What is ‘my’ identity made of?

What is your identity? Do you have identity or are you the identity?

Are you a human, a man, a mother, a hard worker, a good or respectful member of society? Are you the daughter or son of your father and mother?

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Have you ever really seen your mother or father? Have you ever got real interaction with them or have you just been interacting with ‘your’ story about them?

What are your parents? Do they really exist independently from ‘your’ interpretation? Or are they just thought stories appearing in the moment? Are the stories about ‘your parents’ part of ‘your’ identity?

What would you be without the stories of ‘your father’ and ‘your mother’?
Would you BE?

‘My father’ is just a story, a mental construct with associated attributes.
My mother is who I believed her to be.
My parents don’t exist without ‘my’ interpretation.
The bodies that are called my parents are real*, but all their attributes and characteristics are projected by ‘me’.

Every time I meet with my father (or just think of him), the whole story about ‘my father’ is projected onto him, and all my reactions and behaviours towards him are the result of reacting to this image of ‘my father’, and not to that body that is called ‘my father’.

And it is not only about my father. I react to everybody – who resembles ‘my father’ even just the slightest (my boss, my neighbour or the high school teacher) – as if they were ‘my father’. When this projection happens and the story is believed, and therefore resulting reactions arise – the sense of ‘me’ emerges.

‘I’ live through these stories. ‘I’ live through projections.

‘My father’ is part of ‘my’ identity.
My identity is nothing more than a collection of stories appearing as content of thoughts in the present moment.
Without these stories, ‘I’ don’t exist. ‘I’ live only in stories.
My parents are ‘my’ faces looking back from the mirror.
I am the story about my parents.
I am ‘my parents’.

Two individuals can never really meet. I cannot see you, I cannot hear you, because I can only see and react to ‘my’ story about you. The whole world is ‘my’ projection. Nothing exists without ‘me’.

There is no ‘you’; I can see only ‘myself’ in ‘you’.
‘You’ are just an image in the mirror reflecting back ‘myself’.
‘I’ am both the projector and the projected image.
‘You’ are ‘me’.

* (the body appears real in conventional reality, but not in direct experience)

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If there is only oneness, why can’t I feel your pain?

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Question: “I AM is all that is, all One. Then, why would a truth realised person feel the physical pain only when it is pertaining to his/her body and not when someone else is hurt in front of that person? If there is no one inside the body then who is that that feels the physical pain when the body is hurt or diseased?” 

In these questions there are several assumptions that need further investigation.

At first, a truth realized person does not exist, because there is nobody to become truth realised. There is only ‘realisation’ or ‘liberation’. But it does not happen to anybody. There has never been an ‘I’ than could be liberated, not even a body.

142.4The questions about pain are based on the assumption that there are an objectively existing body and others (other bodies). However, in direct experience (experiencing with the five senses, experiencing prior to thought) it can be clearly seen that there is no body either. There are only certain sensations (like seeing, hearing, feeling/touching, smelling, tasting) – and based on these experiences a mentally constructed image of the body ’emerges’. But this image is nothing more than an idea. The body-image cannot be experienced directly, although, thoughts persistently suggest otherwise.

In the immediate direct experience, pain does not originate from the body, because there is no body; there are only sensations that are labelled as ‘body’. The body is a mentally ‘constructed’ image that arises simultaneously with a sensation tagged as ‘pain’.

Similarly, there is an assumption that there are others (other bodies). While you read these words, there is a mentally constructed ‘Vivien’ with the assumption that these words were typed by her. But in direct experience there are only words, letters on the screen. ‘Vivien’ or the other person is just an assumption, an idea. But even this is not totally the case. In ‘reality’, there are not even screens or words. There is only seamless colour-ing. There is only seeing. In order to ‘recognise’ a word or a screen, a mental concept of a word or a screen has to emerge as a current appearing thought or a mental image. But mental concepts are just interpretations layered over the current experiencing.

One could say that it is relatively easy to see this with the words on the screen but what if you are standing face-to-face with another person? In direct experience, what is the other person? How is it experienced?

