"I" is The Obstacle
What is the obstacle to discovering Ultimate Truth?
There is a beautiful Sufi poem in Hindi:
Ek Bastu, Ek Bimb Hai
Main Dono Ke Beech
Jab Main, Main Se Choot Gaya
Sahib Rahyo Samij
Because I am here surrounded by all of the matter, when “I” look at it, every thing looks different.
But when I can come out from the grip of the “I” (ego)
Only God, pure existence, remains there in front of me.
What exactly is this poet talking about?
We can’t see the forest for the trees!
There is only one truth. Everything else in the world is just “matter”. Matter that quite frankly, doesn’t matter. Essentially, all matter is the same. Things may look, smell, taste, sound, or feel different, but that is just because our senses are limited. You see, when everything is distilled down to its pure essence, it’s exactly the same. Everything is energy to put it simply.
Because we are surrounded by matter and depend on our senses and our mind to experience our surroundings, everything we see around us seems to be unique. Even when we try to look more closely, dissect what we see, examine all of the components, everything looks different. Through our senses we cannot identify the Oneness that surrounds us. It is only when we can allow ourselves to separate from our mind and our senses, and experience the world through our TRUE self, the Atman self, that can we see that all is the same. And it is at that time that we can see and understand that this Oneness, this same existence, is God; Anand; Bliss; Truth.
The mind doesn’t even have the ability to register Oneness, because the mind can only see things in parts. The mind is just like a computer screen. It actually creates thoughts and images by putting together millions of pixels. So because of this, the mind is always dissecting everything that it gets from the senses into pieces, labeling those pieces, and filing them in our database for future reference. This is the job of the mind, and it serves a very useful purpose in our day-to-day existence!
What we all need to be constantly reminded of is that fact that “You are NOT your mind”. Every person is a unique soul; a pure soul that is temporarily occupying a particular body and mind. When you can learn to separate your true Atman self from your body and mind, you can begin to experience this Oneness.
This is what is meant by removing the “I”. This is referencing the “I” that we imagine ourselves to be; our ego. When we remove the ego, remove the mind, remove the body, then all that remains is the observer, the experiencer, the pure soul, the Atman self.
Essentially everything that you can say is yours is hence not you. So if you are holding “your pen” then you are not a pen, you are yourself and you possess a pen which is a separate entity. The same is true when you talk about your mind and body! So when you remove everything that can be declared as yours, and hence is not you, then you are left with the Atman self. This is your true I. It’s simple deductive reasoning!
So what the author is saying in his poem is that everything is one, but being entrenched in the worldly matter that surrounds him, he interprets everything as being different. But when he removes the ego and mind from his true existence, all that remains is the Oneness that is God or Ultimate Truth.