Only the very coolest of troubled seekers come to the path via Nisargadatta Maharaj, right? When I was nearing my wits end, I found his big compilation of talks, I Am That, and then dropped it for a plethora of other paths and teachers, possibly because it was too simple. I wanted more. Over the decades I tried Shamanism, Buddhism, Christianity, magic (possibly with a ‘k’, I can’t remember), tree-hugging, chanting, doing weird stuff with my hands, reading book after book after book, and on and on; but whenever the suffering got too much, I returned to his words, again and again, until I realised the futility (for me anyway) of ever looking elsewhere. He truly was a complete and utter dude – and watching videos of the man on YouTube is hilarious – he was intense, comical, smoked little roll-ups and didn’t suffer fools.
I’m waffling on about this old Indian non-dual guru because I’ve got a quote to share. The words ‘affection’ and ‘attention’ popped into my head the other day. They caused me to remember how I used to use the term ‘love to be’ a lot, and how shortly after penning it, I came across this line by Nisargadatta about affection and attention in I Am That:
There is no ‘how’ here. Just keep in mind the feeling ‘I am’, merge in it, until your mind and feeling become one. By repeated attempts you will stumble on the right balance of attention and affection, and your mind will be firmly established in the thought-feeling ‘I am’. Whatever you think, say or do, this sense of immutable and affectionate being remains as the ever-present background of the mind.
It’s a beautiful mix of non-practice and practice. It begins by telling us that there is no ‘how’. Then it tells us to keep trying to find the right balance of attention and affection – the love to be. And it ends by telling us that the right balance, that love to be, is the ever-present background of life, the universe and everything – immutable and affectionate being – beautiful stuff.
I had a client a while back who found the practice of abiding in being to be the driest thing on the planet. But hey, when you realise that this entire show is being – the present – and then try to find the right balance of attention and affection, it seriously gets a whole lot tastier. So when you strive to abide in being, don’t forget the affection with the attention.