On sanity and self-inquiry

By Jen Peer Rich

inquiryInquiry is a spontaneous, honest investigation into what is happening in my mind, body and experience. When I am inquiring, I am awareness within every inch of what is here- thoughts, sensations, images, attuned with my senses, standing fully inside of this moment. I am home.

When I first started doing inquiry, I had a minuscule awareness of my own thoughts. For me life was an epic submersion in the neurotic narrations of my mind and dysfunctional attachments to various body identities. I believed my thoughts were real and really who I am. This lead to a lifetime of disastrous and destructive behaviors because of one simple misunderstanding that happened early on in life- that I am my thoughts and thoughts are real.

If I believe in thoughts, and that my thoughts are me, I am beholden to an array of insecurities arising with each and every thought. To live life in the head like that is tumultuous, it’s how I understand insanity. It be insane is to listen all day to an imaginary tape playing repeatedly inside my head and believe those tapes as reality, so much so I live my whole life by them.

Getting sane with inquiry means what was a minuscule awareness of my thoughts became a broader awareness of thoughts. It’s like being in a dark room with just a flickering light. Perhaps I’ve always been aware of this light, but when I started doing inquiry I began to investigate these flickers of light. What is it that is aware? What is hiding in the shadows where my beliefs are? I was the caretaker for a mansion full of beliefs that I imagined defined my identities and the vast majority of these were painful. Well, actually all of them were painful!

So I am this huge space of darkness and there is light here too but what had been conditioned to pay attention to was only the darkness of beliefs. The flickering light of awareness drew my attention out of pure exhaustion. I was being destroyed by these beliefs, the whole thing felt like it was crumbing around me and it was really a matter of survival that I began to use the light to look around the beliefs without fear. As I did that, as I sat consciously with the contents of the house, I got even more sick. I found more shadows and beliefs that demanded that I be even braver and more honest with myself. I discovered there were rooms upon rooms of shadows inside where all the tapes I’ve been playing were stored, the all needed to be investigated and witnessed. It felt like the more I looked around, the worse it got. Maybe I imagined that to know myself would be a blissful event but it wasn’t, it was devastating, I was leveled.

Total destruction. Who wants to be destroyed?

What was devastated was the part of me that had so much invested in identities of insanity. The simple misunderstanding that I took on as an innocent child, that grew into the monster that I was caring full time for as an adult, had to die a tragic death, and I had to watch the whole house burn down to nothing.

What was destroyed was never who I really am, what was destroyed were the figments of imagination that ran my life. It was who I believed I was that was leveled. And what is left standing is the bright light of who I am. This is not a small flickering light, this the kind of fullness that extends itself freely into the moment and meets all of life, dances as all the shadows and lights up every experience consciously.

Inquiry destroys the tapes tucked away in my imaginary home to abide as space that doesn’t need to know who or where I am. I can be without depending on my mind to tell me what being here is all about. This space is rarely comfortable, but always interesting. It is present in and as everything no matter where I am. Everything is free to be here because I am freely here. This is how I understand sanity within this house I am full of empty rooms with nowhere to hide.

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jen peer rich Jen Peer Rich is a friend in presence. She lives in Atlanta with 5 rescued weenie dogs and is married to her best friend. Presently she’s working towards a graduate degree in Ecopsychology. She has two books about Nonduality available for free download at Friends in Presence or on amazon kindle. You can also find Jen writing and sharing digital art on the Facebook machine, she’s always open to making new friends.