One of you is a problem to yourself. The other is not. Did you realize there are two of you and one of them is a troublemaker? Before we can talk about sound listening exercises as a way to change your life circumstances for the better we need to talk about the Two You Problem.
Let’s descontruct a simple sentence: “I thought about what you said and it makes me feel angry!” For the purpose of this discussion, it does not matter matter what that person said or who that person is. We just need to observe that you have been thinking about what another person said and that you are aware that it makes you feel angry.
Who is the “you” that observes the statement: “I thought about …” and observes the feeling “… makes me feel angry”?
The “you” that observes your thoughts or feelings could be called “the observer”.
If you are capable of observing your thoughts, what is that capability? That capability is consciousness. This is the “essential you” –– the you of pure consciousness not identified with, or attached to the forms of the world, but capable of observing them.
The problem is, most of the time, most of us don’t realize we have this capability or we forget we have this capability. For thousands of years this amnesia has been described as a type of sleep walking. To “awaken” from this sleep is simply to remember you are capable of observing, that one is an observer, that one is a conscious being. One does not observe thoughts by thinking about them –– one notices anything by direct observation.
Let’s look at the other “you”, the troublemaker you. The other you has been called the “egoic identity”. This is the “you” that is deeply identified with thoughts or other forms (a thought is a form just as a physical object or a person is a form). This “you” is not aware it is thinking –– it rather mindlessly carries on a tirade about what the other person said that made it angry.
The egoic identity likes to label itself, and identify with its life story events, as an attempt to substantiate itself. For example, my egoic identity could label myself a male audio engineer who has had some degree of success and failure that can be quantified by products invented, clients served and dollars earned or lost. The egoic identity, being an insubstantial mental construct, needs to attach to external forms that exist in the “past” or “future” because there is no substantiating “story” that exists in the present moment (the present is the only moment that exists, in fact).
The present moment exists, and can be observed, without any need to label it. Observation of the present moment is the realm of pure consciousness, the essence identity. The egoic mind hates the present moment simply because it ceases to exist in the present! The egoic mind always try to skip over its present-moment death by glancing backward in memory or by gazing forward to the future.
Either you are observing, “aware of being aware” or your egoic identity is so deeply identified with the forms of the mind and of the world that your essence identity has “gone to sleep”, is unconscious, is unaware. This is the Two You Problem. The back and forth oscillation between periods of pure, awakened, being-consciousness and periods of slumbering form-identification.
It is the slumbering, form-identified, egoic you that causes the mental suffering you experience.
Simply put, all forms eventually change, reveal themselves to be unstable and ultimately transient. Self-Identification with changeable, unstable, transient forms leads to suffering as one experiences the loss of these forms as they change or dissolve. This instability leads the egoic mind to seek another shiny object, a new idea, a new relationship, a new possession, a new title, a new accomplishment –– only to start the suffering cycle of form identification and form dissolution again.
But realizing there is another “you” –– consciousness, the observer, is to separate the essence-you from the problematic cycle of form identification and form dissolution. This is to awaken and simply be.
Sound listening exercises use auditory perception as a means of helping you recognize your essence identity –– consciousness, the essential “you” that is free of problematic identification with form.
And something remarkable happens when consciousness is awakened from the slumber of form identification and problematic thinking. “Problems” get solved more easily and life becomes more joyous.
We’ll be doing some sound listening exercises to help us experience this reality.