This book and the entire Neti-Neti Meditation process operates under one basic assumption: you are not your personality, thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, body, sensations, perceptions, will, or anything else that you identify yourself as, such as your gender, sexual orientation, job, your role as a parent, child, or sibling.
To borrow from the Upanishads, “You are That,” the completely indescribable Absolute that defies all definitions and limitations. How’s that for good news?
To assign any label to your true nature, even the Absolute, is to invite confusion. You transcend all concepts; in fact, it’s safe to say that whatever you conceive yourself to be, you aren’t.
We suffer because, like the limitless sky confusing itself with the transient clouds, we misidentify ourselves as our thoughts, or emotions, or personalities; when in fact, we are none of those things.
We are the vast, empty awareness in which all of those things arise.
The same applies to all beings and all of existence—all of reality is an expression of markless consciousness, which is your true nature. In truth, there is no ‘I’; there is simply empty awareness, void of all characteristics and qualities.
In the most practical terms, we can say that as a human being you are the intersection of the realm of form or matter and the Absolute, which is nothing other than primordial consciousness. As humans, we have the unique opportunity to realize our own limitless awareness, as consciousness realizes itself through itself.
Most of the time we think of consciousness as the TV screen in our heads that leads or follows our bodies around; it is a personal and private experience. For instance, when I am in the car, I am not in the vegetable garden. This, however, is a very limited view.
In reality, consciousness is vast, empty, and limitless—what many sages call Awareness with a capital ‘A.’ This Awareness, unlike in the car and garden example above, transcends location in space or time. It is the empty space or Ground in which the entire universe arises, abides for a while, and then recedes back into.
You are the empty, formless Awareness that not only serves as the backdrop for all of your personal experiences, but as the very basis for the entire universe. Understood in this way, Awareness is not separate from the world of matter; it is the fecund, formless Ground from which all of reality originates. In a sense, we can think of form as dense consciousness.
Neti-Neti Meditation, also called Transcendental Self-Inquiry, peels back all of those layers that we ordinarily identify ourselves with, in order to reveal our true, numinous, boundless Mind (notice the capital M). This process is based upon the ancient Hindu and Buddhist technique, which means, “Not this, not that.” For as the 20th-century Indian sage Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj taught, “In order to discover what you are, you must find out what you are not.”
That means investigating everything that you normally identify with as constituting yourself, and then negating or discarding them one by one. To use positive terms, that means recognizing that you are not limited to your thoughts, emotions, or body—that in fact, you transcend them all.
Naturally, the question arises, If I negate my thoughts and emotions and body, if I transcend my desires and personality, what am I? What remains after I’ve negated and transcended everything? Nothing?
The Buddha would remain silent. This is called his thunderous silence, not to be mistaken as implying anything, or even nothing. It expresses the great Nothing, or No-thing, because our true nature transcends THING-ness altogether. It is formless, limitless, empty Mind.
As best they can, sages avoid assigning words to the Absolute because it resists all categorization. It simply IS. The moment we try to pin it down into a conceptual category, we can safely say that It is NOT that.
This is the basis of Neti-Neti Meditation—negating all of the things that we falsely identify ourselves as, seeing that we transcend all of them, until only the Absolute Thusness remains.
If you are interested in reading more, Neti-Neti Meditation is available on Amazon. You can also visit my website www.netinetimeditation.com for more information about the Neti-Neti process.