Seeking love, and manipulation

 

When I seek love, acceptance, and appreciation (LAA as Byron Katie calls it), I become someone who manipulates.

I act in certain ways to manipulate others to give me what I want, or what I think I want.

I become nice, avoid conflict, say what I think they want to hear, so they’ll like me, love me, and appreciate me.

Looked at superficially, it doesn’t look so bad. What’s bad about being nice? About being nice to others so they are nice back?

And when I examine it more in detail, it looks quite ugly. I see the manipulation. When I do this, I use others to get what I want. It’s even violent.

That’s what inquiry is about, of course, looking at it more in detail. Seeing what’s actually and already there.

And when I see what’s already here, in more detail, it tends to change.

I can use the Living Inquiries to examine this.

What does it say about me? What person would act in this way?

I am unloved. I lack in love. I need love (from others). I am deficient.

Someone who is insecure. Still a child. Confused. Inauthentic.

Can I find the threat in having someone not like me, love me, appreciate me?

Can I find the threat in X? Conflict. Being authentic. Not acting so people will like me.

Can I find X? (Me, the one who is unloved, deficient, insecure, still a child, inauthentic.)

Can I find the command to X? Be nice. Be loved. Be appreciated. Be accepted.

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New Age as stepping stone

 

We are all drawn to what we need in the moment, and it’s all stepping stones – phases of a continuing process of unfolding.

As so many, I went through an early New Age phase where I was into Shirley Maclaine (!), Shakti Gawain and some others. It was important to me as it opened up my world and gave me permission to be “weird”. The phase didn’t last for very long, but I am grateful for it. I even re-watched Out on a Limb again last year as it made an impression when I first saw it at the beginning of my own exploration (this time it was mildly entertaining).

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Appreciation

 

I notice I find appreciation in at least four ways:

I can find appreciation for what’s desirable in life from a conventional view. The usual gratitude lists are good here. I have food, shelter, friends. I am grateful for the sun, snow, song of the birds, good music.

I can find the silver linings in what’s undesirable, again from a conventional view. There may be something desirable in it here now, or what’s happening may be a stepping stone to something desirable in the future. I may learn from it, grow, find a closer and more satisfying connection with myself or others, be humbled in a good way, find empathy for myself or others, compassion, insights and so on.

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Appreciation and differentiation

 

When I differentiate, it can happen within the context of appreciation or not.

If I differentiate – using thought to sort things out – within appreciation, I find that it tends to invite in curiosity and receptivity. I am more free to explore different views and takes on the topic, find the validity in each, and ways these views may fit together into a larger picture. If I am engaging with someone else, there tends to also be more of a sense of us and a recognition of myself in the other. A sense of exploration and partnership, whether the other person is open to that or not.

If I differentiate and it is not within a context of appreciation, it can be quite neutral. But the stage is also set for more easily going in the direction of a rigid view and a closed heart. Instead of a more open exploration, I may go into justifying or defending a particular view. I may go into polarization. I may experience separation to others and the views they happen to use as a guideline.

Either one is of course fine. And the differentiation without appreciation may be an effective tool in some specific situations. (Tough love, but there can be appreciation even there, just not expressed so directly.)

But in general, differentiation within the context of appreciation seems to be more helpful. When the heart comes in and supports the mind, there is more receptivity and curiosity there, and a willingness to explore the validity in a wider range of views. In some ways, there is a certain intelligence that comes from the heart supporting the mind.

Even when the differentiation comes up with the same in both cases, it is at least more enjoyable to do it within the context of appreciation and a deeper sense of us.

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Facets, paths and tools

 

Whenever I take a story as true, I make life much smaller than it is.

I identify as something within content of experience, so lose sight of what I am. (That which experience happens within and as.) I identify as something much smaller than what I am as a human being, so have to resist parts of who I am and live from a smaller pallete. I have an idea that I know how others – and life – should behave. And in all of this, I try to limit God.

So when it comes to growing and waking up, there is no need to assume that my limited experiences says anything about how it will be for me in the future, or how it should be for others.

I may have experiences with facets of what I am – such as emptiness and fullness and how it is lived through this human self. I may be familiar with awareness as a field with no center and no periphery, and how this human self functions in that content. I may have experiences with infinite love and how it is to live within and from it. I may be somewhat familiar with who I am at the soul level, with the alive presence, brilliance, luminous darkness, and so on. I may have practical insights into these things and much more.

Yet all of this comes from a very limited experience and just one path. There is no reason to assume that life is limited to this, and every reason to welcome a far richer terrain – and find a deep apprecation and gratitude for the diversity in how all of this is expressed through many different humans and their always unique paths.

Receptivity

 

Exploring Bernadette Roberts’ views on the different traditions yesterday was an uncomfortable experience for me. There was a sense of contraction and tension coming up, obviously because I have some beliefs about how she should relate to those traditions.

