Raman used to give a technique to his disciples: they were just to enquire, “Who am I?” In Tibet they use a similar technique, but better than Raman’s. They don’t ask, “Who am I?” They ask, “Where am I?” – because the who can create a problem. When you enquire, “Who am I?” you take it for granted that you are; the only question is to know who you are. You have presupposed that you are. That is not contested. It is taken for granted that you are. Now the only question is who you are. Only the identity is to be known, the face is to be recognized, but it is there – unrecognized it is there.
The Tibetan method is still deeper. They say to be silent and then search within for where you are. Go on in the inner space, move to every point and ask, “Where am I?” You will not find it anywhere. And the more you seek, the more it will not be there. And asking “Who am I?” or “Where am I?” a moment comes when you come to a point where you are, but no I – a simple existence has happened to you. But it will happen only when thoughts are not yours. That is a deeper realm – “I-ness”.
We never feel it. We go on saying I. The word I is used continuously – the most used word is I – but you have no feeling. What do you mean by I? When you say I, what do you mean? What is connoted through this word? What is expressed? I can make a gesture. Then I can say, “I mean this.” I can show my body – “I mean this.” But then it can be asked, “Do you mean your hand? Do you mean your leg? Do you mean your stomach?” Then I will have to deny, I will have to say no. Then the whole body will be denied. Then what do you mean when you say I? Do you mean your head? Deep down, whenever you say I, it is a very vague feeling, and the vague feeling is of your thoughts.
Established in feeling, cut from thoughts, face I-ness, and as you face it, you find that it exists not. It was only a useful word, a linguistic symbol – necessary, but not real. Even a Buddha has to use it, even after his enlightenment. It is just a linguistic device. But when a Buddha says I, he never means I, because there is no one.
When you face this “I-ness” it will disappear. Fear can grip you at this moment, you can be scared. And it happens to many who move in such techniques deeply that they become so afraid that they run out of it. So remember this: when you feel and face your “I-ness” you will be in the same situation as you will be when you die – the same. Because I is disappearing, and you feel death is occurring to you. You will have a sinking sensation, you will feel you are sinking down and down. And if you get afraid, you will come out again and you will cling to thoughts because those thoughts will be helpful. Those clouds will be there: you can cling to them, and then the fear will leave you.
Remember, this fear is very good, a very hopeful sign. It shows that now you are going deep – and death is the deepest point. If you can go into death you will become deathless, because one who goes into death cannot die. Then death is also just around; never in the center, just on the periphery. When “I-ness” disappears you are just like death. The old is no more and the new has come into being.
This consciousness which will come out is absolutely new, uncontaminated, young, virgin. The old is no more – and the old has not even touched it. That “I-ness” disappears, and you are in your pristine virginity, in your absolute freshness. The deepest layer of being has been touched.
The Book of Secrets