Exploring a sense of a separate I in three general ways

 

When I explore this sense of a separate I, I notice that I tend to do it in three general ways.

The main one is to be with the experience of a separate I, to fully allow it – including any resistance to this sense of a separate I, any hopes for it to change, any struggles around it. Fully be with it, allow it, embrace it, as it is. To see it and feel it as it is, here and now (which allows loving it, as it is, to come in as well.)

The second one is to amplify the experience of a separate self. How can I make the sense of a separate self stronger? I find that I do it by tensing up muscles, by strengthening an image of a split between me here and the rest of the world out there, and also by emotions such as anger, fear, desire, and so on. This helps me see how the sense of a separate self is created, and how I do it in my daily life.

The third is to inquire into what is already more true in immediate experience, such as exploring if I am content of awareness, if I am awareness itself, and if the content is anything else than awareness. (Am I any of this content? These sounds? Sights? Sensations? Thoughts? They all come and go, but something does not come and go. What is it that does not come and go? It is awareness itself. Am I this awareness? If I find myself as awareness, I notice that its content arises as a seamless field. What appeared as inside and outside, when I took myself to be a part of the content, is now all a seamless field of no real inside or outside. Where is the boundary between awareness and its content? Does the content appear as anything else than this awareness? The content of this awake emptiness arises as nothing other than awake emptiness itself.)

Together, there is the full allowing of a sense of a separate self, including any associated resistance. There is an active exploration of how the sense of a separate I is created. And there is an exploration of what is already more true in immediate awareness.

A moving cardboard cutout and a sense of I

 

It seems that practices do themselves in me, more than the other way around. Both are of course important and there is an interplay between the two, but now, the practices that do themselves in me are definitely in the foreground.

One of the practices that do themselves is an exploration of what is taken as an “I”. I notice sensations, thoughts, and so on, and then also the idea of “I” which is placed on a particular sensation, one that is more stable and typically in the neck/head area (which one seems to change over time.)

It is as if there is a cardboard cut-out there representing “I”, a subject, the seer and doer, and it is anchored onto a relatively stable sensation. Most of the time it is in the background, just giving a reassuring sense of having an anchor for a point of view, a perspective, and giving a familiar sense of “I” here.

When attention is brought to it, it is clearly revealed as just this cardboard cut-out placed on a sensation. And then I notice how another cardboard cutout is placed further up and back in space, creating the sense of an observer of this. Pretty interesting.

It seems that there wants to be a sense of “I” here, and even when it is noticed, it recreates itself in a slightly different form, placing itself even a little further into the background, hidden among the stage props further back on the stage.

So even when it seems obvious that there is no “I” here, when it is seen that the idea of I is just as a cardboard cutout placed on top of sensations, and these sensations are finite in time and space, arising within wakeful emptiness, even then, there is a vague sense of I here floating around. Seen, then recreating itself somewhere else. Anything for a sense of an anchor, stability, a point of view, a perspective, I guess, even if it is not really there.

Inquiry: something is wrong

 

Something is wrong.

  1. Is it true?

    It certainly feels true.

  2. Can I absolutely know it is true?

    No. The sense of something is wrong only comes from thoughts. From a very limited view and arbitrary guidelines.

  3. How do I react when I have that belief?

    I look for evidence. I see that wherever attention happens to go, I look for and can find evidence. You are wrong. I am wrong. The world is wrong. God is wrong.

    I need to identify what is wrong and how it is wrong, and then try to change it.

    There is also a sense of hopelessness since I cannot know for sure what is wrong. I know my views are not in any way absolutes.

    Where and how do I experience it in the body?

    There is a sense of contraction throughout the body. Of uneasiness. Discomfort. This discomfort comes from the belief, and it is also used as a reminder to look for what is wrong – wherever my attention happens to go.

    How do I treat others?

    As potentially wrong, and as somebody to find something wrong about – in their looks, behaviors, views, history, future and so on. As somebody who should change, and I may take it upon myself to try to change them.

    How do I treat myself?

    As somebody who needs to identify what is wrong, so it can be seen and ideally corrected. As somebody who is wrong in different ways – views, behavior, looks, history, future.

    When did I first have that belief?

    In my childhood, probably at a very early age.

    What do I get out of holding onto that belief?

    I get to be somebody who is looking for right and wrong, who wants to make the world and myself right, who is on the side of the right – even if I don’t know what it is.

    I experience frustration and confusion in trying to identify what is wrong.

    And when I feel I know what is wrong, there is a sense of separation, of something to protect, of having to protect myself from what is wrong. There is fear and loneliness.

  4. Who or what would I be without the belief?

    At ease. Peace. Sense of connection and intimacy with myself, others and the world. Sense of seamlessness. No separation. Interest and curiosity. Discernment absent of separation (and absent of needing to create a sense of separation.) Being on the side of anyone, even while not seeing it quite the same way as them.

    There is anything, absent of wrongness. Pain, change of plans, absent of wrongness.

    It is very simple. Clear. Sense of ease.

  5. Turnarounds

    (a) Everything is right

    Yes, as or more true. Absent of believing in thoughts, there is no right or wrong to be found. Also, when there is an exploration of what thoughts appear to say about the world, I seem to always find truth in any turnarounds.

    (b) My thoughts are wrong.

    Well, if there is a belief in them, and especially in the thought that something is wrong, then something certainly appears to be wrong. It makes that experience come alive. But that too is not inherently wrong.

Beliefs hidden in the shadow of conscious views

 

I notice how beliefs sometimes are hidden in the shadow of my conscious views. They may not fit my conscious view, they may seem old-fashioned or outlandish, they may seem completely contrary to my conscious views, so I overlook them, ignore them, or dismiss them as fodder for inquiry.

One long-standing, and embarrassing, issue for me is being annoyed when people eat noisily. Even as a kid, I had discomfort come up when people ate with open mouth and lots of sounds.

My conscious thoughts are that it is unsophisticated, disrespectful, uncivilized, and just plain gross. Yet, if there ever was much attachment to those thoughts, there is certainly not much anymore. They don’t seem to hold much truth or charge for me. But the reaction still comes up, so there must be other beliefs behind there somewhere, most likely hidden in the shadows of my conscious worldview.

So I can go in and connect with my experience in those situations, and invite beliefs to surface around it – in innocence, allowing anything to come up and be seen, independent of how outlandish or not me they appear.

What I find, to my surprise, are beliefs such as… People shouldn’t enjoy or take pleasure in their food. Eating is shameful. Body functions are shameful. Enjoying eating is indulgent (which is bad.)

In my conscious view, these are outrageous statements, coming from a puritan and twisted worldview. Yet at the same time, they seem to be alive and well in me, hidden in the dungeons of the mind. As long as they remain hidden and unquestioned, they also remain an active – and apparently mysterious – influence in my life.

Maybe it is not so surprising that they are there. I grew up in Western Europe, where these or similar beliefs are part of the culture and tradition. It may be centuries since they were much alive in the surface culture, openly expressed and accepted, but their ghosts are still around in different ways. Specifically, I can see traces of these views in my parent’s birth families. And as a kid, I most likely noticed them and took them to heart.

So eating is shameful, is it true?

Clarity, and choice falls away

 

I wrote the entry on the various forms of motivation yesterday, without realizing (at the time) that it exactly mirrored what was going on for me in my personal life.

The choice: Adyashanti or Waking Down

I had the choice of going to a second satsang with Adyashanti, this time in Ashland, or a Waking Down in Mutuality event in Portland, and there was a good deal of agonizing in trying to make a decision.

I thoroughly enjoyed the satsang with Adyashanti last weekend and noticed a shift for me after it. At the same time, I felt that the WD event would maybe deepen my process somehow, or that I would learn something that is currently outside of my horizon.

Clarity through inquiry, and the decision makes itself

Last night, while exploring this through inquiry, I saw that wanting to go to the Adyashanti event came from a sense of joy and connection, while my motivation for wanting to go to the WD event was fear and a sense of separation: If I don’t go, I will miss out on something crucial. I will never get the opportunity again. I will develop in a lopsided way. I will be blind to something essential. They know something I don’t know and need to know.

In seeing this more clearly, the confusion and sense of burden in trying to make a decision gave way to a sense of relief and lightness: Going to the Adyashanti event comes from joy and excitement, going to the WD event comes from fear motivation. There is no decision to be made anymore.

Exploring the beliefs behind the decision process allowed me to see more clearly what was already there. It allowed me to notice with more clarity what I already knew, what was already alive in immediate awareness. And it took the whole sense of choice out of it.

Confusion, a sense of having to make a decision, and agonizing

In the confusion, there was a definite sense of choice and of agonizing in trying to make a decision.

Clarity, the choice falls away, and action

In the clarity, the sense of choice falls away. There is just clarity, and action.

Inquiry: Anything I can say is obvious

 

Anything I can say is obvious.

  1. Is it true?

    It feels true, even if my conscious view is different.

  2. Can I absolutely know it is true?

    No. What does obvious mean? And obvious to whom? Also, I don’t know what is best for my path or that of others (maybe saying apparently obvious things is exactly what is needed right now).

  3. How do I react when I have that belief?

    I sensor myself. I talk to myself before saying anything, evaluate it, and either hold it back or say it.

    How do I treat myself when I have that belief?

    I sensor myself, as listed above. I engage in a pre-emptive strike by attacking and stopping myself before anybody else has a chance.

    Also, anything that comes out of my mouth (or is written) has the stamp of approval and is safe and dull to me. I have already seen it and worked through it, so it is obvious to me when it comes out. I don’t surprise myself. So I treat myself and whatever comes out of my mouth as boring, as obvious. I bore myself.

    How have I lived my life because of that belief?

    I often hold back in social conversations, and I also hold back on organizing and giving workshops and presentations on topics of interest to me. I hide and hold back more than I would without it.

    How do I treat others when I have that belief?

    As somebody who may ignore or attack me if I say something that is obvious. I split the world into I and Other, and experience a strong separation between the two.

    Also, when I speak I sometimes frame it as this is completely obvious, but. While it may not be obvious at all for them. Seeing this, and how they may take it, is very uncomfortable for me. It pains me.

    What images come up?

    Images of teachers, especially spiritual teachers, who say things they seem to think is a revelation, but is completely obvious to me. I cut them down in my mind when this happens. Especially if it goes on.

    [New statement: Spiritual teachers shouldn’t assume that what they say is not realized by their audience. Spiritual teachers shouldn’t present obvious things as if they were not.]

    When did I first have that thought?

    Seems that it would be in my childhood, although I can’t place it very well.

    My brother is some years older than me, and I remember him sometimes dismissing what I had to say, or dismissing what was new insights for me as obvious, as something everybody already knows.

    What do I get from holding onto that belief?

    I get to feel that I protect myself against attack from others, at least attacks of it is obvious. I get to be bored by whatever comes out of my mouth, since it is evaluated and pre-approved as safe. I get to see others as somebody who may ignore or attack me for saying obvious things.

  4. Who or what would I be without the thought?

    I would allow whatever comes up to also come out. I wouldn’t sensor as much. It would be far more fresh and surprising. I would surprise myself more. I would be interested in what comes out of my own mouth, and may learn something new from it.

    I would see what comes out of my mouth as just happening, as anything else – the clouds, the room, people, behavior, is just happening. It is not personal anymore. It lives its own life. It is fresh and able to surprise me.

    How would I live my life differently without the belief?

    There would be much more freedom and flow in speaking, writing, and allowing whatever comes out to come out in whatever way it does. I would probably engage in conversations more wholeheartedly. I would probably get back into making music and art. I may give more workshops and presentations on topics I myself find interesting, for my own sake.

