Q: I am cruising along feeling good. Everything is going my way. My mind is clear, body energized. I feel as though I could explain the creation of the Universe in very simple terms while climbing steadily up a steep mountain. And then, without warning, darkness descends. A denseness accompanied by doubts, fears, anxieties, and insecurities. I am living in a waking nightmare. Psychotic, I think to myself, as I see the people around me, especially loved ones, shrink from my presence, or at least keep their distance. They are getting the vibes: Dark cloud, dark cloud, dark cloud. Lost in strong emotions, unexplainable, overwhelming feelings that can’t be controlled, that are so real that they feel as though I will be consumed, burst into flames and go up in smoke at any moment. After years of seeking, of thinking I’d ‘found the truth,’ now all seems lost and I want to cry. Any insights you can give me would be so appreciated. I feel so desperate.
A: The illusionary separate self loves melodrama and will jump on its soapbox at any opportunity – prompted by taking the feelings and the me that is experiencing the feelings as real. The quickest way to get back on track, to return to your original nature, which you’ve never left in the first place, is to simply ask yourself, who is it that is having these strong feelings? Can this entity, this suffering ‘me,’ be located? When it becomes obvious that a ‘me’ cannot be found – that it is only an illusionary self created by ephemeral thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions – the strong feelings lose their power and eventually dissolve back into the awareness from which they appeared.
The metaphor of the sky might be helpful: no matter what occurs in the sky – rain, snow, thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, etc. – the sky remains unaffected. Or the space in a room: it doesn’t care one bit what takes place in it, be it a dance party or a violent riot, it remains unchanged. You, the one who knows darkness, suffering, anxiety, anger, fear, are unaffected by whatever appearances arise within you, from you, and, as you look more closely, are clearly made of you.
You, the one who knows all appearances, all objects of the mind, body, and world, are unaffected, unchanged, unaltered, by these appearances, no matter how compelling or terrifying they might be. But you, the knower, must not stop there. You sense that something also knows you, and before you are the knower, you are that, the one that knows the knower. And that one cannot be found, cannot be described, yet it is everywhere and everything. To tell you to ‘be that’ would be redundant.
Q: I am that.
A: Precisely. You don’t have to go any further.