On Inadvertence

The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Inadvertence as: a result of inattention. This word comes up many times in Nisargadatta Maharaj’s conversations collected together in ‘I am That’. I have been recently thinking that what Maharaj says about inadvertence or inattention gives pointers to a powerful spiritual practice. Take a look at the following excerpts and see if you agree.

Excerpt 1: (Page 43 of ‘I Am That’ by Nisargadatta Maharaj)

You are in bondage by inadvertence. Attention liberates.

Excerpt 2: (Page 239)

I see what you too could see, here and now, but for the wrong focus of your attention. You give no attention to your self. Your mind is all with things, people and ideas, never with your self. Bring your self into focus, become aware of your own existence. See how you function, watch the motives and the results of your actions. Study the prison you have built around yourself by inadvertence. . . . Once you are convinced that you cannot say truthfully about your self anything except ‘I am’, and that nothing that can be pointed at, can be your self, the need for the ‘I am’ is over – you are no longer intent on verbalising what you are. All you need is to get rid of the tendency to define your self. All definitions apply to your body only and to its expressions. Once this obsession with the body goes, you will revert to your natural state, spontaneously and effortlessly. The only difference between us is that I am aware of my natural state, while you are bemused. Just like gold made into ornaments has no advantage over gold dust, except when the mind makes it so, so are we one in being – we differ only in appearance. We discover it by being earnest, by searching, enquiring, questioning daily and hourly, by giving one’s life to this discovery.

Excerpt 3: (Page 249)

Q: There is no ‘I am’ in sleep.
M: Before you make such sweeping statements, examine carefully your waking state. You will soon discover that it is full of gaps, when the mind blanks out. Notice how little you remember even when fully awake. You just don’t remember. A gap in memory is not necessarily a gap in consciousness.
Q: Can I make myself remember my state of deep sleep?
M: Of course! By eliminating the intervals of inadvertence during your waking hours you will gradually eliminate the long interval of absent-mindedness, which you call sleep. You will be aware that you are asleep.
Q: Yet, the problem of permanency, of continuity of being, is not solved.
M: Permanency is a mere idea, born of the action of time. Time again depends of memory. By permanency you mean unfailing memory through endless time. You want to eternalise the mind, which is not possible.
Q: Then what is eternal?
M: That which does not change with time. You cannot eternalise a transient thing – only the changeless is eternal.

One reply on “On Inadvertence”

Very nice !, i read this sleeping state in Bhagwan Raman Maharishi’s writing…. at https://www.gururamana.org/Resources/Books/Gems.pdf

at page 9 …. starts the chapter, small portion….


reality. Consciousness plus waking we call waking.
Consciousness plus sleep we call sleep. Consciousness plus
dream we call dream. Consciousness is the screen on which
all the pictures come and go. The screen is real, the pictures
are mere shadows on it. ……

mukesh kr

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