If you saw a man walking down the street talking out loud to himself, asking questions and also answering them, you might believe that man is insane…
Yet you do almost the same exact thing, don’t you? The only difference is that the conversation goes on in the mind where no one but you can hear…
Just imagine if you HAD to speak every thought in your mind. Everyone listening would think you are crazy, even though the same exact kind of thoughts run through their mind as well. They simply go unspoken…
“If I am the one who hears my thoughts, then I am the listener. If I am the one aware of the mind, then I am not the mind, but something greater.”
Step 1. Separate the Movie From the Watcher of the Movie
We don’t often realize how insane the mind is because we are wrapped up inside it. It’s like when you are watching a really good movie and it engages you so much that you forget about everything else.
You don’t notice the other people or things around you in your environment. Your life story and all your personal matters disappear. You’re just fully enveloped in the story of this movie and wondering what’s going to happen next.
The life of our mind is exactly like this. It’s like a really compelling movie that is extremely difficult to turn away from.
We are so accustomed to being wrapped up in these mental movies that we completely forget that we are the ones WATCHING the movie, not the person INSIDE the movie…
Basically, our mind and our body is like the actor in the movie, but we are the one who watches this actor on the screen of life. We tend to believe that we ARE the mind and the body, but it’s very obvious that this is not true if you just ask yourself a few simple questions…
Step 2. Recognize Your True Identity Beyond Mind and Body
Rewind your life 10 or 20 years. I bet your body was quite a bit different back then, wasn’t it? But wasn’t it still you who was inside that body?
Isn’t the one who was inside the 10 year old you the same person who is inside the body you have now? The body changes constantly, but the sense of being “ME” never really changes does it?
Even if you lost a few limbs, you would still be “you,” right?
So if you are not your body, what are you?
Are you the mind?
One day, you might have really positive thoughts going through your mind and you feel very happy. Another day, you have self-sabotaging thoughts going through your mind and you feel very depressed. But the one who experiences this variety of thoughts doesn’t change, does it?
It’s still YOU who is aware of these thoughts, whether they are negative or positive, right? So thoughts can’t be you because thoughts change but the one who is aware of the thoughts does not.
But why do we, when we feel happy, say “I’m happy” and when we feel sad, say “I’m sad”? When we follow a religion, why do we say, “I’m a Christian” or “I’m a Buddhist.”?
Sure, these are expressions of language, but it also symbolizes an underlying belief or assumption, the unconscious belief that your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs define who you are.
A more accurate statement would be, “I’m experiencing happiness” or “I practice Buddhism” because these statements express that you are the experiencer of feelings and witness of actions, but not necessarily tied to or identified with them.
Step 3. Become the Silent Witness
When you take this a step further, you become the silent witness of everything that happens in your life and no thoughts, beliefs, or descriptive statements are necessary. You enter the subjective realm of existence, where experience is what matters, not belief.
Belief involves doubt. The cat doesn’t need to believe anything about itself for it to remain a cat. It has no doubts about what it is. It knows what it is because it experiences its own subjective existence.
Humans like to label things and create belief systems, but these are only descriptions based on a perception that may or may not be accurate. The reality can only be known through experience.
Truth need not be believed in when it is experienced directly. For example, it is one thing to be identified as a Buddhist or Christian, it is another thing entirely to practice the teachings of one’s religion, and still another thing to verify the truth of the teachings through your own subjective experience.
Step 4. Refuse to Buy Into the Stories
Turmoil is created by believing in the stories we make up in our mind. Peace is achieved by recognizing that we are the impersonal witness, the watcher of these stories, thoughts, feelings, memories, and beliefs.
You might call it “consciousness” or “awareness”, the necessary prior condition that allows thoughts, feelings, and experiences to occur.
This knowledge doesn’t depend on belief because it is everyone’s reality even if they don’t consciously recognize it yet.
Thoughts, feelings, beliefs, etc cannot be registered unless there is something there to register them, something to witness what is going on. The witness has to come first. A thought cannot witness itself. Just like sound requires a backdrop of silence for it to be heard, thoughts and feelings need a backdrop of awareness or consciousness in order for them to be known.
The famous quote “I think, therefore I am” would be better phrased, “I am, therefore I think.” You have to BE before you can think. So your true identity is this being, not the thoughts and feelings that come after.
You might call it your spirit, soul, or Higher Self. These are only words. What matters is what they point you to.
Remember, the thoughts that go through your mind and the events going on in the world are like a movie being played on a giant screen in a theatre, and you are the peaceful observer.
By maintaining this awareness, you become someone capable of constant acceptance, gratitude, compassion, and appreciation for life. These feelings are natural when you see the infinite freedom you’ve been blessed with, the freedom to simply BE and let life unfold as it will…
When you know your true identity, you know everyone else’s as well, and regardless of their beliefs and actions, you love them just as you would love an innocent child. As we wake up to reality, joy and compassion are the natural response.
You can always pretend to be the actor in the movie and thus become easily wrapped up in the drama of life, and this may be fun to do for periods of time, but when things get difficult, it is essential that you take a step back into the place of the listener, the watcher, the witness, so you can be at peace no matter what is happening around you.
When you think, who is the one listening?
Rest for 1 minute in silent recognition of the peaceful witness within, the part of you that accepts every thought and feeling without judgment or attempts to control, the part of you that just notices with love.
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