I am never born as a body.
I am not the ten senses.
And I am neither intellect,
nor mind nor everlasting ego.
I am eternally pure self-nature
without vital breath and mind.
I am the witness without intellect,
And I am the ever-knowing self-nature.
There is no doubt, whatsoever, about it.
A very long journey from “I” to “thou,” from “thou” to “that,” and from “that” to the beyond. And now again the rishi begins to talk about “Who am I?” Obviously, the first “I” is not referred to, that has been just disposed of. This is a second “I.”
The first “I” constitutes the ego; constitutes whatsoever we have done, whatsoever we have achieved, whatsoever has been our accumulation. This second “I” is not our doing; this second “I” is our being. So we must distinguish between these two: the doing and the being.
The being is something which is there, has been there; it is a priori. It is not your creation, it is not your construction, you have not contributed anything to it, because you are it. So how can you do anything? And whatsoever you have done is just an accumulations around – never on the center; the center has always been there.
The child is born. The child is born with a being, with a center, but with no periphery, with no circumference. The child is born with a being, but with no doing at all. Now the doing will grow; now the child will cultivate the ego. Whatsoever the child is going to do will become part of his ego. If he succeeds, then a superiority is accumulated; if he fails, then an inferiority is accumulated. And whether you begin to feel to be inferior or superior, a certain ego is formed. Even when you feel inferior, you have an ego which feels to be inferior. If you succeed, you have an ego which feels to be superior.
The ego means whatsoever you have done – whether you succeed or fail, it is irrelevant, you create an ego. You begin to assert, “I am this, I am that.” And the more this feeling grows, the more the center is lost, and by and by forgotten. In the end we are nothing but our doings. The being is just lost; we have lost the track.
So first we discussed the “I,” the ego, the superficial, the one created by us – our own creation. Now the rishi is talking about the being – what we are, not what we have done; what we are, pure, simple beingness. Of course when we say “I” and use “I” for it, the meaning is totally different. We again refer to it as an “I,” because this is the innermost center of our existence. But now there is no feeling of “I-ness,” only a reference, only a word to be used and forgotten. This pure “I,” this pure being, can only be described in a negative way, through elimination. We have to say, “This is not, that is not,” and go on denying. And when nothing remains to deny anymore, it is revealed.
There are two ways to indicate a thing. One is direct, positive; another is indirect, negative. The more sublime a phenomenon, the more deep a thing is, you cannot indicate it positively, you cannot figure it out. You cannot say, “This is.” No, that’s not possible. How can you say what love is? How can you say what goodness is? How can you say what God is? If you say something positive, you will feel that much has remained unexpressed, and your word has given a limitation.
Saint Augustine has been asked by someone, “What is God?” Saint Augustine says, “When you do not ask me, I know very well, but when you ask me, everything is lost. So don’t disturb me; go and find out. Please go and find out for yourself. I am not going to answer, because the moment I begin to answer, I feel guilty. Any expression becomes just criminal, because whatsoever I say is nothing compared to that about which I am saying.” This has always been felt, very deeply felt, and so many have just remained silent, mm? – not to be guilty; it is better not to say.
Wittgenstein has written in his Tractatus, “It is better not to say than to say something about a thing which is inexpressible. So be silent, it is better, because at least you are right.” At least you are right! The moment you say something you are bound to be wrong, any assertion is bound to be wrong. So infinite a phenomenon as the deeper “I”…. It is better to be silent. But it needs expression. It may be better for the person who is going to say, but it is not better for the person who is going to understand it, to enquire about it. Silence will not do.
So the rishi uses the second method, the negative one. The Upanishads have been using the same method always. That has been their technique, to negate. They will say, “I am that which is never born. I am the unborn one. All that which is born, I am not. So whatsoever is born, I am not.” This is the eliminating process. Whatsoever is born, I am not. Breathing has been born in me. It is born because a child is born without breathing, then he breathes. So the being precedes breathing; being comes first, and then there is breathing. Then there is thinking, then there is ego – all this is born.
