Q: New students often say “I see that what I have taken as ‘me’ is just a flow of thoughts” But then, I am only zero—in fact nothing at all?
Swamiji: “I” that is awareness is always present in every thought. However, this “I” itself is free from the distinct characteristics of any given thought. The non-recognition of this fact leads to the mistaken notion of taking oneself to be not only the obtaining condition of the mind, but also of the body and senses. Thought flow does not constitute ‘me’. It constitutes only the mind and this flow has its origin, being and dissolution in awareness. Therefore, only the non-recognition of this essential basis of all thoughts creates a situation of divided reality such as ‘I’ thought and ‘this’ thought. This itself is confounded further by the thought ‘this is me.’
If thought existed independently without the awareness, there would be only one constant thought and therefore there would be no thoughts, much less a flow of thoughts. In the improper teaching of VedËnta, one of the mistakes is that a change in thought flow makes ‘me’ free from problems and therefore naturally I see myself as the thought flow. This false notion leads the discerning student to conclude that the removal of the thought flow that is ‘me’ amounts to zero.
In fact, every thought has two aspects – one is the awareness and the other is the form of thought. This is exactly like the water and the wave; one is real and the other is apparent (mithya). The non-recognition of the real causes the false attribute-bound, ‘me.’ The recognition of this fact is the release from the false problem.