Untethered Soul, Chapter 3: Take the Identity Challenge!

Welcome back to our series of The Untethered Soul! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving if it is a holiday you celebrate. I’m excited to now return to our regularly scheduled programing, especially for Chapter 3 of Michael A. Singer’s fabulous, best-selling book.

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So far we’ve looked at the intro and the first two chapters with the intent on contemplating our inner voice and what it means when wen we say, “Me.” I hope it has been food for thought! As for me, even though this is the second time reading this book I am finding the topics and applications just as fascinating and freeing as the first time around. Okay, and sometimes pretty frustrating, too. How in the world do we remain detached fro all of that prattling taking place inside all the time?? Well, more on that in the coming weeks.

Chapter 3, called “Who Are You?” continues urging us to understand that we are NOT the inner voice, but rather that we are awareness, or a witness. What I like the most about this chapter are the exercises Singer provides to help us experience our identity conundrum. They’re a mental blast! So, instead of outlining or summarizing this chapter, let me just use the author’s own words and invite you take the IDENTITY CHALLENGE!  Here we go…

Challenge #1: Whoooo are Youuuuu?

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Make believe that you and I are having a conversation. Typically, in Western cultures, when someone comes up to you and asks, “Excuse me, who are you?” you don’t admonish them for asking such a deep questions. You tell them your name, for example, Sally Smith. But I’m going to challenge this response by taking out a piece of paper and writing the letters S-a-l-l-y S-m-i-t-h, and then showing it to you. Is that who you are — a collection of letters? Is that who sees when you see? Obviously not, so you say,

“Okay, … It’s a label. Really, I’m Frank Smith’s wife.”

No way, that’s not even politically correct nowadays. …Are you saying you didn’t exist before you met Frank, and you would cease to exist if he died or you got remarried? Frank Smith’s wife can’t be who you are. Again, that’s just another label, the result of another situation or event you participated in. But then, who are you? This time you respond,

“Okay, … My label is Sally Smith. I was born in 1965 in New York. I lived in Queens with my parents, Harry and Mary Jones, until I was five years old. Then we moved to New Jersey… I got all A’s in school, … I went to Rutgers College where I met and married Frank Smith. That is who I am.”

Wait a minute, that’s a fascinating story, but I didn’t ask you what has happened to you since you were born. I asked you, “Who are you?” You’ve just described all these experiences, but who had these experiences? Wouldn’t you still be in there, aware of your existence, even if you had gone to a different college?

… So you ponder this more seriously and you say,

“Okay, I am the body that is occupying this space I am five foot six and I weigh 135 pounds, and here I am.”

When you were Dorothy in the fifth grade play you weren’t five foot six, you were four foot six. So which are you? … Weren’t you in there when you were Dorothy? … When you were ten years old, didn’t you look in the mirror and see a ten-year-old body? Wasn’t that the same you that now sees an adult body? What you looked at has changed; but what about you, the one who is looking? Isn’t there a continuity of being?

Wasn’t it the same being that looked in the mirror throughout the years?

pp. 23-15

Challenge #2: Dream on!

Susan Seddon

Susan Seddon

Here’s another question: When you go to sleep every night, do you dream? Who dreams? What does it mean to dream? You answer,

“Well, it’s like a motion picture plays in my mind and I watch it.”

Who watches it?

“I do!”

The same you who looks in the mirror? Does the same you who is reading these words also look in the mirror and watch the dreams? When you awake, you know you saw the dream. There is a continuity of conscious awareness of being.

p. 25

Challenge #3: The Dog and the Rattlesnake

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…imagine that you’re watching a dog play outdoors. Suddenly you hear a noise right behind you –a hiss, like a rattlesnake! Would you still be looking at the dog with the same intensity of focus? Of course not! You’d be feeling tremendous fear inside. Though the dog would still be playing in front of you, you’d be completely preoccupied with the experience of fear. All of your attention can very quickly become absorbed in your emotions. But who feels the fear? Isn’t it the same you who was watching the dog? …You can become so absorbed in beautiful inner feelings, or frightening inner fears, that it’s hard to focus on outer objects. In essence, inside and outside objects compete for your attention. You are in there having both inner and outer experiences –but who are you?

To explore this more deeply, answer another question: Don’t you have times when you’re not having emotional experiences and, instead, you just feel quiet inside? You’re still in there, but you’re just aware of peaceful quiet. Eventually, you will begin to realize that the outside world and the flow of inner emotions come and go. But you, the one who experiences these things, remain consciously aware of whatever passes before you.

pp. 25-26

Challenge #4: I Think, Therefore I am?? 

