Nisargadatta Maharaj’s Neglected Teachings

5 Under-explored Aspects of Nisargadatta's Teachings

Below are the outline-notes from A. H. Almaas’ lecture on Nisargadatta. Download the lecture handout.

Please leave questions and comments below.

A. H. Almaas discusses some critical aspects of Nisargadatts Maharaj’s teachings that he feels often fail to get the attention needed to fully understand the teaching.

Nisargadatta Maharaj is a nondual teacher. Many connect him to Advaita Vedanta. Guru of the lineage known as Navnath Sampradaya, lineage of the 9 saints. Had a guru for few years, who gave him teachings and practices. He almost went to the Himalayas to be a renunciate but was convinced by a friend to live a normal city life.  

Major Points: 

1. Nondual teaching making consciousness primary:

Don’t say you are an individual, just stay in the beingness. The whole problem is the sense of being a separate entity -once that subsides that is true bliss. [nondual realization] [P. 20] Prior to Consciousness

That consciousness is universal – there is no individuality. But when the consciousness stirs in a particular form which has also arisen spontaneously , and starts functioning in that form, that form assumes that it is an individual and what is unlimited limits itself to a particular form and the trouble starts. [nonduality] [P. 76] Prior to Consciousness

But when you know yourself as beyond space and time – in contact with them only at the point of here and now, otherwise all pervading and all containing, unapproachable, unassailable, invulnerable – you will be afraid no longer. Know yourself as you are – against fear there is no other remedy. [P 485] I Am That [good example of nondual realization]  

2. Mostly missed point: the importance of the point of light, related to method or process as the “I Am.” Since his method is to abide in the I am which leads to the realization of the Absolute 

You must come to a firm decision you must forget the thought that you are a body and be only the knowledge “I Am,” which has no form, no name. Just be. When you stabilize in that beingness it will give all the knowledge and all the secrets to you, and when the secrets are given to you, you transcend the beingness, and you, the Absolute, will know that you are also not the consciousness. Having gained all this knowledge, having understood what is what, a kind of quietude prevails, a tranquility. Beingness is transcended, but beingness is available. [p. 8] Prior to Consciousness

I simply followed his instruction, which was to focus the mind on pure being, “I Am,” and stay in it. I used to sit for hours together, with nothing but the “I am” in my mind and soon the peace and joy and deep all-embracing love became my normal state. In it all disappeared—myself, my guru, the life I lived, the world around me. Only peace remained, and unfathomable silence. [P. 239] I Am That

There is no ‘how’ here. Just keep in mind the feeling ‘I Am,’ merge in it, till your mind and feeling become one. By repeated attempts you will stumble on the right balance of attention and affection and your mind will be firmly established in the thought-feeling ‘I Am’. Whatever you think, say, or do, this sense of immutable and affectionate being remains as the ever present background of the mind. [P. 48] I Am That

That which makes you think you are human is not human. It is but a dimensionless point of consciousness, a conscious nothing; all you can say about yourself is: ‘I Am.’ You are pure being-awareness-bliss. [[P. 316[I am is the point of consciousness. Very specific I am.] I Am That

Look within and you will find that the point of light is the reflection of the immensity of light in the body, as the sense ‘I Am’. There is only light, all else appears. [392] I Am That

At the root of my being is pure awareness, a speck of intense light. [ p. 180] I Am That

If you want to expand, the entire world is the manifestation. At the same time it is very tiny – the seed beingness – like an atom, a pinprick of “I Am.”…… that pinprick or touch of “I Amness” is the quintessence of all essence. [p. 27] Prior to Consciousness

The witness is merely a point in awareness. It has no name and form. It is like the reflection of the sun in a drop of dew. The drop of dew has name and form, but the little point of light is caused by the sun. The clearness and smoothness of the drop is a necessary condition but not sufficient by itself. Similarly clarity and silence of the mind are necessary for the reflection of realty to appear in the mind, but by themselves they are not sufficient. There must be reality beyond it. Because reality is timelessly present, the stress is on the necessary conditions. [P. 399] I Am That

3. Another missed point: It is not the usual teaching of nonduality: awareness of the absolute is a solid mass, a rock-like immensity. Rarely mentioned by nondual teachers. 

There are the two – the person and the witness, the observer. When you see them as one, and go beyond, you are in the supreme state It is not perceivable, because it is what makes perception possible. It is beyond being and not being. It is neither the mirror nor the image in the mirror. It is what is –the timeless reality, unbelievably hard and solid. [ P 36] I Am That

By itself the light can only be compared to a solid, dense, rocklike homogeneous and changeless mass of pure awareness, free from the mental patterns of name and shape. [P. 34] I Am That

The state is entirely one and indivisible, a single solid block of reality. The only way of knowing it is to be it. ……….It is what is – the timeless reality, unbelievably hard and solid. [P. 36] I Am That 

There is something changeless, motionless, immovable, rocklike, unassailable; a solid mass of pure being-consciousness-bliss. I am never out of it. Nothing can take me out of it, no torture, no calamity. [P. 191] I Am That 

4. Nisargadatta emphasizes that Absolute as awareness is not aware of itself, or awareness not aware of itself. Absolute looking at its mysterious emptiness. 

Awareness is primordial, it is the original state, beginningless, endless, uncaused, unsupported, without parts, without change. Consciousness is on contact, a reflection against a surface, a state of duality. There can be no consciousness without awareness, but there can be awareness without consciousness, as in deep sleep. Awareness is absolute, consciousness is relative to its content; consciousness is always of something. Consciousness is partial and changeful, awareness is total, changeless, calm and silent. And it is the common matrix of every experience. [P. 29] I am That

As Absolute, I am timeless, infinite, and I am awareness, without being aware of awareness. As infinity I express myself as space, as timeless I express myself as time. Unless there is space and duration I cannot be conscious of myself. When space and time are present there is consciousness, in that the total manifestation takes place and various phenomena come into being. I, by Myself, Awareness, descend into this consciousness, and in this consciousness I express Myself in various ways, in innumerable forms. This is the crux, the framework of manifestation; there is no question of individuality. [nonduality and difference between awareness and consciousness.] [P. 72] Prior to Consciousness 

5. Another missed point:  Absolute sometimes as beyond knowing and perception.

As I talk to you, I am in the state of detached but affectionate awareness (turiya). When this awareness turns upon itself, you may call it the Supreme state (turiyatita). But the fundamental reality is beyond awareness, beyond the three states of becoming, being and not-being. [P. 295] I Am That

Once you have understood that you are nothing perceivable or conceivable, that whatever appears is in the field of consciousness cannot be your self, you will apply yourself to the eradication of. All self-identification, as the only way that can take you to a deeper realization of your self. [ P. 518] I Am That

6. Effectiveness of his teaching in students attaining to his realization, and possible reasons for it. Maybe some had attained a similar realization after the I am That book appeared, but have not heard or known anybody with the same stature or depth.  

