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Pradeep Apte

The Simple Teaching of Sri Nisargadatta

Excerpted from dialogue No.16 (Desirelessness, the Highest Bliss) from
M: Why not turn away from the experience to the experiencer and realise the full
import of the only true statement you can make: 'I am'?
Q: How is it done?
M: There is no 'how' here. Just keep in mind the feeling 'I am', merge in it, till your
mind and feeling become one. By repeated attempts you will stumble on the right
balance of attention and affection and your mind will be firmly established in the
thought-feeling 'I am'. Whatever you think, say, or do, this sense of immutable and
affectionate being remains as the ever-present background of the mind.
Q: And you call it liberation?
M: I call it normal. What is wrong with being, knowing and acting effortlessly and
happily? Why consider it so unusual as to expect the immediate destruction of the
body? What is wrong with the body that it should die? Correct your attitude to your
body and leave it alone. Don't pamper, don't torture. Just keep it going, most of the
time below the threshold of conscious attention.
Q: How does one go beyond the mind?
M: There are many starting points -- they all lead to the same goal. You may begin
with selfless work, abandoning the fruits of action; you may then give up thinking
and end in giving up all desires. Here, giving up (tyaga) is the operational factor. Or,
you may not bother about any thing you want, or think, or do and just stay put in
the thought and feeling 'I am', focussing '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.
Q: I cannot give all my life to such practices. I have my duties to attend to.
M: 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
Q: Is such a state realisable?
M: I would not talk about it, if it were not. Why should I engage in fancies? Your own
self is your ultimate teacher (sadguru). The outer teacher (Guru) is merely a
milestone. It is only your inner teacher, that will walk with you to the goal, for he is
the goal.
Q: Please tell me which road to self-realisation is the shortest.
M: No way is short or long, but some people are more in earnest and some are less.
I can tell you about myself. I was a simple man, but I trusted my Guru. What he told
me to do, I did. He told me to concentrate on 'I am' -- I did. He told me that I am
beyond all perceivables and conceivables -- I believed. I gave him my heart and
soul, my entire attention and the whole of my spare time (I had to work to keep my
family alive). As a result of faith and earnest application, I realised my self (swarupa)
within three years.You may choose any way that suits you; your earnestness will
determine the rate of progress.
Q: No hint for me?
M: Establish yourself firmly in the awareness of 'I am'. This is the beginning and
also the end of all endeavour.

The body and world don’t exist

Pradeep Apte (aptep@yahoo.com)

