Intuition

 

Here are a few things I have noticed about intuition:

When I follow my intuition in small things, it becomes a habit and I learn to trust it more. That makes it easier to follow it in bigger things or when fear makes it more challenging.

Following my guidance or not is an experiment in either case. If I do it in this situation, what happens? If I don’t do it in this situation, what happens? Make a note of it.

When I am guided to do something I am scared to do, a few things may happen.

(a) I may follow it anyway, in spite of the fear.

(b) I may meet the fear, question the scary stories behind it, find kindness and love for the fear, and then see if it’s easier to act on my guidance.

(c) Or I may follow the fear and not the guidance.

In either case, I get to see what happens.

What I have noticed when I follow my guidance or inner knowing is that things tend to fall into place. And if I don’t, then the opposite often happens.

I am using intuition here synonymous with inner guidance, inner knowing, or the small quiet voice.

A not-so-honest yes

 

Yesterday, I was invited to lunch, said a less than honest yes, and experienced the consequences. It’s easy to blame others or circumstances for this. After all, that’s what we are often taught to do by our society and culture. And I know I was the one who said yes when I really wanted to say no, or at least not now.

If I blame others or circumstances, I miss out of looking at my part and learning from it. I get stuck in blame, resentment, and underlying anger.

If I take responsibility for my own choice, and allow my action and its consequences to sink in, there is a shift and reorientation in me. That’s helpful. It shifts me out of blame and into looking at myself and how I sometimes don’t say an honest yes or no. And if I only do this, I miss out of seeing how my mind creates the perception that made it difficult for me to say an honest no.

I can also explore this further. What does it say about me? (Afraid to disappoint others. Afraid of what others will think about me if I say no. Weak. Unclear. Fuzzy. Immature. Scared. Dependent on the approval of others.) What do I find if I explore how my mind creates the threat of saying an honest no, or the identities I see in myself in that situation? What are my beliefs that holds me back from saying an honest no? (They will be disappointed. They won’t like me. I will miss out. I will regret missing out.)

Synchronicity: As I wrote “that made it difficult for me to say an honest no” the lyrics of the song I listened to said “has no right to say no“. That’s of course how it feels. It feels like I have no right to say no, and it’s good to see how my mind creates that experience. How is the threat created by my mind? How is the self who cannot, or is not allowed, to say no created? How is the command to say no created? What images, words and sensations are there, creating these experiences? What are my beliefs, and are they true?

Adyashanti: What the universe will manifest when you are in alignment with it is a lot more interesting

 

What the universe will manifest when you are in alignment with it is a lot more interesting than what you try to manifest.

– Adyashanti

Yes, and as usual there is a lot more to this.

In one way, we are always in alignment with the universe. We are the local eyes, ears, thoughts and feelings of the universe. (As Carl Sagan said.) What’s here is the universe feeling, thinking, acting, doing. It’s not two.

In another way, it’s possible to be more or less aligned with the universe. When I am caught up in fears, beliefs, velcro and drama it’s difficult for me to act from kindness and clarity, and follow (the quiet) inner guidance. When there is more clarity, and less trauma/beliefs/velcro/drama, it’s much easier for me to act from kindness, clarity, and guidance.

So there is always and already alignment with the universe. It’s unavoidable. And I can be more or less aligned with the universe, through (a) recognizing what I am (what this experience happens within and as), (b) healing my human self, and (c) relate to what’s here – including unloved fears and unquestioned fearful stories – with love, presence, and gentle and engaged curiosity.

My body tells me

 

I sometimes will say my body tells me….. to eat this, not that etc .

There is a wisdom in the body, and one of the ways it’s expressed is in guidance for what to eat. (And it seems very accurate.)

Of course, it’s not really my body telling me. It’s my mind.

Using conventional language, I may say it’s the part of my mind more connected with my body.

Or, closer to my experience, it’s the part of my mind that appears as the body. It’s the part of my mind that we often call the body. 

Really, those are all stories. It’s what the mind calls guidance that another thought says comes from the body. And recognizing that doesn’t mean I won’t listen to and aim to follow this guidance.

Things falling into place

 

Here is something I have noticed for a while now:

When I go against my guidance, things tends to go wrong and  fall apart.

And when I follow my guidance, things fall into place and there is often ease.

