Nisargadatta Maharaj: the essence of his teachings in four simple quotes

Here are four quotes of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj that conveys the essence of his teachings. They are all taken from the book I Am That. Read them several times, contemplate what he is trying to convey, and put the teachings into practice.

Best wishes!

See Also:

Nisarga Yoga explained (Nisargadatta Maharaj’s teachings summarised)
How Nisargadatta Maharaj attained self-realisation
How to know God. How to see God
IN BRIEF: HOW TO ATTAIN LIBERATION (MOKSHA)

Nisargadatta focus on your Self

Nisargadatta all delay is a waste of time

Nisargadatta cling to one thing that matters

Nisargadatta the only way is practice

IN BRIEF: HOW TO ATTAIN LIBERATION (MOKSHA)

Om red multiple

For more detailed explanations of the entire path to liberation see this link – I recommend you read and study the two texts found here and put them into practice: The Path of Sri Ramana

Alternatively you can explore one of more of these books: Recommended Reading: Books for Enlightenment, Liberation and Self-Realisation

Suffering: our predicament

Ever-obsessed with the transient*, we suffer. Ever-involved with that which changes*, the Self remains (seemingly) covered** and unrealised, and so we, taking ourselves to be a separate body-mind entity, remain in bondage and illusion and continue to suffer and feel confused.

Our True Nature

What you truly are has never suffered, has never undergone change, has never been confused and never been subject to birth, death, illusion or delusion. It is beyond both happiness/peace and suffering/sorrow. It is that pure consciousness ‘within’, it is That which you truly are.

How to Attain Liberation (Moksha)

Release yourself from this suffering and destroy ignorance in its totality by turning away from transient things and attending to your Self, that Pure Consciousness which is You. Turn your attention to That Which You Are and in doing this Be What You Are. Know the Knower, attend to the Seer, that is, Be Your Self and abide as such, until illusion/suffering/ignorance/doubt is no more.

Why This Practice is Necessary

For most, without this sadhana (spiritual practice), ignorance will continue to rise up again and again due to the strength of the habitual tendencies (vasanas) to identify as a separate body-mind entity, and so confusion and suffering will continue as will the seeking and various doubts.

See here for why other ways tend not to work.

In Summary

So Attend to what You Are, Be what You Are, Abide as the Self until ego/maya/ignorance/delusion is no more 🙏

🕉🕉🕉***

OBJECTIONS: Turn within? Really?

For objections that the mind throws our way, please see the following posts:

Q. Turn Within? Really? Isn’t this dualistic and doesn’t this just strengthen the ego?
Q. Isn’t it unhealthy and inhumane to turn away from the world? This kind of denial hasn’t worked for me. Integration is working.
Q. Why turn within? Nonduality as I have experienced it is the actual disappearance of what is considered within and without, one seamless blending
Q. Doesn’t the notion of ‘turning within’ to find yourself create an artificial duality? All is already one!

Q. Who or what does Self-Enquiry? Why still the mind? Isn’t this more mind?

Notes

*’the transient’ or ‘that which changes’ refers to the body, mind (thoughts, feelings, imaginings, experiences, conceptual knowledge) and the world, also known as Maya or illusion.

**for practice purposes of the teaching, in this context it is said that the Self is covered by Maya, as this is how it seems to the suffering seeker of truth and liberation. This aspect of the teaching has a practical orientation and places instruction on the path to liberation above mere conceptual/intellectual notions such as ‘the Self is never covered’, etc. These intellectual notions are are often used by the ego to avoid spiritual practice and liberation, which is the ending of egotism, and perpetuate ignorance-ego-suffering.

***the True Self is symbolised by the symbol ‘Om’, the Pure Consciousness within, that which is beyond name, form, description, conceptualisation, knowledge or experience. It is beyond both suffering and happiness/peace. It is also the meaning of the terms ‘true knowledge’ (Jnana) and ‘direct experience’ (Aparokshanubhuti), Bliss (Ananda) and Peace (Shanti), and Non-Duality (Advaita). It is what is signified in the Mandukya Upanishad as Turiya or AUM

Also see

This first link, The Path of Sri Ramana, contains detailed descriptions and explanations of the entire path in an easy to read way. I recommend you read, study and put into practice these two texts:

The entire path explained: the Path of Sri Ramana (Parts 1 and 2; PDF downloads)

Ramana Maharshi: how to abide as the Self

How to know God. How to see God.

