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Who am I?
“Who am I”
I did this meditation once about 7 years ago but did not connect much to it. I finally read and highly recommend reading the pamphlet “Who am I” from Sri Ramana Maharshi. You can find online free here or on Amazon if you prefer a book.
A friend reminded me to read it, so I did. “It’s interesting that this little pamphlet comprises the entirety of this master’s life work.”
A master’s life work in eight pages!
We are used to consuming or producing lots of content. We even create AIs that can have conversations and generate entire documents such as ChatGPT. There are even newsletters and books written by an AI now and the Internet is about to be flooded with more machine written content.
The quality of the content we find online isn’t always the best. Compare this to someone summarizing his life’s work in eight pages…
“Who talks doesn’t know”. It can easily be changed into “Who writes doesn’t know” and that made me think even about this newsletter, why am I even writing? The answer for me is simple, I just love writing.
Ramana was known to not speak much and not write much either. In fact he wasn’t talking at all when a visitor asked him spiritual guidance and answers relating to self inquiry. Ramana answered them in written and that became the book “Who Am I”?
I have read and re-read the short document last week, it felt perfect for a beginning of the year meditation work. I will read it again.
“Who Am I?” as a way to cut all the thoughts
The mind consists of thoughts. The “I”-thought is the first to arise in the mind. When the enquiry “Who am I?” is persistently pursued, all other thoughts get destroyed, and finally the “I”-thought itself vanishes leaving the supreme non-dual Self alone.
“I” say and write a lot “I” when I talk and write. Reading Ramana made me think about it constantly. But who is the “I” that “I” am using?
Asking this question in my daily meditation has become very powerful and even more as it became almost a permanent inquiry.
Whatever happens right now, I often think about it.
If I feel something physical - am I my body? If I feel something in my knees - am I my knees? No. Am I the breath? Am I the head? Am I the sense of sight, hearing, touch, any sensation or information coming to me? No.
In vipassana meditation, we do body scans and observe sensations. Here it’s the same except each time and for each sensation “am I that?”. It’s a really good practice.
Then comes the mind…
Am I an entrepreneur? A kite-surfer? Someone who writes newsletters? A father? A person learning spirituality? A paraglider? A business man?
I am all and none of that. The meditation continues.
It’s all about negating entirely any thought “I” could identify with.
If am not any of these, then who am I? The consciousness behind these thoughts? Part of the universe? Ramana suggests an answer.
After negating all of the above mentioned as ‘not this’, ‘not this’, that Awareness which alone remains – that I am.
Here comes the next question that is even more useful.
When other thoughts arise, one should not pursue them, but should inquire:
‘To whom do these thoughts arise?’
It does not matter how many thoughts arise. As each thought arises, one should inquire with diligence, ‘To whom has this thought arisen?’. The answer that would emerge would be ‘to me’. Thereupon if one inquires ‘Who am I?’, the mind will go back to its source; and the thought that arose will become quiescent. With repeated practice in this manner, the mind will develop the skill to stay in its source.
These two questions have been on my mind pretty much all day for a few weeks. Who am I? To whom does this thought arise?
These two questions are very powerful in any situation. Ramana says they bring us back to “source”, this is what I am exploring.
Have you tried this “Who am I” practice? Let me know in comments.
You might have missed a few posts I wrote on my other newsletter, my journal:
-If you think you’re enlightened go spend a week with your mother (or your family)
-Made by humans is better for me than AI. Did we forget how to just talk and disagree?
-This is What I Want You to Know about Life
Finally, I am considering to take another group to the Amazon forest Yawanawa Sacred village March 20-30, save the date too if you’re interested, more soon.
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