When you squeeze an orange

 

When you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out — because that’s what’s inside. When you are squeezed, what comes out is what is inside.
– Wayne Dyer

That’s one of the functions of being squeezed. It helps me see what’s inside. It helps me see what’s left.

Do I still resist experience? Do I get caught up in stories, acting as if they are true?

Being squeezed helps me peel off what’s not aligned with reality, truth and love – especially when I am receptive.

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Joker

 

heath-ledger-joker_l

I watched The Dark Night a couple of days ago.

This is where I expect myself to say whether I liked it or not, and what I liked about it, but does it really matter? 

I find it more interesting to mention one thing that stood out for me in the movie… the trickster role of the joker. 

It’s the schemers that put you where you are. You were a schemer, you had plans, and uh, look where that got you. I just did what I do best. I took your plan and I turned it on itself. Look what I did to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets. Hm? You know what, you know what I noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying. If tomorrow I tell the press that a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all part of the plan. But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!

The joker plays the role of the trickster in the movie. The one who upsets our plans. Just as life does. 

Where batman and the officials try to keep everything orderly and going according to plan, life – and the joker – reminds them that there is another side to life. We are not in control, even when it seems that we are. Life is just aligning with our shoulds for a short while. 

Said another way, when we attach to stories as true, we go into a should about life. And life doesn’t follow our shoulds. Life doesn’t follow our opinions. Life is far more kind than that. Life shows us that our stories are just that, stories. They have no substance. No reality, even when we try to act as if they are real. They have no truth, apart from in the most limited sense of sometimes being useful guidelines for how to orient and function in the world. 

Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh and you know the thing about chaos, it’s fair.

Yes, chaos – or life showing up differently from our shoulds – is fair. It goes against any and all stories we hold as true. And it does so for all of us. 

You just couldn’t let me go could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible aren’t you? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness, and I won’t kill you, because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.

The joker is wise enough to recognize that both are needed. We need our stories. They do have a function as guidelines for how to function in the world. But we also need life to go against our stories, as it will, to remind us that they are only stories. Life is infinitely kind and patient in that way. 

Batman: Why do you want to kill me? 
The Joker: [laughs] Kill you? I don’t want to kill you! What would I do without you? Go back to ripping off mob dealers? No, no, you… you complete me.

And by the way, I did like his green vest. I have a similar one myself. 

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Following ones heart, and discomfort

 

I went to a mini-retreat today with a woman Adya has asked to teach. Among her many very helpful pointers was this one about following ones heart and discomfort. It is slightly elaborated on from own experience.

If the small quiet voice (my intuition, heart) tells me one thing, and I do something else (usually because of a strong belief), there is naturally discomfort. I am out of alignment with what I know, somewhere, is the right choice of action in the situation. In my experience, this feels like the depth is wrong, even if the surface looks OK. The discomfort here is not only a reminder to follow the voice, but also comes from wearing away resistance to following the voice – the beliefs preventing me from following it in certain situations.

Also, when I do follow the quiet voice, there can sometimes be discomfort. I follow the voice, the action clashes with my familiar identity, and there is discomfort. As above, this discomfort comes from wearing away of identities and beliefs. But here, the depth is experienced as OK and the discomfort is more on the surface.

This is all happening within and as what we are, in both cases. It is all perfectly OK. It is just that following the quiet voice, and allowing identifications to be worn off by following it, is usually more fun as who we are – as human beings in the world.

Beliefs, knots and orphans

 

What are the relationships among beliefs, identities, knots and disowned parts or orphans?

Here is a quick sequence…

  1. We believe a story. It is taken as real, substantial, somehow reflecting something inherent in the world. The grain of truth in its reversals are downplayed or ignored, and the grain of truth in the initial story is blown up and bolstered, made to appear as more than just a relative truth of practical value only.
  2. This belief creates an identity. We form an identity as someone who takes that story as true. And the content of the story may also form an identity for us. For instance, if I believe that people should be considerate, my own identity is as someone who either is, or at least want to be, considerate.
  3. Whenever there is an identification with a story or an identity, there is friction between this story/identity and how the world shows up. There is a gap between our stories of how things should be, and how they are or can be. And from here, a whole cascade of things happens, including fueling of resistance and certain emotions and behaviors. And since there is an identification with the story and identity fueling it, there will also be an identification with (most of) its effects. It is all taken as I, as intimately personal, as who I am.
  4. The belief creates friction, which in turn has certain effects, and together they all form a knot. This knot is the whole conglomerate of beliefs and identities, and the patterns of resistance, emotions and behaviors associated with it.
  5. This is where the orphans come into the picture. The obvious orphans are for instance the emotions created by the friction, which are usually resisted and disowned to a certain extent. Resistance itself may also be resisted, so this too becomes an orphan. And other orphans include the grain of truth in the reversals of the initial story and identity. Each of their reversals have a grain of truth in them, and this grain of truth it also resisted and disowned.

