Here is the next set of quotes from the “I Am That” book by Nisargadatta Maharaj together with my commentary. The first part of this series can be found here.

Watch your thoughts as you watch the street traffic. People come and go: you register without response. It may not be easy in the beginning, but with some practice you will find that your mind can function on many levels at the same time and you can be aware of them all. It is only when you have a vested interest in any particular level, that your attention gets caught in it and you black out on other levels. Even then the work on the blacked out levels goes on, outside of the field of consciousness.

Meditators know that the mind is capable of working on many levels. For example, you can be aware of the thoughts that come into your mind, plan something at the same time and be aware of these two processes.

(…) indifferent to pain and pleasure, neither asking, nor refusing, give all your attention to the level on which “I am” is timelessly present. Soon you will realize that peace and happiness are in your very nature and it is only seeking them through some particular channels that disturbs.

People seek happiness outside of themselves and because they leave the source of happiness by turning outside, they experience misery. When we turn within we discover the true source of happiness. Also Maharaj says that if pleasure or pain come, accept them but don’t seek for pleasure and don’t try to escape pain. If they’re there, just be okay with that.

You need not stop thinking. Just cease being interested. It is disinterestedness that liberates. Don’t hold on, that’s all. The world is made of rings, the hooks are all yours. Make straight your hooks and nothing can hold you. (…) Stop your routine of acquisitiveness, your habit of looking for results and the freedom of the universe if yours.

Here Maharaj explains that the world simply presents the content, and it’s us that’s interested in it. So when we stop being interested in all the phenomena of the world, we will achieve liberation. Also, if we don’t see the need to acquire more (things, knowledge) and work for the sake of working and not in order to receive something, we will free ourselves.

When the mind is in its natural state, it reverts to silence spontaneously after every experience, or, rather, every experience happens against the background of silence.

That’s the experience of liberated persons. Their minds are quiet, and when some problem arises, something that requires action, the right action springs from the void. The mind of a non-liberated person acts like a drunkard, unable to control itself, always lost in illusions.

Keeping away from all desires and contentment in what comes by itself is a very fruitful state – a precondition to the state of fullness. Don’t distrust its apparent sterility and emptiness. Believe me, it’s the satisfaction of desires that breeds misery. Freedom from desires is bliss.

Maharaj explains that although the state of being happy with what is and no longer forming new desires may seem dull, it’s actually the ripening whose fruit is liberation. So although nothing is much happening, beyond the surface a lot is going on.

What you need will come to you, if you do not ask for what you do not need. Yet only few people reach this state of complete dispassion and detachment. It’s a very high state, the very threshold of liberation.

There comes a state in the ripening of the soul where the person is totally happy with what he has. The energy remains with the person, not wasted on a million of contradicting wishes. Therefore when there comes a necessity to want some change, the change comes effortlessly to such a person by mere intention, because the whole focus will be directed there (rather than it being diffused into many channels). The next step for such a person is liberation.

The are always moments when one feels empty and estranged. Such moments are most desirable for it means that soul has cast its moorings and is sailing for distant places. This is detachment – when the old is over and the new has not yet come.

There’s a period of grieving when the old has been shed. It’s a natural state of desolation but the good news is, it means the being truly has distanced herself from the old and will soon get to the new. That’s one of the ways to grow.

The absolute precedes time. Awareness comes first. A bundle of memories and mental habits attracts attention, awareness gets focalized and a person suddenly appears. Remove the light of awareness, go to sleep or swoon away – and the person disappears. The person (vyakti) flickers, awareness (vyakta) contains all space and time, the absolute (avyakta) – is.

Maharaj explains that we are not bodies living in this world but the whole world, including our bodies, are in us. We are the awareness that attaches itself to visible phenomena and totally identifies with it. It’s hard to see this truth by observing this world as it looks so real, yet when we get caught up in thoughts or sleep, where is the body and the world then?

The mind imprisoned us in our bodies whilst he says that before this taking place, the awareness would simply experience worldly phenomena as a whole without looking at it from the body perspective.

I guess it’s similar to how in dreams we can jump in awareness from experiencing the dream phenomena in the dream body, then looking at the body, and then experiencing it as awareness itself or through yet another body.

When you hold on to nothing, no trouble arises. The relinquishing of the lesser is the gaining of the greater. Give up all and you gain all. Then life becomes what it was meant to be: pure radiation from an inexhaustible source.

This reminds me of the life of Jesus who had nothing worldly yet he possessed great power to heal, even to raise from the dead.

[About this reality.] While it lasts, the dream has temporary being. It is your desire to hold on to it, that creates the problem. Let go. Stop imagining that dream of yours.

Maharaj explains that we are not the doers in this projection. Things just happen. If we think our efforts bring results, and if we take this world seriously and therefore try to secure our survival in it, this brings misery as we get entangled in the illusion that we ourselves projected.

When you know that you lack nothing, that all there is, is you and yours, desire ceases.

Maharaj also explains that if you truly understand that you are not in the world but the world is in you, all dislikes and combativeness cease because you understand that all beings and events are parts of your own projected reality. You start treating everyone as a part of you rather than a stranger.

There is nothing to practice. To know yourself, be yourself. To be yourself, stop imagining yourself to be this or that. Just be. Let your true nature emerge. Don’t disturb your mind with seeking.

Maharaj gives different pieces of advice to different persons, depending on how deeply enmeshed in this projection they are. Sometimes he advises meditation, sometimes – mind observation, sometimes – simply being.

If people are able to to detach from the labels of their occupation, place of living, nationality, sex, etc., then by letting go of the unreal they can quickly discover their true nature.

Whenever matter organizes itself into a stable organism, consciousness appears spontaneously. With the destruction of the organism consciousness disappears.

He was often asked by people what happens after death. Maharaj would explain that the body dissolves and the consciousness together with it, but that we are not consciousness. We are the awareness that watches everything.

In the next two paragraphs Maharaj explains his state of being after liberation.

Having realized that I am one with, and yet beyond the world, I became free from all desire and fear. I did not reason out that I should be free – I found myself free – unexpectedly, without the least effort. This freedom from desire and fear has remained with me since then. Another thing I noticed was that I do not need to make an effort; the deed follows the thought, without delay and friction.

I have also found that thoughts become self-fulfilling; things would fall in place smoothly and rightly. The main change was in the mind; it became motionless and silent, responding quickly, but not perpetuating the response. Spontaneity became a way of life, the real became natural, and the natural became real. And above all, infinite affection, love, dark and quiet, radiating in all directions, embracing all, making all interesting and beautiful, significant and auspicious.

It is the experience of mindful people who do not have desires and who detached from the results of their work, that whenever any works needs to be done, their bodies do it easily, effortlessly.

In India some people practice non-speaking and after the resumption of speaking they tell no lies. They find that this makes their speech come true – whatever they say comes into being. Maharaj says that after liberation not only speech but the thoughts itself manifest into being.

Suffering is due entirely to clinging or resisting; it is a sign of our unwillingness to move on, to flow with life.

Here Maharaj especially focuses on mental suffering and not so much bodily; people who are miserable tend to keep returning to the subjects, people or events that hurt them rather than letting go and allowing life to bring fresh experiences.

As a sane life is free of pain, so is a saintly life free from suffering. (…) The essence of saintliness is total acceptance of the present moment, harmony with things as they happen. A saint does not want things to be different from what they are; he knows that, considering all factors, they are unavoidable. He is friendly with the inevitable and, therefore, does not suffer.

A saint understands that she’s not the doer. So she accepts all this life brings. This acceptance keeps her not involved with the illusion and therefore she doesn’t suffer.