By Dr. Tan Kheng Khoo
Understand then, that it is this conscious presence that you are, so long as the body is there. Once your body is gone, along with the vital breath, consciousness also will leave. Only that which was prior to the appearance of this body-cum-consciousness, the Absolute, the ever-present is your true identity. That is what we all really are. That is reality. It is here and now. Where is the question of anyone reaching for it?
Sri Nisrgadatta Maharaj was born in Bombay in March 1897. He was named Maruti Shivrampant Kampli. He spent his childhood in a village called Kandalgaon, some distance from Bombay. After his father's death, both his elder brother and himself had to return to Bombay to support the family. Maruti worked as a clerk in a private company. However he was too independent to accept pressure from any one. Thus he started his own trading company. His business was making and selling hand-made local cigarettes, bidis. He was rather successful that in a short period of time he owned eight such shops. He was married in 1924 and had a family of four ---a son and three daughters. His prosperity did not make him happy. With his religious family background, he started to ponder the relationship between man and God. His association with a Brahmin, Vishnu Gore, led him to be introduced to Yeshwanstrao Bagkar. The latter then almost forcibly brought Maruti to Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj, his Guru. This was because of Maruti's sincere pursuit of the truth. Maruti was initiated by this Guru and persued his sadhana under this Guru until he became enlightened. This took place between 1933 and 1936.
Sri Siddharameshwar died in 1936. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj started to wander about the country in the following year, after abandoning his family and business. In his sojourn he met a fellow disciple, who discussed with him the wanderings of a sanyasin. They both concluded that it was unnecessary to wander about. When he returned to Bombay he found that only one of his shops survived. The rest of them closed down. While doing his business, most his clients would linger a bit to discuss the subject of Ultimate Reality. This activity culminated in a crowd always outside the shop waiting to absorb his pearls of wisdom. Finally when his son was able to run the shop, he moved up to a constructed loft, which became a holy Ashram.
For many years his daily routine would be to have 90-minute dialogues with the visitors in the mornings and afternoons, interspersed with four Bhajans a day. On weekdays there were usually about twenty people, but increasing to about thirty-five on Sundays and holidays. These numbers would fill up the room to capacity. There were usually several foreigners who had come to listen and view him after reading his book: 'I Am That'. Some of these visitors were of high intelligence and outstanding leaders in their respective fields. And yet they came to listen to a man who had hardly any higher education. He would be abrupt and sarcastic to those who came to show off their own knowledge and learning, but he would be patient and tolerant to those who came with sincere desire to learn the truth. Maharaj's teaching was spellbound and direct, and most times sounded very revolutionary to the listener. He upset their mental applecart without quoting authorities, not even the Vedas. His wisdom which, came directly from the Absolute are beyond words. His language of instruction was purely in Marathi. Actually his teaching is not based on any religion. He would ask: "Can any one tell me the religion of the five elements?" He always admonished his listeners that he did not alleviate physical and mental suffering. Neither did he advice on material benefits.
It is astounding that Nisargadatta, who had hardly any formal education, could discuss and answer all those difficult and abstruse questions on Truth, the Absolute Reality and Soul from all angles hurled at him. His questioners are often very intelligent, professors in their own speciality and erudite students of Advaita. He could pick out those that are arrogant and those that are humble and sincere. His treatment of them is entirely opposite. His dissertations and answers were forthright and direct from beyond consciousness. The most difficult thing in the world is to translate and render the noumenon in phenomenal terms. Nisargadatta was able to do this in various situations with innumerable questions coming from all and sundry. These students were at all levels of spiritual development. There has not been an individual in recent history that was able to analyse, elaborate and breakdown the Truth in such piecemeal fashion as Maharaj. He presented this most difficult doctrine of Supreme Reality in so many ways as to clarify the picture to all seekers. There had never been any derision or boredom in his attitude. He treated them all as his children, wayward or earnest. His teaching lasted about forty years up to the day he died.
