“I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am ”
― Thomas Cooley, Inscriptions: Prairie Poetry
When we look to others to validate who we are, we are really looking to our own opinions of others and ourselves. We can never know what other people think. We only know what we think about ourselves and how we assume that others define us. Everything known is through the lens of self experience. Since external is internal, then there should be no reason to look external for any definition. No more answers can be gained from external sources than through self-inquiry.
“Your whole idea about yourself is borrowed – borrowed from those who have no idea of who they are themselves.”
So many arguments are held at different levels because of supposed disagreement on belief. Let others be wrong. Let yourself be right. Let both opinions exist until agreement is found. Don’t push your agenda, only live your truth. No matter the argument, allow the space of not knowing to reside between the two opinions. The truth will find its way out when it is ready. Nothing gained by force is kept.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Desiderata – Max Ehrmann
When we compare ourselves to others, we make a definition of who we think they are and who we are in relation to them. If we are all made of the same thing, then there should be no judgement since by judging others we are really judging ourselves. Now this seems simple on the surface and gives us great insight on how we can improve ourselves, but that is still a limitation and an identification. With acceptance of others, we accept ourselves, and there is no improvement or change to be made on either side.
So how do we let go of judgement?
All judgments of others and ourselves seem to come from the mind which is based on experiences and conditioning. Beyond the influence of mind there is a place where there are no labels..no thoughts..only presence. My practice is to visit that place more and more so that it becomes more of a habit and the labeling and judgments of mind stay in the background rather than in the foregound.
The Retired Seeker
It is a little confusing to first think of labels as judgments. We describe everything with labels. It is how we make sense of the world, of the inputs that we are given. However, when we apply a label to a person or an object we are in fact limiting that object in time and space. A label is not a dynamic thing. It is applied at a point based upon our prior experiences and conditioning. Once we label something, we cling to that label. Even when we exchange one label for another, we are still lost in the concept of the label itself and what the label represents to us as opposed to the true object itself. At the point of labeling, we disassociate ourselves with the object. As the Retired Seeker points out, all of these labels and judgments come from the mind. We may not be able to stop the flow of labeling and judgement, but we can get to the point where we no longer identify with that process. Through silence we begin to see that we are separate from the mind, labels and judgment.
What does this mean to be free of the constructs of the mind?
For me, it is about getting the foot as bare as one can while standing on that sand… yes it can be an uncomfortable to painful walk like that at first… the road and the reference points for living always shifting beneath the feet. But once we embrace the flow, my oh my, how amazing the dance of inner mirrored as the outer mirror as the inner mirrored can be. (How often do we see shoes eventually taken off on the dance floor? That usually is when the true partying can begin!)
– Seeing M
Letting go of judgment and letting go of labels allows us to be totally free. If we think that someone has labeled us as incompetent or undeserving then our thinking will remain along those lines and we will be tied into external forces dictating internal actions. When we apply a label to ourselves, or we assume that others have applied a label to us, it is important to take a step back and allow the moment to reset. Literally take yourself out of the moment and allow a do-over. Allow yourself to accept the moment for how it is now and not how it was even just a few seconds ago. Allow all forthcoming action to be based on the current moment and not ideas of the past. Each moment allows us a break, a reprieve, from action where all action can begin anew.
Every moment of your life
Is a chance to get it right
Any moment you’ve been living in
You could turn it on like a light
Monotov’s Private Opera – Third Eye Blind
“When you know who you are, you don’t look to the world to tell you. Similarly, you don’t fear other people since they cannot take anything from you. Your awareness of yourself as you really are is your liberation.”
— The Lazy Yogi
What are we trying to realize here? What is the point of all this silence and self-reflection? What are we gaining by this? For me it is more of an acceptance than a realization. We are all already enlightened. Think about this. Everyone that you meet, and that person that you look at in the mirror, is already in an enlightened state. So what is missing? Acceptance of that natural enlightenment. The ego fights us and confuses us. It pushes us into identification of a body and mind that is really just an instrument that we use to perceive this reality. Would you identify with a microscope? Or your car? You realize that those things are separate from you, but they allow you to interact and understand your world better. The same is true of the body and mind. They are instruments through which you interact, examine and understand the universe. Nothing at all to be taken lightly, but still just an extension of the self and not the true self.
“Realisation is to get rid of the delusion that you have not realised.”
— Sri Ramana Maharshi
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