A CONVERSATION WITH A FRIEND:
Friend: How does one forget one’s “self”?
Reply: By believing and feeling that ‘I’ refers to a mortal body mind, the Self is overlooked.
Yet, a more interesting question is what is the path to awaken from this belief and feeling of separation that keeps haunting us?
Friend: Yes, many of you teachers keep pointing out that the vital question is how to awaken from the illusion of a separate self. I don’t exactly know where to place any effort in that regard. Even the application of effort is a reinforcement of the illusion itself. Even goal setting reinforces the illusion, does it not? How do you recommend approaching the situation?
For example,”Yes! It’s me. I’m going to lose the illusion of a separate self! I’m going to do it!”
Reply: Simply investigate the belief that you are a man, that you are a body mind. This investigation makes sense since most of us believe that we are the body mind. But are we certain?
If we believe that the earth is flat, it makes sense to investigate such belief. Does it not? There is no need to adopt a new belief, but simply to investigate the belief that I am what appears, that I am a body mind.
Friend: Okay, but what kind of Investigation is to be undertaken? Sitting still and thinking of it? Some kind of contemplation? What do you mean by “investigation”?
Reply: Start with a blank slate.
Then, we contemplate the following fact: ‘I perceive the body mind. I take care of the body mind. Therefore I am not the body mind.’ Does that make sense for starters?
Friend: Okay, that makes sense. You are suggesting a logical approach. A thinking approach?
Reply: Atmananda Menon referred to this approach as ‘High Reasoning’. But it does not matter what you call it.
We are gifted with the faculty of reason. I am simply using this faculty. It is that simple.
You also are the manager of your feelings and bodily sensations. Therefore you are not the feelings nor the sensations. Makes sense, no?
Friend: Yes, perhaps.
Reply: Also consider that you perceive the oak tree. But you are not the oak tree.
Friend: Yes, I am not what I perceive
Reply: Good. The oak tree does not know you
You know the oak tree.
Reply: Whatever you perceive does not know you.
You know the perceived but the perceived does not know you
Friend: I seem to perceive you. You seem to perceive me.
Reply: You perceive a body mind, a tree, a thought…
The body mind, the tree, the thought does not perceive…
Friend: Yes, a thought does not perceive.
Reply: A thought is not knowing. The perceiver is knowing
Reply: Therefore the thought that says: I am a man, I am born is not to be trusted.
Friend: Okay, good, the thought that is of me, is not to be trusted. The thought, I exist, is not to be trusted? Is that what you mean?
Reply: Thought is known. Thought is not knowing
Friend: Yes, I think I understand that. Thought is Unknowing
Reply: Correct. On the other hand there is a knowingness that bypasses thought.
Reply: The knowingness that there is awareness bypasses thought, does not rely on thought. In other words, we do not think there is awareness.
We know there is awareness. This knowingness is direct and does not use thought.
Friend: Yes, I think I understand that. We have this awareness that there is awareness. No one has to teach us that.
Another example of knowingness that bypasses awareness is:
I Know I AM
Meaning I know there is some reality that (conventionally) we call ‘I’
Friend: Knowingness that bypasses awareness? Or knowingness that bypasses thought?
Reply: This knowingness bypasses thought, does not use thought.
Friend: Yes, I know that I am. I am aware that I am
Reply: Let’s recapitulate, OK?
Friend: Yes, I am following you so far. Let’s recapitulate.
1. Thought is not knowing, does not know the knower, and therefore whatever thought says about I is off
2. Thought is known but it is not knowing
3. Awareness is undeniable and is known directly (bypassing thought)
4. Presence (I AM) is undeniable and is known directly (bypassing thought)
And finally: I AM and AWARENESS are One .
Friend: Yes we agreed on everything except that I am and awareness are one
Reply: I AM=AWARENESS
One and the same
Aware Presence is ‘I’. The one reality
Friend: Let’s go into it, OK?
Reply: In your experience right now, What is it that is aware?
Friend: I don’t know what it is. It seems to have the qualities of being like an impartial, impersonal, mirror which reflects everything impartially, but that’s just a thought.