God is the totality of consciousness, but awareness is beyond all – being as well as no-being. [ P. 263] I Am That

The state of a jnana, the highest state, has transcended the beingness, but the beingness is still there, so together with the beingness is the Absolute – the deep blue, benign state, without eyes. Knowledge takes rest in that deep blue, quiet, peaceful, benign shade. When that shade is shifted aside, then he sees the various manifestations in the form of universes and worlds. But when the shade is there, it is the deep, dark blue state, fully relaxed. [P. 11] Prior to Consciousness

There are two witnessing stages; beingness witnesses all this manifestation. Witnessing of this beingness, consciousness, happens to that eternal principle, Absolute. [P. 4] Prior to Consciousness 

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57 thoughts on “Nisargadatta Maharaj’s Neglected Teachings”

  1. Hi Hameed,

    In “Beyond Freedom: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj”, Nisargadatta says (p 25):

    “When I was young I used to ponder about many subjects. Before I met my Guru I used to think there was no such thing as spirituality. I took a vow that I would never get initiated or surrender to another person. One day a friend told me that a great sage was visiting the area and asked me to come along with him to meet the sage. I did not want to go but my friend encouraged me, so I went with him. My friend bought a garland and some sweets for eh sage and suggested that I put on a nice suit for the visit. When I met the Guru, he asked me to close my eyes and he initiated me. After some time, the Guru asked me to open my eyes; it was as if I had exploded. From that moment on I was a different person.”

    From this passage, it would seem that Nisargadatta had a very significant awakening prior to him engaging the “I Am'” practice that he so often encourages.

    My questions to you are:

    1) Do you think the “I Am” practice he advises is effective or useful only after already reaching a certain state? Is some kind of prior transmission from the Guru necessary for this practice to produce results?

    2) Independent of the above, in your view what specific changes does the “I Am” practice induce in the person or consciousness that practices it if done correctly, but prior to the ultimate effects that he speaks of? In other words, in the absence of an inner explosion or the knowledge he says is revealed by it, are there any specific intermediate effects that indicate that a ripening is happening?

    3) Lastly, do you consider “the point in awareness” that Nisargadatta speaks of to be related to The Point in your teachings? If so, how?

    Thank you.

    1. Sorry….there is a typo in the above. The text: “My friend bought a garland and some sweets for eh sage…” should be “My friend bought a garland and some sweets for *the* sage”.

    2. Hello Andrew,
      I am glad you are asking clarifying questions. Good ones.
      1. the I AM practice does not require the transmission of presence, like Nisargadatta received from his guru. Yet, the transmission can be very helpful, for it gives us an initial experience and appreciation of what I AM is and feels like. I do recommend that one receives a transmission of I AM or presence from a teacher who embodies it. This is what I do in my work. But the practice of presence by itself is its own practice. If we can practice it, and this means we have access to the I AM, then it can develop to reveal the secrets of reality. If you remember, Nisagadatta had to meditate a lot before he was able to find the I AM, even after the transmission.
      2. To experience I AM is the important thing, for recognizing it is essential for the practice. It is a kind of awakening. Then the practice is to keep remembering the I AM, to keep being present as presence. As Nisargadatta said: The beingness has all the secrets of reality. So practicing the I AM it unfolds deeper dimensions of itself, until it reveals the Absolute, the source and inner nature of beingness.
      3. The point of light, consciousness or awareness that Nisargadatta talked frequently about is what I call the Point of Existence, for existence is beingess. You might know I wrote a whole book about it, with the same title.

      1. Hameed,

        I must respectfully disagree with you on all points.
        From my point of view, I do not know of any teacher more influential than Nisargadatta Maharaj. I also believe that many of his devotees understood all of these teachings you say are neglected. I present you here with some of his devotees and their understanding of these principles.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugK51abLMtI

        Thank you for your consideration,
        Bobbi Lurie

        1. Dear Bobbi,
          I don’t think you understand what I am saying. It is not me who is saying anything about the effectiveness of Nisargadatta teaching. It is N himself who had mentioned it to Frydman who pressed him on this point. And later N told Dunn she understood. He did not say this to many, and most of the people in this movie are people who are devoted to N, and learnt something. But I doubt that N will consider them awakened the way he meant it.

          I love Nisargadatta and think he is a great master. I wish more had gotten his type of realization, the immensity and depth, the absolute certainty. You obviously love him and want him to be more effective. When we love a teacher we want to believe they are the best and our admiration might not let us be objective and realistic about the whole thing.

          It is fine with me that you disagree. N is gone now, so in some sense this is really theoretical. I brought it up because others, like Frydman, brought it up. And I think we have more understanding of spirituality when we are more objective, not simply loving the teacher or teaching. This is about all teachers and teaching.

          In these lectures, I am attempting to bring in more objectivity and more understanding, that then can benefit many.

  2. I have been to that point of light (some details below). It was undoubtedly of deep importance, but I don’t know why, I don’t know how to build from it, and I don’t know how to get back to it. Any guidance?

    The experience: I was sitting at my table after eating lunch, when everything suddenly fell away– literally. I was as if everything literally fell downward and disappeared. What remained was the tiniest possible point of light and a sense of the infinite, simultaneously. It completely took me over and shook me. It was one of the most powerful spiritual experiences I have ever had, though it lasted only a second or two. The best word I can find to describe it is “primordial,” and my first thought, immediately afterward, was that I had seen the origin of the universe. Yes, that sounds very grand, but it felt utterly true.

