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In our western culture, we have tended to see parts of our world as inferior – nature, animals, our bodies, women, children, future generations – and treated it accordingly. We split the world in our minds, take this imagined split as reality, see one part as less valuable than the other, and then take this imagination as true as well.
There are historical, cultural, philosophical and religious reasons for this.
More immediately, it’s about the images we have in our own minds. Images transmitted from our culture, and that are there whether we consciously agree with them or not.
So it can be very helpful – and illuminating – to explore these images, for instance through the Living Inquiries.
When I bring my body to mind, what images do I see? What words? What sensations are connected to these images and words?
What do I find when I bring animals to mind? Animals vs. humans? Women? Women vs. men? Children? Children vs. adults? Future generations? Future generations vs. our current generation?
I see this as an important part of illuminating the stereotypes we all carry with us, and – at least somewhat – live our lives from, whether we are aware of it or not.
Note: In our western culture, influenced by a certain version of Christianity, we tend to split the world into good and bad, less valuable and more valuable. And the dividing line has been drawn between body and mind, women and men, children and adults, nature and humans, future generations and the current generation, with the former of each of these pairs seen as less valuable, less important, less respectable. And that’s behind many of the troubles we see today. For instance, we couldn’t have developed such a deeply unsustainable way of doing business, economics and production if it wasn’t for images in our minds telling us that (a) there is a split between humans and nature, and (b) humans are more important than nature. This is what has allowed us to pretend, for a while, that we operate separate from (the rest of) nature, and that we can mistreat nature without mistreating ourselves in the same way.
I know several – myself included – who seem to not be able to do much these days other than meeting what’s here with love. Meeting what’s here with love, whether it’s fear, emotional pain, physical pain, anger, frustration, wounds, hurt, and more.
And that does seem like the most important job right now. These parts have been neglected for so long. Collectively, they have been neglected or vilified for generations. And in my life, for years or decades. And all they want is love.
They are innocent. And their intention is to help me and protect me. They come from love for me.
So why not meet them with love?
I can hold satsang with it.
You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me.
What would satisfy you forever? (What do you really want?)
What are you really?
I can meet it in a very simple way.
I wish you ease. I wish you love.
I can do ho’oponopono.
I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.
And it’s all very simple. It’s quiet. Simple. Love.
What’s here doesn’t need to change. It’s already innocent. Love. Awareness. And it does change, when met with simple love.
Meeting these neglected parts with love helps them, it helps me, and it helps the world. It’s what they need, I need, and it’s what the world sorely needs right now.
This is again an old topic, but it keeps coming up for me when I read or hear certain folks in the media.
To blindly accept and blindly reject, are both forms of blindness.
If others are similar to me, it’s a way of dealing with fear, of avoiding feeling the fear. It comes from hope, again as a way to avoid feeling fear and discomfort. It comes from identification with a certain identity, which appears solid and real as “me”. It comes from beliefs, from taking certain thoughts as true and reflecting a reality “out there”. It comes from velcro, from sensations attached to words and images, creating an sense of reality, solidity, charge and likes and dislikes. It’s a way of reinforcing belonging to certain groups, for instance hard nosed skeptics, or those who have “seen behind the veil” (new age etc.). Each of these are slightly different ways of pointing to the same.
This came up for me again when I saw that NRK (the Norwegian broadcasting company) has another TV series where the host clearly sets out to dismiss certain things, rather than seriously investigate to find what’s really there. Of course, others do the same only in reverse – accepting certain things without really looking into to to see what’s there. And many do look into it seriously and in a more sober way, to find what’s really there.
One of the topics of the TV series was sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation. It’s an interesting topic because the nocebo effect most likely plays a role for many. And it is true that research into possible mechanisms, and connections between radiation and health, haven’t come up with anything conclusive. Still, that doesn’t mean something more may be going on that it’s worth exploring further.
I have written about this a few times but wanted to revisit it, mostly as a way to explore it again for myself.
A dark night of the soul, in a technical sense, is what typically happens after an initial awakening (AKA illumination) and before finding a deeper ease with what’s here, independent of what is is (AKA equanimity). (See Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism, or Adyashanti’s Resurrecting Jesus, for more on this.)
The term itself – dark night of the soul – can be understood in a few different ways.
Life is working on us in a way that’s hidden from us. (As it really always does.) It’s hidden and unknown, as in a dark night. This is the original meaning of the word, as far as I know.