Reply: We have already determined that thought is known and not knowing. Therefore thought is not the direction and is not what we should rely on.
Again, in your experience right now, What is it that is aware?
It’s really a simple question 🙂
Friend: I hate to say it, but I am
Next question: What is in your direct experience the distance between the I that is aware and awareness?
Friend: I would say there is no distance. But I’m not sure that’s not just a thought.
Reply: You need to be sure. Please take more time to look at this question: What is the distance between the I that is aware and awareness?
Friend: I’m having trouble understanding that question. You are asking about a distance.
Reply: OK. How many inches (in your direct experience) is there between ‘I’ that is aware and awareness?
Friend: The I that is aware seems to be awareness itself. I am aware. I perceive. Perhaps I misperceive, but I am the perceiver. I am aware.
Awareness is I
One and the same
Friend: Okay, I agree
Reply: You do not know that via thought. You know that via direct looking and not via thinking. This knowledge bypasses thought and thus it is certain.
It is ‘I’ that knows thought. Thought does not know ‘I’. True knowledge bypasses thought and is absolute.
Friend: Yes I agree
True knowledge bypasses thought. Thoughts can be erroneous.
Reply: Therefore whenever thought says:
I am Joe, I am Bill or Mary
I am sad, I am happy
I am great, I am bad
I am tall
I am old
All of it is nonsense since thought (we have determined) does not know you, thought is not knowing.
You know thought and knowingness belongs to ‘I’ and not to what is known.
Ignorance is the belief that I am a mortal body mind named Mary or John.
Wisdom is knowing truth via contemplation and awakening from ignorance. Knowing yourSelf as Aware Presence. Wisdom reveals that what you truly are is beyond the mortality of world body mind. The greek summed the teaching this way: Know yourSelf. Gnothi Sauton
Friend: I am aware of constantly arising thoughts and I have no choice in the matter. Thoughts arise unbidden. Perhaps I have a choice in whether or not to believe them, but I have no choice in the matter of whether or not they arise. Where does the wisdom come from? How does one dispel ignorance? How do I distinguish between wisdom and ignorance?
Reply: Thought are like the weather. They are impersonal arisings. Does the weather bother you?
The weather may bother the body especially when the body is aged and the weather is horrid, hot or cold.
Ignorance is dispelled in the contemplation which leads to seeing through the illusion of resistance and the illusion of the me-impression that is the resistance.
Friend: I see. Yes I like the phrase: ‘I am the sky, everything else is the weather.’
Reply: That is a nice saying. Therefore thoughts are dealt with like the weather. When it rains, we close the windows and rest on the couch 🙂You dispel ignorance by noticing that whenever you are living according to thoughts that say: I am Steve, I hate this or that… You are down the roller coaster ride. You need to go back to the contemplation: Am I defined by thoughts and feelings? After all thoughts and feelings do not know me, it is I that knows thoughts and feelings… What am I truly? Return to the real ‘I’ (Aware Presence) and not to the alleged I that is defined by thoughts and feelings.
You cannot avoid being infected by wisdom when you contemplate truth.
And you cannot avoid being infected by the negative emotions when you do not contemplate truth and you rely on thoughts and feelings to lead you.
Friend: So are you saying that there are decisions to be made? Judgments to be made? This is a truth, and that is not a truth?
Reply: Well, we believed the earth is flat… until we didn’t
Reply: A determined investigation and inquiry into the beliefs in separation will cure ignorance. Thus Sat-Chit-Ananda is revealed.
Friend: How should I proceed in life? What has value? I have time to do practice. What should I do? What do you recommend?
Reply: Pythagoras and others investigated the belief that the earth is flat. Investigate the truth. Investigate the belief that I am a mortal body mind.
Once you are certain that you are not the body mind, once you are certain that you are awareness, then live as that.
First come to the understanding that I=Awareness
Beyond any doubt
That is Phase 1
Phase 2 is living according to your new understanding.
Once you realize the earth is round, you no longer live as if the earth is flat.
Friend: Okay, I like that advice. I will focus my attention on investigating whether or not what I am is awareness. I will do that. I will contemplate what I am truly.