by Leatrice Evanne Asher
(this is an abridged version of the original article that was published in the Word Magazine, Published by The Word Foundation, Inc. – Autumn issue 2015)
The tendency to view our Beings and the world through judgments, assumptions, and false beliefs stands in the way of correct information reaching us. Seeing rightly is perceiving Truth. One who has penetrated the maze of this dream world and awakened—from untruths to Reality—may feel compelled to communicate that understanding. But how then to convey this in the language of a world that has largely forgotten?
“Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep” – Shakespeare – The Tempest
One of the greatest misconceptions—that leads to pain and suffering—is thinking that we are the body. The body is a temporary structure that we, the Doer, occupy for our earthly journey. The Doer is an eternal, on-going conscious entity that perceives the sensations of the body but is not those sensations because it is not the body. It is like someone who rents a room. When the renter is in the room, is that person then the room? The same analogy applies to the Doer’s relationship to the body. Understanding reincarnation and other eternal Truths about who and what we are and our purpose on this earthly plane will help create the opening to see rightly, to make sense of things. Without this larger vista of information, we can only return to those false beliefs. If pain and suffering are still a large part of your world, it may be helpful to consider that your present way of thinking and perambulating through life may not be working. There is another way.
When what we are as separate from the body comports with our reasoning mind, we are “seeing rightly.” This understanding brings freedom from suffering because we will no longer be mistakenly thinking that all those sensations that arise from body-mind belong to us, the eternal conscious entity whose residence for this incarnation is the body. Without that understanding, we will continue to nurture and perpetuate the belief that our identity —that which we refer to as “I”—is the inherent basis of our being, and we will be perpetuating the pain and confusion that result from that misperception
Does this false I exist? It would be more accurate to say that it operates, but through a mistaken notion that it has objective existence. This confusion about the I’s identity makes it more difficult to call our attention to its Truth or falseness. If we don’t think that this I that we operate from day to day is a distortion of Reality, then, of course, it cannot be known. Once known, it is a delusion. Not known, it is what we think we are. To state this differently: the human being is a concrete objective existence of the false I even though it is merely a relative reality.
An excerpt from the Buddhist Maha Prajna Paramita Hridaya Sutra says this about our true, original nature: “No eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no color, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of mind . . .” Although these words might be understood through our reasoning mind, they can only be known through direct experience. Once known, this doesn’t mean that we then move through our lives without using our sense receptors. When no longer deceiving ourselves, our relationship to the senses will also change because what is perceived will no longer be filtered through incorrect beliefs.
The senses perceive outwardly, but when what is innermost is engaged, we begin to deepen into the Truth of our Being. Even with this more accurate perspective, we’re still the same person that we’ve always been. Feelings of anger, sadness, fear will still arise because these are valid expressions of emotions and sensations in our particular “I” world. Still, when they are finally seen as the materialized form of I having experiences, they lose their punch so that we are more quickly returned to a balanced state.
The more anchored we are in our stance (what we present to the world, and ourselves, as Sue Jones, John Brown), the farther we recede from freedom of these creations and fathoming Reality. To even entertain the notion that these illusory beings do not exist, except in our mind, may seem not only inconceivable but frightening—that that which we believe to be our very existence is nonexistent. That most humans are unaware they are living with this deception makes it all the more difficult to dispel. We further mislead ourselves, albeit unconsciously, by what we might call “over-existing”—continuing to add layers of complexity to the identity we’ve fashioned for ourselves, and claim to be, further branding and particularizing our creation of the false I. We do this to be seen how we want to be seen, somewhat similar to how animal hides are branded to denote ownership. In our case, there is nothing to own; there never has been, except what we have created and continue to create through our thinking and desiring.
We don’t have to be spiritual, well-read, monkish, or virtuous to experience Reality. Anyone can awaken regardless of their station in life, their moral compass. The ability to perceive through the fog isn’t an undertaking destined only for a chosen few. Every human being surely needs to know the Truth of him or herself. There are times when we may be motivated and find sustenance from information offered by teachers, books, groups, and these can certainly be helpful. Still, it would be a travesty if we were to then stand down from our inner operating field, especially if we regarded it as not worthy enough, capable enough, to access wisdom. How can we look inward with confidence to locate the Truth of ourselves if we’re always looking outward for assurance? Although other sources can help expand and deepen our understanding, awaking is a solo affair. No one can hold our hand or take us there. We wake ourselves up as we finally lean inward. Awakening may or may not be a one-stop occurrence. More may be required of us to deepen into that awareness. But this initial “seeing rightly” can certainly liberate us from the grave and mistaken notion of the I that we subscribe to . . . from youth to death. The problem is that almost everyone is convinced that these contrived beings are the only Reality. Maybe this should be of even more concern to us!
If we wish freedom from this universal distortion of Reality, then in-sighting must continue; otherwise, we will remain shackled to this mistaken notion of personal identity, a creation that we continue to shore up unwittingly. Meditation is a way to become acquainted with that creation. Although initially it may be helpful to be part of a formal meditation practice, once we learn how to quiet into our inner operating field, we can do so anywhere, at any time. Silence is profound. It’s where Truth lies. The usual condition of our mind is that of constant activity with no real focus. Stillness is a sanctum that offers respite from the myriad daily distractions and stimuli, such as food, drugs, television, and all the other things we hanker after. There is joy in knowing that this wellspring exists—a place where we can be nourished at the most fundamental level of being. Here, we can also access knowledge about ourselves, not just sensory information.
The following are tools that can contribute to awakening to more profound degrees of consciousness
- Watch the process of thinking passively, like you would the fleeting scenes on a movie screen. We can’t control thoughts; we can only watch them. From this observant place, the origin of thoughts can become known through directly experiencing that knowing.The coming to Light of how we create our world through thinking and desiring isn’t just a more profound level of understanding; it is the being of that understanding.
- Don’t judge what you observe. Denying, bad-mouthing, or glorifying the arisings of mind only adds more thought-forms. Correct seeing will configure an alignment with Truth and the way we have created, and continue to create, our world.
- Stay with your process, which may be different from these words or even the words of someone you consider a superior moral and intellectual being. Don’t try to replicate what someone else has said or experienced. Leave unfilled space to authenticate for yourself. Nothing should be accepted carte blanche. These words should also be scrutinized, tested, and retested against your field of functioning.
- View pleasure and pain with the same detachment. Overly delighting and sorrowing disturbs our equanimity as we first will have to penetrate through those emotional arisings.
- We are already that which we seek. We just don’t know it.
Fearlessness is needed to set aside all of our dearly held assumptions. If we are filled up with ideas, even, especially grand and lofty ones, they will stand in the way of our ability to know the Truth of who and what we are. Are we willing to give up all those cherished, accumulated ideas? That much of how we are in the world is based on misinformation; questioning those views may seem like a death of sorts, and it is, but a death we will revive from better for our knowing. Although waking to Reality may well allow for more ease and a feeling of well-being in our lives we may still have tests before us; however, those events will now benefit from seeing rightly.