There is nothing more “spiritual” than being self aware. There is no better “practice” or “sadhana” than self-awareness.
What is it?
Everything happening “outside” impacts “inside”. Become conscious, aware of the changes inside. Similarly, what is “inside” impacts “outside.” When there is no difference between “inside” and “outside” we are self-aware.
But then, who are we?
What you ARE. No further explanations needed. No more mind to figure things out. To define, to make a pretty concept is to deceive ourselves. It is an experience.
When speaking with your boss, notice what is going on inside. Let us not put a label. Just notice.
When watching a movie, notice the changes inside during the movie. Notice how something which is not “real” (movie) becomes “real” inside us.
How is that possible? We live through the mind.
On-line friends is all mind.
Conditioning through TV is all mind.
Pornography, all about the mind. Fulfillment in sex is totally in no-mind.
That awareness is one of the most important realizations someone aware could have.
Let us not think that we “know” now, because it is only information.
That theoretical “knowing” is complete ignorance. We need to experience it ourselves to know. We need to be AWARE.
Notice how the mind creates our moods. Someone cut me off while I was driving. The “offender” went away; nevertheless, the episode stays with me. The origin is that I feel belittled. How did he dare to do that to ME? The mind will not let go.
Notice how long it takes to “move” from that situation. How long it takes to let go. Many things will have to happen to entertain our minds before we let go. What is stopping us from letting go right away?
Discover that. That is “true” spirituality.
Observe the way we walk. Observe how a thought to “hurry up” changed our otherwise, calm and relaxed movement. Are you aware of your breathing while walking? Are you aware of the force we apply every step on the ground? Many injuries on the joints have started through that inoffensive walk.
Want to be calm in a discussion? Just observe how your mood changes. That is all it takes. Like a yo-yo, go back to your center. “Move” back again. Let go.
For that to work, we need to become aware of the mind and how it obligates us to behave in certain ways, according to our conditioning.
Have you experience OCD? It is the mind taking over. There is no will power that could stop that, for will power is another game of the mind.
Just become totally aware of the silliness, of the force beyond our conscious will. That “practice” becomes the cure when we let go.
Have you become aware of how much we eat? How much of that is emotional hunger? How much of that is the mind telling us that we need more or less?
Have you noticed when we sleep well at night, the mind has been completely shut down? An overworked mind will remember at night the movie we watched or the emotional episode we went through, stopping our needed relaxation to sleep well. As this becomes a habit, we will use a pill to knock us out so we can sleep.
When there is mind, we observe. There is an “I” observing.
When there is no mind, there is no one observing.
That is known in spirituality as “witnessing” or a “detached observer.”
What is “no mind”? Pure, unconditioned Consciousness.
The core of any worthwhile “spirituality” or self-help/psychology is in the understanding of our own mind.
I am not saying “study” of our minds. This is not about what scientists have discovered and for us to use that information just to be “right.”
When we are understanding ourselves, to “reinvent the wheel” is necessary. No one can give us insight through second hand information, unless we are ready to look, become aware and learn from that.
Observe the conditioning in our minds. What we know about or “civilized” society is conditioning. We expect “reality” to follow those guidelines but we may find out that Life does not follow the commandments, laws and guidelines of the “Office world.”
We have a thought. Did we willfully come up with it? Or perhaps, it just appeared? Have we observed that.
Do we become aware of the thought arising, or we simply IDENTIFY with it and call it “mine”? This question is the beginning to find out more about our minds.
At this time, there are millions of people suffering from some kind of mental issue.
What do they have in common? Contact is lost with external “reality.”
In other words, these individuals strongly believe in what their minds dictate.
Someone suffering from schizophrenia, have a “reality” which is undeniable to them. They feel very strong about it. That creates the clash with a different reality of “normal” people. Psychosis, depression, bipolar disorder, dementia… all of those fancy terms, basically describe a mind that is not in touch with “reality.”
If we identify with the contents of our minds, we may live a miserable life. Ego resides right there. Ego is interested in being “right.”
As a person evolves into a different consciousness, that person will realize how forceful our minds could be.
Someone suffering from OCD, is bound to perform certain repetitive actions because in his mind, those activities will bring some benefit. If those actions are not performed, then a sense of guilt and uneasiness will arrive. The mind has control over that person.
Because our society lives in the mind, there is no other “authority” to trust but the conditioning and contents of that mind. That is until we know about out gut-feeling, our heart feelings or any other fancy label to describe a direct knowing which is not necessarily logical or follows a particular benefit for ourselves. To be able to trust “that,” and discern it from the mind, is to create the gap from the rule of the mind.
It is that space, the one that will allow us to observe our own mind.
