We so often derive a sense of self from what we feel.
When a feeling arises we assume that a self feels it, owns it, attaches to it.
Yet there is a profound other possibility as we explore the realm of non-duality, of what we truly are.
Quite often we first begin to realize that many thoughts aren’t true. They’re figments. They’re ghosts. They’re fiction. They are born from the mental cradle and we’ve been conditioned to create a sense of self from the flimsy thoughts which rise and fall.
We’ve created an entire world, an entire play, an entire drama literally out of thin air. We’ve created a named creature, a self, like the main character from your favorite book. You’re the star of your favorite TV show. You’ve created a “you” and you want to prolong the plot another thirty or fifty years.
When you start glimpsing through the impermanent pages of your story–if you’re diligent or lucky–you might start realizing the fictional nature of thoughts. But you still might follow the deep rootings of your emotion, the swift or passionate desires arising, the hot and cold nature of feelings.
You will probably still imagine that the feelings arising are “you”.
Continue to witness. It sometimes arises like this: warm/hot/cold sensation in chest, in solar plexus, in stomach. It rises like a storm, a tempest brewing in the Gulf, the waves beating the shore. You feel you can’t live through it. You must give in to the wanting, the desire, the anger, the emotion. You will die if you do not somehow engage, batten the ships, disperse the energy.
Keep witnessing. Stay in the storm. Don’t be afraid of the lightning and thunder of your emotions. Stay there without thoughts, without the story you’ve added a hundred thousand times.
What you might notice is this: those feelings are not you. They are simply the by-products of the storm. They’re the wind, the howling, the rumbling, the waves rising. They are not the you who sees the entire scene. They are only passing flotsam and jetsam and seawater.
You’ll see this once, one fine storm, but it’s usually not enough. In every emotional storm that arises see it again and again and again.
Yesterday, in a brief emotional storm, I saw all the way back to babyhood. To the baby crying, wanting, uncomfortable, desiring. Save me. Give me bottle, change my diaper, hungry, give me food, hug, want. Help. Help. Help.
Discomfort arose and a parent arrived to croon, “You, You, You.” The parent sang you into existence as it changed your diapers, as it cuddled, as it shaped you into something more than discomfort. It shaped your discomfort into a want and showed you how to appease it. It also formed you into a self, into the main character of your novella.
The intensity of our feelings formed a sense of self along with the thoughts which plumped it out.
As we mature into realizing it becomes suddenly clearer, like blue skies after a rainstorm: I am not my thoughts. I am not my feelings. I am not my body. The realization may arise on the mental level but longs to sink deep into your knowing. Let it sink into your heart, your actions, your dreams, the next moment, the next unexpected crack of the Thunderbirds.
(Then you will perhaps begin to more assuredly use your inner compass to direct you, one that utilizes feelings, thoughts and body, the lady next door, the chickadee singing, everything you’ve previously labeled as separate, as outside the self. That inner knowing, that inner intuition, will guide you because it is Everything. It is the maturation of the baby’s cry. It is the maturation of your entire evolving.)
If you’re ready to realize who you are–don’t waste another storm with another chapter of your saga. It can be survived, just barely, if you’re ready. If you’re not ready bring your umbrella of stories and have a ball writing them in the pouring rain.