Nondual Zen Article:

Don’t Object to Being an Object

nondual title

Don’t Object to Being an Object
by Kathleen Sutherland

I realized today that I am an object. Every aspect of what I formerly thought was me is an object. And an object cannot be Me, the true Me.

I knew the body was an object. The body is not me. I knew that neither my feelings nor my thoughts were me: they come and go, and change so frequently. But I was still assuming that "the thinker" was me, or that "thinking" was me. Or if not the thinker, at least the one who feels, who intuits. I was equating thinking, feeling, perceiving – all products of the mind, brain, senses, heart – with consciousness.

Today I saw (thanks to a talk by Swami Sarvapriananda) that thoughts, feelings, even deep intuition that might seem to come from "beyond" are all objects of consciousness. They are identifiable sensations or concepts arising in consciousness. All that I witness is not me. (Ultimately, all "things" are a manifestation of me, and so none other than me. But for initially identifying my purest essence, "neti, neti" practice, i.e., the process of elimination of non-self, is an important practice.)

I am the emptiness behind the thoughts, feelings, perceptions, bright ideas, even the expanded sense of being. All these are experiences or objects that arise within me. I am the darkness from which all light arises.

Of course, now I have painted myself into a corner. I cannot say what I am, because words such as “darkness,” “emptiness” create an image. Any attempt to express what I am brings me into the world of words and manifestation, and I am prior to that.

As Fred Davis often points out, "prior" is perhaps the best description of our True Self. It's not a label, but a pointer. Whenever I fall into believing that my essence is thinking, feeling or perception, I need to remember that I am prior to all that. I am that in which all these things arise.

I, as Kathleen, do not generate consciousness. I do not even channel consciousness. I arise within it. And I watch myself. I watch myself and others living life, expressing thoughts, feeling feelings. We are little reflections of consciousness, like a million suns dancing on the waves. But we are not ourselves conscious. We are not That. Only That is That.

So I find I must step out of the way. I must stop trying to be all that. And only then do I see that I am only That.