Note: This satsang talk is copied from a transcript of Robert Adam’s talks. The PDF of the complete collection of his talks is available from this link (as of 11/1/’18; right-click to download). The audio for this talk (1991-02-21), recorded and transcribed by some students, is available as MP3 here.
A complete list of and all these satsang audios is at robert-adams.info here.
February 21, 1991
Robert: I welcome you with all my heart. It’s good to be with you again.
Once in my house nobody was home. I sat down in front of a picture of Ramana Maharshi and I stared at the picture. When I looked at my watch twelve hours had passed. What does this have to do with anything? Nothing, I have nothing else to say, so I thought I’d share that with you.
Something you should bear in mind, if you want to awaken and find peace, is that you can make certain statements to yourself, or out loud, which will help in the awakening process. One such statement is, “I am consciousness. I am consciousness.” Think of what that means. I am consciousness. All three of those words mean the same thing. When you say I am you’re not referring to your physical self. You’re referring to omnipresence, and when you say consciousness, again you are referring to omnipresence, to the Self. It’s like saying God, God, God. “I am consciousness,” means the same thing. They’re all synonymous, all of those words.
Now what is consciousness and what does consciousness mean? We hear all the time, those of us who have been practicing Advaita Vedanta, “Everything is consciousness.” Then are you consciousness? The way you appear does not seem to be consciousness, but you are. The word consciousness denotes a power that is conscious of itself. It is not conscious of you as a person. It is conscious of itself.
When you understand what this means you realize that consciousness is also another word for pure awareness. Pure awareness is consciousness. Just think of the word awareness. What does it mean? You are aware of something. You are aware that you are consciousness. All those words are synonymous. There is only consciousness as pure awareness, and I am that. Said with the right understanding this will immediately awaken you, to an extent.
Now when you realize that you are consciousness as pure awareness, it equals bliss. Now we have another word to ponder, bliss. I am consciousness, as pure awareness, expressing as bliss. That’s powerful stuff. You’re dealing with dynamite. If you say these words with sincerity you’ll disappear, you’ll evaporate. Think of that. I am consciousness, as pure awareness, expressing as bliss. Bliss is another word for consciousness and awareness. Those words cannot really be defined. They can only be experienced.
When you realize that you are bliss, you are no longer the body. You become something else completely. People see you as the body but you are not the body, and you know that you are not the body. You feel something so wonderful that in the beginning stages you start crying, you start laughing, all at the same time. The body does this. It’s an expression of bliss. Every cell of your body becomes bliss. Bliss is your real nature. Consciousness is your real nature. Pure awareness is you. Therefore as you ponder these things something definitely begins to change within you.
“I am consciousness, total awareness, expressing as bliss.” Now what does this do to you as a human being? It transcends your human experience. It lifts you beyond the relative world into reality. There is no explanation. You try to explain this to your friends. You cannot. As a matter of fact, you find that your friends disappear because they think you’re crazy. And you probably never needed those friends to begin with.
You begin to identify with the substratum of existence. You are no longer part of the world of effects. As you are aware, this is a world of effects in which we live. There is no permanency in this world. Everything comes and goes. To identify with the world is to suffer. Therefore to find the truth is to experience bliss. No matter what you may acquire in this world you still suffer. As long as you believe you are the body-mind concept this is what causes suffering, if only because of deterioration. As most of you know, as soon as you’re born you start to die. It’s therefore foolish to be satisfied only with a material existence. I realize even as I say this, if I wrote some of you a cheque for $100,000 [ed. I changed this from $10,000 for modern readers, inflation… 🙂 ] I’d probably never see you again, because you would think foolishly you’ve got something special. But that will be gone soon, or you’ll worry about it.
There is nothing in this world that can really bring you true happiness. No, I’m not a prophet of doom. I’m telling you the truth. It is only as you discover your true identity that the real happiness and the real joy begin to be expressed through you. You don’t have to wait until you are self-realized. Even if you believe that you are the body, still, just by understanding that there’s something greater, something higher, something more beautiful, begins to make you feel good. Or shall I say, as you dis-identify with the world, as you begin to disassociate yourself with identification of the world. I’m not speaking of leaving your job or going away from your family or changing anything at all. I’m speaking mentally. As you disengage your mind from worldly attachment, goodness takes its place, to that extent.
