Via Negativa


‘Who am I?’ It is the oldest question in the book. In the tradition of the Via Negativa, the mystical question: ‘Who am I?’ is less important than the answerable question: ‘What am I not?’.

Out of a hundred dimensions, which ones should be investigated? That is up to you. But for me, the list of eight chosen below are all you need. Explore them and a hundred ancillary dimensions, layered and intertwined, will come under the high-beam. They focus on the typical presumptions of the Contemporary Man.

The sections in the pages were written at different times and in response to varying issues. I have put them together in a reasonably ordered sequence so that each section is coherent and complete in itself. They are meant as introductory material and are expanded upon in the posts [Shūnyam].

The list reads:

‘I am my Body!’; ‘I am my Thoughts!; ‘I am my Mind!; ‘I am my Consciousness!’; ‘I am my ‘Knowing’!’; ‘I am [my] ‘Being’!’; ‘I am the resident of my Logic’!’; ‘I am the resident of my Language!’.

The four pages titled: ‘Who Am I?’ simply go through the above list in the spirit of the Via Negativa.

As you read, carry with you the following which I have copied verbatim from ‘Formulating ‘0’:

The First Condition of Inquiry: Inquiry of ‘Object’ [concrete, conceptual, kinetic or other] must begin with the identification of the Subject doing the Inquiry and the laying bare of the platform from which he inquires. Else the entire Inquiry stands corrupted and diverted to desired, self-serving ends.

The First Axiom of Inquiry: ‘How do I know for certain that something isn’t behind me? By confirming with complete conviction that it is in front of me’.

The Axioms of Sight: ‘I cannot see my source of vision. Anything I see as my source of vision, by that very fact, is not my source of vision.

Read them, get back on the Meditation Mat, and Sit.

A search for Shūnyam without a Meditation Practice in place is a bad idea. Dhyāna, or Formal Meditation, an elemental, powerful and time-tested tool is the single-best practice to sight the Self-Loop, to grab the swirling cat’s tail.

Formal meditation as an investigative tool had its origins in the recognition of self-reference lying at the heart of almost every serious inquiry.

I continue to remain incredulous that self-referential paradoxes whether in Logic or Language or Mathematics can be investigated by learned professionals who have no basic training in Meditation Practices. Not the least. Most have never heard of it; and the few who have would wince if caught doing it.

It is, to cite from a section below: ‘to live inside the Dictionary, defining each word using another word, earnestly expanding my vocabulary of erudite ignorance. I go from page to page chasing my tail with no hope of exit.’

Meditation Practice is the cultivation of the act of ‘Seeing Straight’. The precise practice of seeing without blinking or winking. It is the ancestor of ‘The Scientific Stance’; the sustained aseptic posture of a ‘Disinterested Alertness’. The original laboratory. [It’s also why most formal representations of The Buddha have him in Padmasana.]

The track of the Meditator is fairly well-established. After a lengthy period of investigating conceptual and concrete Objects and repeatedly catching himself chasing his tail in braided, layered self-referential loops, his focus turns inwards towards the Subject, the Investigator himself.

This is the entry into the long hall of mirrors. The very slippery search for ‘Self’ by an assumed ‘Self’. Is there a real Subject? Or is it little more than Object confounded as ‘Subject’? No clarity is possible until you keep stepping back to see what is in front of you.

This ‘Backward Step’ terminates at True Nothing. And this coincides with; ‘The [Self-Scuttling] Sight-Insight [‘Observation-Understanding’] on the very nature of Sight-Insight’. The terminating act and event of investigative Meditation Practice.