Who Lives Really? – Atmananda

9th January 1951

We generally say that every man lives. If the term ‘man’ refers to the changeless ‘I’- principle (and it cannot refer to anything else), we are guilty of a contradiction in terms. The changeless ‘I’-principle can never undergo such changes as birth and death.

Don’t we speak of ‘my past life’ and ‘my future life’? It is clear from these that the ‘I’-principle is beyond birth and death. For in these statements, we imply that the ‘I’- principle is present before birth and after death. How then can birth and death pertain to the ‘I’-principle?

Therefore, the real ‘I’-principle alone lives. The ignorant man believes that either the body or the mind lives, while in fact each of them dies at the end of every perception or thought. But the ‘I’-principle continues unchanged through all thoughts and perceptions, lighting them up as well.

Therefore, the ignorant man who identifies himself with body and mind is dying every moment, along with every perception or thought. And the Jnyanin, who identifies himself with the changeless ‘I’-principle, alone really lives and knows no death.

The body idea or the ego has to die, in order that you may really live. In this sense, it is the Jnyanin alone that really lives, and knows he lives. His advice to every man is: ‘Die, in order to live.’ In other words, annihilate the personal element, or ego, in order that the impersonal element may not appear shrouded. This is realization – establishing oneself in the Reality.

-Shri Atmananda (Krishna Menon)

From Notes on Spiritual Discourses of Shri Atmananda, Taken by Nitya Tripta

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For more posts on Atmananda see the Atmananda Category.

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Your Luminous Presence – Francis Lucille

What can you tell us about intelligence?

Ordinary intelligence is a cerebral function. It appears as the faculty of adaptation and organization. It allows complex problems to be handled by bringing into play a large quantity of givens. Linked to heredity and to acquired conditioning of the brain, it operates sequentially, in time. This kind of intelligence is responsible for performing math calculations, formulating logical arguments, or playing tennis. Operating like a super-computer, it excels in accomplishing repetitive tasks and may one day be surpassed by machines. Its source is memory, the known.

Intuitive intelligence appears as understanding and clarity. It is responsible for seeing simplicity in apparent complexity. It strikes directly, in the moment. Always creative, free of the known, it is at the heart of all scientific discoveries and great works of art. Its source is the supreme intelligence of timeless awareness.

When intuitive intelligence turns upon itself, trying to grasp its source, it loses itself in the instantaneous apperception of supreme intelligence. The recognition of that higher intelligence is an implosion that destroys the illusion that we are a personal entity.

Does this recognition occur independently of someone’s level of general intelligence?

Yes. The presence of an intense desire for awakening is a sure sign that this recognition has taken place.

Is the destruction of the ego induced by a gradual or a sudden awakening?

The first moment of recognition already contains in it the germ of its fulfillment, in the same way that the seed already contains the flower, the tree, and the fruit. For a little while, the ego, stricken by the still partial vision of this intelligence, retains a semblance of life. At this stage, habit still maintains its old identifications, but an irreparable breach has slipped into the belief in our separate existence. One’s heart is no longer in it, one could say, in all senses of the word.

Intermittent recurrences of this recognition widen this gap even further until the moment when the ego, which is a perceived object, becomes completely objective, prior to dissolving before our very eyes, making way for the invasion of the ineffable.

Following this awakening, we find ourselves free of fear and desire. Free of fear because, having reintegrated our immortal self, the specter of death leaves us forever. Free of desire because, knowing the absolute fullness of being, the old attraction objects held for us ceases spontaneously. Old physical and mental habits that derived from the former belief in a personal existence can manifest for yet a while, but all identification with objects perceived or thought is impossible henceforth.

When contemplated in the amazing neutrality of awareness, these habits die, one by one, without their occasional recurrence triggering a return of the illusion of the ego.

What are the signs by which we can recognize higher intelligence?

Thoughts, feelings, and actions that flow from higher intelligence refer to their source, the self. As they fade out back into their source, they leave us on the shore of the absolute, like the foam that a wave deposits on the sand. The thought that thinks truth proceeds from truth, and brings us back to truth. This thought has many different facets. It poses apparently diverse questions like: What is happiness? What is God? Who am I? All these questions originate from a common source: from eternal joy, from the divine, from our self.

When these questions, permeated by the fragrance of truth, invite you, make room for them, make time for them, surrender to them, let yourself be carried by them. These thoughts are like the footprint of God in your soul. Let it proceed where it will. The one in whom these thoughts have awakened is very fortunate. No obstacle can prevent him access to the truth. Once the desire for the ultimate has grasped you, the entire universe cooperates in the fulfillment of this desire.

Are you in this state of fulfillment at this moment?

There is no one in that state. This non-state is the absence of the person.

Do you go in and out?

It isn’t a state.

Are you awake in that state?

This non-state is awake to itself. It is awareness. I am awareness, you are awareness.

In that case, you are aware that everything is in its place?

From the point of view of awareness, everything is awareness, thus everything is in its place. Nothing is tragic. All is light, all is presence.

Given that we are light and that the things around us are also that light, do you see things differently from us?

No. I see everything exactly the way you do, but there are things you believe you see that I don’t see. I don’t see a personal entity in the picture. Even if an old habit arising from memory comes up, it is totally objectivized. It is simply part of the picture. It is not what I am. I don’t take myself as something thought of or perceived. That is all. You can do the same thing. You are free. It is enough to just try. Do it! Right now!

How do I go about it?

Each time you take yourself to be an object, for example, a body or a man with a certain profession, be aware of it.

So there is a self at a higher level that observes the situation. Is that the perspective?

That is the intellectual understanding of the perspective, not its reality. The reality is your welcoming attention, not the concept of your welcoming attention, or the concept of yourself as welcoming attention. It is simply your luminous presence, without tension or resistance, welcoming moment by moment the thought or sensation that is coming into being, letting it unfold freely, and letting it reabsorb into itself without leaving any traces. This original light is not an absence but a fullness. Surrender yourself to it. Let yourself be overcome by it.

-Francis Lucille

Taken from Eternity Now

A sample of the book can be downloaded from:  http://www.non-dualitypress.com/sample/Eternity%20Now_sample%20chapter.pdf

His website:   http://www.francislucille.com/

It Is What I Am – Rupert Spira

Dear Rupert,

When I was a child, I used to think, when in bed before going to sleep: “how is it possible that the universe has come into existence? If something exists, something else is the originating cause.” Going backwards, I always arrived (and I still arrive now) at a conclusion: “Something exists forever. But this is impossible to my logic… so nothing exists.” Many times I felt, just for an instant, a sudden vacuum when concluding that nothing exists. But then I noticed that I was there, thinking and conscious, so I existed!!!! My logic says that nothing exists and never existed, but I am here writing this.

This contradiction has opened my mind to any possibility. If I cannot understand how is it possible that anything exists, then anything can be possible, and the Truth (the reality) can be anything. When I found out years later about Young’s double slit experiment and other paradoxes in quantum physics, I was not surprised at all. In fact, all phenomena are simple details, what matters is the substance that is behind them.

My question: non-dual teachings resonate with what I just related. Even the nothingness that is totality at the same time sounds like the paradox of something uncaused. Do you, in your consistent openness and enlightenment, “understand” (or whatever word you use) this paradox? Is it possible to penetrate this mystery?

Thanks and kind regards,


Dear Javier

Thank you for your beautiful question which goes to the very heart of the matter.

You say, “When I was a child, I used to think, when in bed before going to sleep, ‘how is it possible that the universe has come into existence?'”

Let us look first of all at this ‘universe’ that is considered to have come into existence. The ‘universe’ is normally considered to be an infinitely vast whole which we, as separate perceiving entities, perceive partially and intermittently.

