It’s not uncommon, for someone on the “spiritual path”, to go through periods of learning, unlearning and re-learning. In fact, any true change that is to occur almost always requires a combination of these three things. Since I realised the impermanence of life at the age of 12, I have been in and out this spiritual mindset. What I mean by spiritual mindset or path is to be on an internal quest for the truth of being. So, throughout my life I have found my self occupied with this search on and off for the best part of almost 10 years. There were times when I was actively questing for intellectual knowledge and profound wisdom or experiences. There were times when I was almost kidding myself into believing that what is, is more magical than it is. (By which, I mean that I had an idea of what “magic” was in my mind and I imposed that on my experience instead of simply observing what was already quite magical within it). There were times too where I became enthralled and dogmatic with opinions of what I felt was “right” and “true”. And naturally there were times when I thought I was on a quest for truth when really I was just doing a good old bit of ego masterbation… All of which is to overlook the periods where I was dissatisfied but far too fed up with life to do anything about it…
Over the past several years, I found my self heavily involved with a cult. It’s a covert cult – not immediately noticeable – but based on the criteria of what constitutes a cult, it’s a cult nonetheless. I found my self lured into this particular mentality as a result of it’s appetising focus on emotions and ego. Of course, the ego is rarely mentioned within the confines of the group – likely because the primary conduct of the group is orientated around glorifying the ego via a heavy focus on the Law of Attraction. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Law of Attraction, it is the idea that the thoughts in your mind manipulate the world around you. In short, the tag line is, “thought creates reality”. I will explain, a little way below, how and why I came to experience the untruthfulness of this belief.
Many of you who read my blog will likely have noticed that I have been making mention of the Law of Attraction less and less of late. This is because I have been going through a period of unlearning a lot of the detrimental behavioural patterns which were associated with this heavy focus on the Law of Attraction. You will notice too, if you are a regular reader, that a lot of my word choices have changed as well as the content of my posts. This has not been a casual or flippant butterflying. Not at all. For me, it’s been an intense period of transformation wherein I have allowed many of my beliefs about my self and the world to fall away and disintegrate. All of this has left behind only what I know for sure as a result of direct experience. The criteria for “what I know for sure” being only what I experience in the moment – without deductions or excessive mental constructs which only serve to further divorce oneself from the experience as it is.
Up until several weeks ago, I still maintained several illusions – or as Ram Dass refers to them, “myths” – about the role that my mind played in the world. During my time on the fringe of the cult I never really became someone entirely indoctrinated, but rather remained on the edge of things – one foot in, one foot out – having only attended one of the meetings/worships. While attending the meeting, I remained quiet most of the time, met a few people, asked a lot of questions and ruffled the status quo a little bit. Although, I will admit to being rather naive at this point and still very much convinced by the mirage. Before experiencing the untruthfulness of this illusion, I was very much identified with being “Andey”.
I’ll explain what I mean by this a little more… It seems, based on my experience of late, that the personality – which is held in such high regard in our society – is really nothing more than a mind-made story. Our bodies get born and we are observing this experience from a detached perspective. Notice that for a short while after a baby is born it does not cry if you give it a toy and then take it away again. You give it the toy and it observes it, experiences it… And then you take it away and it returns to observing and experiencing everything else. It’s only later on that this baby starts to believe that it is the body, the story, the past, the morals, the values and so on. But really, these are simply accumulations of concepts and thoughts which we have started to define ourselves by. But then, notice that these thoughts and feelings change all the time… And yet we consider our selves to be the same…
“Do you think you can take over the universe and improve it? I do not believe it can be done.
The universe is sacred. You cannot improve it.”
– Tao Te Ching, Chapter 29, Lao Tzu.
I used to believe, quite strongly, in the concept that the emotions were a compass to guide us to where we are “supposed” to be. As if we could be in the wrong place and that is why we don’t feel good. It has come to light, in recent weeks, that this is not the case. It seems that emotions are within the jurisdiction of the persona – what Eckhart Tolle calls the “self” and what Mooji calls the “person”. This would be the mind-made identity. Now, for what I am about to say I will offer no justification or proof. I do not ask that you believe me on trust, nor do I even ask that you believe me. I simply ask that you have your own experience and – without conjecture or deduction – live your life accordingly. And such, hence-force I shall speak as though my words are fact. This is not because they are to be taken as fact but rather because they are written as fact. But even facts are things – subject to change…
The conceptual self, the persona. These are names for what is an interface for taking part in this human life. It is the way in which formlessness and form meet. This is not to suggest that the mind has any sort of control over what is formless. The mind is merely an interface – a sort of computer running on the best available hardware and software – which results in the human life we are all familiar with. This human life being what contains feelings, emotions, thoughts, doing, not doing and so on… All of which is to do with the persona.
