Surely, you are aware of many things and behave
according to their nature. You treat a child as a
child and an adult as an adult.
Nisargadatta: Just as the taste of salt
pervades the great ocean and every single drop of
sea-water carries the same flavour, so every
experience gives me the touch of Reality, the ever
fresh realisation of my own Being.
Question: Do I exist in your world, as you
exist in mine?
Nisargadatta: Of course, you are and I am.
But only as points in consciousness; we are nothing
apart from consciousness. This must be well
grasped: the world hangs on the thread of
consciousness; no consciousness, no world.
Question: There are many points in
consciousness; are there as many worlds?
Nisargadatta: Take dream for an example. In
a hospital there may be many patients, all
sleeping, all dreaming, each dreaming his own
private, personal dreams unrelated, unaffected,
having one single factor in common illness.
Similarly, we have divorced ourselves in our
imagination from the real world of common
experience and enclosed ourselves in a cloud of
personal desire and fears, images and thoughts,
ideas and concepts.
Question: This I can understand. But what
could be the cause of the tremendous variety of the
Nisargadatta: The variety is not so great.
All the dreams are superimposed over a common
world. To some extent they shape and influence each
other. The basic unity operates in spite of all. At
the root of it all lies Self-forgetfulness; not
knowing who I am.
Question: To forget, one must know. Did I
know who I am, before I forgot it?
Nisargadatta: Of course. Self-forgetting is
inherent in Self-knowing. Consciousness and
unconsciousness are two aspects of one life. They
co-exist. To know the world you forget the Self
to know the Self you forget the world. What
is world after all? A collection of memories. Cling
to one thing, that matters, hold on to "I am" and
let go all else. This is sadhana. In realisation
there is nothing to hold on to and nothing to
forget. Everything is known, nothing is
Question: What is the cause of
Nisargadatta: There is no cause, because
there is no forgetting. Mental states succeed one
another, and each obliterates the previous one.
Self-remembering is a mental state and
Self-forgetting is another. They alternate like day
and night. Reality is beyond both.
Question: Surely there must be a difference
between forgetting and not knowing. Not knowing
needs no cause. Forgetting presupposes previous
knowledge and also the tendency or ability to
forget. I admit I cannot enquire into the reason
for not-knowing, but forgetting must have some
Nisargadatta: There is no such thing as
not-knowing. There is only forgetting. What is
wrong with forgetting? It is as simple to forget as
Question: Is it not a calamity to forget
Nisargadatta: As bad as to remember one's
Self continuously. There is a state beyond
forgetting and not-forgetting the natural
state. To remember, to forget these are all
states of mind, thought-bound, word-bound. Take for
example, the idea of being born. I am told I was
born. I do not remember. I am told I shall die I do
not expect it. You tell me I have forgotten, or I
lack imagination. But I just cannot remember what
never happened, nor expect the patently impossible.
Bodies are born and bodies die, but what is it to
me? Bodies come and go in consciousness and
consciousness itself has its roots in me. I am life
and mine are mind and body.
Question: You say at the root of the world
is Self-forgetfulness. To forget I must remember.
What did I forget to remember? I have not forgotten
that I am.
Nisargadatta: This "I am" too may be a part
of the illusion.
Question: How can it be? You cannot prove to
me that I am not. Even when convinced that I am not
Nisargadatta: Reality can neither be proved
nor disproved. Within the mind you cannot, beyond
the mind you need not. In the Real, the question,
"What is real?" does not arise. The manifested
[saguna] and Unmanifested [Nirguna]
are not different.
Question: In that case all is real.
Nisargadatta: I am all. As my Self all is
real. Apart from me, nothing is real.
Question: I do not feel that the world is
the result of a mistake.
Nisargadatta: You may say so only after a
full investigation, not before. Of course, when you
discern and let go all that is unreal, what remains
Question: Does anything remain?
Nisargadatta: The Real remains. But don't be
mislead by words!
Question: Since immemorial time, during
innumerable births, I build and improve and
beautify my world. It is neither perfect, nor
unreal. It is a process.
Nisargadatta: You are mistaken. The world
has no existence apart from you. At every moment it
is but a reflection of your Self. You create it,
you destroy it.
Question: And build it again, improved.
Nisargadatta: To improve it, you must
disprove it. One must die to live. There is no
rebirth, except through death.
Question: Your universe may be perfect. My
personal universe is improving.
Nisargadatta: Your personal universe does
not exist by itself. It is merely a limited and
distorted view of the Real. It is not the universe
that needs improving, but your way of looking.
Question: How do you view it?
Nisargadatta: It is a stage on which a world
drama is being played. The quality of the
performance is all that matters; not what the
actors say and do, but how they say and do it.
Question: I do not like this lila
[play] idea I would rather compare the
world to a work-yard in which we are the
Nisargadatta: You take it too seriously.
What is wrong with play? You have a purpose only as
long as you are not complete [purna]; till
then completeness, perfection, is the purpose. But
when you are complete in your Self, fully
integrated within and without, then you enjoy the
universe; you do not labour at it. To the
disintegrated you may seem working hard, but that
is their illusion. Sportsmen seem to make
tremendous efforts: yet their sole motive is to
play and display.
Question: Do you mean to say that God is
just having fun, that he is engaged in purposeless
Nisargadatta: God is not only true and good,
he is also beautiful
[satyam-shivam-sundaram]. He creates beauty
for the joy of it.
Question: Well, then beauty is his
Why do you introduce purpose? Purpose implies
movement, change, a sense of imperfection. God does
not aim at beauty whatever he does is
beautiful. Would you say that a flower is trying to
be beautiful? It is beautiful by its very nature.
Similarly God is perfection itself, not an effort
Question: The purpose fulfils itself in
Nisargadatta: What is beautiful? Whatever is
perceived blissfully is beautiful. Bliss is the
essence of beauty.
Question: You speak of Sat-chit-ananda. That
I am is obvious. That I know is obvious. That I am
happy is not at all obvious. Where has my happiness
Nisargadatta: Be fully aware of your own
Being and you will be in bliss consciously. Because
you take your mind for yourself and make it dwell
on what you are not, you lose your sense of
Question: There are two paths before us
the path of effort [Yoga marga], and
the path of ease [bhoga marga]. Both lead
to the same goal liberation.
Nisargadatta: Why do you call bhoga a path?
How can ease bring you perfection?
Question: The perfect renouncer
[yogi] will find Reality. The perfect
enjoyer [bhogi] also will come to it.
Nisargadatta: How can it be? Aren't they
Question: The extremes meet. To be a perfect
bhogi is more difficult than to be a perfect yogi.
I am a humble man and cannot venture judgements of
value. Both the yogi and the bhogi, after all, are
concerned with the search for happiness. The yogi
wants it permanent, the bhogi is satisfied with the
intermittent. Often the bhogi strives harder than
Nisargadatta: What is your happiness worth
when you have to strive and labour for it? True
happiness is spontaneous and effortless.
Question: All beings seek happiness. The
means only differ. Some seek it within and are
therefore called yogis; some seek it without and
are condemned as bhogis. Yet they need each
Nisargadatta: Pleasure and pain alternate.
Happiness is unshakable. What you can seek and find
is not the real thing. Find what you have never
lost, find the inalienable.