What we call perception, is quite frequently misperception that causes us to suffer.
I’m a voracious reader and relentless information gatherer. This is empowering, but comes with risks. We all know how easy it is to start reading one news story or blog post and end up reading a dozen related posts or stories. Some of those follow-on stories can lead to suffering. This happened to me last night.
As the inventor of the N.O.W. Tone Therapy System and co-founder of the startup solu, one of my responsibilities is to be on the lookout for business development opportunities, or threats, in the news. I learned how to do this when I had a stint in the radio business from 1999 – 2002 as a new business development research director.
My job was to read widely and summarize business development opportunities I saw in the news, and then teach sales execs how to use this information to generate new sponsorship advertising revenue. It was a great job. I got paid to read, think, write and teach –– outside of academia but within the fast paced word of radio broadcasting. I trained myself to speed read at about 600 words a minute for 3 – 4 hours a day –– somewhat over 100,000 words a day, a novel if you’re counting. That’s about three times faster than the US average reading speed.
I only mention the speed and volume of my reading to illustrate the magnitude of the particular risk I face –– that of allowing my egoic mind to flair up during my reading and cause me to suffer.
Here’s an example of how it works in my case.
Last night I was working my way through my Google Alerts and gathered news stories. The usual daily load –– about 200 stories to scan. Since I’m in the sound business, and have a sound-for-mindfulness product, N.O.W., my interest was really piqued when I came across a story about a mass meditation session to be held at the Okeechobee Music Festival in Florida which opens March 1.
Mass meditation is a wonderful concept being developed and promoted by a rather special millennial named Jesse Israel. Do a search for a video blog conversation between Jesse and ABC News’ Dan Harris to see what I’m talking about.
Anyway, before too long I’m following links off of the Mind Body Green blog story about Jesse’s “Big Quiet” event to be held at the Okeechobee Music Festival and I’m zooming around cyberspace and wham, I land at Sara Auster’s site.
Sara Auster is a Sound Therapist, lecturer, recording artist and presenter of sound baths. She has a beautiful site, she does beautiful work and she’s having a positive impact in the world all while living in New York with easy access to artisanal Kombucha, Kimchee and other fermented food that would make Sandor Katz drool. See where I’m going? Looks like a charmed life. I like the looks of her website, her life and that easy access to artisanal, Brooklyn-bred pickles.
See what’s happening? “Spiritual Ego Comparison Mind” has entered.
Spiritual Ego Comparison Mind is one tricky mofo. That dude is sneaky, patient and knows when to pounce. It rides along on my shoulder as I read, pretty soon is starts to whisper “psst –– will you look at that Sara Auster. You could be doing all that. Look at her website, all pretty little delicate dividing lines and 9 point font and shit. You could be doing that. And omg, looks at that creamy-white fucking vinyl LP! Fucking hell, you grew up with vinyl and didn’t come to it as a retro artisan pickle-munching Brooklynite!”. Spiritual Ego Comparison Mind Dude goes on like this until …
… I’m all knotted up with judgment, envy, fear, attack thoughts and impatience. Suffering.
This doesn’t happen to me too often because I know the dangers of news reading and I read with conscious awareness or “Presence” as Eckhart Tolle calls it. As I read, I’m aware that I’m reading. The essence me, consciousness, is awake and aware. I’m not identified with the word-forms I’m reading. My consciousness is not asleep in other words. That’s how I read most of the time.
But when I’m tired after a long day and my alertness has waned, and vigilance is lacking, then big bad mofo Spiritual Ego Comparison Mind Dude takes over and causes me to suffer. He doesn’t harsh my chill for too long though. He might ruin the rest of the evening, but I never to go bed without recognizing what has happened to me and set an intention to let it go. Let it go. My body, with all that frigg’n electro-chemical / emotional soup coursing around does not let it go so quickly. But setting an intention to Let It Go seems to do the trick, mentally, overnight.
Letting it go is non-doing. A return to the equilibrium of stillness. And somehow this reinforces my desire, willingness and capability to be less reactive, less judgmental and avoid the suffering that arises from comparison mind.
So thanks to Mind Body Green, Jesse Israel and Sara Auster for this teaching!