How can one say, “I am one with the whole existence,” on the one hand, and on the other hand state, “I am not the body.”
These are not philosophical statements. They are based on one’s own experiencing. We can see for ourselves if we look at the situation without bringing in that which has been heard from others. If we can put aside memory and just look at the situation without prejudice, we can see the fact of the statements.
When we say, “I am not the body,” what is it that we are actually saying? Are we not saying that I am not the body separate from the rest of existence? To say that I am the body implies that I am separate, that there is the body which I am and everything else that I am not.
When I close my eyes and examine the situation after first putting aside memory, mind, and preconceived ideas, I find a different world than the one I had believed to be true. I experience sensing and if I do not make use of memory, I do not find anything other than sensing. I do not find any distinctions within the sensing. Of course, if I make use of memory, then I can draw borders in my imagination that correspond to what I have been taught and to that which is held in memory as body parts. But in my own experiencing, I do not find those borders. I can perceive sensing which has varying degrees of intensity, and again with memory, I can zero in on a portion of sensing and in my mind draw a border around that portion to the exclusion of all other sensing – but this is not my own immediate experience. I am relying on memory and the knowledge of anatomy and hearsay, all of which are held in the mind.
In my own experience, I discover a single field of sensing without borders, without a center, and without divisions. If I look with my sensing, there is not that which is not sensing. How could there be? How would I know it, if it was not sensed? In this experiencing, there is only oneness. This experience is one. There is nothing that is not sensed in that moment of experience. In this sense it is my experience that I am one with the whole existence in my sensing. It is also true that there is no body separate from existence. I have already discovered that the defined border of body is held in memory but not in my own firsthand experience.
And so, it is clear in this moment with the mind put aside that, “I am not the body but am, in fact, one with existence.”
This understanding is expressed even more simply and clearly by Annamalai Swami:
When I say give up your identification with the ‘I am the body’ idea, I don’t mean that you are not the body. I mean that you should give up the idea that you are only the body. You are all bodies, all things, all creation, but paradoxically, this knowledge will not come to you unless you give up identifying with particular objects, such as ‘I am the body’, and limiting thoughts such as ‘I am so-and-so’. When you have given up all thoughts, all identifications, the true knowledge suddenly dawns on you: ‘I am the unmanifest Self and I am also the whole of creation.’
So I tell people: ‘This physical body is not you; the mind is not you. Go beyond them to see what is really behind them.’ This is done to make people give up their incorrect, limiting ideas, so they can have a direct experience of what is truly real.
From Final Talks, pages 36 & 37
This is from the collection of stories, essays, poems and insights that is compiled to form the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Download a PDF or order the book Here.