Ramesh S. Balsekar – Experience of Immortality – Chapter 9

Blank holding line

Self-realized State

Chapter 9


Perception Is a Reflection in Consciousness

1. Now (after Self-realization), the smell has become
that which smells; the hearing has become that which

2. The breeze has become the fan; the head has become the
flowers that decorate it;

3. The tongue has become the lusciousness of the juice;
the lotus has become the sun and bloomed forth; the Chakor
bird (which supposedly waits for the rays of the moon) has
itself become the moon;

4. The flowers have become the bee which sucks honey from
them; the young woman has become the male who enjoys her
female charms; the sleeper has become the bed on which he
enjoys his sleep.

5. Just as a piece of gold is moulded into a lovely
ornament, so the seeing itself has been transformed into the
phenomenal manifestation.

6. Thus the one who enjoys and that which is enjoyed are
the enjoying; the one who perceives and that which is
perceived are the seeing. The enjoying and the seeing are
aspects of the unicity in its objectification.

This chapter’s verses reveal the core of non-dualism. The
sage makes it clear the phenomenal manifestation as such is
nothing but the objective expression of the subject that is
the noumenon. The individual perceiver or knower as an
entity just does not figure in this objective expression
(objectivization) of the Absolute subject except as the
psycho-physical apparatus or mechanism through which
sentience operates. The perceiver as the individual ego or
entity arises only because consciousness becomes identified
with each such apparatus. All there is is the phenomenal
manifestation and the functioning therein; such functioning
is the noumenal aspect wherein the subject-object duality is
absent and only true seeing prevails, because there is no
judgment, no interpretation, no reaction there is no who to
be affected.

It is necessary always to bear in mind and this happens
natu-. rally and spontaneously after Self-realization that
objects as such can have no existence other than as their
appearance and their interpretation. In other words,
phenomena are only what is seen or otherwise sensorially
perceived (heard, smelt, felt, tasted), so what is perceived
is actually only the perceiver or a reflection of the
perceiver. Each sentient being is the origin of what is
perceived by another, each object being only as the other’s
object, liked or disliked,. loved or hated. All perception
as such is only a reflection in consciousness, a pure
mirrorization, and the supposed entity is nothing but a
tabula rasa, a phenomenal ‘reagent apparatus ‘ with certain
characteristic reactions. The appearance in consciousness is
pure mirrorization and any reactive interpretation is only
on the part of this pseudo-entity, which is actually only an
apparatus. So in the state of Self-realization which the
sage describes, all perception remains as pure mirrorization
without any reactive interpretation .


The Self-realized Person Lives Non-volitionally

7. The sevanti flower (a spreading flower) expands into a
thousand petals, but it spreads within itself.

8. Similarly, even when new and ever-fresh experiences
are noticed in the life of a Self-realized person, they are
not experienced by him as volitional experiences, because he
lives in the non-volitional way.

The various events that take place in what we call life
do not exist other than as movements in consciousness. The
essential difference between the ordinary person and the
Self-realized one (although of course, strictly speaking,
there is no ‘one ‘ as such) is that the ordinary person
reacts to all sorts of events, decides which ones are
pleasant and which are not pleasant, and strives in future
to grasp the pleasant ones and avoid the unpleasant ones.
Although jnaneshwar here speaks of a ‘Self-realized person,
‘ it is only because it is an unavoidable way of speaking;
the two terms are self-contradictory in the sense that a
person does not remain a person after Self-realization. The
‘Self-realized personâ lives non-volitionally having
realized the nature of all events as mere appearances in
consciousness, he lives in the present and accepts events as
they occur. In contrast, the ordinary person reacts,
decides, strives, etc. The Self-realized person also knows
that the pastand the ‘future ‘ themselves do not exist,
because they are nothing more than a suppositional,
theoretical apparatus useful only in dualistic living, with
which he now has nothing to do. Most important of all is the
realization of the absurdity of a ‘me, ‘ a mere
objectivization, having a supposed will by which ‘it ‘ can
exercise a personal, independent ‘choice. ‘ Realization of
the absurdity of independent choice by an illusory ‘me ‘
naturally results in two further realizations. First, it is
this ‘volition, ‘ the exercise of a supposed choice and
decision, which is the cause of the supposed bondage.
Second, the abandoning of this volition (which is identical
to the abandonment of the supposed ‘me ‘) means liberation
or Self-realization. After the abandoning of the ‘me, ‘
what remains is the noumenal ‘I ‘ without any trace of
objectivity. ‘I ‘ functions noumenally as seeing, hearing,
tasting, smelling, feeling, thinking, but and this is the
significant point there is no objective seeer, hearer,
tasteer, smeller, feeler or thinker.