If we go still deeper, when the mother becomes pregnant, the first egg has no senses, but the being is there. Then by and by the egg grows and then senses come into being; they are born. After the being is, it is born.
So the rishi says: “I am not the senses, because I am always prior.” I always precede. And whatsoever has succeeded me, I am not.”
“I am not the senses” – that is, I am not the body – “neither am I the mind,” because mind is a later growth, and sometimes mind can be destroyed without destroying you. Sometimes it happens that accidentally the mind is destroyed, and you are.
In the Second World War, one English soldier fell down into a ditch. He became unconscious, and he remained unconscious for one week. And when he came back from unconsciousness, he was not the same mind again. He couldn’t recognize anyone – not even himself; he couldn’t recognize his face in the mirror, because all his memory was lost; the whole mechanism was destroyed. But the being was still there. So the mind is a mechanism – something added to you, but not you. It is something instrumental to you, but not you.
The rishi says, “I am not the mind. Neither am I the feeling of being a self.” Neither am I the feeling of being a self, because how can you feel yourself as a self without the mind? The feeling of self is part of the mind, that, “I am.” Go deep into it. We use “I am.” This feeling of “I” is part of our mind. The rishi says, “No not this either. This feeling of being a self is again not my reality, my being.” So when the rishi says, “Not even the feeling of self,” then what remains? “I” drops completely, and only “am-ness” remains. The feeling of “I” belongs to the mind, but “am-ness” belongs to my being itself. A feeling of “am-ness” is what is meant by atma – just “am-ness.”
If you can drop your thinking, you will be, but in an oceanic feeling of “am-ness.” Even this formation of “I,” this formation of self-hood, is not there. That is a later growth.
The rishi is really trying to bring into consciousness, the purest possibility of existence, with nothing added to it – the purest, just a clean slate, nothing written on it. So he is washing everything that we have written on it, and just cleaning the whole thing. When nothing more remains to be washed, he says, “This is the being.” Because whatsoever is written is just doing – howsoever subtle, howsoever hidden, howsoever unconscious – whatsoever is written is a later growth.
So go back, retrace, regress to the original “am-ness.” That, he says, even when there is no breathing, where there is no “minding,” this being is there – without mind, without breathing, without senses. What remains? But what remains? Just a vacuum? Just a nothingness? No, all remains, but in its purity, in its potentiality, in its absolute seed.
Only one positive assertion is made, and that is, “This innermost center is aware, is conscious.” The very nature of it is consciousness. When everything has been eliminated – thoughts, senses, body, mind – when everything has been eliminated, only pure consciousness remains. This is the nature of it.
What is meant by pure consciousness? By pure consciousness is meant that there is consciousness; not conscious about anything – just a mirror, mirroring nothing. Towards this purity is the whole search. And the rishi says, “There is no doubt about it,” because this is not a doctrine, this is not a philosophical system; this is experience, this is realization. The rishi says, “This I have known; this I have lived; this I have reached. This is not just a mental projection; this is not just a thought-out system; this is what I have lived and known and experienced.”
This must be understood because this is one of the most emphatic characteristics of Eastern darshan – I will not call it philosophy. It has been called and translated as philosophy very wrongly – not only wrongly, but the very meaning is perverted. By darshan is meant that which you have seen, not thought. By philosophy is meant that which you have thought.
Philosophy means love of thinking. Philo means love, sophy means thinking – love of thinking.
Darshan is not love of thinking; it is love of seeing. So only one man, Hermann Hesse, has rightly
translated it; he has coined a new word to translate darshan into English, and that word is philosia – philo for love, and sia for seeing – not sophy, but sia.
