Unplugging the Inner Answering Machine

by admin on March 29, 2010

            I realized this morning that I had accidentally installed an “inner answering machine” that responds with a pre-recorded message to just about everything that happens in my life. It’s somewhat annoying.  

            I’ve lately been reading a lot about the nature of awareness, and attention, and how the universe may in fact be “self aware.” (See Amrit Goswami,  The Self Aware Universe, What the Bleep Do We Know, etc. ) It  has been pointed out to me that things rise up in awareness. Thoughts, objects, perceptions, feelings, sensations, the world itself all rise up and fall away in awareness. But awareness itself is still, is ever-present and thing-less, as it were.            

            Awareness itself is not a “thing,” not an object with neatly defined edges and textures. Edges and textures rise up in awareness, but awareness itself is edgeless, texture-less. (I’m not being airy-fairy here. I’m describing our common experience. Just take a look, see for yourself!)   

            Since awareness is “thing-less,” it is also timeless, always just “right now.” Memories of the past rise up in awareness, and projections of the future rise up in awareness, but awareness itself is always only right now.  

            Enter the inner answering machine.

            Seems like no matter what happens—no matter what rises up in my awareness, be it in my physical body, in my mind, or in the bird feeder outside the kitchen window—a little voice automatically switches on. The voice starts commenting on whatever it is that is arising— agreeing with it, disagreeing with it, welcoming it or rejecting it, basically “leaving a message.”   

            Yes, the voice, this inner monologue, this inner answering machine is also something that is rising up in awareness. Yet I see the voice is actually quite mechanical, “pre-recorded.”  The message that the inner answering machine offers to whatever is arising is always based on memory, past conditioning, habit.  Curiously, I notice that I am deeply habituated to identifying not with the awareness which is alive, radiant, alive and clear, but rather with the stupid answering machine, the pre-recorded messages! 

            I now recognize that to simply “answer” the momentary call of life— to most lovingly, intelligently relate to whatever is arising in awareness in this moment— it behooves me to unplug the inner answering machine. Like an old friend calling, I “answer” life’s call— to see what’s new, what’s happening, what’s up—  by simply being present, being aware (two words for the same thing-less thing).

         Recognizing that there is in fact an “inner answering machine” is the first step in unplugging it. Awareness itself, attention itself, melts the plug. Fortunately, life itself does indeed have my number, and calls repeatedly!