Nisargadatta Maharaj

I leave my human nature to unfold
according to its destiny. I remain as I am.
There was never any journey. I am, as I always was.

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Nisargadatta Maharaj

The ‘I am’ is a useful pointer; it shows where to seek, but not what to seek. Just have a good look at it.

Without realising the absolute one will be consumed by desires and fears, repeating themselves endlessly. Once you know that you can be free, going beyond all strife and struggle is the most urgent task that can be.

Either you remain forever hungry and thirsty, longing, searching, grabbing, holding, ever losing and sorrowing, or go out wholeheartedly in search of the state of timeless perfection to which nothing can be added nor taken away from. In it all desires and fears are absent, not because they were given up, but because they have lost their meaning.

There will be periods of frustration; there will be periods of doubt. Your worldly involvements would hamper your practice, and an atmosphere of defeat would prevail. But, come what may continue your abidance in the ‘I am’ with all earnestness. The ‘I am’ would test your endurance, but a moment would come when it will be pleased with you, become your friend and release its stranglehold on you, and reveal all the secrets. "

You take yourself to be limited, but you are not.

Stay silent and attentive. Be earnest about it.

Just be aware of your being here and now.

Reality will find you.

Just live your life as it comes. Keep quietly alert, inquiring into the real nature of yourself. Perception is based on memory and is only imagination. The world can be said to appear but not to be. Only that which makes perception possible is real.

You agree to be guided from within and life becomes a journey into the unknown. Give up all names and forms, and the Real is with you. Know yourself as you are. Distrust your mind and go beyond. Do not think of the Real in terms of consciousness and unconsciousness. It is utterly beyond both. It gives birth to consciousness. All else is in consciousness.

Nothing you can see, feel or think is so. Go beyond the personal and see. Stop imagining that you were born. You are utterly beyond all existence and non-existence, utterly beyond all that the mind conceives. Question yourself: Who am I? What is behind and beyond all this? Soon you will see that thinking yourself to be a person is mere habit built on memory. Inquire ceaselessly.

How can Reality depend on experience when it is the very ground, the very basis of experience, the very fact of experience? Just be aware of your being here and now. There is nothing more to it. In reality you are not a thing nor separate.

You are the infinite potentiality, the inexhaustible possibility. Because you are, all can be. The universe is but a partial manifestation of your limitless capacity to become. You are neither consciousness nor its content. You are the timeless Source. Disassociate yourself from mind and consciousness. Find a foothold beyond and all will be clear and easy.

You are the Supreme Reality- all there is. Just trust and remember that. Wisdom lies in never forgetting the Self, the Supreme Absolute as the ever-present Source of both the experiencer and the experience. I am beyond consciousness and so in consciousness I cannot say what I am. Yet I am. The question “Who am I?” has no answer in consciousness and therefore helps to go beyond consciousness. Remember there is no person, only a mental picture given a false reality by conviction. All you need to do is to cease taking yourself to be within the field of consciousness.

You are free of being a percept or a concept. Abandon all conceptualization and stay silent and attentive. Be earnest about it and all will be well with you. Give up the idea of being what you think yourself to be. Let go of the idea that you are not aware of yourself as the ever-present, changeless inexpressible Reality. Just let go.

Your difficulty stems from the idea that Reality is a state of consciousness. Essence is independent of consciousness. Self-knowledge is a new dimension altogether. Pure, concentrated longing will take you speedily to your goal. If you could keep in mind what you do not know, it would reveal to you its secrets.

When you want nothing, seek nothing, expect nothing, then the Supreme State will come to you uninvited and unexpected. Stop making use of your mind and see what happens. Do this one thing thoroughly. That is all. Your weakness is due to your conviction that you were born into the world. In reality the world is ever recreated by you and in you. Once you realize that the world is your own projection you are free of it. You need not free yourself of a world that does not exist except in your own imagination!

Realize that you are the Eternal Source. There is no reality but That. So how could you be “other?” And accept all as your own. Such acceptance is true love. Don’t try to understand! Don’t rely on your mind for liberation. Go beyond it altogether. Be aware of being aware. Broaden and deepen the field of awareness. You are beyond space and time, uncaused, the very matrix of existence, the Supreme Absolute, the Noumenon- not unknowable, but unperceivable, un-objectival, inseparable- neither material nor mental, neither objective nor subjective- the Source of being, life and consciousness.

You are the all-pervading, all-transcending Reality. Behave accordingly. The actual experience will dawn upon you in no time. No effort is needed. Have faith and act on it. All will happen by itself: You are the subtle cause of the entire universe. All is because you are. Grasp this point firmly and deeply and dwell on it repeatedly. To realize this as absolutely true is liberation. What you need will come to you.

