My Own Self-Inquiry

After a great deal of self-inquiry, reflection, and meditation, I’ve realized the Self.  For the first time ever, I feel satisfied with my own thoughts and beliefs as to what I am and it’s brought incredible peace.  I owe it all to Ramana Maharshi.  I had searched for this using physics, philosophy, religion, neuroscience, psychology, and many other disciplines, but everything I was getting only confused me more.  But Maharshi’s method of Self-Inquiry led me to a direct experience of the unmanifest ‘I AM’ within myself at the root of everything I experience, the source.

This life has felt like a giant mind-game, filled with confusion, and all of this confusion ultimately is rooted in wrong identification with things I am not.

Take wrongful identification with the body.  Before I really sat and reflected on all of this, I used to believe I was the originator of my actions.  I chose to stand up, I chose to sit down, I chose to say the words coming out of my mouth, and so on.  But then when I studied physics, I really began to wonder.  I would lift my arm, or squeeze my hand into a fist, or stand up using my legs, and it felt as if “I” was responsible, but who was this “I”?  It didn’t reside in my “normal” conscious mind.  Think of all the electrical pulses throughout all the nerves required to contract the muscles, the flow of ions down all the nerve channels, and all the rest of it.  Did I set all of that into motion?  No, the conscious “I” in my head most certainly did not.  It would speak as if it did, saying, “Oh, ‘I’ did that!”, but wait a minute!  It doesn’t even know how all the biology works, much less did it direct each and every atom and electron to perform that movement.  There’s no way this ‘I’ in my conscious attention did that.  So who or what did?  And why does it feel as if “I” was responsible for the movement, even though the entirety of my conscious attention and mind were clearly inadequate for such a task?  It was a true mystery for me for a long time.

Really sit down and think about this problem.  You’re going to lift your right arm and wave hello to your friend across the room.  Think about everything that needed to happen.  According to physics, every Planck time there is a new “frame” of reality.  Every 5*10^(-44) seconds a new frame needs to be generated, containing all the new positions of every atomic nucleus, every electron, all the photons creating the electric and magnetic fields, the exact curvatures of space-time due to energy and mass, and all the rest of it.   Think of all the frames required to move your arm!  It’s a number so large we don’t even have words for it, and within each frame you’re going to have to give positions and velocities to all the particles, which are also so numerous we don’t have words for it either.  Who did all that?  Yet, we do it effortlessly.  But how?  And why do we feel as if we are doing it?

If that’s not complicated enough, let’s talk about this idea of “choosing” to lift your arm.  Within your consciousness, can you recall any moment when a a giant catalog was presented to you, containing all the different arm motions and gestures available in the vast infinite of what’s possible?  Did you browse through it, and then pick and choose the flow of movements, one Planck time to the next?  That’s what free will as respect to bodily movements would entail.  I can only speak for me, but my consciousness was never presented with this catalog.  However, according to quantum physics, such a catalog of infinite possibilities does indeed exist and something is choosing these events to take place.  Something, but what?  And why in the world do “I” feel responsible for it?

The same could be said for internal states of consciousness, such as thought and emotion.  At any point you can remember, were you ever presented with a catalog of thought processes and emotional states which you arbitrarily could assign to each and every moment?  I never did.  Both thoughts and emotions come and go on their own.  So why do we feel they’re “our” thoughts and “our” emotions?

So here’s the million dollar question.  Why are we associating with what these physical bodies are doing, what they’re thinking about, or the various emotional states we humans experience?  Why say “this is me” when you’re not choosing or in control of any of it?  Why is there this feeling that somehow you’re doing all this, yet whenever you sit and reflect on it all, there doesn’t seem to be any way that that is the case?

Brace yourselves, this is going to be a deep revelation!  The answer is that the real you IS doing it all, but the real you is NOT the body, is NOT the thoughts bouncing around in your head, and is NOT your emotions.  The real you is something unmanifest, formless, shapeless, yet within this real Self is your body, and all other possible bodies, your thoughts and all possible thoughts, and your emotions along with all possible emotions.  This reality of me being “Jason” and you being Joe Smith is a projection from this real Self, which we all share, the eternal, unchanging, I AM.  You can call this God, the Source, the Alpha and Omega, whatever.  We are all aspects of that, which is the only thing that’s real.  We’re all characters in the mind of God, all being played by God.  It’s like when Carl Sagan said we are the universe looking back at itself.  But the universe isn’t a machine!  It’s all God, and God places veils on His own consciousness, creates characters, and looks back at Himself through all these vantage points and characters.  There are all these infinite stages and infinite dramas unfolding!

That’s why you feel that you’re lifting your arm.  You’re God!  You chose the experience.  You created the character and now you’re experiencing it.  But you needed to hide this fact in order for it to be truly immersive, so you placed a veil over your fullness, and you’re temporarily experiencing this character, which has this finite illusory mind.  But the character has no power.  So the character reflects on what’s happening and it’s like, I don’t make the waves, I don’t make the sun shine, I don’t make my body move, I don’t control my thoughts, etc.  BUT, who is this “I” speaking within the character’s mind?  That’s the false “I”, thoughts which themselves were written into the screenplay.  This is the very false “I” a neuroscientist will tell you about.  Of course it’s not real, of course it doesn’t really make the body move, etc.  Yet that’s not to say there isn’t a real “I” within!  The problem is when this real “I”, existing within each and every one of us, is wrongly associated with things that it is not!  That’s when life goes from a movie to enjoy, to all kinds of fear and misery.

