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Quotes of Nisargadatta Maharaj from 'The Ultimate Medicine'
Compiled by Pradeep Apte

  1. When that witness itself, which is ‘I am’, subsides, what remains? With the witness gone, all other things have disappeared too. By the same token, upon the arising of the ‘ I am’, the whole manifestation takes place; these two are not separate, they are one, ‘I am’ is the witness, the entire manifest world is because of this.

  2. When ‘I am’ arises, everything appears; when ‘I am’ subsides everything subsides. Now this what I am trying to tell you, but you want something else. You want something about your future, something which is part of manifestation, but I am trying to hit at it.

  3. This ‘I am’ is an announcement, it is not the real, it has come out of something else. What the real is, I am not trying to tell you, because words negate that. Whatever I am telling you, is not the truth, because it has come out of the ‘I am’.

  4. While I am talking about it (‘I am’) I take you to the source of the spring. There, water is coming out in a trickle now. This trickle subsequently becomes a river, an estuary, and finally the sea, I take you to the source again and again. Once you arrive at the source, you come to know that actually there is no water, the water is purely the taste, the news that ‘I am’.

  5. There is no explanation for how this seed, this consciousness or knowledge ‘I am’ has arisen. But once it is in existence, it cannot stand still – that is, consciousness is tantamount to ‘movement’. And all movement takes place through the ‘gunas’, which are inherent in the knowledge ‘I am’. This consciousness keeps on ‘humming’ – (Maharaj uses the Marathi word ‘gun-gun’) – and expresses itself through the three ‘gunas’.

  6. This ‘gun-gun’ is within the knowledge ‘I am’, which includes the physical form. The ‘gun-gun’ entity and the knowledge ‘I am’ and the physical form – that whole bundle – has been created out of the five elements. So up to this point, the whole thing can be said to be entirely mechanistic and therefore pure ignorance.

  7. How did I get this birth? That is the point on which I persist in finding the answer; I ‘must’ know this. When I was told ‘sattva’, then what is ‘sattva’? ‘Sattva’ is the essence of the five elements. In that essence, in that juice, lies the knowledge ‘I am’; but all that is still of the five elements. Then how did this come about? My guru told me the whole story. Thus I came to know it is ignorance, and I know from experience, that everybody is starting from there. Thus whatever has come about is sheer ignorance, and we are nothing more, that is what my guru told me.

  8. 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.

  9. This beingness, the knowledge ‘I am’, which I call ‘upadro’, is the source of trouble. In this ‘upadro’, in this primary essence, lies the knowledge ‘I am’ – you know that you are. This quality of beingness (‘sattvaguna’), the knowledge ‘I am’ cannot tolerate itself. It cannot stand itself, alone, just knowing itself. Therefore that ‘rajoguna’ is there… it takes the beingness for a ride in various activities, so that it does not dwell on itself; it is very difficult to sustain that state. And ‘tamoguna’ is the basest quality, it claims authorship or doership for all those activities conducted through ‘rajoguna’. This is the play happening in these three gunas (qualities). Again understand, you are experiencing this ‘sattvaguna’, the knowledge ‘I am. This ‘I amness’ is experienced by you, the Absolute, but you are not the ‘I amness’.

  10. ‘Sadhana’, the discipline, is only this: The knowledge which is dwelling in this body, the quintessence of these three ‘gunas’ – the knowledge ‘I am’, ‘I am that’ – this is the initial step. You must be one with it; you must abide in that only. You have to think ‘ I am not the body but I am that formless, nameless knowledge indwelling in this body’; that (is) ‘I am’. When you abide sufficiently long in this state, whatever doubts you may have, that knowledge ‘I am’ itself will sprout out with life and meaning for you, intended for you only, and everything will become clear. No external knowledge will be necessary.

  11. Conviction! That is the only technique for the ‘sadhana’ if you are thinking of any initiation…only the words of the guru that you are not the body! That is the initiation. Stay put there, in that state. It is spontaneous, natural, that ‘shraddha’ (faith). What is that faith? ‘I am’ without words, whatever you are that is the faith. Now you have to elevate yourself to the state of ‘Brahman’; this is the condition you have to develop.

  12. What exactly is born? What is born are three states: the waking state, the sleep state, and the knowledge ‘I am’, this consciousness. The body and the vital breath would not be able to function if this consciousness were not present. These three states work through the three attributes (‘gunas’). I very clearly see that which has been born. And I also know that I am not that which is born. And that is why I am totally fearless. So this knowledge ‘I am’, this consciousness, this feeling or sense of being, is the quintessence of the body. And if that body essence is gone, this feeling, the sense of being, will also have gone.

