Chapter 9: The Master Is a Mirror
The greatest problem is that when you ask, “Who am I,” who is going to answer you? Most probably the answer will come from your tradition, from your scriptures, from your conditioning. You have heard that: “I am not the body, I am not the mind. I am the soul, I am the ultimate, Brahma, I am God.” You have heard all these kinds of thoughts before.
You will ask a few times, “Who am I? Who am I?” And then you will say, “I am the ultimate, Brahma.” And this is not a discovery; it is simply stupid. If you want to go into the method rightly, then the question has not to be verbally asked. “Who am I?” has not to be repeated verbally. Because as long as it remains a verbal question, you will supply a verbal answer from the head. You have to drop the verbal question. It has to remain just a vague idea, just like a thirst. Not “I am thirsty.” Can you see the difference? When you are thirsty, you feel the thirst. And if you are in a desert, you feel the thirst in every fiber of your body. You don’t say, “I am thirsty, I am thirsty.” It is no longer a linguistic question; it is existential.
If “Who am I?” is an existential question, if you are not asking it in language but instead the feeling of the question is settling inside your center, then there is no need for any answer. Then it is none of the mind’s business. The mind will not hear that which is non-verbal, and the mind will not answer that which is non-verbal.
All your scriptures are in the mind, all your knowledge is gathered there.
Now you are entering an innocent space. You will not get the answer. You will get the feel, you will get the taste, you will get the smell. As you go deeper, you will be filled more with the feeling of being, of immortality, blissfulness, silence - a tremendous benediction.
But there is no answer like, “I am this, I am that.” All that is from the scriptures. This feeling is from you, and this feeling has a truth about it. It is a perfectly valid method.
One of the great masters of this century, Raman Maharshi, used only this method for his disciples: “Who am I?” But I have come across hundreds of his disciples and they are nowhere near the ultimate experience. And the reason is because they know the answer already.
I have asked them, “Do you know the answer?”
They said, “We know the answer.”
I said, “If you know the answer, then why are you asking? And your asking cannot go on very long - do it two or three times and the answer comes. The answer was already there, before the question.” So it is just a mind game. If you want to play it, you can play it. But if you really want to go into it as it was meant by Raman Maharshi, and by all the ancient seers, it is a non-verbal thirst. So if you can avoid the danger of falling into a verbal question, it is perfectly good, you can go ahead.
Not knowing oneself hurts, it is a wound. Not knowing oneself makes the whole of life meaningless. You may know everything, only you do not know yourself - and that would be the first thing to know.