Part IV - Going beyond
12. Taking down the walls
The more you sit in the seat of witness consciousness, the more you realize that since you are completely independent of what you are watching, there must be a way to break free of the magical hold that the psyche has on your awareness. There must be a way out.
What if consciousness were to remove its focus from your personal set of thoughts, your personal set of emotions, and your limited sensory input? Would you become untethered from the bonds of the personal self and be set free to explore beyond? And how, exactly, did consciousness become bound to the personal self to begin with?
It was a light that falls on everything constantly and evenly.
going beyond the walls of the world you have created for yourself;
while you are attached and enamored with the world you created to avoid darkness, you will never know the abundance of natural light that is beyond the confines of your house.
How will you ever go outside when you are so dependent upon what you have built inside?
Our consciousness, our awareness of being, is living deep inside of us in an artificially sealed off area that is absolute.
If we don’t create good situations for ourselves, there is darkness. So we are very busy decorating daily.
That is the visual: you are inside a house, totally sealed off from natural light, and the house is sitting in the middle of an open field full of brilliant light.
Your house is made of your thoughts and emotions. The walls are made of your psyche.
It is all your past experiences; all your thoughts and emotions; all the concepts, views, opinions, beliefs, hopes, and dreams that you have collected around yourself.
This mental structure completely blocks you from whatever natural light is on the outside of its walls. You have walls of thoughts thick enough, and closed enough, to where nothing but darkness is inside that structure.
Let’s say something happens that activates these old feelings of fear, and you decide to walk right toward it. The closer you get, the more you will have the urge to pull back. That which you collected from your past forms a boundary that you intuitively want to avoid.
But because you avoid running into these walls, they lock you inside their perimeter. They become your prison because they are the boundaries of your awareness. Because you are not willing to approach them, you cannot see what is beyond them.
When you approach the barrier areas of your thoughts and emotions, it feels like going into an abyss. You don’t want to go near that place. But you can go there, and if you want to get out, you will go there.
What is really there are the walls that are blocking the infinite light.
It is often said that you must go through the darkest night in order to get to the infinite light. This is because what we call darkness is really the blockage of light. You must go past these walls.
You must realize that when you defend yourself, you are really defending your walls.
What you are defending is the house you built to protect yourself. You are hiding inside. If something happens to challenge the walls of your psyche, you get highly defensive.
You have built a self-concept, moved inside, and now you defend that home with all you have. But what creates that inner home, other than the walls of your thoughts?
When you say, “I’m a woman and I’m forty-five years old. I’m married to Joe and I graduated from this school…” those are thoughts. The actual situations don’t exist in there with you except in the form of thoughts that you cling to: “But I was a cheerleader, and I was president of my senior class.” That was thirty years ago. Those situations don’t exist anymore. But they exist inside of you, and they form the walls in which you live.
What if you were told: "Those are not your parents. You were adopted."
Tremendous fear and turmoil can open up inside of you simply because something is not the way you thought it was. It shakes you to the core of your being because it challenges the house of thoughts in which you are dwelling.
To fix this, you start in with your rationalizations: “I knew they were really nice. They were just like my real parents would’ve been. Imagine them adopting someone like me and bringing me up just like their own. God, they were even more special than I thought they were.”
You patched that hole up very well. That’s what we do with our walls. We keep them solid. Nothing is allowed to shake those walls.
Notice that you patched the cracking wall with thoughts. You patched with thoughts that which is made of thoughts. That’s what we do.
Just like the people who fearfully locked themselves inside the dark house in the middle of a sunlit field, and then struggled to create some light, we work hard to build a world within the confines of our inner walls that is better than the inner darkness.
We decorate our walls with the memories of our past experiences and with our dreams of the future. In other words, we decorate them with thoughts.
But you can step outside your house of thoughts into the unlimited.
Your awareness can expand to encompass vast space instead of the limited space in which you dwell.