Ramana Maharshi: Know the Knower

Ramana’s own writing: Who Am I? (Nan Yar?) by Sri Ramana Maharshi

Q. What in brief is the means to know one’s own real nature? What is the effort that can bring about the sublime inner vision?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Strenuously withdrawing all thoughts from sense objects, one should remain fixed in steady, non-objective [ie. subjective] enquiry. This, in brief, is the means of knowing one’s own real nature; this effort alone bring about the sublime inner vision.

Sri Ramana Gita, Chapter 3, verses 4-6

If, on the contrary, you withdraw your mind completely from the world and turn it within and abide thus, that is, if you keep awake always to the Self, which is the substratum of all experience, you will find the world, of which alone you are now aware, just as unreal as the world in which you lived in your dream.

Ramana Maharshi, Maharshi’s Gospel

The Upanishads and Vedanta

Amritabindu Upanishad:

The mind severed from all connection with sensual objects, and prevented from functioning out, awakes into the light of the heart, and finds the highest condition. The mind should be prevented from functioning, until it dissolves itself in the heart. This is Jnana, this is Dhyana, the rest is all mere concoction of untruth.

Advaita Vedanta: Gaudapada’s Method (Mandukya Upanishad Karika):

When the mind…remains unshakable and does not give rise to appearances, it verily becomes Brahman.

The controlled mind is verily the fearless Brahman.

When the mind, after realising the knowledge that Atman alone
is real, becomes free from imaginations and therefore does not
cognise anything, for want of objects to be cognised, it ceases
to be the mind.

Shankara: How to Meditate for Self-Realisation:

Dwelling on external objects will only increase evil propensities, so wisely recognising this fact, one should abandon external objects and and constantly attend to one’s true nature within, the Atman [the Self].

Yoga Vasishta Sara (The essence of the Yoga Vasishta)

Katha Upanishad:

When the five organs of perception become still, together with the mind, and the intellect ceases to be active: that is called the Supreme State [Brahman]

Svetavastara Upanishad:

Be absorbed, through samadhi, in the eternal Brahman.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad:

The Self alone is to be meditated upon.

Mandukya Upanishad:

Mandukya Up not simple consciousness

Mandukya Up cessation of all phenomena

Om red multiple

Ramana Maharshi: True Wisdom

ramana-maharshi.asr_12.crop

The following are sayings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, taken from the text Guru Vachaka Kovai which is widely accepted as the most precise, systematic and authoritative exposition of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teachings:

Download Guru Vachaka Kovai as a PDF file here

536.
O worldly folk who long for and run after
An endless series of unenduring things
’Tis wisdom true to seek and know
That one thing, on knowing which
All other things will cease to be.

537.
For those who see with insight keen
The subtle Truth, what is there to gain
From knowledge of gross material things?
What the imperishable inner sense
Perceives surpasses far the sight
Seen by the corporeal eye.

538.
Knowing aright the nature of the Self
And abandoning the non-self as void,
Unreal, is wisdom true.
All other knowledge is ignorance,
And not wisdom.

The Self is like a magnet

If you are seeking, you think you are doing this and that, but actually the Self is doing all. The Self is like a magnet. It’s magnetic force is always drawing you towards it. You are just being moved by the Self.

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No single teaching is right for everyone

Each teaching has a utility, but no single teaching is right for everyone at any point in time. Sometimes the way is Bhakti (love and devotion), sometimes Silence, sometimes intellectual understanding, sometimes letting things be, sometimes none of these… sometimes the mere notions of a teacher, a teaching and someone to be taught is too much!

God/Life shows us ‘the way’ if we learn how to listen…

Hence the ‘true teacher’ is always with us

False Gurus & Finding the True Teacher – Nisargadatta Maharaj

The following are quotes from Nisargadatta Maharaj, taken from the book ‘I Am That’. The subheadings are my own additions; I have also added bold type where I felt emphasis would be useful:

I Am That

False gurus

Questioner: You were telling us that there are many self-styled Gurus, but a real Guru is very rare. There are many jnanis who imagine themselves realised, but all they have is book knowledge and a high opinion of themselves. Sometimes they impress, even fascinate, attract disciples and make them waste their time in useless practices. After some years, when the disciple takes stock of himself, he finds no change. When he complains to his teacher, he gets the usual rebuke that he did not try hard enough. The blame is on the lack of faith and love in the heart of the disciple, while in reality the blame is on the Guru, who had no business in accepting disciples and raising their hopes. How to protect oneself from such Gurus?

Maharaj: Why be so concerned with others? Whoever may be the Guru, if he is pure of heart and acts in good faith, he will do his disciples no harm. If there is no progress, the fault lies with the disciples, their laziness and lack of self-control.

