Nature of ‘I' – Presence called Brahman (97)


Lesson 97 goes into inquiry to discover nature of “I”. Presence called Brahman.


  • Arjuna asks “What will give final fulfillment?”
  • Black-White vs Arjuna Thinking:
    • Black-white: If X happens, good. If Y happens, not good.
    • Arjuna: Whether X-Y happens, I won’t be fulfilled.
  • Krishna’s Answer To Arjuna:
    • To have fulfillment, must have paradigm shift. 4 Areas need reassessment for paradigm shift:
      • 1) Is my psychology holding me back?
      • 2) Need to re-define who you are.
      • 3) What is nature of universe.
      • 4) Within this universe, what is my role?
      • If don't reassess, will interpret life according to biases, which is the very cause of unfulfillment.


  • First Krishna teaches (#2 per above area), Who are you?
    • We all come with a special relationship with body. If don't take time to investigate the relationship, then will mistake “I AM” with body-mind-senses.
      • Upanishads say, to destroy smallness caused by the association with the small/limited body-mind… need to redefine your relationship with the body-mind.
    • Why do we make mistake “I am body-mind”?
      • Because we DO have a connection with it.  If didn't have that connection, wouldn't feel “small”.
    • Mind is not given to stop it but to solve sense of limitation.
      • What does “limitation” mean?
        • BODY: Ages. Can't stop it.
        • MIND: No mind can know everything about everything. We only shine in one capacity. And no matter how much capacity we develop, it's a fraction of Īśvara's infinite capacity. Also, it's not your capacity, since it’s taken away at time of death.
    • Inquiry is (1) am I related to body OR  (2) am I the body?
    • Body is only an instrument. Your job to take care of it.
    • Problem starts when “I” habitually take myself as various body attributes (I am getting older, I am in pain). This habitual superimposition creates unnecessary extra pain.
    • Therefore we need to understand the RIGHT relationship with this body.
      • EG:
        • Are you the cell? Else you would come and go.
        • We know one cell is not “I”. So then how can you add non-I cells to suddenly come to one “I AM”.
        • If you were body, then you wouldn't know about yesterday's body condition.
    • OBJECTION: So what if I am NOT the body!
      • I am body = I become mortal = I become small = becomes “my self image” = psychological loads.
      • Eating disorders = “I” have to look like THIS. Mind creates image of “I”.
    • What is my relationship with the mind? To answer, must first investigate, “What does mind constitute?
      1. Memory:
        • Unconscious: 2 types:
          1. Conditioning acquired during THIS lifetime. Childhood impressions.
            • When situation comes, unconscious thought pattern (developed through time) gives picture what's going on.
            • We're convinced “THIS” (unconscious picture) is true. This causes projection ONTO the world. Projection is what causes a NARRATIVE and what psychologist tries to correct. Result of psychological treatment?
              • Responses change.
              • There is a time lag once change has taken place.
          2. Past life. Samskaras.
            • EG: Twins inclined towards different interests. Inhered inclination.
            • It is not associated to this life, nor parents genetics.
            • Samskaras are stored in Causal body.
              • Meaning, the body containing various causes which gives us this unique body-mind.
        • Unconscious VS Subconscious:
          • Unconscious: Govern how interpret situations.
          • Subconscious: Auto-pilot / spontaneous actions as result of practice.
      2. Cognitive capacity:
        • It's what distinguishes us from other beings. Can calculate. CPU.
      3. Emoting capacity:
        • Ability to distinguish which external event evokes which emotion. EG: At wedding = happy.
      4. Aham kara (I sense):
        • What is aham kara?
          • Function of the mind which is able to relate everything that’s happened in connection to ONE body-mind, to sense of “I”.
            • See: Jill Taylor: My stroke of insight, TED Talk.
          • Self-image developed through I-sense.
        • What is it's function?
          • Gives sense of continuity of events, even though everything is in flux.
          • Stability of who I am as an individual with a life story.
          • Whatever transient thought happens, aham kāra links it to I-sense (AKA: My life).
          • Emotions, memory, cognitive capacity gets connected to I-sense.
          • It also connects “I” to body-conditions.
            • Reason we don't say “My hearing is being lost”. But “I am going deaf”.


