The Real – February 8 2018

Q: I must begin with some absolute truth. Is there any?
M: Yes, there is, the feeling: ‘I am’. Begin with that
Q: Nothing else is true?
M: All else is neither true nor false. It seems real when it appears, it disappears when it is denied. A transient thing is a mystery.
Q: I thought the real is the mystery.
M: How can it be? The real is simple, open, clear and kind, beautiful and joyous. It is completely free of contradictions. It is ever-new, ever-fresh, endlessly creative. Being and no-being, life and death, all distinctions merge in it.
from I Am That,
Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, pp. 324-25
As we walk through the world we look for what will allow us to feel safe. We look for what we can hold on to, how we can define ourselves. This may be our relationship, our job, our career, our home, our wealth, our sexuality. It might be our race, our political leanings, our religion, our military experience. Probably it is a subtle combination of all these things, an identity that shifts and changes depending on the situation of the moment, the people we are with, the need of the time, the flux and balance of our hormones and feelings. What will allow me to feel safe here and now. What will allow me to feel comfortable. What will allow me to feel as if I belong.
Most of the things listed above are qualities of the relative world. As such they are changeable. Malleable. Different from one year to the next, some even from one moment to the next. To build my identity on something that is bound to change is like building a house on sand. Even if I am able to finish the house I will spend most of my time propping it up, shoring it up against the shifting of its foundation, giving it the appearance of stability and indeed, convincing myself it is stable when in fact it is anything but.
This is the case with we humans much of the time. According to those who know how to measure such things we spend about 95% of our time defending the positions embraced by our ego. When we are defending, we are closed. We can’t learn. We can’t grow. The best we can hope for is to maintain the status quo, to not lose ground. And yet for most of us, if we ask ourselves, this is the last thing we would claim to want. Rather we want what Sri Nisargadatta mentions above: the “ever-new, ever-fresh, endlessly creative.”
To find our way to this we must embrace truth. Truth is that which never changes. What truth is there for us to embrace? Sri Nisargadatta gives us the answer of the saints and sages of all ages. 
Q: Is there any [absolute truth]?
M: Yes, there is, the feeling: ‘I am’. Begin with that.
The feeling ‘I am’. 
There will be days when this makes perfect sense. When knowing ‘I am’ is as simple and clear as knowing my name, and powerful enough to allow me to feel my oneness with all that is.
And there will be days when it may frustrate me even to hear the phrase. ‘I am’. What does that mean? ‘I am’ …what? 
For there may be days when in spite of my best efforts I will see myself as the ego and experience myself as separate and different and apart from everyone and everything. What will I do on those days?
I will think ‘I am’. I will remind myself there are times when it makes sense to me, when I actually can feel it, even though I am not able to feel it now. 
And then I will look for evidence of oneness in the world, in the eyes of my fellows. I will seek to embody and to reflect the qualities of this truth as I walk through the day. 
The real is simple, open, clear and kind, beautiful and joyous. It is completely free of contradictions. 
This is a description of unity, a description of a universe that is everything we would want our universe to be. This is a description of everything we would want ourselves to be. This is a template that, were we able to live it, would lead us directly to that truth within. ‘I am’. 
Today I will ask of myself to be simple and open, to be clear in all I say, think and do, to seek to be kind to those I meet. I will look for what is beautiful in the world. I will give myself the opportunity to experience joy. I will ask of each situation: where is the unity here, rather than where is the contradiction.
View from Fryman Canyon, Studio City, CA
All original material copyright © 2018 Jeff Kober