And so we continue on in the jagrat state of perceiving an empirical world of outside phenomena and feeling ourselves to be the subject and all else are objects. There is one thing after the other that “shows up” as “to be done”. This endless series of “to do’s” keeps us in the hamster cage or on the merry-go-round that often is not merry at all. It is eternal, endless and will never have an end or break in the continuity unless we realize that we ARE it. Only by looking at ourselves and recognizing what our image of ourselves actually is will we then be in a place of questioning the validity of our self-image.
If my self-image is “I am wise, patient, an authority, understanding, compassionate, respectful, knowledgeable, in service, a meditator, practicing self-inquiry, a yogi, mindful, kind, gentle, cheerful, upbeat, dependable, open-minded, experienced, open-hearted, a good friend, a spiritual companion, Zen, a Taoist, dignified, equanimous, well-groomed, elegant, healthy, a game-changer, breaker of taboos” and whatever else I could say to describe how I see myself, then I have identified my most cherished identity for myself. This is how I hold myself. It is quite a heavy self-image.
This self-image dictates my life. Not only is my psycho-somatic system programmed by this image (it is my ‘software’) so that whatever arises in the moment is filtered and censored in order to conform to the image, but additionally and more importantly it binds me to being ‘someone’.
You might say, what is wrong with these attributes? They seem very positive. And yet exactly that is the very crux of the dilemma: having created myself in this wonderful image, my ‘limited self’ (ego) is very pleased with itself. The crowning attribute that is part of this image is “I am nobody, I am nothing.” This is pseudo non-duality at its best and is the most difficult to uncover: the ego masquerading as Self-realized. How do I recognize it? By asking myself, “what is my self-image?” How do I see myself? If I come up with a heavy self-description of my most honest identity, then I can recognize it as the word-construct that it is: a castle made of concepts. Then I can sense the deep artificiality and sleight-of-hand that it is: my big lie to myself.
Then perhaps the immense pretense of this identity will come to my awareness and when it does it is dropped like a hot potato. Then the fraud of “I” stands naked, un-masked and with no defenses. It can no longer uphold the illusion of being “someone”. Then the entire scenario of my life shifts fundamentally.
Nisargadatta: Have experiences, but inquire about what was experienced, are they honest? In the first rainy season there was birth, in the second there was death, who was born? Was it the rainy season or the person? Only the realized one can tell as he is nothing, a void. Whatever is, is gone, whatever is not, is not, both are disposed of, only the truth prevails. After the departure of both, beingness and no-beingness, whatever remains is the truth. Prior to this accident of the occurrence of body-formation, everyone knows it (the truth). Only he, who knows that there is nothing, can say that there is the infinite and plenty. All our thoughts are about others but don’t bother about what others say.