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A Note from the Kiloby Center on Bypassing. www.kilobycenter.com
Here are a few tips on spotting bypassing in a teacher or teaching, in which case you might pick up those habits if you aren’t aware of how and when they appear:
1. Avoiding the negative and only desiring the positive. Although this sounds like a positive thing, addiction -as one example – is the ongoing, repetitive experience of reaching for something positive as a way to cover up or avoid the negative. It is easy for this kind of addictive thinking to find itself in spiritual teachings. Promises of this or that in the future are very appealing to a mind that is already locked into that kind of seeking and to a mind that thinks the “self” is deficient and lacking and needs something else to happen later to experience true fulfillment. Once you start to peel back some of the positive affirmations people are clinging to, they begin to face the real pain they have been avoiding for years. Do you really want a teaching that helps you avoid?
2. Self-issues that are being overlooked in the teacher. For example, if a teacher is getting triggered by students a lot or in other relationships, but does not look at those triggers when they arise….how can the teacher help you look at them?
3. Overblown self-images. If you find a teacher who says, either explicitly or implicitly, that he or she is fully awakened or more advanced than other teachers, question that teacher on which thoughts are being believed and not being examined. Just as a great pianist can stay in his or her head about who or what she is (which gets in the way of the freeflowing of the playing itself), a teacher can do the same thing. Be interested in teachers who are exactly the same – whether they are on stage teaching or sitting and eating a sandwich.
4. Watch out for grand concepts that are very alluring. If a teacher says “you can experience your true divine nature by following me,” he or she has chosen words that appeal to a part of your brain that is tantalized by language. This is the same mechanism of the brain that is seduced by just the right language in a commercial. But what is actually being delivered? Did you actually find “happiness” when you bought your last car, after watching a car commercial that promised that? When the words are peeled off or seen to be just words, what exactly is being offered? If there is some realization that can happen, surely it is not those words themselves. Because language has such a seduction to it, always examine language being used very carefully. Ask a teacher why he or she insists that you use the same language as he or she does. Ask him or her to question his or her own spiritual ideas as much as he or she is asking you to question what you believe.
5. Watch out for teachings that don’t speak to the body. The body/mind connection is an important one. What about all that stored pain that many of us carry in the body? Will seeing that I am not my conscious thoughts actually release that pain, which is usually highly unconscious? We are thinking, feeling, sensing beings. And the feeling and sensing shows up primarily in the body. When something was too painful to feel earlier in our lives, we may have suppressed or repressed it (e.g. trauma). Yet it is still there running the show. Avoiding the topic of the body entirely and focusing only on the mind is very partial in our view.
6. Watch out for language that speaks to pure non-conceptuality. Notice how many books the teacher has written that contain tons of concepts. Concepts are a part of life. States of pure nonconceptuality can happen. But when concepts arise, the question is whether they are believed, followed, treated like religions, etc. Daily triggers don’t happen in those moments of nonconceptuality. They happen the moment a concept is believed or identified with.
7. Watch out for any teaching that claims to take care of all suffering by itself. What we are learning more and more at the center is that integrating is most helpful and that most approaches, even the best approaches, are partial. Methods or teachings rarely speak to the entire mental, physical, emotional, relational aspects of our lives. They promise this, while ignoring that. Adjunct therapies or methods that fill in the hole left by the nondual teaching you follow primarily can be helpful. For example, no matter how present you are or how well you are manifesting great things in your life, there may be physical issues, past trauma, shadows that aren’t being addressed. Sometimes a simple change in diet makes all the difference.
8. Awareness can be used to bypass. For example, there is often a strong inclination to identify with certain core stories, such as victim or “I’m not good enough.” Simply being aware of those stories may be a way of not actually looking in a more penetrating way at the thoughts, emotions and sensations that make up those stories. There are ways to undo the velcro of those thoughts from the emotions or sensations that arise with them, so that the stories are truly seen to be empty. The mind has a way of rationalizing bypassing by saying, “I’m aware of it” or “It’s all happening in awareness.” But if you keep seeing these same stories arise, it could be that awareness is being used as a “safe space” from which you don’t have to actually inquire into what is being believed. There are many reasons not to look – wanting to be right, wanting to maintain the self-identity, wanting to claim being awakened prematurely, not want to actually feel pain, etc.
Take what you will from this. It’s just that we feel at the Kiloby Center that we have a good view of what often gets missed in nondual teachings, as a lot of our clients are seekers who have been on the path for years. The Center is a laboratory where we examine these issues on a daily basis, all day. That level of support is rare in the spiritual circles. We just want to report back what we are seeing.
– Scott Kiloby, The Kiloby Center
Most of our desire to manifest something wonderful in our lives comes from a belief that something is presently lacking. Don’t seek to manifest. Watch manifesting happen naturally as you untangle the false sense of being deficient. This keeps it simpler!
– Scott Kiloby on FaceBook
I saw an interview with George Takei and Stuart Milk, the head of the Milk Foundation, about the new Indiana anti-gay “religious freedom” law. Stuart Milk said, quite accurately, that this is hatred packaged as religious freedom.
