I trimmed the raw notes in half and then started dividing the review into sections. In each section I pasted the appropriate paragraphs from the raw notes. I paraphrased some of the raw notes, reducing them further in length. I isolated a few quotations and highlighted a few themes. You can see the work below. In the next and final (I hope) part you’ll see the finished review with all the gingerbread.
The following is an unfinished review with uncorrected notes:
The advanced teachings of Nisargadatta Maharaj are brilliantly delivered through teacher and writer Stephen Wolinsky and the filmmaker Maurizio Benazzo.
Many cuts to NM speaking in his home.
Modern images of India interspersed with footage taken in 1979-1980, merge to bring a closeness to Niz. SW enters the home of Niz who passed away in 1981 and earlier images of Niz in that same room are cut into the film. We see SW emotionally moved by being in the room and the viewer would feel the emotional response of meeting a “home” of consciousness elaboration and confession, a core center of one of humanity’s greatest confessions in action. It’s a human response.
You could pause the video at any point and view a crystal clear, detail-filled image of India with its people, lived-balconies, women hanging out clothes on ancient lived-in balconies over the streets teeming with people and their day to day business.
NISARGADATTA MAHARAJ’S MOST PROFOUND TEACHING:
Wolinsky describes four steps of Nisargadatta’s most profound and final teaching. These are repeated several times throughout the film. The repetition is necessary and assures the success of the film.
To briefly summarize the four steps of the final teachings, the first step is recognition that you are not the activities of the mind and body. In the second step you know your essence as the nonverbal I Am. In the third step the silent I Am begins to dissolve, exposing consciousness itself. It is recognized that there is only the impersonal consciousness, the universe arising out of it. In the fourth step this impersonal consciousness is known as temporary, leaving the recognition that who you are is prior to consciousness. This “prior to consciousness” is the Absolute, which is what you are. The Absolute knows itself through consciousness but does not require consciousness. Consciousness is dependent upon the Absolute. You are prior to consciousness. Existence swims in you, like fish in water.
The words of Nisargadatta are shown on screen at strategic points. Here are a few quotes that appear while Steven is teaching the four steps:
“Even the experience of I Am is a concept, it’s temporary, it comes one day and it will go.”
“Even the state of beingness consciousness is temporary.”
“When you realize consciousness is not the truth then you are beyond consciousness.”
As I said, Steven elaborates and painstakingly describes each of these steps several times. They are what the film is all about. They’re what nonduality is all about.
THEME OF MEDITATION:
NM: “Meditation means to be the meditator rather than the object of meditation.”
SW describes a classic meditation. Notice a desire that you’re having. Notice where in your body you feel your desire. Take your attention off the desire and put it on the body sensation, the desire itself, the body sensation. Then take the label off and have it as the same consc as the desire. So whether it be everything is consc or everything is outside of consc, the perceive of consc is the same as consc, made of the same consc. Everything perceivable or conceivable is consc dependent. The illusion is that you have personal consc, when soon you’ll realize, as it expands out, that there’s only impersonal consc. “Maharaj said to me there is no person, it’s all a concept, it’s all an illusion, and with one flick of the hand light pierced through me and there was just the absolute nothingness.
The meditaion cd:
Highly effective supplement making this a powerful and valuable package. Opens the space. Identifies and opens the space between words, between thoghts, between the ripples of the mind’s activities. What does this do? Bring you to the I Am? To the consciousness? To prior to consciousness? Or is it more spiritual stuff to have experienced? All those things. Lots of spaces of silence in which you have to be in silence and what happens in silence stays in silence. “Focus on the empty space after the sound of my voice,” he says. If you do not depend upon the mind: thoughts, memory, emotion, association, perception, or body, are you in the present, not in the present, or neighter? …is there such a thing as present, not present? …. Do you eexist, not exist, or neither? … If there is no dependence upon thought memory emotion perception or body what does existence or nonexistence even mean? Notice the blank no state state that does not depend upon mental activity or body. Being aware of the blank no state state allow the awareness to expand outward and backwoard and notice how the emptiness a nd space appears to go on forever. What occurs if the awarer and the space are made of the same substance? Are you the awarer aware of the emptiness or are the emptiness on which the awarer appears? Be the emptniss on which the awarer appears. Be the awarer and notice what occurs when I say what awarer is awaring this.
