Looking For The 'I'When I look for 'I', the main thing is that I don't find it....
Paul: When I look for ‘I’, the main thing is that I don’t find it.
Rupert: We do not find it as an object, that is we do not find a thought, an image, a sensation or a perception.
However, when we say ‘When I look for the ‘I’...’ right there we make reference to the ‘I’ that is present in the looking. This looking ‘I’ may not find anything, but nevertheless it is present in the looking.
Imagine standing in the middle of a room and trying to take a step towards yourself (by ‘yourself’ here, I refer to your body). In which direction would you turn? None! Any step would be a step in the wrong direction.
Now imagine trying to take away from yourself. Where would you go? Wherever you went you would find yourself present there, too close to be known or seen objectively and yet present there at the very centre of wherever you found yourself.
Now, having discovered, as you have, that you are both knowing and present, but have no objective qualities, try, as this Knowing Presence that you intimately know yourself to be, to move towards or away from yourself. Where would you go? Where could you go?
See that this Knowing Presence that you are, is intimately at the centre or heart of every experience. It is too close to be known as an object, but too intimate and immediate not to be known.
It is the knowing of itself.
Paul: I have no idea what I am.
Rupert: Nor do I! But we are certain nevertheless that ‘I am.’ We cannot deny our own presence or being. And the reason that we are able to assert from experience that, whatever I am, I am, is because the experience of our own being is known.
We could not assert ‘I am’ if we did not know ‘I am,’ in other words, if we did not know our own being.
Thus, Knowing and Being are inseparable. They are two sides of the same coin. For this reason I sometimes write ‘Knowingbeing,’ to try to indicate that both are contained in the experience of our self, that both are one in the ‘I.’
Paul: I like what you say about its two main qualities, Knowing and Presence, because that’s the limit of what I can say about it. It exists, and it knows.
Rupert: That is a very good conclusion to have come to. If you now look at the entire realm of apparently objective experience, that is, the mind, body and world, you will find nothing other than the substance of this Knowingbeing that you are.
In other words, if you look inwards, so to speak, you will find yourself as this non-objective Knowingbeing. If you look outwards, so to speak, you will find yourself taking the shape of the totality of experience.
Take any experience of the mind, the body or the world, no matter how apparently close or far it may seem to be, and no matter how ‘me’ or ‘not me’ it may seem to be, and ask yourself, “How far is this experience from experiencing or knowing?
You will find that all experience is at an equal distance from knowing or experiencing and that is no distance at all.
Take for instance the moon, which is just a visual perception and, say, the sensation of your breath and ask yourself, “Is one further away from experiencing or knowing than the other? Is one made more out of experiencing or knowing than the other?’
No! They, and everything else that could ever be imagined or perceived, are all equally, utterly, intimately one with experiencing or knowing.
This absolute intimacy with all appearances of the mind, body and world, is known as Love.
Paul: It seems clear, still, warm, powerful - but ‘seems’ is the operative word.
Rupert: Yes, there is no need to superimpose qualities such as ‘clear, still warm powerful,’ unless we are met with the suggestion that it is dense, moving, cold and feeble. In this case, the ideas ‘clear, still, warm and powerful’ are used to uproot the old belief system that it is ‘dense, moving, cold and feeble.’
Once this has been accomplished, both ideas can be removed and there is no need to conceptualise our experience until the next question or situation demands it.
Paul: You say ‘What can we say about it from experience other than that it is knowing and present?’ (Paul) Nothing really. For instance, I don’t know if thoughts and feelings arise out of it or if they arise out of something else and are perceived by it.
Rupert: If thoughts and feelings arise out of something else, that ‘something else’ must be experienced. What is your experience of this ‘something else’ that thoughts and feelings might arise in.
Is it not your experience right now that your thoughts are arising in You, the Consciousness that knows them?
Paul, quoting Rupert: Whilst this Knowing Presence is undeniably present, we cannot find it as an object when we look for it. In fact we do not even know in which direction to turn in order to see it. Right there in that experience, the belief that Knowing Presence or ‘I’ is an entity, located in or as the body is undermined.
Paul: I can’t say that; it’s too bold a statement for me to make, because I know nothing about it.
