Absolute and relative of any story

 

This is getting choppy, but that’s ok.

Here is yet another, slightly wider, framework for many of the popular evolutionary views today (and any other story).

In an absolute sense, it is all just stories. Form itself is a thin surface on the vastness of awake emptiness, and stories just a way of interpreting the world of form.

In a relative sense, each story has a grain of truth to them, and all their reversals do as well (together revealing the inherent neutrality of the situation).

If we take a story as an absolute truth, we set ourselves up for misery. If we take it as only a relative truth, of temporary, limited and purely utilitarian value, it can be very useful in our human life. But that is about it.

The value of evolutionary stories, whether from conventional science or from integral frameworks or new age, is that it sets our life – and our daily experiences – in a wider context within form. Personally, I find that the insights from biological evolution can be very helpful as a context for much in my daily life… it sets my emotions, reactions, impulses and much more into a far wider context. The integral evolutionary frameworks can be helpful in understanding where people are at, and where we personally came from and may be going. The Universe Story can give people a real sense of belonging to the larger whole, and of meaning.

And even the more new agey views, which rings of wishful thinking and triggered the initial post on this topic, may have value I suppose. It may give people temporary comfort (although tinged with stress). It may have some value as a self-fulfilling prophesy (probably in a very limited way). It may have entertainment value. There may be a grain of truth in it, and encourage some people to explore it in a more grounded and serious way. The inherent stress in believing it may help people question beliefs in general. And I am sure there are more gifts in it as well.

What it comes down to: seeing what is already more true

 

So when we start letting go of some of the identities that I described in previous posts, what is left? What, if anything, is revealed?

For me, it has to with simply seeing what is already more true for me, in immediate experience, without knowing in advance what I will find or am looking for, and doing it for its own sake.

If I think I know what I’ll find, I am creating another box for myself. I have an agenda. Receptivity to what is really there goes out the window.

If I do it for some other motive, to find release, to get rid of discomfort, to get somewhere, then I am creating yet another box. Again, there is an agenda there. And again, receptivity – or even interest – in what is really there, goes out.

Thinking I know what to find, and doing it for a particular result, is just another way for me to limit myself, to box myself, life, existence, and even God, into a far smaller space than where it already is. It may look safe for a while, but is in the long run nothing but a dead end.

I think I’ll get something or somewhere by doing it, but all I am doing is boxing myself in. Staying put.

What it all comes back to, and down to, is doing it for its own sake. I engage in inquiry, for the sake of doing inquiry. I engage in headlessness, for the sake of headlessness. I am with experiences, for the sake of being with experiences.

And seeing all the parts of me that is not doing it just for its own sake, is part of it as well. Allowing even that. Being with even that. Seeing even that, as what is, right here and now. For its own sake.

A tough one II

 

In a previous post, I wrote about what we all probably go through in periods: a sense that all our work has had no effect. Old patterns come up, as before, as if nothing had happened. And this is another invitation to see our beliefs and identities… My work should pay off. My life should be getting easier. I should see progress. I should get somewhere. It is an invitation to see all of these, how one-sided, limited and – yes, even limiting they are, and loosen the grip on these beliefs. These too are boxes i try to put life and myself inside of, and life is far more than what can go inside of any box.

Not only do the old patterns come up as before, but my tools don’t work anymore either

Another part of this, which I forgot in the initial post, is that my tools don’t seem to work anymore. For instance, last night as I was falling asleep, there was a lot coming through, and a slight sense of uneasiness about it. I thought, well – I know how to deal with these things, and tried to be with it, allow it all including resistance, finding myself as headless, doing a journey (ala active imagination and process work) and other things. But nothing worked. Nothing had any effect. Tools that had been trusted companions for so long were useless. And here too, there is an invitation to recognize beliefs and identities… I know how to work with these things. I have skills that allows me do deal with what comes up. I know some of the secrets of the mind. I am familiar enough with the terrain so I can navigate it with more ease.

Boxes and what is outside

All of these are narrow beliefs and identities. Boxes limiting, in my own view, what life, and my life, is and can be. They create a boundary, allowing some things inside and putting other things outside, and then life brings up what is outside and it keeps knocking on our door. Reminders of the boundary, that it is false, and an invitation to see this and find ourselves as big enough to allow what is outside as well. It is an invitation for a wider embrace, partly in our conscious view, but far more importantly in the depth of our life, and in how we live our daily life.

Pure simplicity

Eventually, what is revealed is very simple… it is just what already and always is… life as it is. Revealed as inherently neutral, as simply the dance of life, of existence, of God, Brahman, Tao.

Absent of beliefs, of taking relative truths as absolute, and absent of identification with identities, it is revealed in its utter simplicity, simpler than what words have any chance of describing.

Boxing in

 

It has been very alive for me how I box myself and life in through beliefs and identities. I create a dividing line through life, and saying that this is true and ok and that is not (beliefs) and I am this and not that (identities.)

Since life is bigger than any box I try to put it and myself inside of, it will come knocking on the door. It wants to be let in, and ultimately, it invites me to allow boxes in general go… or at least the taking of them as true, and the taking of them as defining who I am.

When life comes knocking, when it shows me that my belief is flawed and my identity too narrow, and I resist and try to hold onto my beliefs and identities, there is stress.

The parallel is very close to having someone knocking at the door of my house that I don’t want to let in. I try to ignore it, I become agitated, tense, frustrated, rigid, angry, sad, depressed… there may even be a sense of being driven, hunted, haunted. At times, there may be a relief. Whomever is trying to get it is not there anymore, or at least has quieted down. But after a while, it comes back. The knocking is there again. And my stress is there again.

The only solution is to take a closer look at what is happening. Is this boundary, this idea that I take as real, really an accurate reflection of life, and of what may already be more true for me? And is this boundary, this identity I take as defining who I am, an accurate reflection of who and what I am, in my own immediate experience? Is there something that is already more true for me, if I am receptive to it and examine it closer? And is what I find closer to what life is trying to tell me about itself and my life?