Ramesh Balsekar summarises Maharaj's basic teaching as such:
["The entire universe exists only in Consciousness, while the Jnani (the enlightened one) has his stand in the Absolute. In the Absolute---pure beingness---there is no Consciousness of "I am"; it is prior to thoughts and words. Then, for no apparent reason, Consciousness spontaneously stirs into existence. In Consciousness the world appears and disappears. All there is, is Me; all there is, is Mine; before all beginnings, after all endings, I AM. Whatever happens, I must be there to witness it. Therefore, it is not that the world does not exist. The world is an appearance in consciousness, which is the totality of the known in the immensity of the unknown. What begins and ends is mere appearance. The world can be said to APPEAR but not BE.
Maharaj tells us that whenever every single individual dreams, he has the actual experience of the world being created in consciousness. When a person is not fully awake, and consciousness merely stirs, he dreams. In his dream, in that tiny spot of consciousness, in a split second, is created an entire world exactly similar to the world outside. In that world are seen the earth, the sun, hills and rivers, and people (including himself!) behaving exactly as in the world outside. While the person is dreaming the dream world is very real: his experiences---both pleasure and pain---are extremely realistic. But once he wakes up, the entire dream world merges in the consciousness in which it was created. In the waking state, says Maharaj, the world emerges because of ignorance (Maya) and takes you into a waking dream state. Both sleep and waking are misnomers because you are only dreaming; you dream that you are awake, you dream that you are asleep. Only the Jnani knows true waking and true sleeping. See all as a dream and stay out of it…. The main point to grasp is that you have projected onto yourself a world of your own imagination, based on memories, desires and fears, and that you have imprisoned yourself in it. Realise that, break the spell, and BE FREE.
(A) Comparing the creations of the insect, the worm, the chicken and the human body, Maharaj stated that what is really born in these examples is, the knowledge “I AM”, the Consciousness with the two states of sleeping and waking. This Consciousness takes support in their particular forms and identifies with each of them. In other words, what was originally without any shape or form, the message “I AM”—the mere knowledge of existence generally (not any one in particular)—has mistakenly identified itself with one particular body, accepted its birth, and thereafter lives in the constant shadow of the terror of “death.”
(B) This “I AM-ness”, this consciousness without which one would not know that one exists---and which, therefore, everyone loves most and would preserve at any cost as long as possible—is the only “capital” one is born with. This consciousness cannot exist without a physical form, which is merely the consequence of the germination of the father’s sperm, which is itself the essence of the food consumed by the parents. This is the analysis of the process which has resulted in the birth of an individual body containing Consciousness, a process for the start of which the concerned “individual” has never been consulted! If one thus clearly sees the process of what has come into existence, can there be room for an individual personality in which one could take pride in something, which is merely a bundle of memories and habits, without any substance?
(C) If, then, there can really be no individual personality, the question arises: for whom is there any liberation or Moksha? It is only the case of the human being that this question arises, because no other form of life has the intelligence to question its own existence or source.
Liberation comes about when the knowledge “I AM” realises:
(I) That it has always been unlimited and totally free, and that it is itself the cause of all creation---if there is no consciousness, there can be no world.
(II) That it has always, however, created its own shackles of bondage by self- limitation—by identifying itself with the individual body.
(III) That it has no form or design---that it is the quality of the food essence (which has taken the shape of the body), like the quality of sweetness in sugar.
(IV) That, when the body becomes old and “dies,” its quality, the knowledge “I AM,” also disappears and merges with REALITY. Who dies?
That is why Maharaj repeatedly asked his listeners to go “BACK TO THE SOURCE” and abide there. The Source is REALITY, one’s true state, prior to the arrival of Consciousness, when there were no needs of any kind, the state prior to the illusion of the stream of events----conception, birth of the body, a lifetime, and finally the death of the body. “You” are always separate from the entire “happening,” merely witnessing it: the witnessing ceases at the end of the happening: who dies?
To know with definite conviction that you are neither in the body nor in the mind, though aware of both, is already self-knowledge. Liberation is not a matter of acquisition, but a matter of faith and conviction that you have ALWAYS been FREE, and a matter of courage to act on this conviction. There is nothing to change: it is only when the very idea of changing is seen as false that the changeless can come into its own.
