Our True Nature
What We are NOT
The so-called spiritual search of finding out 'who we truly are' consists of two parts
The Dalai Lama was at a meeting with Westerners when he was about 16 or 17 years old. At the meeting a speaker spoke of having a 'self image'. The Dalai Lama had never heard of this before and asked the speaker about it and, still puzzled, asked many of the attendees if 'they have a self image too', to which they replies 'yes". He found this very strange, as in his upbringing this concept did not exist.
This 'self image' is often referred to as the Ego or as the 'Reference Point' and is a mental construct - a collection of thoughts concerning who a person is.
It is composed of thoughts about themselves, things others have said about them and their personal 'story'. It would also include guesses, assumptions, conclusions and decisions about what they are like based on or not based on their experiences in life.
It is about the 'me', the person, and soon becomes the reference point as to their nature. This is what I am! This is the 'me'.
A person can have a series of thoughts about someone else - "They are a no-hoper", "They are a dead loss", " A born loser", "They cannot be successful at anything" etc. Having these thoughts about someone else does not cause you to suffer, but it is very different when those thoughts are about YOU.
It is not the descriptive content of thoughts that causes the suffering - it is when the thoughts are pointed at the 'me' that the suffering really starts. It is the 'me' component that causes the suffering. The 'me' that those thoughts refer to is the 'me' in the self image.
That collection of thoughts in the self image / reference point is NOT who they are at all. It is a collection of thoughts based on the past.
The actuality of who they are is their Aliveness / Awareness in the immediacy of the present moment. The Actual is the one that exists - that is what the word 'Actual' means - it exists. That is who they truly are, and it is alive and aware.
The self image, the collection of thoughts, is just a mental construct - an abstraction that does not exist anywhere except in the content of thought. That is the non-actual one - meaning that is the one that does not actually exist.
However, just because it does not exist in actuality, it does not mean that we cannot 'believe' in that image and use it as a Reference Point. All we have to do is believe that it exists, is valid and it has substance. Never mind that it contains dead information from the past. It is not alive and aware at all.
Then we suffer. We do Suffering. BigTime!!
But it is based on the erroneous belief in the 'me' - the image of the self. The reliance on the self image, the 'me', the reference point is enhanced all through the day by thoughts of "my", "mine", "I thought", "I won", "I lost", "what about me'', "look what I did", "I should not have done that" etc, etc .
Functionally we believe in the 'me'. We use it all the time. Functionally it is solid, substantial, valid.
So this is what is meant by 'finding out what we are Not'. We are not that!
Bob Adamson uses the following example - suppose you ask someone to get a bucket of blue water from the ocean. The person would laugh, because they know that the water in the sea is not blue even though it looks that way. They are not fooled, even for a second.
The person knows that the water in the sea is not blue because they have SEEN that. You only have to go into the water to SEE that it is not blue. When it is SEEN the illusion is not believed in the slightest.
How do you see through an illusion? By SEEING through it.
SEE through the illusion of the 'me' and the cause of the suffering - the 'me' component - is removed. When the cause is removed, the effect falls away of itself. The suffering falls away.
We have spent a whole lifetime 'believing' in the existence of the 'me' - dozens of times a day - every day for years and years. Every time we have a thought with a 'me' in it , or a 'mine', or a 'my', or an 'I', or any of a thousand variations on that theme. But it is pointing to a mental image, a construct and not our true nature. A case of mistaken identity.
Seeing through that is an interesting exercise.
And it takes some diligence and earnestness to do that.
But it is the end of suffering and the end of seeking.
Written by Mike Graham, 19 Jan 2008, last edited 29 Apr 2008
Ramana Maharshi as summarized by David Godman in 'Be As You Are'