Master: Since you firmly believe that ‘I am the body’, I point towards your
body and ask you, whose body is this?
Disciple: It’s my body.
M: You have certain ideas about everything, all ideas are thoughts and all
these we collectively call the mind, whose mind is this?
D: It’s my mind.
M: You agree then that this body that I pointed out to and the mind I spoke
of belong to you?
D: Yes.
M: That means they are your possessions, they belong to you and you are
their possessor?
D: Yes.
M: If you are their possessor then can you be the possessions?
D: No.
M: Then you are neither the body nor the mind but their owner or possessor.
D: Yes.
M: Do you know the owner or the possessor?
D: No
M: Which means you do not know who you are?
D: No
M: Thus if you have no clear knowledge of who you are, all the learning,
greatness and power you believe you have are false! Hence the first lesson
you have to learn is about your own self, you must know who you are, isn’t
D: Yes, indeed.
M: So your primary task is to launch an enquiry into yourself and know who
you are by asking the question: Who am I?
D: Yes
M: Apart from the reasoning that we began with, is there any way, method
or test by which we can determine a particular thing to be ‘not I’ or ‘not
D; Please tell me, I don’t know.
M: Would it not be to ask as to whether you exist or not in the absence of
that particular thing?
D: Yes, that would be a convincing way.
M: Because if you exist regardless of that particular thing being or not it’s
‘not you’.
D: Agreed.
M: Your body with all its processes going on, we call it the gross body,
while all that you have in mind we call it the subtle body.
D: Dreams as well?
M: While you are awake you know both the gross and the subtle body and
when you are dreaming it is only the subtle body that is operating and giving
you all the experiences.
D: And in deep sleep?
M: In deep sleep the body and world do not exist, the mind has subsided and
with it go both the body and the world.
D: It’s a total blank!
M: You may say so, but your own existence as ‘I am’ was always there. This
existence of the ‘I am’ is experienced by one and all.
D: How so? It was a total blank!
M: Then how do say you slept well or were fast asleep without any content –
which you are now calling a blank?
D: I experienced it, I know it.
M: Which means you were there in spite of the blank.
D: Yes, I was there.
M: The body and the world weren’t there but you were there, which means
the body and the world don’t exist but you always do.
D: The body and the world did not exist for me but for others they did and
they’d tell me so when I woke up, so how can you say that the body and
world don’t exist?
M: Existence and consciousness go together; there cannot be one without the
other. The knowledge that you slept is the evidence of your existence in that
time. Did you have to ask others that you slept or not? It’s your very own
experience independent of others and proves your existence in deep sleep.
D: Yes, it’s my own experience, and nobody else can give true evidence of
my being asleep
M: Which means your existence is self-evident. If the body and the world
too have such an undeniable existence and consciousness why do they (the
body and world) need the evidence of others to prove that they existed in
deep sleep?
D: Their existence is not self-evident.
M: Right, because the evidence of others is needed to do so. I have already
said that existence without consciousness is no existence at all, and since the
knowledge that the body and the world exist in deep sleep is not self-
evident, we can positively assert that their existence is false. Thus, because
no one deny that he existed in deep sleep, one’s own existence in sleep and
the non-existence of the body there must be accepted by all.
D: Then what about the body and world in the waking and dream states?
M: According to the following logical inference: ‘That which seems to exist
at one time and not at another time is actually non-existent even when it
seems to exist’, the body and world are non-existent during the time of their
seeming existence, that is during waking and dream states.
D: What sort of body do we have in deep sleep?
M: In deep sleep, the ego (ahankara – the mind in the form of attachments)
is still alive in the very subtle form of tendencies (vasanas); it is this form
which is that base and cause for the rising of the subtle and gross bodies, and
therefore it is called the causal body. Even in death, it is in this causal body
that we exist. This causal body is not destroyed by the death of the gross
body. The reason for asserting that even this causal body is not ‘I’ is that we
exist there to know even that state to be alien to us. There our existence
alone is real, and we cannot be the form (darkness or ignorance) which we
assume there. Just as we rejected the gross body of the waking state as ‘I am
not this body’, even though it appeared to be ‘I’, and just for the same reason
we rejected the subtle body of the dream state as ‘not I’, let us now also
reject this causal body (darkness or ignorance) of deep sleep as ‘not I’, since
it is only a form which comes on us and goes. Therefore having firmly
eliminated all these three bodies as ‘not I, not I’, what then remains, that
knowledge, the consciousness (chit) of our existence (sat) alone is ‘I’ or the
‘I am’.
(Created from ‘The path of Sri Ramana : Part One’)

A simple method to abide in the ‘I am’

