I Am That

Excerpts from I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

All your problems are your body’s problems. All these lose their meaning the moment you realize that you may not be a mere body. You are nothing perceivable, or imaginable.#

Memory creates the illusion of continuity.

Time, space, causation are mental categories, arising and subsiding with the mind.

Nothing can happen unless the entire universe makes it happen. A thing is as it is, because the universe is as it is.

The world you can perceive is a very small world indeed. And it is entirely private. Take it to be a dream and be done with it.

Awareness is absolute, consciousness is relative to its content; consciousness is always of something.

To me it is ‘a body’, not ‘my body’, ‘a mind’, not ‘my mind’.

A tremendously complex work is going on all the time in your brain and body, are you conscious of it? Not at all. Yet for an outsider all seems to be going on intelligently and purposefully. Why not admit that one’s entire personal life may sink largely below the threshold of consciousness and yet proceed sanely and smoothly?

A healthy body, a healthy mind live largely unperceived by their owner; only occasionally, through pain or suffering they call for attention and insight. Why not extend the same to the entire personal life? one can function rightly, responding well and fully to whatever happens, without having to bring it into the focus of awareness.

Like a hole in the paper is both in the paper and yet not of the paper, so is the supreme state in the very centre of consciousness, and yet beyond consciousness. It is as if an opening in the mind through which the mind is flooded with light. The opening is not even the light, it is just an opening.

However long a life may be, it is but a moment and a dream.

When you believe yourself to be a person, you see persons everywhere. In reality there are no persons, only threads of memories and habits. At the moment of realization the person ceases.

As long as you cling to the idea that only what has name and shape exists, the Supreme will appear to you non-existing. When you understand that names and shapes are hollow shells without any content whatsoever, and what is real is nameless and formless, pure energy of life and light of consciousness, you will be at peace — immersed in the deep silence of reality.#

[Reality] It is deep and dark, mystery beyond mystery. But it is, while all else merely happens.

Not making use of one’s consciousness is samadhi. You just leave your mind alone. You want nothing, neither from your body nor from your mind.#

There is only light and light is all. Everything else is but a picture made of light. Life and death, self and not-self — abandon all these ideas. They are of no use to you.

The person is a very small thing. It is but a shadow of the mind, the sum total of memories.#

Imagination based on memories is unreal. The unexpected and unpredictable is real.

The only true statement you can make (is) ‘I am’. Establish yourself firmly in the awareness of ‘I am’. This is the beginning and also the end of all endeavour.

Nothing of value can happen to a mind which knows exactly what it wants. For nothing the mind can visualize and wants if of much value.#

Distrust your mind, and go beyond. Give up thinking. Remain inwardly free and quiet, with a mirror-like mind, which reflects all, without being affected.

Meditation will help you find your bonds, loosen them, untie them and cast your moorings. When you are no longer attached to anything, you have done your share. The rest will be done for you.

The ideas: I am born at a given place, at a given time, from my parents and now I am so-and-so, living at, married to, father of, employed by, and so on, are not inherent in the sense ‘I am.’ Our usual attitude is of ‘I am this.’ Separate consistently and perseveringly the ‘I am’ from ‘this’ or ‘that,’ and try to feel what it means to be, just be, without being ‘this’ or ‘that.’ On the level of the mind you can be described in negative terms only.

When you shall begin to question your dream, awakening will be not far away.

The mind projects the world, built of memory and imagination. #

And as to the people you want to help, they are in their respective worlds for the sake of their desires; there is no way of helping them except through their desires.

You cling to personality — but you are conscious of being a person only when you are in trouble — when you are not in trouble you do not think of yourself.

A man who claims to know what is good for others, is dangerous.

The world has no existence apart from you. At every moment it is but a reflection of yourself. You create it, you destroy it.

Anxiety and hope are born of imagination.

Experience is, after all, a state of mind.

In reality each step brings you to your goal, because to be always on the move, learning, discovering, unfolding, is your eternal destiny. Living is life’s only purpose.#

Once you know with absolute certainty that nothing can trouble you but your own imagination, you come to disregard your desires and fears, concepts and ideas and live by truth alone.

I follow no rules nor lay down rules, I flow with life — faithfully and irresistibly.

Just realize that you are dreaming a dream you call the world, and stop looking for ways out. The dream is not your problem. Your problem is that you like one part of the dream and not another. Love all, or none of it, and stop complaining. When you have seen the dream as a dream, you have done all that needs to be done.

Everybody sees the world through the idea he has of himself. As you think yourself to be, so you think the world to be.#

Resolutely remind yourself that you are not the mind and that its problems are not yours.

It is neither necessary, nor possible to change others. But if you can change yourself you will find that no other change is needed.#

Is the mind real? It is but a collection of states, each of them transitory. How can a succession of transitory state be considered real? The illusion of being the body-mind is like darkness in a closed room. It is there — apparently. But when the room is opened, where does it go?