The Eastern mind has been constantly concerned, not with thinking, but with seeing. They say thinking is a pale substitute. You have seen the sunrise, that is one thing. Someone who is blind can only think about the sunrise. Can there be any parallel? Can there be any comparison? Whatsoever you have seen and whatsoever he may have thought – can there be any link between the two? A blind man thinking about the sunrise is really a very complex phenomenon, primarily, because a blind man has never known what sunrise is, what light is. What does rising mean to a blind man? What does light mean to a blind man? Simple words – only words, mere words with nothing in them – meaningless. He has heard “light,” “sun,” “sunrise”; he can think. What can he think? He can think in a chain of words. He can create a chain of words – simple – a chain of words, not of meanings, because meaning is something which is always felt. A word is meaningless unless you have felt the substance of it. A blind man cannot think about the sunrise because he cannot even think about light; really, he cannot even think about darkness.
We always think, we assume that the blind man is living in darkness. That is simply absurd, because darkness is a phenomenon of the eyes, not of blindness. You have to be not blind to know darkness: darkness is seen, and a blind man cannot see. So a blind man is not in darkness – remember this. A blind man has never known what darkness is, because for darkness to be felt, you need eyes. So even darkness has not been known. So if you eliminate, negate, and you say to the blind man, “Light is what darkness is not,” it still means nothing. You cannot even use the eliminative process; you cannot say, “Light is not darkness.” He will ask what darkness is.
A blind man can think. Thinking is a dimension which need not be experienced. He can think, he can create concepts in his own way – in his own blind ways he can create concepts. He can create some parallelism; he can create some synonyms. He can begin to think in terms of his own experience about light, darkness and sunrise, and he can create a philosophy. Really, only blind men create philosophies, because those who can see will not bother to create philosophies. If you can see, there is no need.
This is the basic difference between Eastern thinking and Western. Western thinking has always remained with thinking; Eastern thinking has always stepped out of thinking, because they say even thinking is a barrier to seeing. If your eyes are filled with thoughts, you cannot see. The eyes must cease all thinking, all ideation, all minding – then the eyes are clear, then you can go deep into reality.
So the rishi says, “There is no doubt about it. Whatsoever I am saying, I have seen, and there is no doubt.” So it is not, “I don’t know, but I propose… perhaps… it may be so….” It is not so. The rishi is not saying, “Perhaps it may be like this,” or “Perhaps it may be like that.” He is simply saying – he is describing. So it is not that he is proposing any ideology; it is simply this, that he is describing something he has gone into. So he says, “There is no doubt. I myself have known this: this pure consciousness.”
How to go? – because for us still there is doubt. It may not be for him – for the rishi it may not be – but for us there is still doubt. And it is good – if you also say, “”Now there is no doubt,” then you are lost, because if there is no doubt for you, you will not go for the journey where the certainty is. You will create a pseudo certainty; all believers create pseudo certainties. They also say, “We believe it is so,” and they have not known.
Unless you know, do not believe.
Unless you know, do not say, “There is no doubt.”
Remain with the doubt.
Doubt is healthy; it pushes you.
But don’t get stuck in the doubt – go ahead, find the state where you can also say, “Now there is no doubt. I know it.” But not before that – not before that.
Live with doubt, go with doubt; search, enquire.
Don’t make your doubt suicidal – that’s enough – don’t make your doubt suicidal. Let it be a healthy push! Let it be an enquiry, an open enquiry.
So be with doubt. Don’t create any false belief. It is better to be sincerely in doubt, than to be insincerely into belief, because at least you are authentic. And authenticity is very meaningful. An authentic, sincere person can reach – will reach. But a non-authentic, insincere person may go on believing for lives and lives together. He is not even moving a single inch; he cannot move. So when this rishi says, “There is no doubt,” it is not meant that thereby you begin to believe. The rishi is simply giving a statement about his own stage. He is saying, “For me, there is no doubt. Whatsoever I am saying, I mean it, and I have known it.”
Really, the Upanishads have never given any arguments. Whatsoever they say, they say without any arguments, without any proofs. This is rare! They don’t say why this is so; they say, “This is so.” Why? It is significant. It is very significant, because whenever you try to prove something – you argue something, you gather witnesses for it – it means that you are creating a philosophy, a rationalization, a reasoning, a logical system; but you have not known.