Pradeep Apte

I humbly offer salutations to my Guru Sri Nisargadatta maharaj

who made me correctly understand the meaning of God:
“Just hold on to the knowledge ‘I am’, your sense of ‘being’ or
‘presence’. This feeling that ‘you are’ is the God in you, let it
be you guide or Guru, there is nothing else to be done.”
This statement loudly rung a bell in my mind as I recollected the
words Sri Brahmachaitanya Gondavlekar Maharaj:
“The quality of ‘being’ or ‘presence’ is common to all objects
living or non-living, with form or without form. Thoughts are
formless but their ‘presence’ is very much there. This ‘being’ is
‘Nama’, the name of God which I which I strongly recommend
you all to recite.”
In Maharashtra, Sri Gondavlekar Maharaj (1845-1913) was one of
the great exponents of the practice of ‘Namasmarana’ which
means remembering God by reciting or chanting his name. I had
read his teachings several years back, even before knowing Sri
Nisargadatta maharaj.
According to Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj the 'I am', 'being' or
‘presence’ is common to all objects, living or non-living. It is the
composition of the object in terms of the five elements and three
qualities that determines whether the 'I am', 'being' or 'presence' is
known or expressible to it. The 'I am', 'being' or 'presence' is a
reflection of the Absolute and holding on to it one can realize the
The teachings of both these masters are quite similar which thus
lead us to an ancient and simple practice or ‘Sadhana’ of
‘Namasmarana’. If one investigates one shall find that the
teachings of not only these two masters but almost all the masters
are quite similar and all bring you to the doorstep of God. The
reason, at least for me, was quite simple, my intellect or
understanding only went up to a certain point and could go no
further. There was something definitely missing in all this and that
was devotion! Without surrender to the divine you could never
possibly expect yourself on your own to go beyond the intellect
and realize the Absolute. If you are nurturing any such
expectations you are still on an ego trip that you always go on for
achieving anything in your day to day living as an individual.
I thought, repeating the Name of God? This is something insane!
But then, in all this that you have been doing so far, has sanity paid
off? No, so why not insanity for a change? And see the grace of
my Guru, I didn’t have to wait long he had all the answers for me.
Let us see what he had to say in this matter:
“Constant repetition of words (Japa) is a kind of madness but
deliberate madness. All repetitiveness is tamas, but repeating
the name of God is a satwa-tamas due its higher purpose.
Because of the satwa the tamas will wear out and will take the
shape of detachment, relinquishment, aloofness, immutability.
Tamas becomes the firm foundation on which integrated life
can be lived. The purpose of Japa is to conserve oneself, that
means the knowingness (the knowledge ‘I am’) is to be
returned. Japa in Marathi means to guard, to protect. You
should protect your beingness by Japa.”
He further said:
“When you are initiated into a spiritual discipline with a
sacred name, it means that it represents you ‘Ultimate True
Nature’. Be one with the sacred name completely, then it will
give you all the mystical knowledge necessary for your
spiritual evolution. It will awaken you into your ‘Eternal
Awareness’. This is the mystic key-word of the Navanath
Sampradaya, the traditional order of the nine Gurus.
Before the emanation of any words ‘I’ already exists: later I
say mentally ‘I am’. The word free and the thought free state is
the Atman. The Atman per se is self sufficient but when it clings
to the body, ‘treatments’ such as mental and physical
recreation or occupation are necessary, without which the
Atman cannot be tolerated by a person. For spiritual evolution,
which is a requisite in the detachment of Atman from body
identity, various disciplines have been recommended; the best
is ‘Namasmarana’ – recitation of a holy name of God. But here
God means the indwelling principle within you – the Atman,
which is given various names. These represent the ‘inner God’
who will respond no matter which name of God you chant.
Japa (using beads of rosary) is an occupation to the hands but
it is the inner God you are supposed to invoke. The keynote of
recitation is to confirm this ‘I-am-ness’ within itself. The
merging of beingness within itself is the very fount of bliss.”
Another great exponent of ‘Namasmarana’ from Kerala Swami
Ramdas (1884-1963) was bestowed by the grace of the master of
masters Sri Ramana Maharshi in 1922, about this experience he
"The Maharshi, turning his beautiful eyes towards Ramdas,
and looking intently for a few minutes into his eyes as though
he was pouring into Ramdas his blessings through those orbs,
nodded his head to say he had blessed. A thrill of inexpressible
joy coursed through the frame of Ramdas, his whole body
quivering like a leaf in the breeze."
In that ecstatic state he left Maharshi's presence and went to spend
nearly a month in a cave on the slopes of Arunachala in constant
chanting of Ramnaam. This was the first occasion that he went into
solitude and during this period of solitude he never bathed, shaved,
or cut his hair. When he ate, he only ate very little. After twenty-
one days, when he came out of the cave he saw a strange, all-
pervasive light: everything was Ram and only Ram.
Swami Ramdas says about the Name of God:
“God and His Name are not distinct from one another. Name is
God Himself. The moment we think of the Name, our mind is
filled with the presence of God. There is no easier way of
focusing thought upon God than taking constantly His Name.
When we repeat the Name aloud, we feel our heart is flooded
with the ecstasy of love, because the sound of the Divine Name
awakens the heart to the bliss and love of God.
Although the mental repetition of the Name is held to be far
more efficacious than the verbal repetition, still the rare
experience of sweetness and joy derived by uttering the Name
aloud is incomparable. When the entire being of the devotee
thrills with rapture to the music of the Name he realizes that
the Name is Brahman.
God is both, manifest and unmanifest. The Name stands for
such a God. Here the unmanifest is the all-pervading, infinite,
immutable, tranquil and static spirit of God. The manifest is
the entire universe of name, form and movement with all its
beings, creatures and things. The Name stands for this
all-inclusive and all-transcendent Godhead, who is both
personal and impersonal.
The Divine Name is thus the beginningless source of all
creation and the creation itself. God, the absolute, is the
nameless Name. The Name can free the soul from bondage.
The Name can take it to the highest consummation of spiritual
life. The Name can grant a blind soul Divine sight. The Name
can bless an individual with a universal vision full of sublimity.
The Name can lift the soul to inconceivable heights of
The power of the Name is invincible. A mind which is
considered to be unconquerable, by the soothing influence of
the Name becomes, docile, yielding and submissive. The mind
itself is transformed into God by the power of the Name. He
who takes refuge in the Name can work wonders. Death itself
will stand in awe of him. He can command all the forces of
nature and direct them, to bring about a spiritual awakening
in the hearts of men. The Name can make a human being an
embodiment of eternal love and joy. The Name can convert an
individual into a Cosmic Reality - an ignorant soul into a very
God. Where the Name of God is sung, the atmosphere is
permeated with purity, peace and bliss; for the symphony of
the Name spreads everywhere the splendour of love.
The Name is all-sufficient. The utterance of it is itself
meditation. The ecstasy born of it is itself Samadhi. The Name
is love, light, power and joy. The writer can vouch for it from
his own experience that the Name by itself without any other
Sadhana can grant one the fullest vision of God everywhere
and may merge him in an ocean of never-ending love and joy.
There is no Sadhana, which can be so universally adopted by
all people and is at the same time so simple for realizing God,
as the Divine Name. It is perfectly true, in the words of a saint,
that he who has God's Name always on his tongue is a
Jivanmukta, or a liberated soul.
So, dear friends, to whatever race, caste, creed or color you
may belong, take up the Name of God, and feel the sweet
communion with it, and you may depend upon it, your souls
through constant bathing in the nectar of the Name will not
only be purified but will also be illumined with the
omnipresent and omniscient light and love of God. This
practice of taking the Name will lead the unyielding spirit of
man to complete surrender to the omnipotent power and will
of God. In the earlier stages when the Name is repeated with
earnestness, faith and concentration, the face and the body of
the devotee will shine with a peculiar lustre, his mind will be
filled with wisdom and heart with love. This is due to the
predominance of Satwa Guna in the devotee. Later when the
repetition is continued with the same zeal; he will behold the
universe before him as the very expression of God. Becoming
one with God, he will have the vision of God everywhere
Thus, verily the Name is God Himself.”
Throwing aside all dry polemics let us just try to constantly recite
the name of God. You may choose any name that you can easily
love and identify yourself with. This is the simplest method to
abide in the ‘I am’.

