Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj was an enlightened being whose book, 'I AM THAT', is referred by many as the "modern spiritual classic";
it is a collection of his talks with many Eastern and Western spiritual seekers. Like 'Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi' this one too,
directly points out to the substratum of PureConsciousness-Bliss Self within the seeker. The book is available online at
Nisargadatta Maharaj Site. Some other sites related to Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj are Nisargadatta.net,
Neti Neti Films, Advaita Fellowship.
Following are few quotations from Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. These quotations are from his main book 'I AM THAT'; relevant book
name/page number is mentioned below each quotation.
Ø We dream that we are awake, we dream that we are asleep. The three states are only varieties of the dream state.
Treating everything as a dream liberates. -I Am That, P181
Ø ... ... or you may not bother about anything you want or think or do and just stay put in the thought and feeling ‘I am’, focusing
‘I am’ firmly in your mind. All kinds of experience may come to you - remain unmoved in the knowledge that all perceivable is
transient and only the ‘I am’ endures. -ibid P47
Ø Q: … how to shift focus of consciousness beyond mind?
M: Refuse all thoughts except one: the thought of ‘I Am’. The mind will rebel in the beginning, but with patience and perseverance it
will yield and keep quiet. Once you are quiet things will begin to happen spontaneously and quite naturally, without any interference
on your part. -ibid P17
Ø Q: Between the spirit and the body, is it love that provides the bridge?
M: What else? Mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it. -ibid P8
Ø What happens to the body and the mind may not be within your power to change, but you can always put an end to your imagining to be
body and mind. Whatever happens, remind yourself that only your body and mind are affected, not yourself. -ibid P201
Ø Q: What gives the present that ‘stamp of reality’?
A: There is nothing peculiar in the present event to make it different from the past and future. For a moment the past was actual and
the future will become so. What makes the present so different? Obviously, my presence. I am real for I am always now, in the present,
and what is with me now shares in my reality. The past is in memory, the future – in imagination. There is nothing in the present
event itself that makes it stand out as real. ... A thing focused in the now is with me, for I am ever present; it is my own reality
that I impart to the present event. -ibid P6
Ø Q: What is the use of quiet mind?
A: When the mind is quiet, we come to know ourselves as the pure witness. We withdraw from the experience and its experiencer and
stand apart in pure awareness, which is between and beyond the two. The personality bases on self-identification, on imagining oneself
to be something: ‘I am this, I am that’, continues but only as a part of objective world. It’s identification with the witness snaps. -ibid P13
Ø Q: ... past and future exists?
A: In the mind only. Time is in the mind, space is in the mind. The law of cause and effect is also a way of thinking. In reality all
is here and now and all is one. Multiplicity and diversity are in the mind only. -ibid P110
Ø Get hold of the main thing that the world and the Self are one and perfect. Only your attitude is faulty and needs re-adjustment.
This is process of re-adjustment is what you call sadhana. -ibid P134
Ø Live your life without hurting anybody. Harmlessness is a most powerful form of yoga and it will take you speedily to your goal.
This is what I call nisarga yoga, the natural yoga. It is the art of living in peace and harmony, in friendliness and love.
The fruit of it is happiness, uncaused and endless. -ibid P165
Ø Those who make plans will be born to carry them out. Those who make no plans need not be born. -ibid P170
Ø Fight with all the strength at your disposal against the idea that you are nameable and describable. You are not. Refuse to think of
yourself in terms of this or that. There is no other way out of misery, which you have created for yourself through blind acceptance
without investigation. Suffering is a call for enquiry, all pain needs investigation. Don’t be lazy to think. -ibid P195
Ø Do not pretend that you love others as yourself. Unless you have realized them as one with yourself, you can not love them. Don’t
pretend to be what you are not. Don’t refuse to be what you are. ... ... Without self-realization, no virtue is genuine. ... ... Alienation
causes fear and fear deepens alienation. It is a vicious circle. Only self-realization can break it. Go for it resolutely. -ibid P204
Ø Mind is interested in what happens, while awareness is interested in mind itself. The child is after the toy, but the mother watches
the child, not the toy. -ibid P212
Ø Remember to remember: ‘Whatever happens – happens because I am’. All reminds you that you are. Take full advantage of the fact that
to experience you must be. You need not stop thinking. Just cease being interested. It is disinterestedness that liberates. -ibid P231
Ø All the three states – of waking, dreaming and sleeping – are subjective, personal, intimate. They all happen to and are contained
within the little bubble in consciousness, called ‘I’. The real world lies beyond the self. -ibid P269
Ø As long as the observer, the inner self, the ‘higher’ self, considers himself apart from the observed, the ‘lower’ self, despises
it and condemns it, the situation is hopeless. It is only when the observer (vyakta) accepts the person (vyakti) as a
projection or manifestation of himself and takes the self into the Self, so to say, the duality if ‘I’ and ‘this’ goes and in the
identity of the outer and the inner the Supreme Reality manifests itself. -ibid P279
Ø ... Do understand that you are destined for enlightenment. Cooperate with your destiny, don’t go against it. Don’t thwart it. Allow
it to fulfill itself. All you have to do is to give attention to the obstacles created by the foolish mind. -ibid P297
Ø You are so accustomed to think of yourselves as bodies having consciousness that you can not imagine consciousness as having bodies.