This ‘universe’ is considered to have existed before any of these apparently perceiving entities were present to perceive it. That is, it is considered to have existed before perception was possible and even when so called perceiving entities had appeared in this universe it is still considered to exist when it is not being perceived.

In fact this ‘universe’ is considered to have given birth, at a certain stage of its evolution, to the Consciousness with which it is known or perceived. However, it is believed to have existed prior to the birth of this Consciousness. In other words the ‘universe’ is considered to exist prior to and independently of Consciousness.

However, this universe that is conceived to have existed prior to Consciousness, has never been experienced. Perceptions are experienced and subsequently thought strings together in imagination an infinite number of such perceptions and creates out of them ‘the universe.’ However, such a ‘universe’ exists only in imagination. It is a presumption.

Now let us look first of all at the validity of this fundamental presumption. What evidence is there for such a universe? Has it ever been experienced? Could it ever be experienced?

If we agree to begin with that experience must be the test of reality, then every presumption or thought model must be subjected to the scrutiny of experience in order to be validated.

So, has anyone ever experienced the universe as it is conceived? We can bring this investigation much closer by taking any simple object such as the table in our room and ask the same questions about it:

There is a perception of the table. If there are several people in the room, there will be several perceptions of the table. From these perceptions we build a model of a ‘whole table,’ ‘the thing in itself’ that is considered to be the sum total of all possible perceptions, that exists independently of its being perceived and cannot by definition ever be perceived in its imagined totality.

Has anyone ever experienced such a table? Have you ever experienced such a table? Could you? Could anyone?

The answer is obviously ‘No.’ It is fundamental to see the truth of this simple and startling fact of experience: no one has ever or could ever experience an object, an other, a world, a universe as it is normally considered to exist or conceived to be.

The universe as such is imagined. This is not a proof that such a universe does not exist, but it is a proof that there is no evidence that it does.

* * *

So, it does not make sense to ask questions about a universe that we have never experienced. It is like asking questions about a pink elephant.

Having said that, asking questions about what we SEEM to experience is good because if we pursue them thoroughly, they lead us to what we IS experienced.

So let us now come closer to the truth of our experience:

Imagine an everyday occurrence such as walking into your kitchen, making a cup of tea and leaving again.

Our normal view is that we, as an entity located in and as the body, enter the kitchen which was there prior to our entering it, unexperienced so to speak. When we leave the kitchen, we imagine that it remains as it was prior to our entering it, that is, unexperienced.

Let us look more closely: the kitchen neither conceives nor perceives itself to be ‘a kitchen.’  Both conceiving and perceiving are faculties of the mind.

Therefore in the absence of mind, the kitchen cannot exist either as a concept or a percept.

So, when it is neither conceived or perceived, in what form could it exist? To exist it must have a form. However in the absence of mind, that ‘form’ cannot be a perception, that is, it cannot be a sight, a sound, a smell, a sensation or a taste.

In other words, conception and perception are faculties or qualities of mind. They are not faculties of the kitchen. It is the mind that conceives of a ‘kitchen’ and gives ‘it’ its name and it is the mind that perceives and gives ‘it’ its form.

Now what is this ‘it’ independent of the mind? What are its qualities?

We have no doubt that when the ‘kitchen’ is experienced, there is SOMETHING present. There is experience. In other words, whatever the ‘kitchen’ actually IS in its own right, divested of those qualities of name and form that the mind superimpose upon ‘it,’ is present. Whatever that is, it has no objective qualities, because all objective qualities are supplied by mind. In other words, whatever ‘it’ is, is both non-objective and present. That is, we can be sure that BEING is present in the experience of the ‘kitchen.’

The experience of the ‘kitchen’ is also, by definition, known, and as all knowing takes place in Consciousness, we can also be sure that Consciousness is present in the experience of the ‘kitchen.’

Thus we have arrived at the simple conclusion, drawn from our own experience, that Being and Consciousness are present in the experience of the ‘thing in itself,’ whether that thing is a kitchen, a table or a universe.

We can also go further and observe from experience that the experience of the ‘kitchen,’ and indeed all experience, is always only one experience, not two, and can therefore conclude that Being and Consciousness are one and the same.

In other words, what IT IS is made fundamentally out of Being/Consciousness.

* * *

Now let us keep going.

This Being/Consciousness does not, in our experience, ‘come into existence.’ Nobody has ever or could ever experience the appearance of Being/Consciousness because Being/Consciousness would have to be ‘there’ present to witness and therefore claim such an appearance.

Moreover, if we look now at the ‘me’ that walks into the kitchen’ we can explore it in exactly the same way that we previously explored the ‘kitchen.’ And if we do so we arrive at the same startling conclusion. That is, all the apparently objective qualities that we attribute to this ‘me’ are supplied by mind. They are not inherent in ‘me.’ The body does not know it is a body, let alone a ‘me.’ Only the mind says so.

In other words, if we divest ‘me’ of those qualities that are supplied by mind, that is, thinking, sensing and perceiving, we are left with the same experience of Being/Consciousness.

In other words, what I AM is made fundamentally out of Being/Consciousness.

* * *

In other words we have arrived at the fundamental equation of experience that IT (the body, object, world, universe or other) IS WHAT I AM.

Now Being/Consciousness is in our experience, which means in its own experience, ever-present. It cannot nor could it ever know its own absence.

So the fundamental substance of the body, object, world, universe or other is Being/Consciousness and the particular qualities that seem to differentiate different objects, bodies, worlds etc from one another are supplied by mind.

However, in the absence of mind, there is no time or space, both of which turn out on investigation to be concepts.

Therefore the body, object, world, universe or other cannot be said to have come INTO existence. From where would they have come? And at what time?

Rather we have seen from experience that the substance of the universe etc. is Being/Consciousness which is ever-present. And all apparent qualities of mind arise within this Being/Consciousness. There is nowhere outside of this Being/Consciousness from which they could have come. And the substance out of which this mind is made can only be the substance of Being/Consciousness, just as ice forming in water can only be made of whatever ingredients that are present in the water.

The only thing that is present in Being/Consciousness is Being/Consciousness. Therefore it is this very Being/Consciousness that takes the shape of the mind and from here appears as the multiplicity and diversity of bodies, people, objects, worlds, universes, particles, others etc.

However in order for this apparent multiplicity and diversity to seem real the homogeneous, singular oneness of its real substance (Being/Consciousness) must be overlooked or forgotten.

In other words, the true nature of Being/Consciousness must be forgotten, denied, veiled or imagined non-existent, for objects, the world and others etc. to appear to come into existence.

In short the universe comes into existence (that is, it seems to take on its own separate reality) at the very moment that our true nature of Being/Consciousness is forgotten. And how is Being/Consciousness forgotten if it is ever-present and there is nothing in its experience besides itself?

The answer is that is it never truly forgotten. However it SEEMS to be. It seems to forget or veil itself by taking the shape of mind and then, that apparent mind identifies the ‘I’ that is inherent in the Being/Consciousness with one little part of the totality, that is with a body.

In other words, Consciousness, as it were, forgets itself, forgets the Knowing of its own Being and rises instead as the dualising mind, in the form of the ‘I’ entity. At this moment, ‘everything-I-am-not’ springs into apparent existence as the universe, objects, others or world.

However, the ‘I’ entity and the universe, objects, others and world etc. are nothing but this very Being/Consciousness taking the shape of name (thinking) and form (perceiving) and seeming to be something other than itself.

* * *

So to go back to the example of walking into the kitchen…. nobody walks into a kitchen in time and space….