The so called other can be seen, touched, heard, smelled or even tasted. But actually, there is only seeing, touching, hearing, smelling and tasting. From these experiences a mental concept of ‘other’ emerges, believing that this is a human being, a woman, alive, X years old who is talking to me about her pain right now. All of these are projections. The direct experiencing of seeing, touching or hearing does not imply all of these. There is not even a link between the sound and the sight, yet alone ‘her pain’, only thoughts connect them claiming that ‘she is talking’. So, in the immediate direct experience, where is the other? Is there an other?

It is not about seeing or believing that ‘your body’ and ‘my body’ are one and the same or feeling ‘your pain’, but about seeing that there is neither ‘your’ or ‘my’ body in the actual immediate experience. Both of them are just mental constructs projected onto the sensations.

There is no independent ‘reality’.
There is no division, only thoughts divide.
Whatever ‘I’ see in ‘you’ is ‘me’.
‘I’ fill the mental construct of ‘you’ with attributes.
‘I’ am ‘you’.

And yet, in our everyday life (in conventional reality) we behave as if these mental constructs were ‘real’. There is nothing wrong with the body-image or any mental constructs – they are beautiful and most of the time quite useful. However, seeming ‘problems’ can occur when they are mistaken as ‘reality’ and not seen for what they are – simple thoughts like birds flying by.

Time – is there anything outside of the present moment?

293Most of humanity believes that time is a linear, unstoppable ‘movement’ through an ancient past, with an ungraspable present, into a hopeful, or for some, dreadful future.

But what is time? How can time be experienced? Where is time now in the here and now? Can you see it, hear it, touch it or sense it in any way, or just thoughts and stories about the supposed past and future suggest its existence?

When you look at a childhood picture of ‘you’, does this picture a proof that ‘past’ has existed? Or can the stories your parents tell about ‘you’ as a little child be the proof that it has ever happened? Of course, thoughts would suggest that they have. But have they really?

Simply remembering the ‘past’ and imagining the ‘future’ is not a proof that past or future exists. The act of remembering of the so called past does not point to anything real. The ‘past’ is just a current thought-image-emotion construct appearing in the here and now.

When a memory of the ‘past’ with a ‘negative’ label on it is projected into the ‘future’, fear and anxiety can arise. Future is nothing more than a projected ‘past’ memory appearing now.

And yet, how many thoughts and stories emerge in a day or just in an hour lamenting on past regrets: “he shouldn’t have talked to me like that”, “my whole life could have been totally different than it is, if I hadn’t made that stupid decision 20 years ago” or “how much happier I was when I was only 20”. And how many worrying thoughts arise just in an hour about tomorrow, or fantasies about a better and happier life?

But what about the present moment, the only ‘time’ that ever is?

“If I could get enough money, had a beautiful body, the best lover, loving children, then I will be happy” – this is a story, a fantasy. It is only a dream because it is rooted in the belief that happiness is coming from outside and from a future state, and it is not accessible here and now. The ‘I’ wants to get completion in the seeming future, because of the conviction that ‘I am not whole here and now’. But is this really true?

Does the ‘me’ really live through time?

The continuity of ‘me’ is created from memories of the seeming past and then it is projected into an illusory future. There is no solid entity living in the body, neither a continuous, progressing time.

There is nothing at the end of the road in the seeming future.
Everything is ever desired is here, in the present moment.
There is nothing else, but the present moment.

The only past or future there can ever be is a conceptual one that arises as a current thought right now.

The illusion of time is ‘created’ by thinking.
Past and future are mere conceptual constructs, nothing more.

The present moment is all there is.
There is nothing outside of this moment.

What is love?

Romantic love is often depicted in moves as a beautiful fairy tale. After many years of lonely nights and bad relationships, finally the beautiful girl finds her ‘soul mate’, who is perfect and special and loves her unconditionally. These stories promise a happy, fulfilling life, where love conquers all. But is this our everyday experience in our relationships?

118“I want you to love me. I need your love. I need you to accept me as I am.” This is what we think what we need. But these words can be translated into these: “I need you to reflect back a positive self-image to fill the hole in me. I need you to accept in me what I cannot accept.”

Relationships are mirrors. They mirror back our ‘selves’. Relationships reflect back our self-image. I am looking in others that seems to be missing in ‘me’.

