The Bhakti of Nisargadatta Maharaj

Ahimsananda's picture

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"Sometimes I feel I am everything, I call that Love. Sometimes I feel I am nothing, I call that Wisdom. Between Love and Wisdom my life continuously flows."
- Nisargadatta Maharaj

Nisargadatta clearly saw that ultimately, he was the wisdom of "no-thing". But just as, dare I say, "wise" was his ability to see that he was the Love that is everything.

Many Neo-Advaitins concentrate only on the "Sometimes I feel I am nothing..." and neglect the feeling of being "everything". Neo-Advaitins also talk down "practice" or "technique", and scoff at "worship". While it is true, practice and technique, and often worship too, "fall off" as one 'progresses, they do not need to, and often don't. Anyone who has read Nisargadatta's small early work; "Self Knowledge and Self-Realization", will understand that Nisargadatta had a very worshipful side. He was very devotional until the end of his life. He chanted every day. When asked why he did this, he explained that he always had, and the body gets used to things, and there was no harm.

When it comes to "practice", Nisargadatta recommended abiding in the "I AM", as his Teacher before him had done. This was all that was required for Nisargadatta to realize the highest Truth. But Nisargadatta had been learning since his youth, and had been practicing Bhakti for years before he met his final Guru. Neo-Advaitins talk of "instant" awareness. Simply by hearing a word, or being in the "presence" of a well known guru, one can be transported to immediate understanding. Years of preparation; meditation, study, prayer, if you will, are not necessary in Neo-Advaita. Just follow the teacher's word's, as Nisargadatta did. Even after years of preparation, and meeting his ultimate Guru, Nisargadatta took three years to realize. Now, I realize three years is not a long time. But it was not instant, and certainly not without preparation.

Nisargadatta spoke many times about the need for earnestness. Earnestness is defined as seriousness, or zealousness. This is not unlike worship and devotion. It is certainly more than simply "abiding in the "I AM", but going beyond; to that which is unknown.

Nisargadatta is right to start with the "I AM". For we must understand this, get a good grip on it, before we venture beyond the mind. But the "I AM" is of and "in" the mind. It is the highest truth the mind can understand.

While "working" on this "I AM" thought, with earnestness, there will also be a need to "open" yourself to others. Just as we learn to be open to emotions and thoughts without resistance or judgment, we watch others without judgment, or "hanging on". We see their needs, and we fulfill them, just as we breath, without thought. This comes slowly to some, and needs to be made a "practice". We do this, not to be "do-gooders", but to compliment the "I AM" "practice". For seeing to others acknowledges their "reality" too, which gives "life" to the connection of Love. This "connection" takes us beyond mind.

Love has been relegated to the world of emotion for the most part. Sure, we make it the best emotion, but still it remains with hate, fear, desire, anger, and lust!

When Nisargadatta, or Shankara, or any of the Masters speak of Love, it is not the emotion, but interchangeable with the Absolute, God, or the Ultimate Understanding. We must understand this. When we see ourselves and the whole of the manifestation as no-thing, a void, we sell out to the mind in it's ultimate grab. The mind says; "I have taken you to the ultimate, and it is not conceivable by me, so it does not exist." But this is a lie. Beyond the mind, prior to consciousness, lies the nameless wonder. This is why the "I AM" "practice" leads only to the "edge" of the mind. This is why Bhakti is so essential to realizing the Truth. With out the "sadhana" of service, whether to a "God", or to mankind or the earth, you are not prepared to "open" like the flower to the grace of the sun in it's time.

I will leave you with this thought;

"Do not conceive of your self as a noun, but as a verb. A noun is a person, place or thing. A verb is an action, or being.

When we Love God, the Absolute, or another, and we know that we and God, or another are "mind stuff"; simply "non-existent" nouns, then we realize we ARE the verb of Love that appears to be between the two. The Love is all that exists. No Me, No God, just the Love. Love in action is everything. "Sometimes I feel I am everything, I call that Love."

Peace, Namaste

Asanga's picture


You have put it exactly as it is (Was)... thank you...

I am, yet I am not...

Asanga | Fri, 07/02/2010 - 14:47