Nisargadatta’s teachings are rooted in the Advaita Vedanta interpretation of the Vedic idea “Tat Tvam Asi” meaning “That You Are” or finally divine Oneness. He is one of the most radical – going to the roots – Indian Wisdom Teachers and lived from March 1897 to September 1981. When asked about his biographical details, Maharaj used to say that “I was never born”. For him, the essence of his being is eternal, pure and ever free awareness which is not confined to a specific body-mind.
In his famous work “I am That”, Nisargadatta says:
The seeker is he who is in search of himself. Give up all questions except one: “Who am I?” After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The “I am” is certain. The “I am this” is not. Find out what you are in reality. To know what you are, you must first investigate and know what you are not.
Discover all that you are not – body, feelings thoughts, time, space, this or that – nothing, concrete or abstract, which you perceive can be you. The very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive.
The clearer you understand on the level of mind you can be described in negative terms only, the quicker will you come to the end of your search and realize that you are the limitless being.
The summary of his teachings can be described as follows…
- There is only THAT ONE SUBSTANCE
- What you know about yourself came from outside of you, therefore discard it.
- Question everything, do not believe anything.
- In order to find out who you are, you must first find out who you are not.
- In order to let go of something, you must first know what it is.
- The experiencer is contained within the experience itself.
- Anything you think you are – you are not.
- Hold onto the I AM, let go of everything else.
- Anything you know about you cannot be.
One of his teachings is also that there is no such thing as a “doer”…
“The life force and the mind are operating [of their own accord], but the mind will tempt you to believe that it is “you”. Therefore understand always that you are the timeless spaceless witness. And even if the mind tells you that you are the one who is acting, don’t believe the mind. […] The apparatus [mind, body] which is functioning has come upon your original essence, but you are not that apparatus.”
These statements remind me somewhat of Bashar’s Neutral Props saying that “there is no innate intrinsic built-in meaning to any-thing and his 4 Laws of the Universe and the first law is “I Am”. For me it is always helpful to consider things from very different perspectives and Nisargadatta adds a very valuable perspective for understanding…