  13. Once the body and the sense of being(‘I am’) goes what remains is the Original, which is unconditioned, without attributes, and without identity; that on which this temporary state of the consciousness and the three states and the three ‘gunas’ have come and gone. It is called ‘Parabrahman’, the Absolute.

  14. In that ‘Parabrahman’, which unconditioned,, without attributes, without identity – the identity comes only when there is the knowledge ‘I am’ – so if that itself is not there, who is there to ask? This is to understood not by ‘someone’ (with a body-mind identity), but it must be experienced, and in such a manner that the experiencer and experience are one.

  15. When the truth came out, it was found that in a certain atom the entire Universe is contained. And what is that atom? It is the beingness, the knowledge ‘I am’. That contains the whole Universe.

  16. The atomic consciousness contains the whole Universe, but yet he (the ‘jnani’) knows that he is not that consciousness. So in that case what pride can he have? He is the Absolute state, in which the ‘I am’ consciousness is absent. If you meet any ‘jnanis, you will find it easy to recognize them, for they will not have any pride in their Self-knowledge, since they have transcended that knowledge also. They say ‘I am not this knowledge or this consciousness’.

  17. My statement, and that of my guru, is that childhood is a cheat, it is false. The knowledge ‘I am’ itself is a cheat. When the beingness appears, that love for existence is a result of the primary illusion, that ‘maya’. Once you come to know that you exist, you feel like enduring eternally, you always want to be, to exist, to survive. And so the struggle begins, all because of ‘maya’.

  18. This knowledge ‘I am’ has dawned on you, since then whatever other knowledge you have acquired, whatever experiences you have had, whatever you have seen of the world has all been witnessed. But that one to whom the witnessing takes place is entirely separate from that which is witnessed.

  19. You base yourself on the body that you are now, and don’t understand its root. That is why we think we are this body, and for that you must do meditation. What is meditation? Meditation is not this body-mind meditating as an individual, but it is this knowledge ‘I am’, this consciousness, meditating on itself. Then the consciousness will unfold its own meaning.

  20. This itself 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.

  21. By reading various books and listening to everything else, you cannot become a ‘mahatma’, but only through that knowledge ‘I am’. Don’t concentrate on the body; because of a body you call yourself male or female. Just hold on to that knowledge ‘I am’ only without body sense – beyond name and form or design. But you have to employ name, form and design for the sake of worldly activities.

  22. You must have a firm conviction that ‘I am’ is only that ‘I am’ without body-mind form – the knowledge ‘I am’ purely. You say all these things, but has the knowledge come within the purview of the knowledge? You must have that full conviction, whatever you may have said, that is the truth and that is ‘I am’. There are no techniques, except the technique that ‘I am’ the firm conviction that ‘I am’ means ‘I am’ only, abidance in ‘I’. Don’t practice this thing, only develop your conviction.

  23. This conviction can be strengthened by meditation, like ‘dhyana’. And ‘dhyana’ means the knowledge must remain in meditation with the knowledge. Now, what is meditation? Meditation is the knowledge ‘I am’ remaining in that knowledge. There is the waking state and the sleep state, and the knowledge that you are, I exist, I know that I exist. Other than that what capital does anyone have than merely knowledge ‘I am’? ‘Dhyana’ is when this knowledge, this consciousness that I am, meditates on itself and not on something other than itself.

  24. When you say you sit for meditation, the first thing to be done is understand that it is not this body identification that is sitting for meditation, but this knowledge ‘I am’, this consciousness, which is sitting in meditation and is meditating on itself. When this is finally understood, then it becomes easy. When this consciousness, this conscious presence, merges in itself, the state of ‘samadhi’ ensues. It is the conceptual feeling that I exist that disappears and merges into the beingness itself. So this conscious presence also gets merged into that knowledge, that beingness – that is ‘samadhi’.

  25. There is that nine-month period in the womb. So what is the content of the womb? It is that knowledge ‘I am’ in dormant condition. This is being developed slowly, so within the birth principle everything is contained. That which is called birth, the birth principle is ‘turiya’; the experience that you exist itself is ‘turiya’. ‘Turiya’ means where the consciousness is. One who knows ‘turiya’ is ‘turiyatita’. That is my state. ‘Turiya’ is within the consciousness, which is the product of the five elements. And one who transcends that, who knows the ‘turiya’, is ‘turiyatita’. In order to stabilize in ‘turiya’, you must know the birth principle. ‘Turiya’ is always described as the witness state that see through waking, dreaming and sleeping. And ‘turiyatita’ is even beyond that.

