Days of Our Discontent — Finding Answers

Finding Answers

Last week I wrote about how adversity in my life brought me to awakening about three years ago, and not surprisingly, the article struck a chord with many. Most of us are rather too familiar with discontent.

I’ve been through many cycles of examining my life-situation, as I’m sure you have too.  And of course during those times many of us feel worry, anxiety, fear, disappointment, hopelessness, defeat, and exhaustion. We want to be fitter, richer, more attractive, more effective, more energetic, younger, stronger, more respected, and more decisive. Maybe we want to save the world, Or just get past a little speed bump.

Sometimes we get inspired, maybe by religion, spirituality, self-improvement, positive thinking, motivational affirmations, the latest new age fad, the latest guru, the latest diet, the latest secretive secret on making money, having relationships, influencing others, getting  over something…

Sometimes we succeed. But the success is always effortful, temporary and specific. Pretty soon we’ve forgotten or we’re back to the same old thing.

And after a  time, we decide this is just the way it is. This is what it means to be human. This whole pattern repeats, for months, years, decades—even a lifetime.

This is the way it was for me.

Three years ago, for reasons that I don’t fathom, I was ready, and I had the simple insight that the entire problem is my deep identification with my mind.

The identification with the mind is a horrible burden, but since almost everyone carries this burden, we see it as normal. It doesn’t occur to us that it is entirely optional. The identification with the mind is why thought is so compulsive. It is also what creates a false sense of self—the ego, or the shadow self–which knows only fear. The incessant mind chatter prevents us seeing that we are Essence, Source, Stillness, free of fear and sadness. The mind is grasping—it grasps on to feeling, which otherwise would be just be short-lived intuitive messages—and builds them into something we have come to call emotions, which live on in the bodies for lifetimes. The mind is conditioning—always stale, automatic and uncreative. And it is this identification with the mind that keeps us trapped in the world of fear and sadness.

If you went to your doctor and told her you hear someone’s voice in your head, the doctor would be a little concerned. And yet, most of us go around with the voice of the ego in our heads. The voice in our heads is someone else’s voice; more accurately, it is something else’s voice. It is the voice of the false mind-made self we have created. We have come to believe it is our own voice.

This realization that ‘I am not thought’ is the beginning of the unravelling of the illusion. This is the beginning of awakening.

A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe’; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison.”


And what is awakening? Awakening is awakening out of the world of fear and sadness. It is waking up from the mind and ego and into a state of natural awareness. J. Krishnamurti says it’s the “Awakening of Intelligence.” Leonard Jacobson says, “To awaken simply means to awaken out of the world of the thinking mind into the world of the present moment.”  Buddha said succinctly: Enlightenment is the end of suffering. It is re-discovering the joy of being. It is a fundamental shift in consciousness out from the delusions of the mind. It is broadening of perspective beyond the mind. It is the letting go of rubbish. It is flow.

The biggest barrier to awakening is the belief that it is something rare.


In many circles it’s fashionable to present awakening as a big-bang event—something very accomplished and spiritual.  My experience with it is very different. It is not a firecracker that goes off once. It is a gradual thing. There is nothing at all accomplished, intellectual or selective about awakening. It is everyone’s birthright. Awakening is simply being as natural as we can be.

The Two Step Dance of Awakening – Awareness and Release

Enlightenment is, in the end, nothing more than the natural state of being.


First: Find a release technique which resonates with you. Try the beyond-karma Release technique, or the Sedona Method, or EFT. Releasing helps free us of depression, anxiety, the past, and limiting beliefs.

Second: Find an awareness technique which resonates. All awareness techniques lead to a gentle, unoccupied watchfulness. We can call this many things: Awareness Now, effortless meditation, natural being, being present, no-mind, zazen, dhyana, ch’an, Zen, and many other Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese, Kaballah, Sufi, Gnostic , and non-duality terms. Why complicate it? It is Awareness.

Release and Awareness. Awareness and Release.


The mind may accept or deny that you are awareness, but either way it can’t really understand. It cannot comprehend. Thought cannot comprehend what is beyond thought. – Adyashanti


Start listening to the voice in your head. This is “watching the thinker.”

Without getting involved in the story of thoughts, notice. Be there as a witnessing presence. Don’t judge or condemn or analyze. Just observe.

You will realize soon: there is a thought and there I am. Or there is the voice and here I am. I am witnessing the thought. This is “I am” realization is not the mind.

Observe thoughts, as a witness, without getting drawn into the stories, and soon there will be space between thoughts. The spaces will widen. Continue to observe, and thoughts will diminish.