All Experiencing Is Impersonal

9-10. Therefore senses, according to their nature, may
run towards objects which satisfy them, but almost
simultaneously there is the realization that the experience
is not different from what he (the Self-realized person)
himself is just as when the sight meets the mirror, almost
simultaneously there is the realization that the image
therein is not different from the face.

Jnaneshwar describes what happens when the sense organs
of a Self-realized person experience sensory objects. For
all practical purposes in the eyes of a beholder, there is
no apparent difference between an ordinary person and a
Self-realized one in their experience of the usual sense
objects, but there is a fundamental difference in their
respective attitudes.

While speaking of an experience, the obvious inclination
is to regard it as an event in itself, but no experience has
any existence as such, because what is known as an
experience is nothing but the effect of reacting to an
outside stimulus. Such a reaction is then stored in memory
as pleasant or unpleasant. The point is that an experience
is never factual but only conceptual. The ultimate question
about any experience, pleasant or unpleasant, must be: Who
(or what) is it that experiences? The answer must inevitably
be ‘me. An experience and a can never be separate. Note
that it is not ‘I ‘ who undergoes an experience but a,
being always a subject, can never undergo any kind of
experience. It is always a ‘me, an object who experiences,
whoever that ‘me ‘ may be. If someone says, ‘I have had an
experience, ‘ it only gives an indication of the
identification of ‘I ‘ (what-I-am) with ‘me, ‘ an
identification of subjectivity with objectivity which is
precisely what bondage is. What-we-are cannot experience
anything because it is non-objective, whereas it is the
object that is open to experiences. Identifying with that
which has an experience is what the ordinary person does;
being the experience is what the Self-realised person

In other words, the experience of pleasure or pain is
part of the total functioning, and therefore is wholly
impersonal and non-objective. When he was suffering from
cancer, Nisargadatta Maharaj said, I am the cancer. It is
only when the experiencing is interpreted through the
dualistic process of subject/object relationship, as an
experiencer experiencing an experience in the duration of
time, that the experiencing loses its impersonal, intemporal
element of functioning as such and assumes the duality of
objectivization. This point is illustrated through several
examples in the following verses.

In-seeing Happens in the Self-realized Person

11. If you try to lift up a wave, all you will lift is

12. Three different kinds of gold ornaments may have
three different shapes and three different names, which may
have three different genders (as in the Marathi language),
but all three are really the same basic material, i.e.,

13-14. You will have three different sensorial
experiences of touch, sight and taste, but the object will
still be camphor. Even though different senses may
experience camphor in different ways, the essential element
is its fragrance. Similarly, whatever the experiences, all
of them happen only in consciousness.

15-16. Therefore the moment the senses, like hearing, go
forth to meet their respective objects, like sounds (words),
in the Self-realized state the experience is realized for
what it is, a manifestation in consciousness. How then can
the subject/object relationship be established?

Jnaneshwar here describes in-seeing, the real or true
seeing, which happens in the Self-realized state. After
Self-realization, phenomena are seen as nothing but the
noumenon. All seeing becomes noumenal seeing, that is to
say, things are seen not phenomenally in objective
relationship as our objects but non-objectively as
ourselves. In other words, such seeing is like seeing
ourselves in the mirror of consciousness. When Nisargadatta
Maharaj was very ill with cancer and in great pain, he said,
I AM the pain.

The Jnani Witnesses Himself Being Lived

17. The seedlings of sugarcane do not look like
sugarcane, but they are pregnant with juice. The full moon
is full of its brilliance which thereafter does not

18. The moonlight falls also on the moon; the rain falls
on the sea. But the moon and the sea are not affected
thereby. This is the way the senses of the Self-realized man
meet sense objects.

