“With awareness, we awaken to cure what is not meant to be endured and endure what cannot be cured, and from this place, we live in the moment, where suffering is optional.”
I remember when I was growing up that calling someone a zero meant that he or she was useless or worthless. Now here I am decades later writing about becoming zero but from a loftier understanding.
You will notice with a little bit of awareness that everything in personhood comes and goes, including the body. Life is not stable from the perspective of the person. One moment you can be upset, the next laughing and then the next anxious. When we take pause, this can be noticed, but it is something that usually is overlooked or ignored, not by choice, of course, but by habit, a habit that took shape so the mind could remain a controlling authority.
Let me tell you with one-hundred percent certainty that becoming zero is the most stable state you can experience. However, I do not expect you to believe me; but instead, I want you to experience it for yourself because it is only through having a direct experience that you will come to see the truth.
When you are curious, you learn, and when you are desperate, you discover. The mind wants to learn and will have its own interpretation of what becoming zero means. It will put up roadblocks every chance it gets to distract you. Therefore, it is up to you to use your awareness to awaken to these distractions and stay focused on what is evident.
What do I mean by becoming zero? It means you do not have any attachment to your thoughts and feelings. Please do not misunderstand me; I am not saying that you should not think and feel. Of course, you will. However, you will do it by choice. In other words, your thoughts and feelings will not control you and operate unchecked. They will still come and go, and you are free to pick them up at any time. Moreover, it certainly does not mean that somehow your life will be dull or boring. In truth, just the opposite will happen.
Can you feel the freedom that comes with having command over what causes your psychological suffering?
Remember, a thought, feeling, or emotion has no power over you until you believe it. I can have a thought that says this is amazing, and someone else might think it is awful. When we believe something is amazing, we feel good, and if we believe it is awful, we suffer. I am sure you can access countless instances of this in your life — for example, a new relationship or the break-up of one. Therefore, without belief, a thought, feeling, or emotion has no power, and therefore it will pass like a cloud floating across the sky.
Now, this is very simple to do. First, we create some space between our thoughts, feelings, and emotions by not believing in them automatically. We begin to notice or question what arises. This is accomplished by bringing awareness to them and becoming the observer. It is from the position of the observer that we create the space we need to stay unattached to what comes. As long as we are watching and not grabbing hold of the thought, feeling, or emotion, there will be some space creating a moment free of reaction, which will lead to stability. You will feel a sense of freedom in this space.
Now I did say this was simple to do, and it is; okay here comes the but, the challenge happens when things start to bubble up from underneath, i.e., conditioning, beliefs, feelings, etc. You have years or decades of automatically going with your thoughts, feelings, and emotions; it is a habit. To break the habit, you will need to come back to observing as the mind distracts you repeatedly. And it will try to distract you because you are taking your power back. Remember, nothing will stick unless you believe in it. You break the habit of attachment by becoming the observer.
There is no need to struggle. If it feels hard to do, then notice that that is a thought. Step back into the observer position, and the hardness will soften, letting go with ease. Any struggle signifies that you are attaching to a thought, feeling, or emotion created by the mind to distract you.
“The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.” -Blaise Pascal
Start here first, and do the best you can because the smallest step toward your authentic-self transcends the mind and brings about tremendous transformation.
We have become so narrowly focused on all the things occurring outside of ourselves, that we feel a loss of control in our lives. Of course, this kind of thinking leads to anxiety, stress, worry, and fear. These types of psychological problems are becoming all too common for us these days.
External problems can appear to be the same to specific groups of like-minded people and not as problems at all to others. That is because of each person’s conditioning, and the beliefs created out of that conditioning. In other words, it is how we think about things that tell us whether or not it is a problem.
The conditioning we receive is instilled at such a young age, much of it before the age of seven, that it is never questioned. This conditioning becomes the foundation that we build on to become who we are now and what we believe. When enough people believe and think the same thing, it creates what we see in the world. That is because we make choices based on our beliefs.
Could we have been misled or built our views on incorrect information? Is there more to us than what we see with our eyes and think with our minds?