For instance, I went to England about a year ago, against my guidance. (I did it because two people whose opinions I respect encouraged me to do it. And I chose to follow their advice rather than what felt right to me.) From the first minute on English soil, things started to go wrong. I lost my train ticket. I lived in a house that was depressing to me. They had more rain than ever before recorded. Internet fell out regularly, often when I needed it the most. I lost my job after just a month. I was pooped on by a seagull on a day I had planned a rare outing, and had to go back to shower and change my clothes. A friendship got increasingly strained and ended. And much more.

Now, going to California, I followed my clear guidance. I was upgraded to priority class on the plane. Was the first to be dropped off in a van with ten people in it. Had a place to stay, with a friend. Got a ride to where I was going next, with very pleasant company. Was offered a dream job. And more.

Of course, there are still challenges, even when I follow my guidance.

The difference is that when I follow my guidance, especially on the major things in my life – where I am, who I am with, what I am doing – it feels right at a deep level, and there is a sense of ease. The challenges are more ripples on the surface.

When I go against my guidance, there is a sense of unease and struggle at a deep level, even if there is ease on the surface.

 

Adyashanti: At a certain point we need to grow up; we need to look inside ourselves for our inner guidance

 

At a certain point we need to grow up; we need to look inside ourselves for our inner guidance. There are things most human beings know; they just don’t want to know them. They know deep down that certain things in their lives are working or aren’t working, that certain parts of their lives are functional and others are dysfunctional. But sometimes, as human beings, we don’t want to know what’s not convenient. So we pretend not to know.

What is most important is to come out of pretending. There is a time and a place for everything. There’s a time to make effort and to be disciplined. There is a time to let go and realize you cannot do it alone, that it is up to grace, that effort and struggling and striving play no part.

But understand one thing: the trajectory of our spiritual lives—no matter what our path, whether it’s a progressive path or a direct path, whether it is a devotional path or otherwise—the trajectory of our spiritual lives and of all spiritual awakening is toward surrender. Ultimately, that’s the name of the spiritual game. Everything we do spiritually is leading us to a spontaneous state of surrender—to letting go. That is where it all leads, no matter what the path is, no matter what the practice is. Once you know that, you notice that each step along the way is the next opportunity to surrender. It may take effort to get there; it may take effort to get you to the point where you are willing to let go into grace, but ultimately the whole of spirituality boils down to letting go of the illusion of the separate self, letting go of the way we think the world is and the way we think it should be.

We need the willingness to lose our world. That willingness is the surrender; that willingness is the letting go. And each of us has to find what that letting go means for us, what we need to let go of. Whether it’s easy or difficult doesn’t matter in the slightest. It is the letting go that is ultimately important.

– Adyashanti, The End of Your World

Trading integrity for love

 

This is a recurrent topic in my life, and one that’s familiar to most of us in one variation or another.

  1. There is a deficient self. I am unlovable. I am not enough. I am not OK.
  2. I try to get it from others.  I need her love. I need her approval. I need her company. I need her validation.
  3. Since I take myself to be deficient, it sometimes feels like a life and death issue.
  4. So I compromise on my authenticity, what feels right, and following my guidance. I set this aside so I can get what I think I need.
  5. This makes me feel off track and that something is wrong. I miss opportunities. I find myself in situations that don’t feel right.
  6. So I feel regret and anger. And I blame others, life, and myself.

When I look at the situations in my past I still have regret about, this is the pattern that unfolded. For instance, at one point I left my life – and most of what was important to me – for a relationship, so I could feel loved and validated.

So what can I do?

I can meet this unloved part of me with quiet presence and love.

I can meet this unexamined part of me with gentle curiosity and inquiry.

I can see if I can find the unlovable one, or unloved one, or the one who is not enough, or not OK. (Living Inquiries.)

I can see if I can find love, approval, validation, company – as a real thing.

I can question my beliefs about it. (The Work.)

Note: When I call this post “trading integrity for love” that’s not literally accurate. It’s how it’s experienced in the moment, and love and validation from another does feed something in us, but what I am really looking for – and the only thing that will completely satisfy me – is to find that love for myself, and specifically for the previously unloved parts, and also to see that these things are really unfindable.

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Guidance

 

I have written about this too before:

My inner guidance – the still small voice, my heart – is quiet, simple and has a quiet certainty. It doesn’t argue and is absent of fear.

