The Art of Meditation 3:
Who am I?
Sit in your meditation place. Complete at least five minutes of the breathing meditation.
Ask yourself the question: “Who am I?” An answer will come – perhaps your name:
“I am Bill”.
Answer: “Hello, Bill. Who am I?”
Another answer will come:
“I am a business man.”
“Hello, business man. Who am I?”
Continue this for the rest of your meditation period.
This is a famous meditation practice. It is said that the great Indian teacher Ramana Maharshi reached enlightenment through just this one meditation. Rev Mario recommended it highly and would sometimes have his students practise together. One person posed the question while the other answered it.
Why is this such an important meditation? It is because it takes us straight to the core of our being – our sense of “I”. What is this sense of “I”? For most of us, there is no one “I” – there is a multitude of what Rev Mario would call the “little I”. As Shakespeare said, “Each man in his time plays many roles”. Each of these roles is a “little I”. We play the role of a man, a woman, an occupation, a lover, a parent, a child and so on. In pictorial form we are surrounded by a ceaseless multitude of selves – all competing for attention and wanting to take over consciousness, even if it is only for a short while.
When we perform this meditation, we get to meet all these minor selves and dismiss them – for these small selves are not who we truly are. We are really something much greater – we are a “real self”. Rev Mario called this “real self” the “I AM”. The I AM is not a place to pause, a role to adopt – the I AM is an action, a movement, a dynamic balance of consciousness around a central point. To live from the I AM is to live eternally poised, eternally aware of the flow of life. Life becomes less a journey than a dance. There is no meaning to life – we give meaning to life as we create it from the I AM.
As we continue this meditation, we encounter deeper levels, more profound “answers”: “I am Love”; “I am the Whole”; “I am a Healer” .. nevertheless each time we answer:
“Hello, Love. Who are you?”
Eventually we will reach a point where there is no more statement. At this point we experience the silence of the I AM. This silence is not the absence of sound – it is the potential of Creation. From this point of silence, we can flow out into the world as true creators.
If we are rigorous in our application of the meditation – we will take it with us into our daily lives. When we become angry at someone we say: “I am angry. Hello, angry, who are you?” When we are depressed we say: “I am depressed. Hello depressed, who are you?”
This is a most powerful tool to transform our lives. It is the whole point of meditation that we take the new consciousness into our daily life. Someone once said to me that they did not believe you had to “practice spirituality” – you just were spiritual. Who would say to a musician, “You don’t have to practice music – you just are musical?” The point of musical practice is to become the effortless, creative performer. So it is with spiritual practice. Our spiritual practice gives us the power to become the performer and the creator within our own lives. It is a basic rule of spirituality that we cannot change others – we can only change ourselves. But when we are daring enough to change ourselves, then our whole world changes also. It must – because we are the Creator of our own world.
The Self surrounded by the cloud of "small i's"