The False “I”

I want to spend a little time today talking about Ramana Maharshi’s method of Self-Enquiry, and what it has done for me personally.  The ideas contained in this passage have profoundly changed me.  If someone was to ask me to share with them the most powerful teachings I’ve ever came across, this passage would be toward the top of the list.  This is an extremely direct method of finding out who or what you truly are, along with ridding your mind of everything else that’s unreal, leaving you with peace of mind.   Maybe by sharing how I’ve used the method, it can help lend insights to some of you into how you can better understand yourselves.   I’ll begin by simply quoting from his book on Self-Enquiry.

“Disciple: Master! What is the means to gain the state of eternal bliss, ever devoid of misery?

Master: Apart from the statement in the Veda that wherever there is body there is misery, this is also the direct experience of all people; therefore, one should enquire into one’s true nature which is ever bodiless, and one should remain as such. This is the means to gaining that state.

D: What is meant by saying that one should enquire into one’s true nature and understand it?

M: Experiences such as “I went; I came; I was; I did” come naturally to everyone. From these experiences, does it not appear that the consciousness “I” is the subject of those various acts? Enquiry into the true nature of that consciousness, and remaining as oneself is the way to understand, through enquiry, one’s true nature.

D: How is one to enquire: “Who am I?”

M: Actions such as ‘going’ and ‘coming’ belong only to the body. And so, when one says “I went, I came”, it amounts to saying that the body is “I”. But, can the body be said to be the consciousness “I”, since the body was not before it was born, is made up of the five elements, is non-existent in the state of deep sleep, and becomes a corpse when dead? Can this body which is inert like a log of wood be said to shine as “I” “I”? Therefore, the “I” consciousness which at first arises in respect of the body is referred to variously as self-conceit (tarbodham), egoity (ahankara), nescience (avidya), maya, impurity (mala), and individual soul (jiva) . Can we remain without enquiring into this? Is it not for our redemption through enquiry that all the scriptures declare that the destruction of “self-conceit” is release (mukti)? Therefore, making the corpse-body remain as a corpse, and not even uttering the word “I”, one should enquire keenly thus: “Now, what is it that rises as ‘I’”. Then, there would shine in the Heart a kind of wordless illumination of the form ‘I’ ‘I’. That is, there would shine of its own accord the pure consciousness which is unlimited and one, the limited and the many thoughts having disappeared. If one remains quiescent without abandoning that (experience), the egoity, the individual sense, of the form ‘I am the body’ will be totally destroyed, and at the end the final thought, viz. the ‘I’- form also will be quenched like the fire that burns camphor (*without leaving any sediment). The great sages and scriptures declare that this alone is release.

If you read my blog frequently, what Maharshi calls ‘I’ ‘I’, I called standing “above” my thoughts and emotions in my post Reflections On Spirtuality.  I had no words for the experience.  It’s an incredible place to focus your conscious attention, and few of us even know it’s there and always available to us.

So first of all, what is it?  I can’t really describe it as it has no describable properties.  What I can tell you is that when you find it, it’ll be self-evident to you.  It’s clearly perceived when your mind is silent.  It won’t be any kind of form, or a sound, or even a thought.  The only words for it might be, “I AM”, or something to that effect.   Christian scriptures speak of it when they say, “Be still and know that I am God.”  This observer, this presence, this… YOU… is there.  It’s not outside, nor is it inside.   It never changes, despite everything going on around you.  Within every moment and every experience, this ‘I AM’ is there.  When you find it, you can place your attention there and just rest.

Does the world stop when you enter such a place?  No.  Do you have to be sitting idle, meditating, to enter such a place?  No.  Do you see some amazing vision of infinity when you come to this place?  No.  You’ll be exactly where you are, in the exact same circumstance you’re in.  So wait, then what changes?  Everything!  Hahaha, I know it sounds absurd, but bear with me!  I’m waiting for all of your puzzled looks!

Ok, so if I can’t describe it, how does one get there?  If, everytime you have a thought, and you hear the word, “I”, such as, “I need to get a drink”, or “I’m so sick of this”, or “I need a vacation”, you ask, “Who or what is saying these things?  Who is this ‘I’?  Show yourself to me.” It may then respond, “I am the consciousness of the brain”, if you’re a materialist.  Then you press further, “Who is it who thinks its this consciousness of this brain?”  If you trace the thoughts and responses, and keep pressing, “Who is this?  Who says that?”, it eventually comes down to a self-evident response of, “I AM” .  It’s curt, to the point, and self-evident.  It’s a weird feeling when you focus on this… focal point of attention.  You’re looking outward with your eyes, seeing the bedroom or whatever it is you’re looking at, all the while, the attention is inward focused on this “I AM”, sorta “located” at the center of all conscious perception.  There isn’t words for it.  You ask, “What are you exactly?”  The response?  “I AM”.  I can TRY to put it into words.  It might go something along the lines of, “I AM the infinite observer, capable of observing any shape, form, time, emotion, anything, and I AM right NOW in your present moment, I AM”.  Notice something.  This happened when YOU traced your own thoughts of what “I” is.  Do this method, and it will be self-evident.

Why is this so powerful?  What good does this do anybody?  The key is realizing that this is the real you.  You’re not your body, you’re not your emotions, you’re not your thoughts, you are this I AM.  When you identify with this, after all kinds of questioning, asking, “Who thinks this thought?”  “Who is it who feels this way?”  “Who is it who wonders about this topic?”, you trace things back, and again and again you’ll come to this ‘root’, this ‘I AM’.  Everything else changes.  Thoughts come and go.  Feelings come and go.  Forms come and go.  All experience is fleeting, but this ‘I AM’ never goes anywhere.  It’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Now here’s the key, so listen up!  Make this your focal point of observation, if that makes sense.  Root yourself there, and watch all the things in your life, all the thoughts, all the emotions, all the comings and goings, and realize, “A ha!  I am none of these things!  These things come and go, but I AM something that never goes.  I never change.”  And now you’ve got it!  If that clicked in your head, I want to dance around you in circles like those little children do on the playground.  How wonderful this realization!

