This dialog has been reprinted from the book Seeds of Consciousness where it appears under the heading ‘August 18, 1979.’
Questioner: Why is the understanding so fleeting, changing?
Maharaj: It depends on the body sense. All people will receive the knowledge from here, but the behavior of each will be different from that of the others.
Q: Myself, I am holding on to the same consciousness, and the understanding which is reflected in that consciousness is changing completely from day to day.
M: Oh yes. This knowledge, “I Am,” in the field of mind-inclination, mind-understanding, will not remain the same. It is changing every moment. It will never stabilize itself on one understanding.
Q: So there is no such thing as final understanding?
M: The beginning and the end of this understanding is the knowledge “I Am.” The beginning of concepts started with the primary concept “I Am.” Having wandered through all the concepts and rejected them, you have to get rid of this last or the first concept.
Q: That rejection — does it come by the disappearing of the last concept, just by giving it attention?
M: See this flame of the cigarette lighter? It has appeared, it has disappeared; it’s just like that. Has it got any concept, this flame? What is without concept is the most perfect, the most proper. The witnessing has to be done when you try to concentrate on an objective. Suppose you want to concentrate on a Rama, a Krishna, or a Christ, then there is a question of concentrating or watching. This is only the knowledge “I Am.”
Q: The problem is, the more attention I give to consciousness, the larger the concept which appears in the mind.
M: How do you focus attention on consciousness? Consciousness itself has to focus.
Q: That is what I meant.
M: Understand consciousness and come to the conclusion that consciousness is not yourself.
Q: I can’t. I cannot!
M: Give it up! Whatever demands you make, I am not going to fulfill. I am not going to meet your demands. I am not going to give you whatever you want. I am just going to tell you, to emphasize what you are. You want to convert or transform yourself into something: “I want to become this,” “I am going to do that.” I am going to tell you what is the root of you, the innermost core, what you are. I am not a sculptor, you see, I don’t make images for you, so that you become that image.
Q: Where does this need of consciousness to see itself as everything come from?
M: You know that you are, and you love to be, hence the necessity. Although you have been saying that you understood, there is some hitch somewhere, isn’t there?
Q: One card. I am holding back one card.
M: Throw it out! Where is the loss? Give up the game. You listen to my talks or don’t listen. You come here or don’t come here. I know what you are, what you were prior to your “I Amness.” Before your parents met, I know you. I know your knowingness after your parents met, how it got transformed to various stages, how it developed in different images, I know all that. Suppose a person is a hundred twenty-five years old; since childhood he has grown into various stages, learned a lot worldly things. Now whatever he has learned or gained, everything has gone, and he is lying on a bed, and what remains now? Only that child-consciousness, that child-ignorance, remains. And that also will go. Will it go to heaven or hell? No; the ignorance has sprung up and the ignorance will disappear.
Q: The question then is, if that ignorance can disappear only through that process of time or can it be stopped now?
M: Even in between. It is sustained by food and water. If this is not supplied it will go, disappear.
Q: But it has gone in the case of Maharaj and there is a supply of food and water there. So what I am asking is, is that process inevitable, or can it just end now?
M: You have to meditate. It won’t be available free. The necessary threshold is through consciousness only. You have to imbibe and be consciousness. In the process of being in the consciousness, you come out of it, and there you see; and meditation is the only remedy.
Q: The more you get into consciousness, the more impossible it seems to transcend it.
M: Give it a fair trial. Be in beingness. Try to be in beingness. You won’t get it here and now. Step number one is: Be yourself, be in your beingness only. Although, to start with, I am the Immanent Spirit “I Am,” you have to be in that beingness without the body sense. You feel that you are the body now, but when you abide in that beingness you will know then how you are without the body. But don’t forget, at the same time, that body and vital breath are very necessary. Once you understand these three entities correctly [body, vital breath and the message “I Am”], then you are apart. The knower of these three entities will not be caught by the parents.
Q: When Maharaj was immersed in his beingness, what exactly did he understand that made him transcend consciousness?
M: You know TV? Meditate and you will know as tangibly as you see TV. You will see then: I am not the TV screen, the observer of TV is not in the set. In the process of meditation, more knowledge will be awakened, will be realized by you, and, in the same process, you will understand that whatever you have understood you are not.
Q: That’s why I was saying before that the more consciousness was conscious of itself, the larger the concept, the knowledge.
M: Yes, it will happen, a living cosmos, a million umverses are in your consciousness.
Q: What about the knower?
M: The knower and whatever is known, both will go. Nothing will remain stable, permanent. This triangle, father, mother, and you, how did it happen? Inquire about that, meditate on that.
Q: Isn’t it the same thing, father, mother, and I; just a flow of that consciousness?
M: Don’t talk, try to understand. Just talking about eating will not fill your stomach, you have to actually eat. You will not get eternal peace with knowledge derived out of words, only by Self-knowledge, Self-realization.
This article is reprinted from the book Seeds of Consciousness: The Wisdom of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. Copyright © 1982 Imogene Dunn.
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj was a spiritual teacher and beedie maker. His book I Am That is regarded by many people as the greatest spiritual text of the twentieth century.
Edited by Jean Dunn
During the last two years of his life, when he was dying of cancer, Nisargadatta held many conversations with visitors. Jean Dunn collected some of these conversations and published them in a series of three books. This is the first of the series. It contains conversations that occurred between July 1979 and April 1980.
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.
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.
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.