There is Being/Consciousness. It is this Being/Consciousness that takes the shape of a sensation called the body which a subsequent thought identifies as ‘I.’

This Being/Consciousness takes the shape of the body, then the walls, then the floor, then the kitchen, then the kettle, then the water, then the tea…..on and on. And woven into this constantly seeming morphing of Being/Consciousness is a train of thought that conceptualises all this experience as ‘me’ a body, walking into a kitchen, that was always here, and makes a cup of tea in a kettle that exists along with everything else independent of its being known……

But in fact there is just Being/Consciousness, that is, just ‘I,’ always in the same place which is a placeless place, always at the same timeless nowness, taking the shape of sensing, perceiving and thinking…..always only being itself, never giving birth to anything other than itself….giving its own substance to every appearance.

‘I’  body-ing, ‘I’ wall-ing, ‘I’ floor-ing, ‘I’ kitchen-ing, ‘I’ kettle-ing, ‘I’ water-ing, ‘I’ tea-ing, ‘I’ etc-ing, etc-ing, etc-ing…..

So it is not that the universe, objects, others, the world etc is not real. Every experience is real but its reality is that of Being/Consciousness. In other words IT IS WHAT I AM.

* * *

You say, “Something exists forever. But this is impossible to my logic… so nothing exists.”

Don’t start from logic, start from experience. You are right that nothing objective, that is, no thought, sensation or perception, has lasted forever in your experience.

Nor have you or anyone ever experienced the vast expanse of time that is conceptualised as ‘forever.’ However, you have and do continually experience your own Being. In fact you have never experienced its absence, nor could you.

It is your experience that you, Being/Consciousness, are ever-present. That is, its own Ever-presence is its own intimate experience.

However, in order to interpret its own Ever-presence as the existence of an independent universe existing ‘for ever’ in time, Being/Consciousness has first to seem to forget itself. It does this, as I said before by taking the shape of dualising mind.

With the arising of dualising mind, the Ever-Presence of Being/Consciousness seems to be veiled and is replaced by the idea and apparent experience of a separately existing universe that lasts ‘forever.’

In other words the Ever-presence of Being/Consciousess is appropriated by mind and conferred upon an imaginary universe that is considered, as a result, to last ‘forever’ in time.

However, it only seems to be veiled from the point of view of the dualising mind. It is never truly veiled from itself. There is nothing in its own experience, apart from itself, with which it could make a veil in order to screen itself from itself. Such a veil would be made only out of itself.

So yes, ‘nothing (no thing) exists’ if by a ‘thing’ we mean something existing in its own right in time and space. However, the substance of all apparent things, does not exist, but rather IS eternally, that is, not ‘forever’ in time, but always now.

This is what Parmenides meant when he said, “That which is never ceases to be. That which is not never comes into existence.”

* * *

You say, “Many times I felt, just for an instant, a sudden vacuum when concluding that nothing exists. But then I noticed that I was there, thinking and conscious, so I existed!!!!”

Yes, when we have been invested for decades in the apparent reality of the separate self and the separate, distant, outside world it can be a tremendous shock to understand that its SEEMING reality is made only of mind and lasts only as long as the current thought, image, sensation or perception lasts, that is, for a moment. However, its REAL reality is made of Being/Consciousness and is the substantial, homogeneous, ever-present reality of our experience.

It is as if all the ground has been pulled from under our feet. We grasp for something solid to hold on to, something known. But we find nothing objective. It feels like a vacuum.

However, we do not find nothing. We find our Self, Being/Consciousness, the Isness of things and the Amness of self, the only true security, our real home.

However, you do not exist. You ARE. To exist means to ‘stand out from.’ You do not stand out as an object from anything. You are existence itself from which all apparent things that seem to exist are made.

It is your Being that gives seeming existence to all apparent objects.

Nothing exists in its own right but Presence IS, and is the ever-present substance of all seeming things.

* * *

This goes to the very heart of the matter. Normally we think that the existence or being of a thing and the knowing of that thing are two, are separate.

But they are not. To know a thing is to be that thing. That is Consciousness’ mode of knowing a thing: to be that thing.

It is only the mind that separates Being and Knowing or Being and Consciousness into two different things. In reality there is no such separation between the two. In fact they are not two.

The only way to know another is be that other. The only way to know an object is be that object. The only way to know the kitchen is be the kitchen. The only way to know the world is be the world.

It is ‘I,’ Being/ Consciousness, that takes the shape of the thinking, imagining, sensing and perceiving. It is ‘I,’ Being/Consciousness, that takes the shape of a thought that identifies myself with a particular sensation called the body and in doing so imagines another substance that is not myself, called matter, out of which everything that is seemingly not myself, that is, the world, is made.

Consciousness creates the apparent world, object or other, by taking the shape of the dualising mind and thereby SEEMINGLY forgetting its own Self.

And conversely as Consciousness remembers or recognises its Self the apparently separate world, object, self or other dissolves.

* * *

You say, “My logic says that nothing exists and never existed, but I am here writing this…” You are right ‘nothing exists and never existed’ but you are not here writing this or reading this. YOU, Being/Consciousness, ARE. You remain eternally unchanging yourself, knowing and being only yourself, never becoming anything other, such as a thing, object, self or world, but taking the shape of that which SEEMS to be a thing, object, self or world.

You say, “This contradiction has opened my mind to any possibility.”

Yes, why not? Just as all possible words are contained within the twenty-six letters of the alphabet, so all possibilities are contained within Being/Consciousness. But they are not contained within it like chocolates in a box. Rather there is only one homogeneous substance which, having no shape, has the capacity to take all possible shapes, but never at any time becomes anything other than itself.

You say, “In fact, all phenomena are simple details, what matters is the substance that is behind them.”

Yes, but the substance of all phenomena is not just behind all appearances. It is in the foreground as well. There is only that. There is only one homogeneous substance, always itself, always in the same place, that is, in itself, being only itself, knowing only itself, loving only itself.

You say, “Non-dual teachings resonate with what I just related. Even the nothingness that is totality at the same time sounds like the paradox of something uncaused.”

Yes, Being/Consciousness is uncaused. There is nothing else present which could be its cause and nothing else present which it causes.

A cause requires at least two things: a cause and an effect. It also requires time. We find neither in experience. Multiplicity and time only come into apparent existence when the reality of our experience is forgotten.

You ask, “Do you, in your consistent openness and enlightenment, “understand” (or whatever word you use) this paradox? Is it possible to penetrate this mystery?”

It is not possible to penetrate this mystery with the mind because the mind is simply the current thought or image. The current thought or image knows nothing. It is known.

Nor does the mind understand. All understanding takes place beyond the mind. The mind is simply the formulation of the understanding. It is not the understanding itself.

Understanding is always the non-objective experience of the Knowing of Being.

So the mystery can never be understood by the mind. However, you ARE the mystery. It is too close to you to be known or penetrated.

It is a mystery only for the mind. For itself it is not a mystery. If it were a mystery it would be somehow unknown or unexperienced. In which case whatever is being experienced, for instance, the kitchen, the taste of tea or these words, would be something other than the mystery. But what would they be made of? There is nothing other than Being/Consciousness out of which they could be made.

There is the Knowing of Being.

When the dualising mind rises to apparently split this Knowingofbeing into two apparent things, the experience is known as unhappiness. When the dualising mind subsides and Knowing tastes again its own Being, the experience is known as love, happiness, peace, beauty or understanding.

With love,


This was first seen on the site:


The Person Is The Past – Alexander Smit

Alexander: There was a moment in your life, probably when you were three of four years old, when you began to experience yourself as something different from the perceivingness. A moment in which you made a swingover to an “I,” that is to say, to a “person,” a self consciousness.

