We are our thoughts

From our e-book “We are here to Celebrate”

flight technology tools astronaut

Imagine that you have just created an ‘artificial intelligence’ computer program that enables a computer to gather knowledge through its own experience. Over time, the computer will have more and more knowledge and is able to make decisions and conclusions based on that knowledge. It does so by associating its current experience with the memory it has accumulated in its database. For example, in its database, it has information that cancer is usually fatal. When someone tells it that he is suffering from cancer, the computer will conclude that the person must be feeling sad and responds with sympathy. It decides on what is good or bad based on the same method of association.

After 10 years, you tell the computer that its parts are no longer functioning and needs to be shut down. The computer, through its experience, has learnt about death. It begs you not to shut it down as it does not want to die. You then tell the computer that it is not the ‘mind’ and ‘hardware’ but the intelligence (software) that enabled it to gather the experience. It is just using the hardware temporarily to interact with the world. Pretty soon, you will load the intelligence (software) into a new computer and new knowledge and experiences can be gathered.

The computer will argue endlessly; How can this be? My name is so and so, and I am an expert in this or that area, and the other computers know me and so on. You tell it that it is not the memory and knowledge that it has accumulated. Its Real Self exist in all computers.

Let us extend this to a network of 6 billion computers. The soul is the master program which controls the operating system of each one of the computer — it has disconnected itself from the programmer and from the network. The ego is the subsidiary program which controls the input/output system and has grown so big that it is controlling the master program itself. Awareness is if the master program connects with the programmer who designed the hardware and wrote the software.

If we observe our children grow up, we can see the similarity with the above analogy. When my daughter was a baby, she was purity personified. No burden of memories, knowledge or perception; mere purity. As she grew, I observed that she started to pick up knowledge and habits that corresponded with her environment. First, she acted more like her mother, the person she spent most of her time with. Then she picked up behaviors of her father, grandmother and friends, and even from the television. What I enjoyed looking at was the way she walked like me when we go on our evening walks.

That experience gave me a glimpse of what the ego is. I saw that my ego is my knowledge, perceptions and memories. I am beyond all these. My perceptions and beliefs are binding me from growing. I have to let go of them to truly learn and experience what the Masters are teaching. Our guru need not be a person. Let go of that perception too.

The whole world is our Guru…We are the universe. “What is the Self? It is memory… At whatever level, high or low, it is memory. Therefore, to understand the whole process of ‘myself’, I must understand memory, ideas and thought; which are the same things. There can be no self without thought or memory. So I must understand memory…You see the self, the you, is but a bundle of memories which project themselves in the form of thought. Thought and the self are not separate; they are one. This can never be the Truth
nor can it reveal the Truth. We must come to that which is beyond the mind beyond memory, beyond time.” – M McDonald-Bayne[1].

All enlightened masters have realised this. We have not. We understand it intellectually but we have not realised it. But, this knowledge is important as a pointer. Sometimes, when we try to answer a mathematical question, it is easier to work out the solution if we first look at the answer. Spiritual knowledge is like that. It acts as a pointer and we have to work with that. Each one of us has to observe and understand our ‘Self’. No one else can do it for us.

So are our conditioning, perceptions and knowledge. Researchers in the field of metaphysics say that the more they look, the more the universe look like ‘thoughts’ rather than clumps of matter. There is no separation between the thinker and his thoughts. It’s the chicken and egg story. One produces the other and vice versa. When there are no thoughts, there is no thinker. When there is no thinker, there is no ego and Reality is revealed.

‘I’ always have conflict with ‘my thoughts’. Who is the sufferer? No one. The sufferings are merely habitual tendencies being played out. We cling on to the identities that we have of ourselves. Our identity may be based on our profession, wealth, relationships, looks and assets and so on. However, we are not these things. We are not even our bodies. We make use of this mind and body to interact with the world just like how we make use of a car to move around. Some people even identify with their cars, that is, they depend on their cars to feel good about themselves. When they land into financial difficulties and have to sell their car, their entire world collapse.

Some of us identify with our job titles to such an extent that we cling on to the job even when circumstances clearly indicate that it is time to let the job go. Bill Gates’ definition of himself includes Microsoft. Microsoft is part of his ego and therefore, anything that happens to it, affects his ego or definition of himself. There will be a lot for him to think about and it can be a heavy burden.

So, as we strive for worldly success, we must remember that the things we gather will form part of our ego and may become burdensome to us. It is important to remember that a person’s ego can extend beyond his own mind-body complex.

The masters encourage us to develop equanimity so that we do not cling to perceptions and cause these perceptions to become part of our self-identification. For example, if one identifies strongly with a particular view of the world, any comments that contradict that view will hurt him. However, if he develops equanimity and accepts that nothing is completely good or bad, right or wrong and true or false, he will not identify with the perception as ‘his view’ and he can more openly accept other people’s point of view.

We are all part of the cosmic consciousness. We are not illusions just like our dreams are not illusions. Our dreams are real as long as we are in it and we identify with our dream body. When we wake, the dream is no longer relevant because we no longer identify with our dream body. But we identify with our ego when we are awake and then the world of duality is real to us from that perspective. So, our life is really a dream too. We put so much emphasis on the physical that we ignore the reality. This is similar to us putting too much emphasis on our dream body that we ignore the dreamer. Even if we take different forms in our dreams, we still do not realise that they are merely our mental creations. When we are dreaming, if somehow we become aware that we are only in a dream, we will not be caught up in the dream. We can enjoy it and even create the circumstances that we want.

Once while listening to a devotional song, my six year-old daughter asked me who the Divine Mother is. I was stunned for a while because this is such a confusing concept to explain. Then I told her, “When you dream, there are many characters in your dream. Because all these characters are in your dream, you are all of them. As far as the dream is concerned, you are the Divine Mother. The Divine Mother of the universe is something like that. We are all part of her and she is part of every one of us.” Put in this way, she could understand the concept.

Young children are happier because they have not developed their egos fully. They do not think so much of the past and future. They only think about the game they want to play in the present. Ah, there is where peace lies. To remember how we used to be and to live that life.

Time is a concept and this itself says it all. To live happier lives, we must learn to use time without being caught in it. We suffer because we are caught in TIME. We travel to the past and to the future unconsciously. Because of that, negative emotions such as guilt, anger and craving arise. By unconsciously travelling to the past and the future, our ego becomes stronger and this disturbs our peace of mind in the present moment.


[1] M McDonald-Bayne was a sought after healer of his time. He wrote about his life in the books ‘Beyond the Himalayas’ and its sequel ‘The Yoga of Christ’.

%d bloggers like this: