Your Last Trump: The ‘I-am-ness’ – Alexander Smit

Alexander Smit

Visitor: You were talking once about the last trump which everybody is holding back, the last card that is held back in the game of Self-realisation, when one is standing face to face with oneself. Could you say something more about that?

Alexander: At first sight everybody seems to have his own trump-card, but in the end it all boils down to one thing: the ‘I-am’-awareness, your subjectivity. The awareness of ‘I am’ is your last trump, it is the ground from which you can form opinions, hold views, have a certain idea about something or somebody, or have a self-image. The foundation of this is the phenomenon that ‘I am’.

V: Is there a link between that phenomenon and the ego?

A: The word ‘ego’ leads to a confusion of speech. The ego was introduced by psychologists to mean the whole personality-structure, the ‘I’-structure. But at the root of it there is an almost formless sense of… ‘I am’. Nobody doubts that. Even in order to be able to doubt it you have to be there in the first place.

V: But how can this ‘I-am-ness’ be employed as a last trump?

A: The big delusion is this very ‘I-am-ness’, though hardly anyone gets down to that point. This ‘I-am-ness’ is what is called ‘mula maya’ in Sanskrit, the ‘root of illusion’. Whichever way you turn it, some form of self-awareness is there. You could also call it a sort of ‘perceivership’. But don’t be mistaken! What you want in the end is to disappear, to dissolve in love.

Just look at what you are eagerly longing for. All the things you eagerly want are solvents, i.e. means to disappear in love, your true nature. Whether it is playing the violin, sex, eating or dancing, meditation or football. These things give a sense of liberation, a sense of relief. That’s why they are so popular, because there the state of self-awareness is dissolved for the time being—please note: for the time being.

As a matter of fact, this ‘perceivership’ is the same as the self-awareness. Man is struck by a curious fate, for he is—and, at the same time, he perceives that he is. At the same time, which is a peculiar phenomenon. Perhaps one could try and explain this phenomenon in a scientific way on the basis of the structure of the brains etc., but even so! It is inevitable that all such suppositions, all such hypotheses, again, are being perceived.

V: I am still not clear about that trump of yours.

A: The difficulty is that you are stuck with what your senses are dangling before your eyes. Through the play of the five elements—earth, water, fire, air and ether—a gigantic creation is being conjured up before you. As a result of a misunderstanding you have begun to look upon yourself as a product of that creation. You were getting consciousness mixed up with its contents. It could hardly be otherwise, for until now the only thing you knew was contents. Such is the game.

All you can possibly perceive—from the waking to the dream state up to deep, dreamless sleep—is the ‘I-am-ness’. With deep, dreamless sleep it is perhaps most difficult to perceive it, for you refer to it as, ‘nothing is there’. You bet there is! There is something there, only your search doesn’t go quite that far! The problem is not that everything is so terribly complex, but that one is not going sufficiently deep.

(8th December, 1978)

-Alexander Smit

From Consciousness, Chapter one

For more from Alexander Smit look here.

The Person Is The Past – Alexander Smit

Alexander: There was a moment in your life, probably when you were three of four years old, when you began to experience yourself as something different from the perceivingness. A moment in which you made a swingover to an “I,” that is to say, to a “person,” a self consciousness.

What  you know about yourself is what you remember about yourself. The person, the “I,” consists of nothing but memory pictures from the past. Unlike the images which you make of yourself, awareness does not need any memory. Therefore, all that you know about yourself, and that which you take yourself to be, is old; it is the past. Memory cannot perceive anything new, whereas awareness can. That which you take yourself to be and with which you may identify yourself, are curdled experiences consisting purely and simply of memory pictures. Your so-called experiences are always past. Necessarily the past, for what you know about yourself is derived from memory and is memory. The memory is able to retrieve through images that which is past. But something that is past is not the reality. At best, it is a mental reality. That reality, however, is only short-lived and will eventually dissolve in the awareness.

What sort of reality does the person, composed by you from the past, possess? The reality which you attribute to that past consists of thoughts, mental images, ideas, and concepts. Those images seem to overshadow the reality that you are actually living. Because of that you are living in a world of delusion instead of in the reality. Only the power of discrimination can free you from that. That is why Advaita emphasizes viveka so much, the ability to discriminate between what is delusion and what is reality.

The person, that “somebody” which you have created, cannot be replaced by the concept of “nobody.”

Visitor: That is precisely the point. What I have done is to replace the “somebody” by a “nobody.”

A: It is sufficient to see that what you call the “somebody” or the “person”—that is to say, all the material with which you could identify yourself—is the old, the memory, pictures, and that these do not have any reality. They do have some form of reality, but that reality, in turn, is being attributed by other images again. The reality you are actually living is free from delusion.