What  you know about yourself is what you remember about yourself. The person, the “I,” consists of nothing but memory pictures from the past. Unlike the images which you make of yourself, awareness does not need any memory. Therefore, all that you know about yourself, and that which you take yourself to be, is old; it is the past. Memory cannot perceive anything new, whereas awareness can. That which you take yourself to be and with which you may identify yourself, are curdled experiences consisting purely and simply of memory pictures. Your so-called experiences are always past. Necessarily the past, for what you know about yourself is derived from memory and is memory. The memory is able to retrieve through images that which is past. But something that is past is not the reality. At best, it is a mental reality. That reality, however, is only short-lived and will eventually dissolve in the awareness.

What sort of reality does the person, composed by you from the past, possess? The reality which you attribute to that past consists of thoughts, mental images, ideas, and concepts. Those images seem to overshadow the reality that you are actually living. Because of that you are living in a world of delusion instead of in the reality. Only the power of discrimination can free you from that. That is why Advaita emphasizes viveka so much, the ability to discriminate between what is delusion and what is reality.

The person, that “somebody” which you have created, cannot be replaced by the concept of “nobody.”

Visitor: That is precisely the point. What I have done is to replace the “somebody” by a “nobody.”

A: It is sufficient to see that what you call the “somebody” or the “person”—that is to say, all the material with which you could identify yourself—is the old, the memory, pictures, and that these do not have any reality. They do have some form of reality, but that reality, in turn, is being attributed by other images again. The reality you are actually living is free from delusion.

V:  I can see that.

A: It isn’t a question of your seeing it: It’s a question of your being there—always.

V: I remember quite well, when I first came here, that you said, “There has got to be a knowing.” My question is: Who knows it?

A: Do you need a “who” in order to know that? At best, the knowing is conscious of a “who,” but there certainly isn’t a “who” that is conscious of the knowing.

V: That knowing happens through the body.

A: Now, if the body is dead, then what does the body know?

V: Then the knowing also isn’t there.

A: So the knowing is the body? The body is still there after death, but the knowing has gone. The knowing does have something to do with the body, but it is not the body. When someone dies, the one who is afraid of dying will disappear. For then it is actually happening, so he needn’t be afraid of it anymore. The one who has the fear of passing away will disappear along with the passing away. It can never take long. You needn’t be afraid of death—the fear will go together with death. If you are afraid to lose your finger, then the fear will have disappeared the moment that you have actually lost it. Those fears are not substantial, not real. In the reality fear disappears. More people have died from the fear of death that through death itself…

V: I am still left with the question of whether the knowing isn’t actually tied up with a “somebody.”

A: No, it isn’t.

V: You are saying. Things happen within the consciousness.

A: Yes, but you can’t make consciousness into an object, into a thing. By making a noun of it, it would seem as if qualities may be attributed to it.

V: When Self realization takes place, will there be a “somebody” then who knows it?

A: It is that very “somebody” which will disappear with Self realization. But there isn’t going to be a “nobody” to take its place.

V: Then who knows?

A: There is only the knowing. There isn’t a “somebody” who knows, nor is there a “nobody” who knows. There is only knowingness, love, consciousness. Once a person came here. After one meeting he said, “I know enough. I get it.” “All right,” I said, and I never saw him again.

To see it only once is sufficient. Knowing is sufficient unto itself. Then there is always something that has to go with it—stories, dramas, ideas, philosophy, etc. Ignorance always needs to be supported, because it cannot stand on its own. The knowing-ness which you are, doesn’t need any support. No guru, no disciple, no commentary, no confirmation, not a single reflection.

Self realization is self-sufficient; that is the beauty of it. The whole guru-disciple relationship also is transcended along with it. The reality—that which you really are—is sufficient unto itself. It doesn’t need anyone’s confirmation, not even the confirmation of the teacher or the guru. But until the last moment you will not stop to seek the grace, the blessing, the approval, the confirmation of the guru as the father.

Only the reality which you are actually living suffices. Self realization is self sufficient. That realization can never be confirmed by anything from outside, by an authority, by an outsider. Someone who is truly Self realized doesn’t run into the trap of self complacency, thinking, “I’m enlightened, I don’t need anybody anymore.” It is very subtle . . . Profound knowing will ultimately become silence.

You have to understand that the “person” is obsessive. You can’t tell the memory, “Stop producing images!” Memory simply produces what it produces. In fact, it is producing a three-dimensional delusion. There is only one thing which is staying out of the delusion, and that is the perceivingness. No wonder that is where the emphasis needs to be put. From the delusion you will never be able to realize what that perceivingness is. The will has no grip on the memory and, therefore, not on the “person,” either. They can’t just disappear.  Memory simply continues to deliver. You may forgive but not forget. To forget is not an act of the will. The brains are simply doing their job. That is how it works; that’s the reality.

Thus I see only one possibility, and I’m asking you: Are you able to see that which is beyond memory? That is the perceivingness, the knowingness. That is why Advaita would like to see you moving into that direction.

V: What matters—looking at it from the subject—is to shift the point of gravity.

A: To shift the point of gravity from constantly trying to get a grip on the knowingness from the delusion—to the knowingness itself, to the real essence. That is what matters in these meetings.

V: And all the whirlings produced by the memory are to be viewed from the perceivingness as being more or less irrelevant.

A: No, no, no! That again is a judgment, and undesirable involvement. What matters is the fact that you are choicelessly aware. The word “choiceless” isn’t just anything: It means to be without discrimination, without preference or aversion. Without judgment, for the perceivingness is choiceless.

V: So you let everything pass by?

A: Let me put it this way: Whoever realizes the perceivingness cannot but live and look from that. The possibility to judge remains completely available, but condemnation will prove to be impossible.

V: Everybody is pushing you into the reality value of the person. Is it possible to avoid that?

A: No, it isn’t. Try to see that you are not a person yourself. That is sufficient and that will do the job.

-Alexander Smit

Taken from Consciousness

This excerpt was originally seen in Inner Directions Journal, Spring/Summer 2005.

The entire magazine can be downloaded from:  http://www.innerdirections.org/catalog/journal/Spring-Summer_2005.pdf

For more from Alexander Smit look here.

The Illusion of Materiality – John Levy


1. Materiality. Our notion of materiality coincides with the twin illusions that objects exist independently of their being perceived; and that these objects, whether solid, liquid or gaseous, consist of three dimensions. In order to understand how the notion of a three-dimensional object arises, it will be necessary first to understand how we form the notion of extension in length and breadth.

2. Length and Breadth. Extension, in length, in breadth, or in both together, is an idea formed by our memory of discontinuous though successive sensations which, from the commonsense standpoint, may appear either as physical or mental. These sensations give us the impression that we have perceived a surface. But there has been no immediate perception of a surface. As an example, let the reader behold this printed page, held at reading distance.1 He will notice that the eyes or the page must be moved if more than a very limited portion is to be seen: and that while he observes one portion, he cannot observe the others. Thus the impression of having seen a page is not the product of a single, comprehensive glance. It derives from the memory of several distinct glances. At this stage, we may usefully recall that if the percipient is repeatedly and similarly affected by a more or less constant group of sensations, he forms the notion of a specific object.

3. Depth. Having found extension in length and breadth to be a notion, let us now consider extension in depth, or from a surface inwards. Our knowledge of this dimension likewise cannot be the result of direct perception, for sensations are of surfaces. Nevertheless, the idea of depth is inherent in the notion we have of surfaces, a surface without substance being quite inconceivable , whatever abstraction-mongers may tell us.

