THE “I”

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THE “I”

 

Stone: all Centering stones

The Mantra: So’ham

 

Note: as explained in a further chapter entitled “The Self or Soul – HIS MANY NAMES – A CLARIFICATION” there is much confusion about such terms as soul, self and “I

To make just one example, according to the Viveka-Chudamani: “The awareness that knows everything whether waking, dreaming or in deep sleep, and whether or not there is movement in the mind, that is the “I”.”

But this awareness is almost completely impersonal, therefore the Viveka-Chudamani meant our Higher Self as the “I”

The Key:

 

We do not have just one “I”

 

but several, and each has its own blind will and specific

direction, desires and fears.

 

Each of our thoughts, emotions or actions exists only in rapport

to a subject , an “I” who never reveals himself

until consciously sought out.

 

a) The issue is introduced by noting that

 

no neurologist ever found any “I” sitting at some control panel inside

our head at all: some say that it is the observing “Witness”

or that it is just pure awareness.

 

These are indeed our highest parts, but they aren’t individualized:

 

finding who we really are requires dissolving our sense

of being an “I”, being our self-image into…

impersonality.

 

Impersonality frightens most people

Is it a problem for you?

It shouldn’t be.

As Pema Chödrön amongst others pointed out,

 

What we call ‘I’ is just a swinging door which moves

when we inhale and when we exhale.

 

When your mind is… calm enough to follow this movement,

there is nothing, no world, no mind nor body,

just a swinging door.

What does the swinging door represent?

As Sri Aurobindo noted,

 

This strutting “I” of human self and pride

Is a puppet built by Nature for her use,

And dances as her strong compulsions bid,

Forcefully feeble, brilliantly obtuse.

 

The Upanishad has a warning:

 

Each wave in the brain that says “I”
and “mine” immediately puts a chain

around us and makes us slaves.

 

b) Are you looking for your “I”?

 

The “I” that almost everyone is so identified with

IS NOT US

and has never been.

 

It is only a PUPPET pulled around by the invisible wires of all the forces

of our life and conditionings going on mechanically in all sorts of inane directions.

 

For the most part, what we think of as ‘I’ is nothing more

than a whole heap of conditionings.

 

As Gurdjeff pointed out,

 

Man has no individualI. But there are, instead, hundreds

and thousands of separate small I’s.

 

Each minute, each moment, man is saying or thinking,‘I.’ And each time

this I is different. Just now it was a thought, now it is a desire,

now a sensation, now another thought,

and so on, endlessly.

 

Man such as we know him, the ‘man-machine,’ the man who cannot ‘do,’ and with whom and through whom everything ‘happens,’ cannot have a permanent and single I. His I changes as quickly as his thoughts, feelings and moods, and he makes a profound mistake in considering himself always one and the same person;

 

in reality he is always a different person, not the one

he was a moment ago.

 

Ramakrishna made this very clear example about it:

 

Imagine a limitless expanse of water: above and below, before and behind,

right and left, everywhere there is water.

 

In that water is a jar filled with water: there is water inside the jar

and outside it, but the jar is still there.

The ‘I’ is the jar.

 

Are you the jar or the water?

Yes, in a certain sense you are both,

 

but can only experience yourself as one

or the other at the same time.

 

Why do you keep identifying yourself with the jar?

Does it make you feel safe?

It is yet another deception.

Nisargadatta Maharaj speaking from the Divine standpoint adds that:

 

I am the ‘I’ in you; you and I have never been apart, nor ever can be.

What you believe to be the ‘I’ in the ‘I am’

IS NOT YOU.

 

Why?

Who – or what – is it then?

Ha ha ha ha!

 

c) Our so called “I” is actually a constantly changing fragment

of the Divine Design’s infinitely complex mosaic,

 

and by concentrating on the whole rather than on the fragment

immense vistas and possibilities, wonder upon wonder

become accessible to us.

 

A metaphor that many Teachers made along the ages with similar words

is that like the sun impartially, casts his wonderful light on everything without being affected whether its light rays are cast on a wonderful garden or on the dirtiest sewer,

 

so our inner being is forever free of all the miseries,

suffering, uncertainty of our “I”.

 

According to Ramakrishna,

 

The I can be useful, better let it mature

than destroying it.

 

To remain in the world a bit of I is indispensable to protect oneself.

