How Nisargadatta Maharaj attained self-realisation: Nisargadatta’s method and his Guru’s instructions to him

nisargadatta_maharaj

Nisargadatta Maharaj often spoke about his own spiritual journey and practice, and how his guru’s teachings led him to his own eventual self-realisation. In his most widely read book, ‘I Am That’, Nisargadatta speaks many times of his practice and the profound effect his own guru had upon him. The following are direct quotes from I Am That focusing on what Nisargadatta spoke of his own sadhana (spiritual practice) and the teachings of his own Guru.

I have not added any commentary as I think the excepts speak for themselves, but I have added bold text to emphasize specific points I thought would be of use for seekers in terms of making the sadhana practical.

I hope you find the following quotes both instructive and inspiring for your own sadhana,

Best wishes 

Tom


It so happened that I trusted my Guru. He told me I am nothing but my self and I believed him. Trusting him, I behaved accordingly and ceased caring for what was not me, nor mine.


Questioner: Kindly tell us how you realised.

Maharaj: I met my Guru when I was 34 and realised by 37.

Questioner: What happened? What was the change?

Maharaj: Pleasure and pain lost their sway over me. I was free from desire and fear. I found myself full, needing nothing. I saw that in the ocean of pure awareness, on the surface of the universal consciousness, the numberless waves of the phenomenal worlds arise and subside beginninglessly and endlessly. As consciousness, they are all me. As events they are all mine. There is a mysterious power that looks after them. That power is awareness, Self, Life, God, whatever name you give it. It is the foundation, the ultimate support of all that is, just like gold is the basis for all gold jewellery. And it is so intimately ours! Abstract the name and shape from the jewellery and the gold becomes obvious. Be free of name and form and of the desires and fears they create, then what remains?

Q: Nothingness.

M: Yes, the void remains. But the void is full to the brim.


Q: Please tell me which road to self-realisation is the shortest.

M: No way is short or long, but some people are more in earnest and some are less. I can tell you about myself. I was a simple man, but I trusted my Guru. What he told me to do, I did. He told me to concentrate on ‘I am’ — I did. He told me that I am beyond all perceivables and conceivables — I believed.

I gave him my heart and soul, my entire attention and the whole of my spare time (I had to work to keep my family alive). As a result of faith and earnest application, I realised my self (swarupa) within three years. You may choose any way that suits you; your earnestness will determine the rate of progress.

Q: No hint for me?

M: Establish yourself firmly in the awareness of ‘I am’. This is the beginning and also the end of all endeavour.


Q: How did you come to it?

M: By my trust in my Guru. He told me ‘You alone are’ and I did not doubt him.


…my Guru too taught me to doubt — everything and absolutely. He said: ‘deny existence to everything except your self.’ Through desire you have created the world with its pains and pleasures.


Put in all and you will get all. I was doing it. All my time I was giving to my Guru and to what he told me.


Q: Still, you have a body and you depend on it.

M: Again you assume that your point of view is the only correct one. I repeat: I was not, am not, shall not be a body. To me this is a fact. I too was under the illusion of having been born, but my Guru made me see that birth and death are mere ideas — birth is merely the idea: ‘I have a body’. And death — ‘I have lost my body’. Now, when I know I am not a body, the body may be there or may not — what difference does it make? The body-mind is like a room. It is there, but I need not live in it all the time.


I trusted my Guru and he proved right. Trust me, if you can. Keep in mind what I tell you: desire nothing, for you lack nothing. The very seeking prevents you from finding.


‘One can give food, clothes, shelter, knowledge, affection, but the highest gift is the gospel of enlightenment‘, my Guru used to say. You are right, enlightenment is the highest good. Once you have it, nobody can take it away from you.


I am now 74 years old. And yet I feel that I am an infant. I feel clearly that in spite of all the changes I am a child. My Guru told me: that child, which is you even now, is your real self (swarupa). Go back to that state of pure being, where the ‘I am’ is still in its purity before it got contaminated with ‘this I am’ or ‘that I am’. Your burden is of false self-identifications — abandon them all.

My Guru told me — ‘Trust me. I tell you; you are divine. Take it as the absolute truth. Your joy is divine, your suffering is divine too. All comes from God. Remember it always. You are God, your will alone is done’.

