What Waking Up Looks Like

This is a documentary about Papaji, a disciple of Ramana Maharshi.  I wanted to share a particular moment within this film where a woman realizes who she truly is.

She did not identify as her body, but she felt that she was a Mind.   She meets Papaji and he grills her for a short bit, asking her to find this Mind.  Then she realizes, oh, who is witnessing the passing sequence of thoughts?  It’s me!  But what am I?  She thought of herself as some collective bundle of these thoughts, as if she was some Mind, but she looks for this ‘I’, this Mind, within these thoughts and she can’t find it.  Then it’s like POOF, this false identification with thoughts vanishes.  This ‘I’ is an illusion and there is no Mind.  Without this ‘I’, there is no doer of actions, nor are there others.  Without taking some bundle of your experiences and associating it with ‘I’, there can be no ‘others’ which lie outside this arbitrary collective identification.  There is no freedom nor is there any bondage.  Who is free and who is bound?  There is no knower of anything or anything to know.  Who is there to know these things?  All of these dynamics are just ideas and an identification with them.

Look at how happy she is.  This is what it’s like to realize there’s nothing to think about, nothing to worry about, and nothing you have to do.  The interviewer asks, “What’s changed?”  Nothing externally that others can notice, but in your inner awareness EVERYTHING has changed.  There’s just inner stillness and contentment.   You’re back to a more fundamental state of conscious awareness, and out of some illusory state of consciousness.

It’s sort of like going outside and seeing a flower garden in the backyard.  It wasn’t in your awareness until you walked out there, and when you go back inside it will no longer be there.  Within a few weeks it’ll all begin to decay, and within a month or two it’ll be dead and gone, rotted back into the soil.  Wouldn’t it be strange for someone to say, “Those flowers are me!”  They come and they go, but you are still around.  Who is it who is still around?  You, the observer, the witness of events unfolding.  So how are thoughts any different from the flower garden?  They come and they go.  At one moment they’re in your awareness, at another they fade back into the void.  The content of thoughts changes, just as flower gardens change in the backyard.  They’re not you.  And any collection of thoughts is not you either, in the same way that the flower garden is not you.  There’s no difference at all.  You realize this and thoughts are just another part of experience.  Flower gardens are fun to look at for a time, but when you get tired of seeing the flower garden you go back inside and they are no longer in your awareness.  You can do the same thing with thought, and walk into an inner space where they’re not there.

When this woman made this realization, she just bursts out laughing.  The same thing happened to me.  Freud said that one form of laughter is when we feel superior to something.  Comics will make us laugh by acting like silly clowns.  Why was this woman laughing?  I think she was reflecting on her former self and was seeing it as something completely ridiculous; she couldn’t stop laughing.  “Why did I not realize this before?  It’s so simple.”  If you watch the entire film, Papaji himself says, “This is easier than anything else.”  There’s nothing easier.  Nothing simpler.

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