Don’t exist?

In advaita circles, it is popular to say that we don’t exist…

As usual, this gets really weird if it is just another belief. And it isn’t even quite true.

We do exist…

When there is a sense of an I with an Other, anchored in this human self, we do indeed exist in this way. It is experienced as real, and we act as if it is real, so it is definitely real to us.

This human self exists. It may be a part of the seamless world of form, and there may not be a separate I inherent in it, but this human self is definitely around, and as before, if we take ourselves to be this human self, then it is more than real to us.

We exist as what we really are, as this field of awakeness and form, as awakeness and whatever content of experience there may be. As this I without an Other.

And we don’t exist…

This human self is a seamless part of the world of form. It does not exist separate from anything else. It is similar to a whirl formed behind a rock in a stream. It is made up of the same water as the rest of the stream, the particular molecules making it up always changes, it has a definite lifespan, yet it is still there, clearly discernible.

There is no I with an Other inherent in anything, including this particular human self. An I with an Other does not exist anywhere, apart from in temporary experience.

As usual, we need to take our immediate experience seriously.

If there is a sense of a separate I here, then that is our starting point. That is where we are, so that is what we need to work with. Any journey starts where we are.

Also, any exploration of who and what we really are depends on taking our own experience seriously. It is one of our main tools and skills in the process. Trying to believe and make real something that doesn’t fit our immediate experience is only an exercise in strengthening that particular, opposite, pattern.

The same is true for our relationship to others. If they experience themselves as a separate I, as most do, then that is their reality, and that is where we need to meet them, no matter what is real to us. Anything else only shows our own lack of clarity.

Practicing working with ourselves where we are, and taking our own immediate experience seriously, is not only the most effective way for us to discover who and what we really are, it is also an exercise for meeting others where they are.

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