You. That’s your problem. It’s that you use your thinking to create ‘you.’ Then you have to figure out what you want to buy, or what you want to eat, or what job you want, or who you want to be in a relationship with. Most of your time is spent thinking comparative thoughts about what you are going to do or not do versus what you could have done or could still do.
But what if there was no ‘you’ to advocate for? Or at least, what if that ‘you’ was significantly less substantial than you thought…? Because here’s the deal: most of you was never ‘you’ anyway.
First off, if we take all of the cells that make up our being, only 10% of them are actually something we could call ‘me.’ The other 90% of the rest of us are all the microbes that live in and on you. Did you get that? 90% of what you think of as ‘you’ is in reality, other creatures living in and on ‘you.’ And without them, none of us could hope to survive in our current state.
We’re more like a planet than a person. And all of these other organisms are what bring us to life. We’re oceans and mountains and weather —but the trees and fish and animals that bring that world to life are distinct beings, separate, and yet connected to ‘you.’
If you folded all the ripples in your lungs out they would be the size of a tennis court. And they are covered in microbes that help keep you alive. It’s believed that many autoimmune diseases are reactions to these microbe communities being out of balance. And even if we look at the pieces of you that are more ‘you’ —even those still have distinct agendas.
Do you think your liver wants to go to the bar and get drunk? (Or later your stomach or throat or nasal passages?) Do you think the cells in your teeth or esophagus like it when you smoke or eat acidic foods? We contain multitudes. So who do we actually make decisions for?
Consciousness is consciousness. It’s like a rider on trillions of horses simultaneously. And consciousness just wants to have a great experience being alive. And to do that, it often helps if consciousness gets the super organism it is controlling to be healthy and in balance.
This means our consciousness should feed the organisms food they will recognize and be comfortable with. They should ensure the organisms get their rest and recuperation time, and the whole system should be kept generally active. After that the only thing we have to do is stop spending so much time on ruminating about our lives.
The only ‘you’ that meaningfully exists is the one we believe in. In scientific reality we are a multitude of cells made up of particles from old stars and comets, and for a short time our consciousness gets to steer this little spaceship of life. It’s super cool, but don’t take it so seriously. Have more fun. The universe is infinite. It has no rights and wrongs. It just has everything.
Stop making so much of the world about ‘you.’ Because every single time you draw a line between some other part of the universe and you, you are trapped in ego. So don’t go dis-identifying with your microbes or you’ll shrink yourself. Instead, feel your connection with everything around you. Feel that you are merely a collection of beliefs steering a collection of nature. And know that you truly cannot really ever go wrong.
For those that would like to know more about how you’re an actual super-organism, I’m including a link to the podcast of that episode of CBC’s Quirks and Quarks:
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.