4. The Physiological Aspect of Tridimensionality. The notion of depth has its physiological basis in two parallel factors: the conventions of the sense of touch and binocular vision, the second being impossible without the first. Binocular vision ‘provides the stereoscopic effect, the appreciation of depth and distance ; this depends on the fact that the images of an object formed by each eye are slightly different and that these two images are presented simultaneously to the brain without appearing double’. So that we may understand in what way two distinct images, that is to say, two distinct perceptions, come to appear in consciousness as one, let us examine a similar process performed in the brain with respect to tactile sensations, since it can easily be verified. ‘The skin offers a good instance of how our conventional reading of sensations “the words of a sensory language”, depends merely upon habituation. A pencil slid between the tips of the middle and index finger is felt as one stimulus because these surfaces are normally adjacent and we have learnt to fuse their sensations ; but, if the fingers are crossed, surfaces which are never normally in contact are brought together and a pencil placed between them is now felt as double. In this case, association does not occur automatically, as is normal; instead the two sensations appearing as one, two separate sensations are experienced. If we did not have the testimony of our eyes or the knowledge of the experiment we were making, the two sensations would remain, and in fact they are, quite discrete. This should now be applied to the faculty of grasping, in which the physic logical basis of tridimensionality certainly lies. But it must be clear from these considerations that the physiological aspect of perception cannot be separate from the psychological. This will be dealt with in due course.

5 . Continuity. The response to sensory stimuli that exceed a certain minimum threshold continues for a brief period after the event. Ultimately this response is cerebral and belongs to the domain of biochemistry. In normal circumstances, distinct groups of sensations and their prolongation, succeed one another with sufficient rapidity to make them appear as though they formed an unbroken line. There will, however, be no difficulty in understanding that objective continuity is an illusion, if what was said regarding the interval between two thoughts be borne in mind. We do not normally take note of this interval because we wrongly assume that when nothing objective is present to consciousness, what subsists is nothingness and no consciousness. The sense of continuity cannot therefore be derived from the objective, physiological side of perception ; it is derived from the single, immutable and non-temporal consciousness in which all perceptions occur, as we shall see in a later chapter.

6. The Psychological Origin of Tridimensionality. When our attention goes outward, we become conscious of sensations and instinctively perform the mental process described in the second article of this chapter, completing it with another, which is to imagine what we cannot possibly perceive, namely, the other side or the inside of the surface we perceive notionally.2 We then gain the impression of having perceived a three-dimensional object. Our habit of combining tactile with visual and other sensations is due partly, if not wholly, to the fact that we are able to have the feeling of, or touch, those parts of our body we cannot see : analogy does the rest. As an illustration of how we create the appearance of the world, we need only look at a painting and ask ourselves where the recognition of nonexistent objects in a non-existent space comes from. It does not come from the coloured canvas : it comes from our habit of associating physically experienced and imaginary sensations to form ideas. The solid world of the five senses is created by us in the same way.3

7. The Aim of This Analysis. I have given a very simplified account of a complex process, for this work, as already stated, is written from a point of view and with a purpose differing essentially from the standpoint of empirical science. My aim here is to separate from the objective side of human experience the conscious principle that informs it. The meaning of sensory perception and of memory will be discussed at a later stage when we come to analyse the nature of desire.

8. Summary. From all these considerations, it is evident that materiality is an illusion created by the combination through memory of visual and tactile sensations, whether these are experienced as physical or mental, relative to actual and imaginary movements of the perceiver’s body and senses.

1 I say ‘at a reading distance’, because it often happens that what afterwards is called a surface falls within the field of a single visual or tactile focus of attention. In such cases, we either look or feel more minutely, or else, and this is the most usual, we unwittingly call on past experience to supply imaginitively the sensations that combine to form the notion of a surface or an object.

2In practice we do not always actually see or feel in imagination the other side or the inside of a surface, the idea of materiality being so much a part of our mental habit that we do not need to. In sensory perception, as in ratiocination, even those who are least developed among us often arrive at conclusions by an elliptical process which is probably the best measure of good and bad brains. While this method is being practiced, it may be necessary to disentagle ourselves at first from this pragmatically useful unreliable short cut.

3As a further illustration and towards completing what was said about the attribution of life and consciousness to others (Ch. VIII), let me cite the sound- film. Out of the mechanical play of light on a screen and the vacuous sound- waves that fill the hall during its projection, we create for ourselves, as in a dream, a living world in which we participate entirely, by running up and down the whole vast gamut of thought and feeling.

-John Levy

From The Nature of Man According to the Vedanta. Sentient Press

The entire book can be downloaded here.

Every Escape Is Bound to Fail – Alexander Smit

Alexander Smit at 25.

An Interview with Alexander Smit by Belle Bruins.

September 1988. Location: the kitchen of his house on the Prinsengracht in Amsterdam.

We were busy going over the translation of The Nectar of the Lord’s Feet (Dutch title Self-Realization) by his Spiritual master Nisargadatta Maharaj and he wanted to do an ‘interview’ for a change, as a sort of practice. The interview has survived a computer crash, break-in and theft, because luckily I had typed it out and printed the tape previously. I have preserved this as a treasure for years. Until now.

Alexander met Nisargadatta in September of 1978. In the beginning of September of that year Jacques Lewenstein had been in India and come back with the book I Am That and tapes of Nisargadatta.

Alexander: That book came into the hands of Wolter Keers. He was very happy with it, because after the death of Krishna Menon (Wolter’s spiritual master) he had not heard anything so purely advaita. After Wolter had read the book he decided to translate and publish it ‘because this is so extremely good’. Wolter gave me the book immediately and I was very moved by it. Then there was an article in Panorama or The New Revue: God Has No Teeth. A poorly written story by the young man who did Showroom (TV). There was a life-sized photo of Nisargadatta’s head in it. That was actually my first acquaintance with Nisargadatta. By then Wolter had already told me: ‘I can not do anything more for you. You need someone. But I wouldn’t know who.’ But, when he had read I Am That he said: ‘If I can give you a piece of advice, go there immediately.’ And that I did.

What were you seeking?
I was seeking nothing more. I knew everything. But, if you had asked me what I had learned I would have said; I don’t actually know it. There is something essential that I don’t know. There was a sort of blind spot in me that no one knew what do with. Krishnamurti knew nothing that he could say about it. Bhagwan was for us at that time not someone that you would go to, at least for this sort of thing. Da Free John was also not it. Those were the known people at that time. I had a blind spot. And what typifies a blind spot is that you don’t know what it is. You only knew that if you were really honest with yourself, if you really went to the bottom of yourself, that you had not yet solved the riddle.

For the first time in Bombay?
A little staircase going up to an attic room. First came my head, and the first thing that I saw was Mrs. Satprem and Nisargadatta. There were maybe three or four people there. ‘Here I am’, I said. And he said: ‘So, finally you came.’ Yeah, that is what they all say, that I heard later, but for me it was the first time that I heard it. I did have the feeling when I went in that now it was really serious. Now there is no escape possible, Here something is really going to happen. Naturally I had already met many of these people: Krishnamurti, Jean Klein, Wolter, Swami Ranganathananda, Douglas Harding, and also some less well known Indians. I was naturally too young for Ramana Maharshi and Krishna Menon. They died in the fifties. I was 7 or 8 years old then. That is not the age to be busy with these sorts of things. It held also true for us at that time, ‘wait’ for a living master. And I had a very strong feeling that this was the man that I had been looking for. He asked if I were married, what I did, and why I had come to India.

