Intention as practice

 

I find intention to be an invaluable part of my practice.

And it is maybe most helpful in allowing insights and hidden beliefs to surface and be seen.

I notice curiosity arise around an issue, or some area where there seem to be hidden beliefs, and set the intention to allow an insight into this to surface. This intention is simple and quiet, and can take the form of a prayer, and the seed is planted, allowing the plant surfaces a little later.

Symptoms, roots and subtle reductionism

 

Beliefs as the root

Through the filter of certain forms of self-inquiry, such as The Work, it certainly appears as if beliefs are the roots of a whole cascade of effects, including emotions and behaviors.

I believe that I am not good enough, make myself depressed, and eat ice cream. I believe my co-worker should be more considerate, feel anger, and try to avoid that person. I believe my kids are at a wrong track because of something I did, feel guilt and regret, and get involved in their lives far more than they appreciate.

So, of course, the thing to do then is to inquire into those beliefs, to get at the root of what is going on.

Working with the effects

At the same time, there are many approaches that work with what appears to be the effects of beliefs, and not the beliefs themselves.

I may experience strong emotions, such as fear, sadness, grief, anger, resentment or panic, or a strong sensation such as pain.

And I can ask myself can I be with what I am experiencing right now?

I can sit with it in meditation, allow it to unfold and live its own life in awareness.

I can bring attention to my body, to the weight of the body, the movements of the body, the breath, the facial expression, the tone of voice.

In each of these ways, I shift the center of gravity out of the seen and into the seeing of it. So here, there is a very real release from the pain that comes from (blind) identification with the seen.

It works, as there is indeed a release from being blindly caught up in the seen, and it helps me find myself as the seeing itself, as the witness.

At the same time, it may only work temporarily. Sometimes, allowing the seen to unfold with less or no interference in this way, and allowing it into awareness, is enough for the patterns to erode and wear themselves out. But other times, they remain and come up again, and again, and again.

(Then there are all the other ways of working with these symptoms, such as therapy, yoga, visualizations and so on. Each of these seem to work in some cases, and maybe not fully in other cases.)

Working with the beliefs themselves

So then, and especially if there is a recurrent pattern, it may be very helpful to inquire into the underlying beliefs themselves.

Is it true? What happens when I hold onto that belief? Who would I be without it?

Allowing the underlying beliefs to unravel in this way, through examining them more thoroughly, also allows its symptoms to fall away. Without roots, no trunk or branches.

Symptoms, roots and subtle reductionism

So working with the symptoms may work for a while. And it can also have other benefits such as finding myself as the seeing, and noticing the shift of center of gravity from the seen and into the seeing, and the effects of that shift.

Yet working with the roots – the beliefs themselves, is is far more effective. It gets to the root cause of it.

Or so it seems, through this filter of inquiry.

I also see that there is a subtle reductionism here, assuming beliefs as the cause and anything else as the effect, in any and all circumstances. Isn’t there also an effect the other way around? If I work with emotions, can’t that influence, and maybe even release, the belief, at least in some cases? And if I work directly with emotions, won’t that support the effects of the inquiry?

And there is also a, maybe less subtle, absolutism here. First, if we see beliefs as the only cause of stress and suffering. And maybe especially if we see the relationship between beliefs and emotions (etc.) as a one-way-street.

Supplement and inquire

In practical terms, it may make our repertoire limited to inquiry only, and we may miss out on some of the insights and transformations that can come from other practices which appear to deal more with the symptoms.

As Ken Wilber says, there is nothing wrong with the practice we are already doing, but supplement. Try some other things as well, and see what happens.

And it may also be helpful to notice this tendency to subtle reductionism and absolutism, and bring even that into inquiry. Is it true that beliefs are always the cause of stress? Is it true that I won’t benefit from working with other approaches besides self-inquiry?

Self/Other Grid II

 

The Self/Other practice or modality grid mentioned in an earlier post left out the body level.

With it, the rough outline could look like this:

Self/Body

Various forms of exercise, including aerobic and strength, and diet, sleep and self-massage.