That is your journey out. True freedom is very close; it’s just on the other side of your walls.
don’t participate in supporting, maintaining, and defending your fortress.
Imagine your house of thoughts standing in the middle of an ocean of light from a trillion stars. Imagine your awareness trapped inside the darkness of that house, struggling daily to live off the artificial light of your limited experiences.
Now imagine the walls crumbling down, and the effortless release of consciousness expanding into the brilliance of what is and always was. Now give that experience a name—enlightenment.
13. Dar, far beyond
beyond means going past where you are. It means not staying in your current state. When you constantly go beyond yourself, there are no more limitations. There are no more boundaries. Limitations and boundaries only exist at the places where you stop going beyond. beyond the sense of a restricted self.
Boundaries create the appearance of finiteness in infinite space. Things seem finite because your perception hits mental boundaries.
Right now you are using your analytical mind to break the world up into individual thought objects. You are then using the same mind to put these discrete thoughts together in a defined relationship to each other. You do this in an attempt to feel a semblance of control.
You say to yourself, “It wouldn’t dare rain tomorrow, it’s my day off. And since Jennifer loves being outdoors, she will certainly want to go hiking with me. In fact, if I want an extra day off, Tom won’t mind covering for me. After all, I covered for him once.” You have it all figured out. You know how everything is supposed to be, even the future.
Your views, your opinions, your preferences, your concepts, your goals, and your beliefs are all ways of bringing the infinite universe down to the finite where you can feel a sense of control.
Since the analytical mind cannot handle the infinite, you created an alternate reality of finite thoughts that can remain fixed within your mind.
You have taken the whole, broken it into pieces, and selected a handful of these pieces to be put together in a certain way within your mind.
This mental model has become your reality.
You must now struggle day and night to make the world fit your model, and you label everything that doesn’t fit as wrong, bad, or unfair.
If anything happens that challenges how you view things, you fight. You defend. You rationalize. You get frustrated and angry over simple little things.
If you want to go beyond your model, you have to take the risk of not believing in it. If your mental model is bothering you, it’s because it doesn’t incorporate reality. Your choice is to either resist reality or go beyond the limits of your model.
In order to truly go beyond your model, you must first understand why you built it.
Have you ever built your whole world on a model of life predicated upon another person’s behavior or the permanence of a relationship? If so, have you ever had that foundation pulled out from under you?
Somebody leaves you. Somebody dies. Something goes wrong. Something shakes your model to the core. When this happens, your entire view of who you believe you are, including your relationship to everyone and everything around you, begins to fall apart.
You panic and do everything you can to hold it together. You beg, fight, and struggle to try to keep your world from collapsing.
The whole model and all that it’s built upon, including your entire view of yourself and everything else, can start to crumble.
It's one of the most important learning experiences of your life.
The level of discomfort and disorientation you experience is frightening. You struggle just to get back some semblance of normal perception. What you are really doing is trying to pull the mental model back around you so that you can settle down into your familiar mental setting.
If you really want to see why you do things, then don’t do them and see what happens.
Let’s say you’re a smoker. If you decide to stop smoking, you quickly confront the urges that cause you to smoke. These urges are the reason you smoke.
If you can sit through these urges, you will see what caused them. If you can get comfortable with what you see, you will face the next layer of causation, and so on, layer upon layer.
Likewise, there’s a reason you overeat. There’s a reason why you dress the way you do. There’s a reason for everything you do.
Wake up in the morning and go somewhere disheveled with your hair a mess, and see what happens to the energies inside of you. See what happens to you when you don’t do the things that make you comfortable. What you’ll see is why you’re doing them.
You are constantly trying to stay within your comfort zone.
You struggle to keep people, places, and things in a manner that supports your model. If they start to go any other way, you get uncomfortable.
