Recently, my tortoise, Zen, saw himself in front of a mirror for the first time, and his reaction was priceless!
He didn’t know that what he saw was actually his reflection so he was trying to bite his own reflection on the mirror.
Zen trying to attack himself due to his inability to distinguish his own reflection is known as “avidya” in yogic philosophy. This concept is one of the Kleshas, afflictions or poisons that create a state of mental discontent.
Avidya (ignorance, lack of awareness, misperception) is when our perceptions obscure our ability to see things as they are and its roots allows the sprouting of all other human afflictions.
When avidya has taken over, we don’t actually see reality, we see only the shadows that it casts and those shadows are our perceptions, definitions, concepts and our ideas of the world.
Let say that I’m standing in front of a house, from my perspective, I see that the house has three windows, a white big door, a nice garden with a big apple tree. And then my friend who has always ever seen the back of the house tells me that the house has got a green gate, two large windows and a green door.
For some reason I have never seen the back part of the house, and she’s never seen the front of it.
So, If we are talking about the exact same house, why do we see it so differently? Is one of us lying? Is one of us telling the truth?
We are both seeing the same house from very different perspectives, from opposing angles. What we see depends from where we are looking.
The problem with this is that, all of us can only see reality from a specific angle at a time, and when we believe our angle is the right one or the only existing one, we end up just like Zen, in a fight he can never win, because it’s a fight against himself.
The greatest service we can do to humanity and ourselves is to become conscious of our mental chatter, of our constant companion; the voice in our heads that is constantly commenting, analysing, planning, trying to figure things out, creating expectations, the voice that is creating an imaginary reality instead of directly experiencing what is happening each moment.
If you are aware of the content of your mind, you have likely realised how unnecessary and even harmful some of your thoughts are. The thoughts that we take ourselves to be can be quite judgemental, needy, unsatisfied, and belittling. The voice in the heads, if not recognised, can lead people to severe depression and to choices that not only affect themselves but others.
In the last 6 months, two of my cousin’s best friends took their lives, both of them were in their twenties. The pain is so deep and the voice so loud that can make someone feel like they cannot live with oneself any longer...
When we understand our mind, we are no longer at its mercy .
However, when we don’t understand, when we are unaware of this incessant chatter, we become lost in the midst of it, we become prisoners of the noise.
Being a prisoner of the relentless chatter means that when the mind says “I’m not good enough, things will never get better, I’m terrible, I’m too thin/big, everyone hates me, life sucks, nobody loves me, I am all alone, I don’t deserve this, etc” there’s something in you that not only believes those words but also identifies with them, instead of watching all the mental content impartially as we would observe any natural phenomena, but from a different perspective.
In order to be free, one can gradually detach oneself from the role of the “main character” with the tendency to attacks him/herSelf and instead become the witness of the words.
The witness is free, the main character is not.
The witness is impartial and less affected by whatever goes on, the main character suffers due to the debilitating struggle that it is to believe all the mind say.
Gautama Buddha lived some time between the 5th & 4th century, and he said “Never have anything to do with likes and dislikes. The absence of what one likes is painful, as is the presence of what one dislikes. Therefore don't take a liking to anything. To lose what one likes is hard, but there are no bonds for those who have no likes and dislikes. From preference arises sorrow, from preference arises fear, but he who is freed from preference has no sorrow and certainly no fear.” And even though he lived in a complete different century, he left some wisdom that is still applicable to our times.
During the last year, we have collectively, in one way or another experienced change, and when we deeply experience the nature of change, the impermanence of all things living, we can, if we want, use change as a tool to evolve and grow and stop wasting our energy trying to fight/reject or avoid it.
Change can be used as a tool instead of an anchor.
Nothing we want can ever give us lasting satisfaction because everything is in flux and nothing stays the same for long.
It is our constant identification with the mind and body, along with all our many “wants,” that lead to a sense of dissatisfaction because even when we get what we want, deep down we know that eventually, it will change.
The Katha Upanishad tells us
"When the five senses are stilled, when the mind is stilled, when the intellect is stilled, That is called the highest state by the wise.
They say yoga is this complete stillness in which one enters the unitive state,
Never to become separate again.
If one is not established in this state, the sense of unity will come and go.
The unitive state cannot be attained
Through words or thoughts or through the eye...
There are two selves, the separate ego
And the invisible Atman.
When one rises above I, Me and Mine,
The Atman is revealed as one's real Self.
When all desires that surge in the heart are renounced, the mortal becomes immortal. When all knots that strangle the heart are loosened, the mortal becomes immortal."
Knowing change to be the only permanent thing in life, and that both our thoughts and bodies are always changing, may we stop the struggle against what is and free ourselves from labels we have given to ourselves and/or others. May we be kinder to ourselves in moments where our thoughts take over and make us lose hope, peace or acceptance. May we rise above our thoughts and take the spectator seat in the vehicle of our highest consciousness
Blessed you BE dear One