You cannot imagine the taste of pure water, you can only discover it by abandoning all flavorings—Nisargadatta
A quick walk through any grocery store offers a mind-boggling array of flavor choices. Just the mere thought of a certain flavor can cause our mouth to water and stomach to rumble in anticipation. But what is flavor? We might assume that flavor is primarily a function of the taste buds, which determines whether a flavor is sweet, sour, bitter or salty. But it is actually smell that carries the most weight when determining flavor because that sense is unlimited in its ability to discern minute differences. However, quantum physics has demonstrated that our senses are not showing us reality, but creating a virtual reality, an illusion, that appears to be real but is not. Instead of tasting or smelling, the brain reads a series of interference patterns from the senses and interprets it as aroma and flavor.
Nisargadatta clearly understood the illusory nature of the material world when he used the simple example of flavor to explain a profound truth. Of the limitless number of tastes available, water is arguably the most basic. While it appears to be virtually ‘flavorless’ it is also the most satisfying and necessary. To fully appreciate its flavorless flavor, Nisargadatta asks us to abandon all the other flavors that clutter and confuse our ability to discern its value. Of course Nisargadatta was not interested in us cultivating our sense of taste, but in our recognition of what is real and what is not.
You, as your true Self, are pure consciousness. Unfortunately, as many have lost the desire for pure water by quenching their thirst with other flavors, many of them artificial, we have lost our awareness of Self by clouding our consciousness with other thoughts. We’ve created an endless array of ‘flavors’ and come to believe that is who we are. How do we make our way back to the pure consciousness of Self? Nisargadatta’s answer is simple: “you can only discover it by abandoning all flavorings.” The choice is always yours. You are free to continue experiencing whatever ‘flavors’ interest you in the illusory material world, or you can eliminate your attachment to them one-by-one until you have once again discovered the taste of pure consciousness.