I recently shared this experience of self-observation, awareness and the elimination of the egos that occurred and that I was was lucky enough to have at a spiritual retreat — it left an impression that stayed with me for a very long time. Below is a related experience — a continuation, if you will, of my learning from that incident.
That particular experience left me with such an impression and a very good feeling, but also with the strong want to recreate it so I could experience it again.
I didn’t realize back then that I can’t create anything really; all I can do is try to do the best I can with the practices that I knew, and hopefully as Belsebuub says in one of his article, put the ingredients together correctly so I could “bake the cake” and hopefully it would rise.
Well, in the case of the awareness, self-observation, and elimination of the egos technique I made the mistake of trying to recreate the experience exactly as it happened that one particular time.
And so, when I would try to be aware in my awareness attempts, I would only go off ‘what I thought’ could make that experience reappear again, and I would only be doing ‘what I thought‘ could make the experience of seeing the egos so clearly and eliminate it so easily.
I know that sounds funny, but what started to happen was that I subconsciously started to compare just about every practice of self-observation and awareness I attempted to do to that one ‘special practice’ I had at the spiritual retreat.
It became a trap as unwittingly as I tried the self-observation practice, I was internally seeing if what I was doing was shaping up to that one gift of gold, and somehow, I never could manage to get back to the same level of awareness.
I tried to recreate the practice exactly like I thought I had done it that day, but I started to try too hard, then I started to doubt myself.
Over time I was starting to get nowhere as my approach to awareness became stuck in the mind due to this ego, which in the back of my mind was comparing my practices with each other.
This lead to the practices becoming more mental and more mechanical.
So much so that one time, my wife and I went for a walk and as I set off, I was pretty determined to crack the awareness that day and so I tried my best to be aware, and as we walked along my wife started to laugh at me! She giggled and with a smile she said: “Steve! What are you doing? You look like a robot! Just be natural, the awareness isn’t like that.”
I was a bit confused! ‘I needed to try to be aware’ I thought, and I responded to her “I’m trying to be aware..”
I wasn’t fully conscious that whilst trying to be aware I was comparing my attempts to that practice at the retreat and this went on for a long time, years to be truthful. It’s not that I didn’t have a little breakthrough here and there, but mostly I was mentally, just mentally, comparing most of my awareness attempts to what had happened at the retreat, which never allowed me to experience the moment as it was.
It was a very tricky ego of the mind which was not really all that obvious, but luckily I finally got some much needed help to see what was going on, and help to understand that there was a problem with the way I was approaching the awareness which has helped a lot.
Now I just try to start from where I’m at and try to trust that what I’m experiencing right now is an experience and that although it may not be as special as that amazing experience I had at the retreat, it is where I’m at now and it will start from there.
It’s interesting because mentally I thought that to use the elimination of the ego technique properly I had to “see” the ego just like I did in that experience back at the retreat, but it’s really not like that and it shows the mind trying to dictate what is an experience and what isn’t a real experience and in doing so deceiving me as the egos don’t want to be removed.
But luckily I’ve seen that the inner work isn’t like the way I thought it was and can be done starting from where I’m at, without having to think that I need to be at some super level of consciousness which I’m simply not at, or achieve a certain level of awareness to be able to do it! Ouch! The mind is rife with those deceptive egos, I saw how I could build up a mental image of what I think I need to do to get the work going but that mental image may not be a correct one.