most ordinary, intimate and familiar experience there is. Everybody can say from their own direct experience, 'I know that I am', irrespective of the condition of their mind or body, or whatever is taking place in their environment. It is our experience that I am. 'I am' refers to our knowledge of our self before it is qualified by experience. Before we know that I am a man or a woman, of such-and-such an age, married or single, a mother, father or friend, before we know anything about our self, we simply know that I am. Before we know what I am, we know that I am. Everything we know about our self is added to the simple knowledge 'I am'. If we feel that our self is not clearly known as it essentially is, it is not because we do not know it but because we have forgotten or ignored it in favour of objective experience. We have become so accustomed to giving our love and attention to the content of experience that we have simply overlooked that which is closest and most familiar to us. To remedy this, we first make a distinction between the knower and the known, the experiencer and the experienced, the witness and the witnessed. Later on we will collapse this distinction, but for one who is lost in experience, who identifies with every passing thought, feeling, activity and relationship, it is first necessary to make the distinction.

Rupert Spira

from Being Myself