I would say that behind hatred is fear. What we call hatred is how we sometimes relate to and express fear, when that fear is not rested with. When it’s not noticed and allowed in loving presence. When the stories creating it are unquestioned. It’s a way to try to protect the me.
These days, and for as long as we know, this has been packaged in many different ways. As religion. As politics. Even, especially cleverly, as reasonable and fair questions.
Today, in the west, Muslims are often seen as a fair target for this packaging. And in the US, other targets are sometimes gay people, and non-Christians.
How do I do the same? I do it whenever I go into beliefs. Whenever I try to defend a point of view. That doesn’t mean I should try to avoid any opinions. Opinions and views are part of being human. They are part of being an engaged citizen. And at the same time, whenever I notice a charge here, and going into an us vs them way of thinking, I can take a closer look at what’s going on.
Am I packaging unloved fear, and unquestioned fearful stories, as (a little too forceful) opinions?
In a poll in Norway asking “do you believe in God”, about a third answered respectively no, yes, and maybe.
I realize that the question probably makes sense to most people.
And I also wish it was more specific.
What type of God do you believe in? What’s your image of God? As transcendent? Immanent? Same as reality? Something you relate to on your own? Or through a religion? Or both?
And what does “believe” mean? Have you had direct experiences of Spirit, or God (or whatever you wish to call it)? Is it something you mostly relate to second hand? Does “belief” cover it? Or doesn’t the word “belief” apply? Is it something you are actively engaging with and exploring?
Do I believe in the official Christian image of God? Not really. There is a lot there that’s more about theology, and I see as not very insightful or important.
Do I believe in the God of Christ or Jesus? Not really. I don’t “believe” in it, but I do have a relationship to that God. I relate to something that seems very similar to what Jesus did.
Do I see God as transcendent or immanent? Yes, both.
Do I see God as equal to reality? Yes. I see God as reality, as what is. As what we explore through science, and spirituality, both. (And also art, literature, music, dance, and much more.)
Does the word “belief” cover it? Not really. I appreciate pointers and even maps, and use these sometimes to orient. Mainly, it’s something I am exploring through own experience. Through various forms of meditation, prayer, inquiry, body movements, being in relationships and nature, and more.
What would I have answered if I was asked that question? I would probably asked what they mean by the question. They would have said “no idea”, and I would have been about equally likely to say yes, no, and maybe. Yes, since all is God. No, since I don’t connect to much of the Christian theology. And maybe, since I don’t know exactly what they are asking. I am split about equally in the three answers, just like the Norwegian population.
And I know from other surveys that many or perhaps most Norwegians relate most closely to a more personal and non-denominational form of spirituality, only indirectly – if at all – related to traditional Christianity.
Having a profound awakening can be like taking the lid off of a jar. All the karma that has been repressed, all the karma at the bottom of our misery that we aren’t conscious of, comes flying out because there is finally space in which it can emerge.
When it hits you in the face, you wonder where your freedom went and what went wrong. But understand that this is a consequence of the freedom; it is not a mistake.
Everything wants to come up into and be transformed by the freedom. If you let it come up into this aware space, which is love, it will reharmonize. This space that you are is unconditional love.
Unconditional means just that: everything is welcome, nothing is cast away or set apart from it.
– Adyashanti from The Impact of Awakening
For me, the “taking a lid of a jar” happened just a few years ago, and I seem to still be in the middle of it.
The first opening or awakening happened in my mid-teens, and was followed by several years of reorganization. A sense of being pulled apart, and put together differently. (I sometimes think of it as a dark night of the senses.) This initial awakening was of all as God (aka Spirit, consciousness, love), including anything that could be taken as a me or I.
A while later, and just a few years ago, there was another awakening. This one was very clear, simple, and without the bells and whistles. After about six months, the lid was taken off the jar. I sometimes think of this one as a dark night of the soul. First, a great deal of archetypal and apparently less personal material surfaced (heaven and hell etc.). Then, a great deal of personal material from my own life. It also included a collapse of body and mind, a sense that my inner resources went off line, and a loss of many of my external resources. (It may be that this collapse was necessary for the material to surface. The collapse did happen first.)
I have been sick in bed for a few days, and it seems that a weakened physical state has brought a lot bubbling to the surface. I see some of the beliefs, or all the velcro, or what’s unloved and unquestioned, that seeks the light, that seeks presence, love, and clarity.
I also find it helpful to ask myself these questions:
What would I rather not look at? What feels most scary to look at? What feels so true it’s not even worth looking at?
I am unloved. I am unlovable.
I made a huge mistake. (Multiple times.) My life would have been better if I….
I need a relationship to be complete, alive, on track. Fears of how it would be without a relationship.
Feeling awkward, an outsider, as a young school age kid. (Elementary and middle school.)
I haven’t done a poll of how many would say they feel or have felt broken, but it seems it could be a good number of people. Many of us feel broken in one or more areas of life, or have felt broken at some point in our life.
It’s true, and also not the whole picture. We may be broken in some ways. Whole in other ways. And the term doesn’t even apply in yet another way.
