A few months ago, a spontaneous recollection of a childhood memory that was painful took me to a core belief that had come up for me in those days – “I am insane“. Surprisingly, the moment I saw this belief come up, it had the same outcome as it had a decade ago when it first showed up – depression. For a week, I spiraled into more depressive thoughts, one after the next. Not knowing what else to do, I just turned to the Osho commune. I would dance during the evening sessions and that would make me feel slightly better. And yet through the dancing, I was very aware of watching myself believe this thought that I am insane. What shifted me out was even more bizarre. When a friend spontaneously messaged me that he wondered if his presence was of any help to me in that state, it gave me a shock. I thought I was going to lose him if I don’t stop believing this thought. And from there, the state of mind just shifted.
The lesson though was that it made me aware acutely of the drama our thoughts can play. I woke up to the fact that I spent all these years beating myself up because I believed the thought that had come up around that time in my childhood, that I don’t love my mother. I realized I might have spent a whole life acting out from self-hatred that stemmed from just this single thought.
Lately I have been studying a lot of teachers who talk about awakening and non-duality. When I was reading through some of their awakening experiences, I was struck by a common set of realizations. A sense of being alone. A sense that you are nothing as well as a sense that you are everything. A sense of not having any identity at all.
It struck me how the same thought can be perceived both ways.
Some of the thoughts that repeatedly run through my mind are:
1. There is no one here / I am alone.
2. There is no such thing as unconditional love.
3. I am insane.
4. I should be happy/grateful/joyous.
At this point, I cannot help but see how liberating each of these is.
For example, when I fully accept that yes, I am alone, it suddenly feels like I am free of authority, approvals, the need to please or having to face judgment.
When I fully allow the freedom from the “should” that I should love unconditionally, it sets me free to love in any way. It leaves me free of trying to love. It restores my identity as a loving person any ways rather than negating, judging or needing my acts of love to be any other way than what they are.
And yes, when I truly recognize that whatever is giving me the thought that I am insane is a mind used to thinking any random thing at any given moment, it actually doesn’t even feel that personal.
When I let go of the compulsion to be happy, joyous and even grateful for that matter, who am I? And asking that simply makes me aware of the fleeting nature of any of these feelings.
Incidentally, Byron Katie writes that “there is nothing that isn’t true if you believe it; and nothing is true, believe it or not“.
While doing the Work with any belief that has a charge on it these days, it is increasingly becoming easy to see that our worst ‘darkness’ is just a thought that we have believed about ourselves. And that our light comes from seeing this thought for what it is – as just a thought. One either believes a thought, or questions it, as Katie says. And I ask myself again and again (and as often as possible) these days, who am I without any of these thoughts?