  5. (.o.) Anything I can say is obvious.

    What are three genuine gifts there?

    If it is already obvious to me or others, it means that we already understand it to some extent, and that is wonderful. It means we can explore and go beyond it.

    If it seems obvious to me, it is a reminder that I am censoring myself and only allows that out which is tested, approved and safe. It is an invitation to make it more interesting for myself, by allowing words to come out on their own, to surprise myself.

    If anything I can say is obvious, it means that anything anyone can be said is obvious. It is a reflection of something already there, a mirror of an aspect of Existence. When it comes so far that it can be expressed, it is already present and alive.

    (a) Anything I can say is surprising.

    Yes, anything arising is surprising. It just happens. It comes out of space. It is a mystery beyond comprehension. And this is the case with ideas, thoughts, words and anything expressing as well. Whatever happens is already fresh, new and surprising. It happens on its own. It comes out of empty space.

    Also, if there is less or no censoring of it before it comes out, it will be fresh to me. I will surprise myself.

    And, it may be surprising to others. If what I say is genuine and from what is alive for me, it will most likely be surprising to others. We all filter the world differently, so if I speak from what is alive for me, it will be just a little different from how it is for them, which will be fresh, different and surprising to them.

    (b) Anything others can say is obvious.

    Well, I have certainly had that thought, especially with spiritual teachers. It creates a sense of separation and split, and also prevents me from seeing what they say as fresh, to find it freshly in my own experience, to see it alive in immediate awareness.

    (c) Anything others can say is surprising.

    Yes, it is surprising.

    Anything happening is a complete surprise. That anything is at all, is surprising beyond belief. And anything happening is surprising. It just happens on its own. It comes out of empty space. It is fresh, new, different.

    And what people say is surprising. I don’t know what will come out of anybody’s mouth. And it always comes from a different experience of the world than my own. It is surprising to me.

Inquiry: US hellbent on driving itself into the ditch

 

The US is hellbent on driving itself into the ditch.

  1. Is it true?

    Well, yes, it seems true in many ways. I can find innumerable examples, and the news is full of new ones daily.

  2. Can I absolutely know it is true?

    No. Each part of that statement can be defined in many ways and the US is not homogeneous. Also, I don’t know what is the best path for the US, or the world, or myself.

  3. How do I react when I believe that thought?

    I experience a contraction and a hardening. There is a strong sense of being right. There is a split into I and Other. I look for evidence, and find it everywhere. I collect evidence, rehearse it in my mind, to support and maintain that belief. I feel alienated since I live in a country like that. I question why I live here. I think I should be somewhere else. I feel sadness over the many worldwide impacted by the US policies and what I see as the ignorance of the US population.

    Where and how do I experience it in my body?

    As a hardening in the chest area, and contraction in stomach.

    How do I treat others?

    I see US citizens as homogeneous, as an anonymous mass that is uninformed, mislead, deceived by media and politicians, ignorant about their own country and the world, narrow in their interests and concerns, oblivious about the larger picture.

    When I meet US citizens who don’t fit that picture, I see them as exceptions so I don’t need to change the general image described above.

    When I meet folks who agree, I see them as allies. I may talk with them to get my frustration out, and confirm that I am right.

    When I meet folks who disagree, I don’t even want to talk with them – at least not about these issues. I secretly see them as uninformed, or if they seem informed – as dangerously egocentric or ethnocentric, behaving or supporting behavior that eventually harms all of us.

    How do I treat myself?

    As someone who is right. As someone who is informed, who sees things as they are. Who knows better. As someone who can’t do much to change it. As someone who can’t engage in conversations with those who disagree.

    What images comes up when I have that thought?

    Images of a population mislead by media, corporations and politicians. Of US initiated and led wars, bringing massive suffering to millions of people. Of US policies that are unbelievable short-sighted, harming and destroying communities, ecosystems and lives.

    Of US policies that seem consciously aimed at destroying ecosystems, health, communities and any sympathy towards the US left among people around the world.

    When did I first have that thought?

    In middle-school, when we first learned about the impacts of US policies around the world, and within their own country (lack of universal health care, etc.). Since then, I have found evidence for it everywhere, including daily in the news.

    What do I get from believing that thought?

    I get to be right. To not be like them. To see it more clearly than they do. To find a tribe among those who share my beliefs.

    Whose business am I in?

    I am in their business.

  4. Who or what am I without the thought? (When hearing about that which I have used to support that belief.)

    Clear. Present. Take it in. Curious and interested in it.

    I am curious about what is going on, without reactivity or a sense of I and Other. There is a freedom here. A freedom to explore in a wide open field (absent of the boundaries that comes with identity, being right and wrong, I and Other, us and them.) I am interested in what is going on (absent of proving anything, supporting any identity, of seeing it as about them not also me.) There is a sense of intimacy, belonging, interest, receptivity, clarity, flow.

  5. Turnarounds

    (a) The US is not hellbent on driving itself into the ditch.

    Well, that is probably not the conscious motivation of these people (even if it is the effect.) They may think it actually serves them. They probably do the best they can, considering their circumstances (value development, available information, immediate needs that seem more urgent.)

    Also, the US is not homogeneous. There is a wide range of views and ways of life here, some which are quite life-centered and life-supporting.

    Also, I don’t really know the outcome of all of this. Maybe it is exactly what is needed for nudging us towards a more life-centered civilization. And I don’t even know that a more life-centered civilization is better, or serve us better, or is better of the Earth, or the Universe. I don’t know.

    (b) The US is hellbent on staying on the road.

    Yes, that seems true. They are certainly hellbent on staying the course in terms of consumerism, world dominance, corporate globalization, intimidation of those with opposing views, and so on.

    Also, they are hellbent on providing a good life for themselves, even if I don’t agree with many of their strategies.

    (c) I am hellbent on driving myself into the ditch.

    Oh… Yes, that is certainly true. Far more true. I am hellbent on driving myself into the ditch, when I believe the initial thought. I drive myself into the ditch by the misery, hopelessness, sense of alienation, and sense of something to protect brought up by the belief. Also, I see myself as already in the ditch since I live here.

    (d) I am hellbent on driving the US into the ditch.

    Yes, also as or more true. When I have that belief, I am hellbent on driving the US into the ditch – in my mind. I do it by finding evidence and run it through my mind over and over. Also, in the world, I get hellbent on driving this life-alienating version of the US into the ditch, by exposing what is going on and subversively working for deep culture change. And I see that it is not a comfortable motivation.

Pluto

 

This is not so important, but it makes an astronomy nut like me happy to see that they finally decided to strip Pluto of its status as a full planet and categorize it as a dwarf planet instead. Categorizing it as a regular planet was somewhat of a mistake in the first place, and it is good to see the rational win out over the sentimental.

Which brings me to this inquiry…

They should act in a rational manner.

  1. Is it true?

    Yes (especially scientists!)

  2. Can I absolutely know it is true? What is the reality of it?

    No, I cannot absolutely know it is true. The reality is that even scientists sometimes don’t act in a rational manner (they get caught up in sentimentality, attachments and so on.)

  3. How do I react when I have that belief?

    I get frustrated seeing people who should be champions of rational thought behaving in a less than rational manner, using sentimentality as an argument for wishful categorizing.

    How do I treat them?

    As a little soft brained, not standing up for what they know is right.

    How do I treat myself?

    As someone who is more rational, more cool-headed, more able to let go of sentimental attachments when that is called for.

    When did I first have the thought?

    Probably in middle-school, when I got more interested in science, rational thinking, valid arguments and so on.

    Does the thought bring me peace or stress?

    Stress, definitely.

    What is the worst that can happen if I let go of that belief?

    I would let the sentimental override the rational, like (some of) them.

    Turnaround: I would not let the sentimental override the rational. Yes, that seems as or more likely. Without the stress coming from this belief, I would be more receptive, open, clear.

  4. Who/what would I be without the thought?

    I would be receptive, open, clear. Able to enjoy the small-scale drama around the discussion. Able to see the validity and good points in the different arguments, coming from any view.

  5. Turnarounds

    (a) They shouldn’t act in a rational manner.

    That is true. Some of them don’t, and that is the reality of it according to my story. The benefit for me is that I get to see my own beliefs around this, the stress it brings me, and it gives me an opportunity to inquire into it.

    (b) I should act in a rational manner.

    Yes, certainly. The advice is for myself here. When I believe that they should act in a different way from what they do, I am irrational. There is no way I can influence it in any real way, not even with people close to me. These are just processes playing themselves out.

    (c) I should not act in a rational manner.

    Well, not if I don’t. When I believe that thought, I do not act in a rational manner, and that is what is playing itself out right then. It is OK. And it, as anything, is subject to change.

    (x) Turnaround to live in daily life

    I should act in a rational manner. I shouldn’t expect people to change because it would be convenient to me. I can take my own advice instead. The advice is for me.

Inquiry :: He shouldn’t see relative truths as absolute

 

Several weeks back, a scientist in the audience at the Center for Sacred Sciences got worked up around the types of truths as they relate to science.

Joel said that science deals with relative truths, and today’s accepted theories are tomorrow’s garbage pile of obsolete views (paraphrased). It seems obvious, from both a mystical and scientific view. All theories and models are limited and they are of only temporary value as well. Everything is provisional. Even the absolute truth, revealed to itself and expressed through mystics of any tradition, can only be expressed in a relative and limited way.

The science guy was very reluctant to admit that our current worldviews and theories are provisional, and I noticed it triggered a reaction in me. I could clearly see how he tried to made relative truths into apparent absolute truths, but could not – in the moment, see how I do the same. Instead, I went into a story that I see relative truths only as relative truths, and he does not. I get it, he does not.

From the discrepancy between (a) already noticing that this is not true and (b) trying to tell myself otherwise, many things happened including stress, discomfort, stronger sense of I and Other, sense of something to protect.

He shouldn’t see relative truths as absolute.

  1. Is it true?

    Yes. He is a scientist, and should know better (even a child knows that any map is incomplete and provisional, for god’s sake!)

  2. Can I absolutely know it is true?

    No. And I don’t know what is best for his path, nor for mine.

  3. How do I react when I believe that thought?

    I feel I am right and he is wrong. I see myself as superior. I become righteous. I have something to defend. I experience a split between us, a sense of separation and alienation.

    How do I treat him?

    As rigid. Inferior. Somebody who doesn’t quite get it. Somebody who is reactive, who allows emotions and irrationality take over.

    How do I treat myself?

    As superior. Somebody who gets it. Somebody who is more cool headed. As right. As separate from him, and others who don’t get it.

    Also, I blame myself for going into this. I see that believing the thought brings contraction and discomfort for myself, and I know it cannot be true. Yet I still act and react as if I believe it. I am in the grips of this belief, which I know cannot be true. There is some despair coming up from this. A sense of hopelessness. Of being stuck. Of not quite knowing what to do about it, at least in the moment.

    When did I first have that thought?

    Probably in my early and mid teens, when I realized – to my shock and amazement, how apparently irrational many or most adults seem to be. I still haven’t quite gotten over that shock and disbelief.

    Where in the body do I experience it?

    A contraction and holding in my chest and abdomen. A contraction of the muscles in my lower leg. Tension in my neck. Holding my breath back some.

    What is the payoff?

    I get to be right, superior, more insightful, clearer, more cool headed.

    What is the cost?

    Stress, discomfort, sense of separation, getting caught up in emotions, caught up in and to some extent blinded by my reactiveness.