When I “got” this realization, my mind, which in many respects was a cesspool, was flushed like a clogged up toilet.  Then you want to run around and tell everyone, “My burdens washed away!”, but people look at you crazy like, “What drug’s this guy on?”

Here’s real examples from my own life, and how this changed me.

There was a time, not too long ago, where I felt like I was a bit awkward.  That wherever I’d go, I didn’t fit in.  I wasn’t particularly trying to fit in, but it often would get frustrating to me, never encountering people who thought about the things I thought about, or had the same hobbies I had, or liked the same things I did.  Then I used Maharshi’s method, and I said, “Who is it who feels this awkwardness?  Who is it who feels this feeling of not fitting in?”, and from the ‘I AM’ vantage point, I watched such feelings; from this static point, the feelings came, and they went.  Ah ha!  They’re illusions!  They’re imposters!  I was mistakenly identifying with them.  Thoughts have happened, but I’m not such thoughts.  Feelings of enjoying some activity have happened, but I’m not such feelings, and activities have happened but I am not the activities.  These things change, but I don’t change.  And here’s the key point.  Now that I no longer identified with any of these things, all of this was shaken loose from me, the whole cycle ended, and I feel comfortable and happy around everyone, country bumpkins to brilliant physicists, Republicans to Democrats, men, women, old, young, some stray dog wagging its tail at me while I’m out for a walk, it’s all the same to me friend!

How about another example.  At the university, I didn’t start until I was 27, and didn’t graduate until I was nearly 36 or so.  I was always an older student, who I felt had already been out there fighting in the real world, built a business, and done these things.  Some of the students’ personalities came across to me as childish, though I didn’t dislike that.  I just felt out of place.  It’s like they all had ADD or something.  I just felt like tapping many of them on the shoulder and saying, “Calm down.”  When I was nearing my graduation, I was nearly twice the age of some of the students.  I felt that I was old and that I didn’t relate to these younger students anymore.  “I don’t understand them” was a common thought.  Social media, the obsessions with phones and tech stuff, getting offended and wanting to ban everyone, I didn’t get it.  But wait.  Let’s go back to Maharshi’s method.  When those thoughts and feelings arise, you ask yourself, “Who is it who feels old?  Who is it who feels and thinks these things about not understanding these younger students?”  Ooooohhh.  Guess what?  From the ‘I AM’ point, such things come, and such things go.  ‘I AM’ never changes, so what’s this talk about getting old?  Those feelings I was having were illusions!  I AM not old, nor AM I something that emotionally relates to anything, young, old, or even alien.  “I” don’t even relate to a flow of time.  All of those things are things that change.

This changed the entire dynamic with students.  For whatever reason, the background feelings within the ‘I AM’ focal point is love, peace, and joy.  It’s your true nature, as Maharshi says.  And that’s how I became toward all the students!  When I sat at the ‘I AM’ place, this flowed out of me.  All of the false “I” notions which were separating me from the students, making me feel some dualistic antagonism toward them died.  No more separation.  You, me, we’re here, let’s enjoy our time together.  And then things go so well and you think, “Why didn’t I do this before?”  But when you’re in delusion, in stupidity, in ridiculousness, you can’t see such simple truths.  If you read my last post, ‘How It All Works‘, where I spoke of my model of reality, I was now at the point of surrender.  The False ‘I’ was dead, and now, I AM.  If you read my other post, ‘Reflections on Spirtuality‘, this same dynamic Christ-consciousness.   Remember that diagram I shared?

I went from this…

To this…

It’s NOT a place of inactivity.  It’s not an attempt to escape the world.  It’s not running from anything.  It’s some sort of flow.   I don’t get why the flow is happening, but it is, and I AM is there in every “frame” of this movie we’re living, and always will be there.

How about more examples.  Guilt!  Oh there’s a big one.  This isn’t something I’ve personally dealt with much, but I’ve met some who feel very badly about how they were as a mother, or how they were as a father, or how they were as a husband.  I should have been better to my niece.  I should’ve spent more time with my daughter, I should’ve done this, I should’ve done that.  Let’s bring out Maharshi.  Who is it who feels these things?  Who is it who feels they should’ve been better to so and so?  Who is it who feels they should’ve made more time to whomever?  Trace it out.  Is that the unchanging?  Is that the ‘I AM’?  No.  I AM doesn’t feel one way today, then badly tomorrow, and then feel better upon acts of retribution.  More illusions.  More false I’s, more comings and goings.  It’s not you.  This new identification with ‘I AM’ is the real meaning behind, “My sins have been washed away.”  But then you think, “What are you saying?  Should I not feel guilty about anything I do!?”  Who is that “I” who should or shouldn’t feel guilt and other things?  Is that the ‘I AM’?  No.  You’re not feelings which change based on what happens.  Another false I.  Root yourself in ‘I AM’, who I often call the Holy Spirit, and the natural flow of things will be love, peace, and joy, for you, and for those you encounter.  They may still be mad about what happened, but you won’t be, and you won’t be angry at yourself, and this new nature which will flow out of you will give you the best chance to mend things.