If you narrowly focus on one thought long enough, then it can become the truth for you, and then all your choices going forward will be based on that new belief. This unreliable information then makes us think things that are not true. For instance, I am not good enough, I am not smart, or I will never be happy again.
Many have come to the point where they are at the mercy of their thoughts and feelings. At times, they find that their thoughts and feelings are overwhelming. There seems to be no way to be free from them, which again creates more anxiety, stress, worry, and fear.
When you slow your thoughts down by paying attention to them, and you begin to question them, you can start to discover and unravel your conditioning. Self-inquiry like this will lead to freedom from your conditioning and creates a very different life than what you are experiencing now.
We unconsciously attach to our thoughts and habitually follow them. These thoughts arise spontaneously without any conscious effort on our part, and you can see this taking place with awareness. They are not based in fact but often accepted as fact. They are born out of our false foundation. It will require effort for most people, particularly in the beginning, to break these habits, to uncover their True-Self, and to shed the skin of who they have become.
Know that anyone can be free, no matter what your mind and thoughts tell you. The challenge is not to believe what the mind tells you and not to be tricked by its subtle and cunning ways. This is because you are more than your mind and body. The only way that this idea becomes a reality for you is to have direct-experience of your True-Self. Otherwise, your mind will use this lofty concept to keep you a prisoner, and you will be lost in a maze of thoughts leading down a path with no way out. Rest assured, in my words, that there is always a way with awareness.
We are, by essence, adaptive and evolving beings, and when we are not, we suffer, and if it continues long enough, we perish. This is a lesson we still have not learned from nature. The earth will survive long after we are gone because of our arrogance and greed if we do not change.
When human beings and human rights come second to money, then we all lose. We have to question the choices we are making. We must begin to make decisions that are morally right and start to live from a place of higher wisdom. Otherwise, we can expect things to continue to be how they are now and gradually become worse, creating more suffering for everyone.
What you are is revealed when you let go of what you are not. You are no longer the seeker, but you remember who you are in truth.
“What we are looking for is what is looking.” ― St. Francis of Assisi
Therefore, you do not need more knowledge, rituals, or some other practice. It is discovered through the recognition of your conditioning, misguided beliefs, and habituated thinking. By using one of your greatest gifts, awareness, you can begin to uncover your True-Self or real nature through direct experience.
Of course, you can continue to follow your thoughts and the mind, which will keep you trapped in a never-ending journey. They will always confirm that what you seek is just around the next corner. Yes, you will make some progress this way. However, you may have already noticed that you are not getting very far. Ask yourself this question and see where it leads: how much time do you need to become timeless?
Does something feel missing in your life? Do you feel called toward something different or more meaningful? Are you continually searching for the next thing that will bring you the peace, joy, and happiness that you desire? Do you find yourself doing, doing, and doing until exhaustion, then trying to squeeze in time to enjoy life? Do you hang onto memories of the past and dream of better days to come?
Many experience life like this and ultimately wake up one day wondering where their lives are going or went, and this awakening becomes the motivating force to create something new. The misstep that happens is that we believe we must embark on a long journey to some place new — not realizing that what we are seeking is already here and does not need to be created.
What if your searching, which has offered you incremental change toward your desired outcome, somehow is simultaneously keeping you from your intended destination? Can you see this happening in your life? Does your intended destination always seem so close, yet somehow you never arrive?
The surprising solution is so simple that many think it cannot possibly work, and therefore, it is often overlooked. Is it possible that you are so trapped in personhood that you have lost the ability to see the truth of who you really are? Has your doing, doing, doing kept you from being able to just BE in life, to be present in the moment?
For some, this will sound silly to the mind, and especially so to anyone who has never questioned who they are. All I ask is that you ignore your mind just this once. Ask yourself this question if you are having trouble understanding where I am pointing. Has your mind throughout your life produced thoughts that were always true and helpful? If not, then please keep reading.
The following insight will tell you when you are actually in the moment, which is something you can confirm for yourself. When you can be present, in the here and now, the moment, thoughts are not perceived.
