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How Can You Discover Your Real Self?

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Are we really nothing but our body, emotions, thoughts, life story, career and possessions? * What we term ”I” exists constantly: from early childhood until death we know that ”we are,” that we ”exist.”  Who can that permanent ”I” be? * Awakening to the awareness of "I am" opens up the most mysterious dimension of our existence.*

When some people are asked the question, ”Who are you?" they begin to tell long and complicated stories about their alleged self: stories that they have learnt or developed about who they are or who they aspire to be.

This complicated story about ”me,” one’s possessions, one’s career and experience make a person so individual, that at present 7 billion separate, alienated universes live on Earth, unable to understand one another, generating a wide range of disputes, skirmishes, animosity, hatred and conflicts.

Are we really nothing but our body, emotions, thoughts, life story, career and possessions? If you were not a woman but a man, would you exist? If you did not have a job and property, would you exist even as a homeless person? But of course–many people would say, believing that even under different circumstances they would still live: they would have a body, they would think and experience emotions–and that is what they call ”I.”

But are we really a summary of our body, thoughts and emotions? We continually experience emotions, we feel things, and a stream of thoughts runs through our mind at all times. These thoughts and emotions, are however, not constant: they come and go, to be replaced by new thoughts and emotions. They change all the time: our childhood thoughts and emotions are entirely different from our present-day ones. Our emotions and thoughts are not permanent. What we term ”I,” on the other hand, exists constantly: from early childhood until death we know that ”we are,” that we ”exist.”  Who can that permanent ”I” be?


”I am”

There is something eternal in you. When you are born, you do not yet have thorughts, images of yourself and the world, but you still exist. When you were a small child, and the world around you was a constantly changing caleidoscope of wonders (and was not like at all the world as you look at it today), you also existed. As a hot-headed teenager you wanted to bring salvation to the world, to conquer everything and everybody (and now you are not like that), well, you existed at that time, too. In the course of your life you have replaced the cells of your body several times; the complexity and depth of your emotions have changed, and so have your thoughts and systems of beliefs, but there has always been something in you that has never ever changed. What has been, and still is, the same, regardless of what you have learnt or imagined about yourself. As a new-born baby and as a dying old man you are aware that you exist, you are.

There is something in you that definitely asserts that "I am". This a simply sensation, not acquired, it has been there with you since your birth: you are, you exist unquestionably. The statement "I am" is the only statement that contains the absolute truth. And awakening to the awareness of "I am" opens up the most mysterious dimension of our existence.

How can you experience the awareness of "I am?” At the beginning, one may start mulling over the meaning of the statement: ”I am, I exist." You compose and utter that you ”are,” then recognize that "look, I really am!" Once you have thorughly and profoundly experienced the consciousness of "I exist, I exist, I exist" you will not dwell on it any longer, but you release the thought and there remains the certainty of ”I am-ness.” Abandon yourself into this certainty of ”I am,” and you will understand what a real abyss there is behind thoughts, behind what appears to be a mere commonplace!

I recommend a meditation exercise for this purpose: 

Make yourself comfortable and relax. Take a few deep breaths, and watch the route of the air, as it enters and leaves through your nostrils. Relax! Watch for the sense ”I am” inside you. Be aware that the knowledge of existence has always been there with you–there was not a single moment when you did not exist. This ”am” awareness follows you through your entire life. Watch for the awareness of being, feel that you exist. If any other idea or thought interferes, remove it and return to the roots of the ”am” feeling. Keep returning to the awareness of ”I am,” and reject any other content that intrudes your mind. If you say ”I am an accountant, a secretary, a leader, a mother,” you should know that all these are just illusions. You exist beyond your assumed roles, you simply exist beyond every role you usually play. If you did not have the actual role that you are playing, you would still exist. Return to the sensation of your existence, this is the only real thing, all other identifications in your life are acquired and temporary. Concentrate all your attention on the sensation of ”I am,” which is a timeless presence. When you are spending your time with the consciusness of ”I am,” you will enter a state that defies a description; it can only be experienced. You exist, and here and now you should only focus on that fact!