Other/Body

Forms of bodywork, such as massage, other-assisted stretching, medicines, surgery.

Self/Energy

Forms of yoga, including indian yoga, tai chi, chi gong, and related practices such as Breema.

Other/Energy

Forms of healing and energy transmissions such as reiki and diksha.

Self/Consciousness

Forms of inquiry and meditation, such as The Work, headlessness experiments and shikataza.

Other/Consciousness

Changes in content or context of consciousness catalyzed by an apparent Other, by a teacher, Christ and God.

Interactions

This grid overlays Ground and its many manifestations, so it is one fluid whole before and after we put on this grid. This also means that through the filter of this grid, we will see interactions between each of the areas.

When I or somebody else works on my body, it has effects on energy and consciousness levels. Energy may start flowing more freely, I may feel more relaxed and/or alert, and so on.

When I or somebody else works on my energy aspect, it has effects on my physical body, maybe healing of or relief from physical problems, and my consciousness aspect, maybe an experience of bliss or clarity, maybe even glimpses of Big Mind or selflessness.

When I or somebody else influences my consciousness, it also affects on the two other levels. My body may change, maybe it relaxes and tension melts away, and my energy system may change, maybe knots unravel and energy flows more freely again.

Integral Life Practice

The Other portion of this grid is often left out of integral practice discussions and frameworks, but it seems that for it to be more inclusive, and more aligned with the what is out there and available to us in terms of practices and tools for healing and awakening, both the Self and Other sections must be included.

Spiritual Practice as Alignment with Ground

 

Spiritual practice can be seen as a gradual alignment with Ground.

More precisely, it is Ground temporarily misidentifying itself as exclusively a human being, and trying in various ways to mimic what it already is.

It is a gradual remembrance of what we really are, a gradual waking up from the dream of being identified as a human being.

Shikantaza

In shikantaza, just sitting, we allow whatever arises to come and go on its own, to live its own life. Ground does this inherently, allowing any experiences and any phenomena to arise, to come and go, to live their own life.

More accurately: Ground is temporarily misidentified as a segment – as a human self or maybe pure awareness, as seeing but not seen. And through shikantaza or similar approaches to meditation, it tries to mimick what it already is: that which allows any and all phenomena to come and go on their own.

Practicing selflessness

In practicing selflessness, we practice getting out of the idea of I and take a larger and more inclusive view. Ground, temporarily forming itself into any phenomena including all beings, is inherently selfless. There is no I anywhere.

More accurately: Ground, temporarily misidentified as a human self and an object in the world, tries to practice what it already is: selfless. Due to the temporary misidentificaiton, this seems very difficult, if not impossible, until Ground begins to remember what it is.

Prayer

In prayer, we try to connect with God, allowing the apparenty boundary between I and God to dissolve.

Or more accurately: Ground temporarily splits itself into an individual human self or soul, and as God or Spirit, and tries to connect the two, allowing the apparent boundary between the two to dissolve.

Self-Inquiry

In self-inquiry, we explore what is already true in immediate experience. There is a human self, but is there an I anywhere? There is the doing of this human self, but is there a doer? What is it that comes and goes? What is it that does not come and go? What happens when there is an attachment to a thought? What happens when there is not an attachment to a belief? If I take a statement and turns it around any way possible, is there some truth in each of these new statements? Is it possible to not attach to any one, yet be free to engage in and play with any and all of them?

More accurately: Ground, temporarily misidentified as a human self, explores what is already true in immediate awareness. In this way, it gradually starts uncovering what is already there, what always and already is there.

Preparing the ground

Through these and other practices, the ground is prepared – so to speak – for Ground to awaken to its own nature. To suddenly, in a flash, recognize what it already is, what it always is, inherently absent of any I anywhere.

Traditional & Eclectic

 

Whenever I talk with someone who is deeply committed to a particular practice or path, a double response comes up in me. One voice says “ha! I know approaches that can resolve those things in a flash!” and another says “I am not that committed, I’ll never get anywhere because my focus is too spread out and I jump from one thing to another”.

