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Suffering: A Game of the Mind
Are you sure you are who you think you are? If your reply is that you know who you are, is this a knowing that is learned or dependent on thoughts, ideas and beliefs? If so, then you have reduced your identity to concepts. Mind creates opinions and perspectives; that is its job. Can mind present Truth? Can it know or recognize Truth? Mind is a conditioned machine that adapts to ever changing circumstances, repositioning itself constantly in order to protect, survive and seek out experience. It does not have the capacity to know Truth. Yet within you there is an ability to recognize that which is beyond mind, beyond conceptual thought.
Mind constantly creates perspectives that range from subjective to global. These stories of mind are not an issue, however whole heartedly believing anything that your mind presents is the cause of all suffering. Here is how it works. Believing in or identifying with thoughts creates the idea of a thinker. This is the weak foundation on which your personal identity is based. As long as the thinker is taken to be real, the potential to suffer is present. Is your identity wrapped up with the one who thinks? In other words, do you believe you are the one thinking your thoughts? This ownership idea creates an autonomous 'you'. These constructs of mind are very potent and without examination they are believed into a subjective reality. Then life presents as real and the one you call yourself is the main actor. This idea of a 'personal i' brings the potential to suffer into existence.
The bottom line is that there can only be suffering if there is an individual one who suffers. Owning an experience personalizes it, making it yours. This is the point where an experience becomes yours, enriching the story of you. Upon examination of this process of thinking, the idea of a personal 'i', or the one you call yourself is seen to be no more than a thought enabling communication. It refers to a character and a body but this is not what you are. Conditioning has told you that you are your body and the workings of your mind are rarely questioned. Non duality explores the validity of what is commonly accepted to be real and true. It requires a willingness to see that life is not all about you. Events come and go and the central reference point shifts from 'all about me, my life' to the impersonal, to consciousness itself and finally to prior to consciousness. The foundation of all suffering, that which holds this matrix together rests on one lie, one thought which must be seen through. This lie is seen to have no basis and it dissolves with the indisputable seeing that there is no separate autonomous 'you'.
Mind has a working capacity, using common sense and skills for living, planning, working, etc. The thinking capacity, however, is where all pain (spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical) is birthed and sustained. It is nearly impossible to stop thinking, but if you identify yourself as the one who owns thoughts, then you as the thinker will suffer. This is simply mistaken identity.
Thoughts that you think are yours are not yours at all. That ownership idea arises from your belief that you exist as a separate entity. Is your human identity simply a set of beliefs and ideas taken to be true and reinforced by events and influences in life? All such ideas are concepts believed into existence, taken to be true and rarely challenged. Any sense of separation is a construct emanating from the "I exist" thought. Any experience of separation is fundamentally untrue and based on learned, conditioned beliefs.
It is only from your mind that the idea that you are separate in any way can arise. Mind will seek your attention until you examine and find out who/what you really are. Within this exploration perhaps the knowing will arise that what you are manifests as the totality of creation. However, in essence you are prior and beyond all that manifests.
Non duality can not offer you a lifestyle or a way to be in the world. It pulls your attention away from the outside world, encouraging you to settle your attention within, towards an innate peace and calm. This is where non duality begins it's magic, as it leads you to discover for yourself, what is the Truth underpinning all. What and who are you? What is the world about? What is it all for? This is the territory that non duality encourages you to explore. Concepts used in the non dual context are used only as pointers to enable you to examine what is real and unreal.
Do you know what makes you happy? Have you noticed that when you are experiencing happiness it's a feeling that doesn't last? Happiness arises in the absence of desire. When a desire is satisfied, all outward focus ceases and there is rest, peace. Before long, mind will present the next desire and the rollercoaster of thoughts begins again. It can be very useful to see that desire underpins the birthing of every thought of the 'personal i'.
What can be done regarding desires? Stop wanting what you haven’t got! What appears to be happening is as good as it gets and it's a waste of energy to resist manifestation. There is no point in wanting what you haven’t got, life will move you to go after what you need. What is for you cannot pass you by. Can you see that having desires will lead to a cycle of insatiable wants? There's no peace or happiness when following that thought cycle.
