Nisargadatta’s Instructions on Self-Abidance
Nisargadatta’s Instructions on Self-Abidance
Part of the reason for writing this new series of lessons on self-inquiry, is to make it clear that self-inquiry it is not a simple, look inside a few times type of investigation, find no personal entity there, and then consider that enlightenment.
What Rajiv and I are trying to make clear to the seeker, is that all the great Advaita teachers up until the recent split off of the neo-Advaitins, have strongly urged long and intense introspection on one’s inner life, and then abiding in that subjectivity.
Long practice leads to a progressively more sophisticated and powerful discrimination that allows the seeker to apprehend clearly what is real and what is not. Progressive recognition of what is not real is progressive liberation from the vagaries and sufferings of the mind and body. That which is not real then has the same effect as a dreamer realizing the dream now immersed in, is unreal and does not touch him or her, resulting in a greater equanimity, peace and happiness in the most distressing situations.
Then one day, after penetrating through waking consciousness, then the level of thoughts, images and emotions called the subtle body, then the darkness of the causal state, comes one or more liberation or awakening experiences as each level is seen through and totally understood as being unreal, temporary and illusory, with a reversal of the direction of consciousness, now going both inwards and outwards simultaneously. Most of our lives we focus outwards until we begin self-inquiry, which is inwards. After a long such reversal, balance is achieved, and one mind is realized which has no in or out, up or down, good or bad, or objects of any sort.
This teaching then goes beyond the neo advaitin teaching which appears to accept this oneness state as final--the transcendence of thought and the attaining of unity consciousness of oneness in the waking state.
There is no freedom here, because we have not found anything at this level that extends beyond waking consciousness. We have not gone or realized that which is prior to consciousness as is stressed by Robert Adams, Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta.
For this lesson, I tasked Rajiv to pour through the various teachings of Nisargadatta Maharaj to find quotes that clearly point out the need for progressive meditation and the development of and ever sharper discrimination leading to pure Jnana.
He has done an extraordinary job.
Below are the teachings of Nisargadatta on practice and progressive discrimination as arranged and explained by Rajiv Kapur.
N: The indwelling principle ‘ I am’ is common to all and has no attributes; it is the principle of the whole functioning.
(Quote 101 of NISARGADATTA GITA )
N: The only clue you have is your certainty of being. Be with it, play with it, ponder over it, delve deeply into it, till the shell of ignorance breaks open and you emerge into the realm of reality.
(I AM THAT PG 272)
N: Go deep into the sense of ‘I am’ and you will find. The sense of being, of ‘I am’ is the first to emerge. Ask yourself whence it comes, or just watch it quietly. After all the sense ‘I am’ is always with you.
(I AM THAT PG 2)
N: One begins with the lowest levels: social circumstances, customs and habits, physical surroundings, the posture and the breathing of the body, the sense, their sensations and perceptions, the mind, its thoughts and feelings, until the entire mechanism of personality is grasped and firmly held.
(I AM THAT PG 412)
N: If you stay put in beingness the thoughts will get less and less.
(PRIOR TO CONSCIOUSNESS PG 53)
N: People pray to various names and forms, they do not pray to that beingness, that substance, which these names represent. Pray to that beingness only.
(PRIOR TO CONSCIOUSNESS PG 98)
N: Consistently and with perseverance separate the ‘I am’ from ‘this’ or ‘that’, just keep in mind the feeling ‘I am’.
(NISARGADATTA GITA VERSE 3)
N: You are sure of the ‘I am’, it’s the totality of being, remember ‘I am’ and it’s enough to heal your mind and take you beyond.
(NISARGADATTA GITA VERSE 5)
(Comment: From the above quotes of Maharaj it is very clear that the practice he mentions to follow is abidance to ones sense of existence or beingness. He says no matter what it is real or unreal, right or wrong, one thing is certain that is the feeling “I exist” and because I exist everything exists too. Therefore start your Sadhana by catching hold of that feeling of existence or beingness and stay there. Intense practice will be required to discover the various qualities and character of ‘I am’. As practice deepens more and more is revealed by ‘I am’ itself.)
