teisho 1343 (2014)
Nisargadatta: The reward of self-knowledge is freedom from the personal self. There is general, basic awareness which, in its purity, has no reflection. And then there is self awareness: it is a sort of tunnel vision, limited by what is appropriate to maintain the sense of self. There are many subtle ways by which this sense of self is established. We feel that without it we are nothing, that we must have this sense of self in order to exist. We are afraid that if the sense of self should disappear, everything would go with it.
One aspect of practice is to get to know thoroughly this sense of self. When you work with ‘who am I?’ on one hand you are exploring the sense of self, and on the other hand you are allowing knowing to shine through. You are knowing, there is no agent involved, there is no one that knows. The word Bodhisatva expresses this, it means ‘knowing being’, there is no self involved. Everything fundamentally is knowing.
Knowing and being are one. I know myself by being myself. This is the ground of our lives, or what we call ‘the world.’ But on top of that is the search for something, which reflects back on the search for the self; we look for the self in the same way as we look for something. But to be able to respond to the question ‘Who am I?’ one must drop everything, every something. What does it mean to be yourself? The only way you can answer that question is by being yourself. Practice is not about trying to understand words and ideas and it is not about trying to get a new kind of sensation, a new kind of experience; it is simply coming home to what you are, and what you are is knowing. When you see the room or smell the flowers, this is how knowing manifests.
What is most fundamentally taken for granted is that you are. It is a given. The fact that you are never enters your mind throughout the day. It is not questioned, examined or considered. There is nothing outside you, you are a totality, a whole, a completeness; there is nothing that stands against you. You are not part of a causal chain, you are not the effect of something, you are original. You are complete. You are not part of the whole, you are the whole. All beings are Buddha. All the misery of life comes from our turning our backs on this truth and separating being from seeing so that now the world is over there and I am over here. Suffering comes when being and knowing are separated.