Some things I may explore with the Unfindable Inquiry from the Living Inquiries:
Longing. The one who longs (for love, deep sense of rightness, home, alignment). Boomerang situation: Longing in early childhood. Remembering how it was before incarnation (infinite love, deep sense of home and rightness), and not receiving it from my parents.
Fear. The one who is afraid. Boomerang situation: Fear about the future. Seeing myself in the future, alone, on the streets (or in a small apartment), a wreck, on government support, miserable, in mental turmoil.
Doom. The one who is doomed. Boomerang situation: A sense of dread. Primal sense of dread.
Loss. The one who lost what was most important to him. The one who will lose what’s most important to him. Boomerang situation: Loss of relationships, loss of passion/clarity, loss of opportunities (education, living places that felt right, work).
My storehouse having been burnt down, nothing obstructs my view of the bright moon.
- Mizuta Masahide
When I am gently, quietly accepting towards even the most uncomfortable energies and thoughts, I am naturally more compassionate towards others. When I am rejecting or resisting what is felt or thought, I am rejecting and resisting others. Love my inner experience and my outer experience is loved naturally. They are not two.
- Scott Kiloby
Yes, that fits my experience. My world is one, and how I relate to (what a thought may call) the inner is how I relate to (what I thought may call) the outer. Meeting what’s here – emotions, words, images – with curiosity and love, noticing they are already allowed, and it’s more natural for me to meet other people and life circumstances in a similar way.
People often tell me how their lives can feel overwhelming sometimes, how the waves in life’s ocean can be so intense that it feels like they will be destroyed if they go any further, and the only ‘solution’ seems to be to shut down and numb and distract themselves from their present experience, and then dream of a future freedom or awakening. Pain, fear, sadness, joy and bliss, can feel so huge, so unmanageably colossal, so intense or so intensely beautiful, it’s almost as if you’re about to die, about to be crushed by the weight of life, and it can be terrifying, to be on the verge of death like that.
Perhaps it’s not death we are afraid of, but too much life.
But as the ocean itself, as the vast space of consciousness that holds all of these beloved waves, you can never truly be destroyed, for you know that all of the waves are only movements of yourself, and cannot actually hurt you in your essence. A wave cannot overwhelm the water, a storm cannot destroy the sea, a teardrop cannot cry itself, and grounded in this knowing, we can expand rather than contract, we can actually open up to the possibility of allowing ourselves to feel totally overwhelmed beyond reason, whilst knowing deeply that we can never be truly overwhelmed, and that if we ever did reach that point, the vast and creative and loving intelligence of the body would render us unconscious instantly.
And so we can fearlessly open ourselves up to both the pain and bliss of life, incorporating all of it into ourselves, knowing that it can never truly overwhelm us, trusting the intelligence of the body, so that even the darkest places become flooded with the light of ourselves, and loss transmutes into love, and pain transmutes into compassion, and “seek and ye shall find”, that most ingrained of concepts, transmutes lovingly into “stop seeking, child, rest deeply in yourself, now, and ye shall be found…”
- Jeff Foster
The various addictions in my life began to die only when the desire to wordlessly and intimately welcome every negative sensation outweighed the desire to medicate or get rid of it.
- Scott Kiloby
Just to clarify: The term “negative sensations” in this quote refers to sensations that words and images say are undesirable, appear as a threat, and there is resistance to. Sensations are just sensations, and that is revealed through the sincere curiosity he is referring to here. And that wordless curiosity and welcoming is revealed through inquiry, when the velcro has loosened or gone out of the collection of sensations and the words and images stuck on it.
He is using the word “negative” because that’s how it looks before inquiry. He is meeting people where they are. And through inquiry, the label “negative” doesn’t fit, is seen as just a label, and may not even be findable in the Living Inquiry sense.
Do not seek after what you yearn for, seek after the source of the yearning itself.
