If you see life as a laboratory of your own spiritual evolution

 

If you think life is about getting what you want, then life will seem to be against you.

But if you see life as a laboratory of your own spiritual evolution, then all of creation becomes the supporting cast, and you will always, always feel supported.

Because the Universe just has this uncanny knack for sending us the perfect experiences to “build character”.

– Nathan W. on Facebook

Life is set up that way. We operate on beliefs and identifications, these are out of alignment with reality, and we will inevitably find ourselves in situations where life makes this misalignment very obvious to us.

We experience this misalignment as discomfort and even suffering. Blaming the world for the discomfort tends to amplify it. If we instead use it as a reminder to look at our own beliefs and identifications, it can be a support in our own healing, maturing, and even awakening.

Most of us use a combination of these two approaches, and the more aware we become the pattern of each, the more we tend to naturally use the second.

Clarity looks sane

 

Clarity looks sane.

And if something I do does not look sane, mature, and healthy in a conventional sense, it is an invitation to find the validity in how it is perceived by others, see if I am coming from a belief, and find what is more honest for me than that belief.

Even if what is honest for me is a little different from conventional views, I can find ways to live from it that still appears sane.

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Boring, repetetive, abstract

 

As soon as what I write or talk about start to feel a little boring, repetitive and abstract, it shows me that I am too quick to go into familiar stories. It is a nudge to look a little closer, to find what is more honest for me, what is alive in immediate experience.

And to be honest, that happens quote often when I write posts in this blog. The impulse to write about something comes from a genuine, alive and juicy experience and insight, which is then followed by going into familiar stories about it. I may refine those stories a little, take them a little further, but there is not so much juice and aliveness there. And I am missing out of an opportunity to explore it further in immediacy, into unfamiliar territoriy, and possibly surprise myself.

I get bored with it. And I am sure others do to.

It is a good thing. This is another type of feedback that I wouldn’t want to be without. It is life being kind. A gentle and persistent nudge, an open and continuing invitation to be more honest.

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Noticing symptoms

 

There are many ways to get familiar with the symptoms of taking a story as true, of identifying with a viewpoint, identity or role, of taking our imagination as true. Mainly, it happens through curiosity and either formal/directed inquiry (the work, the big mind process) or an open and open ended inquiry.

I can get familiar with the general symptoms of taking a story as true, such as a sense of unease, of something being off or wrong, stress, physical tension, not being home, sense of separation, a sense of being a separate I located at a particular position within the field of experience, making others wrong and myself right, defending a position, a sense of precariousness and so on. And I can also become familiar with the symptoms of taking a specific story as true and when and in which situations that story tends to be triggered.

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Feedback from myself and others

 

Life gives wonderful feedback.

One of the ways it gives clear feedback is when I am caught up in a belief.

And that feedback can come from myself or from others.

The feedback from myself is very familiar. When I am caught up in a belief, any belief, there is a sense of precariousness, unease, stress, tension, separation, compulsiveness, and so on.

The feedback from others is also very familiar. When I cam caught up in a belief, I act in ways that seems other than sane, mature, wise and kind in a conventional sense. Others notice, and if I am honest, I notice that they notice. They will also let me know if I am receptive and ask.

In both cases, I can look for being caught up in a belief, taking a story (a viewpoint, identity) as true. And I can find what is more true for me, through a sincere, heartfelt inquiry into that belief.
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Appearance of truth

 

When we believe a story, it is our mind’s job to make it appear true, and it does a pretty good job at it.

Some of the ways I notice this happens…

  • The mind looks for evidence, and selectively pick out that which supports the initial belief and leaves out (or explain away) that which counters it. The input is filtered.
  • Supporting beliefs are formed and maintained. New beliefs support the initial one.
  • Behaviors flow from beliefs, and these tend to create effects that appear to support the initial belief. Beliefs are sometimes self-fulfilling.
  • Beliefs have certain experiential effects, such as reactive emotions, muscle tension and shallow breath, and these may be taken as a confirmation that the belief is true. It feels true, so it must be true.

Say I believe that people shouldn’t lie.

I can find lots of evidence to support that belief, including people and philosophies who are in agreement. I can find lots of good reasons why people shouldn’t lie, including practical and ethical ones. I support people who speak honestly, and confront those who don’t, so there is a pleasant relationship with the former and an unpleasant one with the latter, which provides more proof for my belief. And whenever people lie, it feels awful, I get tense, sad, angry, reactive, which is just further proof that people shouldn’t lie.

Or I believe that life is hard.

I can easily find evidence for that in the world and my own life. People get sick, starve, are victims of violence, exposed to natural disasters, die, and much more. The news is full of examples, and evidence, for life being hard.

I have stories supporting the one of life being hard. We are all at the mercy of an uncaring universe. We are all tested in this school of life, and either pass or don’t. Life is red in tooth and claw.

I get so bogged down by believing that life is hard, and all the evidence and stories supporting it, that life really feels hard. Life gets hard with that belief. I also choose to not act on things that could make it easier, because what good would it do?

Believing life is hard makes it feel that way, I honestly experience life as hard, daily. Also, whenever people act as if life is not hard, I feel uncomfortable, and whenever life shows up in ways supporting the belief that life is hard I feel relief. And finally, that belief gives that familiar comfortable feel of being somber, honest, hard working, stoic, hard nosed, a realist, and maybe a victim. And all of those makes it feel true. Life is hard, because it feels that way.

Life as Feedback

 

Among the beautiful aspects of Byron Katie’s inquiry process is its simplicity, effectiveness, and the effortless feedback process.

Whenever I am stuck, life will tell me. I believe in a thought, Existence does not conform, I experience contraction, and identify the thought behind it, inquire into it, and cannot take the thought seriously anymore.

It is a process that is tailored specifically for each one of us, showing us our particular hangups – in real and everyday life. Nothing extra is needed.