What happens may be seen as “dark” in a more modern sense. It’s a challenging phase, dark psychological material may surface, things seem to go wrong, and (apparently) desired things fall away. The word “dark” is here used in the sense of hidden, or what’s conventionally seen as undesirable.
A dark night implies rest, and rest seems to be an important part of the dark night of the soul, at least at times and for some of us.
Why does a dark night of the soul happen?
It may be due to a burn-out from the initial awakening phase, with strong kundalini energies running through the system.
It’s a natural reversal from going “up” in the initial awakening, and now “down” so both can be met, included and loved.
It may come from an inability to repress material anymore, sometimes due to the opening of the initial awakening. Whatever is unmet and unloved in us (wounds, traumas) come to the surface to be met, loved, included and seen through.
What’s left of identifications (beliefs, velcro) surfaces, so this can be met and loved, and perhaps seen through. (A variation of the one above.) With this comes an invitation to mature as a human being, and deepen in our familiarity with the terrain – human and consciousness.
We may have said a “dangerous prayer”, asking for full awakening no matter the cost, or to be shown “what’s left”. (I did both, at different times. The dark night of the soul started a year-and-a-half after the first prayer, and the darkest phase of the dark night came a couple of weeks after the second.)
We don’t know. Even if the stories above may be helpful, we don’t know.
For me, there may also have been a couple of more specific reasons:
I went into a life situation that felt wrong and went against my guidance, and that’s when the dark night started for me. I stayed because of fears and shoulds, and a hope that it would get better, and it was very draining, which is perhaps what led to the darkest phase of the dark night (with health problems, inability to suppress, and more).
I received some diksha sessions a few years into the dark night. These led to what seemed like a nondual awakening, which lasted for about six months. This, in turn, was followed by a collapse of my whole system (fatigue, brain fog, inability to suppress etc.). I wonder if the diksha forced what otherwise would have been a more gradual, slow and more natural process, which led to a backlash. The diksha energy may also have changed something in me (the brain?) which my system reacted to.
I have done some reading on what I can do to take care of my gums and teeth, and here are some brief pointers:
Brushing etc. (nothing here is very unusual).
Brush well. (I sometimes use a Sonicare brush which is good for gums and teeth.)
Use remineralizing toothpaste (calcium bentonite clay can be used).
Floss + clean the tongue.
Rinse with salt water after meals.
Diet and supplements.
Eat well and enough to get the metabolism up. (Butter, coconut oil and more is good here.)
Get enough vitamin A, D3 and K2. (Helps gum and teeth health and recovery.)
Bone broth, gelatin etc.
And possibly… oil swishing (ayruvedic).
I have found Joey Lott’s book How I Healed My Teeth Eating Sugar very helpful.
The nice thing about these pointers is that they are simple, they align with the “official” advice, they fit with our evolutionary history (often a good check), and they help improve health in general. And they may not only help maintain and improve gum and teeth health, but can possibly also help “repair” existing problems.
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God.
Justin Welby tells BBC radio interviewer there are moments when he doubts – but he is certain about the existence of Jesus.
– from a The Guardian article
I am sometimes puzzled that people who make God their business sometimes seem to have a quite naive and immature way of looking at it. (Of course, there are many exceptions.)
In this case, as I have mentioned before, it’s all about our image of God. If I see God as equal to reality, what is as it is, then the whole question of belief falls away. God equals reality and is something I can explore through science, and also in immediate experience. Also, if I see God as consciousness itself, then I can find it through a simple inquiry here and now – for instance through the Big Mind process, the headless experiments, or the Living Inquiries.
Similarly with Jesus. It’s all about how I see Jesus and/or Christ.
If I see the Jesus story as a teaching story, it doesn’t matter whether Jesus – as a historical person – lived or not. The Jesus story reflects me and my own process.
And if I see Christ as a particular flavor of Big Mind/Heart, then again it doesn’t matter whether Jesus lived or not. It’s something I can access here and now, allow work on me, and live from.
It allows me to be more honest about the historical question of Jesus, and admit that there is hardly any convincing data suggesting that he did live as a historical person. It doesn’t matter because the Jesus story is still a very important teaching story, and Christ is alive here and now.
Note: See Resurrecting Jesus by Adyashanti, and The Jesus Mysteries by Tim Freke and Peter Gandy, among other books, on this topic. Also, when it comes to our views of the divine, I am aware that these tend to reflect phases of adult development, as outlined by f.ex. Fowler.