The body is an integration in the mind of a vast number of sensory perceptions, each perception also a mental state. Both mind and body are intermittent states. The sum total of these flashes creates the illusion of existence.#

The question ‘Who am I’ has no answer. No experience can answer it, for the self is beyond experience.

To be free in the world, you must die to the world.

Knowledge is but a memory.

Words are of the mind and the mind obscures and distorts.

Identity is merely a pattern of events in time and space. Change the pattern and you have changed the man.

When I say: ‘I am,’ I do not mean a separate entity with a body as its nucleus. I mean the totality of being, the ocean of consciousness, the entire universe of all that is and knows. I have nothing to desire for I am complete forever.

When the time comes for the world to be helped, some people are given the will, the wisdom and the power to cause great changes.#

You do not come from somewhere, you do not go anywhere. You are timeless being and awareness.

As yo watch your mind, you discover your self as the watcher. When you stand motionless, only watching, you discover your self as the light behind the watcher. #

See all as a dream and stay out of it.

Reality is not an event and does not happen and whatever happens, whatever comes and goes, is not reality.

When you demand nothing of the world, nor of God, when you want nothing, seek nothing, expect nothing then the Supreme State will come to you uninvited and unexpected!

Give up all ideas about yourself and simply be. Stop making use of your mind and see what happens.

Your weakness is due to your conviction that you were born into the world. In reality the world is ever created in you and by you.

Don’t mentalize and verbalize. Just see and be.

You have projected onto yourself a world of your own imagination, based on memories, on desires and fears, and that you have imprisoned yourself in it. Once you realize that the world is your own projection, you are free of it. You need not free yourself of a world that does not exist, except in your own imagination.

When you look at anything, it is the ultimate you see, but you imagine that you see a cloud or a tree. Realize that every mode of perception is subjective, that what is seen or heard, touched or smelt, felt or thought, expected or imagined, is in the mind and not in reality. #

First we must know ourselves as witnesses only, dimensionless and timeless centers of observation.

Your being a person is due to the illusion of space and time; you imagine yourself to be at a certain point occupying a certain volume; your personality is due to your self-identification with the body. Your thoughts and feelings exist in succession, they have their span in time and make you imagine yourself, because of memory, as having duration. In reality time and space exist in you; you do not exist in them. They are modes of perception, but they are not the only ones. Time and space are like words written on paper; the paper is real, the words merely a convention.

Think of yourself as momentary, without past and future and your personality dissolves. You do not need to remember in order to be. #

Just cease imagining. Don’t try to understand.

This complete aloofness, unconcern with mind and body is the best proof that at the core of your being you are neither mind nor body. Whatever happens, remind yourself that only your body and mind are affected, not yourself. #

Do not pretend that you love others as yourself. Unless you have realized them as one with yourself, you cannot love them. Without self-realization, no virtue is genuine.

The mind is but a set of mental habits, of ways of thinking and feeling, and to change they must be brought to the surface and examined.

When you know what is going on in your mind, you call it consciousness. Then comes awareness, the direct insight into the whole of consciousness, the totality of the mind. Awareness is the cognizance of consciousness as a whole.

Awareness is unattached and unshaken. It is lucid, silent, peaceful, alert and unafraid, without desire and fear.

Mind is interested in what happens, while awareness is interested in the mind itself. #

To be free from thoughts is itself meditation. The state of freedom from all thoughts will happen suddenly and by the bliss of it you shall recognize it.

As long as people are as they are, the world must be as it is. #

Just as light destroys darkness by its very presence, so does the absolute destroy imagination. To see that all knowledge is a form of ignorance is itself a movement of reality.

Awareness becomes consciousness when it has an object. Awareness by itself is motionless and timeless.

Unless there is order in yourself, there can be nor order in the world.

See the light and disregard the picture.

Heal your mind and it will cease to project distorted, ugly pictures.

Realize that your present existence is like a shower of sparks, each spark lasting a second and the shower itself — a minute or two.

As long as you pay attention to ideas, your own or of others, you will be in trouble.

You believe the world to be objective, while it is entirely a projection of your psyche. You have to think yourself out of it. There is no other way.

Watch your thoughts as you watch the street traffic. People come and go; you register without response. No memory will persist, if you lose interest in it; it is the emotional link that perpetuates the bondage.

You need not stop thinking. Just cease being interested. It is disinterestedness that liberates.

From moment to moment, the little I need to know to live my life, I somehow happen to know. #

Within the immensity of space floats a tiny atom of consciousness and in it the entire universe is contained. #

Be empty of all mental content, of all imagination and effort, and the very absence of obstacles will cause reality to rush in.

As life before death is but imagination, so is life after. The dream continues.