I did believe him and soon realised how wonderfully true and accurate were his words. I did not condition my mind by thinking: ‘I am God, I am wonderful, I am beyond’. I simply followed his instruction which was to focus the mind on pure being ‘I am’, and stay in it. I used to sit for hours together, with, nothing but the ‘I am’ in my mind and soon peace and joy and a deep all-embracing love became my normal state. In it all disappeared — myself, my Guru, the life I lived, the world around me. Only peace remained and unfathomable silence.


When I met my Guru, he told me: ‘You are not what you take yourself to be. Find out what you are. Watch the sense ‘I am’, find your real self’. I obeyed him, because I trusted him. I did as he told me. All my spare time I would spend looking at myself in silence. And what a difference it made, and how soon! It took me only three years to realise my true nature. My Guru died soon after I met him, but it made no difference. I remembered what he told me and persevered.


Q: The mind is so absolutely restless. For quieting it what is the way?

M: Trust the teacher. Take my own case. My Guru ordered me to attend to the sense ‘I am’ and to give attention to nothing else. I just obeyed. I did not follow any particular course of breathing, or meditation, or study of scriptures. Whatever happened, I would turn away my attention from it and remain with the sense ‘I am’, it may look too simple, even crude. My only reason for doing it was that my Guru told me so. Yet it worked! Obedience is a powerful solvent of all desires and fears.

Just turn away from all that occupies the mind; do whatever work you have to complete, but avoid new obligations; keep empty, keep available, resist not what comes uninvited.

In the end you reach a state of non-grasping, of joyful non-attachment, of inner ease and freedom indescribable, yet wonderfully real.


My Guru, before he died, told me: Believe me, you are the Supreme Reality. Don’t doubt my words, don’t disbelieve me. I am telling you the truth – act on it. I could not forget his words and by not forgetting – I have realised.


I lived my life, plied my trade, looked after my family, and every free moment I would spend just remembering my Guru and his words. He died soon after and I had only the memory to fall back on. It was enough.


Q: How did you get it?

M: I found it all in the holy presence of my Guru — I did nothing on my own. He told me to be quiet – and I did it – as much as I could.


Q: You made no efforts whatsoever?

M: None. Believe it or not, I was not even anxious to realise. He only told me that I am the Supreme and then died. I just could not disbelieve him. The rest happened by itself. I found myself changing — that is all. As a matter of fact, I was astonished. But a desire arose in me to verify his words. I was so sure that he, could not possibly have told a lie, that I felt I shall either realise the full meaning of his words or die. I was feeling quite determined, but did not know what to do. I would spend hours thinking of him and his assurance, not arguing, but just remembering what he told me.

Q: What happened to you then? How did you know that you are the Supreme?

M: Nobody came to tell me. Nor was I told so inwardly. In fact, it was only in the beginning when I was making efforts, that I was passing through some strange experiences; seeing lights, hearing voices, meeting gods and goddesses and conversing with them. Once the Guru told me: ‘You are the Supreme Reality’, I ceased having visions and trances and became very quiet and simple. I found myself desiring and knowing less and less, until I could say in utter astonishment: ‘I know nothing, I want nothing.’


Powerful quotes from Sri Ranjit Maharaj

Sri Ranjit Maharaj was the guru-brother of the more famous Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, that is they had the same guru – Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj. Here are some quotes from Sri Ranjit Maharaj:

The body and the world

Everyone gives value to the world. The realised being, who has gone beyond the world, beyond knowledge, only gives value to zero. When you understand that the world is untrue and that everything is zero, then all that remains is Reality.
 
You reduce yourself to being a body and then you constantly worry for it. Why? By thinking “I am the body”, you have reduced yourself to such a small creature. The body is nothing. It comes from zero and will soon return to zero.
When you lose all love for the illusion, He automatically is there. You get absorbed into Reality because He and you are the same, nothing else. There is no “you” or “self” in Reality. Forget about self. The real understanding is, “I don’t exist.”

The world is nothing but a long dream, take it for granted.

There’s nothing there, so what is there to say? As long as the body is there, he acts, no doubt. He calls his mother “mother”, and his wife “wife”, but still he knows. If somebody asks him, “What is your name?”, he gives his name, but he knows, “I am not this.”

The Master

The master is the greatest illusion because all that he says with full hear and frankness is false. But the false words that the master tells you can make you reach Reality.

