One thing is certain: whether in our waking life, or in the dreams that visit our evening's rest, thoughts and feelings fill our every present moment. But just because you can feel or sense all of their diverse characteristics -- such as worry, fear, impatience, courage, or compulsiveness -- doesn't make the "you" that experiences these movements real -- any more than standing under the cascade of a waterfall, and feeling its flow, means that your nature is water.
Thoughts and feelings are energies. They're forces that we have passing through us continually. And each has a distinct nature. But neither any one, nor all of these mental or emotional qualities put together, is who we really are.
Again, we feel the heat of the sun on our face, but we know better than to think that we're ablaze. And yet when we feel the fire of an angry thought or emotion, we believe we are that burning sensation. We are not! We only make the mistake of thinking that we are -- which is why these painful and unwanted internal fires go on and on, but never out.
Like the invisible winds that move the branches on the trees, we live in a world of an unseen, but ceaseless, flood of thoughts and feelings. In one sense, we're constantly being washed over by the waves of all past human experience. These ancient forces, combined with our individual mechanical associative reactions to present events, all serve to give each of us the sense of a self with both a past and a future.
But this self is fictitious. Its nature is a kind of ghost house, a complex but empty structure created by the stream of thoughts and feelings that provide it with its false sense of life.
English author and scholar D.L. Pendlebury says of this false nature: "(This) self is an entirely illusory entity, constantly changing, full of contradictions which only habit prevents us from discerning. But above all the self is -- selfish. As if flying in panic from any recognition of its own nothingness, it feverishly erects edifices of self-importance, self-aggrandizement, self-love. More binding than any prison, since we unthinkingly take its very walls for reality, it prevents us from ever realizing the true significance of our being here."
We can now summarize the central point of this part of our study as follows: the false self has no control over the thoughts and feelings that tie it down because its only life is derived from their constant movement. The sense of self this lower nature creates is nothing but an effect of thought considering the content of itself; as such it is as powerless to change the world it considers as is an echo to change the voice that gave it birth.
Only as this lower mind is made conscious of its own actual deceived condition are we released from the psychic grip it has upon us. That's why our task is to become increasingly aware of ourselves. Inner light is the only power that can resolve the captivity created by the inner darkness.