I am not this body, I am not even the mind

This short, yet meaningful phrase, originates from a lecture by Jaggi Vasudev, commonly known as Sadhguru. I loved it the first time I heard it and I keep returning to it every time the pain hits me so hard I can barely breathe. Sadhguru basically claims that suffering ends where body, mind, and soul part. In other words, in order to step away from suffering and tap into peace, we must first realize that we are not that body we currently occupy, nor the mind that we let take charge from time to time. We are not even that emotion, nor we are that feeling tearing us apart right now. Allegedly, we are much more than that. But what does that mean exactly?

Sometimes we get so overwhelmed by our emotions that we can’t even think straight, let alone acting reasonably or doing the right thing. Sometimes it happens so that we want a thing so badly that we don’t even care about the means to get it. We are ready to go all the way, do anything, go anywhere, just to make it real. Sometimes, however, it doesn’t happen that way. Thing is, the more we try, the more it’s slipping through our fingers. That’s where frustration comes in. And we get so lost in emotion, that nothing else really matters. Indeed, most often than not emotions are the ruthless masters of our beings. What we fail to understand in times of crisis, though, is that we are not these emotions, we are not these feelings, we are not the beings we believe we are and what we need, in fact, is just back off and see the big picture.

But if we’re not the body or the mind, what are we then? A soul? A spirit? Just one of the many children of the Creator? And if emotions don’t matter, what does? Is this why we came back here? To eventually overcome ourselves and defeat our ego? At the end of the day, the ego is our worse companion. It is the most difficult to master. That inner battle is the most difficult to win. That conflict of choosing right from wrong, always demanding your strength and putting your genuine human nature to the test. But here comes the catch. Assuming we originate from the Creator and realizing we are capable of doing virtually anything, what would keep us from abusing that power? And having witnessed our divine capacity, could we stop without negatively affecting another human being? Perhaps. Ultimately, it all comes down to some inner sense of justice and justice is indeed required, as that Divine Spark inside makes us both arrogant and covetous.

And yet, the whole point is to find a way to master our own emotions and avoid becoming slaves. Easier said than done, I know. But sometimes we have no other choice, but accept things the way they are. And what’s more, accept that they are just the way they need to be. Mind likes to calculate, plan, act and compare ex post facto. Just like a computer, you can push a button and get an expected result. It may evolve and learn to some extent, but rather prefers lying on the familiar basis. It uses the programming language of your past experiences and acts accordingly. One day you touch a hot stove, burning your hand. Afterwards, every single stove you see causes the red lamp in your mind to start blinking, leading to the conclusion that every stove burns. That’s how your mind works. But what if there’s no power, what if it’s cold, what if you don’t touch it at all? It doesn’t matter. Your mind says: “Once a burn, always a burn.” But such a subjective statement makes one doubt the mind. Your mind, my dear, is not credible. This is not the all-knowing source of wisdom you thought it was. No. Not always, not by all means.

But how could you stand back and detach from that ever-calculating ever-plotting mind? How could you evolve enough to know you are not these feelings taking you by storm? It takes a bit of effort, I admit. It takes a while to take control and start making your own decisions without relying on advisors. And it takes a bit of an insight to realize we’re only living the illusion. Our worries are not real worries. Our troubles don’t even exist. Deep inside, we constantly feel the urge to meet the basic needs of that body – the need for food, shelter, sex, etc. At the same time, the mind keeps nagging about this and that, keeps warning us, keeps telling us what we’re supposed to know, keeps making our lives difficult. Our bodies and minds are constantly trying to set the rules and lead the way and we finally surrender. We end up taking care of nothing but our basic human needs, totally neglecting that subtle inner voice, trying to remind us who we really are. Yes, it is hard. It’s hard to set the rules every minute and forget about the past. It’s hard to leave all previous experience behind and start anew. It’s hard to rely on your gut and not on your reasoning mind with all the “But’s” and “What if’s”.

But when you think about it, what do you really get from listening to your mind and being a prisoner of your emotions? The pattern is all you get. Your pattern. The pattern of your thinking, actions, and reactions. The pattern of the person you think you should be. The person you think you are. Fact is, you’re not that guy (even if you’re not really a guy). Think of yourself as an ocean. A deep blue ocean with all the waves and all the currents and all the storms happening on the surface. Now go ten meters down under. Now another ten. What do you see? How does it feel? Do you still feel the strength of the waves or the direction of the currents or the power of the storms? No. There is only peace. The peace of an ocean as wise as it is deep. And if you get that far in your inner journey, you’ll actually feel what Sadhguru implied by his “I am not the body, I am not even the mind”. No, you are not that body. Doesn’t matter if it’s tall, short, big, small, black, white, orange, you are not that body. You’ll have to satisfy its needs, of course, but ideally, your body shouldn’t be your master. Aim higher. And you’re not even that mind that keeps telling you what to think, how to think and why. You are much more than that. You are not only the light that leads the way, you are the way. You are not only looking for hope, you are hope. And you are not in pursuit of love, you are love. With no beginning and no end, you are infinite. And the faster you realize that, the shorter your life suffering will be.

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The other cheek

As already discussed in another of our articles, life is suffering. We all know that and we’ve all been hurt at some point. Maybe even now, while you’re reading this. More or less, we’ve all been lied to, deceived, and betrayed. We’ve been humiliated, oppressed, and chained. We’ve been misled, violated, and abused. We know suffering. Whether physical or mental, we know it in depth. If that’s not the case, you should know by now that you are a minority. A lucky minority. As for the unlucky majority… well, life is still suffering.

It seems that some wounds never heal. Sometimes we are broken so bad and so hard that we don’t even know if we’ll manage to stand up again. And yet, we do. That’s the whole point. Overcoming everything and everyone. People often hurt us and that’s for a fact, deliberately or not, just a bit or big time, but they do. Sometimes they torture, sometimes they play, sometimes they are just mean with no evident reason.  Or manipulate us to get what they want, making us feel weak, inept and empty. And some of them are so bad that they make us believe it’s all our fault because we’re no good, or not worthy enough, or we don’t deserve better. They sell us their lies and expect us to buy them. And we do, because they’re incessantly messing up with our heads, undermining the faith we have in ourselves. Insecure people are easier to manipulate, to influence upon, and of course, to affect.

Now, the Bible says: “Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I tell you not to resist an evil person. If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.” But should you really turn the other cheek and let people abuse you? Maybe, but I’m not that advanced. It must be a sign of real virtue to let people do you wrong as much and as long as they want to and still remain unaffected, knowing that they are not really able to hurt you or take your freedom away. It seems like the end of the rainbow, at least to me. I find myself very far from that biblical concept that you should let people hurt you in any manner whatsoever because this is deemed divine. It might be, it ought to be, but personally, I’m not there yet.

So, let’s say you’re not one of them saints and one fine day you say it’s enough. You tell yourself this was it, the very last drop and you can’t take it anymore, so you take your own path. But even if you break the chains and you wisely decide to shut off those people hurting you and abusing you, that chain is still there. It still rattles and you feel it tightening around your neck. The leash is still there. It’s inside of you, as are all the hits you’ve taken, physically or otherwise. You’re still wounded, you’re still hurt. Maybe you imagined that if you parted, it would all go away, but it doesn’t. The pain is still here. To haunt you and torture you like before, as if nothing changed. You could have stayed, but you didn’t. You broke free. So why aren’t you happy now? Where did you go wrong? Why doesn’t your life seem that wonderful as you thought it would be? Because you’re holding a grudge. Because instead of enjoying your beautiful present, you keep living in the past. You keep living the memory of your sad experience, day after day, with no hope of resurrection. You keep blaming the people who made you feel so miserable, who hurt you so much and tried to destroy you in their own vicious way. Out of the blue, all that you’ve been through hits you and you realize you haven’t made an inch further. So you start hating your abuser(s) from the bottom of your broken heart, you curse them and you hope they died. Quite understandable, at some point all that hatred turns back to you and eventually you start blaming yourself (if not already). Thinking that if you had made a different choice, a different decision, all this wouldn’t have happened. And the worst part is, that you didn’t do the right thing, you didn’t make that change happen, you did nothing to mend the situation. So you punish yourself for what you have or haven’t done and start living a life of guilt and regret. Towards yourself and all those people who have hurt you. But mainly yourself.

Truth is and perhaps you’ve heard it before, nothing changes if nothing changes. That is, nothing will ever change until you found the strength inside to forgive and let go. People make right choices, but also wrong ones. People make good decisions, but also bad ones. More often than you could imagine. But you can’t blame yourself or them forever. What I’ve learned from experience, is that if you want out of the mud, you must make peace with yourself. First, forgive yourself for making the wrong choices. Don’t even call them mistakes. Theoretically, there’s no such thing as mistake, there’s good experience and bad experience, so consider that a bad one and make the choice to have only good experiences from now on. And no matter how hard it may seem to you, forgive others for making their wrong choices too. I know, I know, when abused for a long time one way or the other, it’s not an easy one to smile, reconcile and let go like that. But you should. If you want to get anywhere, you should. There’s a very useful means to practice forgiveness, it’s called metta, or loving-kindness meditation and it basically teaches kindness, towards yourself and towards others. But not only people-you-like kindness, kind to people you dislike or even hate as well. I’ll take a closer look on metta in one of the next articles, for it’s definitely worth giving a try and it helps a lot.

To summarize, there would be no good if there were no evil. There would be no light without the darkness and you would have not been the person you are today without all of your experiences, good and bad. So give gratitude for them all. For they all taught you something, they all made you strong. And don’t forget to give credit to yourself for who you are today and where you stand. If you think you’re reading this by chance, you’d better think twice. You’re here for a reason and you’re right where you’re supposed to be. Remember, your future is just a matter of choice. Your choice.