I experienced an unexpected dip in mood since last week’s Camino journey. As indicated, I released myself from much pain of my critical mind while walking in Spain and the experience of ‘full absorption’ brought great inner freedom. But, I returned to impulsive judgements as I settled into my routine in Dublin. A bad habit distorted my peaceful state and I had to execute a recovery plan to get me back on track. At the same time, I had a desire to let non-judgemental presence become part of my ordinary life, not just confined to a moment or two. I wanted something more.
I noticed a pattern arising within my being through attentiveness to my core insight or wisdom. On the one hand, I reacted to my daily experiences with a critical voice of judgement that went like “fuck”, “errr” and “ouch”, causing pain and suffering. On the other hand, I responded to my daily experiences with a gentle voice of observation that went like “ah”, “ok” and “wow”, bringing peace and tranquillity. For example, I could say “ah” to myself when I realised something new about my friend or “ok” when I was a bit startled with a harsh reality of life or “wow” when I saw the sunset coming home from work. It seems the inner observer does have a voice after all!
Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle refers to a pain body as a heavy entity of unconscious negative memory stored in our body, and we can react to other people’s pain bodies, inflicting pain and hurt on each other without any sense of awareness or enlightenment. It seems as though the inner critic and the pain body are intimately interlinked, the source of both being the same unconscious negative stuff. We can free ourselves from suffering by letting the critical mind – with its foul language – disintegrate in a state of explicit consciousness and seeing the real beauty of the observing mind – with its non-offensive language – choosing to embody it and mindfully returning to it again and again.
If my Camino gift of ‘full absorption’ is to be of lasting value, I must commit to the inner observer each day. This gentle voice accepts the totality of experience with equanimity for the good, bad and in-between. We can freely allow it to take over our lives without any reservation because it simply and profoundly gives witness to life just as it is. We are children of the universe and we truly exist in the present, not by painfully clinging to the past or future. That, I believe, in all that we are, gives us real presence and authenticity.