Interest and Earnestness – Principle Two of Nisarga Yoga


“Nothing stands in the way of your liberation and it can happen here and now but for your being more interested in other things.”

– Nisargadatta Maharaj

Interest and Earnestness

Nisarga Yoga – Principle Two of Seven

Learn about principle one here: Non-identification and right understanding 

A life lived mindfully, in full awareness, is an essential principle of Nisarga Yoga. According to Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, the founder of Nisarga Yoga, this requires one-pointedness of the mind, will, honesty, love, sincerity, and dedication. We have to give our heart and mind to the questions, ‘Who am I?’, ‘What is truth and reality?’, ‘From whence did my beingness originate?’ and brood over them again and again. Urgent our need must become to be free of our unnecessary self-identification as a limited person with its accumulation memories and habits characterised by desire and fear. It is simply a matter of correct focus. Our minds are predominantly focused in the world (inner and outer) rather than in reality. We are excessively interested in the superficial and the assumed, leading to self-identification. Our Self-knowledge, the knowledge of the nondual, is obscured and distorted by our captivated focus in the world of duality.
In Nisarga Yoga, to recognise that we are not limited to the body and mind, we study with earnest and deliberate concentration their workings. In his book ‘I Am That’, Nisargadatta tells us that whatever we are engrossed in we take to be real. Nothing stands in the way of our liberation, he reassures us, but we are more interested in other things. Therefore, what’s important is to see through our interests and discern them as the product of misjudgment and the result of not appreciating the deeper truth of life. To know our true Self (the Absolute), we shift our attention from the mind-made outward appearances of life and turn it within. However, we should also look at the content of our minds, so we don’t get immersed and misled by it. Therefore, this principle of Nisarga Yoga is about being consciously interested in what we are habitually interested in – where we inadvertently put our attention. It is about bringing our true Self into focus and becoming aware of our own existence. As long as we are engrossed in our current way of living, we will find it challenging to gain spiritual clarity. Insight cannot easily come as long as we grasp to the mundane. What is required is for us to stop being consumed by the content of our consciousness and to become acquainted with consciousness itself.
The meaning and purpose of Nisarga Yoga is to have union with that which is beyond phenomena. Nisargadatta described an earnest yogi as one who utilises every occurrence, every second of his or her life for their ultimate purpose. Being totally dedicated, in love with reality and embodying what he called “plain honesty”, they don’t waste time and energy on other things. After all, earnestness (not perfection) is the catalyst for Self-realization, intelligence is the door to liberation, and watchful attention is the “mother of intelligence”.
The secret of success, taught Nisargadatta, is steady receptivity of the necessary, and the necessary is all that serves realisation (i.e. sattvic states such as peace, wellness, love, compassion, equanimity, truth, focus, self-control, trust, calmness, friendliness). Meditation, which means giving attention, is a gift of the ‘sattva guna’ (one of three gunas). “So far your life was dark and restless (tamas and rajas), Nisargadatta points out. “Attention, alertness, awareness, clarity, liveliness, vitality, are all manifestations of integrity, oneness with your true nature (sattva)… is the faithful servant of the self; ever attentive and obedient.”
For Nisargadatta Maharaj, yoga involves being interested in oneself beyond all experience. This is the work of awareness. While the mind is fascinated by experience, awareness is interested in, but not hampered by, the mind itself. Experience is flavoured by desire and fear which are the two forces of suffering and seeking. Suffering is a call not for more seeking, but for inquiry. This principle of Nisargadatta Maharaj’s yoga implies that we diligently witness our ever-changing life and inquire deeply into the drives inherent within our actions. These drives are often dominated by the tamas and rajas gunas. When we identify with the gunas, we are their slave. When we are detached from them, we become their master.
In Nisarga Yoga all unease requires investigation. By being deeply mindful of ourselves (in all our expression as the Absolute), the apparent obstacles to self-knowledge the body-mind has accumulated dissolve. When we give attention to our innocent ignorance, it disperses. In memory and anticipation (past and future) there is fear and desire. Meditative attention brings us back to the timeless present where suffering and time are seen for what they are. Nisargadatta said that it is only when we comprehend the great anguish of our lives entirely and work with it, that transcendence (not avoidance) can come to light. He even went as far as saying that “evil is the shadow of inattention,” but that maturity and energy flow from earnestness. Nevertheless, the first steps in self-acceptance may not be at all easy to bare and courage is needed to go further. When we are tired of being disturbed by desire and fear and begin to question, we are ready for conscious yoga.
We’ve built a conceptual prison around ourselves by inadvertence, and the remedies are interest and earnestness; we must be serious, intent and truly attentive to our true nature. We need to remember our Self and watch our daily life persistently. We break the bonds of inattention and imagination by being earnest. With practice, our field of mindfulness broadens, and our investigation deepens. Nisarga Yoga means to live our lives intelligently, with the interests of our most authentic Self continually in mind. Thoughts and feelings arise, and we examine them as they occur with our consciousness set on uniting with the reality beyond such temporary phenomena.
As I write in my book Living the Life that You Are, “The most important quality on the circular path of inquiry is earnestness. Being earnest means relating to life (ourselves) attentively and mindfully, from a stance of questioning with focus and discernment. Once we walk through the veil of untruths we’ve created out of restless inadvertence, we can love what is without expectation. A shift in focus doesn’t mean, however, that we’ll no longer face challenges. We can, nevertheless, do our best not to run away from them and to tune into a more expanded perspective—to see both the forest and the trees. Everything can become a way if we’re curious, detached, earnest, and receptive. In inquiry, we don’t question to get hold of answers but to release our assumptions. We inquire (and meditate) to extend our focus of consciousness and to welcome that which we can’t capture with words or thought. Therein lies genuine peace, understanding, and contentment.”

The Seven Principles of Nisarga Yoga:

Non-identification and right understanding
– Interest and earnestness
– Spontaneity and effortlessness
– Attentiveness to being
– Right action
– Going within to go beyond
– Awareness of Self