What is awareness? Is the ‘word’ awareness the actual awareness itself? No, the acquired word or language is never the thing that it is pointing to. The word awareness is not awareness. Any word that we use is only a label we apply to this nameless essence that is the very livingness that is life. Life in itself is timeless, the everlasting life referred to in the scriptures, and there is no death in it. Death is only for the “me”, the ego, the imagined separate entity. This life that is being pointed to lives on itself and so it is ever increasing.
If it is looked at closely, that is at zero degrees from where you are looking or seeing; right there at zero degrees is your “glassy essence” that Shakespeare referred to in his play, ‘Measure for Measure’ – “Man, proud man, dressed in a little brief authority(that short lived body-mind entity or persona) and ignorant of what he is most assured, his ‘glassy essence’(his transparency-emptiness), like an angry ape plays such tricks before the high heaven as would make the angels weep.”
This glassy essence, this Such-ness, or what we call That, in the maha vakya or great mantra of Advaita Vedanta in Hinduism – I am That! is life, the activity of knowing, the very livingness itself. Indicating that there is only life, there is no one who lives a life. There is not life – the animating life-force or life essence, the very godliness of you so to speak, and a separate or imagined entity or person Mr or Mrs So and So who is living a life. Life is what we call That, for the want of a better word; as no word, concept or symbol can possibly encompass this very actuality of what is, this non dual Absolute or “glassy essence”.
This being the case, then you must be life, you are life; you are That non dual Absolute, the everlasting life that is referred to in all of the major religions – I am That! Thou art That! All this is That! and possibly the greatest statement ever uttered or written – I am That I am! from the King James Bible. In spite of this one seems to loose sight of this truth of one’s inherent being or essence, as it gets obscured or covered up by acquired words, language, and mental concepts in the very process of everyday life or living.
The word is never the thing and this is what needs to be seen. If this is seen then we can use the word with impunity and not be affected, otherwise the word uses us and is the cause of much psychological suffering. It is the word that tells us that we are not good enough, that we are limited, we are only human, we had a bad childhood, we have low self-esteem and so on. All, and I mean all of these concepts, words, and labels have been added and acquired by the assumed personal entity only after or around the age of two years old or so. Just see that you are not born with any words at all, the little child or baby is functioning quite naturally and spontaneously from the natural state for the first two years of life without even a single word or concept. What does this tell you? Christ in the New Testament – Unless you become as little children, natural and innocent, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven – “what is” prior to the world, prior to the the acquired and learn ed senses; and the world of phenomena or “appearance” is only imagination conjured up by learn ed words, concepts, and the different languages created by human beings for practical purposes only.
“The world even as it appears is only a concept, it is dream-like and unreal” – Nisargadatta Maharaj.
Thought is subtle word, and word is nothing but sound, vibration or energy. Thought being a vibration or movement of energy has to vibrate into the opposites. There is no other way that thought can function except dualistic ally in contrast or in the opposites. Good-bad, happy-sad, like-dislike, loving-hating etc. If this is understood then thought is not a problem and it can be useful and is not the enemy. However, if thought is not understood and is taken to be something substantial and tangible with an independent nature of its own, instead of just pure energy freely vibrating and expressing; and is then allowed to build up into a big unexamined story, like poor “me”, woe is me, or I am better or worse than others; this then becomes the cause of unnecessary psychological suffering.
And what we are saying here is that this psychological suffering is not necessary if the cause is ‘seen’ to be false. Obviously the cause of all problems and suffering is “me”, the ego, the imagined dead or static entity acquired after the age of two or three years, so that everything that occurs from that age and onwards is then referred back to. All of your problems then are problems of relationship and relationship is dualism , I, and other than I. Relationship means relative to. Relative to what? Relative to this dead image “me”, “I”, this phantom that comes into existence around the age of two years, the primal thought, the “I” thought, the ego, engendered by the parents, teachers, and society, which from then on becomes something solid, concrete and substantial, and it is never questioned from then on. No wonder then that there is conflict, separation, and confusion from then on when I am then pretending to be something or someone that I am not – this separate, limited, ‘person’ or thing. What we are saying is that there is no relationship in non duality! When this is seen that there is not two, never two at any point whatsoever, then all of your problems are solved.
