To begin to live in the moment more fully, we have to become aware of our egoic mind, what it is thinking, and how true those thoughts are. The good news is we don’t have to do anything to develop that awareness. We have always been aware of our mind or we wouldn’t be able to recount what is in it or think about our thoughts. Something else is present besides the mind that has always been aware of it and everything else that is occurring in the sensory mechanism we call our body. This awareness, this Noticer, this observer, is you, the real you.
Exercise: Noticing the Real You
The real you is subtle. This inquiry will help you become more aware of who you really are.
Who or what is it that is aware of reading these words? Notice that awareness. How do you experience it? What does it feel like? Where do you experience it? Is it contained anywhere? Just stay with the experience of it for a moment. This is who you are. The experience of who you are is available in every moment. All you have to do is give your attention to the real you instead of to the egoic mind.
The egoic mind projects another you, the thinker of the thoughts. This is the ego, the you that you think you are: the you that has a name and looks a certain way and is a father/mother, sister/brother, and so on. (Fill in the blank with all the things you call yourself.) That you is the one that does not exist. That you isn’t real. Instead, you are the awareness of the person you think you are.
Once you see this, you have to wonder why it took so long. Programming. That’s all. We don’t see it because we are programmed to think of ourselves the way we do. There’s no getting around our programming except by seeing that it’s not the whole truth about who we are. We are programmed to believe an illusion. Once we realize this, the jig is up, as they say. The bell can’t be un-rung, and we can’t go back to believing a lie. We may still do some of the same things we did, but life is never the same.
However, our programming still has some pull. It can pull us in for a while, but not for long before we catch ourselves laughing for taking the me so seriously. We may find the ego endearing and silly, but we can’t buy into its perspective for very long. Most of what the egoic mind says just doesn’t seem true anymore.
What an amazing discovery! What a relief it is to discover that we are not this individual who suffers and struggles so. We can finally give up the effort to be somebody special, to know things, to be right, and to get it right. We were never satisfied with ourselves or others, no matter what we did or what they did. It was a no-win game. What a relief it is to give up the effort to be better, do better, and get more.
How did we miss the fact that everything we have ever wanted has been here all along? The peace, happiness, and joy we have been searching for, competing for, have been here all along in the space between our thoughts. We are that peace, happiness, and joy. We missed it because it is who we are. It is too close for us to see, like an eye that can’t see itself. It is so ever-present that, like water to a fish, it is taken for granted and not questioned. Like the air we breathe, it is invisible and without dimension, and the ego doesn’t pay attention to such things. The ego has eyes only for the tangibles in life.
Besides, the ego has been very busy creating a life, a story, by manifesting problems and then trying to solve them. When we were identified with the egoic mind, we were too busy to ask questions. We had a thought and then did something about it. That’s what life was about. But once we begin questioning the egoic mind, the illusion begins to unravel.
When the time comes to awaken, the Self puts thoughts into the mind that question the validity of our other thoughts. The Self also draws others to us who realize the Truth and have seen through the egoic mind. Questions about the nature and purpose of life also begin to arise in the mind.
Until then, the tendency is to respect and adhere to whatever goes through the egoic mind. Like someone lost in the ocean who has just been thrown a life preserver, we cling to each thought for dear life. After all, without our thoughts telling us who we are, who would we be? We don’t think that being no-thing is an option. To the egoic mind, being no-thing is the same as not existing. The ego would rather be anyone, even an unhappy someone, than not exist at all. This domination of the egoic mind is the cause of suffering.
—PURCHASE: From Radical Happiness: A Guide to Awakening