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The Great Recognitions

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Who or what is afraid in us?

According to a story, a disciple said to his master:

“Master, I really crave for enlightenment. I want to reach it here and now.”
The master grabbed the disciple’s neck without saying any words, he dragged him to a nearby barrel filled with water and pushed the disciple’s head into it. And the master only pulled the disciple’s head out of the water when he started fighting for his life. The master let him soothe his lungs with vitalizing air. And then he said:
“When your craving for enlightenment is as strong as your need for air was, you will reach it.”

This story may seem quite harsh and violent, but like all Zen stories, this one also points something out. Something that could not be shown in any other way, only in such an aggressive style.
It shows that we can only be really free if we thoroughly wish to reach freedom.

Face your fears, because if you discover their true nature, they vanish without a trace. They may still appear as a passing emotion, but as soon as you realize that the troublemaker has arrived, it goes away… turns into nothing. If you set your sights on your inner demons, you discover that they are nothing more than phantoms.

When you take some time for yourself, you should definitely try this:

Observe yourself and search for what you really are afraid of.
Find a quiet, calm place, where no one can bother you. It is important to be alone, to let off all the pressure built up during the day, to take off the tiring masks and look behind them, to find your true self hiding beneath. It may be distracting for you, when they come up with “important” questions, when you are fighting the demons of your fears and licking your bleeding wounds. (Later on it turns out – of course – that the demons are not real.)

Sit down comfortably and relax. And when you are comfortable enough, deepen your spiritual-physical relaxation by raising your inner awareness and attention.
Take a few deep breaths while you are completely focusing on exhaling and inhaling.
Feel how the air easily, smoothly flows through your nostrils and then after a short while it flows out. Do not influence your breathing; just try to examine it, how effortlessly it is happening.

When you are relaxed and calm enough and you can direct your attention inwards, to your emotions and thoughts, then ask yourself the following questions:
What am I afraid of?
And focus inwards..
If your attention wanders off, calmly ask the question again: What am I afraid of? And wait, patiently, alertly focusing inwards for the answer.

After a while the first thoughts show up: “Because I am oppressed. Because I do not dare to evolve myself. Because others are unfair with me. Because I am not strong enough. Because… Because… Because…” It is unbelievable how many depressing thoughts start swirling in our heads. The inner voice begins to blabber and fills the mind with millions of negative thoughts. We made some thoughts so much our own, we believe their absolute truth so much, that the emotions connecting to them appear immediately.


“I cannot tolerate this unfairness. There is a lump in my throat. 

I cannot put up with what happened to me. I even have digestive problems.
My head feels like it is going to explode from the problems (but in fact, from the thoughts). And I also have a headache.
I cannot bear the weight of these troubles. Oh… and my back also hurts like hell.”

And if you get this far, you are brave. You faced your fears.
But maybe you did not. Maybe you gave up this experience after the first unpleasant thought – because their appearance is uncomfortable, even unbearable. But it is all right.
It is also possible that you did not get yourself to start the experiment, but you read on pursued by your curiosity. Do not worry; this is also perfectly all right.
Allow yourself any reactions that may emerge. The inwards facing, self-examining state of mind works when you let everything come to surface.

Most people spend their entire lives in their heads, where a tyrannical voice (what we mistakenly call self) is always dissatisfied, grumpy, needy, fierce or maybe broken, self-pitying. We hear this voice inside and we think that this voice is us, and we think the thoughts said by this voice.

The great recognitions

Who thinks these thoughts?
“I do” – you could say.
And who is that “I”? 
Reach behind the thoughts, find who is saying and thinking these thoughts. Have you found somebody in yourself who thinks your thoughts?

As you observe the countless thoughts, your suspicion begins to grow:
It is not really you, who thinks the thoughts; you are only their quiet, peaceful observer. The thoughts just simply happen and you know about them.

The thoughts emerge from Nothing, waltz into the middle of your attention, make you believe that they are indeed very important, and then – just as they came – they disappear. A thought disappeared and another takes its place from Nothing, and this thought is connected to the previous one by spontaneous association. Newer and newer thoughts sweep through your mind. They come, waltz in and dissolve. If you are not careful, they may occupy your full attention – you fall into the whirlpool of thoughts.

Make it your habit to observe your thoughts! It can happen that some thoughts carry you away, but do not worry: just grab this roaming thought:

“Hey, here you are. You are just a thought.”

And as soon as you grab this thought you realize that you are conscious again. You step out from the trap of the thought-stream and you are a quiet observer again.

You are the observer of your thoughts.
You could say that they are “your thoughts”, because they appear in your consciousness, but they are short-lived, fluttering phenomena, babbling energy-patterns, with nobody behind them.

You are only an observer.

You let the thoughts appear and go away.
There is no thinking, only observing.
There is no thinking “I”, only an awakened consciousness, in which thoughts appear and waltz out, just like clouds drift away to clean the sky.

The thoughts are just energy-patterns, information in the space of your consciousness. And if you examine them more carefully, you may surprisingly find that they are not even your thoughts, but imaginations, or complicated networks of adopted belief-systems.

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The Author: Ervin K. Kery achieved mindfulness -the pure state of consciousness- after a sudden crash of the ego. Since then he is an enthusiast consciousness researcher, a mindfulness coach, spiritual writer and publisher. More about the author here..Check out the books published by the author here..You can subscribe to our free newsletter and updates here: