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At our current level of consciousness, as different emotional energy states come into us, they define and shape our interaction with each moment. Seeing this, we identify with each state, thinking it is who we are. For example, when anger comes through us, we believe “I am angry.”
But the fact of the matter is, there is no such self. Not really. There are only these states of energy and the fleeting sense of self produced as each one surfaces. If it’s a negative state we fight and resist it. If it’s a pleasing one, we embrace it. In either case we believe we’re acting for ourselves, from ourselves, and that we’re unique for our experience.
Then in a heartbeat, because that momentary state isn’t really ours and only washes through, the minute its nature has moved on, so does the sense of self we had derived from it. Now a whole new and unwanted feeling floods in, leaving us asking ourselves, “Hey, I seem to be missing something here. Where did my life — my sense of self — just go?”
For example, we’re happily drinking a mocha at the local coffee shop. All’s right with the world. Then we get a text from a friend saying she can’t meet us after all. Suddenly anxiety takes over. “Why is she always doing this? Isn’t there anyone I can depend on? It’s embarrassing to be sitting here alone like this.” The happy person of a moment before is completely displaced by this unhappy one, and now we think all we are is this sad person.
In this way we bounce back and forth from state to state, spending our lives in a continual kind of unconscious struggle, attempting to overcome our own persistent and painful sense of loss. We search for some power to make us feel strong; to make us feel superior to these states that punish us, or to allow us to hold onto these pleasing states that lend us a sense of ourselves as being powerful or loving.
The truth is, we are meant to be more than any of these passing states.
Wouldn’t it be tremendous if the next time a wave of anger came over you, you were more than the anger?
Or what about the next time you started to sink into some doubt or depression? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you were more than that futile state?
The implications here are staggering. Think of the positive impact this ability would have on our physical world alone. For instance, why are we cruel to one another? It’s because when we get angry or depressed, we think that’s the totality of who we are, and all we know to do is to express or repress that negative state. Unkindness begets the same, so we inadvertently create more unhappiness. But what if we can be more – in the sense of something “greater” – than any painful mental or emotional state.
And that’s the point! We already are!
Within each of us lives something that is already much more than any one of these passing painful states, or all of them combined.
Within us, yet undiscovered, is the spiritual ground upon which these waves of states both move and break. But rather than living upon and from this ground that these waves break over, we continually identify with the momentary sense of self each passing emotional state creates, and therefore find ourselves in the ever-rolling waves as they rush in and out. As long as we continue to find ourselves in these waves, the only thing we will be is dominated.
You can work at being “bigger” than any painful thought or feeling by becoming aware of its presence within you and, while remaining aware of it, work consciously to neither express nor repress it. Choosing to rest within this kind of higher awareness – refusing to fall into any dark state that ordinarily overcomes you – creates consciousness of that state and the ground it is rolling over.
Working in this way, all of a sudden there’s you and that feeling of conflict that used to dominate you because you didn’t recognize it as being a visitor. You thought it was something you had to go along with because you thought it was “you.” Now, by keeping your attention where it belongs (on the underlying ground and not on the waves), you don’t give yourself away to something that doesn’t belong to you.
Instead, you find a new and unshakable sense of self by grounding yourself in the awareness of the waves, watching them rise and fall, instead of being carried away by them.
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