Adyashanti: Everything you define yourself as is an image

 

Everything you define yourself as is an image. Behind that is not a better version of yourself.

– Adyashanti

I couldn’t help laughing out loud when I read this. As so often, it’s funny because it’s true.

Everything I define myself as is an image. Everything I define anyone or anything as is an image.

And behind that image isn’t a better version of me or any version of me. Behind it is the silent awake mystery that everything – all my experience of myself, others, the world – happens within and as.

There is always a lot more to say about this.

My mind creates an overlay of images and words on my sensory experiences to make sense of it all. These images and words sort the world into me (this human self) and the wider world, and then continues sorting and creating labels and identifications on just about everything. This is essential for us to be able to orient and function in the world. We wouldn’t be here as individuals or a species unless the mind did this.

And yet, these images and words are questions about the world. Suggestions. If we take them as anything more, we misguide and mislead ourselves and create stress and suffering for ourselves and others (we serve as triggers for this in others). They are not complete since what they refer to are different from, more (far more qualities, characteristics, and fluidity), and less (silent mystery) than our words and images.

We can know this to some extent and understand it intellectually. And any time something in us is triggered – any time there is a charged reaction to something – it shows us that something in us doesn’t quite get it yet. That’s OK. It’s natural. It’s the human condition. And it’s good to be aware of.

And if we are so inclined, we can explore what’s happening through inquiry, parts work, energy healing, or any other approach we have access to and find helpful. For me, Living Inquiries (based on Buddhist inquiry), parts work (Voice Dialog, Big Mind process) and Vortex Healing, are the approaches I use most right now.

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What keeps identification in place?

 
Why does mind go into contraction and belief? Why does it identify with thought? How is identification maintained? What keeps it in place? A few things that come to mind:

As infants, we learn it from our parents and those around us. It’s what we do here. Mind receives sensory input through the infant, it learns to identify as the infant, it learns about fears, shoulds, identities, norms, expectations and so on. And it innocently and from love identifies with much or all of this.

As soon as there is an imagined self, and identification as this imagined self, there is fear. Further identifications come in to protect this imagined self. These identifications are with a wide range of identities, viewpoints, fears, hopes, shoulds, expectations and more.

As soon as these are in place, we think (and feel, perceive) that we are getting something out of it. It feels safe. It’s a way to protect this imagined self. There is fear of what would happen if we didn’t have the identification.

We haven’t thoroughly examined the identification. We haven’t examined……

(a) How it’s created. How it’s made up of words, images and sensations.

(b) The consequences of the identification for how we perceive and live our lives.

(c) If it’s true, and what may be more true to us.

(d) If what we think is here is actually here, whether it’s (i) a physical object or being, (ii) a concept (love, delusion, clarity, awareness), (iii) a threat and someone threatened, or (iv) a need, must or compulsion.

It’s all innocent, and from confused love. And it all seems very real as long as it’s unexamined and not seen through. One way through is to welcome the identification that’s here, and notice it’s already welcomed. Find love for it, and recognize it as love. Examine it, and see through it. And to do so with whatever contraction and identification presents itself here and now. How do I recognize an identification? By it’s consequences, and these can include stress, tension, contraction, a sense of separation, a sense of something to defend or maintain. Note: As I write this, I am aware it’s not an easy read. I really wish there was a way for me to write simple, clearly and precisely about this. Sometimes, there seems to be a tradeoff between using an ordinary and conventional language which is easily read, and being more precise. That’s because an everyday language has a lot of assumptions built into it, and the topics I write about here tend to go beyond those assumptions. An accurate and precise language tends to sound awkward and overly technical. And yet, ome people do manage to talk or write simply and precisely, so it is possible. Read More

Can land on any idea

 

The mind can use any thought as a refuge, as a place to land in an attempt to find sense of safety.

It can land on any idea to avoid fear, and avoid feeling what’s here.

The content of the idea doesn’t matter. The mind can just use whatever is available and seems most fool proof.

And that means that it can also use “spiritual” ideas as a landing place, including ideas of awareness, emptiness, and so on.

And there is nothing wrong in this. It’s all innocent and from confused love.

Giving mind permission to stay identified

 

Giving full permission to mind to stay identified – whether it’s another person, oneself, or a subpersonality – is an act of love, and it’s also aligning with reality. Reality already gives mind full permission to stay identified.

As long as mind is identified with a thought saying that nonidentified mind is better, identified mind is struggling with itself, and there is – almost inevitably – a sense of ambivalence or stuckness.

And as soon as mind gives itself full permission to stay identified, or that possibility is considered, there may be some movement. Mind is disoriented by the sudden freedom. Notices that it doesn’t really want to stay identified. And finds a more peaceful and clear intention to shift its allegiance to non-identification.

Adyashanti will sometimes do this, and Barry did it as well in our last session.

Are you ready to shift allegiance to clarity? I don’t know. You are free to do it either way. I won’t judge you. You have complete freedom. Life (God) gives you complete freedom, and there is no judgment either way.

Note: As I mentioned above, life (God) already gives mind full permission to stay identified, and there is no judgment either way. This is not a “trick” in that sense, it’s just pointing out and finding alignment with what’s already here.

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The ego is seeking reality

 

The “ego” wants Spirit. It wants what it is. Innocently.

(a) The “ego” is another name for identified mind, and specifically for (i) the tendency of mind to identify, taking images and thoughts as true, and (ii) what happens when mind identifies.

(b) Identified mind wants something. It wants money, a partner, a nice house, a nice job, respect etc.

(c) When these wants are traced back, I find what identified mind really wants is very simple. It’s love, trust, safety, connection, contentment etc.

(d) The only way to really find this in a satisfying way is for what we are to notice itself. For Spirit (awakeness, presence, love) to notice itself as what’s here. This may happen through recognizing this field of experience as awakeness, and then that what’s noticing it is awakeness itself.

(e) This means that “ego” – identified mind – is really seeking Spirit. And since identified mind is Spirit too, this is Spirit (i) temporarily forgetting itself, (ii) seeking itself (in all the ways mind seeks), and (iii) possibly/eventually finding itself.

It’s all quite beautiful and innocent. Identified mind is really Spirit seeking itself, and sometimes “forgetting” that’s what’s happening.

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Jesus: It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle

 

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.

– Matthew 19:24, The New Testament (NIV)

As with all quotes, this one can be understood in many different ways, and each one may have value as a pointer.

The most obvious way for me to understand this is in terms of – not surprisingly! – identifications.

If my mind is rich in identifications – images and stories taken as true, beliefs – it’s not easy for me to enter the kingdom of God. It’s not easy for me to see it’s already here, that what’s here is already the kingdom of God.

As these identifications are either suspended for a while, or seen through in a more thorough way (both grace), the kingdom of God is revealed. In a sense, the kingdom of God reveals itself to itself. Awakeness notices itself as awakeness, and all experience as itself. We can also say that love notices itself as all there is. And that presence notices itself as all there is. (A though may say these reflect respectively the head center, the love/heart facet, and the soul facet.)

At first, this noticing (recognition, realizing) may be associated (by thoughts) with the side effects of this noticing, such as a quiet joy, a sense of ease and flow, a sense of guidance, a felt sense of love etc. Then, as it matures, this noticing may happen within any particular content of experience. A though may label an experience joy, and awakeness/love/presence notices itself as that. A though may label an experience fear, and awakeness/love/presence notices itself as that. A though may label an experience physical pain, and awakeness/love/presence notices itself as that, as it happens. In a very real sense, the joy, fear and pain notices itself as awakeness/love/presence, and awakeness/love/presence notices itself as joy, fear and pain.

Although I am not sure, I suspect the dark night of the senses leads to and clarifies the first phase of this noticing, and the dark night of the soul may lead to and clarify the second. And how that looks will probably vary a great deal from person to person.

Identified mind

 

I notice I like the term identified mind. It’s simple, clear, and fits my experience.

Mind identifies with/as an image or thought, and a few different things happen.

There is a sense of I, and of being that I. There is a sense of separation.

There is usually a sense of a me, a human being in the world, and identification as this me.

There is identification with/as the viewpoint of the image or thought. It’s held as true, to the exclusion of other – apparently contradictory – images or viewpoints.

A should, need and/or want comes out of this identification, and it seems real.

This identification may trigger a range of emotions – from happiness and elation (when the world aligns with the should, need, want) to sadness and anger (when it doesn’t).

And non-identified mind is still here. Love is still here. Intelligence is still here. A quiet guidance is still here. At most, it’s not noticed since mind is distracted telling itself it’s identified, trying to make the identity created from it appear real and solid, and getting caught up in a range of related images and thoughts.

Since mind is free of identification (clear, awake, love) and identified (caught up in images, thoughts) at the same time, it’s possible to notice both at the same time. And that brings about a shift. From being apparently completely caught up in identification, there is a shift into (a) noticing both there at once, and (b) perhaps a softening of identification (it tends to happen, although it’s not needed for noticing).

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Coming to love the identified mind

 

A friend of my said she is coming to love the identified mind.

I notice I am finding that for myself too, and I am drawn to finding more clarity on it and taking it in more fully.

The identified mind is worried love, it’s trying to help. It’s innocence, it is doing it’s best.

And if the identified mind fights an image of an identified mind, the mind fights itself. Can I see that too as worried love, as an attempt to help? As innocence, as a mind doing it’s best?

As long as the mind identifies with the identified mind as a problem, it’s caught in it’s own dynamics. As soon as there is genuine love for the identified mind, there is a shift. What this all happens within and as notices itself.