Imagine being in a movie-theatre watching a movie. If when the characters in the movie have scary encounters, you feel scared, you have identified with the movie. You have projected your sense of self onto the movie.
You feel a headache. It is a sensation but you do not look at it just as a sensation rather you begin to tense up against the sensation. This tension actually makes the pain you feel worse and this in turn makes you tense up the more. The ultimate result is a terrible headache. You have identified with the sensation. In similar ways, you can be identified with your thought and emotion.
To identify means to “make same.” When you are identified with your mind, you are unconscious. You unconsciously treat various aspects of your experience as though they constitute yourself.
Most people are identified with their thoughts. “My thoughts are driving me crazy!” That is because you think you are your thoughts. Then your mind has taken control over you. Your thoughts then confuse, frustrate, overwhelm, and even torture you. You just wish you had an OFF button for your mind.
Your mind is not really the problem. The mind is a tool, a wonderful instrument. It is as a result of your mind that you understand what you are reading right now. The mind is a wonderful servant but a destructive master. Do not make an enemy of the mind. It is not the problem. The problem is that you do not know how to handle the mind. If you cannot drive a car, driving a car will be such a big feat to you. But for those who can drive, it is a simple thing to do. Being in control of your mind may be such a hard thing for you to do. If this is the case, it is simply because you do not know how. To be in control of your mind is actually simple.
The solution to your thought driving you crazy is not in trying to get rid of your thought. This is because it is not really the thought that causes unhappiness but your identification with it. When you are identified with your thought, you have claimed that thought to be you. No matter how good or bad your picture on your Voters card or International passport is, the picture is not you. Just as you are not that picture, you are not your thought. Thoughts come and go, they change. But you always are. When you identify with your thoughts you suffer. This is because thoughts are not stable, they are temporary and fleeting. You cannot identify with what is unstable and fleeting and experience joy.
You do not need your thought to be but your thought needs you to exist. They need your cooperation in order to become a full blown belief. They need you to give them power. What is this power they need? Your attention. When you stop giving power to your thoughts through your attention, you cut off energy supply to your thoughts like unplugging a television.
All your life you have been identifying with things: your body, family, house, car, clothes, beliefs, career, and others. You cannot have peace when you are identified with all these. It is like trying to apply brakes when your leg is still on the throttle. Your mind has gone haywire due to your identification with things.
We identify with things; we identify with emotions; we identify with thoughts.
Why is it so hard to detach from our thoughts? Because we mistake them for who/what we are. It is how a parasite exists in nature. It tricks the host into thinking that it is part of itself, and so no alarm bells go off. If you think something is you, then you simply accept it and the matter is closed.
But what we forget is that thoughts are made of language. And language must be learned – and learning takes time. And so, for the first few months of your existence, you had no awareness of thoughts and you existed perfectly well! This can mean only one thing: You are NOT your Thoughts! However, simply agreeing with this statement doesn’t alleviate suffering. Why? Because the understanding is still intellectual, still conceptual. It must be seen directly, for oneself, in one’s own experience for the understanding to penetrate into one’s being and to be lived.
When we believe our thoughts we suffer. Peace happens spontaneously when the addiction to identifying with one’s thoughts is broken.1
If you do not disidentify from things now, you will be forced to do so when death comes knocking. Death will surely strip you naked. You will see clearly that your house, car, clothes, and others are transients; they are not permanent. Who you are however is permanent. So, death is the one thing that will knock you out of your identifications if you do not disidentify from things now.
What is it that hurts you? You are identified with your mind.
- Michael Jeffreys, Want Peace? Stop Identifying with your thoughts, Collective Evolution, www.collective-evolution.com/2014/04/24/want-peace-stop-identifying-with-your-thoughts, Accessed June 14, 2017.
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