“Oh lotus-eyed one, sweet of touch, when singing, seeing, tasting, be aware you are and discover the ever-living.”
We are living, but we are not aware that we are or that we are living. There is no self-remembering. You are eating or you are taking a bath or you are taking a walk: you are not aware that you are while walking. Everything is, only you are not. The trees, the houses, the traffic, everything is. You are aware of everything around you, but you are not aware of your own being – that you are. You may be aware of the whole world, but if you are not aware of yourself that awareness is false. Why? Because your mind can reflect everything, but your mind cannot reflect you. If you are aware of yourself, then you have transcended the mind.
Your self-remembering cannot be reflected in your mind because you are behind the mind. It can reflect only things which are in front of it. You can just see others, but you cannot see yourself. Your eyes can see everyone, but your eyes cannot see themselves. If you want to see yourself you will need a mirror. Only in the mirror can you see yourself, but then you will have to stand in front of the mirror. If your mind is a mirror, it can reflect the whole world. It cannot reflect you because you cannot stand before it. You are always behind, hidden behind the mirror.
This technique says while doing anything – singing, seeing, tasting – be aware that you are and discover the ever-living, and discover within yourself the current, the energy, the life, the ever-living. But we are not aware of ourselves.
Gurdjieff used self-remembering as a basic technique in the West. The self-remembering is derived from this sutra. The whole Gurdjieffian system is based on this one sutra. Remember yourself, whatsoever you are doing. It is very difficult. It looks very easy, but you will go on forgetting. Even for three or four seconds you cannot remember yourself. You will have a feeling that you are remembering, and suddenly you will have moved to some other thought. Even with this thought that “Okay, I am remembering myself,” you will have missed, because this thought is not self-remembering. In self-remembering there will be no thought; you will be completely empty. And self-remembering is not a mental process. It is not that you say, “Yes, I am.” Saying “Yes, I am,” you have missed. This is a mind thing, this is a mental process: “I am.”
Feel “I am,” not the words “I am.” Don’t verbalize, just feel that you are. Don’t think, feel! Try it. It is difficult, but if you go on insisting it happens. While walking, remember you are, and have the feeling of your being, not of any thought, not of any idea. Just feel. I touch your hand or I put my hand on your head: don’t verbalize. Just feel the touch, and in that feeling feel not only the touch, but feel also the touched one. Then your consciousness becomes double-arrowed.
You are walking under trees: the trees are there, the breeze is there, the sun is rising. This is the world all around you; you are aware of it. Stand for a moment and suddenly remember that you are, but don’t verbalize. Just feel that you are. This nonverbal feeling, even if for only a single moment, will give you a glimpse – a glimpse which no LSD can give you, a glimpse which is of the real. For a single moment you are thrown back to the center of your being. You are behind the mirror; you have transcended the world of reflections; you are existential. And you can do it at any time. It doesn’t need any special place or any special time. And you cannot say, “I have no time.” When eating you can do it, when taking a bath you can do it, when moving or sitting you can do it – anytime. No matter what you are doing, you can suddenly remember yourself, and then try to continue that glimpse of your being.
It will be difficult. One moment you will feel it is there, the next moment you will have moved away. Some thought will have entered, some reflection will have come to you, and you will have become involved in the reflection. But don’t be sad and don’t be disappointed. This is so because for lives together we have been concerned with the reflections. This has become a robot-like mechanism. Instantly, automatically, we are thrown to the reflection. But if even for a single moment you have the glimpse, it is enough for the beginning. And why is it enough? Because you will never get two moments together. Only one moment is with you always. And if you can have the glimpse for a single moment, you can remain in it. Only effort is needed – a continuous effort is needed.
A single moment is given to you. You cannot have two moments together, so don’t worry about two moments. You will always get only one moment. And if you can be aware in one moment, you can be aware for your whole life. Now only effort is needed, and this can be done the whole day. Whenever you remember, remember yourself.
“Oh lotus-eyed one, sweet of touch, when singing, seeing, tasting, be aware you are and discover the ever-living:”
When the sutra says “Be aware you are”, what will you do? Will you remember that, “My name is Ram” or “Jesus” or something else? Will you remember that you belong to such and such a family, to such and such a religion and tradition? To such and such a country and caste and creed? Will you remember that you are a communist or a Hindu or a Christian? What will you remember?
The sutra says be aware you are; it simply says “You are”. No name is needed, no country is needed. Let there be simple existence: you are! So don’t say to yourself who you are. Don’t answer that, “I am this and that.” Let there be simple existence, that you are.