Earlier today, I mentioned to an inquiry friend that I see a belief in me that I need to be saved by a woman. She asked from what? and I realize I didn’t quite know.
Here are some things I find. I need to be saved from…..
This feeling of unease or discomfort.
Feeling unloved and unlovable.
Feeling not enough.
This is a reminder that first I find, then I can unfind.
First, I find what appears to be here…. a real threat, a real deficient self, or anything else.
Then, I can see what’s really here. What do I find? Can I find it outside of words, images and sensations?
Note: The beliefs I write about here have a few things in common. They are often a variation of an universal theme. They are not necessarily very strong. And they are not always noticeable. They come up now and then, in varying degrees of intensity, and most of us know them from our own life.
All loneliness is loneliness from ourselves. Most of what we do to feel better takes us further away from that which we are aching for.. intimacy with the self.. and still we need to take breaks and let it happen in it’s own time.. we cannot force ourselves open, just like a child has it’s own way of being, opening and closing…
– my friend AH on FB
Here’s my challenge for you: If you want to find your passion, know your life’s purpose, meet your soulmate, or feel intensely alive, don’t look toward the fun things that fit logically into the flow of an easy life. Ask yourself, “What am I running away from?” Whatever that thing is, turn around. Walk toward it. Face it and conquer it, or die trying.
– Martha Beck
What I am running away from is what’s right under my nose. I can be sleeplessness, physical pain, emotional pain, fears about the future, regrets. Whatever is here in my experience that I wish wasn’t here, and try to make go away, or try to ignore or flee from. Whatever appears as an enemy to me, and not a friend.
My answer to her was this: There is ultimately nothing wrong with experiencing all of these things. They are merely words, pictures and emotions. But when we have a belief that we are broken and that we need to be fixed, we are always looking for an end point, instead of really “being with” whatever is arising in the present moment.
Once we clear away the belief that we are broken and need to be fixed, a change of perception can start to happen. We move beyond this limited way of experiencing ourselves and into a direct and immediate allowing of everything as it is, without resistance. This change of perception has the power to profoundly relieve suffering in a way that is different from being “fixed.” The relief of suffering comes from welcoming the suffering, from moving through it, instead of trying to reach the end of something.
Get radical: question the notion that you are broken and that you need fixing. Throw away the conditioning that your culture has given you, and replace it with a loving investigation of thoughts, emotions and sensations as they come and go. Notice that, as thoughts, emotions and sensations come and go, there is an awareness that remains unchanged by all that. It remains stably present regardless of the coming and going of all these things. In this, there is a deep acceptance of life, no matter how it shows up.
And then, when you are ready, question the notion of awareness itself. Notice that it too is not something findable. It is not something you have to hold onto in any way. At that point, you have lost your ground in a good way. You are not merely watching the river of experience coming and going. You are the river itself. You have jumped in and lost that sense of self that wants to change the river. You have lost the belief in being broken and needing to be fixed. You are living and enjoying life, the good, the bad, the ugly and the neutral. It’s all here for you in the moment. Live it, love it, be it. Notice that the river never ends and that you aren’t looking for its end anymore anyway.
– Scott Kiloby in Beyond Our Culture of Fixing
A few very basic things about mind and body:
Life is one whole. And sometimes, for practical reasons, we divide it into (a) individual and the wider world, and (b) the individual into mind and body. These boundaries are created through overlays of thought, – of words and images – and are not inherent in reality.
That means that when it comes to any aspect of our health, what we call mind and body both are at play, as is the wider (social and ecological) whole.
For instance, with physical pain, there is the physical pain (body) and there is our response to it (mind), both influence each other, and our cultural expectations and norms, social support (wider world) and more also play into it. If there are fearful beliefs about the pain, the pain may intensify. If we see the words and images, and feel the sensations, making up the pain and our responses to it, there may be more ease and ability to experience the sensations as sensations. There may still be “pain” but less suffering.
More in general, the processes of the mind influences the body – weakening or strengthening it which in turn influences health, illness and recovery. (We are so far just scratching the surface of this in terms of research.)
Also, from the view of physical science, mind appears connected with the body and is a mystery. (“What is it? What is it’s relationship to the body?”.) From our own immediate experience, all is mind. The body – and the wider world, and any other content of the mind – happens within and as mind. And both views are valid in their own way. Each have their value and function. They are two facets of how we can perceive the world.
P.S. These are things that seem very basic and obvious, but I still notice some confusion about this in the media and other places.