The moment somebody starts behaving in a way that is outside your expectations, your mind starts talking.
it’s all about getting back within your comfort zone. This zone is finite. All attempts to stay within it keep you finite. Going beyond always means letting go of the effort to keep things within your defined limits.
you can devote your life to staying in your comfort zone, or you can work on your freedom.
making sure everything fits within your limited model, or you can devote your life to freeing yourself from the limits of your model.
you see a tiger inside a small cage.
to live the rest of your life in such tight confinement. The very thought is extremely frightening to you. But in truth, the confines of your comfort zone create just such a cage.
This inner cage doesn’t limit your body; it limits the expanse of your consciousness. Because you are unable to go outside your comfort zone, you are, in essence, locked in confinement.
you’re willing to stay in this cage because you’re afraid. Your comfort zone is familiar to you; beyond it is the unknown.
imagine the most paranoid person you have ever met in your entire life. He’s so scared. Every moment of his life he thinks somebody’s trying to hurt him. If you offer him that tiger’s cage, he might accept your offer.
He sees it as protection from what could harm him. That which looks like prison to you, looks like safety to him.
Most people have the second reaction when it comes to the limitations of their psyche. They want to stay in there and feel safe. They don’t say, “Get me out of here! I’m locked in this tiny world in which everything has to be a certain way. I have to worry about what everybody’s doing, what I look like, and everything I’ve ever said. I want out.”
If something is not comfortable, they do whatever they must to protect themselves and get back to a feeling of safety.
When you truly awake spiritually, you realize you are caged. You wake up and realize that you can hardly move in there. You’re constantly hitting the limits of your comfort zone. You see that you’re afraid to tell people what you really think. You see that you’re too self-conscious to freely express yourself. You see that you have to stay on top of everything in order to be okay.
If you don’t stay within them, you get scared, you feel hurt, and you feel threatened. That’s your cage. The tiger knows the limits of his cage when he hits the bars. You know the limits of your cage when the psyche starts to resist.
Ex: The dog goes running right to where he’s not supposed to go, and—zap!—he jumps back and barks. What happened? An invisible limit was there, and when the dog approached that limit, it gave him a little shock. It hurt. It was uncomfortable enough so that now the dog feels fear whenever he approaches the boundaries.
So you see, a cage doesn’t have to look like a cage. It can be a cage created by your fear of discomfort.
The soul is infinite. It is free to expand everywhere. It is free to experience all of life. This can only happen when you are willing to face reality without mental boundaries.
When you hit these edges, you either pull back or try to force things to change so that you can remain comfortable.
You actually use the brilliance of your mind to stay inside your cage.
About the dog: he can get through if he can learn to withstand the discomfort. He just has to be ready, willing, and able to handle the discomfort.
Your cage is just like this. When you approach the edges you feel insecurity, jealousy, fear, or self-consciousness. You pull back, and if you are like most people, you stop trying. Spirituality begins when you decide that you’ll never stop trying.
Spirituality is the commitment to go beyond, no matter what it takes.
It’s an infinite journey based upon going beyond yourself every minute of every day for the rest of your life.
If you’re truly going beyond, you are always at your limits. You’re never back in the comfort zone.
If you are willing to just stand at the edge and keep walking, you will go beyond.
You used to pull back when it got uncomfortable. Now you relax and go past that point. That is all it takes to go beyond. Go beyond where you were a minute ago by handling what’s happening now.
You realize that you will always be fine. Nothing can ever bother you except your edges, and now you know what to do with them. You end up loving your edges because they point your way to freedom.
14. Letting go of false solidity
The inside of one’s psyche is a very complex, sophisticated place. It is full of conflicting forces that are constantly changing due to both internal and external stimuli.
This results in wide variations of needs, fears, and desires over relatively short periods of time.
Because of this, very few people have the clarity to understand what’s going on in there.
There’s just too much happening at once to follow the cause and effect relationships between all of our different thoughts, emotions, and energy levels.
everything keeps on changing—moods, desires, likes, dislikes, enthusiasm, lethargy.