What precisely did you want from him?
Self-realization. I wanted to know how I was put together. I said: ‘I have heard that your are the greatest ego killer who exists. And that is what I want.’ He said: ‘I am not a killer. I am a diamond cutter. You are also a diamond. But you are a raw diamond and you can only be cut by a pure diamond. And that is very precise work, because if that is not done properly then you fall apart into a hundred pieces, and then there is nothing left for you. Do you have any questions?’ I told him that Maurice Frydman was the decisive reason for my coming. Frydman was a friend of Krishnamurti and Frydman was planning to publish all of the earlier work of Krishnamurti at Chetana Publishers in Bombay, And that he had heard from Mr. Dikshit , the publisher, that there was someone in Bombay who he had to meet. (I Am That was of course not yet published at that time because Frydman had yet to meet Nisargadatta). Frydman went there with his usual skeptical ideas. He came in there, and within two weeks things became clear to him that had never become clear with Krishnamurti. And I thought then: if it all became clear to Frydman within two weeks, how will it go with me? I told all this to Nisargadatta and he said: ‘That says nothing about me, but everything about Frydman.’ And he also said: ‘People who don’t understand Krishnamurti don’t understand themselves.’ I thought that was beautiful, because all the gurus I knew always ran everyone down. It seemed as if he wanted to help me relax. He didn’t launch any provocations. I was able to relax, because as you can understand it was of course a rather tense situation there. He said; ‘Do you have any questions?’
I said; ‘No.’
‘When are you going to come?’
‘Every day if you allow me.’
‘That’s good. Come just two times every day, mornings and afternoons, for the lectures, and we’ll see how it goes.’
I said: ‘Yes, and I am not leaving until it has become clear.’
He said; ‘That’s good.’

Was that true?
Yes, without a doubt. Because what he did — within two minutes he made it clear, whatever you brought up, that the knowledge you presented was not yours. That it was from a book, or that you had borrowed or stolen it, or that it was fantasy, but that you were actually not capable of having a direct observation, a direct perception, seeing directly, immediately, without a mediator, without self consciousness. And that frightened me terribly, because everything you said was cut down in a brutal way.

What happened with you exactly?
The second day he asked if I had any questions. Then I began to ask a question about reincarnation in a more or less romanticized way. I told that I had always had a connection with India, that when I heard the word ‘India’ for the first time it was shock for me, and that the word ‘yoga’ was like being hit by a bomb when I first heard it on TV, and that the word ‘British India’ was like a dog hearing his boss whistle. And I asked, could it mean that I had lived in India in previous lives? And then he began to curse in Marathi, and to get unbelievably agitated, and that lasted for at least ten minutes. I thought, my god, what’s happening here? The translator was apparently used to it, because he just sat calmly by, and when Maharaj was finished he summarized it all together; ‘Maharaj is asking himself if you are really serious. Yesterday you came and you wanted self-realization, but now you begin with questions that belong in kindergarten’… In this way you were forced to be unbelievably alert. Everything counted heavily. It became clear to me within a few days that I knew absolutely nothing, that all that I knew, all the knowledge that I had gathered was book knowledge, second hand, learned, but that out of myself I knew nothing. I can assure you that this put what was needed into motion. And that’s how it went every day! Whatever I came up with, whether I asked an intelligent question or a dumb question, made absolutely no difference. And one day he asserted this, and the following day he asserted precisely the opposite and the following day he twisted it around one more time even though that was not actually possible. And so it went, until by observation I understood why that was, and that was a really wonderful realization. Why do I try all the time to cram everything into concepts, to try to understand everything in terms of thinking or in the feelings sphere? And, he gave me tips about how I could look at things in another way, thus really looking. And then it became clear to me that it just made no sense to regard yourself — whatever you call yourself, or don’t call yourself — in that way. That was an absolute undermining of the self-consciousness, like a termite eating a chair. At a certain moment it becomes sawdust. It still looks like a chair, but it isn’t a chair anymore.

Did that lead to self realization?
He kept going on like this, and then there came a moment that I just plain had enough of it. Really just so much … I would not say that I became angry, but a shift took place in me, a shift of the accent on all authorities outside of myself, including Nisargadatta, to an authority inside myself. He was talking, and at a given moment he said ‘nobody’. He said : ‘Naturally there is nobody here who talks.’ That was too much for me. And I said: ‘If you don’t talk then why don’t you shut up then? Why say anything then?’
And it seemed as if that is what had been waiting for. He said: ‘Do you want that I should not talk anymore? That’s good, then I won’t talk anymore and if people want to know something then they can just go to Alexander. From now on there are no more translations, translators don’t have to come anymore, there is no more English spoken. Only Marathi will be spoken, and if people have any problems then they can go to Alexander because he seems to know everything.’ And then began all the trouble with the others, the bootlickers and toadies who insisted that I had to offer my apologies! Not on my life. Yeah, you can’t offer excuses to a nobody, eh?!
And to me he said; ‘And you, you can’t come here anymore.’ And I said: ‘What do you mean I can’t come here anymore. Try and stop me. Have you gone completely crazy? ‘ And the translators were naturally completely upset. They said nothing like this had ever been seen before. And he was angry! Unbelievably angry!. And he threw the presents that I had brought for him at my feet and said: ‘I want nothing from you, Nothing from you I want.’ And that was the breakthrough, because something happened, there was no thinking because I was.. the shift in authority had happened. As I experienced it everything came to me from all sides: logic, understanding, on the one hand the intellect and on the other hand at the same time the heart, feelings and all phenomena, the entire manifest came directly to me from all sides to an absolute center where the whole thing exploded. Bang. After that everything became clear to me.
The next day I went there as usual. There was a lecture, but indeed no English was spoken. I can assure you that the tension could be cut with a knife, because I was the guilty party of course. He wanted to push that down my throat and the translators just went along quietly. There was not even any talking. And the next day, there was not even a lecture. He arrived in a car, and drove away when he saw me and went to a movie… Then I wrote him a letter. Twelve pages. In perfect English. I had someone bring the letter to him. Everything was running over. I wrote everything. And his answer was: let him come tomorrow at 10 o’clock. And he read my letter and said: ´You understood. This confrontation was needed to eliminate that self-consciousness. But you understood completely and I am very happy with your letter and nothing happened.’ Naturally , that cleared the air. He asked if I wanted to stay longer. ‘From this situation that took place on September 21, 1978, I want to be here in love .’ And he said; ‘that is good.’ From that day on I attended all the talks and also translated sometimes, for example when Spaniards, or Frenchmen or Germans came. I was a bit of a helper then.

So actually you apply the same method as he did: the cutting away of the self-consciousness to the bone and letting people see their identities. Was that his method?
Yes. Recognizing the false as false and thereafter letting the truth be born. But the most wonderful thing was, My basis dilemma, and if I say ‘my’ I mean everyone in a certain sense, is that if at a certain moment you ask yourself: what did I come here for, that seems to be something completely different from what you thought. Everyone has ideas about this question, and I had never suspected in the farthest reaches of my mind that the Realization of it would be something like this. That is the first point. The second is, it appears that a certain point you have the choice of maintaining your self-consciousness out of pride, arrogance, intellect. And the function of the Guru, the skill with which he can close the escapes from the real confrontation was in his case uncommonly great, at least in my case. And for me that was the decisive factor. Because if there had been a chance to ‘escape’, I would certainly have taken it. Like a thief who still tries to get away.

