Yet another set of quotes from the “I Am That” book by Nisargadatta Maharaj together with my commentary. Read part onetwothree, four, five and six.

Why don’t you create your own environment? The world has only as much power over you as you give it. Rebel, go beyond duality (…).

Sometimes Maharaj would say that a person is helpless to change anything about the world and sometimes – that he can change the entire world. When the person thinks himself to be the doer he’s helpless; when he goes beyond the sense phenomena and operates from his true nature (the creative void, awareness), that’s when he can influence the world.

Fearlessness comes by itself, when you see that there is nothing to be afraid of. When you walk in a crowded street you just bypass people. Some you see, some you just glance at, but you do not stop. It is the stopping that creates the bottleneck. Keep moving! Disregard names and shapes, don’t be attached to them; attachment is your bondage.

The mind becomes fixated upon some subject, and fear, hatred or desire is created. If we don’t pay too much attention to what we see outside of us or in the mind, we will not develop excessive interest leading to fears, desires and other emotional states.

(…) personally motivated action, based on some scale of values aiming at some result is worse than inaction, for its fruits are always bitter.

Personally motivated action is selfish action. Selfish action is always subjective and imbalanced. It’s when the action springs from being itself, without any personal consideration, that is the right one and creates positive results.

Q: My actions, surely, I can control.

A: Try. You will soon see that you do what you must.

The body itself is acting in this play without our involvement. It’s because we are identified with our bodies that we think that it is us that act. That’s why Nisargadatta says that you can try to be inactive if you wish to check this.

If you do this, you will find that the body naturally does what it’s supposed to do, be it waking, taking a bath, working, and so forth. It’s like when you cross the street absent-mindedly yet you are not hit by cars; the body knows how to do it without our involvement.

I tried it personally and I know this is true. The body will do what it’s supposed to do despite of your attempts to stay inactive. I believe that’s because of the heaviness of created karma that will make you act despite of whether you want it or not. But you have a choice in this still – you can just watch the body act therefore not creating any further karma, or you can be identified with it and thus create more of it.

To be free in the world you must be free of the world. Otherwise your past decides for you and your future. Between what had happened and what must happen you are caught. Call it destiny or karma, but never – freedom. First return to your true being and then act from the heart of love.

Like he said in another part of the book, it’s important to stay in the center of the wheel of action and not at its periphery. That will give you freedom. But when you’re caught in the happenings of the world you are in bondage.

You identify yourself with your desires and become their slave. To me desires are things among other things, mere clouds in the mental sky, and I do not feel compelled to act on them.

When people create a wish in their minds and get fixated on it, their actions will be directed towards getting it. Thus, they become the employees of that wish, so to speak. Therefore it’s wiser to just allow charged thoughts to pass by rather than become fixated on them as eventually this will grow into a desire.

The man who carries a parcel is anxious not to lose it – he is parcel-conscious. The man who cherishes the feeling “I am” is self-conscious. The gnani [the awakened one] holds onto nothing and cannot be said to be conscious. And yet he is not unconscious. He is the very heart of awareness. We call him digambara, clothed in space, the Naked One, beyond all appearance. There is no name and shape under which he may be said to exist, yet he is the only one that truly is.

That’s why people are encouraged to inquire into the nature of “I am”. Eventually this inquiry leads to the conclusion that there is nothing to be called “I am”. Dwelling on the “I am” is the same as dwelling on nothingness. That which is visible and sensed belongs to the perishable universe so this inquiry eventually leads you to that which you cannot grasp and you eventually indeed become the Naked One.

Attachment destroys courage. The giver is always ready to give. The taker is absent. Freedom means letting go. People just do not care to let go [of] everything. They do not know that the finite is the price of the infinite, as death is the price of immortality. Spiritual maturity lies in the readiness to let go [of] everything. The giving up is the first step.

Even if one small attachment to this existence remains the Ultimate cannot be gotten.

The body is made of food as the mind is made of thoughts. See them as they are. Non-identification, when natural and spontaneous, is liberation. You need not know what you are. Enough to know what you are not. What you are you will never know, for every discovery reveals new dimensions to conquer. The unknown has no limits.

I personally find it freeing to know that the mind is nothing but thoughts. Thus if we ignore thoughts, we can disidentify from the chattering insane mind.

Also, it’s freeing to know that liberation is not about the ultimate knowledge of the Self which is not possible since what the Self is cannot be experienced as experience is of this world and implies something you can touch, see or sense. If only we stop identifying with what we are not we can reach the other shore.

