[Why focusing on the “I am” liberates.]
The very fact of observation alters the observer and the observed. After all, what prevents the insight into one’s true nature is the weakness and obtuseness of the mind and its tendency to skip the subtle and focus on the gross only. When you follow my advice and try to keep your mind on the notion of “I am” only, you become fully aware of your mind and its vagaries. Awareness, being lucid harmony (sattva) in action, dissolves dullness and quietens the restlessness of the mind and gently, but steadily changes its very substance. This change need not be spectacular; it may be hardly noticeable; yet it is a deep and fundamental shift from darkness to light, from inadvertence to awareness.
The reason people find it hard to get liberated is that they are playing the game of the mind. For example, they keep acquiring new information.
It’s less, not more, that liberates, and cleaning the mind is a big part of it. Though you will not feel anything great happening, great work indeed will be taking place in the gaps between thoughts. The transformation of the mind will make it no longer an enemy to liberation.
To rise in consciousness from one dimension to another, you need help. The help may not always come in the shape of a human person, it may be a subtle presence, a spark of intuition, but help must come. The inner self is watching and waiting for the son to return to his father. At the right time he arranges everything affectionately and effectively. Where a messenger is needed, or a guide, he sends the Guru to do the needful.
Many people wait for gurus to enter their lives and to guide them without realizing that Life itself and the Higher Self are the greatest gurus, and only those who really are blind to such everyday guidance will need to be helped by some human guru.
Those who are not spiritually discerning truly want to find a person who will solve all their problems, and this makes a big and lucrative market for fake gurus.
Because of the imperfections of the mind, its crudity and restlessness, lack of discernment and insight, it takes itself to be the body, not the Self. All that is needed is to purify the mind so that it can realize its identity with the Self. When the mind merges in the Self, the body presents no problems. It remains what it is, an instrument of cognition and action, the tool and the expression of the creative fire within.
Here Nisargadatta Maharaj provides a simple tool of liberation – purification of the mind. It’s the sickness of the mind that makes human life miserable. Once the disease is rooted out, no problems remain. The body is a part of nature so it will then simply follow its natural cycles and ways, without the interference of the mind which creates all the disease and misery of the world.
[How to treat pain and pleasure.]
Accept both as they come, enjoy both while they last, let them go, as they must.
This is a much more natural response to pleasure than shunning it when it’s there. Because when you shun it, your energy of resistance keeps you in the duality of likes and dislikes. So Nisargadatta Maharaj provides a simple tool of transcendence – accepting all that comes into your life, the good and the bad.
The body knows its measure, but the mind does not. Its appetites are numberless and limitless. Watch your mind with great diligence, for there lies your bondage and also the key to freedom.
It’s the mind that has perverted appetites, like making you overeat or overindulge in other pleasures. It’s not the disease of the body but the body is affected. Correct the mind through its purification and there will no longer be bodily ills.
Life itself is desireless. But the false self wants to continue – pleasantly. Therefore, it is always engaged in ensuring one’s continuity. Life is unafraid and free. As long as you have the idea of influencing events, liberation is not for you: the very notion of doership, of being a cause, is bondage.
It’s the false self that is afraid of death and wants to feel safe through the acquisition of goods and influencing events. But what you truly are fears nothing. So this naturally makes the personality false (as that which is eternal is not afraid of extinction).
Q: How can we overcome the duality of the doer and the done?
A: Contemplate life as infinite, undivided, ever present, ever active, until you realize yourself as one with it. It is not even very difficult, for you will be returning only to your own natural condition. Once you realize that all comes from within, that the world in which you live has not been projected onto you but by you, your fear comes to an end. Without this realization you identify yourself with the externals, like the body, mind, society, nation, humanity, even God or the Absolute. But these are all escapes from fear. It is only when you fully accept your responsibility for the little world in which you live and watch the process of its creation, preservation and destruction, that you may be free from your imaginary bondage.
Nisargadatta Maharaj says that destiny must fulfill itself, so even if you’re on a spiritual path, maybe family creation will happen and you will have to hold a job to support your kids. What’s written for you will have to be fulfilled and if you see your life as interconnected with all others, if you do not create divisions in your single projection (of this world), it will be easier to wake up.
No ambition is spiritual. All ambitions are for the sake of “I Am”. If you want to make real progress you must give up all idea of personal attainment. The ambitions of the so-called Yogis are preposterous.
If you have ambitions it means you still think that you can influence events and that you are the doer. But you are simply identified with the projection of your mind, with the figure in the movie called life. So when you truly understand this, you will have no ambitions whatsoever and will simply flow with life, aware, until you awaken.
Where this sense of equality is lacking, it means that reality has not been touched.
For an awakened person a stone and a piece of gold evoke no emotion. Those who are liberated treat everyone equally, be them rich or poor.
Q: Surely, when you are hungry you need food and when sick you need medicine.
A: Hunger brings the food and illness brings the medicine. It is all nature’s work.
This reminds me of the words of Jesus of not taking thought of tomorrow because today you have enough to deal with. If birds are fed without worrying and laboring for it, how come humans won’t. This also reminds me of people who want to end their lives but their time isn’t yet up; so they continue attempting suicides with the luckiest of escapes. Life will keep you alive until your arranged time of death.
Q: How does one reach the Supreme State?
A: By renouncing all lesser desires. As long as you are pleased with the lesser, you cannot have the highest. Whatever pleases you, keeps you back. Until you realize the unsatisfactoriness of everything, its transiency and limitation, and collect your energies in one great longing, even the first step is not made. (…) Nothing, physical or mental, can give you freedom. You are free once you understand that your bondage is of your own making and you cease forging the chains that bind you.
Like in Hinduism it is told that Maya (the illusion of this world) is like a lady dancing as long as you watch her. When you lose interest, she stops dancing, and then you find yourself in that which is real.
(…) unselfish action, free from all concern with the body and its interests will carry you into the very heart of Reality.
The people of the world take action based on the needs of their bodies. That’s because they believe to be the bodies. When, instead, your actions are guided by your real Self, the illusion of this world will lose its grip on you and you will get to the Real.
This “I am” idea was not born with you. You could have lived very well without it. It came later due to your self-identification with the body. It created an illusion of separation where there was none. It made you a stranger in your own world and made the world alien and inimical. (…) There are moments when we are without the sense of “I am”, at peace and happy. With the return of the “I am”, trouble starts.
This takes me back to two events of my childhood. The first – me watching with wonder the neighbor boy’s beautiful blond curly hair. At that time I didn’t know myself to be the body, I was just aware of the wonder of the world and the body was used unconsciously, as a tool to explore this world.
The second childhood memory is my mom and dad asking me what my name was and I not knowing it. They then proceeded to teach me yet again that my name is Simona. It’s other people that make us identify with the labels of name, race, nationality, city and so forth. Before that we are just awareness of this world. And these labels end up enslaving us because they imprison us in our bodies and separate us from the rest of the world.
You have met many anchorites and ascetics, but a fully realized man conscious of his divinity (svarupa) is hard to find. Saints and Yogis, by immense efforts and sacrifices, acquire many miraculous powers and can do much good in the way of helping people and inspiring faith; yet it does not make them perfect. It is not a way to reality, but merely an enrichment of the false.
There’s a worldly-spiritual way and a way to liberation. The spiritual people of the world still have many personal desires, such as to become great in power and magic abilities. They may appear spiritual, but their spirituality is of the world. Yes, they experience an enhanced way of living, but they still live in illusion.
Those who get liberated may have no unusual powers at all; yet they are firmly established in that which never perishes and which is their true nature.