If you have known, then a simple statement is enough. So the rishis give simple statements, and then methods – not proofs. Whatsoever they say, they say, “It is so; now this is the method, you can also know it.” They never give any proofs; quite the opposite.
There are Greek thinkers: Aristotle, or Plato, or even Socrates. They go on giving proofs. They go on giving proofs, arguments. They say, “This is so because…. And in “because” they will never say, “because I have known it.” They will say, “because this proves it, that proves it; that’s why it is so.” It is a syllogism, a logical syllogism.
These rishis are just illogical. They say, “This is so.” And if you ask, “Give us proofs,” they say, “This is the method. Experiment with it and you will get the proof.” In a way this is more scientific – less logical, but more scientific – not concerned with arguments at all, but with experiment. Really, this is what scientists are doing. If you ask them, “Why is this so, why does fire burn?” they will say, “Put your hand in it. We don’t know why, we know how it burns.”
So the basic approach of any philosophical ideation is “why?” And the basic scientific approach is always concerned with “how,” never with “why.” The rishi will never ask why we are not minds; he will ask “how” – the method. This is religious science, not philosophical systematizing. Of course, the experiment has to be different, because the lab has to be different. For scientific experimenting a lab is needed outside you; for religious experimentation you are the lab.
How? How can this pure consciousness be achieved? The very description is the process also – this eliminatory method of saying a thing is also the process. When the rishi says, “I am not the body; I am not the senses; I am not the mind” – this is also the method. Go on, go on being more and more conscious of the fact that “I am not the body.” Remain with this fact: “I am not the body.”
Remember this fact – let it go deep in you:
I am not the body.
Begin to feel the gap between you and the body and soon the gap is known, because the gap exists there – you have only forgotten it. It is not to be created; it is there already – you have just forgotten it. You have just escaped from the gap. The gap is always there, but we never go in to see the gap.
Really, this is miraculous in a way, and very strange, that we know our bodies from the outside – even our own bodies we know from the outside. This is as if you live in a house but you have never known the inner walls of the house; you have known only the outer ones – your own house! You cannot describe your body – how it looks from within? You can describe how your body looks in the mirror. But the mirror cannot see the inside; it can only see the outer, the outer shell.
But there is an inside also, because no outside can exist without an inside – or can an outside exist without an inside? But we have never become aware from the inside of our own body.
So be aware:
Close your senses, remain in, and be aware.
And begin to feel your body from the inside. There will be a gap, because there is always a gap. You will come to know that gap, and then you will know what this rishi means when he says, “I am not the body, I am not the senses, I am not the mind.” Go on, deep. Begin to look into your minding itself, into your mind process itself, and then you will begin to be aware that there is still a gap, between you and your mind.
Go on eliminating, and a moment comes when you explode into simple am-ness – without any I, without any self, without any selfhood – into pure authentic, existential being.
From That Art Thou, Chapter 15
I am not the doer. I am not the consumer.
I am simply the witness of nature.
And just because of my nearness, the body, et cetera,
have the feeling of being conscious,
and they act accordingly.
Beyond a shadow of doubt,
I am still, eternal, everlasting bliss –
Ever-knowing pure self or soul.
And I pervade all beings as the witnessing soul.
How does this bondage happen? How is it that we never feel that we are in the body, but feel that we are the body? The witnessing self is never felt. We always feel some identity; we always feel some identification. And the witnessing consciousness is the reality. So why does this happen? And how does this happen?
You are in pain – what is really happening inside? Analyze the whole phenomenon: the pain is there, and there is this consciousness that pain is there. These are the two points: the pain is there, and there is this consciousness that the pain is there. But there is no gap, and somehow “I am in pain” – this feeling happens – “I am in pain.” And not only this – sooner or later, “I am the pain” begins, happens, starts to be the feeling. “I am pain; I am in pain; I am aware of the pain” – these are three different, very different states.
