I AM THAT | CHAPTER 74 | NISARGADATTA MAHARAJ
|| THE TRUTH IS HERE & NOW ||
" Instead of searching for the proof of truth , which you do not know , go through the proofs you have of what you believe to know . You will find you know nothing for sure — you trust on hearsay . To know the truth , you must pass through your own experience . "
QUESTIONER : My question is : What is the proof of truth ?
Followers of every religion , metaphysical or political , philosophical or ethical , are convinced that theirs is the only truth , that all else is false and they take their own unshakable conviction for the proof of truth .
" I am convinced , so it must be true " , they say .
It seems to me , that no philosophy or religion , no doctrine or ideology , however complete , free from inner contradictions and emotionally appealing , can be the proof of its own truth .
They are like clothes people put on , which vary with times and circumstances and follow the fashion trends .
Now , can there be a religion or philosophy which is true and which does not depend on somebody's conviction ?
Nor on scriptures , because they again depend on somebody's faith in them ?
Is there a truth which does not depend on trusting , which is not subjective ?
MAHARAJ : What about Science ?
QUESTIONER : Science is circular , it ends where it starts , with the senses .
It deals with experience , and experience is subjective .
No two persons can have the same experience , though they may express it in the same words .
MAHARAJ : You must look for truth beyond the mind .
QUESTIONER : I have had enough of trances .
Any drug can induce them cheaply and quickly .
Even the classical samadhis , caused by breathing or mental exercises , are not much different .
There are oxygen samadhis and carbon dioxide samadhis and self induced samadhis , caused by repetition of a formula or a chain of thoughts .
Monotony is soporific .
I cannot accept samadhi , however glorious , as a proof of truth .
MAHARAJ : Samadhi is beyond experience .
It is a qualityless state .
QUESTIONER : The absence of experience is due to inattention .
It reappears with attention .
Closing one's eyes does not disprove light .
Attributing reality to negative states will not take us far .
The very negation contains an affirmation .
MAHARAJ : In a way you are right .
But dont you see , you are asking for the proof of truth , without explaining what is the truth you have in mind and what proof will satisfy you ?
You can prove anything , provided you trust your proof .
But what will prove that your proof is true ?
I can easily drive you into an admission that you know only that you exist — that you are the only proof you can have of anything .
But I do not identify mere existence with reality .
Existence is momentary , always in time and space , while reality is changeless and all-pervading .
QUESTIONER : I do not know what is truth and what can prove it .
Do not throw me on my own resources .
I have none .
Here you are the truth-knower , not me .
MAHARAJ : You refuse testimony as the proof of truth : the experience of others is of no use to you , you reject all inference from the concurring statements of a vast number of independent witnesses ; so it is for you to tell me what is the proof that will satisfy you , what is your test of a valid proof ?
QUESTIONER : Honestly , I do not know what makes a proof .
MAHARAJ : Not even your own experience ?
QUESTIONER : Neither my experience , nor even existence .
They depend on my being conscious .
MAHARAJ : And your being conscious depends on what ?
QUESTIONER : I do not know .
Formerly , I would have said : on my body ; now I can see that the body is secondary , not primary , and cannot be considered as an evidence of existence .
MAHARAJ : I am glad you have abandoned the l-am-the-body idea , the main source of error and suffering .
QUESTIONER : I have abandoned it intellectually , but the sense of being the particular , a person , is still with me .
I can say : " I am " , but what I am I cannot say .
I know I exist , but I do not know what exists .
Whichever way I put it , I face the unknown .
MAHARAJ : Your very being is the real .
QUESTIONER : Surely , we are not talking of the same thing .
I am not some abstract being .
I am a person , limited and aware of its limitations .
I am a fact , but a most unsubstantial fact I am .
There is nothing I can build on my momentary existence as a person .
MAHARAJ : Your words are wiser than you are !
As a person , your existence is momentary .
But are you a person only ?
Are you a person at all ?
QUESTIONER : How am I to answer ?
My sense of being proves only that I am ; it does not prove anything which is independent of me .
I am relative , both creature and creator of the relative .
The absolute proof of the Absolute Truth — what is it , where is it ?
Can the mere feeling " I am " be the proof of reality ?
MAHARAJ : Of course not .
" I am " and " the world is " are related and conditional .
They are due to the tendency of the mind to project names and shapes .
QUESTIONER : Names and shapes and ideas and convictions , but not truth .
But for you , I would have accepted the relativity of everything , including truth , and learnt to live by assumptions .
But then I meet you and hear you talking of the Absolute as within my reach and also as supremely desirable .
Words like peace , bliss , eternity , immortality , catch my attention , as offering freedom from pain and fear .
My inborn instincts : pleasure seeking and curiosity are roused and I begin to explore the realm you have opened .
All seems most attractive and naturally I ask .
Is it attainable ?
Is it real ?
MAHARAJ : You are like a child that says : Prove that the sugar is sweet then only I shall have it .
The proof of the sweetness is in the mouth not in the sugar .
To know it is sweet , you must taste it , there is no other way .
Of course , you begin by asking : Is it sugar ?