THEME OF SPIRITUAL TRAPPINGS:
What was amazing is that he would say that even the word spirituality is like dishwater to me, it means nothing to me. NM: “I am in no way concerned with spiritualty.” Spirituality is a concept, that’swhy. Consc has to be present for there to be consc. Prior to spirituality is consc and prior to consc is nothingness. So thelineage taught a certain way. It’s important only if you have a feeling for it, a vehicle. Don’t worship the lineage. The teachings are pointers. There are spiritual trappings to be aware of: anything that pulls you outward, such as clothing, food, behavior, actions. NM would tell vegetarians to eat meat, ie no rituals. Yet he did rituals. His guru told him to do the rituals. He didn’t mean much to him, but he did it because his guru told him to. A trapping concerns how you have to act or are supposed toa ct, they all keepyou outside. When NM had you worshipping the guru, it was the Self, the absolute. You’re not the doer, meaing priior to consc there’s no I as an instrument. So trappings are all these things, including religions and organizations. NM was not worshipped, only the inner. What gets people most trapped is when gurus get people to believe in thigns that don’t exist, which includes anything “after”. The story takes you outside.
NM said forget me, forget the teachings, forget everything, stay in consc and your own path will emerge. NM defined spiritual practice as looking for what you haven’t discarded yet and discarding it as you. NM: “If you can forget it or remember it, it’s not you therefore discard it.”
What are some of the spiritual traps that can take someone away from finding out who they are? Once someone is realized, it was their own unique way. Now a student wants realization, but they take on the teacher’s system as if its theirs. That doesn’t work. You have to go in and be in the consc as the porthole to findingout whoyou are. The next trap is when one believes in what doesn’t exist, in what’s separate from you, such as god or a philosophy; its not this not this. Taking on a culture is part of that, such as the Indian culture and which gets confused with findingout with who you are. We’re all the same minus the conditioning. Why take on another conditioning to find out whoyou are when the bottomline is to discard conditioning.
NM: “The state 8 days before conception, or maybe thousands of years prior to that, whatever that state is other than birth as the body, is the ever prevailing state or the eternal state.”
THEME OF DEATH:
Chapter 6. The Death of the I: Varanasi at Night
Powerful chapter as it shows the burning bodies with appropriate music.
Death is like the smoke of an incense stick. It just dissolves. Everything is temporary, causeless, and occurs in and on you prior to words, the nothingness prior to consc. You have to realize the formlessness of your body, the temporaryness. The brain makes your body seem constant. As you allow for the temporariness the world appears as formless. Pursue the formlesss. As consc is formless so the body is formless. Sentience is experienced but the body is not sentient. The consc makes the body appear as though its alive. You can’t understand through concepts, only without the I and the body exp. It requires the experience of death. The body concept appears on consc. You are prior to words and consc. Consc is like a ripple on the ocean of nothingness which rises and subsides but you never arise or subside you are that prior to cosnc. All information and knowledge belongs to the body jind and is duality. Realization is the death of the I concept, the death of the beingness. NM: “When you realize that consc, then you are prior to consc. The absolute nothing prior to words.”
Does Steven come between the viewer and Nisargadatta? Is this the most direct way of experiencing Nisargadatta? Steven Wolinsky is a teacher in his own right.
Discussing an inner relationship between Avadhut Nityananda and Nisargadatta Maharaj (there was no outer, overt relationship between them of which I am aware), Steven states that there is one consciousness in the two apparent forms. Steven could be said to be a third form. That consciousness is “in” all of us. So does it matter whether the teaching is from Nisargadatta or Steven? No, not as long as the teaching comes from recognition of the Absolute and effectively describes the most sublime spiritual states and communicates that they and all things – and consciousness itself — are temporary, impermanent.
This film is recommended to anyone who wants to understand Nisargadatta Maharaj through many different themes and in the setting of significant locations in India. Wolinksy organizes Nisargadatta’s teaching, makes it outstandingly comprehensible, and places it into the context of Buddhist teachings and various themes of spirituality.
This has been an unfinished review which includes uncorrected notes.