This real “I” is not the body and it is not the mind, yet these things are projecting out of it.  You are projector with all the possible film reels and also the screen which this life movie is being projected on, but you are NOT ultimately the characters or the settings within the movie. I’m not Jason, and you’re not Bob, or Steve, or Sarah.  You’re the I AM which is WATCHING the movie that YOU WROTE!   Claiming you are your body or mind is like claiming the author of a novel is his characters and those characters thoughts/feelings.  Not quite.  They came out of the author, but they’re not the same.  This wrongful identification is the most significant cause of our suffering in this life.

So yes, you did choose to lift your arm.  Jason didn’t do it, as he’s just a character, but the real me, which is right there experiencing the character first hand, this real I did.  That’s why I experience that subjective ownership. I did choose to have that emotional experience at that time.  I did choose these thoughts.  But, and this is a big but, I did so when I was writing this movie!  As for right now, I am in a state of highly focused attention, very closely “zoomed in” on this character I created, just watching a very immersive virtual reality movie.

You may say, bah, how do you know this to be true?  I’ll tell you — by DIRECT EXPERIENCE.  Anyone can experience it.  For example, if you’ll do Maharshi’s method of Self-Enquiry, you will find the unchanging, eternal I AM right within your direct experience.  Every time you hear your mind say, “I did this…” or “I am hungry”, or “I want to go outside…”, just then ask yourself, “Who is the ‘I’ who is hungry?  Who is the ‘I’ who wants to go outside”, and trace it back.  You’ll eventually end up at this eternal, unchanging ‘I AM’ which will be with you always.  At every moment of your life’s movie.

People will say, “You cannot know if God exists.”  No no no.  It’s the only thing you can actually know exists!  Everything else you’ll always be unsure about.  But the fact of this I AM, directly within your consciousness cannot be denied.  God’s right there.  It’s you!

As for direct perception that all of this is a movie, that’s more challenging, but it is possible to hop out of the movie.  How?  There are various means, but a primary one is through meditation.  The movie plays by you focusing your attention on the characters and settings which appear outside of you.  What you have to do is learn how to pull the searchlights of the senses back inward, and then focus back on the I AM.  The movie stops playing and you perceive this infinite self!   With enough focus of attention back inward, you return to your real self, the Infinite!

What’s most interesting about all of this is that it can all be directly experienced, both your real Self identity, and with enough meditating and focus, you can even hop out of the movie entirely.

People Can Suffer Anything

The sort of science and engineering I help teach at the university has led to a world with great material comfort. The average person today lives a more comfortable life than royalty did in ages past. I’m definitely all for this, but I’m slowly realizing that if we don’t work on a sort of inner engineering, none of us will be able to enjoy the material benefits. From what I see, every life situation becomes a problem if person has not tamed their mind. If a person is poor, they suffer that. If they’re rich, they worry about all they have to lose. If they’re not educated, they suffer a lack of opportunity. If a person has a chance at a good education, the majority of students do not want to be there. If they lack a job, they suffer unemployment. Give them a job, they don’t want to go in. If they’re not married, they suffer being alone. If married, they murmur about their spouse. If they don’t have children, they’re unhappy. You give them children and they’re unhappy with the sleepless nights and all the work involved. I could go on, but I won’t. Will greater material benefits fix these problems? I can’t see flat-screen televisions, faster computers, or new iPhones fixing any of this. We’re our own problem. The mind is like a super-computer with too many knobs, buttons, and features, and people struggle to pilot the mind. They can’t properly control its energies.

A lot of it comes down to garbage in, garbage out. If you eat bad food, you get diarrhea. Similarly, if you focus the mind’s attention on garbage, you get mental diarrhea. You have to change your mental diet.

As a physicist, I like to look for the most fundamental rules behind anything I observe. When it comes to a mind that has turned on itself, the most fundamental principle is identification with things you are not. As Sadhguru points out in this video, “The mind should not be telling its own stories all of the time.” If you understand and master this principle, the mind will sit still, waiting for you to tell it what to do. It can be a real battle, but if you don’t take the time to learn this, the mind will be a constant nuisance. It won’t matter how blessed your life is, you won’t enjoy it. You’ll always find something that’s not how it should be.  However, when I rid myself of these mental stories, these projections onto the world around me, life has become a quite pleasant experience.

Chalkboard Musings

The other day I entered my classroom and saw the word ‘Anarchy’ written in large letters for all to see on the chalkboard. I silently crossed it out and wrote ‘Love, Peace, and Order’ underneath it. Some may crave anarchy, but I crave peace, continually striving for an inner silence which comes from deep within. That to me is freedom, not chaos. As someone sows, they will also reap and chaotic behavior soon reaps a whirlwind of negative repercussions; before long all one’s time and energy is spent trying to put out self-inflicted fires instead of moving in a worthwhile direction. This is especially true of one’s own mind. Chaotic thinking destroys one’s potential to accomplish anything of value. The world outside of us flows from what’s first within us, and our outer world is a mirror of our own thoughts, beliefs, and actions reflected back at us. As a person thinks, so they are, and the world around us is a collective product of how everyone thinks.  A lot of the problems we experience in life are simply reflections of our own inner chaos being cast back at us;  sadly, we lack self-awareness and don’t see this happening.

I want to talk a little bit about this mirror. It’s all similar to a Rorschach test, where a person is shown random inkblot splatters and are then asked by a psychologist what they see on the page. The images in and of themselves are nonsense, but if you give someone enough time, and keep flashing these inkblot images to them, their inner world will be projected onto those images, and then this inner dialog starts coming out of them.  Their joys, their fears, things they hate, people they’re mad at, things they desire, the list goes on.  This is exactly what we do each and every day with just about everything.