I had the thought that she should be more receptive and have more appreciation, as I know from my own  teachers and friends – and sometimes myself. And then I saw that the advice was for myself.

It reminded me of how important receptivity is for me and in my own process. A receptivity of mind, heart and body, and in relationships to myself, others and the wider world.

I notice over and over the shift from tension to receptivity, and what happens there.

When there is a receptivity of mind, there is a quiet sincerity in exploring the truth in any statement and view, the truth in their reversals, and also a receptivity in seeing it all as a mental field creation. These stories are invaluable in a practical way, for my life in the world, and are free from value beyond that.

When there is a receptivity of heart, it is there for whatever arises… this human self, others, life, situations. There is a receptive kindness there, independent of the likes and dislikes of the personality.

When there is a receptivity of body, there is an allowing of experience and emotions, and this gives a sense of nurturing fullness, and of healing at an emotional level.

And from all of this, there is appreciation. Appreciation for my human self, with all its quirks and wounds. Appreciation for others, as they are. Appreciaiton for stories, for the grain of truth in each of them. Appreciation for situations and experiences, including the most difficult ones in my past.

Filtered appreciation

 

I am using the subquestion what am I not able to appreciate when I believe that thought? more, which helps me discover things about appreciation. Mainly, that beliefs and identifications makes it impossible to appreciate certain things about the world. They filter appreciation as well as a great deal of other things.

When something falls within a belief or identity, I can appreciate it, but it is a slightly compulsive form of appreciation. I know that the world is only temporarily showing up within the boundaries I have set up for it, so I appreciate it, but also want to hold onto it. There is a tightness in it.

And when something falls outside of a belief or an identity, rubbing up against a should, it is certainly not appreciated.

When there is a release from attachment to story and the identity, there is a wider embrace of life and also a wider circle of appreciation. I can now appreciate what used to fall within the belief, but without or with less rigidity. And I can also appreciate, in a genuine and sincere way, what used to fall outside of the belief.

Said another way, I am free to appreciate life whether it aligns with that particular story and its corresponding identity or not.

There is nothing wrong with not appreciating certain things. It happens inevitably when a belief and its corresponding identity clashes with the world.

But after having lived with it for a certain time, there is often an impulse to move beyond. We realize we have created a prison for ourselves, which has helped us develop and get familiar with certain areas of this human self, but now it is time to move on.

Marcel Marceau

 

marceau-sized.jpg

It was an unforgettable experience to see Marcel Marceau live a few years back. More than almost anyone I can think of, he was able to remind me of the magic of everyday life, and evoke the wonder and awe of the innocent child that is still here in each of us – revealed when the grip on beliefs and identities are released for a moment.

In the receptive mind and heart is appreciation for life, as it is here and now. And we love those who remind us of that.

Stuck in the absolute and the perfection of it all, preventing us from more fully appreciating the perfection of it all

 

When we are stuck in the absolute, in the idea of all as the field of awake void and form, and all as inherently perfect as it is,  we – ironically enough – don’t fully appreciate the perfection of it all.

We tend to be unable to fully appreciate and meet people where they are, with all that is real to them.

This attachment to the idea of the absolute can be there whether the field of awake void and form is noticed and alive in immediate awareness or not. As Byron Katie says, we are awake or not to a thought, and in this case, we are not fully awake to the limited truth in that idea, the truths in the reversals of it, and all those ideas as just ideas.

When the attachment to that thought falls away, there is a more wholehearted appreciation of what is, including an ability to meet people where they are with all that is real for them, and their desires and longings.
Read on for the initial draft which started as something else, and has more details…

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The unmanifest is always unmanifest, but the manifest is not always human

 

Awakened is not inherently better than not awakened. Not at all. It is only when there is no awakening that it can appear so.

The unmanifest is always the unmanifest, whether it is awake to itself or not, and no matter how the manifest is manifesting. It is always there, as that which space and time and the whole world of form unfolds within, to, and as.

But the manifest is manifesting as a human only rarely. It is a rare occasion, so why not embrace it, live it, appreciate it, as it is? Why even seek awakening, unless you can’t help it?

Experiences as guests, living their own life

 

Seeing experiences as guest can be a useful (and rich) analogy.

Any experience is a guest, which lives its own life and comes and goes on its own.

We can of course invite certain guests, and discourage others, but that only works to a limited extent. We can invite happiness, through gratitude inventories, rejoicing in other’s happiness, acts of kindness and so on, but happiness still lives its own life… it comes and goes on its own, on its own time. No guest stays around permanently. We can discourage pain, yet pain also lives its own life, coming and going on its own and on its own time.

When guests are around, we can also be different types of hosts. We can cling to some guests, trying to convince them to stay around longer. We can be nasty to other guests, trying to get them to leave. But again, that has only limited effect, and is also quite stressful. As before, the guests live their own life, they come and go on their own time.

We can also be a courteous host, allowing the guests to come and go on their own, as they do anyway. We can find peace with them arriving, hanging around, and leaving, on their own time. We can even find appreciation for them, and their coming and going.

