The Appearance of the Doers

The Appearance of the Doers

The deeper you go, the less localized and more universal you get. For example, most experience their body, emotions, and thoughts as local and personal. But as you touch deeper into fine feelings, intuition, and bliss you find them more expansive and less personal. And yet, these more universal values may also feel more intimate as they’re closer to your true Self.

We can also look at this another way, through the elements. Earth is very specific, water has a little less distinctive edges, fire even more so. Each is less localized. Ditto the lower 3 chakras. But as you move to air and space, boundaries are perceived much less and we experience ourselves as in them rather than separate from them.

As our perception refines, we notice these subtler values much more directly. Soon we discover that life is plentiful in these layers too. Yet this life is not living in an earthly form with distinct boundaries like our body. They’re much less defined.

Just consider the mind for example. We create whole worlds in the dreaming mind that have no physical substance. In the same way, a life form on that level is more like a cloud than a defined object. And yet they can appear as they choose. Perhaps it’s useful if they appear to us in a way we can relate to, for example.

Further, our expectations (thought forms) can have an influence on how they appear. Some such beings are more influenced by expectations. Or they allow their appearance to be what the perceiver wishes. I call this personalization.

Just think of the appearance as like a set of virtual clothing.

It’s fine to personalize your experience of subtle beings but if we’re unaware of this dynamic, we can be misled by appearances. Appearances don’t tell us the nature of the being. This is also why it’s rather meaningless to debate what angels or other beings are supposed to look like. That’s like saying your dreams are supposed to look a certain way.

Most fascinating though is doership. Most people are living under the impression they are the doers. To sustain its sense of being in control, ego claims actions for itself, saying I did this, I was responsible, mine.

When we wake up to our nature as the Self, this identification falls away and we realize we are not the doer. We are the experiencer or observer, watching life unfold. Doing simply happens.

The question can then arise – what then is doing the doing? Where are my thoughts and emotions and experiences coming from?

The answer depends a great deal on refined perception. If it’s been unfolding already, we’ll have a sense of this. But if it’s not, it may take time for the devata value to become clear.

Another reason it can take time is karma. If we have a lot of unfolding dramas, the complexity of events can obscure the processes in play. But as we begin to wind down and simplify, the process gets much clearer.

In time we discover that everything happening around us is being guided. There are universal laws or principles that lead to erosion, the growth of plants, digestion, thoughts, music, and so forth. These principles are then applied through hierarchies of doers, coming right down to a very local focus. This bed of plants, this mind, that life. Thus we experience a plant flowering, thoughts happening here, an event happening there, and so forth.

The fascinating part is that these laws are not confined to any form as noted above. They can take whatever form is needed to express a result in a certain place and time. In other words, they may appear as an event rather than a being. As the jam falling awkwardly off your spoon, for example.

You’ll find you resonate with and emphasize certain laws of nature more than others. For example, we may have musical or mathematical abilities or have an affinity with the wilderness. Our challenges and our affinities lead to those areas of life we support the most.

As we become more conscious of these dynamics, the laws become perceived. This enlivens their abilities, and that enhances our support. As we become more awake, we help to awaken those laws we recognize.

The laws of nature express the process of experiencing. They evolve through experiencing so when we bring awake experiencing to their table, we help awaken them too.

As I’ve mentioned recently, the process of experience is the process of creation. As we awaken the process of experience through awake experiences, we also awaken creation, the forms of experience.

The awakening process isn’t about a person. It awakens everything.


Last Updated on June 12, 2018 by Davidya

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  1. Judy

    Hi David,

    I’m hoping you can shed some light on this. Age and experience has shown me that these days I definitely feel like I’m being guided. A sense of gratefulness persists; however, there’s an opposite dynamic that continues to cause suffering on almost a daily basis. I try to understand how I could have made such stupid, ego-based decisions in my younger days during a period of life where I should have known better. It provokes guilt and a lack of self-trust, along with anxiety/depression, though I feel I’m no longer that person or have any inclination to act that way anymore.

    It’s like the ego has clung onto this as a way of keeping its sense of self going. Otherwise, life would be quite content. I’m continuing to read your blogs but thought I’d ask now anyway.

