The major confusion of human life is that we imagine ourselves to be the subject of the stories the mind tells continuously. Those tales, fabricated from things seen and heard, may be wild and exciting or slow and dull, but either way we get lost, and then the stress begins.
Wait, ‘we get lost’? But didn’t you say that we aren’t the story character, that we are not the protagonists in those tales of the mind? Who is this we then?
If I’m going to be honest with you, and please don’t freak out, there is really no ‘we’, there is just awareness taking on many forms, appearing in many guises, no me, you or we. Awareness though, in my experience, doesn’t get lost, it simply watches. What gets lost in thinking is attention.
Picture a lighthouse, standing tall on a cliff. Awareness is like the lighthouse. Now picture the dark night with the light from the lighthouse being thrown here and there, travelling out across the ocean. Attention is like this light.
So awareness, the source of all this, stands unmoving. It’s light, attention, is directed towards the stream of thinking arising inside, and that attention loses itself there. It then appears as if the awareness believes itself to be lost in thought, but actually it never moved, it just directed all its attention to the mind show for a while and was caught up in the drama and excitement.
There is one more element that we need to understand, and that is the mind itself. Actually, mind doesn’t exist either, it is just a word we use to describe thoughts arising and disappearing in empty space. Watch a thought arise with your eyes closed. Where did it arise? What did it arise in? What did it disappear into? And what is the backdrop of your inner experience, always? Space. Emptiness.
There is no mind ‘in there’, any more than there is a sky ‘out there’, they are just words to describe a space we don’t understand. Close your eyes and you can sense this space. Open them and it is everywhere. Thoughts arise by themselves and disappear in the same manner. There is no mind that can be found creating them or destroying them, there is just awareness directing attention to them or not, and all those thoughts come out of the space and then drop back into it.
When you know that you don’t have a mind and that you are not the character in that life long mind story, the confusion becomes cleared very quickly. And as attention settles into first the body, then the space, and then the awareness itself, there is a sense of relaxation and calm that starts to rise from the background of experience, where it always was, to the front, the centre, and it becomes clear that all is well, and that there is nothing to be worried about.