For a while, it feels good to be “illusioned”…. to imagine – and believe – that something will save me. With this comes the accompanying illusion is that something will destroy me.
It may even be true, to some extent and in some ways. Some things do lift me up, especially when I believe it will. And some things do appear to break me down, when I believe it will.
Then life shows me otherwise, sometimes in combination with inquiry. I see that words, images and sensations – which is my whole experience – cannot really save me, or destroy me. And the me that looks like it can be saved or destroyed is also made up of words, images and sensations. I cannot find a me apart from or “outside” of that.
This is disillusionment, and although it is sobering and a relief, it can also include disappointment, sadness, grief, even what appears as depression. So much of what drove me – the hopes and fears – fall away.
The parts of me reacting to this process can also be met with curiosity. When I explore the words, images and sensations making up the apparent resistance, sadness, grief, neutrality and disillusionment, what do I find? Can I find these things apart from or outside of the words, images and sensations making them up? Is it as solid as it initially seemed? Is it as real? Is it real in the way I thought it was?
Many maps or outlines of the process show a dark night preceding a phase of more ease with what’s here (AKA equanimity). And with disillusionment – seen, felt and loved – does come a sense of ease with what’s here, independent of what it is. A sense of ease with life as it shows up, as it is.
It’s not nearly as glamorous as it may seem when hearing stories about it, or reading the maps. And yet, it is sobering. And it is a relief.
I have followed the Scottish independence debate a bit, and a few things stand out.
The English seem to want union for two main reasons: to benefit from Scottish oil money, and to maintain their British identity and what little grandeur is left after their empire crumbled.
The English attitude seems patronizing, and their arguments intentionally fear based. Both suggest that they don’t have many real or solid arguments in their favor.
If the situation was the reverse – if Scotland was independent and considered union with England – how many would vote for union? Probably not many.
The yes and no sides are about equal right now. I assume many will vote “no” to independence out of a (understandable, if misguided) fear of change.
If they do vote “yes” to independence, the process will happen gradually and over time. It won’t happen overnight. There will be time to work out practical and good solutions.
If they vote “yes”, it will encourage others in Europe to seek independence, which is what England, Spain and others fear.
As of now, a few days before the vote, the two sides are about equal with a slight advantage to the “no” side. Unfortunately (?), that means the “no” side will probably get the majority of votes since many will go for what they perceive as the “safe” choice, which is status quo.
Some seem surprised that spiritual teachers get sick.
Why would they get sick?
They are human, and humans get sick.
Their bodies may get worn out through high levels of energies running through (aka kundalini).
They may have asked to be shown what’s left, and to find peace/ease with what’s here (whatever it is), and life gives them an opportunity to find just that.
We can get sick even if we do everything “right”, and teachers – as anyone else – don’t even do everything “right” (in terms of health). It’s a matter of genetics, environment, lifestyle and more.
All of these fit my own experience. My system certainly got burnt through high levels of energies running through it for several years (with a following “collapse”). I did ask for “full awakening” no matter the cost (a year or two before the dark night) and to be shown what’s left (a couple of weeks before the darkest period of the dark night). And there are weaknesses in my genetics (although pretty good overall), toxins in my environment, lack of nutrients in much of my food (due to modern agricultural (mis)practices), and sometimes poor food and health choices on my part.
The question “why do spiritual teachers get sick” may also come from a confusion between two different things. One is a a health and fitness focus as who we are, at the the human and energetic levels. This can include a focus on diet, exercise, breath, chi, “inner work”, and so on. The other is finding ease with – or as – what is, as it is. A shift in what we take ourselves to be. This one is independent of the health focus. It may include it or not, but doesn’t depend on it. And spirituality, at least as I use the term, is about the second one. The emphasis is on finding ease with what is, through inquiry and seeing what’s really here, and less – or secondarily if at all – on health. (Of course, a wise approach is to include both, with an emphasis on consciously recognizing the “true nature” of ourselves and what’s here.)
There is another aspect to this. When spiritual teachers get sick, it’s an opportunity for them to explore how to relate to it which in turn may benefit others. It may help them mature and deepen as human beings, and clarify what’s really there – in contrast to what at first appears to be there (which may include recognizing it as love, and finding genuine love for it). That’s not “why” they get sick, but it’s a possible outcome.