But it becomes difficult because we never remember simple existence. We always remember something which is just a label, not existence itself. Whenever you think about yourself, you think about your name, religion, country, many things, but never the simple existence that you are.
You can practice this: relaxing in a chair or just sitting under a tree, forget everything and feel this “you-areness.” No Christian, no Hindu, no Buddhist, no Indian, no Englishman, no German – simply, you are. Have the feeling of it, and then it will be easy for you to remember what this sutra says: “Be aware you are and discover the ever-living.” And the moment you are aware that you are, you are thrown into the current of the ever-living. The false is going to die; only the real will remain.
That is why we are so much afraid of death: because the unreal is going to die. The unreal cannot be forever, and we are attached to the unreal, identified with the unreal. You as a Hindu will have to die; you as Ram or Krishna will have to die; you as a communist, as an atheist, as a theist, will have to die; you as a name and form will have to die. And if you are attached to name and form, obviously the fear of death will come to you, but the real, the existential, the basic in you, is deathless. Once the forms and names are forgotten, once you have a look within to the nameless and the formless, you have moved into the eternal.
“Be aware you are and discover the ever-living”: This technique is one of the most helpful, and it has been used for millennia by many teachers, masters. Buddha used it, Mahavira used it, Jesus used it, and in modern times Gurdjieff used it. Among all the techniques, this is one of the most potential. Try it. It will take time; months will pass.
When Ouspensky was learning with Gurdjieff, for three months he had to make much effort, arduous effort, in order to have a glimpse of what self-remembering is. So continuously, for three months, Ouspensky lived in a secluded house just doing only one thing – self-remembering. Thirty persons started that experiment, and by the end of the first week twenty-seven had escaped; only three remained. The whole day they were trying to remember – not doing anything else, just remembering that “I am.” Twenty-seven felt they were going crazy. They felt that now madness was just near, so they escaped. They never turned back; they never met Gurdjieff again.
Why? As we are, really, we are mad. Not remembering who we are, what we are, we are mad, but this madness is taken as sanity. Once you try to go back, once you try to contact the real, it will look like craziness, it will look like madness. Compared to what we are, it is just the reverse, the opposite. If you feel that this is sanity, that will look like madness.
But three persisted. One of the three was P. D. Ouspensky. For three months they persisted. Only after the first month did they start having glimpses of simply being – of “I am.” After the second month, even the “I” dropped, and they started having the glimpses of “am-ness” – of just being, not even of “I”, because “I” is also a label. The pure being is not “I” and “thou”; it just is.
And by the third month even the feeling of “am-ness” dissolved because that feeling of am-ness is still a word. Even that word dissolves. Then you are, and then you know what you are. Before that point comes you cannot ask, “Who am I?” Or you can go on asking continuously, “Who am I?” just continuously inquiring, “Who am I? Who am I?”, and all the answers that will be provided by the mind will be found false, irrelevant. You go on asking, “Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?” and a point comes where you can no more ask the question. All the answers fall down, and then the question itself falls down and disappears. And when even the question, “Who am I?” disappears, you know who you are.
Gurdjieff tried from one corner: just try to remember you are. Raman Maharshi tried from another corner. He made it a meditation to ask, to inquire, “Who am I?” And don’t believe in any answers that the mind can supply. The mind will say, “What nonsense are you asking? You are this, you are that, you are a man, you are a woman, you are educated or uneducated, rich or poor.” The mind will supply answers, but go on asking. Don’t accept any answer because all the answers given by the mind are false. They are from the unreal part of you. They are coming from words, they are coming from scriptures, they are coming from conditioning, they are coming from society, they are coming from others. Go on asking. Let this arrow of “Who am I?” penetrate deeper and deeper. A moment will come when no answer will come.
That is the right moment. Now you are nearing the answer. When no answer comes, you are near the answer because mind is becoming silent – or you have gone far away from the mind. When there will be no answer and a vacuum will be created all around you, your questioning will look absurd. Whom are you questioning? There is no one to answer you. Suddenly, even your questioning will stop. With the questioning, the last part of the mind has dissolved because this question was also of the mind. Those answers were of the mind and this question was also of the mind. Both have dissolved, so now you are.
Try this. There is every possibility, if you persist, that this technique can give you a glimpse of the real – and the real is ever-living.
From The Book of Secrets, Discourse #35
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Here you can listen to the discourse excerpt Be Aware You Are.