How about the reverse, such as deep-seated angers, or those seeking revenge?  Somebody did you wrong and you’re going to get back at them.  You’re no pushover.  You’ll show them!  Once again, let’s break out Maharshi.  Who is it who feels these desires for revenge?  Are they the unchanging ‘I AM’?  No.  ‘I AM’ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and is always love, peace, and joy, which becomes you when you make it your focal point.  But what about all this revenge nonsense?  It’s not the ‘I AM’.  The real you isn’t seeking revenge.  The body is generating feelings of anger, based on memories in its brain, and you’re focusing attention on these feelings, instead of letting it pass.  You identify with these thoughts and feelings, and that energizes them, keeping it all in existence.  I’ve known some who play these mental loops of misery like tape-recorders, just on and on, the same old, same old.  My ex-girlfriend, blah blah blah.  My parents and what they did to me as a child, blah blah blah.  My ex-boss and how he fired me unjustly, blah blah blah.  “I am so angry.”  You give these past event importance, like that helps you or something.   But you know what you’re failing to realize?  Did that ex-girlfriend hold the keys to your happiness?  Did your childhood permanently break you?  Is that job the only chance you had to live a good life?  There’s a belief in your mind that they do, but in reality they do not.

As long as you feel something “outside” is your only ticket to peace and happiness, and that’s been taken away from you, you will always be frustrated and angry.  The more things you think your happiness depends on in this life, the more you’re setting yourself up to fail.  The world did you wrong!  “How unfair it all is!  Someone’s life is so much better than my own, how come!”  But who says these things, and are they true?  Who is it who feels this way?  Search it out.  The real you is not these thoughts.  If you do the self-enquiry, and think about it, you’ll realize this to be the case.  Become self-aware of these false I’s and their false promises, their frustrations, and their ignorance.  Is it the ‘I AM’?  No.  Those things all came and went, like everything in the world, but I AM is still here.  Root yourself in the I AM and forgiveness will automatically be your nature.  Why?  Because loving is your new nature, and joy now is unconditional.  Nobody can steal anything from you, so what’s there to be angry about?

This is why I’ve largely stopped worrying about politics.  I’m aware of stupid things going on, but it doesn’t bother me.  The world of ever-shifting forms isn’t my source of happiness, so there’s no reason to get upset at what Donald Trump is doing, or Hillary Clinton, or the news casters on TV, or what have you.  Just more passing forms and events.  The reason people get so nasty to one another is because they think their happiness depends on some state of the world.  They believe some change in public policy will change the world in that direction, and if all goes according to plan, they will have conditions more conducive to their happiness.  But oh to those who take away that perceived chance at happiness!  How dare you!  People will fight for what they believe will make them happy.  What else do you think this is all about?

I saw a video of Alex Jones the other day, the big conspiracy theorist of the internet, coming into a restaurant and he starts yelling at this group of people at another table because they’re on the “left”.  “You bunch of F–ing LIBTARDS!  I’M NOT GOING TO LET YOU RUIN THIS COUNTRY”, and those on the opposing end are sitting there with smug faces, throwing equally nasty insults at him, “So when are you going to give birth, Alex?”

This is what happens when people think someone “out there” holds their happiness, when it’s really within them.  “I’m not happy with things, I’m not content, and IT’S BECAUSE OF YOU!  YOU’RE RUINING EVERYTHING!”  We could fast-forward to some amazing future in the year 3500, a world filled with comforts and entertainment far beyond what we can imagine, and I can still imagine this same dynamic going on.  “I WON’T LET YOU RUIN THIS WORLD”, and they’re fighting over something we’d perceive as very trivial.  They live in perfect health, immortal bodies, with super brains which store all human knowledge, but still, it’s not enough.  I could see some peasant farmer in ancient Egypt looking at our lives now and thinking, “What in the world do you have to complain about?”  But as you can see, did improved conditions fix things entirely?  Is it ever enough?  You start blaming others and external situations for your own lack of self-perception, and it never ends.

Like I said before, learning this was like flushing the toilet-bowl which was my mind.  All the crap, it just flushed away and I was left with clarity, flesh clean water.  When the clean water pours in and the stench leaves, and you’re made new, you don’t want any more crap in your bowl.  I’ve been let down by so many things in life, but when I found that when I locked in on this Holy Spirit, this eternal I AM, I want everything else that’s false to flush away.

How It All Works

I’m going to do my best to try to explain what this experience we all call “life” is.  This is my best simple model as of today.

For the moment, I would like all of you to entertain a thought.  Imagine that you really are not a weak little human, living on Earth, in a big, hostile, vast cosmos.  In actuality, the fullness of your being is something much greater.  Try to imagine that you’re an infinite being, full of bliss and joy, living in a timeless perfection, omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (can see all possibilities simultaneously).  You’ve always been and always will be, containing all that has, can, or ever will be.

But, if you’re this incredible being, all powerful and the rest of it, that means you have to have the power to temporarily delude yourself that you’re a much weaker, more limited being.  If not, how could you be capable of experiencing any possibility?  You couldn’t do this permanently.  Why? Because you must always have the power to restore your power, but it must be within your power to limit your own power temporarily.  How would such a super-being go about that?

You couldn’t actually take away your power, your knowledge, your bliss.  That’s who you are.  That always has been and always will be.  What is, is.  BUT, what if there was a way to hide yourself from yourself?  It’s like you’re a floating eye living in this vast infinity which is your body, and to accomplish this delusion of being a puny human, you get a big black blanket and cover over the rest of your body.  Then you fly over this blanket with your eye and look through little holes, seeing only a portion of yourself, pinhole by pinhole.  By looking through the pinholes in just the right order, one by one, similar to how you see frames in a movie, you could maybe temporarily delude yourself that you’re a limited form, with limited knowledge, in a flow of time.   With this concept in mind, I introduce you to my model of reality, illustrated in this figure.

Looking at the figure, you see a box, then there are things outside the box.  Outside the box is the true you, your true consciousness.  You exist as a timeless infinity, where all possibilities exist, nothing ever changes, and the background is love, peace, and bliss.  If you study near-death experiences, this will be confirmed to you.  Also, many yogis and saints focus their attention inward through meditation and prayer, reversing their spiritual eye’s direction entirely, and behold infinite bliss, nirvana, perfection.  It’s possible to anyone.