The space between thought is awareness. This may take a little practice in the beginning, because we are conditioned to an autopilot thinking mode. But with a little practice, the effort goes away, and we can be in “effortless meditation” the whole time, aware of where attention is. Thoughts happen, and awareness is aware of thoughts coming and going. They are passing clouds against the sky. Emotions happen, and awareness is aware that an emotion is a body-senstation, a feeling-message, assocatied with a thought-story, and seen this way, awareness can easily let go of any emotion. It is a clear-seeing.


I like talking about Releasing.

It’s hard to point out, in words, that we are identified with thought and limiting beliefs—it’s hard to see that, and even when we can intellectually admit to that, it’s difficult to convey what stillness feels like.

It’s so much easier to talk about release because releasing is immediate. It makes us feel better right away! Our egos are quite deft at chasing dead-end paths and they can have us believe all sorts of beliefs, but even the most conniving egos can admit they grasp onto unnecessary emotions and mental constructions.

Letting go is a good place to start.

It’s very natural. It’s easy because we have always known it. It’s just a matter of remembering how to let go. And when we remember, we see it is so natural that it actually takes effort to not let go.

Start with practicing letting go of hurtful emotions.

The release that works best for me:

Many “spiritual” teachings point to “acceptance/gratitude/forgiveness/non-attachment/surrender” as important, sometimes critical steps, and I agree, but in the mind sometimes it’s difficult to know how to apply these. I’ve come to see that Releasing naturally leads to acceptance, gratitude, non-attachment, forgiveness and surrender.

Forgiveness for example can become a superior sort of forgiving; gratitude can become an appeal for reward; acceptance can become a reluctant tolerance; non-attachment can become apathy or suppression of compassion; and surrender can become giving up.

Releasing–letting go of emotions, beliefs, and mental constructions–naturally lead to these, without the mind getting in the way.

Obstacles to Awakening

“All negativity is resistance. … Its only ‘useful’ function is that it strengthens the ego, and that is why the ego loves it. … You will then ignore, deny, or sabotage the positive in your life. This is a common phenomenon. It is also insane.”  -Eckhart Tolle

So what is it that allows us to see that the greatest obstacle is the deep identification we have with our minds?

There’s an old story of a student who asks his master when he will get enlightenment, and the master takes the young student to bathe in the Ganges. He holds him under water until the student fights and struggles and trashes, and finally shoots up, gasping for air. The parable is to tell us that we must want awakening as badly as the drowning boy wanted air.

But it isn’t really true. What we want as much as the boy wants air is to continue clinging to the mind, to continue clinging beliefs and ideas and our version of reality—as desperately as the drowning boy wanted air. When we can loosen this clinging to thinking, we find the strong intention to awaken is already in us. It always was. We have a strong intention to be natural again because it’s the most natural thing in the world. We don’t need to cultivate an intention; what we need is a willingness to see that our deep identification with thinking may be the problem.

Awakening is waking up from all stories; but it can quickly become a story itself. It becomes the story of advancing the “me” and then we are concerned about how successful we are at awakening. It shows up as the need to understand more, as dismissal, as a ‘spiritualized’ ego, as intellectual analysis, as fixation with particular beliefs or techniques or traditions or spirituality.

Spiritual seekers look for self-realization or enlightenment in the future. To be a seeker implies that you need the future. If this is what you believe, it becomes true for you: you will need time until you realize that you don’t need time to be who you are.
– Eckhart Tolle

Many who come to awakening turn to spirituality. There is nothing right or wrong with spirituality of course, but it has little to do with awakening. Awakening is not about memorizing complicated concepts and theories of existence. If you want to take Buddhist vows or go to India and live in an ashram—do so, and have fun, but you don’t need to. Buddha does not want Buddhists; he wants a world full of Buddhas. Christ does not want Christians; he wants a world full of Christ-consciousness. There are fabulous pointers in all the long-standing volumes of Sanskrit literature, and in the massive loads of literature in all traditions of humanity, and, at the same time, attachment to a particular dogma is an obstacle. Awakening is not the story of the ego’s spiritual advancement.

Until you practice surrender, the spiritual dimension is something you read about, talk about, get excited about, write books about, think about, believe in – or not, as the case may be. It makes no difference.”
-Eckhart Tolle

Seeking is about coming home. It is a longing to re-remember that what you are is beyond concepts and beliefs and thoughts. Seeking can perhaps play a part in remembering, but it is not remembering.

This is not a put-down of any belief system or spirituality. This is an invitation to see the possibility that when seeking falls away, something far clearer and simpler than spirituality is revealed.

Real meditation is not about mastering a technique; it’s about letting go of control. -Adyashanti

In the same way, if you want to meditate, do so, but it isn’t necessary to awaken. Meditation can indeed help quiet the mind. Meditation is also a valuable lesson—it helps us see how fearful the mind really is of the present moment. If you’ve never meditated, as an experiment, sit yourself down, quietly and alone, and you may be surprised at the rebellion of your own mind. Many people are afraid of meditation. Others feel meditation is a path. Some may even feel it’s the only path. A meditation practice can be valuable, and it can also be an obstacle. The ego loves the attaining of meditating and various stages of consciousness and advancement. Some even latch onto the woo-woo states that can happen in meditation, but these are just more mind-states. Meditate if you want to. You don’t have to.

“The pain that you create now is always some form of nonacceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgment. On the emotional level, it is some form of negativity. … The more you are identified with your mind, the more you suffer.”  Eckhart Tolle

It can help to understand the mind, particularly the ego. If we know a bit about the ego, we can notice its tricks, and lovingly laugh with it. In spiritual circles, the ego is often pictured as a diabolical villain. Well, okay, it can be, but your ego is not a separate entity from you. It is the voice in your head. It is a bunch of thoughts, which represents itself as a wise and trustworthy guide—often we realize it’s not wise or trustworthy, but this doesn’t diminish our compulsion to follow it. We condition ourselves to closely identify with the ego. We believe the thoughts that rise from the ego, even when they argue against reality. Following the ego is following a rascaly guide, but the illusion is strong and tricky. When we realize we have an ego, sometimes we fight it, resist it, and get angry at it. But this is a diabolical trick: this is the ego discovering itself. Getting angry with the ego or going to battle with it or resisting it, doesn’t do much good. It’s better just to notice it, with a smile. The whole thing is rather mysterious—as much trouble as the ego causes, it is also true that it is the ego that notices the illusion and it is the ego which decides to awaken—though it can’t. So, in the end, it is the villain which starts the journey from darkness to light.

When driven by the ego, life is lived through a constructed identity. The ego is separates us from all that is. The personality takes on a hard definition with hard boundaries—as ‘someone’ who is defined by their body and mind and past. Experience is dualistic—left and right, up and down, good and bad, desirable and undesirable. The external world is constantly sliced up, labeled and rearranged to suit the ego’s stories. This plays out consciously and subconsciously, in nested feedback loops so life swings between fear and desire, pleasure and pain, and joy is completely conditional on external circumstances.

A cohort of the ego is what Eckhart Tolle calls the “pain-body.” It is Samskara and Karma, or conditioining, and the actions which rise from conditioning. The pain-body works in close conjunction with the ego to cast judgment and repeating cycles of pain and misery. Frequently, it seems we take a peculiar pleasure in engaging the ego-painbody. This is just habit; it’s easier for the mind to follow conditioned grooves, until we see that it’s even easier not to. And again, noticing this transmutes it.

All you have to do to suss out obstacles is to notice them.  Don’t think about them; don’t analyze them; don’t block—all of that is just more thinking. Perhaps this is why the Buddha warned not to believe anything anyone says, until it is experience.

The Journey

A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe’; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison.” -Einstein

If you start this you will discover many things on your own. This is where reading about others’ experiences can help recognize shifts and insights, such as:

  • We all want joy in our lives. We want sorrowless joy because we know it is possible to have permanent sorrowless joy. Joy can only be found inside. Nothing external will make you happy or unhappy for long.
  • The biggest obstacle to Truth is the deep identification we have with the mind. The beginning of awakening is the insight that “I am not thought.”
  • Awareness: the question is: who am I?
  • “Letting go” is very natural for us. It’s just a matter of remembering what we have always known. Many “spiritual” concepts such as acceptance, gratitude, non-attachment, forgiveness, and surrender are really about letting go.
  • Many of the things we consider good, like intelligence, creativity, joy, positivity, and compassion do not come from the thinking mind.
  • In the end, all “practices” also must be surrendered. Practice is the mind’s doing. It is all the ways the mind devises, plans, learns, teaches, expounds, spiritualizes, and philosophizes about how to let go of burden. It’s a much simpler trick to just let go of the burden.
  • I know there is Awareness. I know all experience is in Now. I know I exist. I know Truth is not the way the mind sees it. Beyond that, what else can I possibly know?
  • Effort is required in the beginning but once we get into the flow of awakening, there is no effort. Awakening flows on its own, and it works much better when the ‘me’ out of the way. When we can let go of effort, with glorious relief, we find that Awareness does the job of awakening all by itself.
  • I have gone through emotional turmoil while awakening. The external world changes with the internal world. I’ve turned my life upside down in the last three years, traveling, giving up a career, writing and so on. It’s not always comfortable to lose the familiar world and mind. Old stuff comes up. I’ve experienced swings in energy, mood, apathy and involvement, isolation and engagement, confusion and clarity, peace and anxiety, good health and bad, swings in weight, swings in the material success and loss, purity and recidivism. There are periods of doubt and sometimes feelings of self-indulgence come up. There are swings between certainty and uncertainty. However, there is absolutely no anxiety about the apparent lack of direction—at this point it’s all rather fascinating and mysterious. Releasing heals whatever comes up. It helps to remember that courage shows up as needed. We never have to go beyond the edge of fear.
  • Awakening does not promise success in the way the ego defines success.
  • Awakening can wax and wan.  A strange thing that’s happened several times to me is that there are times I’ve felt very confident in the flow of awakening, and then life throws something at me to remind me that I’m not quite as aware as I thought. There is still work to do.
  • It is important to rely only on direct experience, and not on what I read or hear, even if it is from a favorite “spiritual” guide. Lester Levenson said it best when he said “take it for the checking.” Don’t deny, don’t follow. Don’t take anything seriously until you ‘check’ it with experience.