The rishi says, “I am aware of the pain.” This much can be allowed, because then you transcend pain. The awareness transcends – you are different from it, and there is a deep separation. Really, there has never been any relation; the relation begins to appear only because of the nearness, because of the intimate nearness of your consciousness and all that happens around.
Consciousness is so near when you are in pain – it is just there by the side, very near. It has to be; otherwise, the pain cannot be cured. It has to be just near to feel it, to know it, to be aware about it. But because of this nearness, you become identified, and one. This is a safety measure again; this is a security measure, a natural security. When there is pain you must be near; when there is pain your consciousness must go in a rush towards the pain – to feel it, to do something about it.
You are on the street and suddenly you feel a snake there – then your whole consciousness just becomes a jump. No moment can be lost, not even in thinking what to do. There is no gap between being aware and the action. You must be very near; only then this can happen. When your body is suffering pain, disease, illness, you must be near; otherwise, life cannot survive. If you are far off and the pain is not felt, then you will die. The pain must be felt immediately – there should be no gap. The message must be received immediately, and your consciousness must go to the spot to do something. That’s why nearness is a necessity.
But because of this necessity, the other phenomenon happens: so near, you become one; so near, you begin to feel that “this is me – this pain, this pleasure.” Because of nearness there is identification: you become anger, you become love, you become pain, you become happiness.
The rishi says that there are two ways to disassociate yourself from these false identities. You are not what you have been thinking, feeling, imagining, projecting – what you are is simply the fact of being aware. Whatsoever happens, you remain just the awareness. You are awareness – that identity cannot be broken. That identity cannot be negated. All else can be negated and thrown. Awareness remains the ultimate substratum, the ultimate base. You cannot deny it, you cannot negate it, you cannot disassociate yourself from it.
So this is the process: That which cannot be thrown, that which cannot be made separate from you, is you; that which can be separated, you are not.
The pain is there; a moment later it may not be there – but you will be. Happiness has come, and it will go; it has been, and it will not be – but you will be. The body is young, then the body becomes old.
All else comes and goes – guests come and go – but the host remains the same. So the Zen mystics say:
Do not be lost in the crowd of the guests.
Remember your host-ness.
That host-ness is awareness.
That host-ness is the witnessing consciousness.
What is the basic element that remains always the same in you? Only be that, and disidentify yourself from all that comes and goes. But we become identified with the guest. Really the host is so occupied with the guest, he forgets.
Mulla Nasruddin has given a party for some friends and some strangers. The party is very boring, and half the night is just lost and it goes on. So one stranger, not knowing that Mulla is the host, says to him, “I have never seen such a party, such nonsense. It seems never-ending, and I am so bored that I would like to leave.”
Mulla says, “You have said what I was going to say to you. I myself have never seen such a boring and nonsense party before, but I was not so courageous as you are. I was also thinking to leave it and just run away.” So they both run.
Then, in the street Mulla remembers and says, “Something has gone wrong, because now I remember: I am the host! So please excuse me, I have to go back.”
This is happening to us all.
The host is lost –
The host is forgotten every moment.
The host is your witnessing self.
Pain comes and pleasure follows; there is happiness, and there is misery. And each moment, whatsoever comes you are identified with it, you become the guest.
Remember the host.
When the quest is there, remember the host.
And there are so many types of guests: pleasurable, painful; guests you would like, guests you would not like to be your guests; guests you would like to live with, guests you would like to avoid – but all guests.
Remember the host.
Constantly remember the host.
Be centered in the host.
Remain in your host-ness; then there is a separation. Then there is a gap, an interval – the bridge is broken. The moment this bridge is broken, the phenomenon of renunciation happens. Then you are in it, and not of it. Then you are there in the guest, and still a host. You need not escape from the guest, there is no need.