The feeling that something is lacking is part of the life of almost all humans. We lack love. We lack acceptance. Therefore, we are constantly searching outside, seeking approval to fill the lack and to be complete and whole.

When ‘you’ and ‘me’ fall in love, it seems that we love each other. But actually, I love the story of ‘you’ I have about you, and similarly, you just love your story about ‘me’. We only love the images we have of each other. So we have an unwritten pact that we mutually fortify each others’ self-image; and if you dare to break these rules, I either try to carve you to fit into the image I have of you so I can feel loved again, or I withdraw my love because you have diminished my already frail self-image. The pact is about inflation, not about deflation.

My love is conditional. I love you only when you make me feel happy, whole and secure. My love can easily turn into hatred if you stop fulfilling your designated role. So, I need you to change in order to feel happy again… This is what we normally call love.

But can love be conditional? Is it really love or just a form of attachment? Of course, this is one of last things the ‘egoic mind’ wants to hear, because it shakes its illusory foundation.

Is love an emotion at all, or a state of being?
Can any state be permanent?

Love cannot be found in the seemingly outside world or in the apparent others; love is here and now, in this moment. When there is no resistance to what IS, so called ‘pleasant emotions’ can arise. But love arising from non-resistance is ‘different’ from the love we conventionally refer to. In this sense, love is not something that can be achieved by doing.

Love cannot be gained.
Love is not doing.
Love is non-action.
Love is non-resistance.

Love is acceptance.
Love is peace with what IS.

When there is no resistance, love naturally arises.
Without resistance, love is all there is.

Are annoying people really annoying?

281Imagine that you have a boss who is really annoying; the way he goes through the office, how he moves his hands, the tone of his voice, the way how he wants to persuade everybody that he is right. Every time you talk to him you become upset and feel tense. You even get irritated when you just spot his laptop on the desk, because it means that he is around and going to pick on you and give a lecture about how things should be.

He is really annoying. But is he truly?

Does he annoy me or have I become annoyed of him? Does his tone of voice have a power over my feelings and bodily sensations or do I get upset when I hear his voice? What does really irritate me, his voice or ‘my’ interpretation about his voice? He or ‘my’ story about him?

The whole world is just a projection. An intricately detailed web of beliefs is projected ‘outward’ to the seeming ‘others’, which is reflected back to ‘me’.

So when he starts to criticise me, it is not his words that hurt me; the ‘hurtful feelings’ come because his words have been interpreted through these beliefs. ‘I’ project ‘my’ fragile self-image onto his words, and if it hurts, it just means that there is a belief in action, a belief in a deficient, not-good-enough self.

The ‘annoying boss’ is just a reflection in the mirror.

And as long as there is a belief that my opinions, beliefs and thoughts are true and actual facts, there is also a belief in the seeming others’ opinions. But others’ opinions do not exist independently from ‘my’ interpretation. Both ‘my’ and others’ opinions are nothing more than concepts and they are not referring to anything real.

My boss’ opinions seem to ‘originate’ from him, but actually, his words are just the reflections of the belief in the deficient self.

Projection ‘fills’ the words by meaning.

When this apparent not-good-enough self is activated, “I feel little and inferior”. In order to compensate these feelings, the need for criticism arises. Every time I judge somebody, I feel better and superior because the fragile self-image is strengthened a bit, believing to be better than the apparent other. But all judgement comes from judging ‘myself’.

So, as long as the belief in the separate self is intact, there is a need for a constant reinforcement. “I need to feel superior, otherwise I am inferior”. But this reinforcement works only in comparison to something or somebody else, with an illusory separation, a division between ‘me’ and the rest of the world.

But in reality, none of them are real.
There is no separation, only thoughts suggest otherwise.
The world is nothing more than a reflection.
The other is just an image in the mirror.

Waking up in the dream is seeing that there has never been a self.
There is no ‘me’, no ‘you’, just life flowing freely as it IS.

Getting rid of the ego… is it possible?

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Many seekers believe if they could successfully get rid of the ego then they would achieve ‘liberation’ or ‘enlightenment’. But what is the ego?

