What did Nisargadatta Maharaj mean by the natural state? How can one’s natural state be realised?
Nisargadatta Maharaj used the word ‘Nisarga’ to signify our natural nature prior to identifying as an ego which seems to be separate from the rest of life. ‘Nisarga’ means ‘natural state’ or ‘innate disposition’ beyond phenomena.
In his book ‘I Am That’, Nisargadatta Maharaj, who knew his natural state intimately, said that all definitions apply to the body-mind only and to its human expressions. Once our preoccupation with the body-mind dissolves, our natural state is revealed, spontaneously and effortlessly.
Nisarga cannot be described, and it takes no effort to be your natural Self. We can, however, attempt to point to it through negation and question the validity of our assumptions and beliefs about our world. Our natural Self is uncaused, undivided, unshakable and unquestionable. Nisargadatta Maharaj reassures us that because it is true – reality itself – it is realisable. What we are, we already are! By knowing what we are not, we are liberated from the false and abide in our natural state and normal life goes on spontaneously.
We are always the true Self. But our focus is often distracted by the temporary dualistic manifestations of life. When, through discrimination and detachment, we stop giving undue attention to sensory and mental states, non-dual awareness emerges as our natural state and we recognise it as our authentic Self. Wisdom, according to Nisargadatta, lies in remembering the Self as the ever-present source of all.
There are no methods for Self-realisation. Indeed, the self-concept ‘I am Self-realised’ isn’t even accurate, for in the natural state there are no concepts of ‘I am this’ nor ‘I am that’. Our beingness (consciousness, I Am-ness) is the doorway to our natural state, and we should meditate on this presence. The mind’s narrative need not change. To know that we are is simple and accessible, but to know what we are takes inquiry. Following the ‘I Am’ and clearing the mirror of consciousness, we naturally ripen and become initiated into realisation. We need no other guide than our simple, immediate sense of being. In being everything unfolds naturally. “Liberation is a natural process”, said Nisargadatta, “and in the long run, inevitable.”
Nisargadatta’s teaching has been called the ‘Natural Yoga’ because it is straightforward, and actually, this yoga is already happening right now. To notice this, he advises us to live our life as it comes, with mindfulness, and to see that everything simply happens as it happens. Watch as things unfold naturally: suffering, happiness – whatever life brings. The mind and body look after each other, and the fictitious ego need not interfere (how could it anyway, since it is a phantom?). The needful gets done naturally. With Self-remembrance and mindfulness, life is seen to flow naturally and effortlessly, and the light of awareness burns through the obstacles.
The illusory (yet convincing) barriers to the deep knowing of our natural state are desire and fear, which are what constitutes suffering. The natural state is that in which no desire or fear arises. Nisargadatta said that nothing can be realised without transcending apparent obstacles. The real obstacle is excessive interest in and attention on the temporary and false. What we engrossed in we take to be real. However, these obstacles only need to be seen as illusory rather than something to be solved. Once questioned and seen for what they are, we direct our attention beyond desires and fears, and we are at once in our natural state.