  4. Who or what would I be without that thought?

    Somebody who sits there and listen to and watch somebody else speak, with clarity, ease, interest and curiosity. I am interesting in what he has to say, where he is coming from, why he would see it that way, and (especially) how that mirror myself.

    Instead of stress and reactiveness there is interest and curiosity. There is a sense of connection and intimacy.

    There is a human being speaking, just like me. And he mirrors me perfectly. Whatever I see in him I can find in myself (if I look).

  5. Turnarounds

    (a) He should see relative truths as absolute.

    Yes, because he does, according to my story. It is his path right now, until it isn’t. He is doing what he has to do, right now – as we all do, myself included.

    When he sees relative truths as absolute, what are the gifts for me?

    I get to see my beliefs around it, and explore how I do what I see him doing. I get to see myself more clearly, in ways I wouldn’t have been able to without him.

    He mirrors me, whether I see it or not. If I don’t see it, there is stress which is a motivation to see more clearly what is going on. If I explore and see it, I learn something new about myself and also about the process of believing in thoughts and projections, and then seeing through it.

    I see that he is my teacher, in a very real sense. Without him, I wouldn’t see this in myself. His presence there is a gift to me.

    (b) I shouldn’t see relative truths as absolute.

    Yes, that is more true. I am far more interested in what I do here, and in finding clarity for myself.

    What are some examples of how I see relative truths as absolute?

    Whenever I believe a thought – any thought, I take a relative truth and make it into an absolute. And in this, there is stress, unease, sense of I and Other, separation, not being at home.

    For instance, in believing that he should not see relative truths as absolute, I do the same as what I see in him. I am the one making this relative truth into an absolute. I attach to that thought as if it is an absolute truth, eternal, always valid, unquestionable.

    (c) I should see relative truths as absolute.

    Yes, when I do. When I see relative truths as absolute, then that is what I do – and have to do, until I don’t.

    When I see relative truths as absolute, what are the gifts?

    I get to experience, from the inside, the dynamics of believing thoughts. I get to become more familiar with the process, from living it.

    I get to experience the stress in it, which encourages me to find some clarity around it, to see more clearly what is going on.

    Also, I find myself in the same boat as anyone, anywhere, who believes in abstractions. This opens up for empathy, and possibly for helping others see it for themselves later on (through mirroring for them what they already know).

    (d) I shouldn’t see absolute truths as relative.

    Hmm… That is an interesting one. I shouldn’t see absolute truths as relative. How do I see them as relative?

    Another way of phrasing this turnaround is…

    I shouldn’t make absolute truths into relative truths.

    The only absolute truth arises when what is remembers its own nature, of no I anywhere, and this cannot be expressed through any abstractions. I cannot see it, apart from being it. How do I then make it into something relative?

    I make it into something relative when I try to reflect it in abstractions, at which point it automatically becomes relative truths, at best.

    So this turnaround is a reminder to see this more clearly, that the absolute truth is revealed when what is awakens to its own nature, and anything expressed automatically is a relative truth, at best. There is no need to get too caught up in terminology or ways of speaking, in comparing or trying to find the one best approach, because it is all relative truth. I can hold it loosely. This is a good reminder.

    As soon as the absolute is expressed, it becomes a relative truth, and I should know the difference.

    (d) I should see absolute truths as relative.

    Whatever is expressed, even when it points to the absolute, is a relative truth. And that means it can be expressed in many different ways. It is similar to many different artists trying to depict the same landscape, each one will do it a little (or a lot) differently.

    And it is all OK. Some depictions resonate with some folks, and other depictions with others. Some are highly realistic, others are more poetic. Some use broad strokes, others include lots of details. Some are rough and approximate, others are more faithful to the landscape. Some are dramatic, others are toned down. Some come directly from the artist, others come through numerous copies of the original. It is all OK.

    Together, all the depictions give a more comprehensive and rich picture. And each one resonates with some people who may not be able to hear it in any other way.

Inquiry :: Confusing What is Simple

 

I finished A Cry in the Desert: the awakening of Byron Katie, and noticed a reaction come up a few times during the reading. When quoting Byron Katie, it was clear, simple, to the point. Yet this simple clarity often drowned or was embedded in the confusion, stories and hangups of the author. The same reaction came up when I read Fire from Heaven about the diksha process, and also when I listen to (quite a few) spiritual teachers.

Byron Katie, Adyashanti, Ken Wilber, Douglas Harding, Joel Morwood, Genpo Roshi and others have a beautiful clarity to what they say. It is simple, clear, to the point, and – maybe most important to me, fits my own experience. Yet, when so many talk about the same (or think they do!), it becomes convoluted, confused, muddled and complex to me.

And both are my mirrors. The confusion and muddleness mirrors me, every bit as much as the clarity and simplicity mirrors me.

She shouldn’t muddle it through her own confusion (the author of A Cry in the Desert).

  1. Is it true?

    No (only feels true sometimes). Can see that she only does what she has to do. She does as well as she can.

  2. Can I know what is best for the author’s path and the paths of each of the readers?

    No. I see that the confusion may be just what is needed.

  3. How do I react when I have that thought?

    I get confused. I confuse myself.

    There is a contraction in my stomach. Muscles tense.

    I go into an internal monologue: She shouldn’t add thick layers of her own confusion and beliefs onto such beautiful clarity and simplicity. The book is mostly just her own long winded and confused interpretations, which often seem to stray far away from the clarity and simplicity of the Byron Katie quotes. No wonder it is out of print and The Work foundation does not promote it.

    I cut her down in my own mind. I belittle her. Exterminate her.

    I experience separation from her, the book, what clarity is conveyed in the book, and myself. And this separation brings a sense of confusion, of being muddled.

  4. Who would I be (reading the book) without the thought?

    Clear. Simple. Enjoying it. Taking it for what it is. Curious. Interested – in the clarity that shines through, as well as in the process of the author. I would be interested in the process of the author, as it is reflected in this book. I would see the beauty in it, how she is in the process of unraveling knots and beliefs. How she sincerely appears to want clarity.

  5. (a) She should muddle it through her confusion

    Yes. It honestly reflects where she was at when writing it. It is a mirror for her, and also for each of the readers. I see my own confusion by reading the book, and the same may be the case for others. It provides material for the readers to work with by inviting the readers to see both the clarity and confusion in themselves. Also, I found it interesting to sort out the clarity from the confusion as I read the book, it added a challenge to the reading.

    (b) I shouldn’t muddle it through my confusion

    That is more true. I am the one who is confused, especially when I think she (and the book) should be different. I am out of touch with reality. I battle reality. Whenever there is confusion, I can take statements to inquiry and find some clarity.

    (c) I shouldn’t muddle it through her confusion

    Yes, also more true. I can stay with my own truth and clarity, whatever it is in the moment. I can stay in my business, and find clarity there.

    (d) I should muddle it through my confusion

    Yes, because I do. I am the one muddling it for myself. It is my process right now. It allows me to see myself more clearly. It allows me to see the confusion right here, and examine it – bring statements to inquiry.

Inquiry : They Should See Everything as Included

 

A situation yesterday was what nudged the recent Everything Included posting into existence: A housemate received an astrology reading out on the deck, and I decided to do a quick vacuuming before it got dark – with the door to the deck closed. It turned out they were doing a channeling at that time, and asked me to turn off the vacuum. So of course, the thought (really, a belief) came up that…

They should see everything as included. (Or – they should use practices where everything happening is naturally included.)

  1. Is it true?

    Yes. Feels true. Seems… more inclusive, would make it easier on them, fewer things appearing as “other” and a disturbance.

  2. Can I absolutely know that it is true, or that it would be better for their path?

    No. Cannot know that it would be better for their path.

  3. How do I react when I have that thought (and they do not see everything as included, in my story).

    I feel that seeing everything as included is somehow superior to their approach, and identity with this more superior approach. I may mentally run through why it is more superior, also looking for real-life evidence to support it.

    I also try to hide this sense of superiority. I don’t want them to see it, partly because I suspect it is not true and don’t want my fiction to be blown.

    I experience a sense of separation to them, and to myself as well, a sense of disconnection and distance.

    How do I treat them?

    I am polite and follow their request, but with a slight air of smugness, as if dealing with someone who does not quite get it – yet.

    How do I treat myself?

    As somebody who knows. Somebody who gets it, at least in this one area. As someone set apart from those who doesn’t get it.

    When did I first have the thought?

    Probably in my mid teens when I started working with projections. I remember even then viewing friends, teachers, politicians, anyone in the media in this way – as often not quite getting it, as being in the grips of blind projections and not even knowing it. As approaching life in a fragmented way.

    What is the payoff?

    I get to be right, to know, to have access to privileged insights.

    What is the cost?

    Sense of distance, alienation, being cut off from them and myself. In the midst of seeing myself as right, there is confusion and a sense of being lost due to this distance and disconnect. It is uncomfortable. Also, I make myself less receptive to the fullness of the situation. In attaching to being right, I blind myself to new insights and to seeing myself more clearly. I make myself stuck through righteousness.

    What is the worst that could happen if I don’t have the thought?

    I would go into their view, forgetting for myself to see everything as included. I would be blind. > Turnaround: I would not forget to see everything as included. That seems more true. In the peace of not holding onto the initial thought, there would just be more clarity and effortless inclusiveness.

  4. Who would I be without the thought? (In that same situation.)

    I would appreciate them looking out for themselves. Taking what is true for them in the present seriously and acting on it, taking care of themselves that way. I would see the beauty in it. The simplicity of it.

    Also, I would see that they may be right, even according to what is currently true for me. For some activities, it may be good to exclude certain things (such as the noise from vacuuming).

    There would be peace for me. Receptivity to the situation. No need for the mental activity of justifying and protecting a particular view.

  5. (a) They should not see everything as included.

    Yes. That is more true. They should take what is true for them in the present seriously, and they do. I can see the beauty in that, and how I want the same for myself.

    What are the gifts for me?

    I get to see a different way of relating to the world, and what comes up in me in seeing it. I get to do inquiry around it, if it triggers stress or discomfort in me. I get to see them as my genuine teachers.

    (b) I should see everything as included.

    Yes, the advice is for myself. In particular, I should see their current path – what is true for them in the present, as included. There is no need for me to mentally try to exclude it through my own resistance to it and my mental gymnastics around it, as described under no. 3.

    (c) I should not see everything as included.

    Yes, also true. I should not think that everything is included in my own insight and understanding (!). It certainly isn’t, but if I believe the initial statement, then I behave as if it is, as if my present understanding is complete. I am tricking myself. Short changing myself. Settling for less. Cutting myself off from receptivity, new insights, maturing.

I have been doing most of my inquiries with others lately, often over phone, and noticed a difference this time in writing it down. I noticed that a slight discomfort came up, which seems to do with (a) going more into the mental and not allowing time to soak in the insights, and (b) a motivation of wanting to “get it right” or make it look “good”. When I work with another person, it seems easier for me to take time for it to sink in, which also makes it easier to be more precise and sober in seeing what is happening. Of course, this is just another statement for inquiry: I can go deeper in inquiry with someone else facilitating me. Is it true? Probably not.

Inquiry :: Seeing Their Lives as Sacred

 

All the way back to childhood, I have experienced certain things as quite annoying, and I see that the main reason for this is the lack of awareness and clarity I see behind certain (unconscious, habitual) behaviors. So one of the beliefs behind this irritability is that “they should see how sacred their life is.”

