Comfort, Security, Shelter, Food, Relationships. The safety net of our childhood where we get to grow, explore and reach for our independence. It is the source of our Identity and our belief about ourselves, what we are, what we can be. From this we weave our way through the complex behavior of the adult world, through contradictions and paradox, through truth and lie, through hope and disillusionment. It is our beginning. The answers start here, but the questions keep bubbling to the surface as we navigate the rough waters of life. Where's the handbook? It might make things easier if we had a handbook.
True self False Self. Merton and others stressed these labels to try to give us a picture of who we thought we were and how we lived out that belief about ourselves. And, to attempt to describe for us what it meant to be true to ourselves or live the "True Self" path. As I say later I struggled with these concepts. For our biology, the way God made us, demands that we develop along a path that builds the "false Self" over time. So I do not reject the False self I just believe that at some point in our lives, different for each of us, another part of us looks at the world and what happens to us in it without the baggage that this developmental self (false self for some) always carts around. I call this part of us "The Aware One".
The Marvelous Biological Being
So amazing. One stands in awe at the successful functioning of all those cells and their companions the bacteria who help make so many life processes work. Life is a staged work of art and it takes a long time for a human to come into its own. But when a human experiences the outpouring of all that it is capable of, the feeling is extraordinary, it is joyful, it is powerful.
If we take a look at the big picture we see, we hear, we taste, touch and smell. Examples of the creative output of our minds are all over the place. And yet there is confusion and uncertainty about what we are and why we are here. This very predicament, the not knowing, causes us to take sometimes extreme liberty with our sense of mastery over everything not us. We begin to make mistakes, and they are often the mistakes that we cannot see. Why? Because the reality we perceive is guided by our sense of self and as long as that sense of self is dominate within us we cannot shift into a different perspective and see the world differently.
If we take a look at the micro picture life takes on a new dimension. Cooperation and communication within all cells of the body make incredible complexity into a work of art.
Cellular reproduction, repair, signalling, protein building, and the internal transport of the molecules needed to do all of these processes. And finally the ability to commit to suicide when the cell detects that it has been compromised beyond it ability to repair itself. Trillions of cells and bacteria that work together that allow us to walk, talk, think, laugh, eat, sleep and do all of the marvelous things that we are capable of. Keep them all in your prayers, it is not selfish, just common sense.
So How Much Do We Own
We own all of our choices. We own our awareness of each moment. We own our responses to each and every moment. The moment may not be of our choosing but our response is. We are complicated and most of how we behave is on auto pilot. And yet it is our responsibility to be aware of that auto pilot and learn how to manage our response to what is going on now. Even today I remind myself often to pay attention to what I am feeling and about to do, to let go of my own hidden agendas and to respond to the moment as it is and not as I wanted it or not wanted it to be.
Choices, Choices, Choices
Have I mentioned the "True Self"? Many Writers refer to that part of us, the true self vs the false self. I was never able to wrap my head around that concept. I mean how can I have a false self, I am what I am. Of course many ask "Who are you" and as I tell them my name, age, gender, what I do at home or work I even find that that description of who I am describes what I do, not what or who I am. If we let it, this can go on for awhile with no resolution to the real question "Who am I".
I cannot seem to tell you "who I am" by describing any aspect of myself as a body, a mind, the role I live or any other thing that seems to represent "Me" to the world outside or the "Me" to myself. Who or what is this "Me", and is it the True or false self?
If I walk down the street and stumble, even fall, who did the stumbling and falling. If someone just then said "Dick your false self just took a tumble" I could easily look at them with a bit of sarcasm "well this false self just felt the bruised hands and elbow, not to mention the awkwardness of being face down on the street in front of you all. So true or false I need to wash the grit out of my palms. I'll be right back." Who will be right back? I will. Who is that? The one who Knows everything that just happened, the "aware one".
So let's talk a little bit about this "aware one".
I used to believe that concepts like "self awareness, false or true self, enlightenment, know thy self were the equivalent of spiritual rocket science. Of course I had guides, books, spiritual leaders, psychologists who tried to help me understand these concepts. But for the life of me (and I learned later that this understanding was "for the life of me") I did not get it. So I spent a great deal of time milling around and writing about what I began to understand in my own way. These were mostly one page essays on love, approval, emptiness, the dark nights, inner chaos, pain and a few others. I would include them here but I lost 20 years of writing history thru a series of mishaps so I started over early last year. So, who is this "aware one".
Simply put, the "aware one" is You. You, the one that knows everything that goes on, that sees everything, that is always aware. Or is it, always aware? No, this "aware one" can and does lose the awareness of everything to focus on little things demanding its attention. The "aware one" (in each of us) seats at the seat of consciousness (the Untethered Soul, Michael A. Singer). What is this seat of consciousness? It is your witness, to everything. It is you observing but not getting involved. It is you that really chooses how to respond to the experiences in your life.