    What next?

    1. Hello Denise,
      You are fortunate for such experience to happen for you. It is not easy to just get back to such experience. You know what the point of light is, but I don’t know whether you recognized it is a sense of presence, I AM.. Because of this I recommend you focus on experiencing I AM, You want to see what you experience as you, and if it is not a sense of presence, then you practice being present, and explore the I until you experience it as I AM.. It can help to have a teacher who knows and teaches about I AM.. Nisargadatta has a guru who was instrumental in his liberation.

  3. Hameed,
    Your teaching session on Nisargadatta on Saturday, March 13, was like a personal introduction in-the-room to him. The generous words and field pierced a veil for me.

    l believe that Nisargadatta held truth above social grace. Unusual, and I like his directness, his piercing the relational veil even when his response feels or is harsh or insensitive. It is hard to sit with when I feel it as directed at me (e.g., last two lines of chapter 52, page 246, “Q: Then why was I unhappy all my life? M: Because you did not go down to the very roots of your being. It is your complete ignorance of yourself,(sic) that covered up your love and happiness and made you seek for what you had never lost…”.

    The question I want to ask you, Hameed: Can you offer some guidance to a student on how to access Frydman’s transliteration of Nisargadatta’s words? How might I hold, approach, his written language and affective style of teaching in a useful way?

    1. Hello Vernell,
      Frydman published his translation as the book. I AM That. So if you have not read that it is a must for understanding Nisargadatta.

      I don’t know what you mean by transliteration. If you mean his own words before publication, or in the original Marathi language, then I don’t know.

      You can learn a lot from I AM That. just study it and give it time, meditate on what Nisargadatta says.

  4. Hello Hameed. Thank you for a great talk on Zoom.

    I have a question about something from I Am That. At one place in the book, Nisargadatta says, “The sattva is pure and strong always. It is like the sun. It may seem obscured by clouds and
    dust, but only from the point of view of the perceiver. Deal with the causes of obscuration, not with
    the sun.” The way I interpreted this is that we should not forget to work on our ignorance, our fears, our cravings and our aversions, since these are some of the things that prevent us from seeing the truth clearly.

    I feel this has a lot of similarities with the Diamond Approach where we look at what things in our psychology and perhaps childhood that keeps us from seeing the truth and relaxing into being. I was wondering if you could say something about how you see his quote about focusing on the clouds instead of the sun and also what your favorite tip is on making our clouds a bit less opaque.

    Thank you from Sweden.

    1. Hi David,
      Good quote. I agree with Nisargadatta completely here. I think he spent a lot of time contemplating and that means to me he was exploring and seeing through the clouds. I don’t know whether he understood in terms of childhood history of conditioning. But there are other ways, as we will learn when we study Krishnamurti.

      His words are similar to what we teach in the Diamond Approach, but he did not have access to modern psychology where you can explore your conditioning psychodynamically. I don’t know how he did it. He obviously understood the need to work through conditioning, but he did not do this with his students. I think this is one reason his teaching had some limitations in the students grasping experientially what he was talking about.

  5. Hi Hameed,

    in your book “Inner Journey Home” (a masterwork) you described the realization of the absolute through the belly center as: “a solid and immense presence, more substantial than any physical substance.” (page: 395)
    How does your description relate to Nisargadatta’s description of the absolute as a “rock-solid presence”. `

    Thank you for your teaching and your generosity and mastery of sharing and transmitting it,
    Günter

    1. Hello Gunter,
      It is the same teaching, the same understanding. The fact that I have the experience of the absolute as a solid immensity makes it possible for me to understand Nisargadatta when he teaches about the rocklike solidity of the absolute. This is one of the ways I have known the realization of the Absolute. I think many other teachers don’t mention this fact because their experience of the absolute does not have this sense of rocklike solidity. There are other ways, as deep expansive silence, for instance.

  6. Hi Hameed,

    Thank you for your lecture. I very much appreciated the clarity and detail with which you pointed to the contribution Nisargadatta’s teaching made to more commonly known teachings on non-duality. My question is to the 4th and 5th point you raised, and ultimately a human one.

    When I was 19 grace brought me to a Buddhist temple in northern Thailand, and there I spent a few months in silent meditation. In line with the tradition, nothing was explained if not experienced.
    Back then I merely described this peculiar experience of the absence of consciousness as „going home”. When reading your books two years later I recognised my experience in your description of the Absolute. I now feel it as this ground out of which everything arises and will dissolve into, and often as the backdrop of my experience. I feel its magnetism which animates the longing in my heart.

    I can understand how consciousness becoming aware of itself is this magnificent celebration of life in its infinite expressions, beauty and splendour. I can follow how the point brings this incredible freedom and grounding of knowing that „at the root of my being is pure awareness”.

    But the impact of the specific experience of primordial awareness has for me not always been easy to reconcile with living life. It sometimes feels a bit (and I do mean this in a joyous way) as if I bring my dearest friend death along to the party. But life is for the living, and my friend’s not great at small talk.

    I wondered if you could speak to the teaching and/or relevance of this ground, beyond knowing and perception, unaware of itself, to the human experience. From what I glean in Nisargadatta’s work, it feels as if rather than integration, there is the all-compassing experience of this state, or the awareness of the entry-point into it.

    With deep gratitude and appreciation for your teachings,

    Lysan

    1. Hello Lysan,
      It seems realization occurred in your case. You know the ground of consciousness in experience, and it seems it accompanies you to life situations.

      Of course, the ground is not interested in social talk. In fact it is not interested in the content of life at all. This is what transcendence means. But you live, and you want to find out what lives your life.
      there are several ways this can happen. One is that the absolute simply witnesses life as it happens. I this case, you are not in the world, just witnessing it. But you are in the world. there are two possibilities here and different possible developments.

      One can still be the unclassified soul or individual consciousness navigating life. But this brings with it the baggage of history and conditioning, and its patterns. Another way is the clarified individual consciousness, which Nisargadatta referred to frequently as simply consciousness. This means you experience yourself as a being, but free from the conditioning of time. You can feel the absolute as your nature, and even not separate from it, but live a human life.