The only things in there are your thoughts, emotions, and movements of energy, none of which are solid. They are like clouds, simply coming and going through vast inner space. But you keep holding onto them, as though consistency can substitute for stability. The Buddhists have a term for this: “clinging.”
there is an aspect of your being that is always there and never changes. This is your sense of awareness, your consciousness. It is this awareness that is aware of your thoughts, experiences the ebb and flow of your emotions, and receives your physical senses. This is the root of Self.
You are not your thoughts; you are aware of your thoughts. You are not your emotions; you feel your emotions. You are not your body; you look at it in the mirror and experience this world through its eyes and ears. You are the conscious being who is aware that you are aware of all these inner and outer things.
Consciousness is your pure sense of awareness.
it really does not exist at any particular point in space. Rather, it is a field of awareness that focuses down to a point by concentrating on a particular set of objects.
You can be aware of feeling just one finger, or you can be aware of feeling your entire body at once.
You can be totally lost in a single thought, or you can be simultaneously aware of your thoughts, your emotions, your body, and your surroundings.
Consciousness is a dynamic field of awareness that has the ability to either narrowly focus or broadly expand.
When consciousness concentrates narrowly enough it begins to relate itself more to the objects it’s focused upon.
As when you get so absorbed in a movie that you completely lose the broader sense of sitting in a cold, dark theater.
you have shifted from concentrating on your body and its surroundings to concentrating on the world of the movie. You literally get lost in the experience.
Your sense of self is determined by where you are focusing your consciousness.
But what determines where you focus your consciousness? At the most basic level, it is simply determined by anything that catches your awareness because it stands out from the rest.
The force of consciousness ends up holding the object stable simply by concentrating on it. Just as a fish can pass through water but not through ice, which is simply concentrated water, so mental and emotional energy patterns become fixed when they encounter concentrated consciousness.
The very act of differentiating the amount of awareness focused on one particular object over any other creates clinging. And the result of clinging is that selective thoughts and emotions stay in one place long enough to become the building blocks of the psyche.
Clinging is one of the most primal acts. Because some objects remain in the consciousness while others pass through, your sense of awareness relates more to them.
by clinging to passing thought objects, you make an island of apparent solidity.
Once you have a thought that stays, you can rest your head on it. Then, as you cling to more and more thoughts, you build an inner structure for consciousness to focus on.
Clinging creates the bricks and mortar with which we build a conceptual self.
In the midst of vast inner space, using nothing but the vapor of thoughts, you created a structure of apparent solidity to rest upon.
Who are you that is lost and trying to build a concept of yourself in order to be found? This question represents the essence of spirituality.
You will never find yourself in what you have built to define yourself.
You’re the one who’s doing the building.
You may assemble the most amazing collection of thoughts and emotions; you may build a truly beautiful, unbelievable, interesting, and dynamic structure; but, obviously, it’s not you.
you learned to cling and hold onto the thoughts and emotions that were passing before you. You used them to build a personality, a persona, a self-concept that would allow you to define yourself.
Awareness rested itself on the objects it was aware of and called it home.
If you dare to look, you will see that you live your entire life based on the model you built around yourself.
You are neither male nor female. You are the awareness who hears the thought and sees a woman’s body in the mirror.
But you cling tightly to these concepts. You think, “I am a woman, I am of a certain age and I believe in one philosophy versus another.”
You literally define yourself based on what you believe: “I believe in God or I don’t believe in God. I believe in peace and nonviolence, or I believe in survival of the fittest. I believe in capitalism, or I believe in neo-socialism.”
You take a set of thoughts in the mind and you hold onto them. You make a highly complex relational structure out of them, and then present that package as who you are. But it is not who you are. It is just the thoughts you have pulled around yourself in an attempt to define yourself. You do this because you are lost inside.
Basically, you attempt to create a sense of stability and steadiness inside. This generates a false, but welcomed, sense of security.
