An Investigation into "I AM"

joejo's picture

Average: 4 (2 votes)

Any impartial investigation requires that we reject authority and therefore we need to set aside what Ramana Maharshi or Shri Nisargdutta Maharaj may have said or not said about the method or what it means to say that "I AM" is kernel of direct path.

Historically this has been the mainstay of all authentic traditions. Gurdjieff has said that this was central to esoteric eastern Christian traditions. Al Ghazzali while commenting on people who have attained gives the first class as (quote), "In them, then, the seen things, but not the seeing, soul, are obliterated."

In a man of the world the various sense stimuli or psychic phenomenon like thinking or emotion take the attention away and outward towards the stimulus leaving the source in darkness.

The center of gravity in this case can be said to the things seen. On the other hand one needs to be aware of the source or seeing self primarily by holding attention on it while at the same time not focusing on anything in particular but being passively aware of sense stimuli and ones own thoughts. This can only be done in meditation and very briefly. So doing would in a flash make one aware of seeing self or I AM.

The tradition also suggests holding of breath or thoughts to gather all ones attention and then by act of will to direct it towards the witness or Self. But the danger is that all attention is taken up in holding thoughts. One needs to strengthen ones Will or the ability to direct attention.

To enhance attention one must first begin by being aware or relaxing ones focus on particulars. This general awareness must also accompany contemplation wherein we delve into our beliefs and remove conflicts and contradiction in daily living. These conflicts drain our energy and there is little left for seeing through our trappings.

By this dual process of relaxation (general awareness) and focusing on challenges of life with a view to resolve them we prepare our attention.

Needless to say this presupposes curtailment of wastage of energy in unnecessary gossip or playing to the gallery.

To summarise to know what "I AM" is, one needs a different kind of two in one attention (awareness + attention). Which requires energy released from trappings that we are stuck in through intelligent application. Which requires at the very basic level sincerity and avoidance of wastage of energy.

lagrima's picture

The need for external authority and the meaning of I Am

First, I disagree, there is nothing like an authority we trust, this is basic on the spiritual path because we know for certain that the other authority we are left with, the mind, is devious for certain. This doesn't mean that we need to surrender completely our critical thinking but a balance between the inner authority and the an outer one is a must. I saw over and over again what happens to those who decided to ignore any external authority (lost in their conditioning) and why (usually ego).

Secondly, I'm not sure at all that abiding in the 'I Am" is identical to Gurdjieff's 'Remember Yourself' or his Presence method (which is more of being aware of being aware). 'I Am' is more of being without being aware of anything, without an object and also a sense of subject (as indicated several times in by several people).

lagrima | Sun, 02/23/2014 - 21:28
joejo's picture

I AM is Witness or Kutastha Chaitanya

Let me start with the second point mentioned by you and reproduced below:-

'I Am' is more of being without being aware of anything, without an object and also a sense of subject (as indicated several times in by several people).

There is a need to discuss this in greater detail for I AM could not be without a sense of subject at lest not in initial realisation for as I quoted AL Ghazzali I give below a passage from Vicekchudamani of Sri Shankaracharya translated by Ramana Maharshi given in page 226 of Collected works:-

“Now I am going to tell you about the real nature of the
supreme Self, by realizing which, man attains liberation and
is freed from bondage. That realization of ‘I’ is indeed the
Self which is experienced as ‘I-I’ shining of its own accord,
the absolute Being, the witness of the three states of waking,
dream, and deep sleep, distinct from the five sheaths, aware
of the mental modes in the waking and dream states, and of
their absence in the state of deep sleep.”

Ramana Maharshi said realisation is a vritti(subtle understanding) or else we perceive nothing in deep sleep but that does not make us realised. World or both subject and object are also not present when we become unconscious(faint).

Question of Authority would require critical investigation.

a) It is understood that ones own mind cannot be trusted but we use the same (mind) to decide on the Guru and then to submit to him as an authority figure.

b) Why do we require authority? Can we not listen to someone with sufficient goodwill and trust and then try to see the the truth for ourselves?

c) When we set up authorities we tend to emphasise the letter more than spirit.

d) Gurus tend to use this to show exclusivity of their knowledge whereas spiritual truths are eternal or Sanatan. It is for this reason Dharma (Law or way or duty of man) is said to be Sanatan.

Suggested Solution

a) Verification by ones own self

b) Shastra Pramana or the authority of Scriptures which does not rest on one individual and hence is not subject to arbitrariness or misunderstanding.

As regards Gurdjieff I wanted to show the historical background of early Church Fathers as also to show what he meant by Self remembering which is more with bringing the whole of oneself to the task. Whole of oneself could be loosely translated as


Being aware of being aware if a head brain activity then is the very antithesis. Besides if awareness is being aware of being aware then who is aware of that and it would lead to infinite regress. In Vedanta therefore it is stated that Awareness is only One and our true nature. For checking what Gurdjieff meant we may refer to Views from the Real World.

joejo | Mon, 02/24/2014 - 06:23