  • Limited body-mind-senses becomes “I”. Thus “I” becomes limited.
    • This is the mistake Upanishads attempt to correct.
      • Through their knowledge, the mind comes to know it's own truth.
  • Why are you not “silence”? Also comes and goes.
    • EG: Thought-silence-thought-silence. Silence is a state of mind.
  • Up to now: We've done neti neti (if don't apply, then will continue superimposing body-mind characteristics).
    • Next we must be shown WHAT we are.
    • ORDER:
      • First negate who I am not.
      • Show who I am.


  • To show who I am, let's ask the original question: What is my relationship with the mind? Am I the 4 functions of the mind, OR distinct from the 4 functions?
  • I am other then the 4 functions. Explanation:
    • Thoughts come and go, I am the presence, in whose presence, all experiences are known.
    • Important: It is not the memory, cognition, emotions, or aham kara that knows. But in the ONE Presence, there is knowing.
    • Presence survives all thoughts, which is why all thoughts are known to THIS individual.
    • In other words, something about me has to survive to know the body was in X condition, then in Y condition. That which survives all the modifications of body-mind-senses, is the presence of “I”.

How to see myself distinct from body-mind?

  • Exercise:
    • Think of:
      • elephant
      • horse
      • tree
    • Question:
      • Is elephant still sticking to you? No.
      • You were present in-and-through all thoughts, including the gaps between them.
  • Same with emotions:
    • If sadness stuck to you, then every thought would be “sad”. But reality is: I am sad, I am happy, alert, disappointed, empathetic, perturbed, grateful, etc.
    • Therefore, sense of “I” (ahankara) is in not-stop flux/changing.
    • In other words, there were so many “I” thoughts. So many contradictory emotions. Yet, you (presence) remain perfectly intact, illumining all contradictions.
  • 3 STATES:
    • WAKING:
      • We identify ourselves with thoughts of waking. But if those thoughts were your identity, you'd carry them into your deep sleep.
      • All waking thoughts in disappear in sleep. Hence you can't be those 16h+- waking thoughts.
    • DREAM:
      • Mind creates a world. But when wake up, that world disappears.
    • Inquiry is about being perfectly CLEAR between transient thoughts and the permanent presence.
    • Without clarity we mix the two.
      • EG: I exist today. Tomorrow hasn't come. When tomorrow comes, I will, as though, become tomorrow's thoughts.
    • Therefore for whom is the inquiry for?
      • Not for presence, because presence is present whether there is inquiry or not.
      • Inquiry is for the individual mind which misses the unchanging presence. This is why we don't try to disown the mind.

How many awareness' are there?

  • Another name for the ever available presence is “Awareness”.
  • There is only ONE Awareness. 2 Ways to Demonstrate:
    1. All differences belong to mind-body:
      • Suppose you say my awareness is different from your awareness. Then how do you establish difference logically?
        • My awareness is red.
        • Your awareness is blue.
        • But all distinguishing attributes belong to body-mind.
        • SUMMARY: The only logical way to distinguish one awareness from another is to give different attributes.
    2. Cup space Metaphor:
      • Take cup. Inside it, space thinks “I am only this much space, confined to this cup“. Another cup thinks the same.
      • In reality, there's only one undivided space, in which every object exists.
      • Then why does it seem confined? Because cup makes it SEEM confined.
      • Before the cup was born, was the space there? When cup goes, space remains.
      • Suppose you put coke/water/juice in 3 cups, space doesn’t get displaced.
        • It’s only because of presence of space, that cup can be filled.
  • OBJECTION: So what if I have knowledge of who I am?
      • Presence is not ordinary presence. It's Brahman (limitless presence), which is common to all.
      • EG: Cup-individual only gives appearance of space being confined, but space is not actually confined.
  • Next question: How did objects come into place, in the first place? What is the nature of the universe. Next session…

Revision how we went about this inquiry so far:

  1. Make bold claim who you are. One without a second.
  2. Demonstrate possibility with metaphor. Water-Wave.
  3. Bring water-wave understanding to human-level by dividing one Reality into two aspects: Subject-Object.
  4. Negate the Object in reference to Body-mind-senses.
  5. Explain the subject. Who I am: Presence.


Recorded 13 Oct, 2020



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