with Nisargadatta Maharaj
Questioner: Maharaj, you are sitting in front of me and I am here at your feet. What is the basic difference between us?
Maharaj: There is no basic difference.
Q: Still there must be some real difference, I come to you, you do not come to me.
M: Because you imagine differences, you go here and there in search of superior people.
Q: You too are a superior person. You claim to know the real, while I do not.
M: Did I ever tell you that you do not know and, therefore, you are inferior? Let those who invented such distinctions prove them. I do not claim to know what you do not. In fact, I know much less than you do.
Q: Your words are wise, your behaviour noble, your grace all-powerful.
M: I know nothing about it all and see no difference between you and me. My life is a succession of events, just like yours. Only I am detached and see the passing show as a passing show, while you stick to things and move along with them.
Q: What made you so dispassionate?
M: Nothing in particular. It so happened that I trusted my Guru. He told me I am nothing but my self and I believed him. Trusting him, I behaved accordingly and ceased caring for what was not me, nor mine.
Q: Why were you lucky to trust your teacher fully, while our trust is nominal and verbal?
M: Who can say? It happened so. Things happen without cause and reason and, after all, what does it matter, who is who? Your high opinion of me is your opinion only. Any moment you may change it. Why attach importance to opinions, even your own?
Q: Still, you are different. Your mind seems to be always quiet and happy. And miracles happen round you.
M: I know nothing about miracles, and I wonder whether nature admits exceptions to her laws, unless we agree that everything is a miracle. As to my mind, there is no such thing. There is consciousness in which everything happens. It is quite obvious and within the experience of everybody. You just do not look carefully enough. Look well, and see what I see.
Q: What do you see?
M: I see what you too could see, here and now, but for the wrong focus of your attention. You give no attention to your self. Your mind is all with things, people and ideas, never with your self. Bring your self into focus, become aware of your own existence. See how you function, watch the motives and the results of your actions. Study the prison you have built around yourself by inadvertence. By knowing what you are not, you come to know your self.
The way back to your self is through refusal and rejection. One thing is certain: the real is not imaginary, it is not a product of the mind. Even the sense I am is not continuous, though it is a useful pointer; it shows where to seek, but not what to seek.
Just have a good look at it. Once you are convinced that you cannot say truthfully about your self anything except I am, and that nothing that can be pointed at, can be your self, the need for the I am is over — you are no longer intent on verbalising what you are. All you need is to get rid of the tendency to define your self. All definitions apply to your body only and to its expressions.
Once this obsession with the body goes, you will revert to your natural state, spontaneously and effortlessly. The only difference between us is that I am aware of my natural state, while you are bemused. Just like gold made into ornaments has no advantage over gold dust, except when the mind makes it so, so are we one in being — we differ only in appearance. We discover it by being earnest, by searching, enquiring, questioning daily and hourly, by giving one’s life to this discovery.