Updated: Nov 25, 2020
There is something within me that can see. This fact alone makes everything possible. Seeing is my window into understanding myself and the world. Without seeing, I could not say that I even know that “I AM”.
In order to know myself, I must see my life. That is very different from believing in my life. I see what I observe, and what I have observed is what has actually occurred. In the direct experience of my life there is nothing at all that I must believe. I know my life from my experience. I am the observer and the observed. They exist together in real time. This is not a fantasy nor a delusion. It is how I know and remember myself, always, and everywhere.
However, the past is all that I remember that I have seen or heard. It is the source of all my beliefs. My life is filled with beliefs. They are about myself, about others, and actually about everything. I can see that this is true when real self-observation occurs. The basic question of that introspection is who am I? I ask myself, who is the one that sees all of this? And who is the one who remembers it? My identity has my name and my personal history, and yet, this state of being that sees my life objectively, to observe it impartially, has none of that. It has no past cause that can be found. The observing presence of "I AM" is simply self-evident! Like seeing my face in a mirror, it is familiar to me and has the taste of its own recognition. I always know when it happens that "I AM" is present. And, it is rare. It’s this presence of “I AM” that actually is my essence, and it makes no claim on my everyday-ordinary life. It simply is, and yet it cannot exist without my body also being present. One is concealed and the other thinks it is the whole of me. However, the presence that I call “I AM” does not cause me to act. Neither does it condition the circumstances of my life. "I AM" has no self-concept. It has no meaning-making process because it exists at a deeper level of being that supports the mind. "I AM" exists without meaning because the concepts of the mind are all learned and remembered from the past. It is the mind alone that remembers everything. Instead, The presence "I AM" is simply awakenedness. In the present moment, it sees ‘me’ as I occur, a happening, with nothing added. In this way, the distinction between “I AM” and “me” becomes apparent.
My ordinary life is seen in this way. This “I AM” presence that sees me is immune to the conditioning that occurs in my body and identity. The conditioning is a natural and necessary process. The me, that I am, is a collection of habits. Without them, there would be no “me.” If my mind did not manufacture meaning, and my body create habits, then my ability to interact with the world would be very different. My habit will always guide me, making automatic decisions and taking actions. My survival would be a definite problem if my mind's making-meaning” processes and my body's habits did not occur. Nature has given us them to enable us to survive, and the presence of "I AM" can only exist in the body of a living being.
This meaning-making process can happen while the experience of awakened presence is occurring within me. Then, the “I AM” presence can observe as both a participant and also observer in the action of observing myself and the world. It is not merely an automatic and mechanical process that happens in me. In the awakened-presence of " I AM", it’s possible to see the mind's making-meaning” processes while they are occurring. That is, to observe the process of meaning-making in self-observation. This is a significant occurrence. When it happens it is the experience of real active thought, and not just the passive and automatic mental associations we shallowly accept as thinking!
I see in this case both the observer and the observed. This is an observer determined, quantum-mechanical phenomenon. Rather than just being thrown passively from the past into the present, I begin to experience an actual inner life. It is this life of the "I AM" Presence that has the experience that includes the past and future happening in the present moment. By self-observation I begin to recognize when the presence of “I AM” occurs for me. The quality of my experience of being present is then vastly different from the passive state of everyday-ordinary life. In that moment, I see that I am not as much asleep, in a kind of waking sleep, as usually am, because I am seeing myself as I actually am in the present moment. In this state of remembering myself, reality occurs with an active attention upon it. The hallmark of this is that I know that “I AM” present, in the moment when it is occurring. Even the architecture of the my mind, in which, as if by design, the past is always present, when seen through this awakened, active and attentive sense of "Being" myself, is the experience of my life actually being observed. Thus I am seen, by a part of me, that is higher than my everyday-ordinary life and identity. What might be called a higher self, or essence that looks down on me and takes what my waking state simply cannot see.
Of course, that’s not the end of the story. In the very next moment, my mind's making-meaning process will manufacture a story about the "I AM" presence. In this way, the past is further elaborated in my mind with a narrative about what I just noticed. A new belief may even be formed based on what it has learned. In my story I might even begin to say that I am “conscious-being”, or enlightened. But this is an obvious lie! A description of a thing is not the thing it’s self. It’s a story about it! A fiction! As soon as this story takes over, the self-observing stops, and the telling of the narrative begins. There is no “self-remembering” in the story telling. Once again, my mind is revealed as a biological machine experiencing my life passively and manufacturing meaning.
The magic of "I AM" presence happens in the seeing of it. It is the contact of consciousness in which an observer is observing that discloses the facts that are hidden behind the story. That my life is actually only a story I tell myself about my life, and that on occasion I remember myself and observe myself in the act of seeing me doing what do. This doing, is my state of being. The story of course is a real story. It will have its own existence as well! This is unavoidable for a human being with a human mind. The question I ask myself, is if I can begin to experience my two natures? The first of these two natures is the biological life of my organism that lawfully executes its conditioning from the past. It is a machine-like and automatic organism, and it takes my life passively and strictly as a biological machine It is the me, that I recognize as my ordinary-everyday identity. The subjective and very personal me that I am, with all my quirks and habits. The second nature, is the life of that unique presence of "I AM" within me that is sometimes, maybe rarely, actually present and fully interested in its experience of the present moment? This "I AM" presence is my real essence, the actual experience of “I AM.” The observer who observes my life. The representative of the Absolute within me.
For my own sake, can this “I AM” presence and the everyday-ordinary “me” exist together at the same time in my life, and in my awareness? Can the life of my body and this awakened state that sometimes exists, co-habituate together. Perhaps if I can find the way to work most effectively on myself, it will be possible to somehow begin to observe more often. I could then perhaps see if this is possible. Only then, by seeing, I can know and maybe remember it more often. Perhaps there is a way, maybe even today, if only for just a moment, for this to occur. If only for just one moment alone. That would be something.
© Copyright 2006 Robert Fertman, All Rights Reserved