The end point is already at the beginning. That’s what we call the direct path. You don’t have to get to silence. You simply have to realize it’s there. You don’t have to get to openness. You simply need to realize it’s already there. You don’t need to get to freedom. You simply need to recognize that it’s already there. You don’t need to get to no-self. You just need to recognize that there isn’t one there to begin with. You don’t have to get to the divine. You simply have to recognize that it’s the only thing that’s going on already. That’s called the direct path. It’s a direct experiential introduction to the view. The key is that it’s got to be experiential.
In the end, all that is not who you are will die, because it is not real anyhow. You can assist this process by not feeding the negative thoughts and ego, but even if you do, sooner or later it will all run out of steam. It actually takes a lot more energy to keep it all going, though we are unware of it. One day you will burn through despondency, etc.
Yes, you have been dismantled down to the child level and are now slowly being put back together. It is taking a long time because it is an organic process like growing a plant. Only that which does not serve gets dimantled, ie that which you cling to as desirable as part of the self image that isn’t real. I’m sure it goes back through many lifetimes because the pattern is so strong. However long it takes.
What do you really know about what you life should look like etc? What do you know about the future? What is left but the emptiness of the mystery. All that is painful is the images that we cling to. Everyone does it, so you are not doing it wrong. As you let go of these pictures, images and identities you will find the peace you seek. Love, b
- Barry, in an email to me
100% of suffering is alleviated by just bringing attention directly into a sensation without thoughts on it. Test it out. If it fails, you still have a thought on it.
- Scott Kiloby
All life wants is to know itselfTo know and to be knownTo be seen, touched, sensed, experiencedLife has no need of happy endings:When you drop your demand for it to please youWhen you’re no longer screaming for it to make you happyIt unashamedly delights in itself, in its own sheer miraculousnessLife sends forth its invitation to you every dayAnd you, making your myriad excuses, usually declineBecause you know that if you say yesYour very own ten thousand things, your wonderful, labyrinthine creations(The mes and yous, hims and hers, its and thems)Will lose their substance, their gravity, around which you revolveOnce you finally stop spinning – even for a moment -You’ll see that all life is here (for there is nothing Out There)And unadorned, sublime, it truly has no need of happy endings- Fiona
When things come up that feels challenging, it can be tempting to wonder if it’s something old that’s surfacing to release, or something new that is created here and now. After all, many people make that distinction.
And yet, does it really matter? In either case….
How do I relate to it? Is there resistance and struggle? A sense of being a victim? What do I find when I explore this through inquiry? (If what’s surfacing feels challenging and stressful, that’s a good indication that there is resistance, and beliefs and identification.)
How is it created? What beliefs would create it? What do I find when I take these to inquiry?
How is it to be with the sensations, when words and images have released from it through inquiry?
Nothing new here, but a meeting I was at a couple of days ago reminded me of it.
There are two basic – and often complimentary – orientations to healing:
(a) Removing or changing the apparent problem, such as an illness or situation in life. (Most medicine and some psychology.)
(b) Changing how we relate to it. (Some psychology, and practices such as yoga, Breema, meditation, inquiry etc.)
And there are – crudely speaking – three levels of healing:
(a) Treating symptoms.
(b) Treating intermediate causes. (Most psychology and medicine is here.)
(c) Inquiry into the dynamics and nature of the mind, eventually allowing identifications with parts of the content of awareness (images, thoughts) to release. (Some forms of meditation and inquiry.)
One of the effects of the Living Inquiries is to un-velcro words and images from sensations.
When there is an emotional charge in a group of words, images and sensations, it’s difficult to allow and be with the sensations. There is often a pull or push there, and it’s sticky all around. Attention is brought to the sensations, and it triggers associated words and images, and the sense of charge, and this tends to draw attention into the charged story.
When this charge has released – through examining the words, images and sensations one by one – it’s much easier to be with and allow the sensations. They are recognized as just sensations. The sensations are noticed, felt, allowed to live its own life, and allowed to move through.