Be true to your own self. Love yourself absolutely. Do not pretend that you love others as yourself. Unless you have realised others as one with yourself, you cannot love them. Don’t pretend to be what you are not; don’t refuse to be what you are. Your love for others is the result of self-knowledge, not its cause.”]
The above is Ramesh Balsekar’ summary of Maharaj’s teaching. It is revolutionary, exciting, direct and forceful. At first reading the reader will benefit little if at all. It is a very difficult teaching and an abstruse concept. Ethics and morality are not touched. Paranormal and super-natural phenomena are meticulously avoided. In Maharaj’s teaching, there are no such things as karma and re-birth. It is fruitful to discuss some of the issues further. All the books written about Maharaj go round the themes of Man, its Source, the World and Absolute Reality. Although sometimes he might bring out a topic as a soliloquy, most of the contents of the books are based on actual questions and answers with his listeners and students. The intricacy of his dissertations is so complicating that even a professor specialising on the subject will find it difficult to pontificate and elaborate on. And he had hardly any education at all! One must then conclude that his answers came from the Source prior to words and consciousness. So let us discuss and elaborate on some of the issues raised in the above summary.
Consciousness is the “I AM”
After the father’s sperm has penetrated the mother’s ovum, an embryo is created inadvertently. This embryo starts to grow with a latent spark of consciousness. This consciousness does not come into full bloom until the baby is born and even then it is misconceived. For the first eight weeks of life the consciousness mistakes the mother as part of itself. This consciousness needs a human form to sustain it. If the baby dies at this stage, this consciousness will leave to join back with the Absolute. What happens when it does not rejoin the Absolute? It becomes earth-bound as a ghost or spirit. It is this consciousness that gives the baby sentience, responding to stimuli and acting as if the body is a separate individual. This is the primary delusion enacted by Maya, (concealing the Real and projecting the unreal).
Atman (sat-chit-ananda) is the soul of the Self. It is pure awareness of a Jnani, an enlightened being. When the individual falsely identifies the Atman with the body and mind, he assumes doership of the thoughts and acts of that individual. The Atman of that individual then becomes a Jiva. Without doership, Atman becomes Supreme Awareness. That means in a deluded individual (jiva), the pure Awareness (Atman) of the Absolute becomes self-awareness of the jiva. The pure Awareness was Universal Consciousness. Consciousness is a reflection of the Absolute Awareness against the surface of matter, bringing about a sense of duality. Pure Awareness, the Absolute State, is without beginning and end, without the need of a support. Awareness becomes consciousness only when it has an object to reflect against. Between pure awareness (sun) and awareness reflected as consciousness (sun reflected in a dewdrop), there is a gap which the mind cannot cross. Reflection of the sun in a drop of dew is not the sun!
Consciousness disappears as soon as the body dies, but nevertheless it is the only ‘capital’ a sentient being is born with. This consciousness being the only connection with the Absolute is also the illusory liberation from the ‘individual’ he believes himself to be. By being one with his consciousness and treating it as his Atman, his God, he hopes to attain what he thinks as the unattainable. This animating consciousness is totally dependent on the physical body, which is sustained by food. It is time-bound and also a reflection of the Absolute.
We can watch the function of consciousness in our daily routine of sleeping, dreaming and waking states. In deep sleep consciousness is absent: one’s presence, the existence of the world and the ideas of bondage and liberation are in abeyance. Even the concept of “I” is absent. In the dream state a speck of consciousness stirs to create the dream world very akin to our actual waking world with all its inhabitants including the dreamer himself. When the dreamer wakes up, the entire dream world and its contents of dreamed figures disappear. As in deep sleep, the dreamer wakes up to the immediate sense of existence and presence, not the presence of ‘me.’ Soon after, the mind takes over and creates the ‘I’-concept and awareness of the body.
We are too accustomed to treating ourselves as bodies having consciousness. Actually it is consciousness, which manifests itself as innumerable bodies. Birth and death are nothing but the beginning and the ending of a stream of consciousness. In Reality, we are pure being-awareness-bliss (sat-chit-ananda) in our original pristine state, and when in touch with consciousness, we are only the witnessing of the various movements in consciousness. We cannot be what we perceive; the perceiver must be different from what he perceives.
