(this is an abridged version of the original article)

by Leatrice Asher
There is an I entity, but not the I operating system that most every being considers the inherent basis of their existence from youth to death. That would be the false I, perpetuated through feeling and desire and the nurturing of our personas throughout eons.

Does the false I exist? It would be more accurate to say that it “operates,” but through a mistaken notion that it has objective existence. This makes it more difficult to even call our attention to the truth or falseness of that existence. And if we don’t think that this I that we operate from day to day is false then of course it cannot be known. Once known it is a chimera. Not known it is what we think we are. To state this differently: the human being is a concrete objective existence of the false I even though it is merely a relative reality.

What does this false I look like when it is known? There is no I character seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling. Harold Percival is not the only person who speaks to this. An excerpt from the Buddhist Maha Prajna Paramita Hridaya Sutra states: “No eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no color, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of mind . . .” This cannot be apprehended intellectually; it must be experienced. This doesn’t mean that we then lead our lives without the use of our sense receptors, but when misperception ceases our relationship to the senses will also change when they are no longer being filtered through a fallacious and cloudy atmosphere. The opportunity then exits to deepen into the Knower of reality. Once we clearly see the truth of our selves we’re still the same person that we’ve always been. We will still feel angry, sad, joyful because these are valid experiences of feelings and sensations in our particular I world, but now they are seen as the materialized form of I having experiences.

The more anchored we are in our stance (what we present to the world, and our selves, as Sue Jones, John Brown), the farther we recede from freedom of these creations, and fathoming reality. This stance is fortified through use of the body mind when it thinks of its self as an I, but not the false I. To even entertain the notion that something other than this illusion exists may seem not only preposterous, but frightening. That we, and most everyone else, is living with this deception makes it all the more difficult to dispel. One way in which our insight into this matter remains clouded is that we want the world to see us the way we want to be seen. This often involves what we might call over-existing—adding layers of complexities and means of identification to our person to further brand and particularize ourselves, much like the way animal hides are branded to denote ownership. In our case, there’s nothing there to “own.” There never has been. So every single desire considers itself to be the I because it gets the feeling of I-ness from its Knower—the True I. The desires for nature are coupled with these “false feelings” and each has a false sense of being as the identity. Each one is as deluded as the next!

Conscious Knowledge is awareness beyond our intellectual grasp. But even the word awareness is problematic because someone needs to be present in order to be aware. When feeling and desire are in their right place there is no “some one,” no I character to perceive reality. There is no subject and object. Without our thoughts, feelings and desires holding our desired image in place there is only reality—Consciousness—Being, not the Tom or Mary idea that we so tenaciously hold onto.

False humility, piousness, devotion are just some of the ways we contribute to calcifying a particular stance in the world. We don’t have to be spiritual, well-read, monkish or virtuous to experience reality. Those are judgments and pre-conceived notions that only add more layers to our mistaken notion of I. Anyone can look . . . and see, regardless of their station in life, their moral compass. Thank goodness for that or we would have even more elitism in the world! We spend so much time following gurus, seeking programs that promise us liberation, reading endless books. Waking up is not about seeking through teachers, books, groups. We look to these things to lead us out of our confusion. These pursuits may rightly inspire us to further our inquiry. They can also be a hindrance if we are in any way goal-oriented as goals are always about getting or being something. Further, if we relinquish our own ability to access wisdom to another person or group this can lead to literalizing a particular dogma or belief. How can we look to our own operating field with confidence if we are always looking outward?

Although we may be motivated to pursue understanding from other sources, the experience of reality is a solo affair. No one can hold our hand or take us there. We wake ourselves up. This may or may not be a one-stop occurrence. More may be required of us to deepen into that awakening, but this initial “seeing rightly” can certainly liberate us from the grave and mistaken notion of I. Once known it cannot be unknown. This is not an undertaking destined only for a chosen few. Every human being surely needs to know the truth of his or her self. The problem is that most everyone operates convinced that these contrived beings are the only reality. Maybe this should be of even more concern to us! Who will raise their voice to say “the emperor has no clothes on”? Yet, there are those who have penetrated the maze of this dream world and awakened—from untruth to Reality. But then, how to communicate this awakening in the language of the world?
Fra Giovani (1513 A.D. excerpt from letter to a friend)

I salute you.
There is nothing I can give you
which you have not got:
but there is much, very much
that while I cannot give it,
you can take.
No heaven can come to us
unless our hearts find rest
in today.
Take heaven!
No peace lies in the future
which is not hidden
in this present little instant.
Take peace!
The gloom of the world is but a shadow.
Behind it, yet within reach, is joy.
There is radiance and glory
in the darkness, could we but see,
and to see we have only to look.
I beseech you to look!
And so, at this time, I greet you,
not quite as the world sends greetings,
but with profound esteem
and with the prayer that for you
now and forever, the day breaks,
and the shadows flee away.

If seeing is not happening then in-sighting must continue . . . if we wish freedom from this universal distortion of reality. Maybe we should first clarify what it is that we really want, what is most important to us. If seeing rightly means giving up what may be held so dear to us that we cannot fathom not being an I that then should be acknowledged and not judged. We may think “of course my intention is to see clearly,” but if we are still affixed to our name and how we present our selves in the world then maybe this is not what we really desire.

We will remain shackled to this mistaken notion of the false I until we actually experience the truth—the dissolution of “I.” Throughout his many works, Harold Percival tries in a number of different ways to communicate the importance of “application.”  If a concept is grasped by the intellect but one’s life is not transformed through that understanding then information remains a concept, something formed in the mind only. This can also lead to mechanized responses.

How can we expose this deception when we are constantly reinforcing and romanticizing it? The answer is that we have to look until truth is known. In Zen meditation thoughts are just watched as they pass by. If you’ve never tried this you will be surprised how much time we spend talking to ourselves! If we think what we talk to ourselves about during the day is reality we will not have that desire to look, pointedly. Reality is the ever flowing river. We can enter any time, but “we” will not be present. There are no other factors present, other than consciousness, when seeing occurs. No bells and whistles either. That which feels, desires, thinks for nature gratification, which is pretty much all of our thinking, is contingent feeling, desiring, thinking; in other words, dependent on objects or conditions for existence. In the waking up state there is no desirer or thinker, no I to think. The false I has experiences, but “experience” doesn’t exist in “reality” because to experience someone needs to be engaged with an object, emotion or through the senses, and there is no some one nor something happening to this I entity. It just IS. Buddhism comes close with the word “Thusness.”

All that we hold true and unquestionable must be looked at pointedly, if we wish to know the false I. If we don’t do this we can become mired in ideas when we haven’t actually apprehended their validity. If we only perceive and recognize through logic, intuition and rationale that is not Knowing. It is possessing knowledge. Knowledge is necessary, but a book or a person cannot take us to Knowing. We have to take ourselves.

Ideas that we’ve embraced and tenaciously adhere to may be a further impediment to entering reality because they can then position us to become narrow and judgmental with anyone who disagrees with those views. Judgments are one of the main ways in which we blind ourselves to Truth. When we are no longer distorting actuality, there is no “I,” so no one to judge. Right or wrong ways to be in the world may serve the individual but when applied to others it becomes prejudicial. Someone might argue but what about murderers or rapists? We may not approve of someone’s behavior; in fact, we may be downright angered by it. Now we have a positioned attitude (about so many things!) which stands directly in the pathway of liberation from the identity we’ve attached ourselves to and work so diligently to maintain. Let’s distinguish this from the capacity to assess situations and draw sound conclusions about our life, such as when to cross a trafficked street or what kind of car to buy. But when our focus is on praising or blaming others (or ourselves) those opinions hold us stubbornly to some idea that we nurture. Whatever we so staunchly oppose leads to contraction, rather than expansion, mooring us more deeply in assertions that cannot be validated.
These suggestions may be helpful:

1) Diligently watch the process of thinking, also those thoughts that bolster the idea of “I” but don’t obsess. We can’t control thoughts. We can only watch them. When we step back they become ephemeral.

2) Watch passively, like the passing scenes on a movie screen. This doesn’t need to only happen in stillness. We can make effort even in the midst of life activities. Try observing as if you were looking out of a window frame, but the window is you.

3) Don’t judge what you observe. Judgments create accretions. Change comes from seeing and acknowledging what we are creating. Seeing will be hampered if we are denying, bad-mouthing or glorifying those perceptions. We don’t need to add or subtract to our human. Be neutral. Life just is!

4) Stay with your own process, which may be different than these words, or even the words of someone you consider a superior moral and intellectual being. Don’t try to replicate what someone else has said or experienced. Leave unfilled space to authenticate for yourself.

5) View pleasure and pain with the same detachment. They are impermanent. Delighting and sorrowing about them only keeps us moored in delusion. The sensations may arise but we don’t have to become them.

6) We are already That which we seek. We just don’t Know it. Look. As Fra Giovanni says “I beseech you to look!”

Fearlessness is needed to set aside all of our dearly held assumptions. If we are filled up with ideas, even, especially, grand and lofty ones, they will impede our ability to know the truth of I. Percival states: “So the doer-in-the-body is conscious of itself as being something which it is not, and it is not conscious of what it actually is. This delusion of the false I lies at the basis of the human being, . . .” Do we know what these words mean? Until we acknowledge that we are living in a state of self-deception it will be very difficult to right the error that we perpetuate in our thinking.

Nothing should be accepted carte blanche. These words as well should be examined carefully, tested and retested up against your own field of functioning. We cannot know reality while holding onto thoughts of it. Are we willing to give up all those cherished, accumulated ideas about how the world works? This may seem like a death of sorts, and that it is, but a death we will revive from better for our Knowing. Waking to reality may well allow for more ease and spontaneity in our lives where before there was the cumbersome bulk of misperception. This doesn’t mean that we no longer feel emotions, feelings, sensations, trying events and such, but our response to them will have the added factor of our understanding. We will still be the same person we have always been. We will still have tests before us. What will be different is that life events will now have the benefit of our seeing rightly.

The Word Magazine, Published by The Word Foundation, Inc. –  Autumn issue 2015

The book Thinking and Destiny by Harold W. Percival fully explains terms that may be unfamiliar to the reader, such as: Doer, Thinker and Knower, Triune Self, I-ness.     -LA