Once you realize that bodily existence is but a state of mind, a movement in consciousness, that the ocean of consciousness is
infinite and eternal, and that, when in touch with consciousness, you are the witness only, you will be able to withdraw beyond consciousness
altogether. -ibid P312
Ø Q: One more question. You said that before I was born I was one with the Pure Being of Reality; who decided that I should be born?
A: In reality you were never born and shall never die. But now you imagine that you are, or have a body and you ask what has brought
about this state. Within the limits of illusion the answer is: desire born from memory attracts you to a body and makes you think as
one with it. But this is true only from the relative point of view. In fact there is no body, nor world to contain it; there is only
a mental condition, a dream-like state, easy to dispel by questioning its reality. -ibid P408
Ø ... realize that your present existence is like a shower of sparks, each spark lasting a second and the shower itself – a minute or
two. Surely a thing of which the beginning is the end can have no middle. ... ... Reality can not be momentary. It is timeless, but
timelessness is not duration. -ibid P224
Ø In the great mirror of consciousness, images arise and disappear and only memory gives them continuity. And memory is material,
destructible, perishable, and transient. On such flimsy foundations we build a sense of personal existence – vague, intermittent, and
dreamlike. This vague persuasion: ‘I-am-so-and-so’, obscures the changeless state of pure awareness and makes us believe that we are
born to suffer and to die. -ibid P108
Ø ... one must know that the real exists and is of the nature of witness-consciousness. Of course it is beyond the witness, but to
enter it one must first realize the state of pure witnessing. The awareness of conditions brings one to the unconditioned. -ibid P168
Ø Of course the self based on memory is momentary. But such self demands unbroken continuity behind it. You know from experience that
there are gaps when your self is forgotten. What brings it back to life? What wakes you up in the morning? There must be some constant
factor bridging the gaps in consciousness. If you watch carefully you will find that even your daily consciousness is in flashes, with
gaps intervening all the time. What is in the gaps? What can there be but your real being, that is timeless; mind and mindlessness are
one in it. -ibid P317
Ø M: ... Only in complete self-abnegation is there a chance to discover our real being.
Q: Why so much stress on self-abnegation?
M: As much as on self-realization. The false self must be abandoned before the real self can be found. -ibid P105
Ø During the waking hours you are, as if, on the stage, playing a role, but what are you when the play is over? You are what you are;
what you were before the play began, you remain when it is over. 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. -ibid P428
Ø The door that locks you in is also the door that lets you out. The ‘I am’ is the door. Stay at it until it opens. As a matter of fact,
it is open, only you are not at it. You are waiting at the non-existent painted doors, which will never open. -ibid P422
Ø As long as you imagine yourself to be something tangible and solid, a thing among things, actually existing in time and space, short-lived
and vulnerable, naturally you will be anxious to survive and increase. But when you know yourself as beyond space and time – in contact
with them only at the point of here and now, unassailable, invulnerable – you will be afraid no longer. Know yourself as you are – against
fear there is no other remedy. -ibid P464
Ø This Reality is so concrete, so actual, so much more tangible than mind and matter, that compared to it even diamond is soft like
butter. This overwhelming actuality makes the world dreamlike, misty, irrelevant. -ibid P463
Ø M: ... You are not what you think yourself to be, I assure you. The image you have of yourself is made up from memories and is
Q: What I am is the result of my karma.
