Does your experience of yourself come and go? My answer would be no. Does your experience of thoughts, feelings and perceptions come and go? My answer would be yes. Even your experience of having a body comes and goes if you pay attention. For example, when you are completely focussed on something you are working on, the experience of a body disappears. So we have to ask ourselves: If the experience of thoughts, feelings, and perceptions, and even of having a body, comes and goes, what is it that doesn't come and go? What is this experience of ourselves, this sense of me, that does not come and go but is always so?
The ways you behave and react are not who you are, they're just old habits of thinking, then acting. However, if you then strive to change those ways, even if you do succeed in creating a new pattern or habit, that new, and possibly “improved”, version of yourself is also not you, and instead only a new learned habit of thought/acting. That is a game that just goes on and on as long as you believe that the new you is somehow more authentic than the old you. Or, the other way around, that the old you was more authentic than the new one reading this now. This IS the merry go round. To get off, we must come to see that it’s all mind. One mind creating itself endlessly. Can “we” come to rest as clear mind, and to see/feel/know that we have no inside or outside, that everything exists within us—clear, bright, illuminated presence.
There is no need to grow as a person to be who you are. You may need to grow in order to realize this, however. Growth, in this case, would mean learning to stop and let go. Letting go of the notion that the sense of peace and well being that you're looking for is not present now.
The ego is so fragile and fearful because there literally isn't much to it. It’s just a bunch of ideas about ourselves. So it can’t tolerate much challenging or questioning because there's no depth to it, there's no strength to it. It must be defended at all costs because it is so flimsy. Find what it is about you that isn't flimsy, that doesn't need a story for support. What is it about you that is always so, that could never be challenged or hurt because it always is and always has been and always will be so, and relies on nothing. What is it in your experience of yourself that needs no support from the mind?
Everyone wants to feel safe in our society today. And I understand it's a beautiful idea, you know, gosh, if we could grant that to anyone, we would grant them safety, but we can't. Life isn't safe, always. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't, but we can't make life safe for everyone. And teenagers know this, because without their prefrontal cortex, they just do things without worry of the consequences. And, obviously it's a little troubling for parents, but it's incredibly freeing as a teen, and till you're 25, to live like that. It's very exciting to live like that. It feels very alive to live like that because it is. So, this idea that we all want to be safe and feel safe. Whereas it's a lovely idea, it's not possible. And life actually is less interesting when we feel totally safe, because the excitement of life is the unknown. The real, deep excitement of life is the unknown. We don't know what's going to happen and feeling safe is the opposite of that. If you've got the idea and the vision, whatever you want to call it, the fire, to find out that the unknown is really the only truly safe place. That presence is the only safe place. Just being without a story is the only safe place, because the world is stories. It's all stories, and we can never make them safe. There's too many out there. We're too addicted to them. Stories aren't safe anyway, because they're not true. Our being is the primal truth of us and it's safe because of that. It doesn't wobble. It doesn't go anywhere. It can't be affected. It has no ego. It has no need for love, approval, or understanding, as Katie would say. Love, approval and understanding, there's no need for that. So, it's not affected by the world, by stories. So, it's safe. When you really get a taste of it, it's very safe, but it doesn't feel safe because it's unknown. And that's that trick, right? Learning how to relax into the unknown. To let go into the unknown. That means giving up the story about yourself. And that's everyone's deepest fear because, they don't know who they are without it. But the story about ourselves is never safe.
Resistance to what is creates the sense of a separate self. If we fully allow everything to be as it is in this moment, or in other words, let go into the now, we as egos disappear and discover ourselves to be simply open and alert—effortlessly aware
The tension that we hold inside, this holding, is our sense of a separate self. It can be extreme or it can be very subtle, but the story and the somatics are one and the same, of being a separate self and the fear of letting go of that. It's like the ego, in an innocent way, is just trying to survive, trying to hold on. And so that holding in the body, which can often manifest as being tired - feeling beat, exhausted, run down - is that holding on as a separate sense of me, which is just a story anyway, and letting go of that is this kind of death. And it's terrifying to the ego, which is doing everything it can to survive, innocently. There's no maliciousness. It believes that without it, we will not survive. And without it, it is true, it will not survive, but because the identity is so complete that we are who we think we are - the personality as the combination of memories, emotions, feelings, thoughts, sensations, perceptions - that that false sense of a separate self that is kept alive by the story of who we think we are cannot survive being let go of. When the story dissolves, that separate sense of ourselves dissolves as well. And the ego, which is just the story of ourselves, senses that as a death. And because it doesn't know any other version of ourselves, the simple version of being, of life itself, of the stillness of consciousness, awareness, self existing wakefulness, it holds on desperately to survive because it doesn't know life outside of itself.
Think about what the word realizing means and how we use it in general. For example, we may say, you know what? I just realized I do have eggs in the fridge. So what happened there? It wasn't that we found something that wasn't there, but instead we remembered something that we already had that we had mistakenly thought we didn't. Same with Self or our true nature. It's something we are always and forever, but have simply forgotten. So it is a remembering, a re-finding of something that is already so. Not something we need to create.
So the question is, do plant medicines really work? Do they have a lasting effect? And I just wanted to put it this way. Plant medicines can show us what it's like to have an open heart. And even though it goes away when you're off the plant medicine, you have a touchstone now. It's showing you what it feels like to be happy, to be light and open hearted, present and happy. And it leaves a taste in your mouth. You start to direct your compass that way. I think that's one of the big powers of plant medicines, just to continue to remind you what it's like to feel free. And of course, before you feel free, what it feels like not to feel free. And how hard it is and how painful it is. And then hopefully it will show you what it feels like to feel free. And you can really tell the difference and you know which one you want. So you point your compass permanently towards freedom. But it is a compass, so the needle moves back and forth, but it keeps coming back to rest pointed directly at freedom, only because that's what feels like home. It's not any kind of achievement, it's just the simplicity of like, oh, that's what home feels like. Of course, that's where I want to be.
There is this moment, and then there is our thought about this moment. Our degree of suffering is in direct proportion to how badly we want this moment to be different than it is. This moment, on the other hand, is always only as it is. Can we understand this and then let go into the is-ness of what is, where freedom patiently waits.
If someone asks you
Who you are
And you go to answer
And no story will arise
So you stand there
Waiting to answer
But nothing comes
You’re totally silent inside
Like when your mind goes blank
But this one keeps on going
So you don’t know
How to answer the question
Who are you
But then you notice that you still are
You still are just as you were before the question
And as you always have been
But without identity
Without being a this or that
Because in this experiment
No answer will arise
No story of who I am
I can’t say any of those things
Cause nothing arises in that moment
Totally empty of thought
Empty of identity
The solution to being closed is being open. There's such a razor thin difference between being lost in a pattern and being awake. Just like when you're asleep, how easy it is to be woken up. You're in a dream and it seems so real, and all it takes is for someone to drop a book, and all of a sudden, that real world is gone in a flash. It's not like, oh, that was a big journey from the dream world to waking up. It's instant. It's like you're waking up into what already is.