We are not our thoughts. We are the unchanging, that which observes the coming and going of feelings and thoughts. Remaining clear about our true nature requires the willingness to question and challenge thoughts. I have found that personifying troublesome thoughts as “demons” can be a helpful tool. It immediately sets me apart from them, and casts me as an epic warrior – much more empowering than a victim!
When the demons of despair, fear or anger arise, threatening to pull me out of peaceful equanimity, I keep these three principals in mind:
1) Know that they are demons. In other words, they are not you. They are separate from you. They are forces that oppose clear vision of What Is. Reminding yourself of this sets you at great advantage. If you say aloud, “I know what you’re up to, I see you, etc.,” they are greatly discouraged right from the start. Their greatest strength lies in disguising themselves as your own thoughts.
2) Remind yourself that nothing they say is the truth. They are master sophists, using your intellect to persuade you that something is terribly wrong. Don’t listen to them. Without your attention and interest, they lose much of their power, and begin to visit less frequently.
3) Remember that they and their world are not real. Not only are all their statements false, they themselves are made of dream. And the world they show you – this material world – and all the problems they point out in it, are equally illusory. You are abiding in truth. Don’t allow prodding from illusory dark forces, telling of troubles in an illusory world, to draw you away from truth, from the knowledge that you are eternal. You are the unbound, unborn and untouched.
It takes some work to keep these things in mind, as demons, petty and great, will continually strive to pull you back into the story, and we are in the habit of giving them audience. But with practice, you’ll find that troublesome thoughts and painful feelings arise less and less often.
The Upanishads characterize enlightenment as the state of being “steady in wisdom.” It is not about reaching the blissful state of samadhi, or having profound excursions into transcendent realms. These experiences are only helpful insofar as the insights they afford help us to abide in peace. Be steady in wisdom, rejecting the illusory reality and lies of dark thoughts, dark forces, mischievous “demons.”
Be steady in wisdom, and abide in the ever brightening light of truth.
Kathleen Sutherland is a student of The Living Method, and editor of ACN. She lives in Iowa.