“Who I am is neither receivable nor conceivable.” What does Nisargadatta’s response mean?
You have a thought: “I am beautiful.” Or another: “I am an American man.” You are not that nor are you any thought. I see an image of yourself. You are not that either. Anything that your mind can conceive you are not. Anything that the mind can conceive seemingly of itself is wrong. Who you are, therefore, is beyond the conceivable. Hence, who you really are is beyond all psychological, historical, cultural, social, economic, political conditioning. Set aside social constructionism, therefore.
Similarly, anything you can perceive or sense you are not. You perceive your body: you’re not it. You feel physical sensations: you are not them.
Similarly, whatever you feel about your body or your mind–you’re not either. Because there is no such thing as your here.
Do an inventory now. What are the ways in which we believe we can know ourselves? Through the conceivable and the perceivable! But then our method of investigation turns out to be entirely wrong from the start. The way we go about knowing thyself is erroneous!
What then? Notice how we say “I am X” or “I am Y.” Instead, let go of anything we think, feel, sense, or perceive after “I am.” Discard all X’s, all Y’s. Then we can, as Nisardagatta says, “Simply hold onto the ‘I am.'” But do not hold onto the “I am” in a verbal sense (conceivable again). Hold onto it nonverbally.
Why? Because the non-verbal “I am” is a portal to the Absolute, and the Absolute is who we really are.