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Excerpts from I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - Part 67

read by James Traverse

Dialogues of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

  67. Experience is not the Real Thing

The seeker is he who is in search of himself. Soon he discovers that his own body he
cannot be. Once the conviction: 'I am not the body' becomes so well grounded that he can no
longer feel, think and act for and on behalf of the body, he will easily discover that he is the
universal being, knowing, acting, that in him and through him the entire universe is real, conscious
and active. This is the heart of the problem. Either you are body-conscious and a slave of
circumstances, or you are the universal consciousness itself -- and in full control of every event.
Yet consciousness, individual or universal, is not my true abode; I am not in it, it is not mine, there is
no 'me' in it. I am beyond, though it is not easy to explain how one can be neither conscious, nor
unconscious, but just beyond. I cannot say that I am in God or I am God; God is the universal light
and love, the universal witness: I am beyond the universal even.

In that case you are without name and shape. What kind of being have you?

I am what I am, neither with form nor formless, neither conscious nor unconscious. I am outside
all these categories.

You are taking the neti-neti (not this, not this) approach.

You cannot find me by mere denial. I am as well everything, as nothing. Nor both, nor either.
These definitions apply to the Lord of the Universe, not to me.

Do you intend to convey that you are just nothing.

Oh, no! I am complete and perfect. I am the beingness of being, the knowingness of knowing,
the fullness of happiness. You cannot reduce me to emptiness!

If you are beyond words, what shall we talk about? Metaphysically speaking, what you say
holds together; there is no inner contradiction. But there is no food for me in what you say. It is so
completely beyond my urgent needs. When I ask for bread, you are giving jewels. They are
beautiful, no doubt, but I am hungry.

It is not so. I am offering you exactly what you need -- awakening. You are not hungry and you
need no bread. You need cessation, relinquishing, disentanglement. What you believe you need is
not what you need. Your real need I know, not you. You need to return to the state in which I am --
your natural state. Anything else you may think of is an illusion and an obstacle. Believe me, you
need nothing except to be what you are. You imagine you will increase your value by acquisition. It
is like gold imagining that an addition of copper will improve it. Elimination and purification,
renunciation of all that is foreign to your nature is enough. All else is vanity.

It is easier said than done. A man comes to you with stomach-ache and you advise him to
disgorge his stomach. Of course, without the mind there will be no problems. But the mind is there
-- most tangibly.

It is the mind that tells you that the mind is there. Don't be deceived. All the endless arguments
about the mind are produced by the mind itself, for its own protection, continuation and expansion. It
is the blank refusal to consider the convolutions and convulsions of the mind that can take you
beyond it.

Sir, I am an humble seeker, while you are the Supreme Reality itself. Now the seeker
approaches the Supreme in order to be enlightened. What does the Supreme do?

Listen to what I keep on telling you and do not move away from it. Think of it all the time and of
nothing else. Having reached that far, abandon all thoughts, not only of the world, but of yourself
also. Stay beyond all thoughts, in silent being-awareness. It is not progress, for what you come to is
already there in you, waiting for you.

So you say I should try to stop thinking and stay steady in the idea: 'I am'.

Yes, and whatever thoughts come to you in connection with the 'I am', empty them of all
meaning, pay them no attention.

I happen to meet many young people coming from the West and I find that there is a basic
difference when I compare them to the Indians. It looks as if their psyche (antahkarana) is different.
Concepts like Self, Reality, pure mind, universal consciousness the Indian mind grasps easily. They
ring familiar, they taste sweet. The Western mind does not respond, or just rejects them. It
concretises and wants to utilise at once in the service of accepted values. These values are often
personal: health, well-being, prosperity; sometimes they are social -- a better society, a happier life
for all; all are connected with worldly problems, personal or impersonal. Another difficulty one
comes across quite often in talking with the Westerners is that to them everything is experience --
    as they want to experience food, drink and women, art and travels, so do they want to experience
Yoga, realisation and liberation. To them it is just another experience, to be had for a price. They
imagine such experience can be purchased and they bargain about the cost. When one Guru
quotes too high, in terms of time and effort, they go to another, who offers instalment terms,
apparently very easy, but beset with unfulfillable conditions. It is the old story of not thinking of the
grey monkey when taking the medicine! In this case it is not thinking of the world, 'abandoning all
self-hood', 'extinguishing every desire', 'becoming perfect celibates' etc. Naturally there is vast
cheating going on all levels and the results are nil. Some Gurus in sheer desperation abandon all
discipline, prescribe no conditions, advise effortlessness, naturalness, simply living in passive
awareness, without any pattern of 'must' and 'must not' And there are many disciples whose past
experiences brought them to dislike themselves so badly that they just do not want to look at
themselves. If they are not disgusted, they are bored. They have surfeit of self-knowledge, they
want something else.

Let them not think of themselves, if they do not like it. Let them stay with a Guru, watch him,
think of him. Soon they will experience a kind of bliss, quite new, never experienced before, except,
maybe, in childhood. The experience is so unmistakably new, that it will attract their attention and
create interest; once the interest is roused, orderly application will follow.

These people are very critical and suspicious. They cannot be otherwise, having passed
through much learning and much disappointment. On one hand they want experience, on the other
they mistrust it. How to reach them, God alone knows!

True insight and love will reach them.

When they have some spiritual experience, another difficulty arises. They complain that the
experience does not last, that it comes and goes in a haphazard way. Having got hold of the
lollipop, they want to suck it all the time.

Experience, however sublime, is not the real thing. By its very nature it comes and goes. Self-
realisation is not an acquisition. It is more of the nature of understanding. Once arrived at, it cannot
be lost. On the other hand, consciousness is changeful, flowing, undergoing transformation from
moment to moment. Do not hold on to consciousness and its contents. Consciousness held,
ceases. To try to perpetuate a flash of insight, or a burst of happiness is destructive of what it wants
to preserve. What comes must go. The permanent is beyond all comings and goings. Go to the root
of all experience, to the sense of being. Beyond being and not-being lies the immensity of the real.
Try and try again.

To try one needs faith.

There must be the desire first. When the desire is strong, the willingness to try will come. You
do not need assurance of success, when the desire is strong. You are ready to gamble.

Strong desire, strong faith -- it comes to the same. These people do not trust either their
parents or the society, or even themselves. All they touched turned to ashes. Give them one
experience absolutely genuine, indubitable, beyond the argumentations of the mind and they will
follow you to the world's end.

But I am doing nothing else! Tirelessly I draw their attention to the one incontrovertible factor --
that of being. Being needs no proofs -- it proves all else. If only they go deeply into the fact of being
and discover the vastness and the glory to which the 'I am' is the door, and cross the door and go
beyond, their life will be full of happiness and light. Believe me, the effort needed is as nothing when
compared with the discoveries arrived at.

What you say is right. But these people have neither confidence nor patience. Even a short
effort tires them. It is really pathetic to see them groping blindly and yet unable to hold on to the
helping hand. They are such nice people fundamentally but totally bewildered. I tell theNisargadatta: you
cannot have truth on your own terms. You must accept the conditions. To this they answer: Some
will accept the conditions and some will not. Acceptance or non-acceptance are superficial and
accidental; reality is in all; there must be a way for all to tread -- with no conditions attached.

There is such a way, open to all, on every level, in every walk of life. Everybody is aware of
himself. The deepening and broadening of self-awareness is the royal way. Call it mindfulness, or
witnessing, or just attention -- it is for all. None is unripe for it and none can fail.
But, of course, your must not be merely alert. Your mindfulness must include the mind also.
Witnessing is primarily awareness of consciousness and its movements.