Is it sweet ?
and you accept my assurance until you taste it .
Then only all doubts dissolve and your knowledge becomes first hand and unshakable .
I do not ask you to believe me .
Just trust me enough to begin with .
Every step proves or disproves itself .
You seem to want the proof of truth to precede truth .
And what will be the proof of the proof ?
You see , you are falling into a regress .
To cut it you must put a stop to asking for proofs and accept , for a moment only , something as true .
It does not really matter what it is .
It may be GOD , or me , or your own self .
In each case you accept something , or somebody , unknown as true .
Now , if you act on the truth you have accepted , even for a moment , very soon you will be brought to the next step .
It is like climbing a tree in the dark — you can get hold of the next branch only when you are perched on the previous one .
In science it is called the experimental approach .
To prove a theory you carry out an experiment according to the operational instructions , left by those who have made the experiment before you .
In spiritual search the chain of experiments one has to make is called Yoga .
QUESTIONER : There are so many Yogas , which to choose ?
MAHARAJ : Of course , every jnani will suggest the path of the jnani's own attainment as the one known most intimately .
But most of them are very liberal and adapt their advice to the needs of the enquirer .
All the paths take you to the purification of the mind .
The impure mind is opaque to truth ; the pure mind is transparent .
Truth can be seen through it easily and clearly .
QUESTIONER : I am sorry , but I seem unable to convey my difficulty .
I and asking about the proof of truth and am being given the methods of attaining it .
Assuming I follow the methods and attain some most wonderful and desirable state , how do I come to know that my state is true ?
Every religion begins with faith and promises some ecstasy .
Is the ecstasy of the real , or the product of faith ?
For , if it is an induced state , I shall have nothing to do with it .
Take Christianity that says : Jesus is your Saviour , believe and be saved from sin .
When I ask a sinning Christian how is it that one has not been saved from sin in spite of one's faith in Christ , one answers : My faith is not perfect .
Again we are in the vicious circle — without perfect faith — no salvation , without salvation — no perfect faith , hence no salvation .
Conditions are imposed which are unfulfillable and then we are blamed for not fulfilling them .
MAHARAJ : You do not realise that your present waking state is one of ignorance .
Your question about the proof of truth is born from ignorance of reality .
You are contacting your sensory and mental states in consciousness , at the point of " I am " , while reality is not mediated , not contacted , not experienced .
You are taking duality so much for granted , that you do not even notice it , while to me variety and diversity do not create separation .
You imagine reality to stand apart from names and forms , while to me names and forms are the ever changing expressions of reality and not apart from it .
You ask for the proof of truth while to me all existence is the proof .
You separate existence from being and being from reality , while to me it is all one .
However much you are convinced of the truth of your waking state , you do not claim it to be permanent and changeless , as I do when I talk of mine .
Yet I see no difference between us , except that you are imagining things , while I do not .
QUESTIONER : First you disqualify me from asking about truth , then you accuse me of imagination !
What is imagination to you is reality to me .
MAHARAJ : Until you investigate .
I am not accusing you of anything .
I am only asking you to question wisely .
Instead of searching for the proof of truth , which you do not know , go through the proofs you have of what you believe to know .
You will find you know nothing for sure — you trust on hearsay .
To know the truth , you must pass through your own experience .
QUESTIONER : I am mortally afraid of samadhis and other trances , whatever their cause .
A drink , a smoke , a fever , a drug , breathing , singing , shaking , dancing , whirling , praying , sex or fasting , mantras or some vertiginous abstraction can dislodge me from my waking state and give me some experience , extraordinary because unfamiliar .
But when the cause ceases , the effect dissolves and only a memory remains , haunting but fading .
Let us give up all means and their results , for the results are bound by the means ; let us put the question anew ; can truth be found ?
MAHARAJ : Where is the dwelling place of truth where you could go in search of it ?
And how will you know that you have found it ?
What touchstone do you bring with you to test it ?
You are back at your initial question : What is the proof of truth ?
There must be something wrong with the question itself , for you tend to repeat it again and again .
Why do you ask what are the proofs of truth ?
Is it not because you do not know truth first hand and you are afraid that you may be deceived ?
You imagine that truth is a thing which carries the name " truth " and that it is advantageous to have it , provided it is genuine .
Hence your fear of being cheated .
You are shopping for truth , but you do not trust the merchants .
You are afraid of forgeries and imitations .
QUESTIONER : I am not afraid of being cheated .
I am afraid of cheating myself .
MAHARAJ : But you are cheating yourself in your ignorance of your true motives .
You are asking for truth , but in fact you merely seek comfort , which you want to last for ever .
Now , nothing , no state of mind , can last for ever .
In time and space there is always a limit , because time and space themselves are limited .
And in the timeless the words " for ever " have no meaning .
The same with the " proof of truth " .
In the realm of non-duality everything is complete , its own proof , meaning and purpose .
Where all is one , no supports are needed .
You imagine that permanence is the proof of truth , that what lasts longer is somehow more true .
Time becomes the measure of truth .
And since time is in the mind , the mind becomes the arbiter and searches within itself for the proof of truth — a task altogether impossible and hopeless !
