Visitor: I have read I Am That and came here on my own.
Maharaj: Have you read the whole book?
V: I have read the first part fully and the second partially.
M: Having read the book, did you come to your self at the witnessing state?
V: Yes, I understood but I do not feel it. I have no peace of mind.
M: Do you get an inkling as to how you are connected with your self?
V: A little bit.
M: Would you like to ask any questions?
V: Not many, but I shall be grateful if I am told how to bring peace to my mind.
M: Because of the self, the atman, you are connected to the world through the body. The self is nothing else but the knowledge that “you are.” Meditate on that principle by which you know “you are” and on account of which you experience the world. Meditate on this knowledge “you are,” which is the consciousness, and abide therein.
V: But the concentration is just not there.
M: Ignore the mind the way you disregard the crowd you encounter on the streets.
V: I shall try.
M: As a matter of fact, mind is a universal dynamic principle, but we restrict it to the limits of the body and then depend on it — hence all the trouble. Consider the water in Lake Tansa. That water belongs to the whole of Bombay. Out of that water, can we claim some as yours or mine? In a similar vein, understand that the self is universal. But you have conditioned it by confining it to the body; therefore, you face problems. This self is also termed Ishwara — God — the Universal Principle. If you hold on to that, profound knowledge will descend upon you and you will have peace.
V: I try to meditate on that, but the mind wanders here and there. If I try to remain indifferent to mind, it will be a long-drawn-out process.
M: But are you not the root of any process?
V: The root of everything is life.
M: Yes, but the life force is universal and not personalized. Once you realize this, you have no more troubles.
Text copyright © 1987 Jozef Nauwelaerts. Reprinted by permission from The Ultimate Medicine, Chapter 12, ‘Whatever Is Perceived, You Are Not.’
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.
Robert Powell (1918‒2013) was the author of many books including Life: The Exquisite Art of Meaningfulness.
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.
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.
This page was published on October 18, 2001 and last revised on June 9, 2017.