Whatever you come across, go beyond. Paramakash, your Self, is the timeless and spaceless Reality, mindless, undifferentiated, the infinite potentiality, the source and origin, the substance and the essence, both matter and consciousness, yet utterly beyond both. It cannot be perceived, but can be experienced as ever witnessing the witness, perceiving the perceiver, the origin and the end of all manifestation, the root of time and space, the prime cause in every chain of causation.

Your idea that you were born and that you will die is absurd: Both logic and experience contradict it. Behave as what I say is true and judge by what actually happens. I know the Source of all experience. From moment to moment the little I need to know to live my life I somehow happen to know. The Supreme Absolute, the Self, is at the root of and utterly beyond all. You are That. Don’t you see that the Self, your Self, the Supreme Reality, is what makes everything possible?

Know life as pure radiation from the inexhaustible Source. There is nothing to practice. To know yourself, be yourself. Stop imagining yourself to be this or that. Just be. Let your true nature emerge. Don’t disturb your mind with seeking. The very absence of obstacles will cause Reality to rush in. You will know the Light of Absolute Awareness in all its clarity and the world will fade out of your vision.

Awareness takes the place of consciousness. In consciousness there is the “I” who is conscious, while awareness is undivided. Awareness is aware of Itself. The “I am” is a thought, while awareness is not a thought. There is no “I-am-aware” in awareness. Awareness is not an attribute. One can be aware of being conscious , but not conscious of awareness. Awareness is not a form of consciousness.

One who is aware is beyond every experience, utterly beyond awareness itself. The fundamental Reality is beyond awareness, beyond becoming, beyond being and not-being. Give up all idea of the person , of personal attainment. Find out what you are.

There is no effort in witnessing. You understand that you are the witness only, and understanding acts. If in the state of witnessing you ask “Who am I?” the answer comes at once, wordless and silent. You find yourself utterly beyond the subject and the object. Both exist in you, but you are neither. You, the Supreme Absolute, are the very source of reality. Collect your energies in one great longing. My words are true and they will do their work. Enlightenment is a certainty. It is your destiny.

Discard every self-seeking motive and Reality will find you. Who am I? Go into it deeply. Find out your real being. You are the beingness of being, utterly beyond the universal even. You are the non-dimensional Source of all dimensions. As you keep on giving up, you grow spontaneously in intelligence and power and inexhaustible love and joy. The Absolute can be reached by absolute devotion only. Don’t be half-hearted.

The “person” is a shell imprisoning you. Break the shell. There is nothing you need. Nothing perceivable is real. Even space and time are imagined. All existence is imaginary. Only the Unlimited is real. Question the limits. Go beyond. Set yourself tasks apparently impossible - this is the way. Look at consciousness as something alien, superimposed. Then suddenly you are free of consciousness. Whatever you feel needs to be done happens unfailingly. Selfless and intelligent, all the powers of the universe are for you to command: You are the Source Absolute. This is your natural state. Believe me, you are the Supreme Reality. You are the fullness of perfection here and now.

Investigate what you know to its very end and you reach the unknown layers of your being. Go further and the unexpected will explode in you and shatter all. The crucial question is: “Who am I?”

Just see the person you imagine yourself to be as a part of the world perceived within consciousness; and look at consciousness from the outside; for you are not the consciousness.
You, the Supreme Reality, are utterly beyond.

 ~ Tat Tvam Asi

There can be no causal connection between practice and Wisdom. But the obstacles to Wisdom are deeply affected by practice.

One can progress to the point, when all desire for progress must fall away to make further progress possible.

Then all schools are given up, all effort ceases; in solitude and darkness the vast step is made which ends ignorance and fear forever.

Nisargadatta I am quotes
Excerpts from - I AM THAT
One With Life
Prior to consciousness
I am unborn

Nisargadatta Books
Discussion Group
Stories of Meeting Nisargadatta
Advaita, nonduality
Ramana Maharshi

Nisargadatta's Difference Between
Consciousness & Awareness

This is a post made by Bill Morgan.

Nisargadatta, who passed on in 1982, was a self-realized sage who taught a path of staying constantly with the inner sense of "I am". This path of self-inquiry was also taught by the great sage Ramana Maharshi of Arunachala, who died in 1950. They both said that by dwelling on the question of our actual identity eventually a series of realizations occurs which leads to self realization or knowledge of the Self, which is not different from what the Buddha called "Awakening". This post deals with a subtle distinction made by Nisargadatta between the words "consciousness" and "awareness."


I have noticed in some posts a confusion, one which I also had when I first began reading Nisargadatta. It concerns the difference between the way he uses the two terms "consciousness" and "awareness."

Like most people I had always thought of these two words as meaning basically the same thing, but N. uses them to point to two very different meanings. When he uses the term "consciousness" he seems to equate that term with the "I Am " and when he talks about "awareness" he is pointing to something altogether beyond the consciousness ("I Am"), that is, to the absolute.