The seedlings of sugarcane do not yearn to grow into
sugarcane; they are already pregnant with the juice. And the
full moon, already full of radiance, does not hanker after
more. Rain falling as water into the sea does not satisfy
any desire on the part of the sea for more water. The moon
has all the brilliance it needs or wants, and the sea has
all the water it needs or desires. Therefore when moonlight
falls on the moon or more water is fed into the sea, the
moon and the sea are indifferent. This is the way, says
Jnaneshwar, the sense organs of the jnani meet sense
objects. The jnani is indifferent. He does not hanker after
more pleasures nor does he refuse whatever comes his way as
sense objects. Wanting something positively or not wanting
something negatively are both aspects of volition. In the
case of the jnani there is no volition, either positive or
negative. The absence of volition comports the absence of
identification with any separate entity, because such
identification is the very basis of volition. If there is no
separate entity, who or what will choose, want something and
strive for it? In other words, the Jnani has apperceived the
fact that all interrelated opposites such as likes and
dislikes, love and hate are conceptual and are the cause of
the conceptual bondage; this apperceiving itself is
liberation from the concept of bondage. Such apperceiving is
the state of non-being, non-identity. The identified person
gets involved; the non-identified person watches the show as
a witness.

In the case of the Jnani, he responds or rather, his
sensorial apparatus responds to an external stimulus without
the intervention, intermediation or interposing of the mind.
This significant point is generally not adequately
understood. Such response includes physical activity but
excludes mental intervention. When Nisargadatta Maharaj was
once asked what he would do in certain circumstances, his
answer came out like a shot: I don ‘t know. The visitor was
rather disconcerted and probably thought Maharaj was evading
the question. Others present laughed a bit diffidently. But
Maharaj could not have been more sincere or more serious.
The obvious point of the answer was that, since there was no
identification with any entity, whatever happened would be a
spontaneous reaction, a noumenal response to a particular
set of circumstances prevailing at that moment. In
circumstances which might seem similar to an ordinary
person, the Jnani ‘s reaction on two different occasions
might well be exactly opposite. As Maharaj used to say,
there is no logic, reason or sentimental affectivity where
the actions of a Jnani are concerned, for the simple reason
that they are not the actions of any individual entity. And
then Maharaj would further explain, to the utter confusion
of many of the visitors, that events will take their
noumenal course, consistent or inconsistent, irrespective of
whether the concerned person is a Jnani or not! The point
refers to the presence of volition, purpose or intention in
the case of an ordinary individual, and to their total
absence in the case of the Jnani. An event will take place
or not take place. The Jnani is not concerned, but the
ordinary individual will feel gratified or frustrated
according to whether the event satisfies his purpose and
intention or not. This is how the bondage comes in because
of the unnecessary psychic intervention by way of intention
or volition. Ramana Maharshi was once asked whether only the
important events were predestined. The Maharshi ‘s answer
was: ‘Everything. ‘

The apperception of the Jnani includes the understanding
that volition is a psychic activity which has no real basis
at all, because individuals who are supposed to have choice
of decision and action in fact do not live their lives at
all. They are merely dreamed figures in the phenomenal
fantasy that is living. Therefore we are not separate,
independent entities who ‘live ‘ but are merely characters
who are ‘being lived ‘ in this living dream. Having
apprehended this very clearly, the Jnani lives his life
‘like a dry leaf in the breeze. ‘ He lets himself be lived
or rather, he merely witnesses himself being lived.

All Doing Is Part of the Functioning of Totality

19. Therefore the Jnani may utter whatever comes to his
lips, but his samadbi is never broken.

It can only be the psychosomatic apparatus that talks,
and the Jnani has long since given up his identity with that
apparatus. The Jnani has complete apprehension of the fact
there is no individual doing anything, whether it is writing
or talking. All seeing, talking or any other ‘doing ‘ is
part of the functioning, a noumenal aspect of the
objectivization that this manifested universe is. It is in
light of the absence of any me doing the talking that the
sage says the Jnani may appear to utter whatever comes to
his lips, but his samadbi is never broken. It is in this
sense, too, that the Chinese masters have said the Buddha
preached for nearly fifty years, but not a single word
passed his lips; likewise, a Jnani may walk a thousand miles
without moving a step outside his own house! ‘Doing ‘ of
all kinds is functioning of the prajna, and it could operate
through or by means of any phenomenal object, any sentient
being or any psychosomatic apparatus. Identification with
the object is bondage and disidentification is

All Phenomena Are Projections of T

20. Whatever acts the Jnani may seem to be doing do not
affect him, for he does not associate or identify himself
with the doing.