You know, one asks, who is all this happening to? Well , its happening to “me” you say. Have you ever really examined or looked at that “me’? Does it have any substance or independent nature of its own, is it real, actual, and substantial? Have you ever asked yourself this? No, you dare not, because you might see how illusory it really is, you might see for yourself that the “me” that you have been taking yourself to be is unreal, a phantom, and you have too much investment in this mask or persona, this “me” of memory to really question it or see through it to the impersonal essence that is sustaining it and everything else as well. So your psychological suffering continues on unabated, and it will continue on until you question this “me” that you continue to take yourself to be in spite of anything that might be said or pointed to here in this present spontaneous expression. You may be still hoping and praying that someone from outside, some imagined god, guru, or savior will do this inquiry for you, but it is never going to happen like that, simply because there is no duality in non duality, there never has been and there never could be be, there is only THAT non dual Absolute.
Absolute means absolute, and there is nothing that can be added to it or taken away from it, so where exactly does that leave you? It leaves you here and now present and aware as you have always and ever been. This is the very ignorance that is being pointed out here again and again so to speak. You are ignorant of your true nature or natural state, you don’t know who and what you truly and ever are – THIS awake, aware, silence and stillness, THIS no thing at the very core or heart of your being is what you always and ever are.
However, this that is being pointed to is no thing to the mind, just an empty cognizance or naked non conceptual knowing and that is why it is being ignored, because the acquired dead entity, the “me” of memory, the person, does not want to be nothing or no thing; namely this space-like awareness-emptiness that is ever present silence and stillness. And that is the principal reason why, as Nisargadatta Maharaj pointed out to me, that “there are no customers for this knowledge.” The so called hearer naturally resists what is being pointed to here, as generally there is no one in the Maya or world appearance who wants to be nothing or no thing – unborn awareness-emptiness.
April 11, 1981
Maharaj: The core of this consciousness is knowingness, to know “I Am”. It is not a personality, not an individual. It is total manifestation. Being-ness is there, it fills everything.
Nevertheless, this quality “I Am” is the result of the material , objective body. In the seed the whole tree is latent; in the droplet “I Am” all three worlds are squeezed in.
The highest state is the state of a jnani. The first step is to be that droplet. In the process of knowing that droplet, you are out of it, and that is a jnani. A jnani is not obsessed by any calamities or any problems, because he had transcended the “I Am” principal. He watches the play as a witness.
Now, understand clearly. This “droplet” of knowingness is a result of the food essence body; in understanding it, you are out of it. If this last step is taken, knowing that I, the Absolute, am not that “droplet”, the consciousness, it has to happen only once. There is no more involvement with the play of the consciousness. You are in a state of no return, the eternal state.
Whatever you think of as spiritual knowledge was gained in the realm of consciousness; such knowledge is merely a burden on your head and it is going to add more misery. It’s nothing more than spiritual jargon. This “I Am—ness” is the very core of all misery.
Are you in such a position that you cannot employ any words to express your Self? When I answer your questions at great length, you should be reduced to a quietude out of which no words can come.
I expound this knowledge completely and thoroughly. Have you the courage to accept it?
If you have really understood what I have told you, you need not come again. Do not try to tell these things to all and sundry, just don’t speak of this elsewhere.
In spite of Nisargadatta’s indication here that this knowledge or teaching is not for the general public, or for all and sundry as such; and that generally one should keep quiet about this, simply imbibe what he is saying for yourself and resist the temptation to blab about this to other ignorant seekers and immature folk in general. Others who were present there in the loft room at 10th Lane Khetwadi, Bombay, around the time that I was present there for 11 months during 1976-77, and then onwards to his death in September 1981, could not help themselves and so took it on themselves to blurt out this non dual teaching to everyone and anyone who might happen to come along. Nisargadatta Maharaj did not give permission to anyone to speak on his behalf.
