I would immediately ask, “where are you looking?” And then follow that up with, “what is looking?”

Looking anywhere or anywhen else than here and now would be pointless. The Self is here in this very moment. The whole idea of seeking means to look somewhere else and find in the future. When you seek your keys, you look for it everywhere but where you are. You wouldn’t think to see if they are in your pocket. When you seek your keys, you expect to find them in the future…but not now. In this way, seeking is an egoic way of delaying finding…or more accurately, realizing what-is right here and right now.

Perhaps you might say, OK…I believe it is here and now, but I don’t see it. Then the question is, “what is looking?” It could be called Awareness or Consciousness, or it could be called the Self. That which is looking is the Self. The eye can not see itself. The sword can not cut itself. That which is looking can not see Itself. You will never see it…you are it. You can not turn the subject into an object. For the eye to see, it must have separation and some distance…a subject and an object. If there is no separation and no distance, you only have a subject that can not see itself (as an object).

It is like trying to smell your own nose. The odor of your own nose has always been there. As there is no contrast…here and not here…you can’t tell what the odor of your nose would be. That is another aspect of seeing or awareness…you need contrast or something other than it to recognize what is there.

If you are in a room where the air is not moving and there is no temperature changes in the room, do you feel the air? Do you realize you are under constant pressure? The atmospheric pressure is more than 14 pounds per square inch (at sea level). This is just under half the pressure of the average car tire. 30 psi will hold a car up off the ground. 14 psi is the pressure you are constantly under from all directions. And yet, you have never felt it. Why? Because it is constantly there and has been so since birth. The Self has been everpresent since before the birth of this body, so why would you be aware of it as some separate object that comes and goes?

So when you say you are seeking the Self…what are you expecting to find? For those who have realize the Self, it is not something definite…not something that wasn’t there and now is…that you can say “now I have found it!” I have sometimes described it as a pure potentiality…it is not nothing, but it is not something either. Changeless and ever changing. Or, like Bodhidharma, when asked “who are you”…answered, “don’t know”. The Self never becomes an object of experience and so it can never become an object of knowledge, so it is alright to say “don’t know”.

If you think you know the Self, it is not the Self. Any object of knowledge or any object of awareness is not the Self. These are teaching words. Of course, there is only the Self (including mind, objects, etc.)…but to realize the Self is often a process of negation. You negate whatever is an object (be it knowledge or awareness), so that you might intuitively realize the subject (that which knows, that which sees…or that which is prior to knowing/seeing).

This is also known as neti neti (“not this, not this” or “neither this, nor that”). It is one of the key elements of Jnana Yoga. An analytical contemplation helping a person to understand the nature of Brahman by first understanding what is not Brahman. Brahman is Atman…or the Self.

But it is important to remember while practicing neti neti, that the Self is ever here and now. There is no where or no when else to look. Also, don’t expect to find some object (labeled the Self) and then celebrate the finding of the Self. Realizing the Self is simply intuitively realizing what always has been, is, and will be…here and now. Realizing what-is already.

Author's Bio: 

Eric Putkonen is a modern-day house-holder yogi and lover of what-is...living in peace, contentment, and joy. He also writes a blog at EngagedNonduality.com. He also enjoys speaking with people...privately or at public talks...about nonduality and awakening.