It is so important that we learn to trust our experiences while at the same time not get caught up in them. We do get to have this human experience with all the emotional, physical and psychological phenomena. It is when we get caught up in our experiences and come to believe, “This is me,” or “This is it,” that we become attached to certain experiences and emotional states and then consequently we suffer. Through the cultivation of attention and other mindfulness practices we come to be more the witness of our life, — when we witness sadness or joy we experience them without creating more attachment or aversion. We get to have our experiences without being our experiences.
The ego constantly wants to jump in and make it all about “me.” It’s me who feels this or that. It’s “me” who wants to be enlightened. But the ego represents the false self – the place where we believe “I am this emotion,” or “I am this belief,” or “I am this suffering.” Or even an attachment to positive states – “I must experience this or that again because it was so wonderful!” Or we become attached to our happier states and suffer trying to hold on to them.
“It is helpful to remember that, from the Buddhist point of view, you are capable of changing old habits at any moment–no matter how long you have been stuck in painful, unproductive patterns of living.” Lama Surya Das, Natural Radiance
When we can call upon our witnessing presence we can participate in our experiences without the entanglement. Just like being present for someone else – instead of jumping in and giving advice or overriding what they are sharing with “our” experiences and “our” stories, we listen, we make space and we witness. They then feel heard and mirrored and this, more often than not, is enough. There is way too much advice giving in this culture, some of which we are constantly dumping on ourselves – “I should do this,” “I should feel that.” We really don’t need another spin on what’s going on, we just need to bring our radiant natural state of awareness to the experience. Bring awareness to your experiences and become a witness, and from this witnessing presence we can make conscious choices. This of course is all so simple, so beautifully simple. But it is not easy. It takes a continual willingness to wake up and to practice.
“In meditation, be free of clinging to experiences.” Padma Sangye
In sitting meditation, practice being free of clinging and grasping to your thoughts and emotions. Become the witness to your life and be free. Be the witness to your life and you will naturally open up the your inherent qualities of compassion, wisdom and presence.
This week take time each day to contemplate this lesson and what it means to you. Be aware throughout the day of your witnessing presence and encourage yourself to practice this witnessing presence. Journal your insights.’
“Things are not what they seem to be, nor are they otherwise, so we might as well burst out laughing. Ha!” Lama Surya Das, Natural Radiance