Q: Sometimes I realize I exist (not the conceptual I) and in those moments things are sweet and nice and what is, is! It’s like waking up to a beautiful dawn (of course there is no one to wake up). However, suddenly there is suffering and I am back to the little I being ME. I am back to seeking, etc.
C: But where IS this I”? In deep sleep “you” are not there, yet the life of that organism lives without your being there at all. The exact same is happening in the waking and dreaming states, with the trivial exception of a thought coming and going, which out of insecurity or fear we attach to and identify with. That “I” thought DOES represent something. What does that “I” point to? Undeniably, YOU ARE and prior to any thought, that Existingness IS. It's the most obvious clarity. Overlooking that in favor of a thought story of a fictional "I" is the cause of all suffering.
Q: I have been baffled as to how you do self inquiry. I know you can ask, 'who am I' but I still am unsure if it’s an intellectual question or if it’s something to drop into presence during still moments. After reading the chapter on, 'how do I do self inquiry' in your book 'Paradise Found'. I asked myself, 'who’s asking' and then tried going deeper but I come down to being just IT or the BRAIN. This is where I get stuck. There is the sense that I am the brain and operating consciously from that and observing its thinking. Any ideas?
C: Read your own message again. Watch your own mind go I-I-I-I-I-I! Listen to your story of an “imaginary bound-up identity” and look right now: Is it real? Or is it a THOUGHT? Can a thought do anything? That “I” cannot really do self inquiry! How could a thought find it is not real? It’s tail chasing. Where is an "it" or a "brain" without words, concepts? All of which just come and go in Infinite Awareness, which you cannot "know" because you ARE That...
Settle in with the pointers rather than try to “do” your way out. There is ultimately NO way out for a "you" that is unreal to start with! That said, if some inquiry or whatever comes up by itself, fine. This is not about rejecting practice, nor about the “I” understanding its true nature. The “I” doesn’t HAVE a “true nature”!
Again WHERE is this separate entity with the label “I” that “gets stuck”?
There is no one in there so who would “do” some “practice"? Look at this: When you assume that what you are is a limited finite person, which you represent in language as “I”, or “me”, you reinforce that assumed identity by taking up this or that practice to perfect this finite persona. But if that practice assumes you are a separate identity how could that practice allow you to transcend that false persona? That is like turning the dirty cop in the precinct out to catch the dirty cop in the precinct. And yet it appears to happen. That’s the paradox of this, which the mind cannot ever grasp because the “mind" is only a thought! Can a thought grasp thought?
Q: Also, I have been thinking of meeting you. I know you live far away (I am in MD) and was wondering if it is possible to meet you in person some day?
C: You are welcome to come any time. However there may be no particular advantage in a face to face ... I found on meeting John Wheeler that his writings were actually more potent in a way owing to the absence of perceptive distractions! Same for our phone talks wherein he set it all straight in relatively short order, ending a three decades long search that until meeting John, had produced only more suffering and endless frustration! But I am still always happy to hang out with John!.
Shall we keep this real simple? You say "I exist" but in actual FACT, can you find, in REAL and actual nonconceptual experience, any such existing entity? This is a deeper look into this. Where is any I that exists - ACTUALLY? In simply terms, "you" do NOT exist.
Yet existence appears as all of this - space and apparent content of space - in the timeless Dream Of Oneness.
The final question sometimes appears as "who is asking 'who am I'?" But that question has NO answer. That blankness you describe IS the actuality of infinite being, infinite space, and infinite love.
Who or what is claiming a flip flop, me-and-BE? These are but energy arising as thoughts in Silence and these are never apart from The Silence, are they? This Silence is the Heart, the Substrate, of Consciousness, arising as that life force that makes the body live. Your problem is that you persist in identifying Consciousness as that body-brain-mind machine with it's, thoughts, feelings, experiences, senses, and perceptions. Of course again we come to a paradox: You don't do that! If you were doing it you would assuredly STOP doing it as it brings suffering!
So WHO or WHAT IS doing all this? That is the unanswerable question. Ask YOUR SELF, "What is That which I don't know that I don't know"?
Ponder this from Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj: "What makes you consider yourself a person [with its flip flops etc.]? Your identification with the body. Will this individual personality last? It will remain only so long as long as the identification with the body remains. But once there is a firm conviction that you are not the body, then that individuality is lost. It is the simplest thing, as soon as you have this conviction that you are not the body, then automatically, instantaneously, it is realized that You (the Real One) have always been the manifest totality.”
That manifest totality IS your Original nature, already complete and Presencing as the space-like Awareness IN which all that is manifest appears. The point being that Space and Its Content are of Single Essence - Aliveness arising from Nowhere and translated by language as I am, I exist.
Ponder this: You do not exist, and yet, YOU ARE. Nothing/Everything, Wisdom/Love. And your Original Nature is that which is Prior to language. The closest language can come to That is, Being - What I don't know that I don't know. And what You ARE is the Know-ING of THAT.
One without a second, Not Two; pointers to what IS.
That is YOU in Essence.
Form Is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form… like The Man said!