Nisargadatta Maharaj as a Mind Bubble


Some years ago I was at the installation for a colleague as minister of a Unitarian Universalist church. These things can go on for quite a long time, and I have to admit my mind wandered on occasion. Until, that is, someone quoted a Hindu sage by way of passing on some advice to the new minister.

“Wisdom tells me I am nothing. Love tells me I am everything. Between the two my life flows.”

That caught me.

I thought how amazing. What a simple summary of the two truths I’ve found as the way of liberation for my own heart, and how they become one in the living.

So, I pursed the source of the quote. Nisargadatta Maharaj was a lay master of Advaita Vedanta, which I understand arose within Hinudism as a response to Buddhism’s relentless critique.

According to Wikipedia his life practice was simplicity itself. In a collection of his talks published as I Am That, he wrote, “My Guru ordered me to attend to the sense ‘I am’ and to give attention to nothing else.” He added how he “did not follow any particular course of breathing or meditation, or study of scriptures.” Instead, “Whatever happened, I would turn away my attention from it and remain with the sense ‘I am.’” He concluded, “It worked.”

My own discipline is similar, although I would caution anyone about that “turning away,” that it isn’t found in rejection, but in opening wider. Which, I feel, I can see in the rest of the paragraph summarizing his practice. But, I am reading it through the eyes of a Zen practitioner.

In any case, a fascinating teacher, worth checking out, I think.

Yesterday was his birthday. He would have been one hundred, sixteen…

By the bye there is a ton of stuff about him on Youtube.

Here’s a taste…

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  • http://theconsciousprocess.wordpress.com/ Bob

    James, you wrote, “My own discipline is similar, although I would caution anyone about that “turning away,” that it isn’t found in rejection, but in opening wider. Which, I feel, I can see in the rest of the paragraph summarizing his practice. But, I am reading it through the eyes of a Zen practitioner.”

    In his words: “Discard all you are not and go ever deeper. Just as a man digging a well discards what is not water, until he reaches the water-bearing strata, so must you discard what is not your own, till nothing is left which you can disown. You will find that what is left is nothing which the mind can hook on to. You are not even a human being. You just are – a point of awareness, co-extensive with time and space and
    beyond both, the ultimate cause, itself uncaused.”

    For salient excerpts from his teaching, see here:
    http://www.nonduality.com/asmi.htm

  • David Guy

    I AmThat is a great book, often hilariously funny.

    This is a really interesting page about the man:
    http://www.enlightened-spirituality.org/Nisargadatta_Maharaj.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/agni.ashwin Agni Ashwin

    Unitarians are always quoting some Advaitic realizer or another.


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