The Jenga Tower
Updated: Feb 22
The truth of what you are is so simple and so intimate that it is constantly overlooked. Being seduced by the apparent outside world and all its experiences, we miss the essence of ourselves. In believing ourselves to be a separate body-mind functioning in a world, we are afraid and thus constantly strive for happiness all the while attracting unhappiness in equal measure. We are looking in the wrong direction.
So how is this truth to be found? What is the nature of it?
Ultimately, truth is.
It has no objective qualities and therefore cannot be described in words. Truth shines eternally, one need not try to find it. All that is required, is to see clearly what it is not. As our human predicament is a simple case of mistaken identity.
So in order to see what it is not, let's use the metaphor of building blocks...
We're going to build a structure using blocks. Each block will represent a fact about me.
So let's start with just one block at the bottom, which we will call, "I". We then add another block on top which we will call, "my name" (in my case it's David, but feel free to customize). We continue to add more blocks, which we can label nationality, gender, likes, dislikes, and so on and so forth. Bit by bit our construction seems to be growing, improving, evolving...
The structure then appears to go to school, maybe University, get a job, gather experience, all the time adding more blocks..."I know this, I know that, I've done this, I've done that..."
Some structures are quite interesting stories!
However, when we look at it like this we can clearly see that each block, or fact, is simply an idea, a thought. So all we really have is an accumulation of concepts, the totality of which we call, "me".
By its very nature, this is a rather precarious structure and so in constant fear of collapse, we attempt to reinforce it with concrete opinions, arguments, and points of view. All of which, due to the mind being a dualistic instrument, inevitably lead to contradictions, discrepancies, and hypocrisies. In other words, more and more thoughts create a complex web in which we ourselves get caught.
We can see this playing out in society at the moment in the form of "woke" thinking. People's minds flailing in all directions in an attempt to be free from limitation but being thwarted at every turn as they blindly charge down one mental cul-de-sac after another. Not realizing that the very nature of mind, of thought, is limitation! It is akin to the eternal punishment of Sisyphus. Laughable, if it wasn't so tragic.
Moreover, not knowing how to get out of our self-imposed predicament we have created another thought: death. We believe that when the structure collapses we die and therefore we live our lives in constant fear. In subscribing to the idea of death, we try to distract ourselves in the world of experiences and/or substances, or constantly try to think only happy thoughts.
Some say we must accept our lot, continue on, and when it's all over we'll finally be at peace if we've been good or damned if we've been bad. So they use tremendous energy and effort striving to be a "good person". Others believe that they'll have a better lot next time around and so have invented the concept of reincarnation, a.k.a. A convenience used to alleviate mental ailments. Regularly applied to the minds of many of the world's religious traditions like some kind of soothing spiritual balm.
Oh, how complicated we have made life for ourselves!
So let's keep things simple...
All of the above overlooks one important fact, which is the key to the whole conundrum...
You are conscious of the whole thing!
Every fact you have labelled as part of "me" appears in your awareness and in being aware of the whole structure of it, of me, you see it for what it is...a Jenga Tower made purely of thoughts!
This me appears to exist as an entity in its own right, but no matter how solid you think it is, however real you think it is, it is simply an illusion made out of concepts. Concepts which you are aware of, and since you are aware of them, you are necessarily not them.
Self-realization is simply this recognition.
Like an actor playing a character in a play, you are infinite conscious-awareness pretending to be a limited person. In actuality though, the character doesn't and never did exist. Believing it to be real, is the source of all misery.
This realization doesn't mean that the body-mind structure suddenly disappears (as is often feared). The thoughts that have been accumulated are necessary for functioning in the apparent world. You simply see through the illusion and realize that you have been asleep, dreaming the whole time. Upon waking up you recognize yourself to be That, which is beyond all concepts, the witnessing presence: conscious-awareness. In fact, you always were, it was simply that you forgot.
This is what is known as the direct path. Taking the perspective of what is primary and what is known by being, that is to say: consciousness. Thus cutting to the chase and getting to the source of the matter.
Alternatively, taking the position of "I am the body-mind" and seeking from there, is akin to removing Jenga blocks one at a time. Each time a block is removed, consciousness shines through the gap and one believes progress is being made. Various meditation practices, therapies, and indeed an entire Wellness Industry have sprung up around this approach. However, more often than not, when one block is removed, another is put in elsewhere as one is ultimately afraid of the whole thing tumbling down. When a happy balance of blocks and holes is seemingly struck, many people call themselves "Spiritual"...not seeing that having an identity as a "Spiritual person" is itself a self-imposed limitation. The underlying fear of collapse has not been transcended.
This approach often leads to the misunderstanding that thoughts are bad and one must get rid of them. Whereas all that need be done is not to attempt to remove thoughts, but simply to stop identifying with them. Stop believing them to be real.
Upon recognizing oneself as consciousness, however, this disidentification takes place spontaneously and is, therefore, a moot point.
Of course, the above Jenga metaphor by its very nature is limited in duality. To point more clearly to the nondual truth of the matter, one needs to stretch things slightly.
In doing so we can say that you, consciousness, are not only aware of thoughts but you are the "stuff" of which thoughts are made. Our ego-tower is consciousness apparently expressing itself as form but never being anything other than itself. Like the actor pretending to be the character but always being the actor.
When we realize this we immediately realize our infinite nature. What you are is present, whether thought-forms are appearing or not. Thus when the body (a thought) apparently dies, you do not. All thought-forms arise and disappear in you.
There is only the omnipresent infinite being and you are That!