All Chapter Titles (#01 through #101), quotations and page numbers are cited from:

"I Am That, Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, " recorded and translated by Maurice Frydman, edited by Sudhakar S. Dikshit, The Acorn Press, Durham, N.C., 1999


#19 Reality lies in Objectivity



"I contain all, nothing contains me." Nisargadatta, p.61

Musing this morning, trying to remember when "the spiritual
life" left me... The concept, the desire for,
the belief in spiritual life seems irretrievably gone.
What has replaced it? E-commerce of the soul?
The practicalities? The dualities of life? All existence, experience
is particular, all dissolves into eating, sleeping, walking, studying,
exercise, reading, aloneness, writing poems. There is nothing
beyond the doing. The world is now! -- tight
as the skin enclosing my body. Will guts,
muscle and bone spill out if I
peal away its gentle elasticity? Do I want
to bleed? Do I want to find my soul?

#20 The Supreme is Beyond All



"...since no desire or fear enters my mind, there is perfect silence." Nisargadatta, p.67

The truth, of course, is contrary to that. Desire
and fear are constant companions, especially before dawn
in the beauty and peace of the morning
when "the compulsion to satisfy is absent." Fear
of living one more day in the high-blood-pressure world
men have made, fear of more stress, more anxiety,
more desire for peace and belief, more desire
for contentment haunt me as contentment completely cocoons
me up here with the budding trees, crows,
blue sky, the transcendent happiness of being up top
with Mt. Rainier, ethereal, snow-covered and wan. Why
exactly do I wake each day depressed, anxious, fearful?

#21 Who Am I



"Pursue any desire, it will always give you trouble." Nisargadatta, p.70

It felt so good to walk again; I walked
myself into a state of exhaustion Tuesday. I
could not stop exercising. Woke myself up so
completely at night that I could not sleep,
and therefore did not write a poem on Wednesday,
dove into bed at four in the afternoon, foot
hurting, and slept almost until two after reading from
"Rivers of Blood..." which made my heart weep
for all the treasures of one half of mankind
destroyed by the other half. But it is all
illusion, says Nisargadatta. I'm willing to believe that
but, nonetheless, my heart weeps, just because I am.

#22 Life Is Love And Love Is Life



"...apparent lethargy may be just a gathering of strength." Nisargadatta, p. 74

Perhaps I have not lost my faith; perhaps it
has gone into a wormhole, into dimensions where
I cannot follow, where even memory cannot follow.
My memory grows worse day by day, my fear
and my desire, but faith, even unconscious faith, says
Nisargadatta, is stronger than destiny. What was my destiny?
What is it now? I have changed, but I
have not changed. "What is there that needs
changing? What is wrong with me?" I settle into
my bones, I do what I do. Fear and
desire will dissolve like calcium, leaving a chill
across my chest. Memory will stop destroying my consciousness.

"Forgetfullness is the most valuable thing about memory." Borges, Borges the Poet, p.54

#23 Discrimination leads to Detachment



"I am my world. My world is myself. It is complete and perfect." Nisargadatta, p. 79

Unless Nisargadatta is talking about the wholly subjective experience
of living in a body that functions in millions
of ways all by itself with no attention
from one, one's consciousness, will, or awareness, I don't
have a clue what he means. One sits, as
he describes it, passively within the body as
if in a theatre and watches the body and
all the world perform. One is aware but unconcerned.
There is no place else to go. What happens
happens, what doesn't happen doesn't happen. That's easy enough.
N'est pas? Why should one want more? Why should
one think for a moment that there is more?

#24 God is the All-doer, the Gnani a Non-doer



" free from the urge to create and re-create worlds of desires, abodes of pain and pleasure.." Nisargadatta, p. 87

Horrors in the night, nightmares from "Rivers of Blood,
Rivers of Gold," trying in my mind's eye, in
the mellifluous language I know so well,
to state -- what? -- the obliterating of the individual? Spaniards
arrive: my peaceful night annihilated, city, body and consciousness --
the death of "I am." Head chopped, blood spurting,
I am not. High up here where the cosmic
dust is thicker and richer, headless, I can no
longer sponge the floor, pick up the darkness laid
down by nothingness. The light of all the translucent
world goes out when "I am" no more. The
abhorrent ruthlessness of history disappears when "I am" dead.