V:  I can see that.

A: It isn’t a question of your seeing it: It’s a question of your being there—always.

V: I remember quite well, when I first came here, that you said, “There has got to be a knowing.” My question is: Who knows it?

A: Do you need a “who” in order to know that? At best, the knowing is conscious of a “who,” but there certainly isn’t a “who” that is conscious of the knowing.

V: That knowing happens through the body.

A: Now, if the body is dead, then what does the body know?

V: Then the knowing also isn’t there.

A: So the knowing is the body? The body is still there after death, but the knowing has gone. The knowing does have something to do with the body, but it is not the body. When someone dies, the one who is afraid of dying will disappear. For then it is actually happening, so he needn’t be afraid of it anymore. The one who has the fear of passing away will disappear along with the passing away. It can never take long. You needn’t be afraid of death—the fear will go together with death. If you are afraid to lose your finger, then the fear will have disappeared the moment that you have actually lost it. Those fears are not substantial, not real. In the reality fear disappears. More people have died from the fear of death that through death itself…

V: I am still left with the question of whether the knowing isn’t actually tied up with a “somebody.”

A: No, it isn’t.

V: You are saying. Things happen within the consciousness.

A: Yes, but you can’t make consciousness into an object, into a thing. By making a noun of it, it would seem as if qualities may be attributed to it.

V: When Self realization takes place, will there be a “somebody” then who knows it?

A: It is that very “somebody” which will disappear with Self realization. But there isn’t going to be a “nobody” to take its place.

V: Then who knows?

A: There is only the knowing. There isn’t a “somebody” who knows, nor is there a “nobody” who knows. There is only knowingness, love, consciousness. Once a person came here. After one meeting he said, “I know enough. I get it.” “All right,” I said, and I never saw him again.

To see it only once is sufficient. Knowing is sufficient unto itself. Then there is always something that has to go with it—stories, dramas, ideas, philosophy, etc. Ignorance always needs to be supported, because it cannot stand on its own. The knowing-ness which you are, doesn’t need any support. No guru, no disciple, no commentary, no confirmation, not a single reflection.

Self realization is self-sufficient; that is the beauty of it. The whole guru-disciple relationship also is transcended along with it. The reality—that which you really are—is sufficient unto itself. It doesn’t need anyone’s confirmation, not even the confirmation of the teacher or the guru. But until the last moment you will not stop to seek the grace, the blessing, the approval, the confirmation of the guru as the father.

Only the reality which you are actually living suffices. Self realization is self sufficient. That realization can never be confirmed by anything from outside, by an authority, by an outsider. Someone who is truly Self realized doesn’t run into the trap of self complacency, thinking, “I’m enlightened, I don’t need anybody anymore.” It is very subtle . . . Profound knowing will ultimately become silence.

You have to understand that the “person” is obsessive. You can’t tell the memory, “Stop producing images!” Memory simply produces what it produces. In fact, it is producing a three-dimensional delusion. There is only one thing which is staying out of the delusion, and that is the perceivingness. No wonder that is where the emphasis needs to be put. From the delusion you will never be able to realize what that perceivingness is. The will has no grip on the memory and, therefore, not on the “person,” either. They can’t just disappear.  Memory simply continues to deliver. You may forgive but not forget. To forget is not an act of the will. The brains are simply doing their job. That is how it works; that’s the reality.

Thus I see only one possibility, and I’m asking you: Are you able to see that which is beyond memory? That is the perceivingness, the knowingness. That is why Advaita would like to see you moving into that direction.

V: What matters—looking at it from the subject—is to shift the point of gravity.

A: To shift the point of gravity from constantly trying to get a grip on the knowingness from the delusion—to the knowingness itself, to the real essence. That is what matters in these meetings.

V: And all the whirlings produced by the memory are to be viewed from the perceivingness as being more or less irrelevant.

A: No, no, no! That again is a judgment, and undesirable involvement. What matters is the fact that you are choicelessly aware. The word “choiceless” isn’t just anything: It means to be without discrimination, without preference or aversion. Without judgment, for the perceivingness is choiceless.

V: So you let everything pass by?

A: Let me put it this way: Whoever realizes the perceivingness cannot but live and look from that. The possibility to judge remains completely available, but condemnation will prove to be impossible.

V: Everybody is pushing you into the reality value of the person. Is it possible to avoid that?

A: No, it isn’t. Try to see that you are not a person yourself. That is sufficient and that will do the job.

-Alexander Smit

Taken from Consciousness

This excerpt was originally seen in Inner Directions Journal, Spring/Summer 2005.

The entire magazine can be downloaded from:  http://www.innerdirections.org/catalog/journal/Spring-Summer_2005.pdf

For more from Alexander Smit look here.