Everything you define yourself as is an image. Behind that is not a better version of yourself.– Adyashanti
I couldn’t help laughing out loud when I read this. As so often, it’s funny because it’s true.
Everything I define myself as is an image. Everything I define anyone or anything as is an image.
And behind that image isn’t a better version of me or any version of me. Behind it is the silent awake mystery that everything – all my experience of myself, others, the world – happens within and as.
There is always a lot more to say about this.
My mind creates an overlay of images and words on my sensory experiences to make sense of it all. These images and words sort the world into me (this human self) and the wider world, and then continues sorting and creating labels and identifications on just about everything. This is essential for us to be able to orient and function in the world. We wouldn’t be here as individuals or a species unless the mind did this.
And yet, these images and words are questions about the world. Suggestions. If we take them as anything more, we misguide and mislead ourselves and create stress and suffering for ourselves and others (we serve as triggers for this in others). They are not complete since what they refer to are different from, more (far more qualities, characteristics, and fluidity), and less (silent mystery) than our words and images.
We can know this to some extent and understand it intellectually. And any time something in us is triggered – any time there is a charged reaction to something – it shows us that something in us doesn’t quite get it yet. That’s OK. It’s natural. It’s the human condition. And it’s good to be aware of.
And if we are so inclined, we can explore what’s happening through inquiry, parts work, energy healing, or any other approach we have access to and find helpful. For me, Living Inquiries (based on Buddhist inquiry), parts work (Voice Dialog, Big Mind process) and Vortex Healing, are the approaches I use most right now.
This is funny because it’s phrased in a slightly surprising way, and it’s true.
What we define ourselves as is inevitably an image. What we define anything as is an image, and it’s not what we or anyone or anything else really are.
When we take the image for ourselves, others, anything, we are out of alignment with reality and create suffering for ourselves (and function as a trigger for suffering in others).
And when we recognize the image as an image – created by our own mind so we can function in the world, and that what it refers to is not the image and is different from and both more and less than the image – then we hold it more lightly and it creates less or no suffering for us or others. (What the image refers to is not adequately depicted by the image. It’s not the image. It’s more than the image in that we only know a fraction of what it is. And it’s less than the image since what it is can be described as wordless mystery.)
When we realize this, we may hope or think that behind this image is a better version of ourselves. And that’s not the case. We may notice that although there is a being here – this human self that thinks, feels, acts, is in relationships, and functions in the world – there is no “I” that can be placed on this human self or anything else. It’s all happening on its own. It’s all the One, or we can say it’s Spirit or the divine. And more honestly – wordless mystery.