Probably the ultimate question. I was intrigued this morning, to have an example directly out of the wisdom knowledge of the ancients (of India) displayed before me this morning.
In the Ribhu Gita (the Song of the Sage Ribhu), Skanda, the son of Siva describes this very thing, who, or what is this "I" that we refer to: "I am coming", "I am going", "you are____", "I am ____" etc...
One of the examples he gives of how to determine the nature of the I is described by telling us to ask ourselves "The I that I (yea, I know redundant) refer to when we point to ourselves and say "me" or "I", what is this? Is it in truth the body or "in" the body? If so what does this body consist of?" When you sleep, and dream the I is still present, in fact, it is independent of the physical body. So much so that the content of our dreams is generated and maintained by this sense of I. But what of the body then, when we sleep, where "is" the body? Is the body simply another product of our "dreams" as is the body we seem to inhabit when we sleep and dream?
What of the body, and what of the I that dreams when we are in deep dreamless sleep? Can we then say, I am the body, or even I am this thing, this "I" that we refer to? Furthermore, when we awaken from our dreams and our deep sleep: "Where was I the dreamer? Where am I now, the "awake person?"
|His Majesty Boris!|
I had the most (personally) profound example of this very phenomenon this morning. As I lay in bed, I dreamed of one of my dogs Boris, a beautiful and sweet Rat Terrier. For some reason I dreamed I was at Mardi Gras (go figure) and I was in my car, and realized in a panic that I had "tied Boris up somewhere and couldn't remember where." I could feel my heart sink, I could feel dread in the pit of my stomach...and then, all of the sudden light from the rising sun peaked through my eyelids and in that same instant I woke up from the dream. Low and behold, my sweet terrier was under the covers, curled up and pressed against me wagging his tail.
In this very instant, I understood what Skanda and Ribhu spoke of. Even so, as the joy of my little dog thwapping his tail under the covers (I imagine somehow, he knew I thought I'd lost him) my sense of self, or little self vanished for the moment. Was I the body, was I the dreamer, or the dream? I intuited, "felt/remembered" the deep sleep state, where there was not even Just Joe, no Justa Guy. If the small sense of I can be so transient, changeable and diminished through sleep and wakefulness, just how real is it anyhow? For me this was not some abstract intellectual excersize, rather the knowing of it was so stark, so wordless, breathtaking and profound. For those few moments, experiencing a freedom that was seemingly lost.
Could it be the I, the true I am that in which both waking, dreaming and sleeping arise? The sense of small I that we give all importance to, for me, is no more than a wave cresting on top of the Ocean, at once a wall of water, and again resolved into the Sea. I think I am the wave, but I am really the Sea.
Even as I sit here and write this blog entry, I know that I do this knowledge tremendous injustice. The One who realizes these things, does not think them, cannot remember itself, for it alone Is. Those of us that practice one form or another of deep meditation began to "experience" this regularly. The very moment we have some profound deeping and we "realize" or "remember" it, it is gone, false, now a product of our intellect, a thing. But a thing is no different than I dream.
This begs the question, are we always dreaming? Are we always creating or moulding our reality according to our thoughts, emotions and desires? It seems that this is so.