Chapter 1 Of The Book:
They claim to be personal, but are they really? If you just observe your inner state – whatever emotions come or go – do so of their own accord. There is not a person inside that says: “ok, now I’m going to get angry” or “ok, I command anxiety to come”. No – they arise by themselves. They are energy movements. What gives them their strength is our belief that they are personal. Belief is everything. We overlook its power, but it is obvious that whatever you believe – is true for you. This is massively significant in determining suffering or lack of it. Your whole experience of the world is affected by what you do or do not believe. Two people’s experiences could be vastly different just from believing or not believing in one thought.
Is this not some kind of relief? That the emotions you experience are not yours to manage? They are not who you are. They are not your responsibility – you may have noticed that they are very difficult to control. All of our frustration and confusion come when we believe we are the ones producing these emotions, yet they seem to have some uncontrollable force behind them. This can make negative emotions create a kind of inner hell for us.
So let this be your realisation – that emotions are nothing to do with who you are. You are aware of them, but you do not personally create them. There is an energy in us that enjoys creating emotions and seeks to maintain them – we will get on to this later. See the impermanence of emotions, that they come and go, that they seem to have a will of their own. They can be triggered by certain events or they can come up unexpectedly. If you take ownership of them as if “I should stop feeling anxious” or “I should stop getting angry” – or whatever – then you can get into a mess and end up suppressing things which can do more harm than good. Notice how emotions rise and fall by themselves, without personal volition. You are the awareness in which they move.
Why Do They Feel So Personal?
Emotions feel personal because they are tied to a personal identity. From birth we are conditioned into taking ourselves to be separate people, separate personalities living in bodies. The personality is only the surface aspect of yourself. Have you ever looked a little deeper? How can the personality exist in the first place? Where does it come from? From where does it arise? Is it actually real, or just a bundle of thoughts and automatic behaviours?
What we believe to be our real identity as a separate person, is made up of imagination. It is a construction of thoughts. Even “I” or “me”, in itself, is a thought.
With this formation of the imaginary inner person, also known as the separate “I” or “the ego”, – a great deal of thought and emotion arises, all based around this central thought of “I”. This “I” claims to be the thinker of thoughts and the producer of emotions, so we believe that the thoughts and emotions that arise are our own doing.
But are they your own doing? Do you choose to think, or does thinking happen by itself? Do you choose to feel angry, or sad, or calm, or happy, or do these feelings arise by themselves? For the most part, emotion and thoughts are playing in our awareness, by themselves. If we knew ourselves as the awareness in which all thought, emotion and personality arises, then we would naturally be undisturbed and at peace. Thought, emotion and personality would be in service to us, rather than dominating our experience of Life.
The real disturbance comes when we identify with the inner person, who is very involved in all the inner noise. This imaginary person enjoys the pleasant feelings, and suffers the painful ones, it is responsible for inner turmoil, yet feels a victim of it.
So, in a sense, nothing is personal, since it all happens by itself. The person “doing all of it” is an illusion, simply a creation of thought. It is a false self. Yet, because of this inner person absorbing so much belief and attention, it seems emotions and thoughts are “yours”. See what happens if you can let thought and emotion be there, without calling them “yours”. You will see that a voice in the head speaks, analyses and commentates, emotions come and go, all by themselves. They arise in the space of awareness, which is who you are.
There’s Nothing Wrong With You
It naturally follows that whatever emotions or thoughts you experience – does not imply that there is anything right or wrong with you. It could be said that there is an inner dysfunction that loves to create suffering – and this is part of the human condition – but it is not who you are in essence.
“I can’t stop having these terrible thoughts”, “I can’t stop feeling anxious”, “I can’t stop thinking!” – all such thoughts are voices of the Painmaker – the energy field in humans that loves to create suffering. Be aware of yourself as the awareness in which dysfunction, noise or any insanity arises. This natural, ever-present yet non-objective awareness, when recognised, is the emergence of sanity, the end of the domination of the thinking mind.
We often think awareness must be a thing. If there is a painful emotion inside or a lot of noisy thoughts, we can be tricked by the mind that says “I have lost awareness”. You haven’t lost awareness. Awareness can not be lost. If you are aware that there is a lot of inner noise or emotion rising up – then that is enough. The only other thing is to stop arguing with it. Give up your fight with the inner state. The thoughts and emotions that make us suffer are based on conflict and resistance. They are in themselves, forms of resistance.
The antidote is no more conflict. Don’t fight the fighter. Don’t resist resistance. Without resisting your inner state, without calling it good or bad, without wishing it be different – you become more effortless, and it is easier to see that you already are the awareness in which these inner energies move.
The inner person that seems to suffer thoughts and emotions, is not who you are. The person, or the sufferer, is only another thought. The inner person that suffers pain, is part of the pain itself. The inner person that seems to be dominated by thoughts, is part of the thoughts themselves. You are not a person, the feeling of a person arises IN you.
Be aware that the content of your mind, however potent or turbulent, arises in an untouched space. Surrender to the content, let it be, welcome it even, and it is easier to sense that rather than being the thought of “I” that arises as the mind, you are the untouched space, the impersonal source from which the inner person and its related thoughts arise.