There is a participant, let’s call her Beth, who has been in our courses for a few years. When I first met her the subject of money was fraught and full of tension. In any interaction to do with money - giving, receiving, earning, requesting, quoting, managing - she would be anxious and panicked. Beliefs about lack and isolation were running wild. She was a fraud. She was irresponsible. She didn’t deserve the money…
That was the lived experience for her. And it looked absolutely true to her. Her mind was wholly taken captive by conditioning. Beliefs coming from traumatic childhood experiences were running the show. Creating a separate her, a separate it - money, and a separate them - whoever she was in interaction with.
This is Stage one: the mind is completely lost in itself. There is no question that the experience of self and other is anything other than objective truth. All attention, all resources are absorbed in the identity’s fight for survival. This is the human being at its most confused. It is really the play-out of child wounds with the inevitable experience being that of a helpless and hopeless.
We began to look at the moment of suffering. This moment is the greatest gift in our lives. When there is resistance, separation, tension, stress, defence, withdrawal, fight, flight or freeze something is going on that is ready to be observed. Seeing how suffering emerged every time there was mention of money started to make it clear to Beth that there was something else afoot other than what appeared to be just reality happening.
She could see the repetition. She could see how the behaviour of the Beth body-mind would create the very situations that caused the most suffering. She could see that behaviours she resented in other people were mirroring her behaviours. It started to become obvious that conditioning was creating the whole reality.
This is Stage Two: space between observation and observed. Patterns and triggers are noticed. There is a recognition of fears, insecurities, shame and need and how they affect perception and behaviour. However, everything still looks personal at this stage. It looks like ‘I’ am doing this and this is happening to ‘me’.
So although Stage Two creates a bit more space, a bit more perspective it is in the same realm as Stage One. This is the realm in which the mind is still identified and the experience still looks personal.
This is a mind that is occupied with the mission to stabilise the idea of ourselves as a separate self. The mind in these moments is, as Rupert Spira, the great non-dual teacher, describes it ‘an activity of seeking and resistance’. This activity is revolving around concepts that are not available for questioning - above all the concept of ‘me’.
We continued exploring together, going ever deeper into the biggest questions of life and her vast intelligence took this on with real curiosity. We explored where the conditioning came from, how there was no individual ‘Beth’ in control of that conditioning and of what beliefs were acquired. We explored the origin of all behaviour and of all perception, again with the recognition that there is no individual Beth doing any of it.
Interactions involving money instead of being feared started to become very interesting. They became the space in which all the conditioning of separation, the defences and protection as well as the total absence of any ‘chooser’ are revealed. In other words, money, instead of being the place of trauma, became the place of enlightenment.
This is the Shift out of the personal realm and into the witnessing space. The body-mind continues to learn, continues to get feedback from its surroundings but now this learning does not have to factor in the illusion of a separate me.
This is Stage Three and it is something else altogether. It is is not an incremental change of perspective, of learning.
It is the complete disruption of any sense of the personal do-er.
It is the recognition that all experience exists within this perceptual field and there is no one making that happen.
The separation, shame, isolation and sense of lack that is at the heart of the individual identity cannot survive this revelation because all of it depended on the identified mind in order to exist.
Everything personal falls away - personal responsibility, personal blame, personal delineation.
What remains is the knowing of existence, of aliveness, consciousness, of being the origin of it all.
The end of the personal unveils ultimate accountability.
This is the understanding that all experience is only possible because of this localisation of the truth of what we are with a body-mind form.
This is the Centre of the Universe. The only Source. Completely impersonal.