However the I must not be taken too seriously,

 

and you must be aware that

it is just a mask.

 

Are you aware that it is just a mask?

If yes, to which extent?

If not, look at it once more.

Robert Adams has a warning:

 

When you abide in the I you are abiding

in the ego.

 

The I is really the ego, the small I.It turns into the Self eventually.
All this begins by quieting the mind, by not allowing the mind to react to conditions and situations.

I’m not only speaking of negative conditions and situations,

I’m speaking of everything that arises in the mind.

 

d) When Mère was asked: “Are the “I” and the ego the same thing?”

Her answer was that

 

Generally they are.

 

Wu Hsin sums it all up thus:

 

That which rises and falls is the inauthentic-I. That which has neither

origin nor end is the authentic-I. All things that arise and set

do so within this authentic-I,

 

This inauthentic-I or signatory self wants to affix its name on everything.

Its logic is that the more I do, the more I am, the more that is mine, the more I am.

 

The authentic-I is that subjective reality which

Underlies the individual “I” and

Allows for the experience of “I-am-ness” as one’s existence.

It is the authentic-I that enables the statement “I”.

 

The Dreamgame:

In the Dreamgame, the apparent “I” is a DRAWBACK and a TRAP.

Ramana Maharshi made a very deep observation: in the ancient question “Who am I?”

 

“I” refers to the ego.

 

Trying to trace it and find its source, we see that it has no separate

existence but merges with the real “I”:

 

Which is the real I?

Gurdjeff remind us again that:

 

It is the greatest mistake to think that man

is always one and the same.

 

A man is never the same for long. He is continually changing. He seldom remains the same even for half an hour.

 

Man has no permanent and unchangeable I.Every thought,

every mood, every desire, every sensation, says “I”.

Man has no individual I.

 

Just now it was a thought, now it is a desire, now a sensation, now

another thought, and so on, endlessly.Man is a plurality.

Man’s name is legion.

 

The Devil’s Advocate:

Every other sentient being in the universe has no “I”

How did the “I” come about in man?

My client invented it, of course!

It was his very best masterpiece of all.

 

The Khdir:

 

Ultimately, the so called “I” is but a thought,

only more persistent than the others.

It has no connection with reality.

 

The word “house”, say, relates to an object you can see and the word “peace” to something you can feel, but ask yourself:

 

this little word we use all the time, the ambiguous word “I”,

to what does it actually correspond?

 

Are you wasting your time trying to find it?

 

It doesn’t correspond to anything real at all.

 

Words of Power:

 

Only the Divine has the right

to say “I”

 

See your “I” like you would see any other obstacle

trying to bar your way.

 

“When we look *with* the ‘I’ we dream. When we look

*for* the ‘I’ we awaken.”

Mooji

 

“In peace and silence the skin of the “I” dissolves

and the inner and the outer become one.”

Nisargadatta Maharaj

 

“All that is other than the true “I”

must be slain.” Rumi

 

The Way:

Mère offers the best Way: tell the Divine with Her words:

 

I aspire to the day when I can no longer say “I”

for I shall be Thou.

 

Robert Adams’ advice is:

 

You should now attempt to work on yourself,where you send

the I-thought from the brain,back to the spiritual center,

the spiritual Heart.

 

You should immediately attempt to do this. I keep calling it the I-thought.

It’s a thought. There is no I. This gives you a clue.

 

Ramana Maharshi spoke of it as if it was the simplest thing in the world:

By enquiring into the nature of the I,

the I perishes.

 

With it ‘you’ and ‘he’ also perish. The resultant state, which shines

as Absolute Being, is our own natural state,

the Self.

 

His advice is:

 

If you stay as the “I”, your being alone, without thought,

the “I” thought will disappear, and then

the delusion will vanish forever.

 

Our body doesn’t say ‘I’, for in deep sleep it is no more

and then everything else emerges.

 

Enquire with a keen mind whence

this ‘I’ emerges.

 

The `I` in its purity is experienced in intervals between the two states or two thoughts.
When one turns within and searches whence this “I”

thought arises, the shamed “I” vanishes

and the wisdom quest begins.

 

Jack O’Keefe’s advice is:

 

The I is just waves on the top. Sink to the bottom

of the ocean and dissolve there.

