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Excerpts from I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - Part 6

read by James Traverse





I AM THAT
Dialogues of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

5. What is Born must Die

   Questioner:
Is the witness-consciousness permanent or not?

Nisargadatta:
It is not permanent. The knower rises and sets with the known. That in which both the
knower and the known arise and set, is beyond time. The words permanent or eternal do not apply.

Questioner:
In sleep there is neither the known, nor the knower. What keeps the body sensitive and
receptive?

Nisargadatta:
Surely you cannot say the knower was absent. The experience of things and thoughts was not
there, that is all. But the absence of experience too is experience. It is like entering a dark room and
saying: 'I see nothing'. A man blind from birth knows not what darkness means. Similarly, only the
knower knows that he does not know. Sleep is merely a lapse in memory. Life goes on.

Questioner:
And what is death?

Nisargadatta:
It is the change in the living process of a particular body. Integration ends and disintegration
sets in.

Questioner:
But what about the knower. With the disappearance of the body, does the knower disappear?

Nisargadatta:
Just as the knower of the body appears at birth, so he disappears at death.

Questioner:
And nothing remains?

Nisargadatta:
Life remains. Consciousness needs a vehicle and an instrument for its manifestation. When life
produces another body, another knower comes into being,

Questioner:
Is there a causal link between the successive body-knowers, or body-minds?

Nisargadatta:
Yes, there is something that may be called the memory body, or causal body, a record of all that
was thought, wanted and done. It is like a cloud of images held together.

Questioner
What is this sense of a separate existence?

Nisargadatta:
It is a reflection in a separate body of the one reality. In this reflection the unlimited and the
limited are confused and taken to be the same. To undo this confusion is the purpose of Yoga.

Questioner
Does not death undo this confusion?

Nisargadatta:
In death only the body dies. Life does not, consciousness does not, reality does not. And the life
is never so alive as after death.

Questioner
But does one get reborn?

Nisargadatta:
What was born must die. Only the unborn is deathless. Find what is it that never sleeps and
never wakes, and whose pale reflection is our sense of 'I'.

Questioner
How am I to go about this finding out?

Nisargadatta:
How do you go about finding anything? By keeping your mind and heart in it. Interest there must
be and steady remembrance. To remember what needs to be remembered is the secret of success.
You come to it through earnestness.

Questioner:
Do you mean to say that mere wanting to find out is enough? Surely, both qualifications and
opportunities are needed.

Nisargadatta:
These will come with earnestness. What is supremely important is to be free from contradictions:
the goal and the way must not be on different levels; life and light must not quarrel; behaviour
must not betray belief. Call it honesty, integrity, wholeness; you must not go back, undo, uproot,
abandon the conquered ground. Tenacity of purpose and honesty in pursuit will bring you to
your goal.

Questioner:
Tenacity and honesty are endowments, surely! Not a trace of them I have.

Nisargadatta:
All will come as you go on. Take the first step first. All blessings come from within. Turn within. 'l
am' you know. Be with it all the time you can spare, until you revert to it spontaneously. There is no
simpler and easier way.

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