Did he ever say anything about it?
He said that unbelievable courage is needed not to flee. And that my being there had almost given him a heart attack, that he no longer had the strength to tackle cases like mine as he became older. So I have the feeling that I got there at just the right moment. Later he became sick. He said: ‘I have no strength anymore to try to convince people. If you like it, continue to come, maybe you can get something out of it, but I have no strength anymore to convince people like him (and then he pointed to me). I am so grateful to him, because it only showed how great my resistance was. There has to be a proportional force that is just a bit stronger than your strangest and strongest resistance. You need that. It showed how great my resistance was. And it showed how great his strength was, and his skill. For me he was the great Satguru. The fact that he was capable of defeating my most cunning resistance — and I can assure you after having gone into these things for 15 years — my resistance was extremely refined and cunning, was difficult for him even though he knew who he was dealing with. That’s why I had to go to such a difficult person of course. It says everything about me. Just as he said in the beginning that it said everything about Frydman. But I have never seen the skill he had in closing the escape routes of the lies and falsehoods so immensely great anywhere else.
Of course I have not been everywhere, but with Ramana Maharshi you just melted. That was another way. With Krishna Menon the intellect could just not keep it together under the gigantic dismantling, but by Nisargadatta, every escape was doomed to failure. People who came to get something, or people who thought they could bring something stood naked outside the door within five minutes. I saw a great many people there walking away in great terror. At a certain moment I was no longer afraid, because I felt that I had nothing more to lose. So I can’t really say that it was very courageous of me. I can only say that in a certain sense with him I went on the attack. And what was nice about it is that he also valued that. Because, he sent many people away, and these really went and mostly didn’t come back. The he would say: ‘They are cowards. I didn’t send them away, I sent away the part of them that was not acceptable here.’ And if they then returned, completely open, then he would say nothing about it. But during those happenings with me, people forgot that. There was also a doctor, a really fine man, who said; ‘don’t think that he is being brutal with you; you don’t have any idea how much love there is in him to do this with you.’ I said: ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that.’ Because I didn’t want any commentary from anyone. After all, this is what I had come for! Only the form in which it happened was totally different from what I had expected in my wildest dreams. But again, that says more about me than about Maharaj, and I still think that.

So, his method was thus to let you recognize the false as false, to see through the lies as lies, and to come to truth in this way?
Yes, and that went deeper than I could have ever suspected. The thinking was absolutely helpless. The intellect had no ghost of chance. The heart was also a trap. And that is exactly what happened there. That is everything. And I know that after that day, September 21, 1978, there has never been even a grain of doubt about this question, and the authority, the command, the authenticity, has never left, has never again shifted. There is no authority, neither in this world or in another world, that can thrust me out of the realization. That’s the way it is.

Did Maharaj say that you had to do something after this realization?
I asked: ‘It is all very beautiful, but what now? What do I do with my life? Then he said: ‘You just talk and people will take care of you.’ And that’s the way it has gone.

Did you go visit him often?
Various times. As often as I could I was there every year for two or three months. Until the last time. And when I knew that I would never see him again there was entirely no sadness or anything like that. It was just the way it was. It was fine that way,

Did he do the same with others as he had with you?
Not as intensely and not so persistently.

You get what you give?
Yes, that is so. In a certain sense he did that with everyone, but if someone was very sensitive he approached it in a different way. Naturally it makes difference if an old nun is sitting in front of you, or a rebel like myself, who also looks as if he can take quite a bit. The last time he said; ‘He will be powerful in Europe. He has the knowledge. He will be the source of what I am teaching.’ And then he directed those headlight eyes of his towards me. That is still so wonderful… It is ten years ago now, and it seems like a week. I have learned to value his words in the passage of time. The things I questioned in the past I see becoming manifest now. At first I thought; the way he has put this into words is typical Indian conditioning after all, but the wonder is that all the advice that he gave taught me to hang on to them. I didn’t follow them a few times and that always lead to catastrophes.

For example?
For example he said to me: ‘Don’t challenge the Great Ones. Let them enjoy.’ And I have to admit that I had trouble with that. But knowing my rebellious character — and naturally he saw that immediately — he still had to give me that. And every time that I see that, that aspect of my character wants to express itself, I hear his voice: ‘Don’t challenge the Great Ones.’ He anticipated that. I know that for sure. And in that way he also said a number of things that suddenly made sense. Then I hear him. And Wolter always said: ‘After the realization, the only words that remain with you are the words of your Guru. All your knowledge disappears, but the words of the Guru remain.’ And I can now confirm that that is true, that it is like that.

Was Wolter also a disciple of Nisargadatta?
No, but he was there often.

I have understood that you find the Living Teaching very important. Is that especially true for Advaita?
The objection to books about Advaita, including the translations of Nisargadatta’s words is that too much knowledge is given in them. That is an objection. People can use this knowledge, and especially the knowledge at the highest level to defend and maintain their self-consciousness. That makes my work more difficult. Knowledge, spiritual knowledge, can, when there is no living master be used again to maintain the ‘I’, the self-consciousness. The mind is tricky, cunning. And I speak out of my own experience! Because Advaita Vedanta, without a good living spiritual master, I repeat, a good one, can become a perfect self contained defense mechanism. It can be a plastic sack that leaks on all sides, but you can’t find the leak. You know that it doesn’t tally, but it looks as if it does tally. That is the danger in Vedanta. Provided there is a good living master available, it can do no harm. But stay away from it if there is no master available! Provided it is well guided Advaita can be brilliant.

Do you mean that people could act from their so called ‘knowing’ as if they are more than the content of their consciousness? That they therefore assume that the content is worthless?
Yes. That is why up to now, I have never wanted to write a book. But, as long as I am alive there are Living Teachings. When I die they can do whatever they want to with it, but as long as I am alive I am there.

To take corrective action?

Do people have a built in defense mechanism?
At the level of the psyche there is a defense mechanism that prevents you from taking in more than you can cope with, but at a higher level sooner or later you have an irrevocable need for a spiritual master who can tell you certain things, who has to explain things because other wise you get stuck. Whoever doesn’t want a living master gets stuck.

Books could lead to people becoming interested and going on a search.
To a good spiritual master of flesh and blood. Living!

Did Nisargadatta foresee that you would manifest as a guru?
I think guru is a rotten word, but he did say: ‘Many people will seek your blessings.’

So you couldn’t do anything else. It happened by itself.
He said; ‘The seed is sown, the seasons do the rest.’

Isn’t that true for everyone?
Yes, but some seeds fall on good soil and something grows, but other seeds don’t grow. Out of million sperms only one reaches the egg.

At Nisargadatta’s bhajans were also sung and certain rituals done, especially for the Indians. Did you also participate in that?
I participated two times. The bhajans I thought, were really special…

What is their goal?
Singing bhajans has a purifying effect on the body, thinking, and feeling, so that the Knowledge can become manifest and finds its place there. I don’t have any need of it, but I see that the singing offers social and emotional solace and thus I am not against it. In addition prasad was distributed and arati done.

What is arati?
A form of ritual in which fire is swung around and camphor is burned. Camphor is the symbol of the ego. That burns and nothing remains of it. Just as in self-realization nothing of the self-consciousness remains. It is a beautiful ritual. It makes you attentive to all kinds of things. The fire is swung at your eye level so what you see may be beautiful, at your ears so that what you hear may be pure, and at your mouth so that what you eat may be pure. It is Hindu symbolism that has become so common in India that it has mostly become flattened out and routine. It has something, as a symbol , but Westerners shouldn’t try it unless they understand the symbolism completely. I find the singing of OM good, that works, that is a law. It works to purify the body, thinking and feeling, so that the Knowing that it is can be manifest and find a place in your life.

Did Nisargadatta follow a certain tradition?
But of course. The Navdath Sampradaya. The tradition of the Nine Gurus. The first was Jnaneshwar (Jnanadeva) from the 13th century, who became realized when he was twenty and also died at that age. Nisargadatta was the ninth.

