There may come a moment in life when the world no longer stimulates us and we feel deeply apathetic, even abandoned. This can motivate us towards the search for our real nature beyond appearances. When we no longer find interest in activities and states, when we no longer feel much pleasure in objects and human relationships, we may find ourselves asking: “Is there something wrong with this world or with my attitude towards it?” This serious doubt can lead us to ask: “What is the meaning of existence? What is life? Who am I? What is my true nature?” Sooner or later any intelligent person asks these questions.
As we live with these questions, look at them closely, we become aware that the “me” always seems to be at the center of things playing several roles: “I am cold. I am tired. I am working.” With a more open-minded alertness it becomes apparent that the body feels cold, tired, or is working, not “I.” In the same way when we look at states: “I wish. I am depressed. I remember. I am bored,” we see that we have identified ourselves with the thought or feeling. In looking at this relation between the “I” and its qualifications it becomes obvious that we have taken it for granted and believe ourselves to be this “me.”
This “me” has therefore no continual reality. It is a false appropriation. It lives only in relation to its qualifications, its objects. It is fundamentally unstable. But because we have mistaken our real self for this imposter we feel an insecurity, a doubt, a lack, a sensation of isolation. The “me” can only live in relation to objects so we spend all our energy trying to fulfill the insatiable insecurity of this me. We live in anxiety, fear and desire trying at one and the same time to be as individualistic as possible and to overcome this separateness. The “me” which appears occasionally is taken as a continuum. Actually it is only a crystallization of data and experience held together by memory. Being fractional, its viewpoint is fractional functioning through like and dislike. Its contact with its surroundings is based on this arbitrary choosing. Living in this way is miserable. The loneliness of such an existence may be temporarily camouflaged by compensatory activity but sooner or later, as we said, our real nature will make itself felt and our questioning will become more urgent. We will begin to feel that what we take for the body and mind is not the actual state of things. In deeper inquiry we feel a certain distancing between the inquirer and his environment, activities and opinions. For a time we may feel like an observer of our life, the spectator of the spectacle. Our body and mind are instruments to be used. We observe the changes of the psychosomatic structure as we grow older. We become aware that many, if not most, of our actions are mechanical reactions. All these happenings are seen from the impersonal observer. We begin to feel closer to the knower of these changes and less identified, lost in, the changing. In the end, the seeker is found to be what was sought.
Q: “What do you mean by that last statement, “the seeker is found to be what was sought?”
A: You are seeking your real nature. What you are looking for is what you are, not what you will become. What you already are is the answer and the source of the question. In this lies its power of transformation. It is reality, a present actual fact. Looking for something to become is completely conceptual, on the level of ideas. It has no reality and no effective power. The seeker will discover that he is what he seeks and what he seeks is the source of the inquiry.
Q: It seems to me that not everyone who is a seeker has experienced this deep feeling of unfulfillment or abandonment that you talk about.”
A: It’s true. There are those who, because of their past, sense the divine anchored deep within them. In these cases there is no motivation. As Meister Eckhart said, “God is seeking himself.”
From I Am, pp.67-68