It couldn’t be more simple. So, why isn’t this clear for everyone?
This reason is equally simple.
As Mooji and many others have said, we place special importance and belief on a small subset of our thoughts. This thought belongs to me, but this thought is not mine, it’s just a thought. That’s how the conditioned mind operates.
That is the answer – it could not be more simple. We place importance and belief on a small subsets of our thoughts and experience out of habit and our conditioning.
Now let’s take a little deeper look at thought.
The thought “I’m feeling alone today” is happening. Seeing that tree outside of my window is also a happening. And listening to the sounds around this office is also a happening.
But notice how we label only the thought as “mine”. The happenings of the tree and the sounds are experienced as fleeting, neutral events. There really is an important sensory difference between the two categories of event. The thought that is mine has weight. It’s important. It’s something I believe in as true – as a non-belief. But it is a belief, even if we don’t experience it that way.
We might label thoughts as ours’ because they seem to come out of us. But notice how the tree and the sounds also come out of us. They register on our brains as happenings. Without our brains registering these sense impressions, we wouldn’t be able to experience them. Each of these happenings manifest in exactly the same way. See so for yourself.
Thoughts work in exactly the same way. We say, “I see the tree.” “I hear the sounds” and “I notice the thought.”
The only difference between the thought and the tree, and it’s really not a difference at all, is that the brain projects the tree and the sounds as material, while it projects the thought as a thing without physical substance. But since the seeing of the tree and the hearing of the sounds are also mind events, they also lack physical substance. Even if we walk up to the tree and feel its hardness, that feeling of “hardness” is just another sense impression.
Thoughts and every conceivable sense impression fill the whole gamut of what the mind experiences as good, neutral, and bad. A thought we might experience as lovely, might be experienced as painful depending on our presenting mood, which is also a thought cluster. A tree we may experience as a thing of surpassing beauty at one time, may be experienced as terribly painful when it drops one of its branches onto our car.
Observe the thought/judgment “I don’t like carrots.” That is just another happening. The not liking of carrots is a consequence of how our bodies experience carrots and how we were raised. It has absolutely nothing to do with “I”, but has everything to do with “me”. The I is that which sees and the me is the happening – noted in the field of awareness.
Thoughts and sense impressions change and flow and assume every possible form.
The moment we see how we very selectively label certain thoughts and experiences with belief and importance, then they become ours’. They take on a weight they would never have were it not for our personal identification with them. The instant that link is seen for what it is, the whole experience is transformed.
Thus total liberation means seeing through the illusion of thought and sense object ownership and attachment.
It really couldn’t be more simple!
As awareness, everything I see and think cannot be me. Therefore, I cannot be me. Yet me lives.
So what am I?
First let’s get something very prickly out of the way. Whatever we are lives in a body. And that body experiences bliss and agony and everything in between. While my headaches may be no different from your headaches, I still feel my headaches and don’t feel your headaches. So this “me” we now know we are not, in essence, is nonetheless closer to my consciousness than is your “me”.
How do we explain this?
Nature loves diversity. So the universe produces an infinity of forms. And each form experiences the One differently. Together we produce a tapestry of the most vast proportions. And it’s ALL me! – but me from the singular perspective of this ME. Thus our separation and unity are immediate and simultaneous. Those religious zealots that rant against any expression of duality, are just the blind leading the blind. Those that argue for independence of manifestation are also the blind leading the blind.
Awareness is a tricky word. I would like to introduce another word – Fertility. The Authentic Being is infinitely fertile. It gives birth to the ten thousand things in every moment. The extent of our capacity to be fertile in this universe is beyond reckoning. When I see you, I cannot help but see myself. We are two and we are one and we produce each other.
The moment of liberation tells us that everything is me, but bereft from any grasping or ownership. We are freedom itself experiencing perfect freedom.
Thus when my fingers touch the keyboard and music happens, it is truly the one making the music and the one hearing the music and the one playing the music. And it is all me at the very same time! How do I know this is true? How can I be absolutely certain of this?
Because that which sees, that which hears is produced by the infinitely fertile nature of the Authentic Being. Remember everything that I see and experience cannot be my essential self. All of it is objective as me, but not as I!!!
When I look into the night sky, I see myself as me. The infinitely fertile field, plays me as the black night sky and the stars that register to my brain. And because none of it is mine or could ever be mine, then I am truly and utterly free of any of it, yet also free to experience it as me, in its ephemeral ever-changing self.
When I believe that I own thoughts and experiences, then I am a slave to them. When I experience any thought and experience as a manifestation of the me/One in that moment, as just happenings, then I am free – and even THIS I is a fleeting object of the not-“I”. Do you understand that decisive difference?
Before enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water.
After enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water.
But how different it is!
One Last Note
The notion that what is seen and experienced is unreal is, itself, unreal. It’s a bizarre thought that arose within a school of philosophy that occurred only in India 3 thousand years ago. It is not true. Rather, it is a uniquely political element to early religion that was designed to sustain the imperial power of the rulers that allowed them to maintain their rule over the multitudes of struggling laborers. By defining the endless toil of their lives as mere illusion, and thus negating the pain and suffering engendered by that labor, the religion provided a spiritual pathway through which political subjugation was made possible.
It is a lie.
That beautiful tree and that nagging headache are each real in the moment. And, thank god, for that.
Tomorrow: A Day in the Life of the EYE (I) – Aye-Aye