I did an inquiry on this (I have done near daily inquiries over phone since beginning of May), and one of the turnarounds is that I should see how sacred their life is. This was a big shift for me, and living this turnaround in the week since the inquiry has deepened this shift.

In this last week, have been in many situations where the past irritation would have come up. Now, I remind myself about the turnaround, and see the how sacred their lives are – even if they don’t see it themselves.

Sometimes, the reminder is not even necessary, and sometimes it is – if I am on the train or the bus and somebody is triggering some irritation, I may put down the book and take some time to remind myself of the turnaround and sink into it. There is often a big shift.

So from being a source of discomfort, these situations are now a great gift – allowing for fullness, sense of connection, and a deep appreciation of the lives of these people who used to trigger my discomfort. I can see their lives as sacred, even if they do no. It is my job.

Who Are You?

 

I just came back from a weekend at Lost Valley Educational Center – a follow-up to our seven month diksha process. As usual, it was quite remarkable (allowing for deepening connection with Source, and for unravelling of old patterns).

One of the activities we did was the Enlightenment Intensive format of pairing up and then taking turns asking each other who are you?

I found it very powerful, and it quickly took me right to my edge…

  • I am everything passing through
  • I am everything happening here now
  • I am sensations passing through
  • I am all the bodies in this room passing through
  • I am the voices passing through
  • I am this body passing through
  • I am sensations passing through
  • I am emotions passing through
  • I am thoughts passing through
  • I am resistance passing through
  • I am the letting go of the resistance
  • I am confusion
  • I am clarity
  • I am too much for words
  • I am fear of having no identity passing through
  • I am the letting go of that fear
  • I am contractions passing through
  • I am the attachment to the contractions
  • I am the letting go of the contractions
  • I am everything passing through
  • I am the trying to hold onto something
  • I am the letting go of holding onto something
  • I am that which can never be held onto
  • I am always fresh and new
  • I am always the same
  • I am timeless
  • I am awareness
  • I am whatever is happening Here (in the timeless present)
  • I am the identification with an I and the appearance of an I
  • I am always free from any identification with an I
  • I am the recognition that I always am free from an I

And so on…

It is a process of peeling off identifications, and it seems to…

  1. Allows an organic unfolding of the process.

    It is a gentle yet possibly swift unfolding, allowing for exploration and familiarity with the current edge(s) of our identity. And it seems to naturally unfold at a pace appropriate for each person – as long as the space is held by the other, through the repeated question and the neutral witnessing. This is another form of inquiry, and it has its own built-in regulation – moving along at just the pace right for the current process.

  2. Allows for a witnessing of what we are identified with.

    We go right to the edge(s) of our identity, we are given an opportunity to see where we are currently identified and to gently move beyond this. Whatever I think I am, is not it. Whatever I think I am, is exactly where there is a blind spot. Whenever there is an identity, it is an attachment to a thought, a belief, an abstraction – limiting what is.

Inquiry :: Teaching

 

I am not a good teacher (instructor, public speaker).

  1. No (at least not completely true.)
  2. (no)
  3. How do I react when I believe that thought?

    I look for evidence for it, such as blank stares when I talk and so on.

    If I believe that thought, then anything can become evidence for it – including the most innocent things such as people’s neutral facial expressions and even expressions of gratitude and appreciation (which I take as not honest, or maybe as a way to make me feel better!).

    How do I live my life when I believe that thought?

    I avoid teaching or public speaking situations. I tell myself that I am not good enough, and that others can do it better. I want to leave room for others to do it better, even if there may not be any others around (at least locally) to do it at all. I hold back. I get frustrated because I hold back. And I sometimes judge others for not teaching well enough, even telling myself that I can do better than that.

    It creates a sense of separation. When I do teach or give a talk, it creates a sense of separation with the recipients, with the topic and with myself. And when I am a recipient myself, it creates a sense of separation with the teacher or speaker.

    It is very dissatisfying, in many ways.

    How do I treat others?

    I may turn down teaching and speaking opportunities, saying that others can do it better. During teaching and speaking, I make the recipients into Other and experience separation.

    What is the payoff from holding onto that belief?

    I get to appear humble to myself and others. I get to show that I realize it can be done better, that my insights and knowledge is not as comprehensive as it can be, that others do it better than me, that I am not arrogant, that people deserve better than what I can offer. I get to be a victim, of my own beliefs.

    What is the cost?

    Frustration. Dissatisfaction. Feeling like a victim. Judgment of others. Sense of separation from recipients, the topic, myself, others in a teacher/speaker role. Holding myself back from sharing with others. Holding myself back from exploring topics more in depth through teaching and public speaking. Holding myself back from exploring the roles of teaching and public speaking, and what it brings up in me and how I can mature through it.

  4. Who would I be without that belief?

    I would have a sense of connection with recipients, the topic and myself, when teaching or speaking. I would connect through eyes, facial expression, humour, sincerity and more. I would enjoy it much more. And I would be open to and seek out teaching and speaking opportunities. I would explore the topics more in depth through teaching and speaking.

  5. (a) I am a good teacher.

    Yes, that is as or more true. I usually prepare well. I am present while teaching. I am focused on what the recipients may benefit from. I am sincere about my limited knowledge and experience with the topic (even if I knew more than anybody else, it would still be limited, still only scratching the surface). I am sincerely interested in the student’s questions. I speak from what is true and alive for me. People sometimes tell me they appreciate and enjoy the way I teach and speak.

    (b) My thinking is not a good teacher.

    Yes, that is as or more true. When I believe my thoughts, I take them as my teacher and guru, and am mislead my them. My thinking is not a good teacher if I take it as true, if I believe in it. Also, when I teach, I want to teach from what is alive for me – not from abstractions and thinking, although that is obviously included. I want the thinking to be in service of what is alive for me.

    (c) My thinking is a good teacher.

    Yes, also true. Through inquiry, I learn a lot about the interactions between thinking, believing in them, and my human life. My thinking is a good teacher in that sense. Also, my thinking helps me explore the world in a different way – through abstractions, analysis, differentiation and so on.

    (d) Others are not good teachers.

    Well, I sometimes see others as not good teachers – as not familiar enough with the topic, not aware enough of their hangups and blindspots (as if any of us are!), and so on. Also, others are not good teachers for my teaching. My teaching has to come from me, from what is alive and true to me in the present. I do it for myself, to explore the topic more in depth, to explore the role of the teacher, and so on.

    (e) Others are good teachers.

    Yes, everybody is a good teacher for me – no matter what – because they reflect me. They are my mirror. I learn about and see myself in them, no matter who they are or what they do. And I see that the reverse is true as well. I am always a good teacher for others, because they see themselves in me.

  6. I am willing to see myself as not a good teacher. I look forward to seeing myself as not a good teacher.

    Yes, because that will remind me to explore that belief.


New statements: People deserve better than what I can offer. I am not arrogant. I am humble.

Turnaronds for new statements…

  1. People deserve better than what I can offer.

    (a) People don’t deserve better than what I can offer.

    Yes, they get what they get. And they are free to not attend, or ask for the money back. That is their responsibility. Also, they see themselves in me.

    (b) People deserve what I can offer.

    >> Yes, I can offer something to them, both as a mirror and in terms of learning and exploration. I am them, helping them see it in themselves.

    (c) I deserve what I can offer.

    >> Yes, also true. Can I receive what I can offer? It is for me, after all. The activity, the teaching, the explorations, it is all for me. I am the one to receive it.

    (d) I deserve better than what I can offer.

    Yes, also true. I deserve better than what I, as a human being, can offer. And that is why there is a whole universe out here, reflecting back other things to me than what this human self easily can do.

    (d) I don’t deserve better than what I can offer.

    Yes, what is is.

    (e) I deserve what others can offer.

    Yes, it is for me. Can I receive it? Can I see myself in it? Can I take it as an opportunity to see and get to know me better? Can I take it in?

    (f) I don’t deserve what others can offer.

    Hmm… Well, not if I am not receptive to it. If I believe in stories, I am not all that receptive to it.

  2. I am not arrogant.

    (a) I am arrogant.

    Yes, as true. Especially if I believe in the thought that I am not arrogant! In that moment, I am. I set myself aside from others and from sides of myself. I make myself right, I make myself better than that.

    (b) My thinking is arrogant.

    Yes, or at least when believed in. As soon as I believe in a thought, there is arrogance. I split the world. I identify with something I see as right, and make something else wrong. I split the world into I and Other.

    (c) My thinking is not arrogant.

    Yes, also true. My thinking is innocent – just innocent questions about the world. It is only when I attach to them, when I believe them, when I make them right and something else wrong, that arrogance comes into the picture. Arrogance, from splitting the world into I and Other, into right and wrong.

Inquiry :: Death

 

She shouldn’t die.

  1. Yes (Feels true).
  2. No (Cannot know that is absolutely true, nor what is best for her path, my path, or anyone’s path.)
  3. How do I react when I believe that thought?

    Images of all the times we have spent together, how rewarding it has been for me. Sadness of losing it. Grief of losing it, even while she is still alive. Images of me without her in my life, and how empty it will be. Images of everything I will miss. Fear. Frustration of how unpredictable life is, that I cannot know when anyone will die – nor do anything to prevent it. Hopelessness. Feel trapped. Feel that life is unfair. I feel separate from her, from myself, from anyone else – because they will all die from me, and from life.

    How do I treat her?

    I either feel needy and want her attention, or sad and unable to connect very well.

    How do I treat myself?

    I play images of good times together, and of my own grief and loneliness after she is gone, in my mind. I torture myself by playing them over and over.

    What is the payoff?

    I get to feel that I appreciate what she has brought into my life, knowing it is transient. I get to see myself as a “good” person wanting someone else to stay around longer. I get to experience sadness and the depth and grounding in that.

    And the cost?

    Sense of separation – from her, myself, others, life. Sense of loneliness – even while she (and others) are still around. Sense of frustration and hopelessness. Sense of being a victim – of this life and universe where everything is temporary.

  4. Who would I be without that thought?

    Free to enjoy our time together and apart, free from my stories around it. Free to see what is conventionally called her “death” as just being apart, as I am daily even now.

    >> Free to be as I am right now, apart from her, even after what they call death. Free from adding any stories to it.

    Free to play the stories of our times together in my mind, and enjoy it, appreciate it, experience the love through that as I do now. Free to see that she will continue to live in me, as she already does when we are apart.

  5. (a) She should die.

    Yes, we all do. Everything born dies. Everything is transient. There is no renewal without death – stars die and create heavier elements allowing planets and life, organisms die and give space and matter to new organisms, cultures die and give space and nutrients to new cultures, species die and allow space for new species, ideas die allowing space for new ideas, insights die allowing space for new insights, and so on.

    She wouldn’t have been around in the first place if this was not inherent to the world of phenomena. She is born from death, and returns to death – as everything and everyone else.

    I also see how the world of phenomena, unfolding within the eternal Present, is always fresh, always new, always different. The whole world dies as what it was and is reborn as something else, continually.

    Also, when she dies it is as it should be. There are infinite causes to it. It is another expression of the whole.

    I also see that she should die in this memory, because she (most likely) will at some point. She will die in this (my) memory, and be gone from my world. Possibly when this body dies, possibly before, possibly later, possibly never – I don’t know.

    (b) My thinking should die.

    Yes, my thinking that she shouldn’t die is what should die. It is in conflict with what is, and only creates misery for me. It is an unexamined belief only.

    (c) My thinking shouldn’t die.

    Yes, true as well. My thinking about her shouldn’t die. If I want her to not die, she should stay alive right here, in my mind. That is about all I have control over, if that.

