Quotes of Nisargadatta Maharaj from 'Consciousness and the Absolute'
Compiled by Pradeep Apte

  1. You must know what this ‘I am’ principle is. It appears spontaneously and with its appearance begins the riddle of conceptual life.

  2. In deep sleep, consciousness was in a dormant condition, there were no bodies, no concepts, no encumbrances. Upon the arrival of this apparently wakeful state, with the arrival of the concept ‘I am’, the love of ‘I am’ woke up. That itself is ‘Maya’, illusion.

  3. The emergence of this beingness itself constitutes time. Everything is beingness, but I, the Absolute, am not that. In meditation there was space, when suddenly two forms appeared out of no-form, ‘Prakriti’ and ‘Purusha’ and the quintessence of these forms was the knowledge ‘I am’.

  4. There are no individuals; there are only food bodies with the knowledge ‘I am’. There is no difference between and ant, human being and ‘Iswara’ they are of the same quality. The body of an ant is small; an elephant’s is large. The strength is different, because of size, but the life-force is the same. For knowledge the body is necessary.

  5. When this beingness goes, the Absolute will not know ‘I am’. Appearance and disappearance, birth and death, these are qualities of beingness; they are not your qualities.

  6. Who is talking?, who is walking?, who is sitting? These are the expressions of the chemical ‘I am’. Are you that chemical? You talk about heaven and hell, this Mahatma or that one, but how about you? Who are you? You are not this chemical ‘I am’.

  7. Not an individual but the knowledge ‘I am’ must go to its source. Out of the no-being state comes the beingness. It comes as quietly as twilight, just a feel of ‘I am’ and then suddenly the space is there. In the space, the movement starts with the air, the fire, the water, and the earth. All these five elements are you only. Out of your consciousness all this has happened. There is no individual. There is only you, the total functioning is you, the consciousness is you.

  8. Ultimately one must go beyond knowledge, but the knowledge must come, and knowledge can come by constant meditation. By meditating, the knowledge ‘I am’ gradually settles down and merges with universal knowledge, and thereby becomes totally free, like the sky or the space. It is not possible for you to acquire knowledge, you ‘are’ knowledge. You are what you are seeking.

  9. How amusing it is to see someone who thinks of himself as an individual, who thinks of himself as a doer or achiever. Whatever is happening and the experiencing of the happening, takes place in this consciousness when the ‘I am’ arises.

  10. Get to know that ‘I am’ without words, which arises in the morning. Knowing the Self, abiding in the Self-knowledge, is not a mere intellectual knowing. You must be that, and you should not move away from it. Remain firm.

  11. In the body the indwelling principle is the consciousness. Abiding in the consciousness, it became all manifestation. Now transcendence of the consciousness has also occurred. With the appearance of consciousness, the Absolute knows it is, ‘I am’. This is the experience. There are other experiences now, in this time factor, but experiences are gradually dropping off, including this primary experience ‘I am’. It is only the consciousness that is going to disappear; the Absolute is always there.

  12. Because the ‘I am’ principle is there, it is moving all over. To recognize it, you put on various uniforms in order to give it identity, but the principle is already there, and because of that principle you are engaging in various activities. Unless you wear the uniform (the body) you will not be able to conduct any activities. Once you discard this ‘I amness’ uniform, what remains is the ‘Parabrahman”. That which is eternally current is the ‘Parabrahman’.

  13. In this body is the subtle principle ‘I am’, that principle witnesses all this. You are not the words. Words are the expression of space, they are not yours. Still further you are not that ‘I am’

  14. When you began knowing that you are, you did a lot of mischief, but when the ‘I am’ is not there, there is no question of mischief.

  15. The ‘I am’ is absent only in the state of ‘samadhi’, when the self merges in the Self. Otherwise it will be there. In the state of a realized person the ‘I am’ is there, he just doesn’t give much importance to it. A ‘jnani’ is not guided by a concept.

  16. This body is like an instrument that says ‘I am’, like an announcer. Presently you think you are the body-mind, and whatever concepts you have gathered are flowing out. When you begin spirituality, you reject the body-mind with ‘I am not that’. Then you come to the ‘I am’ only, without words. Then you are everything; you are not confined to the body.

  17. The riddle of spirituality cannot be solved by the intellect. At the most, your intellect can provide you with livelihood. Whatever you try to become, that is not you. Before the words come out, before you say ‘I am’, that is you. You must be concerned with only yourself. Don’t worry about anybody else. What are you?

  18. The capacity of consciousness is something astounding. I didn’t know I was, and then suddenly I knew ‘I am’. This ‘I amness’ is the power of ‘Maya’.

  19. What is the most ingrained habit you have? It is to say ‘I am’. This is the root habit. Words and experiences are unworthy of you. This habit of experiencing will not go until you realize that all this is the domain of five elements, and the experiences in the five elements, are unreal. This ‘I amness’ itself is unreal.

  20. You must give up the identity with the body. Abidance in that knowledge ‘I am’ which does not identify with the body-mind is the spiritual light. Self-love and ‘I am’ without words are the same. The sickness may come and go, but the self-love does not go.

  21. Until you recognize and completely identify yourself with the knowledge ‘I am’, you will identify with the body. When one disidentifies with the body, one transcends not only the body but consciousness as well, since consciousness is a product of the body. The consciousness no longer says ‘I am’, ‘I am’.

