Finding the Self in the Labyrinth of the Mind
Seeing the "self" from outside the self is so difficult and yet, at the same time, so easy. Its easy in the sense that awareness is effortless. Its difficult because our awareness has been trapped in the self for so long its hard to even imagine what our awareness would be without the ego at the center.
Perhaps one must go to the center in search of the "self" in order to see, first hand, the nature of self. Its ironic that the self can only be seen from the outside, when one moves their awareness into the center of the mind to find it.
What is it that we find when we go on this journey of contemplation? What is the self or the ego? The self is many things. The self is going places, accomplishing things. It becomes great at times. It is always striving to build itself up. The self seeks to have a purpose or a place to fit into the Universe. It seeks to secure its future, and often sees events, conditions, or even people as everlasting. It sees itself as eternal, even though the more rational mind may know better.
The self is ambitious and strong at times, and aimless, hopeless and weak at others. The self longs to be liked, loved, admired,and accepted. It longs to be great and fears to be rejected, hated, maligned, or spit upon. The self fears losing, and failing, and looking stupid. The self fears and the self dreams and it often has hope for a better future. The self seeks to lock up the future to overcome or ignore those many fears.
Control is the mantra of the self. It seeks control over the body, the home, and ultimately, if possible, the world. The self believes in its position in life, good or bad as it resists and ignores all evidence to the contrary. The self strives to be whole, real, and everlasting.
Seeing all this from a perspective outside the perspective of the self seems impossible, yet we have just done it. It was effortless, when you look with curiosity. Any effort behind any seeing is just another ambition, just another goal, just another thought that came from the self. When you look with curiosity you see from outside the box of self.
The self is the lense we see the world through, yet when we seek to find the self in the center of our being, it is not there.
In the center of the labyrinth there is no-thing at all except the sweet open emptiness which gives a canvas for all of existence. In order to fill a pot with water, first the pot has to have nothing in it. To say the self is empty of thingie-ness is not a denial of our existence, its a clarification of it.
The journey into emptiness is a journey of moving toward humility, and peace and clarity. The journey of seeing this life's attachments for what they are; empty of any lastingness can be a painful one, yet also somehow exhilarating. Learning again and again what we am not is empowering and humbling, at the same time.
The journey is empowering because of how the self is revealed. Sometimes painfully, sometimes profoundly, the self becomes exposed to the light of awareness. Slowly, slowly our inner light shines more brightly as our ambitions are seen for what they are. Step by step all aspects of the self are revealed as we learn that the path toward emptiness is not a path toward nothingness but rather, a path toward everythingness.
When everything is revealed as being empty of permanence, then the great flow of life begins to emerge as the true life force. The vast inter-connectedness and non-duality of our life becomes more and more clear.
I find it interesting that as we walk the labyrinth of our psyche, we are at first making an indelible impression on life. Then at some point when the path and the awareness of the path become one, each step erases the karmic impressions leaving nothing in its wake. Each step becomes an undoing rather than a doing. What was once a path of "shoulds" becomes a path of "coulds". What was a path of heavy-handedness becomes a path of lighthearted joy. The path of discovery has led both nowhere and everywhere.
Finding the center of our being is moving toward the light of life. There is no separate self so it is not "our" life. Finding the light that was there all along is like coming home to the realization that we don't "have" a life, we are life.