  26. This ‘I am’ concept was not there prior to what you call ‘birth’. So as this concept has appeared, it will also go away. How am I affected? In no way whatsoever, because it is not true. This applies to all concepts. Prior to birth and after birth, whatever knowledge I have, my own, without hearing it from any one, that is the only true knowledge I accept. And the proof lies in my guru’s words.

  27. The body dies. This means what? It means only the thought ‘I am’, that concept, has disappeared. Nothing has happened to the knower of the whole happening. So long as the basic concept ‘I am’ is there, the conceptual element cannot disappear. It is the concept itself that has given various names to itself, but it is still the same concept. Before this concept of ‘I am’ came on you, were you happy or unhappy? Was there even any feeling of happiness or unhappiness? Any of the dualities? In the absence of the basic concept ‘I am’, there is no thought, no awareness, and no consciousness of one’s existence.

  28. Originally, I am untainted – uncovered by anything, without stigma – since nobody existed prior to me. Nor do I entertain any concepts about somebody existing, before me. Everything is in the form of the manifested world, after the appearance of the knowledge ‘I am’ with the body. Together with the body and the indwelling ‘ I amness’ everything is. Prior to the appearance of this body and the knowledge ‘I am’, what was there?

  29. The feeling ‘I am’ is the quintessence of everything, but I the Absolute am not that. That ‘I amness’ is the highest knowledge. And this is surrendered here by the abidance in the action.

  30. So long as the concept ‘I am’ is still there, they (people who contact maharaj) have not gone beyond or prior to it; they have not gone beyond the total manifestation. So now when people come here, I talk with them, from what level am I talking? I am talking from the level that you are consciousness and not the body-mind. In my state whatever comes out is from the total manifestation, not from the point of view of the Absolute. Hang on to that consciousness, which is your only capital, and do ‘dhyana’ and let that unfold whatever knowledge has to be unfolded.

  31. At present you wrongly identify yourself as the body. Body is given a certain name; that is ‘you’; you consider it to be like that. But I say that in this body, consciousness is present, or the knowledge ‘I am’ as I call it, is there. You should identify yourself as this knowledge. That is all.

  32. For meditation you should sit with identification with the knowledge ‘I am’ only and have confirmed to yourself that you are not the body. You must dwell only in that knowledge ‘I am’ – not merely the words ‘I am’. And the indwelling knowledge that you are, without words, that itself you are. In that identity you must stabilize yourself. And then whatever doubts you have will be cleared by that very knowledge, and everything will be opened up to you.

  33. Forget all about physical disciplines in this connection. I am telling you that the indwelling principle ‘I am’, the knowledge that you are, you have to ‘be’ that. Just be that, with that knowledge ‘ I am’, hold on to the knowledge ‘I am’.

  34. You know you are sitting here; you know you are, do you require any special effort to hold on to that ‘you are’? You know you are; abide only in that. The ‘I am’ principle without words, that itself is the God of all ‘Ishwaras’.

  35. If you identify yourself as the body, such an identity must be let go of, sacrificed. Your real identity has no body and no thought. And that self, the spontaneous knowledge ‘ I am’ you are. Since the self is not the body, the self is neither male nor female. You must fulfill the vow that you are not the body but solely the indwelling principle ‘I am’.

  36. With firm conviction, you abide in this knowledge ‘I am’ only; bereft of body-mind sense, only ‘I am’. If you dwell therein, if you be that only, in due course it will get mature. And it will reveal to you all the knowledge. And you need not go to anybody else.

  37. The concept ‘I am’ is the primordial ‘maya’. And that ‘maya’, that primordial concept ‘I am’ requires support and therefore God and ‘Ishwara’ have been born. Along with that the whole manifestation, the entire Universe, has come upon it. Otherwise, there is absolutely nothing. And out of many ‘jnanis’, there will only be a rare one who knows the real nature of this primary concept.

  38. First, the knowingness knows itself, knowing that ‘I am’. And in the illumination by that ‘I amness’, or that consciousness, everything else observed. I have had to repeat the same thing again and again, and I do not want to run kindergarten classes of spirituality.

