December, 1998

Dear Ones,

This is from a collection of teachings of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, who had a simple yet sublime message. He guided people to understand their true nature.

Published in 1973, while he was still alive, I Am That now is a spiritual classic. It is the book I pick up to tune in.

Happy holidays, my friends,


Questioner: I come from a far off country. I had some inner experiences on my own and I would like to compare notes.

Maharaj: By all means. Do you know yourself?

Questioner: I know that I am not the body. Nor am I the mind.

Maharaj: What makes you say so?

Questioner: I do not feel I am in the body. I seem to be all over the place, everywhere. As to the mind, I can switch it on and off, so to say. This makes me feel I am not the mind.

Maharaj: When you feel yourself everywhere in the world, do you remain separate from the world? Or, are you the world?

Questioner: Both. Sometimes I feel myself to be neither mind nor body, but one single all-seeing eye. When I go deeper into it, I find myself to be all I see and the world and myself become one.

Maharaj: Very well. What about desires? Do you have any?

Questioner: Yes, they come, short and superficial.

Maharaj: And what do you do about them?

Questioner: What can I do? They come, they go. I look at them. Sometimes I see my body and my mind engaged in fulfilling them.

Maharaj: Whose desires are being fulfilled?

Questioner: They are a part of the world in which I live. They are just as trees and clouds are there.

Maharaj: Are they not a sign of some imperfection?

Questioner: Why should they be? They are as they are, and I am as I am. How can the appearance and disappearance of desires affect me? Of course, they affect the shape and content of the mind.

Maharaj: Very well. What is your work?

Questioner: I am a probation officer.

Maharaj: What does it mean?

Questioner: Juvenile offenders are let off on probation and there are special officers to watch their behavior and to help them get training and find work.

Maharaj: Must you work?

Questioner: Who works? Work happens to take place.

Maharaj: Do you need to work?

Questioner: I need it for the sake of money. I like it, because it puts me in touch with living beings.

Maharaj: What do you need them for?

Questioner: They may need me and it is their destinies that made me take up this work. It is one life, after all.

Maharaj: How did you come to your present state?

Questioner: Sri Ramana Maharshi's teachings have put me on my way. Then I met one Douglas Harding who helped me by showing me how to work on the 'Who am I?'

Maharaj: Was it sudden or gradual?

Questioner: It was quite sudden. Like something quite forgotten, coming back into one's mind. Or, like a sudden flash of understanding. 'How simple,' I said, 'How simple; I'm not what I thought I am! I'm neither the perceived nor the perceiver; I'm the perceiving only.'

Maharaj: Not even the perceiving, but that which makes it all possible.

Questioner: What is happiness?

Maharaj: Harmony between the inner and the outer is happiness. On the other hand, self-identification with the outer causes suffering.

Questioner: How does self-identification happen?

Maharaj: The self by its nature knows itself only. For lack of experience, whatever it perceives it takes to be itself. Battered, it learns to look out and to live alone. When right behavior becomes normal, a powerful inner urge makes it seek its source. The candle of the body is lighted and all becomes clear and bright.

Questioner: What is the real cause of suffering?

Maharaj: Self-identification with the limited. Sensations as such, however strong, do not cause suffering. It is the mind, bewildered by wrong ideas, addicted to thinking, "I am this; I am that," that fears loss and craves gain and suffers when frustrated.

Questioner: A friend of mind used to have horrible dreams night after night. Going to sleep would terrorize him. Nothing could help him.

Maharaj: Company of the truly good (satsang) would help him.

Questioner: Life itself is a nightmare.

Maharaj: Noble friendship (satsang) is the supreme remedy for all ills, physical and mental.

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