Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - about "I Am That"

Nisarga Yoga

In the humble abode of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, but for the
electric lights and the noises of the street traffic, one would not
know in which period of human history one dwells. There is an
atmosphere of timelessness about his tiny room; the subjects
discussed are timeless — valid for all times; the way they are
expounded and examined is also timeless; the centuries, mil-
lennia and yugas fall off and one deals with matters immensely
ancient and eternally new.
The discussions held and teachings given would have been
the same ten thousand years ago and will be the same ten
thousand years hence. There will always be conscious beings
wondering about the fact of their being conscious and enquiring
into its cause and aim. Whence am I? Who am I? Whither am I?
Such questions have no beginning and no end. And it is crucial to
know the answers, for without a full understanding of oneself,
both in time and in timelessness, life is but a dream, imposed on
us by powers we do not know, for purposes we cannot grasp.
Maharaj is not a learned man. There is no erudition behind his
homely Marathi; authorities he does not quote, scriptures are
rarely mentioned; the astonishingly rich spiritual heritage of India
is implicit in him rather than explicit. No rich Ashram was ever
built round him and most of his followers are humble working
people cherishing the opportunity of spending an hour with him
from time to time.
Simplicity and humility are the keynotes of his life and teach-
ings; physically and inwardly he never takes the higher seat; the
essence of being on which he talks, he sees in others as clearly
as he sees it in himself. He admits that while he is aware of it,
others are not yet, but this difference is temporary and of little
importance, except to the mind and its ever-changing content.
When asked about his Yoga, he says he has none to offer, no
system to propound, no theology, cosmogony, psychology or
philosophy. He knows the real nature — his own and his listeners’
— and he points it out. The listener cannot see it because he
cannot see the obvious, simply and directly. All he knows, he
knows with his mind, stimulated by the senses. That the mind is a
sense in itself, he does not even suspect.
The *Nisarga Yoga, the ‘natural’ Yoga of Maharaj, is discon-
certingly simple — the mind, which is all-becoming, must recog-
nize and penetrate its own being, not as being this or that, here or
there, then or now, but just timeless being.
This timeless being is the source of both life and conscious-
ness. In terms of time, space and causation it is all-powerful,
being the causeless cause; all-pervading, eternal, in the sense of
being beginningless, endless and ever-present. Uncaused, it is
free; all-pervading, it knows; undivided, it is happy. It lives, it
loves, and it has endless fun, shaping and re-shaping the uni-
verse. Every man has it, every man is it, but not all know them-
selves as they are, and therefore identify themselves with the
name and shape of their bodies and the contents of their consciousness.
To rectify this misunderstanding of one’s reality, the only way is
to take full cognizance of the ways of one’s mind and to turn it into
an instrument of self-discovery. The mind was originally a tool in
the struggle for biological survival. It had to learn the laws and
ways of Nature in order to conquer it. That it did, and is doing, for
mind and Nature working hand-in-hand can raise life to a higher
level. But, in the process the mind acquired the art of symbolic
thinking and communication, the art and skill of language. Words
became important. Ideas and abstractions acquired an appear-
ance of reality, the conceptual replaced the real, with the result
that man now lives in a verbal world, crowded with words and
dominated by words.
Obviously, for dealing with things and people words are ex-
ceedingly useful. But they make us live in a world totally symbolic
and, therefore, unreal. To break out from this prison of the verbal
mind into reality, one must be able to shift one’s focus from the
word to what it refers to, the thing itself.
The most commonly used word and most pregnant with feel-ings, and ideas is the word ‘I’. Mind tends to include in it anything
and everything, the body as well as the Absolute. In practice it
stands as a pointer to an experience which is direct, immediate
and immensely significant. To be, and to know that one is, is
most important. And to be of interest, a thing must be related to
one’s conscious existence, which is the focal point of every
desire and fear. For, the ultimate aim of every desire is to en-
hance and intensify this sense of existence, while all fear is, in its
essence, the fear of self-extinction.
To delve into the sense of ‘I’ — so real and vital — in order to
reach its source is the core of the Nisarga Yoga. Not being
continuous, the sense of ‘I’ must have a source from which it flows
and to which it returns. This timeless source of conscious being is
what Maharaj calls the self-nature, self-being, swarupa.
As to methods of realizing one’s supreme identity with the
self-being, Maharaj is peculiarly non-committal. He says that
each has his own way to reality, and that there can be no
general rule. But, for all the gateway to reality, by whatever road
one arrives to it, is the sense of ‘I am’. It is through grasping the
full import of the ‘I am’, and going beyond it to its source, that
one can realize the supreme state, which is also the primordial
and the ultimate. The difference between the beginning and the
end lies only in the mind. When the mind is dark or turbulent: the
source is not perceived. When it is clear and luminous, it
becomes a faithful reflection of the source. The source is always
the same — beyond darkness and light, beyond life and depth,
beyond the conscious and the unconscious.
This dwelling on the sense ‘I am’ is the simple, easy and natural
Yoga, the Nisarga Yoga. There is no secrecy in it and no depen-
dence; no preparation is required and no initiation. Whoever is
puzzled by his very existence as a conscious being and ear-
nestly wants to find his own source, can grasp the ever-present
sense of ‘I am’ and dwell on it assiduously and patiently, till the
clouds obscuring the mind dissolve and the heart of being is
seen in all its glory.
The Nisarga Yoga, when persevered in and brought to its
fruition, results in one becoming conscious and active in what
one always was unconsciously and passively. There is no differ-
ence in kind — only in manner — the difference between a lump
of gold and a glorious ornament shaped out of it. Life goes on, but
it is spontaneous and free, meaningful and happy.
Maharaj most lucidly describes this natural, spontaneous
state, but as the man born blind cannot visualize light and col-
ours, so is the unenlightened mind unable to give meaning to
such descriptions. Expressions like dispassionate happiness,
affectionate detachment, timelessness and causelessness of
things and being — they all sound strange and cause no response.
Intuitively we feel they have deep meaning, and they
even create in us a strange longing for the ineffabIe, a forerunner
of things to come, but that is all. As Maharaj puts it: words are
pointers, they show the direction but they will not come along with
us. Truth is the fruit of earnest action, words merely point the way.

Maurice Frydman

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