August 23rd, 2008

Jack Kornfield on Meeting Nisargadatta

There’s something in us, in our nature, which compels us to
discover.

I remember a very powerful moment with the old guru who I studied with, Nisargadatta Maharaj, who taught the way of Nisarga Yoga. “Nisarga” means natural. The basic translation of his name was “Mr. Natural”. He was this 80-year old cigarette-smoking man. He had a little cigarette stand. He was kind of a combination like Krishnamurti and Fritz Perls. He would put you on the hot seat when you came in and ask you about your spiritual life.

One day we were in a room about this big. People were coming in and asking questions. Somebody came in and asked a question and was a little bit dissatisfied and left. And another person raised their hand and said, “Maharaj, what will happen to that person who came and asked that question and left? Is it all over for them in this life? They didn’t stay here. You are a great guru, and they weren’t interested, and they went home.”

And he twinkled at that moment, he really lit up, and he said, “It’s too late. Even the fact that they put their foot in this room, even if they hadn’t asked the question, means that somewhere in there there’s a seed of really knowing who we are and what this life is about. Not what you were taught in elementary school or what’s on TV or the newspapers, but a deep seed of knowing our true nature, that wants to discover; it’s like coming home. The fact that he just walked in the room means that that seed has started to sprout. And no matter if he tries to forget it and goes back and gets lost, sooner or later that will manifest in awakening.”

…I’ll read you a passage from Nisargadatta Maharaj, the old bidi wallah who I studied with in Bombay; wonderful old teacher. He
sold little Indian cigarettes on the street corner, and he was fully
enlightened somehow at the same time. He had these classes. He died
a couple of years ago. He was a wonderful old man.

Someone asks:

What can truth or reality gain by all our practice?

He uses truth and love interchangeably. He says:

“Nothing whatsoever, of course. But it is in the nature of truth or love, cosmic consciousness, whatever you want to call it, to express itself, to affirm itself, to overcome difficulties. Once you’ve understood that the world is love in action, consciousness or love in action, you will look at it quite differently. But first your attitude to suffering must change. Suffering is primarily a call for attention, which itself is a movement of love. More than happiness, love wants growth, the widening and deepening of awareness and consciousness and being. Whatever prevents that becomes a cause of pain, and love does not shirk from pain.”

– Jack Kornfield

From The Eightfold Path for the Householder: Ten Talks by Jack Kornfield


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