Author Ray Brooks on the awareness of saying ‘I am’. Ray’s new book – The Shadow That Seeks the Sun – is published in February by Watkins Publishing.
In all the many countries I have travelled to, in all the communities I have visited and all the people of different faiths and ideologies I have met, I have found only one point that all agree on. When asked the question, ‘are you aware?’ not one person said they were not aware. When asked this question, they simply stopped, looked, then answered from direct experience. In that timeless moment of looking, each and everyone, from all walks of life, referred to themselves as ‘I’. When asked how they knew that they were aware, they paused, as if searching for the answer, then, when no words came, answered ‘I just do’. Only after giving this answer did they then slip into thought to attempt to explain the unexplainable.
Their next question is usually “Okay, so I know I am aware, this is obvious, but how does this help me to know peace and happiness? How does this stop the fear and insecurity that is constantly nagging at the back of my mind, even when I’m happy?”
The knowing that ‘I am’, the ‘I just do’ (direct experience) is your natural state of being. It is peace and happiness, undistracted, undisturbed by objects or thoughts. It is without ideas of fear or insecurity. It is who you are prior to the intrusion of the mind. This unexplainable ‘I just do’ (direct experience) is overlooked in favour of the activity of thoughts and objects.
We, this wordless sense of ‘I am’, is free of the mind, it is peace and happiness itself.
Right here, right now, as you read these words, what is true for you beyond any doubt? What is the one ‘thing’ that cannot be denied? That which is shared by all. Isn’t it the certainty that ‘you are’? This very sense of presence that goes by the name ‘I’. This presence is here before any qualifications, before we separate into the belief that ‘I am a Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or Hindu. This ‘I am’ is not an abstract concept or idea. This presence-awareness is the ground of all faiths. It is what knows these words you are reading. It is what knows all experience and what is changeless in all changing experience. The only way to miss it, is to search for it. It is here before we stop to look and see it is here. Look now! Could you ever say ‘I am not?’
To look and directly see that you are aware needs no thought or outside agency. The mind is not involved with all its struggles to seek an answer to who we are. If you’ve stopped and looked, you’ve had a glimpse of your true nature—what the mind spends a life time seeking without any possibility of finding. If you look only for a brief moment you come to a place you have never ever left. It is your self. Look no further.
This is the one common home where, regardless of background, we can truly come together. What you long for at the deepest, and most private level, is what you already are. You are what you seek.
About the author: Ray Brooks, a writer, musician and recording artist is internationally know in the world of shakuhachi. He is the author of Blowing Zen: finding an authentic life, Ich ging weg der Zen Flote, and The Shadow that Seeks the Sun.