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Excerpts from I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - Part 46

read by James Traverse





I AM THAT
Dialogues of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj


 
 
 46. Awareness of Being is Bliss

   Questioner:
By profession I am a physician. I began with surgery, continued with psychiatry and
also wrote some books on mental health and healing by faith. I came to you to learn the laws of
spiritual health.

Nisargadatta:
When you are trying to cure a patient, what exactly are you trying to cure? What is cure?
When can you say that a man is cured?

Questioner:
I seek to cure the body as well as improve the link between the body and the mind. I also seek
to set right the mind.

Nisargadatta:
Did you investigate the connection between the mind and the body? At what point are they
connected?

Questioner:
Between the body and the indwelling consciousness lies the mind.

Nisargadatta:
Is not the body made of food? And can there be a mind without food?

Questioner:
The body is built and maintained by food. Without food the mind usually goes weak. But the
mind is not mere food. There is a transforming factor which creates a mind in the body. What is that
transforming factor?

Nisargadatta:
Just like the wood produces fire which is not wood, so does the body produce the mind which is
not the body. But to whom does the mind appear? Who is the perceiver of the thoughts and feelings
which you call the mind? There is wood, there is fire and there is the enjoyer of the fire. Who enjoys
the mind? Is the enjoyer also a result of food, or is it independent?

Questioner:
The perceiver is independent.

Nisargadatta:
How do you know? Speak from your own experience. You are not the body nor the mind. You
say so. How do you know?

Questioner:
I really do not know. I guess so.

Nisargadatta:
Truth is permanent. The real is changeless. What changes is not real, what is real does not
change. Now, what is it in you that does not change? As long as there is food, there is body and
mind. When the food is stopped, the body dies and the mind dissolves. But does the observer
perish?

Questioner:
I guess it does not. But I have no proof.

Nisargadatta:
You yourself are the proof. You have not, nor can you have any other proof. You are yourself,
you know yourself, you love yourself. Whatever the mind does, it does for the love of its own self.
The very nature of the self is love. It is loved, loving and lovable. It is the self that makes the body
and the mind so interest-ing, so very dear. The very attention given to them comes from the self.

Questioner:
If the self is not the body nor the mind, can it exist without the body and the mind?

Nisargadatta:
Yes, it can. It is a matter of actual experience that the self has being independent of mind and
body. It is being -- awareness -- bliss. Awareness of being is bliss.

Questioner:
It may be a matter of actual experience to you, but it is not my case. How can I come to the
same experience? What practices to follow, what exercises to take up?

Nisargadatta:
To know that you are neither body nor mind, watch yourself steadily and live unaffected by your
body and mind, completely aloof, as if you were dead. It means you have no vested interests, either
in the body or in the mind.

Questioner:
Dangerous!

Nisargadatta:
I am not asking you to commit suicide. Nor can you. You can only kill the body, you cannot stop
the mental process, nor can you put an end to the person you think you are. Just remain unaffected.
This complete aloofness, unconcern with mind and body is the best proof that at the core of your
being you are neither mind nor body. What happens to the body and the mind may not be within
your power to change, but you can always put an end to your imagining yourself to be body and
mind. What-ever happens, remind yourself that only your body and mind are affected, not yourself.
The more earnest you are at remembering what needs to be remembered, the sooner will you be
aware of yourself as you are, for memory will become experience. Earnestness reveals being. What
is imagined and willed becomes actuality -- here lies the danger as well as the way out.
Tell me, what steps have you taken to separate your real self, that in you which is changeless, from
your body and mind?

Questioner:
I am a medical man, I have studied a lot, I imposed on myself a strict discipline in the way of
exercises and periodical fasts and I am a vegetarian.

Nisargadatta:
But in the depth of your heart what is it that you want?

Questioner:
I want to find reality.

Nisargadatta:
What price are you willing to pay for reality? Any price?

Questioner:
While in theory I am ready to pay any price, in actual life again and again I am being prompted
to behave in ways which come in between me and reality. Desire carries me away.