21. Although the sensorial apparatus may seem to be going
outward and coming in contact with the sense objects, the
apparatus really has no significance at all.

22. The sun may extend its thousands of arms (rays) to
embrace darkness, but the darkness is not found; all it
finds is itself.

(The seeker is the sought and the sought is the

23. If a man wakes up and stretches his arms out to
embrace the woman in his dream, all he finds is himself.

24. Similarly, the sense organs of a Jnani may go out
towards their objects, but all they find is an absence of
both the experiencer and that which is experienced. What
then will be found?

25. If the moon went about collecting moonlight, who
would collect what? (There is no difference between the moon
and its light.) Merely thinking about something (either
something in the past or in the future) is futile, because
the object about which there is thinking simply does not

The Jnani is aware that all perceptible objects are mere
concepts in consciousness and as such have no real existence
at all. Such awareness includes not only the other things
but also that physical and psychic apparatus which considers
itself the perceiver. This understanding is synonymous with
the apperception that in all phenomena the noumenon is
immanent, and the phenomenal manifestation is the
objectivization of the noumenon. Therefore the Jnani is
fully conscious of the fact that all the innumerable
phenomena are his own projections (as I). The Jnani sees
himself in all phenomena, and there is no room for any
discrimination between the self and the other He has
stopped conceptualizing and remains in his true state, which
was always there.

Yogic Achievements Are Empty without Apperception

26. In this Self-realized state of the Jnani, the
eight-fold Yoga has no place, and it seems as lusterless as
the moon in daytime.

Nisargadatta Maharaj always brought out the limitations
of Yoga and yogic powers and achievements. The Yogi may have
mastered all aspects of Yoga, ‘ he would say, ‘and may
avoid death every time he faces it and may remain in samadbi
most of the time and live for two thousand years. But then
what? His point was that Yoga and all its achievements are
at the level of conceptualization in space-time and are of
no spiritual value in the absence of apperception of
what-we-are. A case in point is that of the well-known Hatha
Yogi Changadeva, a contemporary of jnaneshwar. Changadeva
was renowned for his yogic powers and had a vast following.
Having heard about the Self-realized young Jnaneshwar, he
came riding on the back of a tiger to meet him. At that time
Jnaneshwar was sitting on a parapet, sunning himself along
with his two brothers, Nivrittinath (his Guru) and Sopan,
and his sister Muktabai. Perhaps according to the mysterious
working of nature, the wall took off in mid-air and landed
some distance away so as to meet Changadeva and bis party
half-way. When Changadeva saw the inanimate flying wall, he
realized the limitation of his Yogic powers and the need for
spiritual instruction. He at once fell at Jnaneshwar ‘s feet
and entreated acceptance as a disciple. A compact set of
sixty-five verses constitutes the instruction which
Changadeva received; this work is known as
Changadeva-pasashti. (Pasashti means a set of

The Jnani Knows He Does Not Direct His

27. In that state of the Jnani, the volitional attitude
is only apparent all actions actually take place

28. The place of duality is gradually taken over by
non-duality, and objective relationship gives way to
non-objective relationship.

29. In the process of the normal working of the senses,
the subject/ object relationship does not exist.

So long as the body exists, the senses carry on with
their normal working according to their inherent nature: the
eyes will perceive, the ears will hear, the tongue will
taste, the nose will smell, the touch will feel. But the
Jnani is not present in such actions as the pseudo-subject
supposedly directing the actions and reactions. In the case
of the Jnani, the divided mind is healed into wholeness and
there is only observe-zfg: he has full apprehension that
every perceptible thing, including the body, is a product of
the mind, and therefore the observer and the observed can
have no existence apart from each other. In such observing,
which is witnessing, there is neither the ‘self ‘ nor the
‘other, ‘ no one to hate or to love. All there is is
objectivization as a whole: the functioning of the
manifestation by means of the m illi
ons of mechanisms known as sentient beings.

The Jnani Does Not Exercise Desire or

30. When a man walks from one corner of the house to
another, the path becomes the house, and the objective is
reached even if he does not walk.

31. Whatever a Jnani does is not done with any specific
purpose, therefore it means nothing to him whether he does
it or not or whether something comes of it or not.

