Where does one go after death? When a man witnesses the death of another, what he sees is that the organism stops functioning, and, because his intellect tells him he knows that it is the body that dies and that he himself, the one who was there a hundred years ago and who will be there a hundred years hence, cannot die. He also knows that this that survives the physical death does not have the form that he had when he lived. But he cannot envisage the possibility that THAT which has always keen eternally present does not need a form in order to be present because he cannot give up the idea of a separate entity a "me". ... Man finds it extraordinarily difficult to accept the total annihilation of the phenomenal object with which there is identification as a separate entity. Such identification persists beyond his concept of the death of the physical apparatus, expecting the "me" to exist in some other world. In other words, he cannot give up the idea of space-time representation for the "me", and he asks: where does one go after death?
RAMESH S. BALSEKAR, author of this book, is already internationally known through his previous two books, entitled "Pointers from Nisargadatta Maharaj" and "Experience of Immortality" It was Maurice Frydman who discovered Maharaj for the world through his "I Am That", a book which has been bailed by the seriousminded readers as a supreme spiritual awakener. Balsekar's "Pointers", which followed "I Am That" was a brilliant exposition of the teaching of Maharaj at its highest and deservedly earned for him the reputation of the most authentic interpretor of Maharaj. In his "Experience of Immortality" Balsekar presented Saint Jnaneshwar's great work "Amritanubhava" in the light of the teaching of Maharaj. In his present work Balsekar traverses over a vast expanse of thought and reaches a point where science and spirituality merge together into the Supreme truth.
A Commerce graduate from London University and the top executive of a leading Indian bank for over thirty years, Balsekar by the grace of his Master got miraculously metamorphosed into a philosophical thinker and a writer whose style is both forceful and lucid. He is indeed a unique example of transformation from the mundane to the sublime.
It was towards the end of the year 1983 that a young Australian student telephoned me for an appointment, and later came and saw me. He had read I am That and also Pointers From Nisargadatta Maharaj, and wanted to talk to me about Maharaj and. his teaching. He said he and some friends of his were staying at an Ashram some forty miles from Bombay.
He sat with me for more than three hours that morning, and his -7_-_:_neer for information regarding Maharaj and his teaching wed insatiable. My wife offered refreshment which he accepted gratefully thus confirming my suspicion that he had had zoning to eat since he had his breakfast at the Ashram quite early in the morning before leaving for Bombay - the journey by the overcrowded bus and local train took him more than three S. -7s. Before leaving he asked if he could see me again soon inc.' bring some friends with him. I said I would be happy to see and his friends as often as they wanted because, ever since Maharaj had first authorized me to talk about his teaching-and 4a.-1 lust two days before his physical death, commanded me to so-this has been the most satisfying thing in my life: writing and talking about Maharaj and his teaching, both of which seem of happen effortlessly and spontaneously.
Thereafter he came three or four times with his young friends. Then he had to return home to Melbourne, back to his studies on ophtamalogy. His friends, however, continued to visit and c--.e me the pleasure of talking to them right through the year 1984. Two or three of them were Canadians, some others were austrailans, most were Americans. The talks with these young, enthusiastic visitors have been the inspiration for this book. It is cine my firm beliefs-which I feel in my very bones- that nothing coincidence", that every event is a link in the network of events that constitutes "life", that the totality of everything that happens is at each moment the "living" itself, and that therefore e really is no question of anyone consciously changing any-=' -4: or "becoming" something. Everything that happens is as it should be. From the viewpoint of totality the question of right or proper or improper does not arise, for these considerantation arise only in the split-mind of the illusory individual entity. ck, therefore, feel that the visits of these young men and women served a dual purpose-one, the clarification in my own *x: of the significance of the many queries they raised; and two the analysis of the queries itself produced this clarification which in turn resulted in the emanation of Maharaj's teaching spontaneous answers to all the queries and problems. As I said before, it is surely out of these talks-which covered a wide range of topics and situations-that this book has emerged. The two who visited me more often than others are Ed Nathanson (Ananta) and Kent Brocklehurst (Sanak). It goes without saying that in every item of this book all thought, treatment and interpretation has been inevitably based on the Nisargadatta teaching. At one juncture during these talks it seemed to me that there was a constant repetition of the basics of Maharaj's teaching.