I won’t mention any names here, but you will know who I am referring to , as some of these folk have gained a small following and some name and fame in trying to popularise this and make it into some type of pop guru phenomena that every Tom, Dick, or Harry, regardless of whether or not there is any genuine earnestness or passion for Self-knowledge on their part, can easily grasp and take delivery of. Needless to say then that they had zero success in passing this on to anyone and everyone who listens to them; as generally the listeners are listening out of curiosity and so have turned this authentic teaching expression into an entertainment. This Self-knowledge does not come at such a cheap price, and it costs you the world, your pride, and your ego; a price which very, very few are prepared to pay. It is rare that anyone really grasps this or takes delivery of it, in spite of everything that has been said by these self-appointed authorities and gurus.
It was reported that a lot of these folk who attended the meetings of these self-appointed gurus were helped in the general functioning of their worldly lives. They have their reward then – public acclaim and respectability as being very spiritual and knowledgeable; however this is utterly useless because there is still a person or an entity there that is being helped, and what we are saying is that the person in not real! This is directly pointed out in chapter 12 of the now classic book by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj called “I AM THAT”, page 30 of the old edition, the very heading of this chapter reads – The Person is not Reality. Perhaps one might have another read of it some time if there is any genuine interest in this ‘great matter’ of know thyself. You have to be beyond the need for any help whatsoever, and a total light to your Self with the fearless courage to ‘be’ as nothing or no thing, the courage to stand alone, One without a second so to speak, independent of any and all authority, empty of all personal history and self-importance.
“I do not want meek and humble disciples, I want them to be powerful, as I am. I do not make disciples, I make Gurus.
I want you to jump into the test tube in the process of this investigation.”
“You are tenaciously clinging to the body as yourself. You must have a firm conviction that you are not the body, and not even the consciousness in the being-ness.
Nothing is useful, no talk is useful when one is by oneself. When one subsides in one’s true identity, nothing matters, because nothing is. When “I” subsides, its all awareness.”
“The greatest challenge lies in looking at oneself - by being “alone” with oneself.”
“Not only is the body-mind unreal, but this manifest consciousness, this universe, is also unreal. The “I Am-ness” is dream-like, ephemeral.
Even the feeling of having understood is likely to lead one into a sense of illusion, because the individual thinks that he has found something to impart to others, but there is no individual.
It is easy to get totally lost when juggling words, by attaching too much importance to them. Just remember that the total functioning of the manifest happens through the friction of the five elements, and the talking which takes place is part of the total functioning. There is no question of anyone seeking a particular benefit for himself as an individual teacher.
Man identifies with the gross form, he neither recognises nor identifies with the manifest consciousness. All the activities go on because of the consciousness, but no one really understands it.”
A bit of a wake up call and a shock to the whole system, if what is said there really hits home, and it dawns on you that you have been carried away by words and concepts and living in your head for most of your life, and so have ignored this dynamic fully manifest consciousness. Ignorance is not bliss it is fear and insecurity, dense impenetrable darkness, a constant sense of lack and not being good enough, and constant psychological suffering.
Are you unaware right here and now, presently? No, you are not unaware, you are quite obviously aware. That awareness may be obscured by by a lot of thoughts, words, and concepts spontaneously arising on it, yet it is still ever-present or what we might call Omnipresent - I am That impersonal, unborn, non conceptual, awareness or essence, this alone is the truth that makes you free. But I don’t want THAT you see, I want to be something or someone, So and So who is apart from THAT Absolute, and this can never happen, so you can see my problem can’t you? I as the entity So and So insist on and prefer to be separate and apart from this limitless space of knowing which is an impossibility.
Is there any static point in space? Does space have any fixed reference point, any centre or circumference to it? How can space have any centre when space is nothing at all in that sense? This space of knowing, and you are knowing right now, doesn’t stand out, it has no dimensions, no form, no colour, no beginning or ending, no qualities of its own so to speak. SEE this space from the space itself, look now, at your immensity…..from your immensity….be that immensity…don’t think about it simply be still, be THAT. Man has to cease for it to be.