The world you perceive is made of consciousness; what you call matter is consciousness itself. You are the space (akash) in which it moves, the time in which it lasts, the love that gives it life.

The world in which you live has not been projected onto you but by you. Without this realization you identify yourself with the externals, like the body, mind, society, nation, humanity, even God the Absolute.

Realize that what you are cannot be born nor die and with the fear gone all suffering ends.

Realize yourself as the ocean of consciousness in which all happens.

There is a state beyond consciousness, which is not unconscious. It is pure awareness.

Do understand that you are destined for enlightenment.

You already have all the experience you need, otherwise you would not have come here. You need not gather any more, rather you must go beyond experience. Whatever effort you make, whatever method (sadhana) you follow, will merely generate more experience, but will not take you beyond. Nor will reading books help you. They will enrich your mind, but the person you are will remain intact. If you expect any benefits from your search, material, mental or spiritual, you have missed the point. Truth gives no advantage. It gives you no higher status, no power over others; all you get is truth and the freedom from the false.

You are so accustomed to think of yourselves as bodies having consciousness that you just cannot imagine consciousness as having bodies. #

You are the infinite focused in a body.

There is nothing to do. Just be. Do nothing. Be.

Don’t try to convey it to others. If you can, it is not the real thing. Be silent and watch it expressing itself in action. #

In a few years your stay in India will appear as a dream to you. You will dream some other dream at that time. Do realize that it is not you who moves from dream to dream, but the dreams flow before you and you are the immutable witness. No happening affects your real being.

You are what you think yourself to be, but you cannot think yourself to be what you have not experienced.

Desire is merely the fixation of the mind on an idea.

The image you have of yourself is made up from memories and is purely accidental. #

In reality there is only perception. The perceiver and the perceived are conceptual, the fact of perceiving is actual.

The legitimate function of the mind is to tell you what is not. But if you want positive knowledge, you must go beyond the mind.

[What remains when the ‘person’ is gone?] A vague memory remains, like the memory of a dream, or early childhood. After all, what is there to remember? A flow of events, mostly accidental and meaningless. A sequence of desires and fears and inane blunders. Is there anything worth remember? The person is but a shell imprisoning you. Break the shell.

Whatever you think about with desire or fear appears before you as real.

Most of people’s activities are valueless, if not outright destructive.

Have you felt the all-embracing emptiness in which the universe swims like a cloud in the sky?

For whatever happens, all the universe is responsible and you are the source of the universe.

Whenever a thought or emotion of desire or fear comes to your mind,just turn away from it. Just refuse attention.

When you do not resist, you meet no resistance. When you refuse to play the game, you are out of it.

Through the film of your mind you project a world and also a God to give it cause and purpose. It is all imagination — step out of it.

Whatever decision you take, whatever work you do it will be invariably based on imagination, on assumptions parading as facts.

The person may be conscious, but is not aware of being conscious. It is completely identified with that it thinks and feels and experiences.

The mind craves for experience, the memory of which it takes for knowledge.

The death of the mind is the birth of wisdom.

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.

When you know yourself as a center of consciousness, the world appears as the ocean of the mind.

To go beyond (pain and pleasure) 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.

For reality to be, the ideas of ‘me’ and ‘mine’ must go.

Once you have nothing you have no problems.

I found myself desiring and knowing less and less, until I could say in utter astonishment: ‘I know nothing, I want nothing.’

In the immensity of consciousness a light appears, a tiny point that moves rapidly and traces shapes, thoughts and feelings, concepts and ideas, like a pen writing on paper. And the ink that leaves a trace is memory. You are that tiny point and by our movement the world is ever re-created. Stop moving, and there will be no world.

That which knows that it does not know, which is free of memory and anticipation, is timeless.

Be clear and quiet — alert and detached, all else will happen by itself.

The dissolution of personality is followed always by a sense of great relief, as if a heavy burden has fallen off.

Your hope lies in keeping silent in your mind and quiet in your heart. Realized people are very quiet.

Awareness is ever there. It need not be realized. Open the shutter of the mind, and it will be flooded with light.

Wherever there is life and consciousness, you are.

Matter and mind are not separate, they are aspects of one energy.

Realize that no ideas are your own, they all come to you from outside.

The light of consciousness passes through the film of memory and throws pictures on your brain. Because of the deficient and disordered state of your brain, what you perceive is distorted and coloured by feelings of like and dislike. #

Things are as they are and nobody in particular is responsible.

The state before you were born is also the state after death, if you remember.

Words do not create facts; they either describe them or distort. The fact is always non-verbal.

To know that you are a prisoner of your mind, that you live in an imaginary world of your own creation is the dawn of wisdom.

Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.

Unless you know yourself well, how can you know another. And when you know yourself — you are the other.

Reality is not a shapeless mass, a wordless chaos. It is powerful, aware, blissful; compared to it your life is like a candle to the sun.

I do not know, I am.

You are pure consciousness, not a body-mind.

“Wet cloth looks, feels, smells differently as long as it is wet. When dry it is again the normal cloth. Water has left it and who can make out that it was wet? Your real nature is not like what you appear to be. Give up the idea of being a person, that is all.

All your preoccupations with yourself are only during waking hours and partly in your dreams; in sleep all is put aside and forgotten. It shows how little important is your waking life, even to yourself, that merely lying down and closing the eyes can end it. Each time you go to sleep you do so without the least certainty of waking up and yet you accept the risk.

The moment you start talking you create a verbal universe, a universe of words, ideas, concepts and abstractions, interwoven and interdependent, most wonderfully generating, supporting and explaining each other and yet all without essence or substance, mere creations of the mind. Words create words, reality is silent.

Look at yourself as performing on the stage of life. The performance may be splendid or clumsy, but you are not in it, you merely watch it; with interest and sympathy, of course, but keeping in mind all the time that you are only watching while the play — life — is going on.

I have lived a life-time, and now what is left with me? A bundle of events, at best a short story. #

Once you realize that all happens by itself, (call it destiny, or the will of God or mere accident), you remain as witness only, understanding and enjoying, but not perturbed. #

To be a person is to be asleep.

When you realize that all is in your mind and that you are beyond the mind, that you are truly alone; then all is you.

You are nothing that you are conscious of.

Once you know that death happens to the body and not to you, you just watch your body following off like a discarded garment.

Memory has power over you as long as you trust it; don’t struggle with it; just disregard it. What problems can there be which the mind did not create? It is memory and anticipation that creat problems.

Freedom is freedom from worry. Having realized that you cannot influence the results, pay no attention to your desires and fears. Let them come and go.

It is not what you do, but what you stop doing that matters. #

Once you realize that there is nothing in this world, which you can call your own, you look at it from the outside as you look at a play on the stage, or a picture on a screen, admiring and enjoying, but really unmoved.

Your true home is in nothingness, in emptiness of all content. The experience of being empty, uncluttered by memories and expectations.

Look at the content of your mind. You are what you think about. #

You cannot prepare for the present.

The search for reality is the most dangerous of all undertakings for it will destroy the world in which you live. #

Do not imagine that you can change through effort. All you have to do is to abandon all memories and expectations. Don’t hold on to the person you take yourself to be. Be nothing, know nothing, have nothing. #

It will dawn on you suddenly, when the obstacles are removed to some extent. It is like a frayed rope snapping. Yours is to work at the strands.

I know no bad people, I only know myself. I see no saints nor sinners, only living beings.

You can be happy in the world only when you are free of it.

The world appears to you so overwhelmingly real, because you think of it all the time; cease thinking of it and it will dissolve into thin mist.

Once you see that you are dreaming, you shall wake up. But you do not see, because you want the dream to continue. (To end the dream) the price will be dispassion and detachment, the loss of interest in the dream itself.

As long as you have a self to defend, you must be violent.

You do not need to worry about your worries. Just be. Do not try to be quiet; do not make ‘being quiet’ into a task to be performed. Don’t say: ‘yes, I am; what next?’ There is no ‘next’ in ‘I am.’ #

As long as you have all sorts of ideas about yourself, you know yourself through the mist of these ideas; to know yourself as you are, give up all ideas.

All you need is to be aware of being, not as a verbal statement, but as an ever-present fact.

See the urgent need of being free of this unnecessary self-identification with a bundle of memories and habits.

At every moment, whatever happens now, is for the best.

Recorded religions are mere heaps of verbiage. Not what you say, but what you do is that matters.

It is very difficult to abandon words. Our mental life is one continuous stream of words.

You cannot be conscious of what does not change. All consciousness is consciousness of change.

It is the person you imagine yourself to be that suffers, not you. Dissolve it in awareness.

‘Nothing is me,’ is the first step. ‘Everything is me’ is the next.

Keep in mind your goal of freedom, until it dawns on you that you are already free. #

You take remembering to be knowledge.

Look at your body and mind as something that happens without committing you in any way.

There is nothing to seek and find, for there is nothing lost. Your blind groping is full of promise. Your very searching is the finding. You cannot fail. #

The world you think of is your own mind. It is a projection of memories.

I have lived a life-time, and now what is left with me? A bundle of events, at best a short story.

A man should be always in revolt against himself, for the ego, like a crooked mirror, narrows down and distorts. It is the worst of all tyrants, it dominates you absolutely.

“two body-minds exchange symbolic noises. In reality nothing happens.”

The experience of being empty, uncluttered by memories and expectations; it is like the happiness of open spaces, of being young, of having all the time and energy for doing things, for discovery, for adventure.

 

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