Perhaps in spiritual circles you’ve heard that you are not this body, nor this mind. This is often quite difficult for people to grasp because they have habituated a lifetime of belief around precisely the opposite. As a result, even when glimpses of awakening occur, they are overridden by the habit of identity.
We can illustrate this with an example. Sometimes in meditation, especially if we can sit still for more than 40 minutes, there can be a loss of general body sensation. If we are a little beyond the mind level, and a question is posed, “what am I?” Then it can feel like the only certainty is the presence of awareness. When you come out of meditation, you return to the narrative self-identity.
It might be hard to believe, but these really are breakthroughs into awakening, albeit brief. Old habits die hard, and walking around in our daily lives, we are convinced about the normal person we are. How easily the meditative breakthrough is forgotten. This is habituated identity that overshadows our glimpses of awakening. That is why we need to nurture those glimpses and sink into them as often as possible.
Yet even as we endeavor to truly realize that we are not this body, nor this mind in an abiding way, that shouldn’t demean this body/mind complex. Consider the fantastic mechanism we have at our disposal, perfectly adapted for this particular form of existence. With familiarity comes taking everything for granted. This is unfortunate because consider the cosmic perspective. Across the potential dimensions of existence, the frequencies of energies, the infinite space-time scales, we are perfectly adapted to this specific planet. Our bodies can be tuned to such subtle levels of awareness that ordinarily we find amazing. Our minds are so acute that we can formulate unbelievable mechanisms. Right under your nose is the finest scientific instrument humanity has ever had at its disposal.
With that newfound perspective, isn’t it dumbfounding how we choose to utilize this marvel? First we lay claim to it as our very identity, rather than the underlying awareness, and then we squander its magnificent capabilities both psychologically and physically. We might not aspire to be elite athletes or peak martial artists, but there must be a better use than compulsive psychology and hedonism for this splendid instrument. Just waking up to this body’s potential is a form of awakening too… on our way to “I’m not this body, I’m not this mind.”
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