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How knowing our inner crowd leads to spaciousness and higher functioning
Richard discusses how the basic sense we each have of “me” or “I” is not a distinct, separate someone, but rather an inner world of competing and overlapping ego-constructs. He describes how these sub-personalities are fascinating to observe and that the more we can differentiate them, the easier it is to flow with life from a place of stillness and clarity.
Some of you may really have some familiarity with my last two books, The Mandala of Being and Inside Out Healing, and how I draw a picture of the Mandala, a circle, strongly oriented toward the center with four directions, like a compass, like a clock. The center represents the present moment, and what it really represents is fundamental or essential consciousness.
The four directions are when we allow our minds to become involved in judgments and stories about ourselves or identified with the stories we have about our past, the stories we have about the future, and the kinds of judgments we make, assessments we make, of other people and of things. Money, God, anything that we can make an object, we will evaluate, either make it more important or less important.
But if we take our attention right now and move it over just to the position I call Me, we realize that Me isn’t just a simple thing. It’s actually a complex dynamic of different inner voices or mental, emotional, the best word I guess is dynamics.
For example, you could suddenly find yourself in a part of yourself that’s complaining. Oh, god, I’ve been asked to do something, and I don’t want to do it. And if you’re aware, you’ll notice oh, the complainer has taken over inside of me.
Another very, very common inner dynamic in this world of Me is self-criticism, self-judgment. And you realize that you’re very critical of yourself. You’re saying, I’m not enough. I’m not good enough.
Then that may evoke a voice inside of you which starts to justify you and says, well, the circumstances are such and such. And you move into a kind of self-justifying voice.
And of course Me world is almost like, I mean, if you saw people constantly talking to themselves, you’d say, oh, they’re crazy. But actually in our heads, we’re always talking to ourselves, and we narrate these conversations.
So you think, for example, that you might be very mindful or meditative, but actually your narrator is telling you, oh, I just noticed that I was in my complainer. Or oh, I just noticed that I was absorbed in my inner planner, and I was practicing preparing for work I have to do and the things that need to happen tonight or tomorrow or this weekend. The inner planner. I’m looking down at my notes.
One of the places I have gone at times is the know-it-all. I’m listening to something, and there’s this voice inside of me. I can do it better. I know better. If I were doing it, I would do it this way.
So inside this world that we call Me or I are these different dynamics. Sometimes we feel pity for ourselves. It’s almost as if you– in the east, they have that expression of Monkey Mind. And the monkey swings from a tree that is self-justification. Then it swings to another tree where there’s self-criticism. Then it swings to another tree where it’s absorbed in planning, and then it just swings to another branch or tree where it’s rehearsing conversations with other people who aren’t even there.
And as you begin to watch this world of Me, as you begin to be an observer, a witness, to this world of Me, it’s the ability to do that that starts to set you free from the psychodynamic of that world, from the identification with the world. Every one of those inner dynamics arouses some form of mood or feeling or sensation in your body.
So you’re going from one kind of mental dynamic and its arousal to another kind of mental dynamic and its arousal, and it turns out that that’s what we mean when we say Me or I. We think we’re the source of our thoughts, but we’re not. We can actually become aware of the thoughts, and as we find the part that’s aware, it’s not me. It’s consciousness.
So this ability to differentiate the different inner voices, the different inner psychodynamics, sub-personalities, we can give it different terminology for these dynamics, but to differentiate them clearly and watch which one has stepped in, which one is taking control of you, because you see it, because you’re aware of it, you’re differentiating from it. You’re actually the consciousness that is aware of each of these dynamics, is more than any of them.
And so they begin to lose their power inside of you. And so your mind begins to become more calm. It begins to rest more in the body, and as that happens, we start to become less and less perturbable. More and more quiet, more and more able to do everything that life requires of us in a day without wasted energy, without resistance.
So being able to recognize Me world, getting familiar with your favorite places in Me world, is a very important step in the process of awakening. It’s actually fascinating, and as those pieces become vivid, so will the times of real openness, spacious clear consciousness become that much more available to you.
Hope this is supporting your journey and your practice. Thank you.