QUESTIONER : Were you to say : Nothing is true , all is relative , I would agree with you .
But you maintain there is truth , reality , perfect knowledge , therefore I ask : What is it and how do you know ?
And what will make me say : Yes , Maharaj was right ?
MAHARAJ : You are holding on to the need for a proof , a testimony , an authority .
You still imagine that truth needs pointing at and telling you : " Look , here is truth " .
It is not so .
Truth is not the result of an effort , the end of a road .
It is here and now , in the very longing and the search for it .
It is nearer than the mind and the body , nearer than the sense " I am " .
You do not see it because you look too far away from yourself , outside your innermost being .
You have objectified truth and insist on your standard proofs and tests , which apply only to things and thoughts .
QUESTIONER : All I can make out from what you say is that truth is beyond me and I am not qualified to talk about it .
MAHARAJ : You are not only qualified , but you are truth itself .
Only you mistake the false for the true .
QUESTIONER : You seem to say : Do not ask for proofs of truth .
Concern yourself with untruth only .
MAHARAJ : The discovery of truth is in the discernment of the false .
You can know what is not .
What is — you can only be .
Knowledge is relative to the known .
In a way it is the counterpart of ignorance .
Where ignorance is not , where is the need of knowledge ?
By themselves neither ignorance nor knowledge have being .
They are only states of mind , which again is but an appearance of movement in consciousness which is in its essence immutable .
QUESTIONER : Is truth within the realm of the mind or beyond ?
MAHARAJ : It is neither , it is both .
It cannot be put into words .
QUESTIONER : This is what I hear all the time — inexpressible ( anirvachaniya ) .
It does not make me wiser .
MAHARAJ : It is true that it often covers sheer ignorance .
The mind can operate with terms of its own making , it just cannot go beyond itself .
That which is neither sensory nor mental , and yet without which neither sensory nor the mental can exist , cannot be contained in them .
Do understand that the mind has its limits ; to go beyond , you must consent to silence .
QUESTIONER : Can we say that action is the proof of truth ?
It may not be verbalised , but it may be demonstrated .
MAHARAJ : Neither action nor inaction .
It is beyond both .
QUESTIONER : Can one ever say : " Yes , this is true " ?
Or is one limited to the denial of the false ?
In other words , is truth pure negation ?
Or , does a moment come when it becomes assertion ?
MAHARAJ : Truth cannot be described , but it can be experienced .
QUESTIONER : Experience is subjective , it cannot be shared .
Your experiences leaves me where I am .
MAHARAJ : Truth can be experienced , but it is not mere experience .
I know it and I can convey it , but only if you are open to it .
To be open means to want nothing else .
QUESTIONER : I am full of desires and fears .
Does it mean that I am not eligible for truth ?
MAHARAJ : Truth is not a reward for good behaviour , nor a prize for passing some tests .
It cannot be brought about .
It is the primary , the unborn , the ancient source of all that is .
You are eligible because you are .
You need not merit truth .
It is your own .
Just stop running away by running after .
Stand still , be quiet .
QUESTIONER : If you want the body to be still and the mind — quiet , tell me how it is done .
In self-awareness I see the body and the mind moved by causes beyond my control .
Heredity and environment dominate me absolutely .
The mighty " I am " , the creator of the universe , can be wiped out by a drug temporarily , or a drop of poison — permanently .
MAHARAJ : Again , you take yourself to be the body .
QUESTIONER : Even if I dismiss this body of bones , flesh and blood as not-me , still I remain with the subtle body made up of thoughts and feelings , memories and imaginations .
If I dismiss these also as not-me , I still remain with consciousness , which also is a kind of body .
MAHARAJ : You are quite right , but you need not stop there .
Go beyond .
Neither consciousness , nor the " I am " at the centre of it are you .
Your true being is entirely un-self-conscious , completely free from all self-identification with whatever it may be , gross , subtle or transcendental .
QUESTIONER : I can imagine myself to be beyond .
But what proof have l ?
To be , I must be somebody .
MAHARAJ : It is the other way round .
To be , you must be nobody .
To think yourself to be something , or somebody , is death and hell .
QUESTIONER : I have read that in ancient Egypt people were admitted to some mysteries where , under the influence of drugs or incantations , they would be expelled from their bodies and could actually experience standing outside and looking at their own prostrate forms .
This was intended to convince them of the reality of the after-death existence and create in them a deep concern with their ultimate destiny , so profitable to the state and temple .
The self-identification with the person owning the body remained .
MAHARAJ : The body is made of food , as the mind is made of thoughts .
See them as they are .
Non-identification , when natural and spontaneous , is liberation .
You need not know what you are .
Enough to know what you are not .
What you are you will never know , for every discovery reveals new dimensions to conquer .
The unknown has no limits .
QUESTIONER : Does it imply ignorance for ever ?
MAHARAJ : It means that ignorance never was .
Truth is in the discovery not in the discovered .
And to discovery there is no beginning and no end .
Question the limits , go beyond , set yourself tasks apparently impossible — this is the way .
SOURCE | SATYAVEDISM.ORG