Quotes of Nisargadatta Maharaj


  • 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.

  • All that a guru can tell you is: ‘My dear Sir, you are quite mistaken about yourself. You are not the person you take yourself to be.’

  • There is no such thing as a person. There are only restrictions and limitations. The sum total of these defines the person. The person merely appears to be, like the space within the pot appears to have the shape and volume and smell of the pot.

  • By all means attend to your duties. Action, in which you are not emotionally involved and which is beneficial and does not cause suffering will not bind you. You may be engaged in several directions and work with enormous zest, yet remain inwardly free and quiet, with a mirror like mind, which reflects all, without being affected.

  • To expound and propagate concepts is simple, to drop all concepts is difficult and rare.

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

Advertisements

David Godman explains his memories about Nisargadatta Maharaj

Harriet: From what you are saying, I get the feeling that Maharaj had a great respect for the foreigners who came because they came looking for the truth about themselves, not for some palliative, a practice or belief that would keep them happy for a while.

David: In one sense, yes. I did hear him say a couple of times that he respected the fact that we had all abandoned our lives in the West in order to come to India in search of liberation, but that didn’t mean that in practice he treated us respectfully. We all got shouted at on various occasions, and we all got told off from time to time because of things we did or said. We were all a little fearful of him because we never knew when the next eruption would come. We had all come to have the dirt beaten out of us, in the same way that the dhobis clean clothes by smashing them on rocks. Maharaj smashed our egos, our minds and our concepts on the immovable rock of the Self because he knew that in most cases that was the only way to help us.

I told you a few minutes ago that Maharaj discounted all theories of reincarnation, but he did tell one story that possibly indicated that we had all been searching for God in India before.

‘At the end of the Ramayana,’ he said, ‘all the animals who had helped Ram to win the war were given rewards. The monkeys were all told that they could go to a monkey heaven. Now, what is heaven to a monkey? Vast quantities of food, lots of fighting, and limitless sex. So, all the monkeys were reborn as human beings in the West in the twentieth century to experience their idea of “heaven”. After some time, though, they all began to get bored of all this excess. One by one, they all started coming back to India because they wanted to find Ram and be with him again.’

Harriet: What did he shout at you for?

David: I remember one time trying to talk to him about effort. I think I was talking about the various efforts I had made to realise the Self. This was soon after I started going to see him. I didn’t realise at the time that the word ‘effort’ was a no-no in that room. He really didn’t like anyone using it. The idea that there was a person who did something to achieve some spiritual state was a complete anathema to him. He seemed to feel that it showed a complete lack of understanding of his teachings.

When he started to get annoyed with me for using the word, I just ploughed ahead, thinking innocently that he probably hadn’t understood what I was trying to say. The more I attempted to describe my ‘efforts’ and justify them, the more annoyed he got with me. I ended up getting an earful about my wrong understanding and wrong attitude. I was quite taken aback at the time. I had never come across a teacher before who disparaged hard work and effort on the spiritual path. On the contrary, all the others I had encountered had heartily endorsed such activities. That’s why I initially thought that there must have been some kind of misunderstanding. I realised later that when Maharaj spoke, he wasn’t giving instructions that he wanted you to act on. He was simply telling you who and what you were. You were supposed to understand and experience what he was talking about, not turn it into a practice. Making a practice out of it simply confirmed for him that you hadn’t really understood what he was saying. One question that always rubbed him up the wrong way was, ‘Yes, Maharaj, I understand intellectually what you are saying, but what do I do to actually experience it?’ If you said that, you didn’t understand him, or what he was trying to do, at all.

==> Read full Conversation

  • We are the creators and creatures of each other, causing and bearing each other’s burden.

  • I find that somehow, by shifting the focus of attention, I become the very thing I look at, and experience the kind of consciousness it has; I become the inner witness of the thing. I call this capacity of entering other focal points of consciousness, love; you may give it any name you like.
    Love says “I am everything”. Wisdom says “I am nothing”. Between the two, my life flows. Since at any point of time and space I can be both the subject and the object of experience, I express it by saying that I am both, and neither, and beyond both.

  • Unless you make tremendous efforts, you will not be convinced that effort will take you nowhere. The self is so self-confident that unless it is totally discouraged it will not give up. Mere verbal conviction is not enough. Hard facts alone can show the absolute nothingness of the self-image.

