Book: I Am Not The Body – Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj


If you like this article and want to read this book, you can buy it here: I Am Not The Body

I Am Not The Body – Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Ram Dass, Ramesh Balsekar, Rupert Spira, Mooji, Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Liquorman and Stephen Wolinsky have all spoken about the influence of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj in their respective spiritual journeys. Some of the above have even written books about the teachings of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. And you are probably familiar with Maharaj’s book I Am Thata book released in 1973 that had a massive, global influence in the area of non-daulity/Advaita Vedanta and in bringing Eastern philosophy to the West. 

I Am Not The Body - Sri Nisargadatta MaharajThis article however is not about that book, it’s about a more recent one, although I Am That is still in print and is in its 19th edition as of 1999. What I’m writing about today is called I Am Not The Body. Both books are given an authorship of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj but neither of them were actually penned by him. Both are actually transcripts of teachings he gave to students who visited his home. The transcripts of I Am That were made in the 1960s with the ones that make up this book being recorded towards the end of his life in 1979/80. The book was put together by Nic Highham, a British counselor, therapist and non-daulity teacher.

Let’s begin with a quote:

“As long as one identifies with the body’s form, there will be apparent bondage due to the body’s activities. This is why many find it difficult to remain alone, the sense of being is miserable, and empty.”

The book then is really a way of seeing this bondage, learning to deal with it and offers a way out of it by showing the reader that we should not be identifying with our bodies (ours minds and conditioning being part of that) but rather to be with the conscious awareness that we all have. 

In the book, Maharaj invites us to question our identification with our physical body and explore the deeper dimensions of consciousness and self-realization.The central theme of I Am Not The Body revolves around the understanding that one’s true nature is not limited to the physical body but is actually pure consciousness. He emphasizes that identifying yourself solely with the body and the associated roles and identities is a source of suffering and bondage. By recognizing the underlying essence of consciousness, people can liberate themselves from the limitations imposed by the body-mind complex.

Another quote: 

“There is nothing to become, only to understand. There is no need to practice a method. Know what you have heard but do not linger as a knower. The knowing and the knowledge should be known directly. If you ask me what should I do, I will tell you to change ‘Jai Guru, Jai Guru,’ and have full enduring faith. With this chanting, the Sadguru within you will shine, and the knowledge of that Guru will manifest. Then you will attain your True Self. If you ask me to tell you the truth, I will tell you that you’ll know when you realize it. Set aside your worries about this question right now. All is well.”

Anyone who knows with the likes of Spira and Ram Dass above will find that very familiar. This kind of approach does ruffle feathers among people of a Western-spiritual persuasion as they prefer some kind of guidance when the answers we find within aren’t to our liking but Maharaj’s advice on that would be for even further self-inquiry. 

Throughout the book, Maharaj engages in dialogues, addressing questions but the overriding theme is that all of the answers can be found within the Self. He explains various aspects of spirituality, shedding light on the nature of reality and the illusory nature of the personal Self. Maharaj emphasizes the importance of self-inquiry as a means to realize one’s true nature. He encourages readers to investigate the fundamental question, “Who am I?” and to discern the difference between the transient aspects of the body-mind and the eternal presence of pure consciousness. Through self-inquiry, individuals can discover their inherent freedom and recognize that they are not limited by their physical form.

A quote on that:

“Meditation on consciousness will open up all avenues of the knowledge of the Self. There will be no need to ask anyone to explain anything to you. In this world, there is nothing higher than self-knowledge because with self-knowledge you will see for yourself that you are eternal and always free.”

The book also explores the notion of the ego, which Maharaj describes as a construct of the mind that creates a sense of individual identity. He explains that the ego is merely a collection of thoughts, memories, and conditioning that creates a false sense of separation from the world and other people. Maharaj invites readers to observe the activities of the mind and to recognize that they are not the mind itself but the witnessing presence behind it.

He delves deeply into the nature of perception and experience and highlights that all experiences, whether pleasant or painful, arise within consciousness and are transient by their very nature, that simple have to be, what else can they be? By recognizing that one is not the experiencer but the awareness in which experiences come and go, we can cultivate detachment and find liberation.

This isn’t the kind of book you’re going to read in one sitting…well, you can if you want, I mean who am I to tell you what to do but rather it’s the type where you can read a chapter and let it sink in, play with the ideas you’re being taught and examine them. Let’s finish off then with one final quote that I’d like to invite you to play with:

“Pure Awareness is formless, luminous, sinless. It is all-powerful and whole, and its nature is not affected by unreality. Live with self-confidence. Meditate on my words. Stand aloof from the mind, and you will discern the falsehood of concepts, ideas and myths. I am formless, unblemished, pure, spotless. I have no birth and death.”

If you like this article and want to read this book, you can buy it here: I Am Not The Body

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