I am broken from feeling unloved and unlovable, feeling not included as a child and early teenager, from missing out of things that felt deeply important to me (mostly relationships), regrets, fears about the future. (And a pattern of first getting a “yes”, waiting too long, getting a “no”, and feeling the loss very deeply…. in relationships and education and work opportunities.) This does impact my life. It impacts how I perceive myself, others and the world, and how I live my life.
I am also whole in other ways. I experience myself as whole, as the wholeness body and mind are part of. I experience myself as a seamless whole. I am able to meet experiences with kindness and love (at least at times, when I remember and find a clear intention), and that gives a sense of wholeness. Even in the areas I experience myself as broken, I may experience myself as whole in some situations.
And the term doesn’t even apply. I cannot find an actual “brokenness” outside of images, words and sensations.
All of these are real. Each one is valid, in its own way. I cannot leave one out, or deny it. I cannot say that there is no brokenness, even if I feel whole in other ways, or the brokenness is unfindable. I also cannot say that the brokenness means that my wholeness is not there, or that it is findable as something real, solid and concrete.
Brokenness is an invitation. It’s an invitation to see myself as deeply human. To see and feel that we are all in the same boat, and that it’s part of the human experience. To meet what’s unloved in me with love. To meet my unquestioned stories with (somewhat systematic) curiosity. (The stories creating a sense of brokenness.) To notice what happens when I meet my brokenness in this way. To notice my wholeness, and that the brokenness is really unfindable. And to do this for others too, when they feel broken.
Nisargadatta’s teaching has the power of staying with you in a deeply unconscious way, and then in a year or two years, it’s so clear. That’s the power of a good teaching. It dwells with you even if you’re not consciously aware of what’s happening.
Forgiving yourself is a big part of healing unworthiness. You have to forgive yourself for feeling unworthiness, and you can’t forgive yourself unless you allow yourself to feel tenderness, kindness, love, and compassion.
Forgiveness comes from a kind of wisdom that sees that we don’t really know what we’re doing. Jesus said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” It takes humility to forgive yourself, including your mind and your emotions.
You can project unworthiness onto everyone around you. There are lots of strategies that we use to avoid encountering unworthiness directly.
With consciousness comes options, and with options, you have to take responsibility: “What options am I going to start to utilize? Am I going to choose to be angry, compassionate, kind, or wise? Where am I going to operate from — the conflicted mind, or from some sort of stability?” It’s always wise to choose kindness.
Ultimately unworthiness is a form of attacking yourself. It is being very unloving and not being understanding. To stop attacking yourself takes a kind of humility — sometimes we just need to see what we’re doing.
~Adyashanti from the Way of Liberating Insight course
The resolution of unworthiness is not going from feeling unworthy to feeling worthy, but going from being hateful towards yourself to being kind, even kind toward your hateful self-dialogue — those old violent, condemning voices in your mind that have become inherent.
From your resource of Awareness, from the standpoint of peace, you can begin to acknowledge the turmoil that is there and be willing to experience it. How does our emotional life look from a dimension of consciousness that’s not caught in our emotional turmoil, but neither is it trying to avoid it?
When you begin to tap into a compassion and kindness you would have for anybody having difficulty and begin to operate from that place, then you’re calling upon resources within yourself that you could never access before.
“How am I creating my own suffering right now? What am I thinking?” When you see some of the violent thoughts that are creating your destructive emotional experiences, you see that anyone would feel terrible who has those kinds of thoughts.
How does kindness really see the old stories? How does kindness feel about your own feeling of unworthiness? Does it deny it, or does it understand it and move toward it?
If you can’t find this kindness and peace, think of anything that evokes a sense of kindness or appreciation in you. Once you’re in the atmosphere of it, look at how it relates to the darker aspect of your being, your sense of unworthiness.
~Adyashanti from The Way of Liberating Insight course
What is a belief?
Here are some ways to answer that question:
A belief is taking a thought (word, image) as real, true, solid. Or, if we think we are more sophisticated, referencing something real, true, solid.
It’s identification with a thought. Seeing the world from its perspective. Experiencing and perceiving from its perspective, as if it’s true. It’s taking on and, in a sense, becoming that perspective.
It’s sensations apparently “stuck” on words and images, lending them a sense of solidity, reality, truth, charge, and more.
It’s innocence. It’s doing what others do. It’s learning to do what others do.
It’s an attempt to protect the (imagined) me. It’s from deep caring. It’s from love. It’s love.
It’s Lila. It’s the play of life. It’s the play of the Universe. It’s the play of Existence. It’s Existence expressing, exploring and experiencing itself in always new ways.
It’s what creates suffering. We identify with a certain perspective and hold it as true, while reality is different. Reality is that many other views are equally or more true. Reality is that any number of views on the same topic have validity. Reality is that none of them are really or absolutely true. Reality is that none of them is the final truth. This discrepancy is painful, and can be experienced as suffering.
And can I find a belief? Identification? A word? An image? Velcro? Protection? Caring? Love? Lila? Life? Existence? The Universe? Can I find any of these when I look? Can I find them outside of words, images, sensations?