Then you can be in the crowd and alone. And if you cannot be alone in the crowd, you can never be alone anywhere, because the capacity to be alone in the crowd is needed to be alone when you are really alone; otherwise, if you cannot be alone in the crowd, the crowd will be there when you are alone. The mind will be crowded even MORE, because the mind has a tendency to feel absence more than presence.
If your beloved, if your lover is present, you can just forget very easily. But if he is not present, you cannot forget. The mind has the tendency to feel absence more, because through absence is desiring. And mind is just desiring, so mind feels absences more; otherwise, there can be no desiring. If you can forget absences, then desire becomes impossible. So we forget presences, and we go on feeling absences. Whatsoever is not, is desired; and whatsoever is, is just forgotten.
So when you are alone, the crowd will be there; it will follow you. If you escape from the crowd, the crowd will follow you. So do not escape, do not try – it is impossible. Remain where you are, but don’t be centered in the guest.
Be centered in yourself, remember the host.
This host is your being in its purity.
Do not fall in love with the guest.
Do not fall in hate with the guest.
Really, this word is very good: “falling” in love. Why falling in love? Why not rising in love? No one rises in love, everyone falls in love. Why? Why this falling? Really, the moment you are in love, or in hate, you fall from your host-ness. You just fall from your host-ness; you become the guest. That is the misery, that’s the confusion, that’s the darkness.
Wherever you are – doing, not-doing, lonely, in the crowd, active, inactive – wherever you are, go on remembering the host. Remember that whatsoever is happening is just a guest, and you are the host, and don’t be identified with anything. Anger comes – remember you are the host; anger is just a guest. It has come and it will go.
I am reminded of a Sufi story.
A great emperor asks his wise men to give him a mantra of such a type that it can be used in any dangerous, fatal situation – ANY. Advice is always particular, and he wants a mantra, an advice, the essence of all wisdom, so that it can be used in any situation whatsoever, whenever there is danger.
The wise men are very confused, very disturbed, and in a deep anguish. They cannot find such an essence of all wisdom. Then they go to a Sufi mystic and he gives a piece of paper and says, “This should not be opened unless there is really danger! And then the advice will be there.” So the king put the piece of paper under the diamond of his ring.
There are many moments when the danger approaches, but the Sufi has emphatically said, “Unless you feel this is really the last hope – that nothing can be more dangerous – only then open it!” Many dangers come and go, and the king always feels this is not the last; something more can still happen. Even death approaches, and the king is just on his deathbed, but still he cannot open it, because he remembers still more is possible.
But his wise men say, “Now please open it. We want to see what is there.” But the king says, “The promise must be fulfilled. Really, now it is irrelevant what is there; the mantra has worked upon me. Since having this mantra with me, I have not felt any danger at all. Whatsoever the danger was, I have felt still more was possible, and I have remained the host. I was never identified.”
Danger can never become the ultimate unless you are identified with it, and then anything can become the ultimate – just anything! Just anything ordinary can become the ultimate, and you are disturbed. And the king said, “Now I am not worried at all, whatsoever. The man is wise; the Sufi knows – I am not concerned about what he has written.”
Then, the king died without opening the ring. The moment he died, the first thing his wise men did was to open the ring. There was nothing; it was just a piece of paper… just a piece of paper – not a word, not a single word of advice.
But the advice worked; the mantra worked.
So be centered in your host, and remember nothing is happening to you. All that is happening is just the guests, visitors; they will come and go. And it is good that they come and go; it enriches you, you become more mature. But don’t follow them, don’t be involved with them. Don’t become one with them. Don’t fall in love and hate; don’t fall into identification.
Remain the host, and then the ultimate happening happens.
Then the ultimate explosion becomes possible.
Once the witnessing soul is known, you will never be the same again. The whole world disappears and you are transmuted into a new dimension of bliss. Identification is misery; non-identification is bliss.
To fall in love and hate with the guest is misery. To transcend them, and to be centered in oneself, is bliss.
From That Art Thou, Discourse #16
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