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Can our anxiety come to an end?

Credits: Mario Sanchez

The swallows rode the wind high above the lake, dipping suddenly, slicing the air, gliding hither and thither. One wonders if this is how they play, or is it how they pray?

What is anxiety at its deepest depth? Is it not a queasiness in our being, a queasiness that makes us want to run away from the feeling we are feeling in the moment at hand? This feeling also seems to awaken an immense fear that we may be stuck in this state forever, and this thought intensifies the fear. This fear manifests as a cascade of thoughts, one after the other, thought acting on thought in the hope that the next thought may dissipate this queasiness and end the turmoil.

At an even deeper level, anxiety is a movement of energy in our being, a movement without a name. And we want to find out how this movement is fueled, and how it perpetuates from one moment to the next.

Because of the intensity with which anxiety moves in our being, naturally, we fight it and try to end it. This effort to control our state of being with an action or thought, in reaction to another thought, yet never ending anxiety completely, begins to create confusion within, and it is this confusion that perpetuates anxiety forward in time, without understanding which, there can be no ending of anxiety.

So, what is this confusion within? What we are calling confusion here is the belief or illusion that we are capable of controlling all our thoughts and states of being all the time. We can see that this is not so. Yet, we feel like we are the thinker of our thoughts, and as the thinker, we may be able to control our thoughts and think our way out of the thoughts that have begun to cause us this anxiety.

However, in reality, thinking is a movement of energy without a division between a thinker and thought. Our confusion that there is a thinker separate from thought who can control thought, wastes immense energy of our being in trying to fix the “problem” while keeping the real problem, the turmoil, alive. Any action arising from such a misperception of reality is bound to create and perpetuate confusion. While thought at times can bring a momentary relief from an intense bout of anxiety, it never leads to a fundamental dissipation of anxiety. Hence, anxiety keeps arising again and again, without end.

Now what is one to do with what we are finding out together about our inner confusion, about the fact that we are constantly trying to control thought with more thoughts, about how such a process is bound to create more turmoil? Are we to now try to not control our thoughts? No, because this trying is the desire for yet another form of control. We do not have to do anything in particular. All we have to do is to observe this in ourselves, that we are trying to control our anxious thoughts with more thoughts all the time, and that the effort to end anxiety in this way never dissipates the fundamental movement of anxiety.

Observing the process of anxiety and the effort we make to control it, is a subtle state of observation, a state with immense attention and care for all movements within. This caring attention is an awakening of intelligence, whose natural action is a loosening of the effort to control our inner movements, for we can see that the effort to control does not, and has not, led to a fundamental transformation in our being, even after a lifetime of effort. So instead, we begin to observe this inward movement carefully, alone, to understand the whole movement that is at play; no tool or technique can teach us how to do this, for we have to understand deeply that we do not need a technique to look within ourselves, that simply, it is possible to observe ourselves without a technique, at once, right away, right now, for we are already doing it in this moment as we are exploring this matter together, right now. And together, we have realized the immense importance of observing. We are not saying that this observation will go on to bring about a fundamental transformation. We are saying something much more radical: we are saying that this observation is the fundamental transformation. I hesitate from saying more about this transformation in words to avoid planting seeds of yet other states of being we begin to strive for.


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