Last week as the Fourth of July was approaching, America’s Independence Day, my thoughts turned to “freedom” of the more lasting kind. I had also selected this topic for the monthly dojo meeting with my students on the Monday after the holiday, so I meditated on the topic. The following contemplation emerged:

  • Since you can see the body, you’re not the body. You’re the seer.
  • Since you can feel emotions, you’re not emotion. You’re the feeler.
  • Since you can observe thoughts, you’re not thought. You’re the observer.
  • Since you can wield energy, you’re not energy. You’re the wielder.
  • Since consciousness allows you to witness, you’re That.
  • Being That; consciousness, witness, bliss… you’re free.

Let’s take each one and expand on it.

The body is something we relate to very easily because it’s with us everyday. Its pains and pleasures are never farther than our next action or behavior. Our identity is closely tied up with the body. Yet, who is it that feels pain or pleasure? Who is it that looks and sees your hand or leg? If we are the body, then how is the body self-observant?

Most of us are very close to our emotions as well. We live on an emotional plane and relate to life and others emotionally. This can be challenging. At the same time, emotions make life richer. We have the capacity to feel. If you know what you’re feeling, who is it that knows? Who is it that identifies anger or joy? Is it the body? It can’t be because there’s a knower who knows the body already.

The mental realm is highly regarded. As a society and culture we’re heavily invested in the intellect. And like the body and emotions, we live with our thoughts night and day. All the while though there’s an awareness outside of the thought process that knows the thoughts we’re thinking.

We also have the ability to sense the energy of a meeting, event or relationship. We get a feel for someone in a direct way. Similarly we can create or generate a certain energy that infuses whatever we may be doing. But we’re more than a flavor of energy. And there’s the sensing. Who senses energy? It can’t be the thought process because there’s an awareness that already knows that.

There is something beyond our mind which abides in silence within our mind. It is the supreme mystery beyond thought. Let one’s mind and subtle spirit rest upon that and nothing else.


Maitri Upanishad (VI: 20)

If we can be conscious of the body, emotions, thoughts and energy, then we must be something other than each of these, or even a conglomeration of them. In the same way, we’re free of their limitations. If we’re not the body, we’re not bound by it. If we’re not emotion, it doesn’t have a hold on us. If thoughts aren’t what we are, they can’t dictate to us. If we wield energy, then energy we’re exposed to is powerless over us.

It’s not even a question of being free. We are free. In truth we’re formless. We come from silence, dwell in silence, and play in form.

Don’t let the play trap you.

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Being Free