As mentioned previously, I recently finished reading The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer. What follows is a summary of my earlier interpretation and summation of the book:
Inside my mind, an internal dialog constantly plays. The words are not truth, but meaningless-chatter, drifting to whatever titillates most. The subject-matter oftentimes paints life as a dismal experience. Yet I am not these words, I am the ever-present listener.
My mind enjoys mulling over problems. If one is solved, another needs to fill its place. I must remember though, that these aren’t my problems, they’re just fodder for my mind to ponder. When I get too wrapped-up in these conundrums, then of course life seems problematic. But with a little distance, I can comfortably appreciate the spectacle.
Amongst all the change in life, there’s a continuity of awareness — a part that keeps on watching. I am this watcher. Thoughts, emotions, and external objects all compete for my attention — and I, I experience life.
I trade full and complete immersion for a farther focus. Instead of believing myself the character on stage, I maintain my perspective as an audience member enjoying the show. I’m aware that I’m watching. And I realize, I’m not as limited as my formerly tight focus led me to believe.
I can’t set conditions and close myself off to life when they aren’t met. Complete enjoyment requires complete acceptance. No matter the scene before me, I must embrace it with openness.
The scenes of life are meant to be experienced in the brief instance I see them — obsessing on a passing part causes problems. Scenes serve to stimulate and delight as they flash by, thus I mustn’t cling lest I stop-up the flow. My role is to relax and appreciate, letting the narrative play out unimpeded.
When I perceive life as dangerous and unpleasant, I try to hide and establish a limited experience. But the ever engaging narrative-of-life sends stimuli to encourage my involvement, yet I interpret these invitations as harassment. I must refrain from focusing my attention on paranoid and pessimistic thoughts lest I invite the dreariness to stay. Therefore, whenever I feel even a bit bothered, I “relax and release”. From this simple little practice, I’m rewarded with an ability to enjoy the experiences of life.
Why do I so willingly accept the premise that life is a precarious predicament in which I must struggle to survive? Am I really under constant threat of doom? It turns out that life is much easier than I assumed. I was just being a scaredy-cat, so of course everything looked hopeless and hostile. Focusing on every little worry tainted my perception and made the world seem miserable. Now whenever I notice negativity I use it as a trigger, reminding me to let go of it, to “relax and release”.
By attempting to hide from what scares me, I’m actually focusing on fear, welcoming it with open arms. If I simply stop fiddling with fear, it’ll go way. I’m only exacerbating my pain by poking it. After all, I’m just the observer — situations come and go but the audience keeps on watching. Things get comfy as I realize there’s nothing to be afraid of, just a spectacle to appreciate.
I had accepted the absurd premise that life was out to get me. Life was horrific, a brutal beast just biding its time until it could pounce. There was no goodness to be had, I was to be punished for some unjust reason. But now I choose to enjoy life — I’m done with my immature imaginings, I’m done fighting against life. There was never any struggle except that which I created for myself. I’ve been carried by life the entire time. Nothing needs to be done, no riddles to solve, no problems to fix. My thoughts are just thoughts, they aren’t a means to figure out life, I must simply trust and follow along.
I’ve been too long lost in a cycle of suffering, all stemming from my over sensitivity to life’s flashing lights. I was caught off-guard to find myself immersed in such a spectacle. Now without fear, I roam in a relaxed-state simply accepting life’s circumstances, enjoying the show. I mustn’t be afraid, but amused. Life is not dismal, but delightful.
Beyond the confines of the mind is a wondrous world. I’d been too-long locked within my limited view that I couldn’t fathom it. All the while, life lovingly attempted to demolish the cell-like structure I built with my nearsighted perspective — yet I desperately defended the walls, so afraid was I of the unknown. To let in the light, I simply allow life to breakdown the barriers — life will reclaim what I don’t maintain.
I’ve only ever looked at life with my shortsightedness, so of course everything appeared beyond reach. Now when I meet a self-imposed limit, I dismiss it and keep going. I trust in life’s benevolence to carry me through (just as it always has, I was simply too lost to appreciate the support).
I am not the thoughts, emotions, or sensory data — I’m the awareness that experiences them. Attempting to hold onto these flickering images results in frustration as the mirage slips through my fingers. Yet when I focus too intensely on these things, I get lost in them — like getting absorbed into a book or movie. I’ll even replay the scenes over and over until I get lost even further. But I no longer want to live as a character I created out of my own confusion. If I simply allow the scenes to pass while maintaining my place in the audience, the struggle ends. I’m not the director — I simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
I can’t grab for happiness, I must let go to get it. I can’t impose a set of requirements that must be met before I’m willing to be happy. I have to accept everything as it is, right now — that’s what happiness is: inexhaustible acceptance. Circumstances don’t matter, perspective does. If I don’t want to be afflicted by drama, then I mustn’t let anything bother me. I can no longer criticize life or apply limits that limit my happiness. Now when I feel discomfort developing, I let go, enjoying the experience of existing.
Strain and anxiety are not essential ingredients of existence. I need not live a life riddled with dilemmas. Life doesn’t have to be interpreted as a tragedy. When I simply watch and appreciate, I can know contentment. I must leave whatever happens where it happens, not carry it into the next moment. I give significance to a scene whenever I follow the path of outrage — the actual problem was my overreaction. I must trust and believe in life’s benevolent nature. Without suspiciousness, I react to experiences in a comfortable way. From here, life looks decent after all.
When I contemplate the brevity of life, little-things lose their importance. Instantaneously, my perspective shifts when faced with the nearness of death, demonstrating the superficiality of the so-called significant. My task here is living life, experiencing humanness. And what death provides, is the limited-supply that makes existence more valuable.
It takes effort to push myself out of balance — so to achieve balance, I simply stop pushing. I don’t want to maintain a litany of preferences, I want life to keep providing just as it always has. Life supplies the entertaining content and I appreciatively consume it — that’s the balance I seek. Life doesn’t come with instructions simply because they’re unnecessary, I only need to watch.
When I identify with the watcher rather than the character, the intensity of the spectacle lessens, worldly worries fade. I’m no longer jumping out of my seat to yell at the presentation. I respectfully observe while the narrative unfolds, giving the author the benefit-of-the-doubt, trusting it’ll be a good show, and appreciating the effort involved with creating such a grand production. I’m no longer so intensely focused on my own character as I take in the entire stage and everyone on it. The lights, the sounds, the laughs, the action, the drama, the mystery, the suspense — it’s all there. The magic of the live performance is electrifying. It was merely a misunderstanding for me to ever think life was anything but a delightful adventure in which I’m an integral part.