Beyond I Am

One of the hardest tasks we have in spiritual life is remembrance. What is it that we are remembering? It is the purpose of life. What is the purpose of life? From a spiritual point of view, it is to know our I Am-ness and, ultimately, to merge with God. To merge with God, you have to give up your I Am-ness. That doesn’t seem quite fair does it? You just get it, and then you have to give it up. That is really the point. Mostly we identify with time, space, form, our life cycles, etc. When that goes away, prior to time and space, we have I Am-ness. That is the soul-essence of who we are. At the same time, it’s one step before enlightenment. Until you get to the I Am-ness, the pure essence, the next step is to merge the boundaries of that essence into the One. In Hindu we call it I Am That. This is the I Am awareness.

This takes not only remembrance but also courage. At some point we have to go through the process of entering the unknown and letting go of the known, which is the comfort zone of the known that took us a lifetime to get in touch with.  After a lifetime of work for some people, we are now confronted with the idea of letting go of all the work we did to get to the I Am-ness. That’s the process. The big step is letting go into the Nothing. It takes much courage to die into the Nothing, because if we still think we’re Something, we want to hold onto that. The idea is to let go of that. Again, it takes much courage, but it also takes the remembrance of a deeper truth that we are never born, we never die, we are eternal, and even the I Am-ness is just the ahamkara. It’s the boundary that keeps us from the One. There comes a point when we are courageous enough to let go of the boundary.

The Six Foundations makes this easier, and meditation is the most effective means. When you’re meditating deeply, there can be a spontaneous dissolution into the Nothing, and there is no you, and there’s no place to be standing. Usually this happens spontaneously, and it isn’t really that much of a challenge. In time, it happens more regularly, and it becomes the ground of your being – except that it’s not your being. It’s just the ground of being. That’s the process whereby we enter into enlightenment. We can have these flashes here and there for a day or two, but it is when it is consistently there, over time, that we enter into the first stages of the enlightenment process.

The key, as we go up and down into that, is to get more and more connected to the truth so that it’s our regular state. In yoga, we talk about two kinds of samadhi. In nirvikalpa-samadhi we move into the void, and in sankalpa-samadhi we move into the light. But there is still an “I” merging into the void and into the light. We still have our integrity, and when we go a step deeper we disappear into the light. That’s called sahaja-samadhi, which is the constant state of being in that awareness while we are in the world. There is a place where we necessarily face that fear. At some point we face the fear of the dissolving the illusion that we are something. Letting go into the Nothing can be terrifying, even though that’s our true nature. So part of the process is having enough background through meditation to know that that is who we are, or, more accurately, who we are not.

When you come into that awareness, it’s much, much easier to let go. You cannot lose what you never had. The illusion is that we have the something of the I Am-ness. This is the fundamental amnesia that we are born into and suffer from. The work of being in this plane is to let go of the illusion of I Am-ness, which separates us from the truth. The process is simple if we live in a way that leads us more and more in that direction, and it becomes easier and easier to accomplish. The Six Foundations and the Sevenfold Peace are a model for living this way.

While you cannot technique your way to God, these foundations support you on your way. Our job is to show up and be consistent. In the yogic system this is called sanatana dharma, or the natural way of living that brings one into liberation. It doesn’t have to be complicated. This is the natural way of living that helps one to be open to all of these levels and to incorporate this wisdom into life in a natural way. Everybody does this differently, according to who they are.

May everybody be blessed to access their purpose in life, and, in that process, to awaken the I Am-ness and go beyond that. Amen.