Self-Observation - Part 2
Updated: Apr 7, 2020
In this post I would like to keep talking about the fundamental role of self-observation as a crucial practice in transforming ourselves.
"Learn to endure momentary displeasures for the sake of the Work.
....Make friends with the denying force.
....If you are doubtful as to which course to follow,
you should follow the line of most resistance".
- E.J.Gold -
Even though not strictly necessary for the understanding of the following post, I invite you to read my previous posts "Self-Observation - Part 1" and "The Vipassana Meditation Technique" for completeness.
The practice of self-observation is the ability to look its own biological machine at work, including body gestures, thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, the tone of our voice, words used while talking etc in any situation. It is a technique that allows us to realize that for most of our life we have lived as puppets, as machines pulled here and there by forces of which we have never realized their existence.
Most of humans think to be alive but in reality they are sleeping, they are constantly daydreaming. They are at the mercy of mental, emotional and physical structures without having the necessary awareness to realize to be in such a state. Most of us think to be in control, think to have the freedom to act but in reality we are prisoners of powerful forces. Nowadays, since we have the possibility to drink whatever we want, to eat as much as we want, to have sex with whoever we want, we think we are free. We mislead the freedom of action for the freedom of being. Real freedom is the possibility to restrain our self in not drinking, in not eating, in not having sex, in not thinking in a compulsory way, in not having fear for any "external" threat. If we are not able to do so, we are slave of our mind and emotions.
The practice of self-observation seems to be an easy one but it is actually quite tricky because it has to be clear from which perspective observation has to take place.
To really be able to observe one self and therefore to be free, our first goal in doing this work is to find that safe "place". Self-observation cannot happen at the level of the mind as most of us are used to do. Mind is the problem we need to overcome and as someone else wiser than me once said: "Problems cannot be solved from the same level of awareness in which they have been originated". Mind is what most people are currently identifying with, it is what most people call "me", it is the place where all survival and denial mechanisms take place and as long as we do not become aware of this trap, we are fooling our self and losing our time.
Mind is the origin of fear ("Understanding Fear"), it is a judging machine that needs to constantly compare itself with others to find justifications for its own behavior and survival, it represents resistance itself rowing against the effortless flow of acceptance within life ("Awakening: The Endless Holiday", "Acceptance vs. Resistance"). And since most of us are identified with the mind, we are bond to live in fear, judgment and resistance to life. My invitation is to look for a better place to live life, a place that not only is not influenced by any "external" attacks but that is also able to create the reality we want to live.
As I have tried to explain in previous posts ("Look Within You", "No-Self: The First Step Towards You", "Neti-Neti: Who Am I?","Who Is Behind The Scene?") it has to become crystal clear for anyone committed in this work that what we are, our true nature, has nothing to do neither with the body nor with the mind and that it exists a "place" that is prior to them. There is "place" that is able to observe any thought, emotion, feeling and perception and that "place" is what we are. Whatever inner dialogue, whatever voice, whatever sound, whatever inner sensation and emotion (subtle or obvious) is happening within you, that is not the place from where self-observation should take place. Those are the things to be observed.
Asking you to find that "place" would be misleading, because to find something means that "that something" can be observed and so it cannot represent what we are looking for. The place I am talking about cannot be found, it is what you are. That place simply is.
The stepping back towards your true nature, that is, the "place" where observation should occur, is a step called by some spiritual masters, self-remembering. It represents an ah-ah moment, a realization that will not go unnoticed, trust me. It is a thunderbolt that enlightens your entire being that has been veiled for decades by mental structures. When this realization happens, you will finally realize where to turn to find yourself but it will require time to permanently center yourself in this "place". It is like that lion that thought to be a sheep and for years has been acting as such, bleating instead of roaring. Once it could see its real nature, it started roaring but from time to time was still bleating because old habits are hard to die.
The same happens here, in this journey. For decades we have been thinking to be physical human beings strongly supporting and defending that vision of our self and we have learnt to live life accordingly, that is, victimizing our self, blaming others for our problems, fearing the external world, without taking responsibility for our own creations. Once we awake, once we remember who we are, we realize in an instant that what we thought to be was illusory, that we were puppets. Some old habits disappear right away ("First Glimpses Towards My True Nature"), but others remain and more work is needed to become better creator of our reality.
And it is only now that self-observation can be done properly. It is only now that self-observation can represent a powerful tool for real transformation because we know from where to observe: not anymore from the level of mind, not anymore from the constant inner voice present in our head but from a "place" that by being silent talks more than a billion of words. Life cannot be transformed by mental wishing, by repeating mantra and prayers without being connected to the real source of reality that resides within. It is there, in that silent but caring place, that true wisdom dwells and only from there our reality can change.
Until that moment of intuition or self-remembering does not occur, we are bound to be unconscious creators of our life and the consequences for each of us can be more or less dramatic. We are not still aware of the profound truth that the external reality we are living is a projection of our own being and instead of changing the inside we are focused in trying to change the outside world. We are looking at life from a completely wrong perspective. But now we can remedy to this situation.