1. Addiction – Not only addiction to common drugs and alcohol but also addiction to thinking, gambling, sex, porn, eating, love, relationships, cleaning, work, worrying, rage, complaining, blaming and just about any other addiction you can imagine.
2. Anxiety – This includes generalized anxiety, phobias, PTSD, worry and all other forms of fear and anxiousness about the future or about specific situations.
3. Health, Illness, Physical Pain, Death – The inquiries bring relief from the psychological and emotional suffering around these issues.
4. Depression – This includes clinical diagnosed depression as well as depression that is self-diagnosed.
5. Stress – This includes extreme and frequent stress as well as the everyday stress that many experience in their family relationships, social situations, jobs and other areas.
6. Trauma – Childhood and other forms of trauma including sex and other abuse.
7. Obsession – Pure obsession, OCD and other forms of obsession.
8. Spiritual Seeking – Many people work with Scott or other facilitators because they are seeking enlightenment or awakening. The inquiries are quite effective in bringing about the awakening that is sought within a short period of time.
9. Self-Esteem Issues – Because the inquiries focus on what Scott calls “Deficiency stories,” these tools work to release all forms of low self-esteem.
10. Relationship Issues – The boomerang and panorama aspects of the inquiries release the psychological and emotional triggers that bring about struggle and disharmony in relationships.
11. Body contractions – Certain addictions and other behaviors occur because certain parts of the body contain energetic tightness or contraction (e.g., the throat, chest, stomach or pelvic area). The mining techniques of the inquiries release these contractions so that the body begins to feel warm, open, spacious and peaceful.
The Breadth and Effectiveness of the Living Inquiries, from livingrelationship.org.
I am in the certification program, so in a few months, I’ll hopefull be available to help people using the Living Inquiries.
Life is here to break your heart over and over again until you realise that heartbreak is life too… and then your heart can no longer be broken, or fixed. And you stand naked in front of life, moment by moment, knowing that whatever happens is totally okay even in the midst of perfect devastation, which, of course, is devastating perfection. This is freedom beyond the speaking of it.
- Jeff Foster
I notice I explore the origin and history of concepts in at least three areas:
Historically. For instance, what’s the origin and history of the idea of a split between humans and spirit? The different ideas of God or Spirit in the different traditions? Good and evil? Even good and bad? What we see as right and wrong in our culture? A particular custom? (This is explored through history, archaeology, anthropology, history of religion, history of science, history of philosophy etc.)
In my own life. When did I first have the idea of perfection? Of something being wrong? Of illness and health? (This often goes back to parents, school, friends and/or media, and sometimes I cannot remember and it’s more a matter of guessing.)
Here and now. The two previous ones are conceptual explorations, explored within the world of ideas – of history, time, origins etc. This one is here and now, and a direct looking. How is my experience of my world created? How does [anything] appear in my sense fields? In sensations, images and words, sight, sound, smell, taste? When it appears real, what gives it that sense of reality?
All three forms of explorations have their value.
The historical exploration helps me see that what we sometimes takes as a given in my culture is not really a given. The idea has its history, development, and – if we go far enough back – its origin. Someone – a human being just like me and anyone I know – made it up. And then other people took it on, developed it, perhaps took it as true and real, and passed it on.
The individual exploration helps me see when I took on certain ideas, from whom, and perhaps even why. I see that it was innocent, and from confused love. It was well intentioned, and perhaps somewhat misguided.
And exploring how my world is created here & now is even more valuable to me. It helps whatever stickiness is here soften and eventually release. What appeared solid, real and unquestionable is revealed as created by a combination of words and images, sensations, and images of these sensations.
A very basic point:
Unfindable doesn’t mean disappearing.
Looking for something – anything – in the sense fields, I cannot find it. I can only find words, images, sensations, taste, smell, and sight. And if I look for those, I cannot even find them.