For example, when we interview someone for a job. We could ask the same questions to all candidates, grade them, add them up and see who is the top candidate. That is the world of the mind, what we have been conditioned to believe. The worshiped idea to be “fair” is there. Nevertheless, personality traits may be covered by someone who is a good talker, a funny person, etc. To observe beyond the answers, becomes important, and to listen to our gut feeling is even more important. Nevertheless, that is not considered to be “fair,” for it is not following “guidelines,” etc. That is the dilemma.
The bottom line is that, we could learn about this experience only if we are AWARE, otherwise; we will perform mechanically the same steps every time there is the label “interview” in our minds, for the conditioning is strong.
We are asleep.
Thus, in that example we could follow the strict steps of the mind to hire someone, or we could go with our gut feeling; but what creates insight and open up our consciousness, is simply to be AWARE that we went with the mind or the heart.
That AWARENESS is the choice-less choice where freedom from the tyranny of the mind resides.
One day Patrick was walking barefooted around his father’s room, then he jumped into that bed. His father immediately “pulled his ear,” by telling Patrick that his feet were dirty and that he must not jump into a clean bed. Moreover, Patrick’s dad was very particular about the ceremony of “washing hands” before eating and after touching anything that could have germs…
“Did you wash your hands?” was the ongoing question from his father.
Patrick learned about germs and the need to wash his hands after touching anything “dirty” for otherwise, to forget about it could be very contagious to others and potentially harmful for himself.
The seed for fear was created and for feeling guilty as well.
You wonder how is it possible for a human being to live when there are so many germs around us and inside us as well… 🙂
Patrick’s father was afraid that someone could break into his car. He used to double-check that his car was locked.
He double-checked that the door in his house was locked and that there was no light on inside or outside the house, to save electricity and his electric bill.
“Why is this light on?” was one of his recurrent questions…
Patrick’s dad was a perfectionist as well, specially with Patrick.
What a great dad! He is always looking to save some money and concerned about cleanliness and security in his house… 🙂
As Patrick became older, he developed the same insecurities and guilt since he was a highly “moral” person. Patrick felt guilt if he didn’t comply to what his father has taught him. Patrick developed OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder.)
Patrick had some thoughts which provoked fear in him. Patrick needed to repeat his activities to make sure that everything was well done even though he was aware of doing the task “right.”
Guilt was the feeling. Something “bad” could happen, someone could get a disease, or lose a belonging due to not checking enough.
The same obsessive behavior was latent in his religious practices. Patrick needed to pray to God 10 times every day so his sins could be absolved.
Patrick felt that God, the father; could punish him if he did not follow his prescribed routine. Patrick called that fear of being punished as “love to God.”
Hell was waiting there for him unless he became a perfect “saint.” 🙂
This fear was in him already. Patrick needed to do things “perfect.” Nothing but perfection. Otherwise, he could feel anxious, worried, fearful…
This fear of making “mistakes” was obvious in his life. Patrick wanted to change. He realized that this fear was just a ghost from the past, and he wanted to stop those repetitive actions, but he couldn’t.
“From now on… I will not repeat my checking or any compulsive activities” he would promise himself.
But he failed… then he felt guilty… then he asked God for forgiveness which in turn meant to pray 10 times.
Patrick asked the priest how to liberate himself from this mental disease. The priest told him. “You just have to have will power and ask God to help you.” “Just fight against that. Don’t let that dominate you.”
Patrick learned to fight for everything. Patrick learned to oppose, to reject.
After a long while of seeing his own “failure” and after asking so many times for forgiveness, Patrick decided to change his approach into a different way.
It was a great realization.
Patrick learned about not going into the opposites, the extreme polarities of things.
The world teaches us to oppose things, to reject. It is the fight of “evil against good.” When we apply that teaching in ourselves to improve a habit, this only means to suffer mentally or physically the effects of that inner fight.
Patrick decided to use the “middle way” instead.
How is that?
Whenever Patrick felt that need to repeat things, he would stop and say to himself: “ This tendency to repeat things is not mine. It belongs to my father. Let things be as they are.” Then he would sit down and to pacify the feelings in his body, he would eat a candy and calm his martyred inner child’s mind: “Things will be alright. Enjoy this candy instead.” Then the feelings subdue.
Patrick used the same energy but channelized in a different way. There was no need to use “will power” to stop things but just to be aware.
Patrick learned that there was no need to reject or to fight against himself, but just to recognize that what he had learned many years ago was to feel guilty and that this feeling has made him feel that he does not deserve good things in life, but rather to be fearful by not doing things “right.”
Spirituality is more than praying or asking for things. It is primarily about that inner discovery, that inner change through our own observation. There is a LOT to see in ourselves.
Someone who feels guilty and who is unable to perceive that guilt will not be able to live life to the fullest no matter what religious practice this person engages in or how “saintly” his life seems to be.
Guilt, fear and OCD will be there despite any external practice. Observation and openness by no rejecting or opposing things may be the greatest “spiritual tools” to experiment in life.
Free of charge… so guilt free.. 🙂