A new DVD from NetiNeti Films:
Moments with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj: Archival films 1979/1981
Read more about Moments with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj and order
Moments with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Reviewed by Jerry Katz
Maharaj Immersion; Layers of Gratitude
This DVD is an immersion into the daily life and eternal teaching of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. Before we ever meet Nisargadatta, we meet Josef Nauwelaerts the cameraman, who radiates gratitude and dedication to Nisargadatta. Then we meet Bombay, the luxury, the architecture, the waterfront, the Gate of India, the streets, roads, pedestrians, the narrow streets of old Bombay where Nisargadatta lives, the poverty, the people living and working in the streets, their temples, Nisargadatta’s poverty street, up to his apartment whose details are shown.
The daily chores of Nisargadatta are filmed: the dusting of photographs and frames by Nisargadatta himself, the lighting of incense, the constant movement of the 84 year old Maharaj, his gratitude for his gurus, though, clearly, Nisargadatta is beyond showing gratitude; he is gratitude or grace. We see the great details of effort Maharaj extends toward creating the atmosphere for teaching: the cymbals, the bells, the chanting, the incense, the meditation. Total immersion.
The camera is always moving. Josef has caught the fire of Nisargadatta, the ever moving, ever changing manifestation, beingness, within the space with Nisargadatta, and the ever changing sounds of the street, with kids playing, shouting, and the tumult of business and traffic. However, these are background sounds that add to the atmosphere and never interfere, enhancing the experience of immersion. There are a few close-up shots of Nisargadatta’s face, which seem valuable, and too bad there were not a lot more. There are more close-ups of the followers than of Nisargadatta. However, the filming of the audience is like a Nisargadatta-cam.
The introduction to the film is given by Stephen Wolinsky, who hosts several videos in the NetiNeti films library devoted to the teachings of Nisargadatta Maharaj. Stephen may be at his best in this brief introduction. He is not teaching, only showing gratitude. That in itself is a teaching. You may recognize at once that gratitude is mantra, practice, and guru. Gratitude comes from Wolinsky, from the filmmakers, from the NetiNeti production and distribution crew, from the followers in Nisargadatta’s home. Nisargadatta himself is gratitude, or grace. When a questioner asks Nisargadatta, “I don’t remember. Please explain our beingness,” gratitude wells up for the innocence of the question. Gratitude is awakened and informed in this production.
THEMES, CONFESSIONS, AND URGINGS
In answering questions, Nisargadatta asks questions: Who is “I Am”? Why “I Am”? He urges you outside your body and body-mind thoughts. Why this beingness? he asks. How am I? Why am I? What does it depend on? From beingness, how we become no being, from no being to beingness, how does this happen? One should analyze and find the answer for oneself, says Maharaj.
He addresses beingness before conception and abiding in the state prior to conception. He talks of death as the confidence that I Am has disappeared. He entertains questions on maya, prolonging life, karma, dreams.
Analyze yourself without dependence upon anything, he instructs. “If you know Self,” he says, “you know God.” “Your identity has to go for (there to be) realization of your true being.”
There is plenty of humor in the relaxed atmosphere, while Nisargadatta is always in control and leading the show. We see Nisargadatta ministering to people at their level of understanding. We want to think that we deserve the highest teaching and that we are receiving it. But what is the highest teaching? Can it be spoken by Nisargadatta or anyone? Every teaching given in words is a lower teaching pointing to the teaching that can’t be given. Still, Nisargadatta implies that what is captured in this film is his advanced teaching: “Only a rare person will understand what I’m driving at.”
Experience this Nisargadatta immersion. Take these words of Maharaj to the shopping cart: “Every human being is eligible for self knowledge, earnestness being the only deciding factor.”
THE 6 MINUTE CLIP OF SWAMI NITYANANDA
Swami Nityananda is a powerful human mantra, a living, bodily initiation. His presence in words or film can awaken Kundalini. This is a different kind, a more gross initiation than Nisargadatta offers, thus a welcome complement.
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