That doesn’t mean that what I look for disappears. I may look for my computer without finding it, but I can still use it and type on it. It’s still here in a conventional sense.
It’s only that now, there is more clarity on how the appearance of a computer is created in my own mind, and there is less sense of inherent solidity or reality in it. And that means, should something happen to my computer, there is less charge around it and more clarity and rest.
Some notes about the dark night:
If it appears dark, it’s because of beliefs about what’s happening. In my case, the dark night happened after about 10 years in an “illumination” phase. It took the form of reversals in almost all areas of life. And it triggered latent beliefs in me so I could see them and investigate their dynamics and what’s more aligned with clarity and love.
As long as thoughts such as “something went wrong” are held as true, the dark night will appear dark and as a dark night. It’s more true that the dark night is just a label, a thought, and cannot be found anywhere. And it’s also true that it can be called a brilliant day, an invitation to align more of me with clarity and love.
To take a concrete example: I often have an apparently unpleasant experience in my body. It feels heavy, yukky and unpleasant. When I look, I see I have images of this experience in my body. And I also see some beliefs. It’s wrong. It means I am doomed. It means something terrible happened. It means something terrible will happen. Through The Work, some of these are seen through. And through the Living Inquiries, the “velcro” between the words, images and sensations is loosened. And as the images and words associated with it fall away, it’s easier to sit in the sensations, to feel them and allow them their life. I am still not where I consistently am able to meet what’s here as a friend (and I obviously don’t need to since it’s not what’s happening), but it’s an interesting process.
For me, one of the lessons of the dark night is to question any beliefs I have about what’s here, including any life circumstances and what’s going on with my body and mind. Another is to recognize all as what is (what a thought may call awareness, Spirit, God, Buddha Mind), and that it’s all OK. It’s all (what a thought may call) God’s will. It’s all (what a thought may call) love. Any identification is innocence, is well intentioned, and although it is allowed and welcomed by reality, it is also – in another way – out of alignment with clarity and love.
It looks like I’ll teach (show, guide) meditation for a group of teenagers, so I thought I would go over the basics again here, as a reminder for myself.
There are three basic forms of meditation: Stable attention, rest, and inquiry.
Stable attention / samatha. Attention can be trained. Untrained, it may easily be scattered and unruly. Trained, it can become stable and pliable, and a stable attention is helpful for almost any activity in our lives – from relationships to sports to learning and working. One way to train it is to bring attention to the breath, for instance the sensations at the nostrils as the breath naturally goes in and out. Attention may wander, and when that’s noticed, bring attention back to the breath. The noticing happens as grace.
Rest / shikantaza. Allow everything to be as it is. Notice it’s already allowed to be as it is. Notice what’s here – the sensations, sights, sounds, smell, taste, words and images. It all comes and goes. It lives it’s own life. Rest and notice what’s here. Even notice any resistance or trying. It’s all happening within and as the field of what’s here. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do. Just notice what’s already here.
Inquiry / vipassana. Insights into what the mind is, and how it works. These happen, to some extent, through the two previous ones. And they also happen through guided inquiry or exploration. such as sense field explorations, the Living Inquiries, The Work, the Big Mind process, and also holding satsang with what’s here.
Mutual support. Each of these support the others. A stable attention makes it easier to rest and do inquiry. Familiarity with rest makes it easier to explore a stable attention and inquiry from rest. And inquiry gives insights – and a release of identification with words and images – that supports a stable attention and rest.
Support of life. All these forms of meditation are in support of life. And there are, of course, many things that supports both life and meditation. Physical exercise is one, including forms of yoga (tai chi, chi gong, Breema), endurance and strength. Precepts is another, guidelines for how to live our lives. These give a preview of how it is to live from more clarity, they shows us what’s left (fears and beliefs that prevents us from living from clarity and love), and they support an easier and more stable relationship with others and ourselves. Different forms of therapies can also be very helpful in allowing our human self to align with clarity and love.
