The title of this post isn't my own thought. It's from Michael Singer, author of "The Untethered Soul," a book I've been re-reading. Or re-re-reading (can't remember which). That's how much I like the book.
Which is sort of strange, because I don't believe we humans have, or are, a soul. And I also don't believe in the sort of pure awareness that Singer talks about in much the same way Ramana and other Advaita'ish teachers do.
Yet this is precisely one of Singer's main points: we can't make everything in life conform to our notions of how things should be. Including a book. Seems obvious, but it's an obviousness that isn't taken to heart by most people.
You just stop telling your mind that its job is to fix your personal problems. This job has broken the mind and disturbed the entire psyche. It has created fear, anxiety, and neurosis. Your mind has very little control over this world.
...Just relieve your mind of the job of making sure that everybody and everything will be the way you need them to be so that you can feel better inside. Your mind is not qualified for that job. Fire it, and let go of your inner problems instead.
You can have a different relationship with your mind. Whenever it starts up telling you what you should or shouldn't do in order to get the world to match your preconceived concepts, don't listen.
...The truth is, everything will be okay as soon as you are okay with everything. And that's the only time everything will be okay.
Like I said, this isn't a new revelation.
Lots of psychology, self-help, and spiritual books have the same message. Singer, though, has an appealing writing style. He's brought me to look upon happiness, balance, and managing unproductive thoughts in a fresh way.
A non-religious way, because Singer is focused on the evident worldly here-and-now, not an imaginary heavenly there-and-then. Everything we need for our "spiritual" evolution is present in our everyday life.
It's all about becoming aware of energies, those emotions, impulses, reactions, and such in our psyche that push us off-balance. One moment life is good; the next, someone has said something or done something which makes us mad, irritated, anxious, pissed-off.
How did we get from calm and collected, happily going about our day, to worked-up and scattered? How is it that a small comment or action can have such a big effect on our well-being? Isn't it crazy that we're so sensitive to the goings-on inside our own head?
Many spiritually-minded people try to get their lives in order through unproductive ways. One is to follow a set of rigid rules/commandments which restrict what they can and cannot do. Thou shalt not eat meat, drink alcohol, have sex outside of marriage, use profanity, dance dirty -- that sort of stuff.
Another is to seek control of the mind via some meditation or prayer technique. The assumption is that the mind is an unruly animal which has to be tamed through effort. Sitting still for hours, repeating a mantra, praying for God's or the guru's grace, envisioning one's compassionate Buddha nature -- that sort of stuff.
In my experience, spiritual or religious people can attempt these approaches for many years or even decades, yet still be as neurotic, anxious, unhappy, and hard to live with as they were before setting out on their journey of self/God-realization.
One reason is that they aren't focused on living real lives in the real world. Instead, they try to wall off the world, withdrawing into a fenced-off psychological realm where they subsist on a steady diet of dogma, beliefs, self-talk, and other so-called "inner work."
Which is bullshit, because they never get down to the nitty-gritty of dealing with the energies in their psyche stimulated by everyday events. Like having someone cut you off on the freeway, yell at you at work, or break up with you in a messy fashion.
Begin with the little things. For example, somebody says something to you that you don't like, or worse yet, doesn't acknowledge you at all. You are walking along and you see a friend. You say hello to them but they just keep walking by. You don't know if they didn't hear you or if they actually ignored you. You aren't sure if they're mad at you or what's going on.
You mind starts going a mile a minute. Good time for a reality check! There are billions of people on this planet and one of them didn't say hello to you. Are you saying that you can't handle that? Is that reasonable?
Use those little things that happen in daily life to free yourself. In the above example, you simply choose not to get involved in the psyche. Does that mean that you stop your mind from going around in circles trying to figure out what's going on? No. It simply means that you are ready, willing, and able to watch your mind create its little melodrama.
Watch all its noise about how hurt you are, and how could anybody do that. Watch the mind try to figure out what to do about it. Just marvel at the fact that all of this is going on simply because someone didn't say hello to you. It's truly unbelievable. Just watch the mind talk, and keep relaxing and releasing. Fall behind the noise.
"Fall behind the noise." "Fall behind the energy." Singer has different ways of saying the same thing which resonate with me.
I can feel this happen when I start to be carried away by a wave of righteous indignation, or whatever, then take a breath, pause, slow down, and feel my psychological center return to a place of balance behind that emotional energy.
It's still rushing on, and I'm aware of it, but I don't feel a strong need to surf along on top of it, being carried along by a breaking wave of impulse which often crashes onto an Unhappiness Reef.
Here's more Singer:
Ultimately, every change in your energy flow, whether it's agitation of the mind or shifts in the heart, will be what reminds you that you are back there noticing. Now what used to hold you down becomes what wakes you up. But first you have to get quiet enough so that it's not so reactive in there.
These trigger points will help remind you to remain centered. Eventually it will become quiet enough so that you can simply watch the heart begin to react, and let go before the mind starts. At some point in the journey it all becomes heart, not mind. You will see that the mind follows the heart.
...Would you like to go beyond? Would you like to feel no edges? Imagine a comfort zone that is so expanded that it can easily fit the entire day, no matter what happens. The day unfolds, and the mind doesn't say anything. You simply interact with the day with a peaceful, fully inspired heart.
...You end up loving your edges because they point the way to freedom. All you have to do is constantly relax and lean into them.
Posted by: Ultra Monk | August 28, 2012 at 02:35 AM
"...when I start to be carried away by a wave of righteous indignation..."
The civilized mind can't avoid this "wave" because, when its entitlement to civil rights is questioned or denied, it can't help but rise up. So if it is going to feel its "psychological center return to a place of balance behind that emotional energy", it must understand deeply how superficial civilization is.
Posted by: cc | August 28, 2012 at 12:40 PM
In Untethered Soul, Michael Singer wrote "you must die to be reborn. You must be willing to let go of your personal self, your psychological self, in order to be who you are." That is echoed in my free ebook on comparative mysticism:
"Contemporary mystics sometimes speak of being born again. After absorption in oneness, they view existence from a broader perspective. The universal essence, which had engulfed them, is later felt as background to everything they experience. Living has greater purpose, even if they cannot explain it in words. Their feeling, thinking and actions become for the soul, the whole and all, not for “I, me” and “my.” Their sense of being reaches beyond limited personal concerns."
Posted by: Ron Krumpos | August 28, 2012 at 01:42 PM