who is it that realizes who you really, really are?

— who is it that realizes it is consciousness and you are the egoic self?

photo credit: Brandon Nickerson

Vic Shayne
The Self is a Belief: the idea that causes suffering

Is it possible to see what you really, really are? This is no question to be dismissed with a quick answer or even an answer that is based on learning and “expert” opinions. It is only to be known by way of direct observation; and in this observation arises the question of who or what is doing the observing.

If I sit quietly and observe the mind, can I be limited to the mind, or does this act of quiet observation imply that there is something greater than, or outside of, or beyond, the mind itself? Is the observer of the mind the mind or is it something else? And what if you spend so much time and attention on this act of observation — what can be determined as truth? Do you know? Have you done this? Again, we’re not talking about an opinion, an educated guess, something an expert has said, or that which has been learned by way of secondhand information.

the egoic self is deluded
The sense of the egoic self, which is the “me” that is created by way of psychological conditioning to believe it is an independent entity full of attachments and identities, is an illusion. The self is made only out of thought, out of ideas, fears, desires, and memories. Therefore it is an image and not a reality; it is an image of a singular point of perception coming out of the brain and body while trying to relate to a world “out there.” It doesn’t realize that it is the world out there.

When the self observes itself then it does so without any independence from itself; this is obvious even by way of logic. But the self cannot observe that which is not itself, because it makes an image of beings, things, and phenomena; and this provides only a skewed perception of reality. When the self sees another person it does so as if that person were separate and different. It’s fooled by its own body and the body that it’s trying to relate to. When a newborn baby is unable to distinguish between itself and its mother, or anything else, it is closer to the truth than the forty-year-old man who sees everything as being separate from himself.

who am I? what is I?
We use the word “I” frequently and without much forethought or consideration; it just arises like a reflex when we speak and think. We don’t hesitate to use it, because the attention is not on who the “I” is or how the word “I” was created. Instead, the attention is on that which the “I” senses, which is perceived to be away, and apart, from the “I” itself. In other words, we go through our lives, unless something significant happens to change things, ignorantly paying attention to the object without ever considering the subject. The subject is the source of the “I.”

But what happens when you seriously and persistently enquire into the “I”? And, who is it that is doing the enquiring if it is not the “I” of the egoic self? Is there another “I”?

the “I” knows what it feels like to exist
To be conscious is to feel that you exist. Even if you don’t know it, you feel it. In writing this sentence, we come to realize that it is impossible not to include the word “you.” But we can state this another way by saying that when I am conscious I know that I exist. However, the “I” that knows it exists is not necessarily the “I” that identifies as the egoic self. It’s a different “I” — the “I” of consciousness. The egoic “I” says, “I exist” out of ignorance, but the “I” of consciousness does so out of awareness. The “I” of consciousness comes to realize that there is no way to explain what it is. This is the reason the god of the Torah (commonly called the Old Testament), who is a personification of consciousness, proclaimed, “I am that I am” — in other words, “I exist and that’s all I can say about myself.”

the self cannot answer its own question
In ignorance of what it truly is, and motivated by curiosity or suffering, the “I” of the egoic self asks, “Who am I?” But it is only the “I” of consciousness that can ultimately provide a clear answer, because only through clear observation can the mind see beyond the egoic self and into an unalloyed, or unattached, sense of beingness.

here are some gold stars for you
If you are still with me at this point, I give you a lot of credit and five gold stars. I also would not want you to accept any of this as true, because for it to be true you would need to enquire into your own sense of self long enough to realize what you are. Only you can do this for yourself.

you are always consciousness
Here’s a statement that seems like a paradox: You are always consciousness even when you are the egoic self.

Let’s consider yet another layer to this whole idea of the egoic self and consciousness: Consciousness is ever the seer and observer. The problem, however, is that consciousness can be clouded by the egoic self so that this personality running around is deluded and so are most of the other people he/she comes into contact with.

Using an analogy, you can run clear water through a rusty pipe, and on the receiving end you will get a bucket of rusty water. HOWEVER, the clear water is still present within the rusty water. The pure, clear water still exists. If you were to take the bucket of rusty water to a special laboratory, the technicians could remove all the rust and purify the water, showing that the “good” water has been there all along. Upon pure observation, consciousness can see past the rust of the egoic self and become aware of what actually exists, including what it is. So, what is it?

the totality of all that is
Consciousness is the totality of what exists, including creation, destruction, desire, all forms, thought, expressions, phenomena, the will to express, compassion, and that which is aware of all of these things and more. Since all is consciousness, what consciousness observes can only be, and is only, itself. The egoic self does not recognize this at all, because it is too busy believing that it is a separate entity and not the totality. But if you were to remove the beliefs of the egoic self then consciousness would remain.

Since all is consciousness, what consciousness observes
can only be, and is only, itself.

who or what is the seer of itself?
Now we come back to our original question: Who is it that sees or observes what you truly are? It appears that the answer is consciousness, yet this is not apparent to one who is trying to observe from the point of view of the egoic self. Remove the preconceptions of the self and all that is left is consciousness as the observer. Therefore, we all are consciousness observing and interacting with itself.



…writer for 40+ years, mind/body practitioner, self-enquiry meditation, NY Times best selling author (https://amzn.to/2CeaSE), consultant, researcher.

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Vic Shayne

…writer for 40+ years, mind/body practitioner, self-enquiry meditation, NY Times best selling author (https://amzn.to/2CeaSE), consultant, researcher.