  • A quiet mind is all you need. All else will happen rightly, once your mind is quiet. As the sun on rising makes the world active, so does self-awareness affect changes in the mind. In the light of calm and steady self-awareness, inner energies wake up and work miracles without any effort on your part.

  • The world is like a sheet of paper on which something is typed. The reading and the meaning will vary with the reader, but the paper is the common factor, always present, rarely perceived. When the ribbon is removed, typing leaves no trace on the paper. So is my mind – the impressions keep on coming, but no trace is left.

More ==> More Quote of Nisargadatta Maharaj

  • Look at your mind dispassionately; this is enough to calm it. When it is quiet, you can go beyond it. Do not keep it busy all the time. Stop it – and just be. If you give it a rest, it will settle down and recover its purity and strength. Constant thinking makes it decay.

  • The unchangeable can only be realized in silence. Once realised, it will deeply affect the changeable, itself remaining unaffected.

  • This attitude of silent observation is the very foundation of yoga. You see the picture, but you are not the picture.

  • To locate a thing you need space, to place an event you need time; but the timeless and spaceless defies handling. It makes everything perceivable, yet itself is beyond perception. The mind cannot know what is beyond the mind, but the mind is known by what is beyond it.

  • 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.

  • Put your awareness to work, not your mind. The mind is not the right instrument for this task. The timeless can be reached only by the timeless. Your body and your mind are born subject to time; only awareness is timeless, even in the now.

  • To me nothing ever happens. There is something changeless, motionless, immovable, rock-like, unassailable; a solid mass of pure being-consciousness-bliss. I am never out of it. Nothing can take me out of it, no torture, no calamity.

==> More quotes of Nisargadatta Maharaj

David Godman explains his memories about Nisargadatta Maharaj

One afternoon two of us waded through the floodwaters to Maharaj’s door. We were both staying in a cheap lodge about 200 yards away, so it wasn’t that much of a trek. We scrubbed off the filth with water from a tap on the ground floor and made our way up to Maharaj’s room. He seemed very surprised to see us. I think he thought that the floods would keep everyone away. He said in Marathi that there would be no session that afternoon because none of the translators would be able to make it. I assume he wanted us to leave and go home, but we both pretended that we didn’t understand what he was trying to tell us. After one or two more unsuccessful attempts to persuade us to go, he gave up and sat in a corner of the room with a newspaper in front of his face so that we couldn’t even look at him. I didn’t care. I was just happy to be sitting in the same room as him. I sat there in absolute silence with him for over an hour and it was one of the most wonderful experiences I ever had with him. I felt an intense rock-solid silence descend on me that became deeper and deeper as the minutes passed. There was just a glow of awareness that filled me so completely, thoughts were utterly impossible. You don’t realise what a monstrous imposition the mind is until you have lived without it, completely happily, completely silently, and completely effortlessly for a short period of time. For most of this time I was looking in the direction of Maharaj. Sometimes he would turn a page and glance in our direction, and when he did he still seemed to be irritated that we hadn’t left. I was smiling inwardly at his annoyance because it wasn’t touching me in any way. I had no self-consciousness, no embarrassment, no feeling of being an imposition. I was just resting contentedly in my own being.

After just over an hour of this he got up and shooed us both out. I prostrated and left. Later on, I wondered why he didn’t sit in silence more often since there was clearly a very powerful quietening energy coming off him when he was silent. Ramana Maharshi said that speaking actually interrupted the flow of the silent energy he was giving out. I have often wondered if the same thing happened with Maharaj.

Harriet: And what was your conclusion?

David: I realised that it was not his nature to keep quiet. His teaching method was geared to arguing and talking. That’s what he felt most comfortable doing.

Harriet: Can you elaborate on that a little more?

David: I should qualify what I am about to say by stating that most of it is just my own opinion, based on observing him deal with the people who came to him. It doesn’t come from anything I heard him say himself.