Life is like a giant Rorschach test.  When you wake up tomorrow morning, just stand in front of the bathroom mirror and stare at yourself for a moment.  Observe what happens within you.  Step outside your home and look at the neighborhood.  What happens inside of you?  Go to your job and for a brief moment, take a look at your coworkers, your desk, and your office breakroom.  What sort of thoughts happen within you?  For most people, some inner dialog starts.  What is it saying?  What is what you’re hearing telling you about yourself?  Even more importantly, where are these voices coming from?  Do you identify with them?  Do you have to identify with them?  Should you identify with them?  If a lot of what you’re hearing is negative and causing you to suffer, are the things these voices saying true?  Based on what?  Challenge them. Place your own thoughts and mind on a witness stand, like you’re in court.  Prosecute them.  Who are you?  Where do you come from?  You say these nasty things about me and others, but what proof do you have?  Why should I believe you?

I’ll give you all an example.  The other day I finished teaching and walked home from work.  As I was leaving the physics building, a thought entered my mind, “I don’t want to walk home.”  I then put it on the witness stand.  Who is this “I” who doesn’t want to walk home?  How do you know “I” do not want to walk home and would rather drive home?  It was silent.  Just as I thought.  I’m self-aware enough to realize these stupid mind-games my own brain likes to put me through. I then proceeded to walk home, the weather was nice outside, I enjoyed the breeze as it was cool out, and within 15~20 minutes I was home.  The walk was nice.  I didn’t suffer at all throughout the entire experience.  So who was this “I” who didn’t want to walk home?  It wasn’t me because I actually enjoyed the walk.  This thought had no idea what it was talking about, but I could’ve believed it and amplified its negativity in my mind, letting it brew the entire walk home, complaining within, and let it ruin my entire mood.  But why?  There was nothing waiting for me in the world that had suffering on its agenda, but crazy forces within me sure had plans to make me miserable.   They didn’t win that day.

I can give all kinds of other examples.  Oftentimes I’ll wake up in the morning and my mind will spew out, “I don’t want to go to work this morning.”  I put it on the same witness stand.  This thought sits defiantly in the booth, with its arms crossed, exclaiming, “I don’t want to go in today.”  What continues to baffle me is that this thought has the audacity to claim that it is me and that I feel this way!  Who’s it kidding?  I tell it to take its place and have a seat.  It doesn’t tell me who I am and who I am not, what I will and will not like, what to look forward to or what to dread.  It’s been wrong too many times to give it that kind of confidence.  The ONLY thing it has a right to do is propose certain ideas, and that’s it.  Propose.  Theorize.  Speculate.  And if I look into something it proposes and it’s flat wrong, I don’t pay those trains of thought any mind any longer.  When they arise I disavow them, let them pass, and do not give them my attention.  It can say “I” this, and “I” that all it wants, but it has nothing to do with me.

But anyway, this thought seemed to be telling me, in supposed advance foreknowledge, that I will dislike my day at work and that I shouldn’t go in.  A day at work is not worth experiencing.  For the first few days when I went into work at the university, I told this thought, “We’ll see.”  I gave it the benefit of the doubt, but then I actually observed my days at work without any emotional “coloring” from these inner random thoughts and the results were interesting.  I let the day itself make impressions on my emotions naturally, without interference from these made-up inner mental projections and I found that I do not hate going to work.  I do not mind teaching.  Many times when I’m joking around with students and I see them learning, I actually find it rewarding.   While at work, my own inner world goes from indifference, to bursts of a rewarding feeling, to a mild peaceful joy, and then oftentimes back to indifference, that is, if I’m not caught up in these inner mental projections.  So who was it that didn’t want to go to work?  Not me.  When I look at the evidence, the real me is indifferent to work at times, and enjoys it at other times.

Do you see how life is just like a Rorschach test?  Those inkblots do not contain any of the projections of the person looking into them.  In the same way, your life probably doesn’t contain half of the things you’re projecting into it either.

Speaking of which, I find that 95% of what goes through my head is nonsense if I actually call it out and make it prove itself.   I don’t hate going into work, I don’t mind walking home on certain days, and the list goes on.  For example, after going through same process in other thought areas, I soon realized that I don’t need or even desire half of the things the mind goes, claiming they’re the only tickets to happiness and a good life.  It goes on about career goals, relationship stuff, projections of what it thinks coworkers, students, faculty members, and others think of me, weird insecurities, things I should be angry about, things that would make me happy, things I desperately need to avoid, and so on, and at the end of the day, it’s just a giant onslaught of nonsense.  Almost all of it is garbage that isn’t worth paying attention to and these days I don’t.  I view it like a some sort of confused parrot hopping on my shoulder, saying things it doesn’t even grasp or understand, screaming it into my ear.  I playfully return its gaze and think, “Oh, you again?  You’ve been wrong 99 times out of 100.  Oh, you don’t say? Another one of your wild conjectures.  I wonder why it is I don’t believe you anymore?”