My shoulds are quite different. They do argue. They come from and with fear.

And sometimes, the shoulds react to the inner guidance. A part of me fears what it would mean to follow the guidance. It assumes something terrible will happen.

So I can then meet this fear – this part of me that wants what’s best for me and comes from innocence and love, and also is slightly misguided – with a gentle understanding and love.

I can also remind me that when I follow my inner guidance, it feels deeply right and even if things may be challenging at times, it still feels deeply right. When I don’t, it feels deeply wrong and even if apparently desirable things happen, they are just a surface on top of this deeper sense of wrongness. Also, when I follow my guidance – and especially on a larger life decision – things tend to fall into place for me. And when I don’t, things tend to fall apart and go wrong.

P.S. Another way to explore this is by imagining a scenario and notice how my body responds. Does it relax? Does it feel tense? If it relaxes, it may be because something in me knows it’s a good option for me. If it is tense, it may be because it’s not.

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About consequences, free from stress, and following the heart

 

The mind may have all sorts of stories of how it will be when there is more clarity.

One is that there will be no consequences of our actions, and that we can do what we want without repercussions.

This is one of the “dreams of the ego”.

The reality of it is much simpler and more ordinary, at least in my experience.

There are, of course, still consequences – of our actions, choices, emotions, thoughts etc. Consequences happen in an ordinary way.

We may not believe our thoughts about it, so the coarse or gross (dis)stress may not be there. (Or it’s at least not resisted in the same way.) This makes it much easier.

And yet, when we go against our inner guidance, our heart, our authenticity, is still doesn’t feel right.

In fact, the more clear we are, and the more we recognize all as love, the more painful it is to go against our guidance, our heart, and our authenticity.

In that sense, there is less freedom in clarity. Or, more accurately, there is still freedom to go against guidance, heart and authenticity, yet the consequences are more clear and painful to us. And yet, that’s a small – or actually no – price to pay for living from clarity and love.

I still get caught in fear and beliefs, and sometimes go against my guidance and heart. When that happens, it’s helpful to feel the pain of doing so.

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The cost of not following my guidance, heart, what feels right

 

There is a cost to not following my guidance, my heart, and what feels right.

And that cost is quite high. When I really see the cost, and take it in, I see it’s too high. And when I meet my fears of following my guidance with love and curiosity, it’s even possible that I may be able to follow my guidance more often and more consistently.

It’s easiest to look at the cost of a specific action where I went against my guidance. For me, the clearest one was moving to Wisconsin. I left a community I felt deeply connected with, I left a graduate program, I left a place where I felt deeply at home. The cost was partly losing what I left, but I also lost my passion, engagement, enthusiasm, and eventually my health. And I also lost opportunities to live a life from my guidance, a life that would have felt more deeply right, during this time. The cost was also how this impacted those around me, both family and friends. The cost was very high.

Free will as a metaphor for learning to function well as a human being

 

Free will. It’s a big topic, and also very simple.

I can see if I can find free will anywhere. Is it in the words? In my images of free will? In my sensations that seem connected to free will? Can I find it anywhere – in words, images, sensations – in immediacy? Is it unfindable, even if I turn every stone?

I can explore free will within stories. I see that everything happening has infinite causes, stretching back to the beginning of time and out to the widest reaches of the universe. Where would free will come in? Does there seem to be room for it anywhere? Also, is there really a separate being that can “have” free will here? (This can be an interesting exploration, and may satisfy the mind a bit, but it’s not so helpful in itself. At the very least, this is not a stopping point.)

I also see that it makes sense to live as if there is free will. It’s an helpful assumption for my life, especially when held lightly.

And I see that free will can be seen as a metaphor for learning how to function well as a human being. To stand on my own two feet. To grown in being autonomous. To live from authenticity. (Which is undefended, almost as a confession.) To live from my guidance and knowing.

Free will can be seen as a pointer to autonomy.

The rest of life stands back. It allows me to explore. Make mistakes. Suffer. Learn. Align. Grow. Find autonomy. Grow in and within autonomy.