  22. When you were unaware of this message of ‘I am’ how did you function? The question I put, nobody can answer. All of your great scholars, people with a lot of knowledge, have gone into quietude.

  23. That state of being is common to all, that is the message ‘I am’ without words. Change is only in the mind-flow. All the studies you are doing are in the realm of mind-flow. The sense of ‘I am’ is present because of your birth, through which you encounter many thoughts and concepts, always changing. Presently the message ‘I am’ is constant.

  24. The body is not you, the name is not you. The body is the food you have consumed; the taste of it is the knowledge ‘I am’. That is Self, the feeling ‘I am’, that is the love to be. How amazing, how incredible, it has no name, but you give many names to it. It is the Self, the love to be. That love to be is all pervading. Before you conceptualize anything, you are, even before the knowingness, you are.

  25. You are afraid because you have assumed something as ‘I am’, which actually you are not. Suppose you find a diamond ring on the road and you pocket it. Since it is not yours, a fear overcomes you. When you put on an identity that is not yours, you are afraid. When you are the pure ‘I amness’ only, there is no fear. Presently you are this ‘I am’, but this ‘I am’ is not the truth. Whatever you are prior to the appearance of ‘I am’, that is your real nature.

  26. Don’t roam about, don’t come here either. Abide in quietude, peace, stability. Here we are not engaged in any buying or selling. That knowledge ‘I am’, without concepts, is evoked or stimulated by the consciousness and peace which emanate from this place.

  27. You did not have the concept ‘I am’ in the course of the nine months in the womb. Understanding this state of affairs, the concept ‘I am’ comes spontaneously and goes spontaneously. Amazingly, when it appears, it is accepted as real. All subsequent misconceptions arise from the feeling of reality in the ‘I amness’. Try to stabilize in the primary concept ‘I am’, in order to lose that and with it all other concepts. Why am I totally free? Because I have understood the unreality of that ‘I am’.

  28. If you sit here quietly, being one with the knowledge ‘I am’, then you are not concerned with the world or what goes on in the world. It is only when the consciousness starts operating and there are various movements in the consciousness that the behavior in the world takes place. When I am not conscious of the existence of the body, experiences are not registered.

  29. The ‘mumukshu, is in kindergarten, spiritually inclined, but identifying with the body-mind. The ‘sadhaka’ is one who has dis-identified with the body-mind. A ‘siddha’ is one who has stabilized in the knowledge ‘I am’, and in the process, has transcended it. In this journey you very well know where you are.

  30. The core of this consciousness is knowingness, to know ‘I am’. It is not a personality, not an individual. It is total manifestation. Beingness is there, it fills everything. Nevertheless, this quality ‘I am’ is the result of the material, objective body. In the seed the whole tree is latent. In the droplet ‘I am’ all three worlds are squeezed in.

  31. The highest state is the state of a ‘jnani’. The first step is to be that droplet (‘I am’). In the process of knowing that droplet, you are out of it, and that is a ‘jnani’. A ‘jnani’ is not obsessed by any calamities or any problems, because he has transcended the ‘I am’ principle. He watches the play as a witness.

    The whole universe is experienced in the consciousness ‘I am’. If that is not there, what else can ever exist? This consciousness is beating a drum; everyone is carried away by the noise of the drum. Who looks for the drummer? Who is sounding and beating the drum? It is so amazing that no one casts even a glance at this speck of consciousness.

  32. The habit of considering Self as body has influenced everybody too much. The knowledge ‘I am’ is your Guru. Be in it.

  33. The letters ‘I am’ are written spontaneously with a certain ink. What is that ink which was used to write that which you are? In that ink with which the letters ‘I am’ were written, in that ink of the title of ‘Tej Sesh Bhagavan’ is confirmed by the ‘Vedas’. ‘Sesh’ means the leftover, the remains. That ‘Tej Sesh Bhagavan’ has come spontaneously and will spontaneously go. The firm conviction that I am this, the three states – waking state, deep sleep and the knowledge ‘I am’ – are the aspects of that ‘Tej Sesh Bhagavan’. You are not that.

  34. Worship the knowledge ‘I am’ as God, as your Guru. Do you see the image of yourself in the mirror first, or do you know you are prior to that? Which is first? If you are not, can you see your image in the mirror? Give up trying to evaluate the real I or the counterfeit I, but associate with the ‘Brahman’, I am the ‘Brahman’.

  35. The message ‘I am’ is there. The mind flow is also there; it is not a personality, it is the consciousness. The very idea that you are the body is ridiculous; the consciousness is experiencing its manifestation. A rare being will realize this.

  36. The Ultimate you can never be lost; whatever you have lost, you have lost only words. The Ultimate you knows or feels ‘I am’ without words. Through this ‘I am’ comes the world knowledge. You are not in isolation, you are part and parcel of the world knowledge.

  37. Presently the feeling that you are is also memory. To sustain that memory of ‘I am’, all these raw materials are necessary. You are not that ‘I am’. You are as the Absolute, prior to this ‘I am’.

  38. One cannot see rays of light, as such; they reflect only when they encounter another object. Similarly ‘I amness’ is the interruption because of these five elements and three ‘gunas’. That is why the feeling ‘I am’ is felt; but without the feeling of ‘I am’, still you are.

  39. Start with the body. From the body you get the knowledge ‘I am’. In this process you become more and more subtle. When you are in a position to witness the knowledge ‘I am’, you have reached the highest. In this way you must try to understand, and the seeds of knowledge will sprout in you.