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Excerpts from I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - Part 71

read by James Traverse

Dialogues of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

71. In Self-awareness you Learn about Yourself

It is our repeated experience that the disciples do much harm to their Gurus. They
make plans and carry them out, without considering the Guru's wishes. In the end there is only
endless worry for the Guru and bitterness for his disciples.

Yes, it does happen.

Who compels the Guru to submit to these indignities?

The Guru is basically without desire. He sees what happens, but feels no urge to interfere. He
makes no choices, takes no decisions. As pure witness, he watches what is going on and remains

But his work suffers.

Victory is always his -- in the end. He knows that if the disciples do not learn from his words,
they will learn from their own mistakes. Inwardly he remains quiet and silent. He has no sense of
being a separate person. The entire universe is his own, including his disciples with their petty
plans. Nothing in particular affects him, or, which comes to the same, the entire universe affects him
in equal measure.

Is there no such thing as the Guru's grace?

His grace is constant and universal. It is not given to one and denied to another.

How does it affect me personally?

It is by The Guru's grace that your mind is engaged in search for truth and it is by his grace that
you will find it. It works unwaringly towards your ultimate good. And it is for all.

Some disciples are ready, mature, and some are not. Must not the Guru exercise choice and
make decisions?

The Guru knows the Ultimate and relentlessly propels the disciple towards it. The disciple is full
of obstacles, which he himself must overcome. The Guru is not very much concerned with the
superficialities of the disciple's life. It is like gravitation The fruit must fall -- when no longer held

If the disciple does not know the goal, how can he make out the obstacles?

The goal is shown by the Guru, obstacles are discovered by the disciple. The Guru has no
preferences, but those who have obstacles to overcome seem to be lagging behind.
In reality the disciple is not different from the Guru. He is the same dimensionless centre of
perception and love in action. It is only his imagination and self-identification with the imagined, that
encloses him and converts him into a person. The Guru is concerned little with the person. His
attention is on the inner watcher. It is the task of the watcher to understand and thereby eliminate
the person. While there is grace on one side, there must be dedication to the task on the other.

But the person does not want to be eliminated.

The person is merely the result of a misunderstanding. In reality, there is no such thing.
Feelings, thoughts and actions race before the watcher in endless succession, leaving traces in the
brain and creating an illusion of continuity. A reflection of the watcher in the mind creates the sense
of 'I' and the person acquires an apparently independent existence. In reality there is no person,
only the watcher identifying himself with the 'I' and the 'mine'. The teacher tells the watcher: you are
not this, there is nothing of yours in this, except the little point of 'I am', which is the bridge between
the watcher and his dream. I am this, I am that' is dream, while pure 'I am' has the stamp of reality
on it. You have tasted so many things -- all came to naught. Only the sense 'I am' persisted --
unchanged. Stay with the changeless among the changeful, until you are able to go beyond.

When will it happen?

It will happen as soon as you remove the obstacles.

Which obstacles?

Desire for the false and fear of the true. You, as the person, imagine that the Guru is interested
in you as a person. Not at all. To him you are a nuisance and a hindrance to be done away with. He
actually aims at your elimination as a factor in consciousness.

If I am eliminated, what will remain?

Nothing will remain, all will remain. The sense of identity will remain, but no longer identification
with a particular body. Being -- awareness -- love will shine in full splendour. Liberation is never of
the person, it is always from the person.

And no trace remains of the person?

A vague memory remains, like the memory of a dream, or early childhood. After all, what is
there to remember? A flow of events, mostly accidental and meaningless. A sequence of desires
and fears and inane blunders. Is there anything worth remembering? The person is but a shell
imprisoning you. Break the shell.

Whom are you asking to break the shell? Who is to break the shell?

Break the bonds of memory and self-identification and the shell will break by itself. There is a
centre that imparts reality to whatever it perceives. All you need is to understand that you are the
source of reality, that you give reality instead of getting it, that you need no support and no
confirmation. Things are as they are, because you accept them as they are. Stop accepting them
and they will dissolve. Whatever you think about with desire or fear appears before you as real.
Look at it without desire or fear and it does lose substance. Pleasure and pain are momentary. It is
simpler and easier to disregard them than to act on them.

If all things come to an end, why did they appear at all?

Creation is in the very nature of consciousness. Consciousness causes appearances. Reality is
beyond consciousness.

While we are conscious of appearances, how is it that we are not conscious that these are
mere appearances?

The mind covers up reality, without knowing it. To know the nature of the mind, you need
intelligence, the capacity to look at the mind in silent and dispassionate awareness.

If I am of the nature of all-pervading consciousness, how could ignorance and illusion happen
to me?

