We are born, we live out our lives and we die. This is the cycle of life and nothing we do alters that cycle. We either treat life as a gift or we experience life as a burden, probably a bit of both. Some bad things happen to us from external sources. Some of the bad that we experience comes from us. We often create our own messes but rarely do we accept that the messes are self inflicted. Our life experiences along with our genetic makeup, over time, create an identity, a self image, and an often hidden store of memories that define who we believe we are, how we respond to life situations, what we think, act out, and feel. Each choice we make determines how we will think and feel about each moment in our lives and those choices are the continuing foundation of what we will become and what we will make out of our time here on earth. Will we be happy? Will we be sad? Will we become stuck at times in a stage of our development, will we become mired in unhappiness or depression?
Many I have talked to are quite comfortable with where they are in their lives. The idea of transcending their own self image seems ..... unnecessary. What are most people aware of? What is denied or dismissed? The angry outburst, the driving need to walk away, quit a job, find a different partner, get divorced, drink too much, work too much, the sleepless nights, the bouts of being not ok with anything. The list can go on for a long time, we are very creative about being not ok. In that "not ok state" we can do a lot of harm, to ourselves and others.
But it is not all doom and gloom. There are great happy moments, sex, love, babies, victories, creativity, success, wealth, roses in the spring, sunrises and sunsets, lots and lots of genuine happy moments.
So if I tried could I condense our complex lives into something that almost everyone could see and make sense of? That no would would deny if not applaud. I am not putting out a challenge to admit failed moments, failed dreams. We are not only complex but we are amazing. There is so much courage out there. People battle with and deal with hardships that I have never experienced, nor if I am truthful would I want to. And yet we all carry on, somehow, someway and still feel happiness along the way. But lets face it, there is this fog out there. And within that fog individuals make choices. Some do not even realize that often these choices are for their protection, of who they believe they are. The keywords here are choices and believe. Not all choices announce themselves with trumpets and drums. Some are very subtle. But all choices, almost without exception, serve to either protect our beliefs about ourselves from any hint of injury, or inflate what we already believe to be true.
So, from our choosing we define our own reality, we define our behavior, and we define our state of mind. From these we affect our next moment, and the next, potentially for the rest of our lives. You can argue that our state of mind determines the choices we make, that I have the order wrong. What we will learn is that a part of us is consistent and the rest of us is not. Which part influences the choice we make, makes all the difference. All the difference in the world.
We all know what letting go means. Other people have told us. "Hey, let it go, its not worth it.". Do we? Let it go? No, not really. Many times we tuck our real feelings away. After a time we think they are gone. Until, a trigger wakes them up and out of nowhere anger, sadness, revenge, guilt or just a feeling of "not ok" fills us and "can" take over the moment, ruining whatever is going on. If we act out what we are feeling, something not good is going to happen. Our energy flows to others and we get back what we just sent out. I really like the age old wisdom (I don't know the author) .... The student asks the teacher "which is stronger hate or love?" The teacher replied "The one we feed".
Can we admit we are all on a journey? None of us know why we are here or what happens to us when we are gone. So, since we do not know what or where we came from, or why we are here or where we go when we die, we must be on a journey. We began or started out a long time ago, and we have yet to arrive anywhere, so we must still be on the journey. At least lets conjure up the image of us, on a spinning ball of rock, traveling at a pretty high speed, through empty space, to we know not where or why. If that does not do it for you, look at it this way. I have been a baby, a child, a teenager, a young adult, middle age, retired, and now older. I have worked, played, swam, fished, hunted, been a father a husband, a grandfather. But I am still here, so my journey is not yet complete, at least on this earth.
Why emphasize the journey part? Because along the way we all have much to learn, much to discover, much to understand. And, if I had my druthers, I would like to discover more, learn more and understand more with the knowledge that "I did no harm", "helped others along the way", and assisted in "fixing what needs fixing". Since I believe everyone feels that way, more or less, it would be great if we focused on freeing up our inner resources and less on defending a false belief. That we faced the real realities of weather, famine, earthquakes, volcanoes and had to deal less with the damage we do to each other. Humans preying on humans (examples abound). Its a waste, of energy, resources and time. One of the goals here is to help shift the energy of the journey from self protection and self inflation to spiritual, emotional, and mental freedom. The freedom to experience life as it is and to find within the infinity of potential that all of us carry in our hearts. Do no harm, we could start there. Answer the question "who am I", a great question. You are not who you think you are. You are not your ego, your self image, your identity. You are not the roles you play or the misery or love you experience. You are you "the aware one" that experiences all this and more. We create our own boundaries, "the aware one" has no boundaries, just a limitless freedom to see without harm, do without harm, share without harm.
How come I am pointing out that there are more than one you in there. Am I suggesting that you have multiple personalities. No. What I am pointing out is that there is a part of you that is the "Aware One". The "Aware One" is a witness to everything, all of the stuff going on outside you and all of the stuff going on inside you. The "Aware One" will turn its attention to and focus on the loudest event of the moment. When this happens we can get lost in the experience. Mostly we ignore the bigger picture and end up responding to all of the noisy stuff that arises from our unconscious, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, pain, fear, rejection, love, approval. This is the entire accumulation of all of your life experiences and what opinions and beliefs you formed as each experience unfolded. All of these life experiences are not readily available, but are stored away, laying in wait for the right trigger to bring them to the surface.
