The Man From the Mist
This is home , this spot right here , I always return to this place, both physically and mentally , in good times and in bad. Is it any wonder then that this is where he found me, in a deep dark and miserable mood and this is where he gave me that simple understanding that set me free, and with any luck I will be able to pass this understanding on and free others.
It was a freezing cold February morning and I was sitting on the beach in South Shields , near trow rocks , trying to meditate and get things straight in my head, always the same place , I love this place , this is my place , it doesn’t matter where I live ,which street ,which property , I’ve never felt like any house I’ve lived in is my home , not since I was a little boy and happily living with my parents and brothers and sisters in a town called Hebburn in Tyne and Wear , England, always I return to the same spot, my spot.
So there I was sitting on the beach , in my spot ,with the mist rolling in ,it was a real pea souper , a very thick mist, thick enough to choke on , from out of the mist came a voice, ” good morning paddy” he said in a strong steady voice, a voice that somehow sounded familiar, but I could not make out who the man was through the mist ” good morning ” I replied , that’s all I fething need ,please just leave me alone ,I thought.
” What’s the problem Paddy you look like your upset” he was closer now , about 5 foot away , I could make him out in the haze, who the hell is this I thought and how would he know I looked upset ,I can hardly make him out ,still I do recognise the voice so he must know me ,”just the same old crap mate, nothing unusual ,pondering the imponderables ,trying to make sense of it all , you know how it is”.
“I do indeed know how it is , so if there is something on your mind Paddy why don’t you let me help you ? go on try me “.
Wow ! who is this nutter? I do indeed no how it is , how arrogant can you get , still I’m sure I recognise his voice , he seems genuine and familiar, ok then let’s find out if he can help me , or is he just full of himself.
” Ok, well I was just wondering what I’m doing here ? what my purpose is ? you know how it is , I mean what’s the point of it all ? I really don’t know what life is all about , I keep trying but I get nowhere ,it’s just so demoralising and I’m so pissed off . I’ve just lost everything I have in the world again, for the third time at the age of 40 and I’m not sure I have the strength to try again , it seems completely point less to me and I’m ready to give up , so tell me mate what is the fething point ” let’s see how you answer that one smart arse.
” Well , you have 3 children don’t you paddy ? Have you lost them? Are they no longer interested in you ? Or are you no longer interested in them?” He asked.
“No, of course not, at this moment I feel like they’re the only thing in my life that I got right , they truly are the best part of my life ,and I’m in no doubt about their love for me , in fact if it wasn’t for them , I may have lost the will to fight or carry on , completely “.
He was quiet, maybe an outpouring of emotion wasn’t what he was expecting , poor sod , he was only trying to be helpful.
” Maybe that’s the problem , thinking life is a fight , or a struggle , it isn’t you know, life just is , there’s no mystery to it , tell me Paddy ,what do you see when you meditate?”
“What do I see , I don’t know what you mean, I don’t see anything, I just close my eyes and focus on my breathing , I try to shut everything else out and try to relax.”
“Ok then tell me , what is this “everything else “that you try to shut out?
” I don’t know , thoughts I suppose , I’m constantly thinking about something , everybody is , aren’t they? ”
Again he was quiet , I still don’t know who this man is , but now I’m in that awful position where you don’t want to ask someone’s name because you think you already know it, but you can’t remember it and you might offend them ,then he said these amazing words .
“Yes ,everybody is thinking all the time that is true ,the Buddhists call it the Monkey Mind because it never stops , it goes on and on always , but Paddy
You Are Not Your Thoughts”
I had to laugh ” Sorry mate you’re going to have to run that one by me again .what do you mean , I am not my thoughts ”
“I mean you are not your thoughts , when you meditate you quiet your mind , you do this so that you can see your thoughts for what they really are ,there just thought patterns , thought processes , they never stop. They are always there, it is only when you meditate that you notice this and are able to quiet them down ”
” Ok so tell me , is this the same for everybody , or is it just me?”
” I’m afraid it’s everybody Paddy not just you , everybody who has an ego talks to themselves in their own mind , every moment of the day , unfortunately most people are unaware of this and they just think it’s meant to be this way”.
” This ego you mentioned , what is it ?, what is the ego and how do I understand it?”
Again he was quiet for a moment, who is this man? I thought to myself , and how does he know about all this stuff, I’m not sure how he knows me , but he seems to know what he is talking about,’ you will know the truth when you hear it ‘, my mam used to say , well I think I’m hearing it now.
‘The ego is a self construct , it’s something you make up during the course of your life, everything you see, hear , touch or feel becomes a part of you , you then take in all this information and become the person you want others to see you as, this is the ego ,the monkey mind, the self talk that never stops, it goes on and on forever , but that is not who you are Paddy ‘
If that is not who I am then who am I, and how do I bring the real me to life , how do I separate myself from my ego , how do I find peace?
” There is only one way to do this Paddy and you have already begun, you do this by meditating , it is only during meditation that you can observe the ego ,because it is only during meditation that you can quiet the mind enough to watch your thoughts , you become the observer, you become the watcher, you become you”.
“Could it really be as simple as that, you’re saying all I have to do is meditate and watch my thoughts so that I can see them for what they are, and this will set me free?”
” That is exactly what I’m saying , you have to come to the understanding that there is no future and no past, there is only now , and in the now there are no problems , none whatsoever and Paddy guess what?”
” It’s always now”. He began to laugh , a lovely warm heartfelt belly laughter that caught me in its clutches and made me laugh too, wow this feels amazing , can it really be this simple , can it?
” Now it’s time for you to try again , come on Paddy I will meditate with you, then you can tell me what you see or more importantly , how you feel”.
He sat down on the freezing beach and I sat with him.
” Ok , let us begin , start by relaxing your whole body from the top of your head to the bottom of your toes , go into each part of your body in turn and focus on that point to relax it , then move on to the next bit. ”
” Next , just focus on your breath , breathe through your nose . Notice how the point of your nose is cooler as you breathe in and warmer as you breathe out , focus on this for a few moments , maybe 5 mins ”
” Now that you have relaxed , just watch your thoughts , become the observer , notice what you’re thinking about but don’t join in”
” Now Paddy , tell me what did you see or more importantly , how do you feel?”
” I see my thoughts , an unlimited amount of them , you’re not kidding are you ? I really do think all of the time , it never stops and its usually about problems I think I have , but they just aren’t real are they”
Again he laughed and I laughed with him.
” Ok so now tell me , how do you feel?”
” How do I feel? , I feel amazing , I think I get it , these thoughts , they aren’t real are they ?, I make them up, don’t I? So this is the ego , this self construct that makes you think about anything and everything apart from the present moment, no wonder people don’t get this , why aren’t kids taught this at school ?, why aren’t prisoners taught this in prison ,? why isn’t the whole world practicing this? , this is it , this is freedom.
And then I wept , never have I experienced a moment like it , absolute joy , an understanding ,’ I am not my thoughts, I am the observer , the watcher , my thoughts will trouble me no more .
“Thank you with all of my heart ”
” You’re welcome Paddy , but please tell me one more thing . now you realise that you are not your thoughts , what’s left ?,what remains of you?
Completely overwhelmed I sit there ,and I look , and I see.
” Only love” I reply
” Yes, only love” said the Man From the Mist”