Man in stripey top with small hat

You do not have a hat size or a birthday

In Coaching, Counselling and Personal Development, Insight and Experience, Insight and Self Awareness by John PtacekLeave a Comment

That voice in your head, the one that tells you to:

  • Hit the snooze bar one more time
  • Spit off the roof of a tall building
  • Gossip about a coworker
  • Stop living in the past
  • Have one more cookie
  • Become more spiritual

You know, that voice.

When you think about it, though, it’s not really a voice, is it? Unless you’ve gone completely mad, you don’t really hear a voice. It’s more appropriate to say that you are aware of the thoughts parading through your mind. You call it a voice because it personalises this naturally occurring process, because it creates the notion of a ‘me’, a doer, someone having thoughts, someone calling the shots.

But that’s not what happens. There’s no one calling any shots. There is no ‘me’. ‘Me’ is just another thought flitting through your mind. ‘Me’ is the thought you have never considered to be a thought, perhaps until this very moment. You have been under the impression that you were directing your thoughts, when all the time you were a thought.

In a police line-up consisting of the following subjects holding numbers to their chests…

1. Hit the snooze bar one more time
2. Spit off the roof of a tall building
3. Gossip about a coworker
4. Stop living in the past
5. Have one more cookie
6. Become more spiritual
7. Me

…you would likely identify subjects 1-6 as thoughts, and subject 7 would get a free pass. You would assume that ‘me’ is the person on the other side of the two-way glass, the one identifying subjects 1-6 as thoughts. However, there were actually seven thoughts in the line-up, because ‘me’ is just another thought.

Got it? Okay, now that you know the correct answer, let’s try this exercise again. The above subjects appear in a police line-up holding numbers to their chests.

How many are thoughts? All seven, you say? Correct.

Now, who is it on the other side of the two-way glass making this observation?

If ‘me’ is standing in the line-up holding up number 7, then who sees this? Who is aware of this? How could you possibly be in two places at once?

Well, you can’t. The ‘me’ standing next to ‘become more spiritual’ is an imposter. It’s a thought pretending to be you. You are the one peering through the glass, aware that ‘me’ is just another thought.

You are not a ‘who’. You are more of a ‘what’.

You are awareness, not a person who is aware, but awareness itself – formless, borderless, disembodied awareness. You do not have a hat size or a birthday. You do not have friends or fall in love. You never need a haircut. You exist beyond the world of form. You are the field of awareness in which forms appear. Strip away the false identities you have accumulated since childhood – all derived from the thought ‘me’, the great imposter – and awareness is what remains.

Awareness is your true nature, your core. You are the light of awareness illuminating all that is, including the thoughts parading through your mind.

You are aware before a thought appears. You are aware when a thought passes by. You are aware when a thought disappears. Thoughts come and go, but you remain as the inextinguishable flame of awareness in which they are revealed.

About the author

John Ptacek

John Ptacek’s essays explore the unquestioned assumptions that limit our capacity for happiness. They appear on his website, John lives in Wisconsin with his wife Kitty.

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