N: Discover all you are not. Body, feelings, thoughts, ideas, time, space, being and not-being, this or that. A mere verbal statement will not do- you may repeat a formula endlessly without any result whatsoever. You must watch yourself continuously –particularly your mind- moment by moment, missing nothing. This witnessing is essential for the separation of the self from the not-self.
(I AM THAT PG 27)
N: The first thing you do after waking up is to meditate on that Consciousness, that “I Amness”, worship that Consciousness for sometime before you start your daily activities. Before you fall asleep at night, again abide in that Consciousness, “I amness”. Be devoted to that.
(PRIOR TO CONSCIOUSNESS PG 64)
N: The word ‘I am’ itself is the bridge. Remember it, think of it, explore it, go around it, look at it from all the directions, dive into it with earnest perseverance; endure all delays and disappointments till suddenly the mind turns around.
(I AM THAT PG 435)
(Comment: Maharaj mentions clearly that rigorous practice will be needed to fully understand the various manifestations and phenomenon’s of I Amness. All true Masters give a workable method to accomplish this aim as Maharaj does above. Ed Muzika (Edji) also gave something very similar in his chapter “Hunting the I”. It’s a classic manual on practicing Self-inquiry the right way. Notice how similar are the advises given by both)
N: Now reverse; I am not the body, I am not the mind, I am not the senses; now you are stabilized in consciousness. After stabilizing in consciousness all further things will happen automatically. You will expand into the manifest.
(PRIOR TO CONSCIOUSNESS PG 51)
N: You will find, when you are the manifest consciousness, you alone are the multiplicity, you express yourself in all this ample, manifest world.
(PRIOR TO CONSCIOUSNESS PG 56)
N: 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 three quotes are indicative of the state of Oneness with Consciousness (Universe Consciousness). This is state experienced when one transcends the I-thought. This is the first awakening. Most Sadhakas are stuck at this level (the first awakening stage) but this is mostly one form of I AMness--the waking state part of Consciousness--and not the I AMness in its entirety as is clear from the quote of Maharaj given below)
N: When the ‘I am myself’ goes, the ‘ I am all’ comes. When the ‘I am all’ goes, ‘I am’ comes.
(I AM THAT PG 230)
(Comment: ‘I am myself’ is ordinary state of individual ego, which one identifies at the individual body/mind level. ‘I am all’ is the state of Oneness with the manifested part of Consciousness (the waking state) after transcending individual ego. Now Maharaj clearly points out that after ‘I am all’ (oneness) is transcended ONLY then ‘ I AM’ comes. Most stop at “Oneness” (the first awakening).
N: Now you are in the waking state, a person with name and shape, joys and sorrows. The person was not there before you were born, nor will be there after you die. Instead of struggling with the person to make it become what it is not, why not go beyond the waking state and leave the personal life altogether?
(I AM THAT PG 427)
Since most would stop at “oneness” levels, Maharaj wrote the two quotes below:
N: 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.)
N: 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 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 ‘I AM’ 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.)
N: Not only the Conscious but the unconscious as well should be taken care of in our spiritual practice.
(I AM THAT PG 447)
(Comment : The practice will involve going deeper than just waking state of oneness and include knowledge of various manifestations of I-ness coming from dream and sleep states and even beyond that.)
N: 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)
N: 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 says “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. And then move beyond that too but with awareness (Turiya). This is possible only through deep meditation.
Ed Muzika (Edji) in his own words in the book “Hunting the I” writes “The process of locating phenomena, examining them and playing with them until you know them fully, and then eliminating them as the looker can be longer or shorter. This is the true self-inquiry process, not the one often referred to as mindlessly repeating, “Who am I?”)
N: 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)
N: I have experienced all four kinds of speech and transcended them. Rarely will anybody follow this hierarchy to stabilize in the Consciousness and transcend Consciousness. Starting from Vaikhara (word), normally we listen to words; from Vaikhari we go to Madhyama (mind-thought); in watching the mind we are in Pashyanti where the concept formation takes place and from there to Para (I AM- without words), and finally from Para to Prior to Consciousness. This is the line to follow, but only a rare one follows it- receding, reversing.
