"When you no longer believe everything you think, you step out of thought and see clearly that the thinker is not who you are." E. Tolle
Then who am I if thoughts are not my identity? What is left? I think constantly? My descriptions of who I think I am, my identity, are endless. One time I think, "I am good, generous, and thoughtful, another time, "I am neglectful, selfish, and thoughtless depending upon mood or event. Morning, I feel one thing, evening another about the same situation. Thoughts, feelings, emotions, change like the decal flashing a bird or a dollar sign on my credit card -- depending on which way it is tilted.
Thoughts are quite willing to manufacture me an identify. As an artist there are times in a painting where it feels/thinks like "give-up-time", I am no artist. The colors or composition are off and the waste-basket is handy. Yet when staying with it, saying no to the "I can't" or "I am not a ..." the painting works. I am an artist again. Similar thoughts like, "I am bad, good, fat or gorgeous" imprison me, thus creating a false sense of self connected to my emotional history or social conditioning. I need to allow the imperfections without making them an identity.
What is "real" in me that does not change. Who is behind or under my thoughts, feelings, emotions, skin? How do I find out? Tolle instructed a young man who asked a similar question, to feel inside himself for the one ingredient that doesn't change, to listen in alert stillness, listen in a moment of inner spaciousness and find oneself beneath it all -- not thinking but aware in timeless Presence.
"Live a life without thought." an ancient friend also instructed me a few years ago. Puzzled, I began observing my thinking. Her suggestion was to "Briefly step out of the voice in your head, stand back from these thought-processes and their reflection in the body as an emotion. Breathe consciously, center yourself in the moment and a rising inner spaciousness manifests where before there was the cluster of thoughts and the turmoil of emotion." I discover thought is separate.
Stepping out of the voice in my head, into a heart place that never changes, into a Presence that is always here and an awareness that watches this personality called Augusta, I know "the thinker is not me." To paraphrase Lao-tzu, if I name God I haven't got it. If my thought says, "I am sad, happy, artist, grandma with a period at the end...," I haven't got it either yet sacredness always waits in each for my presence.
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