When we stop paying attention to our thoughts, the cause of all suffering, and shift our focus to the spiritual awareness of truth or what is happening right now, our false self will disappear, and we will find ourselves in the naturalness and beauty of our true self; its joy, peace, and loving energy. Our false self is our thoughts. Our true self is our spirit. Since our thoughts, and the emotions they generate, are much “Louder” and more noticeable than the subtle presence of spirit; we tend to pay more attention to them, make them more important, and even mistake them for who we are.
Recognizing Our False Self
Our mind is a tool, like a computer, and is intended to help us process information, make decisions, and communicate. We are supposed to turn it off, like our notebook or iPad, when our work is done. It is no more intended to represent our identity, or influence our beliefs or decisions, than our Lattitude or MacBook is. But our mind has a “mind” of its own. This is the egoic mind. It operates independently from our direction or input when we give it attention. Our attention is its fuel. And boy does it know how to grab it! This is a part of our mind that pretends to be useful, but is actually harmful, and is only focused on strengthening and preserving itself, at our expense. It is that part of our mind that dialogues with us as we go through our day. It is the voice in our head. Imagine if we were writing a letter, working on a spreadsheet, entering information in a database, or recording with ProTools; and our computer was continuously talking to us about what we should do, what we should not do, what others will think about what we do, how something will make us look, how smart we are, how stupid we are, etc. And imagine that the computer was doing this so intensely and persistently that we began believing it, and even became entranced by it; because it was “louder” than everything else (like everything else faded into the background, or was buried under it and we were conditioned by its persistent, repetitive messages).
When we give it our attention, it programs us, from the background or the foreground, to believe what it suggests. It frequently succeeds in doing this because of constant repetition, intensity, and the strong emotions it can generate. We often confuse this voice with our own thoughts, or our own voice; and speak them as if they are are own. The key to recognizing them is to see that they are not thoughts we are intentionally generating, and they are not energy and information we are receiving through our link to universal consciousness; they are thoughts that are occurring on their own within our mind. They pop up spontaneously in response to our intentional thoughts, or life circumstances, and dramatically insert themselves into our conscious awareness. They could include things like “I can’t wait until next week …,” “I love doing …,” or “I wonder what will happen when I …;” all related to things that will either strengthen or weaken it (things that will give it the attention it is seeking). It could sound like a partner, friend, or parent, saying things like “Don’t forget to eat your vegetables,” “Make sure you don’t let a man control you,” “You need to try harder,” or “Wouldn’t it be cool to do that?” It can also be cruel or mean, saying things like “You can’t do anything right,” “You are a miserable failure, so you should just quit trying,” or “He is out of your reach. You are not worthy of him.” We often believe this voice, without questioning it, because we are programmed to believe our own thoughts; whether they are true and useful or not.
So we need to learn how to identify this false self, in order to free ourselves from its distracting and harmful grip. If we are not intentionally directing our mind to focus on something, decide something, or communicate something; and if thoughts are just popping up; then this is not us. This is the egoic mind. This is our false self. This is the voice in our head that has nothing to do with who we are. Again, the key is to determine whether or not these thoughts are things that we intentionally focused on and generated, or if they are occurring on their own in our mind.
If we do not recognize them for what they are, then not only do we believe them to be true, but we also believe they are our own thoughts. We identify with them, and believe they accurately reflect who we really are. They prevent us from accessing the truth of our spirit (our true self), keep us from finding real love, joy, and fulfillment; cause us to experience suffering (e.g. confusion, conflict, stress); and prevent us from growing and developing (while convincing us that we are). We don’t usually question our own thoughts, although we readily question the thoughts of others. It is our own that we need to become more aware of. We need to learn to easily recognize our false self, the egoic mind, when it tries to insert itself, and make sure we don’t give it our attention. Without our attention, it will disappear. This voice in our head is not a very good guide to life, and, rather than following it blindly; we would benefit greatly from recognizing it, removing it, and replacing it with the truth and clarity of spirit, our true self.
Our True Self
The reason we want to move out of the egoic mind (false self) and into the truth of spirit (true self) is so we can be who we really are. To experience our true self, we must remove all of the conditioned beliefs, images, and thoughts about who and what we are; and allow the presence of spirit, through our link with universal consciousness and what is happening right now; to reveal this truth to us (our true self). The egoic mind doesn’t want us to stop paying attention to it, so it continuously tries to engage our mind. It does this because this is how it survives. Without our attention it will disappear. When it disappears, all that is left is our true self experiencing the awareness of spirit in this moment (free from the voice in our head, and all of its distractions, judgements, negative emotions, and destructive influences).
Removing Our False Self
Because the false self has a mesmerizing effect on our mind, since we are programmed to pay attention to, accept, and believe it without question; to remove it we must not only see the truth about it, but develop a daily practice to help us remain mindful of this truth; until we have gained enough distance to experience freedom from it, while basking in the joy, fulfillment, and loving energy of our true self. Practices of mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and journaling; along with coaching or spiritual teaching; could help us attain this life changing goal.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want something else making my decisions for me about life, love, relationship partners, careers, or anything else. I want this to come from the truth of spirit, my true self.
Photo credit: Andrew Malone