Summing up the Two-step Dance

  • Find a release technique which resonates with you
  • Find an Awareness technique which resonates with you
  • An essential question is: Is there joy, openness and lightness in your life? It takes a gentle honesty to answer this from the heart.
  • “Do not seek Truth; only cease to cherish opinion.”
  • It can help to understand the mind. A bare understanding of thought, emotions, the ego, beliefs, and conditioning, can help us notice these movements in stillness.

38 thoughts on “Days of Our Discontent — Finding Answers

  1. Walter

    Awakening is the greatest thing that can happen to us. Sadly, it’s never easy. A battle must be fought, the inner battle of the self against the mind. Unless we take control of our mind we cannot do things that will emancipate us from the fetters of limitation. 🙂
    .-= Walter´s last blog ..How to unleash your true capacity =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Walter,

      You are right, and well said. I do want to point out that the words we use often trip us up. I do the same thing.
      “it’s never easy” — Lester Levenson said it well when he said it’s either simple or impossible.
      “A battle must be fought” — really, it’s just noticing; nothing has to be fought or changed. I understand that you mean that it is a process, and it can be arduous.
      “control of the mind” — we don’t have control it, just observing it, transmutes it
      “limitation” — I’ve found that when we can learn to release emotions, we can easily release limiting beliefs.

      Walter, thanks so much for shedding light from different perspective.


  2. Nadia - Happy Lotus

    Hi Kaushik,

    When I look back at my journey, it is obvious that happiness and awakening came through a process. It was gradual. Actually, it just kind of happened. I woke up one morning and realized that there had been a shift.

    In my case, I reached that through spirituality but my take of spirituality is different than what you described. I came to spirituality with the full intention of becoming Christ consciousness and being like Buddha. I took the teachings very seriously and wanted to master them. When I do something, I pour all my being into it. I would see others who just going through the motions and that was a surprise to me.

    Unfortunately, many people are doing to spirituality what was done with religion. It has become dogma without essence or rather saying certain concepts or phrases without really understanding them. That said, I do think spirituality if practiced as it is meant to be practiced, can help people understand life and themselves better.

    By the way, congratulations on the guest post at Urban Monk! 🙂
    .-= Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog ..“Working for Good” – an Antidote for Violence – My Interview with Jeff Klein =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Nadia,
      Yes, me too–awakening has been a journey. It’s gradual, with fits and starts, and sometimes it feels like I’ve gone backwards, only to realize later the meandering is all part of the beautiful mystery.

      Spirituality can be so wonderful–for many it is eye-opening. It can be soothing, healing, calming; it gives purpose. It can give some meaning to things we know in the heart but can’t articulate–I suppose we can call this wisdom. The feel of community is heartening. Whenever someone talks about their experiences in an ashram or retreat, I feel that I want to go. Whenever I enter an ashram or a temple or a place of worship, I feel peace and connectedness. I see immense value in it.

      I feel the same way about meditation. I’ve been to Vipassana meditation retreats twice. I’m indebted to Goenkeji for that wonderful, peace-loving, compassionate organization. It helped me develop concentration, which I believe has helped me with awakening. I don’t meditate these days; I find it easier to be in “effortless meditation” through the waking hours.

      When spirituality becomes dogma, it is a trap. When meditation becomes a accomplishment, it is a trap.

      My particular trap was not spirituality or meditation; it was intellectualism. I could even say it was intellectual arrogance–I had the tendency to dismiss anything that I could not understand through my particular beliefs.

