Tuesday, 9 January 2007

The true import of 'I am'

In reply to a friend who wrote, "The 'I am' is the beginning of the dream", I wrote as follows:

The 'I am' just is. It is the permanent abiding reality, our true and essential self-conscious being. The beginning of this dream of our three states, waking, dream and sleep, is our primal imagination, 'I am this body, I am a person, I am so-and-so', which arises when we seemingly ignore our natural clarity of perfect self-consciousness.

Because we wrongly imagine ourself to be this body and mind, we mistake the words 'I am' to denote this body-mind complex. But Sri Ramana taught us that that which is truly denoted by the term 'I am' is only our true being, which is non-dual self-consciousness. This is clearly stated by him in verse 21 of Upadesa Undiyar:

That [one infinite whole that shines thus as 'I am I'] is at all times [in the past, present and future, and in all eternity] the import of the word 'I', because of the absence of our non-existence even in sleep, which is devoid of [any separate or finite sense of] 'I'.
In this verse the word 'that' refers to the one true knowledge, the non-dual whole or infinite totality of being, which shines forth as our true self, 'I [am] I', when our mind or finite individual sense of 'I' (the feeling 'I am this separate individual') merges in the core of our being, as revealed by him in the previous verse of Upadesa Undiyar:
In the place [the core of our being] where 'I' [our mind or individual self] merges [or becomes one], the one [true knowledge] appears [or shines forth] spontaneously [or as ourself] as 'I [am] I'. That itself [or that, which is ourself] is the whole [the infinite totality or fullness of being].
I have discussed the meaning of these two verses in depth on pages 309-314 of Happiness and the Art of Being.

Therefore, we should understand that when we think or say 'I am', what we are expressing is in essence only our experience of self-consciousness, our true self-conscious being. This self-consciousness 'I am' is experienced by us not only in waking and dream, when our mind is present, but also in sleep, when our mind is absent.

When our mind rises and is active in waking and dream, it distorts our natural non-dual self-consciousness 'I am', making us feel 'I am this body, I am this separate individual'. But even when we experience 'I am' in this distorted form, what we are really experiencing is in essence only our own real self, our non-dual self-conscious being.

Therefore 'I am' without any adjuncts or attributes is our essential self-conscious being, which is the infinite, eternal, unchanging, indivisible and absolute reality, whereas the same 'I am' mixed seemingly with adjuncts and experienced as 'I am this body, I am so-and-so, I am a separate individual' is our mind or ego, which is an illusory phantom that appears and disappears, and which is what gives rise to the illusion of our three states, waking, dream and sleep, and to our entire experience of duality, multiplicity and relativity in two of these three states, waking and dream.

4 comments:

Ganesan said...

You say, " The 'I am' just is. It is the permanent abiding reality, our true and essential self-conscious being. The beginning of this dream of our three states, waking, dream and sleep, is our primal imagination, 'I am this body, I am a person, I am so-and-so', which arises when we seemingly ignore our natural clarity of perfect self-consciousness." Is the, 'I am,' then to be distinguished from the, 'I,' thought, the first person, to which attention is required to be directed as against its present tendency of attending to external things? Is the realization of the associationless, 'I am,' the consummation of the search for the source of, 'I,' thought. I also understand the search for the source of, 'I,' thought to be an intense subjective direction of the mind to come upon the, 'I am,' and that the two are not one and the same. To put it more clearly, the, 'I,' is bereft any adjunct, and the, 'I thought,' is merely a subjective direction of the thought process, which culminates in the collapse of the thought process into its source, the, 'I am'. Pray, please clarify this.

Ganesan said...

Will watching the flow of prana, abiding in the interval between the inspiration and expiration of the breaths and vice versa, be a good preliminary step for those who are not very well qualified for self-enquiry by virtue of their vasans? I think this is a gross form of self-enquiry, except that there is the risk of stopping at the level of stoppage of thought flow, which is a form of susupti, with the vasanas being still lodged in the heart. There is also the risk of courting some psychological problem, according to some. Will you kindly elaborate briefly on this?

Ganesan said...

What is the implication of, ' Sphurana,' which is stated by Bhaghavan to be a foretaste of realization? Further, Bhaghavan says that if the mind be fixed on the, 'Sphurana,' and one senses it continuously and automatically, it is realization. What does this mean? Does it constitute a conscious awareness of the Self, as a culmination of Self-enquiry in the form of subject-object duality being eradicated? It is also said by Maharishi that even the, 'Sphurana,' dies. Does this mean that in the state of final realization there does not exist even the notion that one has realized, nor is there an awareness of the Self, which non-awareness is not to be equated with deep sleep. This idea is predominant in the teachings of Nisargdatta Maharaj, according to whom in the primal unicity of awareness there does not exist even the notion that one is aware. The subsequent emanation is spoken by Maharaj as Beingness or I Amness, in the further sliding down there being a relative subject I. Do Bhaghavan's teachings admit of this trinity as a working hypothesis?

Michael James - www.happinessofbeing.com said...

With reference to this post, a friend asked, "Is the self aware of itself without manifestation?" My reply to this question is given in a later post, Self-consciousness alone is true knowledge