Satsang or the company of the seekers of the truth is a central recommendation of spiritual practice. There can be no greater satsang than the presence of a master, a satguru. According to those adepts who are sensitive to auras, a master’s extends for hundreds of feet all around him or her. When you sit at the feet of a Master then you are sitting inside their aura. Naturally the falsity within you is made manifest by this. Nisargadatta in his talks and dialogue demonstrates how the sun scatters the fog of specious attainment.
In I AM THAT no. 28: All Suffering is Born of Desire a questioner introduces himself :
Questioner: I come from a far off country. I had some inner experiences on my own and I would like to compare notes. Maharaj: By all means. Do you know yourself?
Q: I know that I am not the body. Nor am I the mind.
M: What makes you say so?
Q: I do not feel I am in the body. I seem to be all over the place everywhere. As to the mind, I can switch it on and off, so to say. This makes me feel I am not the mind.
M: When you feel yourself everywhere in the world, do you remain separate from the world? Or, are you the world?
Q: Both. Sometimes I feel myself to be neither mind nor body, but one single all-seeing eye. When I go deeper into it, I find myself to be all I see and the world and myself become one.
M: Very well. What about desires? Do you have any?
Q: Yes, they come, short and superficial.
Comparing notes with the Maharaj is bumptious. It is instructive how the questioner’s continued attention to Nisargadatta dissolves this facade, a spray on vedanta. Its origins are made clear by:
M: How did you come to your present state?
Q: Sri Ramana Maharshi's teachings have put me on my way. Then I met one Douglas Harding who helped me by showing me how to work on the 'Who am I ?'
Douglas Harding’s Headless teaching seems the perfect reductio of subjective idealism. The central tenet is that because you can’t see your own head you are in effect headless or your visual awareness is headless. It is breathtakingly simple and obvious.
As the interview proceeds real questions emerge:
Q. How does self-identification happen?
M: The self by its nature knows itself only. For lack of experience whatever it perceives it takes to be itself. Battered, it learns to look out ( viveka) and to live alone ( vairagya). When right behaviour ( uparati), becomes normal, a powerful inner urge ( mukmukshutva) makes it seek its source. The candle of the body is lighted and all becomes clear and bright.
Q: What is the real cause of suffering?
M: Self-identification with the limited ( vyaktitva). Sensations as such, however strong, do not cause suffering. It is the mind bewildered by wrong ideas, addicted to thinking: 'I am this' 'I am that', that fears loss and craves gain and suffers when frustrated.
Q: A friend of mine used to have horrible dreams night after night. Going to sleep would terrorise him. Nothing could help him.
M: Company of the truly good ( satsang) would help him.
Q: Life itself is a nightmare.
M: Noble friendship ( satsang) is the supreme remedy for all ills, physical and mental.
Q: Generally one cannot find such friendship.
M: Seek within. Your own self is your best friend.
Q: Why is life so full of contradictions?
M: It serves to break down mental pride. We must realise how poor and powerless we are. As long as we delude ourselves by what we imagine ourselves to be, to know, to have, to do, we are in a sad plight indeed. Only in complete self-negation there is a chance to discover our real being.
That last answer is not a harsh reproof only a simple statement that probably all his listeners could apply to themselves. At a remove from this darshan the reader’s abnegation must be diluted by the comforting props of everyday life. We need to become strange to ourselves not just by tricks of psychological dissociation.