      But it’s a glorious paradox that awakening is waking up from the mind, but it must start in the mind. Whether it is through religion, devotion, spirituality, suffering, philosophy, an intellectual insight–whatever it is, awakening is beyond.

      Your interview with Jeff Klein is remarkable…great work!


  3. Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord

    Holy crap, batman! That was an awesome article — better than some books I’ve read, and so thorough. I heard Adyashanti talk about how awakening isn’t some grand thing, and that truly it’s our natural state. That helped to shift me away from the ego-thinking of “I need to be someone really special in order to awaken.” Not at all! Anyone can awaken at any time! Meditation, as you said, is nice, but some people meditate for 30, 40 or 50+ years and never awaken. We just never know, but if we take into our hearts (I think) the idea that awareness is our natural state, and that awareness is always there, lingering in the background, I think it becomes more plausible to allow awareness to take over.

    I’m still just so blown away by this post, Kaushik. You deserve a lot of kudos for writing it. (*bow*)
    .-= Megan “JoyGirl!” Bord´s last blog ..Giving Our All =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Megan,
      “JoyGirl” is the perfect moniker for you! Your comments and writing come from a place of joyful knowingness. It’s a pleasure to read them.

      Awakening has transformed my life, and whether we actually reach the big-bang enlightenment thing or not is not important. The important thing is the turning within to our Heart, as you say, “take into our hearts.”

      Thanks for the joyous insight!

  4. Wilma Ham

    Hi Kaushik

    For me I am realizing that the mind manufactures identitities and than we are getting addicted to keep that manufactured one alive.
    It is good to have an identity, that is life but I realize that is NOT me and just serves me to be in the world and I keep observing that I am not getting attached to it, it is not who I AM.
    I am also getting that life is simple and that the mind loves to complicate things to be in control. The mind cannot solve life mysteries that is the domain of the heart which connects with the source.
    I do agree it starts with observing to see what is going on.
    I live my life from a daily doing that keeps my live in order AND that will take me to a higher attainment. Gandhi looked after himself at a daily doing and he always kept his daily world whole and complete without addiction to manufactured identities.
    We make life complicated, instead of living coming from being love in action, with innocent perception to see what is so, doing fair exchanges in life coming from honest perception about added value. Then you can be your own judge about how life is to be lived.
    It is amazing if you live from that persepctive of love and innocent perception (honesty about what is so) that I know what to do in daily life, you do not need to hide behind manufactured identities or hierarchical judicical agreements as a cop out.
    Then life becomes your own and wonderful and creative and source connected and the mind becomes the servant of the heart, not the primal driver but the secretary, which is a task it can do well.
    I love your sharing, love Wilma.
    .-= Wilma Ham´s last blog ..My daughter and I on ‘why should you?’. =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Ah Wilma, you’ve expressed it so eloquently, and in far fewer words than I used!

      “I live my life from a daily doing that keeps my live in order AND that will take me to a higher attainment. Gandhi looked after himself at a daily doing and he always kept his daily world whole and complete without addiction to manufactured identities.”

      That’s beautiful. Very often, we are confused about how to live while awakening. Life happens–sorrow happens, finances drop, relationships go up and down, health can falter–and through this, living in simplicity and “higher” awareness is the trick. Thank you for expressing it so well.


  5. Lisa (mommymystic)

    Kaushik, Wow, you covered it all here! You know, I love religious studies, I love comparing and discussing the theologies, symbolism, and practices of all the world’s various religions. And for a time, this was my form of ‘intellectualism’, as you put it, one way of staying trapped in my mind, even though I thought I was getting beyond it. And I know what you mean about spiritual practices becoming that trap too – although I teach meditation, I think there’s a big distinction between ‘mind techniques’ – which can be very valuable for healing etc., and awakening. You expressed all of this so well. Experiencing it and expressing it are two different things, and you have managed both!
    I love your definition of releasing also, it sounds very much like what I think of as ‘opening’. I agree that these words ‘detachment’ etc. can lead us down the wrong road, I like ‘releasing’ and ‘opening’ much better. Thanks for a great post. Namaste-
    .-= Lisa (mommymystic)´s last blog ..Musings on PEACE, in Honor of International Peace Day =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Namaste Lisa,

      Thanks! Yes, it’s interesting to learn, discuss and compare theologies and cultures. And meditation is a great opener–it’s wonderful that you teach it.

      You’ve said it well: it comes down to the distinction between awareness and ‘mind techniques.’ As soon as we say anything about it, it is no longer awareness–it’s in the mind, so it’s a little tricky to talk about.

      Thanks for the very insightful comment!