Outside the box you also see a kid’s ViewMaster toy, with a set of goggles and little image frame-wheels.  You load the circular film wheels into the device and you can view them one by one, the rest of your vision obscured.  Notice that all possible movie reels already exist, all their frames just lying there, ready to be loaded into the ViewMaster.  A more sophisticated analogy may be virtual reality goggles.

You can see just outside the box, I have a child (a child of God), putting on the virtual reality goggles, hiding herself from herself, to more fully immerse herself in the experience.  The being was God beforehand, but once the veil is placed on, this focal point of attention, within God, becomes a child of God.  That is the veil, the black blanket and the floating eye I spoke of earlier.  In my figure, the outer box is a representation of the veil.  The veil is a mechanism to hide the rest of yourself from yourself, a sort of distraction mechanism, a way to help hold a focus of attention on one particular possibility of all the infinite possibilities available to you.

Notice that within the box there are two domains.  The first domain is that of thought, sensation, and emotion.  In this model, thought is a subset of all-knowledge.  There is a database of all knowledge within you, but this particular “thought” you’re having in this frame is a projection of a small portion of that database of all knowledge.  The same applies to sensation and emotions.  You have at your disposal all sensations, and all emotional states, but you’re covering the rest of your sensational and emotional possibilities up, and only viewing a portion of them.

This veil, this covering up of your normal state of being, is an uncomfortable process.  It’s sort of like cramming yourself in the trunk of a car.  It’s cramped and isn’t what you’re used to.  This in turn creates desire.  A desire for what?  For more.  Something will always seem lacking, always.  “Is this all there is?”  The second you start this process of hiding yourself from yourself, it immediately creates a desire within yourself to find your former fullness, along with the peace, love, and bliss.  You want to take off the ViewMaster, but you sort of commit to experience it for a limited amount of “time”, no matter how crazy the experience may get within the limited vision you’re about create for yourself.

So how does one go about creating the illusion of incarnating into a body?  When constructing the mental “filmstrip” you’re loading into the ViewMaster, choose frames where the bodily forms, such as your legs, arms, torso, head, feet, etc., are always projected “close” to the viewer.  To complement this, within these same frames, if say some external object, such as a chair, bumps into the “your” body’s leg, arm, etc., you place a corresponding sensation to accompany it.   You do not create this sensation otherwise.  For example, if a rock falls down a cliff and smashes something below, you feel no pain, because this didn’t happen to “your” body.   This sort of trick is used to create the illusion of an “internal” world vs an “external” world.  Now, as for all these “external” objects, they always rotate around the viewer, but the viewer’s body largely remains consistent, outside of a degree of head rotation, etc.

The illusion of time requires memory of the past frames viewed, but if you could view all the past frames simultaneously, you’d quickly catch on that you’re a timeless being.  So how do we create an illusion of a limited present?  What you do is carry over parts of the past frames into the “present” frame, but keep it all kinda blurry and fuzzy, fragmented and dimly lit.  I illustrated this in my figure by two beams going off to the right and the left, highlighting past and future in light cones.  You want the present frame to overpower these a great deal.  So for example, say you’re out for a walk, and there’s some object in the background, like a swingset. To create the illusion of time, that “present” frame has a layered image superimposed on top of it of when your mother took you to the park as a child, swinging back and forth.  We call this “memory”.  This may also be accompanied by illusory thoughts of, “Oh how things change.”  “I miss those days.”, etc.  You’re not actually remembering, nor is this “I” you keep hearing in your head “real”.  Well, it is you but is also isn’t, not in the way you perceive it to be.  It’s a sound within you, accompanied by this memory I just explained.  It’s a phony sound in your head, loaded into the frame which the real eternal, infinite you is viewing.  You’re viewing super-imposed carry-overs of “past” frames into the present.  In reality, it’s all present.  It’s all now.

Planning for the so-called future works the same way.  It’s more information loaded into the present frame that’s dimly-lit, showing other possible configurations of forms and sensations, but all less fleshed out than the present moment in terms of clarity and detail.  You’re not planning anything.  God wrote the script, God is doing everything, and this illusory “Jason” is just a form, the world outside of me is other projected forms, and all of this is accompanied accompanied by projections of thoughts from the Almighty.

This explains my problems understanding freewill for so long.  I used to wonder, how in the world do I lift my arm?  Think of the bazillions of atoms I had to move, all the blood I had to pump, all the electrical signals within nerves which had to fire.  “I” didn’t do that.  Yet, when I go to lift my arm, it feels so much like I was the one who chose to lift the arm.  But how can this be?

The key to solving this riddle is to distinguish between the false “I” and the real I (which is God).  “Jason” did not lift the arm.   How could a form within a frame change its own timeless, unchanging frame?  It’s nonsense.  “Jason” is not choosing the frames, and the thoughts “Jason” is having within the frames are also not his own.  They’re given by God, to Himself, as clues to Himself, for His own game.  “Jason” is a bodily form projected up close to God’s spiritual eye viewpoint, along with projections of God’s infinite thoughts and emotions into those frames.  God did it all.

Scientists, working in labs all over, who are also inserted forms into the frames of God’s experience, look at the brain and try to understand free will, and say, “How could this ever work?  Wouldn’t it all be deterministic, according to the laws of physics?”  They’re kind of right yet also kind of wrong.  “Jason” is an illusion, just as neuroscientists say.  But God, operating within me, is no illusion.  The frames are chosen to where all the perceived forms flow and move according to set patterns, chosen by God when building the filmstrip.  Also, the frames are chosen to where when electrical patterns flow in the brain in such and such a way, the corresponding sensations happen as well.  God wanted to see this orderly flow of events, from the perspective of “Jason”.   That’s where physics comes from, even though in reality the forms don’t have to follow physics as we know it at all.   The freewill problem only comes from incorrect dualistic thinking.  Freewill exists, and this whole play of events is also all “deterministic” (meaning those frames will follow rules, one to the next, as God planned), and there’s no contradiction at all.  “You” (in actuality a child of God) are choosing your destiny, while it’s also all fated to happen from a pre-written script (written by the same being), and there’s no problems whatsoever.  But if within the frames, God loaded in thoughts of, “I want this”, and that doesn’t happen in future frames, does that mean God is not omnipotent?  No, God chose that for his own illusion to experience.

