[extract from SANE, getting real with reality]
Who we are is not limited to this body and mind. In fact, the body and mind is an experience of perception, in the infinite field of awareness that we really are. With this understanding, the idea of an objective self becomes less and less believable. As we realise we are the space in which all appears, separation between self and other, between other and other begins to fade.
Hearing this can send us into a spin. After all, our entire lives so far have been about controlling, managing and protecting this body and mind, worrying about them, trying to secure them, avoiding the bad experiences, people, emotions and seeking out the better.
Sometimes, in a conversation about the unreality of self, people say, ’This is very nihilistic. I don’t want to lose who I am. I don’t want to disappear. I don’t want to see no division between things. I don’t want to live a non-existence thank you. I don’t want to be open to everything because some things are really shit. I want to be in control. This isn’t for me.’
And that is very logical. Because we believe so much in our idea of self, as in control of it all, making it all happen. It looks as though if we let go of it that there would be no life, no enjoyment, empty, blank nothingness.
So let’s have a look at that.
How about we start with the best sex you’ve ever had or can imagine having. Of that total merging of self with other. The absence of self, the irrelevancy of control gives rise to pure presence, pure freedom. The body moves because it cannot not.
Or how about the best book you’ve read or film you’ve watched or concert you’ve listened to? Of no resistance to the emotions, the story. Of rising and falling with the tremendous highs and lows as you sit safely, perfectly in your chair.
Or think about that time you looked up the night sky, to the mystery of infinity and lost yourself in the wonder. The infinitesimally small body, marvellously insignificant in that vastness and yet somehow there is the knowledge that the vastness is who we are.
Or the most fun you’ve ever had? The pure joy. No trying, no holding back. The exhilaration of immersion in laughter.
Or those moments in work? The time when the writing or conversation flowed. Ideas emerging. A voice being heard. No self reference. No ‘what impression am I giving here’. Non-creation creation. No one there to create, nothing tangible or objective being created. Yet somehow this is where all the magic lies.
Or the most spectacular sunset or dawn you’ve ever witnessed? Or the faces you love the most. Self dissolving in beauty.
Yes we could call it nihilism. And it is in one sense. It is the dissolving of boundaries and distinction and separation. It is the realisation that nothing is as it seems. It is just that this nihilism opens the floodgates to everything.
Yes we could say we become nothing because where are you in all those things? You, as you believe yourself to be, are not there. Yet it is that very absence that reveals the astonishing presence.
In the absence of self we experience who we are.
In the disappearance of self we become more than we could ever imagine.
Before realisation of who we are, the sex, the sunset, the music, the books, the holidays, the love were relief from an insecure reality. Momentary respite before the burdens, suffering and restrictions of self descend again.
Understanding who we are means that we don’t need to escape ourselves because we realise there is no self to escape from. There is just the being. The being doing. And it doesn’t matter if that doing is the best sex in the world or the washing up. It doesn’t matter if the witnessing is the most spectacular sunset or rubbish piled up in a concrete corner. It doesn’t even matter if the experience is unconditional love or intense anger, frustration and hatred.
The loss of self is the reality. The absence is who we are. The moments of believing a limited self are momentary insanity.
From the nothing comes everything.
This is who we are.