#25 Hold on to 'I am'



"The world has no existence apart from you." Nisargadatta, p. 94

The vased cherry blossoms by the wall are not
trying to be beautiful. They are beautiful pink against
blue sky, beautiful on grass, beautiful by the wall,
in my hair, by nature. They are. Beautiful. They
do not strive. Their bloom lasts a week or
two. They die. Humans enjoy the poignancy. But blossoms
will come again. Or not. Think of the eight
or ten million or twenty millions of Americans killed
by the Spanish, by disease, by the sword, by
the dogs. Each "I am" disappeared. The world concluded.
Neither Aztec, Inca nor "Redskin" able to say: "I
am not." To be not is to say nothing.

#26 Personality, an Obstacle



" is tremendously important to have heard that there is enligntenment..." Nisargadatta, p. 98

The late sun shines in the window
-- daylight saving has begun. The birds twitter. I am
impatient to walk the dawn, breathing. Bliss is in
my bones, light shines from my heart. I watch
minuscule plants grow from a seed dot, the wee
leaves twinning out, nodding toward the light, unresistent to
their code. Nasturtiums pop up, leggy in the light,
bowing to the sun. Whether Yogi or Bhogi matters
not. At peace today, I, too, will not resist
my coding. I have heard of enlightenment. I see
the sun rise above the dawn, I have noted
the Lung-gom-pas, chained, floating off into the blue sky.

#27 The Beginningless Begins Forever



"To be nothing, to have nothing, to keep nothing for oneself is the greatest gift, the highest generosity" Nisargadatta, p. 107

Had I given the leaf of lace
to Jere, I would not be troubled with thoughts
of a Plexiglas box. Beauty creates vacillation
between being and not being. "Nothing exists by itself."
Though the description of a dream is detailed, accurate,
convincing, it is but a dream. Courage is love.
When Toba exploded, most of the world's people died.
When the Spaniards reached America, most of America's people
died. Being one moment. Not being the next. Give
away what you can while there is time. Time
will cease as well. Shut your eyes. Dream. Open
your eyes. Know the world is what you see.

#28 All Suffering is Born of Desire



"...whatever it [the self] perceives it takes to be itself. Battered, it learns... to live alone." Nisargadatta, p. 110

I am that, and that is all
I am. The wild rain in the night wakes
me, I feel awful, I feel nauseous.
I get up, exercise and feel better. The body
is like a barometer reading the condition
of the soul. I kiss the cherry blossom, one
petal clings to my lips. I am grateful, amused.
If I slow down sufficiently, I see the beauty
of being, I walk through the dark, the light,
the space, notice, after awhile, the wind, the silence.
The rain has stopped. My nausea is at bay.
My soul has melted to the nothingness of words.

#29 Living is Life's only Purpose



" ...nothing can trouble you but your own imagination..." Nisargadatta, p. 113

Sick to my stomach this morning, pain
irritable bowels, feverish, and yet, for all that, not
much different than usual. At times, I
give up in despair, terror. Will I ever feel
healthy and energetic again? O yes, I
can be frenetic, get things done each day, but
always the fatigue, darkness of the mind
-- which gets worse if I stay in bed to
assuage the fatigue. So forget the body, Gnani says,
watch the pain, don't participate in the illusion. But
which is illusion? Stomach-ache, Gnani or disregarding madmen who
despite flood, fire, fever, careen to work each day?

#30 You are Free NOW



"The universe is but a partial manifestation of your limitless capacity to become." Nisargadatta, p. 121

The embarrassment of Koolhaas last night! -- rude,
boorish. A case of the Emperor's New Clothes? Has
Koolhaas ("kwely" monikered!) run amuck -- fame, riches,
his own fat ego in fashionable fleshless black? His
observations coinciding with my own: the magnitude
of insane shopping, "gone maddest," he says, "in Africa"
the capital-quantification of economics-ridden America, the inability
for even he to be outrageous enough to be
sacked by frenetic manipulateable patrons. He deserved
the non-working slides test! Was it Dutch-made slides? Imperfections
usual to University of Washington equipment? Koolhaas Karma? Have
I seen one building of his worth the arrogance?

#31 Do not Undervalue Attention



"...the perfect mirror is such that you cannot see it. Whatever you can see is bound to be a stain." Nisargadatta, p. 126

There is a certain irritability in my
friendships, toward the people I like best and -- I
noticed yesterday, after learning of the death
of Leah -- that mirrors the relationship I have with
myself -- a certain irritability. Maybe it takes
dissatisfaction to initiate movement, like throwing sand to make
traction on snow. Everything is pure, white,
clean and beautiful, but you can't go anyplace until
there's friction, the grain of sand to
make the pearl. I used to think my steps
along the gravely path left miracle dust
for known and unknown others. I know Leah's did.