  39. All this is the play of concepts. The primary concept ‘I am’ appears spontaneously. It likes ‘I am’; it loves that ‘I am’ state. Devouring ever more concepts, it gets totally enmeshed in them. And what is the source of all concepts? This primary feeling ‘I am’. But never forget the fact that it itself is a concept, time-bound. And so it is all mental entertainment.

  40. What equipment you are having is that ‘prana’. ‘Upasana’ means worship, worship of ‘prana’ itself. For doing that what equipment do you possess? It is ‘prana’ itself. Along with ‘prana’ there is that knowledge ‘I am’, or consciousness. These two things are available to you to do anything, nothing more than that.

  41. In the absence of beingness, when you did not know about your existence? Nothing was of any value to you. This memory ‘I am’ is neither true nor false; it is without these two attributes. That memory of beingness only appears to exist.

  42. For eternal peace you must dwell in yourself, know how this touch of ‘I am’ has appeared. All other knowledge is of no use in this connection.

  43. Where there is the vital breath, the knowledge ‘I am’ is present. There being no vital breath, the knowledge of ‘I amness’ is absent. Take full advantage of the naturally available capital with you – that is, your life force and the knowledge ‘I am’; they always go hand in hand. Right now, exploit it to the utmost. All worldly activities are going on only because of the knowledge ‘I am’ together with that motive force which is the life force, the vital breath. And that is not something apart from you; you are that only. Investigate and study this exclusively, abide in that, worship that only.

  44. What is this state before this knowledge ‘I am’ came upon me? When the knowledge ‘ I am’ came, the one who is satisfied with that will reach the state where he considers himself God and ‘Brahman’. But he does not go beyond it or prior to it. In the ultimate state lies the prior state; that is, the state before this knowledge ‘I am’ ever dawned on me – the highest state, the best state, the original state.

  45. I call a ‘siddha’ one who has attained the ultimate, in that ultimate state, the devotee and God, the ‘maya’ (primary illusion) and the ‘Brahman’ have disappeared. And, there is no beneficiary or experiencer of all that, because he is without the concept ‘I am’. He does not know ‘I am’, he does not know that he exists in that state, that knowingness is completely obliterated.

  46. 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.

  47. These two entities are available to you, the vital force and the knowledge ‘I am’, the consciousness. They appear without any effort; they are there. Now, in order to be one with ‘Ishwara’, to understand the non-duality you must worship the vital force. Then that knowledge, which is in seed form, slowly grows. And the seeker becomes full of knowledge; in the process he transcends that, and the ultimate state is achieved.

  48. ‘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.

  49. The conviction that this world never existed can happen only to ‘Parabrahman’. If this is indeed your conviction then you are the ‘Parabrahman’. This thing aside, you should discover how this news ‘I am’ – the knowledge of your existence – appeared and at what moment. Go to the source of it and find out.

  50. The words of ‘prana’ signify mind. So how could there be mind without vital force? This vital force and the consciousness (that is, the knowledge ‘I am’ or the beingness and the mind) appear simultaneously and always exist together.

  51. Before descending into this ‘avatar’, this knowledge quality was not present; knowingness was not there. The ‘I am’ was absent, not available. It is a non-knowing state, but afterwards, the state comprises all conceptual titles and names, and they are a person’s shackles. Any person, any embodied person with that knowledge ‘I am’ carries on his activities in the world with shackles of name only.

  52. Once it is understood that ‘I am’ is purely ‘I am’, formless and not that shackled body form – then no liberation is called for. To be stabilized in that beingness, which has no name and form, that itself is liberation.

  53. Understanding what that ‘avatar’ is, Lord Krishna avatar, means in essence abiding in that only. Then one is not the body. And what is the body? It is a mere aid for the sustenance or endurance of that ‘I am’ principle.

  54. The vital breath gets conditioned or manacled by the bondage of name. It accepts the name as ‘ I am’; this is the mistake. That which is deconditioned from name and form is ‘Paramatman’. That which conditioned by the body, mind, name and form is called ‘jiva’. The language of the vital breath is mind, and the mind is the motive force for all activities.

  55. If you are able to establish yourself in the vital breath as you are, you become manifest. The vital breath, when it is conditioned by the body, you call it personality. But as a matter the vital breath is spread all over, it is manifest; it is universal. If you establish in the vital breath as ‘I am’, that in itself will get you there. Don’t be dishonest to your vital breath, worship it, and when you do so, it can lead you anywhere, to any heights – this is the quintessence of my talks. In such simplified fashion, nobody has expounded this profound teaching.