This website has content that some individuals may find disturbing.
This website is about a journey of enlightenment or finding one’s true self. It’s one person’s attempt to share the realizations that come with a consciousness shift away from the ego mind. Enlightenment tends to attract people that are suffering or feel hopelessly lost because of the promise of a permanent end to suffering. I am not a councilor or mental health professional and the thoughts, ideas and strategies found on this site are just things that I personally find helpful.
If you are depressed or have a tendency to catastrophize about the state of the world or your own experience in it, I beg you to you reach out for help with your feelings and negative thoughts when embarking on your journey of self discovery. I myself was on anti-depressants and went to counseling/coaching for about a year during my own self-discovery process. The combination of medication and guidance helped me immensely to be able to confront beliefs I had held my entire life that were preventing me from being honest with myself. I don’t think I would have had so many insights into who I really am if I had tried to make the same journey without that support and guidance.
There may be raw and relatively unedited content here. It is my hope that by being true and honest with the process, others might stumble into the realizations that I have had in a more direct way. The process I went through was very difficult, frustrating and even overwhelming at times. If reading about my experiences may add to your own feelings of frustration or hopelessness, especially if you are feeling depressed, please take some time to heal first. The journey to enlightenment forces us to lay bare who we believe ourselves to be. At times this can lead to overwhelming feelings of loss, strong negative emotions about the whole reason for existence or even nihilistic thoughts.
On a Journey of self-awareness?
I built the site this way to clear out the clutter and get right to the heart of the things that have helped me to see through my own filter of thoughts and realize my true self. Since I had a very difficult time navigating the process of self-discovery (with all of the pitfalls and traps that seem to be part of it), I thought this might be a novel guide for myself and anyone like me that needs a bit of support and encouragement.
Where do I begin?
How do you write something that is appropriate for everyone? There are an infinite number of perspectives to keep in mind while writing. Trying to juggle the thoughts of “who is this for” while also trying to stay true and honest to my own experience feels like an overwhelming task. So, for the sake of simplicity I’m writing this for myself. I am focusing on things that I know to be true and what I wish I would have had available to me when I first had the desire to find out who I really am. I hope that my writing leads to a body of work that is beneficial to everyone in the long run. But, even if it only serves as a place to put a story of my journey, and a home for some tools to help keep me on track, it still feels worthwhile.
Who am I?
Let’s turn this into a potential learning experience right from the start.
It doesn’t really matter who I am. I don’t really know anything in depth about much of anything. I am not highly educated, wealthy or famous. I am not highly attractive or super intelligent. In fact I would say that I am unremarkable in almost every way and would consider myself flawed in more ways than most others I have met.
Does that answer disappoint you?
The desire to compare our experience with that of another is a strong and natural one. Do my core beliefs match yours? Am I the same sex, nationality or religion as you? Am I a member of a group of people you identify with or am I part of a group of people you don’t like?
All of these questions are truly irrelevant in terms of your own path to self awareness. So, why are they important to you? They are the questions of a conditioned mind (or ego mind) wanting to try to determine ahead of time what to expect… That’s what the ego mind does – compare, weigh, determine value, assess probability, weigh risk vs. reward, etc. That is a power it has and a very effective way to determine the relative value of a thing. But, you can only accurately assess something this way based on your own personal experience or what you have learned. You can’t use this method to make accurate assessments of things you have not yet experienced or learned about. So, what does your ego mind do in these cases? It compares, weighs, determines and assesses the source of the new information instead.
Depending on the assessment of the source, a determination is made about the value of the subject matter. Am I a member of a group of people that (in your experience) are universally untrustworthy? Well, then everything on this entire website must be untrustworthy too… But is that reality? Are the writings of an untrustworthy person useless? What if the writings are about the benefits of being an untrustworthy person?
The point is to bring to your attention to the fact that you don’t experience reality directly. You actually pick and choose what aspects of reality you want to believe based on how well it aligns with your internal model of the world (what you would call your experience) and what you would consider your core beliefs. You are not seeing reality directly and unfiltered, you are constantly pushing away the things you determine are “bad” (or untrustworthy) and pulling toward you the things you determine are “good” (or align with your core beliefs) long before you actually let yourself experience them. You are filtering the world to protect your internal world view or belief of who you are. None of this is a bad thing, but you should be aware of it – and most people are not. Most people feel not only that what they experience is raw reality, but they also feel that the thoughts and feelings that are part of that filtering process actually make up who they are.
I hope to help us see the truth of who we really are, so we can see the world as it is and not through a veil of conditioning or ego mind.
Anyway, I am happy to share my story and tell you who I am. At least the parts I would suspect you really care about. I will put everything I feel comfortable sharing on-line in a post here on this site titled “Who am I” at some point. For now, here’s the “specs” on me.
I’m male, in the Gen-X age group, of European decent & married for more than 25 years. I have 2 adult children. I was not brought up with religion in my life and do not consider myself religious. I have lived most of my life in the northwest of the United States. I have traveled a lot, but not much out of the United States (mostly because of financial and job restrictions, not because I don’t want to). I have worked in Health Information Technology almost all of my adult life. According to Pew Research Center I am currently considered middle class, though that makes me wonder how everyone else is making ends meet right now because I work at a decent job and still can’t afford a middle class lifestyle. I am overweight for my height and I would consider myself pretty much average in every metric in comparison to my peers with the exception that I was a late bloomer so I look a bit younger than my actual age.
How are you doing on your assessment of who I am? Did you accurately predict everything? Did you feel a sense of pride or accomplishment in how many things you guessed about me ahead of time? The more you accurately guessed right, the more refined your inner model of the world is. The more subtle queues you picked up on in my language to help you build your complete picture of me, the more experience of the world you have and the more solidly conditioned your mind is. That is fantastic – you see things relatively accurately. Unfortunately, that means that (like myself) you will have a harder time seeing through the illusion of your model of the world because your model has been very valuable and rarely seems to let you down. If your guesses about who I am were way off, then you will likely be less attached to your model and will have an easier time seeing through your conditioning or ego mind to experience reality more directly.
Who are we?
Let’s get right to it. In the most direct way that I can put into words, we are awareness. We appear to be a body driven by a sense of self (that I like to refer to as an ego-mind), but at our most basic pure self, we are just awareness. The ego mind appears to be who we are, but in reality, the ego mind is just a complex set of concepts that we slowly and methodically build up and change over time. Awareness is all that we really are and once this is fully understood, we can begin to recognize it and see everything as it is truly is and not through the conditioned veil of the ego mind.
Why do I refer to the ultimate self as awareness? It’s an awkward word and hard to define, but it’s the most accurate word (as an English speaker with no religious background) that I can think of that fits my own experience. Awareness is undefined enough to prevent my ego mind from making it into a solid and complete concept that it can co-opt into a concept, yet awareness points to something that seems to resonate as true and understandable to me. Awareness doesn’t carry the conceptual baggage or dogma of a religious concept along with it and awareness doesn’t have as much definition around it as something like consciousness. Awareness is not what the self is, but it’s about the only word I can think of that points to who we truly are.
Language is part of conditioning
At some point we’re going to have to talk about the elephant in the room, so it might as well be early on in the process. Writing about the topic like enlightenment or awareness is really, really hard and reading about it is even more difficult. Especially since referring to a thing that is not really a “thing” is unavoidable.
We use language to communicate. Language is amazing, and for almost everything it’s the perfect way to get concepts across. But, it is primarily a tool for communicating about concepts themselves. Awareness is before any concepts, so there is really not any way to talk about awareness directly or in terms of other concepts. When trying to describe something that is before anything else, you get into a situation where language really fails us as a tool.
I am going to do the best I can to not use language that is too distracting or difficult to read, which is what happens when you try to not use any concepts to describe something that is not a “thing”. I am going to go ahead and refer to awareness as a concept. It is not accurate, but if you can accept that “awareness” is the closest concept we can refer to, you can still possibly understand what I am writing about in a way that isn’t so constrained and hard to read.
