Are you a planner? Are you the one who takes the family to Disneyland and knows what order to ride which rides and when to see a show and even what venue will be the lunch stop? In my story, as this unit, I’ve been a planner. You know what? The plan has never gone as planned.
As a pilot in the Navy, we meticulously planned every event, every evolution. I could take that planning to an extreme. I would go so far as to plan the start time of the engines. (Is it pretty cool when four F/A-18 Hornet engines start at the same time) But you know, the plan never went as planned. Someone would miss a radio check in. The weather on the route wasn’t as forecast. The tactics would have to change.
Interestingly, my most memorable flights were the ones that just happened (I think that was a clue). I would get launched on an alert and the only “plan” was the check-in frequency after launch. One of my best memories was when I got launched on a pre-dawn alert, had to rendezvous on an unknown contact and identify the aircraft in the dark using night vision goggles, a forward looking infrared pod and my radar. Then I had to find the tanker, get some gas and join up with a oportunity wingman (an F-14 Tomcat). After the mission, I returned to the ship for an unplanned recovery time and a dawn landing. The sun was just cresting the horizon as I landed. Then there was the requisite big breakfast and a coma-like nap after all the excitement of the flight. I should add that when the alert was called away, I might have been dozing in the cockpit (not recommended) and had to wipe the drool off my mouth when they woke me up for the launch.
As the ego, we are telling ourselves a story. We are believing we are the story. We are most often asleep to the truth that we are not the story but the awareness that is experiencing the story. I know this kind of language is difficult to process and can actually create more confusion. As the ego, we want to plan and control. The ego’s purpose is to plan and control. It is a survival mechanism that is ultimately trying to avoid death. When we begin to wake up, the ego will want to take ownership of the awakening and try to “do” something to awaken (or at least take credit for the awakening). But we are not the ego. The awakening is leaving the ego behind. An ego can’t wake up. The absence of a false identity is the waking up experience. It is like something leaves that has always been there and the space that remains is our true self, the divine awareness “we” are. The “am-ness” of the I am.
Have you been to a rock concert? When you are there in the moment, you might be so caught up in the music you forget how loud it is. At first you might cover your ears but because you love the music so much, you stop covering your ears and embrace the experience. Later, on the way home or even the next morning, your ears are still ringing from the event. It is like a numbness or deadening of the hearing with a constant tone playing. Then, over time, the ears return to normal. The absence of the ringing is hearing.
In a similar way, when we are waking up, we notice something missing. The ringing in our ears is gone. As a planner, what is missing is the anxiousness when a plan goes awry or there isn’t time to plan or there is a monkey wrench thrown into the precise cogs of the meticulous plan. It is quite striking when you discover something is missing. There is a silence where there used to be chatter. There is peace where there used to be anxiousness. Something of the egoic identity is gone and reality remains. This is how awakening “works.” There isn’t any “work” at all other than becoming aware of the ego and the false identity with the ego. Shining the light of truth reveals what is in the shadows, then those imaginary or illusory identity forms fade away. We wake up to something missing. We wake up to our true identity.
In this series of posts (like the last one), I wanted to share some pointers that help create some space or shine a light on the illusion of an egoic identity. Since we are talking about ears and hearing, let me share another one by Eckhart Tolle.
This pointer works better if you have a bell or chime or something like that, but for the purposes of this post, let’s use our imagination. Imagine a bell, maybe like this one:
These are used often in meditation. I didn’t understand why before but Eckhart uses one and explains why so well, I wanted to share that pointer.
Imagine you ring the bell. Now listen to it intently. Focus just on the sound of the bell and nothing else. There shouldn’t be any anxiousness but there should be intensity. You are intently listening to the sound of the bell. As the tone fades, keep your focus on the sound. When the tone fades away completely, keep you focus exactly where it is but now without a sound. This is the attention of awareness. In this space you are experiencing what you really are, awareness.
Now rewind the tape and focus before the bell sounds. Be intently focused on the sound that is about to emerge from the silence. This is awareness taking form as form within awareness. Awareness is aware or consciousness is conscious in the moment and then the attention of consciousness has a form to observe. The form in this case is sound. Our “ears to hear” where always present and now they hear some “thing.” Once the “thing” is gone, the awareness remains. This is the light shining in the darkness.
When we inquire within, we are doing the same thing. We are shifting our consciousness from a false identity with our story to examine our story as the observer of the story. For me, planing was a huge part of my story. I could see how my form reacted to a plan that didn’t go as planned. I could see the emotion and the energy (mostly negative) that was a product of my perceived lack of control. But then, with the light shining, “I” realize that “I” am not my story. There is nothing else to “do” but be aware of the story, be aware of the emotions, be aware of the thoughts. The light takes care of the rest. The ego, when it is exposed as “shadow stuff” looses its power to pull awareness into the dream of the dreamer. We wake up. When we do, something is missing. The emotions are seen and felt. The thoughts are heard and observed. The false identity with the ego fades away like the ringing in the ears that was always there and we didn’t know it.
This is a wonderful thing. Our true self is already here. Our true identity is masked by the veils of a false identity. The rock band has been playing for a long time and the ringing in our ears has become our normal, until it isn’t anymore.
I hope this pointer helps in your “personal” journey to discover that you aren’t a person but awareness experiencing this reality in a personal way. You are not the story you’ve been telling yourself but the observer of the story. You aren’t the form you have perceived yourself to be but the consciousness from which the form arises. When the sound of the bell is gone, when form is removed, when the egoic identity fades away, what is left is what “you” are.