I AM THAT I AM or I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE
If anyone claimed that you were all the villains in history: Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Adolph Hitler or the Perpetrators of 9/11, what would be your reaction? How comfortable would you be if someone else suggested that you were the greatest spiritual masters who ever walked the face of the Earth: Krishna, Buddha or Christ?
You would in all probability say, “No, I am just plain old me. I am nothing special.” That would be all so obvious…
You may be in the power phase of your life where you are totally focused on getting ahead in the world, making your mark and getting everything you deserve. Empowerment is what it is all about for you: tips, techniques and strategies.
You hardly have time for enlightenment, for philosophical questions. Why ponder who you are, why you’re here and what it is all about? The last thing you want is to get endlessly trapped in an infinite web of intricacies that leads to no practical outcome.
Only one problem: You will never get enough of what you don’t really want. You want sex, money, maybe even love. Said another way, you want power, glory and wealth. What lies behind all this is knowing who you really are, and how you can make a lasting difference in your creation. True enlightenment always leads to empowerment.
The first step that traditional students of enlightenment deal with is shaking off the persistent illusion that I AM the body. I act, but I am not the doer. I have a mind, but I am not the rational mind. With a little bit of reflection, it is perfectly apparent that our nametag, and the facts of our life, such as what is on our birth certificate, don’t actually reveal who we are.
What we like to hold onto in the West is our mind. I may not be my body, but I am most certainly my mind.
As Renee Descartes, the father of modern philosophy put it, “I think; therefore, I am.” If I observe myself thinking, then certainly there must be a thinker, and that thinker is who I truly am.
Yet all the wisdom schools of Hinduism and Buddhism teach us to go beyond our mind to find our true self. Zen Buddhism has spent over 1,000 years to defeat identification with the rational mind through koans, or clever sayings that have no rational answer: “What was your original face before your mother was born?” You go beyond even the thinker.
What if… you are neither your body, nor your mind? Who Am I?
Strangely enough, contemporary science, in the wake of the Einsteinian and quantum revolutions, maintains that ultimately, there is neither time nor space, just an infinite field… of consciousness. David Bohm maintained we live in a participant universe.
In this case, we are the Supreme Being experience the world through a human form.
We construct the universe as we play in it. There would be no rainbow without us to see it as a rainbow.
An easier way to get into all this is to recognize yourself as an observer. In other words, picture yourself as an observer who lives in the universe of Doing and the universe of Being at the same time.
Even if you are Super Mom, or an American businesswoman, you are not always doing. You stop for at least a moment to watch others; apart from whatever you happen to be doing.
Each of us can step into the observer role and own that all our observations belong to us. We may not think through the implications that even our awareness of our own body and immediate environment depends upon our ability to observe.
If you do observe, then you have some responsibility for what happens. You go well beyond being an innocent bystander. Your perceptions and your thought process color your observations. Physiologists have long acknowledged that perception, as such, implies conceptualization.
Your view is always uniquely your view.
It is a much bigger jump to recognize that, not only are you the observer, but you are that which you observe. Whatever you observe lies within the field of your experience, does it not? If you see a handsome gentleman or a gorgeous lady, YOU see them, do you not? Who says he is handsome, and she is gorgeous?
In the early 20th century, quantum physics took a decisive turn, which changed forever the way physics was done. Whenever the scientist looked through the glass, she impacted what she saw. Whenever she measured anything, she had to include herself in the equation.
To say that you are NOT that which observe, is an act of presumption. Even from a strictly physiological standpoint, the perception lies within your body, your optical nerve, and your brain. How do you know he or she is even out there? You simply assume so. So much for objectivity!
Very few people ever get to here. For this, I personally am indebted to Dr. Deepak Chopra. I had studied Hinduism for over five years before it ever dawned on me that I could be, not only the observer and the observed, but I could be the very process of observation, itself. You could even say that there is just the process, the “dance.”
* Image from the book: Awaken Perfection.
The “dance” implies dancers and a stage. Usually, you dance with the partner. You are both members of the pair teasing one another in a grand tango. You are the audience, also. Yet, on a higher level, you are the very dance, which we interpret as dancer and audience.
Simply put, you are everything… the dancer, the act and the audience watching it all in action. You are the creator and observer at the same time. You are the master and creator of your own universe. And if you are able to create daily and observe your creation at the same time (zooming out of your role and seeing a bigger picture, and zooming back in again) – you put yourself in a power position.
As T.S. Eliot reminded us, “There is only the dance.”
And as soon as you realize that life is nothing but a dance… you start dancing with it.
In order to enjoy this playground called life, we enter into duality. Light and dark, hot and cold, beautiful and ugly, good and bad. We forget the unspeakable unity so that we can play the binary game: on and off. Just like our best computers. At any time, we can click the mouse and awaken.
What I never got to before I took a very close look at the nondual master, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, was the Absolute, the context of all contexts of which nothing can be said. Anything you can see, hear, taste, touch or smell is not it. Nisargadatta was very fond of saying “Not this, not that.” Always going beyond anything to which we can point.
In this light, it is most provocative that a contemporary rabbinical interpretation of the sacred name, “I AM,” is that it must be breathed. Two syllables, in and out. You are saying the name of God with every breath you take. You are saying your own name; also, with every breath you take.
Buddhist logic goes: [This], [That], [This or That], [This and That], [Neither This Nor That]. You are both everything and nothing. To tell the truth, nothing can be said about you. As the Upanishads put it, “That You Are!” or “You’re It!”
In this discussion, I have tried to cut to the core of enlightenment, or transformation, which can easily take a lifetime, only to find out that you have just scratched the surface. Enlightenment is the most glorious of games. All the great masters remind us that we are ALREADY ENLIGHTENED.
If you want to get “enlightened” become an observer. Create your day while experiencing it through observation. Would you like to experience enlightenment in the next 60 minutes? Just close your eyes and contemplate that you are EVERYTHING THAT YOU EXPERIENCE, and you are NOTHING THAT YOU EXPERIENCE. You are both everything and nothing.
If you are comfortable being Who you ultimately are, then you really have nothing to prove. You might as well love those creations everywhere surrounding you, including the one with your nametag!