      There are many degrees of development of this consciousness. From being an unclarified soul, to a clarified soul, to a developed soul that expresses the absolute and it various perfections, to further developments of a bering of truth.

      You can also be the absolute ground and the individual human at the same time. All these possibilities require working out our conditioning and seeing through subtle concepts of what it means to live. Nisargadatta spoke mostly as being the absolute, the awareness not aware of awareness. So he spoke from transcendence. But he lived an ordinary human life. I am not aware of him talking of who lives and what it is like to live an ordinary human life. In some of his rare references, he is obviously an individual being, but how does he experience that. I don’t know

    2. Lysan,

      >It sometimes feels a bit (and I do mean this in a joyous way) as if I bring my dearest friend death along to the party.

      I love what you wrote (all of it).

      I once said to a friend, “Life became so much easier when I realised I am already dead”. I mean that in a joyous way as well, a kind of variation on the “never born, never died” theme. In practical terms, this means there is nothing to fear, removing so many of the distractions from seeing clearly.

  7. Fransjan de Waard

    Hallo all, I’m actually sorry I did not get down to sharing this earlier, like shortly after the session last week. Yet my work weeks are simply too full and this is weekend… So I did write to Hameed right after the session bec. at first I ran into a firewall here, and he then suggested I’d post it after all, so here we are.

    What I shared was my sense of having encountered that point of light many years ago, and I still have a clear memory of where I was, making my bed – which could have been anything – when I became aware of ‘something’ in my chest area, which was very much ‘there’, while it was also immediately clear that this something was actually very emphatically: ‘nothing’. It appeared as this tiniest point of light, which has always reminded me of a tiny blob in my eyesight that used to recur as a micro-aura preceding migraine episodes in the past; I guess that comparison points at the living-light character of it. Interesting to read the term ‘primordial’ for this in an earlier description by Denise, as well as in Nisirgadatta’s own writing, because that was definitely my qualification of it too. Amazing how all this can be observed in this tiniest spot (which isn’t even something) in the maybe 7 seconds that it lasted – and also: that the sense of it stuck from there on. Bec. sofar I have never shared this, while it has always been the most fascinating experience – the source of existence, or even prior to that, all contained in a point with no dimensions which was so clearly nothing. Not consisting of anything, and not relating, or subject to time. A wonderful riddle, a delightful, primordial joke. It was of course lacking any other content, as in something that one might know or deduce from it, and it had nothing to compare it to. Yet it ‘pinched’ me as the most real thing ever, which I can well imagine will be the one thing I ‘know’ – while solidly bracketing the ‘I’ – once I’ll be nearing my last breath.
    Re. the earlier description, there was nothing to do around it, yet I did feel ‘confirmed’, and surely fortunate and thankful for the universe hinting in this way. I must have read I am That at the time, and when it occurred, I understood that the experience was reflecting the kind of depth/primordialness that the book, and other such sources embodied. I never took it as a starting point for particular work though, but of course now I am interested to explore that and will take your hints, Hameed, as a guide. Thanks.

    1. Hi Fransjan,
      I think Nisargadatta understood the point of light as the I AM. And saw it as the stepping stone to the realization of the absolute, the awareness not aware of itself as awareness.

      I think he gives good and fresh perspective on the importance of the point of light in his awakening. I brought it up because most people who quote or like Nisargadatta don’t seem to wonder why he is talking about the point of light.

  8. Dear Hameed,
    thanks for the very convincing and forceful talk on Nisargadatta Maharaj. The impact and your way of transferring his teaching were quite different from 2 years ago.
    After the talk of two years ago I was really inspired by the rock-like absolute you talked about. I studied more on Nisargadatta. It came back many times in my inquiries, as the indestructible ground or unground of me and all of reality. This time it was not only Nisargadatta but yourself that caused an even stronger ‘blow’ into the ground of my soul. It was absolutely wonderful, relaxing, uplifting. Great impact by your way of teaching. It deepened my earlier experiences of the Nothing.

    One thing I was amazed of. Why didn’t you refer to NM’s lack of meeting the instinctual level of his being. I am less inspired by N because he seemed to step over this dimension. As you told me some years ago in de ESR during a precious dialogue I had with you: Nisargadatta doesn’t know the pearl. He was quite often angry, very angry. As you said, as I read. This way, NM seems to be only partially realized, as so many known teachers. And, is realisation not only realisation when it is integral?
    So I wonder: why could you be so inspired by NM as he left this important level aside?

    And again: very very grateful for this teaching you gave. It is still inside me.

    ton

    1. ton,

      >He was quite often angry, very angry.

      No, he was not angry, he was fierce, sometimes very fierce. Big difference and one that was clear to see when one met him.

      >So I wonder: why could you be so inspired by NM as he left this important level aside?

      Maharaj taught in a way that was of sublime simplicity. This was extremely inspiring and effective for many. The statement “I Am That” points beyond all levels, time & space.

  9. Hi Ton,
    I did not try to discuss Nisargadatta’s character or life. Partly I don’t have biographical data that is good to rely on. There are anecdotes but no real biography. But partly because there was no time to address his character and what he worked through or not.

    He did talk about the need to work through one’s conditioning. It is not clear how he thought that can happen.

  10. Magdalene Kuruk

    I’ve been practicing accepting my inner experience, and this has led to a lot falling away. Yet they always return. I had an idea that I would surrender more and more, having less and less of myself- but that’s not happening. The only guidance I’ve received is to stay present- no matter what, like it doesn’t make sense to but just continue. I keep thinking there must be something I’m missing because since having that insight there has been still *a lot* of painful experiences I usually don’t encounter normally. It feels like my unfoldment has gotten bogged down. It makes sense to let go of teachings/teachers for a while. I’ve had inner images- I had a sort of vision that reminded me of the picture on the front page of the web site, the greenish/gold circles. Mine were pink. I felt I was supposed to keep moving upward, but I could not because I was tied down, like anchored by two symbols- Im pretty sure one was a cross, the other might have been a triangle. Please some guidance <3

    1. Hello Magdalene,
      I am discussing Nisargadatta and his teaching. He taught to stay in the I AM, and the secrets will be revealed. And then he emphasized the point of light as the I AM.

