Removing Ourselves from Ourselves

Lake Gaston – Island Goats – 2010

Consensus Reality

Have you ever pondered the beliefs we cherish about the world we perceive? For instance, do you believe in an external, concrete world that’s tangible, independent, and outside of you? Most of us do, I did, until someone asked me if I ever considered all the beliefs I had accumulated about life, about reality, about the world. It was a head-scratching moment for me.

We are taught to believe a consensus reality of the world with us/me located at the center of what our senses are comprehending.  This is how we are wired to survive. Maybe one percent of us are eventually able to see beyond the relative world to see aware presence, aware of itself as aware presence, as the character or doer, and as Absolute dreaming its own dream as Itself.

When there is a consensus of beliefs this sets up an alternate reality which is innocently shared, and communicated. The world is flat. There is a past and a future. Humans will never fly, or go into space, or land on the Moon. Most of us at one time believed there was one consistent and enduring reality referred to as the world and the universe. We now know this is not so, but I definitely would not have believed this in 2010 even though I had studied the nondual teachings and A Course in Miracles since 1989.

Our human brains are wired to label and compare this to that for our very survival — to measure, judge, and separate reality into inner and outer realms based on a belief in an objective and relative world of subjects and objects. I was surprised to realize the volume of beliefs I held to be truths without ever investigating them for myself. I was living from a consensus belief of the world, and when I realized this I felt stupid. Why had no one ever mentioned we were living in an illusory consensus reality? I wondered if others had been seized by this realization, and if so, where were these kindred folks? I found them at a local Inquiry Group quietly peeling the onions of beliefs and concepts. (This is perhaps one of the greatest blessings in my life, finding my tribe).

Trusting in a consensus set of beliefs, we “miss the mark” of perceiving what simply is because we ignore nature’s laws which are governed by quantum principles and not by mere human beliefs. Did you know the definition of sin is “missing the mark” and this language, as I understand it, is used widely in the sport of archery.

Pivoting

But honestly, how are we to remove ourselves from ourselves while perceiving the world?  We cannot remove ourselves as long as there is a body but it appears we can surrender to being confused, being in pain, suffering, being clueless about what we really need. It is at that tender moment that God/Grace seems to open an interior door allowing us to see we are traveling in the wrong direction and comprehend just how programmed we really are. It’s frightening to realize we are living as robots and readily swallowing a conceptual consensus overlay (culture, science, education, religion, history, philosophy, etc…) added over and covering what is simply original, fresh, pure, and fleeting…as this moment.

How humbling it is to see we are seeking truth in exactly the wrong direction. What is the direction? Close your eyes and pivot, and you have it  — it’s this breath…here…now. The direction of the pathless path is never deeper into the brain/mind. The direction is in the opposite direction, it’s out of the brain and towards the heart…from claiming, naming, and labeling to letting go, surrendering, and being here now without the mental commentary about the now…just innocence, freshness, newness, without needing or knowing a single label, name, or description about what is appearing as this moment.

That’s perfect peace…living here, now, open, completely vulnerable, simply not knowing, and knowing that no amount of knowing will ever explain the unexplainable. Yet we still try to communicate what is beyond words and understanding through music, art, dance, writing, and pointing towards nature.

Brain/Mind Internal Storage – Separate Me and My World

When we pivot, we begin to see the brain cannot record and store this present moment, this now. The brain is only capable of storing and recording a story about the now-that-just-zipped-by in awareness.  In other words, the brain only stores the past, a memory, a story about the moment. The brain can never record this moment since this moment is too fleeting. This moment appears and disappears so quickly that any perception of it or description of it is always in the past. Mostly, we are living the stories of the brain’s memory banks that we tell ourselves about this moment or about me. Rarely are we awake to what is here, now, fresh, original, as this.

I urge you to examine your beliefs, and then examine your examining, and then examine you. This work of dissolving our identities as personal selves is not for the average human as most of us are too comfortable being our illusory selves. I’ve seldom met an original thinker as most of us just swallow what we are taught and graze on the fodder of well-meaning parents, teachers, preachers and the tribal and ancestral customs. I notice there are very few with a profound and burning desire to peel the layers of falsehoods, to deeply look within and explore the dark shadows of beliefs and grasp how we create separation and reality with these beliefs, and finally awaken as original, edgeless, absolute infinite identity.

Subtraction – Backing Away from Untruth

I found out directly that we cannot move towards Truth/God/Absolute/Divine (we already are that) but it seems we can back away from, subtract, and dissolve all the beliefs and concepts that are not Truth thus making an easier go of seeing Truth in all its radiant glory. This process of backing away from untruth is really the basis of the teachings the great sages (Jesus, the Buddha, St. Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart) have been pointing towards.  Sadly, most of us do not have ears to hear nor eyes to see these paradoxical truths, nor are we willing to surrender deeply enough to realize the Truth already burning brightly within and without, here, now, as this fleeting perfect moment. 

Dark Night of the Soul

So few are willing to spend time and energy in solitude examining the layers of the little self to see all the layers building up the walls of separation and personal identity. I’ve read a few stories where awakening is spontaneous… Ramana Maharshi quickly comes to mind and there are a few others but most authentic awakenings seem to arise after years, even decades, of solitary introspection, inquiry, and painful dark nights of the soul. There is much peeling away and dissolving into thinner and thinner versions of self. And yes, the peeling and thinning continues. This was/is the case for me and most of the dear ones I know awakening within the dream as the dream.

Know this: you cannot mess up, you cannot get it wrong, you have never made a mistake, you are perfect just as you are, even if you do not believe it. There is only this here now.