Some beliefs behind these may be…

“They should know what I know”, “I know better”, “They are not using the most effective approach”, “They should be more open minded”

And “I need to stay with one thing to get anywhere”, “I am not staying with one thing”, “They are more dedicated than I am”, “My focus is too spread out”, “I am not sticking with tried and true approaches”.

Of course, both the traditional sticking-with-one-thing approach and the more eclectic and integral one have their value and merit.

One is tried and true, well formed, clear, giving predictable results. Although it is sometimes a little narrow, not making use of tools and techniques from outside the tradition which may work well for them. It is a little like a horse with blinders – focused but partially blind.

The other is wildly eclectic, using whatever works, cross training through combining practices, willing to modify, let go of, and adopt practices depending on what is available, experience and what seems to work the best. At the same time, it is definetely not a tried and true approach, it is more risky and often less proven by time, it can be a little scattered at times. There is a wide view, yet also maybe not a clear path.

A pretty safe way may be to (a) follow a traditional practice over time, with the guidance of an experienced teacher, and (b) add onto it various other techniques which may help in specific areas. The main course is solid and stays the same, while the side dishes and garnish change according to what is available, what seems to work, and just plain curiosity and sense of adventure.

Just Happens & Practice

 

Another posting on the obvious…

There is and isn’t a big difference between something that just happens – that happens to us or out of the blue, and something that comes through practice and from a thorough familiarity with the terrain.

Is and isn’t a difference

There isn’t a big difference, in that the terrain we land in may be very similar.

And yet there is a difference – in how familiar we are with the process and dynamics of getting there, in our ability to guide ourselves and others there, and in how readily accessible the terrain is to us if we are not there.

There are innumerable examples of this, from any area of life and human experience.

Acupuncture, relationships and awakening

For instance, I can go to an acupuncturist and experience a big shift and maybe even healing or more sense of spirit, passion and clarity in my life. But I don’t know the ins and outs of what is happening. I probably won’t be able to replicate it on my own. I am dependent on the practitioner and the needles. And all of those are fine. Yet, if I engage in various forms of yoga – for instance taoist yoga – I can learn the mechanics of what is happening at a finely tuned level. I can become so familiar with the terrain and how to get there that I can do it on my own. I can possibly even go further than what the acupuncturist can do for me.

I may be in a good relationship, which just happened to be that way from the beginning. And yet not (consciously) know what allows for such a relationship. Or I can be in a difficult relationship and work with and through it, allowing it to arrive at the same place as the other one – with the big difference that now I know something more about the terrain. I know something more about going from problems to ease, I know something about how to work on these issues – with myself and another person.

Or – as was the case for me – there may be an awakening coming out of the blue. I may be very familiar with the terrain of awakening, and it may correspond with the most clear and insightful descriptions and teachings from any tradition or mystic. Yet, I don’t know much about how to get there. It just happened. So there may be a fall (as again was the case for me), allowing me the opportunity to explore how it is without this awakening and how to work through it back into the awakening. I learn far more about this terrain in that way. And really, there is more freedom as there is a deeper and more thorough understanding of the dynamics of the process, of the mechanisms of samsara and how they are seen through and allowed to fall away.

Both beautiful

Both are valuable – the given, the gift, that which comes out of the blue, and the work, the practice, the gradual familiarity with the terrain.

The given is beautiful when it happens, and it allows for a taste of what is possible.

And the practice and gradual familiarity with the terrain is beautiful as well, especially in its insights with more of the ins and outs of the process, and it ability to help oneself and others through the terrain.

Gateways

 

Whenever I do Process Work, Big Mind, Inquiry or Breema, I notice that each of them is a gateway into the same deeper process and dynamics, and also particular commonalities among them.

This is not surprising, but it does give a nice sense of triangulation – or a certain cross-training as they talk about in integral practice (although areas like diet, water, energies, social/ecological engagement and so on are left out of that particular list).

The Work and Process Work

For instance, I noticed today how question number 1,2,3 and 4 in The Work is similar to exploring the edge between primary and secondary processes in Process Work (our conscious identity and that which is there and not yet conscious yet).

And the turnarounds in The Work is similar to exploring the secondary process itself, that which was over the edge from our conscious identity.