On the other hand, if the disciple is earnest and applies himself intelligently and with zest to his sadhana, he is bound to meet a more qualified teacher, who will take him further.

Your question flows from three false assumptions: that one needs concern oneself with others; that one can evaluate another and that the progress of the disciple is the task and responsibility of his Guru. In reality, the Guru’s role is only to instruct and encourage; the disciple is totally responsible for himself.


On surrender to a guru

Q: We are told that total surrender to the Guru is enough, that the Guru will do the rest.

M: Of course, when there is total surrender, complete relinquishment of all concern with one’s past, presents and future, with one’s physical and spiritual security and standing, a new life dawns, full of love and beauty; then the Guru is not important, for the disciple has broken the shell of self-defence. Complete self-surrender by itself is liberation.


What if both guru and seeker are inadequate?

Q: When both the disciple and his teacher are inadequate, what will happen?

M: In the long run all will be well. After all, the real Self of both is not affected by the comedy they play for a time. They will sober up and ripen and shift to a higher level of relationship.

Q: Or, they may separate.

M: Yes, they may separate. After all, no relationship is forever. Duality is a temporary state.


Is meeting a guru a chance occurrence?

Q: Is it by accident that I met you and by another accident shall we separate never to meet again? Or is my meeting you a part of some cosmic pattern, a fragment in the great drama of our lives?

M: The real is meaningful and the meaningful relates to reality. If our relationship is meaningful to you and me, it cannot be accidental. The future affects the present as much, as the past.


How can I determine a True Guru?

Q: How can I make out who is a real saint and who is not?

M: You cannot, unless you have a clear insight into the heart of man. Appearances are deceptive. To see clearly, your mind must be pure and unattached. Unless you know yourself well, how can you know another? And when you know yourself – you are the other.

Leave others alone for some time and examine yourself. There are so many things you do not know about yourself – what are you, who are you, how did you come to be born, what are you doing now and why, where are you going, what is the meaning and purpose of your life, your death, your future? Have you a past, have you a future? How did you come to live in turmoil and sorrow, while your entire being strives for happiness and peace? These are weighty matters and have to be attended to first. You have no need, nor time for finding who is a jnani and who is not?

Tom: ie. knowing yourself is the chief aim, and this should be the focus of your attention, not concerning yourself about who is a real jnani/guru and who isn’t.

Q: I must select my guru rightly.

M: Be the right man and the right Guru will surely find you.

Q. Can you briefly define Jnana Yoga vs Bhakti Yoga and how they relate to Advaita and Vedanta?

Krishna The ignorant speak of yoga as different from the path of knowledge

Q. Can you briefly define Jnana Yoga vs Bhakti Yoga and how they relate to Advaita and Vedanta?

Tom: Jnana yoga usually refers to the use of (intellectual) knowledge in the mind used to remove ignorance, a thorn to remove a thorn, and then the thorn of ‘knowledge’ is itself allowed to fall away; Bhakti yoga is faith, love and devotion from the heart to Self/Guru/God. These 2 yogas seem different at first, but then they quickly merge together to remove ignorance and end suffering, which is what the word ‘yoga’ means of course. Both of the above are part and parcel of Advaita Vedanta as per the Upanishads, Gita, etc.

Q. What about Advaita vs. Jnana?

Tom: Advaita Vedanta, as a traditional teaching is the general term used to refer to the teachings of the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Brahma Sutras and a few other traditional texts. Jnana yoga refers to one part of the teachings of Advaita Vedanta. Other aspects of Advaita Vedanta include Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and several other teachings found in the above aforementioned texts.

Advaita, literally means not-two. Jnana means knowledge. Jnana can either mean relative knowledge in the mind, which is the means of jnana yoga, or it can refer to the Absolute, which is not really knowledge per se as it is beyond ideas/conceptualisation, but the word Jnana is sometimes used nonetheless. This ‘absolute Jnana’ is synonymous with Advaita and points to that which is beyond both Advaita and Jnana, ie. God or True Self! It is also known as Parabhakti (divine love), Aparokshanubhuti (direct experience), Moksha (freedom) and various other terms, none of which fully capture what is spoken of!

Ashtavakra Gita – all is illusion, I am the Self

Janaka ashtavakra

The following verses are read on this video here (a couple of the verses are in a slightly different order):

Sage Ashtavakra, the young boy with contorted limbs, teaches King Janaka, and the result is the Song of Ashtavakra, or Ashtavakra Gita. Here are some selected verses, enjoy:

2.1. Oh, I am spotless, tranquil, Pure Consciousness, and beyond Nature. All this time I have been mocked by illusion.

Tom – Now the triad of knower/knowing/known are said not to exist. Note that this triad essentially encompasses all arising or objective phenomena:

2.15. Knowledge, knower and the known – these three do not exist in reality. I am that stainless Self in which this triad appears through ignorance.

