Do I Actually Exist?
It’s easy to talk about the spiritual principles of having no identity. I can’t even endorse the suggestion that it’s hard to drop an identity. The truth is that dropping it is easier, technically, than holding on in a lifetime of maintenance. There is definitely a difference between how it feels though, a difference between living in a state where you are actually identified with something and feeling the grip on that identity lose all strength.
For many years I effectively hid myself with and behind horses and the animal kingdom. I had no idea I was hiding, mind you, but I was hiding my heart. And I was working hard at it! I kept trying and trying to be a “horse person”, to somehow fit somewhere, anywhere, in a very paradoxical equestrian world that straddles many different expressions of simultaneous control and surrender. To be with horses at all requires some level of surrender to the potential of real, physical danger. Surrender of this flavor in the presence of beings who have no desire for personal gain becomes a tempting carrot for an ego to claim and wield control. The animals almost always just let the control win.
I was given so many awarenesses that my journey with the animals was not about the animals, it was about humanity. Many times the reminder was given to me very directly, in words, that working with animals is actually about working with people. Of course I ignored that in preference of the safety I felt in the barn where I knew how to heal and regenerate every aspect of life. As long as it was at the barn.
Working with animals is actually about working with people. One day I looked in the mirror. There was a human there. It kind of freaked me out. That day, my perspective changed. That was the first day I actually considered applying the concept of the absence of judgment, although I did still have some fight in me.
If working with animals is actually working with people, and I am one of the people, what are we “working” on? Or with? Or what? It didn’t matter, I'll do it as long as I can be at the barn.
Can you see it? Can you see the identity in there? When nothing in life played by the rules (which I could control), when nobody was nice the way they were supposed to be, when there were no doors open and no breeze coming through the windows, even if I couldn’t physically be at the barn, knowing who I am at the barn with horses and animals was enough to get me through anything. It was enough to keep me on the planet. Literally. Even while my days were filled with computer servers, corporate stuff, systems and job descriptions, I was still at the barn, guiding people with the same heart that guides abused horses. The results were beautiful. Magical. As long as I was at the barn.
When you can take the barn with you, what motivation is there to ever leave?
This is the journey. This is the exploration beyond identity. What motivation is great enough to step out of an air-tight comfort zone when there is absolutely reason and no evidence that existence even happens on the other side of the barn doors?
For me, “spirituality” wasn’t even close to a good enough reason. I learned some of the best guilt-infusions out there, and being a better person still wasn’t anywhere near motivation enough to leave the barn.
Money, prestige, have, do, have, do…all of those were meaningless. They are all very easily controlled, to either have or not-have. When it came down to it, the only real motivation to draw me out was the exploration of whether or not I actually exist. If “I” am afraid to leave the barn, who am I talking about? Who is afraid?
Maybe there will be failure. Maybe there will be abandonment. Maybe there will be accolade. Maybe there will be overwhelm. Maybe I’ll be able to handle it. Maybe I won’t be able to handle it. Maybe I’ll have to do it all by myself. Maybe everyone will do everything for me. Maybe I won’t have any control!
It made me wonder - if it is “I” asking whether or not I exist, I wonder who is asking all of those “maybe” questions!
The questions you ask are part of your uniqueness. If you’re asking the same maybe questions and getting the same answers or non-answers as everyone else, I wonder who is actually doing the asking and who is actually providing the answers. When it’s you, your own uniqueness, you will feel the awareness move. You feel the movement through your entire body.
For the first time today, I felt a new movement. One that felt like failure. And at the same time like freedom.
An album of photos appeared, photos of many people working with horses. Beauty everywhere! So much love and connection, the kind of communication between humans and horses that I used to bang my head on things just to get people to notice. And here it is now, it’s a “thing” now, to dance, to acknowledge the love. Suddenly there are a whole lot of people in my barn!
When I saw the album of photos, that’s when I felt something new. It was an absence. The sense of absence was new. It felt like failure. I had to ask questions…
Why "failure"? What’s missing here? There was an absence of thoughts like, “That should be me.”
What else is missing here? There was no desire to prove anything.
Anything else missing? There was no charge, no push or pull. The photos were sensational images of people dancing with horses. They are divine! I had no desire for control. No desire to go back to the barn.
Here was that sensation of failure. The ego, even when it’s relatively on board and understands that its own dissolution is what we’re doing, still generates the sense of failure when we no longer require control, no longer have anything to prove. We have failed at total domination. I know it’s probably supposed to feel like elation, but sometimes it feels like failure. The most exquisite, sweetest, gentlest failure.
I know who I am when I’m in the barn. So what happens when I don’t feel like being in the barn anymore? Am I really going to go back to all of the “maybe’s”? Those were never my questions in the first place - they were handed to me by others with equal or greater desire for control. If I’m not going back to hide in the barn, and I’m not going to re-live all of the maybe’s, then how will I know who to be?
Being is generated from the inexhaustible source that is animating your body. It has no questions about its identity. It has no desire for control and no fear of what it may be missing. Your being feels like no other being - how would you even begin to compare? Comparison questions all require those “maybe” questions, or something like them, and we’ve already established that those aren’t your voice anyway.
Seeing the photos today and feeling the absence of control, the unfamiliarity of that change, opened my awareness to feeling something new. There is no name for it other than be-ing. My own being with nothing to prove. My being obviously exists…I can feel it happening. It requires nothing more, although there is SO much to enjoy.
If I’m going to say “I” exist, I really want to know whether I’m talking about my being or about the maybe’s. Maybe’s certainly exist, but I’m not sure how much of a contribution they can be to my Being, which is already whole and lacking nothing. If they are a contribution, bring them on! But it’s funny how they always drop away when I come back to my priority, the greatest motivation of knowing, not understanding but knowing what it feels like to be.
Lucky for me I still get invited to visit barns and horses because I love them! The richness is so much greater with no identity to maintain. The spirituality part just takes care of itself.