Realization is not an action somebody accomplishes. The idea of realizing the self implies a path from an unrealized self to a realized self. Realization of the self as a goal cannot be permanent. Something permanent has no beginning and no end. Hence the goal is already there, the self is always realized. The intention to realize the Self is itself a hindrance. Our nature is always free but we are making huge efforts to become free. Who is making these efforts and trying to realize the self? It is the I-thought that has wrongly identified itself with the mind that veils our happiness and makes realization of the self a goal. This implies two selves. A non realized self and a goal, a realized self. And here starts the whole process of searching. Going to a guru, performing rituals, reciting mantras, doing prostrations, meditating, reading books and taking all kinds of hardships upon us to walk firmly on the path towards realization hoping to reach our goal in this life. The irony in all this striving for realization is that we have never been separated from our true self. We falsely believe it to be found somewhere, to experience it, to realize it, because we search with our mind and the mind can only exist in duality. So, our task is to find the real nature of the mind. We will discover that there is no such thing as a mind. It is in understanding that we are not the body, neither the mind that we will unveil our true self and the I-thought will be transcended eventually. We already know this freedom. If we wouldn’t know it, why would we spend our lives searching for it? But we must take care not to use wrong tools. It lies in the palm of our hands. It is beauty and love in its purest essence. We are that, lets embrace it in silence and cut those chains that hold us prisoners.
Q: Is self-realization so important?
M: Without it, you will be consumed by desires and fears, repeating themselves meaninglessly in endless suffering. Most of the people do not know that there can be an end to pain. But once they have heard the good news, obviously going beyond all strife and struggle is the most urgent task that can be. You know that you can be free and now it is up to you. Either you remain forever hungry and thirsty, longing, searching, grabbing, holding, ever losing and and sorrowing, or go out wholeheartedly in search of the state of timeless perfection to which nothing can be added, from which nothing taken away. In it all desires and fears are absent, not because they were given up, but because they have lost their meaning.
— Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj – I Am That – Chapter 69 – p. 315-316
You and I know many people who have been searching for many, many years, twenty years, thirty years, forty years, for the answers to life, for reality, yet they’re still in the same place they started twenty years ago. They have gone through all kinds of things. They’ve been to many places. They met certain teacher, but they’re still the same.
For they’ve never really investigated themselves. They say they do. They say they’ve been working on themselves for years, nothing has happened. But have they really been working on themselves? What they’ve been doing is sort of just thinking about it a little bit, reading books. But they’ve never dived deep enough in the Self to find the answers. And this is exactly what you have to do.
You have to dive deep, deep, deep within yourself, deeper than you can ever imagine. And the only way you can do this is by giving up the external world, mentally, not physically. In other words, by not reacting to things. To observe things, watch the world go by, leave it alone. It’s neither good nor bad. It has nothing to offer you.
— Robert Adams – Who Are You?
Once you realize that the world is your own projection, you are free of it. You need not free yourself of a world that does not exist, except in your own imagination! However is the picture, beautiful or ugly, you are painting it and you are not bound by it. Realize that there is nobody to force it on you, that it is due to the habit of taking the imaginary to be real. See the imaginary as imaginary and be free of fear.
— Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj – I Am That
There are no steps to self-realization. There is nothing gradual about it. It happens suddenly and is irreversible. You rotate into a new dimension, seen from which the previous ones are mere abstractions. Just like on sunrise you see things as they are, so on self-realization you see everything as it is. The world of illusions is left behind.
— Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj – I am That
That which you are, your true self, you love it, and whatever you do, you do for your own happiness. To find it, to know it, to cherish it is you basic urge. Be true to your own self, love your self absolutely. Do not pretend that you love others as yourself. Unless you have realized them as one with yourself, you cannot love them. Don’t pretend to be what you are not, don’t refuse to be what you are. Your love of others is the result of self-knowledge, not its cause. Without self-realization, no virtue is genuine. When you know beyond all doubting that the same life flows through all that is and you are that life, you will love all naturally and spontaneously.
When you realize the depth and fullness of your love of yourself, you know that every living being and the entire universe are included in your affection. But when you look at anything as separate from you, you cannot love it for you are afraid of it. Alienation causes fear, and fear deepens alienation. It is a vicious circle. Only self-realization can break it.
— Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj – I am That
This is love: to fly toward a secret sky,
to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment.
First, to let go of life.
In the end, to take a step without feet;
to regard this world as invisible,
and to disregard what appears to be the self.
Heart, I said, what a gift it has been
to enter this circle of lovers,
to see beyond seeing itself,
to reach and feel within the breast.
— Jalalud’din Rumi – The Divani Shamsi Tabriz, XIII
You cannot possibly say that you are what you think yourself to be! Your ideas about yourself change from day to day and from moment to moment. Your self-image is the most changeful thing you have. It is utterly vulnerable, at the mercy of a passerby. A bereavement, the loss of a job, an insult, and your image of yourself, which you call your person, changes deeply. To know what you are, you must first investigate and know what you are not. And to know what you are not, you must watch yourself carefully, rejecting all that does not necessarily go with the basic fact: ‘I am’. The ideas: I am born at a given place, at a given time, from my parents and now I am so-and-so, living at, married to, father of, employed by, and so on, are not inherent in the sense ‘I am’. Our usual attitude is of ‘I am this’. Separate consistently and perseveringly the ‘I am’ from ‘this’ or ‘that’ and try to feel what it means to be, just to be, without being ‘this’ or ‘that’. All our habits go against it and the task of fighting them is long and hard sometimes, but clear understanding helps a lot. The clearer you understand that on the level of the mind you can be described in negative terms only, the quicker you will come to the end of your search and realize your limitless being.
— Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj – I Am Not – To Know What you Are, Find What you Are Not (p. 56)
When (other) thoughts arise, one should not pursue them, but should inquire: ‘To whom do they arise?’ It does not matter how many thoughts arise. As each thought arises, one should inquire with diligence, ‘To whom has this thought arisen?’. The answer that would emerge would be ‘to me’. Thereupon if one inquires ‘Who am I?’, the mind will go back to its source; and the thought that arose will become quiescent. With repeated practice in this manner, the mind will develop the skill to stay in its source. When the mind that is subtle goes out through the brain and the sense-organs, the gross names and forms appear; when it stays in the heart, the names and forms disappear. Not letting the mind go out, but retaining it in the Heart is what is called ‘inwardness’ (antarmukha). Letting the mind go out of the Heart is known as ‘externalisation’ (bahirmukha). Thus, when the mind stays in the Heart, the ‘I’ which is the source of all thoughts will go, and the Self which ever exists will shine. Whatever one does, one should do without the egoity ‘I’. If one acts in that way, all will appear as of the nature of Siva (God).
— Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi – Who Am I? – 11. What is the means for constantly holding on to the thought ‘Who am I?’