And in both, there is an emphasis on living the turnarounds/secondary process, to bring it into our daily life, even if it is just a drop of for now.

Currently…

 

Reading

Luminous Night’s Journey – A. H. Almaas

Spacecruiser Inquiry – A. H. Almaas

Anatomy of Miracles – Subagh Singh Khalsa (Sat Nam Rasayan)

The Healing Art of Sat Nam Rasayan – Guru Dev Singh

Classical Five Element Acupuncture Vol. III – J.R. Worsley

Listening to

Aerial – Kate Bush

Ancestral Voices – Carlos Nakai, William Eaton

Voices from the Distant Steppe – Shu De

Orphan’s Lament – Huun Huur Tu

Egypt – Yossou N’Dour

Glassworks – Philip Glass

Unfolding – Axiom of Choice

Niyaz

Portals of Grace – Azam Ali

Himalaya – Eric Valli

Blue Idol – Altan

Morimur – Bach (Hilliard Ensamble)

Die Kunst der Fuge – Bach (Keller Quartet)

Byron Katie – dialogues

Joel Morwood – talks (Center for Sacred Sciences)

Practices

Byron Katie inquiries, daily in periods

Atma Vichara – inquiry into what appears most as “I” and seeing that too as empty of any I, just appearing within space as everything else

Breema – Self-Breema and bodywork, daily

Facilitating Big Mind – couple of times a week

Kundalini yoga – weekly classes, simple exercises a few times a day (breath of fire and more)

Sitting practice – shikantaze, now and then

Deeksha – monthly hands-on deekshas, and inviting in at any time

Sat Nam Rasayan – weekly classes, sometimes during the day

Being with whatever is – going into experiences, especially uncomfortable ones

Water (80+ ounces a day), diet, some strength, walks, biking

Offering to the divine – any perceived problems, my human self, my whole being, my relationships, the house and material goods, community, earth, universe

Intention – to have resolved/cleared whatever prevents… (awakening, living a fuller live)

Movies as Practice

 

The same ruminations seem to come up over and over, which has the benefit of allowing it to sink in a little more. And they all seem to move on with time as well, which I appreciate.

A current theme for me is movies as practice.

Watching movies allows me an opportunity to…

  • Recognize some of our collective projections and shadows
  • Recognize some of my own projections and shadows
  • Notice how I relate to everything coming up in me from watching the movie – emotions, thoughts, triggered reactions, and so on.
  • Find myself more as Big Mind, that in which everything unfolds within – the events of the movie, in the room/movie theater, and from my human self.
  • Explore how the Spiral Dynamics levels can play themselves out.

And so on.

Twelve O’Clock High

For instance, in my exploration of the world of classics I watched Twelve O’Clock High a couple of days ago.

Although this movie was not quite as juicy for me as some other ones, it helped me recognize what seemed a quite healthy expression of Spiral Dynamics blue.

It seemed to be a good example of how authority, hierarchy, discipline, loyalty and other blue level qualities can play themselves out in an appropriate setting (during WW2) and in a quite healthy way.

And I also saw how I want to bring more of these qualities into my own life again, after a period where they have been more in the background. They are all appropriate, all valuable, playing themselves out in certain ways and certain areas in the tapestry of my life. How do they show up in my life right now? How and in what ways can I invite them more fully into my life? Where can they benefit me and others?

The movie also reminded me of one of the ways our shadow can become completely other, to the point not even being noticed or acknowledged to any significant extent. The Nazis in the movie, and the civilians bombed, were not acknowledged at all, apart from being marks on a map. The ones carrying the shadow for us can – in some instances – become completely ignored as living, human beings.

Of course, we have seen this recently too, in how Iraqis civilians are ignored in the US media, and how people around the world – suffering in desperate situations, are similarly ignored and left out of the media picture and the public discourse. Nowhere is this more obvious than for people in areas of Africa.