You want people to be steady enough so that you can predict their behavior. If they aren’t, it disturbs you.
By having preconceived notions about other people’s behavior, you feel safer and more in control. Imagine the fear you would feel if you let the entire wall down. Who have you ever allowed directly into your true inner self without the protection of your mental buffer? Nobody, not even yourself.
“I’m going home to be with my family and friends where I can just be myself.”
But what about you, the one who is holding the façade together? Nobody gets near that one. That’s just too scary. That one is too far back there to deal with.
In most societies you are well rewarded for how good you are at clinging and building. If you get that model down absolutely right, and behave consistently every time, you have actually “created” someone. And if the someone you create is what others want and need, you can be very popular and successful.
It’s important to realize that it’s not just up to you what thoughts you cling to and what person you create.
There are acceptable and unacceptable social behaviors for almost everything—how to sit, how to walk, how to speak, how to dress, and how to feel about things.
How does our society engrain these mental and emotional structures within us?
When you do it well, you are rewarded with hugs and showered with positive accolades. When you don’t do it well, you are punished, either physically, mentally, or emotionally.
You are trying to change someone’s behavior by leaving impressions on their mind. You are attempting to alter their collection of beliefs, thoughts, and emotions so that the next time they act it is in the manner you expect.
we are all doing this to each other every day.
If you stop clinging, you will see why the tendency to cling was there. If you let go of your façade, and don’t try to trade it in for a new one, your thoughts and emotions will become unanchored and begin passing through you. It will be a very scary experience.
You will feel panic deep inside, and you will be unable to get your bearings.
However, you’ll find that if you’re willing to face that sense of panic, there is a way to go past it. You can go further back into the consciousness that is experiencing it, and the panic will stop. Then there will be a great peace, like nothing you’ve ever felt.
That’s the part very few people come to know: it can stop. The noise, the fear, the confusion, the constant changing of these inner energies—it can all stop.
You will just be aware that tremendous changes are taking place. You will be aware that there is no solidity and you will become comfortable with that.
You will be aware that each moment of each day is unfolding and you neither have control, nor crave it. You have no concepts, no hopes, no dreams, no beliefs, and no security. You are no longer building mental models of what’s going on, but life is going on anyway.
You are perfectly comfortable just being aware of it. Here comes this moment, then the next moment, and then the next.
Moment after moment has been passing before your consciousness.
The difference is that now you see it happening. You see that your emotions and your mind are reacting to these moments that are coming through, and you’re doing nothing to stop it. You’re doing nothing to control it. You’re just letting life unfold, both outside and inside of you.
you will get to the state in which you see exactly how the unfolding moments bring up a sense of fear. From this place of clarity, you will be able to experience the powerful tendency to protect yourself.
This tendency exists because you truly have no control, and that is not comfortable to you. But if you really want to break through, you have to be willing to just watch the fear without protecting yourself from it. You must be willing to see that this need to protect yourself is where the entire personality comes from.
It was created by building a mental and emotional structure to get away from that sense of fear. You are now standing face-to-face with the root of the psyche.
If you go deep enough, you can watch the psyche being built. You will see that you are in the middle of nowhere, in empty infinite space, and all of these inner objects are flowing toward you. Thoughts, feelings, and the impressions of worldly experiences are all pouring into your consciousness.
You will clearly see that the tendency is to protect yourself from this flow by bringing it under your control.
There is an overwhelmingly strong tendency to lean forward and grab onto selective impressions of people, places, and things as they flow through.
You will see that if you focus on these mental images, they become part of a complex structure where there was none.
You will see events that took place when you were ten years old that you’re still holding onto. You will see that you’re literally taking all your memories, pulling them together in an orderly fashion, and saying that’s who you are.
But you are not the events; you’re the one who experienced the events. How can you define yourself as the things that happened to you?
You were aware of your existence before they happened. You are the one who is in there doing all this, seeing all this, and experiencing all this.