Rupert: You do know something about it. I quote you, from above: “I like what you say about its two main qualities, Knowing and Presence, because that’s the limit of what I can say about it. It exists, and it knows.”
Paul: It may be an entity, or it may not.
Rupert: If it were an entity, it would have limits and those limits would have to be experienced by ‘something’ that was both knowing and present.
The mind cannot know or prove that Knowing Presence is unlimited. However, if we explore our experience we can see that there is no experiential evidence of the belief that it is located or limited.
Paul: ...for all I know, it may be a number of things manifesting as knowing presence.
Rupert: If it could be a number of things, each of those things would have a limit. How could something limited and therefore objective manifest as something that is present and knowing and yet non-objective? How could existence and knowingness come out of ‘something,’ when that ‘something’ would, by definition, have to exist and be known to exist.
Paul: Also, it may be located in the body, or it may not.
Rupert: What is your experience right now? Do you find the cluster of sensations that we call the body, in Consciousness or Consciousness in the body?
Something that is both present and knowing but has no experienced objective qualities cannot be found within something which is experienced as an object.
Paul: Every time I experience it, the body is present.
Rupert: No it is not. The body is the current sensation or perception. Sensations and perceptions are often not present, such as when we are lost in thought, having a dream or deeply asleep. And yet we, Consciousness, are present there.
Paul: What’s their relationship? I have no idea.
Rupert: I am not asking you for an idea. What is your experience? How close is the cluster of sensations we call the body to ‘that which knows or experiences it?’ Is the body at a distance from experiencing? Is it made out of anything other than experiencing?
What is their relationship? Their relationship is in identity. In other words, they have no relationship. A relationship is always between two things. But there is only ever one substance present in all and every experience. We could simply call it ‘experiencing.’
Paul: I have no idea if it (Knowing Presence) has limits.
Rupert: Well, you have discovered, in spite of having lived your life thus far based on the belief and the feeling that it was limited, that there is in fact no evidence for this. This leaves us open and unknowing, open, that is, to the possibility that it may be unlimited and unlocated.
Having lived for so many years under the belief that it is limited, and having tasted the utter failure of this belief to provide the peace, happiness and love that we seek, try the other possibility. Just live your life for a day as if it were true. Give this a possibility a chance to show itself to be true, or otherwise, in your moment by moment experience. See what happens.
Peace, happiness and love are the highest prize, because they are what we most deeply want, so that is the direction in which to look for the confirmation of this possibility.
Paul: I’m really unsure about ‘ALWAYS only this unlimited, unlocated Consciousness’ because I notice it only during waking consciousness, not when I’m asleep. It doesn’t seem like ‘always’.
Rupert: Well, you refer to an experience called ‘sleep.’ If sleep is an experience, Consciousness must be there to know it. If it is not an experience, let’s not talk about it.
If it is our experience that Consciousness is not always present, something must be there to claim the experience of its absence. This ‘something’ would have to be both conscious and knowing, in other words…...you guessed….!
Paul: So, at this point, I can’t claim to know what you’re saying based on experience, so perhaps the way to proceed is to keep on keeping on for the
Rupert: Yes, Paul, keep going. The only difference between our two views is that I am staying with childlike simplicity to my direct experience, whilst you are mistaking your concepts and beliefs about experience, for experience itself.
I am not pointing towards anything that cannot be checked out in this very moment. Right here in this very experience is all the experience we need to validate the truth, or otherwise, of what is being said. I do not have anything that you do not have.
Paul: quoting Rupert “.... self enquiry is simply to abide knowingly in and as our own being..” This sounds like meditation at its best.
Rupert: Yes, exactly. Meditation is simply to be. It is what we are, not what we do.
Paul: Meditating with others is different from meditating on one’s own. With others, Presence is often more present, if that’s possible. I’ll ask the common question: you talk about how the group, with the teacher, investigated the ‘more hidden layers of the separate self sense in the body’. This kind of group work facilitates the deeper investigation, but is it necessary for all investigators all the time?
Rupert: It is not necessary for anyone at any time. It is simply available for those who hear the invitation and whose hearts say ‘Yes.’