When people first came to see him, he would encourage them to talk about their background. He would try to find out what spiritual path you were on, and what had brought you to him. In the face of Maharaj’s probing questions visitors would end up having to justify their world-view and their spiritual practices. This would be one level of the interaction. At a deeper and more subtle level Maharaj would be radiating an energy, a sakti, that quietened your mind and made you aware of what lay underneath the mind and all its ideas and concepts. Now imagine these two processes going on simultaneously. With his mind the questioner has just constructed and articulated a version of his world-view. Underneath, though, he will be feeling the pull of his beingness, the knowledge of what is truly real, as opposed to the ideas that he merely thinks to be real. Maharaj’s energy will be enhancing awareness of that substratum all the time. At some point the questioner will become acutely aware of what seem to be two competing realities: the conceptual structure he has just outlined, and the actual experience that underlies it. There was a certain look that appeared on some people’s faces when this happened: a kind of indecisive ‘which way should I go?’ look. Sometimes the questioner would realise immediately that all his ideas and beliefs were just concepts. He would drop them and rest in the beingness instead. This, for me, was the essence of Maharaj’s teaching technique. He wouldn’t try to convince you by argument. He would instead make you argue yourself into a position that you felt to be true, and then he would undercut that position by giving you a taste of the substratum that underlay all concepts. If you were ready for it, you would drop your attachment to your concepts and rest in what lay underneath them. If not, you would blunder ahead, going deeper and deeper into the minefield of the mind. Some people got it quickly. Others, who were desperate for a structure to cling to, would come back again and again with questions that were designed merely to refine their understanding of his teachings.

Talking to visitors and arguing with them was an essential part of this technique. For it to work effectively Maharaj required that visitors talk about themselves and their world-view because he needed them to see that all these ideas were just concepts having no ultimate reality. He needed people to look at their concepts, understand their uselessness and then reject them in favour of direct experience.

I should mention here the limitations he put on the types of question that he was willing to answer. He would sometimes tell new people, ‘I am not interested in what you have heard or read. I am not interested in second-hand information that you have acquired from somewhere else. I am only interested in your own experience of yourself. If you have any questions about that, you can ask me.’

Later, after you had had your initial dialogues with him, he would introduce an even more stringent test for questions: ‘I am not interested in answering questions that assume the existence of an individual person who inhabits a body. I don’t accept the existence of such an entity, so for me such questions are entirely hypothetical.’

This second constraint was a real conversation killer. You couldn’t say, ‘How do I get enlightened?’ or ‘What do I do?’ because all such questions presuppose the existence of an ‘I’, an assumption that Maharaj always used to reject.

I still have vivid memories of him listening as translators explained in Marathi what some questioner had said. As he understood the gist of what the question was Maharaj’s face would sometimes turn to a scowl. He would clench his fist, bang it on the floor and shout ‘Kalpana! Kalpana!’ which means ‘Concept! Concept!’ That would sometimes be the only answer the questioners would get. Maharaj was definitely not interested in massaging visitor’s concepts. He wanted people to drop them, not discuss them.

When this second restriction effectively cut off most of the questions that people like to ask Gurus, Maharaj would fill the vacuum by giving talks about the nature of consciousness. Day after day he would continue with the same topic, often using the same analogies. He would explain how it arises, how it manifests and how it subsides. In retrospect I think he was doing what the ancient rishis of India did when they told their disciples ‘You are Brahman’. When a jnani who is established in Brahman as Brahman says to a disciple, ‘You are Brahman,’ he is not merely conveying a piece of information. There is a power and an authority in the words that, in certain cases, makes the listener become and experience Brahman as he hears the words. This is a power and an authority that only jnanis have. Other people can say ‘You are consciousness,’ ‘You are Brahman,’ endlessly, but these will just be pieces of information that you can store in your mind. When a jnani tells you this, the full authority of his state and the full force that lies behind it are conveyed in the statement. If you take delivery of that information in the heart, in consciousness, then you experience that state for yourself. If you take delivery in your mind, you just store it there as an interesting piece of information.

When Maharaj told you endlessly ‘You are consciousness,’ if you received that information in utter inner silence, it activated an awareness of consciousness to such an extent that you felt, ‘He isn’t just telling me something; he is actually describing what I am, right now in this moment’.

==> Read full conversation

Harriet: What was Maharaj’s attitude to Ramana Maharshi and his teachings? Did you ever discuss Bhagavan’s teachings with him?

David: He had enormous respect for both his attainment and his teachings. He once told me that one of the few regrets of his life was that he never met him in person. He did come to the ashram in the early 1960s with a group of his Marathi devotees. They were all on a South Indian pilgrimage tour and Ramanasramam was one of the places he visited.

With regard to the teachings he once told me, ‘I agree with everything that Ramana Maharshi said, with the exception of this business of the heart-centre being on the right side of the chest. I have never had that experience myself.’