The-Thinker-Statue

Thoughts can stop, and they can also get extremely noisy. Sometimes you have many more thoughts than other times. You may even tell someone, “My mind is driving me crazy. Ever since he said those things to me, I can’t even sleep. My mind just won’t shut up.”

Whose mind? Who is noticing these thoughts? Isn’t it you? Don’t you hear your thoughts inside? Aren’t you aware of their existence? In fact, can’t you get rid of them? If you start to have a thought you don’t like, can’t you try to make it go away? People struggle with thoughts all the time. Who is it that is aware of the thoughts, and who is it that struggles with them? … You are not your thoughts. You are simply aware of your thoughts.

pp. 26-27

So we’re not our labels, we’re not our experiences, we’re not inner emotions nor outer objects, and we’re not even our thoughts! If this is all so what in the world ARE we??

Eventually, you will get to a point within yourself where you realize that you, the experiencer, have a certain quality. And that quality is awareness, consciousness, an intuitive sense of existence. You know that you’re in there. You don’t have to think about it; you just know . You can think about it if you want to, but you will know that you’re thinking about it. You exist regardless, thoughts or no thoughts.

Challenge #5: Piano Finale

Notice that with a single glance at a room, or out a window, you instantaneously see the full detail of everything that’s in front of you. You are effortlessly aware of all the objects that are within the scope of your vision, both near and far away. Without moving your head or eyes, you perceive all the intricate detail of what you immediately see. Look at all the colors, the variations of light, the grain of wood furniture, the architecture of buildings, and the variations of bark and leaves on trees. Notice that you take all this in at once, without having to think about it. No thoughts are necessary; you just see it.

Now try to use thoughts to isolate, label, and describe all the intricate detail of what you see. How long would it take your mental voice to describe all that detail to you, versus the instantaneous snapshot of consciousness just seeing? When you just look without creating thoughts, your consciousness is effortlessly aware of, and fully comprehends, all that it sees. …

Let’s say you are in a room looking at a group of people and a piano. Now make believe the piano ceases to exist in your wold. Would you have a major problem with that? You say,

“No, I don’t think so. I’m not attached to pianos.”

Okay then, make believe the people in the room cease to exist. Are you still okay? Can you handle it? You say,

“Sure, I like being alone.”

Now make believe your awareness doesn’t exist. Just turn it off. How are you doing now? What would it be like if your awareness didn’t exist? It’s actually pretty simple — you wouldn’t be there. There would be no sense of “me.”

pp. 27-28

I know that was long, but I hope you have found it as interesting and enlightening as I did. So what is the final answer that the author is looking for from his hypothetical interviewee?

I am the one who sees. From back in here somewhere, I look out, and I am aware of the events, thoughts, and emotions that pass before me.

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Take comfort this week in knowing that you are always peacefully, calmly situated in your “true home,” the “seat of Self.”

 ~~~S Wave~~~

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Keep Me Hanging On

Start by doing what’s necessary;
then do what’s possible;
and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

– St. Francis of Assisi

This week has been especially disturbing to me in terms of farmed animal welfare. Two new undercover videos were released from Mercy For Animals (MFA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

The first, from MFA, shows dairy farm workers at an Idaho farm sexually molesting dairy cows. You can read about it and/or watch the video here.

The second, from HSUS, chronicles a practice in a Kentucky pig breeding factory of feeding ground up body parts of piglets back to the mothers. These piglets apparently die from severe diarrhea, so that is in there too. You can read about it and/or watch the video here.

What?? (sigh)

Meanwhile, I was also reminded this week of the Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness which was signed in 2012 by a group of neuroscientists. It states that based many non-human animals have “neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors,” including all mammals and birds.

Interesting juxtaposition. We exploit and abuse animals. <—> They might be conscious like we are. Quite an implication for us.

Now I know that science competes with itself, so is the Declaration based on “sound” evidence? I don’t know.  But I know that it shows that there are people alive, now, who are discovering animal consciousness to be at the least a possibility.

Don’t you feel sometimes like your pets are self-aware or are connecting with you or other animals emotionally? Don’t you sense that they have true affection for their babies? That they fear? And love?

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Then why not a pig? Then why not a cow?

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It is hard for me to imagine any sound argument supporting our culture’s current treatment of our fellow creatures. Whether you base your reasons in the science, the spirituality, the indigenous traditions, or just the gut reaction you have to animals in pain, doesn’t something seem off? Doesn’t it seem like something should change for the good of our OWN species, let alone all the others? I’m not talking about “extreme” changes like a vegan world or animal rights being written into law…I’m pointing just to a basic respect for non-human animals. A humbling of ourselves to recognize the impact our choices have on them and to entertain the possibility that we, as a species, could treat them better.

I personally believe that our future survival really does depend on a change in consciousness. It requires an end of division and competition at the levels we suffer now and a new collaborative, cooperative civilization. Not just with each other, but with the Earth and its other inhabitants with whom we should be sharing this home. It is the hope of that civilization (brought about by necessity, compassion, and divine guidance) along with my own proactive efforts to propel change that keep me hanging on.

So hang on! To each pig crammed into a gestation crate, each elephant shackled in a concrete shed for our entertainment, each of you that feels like it’s too much to try and change….hang on. It might not be in my lifetime or yours, but I believe that things will change. Or, I should say, that they MUST.

In the meantime, go to those links, sign the petitions, get some more meat out of your diet, keep on improving your own choices to align with what you believe and FIND YOUR HOPE! There is always hope. Truly.

I think I might be a broken record when I’m writing about this. 🙂 And I’m guessing that I’m probably preaching to the choir. So be it. There’s too many reasons to keep writing.

Love to you all. The world needs you!