In this process, unexamined fears will come up. Unexamined fears, and unexamined identifications – in place to protect the imagined self. So a part of this process is to notice these fears and identifications. Allow them. (Notice they are already allowed by life.) Welcome them. See they are here to protect the imagined self. See they are from confused love. Find genuine love for it, as it is. Examine the conglomerates of words, images and sensations making up the unexamined fears and identifications. Feel the sensations as sensations, and stay with it.

Is the fear as solid as it seems? Can I find the threat? Can I find the threatened one?

How is it to take the leap into acting from my guidance, from my knowing? Even if there is fear here? Even if some of the fear is still unexamined?

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Surrender to guidance

 

Surrender can be a surrender to love, to Spirit, to soul, to what’s here.

And it can also be a surrender to guidance. A surrender to the still quiet voice. A surrender to the heart.

It’s a surrendering of what thought thinks it wants and needs, to instead following the inner guidance. It’s a shifting of allegiance.

And embedded in this is an invitation to notice and inquire into any fears and shoulds stopping me from doing this.

When do I choose my conscious wishes, fears and sholds over the still quiet voice? What are these wishes, fears and shoulds? What do I find when I inquire into them?

Is it really worth choosing fear over love and guidance? What happens when I choose fear? What happens when I chose love and guidance?

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Leaving myself

 

I keep looking at this now…..

In my twenties, I found myself in a situation where I left myself. I got married (which was OK) and moved to Wisconsin (not OK). I left myself when I moved to Wisconsin. I left my guidance, my friends, the Zen center, a place I loved, a study I loved, and much more. I felt deeply off track, and continued to feel off track for years. And as time went on, without me choosing myself again, I lost more and more. (Friends, opportunities, passion, enthusiasm, health, etc. The same day I moved I went from being passionate about art, meditation and prayer and doing it daily for hours, to being unable to do it at all. It was too painful.)

I left myself. And I made myself small. And I did so because of shoulds and fears. I thought I should sacrifice myself for my wife. I thought I should make myself small for the sake of the marriage. I thought I couldn’t set myself first, and didn’t see – or at least feel – that this would be the best for both of us. I also acted from a fear of disappointing another, and of not being able to find someone else. (Is either of those true? And is it true it wouldn’t be OK if either happened?)

This was a quite hard lesson in what happens when I leave myself. And much of what comes up for me now is regret and grief over what I lost during this phase of my life (including the possibility for a relationship that felt more right, and children).

In a sense, we cannot leave ourselves. We are here. The divine is here. Whatever happens is love and God’s will. And yet, it’s also very possible for me to leave myself within that. I can follow my shoulds and fears instead of honoring my wisdom. I can scare myself with my shoulds and fears, and I can scare myself away from my shoulds and fears, instead of finding love for them and seeing through them.

Leaving my guidance

 

During the initial awakening phase, where the center of gravity was in Big Mind and Big Heart, and the wounds of the human self were mostly transcended, it was easy and natural for me to follow my inner guidance, partly because the guidance was clear and the consequences of not doing so were immediate and unpleasant.

Then, after several years, I left my guidance. I moved to another state because of a relationship, and I went against my guidance because of fears (of not finding anyone else) and shoulds (I should live with my wife, I should sacrifice myself for my partner). The fears operated at an emotional level, even if I knew consciously they were not true. And the shoulds were clearly inherited from my parents (ancestral) and partly my culture.

This led to several years of feeling increasingly off track in all areas of life. Where I had felt deeply on track and alive, I felt more and more off track, aimless and lost. I had left my friends, a state I loved (Utah), the Zen center, and much more. And more and more of what was important to me in life continued to fall away, including work and educational opportunities, friendships, health and more. Leaving my guidance, and still being too caught in fears and shoulds to not do what was required to follow it again, had quite severe consequences in my life in a conventional sense.

As usual, there are several ways of looking at this:

From the view of awareness and life, it’s neutral. This too is life expressing, exploring and experiencing itself. It’s lila, the play of life and the divine.

As any experience, it’s all happening within and as clear, awake presence and love. And the fear and shoulds I acted on came from confused love.

This is one way the dark night of the soul plays itself out. Sometimes, it’s relatively easy and quick. Other times, it’s harder, more severe, and longer. In my case, this is how life set circumstances up so remaining identifications would wear out.