In discussions, some people argue for or against a particular image of God, without acknowledging that it’s one of many possible – and existing – images of God. I especially notice this among some atheists, such as Richard Dawkins. It’s unfortunate since it tends to distract from the intended focus of the discussion, and it can also come across as (a) intellectually dishonest, (b) myopic, (c) valuing shock value over accuracy, and (d) lack of interest in sincerely exploring the topic.
For instance, Richard Dawkins often argue against a Christian image of God, and even one particular image of God found among some Christians. (I am not even sure if they would agree with how he represents their views.) Other Christians have other images, as do other religions and spiritual traditions. And some of these are quite compatible with science.
For instance, Daoism and Buddhism, when approached with curiosity and a scientific approach, are very much compatible with science. And if reality – as it is – is called God, then science is one of the ways we can explore God.
This seems very obvious, which is why I usually don’t write about these topics, but I thought I would mention it this time.
I started a more intentional dental care last week, which included using my Sonicare brush again (after some months off), and experimenting with oil swishing (“oil pulling”), in addition to the usual flossing and rinsing with salt water, and also being more intentional about the diet (for good oral health). I found this video and Joey Lott’s book helpful.
After a couple of days, I noticed my gums felt a bit sore, and this changed into stronger pain (tooth ache?) the last few days. I initially thought it was related to using the Sonicare again, or perhaps the oil swishing, and then wondered if it was a regular tooth ache (signalling I need to visit the dentist soon) that just happened to coincide with slightly changing how I take care of my gums and teeth.
In any case, it’s been quite painful and it gave me an opportunity to explore pain.
I reminded myself that pain is essential for our survival. It shows us that something is wrong, and needs to be taken care of. And it’s occasional intensity reminds us of how stubborn and dense we can be.
I spent some time with it. You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. I love you. (This brought up some resistance and fear, which I also welcomed.)
I explored it using the Living Inquiries. Look at the word “pain”, is that word in pain? Look at the images of the pain, are those images in pain. Feel the sensations, are those sensations in pain? This helped me see that I cannot find pain, as it initially appeared. It’s made up for words, images and sensations, and each of these are fine.
And…. I have taken some pain killers (I figured out which one worked the best), got the name of a good (?) holistic dentist in Oslo (which is good to know in any case), figured out that sitting up slightly while sleeping reduced the pain (reduced the blood pressure in the mouth), and I plan to go to the dentist soon if the pain continues. This is a reminder that inquiry and “inner work” goes hand in hand with, and even supports, practical and good common-sense action.
I am in a charming old wood house in a city or town, with a group of other people. We have astronaut suits, and I try one on, leave the house from the upper floor, and walk on the moon for a bit. My suit has a good helmet and jacket, but the pants and boots are almost like regular pants and boots. It still seems to work well.
I don’t have a good sense of what this dream is about. I was concerned about entering space and walking on the moon, but didn’t have any problems at all. Maybe that’s a hint. I wonder if it has to do with meeting what’s here – seeing the images and words, and feeling the sensations – and finding that it’s not nearly as scary as it initially seemed. It’s actually quite comfortable and fun as I get into it, and find trust through experience.
As a facilitator, tricks can sometimes be helpful to help people really see that something is not a threat or is not who they are. But tricks also can become too heady or even have the effect of continuing to try and change experience instead of letting everything be as it is. To see why letting everything be as it is, is important in this work, you have to look at the nature of seeking and suffering. Having spent years now working with people online and now at the center, one fundamental thing that almost every client has in common is the desire to change how they think and feel.
But look at what trying to change entails. It entails a sense of self behind it all that is deciding that what is happening is not right. It entails a kind of violence against what we are feeling in the body. Mostly, when I meet spiritual seekers, what they are trying to do is get rid of something bad in favor of something better. This constant seeking to change experience can go on forever. Many seekers have been at it for 20 to 30 years.
When we guide people in facilitations to be with whatever is, without trying to change or move or get rid of anything, we are showing them how to innately accept and surrender to their experience completely. We are helping them end the game of seeking. We are also putting to rest the deficiency stories that say “there is something wrong with me and my experience.” We are also no longer contributing to their addictions, which are all about changing how one feels constantly. Even with anxiety we are helping them by showing them how to be with what is exactly as it is.
Most of the people that I have worked with around anxiety carry a resistance to the anxiety itself. Whatever we resist, persists. So the anxiety stays around precisely because they are trying to control and change it. They are resisting. Adding in any tricks during inquiry which teach the client to resist, change, be against or get rid of what they are experiencing is helping them continue to suffer. Please be mindful of this when using tricks. Use them sparingly, only when really needed.