  6. shubha

    Hi Kaushik,
    I’m sorry if my question is not relevant to the topic being discussed, but I feel you might be able to help me. I have been meditating and reading spiritual material for a long time. I’m suddenly unable to read and absorb anymore. I could not read your article. Its like my mind is tired and has shut down. It cannot take in any more information. Is this the end of the road for me? I continue to meditate, though. I would be very grateful for any advice.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Shubha,

      Take a break. Take a sabbatical. Relax. You may simply be going through a period of re-integration. You’ve read and absorbed–now just be. Be aware. Let go. You are able to meditate, and that truly wonderful; continue to do so.


  7. Liara Covert

    To awaken to what you are, is to know the goals are already reached. Future becomes past and all you live is now. You are an instument of peace, love and harmoy. This is the authentic expression of self. To know this is to dissolve any visions that obscure the truth. You transport self through dimensions of time and space and misplaced thoughts. You know why you exist and you are aligning the this in sound, vibration and forms you do not register on a conscious level. Every revelation is an invitation to go deeper into your sacred space.
    .-= Liara Covert´s last blog ..What is really going on? =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Liara,

      I feel it as a settling into natural being, who we naturally are. “You know why you exist and you are aligning the this in sound, vibration and forms you do not register on a conscious level.” I like that. It seems so many of us have so much angst about finding the passion or purpose of our lives, when we already know what our passion and purpose is: it is to experience the joy of being. Simply that.

      Thanks again for an insightful comment!


  8. Stephanie


    Your 2 most recent posts have really found me at the right time, as you say. I’ve been struggling with my own life-situation, and searching for the answers within my mind. And in recent years, there was always this nagging feeling that I would never actually find the answers there, but I was lost as to where else to turn. Your story about depression really hit home, particularly in that hitting rock bottom 7 years ago suddenly offered me a sense of release. Nothing could really get any worse, so I had nothing to lose. I found meditation at the time, and developed a method of letting go. It was all instinctual really, but at the time I thought it was a product of my own mind. I realize now it was my mind recognizing something inherent in me. But as I progressed toward happiness, my ego seized the reigns, convincing me that it was the source of my new direction, that I needed to keep listening to it to “improve” myself, and in the last several years became gradually more oppressive. Again this year, I began hitting rock bottom, till this very week, in fact.

    And today I found your blog, and it has completely opened my eyes. Interestingly, I re-discovered the idea of enlightenment only a few weeks ago, and like so many, thought it was something I would have to attempt to achieve, and maybe someday in the future…. But upon reading this post, it makes so much more sense to me to think of it as Release and Awareness. So simple, so elegant. and, I just found, something I can do just sitting here, in between reading your sentences! So natural. Absolutely wonderful. My mind thinks that actual Awakening is just around the corner….

    Thank you!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Stephanie,

      Thank you so much for sharing your personal story. It is with stories like yours that the “rubber meets the road,” and awakening is not a floaty idea but actual experience. Your experience of that the “ego seized the reigns” will resonate with many. In my case, I got lost for a while in intellectual accumulation and the inexplicable pain of a lost relationship. With others, it may be spirituality, or doubt, or a recalcitrant old hurt, unrequited love or something similar. It is all a form of clinging to resistance.

      “Improvement”, as you point out, is a source of angst for many of us. It comes as a self-improvement, self-discipline and control–it is the ego trying to “power” through, and it is motivated by the need for approval, the need for control, and the need for security–when we can release these wants, we find that there is enthusiasm without self-forcing. A baby moves and plays not through discipline or for improvement, but because she enthusiastically enjoys the pleasure of movement.

      “So simple, so elegant. and, I just found, something I can do just sitting here, in between reading your sentences!”

      Perfectly said.

      Thanks so much for your comment!


  9. Brenda

    Hi Kaushik

    I read this a few days ago and didn’t know what to say. I remember wondering, if ego is the voice in your head, then whose voice writes an article like this? If I am not thought, then where do these thoughtful words and phrases come from?

    I still don’t know what to say, other than to comment on the form your writing has taken. The boxed quotes, the bold headers, the bulleted lists all give this piece a bookish look and feel that finally match the content. The length of the post adds to its bookishness. The voice is authentic, although I don’t know where it comes from if not from ego, intellect, or mind. “Thought cannot comprehend what is beyond thought.” (yo no comprendo!)

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Brenda,

      It’s always good to hear from you. You’ve asked a wonderful question!

      On the bookish style of the article, that possibly comes from working on a book. I’ve been writing about losing weight with Awareness and Release, in book form, so the style is probably spilling over.

      “If I am not thought, then where do these thoughtful words and phrases come from?”