I discussed various aspects of Bhagavan’s teachings with him and always found his answers to be very illuminating.

He asked me once, ‘Have you understood Ramana Maharshi’s teachings?’

Since I knew he meant ‘Had I actually experienced the truth of them?’, I replied, ‘The more I listen to Maharaj, the more I understand what Bhagavan is trying to tell me’.

I felt that this was true at both the theoretical and experiential levels. His explanations broadened and deepened my intellectual understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings and his presence also gave me experiential glimpses of the truth that they were all pointing towards.

I have to mention Ganesan’s visit here. V. Ganesan is the grandnephew of Ramana Maharshi and in the 1970s he was the de facto manager of Ramanasramam. Nowadays, his elder brother Sundaram is in charge. Ganesan came to visit Maharaj for the first time in the late 1970s. As soon as he arrived Maharaj stood up and began to collect cushions. He made a big pile of them and made Ganesan sit on top of the heap. Then, much to everyone’s amazement, Maharaj cleared a space on the floor and did a full-length prostration to him.

When he stood up, he told Ganesan, ‘I never had a chance to prostrate to your great-uncle Ramana Maharshi, so I am prostrating to you instead. This is my prostration to him.’

Harriet: That’s an extraordinary story! Were you there that day?

David: Yes, I was sitting just a few feet away. But the truly extraordinary thing for me was what happened next. Maharaj and Ganesan chatted for a while, about what I can’t remember.

Then Maharaj made an astonishing offer: ‘If you stay here with me for two weeks, I guarantee you will leave in the same state as your great-uncle Ramana Maharshi.’

Ganesan left that day and didn’t come back. I couldn’t believe he had turned down an offer like that. If someone of the stature of Maharaj had made an offer like that to me, I would have immediately nailed myself to the floor. Nothing would have induced me to go away before the time was up.

When I returned to Ramanasramam I asked Ganesan why he hadn’t stayed.

‘I didn’t think he was serious,’ he replied. ‘I just thought he was joking.’

It was during this visit that Maharaj asked Ganesan to start giving talks in Ramanasramam. ‘I have been to Ramanasramam,’ he said, ‘and you have wonderful facilities there. Many pilgrims come, but no one is giving them any teachings. It is a sacred and holy place but people are leaving it and coming here because no one is teaching there. Why should they have to travel a thousand miles to sit in this crowded room when you have such a great place? You need to start giving talks there. You need to start explaining what Ramana Maharshi’s teachings are.’

Ganesan was unwilling to follow that advice either, or at least not at the time. There is a strong tradition that no one is allowed to teach in Ramanasramam. Ramana Maharshi is still the teacher there and no one is allowed to replace him. It is not just a question of having a new Guru there; the ashram management does not even encourage anyone to publicly explain what Ramana Maharshi’s teachings mean. Ganesan didn’t want to rock the boat and incur the ire of his family and the devotees who might object, so he kept quiet. It is only in the last few years that he has started teaching, but he is doing it in his own house, rather than in the ashram itself. The ashram is still very much a teacher-free zone.

I talked to Ganesan recently about Maharaj and he told me a nice story about a Frenchwoman whom to he took there.

‘When I started to visit Maharaj some of Bhagavan’s devotees criticized me for abandoning Bhagavan and going to another Guru. Many of them seemed to think that going to see Maharaj indicated that I didn’t have sufficient faith in Bhagavan and his teachings. I didn’t see it that way. I have visited many great saints, and I never felt that I was abandoning Bhagavan or being disrespectful to him by going on these trips. A Frenchwoman, Edith Deri, was one of the women who complained in this way. We were in Bombay together and I somehow convinced her to accompany me on a visit to Maharaj. She came very reluctantly and seemed determined not to enjoy the visit.

‘When we arrived Maharaj asked her if she had any questions. She said that she hadn’t.

‘”So why have you come to see me?” he asked.

‘”I have nothing to say,” she replied. “I don’t want to talk while I am here.”

‘”But you must say something,” said Maharaj. “Talk about anything you want to. Just say something.”

‘”If I say something, you will then give some reply, and everyone will then applaud because you have given such a wonderful answer. I don’t want to give you the opportunity to show off.”

‘It was a very rude answer, but Maharaj didn’t show any sign of annoyance.

‘Instead, he replied, “Water doesn’t care whether it is quenching thirst or not”.