Some ‘spiritual teachers’ talk about the ego, others avoid using this word for various reasons. But even those who mention it, they also frequently emphasise that the ego is just a mental construct, nothing real – and yet, it is so often misunderstood…

When we hear or read something, there is an unconscious tendency to ignore everything that does not fit into our worldview or belief system, and spot all words or comments that can be moulded into our framework by projecting our beliefs onto those words. As a result, we perceive these teachings coinciding with our convictions.

214Seekers often say things like this: “My ego wanted to convince me that I should do this. …. I’m slowly shedding my ego but it’s holding on for its dear life… But I know it won’t win, the chains are already broken.”

In these types of statements the ego is assumed to be real, as if the ego was a tangible entity, accompanied by another unexamined assumption that there is a ‘me’ somewhere sealed behind the skin, over which the ego can have full power. The ‘real me’ or ‘my higher self’ is under the tyranny of the ego that needs to be liberated. The war is on…

But when I want to conquer, get rid of, change, manipulate or transform something, then the result could be quite the opposite that was hoped to be achieved in the first place. The mere resistance strengthens what was intended to get rid of, because nothing can be resisted without believing in it first. So, the ‘thing’ is being believed into ‘reality’, and now there is a war against it. But war against what?

The battle is only between mirages.

There has never been a self or a ‘me’ that could get rid of the ego.
Similarly, there has never been an ego either that could fight for its life or have a power over anything.

Ego = me = I = self
There is no difference between them, and none of them is real.
‘You’ do not have to get rid of the ego.
Because there is no ‘you’. A thought cannot get rid of anything.

When it is seen that the whole story about the ego and its clinging to ‘its life’, are just simple appearing thoughts nothing more, then the seeking can end. There is no difference between the thoughts of “I’m thirsty, therefore I drink a cup of tea” or “I’m slowly shedding my ego, but it’s holding for its life”.

A thought is ‘real’ only as an appearing thought, but never its content.

Liberation cannot be achieved.
Liberation is not about doing something.
Liberation is un-believing.
Liberation is stopping believing in something that is not real.
It is about stopping doing. It is doing nothing.
It is non-resistance.

What is resisted is strengthened

One of the natural tendencies of the human ‘mind’ is to label and interpret whatever arises in this moment. This mental narrative is not problematic by itself, and it is not necessary (or even possible) to get rid of it. Wanting the ‘mind’ to stop labelling or thinking is completely futile. It won’t happen, at least not for long.

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There are millions of labels that can be attached to anything that appears in this moment, but in general, these tags are either about approaching or avoiding what has just arisen. It is either put into the category of desired (positive) or undesired (negative). Things are rarely interpreted as neutral, and even when it happens the ‘unimportant’ tag comes with it, so it is ignored and forgotten quickly.

Let’s say, I have an important appointment at 9am, but I have been stuck on the motorway for an hour now because the car has broken down, so it is certain that I cannot be there on time. This situation is definitely labelled as bad and undesirable. As time goes on, the body gets more and more tense and ‘I feel terrible’ due to a mental story that has emerged around the situation. The contraction in the body is uncomfortable, so I want to get rid of it. I try to relax and push my thoughts away, but in vain.

When something ‘unpleasant’ happens, there is a habitual tendency to avoid it. However, the avoidance itself strengthens what was intended to be eliminated. The more ‘I’ want to get rid of something, the better ‘I’ get attached to it.

The ‘reason’ behind this phenomenon is that when I want to get rid of something it means that its ‘reality’ is already approved. I would not want to eliminate something if I had not believed that thing is real and true. And when something is believed to be true, how could it be obliterated?

Thus, the body cannot relax while the labels about the situation is believed and taken seriously. It does not mean that ‘you’ have to love the situation and happily cover it up with a positive affirmation: “How good it is, I have just lost a thousand dollars because I could not get to the meeting. I am so happy”. Overriding resistance with ‘positive thinking’ won’t help either.

The liberation is hidden in the core belief (label) — ‘this is bad’. The current circumstances are completely neutral, only the conditioned thought-tags suggest otherwise. ‘I’ project meaning onto the situation.

The car has broken down. I am stuck on the motorway. I won’t be able to get to the meeting. So, I’ve just lost a thousand dollars. – These are ‘facts’. No matter what I do, no matter how hard I want to redo it or undo it, IT IS AS IT IS.

