“I don’t know” is the only true statement?

“I don’t know” is the only true statement the mind can make

– Nisgaradatta Maharaj

These type of pointers is meant as medicine.

In this case, it’s medicine for the tendency to take thoughts – or some thoughts – as true.

And as with any thought, it’s not entirely accurate. It leaves something out.

Mental representations are questions about the world, whether we notice or not. They are maps of the world and help us orient and function in the world. They are different in kind to what they are about. (Unless they happen to be about mental representations.) Reality is always more than and different from these maps. And they cannot contain any full, final, or absolute truth.

And that goes for Nisgaradatta’s statement as well. His statement also has limited validity, and there is validity in its reversals.

We can know certain things. We can notice our nature directly. (Our nature can notice and “know” itself in that sense.) We can know things in a provisional, limited, and conventional sense, although these are not final or absolute truths.

His statement is not the only true statement. It doesn’t hold a final or absolute truth any more than any other thought.

In general, I find it helpful to explore pointers in this way and especially pointers from the non-dual world. What are they meant as medicine for? What’s their validity? In what ways are they not so valid? What’s the validity of their reversals?

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Having never left home? Exploring the limited truth in any pointer and their reversals

Having never left the house, you are looking for the way home.

– Nisgaradatta Maharaj

These types of quotes are pointers. They point to something we may, at some level, overlook.

They are medicine for a certain condition.

And they are not meant to be any final or complete truth. Their nature is such that they cannot be any final or complete truth.


So what’s this pointer medicine for?

The idea and perception that we somehow left what we are and what we most deeply seek.

It can help us turn from seeking it “out there” – in others, in the past or future, in another state, and so on. And turn to looking for it here. What is it that has never been gone, even if all content of experience comes and goes?


What does it leave out?

It leaves out the limited validity in the reverse.

Having never left the house -> Having left the house. In what sense is that true?

How did I leave the house? I leave it any time I operate from the sense that I exclusively am this human self, a separate self in the world. I leave it when I don’t notice what I more fundamentally am to myself, in my own first-person experience.

Also, since I have lived much of my life from that assumption, and especially some of my formative childhood years, a lot of me operate from that assumption. Many parts of me have left the house, in that sense, and it’s up to me to welcome them back into the house, help them recognize they never left the house, and allow them to realign in that noticing.


In general, I find it helpful to look for the validity in the reversals of these types of pointers. It helps me unstick from any one particular view, and find the limited truth in each.

It also helps me find the stuck orientation(s) in me the pointer is medicine for, and what the reversals may be medicine for.

Nisgaradatta: Literally, you are a figment of your own imagination

Literally, you are a figment of your own imagination. 

Nisargadatta Maharaj

Yes. Any ideas of an I or me are images and words in my own mind, combined with sensory impressions. I am, literally, a figment of my own imagination. Any ideas of there being a separate I or me here, and how this separate I or me are in the world, are figments of my own imagination.

It’s very simple. It’s very easy to not notice clearly. And it makes a huge difference when it’s noticed, either through a spiritual opening or awakening or through inquiry.

The ideas of an I and me in the world are still here, and they are essential and very useful for navigating and functioning in the world. And yet, when they are recognized as what they are, as imagination, they are held more lightly. The heaviness of taking it all as real and the final word is gone, or at least recognized as created by the mind and not inherently real or true.

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Nisargadatta Maharaj: Even the painful is lovable

I do have problems. I told you already. To be, to exist with a name and form is painful, yet I love it.

In existence everything is contained. My very nature is to love; even the painful is lovable.

– Nisargadatta Maharaj, from ‘I Am That’.

And another expression of the same/similar insight:

this is a post
in honor of innocence.
then my toddler has an owie
she kisses it,
and then she says,
“owie, i love you.”

we both got owies at the same time.
mila kisses her owie daily, whispering ‘I love you’
or, “owie, I like you so much”
I nurse my owie with healing salves.

mila awoke today,
‘where is my owie?’

it was gone.
my owie is still on my toe.

if you have an owie,
do tell it you love it. i think owies like to be loved.
whether they are internal or external owies.


– words from the belly

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