|What Am I? Galen Sharp
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#3130 - Tuesday, April
8, 2008 - Editor: Jerry Katz
Nonduality Highlights - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights
Someone posed the following question. How would you respond? Send your response to the senders of
this email or to the Nonduality Salon list. We may publish your letter in the Highlights.
QUESTION (sender is anonymous):
I am having difficulty with something that Nisargadatta Maharaj is quoted as saying:
"Once you know that the body alone dies and not the continuity of memory and the sense of I am
reflected in it, you are afraid no longer."
Surely when the body dies there can be no memory as there is no instrument to cognize with. The
brain holds the memory which is made up of mindstuff, and when that dies surely there can be no
persistence of memory?
Maybe the quote is a translation mistake?
I know that we are the one beingness and always will be that, but in my experience it is a state of
no thing,and no knowing.
Are you able to enlighten me on this point?
RESPONSE (by Jerry):
Nisargadatta does not say that memory or the sense of I Am reflected in it continue to live after
death of the body. That only seems to be implied. But let's say he meant that memory lives on
I looked up the context in which the statement was made. As you can see below, Nisargadatta was
addressing a man who feared death and who could not psychologically handle the break-up of a love
affair. He'd rather commit suicide than experience another unhappy love affair. This man did not
have a stable or developed sense of his nature, and that was the level at which he was addressed.
It could be that Maharaj was trying to keep this man from killing himself, by bringing him to a
mood of greater reality than the one in which he was immersed.
In other words, once this man understands that he is not the body and the emotions, he can live in
the world from the place of I AM and have no fear. Maharaj's statements were intended for that man
in that situation.
The passage is from I Am That. The text of the entire book is online. The following portion, which
includes the passage cited above, is from http://www.celextel.org/otherbooks/iamthat.html?page=15
Maharaj: What made you go to the Ashram?
Q: I had an unhappy love affair and suffered hell. Neither drink nor drugs could help me. I was
groping and came across some books on Yoga. From book to book, from clue to clue -- I came to
M: Were the same tragedy to happen to you again, would you suffer as much, considering your present
state of mind?
Q: Oh no, I would not let myself suffer again. I would kill myself.
M: So you are not afraid to die!
Q: I am afraid of dying, not of death itself. I imagine the dying process to be painful and ugly.
M: How do you know? It need not be so. It may be beautiful and peaceful. Once you know that death
happens to the body and not to you, you just watch your body falling off like a discarded garment.
Q: I am fully aware that my fear of death is due to apprehension and not knowledge.
M: Human beings die every second, the fear and the agony of dying hangs over the world like a
cloud. No wonder you too are afraid. But once you know that the body alone dies and not the
continuity of memory and the sense of I am reflected in it, you are afraid no longer.
Q: Well, let us die and see.
M: Give attention and you will find that birth and death are one, that life pulsates between being
and non-being, and that each needs the other for completeness. You are born to die and you die to
Q: Does not detachment stop the process?
M: With detachment the fear goes, but not the fact.
Nisaragadatta moves the discussion from death of the physical body, in which he implies that memory
continues somehow, to detachment from the events of birth, life, and death, in which the facts of
his love affair remain intact. In either case, the questioner cannot avoid what happened in his
relationship. Nisargadatta isn't letting him off the hook either way, but he is offering a new view
which will allow him to understand what happened (what's always happening) rather than find a
way to end his pain.
What do you think?
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