Mostly, find in your own experience the sweetness of allowing everything to be and not using inquiry to try and change everything that arises. Notice that in every moment something new is arising. You’d be at it for years. Then, when you see the acceptance happening in your own experience and how deeply that changes the whole game for you, it will be obvious when you are working with clients that anything other than complete allowance is violent and ultimately not helpful to them in the long run.
– Scott Kiloby
It’s very simple, and yet something that can take time to explore and sink into.
We are our field of experience, so any resistance comes from a mistaken identity. It comes from temporarily, and mistakenly, taking ourselves to be one part of this field of experience and then perceiving the rest of the field as “other”. There is identification with a certain identity, and with an I that’s separate from Other.
The resolution, and the “way home”, is to shift into allowing the whole field of experience as it is. That shows us how deeply satisfying it feels to come home in this way, it shows us that nothing terrible happened, and it gives us a glimpse of what we already and really are…. our whole field of experience as it is here and now.
For me, here and now, it is…. a body sitting here by the computer, slight nausea, music, the computer, a table, a bed, a window, apple trees outside the window, cold feet, salt taste in the mouth, a slight headache, and more. That’s all part of the field of experience, when given labels by thought, and it’s all what “I” am now. To take myself as part of this field, and the rest of the field as “other” is an innocent and mistaken identity, and it can be remedied.
It’s not that hard to glimpse what I really am, to revisit it, to gradually become more familiar with it, and for the “center of gravity” to gradually shift more and more into what I already am. There is nothing mysterious about it. It’s very simple. It’s what any baby knows. (Without knowing it.) And it’s what we can rediscover with the added benefit of the experience and maturity of our adult human self.
P.S. From this perspective, all the intricacies of the different spiritual and religious traditions may seem “extra”. Some of it may be helpful stepping stones and pointers. And much of it is about something else, and often about fantasies, entertainment and attempts to escape.
I have found that spending a good bit of time each day investigating the sensations in the body with restful, spacious attention has been really helpful for me with regard to recovering from addictions. For purposes of this blog, I’m calling that “deep body resting” as shorthand.
I would spend at least an hour each day, and sometimes more, quietly and oh-so-gently resting my attention into the denser sensations in the body that seemed to be associated with the reaching for certain substances and activities. During these periods of meditative rest, I would notice the space around each sensation and let the sensation float freely in that space. I came to find that the mind always has an agenda for these sensations. Mostly, it wants to get rid of them. But that is resistance. And whatever I resisted, persisted. So noticing the space around the sensations (mostly with a quiet mind) and letting the sensations float freely took all the resistance out. Simply put, the space around the sensation has no such agenda. It allows and accepts the sensation as it is. This undoes the desire to fix or change the sensation. It takes the self out of the equation. It also undoes the mechanism of repression and avoidance that is such a big part of addiction because during that time of deep body resting, the key was to allow the sensations to do whatever they pleased – get stronger, relax, come back, get strong again, relax again.
Deep body resting was very painful and frustrating at times. These were uncomfortable sensations I spent my whole life trying to avoid. It was also scary at times because as I would wake up the next day, the movement outward towards things would diminish (sometimes in subtle ways and sometimes in palpable degrees) and there was a sense of “Oh no, it’s all being taken away from me.” But as that fear was felt, like any other sensation, those words just felt empty. At first, I thought of deep body resting as like a chore, something I didn’t want to do. Watching TV seemed much more interesting. But after a while, I began to cherish those periods when I could rest without distractions like TV or anything else and just explore these sensations in the most loving, gentle and accepting way. I fell in love, if you will, with this kind of compassionate investigation of the vast universe of the body.
It took a while, many months in fact, but eventually those dense, repressed energies began to dissolve and never appear again in the same way. As sensations in various parts of my body dissolved, the addictions that were associated with them dissolved too. All those periods of gentle resting and investigation were more than worth it. They were indispensable on my path.
– from Deep Body Resting by Scott Kiloby
There has been an odd myth in modern western culture that said that we cannot take care of certain aspects of our own health through our lifestyle.
Fortunately, that’s changing, and it has been for a while.
We know that by acting healthy, we can maintain good health into old age. (Staying physically and mentally active, and perhaps even doing forms of yoga, meditation and inquiry.)
