RS1: You know, sometimes I wonder.
RS2: About what?
RS1: About myself. The classic questions, ‘Who I am, where I come from and what I am doing here’
RS2: And what have you figured out from all this wonderment?
RS1: Not much, considering the infinite possible answers to these questions. But there is something I have noticed. I only seem to be able to find what is not the answer to these questions rather than an answer.
RS2: So I guess all you need to do is to chip away all those that are not answers to your questions and finally you will be left with answers.
RS1: Therein lies the rub, you see. I don’t think anything will be left at all. Take the question, ‘Who am I?’ for instance. After eliminating, obviously the possibility of me existing outside my body, I can start eliminating parts of my body which I can survive without. Eventually I am left disembodied, so to speak, and yet I am no closer to knowing who I am.
RS2: I think you are going about it entirely wrong. The very question ‘Who am I?’ is absurd because the moment you are asking this question, you are trying to split yourself into two. The subject and the object he is trying to pursue. This is the fundamental fallacy which is troubling you. In the case of this question, the subject is identical to the object he is pursuing.
RS1: Are you suggesting that there is no answer to this question?
RS2: Yes, there can be no answer to this question. The very act of enquiry is purely intellectual and proceeds by thought. The medium of thought is language which is a logical construct based on the assumption that the subject is always separate from the object.
RS1: So all the people who have claimed to have found answers were lying?
RS2: No. No Buddha ever claimed to have found ‘answers’. Those were the words we used to describe their state. All that those mystics and ascetics ever said is that it is possible to know oneself and that state of knowledge is ineffable. What they mean obviously is that you can only experience yourself as an irreducible subjectivity which cannot be expressed by objective language.
RS1: But aren’t we all experiencing ourselves all the time? What is so special about their experience?
RS2: Are we really? Think about it. What we experience normally are perception, conceptions and emotions. Perceptions are the sensory inputs to our brains; conceptions are the mental projections and manipulations of perceptual memories and emotions, the hardwired responses to perceptions and conceptions. All experience is a combination of one or more of the above.
RS1: So all we have to do is to change our focus from these experiences to that which underlies them and then we shall know ourselves, right?
RS2: Maybe. Some people do recommend it but I think that would lead you back to where you began with all the frustrations. There is however, one more way, rarely preached and even more rarely practiced. All one has to do is to slowly stop seeing the world as a differentiated experience, until finally all differences merge and one is left with a single subjective experience. Practicing this is as difficult as it is easy to understand. The theory behind this is that what we are, is not just what underlies all experience but also the very substance which constitutes these experiences.
RS1: Isn’t that contradictory in a way? I mean, what we set out to do is find ourselves and we end up losing all identity and this is the way you say we can know ourselves?
RS1: I mean what does that imply? If we accept that state as our true self then what are we now?
Doesn’t that mean, you and I are illusions now? You know, like a unified electric field separated into two complementary Random Signals.
Random Signal 1: What’s so funny?
Random Signal 2: Who do you think you are talking to?