‘And then he repeated the sentence, very slowly and with emphasis. He often repeated himself like this when he had something important to say.

‘Edith told me later that this one sentence completely destroyed her skepticism and her negativity. The words stopped her mind, blew away her determination to be a spoilsport, and put her into a state of peace and silence that lasted for long after her visit.’

Read Full Conversation here..

David Godman explains his memories about Nisargadatta Maharaj:

Harriet: From what I have heard ‘feisty’ may be a bit of a euphemism. I have heard that he could be quite bad-tempered and aggressive at times.

David: Yes, that’s true, but I just think that this was part of his teaching method. Some people need to be shaken up a bit, and shouting at them is one way of doing it.

I remember one woman asking him, rather innocently, ‘I thought enlightened people were supposed to be happy and blissful. You seem to be grumpy most of the time. Doesn’t your state give you perpetual happiness and peace?’

He replied, ‘The only time a jnani truly rejoices is when someone else becomes a jnani’.

Harriet: How often did that happen?

David: I don’t know. That was another area that he didn’t seem to want to talk about.

I once asked directly, ‘How many people have become realised through your teachings?’

He didn’t seem to welcome the question: ‘What business is that of yours?’ he answered. ‘How does knowing that information help you in any way?’

‘Well,’ I said, ‘depending on your answer, it might increase or decrease my level of optimism. If there is a lottery with only one winning ticket out of ten million, then I can’t be very optimistic about winning. But if it’s a hundred winning tickets out of a thousand, I would feel a lot better about my chances. If you could assure me that people are waking up here, I would feel good about my own chances. And I think feeling good about my chances would be good for my level of earnestness.’

‘Earnestness’ was one of the key words in his teachings. He thought that it was good to have a strong desire for the Self and to have all one’s faculties turned towards it whenever possible. This strong focus on the truth was what he termed earnestness.

I can’t remember exactly what Maharaj said in reply except that I know he didn’t divulge any numbers. He didn’t seem to think that it was any of mine or anyone else’s business to know such information.

Harriet: Maybe there were so few, it would have been bad for your ‘earnestness’ to be told.

David: That’s a possibility because I don’t think there were many.

Harriet: Did you ever find out, directly or indirectly?

David: Not that day. However, I bided my time and waited for an opportunity to raise the question again. One morning Maharaj seemed to be more-than-usually frustrated about our collective inability to grasp what he was talking about.

‘Why do I waste my time with you people?’ he exclaimed. ‘Why does no one ever understand what I am saying?’

I took my chance: ‘In all the years that you have been teaching how many people have truly understood and experienced your teachings?’

He was quiet for a moment, and then he said, ‘One. Maurice Frydman.’ He didn’t elaborate and I didn’t follow it up.

I mentioned earlier that at the conclusion of his morning puja he put kum kum on the forehead of all the pictures in his room of the people he knew were enlightened. There were two big pictures of Maurice there, and both of them were daily given the kum kum treatment. Maharaj clearly had a great respect for Maurice. I remember on one of my early visits querying Maharaj about some statement of his that had been recorded in I am That. I think it was about fulfilling desires.

Maharaj initially didn’t seem to agree with the remarks that had been attributed to him in the book, but then he added, ‘The words must be true because Maurice wrote them. Maurice was a jnani, and the jnani’s words are always the words of truth.’

I have met several people who knew Maurice, and all of them have extraordinary stories to tell about him. He visited Swami Ramdas in the 1930s and Ramdas apparently told him that this would be his final birth. That comment was recorded in Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi in the late 1930s, decades before he had his meetings with Maharaj. He was at various stages of his life a follower of Ramana Maharshi, Gandhi, and J. Krishnamurti. While he was a Gandhian he went to work for the raja of a small principality and somehow persuaded him to abdicate and hand over all his authority to people he had formerly ruled as an absolute monarch. His whole life is full of astonishing incidents such as these that are virtually unknown. I have been told by someone who used to be a senior Indian government official in the 1960s that it was Frydman who persuaded the then India Prime Minister Nehru to allow the Dalai Lama and the other exiled Tibetans to stay in India. Frydman apparently pestered him continuously for months until he finally gave his consent. None of these activities were ever publicly acknowledged because Frydman disliked publicity of any kind and always tried to do his work anonymously.

Read More: Remembering Nisargadatta Maharaj – III

Next Page »