    1. Hi Judy
      Yes, there is a deeper flow of life itself, guiding the hands, so to speak. And supporting right direction.
      However, there is also karma unfolding, unfinished business coming up to be seen and resolved. Old habits of mind and reactivity cause automatic responses. We act out in old, unconscious ways.
      Blaming ourselves doesn’t help. That you’re noticing after the fact is the first step in their resolution. The second step is when you notice while the behavior is underway. You begin to have some choice but messiness may already have happened. Finally, we begin to notice as the first impulse of reactivity arises and can chose not to engage it.
      This takes time to change the habits of lifetimes. Patience helps. It is very valuable to be seeing but not valuable to beat ourselves up over it. Just deeper noticing. Gratitude is also valuable as it helps shift the tone.
      Note that karma comes from how we used to be. It doesn’t reflect who we are now.
      Its good to recognize that arising emotions are natural. It may be a response to events or purification. Noticing them and allowing them to complete without engaging or resisting them too much is the ideal.
      And yes, ego is the controller and is fearful of being seen or losing control. Just allow it to be that way too as it’s nature. It will make little dramas but if we learn its just old noise, we take it less seriously. The grip loosens.
      As you see the dynamics then see through them, you set the stage for going beyond them.

  2. Judy

    David, thank you for your reply.

    Sorry if this sounds dense, but I want to understand this thoroughly. Are you saying then, that the past comes up to haunt me because even though I no longer act out those behaviors, the patterns or tendencies that caused me to act that way are still here presently, so that’s what I have to see and let go of in order to let go of the past? For instance, lack of self-love or self-confidence still comes up and I can see where that would have caused me to act out in certain ways in my younger days.

    1. Not at all, Judy. These are important but sometimes subtle points.
      It’s more that the consequences or unfinished business of the past less conscious acts are showing up in the present to be resolved. They reflect your past. How you respond to resolve (or entrench) them tells you how you are now.
      Lack of self-love etc is more a habit from past experiences and incomplete knowledge than a consequence. As understanding grows, your habits are seen more clearly and we start to see through those stories. When they are no longer accepted, they fall away.
      If they’re not falling away, then something is still buying into them. For example, missing self-confidence can be an excuse for not doing things we’re afraid of doing. Rather than step into a vulnerable position, we run the story of no self-confidence and we can avoid the fear.
      Most people have lots of work-arounds that are ways of avoiding what we don’t want. Yet they often get in the way of what we want more deeply, not to mention what life is asking us.
      Gradually, as we face life the way its showing up, the noise falls away and life gets a lot clearer.
      Make sense?

  3. Judy

    Wow, I guess I had that backwards. So these painful thoughts and feelings that come up are not a consequence, but ingrained habits to let go of. I know when I’m not buying into them, that’s when gratefulness takes over. As far as unfinished business from the past, yes, that has shown up too and in the most ironic and sometimes actually humorous ways. Thankfully, I’m handling that quite differently these days.

    I think I understand, but I’m continuing to read your blogs. Thanks for all your help, David, by having this information out there and being there to answer!

    1. Hi Judy
      it’s a little more complex than that. Karma isn’t just life events. It means action or energy. Thoughts and emotions also have consequences.
      The key is do the thoughts and emotions get processed and complete? Or do we resist and grasp at them, causing them not to. In that case, they “hang around” waiting for an opportunity to come up again and complete.
      Thus painful thoughts and feelings come up from old consequences seeking resolution. Then old habits of mind rejecting, etc those thoughts or memories arise, get in the way and so forth.
      It’s a huge step forward when you can see the dynamics and just allow them to arise and complete, not buying into them anymore. You’ve stopped feeding the beast of suffering.
      But it does take time to wind it all down. And when the opportunity is finally there for old suffering to be resolved, it can rush forward to be seen.
      We’re actually in a time right now that for many will make this more prominent. You’re fortunate to have some perspective.
      It is a somewhat different worldview. It takes time to get to know our inner habits. And some of this isn’t about understanding, it’s about feeling. It’s very helpful to have decent understanding of your experiences but thinking about it doesn’t heal anything. Thats a feeling process. 🙂

  4. Sanjay

    Hi David

    Thank you for your blog posts. Very deep and nuanced explanation on many topics pertaining to spirituality. I have a three-part interrelated question regarding this post:

    1. If we are not the doer, then why do we still have to face the consequences of our actions, thoughts, emotions, etc. Is it coz of the sense of deorship that we attach to them. In that case, it seems we do not have a choice in the sense of doership that arises. It seems it will fall away on it’s own when the time is ripe for it. May be inquiring and observing it can help but do we have a choice even in that (inquiring and observing) or is it done through us. So, my question is whether we have a choice in awakening to our true nature or does it happen of it own accord through a body/mind mechanism.

