Once we have eliminated all that we are not, we may begin to investigate what remains. What remains must be what we are. It must be who ‘I’ am. Or what this thing called ‘I’ is.
We know we are not our occupation, what we do for a living. We are not the role we play in life, such as mother, or father, or son, or daughter, or boss, or employee. We are not our thoughts, or our feelings. We are not I want a sandwich, or jealousy. What is left?
In fact, nothing is left. And that is where it gets interesting.
As we eliminate that which we normally associate ourselves with, those qualities we previously took for ‘I’, we find that we are left with nothing more than a statement: I am. But we are still left with the question who, or what, is this ‘I’?
And as we ask the question, the temptation is to return to whatever answer fills in the blank. We perceive a need to complete the statement with something after the word ‘am.’ Out of habit we return to safe, easy statements of qualities. I am a nurse. I am a husband. I am a student. We might say I am passionate, a dreamer. Or I am a cynic. Or I am nuts.
But we have already determined we are none of these things in essence.
So once again we return to the original question Who Am I? And we realize that answers relying on qualifiers are ultimately insufficient. We realize that, in truth, when we ask the question Who Am I? there can only be one true answer.
It is simply, I am.
And we don’t like this answer. It’s not really an answer.
But if we continue to ask the question, what we realize is that there is no answer to the question. All we can say is I am.
And if we really, truly see that — that is, not just understand it intellectually, as an interesting mental puzzle, but have an actual experience of that as revelation — an amazing thing happens. ‘I’ is revealed to be false. A thing that does not exist. It is only a thought that falls away leaving only am. Only ‘am-ness.’ Pure being.
With this realization comes another: I Am That. The am-ness, the pure being, is all that remains, and all that is.
As we experience this truth, the notion of ‘I’ literally dissolves. We can see this. We can sense it. Feel it. It’s an actual, livable experience. It is a knowing unlike any piece of knowledge communicated in a book or by a teacher. While it is a piece of knowledge that can be communicated by a book or by a teacher, it is something much more. Something infinite, and eternal. And knowable.
It’s something you can realize for yourself. It is available to you as a direct, experiential knowing.
Don’t take my word for it. See for yourself.
To be concluded in Self-Inquiry, Part 3.
I am that I am. ~ Exodus 3:14
That we may merge into the deep and dazzling darkness, vanish into it, dissolve in it forever in an unbelievable bliss beyond imagination, for absolute nothingness represents absolute bliss. ~ St. Gregory of Nyssa
Reality is simply the loss of ego. Destroy the ego by seeking its identity. Because the ego is not an entity, it will automatically vanish and reality will shine forth by itself. ~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
Relax and watch the ‘I am’. Reality is just behind it. Keep quiet, keep silent; it will emerge, or rather, it will take you in. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Above all the grace and gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self. ~ St. Francis of Assisi
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