When, however, I voiced a hesitant apology, my young friends quickly assured me that this repetition was extremely useful, that it served not only as a reminder but, more importantly, it brought out the essential nature and' the constant element in the basics of Maharaj's teaching. Moreover, they affirmed, the repetition gave them the opportunity to see, in depth, the interconnection between mind, thought-word, idea and knowledge. There are certain moments when the whole subject-and its strange significance-seems absurdly simple and clear, though by no means easy to communicate. What we are endeavouring see in duration-with one sentence following another in the relativity of time-could really be apperceived only sub specie aeternitatis, its essential nature seen only under the aspect of eternity. Therefore the essential nature of the basics which had eluded one earlier might suddenly flash itself in consciousness when repeated the umpteenth time-and this could happen only if each repetition was given total attention every time, and not treated as a mere formula. It can well be imagined that this is the real reason why almost every master keeps repeating him-self. And, I have had personal experience of it several times when listening to Maharaj's talks. The reason for this phenomenon is perhaps the fact that while trying to understand what some one is saying, what we are in fact doing is trying to under-stand ourselves. And, in this actionless activity of trying to understand ourselves we suddenly find ourselves in possession of THE MASTER KEY which opens all doors of enquiry.
The Master Key? It is simply this: From the view point of the illusory individual entity, problems never cease. From the viewpoint of the totality of phenomenal functioning, problems never arise.
Why is this so? Because, consciousness is all that exists and everything else is an appearance therein, including the individual. As I have understood the Master's words, this is the thread which goes throuh the entire Nisargaddatta teaching. This is the Master Key which I have received from my Guru. With humility and Love I offer to you this Master Key which will open the door to be peace that is joy, the joy that is freedom.
But wait. Who is there to offer what and to whom? The Mast Key is the understanding which Maharaj meant when he reatedly stated: UNDERSTANDING IS ALL-the true understanding at that comports the realization that there cannot be any entity to understand anything or to do anything. All "do-ers" are illusory drearned characters in the dream-play of this Lila that is the totality of the phenomenal functioning. True understanding isimpersonal, numenal:We can only be the understanding.
One of the most important things. I have picked up from the Nisargadatta teaching is that whatever is created-music or painting writing or dance or scientific invention or whatever-is part totality of the phenomenal functioning, and the "who --acted with such creation is totally irrelevant as the creator - relevant only in so far as an appropriate psychosomatic apparatus was needed for the purpose. There is an interesting anecdote concerning this point, that Truth is to be recognized not by "who" utters it because truth, as Maharaj used to say --1-imes untruth-a concept-as soon as it is verbalized; words car point to it. A Tao Master one day read out for his monks a text not familiar to them. When asked who the author was, he replied: "If I tell you that this text is of the Lord Buddha, you will it and prostrate before it; if I tell you that this text is • by a patriarch, you will ponder it with great respect not with the same veneration you would accord if it • EOM the Buddha himself; if I tell you it is written by an monk, you will not know what attitude to take; and if that this text was written by our cook, you will laugh at it".
There is another anecdote which, I think, illustrates the very Nisargadatta teaching. Houdini, the renowned magi- an act which was believed to be his masterpiece-to be chains or sealed up in sackcloth or imprisoned in and he would free himself in a matter of seconds. On one occasion, however, in Italy, he could not come out of a jail for several hours. When he finally did, he was tired, terribly angry as he came out. He complained most Not fair, not fair at all. They fooled me and they In spite of all my efforts all these hours, I could do nothing, and I finally fell on the lock in utter THE DOOR OPENED: IT WAS NEVER LOCKED." As • --2, would say, there is no lock on truth, and therefore effort is needed to open it. He once told a visitor that he could show him truth in one moment. He picked up metal cigarette -lighter, threw it on the ground, and sat in intense concentration with his eyes closed. He repeated the procedure. Then he said, "there, that is Truth-when the sound ceased, where did it go.
A small compact physcial frame, a dark-complexioned face with large luminous eyes, and an astonishing aura of the utmost physical and mental relaxation - this is my indelible impression of Nisargadatta Maharaj, an impression I had formed on one of my earlier visits to Maharaj and which has since firmly remained. On this particular occasion, I had arrived a little earlier than usual and found myself almost alone with Maharaj. I was proceeding towards the rear of the room where one found safety in numbers and a certain protective anonymity, when Maharaj beckoned to me to sit nearer in front of him. As I sat down, he smiled and asked if I had any questions. As I looked at him smiling benignly at me - just the Master and me - I found all my questions literally disappearing into thin air, and I instantly found myself, unbelievingly, answering that all questions had disappeared, that it was as if no questions had really existed, and that I seemed to want absolutely nothing; and almost in the same breath came the thought: now I am going to have to face his wrath in full measure; he is going to shout at me whether I had suddenly became a Jnani that I should have no questions to ask. But what had happened was totally spontaneous and un-premeditated and there was nothing I could have done; I could certainly not have taken my words back nor did I wish to. Maharaj then bent forward, looked straight into my eyes for a moment or two that seemed like eternity to me, and then leaned back with what seemed like a grunt and an almost imperceptible nod of his head. Somehow, thereafter, whatever Maharaj said seemed to have deeper significance, seemed simple and straight enough to hit the target - and yet, with neither the speaker nor the listener nor the target.
