As I sit to write, I sit with all those versions of myself that have done this and will do this. As you sit to read, you too are joining yourself across time. I am also the reader and you are also the writer; just the two of us have formed a vast congregation just now. You are encountering yourself, always.
Everywhere you wander, in all these woods and deserts, you are surrounded by ghosts of self. Versions of yourself live everywhere.
When you are irritated by that particularly offensive professional, you are arguing with yourself as you will be if you continue down his or her road of life. His road is your road.
When you struggle to deal fairly with that person who has bad motivations, you are resisting your own shadows of decadence and desire. You can only loathe motivations that are within you.
None can insult you unless you care about their opinion and agree to it in some way. You can only be ignored by people whose attention you crave.
You don’t deserve pain, you aren’t encountering your karma among these ghosts. This isn’t about blame or judgment. You are creating pain by agreeing that pain exists and collaborating with it; you can stop in an instant if you can change your sight.
When you are wounded by your diet, it is the pain of the slaughtered animals and the greed of business that you feel. You can choose to opt out and return to the garden bounty.
When you are pained by loss of social status and the oppression of government, you feel the sharp elbow you’ve dug into other peoples’ ribs. You must invent social status to lose it – it’s less substantial than vapor.
When you are saddened by loss, it is your own distance from faith and love that makes you cry. All loss reminds us of the distance we feel from divinity and infinity, of that loss. Nothing that really exists can ever be gained or lost.
Everywhere you struggle, you find the specters of your ambition.
In all these commutes and relationships, you are still seeking to control the world. You want to master the rising and subsiding of life, to freeze the flux so that you are safe and victorious. But there is no such you that lives in flux or is not victorious.
It is not that the barking dogs are a nuisance. It is that you wish to bark and yap, and deny yourself, and are angered by your denial.
It is not that you have to work your life away for other people’s gain. It is that you wish to gain through other people’s efforts, that you’ve enrolled in that game, and that you are frustrated by your lack of mastery.
It is not that you are a lost soul in a chaotic world. It is that you envision a perfect world to be different than what you perceive, for your soul does not agree with your ego. You feel chaotic because you are unharmonious.
Let the waters still.
You must let the talking drift into silence. You must let the endless rushing slow to a comfortable pose of simply observing. Confusions of identity have disturbed you; all this effort comes from blurry sight.
When you stop thrashing about as you swim, the pool becomes serene and you drift effortlessly.
When you stop desperately grasping at pleasure, the meadows flood with sunlight and birds sing for you.
When you abandon the battling rams, you cannot be pierced by the horns of little beasts.
You have other vibrations. You are also the mountain, the songs, the light, and the pool. You are the sitting frog, his silence, and his stillness. You are the rider of the track, observing the rising and setting of yourself, the sun, as you journey from dawn to dusk. Your attention and your awareness are the ways you choose among the ghosts of self.