I came across this in Nisargadatta Maharaj’s book I Am That, where somewhere around page 800 he recommends to a seeker who was having some trouble that they repeat internally the words ‘I am’ and follow where it’s resonance leads them. I thought it was interesting and worth a try.
After trying this a few times, it became a kind of centring exercise. I don’t feel that I am entirely done with it, but I am also not entirely sure I know what it does. Maybe you will have fun with it.
“Even to say that you are not the body is not quite true. In a way you are all the bodies, hearts and minds and much more. Go deep into the sense of ‘I am’ and you will find. How do you find a thing you have mislaid or forgotten? You keep it in your mind until you recall it. The sense of being, of 'I am' is the first to emerge. Ask yourself whence it comes, or just watch it quietly. When the mind stays in the 'I am' without moving, you enter a state which cannot be verbalised but can be experienced. All you need to do is try and try again. After all the sense ‘I am’ is always with you, only you have attached all kinds of things to it -- body, feelings, thoughts, ideas, possessions etc. All these self-identifications are misleading. Because of them you take yourself to be what you are not.”
— Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Q: How does one go beyond the mind?
M: There are many starting points -- they all lead to the same goal. You may begin with selfless work, abandoning the fruits of action; you may then give up thinking and end in giving up all desires. Here, giving up (tyaga) is the operational factor. Or, you may not bother about any thing you want, or think, or do and just stay put in the thought and feeling 'I am', focussing 'I am' firmly in your mind. All kinds of experience may come to you -- remain unmoved in the knowledge that all perceivable is transient, and only the 'I am' endures.”
— Nisargadatta Maharaj
The purpose of a mantra "I am and a following of where ever its resonance leads them" is to illuminate how ephemeral that concept of an "I" actually is to any objective scrutiny.
The means of getting beyond the mind are a thousand fold but what they all share is the freedom of no longer being exclusively subject to our mind's own storytelling.
I’ve always found that a difficult proposition to accept, @how. There is “someone” looking out of my eyes, and even if I realise I am not the body or the mind, there is still something doing witnessing, something experiencing. It may not be anything you can grasp but there is definitely something there.
That is what Nisargadatta is getting at, that at the root of our existence there is a primal starting point for our experience and that is the sense of ‘I am’. You could read his book I Am That, which is available free as a pdf, which contains many of his conversations with people who came to question him.
One of the things he says is that who you are can only be defined in terms of what you are not, and that you cannot be anything that you can perceive. Not the body, not the world, not your thoughts, not your feelings…
Then we get the. "I am R U?"
And the parallel, "U R am I?"
Need more cofee!
Here is a link to a nice pdf edition of the I Am That ebook, it’s held by many to be a spiritual classic.
“Q: How does one bring to an end this sense of separateness?
M: By focussing the mind on 'I am', on the sense of being, 'I am so-and-so' dissolves; 'I am a witness only' remains and that too submerges in 'I am all'. Then the all becomes the One and the One — yourself, not to be separate from me. Abandon the idea of a separate 'I' and the question of 'whose experience?' will not arise.
Q: You speak from your own experience. How can I make it mine?
M: You speak of my experience as different from your experience, because you believe we are separate. But we are not. On a deeper level my experience is your experience. Dive deep within yourself and you will find it easily and simply. Go in the direction of 'I am'.”
— Nisargadatta Maharaj
It’s interesting that Nisargadatta says that finding and following the “I am” is not the end of the journey. Here’s a series of quotes from him…
After reading some more on this in Ramana Maharshi’s book Be As You Are and experimenting with it over a while I’ve found it really beneficial.
According to Ramana, focussing on the sense of self internally first starts a phase of healing and integration of the mind, leading you eventually to the ‘I Am’, an energetic sense of self, which then dissolves in the cosmic self, leaving you as that cosmic Self. He calls this self enquiry and says it is the short path to self-realisation.
I’ve felt the effects of the reintegration of mind, it has left me with a much clearer perception of body and mind.
Not Zen, just a mind game: You are - Are You?
You are indeed. You are the sum total of the entity of your perception.
You are also a part of and absolutely interconnected with all about you and beyond.
While you ar but a speck of a speck of if a tiny grain of sand on this beach, you are also the totality of the universe. You are insignificant and you are all.
Enjoy your you.
Peace to all
Consciousness can be likened to being sunlight that shines on things seen, heard, felt, and cognised. Whatever the light lands on is not self. And like the sun, the light can never illuminate itself any more than a finger can feel itself.
The self-enquiry ultimately leads to "I am not".
Sabbe dhamma anatta ... All phenomena are not self
It is not actually useful to know where self-enquiry leads, because you start making things up within your mind, your mind and imagination start fooling you.
If you are, see how you aren't. If you aren't, see how you are.
When you find one may you find the other, and neither will lead you very far.
Are you considering being and non-being at the moment @FleaMarket ?
I’m considering mind and no-mind. Also interesting.
Hmm if your consideration is of a mind-no-mind which considers being and non-being, and the mind-no-mind consideration is that of a mind which considers and the absence of that considering mind, then you are considering that which would be my consider-er of the previous comment...I think.
What is meant by mind and no-mind?
It seems by mind, the imperfect concept of 'the mind' or 'my mind'. The thing doing the thinking and imagining.
And by no-mind, the absolute realization of 'I am'. That which is, once moved beyond the mind.
Meanwhile in another story …