Before I close, I encourage you share your comments and questions below…I’d love to hear from you about this post and also read your suggestions for topics or specifics for new essays.

anita

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14 Comments

  1. Thank you for these pointers, Anita.
    Was a meditation practice or/and time spent alone helpful to you on your journey?

    • Hi Jan, thanks for posting. Indeed, I began meditating in 1992 when I took a meditation class at the local Buddhist Temple. I’ve been meditating daily since. It took 15+ years of meditation to finally be able to quickly notice the habits and strategies of the mental processes without getting caught up in the Anita story.

      We are wired as humans to produce thoughts and we can train ourselves to watch them floating across awareness just like clouds float across the infinite sky. Thoughts are not a problem, they are simply an organic electrical expression of this hydroelectric plant we call the human body.

      Believing our thoughts and claiming them as personal is what causes our suffering.

      If all the thoughts passing through your awareness were about someone other than you, say Oprah or Abraham Lincoln, would they cause you trouble?

      Ignore your thoughts and watch were your feet carry you in life. Notice how the body is being moved and you’ll see where you are headed. All else is noise. Hugs, anita

      • Thanks, Anita. I would be interested in being alerted if you ever post any of the talks you give with Jenny. Loved the first one you both did for TAT.

      • Thanks, Jan for the feedback. Will do…Jenny and I are pondering offering an upcoming retreat this spring or early summer.

  2. Wonderful post – brought me back to a state of peace. Love the simplicity of “nothing-ness”. Thanks! Hope to meet you next weekend. My husband Jim and I have recently moved to Garner. Amelia

  3. Wow, what a rich post! Thank you. The title made me laugh. It would be such an impossible task — creating ourselves in order to remove ourselves. I think I’ve tried that before many times. 🙂 And your response to Jan is so spot-on perfect: “Ignore your thoughts and watch where your feet carry you in life. Notice how the body is being moved and you’ll see where you are headed.”

  4. Anita, thank you for taking the time to share some of your Self/self, and for wise pointing. I also feel stupid when I realize how blind I have been/am, and just why it hasn’t occurred to me to question sooooo many things. The more I learn and realize, the more I realize I don’t know.

    I’m so confused that i don’t even know where to begin….how much to write, how much to leave out for now. I have been attempting examining for some years now, but it’s difficult to see when the eyes seem to have thick layers of film over them, and what is being examined is constantly changing and/or so subtle. Some things just don’t appear solid enough to really examine; I’m getting a very strong feeling lately that it’s just my inability to stay focused long enough.

    When you talk about “examine my examining,” do you mean ask questions such as: Where did that belief originate, is that true, what makes it true or untrue, etc? Or, do you mean something like examine how the mind works? (How can I Truly examine my ‘mind’ when I don’t Really know where it is, or what it is. There seems to be ‘parts’ to the mind; I would like it if you could write about that at some point in the future).

    Thanks for posting, Anita, and thanks for reading.

    • Thanks Grateful for your heartfelt words and for sharing a bit of the view from your path.

      Yes, the mind is a tricky buggar! The word “mind” conjures vague imaginings related to thinking, processing, remembering, comparing, and sorting. Lately I’m more often referring to the mind as the “mental processes” as Paul Hedderman does since this seems a clearer symbol for digging into the buried beliefs and stories that influence the character.

      “Examine my examining” covers both inquiry of the particular belief/concept and the scientific nature of the brain and the mind/mental processes. I have a draft chapter written in an upcoming book that digs into the science of the brain and the mental processes. I’ll create a post about this topic for next month.

      anita

  5. Ask and ye shall receive! Thank you, Anita, for your willingness to create a post on “the mind.”

    For many years I have felt like I was not in control of much of anything, and still feel like that. However, over the past few months I keep getting a sense that I’m doing all of this…I, (not the person) am creating all of this. And, re-reading your post just now, I see that you wrote, “…grasp how we create separation and reality with these beliefs…” I am very aware of a part of me that is extremely afraid to continue looking deeper. Is it because I don’t want to grow up and become responsible? Is it because I’m afraid that I’ll find that I really should be ashamed of who/what I am? Am I afraid life will be boring? The last time I looked at my resistance to letting go of the mind/surrendering, something within said, “You (God/Awareness) are asking too much of me, it’s dangerous to let go of the mind—-I won’t stand up for myself anymore, people will take advantage of me, my whole life could fall apart….i’ll get hurt physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially.” There is a part of me that knows this is not true; I have experienced that peace ‘that passeth all understand,’ and I have met and heard many others talk of the Liberation when the mind is let go of.

    I will continue working on trust, surrender, and staying focused. Thank you for Being a Light that guides; you help to make the journey a little less scary. (hug)

    grateful

    • Hi again Grateful,

      There is no need to grow up…unless you really want to. Are your bills and credit cards being paid on time now? The same energy that pays the bills will continue to pay the bills. Upon awakening you will discover that the ‘you as you are now’ is the same you upon awakening but seen with a more loving and accepting lens. You will still stand up for yourself if need be. I had to learn to let go of being so strict and adult-like as my personality is prone to being parental and bossy. I am much more child-like now and enjoy the delight of simply being. When work needs to be done then work is done. When playing, there is only playing and no thought of work.

      I understand being afraid. Upon the brink of awakening, I thought I was literally going to disappear and die, morph into something unrecognizable. Surprisingly, I found I remained as Anita and realized I was and always had been Absolute Consciousness too. I wept for days at how hard I was on the little self Anita all those decades trying to make her into a spiritual and worthy being. No need to do that as you are perfection at this very moment. It’s not that the mind or mental processes are let go. It’s that they move from the driver’s seat of the bus to the back row where they are helpful with navigation and making lists and paying bills. 🙂

      love and hugs to you Grateful and email me anytime.

  6. On point, as always! Many thanks and many hugs!

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