaking, not me.
M:That is how it appears to you. As I see it, two body-minds exchange symbolic noises. In reality nothing happens.
Q: Listen Sir. I am coming to you because I am in trouble. I am a poor soul lost in a world I do not understand. I am afraid of Mother Nature who wants me to grow, procreate and die. When I ask for the meaning and purpose of all this, she does not answer. I have come to you because I was told that you are kind and wise. You talk about the changeable as false and transient and this I can understand. But when you talk of the immutable, I feel lost. ‘Not this, not that, beyond knowledge, of no use’ -- why talk of it all? Does it exist, or is it a concept only, a verbal opposite to the changeable?
M:It is, it alone is. But in your present state it is of no use to you. Just like the glass of water near your bed if of no use to you, when you dream that you are dying of thirst in a desert. I am trying to wake you up, whatever your dream.
Q: Please don’t tell me that I am dreaming and that I will soon wake up. I wish it were so. But I am awake and in pain. You talk of a painless state, but you add that I cannot have it in my present condition. I feel lost.
M:Don’t feel lost. I only say that to find the immutable and blissful you must give up your hold on the mutable and painful. You are concerned with your own happiness and I am telling you that there is no such thing. Happiness is never your own, it is where the ‘I’ is not. I do not say it is beyond your reach; you have only to reach out beyond yourself, and you will find it.
Q: If I have to go beyond myself, why did I get the ‘I am’ idea in the first instance?
M:The mind needs a centre to draw a circle. The circle may grow bigger and with every increase there will be a change in the sense ‘I am’. A man who took himself in hand, aYogi, will draw a spiral, yet the centre will remain, however vast the spiral. A day comes when the entire enterprise is seen as false and given up. The central point is no more and the universe becomes the centre.
Q: Yes, maybe. But what am I to do now?
M:Assiduously watch your ever-changing life, probe deeply into the motives beyond your actions and you will soon prick the bubble in which you are enclosed. A chic needs the shell to grow, but a day comes when the shell must be broken. If it is not, there will be suffering and death.
Q: Do you mean to say that if I do not take toYoga, I am doomed to extinction?
M:There is the Guru who will come to your rescue. In the meantime be satisfied with watching the flow of your life; if your watchfulness is deep and steady, ever turned towards the source, it will gradually move upstream till suddenly it becomes the source. Put your awareness to work, not your mind. The mind is not the right instrument for this task. The timeless can be reached only by the timeless. Your body and your mind are both subject to time; Only awareness is timeless, even in the now. In awareness you are facing facts and reality is fond of facts.
Q: You rely entirely on my awareness to take me over and not on the Guru and God.
M:God gives the body and the mind and the Guru shows the way to use them. But returning to the source is your own task.
Q: God has created me, he will look after me.
M:There are innumerable gods, each in his own universe. They create and re-create eternally. Are you going to wait for them to save you? What you need for salvation is already within your reach. Use it. Investigate what you know to its very end and you will reach the unknown layers of your being. Go further and the unexpected will explode in you and shatter all.
Q: Does it mean death?
M:It means life -- at last.
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