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.” 


  1. So, all of this goes pfffft like a popped balloon when you die? If so, what is the point? If there is nothing but Now and Death, then nothing, what does it matter whether you love, hate, or whatever?

  2. See Ed, I've struggled with that, due to studying the neo-advaita people, tried to question some of them about it, but I guess I didn't really know how to put it. What happens to "me" in awakening? They talk like, "Nobody's home, in here," and I wonder, "Then who said that?"
    I try to find I Am, of course even logic tells me, that's like trying to look at your own eyeball. And here you are, finally somebody's admitting, the self that you are does not really go away! I guess you can hide from it in states and such, but it's still a self doing the hiding, right?
    The social identity, the false persona, "ego" typically, is not that vibrant inner feeling of 'me.' The "place" I actually "look out" from is, in its essence, the love to be.
    So I should quit driving myself crazy that I can't get rid of it, and instead just stay with it. That's what Nisargadatta's saying. Isn't it?
    Have I understood you somewhat correctly, Edji?


  3. I dabbled in the neo-advaita teachings for about two years, and at the beginning of this blog post, it says "One realizes one is the looker and then the search can be dropped altogether". This sounds a little bit like the instant enlightenment sorta thing that is often found in neo-advaita, does it not? Please correct me if I'm wrong.

    I went away from those teachings because as nice as the peace and brief moments of bliss were, I didn't find myself really knowing the Self or any sort of truth.

    I feel like logically, I understand this. I am the one that is looking for the one that is looking. Okay, so I drop the search...but it doesn't feel like I have really found anything or that I really even know myself. If that is the end of the journey, what is the reason for meditating in the I AM?

    I enjoy exploring the inner world, but I found myself too entrenched in trying to make magic happen for myself that it seemed to distract from discovering myself. So I've kinda stopped myself from actively "trying" to make things work to just focusing on loving the I AM and letting positive situations manifest on their own.

    I've been working on not reading and conceptualizing too much in favor of meditating and coming to the conclusions i've read in spiritual texts myself. I read a little here and there from this site and from the Nisargadatta Gita but mostly stick to meditation. Should I just keep to that?

  4. Ed wrote;
    "Because of these experiences, I became convinced that pursuing self-inquiry from the beginning, instead of from the “head,”"

    Self-Inquiry was never meant to be asked from the head. Robert always made it quite clear that the benefits of self-inquiry are gotten when the mind is stilled. Which means you're asking from your heart anyway. Once the mind had become one-pointed you ask the question.

    With all this energy you talk about you must be getting stuck in energies again. Ed what if you were just to use neti, neti with all these energies and throw everything away, forget energies, love, and all the rest you speak about, just keep throwing away, you might be free in no time doing that.
    Just start today and throw it all away. Just stop thinking. TAKE NO THOUGHT and be free, it's that simple.

  5. ...and much more...

    "What we are doing, if and when we succeed, will be a beginning, not a completion. It is the foundation of a new consciousness on earth — a consciousness with infinite possibilities of manifestation. The eternal progression is in the manifestation and beyond it there is no progression.
    If the redemption of the soul from the physical vesture be the object, then there is no need of supramentalisation. Spiritual Mukti and Nirvana are sufficient. If the object is to rise to supraphysical planes, then also there is no need of supramentalisation. One can enter into some heaven above by devotion to the Lord of that heaven. But that is no progression. The other worlds are typal worlds, each fixed in its own kind and type and law. Evolution takes place on the earth and therefore the earth is the proper field for progression. The beings of the other worlds do not progress from one world to another. They remain fixed to their own type.
    The purely monistic Vedantist says, all is Brahman, life is a dream, an unreality, only Brahman exists. One has Nirvana or Mukti, then one lives only till the body falls — after that there is no such thing as life.
    They do not believe in transformation, because mind, life and body are an ignorance, an illusion—the only reality is the featureless, relationless Self or Brahman. Life is a thing of relations; in the pure Self, all life and relations disappear. What would be the use or the possibility of transforming an illusion that can never be anything else (however transformed) than an illusion? There is no such thing for them as a “Nirvanic life”.
    It is only some Yogas that aim at a transformation of any kind except that of ignorance into knowledge. The idea varies, — sometimes a divine knowledge or power or else a divine purity or an ethical perfection or a divine love.
    What has to be overcome is the opposition of the Ignorance that does not want the transformation of the nature. If that can be overcome, then old spiritual ideas will not form an obstacle.
    It is not intended to supramentalise humanity at large, but to establish the principle of the supramental consciousness in the earth-evolution. If that is done, all that is needed will be evolved by the supramental Power itself. It is not therefore important that the mission should be widespread. What is important is that the thing should be done at all in however small a number; that is the only difficulty.
    If the transformation of the body is complete, that means no subjection to death — it does not mean that one will be bound to keep the same body for all time. One creates a new body for oneself when one wants to change, but how it will be done cannot be said now. The present method is by physical birth — some occultists suppose that a time will come when that is not necessary — but the question must be left for the supramental evolution to decide.
    The questions about the supermind cannot be answered profitably now. Supermind cannot be described in terms that the mind will understand, because the terms will be mental and mind will understand them in a mental way and mental sense and miss their true import. It would therefore be a waste of time and energy which should be devoted to the preliminary work— psychicisation and spiritualisation of the being and nature without which no supramentalisation is possible. Let the whole dynamic nature led by the psychic make itself full of the dynamic spiritual light, peace, purity, knowledge, force; let it afterwards get experience of the intermediate spiritual planes and know, feel and act in their sense; then it will be possible to speak last of the supramental transformation.

    Sri Aurobindo, "Letters on Yoga"