Nisargadatta’s Method

In this dialog, Nisargadatta Maharaj gave a brief, clear summary of the method of spiritual practice that he recommended.

Edited by Jean Dunn

Maharaj: Where are you from and who directed you here?

Questioner: I have been studying in a monastery in Thailand and the Abbot suggested I read the books of Maharaj’s teachings. When I decided to come to India several friends, who had been to see Maharaj, told me to come here.

This dialog is reprinted from the book Prior to Consciousness.

M: Do you have questions?

Q: Will Maharaj explain what is the method of practice he recommends?

M: There is no practice or discipline to be followed. Merely listen to me and accept what I tell you with firm conviction.

Q: What about the importance of meditation?

M: The only thing which anyone has is the conviction that one exists, the conscious presence. Meditation is only on that sense of presence, nothing else.

Q: During the meditation period one just sits and thinks of one’s presence.

M: Not as an individual sitting, but the sense of presence without words. Meditate on that which knows you are sitting here. Your feeling that your body is here is identification with the body, but that which knows that this body is sitting here is the expression of the Absolute.

Q: Is this known with the mind?

M: Mind is the nature of the material; you are not the material, you are that which understands the material. That sense of presence will explain anything that is necessary for you to understand. Your effort will not do it, but that sense of presence, with which you become one, will do it.

Q: Should I develop this sense of presence throughout the day, in all my activities?

M: It is not necessary for you to concentrate on it, it is always there. Whatever you do, the essence of it is the body-mind. Let the body-mind do its work but understand that what is doing the work is not you, you are the sense of presence.

Whatever efforts you make, either physically or intellectually, will be essentially the effort of the body-mind. There is nothing for you to do. Whatever happens will happen by itself, with your conviction that you are totally apart from body and mind.

Q: That sounds easy, but it must be very hard.

M: Whatever you think, easy or hard, you stick to one conviction, that you are that sense of presence and not the body-mind. That which you are has no shape or color.

Q: Does that sense of presence continue after the body and mind go?

M: When the body goes that sense of presence will go and consciousness will no longer be conscious of itself.

Q: When the body goes, everything goes?

M: Correct. There is no experience of either happiness or unhappiness, there is no need of experience either.

Q: Is there nothing that continues – nothing?

M: You are thinking at a conceptual level. At that level, who is there who wants to know? Forget about That state.

Q: I would like to understand That.

M: Whatever can be understood or perceived can never be the eternal Truth. The Unknown is the Truth.

I have no need of any experience, therefore I have no need to quarrel with anybody. The body and mind will go on doing whatever they like during their natural course of duration.

Q: Is it better to do one thing than another? For instance, with this mind and body I could just sit and do nothing, or I could go around helping people, doing good things. Which would be better to do?

M: The body and mind will do whatever is natural for that combination.

Q: You can control things – for example you can eat too much or drink too much, things like that – or else you can do good things, helping people, etc.

M: These are the do’s and don’ts regarding the body-mind, which you are not; that is the premise from where you have started. Understand that when there is no body, consciousness is not conscious of itself. So long as the body is there, the body must do its natural functioning.

Q: Then I just let it do what’s natural?

M: There is no question of your allowing it to happen, it will happen, you have no control over it.

Q: But some things I can control. If I come here or I stay outside – I can control that.

M: That is a misconception. Whatever happens, happens by itself. All this is the show, or the expression, of consciousness – the nature of it is change. It is the dance of the conscious presence. There are so many ways in which consciousness entertains itself, many different forms, abilities, capacities are functioning, but the functioning is merely to entertain itself. When it is tired, it rests in sleep, when awake it needs some kind of entertainment, some movement, some doing.

They are all appearances in consciousness; each will last according to its own duration, but basically, nothing that happens has any validity or importance. Until the awakening, or understanding, you think that you are the doer, but once this apperception takes place you know there is no entity that is working.

Q: I just think it would be best to do good things instead of bad things.

M: What do you mean by good and bad things? Good things in one set of circumstances can be bad things in another set of circumstances. Even the things you consider good can be so only as long as the body lasts. Only a rare one will realize there is nothing to do – he is already That.

Q: Maharaj is helping us, is that a volitional state?

M: It is part of the total functioning. What is taking place is sort of a dream state and whatever happens will be part of the dream. Whatever happens out of me, either spiritual or worldly, will not multiply into mind modifications, because any actions are universal and spiritual. The spirituality is perfect because of stabilization in the Unknown.

Many times the witnessing of physical pain happens to me, because the body and the consciousness are still there, an instrument to register pleasure and pain; because of my health the pain is registered more. I was witnessing that pain earlier, but since you have come it is gone. When you are established in consciousness it is full of joy only. I was established in that consciousness and full of joy, but suddenly the disease has appeared and the pain has come. So long as you are established in consciousness and do not have any physical disorder, you will not have any experience of pain. That is the quality of that consciousness itself.

You are prior to the consciousness. In that state there is no pleasure or pain.

The association of the body and consciousness is something like this: you are a bachelor and you are having a happy free life; with the association with a wife, the pleasure and pain results begin. It is just like that.

Q: How can I acquire that state?

M: It always prevails but It is beyond knowing. That state cannot be elucidated, these are merely pointers, “There It is” — words cannot enter that state.

This dialog is reprinted from the book Prior to Consciousness where it appears under the heading “January 27, 1981.” Copyright © 1985 Jean Dunn.

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897‒1981) was an Advaitan guru who received visitors in his Bombay apartment. He became world famous following publication of his second book I Am That in 1973. Jean Dunn (1921‒1996) was an American student of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj and editor of several of his books.

Related Reading

Recommended Book

Prior to Consciousness

Edited by Jean Dunn

This is the second 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 contains conversations that occurred between April 1980 and July 1981.

Ed Muzika, an American guru, thinks this is best edited work of Nisargadatta’s.

See it on Amazon.

This page was published on October 7, 2016.


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