Nisargadatta:
Increase and widen your desires till nothing but reality can fulfil them. It is not desire that is
wrong, but its narrowness and smallness. Desire is devotion. By all means be devoted to the real,
the infinite, the eternal heart of being. Transform desire into love. All you want is to be happy. All
your desires, whatever they may be, are expressions of your longing for happiness. Basically, you
wish yourself well.

Questioner:
I know that I should not...

Nisargadatta:
Wait! Who told you that you should not? What is wrong with wanting to be happy?

Questioner:
The self must go, l know.

Nisargadatta:
But the self is there. Your desires are there. Your longing to be happy is there. Why? Because
you love yourself. By all means love yourself -- wisely. What is wrong is to love yourself stupidly, so
as to make yourself suffer. Love yourself wisely. Both indulgence and austerity have the same
purpose in view -- to make you happy. Indulgence is the stupid way, austerity is the wise way.

Questioner:
What is austerity?

Nisargadatta:
Once you have gone through an experience, not to go through it again is austerity. To eschew
the unnecessary is austerity. Not to anticipate pleasure or pain Is austerity. Having things under
control at all times is austerity. Desire by itself is not wrong. It is life itself, the urge to grow in
knowledge and experience.
It is the choices you make that are wrong. To imagine that some little thing -- food. sex, power, fame
-- will make you happy is to deceive yourself. Only something as vast and deep as your real self can
make you truly and lastingly happy.

Questioner:
Since there is nothing basically wrong in desire as an expression of love of self, how should
desire be managed?

Nisargadatta:
Live your life intelligently, with the interests of your deepest self always in mind. After all, what
do you really want? Not perfection; you are already perfect. What you seek is to express in action
what you are. For this you have a body and a mind. Take them in hand and make them serve you.

Questioner:
Who is the operator here? Who is to take the body-mind in hand?

Nisargadatta:
The purified mind is the faithful servant of the self. It takes charge of the instruments, inner and
outer, and makes them serve their purpose.

Questioner:
And what is their purpose?

Nisargadatta:
The self is universal and its aims are universal. There is nothing personal about the self. Live an
orderly life, but don't make it a goal by itself. It should be the starting point for high adventure.

Questioner:
Do you advise me to come to India repeatedly?

Nisargadatta:
If you are earnest, you don't need moving about. You are yourself wherever you are and you
create your own climate. Locomotion and transportation will not give you salvation. You are not the
body and dragging the body from place to place will take you nowhere. Your mind is free to roam
the three worlds -- make full use of it.

Questioner:
If I am free, why am I in a body?

Nisargadatta:
you are not in the body, the body is in you! The mind is in you. They happen to you. They are
there because you find them interesting. Your very nature has the infinite capacity to enjoy. It is full
of zest and affection. It sheds its radiance on all that comes within its focus of awareness and
nothing is excluded. It does not know evil nor ugliness, it hopes, it trusts, it loves. You people do not
know how much you miss by not knowing your own true self. You are neither the body nor the mind,
neither the fuel nor the fire. They appear and disappear according to their own laws.
That which you are, your true self, you love it, and whatever you do, you do for your own happiness.
To find it, to know it, to cherish it is your basic urge. Since time immemorial you loved yourself, but
never wisely. Use your body and mind wisely in the service of the self, that is all. Be true to your
own self, love your self absolutely. Do not pretend that you love others as yourself. Unless you have
realised them as one with yourself, you cannot love them Don't pretend to be what you are not,
don't refuse to be what you are. Your love of others is the result of self-knowledge, not its cause.
Without self-realisation, no virtue is genuine. When you know beyond all doubting that the same life
flows through all that is and you are that life, you will love all naturally and spontaneously. When
you realise the depth and fullness of your love of yourself, you know that every living being and the
entire universe are included in your affection. But when you look at anything as separate from you,
you cannot love it for you are afraid of it. Alienation causes fear and fear deepens alienation. It is a
vicious circle. Only self-realisation can break it. Go for it resolutely.