P: I can have a sensation of the body, more or less subtle, with the thought "I" and a feeling of being associated with it. But through the experience of these phenomena, I realize that what I feel like my sense of being is itself seen by a witness in the background. So a new sense of being appears. I feel it like a kind of impersonal void where the thought “me-I” disappears. What practical advice would you give to this stage of the investigation?
R: EXACTLY! This is what the process of inquiry is all about. The disappearance of the personalinto the impersonal void has revealed a new sense of being. Now you need to trace the source of this impersonal void too. It too has appeared from somewhere. Hasn't it? If there is a witnesser,there has to be an origin or source too. You need to stabilize in that impersonal void at regularintervals in meditation. The witnesser will surely be revealed as ones sadhana intensifies andmatures.
P: Again, if I can be aware of this void-witness, is it that there is still a witness to this experience? The problem here is that the mind tries always to join him, to take his place, but, it cannot. I can only quietly observe the thoughts that appear and disappear into the void. At this stage, the union with the witness depends more on grace,or is there still a possible attempt which can overcome the gap and merge with the witness?
R: There is always a witnesser as long as something is witnessed/known/experienced. Only the Absolute cannot be witnessed as it is not an object. Everything else is still an object. Every sortof knowingness or experience is false in the absolute sense but very relevant in the relative senseas they are important milestones which indicate progress. Therefore experience shouldn't beundervalued. Yes, the mind attempts to converge to an idea you already have or an experienceyou have held in memory. The mind doesn't give up easily. Unless the mind is completely annihilated it will always try to kick back as it wants to survive. Staying in the void is only atemporary solution as the mind hasn't died. It will come back after the
ortemporary abeyance of the mind) is over. One therefore needs to trace the origin or source of the void too from where the mind arises without paying much attention to the movements of themind and then stabilize at that background for a long time. Only this will lead to
(annihilation of the mind). Persistence and surrender are the key factors. When is Grace not there? Even to ask these questions is Grace, to answer them is Grace and toread and understand them is Grace. What can work without Grace? Rather than looking forGrace it is better to know how to Surrender. Through persistent effort and surrender aloneGrace is recognized. Both effort and surrender are needed.
P: There comes a point in the practice, the sadhaka understands that "me-I" cannot remember "I AM". "I AM" remembers and liberates, not the effort of "me-I 'to be free. I feel that the only virtue of the effort is to lead to failure, inability, to see what Nisargadatta called his "nothingness", and so then to renunciation and surrender.The only fact of seeing that I am not free (me-I, the body-mind), to see that "me-I" is conditioned, it is not in itself an act of liberation?
R: Effort means there is an ego who is continuously striving for something. Pure IAM and egocannot co-exist together. Its only when ego drops can IAM shine. True IAM is effortless yet tohave this realization one needs to put on loads of efforts. Why did Nisargadatta hold on to hisIAM for 3 years with complete perseverance? Why does Ramana emphasize effort in sadhana?Hence Initially there has to be effort even though effort by itself can never reveal the SELF. Youmake a very valid point that the only virtue of effort is to lead to failure. It humbles you. It