As far as I understand so far he is saying, of the consciousness, that it is all that we know, it is the fundamental sense of presence that we feel, and that it is a universal feeling of the sense of being. Consciousness = "sense of presence" = "the beingness" = the "I Am."

Those four terms are equated throughout his talks. And while he directs us, as we start out, to simply be aware of the "I Am" so that we come to the realization that we are the consciousness itself, and not the body or the mind or the mind's thoughts and identification, he does an amazing twist at the end of all that. When the realization has established itself that I am the consciousness itself (and he always points out that this means the universal consciousness only, the same in a human or a cow or a dog or an ant), when I realize that I am the "I am" he take us to the next realization which is when I subsequently realize that I am NOT the "I am," I am beyond that, I am pure awareness only!

These are breathtaking leaps! In his use of the word "consciousness" there is always the touch of the duality. If I am conscious it is in relation to being unconscious. If "I am" it is always in relation to the "not-me." If I am conscious it is always conscious OF something. Consciousness always has an object of which I am conscious. So while the realization of my identity as the "I am" is very much closer to reality than the idea that "I am so-and-so, a person" it is still a step away from the final realization of the absolute, that I am the non- dual awareness which is allowing the consciousness to be conscious. Awareness is that which is shining through the consciousness, but it is beyond the consciousness itself. So " awareness" is different from "consciousness" in Nisargadatta's talks. The pure awareness is the absolute, without which there can be no consciousness.

Another way he puts it is that the awareness "is that by which I know that I am." Thus the awareness is there before the "I am" (or consciousness) appears, and is there after the consciousness disappears (unconsciousness or death). So the awareness is beyond even the universal consciousness. Another way that he put this astonishing distinction is by saying that the absolute is "awareness unaware of itself." That statement of his is almost like a Zen koan, but I think the idea is of an awareness without a trace of distinction or duality. He speaks of it as "shining," and of it being an uncaused mystery. This is even beyond our idea of God, so he does not call it "God" but simply says "the absolute," or the ultimate reality, beyond time, which ever was and ever will be.

So while consciousness is always conscious OF something (dual), awareness is not OF something, it is not even aware OF itself, and thus is absolutely singular, nondual.

This difference between his use of the words "consciousness" and "awareness" took me a long time to grasp, because we don't really make this distinction in ordinary common English. Being conscious or being aware are thought of as the same. But Nisargadatta uses the terms differently and difference is a great key, I think, to understanding what he is trying to convey to us.

I was amazed when I first realized that he had played a kind of "trick" in leading us from one realization to another. This is the trick: first he is telling us to realize that we are really the "sense of presence" or the "sense of beingness," and when we finally realize that he turns us around to the next higher realization and says what seems to be the opposite: "NO, you are not that "I Am" either! You are beyond the beingness, beyond the consciousness, beyond the sense of presence, you are the pure awareness only by which the conscious has been able to come into being: you are the absolutely pure original awareness only." This latter realization can only proceed out of the former realization. First I must realize that I am the "I am," the universal consciousness, then out of that I can realize that I am NOT the "I am!" I am actually the absolute only, and nothing else REALLY exists at all! Everything else is no more real than a dream.

This is just breathtaking to me! No one else but Nisargadatta has ever made that line of realization clear to me. It is utterly simple, really, but difficult to stay with and crack open. Elegant but subtle. That is why he tells us that we must become completely obsessed with it. We must develop an intense NEED TO KNOW. You can't just play with it and expect to get anywhere. When he describes the time before his own realization he says that he was thinking and pondering about this nearly every single waking moment! He was OBSESSED to find out what he really was! The usual playing with words has no significance at that level of constant meditation. It simply becomes a life and death matter to really find out for oneself what one is. This is religion at it deepest level, the actual breakthrough into the absolute reality.

So the consciousness and the pure awareness are quite different really, although the consciousness can only exist because of the prior shining of pure awareness. The awareness, on the other hand, does not depend on any way whatsoever on the consciousness, and is not even touched by it. The consciousness comes and goes, waking and sleeping, birth and death, but the awareness is always there. The consciousness suddenly appears in the morning on top of the birthless and deathless ever existing pure nondual awareness. Other than that absolute, there is really nothing.

Another interesting thing that is confusing at first is how Nisargadatta keeps hammering away at the question about "When did you first appear? What was that exact moment when you first knew that you ARE?" That is a very difficult question, but he says it is of extreme importance to contemplate. I can't remember when I first knew that I was! I have no idea! Isn't that rather mysterious in itself? I still puzzle over this a lot but I am beginning to suspect that perhaps his stressing of this question might be to prepare us for the final realization: that I am NOT that "I Am." In other words, this "I am" had a beginning, seemed to appear out of nowhere, and it will have an end. So I must be beyond that "I am," because I am the knower of that "I am." I am not actually the "I am" but rather THAT which is aware of the "I am."

