We are not who we think we are. We are the one noticing the thinking, not the thinker of the thoughts. Thoughts think themselves and we mistake them for identity. Thoughts are simply “occurrences” like the motion of air molecules. We call the movement of air, “wind.” We call the movement of thoughts, “us.” When the air stops moving, the wind disappears. When my thoughts stop moving, do I disappear?
Is there “someone” here along with, or behind and beneath all the thoughts? I truly believe that there is, but I cannot name that “someone” because, as Lao-Tzu says, “The name that can be named is not the Eternal Name.” If I name it, that name would not be it. It would simply be another thought. Nevertheless, “he” is there. He is watching the thoughts. He is experiencing life as me. He is unafraid, soft, yielding, without agenda, without control needs. He is the one, and the only one, who actually accomplishes anything. He and the Tao are One.
When I spend too much time with the illusion that I am my thoughts, I naturally become afraid, tense, guarded, and separate – because my thoughts are isolated things, alone behind the wall of my skull. We are all afraid and tense right now because crises like we are facing tend to drive us to our thoughts – thoughts formed and informed by the constant barrage of all types of media.
When we are not controlled by our thoughts we are unafraid. We naturally act with effectiveness and compassion because that is who and what we really are. Let’s let our thoughts become instruments of the Tao. Hold them carefully like you would hold a delicate tool that can do damage if it slips. Don’t grasp them. Let the “real you” guide and use them but never believe that they are you.
One cannot name the Tao, but that does not negate its existence. In fact, the Tao is the essence of all existence. In the same way, I cannot name this “watcher” or “soul” which I claim to be my true identity, nevertheless it remains the essence of who I am – unnamable but real beyond all doubt.