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Excerpts from I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - Part 13

read by James Traverse

Dialogues of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

13. The Supreme, the Mind and the Body

From what you told us it appears that you are not quite conscious of your
surroundings. To us you seem extremely alert and active. We cannot possibly believe that you are
in a kind of hypnotic state, which leaves no memory behind. On the contrary, your memory seems
excellent. How are we to understand your statement that the world and all it includes does not exist,
as far as you are concerned.

It is all a matter of focus. Your mind is focussed in the world, mine is focussed in reality. It
is like the moon in daylight -- when the sun shines, the moon is hardly visible. Or, watch how you
take your food. As long as it is in your mouth, you are conscious of it; once swallowed, it does not
concern you any longer. It would be troublesome to have it constantly in mind until it is eliminated.
The mind should be normally in abeyance -- incessant activity is a morbid state. The universe works
by itself -- that I know. What else do I need to know?

So a jnani knows what he is doing only when he turns his mind to it; otherwise he just acts,
without being concerned.

The average man is not conscious of his body as such. He is conscious of his sensations,
feelings and thoughts. Even these, once detachment sets in, move away from the centre of
consciousness and happen spontaneously and effortlessly.

What then is in the centre of consciousness?

That which cannot be given name and form, for it is without quality and beyond consciousness.
You may say it is a point in consciousness, which is beyond consciousness. Like a hole in the paper
is both in the paper and yet not of paper, so is the supreme state in the very centre of
consciousness, and yet beyond consciousness. It is as if an opening in the mind through which the
mind is flooded with light. The opening is not even the light. It is just an opening.

An opening is just void, absence.

Quite so. From the mind's point of view, it is but an opening for the light of awareness to enter
the mental space. By itself the light can only be compared to a solid, dense, rocklike, homogeneous
and changeless mass of pure awareness, free from the mental patterns of name and shape.

Is there any connection between the mental space and the supreme abode?

The supreme gives existence to the mind. The mind gives existence to the body.

And what lies beyond?

Take an example. A venerable Yogi, a master in the art of longevity, himself over 1000 years
old, comes to teach me his art. I fully respect and sincerely admire his achievements, yet all I can
tell him is: of what use is longevity to me? I am beyond time. However long a life may be, it is but a
moment and a dream. In the same way I am beyond all attributes. They appear and disappear in
my light, but cannot describe me. The universe is all names and forms, based on qualities and their
differences, while I am beyond. The world is there because I am, but I am not the world.

But you are living in the world!

That's what you say! I know there is a world, which includes this body and this mind, but I do not
consider them to be more “mine” than other minds and bodies. They are there, in time and space,
but I am timeless and spaceless.

But since all exists by your light, are you not the creator of the world?

I am neither the potentiality nor the actualisation, nor the actuality of things. In my light they
come and go as the specks of dust dancing in the sunbeam. The light illumines the specks, but
does not depend on them. Nor can it be said to create them. It cannot be even said to know them.

I am asking you a question and you are answering. Are you conscious of the question and the

In reality I am neither hearing nor answering. In the world of events the question happens and
the answer happens. Nothing happens to me. Everything just happens.

And you are the witness?

What does witness mean? Mere knowledge. It rained and now the rain is over. I did not get wet.
I know it rained, but I am not affected. I just witnessed the rain.

The fully realised man, spontaneously abiding in the supreme state, appears to eat, drink and
so on. Is he aware of it, or not?

That in which consciousness happens, the universal consciousness or mind, we call the ether of
consciousness. All the objects of consciousness form the universe. What is beyond both, supporting
both, is the supreme state, a state of utter stillness and silence. Whoever goes there, disappears. It
is unreachable by words, or mind. You may call it God, or Parabrahman, or Supreme Reality, but
these are names given by the mind. It is the nameless, contentless, effortless and spontaneous
state, beyond being and not being.

But does one remain conscious?

As the universe is the body of the mind, so is consciousness the body of the supreme. It is not
conscious, but it gives rise to consciousness.

