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Who Am I? Regardless of Where Am I?

| Nirmala | Self-Inquiry

Who Am I? Regardless of Where Am I?

Published on
02 August 2018

Q: It's been about 3 years since I was introduced to Sri Ramana's  'Who Am I' document with the 11 questions.  Honestly though, it was a tough first read and I have sought those who are recognized as being experts in 'translating' Maharshi's  words into more understandable language. My 'Who Am I' has morphed into 'What Am I'.  It seems using the word 'who' activates not only a sense of identity, but along with it a location.

The location is what doesn't shake loose when I look inside.  I have had many and now increasingly more experiences of getting past the 'Me', not not past the location.  Whatever's happening is happening 'here'. Whatever isn't happening brings me to a place that 'suggests' no location.  But the conversation seems to hinge around where these experiences are taking place? I have yet to have a conscious location-less experience.  I don't know if that's really important though or if that's just my mind looking for an enlightenment 'event'  Whatever it is that's going on in this individuated consciousness location,  it is plain to see that the human aspect has been greatly transformed over a period of time.

Since my nature is infinite, then I will never reach the end of me, so there is no rush to make anything happen although  my mind is convinced that something should 'happen'. Your thoughts?

A: I also find it helpful to ask the self-inquiry question in different forms. There are many more suggestions for possible forms of the self-inquiry question in this article:

The Practice and Purpose of Self-Inquiry

As for the sense of location, that is probably going to mostly persist as long as you are still in a body. It obviously is practically advantageous to orient to the location of the body most of the time. However, the nature of awareness or consciousness itself is the same whether it is in a location, has no location, or is experienced as an expanded or infinite location, just as water is still wet whether it is in an ocean or in a teacup. You can still explore "Who or what am I?" regardless of "Where am I?"

So I would suggest you simply continue exploring the sense of me as it is appearing in each moment and not worry to much about the location it is appearing in. However, you can also experiment with inquiring more into the actual nature of this apparent "location". For example, you can ask where does the sense of "me" stop and something else begin? Is there a definite boundary or is it hard to find an exact edge to the "me"? And similarly, where does awareness actually stop? If you see or hear an airplane miles away, where does awareness stop and something else called unawareness begin? Or how about when you look up at the stars at night? And are you sure that awareness does not extend even beyond your physical senses? Can you sense the presence of the vastness of space even if you cannot see all of it? Where does this infinite space stop and something else called "me" begin? Or is the "me" actually just more space? Or is the space just more "me"?

These different kinds of questions may or may not give you a different experience of the location of the me, but they may at least soften the boundaries that we hold in our minds. There are no boundaries in awareness itself as it is truly one thing.

You may also enjoy some of the awareness exercises offered in the Headless Way of Douglas Harding.

As for your mind's sense that something "should happen", I will simply point to an experiential definition of the truth: the truth is what opens or expands your heart or sense of self and quiets the mind. Something that is less true has the opposite effect and contracts your sense of self and makes your mind busier. Does the idea that "something should happen" open and expand your sense of self, or does it contract you? This may even be a rhetorical question as I have almost never had a thought that includes a "should" open or soften my sense of being :)

I hope this is helpful.


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