Another energy drawing. As I have mentioned before, I don’t take these as “literal” depictions of my energy system (it’s also not possible to directly translate these things into the physical) but more as projections. This one feels quite open and energetic, while also more grounded. It feels like what’s behind the confusion that sometimes is on the surface of the mind these days.
Laying in bed this morning, I noticed some familiar fragmentation in my mind, and also some frozenness, and I see how it prevents me from living a full and rich life following my guidance and integrity. I think it’s all from childhood (and really, from right now), and I want to take care of it. I may do a couple of more sessions with Bill (the local trauma guy), I plan to explore it with inquiry, pray for guidance and healing, and also bring it to mind while shaking. I have noticed the fragmentation also when looking at body images – there is one image of my physical body, then two images of my body that are not completely aligned with my physical body. I wonder if those are there because they feel safer somehow. I also notice several images of “me” in the head area – one of the physical head, one that’s in the same location only larger, and one behind my physical head. It will be interesting to see what happens when I recognize more clearly that these are images and not “me”.
I wrote this earlier today. I see I can take several things here to the Living Inquiries: Trauma. Wounds. Childhood. Fragmentation. Frozenness. The various body images, which seem to come up naturally in the Living Inquiry sessions across a range of topics. The command to be healed, to not have trauma, to not have wounds, to be whole, healthy and unblemished. The command to resist any of these. The threat in wounds, trauma, frozenness, fragmentation, healing, wholeness.
In virtually every situation where you find yourself blaming, attacking or making someone else wrong, there is an unconscious feeling or sensation in the body that is being avoided. Turn gentle, restful, open attention to the sensation and let it float freely without words. Watch it disappear. Then look at the other person and notice it was never about him or her. It was just about avoidance.
- Scott Kiloby on Facebook
I keep seeing that when there is a mismatch between my dearly held views and reality there is discomfort and reactivity, and this reactivity includes emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, grief, longing and even exhilaration.
The beliefs themselves create this discomfort and these emotions. If they were true, as I tell myself they are, discomfort and these emotions are reasonable reactions. We are wired to react that way.
I also see that the discomfort and the anger, fear, sadness etc. almost seem to come from the discrepancy between (a) knowing that my dearly held views are not true, and (b) still feeling compelled to hold onto them. Somewhere in me, I feel I need to hold onto them – to survive, to do well, to avoid discomfort, to find satisfaction and happiness. That’s another discrepancy that is bound to create discomfort and a range of different emotions.
So one discrepancy is between my views and reality, and the other is between feeling a need to hold onto these views while knowing – somewhere – they are not true. Both create discomfort and reactive emotions.
The discomfort and these reactive emotions are alarm clocks, as Byron Katie says. They show me that I hold onto views, that these are out of alignment with reality, and they invite me to take a closer look at what’s going on.
I am in a phase again where there are occasional strong contractions. My mind contracts into beliefs (complaints, self-pity), my breath gets shallow, I resist the contraction and think I am doing it wrong, and when it goes far enough, I partly forget and partly don’t want to use any tools in my tool box. At this point, time is what seems to help the most.
Here are some reminders to myself of what I can do.
As the contraction starts
- Notice the trigger, the situation and beliefs
- Give mind/body over to the divine, including the contraction and resistance to the contraction
- Drink water (herbal teas, beef broth), take Chulen
- Use the body. Shake, neurogenic tremors / TRE + walk outdoors
- Breathe and stay with the sensations/feelings
- Rest, notice what’s here is already allowed
As it happens
- Walk outdoors
- Notice sensations, and beliefs about what they mean, take to gentle inquiry
- Is it true this sensation means I am doomed?
- Is it true this sensation means something terrible happened? Is it true it means something terrible will happen?
- Do these sensation say anything about what’s real?
