The intention of this book is not to create more concepts, but to question the concepts we already have – specifically the concept of the Self, an idea that most people never address. To use a sailing analogy: if the questioning has been successful, your vessel has been untethered from its moorings and set adrift. Floating away from the safety of the harbour as the tide pulls you into the enormity of the ocean. However, this is what your vessel was built for; sailing the ocean is its function. You are leaving behind those who believe they need the protection of the harbour; for them, as long as they are securely moored to the dock, comfort is found in the gentle ebb and flow of the tide. For some, even the movement of the tide is disconcerting and so they keep their vessel in dry-dock where it is completely disassociated from its function and where there is no movement or connection to the ocean.
There are different levels of conscious awareness: many people are completely detached from the movement of the ocean, unable to see beyond their personal stories and the chatter in the head, living solely within that myopic and fixed paradigm they are in dry-dock. Some are moored to the dock feeling the underlying ebb and flow of the tide, vaguely sensing a deeper level of consciousness within their everyday lives. Others are sailing within the safety of the harbour walls getting a feel for the sea and exploring a deeper awareness. Those who have awakened to pure consciousness have left the harbour behind and are sailing the ocean. This analogy may give the impression there are progressive stages of consciousness; however, awakening can happen in an instant or conversely the same level of consciousness can last a lifetime. So, someone in dry-dock can suddenly find themselves pitched into the ocean, which can be extremely disconcerting and it can take years to find their sea legs. For those who have spent time exploring within the harbour walls entering the ocean may be less disconcerting. Alternatively, someone can spend their entire life moored to the dockside, their only connection with the ocean being the gentle ebb and flow of the tide.
Any movement in consciousness, whether from dry-dock to dockside, or harbour to ocean, is moving from the known to the unknown and can be daunting. The natural inclination is to stay with the safety of the known. However, as the ocean beckons, you will begin to realise the vessel is at home there, and start to sense its affinity with the sea as it rises and falls effortlessly with the swells. The movement you experience as the vessel cuts through the water gives a sense of freedom you have never experienced and with the wind in your face and the sea air filling your senses you feel more truly alive than ever before. Allowing the vessel to be what it was meant to be and fulfil its natural function is liberating, and you will smile as you realise worries about your ability to sail were totally unfounded - this is what you were born for. Feeling at one with both vessel and ocean, you realise the safety of the harbour was a prison you created for yourself, and for the first time in your life you taste real freedom.
For us to set sail into the deeper consciousness of the I before I am we must first realise the prison we have made for ourselves. This ‘prison of our minds’ has been discussed throughout this book: it is the personal story we carry with us that limits and defines who we believe we are. It forces us to live in the past or project into the future and therefore misses the present moment. It tells us that we have limited time and must make a success of our lives by achieving certain material (and spiritual) goals. It tells us we are individuals who have to prove ourselves by measuring up to other people’s expectations, and must strive to reach our full potential (I should point out that as manifestations of the Absolute we have unlimited potential, however the way most of us ‘strive’ to achieve it is counterproductive as we fixate on the external world before understanding our inner truth). The prison of our mind tells us that happiness is found in the world of forms and so we become a measure of our possessions and achievements, and it tells us that we are in lack and the only way to become whole is to find that special person to complete us.
This I am not is a direct way of questioning that story by loosening the ropes that bind us to it - the tide will do the rest. Continuing to practice this I am not from within the illusion is like tentatively exploring within the harbour walls. Sailing into the ocean, however, cannot be a conscious decision, it will happen when it happens; just as when learning to ride a bicycle, you can never plan for that split second rush when you find yourself pedalling unassisted for the first time.
As your connection with the ocean grows, it becomes clear that the story of the illusionary Self you have been clinging to your whole life was a prison, initially created through your conditioning and then perpetuated by repetition and normalised through mutual agreement. Once the Self took root, it became an almost impenetrable fortress, guarded night and day by the ego. Living in the eternal present and being in touch with the I before I am, you will meet life with an open heart rather than a closed mind. Every person and every experience entering your life will be accepted and embraced at face value, rather than judged by a fixed personality with its story of how people should act or how events should unfold. Freedom is liberation from your vice-like mind and a return to the open expanse of the oceanic freedom where once again you are one with the natural flow of life.
Your ‘vessel’ (of course it is not ‘yours’) is the body-mind with all its conditioning and cumulative experiences. If it has been conditioned to sit in dry-dock then it knows nothing else – its fixed mind-set divides everything into constituent parts, and dissects and categorises in an attempt to understand and control. This is most people’s reality; they may have a vague idea of the ocean but will question or deny its existence because they can see no evidence of it in their lives. They have been raised and educated by others, all of whom are in dry-dock, and therefore those who talk of sailing the ocean are met with scepticism or ridicule. They look for safety in knowledge and understanding in an effort to minimise change and tame the unknown, and they suffer because of it. You are designed to sail the ocean not stagnate on the dockside, and there is a deep primordial awareness of this. All it takes is a willingness to open one’s mind to other possibilities. While the dockside seems a safe place it actually creates immense suffering because of the constant need to control life and the expectations of how it should unfold and so you fight a continual battle against what is.
Recognition of the ocean’s reality can happen after years of personal suffering or through contact with those who experience it directly, or a combination of both. Recognition is the opening, once the body-mind realises it is immersed in the ocean and at one with the great source then the egoic mind, while continuing to perform its function, is no longer the captain – it becomes the second-mate. You are no longer the constrained entity at the mercy of your conditioning but rather an open expanse of possibilities. The egoic mind is usurped and works in the service of the Absolute. You come alive in the ocean, never to return to the safety of the harbour, finding peace being what you truly are: divine presence arising from the one source. This book is an attempt to untie the ropes that bind you, ending your repetitive thought patterns and liberating you from the illusion of a Self. Once you are set free upon the ocean the worn pathways of your thoughts are washed away and every present moment is born afresh.