There are also safety mechanisms within this movie.  God is all powerful, so if God says this film is going to play, it’s going to play.  But what if when God is viewing the play, he doesn’t like what He is experiencing?  That’s where the point of surrender comes in.  It’s a fascinating thing that I (Jason) only discovered within the last two years or so.  If you follow say Ramana Maharshi’s enquiry into the self, you eventually end up at the Point of Surrender, as far as I can tell.  If you’ve never been there, it will be difficult to describe, but I will try.  It’s basically an inward focus of attention, away from the world, away from the mind within the veil, and back toward the true Self, which is hiding Itself.  And you just sit there.  Bliss and peace seeps through the veil at this point, since this is the point where the spiritual eye of God is viewing the entire play God wrote, and one can simply keep their focus of attention there.  One still has thoughts and still perceives the events of the world around him, but the emotional drama of the entire thing doesn’t affect one at this point.  A peace that only God can give resides here, as the scriptures say.  This person’s burdens have been cast onto the infinite God, so the child of God can just peacefully and happily ride through any event, as long as they’re focused on this point.

Notice that within this model, everything and everyone you encounter is yourself.  Everything is God, everything is you, and there is no difference.  That’s why you are to even love your enemies.  They’re inserts God put in there, to experience adventures, trials, tribulations, and other things.  When you see your best friend, or a desert highway on your way home from work, it’s as if you’re looking at your big toe’s thumbnail, and later a wrinkle on your index finger.  It’s all you.  It also makes no sense to try to chase “more” experience because you took on this play in order to view limitation.  I think that’s why the experience becomes far more pleasant when we focus on the present.

There’s also no evolution a child of God must undergo.  No purification.  There’s no need to earn salvation.  If “karma” exists, it’s simply the child of God requesting another go.  If you want to, go for it.  These illusions can’t, in any way, affect the real you.  At least, that’s how I see things.  I will probably write a part 2 to this post, going over a lot of other important things, but I don’t want this post to get too long.

A Message From Ms Tutz Honeychurch

This was in my work inbox this morning.

You can’t help but wonder where things like this come from.  What thought process or algorithm produces… this?   It has to be a bot, but the text itself is something to marvel.  I can imagine this on display at a modern art museum, hanging next to a disgusting, sweat-stained bed-pillow with several cigarette burns in it.  Above them both, in big spray-painted letters the artist writes “SoCieTy” in very poor handwriting.

A hipster in very big black glasses walks by with his girlfriend and laments, “Lust, rage, filth, this is neoliberal capitalism.”  She tilts her head, taking in the work, “It has a destabilizing presence.”

Happiness Is Your Nature

I want to introduce all of you to a famous Yogi sage named Ramana Maharshi.

“Happiness is your nature.  It is not wrong to desire it.  What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.”

This quote goes directly against the wisdom of our age.  We’re so often told that to find happiness in life, we must experience as much as we can of the world, ever shooting for the stars, giving it all we’ve got.  The more you can experience, the deeper and richer you’ll be as a person, and the more fulfilled and happy you’ll be.  Or so it goes anyway.  If you believe that, I encourage you to read Maharshi’s books.  I think he’ll have you rethinking your entire perspective on life.  I hope this post will share some of his wisdom on happiness with all of you.

One day while Maharshi was in a cave meditating, a tax collector stopped by wondering if this recluse was truly as wise as people were saying.  The man recorded everything Maharshi told him, and this short session turned into a book entitled Who Am I,  which has subsequently been in print ever since, even a hundred years later.  I want to quote from the section ‘What is happiness?’

24. What is happiness?

“Happiness is the very nature of the Self; happiness and the Self are not different. There is no happiness in any object of the world. We imagine through our ignorance that we derive happiness from objects. When the mind goes out, it experiences misery. In truth, when its desires are fulfilled, it returns to its own place and enjoys the happiness that is the Self. Similarly, in the states of sleep, samadhi and fainting, and when the object desired is obtained or the object disliked is removed, the mind becomes inward-turned, and enjoys pure Self-Happiness. Thus the mind moves without rest alternately going out of the Self and returning to it. Under the tree the shade is pleasant; out in the open the heat is scorching. A person who has been going about in the sun feels cool when he reaches the shade. Someone who keeps on going from the shade into the sun and then back into the shade is a fool. A wise man stays permanently in the shade. Similarly, the mind of the one who knows the truth does not leave Brahman. The mind of the ignorant, on the contrary, revolves in the world, feeling miserable, and for a little time returns to Brahman to experience happiness. In fact, what is called the world is only thought. When the world disappears, i.e., when there is no thought, the mind experiences happiness; and when the world appears, it goes through misery.”

That’s profound.  I can’t believe I failed to see this before.  When you go out, pursue your dreams, and achieve something, that short burst of temporary happiness has NOTHING to do with the achievement itself.  What actually happened is your mind was temporarily satisfied, so it shut-off, and in that mental silence your true nature of happiness and bliss shined through.

But this doesn’t last long.  The deluded mind ramps back up again, dreaming and scheming, and it’s found a new goal to chase, a new circumstance perceived worthy of experience, and you bite down on that hooked bait like a fish in a pond.  Like a fisherman, the mind yanks you right out stillness and you begin suffering again.

The Buddah warned us about this.  Remember his four noble truths?  What was the first?  Suffering exists in this world.  The second?  This suffering is created by craving and desire, or in other words, chasing the impermanent, temporary objects of this world of ever-shifting forms, mistakingly believing that they hold your happiness.  And how does one end this suffering?  The third noble truth, where one must become mentally silent, free of this kind of desire, free of this seeking and chasing.  It’s not that you don’t do things in the world, it’s that your happiness doesn’t depend on the outcome.  Let your light shine, as they say.  Don’t let the false-mind’s confusion cover over your true nature, your eternal bliss which is yours, and always will be yours.

And once we reach this mental silence, what shall we perceive, according to Maharshi?  What is our ultimate nature?

16. What is the nature of the Self?

“What exists in truth is the Self alone. The world, the individual soul and God are appearances in it, like silver in mother-of-pearl; these three appear at the same time and disappear at the same time.

The Self is that where there is absolutely no ‘I’-thought. That is called ‘Silence’. The Self itself is the world; the Self itself is ‘I’; the Self itself is God; all is Siva, the Self.”

Is there any evidence that this is truly what we are?  Does this divine essence, this Holy Spirit, really dwell deep within us, masked over by some illusory mind?  From my own research, especially in near death experiences, millions of people attest to this divine state when they die and are then brought back to life by doctors in the hospital, or whatever it may be.   For example, listen to this man’s account.

He speaks of this same bliss-consciousness, uniting with some deeper essence of himself which is best described as peace, love, and joy.  He became all-knowing and time dissolved, entering a state where all happened at once.  He specifically tells you that all of this beauty and all knowledge, everything, all possibilities, “it became me.”  Sounds exactly like what Maharshi and other spiritual sages speak of.

When one quiets the mind and rids oneself of delusions, this inner reality begins to seep into you once again, and a peace and joy that isn’t dependent on external circumstances will rise within you.  Well, it’s not really rising, it’s always been there.  It’s more so you realizing it’s there and perceiving it once again because your mind is now quiet enough to perceive it.  I believe them, because the more I silence my own mental world, I can feel this inner peace.

If I Had A Time Machine

If you had a time machine, could travel far into the past, and go talk with your younger self, say when you were twenty years old or so, what would you tell him or her?

I’m nearing forty years old, so I’m getting old enough, and possibly wise enough, to have something worthwhile to say.  Thing is, I have my doubts as to whether my younger self would  be interested in hearing a middle-aged man share his insights.  I don’t think I would “get” it yet.  The same is true for just about any twenty year old asking me for advice.

There are probably two things I would tell much younger self.  The first and foremost thing would be that accomplishments, accolades, success, great wealth, even romantic relationships, are not all that important to one’s happiness.  Developing a deep spiritual life is far more important if you really want to be happy.  Find inner peace and contentment.  The second would be that I should start eating right and taking care of my physical fitness as soon and as early as possible.  Developing good eating habits, staying active, hitting the weights, etc, even when I’m young and don’t “need” to, is very important.

I don’t think my younger self would be all that impressed with what I had to say.  My twenty year old self would be thinking, “You’ve lived all these years and that’s all you have to tell me?  I already know all about that!  Can’t you give me investment advice that would make me rich?  What about romantic relationship advice?  What about deep secrets of the universe.  I’m pursuing finding out all I can now.  Isn’t there something more… interesting you could tell me?”  Then I’d reply, “I’ve just shared with you the deepest truths I’ve found.  Business, money, romance, these things are relatively unimportant in the grander scheme of things.  I’m trying to direct you to a place where your happiness and peace comes from within, not from without.  I can’t tell you how much energy I’ve wasted chasing things that even when I finally attained them were ultimately underwhelming in the end.  Most of my life story is accomplishing things and when I finally achieve the end goal, I felt cheated.  I hope to save you a lot of time and energy.  I’m trying to direct you to the only thing that’s real.”

Maybe the bigger problem is that this sort of advice isn’t exciting.   Here I am, stepping out of the time machine, and my younger self is looking up to me in awe, and I tell him, “I have a great message for you, listen closely!”  As he sits there dumbstruck, I proclaim, “I’ve traveled through time itself to tell you the deepest truths I’ve found!  If one can quiet the mind, find peace, and deeply understand the deep spiritual teachings of say Jesus in the Gospel of John, or Buddah, or great Yogi masters like Paramhansa Yogananda, you can have peace right here, right now, that is not dependent on external circumstances.  You don’t need all that you think you need to be happy with your life.  Your mind will be your biggest obstacle.  You must rid yourself of false conceptions of who and what you are, and what you believe you need to be happy.  Find happiness right here, right now, that isn’t dependent on what the world around you is doing, what other people think of you, or what anyone or anything in this world can give you.  It is possible to be happy and content in practically any job, or situation in life if you master and deeply understand these sorts of teachings and principles.  The world doesn’t give you happiness.  Happiness wells up within you, if you open yourself to the Holy Spirit.  Peace dwells deep within you.  You need to connect with that source.  Study these deep spiritual texts, spend far more time on them than business, economics, or even science.”

Thing is, young people want adventure.  They want exciting experiences that titillate the emotions.  However, I’ve found that sort of thing to be a huge waste of energy, possibly even a form of slavery.  The deeper I get into my own spiritual journey, the more simple my life becomes.  I need less and less “experience” to feel happy and content.  I don’t have to be looking into the eyes of a beautiful woman, enamored with me, to feel that emotion of, “There’s no place I’d rather be.”  When you live in communion with the Holy Spirit, you can have that same emotional experience while eating a gas-station hotdog alone, in one of those little uncomfortable booths, watching other people pump gas into their cars.  When the mind is silent, without all the “fake” narration, commenting and comparing everything to all the other experiences you’ve had, you’re just fine, wherever you are.

