28 May 2010

Chapter Four
Nisargadatta on the structure of self

Rajiv Kapur

The word ‘I AM’ or Beingness was a word used extensively by Maharaj in almost all of his discourses. He considered it to be the most valuable tool for effective Sadhana for Self- Realization. He made it clear that it was not the word ‘I AM’ but the wordless ‘IAM’, the IAMness or Pure beingness, which a seeker needed to latch on and explore it in all its manifestations. The term ‘Pure Being’ or IAMness is not just an ordinary sense of existence which a seeker experiences in his normal waking state of Consciousness but rather extends far beyond it, traveling downwards into the subtle dream state and even further down into the Causal deep sleep state of Consciousness. The Quotes given below of Maharaj clearly indicate this fact and also about the importance of regular and intensive meditation in order to realize or stabilize ourselves in that state of pure beingness or IAMness.

The quotes given below have various hidden subtle truths. In the light of my meditative experiences and the blessings of my Master Edji and Nisargadatta Maharaj, I have managed courage to provide few hints and insights in form of my comments. I hope it can serve some purpose for the hard working meditator.

                        NISARGADATTA MAHARAJ QUOTES

                      ON “IAM” AND ITS CHARACTERISTICS

When you are space you are no more the body, but whatever is contained in the space, and the space, you are. You are now manifest-whatever is known-the space.


Comment : The above quote is indicative of the state of Oneness with the totality of Consciousness (Universal Consciousness). This is state experienced when one transcends the I-thought. Most Sadhakas are stuck at this level but this is mostly one form of IAMness--the waking state part of Consciousness--and not the IAMness in its entirety. That is why Maharaj said in the below two quotes:

Now, consciousness has identified with a form. Later, it understands that it is not that form and goes further. In a few cases it may reach the (entirety of)  space (the void), and very often, there it stops.


People will stop only at seeing the manifest. Who will go behind the manifest and see that the manifest and unmanifest are not two-they are one?

(Comment: That is most people stop with the visible, what is presented in waking consciousness, such as the totality of space, or the specific objects of the world, or ones inner images and thinking.)

The manifest is seen as light while the unmanifest as dark but “what is” is the same thing-THAT WHICH PERCEIVES BOTH.


(Comment:  From the above comments Maharaj clearly points out to the fact that most will stop at what is seen or perceived, the manifested form of Consciousness (gross and astral states) but no one pays attention to the unmanisfested form. The unmanifested dark state of nothingness or non-knowingness is the Causal state. And that which lies beyond both these states and perceives them is the Absolute or the real Self.  The term ‘IAM’ or Consciousness hence is much more than just ‘what is’ or “is-ness.”

One must never stop effort just because one has seen through the illusion of the I-thought and ego and attained oneness with the totality of waking consciousness, which itself is only a part of the manifest. This is the mistake of the neo-Advaitins.

Given below are the various quotes of Maharaj which will prove that the ‘IAM’ is much more subtle than what is perceived as ordinary waking state or the manifest (perceivable) form of Consciousness. The unmanifest form (Causal body or state, unknowing or the non-being state) is very much part of IAMness and it too needs to be transcended through intense meditation.

If this part of Consciousness (unmanifest Causal state) is ignored and not known through meditational practices and keen observation, then ignorance and attachment to the unreal remains. A serious seeker must not amuse himself with few achievements happening on waking and subtle levels but go deeper, much deeper and get to know all the manifestations and phenomenon’s taking place at all levels namely the gross, subtle and causal states.)

Discover all you are not. Body, feelings, thoughts, ideas, time, space, being and not being, this or that. This witnessing is essential for the separation of the Self from the not Self.


That causal body, which is very minute, needs to be known. By meditation you can know it. The quality of that causal body takes on the appearance of the consciousness and the form.


(Comment: That is waking consciousness is an appearance or artifact of something deeper, the causal body, the unknowing and unknown state that must be passed through in meditation.)

Even in the highest saints there is always some doubt about the clarity of ‘I AM’ and this enquiry of what I am must be gone into at any and all levels.


My sleep is not the kind you have, it is pure Consciousness. When I sleep there is awareness of total manifestation and also the unmanifest.


From deep sleep to waking state, what is it? It is the ‘I AM’ state with no words.


Behold, the deep sleep in which there is no notion of being this or that. Yet the ‘I AM’ remains.


You will not comprehend exactly what it means, but as you get established in beingness and transcend that, you will understand how you are beyond deep sleep and waking state, because those are characteristics of the beingness.


All the three states- of waking, dreaming and sleeping- are subjective, personal, intimate. They all happen and are contained within the little bubble in Consciousness, called ‘I’.

(I AM THAT PG 281)

When you say ‘I am’ it includes waking, sleep and beingness, the ‘I am’ knowledge includes these.


This knowingness “I AM” which came spontaneously and you felt gradually is the ignorant–child-principle, the Balkrishna State.

Here “Bal” means the child principle and “Krishna” means “non-knowing”

(Quote 103 and 104 of Nisargadatta Gita by Pradeep Apte)

Not only the Conscious but the unconscious as well should be taken care of in our spiritual practice.

(I AM THAT PG 447)

It is only a rare who understands what I am driving at. To a normal spiritual person we have to say, “You do this or that and you will get benefit” But we can’t help because he has no capacity to understand the subtlest aspect of this spirituality. At the most I would say, “You know you are; you worship that “I AM” principle. You worship that, be one with that only, and that “I Amness will disclose all the knowledge.” That’s all I will say, but the subtlest part is this, from deep sleep to waking state. To abide in that. You must go to that limit, but it is very difficult.