In my daily actions much goes by habit, automatically. I am aware of the general purpose, but
not of each movement in detail. As my consciousness broadens and deepens, details tend to
recede, leaving me free for the general trends. Does not the same happens to a
jnani, but more so?

On the level of consciousness -- yes. In the supreme state, no. This state is entirely one and
indivisible, a single solid block of reality. The only way of knowing it is to be it. The mind cannot
reach it. To perceive it does not need the senses; to know it, does not need the mind.

That is how God runs the world.

God is not running the world.

Then who is doing it?

Nobody. All happens by itself. You are asking the question and you are supplying the answer.
And you know the answer when you ask the question. All is a play in consciousness. All divisions
are illusory. You can know the false only. The true you must yourself be.

There is the witnessed consciousness and there is the witnessing consciousness. Is the
second the supreme?

There are the two -- the person and the witness, the observer. When you see them as one, and
go beyond, you are in the supreme state. It is not perceivable, because it is what makes perception
possible. It is beyond being and not being. It is neither the mirror nor the image in the mirror. It is
what is -- the timeless reality, unbelievably hard and solid.

The jnani -- is he the witness or the Supreme?

He is the Supreme, of course, but he can also be viewed as the universal witness.

But he remains a person?

When you believe yourself to be a person, you see persons everywhere. In reality there are no
persons, only threads of memories and habits. At the moment of realisation the person ceases.
Identity remains, but identity is not a person, it is inherent in the reality itself. The person has no
being in itself; it is a reflection in the mind of the witness, the 'I am', which again is a mode of being.

Is the Supreme conscious?

Neither conscious nor unconscious, I am telling you from experience.

Pragnanam Brahma. What is this Pragna?

It is the un-selfconscious knowledge of life itself.

Is it vitality, the energy of life, livingness?

Energy comes first. For everything is a form of energy. Consciousness is most differentiated in
the waking state. Less so in dream. Still less in sleep. Homogeneous -- in the fourth state. Beyond
is the inexpressible monolithic reality, the abode of the jnani.

I have cut my hand. It healed. By what power did it heal?

By the power of life.

What is that power?

It is consciousness. AII is conscious.

What is the source of consciousness?

Consciousness itself is the source of everything.

Can there be life without consciousness?

No, nor consciousness without life. They are both one. But in reality only the Ultimate is. The
rest is a matter of name and form. And as long as you cling to the idea that only what has name and
shape exists, the Supreme will appear to you non-existing. When you understand that names and
shapes are hollow shells without any content whatsoever, and what is real is nameless and
formless, pure energy of life and light of consciousness, you will be at peace -- immersed in the
deep silence of reality.

If time and space are mere illusions and you are beyond, please tell me what is the weather in
New York. Is it hot or raining there?

How can I tell you? Such things need special training. Or, just travelling to New York. I may be
quite certain that I am beyond time and space, and yet unable to locate myself at will at some point
of time and space. I am not interested enough; I see no purpose in undergoing a special Yogic
training. I have just heard of New York. To me it is a word. Why should I know more than the word
conveys? Every atom may be a universe, as complex as ours. Must I know them all? I can -- if I

In putting the question about the weather in New York, where did I make the mistake?

The world and the mind are states of being. The supreme is not a state. It pervades, all states,
but it is not a state of something else. It is entirely uncaused, independent, complete in itself,
beyond time and space, mind and matter.

By what sign do you recognise it?

That's the point that it leaves no traces. There is nothing to recognise it by. It must be seen
directly, by giving up all search for signs and approaches. When all names and forms have been
given up, the real is with you. You need not seek it. Plurality and diversity are the play of the mind
only. Reality is one.

If reality leaves no evidence, there is no speaking about it.

It is. It cannot be denied. It is deep and dark, mystery beyond mystery. But it is, while all else
merely happens.

Is it the Unknown?

It is beyond both, the known and the unknown. But I would rather call it the known, than the
unknown. For whenever something is known, it is the real that is known.

Is silence an attribute of the real?

This too is of the mind. All states and conditions are of the mind.

What is the place of samadhi?

Not making use of one's consciousness is samadhi. You just leave your mind alone. You want
nothing, neither-from your body nor from your mind.