On the "I am" and The Awareness Behind It

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Behold, the real experiencer is not the mind, but myself, the light in which everything appears. Self is the common factor at the root of all experience, the awareness in which everything happens. The entire field of consciousness is only as a film, or a speck, in ‘I am’. This ‘I am-ness’ is, being conscious of consciousness, being aware of itself. And it is indescribable, because it has no attributes. It is only being my self, and being my self is all that there is. Everything that exists, exists as my self. There is nothing which is different from me. There is no duality and, therefore, no pain. There are no problems. It is the sphere of love, in which everything is perfect. What happens, happens spontaneously, without intentions — like digestion, or the growth of the hair. Realize this, and be free from the limitations of the mind.

Behold, the deep sleep in which there is no notion of being this or that. Yet ‘I am’ remains. And behold the eternal now. Memory seems to bring things to the present out of the past, but all that happens does happen in the present only. It is only in the time-less now that phenomena manifest themselves. Thus, time and causation do not apply in reality. I am prior to the world, body and mind. I am the sphere in which they appear and disappear. I am the source of them all, the universal power by which the world with its bewildering diversity becomes manifest.

In spite of its primevality, however, the sense of ‘I am’ is not the Highest. It is not the Absolute. The sense, or taste of ‘I am-ness’ is not absolutely beyond time. Being the essence of the five elements, it, in a way, depends upon the world. It arises from the body, which, in its turn, is built by food, consisting of the elements. It disappears when the body dies, like the spark extinguishes when the incense stick burns out. When pure awareness is attained, no need exists any more, not even for ‘I am’, which is but a useful pointer, a direction-indicator towards the Absolute. The awareness ‘I am’ then easily ceases. What prevails is that which cannot be described, that which is beyond words. It is this ‘state’ which is most real, a state of pure potentiality, which is prior to everything. The ‘I am’ and the universe are mere reflections of it. It is this reality which a jnani has realized.

The best that you can do is to listen attentively to the jnani — of whom Sri Nisargadatta is a living example — and to trust and believe him. By such listening you will realize that his reality is your reality. He helps you in seeing the nature of the world and of the ‘I am’. He urges you to study the workings of the body and the mind with solemn and intense concentration, to recognize that you are neither of them and to cast them off. He suggests that you return again and again to ‘I am’ until it is your only abode, outside of which nothing exists; until the ego as a limitation of ‘I am’, has disappeared. It is then that the highest realization will just happen effortlessly.

Mark the words of the jnani, which cut across all concepts and dogmas. Maharaj says:“Until one becomes self-realized, attains to knowledge of the self, transcends the self, until then, all these cock-and-bull stories are provided, all these concepts.” Yes, they are concepts, even ‘I am’ is, but surely there are no concepts more precious. It is for the seeker to regard them with the utmost seriousness, because they indicate the Highest Reality. No better concepts are available to shed all concepts.

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From the foreward of "I Am That" p.viii & ix