I am reminded of how The Work and its effects appears differently depending on where we are coming from, and specifically what appears as real to us.
If we take the conventional world as basically real and true, accepting that we are separate individuals going about our business much as everyone agrees on, then The Work helps us find release from attachment to one particular perspective, and a fluidity among perspectives. We can see our situation from many different angles, and find the limited validity in each one. This in itself is a tremendous relief, and releases a great deal of energy and attention previously wrapped up in a far more narrow perspective and its struggle with life. We find a new clarity, freedom and engagement in our life.
This requires a willingness to let go of the idea that one perspective is right and the other ones wrong. But even if we still hold onto this to some degree, there can be a relief here. At least, we can question the things our worldview allows us to question, and that in itself is helpful to us. To take a crude example, I may believe that the Bible is the word of God and should be taken at face value as much as possible. That is fine, and I can still question other things, such as the idea that life should be fair and so on.
If there has been glimpses beyond taking any stories as real and substantial, The Work takes on yet another flavor. I may intuit or have glimpsed myself as awakeness and all its content as this awakeness, in whatever way I interpret or talk about that: all is Buddha Mind, Big Mind noticed itself as Big Mind, there is nothing but God and the Divine Mind, and so on. Here, I know to a certain extent, from experience, that the way things appear to us is just that, an appearance. It is all the play of God, and it is all inherently OK as it is. Any idea of something being not right comes from seeing something as not God. Within this context, The Work becomes a way of exploring the mechanisms of samsara, the ways attachment to thought filters what happens to make something look solid and not-God.
Finally, if awakeness has noticed everything as itself, inherently free from the overlay of thought including the sense of I and Other, center and periphery, and so on, this human self can still do The Work. It is still a way to explore the mechanisms of samsara in fine detail, and now to understand and possibly help others better. Also, as Byron Katie says, we are only awakened to a thought or not, and any story of that continuing into the future is just a story.
If we want to put this into some sort of developmental model, the whole process may go from a more fundamentalist context, to modern, to post-modern, to mystical glimpses and intuitions, to oneness, to nondual. But that is just another story, and it is rarely as clean-cut as that. Life is already free from those ideas.
The beauty of The Work is that it works with us exactly where we are. I have a belief, it creates friction with my story of what is, I experience stress, and I can inquire into it. It is a process that guides – and eventually undoes – itself, unfolding at its own pace and one step at a time.Â It works with us wherever we are.