      Staying present is not necessarily being the I AM. Being the I AM you experience yourself as palpable presence, or pure consciousness. The practicing being present is good, but it will activate whatever in the way of the I AM arising. So your experience is in the right direction.

      It is OK to have a teacher, if you trust them and they have a good effective teaching. Not to follow but to receive real support and guidance.

  11. Hi Hameed,
    In The Point of Existence you also cite Meister Eckhart, who wrote of a point or divine spark. Do you think he experienced the same thing as Nisargadatta’s point of light?

    1. Hi Darren,
      It is the same point of light, that Meister Eckhart, Nisargadatta and many others wrote about.

      It is one way our true nature, or our true being, manifests.

  12. Hi Hameed, greetings from Seville, Spain.
    First of all, heartfelt thanks for the exquisite articulation of your teachings about the Point of Light and the Personal Essence. Such a contribution to world spirituality!

    What really strikes me as mind-bogglingly neglected are the very last teachings of Maharaj about prana (“Praneshwar”, he says) given by him the last year of his incarnated life. If I understand it well, these words sound no different from the teachings of a Shakta or Tantric. I can see in my imagination Wilhem Reich and Dr. Curcuruto smiling : ) .
    I’m wondering if Maharaj gave these Tantric teachings on worshipping Praneshwari as an easier way, given the difficulty of his more Vedantic-only articulation in the past.

    “Purusha is the passive witness… the seer, and Prakriti is the power of prana… which is doing everything through the body. Mind, intellect and intuition are all names of the energy of prana. There is no separation between jnana, consciousness, and prana, life force. They are two sides of the same coin. Hence, if prana is pleased, consciousness is pleased. Meditate on the life force, prana, then meditation on consciousness, jnana, will take place indirectly.”
    . . .
    Consciousness is the static witnessing principle, and life force is the dynamic working principle. Consider the life force as God itself, then the life principle will unfold itself and give you the necessary spiritual knowledge.

    When the life force comes into contact with the consciousness, the combination of both assumes the status of the highest God. Pray to this life force.

    Shiva is the speck of consciousness and the life force is the Shakti.

    The vital force, prana, in the body is consciousness… the Atman. Consciousness and prana together are Atman. It can also be called antahkarana.

    Coming to the knowledge that I am Brahman, progress is much faster if one makes friendship with the life force, saying “I am the life force itself”. (Nisargadatta Maharaj, unidentified source.)
    ***
    “Make friends with prana, and the prana will help you to know God. The mind is only a wtiness; your real friend is the prana, because it does everythiing. Waking, sleeping, digesting food, all these activities are done by the vital force. Atman is only a witness; so give importance to this vital force and worship it, and you will be able to know God. In order to do any meditation, you should make friendship with the vital force; it s readily available without any effort.
    Because of the prana, there is mind. And because of the mind, there are the Vedas. So ultimately, the source of this whole scripture is the vital force. That is why I give full homage to the vital force. Without it, what would be your value? Your body would collapse. Only when the vital force is present do you know the world, the world has value, and God has value. You can know about God and world only when the vital force is there. Who knows the greatness of this prana? That itself is God, Praneshwar.”
    . . .
    “The vital breath, when it is conditioned by the body, you call it a personality. But, as a matter of fact, the vital breath is spread all over, it is manifest, it is universal.
    If you are stabilized in the vital breath as ‘I am’, that in itself will get you there.”
    . . .
    “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 trascends that, and the ultimate state is achieved.”
    . . .
    “Where there is 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 knowedge’I am’; they always go hand in hand. Tight now, exploit it to the utmost. All worldly activities are going on because of the knowledge ‘I am’ together with that motive force which is the life force, the vital breath. And that is not someting apart from you; you are that only. Investigate and study this exclusively.
    Praneshwar means ‘the god of the vital breath.’ Now this breath or life force and the knowledge, that quality of beingness – both are together are ‘myself’. Fortunately, you have both these aspects together with you. you are that only. Therefore, abide in that, worship tat onlly.
    . . .
    EPILOG
    Maharaj: The sum and substance of my teaching is this: Don’t be dishonest to your vital breath; worship that only, abide in that only, accept it as yourself. And when you worship in this maner, it can lead you anywhere, to any heights – this is the quintessence of my talks.
    Presently, you are to be identified with the vital breath.Then you will realize, like the sweetness in sugar cane, that this touch of “I-am-ness”, which is dwelling in the vital breath, will open up. So understand these words, this advice. Assimilate it, and so long as the vital breath is flowing through you, abide in that. If the vital breath is there, you are there and so is Ishwara.
    In such simplified fashion, nobody has expounded this profound knowledge
    15 July 1980.”

    Extracts from Nisargadatta Maharaj, The Ultimate Medicine

    1. Hello Jose,
      I don’t know if these teachings about the life force are neglected. Maybe they are, but it seems they are simple enough for people to understand.

      It seems that here N is using the Kashmiri Shaivism basic principle that Shiva is always one with Shakti, the life force.

      Shakti is referred to in many yogic teachings as prone. But Shaktie in Kashmiri Shaivism is not just energy but also creative force behind all that appears. It is the creative force, that can appear as life force, as the prone of kundalini and so forth.

      N was alway devotional, and it is something that many do not understand. He practiced that but did not teach it for most of his life, for he considered himself a jnani, a lower, not a bhakti. But it seems he began to do it towards the end of his life, as you mention.

      Good thing to bring to our awareness,

      1. Thank you so much for your words, Hameed!
        No separation of paths, one diamond, many facets, as Ma Kali showed through Sri Ramakrishna…
        As you beautifully say:
        for the Love
        of Truth.

        A big hug from the town where the universalist Ibn Arabi once lived.
        Jose Luis

  13. Dear Hameed,

    thank you so much for this lecture, I really enjoyed it.

    I recognise the parallels between Nasargadatta’s teachings and those of the Diamond Approach, in particular the Point. I just wonder what insights did Nasargadetta offer in relation to the development of the Pearl and did he conceptualise it at all. Was the notion of the Pearl available to him at the time and, if so, did he reflect on it at all? Did he ever describe an experience of the Pearl – or variations (red pearl, black pearl, etc.)