(PRIOR TO CONSCIOUSNESS PG 116)
(Comment: Maharaj indicates very clear steps in this quote. First comes Vaikhara (words) meaning all outer forms of worships and experiences related to waking state of Consciousness (oneness, beauty and music), then comes Madhyama (mind-thought) meaning the phenomenon’s of the subtle dream body (astral experiences) , then the Pashyanti which represents the deep sleep (causal state experiences) and lastly to the Para (I AM –without words) meaning Turiya (the ever blissful fourth and last state of Consciousness). The wordless I AM is nothing other than Turiya and it is this I AM- without word (Pure Beingness) which is always referred by Maharaj and NOT the ordinary state of waking Consciousness (misunderstood as beingness) which needs to be transcended. No ordinary state of waking Consciousness can lead to the Self, steps as above have to be followed and so too the efforts as is clear from above quote of Maharaj. However only rare ones will actually follow the entire line and steps.)
N: The birth principle is “Turiya” which means where Consciousness is.
(Quote 137 of Nisargadatta Gita)
N: Turiya or I AM is always described as the witness state that sees through the waking, dreaming and sleeping.
(Quote 141 of Nisargadatta Gita)
N: The experience that “I AM” or you exist is “Turiya”.
(Quote 138 of Nisargadatta Gita)
(Comment: The I Amness in its most unadulterated or pure form is turiya. The Sadhaka by intense practice and self-abidance reaches this highest state of samadhi by following the steps as given below. Yet this is still a state. It is observed by the looker. The looker is the real “YOU”, the reality)
N: The “I am” in its purity is “turiya”, but I am “turiyatita” (beyond turiya) and living in (as) Reality.
(Quote 221 of Nisargadatta Gita)
N: Get established in the “I am” without words, the “Parvani”, but YOU the absolute are not that.
(Quote 189 of Nisargadatta Gita)
(Comment: Parvani the wordless state of I AM is referred by Maharaj as turiya)
N: The experience that “I am” or you exist is “Turiya”. One who knows “Turiya” is “Turiyatita”, which is my state.
(Quote 138 of Nisargadatta Gita)
N: The “I am” is only a little distance away from the True state, hence it is unreal, for whatever is away from the True state or Reality is unreal.
(Quote 227 of Nisargadatta Gita)
(Comment : Here too the “I am” refers to Turiya as this is the state which is closest to the Absolute (YOU). This is experiential in meditation for as soon as Turiya dissolves, the SELF shines. This SELF cannot be known as a concept. You can only be that)
N: Words are not exactly applicable. I have seen exactly how I am not. In the absence of “I Am”, what that state is, I have seen, or am seeing, therefore I don’t lose anything.
(PRIOR TO CONSCIOUSNESS PG 113)
(Comment: Powerful words for all to ponder. Maharaj states “I have seen exactly how I am not.” These are not empty words but words flowing from a Master who has actually experienced how the I-ness is unreal. The whole of I is a big fraud and the fact that it doesn’t exist comes from knowledge which flows in deep meditation when the I- Consciousness is killed. It is NOT an intellectual knowing that the I is not real but purely experiential.)
N: The first step is to go and dwell in the “I am”. From there you go beyond Consciousness and no-Consciousness to the infinite Absolute, which is the permanent state.
(Quote 229 of Nisargadatta Gita)
(Comment : To conclude we can say two steps are given by Maharaj for effective Self-inquiry ,first is to dwell or ponder on the various manifestations of I Amness and reach the purest form through meditation, Turiya, and then to go beyond that and meet the Absolute (Self or looker).
Ed Muzika (Edji) gives a very similar approach to Self-inquiry. Edji states in Hunting the I on page 143 “So there are two steps: locate the looker, as the subject of sensations, and try to play with it to observe all its manifestations, and then to rest in the looker, relax and let the looker look, and become the looker only.”