Wednesday, March 4, 2009

who the hell am I?

Well, it's been an intense couple of days. Between Monday and Tuesday I went to five Satsangs with four different teachers! They were Mooji, Big Tex (A.Ramana), Werner and a new one called Madhukar.

Like Mooji, Madhukar (a German man with a very shinny head) honours Papaji as his Spiritual Master. For those who don't know, Papaji was an Indian man who left the body in the late 1990's. For about the last 10 years of his life many many Western seekers came to him and it seems that quite a number had significant awakenings to their true nature and are now teachers in their own right. Papaji himself went through his Awakening with Ramana Maharishi at Arunachala back in the 1940's.

So during the first Satsang with Mooji on Monday I got some clarity about Self-Enquiry which I expressed in the previous posting 'the thing that feels like me'. That evening I went to Madhukar for the first time (he was only here for a couple of days and is gone already). I felt quite high awareness energy in his presence and he sits there a lot of the time in silence.

I had noticed that 'this thing that feels like me' is also an object of awareness so I asked Madhukar to help me understand the distinction; what is the true 'I am'? Paraphrasing, he said that there is no distinction; it is a continuum. 'I am' appears in an individuated form as that thing which feels like me and expands to infinity in increasingly higher levels of awareness.

Later on, while by myself, I reasoned that this continuum of awareness, like the electromagnetic spectrum, could extend ad infinitum in either direction, so then where is the end of it? It strikes me that any vibration is part of the manifest existence which, like the moon, has no light of it's own and only reflects the pure light of the unmanifest Self. No matter how refined awareness in vibration becomes there must still exist a subtle distinction (separation) between the perceiver and the perceived until such times as awareness is turned back upon itself and merges with it's own source as the ever effulgent Self of Pure Consciousness. The One without a Second.

The following morning I went for Satsang with A.Ramana and asked him many questions about Self-Enquiry trying to understand what is meant and to relate it to my own experience. It came to a point where, even although I only had one question left, he put the kaibosch on me saying that I ought to just do it rather than continually objectify it and ask questions about it. It was a slightly heated exchange and in the end I just had to shut up and close my eyes.

My ego was quite provoked feeling somewhat misunderstood, frustrated and even slightly resentful, however I did not take it too seriously and recognised the value of having a very obvious expression of 'me-ness' to watch in meditation. Later on outside in the second session someone asked a question about what the Sages describe as the unreality of the world. A.Ramana was espousing the typically Advaita Vedantic (the Indian school of non-dual philosophy) view that the world has no objective existence independent of ones subjective perception of it, such that when one goes to sleep the world ceases to exist and then springs back into existence upon awakening.

I found this objectionable and did not accept his arguments or assertion that unless one accepts the unreality of the world then one can never transcend it. I sat there quietly simmering and yet in quite an aware state. No-one was saying anything and then A.Ramana said that if anyone had any questions then they had better ask them now while there is the opportunity. After ascertaining that he was accepting questions and comments from me I expressed my disagreement. He said he can understand why I would find it hard to accept but never the less.......................

Afterwards I read a chapter he had recommended to the original asker of the unreality question and found that what A.Ramana was saying was almost verbatim what Ramana Maharishi had been recorded as saying on the topic. Ramana Maharishi also said that the really important thing is not whether or not the world is real but to find out to whom it is seeming to be real or unreal. That is also a message continuously affirmed by A.Ramana whose stated mission is to preserve and disseminate the pure teaching of Sri Ramana Maharishi.

In the afternoon I went to Werner Satsang and put the question of the stated unreality of the world to him. He said that in a way it is true if we consider from a quantum physics point of view that there is no such thing as solid matter - it is all just ghostly vibrations of energy popping in and out of existence. Really there is just some big interrelated energy field out of which our senses and mind create some sort of picture of reality. On the other hand, there does seem to be consistency and common ground to this experience of the world. He advised just to accept it as a mystery, as some kind of holographic magic show, and the best position to take on it is no position, honestly accepting that one does not really know how it is. The main thing again being to come back to the centre and reside in that pure awareness of now. Werner is good as he can talk from many points of view and gives answers which are easily related to.

