Here is the link to the transcript on his website. It is a very powerful read.
There is no difference in being aware of a tree and being aware of a thought.
So why is it so easy to align my identity with the contents of a thought and not the condition of the tree? The tree could be beautiful or ugly, tall or short, alive or dead, sturdy or weak, and it does not affect the “I” in any way.
A thought on the other hand can be kind or harsh, pure or impure, moral or immoral, and the “I” is always drastically affected. We align our identity with the thought and then cast judgment upon it. This judgment will either make us want to hold on to that thought or run far away from it as fast as we can. This conditioned reflex to become one with the thought is based solely upon the following statement.
“I am in control of my thoughts”
In the pursuit of our own bliss it now becomes imperative to either prove or disprove this statement above. In beginning this investigation the first and most obvious question is this: Who is this “I”?
If we are going to know the “I” we must first understand our own capacity to ‘know’. Knowledge in the conventional sense is perception analyzed with thought to create concepts. The bottleneck in this process is perception itself. What can not be perceived can not be turned into a thought, and thus not turned into a concept.
Digging deep into the act of perception we can see that there are actually three things required: the perceived, perception, and the perceiver. In the example of the tree we can understand that the tree is the perceived, eyesight is the perception, and then what is the perceiver? My first instinct is to say that it is the brain.
But is my brain also perceived? I can’t see my own brain, though I suppose I could with some major surgery and a mirror. I could also touch it through similar means. So then, can the brain be both the perceiver AND the perceived? I mean, it is the brain that translates what has been perceived through eyesight into an image.
So the brain must be a part of perception and NOT the perceiver.
Who is this damned perceiver then? The celebrated YouTube guru Mooji knowingly points seekers by asking “Can the perceiver be perceived?”. Nisargadatta Maharaj says “The very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive.” Initially this leaves us with a most unsatisfying conclusion. If I can not perceive the “I”, then I can never truly know who I am.
Getting back to the original statement we are examining, if I can never know the “I” then it would be nonsensical to assume that this “I” is in control of my thoughts. In fact in not knowing the “I” it is meaningless to lay claim to “my” thoughts at all.
That leaves us with “control”. Can thoughts be controlled? Do you know the next thought that is going to pop into your mind? It seems that we often get the thoughts we want the least. Through resisting a thought, that for all intents and purposes appeared randomly in your consciousness, we empower it. Continual resistance trains your brain to think your most undesirable thoughts at a most distressing frequency. It is only when you give up this control unequivocally that you release it.
A resisted thought is like a prisoner in our brain.
Eckhart Tolle rhetorically asks “What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is?” Such a thought is being denied it’s own existence and therefore can not run it’s course into nothingness. It is the nature of things to come and go.
The idea of control is problematic on many levels. We can’t define that “I” who is doing the controlling; the thoughts that I want to control can’t even be “my” thoughts without a known “I”; and any attempts to control thinking seems to have a substantial negative effect.
Lets modify the primary sentence in question. Lets toss out the first word “I”, and along with it the last two “my thoughts” as we know them to be either false or unknowable. The middle phrase “in control of” seems to be rife with issues so lets drop it as well. That leaves us with just one word, “Am”. Seeing a similarity to ‘Amen’ I performed a quick etymology check revealing it’s intended meaning as “so be it” or “truth”.
Let us conclude with the only truth to be found in our initial sentence; Am. There is an obvious temptation to use the phrase “I Am” which is extremely popular in spiritual texts and discussions. But in this context I see “I” and “Am” as two words carrying the same meaning. There is no “I” apart from being, and no being apart from “I”. Perhaps the best way to express this is to write it: “I, Am”.
What an interesting story of a little known spiritual guru named Robert Adams. Please take 10 minutes to check it out.
Having spent the last couple of days pondering awareness I had the urge to write down what I was feeling in the format you see below. Starting each sentence with “I am aware” and then following with the feeling. Pretty basic as you can see.
I am aware that I am sick
I am aware that I am tired
I am aware that I am frustrated
At first glance it appears that I am two things. Focussing on the first sentence “I am aware that I am sick” I appear to be both aware and sick. I don’t suppose being one precludes being the other. I can be aware and be sick without implying a duality of some sort. Unlike the duality Eckhart Tolle noticed while on the edge of suicide (“I” can not live with my “self”).
