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I am NOT my story PDF Print E-mail

by James Swartz

The situation is a bit more complicated because even though the self did not actually come from anywhere, one of the first details to emerge in conversation is where it came from. Even though it is unborn it speaks of a mother and a father. Even though is free of everything it seems to think that it is tied to a place, a dwelling, a spouse and offspring. Even though it is not a doer because there is nothing other than it, it tells you that it does a certain job. Though nothing ever happened to it, it can regale you ad infinitum, usually ad nauseam, about all the things that happened: “my mother did this; my father did that; and then I ....” It has a story to tell. And that story is somehow meant to add up to the consciousness that is in front of you wagging its apparent tongue. The story is meant to be ‘me.’ But is there an equal sign between me and my story? If you added up all the things that happened to ‘you’ over time...and what you thought about them...would they all equal you? If all those words about you referred to something real, their referents would be available for experience here and now. Reality...awareness, meaning you...is always present. But none of these things are present apart from the words that supposedly represent them. They are not glued to your body for people to touch. They do not hover around you like a cloud of mosquitoes for observation. They are simply words coming out of you that disappear immediately into thin air.

I Am Ordinary Awareness

To extract an identity from a series of happenings, real and imagined, does not work. My story, my idea of who I am, is not me. If you want to know who you are, subtract your story. What is left over is you, one simple awareness...conscious being. There are not two of you, three of you or ten of you. There is only one ever-present ordinary awareness. We are at another important point in the teaching because everything we have read and heard, particularly the shallow testimonials of the plethora of so-called enlightened beings that flood the spiritual marketplace with their books, videos and websites, have convinced us that what we are seeking is some kind of mind blowing amazing life transforming experience...something that is supposed to turn us into enlightened super beings and give us lives that we can only dream of. Without the hyperbolic spiritual porn that passes for knowledge these days, the gargantuan spiritual world shrinks to the size of a small pea and the modern gurus would have to hang up their hats and get day jobs. The idea that self realization is something special...it is, but not in the way you think it is...is the greatest imaginable impediment to enlightenment. The persistence of this myth is due solely to the fact that the egos of those seeking it are so bored, lonely, and generally disenchanted with life, that they will only chase something they think is: Incredible! Fantastic! Unbelievable! So the fantasy of the extraordinary self...the TRANSCENDENTAL self, the COSMIC self, etc. survives, nay thrives, from age to age. If you hang on to the notion that you are going to experience something special and proceed with this inquiry you will be very disappointed because...sad to say...the self that you are, the self that you aregoing to realize...is totally ordinary. It is the awareness that is observing your mind take in these words, nothing more. It is not inaccessible at all. It is hidden in plain sight. It is always present and greatly unappreciated for no other reason than lack of understanding. In this pure simple unchanging awareness that we are thoughts, feelings, memories, dreams, perceptions, beliefs, and opinions arise and dissolve like mist in the early morning. Although awareness and consciousness are synonyms I tend to use word awareness because we almost invariably take consciousness to be the mind i.e. the events that arise and subside in consciousness. Owing to its association with the mind, consciousness, which is often referred to as a ‘stream’ or a flow of subjective experiences, is not as helpful a word as awareness, although in usage awareness often also refers to the mind.

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