Something lovely happened yesterday morning – the watcher laughed at the ego. It’s a bit of an ontological leap and there was a lot of giggling involved. (I think ontological changes could always be accompanied by laughter – that would be okay in my book.) At any rate, it is an that experience I’ve heard mentioned by Eckhart Tolle, but haven’t quite managed to have for myself – until yesterday morning.
The watcher laughed at the ego.
Let me explain. Who is the watcher? I am. Consider, in Christian terms, that the watcher is the immortal soul that dwells within this mortal coil complete with said coil’s cells, chemicals, thoughts and emotions. So the watcher isn’t the cells, chemicals, thoughts nor emotions – the watcher is perhaps integrated, but not the same substance. And yet (for arguments sake) the watcher, the immortal soul, is the seat of consciousness and self-consciousness.
Okay. So then, the watcher doesn’t think – the mortal coil does. And isn’t that an odd thing to consider – because at least in English we use the word ‘think’ far more often than its traditional definition requires… don’t you think? :) In a colloquial sense, ‘thinking’ covers contemplating, meditating, actual thought processes, believing, taking time out, creating distance, observing uncertainty, disclaiming an observation from needing to be true… and that’s just what I can come up with off the top of my head. So back to the point – the watcher doesn’t think. But the watcher is not just the seat of consciousness and self-consciousness, but also wisdom and connection with God. The watcher experiences. The watcher understands. The watcher is an intelligence that is bigger than simply thought.
Now, the average person can’t actually stop thinking on demand. I’ll grant you that the average person also doesn’t realize that they’re shooting the rapids of their thoughts all the time, a rushing river of thought and it’s so normal to them that it’s like asking a fish if it likes water. “What’s water?” the fish asks, having never experienced anything else. But it only takes five minutes of instruction on meditation for the average person to say their own version of the following: “Holy Macaroni! I can’t stop thinking! It’s just one thought after another and I can’t seem to stop! Is there something wrong with me?” Either that, or five minutes into it they’ve fallen asleep – their body recognizing the signal of ‘slow down’ as the only downtime they likely get: slumber.
Having said that, the average person can also learn how to meditate, which is another way of saying, ‘learn how to control thought, rather than having thought control you’. It takes about three minutes to learn the basics, depending on how fast one reads, or your instructor speaks, and after meditating for a cumulative 50 hours or so, anyone can be well on their way. It’s one of those things where mastery comes over the course of a lifetime and that even though you’re sitting there doing nothing, you’re changing your entire life.
Why is that? Why does sitting for twenty minutes every day doing nothing and thinking nothing change your entire life? I mean, people work hard at jobs they don’t like, and maybe more than one in order to ‘change their lives’, or maybe more particularly, change the circumstances of their lives, their life situation. What does does twenty minutes of nothing have on doing so much something?
To answer that, let’s discuss the ego. Putting aside previous definitions of ego, let’s go with something more in the line of Eckhart Tolle’s definition: the ego is the illusory sense of identity that human beings adopt right out of the cradle. That is, when we identify with anything other than our immortal soul – and boy howdy can we do that in spades – we’ve expanded our egos. And you know, the ego craves fulfillment that it will never have because it already is an illusion. The endless cycle of craving and ultimate dissatisfaction… that’s ego. And the power and flexibility of our minds and thoughts in the service of the ego? Tolle calls it madness, and I completely agree.
But the mind doesn’t need to be in the service of the ego – it can be in the service of the watcher, that which we truly are, our essence, the deep wisdom that is one with God. And for that to happen… we get to decide when to think and when to turn our brain off. And when we meditate, we practice that in small doses.
And this changes everything. It is the difference between operating on a daily basis out of a place of profound and divine wisdom rather than out of a place of madness. This is the place where the miraculous occurs.
At one point in his books, Tolle points out that it’s okay to not take ourselves so very seriously. And when we have a little space, and realize what’s going on, we can laugh at the inner antics of the ego, as one might good-naturedly laugh a beloved child who is being petulant. And when we can do that, we will have experienced the difference from the intelligence that is laughing and the ego that is being petulant
And yesterday, I laughed at my ego. Actually, I giggled. It was being a silly-head, after all.