by Ram Dass: Try this “Who Am I?” exercise…
Ramana Maharshi said, “Look, it’s all very simple, everybody,” and then for 40 or 45 years all he did was go around telling everyone how simple it was. He said that all you keep doing is self inquiry, Vichara Atma – “Who am I?” You keep saying this, “Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?”
Here is an exercise you can go through:
You sit down quietly and you say, “Who am I?” and then the way I do it is I put the “I,” the thought of the “I” right in the middle of my head, right here, and I say, “I am not this body.” Then I experience my body as object to the “I” in the middle of my head. I see it. I feel it. I sense it as an object. Then I say, “I am not my five organs of action,” and then I experience my arms as objects, my legs as objects, my tongue as an object, my anal sphincter as object, and my genitals as objects. Each of them are experienced as “that” and here “I” am in the middle of my head. Then I say, “I am not my senses.”
Now, you have been in a room where there is a clock ticking and you start to read something, and you get so turned on by what you’re reading, you don’t hear the clock tick. Everybody is in that situation, and when you finish reading, then the clock is ticking again. Now actually, all the time you were there, the clock was ticking, your ear was hearing the clock tick, but you weren’t attending to your ear hearing the clock tick. It was involuntary. In other words, there is a place between the three and the two. There’s a place between your attention and your ear hearing the clock tick, so what you do is you don’t turn off, but you observe your hearing, like when I’m talking, watch your ear hearing me talk. Watch your eyes seeing, watch your nose smelling; note your mouth tasting; note your skin feeling. Do it all from a place right in the middle, the “I” thought. Then “I” am not my five internal organs, and you go through digestion, erection, excretion, respiration, perspiration, and circulation, and then you’re ready for the clincher, the exquisite one. You got all that? You’re finished with your body; now where are you? You’re in the middle of this “I” thought, in the middle of the head that you own, and you say, “I am not this thought.”
So then it becomes “Well, where am I?”… “I am here; I am here.” Any thought you can think of, you’re not that one.
If you can do that, and it takes quite a while, I mean really, a long time, you come to a place where you go behind your senses, and behind your thinking mind. When you are able to do that, you go through a doorway and you enter into what in Zen is called Satori, in Hindu is called Samadhi, and the beginning of what is known as Satchitananda. When you have gone through these stages within that, you come to a place where you are synonymous with that very fine energy, that is an identity with consciousness. Now you’ve got to understand that the identity, that energy, that very, very, fine energy, is an identity with consciousness – that the universe is consciousness; it is not self-consciousness, but it is consciousness.