Much gratitude to the volunteers who put this video together.
Dealing with deep layers of fear and conditioning
Q: Sometimes when my meditation becomes very deep and I stay with the I Am, there comes a sense of the whole world becoming very dark together with a sense of losing myself into something really bad and dark. My body starts to react strongly as well, and it feels like some kind of primal fear arising.
This video was recorded live during a Satsang meeting with Tom Das and put together by volunteers.
To attend satsang, see here: https://tomdas.com/events.
Q. Why do we seek?
Tom: Because we suffer.
Q. Why do we suffer?
Tom: Because we seek (something different to ‘what is’)
Q. Why do we both suffer and seek?
Tom: Because we take ourself to be a separate vulnerable body-mind entity. So long as we do so we are compelled to both suffer and seek.
Q. Why do we take ourself to be a separate body-mind entity?
Tom: Because we believe our thoughts that tell us so (ie. it is a belief that we are a body-mind entity – note that I call this belief ‘the ego’)
Q. What is the solution?
Tom: The solution is to stop this type of thinking.
Q. How can we do that?
A. We find, perhaps after much trial and error, there is only one essential method that consistently works, and that is to take one’s attention away from objective phenomena and place it upon the first person, the ‘I AM’, the Subject-Self. This practice is called Self-Enquiry. This process is explained in detail in the book The Path of Sri Ramana – Part 1
Q. My mind is too busy for this method
Tom: Then try another preliminary practice such as mantra recitation, devotion, chanting, watching the breath, hatha yoga, etc, as suits you – try another calming practice first – preferably a practice you are drawn to, and then when the mind is calm go straight back to Self-Enquiry.
Q. What about other teachings or methods?
Tom: You will find that other teachings methods (methods other than Self-Enquiry) at most only lead to a temporary effect that comes and goes. Don’t take my word for this, you can find out for yourself.
Q. Why do other methods not work?
Tom: Other methods, which involve attending to objects (gross or subtle objects such as thoughts, feelings, the breath, or other objects) invariably give rise to egoic ‘body-based’ thinking as the ego only survives when it can think of objective phenomena. And when we attend to objective phenomena you will see that the ego always finds a way to rise and ‘take control’ or ‘take the reins’ and posit itself as the true ‘I’.
Q. Isn’t this quite an extreme practice?
Tom: Yes, it is this extreme practice that is required, for most people, for the ego to end.
Q. Doesn’t this practice just perpetuate the separate ego-I?
Tom: No, that too is just another belief, that all practice necessarily perpetuates the ego-I. Try it – with consistent daily application results are quickly seen.
Q. Ok thanks!
Tom: You’re most welcome. Let me know how it goes!
‘Rest in the I Am’
There is no resting in the ‘I Am’
Resting is the nature of I Am.
I suspect you mean that the ego, which is of the nature of ‘doing’ cannot ‘do resting’ as the I Am.
The resolution of this conundrum is that when the ego turns towards the I Am or the Self, it disappears.
A common objection is that anything the ego does, such as ‘trying to rest as the I AM’ just perpetuates the ego.
However, this is just a logical supposition, ie. it is a belief, based on logic, and is not actually the way it is.
In practice, when the ego-I turns inwards, it disappears. Ego is only of the nature of movement, or doing, and when it turns inwards, towards the I Am, which is of the nature of being (ie. no movement, not doing), the ego-I becomes still and disappears.
Being an illusion, it, the ego-I, never really was.
‘I am that. I am the source of all that is, and so are you’
Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 117.
Generally speaking I do not comment much on other teachers as everyone has their own path and different teachings can be helpful at different times (apparently!). If you have found a teaching or communication useful, who am I to say otherwise? I am not interested in trying to take you away from something you resonate with, enjoy or agree with – quite the contrary in fact. However occasionally I find myself writing posts such as these in order to shine some light and clarity on aspects of certain teachings (or ‘non-teachings’!) and give my view for those who are interested.
Last year I wrote a post called ‘The evolution of Tony Parsons’ in which I noted how Tony’s expression has changed over time, becoming more and more radical or ‘neo-advaitic’ and less traditional as the years have progressed. Conversely, in previous years gone by his expression was much more in line with the traditional type teachings that he now states are dualistic, confusing and misleading. I also noted how in my view some important absences in the teaching limit its effectiveness, and how the evolution of his teaching is actually in line with the teaching methodology of traditional Advaita.