32. In that state, neither remembering nor forgetting has
any place; both are irrelevant as far as the Jnani is

Nisargadatta Maharaj was once asked how he spent his
time. He replied with a laugh that he had no such thing as
‘time ‘ which he could spend. He explained that the only
way he could dispose of objective ‘time ‘ was by
understanding that phenomenally time is an extension of our
appearance; it is not anything separate or apart from us but
is merely an aspect of our ego. ‘In fact, ‘ he said, ‘I AM
time. ‘ He further explained that time was the duration in
which each appearance remains until it disappears, therefore
what he does with time is to live it: eat when he is hungry;
sleep when he is sleepy; read when he feels like reading;
walk about in the room when he feels like walking. There is
no particular purpose in or desire for doing anything. Time
becomes bondage when conceptualizing goes on and memories of
the conceptual past keep crowding in along with hopes and
desires for the conceptual future. Conceptualizing means, in
effect, discrimination or preference wanting something or
not wanting something and is exercised by the pseudo-entity
or the ego. Apperception of the Truth means instant
disidentification with the pseudo-entity, and thereafter the
Jnani lives in a sort of airy hollowness, totally free from
any desires, discrimination or preference.

Spiritual Practice and Liberation Are Not Related as
Cause and Effect

33. For the Jnani, whatever action he does is his
discipline, and his unrestricted way of life is his

Nisargadatta Maharaj was very clear and specific in his
views regarding the question of disciplinary practices,
including meditation: such practices should not be eschewed
in principle, otherwise a totally undisciplined life might
be expected to lead to enlightenment! Adi he wanted to make
clear was that such disciplinary practices (of whatever
nature, however unselfish or difficult) and the desired
liberation are not related as cause and effect. It is not as
if you drop a coin in the slot and the machine sends out a
slab of chocolate. In other words, all that the disciplinary
practices can do is purify the psyche and create a condition
favourable for the mysterious and spontaneous to happen. The
most essential element is a very clear apprehension of
what-we-are. Maharaj said repeatedly, ‘Understanding is all.
‘ By understanding, he did not mean merely intellectual
comprehension but apperception as such a clear, brilliant
light of apprehension in which there is not the slightest
touch of objectivity, not even a lurking doubt of a ‘who ‘
or ‘what. ‘ Logical intellectual analysis has no part in
this apperception.

The hazard of any kind of disciplinary practice is that
the means and the end are likely to get utterly confused.
Some seekers might end up in frustration when they find that
long years of such practice have brought them nothing,
whereas others might go along the pathless path and reach
the destination (which is no destination) almost
effortlessly. Some might fall by the wayside, having
mistaken some puerile, spiritual ‘powers ‘ for the ultimate

That astonishing little book, Ashtavakra Samhita (or
Gita), one of the few books to which Ramana Maharshi
occasionally referred, contains three very significant
verses in regard to this point:

a. You do not belong to the Brahmana or any other caste,
or to any particular ashrama (the four stages of life for a
Hindu). You are not perceptible to the senses. Unattached,
formless and the witness to everything that is what you are.
Be happy.

b. You are the one see-er of everything; the noumenon is
the only subject and the entire universe is its
objectification. Verily, this alone is your bondage, that
you see yourself, not as the subject, but as something
other: a pseudosubject of other objects.

c. You are that which is unattached, actionless,
self-effulgent and without blemish. This indeed is your
bondage that you practice meditation.

The inherent weakness in any form of meditation is that
meditation necessarily implies activity of a dichotomized
mind, the operation of which must obviously be in duration.
Moreover, the methods and techniques of almost all spiritual
discipline practices are necessarily based on the existence
of a separate entity who could take a covert or overt pride
in the intensity and duration of the meditation or other
practices. In other words, the very bases of disciplinary
practice volition and duration are incongruous with the
insight into intemporality. Liberation is truly liberation
from the bondage of duration, which is the prime cause of
identification with a phenomenal entity. This is the reason
Jnaneshwar says the Jnani ‘s unrestricted way of life is
itself his samadhi: he does not avoid or hide from the
phenomenal world, but he has ceased to be the pseudo-see-er
or pseudo-speaker while his eyes and lips (and other sense
organs) carry on with their normal functions.