We have all had times like this when we do pay attention to our thoughts, and they seem to be gone. For example, when we are in awe of a sunset, or we experience so much joy that we lose track of time. In these moments, there is nothing to do and nothing wrong. We are one with what is and fully present. We become still inside and full of peace. It is only when we fall back into personhood that thought once again appears.
Of course, afterward, we THINK that living every moment in this way is not possible because we have to make a living or we have to take care of the family, or we have to… Like a dog chasing its tail, we continue looking for something that seems elusive. We keep searching to find that thing that will recreate our experience, not realizing that it is always here. We have forgotten it is our natural state, just to BE.
The truth is that living in the present moment is not about creating anything. It is not about taking a journey or changing anything. We are so attached to our thoughts that we cannot see this, and we THINK that being present is about practice, a ritual or hard work. We fail to recognize that we are more than just the body and this life as a person.
You cannot figure all this out through the mind because it will get in the way of you seeing the truth. It will make you THINK that you already know or you are getting close if you just do one more thing. Finding your way out of this mind-trap is simple; however, letting go of years of conditioning and habitual thinking is not always easy for most of us.
Therefore, if you truly feel a calling to go deeper and have direct experience of this truth, you must be vigilant and bring more awareness into your life. Life does not have to be so serious. Suffering comes from the attachment to thought and the desire for a different outcome than what showed up. You know when this has happened you have become too attached to personhood and lost awareness of your True-Self, your real nature. You will only find stability there because everything associated with personhood is unstable; it comes, goes, lives, and dies.
I am not asking you to believe me or to acquire more knowledge. Test it out for yourself, because it will only be through direct experience that you can build the strength to ignore the misdirection of your thoughts. Use your mind when you need to and stop believing everything it says. Become aware of its rambling, and your life will become full of joy and peace. Return to your real and timeless state.
The God-Field from which all creation births and dies is where we observe the activity of personhood. From this field, we look from the True-Self and see our anger, pride, and fear, in addition to all the other feelings and disruptive conditionings that impede our life and cause us to suffer.
Once we begin to use our innate ability to observe thoughts and emotions consciously, we can use awareness to awaken from the deceptions of the mind.
We must start to question our thoughts. Through this questioning, we can expose the influence that the mind has over our life. Then we will begin to see its obvious and sometimes subtle trickery that prevents us from awakening to the truth.
Rumi points to the truth of who we are so eloquently in the following quote.
“I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens. I’ve been knocking from the inside.”
Waking up is not a journey to somewhere as the mind tells us, this is another misleading thought and keeps us lost. We mistakenly think that we have to get somewhere and that it requires many years of practice or hard work. The mind will confirm this wrong and misleading advice. So first, it lies to us, and then it tells us the lie is valid. Can you see this is true? I guarantee that this thinking, at some point, has influenced your life in a way that was not for your highest good.
If you see this playing out in your life, then stop falling for these lies and begin to use your awareness to wake up. If you THINK this has not happened to you, then pay closer attention to your thoughts throughout the day, and it will be revealed.
I do not want you to believe me or know this intellectually but to experience it for yourself. Intellectual knowledge of this will not get you very far, as you may have seen from your years of studies.
Once you have direct experience, the mind will lose its control and power over you. Know that it may not give up quickly, so be watchful for its trickery. If you have a thought like, ah yes, I have it, you will stop watching and fall for another subtle but effective trick to keep you stuck from using your awareness to root out the real problem, which is believing or attaching to everything your mind tells you.
Remember that all things in personhood come and go and the experience is not reliable or steady. Daily we can see this played out in our lives and we are too attached to our identity as a person. Our real nature, on the other hand, is peaceful and wholly stable and dependable. It does not rely on anything, has no conditioning or beliefs and therefore is not responsive to the trickery of the mind.
Your mind will try to tell you that a life like this will be dull, but I assure you this is also a lie. Find out for yourself and know that it is not for just a few, but for anyone who wants it. Therefore, if your life feels unsettled or you are called to find something more profound, then follow this pointing to something higher than a life that is dictated by the mind and your conditioned beliefs.