Attention. The self within you that worries or concerns itself with who did what to whom, that dwells on its injuries, slights or disapproval is the very small child that throws a tantrum in the grocery store, that fills your mind with looping thoughts, negative stories that re-enforce the pain we feel or the constant chatter of what should be and not what is. This side of us clamours constantly for attention, from who? the "aware one" . For if "the aware one" gets bogged down in the muddy melodrama of our selves there is nothing and no one that can free us from our own pain and fear, no one to be a Host to Creation, to God. The "aware one" becomes a hostage to our self image, to our ego.
Jesus, Buddha, Watts, Chardin, Berry, Rohr, Chopra, Swimme, Eckhart and a many before him, Singer and his peers, and quite a few others (religious, eastern, ancient...all the way back as far as the earliest spiritual leaders) tried to teach this simple idea, Within each of us is a witness and that witness (trained to not get distracted) is what we call our consciousness or the ability to know that we know and be a host to the Devine and not a slave to our Ego.
Through evolution we have integrated within our brains interesting but often disturbing capabilities. We get to feel, see, smell, hear and touch both ourselves and the outside world. We are emotional about our experiences. We think, we have language, we imagine that which is not yet. We have fear (self preservation at all levels of our being, emotionally, physically, spiritually). We indeed have many powers, but some of these get in the way. We respond to reality not as it is but as we wish it were or were not. This behavior, what information we choose to act on moment by moment, causes no end of grief in our lives. We have a vast storehouse of living experiences within us. Just because that experience is stored away does not mean it is not ready willing and able to guide our responses every moment of our lives. We call it our unconscious or that history about us we are not aware of.
So what does this "Witness" do? It sits at the seat of awareness (witnesses) and does not leave it to join the mayhem that it may be a witness to. This "Witness", the aware one, does not control or master that which is happening. But this "witness" does do something incredibly important. It accepts that which is. It is always ok with everything. And it bathes our psyche with love and approval and a deep sense of being "ok". We can feel pain and let it go. We can experience disappointment and let it go. We can feel injured and let it go and we can even feel joy and let it go. But without this "witness" it is hard to let go, we respond in often disastrous ways to perceived pain, injury, threats to our self image, threats to our ideas, threats to our interpretation of life.
Have you figured out yet how to still the mind, how to be quiet? Have you experienced feelings well up (the ones you were about to do something really stupid about) and watched them, felt them, and then accepted them as ok. Have you the let them go almost as quickly as they came up? Has someone you respected or cared about criticized you and you felt the sting of disapproval or rejection, and let it go? Have you been annoyed when someone cut you off in traffic or gave you the finger, and let it go? Have you lost something important to you, allowed the feeling of loss, and let it go?
Some things that happen are little things, some are great big things. But get this picture in your mind and refer to it often. You are standing on a ball of dirt and rock spinning around a nuclear ball of fire, and traveling through empty space with nothing around you, at 30,000 miles an hour. This picture is not meant to convey insignificance but only a sense of relativity. Come on, get a sense of it. We are living on a ball of rock in the middle of nowhere and we have not the faintest idea why we are here. Is that not incredible?
So why not feel good every moment of every day? Why not be able to let go of the small stuff, and with practice even the big stuff? Why not be happy?
Some scientist once said "We may not know the perfect truth but the truth of today can guide us for the moment. We believe it at the moment because it is useful to do so. Tomorrow may be different, but that is tomorrow."
Jesus said, "He who loses his life shall find it"
If I learn the practice of seeing without judgement, living without fear, watching without history, being without identity, and responding without agenda then what is left is who I am. The part of me that protects me, my sense of self, my world of imagination where I am always the hero in my own story, is the part that denies me my full potential. Not the potential to be somebody, but the potential to be nobody, successfully. I think, I dream, I act, but for what end? To relive the past, to imagine a rosy future, to continue protecting my story that is still being written this very moment? No.
The trap we all face in trying to achieve a higher self (for some the true self), is the creativity of our self image to protect itself. We have dressed ourselves in the garb and rules of our parents, our culture, our societies, our interpretation of our experiences. Our very image of ourselves is the accumulation of a lifetime of reinterpreted experiences wholly for the protection of our sense of who we are. We live with levels of fear and everything we do is to protect us against that fear. Whether it is how we relate to others in dress, status, speech, or what we do to magnify our own sense of self, it is to protect. And we will weave any story along any crooked path to make true what is false.
This is especially true of the pain we experience. Pain is energy. We can either experience it as it flows through us and let it go or we can contain it, store it (file it away, hide from it, build a story around it) and relive it (in small or big ways) the rest of our lives.
But just because we have the strong desire to protect ourselves does not mean we toss that part of us to the wind. What is required here is the process of letting go, of being witness to our melodrama, acceptance, letting go. Each day will give you the opportunity to do this, until today becomes today and you are free to experience it, as it is (pain included) until yesterday no longer intrudes on today.
At some point in time you are you. You will have lost your life (the old you), and found your new life (you). This is a state of being This is consciousness connected to all that is, this is the full expression of you, undefined, untethered, free.
Wayne Deyer "You can either be a Host to God (creation) or a hostage to your own Ego (self image), it is your choice (always and forever)."