And even the labelling nature of the ‘mind’ is part of the flow. When the story is seen and not believed, the movie of ‘my’ life is watched without identifying with the main character, ‘I’.

Arguing with what IS, is totally futile.
Arguing with what IS, is a conditioned habit.

What is resisted is strengthened.
Resistance is a guaranty for suffering.

Is physical pain a source of suffering?

275We are taught from early childhood that physical pain is a source of suffering. The two words – pain and suffering –, sometimes even used interchangeably, as if they were pointing to the same thing.

However, physical pain in the body is nothing more than an arising sensation that is labelled as ‘painful’. When this label is put onto the raw sensation accompanied with a story about how bad this experience is – that is the cause of suffering, not the physical sensation itself.

The word ‘pain’ is not just a simple ordinary word, because it goes hand in hand with a bunch of other labels: ‘having pain is bad’, ‘I don’t want it’, ‘I want it to go away’, ‘I don’t want to be sick’, and so on. So even if just this single word ‘pain’ is put onto the raw physical experience, all the other conditioned labels are also automatically applied. When this happens unconsciously, and not seen for what it is – only a stream of thoughts – the suffering is guaranteed.

The bodily sensation does not have any innate attributes at all. It is just IS as it is. It is not bad or painful, only thought-labels suggest otherwise.

However, in order to see the difference between pain and suffering, it is not sufficient to believe these lines. You have to see it for ‘yourself’; not thinking about it, but LOOKING at it.

Next time when there is a physical pain, there is an opportunity for paying attention to the bodily sensation itself. When all the thought-labels are ignored, what is the raw experience like? Does it have a shape or form? Does it say that ‘I am the pain’?

What kinds of thought-tags arise interpreting the experience? ‘Oh, it hurts’, ‘this is pain’, ‘I don’t want it’… Are there any accompanying mental images about the body or certain body parts? Maybe a picture from the ‘past’ or an image projected onto the ‘future’?

What is left, when all the stories, thought-labels and mental images are just observed but not believed or resisted? When they are seen for what they are – simply thoughts and images passing by, like clouds on the sky… what is left then?

The story about the pain can be very tricky. Apart from some extreme cases, the physical pain is not constant at all. Only thoughts create the illusion of its continuity.

Let’s say, that there is a headache. The first sign of it emerged about an hour ago, and it has been in the focus of attention about ten times for five seconds (at each time), since the first experience of the headache arose. Some (or all) of these experiences have been stored in memory, and every time when the focus of attention goes to the sensation of pain again, the ‘brain’ links the current experience with all previously stored memories and creates the illusion of its continuity, by stating that ‘I am having this terrible headache for more than an hour now’. When this interpretation is believed, the continuity of time has arisen, and as a result, the illusion of a continuously present pain has also emerged.

Maybe it sounds complicated, but it can be observed in direct experience. The following exercise could be helpful to look at this phenomenon, if there is a curiosity to do so.

For the next ten minutes, label all experiences as they arise. When the focus of attention is on seeing, say ‘seeing’, when something is heard, ‘hearing’, when a food is tasted, ‘tasting’, when a bodily sensation arise, ‘sensing’. If thoughts come up interpreting the experience, ‘thinking’, when mental images appear, ‘imagining’, when pain arising, just simply say ‘pain’ or ‘hurting’.

The exact wording does not matter. The purpose of the exercise is to see that pain or any other phenomena ‘exist’ only when it is in the focus of attention. When the attention moves somewhere else, the experience of the pain is gone. Only the mental interpretation links together the memories of the experiences, creating the illusion of their continuity.

The source of suffering is not the experience of ‘pain’.
The source of suffering is the story about the experience.

Whatever IS, I don’t want it

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Humans are almost always not satisfied with what IS. This dissatisfaction can fluctuate on a spectrum from mild discomfort to full blown suffering, and can be artificially divided into two categories.

Probably the most unbearable sufferings can come from self-referencing beliefs, which are the building blocks of ‘our’ seeming self-image or identity with a core belief in ‘my’ incompleteness, unworthiness, unlovingness, guiltiness or whatever it might be – because deep down most of us ‘feel’ we are somehow not good enough, not complete; something is missing. But is this really the case? Is it really true? Where is this apparently deficient self? Where?

