still the mind – enjoy being
Mulling On Consciousness
What is happening? I’m watching a movie, a little disturbed by the violence, take a break to pee when suddenly I’m aware … a pang of fear… the conceptual reality-bubble I create to walk around in is burst… I feel vulnerable. I’m standing at the toilet, but the greater world just beyond these walls with its terrible indifference, its marauding criminals, Doppler sirens, terrorists, and accidents roaming the streets … major hostility … and cancer … and it’s true “I” am vulnerable.
“I” understood as the passing personality, the physical form, by all indications mortal will perish. How to identify instead with the eternal, the source out of which temporality emerges and recedes? Not in a conceptual bubble, but in reality, dancing uninhibitedly in joyous time tempo? Well, Eckhart Tolle suggests being the observer is how you get there. Notice thoughts, emotions, fear, disease in this case … watch it evaporate in the light of consciousness to be replaced by awareness.
The great social critic Michael Parenti suggests that the imaging or connecting with the whole, ONE, referred to above, and in the writings of mystics, is just more self-delusion and conceptual bubble. I suppose he would say that we are conscious beings due to the complicated biological intersections of our DNA, bodies, brain and other organs, and when it dies, we die with it. He probably wouldn’t object to characterizing the process as mysterious and profound, impressively, massively complicated, wondrously effective, but … I want to argue that interconnection is a word that attempts to point at a feeling we have, variously called mysticism, peak experience, harmony, groove, intuition, god, muse … self-evident gestalt.
It is self-evidently miraculous this being intelligent – what energizes us, is us.
I can’t accept that as illusion, much easier to accept physical reality, as in Eastern thought, as the illusion. Tolle’s point is that becoming the observer brings into awareness the fact that we are that energy. Whatever the fate of the personality, very likely oblivion, “we” are that energy, our true self, and somehow feeling it, knowing it, aligning with it, brings peace, joy, and creativity.
Our thoughts and “learning” may tell us that in awareness we lose our protection. The story we tell ourselves, – whatever it is, say middle class affluence, safety, and predictability – that story drops away, and we either flee back to our comfort zone or experience fear … until we recognize and feel that that fear is just a thought/emotion, and that there could be a threat to our safety (our in the limited sense of the personality), but isn’t right now.
Even when we experience, say, a serious cancer diagnosis … even then, there is no threat right now – just a speculation about the future. Not that we deny it, we just put it in its place. The future we’ve always known we’ll die someday, though it might be eminent, it isn’t NOW. As we enter into the final stretch, as the suffering begins, then we will have to cope, but not now. Now we can do what has always been at our beckon call. Still the mind. Enjoy being. Go with the creative impulses that arise.
To ego, “I” am everything. To ONE, “I” am nothing, well, a small blip on a universe-sized screen. That is the personality, but that “I” is ultimately illusion. What animates is who “I” am at root.
Not to belabor the point, but to start with what is known: we sense the world, we think the world, we experience the world via sensory input and thought. When we become, as Tolle suggests, the observer, when thoughts and emotions are suspended and put in the background, we become who he says we are, consciousness.
Our beautiful and fragile Planet has been suffering a lingering and growing malignancy – the diagnosis in dispute, second and third opinions all over the map. The recent U.S. presidential election is but one phase of a chemo/radiation treatment, prognosis dire, chances of survival questionable. What to do? Get centered, escape ego, diminish mind chatter, get present. The answer to that “what to do” question will then become obvious.
Author’s Note: The 1% want you to hold certain opinions, and they take trouble and expense to make that happen. Until you are willing to carefully examine your point of view, comparing it to what their campaign strives for, and deciding whether you arrived there independently or by their manipulation, you are very possibly merely one of their pawns, standing in opposition to your own interests.
- Image: The painting featured in this story, "Foci," is by the author, Tom Ferguson.