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Excerpts from I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - Part 44

read by James Traverse

Dialogues of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

 44. 'I am' is True, all else is Inference

The perceiver of the world, is he prior to the world, or does he come into being along with
the world?

What a strange question! Why do you ask such questions?

Unless you know the correct answer, you will not find peace.

When I wake up in the morning, the world is already there, waiting for me. Surely the world
comes into being first. I do, but much later, at the earliest at my birth. The body mediates between
me and the world. Without the body there would be neither me nor the world.

The body appears in your mind, your mind is the content of your consciousness; you are the
motionless witness of the river of consciousness which changes eternally without changing you in
any way. Your own changelessness is so obvious that you do not notice it. Have a good look at
yourself and all these misapprehensions and misconceptions will dissolve. Just as all the little
watery lives are in water and cannot be without water, so all the universe is in you and cannot be
without you.

We call it God.

God is only an idea in your mind. The fact is you. The only thing you know for sure is: 'here and
now I am'. Remove, the 'here and now' the 'I am' remains, unassailable. The word exists in memory,
memory comes into consciousness; consciousness exists in awareness and awareness is the
reflection of the light on the waters of existence.

Still I do not see how can the world be in me when the opposite 'I am in the world' is so obvious.

Even to say 'I am the world, the world is me', is a sign of ignorance. But when I keep in mind
and confirm in life my identity with the world, a power arises in me which destroys the ignorance,
burns it up completely.

Is the witness of ignorance separate from ignorance? Is not to say: 'I am ignorant' a part of

Of course. All I can say truly is: 'I am', all else is inference. But the inference has become a
habit. Destroy all habits of thinking and seeing. The sense 'I am' is the manifestation of a deeper
cause, which you may call self, God, reality or by any other name. The 'I am' is in the world; but it is
the key which can open the door out of the world. The moon dancing on the water is seen in the
water, but it is caused by the moon in the sky and not by the water.

Still the main point seems to escape me. l can admit that the world in which I live and move and
have my being is of my own creation, a projection of myself, of my imagination, on the unknown
world, the world as it is, the world of 'absolute matter', whatever this matter may be. The world of my
own creation may be quite unlike the ultimate, the real world, just like the cinema screen is quite
unlike the pictures projected onto it. Nevertheless, this absolute world exists, quite independent of

Quite so, the world of Absolute Reality, onto which your mind has projected a world of relative
unreality is independent of yourself, for the very simple reason that it
is yourself.

Is there no contradiction in terms? How can independence prove identity?

Examine the motion of change and you will see. What can change while you do not change, can
be said to be independent of you. But what is changeless must be one with whatever else is
changeless. For, duality implies interaction and interaction means change. In other words, the
absolutely material and the absolutely spiritual, the totally objective and the totally subjective are
identical, both in substance and essence.

Like in a tri-dimensional picture, the light forms its own screen.

Any comparison will do. The main point to grasp is that you have projected onto yourself a world
of your own imagination, based on memories, on desires and fears, and that you have imprisoned
yourself in it. Break the spell and be free.

How does one break the spell?

Assert your independence in thought and action. After all, all hangs on your faith in yourself, on
the conviction that what you see and hear, think and feel is real. Why not question your faith? No
doubt, this world is painted by you on the screen of consciousness and is entirely your own private
world. Only your sense 'I am', though in the world, is not of the world. By no effort of logic or
imagination can you change the 'I am' into 'I am not'. In the very denial of your being you assert it.

Once you realise that the world is your own projection, you are free of it. You need not free yourself
of a world that does not exist, except in your own imagination! However is the picture, beautiful or
ugly, you are painting it and you are not bound by it. realise that there is nobody to force it on you,
that it is due to the habit of taking the imaginary to be real. See the Imaginary as imaginary and be
 free of fear.

Just as the colours in this carpet are brought out by light but light is not the colour, so is the world
caused by you but you are not the world.

That which creates and sustains the world, you may call it God or providence, but ultimately you are
the proof that God exists, not the other way round. For, before any question about God can be put,
you must be there to put it.
God is an experience in time, but the experiencer is timeless.
Even the experiencer is secondary. Primary is the infinite expanse of consciousness, the eternal
possibility, the immeasurable potential of all that was, is, and will be. When you look at anything, it
is the ultimate you see, but you imagine that you see a cloud or a tree.
Learn to look without imagination, to listen without distortion: that is all. Stop attributing names and
shapes to the essentially nameless and formless, realise that every mode of perception is
subjective, that what is seen or heard, touched or smelt, felt or thought, expected or imagined, is in
the mind and not in reality, and you will experience peace and freedom from fear.
Even the sense of 'I am' is composed of the pure light and the sense of being. The 'I' is there even
without the 'am'. So is the pure light there whether you say 'I' or not. Become aware of that pure
light and you will never lose it. The beingness in being, the awareness in consciousness, the
interest in every experience -- that is not describable, yet perfectly accessible, for there is nothing

You talk of reality directly -- as the all-pervading, ever-present, eternal, all-knowing, all-
energizing first cause. There are other teachers, who refuse to discuss reality at all. They say reality
is beyond the mind while all discussions are within the realm of the mind, which is the home of the
unreal. Their approach is negative; they pinpoint the unreal and thus go beyond it into the real.

The difference lies in words only. After all, when l talk of the real, I describe it as not-unreal,
space-less, time-less, cause-less, beginning-less and end-less. It comes to the same. As long as it
leads to enlightenment, what does the wording matter? Does it matter whether you pull the cart or
push it, as long as it is kept rolling? You may feel attracted to reality at one time and repelled from
the false at another; these are only moods which alternate; both are needed for perfect freedom.
You may go one way or another -- but each time it will be the right way at the moment; just go
whole-heartedly, don't waste time on doubting or hesitating. Many kinds of food are needed to make
the child grow, but the act of eating is the same. Theoretically -- all approaches are good. In
practice, and at a given moment, you proceed by one road only. Sooner or later you are bound to
discover that if you really want to find, you must dig at one place only -- within.

Neither your body nor mind can give you what you seek -- the being and knowing your self and the
great peace that comes with it.

Surely there is something valid and valuable in every approach.

In each case the value lies in bringing you to the need of seeking within. Playing with various
approaches may be due to resistance to going within, to the fear of having to abandon the illusion of
being something or somebody in particular. To find water you do not dig small pits all over the
place, but drill deep in one place only. Similarly, to find your self you have to explore yourself. When
you realise that you are the light of the world, you will also realise that you are the love of it; that to
know is to love and to love is to know.

Of all the affections the love of oneself comes first. Your love of the world is the reflection of your
love of yourself, for your world is of your own creation. Light and love are impersonal, but they are
reflected in your mind as knowing and wishing oneself well. We are always friendly towards
ourselves. but not always wise. A Yogi is a man whose goodwill is allied to wisdom.