Recognize the self – the self which is not the ego, the self which has nothing of the ego in it. Hindu mystics have called it the atman. Buddha has given it a totally different name, not only different but diametrically opposite: he has called it anatta, no-self.
The self is a no-self, because there is no ego in it. To be an ego is to fall from your reality – the original sin. The self is not the ego, absolutely not; it is not personal, either. It is misleading to speak of “my self.” The self is universal. The moment you say “my self” you have lost track of the universal and you have become small. Now you will feel suffocated; you have created the suffocation yourself.
The self, the real self, the supreme self, is beyond any person, identification, form, process, position. But they all arise in it and dissolve in it – it is the ocean. The self is the space in which everything appears and disappears. That space has to be found within yourself. Don’t get identified with any content, otherwise the ego arises.
For example, there is sadness surrounding you. Immediately you become identified, you say, “I am sad.” That is stupid, unintelligent, you are unaware, you don’t know what you are saying. You are not the sadness, you are the witness. Sadness is there, but you are separate from it: you are the knower of it.
Say, “I am seeing that sadness surrounds me,” but don’t say, “I am sad.” Anger is there, but don’t say, “I am anger,” or “I am angry.” Simply say, “There is anger, I can see it is there.” Anger is the content of your consciousness, it is not the consciousness itself. Consciousness is the space, the witnessing space.
This is the revolution, if you forget the content and remember the consciousness. Two things are continuously happening in you: the content and consciousness. A thought passes through your mind and you become identified with it; you say, “I am it.” If you are hungry, you say, “I am hungry.”
Please be a little more aware: say, “I watch, I am a witness, that the body is feeling hungry.”
When you have eaten well and you feel satiated, don’t say, “I am satiated.” Again, remember.
Because of our ignorance we have created a wrong kind of language too. We say, “I am satiated.”
You were never hungry and you are never satiated. Hunger was a content, so is satiation. Sadness was a content, so is happiness.
This mindfulness Sufis call zikr, remembrance. Buddha has called it “mindfulness, right awareness.”
Just go on cutting yourself off from the content. Slowly, slowly, the bridge is broken. The day you recognize the fact that you are never the content but always the consciousness, you have arrived home.
The English word ‘contemplation’ is very beautiful; it comes from a root ‘tem’. ‘Tem’ means ‘to cut off’. From the same root comes ‘temple’; that too is beautiful. ‘Temple’ means that which cuts you off from the world, and ‘contemplation’ means the process of cutting yourself off from the mind, from the content. Identification is the fall: you become Adam, you are expelled. Through dis-identification, cutting yourself off from the mind and its contents, you become Christ. You are no longer outgoing, the inner journey has started. Adam has turned towards the source, is returning home. The self arises out of identification, self with a lower-case s arises out of identification. Self with a capital S arises out of dis-identification. And this is the whole art of religion.
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Here you can listen to the discourse excerpt Forget the Content.