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The Third Revelation

The third revelation, the one that further changes everything, is this: I don't exist. Neither do you. We are invented fictions. Even these words are fictions. Transcend thought and the whole problem of "you" disappears.

While philosophers have long argued about whether we truly exist as we believe we do (e.g., how do you know you're not dreaming or even a figure in somebody else's dream?), the best way to examine this proposition is to go directly into the no-self experience. Start by saying, "I don't exist, I am not this." Repeat that phrase over and over. Say it and mean it. Sense its reality. What happens as this perception clicks in and becomes clearer?

When "I" say this phrase, "I" experience an amazing feeling of liberation from the spider web of thought. Suddenly released from the whole project and design of me, I discover the freedom of not having to be or do any thing capped by a nearly unspeakable joy. This is the freedom born of enlightened aging - the freedom to shed the mental construction of "me" (with all my goals, problems, thoughts, fears, etc.) and live without mental limits.

Words are not reality but they can create an imagined reality that becomes "true" when believed. If John is believed to be a person, with a history, identity, story, and rai·son d'être, then he has all the typical problems of personality: security, self-esteem, identity, belonging, even mortality. Notice that thought composes each of these elements - it's all stuff we believe and assume to be true and, as such, it's responsible for most of our anxiety and suffering. When thought disappears like smoke in air, only consciousness remains (and whatever consciousness beholds) with no one left to have this experience. To know this, all we have to do focus consciousness on itself. And even more interesting, what if this consciousness were not even "your" consciousness, for notice that even though "you" disappear, consciousness remains. Welcome to the consciousness of the awakened universe (called God, Spirit, Allah, Yahweh, the Tao, etc.).

In this realization is found "our" true identity. The great poet Rilke, summarizing the entire history of religion, said, "All who seek you test you, and those who find you bind you to image and gesture. I would rather sense you, as the earth senses you. In my ripening ripens what you are." When we move from seeking to sensing, from belief to the pure awareness, when consciousness turns back on itself (and we become conscious of consciousness itself), we become that consciousness only. This is the alchemical magic of pure, thought-free awareness: freedom and divinity found in the silence that holds every "thing" in love.

One last thing. Experiencing the no-self consciousness doesn't meant we can't step back into the collective world of identity, time and story and connect with those who want us to be a regular person. It just means we can transcend the world of thought and release the problems, hurts and dysfunctions that are intrinsic to every personality. If you are a person, you have problems; if you transcend personhood, all that goes away in the spacious consciousness of enlightenment. Like changing the channel on the TV, we switch back and forth whenever we wish,. This kind of enlightenment comes more easily in aging because the social demands of personhood (work, family, recreation) steadily decrease and disappear after retirement. This no-self experience is the crack in the reality that tips over the whole false world of thought. Explore it. See what happens next.
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