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj:

The discipline of disappearance
(Pradeep Apte aptep@yahoo.com)

The most cardinal question in the self-inquiry as prescribed by Sri

Nisargadatta maharaj is:

What were you before you were born?

Quite obviously you did not exist! You were not there! Or simply
you can say ‘I was not’ or ‘nothing’.

Presently you know that you are ‘something’ or ‘somebody’

And, quite obviously you also know that a moment would come
when you wouldn’t be ‘something’ or ‘somebody’ or you would be
‘nothing’ again.

Maharaj stresses on this point, and goes on to say:

This is a subtle point, so try to understand it clearly

When I say ‘I was not’ prior to conception, then what I mean is,
that I was not like the present ‘I am’
But that ‘I’ which could discern this must be there to judge the
absence of the present ‘I am’


At first ‘no one’ is. Instantly, one is, and then two.

The subject of the talk is: How did these two reduce to one, and
finally to nothing?

Out of nothingness spontaneously the sense of beingness is felt -

this is one.

Later, when the sense of beingness knows ‘I am’ duality begins.

Then after the duality has arisen, the sense of being identifies with
the form, and so on.

Actually to refer to the sense of being as ‘one’, is not quite correct.

Since in this state only the sense of being prevails, where is the
need to say even ‘one’?

With the appearance of otherness (duality), both no.1 and no.2

appear simultaneously.

To say ‘something is’, ‘I’ must be there first.

If ‘I’ am not, I cannot say ‘something is’.

So the fundamental principle of spirituality is that ‘I must be there,

before anything else can be.

This ‘I’ is the beingness which is first.

This primordial beingness or the nascent ‘I am’ when it just
dawned or appeared has to be caught hold of. It is a state without
words or completely non-verbal, you knew that ‘you are’ that’s all!
And believe me there is no at single human being who must not
have gone through this stage, It is only a question of applying
oneself and coming to this purest of the pure ‘I am’ or ‘presence’.
An extremely important point made in the above statements is:

‘Actually to refer to the sense of being as ‘one’, is not quite

Since in this state only the sense of being prevails, where is the
need to say even ‘one’?’

When you are in this state of pure ‘presence’ or the wordless ‘I

am’, then it is only the ‘presence’ or the ‘I am’ all over! There is
nothing else! In its actuality it is a non-dual state and everything
including the ‘I am’ is bound to disappear! And you wouldn’t know
that ‘you are’.