Just be aware that I may refer to “awareness” as a thing, place or state of mind, but it is none of these things. Awareness is what every concept arises in. Awareness is boundless, shapeless & unaffected by time. If the word awareness bothers you, swap it in your head with any one of the many other words that point to the same thing like consciousness, enlightenment, awakening, etc. Be careful to not pick a name that you already have a lot of knowledge of though as the whole point is to use a term that is not well defined in your experience already.
This next paragraph is important
You are everything you should be right at this very moment in time. The things you think are your faults are not only OK, but they are necessary and a benefit to you when you are finding out who you really are. Once you begin to understand who you really are, the things you currently loath about yourself or your current situation you will find delight in and be thankful for, because they end up becoming your ultimate guide, showing you where to focus your efforts in the process of discovering yourself. I know this sounds a bit mad, but it’s the truth. It was impossible for me to see as well, but once I got it – really got it – I finally understood that you need the imperfections, faults and “bad” emotions to guide you to clarify who you really are. Everything that is a challenge for you becomes the very thing that you need most to help you find your true self. It’s almost like it has to be the way it is. We are near perfect opportunity for transcendence and awareness by design because we suffer in so many ways.
If you don’t see the truth in the paragraph above, I hope it at least gives you some kind of sense of hope or relief. In my own experience it is 100% true and has been one of the things that has helped me to recognize when I am resting in awareness vs. seeing the world through the veil of the conditioned ego mind.
On to the harsh truth
Your conditioned ego mind is not going to be on-board with becoming aware at some point. You can call this phenomenon ego back-lash or something else along those lines. As long as your ego mind is on-board with your self-discovery, you may feel like you are making wonderful progress and “getting it”. Once you really begin to understand the nature of awareness though, your ego mind is not going to cooperate anymore.
In the beginning it may be fun or novel to the ego mind to “go on a journey to find awareness”. Awareness will be just another thing to learn or acquire. A new addition to your inner world model, or something to hold over other’s heads as an accomplishment that only a rare few can achieve. Unfortunately for the ego mind, the realization of the truth of who you are coincides with the realization that the ego mind is an illusionary version of the true self. So, as you get glimpses into your true nature, the ego mind will (in a manner of speaking) “sense” that it may not be the center of your universe anymore. If you started your journey to acquire or accomplish something you are at a disadvantage – you will have to let go of that as your primary reason for wanting to become more self-aware. At some point during the process of revealing your true nature, your ego mind will stop cooperating and you will either lose interest, decide it’s all pointless, or in the worst case – your ego mind will play along and decide to just fake it right along with you – making it into just another concept in your world model instead of actually recognizing and becoming fully aware of who you truly are.
This is one of the few times when not liking who you are (or coming from a place of real suffering) seems to be of most benefit to you. If you don’t like who you are, feel “dumb”/stupid/lost or are just at odds with the way the world seems to be full of suffering, you will find it somewhat easier to let go of your attachment to your conditioned ego mind. Becoming aware of your true self will still be difficult, but as the ego mind starts to push back against progress towards recognizing your true self, you may find you have a much easier time pushing past the noise to come to some profound realizations.
I have to be clear here that the ego mind is not a separate self or enemy, nor is it something that is destroyed in the process of becoming aware (as some people describe as an “ego death”). The ego is just recognized for what it is and no longer falsely identified as the self. The ego mind (in the way I use the term) it is just a way of describing the conditioning and habit of believing the thoughts you have of yourself are what make up you. You are actually awareness. Awareness that perceives the world around you through the seeming veil of conditioning or ego mind. The conditioning – how you feel about yourself, your likes and dislikes, your idea of how intelligent or loving you are, what you think others are thinking (especially of you), your beliefs, etc. Those are the parts of what make up the ego mind…. and to me at least, the ego mind is more like a veil that kind of co-opts your awareness and claims it as it’s own, identifying only with the physical body, the seeming passage of time and the endless thoughts and emotions it assigns to positive or negative beliefs.
This is just an introduction to awareness. I’ll write and re-write this page as I progress through this website to make sure that I am staying consistent in my terminology and to bring important core concepts to the front. From this point on I’m going to try to make this into more of a guide for seeing past the veil of the ego mind.