Nirvana ‘is’ when “me” the person is not! Nirvana is the highest good, the highest happiness, the un-become, the unmade, the unborn, the end of all sorrow and suffering, and the good news is, that – ‘Nirvana is visible in this life, inviting, attractive, accessible to the wise disciple.
The wheel is broken; the desire less is attained.
The river bed is dry; no water flow-eth;
No more the broken wheel will roll.
This is the end of sorrow.
The ridge pole is split and all the rafters are broken.
Oh house builder, you have been fully seen through and detected.
Never again to build this house of pain;
Hence safe pass I to deliverance.
If you take delivery of what is being pointed to here, you, just like the Buddha will also be able to say this with total and firm conviction. This body-mind is something new and recent to you is it not? It was not there 100 years or so back, and it is rather short lived. How and what were you prior to conception in the womb? I know my true position, and how I was prior to the arising of the consciousness and prior to conception, and this you must also know if you want to be free of all suffering.
Will there be realisation of the Self even while the world is there(taken as real)? There will not be. Why? The seer and the object seen are are like the rope and the snake. Just as the knowledge of the rope which is the substratum will not arise unless the illusory serpent goes, so the realisation of the Self which is the substratum will not be gained unless the belief that the world is real is removed. When will the world which is the object seen be removed? When the mind, which is the cause of all cognition and of all actions, becomes quiescent, the world will disappear.
The mind is a good servant, but a terrible master. Is there a world when the mind is still without any thinking? If you stop the internal dialogue, you stop the world. Is there a mind or a world if you don’t think about it? Without a thought which is the mind using words, thoughts, concepts and labels, can you say anything is good or bad, happy or sad, existing or not existing? No you can’t, you have to go to the mind and thinking even to say, I am So and So. So do you even have a memory if you don’t think about it? No, you don’t! Therefore as Shakespeare contends – “Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so.” So, full stop! Pause the thinking even briefly and notice that the Self, pure being or what we call Sat, is ever-present untouched by any thinking or conceptualising; empty for all things and their qualities and their stresses, you can’t help being different from all that. It is your essential nature to remain unaffected, as unstained and uninjured and unstressed as your TV screen is by all the murders, and shootings and burnings that rage on it. As unsoiled as your mirror is by what it mirrors so faithfully and so unselectively.
Why are you ignorant? Ask yourself that, otherwise you will get nowhere pretending to be what you are not - that separate, miserable ‘person’ that presents its false face to the world every morning. The false can’t stand up to investigation. When you shine the light of inquiry and investigation into the deep and hidden recesses and areas of your mind where all the illusions, memories of pleasure and pain, and all the deep hurts from the dead past that you have been harboring all of your miserable life; and when all this is looked at in the clear light of awareness and it is seen that there is truly no such thing as mind there in that naked light of non conceptual all-knowing awareness, then all of your problems disappear in an instant.
“With a single stroke we are freed from bondage;
nothing clings to us and we hold nothing.
All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,
with no exertion of the mind’s power.
Here thought, feeling, knowledge and imagination
are of no value.
In this world of Such-ness
there is neither self nor other-than-self.
Just be as you are in the natural state. Leave everything “as it is”, don’t try to change anything. Things will change by themselves without your personal intervention. This is what wisdom really is. Wisdom is not ignorance, you are THAT!
“The habit of considering Self as the body has influenced everybody too much. The knowledge “I AM” is your Guru, be in it.
You all go on writing a diary of your own concepts - I tell you, finally, it is utterly useless. It will only serve as an instrument of bondage.”
Good enough. Hearing without ears, seeing without eyes? Hearing without an entity, a “hearer” interpreting everything. Seeing without any entity that is doing the seeing. Notice that the seeing is happening 24/7; the content of the seeing is changing but the ‘seeing’ itself is constant and that you the so called person or entity don’t have to kick start it or make it happen. The seeing is spontaneous and in this clear and empty seeing which is timeless and eternal and goes on forever, you can see forever, there at zero degrees from where the seeing is happening. You are outside time and space, nothing perceivable or conceivable. Time and space are in you the Self, the true seer. It is not the other way round, as it “appears” to be.
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