Then I can see my younger self toward me saying, “I don’t get it.”  And I’d have to say, “I know you don’t.  Right now, at this young age, you already have all you need.  You are so blessed.  You’re earning enough money to have your independence and freedom, but you’re not satisfied.  You think you need more.  More money, more excitement, more of everything.  So you’re going to give up your current job, and you’re going to go off chasing an adventure.  First you’re going to get involved in all these business plans, and work and work and work, twelve hours a day, all because you believe that great thing you’re working for is coming, it’s coming, any day now.  The sad thing is, this universe reflects back to you whatever’s in your heart, and that greed in your heart right now is going to draw some nasty people in your life, so much so that you’ll become very cynical of humans and human nature.  Those people will be reflections of yourself. It’ll be your own doing, and the pain you’re going to experience will be entirely your own fault. ”

“As for ‘success’, you’ll find some degree of success, but you’re going to wear yourself out, and the accomplishments won’t mean anything to you by the time you get there.  You’ll feel you’re surrounded by filth, untrustworthy, disgusting people, who don’t care about you at all, and that pretty much will be true, though they’re not quite as bad as you’ll come to think.  The second those people can screw you over, they will, and you’ll experience that several times.  It’ll be for your own good though.  I say this looking back from it all at a distance.  God will be doing you a big favor.”

“You’re going to spend so much energy thinking about people you don’t need to be thinking about, whether it be some girl you wish you did things differently with, or some person who did you wrong, or daydreaming about things that don’t matter, and it will all be because of an erroneous belief that these people, these things, these outward circumstances hold various aspects of your happiness; they don’t hold anything.  It’s all illusions.  A big dream.  A crazy firework display, bright, colorful and intense, all of which is here today and gone tomorrow.”

“Oh, but you have a big ‘plan’ for it all.  You’re going to try to direct the firework show like you’re the Steven Spielberg of your own life or something.  You’re wasting your time and energy.  This universe couldn’t care less about your plans.  You’ll set off this way, and this world will have you running in circles, this way and that, and before it’s over you’ll end up who knows where.  You’ll worry about things you don’t need to worry about, and that anxiety will zap you of all your joy and peace.  Then you’re going to get fed up with it all, and go chase something else, thinking that’s the answer.  Once again, you’re wasting time and energy.”

“You’ll end up going to college, waste a ton of money there, and work your tail end off studying for exams, memorizing things you’ll quickly forget, and exhaust yourself.  Why?  Just like before, that great thing is coming, it’s coming, any day now!  But is it?  Nope.  You’ll invest great sums of energy, then go to collect your reward and poof, nothing’s there.  I’m telling you that you don’t need to suffer through all that, if you just find the peace and contentment I’m telling you about right now.”

“I’m not telling you to just sit on the couch and do nothing.  I’m telling you that none of it matters, but even when I say that, I don’t think you get what I mean.  You can go out and do things in this world, but even if things don’t go as planned, you can be happy regardless, if you understand the deep spiritual teachings and principles I’m hoping, HOPING, you’ll take time to look into and think about.  Life is far simpler than you currently think it is.  It’s your mind that’s currently draining you of life, making everything complicated, and this mind isn’t even your own.  It too is another illusion.  Illusions aren’t inherently bad though.  It’s all no different than the fictions you experience in say a video game, with fictional characters, their fictional thoughts, and the fictional events that happen to them.  ‘Jason’ is such a character, and you’re far too immersed in him.  In actuality you’re a much greater being that you need to learn about!  This place is a sort of matrix, a grand illusion, and much of it doesn’t seem well thought out in my opinion.  Poorly designed and implemented.  A lot of the people in here are crazy, and those who run this place are even crazier.  Don’t let it control you.  Disconnect from it and stand beyond it.”

By this point, I know my younger self would be totally lost.  I was once having dinner with an old friend of mine, and we got to talking about how when you’ve gone down a road long enough, eventually you’ve traveled so far, there is no easy way to replace “you”.  That journey itself has molded you into something that cannot be summarized, or even taught in lessons.  Someone may tell you these same truths, but to me, they’re living truths that I experience and feel deep within.  I’ve went down these crazy roads, have saw what they have to offer, tasted it and felt it for myself, and I can say, with certainty, “I don’t want this.”  But to someone else, that may be a real temptation for them.  For many of us, those illusions have to be shattered firsthand.  It’s different for everyone, but eventually people grow tired of going back to their own vomit, tired of chasing things that aren’t real, tired of staying in situations that don’t work.

Of course it’s not like all I have to teach my younger self is ways to suffer or avoid this suffering.  I’ve found amazing things in these spiritual teachings, things that transform my entire life, mind, and emotions, and I want to go around and scream it from the rooftops, but like many commentators on this blog have written to me, “Why are you obsessed with this spirituality stuff?”  Then they leave and quit reading this blog.  I find the greatest truths I’ve ever found, that totally transform me in ways I can’t even describe, but when I go to share it, I’m so far down the road that other people have no idea what I’m even excited about.  They’re not interested.

Sometimes I don’t even know how to describe it.  Everywhere I look, people are just caught up in useless things.  Others are just caught up in chasing things, always busy.  Busy, busy, busy.  Just so busy, and not present at all to enjoy what’s there around them.  The true joy is always, ALWAYS, somewhere off, someplace else, or in the future.  The joy will come when they travel the world.  The real experience worth having will happen when they finish their education, or land some new career, or will come from a new relationship, or a big new home, or whatever it may be.  And off they go, chasing some alternate configuration of forms in their perception.  This will save me!

And the thing is, in this crazy matrix we’re in, one must expend huge sums of energy to even chase this or that.  Things have to, to some extent, be earned, but more realistically, there’s no rhyme or reason to who ends up getting what.  There’s certainly little justice or sense to it all.  It may take you years and years of hard work to change your career, or save up for that new home, or save up for those lavish vacations.  In the end, it’ll all be for some fleeting experience, some alternative firework display of color and emotion that you won’t be able to hold onto.  These forms will drift into view as opposed to some other forms that would’ve been there before.

