By Adam J. Pearson
We Remember To Be Unhappy
The Storytelling About the Unhappy “Me:” A Mental Process of Remembering
The dissatisfied self, the unhappy self needs to be remembered. Did you get that? The anxious, fearful, depressed, unhappy, or otherwise dissatisfied self needs to be remembered to be summoned up in the spaciousness of the present moment.
Why? Because the sense of the unhappy self is generated by a mental process of storytelling about “me,” and all of the units that its stories consist of, all of the content of its stories, and all of the words it uses to tell them are stored in memory. Thus, the sense of being a dissatisfied self is remembered, actively remembered in the present moment.
So, when the unhappy self is remembered, the brain generates a sense of unhappiness in the present moment. Do you see the link?
The remembering of the ‘self’ you take yourself to be is what gives rise to the overwhelming majority of the suffering that arises throughout the day.
Remembering What Is Already Over Makes Us Suffer As If It Were Happening Now
Were you ever having a great day when suddenly, something triggered a memory of an event that happened to “you” many years ago, and you immediately felt overcome with waves of sadness or regret?
Consider what occurred in that situation. Without the remembering? Peace and joy.
With the remembering? Misery.
What happened? You remembered to be unhappy! You remembered a past sense of ‘self’ into the present and experienced sadness as a result. And then, in the mother of all ironies, you forgot you were remembering and took yourself to presently be what you just remembered from the past. The selfing mental process is so subtle and so quick. It snaps on us like a mouse trap and stings when it does. Ow!
Can the remembered sense of “me” be what you really are in any meaningful sense? Of course not!
Why not? Because you were here before it showed up! You were at the party of this moment first and the sense of an unhappy “self” showed up afterward. Because the remembering mental process that produces the sense of the unhappy “self” relies on memory, it’s based on what’s not happening now, not on what is.
Because the remembered sense of being an unhappy ‘self’ comes and goes while you remain to see it come and go, the unhappy self can’t be you. You’re prior to it; you come first, then it shows up later. And when it isn’t arising, you remain.
Thus, there is no need to get out of the unhappy self because you were never in it! You are the present reality in which the memory of the unhappy “me” shows up and wreaks havoc in the body-mind like an uninvited guest who trashes a party while shouting “YEAHHH BREAK STUFF!! WOOOHOO!” and then feeling guilty about it later.
The reality is that there is no unhappy guest apart from the remembering. All the mayhem the unhappy “me” seems to cause is all in your head; you’re prior to all of it. The party of your living presence never gets interrupted! It only seems to do so. In truth, you remain whether the remembering is going on or not, so you are not dependent on it. You are free from the need to be liberated. And that is the greatest freedom of all.
You Are Still Here When You’re Not Remembering Your Story Of An Unhappy “Me”
You Are What Shines Through The Gaps In The Remembered Story of “You”
What is present in between the rememberings of the story of an unhappy “me”?This question does not need to be settled by thinking; the answer can be seen simply by looking directly, becoming aware of the gaps between the stories when you seem to forget the dissatisfied “self” and feeling the sense of deep presence that shines through in their absence.
You illuminate all the stories and shine through them without ever being bound by them. Your presence remains even when the mind isn’t actively remembering the story of the unhappy “me.” You’re prior to and beyond all of the stories. They never bound you in the first place, so you don’t even need to be freed from them; you’re free even from the need to be freed. Realizing that the bondage is imaginary because the “me” you think is bound doesn’t exist is the freedom.
As Paul Hedderman says, “you don’t need to get out of what you were never in. It’s enough to see you were never in it. That’s being out of it!”
In other words, it’s sufficient to see that the stories that generate the sense of being an unhappy “me” are not you; they come and go, but you remain. When we’re not trying to run the show by misconstruing life as “my life,” life takes over and flows through very naturally. It takes the wheel and begins to steer it very gently without us having to do anything.
In short, we are not hopelessly bound to the remembering of the unhappy “me.” We never were and we aren’t now. We only seemed to be. The more we turn our attention back to where we’re seeing from rather than the stories that we are seeing arise and fall away, the more we can rest in the reality of our true nature rather than in the fictional stories about “me” that the mind generates by processing its stored representations of the past.
Conclusion: Who Are You Before You Remember Your Story About “Yourself”?
The more we see that the story of “me” has nothing to do with our true nature, the more we begin to lose interest and withdraw our attention from it. As we lose interest and withdraw our attention from it, we cease to reinforce it. The gaps between the rememberings grow wider. The artificial sense of separation begins to dissolve. Life flows through more and more unimpeded when it is free from the burden of being “my life” and swept up in a story of “me.” Reality remains in the absence of all stories, and you are it.
I invite you to look and see what lies beyond the story of “you.” There’s nothing to lose except what you’re not, an unhappy “self,” which never was in the first place.
What are you before you remember your story about “yourself”?
What remains when the story isn’t here?
You are what you’re looking for.
What is aware of these words right now?
Part of a series on Nonduality: