I was not


“I didn’t know I was, presently I know I am, this is the same “I” with the knowingness mantle over it. This is the way the very Absolute transformed Itself into this grosser consciousness state, the state of appearance.”

“Nobody wants to inquire about the Self deeply and thoroughly, everybody inquires on a superficial level.” (Nisargadatta, Prior to Consciousness p. 54)

I was not. Then suddenly, I was. It feels like I am, but actually, I am not. If I had known what a trap I was getting into, I would not have gone into my mother’s womb. This sounds like a rejection of being alive, but it is not. It is neither rejection nor acceptance. This is the fine line of the paradox that my consciousness has to walk in order to find my way out of the labyrinth of consciousness.

This predicates that I do not take the state we call ‘consciousness’ as a given. I want to be able to inquire and question without blinders and preconceived assumptions. So my premise, which I choose for this inquiry is the following: prior to consciousness I was not, and that Absolute state was stable.

In order to transcend consciousness and fully realize a state prior to consciousness, it is necessary to merge with consciousness which means to embrace it and do its bidding – which could be said to be a kind of acceptance, but only in the context relative to extricating oneself from consciousness. I must merge with consciousness as a prerequisite and essential element of the process of my examination because otherwise I will be separating myself from the state I am currently immersed in; this current state, however, is my only capital for this venture, it is my base of operations. I must put it to very good use. In the process of merging with consciousness and beingness, I am all the while to remain in the awareness of “I was not”. This will temper the “love to be” at its core by remaining as the Absolute. In this way consciousness, beingness, is in contrast to a state ‘prior to beingness’. This is the alchemy required for transcendence.

The energy of “I was not” brings to awareness the dynamic that led to the “I am the body” belief. The dynamic and energetic signature of this illusory belief seems to be a ‘derailment’ of the energy of the Absolute. We are entrained from our first connection as a sentient being with the world, as a child, to see ‘living’ as something natural, inevitable and wonderful/terrible. Nowhere in our culture is the validity of existence actually questioned. This is a necessary first step in order to gain the choiceless awareness required to see our existential situation clearly.

The next phase in extricating ourselves from consciousness is to realize that I am “dynamic manifest consciousness” and not an individual. The deeper feeling tone of “I am one with everything” (the sense of Oneness), has generally been one of “Oh!” and “Ah!” Am I able to include in this feeling tone additionally the feeling tone of Calm, of realizing that the entire manifestation is out of nothing. This will temper the ecstatic emotional coloring and allow for a detached examination.

Can I express that all of manifestation in a certain sense is a “fraud”, without the emotional coloring of rejection of manifestation, as it is essential to remain the observer, free of any kind of entanglement with manifestation? The next step is to realize that all manifestation, the entire cosmos, came out of me (there is only one without a second) and therefore only by swallowing it back into my Absolute no-state-state can there be stability in the Absolute again.

To be the Absolute platform that witnesses all manifestation without being seduced and distracted by the love to be, that is the art. Allowing beingness to play itself out as ‘the love to be’ without losing my Natural State as the Absolute prior to consciousness, that is the art. I recognize the kriya, the active element of cosmic energy, of ‘the love to be’ as something functional. It is the basic motor of manifestation. It is nothing emotional or ecstatic. It is more like a snowball that gains momentum once it starts rolling downhill.

Pure consciousness is required in order to fathom how beingness came into being and how it then takes on a dynamic as dynamic manifest consciousness. Pure consciousness, however, is extremely difficult to sustain while in the incarnate state, submerged in and enveloped by the “love to be” which is incessantly pulsing with a grasping motion of “More! More! More!”

This “love to be” then self-propagates and self-organizes. David Bohm calls this the “implicate order” of manifest reality that governs how all things come into manifestation. This is sometimes called “total functioning”. All activities within total functioning are spontaneous. However, I am distracted by the “love to be” in my focus as the Absolute platform, as that which ‘was not’. When I identify with the “love to be”, I am in the illusion of manifestation being the highest, and the ‘meaning of life’. Yes, it is the meaning of life to our minds, but rarely is it seen that outside of the ideational choice-making movement of our mind, life itself actually has no meaning, it just simply is.

Anyone voicing this is seen as a mental case or diabolical. To say that life has no meaning does not refer to nihilism or existentialism. It refers to the fact that life, and all manifestation, is not real. It is merely a projection and distortion of Inner Effulgence, so many holographic shadows on the wall, which is the screen of the Substratum. Therefore it is absurd to speak of it having significance or meaning.

When I am free of distraction and able to sustain the state of pure consciousness, if even only for an instant, I can look at the fact of beingness as a state that disturbs the original stability of the Absolute. The Absolute is more subtle than consciousness. Consciousness is a distortion of the Absolute, one could even say an impurity. Yes, acceptance and merging, becoming one with beingness in manifestation while remaining THE ABSOLUTE PLATFORM, is what is required in order to become immune to its seductive power and not be sucked into its dynamic unconsciously. Alternately, I can believe that I am my body and that it is the highest goal in life to follow its bidding as the ultimate purpose of life. Then I will continue within the flow of conditioned consciousness.

