Connecting The Dots - Part 2
Updated: Mar 16
In this second part I keep talking about possible steps you might go through by taking the journey in becoming more and more conscious about yourself and the reality you live in.
"The purpose of life is to awaken and
become a conscious player
in its continuing growth and transformation"
- Christopher M. Bache -
In case you have not done it yet, I invite you to read the previous post "Connecting The Dots - Part 1" to have a better understand of what follows.
In the previous post I left you describing my realization that any experience, regardless its content, can be put on the same level and that the process of ownership of some experiences over others is an illusion given by the mind that labels some perceptions as "mine" an others as "not-mine". Through life, we have learned to identify our self with certain bodily perceptions, feelings and emotions but in reality those experiences are as mine as the singing of a bird or the sound of your voice. There is no anymore ownership over specific manifestations. There is total democracy across any kind of experiences.
What I thought to be before discovering the witness entity, was actually a mix of emotions, feelings, bodily sensations and concepts that all together were used to create an identity through the help of thoughts that were creating a narrative, a personal history referred as "my story" ("About Perceptions", "Trust Only Your Direct Experience"). I realized that the voice within my head was the necessary glue to stick together every movements happening in my body in order to give the illusion that life was happening to me as a physical human and to perceive anything else as "not-me".
Bear with me for a moment to grasp what I am talking about.
Do you agree that you can perceive a sensation in your feet, that is it possible to draw your attention towards that feeling? Do you agree that you can recognize the pain in your head during a migraine? Do you agree that you can feel the butterfly in your stomach when excited? Do you agree that you can keep track of the thoughts and images running in your head? Do you agree that any thought is traceable and identifiable? Do you agree that the voice that is happening right now in your head can be observed?
Who is doing it? Who is that something that you call "I", that is able to witness, observe, watch, recognize all these movements? Can you see that that something that you are is not a thought, it is not a memory, it is not a perception, it is not a feeling, it is not an emotion, it is not a voice, it is not a sound, it is not a movement of any sort? Can you find what is left?
Can you see that no matter how hard you try to catch this witness, no matter how fast you are, all you will be able to experience are movements of mind? Can you see that what you are is always a step ahead from what you previously were thinking to be? Can you see that you are prior to anything happening and perceivable? Can you see that this something represents the necessary element to allows any experience to arise and be experienced? Content or experiences come and go, but you do not. You need to be present all time to allow those movements to be experienced.
By searching for the "I" that is having those experiences, you will sooner or later realize that there is no physical one. The realization of no-self implies the realization that the ultimate subject of any experience, no matter its content, has no physical attributes and therefore cannot be pointed. What you keep calling every day "I" has no physical attributes: what we have learnt to identify as our self, it is in reality content that can be experienced and pointed by us. What we truly are sits beyond anything that can be known: thoughts, concepts, memories, bodily sensations, emotions, perceptions of seeing, touching, smelling, tasting and hearing.
How can you have this realization by yourself?
Sit and start a process of discarding whatever you are not. The idea is to eliminate anything that you can be aware of. This process is called "Neti-Neti". The "I" that I am cannot be any emotion of fear, anger, pain because I am aware of them. The "I" that I am cannot be any bodily sensations of being cold, warm, hot, excited, hungry, thirsty etc because am aware of them. The "I" that I am cannot be any thoughts, memory, inner dialogue, idea because am aware of them. The "I" that I am cannot be any perceptions of being able to see, taste, hear, touch and smell because I am aware of them.
Over months of such a practice and additional contemplation, I had finally discovered that my true nature is That which is aware of them, that what I fundamentally am has no specific form: no matter how closely I was looking for some physical attributes, I could not find any. The subject that is experiencing life is not anymore a human being: I can experience everything in life, not me as a human, me as Me. It is Me that is experiencing being a human and all the rest.
This single realization comes with a huge shift in perceiving and looking at reality. There is not anymore you as a human perceiving the world. There is You perceiving all you have previously discarded.
This realization was for me (as a mind) quite destabilizing and disturbing because many previous certainties felt apart and I felt a huge emptiness within me. My first natural response was a sense of indifference and negativity towards life in general. If my true nature was an "entity" with no attributes whatsoever and what I have been calling my body-mind was in reality an illusory identity, what was the point to achieve anything in life? What was the point of travelling and discovering the world? What was the point of following my dreams and passions? What was the point in life in general?
