I, by Myself, Awareness, descend into this consciousness, and in this consciousness I express Myself in manifold ways, in innumerable forms. ~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
“I simply followed (my teacher’s) instruction which was to focus the mind on pure being, ‘I am’, and stay in it. I used to sit for hours together, with nothing but the ‘I am’ in my mind, and soon peace and joy and a deep all-embracing love became my normal state. In it, all disappeared — myself, my Guru, the life I lived, the world around me. Only peace remained, an unfathomable silence.”
In this 3rd installment of our continuing exploration of Awareness & Consciousness, we are pleased to offer a “sampling” of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj’s perspective on this topic (1st installment was with Almaas & Spira and the 2nd with Almaas & Thurman) …
… through a book, Prior to Consciousness, which is available as a FREE downloadable PDF. This book is a transcription of tape recordings made during Q&A sessions with Sri Nisargadatta – that occurred in 1980 and 1981, until his death from cancer in September, 1981, at the age of 84.
Enjoy Sri Maharaj’s profound and laser-sharp teachings … in this brief sample post – with more from his teachings to follow in future …
To effectively grapple with what Sri Nisargadatta has to offer, we as readers need to be completely honest with ourselves and be willing to give up the many concepts to which we are deeply attached. Essentially, we must be willing to take on the challenge of breaking down our cherished sense of “I”.
In the preface to Prior to Consciousness, Jean Dunne, Maharaj’s editor and author of the book’s Preface writes,
Maharaj urged us to find out what this “I” is. He was like a surgeon with a sharp scalpel, cutting away all inessential things…He would not allow any quoting of scriptures – only personal experience.
Most of us identify ourself with the body-mind and so he insisted that we find out what this body-mind is. Did it not come from the sperm of the father and the ovum of the mother? The body then is a product of the food consumed…which is the essence of the five elements. Can we be this? Without consciousness the body is dead material. When consciousness leaves the body there is no individual, no world, and no God. Consciousness can only be conscious of itself when it has manifested in a physical form.
In Sri Nisargadatta’s final couple of years, when the talks for this book were recorded, he was suffering from cancer. He seems to have embodied his teachings in the midst of this fatal illness, says Dunne,
To be in his presence was to feel the vibrant truth, impossible to describe. He was amazing to watch: that “personality” could be happy, angry, sad, gay, sarcastic, or gentle, and a variety of emotion played through that “bundle” like sunlight on water. There was never any attempt to change any of it … let it do its thing, it was not him…although there was no doubt that the form of Sri Maharaj was suffering from cancer, he carried on just as usual with the daily routine of bhajans four times a day, question and answer periods twice daily, although as the body grew weaker these periods were often cut short. It was enough to be in his presence.
Sri Maharaj would not allow his students to hang onto his words and concepts, nor reify them into a religious system … he was dedicated to truth, the kind of truth that one can only discover within oneself.
…Maharaj hammered continuously at our concepts, each time bringing us back to the root when we tried to stray to the leaves and branches. When we tried to hang on to words, even words which he had used, he shot them right out from under us….people want to make the teachings into a system, which ultimately ruins them. But Maharaj doesn’t worry. He just says on Wednesday that red is black, and on Friday that red is white, but the answer is correct at the time, because it changes the orientation of the questioner. It is tremendously valuable and unique.” (Dunne, from the Preface)
Dunne recommends that readers of this book take only a few pages at a time and ponder and meditate over them.
From his November 29,1980 talk, Sri Nisargadatta comments on space, time and manifested consciousness ….
Questioner: This that I am – and the consciousness which is time-bound – what is the relationship?
Maharaj: What is the concept of “I” with which you are trying to find a relationship? This is exactly where the misconception arises.
In this concept of space and time there is total manifestation, in that you consider that you are something separate. There is nothing separate, you are part of the function of the total manifestation.
As Absolute, I am timeless, infinite, and I am awareness, without being aware of awareness. As infinity I express myself as space, as timeless I express myself as time.
Unless there is space and duration I cannot be conscious of myself. When space and time are present there is consciousness, in that the total manifestation takes place and various phenomena come into being.
I, by Myself, Awareness, descend into this consciousness, and in this consciousness I express Myself in manifold ways, in innumerable forms. This is the crux, the framework of manifestation; there is no question of any individuality.
And … from the December 7, 1980 talk, Sri Maharaj responds to a student’s statement about experiencing the Ultimate …
The Absolute cannot be experienced. It is not an objective affair.
When I am unicity then that is pure awareness which is not aware of its awareness, and there can be no subject and object – therefore there can be no witnessing. Any manifestation, any functioning, any witnessing, can only take place in duality.
There has to be a subject and an object, they are two, but they are not two, they are two ends of the same thing. When consciousness stirs, duality arises.
There are millions of objects, but each object, when it sees another, assumes the subjectivity of the Absolute, although it is an object. I, as an object, perceive and interpret all the other objects, and I assume that I am the subject, and the witnessing takes place.
— — —
“… I realized within myself the truth of his teaching. All I did was to remember his teaching, his face, his words constantly. This brought an end to the mind; in the stillness of the mind I saw myself as I am — unbound.”
The classic book I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj … offers a powerful compilation of his wisdom … so … stay tuned … for more on our True Nature … from this realized being!
I get absorbed in to the article because it opens out to the ultimate