I wanted to write about this in a more simple and brief way:
Experience is already resting.
And yes, it can seem that experience is anything but resting. It can seem in movement, in tension, struggle, excitement, distress, even suffering.
All of that comes from velcro. It comes from sensations that seems “stuck” on images and words, lending them a sense of reality and solidity.
As this velcro softens or falls away, what’s here – this experience as it is – is revealed as resting, and already resting. It rested even when it appeared very much to not rest.
For instance, there is a (very real) sense of tension here.
Look at the word “tension”. Is that word in tension? [Yes, it seems to. It feels that way.]
Feel that feeling. Allow it completely, as it is. When you are ready, see if there are any images there – maybe a memory, body image, shapes, colors. [I see a picture of my upper body and throat in tension.]
Look at that image. Look at the colors and lines. Is that image in tension? [No.]
Rest with the feeling. When you are ready, look at the word “tension”. Is that word in tension? [No. It’s a word, a picture.]
Feel the feeling again. Rest with it. Is that sensation tension? [No, it’s a sensation.]
Here, the words, images, and sensations were initially “stuck” together and the tension seemed very real. After some looking and resting, I got to see that the word is already resting, the image is already resting, and even the sensation is already resting.
When it seems to not be resting, it’s easy to get caught in that appearance. It’s easy to get caught in the apparent tension. When the parts are revealed as already resting, it’s easier to more consciously align with it. It’s easier to rest with it, since it’s already resting.
Note: In most cases the process is longer and a bit more involved than here. I shortened it a bit.
It can seem that experience is anything but resting. There is movement. Seeking. Tension. Contraction. Suffering. Identification.
And yet, when I look, I see that what’s really here is different. I find that images, words and sensations already are resting. It’s only the velcro that makes it appear differently.
It’s only when sensations seem “stuck” on images and words that it appears that what’s here is not resting.
When the velcro softens or falls away, what’s here – these images, words, and sensations – are revealed as resting, and already resting.
With velcro, they may appear as anything but, and it’s easy to get caught in the tension, struggle, seeking, or pushing and pulling. (The appearance of which is created by the velcro.) Without, it’s all revealed as already resting. Even the words, images, and sensations making up the apparent struggle, tension, pushing and pulling, and suffering are already resting.
That makes it much easier to rest with it.
As with similar things, it’s about noticing what’s already here, which makes it easier to align with it more consciously.
For instance, I notice a sense of pushing or seeking in the throat and forehead. I rest with the sensation. Is that sensation pushing? Is it seeking? I notice an image of the throat and forehead. Is that image pushing? Is it seeking? I look at the word “pushing”. Is that word pushing? I look at the word “seeking”. Is that word seeking? And so on, examining whatever makes up the experience of pushing or seeking, one simple thing at a time.
This is a commonly recognized analogy.
In modern physics, they discovered that what initially appears solid is really mostly space, and looking even more closely, even the “particles” are really energy and also space. It’s all space.
When I look, I find the same in my own experience, as so many have before me, and so many do these days too. My field of experience is mostly space. Images, words, sensations, sounds, taste, smell all happen within space. Space with no findable end.
When I look more closely, even these – the images, words, sensations, sounds etc. – have space within them, and are space. It’s all space.
More accurately, it’s all awareness, and space, and appearances within and as – made up of – awareness and space.
It can be very helpful to notice this. Especially for appearances that at first appear quite solid, such as strong emotions, or physical pain, or contractions, or suffering, or seeking, or neediness, or a sense of me or I. Anything identified with will, at first, tend to appear quite solid. And when I look, I notice the space around it, and the space within it, and even the space (awareness) making it up.
Some people take this analogy quite literally and make it into something solid (!). I find it more helpful to see it as an analogy.
Even this analogy can be noticed as happening within space, with space within, and as space.
Seeking is a natural part of being human.
It has an evolutionary function. It helps us survive and even thrive.
At the same time, seeking can create suffering when it becomes too serious and heavy. When we think we really need what we seek in order to be content, or happy, or whatever else we think it will give us.
It sometimes feels like a matter of life and death.
For me, there are the usual (these days) ways of exploring it.
Resting with it. Resting with the sensations, words, images, of (a) seeking, or (b) what I seek, or (c) what I am afraid would happen if I don’t have it. Notice. Allow. Notice the space within and around it. Notice it’s happening as and within awareness.
Meeting it with kindness, love. Holding satsang with it.
See if I can find (a) seeking, or (b) what I seek, or (c) what I am afraid will happen if I don’t have it. Can I find it, outside of words, images, sensations? Is it there, in the way it initially appeared to be?
Some things I am (sometimes) seeking: Love, approval, feeling OK. Peace. Enlightenment. Contentment. Clarity. Insight. Understanding. Respect. Flow. Ease. Connection. Relationships. Friendships. Love or friendship from someone attractive and popular. (Since it means I must be OK.) Food. Money. Entertainment. Enjoyment. Status. Income. Satisfaction. Safety.
