Posted 28 November 2016 by Sal
Merging the personal feeling 'I am' with the infinite 'I'
When I was on the path I carried “I Am That” by Nisargadatta everywhere I went. I loved Nisargadatta, I still love Nisargadatta. He died in 1981. When I was India in the early 2000s I went to visit his house twice, even though he was dead for twenty years, because I loved him so much. But I don't read his book anymore. A new Facebook friend posted a video of Nisargadatta, so I looked at it for a few minutes. He is saying what I'm saying. I didn't get it back then. Specifically, what I thought would be nice to look into, because Nisargadatta's teaching, which he got from his teacher, is to hold on to the sense-feeling 'I Am', and then go beyond, or prior to that into the universal I Am. Then what he says in the video, is hold on to the sense of I Am until you merge with the infinite I Am.
Nisargadatta spoke Marathi, (the Indian language from the state of Maharashtra), he didn't speak English, so we don't know if that's exactly what he said. But even if he did say that, it's not quite accurate, there's no merging. He says you're going to merge with the infinite, and so you get the idea that something's going to change and you're going to merge with something else, but that's not exactly true. He showed you what to hold on to but he did not show you how to see beyond or prior to, he didn't show you how to do that. He said, hold on to the feeling of I Am and maybe one day you will go beyond. With the work we do here, we go right there, beyond that sense/feeling I Am.
I'd like to look into that a little bit. Because, you can't speak about it. You can't talk about it and describe it and have someone understand it philosophically. You have to let them see for themselves. And that's what we do. Something else he said in the video, which I agree with, is there's always going to be a feeling of I Am, separate here, which comes and goes. This personal feeling comes and goes, just like all other appearances. We have come to believe somehow on the path that that's going to disappear. It's misunderstood. No sense of self or no self. That's just another appearance, another feeling, which YOU know! You know that feeling, it's not you.
So, what I'd like to do, is just see for ourselves, what actually he's speaking about when he says you go prior to the I Am and merge with the universal I Am. I call it a shift of knowing, not a new experience. What we believe now is I Am, because there's a feeling here, this limited, and I say claustrophobic feeling. I can't escape it, it's who I am essentially. And for most of us, we go through our whole life believing that I'm trapped here, I'm limited. But, that sense of self is different from the belief in self, the story of self, past and future self, which I always say is easy, we just jump off of that immediately. But still there's the feeling of location here, which sometimes is not here, as in deep sleep or sometimes during the day. It's coming and going, it's appearing and disappearing like a wave. So then, what is he really speaking about, is the question. The answer is not to be answered by words. The answer is, let's find out. Let's be on holiday together.
First thing I'd like to do is to see the opposite. You can keep your eyes open or closed, whatever you prefer. Now, put in effort and say to yourself, “I am here”. Nisargadatta says, focus on the feeling of I Am, to the exclusion of everything else, thoughts, desires, just focus on the sense/feeling 'I am', very personal and limited. Now go in there and do that. Really feel yourself limited here. After a few moments read on.
See there's a real feeling, I Am, here. Try it again.
Now relax the focus of attention. Allow attention to be open and all-inclusive. That feeling is still here, but so are all of the other objects, sights, sounds, thoughts, sensations, etc., aren't they.
What is here, essential to all of that, is this knowing of all of that. This knowing. And in this knowing you still know 'I am', don't you?
But it's not, I am here separate, it's just I am. It's not “I am claustrophobically limited in this body”, it's just I am, this knowing.
I am. It's all knowing, it's all-inclusive.
The bible says God is all knowing, is all-inclusive, is eternal, God is ubiquitous. This knowing has no location, it's just knowing, isn't it. So you see nothing happens, there's no merging with this knowing. You already are this knowing, you don't merge with it. What happens is, you now know yourself, not so limited. I have feelings like everyone, we all do. But honestly, I guess I take it for granted now, I don't feel myself claustrophobically trapped, probably which I think I used to. I don't feel myself “out” either, nothing of the sort, but, the knowing is much more obvious for me, and dominant, limitless knowing, which has no form and no location. That's the most obvious for all of us here actually, it's not subtle.
Somehow this relates to the thought of not being spiritual anymore. Because I really don't pay attention to anything anymore like that. To me it's not important if I see this knowing. This shift of knowing gives me so much safety in that everything's alright. That I can identify as my name and form, I can say that's a chair. I can just be a normal interacting person and act normally. Why not! I don't have to seek for this merging with the knowing, or merging with a tree, or merging with a table and seeing it's me or something. It just doesn't interest me anymore because it's clear to me. And knowing this, it just relaxes everything. The identification doesn't bother me. Back then I used to be, every day, trying to be in the now so much. What a straining thing to do! This urge to see something, this urge to be that, or see that. Now I don't have to. I don't need to see it for weeks and days, I just don't care if I see it, if it presents it to me, or any spiritual experiences. Just being normal, and that's the biggest relief to me actually.
You've just written the whole book right there.
No Sal, I've read the book!
But you got the message. That's a very mature recognition and view right there. Like I say, once you know there's no Santa Claus you don't have to keep looking under the chimney anymore. You just keep going about your life, you know there's no Santa Claus. And that's great. Full circle. You go halfway and you think you're awareness, then you're finished and you know you are you again. Like I say also, I'm Sal, I've got no problem with Sal, I have no argument with Sal. Sal is Sal, he can't be anyone other than Sal. So I'm very happy to hear that from you. That's wonderful. That's exactly what I hope to share with people right there. Which I know almost everyone here gets. And that's why I don't read books or do any of that, I just live.
If I may paraphrase the Zen saying, 'Before enlightenment chop wood and carry water. As a seeker of enlightenment, don't chop wood or carry water because you are only awareness and wood and water are illusions. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.'