Ola: Good evening Uche.
Uche: Good evening Ola. How are you doing?
Ola: I am fine. And you?
Uche: All is well.
Ola: I decided to pay you a visit today to see you as well as have a discussion with you.
Uche: Well, you have seen me, so we can go into the discussion. What do you want us to discuss about?
Ola: It is about pain. I see a lot of people carrying so much pain in their lives. Some hide it within them and pretend they have no pain. Some others manifest it in their lives by hating, being disrespectful, unforgiving, and so on. I want to know, what can we say is the cause of pain at the fundamental level?
Uche: At the fundamental level, pain is as a result of identification with the mind or what we can simply call mind identification.
Ola: Mind identification. What does that mean?
Uche: The mind is a wonderful tool man has. You are presently using your mind to make sense of what I am saying now. You also use your mind to think. You see, the mind is a wonderful tool or instrument. As a tool it is man’s servant. With the use of the mind, man has been able to accomplish many things. But the problem arises when the mind instead of being a servant becomes the master.
Ola: How then can it turn out to be master?
Uche: The mind becomes the master due to the unconsciousness of the person.
Ola: Unconsciousness? Do you mean like when someone is asleep?
Uche: Not sleep as you know it. By unconsciousness I mean lack of presence in the moment. As we speak, we are here right now and in this moment I am speaking. If in this moment you are not present because your mind has wondered to somewhere else – past or future – thinking in the process, and you are not aware of this happening, then you are unconscious.
Ola: I see what you mean by that. But what you mean by mind identification is still not clear to me.
Uche: As a result of unconsciousness, the mind is the master in many people’s lives. It is from the mind that thoughts come. The word identify means “make the same.” So what I mean by mind identification is one not seeing oneself as separate from one’s mind. In other words, one sees oneself as being one with one’s mind.
Now you have to understand how the mind works especially in unconscious people. The mind functions with the use of time – past and future. It ceases to function when you are present in the moment. The mind flies to the past to get some identity or the future for fulfillment. It keeps escaping the present moment because it does not find it satisfying.
Ola: How does this bring about pain?
Uche: The mind is what we use in thinking. When you are unconscious, what your mind mostly produces is what is usually called negative thoughts. It does this by resisting what is, judging and resenting the present moment. The effect of this is felt in the body. That is what is called emotion. Emotion is where your mind and your body meet. In other words, emotion is the reflection of the thought of your mind on your body.
Ola: I think this makes sense to me. So the thought we have produces the feeling in the body.
Uche: Yes. So when you begin to experience the feeling of fear, anxiety, worry, it is because your mind is thinking, thereby, producing the feeling and you, instead of putting an end to the destructive working of the mind, identify with the mind. So you believe whatever thought is going on in the mind and you have the corresponding feeling.
Let us say a woman is 33 years old and not married. Marriage is something good but the woman as a being is whole and does not need a man to be joyful and be at peace. With the woman’s mind conditioned by the society, thus believing she ought to be married now, her mind resists the present moment. And what does her mind do? It flies to the past and sees “mistakes,” then to the future to find “loneliness.” The woman identified with her mind believes what her mind is telling her. So she judges the present moment and labels it unacceptable. Her thoughts then produce emotion – anxiety and worry – which she feels in her body. Fear, anxiety, worry and any other negative emotion is what I call pain. That is how pain is produced.
Ola: I see. Does pain have a solution?
Uche: Yes. There is a way out of pain. It is consciousness.
Ola: Could you explain that?
Uche: Consciousness is being present in the Now, the present moment. The mind always needs time – past and future – to function. The mind and time are inseparable. But when you are conscious, you have entered the timeless. You cannot be present in the moment and at the same time your mind goes to the past or future. In other words, you cannot be present in the Now and thinking at the same time. Just as darkness cannot withstand light, thinking cannot withstand Presence.
Ola: How can you be present in the Now?
Uche: By becoming the watcher. First let me say that thoughts actually grow. A small thought tries to get your attention using subtle means. Once it gets your attention, you have given it power and it grows to a bigger thought. As the thought grows bigger, the emotion it produces increases in intensity. So your thought produces the emotion and the emotion feeds the thought. You can call this the thought-emotion loop. You break this loop by stopping thinking. And you stop thinking by being present in the moment. You can become present in the moment and break the patterns of your mind by becoming the watcher of your thought. When that negative thought comes up, be still and watch it. Do not judge or resent the thought. Doing so means that your mind is at work and you just may end up giving your attention to the thought thus feeding it.
Be still and watch the thought. Be aware of the thought and be aware of the watcher of the thought. By doing this you have brought Presence to thought. And what happens to the thought? It dissolves. Thought cannot stand the light of presence.
Ola: You gave an instance of a 33-year old unmarried woman. How does she apply this to get rid of her pain?
Uche: When that negative thought comes, she should be still and watch the thought. With presence she would realize that she is neither her thought nor her feeling. Once she is conscious of her feeling and she brings her presence to it, the light of her presence dissolves the feeling. In her presence her mind is powerless. Her mind can only possess her in her absence, when she is unconscious.
Ola: So once you are present, pain, whether in the form of fear, anxiety, or worry dissolves.
Uche: Correct. Pain cannot survive in your presence. It needs time – past or future – to survive. Your mind goes to the past and asks, “What could I have done differently?” Before you know it, you have regrets. It flies to the future and asks, “What could go wrong?” And then you have anxiety. You are here now but your mind is in the future. That creates an anxiety gap. You can always cope with the present moment but you cannot cope with an imaginary future.
The pain of the 33-year old unmarried woman is that she is trying to cope with the future which is her imagination. Her imagination is not real and yet it is filled with negativity. Also she has been conditioned by her past – her unmarried past – and she has identified with it. What she does not know is that the past and future do not exist.
Ola: As far as the reason for which I wanted us to have this discussion is concerned, I am satisfied. But you really have to explain what you mean by the past and future not existing. I mean, I have my past. I know what I did yesterday. And we are going into the future. Tomorrow will come and it will be future. Why then do you say they do not exist?
Uche: What you call past is actually a memory trace and the future you are referring to is your imagination.
When you experienced the past, did you experience it as the past or the present moment?
Ola: Of course, I experienced it as the present moment, the Now.
Uche: When the future comes, will you experience it as the future or the Now?
Ola: As the Now.
Uche: So you see, the past was experienced in the Now and the future will be experienced in the Now. Presently, we are experiencing the Now. The Now therefore is eternal. All we ever have is Now. The past and future do not exist.
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