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Excerpts from I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - Part 41

read by James Traverse





I AM THAT
Dialogues of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj


 
 
 41. Develop the Witness Attitude

   Questioner:
What is the daily and hourly state of mind of a realised man? How does he see, hear,
eat, drink, wake and sleep, work and rest? What proof is there of his state as different from ours?
Apart from the verbal testimony of the so-called realised people, is there no way of verifying their
state objectively. Are there not some observable differences in their physiological and nervous
responses, in their metabolism, or brain waves, or in their psychosomatic structure?

Nisargadatta:
You may find differences, or you may not. All depends on your capacity of observation.
The objective differences are however, the least important. What matters is their outlook, their
attitude, which is that of total detachment, aloofness, standing apart.

Questioner:
Does not a jnani feel sorrow when his child dies, does he not suffer?

Nisargadatta:
He suffers with those who suffer. The event itself is of little importance, but he is full of
compassion for the suffering being, whether alive or dead, in the body or out of it. After all, love and
compassion are his very nature. He is one with all that lives and love is that oneness in action.

Questioner:
People are very much afraid of death.

Nisargadatta:
The jnani is afraid of nothing. But he pities the man who is afraid. After all to be born, to live and
to die is natural. To be afraid is not. To the event, of course, attention is given.

Questioner:
Imagine you are ill -- high fever, aches, shivers. The doctor tells you the condition is serious,
there are only a few days to live. What would be your first reaction?

Nisargadatta:
No reaction. As it is natural for the incense stick to burn out, so it is natural for the body to die.
Really, it is a matter of very little importance. What matters is that I am neither the body nor the
mind. I am.

Questioner:
Your family will be desperate, of course. What would you tell them?

Nisargadatta:
The usual stuff: fear not, life goes on, God will protect you, we shall be soon together again and
so on. But to me the entire commotion is meaningless, for I am not the entity that imagines itself
alive or dead. I am neither born nor can I die. I have nothing to remember or to forget.

Questioner:
What about the prayers for the dead?

Nisargadatta:
By all means pray for the dead. It pleases them very much. They are flattered. The jnani does
not need your prayers. He is himself the answer to your prayers.

Questioner:
How does the jnani fare after death?

Nisargadatta:
The jnani is dead already. Do you expect him to die again?

Questioner:
Surely, the dissolution of the body is an important event even to a jnani.

Nisargadatta:
There are no important events for a jnani, except when somebody reaches the highest goal.
Then only his heart rejoices. All else is of no concern. The entire universe is his body, all life is his
life. As in a city of lights, when one bulb burns out, it does not affect the network, so the death of a
body does not affect the whole.

Questioner:
The particular may not matter to the whole, but it does matter to the particular. The whole is an
abstraction, the particular, the concrete, is real.

Nisargadatta:
That is what you say. To me it may be the other way -- the whole is real, the part comes and
goes. The particular is born and reborn, changing name and shape, the jnani is the Changeless
Reality, which makes the changeful possible. But he cannot give you the conviction. It must come
with your own experience. With me all is one, all is equal.

Questioner:
Are sin and virtue one and the same?

Nisargadatta:
These are all man-made values! What are they to me? What ends in happiness is virtue, what
ends in sorrow is sin. Both are states of mind. Mine is not a State of mind.

Questioner:
We are like the blind people at a loss to understand what does it mean to see.

Nisargadatta:
You can put it as you like.

Questioner:
Is the practice of silence as a sadhana effective?

Nisargadatta:
Anything you do for the sake of enlightenment takes you nearer. Anything you do without
remembering enlightenment puts you off. But why complicate? Just know that you are above and
beyond all things and thoughts. What you want to be, you are it already. Just keep it in mind.

Questioner:
I hear you saying it, but I cannot believe.

Nisargadatta:
I was in the same position myself. But I trusted my Guru and he proved right. Trust me, if you
can. Keep in mind what I tell you: desire nothing, for you lack nothing. The very seeking prevents
you from finding.

Questioner:
You seem to be so very indifferent to everything!

Nisargadatta:
I am not indifferent, I am impartial. I give no preference to the me and the mine. A basket of
earth and a basket of jewels are both unwanted. Life and death are all the same to me.

Questioner:
Impartiality makes you indifferent.

Nisargadatta:
On the contrary, compassion and love are my very core. Void of all predilections, I am free to
love.

Questioner:
Buddha said that the idea of enlightenment is extremely important. Most people go through
their lives not even knowing that there is such a thing as enlightenment, leave alone the striving for
it. Once they have heard of it, a seed was sown which cannot die. Therefore, he would send his
bhikhus to preach ceaselessly for eight months every year.

Nisargadatta:
'One can give food, clothes, shelter, knowledge, affection, but the highest gift is the gospel of
enlightenment', my Guru used to say. You are right, enlightenment is the highest good. Once you
have it, nobody can take it away from you.

Questioner:
If you would talk like this in the West, people would take you for mad.

Nisargadatta:
Of course, they would! To the ignorant all that they can not understand is madness. What of it?
Let them be as they are. I am as I am, for no merit of mine and they are as they are, for no fault of
theirs. The Supreme Reality manifests itself in innumerable ways. Infinite in number are its names
and shapes. All arise, all merge in the same ocean, the source of all is one. Looking for causes and
results is but the pastime of the mind. What is, is lovable. Love is not a result, it is the very ground
of being. Wherever you go, you will find being, consciousness and love. Why and what for make
preferences?

Questioner:
When by natural causes thousands and millions of lives are extinguished (as it happens in
floods and earthquakes), I do not grieve. But when one man dies at the hand of man, I grieve
extremely. The inevitable has its own majesty, but killing is avoidable and, therefore, ugly and
altogether horrible.

Nisargadatta:
All happens as it happens. Calamities, whether natural or man-made, happen, and there is no
need to feel horrified.

Questioner:
How can anything be without cause?

Nisargadatta:
In every event the entire universe is reflected. The ultimate cause is untraceable. The very idea
of causation is only a way of thinking and speaking. We cannot imagine, uncaused emergence.
This, however, does not prove the existence of causation.

Questioner:
Nature is mindless, hence irresponsible. But man has a mind. Why is it so perverse?

Nisargadatta:
The causes of perversity are also natural -- heredity, environment and so on. You are too quick
to condemn. Do not worry about others. Deal with your own mind first. When you realise that your
mind too is a part of nature, the duality will cease.

Questioner:
There is some mystery in it which I cannot fathom. How can the mind be a part of nature?

Nisargadatta:
Because nature is in the mind; without the mind where is nature?

Questioner:
If nature is in the mind and the mind is my own, I should be able to control nature, which is not
really the case. Forces beyond my control determine my behaviour.

Nisargadatta:
Develop the witness attitude and you will find in your own experience that detachment brings
control. The state of witnessing is full of power, there is nothing passive about it.