Neither ignorance nor illusion ever happened to you. Find the self to which you ascribe
ignorance and illusion and your question will be answered. You talk as if you know the self and see
it to be under the sway of ignorance and illusion. But, in fact, you do not know the self, nor are you
aware of ignorance. By all means become aware -- this will bring you to the self and you will realise
that there is neither ignorance nor delusion in it. It is like saying: if there is sun, how can darkness
be? As under a stone there will be darkness, however strong the sunlight, so in the shadow of the 'I-
am-the-body' consciousness there must be ignorance and illusion.

But why did the body consciousness come into being?

Don't ask 'why', ask 'how'. It is in the nature of creative imagination to identify itself with its
creations. You can stop it any moment by switching off attention. Or through investigation.

Does creation come before investigation?

First you create a world, then the 'I am' becomes a person, who is not happy for various
reasons. He goes out in search of happiness, meets a Guru who tells hiNisargadatta: 'You are not a person,
find who you are'. He does it and goes beyond.

Why did he not do it at the very start?

It did not occur to him. He needed somebody to tell him.

Was that enough?

It was enough.

Why does it not work in my case?

You do not trust me.

Why is my faith weak?

Desires and fears have dulled your mind. It needs some scrubbing.

How can I clear my mind?

By watching it relentlessly. Inattention obscures, attention clarifies.

Why do the Indian teachers advocate inactivity?

Most of people's activities are valueless, if not outright destructive. Dominated by desire and
fear, they can do nothing good. Ceasing to do evil precedes beginning to do good. Hence the need
for stopping all activities for a time, to investigate one's urges and their motives, see all that is false
in one's life, purge the mind of all evil and then only restart work, beginning with one's obvious
duties. Of course, if you have a chance to help somebody, by all means do it and promptly too, don't
keep him waiting till you are perfect. But do not become a professional do-gooder.

I do not feel there are too many do-gooders among disciples. Most of those I met are too
absorbed in their own petty conflicts. They have no heart for others.

Such self-centeredness is temporary. Be patient with such people. For so many years they gave
attention to everything but themselves. Let them turn to themselves for a change.

What are the fruits of self-awareness?

You grow more intelligent. In awareness you learn. In self-awareness you learn about yourself.
Of course, you can only learn what you are not. To know what you are, you must go beyond the

Is not awareness beyond the mind?

Awareness is the point at which the mind reaches out beyond itself into reality. In awareness
you seek not what pleases, but what is true.

I find that awareness brings about a state of inner silence, a state of psychic void.

It is all right as it goes, but it is not enough. Have you felt the all-embracing emptiness in which
the universe swims like a cloud in the blue sky?

Sir, let me first come to know well my own inner space.

Destroy the wall that separates, the 'I-am-the-body' idea and the inner and the outer will
become one.

Am I to die?

Physical destruction is meaningless. It is the clinging to sensate life that binds you. If you could
experience the inner void fully, the explosion into the totality would be near.

My own spiritual experience has its seasons. Sometimes I feel glorious, then again I am down. I
am like a little boy -- going up, going down, going up, going down.

All changes in consciousness are due to the 'I-am-the-body' idea. Divested of this idea the mind
becomes steady. There is pure being, free of experiencing anything in particular. But to realise it
you must do what your teacher tells you. Mere listening, even memorizing, is not enough. If you do
not struggle hard to apply every word of it in your daily life, don't complain that you made no
progress. All real progress is irreversible. Ups and downs merely show that the teaching has not
been taken to heart and translated into action fully.

The other day you told us that there is no such thing as karma. Yet we see that every thing has
a cause and the sum total of all the causes may be called karma.

As long as you believe yourself to be a body, you will ascribe causes to everything. I do not say
things have no causes. Each thing has innumerable causes. It is as it is, because the world is as it
is. Every cause in its ramifications covers the universe.

When you realise that you are absolutely free to be what you consent to be, that you are what you
appear to be because of ignorance or indifference, you are free to revolt and change. You allow
yourself to be what you are not. You are looking for the causes of being what you are not! It is a
futile search. There are no causes, but your ignorance of your real being, which is perfect and
beyond all causation. For whatever happens, all the universe is responsible and you are the source
of the universe.

I know nothing about being the cause of the universe.

Because you do not investigate. Enquire, search within and you will know.

How can a speck like me create the vast universe?

When you are infected with the 'I-am-the-body' virus; a whole universe springs into being. But
when you have had enough of it, you cherish some fanciful ideas about liberation and pursue lines
of action totally futile. You concentrate, you meditate, you torture your mind and body, you do all
sorts of unnecessary things, but you miss the essential which is the elimination of the person.

In the beginning we may have to pray and meditate for some time before we are ready for self-

If you believe so, go on. To me, all delay is a waste of time. You can skip all the preparation and
go directly for the ultimate search within. Of all the Yogas it is the simplest and the shortest.