The ultimate hospitality is that of Ground which inherently allows any and all experiences to live their own life and come and go on their own. Mimicking this hospitality, we may even eventually discover ourselves to (already and always) be that Ground… this awake void allowing any forms which are not other than the awake emptiness itself.

In a relative sense, it is stressful and creates a lot of drama when we act as less than hospital hosts… it goes for our external life in the world, and also for our experiences. When we act with more hospitality, allowing the presence of the guests and recognizing that they live their own life, there is more peace and even appreciation for them. And it may even invite Ground to notice itself as Ground, as ultimate hospitality.

Happiness and appreciation

 

A few things about happiness and appreciation…

Happiness, as commonly defined, is dependent on external circumstances. I have stories about what I need and want and what would make me happy, so when life aligns with those stories I experience happiness. But it doesn’t last. It is the peak of waves that also have valleys. It is a guest, that lives its own life. We can do things to invite it in, of course, but it still comes and goes on its own, and on its own time.

Appreciation is a little different, and can happen from who and what we are. From who we are, as individuals, it comes from a wide embrace of life, and a deeply seen and felt realization that everything that happens here in my life is universally human. No matter what happens, I can appreciate it for that. From what we are, as spirit, it comes from the joy of experiencing itself, independent of its content.

And then there are related aims, such as finding peace with what is (which invites appreciation), and being with what is (which invites finding peace with it). And the being with includes being with anything that arises, including resistance and whatever else may be going on. It is a being with any visitor, independent of who or what they are. It is the ultimate hospitality, which mirrors (and allows us to recognize ourselves as) the Ground of awake emptiness which already and always allows any content.

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Happiness and appreciation

 

I have enjoyed reading some of the posts on happiness over at William Harryman’s blog.

As with so much else, it can be look at from a few different perspectives and levels.

Happiness at the belief level

All the ancient wisdom on happiness, now gradually rediscovered in modern psychology, are of course valid. They work… at least for some people some of the time. But it works because the practices themselves work with our belief systems.

For instance, creating a list of things we are genuinely grateful for does, usually, bring a sense of happiness. And it does so because is brings attention to things in our life that makes up happy. Or rather, we have beliefs about what we want and what would make us happy, so when the existence of those things are brought into the foreground, it tends to trigger happiness. Or even more bluntly, gratitude inventories trigger stories which in turn triggers a sense of contentment and happiness.

I believe friendship, reasonable health, shelter, good food, free time, and opportunity to pursue interests, is what I want and would make me happy, so when I bring attention to the presence of all of these, it triggers happiness.

Similarly, acting kindly triggers happiness, at least partly because it gives us a sense of intimacy, connection and supporting life. We believe intimacy and connection would make us happy, our actions bring up a sense of intimacy and connection, so happiness is triggered.

This all works at the level of beliefs.

What this practice, and similar ones, do not do, is help us question the beliefs themselves.

The limits of conventional happiness practice

As useful as conventional happiness practice, as promoted by Seligman and others, can be, it also has its limits. The most obvious one is that it is dependent on circumstances, on content of awareness… and so, is precarious. It also functions at the level of the personality, so is dependent on the personality being happy (which sometimes is a tall order…!)

Happiness beyond beliefs, as appreciation for life as it is

It may sound radical, even cold, when put this way. But there is a far more rich happiness to be found if we question the beliefs themselves. A quiet happiness, an appreciation for life as it is, not dependent on circumstances.

So far, the most effective tool I have found for this is The Work

It releases beliefs from stories, even the most ingrained ones such as happiness depends on…, revealing a free mind receptive to what is, appreciating what is… loving what is, independent of the content of what is, including independent of what the personality is up to.

It reveals the current of quiet bliss that is always there, and some times covered up by dust kicked up by beliefs.

Together

In real life, it is of course good to do both. The gratitude inventory and other tools are great for allowing happiness to surface when we are still caught up in beliefs. And the exploration of the beliefs themselves reveals what is there behind the dust from wrestling with life and stories… the quiet current of bliss, joy, appreciation… the bliss of simply being… experiencing… of life, exactly as it is, independent of circumstances, independent of content…

Neutrality and appreciation

 

When beliefs are gone, the inherent neutrality in any situation is revealed.

From the emptiness side, we see that it is just emptiness dancing, the play of God.

From the form side, we see that any story about it, and all its reversals, all have a grain of truth in them.

Both reveal the inherent neutrality in the situation.

But what happens when all situations are revealed as inherently neutral?

What happens, at least in my experience, is a deep appreciation for life, for existence, for the world of form, for the play of God, and for this particular life. A deep gratitude and appreciation for it, as it is, independent of its particulars.

Beyond appreciation, there is also a quiet and deep joy in the freedom of the play of life and God, as revealed here and now. And beyond this, a joy in the freedom of the play of stories and their reversals, all revealing some relative truth.