You have invented words like effort, inner, outer, self and soon, and seek to impose them on reality. Things just happen to be as they are, but we want to build them into a pattern, laid down by the structure of our language. So strong is this habit, that we tend to deny reality to what cannot be verbalized. We just refuse to see that words are mere symbols, related by convention and habit to repeated experiences.

The mind has the annoying quality of wanting to label everything. When you label anything, you cage it and it as though becomes dead. The mind likes to categorize too, which prevents it from seeing things as they really are.

Nisargadatta here implies that this habit of the mind may prevent one from getting liberated because talks about liberation have pointers to that which cannot be defined. Thus the mind, stuck with its labels and categories, is confused and may simply deny the existence of that which it cannot define.

Another danger is that some people have very narrow understanding of some words and instead of trying to grasp the whole meaning of spiritual talks, they will cling to specific translations of the world, thus missing the whole point. Spiritual things are hard to put in words so it’s important not to get stuck with their narrow meanings but read between the lines.

Some liberated teachers say about such people who get stuck with translations that they look at the finger pointing to their freedom rather than at the freedom itself.

(…) as long as one is conscious, there will be pain and pleasure. You cannot fight pain and pleasure on the level of consciousness. To go beyond them you must go beyond consciousness, which is possible only when you look at consciousness as something that happens to you and not in you, as something external, alien, superimposed. Then, suddenly you are free of consciousness, really alone, with nothing to intrude. And that is your true state. Consciousness is an itching rash that makes you scratch. Of course, you cannot step out of consciousness. But if you learn to look at your consciousness as a sort of fever, personal and private, in which you are enclosed like a chick in its shell, out of this very attitude will come the crisis which will break the shell.

Ramana Maharshi said something along the same lines. He said that as long as you are not liberated you cannot pretend that when your body is beaten you don’t feel pain. Of course you will.

So liberation means detaching from the whole “package” – the body, the mind, the world, the consciousness itself. Only then are you truly beyond your creation instead of being lost in it. And the way to detach from consciousness is by seeing it as something external and not of your nature.

All suffering is caused by selfish isolation, by insularity [narrow-mindedness] and greed. When the cause of suffering is seen and removed, suffering ceases.

It’s true that people who are very self-involved often suffer from depression and the way to end it is to go and help someone else. And those who are materially-minded are never satisfied with what they have. Narrow-mindedness is something that imprisons you in your beliefs and this of course causes suffering.

To understand suffering, you must go beyond pain and pleasure. Your own desires and fears prevent you from understanding and thereby helping others. In reality, there are no others, and by helping yourself you help everybody else. If you are serious about the sufferings of mankind, you must perfect the only means of help you have – yourself.

Nisargadatta often gave this advice to people who wanted to help the world – first help yourself. He told that people cannot blame others for cruel events such as wars because all of us with our unawareness contribute to them.

Therefore the best way to help the world is to firstly help ourselves – by changing our perspective and understanding that the world is our creation and it’s in us and not the other way round.

All happens as if there is a mysterious power that creates and moves everything. Realize that you are not the mover, only the observer, and you will be at peace.

We cannot die before our time and that should provide great comfort. If people would really believe that what’s supposed to happen will happen, there will be much less worry in this world. But because everyone believes they are the doers, they have an immense sense of responsibility and the background of anxiety in their minds.

Q: You are giving a certain date to your realization. It means something did happen to you at that date. What happened?

A: The mind ceased producing events. The ancient and ceaseless search stopped – I wanted nothing, expected nothing – accepted nothing as my own. There was no “me” left to strive for. Even the bare “I am” faded away. The other thing I noticed was that I lost all my habitual certainties. Earlier I was so sure of many things, now I am sure of nothing. But I feel that I have lost nothing by not knowing, because all my knowledge was false.

I notice that the more convinced people are that they know, it means they know very little and did little to no research; because when you dig deep you understand how little you know and how uncertain even the knowledge that you hold is.

In the immensity of consciousness a light appears, a tiny point that moves rapidly and traces shapes, thoughts and feelings, concepts and ideas, like the pen writing on paper. And the ink that leaves a trace is memory. You are that tiny point and by your movement the world is ever re-created. Stop moving, and there will be no world. Look within and you will find that the point of light is the reflection of the immensity of light in the body; as the sense “I am”. There is only light, all else appears.

We can witness this during the transitions – when we’re going to sleep, when we wake up, when we start seeing something in the mind’s eye during meditations. Consciousness is pregnant with creativity and it cannot but create; it strives to fill any blank state with scenes, things and shapes. Yet those who get liberated can dwell in the void rather than being caught in all this imagination.