Heart Centered Practice: Fullness, engagement and embodiment

 

I used to focus on heart centered practices – mainly the heart prayer, Christ meditation (visualizing Christ in the heart and about 5 feet away in all six directions), and gratitude (for everything happening, through for instance repeating the word “thanks” as a mantra) – and it seems that they are slowly coming back. There is a quite different embodiment that comes from heart-centered practices, a different sense of engagement in the world.

There are many ways of talking about this, and I am only scratching the surface here as with everything else (and am obviously far behind many others who have explored this).

Where inquiry and basic sitting practice gives insight and clarity, heart-centeredness gives engagement. The first is a zero/first person relationship with God, and the second a second person relationship with God. One gives the context, the other the content. One gives clarity and space, the other fullness and richness. One gives equanimity, the other joy, gratitude and compassion.

And both seem needed, at least in my case.

There is a continuing deepening into the heart and living from the heart possible, before and after a nondual awakening.

The Simplest Way

 

The simplest way to Enlightenment/God Realization is to see everything as Buddha Mind/God. Every phenomena is the manifestation of God/Buddha Mind.

Whatever we see as “not God” is exactly where we are stuck. Whenever I resist an experience, there is suffering. When I fully experience it, it reveals itself as bliss.

It is very simple, but not easy. When awareness is exclusively identified with the small self, it naturally functions dualistically – which creates a filter preventing us to directly experience Existence. When awareness awakens to its own nature – and (often later) to Big Mind – it is free to function in a more transdual way. There is no separation and a perception of the radience of all phenomena. And this more transdual view is brought into more and more areas of life, until everything is revealed as God – in all situations.

This gives us a good guideline for long-term and everyday practices.

Yes

 

The practice of saying “yes” is suggested in several traditions – one example is Chogyam Trungpa.

I notice that right now, even that is too much. It is extra. When I drop the “yes”, I am where it is pointing to.

Footnote: This of course is always changing. What works in one inner/outer situation, is extra in another. Right now, just being the experiences as the arise, unfold, fade, is sufficient. It is beyond simple. No extra is needed.

Tools & Situations

 

Any tool is of value and use in certain inner/outer situations, and of less use in other.

I find that many of the tools that were useful for me in the past, now often seem crude – they seem extra.

Counting the breath has been a useful tool. Now, it is often too noisy. It is extra.

Being with my experiences was a useful tool into letting go of resistance. Now, being with is too much of a separation. Why be with when I can be the experience.

Saying “yes” to Existence as it manifests here/now may be useful. But for me, it is extra. It is an effort that brings me away from just being the experiences here/now.

Doing it for Myself

 

As I mentioned in a previous posting, it has become very clear to me that everything I do, I do for myself. Always. I can make up a story that I am doing it due to external circumstances, but when I look into it, I see that I am doing it only for myself. This is a liberating realization.

Some examples…

  • Paying taxes
    The story is that I pay it because I “have” to. “They make me do it”. The reality is that I choose to do it, because I don’t want the trouble that comes with not doing it. I do it for myself.

  • Doing someone a favor
    The story is that I do it for them, and there can be a substory that I “have” to do it even if it is inconvenient for me or I don’t want to. The reality is that I do it to either avoid trouble (unpleasantness in the relationship) or because I experience a connection with the person and it gives me joy to do something for her/him. I do it for myself.

  • I give free Breema sessions
    The story could be that I do it for them, that I am selfless and noble. The reality is that I do it because it gives me so much – both during the session and in connecting with people. I do it for myself.

  • I go to an event I don’t want to go to
    The story is that I go because I “have” to go, it is expected of me. The reality is that I go because I either don’t want the possibly unpleasant consequences by not going (disapproval etc) or because I expect to get something out of it. And I have judged this to be more important than the drawbacks of going. Again, I do it for myself.

Of course, for some of these – such as attending an event we don’t really want to attend – the choice may be different when we realize our real intentions. When we inquire into it, we may choose a different action. In other cases, inquiring just clarifies why we do it and dissipates any sense of ambivalence that may be there.

There is an exercise from Nonviolent Communication that can be very helpful here, along with Byron Katie’s inquiry process…

  1. Make a list of your top ten least favorable things to do
  2. Write a sentence for each one of these in the format “I have to … because …” (this is the story you tell yourself).
  3. Write another sentence for each in the format “I choose to … because …” (this is reality).

