Thank you for your generous website. You wield a sharp sword and use it with precision. I have been visiting online for the past couple of years but have never written with a question on practice.
For several years, I merely "looked" at the darkness/peace behind the head and body, and so remained unwittingly separate from it. Now, the darkness seems to be "moving forward", somewhat diffusing the mind and sense of self. The experience is deeply restful and all-encompassing, like feeling pleasantly sleepy but not groggy. The words that best describe it are "forgetting" or "unknowing".
An inner injunction has been coming up: "Don't look"– not in the sense of avoiding or suppressing perception, but rather not crystallizing the position of separate observer or knower. "Not looking" has deepened the resting in unknowing. Is this approach in line with your advice that 'The looking "for" is the problem; the looker is already complete and at rest'? Or am I describing the resting in the background you warn about?
Persistently, "I Am" always returns in a different guise. One day, the heart exclaims "I Am!"; the next, it's the head space and above; another day, it's the total body energy, then it's the whole perceptual field; and the day after that, it's the bodily core. This shifting is confounding and always associated/localized with energetic or bodily sensation. As soon as it's seen as an object, "I Am" goes underground, only to reappear in a different configuration. Your comments or advice on any of this would be most welcome.
Your teachings are truly rare. Again, thank you for your many offerings and for your time reading this email.
Yes, it appears you clearly see the difference between the background and the I Am foreground. True, resting in the background, by "backing" into it rather than objectifying by "looking" is a practice that leads to great peace.
However, the real battle or effort is to stay with the I Am in the foreground, sometimes watching it, sometimes identifying with it, sometimes merging with it until it becomes you, and sometimes watching it come and go. Eventually the I Am settles down as does your abiding in it. Leave the background alone for a while.
The background is complicated. It is actually a pseudo conceptual state of a passing awareness of the unmanifest self. It is the boundary between being and not being, but cannot be cognized, and is best experienced by doing nothing. But leave that alone for now.
This raises another issue. There is an even higher state that is not contained in concepts about the foreground, background, I Am, Void, etc. All of these are experiences which we attach Advaita meanings and ontology to. Rather than understand or have everything explained, it is better to live in complete ignorance of what these states "mean," and instead, sit back and enjoy them all in a kind of wonderous awe.
However, most Adavita-Jnana type people feel a need to understand their universal experiences in terms of universal, cognitive arguments or concepts. In the end, you should end up knowing and wanting to know nothing. That is why I have difficulty with people that just want to know concepts, because they haven't even transitioned into placing an emphasis on inner experiences instead of concepts.
You have to realize all concepts are mistakes, and sometimes we call these mistakes "pointers" or ways to escape bigger mistakes.
In the end, the highest human state is resting in a sense of awe and love.