Say for instance, as an example, you really love your job. You’ve been working for fifteen years and you love your job. As long as you love your job something will happen to you to make you change your mind. Some kind of suffering will ensue. But if you realize, “This is the work I’m doing now, and I do this work because this is my karma, or this is where I find myself, but I am not that, I am consciousness, appearing as total awareness, expressing as bliss. That is my true nature.” As you begin to identify with the higher power your job will become more smooth and perfected than you can ever imagine. You’re no longer thinking, “I love my job.” You’re beginning to understand that you are an embodiment of love yourself. Love just is. It has nothing to do with the job at all, and you become happy. Happy not because you’ve got a job, not because you own a home, not because you’ve got what you want, but you become happy because you realize happiness is bliss, happiness is consciousness, and consciousness is all that there is. And everything takes care of itself.
So you see, you do not have to make any physical changes. You do not even have to question, “Shall I stay here or leave here? Shall I stay with this person or leave this person? Shall I stay in Los Angeles or go to San Francisco?” There is nothing you have to do but remember who you are. Isn’t that amazing? All you have to do is identify with your reality and everything will take care of itself.
The place to begin is your own mind. When you get up in the morning make that statement to yourself, “I am consciousness, appearing as total awareness, expressing as bliss.”
Do not focus your attention too much on your body, or on your work, or on your home, or anything else that has to do with the personal I, but lift up your thoughts. Your mind will automatically come to rest in the heart, all by itself, and you will experience bliss, all the time. You do not really have to think about these things. You simply have to remember. For when you voice, “I am consciousness,” you are speaking the truth about yourself. When you say I am John, or Mary, or Jim or Henrietta, you’re speaking a lie about yourself. And the lie pulls you deeper, deeper, deeper into materiality.
But when you say, “I am consciousness,” and you sort of ponder that for a while, all of a sudden you start to feel good, for no reason. You just became bankrupt, but you feel good. A family member died, you feel good. You just feel good.
I’m not saying you make a fool out of yourself, and say, “I don’t care what’s happening.” When you feel good the way I’m describing, spiritually good, you have a great compassion for everyone, for everything. You give out loving kindness to everything, to humans, to animals, to vegetables, to minerals. It’s all the same. It’s all consciousness. And finally it dawns on you, there’s a whole universe that is none other than myself. I am is the universe. Therefore from that moment on, when this realization comes to you, you understand that whatever you give outside of yourself, you are giving to yourself. If you give out hate, you’re hating yourself. If you give out love, you’re loving yourself.
Now speaking as a person who is just beginning to unfold, once you awaken completely there is no longer any hate, there is no longer any love, there is no longer thinking about giving out or taking in. There are no others. You just become silence. But on the path to that you see signs. You notice you are becoming kinder, more loving, more compassionate. So when a family member dies you have a great compassion, a great love, and you help the suffering family members. You do not say, “I don’t care.”
Many people take these teachings the wrong way. They believe they’re not supposed to care, I don’t give a damn, attitude, but that’s wrong. You just understand. You give of yourself completely, simply because you are the Self of all. There’s only one Self. That Self is consciousness, pure awareness, bliss. All the words are synonymous.
Therefore when you get up in the morning, think of these things. Start your day thinking of those things. The worst thing you can do in the morning is grab a cup of coffee and put on the TV. And you can see why. Because you’re influenced by what’s going on the TV. The TV becomes your God, or the radio, or the cup of coffee. Rather think of yourself, as consciousness. Think of the highest truths. Then if you need a cup of coffee you can drink the coffee while you realize the coffee is consciousness. If you want to watch the TV, as long as you realize the TV is consciousness it makes no difference. But until you can see it that way it’s better not to watch too much TV.
Think of how opinionated you are right now. You have your ways. You have your ideas, your opinions. You stick up for your rights. What rights? You’re simply sticking up for your ego. You want the world to know this is me, and you’re making a big mistake, because you’re inflating the ego. The ego gets bigger and bigger and you think you’re more important than anyone else.
So when you get on the spiritual path, many times life comes along and pulls the rug from under you. This is to make you understand that as a human being you’re nothing. It doesn’t mean a thing. This is why so many people tell me, “Robert, since I came to you things have gotten worse in my life.” And always I say, “That’s good. Now you’re beginning to make progress.” If humanly things got better would most of you take this path? Unfortunately not, let’s face it. The only reason most people come into spiritual life is because usually their life is all screwed up. (students laugh) Am I wrong? And they’re looking for answers, therefore that’s good. The people who are not here, their life is all screwed up, but they don’t know it yet. (students laugh) So you’re ahead of the game.