In the past, one of biggest forms of my own suffering was who I believed I was.  I used to have worries that I was a little human, trapped in a giant universe that doesn’t care about me at all.  I’m here today, gone tomorrow, and it’s all pointless as I’m just going to die and leave everything I work for behind.  However, I don’t feel that way today.  I kept looking into everything, and as I’m often told, if you seek, you will find.  I wanted to know who and what I am, and I kept digging.  What did I find?  No matter where I looked, I saw a world beyond time, and I kept seeing glimpses of infinity, infinity, infinity, over and over and over.  I studied Einstein’s general relativity and I saw universes springing into existence, big bang after big bang, like bubbles in a champagne bottle, bursting into existence from literally nothing, forever and ever (study eternal inflation).  I’m just in awe, so I try to look into things more close to Earth.  How about the dirt that I’m made out of?  I look into the nature of the physical matter and I see infinity once again, some sort of infinite branching of possibilities (Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics), or these probability clouds of infinite possibilities somehow collapsing and unfolding according to some source beyond anything I can grasp (Bohr interpretation), or maybe according to Bohm there is some sort of unfolding within the infinite mind of God giving rise to me.  Either way, infinity, infinity, infinity.  What a complete mystery!  I examine my brain and wonder about consciousness and why I experience what I do, and I have no answers.  I don’t know what I’m made out of, I don’t know what I am, I don’t know where I am, and I don’t know where all of this is going.  The more deeply I look into anything, I realize I know absolutely nothing, and if “I” should identify with anything, it’s this ignorance.  Even still, I try understand.  Maybe it’s futile.

But what tools am I going to use to understand all of this?  Thought?  Logic?  Where do “my” thoughts come from?  When I think a thought was there this giant catalog of all thoughts to choose from, and “I” browsed through them before each moment, and from this infinity of possibilities sit down and chose the thoughts I’m having?  No.  “I” was never presented this catalog nor can I recall a sensation of choosing any of these thoughts.  So do I even control what I think?  Maybe, at least I feel I can believe in or reject thoughts, such as when I thought, “I do not want to go to work”, but that’s not the same thing.  So who or what is the true “I” controlling all of this?  It seems to happen, just like everything else.  So who wrote this “script” of thought and action I’m experiencing?  “I” am at a loss.  I lack such self-awareness.  Whatever causes it all to go also causes me to go, that’s all I’m comfortable saying.

If you think “you” are doing it all, please tell me how you lift your arm?  Can you tell me what even a single atom in your arm is?  Can you describe it in its fullness?  I’m a physicist and I can tell you we have no idea what an atom is.  How are you moving countless numbers of them when you move your arm around?  Yet “you” can!  But who is this “you” doing it?  And how come?  And stranger still, this illusory mind we all have likes to take the credit, saying “I” lifted “my” arm.  It’s just another false mental projection.  The mind really has no idea what’s going on.  It sees some complicated happening, just like the ink blots, and it’s like, “Oh, ‘I’ know what’s going on!”  Right, sure you do!  “I” lifted my arm.  Uh huh. I can barely describe electrical currents to my students and yet this thought in my brain likes to say that “I” created bazillions of neural firings in my brain and arm, and conducted this energy down my arm, and contracted the muscles, and all the rest of it.  How?  I don’t even fully understand how it all works, even on a conceptual level.  I don’t know how the brain does what it does, I don’t understand how it’s all wired up, and I barely understand the biology of muscle tissue and how muscles even contract, much less how all the ion channels give rise to neural conduction and all the rest of it.  Yeah, “I” did that.  Give me a break.  That’s impossible.  What an incredible illusion believing that “I” am in control of anything.

So what is this “I”?  The brain seems to generate thoughts, and most of what it is says is stupid nonsense.  Most of what it has to say isn’t much better than radio static.  Some of the stupidest thoughts we have are those which try to tell us who and what we are, and those which attempt to interpret what is happening in this infinite unfoldment we call reality.  Not all the brain’s thoughts are nonsense, but be wary if you ask it anything deep or complicated.  Maybe I’m too hard on the human brain?

Whatever the universe is, I’m the same thing, I think, but maybe not?  Who knows.  But if so, does this make me a machine and my identity unreal?  That would be true IF this universe was a giant machine, just mechanically flowing deterministically one moment to the next, but is it?  I used to believe that to be the case, and maybe you believe it is that way as well, but from all I’ve studied I see no evidence that that’s how things work.  Quantum theory is our most fundamental description of the universe, and it doesn’t describe anything like that.  Also, how come I feel this subjective feeling of being “me”?  Oh, that’s the brain doing all that?  Ok.  Why would electricity flowing in the jelly of my brain give rise to that?  And like I pointed out, we don’t know what matter is, so how can you tell me what this brain even is?  I don’t know.  Consciousness is a complete mystery to science.  How come electrical currents in the brain give rise to me feeling sensations of hearing music, seeing colors on a television screen, or the sweetness of chocolate cake?  I don’t know.  I think I’m a lot more than “I” think I am.  My true identity is beyond my frail human brain’s comprehension.  But as I said earlier, I am more prone to identify with complete ignorance these days than to claim to know anything.  My mind is finite and anything finite trying to wrap itself around something that’s infinite isn’t going to fare well.

Even all my worries about who and what I am, and my ultimate destiny, those fears were just Rorschach projections of a human mind, reflecting on the tiny handful of events that happened to its body.  Strangely, I live far more mindlessly than ever before, thinking less and less, and I’ve never been happier.  I just have reserved my thinking power for issues that are more interesting and worth investing time into.  If I have some goal to work on, I apply my mind toward that, but as for all these worthless mental projections, nah.  I’m done with all that.

Does The Mind Survive Death?

For years I’ve wondered if there is any hard evidence of the mind surviving bodily death.  Is there any convincing proof to demonstrate this?  Doing some research over the past month or so, I think I’ve found evidence of this kind.  This is going to get a bit strange.