It took me years to figure this much out. Each realization builds on and becomes possible because of the previous realizations, and the final realization can even seem to contradict a previous realization.

1. First I realize I am not all this other stuff that people usually think they are. I am not a person. The person is memories, knowledge, habits, and other false identies: "Mr. So- and-so." So I dispense with that. I can see that it is all a false identity made up by thoughts.

2. Then I realize I am not even the more intimate stuff that people usually think they are. I am not the body (that is the toughest one, as Nisargadatta points out again and again). I am not the mind or its thoughts either. I am not the chemistry of all this either. One could spend an entire lifetime and not ever get through this realization.

3. Then I realize that if I subtract all the above, what is left? Only my sense of existing itself, my sense of presence, my sense of being here, the consciousness. I realize that I am that consciousness only, the feeling of existing. I must be THAT. What IS that? It is very subtle. But now I am coming closer. This is the realization of the mystical phrase "I am that I am." And along with this stage of realization comes the realization of my universality. This realization of the "I am" brings with it the explosive understanding that there is no such thing as an individual, the "I am" is universal, everyone and every living thing is feeling it the same way. We don't ourselves create our sense of "I am." Rather we inherit the prior existing sense of presence of the original beingness which spontaneously first appeared on the background of the void, or the object-less pure awareness.

4. When I am thus established in sense of identity with this universal sense of presence, or the "I am," I am at last poised for the final realization. Remember, the realization of the "I am" is already a very high state, and many will simply stop here to enjoy living in the universal personless beingness. This is the knowledge of God and the knowledge that I am God. But some rare ones keep going and keep questioning deeper and come to the breakthrough realization that ALL beingness, even the beingness of "God" is still a form of illusion and duality, and they will realize and move into and "become" the pure awareness only, giving up even that last and very high identity as the universal "I am." The consciousness will continue on no doubt, and the all the activities of life, but the identity of myself will now be fixed back at its original home, the pure awareness which was prior to consciousness.

This last step is still incomprehensible to me but I love to think about it again and again. Many can give up the lesser false identifications, casting them off like tattered old clothes and stripping naked down to the singular universal consciousness. But who can give up that very sense of beingness itself? We LOVE to be, and fear terribly not being anymore. It is frightening! Looked at from a lower level the final realization seems like absolute and utter annihilation itself, and who on earth wants to be completely annihilated? Thus, very few rare souls ever realize the final realization! Above all, I WANT TO BE!

But the true sage makes the final realization and the final step and is in fact completely annihilated. "He" ceases to exist, and all that is left of him is what was there at the beginning of the world, as Buddha became the Void itself and entered into the great nirvana. A friend of mine called it "The Great Suicide." Then one realizes the final incredible and terrifying reality: there is nothing. And though really and truly there is absolutely nothing, at the same time that nothingness is inexplicably filled to fullness with an indescribable "something which is not a thing," the pure awareness, the absolute, unaware of itself. That is the one and only "thing-which-is-not- a-thing" which is truly real. All else is false, a fraud made of spacetime, of things which begin and end and come and go, the Great Maha Maya, the dreams of the universal mind.

That a human creature can realize THAT is a miracle to me, a miracle in this incredible dream-Creation. The whole thing boggles the mind. The mind cannot grasp it, because the mind is too limited. As all the sages have sung, it is not a matter of gaining anything, it is just a matter of removing stuff, and removing more stuff, until that which was always there begins to shine through. Certainly I can't CREATE the ultimate reality. All I can do is clean the mirror so that light of the incomprehensible pure awareness can reflect through the mirror and shine. That is why Nisargadatta says that self realization is very simple and easy, and yet it is very subtle and difficult. Removing all the dirt from the mirror is not so easy as it might seem, although that is really all that needs to be done.

Above all, in contemplating all this, one feels sometimes like bowing down and thanking heaven that sages like Nisargadatta, and so many others, especially in ancient times (like the "satya yuga" or age of truth), have taken birth and shown the way. As N. points out, our lives, if we sum it all up, are primarily an experience of suffering overall. One thing or another, from birth to death, there are endless problems, unfulfilled desires, struggle and effort, and suffering. Now and then a few happy moments to keep us going. In fact, if there were no such possibility as realization and liberation one might well say that suicide were a preferable way out and an answer to the sufferings of life.

But that awareness has broken through in the cases of so many sages and saints and proven throughout all of human history that a glorious freedom is indeed possible. From the ancient Vedas and Upanishads to the teachings of the Christ, again and again, certain rare ones have demonstrated to mankind that evolution into the likes of angels is possible. For this we must be ever grateful throughout our journeys, and follow the teachings and instructions of those like Nisargadatta, with great earnestness, love and joy.



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