But can either of those aspects exist without the other?
First of all, can I be sick without being aware? If I am not aware that I am sick then it is like I am not really sick at all. I could theoretically still have all of the symptoms of being sick (i.e. stuffed up nose, headache, and watery eyes) but it would go unnoticed. And if I don’t notice when I am feeling unwell then it must continue that I wouldn’t recognize when I am feeling well. In fact, if I am not aware then it is conceivable that I wouldn’t notice anything! It would be no different than if I didn’t exist at all.
What about the possibility of being aware without being sick? At first it seems like a simple question. If I am not sick I can still be aware that I am feeling well. But the deeper question is this “Can I be aware if there is nothing to be aware OF?” It is essentially asking if awareness existed prior to the beginning of the universe. Those who speak of awareness with the utmost certainty describe it as timeless. They say it has no end because it has no beginning. One can therefore assume that the existence of awareness does not depend on some form to be aware of.
Before there was the universe, there was awareness. There may be no greater description of the purpose of existence than to say it is awareness searching for itself. That to truthfully utter the following words is to take comfort in having fulfilled your destiny.
I am aware that I am aware
That looks an awfully lot like I am that I am. Maybe it would be more accurate to say I am aware that I am awareness.
But what does this mean in how I live my life? I can easily say that I am aware that I am sick but that still gives me no comfort. Isn’t achieving an inner peace the goal of all of this contemplation anyways
What if I say I am aware that I am aware that I am sick.
Woah! I am either on to something or two steps away from the loony bin. I guess the final judgement comes down to whether or not a realization helps you live a better life. The only choice that I am left with in all of this is where do I choose to dwell, or place my attention. In the awareness, or in the sickness.
“Depression isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you’ve been strong for too long.”
This is one of the most popular quotes on depression but it has me wondering, what does it really mean to be strong?
Culturally, strength is often associated with size, power, and aggression. But the concept of being strong in the face of depression has nothing to do with any of those. It is entirely an internal battle. One voice in your head says you’re worthless, and the other says you’re awesome. I would say that many people view strength here as carrying on with daily living even as the negative voice starts to completely drown out the positive.
Another purpose of this quote is to address the idea that people who are much less affected by adversity are much stronger than those who respond with anxiety and fear. The truth is that there are internal factors at play in every individual that no one can really understand. If that apparent strong individual had to listen to a persistent internal negative voice for 15 years they probably would not appear so resilient. But does that mean strength is the absence of negative self talk?
Perhaps, those that appear strong have just never been forced to discover the true depth of their strength.
So then what exactly is the depth of true strength? It can not be that unending desire to reinforce the positive in opposition to all of the negative. Yes it may work for a while but it seems like so much effort, especially for the one who is already in a weakened state. But in the realm of duality there is one very relevant, eternal truth at play. The idea of good creates the idea of bad, right creates wrong, happiness creates sadness. If you want to get rid of the negative voice forever, you also need to lose the positive voice.
This does not in any way mean giving up. But it is the beginning of a spiritual transformation. It is the realization that whatever your mind says is, for lack of a better word, horseshit. But you are not meant to stop your mind from thinking. You are simply meant to stop giving it authority.
When I observe the most spiritually transformed individuals on the planet they appear to be immune to the debilitating effects of depression, anxiety, & fear. Or in many cases it was the intolerable suffering from these conditions that created their transformation. And they didn’t achieve this state through any kind of superior strength. They simply took a step back from the fight and saw it all as just a play of the mind.
Could it be true that being strong actually causes depression?
If your strength response to a negative thought, is a more powerful positive thought, then this quickly turns into a runaway train of a stronger negative thought. So the next time someone tells you to stay strong in the face of suffering, smile at the beauty of their intent but know in your heart that strength is not the way. Instead stay quietly present in your belief that whatever your mind says has no authority over the definition of who you truly are. Your true strength appears when you offer no resistance to any thought that your mind creates.
The next time you experience an unwanted or negative thought, dig into it and find it’s origins. Feel no shame and do not run from it. Search for it’s source of power. Be quiet and wait patiently for the answers to be revealed to you. Pay strict attention to it. Be intensely curious but unassuming. What do you find?
It just simply fades away.
