See the smoke and get out
What modern psychology is mostly concerned with is to bring people from a dysfunctional self to a healthy one.
When there is a healthy self, the organism can fit better in society and can be a productive member.
An unhealthy self, on the other hand, can be very disruptive. It generates a lot of mind activity that continuously calls for attention.
It manifests as a sense that there is something wrong, something to figure out, something to complain or worry about.
This state of mind, that creates the story of a miserable me, makes the individual very self conscious and it can deplete a lot of life energies, easily leading into depression.
To ease the suffering created but this kind of internal dialogue, psychology tries to create a more functional self.
Spiritual traditions, instead, focus on transcending it altogether.
Transcendence is the process by which the self is let go of, so that awareness can abide with the natural essence of the mind.
In religions this has been called: finding God, Buddha Nature, the Great Tao, etc.
This is generally considered the end of suffering, as the self, the source of psychological suffering, disappears.
When you transcend the self, where do you go?
You reside in emptiness, the space that allows thoughts, feelings, sensations or perceptions, the content of the your mind, to be.
This state, which comes before thoughts, and that cannot really be described in words,
is the empty nature of the mind.
It is always there, but it is forgotten, as we usually only pay attention to content.
We fail to notice the unchangeable space in which everything happens.
When awareness rests in this space, you become: "aware of being aware."
In this state, your usual sense of self, which for most people is a story, hence thoughts, disappears.
This state is beyond all experiences and cannot be understood by the mind, but it is possible to get a sense of it when you shift your attention from content to space.
As you are reading this, can you also be aware of the space in which your experience is unfolding?
Where are the words that you are reading in your mind? Can you "see" the space that contains them?
If so, you are experience the empty nature of your mind.
When it comes to transcendence, what is the difference between trying to go past a predominately healthy sense of self versus an unhealthy one?
A healthy sense of self is undoubtedly easier to transcend.
It is less sticky. It is easier to let go of your satisfaction, contentment and happy thoughts. There is not much to think about when you enjoyed something, when something made you feel good.
The trap here is that you seldom inquire into self-transcendence, as the push to let go of your story is not that strong.
It is a dream with a pleasant content.
The need to see the dream as the dream is not as urgent.
As everything changes, sooner or later you will have to deal with its impermanence anyway.
Even happy stories come to an end.
If you have not made friends with the empty space that transcends all stories, this can create a lot of suffering.
On the other hand, when you are in the unhappy self, thoughts of dissatisfaction, resentments, unworthiness, sadness, make the dream very unpleasant.
With more suffering, you may feel the need to get out of the nightmare and the best solution is to wake up.
But it is hard to do so. Why?
Resistance prevents it.
Instead of waking up, you are trying to change the dream. So you get trapped there. Your awareness gets sucked in a lower state of consciousness. You get lost in a thick layer of thoughts and emotional pain that reacts to what is.
This completely absorbs all your attention, and you become incapable of resting your attention in pure awareness anymore.
The ego has taken over.
The bigger the resistance, the bigger the ego and the harder is to let go.
Most people live in this condition all the time because gives them a strong, but false, sense of identity, of me against something.
You can be against a situation, a person, something that happened, the government, and even the weather. A terrible place to dwell in.
In an analogy, if you are in a room and you see smoke coming in, but you are still able to breath comfortably, you may not feel the need to get out urgently.
In case you decide to get out, it is easy to see where the door is, as the smoke is yet not too thick.
If the smoke gets denser and you start having troubles breathing, all you want is to get out.
But with more smoke, it’s harder to find the door.
Best is to get accustomed to see the smoke early and get out when it is still easy.
Otherwise life most likely will bring you to a situation where it will be more painful
(but more urgent) to do so.
Because in the end, what we are here for is to learn how to transcend our stories and reside in the open space of awareness.
Our deepest nature.
How do I know this?
Because when you are there,
what got you there becomes secondary,
you feel like nothing else
is needed to be done,
and all is