what is consciousness?

nisargadatta_maharaj_51Nisargadatta: The Absolute is unicity, by Itself, but it is expressed in manifold ways and forms. As Absolute I have no experience of myself. The devotion without another is devotion to the Self, where there is no duality.

Once the duality comes, the devotion is divided between subject and object. Before birth we were not conscious of ourself; only when a foreign element, the birth, was introduced, did we become conscious of ourself.

Apprehending this is awakening and for this there is no path or technique. This is so subtle that I would like to speak more about it, but it is physically impossible for me to speak more than a few words. Understand what I am saying. The consciousness arises spontaneously. Once I am conscious of myself I know I exist, and I love this beingness; I do not want this beingness to depart from me and it is this that makes me strive all the day till sleep overcomes me, in order to keep this love of beingness satisfied.

Then the Guru tells me the true state of affairs, that this consciousness which I love so much is only an illusion. It is the basic cause of all unhappiness and my true state is before this consciousness arose.

That is beyond all concepts and any name given is a concept. Understand it thoroughly, intuitively, beyond words, but also understand that that understanding can be of no use to you, because it is at the level of consciousness, and consciousness is illusory.

What is being recorded and transcribed here will be of unimaginable value in course of time when the basis of understanding will be broadened and people will want to know what the state of affairs is. At that time, when this is exposed on a wider scale, there will be wonderment. These words will be few, but those who at a certain time will be proud of their own achievements, when they hear these few words their own knowledge will evaporate so suddenly they will be wonderstruck.

Questioner: I don’t understand the way the word consciousness is used here. I thought consciousness was pure awareness, the Ultimate reality.

Nisargadatta: This consciousness, which depends on the food body which is born, is time-bound. That which is prior to consciousness is the Absolute, and when consciousness is without a form and not aware of itself, it is the Absolute. We are nothing but this consciousness.

You come here and I talk to you but I am not concerned whether you come or go. I am totally independent. I, as the Absolute, do not need the consciousness. Total independence is merely to apprehend and understand. My apparent dependence is on this consciousness which says

“I Am.” It is this sentience which enables me to perceive you. This concept I did not have but even then I existed. I was there before this consciousness appeared.

Whatever you want, desire or worship, can only be concepts. Have you heard what is conceptual existence and what is existence prior to concepts?

Many people have come here purely for spiritual purposes and they have professed great love for me. Subsequently some good fortune happens to them and they prosper and in their prosperity they have no time to come here. All the earlier love is where? This is the province of maya (the power that creates the illusion). A person comes with the sincere intention of spiritual search, then this maya shows him a little bit of temptation and off he goes.

This maya does not operate independently – we are partners. Will he dare divorce himself from this maya? No, he will accept that maya. That ego (that I am so and so) is very difficult to get rid of, but the ego cannot touch one who really understands what I say.

You will continue coming here as long as the concepts remain; once you go beyond concepts there will be no need to come here.

Since when and because of what, is what you think you are?

Source: Nisargadatta, PRIOR TO CONSCIOUSNESS, p. 80, 81

 

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