M: What you appear to be, you are not. Karma is only a word you have learnt to repeat. You have never been, nor shall ever be, a person.
Refuse to consider yourself as one. But as long as you do not even doubt yourself to be a Mr. So-and-So, there is little hope. When
you refuse to open your eyes, what can you be shown? ... ...
... ... It is the indifference to your own suffering that perpetuates it. ...
... The Absolute can be reached by absolute devotion only. Don’t be half-hearted.
Q: I must begin with some absolute truth. Is there any?
M: Yes, there is, the feeling ‘I am’. Begin with that.
Q: Nothing else is true?
M: All else is neither true nor false. It seems real when it appears, it disappears when it is denied. A transient thing is a mystery. -ibid P323-324
Ø Q: In my present state ‘I am the body’ idea comes spontaneously, while the ‘I am pure being’ idea must be imposed on the mind as
something true but not experienced.
M: Yes, sadhana (practice) consists of reminding oneself forcibly one’s pure ‘being-ness’, of not being anything particular, nor
a sum of particulars, not even the totality of all particulars which makes up a universe. All exists in mind, even the body is an integration
in the mind of a vast number of sensory perceptions, each perception is also a mental state. If you say ‘I am the body’, show it.
Q: Here it is.
M: Only when you think of it. Both mind and body are intermittent states. The sum total of these flashes creates the illusion of existence.
Enquire what is permanent in the transient, real in the unreal. This is sadhana.
Q: The fact is that I am thinking of myself as the body.
M: Think of yourself by all means. Only don’t bring the idea of body into the picture. There is only a stream of sensations,
perceptions, memories, and ideations. The body is an abstraction; created by our tendency to seek unity in diversity – which again
is not wrong. -ibid P129
Ø M: ... ... The moment you know your real being, you are afraid of nothing. Death gives freedom and power. To be free in the world,
you must die to the world. Then the universe is your own, it becomes your body, an expression and a tool. The happiness of being
absolutely free is beyond description. On the other hand, he who is afraid of freedom can not die. -ibid P133
Ø M: As long as there is consciousness, its witness is also there. The two appear and disappear together.
Q: If the witness too is transient, why is he given so much importance?
M: Just to break the spell of the known, the illusion that only the perceivable is real.
Q: Perception is primary, the witness – secondary.
M: This is the heart of the matter. As long as you believe that only the outer world is real, you remain its slave. To become free,
your attention must be drawn to the ‘I am’, the witness. Of course the knower and the known are one not two, but to break the spell
of the known, the knower must be brought to forefront. -ibid P405
Ø Q: I feel that my hold on the body is so strong that I just cannot give up the idea that I am not the body. It will cling to me as
long as the body lasts. There are people who maintain that no realization is possible while alive and I feel inclined to agree with
M: Before you agree or disagree, why not investigate the very idea of body! Does the mind appear in the body or the body in the mind?
Surely there must be a mind to conceive the ‘I-am-the-body’ idea. A body without a mind can not be ‘my body’. ‘My body’ is invariably
absent when the mind is in abeyance. It is also absent when the mind is deeply engaged in thoughts and feelings. Once you realize that
the body depends on the mind, and the mind on consciousness, and consciousness on awareness, your question about waiting for
self-realization till you die is answered. It is not that you must be free from the ‘I-am-the-body’ idea first, and then realize the
Self. It is definitely the other way round – you cling to the false, because you do not know the true. Earnestness, not perfection is
a precondition to self-realization. Virtues and powers come with realization, not before. -ibid P415
Ø Q: Why do you keep dismissing the person (vyakti) as of no importance? Personality is the primary fact of our existence. It
occupies the entire stage.
M: As long as you do not see that it is mere habit, built on memory, prompted by desire, you will think yourself to be a person – living,
feeling, thinking, active, passive, pleased, or pained. Question yourself, ask yourself. ‘Is it real?’, ‘Who am I?’, ‘What is behind
and beyond all this?’ And soon you will see your mistake. And it is in the very nature of a mistake to cease to be, when seen. -ibid P94
Ø M: ... Once you understand that the false needs time and what needs time is false, you are nearer the Reality, which is timeless,
ever in the now. Eternity in time is mere repetitiveness, like the movement of a clock. It flows from the past into future endlessly,
and empty perpetuity. Reality is what makes the present so vital, so different from past and future, which are merely mental. If you
need time to achieve something, it must be false. The real is always with you. You need not wait to be what you are. Only you must not
allow your mind to go out of yourself in search. When you want something, ask yourself: do I really need it? And if the answer is no,
then just drop it. ... ...
... ... Nothing can make you happier than you are. All search for happiness is misery and leads to more misery. The only happiness
worth the name is the natural happiness of conscious being. -ibid P302
Ø To take the world as real and one’s Self as unreal is ignorance, the cause of sorrow. To know the Self as the only Reality and all
else as temporal and transient is freedom, peace, and joy. -ibid P27
Ø M: In our ignorance we are innocent; in our actions we are guilty. We sin without knowing and suffer without understanding. Our only
hope: to stop, to look, to understand and to get out of the traps of memory. For memory feeds imagination and imagination generates
desire and fear.
Q: Why do I imagine at all?
M: 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 colored by feelings of like and dislike. Make your thinking orderly
and free from emotional overtones, and you will see people and things as they are, with clarity and charity. The witness of birth,
life and death is one and the same. It is the witness of pain and of love. For while the existence in limitation and separation
is sorrowful, we love it. We love it and hate it at the same time. ... ... Our life is full of contradictions. Yet we cling to it.
This clinging is at the root of everything. Still, it is entirely superficial. We hold on to something or somebody, with all our might
and next moment we forget it; like a child that shapes its mud-pies and abandons them light-heartedly. ... ... For our life is now,
and the love of it is now. We love variety, the play of pain and pleasure, we are fascinated by contrasts. For this we need the
opposites and their apparent separation. We enjoy them for a time and then get tired and crave for the peace and silence of pure being.
The cosmic heart beats ceaselessly. I am the witness and the heart too. -ibid P397-398
Ø Q: How am I to be rid of the mind? And is life without mind at all possible on the human level.
M: There is no such thing as mind. There are ideas and some of them are wrong. Abandon the wrong ideas, for they are false and
obstruct your vision of yourself.
Q: Which ideas are wrong and which are true?
M: Assertions are usually wrong and denials -- right.
Q: One cannot live by denying everything!
M: Only by denying can one live. Assertion is bondage. To question and deny is necessary. It is the essence of revolt and without revolt
there can be no freedom. -ibid P494
Ø M: All happens by itself. Neither the seeker. nor the Guru do anything. Things happen as they happen; blame or praise are apportioned
later, after the sense of doership appearing.
Q: How strange! Surely the doer comes before the deed.
M: It is the other way round; the deed is a fact, the doer a mere concept. Your very language shows that while the deed is certain,
the doer is dubious; shifting responsibility is a game peculiarly human. Considering the endless list of factors required for anything
to happen, one can only admit that everything is responsible for everything, however remote. Doership is a myth born from the illusion
of 'me' and 'the mine'.
Q: How powerful the illusion?
M: No doubt, because based on reality. -ibid P359
Ø Q: ... ... Give me the final answer.
M: The final answer is this: nothing is. All is a momentary appearance in the field of the universal consciousness; continuity as name
and form is a mental formation only, easy to dispel.
Q: I am asking about the immediate, the transitory, the appearance. ... ...
M: The world is what it contains and each thing affects all others. ... ... Every event has innumerable causes and produces numberless
effects. It is useless to keep accounts, nothing is traceable.
Q: Your people speak of karma and retribution.
M: It is merely a gross approximation: in reality we are all creators and creatures of each other, causing and bearing each other's
burden. -ibid P397
Ø In the waking state all these problems arise, for such is its nature. But, you are not always in that state. What good can you do in
a state into which you fall and from which you emerge, helplessly. -ibid P38
Ø Q: How am I to get rid of the false and secure the real?
M: To what purpose?
Q: In order to live a better, a more satisfactory life, integrated and happy.