    Thank you
    Annie (Australia)

    1. Hi Annie,
      I am not aware of any teachings by N about the pearl, which is the personal essence. It is another form of I AM, but I don’t think he knew of it. He emphasized the impersonal, and usually teachings that emphasize the impersonal sense of being tend not to know or value the personal expression of being.

  14. I believe that when Friedman died someone asked NM if he had obtained enlightenment
    NM replied ”With those vasanas (inherited tendancies) how could he have seen into Reality”!!!
    So that leaves no-one as having learnt from him in the fullness of his awakening!
    Point here is that a teacher needs to be effective and this may mean looking into the student’s conflicts on other levels
    At least in the Diamond Approach you take this need for gradual development into consideration.
    Best Wishes David

    1. David,

      >So that leaves no-one as having learnt from him in the fullness of his awakening!

      How could you possibly know this to be true ?

      The legacy of Nisargadatta’s teaching is immense – I doubt Hameed would be discussing it here if it was not.

      1. Hi David,
        Of course, I do not know for sure that nobody learnt from N what he himself experienced. I am sure many learnt many things. The question is: did anyone learn to be the absolute in its rock-like solidity, and that it is also beyond awareness and the source of awareness?

        It is possible that some did but are not known, or known by me.

        What I said is that I have never met or heard somebody who appears to have learnt about the absolute the way N taught it.

  15. I was puzzled by this exchange in I AM THAT on page 450, chapter 91 “pleasure and happiness’.
    Referencing a young man with an incurable heart disease, Nisargadatta is asked “is it not obligatory to live out one’s natural span of life?” He replies: ” Natural-spontaneously-easy-yes. But disease and suffering are not natural. There is noble virtue in unshakeable endurance of whatever comes, but there is also dignity in the refusal of meaningless torture and humiliation”.

    What could he possibly be referencing in regards to ‘disease and suffering are not natural?’

    1. Good question, Margie,
      I imagine he meant it is not part of the I AM or being the absolute. But you will have to ask him to know what he exactly meant.

  16. Hameed,

    Thank-you for presenting your view, although I feel it is perhaps a pity that you were unable to make the journey to meet Maharaj in person all those years ago. You might not have felt quite so much that these aspects were under-explored, at the time at least.

    About 45 minutes into your talk, you speculate as to whether there was anyone who carried forward the lineage. My understanding is that in a formal way, perhaps not; but there certainly used to be a small number of his Indian devotees teaching (I am not including Ramesh Balsekar, charming fellow though he was : he taught differently). Before you ask for names, I have been living away from the spiritual scene for over 20 years, having been freed from what I’d call “the tyranny of seeking” a long time ago.

    After this moment on the video, you talk further about his teaching and say, “Obviously it didn’t take hold… “, immediately qualifying your statement with a shrug and “As far as we know…” then proceed to say a few moments later that the problem with the traditional, Indian satsang form of teaching is “… that it doesn’t really address the students…he didn’t try to talk to students, he didn’t try to help them see what are there obstructions personally…”. You do state clearly that this is your interpretation and speculation, but my concern is that most who view this video will be students of Ridhwan / the Diamond Approach of which you are the leader, so they will not hear it as possibly inaccurate speculation, but as unbridled truth. It is not true : Maharaj addressed every questioner with a fiery, laser-like intensity unlike any other I have ever experienced. Every Western questioner (not all Indians’ questions were translated) was urged to discover who was asking the question in a way that pierced to the core of one’s being. To suggest that the book was more effective than engaging with him face to face is simply inaccurate.

    I could go on, but I just felt a gentle & respectful challenge was appropriate this Easter weekend. Although I have had the privilege of meeting many of the great teachers of the last 50 years, I have not met you, yet those I know that study your teaching seem to love both the teachings and yourgoodself.

    I read your first book many years ago &, on the recommendation of a dear, late friend who met with you several times in the 90s (Lydia D, who also spent some time with Maharaj in the late 70s, around the same time as me), I very much enjoyed a talk you gave in Amsterdam about 15 years ago.

    I’m curious as to what you have to say next about Krishnamurti, as I heard him speak at Brockwood Park on a number of occasions, also in the 70s. Very different from Maharaj, for sure 😉

    1. I am glad, JL, that you are participating.

      I wanted to hear from somebody who actually met N. I had met many, and I hear the same thing as you say. He confronted his students strongly, with piercing questions.

      But did the questions pierce enough for the student to recognize in themselves what N was teaching?

      What I meant by saying that N did not address his students is that he did not ask them what they were experiencing, and then guiding them about what is in their experience that was in the way. This will be a personal guidance. The laser like quality of questioning that frequently happens in Satsangs works sometimes. But I don’t see it as that effective.

      Was it effective with you? I would like to know, and in what way. Did you learn to experience the I AM or the absolute source of awareness, by such questioning? And if that happened, did not last.

      If that happened, then I stand corrected. And it will be a useful information for all who are reading this blog.

      1. Please forgive me, Hameed, I did not see your questions until now.

        >But did the questions pierce enough for the student to recognize in themselves what N was teaching?

        In some cases, certainly… & I’d guess that there must be many more than the few I know.

        >Was it effective with you? I would like to know, and in what way. Did you learn to experience the I AM or the absolute source of awareness, by such questioning? And if that happened, did not last.

        The short answer is Yes; the detailed answer is…. far too long, so a very concise version follows : it was easy for me to follow Maharaj’s simple instructions & identify and focus on the “I Am” – which I see as a gateway, not the Absolute itself (over the years I have seen many refer to the “I Am” as pure consciousness / Absolute; to me this reflects misunderstanding). The two great hurdles that were very difficult for me personally were, firstly, fearlessly letting go into the Beyond during experiences of utter dissolution &, secondly, understanding why I fell back to earth, so so speak, thereafter (whether the experiences lasted hours, days or, eventually, months). I last sat with Maharaj in December ’77; I did not reach a state of fearlessness until ’93; I discovered the final key in August ’95. Life was an extremely active & mostly wonderful adventure in between.

        I understand that for some my short account will raise more questions than it answers, although a little more is answered below.