    (d) I shouldn’t die.

    Well, don’t know. What I find here is the timeless Present within which the world of phenomena unfolds, and since it is (or seems) unborn it (seems that it) won’t die. Really, I don’t know.

    (e) I should die.

    Yes, if I see “I” as this body/mind, it obviously should die, along with everything else in the world of phenomena. It all comes and goes. It is all transient. It is flow. Everything and everybody are guests, passerbys.

I will miss her and what she brings into my life.

  1. (a) I won’t miss her and what she brings into my life.

    >> That is as true. She will be with me right here, in my own mind, so I won’t miss her. And if she is not present even here, then I won’t know that she isn’t so I won’t miss her then either.

    (b) I will miss myself and what I bring into my life.

    >> Yes, that is also true. If I believe that I will miss her, there is a sense of separation even from myself, so I will miss myself and what I bring into my life. In believing the thought, there is separation, and a sense of loneliness. I am in her business, and nobody is here to take care of me.

    (c) I will miss her and what I bring into my life.

    >> Yes, also true. I will miss her, and what I bring into my life through (my story of) her. She serves as a catalyst for things in me, as a mirror for myself. I get to know myself in a different way through her.

I won’t have her as a mirror (for myself).

  1. (a) I will have her as a mirror.

    Yes, my stories about her will still serve as a mirror for myself. It may take a different flavor, but still be a mirror. And the role she served as my mirror will be taken up by others. There is a whole universe whose job it is to serve as a mirror for me, so if one part of it goes away there is plenty left to take up the slack.

    (b) I will have others as a mirror.

    >> Yes, that is true. It sets it in perspective. She may be gone in a certain way, but there is still the whole rest of the universe there – faithfully doing its job as a mirror for me. Mirroring me back to myself in innumerable ways. There is an infinite richness out there, even without her.

    (c) I will have myself as a mirror.

    Yes, I mirror myself – through my stories. My stories shows me what I need to see about myself to find who I am without any stories.

Inquiry :: Better & Worse

 

With this inquiry, I noticed I had an agenda beyond finding what is really true for me in the present, and this created a discomfort. Which, when brought into awareness, helps me stay more sincere. It is feedback, and my job is just to bring it into awareness.

I am better or worse than others.

  1. Yes (Certainly feels that way sometimes.)
  2. No (Cannot know for sure.)
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    I feel separated from others. I look for evidence for being better or worse than others. At the same time, I know it is not true – the idea of better and worse is just an idea, an overlay of what is.

    How do I treat myself?

    I am better: Congratulate myself. But also see that everything that I can possibly congratulate myself about is given – there are infinite causes to each one, reaching back to the beginning of time and the extent of the universe. Nothing really has to do with me.

    I am worse: Beat myself up. Feel depressed. Think it will never change. Is hopeless.

    How do I treat others?

    I am better: Arrogance. Superiority. Don’t listen to what the other person is saying. Don’t expect to learn anything from the other person. Ignore whatever wisdom may be there.

    I am worse: Apologetic. Try to avoid talking about the areas where I see myself as worse. Try to hide the areas where I see myself as worse, or try to avoid contact in the first place. Try to avoid standing out.

    What is the payoff?

    Get to feel separate. Get to feel right, whether I see myself as better or worse. Get to be confused as I believe in the idea of better or worse, and yet know it is not true.

    The cost?

    Confusion. Sense of separation. Sense of stuckness.

    How have I lived my life, believing in that thought?

    Better: In arrogance, lack of receptivity to others as they are and what I can learn from them. Try to get attention. Also shame, since I know it is based on nothing.

    Worse: In shame, in trying to hide, trying to avoid being seen and exposed.

  4. Who would I be without that belief?

    I would be clear. Who I am. Free from stories of how I am better or worse than others (or myself in the past, or a potential future). Free to join humanity more fully, to see myself in everyone. See that we are all in the same boat. Sense of connection and intimacy with others, myself and life. Receptive to others and what I can learn from them.

  5. (a) I am not better or worse than others.

    Yes, that is as or more true. We all share the same qualities (as far as I can tell). Anything expressed in/through any human being has infinite causes, reaching back to beginning of time and the furthest reaches of space. It is not personal. Also, it is all expressions and manifestations of life (or the universe, reality, existence, God, Spirit, the Ground).

    (b) My thinking make me look better or worse than others.

    Yes, that is more true. It is my thinking that creates stories of better or worse. And this is also what creates the confusion, since different thoughts and stories say different things, and none of them correspond with what appears more true for me in my immediate experience.

    (c) My thinking does not make me look better or worse than others.

    Also true. It is only the attachment to – the belief in – the thoughts that creates the experience of better or worse. The thoughts themselves are innocent.

Inquiry :: Life is a Burden

 

Life is a burden.

  1. Yes (Feels true, to a certain extent. The sense of it being a burden shows up as a background atmosphere in my life.)
  2. No (Cannot know that is absolutely true.)
  3. How do I react when I believe that thought?

    I notice a background atmosphere of feeling life as a burden. I feel hopeless. Trapped. No way out. Even when there is no obvious reason for it, there is an overlay of feeling life as a burden. It always stays in the background.

    How do I treat myself when I have that thought?

    I don’t allow myself to not feel that life is a burden. I feel slightly depressed. Hopeless. I don’t engage as much as I would otherwise.

    How do I treat others?

    I seek out others who see life as a burden.

    When did the thought come up first?

    I see how my birth family see stoicism as a value, and the same for my culture (life is a burden, but I can endure). My birth family see life as a burden, so I naturally picked it up – innocently. I also see that I think I should see life as a burden, because they do.

    What is the payoff from holding onto that belief?

    I get to be a martyr. To be stoic. To endure. To be a good person, stoic in the face of a life of burden. I get to fit in with others who see life as a burden.

  4. Who would I be without that belief?

    I would see life more as it is, without the overlay of the story of it being a burden. I would allow myself to not have the atmosphere of burden even when there is no obvious reason for it. And I don’t have to see situations that may appear difficult as a burden either. I can remove the whole layer of seeing life as a burden. I am free from carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, independent of how it shows up.

  5. (a) Life is not a burden.

    Yes, that is more true. Life is just what it is, and the burden only comes through my story of life as a burden.

    (b) My thinking is a burden.

    Yes, that is also more true. My thinking is a burden to me, especially when I think that life is a burden. Or more accuretely when I believe in the thought that life is a burden.

    (c) My thinking is not a burden.

    That is true as well. My thinking is innocent. If there is no belief in thoughts, they are just neutral – just like anything else, like clouds, coming and going. Inherently free from any sting.

    (d) I am a burden to myself.

    Yes, that is true as well. The burden comes from me seeing life as a burden.

    (e) I am not a burden to myself.

    Also true. I am not a burden to myself. Only the belief in the story that life is a burden creates the sense of a burden. Just a simple belief.

    (f) Others are a burden to me.

    Yes, they are when I believe I need to see life as a burden, just because they do.

    (g) Others are not a burden to me.

    Yes, also true. I am the one believing that I need to see life as a burden, if they do.

    (h) I am a burden to others.

    Yes, when I live my life from the story that it is a burden.

    (i) I am not a burden to others.

    That is right, too. I have my stories. They have theirs. If they don’t have a story of me (or life) as a burden, then there is no burden there. They are free from it.

Inquiry :: They should understand me

 

They should understand me.

  1. Yes (Feels true. Seems it would be easier that way.)
  2. No (Cannot know it is absolutely true. Also, cannot know what is best for my and their’s paths.)
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    Frustration. Agitated. Ants in the body. Sense of separation from them, life, myself. I go into inner monologues and imagined dialogues. I find ways of making it appear as I am right and they are wrong. I tell stories to myself where I am the hero and they are the villain. I feel wronged. Unjustly treated. Misunderstood.

    I sometimes lump them all into one group, even those who I feel more naturally aligned with. I lose even my allies this way. Other times, I find allies and create an uncomfortable atmosphere by reinforcing the idea of me right, them wrong. I may do this in a subtle and apparently balanced and sophisticated way, but I don’t trick myself by it. I know it is not true. I know that I am just reinforcing a fragile story making me appear right.

    How do I treat others?

    I become distanced. Cold. Polite. Formal. Try to avoid them.

    How do I treat myself?

    I blame myself for blaming them. I know that the story of me right and them wrong is not true. I blame myself for being caught up in delusion, for being caught up in my hangups and not being able to get out of or beyond it. I beat myself up, in many different ways.

    When does it come up?

    When I strongly want to be included, to belong. It comes up when I encounter new groups that I want to belong to. Where it feels important to belong.

    What do I get out of it?

    I get to tell the story of how I am right, although I also know it is not true. I get to be agitated and create misery for myself.

    Is there a peaceful reason to hold onto this belief?

    No. I cannot find any peaceful reason.

  4. Who or what would I be without that thought?

    I would be free to enjoy myself, to be myself with them. Sense of deepening intimacy with them, life, myself. Playfulness. Spontaneous.

    >> Intimately engaged, even if they don’t understand me.

    I would enjoy their diversity. Able to see how each of them mirror me, in different ways. I would be able to see that through their diversity, I can find my own diversity. Through their richness, I can see, find and explore my own.

  5. (a) They shouldn’t understand me.

    That is as or more true.

    They don’t, that is the reality of it as I see it, so they shouldn’t.

    Also, they cannot. There is no way they can understand me. It is built into life. We cannot fully understand each other, not even in a realization of selflessness.

    I also see how they not understanding me helps me see where I am stuck, it helps me see where I attach to stories, where I am blinded by a belief in a story. It is a reminder to me to inquire, to see what is really true for me behind the apparent and temporary confusion.

    And the natural and infinite diversity that arises from us not understanding each other allows for an (apparent) outer diversity which helps me recognize, explore and eventually live more of my inner diversity.

    For all of these reasons, they should not understand me. I can see the beauty in them not understanding me.

    (b) I should understand them.

    Yes. I should understand that they don’t understand me. I should have understanding for them not understanding me. Through this, I would be more accpeting of them as they are and of myself as I am, of us all being different.

    (c) I should understand my thinking.

    If I did, I would be free from the original belief. How would this benefit me and others? It would bring intimacy, playfulness, freedom, fluidity. There would be engagement with intimacy, free from that resistance.

    (d) I should not understand my thinking.

    Yes, I should not understand my thinking, in the sense of not believing in them and take them as real. This is to be free from it. Like a child. I wouldn’t know anything. I am revealed as innocent. My thoughts are revealed as innocent.

    (e) I should not understand them.

    Yes, I should see that I don’t, and that I cannot understand them. I should allow them to live their own life. This brings freedom and liberation, to myself and them.

    (f) I should understand myself.

    I should find intimacy with myself, and take it seriously. If I do, I wouldn’t want to be understood by others.

  6. I am willing to not be understood by others. I look forward to not being understood by others.

    Yes, because it is a reminder for me to… See that the advice is for myself – I should understand myself. Inquire into beliefs. Notice my inner richness mirrored in the outer diversity.

Inquiry :: Get Over It

 

Here is a thought that sometimes comes up, in various situations…

I should be able to get over it (pull myself out of it).

  1. Yes (Feels true.)
  2. No (Cannot know that is true. Also, don’t know what is best for my path. Maybe this is exactly what I need right now.)
  3. How do I react when I have that belief?

    Frustrated over not being able to pull myself out of it. Blame myself for it. Feel shame. Guilt. Fear of being stuck here, of never getting out of it. Fear of what may happen if I continue to be stuck.