I believe I should be healthy, so form an identity as someone who is – or at least want to – be healthy. I am not healthy, so there is a friction between what is and what should be. This creates various emotions, such as frustration, anger, sadness, hopelessness, grief, and so on. It also fuels behaviors to avoid triggering a noticing of the discrepancy between what is and what should be, and the emotions created by this discrepancy. All of this creates a knot, and much of it is resisted to a certain extent. I try to escape it, avoid it, disown it. So the orphans here are the resistance itself, the emotions triggered, and also the grain of truth in the reversals of the initial story and identity. To welcome these orphans back into the warmth, I can be with the resistance and emotions in a heartfelt way, as if they would never change. And I can investigate the truth in the reversals of the initial story and identity.

Welcoming the orphans back

 

Draft… 

Life invites us to welcome our orphans back, all the contents of our experience we resist, push away, disown, tell ourselves are not there, try to escape.

Whenever any of these are triggered, whether it is pain, emotions, qualities about ourselves that don’t fit with our conscious self-image, or something else, we are invited to welcome them back, to be with them in a wholehearted and heartfelt way, as we would with lost children or vulnerable animals. They are orphans seeking a home, and we are the only one who can give them that home.

It seems that there area few main ways these orphans come up in our lives, knocking at the door wanting to be let in…

One is whenever there is a friction between stories of how life is and should be, when life shows up differently from how our stories tells us it should be. This triggers resistance, emotions, memories, scenarios and so on…. all things that come out of certain beliefs and identities that are at odds with the world, which they all are. Life shows me my knots, and I typically resist seeing them and welcoming them with open arms.

Another is whenever there is a reduced ability to resist, through illness, stress, altered states or something else. I find that when I am sick, or even just off one way or another, these orphans stand knocking at the door. My usual defenses are lowered or fall away, and now they are there right in front of me.

Finally, we can actively go out and look for these orphans. They have been left out in the cold long enough, so it is time to welcome them back into the warmth. This can happen through different practices such as meditation, or in an even more active way, as I am discovering now, through breathwork. We can also sift through our memories to find the knots, and also our scenarios about the future. Or, we can just notice where our mind goes on its own, because it naturally goes to our knots. Whenever there is a distraction, or day dream, or obsessing about something, there is typically a knot right there. A knot is a combination of a belief and its effects, including emotions, and this is where the orphans are.

If I don’t feel at home, there is a good chance there are a lot of these orphans in my life… experiences such as emotions, memories, scenarios, and more that want to be let into the house. My own feeling of not being quite at home, not quite at ease, feeling separate, those all come from these orphans who are not quite welcomed home, who are not quite at ease, who are disowned and separate.

Attention going to knots

 

Another revisited theme: attention going to knots.

Knots are made up of beliefs and their corresponding emotions and habitual patterns, including behavioral ones. There is a belief in a story, a friction between the story of what is (or was, or may be) and this story, corresponding emotions, and certain behaviors.

And attention tends to go to these knots, which makes it more difficult for awareness to notice itself, and its content as awareness too. We notice it in everyday life, and also during sitting practice.

Why does attention go to knots?

There may be several ways of talking about it…

First, there is discomfort in several ways.

  • Whenever there is a belief, there is a discrepancy between what we are (awake void and form) and what we take ourselves to be (as defined by the belief and its corresponding identity), which brings a sense of uneasiness.
  • Whenever there is friction between our stories of what is and what should be, there is discomfort.
  • Whenever there is a belief, there is resistance to experience, which gives discomfort.

Then, an impulse to change the situation to relieve the discomfort.

  • We can narrow the gap between the story of what is and what should be, by changing what is or what should be.
  • We can change our relationship to the stories themselves, for instance by inquiring into them allowing a release of identification from them.
  • Or we can ignore the discomfort and the impulse to change one or both of the above, in which case the misery is likely to deepen. Also, if we only work on the first one, we are caught in the ongoing drama of what is and what should be, which is fine but also somewhat stressful.

And to change it, attention needs to go there.

Right here now, I can see these patterns play themselves out.