It’s like watching a slideshow, and instead of just enjoying the slides that are going to pass by in your life, you have to jump up out of your seat, start digging in some big box, and dig and dig and dig, finding a new set of slides which match your desires; by jove, you’re going to reload the projector with an experience of your own design!  Take control of your fate! But in this matrix we’re in, many of the slides in the big “free” box are boring, and all the “good” slides are locked away in special drawers, requiring a great deal of toil and sacrifice to earn the right to certain experiences in this illusory realm; if you slave away for the projection company, sometimes, though often not, you’ll earn the right to load a few slides of your own into the projector and have an experience you “want”.  That payment is made in suffering.  Hopefully it was worth the all the work you put in.

Maybe that’s too abstract.  I’ll make it concrete.  You want an amazing body.  Well you can have that, but you’ll need to spend two hours a day, five days a week in the gym, doing repetitive, sometimes even painful, exercises, over and over and over.  Then you’ll need to eat a diet of food that you don’t really want to eat, each and every meal.  Chug down those protein shakes!  Mmm mmm, chalky nastiness!

Then it’s like, crap, look at those guys in the movies.  They’re so muscular and the girls are going crazy over them.  But no matter how hard I train in the gym, I can never look like that.  I’ve been lifting for years, hours everyday, and I still don’t look anything like these guy.  Why is that?  How do they get so big and muscular, over 200 lbs totally ripped?  Well, now we get into steroids!  Are you willing take it to the next level?  You want another 40-50 lbs of muscle in six months?  Well here’s the devil’s offer!  You can sacrifice your health and life expectancy for a temporary experience of that body you’ve always dreamed of!  So, do you take the deal?  Just think of that body put into your imagination from photoshopped super-hunks on magazine covers and highly edited, fake, Hollywood movies!  What if you had that!  Think of the happiness you’d experience!  The glorious attention you’d get!  All kinds of women commenting on your shirtless pics on Instagram and Facebook.  Think how jealous your ex-girlfriend would be, and how much she’d regret dumping you for that other guy!  Yeah babeh, time for some juice!

Even if you make this sacrifice, your health is going to fail you.  And who can forget, you’ll eventually get old.  Getting old!  Hunk today, a wrinkly grandpa tomorrow.  And it all goes by so fast.  So you can suffer and suffer and suffer, lifting those weights, juicing up, all for those handful of moments where you get the attention of the pretty girl, some respect from the meatheads, or whatever it is you’re after.  Then ten years later you’ll start having heart trouble, you’ll be in and out of the hospital, the doctor will tell you to get off the juice, your testosterone levels are shot, can’t even produce it on your own anymore, so you shrivel down to a tiny, skinny nothing.  So much for the muscles.  Medical bills stacking up from the shoulder injuries, the knee surgeries from those heavy squats, the torn pecs from those crazy bench presses.  Oh and those big deadlifts you were pulling?  Yeah, your lower-back is shot.  All kinds of pain everyday, too bad.  But man, for five to ten years, you were really jacked man.  The guys in the gym kinda noticed, and maybe a few girls.  Hope it was worth it.

And the strangest thing?  The peace, joy, and contentment they’re after is hiding right there in the present, right there with them, but their mind is so busy, constantly chattering away, judging everything and everyone, locked in some past misery, plotting how to get revenge on somebody, chasing things, being angry, bitter, fuming over this, thinking about nonsense, daydreaming, and they just can’t experience the things around them, right here, right now.  Almost everyone I meet is busy in this way.  You wake up, and you clearly see all this self-imposed misery everyone is putting on themselves.

It’s frustrating because people are not interested in spiritual truths.  As one graduate student I was with the the other day told me, “That stuff is for the weak.”  Meanwhile, when we went out to lunch together, he spent the entire time talking about how depressed he is, how unmotivated he is to do his research, and how angry he is about his girlfriend who left him two years ago.  He just kept going on and on about his ex-girlfriend.  He was so angry with her.  Was jealous of the guy she’s now with.  Was talking about how they’ll be at some campus event, and how he couldn’t stomach going, seeing them together.  It’s so strange, watching this poor guy’s mind beat him to a pulp, and then watch him call those who have learned how to avoid this “weak”.   These kinds of people act as if they’ve found some deep enlightenment or something, when clearly they haven’t.  But in their minds, somehow it’s a virtue.  Only those as strong and capable as them have the inner fortitude to look at reality as it is, not as you wish it to be!  It’s like, what are you even going on about?

I saw a video of Oprah talking about this.  Eventually she grew tired of salacious interviews, celebrity gossip, and relationship advice, and went further and further down her own spiritual journey.  It totally transformed her own life, and then she wanted to share it with everyone.  So she left her super popular talk-show and goes to start an entire TV network, hoping to focus it all on spirituality and how these great teachings can transform your life.  What happens?  The network bombs.  A total failure.  Nobody’s interested.   Her audience is like, “No Oprah, go back to talking about celebrity gossip.”

You can’t take people there.  I can’t take any of you there.  I can’t take my family there.  I can’t even take my younger self there.  Whatever you choose to do with your life, that’ll take you down some road.  And whatever you learn and gain from that experience, good or bad, you can’t give it to anyone else.  You’ll reap what you sow, and the things you reap, they’re yours.  You can try to talk about these things with others, but they’ll only understand to the degree that they’ve experienced it themselves.  But if they haven’t experienced what you’re talking about, they’ll never get it.

There’s no greater reward than mastering the principles and teachings of the greatest masters, like Jesus.  Not that I’ve ever found.  When I reflect on my life, if I’d only learned all this sooner, I can’t help but think how my life could’ve been different.  It’s what I would love to share with my younger self, and save myself so much headache.  But if I could do that, maybe I’d never have learned these great mysteries?  I don’t know.   I’ve even come to a place where I see that sometimes, not always, but sometimes, the pain and suffering we go through can awaken us to great truths.