This video below came across my desk today and I am so happy to share it with you. The message is simple: you are not defined by what you have, by what you do, or by what you call yourself. Suffering is caused by identification with these reflections; we put ourselves in an endless cycle of pain and pleasure when we identify with what we have and who we consider ourselves to be. Freedom and peace is available when you know that you are not these identifications, but rather the awareness of these identifications. Talk about perspective!
This reminder is so helpful, and Gangaji (gangaji.org) transmits the message so beautifully. As always, I am interested in how this is useful to us, in how it may be applied, and in what that might look like in day-to-day life.
In one example of how this works, we can so easily get caught up in the minute details of life – all the to dos, the comings and goings, the stress, the joy, the sorrow, the triumph – that we loose perspective, we think we are these happenings, and we become defined by them.
When we are defined by the details of life, we become attached to how these details look and feel. We want our lives to be ‘happy’ and ‘good,’ and we become upset when our lives are ‘sad’ or ‘bad.’ We are judging our lives, and so we are judging ourselves. When life is good and easy, we are proud; we feel we are doing something right. When life is bad and hard, we judge this as ‘wrong’, and become hard on ourselves to make it ‘better.’ We are caught in a cycle of pain and suffering because we are identifying with being good, which doesn’t last forever, or being bad, which we judge as wrong.
I quote the words above to highlight that these are words of judgment that are not widely treated as such. Though we use them in objective declarations, they are in fact words to describe subjective qualities. If this does not resonate with you, consider the feelings of anxiety and excitement, and pay attention to your body the next time you feel either. The physical sensations of both emotions are quite similar, though we judge the former to be ‘bad’ and the latter to be ‘good.’
What if, in a moment, we could notice we are judging a feeling, and rather than let that judgment stop the emotion, just allow ourselves to feel? We are sad and so we cry – we let the tears and the sobs flow, and notice that relief comes from allowing the flow of energy. Can you remember the first time someone told you not to cry? Perhaps it was someone who was uncomfortable seeing you in pain, and so they had you stop. You learned in that moment that it was not ok to cry, that it was wrong to feel what you were feeling. As adults, we have the opportunity to give ourselves the freedom and permission we perhaps never had as children: emotional freedom, freedom from judgment, freedom to explore who we truly are and what we truly love.
And so we come full circle back to Gangaji’s message. Let us give ourselves the freedom to be, without judging or being attached to what it is that we ‘be.’ And as we ‘be,’ let’s ask, “who is this be-ing,” or “who am I.” Experiment with letting go of the labels, which cause you to judge, which in turn cause you suffering. (I am a successful [read: good] attorney.) Play with the idea that you are the awareness of that which you are aware of. As Gangaji says, “Let all self definitions die in this moment, let them go, and see what remains.” And above all, enjoy and enjoy and enjoy, because whatever the true nature of reality may be, enjoying it is great way to experience it!