Note to Self: Your greatest liability is the belief that you know the truth. Question your perceptions.
To believe without understanding is self deception.
To understand without belief is clarity (and freedom).
The mind naturally tends to fill in the cracks of things you don't know. Whether it's in personal relationships, spiritual beliefs or a view of world affairs. Using past patterns and observations it's easy fill in these cracks to give a sense of confidence.* Sometimes you may be right, sometimes though, you're not. The wrong ones can lead down the path of self deception and delusion. It's more accurate to say "I don't know" rather than to pretend you know when you don't... and to always seek to know the difference.
(*this also tends to favor the tendency of repeating the past over and over)
Distortions of Reality:
In my view: as a protection we all build ideas about ourselves and the world we live in that are distortions of reality (delusions). When we become "awakened", we become an "observer" (apart from the ego) so that we can actually see reality around us (and in us) apart from self-interest.
So, from the Ego's "protector state" (aka..self image, identity) we may see reality from one perspective, but from the "observer state", we can see things differently apart from our own self-interest. In the process, one may begin to notice the discrepancy between the previous view of reality and the new view via the observer state. The natural conflict between these two may feel like insanity, or a loss of self, during the "awakening" process.
So I'd like to share here some from my personal story about working through the conflict of the observer state, and the ego:
The path of this awakening was through doorway of my own delusions, psychosis and insanity. Not only did I dismantle my delusions in my quest to stay sane... I decided not to stop there and also tore apart my beliefs one by one. I tore down religious beliefs, beliefs about my relationships, beliefs about who I thought myself to be, and more. (I asked myself over and over, is this absolutely true? Do I have any confirmation of this as a truth?) As I have mentioned my awakening was not all pleasant, I faced some of the darkest fears I could imagine from my subconscious. As my subconscious mind opened and began to puke out and purge some of these thoughts I had encouraged for years, I was faced with coming to a deeper understanding of these sometimes self destructive thought patterns.
As I faced these delusions I became aware of two parts of myself. The "thinker", or the part sold on the delusion or paranoia (old mental pattern) and, the "observer", the part of me that was impartially observing the thoughts themselves and not wrapped up in their drama.
Based on this experience and subsequent observations, I am pretty sure most people have these "stories" bouncing around in their heads, that we don't talk about. In this private inner world of our minds, it's easy to plant and water these seeds of self deception. It could be something as simple as "I know what they are thinking" ..or "that person doesn't like me". The mind can take a simple delusion and build complex story lines from there..
In my awakening process, the mind then began to fight back with these delusions, it's almost as if it was saying "without me you can't survive.. without me these scenarios that you have been so vigilant against will overtake and destroy you". This, of course, triggers the fight or flight response and survival instinct of the reptilian brain. This pattern of thinking kept me locked in a cycle of unconscious fear and stress for years.
I knew on some level that the "reality" of my world was shifting. I could feel it coming like a storm on the horizon. There was a battle between within me that was brewing. My body seemed to sense it before my mind. My plumb-line, or my only guide for sane action once I was in the middle of this process (of what I am calling awakening) was to choose Love and not fear. This was not easy because my mind WANTED me to choose fear, so that it could provide me with a safe refuge..or some solution to my circumstance (based on viewing the present moment through the lens of old mental patterns).
However as I questioned the validity of what my mind was telling me (from the observer state) I began to see things in a different light. I began to see that there were motivations for these fears as they related to my sense of self (my ego). I began to see, that on some level I was receiving some sort of psychological payoff for the views and perspectives that I had nurtured for years. In some cases this payoff was simply to insure "my" existence. My ego was willing to create these distortions of reality in order to for "me" to exist. I began to see that it was a con. A con not born of malice, but of protection of my sense of self, and to serve me. Later, from the place of compassion and understanding for myself, I could begin to let go of some of these patterns that no longer served me..and begin to awaken to a brand new perception of the world and myself. This also required for me to trust. It required me to trust in the concept of G-d (pure Love), and to trust that no matter what happened (even if it meant the end of my existence) that I would still be connected to Love. I began to see slowly that I was going sane...the biases, judgements and fears I held for years gradually began to give way.
I discovered that this awakening required heresy... or at least overcoming my fear of it. I would have to destroy concepts and "beliefs" about the world (and my existence) that had kept me "safe".
"On one level, wisdom is nothing more profound than an ability to follow ones own advice. However, there are deeper insights to be had about the nature of our minds. Unfortunately, they have been discussed entirely in the context of religion and, therefore, have been shrouded in fallacy and superstition for all of human history." -Sam Harris
As I questioned these things, I began to peel back these layers..peering deeper into my motivations for having these thoughts and story lines about myself in the first place. I needed to explain to myself why I perpetuated toxic relationships, or felt like a "loser", or couldn't quite reconcile the "storyline" of my life. What did I need it all to mean? As I dug deeper the most common element was that I needed to create a "self image" that could be loved. How could I be loved without a "self" (an Ego, an Identity)? After all our world tells us that we need an identity to be loved. In modern times, "celebrities" illustrate this concept on steroids. I learned a little later on that I couldn't truly BE love with one.
Here's an example of peeling back the layers, and unraveling the mind from the observer state:
During this experience, I had some severe bouts of paranoia. If you have ever experienced paranoia as a result of being stoned (on pot), it was like that... The bad part of it was that it wasn't going to go away in a couple of hours. No, I was going to have to either figure my mind out, or suffer. The energy of this awakening, or "high", wasn't going away. It was sink or swim.
So, as I worked through this paranoia, slowly I began to ask myself what is the payoff for this?
I realized in my case it was two main things. Number one, being paranoid that someone or something was "after me", insured my existence and that I was an important person. The truth is, that (subconsciously) I didn't really feel like I was very important and wondered silently if my life meant anything or could be useful to anyone else. (I never realized this consciously before) So, the payoff for this paranoia was that it gave me a sense of importance.
Number two, I realized I had leaned on others out of a sense of co-dependency or lack of will to stand up for my own ideas or position. So, I had given up personal power and control in areas that I really wasn't OK with. I realized that this gave rise to a paranoia too and a tendency to demonize others, based on my own inability or lack of will to speak my truth and take control of things that directly affect me.
So, I began to work on these types of behavior patterns in my future choices and behaviors... but the realization alone, was a huge stress release.
This is just one small example of many of things that I had to work through. There were many sleepless nights in order to come to some of these realizations about myself. It can feel pretty brutal to see yourself in a new light!! The harder the "medicine" (realization), the harder the thought pattern was to wake up to. Self forgiveness is key (and gratitude for seeing and becoming free of the pattern). In each case, though, it was worth it as I began know myself on a deeper level.
On some level, I think many of us have deceived ourselves at some point or another.. the thing about it is, of course, no one can figure out the deceptions but YOU. While my awakening to many of these subconscious mental patterns seemed like a descent into madness, somewhere along the lines I realized I was actually going sane. In doing so, I could also see firsthand many of the insanities around me, and how they had held me in confusion for so long. Just as I had treated myself with compassion and understanding, I knew I would need to try to approach future situations with the same commitment to seeking an inner perspective.
Note: As an exercise, make it a game to look within your thoughts. Ask yourself what do I have to gain from this viewpoint? Peel back the layers. Some patterns can have many layers..
When you believe in things that you don't understand...then you suffer, Superstition ain't the way --- Stevie Wonder
Just a personal note: There is nothing new under the sun. I am just attempting to present info. here that has helped me. I hope to present it in a clear way based on my experience with anxiety which was a spiritual, psychological and emotional awakening for me. In retrospect of this experience I have been reading as much as I could to come to a deeper and more grounded understanding of this seemingly mystical thing that happened to me (so that I could share it with you). I'm not a doctor or a scientist. Please know this is only my experience. Yours will obviously be different, but since my experience was so similar to others I've talked to, I am hoping this may be helpful or useful to you in some way. It's also a way that I hope to share the love with you. That is my purpose here.