      When I am, just being, in awareness, I notice. I notice thoughts and I notice what wants to think. The thing that wants to think, and really likes to think is the ego. This is a bunch of thoughts. It is the false self. What notices the ego is Awareness. Some call it Source, Essence, Self, True Self, Truth, and so on. Awareness is subtle, it doesn’t come in a voice. It is subtle and for most of us, clouded by the voice of thought. Awareness is what knows how to live life. Thought does not; the only thing we need thought for is thinking and we don’t need thinking.

      When I scratch my head, or get up to get a glass of iced tea, or write, I am not impelled by thought. Thought often comes afterward and claims ownership.

      Most of us have come to believe that the mind (ego, egoic mind, thoughts) is trustworthy guide for living. It is a wonderful instrument for certain tasks. But our deep identification with it keeps us in delusion. And all we have to do is to observe thought. As we observe, as we notice, without judgment, a different dimension of consciousness becomes present. Then the mind is rightfully our servant, not master. We are not mind or what the mind projects, but rather what is aware and actually living.

      When awareness becomes wrapped in the mind, we are the person the mind describes, the ego. When awareness is focused on experience rather than thought, we see Truth.

      Your question is: does not the writing require thought? What comes up is that as experience deepens, awareness deepens, stillness ensues, writing more and more just happens, without the impulse of thought.

      I re-read this and it is not satisfactory but this is what comes up.

      I hope you’re doing well, my friend!


  10. Brenda

    Kaushik, I had a bit of a breakthrough, I think. I woke this morning with a keen awareness that I was experiencing awareness. It might have been only a second but it seemed like a great stretch of ‘time’ wherein there was no thought, NONE, then later a sense that this was the space between thought that Kaushik writes about so often. I’ve been trying so hard to understand awareness, and thinking wasn’t getting me there. Noticing got me there! The experience was so lovely, blissful even. I understand what you’ve been talking about for so long, and why you keep hammering away at awareness. It’s doubtless your hammering combined with my willingness that got me this experience. I am so very grateful to you for every word you’ve written on this topic and especially the way you keep repeating the basic steps. It’s almost like stop, look, listen, see nothing, hear nothing, sense bliss. (If you write me back and tell me this wasn’t awareness I may be crushed!!)
    .-= Brenda´s last blog ..On Security =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Namaste Brenda,

      That’s it, that’s awareness. It’s presence. You’ve been so kind and supportive and open in your comments from the start…I’m so very pleased for you that you felt the lightness, but don’t hold on to the experience. It is a feeling of lightness but often after we feel it a bit we grasp for it, and the very grasping makes it slippery.

      Continue noticing and continue letting go. You will find that noticing will get easier and easier. Releasing/Letting go can be helpful because often it is our lingering emotions that keep us from feeling the lightness.

      “…stop, look, listen, see nothing, hear nothing, sense bliss…”


      with love,

  11. Liara Covert

    One view is awakening is a process that unfolds in stages. It can be viewed as a progressive discarding and detaching from illusions that cloud your understanding of truth. Every being slowly remembers they are interconnected to everything everywhere. That is, you are pure love consciousness in the process of expanding, dissolving ego and awakening to all you are.
    .-= Liara Covert´s last blog ..What do you make of right now? =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Liara, this is it, it is a progressive discarding, a releasing and surrendering, to uncloud awareness, and it’s so much easier, and so much lighter, when we are aware of that! Thanks for you always-insightful comments.


  12. Pingback: Mindful Living Today » Blog Archive » Where is Your EGO Leading You?

  13. guillaume

    I guess it is true that the ego can be very tricky and violent and pull you back in the dream state.

    Awareness came for brief moments during my life without me being able to define it better than a sens of connectiveness. It took me some years of intense suffering and autodestruction in order to understand that those moments were moments of real life.

    And he funny thing is i did not gradualy get to that path , I had to loose everything(illusions) that mattered to my spirit , every fear I had got reallised .no medications no drugs ,nothing could help it flee from the fact that there was no “futur” remaining , nothing better to wait for or to add.
    And then it kind of exploded and all was emptyness, no energy for anything but breathing for a few days.
    I took it to be some kind of nervous breakdown or psychique death.
    Then I went back home and a lot of the things my dad kept saying to me like old and boring proverbs just crashed into me with a different sens and a “trueness” to them.
    He gave me “the power of now” , amazingly touching.
    This was 7 month ago , I have lived them on and off the dream state wich is more peacefull, fresh, disturbing sometimes.

    But I know I was tricked by my ego because I just read “the end of your world ” by Adyashanti a few hours ago and it woke some very powerfull fear and violence in me I didnt know was there lol.It could not hide anymore.
    Especialy the part talking about beeing true to oneself and “inquiring into beliefs until they fall away”.

