I want to take a moment to discuss the layer beneath the instrumental layer, the subjective. Recall that Patanjali, the compiler of the yoga sutras discussed three distinct modes of awareness that he terms the objective, the instrumental, and the subjective. We have discussed the objective and instrumental quite a bit so far. Time to take a look at the subjective.
For many years I used to follow a form of vichara (the practice of moving in) dedicated to asking the question "who am I"? I won't say it wasn't an interesting journey of investigation but years later I have come to question "why"?
In other words why ask that question? It is funny and very strange to me that the very question contains within itself an axiom. It contains within itself an assumption. That there is an I. That someone can ask the question. I remember my mind continually annihilating itself trying to "get somewhere" with the answer... Quite funny really.
What do we really mean by I? When we examine closely, not so much to determine who I am (and definitely not trying to describe preference or personality) but if we examine carefully what we mean by I we come to the fact that there is a certain localization of energy that is presenting itself in this very time and space.
Localization. Even the best inquirers I have known in the world, even the ones who claim to not be the body, that claim to be just consciousness, all of these practitioners cannot escape their locality. I haven't met one that is omnipresent, omnipowerful, all knowing (can tell me and everyone else exactly what they are thinking and more).
Where am I going with this? There is a tendency in modern spiritual culture to overcome and move through the ego. To transcend the ego. What are we transcending? If there truly is no ego why do we even bother? What are we giving energy to?
In my investigations through long enquiry, I have found that ego is something that exists only on the objective level of mind. Nowhere else. Ego is a defined thought about a me, from which arises preference for this or that.
At the instrumental level does ego exist? Here in my investigations, there is only locality, localization in this time and this space. Nothing screams out "me". I don't see an "I" in locality. There isn't even really any definition. Pure seeing in itself, pure hearing in itself, pure sensing in itself involves no "I". But strangely there is localization in these pure acts of witness.
What is this localization of continuity that presents itself from moment to moment? Like I say, I have not met one practitioner who has overcome localization. I have heard tale of some but never met them.
Localization is interesting. It still is invested in self preservation of that very locality. Think for example of a time when you were in danger. The deep sensory localization most likely took over to remove you as rapidly as possible from the situation. This is witnessed all the time in the animal kingdom.
Even to expand into space with meditation on the subtler element, this localization of consciousness/bliss/energy/awareness always reforms itself around this local body phenomena. Could the body truly talk and move if not?
This localization to me is the subjective level that Patanjali describes in his yoga sutras. Not the ego. I used to think the ego itself was the subject but truly the locality is the common meeting point of all sensory instrumental level modes of experience.
To recap and summarize, I don't follow exactly in my own investigations the same track described by the samkhya. In my direct experience, the senses are prior to the objective mode of thought that many call the mind. Many traditions place this mind prior to the senses, a belief which I do not relate to. Ego for me dies with the mind. The continuity of awareness however precedes that and functions through the differentiation of the 5 elements which I witness as the senses. And all of these resolve into what I call locality or what we might call the subjective level of continuum.
There is more I would like to say on this, regarding how the continuum functions through the subjective, instrumental, and objective modes and about what lies beyond the subjective mode. Interesting questions about space and time travel as well. Also questions such as : is the locality truly a problem? More on that later.