"I am" is that which lies between "I" and "I am something"

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The notion "I am" is central and common to many of the spiritual paths. Advaita clearly focuses on it; abiding in that sense of "I am" is the main advice of Nisargadatta Maharaj and Ramana Maharshi; Eckfart Tolle mentions it quite often as well as much of the other contemporary spiritual teachers; and so many spiritual seekers report that it was the most incredible doorway that enabled them to go beyond this reality to deeper spiritual realms.

There is maybe no other spiritual concept that is so practical and important on the spiritual path like "I am" (perhaps except for "God", but this concept has become somewhat useless due to its misuse, overuse and too many attached connotations). "I am" is indeed extremely powerful as it the closest thing to depict who you really are and abiding in it (after realizing what it means) is maybe the best and quickest doorway to the beyond.

And still, so many feel frustrated of not being able to be sure what the true meaning of this important "I am" term really is. See for example in http://www.gurusfeet.com/forum/what-fuck-does-nisargadatta-mean-quot-i-a....

We will try to solve this frustration here because, after all, the notion of "I am" is simpler than you can imagine. Maybe, part of the problem is that though immensely powerful, "I am" is also immensely simple and accessible while people are conditioned to believe that powerful things are supposed to be complex and thus they tend to look for complex explanations only.

So, let's start. The main problem with explaining to someone else what the "I am" notion is lies in the fact that we cannot define it in a positive way as we are used to define almost everything in life. In other words, you cannot say in an accurate way what "I am" is, you can only say what it is not and let the other conclude the rest.

The most simple and precise definition of "I am" is that it is not "I" and it is not "I am something" - it is that which lies between these two things.

It is not "I" - it is not your sense of individuality, it is not your feeling of yourself as a subject, it is not a separate you - all these are false notions of yourself created by the mind (a fact that can be verified by simple meditation techniques).

It is also not "I am something" - it is not your feeling that you are the body, it is not your feeling that you are the mind, the thoughts, the feelings, the persona, the psyche, or any other object, mental or physical, that you are identified with and got used with time since birth to perceive as being you.

In other words, "I am", your true nature (at least for now), is neither a subject ("I") nor an object ("I am this or that") - it is more of a state, being, flow of a river ("I am") - the only way you can remotely sense yourself is by sensing your very being, anything further is a false perception. It is like a river - there is not really a true object that we can point at and say that it is the "river" - the water that constitutes the river change every moment, its composition and location change every moment - the best you can say is that there is some flow there which is the river. The same applies to the sensing of your true nature which is "I am" - that which lies between "I" and "I am this or that".

And the sensing of "I am", the "I amness" is accessible, it is easy, it has been always there before and after identification with body and mind took place, you have simply got used to it and thus have ignored it - it is this basic feeling of being, of feeling existent. Look for it and it will unfold.