A tough one: an identity of wanting to get somewhere

 

As the process of exploring who and what we are moves along, we get to more and more core identities… We come face to face with them, how they are all too narrow, their (mostly unpleasant) effects on our life and the lives of those around us, and the necessity of surrendering them.

Last weekend was one of those times when core identities came to the surface. I found myself in the midst of a judgment and irritability attack, where everything was a trigger for both to come up. Not only was I helpless in doing anything about it, it also seemed that all my work in the past was for nothing… that its effect was zero. I was back in the grips of old patterns just as before, maybe even worse than before. (This weekend, my partner went into something very similar.)

And this too can be seen as a deepening of the process.

It is a wearing off of core identities and beliefs… of an identity of wanting to get somewhere… wanting my practice to pay off… wanting my life to be good… wanting a sense of ease…

All of these identities and beliefs came up against reality, and lost, as beliefs always do. Reality always wins, hands down. Even if we try to hold onto identities, the inevitable friction between identity and reality makes them erode… it may be a painful process, and it may take a while, but they do erode… And we can make it a little easier by seeing what is going on, bringing the identities into awareness, seeing how they are too limiting, and consciously allowing them the freedom to fall away.

Something is wrong

 

Any belief gives the sense that something is wrong.

We believe life should be a certain way, and it either is but can change, or it is not. In either case, there is a background sense of something being wrong, off, precarious.

And something is wrong, in a sense. But it is not what the content of our beliefs tells us. It is the belief itself… or rather, it is the natural consequence of believing in any thought that creates the sense of something being wrong. It creates a box for our life and life in general, and life doesn’t fit inside any box. It insists of also being on the outside of it, which creates stress and a sense that something is wrong.

In addition to this, there seems to be an inherent knowing, or intuition, that who (the fullness of us as individuals) and what (awake emptiness) we are cannot be limited by any belief or identity. Any identity, when believed in, is a mistaken identity. So when there is a belief, the discrepancy between what is already more true for us in immediate awareness (that we cannot be limited by any identities or beliefs) and what we try to believe (creating a box for ourselves) gives us a sense that something is wrong.

So beliefs in themselves create a sense of something is wrong, and the discrepancy between intuition and belief also gives a sense of something being wrong.

Effects of beliefs and their shadow

 

From a previous post…

As soon as their is a belief in an idea… a thought, image, identity, perspective, view, framework… there is automatically a shadow. I want this to be true, not that. I want to be identified with this, not that.

My mind closes down, not interested in, or willing or able to, see the grain of truth in the other perspectives, or the limits to the truth and validity of my own. And my heart closes down, seeing them as Other, not able to recognize myself in them, not able to find our shared humanity, not seeing how we are in the same boat.

More specifically…

  • The mind closes (as above) and may appear irrational to detached observers
  • The heart closes (as above)
  • The emotions are reactive, overly sensitive, on guard, and easily in turmoil
  • The body is tense, rigid, armor, breath is often shallow
  • Behavior is more immature, reactive, irrational
  • Psychologically, there is a sense of separation, alienation, an identity to defend, precariousness, denial.

All of this becomes very clear when I explore my beliefs through The Work. And although each inquiry is new, fresh and surprising, there are also certain general patterns that emerge over time, outlined above.

Views and their reversals and shadows

 

I realize this could have been more clear in some of the previous posts…

Views all have their reversals, and they all have limited validity and a grain of truth in them. They are all relative truths.

When a view is believed in, taken as an absolute truth, that is when it creates shadows. I am this, not that. This is true, not that. I am right, you are not.

And a view is any abstraction. Any thought, image, identity, ideology, framework, map. Anything that helps us navigate in the world. Anything that is really a question, but can be taken as a statement. Anything that, when believed in, we use to box ourselves and Existence in with, saying that it is this way, and not that. Anything that, when believed in, makes it appear that we know how things not only are, but how they should be.

Seen as just innocent questions and relative truths, they are immensely useful in helping us orient and navigate in the world. Taken as statements and absolutes, we try to box the world in, and the world comes knocking on the door wanting to be let in. Which can be quite stressful if we don’t allow it to. It is a big world, and our box is small.

Three relationships with beliefs

 

I see how I cycle among three relationships with beliefs.

One is happily oblivious, until the world comes up against my beliefs and there is stress (nigredo in alchemy.)

The other is noticing that there is a belief there, and the stress it causes, but not being willing or apparently able to do anything about it. Maybe I am too much in the grips of it. Or it doesn’t seem to be the right circumstances. Or I can’t identity the belief. Or I investigate it but am still not quite ready to allow it to go. (Still nigredo.)

And the third is exploring it from the emptiness and form sides. From emptiness, I can find myself as awake emptiness (headless, Big Mind) and be OK with it, even embrace it as it is. From the form side, I can explore the belief in different ways, such as The Work… Do I know it is true? What happens when I hold onto the belief, and the world comes up against it? Who or What would I be without it, in the same situation? What are the grains of truth in the many reversals of the initial belief? (Albedo in alchemy, the work, the differentiation, sorting out, clarifying.)

Views and their shadows

 

As soon as their is a belief in an idea… a thought, image, identity, perspective, view, framework… there is automatically a shadow. I want this to be true, not that. I want to be identified with this, not that.

My mind closes down, not interested in, or willing or able to, see the grain of truth in the other perspectives, or the limits to the truth and validity of my own. And my heart closes down, seeing them as Other, not able to recognize myself in them, not able to find our shared humanity, not seeing how we are in the same boat.

As ugly as it can get, there is also a beauty in it.

Existence is inherently neutral. Awake emptiness and form, allowing any and all perspectives, views, thoughts, ideas, identities, frameworks, theories, and yet not being touched by any of them. They all have a grain of truth to them, yet they are all incomplete, all missing out of something, all of only temporary, limited and purely functional value.

