Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897 – 1981) was born Maruti Shivrampant Kambli in Bombay. As a young man, he built up a string of small goods shops, married, and with his wife had four children. At the age of 36 he met his guru, Siddharameshwar Maharaj, who gave him the instruction described below, taken from Nisagardatta’s book, I am That.
My Guru ordered me to attend to the sense ‘I am’ and to give attention to nothing else. I just obeyed. I did not follow any particular course of breathing, or meditation, or study of scriptures. Whatever happened, I would turn away my attention from it and remain with the sense ‘I am’. It may look too simple, even crude. My only reason for doing it was that my Guru told me so. Yet it worked!
My Guru told me: “…Go back to that state of pure being, where the ‘I am’ is still in its purity before it got contaminated with ‘this I am’ or ‘that I am.’ Your burden is of false self-identifications—abandon them all.” My guru told me, “Trust me, I tell you: you are Divine. Take it as the absolute truth. Your joy is divine, your suffering is divine too. All comes from God. Remember it always. You are God, your will alone is done.” I did believe him and soon realized how wonderfully true and accurate were his words. I did not condition my mind by thinking, “I am God, I am wonderful, I am beyond.” I simply followed his instruction, which was to focus the mind on pure being, “I am,” and stay in it. I used to sit for hours together, with nothing but the “I am” in my mind and soon the peace and joy and deep all-embracing love became my normal state. In it all disappeared—myself, my guru, the life I lived, the world around me. Only peace remained, and unfathomable silence.