But, the Aware One can be trained, actually quite easily. It can be trained to be the observer, the witness, to everything. And if we are successful, something very interesting happens. All of our stuff still gets triggered. We still experience all that we are, all that our self image thinks we are. What does not happen is we do not get lost in what is happening to us. We still feel the stings of rejection or insult, the fear, the pain, the loss, with one very important difference. The "Aware One" notices, accepts, and lets go, right then, right now. It is this ability to experience fear or pain and immediately release it that frees us. No story is created to protect us, no memory is hidden away to pop up later to twist the moment into something it is not. We become free to experience life as it is. Life is no longer colored by our past. Each experience is vivid and real and even if it stings we don't get lost in the sting. We are free.
Pain and Suffering
Pain is for the living and suffering is for the living. In death we know not what we can or do experience. So this segment is for the living, no matter what state they are in.
"The little death", letting go of the self. All transformations of a human being begin with letting go of the "self", our self image, our self interest, our self protection, our desires, wants and demands. For all suffering is a rejection of the reality of the moment when we get what we did not want or did not get what we wanted so badly. The sense of pain is both a physical and emotional result of that rejection. Must we suffer, yes, as long as we continue with this denial. The denial is that we did not or do not deserve what is or has happened to us. We reject the face of reality both because we choose not to acknowledge our participation and/or we choose to demand immunity when immunity is not ours to demand.
Jesus asked us to surrender the "self". Buddha ask us to surrender desire (the self). All the teachings for centuries have in essence implored us to let go of who we believed we were and center ourselves with who we truly were. Called by many names, living in the "true Self" became the goal and letting go of the "false self" a necessary act to achieve the goal. But whether or not "enlightenment" was achieved there was always this out standing question, "Does it make any real difference?".
Lets defer the answer to that question until we have explored "the aware One" a little more.
I recently had a conversation with an older person who was depressed. Without going into detail the basics were that this person did not have what was desired and a whole lot of what was not desired. As a consequence there was a reason, not to exercise, not to take care of themselves, to feel useless, to feel empty, to be angry, to be lost. Jump starting ourselves when we are down is not easy and we often need help doing that. Did I fix the situation, no of course not. But I did plant a seed that no matter what happens to us we still have a choice. Is it a choice to get us what we want or get rid of what we did not want? No. It is a choice to accept how we feel, to not fight or resist what has happened or how we feel about it, to not deny how we feel. It is a choice to be at the seat of our consciousness, "The Aware One", acknowledge what we feel and let go. Let the energy flow through us and then out of us. It is a choice to not build a story, bury a feeling, hide from the reality of the moment or become obsessive about what that moment triggers in us. It is a chance and a choice to let go and feel ok, to be ok, no matter what. This is sometimes a tall order and we often take two steps forward and one step back. But we can regain the seat of consciousness and bring the aware one back into focus. What is in it for us if we practice this?
No one likes the feeling of "Not OK". If you have a family no one in your family likes it when you are "not ok". Your friends do not like it, your fellow workers find that feeling in you difficult and uncomfortable. But do we ever change because someone else finds how we feel uncomfortable or inconvenient? No. But what does happen is the dark energy we are experiencing touches everyone and everything around us. It is potentially dangerous for many times we act on how we feel. We become lost in our feelings, our thoughts (that rise up to add more energy to those feelings) circle the wagons to defend what we feel, to justify, to blame.
It is only when the energy has dispersed do we climb out of the hole we have dug for ourselves and regain our clarity, our awareness, and we begin to act normal again. Until the next trigger, and the next, and the next.
We have said before that the "self" is insatiable. Never satisfied, a mind numbing talker, and full of jealousy, suspicions, concerns, and willing to create threats and monsters out of thin air. It is almost as if the unconscious "self" wants to expose every frailty we have ever experienced throughout our entire life span. It also wants to interpret everything you see, hear, feel and touch according to what it has already experienced and interpreted. Is this a totally bad thing? No. It is part of our development as a human being. But, there comes a time when it is good for us to experience reality as it is and not colored by the lens of our past.
What we feel we have the right to feel. What is not right is to be swallowed up by what we feel, To take the moment and make it into something it is not. To rewrite our story about this moment to conform to our belief about ourselves. To have our history, our past, change a gift into a disaster. To ruin the moment without cause because our inner voice has been triggered by the experiences of yesterday.
The practice of sitting at the seat of consciousness, letting the "Aware One" do its job, is to allow your entire being to experience freedom. And from that seat of freedom you will experience this life with a greater richness, less drama and often "Joy" will be part of you. Not just a feeling, but a state of mind. What will be different? You will handle everything that happens to you, everything that you experience, as it is, not as you would or would not like it to be. Peace will follow your choices and decisions. And the energy you project will change your life and the lives of those you have a relationship with.