Nowadays all references to ‘I am That’ or ‘awaken to your true nature’ and references to awareness are all dismissed as being ‘dualistic’ and ‘for the me’ by Tony Parsons, but several years ago he was speaking in this very way that he now says is dualistic.
Since writing ‘The Evolution of Tony Parsons’, I was encouraged to read another another book of Tony Parsons published in 2004, which is no longer on sale, called ‘Invitation to Awaken’. As his first book ‘The Open Secret’ was published in 1995, this represents at least the first 9 years of him sharing these teachings. I obtained a copy about six months ago but for some reason today I was moved to actually pick it up, take a look at it, and write this post. Having flicked through it, I can only presume that it is no longer on sale as it contains teachings which now Tony Parsons says are dualistic and inaccurate. In fact I would guess that most of the following quotes would now likely be thought of as being dualistic by those who advocate radical non-duality (or neo-advaita) style communications. The subheading ‘Embracing Our Natural State of Presence’ is exactly the type of teaching language that is now refuted by so-called radical non-duality, so it is particularly interesting that this was the phrase chosen to be put on to the book cover:
In this book called ‘Invitation to Awaken’, what I would call the savikalpa aspect of the traditional teaching is unfolded by Tony Parsons in a manner very similar to Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj’s teachings. This savikalpa (literally meaning ‘with objects’ or with arising phenomena present) teaching illumines the oneness between all arising phenomena and the space-like consciousness that we are, but by itself rarely leads to permanent end of (apparent) duality and suffering.
However, unlike Nisargadatta Maharaj’s teachings, in Tony’s teachings the nirvikalpa aspect of the Vedanta teaching is notably absent. This nirvikalpa (literally, without objects or arising phenomena) aspect of the teachings, in which one naturally turns away from objective phenomena towards the Subject/Self, is the actual part of the teaching which is liberating. It is this aspect of the teaching that many never take up, for the ego doesn’t want to go there, and it is this part of the teaching that (for most) leads to liberation. It is this nirvikalpa aspect of the teaching which removes the habitual energetic tendency (vasana) to identify with the body-mind. eg. Nisargadatta Maharaj teaches the method of staying with the ‘I AM’, which leads one to this liberating nirvikalpa aspect of the teaching, but Tony Parsons advocates no such thing – in fact he even detracts from this kind of sadhana/practice, so allowing the ego-mind and duality to remain intact.
Please note that most of the quotes below are probably now refuted by those who have an affinity with radical non-duality, including Tony Parsons himself. Please also note that I have selectively taken quotes to highlight the similarity with more traditional vedanta expositions, at least the savikalpa aspect of the teachings. In the book there are still many neo-advaita style teachings present.
Please also note that I am not trying to criticise any teachings or teachers/speakers but my interest is only to share how these teachings may have evolved into their present form and I hope this article is useful to those seekers who are faced with an abundance of teachings and are trying to find their way through it all.
‘A meeting with Tony Parsons can be an invitation to rediscover your true nature. Reading a book like this may help you recognize your own doubts, hope and questions until they no longer come to the surface’Quote from back cover of ‘Invitation to Awaken’ by Tony Parsons
‘Totally radical and uncompromising expression of absolute Non-dualism’
The preface to the 2004 book ‘Invitatation to Awaken’ by Tony Parsons states that:
‘this book is a totally radical and uncompromising expression of absolute Non-dualism’.
Tony Parsons also states in the same preface:
‘I am surprised at the number of teachings that are presented or thought of as nondualistic or Advaita teachings when they are anything but. As far as I can see, the radical, clear, and uncompromising expression of absoute nonduaism is still very rarely communicated’
Let us see some of these ‘totally radical and uncompromising expressions’ in this post.
