Nisargadatta on the structure of self
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.
(PRIOR TO CONSCIOUSNESS PG 147)
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.
(CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE ABSOLUTE PG 13)
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.
(PRIOR TO CONSCIOUSNESS PG 110)
(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.
(I AM THAT PG 27)
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.
(CONSCIOUSNESS AND ABSOLUTE PG 51)
(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.
(PRIOR TO CONSCIOUSNESS PG 123)
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.
(PRIOR TO CONSCIOUSNESS PG 128)
From deep sleep to waking state, what is it? It is the ‘I AM’ state with no words.
(PRIOR TO CONSCIOUSNESS PG 50)
Behold, the deep sleep in which there is no notion of being this or that. Yet the ‘I AM’ remains.
(FOREWORD I AM THAT)
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.
(PRIOR TO CONSCIOUSNESS PG 22)
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.
(I AM UNBORN PG 40)
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.
(PRIOR TO CONSCIOUSNESS PG 50)
(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.
(PRIOR TO CONSCIOUSNESS PG 153)
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.
(PRIOR TO CONSCIOUSNESS PG 51)
(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.
(I AM UNBORN PG 76)
(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.
(I AM UNBORN PG 69)
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
(PRIOR TO CONSCIOUSNESS PG 136)
(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.