What I am afraid would happen if I don’t have it: I’ll be broken. Unhappy. Unsatisfied. Disliked. Hated. Ignored. Alone. Miserable. Crazy. Tormented. Shun. Doomed.
So I can give myself what I seek. I can give myself – my own experiences, my images, words, sensations – kindness, love, approval, friendship, respect, welcome. I can see that it’s not what it initially appears to be. I can try to find it outside of words, images, and sensations, and perhaps not find it. All of that softens the seeking. It becomes lighter. More fun and enjoyable.
In a sense, our “natural state” is ongoing resting, looking, and kindness – towards our own experience, and (as part of that) ourselves, others, and the world. It’s what’s revealed when there is either “trancendence” of identifications and velcro, or a more thorough release of identification and velcro. (These qualities are more commonly here when there is a more thorough release, often through a longish period of working on it. A transcendence may reveal these qualities, but there may also be distractions – drama and flashiness – in a transcendence so they are less obvious.)
Identification here means identification with thought, and velcro means sensations that seem “stuck on” images and words lending them a sense of reality and solidity. They both refer, more or less, to the same.
Equally true, our other “natural state” is identification with thought, and velcro. It’s what most of us experience, to different degrees, every day. There may be a sudden transcendence of this, or a more thorough working through of it.
And really, our natural state is what’s here, as it is, whatever it is. That’s what’s natural here and now.
That’s why I don’t find the term very useful. It can mean what’s revealed when there is more clarity about who and what we are. It can mean what’s here when there is identification, and sometimes drama and suffering. It can mean what’s here, whatever it is.
All of these are equally natural. Equally much part of the human experience.
When I struggle with my experience, I do so because it seems scary to me, and in the struggle, it still seems scary. It becomes even more scary.
When I befriend my experience, I get to see it’s not as scary as my mind initially told me it was. It appears more friendly to me.
So they way I relate to my experience, is how it seems to me. When I relate to it as scary, it becomes scary to me, or even more scary. And when I befriend it, it reveals itself as friendly to me. (No wonder, since it is me. I am my own field of experience.)
It seems so obvious. And yet I know it’s often not. It’s not what most of us have learned, from parents and culture and others.
How do I befriend my experience?
By resting with it. Noticing. Allowing. Notice it’s already allowed. Shifting from thinking to noticing. (From being identified with thoughts and their stories, to noticing them as thoughts and stories.)
By meeting it with kindness. I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. (Ho’opopnopno.) Thank you for arising. I love you. Stay as long as you like. (Living Inquiry.) You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. I love you. What would satisfy you forever? (Holding Satsang with it.)
By noticing it’s already allowed. It’s already allowed… by life, mind, existence.
By noticing it’s there to protect me, and comes from deep caring, and love. (Anger, sadness, grief, pain, and more.)
By exploring it through inquiry. Looking at images and words. Feeling sensations. Asking simple questions to see what’s already there. (Living Inquiry.) By examining my beliefs about it. (The Work.)
All of these are (or can be) forms of love and curiosity. Very natural, simple, and even (eventually) quite effortless forms of love and curiosity.
And anything is included. Any experience. Anything that’s here is included, whatever it is. Especially those things that tend to slip through the cracks. Including tiredness, sleepiness, resistance, fear, seeking, judging thoughts, and more.
Here are some ways I am exploring it:
Meeting it with kindness, love. Ho’oponopono. Holding satsang with it.
Resting with it. Notice. Allow. Feel the sensations, notice images and words, allowing it all. Welcoming it. Notice it’s already allowed.
Inquire into it. What do I find when I look for resistance? Can I find it outside of images, words, sensations? Can I find a threat in these?
Whenever I resist something, it’s because I take it as solid and a (potential) threat, and I reinforce that impression. That’s why it seems to strengthen, solidify, and persist. I am doing it. I reinforce my initial experience of it.
When I welcome it, and even find kindness or love for it, something shifts. I befriend it, so it appears more friendly to me. I may even see that the resistance is there to protect me, and comes from deep caring and love, so it’s easier for me to welcome it, and find kindness and love for it.
And when I examine it, and perhaps can’t find it (outside of images, words, sensations), see it’s not how it initially appeared, there is another shift. As the old saying goes, the snake is revealed as a rope. The resistance is revealed as made up of words, images, and sensations, and when these “unstick” from each other, the charge in it, and apparent solidity of it, softens or falls away.
There is a very ordinary tragedy of a human life.
We all experience loss, failure, illness, death.
There is nothing remarkable about it, even if – for some of us – it may seem that way. It may seem that we are singled out by life. We are singularly unfortunate. We are singularly a victim of life.
One reason it may appear that way is that most of us present a relatively successful facade to others, at least as long as we are able to. And we reserve the rest to close friends, or perhaps only ourselves. We share our highlights reel, and hide the bloopers.
Sharing this with others – perhaps even in a more structured setting – is a good way to see that life is different. Life is hard for all of us, at times and in certain areas of life.
Another is to meet the victim in us with love (and the hurt and pain), and also do inquiry on this.
As I resist and fight against my own pain and victimhood, I tend to feel apart from humanity in this. As I meet it with love and curiosity, it softens – and may be seen for what it is – and I feel a part of humanity.