Awareness and Consciousness
When reading this book, there are several phrases that seem reminiscent of the language used in Nisargadatta Maharaj’s book ‘I am That’. Tony here even speaks of the distinction between ‘awareness’ and ‘consciousness’, which is a fairly peculiar distinction made in the specific Advaita Vedanta teaching lineage from which Nisargadatta Maharaj comes from. In fact I have never heard of this kind of distinction made by anyone else in quite this way:
‘Anger, sadness and thoughts can still be present, but they all arise in what I am, which is awareness.’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 3
‘Awareness is the source of all. As the matrix of everything, it is completely still, silent and impersonal. It has no relationship with anything; it’s the singularity from which everything emanates. Consciousness for me is the soup, which contains everything that apparently happens, including the sense of separation….Awareness simply is and requires nothing; consciousness can only arise in awareness.’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 3
‘…you are That. That is it – simple awareness. Just know this awareness, which is watching the game of consciousness. You have always been That.’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 4
‘You are simply awareness, seeing whatever arises. It’s absolutely simple, and it’s absolutely what you are. Just let awareness see what arises. ‘Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 21
Tony Parsons and Nisargadatta Maharaj
So when I read the above on the first few pages, I thought that this must have been a time during which Tony was reading Nisargadatta Maharaj. The influence of Nisargadatta seems to be fairly strong. But was Tony even aware of Nisargadatta Maharaj? I would find it difficult to believe that this distinction between ‘awareness’ and ‘consciousness’ would arise otherwise, as practically no other teacher uses this terminological difference as far as I am aware. Well, I found my answer on page 37 when Tony mentions Nisargadatta by name:
‘When Nisargadatta said ‘Nothing is happening’, this’s what he meant. Actually, nothing ever happens’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 37
Here we have Tony Parsons interpreting Nisargadatta Maharaj! For those familiar with radical non-duality/ neo-advaita as well as more traditional expositions, perhaps there is some humour in this!
Love and wisdom
Nisargadatta famously said in I Am That:
‘Love says ‘I am everything.’ Wisdom says ‘I am nothing.’ Between the two, my life flows.’Nisargadatta Maharaj, I Am That
Here we have Tony saying something very similar on page 43:
‘Deep wisdom is knowing ‘I am awareness, I am nothing’, but unconditional love is knowing that ‘I am everything’.Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 43
Later in the book Tony quotes Nisargadatta Maharaj, seemingly approving of this style of expression:
‘In the words of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, while absolute wisdom sees that ‘I am nothing’, absolute love sees that ‘I am everything’. Everything is generated from unconditional love’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 60
Contrast this with what Tony says nowadays, namely that the notion of awareness is itself dualistic and perpetuates the ego. The following quotes are taken from This Freedom by Tony Parsons, published in 2015:
‘Awareness is the fuel of separation…Awareness is that which helps to construct a subject-object world. It is the accomplice of separation. A subject is aware of an object.’Tony Parsons, This Freedom, page 48
‘But awareness is a function that needs something apart for it to be aware of.’Tony Parsons, This Freedom, page 9
‘Awareness simply feeds separation, and a state of detachment can arise and be mistaken for enlightenment.’Tony Parsons, This Freedom, page 9
‘Consciousness, knowing and awareness are similar apparent functions within wholeness. Awareness is the function through which the apparently contracted energy of a separate identity arises. The function of awareness re-establishes and maintains the illusory sense of a self’Tony Parsons, This Freedom, page 50
However, previously Tony said something quite different, namely he emphasised the subject, similar to traditional vedanta and Nisargadatta Maharaj’s teachings:
‘Some people teach that awakening is seeing that there is no ‘doer’, that consciousness is all there is. But there’s something that knows that consciousness is all there is. It is the lover, the ultimate, what you are.’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 61
I am that
Let us see again how Tony used to talk about non-dualty – all italics are present in the original text:
‘I am that. I am the source of all that is, and so are you’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 117.
‘You are That’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 111.
‘I don’t need to still my mind because I am stillness itself…I am the stillness, and the mind arises within it’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 122.
‘You are absolute awareness, and without absolute awareness nothing can be’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 94.
‘[talking about the Buddha] he ultimately gave it up and saw ‘I am That”Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 96.
‘…the nearest I can get to is is absolute Being. When the state of unconditional love is total, it leads to the fnial realisation ‘I am absolute Being’ or ‘There’s just absolute Being.’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 43
‘While your perception of ‘I am That, I am the absolute, I am awareness, I am the light just as everyone else is’ remains constant, in certain circumstances you can still contract back into identification. This means that at times you can still be in relationship…’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 49
‘Let’s close our eyes and be open to the possibility that there’s no one there, that there’s simply awareness – silent, still, impersonal awareness – and whatever seem to be happening is arising in that. Just be the watcher…you are the stillness; you are the silence in which everything arises. Embrace that which never moves and is totally still’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 53
The ‘I Am’
Another phrase Nisargadatta Maharaj uses is ‘the I Am’. Here in this same book we have Tony using the same phrase:
‘You are the I Am, and so am I’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 58
These days Tony states there is no subject, the subject being an illusion that perpetuates duality. Here is an example of this:
‘Question: But is there a perception of ‘what is’?
