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Who Is the I Am?
Alex: First and foremost, I just want to send my boundless love and gratitude to you and Ram.
Hopefully, you will see why as you read this.
Also, I hope that the understanding that I know you have is strong and clear enough to blast through any of that unpleasant tamas that has arisen recently.
Sundari: Thanks, Alex. Yes indeed, self-knowledge never fails. All is good, tamas has receded back into balance with sattva, instrument healing well, life is grand!
Alex: I have been following your sage advice about discriminating every time the I-thought arises and eventually all the discrimination led back to “I am.”
Here’s how it went from there:
“I am” is nothing but a thought, therefore mithya.
In fact it is the primal vasana, the inclination to exist (and, dear God, since vasanas are deepened when acted on with a sense of doership, how unbelievably binding must the very vasana of doership itself be).
Sundari: Your thinking is muddled here. You seem to be saying that the “I am” thought is a primal vasana that inclines the self to exist. But the self is not only always existent and does not need objects to exist, it is existence itself. Furthermore and very importantly, awareness is never bound by maya, the gunas/vasanas. It only appears to be bound because of the deluding power of maya, which is an eternal power in awareness, but maya is an object known to awareness. For the jiva/subtle body, the self apparently under the spell of ignorance, maya is not endless, because self-knowledge ends ignorance permanently with the removal of ignorance. You still have a fundamental confusion between satya and mithya in your reasoning; see below.
Alex: Therefore nothing but rajas, a projection.
What I was taking to be subject was not truly subject.
Then it hit home: “I am” is unreal, only an object arising in awareness.
Sundari: Still wrong – your reasoning is reversed. The “I am” is not unreal. “I am” is real, as it points to the only real thing there is, the self, the knower of the “I am” thought. The question is, as always, who is the “I” referring to? Remember that moksa is discriminating the self, satya, from the objects that appear in you, mithya. The idea of “I am” points to your is-ness/am-ness and is a thought, an object known to you. But although the idea “I am” is mithya, it is “real” mithya (relatively speaking) because it reveals your am-ness/is-ness.
Once the idea has led you to your existence, your being, the self, then you are meant to keep your attention on the experience of your beingness, not the idea “I am.” This is called yoga – doing inquiry into who is the knower of objects, all thoughts included. You can get stuck meditating on the “I am” without realizing moksa, “I am.” Many inquirers try to cling to the “I-sense” or the “I am” as a practice, which boils down to clinging to something that is only apparently real, so you are right, in part.
Once your attention is fixed on the “I am” you look at the objects that present themselves in light of your being, awareness, until the firm conviction that everything experienced in the light of “I am” is rendered unreal, i.e. mithya.
I say your thinking is still reversed because all along you are assuming that awareness is an object. If you weren’t you would refer to “it” as me. The “I am” teaching just directs attention to you, awareness. That you exist and that you are conscious need not be told to you. It is a self-evident fact. But you don’t appreciate the significance of this fact, so there is no anandam, bliss, i.e. no freedom.
What this email reveals is what we call a “leading error.” You got to the bliss of your existence but your reasoning about how you got there is faulty. Your knowledge of yourself is indirect because you refer to yourself as if awareness is an object. Instead of saying “the ‘I am’ is only (an) unreal object arising in awareness,” you should have said “I am awareness. The inquiry into my being led me to realize ‘I am awareness.’” Why? Because existence is awareness. And the logic? You don’t exist unless you know you exist and you don’t know you exist unless you exist.
Alex: There is just this, awareness.
Sundari: The problem is the word “there.” What or where is “there”? There is no “where” or “there” for awareness, because you pervade all life. It should be “I am just this, awareness.”
Alex: And so the unreal jiva came to a clear and solid understanding of its own unreality and then went on apparently existing anyway.
Sundari: Not so solid, Alex. Now you need to see in which sense the unreal jiva is real. Liberation is knowledge of the meaning “the jiva and awareness are not different.” Jivo bramaiva na parah.
Alex: And with that arose wave after wave of feeling just like when you listen to the most inspirational music or catch a surprise sight of a stunning sunset. Bliss. And so here I am, unreal yet existent and experiencing bliss.
Sundari: Yes, but no. Who is unreal, to whom is the “I” in this statement referring? The correct statement should be: “I am bliss and I am experiencing bliss, but this experiential bliss is an object known to me.” This statement implies that to experience the self means a far-out, amazing experience must be taking place – which is definitely not true. You are never not experiencing awareness, every moment of every day, exalted, ordinary or awful as the case may be. The self is the non-experiencing awareness of the experiencing entity, and the bliss of self-knowledge does not feel like anything, although it can and does often feel sublime. Self-bliss is just knowledge.
Alex: All because the oldest habit REALLY does die hard, LOL.
Truly the impossible made possible.
Love you guys so much.
Thank you, Isabella, James and Isvara.
Sundari: You are always welcome, Alex, and you are making great progress – BUT I think you rush your sadhana, that you are always in a hurry or don’t have enough time to properly assimilate what you read. Again, I have had a go at you about this before – don’t be too clever.