These are the words of someone facing a sort of depression and I cannot hide that for some times it was hard for me (as a mind) to find a meaning in doing anything at all. Even my relationship with close people was somehow affected due to my attitude in seeing people's problems as an illusion, as something that ultimately did not really matter. I had no capacity in being supporting to anyone opening up to me and looking for some help and words of comfort. Everything I could think about was "it is all an illusion, the you that is complaining is a non existing character".
Even though those thoughts are actually true, that is, each of us is constantly creating the illusion of being someone and all the problems that come with this identification, I felt I was still missing something out compared to what other teachings were talking about regarding the realization of discovering our true nature where more compassion and acceptance should be present. My arrogance in feeling that I had arrived whereas others were simply ignorant about everything in life had to stop because it was not taking me anywhere. There was some more work to do.
And by reading and listening to other people that went through these steps, I realized that those thoughts and attitudes were a self defense mechanism of the mind that was trying to stop me in going in the direction of looking deeper for my true self. How could I not realize it by myself? After discovering that I was not anything in particular, that I was the one beyond everything, mind included, why did I keep listening to the mind? Why did I keep identifying myself with the content of mind? It sounds stupid and obvious but trust me the power of mind is underestimate by most.
Mind is the character we think we are when we talk, when we share ideas with others, when we participate in life in general and it is extremely difficult to learn how to stop identifying with something that you thought to be for 20-30-40-50 years. It is emotionally and physically painful to stop and recognize that the one that lies, the one that wants to be right, the one that gets angry, that one that feels cocky is an activity called mind that is trying to survive in life by defending its own self agenda. And this activity is what most of people think to be, it is what is called "I", generating enormous suffering to them and to others.
The take home message for me was that deeper I had gone along this journey, sneakier my mind would have become to stop me in shading lights on its attempts in manipulating this journey. The sense of fear and negativity in seeing life being pointless and meaningless were tricks of mind in making me stepping back from discovering more about reality. They represented its way to survive, or better, they represent my way to survive: in this journey I myself, as a mind, was my worst enemy.
And thanks to this tough period I could make another important shift in consciousness: the suffering and negativity originated by my discovery of not being anything in particular was replaced by a sense of fullness by realizing that everything was me.
The witness entity that is beyond any possible experience is not separate from the experience itself, it is one with it. It is not an entity at all but another boundary and distinction created by the sneaky mind. If before mind was creating the distinction of me being a human being living in a world, it was now fooling myself in thinking to be an invisible entity experiencing the world and anything that I previously thought to be my body.
At first I shifted from thinking to be a physical human to be nothing at all, that is an entity with no form and attributes. Then, I shifted from being a no-self to be the Self, that is, everything unfolding in life.
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj once said: "When I look inside and see that I am nothing, that is wisdom. When I look outside and see that I am everything, that is love. And between these two, my life flows". When you will look for the one that is experiencing life you will not find no one, nothing will be present and at the same time, what unfolds outside this nothing is you manifesting in all different forms. And you as a conscious being can shift from one side to the other.
What we are is a paradoxical being that can be experienced, relatively speaking, from different perspectives: as nothing objectively recognizable, as a human being living in a world and finally as a wholeness of forms where no distinctions are present at all. The incredible discovery of this journey is that the sense of "I" is relative and as conscious beings, we are allowed to shift from a more expand form to a more constricted one, realizing that none of them can explain what we truly are.
Consciousness work helps us to learn how to move in all directions as a dance without being trapped in the illusion to be something specific. It helps us to embrace and accept in our life the sense of relativity of life in all its aspects including the more existential one such as the sense of "I", something that most of us have learnt to experience from a narrow point of view. It helps us to accept the fact that life is not guided and supported by rational and mechanical processes but mystical ones.
What is "me" and what is "other than me" is a mental distinction. It is a boundary created by the mind that does not exist. The creation of distinctions is what makes reality looks as multiple instead of unified, it is what created duality out of non-duality, it is what give rise to the existence of something out of nothing. The power of mind in creating distinctions, such as me and you, is what prevents to see the magic of life unfolding every single moment without physical entity being in control.
To better convey this possibility to shift from one side to another of life I would like to conclude this second part using the image of a pure white light crossing a prism giving rise to an entire spectrum of colors. The light is the mysterious force we ultimately are, what I like to call Consciousness or Nothingness and the prism is mind that is able to create distinctions, the colors, from something that has none.
As conscious beings (animals or other being cannot do it) we can realize to be the light, the prism and the colors at the same time without limiting ourselves in being identified with one element, the mind, the root of all our suffering.
To be continued next week.
Thanks for reading.