Encased in Our Personal Histories
We have to keep challenging this ‘I’m a separate entity’ paradigm by which we tend to operate. If you were asked, ‘Where are you really?’, most of you would probably experience yourselves as living somewhere behind your eyes. This is the ‘me’ bit, somewhere up in the head, with all the rest underneath it. In other words, I don’t regard my head as being on top of me; I regard my feet as being underneath me.
The separated being, the trapped or caged person, is the model that we recognize in these finite physical forms. We have all probably experienced ourselves as encased in our personal history, our psychology, all those things that make us seem separate from everybody else. If you follow that trajectory, that line of experience – which is more and more isolating – it takes you to self-obsession, loneliness or grandiosity: ‘I’m the centre of the universe,’ ‘I’m the worst person here,’ ‘I need to be in control of everything,’ ‘I’m the person who lives behind my eyes, with a lot of buttons and levers in front of me making things happen.’ You probably don’t consciously think like that, but our energies and assumptions operate very much in that way.
Now, not only is this quite unpleasant, but it also gives rise to all kinds of unwholesome comparisons with others, as well as to selfishness, hostility, loneliness and separation from others. It’s a painful experience and it’s also inaccurate. You can’t really separate your mind from all the ‘language’ that you’ve learned, which has come out of the field of human activity, the psychologies, the culture, your education, your upbringing, the things you inherit from your parents and your siblings – all the things that have affected you in your life.
There’s no line dividing you from all that experience. It’s almost like a vortex in a stream: it looks separate and organizes itself in a separate way. You can’t really draw a line in your mind between what you call ‘me’ and what you call ‘other people’. How would that line be drawn? What is so ‘me’ about my mind? When you hold the view of ‘my mind’, is there anything blossoming and releasing from that? Clearly, there isn’t. But there definitely are views, attitudes, nervousness, pride, fear and anxiety. You didn’t create ‘your mind’ and you can’t consider it as being a separate thing. It’s all these forces and energies that generate every experience you’re having.
This reflection by Ajahn Sucitto is from the book, The Most Precious Gift, (pdf) pp.266-267.