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Lesson 122 -
122.1 - Finding Mindfulness (Audio)
- What's Wrong with Holding On to the Things We Love? (Audio)
122.3 - Is Witnessing a Mind Game? (Audio)
- Relationship of Witness and Inner Obstructions (Audio)
Witnessing the Pain of Getting a Tattoo, or the Pain of Anything Else
A Practitioner's Perspective on Witnessing the Dramas of Life
Date: Fri Feb 20, 2004 11:10am
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
Q: I've been going through a process for a long time now where I just don't
identify with the body. I don't identify with the emotions or feelings.
Something else is feeling them, not I. Sometimes I am aware of an emotion
trying to come up, but I just don't know what to do with it so I ignore it
and it goes away. My grandmother died 2 weeks ago and it didn't bother me at
all. I must have been the only one in the funeral smiling or trying not to
smile most of the time. My cat whom is everything to me.. my best friend..
my companion.. my love.. I think is going to die or is dying slowly and I
am just not bothered by this. I am concerned and a bit worried yes, but I am
not bothered. It changes things externally, but not internally. I can fall
down the stairs and just laugh not caring. I could get fired from work with
out a care in the world. I am just not attached to anything. More recently,
I feel like I lost identity with my name. It almost hurts me to sign an
email or a posting with my name. Is this normal and a part
of Pratyahara? Are there stages to this, so I would be prepared for what's
next to come?
A: Thank you very much for writing and sharing.
The answer depends on what your state really is, and that has to do with how
you got there. If you have been meditating and have this feeling of
separation in silent witness, that is one thing. If you have separated from
your life and the world as a psychological defense mechanism because of some
trauma in the past, that is something else. The former is due to
purification in the nervous system. The latter is a pigeon-holing of
awareness in avoidance of subconscious obstructions involving a lot of pain.
One is an opening up. The other is a kind of closing down. They can appear
similar, but are not. Under certain circumstances, it is even possible that
some of both could be happening at the same time.
If it is purification in the nervous system giving rise to the emergence of
inner silence, then the thing to do is engage in spiritual practices and in
life. Ultimately, our enlightenment is not about us. It is about everyone
else. The first stage of enlightenment is the rise of an ongoing inner
silence -- a temporary separation. The second and third stages are about
joining with the divine rising dynamically in ourself and in others (this is
where ecstasy and pratyahara come in, not much before). Going beyond stage
one (inner silence/witnessing) is not an inert do nothing process. It
involves the rise of devotion, and engaging our pure bliss consciousness in
the further processes of enlightenment, which include practices and
involvement in the world. It is a natural evolution, part of which is in our
deciding to participate.
Suggestion: When emotions come up, instead of ignoring them, consider the
process of bhakti as described in lesson #67,
"Bhakti - The science of devotion," and subsequent lessons discussing the
finer points of witnessing and bhakti, especially, #109,
"Bhakti, meditation and inner silence." These might give you some tips on
how to make better use of your witnessing state to move on to next steps.
The relationship of witnessing and emotion is a key dynamic in this. Pure
bliss consciousness, the silent witness, is not touched by the phenomenal
world, but it is not uncaring. Just the opposite. Inner silence is an
endless well of love and compassion, and moves us naturally to engage in the
ecstatic processes in the body, and in loving service to others. We can even
get angry and cry in the witnessing state - the nervous system will continue
to purify itself. Even though the silent witness is the ultimate unmoved
spectator, the enlightenment game is not a spectator sport. This is one of
the paradoxes of spiritual life. Until pure bliss consciousness becomes
fully present in every atom of existence, joining continuously with the
ecstatic processes of creation (the divine inner lovemaking), there can be
no completion of enlightenment. If we want to move to higher stages of
enlightenment, we must actively participate.
So, my suggestion is to see if you can find a desire in yourself to grow
beyond where you are. Any desire will do, because you can transform emotion
easily into bhakti in the witnessing state, if you choose to. If you can,
cultivate it. Then you will find it easy to do something -- some daily
practices, some service, doing something for someone else. If you find it
difficult to "engage," then maybe the situation is psychologically more
complicated than a natural process of purification coming up in the nervous
system stimulated by spiritual practices. Or, sometimes there can be some
tenderness during the witnessing stage (or any stage) where we just have to
bide our time for a while - a sort of healing into a new state of being.
Once we get comfortable where we are, then we will become more interested in
moving on to the next step.
Whatever the underlying cause of your witnessing is, it will not hurt to be
in daily practices - meditation and pranayama especially. Sooner or later,
these will naturally bring you to the next step.
I wish you all success as you travel along your chosen path.
The guru is in you.
Related Lessons Topic Path
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Note: For detailed instructions on
utilizing witnessing with Bhakti, see the
AYP Bhakti and Karma Yoga book.
For the role of the witness in self-inquiry, see the AYP
Self-Inquiry book. Also see