Imagine you’re newly married and you look into your wife’s loving eyes and you both decide to have a child.  Two or three years later, you have a little toddler running around your home just barely able to speak.  However, something strange starts to take place.  The toddler starts telling you that you’re not his real father and your wife is not his real mother.  This young boy claims he’s from another family, that he has a wife and children,  and that he has some skilled occupation, at least before he died.  He tells you his former name, exactly how he died, where you can find all these former family members, gives you the names of his father, his mother, his aunts and uncles, his cousins, their children, the relationship dynamics between all these people, where they live, what they do for their occupations, and the whole nine yards.  Naturally you’re getting frustrated and tell the kid to stop with the delusions but the young guy just doubles down.

Then it gets even more creepy.  The child exclaims, “Why won’t you believe me?”  You’re living in Kentucky USA and this child is going on about some distant family in a remote village in India.    Out of nowhere, the kid starts writing down phone numbers and tells you to call these people!  A two and a half year old!   Do you make the call?  Are these numbers real?

You finally decide to try the phone numbers, out of curiosity.  A man from India answers the phone.  You then start asking about these people this young child has been going on about.  “Yes, that is me.  Oh, and that is my wife.”  It’s just as the toddler described, that was his “parents” phone number after all.  It wasn’t a delusion, this is all getting real.  Then without you asking, the man starts telling you about his son, and describes that he had a son who died in the exact manner your toddler also described.  Whoa!

Then you decide to get even braver.  You take this toddler on a sort of vacation, hop on an airplane, and fly to this Indian village.  As you get near there, the toddler starts navigating you around the city, telling you where to go.  “Oh, my brother lives there.”  “This is where my aunt used to live.”  “This is where we used to swim as kids.”  Then you go up to the doors of these places and ask who lives there.  Turns out it really is this “brother” who lives there, and if you ask this “brother” about swimming in that river, at that spot, it is all confirmed.  Then the toddler leads you to his “parents” home and there’s even more confirmation.  Everything you’ve been told is verified.

If this happened to you, would there be any doubt that some sort of soul, or call it what you will, survived death and had reincarnated into your toddler?  It’d be very difficult to dispute.  The only way to squirm out of it would be to flat-out deny it, dispute the reliability of the witnesses and the testimony, and claim none of it really happened.  It’s all made up for attention, etc.

But what if I told you that this sort of thing has happened many many times and it’s all been thoroughly documented by experts with PhDs from highly respected universities?  What if I told you it’s happening all over the world and the evidence for it is overwhelming?  What if I told you these researchers have confirmed these accounts using lawyer like methodical processes to conduct the interviews, deep background investigations, etc.  Would you believe me?

I ask you to read some of the works of Dr. Ian Stevenson, a PhD trained professor of psychiatry; in fact, he was the chair of their entire department at the University of Virginia.  He’s the top authority on this subject in the entire world.

This isn’t some new-age psychic trying to peddle you Tarot sessions and pretty crystal necklaces.  You talk to him and he’s a trained professional, dedicated to the scientific method, and armed with a multi-million dollar grant from one of the founders of the Xerox corporation.  Turns out the Xerox founder’s wife was wondering about reincarnation, so her husband hired a team of the best, most credible investigators to see if there’s any merit to the idea.  This lead to the formation of the Division of Perceptual Studies.

Before long these highly decorated investigators built a huge database of possible leads and were traveling to India, Brazil, Alaska, Lebanon, and other locations, all over the world, following up.  This huge grant was used for travel expenses, recording devices, hiring translators, etc.  What did they find?  Countless stories, just like I described earlier.  And Dr. Stevenson documented it all, like a lawyer getting ready for a huge court case, anticipating all your objections and making iron-clad arguments suggestive that these children did in fact reincarnate from a previous life.  One of their first publications was this book.

I’m a skeptical person and unless there’s some powerful evidence, I don’t tend to believe what I hear.  When I first was reading this book, I was thinking that these people could easily be making it all up, having gotten together beforehand and sort of ironed out some story for attention, etc.  But then I read through this and realized, oh wow, there’s no way that can be the case.

Take some of the strongest cases.  I found no other explanation other than that the child really did reincarnate from another life.  Any other explanation seemed to require me to put my head in the sand and plug my ears, just ignoring what I’d read.  Dr. Stevenson would hear about some child in a poor Indian village who claimed to be reincarnated from a former family of some distant place.  This family lacked the resources to confirm or deny what the child had been telling them so they were naturally happy to have someone with resources come in to look into this because they were tired of hearing their child yap on about it.  Dr. Stevenson and his team had to travel to some distant land to meet the supposed reincarnated child’s family, and it turned out that everything the child had been telling his new family was true.  Nobody had verified or even believed the young child before this.

In other cases the families had nothing to gain from any of this.  For example, in another Indian Hindu family, the reincarnated child claimed to have come from another family which belonged to a different caste and the two castes despised one another.  Even before meeting or hearing about this other family, you have a toddler crossing its arms, talking down to his biological mother and father, refusing to play with other kids, refusing to eat certain dishes, strangely claiming, “I’m a Brahmin.  I won’t affiliate with any of this.”  Out of nowhere, we have the world’s most haughty three year old.  Then the biological family breaks down, takes the toddler to this other family, and the child knows who everyone is, knows things only a member of that Brahmin family would know, knows his way around town, etc.  Now for more drama.  Both families claimed rights as to how the child should be raised, diet, education, and the rest of it. The former wife of the deceased, along with the former mother, exclaimed, “If you think I’m going to stand by and let my husband/son be raised by a filthy peasant farm family when he should be well educated in our well-off Brahmin family, they have another thing coming!”   You can imagine this strange drama unfolding.  Why would this family make all this up with absolutely nothing to gain?  Nothing but fighting, drama, and problems.

