THE ENDLESS PATH
One commentor left a snide remark on one of my posts saying Nisargadatta was easy to understand as he taught on the same subject for decades.
Nisargadatta’s teachings changed dramatically over the years and in the last two years of his life, suggested people not read ‘I Am That’ because those were Kindergarten level teachings compared to how he was teaching in 1980.
His first book that I know of, ‘Self-Knowledge and Self-Realization’ speaks of internal energies, surrender, Krishna Consciousness, chanting, and realization of what I call the Manifest Self.
‘I Am That’ is very different, and his last three years of talks were even more different with his de-emphasis on Consciousness, the I Am sensation, transitioning to an exclusive emphasis on the Absolute.
His teachings changed throughout his life, from his initial awakening in 1936 to near his death in 1982, just as my teachings have changed over the past 20 years.
The problem with Maharaj’s teachings is context. When is he teaching Advaita Vedanta, and when is he using terms and concepts from other schools as his experience reveals new aspects of the Consciousness/Witness transition.
His teacher, Siddharameshwar wrote a very clear 81 page exposition of his Nath school teachings which led to Maharaj’s awakening. In 1961 Nisargadatta published that exposition along with his notes from 131 of his teacher’s talks, along with his short introduction on how it is necessary to trust his guru’s teachings.
Many, many people have told me that Nisargadatta is easy to understand, but that just tells me they have not understood his teachings from their gut, but rather as a mental construct, a philosophy. If they had understood him from their gut, they already would have been great jnanis with their own students.
If a teaching comes too easily to you, you probably have not earned it. You have not experienced their truth from the inside, as experience, whether of the Subtle Body, Causal Body, Turiya, or the Witness state.
Seung Sahn Soen Sah and Papaji all had many, many students that claimed to be “awakened,” or enlightened, or had "Inka," but in my witnessing of their talks and behaviors, I did not feel that to be the case.
My own experience is that the number of new spiritual experiences I have had seem to be increasing in number and depth the older I get.
As I have slowed down externally, I have spent more and more time inside my Self, experiencing circulating energies, the Subtle Body, my sense of presence, the I Am sensation which seems to have a life of its own, the disappearance of the identification principle, leading to the discovery of the truth that consciousness is everything, and being the witness and feeling untouched by consciousness itself at all. But I have never done this with a system in mind, whether Kashmir Shaivism or Advaita, because I don't trust concepts at all, only my direct experience.
Thus I have experienced that the important thing in developing spiritual maturity is a persistent inversion of awareness exploring my inner world.
What then helps is reading works by spiritual giants such as Muktananda, Nisargadatta, Ramana, Robert, Ramakrishna, Shankara, etc., to see if there is something I have missed. There always is.
This is why I found Shankarananda’s book so helpful as it placed the teachings of many ancient Hindu schools together in a way to provide a context for understanding the experiences of many spiritual giants over the breadth of history.
Ramana and Nisargadatta constantly throw out Sanskrit terms which have no easy translation into English, and Nisargadatta does so in a very spontaneous and “sloppy” way without providing a context.
Very strangely, the part he is most elusive about is the Witness, the Knower, versus the I Am. For him there is a duality here between the Knower, the Witness, and the witnessed I Am, which itself, for him, is a secondary witness.
Almost all the time he claims that the Witness is unknowable, and unknowable because it is the knower, the subject, not an object, which, of course, introduces yet another duality. When you subjectively “fall backwards” into the witness, you fall and fall, until suddenly you “turn around” and are experiencing the world from a position of nothingness, having no head, no body, no I. You have come to the position of the witness and are the witness.
Yet Maharaj also speaks of the fundamental ignorance state which Robert calls “the gap,” (of no I-awareness) occurring after awakening and before we become self-aware. The awareness state without being self-aware, or aware that what is being experienced is later seen to be external to you after the I-sensation is experienced, and another duality created, and never explicitly differentiates this from his "prior to Consciousness" concept.
Then he also says while speaking to students that he is established in the witness state even while speaking, denying he has anything to do with Consciousness. To me, this is another duality, denying his own human experience, the I Am sensation, as well as the gap state.
At other times, when asked, he describes the experience of living from the Absolute state as resting underneath the shade of a great tree, where the shade has a bluish color, which appears a place of experience without the I Am, or perhaps the "gap" state.
So for him, the Absolute is both experiential and non-experiential, and his relationship between the “gap” of fundamental ignorance, the I Am, or Manifest Self, the Witness as knower, and the experience of being totally beyond and separate from consciousness is never made clear.
What is clear though, and the reason Robert Adams and others kept reading spiritual books their entire life, is the need to have the feelowship, the companionship of great beings who constantly talk about their self-experiences of God, Self, and the world both as confirmation of one’s own experience, but also as pointers to experiences and understanding not yet held.
When we read the Avadhut Gita, the Nisargadatta Gita, the Ribhu Gita, Robert’s talks, the New Testament Bible, we are receiving the Darshan of great spiritual companions that confirm our divine nature as well as our human roots, and often providing pointers to experiences not yet had and assimilated.