Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj’s I AM THAT is one of my favorite books of all times. Nisargadatta’s words are transformational and cut like a razor to the core of our being, opening us up to the truth of who we are.
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897-1981) lived and taught in a small apartment in the slums of Bombay. A realized master of the Tantric Nath lineage, he supported himself and his family by selling cheap goods in a small booth on the streets outside his tenement for many years.
His life exemplified the concept of absolute nonduality of being. His teaching style was simple, direct and immensely profound. His terse but potent sayings are known for their ability to trigger shifts in consciousness, just by hearing or reading them.
I AM THAT (first published in 1973) is regarded by many as a modern spiritual classic. It continues to draw new audiences and to enlighten those seeking self-realization. I would like to share the following quotes to remind us of our true nature and the timelessness of being.
The PDF eBook of I AM THAT is freely available on the web.
“Realize that every mode of perception is subjective, what is seen or heard, touched or smelt, felt, or thought, expected or imagined, is in the mind and not in reality, and you will experience peace and freedom from fear.”
“You are not in the body, the body is in you! The mind is in you. They happen to you. They are there because you find them interesting.”
“Having perfected the mirror so that it reflects correctly, truly, you can turn the mirror round and see in it a reflection of yourself -true as far as the mirror can reflect. But the reflection is not yourself – you are the seer of the reflection. Do understand it clearly – whatever you may perceive, you are not what you perceive. You can see both the image and the mirror. You are neither.”
“You cannot be conscious of what does not change. All consciousness is consciousness of change. But the very perception of change—does it not necessitate a changeless background?”
“Changes are inevitable in the changeful, but you are not subject to them. You are the changeless background, against which changes are perceived.”
“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?”
“What changes is not real, what is real does not change … You must realize yourself as the immovable behind and beyond the movable, the silent witness of all that happens.”
“What you are conscious of is neither you nor yours. Yours is the power of perception, not what you perceive … Yours is the cinema screen, the light as well as the seeing power, but the picture is not you.”
“You are independent of space and time, that space and time are in you, not you in them. It is your self-identification with the body, which, of course is limited in space and time, that gives you the feeling of finiteness. In reality you are infinite and eternal.”
“You see yourself in the world, while I see the world in myself. To you, you get born and die, while to me the world appears and disappears. Once you realize that the world is your own projection, you are free of it.”
“Time and space are in the mind only. You are not bound. Just understand yourself – that itself is eternity.”
“Time is endless, though limited, eternity is in the split moment of the now. We miss it because the mind is ever shuttling between the past and the future.”
“I move in and out of consciousness easily and naturally, and therefore to me the world is a home, not a prison.”
“All thinking is in duality. It is the nature of the mind to create a subject-object duality, where there is none.”
“ ‘Being’ applies to the now only. Past and future is in the mind.”
“In the waking and dream states it is the person. In deep sleep and turiya [samadhi] it is the Self. Beyond the alert intentness of turiya lies the great, silent peace of the Supreme.”
“You are always the Supreme, which appears at a given point of time and space as the witness, a bridge between the pure awareness of the Supreme and the manifold consciousness of the person.”
“God is the totality of consciousness, but awareness is beyond all – being as well as not-being.”
“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. There are levels in consciousness, but not in awareness. It is of one block, homogeneous. Its reflection in the mind is love and understanding. There are levels of clarity in understanding and intensity in love, but not in their source. The source is simple and single, but its gifts are infinite. Only do not take the gifts for the source. Realize yourself as the source.”
“Awareness is primordial; it is the original state, beginningless, endless, uncaused, unsupported, without parts, without change. Consciousness is on contact, a reflection against a surface, a state of duality. There can be no consciousness without awareness, but there can be awareness without consciousness, as in deep sleep. Awareness is absolute, consciousness is relative to its content; consciousness is always of something. Consciousness is partial and changeful, awareness is total, changeless, calm and silent.”
“In my world, nobody is born and nobody dies. Some people go on a journey and come back, some never leave. What difference does it make since they travel in dreamlands, each wrapped up in his own dream.”
“God is the totality of consciousness, but awareness is beyond all. I cannot say that I am in God or I am God; God is the universal light and love, the universal witness; I am beyond the universal even. Without you as the witness there would be neither animal nor God. Understand that you are both, the essence and the surface of all there is.”
“Even faith in God is only a stage on the way. Ultimately, you abandon all, for you come to something so simple that there are no words to express it. You yourself are God, the Supreme Reality.”
“The guru is there for giving you courage because of his experience and success. But only what you discover through your own awareness, your own effort, will be of permanent use to you.”
“Love says ‘I am everything.’ Wisdom says ‘I am nothing.’ Between the two, my life flows.”
“Nothing can be done without love.”
“The consciousness in you and the consciousness in me, apparently two, really one, seek unity and that is love.”
“In the end you know that there is no sin, no guilt, no retribution, only life in its endless transformations. With the dissolution of the personal “I”, personal suffering disappears. What remains is the great sadness of compassion, the horror of the unnecessary pain.”
“Karma, or destiny, is an expression of a beneficial law: the universal trend towards balance, harmony, and unity. At every moment, whatever happens now, is for the best. It may appear painful and ugly, a suffering bitter and meaningless, yet considering the past and the future it is for the best, as the only way out of a disastrous situation.”
“Most of our karma is collective. We suffer for the sins of others, as others suffer for ours. Humanity is one.”
“Ignorance is like a fever – it makes you see things which are not there. Karma is the divinely prescribed treatment. Welcome it and follow the instructions faithfully, and you will get well. A patient will leave the hospital after he recovers. To insist on immediate freedom of choice or action will merely postpone recovery. Accept your destiny and fulfill it – this is the shortest way to freedom from destiny.”