On Conflict, War, Separation and Responsibility

Questioner:
The war is on!
What is your attitude to it?

Nisargadatta Maharaj:
In some place or other, in some form or other, the war is always ‘on’. Was there a time when there was no war?

Some say it is the will of God.
Some say it is God’s play.

It is another way of saying that wars are inevitable, and nobody is responsible.

Questioner:
But what is your attitude?

Nisargadatta Maharaj:
Why impose attitudes on me?
… I have no attitude to call my own!

Questioner:
Surely somebody is responsible for this horrible and senseless carnage.
… Why do people kill each other so readily?

Nisargadatta Maharaj:
Search for the culprit within.
The ideas of ‘me’ and ‘mine’, are at the root of all conflict.
Be free of them, and you will be out of conflict.

Questioner:
What of it, that I am out of conflict?
… It will not affect the war.
If I am the cause of war, I am ready to be destroyed. Yet, it stands to reason that the disappearance of a thousand like me, will not stop wars.
They did not start with my birth, nor will end with my death. I am not responsible. Who is?

Nisargadatta Maharaj:
Strife and struggle are a part of existence.
Why don’t you inquire who is responsible for existence?

Questioner:
Why do you say that existence and conflict are inseparable? Can there be no existence without strife? I need not fight other, to be myself!

Nisargadatta Maharaj:
You fight others all the time for your survival, as a separate body-mind – a particular name and form.

To live, you must destroy!

From the moment you were conceived, you started a war with your environment – a merciless war of mutual extermination, until death sets you free!

Questioner:
My question remains unanswered.
You are merely describing what I know – life and its sorrows.
… But who is responsible, you do not say!?

When I press you, you throw the blame on God, or karma, or on my greed and fear – which merely invites further questions.
… Give me the final answer!

Nisargadatta Maharaj:
The final answer is this: nothing IS!

All is a momentary appearance in the field of the Universal Consciousness; continuity as ‘Name and Form’, is a mental formation only, easy to dispel.

Questioner:
I am asking about the immediate,
… The transitory, the appearance.

Here is a picture of a child killed by soldiers. It is a fact – staring at you. You cannot deny it.
… Now, who is responsible for the death of the child?

Nisargadatta Maharaj:
Nobody, and everybody!

The world is what it contains, and each thing affects all others.
… We all kill the child and we all die with it!

Every event has innumerable causes and produces numberless effects. It is useless to keep accounts – nothing is traceable!

Questioner:
Your people speak of karma and retribution!

Nisargadatta Maharaj:
It is merely a gross approximation;
… In reality we are all creators and creatures of each other, causing and bearing each other’s burden.


In our ignorance – we are innocent;
… In our actions – we are guilty!
We sin without knowing, and suffer without understanding.

Our only hope: to stop, to look, to understand, and to get out of the traps of memory.
… For memory feeds imagination, and imagination generates desire, and fear.

Questioner:
So, the innocent suffers for the guilty?

Nisargadatta Maharaj:
In our ignorance – we are innocent;
… In our actions – we are guilty!
We sin without knowing, and suffer without understanding.

Our only hope: to stop, to look, to understand, and to get out of the traps of memory.
… For memory feeds imagination, and imagination generates desire, and fear.

Questioner:
Why do I imagine at all?!

Nisargadatta Maharaj:
The light of Consciousness passes through the film of memory, and throws pictures on your brain.

Because of the deficient, and disordered state of your brain, what you perceive is distorted and colored by feelings, of like and dislike.

Make your thinking orderly, and free from emotional overtones, and you will see people and things as they are, with clarity and charity.

‘The Witness’ of birth, life and death, is one and the same. It is The Witness of pain, and of love.

For while the existence in limitation and separation is sorrowful – we love it!
… We love it – and hate it, at the same time!

We fight, we kill, we destroy life and property, and yet we are affectionate, and self-sacrificing.

We nurse the child tenderly, and orphan it too.
… Our life is full of contradictions!
… Yet we cling to it!

This clinging, is at the root of everything.
… Still, it is entirely superficial.

We hold on to something or somebody, with all our might, and next moment we forget it; like a child that shapes its mud-pies, and abandons them, light-heatedly.
… Tough them – and it will scream with anger, divert the child, and he forgets them.

For our life is Now, and the Love of it, is Now!

We love variety, the play of pain and pleasure, we are fascinated by contrasts. For this we need the opposites, and their apparent separation.

We enjoy them for a time, and then get tired and crave for the Peace and Silence of Pure Being.
… The Cosmic Heart beats ceaselessly.
… I am The Witness, and The Heart too!

The heartbeat of a universe

Questioner:
I can see ‘the picture’, but who is ‘the painter’?
… Who is responsible for the terrible, and yet adorable experience?!

Nisargadatta Maharaj:
The painter is in the picture!
You separate ‘the painter’ from ‘the picture’, and look for him.
… Don’t separate and don’t put false questions!

Things ARE as they ARE, and nobody – in particular, is responsible. The idea of personal responsibility comes from the illusion of agency: ‘Somebody must have done it, somebody is responsible’.

Society, as it is now – with its framework of laws and customs, is based on the idea of separate, and responsible personality,
… But this is not the only form that a society can take.

There may be other forms, where the sense of separation is weak, and responsibility diffused.”


Listen to a conversation with Maharaj student, Mauro Bergonzi from Sounds of SAND Podcast.

The life, teachings, and legacy of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj are woven deep in the DNA of Science and Nonduality. Go back to the beginning of SAND with our first film Rays of the Absolute

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