Thursday 29 October 2009

Japa of ‘I am’ as an aid to self-attentiveness

After I wrote my previous article, ‘Holy indifference’ and the love to be self-attentive, a series of interesting comments have been posted on it discussing the use of japa (repetition) as an aid to the practice of self-attentiveness. In the most recent comment in this series Hans wrote:

... To me it is important to understand the connection between japa which is an object and “I am”. As I do experience, the “me” practicing japa vanishes and some silent apperception of being appears which I am unable to describe. I suppose this is still another subtle object, however I can’t proceed any further. May be Michael will clear up this state of affairs. ...
Other than our pure and absolutely non-dual self-consciousness ‘I am’, everything that we experience is ‘still another subtle object’, as Hans rightly calls it.

That is, so long as we experience ourself as an individual (a mind or separate consciousness) who is practising self-attentiveness (trying to know ‘who am I?’), we have not yet experienced ‘I am’ in its absolutely pristine form (because when we do experience it thus our mind will be destroyed forever), so whatever we experience while practising is ‘still another subtle object’ — a subtle thought experienced by a separate thinking consciousness.

Wednesday 21 October 2009

‘Holy indifference’ and the love to be self-attentive

In reply to a friend who wrote to me asking for some advice concerning the psychological effects of some health problems that he was experiencing, I wrote as follows:

Whatever we experience in our outward life as a body-bound mind or ego, we are destined to experience for a purpose, and the ultimate purpose behind all that we experience is for us to learn the essential lesson of detachment.

Nothing that we experience — other than ‘I am’ — is real or lasting. It is all just a fleeting appearance, as are the body and mind that we mistake to be ourself. But so long as we attend to these fleeting appearances — that is, so long as we allow them to encroach in our consciousness — their seeming reality will be sustained and nourished.

Therefore, if we wish to rest peacefully in and as our essential being, ‘I am’, we must learn to ignore all appearances, and we can ignore them only by being completely indifferent to them (‘holy indifference’, as the Christian mystics call it). That is, only when we are truly indifferent to everything else, knowing it all to be just a fleeting dream, will we have the strength to cling firmly to ‘I am’ alone.