It must not be overlooked that both deliberate doing and
deliberate not-doing constitute volition, therefore
deliberately meditating and deliberately not meditating are
both volitional. The key words in Nisargadatta Maharaj ‘s
teaching were ‘apperception ‘ and ‘spontaneity. ‘
(Maharaj, of course, used Marathi words.) Whatever the
action, spontaneously followed deep apprehension is direct
action, noumenal action without any intervening of the mind.
The ostensible purpose of all meditation is the cessation of
thinking or conceptualizing, and this can never be ‘achieved
‘ by an ‘entity. ‘ A deep understanding of the truth could
easily lead to a spontaneous ‘fasting ‘ of the mind (as
opposed to deliberate meditating or not meditating), whereby
thinking or conceptualizing would cease by itself, as a
clock ceases working when the winding ends. With
apperception, conceptualizing will lapse or vacate itself or
just vanish, whereas any deliberate effort to stop
conceptualizing will only strengthen its hold.

This particular topic could not be better concluded than
in the words of Ramana Maharshi:

All that is needed is to give up thinking of objects
other than the self. Meditation is not so much thinking of
the self as giving up thinking of the nonself. ..

The more you get fixed in the self, the more easily will
other thoughts drop off by themselves. The mind is nothing
but a bundle of thoughts, and the me-thought is the root of
all of them. When you see who this ‘me ‘ is and whence it
proceeds, all thoughts get merged in the Self.

Regulation of life, such as getting up at a fixed hour,
bathing, doing mantra, japa, observing rituals, etc., all
this is for people who do not feel drawn to Selfinquiry or
are not capable of it. But for those who can practice this
method, all rules and discipline are unnecessary.

Separation between Devotee and God Has Never Been

34. In this state the devotee and God become one, the
path becomes the destination, and the entire universe
becomes a quiet and secluded spot.

The distinctive characteristic of the devotee is nothing
other than an experience of godliness, and with the merging
of the devotee and God, the peace of such experience gets
doubled. Indeed, that unadulterated, pure peace as distinct
from the interrelated experiences of happiness and
unhappiness is the substance of the devotee ‘s experience;
that supreme awareness of which there is no awareness cannot
possibly be anything other than the God whom the devotee
seeks. In that experience comes the realization that the
sought is not different from the seeker, that the seeker is
the sought. In that experience there is no ‘self ‘ and no
‘other, ‘ because they are merely the mechanism subject and
object through which the dualistic manifestation occurs. In
the devotee ‘s experience the dualis-tic phenomenon is not
operative and conceptualizing is totally absent.

The point made here is that separation between the
devotee and his God has never been real what seems like
transcendence noumenally is actually immanence phenomenally.
It is essential to remember that the ‘norm ‘ is not
separation but integration, although our conditioning makes
us think otherwise. When this conditioning is overcome, as
in the case of a realized being, the excessively outward and
positive factors are counterbalanced by an intensive inward
negation of the pseudo-entity1, resulting in the
equilibrium of yoga-bhoomika that is our noumenal state, our
normal state. In this state all conceptual separation
between the self and the other, devotee and God, here and
there and all other interdependent opposites totally

One Cannot Exist without the Other

35. In this kind of non-dualistic devotion, there is no
separation between God and the devotee, because they can
quite easily take over each other ‘s roles. And wherever a
person (in that Self-realized state) establishes himself,
that becomes the seat of divine splendour.

36. That state is beyond the operation of space and time
and beyond all duality. In that immanence of the Absolute,
all relativity is lost and there is no difference between
God and his temple.

37. In that state where there is no separate existence of
God as such, how can there be any question of any
‘connection ‘ or relationship between God, Goddess and the
temple, or between God and the devotee? How then can one
even think of separation between one another in this
multifaced manifestation?

These verses point out that in the Self-realized state, a
sage does not differentiate between duality and non-duality.
He does not accept them as different but simply as two
aspects of the same thing

the noumenal is the subjective aspect and the phenomenal
is the objective aspect. In other words, even in a
split-second duration a kshana there cannot be any object
existing by itself apart from its subject. In temporality
the object is merely an appearance in the consciousness of
its subject, and intemporally there cannot be any concepts
at all. In no way can the identity of the noumenon and its
phenomena be sundered: noumenon is immanent in all phenomena
while at the same time transcending them. This-which-we-are,
the noumenon, while transcending that-which-we-appear-to-be,
is immanent therein; the identity of Shiva and Shakti is
absolute, and their separation as such is entirely notional.
It is in this indefectible identity

our absolute totality that one realizes with firm
conviction that ‘one ‘ could not possible exist as an
autonomous individual apart from the ‘other. ‘ And it is in
this conviction that the concepts of bondage and liberation
stand naked in their illusory shame.