Life’s inherent and inevitable tragedy becomes something that brings me closer to myself and others. It’s something we all share. It’s even something I can meet with kindness and love in myself. I may even find that wounds, pain and tragedy is not quite as solid or heavy as it initially appeared.
The lotus has always had an important mystical meaning. Its roots are down in the slime and mud at the bottom of the lake and the flower unfolds on the surface of the water.
– Carl Jung, ETH, Page 113.
There are several ways of understanding this.
One is that our “roots” are in what’s hidden to us, and they feed and lead to what’s visible. That happens within content, where dynamics we are unaware of inform what’s visible. It also happens in that what we are – this no-thing that it all happens within and as – is the metaphorical “roots” of who we are, this form and human self.
In a more conventional sense, we can use difficulties (mud) to grow (flower). We can use challenging situations in life, or embracing and finding kindness towards inglorious sides of ourselves, to mature, be more fully human, find more empathy, be more real, find a more open heart, find resiliency and more.
And in another sense, we can explore the basic ideas of mud and flower. We may see that they are not as they initially seem.
For instance, I may find that the “mud” in me – perhaps anger, grief, confusion, tendency to isolate, neediness, hopelessness, arrogance – comes from a wish to protect the me, it comes from deep caring, it comes from love. The mud is perhaps really a flower. And the flowers, what I and perhaps others see as my “good qualities”, may turn to mud if I hold onto them and take them as too precious. They may create problems for me and others.
Also, when I look, can I find “mud” or “flower”? Can I find what I see these as referring to? Can I find it outside of words, images, sensations? Is it findable?
Why do some of us seek enlightenment?
It may be to avoid suffering. Or to find peace/love/joy. Or from love of love and truth, and a wish to live from love and truth.
It can also be to seek the ultimate approval – from life, Universe, God, and then also other people. To gain respect, love, and confirmation that I am OK.
None of these are wrong. It’s very natural, and very human.
And it’s good to notice.
How is it to give myself – here and now – what I seek?
Is it true that what I am seeking is not already here?
When I look, can I find what I seek for – outside of words, images, and sensations? Is it findable?
It seems to be quite common to feel “not enough”.
And it may be behind a wide range of compulsive and seeking behavior, including (compulsively) seeking love, relationships, money, status, safety, respect, approval, and even Enlightenment. (Which, in some of our minds, is perhaps the ultimate approval from life or the Universe!).
The flavor of “not enough” may be different in each of these cases, but they are variations of not-enoughness.
And it’s true. If we don’t recognize the wholeness of who we are, if we are not meeting our experience with love and kindness, if we don’t recognize what we are, we are – in our own experience – not quite enough. We suspect and feel that something is missing. And that’s true, in a way.
It’s missing because we are not noticing it, and not more consciously living from it.
What’s the remedy? Here are some I have explored:
Heart centered practices. (a) Finding kindness for these parts of me – the not enoughness, the seeking. Finding love for it, perhaps through loving kindness, ho’oponopono, or tonglen. (b) Seeing that these parts of me wish to protect me, they come from deep caring, they come from love. (Even if they seem confused, or in pain.)
Living Inquiry. See if I can find “not enough”, or what’s missing. Can I find it, outside of words, images, and sensations?
Is it true that what’s missing – whatever it is – is not already here? Is it true that love is not already here? Peace? Wholeness? (Adyashanti.)
After doing this – finding love for these parts of me, and perhaps seeing how these experiences are created, and finding what’s missing here – I can still work on healing, clarifying, accomplishing etc., but now from a more peaceful place.
And if the neediness, or compulsiveness, comes, that’s OK too. There is nothing wrong with it. It’s very natural. It’s part of being human. I can notice. Allow. Welcome. Rest with it. Perhaps ask simple questions about it, so I can see more clearly what’s really there.
It’s warm today. I have to call my parents. I will take a shower before going outside. I need a new pair of summer shorts.
Some thoughts seem less personal, like these. (At least to me, now.)
And some thoughts seem more personal.
I am not getting enough sleep. Why did they paint the house with high-VOC paint? Don’t they realize how toxic it is, and that there are good alternatives? Why is the air conditioning on at night, when it only makes the air stuffy and humid, while the outdoor air is fresh and cool? Where am I going to stay the next few days or weeks? Life is unfair. I don’t belong among Americans.
I should be over this. I am embarrassed I still have a charge around it. I am not looking at the situation as clearly as I can. I am afraid I’ll mess it up. That I’ll get caught in reactivity, and regret it later.
The difference is that the latter thoughts have a charge around them. There is (some) identification with their viewpoint. They feel more true. They feel more real. There is more “velcro” there. (Words and images seem stuck on sensations, and these sensations gives the words and images charge, and a sense of reality, and that that’s “my viewpoint”.)
That’s why they seem more personal. That’s why they seem more true.
That’s why it’s easier to get caught up in identifying with their viewpoint and stories, and not even notice what they are – words, images, sensations.
