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Excerpts from I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - Part 63

read by James Traverse

Dialogues of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

 63. Notion of Doership is Bondage

We have been staying at the Satya Sai Baba Ashram for some time. We have also
spent two months at Sri Ramanashram at Tiruvannamalai. Now we are on our way back to the
United States.

Did India cause any change in you?

We feel we have shed our burden. Sri Satya Sai Baba told us to leave everything to him and
just live from day to day as righteously as possible. 'Be good and leave the rest to me', he used to
tell us.

What were you doing at the Sri Ramanashram?

We were going on with the mantra given to us by the Guru. We also did some meditation.
There was not much of thinking or study; we were just trying to keep quiet. We are on the
bhakti path and rather poor in philosophy. We have not much to think about -- just trust our Guru and live
our lives.

Most of the bhaktas trust their Guru only as long as all is well with them. When troubles come,
they feel let down and go out in search of another Guru.

Yes, we were warned against this danger. We are trying to take the hard along with the soft.
The feeling: 'All is Grace' must be very strong. A sadhu was walking eastwards, from where a
strong wind started blowing. The sadhu just turned round and walked west. We hope to live just like
that -- adjusting ourselves to circumstances as sent us by our Guru.

There is only life. There is nobody who lives a life.

That we understand, yet constantly we make attempts to live our lives instead of just living.
Making plans for the future seems to be an inveterate habit with us.

Whether you plan or don't, life goes on. But in life itself a little whorl arises in the mind, which
indulges in fantasies and imagines itself dominating and controlling life. Life itself is desireless. But
the false self wants to continue -- pleasantly. Therefore it is always engaged in ensuring one's
continuity. Life is unafraid and free. As long as you have the idea of influencing events, liberation is
not for you: The very notion of doership, of being a cause, is bondage.

How can we overcome the duality of the doer and the done?

Contemplate life as infinite, undivided, ever present, ever active, until you realise yourself as
one with it. It is not even very difficult, for you will be returning only to your own natural condition.
Once you realise that all comes from within, that the world in which you live has not been projected
onto you but by you, your fear comes to an end. Without this realisation you identify yourself with
the externals, like the body, mind, society, nation, humanity, even God or the Absolute. But these
are all escapes from fear. It is only when you fully accept your responsibility for the little world in
which you live and watch the process of its creation, preservation and destruction, that you may be
free from your imaginary bondage.

Why should I imagine myself so wretched?

You do it by habit only. Change your ways of feeling and thinking, take stock of them and
examine them closely. You are in bondage by inadvertence. Attention liberates. You are taking so
many things for granted. Begin to question. The most obvious things are the most doubtful. Ask
yourself such questions as: ‘Was I really born?' 'Am I really so-and-so?’ 'How do I know that I exist?
'Who are my parents?’ 'Have they created me, or have I created them?' 'Must I believe all I am told
about myself?' ‘Who am I, anyhow?'. You have put so much energy into building a prison for
yourself. Now spend as much on demolishing it. In fact, demolition is easy, for the false dissolves
when it is discovered. All hangs on the idea 'I am'. Examine it very thoroughly. It lies at the root of
every trouble. It is a sort of skin that separates you from the reality. The real is both within and
without the skin, but the skin itself is not real. This 'I am' idea was not born with you. You could have
lived very well without it. It came later due to your self-identification with the body. It created an
illusion of separation where there was none. It made you a stranger in your own world and made
the world alien and inimical. Without the sense of 'I am' life goes on. There are moments when we
are without the sense of 'I am'. at peace and happy. With the return of the 'I am' trouble starts.

How is one to be free from the 'I'-sense?

You must deal with the 'I'-sense if you want to be free of it. Watch it in operation and at peace,
how it starts and when it ceases, what it wants and how it gets it, till you see clearly and understand
fully. After all, all the Yogas, whatever their source and character, have only one aiNisargadatta: to save you
from the calamity of separate existence, of being a meaningless dot in a vast and beautiful picture.
You suffer because you have alienated yourself from reality and now you seek an escape from this
alienation. You cannot escape from your own obsessions. You can only cease nursing them.
It is because the ‘I am' is false that it wants to continue. Reality need not continue -- knowing itself
indestructible, it is indifferent to the destruction of forms and expressions. To strengthen, and
stabilise the 'I am' we do all sorts of things -- all in vain, for the 'I am' is being rebuilt from moment to
moment. It is unceasing work and the only radical solution is to dissolve the separative sense of 'I
am such-and-such person' once and for good. Being remains, but not self-being.

I have definite spiritual ambitions. Must I not work for their fulfilment?

No ambition is spiritual. All ambitions are for the sake of the 'I am'. If you want to make real
progress you must give up all idea of personal attainment. The ambitions of the so-called Yogis are
preposterous. A man's desire for a woman is innocence itself compared to the lusting for an
everlasting personal bliss. The mind is a cheat. The more pious it seems, the worse the betrayal.

People come to you very often with their worldly troubles and ask for help. How do you know
what to tell them?

I just tell them what comes to my mind at the moment. I have no standardised procedure in
dealing with people.

You are sure of yourself. But when people come to me for advice, how am I to be sure that my
advice is right?

Watch in what state you are, from what level you talk. If you talk from the mind, you may be
wrong. If you talk from full insight into the situation, with your own mental habits in abeyance your
advice may be a true response. The main point is to be fully aware that neither you nor the man in
front of you are mere bodies; If your awareness is clear and full. a mistake is less probable.