These same toddlers will tell you that after they died, their spirit left their body and they were met by guides, or spiritual figures, and these beings gave them a life review, and all the rest of it, just like in near death experiences.  People often argue that near-death experiencers are just hallucinating, are on power medications, seeing strange things when being revived by doctors in the hospital, etc.  But if that were true, then how do we explain something like this?  And why would these toddlers speak of the same sort of events as near-death experiences, knowing nothing about them?

This also lines up with the sorts of accounts you hear about when people are put under deep hypnosis and begin to remember the life they lived before their current one, the between lives area, meeting spiritual guides, having their life reviewed, etc.  Why would all these things point to similar events if there was nothing to it?  Why would everyone hallucinate the same sorts of things?

I ask you to withhold judgement and read books like ’20 Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation’, a 400 page tome covering just 20 reincarnation accounts, and come to your own conclusion.  It lines up with all the strange things I’ve researched, even bizarre Gnostic texts speaking of all of this in detail.

The False “I”

I want to spend a little time today talking about Ramana Maharshi’s method of Self-Enquiry, and what it has done for me personally.  The ideas contained in this passage have profoundly changed me.  If someone was to ask me to share with them the most powerful teachings I’ve ever came across, this passage would be toward the top of the list.  This is an extremely direct method of finding out who or what you truly are, along with ridding your mind of everything else that’s unreal, leaving you with peace of mind.   Maybe by sharing how I’ve used the method, it can help lend insights to some of you into how you can better understand yourselves.   I’ll begin by simply quoting from his book on Self-Enquiry.

“Disciple: Master! What is the means to gain the state of eternal bliss, ever devoid of misery?

Master: Apart from the statement in the Veda that wherever there is body there is misery, this is also the direct experience of all people; therefore, one should enquire into one’s true nature which is ever bodiless, and one should remain as such. This is the means to gaining that state.

D: What is meant by saying that one should enquire into one’s true nature and understand it?

M: Experiences such as “I went; I came; I was; I did” come naturally to everyone. From these experiences, does it not appear that the consciousness “I” is the subject of those various acts? Enquiry into the true nature of that consciousness, and remaining as oneself is the way to understand, through enquiry, one’s true nature.

D: How is one to enquire: “Who am I?”

M: Actions such as ‘going’ and ‘coming’ belong only to the body. And so, when one says “I went, I came”, it amounts to saying that the body is “I”. But, can the body be said to be the consciousness “I”, since the body was not before it was born, is made up of the five elements, is non-existent in the state of deep sleep, and becomes a corpse when dead? Can this body which is inert like a log of wood be said to shine as “I” “I”? Therefore, the “I” consciousness which at first arises in respect of the body is referred to variously as self-conceit (tarbodham), egoity (ahankara), nescience (avidya), maya, impurity (mala), and individual soul (jiva) . Can we remain without enquiring into this? Is it not for our redemption through enquiry that all the scriptures declare that the destruction of “self-conceit” is release (mukti)? Therefore, making the corpse-body remain as a corpse, and not even uttering the word “I”, one should enquire keenly thus: “Now, what is it that rises as ‘I’”. Then, there would shine in the Heart a kind of wordless illumination of the form ‘I’ ‘I’. That is, there would shine of its own accord the pure consciousness which is unlimited and one, the limited and the many thoughts having disappeared. If one remains quiescent without abandoning that (experience), the egoity, the individual sense, of the form ‘I am the body’ will be totally destroyed, and at the end the final thought, viz. the ‘I’- form also will be quenched like the fire that burns camphor (*without leaving any sediment). The great sages and scriptures declare that this alone is release.

If you read my blog frequently, what Maharshi calls ‘I’ ‘I’, I called standing “above” my thoughts and emotions in my post Reflections On Spirtuality.  I had no words for the experience.  It’s an incredible place to focus your conscious attention, and few of us even know it’s there and always available to us.

So first of all, what is it?  I can’t really describe it as it has no describable properties.  What I can tell you is that when you find it, it’ll be self-evident to you.  It’s clearly perceived when your mind is silent.  It won’t be any kind of form, or a sound, or even a thought.  The only words for it might be, “I AM”, or something to that effect.   Christian scriptures speak of it when they say, “Be still and know that I am God.”  This observer, this presence, this… YOU… is there.  It’s not outside, nor is it inside.   It never changes, despite everything going on around you.  Within every moment and every experience, this ‘I AM’ is there.  When you find it, you can place your attention there and just rest.

Does the world stop when you enter such a place?  No.  Do you have to be sitting idle, meditating, to enter such a place?  No.  Do you see some amazing vision of infinity when you come to this place?  No.  You’ll be exactly where you are, in the exact same circumstance you’re in.  So wait, then what changes?  Everything!  Hahaha, I know it sounds absurd, but bear with me!  I’m waiting for all of your puzzled looks!