It helped me learn, deepen and mature. It brought me face-to-face with some of my core fears and shoulds. It showed me what happens when we leave our guidance, and that it has real life consequences. It humbled me, and helped me see that I couldn’t raise above any situation as I earlier thought I could. It gave me a deeper understanding of and empathy with others who act on their fears and shoulds.

It was an unfortunate misstep in life. I could, in theory, have learned the essence of the dark night quicker and easier, if I had followed my guidance.

All of these have validity. For me, they all co-exist, they are all facets of this particular situation and phase of my life.

My sense is that the dark night of the soul may have been easier and quicker if I had followed and stayed with my guidance. And yet, I have certainly learned something from what happened that I wouldn’t have otherwise. And I also see that I would never recommend anyone to do what I did.

I would encourage anyone in a similar situation to…. (a) face and inquire into any of the ways they stop themselves from following their guidance, especially when it comes to major and lasting life decisions, and (b) follow their guidance – when it’s clear – even if it is scary. (The inner guidance is always kind and intelligent.)

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Forms of guidance

 

There are several types of guidance, and perhaps three major ones.

One is the guidance our thoughts provide us, which can be good at some things and a support for other things.

Another is the inner guidance, the guidance of the heart, the quiet inner voice. The one that is quiet, calm and steady.

And yet another is the divine guidance of life itself. In other words, life as it shows up here and now. What’s the gift in what’s here? What’s the invitation?

What does it show me about what’s left (identifications, hangups) in me?

How is it to meet it with love? What in me, if anything, prevents me from meeting it with love?

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Giving it over, guidance, asking

 

During the initial awakening phase – the first ten years or so – it was easy, and in a sense inevitable, to…..

(a) Give it all over to the divine, to God, Christ: my whole life, any hangups, confusion, fears, identifications, and the present, past, future. This is really just setting an intention to shift the center of gravity from identification to that which is already not identified, from being caught in a very human confusion to shift into presence, love, awakeness.

(b) Follow my inner guidance, the quiet inner voice. This was strong, and I typically followed it in small and larger things.

(c) Trust in life, in Spirit, that what happens – however thoughts may label it – is the very best that possibly could happen.

(d) Being a good steward of my life. I studied  and worked very conscientiously, made a plan for my life, lived (mostly) in integrity, and so on.

Then, during the dark night of the soul, these went away. It all fell away and apart.

Now, there is an invitation to find back to it again, perhaps in a slightly different context. Less as a superman and more as an ordinary human being.

There may be another difference. Then, I said a very sincere “dangerous” prayer: Let me awaken fully, and live it fully in this life, no matter what it will cost.  And now, I wish for a more gentle and kind process, coming from a very ordinary kindness towards myself and those around me. And I also give that wish over to the divine.

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Inner guidance vs God’s will

 

I just now did the Big Mind process on what initiated the dark night for me, and it helped me differentiate between my inner guidance and God’s will. In short, when I follow my inner guidance, my inner guidance and God’s will are the same, and if I don’t follow my inner guidance, they are different.

I thought – without even realizing it – that my inner guidance somehow is God’s will, so when I went against my inner guidance, I went against God’s will, and it severed or ruined my connection with God. Through this exploration, I see that it’s more true for me that my inner guidance shows me what’s easy for me, it shows me what will make me feel deeply nourished and on track. God’s will is quite different. Nothing is outside of God’s will, including whether or not I follow my inner guidance. What happened was all included in God’s will. All I did was not follow my inner guidance, because of some fears and beliefs, and that’s quite different. That’s innocent.

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Guidance

 

A few things about guidance.

The simplest is to ask myself and wait for an answer. It may come right away or some while later. And it’s usually clear, simple and kind. What a wise person would tell me.

Another is the guidance that comes for me in the turnarounds. Life should help me –> I should help me. By making a list of how I want life to help me, in which areas and with very specific and practical examples, I can turn this around to myself and see how I can help me. This is a guidance for how to live my life.

When I don’t follow these types of guidance, it’s often because I believe certain thoughts that stop me from living it. What am I afraid would happen if I follow my guidance? What do I find when I look into these beliefs?

A related exploration here is what happens, how is it, when I follow this guidance? What happens, and how is it, when I don’t? In my experience, following the guidance gives a sense of ease, of being held by God, of being on track, and it feels kind. When I don’t follow the guidance, there is a sense of stress, discomfort, and of being (temporarily, in a limited sense) off track.

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