11 December 2013
One of the most confusing concepts one finds in the current Advaita and neo-Advaita literature, as well as that of the Kundalini and other energy gurus is, What is Self?
Most tend towards the conclusion that there is no Self (separate self), or that the Self is everything, or that the Self is an impersonal beingness, or it is basic awareness.
Most also equate the I-sense, I feeling, or I idea, as being an illusion, a bunch of concepts that we believe in but when we introspect, we find no self or Self that we can point to as I or me.
This may be true on a superficial basis. That is, many of us have a concept that we have a spiritual core, some sort of objective entity that is me ultimately, but we find it almost impossible to find it.
Why? Because it is the I that is searching for I. You might say the I as searcher or “looker” is the unmoving Subject that is searching for an object that is self, but which will never be found, even by looking inwards, because it is the looker, the subject, that is the Self.
This subject, the Self, cannot be found as an object, but one can realize that one is already oneself, which changes everything, for there is no longer a search for what I am. That search for what I am is replaced either by dropping the search altogether and living life knowing that you are, or for those who loved the search because of the inner miracles revealed, the search turns into an inner exploration of all internal phenomena and the wonders found within, such as endless bliss, endless peace, or through searching the Shamanic entities, growing abilities to change the world through “magic.”
Also, that person that looks within, either before or after this discovery, will find not only a looker who is the exploring subject, but a diffuse sense of “I-Am,” or “me.”
Now Nisargadatta calls this sense of I Am the “Self.” This sense of I Am, this feeling of knowingness of my own existence, he calls the Self. This I Am is the energetic core of our manifest beingness and is certainly there no matter how much the neo-Advaitins and Zen people deny its existence. It is there for those who look and who have become sensitized to their inner world.
Nisargadatta, February 9, 1981—Consciousness and the Absolute
M: Who is employing the body and the name given to it?
Now, understand the subtle difference, what are you and what do you understand to be you? The body is not you, the name is not you. The body is the food you have consumed, the taste of it is the knowledge "I Am". That is Self, the feeling "I Am", that is the love to be.
How amazing, how incredible, it has no name, but you give many names to it.
It is the Self, the love to be. That love to be is all-pervading.
Heaven, hell, countries, houses, these are all concepts. There were rock and earth, a concept was employed and buildings were built. Before you conceptualize anything, you are, even before the knowingness, you are. You have only to apperceive this knowingness, the love to be, the Self.
Who will be listening to such dialogues? Only the Self in the body has the urge to understand. People hasten to this place, traveling from distant countries, leaving their families for the time being, because the Self wants to know itself.
I have to emphasize that this feeling of A-Amness is real and universal, but it is not available to all if they deny a self or Self exists. If they have been polluted by the knowledge that there is no Self, they will not find the sense of self-existence, of I Am.
For Nisargadatta, the aspirant must search with love and devotion, immersed in the I Am sense, for that I am sense has its roots in a level of Consciousness that is very “deep” and “subtle” within, called the Fourth State, or Turiya, and whose characteristic is a feeling of great knowingness (chit) of your existence (sat), and with it a sense of exhilaration, energy, and bliss (ananda). And along with this discovery of one’s Self, Satchitananda, is a great sense of love of being, of living and the Life Force manifesting as me.
My own discovery is a relatively unique contribution to the literature of awakening: awakening to the I Am, the wonder of the I Am sense, focuses the aspirant not on transcending the body, but on consciousness of the body, and with it a recognition that the I Am sense is separate from the body. Yet, in me the awareness of the body’s inner world, the Subtle Body and Turiya, arose from a great love that fortuitously awakened in me due to love of a woman. My love of a woman turned my consciousness inwards, no longer towards the Absolute emptiness or nothingness, but to the awakened Life Force in me as it infused my body, my awareness with love and an awakened Shakti.
This is a way of tremendous energy, it is spontaneous once it starts happening, it reveals the energies within, the inner flows of energies, the experience of becoming love itself, and watching the inner energy flows as streams of light or various colors interacting with the world.
But the love required for this sort of awakening was so much more than I had ever felt before. The love consumed me and touched the deepest part of my “soul” or Self.
Because of these experiences, I became convinced that pursuing self-inquiry from the beginning, instead of from the “head,” but from the heart, with love and devotion, loving the sense of I Am once it is discovered, was a key to expediting awakening to the manifest Self, and prevented the diligent meditator from becoming lost in emptiness, the Void, and the deadness of a transcendent nothingness.
Once one discovers the I Amness within, and it grows into a palpable sense of energetic presence, life transforms totally. One becomes filled with a sense of knowingness that fills one’s body as a sense of energetic presence, a feeling that I really know who and what I am, where I am and when. It is a supreme confidence in oneself. This feeling of knowingness that pervades one’s self, when attended to closely, becomes a feeling of both love and bliss. One is always either in or on the verge of feeling bliss and love, though the two are separate feelings.
For this reason of the place of love in the methodology, and the identity of the feeling of knowingness with bliss, I call this path Devotional Advaita. Self inquiry is suffused with love, worship and devotion.
During January of 2014 I will be publishing an electronic book going into great depth about this path. Tentatively it will be called Devotional Advaita, or perhaps “Perceiving the Life Force.”