Tony: No, there is just ‘what is’…there is no perceiver that is real’Tony Parsons, This Freedom, page 49
However previously Tony emphasised the subject – italics in the following quotes are not added by myself but are present in the book. The first quote is presumable referring to Ramesh Balsekar who used to teach the ‘no doer, all is consciousness’ teaching at that time:
‘Some people teach that awakening is seeing that there is no ‘doer’, that consciousness is all there is. But there’s something that knows that consciusness is all there is. It is the lover, the ultimate, what you are.’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 61
Here is another example of Tony emphasing the subject, again italics are present in the original text:
‘Question: How does one drop it [the veil], then?
Tony: One doesn’t drop it. It’s dropped by seeing that there is no individual, but only space in which things apparently happen. You get a sense of moving ‘behind’ the person that’s always been at the forefront of things. Just behind that apparent person is the one that knows the person standing there looking at me’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 64.
Integration after awakening
Imagine my suprise to hear Tony discussing the need for integration after awakening! Here is what he says:
‘After awakening, people need to integrate what’s happened to them. Very often they rush out and say ‘I’m giving Satsang on Friday’, even though there’s been no integration.’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 70
‘Although I experienced great clarity walking across the park, it took some time to integrate the vast seeing that ‘this is all there is’…a lot of people start teaching thinking that they can help others attain what they have, but if they haven’t integrated their awakening, their teachings may create some confusion.’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 71
Perhaps it is these kinds of statements which explains why this book is no longer being published?
Is this just linguistics or semantics?
But isn’t this just linguistics? The ‘old Tony’ and the ‘new Tony’ – are they not just saying the same thing using different words? I don’t think so. Our true nature, consciousness, is often traditionally said to know itself, just like Nisargadatta Maharaj’s teachings. Here is a questioner trying to get to this point, taken from the 2015 publication This Freedom, page 51:
Questioner: But surely the no thing that is and isn’t, knows itself?
Tony: It’s doesn’t need to know it is and is not. It is an illusion that consciousness knows consciousness…Where would it go to stand apart and know itself?
Questioner: I am not talking about a consciousness that is apart, I am talking about a consciousness that is in it.
Tony: So consciousness is another word for knowing or awareness, and these are all transient functions…they are in movement. They are actions that apparently happen within wholeness. Consciousness of a tree, consciousness of self, knowing the sky, knowing I am, awareness of a thought; it is wholeness appearing to be a separate knower.’Tony Parsons, This Freedom, page 51
And again on page 52:
‘So as consciousness is an inconstant function within the everything, how can it be the everything?’
On page 61:
‘Awareness is the accomplice of separation. Awareness is a function which requires something for it to be aware of. When awareness arises there is a subject aware of an object. That is awareness.’
However, what did Tony say back in 2004?
‘…you are That. That is it – simple awareness. Just know this awareness, which is watching the game of consciousness. You have always been That.’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 4
‘I am that. I am the source of all that is, and so are you’Tony Parsons, from Invitation to Awaken, page 117.
OK, that’s all from me on this for now. I hope you enjoyed reading the above and found it interesting and perhaps even useful. Again, the idea of this post is not to criticise or condemn, but to share and give insight into how such teachings can change and evolve over (apparent) time. Please feel free to check out Tony Parsons’s current teachings on YouTube and see what you think for yourself!
Neti-Neti (‘not this, not that’) is a traditional teaching that teaches us to negate all phenomenal objects as being not-self (anatman). This is also known as the via negativa (negative way) as it points to what we are NOT. The basic idea is that through negating or discarding what we are not, what we are, that which is Nameless and beyond concepts, is revealed.
This is in contrast to the via positiva (positive way), which points out what WE ARE and directs us to recognised THAT and abide as THAT.
Whilst many teachings contain both via negative and positiva, you will see that in Advaita Vedanta and the teachings of great sages like Sri Ramana Maharshi, the via positiva is often emphasised but the via negativa is also explained. In other teachings, such as in many Buddhist texts, the via negative is often emphasised, but the via positiva teachings are also present.
Why is this? I’ve noticed that the via-negativa teachings are more attractive to those with a more intellectual inclination – and that is because negation is an activity of the intellect or mind. It by itself can only take you so far. However it is the via positiva (only if done correctly) that leads one to transcend the mind. Let us see Bhagavan Ramana explain this:
Cease all talk of ‘I’ and search with inward diving mind whence the thought of ‘I’ springs up. This is the way of wisdom. To think, instead, ‘I am not this, but That I am,’ is helpful in the search, but it is not the search itself.