So when we take any of these relative truths as an absolute, we are at odds with what is. We are automatically up against the world, as it is, and this brings stress, dissatisfaction, suffering, a sense of something being off (we often think it is the world!), of something being incomplete.

And it is true. When we take a limited perspective as all there is, something is off, and something is incomplete. We are right in being dissatisfied.

The stress, dissatisfaction, suffering and everything else is not only a reminder that something is off, but an invitation to correct ourselves. To investigate. To see that what we took as an absolute truth is only a relative one, and that all of its reversals have a grain of truth in them as well.

And it runs through our lives all different directions and levels, from our conscious and apparently chosen views such as grand philosophical frameworks and religion, to our conscious identities, to the often more invisible worldviews of our culture, to views we wouldn’t be caught dead having but still do somewhere in a corner of who we are.

Derrida and others may see this in the grand scheme of things, in terms of philosophical and political and religious ideas. But do they see it in all the details of their daily life? Do they see it when their kids make a mess and don’t clean up after themselves. When their partner cheat on them. When someone… a friend, their kids, their parents, their academical opponent… says they are wrong, can they join with the person saying it and find it in themselves?

For many of us, it is easy when it comes to the big ideas such as religions, spiritual approaches and political ideologies. I can see how they are all relative truths. But it is far more difficult in my daily life. It gets far more gnarly and unpleasant when someone rubs up against deeply seated beliefs in me, especially those I didn’t even know I had, or don’t want to admit to being there.

Beliefs anchored in sensations

 

Yesterday morning, I woke up and saw how a range of beliefs are anchored in specific sensations.

I have seen for a while how the sense of a separate self, or rather the belief in a separate self, is anchored in particular sensations in the head area (lower center of the head.)

And it is also becoming clearer to me how any belief in similarly anchored in particular sensations.

The most noticeable example for me are the many beliefs that strongly says that an immediate external situation should be different, which – when triggered – are anchored on tension in my calves.

The belief arises, are placed on particular sensations in a particular location of space, that is then used as a base for a sense of a separate self, and the trigger – arising in another location of space – is seen as Other.

It even seems that if the usual sensations are not already present, they are made present through contractions, so there usual place of anchoring the particular beliefs becomes available.

Releasing the charge

It seems almost comical, and that is one of the reason there is a release from this whole process when this is noticed. The process may still occur – with ideas arising, a physical tension, and a placing of the ideas on the location of the sensation of this tension – but there is a release of identification with it.

With the release of identification, it is all revealed as just arising in space, and the sense of I – placed on particular sensations, and Other – placed in another location in space, is also released.

This takes the charge out of what is happening, independent of the strength of the process. And it also takes the charge out of the process itself, weakens it in the moment and weakening the habitual pattern over time.

Green and beliefs

 

I ran into a “green” friend of mine on the bus today, and was reminded of how the different value stages – or turns of the spiral of development – can, in a very simplistic way, be seen as a collection of beliefs.

At the green level, there is a belief in values such as diversity, pluralism and care for all life, and these are included at the wider turns of the spiral. Other beliefs, such as egalitarianism, may be modified at later turns of the spiral.

My friend is very concerned about the welfare of ordinary people (and animals and ecosystems), which is beautiful. But there is also a belief in “the system” and “government” as inherently opposed to the welfare of ordinary people, at least whenever they can get away with it. And this belief clearly colors her interpretation of society and even minor (and innocent) situations, such as a bus driver accidentally driving off with a father on the bus and his kids on the sidewalk. For her, it is a confirmation that “the system” does not care about the welfare of other people. Without that belief, it is just an innocent and unfortunate accident, and we can do whatever is needed to reduce the possibility of it happening in the future without vilifying anyone.

I guess this mix of beliefs determine whether an expression of a particular level is considered “healthy” or not.

If there is some space and flexibility around it, and the beliefs are held lightly, then it is more likely to appear as healthy. If certain beliefs are rigid and tightly held onto, and in particular if they vilify certain people and blind us to other interpretations, the expression is maybe less healthy.

As we become aware of and integrate more projections, we move along the spiral, including more and more in our circle of care, compassion and concern. And our view tends to embrace more as well, being more fluid among a multitude of perspectives. We are less stuck in just one interpretation or way of seeing a situation.

From the outside, this takes the form of moving along the phases of two of the main lines of development, values/moral (heart) and cognitive (head.)

The heart is more consistently open, in more and more situations, and towards more and more beings and phenomena. And the view is more inclusive, comprehensive, differentiated, and fluid among different perspectives.

Reinforcing cycles

 

I went to a coffee shop this morning for breakfast, and had lots of opportunity exploring the dynamics of the field, as I wrote about in the previous posts. I also see how the words are probably very similar to what I have written in the past, but as it arises in the present, the experience of it is of being completely fresh and new. (From the inside perspective, it is fresh and new, for others who may read it, just the same old 🙂 )

Another thing I explored…

The field (a) filters itself through a sense of I and Other, and with this, there is (b) a sense of something, more specifically an exclusive identity, to protect and defend. There is a belief in the idea of a separate I, and an elaborate and exclusive identity of this I. (c) When something arises that is outside of this identity, defense kicks in – either passively waiting to be engaged, or actively. (d) Along with the impulse to defend comes a set of sensations. (e) A story or set of stories are added to these sensations, interpreting them (as tension, contraction, anger, fear) and the wider situation (he is…). (f) These stories reinforce the sensations, make them seem more solid and stable, they reinforce the initial story of I and Other, and they reinforce the exclusive identity and of having to defend this identity against something else arising in the field.

So there are several reinforcing cycles here. The first between the sense of I and Other, and the trigger and reaction (the situation may be interpreted to justify the reaction, reinforcing the sense of I and Other, and of something to defend). And then also between the consequences of the reaction and the trigger (he did… so I get angry, uncomfortable, afraid), and the sense of I and Other (he did… so I…).

It is the job of the mind to make our beliefs seem real, and it does the job well. But it also means that when we see through it, even at one point of this chain of events, it all tends to unravel. And as we allow it to unravel, over and over, the habitual patterns gradually change.

Gratitude and stories we tell ourselves

 

The most profound truths are often the simplest ones as well, and sometimes the most difficult ones to realize (such as selflessness) and practice.

One of these simple truths is gratitude: practice gratitude, and you’ll be happy. Practice ingratitude, and you’ll make yourself miserable.

It is the power of the stories we tell ourselves.

Stories we tell ourselves, bringing misery or happiness

I can tell myself stories of how what I have is less good than how it used to be, how it can or could be, how it is for others, and so on. I can compare my intelligence to the most intelligent, my money to the most wealthy, my house to the most elegant homes, my education to the best education, my looks to the most beautiful, my skills to the most skillful, and I am bound to find myself lacking and make myself miserable.

Or I can reverse it by looking at what I can be grateful for. I can be grateful for health, friends, family, community, house, food, education, free time, access to nature, peace in my community, and so on.

A daily practice

Just as I can easily find a million reasons to make myself miserable, I can find infinite reasons for gratitude. There is always one more, and one more.

Making ingratitude into a practice, I find contraction, anger, resentment, guilt, shame, fear, depression, fatigue, holding on, and misery.

Making gratitude into a practice, I find receptivity, joy, peace, appreciation, well-being, passion, letting go, and happiness.

It is as easy as taking time to look for what I can be thankful for, throughout my day, and it is easy to find.

Why stories work: because I believe in them

Whether I tell myself stories of ingratitude or gratitude, one is as true or untrue as the other. The reason they impact me as they do, is that I believe in them to a certain extent, and I believe in stories about what they mean.

I have money, and that means that …, and that is good. I have less money than many others, and that means that …, and that is not good.

The core belief: the idea of I

Ultimately, the stories have power because of the core belief in each of our lives: the belief in the idea of I, as separate from others, as a unit in space and time, subject to birth and death, joy and happiness, health and disease, fortune and misfortune.

What is already alive in our immediate awareness is simply the field of seeing and seen, inherently absent of any I anywhere, yet also with an overlay of a sense of I placed on this human self.

And this overlay, this belief in the idea of I placed on just a segment of this field, is the root of the misery, and it is the reason why stories of ingratitude create misery and stories of gratitude create happiness.

When Ground awakens to itself, the belief in the idea of I falls away

When this field awakens to itself as a field, absent of I anywhere, with no center, with no subject and no object, with everything as subject and object, then these stories are seen as what they are – just stories, with no substance, absent of any absolute truth in them.

It is all Spirit, in all its many forms, and Spirit is in the foreground independent of what particular form it takes. It is Spirit experiencing Spirit. There is only a quiet joy, along with whatever else arises.

There is natural gratitude, independent of stories.

Integrity: beliefs and quiet voice

 

What does it mean to act from integrity?

Just a couple of things for now:

Beliefs

The most superficial layer is integrity as consistency with beliefs. There is a belief in an idea, and then the attempt to live according to it. This is a form of integrity driven largely by shoulds and fears.

The quiet little voice

Then there is the quiet little voice. The one that is there, and remains quiet and steady, independent of how we relate to it. The one that our life proves right.

When there is a lot of beliefs present, especially of a type that contradicts this voice, it may be difficult to notice and act according to it. It may get drowned out in the confusion, or caught up in the ambivalence of being torn between following beliefs or the quiet voice.

As there are fewer and less strong beliefs and more clarity, this voice goes into the foreground and it becomes easier to act on it, it may even be effortless and just happen on its own – without even any awareness of a choice.

Is it possible to make a mistake?

 

Here is one way of looking at the question of mistakes from different filters…

Ground and Big Mind

Ground is inherently free from any notions of mistakes or no mistakes. It allows any forms to come and go as Ground itself, as emptiness dancing.

Big Mind, as Ground as emptiness and form, is similarly absent of any notions of mistakes. It is beyond, yet includes, any ideas of mistakes or no mistakes, and anything these ideas point to.

When Big Mind awakens to its own nature, there is the realization that any and all forms are inherently free from mistakes/no mistakes.

Spirit exploring itself

Moving slightly into the relative, yet informed by the absolute, we can say that everything is Spirit exploring and experiencing itself.

I eat icecream, I stub my toe, I sleep, I miss a deadline, I get praise, I forget the name of a Breema sequence when teaching, I decided to stay in the US instead of going back to Norway, I get sick and can’t do much for a couple of days, I fail a test of some sort.

All of these, and anything else in any human life and existence as a whole, is Spirit manifesting, exploring and experiencing itself – as emptiness and form, experiencer and experienced, seeing and seen.

And this happens independent of the particulars of the content. No matter what form is doing, it is still Spirit experiencing itself. There is no mistake there. It is inherently free from the possibility of mistake.

Beliefs

The sense or experience of mistakes only come in, and is inevitable, when there is a belief in thoughts. Existence should look this way, so if it conforms, it is no mistake, and if it does not, there must be a mistake somewhere: you made a mistake, I made a mistake, God made a mistake.

How to deal with thoughts?

 

Some of the ways we relate to thoughts…

Believing in or not

In general, we can believe in them or not.

As long as there is a belief in any thought, there is a belief in the basic thought of “I” and a corresponding identity. We believe in some thoughts and not others, and with different degrees of attachment.

This creates a sense of I and other, an identity that defines who I am and am not, a discrepancy between beliefs and the inner and outer world as it arises, and a sense of struggle and drama.

When there is realized selflessness, beliefs in thoughts fall away as well. Or we can say that when the belief in “I” as a segment of what is falls away, so does beliefs in other thoughts as well. Without a sense of I, no attachment to thoughts.

(I have to say that in some cases of alleged realized selflessness, it certainly appears – when looking at words and actions – that there is still a belief in certain thoughts. What the human self does seems remarkably limited and frozen if all beliefs indeed had dropped away.)

Awakening to thoughts as related to stress

We can awaken, in different ways, to thoughts as related to stress.

We notice that being absorbed in thoughts, or attaching to thoughts, or trying to push thoughts away, brings disassociation or stress.

And although this is true for all thoughts (at least all the ones I have explored so far), it may appear as if it is true for only some of them.

And although it is the belief in thoughts that brings stress, it may appear as if thoughts themselves are a problem.

:: See thoughts themselves as the source

If we see thoughts themselves as a problem, we set ourselves up for failure.

We may engage in strategies to pacify or remove thoughts, such as drugs, sleep, entertainment or other forms of distractions. If we are a little more sophisticated, we may engage in practices that manipulate attention (visualizations, “good thoughts”). Although these strategies may give short term relief, it is ultimately a recipe for failure as thoughts come and go on their own and live their own life.

:: See beliefs as the source

We can recognize beliefs as the source, and inquire into the beliefs – allowing the attachment to the thought to erode and eventually fall away.

:: See the sense of I as the source

We can recognize the belief in the thought “I” as the source, as that which all other beliefs hinges on.

So we may engage in practices that temporarily shift attention away from the sense of I, giving a taste of how it is to be free from the story of I and everything that comes with it. These practices include, again, drugs, sex and entertainment. And also being in nature, prayer, meditation, and Breema.

We can inquire into any stressful belief that comes up, allowing one thread of the tapestry of beliefs to unravel at a time, until it all falls away taking the belief in the idea of “I” with it.

Or we can go directly for the belief in the idea of I through other forms of inquiry, mainly various forms of Atma Vichara such as the Big Mind process, labeling, and noticing the seen and the seeing as inherently absent of I. (And allowing what is seen to seep through our whole being, allowing it all to reorganize around it, be affected by it.)

Law of attraction?

 

These days, there is a lot of local buzz around a movie called The Secret, apparently about the law of attraction

I haven’t seen it yet, but I can still explore some things that come up for me around the general topic of the law of attraction. (Slightly one-sided.)

Drawback one: relative truth only

The first drawback is an obvious one: the law of attraction only serves as one of many tools to get what our personality wants, such as comfort, money, career, a partner, and so on. Instead of money to buy it, we use the law of attraction. It is at best good for our human self, yet does not give ultimate satisfaction, contentment or happiness.

So it is of course fine to use the law of attraction to get things, just as we use money, attractiveness, status, power and whatever else we have available to get our way. The only problem comes when we think this will actually give us anything more than temporary satisfaction.

Drawback two: something is wrong!

Underlying the interest in the law of attraction is the belief that something is wrong: something is wrong with me, you, the world and/or God.

So if we use the law of attraction to set something right, according to our personality, we act from and reinforce this sense of wrongness. We deepen the groove of wrongness, the sense that something is wrong – with me, you, the world, God.

And with it, we fuel a basic distrust in the world as it shows up, as it is.

As usual, there is no lack of supporting beliefs for the core one of something is wrong. (A good one is God needs me to tell him/her/it how things should be.)

Drawback three: preferences from limited view

Another drawback, for me, is that I wouldn’t know what to ask for or set out to attract.

Whatever I set out to attract is what my personality wants. It comes out of a very limited view and understanding. And, yes, out of a basic mistrust in the world as it shows up on its own.

(More precisely, what I want and desire all comes out of beliefs. These beliefs that makes up my limited – and ultimately false – identity and large portions of this personality. Beliefs that, as we discover pretty quickly by inquire into them, have no basis in reality. A set of random and conditioned beliefs are identified with and taken as I, and then used as a guide for how to operate in life.)

The preferences of my personality is a poor guide for what to attract, which is clear even from the perspective of these preferences themselves.

My life is full of examples of things happening that my personality initially didn’t like at all. Yet these situations later appeared as exactly what I needed, as a great gift. And there are as many examples of getting what this personality wanted, which later appeared – to the same personality, as a misfortune.

It is difficult to know in advance what is fortune and misfortune. The same situation can appear either way, at any time, and it can change over time. It really just depends on the view.

Drawback four: my will be done

Reality, or God, is what serves up this human life. Who am I, as identified with the preferences of this personality, to think I know better?

Put another way, the law of attraction is another form of my will be done. But can I know more than God?

It is of course fine to live from my will be done. It is what we do when there are beliefs and an identification with our personality. It is just more of the same.

Drawback five: fear and the shadow

Another thing that can happen is that we become paranoid about what thoughts arise and which ones we put energy into.

As we discover quickly through meditation, if not much sooner, thoughts happen. They live their own life. They come out of the blue and vanish back into open space. They are a surprise guest or visitor, entering and then equally surprising leaving again. There is no way to hold thoughts back. They come on their own accord, and trying to filter them is a futile, and quite stressful and energy consuming, endeavor.

There may be the appearance of choosing which thoughts to fuel and which not, but that too really happens on its own.

So depending on how we are put together, if there is an attachment to the idea of the law of attraction, there may be a good deal of frustration and fear coming up as well. Oh, I thought about a car accident: that means I will get in one! I can’t think about anything dark, because it means it is more likely to happen, but these thoughts still seem to come in even if I fight them! Those people always talk about negative things, so those thoughts enter my mind as well, and will attract it to my life!

Sounds stressful to me. As soon as we go into these dynamics, what we feared has already happened…! I got into the law of attraction to find happiness and avoid unpleasantness, but it only gives me the unpleasantness that I tried to avoid, even before anything has been manifested.

If anything, what happens is that our shadow only fills up with more and more stuff, and become denser as well, less explored and invited into awareness.

The grain of truth: seeking those and that which agrees with me

What seems accurate about the law of attraction is that I have a set of beliefs, and then seek out people that agree with me and situations that confirms what I already know (that align with these beliefs).

So, as I did during some years in childhood, I believe I am unlikeable, and seek out people who agree – and don’t like me! They may not like me, but they at least agree with me – they don’t upset my worldview, and that is more important.

I believe I don’t deserve money, so act accordingly to make sure I don’t get too much of it. I believe I deserve abundance, so act in ways that brings money into my life.

I believe people are mean, treat them from suspicion, and then respond by withdrawing and acting in ways I interpret as mean. I believe people are friendly, act in a friendly way towards them, and receive friendly responses.

Our belief system permeates our whole life: it forms our outlook and worldview, it informs what we notice and don’t notice, it fuels emotions and behaviors. We act as if our beliefs are true, which makes them appear true to us. We look for and collect evidence for these beliefs. We interpret what happens according to these beliefs. And we act in ways that makes them appear to come true, including in the ways listed above.

So in that sense, there is a “law of attraction”, but there is nothing mysterious about it. It is commonplace, what we notice and live from daily. This form of law of attraction is simply that we live as if our beliefs are true and we live to make them appear true, so it tends to be a self-fulfilling prophesy. This is also widely known from mainstream psychology.

This garden variety form of self-fulfilling prophesy already permeates our lives, so there is no need to make it into anything more weird. At the same time, it seems that weird explanations for simple things helps people bring attention to it, so in that way it may be helpful for them.

If people become aware of and start question their beliefs, even if they do so from an unusual starting point, then why not?

Integration: intention and surrender

There is also a possibility for an integration here, which is what I tend to do in my own life.

I may set an intention, and even visualize for something to occur, yet within a context of Thy will be done, a context of surrendering to what happens as the will of God, of reality.

Also, as beliefs are questioned there is a natural shift from my will be done to Thy will be done.

The preferences of this personality becomes less important. Thoughts are revealed as just thoughts, questions more than statements about the world. Whatever happens is OK, and then more than OK.

Believe six impossible things before breakfast

 

Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said: ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’

‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

– From chapter five of Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carrol.

Only six? Why, I’ve believed far more than six impossible things before breakfast. And so have we all. We’ve all had plenty of practice.

In reality, any belief is an attachment to something impossible. We attach to a thought, make an impossibility appear as true and real, and then act and react as if it is.

It is every bit as astonishing as anything Alice encountered.

The joy of shifting gears

 

There was a scheduling mixup today, so from one minute to the next I went from being busy working on the house and the computer and expecting to do that the rest of the day, to giving a Breema session. The most enjoyable part of it, in addition to having an unexpected opportunity to do Breema, was seeing the shifting of gears.

A cat goes from deep relaxation to alertness in a fraction of a second, and the other way around, and so it is with us as well. Deep relaxation and alertness, stillness and activity, they are all present right now, and each one can come to the surface and be manifested more obviously right now.

It seems that the fewer beliefs, the more available relaxation and alertness are in any situation, and the quicker and easier the shift of gears.

With beliefs, there is the added confusion and stress from the clash between beliefs and reality: I wanted to finish updating this database. I had expected to paint the last few sections of the deck. I wanted to measure the area where we store the firewood so we can put up a roof there. Why didn’t she come when my calendar said she would be here? It is always like this, people messing up my schedule!

Without beliefs, there is just the shifting of gears. Simple. Easy. Absent of drama.

Beliefs, resistance and tension

 

Through The Work, it becomes clear how beliefs, resistance and tension are different aspects of the same process.

Beliefs split the world into desirable and undesirable, which brings resistance to certain experiences, and then mental and physical tension.

There is a belief in the idea of I, placed on a segment of what is. Then, there is a large set of other beliefs to fill out this identity.

These beliefs tell what is desirable and what is undesirable, so there will be a natural resistance to certain experiences – to certain situations, circumstances, sensations, emotions, thoughts and behaviors.

And this resistance is reflected in tension, both mentally and physically.

From here, it goes into the perceived need to use force, manipulation and so on, which further amplifies the tension and the sense of struggle and drama.

And it is all a struggle within content, pitting one aspect of content against another. All arising within and as Ground, as form and empty clear awareness.

Alarms Built Into Beliefs

 

There seems to be many different alarms built into beliefs, or maybe just many variations of the same alarm. Each one is reminding me that I am now attaching to an idea, and out of alignment with what is already more true for me.

Here is a selection that comes to mind, in no particular order…

Sense of separation

Any belief gives a sense of separation, and this is in itself uncomfortable, again because it does not align with what is already more true for us.

A belief in the idea of I inherently creates a sense of I and Other, and of separation.

From this sense of separation comes a sense of lack, dissatisfaction and precariousness. I can lose what I want and have. I can get what I don’t have and don’t want. I may be stuck with what I have and don’t want. And I am trying to get what I don’t have and want. Any apparent resolution at this level is limited and temporary.

A belief in the idea of I, when placed on this human self, in addition creates a sense of being within time and space, being finite, being subject to birth and death, being at the mercy of the larger world.

Also, through beliefs the world is split into right and wrong, true and false, good and bad/evil. Situations are one or the other, and ideas are one or the other. So again, there is a separation in many ways. I may be right and you are wrong. I may be bad and want to be good. You may be evil and I want to be good. And so on. In each case, there is stress.

Life is showing up differently.

From this, we see that when we have any belief, life is likely to show up differently than what our belief tells us it should. And this is inherently stressful.

My belief is that people should be good, they act in ways that I don’t see as good, and get upset and frustrated. My belief is that I should have lots of money, I don’t, and again experience stress. My belief is that my body should be healthy, it is not, and there is stress.

Something to protect

When I hold onto any belief, there is something to protect. I need to protect the belief and the identity that comes from this belief.

I look for supporting evidence and ignore that which does not fit. I dismiss counter arguments and opposing beliefs. I spend time and energy refuting opposing beliefs. I prop up my beliefs by other beliefs. I maintain my beliefs by reminding myself of them, fueling them, explaining them, clarifying them, refining them, justifying them.

Limited identity

Any belief is also a part of my identity.

Not only do I need to defend this identity, as mentioned above. I also limit myself through my identity. Any identity defines what is me and not me, what is OK as me and not OK as me, what I can accept as me and not accept as me. And by this, I limit myself. I box myself in.

I think I am good, and dismiss and push aside any sides of me that do not fit this image (so they come up in nightmares, actions apparently outside of my control, in how I treat others, and so on). I think I am liberal, so automatically dismiss any views I see as conservative. I think I am Christian, so dismiss the views and practices of other religions. I think I am not a good dancer, so leave dancing mostly to others, even if I may enjoy it if I try.

The process of boxing in is stressful. It takes a good deal of energy and attention. The consequences of boxing myself in are limiting and stressful. And it also fuels a sense of separation, which is stressful.

Inherently self-contradictory

Any set of beliefs is also inherently self-contradictory.

The only way to have a set of beliefs be inherently consistent is to keep them very simple and limited in number, but this does not work well in the world. The world is too complex and rich for a too simplistic set of beliefs.

If the set of beliefs is more complex and higher in number, then they automatically become self-contradictory. Beliefs split the world into right and wrong, true and false. Each one split the world in slightly different ways. And in this, some are bound to contradict other beliefs within the same system.

So when we believe, we automatically contradict ourselves. Others, and our own mind, are quick to remind us about this. This too is frustrating and stressful, at least at times.

The stronger we believe, the more obvious the contradictions are, and the more stressful it is.

Inflexible

Any belief is an attachment to a particular view or perspective.

There are infinite possible views and perspectives out there, each one with a grain of truth, each one useful in particular circumstances. So when I attach to only a limited set of them, I limit myself. Not only my views become limited and rigid, but my actions as well. And this has very practical and often unwanted consequences, which again brings up stress for me.

Summary

Beliefs are inherently stressful by…

Creating a sense of separation. Inviting life to show up differently. Create a sense of something to protect. Limiting identity. Being inherently self-contradictory. And limiting the possible views and perspectives I can take and apply in the world.

And probably in many more ways and variations as well.

Sequence

First, there is a belief in an idea. This automatically splits the world into I and Other, inside and outside of identity, right and wrong, true and false, good and bad. Then, there is the continued holding onto this attachment to an idea, which creates inflexibility, stuckness in a particular view, perspective, identity, and way of being in the world. Each of these are possible sources for stress, frustration and discomfort.

Believing itself as religion

There seems to be so much stress inherent in beliefs that it is almost a miracle that most of us are so invested in them.

In spite of all the suffering we bring up by doing so, it seems that we make believing itself into a religion, independent of its content. I guess it is because we don’t know or see many alternatives, and don’t know how to explore beliefs in ways that allow them to fall away.

When we do find ways to explore beliefs which allows them to fall away, for instance through The Work, it seems that many go into it with a good deal of passion, having finally found something that gives liberation from the stress inherent in beliefs.

Perfection

 

Whenever I believe in a thought, I become a perfectionist. I make up an ideal of how the world is and/or should be, and experience stress when reality don’t match up to it.

In the release of these beliefs, another perfection is revealed. The first perfection is the conventional one, needing its opposite for its existence. It is the world divided into perfect and imperfect, good and bad. The second perfection is what is, revealed when beliefs in stories about it falls away.

Sacred Beliefs

 

Even as beliefs unravel through inquiry, and there is more familiarity with the general dynamics of beliefs, there are still some sacred beliefs left.

I assume this is quite typical. The peripheral and less serious beliefs drop away, revealing our sacred beliefs in starker relief.

And these sacred beliefs are exactly those which we can use to kick ourselves out of paradise – even out of an otherwise clear realization of selflessness (as happened with me last fall).

What seems so true and obvious that I wouldn’t even consider questioning it?

Or as a more practical path into it: Where is there still stress in my life? Which views and behaviors still trigger something in me?

Beliefs, Resistance and Samsara

 

Beliefs and resistance seems to be two sides of the same coin, and also the main mechanism of samsara.

Whenever there is a belief in any abstraction, there is also resistance.

And whenever there is resistance, there is also resistance to the effects of resistance.

Beliefs as resistance

Whenever there is any attachment to a thought, it gives rise to a sense of I and Other, to an identity (I am this and not that), and to a sense of Other and Not That as a disturbance.

There is resistance to what is through trying to hold onto some aspects and trying to push away other aspects. And from this comes a sense of struggle and drama.

Resistance to resistance

When there is resistance to what is in this way, there is not only the appearance of Other and of a disturbance, but the whole process also gives rise to an experience of suffering.

On top of this, there can be resistance to the suffering as well. There is the effects of the initial resistance in the form of suffering, and then resistance to those effects which in turns adds to the experience of suffering.

Unraveling

To unravel this, we can start at the belief end or the resistance end of it.

Starting at the belief end, we can for instance do The Work on beliefs and allow them to unravel in that way. When beliefs unravel, resistance unravel with them – along with a sense of suffering.

Starting at the resistance end, we can be with whatever is experienced – allowing it its own life, befriending it, finding peace with it even if it would never go away (which it always does, at some point). As the resistance falls away and there is a familiarity with the new terrain, the corresponding beliefs tend to unravel as well.

Acting as if Believe

 

When I explore possible statements for inquiry, I sometimes see that I am acting as if I have a certain belief, yet my conscious view is quite different.

For instance, I would not consciously subscribe to needing to impress someone, needing their approval, and so on. But I see that I certainly act as if I believe that, sometimes.

There is of course nothing new here either. It is well known even in mainstream psychology (going back to Freud and earlier). But a good reminder when identifying statements for inquiry.

I may not consciously believe a certain statement, but if I see myself act as if I do, then that is good enough. It means something juicy may come out of the inquiry.

Transparency, Popping & Beliefs

 

At times when there is transparency or it has popped, I see that some beliefs are still strong and solid enough to bring it back to identification with content.

Transparency and popping

Transparency here means that our human self is mostly transparent to the Ground, yet with a vague sense of I floating around somewhere. There is partly a seamless field of what is inner and outer to the human self, yet also the remains of a habitual identification with this human self – or maybe pure awareness. There is a subtle sense of I and Other still.

And popping means that the Ground has moved from being background to the foreground. It has popped into the foreground, and it is abundantly clear that there is no I anywhere. I and Other is not inherent in anything, yet can still be used in a conventional way to navigate in the world.

Remaining beliefs

In either case, some beliefs may be strong enough to lead to blind identification with them. They appear true, real and important. Important enough to temporarily abandon the transparency or the popping and go into the blind identification.

There is a sense of having to take care of “it” – whatever the belief says is going on – exactly because it seems so real, true and important.

From seeing the field of content as seamless and with no I inherent anywhere, it becomes split into right and wrong, true and false, good and bad, I and Other.

This brings discomfort and stress, which is a reminder of attaching to thoughts we at some level know are not true.

Shifting as invitation to clarity

So it may shift between transparency and/or popping and attachment to beliefs, over and over, until the last remains of attachments to thoughts are worn out and seen through. (Or maybe more precisely the attachment to the attachments.)

Each time of shifting into attachment to beliefs is an opportunity to explore and examine what is happening. It is an invitation to getting a little more familiar with the mechanisms of samsara.

And when there is a greater familiarity with and clarity around these mechanisms of samsara, they loose their power. There is no longer any attachment to this process of delving into duality.

Voice Dialogue :: Voice of Beliefs

 

In doing voice dialogue – or the Big Mind process, I notice that there is always a few different ways I can go with each voice, and also that what comes out – not surprisingly – often tends to reflect my conscious worldview. Although sometimes, there are certainly surprises and more illuminating revelations.

In this case, what came out is certainly close to my conscious view right now. And I also know that since this is my current conscious view, it is exactly where I am stuck…! But that is OK. We need some time at the current edge of our insights to familiarize ourselves with it, before it moves on.

Can I speak with the voice of beliefs?

Yes.

What do you do?

I help the self navigate the world. I make things simpler for him. I help him feel more confident in his opinions and choices.

Does he appreciate that?

Sometimes. He does listen to me quite frequently.

But he also tries to get rid of me in various ways. He does not fully appreciate the ways I help him. Not that it changes much – I still do my job.

Is there anything you would like to say to him?

Yes. I would like him to look at a different way of relating to me. I am OK with taking on a somewhat different role, although I am not OK with him taking a dismissive attitude of me. I have an important function, and he needs to acknowledge that. If he tries to dismiss me, I’ll just be louder and more persistent.

You said you could take on a different role. Can you say more about that?

Well, one way I function is as a strong belief – when something appears absolutely right and wrong. I see that this can be detrimental to him, it narrows things too much down for him, it blinds him in a certain way.

Yet, I can also function more as a guideline – as a help for him to navigate in the world. In this way, I function more as just plain thoughts and ideas. He knows that each of them are just for navigation, and do not reflect any absolute truth.

I see that as the voice of beliefs, I am really made up of a combination of thoughts or ideas and attachment to these thoughts and ideas. Without the attachment, I become just plain thoughts and ideas again, and that is OK for me. I can still serve my function of helping him navigate in the world.

I & Identity

 

The sense of I seems to come from a belief in the idea of I.

And our sense of identity comes from all our other beliefs.

Belief in the idea of I

First, there is the simple belief in the idea of I – creating a sense of I and Other, of subject and object, of seer and seen. And as on of the job of thoughts and emotions is to make beliefs appear true, it takes on a very convincing appearance.

Without beliefs, thoughts are revealed as completely innocent – just an aid to explore and navigate in the world of phenomena. When a thought is believed in, it becomes the source of drama and struggle. And when a thought is believed in, it becomes the job of many of the other thoughts to make the belief appear real.

Identity

Our sense of identity, used to fill in and flesh out the initial simple sense of I and Other, comes from all our other beliefs.

From the simple I, there is the more refined and complex I am (…), I believe (…) and so on. We split existence into I and Other, I am this and not that. I am a human. I am alive. I am white. I am male. I am liberal. I like fish’n chips. I don’t like conservatives. I believe democracy is good. I believe people shouldn’t talk during a movie. Ad infinitum.

Unraveling beliefs

There are many ways to unravel beliefs. The Work seems to be one of the most straightforward and direct ways, and there are also many other forms of inquiry which does the job. Sitting practice is another, repeatedly getting dipped into something which does not match our initial and conventional beliefs, and gradually allows them to erode and fall away.

In the absence of beliefs, there is only Ground manifesting as the myriad phenomena, emptiness dancing. It is just what is – often the same content as before – although absent of any inherent I and Other, subject and object, seer and seen.

Cravings, addictions and attachments

 

Our humans lives seem full of cravings, addictions and attachments. We want this and not that. We feel we have to have that and avoid something else. There seems to be innumerable cravings, addictions and attachments. It seems to just be part of the human condition, and even if there was a way to deal with them – there seems to just be too many to take care of.

And yet, there is really only one form of attachment and that is the attachment to thoughts (to abstractions, ideas, images and so on).

And there is really only one source attachment to a single thought, and that is the thought of I. The thought of I as opposed to Other, of I as finite, as placed on something within the field of what is, added to a section of what arises right now. The belief in that one thought, that one simple – and seemingly so plausible – idea, is what creates the whole human drama.