What you are

The ego is a mental construction. What you think you are is a mental construction. What you really are is the witness of all this. The same witness that is in all people.

When you realise you are the witness it’s a paradigm shift. Everything is the same but the context is different. There’s no more seeking. No more not knowing what to do. No waiting for some time in the future. The present moment is abundantly rich no matter what’s happening.

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18 thoughts on “What you are

  1. although i agree on the state, in the human condition, living in an urban society and not in a monastery, it is to idealistic to think that this state will prevail or is even need to prevail. Lots of creativity and spiritual evolution, comes from the play of ego and awareness. To call the ego a construction of the mind is a blindfold to me.The ego is a construct of consciousness first and therefore serves a purpose. To stay out of the ego at all times is not possible for anyone in the human being condition. You can not be Be-ing without Human and no Human without Be-ing. The ego is a tool of consciousness and it brings suffering, duality but also wisdom, playfulness and evolution. To bring the experience of Emptiness and integrate it with the Ego, is the true Paradigm Change to me. I respect your wish to only stay in such a state, but i also see that every human have a different mission in his life. Even though in the end we are going back, to where we never left.

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    1. Jan, I respect your view. And yes ultimately ego is a construction of consciousness (as are all phenomena). So yes ego is a purposeful phenomenon.
      I also totally agree that the interplay of ego and awareness can be an engine of creativity.

      Where our views diverge is the possibility of living ego free in an urban environment.

      Firstly, there is no onus to living as Awareness. I write for those who desire to attain this reality, but I don’t say it is a necessity. If one enjoys the interplay, then stay. If one finds dissatisfaction in the ego, then naturally they will explore who they really are.

      I do not consider there to be a “me”, but if I may use the example of this mind/body appearing in awareness;

      For a time there was an interplay of awareness and ego. This interplay opened up and energised great creativity and insight, specifically in the form of poetry. A book was published, there was satisfaction and life went along.

      But now I love and work in a city. There is simply not central person present. The mind does what it does. It can think and communicate. There is no sense of either slight or pride in personal discourse.
      Sometimes the thoughts and emotions arising (for to me emotions seems to be reverberations of certain thoughts) are more energised than at other times.
      But although more energised they no longer construct an identity.
      As I wrote I realise this is a little hard to explain. I apologise if it sounds a little abstract.
      I am not special. I have no special gifts. I am simply not centred I’m a person.
      I didn’t attain anything or get anywhere. Something dropped away. At first it was gradual and would go back and forth, but now it would be harder to fool my self that I was this mind/body than it is to rest in being.

      One can still function in this “state” (I don’t really like that term as a state comes and goes and this is the ground of being).
      In fact it seems to open up groundedness, spontaneity, freedom, compassion, kindness and love.
      There is nothing wrong with enjoying the interplay, revelling in it. But the ego can be fully abandoned and without the energy of attention it seems to either and die. There is still a brain and a body and a mind here. Just no sense of separateness.

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  2. Who is it that which is observing to be out of ego?
    I think we have different definition of ego.
    If you say you feel no suffering, while being one with a world full of suffering, you might just be indifferent and stuck in emptiness.
    If you say you are out of your ego or out of suffering, this is ego speaking clearly and loud, no offense.
    You might believe that and you might have created yourself a save heaven, but come to me and tell me again that you have no ego nor suffering, i punch you in the face and then i wanna see how you are out of ego and suffering:)No Offense, this is actually a true ZenMaster Story.
    You are selling Ideals which you may believe, but they are not real-
    A Human can not be completely free of ego nor Suffering.
    Sit down honestly a retreat of a month or at least 7 days without moving, and you will see how much ego and suffering there is .The way is never over.The dharmas are boundless, desires are inexhaustible ..
    I lived with some japanese zen masters and i experienced first hand their ego and suffering, although it took me 4 years to see it clearly.Most people including me were stunned by the light and love, to see clearly what was behind that cloud.
    To be a human Being is the biggest challenge to our ego, which always wants us to escape to a save harbor, where everything is absolute and clear. Easy heaven.The womb of the mother.
    You might be one of the lucky ones, who is not much challenged in life right now, but some of us are and selling those people the ideal of the womb is exactly what their ego wants but will lead to more suffering, i believe, because it sets the standard to high.
    I see you that you have good intentions, that is why i write you. 🙂

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    1. I appreciate your words. I really do.
      If you punch me in the face, pain will arise, and emotions. But they are not happening TO anyone (an ego)
      So, I am not suggesting pain won’t exist. But I am suggestion a radical shift in ones relationship to pain.
      My own life has had deep and lingering pain, this shift has been seen first hand, and that is why I share.
      We come from different perspectives, you Zen, me Advaita, but there is little difference.
      Respectfully (and no offence taken)
      Simon

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      1. Your page dont work somehow.
        Well i know that theories of advaita and i met some people who practice.
        i dont buy it though.its to radical and not real to me in a real world.
        But maybe you are different.
        i dont know.
        i met people who say they never suffer, and they were either psychopaths or living in their head-space.Maybe you are one of them and maybe you are not.I dont know, but i am opened to learn.
        For me suffering shifted to transformation, but there are times i have some suffering, which usually transforms very quick into surrender and wisdom, which leads to more compassion and understanding of other peoples suffering.
        But if i would have a dentist appointment, i would take the medicine to not feel the pain.I tried it once without and after my mouth muscles were painful for a month because of an overdose of energy/pain.
        There are subtle nuances of ego and suffering, which are hard to become aware of, sometimes.