How? By self-observation.
The magic of life consists (among other realizations) in realizing that we are already born with what we need to make our life better regardless the "external" conditions and if something is going wrong it means we are not correctly using all the tools generously given to us. Self-observation means to stay centered in your true nature, in that "place" that can observe thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations and simply observe what happens. Nothing else. No suppression has to happen, no judgment of the content of the movie running in front of us has to occur. You need to be able to stay centered, to remember yourself and let those emotions and thoughts disappear. Any mental interference with this process will make those emotions and thoughts stronger or impossible to be transformed in something higher.
Thoughts and emotions can be seen as energies that solidify in certain ways. Most of us has thoughts and emotions that over time have solidified in something heavy and toxic and self-observation together with the act of be centered and present in your true being, will melt those energies away and transform them in something higher, more noble. As a result the world will be perceived differently. Any time you fall back into sleepiness, any time you identify yourself with mind and emotions, you are wasting precious energies to feed those forces instead of using them to feed you real being.
This exercise can be done initially in the quietness of your room to be able to self remember yourself and then observe thoughts and emotions more easily without falling into the trap of identifying with them. As soon as you catch yourself in being one with the inner flow of chattering, stop, remember yourself and keep observing as long as you can. At the beginning I suggest you to do this exercise not more than 10-15 minutes per day since your mind will likely easily prevail and make you stop this practice quite soon. Then increase up to 1 hour and when you become more centered in yourself you can do this exercise 24/7 while washing dishes, talking to your girlfriend/boyfriend, listening to music etc.
Any occasion becomes a good time to remember oneself and to observe how we react to life conditions. It is "easy" to practice when closed in our room and no one else bothering us but the real practice has to be transposed in our daily life when kids are screaming and viruses are spreading terror all over the world. These are the true moments to know whether we are truly centered, whether we have really found that safe "place" from which to observe the world and from where real transformation can occur.
To know whether you are making progress or not, see how you react now compared to 10 years ago in facing threatening and challenging situations, see how you treat others, see how others treat you, see how much responsibility you take for your own life and how much you project instead on others, see how much life is giving you and how much you are progressing. To be centered in our being and to transform negative energies in positive ones means to work together with the Universe and in turn the Universe will give us whatever we need. This is what this work is about, real transformation. All the rest are stories and lies you have told to yourself to think how much enlightened you are.
Jesus supposedly said: "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you". The reason to do so is because by being surrounded by people you get along with will not make any good to you. Staying nicely sitting in your comfort zone will not reveal your weak points and it will not give room for change. Only by being challenged by people and life situations your triggers will be revealed. It is in those situations that your negative thoughts and emotions will work together to stop you in exposing yourself to "dangerous situations", situations that are felt threatening for you. Those situations might be normal for many other people but for you might appear life or dead situations.
We should all be thankful for all those people that have been put on our journey pissing us off because they are revealing aspects of us on which we can work on and that otherwise would remain hidden. The fact that for some reason I cannot have people around me while cooking shows me some precious shadow material that has to be worked on to evolve and not an occasion to argue with others. The fact that being told how to do things raises in me resistance it is not a sign of independence but rather inner intolerance.
Mind will be really quick to blame others and find excuses and justifications for certain reactions. Do not listen to them. Self-remembering and observation. Always.
By knowing where to turn to, by knowing (not mentally but experientially) that there is a safe "place" where nothing bad can happen to you, self observation reveal itself to be a powerful tool in melting those mechanical knee jerk reactions and evolve in something higher. It is not an easy process: thoughts and emotions will make you shit your's pants to prevent you in simply observing and to instead take action, to feed them with your anger, jealousy, fear. However, you need to stay centered, still, and observe those emotions and thoughts falling apart.
If you react, you know that mind will have prevailed. Nothing serious but at least acknowledge how powerful are these survival forces in keeping you enslaved. Accept any defeat as a life lesson in recognizing your being a puppet at the mercy of them. Imagine what can be possible in achieving in life by mastering those forces instead of been mastered by them!
Keep working, keep centering yourself and observing those forces in action within you and step by step you and the world around you will be different. No need to go to Mars or to any other planets: the planet Earth, after enough of this (endless) work will transform you so much that other beings will look like aliens to you. No need to create robot, it is already full of them, mechanical, sleepy human beings.
Few people have the courage to undertake this journey because it requires to voluntary face suffering. Our society has taught us that suffering is the enemy, it has taught us to suppress it and to rather find a quick fix. You can see this attitude everywhere. Fever? Take a pill. Insomnia? Take another pill. Anger? You know what to do. No one has the courage to read those signs as an opportunity to grow.
If you are someone that has decided to walk on a different path, if you are someone looking for that "place", I wish you good luck.
Thanks for reading.