Sri Ramana Maharshi, Ulladu Narpadu (Forty Verses on Reality), Verse 29
When the Vedas have declared, ‘Thou art That’ – not to seek and find the nature of the Self and abide in It, but to think ‘I am That, not This’ is want of strength. Because, That abides forever as the Self.
Sri Ramana Maharshi, Ulladu Narpadu (Forty Verses on Reality), Verse 32
The above verses are more fully explained in the text The Path of Sri Ramana in Chapter 7. Here is an excerpt from page 126:
‘That is why it is impossible for the mind to negate anything by thinking ‘I am not this, I am not this’ (neti, neti).- On the other hand, if our (Self’s) attention is directed only towards ourself, our knowledge of our existence alone is nourished, and since the mind is not attended to, it is deprived of its strength…‘
Here on the next page, page 127, it states:
‘If we are told, ‘Abandon the east’, the practical way of doing so would be to do as if told, ‘Go to the west’! In the same manner, when we are told, ‘Discard the five sheaths, which are not Self’, the practical way of discarding the non-Self is to focus our attention on ourself. ‘What is this I?’ or ‘Who am I?’. ‘
Thinking ‘I am not this, not this’ (neti, neti) is a negative method. Knowing that this negative method is just as impractical as saying, ‘Drink the medicine without thinking of a monkey’. Sri Bhagavan has now shown us the practical way of drinking the medicine without thinking of a monkey, by giving us the clue, ‘Drink the medicine while thinking of an elephant’, that is, He has reformed the ancient negative method by giving us the positive method ‘Who am I?’…
…Thus Bhagavan Ramana has declared categorically
that Self-attention alone is the correct technique of eliminating the five sheaths!
Now let us see Sri Ramana explain this to two seekers who have both read the traditional texts and have been practicing neti-neti but who have not been able to progress in their sadhana. This following is taken from the book Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk 197:
Gul and Shirin Byramjee, two Parsi ladies of Ahmedabad, arrived this day. They spoke at night to Maharshi: “Bhagavan! We have been spiritually inclined from our childhood. We have read several books on philosophy, and are attracted by Vedanta. So we read the Upanishads, Yoga Vasishtha, Bhagavad Gita, etc. We try to meditate, but there is no progress in our meditation. We do not understand how to realise. Can you kindly help us towards realisation?”
Ramana Maharshi: How do you meditate?
Questioner: I begin to ask myself “Who am I?”, eliminate body as not ‘I’, the breath as not ‘I’, the mind as not ‘I’ and I am not able to proceed further.
Ramana Maharshi: Well, that is so far as the intellect goes. Your process is only intellectual. Indeed, all the scriptures mention the process only to guide the seeker to know the Truth. The Truth cannot be directly pointed out. Hence this intellectual process. You see, the one who eliminates all the ‘not I’ cannot eliminate the ‘I’. To say ‘I am not this’ or ‘I am that’ there must be the ‘I’. This ‘I’ is only the ego or the ‘I-thought’. After the rising up of this ‘I-thought’, all other thoughts arise. The ‘I-thought’ is therefore the root-thought. If the root is pulled out all others are at the same time uprooted. Therefore seek the root ‘I’, question yourself “Who am I?”; find out its source. Then all these will vanish and the pure Self will remain ever.
Questioner: How to do it?
Ramana Maharshi: The ‘I’ is always there – in deep sleep, in dream and in wakefulness. The one in sleep is the same as that who now speaks. There is always the feeling of ‘I’. Otherwise do you deny your existence? You do not. You say ‘I am’. Find out who is.
Questioner: Even so, I do not understand. ‘I’, you say, is the wrong ‘I’ now. How to eliminate this wrong ‘I’?
Ramana Maharshi: You need not eliminate the wrong ‘I’. How can ‘I’ eliminate itself? All that you need do is to find out its origin and abide there. Your efforts can extend only thus far. Then the Beyond will take care of itself. You are helpless there. No effort can reach it.
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk 197
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.
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:
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.
Questioner: Is it right to change Gurus?
Nisargadatta Maharaj: Why not change? Gurus are like milestones? It is natural to move on from one to another. Each tells you the direction and the distance, while the sadguru, the eternal Guru, is the road itself. Once you realise that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.
Questioner: So, there is no need to worship, to pray, to practice Yoga?
Nisargadatta Maharaj: A little of daily sweeping, washing and bathing can do no harm. Self-awareness tells you at every step what needs be done. When all is done, the mind remains quiet.