And from this, there are three typical outcomes…

  1. I see that I really want to do it, and the sense of ambivalence is dissipated. I stop blaming circumstances and see that I do it for myself. My attitude changes.
  2. I see that my reasons for doing it does not hold up, and I stop doing it. My action changes.
  3. I find another way of doing it that is more aligned with what is comfortable for me. The way I do it changes.

Partnership

 

I was reminded of how we are always in partnership with Existence, whether we recognize it or not. Even after we realize the seamless whole of the inner and outer world, there can be a sense of partnership – because there are still distinctions.

For instance in a spiritual practice/deepening, there is always a partnership between what we perceive as “me” and the rest of Existence. We make ourselves available to Existence, and can recognize the nature of mind (spacious awareness) and move into a more transdual view – into Big Mind. This is the case whether it appears that we are doing it “on our own” (as in Zen) or whether it is supported by “transmission” (as in Waking Down or through the deekshas).

In either case, Existence makes it available to itself. And in either case, the realizations has to be clarified, deepened and lived through this life.

Integral Practice

 

Current practice…

  • Breema (bodywork, self-breemas, principles)
  • Being with what is (asking myself Can I be with what I am experiencing right now? – from Rapahel Kushnir)
  • Inquiry 1 (nature of mind)
  • Inquiry 2 (Byron Katie)
  • Relationships (friends + intimate)
  • Shamata/Vipassana
  • Deekshas (just started)
  • Work (engagement in the world)
  • Social change work (NWEI courses at workplaces)
  • Nature (hiking, backpacking, some deep ecology group activities)
  • journaling (here and in physical journal)
  • Framework (AQAL model, integral framework)
  • Visualizations (health, well-being, view)
  • Exercise (walking, biking, hiking, backpacking, some strength)
  • Nutrition (whole simple foods, listening to the body)
  • Just breathing, walking, standing, sitting, talking – being and living and experiencing

Evolutionary Process?

 

Living here on the West Coast, it definitely seems that we are at the cusp of an evolutionary shift – more and more people seem to have different forms of life-transforming awakenings. They may not be full blown and stable awakenings into/as Big Mind, but a taste and an opening in that direction.

And there are so many techniques that really works…

Waking Down In Mutuality

Most people have their “second birth” within a year, from what I am told. For me, the shift happened only a couple of months after engaging in it more fully. There is an awakening to the Absolute, the nature of mind, and a rich, sensual, intimate sense of no separation with all phenomena. It seems permanent, and it is definitely unfolding. It is not anywhere near a full Enlightenment, but it is a taste – it is a little opening into it.
www.wakingdown.org

Byron Katie’s Inquiry Process

A simple process of inquiring into our beliefs, which makes it impossible to believe in them anymore. We are freed from thoughts and ideas and the confusion believing in them brings about, and can live from the nature of mind – from effortless spacious clarity, wisdom and compassion.
www.thework.org

Big Mind Process

An exploration process of the different ways the mind can manifest, on personal and transpersonal levels. It leads us into the transpersonal – Big Mind – view, and helps us see that it is always available. A little shift is enough. The Big Mind process can be used in many different ways, from healing on a personal level to connecting with and exploring Existence from the view of the Buddha Mind.
www.bigmind.org

Breema

A practice that takes the form of bodywork. It allows us to connect with Big Mind, in a very rich and full way.
www.breema.org

And among the many other techniques and approaches, here is one that I just heard about….

Deeksha

This seems quite similar to Waking Down in Mutuality, especially in terms of the shift – and the speed and way it occurs.
www.livinginjoy.org

This is definitely a cultural shift and transformation, and may even be an evolutionary shift for our species. Who knows. I am about to read Translucent Revolution which is about just this topic.

What this means is that the leading edge may consist of more people – at least in terms of the states they are dipped into if not the level they are consistently (yet) at – although the majority of humanity will still operate from red (egocentric), blue (absolutism) and orange (modernism) levels in Spiral Dynamics terms.