What was your face before your parents met?
This question, and similar variants, were often posed by Nisargadatta Maharaj as a way to get us to drop our preconceptions and look to our Essence. Clearly, Nisargadatta was not referring to the physical appendage we call a face. What then is he pushing us to recognize?
When we start considering our Eternal Essence, our face before the concepts of eternity or essence, things seem to become very abstract, and we either give up or turn to imagination for the answer. Nisargadatta is not pointing to an imaginary or complicated answer. He is pointing to something so simple it is beyond the concepts of ‘something’ or ‘simple.’
St. Francis of Assisi gave us an incredible key to unlock the meaning of existential questions like these when he pointed out, “What you are looking for is what is looking.”
Simply stop, notice Awareness. Directly recognize unchanging Essence, which is beyond the concepts of ‘change’ or ‘essence.’ Awareness is beyond the concept of concepts and is the answer to Nisargadatta’s question.