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Excerpts from I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - Part 77

read by James Traverse

Dialogues of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

77. 'I' and 'Mine' are False Ideas

I am very much attached to my family and possessions. How can I conquer this

This attachment is born along with the sense of 'me' and 'mine'. Find the true meaning of
these words and you will be free of all bondage. You have a mind which is spread in time. One after
another all things happen to you and the memory remains. There is nothing wrong in it. The
problem arises only when the memory of past pains and pleasures -- which are essential to all
organic life -- remains as a reflex, dominating behaviour. This reflex takes the shape of 'I' and uses
the body and the mind for its purposes, which are invariably in search for pleasure or flight from
pain. When you recognise the 'I' as it is, a bundle of desires and fears, and the sense of 'mine', as
embracing all things and people needed for the purpose of avoiding pain and securing pleasure,
you will see that the 'I' and the 'mine' are false ideas, having no foundation in reality. Created by the
mind, they rule their creator as long as it takes them to be true; when questioned, they dissolve.
The 'I' and 'mine', having no existence in themselves, need a support which they find in the body.
The body becomes their point of reference. When you talk of 'my' husband and 'my' children, you
mean the body's husband and the body's children. Give up the idea of being the body and face the
question: Who am l? At once a process will be set in motion which will bring back reality, or, rather,
will take the mind to reality. Only, you must not be afraid.

What am I to be afraid of?

For reality to be, the ideas of 'me' and 'mine' must go. They will go if you let them. Then your
normal natural state reappears, in which you are neither the body nor the mind, neither the 'me’ nor
the 'mine', but in a different state of being altogether. It is pure awareness of being, without being
this or that, without any self-identification with anything in particular, or in general. In that pure light
of consciousness there is nothing, not even the idea of nothing. There is only light.

There are people whom I love. Must I give them up?

You only let go your hold on them. The rest is up to them. They may lose interest in you, or may

How could they? Are they not my own?

They are your body's, not your own. Or, better, there is none who is not your own.

And what about my possessions?

When the 'mine' is no more, where are your possessions?

Please tell me, must I lose all by losing the 'I'?

You may or you may not. It will be all the same to you. Your loss will be somebody's gain. You
will not mind.

If I do not mind, I shall lose all!

Once you have nothing you have no problems.

I am left with the problem of survival.

It is the body's problem and it will solve it by eating, drinking and sleeping. There is enough for
all, provided all share.

Our society is based on grabbing, not on sharing.

By sharing you will change it.

I do not feel like sharing. Anyhow, I am being taxed out of my possessions.

This is not the same as voluntary sharing. Society will not change by compulsion. It requires a
change of heart. Understand that nothing is your own, that all belongs to all. Then only society will

One man's understanding will not take the world far.

The world in which you live will be affected deeply. it will be a healthy and happy world, which
will radiate and communicate, increase and spread. The power of a true heart is immense.

Please tell us more.

Talking is not my hobby. Sometimes I talk, sometimes I do not. My talking, or not talking, is a
part of a given situation and does not depend on me. When there is a situation in which I have to
talk, I hear myself talking. In some other situation I may not hear myself talking. It is all the same to
me. Whether I talk or not, the light and love of being what I am are not affected, nor are they under
my control. They are, and I know they are. There is a glad awareness, but nobody who is glad. Of
course, there is a sense of identity, but it is the identity of a memory track, like the identity of a
sequence of pictures on the ever-present screen. Without the light and the screen there can be no
picture. To know the picture as the play of light on the screen, gives freedom from the idea that the
picture is real. All you have to do is to understand that you love the self and the self loves you and
that the sense 'I am' is the link between you both, a token of identity in spite of apparent diversity.
Look at the 'I am' as a sign of love between the inner and the outer, the real and the appearance.
Just like in a dream all is different, except the sense of 'I', which enables you to say 'I dreamt', so
does the sense of 'I am' enable you to say 'I am my real Self again’. I do nothing, nor is anything
done to me. I am what I am and nothing can affect me. I appear to depend on everything, but in fact
all depends on me.

How can you say you do nothing? Are you not talking to me?

I do not have the feeling that I am talking. There is talking going on, that is all.

I talk.

Do you? You hear yourself talking and you say: I talk.

Everybody says: 'I work, I come, I go'.

I have no objection to the conventions of your language, but they distort and destroy reality. A
more accurate way of saying would have been: 'There is talking, working, coming, going'. For
anything to happen, the entire universe must coincide. It is wrong to believe that anything in
particular can cause an event. Every cause is universal. Your very body would not exist without the
entire universe contributing to its creation and survival. I am fully aware that things happen as they
happen because the world is as it is. To affect the course of events I must bring a new factor into
the world and such factor can only be myself, the power of love and understanding focussed in me.
When the body is born, all kinds of things happen to it and you take part in them, because you take
yourself to be the body. You are like the man in the cinema house, laughing and crying with the
picture, though knowing fully well that he is all the time in his seat and the picture is but the play of
light. It is enough to shift attention from the screen to oneself to break the spell. When the body
dies, the kind of life you live now -- succession of physical and mental events -- comes to an end. It
can end even now -- without waiting for the death of the body -- it is enough to shift attention to the
Self and keep it there. All happens as if there is a mysterious power that creates and moves
everything. realise that you are not the mover, only the observer, and you will be at peace.

Is that power separate from me?

Of course not. But you must begin by being the dispassionate observer. Then only will you
realise your full being as the universal lover and actor. As long as you are enmeshed in the
tribulations of a particular personality, you can see nothing beyond it. But ultimately you will come to
see that you are neither the particular nor the universal, you are beyond both. As the tiny point of a
pencil can draw innumerable pictures, so does the dimensionless point of awareness draw the
contents of the vast universe. Find that point and be free.

Out of what do I create this world?

Out of your own memories. As long as you are ignorant of yourself as the creator, your world is
limited and repetitive. Once you go beyond your self-identification with your past, you are free to
create a new world of harmony and beauty. Or you just remain -- beyond being and non-being.

What will remain with me if I let go my memories?

Nothing will remain.

I am afraid.

You will be afraid until you experience freedom and its blessings. Of course, some memories
are needed to identify and guide the body and such memories do remain, but there is no
attachment left to the body as such; it is no longer the ground for desire or fear. All this is not very
difficult to understand and practice, but you must be interested. Without interest nothing can be

Having seen that you are a bundle of memories held together by attachment, step out and look from
the outside. You may perceive for the first time something which is not memory. You cease to be a
Mr-so-and-so, busy about his own affairs. You are at last at peace. You realise that nothing was
ever wrong with the world -- you alone were wrong and now it is all over. Never again will you be
caught in the meshes of desire born of ignorance.