At one stage Maharaj had seemed to speak in riddles or had even appeared to evade questions with a counter-question like "But why don't you ask youself Who is asking the question" or "Who wants to know" But suddenly, doubts like this vanished and were replaced by a reaction like "Of course that is so"!
Maharaj said: "Intellectual understanding is useless because it is a temporal phenomenon with a triad of the speaker, the listener and what is said. It concerns intellectual interpretation that can vary from person to person, but intuitive apperception is immediate without any interpretation because it is the Truth". And one wondered - without realizing that, that itself was a temporal phenomenon - whether Maharaj was only playing with words! But at a certain unspecified moment of time, it suddenly became absolutely dear that Maharaj was NOT playing with words. It was with tremendous amount of compassion that Maharaj was almost urging his listeners to absorb the true meaning of his words. The word itself was merely the product of temporal conceptualization and had therefore only a limited usefulness. It can only point, it can only suggest, it can only indicate. Word can only describe the mango, it cannot give one the taste of the mango. That is why Maharaj used to say repeatedly that the listener must absorb the meaning and, more importantly, the intention and the purpose behind his words, and then throw them away. Then, there was the point of duration: the meaning must be absorbed spontaneously and instantly, and that would be of the nature of intemporality; intellectual discussion would necessarily be at the level of conceptualization and temporality. The manana (reflection) that Maharaj recommended was not to be about the words and their interpretation but on the meaning already absorbed, and when all doubts had disappeared, there would be nidihyasana (concentrated absorption and remaining in the source).
Maharaj laid great stress on spontaneity - whatever was sponaneous was correct because it was untainted by temporality or ::ration which was the base of conceptualization, and thus, of 7±le separation and the ego. Spontaneous understanding led to spontaneous action, and therefore to free living or noumenal where there is no thought, no conceptualization, and there-:pre no separation of "me" and the "other"
Manaraj often said that the quickest and perhaps the only way enlightenment to happen was for the disciple to listen to the Sadguru with an open, free or vacant mind: preconceived no-.: and pet concepts were insurmountable obstructions in the :.=f the arrow of the Sadguru's word towards the target of the disciple’s heart. Maharaj repeatedly asserted that a full and sincere acceptance of the truth could instantaneously awakening, but most disciples were so densely conditioned by t:rceptual knowledge and notional concepts that they were just SIZE ready for it. In his own case, Maharaj used to say, it so happened that the Sadguru's word hit the bull's eye because when he visited his Sadguru he carried "no luggage" (of preconceived ideas and theories in his mind). His Sadguru told him, "If you disidentify youself from the body, and firmly remain entrenched in that animating consciousness which gives you sentience and the sense of presence - I AM -, you will have peace and freedom from bondage this very instant". And this is the "knowledge" which he was now passing on to his listeners. Deep understanding and full conviction was all that is necessary. Any further action as such would indeed be not only not necessary but could actually prove to be a hindrance and obstruction. Many of Maharaj's visitors found it almost impossible to accept his definite view that no personal individual effort was necessary for achieving elightenment. They would try in many ways to get him to give them advice on what they should "do". In doing so, however, they would show that they had not really and truly understood the very basic point in Maharaj's teaching: wanting the personal and individual attainment of enlightenment, and wanting to make a personal and individual effort is wholly in-compatible with the essence of enlightenment, which is the annihilation of the ego, the "me-notion". It is for this reason that Maharaj asked people to eschew the desire to understand at what he called the intellectual level because such understanding clearly indicated an individual "me" who would understand it. He repeatedly asked people to understand that perceiving and conceiving are twin elements in the process of concepetualizationg, which lead to action in the temporal mechanism whereby we create bondage for ourselves. Any further positive action can only strengthen the ties of this bondage. What actually is required, Maharaj would say, is the contrary - to rest in beingness, to KNOW that we are nothing, to BE in the nothingness of the no-mind state, to cease conceptualizing, so that whatever happens would be not our doing but the pure functioning which we witness passively In other words, all thought, all conceptualizing, all action is in duration. The very realization of this fact is all the action that is necessary to take the illusion of an' objective "me" in temporality into the subjective "I-I" of intemporality. All action is in reality the functioning in totality that the split-mind of the conceptual individual construes as the action of a personal actor.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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