Tom – here the remedy is prescribed:

2.16. Oh, the root of misery is duality. There is no other remedy for it except the realisation of the unreality of all objects of experience and that I am One, Pure Consciousness, and Bliss.

2.18. I am neither bound nor free. My illusion has ended. The world, though appearing to exist in me, has in reality no existence.

2.19. My conviction is that the Universe and the body have no reality. The Self is Consciousness alone. How can the world be imagined in it?

2.20. I am the Self, and my nature is pure Consciousness. The body, heaven, hell, bondage, freedom, and fear are merely imagined, and I have no relationship with them.

3.13. Knowing the object of perception to be naught by nature, that steady-minded one neither accepts this nor rejects that.

5.3. Though the Universe is perceptible by the senses, it has no factual existence, like the snake in the rope. Therefore, enter into Laya, the state of dissolution.

Tom – Again the essential teaching is dispensed:

11.8. He who is convinced that this manifold and wonderful Universe has no real existence, becomes free from desire, is pure Consiousness, and finds peace in the Knowledge that nothing is real.

15.16. The world is the result of ignorance of your own nature. In reality, you alone exist. There is neither jiva (the individual person) nor Ishvara (God), nothing other than thyself.

15.17. He who has fully realised that the Universe is a pure illusion, becomes desireless and Consciousness Itself – such a one abides in peace.

16.11. Even though Shiva, Vishnu, or Brahma instruct you, unless you regard the world as unreal, and dismiss all sense of egotism, you will not become established in your own nature (the Self).

17.19. Devoid of the feeling of ‘This is mine’ and ‘This I am’ and knowing for certain that nothing objective exists in reality, the knower of Truth is at peace within himself, his desires have subsided. Though appearing to act, in fact he does not engage in action.

18.14. Where is delusion, where is the universe, where is renunciation, moreover where is liberation for the great-souled one who rests beyond the world of desires?

Tom – the implication in verse 18.14 above is that all the items listed – namely ignorance, the universe, renunciation and liberation – all of these are illusion.

18.28. That man of peace, beyond distraction and contemplation, is neither an aspirant for liberation, nor is he bound. Knowing the Universe to be an illusion, though perceiving it, he remains in the absolute state.

18.70. The pure one knows for certain that this universe is nothing but the product of illusion and that nothing exists. The Imperceptible Self is revealed to him, and he naturally enjoys peace.


Tom – As if the above verses were not enough, here, in the last chapter, chapter 20, the point is driven home again. Everything in the phenomenal world is negated as being mere dream-like illusion, a product of imagination, from the scriptures, to the seeker, from the teacher to the teaching. Even notions of liberation, bondage, knowledge, ignorance, time and space and lastly even duality and non-duality – all these are said to be mere illusion.

20.1. In my Perfect Self (Atman), neither the elements, nor the body, nor the sense-organs, nor the mind, nor the void, nor despair, exist.

20.2. Where are the scriptures, where is Self-Knowledge, where is the mind not attached to sense-objects, where is contentment, and where is desirelessness for me who am ever devoid of the sense of duality?

Tom – ie. scriptures, self-knowledge, the unattached mind, happiness and desirelessness are all illusory

20.3. Where is knowledge and where is ignorance; where is ‘I’, where is ‘this’, and where is ‘mine’; where is bondage and where is liberation? Where is an attribute to the nature of my self?

Tom – ie. knowledge, ignorance, bondage, liberation, subject and object are all illusory. And so the verses continue in the same fashion:

20.6. Where is the world and where is the seeker of liberation; where is the Yogi and where is the Jnani; where is bondage and where is liberation for me who am non-dual by nature?

20.7. Where are creation and destruction; where is the end and where the means; where is the seeker and success for me abiding in my non-dual nature?

20.8. Where is the knower, the means to knowledge, the object of knowledge or knowledge itself; where is anything, and where is nothing for me who am ever pure?

20.9. Where is distraction, where is concentration; where is knowledge, where is delusion; where is joy and where is sorrow for me who am ever actionless?

20.13. Where are instruction and scriptural injunction, where is the disciple and where is the guru; where, indeed, is the object of life for me who am absolute good and free from limitation?

20.14. Where is existence, where is non-existence; where is unity, where is duality? What need is there to say more? Nothing emanates from me.