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      2. Well I think Buddha said compassion should also be directed to oneself, so at the dentist an anaesthetic is an act of compassion!
        I humbly respect your views.

        I simply suggest this; pain is experienced (both physically or emotionally) but suffering is an egoic response to pain.
        I don’t know how else to put it.

        When things are occurring in a field of awareness the relationship to pain is different because there is nothing personal.

        This does not mean indifference or aloofness, as compassion and love flow.

        Wishing you well

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  3. I know the theorie simon but you i also know that in practice, total liberty of suffering as a human being is not possible.There are subtle layers of ego and suffering ,which we dont notice at times and it can come back also.But i see that you are not willing to become personal and keep hiding under theorie.most of questions you dont answer.
    not long ago i met a person who claimed to have atained a state of no ego.
    he was always kind and smiling and made lots of folowers.
    some years later i met him again and he was depressed and disappointed about himself.I would say he was lucky, since some people get stuck in ideal heaven for a long time.
    the heavenly realm is the worst realm of all.since it is hard to get out of it, if there is no suffering nor ego perceived.
    i wish you well too, but if you are not willing to speak on a personal level, not just on a teacher/theorie level, there is nothing for me to say anymore.

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    1. I try to answer your questions Jan. But what personal level do wish me to speak from? The past person? I feel that’s just a story now.
      What can I say to a claim that in practice it is not possible, or that what I describe is too idealistic?
      Perhaps it hinges on a misunderstanding, yes human suffering cannot be avoided and desire is endless, so long as one identifies with bring a separate entity.
      That’s a big caveat. One doesn’t supernaturally become impervious to pain or indifferent to suffering.
      But the context changes everything. I don’t advocate a “heaven state” or any state. I don’t believe in denial or rigidity.
      Sometimes I witness sad thoughts arising. But they arise in emptiness, and without being energised by being identified with they arise and fall and don’t reconstruct or reinforce an ego.
      What I can tell, but what I know, what I experience.
      Look into your being and ask what wants it to be difficult and there is your tiger.

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      1. Well this sounds already more human like, although still you try to be a teacher in the end. I dont want nothing to be difficult.There is a difference to me between easy and simple, complex and difficult..I am interested more in your personal expirience, as you just wrote, then in advaita theorie itself.That is all. By the way, my tiger is my best friend, occasionally its also a just a cat.

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  4. Ha ha, I don’t “try to be a teacher”. It’s just the natural way these word arise. I was surprised when I first started writing about this. As a poet my words were always deeply personal.
    I’m 47. I started on the path of Zen in my mid twenties. It was on a Zen retreat that I first experienced a state which felt as if every cell in my body was smiling. Then it felt like the surging of the universe and it felt like every single event was bliss to the universe.
    I knew better than to chase the feeling again, but it did occur again on another Zen retreat some years later.
    For all that, I was only partially aware. I traveled, did drugs, drunk a lot, married and divorced.
    I don’t put any importance in this story. I’m just trying to communicate with you on the human level you seek.
    I traveled to India many times. It changed me in deep ways. And I don’t mean just ashrams and so on. The streets, the people. Raw life changed me.
    In my mid thirties I developed a pretty severe clinical depression. I t was hideous but it was also a gift. I worked and functioned but I was beginning to split in two. On the one hand there was this opening spirituality. I quit my job and started working with disabled young people (which I still do today). But I also cruised along a path of partying etc.
    I don’t remember how I discovered nonduality/Advaita. Probably surfing the net. I picked up a few books and it resonated. It matched my experience. On my next trip to India I visited Tiruvannamalai, home of the Ashram of Ramana Maharshi, and the mountain Arunachala.I received darshan with a beautiful woman Shakti Shiva.
    All this had a profound affect on me.I didn’t really know what was happening. My second marriage broke up. I went back to India. I came back and fell apart.
    Something was going. And something much brighter was dawning. I think about like a suicide which left a living body. I even contemplated suicide. The ego was so done with. It felt both voluntary and unavoidable.
    And then light. Even recounting these memories is difficult. Not because they are painful but because I feel no special attachment to them as being “mine”. Perhaps a slight sentimental connection but barely more than as if someone else was recounting their memories.
    I don’t feel like I’m selling anything. I’m not interested in wealth. In fact Ive never been poorer (caring for disabled kids doesn’t pay much, at least not materially).
    So, because I’d been a writer since I was 12 years old (my father was a Journalist and author) I decide to write a blog about the experience of awakening. It feels natural and organic. Apart from this (slightly reluctant) reply to your comments I don’t write in a personal vein because there really is no person here. I know how nuts that sounds but it’s true. It seems worth writing about. But not my personal experiences because they’re irrelevant. I was slow to realize what was before me. I suffered because of that. My life failures were my saving grace.

