Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield describes his encounter
with Nisargadatta Maharaj in
"The Eightfold Path for the Householder."

There's something in us, in our nature, which compels us to
discover.  I remember a very powerful moment with the old guru who I
studied with, Nisargadatta Maharaj, who taught the way of Nisarga
Yoga.   "Nisarga" means natural.  The basic translation of
his name was "Mr. Natural".  He was this 80-year old
cigarette-smoking man.  He had a little cigarette stand.  He was kind
of a combination like Krishnamurti and Fritz Perls.  He would put you
on the hot seat when you came in and ask you about your spiritual

One day we were in a room about this big.  People were coming in
and asking questions.   Somebody came in and asked a question and was
a little bit dissatisfied and left.  And another person raised their
hand and said, "Maharaj, what will happen to that person who came
and asked that question and left?  Is it all over for them in this
life? They didn't stay here.  You are a great guru, and they
weren't interested, and they went home." And he twinkled at
that moment, he really lit up, and he said, "It's too late.  Even
the fact that they put their foot in this room, even if they hadn't
asked the question, means that somewhere in there there's a seed of
really knowing who we are and what this life is about.  Not what you
were taught in elementary school or what's on TV or the newspapers,
but a deep seed of knowing our true nature, that wants to discover;
it's like coming home.  The fact that he just walked in the room means
that that seed has started to sprout. And no matter if he tries to
forget it and goes back and gets lost, sooner or later that will
manifest in awakening.

...I'll read you a passage from Nisargadatta Maharaj, the old
bidi wallah who I studied with in Bombay; wonderful old teacher.  He
sold little Indian cigarettes on the street corner, and he was fully
enlightened somehow at the same time.  He had these classes.  He died
a couple of years ago.  He was a wonderful old man.

Someone asks:

What can truth or reality gain by all our practice?

He uses truth and love interchangeably.  He says:

"Nothing whatsoever, of course.  But it is in the nature of
truth or love, cosmic consciousness, whatever you want to call it, to
express itself, to affirm itself, to overcome difficulties. Once
you've understood that the world is love in action, consciousness
or love in action, you will look at it quite differently.  But first
your attitude to suffering must change.  Suffering is primarily a
call for attention, which itself is a movement of love. More than
happiness, love wants growth, the widening and deepening of awareness
and consciousness and being. Whatever prevents that becomes a cause
of pain, and love does not shirk from pain."

The Eightfold Path for the Householder:
Ten talks by Jack Kornfield,
transcribed from audio tape

Meeting Nisargadatta Maharaj
Back to the Meeting Maharaj Page