Finally in the evening I went back to Madhukar. I had no questions and after taking a comfortable posture went into quite a deep or high state of meditation where I remained silently alert for the duration of the Satsang and for the sing-along afterwards.

This morning as I lay on the bed after a papaya breakfast I asked myself 'who is lying here?', answer 'I am', 'and who am I?'

'who is having these imaginations?' 'I am' 'and who am I?'
'who is enjoying this pleasure?' 'I am' 'and who am I?'
'who is suffering this misery?' 'I am' 'and who am I?'
'who is thinking these thoughts?' 'I am' 'and who am I?'

The questions are just a way to short circuit the thinking process and to invoke the sense of 'me-ness', continually redirecting awareness back to it; this 'me-ness' which is said to be the lynchpin which underlies the whole structure of ego-mind-body identification.

If I am understanding correctly then this is Self-Enquiry, which is said by the Sages to be the direct way to dissolve the illusion of separateness and whereby Self-Realisation becomes apparent. By consistently cultivating this enquiry the individual 'I am' eventually becomes purified from mind identification and merges back with it's source - the Pure Self.

So the way seems clear enough; all that remains is to apply it and see it through to its conclusion. Even the so called conclusion is not in our hands and is said to be an act of Grace whereby the Universal Self seemingly reaches down and lifts us up into a new way of Being. All we can do as apparent individuals with apparent free will is to do the best we can to be present and in making ourselves available and presumably sooner or later somethings gotta give. There is no telling how long it could take; it could happen this very instant or it could take a long time so I guess one of the keys is to find the balance between intensity and relaxation.

Once the job is done then life in all it's expressions is said to be experienced as a direct manifestation of the Self in motion. There is said to no longer be any separation between stillness and activity, subject and object. All is a play of Oneness. I guess that is something which has to be experienced to really know what it means.

So that's that. On to more everday topics, I mentioned before that I have a nice story to tell and some nice pictures to share which I intend will be the subject of my next post. Some of you will have received an invitation to join Facebook from me. The reason for that is that I intend to use Facebook to post a greater number of photo's than I am able to on this blog and maybe even some short movie clips. However in order to view that you will need to become a member which is actually very painless and easy. If you want it to the website will even do a search for you of all the people in your email address book who are already members and link you up. I was surprised how many of my friends were already members and am glad that I finally joined.


  1. "If I am understanding correctly then this is Self-Enquiry, which is said by the Sages to be the direct way to dissolve the illusion of separateness and whereby Self-Realisation becomes apparent. By consistently cultivating this enquiry the individual 'I am' eventually becomes purified from mind identification and merges back with it's source - the Pure Self."

    I love how you distilled 4 different teachings applied to your question through your research in attending the satsangs. You provided this viewer with a much broader understanding and connection with your question and your answers. It is so cool you got to take this question and its vibrational counterparts and have it placed before Mooji, Big Tex, Madhukar and Werner. That is like a class A assignment to undertake and relay it nicely as you have done. Satsang reporting at its highest. Seriously, thank you for taking your energy and dedicated passion for an answer and posting your experiences- they are like gold. While on a short walk today I was meditating on our purpose as witnesses of consciousness knowing that we master nothing but mastery is taking place through consciousness in us. As you say, all is a play on Oneness. Have put off joining Facebook mightily, but if you are going to be a presence there, send me an invite and I will jump in. If not you, then I won't be part of it. Really love your path and your writing- rock on!

    One Love

  2. The lies and the miracle unfold

    So the story goes!



  3. Where is the location of the sense of 'I am-ness'?

  4. Hi Shiva,

    In response to you comment:

    >distinction between the kind of 'being present as awareness' approach you describe and focusing of awareness upon the sense of 'me' which seems to be the crux of self-enquiry. Is it not the awareness which looks rather than the intellect? Care to comment.....?