- Breathe and stay with the sensations/feelings
When it’s lighter
- Inquiry on triggers and the contraction itself
- Some beliefs: I made a mistake, I lost what’s important to me, my life will be miserable
- Set intention to remember these things when the contraction starts
- Pray for guidance and support
- Training stable attention (attention on the sensations at the nostrils)
- Rest, allow what’s here + notice it’s already allowed
- Bring attention to the heart flame, put mind/body in the flame, put contraction and resistance to it into the flame
I keep seeing some of my stories about body sensations.
Here are some:
I need to feel a certain way (energy, clarity, zest) to get something done.
I need this feeling to go away. I need it to change. This feeling is wrong.
This feeling means I am doomed. It means something terrible happened / will happen.
Some things to look for with the Living Inquiries:
Tension. Discomfort. Unease. Sensations. Physical pain. The one who has tension. The one who has discomfort. The one who wants it to go away. The one who wants a different feeling. The one who has physical pain. Boomerang situation: Feeling discomfort in my body, and getting caught in resisting it, wanting it to go away.
Growing up in a liberal country where few if any lifts an eyebrow over gay marriage, I find the homophobic attitudes in Russia puzzling. Why do they feel a need to make life miserable for a large group of people just because they happen to love someone of their own sex?
At the same time, I can find where I instinctively feel repulsed, and one example is homophobes. I relate to them as they relate to gay people. So that’s mine to be aware of and perhaps clear up through inquiry.
Life does not accommodate you; it shatters you. Every seed destroys its container, or else there would be no fruition.
- Florida Scott Maxwell
The bottom of things is always the hardest. The insanity of the separate ego mind is incessant before it dissolves away. At this part in my journey all that was left was to throw myself, mind, body, soul and spirit into God’s/Christ’s hands. I gave ever breath, each heart beat up. I disavowed any doing on my own and to wait even unto death until I was prompted what to do next. That kind of radical surrender is almost always the only way through.
There is no future for any of us…What we conceive of as our future is only mental images projected into the screen of the infinite Now. If you closely observe, it is only when the mind is doing that that there is suffering. Their may be pain, discomfort in the present, but there can be no suffering, which only occurs when we are not fully here, with our experience.
I would continually give my life to the Divine and be fully present to your experience not trying to do anything but experience it with an open, available mind as we did in our session work. If you truly give your life to God, you no longer are at the controls. Easier said than done, but the truth path of the Christ. Love, B
- Barry, in an email to me
Barry and Karen – my friends and mentors – have a new website: Birthing the Luminous Self.
I especially resonate with their section on Enlifenment, awakening of the belly soul center, as that seems to have been the focus of my process for a while now.
In our spiritual quest, we may have become so fixated on enlightenment as the ultimate goal that we pursued this lofty state at the expense of our humanness. Years into the journey, we may receive a wake-up call — in the form of illness or other imbalance — that lets us know we’ve left our human selves lying in the dust, forgotten in the rush toward our image of the ultimate spiritual accomplishment. The degree to which we’ve pursued enlightenment through severely structured, “disembodied” spiritual practices and disciplines may turn out to directly correspond to our need to surrender to the complemetary aspect of wholeness, endarkenment.
Endarkenment asks us to drop down, to sink into the depths of being, to surrender all striving to remain “above it all.” This can take the form of a “dark night of the soul”, as St. John of the Cross termed the experience of finding that even one’s most cherished spiritual ideals and truths suddenly seem empty, devoid of meaning or substance. We may feel shattered, taken apart; with our carefully-constructed edifice dismantled, we suddenly seem utterly confused, clueless, and lost.
Much has been written about the Dark Night experience, so we won’t go into it too deeply here. Suffice it to say that all that we have been avoiding typically comes flooding into our consciousness and experience. We can no longer evade or rise above it — now, our task is to accept, allow, and acknowledge every last bit of it. Eventually, through Grace, we find we can even love it all. As a loving embrace replaces hatred, resistance, and denial, the intensity recedes and we are carried into the next phase of our journey.