Image credit: tom burke (

I am not the voices in my head.

The Buddhists have a Pali term, papañca, for the mind’s tendency to wander and create perceptions of division, of conflict, of identities and essences, that all arise out of the central sense of self. Right discernment for one when recognizing papañca and attachment to some object is to reflect: “This is not mine. This is not me. This is not myself.”

But the voices sound so much like myself, seem so much like my self, that subsuming them within my identity and perceiving the world through their interpretive discourse appear possible only on the other bank of the river.

This is not me.

Whose voices are these that tell me what I ought to be? It seems odd to think that it is my self that is crippling itself with self-doubt and a sense of unending selfishness for not being what I am being shown and told that I am supposed to be.

But then who speaks? Who or what stirs up the rattling claptrap in my head? Which whisper is mine, is me, is myself?

The mind is a spider obsessively weaving its webs. Its art, its process, of spinning is papañca.

It has no say in what gets caught and what passes through. Some things move on, while some become memories and building blocks of who I am, dangling in the void inside the cavern of my skull.

Like stars.

This is not myself.


Published by

Justin Van Kleeck

I am a vegan (since 1999), a curious skeptic, a bookworm, a nature lover, and your garden-variety neurotic. My wrestling with chaos manifests as writing and, with my wife, tending our friends the plants and spending quality time with our rescued furry kids. I am fun at parties (because I am never there) and so unique that I am easy to forget. So take that, modernity.

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