Introduction to Consciousness and the Absolute

In this brief introduction to Nisargadatta’s last book, Jean Dunn gives a compressed summary of the most important points of his teaching.

By Jean Dunn

The teachings of Nisargadatta Maharaj have been published in several books using the original question-and-answer format in which the teachings were given. Maurice Frydman’s translation of Maharaj’s talks, I Am That, and other collections which followed, including my own, have served as guideposts to Maharaj’s philosophy. Many people from the West have come to follow his precepts through their reading of these collections. Now, another in the golden link of guideposts is presented here as Consciousness and the Absolute.

In this book you will find the last teachings of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, the final dialogues he had with the people who had come from all over the world to hear his words. These talks, coming during the last days of his life, were the culmination of the rarest teachings he had to give us; they were the summit of the heights of his wisdom.

This article is reprinted from the book Consciousness and the Absolute.

The scene for these talks was the small upstairs room which he had built some fifty years before, for his own meditation. So many seekers had come to him for spiritual guidance over a span of forty years! Now his talks were short, terse, during the pain-filled days of the illness (cancer). It was abundantly clear that although the body was in terrible pain, he knew he was not that body. We knew his body was suffering because he told us; yet we never heard a moan or a whimper from his lips. It was awe-inspiring simply to watch him.

Maurice Frydman described this great teacher as “warmhearted, tender, shrewdly humorous, absolutely fearless and true; inspiring, guiding and supporting all who come to him.” Others have described him as a tiger. He was whatever was needed: kind, gentle, patient, abrupt, abrasive, impatient. Moods passed over him like summer breeze, barely touching him.

The force of his message resounds with his singleness of purpose: “Give up all you have read and heard and just BE. You, as the Absolute, are not this ‘I Amness’, but presently [at the present time] you have to abide in ‘I Amness’.” He says it again and again. But the very repetition of his teachings is meaningful, for we have built up a hard shell around this pseudo-ego to protect it; therefore, constant hammering is needed to break this shell. The repetitious style of his teaching is part of his wisdom and teaching skill.

He taught us to find out for ourselves, to ponder his words, and ask ourselves, “Can this be true?” He said one must find out what the body is, where it came from, study it with detachment, watch it without judging. One soon sees that it is just like a robot which has been programmed by others. We are to turn within to that which lets us know that we are, to become one with that.

Abiding in the “I Amness" (or Consciousness, which is pure love), that Consciousness itself will give us all the answers. At the present time, Consciousness is what we are, not personal Consciousness, but impersonal, universal Consciousness. In course of time, the Consciousness will show us that we are not even this, but we are that Eternal Absolute, unborn, undying.

All shadings of his singular wisdom are reflected during these last, poignant conversations with those who were privileged to be in his presence.

When you read his words, may you find in them his blessings.

This article is reprinted from the book Consciousness and the Absolute.
Copyright © 1994 Jean Dunn.

Jean Dunn (1921 ‒ 1996) was an American devotee of Nisargadatta Maharaj and editor of several of his books.

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Nisargadatta Maharaj
Our main page on Nisargadatta. Bio, teachings, links, recommended books, etc.

Recommended books

I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Translated by Maurice Frydman

If any spiritual work of the last century deserves to be called a classic, it’s this one. An American spiritual book dealer has told us that this is his number-one seller. More than five hundred pages of transcribed conversations allow you to eavesdrop on Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, the most famous teacher of Advaita since Ramana Maharshi, as he sits in his living room and answers questions from visitors who have come to ask what they should do to become enlightened. The stupendously forceful language, coupled with Nisargadatta’s profound insight, makes this is a unique and astonishing work.

See it on Amazon.

The Ultimate Medicine

By Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Translated by Robert Powell, PhD

This book contains transcripts of conversations that Sri Nisargadatta held with visitors about a year before his death, when he was 83 years old and sick with cancer. Although it affords extraordinary glimpses into the mind of a man who had been self-realized for over half a century, the tone is occasionally impatient and even cranky. This is a good book to read after you've finished I Am That.

See it on Amazon.

The Nectar of Immortality

By Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Translated by Robert Powell, PhD

This book contains transcripts of 21 talks given by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj in 1980, shortly before his death. The talks include “Prior to Conception, What Was I?’ and “To Know What One Is, One Must Know One's Beginning.” This volume resembles another book by the same editor, The Ultimate Medicine, which was compiled from talks given six months later.

See it on Amazon.

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Consciousness and the Absolute: The final talks of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Consciousness and the Absolute: The final talks of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Edited by Jean Dunn

This is the last book in the three-volume series that Jean Dunn made of conversations held by Nisargadatta during the last two years of his life when he was dying of cancer. This volume, like the second, contains conversations that occurred between April 1980 and July 1981.

Although this book purports to be the “final” talks, the second book in the series covers the same time period and the talks that it contains are just as final.

See it on Amazon.

This page was published on September 2, 2016.


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