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  5. first, thank you for sharing. I see that you are detached to your past and seeing its energy it gave you to be who you are.I do feel compassion for the pain of myself and others and at the same time i can be detached. Sometimes i dont feel the compassion, if i am going to far into detachment.This balance between human and the pure Being is what calls me the most;it is my life mission, given to me, i cant escape it and love it today.
    What exactly you do with the children? I work right now with older people and adults as a counselor and i read books for senior groups.And i know you dont sell anything, it was just rhetorically speaking.
    I would like to know your view about male and female energy on a personal level.What i mean by personal is :not theories but your living experience right now..
    Are you androgynous, male, female, balanced.. how do you experience it? What means sexual energy to you, how do you perceive it in your life?
    Are you opened to intimate relationships or are you living as a monk?

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  6. Such good questions…
    “This balance between human and the pure Being is what calls me the most;it is my life mission, given to me, i cant escape it and love it today.”

    Yes, follow it!

    “What exactly you do with the children?”
    I am a teacher assistant in a school for children and young people ( ages 5-21) with intellectual disability. After school I work with Charlie, 19 who has severe Cerebral Palsy.

    “I would like to know your view about male and female energy on a personal level”

    On a personal level is it my experience that sexual energy is not present all the time, but appears in response to hormones and all the complex signal involved in sexuality. That sounds a bit theoretical but bear with me….

    “Are you androgynous, male, female, balanced.. how do you experience it? What means sexual energy to you, how do you perceive it in your life?”

    Big questions. Ok, most of the time I experience no sexual energy at all, just a clear empty space. So, not male, not female, not balanced, not androgynous but asexual. However the body is the body and this body is that of a heterosexual male, so the energy that arises is off this nature. I recognize it as the same as was always there, without the layers of neurosis, fragility, hope, need and shame that came with it previously.

    “Are you opened to intimate relationships or are you living as a monk?”

    I actually wrestled with this deeply. I wanted to be a celibate monk! Actually I wanted to move to India, burn my passport, become a Sadhu and devote every waking moment to God (by whatever definition you prefer). This impulse was far stronger than the desire for sex.
    I’m in a relationship, the same one I was in when this reckoning occurred. I voiced it and was amazed by the acceptance my partner offered should that be the course I wanted to take.

    The revelation was that it didn’t actually matter. There was no big decision to make. Celibacy has it’s benefits in that it allows a life of contemplation or devotion, but for some the missing sex would be a distraction to the point it would take away from those benefits. I don’t believe there is anything “wrong” or “impure” about sex. In fact it can be spiritually nourishing. It all depends on what one brings to it.

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      1. Thank you 🙂
        “Were you asexual always?”

        No, was a red-blooded heterosexual!
        And, if I may speak in the third person (because it works here) I would not describe Simon as asexual at all!
        However when sexual urge is not felt, what is one then? Is it constant? Does it come and go?
        (Sorry sounding like a teacher ha ha 🙂
        “How was your life different before awakening?”

        Incomparable! Ha ha – a roller coaster of highs and lows! Looking back I can see the operation of the ego, seeking joy, seeking pleasure, seeking validity, avoiding pain.

        If you met me then you might have met an easy going, good natured soul, or a tortured soul, depending on the day.

        Now to life there is a stillness.
        Old mental habits are still dying away. I think Sankara described it as a potters wheel, it keeps spinning for a while after the potter stops spinning it. But it slows down and eventually stops.
        This process is seen, and continues.

        “Why dont you open a place where you can teach?”

        Well, perhaps if there was a demand for it I might. I don’t believe in making money from this conversation. I would want to offer it free. So I’ll see what happens.
        As someone who writes, I am in the beginning stages of writing a book. It is more refined than this blog.
        I have no ambition. Each day comes and goes and I meet it there.

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  7. Hm, i like the part with the hot blooded simon.I wonder how you dont feel that energy anymore.
    it seams i can connect better with simon then with the one talking about simon hahaha
    i wonder what your thoughts are about Zen Master Ikkyu..If you have time, you could read some poems of him or about his life..
    Did you thought about doing some youtube viedeos?
    I think about talking with you on skype and putting our conversaton on youtube for the benefit of all..

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    1. “i like the part with the hot blooded simon.I wonder how you dont feel that energy anymore”

      Ha ha, I’m in a relationship, these feeling arise! They just don’t “belong” to anyone 🙂

      I’m not surprised at all that you connect better with Simon. He was engaging.

      Relationships, friendships now are different. Because not only is the former self seem as disparate strands of oneness, but so are other people.

      That’s hard to describe, but it’s like that saying “you never enter the same river twice” it’s like even familiar people, maybe work colleagues for instance, are always new. Like a garden has the same features in all kinds of weather, but it is totally different depending on the weather, sunny, howling wind etc.

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