So, at the very basic level we have the persona. This is the person that most of us think we are. The persona is a collection of stories, thoughts, beliefs, ideas and so on. The persona also deals with preference, opinions, judgements and so forth and so on. The persona is generated by the ego so when we are fully engaged in identification with the persona we are believing whatever the ego is offering us. I’ll explain the ego a little more in a second.
At the next level, observing the persona, we have the Observing Mind or the “Higher Mind”. I avoid using the term “Higher Mind” too often because it implies superiority which is only the concern of the persona and ego. (The ego being the mind function which has been and continues to generate the persona). The Observing Mind is what is in use when we become more conscious and present. This aspect of the mind deals with labels but not with judgements. For example, the Observing Mind says, “I am typing a blog post.” The ego mind says, “It’s going to be really good.” And as such the persona says, “I am a great writer.” The Observer Mind simply assesses what is without developing any form of what is called “Papancha”. (A Pali word which, in this context, means proliferation”. The ego mind then filters that and generate another aspect of the persona.
Now, it’s important to note here that the ego is not your enemy or anything like that. It’s not some demon who wants you to be miserable. That would be to separate you from this aspect of you… Which would be ridiculous. The ego is simply a part of your mind which was, at an early age, commissioned to use external stimuli to decipher who you are. The problem being that you are really much less of a “who” and more of a “what”… And even that limits it… And the mind doesn’t have the tools to understand this experientially, only intellectually or conceptually. So it just keeps on doing what it’s doing… Which is useful because it enables us to interface with this life and the elements of it. Suffering arises, however, when you start to take the chatter of the mind and the offerings of the ego seriously and subsequently allow it’s generated sense of identity to be what you think you are…
So, if we are aware of the fact that our identity is only a mind-made thing and the awareness which allows us to realise this is our Observing Mind, then what allows us to be aware of the observation? This is much closer to truth of what we are. But, of course, to explain this to you, I am having to use my persona, ego and Observing Mind which causes my explanation to be limited. That’s why I say that you must experience it for yourself. Otherwise it’s like a window cleaner up on a ladder of the tenth floor of a building, cleaning the window with another man on the ground asking what the window looks like. Better to be up on the ladder if you want a good view… But even then… Unless you are the window itself it’s difficult to know what it truly means to be clean and clear as a window… A loose metaphor, but I think you’re following me, right? Hahah!
When you become aware of the Observing Mind and do not try to conceptual that awareness, that is when your true nature emerges – or rather, is uncovered. Again, another limitation. That space which allows all of this observation, analysis, deduction, conjecture and judgement to take place… That is much closer to what you really are… Why do I say that? Because it is unchanging, while everything else comes and goes, grows and dies… This space remains… The space remains and so graciously allows for all to exist within it… Such a beautiful gift… To me, that is god. Within and without us all, the vital life force energy moving through us all… All of which is a simple expression of what is “before” or “beyond” form…
I’m sure you can see why my finding my self believing that I was the person who was experiencing these emotions and thought was marginally limiting and wholly detrimental? I mean, it would’ve been fine if I was happy. But that’s the thing… the persona, the ego, doesn’t do happy… It doesn’t do content… It does satisfied – and never for very long. When this experience of inner contentment and inner joy is accessible to all of us in any moment – with the cooperation of the mind – limiting ourselves to the belief that we are our bodies or our minds seems… pointless.
“You simply have to watch:
Where does mind arise from?
Where does thought come from?
What is the source of this thought?
Then you will see that you have always been free and that everything has been a dream.”
In the recent weeks, this is what I have been unlearning… the brittle belief that I am Andey. The “I am” comes before “Andey.” It’s not as much of a statement as it is a list in order of truth or relevance… “Who are you?” “I am, Andey.” I simply am, I exist. Being. And then Andey after that… Which is only a figment of the mind anyway. And the mind is also “after” formlessness. This has been the silent earthquake within – and without.
What is really real (and real is a mind-made idea too) is the formless. It is the formless which is unchanging. Everything else is only relatively real. And our experience is really only reoccurring recognition of the relatively real. Hah!
So, with that in mind…
Keep it real,
Live, love and play.