With this thread I would like to start a new series called, “Conversations with a Sage”. The intention is to publish a different Q&A session in
each thread between 'Enlightened Sages' and seekers of wisdom, with a focus on 20th century sages instead of more ancient ones like say a Jesus or a
Buddha or a Lao Tzu. None of these conversations are posted anywhere else on the internet in there entirety, they are all from my personal collection
of books. Hopefully, besides just being interesting to read, it will become clear to see the commonality between all of them; that they are pointing
from and to a similar 'thing', just in different ways.
Here is a short list of the sages whose Q&A conversations you can expect to read: Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Alan
I encourage others to add on to this series. Just make sure the content posted is not already on the internet and it is a Q&A conversation between a
modern day sage and a seeker. Also try to follow a similar format as is shown below, just for aesthetic purposes. Title the thread like this:
“Conversations with a Sage: (name) and (subject)”. If you need help just PM me.
We will start this series off with a bang, something that is sure to not disappoint anyone, a conversation between Nisargadatta Maharaj and a seeker
who is very troubled by this world, and maybe even more troubled by what this Sage has to say about it.
Conversations with a Sage: Nisargadatta Maharaj in “Self-Awareness is the Witness”
You told me that I can be considered under three aspects: the personal, the super-personal and the impersonal. The “impersonal”
is the universal and real pure “I”; the “super-personal” is its reflection in consciousness as 'I AM'; the “personal” is the totality of
physical and vital processes. Within the narrow confines of the present moment, the super-personal is aware of the person, both in space and time; not
only one person, but the long series of persons strung together on the thread of karma
. It is essentially the witness as well as the residue of
the accumulated experiences, the seat of memory, the 'connecting link'.
It is man's character which life builds and shapes from birth to birth. The universal is beyond all name and shape, beyond consciousness and
character, pure unselfconscious being. Did I put down your views rightly?
On the level of the mind – yes. Beyond the mental level not a word applies.
I can understand that the person is a mental construct, a collective noun for a set of memories and habits. But, he to whom the
person happens, the witnessing centre, is it mental too?
The personal needs a base, a body to identify oneself with, just as a colour needs a surface to appear on. The seeing of the colour is
independent of the colour – it is the same whatever the colour. One needs an eye to see a colour. The colours are many, the eye is single.
The personal is like the light in the colour and also in the eye, yet simple, single, indivisible and unperceivable, except in its manifestations. Not
unknowable, but unperceivable, un-objectival, inseparable. Neither material nor mental,neither objective nor subjective, it is the root of matter and
the source of consciousness. Beyond mere living and dying, it is all-inclusive, all-exclusive Life, in which birth is death and death is birth.
The Absolute or Life you talk about, is it real, or a mere theory to cover up our ignorance?
Both. To the mind, a theory; in itself – a reality. It is reality in its spontaneous and total rejection of the false. Just as light
destroys darkness by its very presence, so does the absolute destroy imagination. To see that all knowledge is a form of ignorance is itself a
movement of reality. The witness is not a person. The person comes into being when there is a basis for it, an organism, a body. In it the absolute is
reflected as awareness. Pure awareness becomes 'self-awareness'. When there is a self, self-awareness is the witness. Where there is no self to
witness, there is no witnessing either.
It is all very simple; it is the presence of the person that complicates. See that there is no such thing as a permanently separate person and all
becomes clear. Awareness – mind – matter – they are one reality in its two aspects as immovable and movable, and the three attributes of
inertia, energy and harmony.
What comes first: consciousness or awareness?
Awareness becomes consciousness when it has an object. The object changes all the time. In consciousness there is movement; awareness
by itself is motionless and timeless, here and now.
There is suffering and bloodshed in East Pakistan at the present moment. How do you look at it? How does it appear to you, how do
you react to it?
In pure consciousness nothing ever happens.
Please come down from these metaphysical heights! Of what use is it to a suffering man to be told that nobody is aware of his
suffering but himself? To relegate everything to illusion is insult added to injury. The Bengali of East Pakistan is a fact and his suffering is a
fact. Please, do not analyze them out of existence! You are reading newspapers, you hear people talking about it. You cannot plead ignorance. Now,
what is your attitude to what is happening?
No attitude. Nothing is happening.
Any day there may be a riot right in front of you, perhaps people killing each other. Surely you cannot say: nothing is happening
and remain aloof.
I never talked of remaining aloof. You could as well see me jumping into the fray to save somebody and getting killed. Yet to me
Imagine a big building collapsing. Some rooms are in ruins, some are intact. But can you speak of the space as ruined or intact? It is only the
structure that suffered and the people who happened to live in it. Nothing happened to space itself. Similarly, nothing happens to life when forms
break down and names are wiped out. The goldsmith melts down old ornaments to make new. Sometimes a good piece goes with the bad. He takes it in his
stride, for he knows that no gold is lost.
(continued in next post)