Running the idea of a desire is a natural movement of the mind. However, believing your thoughts and imagining that satisfying desire will make you happy is suffering. Watch the unending play of desires and see if you can recognize that the absence of desire allows the arising of an innate natural peace and happiness. Mind will quickly conclude that this state is boring or empty or lacks experience perhaps. Recognize that this is the re-emergence of desire again, seeking something better.
Part of the human experience is to seek out connection with others and with life. There's a pull to connect in everything alive. Deeper still the yearning for unity emerges and this unity consciousness is the goal of many spiritual practices. The interconnectedness of all in creation is there all the time but mind can only move within the flux between separation and unity consciousness until truth is seen. Non duality points beyond oneness, transcending all states of mind when it is seen that unity or oneness allows for one too many! When there is just one, there is in fact two, as there must be one to recognize that there is just one, so then there are two! The concept of 'one without a second' presents a model of unity also, but any concept is one concept too many and will only re-engage the mind where it has no place. This is the non dual approach. It points beyond mind towards absolute silence itself.
Do not rest on the idea of unity, for that concept offers another mistaken identity. What you are cannot be known intellectually. You can't 'get it' but there is an inner knowing within you that can recognize the aroma of what is exposed.
While these words are concepts, let it be seen that the best that the theory of non-duality can offer amounts to pointers to your true identity. It can tell you what you are not, but to tell you what you are would be replacing one false identity for another. What you are cannot be reduced to concepts. You are beyond concepts and ideas. You are not your body, and you are not your mind. Nor are you an identity created by mind. Imagining you are a separate autonomous human being is no more than a hypnosis, similar in quality to a night time dream when it shows itself to be of no substance once awakening happens. Do not reduce yourself to a concept.
You are not the thinker. All thoughts just pass through. None are of a higher quality than others. Whether you make thoughts yours or not is your play in the scheme of things. Bypass these mind games and be empty; remain quiet and stop being a thinker.
The journey of mind turning inward (away from external world of naming and judging in separation) can be called a spiritual path. On this path there are 2 essential tools, namely courage and honesty. Be honest with yourself about what thoughts are motivating what you say and how you behave. For example; admit to yourself when you are acting out of a desire to seek approval. Don't be afraid of your dark side, it must be there, as all things in duality have both light and dark.
To think that you need time, silence or any condition for spiritual knowledge to unfold within you is an attitude that does not serve. It is only when you identify yourself as someone who can be affected by experience, whose existence is dependent on the perception of how things happen, that suffering presents. What you are does not need to be quiet. There is nothing separate or united. These are thoughts accepted to be true. Remember that what you are cannot make mistakes, but mind can. The mind is an exquisite liar.
The discovery of spiritual knowledge is not a new project for your distraction. Do not be concerned with the entertainment and opinions of the ever-changeable and conditioned mind. Observe all that changes. Desires come and they go. What you are does not come and go. What you are does not change, is outside and beyond all of this.
Thoughts that you want to get it right, go all the way, know the Truth, are just mind doing its thing—generating desires. Regardless of what path you take, the unfolding of experience will continue. Let it be seen that experiencing happens but life cannot and does not touch what you are unless the 'personal i' story is running (owning/personalizing experiences). Fundamentally there is nothing you can do to speed up the recognition of who you are, life is not an obstacle to knowing Truth.
What you can do is begin to recognize what you are not. Don't be a slave of the mind. Its task is to present ideas in order to allow you to imagine that you can experience. What you are is not trying to find itself, it's not trying to heal itself - these are stories of the mind, believed into a subjective reality. What you are is outside of all of this. What you are is not aware that mind imagines and enables enjoyment of this wonderful life.
Find out for yourself if there is any validity to what is presented here. Go beyond these concepts, beyond thoughts and beliefs, beyond the story of 'you'. Find out if what you are is beyond all of this.
- Bullet points
- Observe your thoughts from a healthy distance. See them arise and fall and don't buy any of them!
- Familiarize yourself and understand the workings of desire. Find out for yourself that it is not the object of desire that brings pleasure; it's the absence of craving for something external that brings joy.
- Place your attention at the source of your next thought and settle there.
- Let it show itself that all creation, your world and your life are a sequence of thoughts believed into existence. Why? To enable a reality feel upon this imagined dream-world.
- What you are is beyond all of this and Truth reveals itself when thoughts no longer hold your full attention.