The famous Victorian playwright George Bernard Shaw, grew tired of answering the same questions at frequent public functions – even as he enjoyed his celebrity. So apparently he penned a single sheet of ‘Answers To Typical Questions’ which he printed and carried with him and handed out to the pressing multitudes who enquired about him, his life and his work.
In that spirit, (and just for the joy of it) and drawing from the actual words of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj in I AM THAT, (1897 – 1981, Mumbai, India) here’s a few topics that may have appeared on a single sheet of yellowed paper Nisargadatta might have gently written and handed out to some of his many questioners as they climbed up and down the poor mans’ attic stairs for satsang in the space above:
Thank you for coming and for your earnest questions; perhaps the following pointers will help address some of the most common concerns behind many of your spiritual questions:
Q: What is your state at the present moment?
“A state of non-experiencing. In it all experience is included.”
“Life is now only…I know the source of all experience. But the innumerable forms experience can take I do not know…From moment to moment, the little I need to know to live my life, I somehow come to know.”
Q: Are you a person like me?
“The universal is not aware of the particular. The existence as a person is a personal matter. A person exists in time and space, has name and shape…the universe includes all persons, and the absolute is at the root of and beyond all.”
Q: Is your daily life different from mine?
“In matters of daily life, the knower of the real has no advantage; he may be at a disadvantage rather, being free from greed and fear, he does not protect himself. The very idea of profit is foreign to him; he abhors accretions; his life is constant divesting of oneself, sharing, giving.”
Q: If there is no advantage, why take the trouble?
“There is trouble only when you cling to something. When you hold onto nothing, no trouble arises…Give up all and you gain all. Then life becomes what it was meant to be: pure radiation from an inexhaustible source. In that light the world appears dimly like a dream.”
Q: If my world is merely a dream, what can you do for me?
“While it lasts, the dream has temporary being. It is your desire to hold on to it that creates the problem. Let go. Stop imagining that the dream is yours.”
“Let the dream unroll itself to the very end. You cannot help it. But you can look at the dream as a dream, refuse it the stamp of reality.”
“When you see the dream as dream, you wake up…Stop imagining, stop believing. See the contradictions, the incongruities, the falsehood and the sorrow of the human state, the need to go beyond.”
Q: What am I if not a dream?
“On waking up you find you are love itself, embracing all. Personal love, however intense and genuine, invariably binds; love in freedom is love of all…In loving one you love all, in loving all, you love each.”
Q: Is freedom a dream?
“Freedom from all desire is eternity. All attachment implies fear, for all things are transient. And fear makes one a slave. This freedom from attachment does not come with practice; it is natural, when one knows ones true being. Love does not cling; clinging is not love.”
Q: Can I gain this detachment?
“There is nothing to gain. Abandon all imaginings and know yourself as you are. Self knowledge is detachment. All craving is due to a sense of insufficiency. When you know that you lack nothing, that all there is, is you and yours, desire ceases.”
Q: To know myself, what must I do?
“There is nothing to practice. To know yourself, be yourself, stop imagining yourself to be this or that. Just be. Let your true nature emerge. Don’t disturb your mind with seeking.”
Q: So what’s the bottom line then?
“I am free of desire and fear because I do not remember the past or imagine the future…with desirelessness comes timelessness. I am safe because what is not cannot touch what is…Once you realize your own unassailable being, you will be at peace.”
Q: But the world suffers?
“If you want to help the world, you must be beyond the need of help. Then all your doing and not doing will help the world most effectively”
“Give limitlessly of yourself…To help is your very nature..When you see sorrow and suffering, be with it. Do not rush into activity. Be with sorrow and lay bare its roots – helping to understand is real help.”
“Where action is needed, action happens. Man is not the actor. His is to be aware of what is going on. His very presence is action…be empty of all mental content, of all imagination and effort, and the very absence of obstacles will cause reality to rush in.”
(And maybe he scribbled in his native Marithi along the margin: )
“Until I met my guru I knew so many things. Now I know nothing, for all knowledge is in a dream only and not valid. I know myself and I find no life nor death in me, only pure being – not being this or that, but just being.”