Beliefnet
Deepak Chopra and Intent

An article written for the Washington Post On Faith section.
There’s a single book that I reread every year: “I Am That” by Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897-1981). The title is a quotation. In India the goal of enlightenment is to see reality as a whole. When all illusion has fallen away, one looks around and can say, with complete confidence, “I am That, you are That, and all this is That.”
What does the word “That” mean? It means the essence of existence. What does the essence of existence mean? There is no adequate definition, and therefore a huge mystification has built up around “That.” Nisargadatta
Maharaj, whose name is almost totally unknown in the West, comes as close as possible to putting pure essence into words. In my experience, every reader who has discovered his book considers it magical, and those of us who treasure it feel that it opens a window into eternity, in part because of what Nisargatta says, but much more because of its astonishing ability to change the reader.
The Wikipedia article on Nisargadatta informs us that the 1973 publication of “I Am That” made him world famous. That’s a stretch, but the book did rise to the top of required reading in modern Indian spirituality.
The text is made up entirely of transcripts of informal talks given above the tiny shop that Nisargadatta ran in Mumbai. He himself couldn’t write, being an uneducated farm boy who moved to the big city. He reached
enlightenment in a remarkable way. As he walked behind his plow in his native village, he reminded himself that he was the essence of Being, not a person with human limitations. Or to be precise, his guru told him “You are
That.”
There’s a single book that I reread every year: “I Am That” by Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897-1981). The title is a quotation. In India the goal of enlightenment is to see reality as a whole. When all illusion has fallen away, one looks around and can say, with complete confidence, “I am That, you are That, and all this is That.”
It is believed in India that the liberated state, or Moksha, takes hundreds of lifetimes to attain. One supposes, then, that this illiterate farm boy must have prepared a long time for the breakthrough into enlightenment. So
far as we know he never practiced spiritual disciplines. As he put it, his guru told him “You are That,” and Nisargadatta believed him.
I won’t give away what Nisargadatta talks about in this book — he is never trivial, however. One is immediately transported into his extraordinary presence. Just as reading one scene of Hamlet is enough to convince you
that Shakespeare is a great writer, reading five pages of Nisargadatta convinces you (if you can be convinced at all) that this untutored man is in touch with deepest wisdom — he breathes an air more rarefied than ours. He
possesses a quality we struggle to express in English– absolute knowingness. As simply as Nisargadatta speaks — simple enough to be understood by a ten-year-old — the effect upon the reader is powerful
enough to cause deep sympathy and trust, and in some readers there is actual transformation. Every time I reread “I Am That,” I close the book convinced that the world would change entirely if everyone in it took
Nisaargadatta’s wisdom to heart.
www.intentblog.com
www.deepakchopra.com
http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/deepak_chopra/

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