Controlling the mind and the Real Self
Is your mind under your control even most of the time?
Is your mind out of control? The idea is offensive. No one likes to think they've lost control of their mind. A mind out of control means a person has gone crazy. You probably assume you have control over your mind." Thus says writer, Henry Reed in his book, Edgar Cayce -On the Mysteries of the Mind. But the fact is most people are NOT in control of their minds - I am referring here to our imaging and verbal thinking, much of the time; the stuff that arises 'automatically.'
The Queensland-New South Wales Border in 1968
The 'Usurper' has taken charge in most of us
It seems there are two of us, the real 'Me' and the 'Usurper Me.' The real me martials itself to talk to others, write, communicate from the heart rather than the head, but most importantly it DECIDES and ACTS. It chooses to act rather than react. The Usurper - which I identify as the "ego" or "self-image" doesn't always like that. It spends its energies "looking after number one." It is very reactive.
The Self-image IS the Usurper. The ego is not what we are
Our 'Usurper' came into being with a key idea: I am separate. I am here. Those other things, including those persons, are OUT THERE. Our senses began to tell us this via our conscious examination of an outside world and our response to that examination. It was, and continues to be, of course, based on our five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. Quickly we gave an IDENTIFY to that which was experiencing these senses. We called it Me.
Kirra Kirra Beach, Gold Coast NSW in 1968
There is a REAL me and an IMAGINARY me - know the difference!
But deep down this Me, realized it was just a mental construct. An idea held somewhere deep within; a concept that needed to be "added to" if it were to have any lasting security. The 'thin edge of the wedge' of a self-image began probably not long after we were born. But it became really noticeable around two years later. Then began the 'terrible twos' as this ego-self began working out what more it could add to itself.
Those 'terrible twos' of infancy are laying the parameters of the Userper
Watch any child going through the 'terrible twos' and you'll see a clinging to this, and a clinging to that. The child may fight with its mother or siblings to obtain an object such as a toy, get it, then discard it. If somebody took the toy from them it was like taking a piece of the child itself. The identifying with the outside object was the thing. But only while it was at the forefront of the child's thinking. Once forgotten, it no longer belonged.
Tweed Head, NSW in 1968 - not a skyscraper anywhere
The Self-image, always fearful, needs to keep adding to itself
This feeling of being separate stays with the child as it grows up. By now it realizes that certain things cannot be attained by it and kept and that other things can. So begins an accumulation, a building up of what I will broadly call 'things that make me what I am.' These things include not only tangible belongings (note that word belonging) but intangibles such as opinions. The opinions turn into beliefs. But they belong to the Usurper. The opinions become hardened beliefs - sometimes casehardened beliefs - with which the Usurper ego, or self-image is so closely identified that there is an incredibly powerful emotional attachment to them. They ARE me thinks this entity within us.
A belief is no more than an 'solidified' series of thoughts
You could say that this emotional attachment to a self-image belief seems crucial. The beliefs must be maintained and, if possible, even strengthened. The strengthening goes on as the Usurper either consciously or unconsciously strengthens its beliefs. Layer after layer of shell-like beliefs gradually isolate the ego from the Real Self. It seems there is a person living within a person. And, of course, by this time, identifying with thought as 'me" has become the norm.
Dubbo's bridge across the Macquarie River 1969
Pink Floyd's hit song, "Another Brick in the Wall" is spot on
This perpetual strengthening of the ego shell comes about in many deliberate ways: selective reading, selective mixing with people who generally agree with our beliefs - anything which helps the idea of a separate self with its own belief system become stronger.
For example, if you have a particular political leaning, you will buy the newspaper, watch the television programs, and generally mix, if practicable, with people of similar views. They become your allies, your friends. Those with opposite views become your enemies. Both instances are largely of the imagination. This is not so much an act of identification with those other people. Rather it is a setting up a sort of safety net: us against them, rather than me against the world.
The Usurper-self know little peace. It is always either wanting, clinging, or is averse to WHAT IS
Nevertheless, the Usurper Self, as I've been referring to this aspect of the 'personal-to-us' identification, SEES itself as separate from everyone else. It believes it is its self-image. It is a belief which causes considerable angst. Even if the self-image appears to others as confident, outgoing, and decisive, there is still fear that it will not be accepted by others to some extent. If it perceives itself as an introverted, shy self-image, it probably suffers even more so. Both self-images are seeking something, wondering if they can do something to strengthen themself in some way. They want to be better than others, greater than others, more powerful, more outstanding...the list of being superior goes on and on.
Macquarie Street, Dubbo in 1969
The Usurper cannot stand the present moment.
There can come an obsession with success. However, it is always a success that lies in the future. The self-image or ego is never satisfied for long with the present moment. The self-image is to a very great degree made up of 'mind talk,' or 'chatter.' It is forever seeking more for itself: more tangible goods to own, more recognition, more success. The present moment of life AS IT IS becomes a moment to be avoided like someone with the plague.
The Self-image loves nothing and cares only for itself
The Real Self is that part of us which, when the self-image is not controlling our thinking, uses mind constructively. Rather than being used by thinking, as the ego self is, it determines by an act of will, often unconsciously, to use mind as a tool in something else other than self-aggrandizement. The real self loves and cares. The Self-image loves nothing and cares only for itself.
How can we know for sure which is ego self and which is the real self? I can give you a method in which to do it. But before doing that, I'd like to explain how I learned how to do this.
Dubbo Swimming Pool in 1969. A lovely place to relax
"What are you?" Be quiet...really quiet...and wait for the answer
Back in the middle 1990s, after perhaps twenty-five years of pursuing Self-knowledge and Self-understanding, I thought I'd at last managed to define, in words, what I thought I was at that time. I felt quite proud of my succinct, one sentence definition (which I've now forgotten) But it seemed to make sense. Lots of reading, including around fifteen years as a serious meditator - decades of study.
Then one day I found myself standing in front of a lady who knew far more than me. That in itself is a story, but what she asked me to do was this:
"Close your eyes."
"Now, what do you see?"
"Nothing. Just blackness...no, there a bit of red in there."
"Now, what are you? " came her voice.
I didn't know what to answer. What am I? Well, I have my hard-won definition. But before I could tell her about that she said.
Tralgabar Street Dubbo in 1969 - Dubbo's 2nd Main Street
You are the Observer...you are the Witness...You are the Experiencer
"You are the Observer." Then again. YOU are the Observer...All the rest is illusion.
When I left this lady, and for some time afterwards, I found that incredibly hard to accept fully what she had said. How could all of our experiences be illusion? Whether they are or not I won't go into here. But if you want to know who YOU really are, try this: Get comfortable, close your eyes and say to yourself a couple of words. When you say those words, say them to yourself. No need to say them out loud. Then, after you've said them, be quiet. Be very quiet and wait for the answer to surface.
Have you tried it yet? ...Try it.
At first there will probably be no answer. What will happen is that, after a while, you will go back to thinking. You'll start to wonder what this is all about. That will be your rational, ego mind trying to find an explanation. Nothing wrong with that.
So What are you?
You are that which observed the silence in your mind before the mind chatter once again began. You are the Observer. You are the Witness. Your are the Experiencer of your life.