You do not have to cling to your experiences in the name of building yourself. This is a false self you are building inside. It is just a concept of yourself that you hide behind.
People feel their very existence is at stake, and they will fight and argue until they get control back.
This is all because we have attempted to build solidity where there is none.
You were told not to build your house upon sand. Well, this is the ultimate sand. In fact, you built your house in empty space. If you continue to cling to what you built, you will have to continually and perpetually defend yourself.
It’s a constant struggle to keep it together.
What it means to live spiritually is to not participate in this struggle. It means that the events that happen in the moment belong to the moment. They don’t belong to you. They have nothing to do with you.
You must stop defining yourself in relationship to them, and just let them come and go. Don’t allow events to leave impressions inside of you.
If you find yourself thinking about them later on, just let go.
An event in the universe didn’t match your model and it’s causing disturbance inside of you. If you will simply notice this, you will find that it is actually breaking up your model.
You’ll define this as good because you are no longer willing to put any energy into building and solidifying your façade.
Instead, you will actually permit the things that disturb your model to act as the dynamite to break it up and free you.
When you become truly spiritual, you are totally different from everybody else. That which everybody else wants, you don’t want. That which everybody else resists, you totally accept.
You want your model to break, and you honor the experience when something happens that can cause disturbance within you.
Why should anything that anyone says or does cause you to get disturbed? You’re just on a planet spinning around the middle of absolutely nowhere. You came here to visit for a handful of years and then you’re going to leave. How can you live all stressed-out over everything? Don’t do it.
If anything can cause disturbance inside of you, it means it hit your model. It means it hit the false part of you that you built in order to control your own definition of reality.
There’s nothing you can make up inside your mind that can ever be considered reality.
You must learn to be comfortable with psychological disturbance. If your mind becomes hyperactive, just watch it. If your heart starts to heat up, let it go through what it must. Try to find the part of you that is capable of noticing that your mind is hyperactive and that your heart is heating up. That part is your way out.
There is no way out through building this model of yours. The only way to inner freedom is through the one who watches: the Self.
Of course this will be painful. The reason you built the whole mental structure was to avoid pain. If you let it fall apart, you’re going to feel the pain that you were avoiding when you built it. You must be willing to face this pain.
To be free, to truly experience life, you must come out. You have to let go and pass through the cleansing process that frees you from your psyche. You do this by simply watching the psyche be the psyche. The way out is through awareness.
Stop defining the disturbed mind as a negative experience. When your mind is disturbed, don’t ask, “What do I do about this?” Instead ask, “Who am I that notices this?”
In time, you will come to realize that the center from which you watch disturbance cannot get disturbed. If it appears disturbed, just notice who is noticing that disturbance.
watching your mind and heart create their last throes of turmoil. When you reach that point, you will understand what it means to be transcendent. Awareness transcends what it is aware of. It is as separate as light is from what it shines upon. You are consciousness, and you can free yourself from all of this by relaxing behind it.
If you want permanent peace, permanent joy, and permanent happiness, you have to get through to the other side of the inner turmoil. You can experience a life in which waves of love can rush up inside of you any time you want.
You do that by letting go of the tendency to cling. You do it by not using your mind to build false solidity. You just decide, once and for all, to take the journey by constantly letting go.
Your only way out is the witness. Just keep letting go by being aware that you are aware.
If you pass through a period of darkness or depression, just ask, “Who is aware of the darkness?”
You are used to being aware of things in front of you. You now become aware of a universe behind your seat of consciousness.
You will still have thoughts, emotions, and a self-concept floating around in inner space, but they will be just one small part of what you experience. You will not identify with anything outside the sense of Self.
Once you reach this state, you will never have to worry about anything ever again. The forces of creation will create creation, both inside and outside of you. You will float in peace, love, and compassion beyond it all, yet honoring it all. There is no need for false solidity when you are at peace with the universal expanse of your true Being.