Just understand what this ‘I’ is first. The ‘I’ is not a thought. Till one holds ‘I’ as a thought he will not be able to understand and assimilate Non-dualistic truth. As one goes deeper in self-search he becomes aware of the fact that, the ‘I’, mind, duality, universe, illusion, waking and dream.
Thought, thinker and the world are nothing to do with the formless witness. The witness is that witnesses the thoughts, the thinker and the world together. The thoughts, thinker and the world are one in essence. And also the three states are one in essence. That essence is consciousness. The consciousness (soul) is the innermost self. The consciousness is the ultimate reality or Brahman or God.
’I’ is not self and self is not 'I '. 'I ' is bound by form, time and space. Without the form, time and space 'I' cease to exist. Holding, ‘I’ as self, one remains in the clutches of duality. When there is duality then there is ignorance. Ignorance is cause of experiencing the duality (illusion) as reality. One, who identifies the Self as 'I', will not be able to cross the threshold of duality. There is no point in saying 'I ' or 'I AM THAT' because the 'self' is that which witnesses the 'I ' and the world together without the physical apparatus.
The illusion is present in the form of ‘I’. ‘I’ is present in the form of mind. The mind is in the form of the universe. The universe appears as waking or dream and disappears as deep sleep. The individual experiences of birth, life, death and the world are within the waking experience. The dream is a parallel waking experience and waking is parallel dream.
Deeper self-search reveals the fact that the, self is neither the waking entity nor the self is the dream entity but the self is formless soul, which witnesses the coming and going of the three states in succession without the physical apparatus. This has to be mentally grasped and assimilated to realize the formless soul, the innermost self is nothing to do with the three states. On the standpoint of the formless soul, the innermost self, the three states are mere illusion.
Think and reflect deeply and realize:-
The Self is not the ‘I’. The ‘I’ is present in the form of mind. The mind (I) is present in the form of the universe. And the universe (I) appears as the waking (I) or the dream (I) and disappears as deep sleep. The duality (I) is present only in waking or dream. The duality (I) is absent in deep sleep. That is the duality (I) is present when the nonduality is absent. The nonduality is the nature of the soul. Therefore, the soul becomes mind (I). And mind (I) becomes the soul. The soul and mind (I) are one in essence. That essence is the soul which is present in the form of consciousness. The consciousness is ultimate truth or Brahman.
Non-dualistic truth is the supreme truth. All dualistic systems hold ‘I’ as self. They limit the ‘I’ to the waking entity (ego), which is the false self. Thus they hold the false self as real self and false experience (waking) as reality.
Non- dualistic wisdom is the culmination of all systems including theistic non-duality. A Gnani will not quarrel and argue with any theoretical philosophy because he is fully aware of the fact that, this orthodox theistic non-dualistic scholars or pundits like Dualist sages could not distinguish between ‘I’ and ‘formless witness.’ The 'I' was the witness. Their highest was the Jiva. They are so much attached to the 'I' that they do not want to think that 'I' does not exist. Again they are unable to detach the ‘I’ from the Real witness.
The earliest ancient sages used the word ‘I’ to the witness of the three states not to the ego as moderns use it and think the ‘I’ without the body is self. The seeker has to understand the fact that the fact that ‘i’ is not the self but the witness of the ‘I’ is the true self, which is eternal.
People think that the ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’ is something different from the mind. They believe that the mind is really two. This is the confusion among religionists and intellectuals. If ‘Soul’ has any meaning, if ‘spirit’ has any meaning, so long as one thinks of them, they are merely ideas. No, Mind is the highest: it is consciousness, non-dual wisdom.
The individual is a bundle of memories, desires within the waking or dream. The memories and desires are part of the duality. Therefore the individual self is entirely part and parcel of the mirage. Peoples ideas of that they will go to some world after death, some astral plane or religious heavens will disappear as nonsense with the disappearance of belief in the reality of the ‘I’.