    How do I treat others when I believe that thought?

    I apologize in various ways. I also sometimes try to hide this aspect of me, from shame.

    What is the worst that can happen if I don’t have that belief?

    I won’t be motivated to pull myself out of it. I’ll be stuck, and not notice or not want to change it.

    What do I get from holding on to that belief?

    I get a sense of (at least potentially) being in control. Of being a doer. An initiator. Someone who can change things. Someone who is relatively independent.

    I also get to be seen as someone who wants to pull himself out of it. Someone who is responsible, a “good” person.

  4. Who or what would I be without that thought?

    At peace with what is. Free from shoulds about it. Free from the extra layer of shoulds and thoughts around it. Free to allow what is, and the inherent dynamism in it – allow it to move along, unfold its process.

  5. (a) I should not be able to get over it (pull myself out of it).

    If that is what is, then that is the reality of it – until it isn’t.

    >> Also, it may be just what I need. I notice an identity as someone who is (a) a doer and initiator, and (b) capable of changing any situation to make it more pleasant, more aligned with my wishes and identity. This situation helps me see the attachment to that idea, and how confused it is. How confused I am when I believe in it. How much out of alignment with what is I am then.

    (b) I should be able to get over my thoughts (pull myself out of them).

    I should be able to pull myself out of them, through examining them – seeing what is more true for me, in my own immediate experience. All I need is to (a) notice stress, (b) find the belief(s) behind it and (c) inquire into it.

    (c) I should not be able to get over my thoughts (pull myself out of them).

    When I am not, then that is the reality of it. I am not able to pull myself out of them, there and then. And that is OK too.

    (d) They should be able to get over it (pull themselves out of it).

    Yes, and they can if they use inquiry. If it all comes together so they have the opportunity and interest in using it. Also, I see how my role could be to offer inquiry to others, more. To make it available for just those people who happen to cross paths with me, and can hear it from me.

    (e) They should not be able to get over it (pull themselves out of it).

    Well, same as for me. If they are not, then that is the reality of it. And it may help us all see our attachments to certain ideas, to a particular self-image. We hold onto a self-image of a doer, and this helps us see that it is not aligned with what is.

Inquiry :: Without Stories

 

Here’s another belief, somewhere there under the surface…

I often notice a difference between my conscious worldview (formed from first and second hand experiences, explorations of ideas, and what I would like to be true) and my beliefs (formed who knows how – probably from experiences with parents, family, subcultures, culture and so on).

For instance, my experience tells me that living without stories is a liberation and allows the inherent clarity, compassion, wisdom, receptivity and effortless effectivity of the mind to unfold. I see this over and over, in smaller and larger ways. Yet, I am also sometimes aware of beliefs in me saying something along the lines of…

Without my stories, something terrible will happen. (I will stay in situations that others see as very destructive and I am blind to.)

  1. Yes.
  2. No (Cannot know that for sure.)
  3. How do I react when I have that belief?

    Fear of what may happen if beliefs go away. Fear of not noticing situations destructive to me, of not acting, of not taking initiative. Fear of becoming complacent, a vegetable.

    What is the worst that can happen if I don’t have that belief?

    That I will get stuck in desctructive situations, without any desire to get out of it.

    What do I get from holding onto that belief?

    I get to hold onto beliefs. To not sincerely explore them. To hold back. To feel that I am stuck. To see any talk about allowing beliefs to drop as naive. To be right.

    How do I treat others when I have that belief?

    Impatient when they either contradict my stories, or I sense they want me to drop them. Defensive. Holding back. Pretending to go along, at best.

  4. Who am I without that thought?

    Free to be without stories, if that is what happens. OK with it. Able to enjoy it. Free from a sense of something terrible happening if I allow beliefs to go.

  5. (a) Without my stories, something terrible will not happen. (I will not stay in situations that others see as very destructive and I am blind to.)

    Yes, that is my experience. It frees up clarity, wisdom, compassion, receptivity, ability to engage more freely and appropriately – more from flow, from a sense of intimacy with myself, others, life, existence.

    (b) …

Inquiry :: Pressure

 

They should not put so much pressure on me.

  1. Yes.
  2. No (Cannot know that is true, nor what is best for their and mine paths.)
  3. How do I react when I believe that thought?

    Feel overwhelmed. Paralyzed. Too much pressure. Difficult to keep up. In over my head. Hopeless. Frantic. Blame them for the pressure. Feel separated from the project, them, myself and life.

    What do I get from holding onto this belief?

    I get to feel overwhelmed. I get an excuse for not getting it all done, or bailing out. I get to be right – they are the ones pressuring me.

  4. Who or what would I be without that belief?

    OK with what is. Free to engage without sense of pressure. >> Free to find my excitement in it, my passion, my enjoyment in the project. Free to enjoy it, free from the pressure. The whole atmosphere changes – from dark, oppressed, narrow, confined, separate to open, spacious, light, supported, enjoyable.

  5. (a) They should put so much pressure on me.

    Yes, because they do. Also, I agreed to do it so they are just expecting what I already agreed on. It is all on me. I welcomed it all in initially, and right now in the present.

    (b) I shouldn’t put so much pressure on me.

    Yes, I am the one putting pressure on me. I can see that it comes from wanting to do it, not outside pressure. It is all from me.

    (c) I should put pressure on me.

    Yes, that too. It all comes from my own wanting to do it, so it is all appropriate.

    (d) I should not put so much pressure on them.

    That is true as well. When I have a should about them, I am the one putting pressure on them. While it is all about me – I chose to do it initially, I am the one who agreed to do it, I am the one who want to do it, I am the one who is putting pressure on me, I am the one putting pressure on them.

    (e) I should put pressure on them.

    Yes, because I do. That is how it comes out. That is how it comes out when I believe the thought that they should not put so much pressure on me. It is the natural consequence of that belief, in this situation. Also, if I want something to change, I should let them know. I should put pressure on them, in that way – although if I am clear about the situation, it will just be clear communication, not really pressure.

    (f) My thoughts should not put so much pressure on me.

    Yes, that too. When the original thought comes up and I believe in it, my thoughts (appear) to put pressure on me.

    (g) My thoughts should not put so much pressure on them.

    When the original thought comes up and I believe in it, my thoughts (appear) to put pressure on them as well.

    (h) My thoughts should put pressure on me/them.

    Yes, that is what happens when there is a belief in them. It is just the natural process of it.

Inquiry :: Not Too Excited

 

I sometimes notice judgments coming up, especially in groups such as the diksha one, along the lines of…

They shouldn’t be too excited about awakening (or anything else that may happen in the process).

  1. Yes.
  2. No (Cannot know that is true. Also don’t know what is best for their path).
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    I am judgmental of them. See them as green, immature, early in the process, caught up in content and early phases. I see them as someone I don’t want to connect with too much. I create a separation to them, to myself, and to life. There is also judgment of my own judgment, seeing my arrogance in it and the sense of separation it brings.

    I judge myself also for whatever excitement may come up here. I try to separate myself from it, hold it at bay. Images come up of the times I have been burnt, after periods of passion and excitement (where “life let me down”).

  4. Who or what am I when I don’t have that belief?

    Free to enjoy their excitement. Free to allow my own excitement (without being attached to or pushing it away). Sense of intimacy with them and myself, my own experiences.

  5. (a) I shouldn’t be too excited about awakening.

    Yes, that is far more true. I am the one who shouldn’t be too excited about it, right now. The advice is for myself. This phase is one of seeing it as more and more ordinary.

    (b) They should be excited about awakening.

    Yes, they should. They are, it is the reality of it. Also, it is part of the process. It helps them stay with it, bring attention to it, allow it to unfold more fully. It is a beautiful part of the process.

    (c) My thoughts shouldn’t be too excited about awakening.

    Yes, true too. They probably are a little too excited about it. Can take more of a vacation now and then.

    (d) My thoughts should be excited about awakening.

    Yes. That is the reality of it, sometimes. Also, it helps stay with it, clarify, explore. Again, it is a natural part of the process.

Inquiry :: Teaching

 

He shouldn’t teach.

  1. Yes.
  2. No (Cannot know if that is true. Nor what is best for his path or those learning from him.)
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    I judge him for not being familiar enough with the larger terrain, for only knowing some sections of the terrain, for firm statements about areas he is not familiar with, for allowing his students to believe in what he is saying, for not placing his own teachings in context, for not acknowledging the limitations of his experience and teachings.

    I experience separation from him, his teachings, his students, and myself as well. I avoid his teachings, even though I see something of value for me there.

    I see him as green, not experienced enough, not well enough trained, not mature enough, not clear enough, not aware of his own limitations enough, not aware of his projections enough.

    What do I get from having that belief?

    I get to be right. I get to see myself as clearer than him, most honest, more aware of the larger terrain, more accurate. I get to experience separation from him. I get to not having to become his student, and take his teachings seriously. I get to not explore the teachings more in depth. >> I get to feel good about not teaching myself, and not wanting to teach.

  4. Who am I without that thought?

    Present. Clear. Able to hear him, free from the cloud of judgments and mental commentaries. Able to be receptive, free from the resistance to him and his teachings. Free to be his student or not, in any way that seems appropriate. Free to teach myself, following my own advice.

  5. (a) He should teach.

    Yes, because that is the reality of it. Also, it may be of benefit to him and even to his students. Not every teacher needs to be “perfect” according to an abstract ideal. His teachings may well be perfect for those who choose him as their teacher.

    They may get exactly what they need out of it, both in terms of content and in terms of whatever blind spots may be there. Imperfect teachers and teachings are reminders to trust our own immediate experience, to find the teacher within.

    (b) I should teach.

    Yes, true as well. First, I should be aware that I am teaching all the time anyway, just by living my life. We are all teachers, whether we want it or not, whether we see it or not. Also, I should teach more consciously – being aware of my life as teachings. And, I may also teach more formally, if the situation presents itself. Or not. At least, I should be free to do it or not, equally.

    (c) I shouldn’t teach.

    Yes, I shouldn’t teach him how to teach. It is his business. My advice is for myself.

    (d) My thoughts shouldn’t teach.

    Right, they shouldn’t teach by me believing in them.

    (e) My thoughts should teach.

    Yes, they point to ways to explore the world. They pose questions about the world. They help with communication. In all these ways, they teach and should teach.

Inquiry :: The Way it Used to Be

 

Sometimes, the thought it should be the way it used to be comes up. It can come up for my life as a whole, when I have a story that it is not going well, or it can come up in certain areas of my life, when I have a story that these areas are not going so well – not as well as it used to be, at some point in the past.

My life should be the way it used to be.

  1. Yes (That seems true sometimes, either as a whole or for parts of my life, compared with some times in the past.)
  2. (Cannot know that is true. Also don’t know what is best for my path.)
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    Sense of nostalgia. Sadness and grief over having lost what was, and what could have been. There are images of what was and what could have been, and I compare these with images of what is. Dissatisfied with what is. Finding examples of how things are not as they should now, and how they used to be better or could have been better. I blame myself and others for having lost what was, and being in a situation that seems less desireable.

    What is the worst that can happen if I don’t have that thought?

    >> I would forget about how it used to be, be happy with what is, and not strive to change or improve it. I may be complacent.

    What do I get out of that belief?

    Able to blame myself and others for having lost something good, and being in a less desireable situation. Feeling sorrow for myself, and inviting others to do the same.

  4. Who or what would I be without that belief?

    OK with what is, along with what was. Clear. Able to enjoy what is, whatever it is. Able to see it as all part of the same process.