We know that by exercising our eyes, we can maintain good eye health or sometimes even reverse eye problems. (I used glasses from my teens. Started eye exercises in my mid-twenties. After a few weeks went back to the eye doctor who said my vision was good and I was in no need to glasses. And when I asked, she said that poor vision can’t be reversed….! My vision went from mildly near sighted – 0.75 to normal.) See f.ex. Natural Vision Improvement by Janet Goodrich.
We know that the mind can be trained. We can train a more stable attention. We can find kindness and love towards ourselves and others. We can even recognize our “true nature” (the layers of it). And all of this can be invited in and made into new habits. See f.ex. shamata (stable attention), ho’oponopono, loving kindness/metta, tonglen, holding satsang with parts of ourselves (kindness, love), and forms of insight meditation and inquiry (recognizing the dynamics of the mind and our human nature, and our true nature).
We know that by making a few relatively simple changes, we can maintain health free from (most or all) infections diseases, and many other diseases. See f.ex. K.P. Khalsa (my herbalist).
We know that by making similar simple changes, we can prevent and even reverse tooth and gum problems. See f.ex. How I healed my Teeth Eating Sugar by Joey Lott. (I am just starting this now.)
We know that tension and trauma can be released in a simple and natural way. (Neurogenic tremors, Tension & Trauma Release Exercises.)
There is a lot more here, and it keeps being further explored, adapted to our current modern culture, and widely available. Some of it – such as the effects of some types of meditation – is gaining increasing attention through research.
Thought will never be happy. By nature thought is restless, ever-changing, always seeking something it cannot quite reach. Even when it resolves a problem, the next problem soon pops up. You fix one thing in your life, and the next thing breaks.
Thought is always trying to complete the story of ‘me’, fix it, wrap it up neatly, bring it to a conclusion, take the Me Movie to some kind of resolution, some perfect ‘final scene’, but the story is endless and has no conclusion, since all form is impermanent and subject to change, and the search just keeps going and going…
Thought will never find the permanence it craves. Thought will never be happy, even when it momentarily concludes that “I am happy”. That is its nature.
And so, perhaps, at some point, there is a kind of disillusionment with thought altogether, a loss of faith in it, a distrust of its supremacy. Attention turns away from thought, away from that which is relentless and restless and always changing, and towards YOU.
There is something here, prior to thought, that is ever-present, and always and already at rest, and silently watching and holding thought as it struggles for permanence and happiness. That which sees thought is not itself made of thought.
You are the loving space in which thought arises. You are aware of thought, so you are not made of thought, or bound to it. You tenderly hold thought as it wears itself out looking for home. You are thought’s embrace, not its enemy. You are its mother, not its son.
Thought will never be happy, but what can be remembered is this effort-free happiness – otherwise known as You – in which thought is allowed to come and go, this natural embrace of all waves in life’s vast ocean. Who you are, beyond even concepts of happiness and unhappiness, is unlimited and ever-present, and even thought’s exhausting search for something it cannot name is deeply allowed to come and go in your limitlessness.
You have always been at rest, friend. Your true nature IS rest. And the fact that thought will never be happy is your perfect disillusionment… and your perfect liberation.
– Jeff Foster
People sometimes ask if the point of the Living Inquiries is to realize near the end of the inquiry that there is no inherent self. Well…that is one thing that can happen. But you might also find a kind of deep self-love when you stop using inquiry to change your experience. This paradox of no inherent self to be found and also a delicious loving of ourselves as we are in the moment never needs to be reconciled intellectually. It is just grokked in experience when we stop using inquiry to change ourselves and our experience and merely allow it all, asking simple questions along the way in a non-violent, loving, accepting way.
– Scott Kiloby
Self-love is very simple, and yet not always easy (to notice). It’s a love for what’s here, as it is. A simple, ordinary, quiet love for sensations, sounds, smell, taste, words, images that are here now, as they are.
Anger, fear, sadness, heaviness, contraction, pressure.
What makes these sensations “negative”? What’s negative about them?
– Judy Cohen on Facebook
That’s what I have wondered since I first heard someone using those words.
They clearly have a survival function. They are selected for because they help us survive.
They have a function in everyday life. They help us navigate and communicate.
And “negative” is a label, taught to us from culture. Someone first came up with that label, and the attitude behind it, and – somehow – this “meme” caught on and was transmitted between people and generations in our particular culture.
