If we assume that the life we lead is a ‘dream’ and existence nothing but a ‘dream state’, then you are a substantial part of that dream. In that dream you constantly play the leading role. Whatever happens, whatever is experienced, wherever it takes place, ‘you’ are always there.
In order to awaken you first need to know who is sleeping. It is important to have an understanding of what and who you are in order to determine what that dream is. Only when you know what something is, can you remove or keep it.
There are different methods of investigating your Self and almost all of them are derived from the methods of Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj.
Ramana developed the ‘Who am I?’ question and Nisargadatta developed the ‘I am!’ meditation. Whether they themselves have invented these methods doesn’t really matter, if it works it works. I use a combination of these two methods.
It comes down to this:
Keep your attention as long as possible focused on your own ‘I-ness’ (the core of what you are). This usually takes the form of a meditation. You sit and meditate on the thought ‘I am’. When you find your mind wandering you ask yourself ‘Who am I?’ and subsequently focus your attention on the answer.
Who Is This I?
Before you can start with that meditation or that focusing you must discover and find out who or what this ‘I’ is so you know on what to meditate. For this purpose, as starters, the following four questions are useful:
- Who am I?
— For example: ‘I am Frits’
- What am I?
— ‘I am man, writer, son, brother, friend, sexy …’
- Who says this?
— ‘I do’
- Who is this “I” that says ‘I do’?
- Who am I?
With this fourth question we experience a problem because who is this ‘I’ who says that?
You started by stating that this ‘I’ is your name, but is that really true? Suppose your parents would have given you a different name, would you then also immediately be another ‘I’ and would that other ‘I’ have given different answers? Would the ‘I’ that I am as ‘Frits’ be different if my parents would have called me ‘Peter’?
Some questions you should answer honestly, are:
- Is that ‘I’ my name?
— ‘Am I Frits or is that my name?’
- Is that ‘I’ a son/daughter?
— ‘Am I a son or is that a title for a relationship?’
- Is that ‘I’ a brother/sister?
— ‘Am I a brother or is that a title for a relationship?’
- Is that ‘I’ a boyfriend/girlfriend?
— ‘Am I a friend or is that a title for a relationship?’
- Is that ‘I’ my job or activities?
— ‘Am I a writer or is that a name for what I do?’
This way you could ask a lot of questions about what you think you are and whether this is true in reality; and that is exactly what you should do.
Everything comes down to answering those questions sincerely. You get nowhere if you continue to fool yourself like you have done the previous years of your life. Everyone can fool themselves and in general everyone is fooling themselves.
The question is whether you want to stop doing that now?
You are not your name. Your name is a word, a sound that refers to the body that we see as ‘you’. You’re also not the relationships you have, not the work you perform. You’re not even the gender stated in your passport, because that is a word that refers to something and is not the core of your ‘I-ness’.
When you examine everything very seriously, you cannot help but conclude that you are not what you’re called and you are not what you do. If you rule out all names and references you can only end up with the conclusion that you exist. The only thing you know for sure and you can say about yourself, is:
You cannot articulate what you are, other than that you seemingly are ‘this here now’. Each label that you adhere to it is not what you are, because you just are, and everything else is only a reference to what we think or play we are.
When you believe that you are something different than this (whatever that may be) that is apparently here now (wherever that may be) or your surroundings convince you that you are anything other than this here now, ask yourself this question:
What is ‘this’ that is ‘here now’?
You’ll notice that you can articulate what you are not — your name, your job, your relationships — but what you can only say about what you really are, is seemingly ‘this’ which is seemingly ‘here now’.
An important realization is that you have always been ‘this’ that is ‘seemingly here’. They (the people around you, your society) have taught you your whole life that you must become something, that you should do something and must accomplish something and be ultimately something that is apparently intended, while you have always been ‘this’ from birth and you were never anywhere else but ‘here now’.
You don’t have to be or achieve anything, you are like everyone else always perfect as ‘this here now’.
The only thing you can know for sure is that you exist, that is the ‘I am!’ feeling on which you can meditate. Simply, ‘I am!’ and nothing else. When you notice, while meditating, that your mind wanders, then ask yourself ‘What am I?’ or ‘What is this that I think I am?’ and give yourself the answer ‘I am this here now’ and focus your attention on the ‘I am!’ feeling that remains.
‘Meditation’ is in this context an overrated and largely misunderstood word because modern spirituality, New Age, Zen and Buddhism made it seem something magical. With ‘meditation’ I simply mean that you go sit at a place where you won’t be disturbed and you have the freedom to focus all your attention on ‘I am!’ — and then experience, without putting it into words, what that really means.
‘I am!’ is a powerful thought, because the sentence ends at the moment we are used to utter all kinds of things to determine and confirm our ego. Once we stop the sentence after ‘I am!’ the ego panics and that’s exactly what should happen.
Time is not a limitation, it is a tool, an aid. Ultimately, time is non-existent, so don’t rush yourself. You’re the only one who knows when you’re ready for the next step.
When after a few weeks, a few months, a year, a few years or more, you notice that your mind no longer wanders and you see in everyday life that you just ‘are’ and only ‘exist’, and that you’re not your name, you’re title or your relationship, then you can start the Autolysis.