Where There’s Smoke

If I were to lead into this article with “Where there’s smoke,” we could finish the sentence with, “there’s (A. An arsonist. B. An inexperienced chef. C. Fire).” In truth, there are numerous other potential words that could be applied to complete the sentence. The majority of readers won’t need to read the choices, because we’ve been conditioned to automatically choose “C” as the answer. I’m not stating that all conditioning is bad; for example, if the room we’re in is actually on fire and our conditioning/instincts scream, “Get out!” Often, however, our conditioning keeps us locked into a stereotypical role and way of living that may be less than fulfilling. As much as it might seem impossible, I’m going to do my best in this article to relate the title to effective ways of catching the thief that has been masquerading as the real you. When we investigate the nature of the thief and see through its disguise, the quality of our life can improve dramatically.

Although the deliberate use of a cliché for the theme of an article might seem lame, there’s a sound reason for doing so. We’re going to apply it to help us identify traits of the illusive fictional character that you’ve assumed yourself to be. As in the case of the equation (smoke = fire), it can also be stated that (whiff = human). This formula is useful, because it can help us open our mind to a deeper and more joyous way of BEing in the world.

To the best of my understanding, the strongest whiff (indicator) of a person is the presence of fear. If we sense fear (within ourselves, or from an apparent “other”), it’s a sure sign that a “person” is lurking somewhere nearby. That person is often afraid of not being accepted, loved, or appreciated; and secretly he/she may also be fearful of being labelled unworthy. If said human appears successful, it’s still possible that we might sense a whiff of fear related to potential loss of that by which he/she defines success. This places the person in the stressful position of being enslaved by his/her own beliefs.

Other whiffs that signal the proximity of a person include subtle or obvious anger, greed, lust, anxiety, envy, shame, guilt, pride—all of which trigger the whiff-ometer alarms and signal varying degrees of human unattractiveness. It’s important to realize that our ability to notice whiffs is not intended to place us in the high-and-mighty position of judge and ruler, either of ourselves or others; for that would serve no useful purpose to ourselves or society. The purpose of this article is related to helping us become more aware of That which we truly are. When we recognize our essential Self, most, if not all, of the constrictive definitions related to the character fall away of their own accord, and life opens up to a world that is rich with possibilities.

Now that we realize the type of smoke for which to be on the lookout, we move into the really exciting stage of discovering That which we truly are. The method is actually very simple; and as we practice it, we become more proficient. When we notice these whiff traits in ourselves or others, we deliberately turn our attention inward and ask, “What is the nature of That which noticed these traits? Is it merely the mind watching itself, or is there a source of awareness, beyond the mind?

The answer to this—experienced directly—is termed liberation, or enlightenment. It is to awaken from the dream of personhood. The position cannot be reached by intellectualizing it; but it can be reached by habitually becoming still through meditation. There in the silent stillness is That which we are—infinite and eternal Awareness. As It was never born, It can, therefore, never possibly die. The fabricated mental thief, which is only a construct of the mind, obviously dies; but contrary to public opinion, it is not our true identity. The method that helps us recognize true Self is to figuratively step back from our daily interactions and pay attention. By discovering what we are not, we re-cognize (know again) That which we truly are. Where there is no whiff of person, we knowingly rediscover the great I Am That I Am, shining glorious, transcendent, and still, in the background of all that is.


If you’re interested, you can find more of my work at my personal blog at https://think2wice.me/.

With heartfelt regards,


Copyright © – 2022 – R. Arthur Russell

6 thoughts on “Where There’s Smoke

  1. Ahhh this is a profound and thoughtful post. I’m not exactly sure where my smoke is coming from but I suspect that the older I get the more I may come to recognize it or at the very least… Recognize it within others.

    1. Thank you so much, LasShelle. In spiritual teachings, we realize “What”–not who–we are when we see through the false self. True Self can be known with the heart, but not with the mind. Thanks again for taking the time to comment!

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