The following is taken from a Rupert Spira video where he talks about the three possibilities of who or what we believe we are. He teaches from the philosophy of Non Duality, or Advaita in the yoga tradition. On first reading this may be a bit of a mind bender. Remember, the ego mind does not like to be faced with the possibility of its non existence.
“The first possibility is to consider ones self a body and a mind. A mixture of thoughts, images, ideas, feelings, sensations, sights, sounds, taste etc. As this body-mind we always feel we are fragmented and separate from the whole. As such, we seek to complete ourselves to make ourselves whole and to feel fulfilled. We do this by seeking fulfillment in an object, activity, substance, state of mind or in a relationship.
This is the experience we call happiness. The sense of lack or incompleteness comes to an end for a time. We experience what we were longing for.
Thought tells us that the cause of the happiness is the object, substance, state or relationships that we acquired. Our destiny is to spend our life trying to acquire this object, state of mind, activity etc in the future.
This is the possibility that most people experience. We believe that awareness is something that our body-mind has. Awareness comes and goes for us. Something that our body-mind has when we are awake but goes away when we are asleep. We feel that whatever happens to the body-mind happens to us. For example, As the body gets old, we think “I” am getting old.
The second possibility is to understand that what we essentially are, is not the mixture of the body and the mind, but is the one empty space of awareness. We can imagine it as a vast open knowing space. All thoughts feelings and perceptions appear without choice or preference.
In this awareness there is no thought, feeling sensation or perception. It is aware knowing being. It illuminates all experience.
We cannot see awareness but it allows us to understand experience. Like the sun and light. We cannot see the sun, but it renders all objects visible.
In this space of open, empty and luminous presence of awareness. Thoughts, feelings, ideals and sensations are not what I am, they are what I know.
A thought just flows by, just as a sound we might hear. We are not our thoughts, we are a borderless space of aware being in which thoughts, feelings, sights, etc appear. I experience the sound, but I am not this sound. I know my feelings but I am not my feelings. I know my thoughts but I am not my thoughts.
Nothing can disturb me in this essential nature of pure awareness. Our essential nature is undisturbable peace under any circumstance and conditions. We can’t make it happen, we are inherently always peaceful.
The third possibility is not to know oneself as the open empty space of awareness in which the appearances of the mind body and world appear, but to know oneself as the knowing with which all experience is known.
Notice your thoughts and allow them to appear. See that all there is to those thoughts is the process of thinking. Now see that all there is to thinking is the knowing of it. If we were to try and touch what thinking is made of, what do we find? Just transparent knowing. You are that knowing.
What we consider thinking as mind, is made out of pure awareness. Mind doesn’t exist independently.
Notice your body, the experience of sensation in different parts. All there is to this sensation is the experience of sensing. Try to touch the stuff that sensing is made of. What is the substance out of which the experience of sensing is made. Don’t go into thought, or the past ideas. Is there anything there other than the knowing of it. It isn’t from mind or matter, but is made of pure luminous empty awareness.“
I plan to come back to this over time, and see if I gain more insight and begin to experience and know more about what Rupert Spira talks about.