Five Life-Changing Teachings From Nisargadatta Maharaj

Nisargadatta Maharaj

Only self-knowledge can help you.” – Nisargadatta Maharaj

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj was an Advaita (Non-Duality) sage who gave some of the most profound teachings to humanity. His book, I AM THAT, is a spiritual classic that contains a wealth of wisdom. To summarize, his teaching was not about gaining new information, but to identify the false notion of oneself in order to awaken to the higher truth.

The highest wisdom according to Advaita sages is to know one’s own true nature. It is the identification with false beliefs that brings suffering. When the false dissolves, the truth is spontaneously revealed, which is what we call awakening. Therefore, what remains is eternal happiness and peace, free from all karma living harmoniously in the world.


“Love is not selective, desire is selective. In love there are no strangers. When the centre of selfishness is no longer, all desires for pleasure and fear of pain cease; one is no longer interested in being happy; beyond happiness there is pure intensity, inexhaustible energy, the ecstasy of giving from a perennial source.”

The love that Maharaj talks about here is not the selective and conditioned love – feelings and sensations that are based on appearances. Love can never be reduced to a mere feeling, sensation, or emotion for they are transient, they arise, play, and disappear in consciousness. Love is the source and substance of everything known and unknown. Love is wholeness. It is complete. The recognition of That brings about a new perception of life and living.

The recognition of unconditional love ends the chase for selfish desires which are geared towards personal fulfillment or expansion of the sense of separate self or ego. It brings an end to the “me” and my story. When the personal quest for happiness ends, the creative mind from the infinite intelligence emerges and creates wonders and marvels of the universe. The energy of the source or pure love is an inexhaustible resource. The happiness derived from the source is true happiness, which is beyond the ordinary feelings of the finite mind.


“You may die a hundred deaths without a break in the mental turmoil. Or, you may keep your body and die only in the mind. The death of the mind is the birth of wisdom.”

Identified with the body (Maharaj included the mind in the body as well), you cling to the finite. This clinging to the limited and impermanent brings about pain and suffering in daily living. In deep sleep, there is no body, and hence, no suffering, but only peace. Only when you wake up, do the body, mind, and world appear simultaneously.

It is an inevitable fact that the body will perish. Therefore, attachment to the body will create suffering. But when you die in the mind, i.e., when there is the recognition that I am not the limited body or mind, but the all-pervading impersonal consciousness or I AM, the cycle of death and birth becomes irrelevant.

The recognition of this impersonal aspect of consciousness or I AM is the birth of real wisdom. This is what you were before the birth happened, and this is what you will continue to be even after the death of the body. The body dies. You are indestructible.


“Truth is not a reward for good behavior, 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. Stand still, be quiet.”

The recognition of one’s true nature or being is itself the liberation that the individual craves to attain through spiritual practices. The sense of separate existence is a conceptual thought (“me”). You only exist as a separate entity when you think about it. In the absence of thinking, there is no one but the omnipresent consciousness – the pure knowing which is the Source.

This simple truth alludes majority of people because their minds are conditioned to the idea of achieving or attaining liberation through effort, renunciation, sacrifice, and penance. Your good behavior in society does not enlist you for enlightenment.

When your efforts don’t bring about what you desire, you act like a beggar and complaint in front of God, which is nothing but your own projection on What-Is. You do the drama not realizing that what you seek is here and now. It is the “doer” entity within that prevents you from seeing this simple but profound reality.

Therefore, your concern with attaining something other than yourself is the ego mind’s ploy to continue separation; and hence, the suffering. If you are quiet, you’ll notice all of this only as a happening, happening to no one, and that is your true nature. What was there before “you” knew yourself as “you?” You are That.


“You have put so much energy into building a prison for yourself. Now spend as much on demolishing it. In fact, demolition is easy, for the false dissolves when it is discovered.”

Nothing is to be done other than allowing the watchfulness to emerge and do what is required. The Source knows best. Till the “doer” entity with the sense of personal volition “does” something to bring about a change, the change will not happen, or even if it does, it will bring temporary results.

You were thrown into this world with a body that ages and a mind that torments you. Now you seek to escape from misery by attaining enlightenment or some permanent state of bliss. Therefore, you have objectified the Source, and are now chasing it for personal fulfillment.

You never asked to be brought here and undergo different conditionings. Therefore, life in that sense can be said to be a life sentence. However, through incessant thinking and pessimistic internal chatter, you convert what is simple imprisonment to torturous rigorous imprisonment.

Identification with the false makes the sentence unbearable. You are not to put effort to dissolve the false, for the entity that puts effort into such an endeavor is a part of the same movement that propagates suffering.

Don’t hypnotize yourself by denying what is apparently happening. Simply see whatever arises without labeling anything. Such seeing itself dissolves the unreal. The pure being that is the real you never get affected by the afflicting thoughts.


“Merely assuaging fears and satisfying desires will not remove this sense of emptiness you are trying to escape from; only self-knowledge can help you.”

In the modern world, we are told to face our fears, but the recommendation from experts and our own actions are exactly the opposite. It’s easy to pop a pill to ease the brain, and sometimes that may be required, but that’s never the long-term solution. Even the advice, to think positively, or divert one’s mind to the so-called pleasant things is avoidance of What-Is.

One has to know where the haunting sense of emptiness or lack comes from. No matter how much you try to cover it up, it grows deeper. We never deeply look at our conditioning. The emptiness is the ego mind with the belief in personal volition. It is the sense of separation brought about by identification with the limited.

Therefore, self-knowledge is the way to transcend this lack and not by adopting superficial measures. Dive deep and see the monster within. Beyond that unease and turbulence, lies the true bliss of the SELF which is the deep ocean of restfulness and our true self.

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Jagjot Singh
Jagjot Singh

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