Let’s begin the new year with a story…
Once upon a yogi time, a master and his student were walking by a river.
They came upon a beautiful young woman who needed to cross over.
The master picked her up, carried her across the river, and put her down on dry ground. Then the master and student walked on.
As they walked, the student grew more and more agitated. Finally he burst out, “How could you touch and carry that woman on your shoulders?! That’s against everything we believe!”
The master said, “I left her by the river. Why are you still carrying her?”
The master left the woman by the river, while the student carries the memory of the event with him.
Or does he? Is the student remembering the event? Or is he, rather, carrying the weight of his interpretations and judgements about the event? I suggest it’s the latter.
The student is carrying-on the unresolved emotions of the past.
We all have this “carrying-on consciousness,” it’s a tendency of mind; the tendency to:
- Fixate on self-limiting/suffering-inducing interpretations of the past.
- Carry the unresolved emotions of those interpretations with us
- Perpetuate an identity of incompleteness (based on interpretations)
When we’re identifying with carrying-on consciousness, we miss the present moment. Rather, the present moment is obscured in a self-perpetuated fog of incompleteness.
Lost in the fog of incompleteness, carrying-on consciousness relives insults and injuries. It amplifies and sustains the experience of incompleteness.
Over time, carrying-on consciousness encodes this “fog of incompleteness” as patterns of somatic tension and emotional reactivity that can cripple the capacity to engage whole-heartedly with life.
But as the story suggests, there’s more to us than this carrying-on consciousness.
There’s also the “master consciousness” within.
This master consciousness offers a way of being that fully embraces the present moment. When we inhabit master consciousness, interpretations don’t disappear. But, now we can recognize interpretations as interpretations. We don’t confuse assessments of life for life itself.
When we align with master consciousness, emotions still rise and fall. But, with master consciousness we are not carried away by emotions into the fog of incompleteness. We release (rather than repress) emotional reactivity.
Master consciousness engages with life on life’s terms.
Master conscious attunes us to the wisdom of life. We listen to life, and allow life to point the way. When we inhabit master consciousness, we are disciples of life.
Carrying-on consciousness clings to outmoded beliefs—seeking safety in rules, anxiously trying to control and manipulate life.
Master consciousness opens to life and releases the past.
Master consciousness is able to simultaneously release identification with patterns of the past while opening to the intensity of the present moment.
Adopt the master consciousness for a moment.
With master consciousness we can notice the student, the carry-on consciousness that is walking beside us, and consider:
- What memories is the student within us carrying into the New Year?
Notice the thoughts, emotions, and beliefs that are encoded in those memories.
- How do we feel the memories in our bodies?
What sensations arises with the memories? Where do we feel them in our bodies?
- What are we carrying that may perpetuate suffering and struggle?
Using master consciousness, discern the impact of carrying these memories into the new year. Discern with compassion, clarity, and the loving awareness of master consciousness.
- Now consider: What would it mean to let go and stop carrying these memories?
How would we think, talk, and walk into the new year, if we were not carrying the weight of those memories?
Letting go of the past doesn’t mean forgetting events.
If it rained on your parade in fourth grade, it rained. Letting go doesn’t mean denying or suppressing awareness of past events. It doesn’t mean denying the emotional impact or any of the consequences of the events.
So, what does it really mean to let go of the past?
Letting go means releasing our commitment to sustaining the identity of incompleteness.
The carrying-on consciousness is identified with an incompleteness story of the past. Something happened, and the carrying-on consciousness still feels incomplete. There’s no resolution. No release. Just the debilitating repetition of memories and the perpetuation of an identity of incompleteness.
But, here’s the terrible paradox of the carrying-on consciousness:
It both clings to, and pushes away, the experience of incompleteness. It invests energy in sustaining while simultaneously seeking to distance itself from the suffering the identity of incompleteness creates.
This creates a profound—and unresolvable—struggle. The experience of incompleteness. It’s the nature of carrying-on consciousness.
So, what can we do? Let’s return to the story.
The master is aware of the student’s struggle.
And what does the master do? The master pauses and turns towards the student with compassion and clarity.
The master invites the student to pause and to see through the fog of incompleteness and open to the fullness of the present moment.
And thus, the solution is with the master consciousness within you.
The master consciousness doesn’t judge the carrying-on consciousness. It turns towards the tangle of thoughts and emotions, towards the patterns of struggle with loving awareness. It shines the light of loving awareness into the body where memories reside.
Try this now:
- Shine loving awareness into the bodily locations where the somatic patterns, sensations, and tensions connected with your memories reside.
- Feel/imagine this light of loving awareness to be like spiritual sunlight that can infuse the somatic patterns and infuse the memories.
- Discover how the somatic patterns and tensions respond to the infusion of loving awareness.
- Just notice. Don’t try to transform the patterns. Don’t even nudge them to change.
- Observe with curiosity and discern how loving awareness does all the work.
Loving awareness is as gentle and powerful as sunlight dissolving fog.
Bathed in the light loving awareness, struggle releases at it’s own pace. Memory is purified of emotional reactivity and thoughts of incompleteness to reveal the true nature.
What is revealed when memory is purified? Wisdom.
Not ideas, rules, resolutions, or goals. Not stories of incompleteness or fantasies of completeness.
As memory is purified, the student becomes the master. The past is no longer a burden, but rather a source of energy and guidance that supports our undefended experience of life as it is.
The wisdom of the present moment shines forth. Our true path is revealed in the contours and patterns of this present moment—in the nitty-gritty of our lives.
So, what about this new year?
- What is it time for you to stop carrying?
- What is the master consciousness within inviting you to see?
Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.
Love & Shanti,
E & D
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Eric Klein
Editor: Emma Ruffin
Photo: Author’s Own