Life as we know it does not happen in isolation, there is dependence at every level. In the womb, we receive nourishment from our mother via the umbilical cord. Our first act upon coming into the world is taking a big gulp of air. With that first action of ours, we establish a lifelong dependence on Mother Nature. The passageway between the nostrils and the lungs becomes the umbilical cord that sustains life in the body. Just as the body leans on Mother Nature for energy and sustenance, the mind needs the external world. The senses are the essential link, through them “nutrition” flows into the mind. These inputs are digested by thoughts and then pieced together creating a composite experience of life.

Beyond the body and the mind lies the subjective inner body, the witnessing agent that is able to observe everything including the mind, body and the world around us. It is like a boss who sits behind a soundproof glass wall, able to see everything that goes on in the office but undisturbed by the noise and commotion. The subjective inner body is the true perceiver and cannot be observed. The “I” or individuality is the virtual perceiver which can be observed.

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The subjective inner body or the true perceiver does not have likes or dislikes or changing tastes or interests. It is the “I” or the individual self which has these characteristics. This important differentiator helps us pin our awareness to the real perceiver. Unlike the body that is nourished by external sources of energy or the mind which is animated by inputs through the senses, the subjective inner body does not depend on an external source. Like the sun, which is surrounded by the dark vacuum of space, the subjective inner body is surrounded by the vacuum of ignorance which is the mind. Just as the sun’s light and energy radiate in all directions and is able to penetrate the vacuum of space, the subjective inner body is able to extend its power of perception through the mind, however dense the layers of thoughts, memories or impressions may be.

Thoughts function like solar panels. They are energetic particles which don’t generate their own energy but absorb what is already there. Through each thought, energy percolates into the mind and the “I” uses this energy and usurps the role of the perceiver. The sun freely provides energy, but the end product of that energy, usable electricity that is generated carries a cost. Similarly, the true perceiver observes everything without an associated benefit or cost such as happiness or sorrow respectively. However, the false perceiver or the “I” may provide a cushion of happiness but it comes at a cost. If we embrace what we like through the “I”, we must also be ready to face what we dislike.

The quality of our awareness determines whether perception is from the subjective inner body which is beyond the mind, likes, dislikes etc. or from the “I” which originates in the mind. Awareness as a witness stems from the subjective inner body, and awareness as the doer comes from the “I”. Awareness is the umbilical cord that connects the “I” or the virtual perceiver to the subjective inner body or the true perceiver.

Just as the body needs a continuous supply of oxygen to sustain life and grow, the mind, for its growth, needs our attention and awareness to be directed on the past and/or the future. Thoughts of the past and the future are the two pillars on which the mind is constructed. When we maintain awareness of the present the mind gets depleted. This depletion of the mind is not in terms of mental fatigue which we feel but in its power to hold our attention. The past is the negative pole, the future is the positive pole and the present is the neutral pole. Greater the polarity between the past and the future, negative and the positive, stronger is the influence of the mind. The neutrality of the present moment, which favors neither the past nor the future gives us glimpses of the subjective inner body, the mother within from whose energy arises thousands of forms which we wear as our ever-changing outer personality.

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