Consciousness is the most vital component of an individual’s existence. Without consciousness there is no life, no existence and no world. So whatever appears in one’s consciousness, e.g. other people, things, objects, events etc are also within one’s consciousness. That means they are all illusory without substance. In deep sleep, when consciousness is at rest and there is no mind, there is no individual or objects of the world. As there is no pleasure or pain there is no experience in deep sleep. It is only when a slight stir of consciousness happens that dreams arise and pain and pleasure will arise in dreams. When the dream is over, that ‘dream life’ is automatically discarded as a mere dream and of no consequences. To experience one must have the conscious presence. The ‘I Am ‘ must be there.
Awareness is when consciousness is at total rest without the awareness of ‘I am’. It is in the state of absolute perfection. This state is Awareness, which also means no movement in consciousness. There is no beingness in this state. Only when the thought I am arises that consciousness is stirred into activity at the same time. There is no reason or cause for this arising. Within a split-second, the universe comes into existence for that individual. The Universal Consciousness is impersonal while at rest but will start to objectify itself as sentient beings and other objects in the phenomenal world when stirred. He is now a separate individual as a concept. Each sentient being also now becomes a subject, which also views others as objects. But in reality they are all objects in consciousness. It is this limiting and separate self, called ‘me,’ who is bonded: this mere appearance in consciousness wants Maharaj to liberate him. Maharaj informed the listener that only his own consciousness could liberate him, as his consciousness is the link with the Absolute. The culprit consciousness is the Maya that produces the illusory bondage. And it is consciousness acting as the Sadguru within oneself that can open one’s eyes in understanding the illusion of the universe. At this point the individual would also see that the ‘seeker is also the sought.’ He does not have to go looking for liberation. He just has ‘to be.’
The Nature of Consciousness
It is the conditioning by the parents, elders and teachers from an early age that convinced the individual that he is the body with a name. This is the greatest error. In actual fact, it is the noumenon that manifests the billions of forms and other sentient beings into phenomenal objects, which are destroyed and re-created in the course of the Lila, played by Maya. The human beings have no choice in this Lila. Now one can see that it is Consciousness that possesses the billions of forms, which the noumenon can objectify and not that billions of sentient beings possessing consciousness.
In the manifested form, Consciousness needs a human body to support it. That means it can exist only as long as the body is alive. It is therefore time-bound. The human is sustained and nourished by food, which is the essence of the five elements. When the human dies, the breath (prana) leaves the body to mix up with the air outside, and consciousness withdraws from the body to merge back with the Universal Consciousness, unmanifested.
The individual considers consciousness as part of his body-mind apparatus, and consciousness is the only source that can make him understand his true nature.
Consciousness in reality is not the body’s property, but it is Consciousness that manifests the entire universe including the billions of sentient beings. So a single individual is only a tiny part of the total manifestation and the whole show is an illusion.
From the above reasoning, we should realise that we are not the body-mind apparatus. It is the animating consciousness that gives sentience to the psychosomatic apparatus. And when the body dies, the manifested consciousness leaves the body to merge with the unmanifested consciousness. We are then the Consciousness at rest---the Absolute Awareness.
The Manifested and the Unmanifested
The various opposites in dualism as in noumenon and phenomena, the Absolute and the relative and the presence and absence are represented in the mind (consciousness). These are the basis of all manifestation, the observer and the observed, the knower and the known. When one can perceive the basic identity of the opposites it could also mean liberation for the individual, as he now knows that ‘the seeker is the sought’. These opposites exist only in duality. With this knowledge the opposites would erase one another, i.e. duality is annihilated leaving the witness in unity.
Consciousness is manifestation in duality, which is created within unicity of the unmanifested Absolute. All manifestation, all phenomena are perceived and cognized by consciousness via the mind. All these appearances are present only in consciousness: they are not real, not substantive and they are ephemeral. Consciousness is the functioning that takes place and we (the eternal ‘I’) are the perceiving of that functioning. Thus Consciousness at rest and Consciousness in action are merely different aspects of the Absolute Awareness----the totality of all potential. In other words, the Consciousness-manifestation is the objective aspect of the subjective Awareness.
With manifestation, the functioning can only take place in space in duality. Space means three-dimension. Time is also an essential ingredient for perception, for without duration the three-dimensional form could not be recognised. So for manifestation and functioning to happen the dual aspects of time-space scenario must be present. When thoughts come to an end, there will be no more concepts. Without concept there is also no duality, as in deep sleep. There is no phenomena or noumenon without conceptualisation. What is left is pure subjectivity without individuality i.e. non-dual. That means all opposites appear separate only in concepts. They are otherwise inseparable.
Noumenon cannot be conceived without phenomenon. When there is no conceptualisation, there is no duality, no phenomena nor noumenon. This is because there is no experience of any kind and no one to experience it. In concept, all parts appear separate, but intrinsically they are inseparable.
Non-duality in Duality
If noumenon wishes to look at itself, it must become an object in phenomenon. This phenomenal manifestation is an objectivization of noumenon within itself i.e. projected by noumenon.
When consciousness in noumenon stirs into being, there arises a sense of presence---I am. This phenomenal presence simultaneously springs up duality of the knower and the known, the experiencer and the thing experienced. This duality is not real, as unicity cannot be dichotomised. Consciousness at rest (noumenon) and consciousness in action (phenomenon) do not separate or join together in conceptual duality. This conceptual duality cannot effect the Absolute in its unicity, as both the appearance and disappearance of the apparent duality is only an illusion. In duality it changes every moment without stoppage. True Reality does not change.
Consciousness is the highest God, according to Maharaj. Consciousness in concept is time-bound as far as the individual is concerned. Without concepts, Reality is timeless and spaceless, being infinite and eternal. Once the true nature of Reality is realised, there is no more seeker, because he would have merged with Consciousness at rest---the pure subjectivity in peace. All manifestation and its functioning in consciousness (duality) are a delusional play, Lila. Consciousness in action is time-bound, and when the person dies, it merges into the Consciousness at rest---- infinite, eternal and unconditioned Awareness that is unaware of itself.
What is the difference between Consciousness and Awareness?
Awareness is of the Absolute and therefore is beyond all attributes; while Consciousness is limited to a body-mind complex. Consciousness is sustained by food and when the body dies, Consciousness will return to the Universal Consciousness, which is in fact the Absolute. The Absolute is pure Awareness, which is the primordial state, prior to the concept of space-time. It needs no cause or support. It simply is. However, the moment the concept of ‘I am-ness’ arises in the non-dual world a condition of duality arises. Consciousness must have a form, as it is a reflection of Awareness against surface matter.
Consciousness must have a background of Awareness, as one cannot have a reflection of a sun without a sun. But there can be Awareness without Consciousness, as in deep sleep: there is no Consciousness, but on waking one is aware of being in deep sleep.
In order to approach Awareness, one must be continuously be aware of one’s thoughts or our stream of consciousness. When we constantly follow our thoughts within, there will come a time when thoughts come to an end. At that point when there are no thoughts, Awareness can replace consciousness. When there are no thoughts, ‘I am” also ceases. This is because Awareness is the source of consciousness.
As taught in Buddha’s Four Foundation of Mindfulness one must be mindful of all action, speech and thoughts. Maharaj also mentioned a spiritual exercise when one sits quietly watching one’s thoughts until they come to an end. One must stay alert but not to be involved. One must not be attracted or repelled by the thoughts. In this way all thoughts will finally die off so that a complete silence will open up the Voidness waiting in the background. This is exactly the practice of Shikantaza, the final stage of Zen Buddhism.
Another way of practising is to use your consciousness to watch all activities of the body and mind. However, do not get involved in what one thinks, says or acts. That means merely be a witness to all your activities. Also mirror everything that comes to your presence without taking sides: the mirror does not get dirty mirroring a filthy scene. Soon you will realise that you are purely consciousness for the life span of that body. After death, your consciousness will become pure consciousness, which will merge with Universal Consciousness. Your life force (prana) will escape from your corpse to mix up with the rest of the air.
Karma and Rebirth
Consciousness has been called variously as beingness, I-am-ness, self, Atma, Maya, God and Love, etc. Throughout one’s life, the only thing that is constant is one’s consciousness: everything else has been changing. As long as your consciousness is there, the world exists for you. If you are in deep sleep, the world does not exist for you, because you are not conscious. Your body cannot be ‘you’, as it will disintegrate after death. At death the life force (prana) will merge with the external air. What is left is consciousness.
Consciousness is not an object. Being non-objective it cannot be born, it cannot die and therefore cannot be reborn. This is an indisputable fact that the function of noumenon is the manifestation of phenomena, in which forms are created and destroyed all the time. So who is born? Who dies? And who is re-born?
So how does the concept of Karma and re-birth arise out of the above reasoning? It came about because we falsely identify the body-mind organism as a true Self. Phenomenon is only a manifestation of noumenon through the existence of consciousness supported by a body. This body has been mistaken as an autonomous personality who was born to make independent decision and action. When taken as a true self, this false body-mind suffers throughout life only to die. With this misconception, karma and re-birth are attributed to this jiva (the soul of a deluded person) By the same token, this pseudo-person is also deemed to be bonded and has to be liberated!
In other words, concluded Maharaj, in the natural process of the manifestation of phenomena a phantom-self is superimposed and is given a supposed autonomous, independent existence. And on this phantom-self is added the concept of the resultant effects of the imagined volitional actions----i.e. karma, bondage and re-birth. This is why Maharaj debunked the theory of re-birth. Bondage will only arise when one identifies with an independent, autonomous entity, which assumes the doership and takes responsibility for the actions and their consequences. Bondage can only arise when there is apparent volition: when one chooses to be the doer and accepting the process of causality of karma and bondage.
We are the Absolute, noumenally in unicity. We are also Absolute Subjectivity without the slightest touch of objectivity. The only way noumenon can manifest itself is through a process of duality, which is enacted by a stirring of consciousness with a resultant sense of ‘I am’. This process of objectivization entails a dichotomy into a subject and an object: the cognizer and the cognized.
As the noumenon must always remain as the only subject, these components (cognizer and cognized) are both objects in consciousness. Every thing and every phenomenon that our senses can perceive and every thought in our mind are all processes in our consciousness. That means each of us exists only as an object in someone else’s consciousness. The cognizer and the cognized are both objects in consciousness, but the cognizer deems itself as the subject. The pseudo-entity erroneously regards itself as an independent, autonomous person with the power of volitional activity.
So it is the sense of ‘I am’ that initiates the process of duality. From here onwards, a process of reasoning and comparison will bring out the opposites like good and bad, merit and sin to the individual’s mind. Subsequent to that discrimination comes the epithets of inferior and superior, pure and impure, inevitably ending up by raising one’s own status. This is conceptualisation.
In duality, the phenomenal manifestation depends on ‘time’ and ‘space’. Without space the object cannot show up in three dimensions. Without time, the object cannot be visualised, as there is no duration to make the object appear. Thus in duality the cognizer deems itself as a personality with a personal choice of action. Not knowing that all these activities are conceived in consciousness, he takes them for real. This leads to the illusion of ‘bondage’.
Maharaj said that one must see this whole phenomenal manifestation in a flash of apperception and not in bits and pieces. The Absolute, noumenon, is the unmanifested aspect while the phenomenon is the manifested aspect of what we are. They are not different. The Absolute noumenon is spaceless and timeless, while phenomenon is time-bound with a limited form and perceptible to the senses. Noumenon is what we are; phenomena are what we appear to be as separate objects in consciousness. Bondage is when in consciousness the subject deems itself to be separate with the concept that he is the doer and the author of all his actions. To be liberated he has to dis-identify the body-mind as self. In his ignorance he does not know that bondage and liberation are illusory because there is no entity in bondage. The entity arises out of a concept of falsely identifying an apparent object in consciousness. It is only an appearance in consciousness.
Life is a Living –dream
Following from the above argument, there is truly no entity, who is exercising the volition. Living then is nothing more than the functioning of consciousness through the millions of forms which are mistaken for individual lives. It also follows that whatever one feels or acts is merely a cognition in consciousness, as the pseudo-entity is only an appearance in consciousness. There is no perceiver as such, as the objects perceived are not autonomous. It is perception of conceptual objects in space and time. This is exactly what happens in dreams. Whilst the dream lasts the dream world is very real, and the people in the dream, including the dreamer himself, appear to be true, tangible and authentic. In the waking state, the world emerges because of the seed of ignorance (Maya), which takes one into a waking-dream-state. When a dream ends, what happened before in the dream is quickly forgotten. Both sleep and waking are conceptual states in the living-dream. You dream that you are awake; you dream that you are asleep---- and you do not realise that you are dreaming because you are still in the dream. When you realise that this is all a dream, you would have already awakened. So when one is enlightened, the living-dream will also soon be forgotten and the people in that dream are of no more concern of his. He now realises that he is the unconditioned Absolute Subjectivity in unicity and he just has to live out the present life span, when his consciousness spontaneously merges with the Absolute Subjectivity. Only the Jnani knows true waking and true sleep.
What is the Spiritual Practice towards Enlightenment?
Many gurus would ask us to eradicate the ego (body-mind). This is easier said than done. The individual is totally dependent on the body-mind to function in this world. Therefore one needs to thoroughly understand Maharaj’s reasoning of the pseudo-entity existing as an autonomous entity with the power of choice of action. This pseudo-entity is merely a concept in consciousness in duality and not real. So one must comprehend thoroughly this concept and destroy the ‘me’. When the ‘me’ disappears, the eternal ‘I’ remains. Thus his constant exhortation: ‘Return to the Source of Consciousness’. The meditation applied here does not allow the intellect as a tool. It must be with intuition, especially when the mind is emptied of thoughts. Through emptiness one reaches the Void. From the Void, the eternal Absolute will surface. That means ‘words’ is an obstacle.
What about outside of meditation? Be totally mindful and do no harm. Work towards having no desires and finally have no fear. Whether one does a devotional practice or work in charitable institutions or concentrating on religious practice, makes no difference. The more important thing is to keep reminding oneself that there is no one practising the sadhana. It is an illusionary pseudo-entity that is acting out this play of Lila. The awakening here is the realisation that this pseudo-entity is merely an illusion in consciousness. So if there is no-body or individual where is the bondage? Where is the liberation? One also cannot destroy an individual ego, which is only a tiny, minuscule bit of the total phenomenal world of bodies. The entire phenomenal universe is only a concept in consciousness. Consciousness is only a tool for noumenon to manifest in duality. This is due to the magnificent fraud called Maya.
Therefore the steps to be taken are 1) Listening to an enlightened Jnani about the pseudo-entity being merely a concept in consciousness, as described above. Learning from him how to destroy the ego by going to the source. 2) Contemplation on the above teachings throughout the day. The emphasis here is “I am not the body, I am not the mind and I am not my emotions.” It is like a continuous mantra. Every thought of desire and fear must be replaced by this mantra. 3) Meditation. During this quiet mental exercise all thoughts will come to an end. Just merely watch all thoughts, pictures and words going through one’s mind without involvement and without apprehending them. If these thoughts are not subjected to scrutiny, they will die on their own. Thus one arrives at emptiness, thence to Voidness, and finally the Absolute will emerge.
When will Enlightenment arrive?
Nobody can answer that. Effort is useless. Force will also not bring forward the awakening. One cannot attain enlightenment. It can only happen. It can only happen when all concepts cease. The conceptual ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘mine’ must all be eradicated before enlightenment can enter. Even forcing the mind to stop thinking is not good enough. No effort is effective. One must arrive at the truth by seeing the false as false and what remains is true. This is like destroying the screen of the projector so that what is left behind is the deep calm ocean after all the waves have subsided. Negation is the only answer.
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