These are the ones that can go “under the radar”, at least for a time. Often, it’s easier to recognize what they are later. And sometimes even as there is identification and charge around it
Some call these “secondary thoughts” or “commenting thoughts” but that doesn’t seem accurate to me. All thoughts are commenting on something, and they are all – really – commenting other thoughts. Thoughts comment on each other. That’s why they are all also secondary thoughts. They come after and depend on prior thoughts.
The difference, to me, is that some thoughts have more identification and velcro and seem more true, and other thoughts have less or (apparently) none of this. The latter are easier to recognize as what they are. The former can be a little more difficult to recognize.
That’s why it’s good to slow it all down, through resting with it, and perhaps asking some simple questions to clarify what’s there.
I went to a talk at Spirit Rock tonight, and the teacher mentioned that it doesn’t matter so much what the attention is on as long as we are aware of what it’s on.
It reminded me of bi-directional attention, which has been interesting to me since the initial opening.
Attention can be on something within content, within form, an image, a word, sensations, taste, smell and so on.
Attention can also be on awareness itself. It can be on content of experience as awareness itself.
It’s not really bi-directional. I notice I wrote that since that’s how I thought of it back then.
Now, it’s more just a noticing of form, and awareness as – or making up, or constituting – that form. I can feel a sensation. Notice the space within and around it. And notice it all as awareness. And the same with an image. A word. A sound. Taste. Smell.
I can also explore what seems the most as “me” or “I”, and notice that too as sensations, images, perhaps words. Feel the sensations. Look at the images, words. Notice the space within and around it. Rest with it. Notice all as awareness. Rest with it.
This is a form of mindfulness that makes sense of me.
Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.
– Simone Weil
It is certainly a form of generosity.
Attention determines what’s in focus for us in the moment, so choosing to bring something into focus in that way – whether it’s an experience, someone else, or awareness itself – is a form of generosity.
I started reading Nondualism: A Brief History, which so far seems interesting.
Early on, there is a quote from Ken Wilber where he says:
…. you can drink the Pacific ocean in a single gulp, you can swallow the Kosmos whole…. everything continues to arise moment to moment, the entire Kosmos continues to arise moment to moment….
To me, this seems like it’s written by someone who either has had a glimpse of it and is a bit drunk on it, or someone who knows (about) it mostly intellectually.
It seems exaggerated. And I know well the feeling of being blown away by it, wanting to try to put it into words, and going a bit overboard. I did that shortly after the initial opening, before it had settled more.
What’s real here is that there is no longer any distinction between inner and outer, apart from as an imagined distinction for navigation and communication purposes only. So whatever I see, or hear, or smell, is “within me”. It happens as the field of awake experience that I am, and which is always changing.
Unless I see the WHOLE Pacific ocean, in other words – unless I am an astronaut in Earth orbit – it doesn’t really make sense to say that I can drink the Pacific ocean in a single gulp. The whole Pacific ocean is not part of my experience, apart from as an image.
Talking abut drinking the Pacific ocean seems a mix of a real recognition of being this field of experience, as it is here now. And ideas and images of the whole Pacific ocean, or the whole of Kosmos, and then transferring the first to the second.
In other words, it seems a bit exaggerated, or misleading, or even confused. Although I, as mentioned above, have full sympathy with people expressing it that way since I did too initially.
In my case now, I can say that this field of experience – as it is here and now – is one, it’s what a thought may call awakeness, or aliveness. It’s what a thought would call a room, a window with light coming through it, sounds of construction work, a computer, legs, belly, a taste of minestrone soup. All of it as a seamless field. All of it happening within and as what I am. There is no Pacific ocean to gulp down. No Kosmos to swallow. That seems exaggerated.
And I am fully aware that my experience and insights about this is quite limited.
I have seen several articles where they say that people against GMOs are anti-scientific. Some of them are from The Guardian, which seems surprising.
There are a few different reasons why I disagree with this.
One is that it’s far too early to draw a final conclusion about the impact on human and ecosystem health of GMOs. See for instance No Scientific Consensus on GMO Safety from Environmental Sciences Europe. Jane Goodall, among others, have written about this.
Another is that the ecosystem impacts from, for instance, overuse of pesticides due to pesticide-resistant GMO plants, is a very real and serious concern.
And yet another is because of the business practices behind GMOs and the impact on farmers and (especially traditional) communities. Vananda Shiva is one of several who speaks and writes about this.
There are several reasons to be skeptical or opposed to GMOs, and the human health aspect is just one of them, and – in my mind – not the most important one. For me, the ecosystem impacts and the business practices are far more important and sufficient reasons to be opposed to GMOs.
When people write or talk about those skeptical or opposed to GMOs as anti-science, they seem to describe themselves. They ignore the other – legitimate and valid – reasons to be opposed to GMOs. They seem to pretend they don’t exist.
They seem try to paint a picture of this group of people as unscientific so their arguments can be easily rejected, including the ecosystem and social justice arguments.
Whenever I believe a story, I make myself more stupid than I am.
I go into the victim role. I see the world – myself, others, the situation – in black and white. I polarize. I feel hopeless. I am blinded by frustration.
