Stepping on Each Other’s Toes – August 26

Stepping on Each Other’s Toes – August 26

The sense ‘I am’ is your own. You cannot part with it, but you can impart it to anything, as in saying: I am young. I am rich, and so on. But such self-identifications are patently false and the cause of bondage… the source of consciousness cannot be an object in consciousness. To know the source is to be the source. When you realize that you are not the person, but the pure and calm witness, and that fearless awareness is your very being, you are the being. It is the source, the Inexhaustible Possibility.
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, I Am That

One of the gifts of meditation is finding an experience of self that is other than our thoughts and feelings. Thoughts and feelings change with our environment. Thoughts and feelings change depending on who we’re with. Different social crowd, different subjective experience. Even without changing crowds, if the mood, i.e. the thoughts and feelings of our companions change, that in turn will cause change in our own.

As a meditator, though, we twice daily have the experience of this thing we are that is other than our thoughts and feelings. We dip down into the experience of pure Being. As we continue to meditate, we begin slowly to identify with this place of Being until we can feel it even when we are outside of meditation. And even at those times when we seem to have no access to this feeling of our inner Self and we feel at the mercy of the world and the people in it, we can remind ourselves it is there within us. We then will have a better chance of letting go of the thoughts and feelings and what they’re telling us about what’s wrong with ourselves or our lives or the people around us.

An example: if someone calls me a name, says I’m selfish or egotistical or arrogant, and I am living only from my thoughts and feelings, 1) I probably will feel hurt or attacked or both; 2) I probably then will feel angry, and; 3) negative thinking will begin about this person in order to ameliorate my experience of their ‘attack,’ I will find it necessary to share some of these thoughts with them, and by doing so; 4) I will illustrate to them how correct they were in their original assessment of me.

Now if I am identified with the inner experience of Self that is at-one-with the universe, and someone calls me arrogant or selfish, I may pause to ask myself whether or not they’re right, for after all, it’s a guarantee that I know myself better than anyone else possibly could. And it’s also a possibility that I have behaved selfishly. If I think they have a point, I may say something like, “You know, you could be right. Sometimes I am selfish. Have I hurt your feelings? I certainly hope not, but if I did, please let me know.” Or, if we think no, I don’t think I have been arrogant or selfish, I might say, “Huh. Tell me more about that, about how I’m selfish.” Why? Because what this person is giving us is a report on their own state of consciousness, not ours. What they’re reporting is their experience of the world, and for some reason they’ve aligned it with us, rightly or wrongly. At any rate, they have something they’d like to get off their chest, and if we’re not taking it personally, it probably won’t hurt us to listen. Especially if it’s a friend or a loved one.

This may sound like pie in the sky New Age wishful thinking, but in fact, just as the Veda says consciousness is one thing, every major religion says that God is omnipresent. There is one thing. God is everywhere and every time. He/She/It must be in me as well as in this person who seems to be having a bad day and blaming it on me, just as I have sometimes had bad days and blamed it on someone else. Wouldn’t it be lovely if I could see God, see the oneness behind the blame, rather than just to focus on the blame? Wouldn’t it make me feel better if I could see the hurt behind the anger and have compassion? Wouldn’t it be a better world for all of us if every once in a while we could leave the bait lying there before us, rather than picking it up and running with it?

Today, I will offer free passes to those who step on my toes (though I will be sure to move my feet so that no one has the opportunity to step on my toes more than once).