“I think, therefore I am.” You’ve heard this before, it’s a hallmark of our hubris. But take a moment, sit comfortably, take a few deep breaths, and focus your attention so that it becomes very aware, and very attentive. Observe your mind, and see the thoughts arise and float away without being pulled in. As a thought begins to pass, suddenly ask, “where will my next thought come from?”
Did you notice a little pause? Was the mind momentarily paralyzed? Very quickly logic kicks back in and thoughts generate again, but did you notice The Gap? You can surprise the mind with more piercing questions, like, “what color are my thoughts?” or notice how mental energy is embodied by asking “what does this thought feel like?”
The Zen koan is a tool to paralyze the mind with illogic. Then one can notice the gap. The gap is often very brief, but continual practice and absolute awareness can broaden the thought-less gap longer. But here we come to the deeper question: during the gap of no-thought, where are you? Did you disappear? No of course not, you are still there with sharp awareness witnessing no thoughts. So you can not be your thoughts. Ponder on this. You are not your thoughts.
Consider your childhood, your adolescence, your young adult life. Has your body changed? Have your preferences changes? Have your titles changes? Have your favorite possessions changed? But throughout all of these incredible changes, you remained. Something has remained true to itself, unchanging, and if you look genuinely, you recognize its constancy through all the years.
The perennial teaching is that we have confused ourselves to be our shell, the personality and outer character. But within, we are awareness and that is what we truly are. The mind fabricates the shell, and the ego protects the shell. Both of these are necessary to survive in the world, but if you are interested in more than just survival, then reside in the gap and realize your inner Self.
From outside time and space, you show up here in time, in a place. You see yourself and claim yourself, and decide this is who you are, and then fiercely protect that identity. If all of this disappeared, you would still be, just as you always have been.
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