Someone comes to Nisargadatta and says, “We are like animals running about in vain pursuits and there seems to be no end to it. Is there a way out” (I Am That, p. 414).
What clear insight. How astute.
And Nisargadatta replies, “What prevents you from knowing yourself as all and beyond all is the mind, which is based on memory. It has power over you as long as you trust it. Don’t struggle with it–just disregard it. Deprived of attention, it will slow down and reveal the mechanism of its working. Once you know its nature and purpose, you will not allow it to create imaginary problems” (p. 414).
My word is that good!
But before you can disregard it, you need to be open to the possibility that you are not the mind. Next, you need to be able to observe the mind arising: arising as thoughts and emotions and then falling away. Mind arising is arising thought. And, finally, you need to begin to see that identification with the mind is, so observed at such a distance, that which has been preventing you from going beyond said identification.
At which point, yes, you can begin, as Nisargadatta says, disregarding the mind. And, yes, once it is “deprived of attention,” it will “slow down,” showing you its inner workings.
As The Diamond Sutra says, “Mind arises, but I do not abide.” Who is this “I” that does not abide?
Nisargadatta later states, “[A]ll are faced with the fact of their own existence. ‘I am’ is the ultimate fact. ‘Who am I?’ is the ultimate question to which everybody must find an answer” (p. 416).
Right again, though everything depends on that enormous, tenuous “must.” And that “must” won’t likely strike like a viper until one has appreciated the magnitude and apparent endlessness of one’s suffering and until one has begun to be open to the possibility that that suffering is brought about by the false, but sticky, identification with the body-mind. The “must” leaps forth once the truths that are commonly espoused–most notably, I was born and I will die–hit you with the force of their falsity. Or at least once genuine doubt arises like vapors from nowhere.