Are you the tenth?
No. I always call Maharaj ‘the last of the Mohicans’.

Still you always talk about the tradition.
I work following a traditional background, because there lies the experience of a thousand years of instruction. Instruction that works! I have learned to value the Tradition. I am totally non traditional, but in my heart I am a traditionalist. When I talk about ‘the tradition’ I mean the tradition of Advaita so as that became manifest in the Navdath Sampradaya.

What is the importance of tradition?
The importance of a tradition is just as with violin playing, that you have had predecessors who have done it in a certain way which you know works. But many traditions have become dead end traditions because they don’t work anymore. That is why you always see renovators like a Buddha, a Krishna, Krishnamurti, Ramana Maharshi in a certain sense, and Bhagwan (Osho) and Nisargadatta. The way Nisargadatta said it is after all quite different from the way his Guru said it, and the way it is here made manifest, is after all also very different then at Nisargadatta’s. It is about the ‘essence’. Just as consciousness is transmitted by means of sex, enlightenment is transmitted by the Guru.

Did Nisargadatta teach you the tradition?
You can’t learn a tradition; you can only become self-realized. And that is what happened. I know what I know. Done.

And then a tradition is born?
Yes, precisely, you say it very well.

We are now busy with book ‘Self-realization. What do you think about that book?
It is no easy book. It is no easy bedside companion.

In one way or another, translating the book has done much for me.
You have been busy with these things for a long time, thus the reading of a relatively direct form of Nisargadatta’s words must have an effect, But even you found it to be a difficult book. The theme of the book — who were you before the conception, before body/thinking/feeling appeared and before the forming of words in the mind — is not simple to say, but by repeated readings, and talking with each other and all kind of other things, a few things have become clear.

It has to be digested?
Yes, especially digesting it is important. You can eat a lot, but it has to be digested.

Did you just see him sometimes in the daytime, like here in the kitchen?
He lived in that house and everyone went to their hotel or family, or to friends, or had lodgings with the translators. Someone always stayed to care for him a bit, but everyone simply went their own way. There was nothing like an ashram in the usual sense, a care institution, a salvation army for seekers. Absolutely not.

How was he between the acts?
Changeable, from extremely friendly to grumbling.

Did you find him to be a nice man?
Never thought about it for a second.

Would you like to be his friend?

That cannot?
No, Odd question.

I don’t agree, you could at least say ‘he is my Guru, but as a human, as a person’… if you at least could still see him as a person.
Just a whopper of a person, but yeah, there are no meaningful words that can be said about it.

I don’t believe that.
Really not.

Did you ever eat with him?

Did you ever listen to music with him?

Did you ever just chat with him about little things?

How was that?
Normal, just like with you.

Did you find that scary?

Never? Also not in the beginning?

Did he have a normal householder’s life?

Was he married?
Yes, he had children.

What kind of a father was he?

What kind of husband was he?
I don’t know because his wife was dead.

Did he have girl friends?

Did he sometimes speak about sex?
No, never.

What did he do in his spare time?
He had no spare time. All his time was spent on the ‘talks’. Or he slept or took walks, or he looked outside, and he smoked a little beedee.

How did he experience being sick?
He didn’t think about it. It’s just something of the body, a little something.

What was his attitude towards women ‘seekers’?
The rule for Indian women was keep your mouth shut and listen. Ask no questions. Unless they were very brave, then he allowed it from time to time and answered them, just as with them men. Western women he just answered, just like with the men. But with Indian women he was very traditional: ‘just keep quiet.’

What did he think about Bhagwan (Osho)?
It varied. It depended who was asking the question.

Now, Ok, you don’t want anymore. I give up.
(laughs and turns of the microphone.)
This interview appeared in Amigo, March, 2002 and can be found online at:  http://www.ods.nl/am1gos/am1gos2/indexframe2_us.html

For more from Alexander Smit look here.

How Am I the Witness? – Atmananda

atmananda-krishna-menon24th December 1950

Every perception, thought or feeling is known by you. You are the knower of the world through the sense organs; of the sense organs through the generic mind; and of the mind – with its activity or passivity – by your self alone.

In all these different activities, you stand out as the one knower. Actions, perceptions, thoughts and feelings all come and go. But knowingness does not part with you, even for a moment. You are therefore always the knower. How then can you ever be the doer or the enjoyer?

After understanding the ‘I’-principle as pure Consciousness and happiness, always use the word ‘I’ or ‘knower’ to denote the goal of your retreat. The ‘I’ always brings subjectivity with it. It is this ultimate, subjective principle ‘I’ – divested of even that subjectivity – that is the goal.

Consciousness and happiness may possibly have a taint of objectivity in their conception, since they always express themselves in the realm of the mind. When one is deeply convinced that one’s self is consciousness and happiness, one finds it as the nameless. Whereupon, even this namelessness seems a limitation. Giving up that as well, one remains as the ‘I’-principle, the ‘Absolute’.

When you try to visualize the Absolute in you, nothing can possibly disturb you, because every thought or perception points to yourself and only helps you to stand established as the Absolute.

To become a Jynyanin [Sage] means to become aware of what you are already. In this connection, it has to be proved that ‘knowing’ is not a function. In all your life, you feel you have not changed; and of all your manifold activities, from your birth onwards, the only activity that has never changed is ‘knowing’. So both these must necessarily be one and the same; and therefore knowingness is your real nature.

Thus, knowing is never an activity in the worldly sense, since this knowing has neither a beginning nor an end. And because it is never separated from you, it is your svarupa (real nature) – just as ‘shining’ is the svarupa of the sun and not its function. Understanding it in this way, and realizing it as one’s svarupa, brings about liberation from all bondage.

When you reach consciousness or happiness, you lose all sense of objectivity or duality and stand identified with the ultimate, subjective ‘I’-principle, or the Absolute. Then the subjectivity also vanishes. When the word ‘pure’ is added on to consciousness, happiness or ‘I’, even the least taint of relativity is removed. There, all opposites are reconciled, all paradoxes stand self-explained; and everything, or nothing, can be said about it.

-Shri Atmananda (Krishna Menon)

From Notes on Spiritual Discourses of Shri Atmananda, taken by Nitya Tripta

This book can be  purchased from Stillness Speaks.

For more posts on Atmananda see the Atmananda Category.

To read more from Atmananda see downloadable books.


O-theism is Religion-less Religious-ness.

It is the No Religion of Whole religion.

O-theism is the understanding that there is no God separate from existence. It is the understanding that God is the Beingness which is experienced when one is at-one knowingly with the whole of existence.

It is the understanding that this Beingness is the potential of all human beings and that it is the identification with a fictitious entity (ego) which prevents the realization of this potential.

O-theism is the understanding that there have been many masters who have attained that Beingness and have expressed that experience in the language and culture in which they lived. Their experience is One but their expressions are many.

It is the perennial philosophy. It is the Heart of the teachings of all the Awakened Masters including Krishna, Lao Tzu, Mahavir, Mohammed, Zarathustra, Guru Nanak, Buddha and Christ.

O-theism is the religion-less of the Sufis, Tao, Advaita, Tantra, Yoga and Zen.

It is the religious-ness of Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharshi, Meher Baba, Krishnamurti and Osho.

O-theism is the religion of Enlightenment.

It is the ground in which Theism, Atheism and Deism dissolve.

See related post Osho on O-theism.

Be The Last Poem

And now we come to the end

Or is it the beginning?

It is here we start afresh

So much is gone

How much is unborn?

We take leave of becoming

Being what has always been

If only we had known

From the very beginning

That we are what we



This is from the collection of stories, essays, poems and insights that is compiled to form the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Order the book Here.


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