        A couple more things, please : in your talk, dear Hameed, you wonder about lineage and if anyone reached the same depth of understanding as Maharaj : I see others have now responded with regard to lineage (I remember Ramakant) and would simply comment that it seems rare that a student equals or exceeds the teacher, but many students may attain nonetheless. Does it really matter & might this be the same within Ridhwan ?

        You also mention Maharaj’s description of the rock-like mass of awareness and how it matches your own experience, but add that for others it might appear as, for example, a vast silence. For me it is simply Voidness; however, it is very easy for me to switch my perspective and see exactly what you appear to be talking about, a kind of dimensionless, adamantine immensity. Words are so limited here, as that which we point towards is beyond description. Since that day in ’95, everything has just taken care of itself, yet life remains full of sometimes seemingly insuperable challenges, yet the experience just deepens and deepens, all by itself. The individual known as JL continues to choicelessly play his role in the movie, understanding that all life exists in duality. I feel like the Fool on the Hill, with my eyes spinning round, yet I see the entire Universe being born and subsiding in a single moment… utterly glorious, yet singularly unremarkable… just “so”, as the observer and observed celebrate their recognition of each other as One… & so much more.

        I feel such gratitude to several wonderful teachers along the way, but for me Maharaj was “The One Ring to rule them all”; that simple, wiry little fellow, sitting on an old tiger skin on a kind of mezzanine platform in a tenement building in the backstreets of Bombay.

        Om Jai Maharaj.

        1. I am glad to know that N got to you, Jai,

          Good to hear a depth of experience and realization I find missing in many who profess to have learnt from Nisargadatta and who have become teachers.

          I was not trying to give the totality or the main points of N teaching. I wanted to bring to light things he repeated which I don’t see others mentioning. Like the point of light and the rocklike immensity of the absolute.

          In terms of. living happening always in duality, even when one is in non duality: There is a development where living happens neither in duality nor non duality. In such development of realization dual and nondual are seen as. a conceptual dichotomy and reality and living can be without them.

          I appreciate you sharing your experience in here, for I am sure. many will benefit from your sharing.

          1. >There is a development where living happens neither in duality nor non duality. In such development of realization dual and nondual are seen as. a conceptual dichotomy and reality and living can be without them.

            I am enjoying the “stretch” which your words present to my clearly very limited comprehension : I am going to let it simmer awhile, as you seem to be pointing beyond the exquisite Heart Sutra’s “Form in Emptiness & Emptiness in Form”.

            In the meantime, I have discovered and am very much enjoying your 4-part series “Buddhism and the Soul” and indeed other commentaries you have made about the soul, an area of remarkably limited understanding for many of us who have walked the advaita &/or Buddhist paths.

            I have no comments about your present lectures on Krishnamurti : I admired K very much, but his teaching was not for me personally one of Liberation. I look forward to your talks about Advaita and Dzogchen later in the year.

            Thank-you so very much, dear Hameed, for this opportunity to interact with you.

  17. sharing my gratitude for these precious teachings. and every one here.i love reading and contemplating everyones questions .my questions are all through every one here.I feel like a sponge..And big thank you Hameed .

  18. Thank you Hameed, for sharing your insights into Nisargadatta Maharaj’s teachings. You wondered about the effectiveness of his teachings, as you said you didn’t know of any students of his who had the same stature or depth. Besides Maurice Frydman, Maharaj expressed the highest regard for his American student, Jean Dunn, who compiled three books of dialogues that Maharaj had with visitors near the end of his life, Prior to Consciousness (which you quote from), Seeds of Consciousness, and Consciousness and the Absolute.

    Jean Dunn is the only person, as far as I know, who Nisargadatta explicitly told to function as a teacher in his lineage (the Inchigiri Navnath Sampradaya) as a successor. Jean Dunn was a very quiet and ordinary person, who avoided publicity, and taught a small group of students in her humble trailer-park home. She never advertised, didn’t charge for her teachings, and people found her through word-of-mouth. Having been with her in person, I can attest to the depth of her being, and power of liberation that flowed through her, as well as the subtlety and thoroughness of her communication, which one doesn’t find in the vast majority of the modern nondual teachers around, who seem stilted in comparison, as if their realization didn’t go down into their whole being. People might be interested in reading Jean Dunn’s journals that she kept describing her time with Nisargadatta. They are out of print, but can be found here: https://pgoodnight.files.wordpress.com/2020/09/jeans-journals-being-with-sri-nisargadatta-maharaj-.pdf

    On the last day that Dunn visited Nisargadatta, she wrote the following. :

    “At 10.00 A.M. meeting, Maharaj said (about me) “She has developed such a great faith that any article in association with Maharaj is accepted by her with great devotion. Because of her great love of Guru, the Gods will rush to do pranams to her.”
    He said to me, “There have been so many also-ran’s – why are you the winning horse in this spirituality? The strength of your faith.”
    I was so stunned that my mind simply quit working!
    For the rest of that day and for days afterward this machine was working in a daze! When Mullarpattan translated what Maharaj had said about me, the stunned look must have been on my face, because Mullarpattan said, “He said it like that.”
    Maharaj also said that I had realized my true nature.”

    Mullarpattan was one of the translators for Nisargadatta,

    Also Nisargadatta did give two formal practices to his students: the Naam mantra that he initiated people with, and the bhajans (devotional songs in Marathi) of the Inchigiri Navnath lineage. Nisargadatta had a tremendous spiritual force (and it comes through the videos), and when he’d initiate students, it would activate their own subtle energies, and bring forth a subtle connection with Nisargadatta and the gurus in the line before him. Nisargadatta, would sing these,bhajans daily, it would take a few hours, broken up into about 4 sessions. Some of his students would join in with him, others would sing the bhajans at their home.

    1. I appreciate your contribution, Sundari,
      Good to know that Jean Dunn taught, and was not only a translator of N teachings.

      The point I raised about the effectiveness of Nisargadatta’s teaching or approach is controversial, and I was hoping individuals like you will come forward and tell us things we did not know, or public ally known.

      I also did not know that he performed his devotional practices with his disciples. the reports I had read is that he did them himself. So it seems he did initiate with mantra and performed these devotional practices with his students. So he really continued the practice of initiation he received from his guru.