Ok, so if I can’t describe it, how does one get there?  If, everytime you have a thought, and you hear the word, “I”, such as, “I need to get a drink”, or “I’m so sick of this”, or “I need a vacation”, you ask, “Who or what is saying these things?  Who is this ‘I’?  Show yourself to me.” It may then respond, “I am the consciousness of the brain”, if you’re a materialist.  Then you press further, “Who is it who thinks its this consciousness of this brain?”  If you trace the thoughts and responses, and keep pressing, “Who is this?  Who says that?”, it eventually comes down to a self-evident response of, “I AM” .  It’s curt, to the point, and self-evident.  It’s a weird feeling when you focus on this… focal point of attention.  You’re looking outward with your eyes, seeing the bedroom or whatever it is you’re looking at, all the while, the attention is inward focused on this “I AM”, sorta “located” at the center of all conscious perception.  There isn’t words for it.  You ask, “What are you exactly?”  The response?  “I AM”.  I can TRY to put it into words.  It might go something along the lines of, “I AM the infinite observer, capable of observing any shape, form, time, emotion, anything, and I AM right NOW in your present moment, I AM”.  Notice something.  This happened when YOU traced your own thoughts of what “I” is.  Do this method, and it will be self-evident.

Why is this so powerful?  What good does this do anybody?  The key is realizing that this is the real you.  You’re not your body, you’re not your emotions, you’re not your thoughts, you are this I AM.  When you identify with this, after all kinds of questioning, asking, “Who thinks this thought?”  “Who is it who feels this way?”  “Who is it who wonders about this topic?”, you trace things back, and again and again you’ll come to this ‘root’, this ‘I AM’.  Everything else changes.  Thoughts come and go.  Feelings come and go.  Forms come and go.  All experience is fleeting, but this ‘I AM’ never goes anywhere.  It’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Now here’s the key, so listen up!  Make this your focal point of observation, if that makes sense.  Root yourself there, and watch all the things in your life, all the thoughts, all the emotions, all the comings and goings, and realize, “A ha!  I am none of these things!  These things come and go, but I AM something that never goes.  I never change.”  And now you’ve got it!  If that clicked in your head, I want to dance around you in circles like those little children do on the playground.  How wonderful this realization!

When I “got” this realization, my mind, which in many respects was a cesspool, was flushed like a clogged up toilet.  Then you want to run around and tell everyone, “My burdens washed away!”, but people look at you crazy like, “What drug’s this guy on?”

Here’s real examples from my own life, and how this changed me.

There was a time, not too long ago, where I felt like I was a bit awkward.  That wherever I’d go, I didn’t fit in.  I wasn’t particularly trying to fit in, but it often would get frustrating to me, never encountering people who thought about the things I thought about, or had the same hobbies I had, or liked the same things I did.  Then I used Maharshi’s method, and I said, “Who is it who feels this awkwardness?  Who is it who feels this feeling of not fitting in?”, and from the ‘I AM’ vantage point, I watched such feelings; from this static point, the feelings came, and they went.  Ah ha!  They’re illusions!  They’re imposters!  I was mistakenly identifying with them.  Thoughts have happened, but I’m not such thoughts.  Feelings of enjoying some activity have happened, but I’m not such feelings, and activities have happened but I am not the activities.  These things change, but I don’t change.  And here’s the key point.  Now that I no longer identified with any of these things, all of this was shaken loose from me, the whole cycle ended, and I feel comfortable and happy around everyone, country bumpkins to brilliant physicists, Republicans to Democrats, men, women, old, young, some stray dog wagging its tail at me while I’m out for a walk, it’s all the same to me friend!

How about another example.  At the university, I didn’t start until I was 27, and didn’t graduate until I was nearly 36 or so.  I was always an older student, who I felt had already been out there fighting in the real world, built a business, and done these things.  Some of the students’ personalities came across to me as childish, though I didn’t dislike that.  I just felt out of place.  It’s like they all had ADD or something.  I just felt like tapping many of them on the shoulder and saying, “Calm down.”  When I was nearing my graduation, I was nearly twice the age of some of the students.  I felt that I was old and that I didn’t relate to these younger students anymore.  “I don’t understand them” was a common thought.  Social media, the obsessions with phones and tech stuff, getting offended and wanting to ban everyone, I didn’t get it.  But wait.  Let’s go back to Maharshi’s method.  When those thoughts and feelings arise, you ask yourself, “Who is it who feels old?  Who is it who feels and thinks these things about not understanding these younger students?”  Ooooohhh.  Guess what?  From the ‘I AM’ point, such things come, and such things go.  ‘I AM’ never changes, so what’s this talk about getting old?  Those feelings I was having were illusions!  I AM not old, nor AM I something that emotionally relates to anything, young, old, or even alien.  “I” don’t even relate to a flow of time.  All of those things are things that change.

This changed the entire dynamic with students.  For whatever reason, the background feelings within the ‘I AM’ focal point is love, peace, and joy.  It’s your true nature, as Maharshi says.  And that’s how I became toward all the students!  When I sat at the ‘I AM’ place, this flowed out of me.  All of the false “I” notions which were separating me from the students, making me feel some dualistic antagonism toward them died.  No more separation.  You, me, we’re here, let’s enjoy our time together.  And then things go so well and you think, “Why didn’t I do this before?”  But when you’re in delusion, in stupidity, in ridiculousness, you can’t see such simple truths.  If you read my last post, ‘How It All Works‘, where I spoke of my model of reality, I was now at the point of surrender.  The False ‘I’ was dead, and now, I AM.  If you read my other post, ‘Reflections on Spirtuality‘, this same dynamic Christ-consciousness.   Remember that diagram I shared?

I went from this…

To this…

It’s NOT a place of inactivity.  It’s not an attempt to escape the world.  It’s not running from anything.  It’s some sort of flow.   I don’t get why the flow is happening, but it is, and I AM is there in every “frame” of this movie we’re living, and always will be there.

