We Are Certain Of Two Things…

1. We are, without any reflection or consideration, certain of two things:

2. One is I am. The other is that there is experiencing (thinking, hearing, touching, tasting, and so on).

3. Anyone who tries to deny the fact of experiencing is evincing experience (i.e., is experiencing) in that denial: he is thinking, then speaking, then feeling sensations (like the hotness of what’s usually termed “anger”), and so on. (However, we’ll see below how THIS is beyond experiencing.)

4. Now, I am can be regarded as “conscious presence.” And so, anyone who tries to deny I am must (a) be in order to advance that denial and (b) must be conscious while the denial is being advanced. So, experiencing is as undeniable as I am.

5. Next, it can be asked, “What is the relationship between experiencing and I am?” And the answer is: experiencing is that which appears to I am (where I am now is in the mode of witnessing awareness). That is to say and quite roughly so, experiencing is the object while I am is the subject. The subject–I am–is not the object.

6. Finally, we can come to see about how “all the trouble” begins. The trouble begins when I am mistakenly takes itself to be that somebody who is experiencing this. This is, of course, the apparent birth of the ego (“apparent birth” because the ego doesn’t actually exist yet it appears to exist just so long as it is believed in). “I am that somebody who is thinking, feeling, hearing, etc.”

7. The point of the nondual inquiry is to “go back the way you came” (Sri Ramana): undo the apparent “knot” holding the I am to the this (or experiencing) and then keep going back until the I am dissolves into the ultimate, unnamable THIS. THIS is beyond subject and object, prior to I am and experiencing.

Don’t Take The Kick

Shri Ranjit Maharaj has a very idiosyncratic way of teaching Advaita Vedanta. Consider but two instances (among many others) of his vivid references to “the kick”:

A realized person doesn’t get the kick, the world is there, but he has no kick of it.

Kick is the worst. The world is nothing, but the kick of the nothing is so strong. It never leaves you.”

(Illusion Vs. Reality: Dialogues with Shri Ranjit Maharaj, p. 142, p. 151.

What is this business about “getting” or “taking the kick”?

Your original nature is not touched by any occurrences. How, then, can we describe our apparent involvement in it?

Of course, we can appeal to maya, or the veil of illusion, but what might allow the teaching to come to life in our hands?

Perhaps the use of metaphor. When you get involved in a neighborhood or a social media soap opera, it certainly feels as if you’ve (a) taken the kick as well as (b) gotten your kicks. In the sense of (a), you got kicked: you took yourself to be a somebody and, in consequence, were not only kickable but were actually kicked. By virtue of apparently being somebody, you fell into participation in the drama; that move into participation is a first kick (a real wallop), and the subsequent entanglements in the ups and downs of this drama feel like so many more kicks (a real whooping). In brief, to get kicked is to experience what smarts. This is an especially colorful description of dukkha.

In the sense of (b), you find yourself overly fascinated with, indeed fixated on the world that is actually nothing (asat in Sanskrit). Here, you’re getting your kicks (like “getting your rocks off”) without realizing the steep price you’re paying for being able to kick. Fascination is the fever of the illusion, and as long as the fascination lasts, the drama will be believable and seemingly real.

It’s the last bit about what’s seemingly real that needs to be called out here. A kick, in the senses of (a) and (b), is a metaphor for the reality effect, the feeling that “the world” is “real” just because it keeps packing all kinds of punches. You seem to keep feeling it as you keep seemingly getting more and more involved in it.

The way out? See not just that you can’t be kicked but also that you have no legs. Realization (moksha) means can’t even possibly give or get the kick.

In The Nondual Teaching, There Is No Problem


There is no problem. Therefore, you can stop hunting for a problem (and thus for something to improve). Therefore, you can rest in and as Awareness.

But, nonetheless, if there is a thought that arises and if that thought seems to ‘defensively’ say, “There is no problem,” then it’s worth investigating the matter more closely. Is there physical tension? Is there any emotional contraction? Are there any recurrent thoughts? What the inquiry reveals is that, yes, there really is no problem. Verify this each time–and only as needed.

But isn’t this complacency?” Who’s asking the question? See.

For when there really is no problem, there’s only relaxation. I am relaxation. Nothing disturbs My Being.


Existentially speaking, it doesn’t really matter whether the personality becomes anything at all: more beautiful, more loving, more sattvic, and so on.

I am not that. And I know this in my bones. 

So, I leave the personality alone. I quit poking it. I love it as it is. Or, what is the same thing, witness it as it rises and moves.

I am untouched either way. I remain Myself.


To Understand that it doesn’t matter whether the personality becomes anything better, I need to let go of any hope that it will. And of any fear that it won’t. 

It doesn’t matter–and this is not nihilism. It’s love.

I know, beyond words, that there is no problem. The Understanding is what I rest in. That is all.

I Want, I Know, I Do

While there are quite a few ways of seeking to conceptualize what the ego-self is, I’d like to offer a very simple, straightforward one.

Ego can be analyzed in the following terms:

  • I want.
  • I know.
  • I do.

The I, apparently static and unified, somehow selects and then identifies itself with desiring; likewise, with the act of knowing; and with the act of doing.

Therefore, the teaching says:

  1. Desire is the seed of misery. Understand that you lack nothing. Abide as the desirelessness that you essentially are.
  2. You know nothing. What you are is neither the knower nor the ignorant one.
  3. You are not the doer. You do nothing. What you are is anterior to doership.

To cut swiftly through all three misidentifications, which are shot through with the rajas guna, the teaching may simply say: “Keep quiet. Just be still.”