The master takes you to that place where there is no one to understand anything. There is no knowledge nor ignorance and so understanding has no meaning. Let everything appear within That, but say that it is not true. There is no need to change anything because it doesn’t exist. When you forget the sense of the world, which is nonsense, then you will know the real sense and Reality opens up to you.

An enlightened person says at once, “One plus two is three! I know!” He says it so strongly. Understanding should come. Master awakens your understanding.
Nobody comes, nobody goes. All is a dream. In a dream you can become a great master, but when you wake up, you come back to your ordinary state. Who has gone there and who has come back? Nothing has happened.
The concept of a “great master” has come upon you, and you have become the “great master”, but when you wake up you feel, “All this is nonsense. How can I be a great master? I know nothing!” Still, in the dream, you were giving lectures and were talking easily about all these things, but when awakening comes, all this knowledge vanishes. It was only a dream.
The so-called sage who says, “I am the reincarnation of God”, doesn’t know Him, doesn’t know Reality. On the contrary, he is the slave of his ego, of illusion. When knowledge itself has no entity, there is no question of all these things.
Thinking that the master has a form is only ignorance. I tell you. When you accept what He tells you then you are always with Him.

The ego

The ego is like the son of a barren woman – it doesn’t exist. It is a false projection of a confused and ignorant mind.

Knowledge & Understanding

Understanding should come, and finally one should see that knowledge is also not true. Forget everything. Knowledge, ignorance . . . all is zero.

Understand this way: that you should be free from ignorance and finally from knowledge, also. Knowledge is the greatest ignorance. Understand this way and forget everything. In that moment, you are He.

First mental understanding is required and after that comes a practical understanding. Intellectual talent is the greatest thing. Without the intellect, one cannot understand. So, you have to understand with the full intellect and then, that knowledge, or that understanding will submerge, because knowledge is a thought. A good thought or a bad thought, both are thoughts. So, knowledge is a golden thorn, and ignorance is an ordinary thorn and both are bondage. Suppose your hands have been put in handcuffs. Maybe they’re iron cuffs or maybe they’re golden, but it’s still bondage. So, both are thorns. One should understand and throw them away. It is very difficult to throw out the knowledge, because ego remains up till knowledge. Knowledge is the ego, nothing else. To erase that knowledge, one should say, “I know nothing.”

Ignorance came by hearing and is dispelled by hearing. By words you have become bound and by words you can be free. Words are false, but their meaning is true. The illusion is needed in order to go beyond it.

The only way

There is only one way to know Reality – forget everything and instantly you are He. Short and sweet. There are no words for Reality. Forget the illusion and He is there. Do everything, but say that it is not true. That is the main point.

A disciple should put a zero on everything, including himself, otherwise he cannot advance. No one wants to put a zero on their self because they fear not being accepted by others. Be mad and do it!

The Ignorance and the wise

An ignorant person always sees the world as true. The realised sage sees the world as not true. That is the difference.

Nothing

When you feel that something can touch you, or harm you, it means that you are in the illusion. How can nothing touch you? Everything in the illusion is nothing.
Why to fear? Nothing is there. Everything is illusion. Keep your mind in that fearless state only. Just as the poisonous tooth is taken out, in the same way, play with the world, play with the illusion, there is no harm. It won’t affect your mind. Live fearlessly; no death, no fear, knowing that “I am that real power.” There is nothing! What will harm you?
In the same way, here we experience many things due to the objectivity of the mind. You see all the objects and immediately believe that they are real. At the moment you realise who you are, you see that everything is nothing. That is the main point. Mind should accept that everything is zero. Once the mind accepts that everything is nothing, then nothing remains and my Self is Truth.

God

The world is full of Him. Nothing is there except Him. What you see is Him.

No matter if you are poor, sitting on a throne or lying in the gutter, still you are always Reality. The outside appearance has nothing to do with who you are. Everyone is He, no matter what state you may be in.

Fearless

For example, when you sleep you dream, and in the dream somebody gives you a slap on the face. You feel the slap and immediately you you wake up to find only pillows. You then realise, “Oh, it was nothing ! Nobody slapped me.” In the dream, somebody kills you, “Ahhh, I am killed!” Then you wake up. “All is false, nobody was there to kill me.” Then your fear goes away. Awakening brings makes you fearless. One should realise that by nature you are fearless. Being fearless, the mind becomes completely naked and you know that nothing is true.