In one sense, it is all an invitation for awakening, for beliefs to be examined and unravel and Ground to notice itself. It is how Big Mind first “loses itself” by identifying with just an aspect of itself, how it gives itself an impulse and motivation for awakening, and also guides itself to awakening – back to noticing itself as Big Mind. These dynamics are three in one: forgetting, motivation for change, and a guide for awakening.

And in anther sense, it is an evolutionary mechanism which increases the chances of survival for the individual and the species. There is a discrepancy between what is (circumstances) and what should be (health and well-being of this individual and its group, so then an impulse to reduce this discrepancy, which in many cases – and appropriately so – means to change things in the world to create more favorable circumstances for this human self and its group.

So this simple dynamic has a beautiful complexity to it all around. Here and now, there is an infinite number of aspects and processes to explore. And in the bigger picture, we see how it is Big Mind forgetting about itself, seeking itself, and guiding itself to notice itself again. And also how it is a mechanism that increases the chances of survival for the individual and the species.

And exploring the two last ones, we also see that the survival aspect has (mostly) to do with changing circumstances, and the awakening aspect has to do with examining these dynamics themselves and also beliefs.

Both are essential in their own way, also in our own life.

Two ways of losing a belief: friction and investigation

 

There are two ways to lose a belief, and they often go hand in hand.

One is through friction.

I have a belief telling me how life is or should be, and an identity telling me what I am and am not. In both cases, I split life right down the middle, allowing one region of the landscape and not the rest.

When life inevitably shows up outside of my belief or identity, there is a friction between my belief and life, which is experienced a uncomfortable… as stress, something being off, suffering, anger, fear, and so on.

This friction, if it continues, slowly wears off (and out!) the belief. Over time, constantly at odds with life, it has to go, in spite of even the most persistent resistance. It is just too obvious that life is more than my belief, and I more than the identity. My personality may not like it, especially at first, but there is not much choice there either.

The other is through investigation.

I notice the warning signs of holding onto a belief or identity (stress), I identify the belief or set of beliefs behind it, and investigate its effects, what would be without it, and the grain of truth in each of the reversals of the initial story. This too allows it to fall away, although it can be faster and less painful, even fun.

In the first case, I take the side of my habitual beliefs and identities, and it may be a drawn out and painful affair.

In the second case, I take the side of life inviting the belief to go, and it becomes more playful, have a sense of more ease, and can even be fun and enjoyable.

Although most of the time, there seems to be a mix of the two. There is the friction between life and belief, and the stress and resistance that comes with it. And there is the ease of the investigation, when that is finally engaged with.

The gifts of misidentification, suffering, friction and resistance

 

When we take ourselves to be a separate self, it is natural to want to avoid suffering and friction. And if we identify ourselves as a spiritual practitioner, at least in some traditions, we don’t like resistance and misidentification much either. In fact, our whole practice is often aimed at getting rid of it.

As long as we want to get rid of it, or anything, we are stuck in it. We are identified with content of awareness (resistance, beliefs), which is exactly what we were trying to escape.

And when we finally see this, really see and feel it, allowing even this identification to go, we are fine with all of it… which is also when it tends to fall away.

It is tricky. Wanting something to change is what traps us. And only by fully and wholeheartedly allowing it all can it change, but by then it doesn’t matter anymore. We are doing it for another reason… because we see we don’t have a choice, and because we want to be consciously more closely aligned with what is.

One of the ways to be more consciously aligned with what is, and to allow it all, even the suffering and resistance, is to explore it from the emptiness and form sides more in depth.

From the emptiness side, it is all OK. It is the temporary form play of emptiness. All forms are revealed as inherently neutral. Or as God manifesting and exploring itself, as God’s will.

From the form side, we can explore the genuine gifts of what we resists.

At one level, we see that suffering is an invitation to wake up. When we are not fully awake to who and what we are, there is suffering.

At another level, we see that the misidentification is a part of the play of God. It is God temporarily forgetting what it is, and exploring itself as some small realms of its form aspect (as a separate individual.) It is beautiful, a beautiful play and exploration, even when suffering comes up because of it.

And resistance is an inherent part of misidentification. When we take ourselves to be a separate self, as a region of the world of form, resistance is what allows it in the first place.

Also, resistance and misidentification is what allows for an exploration of parts of the form realm in more detail. It filters a lot out, so that some regions of form come into the foreground and there is a deeper and more intimate familiarity with it. It is part of God’s exploration of itself.

In a very real way, to resist any of this, or to put it down in any way, is to resist and put down God.