This is love: to fly toward a secret sky,
to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment.
First, to let go of life.
In the end, to take a step without feet;
to regard this world as invisible,
and to disregard what appears to be the self.
Heart, I said, what a gift it has been
to enter this circle of lovers,
to see beyond seeing itself,
to reach and feel within the breast.
— Jalalud’din Rumi – The Divani Shamsi Tabriz, XIII
You cannot possibly say that you are what you think yourself to be! Your ideas about yourself change from day to day and from moment to moment. Your self-image is the most changeful thing you have. It is utterly vulnerable, at the mercy of a passerby. A bereavement, the loss of a job, an insult, and your image of yourself, which you call your person, changes deeply. To know what you are, you must first investigate and know what you are not. And to know what you are not, you must watch yourself carefully, rejecting all that does not necessarily go with the basic fact: ‘I am’. The ideas: I am born at a given place, at a given time, from my parents and now I am so-and-so, living at, married to, father of, employed by, and so on, are not inherent in the sense ‘I am’. Our usual attitude is of ‘I am this’. Separate consistently and perseveringly the ‘I am’ from ‘this’ or ‘that’ and try to feel what it means to be, just to be, without being ‘this’ or ‘that’. All our habits go against it and the task of fighting them is long and hard sometimes, but clear understanding helps a lot. The clearer you understand that on the level of the mind you can be described in negative terms only, the quicker you will come to the end of your search and realize your limitless being.
— Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj – I Am Not – To Know What you Are, Find What you Are Not (p. 56)
When (other) thoughts arise, one should not pursue them, but should inquire: ‘To whom do they arise?’ It does not matter how many thoughts arise. As each thought arises, one should inquire with diligence, ‘To whom has this thought arisen?’. The answer that would emerge would be ‘to me’. Thereupon if one inquires ‘Who am I?’, the mind will go back to its source; and the thought that arose will become quiescent. With repeated practice in this manner, the mind will develop the skill to stay in its source. When the mind that is subtle goes out through the brain and the sense-organs, the gross names and forms appear; when it stays in the heart, the names and forms disappear. Not letting the mind go out, but retaining it in the Heart is what is called ‘inwardness’ (antarmukha). Letting the mind go out of the Heart is known as ‘externalisation’ (bahirmukha). Thus, when the mind stays in the Heart, the ‘I’ which is the source of all thoughts will go, and the Self which ever exists will shine. Whatever one does, one should do without the egoity ‘I’. If one acts in that way, all will appear as of the nature of Siva (God).
— Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi – Who Am I? – 11. What is the means for constantly holding on to the thought ‘Who am I?’
Selfishness is not living as one wishes:
it is asking others to live
as one wishes to live.
— Oscar Wilde
What determines the true worth of a man
in the first place, is to what degree
and in what sense
he has attained liberation from “I”
— Albert Einstein
Your direct insight tells you that yourself you know first, for nothing exists without your being there to experience its existence. You imagine you do not know your self, because you cannot describe your self. You can only say: “I know that I am” and you will refuse as untrue the statement “I am not”. But whatever can be described cannot be your self, and what you are cannot be described. You can only know your being by being yourself without any attempt at self-definition and self-description. Once you have understood that you are nothing perceivable or conceivable, that whatever appears in the field of consciousness cannot be your self, you will apply yourself to the eradication of all self-identification, as the only way that can take you to a deeper realization of your self.
— Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj – I Am That – p. 517-8
The human spirit has always been in search of the infinite, to see and hear and know what is unseen, unheard and unknown. But, all along man’s search has remained directed to the exterior regions only – the vast expanses of land, oceans and the sky. Few have cared to peep into their own internal regions, their heart and mind and soul. Fewer still have realized that it is only through our inner consciousness that we experience what is outside. For a pilgrimage into one’s interior, into one’s own self, it is not necessary for one to be a learned man or a religious man, nor is it necessary to seek the help of a spiritual guide or guru. What is needed is a radical change in one’s attitude towards life, beginning with the dispersal of ego. And no bookish knowledge, no spiritual guide can be a substitute for such a deliberate inward orientation. With the dispersal of ego the basic duality between the self and not-self, abam and idam, progressively disappears and a new realization of I am that dawns – I am that. I am the cosmos. I am Brahman. My body is a micro-cosmos in constant change, yet maintaining a changeless design-pattern, as in the case of the cosmos, which is both a living unity and a bewildering diversity, like myself.
— Sudhakar S. Dikshit – I am All (p. 17-18)