Dealing with Excess Baggage

A human life is a series of experiences.

When we have little awareness of our predicament, experiences feed our attachments and condition our desire for more experiences. Our perspective changes when we begin to sense, even momentarily, the unity of all things and our identity with the Self.

We start to see each experience as a teaching to be brought into awareness and loved until we are free from being captivated by the experience. As we begin to awaken, experiences lead to reflection and contemplation. Then as we become more aware, experiences become a fire of purification, a burning ground of the ego, grist for the mill of developing consciousness, food enabling the emerging soul to break free of its bonds.

What is the nature of the mind stuff that keeps us in our egos?

Ego attachments may be habits of thought, the residue of experiences, desires we’ve developed and reinforced or that have been implanted, even unconscious urges and tendencies.

Attachments conspire to create this stuck-together bundle of changing thought forms and feelings we label a self, our ego.

This sanguine idea of self is just that, an idea, a description of how we’re doing at the moment, self-inflated or disappointed, a conglomeration of thoughts, feelings, and concepts that changes all the time. One morning I wake up thinking about enlightenment. The next morning I wake up thinking about world politics and environmental disasters. The next day I’m anxious about getting this book done. These temporal experiences that form our ego are like flickering images of a passing show. Each one seems real at the time, but they keep changing.

One of the first steps in getting free of the attachment to this ego idea is to develop a witness.

We have thousands and thousands of me’s, but there is one me that is separate and watches all the other me’s. It’s on a different level of consciousness. It’s not just another role; it’s part of the heart-mind.

The witness is your leverage in the game. The witness me isn’t trying to change any of the other me’s. It’s not an evaluator or a judge; it’s not the superego. It doesn’t care about anything. It just observes. “Hmmm, there she or he is doing that again.” That witness place inside you is your centering device, your rudder.

The witness is part of your soul. It’s witnessing your incarnation, this lifetime, from the heart-mind. It’s the beginning of discrimination between your soul and your ego, your real Self and your self in the incarnation. Once you begin to live in this witness place, you begin to shift your identification from the roles and thought forms. As you witness yourself, the process becomes more like watching a movie than being the central character in one.


-Ram Dass, Be Love Now


Photo via Flickr

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