The title of this post represents the epitome of human understanding of self, or the lack thereof... outside of the purpose of our existence. Here, I try to present what I have learnt about my own self that I believe is generic to everyone... including you. So are you ready to dive deep into yourself? If so, let's proceed.
A couple of months earlier, I came across a book. Unfortunately, I cannot recall the name or it's author but the gist of it was that you are separate from your thoughts. In short, your thoughts DO NOT come entirely from you! I was highly intrigued by this suggestion; for I've always known that our bodies are mere vessels of our mind, and our thoughts represent who we are at the core. Suddenly, I decided to dig deeper, to observe my own mind... and guess what? The book was right. But I do not expect you to understand it based on a paragraph or just take my word for it. I want you to KNOW it, to FEEL it... to see yourself as a different being from both your body and mind; for that, just do this simple experiment whenever you have a free moment. Just OBSERVE your thoughts.
I tried this experiment for the month following my "enlightenment". Soon, I came to understand that most of the thoughts that came forth were total useless sludge. Sometimes, a catchy tune got stuck in a loop. Other times, I got caught up in "what-if's" of past events... how I could've change the conversation if I had thought of this and that. And several other thoughts were mere fantasies of future and worries that might never materialize. So caught up in these unproductive thoughts our mind is, that we sometime identify ourselves with those thoughts. But this, my friend, is just sludge. I've come to realize that our brain is very powerful machine that must always keep on churning thoughts to keep itself sharp. But it becomes counterproductive when these thoughts are worth nothing. Try it, I can bet anything that if you just observe even for a day, you'll realize how much of these sludgy thoughts you really have.
It matters not why we have these thoughts, that is not the point of this post. What matters is - how is this relevant to your true self? The book I read was mum on that point, so the spend the rest of the next month thinking about who I actually am in this world. I never believed in a "Soul" or the spiritual aspects of it, but now I was thinking - what if our ancestors were actually correct? The reason I doubt most of the traditions is not because I believe that our forefathers were wrong, it is simply because the succeeding generations have taken out the core and replaced it with meaningless rituals that without the core are just social conventions. Anyhow, coming back to the soul, what if our ancestors were right? What if we really do have a soul? I was not going to just accept it without evidence (thus, avoiding the mistakes our predecessors did) and I went deeper into my own mind... and what do you know? I found myself!
Let me explain what I found. Our mind, I sense it is made up of several layers. These are called as conscious, subconscious and unconscious layers. Our body and mind are deeply intertwined with each other but thoughts are a product of these 3 layers of minds only, not the body. Body and Mind communicate with each other on these levels. When it is body telling something, it does so usually to the unconscious mind while when your Mind tells something to the body, it is your conscious mind that does it. The subconsciousness works in duplex mode. The "reflexes" that you experience are work of your unconscious mind, body communicates these signals, like of sudden fear, without the inclusion of "thought", it just happens and is likely the result of evolution. This is also what me might call "the gut feeling" or "instinct". When times like you are hungry or thirsty, it is your body communicating with your mind... again. What is subconscious communication then? Well, remember that catchy song stuck in your head? Well, you heard it somewhere and now your subconscious mind is enjoying it to the fullest. Sometimes, you hum the tune even when you are not aware of it! Has it ever happened that you are reading something, and you suddenly find yourself on a line with no idea what you read before? That was your subconscious mind invading again. Subconscious mind is more removed from the body but in the end, it is still a slave to your body and mind. It will always try to invade your sense of self to make you feel more comfortable. That is the whole point! It exists to fill your mind with thoughts so you feel yourself identified with something. What exactly are you then? Well, if you haven't guess already... here is the answer : conscious mind!
That layer of your mind where you consciously decide on actions is what can be called as your soul. Don't confuse mind with the brain or with the soul. Your consciousness is who you are. Remember when I said that human mind always seeks identity? Well, we find ourselves in our thoughts BUT the issue is that our thoughts don't always come from our own self so we end up mistaking ourselves for whatever our subconscious feels comfortable with!
I can imagine you pulling your hair trying to understand what I've written... or you're dismissing this as ramblings of a guy with too much time on his hands. I can do no more than share my experience in the only way I can, but if you really, really wish to find you yourself... Do as I did - just observe your thoughts!
Create a room in your mind, with 4 people inside. 1 - Body, 2 - Subconscious, 3 - Unconscious, 4 - Conscious (YOU). Whenever you feel hungry, imagine it as Body speaking to Unconscious. Whenever you feel angry, imagine your Subconscious taking the floor. Again if you feel like you are trailing off on your train of thoughts - Subconscious. Remember, most of our emotions are sprouted from out subconsciousness. So whenever you act out of those without reason, it is your subconsciousness driving your body, not you. You are only you when the 4th person in the room has the floor. Trust me, it is not easy to have that person take over.
How do I measure my awareness of self? Another simple experiment. Just sit or lay down somewhere, without any distractions (no music too). Then, think and see the numbers from 1 to 100 in your mind, incrementing the count along with your breath. Simple? Ah well, the catch is that you cannot lose tract of your count (by letting the subconscious take over) or lose the vivid view of which number you are on currently. This is an experiment for your own sake. Most of the time what I experienced is that, while I keep on counting in the background, my mind moves on to other things, then suddenly I become aware of this intrusion and game over. At this point, you'll probably remember which number you lost track on, and that is the percentage at which your consciousness functions.
What is the point of all this? Why am I sharing this with you? It is because a simple thought experiment can exponentially increase the quality of our living. It gives us an answer to questions we didn't even know we had!
Our consciousness is an extremely powerful being but nature wants us to remains a species still in the purview of the animal kingdom - and I'm not taking about physically. When you focus all of your conscious mind, you will feel the power that flows through you. I want to help you become a master of your own body and mind instead of the other way round. I confess, I am no expert myself, but I invite you, my friend, to go on this journey with me. The path now lies ahead of you, are you ready to take a step and find who YOU are?