~~~S Wave~~~

The Purpose of Connectedness

Here is what I think the ultimate purpose of connectedness is:

539832_10200183891134171_1644080990_nThis picture has become my inspiration and my reminder of why I meditate, pray, write, reach out, and keep on keepin’ on. Here is what it speaks to me:

1. We are connected in order to help each other rise higher in consciousness and liberation.

2. In higher consciousness we are like children in our openness, curiosity, clarity, and trust.

3. Ascending higher, we begin to leave the baggage of the world behind us. Fears, anxieties, distractions, confusions begin to fall away.

4. In connectedness and higher consciousness we become more free to create beautiful things together which adorns the whole world around us.

Grateful, as always, for you,

~~~S Wave~~~

From one to ONE

I have been feeling more and more boundless during my times of prayer. When I close my eyes and sink deeper and deeper into it, I can begin to sense that the idea of my body as my boundary is contrived. That my true self is without limits. Like I said, I’m no ordinary squirrel. 😉

I remember when I was about nine that I had a life-changing moment driving past the lake in the passenger seat of my mom’s car. Looking out the window I suddenly realized in my gut that I was completely singular, completely alone in my experience. I remember looking at mom and, with no small sense of amazement, realized that she and I were two different people and our experience of the world would never fully converge. I would never know what her eyes saw as she looked at the same road I was looking at, or how the seat beneath her felt on her legs, or what thought was filling her mind from one moment to the next. It felt very isolating, yet somehow inspiring. There was suddenly a feeling of importance for my life, but also great alone-ness.

Whether or not it is related to that early event, for most of my life I have been operating under an unexamined belief that we are all separate. Why wouldn’t I think that? Don’t most people think that? Doesn’t it look like that? I am me and you are you. I am one and you are one. Here we are:

one, by ~~~S Wave~~~

Even as I’ve come to know more about God, even as I’ve experienced inexplicable connections with a few very special people, even as I have done some reading up on metaphysics and theories of transpersonal connection, my grander experience of life has never really changed. So why would my overall paradigm change?

But now, something new is dawning. The other night, as I was feeling boundless, I said, “Thank you for the way you move through all things.” With those words my paradigm changed. Suddenly there is a ONE. If my Self is boundless, then your Self is boundless. And his…and hers… Where do you begin and I end? Where does my spirit or consciousness or energy cease to inform yours and vice versa? Where does yellow end and green begin?

ONE, by ~~~S Wave~~~

I’m telling you, I am walking down the streets of Los Angeles the past few days passing people and thinking, “Do you know that we are actually colliding right now?? That you are made up of divinity just like the rest of us? How cool is that!?” This doesn’t mean I have to trust every person, that I have to welcome their energy into my experience, but I do think it is a part of the Love that I have asked to learn more about.

As for separateness, I think we are separate as sensory processors and as egos. My little nine year-old self was right about that. But senses and egos are not all we are.

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A final reminder—for you and for me—that this blog was started with the idea that we are like waves. Remember that you can not point to where your wave ends and another’s begins. Nor can you can point to where your wave begins and the ocean ends. It is a metaphor I like…and now I like it even more. Hope you do too.