How about more examples.  Guilt!  Oh there’s a big one.  This isn’t something I’ve personally dealt with much, but I’ve met some who feel very badly about how they were as a mother, or how they were as a father, or how they were as a husband.  I should have been better to my niece.  I should’ve spent more time with my daughter, I should’ve done this, I should’ve done that.  Let’s bring out Maharshi.  Who is it who feels these things?  Who is it who feels they should’ve been better to so and so?  Who is it who feels they should’ve made more time to whomever?  Trace it out.  Is that the unchanging?  Is that the ‘I AM’?  No.  I AM doesn’t feel one way today, then badly tomorrow, and then feel better upon acts of retribution.  More illusions.  More false I’s, more comings and goings.  It’s not you.  This new identification with ‘I AM’ is the real meaning behind, “My sins have been washed away.”  But then you think, “What are you saying?  Should I not feel guilty about anything I do!?”  Who is that “I” who should or shouldn’t feel guilt and other things?  Is that the ‘I AM’?  No.  You’re not feelings which change based on what happens.  Another false I.  Root yourself in ‘I AM’, who I often call the Holy Spirit, and the natural flow of things will be love, peace, and joy, for you, and for those you encounter.  They may still be mad about what happened, but you won’t be, and you won’t be angry at yourself, and this new nature which will flow out of you will give you the best chance to mend things.

How about the reverse, such as deep-seated angers, or those seeking revenge?  Somebody did you wrong and you’re going to get back at them.  You’re no pushover.  You’ll show them!  Once again, let’s break out Maharshi.  Who is it who feels these desires for revenge?  Are they the unchanging ‘I AM’?  No.  ‘I AM’ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and is always love, peace, and joy, which becomes you when you make it your focal point.  But what about all this revenge nonsense?  It’s not the ‘I AM’.  The real you isn’t seeking revenge.  The body is generating feelings of anger, based on memories in its brain, and you’re focusing attention on these feelings, instead of letting it pass.  You identify with these thoughts and feelings, and that energizes them, keeping it all in existence.  I’ve known some who play these mental loops of misery like tape-recorders, just on and on, the same old, same old.  My ex-girlfriend, blah blah blah.  My parents and what they did to me as a child, blah blah blah.  My ex-boss and how he fired me unjustly, blah blah blah.  “I am so angry.”  You give these past event importance, like that helps you or something.   But you know what you’re failing to realize?  Did that ex-girlfriend hold the keys to your happiness?  Did your childhood permanently break you?  Is that job the only chance you had to live a good life?  There’s a belief in your mind that they do, but in reality they do not.

As long as you feel something “outside” is your only ticket to peace and happiness, and that’s been taken away from you, you will always be frustrated and angry.  The more things you think your happiness depends on in this life, the more you’re setting yourself up to fail.  The world did you wrong!  “How unfair it all is!  Someone’s life is so much better than my own, how come!”  But who says these things, and are they true?  Who is it who feels this way?  Search it out.  The real you is not these thoughts.  If you do the self-enquiry, and think about it, you’ll realize this to be the case.  Become self-aware of these false I’s and their false promises, their frustrations, and their ignorance.  Is it the ‘I AM’?  No.  Those things all came and went, like everything in the world, but I AM is still here.  Root yourself in the I AM and forgiveness will automatically be your nature.  Why?  Because loving is your new nature, and joy now is unconditional.  Nobody can steal anything from you, so what’s there to be angry about?

This is why I’ve largely stopped worrying about politics.  I’m aware of stupid things going on, but it doesn’t bother me.  The world of ever-shifting forms isn’t my source of happiness, so there’s no reason to get upset at what Donald Trump is doing, or Hillary Clinton, or the news casters on TV, or what have you.  Just more passing forms and events.  The reason people get so nasty to one another is because they think their happiness depends on some state of the world.  They believe some change in public policy will change the world in that direction, and if all goes according to plan, they will have conditions more conducive to their happiness.  But oh to those who take away that perceived chance at happiness!  How dare you!  People will fight for what they believe will make them happy.  What else do you think this is all about?

I saw a video of Alex Jones the other day, the big conspiracy theorist of the internet, coming into a restaurant and he starts yelling at this group of people at another table because they’re on the “left”.  “You bunch of F–ing LIBTARDS!  I’M NOT GOING TO LET YOU RUIN THIS COUNTRY”, and those on the opposing end are sitting there with smug faces, throwing equally nasty insults at him, “So when are you going to give birth, Alex?”

This is what happens when people think someone “out there” holds their happiness, when it’s really within them.  “I’m not happy with things, I’m not content, and IT’S BECAUSE OF YOU!  YOU’RE RUINING EVERYTHING!”  We could fast-forward to some amazing future in the year 3500, a world filled with comforts and entertainment far beyond what we can imagine, and I can still imagine this same dynamic going on.  “I WON’T LET YOU RUIN THIS WORLD”, and they’re fighting over something we’d perceive as very trivial.  They live in perfect health, immortal bodies, with super brains which store all human knowledge, but still, it’s not enough.  I could see some peasant farmer in ancient Egypt looking at our lives now and thinking, “What in the world do you have to complain about?”  But as you can see, did improved conditions fix things entirely?  Is it ever enough?  You start blaming others and external situations for your own lack of self-perception, and it never ends.

Like I said before, learning this was like flushing the toilet-bowl which was my mind.  All the crap, it just flushed away and I was left with clarity, flesh clean water.  When the clean water pours in and the stench leaves, and you’re made new, you don’t want any more crap in your bowl.  I’ve been let down by so many things in life, but when I found that when I locked in on this Holy Spirit, this eternal I AM, I want everything else that’s false to flush away.