What perfect joy comes from being happy! What contentment we garner when the pure act of consciousness takes over for the over worked ego! It is almost a mystery; yet, it is made up of such commons sense. We possess a divided mind. We are of two hemispheres connected by sinew and tissue and neurons and electrons and pure blood & guts. As metaphor, the ego resides in one hemisphere and the more primitive, more essential self resides in the other. The left is the uniquely human, uniquely logical, calculating, mastering egoic self. The right is the seat of consciousness, the primitive, simple, awareness of life. It is the location of quietude, simplicity and gratitude and awe. One is not better than the other. It is just so spectacular when we discover that not everything needs to be reported on by the running commentary of the egoic mind.
The nature of dualism almost instinctively, intuitively competes for attention. Like two siblings of nearly the same age, it is impossible for them to interact without one attempting to be Alpha–dominant. In the development of the human infant into a “mature” organism, the process of compiling data necessary to interact with the world, is stored in one arena. And, the process of cooly, simply, being resides in the other half of who we are, or who we see ourselves to be.
This divided nature is the source of conflict until we have awakened to the simple “idea” that the experience of ourself is not a “one-thing-thing,” but rather, we are a “two-thing-thing.” Although we grow up with the two sided brain, we tend to think of ourselves as one organism. And, indeed, we really are one organism, but the manner in which we experience ourselves is, if we awaken to the consciousness, clearly in two very alternative manners.
For some of people, despite the fact that they have lived with the voice in the back of their heads forever, they can either ignore the voice, or the voice is so loud and so critical that they can hardly put themselves to sleep at night. This super loud voice speaks to someone, doesn’t it?
“Damn it! I should not have taken that left turn. Stupid, pay attention! What is wrong with me?”
To Whom is that voice speaking, and from where inside of us does the voice emanate ? Is it not a clear, experiential indication that the nature of internal conflict manifests itself in this divided experience of the self. What is particularly interesting about the division is that the voice that we hear, the super-egoic voice is almost always critical and almost always talking to us out of fear or worry. The voice carries messages about the past, be it immediate past, or the future. It hardly ever is situated in the moment. That is because in the moment–there is no language. There is no need for linguistic competence in the moment, because the moment is experienced. The minute we want to analyze it, or reveal it to someone else, or the minute we want to store it for some future use–then the egoic part of the mind is activated and the experience of the moment is NO LONGER THERE.
It may be a dramatic over-simplification, but the clinical fact is that one side of the mind experiences life and the other side reports on it. Where we frequently run into conflict with our egoic, language oriented background voice is when the reporting begins to happen as if the experience had not already felt the moment. Let me give you an example. While I am writing this piece, I am also drinking a cup of coffee. I was very involved with the moment, with the experience of writing and there was no need for the background voice to say anything to me. However, when I paused for a moment to collect my thoughts, I reached for my cup of coffee, put it to my lips and became aware that the coffee had gotten cold. But, rather than simply experiencing that fact, my egoic brain had to comment. I heard it say, “oh! The coffee has gotten cold.”
Why did it need to tell me that fact? Who was it talking to? I apparently knew that it was cold the moment the cup touched my lips. My lips were comfortably smart enough to know that without my having to be told that fact by the other half of me. This is the experience of over-drive that I find needs to be confronted in ourselves if we are to joyfully be experiencing more of life rather than forever be reporting on the experience of life to ourselves.
No harm is done in the example above. We have become quite use to both experiencing life and simultaneously reporting on it. But let me use another example where I think that the super-egoic side of us might actually be destroying moments of joy and calm to the need for reporting.
It is 5:15 in the afternoon, the sun is setting on a clear winter day. Snow had fallen earlier and the lake was covered by a fresh blanket of light, white snow. As the sun set the yellow, rose, and orange the coloring in the sky was being absorbed by the scene in front of me, just outside my window beyond my deck. Glistening, glittering and fading all at once.
I want the voice to shut-up. It is about as useful to me as someone behind me in a movie theater commenting on every thing that is happening on the screen. I want to tell the person behind me to kindly shut up as I am not interested in their running commentary on the movie. In like manner, I want to experience the sun-set in a more mindful and a more meditative manner. The running commentary, in this case, is not only commenting, it is actually destroying the experience of the moment. The egoic mind is not a bad event. I do not mean imply that it is not useful and, indeed, the very condition that allows for language and perception and motility are al egoic, executive functions of the mind.
However, the aspect that needs to be retold to most of us, is that we can discover ways to shut off the voice, shut down the egoic principles and allow for a greater freedom in creativity, spirituality and humanistic concerns. Simply put, my ego can not meditate, but I can.