    2. Also, we feel happy when we get the things we desire (the arising of desire itself seems to be not in our control) and feel unfulfilled when we do not get the things we desire. So, given that this seems to be the case, what do we do with desires that arise but cannot be fulfilled at the present moment (maybe even in a lifetime/s) due to karmic effects.

    3. Even though we are not the author of our actions, thoughts and emotions we still have to face the consequences of these done through us sometimes in lifetimes ago. So, in that sense things seems to be guided by natural laws as you mention including actions done through the body/mind and facing the consequences, which could be to our liking or otherwise. All this makes sense ofcourse if as some teachers says that karma is one of the instruments that the soul, which is infinite, takes upon itself for its evolution. You also mention it life as a divine play. Please throw light on this as well

    Thanks much!

    1. Hi Sanjay
      With an identified ego, we claim doership of our actions and choices. As a result, we tend to act out of accordance with nature and create imbalances and stresses. Those have to be rebalanced which we experience as karma, consequences.
      And yes, when we’re identified and don’t see this, we don’t have a choice and act from ignorance. The Gita describes fist noticing after the fact. Then we begin to notice while acting. And finally at the first impulse. Then we have a choice not to act. And finally, we drop the identification as a doer. (Usually there are many habits to then wind down.)
      In the above sense, inquiring can be helpful but typically, the ego uses that as another way to control.
      Awakening itself is not a “choice” in a personal sense as it’s not the person that wakes up. But the choices we make as a person, like meditating etc, can determine if an opening is sustained. It’s interactive.
      This is because the sense of separate individuality is an illusion – we are not really separate and the choices we’re making are not really personal. It’s our own cosmic nature.
      2 – we feel fleeting satisfaction when we get desires fulfilled. Real happiness comes from much deeper.
      Desires arise due to the need of the time or what is unresolved in us. When we discover our true nature, it dramatically resolves a lot of desires. As noted, there is no separate person so that can’t be the source of anything.
      To address unfulfilled desires, we do spiritual practices that connect us with our deeper nature, inner happiness, and the resolution of our entanglements. That has better long term benefits than shopping. 🙂
      3 – 2 points here – life is in layers. The dynamics of one layer are not the same as another. Emotions are different than thoughts, for example. And our perspective is influenced by our dominant guna.
      I give an example of the gunas influence here:

  5. Sanjay

    Thank you David for the clarification. So, as per my understanding, as an identified ego we still have the choice as to whether we act out of our ignorance or not. Also, there are teachings which say that when we act without expectation of results we break the identification with the doer. Request you to please clarify regarding this as well.

    1. Hi Sanjay
      It’s rather a spectrum. There are those who act unconsciously from their base desires with no real choice even though they may tell themselves otherwise.
      As they become a little more conscious (less ignorant) and see the reactivity, they begin to have choice.
      I would say it’s more when we break the identification with a sense of doership, we begin to act without expectation. It’s very hard to be without expectation when there’s an ego trying to control.
      Dropping expectation also comes out of trust when we learn from experience that allowing life to lead us leads to smoother, better results. We may still do some planning but have less investment in a certain outcome. Dropping that core attachment ripples out into all areas of life. 🙂

  6. Stephen

    Hi David,

    Could you kindly explain free will in relation to the doers? As a localized point of consciousness, the person here has some semblance of free will. I can decide to go buy coffee instead of making a cup of tea at home. Or I can go socialize with friends instead of meditating at home.

    Does our free will drag along the poor devatas for a ride, and do they do their best to accommodate our decisions?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Stephen
      I wrote about this back here:

      Some sense of choice is simply those same devata acting through us. We can make some choices that the devata have to correct the flow for, but there’s a constant adaptation to evolving circumstances anyway. Some choices are made by the Self, which is also the source of the devata.

      We can see it in time, as the choices of the past leading to the determinism of the present and the present choices leading to our future determinism.

      Yet essentially, free will vs determinism is just a perspective, 2 sides of one coin. What chooses can be an endless exploration. I decided to stop for gas. The need of the car determined the choice. I decided on the gas station. The devata cause me to favour one station over another. I chose the pump. It was the only one available. etc etc.

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