  5. (a) My life shouldn’t be the way it used to be.

    No, the whole world of phenomena is process. Nothing stays the same. Life is flux. So how can I even believe that I should hold onto anything? Also, I can allow myself to enjoy the freshness of it. The newness of it. The sense of adventure.

    (b) I should be the way I used to be.

    Yes, if there were qualities alive in me back then, I can allow them back in the present. I can allow them their life right now.

    (c) I shouldn’t be the way I used to be.

    That is true as well. This is a new situation, which invites some qualities out and others stay more in the background, and that is OK. It is as it has to be.

Inquiry :: Crazy

 

I listened to a dialogue with Byron Katie this morning where she asked the audience how many believe all is good? and then how many believe all is God?

Answering those questions for myself, I see that there is a clear yes to the second question, but not so clear an answer to the first. In looking at the world, and my experiences (as a human being, and also realizing that all is God) what came up is God is crazy (!).

God is crazy.

  1. Yes (That was what came up for me first when I looked at it. I see that I cannot take it as a conscious worldview, that it is just meant for fun, but also see that it does reflect a more serious belief in me.)
  2. No (Cannot know that is true. Also cannot know what is best of all ours paths.)
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    Sense of amusement. Seeing the craziness of the world – that it is all God, yet most don’t realize it and create huge amounts of (apparent) troubles for themselves through that. Seeing the suffering, yet how that too is part of the game. Seeing the delusion, and how that too is God exploring itself, this time through suffering. It is pretty crazy.

    I also notice a certain confusion coming up when I attach to that statement. Confusion, bevilderment, sense of being lost. Sense of separation from myself, others, life, God.

    The statement is both amusing, and also confusing. I can see how it is just a story, just another overlay and filter. Just another projection. It gives some relief if taken lightly, but is confusing if taken more seriously.

  4. Who would I be without that belief?

    OK with what is, free from this layer of interpretation. Clear. Sense of intimacy with myself, others, life, God.

  5. (a) I am crazy.

    Yes, that is probably more true. I am crazy when I think God is crazy, because I attach to an abstract overlay on what is. Whenever I believe in any abstraction, I am crazy. And that is OK too.

    (b) God is not crazy.

    No, what is, is. Crazy is just another interpretation, another story.

    (c) My thougths are crazy.

    Yes, when I believe in them. They create craziness when believed in.

    (d) My thoughts are not crazy.

    No, they are just doing their job, innocently. It is only the belief in them which makes it appear crazy. Which creates a sense of separation and suffering.

  6. I look forward to seeing God as crazy.

    Yes, because it is a reminder of how I am patently crazy when I believe in abstractions.

Inquiry :: Hobos

 

We have hobo spiders in our house, and although I generally am quite generous in sharing living space with other beings, these particular ones are not so welcome. I notice a concern about these spiders in daily life, including when I take on my clothes (found a hobo in my laundry pile when I folded my clothes the other day), sit or lie on the floor (which I tend to do doing Breema, yoga, or reading), or other activities.

There should not be any hobo spiders in our house.

  1. Yes (It would be nice.)
  2. No (Cannot know what is the best for my path.)
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    I am watchful for hobo spiders, or any other spider that looks similar. I sometimes shake out my clothing before taking it on. I sometimes am concerned when I sit or lie down on the floor. I sometimes am concerned when going to bed, especially as we have a futon close to the floor and we quite often see hobos in the room.

    I image the many situations where I may be bitten by a hobo spider, and the possible outcomes – including large open wounds and scars, even on the face.

    I typically kill them when I see them. I experience some shame and regret by doing this, and justify it by telling myself that this is about survival – drawing on red and below Spiral Dynamics levels. It is my animal nature coming out. It is me/us or them.

    What is the worst that can happen if I don’t have that thought?

    I may be complacent, not try to minimize their numbers in the house, and get bitten.

    What do I get out of that belief?

    I get to feel that I am doing something to protect myself and the others in the house. I get to feel that I am flexible enough to operate from survival levels in some areas of life. I get to feel “right” about killing them to protect myself.

  4. Who would I be without that thought?

    Clear. Doing what seems neccesary to protect myself and others in the house, yet without drama or stories around it. Wouldn’t mentally obsess about it.

  5. (a) There should be hobo spiders in our house.

    Yes, because that is the reality of it. They are. Also, I don’t know what is best for my path. Maybe this is it right now. In any case, it is what is and there is little I can do about it.

    (b) There shouldn’t be hobo spiders in my thoughts.

    Well, at least not obsessively. I don’t need to make it into a drama by imagining what may happen. I can take neccesary precautions, and leave it at that.

    (c) There should be hobo spiders in my thoughts.

    Yes, because they are. And also because it is an aspect of taking care of myself and others in the house. In this case, compassion (or is it fear?) takes the form of killing a specific type of spiders, whether that is the most skillful way of going about it or not.

Inquiry :: Selflessness

 

I notice a hesitancy in me about stably realizing selflessness. It has come and gone in different ways, and I have been at the edge of it for a while now, but also notice how I hold back. One of the reasons seems to be a fear that it may be boring, which comes from listening to folks who present realizing selflessness as some goal, or even some final destination. This seems boring, and also not aligned with my (limited) experience of it.

Stably realizing selflessness is boring.

  1. Yes (That seems true when listening to some folks talking about it, although I also suspect it is not necessarily so.)
  2. No (Cannot know that is absolutely true. Also cannot know what is best of my path.)
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    I hover at the edge of it, not wanting to take the plunge into it. I hold back. Have a taste of it, and see that as sufficient. There is hesitation about going further. My intention is to hold back some, just enough for it to not be stable.

    What is the worst that can happen if I don’t have that belief?

    I may realize selflessness, and be bored (!) without noticing it. I may not go further. I may see it as a final destination. I may not deepen into it, nor deepen into living from it. In that case, it would indeed be boring.

    What do I get from holding onto that belief?

    I get to hold back. Stay at the edges for a long time. Not taking the plunge.

  4. Who or what would I be without that belief?

    Free to allow it in or not. Not stuck at the edge. Clear. Receptive. Adventurous. Interested in exploring that territory, and how to make it dynamic and evolving, and not boring.

  5. (a) Stably realizing selflessness is not boring.

    That is probably as or more true. I have seen many who obviously do not make it boring. They continue to develop, evolve, mature, engage in life – at their human level. They just do it from a different context. That is all.

    (b) I am boring.

    Yes, that is true as well. I am boring when I attach to the initial belief. I am boring because I hold back. Because I stay at the edge for a long time. Because I am not evolving when I hold onto that belief.

    (c) I am not boring.

    True as well. There is always change, always something new, even at that edge. It is not that different. Evolution, maturing, exploring, engaging – all that happens before and after realizing selflessness. There is no difference, apart from in the context.

    (d) My thoughts are boring.

    Yes, when I believe people presenting the realization of selflessness as a final destination or a goal of some sort. That is truly a boring view to me, and one that I adopt when I attach to that thought – whether I believe it or try to push it away.

    (e) My thoughts are not boring.

    True, as they are always changing. They come and go, freshly in the present, as everything else. They also engage freely in the exploration process of whatever happens.

Inquiry :: Something Can Go Wrong

 

Something can go wrong.

  1. Yes (Seems that way. Seems that things go wrong now and then.)
  2. No (Cannot know that is true. Is just an opinion, a story. Also don’t know what is best for my path.)
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    Afraid of what may go wrong. Playing a series of images of what may go wrong, the many ways it may go wrong, and the many possible consequences for myself.

    Afraid to engage in life. Holding back both my engagement and my enthusiasm and passion, from concerns of what may go wrong. Not able to enjoy the present fully, as my attention goes to what may go wrong.

    Ashamed for the many things that have gone wrong. Ashamed for what may go wrong.

    Frustration over not engaging as fully in life as I would, if I was not concerned about what may go wrong. Sense of loss, and sadness over that loss.

    Sense of separation from myself, others and life.

  4. Who or what would I be without that belief?

    Free to engage in life, and free to allow enthusiasm and passion. Free to allow things to go wrong. Free to enjoy it, even when it goes wrong. Free to reorient from clarity and a sense of intimacy with myself, others and life.

  5. (a) Nothing can go wrong.

    Hmm… The idea of something going wrong is just an idea. So in reality, things just happen – inherently free from being right or wrong. It is only our stories about it that make them appear right or wrong, desireable or undesireable. Realizing this, I am more free to engage in life – enjoying the process more independent of its particulars.

    (b) My thoughts can go wrong.

    Of yes, especially – or only – if I believe in them. I see that when I believe in my thoughts, they go wrong no matter what. I create drama and stress for myself, in many different ways. I become less clear and effective in the world. I become a victim of my own beliefs.

    (c) My thoughts cannot go wrong.

    That is true as well. They just do their job. They just live their own life. They are innocent, asking innocent questions about life. They only appear to go wrong when there is a belief in them. In themselves, they are completely innocent.

    (d) Others can go wrong.

    Yes, same as for me when I believe in thoughts, and live as if they are true.

    (e) Others cannot go wrong.

    Yes, again same as for me. We are all innocent, just confused when we believe in thoughts. We all just play it out the way we have to. It is all part of the process. And it is all God, it is all the play of God.

Inquiry :: Contractions

 

I notice that other people going into contractions and resistance sometimes trigger the same in me. So…

She should not attach to resistance.

  1. Yes (Because it is uncomfortable for me.)
  2. No (It is just what people do. Also, cannot know what is best for her and mine paths.)
  3. What happens when I believe that thought (and she goes into resistance)?

    I go into resistance myself. I resist her resistance, and I attach to my own resistance to her resistance. I do exactly what I see her do.

    What is the worst that can happen if I don’t have that belief?

    I wouldn’t care if I go into contractions or not myself. I would go into contractions, although I also see that going into resistance is what I do with the belief.

  4. Who or what would I be without that thought?

    Free to not go into resistance, even if others around me do. Free from having to mirror what I see in them. Free to stay in clarity. Free to follow my own process, independent of what I see in those around me (at least in this particular area).

  5. (a) She should attach to resistance.

    Yes, it is what she does, according to my story. It is her process. Her path. It is what people do. I cannot expect to only be around people who never go into resistance.

    (b) I should not attach to resistance.

    Yes, the advice is for me. When I see someone else going into resistance, I do not need to do the same. I can stay in clarity.

    (c) My thoughts should not attach to resistance.

    True as well. When I see resistance in others, I tend to fuel thoughts about that resistance so my own thoughts attaches to it that way. Again, my advice is for myself. I don’t need to fuel these thoughts. I can allow them their freedom.

Inquiry :: Center of Attention

 

Another residual belief – not completely aligned with my conscious view, yet apparently still there somewhere…

I shouldn’t be the center of attention.

  1. Yes (I can find that in me, although I don’t consciously believe it.)
  2. No (Cannot know that is true. Also, cannot know what is best for my and other’s paths.)
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    I resist being the center of attention, in many ways.

    I organize my life so I avoid being the center of attention. I avoid situations where I may be center of attention. I sometimes don’t speak up even when it seems appropriate to do so, and I want to speak up. I resent people for placing me at the center of attention, especially in larger groups.

    When I am the center of attention, I become very self-conscious and tend to lose some of my clarity and comfort. I act differently than I do individually with people, or with smaller groups I am comfortable with. I try to pass on the attention to someone else sooner rather than later, even if I do have something to contribute to the group.

