Posted 28 November 2016 by Sal
Merging the Personal Feeling 'I am' with the Infinite 'I'
I recently saw a Nisargadatta video and was wondering about his teaching of holding onto the felt sense of I Am, and then going beyond or prior to it, into the universal I. The video seemed to instruct people to hold on to the felt sense of I Am until they merged with the infinite I. Could you talk about that?
Yes, he said something along the lines of, hold on to the felt sense of I Am and then one day, you will recognize what is prior to that. With this work, we go directly there. We go beyond that felt sense of I Am immediately. There is no way to describe it and have someone understand it philosophically. People have to see for themselves, and that’s what we do with this work.
Something else Nisargadatta pointed out was that even when you recognize your essential nature, there is still going to be the felt sense of I Am. This is true. This personal feeling comes and goes, and sometimes it’s not present. The felt sense of I Am is just another appearance, another feeling, which you know! You know that feeling. It’s not you, essentially.
What I’d like to do is just see for ourselves, what he’s actually speaking about when he says, “Go prior to the I Am and merge with the universal I Am.” I call it a shift of knowing. What we believe now is this feeling here—this limited and claustrophobic feeling—is essentially who I am, and I need to escape it. Most people go through their whole lives believing they are trapped here and limited.
That felt sense of I Am here, is different from the belief in the story of self (past and future), which is easy to immediately jump off of in a holiday. Nevertheless, even without the story of self, there’s still the feeling of location here. It comes and goes, it’s an appearance.
So, what is Nisargadatta really speaking about? Again, the answer is not found in words. The answer is—let’s find out. Let’s be on holiday together.
First, I’d like us to see the opposite. You can keep your eyes open or closed, whatever you want. Now, say to yourself, “I am here.” Nisargadatta says, focus on the felt sense of I Am, to the exclusion of everything else, thoughts, desires, etc. Just focus on the felt sense of I Am; it’s very localized and limited. Now, go in there and do that for a few moments.
See, there’s a real feeling of I Am, here. Now, relax the focus of attention. That feeling is still here, but so are all of the other objects, aren’t they? What is here, essential to all of it, is this knowing of everything. This knowing is here, and in this knowing, you can still have the sense of I Am. It’s not, “I Am here, separate and claustrophobically limited in this body.” It’s just, “I, knowing.”
I is all-knowing and all-inclusive. Even those words can go. No words are best. Just, knowing.
The Bible says God is all-knowing, all-inclusive, eternal and ubiquitous. This knowing has no location; it’s just knowing, isn’t it? In truth, nothing happens. There’s no merging with this knowing. You already are this knowing; there is no other you to merge with it, it is you already. What shifts is, you now know yourself as you truly are, not limited to this body-mind.
I have feelings just like everyone, but now, I don’t feel claustrophobically trapped like I used to. I don’t feel myself “out” either. Out implies an in, but there is only one seamless knowing, neither in nor out. Knowing, the limitless knowing, which has no form and no location, is obvious. It’s most obvious for all of us, it’s not subtle.
Inquirer 2: Somehow this relates to the thought of not being spiritual anymore because I really don’t pay attention to anything like that anymore. To me, it’s not important if I see this knowing. This shift of knowing gives me so much safety because I know that everything’s alright. I can just be a normal interacting person and act normally. Why not?
I don’t have to seek for merging with the knowing, or merging with a tree and seeing it’s me or something. It just doesn’t interest me anymore because it’s clear to me. This knowing just relaxes everything.
Before this work, I was always trying to be in the now. There was this urge to see or be something. What a straining thing to do! Now, I don’t have to. I don’t need to see it for weeks. I just don’t care if I see it or if I have any spiritual experiences. Just being normal, that’s the biggest relief to me actually.
You've just written the whole first book right there.
No, Sal, I've read it!
But you got the message. That’s a very mature recognition there. Once you know there’s no Santa Claus, you don’t have to keep looking up the chimney anymore. You just go about your life. You know there’s no Santa Claus, and that’s great. You come full circle and you’re finished.
Like I say, “I’m Sal, I’ve got no problem with Sal. I have no argument with Sal. Sal is Sal, he can’t be anyone other than Sal.” I’m very happy to hear that from you. That’s wonderful. That’s exactly what I hope to share with people.