I AM THAT - the most famous book of Nisargadatta
Maharaj - an English translation of his talks in Marathi by Maurice
Frydman was published in 1973. Later many official and unofficial
translations into various languages emerged.
Was it not the sense of ‘I am’ that came first? Some seed
consciousness must be existing even during sleep, or swoon. On
waking up the experience runs: ‘I am-the body- in the world’. It may
appear to arise in succession but in fact it is all simultaneous, a
single idea of having a body in a world. Can there be the sense of
‘I am’ without being somebody or other?
‘I am’ itself is God, the seeking itself is God. In seeking you
discover that you are neither the body nor the mind, and the love of
the self in you is for the self in all. The two are one. The
consciousness in you and the consciousness in me, apparently two,
really one, seek unity and that is love. What do you love now? The
‘I am’. Give your heart and mind to it, think of nothing else. This
when effortless and natural, is the highest state. In it love itself
is the lover and the beloved.
Beyond the mind there is no such thing as experience. Experience is
a dual state. You cannot talk of reality as an experience. Once this
is understood, you will no longer look for being and becoming as
separate and opposite. In reality they are one and separable, like
roots and branches of the same tree. Both can only exist in the
light of consciousness, which again arises in the wake of the sense
‘I am’. This is the primary fact. If you miss it you miss all.
Begin with feeling ‘I am’. All else is neither true nor false, it
seems real when it appears, it disappears when it is denied. A
transient thing is a mystery. The real is simple, open, clear and
kind, beautiful and joyous. It is completely free of contradictions.
It is ever-new, ever-fresh, and endlessly creative. Being and
non-being, life and death, all distinctions merge in it. The teacher
tells the watcher you are not this; there is nothing yours in this,
except the point of ‘I am’, which is the bridge between the watcher
and his dream. ‘I am this’, ‘I am that’ is a dream, while pure ‘I
am’ has the stamp of reality on it. You have tasted so many things –
all came to naught. Only the sense ‘I am’ persisted – unchanged.
Stay with the changeless among the changeful, until you are able to
A ‘jnani’ knows that he has realized when he recognizes his
knowingness, which is the sense of ‘I am’. Right here and now you
are in the realized state. But you try to judge it through desires
and mind-concepts, hence your inability to apperceive it and abide
in it. In the ‘jnani’ state, there is no need for anything, not even
to know oneself. You are attached to the body-senses; therefore even
though you may attain an age of hundred years, you still would crave
for more years.
My guru further pointed out to me the fact that the only thing you
have and which you can utilize to unravel the mystery of life, is
this knowledge ‘I am’. Without that there is absolutely nothing, so
I got hold of it, as my guru advised me, and then I wanted to find
out how the spiritual aspect of ‘me’ came about without my
knowledge. On my pure Absoluteness, which has no place, and no shape
or form, this knowledge ‘I am’ came, which also has no shape or
form. Therefore, it appears; and it is only an illusion.
This is the greatest miracle, that I got the news ‘I am’, have you
any doubts that you are? It is self-evident. Prior to knowing that
you are, what knowledge did you have? ‘Dhyana’ means to have an
objective. You want to consider something. You ‘are’ that something,
just to be, you are. Just being the being ‘I am’. You meditate on
something; that knowledge ‘I am’ is yourself. Abide only there. How
can you ask any questions at this point? Because, that is, the
beginning of knowledge.
This primary concept is the knowledge ‘I am’, it is the mother of
all other concepts. In order to get that satisfaction, you must find
the source of this primary concept ‘I am’. You should give attention
to the knowledge ‘I am’ and meditate on that itself. Knowledge is to
be got hold of knowledge only. This will produce the seed, which,
through this process of meditation, slowly grows into a big tree,
and that itself will give you all the knowledge. It will not be
necessary for you to ask anyone what is what.
When you get established in the Beingness there no thoughts or words
– You are everything and everything is You. Later even that ceases
to exist. Krishna made Arjuna realize that the whole world is
Krishna. He realized that the knowledge ‘I am’, which means the
manifestation of the entire universe, spontaneously appeared on him.
‘I am’ itself is the world; it contains the entire world, that
should be your conviction. Just as in a dream, when you feel that
you are awake, but actually you are not and your world at that time
is the dream world. Similarly this knowingness (in the waking state)
contains this so-called real world; that conviction must come. The
truth is that there is no difference between (dream) consciousness
and (waking) consciousness, although they appear to be greatly
different; all consciousness is one.
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj