Mutuality of practices

 

It is interesting to notice some of the many ways different practices support each other. Here are a small taste, as a skeleton list. As usual, these are all questions, not to be taken very seriously.

Brief outline

  • Mutuality of who and what I am
  • Mutuality of soul, and who & what we are
  • Mutuality within who I am
    • Stability practice
    • Three centers
    • Body
    • Self and Other power
    • Study and reflection
    • Relationships, life in the world

Mutuality of who and what I am

  • Exploring who I am includes embracing more of the evolving wholeness of who I am, this human self, which in turn reduces a sense of drama and struggle. And this makes it easier for what I am to notice itself. When there is drama and struggle, identification is firmly within content of experience, and when there is less drama and struggle, it is easier for identification to shift out of content entirely, and for what we are to notice itself. (There are exceptions to this as anything else. Sometimes, what we are notices itself when who we are is most messed up and has painted itself into a corner.)
  • When what we are notices itself, even as a glimpse, there is a more full allowing of content of experience, including of who we are. This makes it easier for our human self to heal, mature, develop, especially if that intention and interest is there.

Mutuality of soul, and who & what we are

  • Soul here refers to that alive presence which is timeless yet within time, impersonal yet personal and can show up as infinite love/wisdom, personal/impersonal, luminosity, fertile darkness, luminous blackness, quiet bliss, and so on.
  • Who: Working on the healing, maturing and development of who we are invites in a noticing of the soul level, the alive presence in its many forms.
  • Soul: The alive presence works on our human self, inviting it to heal, mature and develop. And it also provides a stepping stone into noticing what we are, through releasing identification out of who we are.
  • What: What we are noticing itself helps release identification out of the soul level, seeing it is just another content of experience. (It is often easy to identify with the soul level, since it is quite pleasant. But as any content of experience, it comes and goes, so if there is identification and it goes, which it will, there is a sense of loss, and possibly a dark night.)

Mutuality within who I am

  • Stability practice, a stable attention.
    • Supports any practice. Helps attention stay with whatever is the focus (heart practice, inquiry, exercise, relationships), and creates a calm mind for shikantaza/choiceless awareness.
    • Supports any activity in daily life, such as work, washing dishes, relationships, and so on.
    • Additional note: Stable attention tends to invite in calm mind (less mental activity) and a sense of clarity, and although these are secondary effects and not the “goal” of stability practice, these too are also helpful for different practices and activities in daily life.
    • Stability practice supported by the three centers:
      • Head: Noticing what we are, insight in what we are and the dynamics of who we are, less need to defend a particular story or identity, and so on, all invites in a more stable attention. There is less drama and fewer beliefs for attention to get absorbed into.
      • Heart: With a receptive heart, there is less sense of I and Other and less drama, which invites in a more stable attention.
      • Belly: Finding a sense of nurturing fullness invites in a more stable attention. There is less sense of lack, of missing something, of having to find something to fill a hole.
    • Stability practice supported by the body & relationships and life in the world:
      • A healthy body makes it easier to have a stable attention. (Although body symptoms, for instance during illness, can be great objects for a stable attention.)
      • Working on and resolving our relationships in the world gives less sense of drama and dissatisfaction, which in turn makes it easier to have a stable attention.
  • Three centers
    • Head
      • Practices that invites in a taste of Big Mind, a fluid view, receptivity of mind, noticing the limited truth and practical value of stories and their reversals, insights into the dynamics of content of experience and what we really are.
      • Some examples of practices: Headless experiments, Big Mind process, The Work, exploring sense fields, shikantaza/choiceless awareness.
      • Some effects: Fluidity of view. Release of identification out of content of awareness. Owning subpersonalities. (Big Mind process, The Work.) Free to use any story as a guide when appropriate. Noticing what we are.
      • Effects on other centers:
        • Less need to protect or defend a story or identity, recognition of oneself in others, which invites the heart to open.
        • Less threatened by stories, less need to defend any story or identity, which invites in a sense of trust and less reactivity. (Belly center.)
      • Effects on who we are, in terms of maturing, development, life in the world.
        • Invites cognitive development, a release of identification from particular views, and finding more refined/mature/practical/differentiated ways of holding a widening set of views.
        • Invites in a way of life where stories as seen as tools of practical value only. Any story is fair game, depending on its practical effects. (Guided by experience, skills and the heart.)
      • General effects in terms of who and what we are:
        • Who: A wider embrace of the evolving fullness of who we are, as a human self. A release of identification with particular views and identities, and an active owning of disowned parts, allows for this wider embrace.
        • What: A release of identification out of content of awareness makes it easier for what we are – that which all content of awareness happens to, within and as – to notice itself.
    • Heart
      • Practices that invite in a taste of Big Heart, receptivity of heart, empathy, widening sense of us.
      • Examples of practices: Big Mind process. Tong len. Prayer. Christ meditation. Heart prayer.
      • Effects on other centers:
        • Head: An open and receptive heart invites in receptivity of view. It is easier to find ourselves in the other, and find the grain of truth in their view. It is easier to find the grain of truth in any view. It invites in a release of identification from content of awareness.
        • Belly: An open heart invites in a sense of nurturing fullness, which reduces reactivity.
      • Effects on who we are, in terms of maturing, development, life in the world.
        • Widening circles of care, concern and compassion.
        • Guided by heart in combination with whatever experience, skills and insights are available to us.
      • General effects in terms of who and what we are:
        • Who: Embrace of more of the evolving fullness of who we are, in a heartfelt and wholehearted way. A softening.
        • What: Release of identification out of content of experience, so easier to notice what we are. (A closed heart gives a sense of split and comes from a belief, both of which comes from and reinforces an identification with content of awareness.)
    • Belly
      • Practices: Any belly/hara/body-oriented or -inclusive practice.
      • Sense of nurturing fullness, trust, less emotional reactivity.
      • Effects on other centers:
        • Head: A sense of nurturing fullness and trust invites in a receptive mind, a freedom in exploring beliefs and who and what we are.
        • Heart: A sense of nurturing fullness and trust invites in a receptive heart.
      • Effects on who we are, in terms of maturing, development, life in the world.
        • Body intelligence. Including the body in whatever we are doing.
      • General effects in terms of who and what we are:
        • Who: Sense of nurturing fullness and trust, less emotional reactivity.
        • What: The sense of nurturing and trust allows an easier release of identification out of content of awareness, which makes it easier for what we are to notice itself.
  • Body
    • Any body oriented practices – aerobic and strength exercises, nurturing food, breath, energy work, taking care of health – supports any practice and any activity in the world. (Although physical illness, when it is there, can be a great support and invitation to practice: A stable attention to body symptoms. Tong len. Empathy for others in similar situations. Inquiry into beliefs around health and illness. Noticing the gestalts – pain, discomfort, dizziness, etc. – and examine what they are made up of. Noticing the gestalts, and bring attention to the sensation component of them.)
  • Self and other power
    • Other power, when someone else invites in a shift in us, gives us a taste of how it can be, it opens up the terrain for us, so we can explore it for ourselves, get more familiar with it on our own. (Shaktipat is a great example of this, where an energy transfer can temporarily or more stably shift us into soul level or Big Mind.)
    • Self power, when something comes about (apparently) through our own work, goes along with other power. It is how we make it our own, through actively exploring the terrain. And it also how we prepare the ground for other power to take us a little further.
  • Study and reflection
    • Study and reflection on: Maps, guidelines, pointers for practice and life in the world.
    • Gives us pointers and direction for practice (where we are, where we are going, helpful guidelines for where we are). And helps us orient, navigate and live in the world more effectively.
    • And practice and life in the world in turn helps us refine our maps and guidelines, and also see that they are just stories of practical and temporary value only.
  • Relationships to ourselves and the wider world
    • Examples: Our relationships to our human self, individuals and groups (partner, family, friends, co-workers, neighbors), paid and volunteer work, ethics, study, change work (social/ecological).
    • Effects: Actively working on all of these relationships gives us…
      • More peace of mind, less distractions and stress from unresolved situations, which in turn helps us focus on practice and how we want to live our life in the world.
      • Feedback, get to see our hangups, where we are stuck, where we lack skills and insights.
      • A sense of contributing, living a life (hopefully) good for the larger social/ecological whole.
      • A widening sense of (who we take as) us, a widening of our circle of care, compassion and concern.

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