I perceive and live as if my belief is true. If that’s how it is, and that’s it.
Reality is different. Reality is that any number of ways of looking at the situation have validity. Reality is that it’s happening within and as what I am.
As Buddhists say, I am the sky and this experience is a passing cloud.
Earlier today, I went into some hurt and had a mental conversation with someone where I said “you are making yourself more stupid than you are”. That may be true, and it’s not for me to know. What’s for me is to find how I am doing it, also in that situation.
This is a topic that came up in conversation yesterday.
Many or most “white” depictions of Native Americans will be seen as offensive by some or many actual Native Americans.
The depiction may cast them as primitive savages or villains, especially in the books and movies up until the 70s(?). As noble savages or heroes. As damaged alcoholics. Or as wise people in tune with nature, as in the modern new age mythology.
In most cases, the depiction will be of an imagined Native American which may not ever have existed in that way. It’s a generalization, a cardboard cutout, often based on myths and fears and/or wishful thinking. And this generalization is across time, groups, or individuals.
That’s almost a given since few westerners have actual and in-depth personal familiarity with their lives and culture, either in the past or now, and there is also a great deal of cultural and individual variation among Native Americans, as there is within any reasonably large and diverse groups of people.
And due to the Native American history with Europeans, they are understandably sensitive to how they are treated and depicted. If they were and had been the “top dog” in the relationship, they would probably see it as mildly amusing, but as it is, it’s understandable if some or many of them are more sensitive to this.
(When I see how Norwegians, or vikings, are depicted in popular culture outside of Norway, I see the misconceptions and often find it amusing. And that’s because it’s not a sensitive topic for me. Norwegians do well, and there is no history there for me that would make it a sensitive topic.)
It’s understandable if this is quite emotional for some, and come out in the form of anger.
It may hurt even more since what’s happening *can* be seen as a continued colonization. White people use the imagined Native American as subject of books, movies, music and visual art, and make it into entertainment, and also make money on it. That may be experienced, by some, as rubbing salt in the wound.
There is another aspect to this. For many of European heritage, and especially those who idolize or feel connected to the (imagined?) Native American, it’s well intentioned. They see something there that’s attractive and they would like to bring more alive in their own life. It could be a simple life, connected to and in tune with nature, and with close connections to your tribe. All of that is lacking for many in the modern world, so no wonder that many wish for it, and the traditional Native American is a good projection object for this type of life.
It may not be entirely accurate. It may sometimes be experienced as offensive. And yet, it’s often well intentioned, and comes from caring about a certain way of life.
In other cases, the projection will be more of a shadow projection, as in the old west books and movies where Native Americans are the primitive savages. I assume that’s happening even now, through stereotypes of contemporary Native Americans on reservations as lazy, or alcoholics, or running ethically dubious operations such as casinos.
One may even shift into the other, for some. Some who idealize the wise and nature-connected Native American may be disappointed by the reality today, and even get caught in shadow projections. And the reverse may be possible too.
I imagine there are a few ways for Native Americans to relate to this. In a reactive way, publicly rejecting it and seeing these people as having malicious intent. Rejecting it from seeing it as misguided and not “getting it”. Ignoring it, as much as possible, and perhaps only talking about it in private. Actively educating people about the reality, as you see and experience it. Recognizing it as projections. And I am sure there are other ways too.
I am very aware that what I have written here can also be seen as offensive. For instance, I could have used the term First Nations instead of Native Americans. I make many assumptions here, which may not be accurate. I am getting into a topic that’s not really my business. (Apart from being aware of my own imaginations and projections, and how it may be perceived.) And I am exploring this without having checked with people of Native American heritage. (Their responses would probably make me change how I write about this, and would probably also be quite varied.)
I finally got around to watch Interstellar, and liked it very much. I thought it was very moving at times, the story was tight, and I like well made science fiction movies in general.
It also brought up the topic of sustainability vs space colonization. To me, those go hand in hand. They both have to do with big picture questions. And knowledge from each may well inform the other. For instance, what we learn from sustainability will be of help if (when?) we create space colonies or terraform other planets, and what we learn from those will give us valuable information about how to live in a more sustainable way back on Earth. (Although we probably should have figured that our before we get around to space colonizes and/or terraforming.)
In the short and medium term, we need to learn to live in a more genuinely sustainable way. (Which will require significant reorganization of how we do just about everything, including our institutions.)
In the medium and long term, we need to explore space further, and learn to move beyond this planet. We need, as so many points out, to become an multi-planet species. We need to branch out. It’s what life does. It’s part of our built-in draw to adventure and exploration. It’s how Earth will propagate. It’s what’s necessary if Earth life is to continue beyond the lifespan of this one planet and solar system. It’s what’s prudent, considering that having just one location for Earth life is far more precarious than two, or more.
All life propagates, and Earth is a living system, so why wouldn’t Earth propagate? In that sense, we are in service of Earth life. We are the part of Earth that may be able to make it happen.
And although Interstellar contrasts sustainability with space colonization, it’s the type of movie that makes these ideas more mainstream. It’s part of spreading these ideas, making them familiar, and even attractive.