A Zen master was writing calligraphy and a visitor asked, ‘Please master, would you write some Zen wisdom.’ The master wrote, “Attention!” And the visitor asked that he write something more elaborate, more detailed. He explained that he wanted to put it on his wall and show people what Zen is all about. The master again wrote “Attention!”
This is what it is all about: attention, awareness. You must struggle constantly to be attentive, to be present, to be aware.
You have your own way of seeing the world, you see it through your own ideas. If you have certain ideas, you will see the world in a certain way; and if you have other ideas, you will see the world quite differently. We are constantly seeing through distorting ideas, that is our world. And this world is supported by expectations, by what we want to happen and what we do not want to happen. It is this constant jockeying of one idea against another that gives the feeling of the turmoil of the world. But it isn’t the turmoil of the world, it is the turmoil of our way of seeing the world.
Nisargadatta says: ‘Break the spell and be free.’ The ideas that we have are solidified and fixed by the words we use to articulate those ideas.
When you ask ‘who am I?’ a spell has already been cast. You have already set up the structure that is going to guide your attention in a certain direction. ‘What am I?’ The what immediately implies ‘some thing’. There must be something that corresponds to the what. You cannot grasp your true nature, you are it. When you lift your hand, the hand raising is you in action. There is no you apart from the hand raising.
The questioner asks, ‘how does one break the spell?’ and N. replies, ‘assert your independence in thought and action.’ Gurdjieff always said, ‘you forget yourself.’ Assert your independence, your autonomy, your ‘youness’. Remember yourself. You feel that ‘it’ is all. This is what sends you to sleep. Sleep is the abdication of you. N. ‘After all, all hangs on your conviction that what you see, hear, think and feel is real.’ You are convinced it is apart from you, that there is you and there is what you are seeing, with a chasm in between.
But if it is not real, then what is it? Again we have words, the word ‘real’ – something has to correspond to it. We feel that there is a condition which brings about reality. When we ask ‘Who am I? What am I?’ we are asking about reality. We want to know what is real that is called ‘me’.
This is the fundamental question, what is real? What is it that grants reality? What does it mean when we say ‘the world is real’? This is what you need to ask; commit the whole of yourself to this question.
There is not you and the world, there is not you and things, there are not things in the world. N. ‘Only your sense “I am”, although in the world, is not of the world. By no logic or imagination can you change “I am” into “I am not.” Then what are you? Probe this question, it should grip you so that you cannot sleep.
You are going to die – what does this mean? What is going to die? What is death? Once you realize that the world is your own projection, you are free of it. You do not need to free yourself from a world that does not exist except in your own imagination. So what is it that causes your suffering? You feel there is a cause and that the cause is independent of you.
N: ‘That which creates and sustains the world, you may call God or providence, but ultimately you are the proof that God exists, not the other way around. Before any question about God can be put, you must be there to put it.’ Before anything is, you are. Before your parents were born, what is your face? Before anything, there is your face: what is your face?
Every mode of perception depends on I am. See this and you are free.