By Rupert Spira
Everybody knows beyond doubt that “I am,” but for most people, what they are, that to which they refer when they say simply, “I am,” is so thoroughly mixed up with the content of experience – thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, perceptions, activities and relationships – that it seems to be conditioned and limited by these qualities.
All our lives we make statements about ourselves such as, “I am five years old,” “I am a girl or a boy,” “I am going to school,” “I am getting married,” “I am starting my first job,” “I am going to a meeting,” “I am interested in non-duality.” Every statement refers to the “I” that I am, which is subsequently qualified by various feelings, states, activities and so on. All these qualities are continually changing, but the “I am” around whom they revolve is always the same.
Just as the “I” that has shone in our numerous activities throughout our life has always been the same “I,” consider the possibility that the “I” that shines in all minds at all times is the same infinite “I,” the only “I” there is. There are personal thoughts and feelings, personal sensations and perceptions, but there is no personal “I.”
There are individual houses on the earth, but there are no individual spaces. There is only one space, relatively speaking, in the universe. That same space pervades all houses but is not limited to any particular house nor generated by any particular house.
There is a single, intimate, infinite “I” that pervades all apparently finite minds, pervades all bodies, but is not generated by or limited to any particular body. The apparently separate self, the illusory self around whom most people’s lives revolve, is simply the true and only “I,” the infinite “I” mixed with thoughts, images, feelings, memories and so on. Look for that self and it is never found.
Our essential self, that to which we refer when we say simply, “I am,” is systematically ignored by our world culture, and then we wonder why there is so much unhappiness, why people find it so difficult to live harmoniously together in intimate relationships, families and communities, why there is so much conflict between nations.
It is simply because we have overlooked this shared element of our experience. It’s not as if it’s hidden, buried deep in experience somewhere. It’s shining in all experience: the simple experience of being aware.
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Consider the possibility that the knowing of our own being as it is, or its knowing of itself, is the experience of peace or happiness.
Ask yourself the question, “Does the appearance and disappearance of any object of experience leave any kind of trace in awareness? Does it stain or harm or change awareness in any way?” It’s like asking, “Does what takes place in a room have any affect on the space of the room?”
See in this way, not intellectually but in your actual experience, that the space of awareness is never harmed or changed or disturbed by the content of experience. In other words, its nature is undisturbable peace: not a peace that is the result of what does or does not take place in experience, but a peace that is prior to and independent of experience.
See that what you essentially are is always in the same inherently peaceful, imperturbable, pristine condition. You are always perfect, whole, complete. You are never aggrandized or diminished by experience. In other words, you are innately and unconditionally fulfilled. As such, happiness is your nature.
Happiness is not an experience that you as a separate self or finite mind have from time to time. It is the very nature of your self, the very essence of your mind. It is not something that can be found or acquired; it is simply apparently veiled and revealed. There is either happiness or the veiling of happiness, but never the absence of happiness. Happiness or peace is the reality of each of us.
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When each of us goes to the experience “I” or “I am,” we go to the same experience – not a similar experience, but the same being. The being that shines in each of our minds as the knowledge “I am” is the same being, that is, God’s infinite being. To recognize that is the experience of love.
Love is never the property of an individual; it is always shared between all of us. It cannot be carved up, separated and made the exclusive property of one or two entities. As long as there is a self and an other, there is a distance, and as long as there is that distance, there is no love. In humanity there will always be a play of light and dark, good and evil, peace and war, until we understand as a race what it is we have in common, until we realize that we all share our being.
The knowledge “I am” is awareness’s knowing of its own being shining in our minds, and it is that which we all have in common. The recognition of this is the experience of love, and it is the foundation of harmony within ourselves, between intimate partners, between friends and among nations.
When all seven billion of us say “I” or “I am,” we refer to the same being. Until that is recognized, there cannot be peace on earth. Peace must start from that which we all share, which we have in common. Any peace that we may find in the world is only a fragile alliance between beliefs, the kind of peace that is continually being negotiated between governments. It is impossible for world peace to come from the sharing of ideas; we are never going to agree on the same idea or religion or God.
The foundation of world peace must be something on which we can all agree, about which we can all stand and say, “This is my truth as well as your truth.” The only thing it is possible to say that about is the experience ‘I am’, or the experience of being aware.
There can be no peace in ourselves as individuals or in humanity at large until we discover the ‘I am’ that we share and build a society that is based on our shared being. There can be no other source of true peace.
Rupert Spira, a renowned British spiritual teacher, has spent 40 years studying non-dual traditions, including the teachings of P.D. Ouspensky, Krishnamurti, Rumi, Shankaracharya, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta, Robert Adams, Atmananda Krishnamenon, Jean Klein, and his main teacher, Francis Lucille. He is the author of The Transparency of Things, Presence, The Ashes of Love and The Light of Pure Knowing.
The Essence of Non-Duality
An Evening Workshop with Rupert Spira
(Co-Presented by the Garrison Institute)
Saturday, April 27, 2019, 6:30 – 9:00 pm
Members $40/ Nonmembers $45
Click here to register.