The liberating realization of the ‘state’ preceding conditions can only occur when the identification with the I-am disappears.

 Advaita Post, Volume 11 No 4

Advaita Poat 11-04

The death of I-am


Text Satsang

From a talk in Gouda on November 18, 2009

The root of all problems

Dowe: We’re going to the core once again tonight, towards the deepest cause of the making of separations. When the deepest knot is untied, duality is resolved. What is that knot?

Visitor: I was at home and saw a clock and it suddenly struck me as something that conditions me. So then I put it away, so that time would go away.

Yes, it’s often said: I’m in a certain situation and I notice that there I am conditioned or will be conditioned by circumstances. For example, I see a clock and I’m immediately back in the limitation of time. Someone calls my name and I’m back in a personal identity: I am so and so. I don’t feel so well and I don’t like it at all, but I sure am conditioned by it. So it goes, on and on. If you are seeking liberation and see the clock, you can say: okay, I won’t concentrate my attention on the clock anymore and then I’m free of time. Then, are you free?

What I realize now is  just that I had attached myself to it.

Exactly. So you see that removing the clock is not a real solution. Seeing that is very important. First you point towards a condition that for you is restrictive and then you try to eliminate that condition in order to save or reclaim your freedom. So, the clock must be put away, or you go to the doctor for relief from your complaints, and so on. It’s clear that that’s not definitive help. Why not? Because you are looking to change an external condition.

But how many conditions are there? Countless, right? Countless! So then you’re very busy. Also there are even more innumerable conditions over which you have absolutely no control, associated with life or with the weather. These continue whether you like it or not. The difficulties still remain, because it doesn’t work to eliminate suffering by improving conditions.

You’re constantly working on conditions. You’re constantly taking care of yourself by trying to change the terms. Then again this and then that. You’re busy with that all day, every day. Putting things in order works fairly well sometimes, but not all the time, and eventually not at all. You sit empty handed with the unpleasant consequences.  It’s good to look very practically at your own situation, for example, that of the clock. You see the clock and you start thinking about time. “Oh yes, it’s eight o’clock; I left home too late; now we’re sitting here for about two hours and then I’ll go back home again; then I’ll be home at about that time “. So your thought is in the context of time. In it you have a specific identity. If you don’t like it, then you put the clock away or direct your attention elsewhere. “It’s OK now because happily I don’t have to think about time anymore.” Temporarily, but later on you’re back at it again.

So you’ll have to look at the deeper cause of the problem, to see if there is a possibility of liberation there. Take a very practical look at what the problem is. What’s the real problem? That you felt that you were caught in time is a surface reaction of something deeper. What is that deeper? What is the deeper cause?

In essence you are unconditioned, timeless.

Yes, but what happens now, when you look at a clock like that and you feel caught again in time? What’s the cause of the problem?

That’s the identification with it, of course.

It’s your identification with a person who thinks that time is important.

Yes, the ‘I’.

Is that completely clear? You see a clock; you create time and immediately place yourself within it. So it’s not about setting the clock aside. I know people who take the clock out of their room because of the ticking. So that’s the surface level. As you come to view things on a deeper level, you see that it’s not about the clock, but yourself. You construct yourself as a person who finds time to be important; you create time and place yourself as a person in time. Let’s continue to look there. What is the cause of that? Why do you identify yourself as a person there in time?

That’s to hold the ‘I’ position, to keep the ‘I’ alive.

So beneath the identity of the person in time is the ‘I’. What kind of ‘I’ is that?

Call it ego.

How do you experience that practically? What precedes the identity of the person?

Maybe a long-running problem with time?

Now you are placing it in time again. So that’s no answer, it’s a cycle. No, take a look to see if there is a deeper cause than time. So then you have to look deeper into yourself! What we call ego, that is the limited self-being. So you see that there is a limited self-being, when you place yourself as an individual in time. But that ego has deeper roots. What is the deeper root?

A sense of life.

Yes, the feeling of existence and the feeling that your existence is important. That’s really the I-feeling, “I am”, “I exist”. There is immediately a certain tendency, a certain impulse, to give the “I am” form. It’s a quest for a form like a foothold in space, in time, with a name, with a physical form, with a self image, with an autobiography, and so forth. “I am here”. And consequently that means: I am in this time, I am this and that and that, and then you get the whole jumble of a person. To see through this situation, first you have to take a look at the knot of the I-am. Can you experience this clearly, this I-am self-being? You have knowledge of it, otherwise the specific interpretation couldn’t take place. It is an I-knowledge that is prior to all interpretations: cultural, social, everything you’ve received from your education.

I think that it’s more: I am someone.

What do you mean by someone?

Someone who … and then you can fill in the blanks: someone in time who, or someone who …

Yes, sure, but when you talk about someone, what does that ‘someone’ then mean? Isn’t that also already an interpretation?  Although you already see that further interpretations are relative, still that someone position stays, you remain within the conditions which are included in that ‘someone’. But what precedes that?

Sometime when you have a day with nothing to do, when you are on vacation, and have slept well, you can awaken very slowly. Then you can become aware of the primary notion: there is an I am, without interpretation. Not: I am somebody. No, because a somebody does something. No, before the doing arises, there is the primal knot of I-am without any further qualities. It is what gives rise to additional interpretations. Within it is the impulse towards differentiation, the power to create duality.

The liberating realization of the ‘state’ preceding conditions, can take place then only when the identification with that I-am disappears.

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