The most important question of all
Many people are on a quest seeking to discover whether God exists, what happens to us after death, and what the purpose of humanity is. Few people, however, are asking the most important question of all: “Who or what am I?” What good are the answers to the other questions if we don’t even know who or what we are? Most of us are asleep. We’re zombies. We exist, but don’t live. We see, but don’t watch. We hear, but don’t listen. We speak empty words and eat without tasting. We rush on our way without feeling the wind on our face, the sun on our arms, and the grass beneath our feet. Why chase after life-after-death when we ignore life-before-death? Why do we pass through life unaware of the greatest treasure of all, our True Self?
The way we are
Many of us were raised by imperfect parents in an imperfect world. In our early years, we were exposed to criticism by others. Not knowing any better, we accepted the criticism of adults as the truth. Some of the thoughts that flowed through our minds may have included, “I am lazy. I am stupid. I am bad. I am worthless. I can’t do anything right.” First we were criticized; then we criticized ourselves. We identified with the negative thoughts. We gave them life. We believed the thoughts were us. Later, we started criticizing others, in the vain hope that by dragging them down we would be uplifting ourselves. Our own feelings of inadequacy led us to treat others unfairly. Naturally, our victims fought back by criticizing us, thereby perpetuating the problem.
The way we were meant to be
To discover your True Self, you need to understand the roles of Things, Thoughts, and the Thinker. Things stimulate our senses and cause thoughts to arise in our consciousness. After, licking an ice-cream cone, for example, my stimulated taste buds may cause me to think, “Wow, this tastes great!” Thoughts are powerful tools. They allow us to advance. Ice-cream tasters and other experts working for the ice-cream factory used the power of thought to develop new, delectable flavors. We are poised to explore space, build new super computers, and discover cures for deadly diseases all because of the power of thought.
I am not the thoughts that flood my mind, but I am the Thinker that uses the thoughts to create. That’s our legacy. That’s what we were meant to be. Unfortunately, many are still trapped in their thoughts. They don’t realize they are the Thinker and not the thoughts. They allow their thoughts to control them instead of them controlling their thoughts. This is a recipe for disaster because our thoughts are created by things and events that we have no control of. Therefore, if we allow ourselves to drift in the tide of our thoughts, we will have no control over our destination. We must reclaim our True Self, The Thinker, and analyze our thoughts as they appear. We must be critical thinkers, tossing aside every useless or negative thought while using every positive thought to bring us nearer to our full potential.
The way out
How do we crawl out of the quicksand of our thoughts and assume our rightful role as The Thinker, our True Self? A good way to begin is with a simple meditation technique. Choose a comfortable room where you won’t be disturbed. Wear loose-fitting clothes. Sit straight, yet comfortably. Close your eyes to remove distractions. Breathe slowly and deeply. Relax. Allow your thoughts to flow freely. Don’t try to control them; merely observe them.
Another name for your True Self is The Witness. Assume the role of The Witness by witnessing your thoughts. Do not analyze them. Above all, don’t be judgmental. Merely observe and accept. If a negative thought arises, don’t say to yourself, “I’m too negative. I need to change.” Just observe; don’t judge. But if you do start criticizing yourself, that’s okay, too. Witness your self-criticism. Step back and observe, just like you’re watching someone else. In fact, that’s what you are doing. You are observing someone else because the thoughts are not you. The thoughts come and go. They fade away and change. But your True Self is changeless.
Although the technique is simple, it is not simple to do. You are so entrenched in your thoughts that you will find it almost impossible to step back and remove yourself from them. But that’s okay. That’s to be expected. Practice this technique for five to ten minutes at first, gradually increasing it to twenty minutes. Over time, you will be able to witness your thoughts. At first, just for a fleeting moment. But as time passes, you will be able to witness your thoughts for longer and longer periods of time.
The technique may be simple, but the rewards are great:
1. Once you learn how to witness your thoughts, you realize that you are not your thoughts, but you are The Witness. This realization is a small, first step in discovering your True Self. But compared with where you were before, it is a giant step forward.
2. By learning how to accept your thoughts without self-criticism, you learn how to accept yourself. You will be more at peace with yourself. Importantly, when you stop criticizing yourself, you will stop criticizing others, which means that you will make this world more peaceful.
3. By learning how to witness your thoughts, you are releasing their power over you. You are now prepared to reverse roles. That is, you are ready to start controlling your thoughts, instead of vice versa. Start witnessing your thoughts throughout the day. As you travel to work, as you wait in line, as you take part in a meeting. Observe, analyze, and manage your thoughts. Weed out the trash and nourish every thought that has potential.
Do you want to meet a wonderful person? Try getting acquainted with yourself! The meditation technique I described is small, and simple while difficult, but as Lao-Tzu wrote, “All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small.”