Nisargadatta’s I Am That: Crucial Distinctions In Advaita Vedanta

In Nisargadatta’s I Am That, we find an astonishingly clear articulation of important features of the teaching of Advaita Vedanta.

Three distinctions in particular are used to good effort:

1.) Change / changelessness:

  • Whatever changes is unreal.
  • Whatever is unchanging is real.


  • Whatever changes is unhappiness.
  • Whatever is unchanging is happiness.

Ponder this. Is it true? See how pondering it “drives you inward.”

2.) Dependence / independence:

  • Whatever is dependent is unreal.
  • Whatever is independent is real.

Ponder this:

  • The world depends on the senses. In this sense (and also because it is changing), the world is unreal.
  • The senses depend on the mind. Example: seeing depends on the concept of color. Therefore, the senses are unreal.
  • But the mind depends on the witness. Since the mind is nothing apart from thought, the witness is that which is aware of the thought. Therefore, the mind too is unreal.
  • But the witness falls back into I Am. 
  • And when one abides deeply and earnestly in and as I Am, I Am falls back into the Supreme State, the Absolute.
    • Only the Absolute is independent.
    • Therefore, only the Absolute is real.

3.) Subject / object:

  • The subject is not the object. 
  • OR: The witness is not the witnessed.
  • OR: The perceived is not the perceived.


  • If I am aware of seeing, am I identical with seeing? (No.)
  • If I am aware of anger, am I identical with anger? (No.)
  • If I am aware of mind (= thought), am I the mind? (No.)


  • If the witness is without anything to witness, is it true that what remains, so far as the “first vibration of manifestation goes,” is simply I Am? See.