The “I Amness” words by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Where has the experience of being alive come from which started all this trouble? The ‘I’ consciousness appeared spontaneously and the experiences started. When you got yourself separated from the Absolute with this identity, ‘I am’, your demands started.
In the Absolute there are no needs of any kind, not even the need to know Itself. Brahman is the total truth; there is nothing else but Brahman. In That, the touch of beingness, ‘I am’, started, and then the separation and the sense of otherness appeared. Coming down into this world from the Absolute is like the appearance of a dream. Along with that appearance comes the primary ignorance, the false notion that you are the body. That is illusion, maya.
Maya is very powerful; she will get you completely wrapped up. She will make you do all her tricks, and that light of yours, the beingness gets extinguished. But, although she might be your greatest enemy, if you propitiate her properly, she will turn around and lead you to the highest state.
First, know that you are the manifest consciousness, the ‘I am’. Then go to the source and find out where this ‘I am’ came from. When you have knowledge you see the ‘I am’ as all-pervasive, so long as that consciousness is there. But then, this knowledge merges into no-knowledge, the Parabrahman, the witness of the consciousness. That has no ‘I am’; that is your true eternal nature. It is on this true, whole, homogeneous state that a small ripple appeared. Then the news came, “I am”. That news made all the difference, for then all this started. You must know your true state, and know that this ripple comes and goes on your true state.
Beingness witnesses all this manifestation, but the eternal principle, the Absolute, witnesses the beingness. The universal Absolute understands the play of the attributes, the projection of the mind, but the play cannot understand the Absolute. Prior to taking this form you were formless; then spontaneously the form came. But, once the form came there arose a natural longing to return to the formless, the desireless state.
Consciousness has to know consciousness. When it realizes itself, then you wake up and return to normal. In this waking up you have only the sense of being, without words; this is the primary principle… the prerequisite. A little later on, you know fully that you are and, therefore, the world is, but you also know that to be an illusion like the horns of a hare; the world is only a dream.
This consciousness of being ‘I am’, has created and sustained all the wonders in the world for which men take credit. It has tremendous powers. This beingness is itself Lord Krishna. It is whatever name you give to the Divinity.
Be devoted to this beingness. Always remember this ‘I am’ principle, and without the command or direction of this principle, do nothing. In the initial stages your devotion is of the surrendering type. In the final stages you become the entire universe.
Take it that this ‘I amness’ of yours is the unadulterated form of Godhood. The pure divine state is your beingness. Have full faith in It, give It its full importance, pray to It, and it will flower in you as the direct experience of Godliness.
Think: “The entire manifest beingness is myself and each being is a sample of myself. The knowledge ‘I am’ in each species is myself. The life force, luminous, bright, radiant, indwelling principle is myself.”
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj”
June 29, 1980
Nisargadatta Maharaj: Whatever concept you have about yourself cannot be true. The “I Amness” is the prime concept, and it has to be satisfied by letting it do its normal work in the world. The important thing is the realization of the fact that it is a concept.
Questioner: In the world this concept is always trying to be at the top. Even to the children we say, “You must be first in the examination.” Is it wrong to push your personality and individuality on others?
M. What is wrong is that you consider yourself to be limited to this body and shape. What knowledge I try to give is given to the knowledge “I Am” in each of you, which is the same. If you try to get that knowledge as an individual you will never get it.
Q. If `I Am” is a concept and it disappears, how is one to know that that concept has disappeared?
M. That “I Am” is a concept is to be understood while the concept is there. Once it merges in the original state, who (or what) is there who wants to know? The illusory entity has disappeared.
Q. I am convinced that this “I Am” is a concept and it will end, but why should I take it that it is a false concept?
M. How and when did this very thought come? Did this thought not come merely as a movement in that concept itself? If the consciousness were not there, the thought would not be there.
Consciousness is a temporary condition which has come upon the total, timeless, spaceless, changeless state. It is a happening which has come and which will disappear.
This psychosomatic bundle which is born will suffer or enjoy during its allotted span; so long as I know that I am not the one who experiences, but I am the knower, how am I concerned?
It is perfectly clear. I merely watch the body, mind, and consciousness laugh or suffer. In suffering it may cry out, all right, cry out. If it is enjoying, it may laugh. I know it is a temporary thing, if it wants to go, let it go. While I am talking to you, imparting knowledge, at the same time I am feeling unbearable pain, if it becomes a little more unbearable I may whimper. It can do what it likes, I am not concerned.
So long as you have not known what this consciousness is, you will fear death; but when you really understand what this consciousness is, then the fear leaves, the idea of dying also will go.
This consciousness is time-bound, but the knower of the consciousness is eternal, the Absolute.
source: Nisargadatta, Prior to Consciousness p. 19
Commentary: Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj puts forth the idea that “The “I Amness” is the prime concept.” Before there can be “I Amness,” there has to be “amness” or beingness or existence from which the I thought arises. This brings up the question of whether existence is conceptual or factual. Descarte said “I think, therefore I am.” It is equally valid (if not more so) to state “I am, therefore I think.” Without amness, there can be no thought of “I amness.”