      It seems we are hearing about others who received realization from Nisargadatta, that I did not know about, and are not known publicly. I had wondered.

      many thanks for enriching our understanding of such great figure of spirituality.

  19. Hi Hameed, thank you for sharing your insights about Nisargadatta’s teachings. With the intention of contributing informations about Nisargadatta’s lineage, I’m sharing here the link to a website dedicated to Ramakant Maharaj (1941-2018), who claimed to be a realized student of Nisargadatta. I hope this might be helpful to share light on the Inchegiri lineage. In his talks and writings Ramakant spoke often about the naam mantra that is also mentioned in Sundari’s comment.

    https://www.ramakantmaharaj.net/

    1. Checked out the situation of Ramakant. It seems it is mostly using ritual. Nothing like how Nisargadatta taught. I think Nisargadatta engaged in some ritual, but he made sure it was not the center piece of his teaching.

      This might be the reason he had a photo of Krishnamurti in one of his rooms, because Krishnamurti was decidedly opposed to rituals.

  20. Thanks, Stefano,
    for providing this information. I am not familiar with Ramakant Maharaj. It will be a good news to me if Ramakant was actually realized by studying with Nisargadatta. But it is also good to know that someone did continue the lineage.

    I will have to study the teachings of Ramakant Maharaj to find out for myself what his realization is. This will take sometime, but it seems he does have books translated to English. It is interesting I have never heard of him, and it seems he was with Nisargadatta when Frydman was there. But there is no mention of him in any of Nisargadatta’s books, as far as I know..

    So far we hear that Jean Dunn and Ramakant Maharaj received the teaching from Nisargadatta in way that lead to realization. Wonderful.

    I am glad more is coming.

  21. Dear Hameed.

    I do not understand why you emphasize the importance of realization so much (“effectiveness of Nisagardatta´s teaching”). The mesmerizing in your teaching in my experience (I have been a student of the DA for some years) is not to reach any goal. To be where you are – with or without “depth”.

    And: you quote “that consciousness is universal – there is no individuality”- so how can a teacher as an “individual” be the source of realization? .

    With deep appreciation and love!

  22. Hello Elizabeth
    In these lectures, I am not giving my teaching. I am clarifying the teachings of other teachers and traditions. I am trying to make these teachings more available and more correctly understood.

    In terms of the quote you give about consciousness being universal. This is the teaching of most non dual teachings, including that of Nisargadatta.

    We do have this non dual teaching in the diamond approach. We refer to it as the teaching of the boundless dimensions. You are right, in the teaching I give as our teaching, the individual is important, and necessary,, even for realizing the universal and infinite.

    And it is always a particular teacher or guru who gives the teaching of universality, as in the case of Nisargadatta. Nondual teachings downplay the role of the individual, for the teaching is that the separate individual is the main obstacle to realizing the universal. They tend not to recognize that there can be an individual who is not separate.

    Nisargadatta had this non dual perspective, but he was a unique individual. And this is undeniable, even though he experienced himself as a rocklike infinite immensity. But Krishnamurti did not deny the individual, for he kept to referring to himself as “he” or “one.”

    In the Diamond Approach ,one is both infinite and particular, with the two not separate from each other.

    I hope this helps in clarifying the situation

    1. Dear Hameed.

      Thank you for your beautiful explanation. It is wonderful that we can be an individual and at the same time experience ourselves as boundless. That there is no contradiction in direct experience.

      What I wanted to point to in my first sentence was something different:
      I am surprised that for you the “effectiveness” of a teaching is defined by how many students (you heard about Jean Dunn, Ramakant Maharaj) get to the same depth as the teacher.
      I would like to look at the “effectiveness” of a teaching differently: Isn’t a teaching already “effective”, when there is a little less suffering ? More kindness? The ability to let oneself just be? To let others be? In my understanding that will be the result when the identification with the personality is loosened and one opens to the unifying ground of reality. – So Nisagardatta´s teaching would have been greatly “effective” for so many.
      Did I understand it correctly that for you “effectiveness” of a teaching is mainly connected to deepest realization?

      1. Hi again, Elisabeth,
        I am with you that the decrease of conflict and suffering is a good outcome in any teaching.

        However, It was Nisargadatta himself who told Frydman that nobody had learnt what he was teaching, at that time.

        It seems he later told Jean Dunn that she had understood him and that she can teach his teaching.

        For him to have really learnt from him meant to learn to be the absolute.

        We find this common in spiritual teaching, and actually the standard of the success of a master’s work. In Zen if there is no disciple that learns the awakening of the master, there is a problem with the continuation of the lineage. The same in other spiritual lineage. the lineage can continue but does not have the same power or vitality.

  23. Hi Hameed,

    Nisargadatta seems to say that we are the point of light but is that really true? Is it not that we are the witnessing consciousness that is in the thrall of the point of light for the duration of a single lifetime and what endures beyond the trajectory of the life is the witnessing consciousness and that is who we are?

    Best,

    Oli

    Oli

    1. Hi Oliver
      The way I have understood Nisargadatta is that the point of light is his main way of learning to be the I AM. But that the I AM is a starting point, and that it reveals being. And being finally resolves itself in the absolute.

      The point of light can be considered the individual witness, for it is pure witnessing within particular situations of time and space. The absolute is the universal witness, so as the absolute there is witnessing of all reality, of the infinity of manifestation.

      The two are two sides of the same truth, and there is a mysterious connection between them.

  24. Dear Hameed: How would you describe Nisargadatta’s method? To notice everything that appears in awareness and ask, “am I that?” That was my understanding of what his Guru instructed him to do, and what he did for several hours a day in the few years leading to his realization. But I also read in I Am That and see above comments from those who sat with him discussing dwelling on the sense of “I am.” Thank you, Ethan

  25. My understanding is that both of these are the same. Both have to do with what one is. One is questioning any phenomena to find what one is, and the other is abiding in I AM as what one is.

    I think the first is like Ramana Maharshi teaching: who am I.

    The second is using presence as entry into the mysterious source of being.

  26. Words are simply a way to point to the real. The real is beyond words, but we can listen to the words as a path. His description of it being hard and dense makes sense. It never changes, never moves, so describing it as dense and hard points to this. It’s like a rock, which we perceive as dense and unmoving.

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