The other type of suffering is much more subtle; it is a constant arguing with what IS. No matter what is in this moment, but one thing is sure: ‘I do not want it’. Either I want the previous moment back or the next moment, but definitely not THIS. But actually, the statement ‘this moment is not good enough’ – is just a thought, nothing more.

256In the morning at breakfast, there is a fantasy about how good biking will be later in the afternoon. However, when biking happens, the mind wanders imagining eating the cooled watermelon from the fridge when I will be at home. Later, while eating the watermelon, thoughts come up demanding to check the emails. When reading the emails happen, it is labelled by the mind with a thought as boring, with an accompanying fantasy about how much better biking around the lake in the afternoon was.

Meanwhile, the sense of ‘me’ is sustained by being lost in the story of ‘my’ life. And the whole story revolves around only one character, called ‘me’. The ‘I’ is the centre of the universe, centre of its own projection. Everything is interpreted through the filter of a huge web of beliefs that constitutes the self.

The sensations in the legs while pushing the bike, the pumping of the heart in the chest, the warmth of the sun and the stroke of the breeze on the skin, the sight of the glimmering lake and the sounds of the twittering birds, the coolness of the watermelon in the mouth – are all lost and replaced by a dream

There is a constant dissatisfaction with what IS.
Because in this moment ‘I’ do NOT exist.
In this moment, without a mental commentary, there is no self to be found.
The ‘me’ lives only in thoughts.

But the thoughts or the stories by themselves are not problematic, only believing them creates the illusion of their realness. In direct experience, there are just thoughts and images passing by – empty, meaningless. Their meanings emerge only when they are believed and not seen for what they are – simply just thoughts.

Suffering comes from resisting what IS.
Without resistance there is no suffering.
Without arguing with what IS, there is peace.

There are as many worlds as humans on the planet

When you are sitting in a cinema surrounded by a hundred other people to see the latest movie, what do you think how many movies are seen in that same room? Or, when you read a bestseller book which has been sold in one million copies, how many stories have actually been read? The general assumption would be that there was only one movie screened that had been watched by a hundred people, and just one book read by millions. But is this really the case?

025This assumption is based on the core belief that there is a stand-alone, independent world out there, which is totally separate from ‘me’. But when the apparent world is examined in direct experience, it turns out that this is cannot be further from the truth.

The whole world is a mirror.
We see the world through ‘our own’ beliefs.
The whole world reflects back ‘our selves’.

Because the ‘human mind’ cannot help but project.
The ‘human mind’ is literally a projector.

This is how it works, and this is completely ‘normal’. Projection is part of the functioning of the ‘mind’. Similarly to the digestive tract that digests, the ‘mind’ projects. All the sensory inputs are filtered through a huge and intricate web of beliefs and all happenings are interpreted according to them.

So going back to the cinema and book analogies, there are as many movies being watched as people sitting in the cinema, and as many books being read as readers who read them. There is no objective reality ‘out there’.

Nothing is independent from ‘me’. The biggest ‘enlightened’ guru who seems to emanate only peace and love IS ‘me’. He is my projection, my creation. I project peace and love onto him. I cannot feel others emotions, it is impossible. It only feels real, because ‘my own’ peace that is currently felt in the body is projected onto him. I cannot feel his emanation; I can only feel the sensations arising in this body that are labelled as peace.

Or, a ruthless killer is also ‘me’, but this is probably a bit harder to let in. ‘My own’ set of beliefs are projected onto him interpreting his actions through my convictions about sin, good or bad, life and death, what should or should not happen and how things suppose to be.

The world is ‘my’ face looking back from the mirror.
Others are who ‘I’ believe them to be.
There are as many worlds as humans on the planet.
Therefore, individuals can never really meet.

The ‘mind’ projects its ‘internal’ world, its worldview to the seemingly outside world, and thus twists and overrides what IS with its story about it.

The whole world is ‘my’ making.
Seeing this is freedom.
Without the story the world is not a dangerous place anymore.
Reality is neutral.