This "amness" is looking out through your eyes, this ”amness” is comtemplating the world. It is the one that moves your legs and arms, breathing, understands your thoughts and experiences your emotions. Do not ask questions, do not seek an explanation as to who and what you are: you are what you are, an eternal mystery, an alert existence, the manifestation of life itself. Turn your attention from the experience to the experiencer! What can be more important: the always present experiencing witness, or the ever-changing experience? Discover yourself through the ”I am” sensation. You are, you exist, so watch for the sensation of your existence. Bear in mind the ”I am” sensation, merge with it until your mind and the sensation are completely united. Sense your existence, your Presence! Feel what is in you and knows that it exists. 

In the Bible God answers Moses’s question in the following way: ”And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.” Then: Be still, and know that I am God. Recognizing the sensation of "I am" is the road to eternity.

Jump in the Rabbit's Hole!
When you are in the pure, unprogrammed existence, free of thoughts, you sense and know that you exist, in this process the witnessing Consciousness is examining itself and the world through you. In order to be able to say that "I" am, a body is needed. The sense of ”am” dwells in the body, thorugh which the ”am” senses the external sensations. It knows that it exists, because that is what it experiences through the sensory organs. What happens when you submerge deeper in yourself, when you detach yourself from the knowledge of ”I am?” You no longer insist on trying to experience yourself and the world, instead you become curious to know what is behind experience. You plainly allow observation float away from you, and then you penetrate deeper into your own real self: to levels where there is no observing consciousness.

Once you have finally been able to release the watchful observing consciousness of ”I am,” the alert monitoring of yourself and the world, you will find yourself in a state of ”dreamless sleep,” the state of pure Consciousness. Though you are not actually sleeping, the attention turned towards yourself and the world is missing, and so are the contents generated in the space of the attention–similarly to the state of deep sleep. You are overcome by an intagible, peaceful and positive tranquility. An impersonal emptiness, in which there is only pure, absolute existence and nothing apart from it.

If a thought, or an emotion based upon a thought emerges, you realize it and let it slip away–you do not get involved in it, but you remain in yourself, in a state in which you do not pursue any urge to sense and observe things. If any stimulus is received from the sensory organs, you take notice of it, the watchful Consciousness returns for that brief moment, and between the sensations the quiet of emptiness prevails.

This quiet is, however, not the same as the ”silence” experienced at the level of ordinary consciousness: this is not the dead and deaf silence; it is something much deeper than that. It is a no-thingness, a space, which simply exists, peacefully and incomprehensibly, in a fine state similar to ”heaven.”

There is only that peaceful emptiness, no objects around, and Oriental religions and western mysticists identify it with an impersonal God: infinite, eternal, peaceful, quiet existence beyond space and time. Only it exists, and nothing else–everything that comes into being comes into being within it. As it opens up its senses to its material ”self” and the external world, its own image and the emotional imprint of the world will emerge within it, too. Similarly to the emerging, transforming and vanishing clouds against the pure emptiness of the sky.

As soon as it withdraws its senses from its own material existence and the world, it will submerge into itself: into the origimal, pure emptiness, with no contents at all. A perfect English expression for that is "no-thing-ness." Some spiritual movements call it the ultimate enlightenment–when the existence returns to its own pure Source.

Ultimately, this is what you are, a ”Self,” beyond body, thoughts and emotions, free of forms and shapes. This is a peaceful, quiet presence, existence that becomes conscious as soon as any content, form or sensation emerges inside it.

.. and then Back to the Ordinary Consciousness!

Something strange takes place until you reach that recognition and return to the ordionary consciousness. You have recognized, that your real ”Self” is an emptiness free of forms and shapes, a nothingness, the parent of everything and, when you return to the state of the observing Witness and continue to sense the world around you, and you will see that something has drastically changed in you. As you have awakened to your Consciousness, you feel an all-enveloping love in yourself.   

It is different from the ”love” experienced in ordinary consciousness, as there is no passion of fluctuating intensity in it; you embrace all forms and shapes to you in this universal love–you love them because they are there. Ultimately, the creator, sustainer and essence of all shapes and forms is the same, One and Only, indivisible "something."


(Excerpt from the book "The Miracle of Consciousness")

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The Author: Ervin K. Kery achieved mindfulness -the pure state of consciousness- after a sudden crash of the ego. Since then he is an enthusiast consciousness researcher, a mindfulness coach, spiritual writer and publisher. More about the author here..Check out the books published by the author here..You can subscribe to our free newsletter and updates here: