Me and I: There Is a Difference
This blog post was featured in the Huffington Post on April 19, 2016.
In meditation I was watching my thoughts and not letting myself get attached to them.
Wait, I asked myself. Who is this entity thinking and who is this entity watching? I thought it was me who was thinking, but if I am doing the thinking, who is doing the watching?
The insight: There are two (maybe more) entities that make up who I am. This is not an entirely new insight granted. In the literature the entity watching is recognized as the observer or the consciousness. For purposes of communicating I will call them ME and I. (I realize the English grammar is going to be a bit crazy here.)
ME and I are not the same. I is thinking. ME is watching.
Who is I, and who is ME?
Thoughts come from the mind. That is where the I is. I thinks.
Thoughts are impacted by what other people tell me about myself and by many other factors including how my body feels that day.
But my thoughts are not ME.
ME is above my thoughts. That is who is watching. ME is my spirit, which resides in the heart like thoughts reside in the mind.
The mind produces thoughts that communicate with words. The heart nests the spirit that communicates with feelings.
While the mind thinks, the heart feels.
Which feelings are pure? No words, no matter how articulated and romantic they might be, do it justice?
LOVE. When you try to communicate love to someone, no matter how poetic your communication is, it still comes from your head. Love needs to be experienced to be understood. It has to be acted on to be realized. It comes from the heart, not the mind.
Thoughts come from the mind; feelings from the heart. Are they ever in conflict, ME and I?
Yes, and often.
What my mind thinks can hurt ME. For instance, if I want a bagel I should not have because of my diet, it is my mind that wants that bagel although it is not good for ME.
The same is true of anger. Who is angry? I is. Does it damage ME? Sure it does. ME gets sick afterwards.
How should I deal with this? Or is it ME who should deal with it?
If I can quiet down and shut up my mind from yack-yacking all day long, maybe my heart would have a chance to express itself. If I stop thinking, maybe I will start feeling ME.
In making decisions do not use only your mind: Use your heart, too. If the mind and heart are in a conflict you can’t resolve, let the heart win.
Feelings vs. Thoughts
What does ME feel? Does it feel sorrow? Happiness? Anger?
These are thoughts, not true feelings. Anger feels like a feeling but it is a thought. Why are you angry? You have reasons, right? The reasoning is your proof: It is a thought. Now, truly love—stop thinking and reasoning—and what happens to your anger? Gone!
Anger and love cannot share the same bed.
Is there life after death?
If ME is not who I am, if ME is not my thoughts, what about my body? Is my hand ME? How about my lungs, eyes, ears, head? Not really. They have a life of their own. With aging, my eyes are getting weak, my hearing is getting worse. If I do not take care of my body, my body does not take care of ME. We are not the same. My body is not ME.
When I die my thoughts die, granted. My body starts to die thereafter and gets eaten by worms. But what about ME? What about LOVE?
No worms can eat love. Love is not in the mind or in the body. Love is forever. Yes, forever. The feeling of love remains. People still feel you after you are gone. They still love you. And you probably feel them after you are gone too. How could they feel you if you do not feel them?
Aha: Apparently there is “life” after death. I put “life” in quotation marks to indicate that it is a different life, not a life of thinking but a life of feeling, of loving. With no body, no mind, and thus no limitations.
But if there is “life” after death there must there have been “life” before birth too, and thus much of what I feel is a carryover from past lives.
The loving ME is perpetual, ageless . The ME that has no name. No body. No mind. No identity. No past. And no future either, because if something is perpetual, forever, there is no past and there is no future. There is no time dimension. Time exists only if there is a beginning and an end. Only if there is death.
Love is what is left after we depart.
Love is what brings us to be born.
It is forever.
Where does this insight lead ME?
First, and very powerful for me, is the realization that I am not my thoughts. I must watch what I think not only in meditation but all the time, and not let my thoughts govern my life.
“Respect and suspect” the Jewish sages teach us. Respect means try to learn from others. So, in watching my thoughts, ME asks myself now what there is to learn from what I think and, at the same time, suspects whether what I think is really good for ME or not. ME should filter what I think, and discard those thoughts that are damaging to ME.
Another benefit I got from this insight is not to be scared of death. I will be finally free from the tyranny of thoughts and pains of the body. Free to only feel. To love without limitations, without expecting anything in return. Because out there, there is no return. It is a new “life” to explore.
Until now I have been addicted to thinking. I thought that if I stop thinking I am dead. So I think about thinking.
There is another ME now—the feeling one, the loving one. The one who stops thinking to feel the flowers. There is more joy, and a much more enjoyable one, in feeling than in thinking, in loving than in winning arguments.
This insight also has immediate benefits: my diet. If I want something, ME is watching like a loving parent and trying to keep this spoiled brat, the I, in control. With LOVE.
To be tested.