#32 Life is the Supreme Guru



" of all self-concern, be open for discovery." Nisargadatta, p. 132

Leah inhabits my life, my heart, my concern.
She did leave me a second letter. It arrived
yesterday. It is enough to know she
did not want to live blind. Her joie de
persisted, but the coping became too
much, the not wanting to live at the mercy
of others, of medicine, of not being
able to dance in the world to her own
rhythm. Off she chose to go. How
pleased I am with her, how glad. I would/
will choose the same solution -- if necessary.
I wish she had left the formula. She probably

knew a vet, who let her die as
easily as a cat. What mercy we (some of
us) show our pets. Others torment them,
as we torment our fellows, with (sic) "life support."
Not Leah. Happy voyage, Leah! Though I
do not so much feel you have gone, as
that you sit here with the rest
of the Gods, spinning good fortune, miracles, by dying
becoming more useful, distributing gifts, loving all,
being helpful to me. Thank you. I'll know who
the prize comes from when it gets
here. I'll dance, shout and sing Hallelujah, Amazing Grace!

#33 Everything Happens by Itself



"To watch the universe emerging and subsiding in one's heart is a wonder." Nisargadatta, p. 140

"Itself" -- odd and glorious word containing both human
and divine, oneness, neutrality, persona. I search the horizon
for sunrise; yesterday Charles extolled its glory. I
patrol the self to see the rise and fall
of the universe. "It" and "self" stalk the Tao,
pink with fallen cherry blossom petals. After
noon, Aldona visits: Polish, awkwardly beautiful in
the asymmetrical way of divinity itself. While she gave
her fine, intense, exquisitely drawn presentation in
Vikram's class, in her elbow-y, hunched way, I visioned
her in one of Bertolucci's magical, early
films of beauty, life and glory BEFORE THE REVOLUTION.*

"He who has not lived before the revolution does not know how sweet life can be." Talleyrand

#34 Mind is Restlessness Itself



"It is the taking of yourself to be what you are not that binds you." Nisargadatta, p. 143

Even as I begin, I begin the concealing.
I have an exaggerated sense of who I am,
who I want to be. Why do I
want to be "who"? Why can I not be
who I am? I ask Leah (in my
heart) now that she is everyone, everywhere, to cleanse
my heart of anxiety, fear, shame. Let
it go, let it go. Shame of being who
I am. Fear of being who I
am. Anxiety at being who I am. Let them
all go. The who changes every day.
The fear, the shame remain. "Who" remains timorously invisible.

#35 Greatest Guru is Your Inner Self



"It is your idea that you have to do things that entangle you in the results of your efforts..." Nisargadatta, p. 148

If you imagine yourself in control, you should
also imagine yourself as responsible. Let the inner self
manifest itself. A body is a room: There --
but you don't have to be in it all
the time. Stand in the wind and rain.
Even the cherry blossoms dance for the dark glowing
storm. Shave your head, shave your sister's head.
Take a vow. Attend the labor, not the fruits.
The sun shines on the new buds,
they burst into leaf-song. The Eastern sky is leaden
blue, every Western-facing surface in Seattle gleams
like gold. New-minted poplar leaves trumpet winter's late fall.

#36 Killing Hurts the Killer, not the Killed



"By all means help the world. You will not help much, but the effort will make you grow." Nisargadatta, p. 160

Hollowness. Howlessness. I once wrote a poem called
HOWLESSNESS. I must write a poem called HOLLOWNESS. "There
is nothing that cannot be achieved by training."
Nisargadatta recommends: "This is not me, this is not
mine. I am beyond all this." The sun,
rising today, will go down. I am at peace.
My friend Eva is with me for today.
Lately, we have known many deaths. But death does
not welcome us. Yet. We go on. Overnight,
twenty daffodils bloomed. Birds sang at dawn. Now they
are silent. Wisps of grey seep beneath
the window sash, the tef* droops in green splendor.

*An Ethiopian grain

Entr'acte II

Copyright © 2002 Jan Haag
Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail:





21st CENTURY ART, C.E. - B.C., A Context