What is Our Essence – January 31 2021

What is Our Essence – January 31 2021

Wisdom is knowing I am nothing,

Love is knowing I am everything,

and between the two my life moves.

Nisargadatta Maharaj


es·sence 1. the basic, real, and invariable nature of a thing.

Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc.


What is our essence – the thing in us that never changes? Certainly not our thoughts or our feelings. The very nature of thought is its movement – from one thing to another to another, each new thought triggering the possibility of a hundred more; and, what I think about a given subject is going to change depending upon the circumstances of my day, what I’ve eaten, whether or not I’m feeling loved, etc. 


My feelings (very much subject to changing along with my thoughts) are a flow of body sensations that are meant to help me in my process through the physical world, indicating I like this, I don’t like that, I feel safe here, I don’t feel safe when you do that, etc. Never, ever do our feelings stand still.


Our opinions and beliefs change. Democrats become Republicans. Meat eaters become vegetarians. Smoking used to be accepted behavior nearly everywhere, and now it’s not allowed even in bars. Driving while drunk is a shame-worthy crime. You may say, well of course. Smoking is wrong. Drinking and driving is evil. But it’s not so long ago that we were smoking on airplanes, and where I grew up, you were almost expected to be able to drive drunk. If you couldn’t, you were somehow less of a man.


It’s not our body. I look in the mirror. This body is not what it was 20 years ago. And it will be utterly different in another 20 years. And then it will pass away. Is that what I am?


This is the process of neti neti—the ancient practice of ‘I am not this, I am not that.’ What we are cannot be named. It can only be described by what it is not. It cannot be captured in our minds, it cannot be represented in any way.


And it cannot be seen, because it is the place from which we see. We can only be this thing. We are this essence that is other than our body, our thoughts, our feelings, our opinions. 


If we really could accept this truth now, in this moment, our entire life would change in an instant. Worry would leave us. Fear would vanish. Neediness would melt away. Love would fill and overflow from us and only love would flow back in return. Because this essence of what we are is The Self, and the Self is not separate from Totality. The Self is Totality; and if I am Totality, if I am the one thing, there is nothing to fear, nothing to need. Fear requires the sense of “other” in order to exist. If I am the one thing, there is no “other.” Need requires lack. If I am Totality, by definition there is nothing I don’t have.


We could know this now, in this moment. We only need to cease ignoring it.


Today I will ask myself what is it that is aware of my thoughts, aware of my feelings, aware of my urges, but separate from all of it. I will ask, who is the witness of all these things?

Roses on a Bed, tintype