To continue the guests analogy, and combine it with my experiences with the group yesterday…
We can see experiences as guests, coming and going on their own, living their own life.
And we can explore how we relate to these guests.
The ultimate hospitality is that of Ground, which already and always allows any experience. It is the nature of awareness to allow any content, and it already and always does that. There is no way for it to do anything else. Awareness inherently allows any guests, and their coming and going on their own time.
But when this host takes itself to be a guest, it forgets about itself as the ultimate host. There is now a sense of a separate I, an I with an Other, and there is inevitably a struggle with some or all of the guests, in different ways and with different intensities. We try to invite some and discourage others. When they arrive, we try to encourage some to stay and others to leave.
And we can also try to manipulate guests in different ways.
We can see them as stepping stones to something else, a tool for achieving a particular goal, something to transform into something else, something to transcend, something to dress up to make appear as different than what it is. In short, we don’t appreciate them for what they are, as they are. We want them to be different, or to be a tool for us to achieve something.
In our external life, manipulating guests this way seems cynical and even neurotic. And it is no less cynical and neurotic when we relate to our experiences this way.
It is all being caught up in manipulating what is, being caught up in the apparent solidity of I and Other, of seeing as solid the wanting of things to be different.
A simple example is suffering (life + a belief that it shouldn’t be that way). We can try to discourage it from entering. When it is there, we try to ignore it or make it go away. Or, if we see ourselves as a little more sophisticated (although we are not really), we can try to manipulate it in different ways. We can use it to develop compassion, to find peace with it, to allow beliefs and identities to fall away, to deepen into our humanity. We may not (overtly) try to make it go away, but we may also not be quite happy with it as it is. There is still a lack of appreciation for it as it is, for its own sake.
That appreciation for it as it is, for its own sake, comes when Ground notices itself as Ground. There is a recognition that this appreciation for any guest, for any content of experience independent of its particulars, is already and always there. It is only clouded up by the surface drama sometimes, created by a mistaken identification and a sense of I and Other.
In terms of inviting Ground to notice itself, there is not much chance for it as long as there is a blind holding onto and pushing away of guests. The manipulation, in some forms, gives it a little more of an invitation.
But the real invitation is to allow any invitation to go. To find peace with what is, as it is, and even appreciation for it, as it is, for its own sake. Not for what it may lead to, what it may bring, what it may achieve, but for its own sake, for what it is.
The real invitation is an absence of invitation. It is there when there is no longer any desire for it, any wanting of it, any perceived need for it.
The sequence can look like this: the host taking itself as a guest, creating a sense of I and Other > a blind holding onto and pushing away of guests (and beliefs supporting that) > a manipulation of guests to achieve something else > more of an allowing of guests as they are > more of an appreciation for the guests, as their are, for their own sake > the absence of even inviting Ground to notice itself.
For a while there, during the middle phases, there may be the strategy of finding peace with & appreciation for the guests to allow Ground to notice itself, but then, even that goes. Not because it should, just because it eventually does. The manipulation is seen too clearly to be held onto anymore, at least blindly.