In this understanding, the ‘one ‘ who prays to God
without any identity as a separate human being and without
expectation of any benefit from God is not different from
the ‘one ‘ who does not consider himself as being separate
from God, because in both cases the scourge of the ego is
wholly absent. In both cases the saint and the sage absence
of the ‘me-concept ‘ leaves only the presence of all there
is, ‘what-lS. ‘ From this point of view, Nisargadatta
Maharaj said that initially, it is the phenomena and nothing
else that seem ‘real ‘; with the glimmer of spiritual
knowledge, phenomena are realized as being ‘illusory, ‘
because the noumenon transcends the appearance of phenomena;
finally, when the spark of knowledge develops into the blaze
of Self-realization, the understanding is firmly established
that phenomena are illusory and yet real, because there
cannot be a shadow without a substance. There is realization
of the fact that the noumenon, while transcending phenomena,
is nevertheless immanent in the phenomena, and therefore the
subject and the object, the noumenal and the phenomenal, are
seen as not separate.

Sentient Beings Are the Mechanism for Life ‘s Drama

38. Even in this state, if there happens to arise the
desire to enjoy the relationship of the Guru and the
disciple or master and servant, consciousness establishes
such relationship between two appropriate sentient

39. In this relationship of love, it is consciousness
that creates and enjoys the various affective manifestations
in the form of love and ecstasy.

40. And in all these forms of manifestation, there is
nothing other than consciousness. (All are movements in
consciousness, cognized and experienced by consciousness
through or by means of the relevant phenomena.)

41. Why should all these manifestations not be considered
noumenal in nature, just as out of one vast mass of rock is
carved the temple and the god as well as the devotees?

Any curiosity about the effect of enlightenment on the
supposed individual ignores two basic facts. First,
‘enlightenment ‘ corn-ports the utter disappearance of any
entity as such; second, what may appear to be experiences of
divine love, universal brotherhood or physical or psychic
ecstasy are all affective, phenomenal manifestations which
are movements in consciousness. Therefore while seen in the
limited framework of the individual entity, these
experiences may appear to be transformations in the nature
or character of the individual concerned, they are
essentially movements in consciousness. The phenomena
concerned (the sentient beings) are merely the media through
which consciousness cognizes these movements, the actors
through whom life ‘s drama is acted.

In the Enlightened State, Action/Non-action Are

42. When a man observes silence, it makes no difference
whether he is dumb or can speak. Similarly, whether it is in
the form of God or a devotee, what is present is

43. When an image of God is devised with consecrated rice
and is thereafter worshipped with other consecrated rice, it
is only consecrated rice, whether as God or as the material
of worship.

44. If the flame is not asked to sheath itself with
light, will it remain without light?

45. If the moon is not asked to cover itself with
brightness, will it remain with its natural brightness or
without it?

46. Heat is natural in fire. Where is the question of
giving or not giving heat to the fire?

47. Does the ‘Shiva-ness ‘ of Shiva depend upon whether
he is worshipped or not?

48. In that state (of Self-realization), worshipping and
not wor-shipping, action and noil-action lose their
separateness and opposition.

49. It is for this reason that the state of enlightenment
is beyond words.

50. The description of this state attempted in the
Upanishads from the dualistic viewpoint could therefore be
construed as a criticism or slander but is in reality a
worshipful homage, because it all ends with a humble
confession of helplessness in the words ‘neti-neti ‘ (not
this, not that). In either case,

therefore, whether it is considered as slander or
worship, that

state is totally unaffected.

Nisargadatta Maharaj was very clear on this point. Quite
a few visitors felt enormously confused about Maharaj ‘s
ways. He was supposed to be a Jnani and yet he had ritual
prayers held in his abode three times a day. He smoked his
bidis (country-made cigarettes), ate whatever was placed
before him, vegetarian or non-vegetarian, and generally
seemed to live like any ordinary person. What is more, when
some visitor asked him what should be done to put Maharaj ‘s
teaching into practice in daily life, Maharaj would ask him
to establish himself firmly in the identity of his true
nature and then do whatever he wished to do. What Maharaj
meant, and what he expected the visitor to apprehend, was
that in the state of apperception which is enlightenment,
volition and choice of action are totally absent:
‘…worshipping and not-worshipping, action and non-action
lose their separateness and opposition. ‘ Whatever action
or non-action takes place is non-volitional action, and the
living becomes noumenal living.