There’s absolutely nothing there. It exists only superficially. It is just a thought. There is no depth and no truth to be found. As the thought fades from reality so does the body’s reaction to it. Whatever anxiety, guilt, or fear accompanied that particular thought goes away quite naturally.
There are some powerful implications here. Now you are free from resolving each disturbing thought that appears. Be calm simply in what your inquiry has revealed to you. Dwell in the knowledge that they are not real. There is no need to deal with it. No need to say that this is not me. That I am better than this thought. Or kinder. Or more loving.
A thought has no link to identity.
The deeper realization of this inquiry is that ALL thoughts are not real, good or bad. You can now be free of this entire realm of thinking. Yes they still happen but it means nothing to you. When you let this river of thought flow without disturbing it, you are also leaving behind the ideas of past and future as well. This is the true gateway to the now. The now is not a constantly moving point in time. It is a dimension completely separate from it.
“Water has no shape, its nature is to flow. If you put it into a vase it will take the shape of the vase. In this cup, it has assumed the shape of the cup. If poured into my cupped hands it will take the shape of the hands. But water has no shape. It is the same with the consciousness, which is subtler than water. It similarly has no form, but it assumes the form of whatever concept it is poured into or identifies with, but it will never be the form.
It remains ever its formless nature.”
If you prefer smoke over fire
then get up now and leave.
For I do not intend to perfume
your mind’s clothing
with more sooty knowledge.
No, I have something else in mind.
Today I hold a flame in my left hand
and a sword in my right.
There will be no damage control today.
For God is in a mood
to plunder your riches and
fling you nakedly
into such breathtaking poverty
that all that will be left of you
will be a tendency to shine.
So don’t just sit around this flame
choking on your mind.
For this is no campfire song
to mindlessly mantra yourself to sleep with.
Jump now into the space
and exit this dream
before I burn the damn place down.
Why is honesty so hard? My writing often feels forced. Whether I am trying to be too poetic, or poignant, or prophetic it is struggle to stay true to who I am. I am writing as if I am the person I want to be, not who I am. I struggle. I doubt. I suffer. I feel hopeful and hopeless. How can I write so much about abandoning thought when I still feel so trapped in my own? I have my moments and I try to write about those moments. They often lose power in my words.
I am afraid of honesty because of how vulnerable it will reveal me to be. I have been through some pain but it has been self inflicted. My life has been good. By good I mean nothing compared to the struggles of others. There has been no divorce, no cancer in anyone close to me, no drug addictions, no serious financial issues, nothing that typically would make someone suffer. I was single for a long time (married at 36) and I think near the end of my bachelorhood I was being pretty hard on myself.
My honesty feels superficial. I can only be honest to the extent that I am aware of the truth. There I go trying to be poetic again. There is alot of uncertainty in me. Alot of “What right do I have to express such deep truths?” I am consumed by this spiritual journey. Unfocussed at work at times. But other days, when I have some sort of breakthrough, I am very motivated and productive in both my leadership and execution. Many days I think that my spirituality will lead me away from this desk and thus I seem to value it less now. Of course that is not really accepting the present moment.
Last night, I had a moment of clarity. If you can forgive the spiritual lingo I will try to explain. Looking around my family room the feeling of oneness was strong. I could feel the underlying beingness of all things. Everything I looked at had in it the same thing that was deep within me. There was no separation. And without separation there is no I, no identity, no me. I may have eyes and ears but it was not me looking. It was the universe looking upon itself. And if there’s no me, no individual life, then there’s no individual death. That force within me will continue on in all things long after my body goes. I must sound like I’m off my rocker…
In my spiritual journey I am trying to have experiences like this but I wonder if I’m actually having it or is it just because I have read about it. I do actually feel peaceful during these revelations but it fades quickly. Last night was great but only this morning was my mind overactive again repeating my same patterns.
When I go to work in the mornings I regularly take a few moments in my car after parking for a little reflection, some writing, trying to get my head straight. This morning I found myself asking what do I need to do to have a more permanent shift. The response came that no thought would have saved me from my thoughts this morning. There was nothing I could have done differently. I am relying or hoping that some key thought will present itself that I can use in those moments to set the ship back on course. This is non-acceptance. From thinking that something needs to be changed. I wrote that it’s like trying to pour water into a cup that’s already full. I am already complete and in trying to change myself I create the problem.