    Its a very good thing , but now I have some kind of cyclone in my head and whole body that is pulling me in some kind of mind breaking identification resulting so many various and extrem emotions.

    The only “real” thing I know is that there is no going back.

    I have never talked to anyone about that and dont know if it was the place to voice such toughts ,especially in that English (I am French).

    But I thank you anyway.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Guillaume,

      Thank you for such an open and helpful comment.

      My experience is similar to yours. I read the Power of Now a few years ago and I did not understand it, though something must have got through. A few years later, when life became absurd and painful, I went back to it. Then it made complete sense. And since then, it seems that various books and teachings have had a profound effect at various times. As you say, it is not always easy–there can be some very uncomfortable times. But I have noticed that we also don’t have to worry about that. Whatever we need seems to pop up at the right time. We don’t need to be strong or spiritual or blessed. A gentle honesty helps, because the ego is very tricky, but even that develops as we go along.

      Thank you for a very helpful comment. I hope to see you again here.

      love and peace,

  14. guillaume

    I thank you for that answer Kaushik.

    It is a personnal path , and I know deep down it is true and unstoppable.
    I cant find anyone around me who can understand what I am talking about , and I get some violent reactions wich could be summed up in a few sentences:
    -why cant you let yourself be happy.
    -Just get a life ,job and stop thinking.
    -you are being egoiste and setting yourself appart.
    I do know this is the ego talking , I find it better to have nothing to keep it unhappy and dont get stuck in some sens of comfort with habits that kinda anchor you in the dream state.

    So I am stuck in inaction and cannot know if it is fear and ego that keep me here or if i should just go away somewhere and find a teacher or someone likewise since france doesnt seem to have many of those people.

    or I might just create a blog and write to myself like i am doing right now 🙂

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Yes, everyone’s experience is unique. I have experienced high times and low times. In the low times, there can be isolation, low-energy, withdrawal, a feeling that other people don’t get what is happening. As you point out, society doesn’t have much patience for people who are exploring inner Truth.

      A good teacher I think can help with two things. In times of confusion and frustration, a good teacher can point out that this is perfectly normal, and we can learn to be patient and love and allow. A good teacher will also point out to us when we are fooling ourselves.

      I have never had a individual teacher, so I cannot say if that is the way to go. Today, the internet provides many resources. There are books and blogs and forums. There are meet-up groups. I have been to two meditation retreats, and a few Buddhist gatherings. I have met a number of like-minded people, and friendships develop, and often friends can help keep us honest.

      Yes, I would encourage you to blog. It is a good way to express, to learn how to be authentic, and to share and meet with like-minded people. Just like you’re doing right now…

      love and peace,

  15. Guillaume

    Thank you for this answer.
    I found some zen temples in Paris ans Will go chek it out even though from whar i know theie approach of that path us somewhat différent.

    Keep it up 🙂

  16. Philip

    I love your writings they emanate such presence, unencumbered. You quote one of my favourite passages from The Power of Now, but I think it needed to continue to the next sentence. “Not until you surrender does it become a living reality in your life” Eckhart Tolle.


  17. Philip

    Hi Kaushik.

    For the ‘Spiritual seeker’ all this can of course become corrupted and…… ” forgiveness for example can become a superior sort of forgiving; gratitude can become an appeal for reward; acceptance can become a reluctant tolerance; non-attachment can become apathy or suppression of compassion; and surrender can become giving up.” K. …. Beautifully put, all of the above traps are those which I fall into. The biggest trap for ‘me’ is to mistake non-judgemental observation or witnessing for what I call ‘counter thought’ where you abserve some manifestation of unconscious, egoic, reaction in yourself and you counter it with a positive corrective thought and some how convince yourself that this is ‘awareness’. I think I have spent too long as the ‘superior spiritual seeker’. Is it dillusional to feel special about seeing all this?

    Cheers Philip

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Philip,

      That’s excellent, thanks for pointing out that trap. I have done that as well, when I had negative thoughts, and feeling guilty, counter-balanced them with good thoughts. Another trap is presence. I remember when I first got into Tolle’s Power of Now, people I know frequently talked about how they were present at certain times, while driving or doing dishes or whatever, and how blissful it felt. I said the same. After a time I realized that I was lying. The presence I felt was not really presence, it was my mind’s idea of presence, because it felt lifeless and boring.

      At some point in our awakening we must be our own authority. We must develop self-honesty. We must stop relying on spiritual concepts and beliefs and quotations and pithy sayings, and instead actually be present, and actually learn to release, and actually develop self-honesty.

      Thank you, Philip. Your insight is very valuable.

      light and peace,

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