 

Question/ko’han1 to 3:

How do you conceive of your own “I”?

Why?

Which frames of reference di you use to evaluate it?

Question/ko’han 4 to 7:

Are you SURE that your vision of it is the right one?

What makes you so sure?

Have you considered the possibility that you don’t really know?

If yes, how will you find out the real nature of your “I”

 

Moojihas the last word:

 

Life – who lives it?
Knowledge – who seeks it?

Death – who fears it?

Paths – who follows them?

Enlightenment – who attains it?

Now, find out what “I” is.

 

Practice:

 

1) Consider this passage of Gurdjeff

 

One of man’s important mistakes, one which must be remembered,

is his illusion in regard to his I.

Man such as we know him, the “man-machine,” the man who cannot “do,” and with whom and through whom everything “happens,”

 

cannot have a permanent and single I.

 

His I changes as quickly as his thoughts, feelings and moods, and he makes a profound mistake in considering himself always one and the same person; in reality he isalways a different person, not the one he was a moment ago.

 

Man has no permanent and unchangeable I.Every thought,

every mood, every desire, every sensation, says “I”.

 

It is the greatest mistake to think that man is always one and the same. A man is never the same for long. He is continually changing. He seldom remains the same even for half an hour.

 

Without self-knowledge, without understanding the working and functions

of his machine, man cannot be free, he cannot govern himself

and he will always remain a slave.

 

2) Meditate on these words of Wei Wu Wei:

 

As long as there is a “you doing or not doing, thinking or not-thinking,

“meditating” or non-meditating you are no closer to home

than the day you were born.

 

However many years you may have been at it, and whatever you have understood or not understood,

 

you have not yet started if there is a “you” that is still in the saddle.

As long as you do anything from a “you”,

you are in bondage.

 

As long as there is an “I” thinking and feeling, no matter how that ”I”

may be conceived, that “I” is an object and is bound

for all objects are necessarily bound.

 

3) Meditate also on these words of Mère:

 

“It is I who have done this or that, I who am thanked. . . ”

 

Pernicious illusion, obscure falsehood, now

are you discovered and unmasked.

 

That is the maleficent canker corroding the fruit

of the action, falsifying all its results.

 

She adds this Invocation from Her old writings:

 

O Lord, O my sweet Master, sole Reality,

dispel this feeling of the “I”.

 

I have now understood that so long as there will be a manifested universe, the “I” will remain necessary for Thy manifestation; to dissolve, or even to diminish or weaken the “I”, is to deprive Thee of the means of manifestation, in whole or part.

 

But what must be radically and definitively suppressed is the illusory thought,

the illusory feeling, the illusory sensation

of the separate “I”.

 

At no moment, in no circumstances must we forget that our “I”

has no reality outside Thee.

 

Contemplate:

 

1) These words of Papaji:

 

So everybody says, “I am …” everybody says, “I am so and so, you are so and so, he is so and so, and this is the world.”

 

No one ever questions, “What am I?

 

Where do I come from? Where do I return to? What is

the purpose of my coming here?

What have I done?”

 

So this question is never asked. “Who am I?” is never asked. So you have to question, “Who am I?”

 

And then you have to search for its answer by yourself here and now.

And this is going to free you.

 

2) These verses of Wu Hsin:

 

To find the I

within every my is

the key that unlocks

the Great Gate of the Understanding.

 

The I that one thinks one is,

is merely a survival mechanism for

the form it is associated with.

 

The unstained apperception of this

facilities the return to

what is prior to all I’s.

it is here that resting in being occurs.

 

3) These verses from Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri:

 

This strutting “I” of human self and pride

Is a puppet built by Nature for her use,

And dances as her strong compulsions bid,

 

Forcefully feeble, brilliantly obtuse.

Our thinking is her leap of fluttering mind,

We hear and see by her constructed sense:

Our force is hers; her colors have combined

Our fly-upon-the-wheel magnificence.

He sits within who turns on her machine

These beings, portions of his mystery,

Many dwarf beams of his great calm sunshine,

A reflex of his sole infinity.

 

One mighty Self of cosmic act and thought

Employs this figure of a unit nought.

 

Haiku:

 

I also used to believe that I was my “I”,

oh my, oh my, but actually this “I” had me

until I finally realized that

it had never been real at all…

 

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