A Gorilla A Mirror & The Ego
By Christopher Snipes Dixon
It is interesting to watch the reaction of the animals looking at themselves in the mirror. Not only is the video funny and amusing, but it is also a revealing experiment of the difference between the animal and human condition. In looking into the mirror the animals see themselves for the first time; but rather than recognizing their reflections as themselves the animals see their reflections as separate entities from themselves. By observing this within the video, the reactions of the animals can serve us in our practice of living in the present moment and seeing into the nature of things as they are.
The Mind & The Ego
One of the functions of the mind is memory. It serves us beautifully on the one hand, by allowing us to build upon acquired knowledge. For example, the ability to retain information is what allows a 3rd grader who is learning the multiplication table to in time learn higher levels of math which in turn helps him eventually begin a career as theoretical physicist. No matter the career path one takes there is a certain foundation of knowledge at its base. On the other hand, memory in the company of other faculties serves to create constructions on reality that are not present. These constructions cause delusions for us (See Music: A Footprint of the Universal Expression). For example, a child comes into this world with no sense of separation between himself and his environment. However, in order to fit into society he must learn to take on an identity (no negative condemnation intended). He must identify with his possessions (mine vs. yours), then he eventually is conditioned to identify with his physical body (me vs. you), and then he is conditioned to identify with his mind (I vs. thy). Although the child might not be aware of it he has become attached to a collection of past experiences, ideas, and beliefs about the Universe and himself that he sustains through his thought process. The ‘mine’, ‘me’, and ‘I’ are natural progressions of an emerging mind; an emerging thought process. However, the fallacy occurs when the individual (localized consciousness) stops being identified with consciousness (awareness, the Self, the no Self, God, etc.) and becomes identified out of ignorance and necessity with the thought process.
It is as if the infinite blue sky is consciousness and a thought, whether verbal or pictorial, is a cloud. In time the child begins to internalize the education he receives from his family, the school system, and the wider culture in which he is brought up in; more clouds begin to cover the infinite blue sky until it is no longer visible due to the rapid succession of clouds crossing its landscape. Like on a rainy day, we look up and see a gray sky (the mind) but we know that the gray sky is composed of finite clouds (thoughts) exiting and entering the area. The blue sky remains untouched before, during, and after the clouds take shape and dissipate. Both are beautiful as long as the child is able to maintain his identification with the blue sky. With this identification he is able to witness the clouds (maintain a peaceful disposition no matter the external stimuli); however being identified with the clouds, he will be blown in whichever direction they go (happy/sad, optimistic/pessimistic, inflated sense of self/deflated sense of self).
Meditation: You The Ego & The Mirror
One small exercise we can do to withdraw our identification away from the mind (the thought process) and re-establish it within our consciousness is by standing in front of the mirror; but rather than looking into the mirror and seeing the reflection as the reflection, spend 5 minutes in front of the mirror and imagine that the reflection is you and You are the reflection (it is the exact reverse of how we normally look into a mirror; you are the one behind the glass). The experiment is simple but effective. Just try it. When it works suddenly you will become aware of yourself; your thoughts will stop for a moment. After you have this experience, spend some more time in the mirror and begin carrying this awareness with you for longer periods of time. It may be helpful to practice this experiment when washing your hands, brushing your teeth, or whenever you are in the presence of a mirror. In time you may not recognize the person you see in the mirror; it is because you are becoming more identified with your consciousness and less with your body and mind. Normally when you stand in the mirror you have an idea of the person you are seeing in the mirror; that it is “ your name” and “I am” funny, intelligent, dumb, boring, beautiful/ugly, rich/poor…these are all things we tell ourselves (we objectify ourselves first!). In time, by doing this technique we will become more comfortable with ourselves as a subjectivity (unconditioned consciousness, the infinite blue sky); helping us to live more deeply in the present moment without judgements and false identifications.
In form there is emptiness and in emptiness there is form. Form is form and emptiness is emptiness.