And again the reason things go wrong in your life when you’re on the spiritual path, is because of your meditations, it’s because of your practice. You’re bringing all of your past karma to the surface, not only from this life, but from previous experiences. It’s all coming up, only you have learnt how to handle it. Whatever happens to you, you don’t start crying like you used to do, or get upset, or get angry or get mad. Instead you ask yourself calmly, “To whom has this come? Who is experiencing this?” And soon you will say, “I am,” only you will realize that the I you are referring to, the personal I, is your ego. And you will conclude that only your ego is going through this experience, not you. And you’ll be happy. And when you become happy and you have not reacted, then that experience will be done with. You will not have to go through that again. The reason you go through experiences again, and again and again in your life is because you react. Whatever you react to becomes a part of your life.
But, let’s say you go home tonight and you find your house is burned down. If you say, “I am consciousness, I am absolute reality expressing as bliss,” and then you ask, “to whom does this come?” you will be safe. You will realize that this too shall pass. And you’ll probably wind up getting an insurance policy that you had, and you’ll get more than the house was worth. And you will have to move somewhere else, and you will find more happiness when you move than what you had before. In other words, everything is in your favor. There is nothing against you.
You must always remember this, that no matter what you’re going through, no matter what appears to have come upon you that you consider negative, it’s a blessing in disguise. Sounds strange, but true. It’s a blessing in disguise, believe it or not. If you handle it in the right way, and you work through it by not reacting to it, it will turn into something so beautiful you can’t imagine. I can assure you of this. But, if you react you may win, you may get your point across. That will only last a short while. Then you’ll have to go through the condition again and again, perhaps with other people, and you’ll never know why you suffer so much.
The choice therefore is yours. Whom shall I follow this day, God or mammon. God of course is consciousness. Mammon is the world. That’s the only freedom you’ve got, to make a choice whom you will follow. If you turn within yourself and realize your identity you’ll be safe. If you weep with the world, you will continue to weep. It will never end.
So you begin in the morning, and you try to remember during the day, “I am not the body, I am not my experience, I am consciousness, expressing as pure awareness. I am bliss.” And as soon as a situation befalls you that you don’t like, you ask yourself, “To whom does this come? To me? Who’s me? I am. Where did the I come from? What is the I? Who am I?” And you abide in the I, following it to its source. Its source of course is the statement that you just made to yourself, prior to that. “I am consciousness, expressing as pure awareness, resulting in bliss.” That is the source. In that source there is no personal I. In that source there’s nothing happening. In that source all is well and everything is unfolding as it should. That source is you, and you are the universe.
I’ll take questions. [I’ve only copied up to the part about silence]
S: Robert I have a question. These different ways that you teach like, “I am” and “I am consciousness.” I was wondering is it better to just stick to one instead of mixing “I am” with “Who am I?”
R: No not really. You know why? Because it becomes boring after a while for the average person. I’ve known so many people who have worked with “Who am I?” and they give it up after a month because of boredom. Nothing is happening. The human mind is made like that. It becomes bored after a while with anything.
So when you are working with “Who am I?” and you see that nothing is happening after a while, you give up the whole practice. But when you have something to fall back on and you can change then you will start seeing results.
S: But should one stay with one like what I’m doing “I am” sometimes the question “who am I?” also arises in between the “I am.”
R: Then work with that.
S: So it’s okay to work like that?
R: Of course. Make your spiritual practice simple.
S: Also in the “I am” is the “I am” stressed more than the silence? Or does the silence follow…
R: The silence is the I am.
S: That should be emphasized?
R: The silence is very important. When you say, “I am.” It is the ego speaking, the mind. When you are silence then you are in reality, consciousness. Consciousness is really silence. All the words I spoke tonight are from silence. Everything leads to silence. When you practice “Who am I?” the purpose of the practice is to become silent. If you are practicing it correctly after a while the “who am I?” stops all together and the silence becomes very strong. So silence is the greatest teacher.
*Mammon: the force that makes people try to become as rich as possible and the belief that this is the most important thing in life (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/mammon) “you cannot serve God and mammon” — Matthew 6:24 (Revised Standard Version)