(Comment:  From the above it is very clear that the term IAMness, for him, is much more inclusive than the term ‘I’ as used by the neo-Advaitins, and there are various subtle levels involved in it. In fact Maharaj refrained from disclosing the highest truth to general seekers because of the subtleties and lack of understanding in them.  Many take his message on the surface and don’t attempt to take notice of these subtle hidden truths. It is impossible to take notice of the finer aspects of IAMness without constant effort in meditation to explore them. Below are a few quotes of Maharaj pointing to the importance of meditation and keen observation as tools to understand the subtleties involved.)

No external activity can reach the inner Self; worship and prayers remain on the surface only; to go deeper meditation is essential, as well as a striving to go beyond the states of sleep, dream and waking.

(I AM THAT PG 447)

First of all there is the knowingness “IAM”, without words, with that knowingness, the world is. Now when the seeker goes into meditation, that knowingness goes into non-knowingness. This is the highest in the hierarchy when the body aspect is there because this knowing and no-knowing are aspects of the body, and body means Consciousness, and in the realm of Consciousness, knowingness and no-knowingness both exists.


This is the stage where you are-you are not; that is the borderline. The moment you know you are, duality is there, when you do not know you are, you are perfect, but you must go through this process. In deep sleep you do not know you are, but that is grosser state. In this active state you must recede into the state of no-knowingness.


(Comment: Maharaj states clearly “you must go through the process” but NOT in the grosser state of unaware deep sleep state but in an active, investigating striving. From that aware state of knowingness you move into no-knowingness (borderline) Causal state. This is possible only through deep meditation.)

In deep meditation my Guru indicated how this form and beingness came together and also, the world. That was indicated to me in deep meditation.


(Comment: This is the highest state of deep meditation. The nature of beingness (origin), world and the form are all disclosed in this state. This state is not possible to achieve without the help of Guru. The Guru in Subtle form reveals this secret and guides the road ahead.)

To turn beingness into no-beingness, assiduously follow meditation or else you will be like a calf frisking. Be in meditation and you will stabilize, and then stop there.

Deep Sleep state is something like block of ice; nothing is there, then the warmth is taking place, and with that warmth you feel that you are. This is quite an elevated state


(Comment : The “block of ice” is purely an experiential part of Meditation. Page 49 of the book Autobiography of a Jnani explains this process in detail. Edji guided me to this most beautiful state. It is the state of knowingness and no-knowingness, beingness and no-beingness. This is pure beingness state, the Turiya.  But still it is a state. The one beyond this state cannot be called a state. It cannot be called as anything. It just is.


  1. Thank you Ed and Rajiv, these essays are very insightful, clarifying and definitive. I’m wondering where you will go with this series next, and have a question for you to consider. The Nisargadatta Gita talks about the Absolute being “tricked “ by I Am, into believing it is limited, almost as if the Absolute were some doddering old fool who accidently wandered into the wrong part of town and had his wallet stolen, with all his identity papers, and now can’t remember who he is. It doesn’t make sense to me that the Absolute would make such a mistake, and yet, here we all apparently are! Maybe this is just a way of talking about something that can’t really be explained? Maybe I’m just looking at it from the wrong side of I Am, but I’d appreciate hearing what each of you understand about this question. Wouldn’t understanding how we got into this mess in the first place, help us to get out of it? Thank you.

  2. Anything Maharaj says must be taken with a grain of salt and not accepted as literal truth. Ditto Robert who often said outrageous things.

    The word Absolute and the word consciousness, are just words. Don't let them trap you into believing there is some reality connected to them that can be explained and has mechanics.

    All that is philosophy and in no way helps anyone to see through the illusions.

  3. Jeff the question "How we got into this mess in the first place?" can never be answered. No one recalls prior to birth states. There are no questions in the Absolute state. Questions arise with the appearance of I AMness.
    "What are we to do now that the mess has happened" is the question we need to address first. Later by virtue of Sadhana the 'How, when, where' of the I AMness is understood on its own and in that sense the mess called I AMness becomes a blessing. The workings of I AMness and its relation with the Absolute becomes clear in deep meditation while we are still in this body. We only have to be earnest and willing enough and be blessed to have a Guru like Edji guiding us all along. Rare are teachers like Edji who want us to transcend words and abide in the wordless through our own experience rather than words of others.


  4. Thank you again for your clear and direct words, Ed and Rajiv. I see now that my question assumes that what I am asking about is a real thing, and that it is worthy of concern, manipulation or even guilt. (i.e. sometimes I feel I must have done something wrong to have ended up in this state.) This is where I find myself, but you give me courage to believe I don’t need to stay here!

  5. Good Jeff, Nothing is real except you. Only you can find you by looking for you inside. Everything else is just words, images, or the transient phenomena of the world--none worth your bother.

    When you find you, your mission, if you are to have one, becomes clear.

  6. It was a very insightful article.
    Thank you Edji and Rajiv Bhaiya..

  7. Edji & Rajivji, Thank you for the map to nowhere and the vehicle of practice. This seems as close to what this feels like for me after decades of false starts, neo-Advaita, paradox, confusion. I am deeply grateful for your guidance.

    Pranams, Chris