    This question can be paraphrased as, “being present AS you” versus “focusing awareness ON you”.

    Gyana Yoga has three steps with enlightenment occurring at the end of the third step:
    1) Hearing: listening to the guru describe the Self
    2) Reflection: focusing ON the Self with the intellect
    3) Realisation: remaining AS the Self without using the intellect

    When we start we have no Self-awareness so the third stage is not an option. So we search for the Self as an object. We give our attention to the I-thought and look at where this “thing” arises.

    We read books, ask questions, contemplate it day and night, go over and over the philosophy, argue about it, get angry about it. During this objective process of seeking our source the intellect becomes purified of the rajas and tamas which cling to the body and world.

    Eventually, what remains is a sattvic intellect through which pure consciousness shines and we graduate to the third step - Realisation. There is no more confusion about what the Self is or effort trying to find it because the I-I has been found to some degree. Further purification comes more from being this I-I than action (Yoga Stura 2:10).

    Bhagavan describes this third step of “just being” as attending to “aham-sphurana” or I-I. (See

    It seems that I-I is not enlightenment, but it is close and I think many Advaita teachers mistake this for enlightenment because the transparent, sattvic mind is accompanied by the light of consciousness, silence, peace, bliss, unboundedness, imperceptible individuality, etc. People seem to be in this state for many years before sattva disappears.

    Nisargadatta said that he thought he was fully enlightened, but then he said he witnessed his own death. I take that as he was living with a sattvic mind (aham-sphurana) for a long time, then one day it left and took his latent individuality with it.

    I liken it to walking through a dark forest (avidya) and suffering by bumping into things. As dawn comes there is enough light to end the suffering. But the sun has not risen – ie pure consciousness has not yet been directly perceived.

    >someone else asked a question about what the Sages describe as the unreality of the world. A.Ramana was espousing the typically Advaita Vedantic (a school of Indian phiosophy) view that the world has no objective existence independent of ones subjective perception of it,

    I find it useful to consider the world 100% real and 100% unreal. Not appreciating Her (the world/Prakruti/Mother Divine) can lead to disrespectful and small-minded behaviour. I knew a man who did a lot of psychedelic drugs, but he was also clever with advaita. He reasoned that the world, the drugs, the body were all unreal and therefore didn’t matter. He undervalued both sattva and the relative reality. Inevitably She taught him a lesson about not respecting Her.

    Om Namah Shivaya!
    Andrew. ☺

  5. Thank you all for your comments and contributions which I really appreciate and find helpful. I have just posted another report which expands on the issues discussed.

    Mike, you might find that next report helps your question but to put it in a nutshell, I would say that the individual sense of 'I am-ness' is just something you feel or sense, even in the body, when the notion of 'I am' is invoked - it may not always be sensed or felt in the same way or in the same place as it is by nature an ephemeral 'thing'.

    The universal sense of 'I Am' is said to be beyond time and space and therefore is not limited by location, or you could say it is omnipresent.

  6. Hi Andrew, I am still of the view that in focusing awareness on the individual sense of 'me-ness' that it is a, to quote you, non-verbal perception rather than the intellect as you suggest. Obviously the intellect is involved in asking the questions but then only as a device to direct non-conceptual awareness back onto the feeling-sense of 'I-ness'.

  7. Hi Andrew, on reflection I can see that there is an intention directing the attention which must come from some subtle part of the intellect even if the intention is not discursive thought related. is this what you mean or do you actually mean an intellectual analysis of this 'me' feeling phenomenon?

  8. Andrew replied by email to the effect that what was meant by the term 'intellect' was that there is a seeming individual intentionally directing awareness in a particular way regardless of whether or not there is discursive thought about the matter. Pure Awareness itself has no intention, like the sun it just shines its light on all equally.