I Am That

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9780893860462: I Am That

Back cover This collection of the timeless teachings of one of the greatest sages of India, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, is a testament to the uniqueness of the seer's life and work and is regarded by many as a modern spiritual classic. I Am That (first published in 1973) continues to draw new audiences and to enlighten seekers anxious for self-realization. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj was a teacher who did not propound any ideology or religion, but gently unwrapped the mystery of the self. His message was simple, direct, and sublime. I Am That preserves his dialogs with the followers who came from around the world seeking guidance in destroying false identities. The sage's sole concern was with the human suffering and the ending of suffering. It was his mission to guide the individual to an understanding of his true nature and the timelessness of being. He taught that the mind must recognize and penetrate its own state of being--not "being this or that, here or there, then or now," but just timeless being. A simple man, Maharaj was a householder and petty storekeeper in Bombay where he lived and died in 1981 at the age of 84. He had not been educated formally but came to be respected and loved for his insights into the crux of human pain and for the extraordinary lucidity of his direct disclosure. Hundreds of diverse seekers traveled the globe and sought him out in his unpretentious home in Bombay (now Mumbai) to hear him. To all of them, he gave hope that "beyond the real experience is not the mind, but the self, the light in which everything appears ... the awareness in which everything happens." In the humble abode of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, but for the electric lights and the noises of the street traffic, one would not know in which period of human history one dwells. There is an atmosphere of timelessness about his tiny room; the subjects discussed are timeless -- valid for all times; the way they are expounded and examined is also timeless; the centuries, millennia and yugas fall off and one deals with matters immensely ancient and eternally new. The discussions held and teachings given would have been the same ten thousand years ago and will be the same ten thousand years hence. There will always be conscious beings wondering about the fact of their being conscious and enquiring into its cause and aim. Whence am I? Who am I? Whither am I? Such questions have no beginning and no end. And it is crucial to know the answers, for without a full understanding of oneself, both in time and in timelessness, life is but a dream, imposed on us by powers we do not know, for purposes we cannot grasp. I Am That is a legacy from a unique teacher who helps the reader to a clearer understanding of himself as he comes to Maharaj with the age-old question, "Who am I?" Seekers were never turned away from the humble abode of Maharaj during his life and can still find their answers to this timeless question in the pages of this book today.

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About the Author:

When asked about the date of his birth Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj replied blandly that he was never born! Not only the exact date of his birth is unknown, but no verified facts concerning the early years of his life are available. However, according to his elderly relatives, he was born in the month of March 1897 on a full moon day, which coincided with the festival of Hanuman Jayanti, when Hindus pay their homage to Hanuman, also named Maruti, the monkey-god of Ramayana fame. And to associate his birth with this auspicious day his parents named him Maruti. Available information about his boyhood and early youth is patchy and disconnected. His father, Shivrampant, was a poor man, who worked for some time as a domestic servant in Bombay and, later, eked out his livelihood as a petty farmer in a small village in the State of Maharashtra (India). Maruti grew up almost without education. As a boy he assisted his father in such labors as lay within his power -- tended cattle, drove oxen, worked in the fields and ran errands. His pleasures were simple, as his labors, but he was gifted with an inquisitive mind, bubbling over with questions of all sorts. When Maruti attained the age of eighteen his father died, leaving behind his widow, four sons and two daughters. The meager income from the small farm dwindled further after the old man s death and was not sufficient to feed so many mouths. Maruti s elder brother left the village for Bombay in search of work and he followed shortly after. In Bombay he worked for a few months as a low-paid junior clerk in an office, but resigned the job in disgust. He then took petty trading as a haberdasher and started a shop for selling children s clothes, tobacco, and hand-rolled country cigarettes (bidis). This business flourished in course of time, giving him some sort of financial security. During this period he got married and had a son and three daughters. Childhood, youth, marriage, progeny -- Maruti lived the usual humdrum and eventless life of a common man till his middle age, with no inkling at all of the sainthood that was to follow. Through a friend he met with his future guru Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj, a spiritual teacher of the Navanath Sampradaya, a sect of Hinduism. That meeting proved to be the turning point in his life. The guru gave him a mantra and instructions in meditation. Early in his practice he started having visions and occasionally even fell into trances. Something exploded within him, as it were, giving birth to a cosmic consciousness, a sense of eternal life. The identity of Maruti, the petty shopkeeper, dissolved and the illuminating personality of Sri Nisargadatta emerged. Later, abandoning his family and business he became a mendicant, a pilgrim over the vastness and variety of the Indian religious scene. He walked barefooted on his way to the Himalayas where he planned to pass the rest of his years in quest of an eternal life. But he soon retraced his steps and came back home, comprehending the futility of such a quest. Eternal life, he perceived, was not to be sought for; he already had it. Having gone beyond the I-am-the-body idea, he had acquired a mental state so joyful, peaceful, and glorious that everything appeared to be worthless compared to it. He had attained self-realization. Uneducated though the Master is, his conversation is enlightened to an extraordinary degree. He is warm-hearted and tender, shrewdly humorous, absolutely fearless and absolutely true -- inspiring, guiding, and supporting all who come to him. Maharaj died on September 8, 1981 at the age of 84.

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Nisargadatta Maharaj; Translated by Maurice Frydman
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