To be free of the delusion of self is an amazing experience – the ultimate “state change.” You would become what the Buddha called emptiness or what Jesus referred to as the fullness of life. Nothing bothers you anymore. And you’d be perfectly comfortable with the fact that in the next 50 years or so, you and everyone else you know, will have moved on. What a relief! Let it all go!! Drop the burden of ego-self now.
The spiritual teacher Sadhguru has a helpful analogy for letting go of thoughts. He talks of being happy and carefree, high up in the sky in a hot air balloon, witnessing heavily congested traffic way down below. Being caught in heavy traffic is a metaphor for your stream of painful thoughts, while observing from the hot air balloon is a metaphor for your awareness as detached witness. The air balloon perspective is freeing.
Would you sooner be the witness or the thoughts? You might say, sure I would rather be the witness, but I am stuck in horrible traffic! Well, just have faith that every experience is the right experience, even if you resolve either to (a) not get into the situation again or (b) that you are prepared to accept such situations, and establish coping mechanisms. Don’t attach too much weight to the possible consequences and accept the present moment without resistance. Perhaps ask yourself, will it be important one week from now? Use the time productively in your inner world, if not the outer world. Don’t let anything steal your joy. There must be something that you can be grateful for and look forward to.
Another helpful analogy for letting go of thoughts is to picture someone walking their dog in beautiful gardens – the dog is just wagging its tail happily while observing the beautiful gardens; the human is caught up in worrying about this and that! The dog is experiencing reality while the human is experiencing delusion! If there’s something on your mind while engaged in an unrelated activity, why not schedule it as a task for attention later along with a time estimate? Then you can give your full attention to your current activity. It might help to carry a small notebook and pen around with you – list and forget.
Note that being a witness (to thoughts and emotions, etc.), is not a trick that you play on yourself to detach from unpleasantness. You are no more your thoughts than the chair that you are sitting on. You are simply the awareness of phenomena, as you have been throughout your life. Yes, you experience thoughts and emotions; they may well be related to your life situation, and they may be a cue for action, but they are not you. The point is that you can learn to have more spaciousness and beauty in your life rather than getting stuck. Realize fully that you have a choice in this – and take it!
Let freedom from the delusion of self, give you the courage to live out your values and live for whatever you believe in. Consider stopping any pursuits unless they fully support your essential needs, values and mission.
Seen from the human (as opposed to “Being”) perspective, some short-term pain may be a worthwhile sacrifice for significant longer-term gain. Indeed, quoting Muhammad Ali, the iconic past heavyweight boxer:
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit.’ Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
While, in general, some self-sacrifice is usually beneficial, one also needs to know when to stop trying. This can be difficult if fixated solely on an external mission in life. So, this is where two questions can be helpful in improving the quality of one’s life. Firstly, what can you change in your inner environment? (Such as becoming calm, relaxed, alert and present – and replacing bad habits (thoughts or behaviors) with good ones). Secondly, what can you change in your outer environment? (Such as reviewing and revising past choices concerning people, places and pursuits – to align with your authentic desires).
Source: Peak Performance!! Awaken & Achieve available on Amazon
In Part 3 of this series we will investigate the question “Should I Kill My Ego?”