HERMETIC - ESOTERIC - MYSTICAL PHILOSOPHIES
'I AM ' IS TRUE, ALL ELSE IS
(Talks with Sri Nisargatta Maharaj from his illuminating book I AM
THAT. A modern spiritual classic)
conversation between Maharaj and a questioner:
Maharaj: The perceiver of the world, is
he prior to the world, or does he come into being along with the world?
Questioner: What a strange question! Why do you ask such questions?
M: Unless you know the correct answer, you will not find peace.
Q: When I wake up in the morning, the world is already there, waiting for
me. Surely the world comes into being first. I do, but much later, at the
earliest at my birth. The body mediates between me and the world. Without
the body there would be neither me nor the world.
M: The body appears in your mind, your mind is the content of your
consciousness; you are the motionless witness of the river Of
consciousness which changes eternally without changing you in any way.
Your own changelessness is so obvious that you do not notice it. Have a
good look at yourself and all these misapprehensions and misconceptions
will dissolve. Just as all the little watery lives are in water and cannot
be without water, so all the universe is in you and cannot be without you.
Q: We call it God.
M: God is only an idea in your mind. The fact is you. The only thing you
know for sure is: 'here and now I am'. Remove, the 'here and now' the 'I
am' remains, unassailable. The word exists in memory, memory comes into
consciousness; consciousness exists in awareness and awareness is the
reflection of the light on the waters of existence.
Q: Still I do not see how can the world be in me when the opposite 'I am
in the world1 is so obvious.
M: Even to say 'I am the world, the world is me', is a sign of ignorance.
But when I keep in mind and confirm in life my identity with the world, a
power arises in me which destroys the ignorance, burns it up completely.
Q: Is the witness of ignorance separate from ignorance? Is not to say: 'I
am ignorant' a part of ignorance?
M: Of course. All I can say truly is: 'I am', all else is inference. But
the inference has become a habit. Destroy all habits of thinking and
seeing. The sense 'I am' is the manifestation of a deeper cause, which you
may call self, God, Reality or by any other name. The 'I am' is in the
world; but it is the key which can open the door out of the world. The
moon dancing on the water is seen in the water, but it is caused by the
moon in the sky and not by the water.
Q: Still the main point seems to escape me. I can admit that the world in
which I live and move and have my being is of my own creation, a
projection of myself, of my imagination, on the unknown world, the world
as it is, the world of 'absolute matter', whatever this matter may be. The
world of my own creation may be quite unlike the ultimate, the real world,
just like the cinema screen is quite unlike the pictures projected onto
it. Nevertheless, this absolute world exists, quite independent of myself.
M: Quite so, the world of Absolute Reality, onto which your mind has
projected a world of relative unreality is independent of yourself, for
the very simple reason that it is yourself.
Q: Is there no contradiction in terms? How can independence prove
M: Examine the motion of change and you will see. What can change while
you do not change, can be said to be independent of you. But what is
changeless must be one with whatever else is changeless. For, duality
implies interaction and interaction means change. In other words, the
absolutely material and the absolutely spiritual, the totally objective
and the totally subjective are identical, both in substance and essence.
Q: Like in a tri-dimensional picture, the light forms its own screen.
M: Any comparison will do. The main point to grasp is that you have
projected onto yourself a world of your own imagination, based on
memories, on desires and fears, and that you have imprisoned yourself in
it. Break the spell and be free.
Q: How does one break the spell?
M: Assert your independence in thought and action. After all, all hangs on
your faith in yourself, on the conviction that what you see and hear,
think and feel is real. Why not question your faith? No doubt, this world
is painted by you on the screen of consciousness and is entirely your own
private world. Only your sense 'I am', though in the world, is not of the
world. By no effort of logic or imagination can you change the 'I am' into
'I am not'. In the very denial of your being you assert it. 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! However is the picture, beautiful or ugly, you are painting
it and you are not bound by it. Realize that there is nobody to force it
on you, that it is due to the habit of taking the imaginary to be real.
See the imaginary as imaginary and be free of fear.
Just as the colors in this carpet are brought out by light but light is
not the color, so is the world caused by you but you are not the world.
That which creates and sustains the world, you may call it God or
providence, but ultimately you are the proof that God exists, not the
other way round. For, before any question about God can be put, you must
be there to put it.
Q: God is an experience in time, but the experiencer is timeless.
M: Even the experiencer is secondary. Primary is the infinite expanse of
consciousness, the eternal possibility, the immeasurable potential of all
that was, is, and will be. When you look at anything, it is the ultimate
you see, but you imagine that you see a cloud or a tree.
Learn to look without imagination, to listen without distortion: that is
all. Stop attributing names and shapes to the essentially nameless and
formless, realize that every mode of perception is subjective, that what
is seen or heard, touched or smelt, felt or thought, expected or imagined,
is in the mind and not in reality, and you will experience peace and
freedom from fear.
Even the sense of 'I am' is composed of the pure light and the sense of
being. The I is there even without the 'am'. So is the pure light there
whether you say I or not. Become aware of that pure light and you will
never lose it. The beingness in being, the awareness in consciousness, the
interest in every experience - that is not describable, yet perfectly
accessible, for there is nothing else.
Q: You talk of reality directly -- as the all-pervading, ever-present,
eternal, all-knowing, all-energizing first cause. There are other
teachers, who refuse to discuss reality at all. They say reality is beyond
the mind while all discussions are within the realm of the mind, which is
the home of the unreal. Their approach is negative; they pinpoint the
unreal and thus go beyond it into the real.
M: The difference lies in the words only. After all, when I' talk of the
real, I describe it as not-unreal, space-less, time-less, cause-less,
beginning-less and end-less. It comes to the same. As long as it leads to
enlightenment, what does the wording matter? Does it matter whether you
pull the cart or push it, as long as it is kept rolling? You may feel
attracted to reality at one time and repelled from the false at another;
these are only moods which alternate; both are needed for perfect freedom.
You may go one way or another but each time it will be the right way at
the moment; just go whole-heartedly, don't waste time on doubting or
hesitating. Many kinds of food are needed to make the child grow, but the
act of eating is the same. Theoretically all approaches are good. In
practice, and at a given moment, you proceed by one road only. Sooner or
later you are bound to discover that if you really want to find, you must
dig at one place only within.
Neither your body nor mind can give you what you seek the being and
knowing your self and the great peace that comes with it.
Q: Surely there is something valid and valuable in every approach.
M: In each case the value lies in bringing you to the need of seeking
within. Playing with various approaches may be due to resistance to going
within, to the fear of having to abandon the illusion of being something
or somebody in particular. To find water you do not dig small pits all
over the place, but drill deep in one place only. Similarly, to find your
self you have to explore yourself. When you realize that you are the light
of the world, you will also realize that you are the love of it; that to
know is to love and to love is to know.
Of all the affections the love of oneself comes first. Your love of the
world is the reflection of your love of yourself, for your world is of
your own creation. Light and love are impersonal, but they are reflected
in your mind as knowing and wishing oneself well. We are always friendly
towards ourselves, but not always wise. A Yogi is a man whose goodwill is
allied to wisdom.
This is an
excerpt from the classic and
enlightening book: "I AM THAT" -
Sri Nisargata Maharaj - Translated from
the Marathi taperecording by Maurice Frydman - Revised and edited Sudhakar
S. Dikshit - The Acorn Press, Durham, North Carolina.
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