Can you just see things as they actually are — including your self?

by Vic Shayne
The Self is a Belief: the idea that causes suffering

Over the several years I have spent an inordinate amount of time looking into human behavior, especially my own. This has brought me to reflect on consciousness and the nature of the self, which is who we take ourselves to be. I discovered some interesting things along the way.

It all begins with the self
The self, which is what we commonly call “me,” is a construct created out of thoughts that we hold dearly and allow to create our identity. One of the hallmarks of this “me” is that it creates images of everything, including itself, others, nature, and objects. The images come to replace what we actually see. Neuroscientists, Eastern gurus, philosophers, and psychologists have written about this. Essentially, we stop seeing things as they are, and instead we see them as our mind is conditioned to see them. This is why our childish wonder over everything diminishes — we stop seeing with awe and interest. Our minds grow duller each year, even if our knowledge increases. If you have children or grandchildren this is obvious to you.

What can you see without creating images?
If you were to look at the world without any images for the things you are seeing, what would you experience? Have you ever tried this? Your entire world would change and everything would have a scent of newness. To give you an example, if you look outside at a tree, your memory, which is what you have been taught by others, labels the plant with the name “tree.” But what is it really, on present evidence? You just don’t know. But because you already have an image in your mind, you tend to stop seeing the natural object for what it is; you glance at it, remember its label, and then quickly move on.

Why do I bring this up? Because we now live in troubling times. Propaganda and marketing is pumped out at an alarming rate so that our ideas — especially about politics, personal safety, and health — are based on images that have been implanted in our psyches.

Are we living secondhand lives?
Instead of looking at the truth about things with an independent mind we get our information from secondhand sources that tell us what we should believe — about politicians and politics, the environment, corporate activities, modern medicine, pharmacology, the foods we eat, and healthcare. This happens so often and with such vehemence that we don’t even question our sources or do any of our own research. Instead we are wont to look at information that already supports what we think we know. The “experts” we listen to are no better, because they too see life via a self-created, skewed perception based on their own images. On and on it goes. All of this has brought tremendous destruction, strife, and divisiveness, not only personally, but globally. Think about this with an open-mind and maybe you can uncover what lies at the bottom of our collective suffering. Perhaps you can find something exciting, enlightening, or interesting about yourself and others.

See for yourself, not what you have been taught to see
While it is common to hear the phrase “Think for yourself,” this is not my message. I am talking about something a little more helpful, which is to see for yourself, without the overlay of secondhand information — without the image-making sense of self that causes all of our problems. Do your own personal observation and use your own common sense when it comes to healthcare, the way things are, who you are, how you think, politics, nature, global warming, relationships, and everything else under the sun. Together, let’s stop the madness that gets in our way of health and happiness! This must first and foremost begin with taking making an enquiry into our selves.




…writer for 40+ years, mind/body practitioner, self-enquiry meditation, NY Times best selling author (, consultant, researcher.

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Vic Shayne

…writer for 40+ years, mind/body practitioner, self-enquiry meditation, NY Times best selling author (, consultant, researcher.