archives, yoga

Looking Beyond The Me.

 

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My teacher told me to stand in front of the mirror and to look at my reflection.

To take an old lipstick and write on the mirror, “This is not me.”

So I stood looking at the reflection of a person I identified as me, framed by words claiming the opposite.

I saw a body and felt myself looking at it. They were different things — separate. So what was the body I was seeing? What exactly was the me that was seeing it? It shook my fundamental reference of self-identity.

Ultimately, this challenge became the path to immense states of consciousness, filled with creativity, vision and connection.

Like a precious cell phone, I always carried the simple yet profound question, “Who am I?”

We’ve read Nisargadatta Maharaj and Ramana Maharshi who suggest using the question as a mode of inquiry. But who is it that is asking?

Is it the angry me? The spiritual me? The cynical me? The successful me? Which one is me?

Well, ask any one of those me’s and they’ll each give a different and emphatic answer. So, their lack of consensus automatically points to the existence of something else; a sense that is beyond or within them all. It is the puppeteer behind these me’s.

We need to throw out these impostors and find this deep silent feeling inside, the background sense of self — the part that is not bound by these externally referenced forms of identity.

What is the substratum of your experiences? Some call it your Spirit, soul or true nature. But what is the actual experience of stepping beyond the labels, the relentless voice inside, the everyday sense of a me?

What does it feel like to leave behind this ordinary mental consciousness? What is it like to silence every sense of me and be what is left?

For me, it’s wonderfully unremarkable. Things just are. There is no suppression or self-delusion needed to maintain a sense of equanimity. There is no right or wrong, no good or bad. No comparison with anything else. Everything I perceive remains fundamentally the same, but I see it as it is; it no longer is colored by an overlay of angst.

It is the same world, but with stillness, peace and completeness.

Barriers to connection are dissolved and there is a highway to creativity. It brings life to Life!

Sigh.

But it’s impossible to think your way there. Thoughts are the vehicle of me. And the very real danger is that self-exploration remains a mind game. You need a way out of your head. You can’t service your car while you are driving it. You need to stop and get out.

Let’s start by accepting that we are neither our reflections in the mirror, nor our well-sculpted (or otherwise) bodies, our clothes, our jobs, our families nor even our creations or our ideas. These are just the things that give us the sense of ourselves. But they are only our wrapping, not our filling.

They create a dynamic with the world — me and not-me. Perceived differences establish a sense of identity. I’m not like them, I’ve got different hair, a different job and they’ve got kids. Each contrasting perception carries an implicit sense of superiority or inferiority of being better or worse. Of being separate.

In this way, we know ourselves in relationship to other people, relative to external sources. Without an internal reference, what happens when you’re alone? Who are you then?

We all know people who can’t bear to be by themselves, even in public. They play with their phones as a distraction from feeling any silence that may give them space to… well, feel anything. I recently saw a poster that said Dance like no one is watching. Because they aren’t, they’re playing with their phone!

So how do you get out of the ordinary mental consciousness?

Meditation is the traditional way of changing standpoint, to have an awakened awareness that is not caught in the realm of thoughts. However, for too many people, sitting in meditation has become a practice of closing their eyes and listening to a monologue about what they are experiencing. Or a list-making exercise.

That is what happens if you meditate from the ordinary mental consciousness.

Meditation has such great power. Find a meditation technique that takes you from the blah-blah-blah thoughts, past the level of relaxation into the awakened states that sing with integrity, silence and the irrefutable power of noetic punch.

When you’re freed from the limitations of your ordinary mental consciousness, your life has room to become a work of art.

But not every technique does that. If you are serious about becoming more than your constructed sense of identity, you need to find the techniques that challenge the sense of yourself. The ones that make you question who it is that looks at your reflection in the mirror.

Then, even if you’ve only had flashes of these states, you carry the exquisite inner knowledge of your existence beyond the thought-produced sense of me. Not just a theory, you access a place inside that becomes the home you’ve always sensed but whose address you could never find.

It is truly liberating.

Life stops being about defending or protecting me. It becomes an ongoing adventure back to the deeper aspects of the awakened driver of your life, not the unconscious passenger. Consciousness becomes the sumptuous feast to which you’ve always been invited.

The world around comes alive. You stop seeing people as their clothes, their jobs, their preferred yoga style.

So extend your open challenge everywhere. Let what you see be a reflection of your inner state.

So when you look at people around you, at the ones whom you love, the ones you work with, the ones who drive you crazy, see them with this is not me above their heads. See them beyond labels. The labels they create for themselves and the ones you bestow on them.

Then what do you see?

 

*****

MaxBhaktiMax Bhakti has been a student of the Clairvision School of Meditation for over 20 years. In 2010, acknowledging all he really wanted to do was meditate, Max left his filmaking career to sit in meditation for 8-10 hours a day. Contrary to some friends’ initial thoughts, he was not looking to become very relaxed. These have been the most intense, challenging and exhilarating years of his life. He has no escape from facing the disparate elements of himself that claim ownership of his identity. When he no longer listens to them, he opens into the most exquisite simplicity, peace and completeness. You could contact him via his website.

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