Am I attached to long-cherished concepts and beliefs or am I determined to gain clarity as to “what is” irrespective of the perspective that such clarity may lead to? Am I able to examine all my beliefs and ascertain whether a certain belief was perhaps “fed” to me with the mother’s milk, so to speak, and therefore it has never occurred to me to examine it? This inner posture intends to bring me to a place free of all preconceived notions, as much as possible. The code for me to access this place is “I was not”. It is my personal quest for Truth.

Below is the translation of an a transcribed conversation between Nisargadatta and a visitor to his flat in Mumbai, India in 1980. Nisargadatta uses several terms in his responses in a particular way that is different than our everyday idiomatic English language usage. I find that I need to contemplate his words in order to gain a deeper understanding when at first reading his remarks seem obtuse. I then am blessed with insights that few other teachings offer me.

September 28, 1980

Questioner: Why so much attraction of the “I Amness”for the body?

Maharaj: When it expresses itself as “I Am” it is already fully charged with that love to be. Why, in the insect, worm, animal, or human being, this instinct to keep itself alive? Because with the sprouting of the life force, this “I Amness,” that is itself the very instinct to live, to love to live. That love to be is the prime motive force for all life’s activities.

You will find, when you are the manifest consciousness, you alone are the multiplicity; you express yourself in all this ample, manifest world. This state will itself be transcended, and you will be in the nirguna state; but these are all your expressions, only you as “I Amness.”

What I am talking about now is more subtle and more profound and very difficult to understand, but if you understand the job is done. Consciousness is an aid to know. Presently that consciousness knows itself as the body, it should not be so, consciousness should know consciousness bereft of body sense.

Understand logically what I have been telling you again and again. This “I Amness” is the outcome of the food which I eat. Am I the food? No, I am not; the outcome of the food I also am not. All will realize this knowledge, but presently you are caught up with this intimacy with the body.

“I Amness” has no authority of its own; it is a puppet in the play of the five elements; it is an outcome of the five elements. The one who expresses “I was not,” Its position is secure and stable and eternal.

Whatever you witness will not remain with you. It is imperfect. The One who recognizes the imperfect is perfect, It is total, It has not to do anything for Itself because it is perfect and complete in Itself. Why can the Parabrahman afford to have this luxury or suffering of this manifest world? Because to the Parabrahman, this does not exist.

Nisargadatta, PRIOR TO CONSCIOUSNESS, p. 56,57

If you want to follow-up on this article, here is the link to the PDF file of “Prior to Consciousness” HERE

3 thoughts on “I was not

  1. This article contains several direct quotes of Nisargadatta. I began immersing myself in his teachings about 12 or 13 years ago. This article is an expression of what I have been able to fathom up to now of Nisargadatta’s teachings. He was (he passed in September of 1981) to my knowledge, the clearest expression of a living person who had realized his ultimate identity as the Absolute, which Krishnamurti spoke of (especially in his notebook) as the “other”.

    There are many who speak of that which is unborn and undying, which is the substratum upon which all manifestation appears etc. Usually their focus is on how to live in that awareness. In the case of Nisargadatta he focused on transmitting to those that came to see him in Mumbai (then Bombay) the understanding that there is something like a “no-state-state” that is prior to consciousness and from which consciousness arises. This he called his “natural state” which is the meaning of his name Nisarga (natural state) datta – “one who is in his natural state”.

    For our minds it is an impossibility that anything would exist that cannot be somehow known. Nisargadatta breaks out of the limitations of the mind and opens up his awareness (not identical with ‘knowing-ness”) to a state that is prior to existence. At this point, as he says, words fail because they are part of existence and of knowing-ness. It then is up to the individual seeker to explore and inquire if it is possible to be that primal state from which existence then arises (arose). He says that it cannot be known, one can only BE THAT.

    For me there is a tremendous clarity and stability in the “awareness” of that which is the bedrock of all existence as it doesn’t change – it is not at the effect of anything temporal. He once said “Compared to Reality, a diamond is like butter”. Can each of us know this by BEING THAT? I believe so. It is not a place to reside in because we always are in complete interaction with manifest consciousness as ‘the world”. When we are, however, in some mysterious way, connected to that which is neither manifest nor un-manifest, we are no longer at the mercy of our thoughts or of any other aspect of consciousness.

    If you want to follow-up on this article, here is the link to the PDF file of “Prior to Consciousness”:

    Click to access Nisargadatta%20Maharaj%20-%20ebook%20-%20Prior%20to%20Consciousness%20-%20searchable.pdf

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