Of course, I too somehow respond to these thinking they shouldn’t be here, or that something is wrong if they visit. That’s very normal having been brought up in a culture with these views and responses. I wanted to be a good boy, so I did as my parents and others did. I learned to see them in this way. And I can explore that – and find a different relationship with all of it – through inquiry. Either intentional and explicit inquiry, such as The Work or the Living Inquiries. Or inquiry that’s just an ordinary curiosity as part of everyday life, or kindness practices (towards these parts of me, and the parts of me responding to them as “bad”) such as ho’oponopono, loving kindness, holding satsang with what’s here, tonglen, the heart prayer, and more.
“We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers who came here immediately after the genocide and we had to ask some of them to leave.
They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun where you begin to feel better. There was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again. There was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy. There was no acknowledgement of the depression as something invasive and external that could actually be cast out again.
Instead they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave.”
~A Rwandan talking to a western writer, Andrew Solomon, about his experience with western mental health and depression.
From The Moth podcast, Notes on an Exorcism.
Much is being said these days about spiritual awakening, and the causeless joy, clarity, and peace that are inevitable milestones of the inner journey. Not all that much is mentioned, however, about the disappointment of awakening, or of the ways it can break our hearts, cracking us open to the reality of the crucifixion, the resurrection, *and* the transfiguration we are likely to encounter along the way. In the full embrace of life—right inside the yucky, messy, shadowy nether regions of the heart—we are invited to meet the wholeness of what we are, which includes the dark *and* the light, the movement of separation *and* union, and the entirety of what it means to be an embodied human being.
As Carl Jung so poignantly reminds us, we do not become enlightened by “imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” He went on to say that the integral journey of the dark *and* the light is one that is often “disagreeable” and thus would never be popular. I believe Jung is offering very important guidance for us and the voyage of the heart in contemporary times.
The ancient path of love may never conform to our hopes, fears, dreams, and fantasies, for it is emerging in the here and now as an emissary of the unknown itself. Let us rest in the aching truth that one of the primary roles of the beloved is to seed deflation in the field of separation. Yes, awakening may always be a disappointment, from the perspective of egoic organization. In this sense, the journey is eternally hopeless, but it is in the creation of a home for our hopelessness—and allowing it to be illuminated within us—that we are finally able to step into a world beyond our wildest imagination.
As we journey together as fellow travelers, let us find a way to embrace both the joy *and* the heartbreak of spiritual awakening, and bear witness to the wisdom shining out of our immediate experience, whether it appears as sadness, bliss, despair, or great joy. It is true that grace will appear in both sweet *and* fierce forms, but regardless of its particular manifestation, it is still grace, sent from beyond to open us to the radiant fullness of being.
– Matt Licata, from the Preface to the forthcoming, “It’s Okay to Be Broken: Finding Rest from the Weary Journey”
Whenever I feel anything uncomfortable or comfortable, the only sane thing, at this point, is to be with it completely. Everything else seems to fuel chasing of states, substances, activities.
– Scott Kiloby on Facebook
A new study suggests that we were onto something. Natasha Odou and Jay Brinker at the Australian National University found that writing about a negative experience from a self-compassionate stance significantly improved mood by allowing people to process (rather than avoid) negative emotions. [....]
These findings contribute to the growing realization that self-compassion practices generate positive outcomes—more well-being in general, more life satisfaction, personal initiative and social connectedness—and protect us from negative experiences of rumination, self-criticism, shame, anxiety, and depression.
– from How Self-Compassion Beats Rumination, Greater Good Science Center
It’s good to see this entering mainstream science.
It’s what many ordinary people have observed over the millennia: the medicine we so often seek is our own kindness and love.
How do I explain the Living Inquiries? Here is a way that focuses on examples:
This work isn’t about reducing our experience to ‘just’ words, images or sensations. It isn’t reductionist or minimizing, and it’s certainly not about getting rid of anything. Rather, it’s about looking at what we’ve taken to be the case, and discovering all the previously unconscious associations and meaning that we’ve ascribed to words, images and sensations. In this process, we also get to really look at the words and images that we’ve been avoiding, and we get to fully meet the feelings that we’ve not yet truly felt. Finding comes before unfinding. It’s about bringing the unseen and unfelt into the light of awareness.
As we continue looking, we seem to penetrate more deeply into the patterns and beliefs of the personality. This can be very uncomfortable territory; we’ve spent a lifetime avoiding the pain that lies at the heart of these patterns and beliefs. However, if we can allow ourselves to really let our body answer the questions, we get to finally feel the pain and all that comes with it. And that is truly liberating.
– from the Living Inquiry website