M: Whatever is conceived by the mind must be false, for it is bound to be relative and limited. The real is inconceivable and cannot
be harnessed to a purpose. It must be wanted for its own sake. -ibid P300
Ø As long as you believe only the particular to be real, conscious and happy and reject the non-dual reality as something imagined, an
abstract concept, you will find me doling out concepts and abstractions. But once you have touched the real within your own being,
you will find me describing what for you is the nearest and the dearest. -ibid P159
Ø Perceptions, imagination, expectation, anticipation, illusion – all are based on memory. There are hardly any border lines between
them. They just merge into each other. All are responses of memory. -ibid P22
Ø Q: Nevertheless, you are aware of the immense suffering of the world?
M: Of course I am, much more than you are.
Q: Then what do you do?
M: I look at it through the eyes of God and find that all is well.
Q: How can you say that all is well? Look at the wars, the exploitation, the cruel strife between the citizen and the state.
M: All these sufferings are man-made and it is within man's power to put an end to them. God helps by facing man with the results of
his actions and demanding that the balance should be restored. Karma is the law that works for righteousness; it is the healing hand
of God. -ibid P23
Ø Things happen round me, but I take no part in them. An event becomes an experience only when I am emotionally involved. I am in a
state which is complete, which seeks not to improve on itself. Of what use is experience to me? -ibid P303
Ø To insist, to resist, are contained in the will to be. Remove the will to be and what remains? Existence and non-existence relate to
something in space and time; here and now, there and then, which again are in the mind. The mind plays a guessing game; it is ever
uncertain; anxiety-ridden and restless. You resent being treated as a mere instrument of some god, or Guru, and insist on being treated
as a person, because you are not sure of your own existence and do not want to give up the comfort and assurance of a personality. You
may not be what you believe yourself to be, but it gives you continuity, your future flows into the present and becomes the past
without jolts. To be denied personal existence is frightening, but you must face it and find your identity with the totality of life.
Then the problem of who is used by whom is no more. -ibid P439
Ø Q: ... ... Conditions are imposed which are unfulfillable and then we are blamed for not fulfilling them.
M: You do not realize that your present waking state is one of ignorance. Your question about the proof of truth is born from ignorance
of reality. You are contacting your sensory and mental states in consciousness, at the point of 'I am', while reality is not mediated,
not contacted, not experienced. You are taking duality so much for granted, that you do not even notice it, while to me variety and
diversity do not create separation. You imagine reality to stand apart from names and forms, while to me names and forms are the ever
changing expressions of reality and not apart from it. You ask for the proof of truth while to me all existence is the proof. You
separate existence from being and being from reality, while to me it is all one. However much you are convinced of the truth of your
waking state, you do not claim it to be permanent and changeless, as I do when I talk of mine. Yet I see no difference between us,
except that you are imagining things, while I do not. -ibid P351
Ø ... The very idea ‘I-am-self-realized’ is a mistake. There is no ‘I-am-That’, in the Natural State. -ibid P278
Ø Pleasure and pain are momentary. It is simpler and easier to disregard them than to act on them. -ibid P328
Ø Q: How can I clear my mind?
M: By watching it relentlessly. Inattention obscures, attention clarifies.
Q: Why do the Indian teachers advocate inactivity?
M: Most of people's activities are valueless, if not outright destructive. Dominated by desire and fear, they can do nothing good.
Ceasing to do evil precedes beginning to do good. Hence the need for stopping all activities for a time, to investigate one's urges
and their motives, see all that is false in one's life, purge the mind of all evil and then only restart work, beginning with one's
obvious duties. Of course, if you have a chance to help somebody, by all means do it and promptly too, don't keep him waiting till you
are perfect. But do not become a professional do-gooder. -ibid P329
Ø M: There are no needs, desires only.
Q: To eat, to drink, to shelter one's body; to live?
M: The desire to live is the one fundamental desire. All else depends on it.
Q: We live, because we must.
M: We live, because we crave sensory existence.
Q: A thing so universal cannot be wrong.
M: Not wrong, of course. In its own place and time nothing is wrong. But when you are concerned with truth, with reality, you must
question every thing, your very life. By asserting the necessity of sensory and intellectual experience you narrow down your enquiry
to search for comfort.
Q: I seek happiness, not comfort.
M: Beyond comfort of mind and body what happiness do you know?
Q: Is there any other?
M: Find out for yourself. Question every urge, hold no desire legitimate. Empty of possession, physical and mental, free of all
self-concern, be open for discovery. -ibid P126