The Restlessness of the 9thfetter will arise after the last subtle sense of ‘I am’ or ‘I exist’ has fallen away. In this fetter, you’ll be able to witness first-hand how the fetters created the sense of self.
You will recognize the restlessness. It has been there all your life, continuously re-creating the illusions which would collapse like a house of cards, if they weren’t maintained all the time.
How to Recognize the Restlessness of the 9thFetter
Though it is a very familiar feeling, it might not always be easy to recognize the restlessness when it starts to create a noticeable unrest.
When it arose for me, I first thought I had a really hard time coping with no longer experiencing this familiar taste of me, when in fact restlessness had already set in, looking for the ‘me’ that needed to be protected. And couldn’t find it…
The restlessness was very intense, I went on long walks, trying to walk it off but it didn’t work.
What Does the Restlessness Do?
The restlessness tries to establish again what it once created with the fetters: the sense of there being something
- making us always feel good.
This was the force which created the first sense of ‘I am’ or ‘I exist’ when it couldn’t find anything that seemed reliable or could be known.
It is not anything, YOU’RE doing. It is an impersonal force like the tides. I often thought of the tides that go in and out and the power they have. They shape the shores.
The restlessness shapes the sense of self.
What Does Restlessness Feel Like?
The restlessness can come in many facets.
For some time, I experienced the incredibly strong urge of wanting to know what was coming. My thoughts were racing, trying to find a safe grip in knowing something for sure.
Also, I tried to solve problems all the time, sometimes problems I first had to create in an imagined scenario, so I could solve the riddle then.
For some people, old emotional conflicts or traumas can surface and need to be felt. It is as if with the last sense of self, all defense mechanisms are gone as well that keep emotional problems away from our conscious experience. Every issue that is unfinished will arise and needs to be looked into.
Many people say that there is no suffering without a ‘me’ suffering. This is so NOT TRUE!
There can be a lot of suffering during this restless phase. So much resistance to what is arises, and that is what creates the suffering.
For me, it felt so terrible that I decided to open a FB group about the fetters because I wanted a few more people to complain to. I felt so sorry for my guide, Kevin, who always had to listen to me lamenting about how bad I felt.
I even wanted to stop the inquiry just to get out of this tormenting restlessness. Who cares about enlightenment when you feel that terrible? But I couldn’t get out. The process was running itself, there was no emergency exit. That was actually the worst for me, that I couldn’t do anything about it and just had to suffer it.
The Three Impossibles the Restlessness Is Looking For.
There are three things that are simply not available, no matter how much we want them:
- Substance, wanting experience to be some-thing, have a thingness to it.
- Permanence, expecting to be permanently and reliably experiencing something.
- Satisfactoriness, assuming that it is possible to always feel good.
One of the three impossibles is usually missed most badly. It could be substance, permanence, or always feeling good.
For finding out which one is mostly missed, you can state these three sentences, one sentence at a time, and notice which one has the strongest charge.
“There is no such thing as permanence and predictability.”
“There is no such thing as satisfactoriness and always feeling good.”
“There is no such thing as substance and knowing what is happening!”
Which sentence gives rise to the strongest sensations?
The Existential Gap
The 9thfetter ‘restlessness’ can feel very similar to desire and ill will. In both cases, we resist what is actually happening or true.
The difference is that when inquiring into desire and ill will, it is about something you can theoretically have. Your child might brush their teeth without fighting, your spouse might participate in the household chores, and your boss could be kinder to you… so we think.
When the restlessness arises, we’re looking into an existential gap. What the restlessness is looking for doesn’t exist at all, and we have to come to terms with it.
It can be really hard. I had already seen what I had ignored (the 10thfetter shift) and yet, the restlessness came back, looking for ways to feel good. In this regard, the 9this a lot like 4/5, it can come back later even if it had already calmed down.
Once it has calmed down, the ignorance (the 10thfetter) can be seen through.
The 9thfetter is the only fetter that doesn’t fall away with a shift. One day, you’ll simply notice that it is no longer be there.
How is/was the 9thfetter for you? Share it in a comment.