What if you were told that there is far more to “you” than meets the eye. Would you be curious? Would you be tempted to set out on a journey to discover your essential Self that is beyond name and form? As a young man living in Bombay, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (born Maruti Shivrampant Kambli in 1897) was earnestly curious; and as a result he realized true Self at the age of thirty-seven. Soon after, be began to hold informal satsang (spiritual discourse, sacred gatherings) with seekers in his humble home in Bombay until the passing of his body in 1981. One of my favourite quotes from his spiritual classic entitled I Am That reads as follows:
“Your begging bowl may be of pure gold, but as long as you do not know it, you are a pauper.”
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj wasn’t talking about the number of coins in our pocket, or the status of our bank account; although such is the prevalent worldly defintion of wealth. He meant that as long as we are still identified with name and form (as our society has conditioned us to believe), we have not discovered the treasure of “I Am.” We may also think of I Am as That without a Second, Source, or The Light of Pure Awareness. It is eternal, immortal, and limitless. The treasure referred to in the title of this article is true Self–“I,” Consciousness. It is the very foundation of our Being. Contrary to popular belief, consciousness is not an epiphenomenon of biological processes. In fact, the common world paradigm of materialism is backward; for the body and the mind arise within Consciousness; not the other way around as is predominantly believed.
To help with our understanding, let’s begin the process of discerning between what is real (lasting and changeless) and what is false (transient and changeful). As we know, our body is losing millions of cells every moment–by some estimates as many as 300,000,000 cells per minute. How, logically, can we claim to be that which is changing so rapidly? At what precise moment could we stop the clock and exclaim, “There I am!” The same logic can be applied to our sensations, images, feelings, thoughts, and perceptions; for all of these are also transient and changeful. However, true Self does not come and go. Our true “I Am” is the same today as it was when our person was ten, twenty, forty, or sixty. There’s a good reason to explain this: Consciousness is beyond the limitations of time and space; for both are constructs of the finite mind. The true “I” is infinite and eternal.
Our name is another good place to further investigation into our essential nature; and we may do so by understanding that a name is a representation for that to which it refers. In short, we can’t get wet from the word water; nor can the word quench our thirst. That means, of course, that common names for persons cannot literally be them. This alone–this opening for doubt about our essential nature–may provide the stimulus for us to investigate our true nature via the question “Who Am I?” –and not relent until we’ve discovered the treasure of “I Am” within. It is the heart of our Being–eternal, immortal, and limitless. We have nothing to fear; for we are Life itself. The body and mind have a beginning and an end; but true Self does not. The person and the world are within us–not the other way around.
Dare to dream (and care for one another).
With heartfelt regards,
Copyright © – 2021 – R. Arthur Russell
P.S. Please share this article if you enjoyed it. If you’d like to view my latest book (This Taste of Flesh and Bones–released September 8, 2020) press here. May it help you in your spiritual journey. 🙏🙏