Thoughts and reality
In the first part of this series, we took a closer look at thoughts: those elusive, ongoing interpretations coming from our minds, commenting on whatever happens or is about to happen. Sometimes they’re like a babbling stream, and sometimes they are painful triggers of feeling unloved, lonely or anxious.
We found that thoughts are products of the memory, projected on the present, associations or old beliefs that keep repeating themselves just because they can, and most of the time not connected to what is actually happening. We found that thoughts are just illusions unless we believe them to be real. And even then, even when we are completely mesmerized by their content, feeling miserable or full of fear from their stories, nothing actually happens. We suffer from what we think is happening. Without thought, the present moment is seldom the source of our pain. Reality is much milder than our thoughts want us to believe.
In part two, we got deeper into the consequence of seeing thought for what it is: just thought. Most thoughts seem to arise from a sense of “me.”
This “me” hardly ever seems to be fully satisfied or loved enough. Many thoughts are generated in the seemingly neverending quest for fulfillment of this “me.” We look outside of ourselves for love, approval, respect, and safety, sometimes temporarily getting it, sometimes not. Even when we work hard for it, we never seem to come to rest, at peace with who we are.
The funny thing is that we also never ask ourselves if this “me” is real. Does it actually exist? When we honestly look at “me” to find out, we cannot really find a “me.” “Me” turns out to be just a thought, an assumption, an idea.
So if “me” is just a thought, what does that mean?
It means it cannot be what you are. You are not your history, your personality, your accomplishments. You are not the role that you play (mother, father, caretaker, teacher, etc.), You are not your issues. All these are ideas.
The freedom of not knowing.
So what are you then? What are you when you let go of all these labels? We don’t know what we are. And if we relax in this not knowing, we can lean back and allow everything to happen just as it is. We don’t need to defend our thought-constructed castles; we don’t need to worry ourselves sick about what can happen to us or our loved ones. We don’t even need to know how to live our lives. Our lives are already lived perfectly, all by themselves! Some people might find letting go scary. But it’s only when you turn this letting go into another that it can seem scary. It may sound as if there is no control (which is true) or as if nothing matters anymore; there’s just empty, hopeless nothingness. To the mind, which always seeks meaning and fulfillment, it might seem this way. But when you let that thought go, there is just the immediacy of what is here now. So intimate, so natural. It is how it is already before our personal history comes in.
Letting go of what we think we are Anxiety comes up when we believe we are separate from life. We start to worry when we believe in the thought that we can be attacked or damaged. And of course we can (and most probably will) experience illness, hurt, physical pain and loss. We will experience it, but will never be defined by it. When we let go of what we think we are, we don’t need to manipulate life to protect all these beliefs we have. We can just be open to what is, as it is. Slowly, we can let go of our defenses and find out we are still here, that life becomes much lighter every time we dare to just feel our feelings, even when it really hurts. When we dare to be willing to open to whatever comes up, even when we feel completely lost.
Every time we let go of our personal claim on what we feel, we will be rewarded by the unconditional, loving embrace of life itself. It is not easy. We are so attached to our stories, to our hope that one day someone or something will save us. You may find that pride or resentment keep you from letting go, right until you realize the only prisoner of your revenge is you. We all long to love fully, to live life fully, to be who we truly are. We all long to let go of control, of the voices in our heads that tell us we are no good.
Let’s stop waiting for rescue. Let’s stop waiting for the moment we will be “ready” to look at the truth. It will never happen. We will never be ready. See through the illusion and find freedom. The only way to become free of the endless chain of hope and despair is to see through the illusion of the person we think we are. That person can never be whole, never be at ease. It will always compare itself with others, always look desperately for completeness outside of itself, because it has no core, no reality of itself. That doesn’t mean we have no uniqueness. We are all different expressions of life. And the remarkable thing is, the more we let go of our so-called identity, the more we are free to live that unique expression. That happens all by itself! No longer are our thoughts in the way, telling us we should behave differently or look better. What a relief to just be, to love this expression of life, even when it is not perfect in the eye of the mind! What a relief to not defend this “me” any longer, not to cherish it so much! When we realize that we don’t know who we are, the mystery of life reveals itself again, fresh and new. Not knowing who you are is emptying your life of meaning. All of it. And when you are willing to let everything go that you ever believed in — every scrap of it — suddenly this meaningless emptiness will be filled to the brim with life. It will be filled with meaning! Maybe not the way you had in mind, but alive in a way you might not have expected. Effortlessly.
If you would like to investigate this through meditation then join me on the mat in my class:
The freedom of not knowing
Looking forward to your comments,