Anyone who has truly apprehended it is impossible for him
to live independently according to his own sweet pleasure
would naturally cease having any intentions. When he is
convinced that living is a sort of dreaming in which he has
no control over his actions, all tensions cease and a sense
of total freedom takes over, so he is prepared to accept
whatever comes his way as proper and right in the totality
of the living that this dream-life is. The point is that the
apperception of life as a dream makes abundantly clear the
lack of autonomy or independence so far as the individual is
concerned; this makes it clear what one is not , which in
turn brings about the knowledge of what one is. Such
knowledge is, of course, conceptual; that state itself is
what we are, and therefore it is beyond conceiving. As
Nisargadatta Maharaj repeatedly said, there cannot be any
purposeful intention in the absence of a ‘me ‘; in the
absence of purposeful intentions, there cannot be
conceptualization; in the absence of conceptualization,
there cannot be any volitional action or non-action; in the
absence of volitional action or non-action, whatever happens
or occurs is noumenal action or noumenal living, and so the
circle is complete.

God Is Not an Object

51. Wherever the Jnani places his foot is his pilgrimage,
and if he does go on a pilgrimage, it is as if he has not
moved at all.

52. It is no wonder, therefore, that for the
Jnani-Bhakta, it makes no difference whether he stays in one
place or moves about from place to place.

53-54. Since the Jnani sees no difference between the
noumenon and the phenomena, whatever he sees is the form of
Shiva, and thus he enjoys the privilege of having seen
Shiva. On the other hand, if he does see the form of Shiva
(on a visit to the temple), it is not as if he has seen
anything out of the ordinary, because there is no difference
between Shiva and the Jnani.

Apart from the obvious on the surface of what is said,
Jnaneshwar seems to convey the deeper message that God is
not an object. An idol or an object may be a symbol
suggesting the presence of God, and the presence of God
means the absence of the presence of a ‘me ‘ (when
considered as separate from a ‘you ‘ or the ‘other ‘). The
Jnani-Bhakta has apperceived in all phenomena that immanence
which is the God-head, the divine nature, the divine

Tribute to the Guru

55-56. If a ball slips from ones fingers, it hits the
ground and by itself rises again. The non-volitional living
of the Jnani will be appreciated by one who has seen the
play of the ball being bounced with a plank of wood.

57-59. This devotion is of a nature where no disciplinary
practices are necessary and even knowledge has no relevance.
This kind of devotion has no beginning and no end and is
complete in itself. Can any simile of any kind about
temporal happiness be applied to this type of devotion? This
kind of devotion is a natural and spontaneous state in which
both Yogic practice and knowledge find their eternal rest
(have no relevance).

60. This state has negated not only the duality of
phenomenality and non-phenomenality but all other
interrelated concepts and dualities of name and form.

61. The conceptual duality of Shiva and Shakti has also
been negated, and their duality has merged in this

62. All objects and all words have merged in this state
and conceptualization has also ceased.

63. Oh, my Lord Gum, what a state you have brought me
into, in which I am the giver and I am the taker; I am both
the giving and the taking.

64. The wonder of it all is that you have awakened one
who was never asleep and put one to sleep who was never

65. You and I are not different, yet out of your love and
affection you call me your own. Since I have no existence
apart from

you (like a wave has no existence apart from the sea),
this demonstration of duality within the unicity is your
unique achievement.

66. You do not take anything from anyone else and you do
not give anything to anyone else yet inexplicably you enjoy
the relationship of Guru and disciple.

67. You are the fullness of potential and yet you are
hollow and light enough (like a boat) to carry your disciple
to liberation (in this sea of phenomenal suffering). It is
only one who has totally surrendered to you who can
understand this curious fact.

68. You have given me my share of your unicity and yet
your unicity has not been at all affected, and so you have
been the object of worship of all the Shastras (Hindu

69. Indeed, my beloved Guru, only he is very dear to you
who, having given up all difference between the self and the
other, becomes your close relation.

In the spirit of this incomparably lovely obeisance
byjnaneshwar to his Guru, I would immerse myself with the
utmost reverence and humility in obeisance to my Guru,
Varama Poojya Nisargadatta Maharaj, whose grace guided me in
preparing this English rendering of