Whoever reads Seeds of Consciousness: The Wisdom of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj from a literary point of view can’t but ache.
I cite just three examples:
- A man wearing ocher robes has been playing the spiritual game for 25 years and still doesn’t get it. For instance, Nisargadatta asks him, “Who is it that says this?” and the man answers, “Probably the Self” (p. 62, my italics). The man, it becomes clear in the dialogue, is obstinately proud and spiritually ignorant and both are evident in his modeling, again and again, the ‘right responses’ to Nisargadatta’s genuine questions. (Out of grandmotherly compassion, a Zen master would have hit him with an incense stick and then told him to leave.) I feel my heart ache when I see this man, who’s gotten so used to playing the “spiritual game,” wasting his precious time.
- Nisargadatta observes of his questioner: “You are not very steady mentally. Whenever I talk I want you to go to the source instead you go forward. You don’t perceive the source. Can you ask questions” (p. 162)? What perceptiveness! What compassion! The man then proceeds to ask a question, “How was the first body made?,” that is not germane to finding the Self. Nisargadatta: “Whether the first or the last, the process is identical” (p. 162). He goes on later: “Here you will not get the reply of words. Dwell in the source. Stabilize there and you will get your reply” (p. 162).
- Someone who presumes to know what he does not. It is especially painful to read the following: “Q[uestioner]: I came for what I have.” “M[aharaj]: Still I have to say that you have not fully understood your presence, your beingness. If you really understand it, everything would be thrown overboard” (p. 169). The questioner only has intellectual understanding but believes he has true, direct, intuitive understanding when he does not. Oh, how the heart aches.
I imagine, day after day, Nisargadatta meeting people where they are. By turns, he pleads, cajoles, argues, and above all points to the nameless absolute. How many listen with their entire hearts? How many really ‘get it’?
At one point, he says that he is like a mother who sees those who come as his children. We need to read this, published in 1979, not as a patriarchal or a patronizing statement since it is neither. It is an analogy the point of which is to reveal that Nisargadatta is teaching out of love.
And the ache? Yes, the ache comes from recognizing that only some of his students could fully receive his love because only these could recognize that they are that very same love.