This is the second installment of the “Wake Up” series that consists of exercises that can bring one to experience the true self, or in other words, enlightening oneself to true being.
One of the ways we can reach enlightenment and expose ourselves to the true self is by deepening our understanding of – what we are not. As long as we identify ourselves with something, we will be disturbed by that something every time that something is disturbed. The purpose of this post is to deepen your understanding of what you are not so you can experientially get closer to what you really are.
You are not the mind
The mind consists of thoughts. And it is quite easy to see that we are not our thoughts. Consider the following.
Who do you think is initiating a thought that you hear? Is it you? if you think that it is you, then who is hearing it? if you think again that it is you, then don’t you think that it is kinda redundant saying to yourself what you already know? Since you are the one initiating the thought you already know what the thought is going to say. And if that is the case, then why do we have thoughts altogether?
The thoughts appear and disappear without our involvement just like circumstance. We only react to them. Where are you when a particular thought disappears? You are aware of the fact that it has disappeared. That means that you still exist after the thoughts, and you can recall existing before the appearance of the thought, that makes you an observer of the passing thought and not the thought.
You are not your emotions
The same as with the thought, we exist prior, during and after experiencing emotions. We do not initiate or control our emotions. Because if that was the case then we all would choose to be happy all the time. Emotions appear the same way as thoughts and circumstance. We can only observe and react to the already existing emotions. This makes us once again the observer of the passing emotion. We can recall existing before, during and after every experienced emotion in our life.
At first, it is not easy to grasp that we are not our thoughts and emotions because it seems that they are there all the time. Closer to us than anything else, even closer than our body.
You are not your body
This is a tough one. We all know what pain feels like. And telling you that you are not the body can be interpreted by you that you have a choice not to feel pain. This is not what I’m saying when I say that you are not your body.
We don’t have a saying about what is already here in existence, and that includes the thoughts, the emotions, and the body. This also includes the aching body.
However, it is still possible for us to understand that we are not the body. In order for us to be something in particular that something must remain constant at all times because if it changes we will change with it forgetting our previous state.
For example, imagine that your body is a chair and you identify yourself as a chair because you believe that you are your body. Then that chair changes into a table, and now you believe that you are a table. You don’t remember being a chair because you now identify yourself as a table. In order for you to remember being a chair, you must witness the chair turning into a table and for that to happen you need to be neither a chair nor a table.
So our being must not change in order to witness change. If you lost me, bear with me, I’ll give it another shot.
Change is all about transformation, which is the departure of one state and the arrival of the next. You can clearly see that your body was changing since the day you were born. You can even remember yourself witnessing the changes your body went through. The place that was witnessing the change could not have changed. Here is why.
The observer must remain constant in order to witness the continuous change. If you were to change together with your thoughts, with your body, and with your emotions. You wouldn’t be able to recall them because each time you would change, you would believe that the changed you right now is the real you, forgetting altogether about who you were.
We are not our body, thoughts or emotions. That is why we have the ability to remember ourselves having different points of view, different body structures, different emotions at different times in our life. The real you is constant and changeless.
You are not your circumstance
If you resonated with all the previous explanations you might be interested in reading this one also. Otherwise, feel free to skip to the final notes in the end.
What is circumstance? Circumstances contain the physical world, forms, matter, living organisms, people. Circumstances also contain the relationships and situations that evolve from being a participant in the world. As with everything else we are witnessing the passing and the change of events and circumstance.
In fact, witnessing the passing circumstance is not much different from witnessing the passing thoughts, emotions, and body. The difference is in our perception which mainly relies on the physical distance between what I believe is me and the thing that I’m witnessing passing.
For example, me witnessing my thoughts or emotions passing feels much closer to me, than me witnessing a car passing across the street. The distance from “me” to the car is bigger than the distance from “me” to a thought. It seems that the thought is right here while the car is way over there.
But if you erase your understanding of distance from your mind for a second you will quickly come to the understanding that your circumstances follow you everywhere you go, just like your thoughts, emotions, and your body. They are there no matter where you are. You are observing the passing of your circumstance just like everything else. Being able to acknowledge your existence before, during, and after every circumstance that has passed you by, ever.
I know this post is a bit of a mind twist. And not everyone will relate. If you find yourself struggling to understand this, reading it a few more times might help. Either way, don’t stress about it, you will come to these realizations if you keep at it. Anyway, more is on the way to help you experience your true self. The mind-body-emotions subject is very ancient. I tried to simplify what is being taught and practiced for decades from my own direct experience. Sometimes this is referred to as the neti-neti meditation (Wikipedia). You are welcomed to delve into this subject as you may see fit.
Check out all the posts in the Wake Up series