    When I have something to contribute and hold back from sharing, there is a sense of frustration and even inauthenticity. I have something to share, I want to share it, the group may benefit from it, and I hold back from sharing because I don’t want to be the center of attention.

    What do I get from holding onto that belief?

    I get to avoid attention. To hold back. To be in the background. To avoid embarrassing myself. To avoid that particular form of responsibility, from being center of attention.

    I get to feel superior, judging those who are the center of attention from my safe place in the audience.

    What is the worst that can happen if I don’t have that belief?

    I may find myself at the center of attention in many different situations, and embarrass myself in many different ways. I may not have the sufficient knowledge or skills to impress people. I may stumble physically or in words. I may do or say something foolish. I may act so people’s impressions of me goes downhill. I may not be liked, or even actively disliked.

  4. Who or what would I be without that belief?

    I would be free to be the center of attention or not. Free to move fluidly between those two according to the situation, and what seems appropriate in the present. I would even enjoy being the center of attention, because it is a difference from how I have lived my life in the past.

  5. (a) I should be the center of attention.

    Yes, that is as true as the original statement. I should be the center of attention, because I sometimes have something I want to share, and it may also benefit others. I should be the center of attention, because I sometimes am – and I can be OK with that. And I should be the center of my own attention, especially in terms of exploring and inquiring into stressful beliefs. That too benefits both me and possibly others.

    (b) My thoughts should be the center of attention.

    Yes, when I notice stressful thoughts I can take them to inquiry.

    (c) My thoughts should not be the center of attention.

    Yes, that is true as well. They come and go as clouds. They are innocent questions about the world. So they are not really that important. They pale in comparison with clear, immediate experience and knowing of the present, the nature of mind revealed when beliefs fall away.

    (d) Others should not be the center of attention.

    That is true as well. When I am the center of attention, I don’t need to place my attention on others – on their impressions of me. If I do whatever I am doing for myself, in a way comfortable for me, it is far more enjoyable.

    (e) Others should be the center of attention.

    Yes, because they sometimes are for me when I am the center of attention. And that is OK as well.

  6. I look forward to being the center of attention.

    Yes, because I can then see if there are any (other) residual beliefs around it. Any further stressful beliefs, which I can then inquire into.

If I am the center of attention, I need to impress people.

  1. Yes (Seems true.)
  2. No (Cannot know it is absolutely true. Also don’t know what is best of my and others path.)
  3. Always looking for feedback and hints about how others perceive me. Always looking for ways to impress people. I know I can’t control others impressions of me and stories about me, but I try anyway.

    There is quite a lot of attention and energy going into this, taking attention and energy away from what I am doing, and how I can do it in a way that is meaningful, rewarding, comfortable and enjoyable for myself.

    What do I get from holding onto that belief?

    I get to be distracted while being the center of attention. I get a way to explain away any bumbling from my side. I get to perform less well than I do in a situation where that belief does not come up.

    What is the worst that can happen if I don’t have that belief?

    I will not try to impress people, and may do something stupid. I may act so that people create unfavorable stories about me.

  4. Who or what would I be without that belief?

    I would be myself when I am the center of attention, free from trying to live up to anyone’s stories about me and free from trying to manipulate others stories about me. I would be clear, comfortable, fluid. I may enjoy being the center of attention for a while, since I may have something to share, it is a role that goes around to many individuals so it is interesting for me to try it out as well, and it is different from how I have often lived in the past.

  5. (a) If I am the center of attention, I don’t need to impress people.

    That is as or more true. I do it for myself, not others. And I cannot control others impressions of me anyway. They create their own stories, no matter what, and these stories are likely to be something else than what I expect.

    (b) If I am the center of attention, I need to impress myself.

    Yes, also true. I can do it in a way that is comfortable for myself, and that would certainly impress me.

    (c) …

  6. I look forward to being the center of attention and needing to impress people.

    Yes, because that shows a stressful belief that I can take to inquiry, and explore what is really true for me around that.

Inquiry: Other People’s Stories About Me

 

I notice an uneasiness when people look up to me, similar to having people look down at me (although the latter is a little less stressful since I then don’t have anything to live up to!). I also notice an aversion to people having stories about me in general. It somehow feels like too much of a burden, too much to deal with. So…

He shouldn’t look up to me.

  1. Yes (That seems true. And I live, to some extent, as if it is true.)
  2. No (Cannot know that is absolutely true. Also cannot know what is the best for my – and his – path.)
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    I filter and regulate what and how much comes out, to regulate his impression of me. I hide in various ways, and play games with myself and him. I try to play down my own insights, clarity, power, skills and so on. I also allow it through just enough for him to see it.

    There is a frustration here in having gifts that are not shared as freely as what is possible. Of holding back.

    And there is a frustration in now knowing what his story is, and how to manipulate it effectively. There is a constant watching out for signs, for feedback, to allow me to manipulate his impressions more effectively and precisely. And a constant worry if it is working or not, and what type of strategy to use.

    I avoid being too skilled in anything. At the point where I glimpse how it is to have mastery, I tend to go on to something else. I choose to not follow my passions, to not allow my skills to mature and continue to develop. At the same time, there is frustration about not allowing my skills to continue to mature and refine.

    It becomes a balance between mediocricy and admiration, trying to avoid both. It is a struggle between the two. It is a loosing battle. I try to control how others see my, which I ultimately cannot do. And there is a deepening frustration over not continuing to explore and develop my skills and talents in many areas. There is a growing dissatisfaction over unlived life, potentials and possibilities.

    As long as I try to control the impressions of others, I cannot win. Partly because I cannot control the impressions and stories of others. And partly because when I do this by holding myself back, either in the situation or through not developing my skills, there is a mounting frustration and dissatisfaction.

    There is also a fear of falling down. Fear of doing something that does not match his story about me. And a wanting to do something that does not match his story. And the ambivalence between the two, and the shifting between the two.

    There is a sense of having to live up to somebody else’s story about me. I feel trapped by his story about me. And I also don’t know exactly what it is, and how to live up to it – or even how to deflate or puncture it.

    So there is a lot coming out of this simple belief:

    • Wanting to live up to his story of me. To reinforce it.
    • Fear of his story of me changing, deflating.
    • Wanting to deflate his story.
    • Wanting him to have no story about me.
    • Feeling trapped by his story about me.
    • Wanting to manipulate his story about me.
    • Not knowing exactly what his story of me is, so not knowing how to effectively manipulate it.
    • Watching for signs of what his story is, and how effective my manipulation is (in either reinforcing or deflating it).
    • Not showing my skills, insights, clarity, wisdom, power clearly in our interactions. Holding back in the situation.
    • Not continue developing my skills and talents in different areas, for fear of other’s looking up to me and its consequences.
    • Frustration and dissatisfaction over not developing these gifts, and over not feeling free to share them with others.

    Why shouldn’t he look up to me?

    I get uncomfortable with it. See that it is just his story about me, and has nothign to do with me. Yet, do not want that story placed on me. People start to behave differently to me. There is a sense of separation if they have a story about me which makes them look up (or down) at me.

    What is the worst that can happen if I don’t believe that thought?

    I would be OK with him looking up to me. And I would not want to control his perception and story of me. I may get arrogant, inflated. And he may not find his own clarity, skills, wisdom, power.

  4. Who or what would I be without the thought?

    Able to allow him to look up to me. Be OK with him looking up to me. Clear that it is his story, and has nothing to do with me. He is just reflecting himself in me. Able to see the beauty in that.

    I am free from his story. And I am free from needing to control his perceptions and stories about me (which I cannot anyway).

  5. (a) He should look up to me.

    Yes, because he does. It is what is happening.

    Also, because it allows him to reflect himself in me. He can familiarize himself with certain qualities through first seeing them in me, then in himself. It is a beautiful process, and it is a wonderful gift to someone else to allow them to use me as a mirror. This mirroring is a generosity built into our lives.

    (b) I should look up to me.

    Yes, admire the strenght, clarity, wisdom etc. that is there. Allow them their life.

    (c) I should not look up to me.

    No, because it is just a story.

    (d) I should look up to him.

    Yes, for him being free to allow me as his mirror. For beeing free to see himself in me.

    (e) I should not look up to him.

    Yes, I should not make his stories so important to me. They belong to his process, not mine. Making his stories so important to me is what brings up this stress for me.

Just Happens

 

During our walk Sunday, I shifted my shoulder bag over from one shoulder to another. I noticed how I initially tried to image and figure out how to do it, and then how it just seemed to happen on its own – in a different way than I expected, and much simpler.

This is just one of many examples of how things just seem to happen on their own. For every thing I look into, I see that it seems to just happen on its own. It is just happening.

There is a thought, coming out of the blue and then vanishing again. There is an intention, coming out of the blue and vanishing. There is a focus of attention, shifting around. There are movements. And it is all just happening.

Just happening

There are many ways to look at this.

One is that every instance has infinite causes, tied to the universe and existence as a whole. It is not possible to narrow it down to some factors and exclude other.

Another is that it is all happening within and as the ground. It is all emerging out of and as the ground, right where it is at. Its source is right there. The ground is a fountain from and as which the whole world of phenomena is arising right now, always new, fresh, different.

A more conventional way to look at it, which also is included in the situation, is that my conscious mind does not really understand how anything works. I may have an intellectual understanding how what happens in the brain when there are thoughts, intention, or a focus of attention, but that does not really explain what is really going in. It is an overlay of abstractions on top of something that is really utterly mysterious and unknown to me.

Even the seemingly most ordinary and daily activity is utterly mysterious. It has infinite causes, tied to the whole of the universe and existence. It goes on at a level where any layer of abstractions cannot touch it. It arises from and as the ground.

It just happens, seemingly in its own. When I look, I cannot find any “I” inherent in it, or inherent in anything else that “causes” it.

Ideas and explorations

Knowing this as an idea may be temporarily interesting, but not have much consequence. It is only another belief at best.

Sincerely exploring it – how this appears in my own immediate experience, is something else. It can slowly unravel our whole vague and unquestioned sense of an “I”, an I a separate and independent “agent” which brings these things about.

Shoulder bag

So in the case of the shifting of the shoulder bag, I find…

  • Awareness of sensations in the shoulder, the labels “pain” and “discomfort” placed on it, and the idea of this having to do with carrying the bag on one shoulder for a while.
  • An intention arising of shifting the bag over to the other shoulder.
  • Images arising of how this may look.
  • Movements happen in my arms and upper body, resulting in the bag shifting over to the other shoulder.
  • Surprise arising, of how it actually happened in a different way than the initial image of it.
  • Thoughts following the surprise, noting how my initial image was different than what happened.
  • Words spoken to Jen about noticing this.
  • A focus of attention shifting throughout this process, from sensations, labels, analysis, image of shifting the bag, the movements of the upper body, the surprise, the thoughts coming up from the surprise, the talking of it to Jen.
  • Awareness within which this all unfolds.

Is there an “I” anywhere in this? I cannot really find it. Even now, as I look for an I anywhere, I only find a conglomerate of sensations, feelings, mild emotions, thoughts, focus of attention, and awareness, each one apparently empty of any “I”. The seeing of it may be what appears the most as an “I”, but I cannot find an indisputable I even there. There is seeing, for sure, but is there a seer?

Inquiry

I also see that there is a wanting to not find an I anywhere, and this prevents me from engaging sincerely in the inquiry. I am looking for “no I”, so any hint in that direction is taken as evidence and an opportunity to say “good enough – there is no I here”. There is not the freedom to sincerly explore what is true in my immediate experience, whatever it may be – different from expectations and memories.

The times that realization has “popped” it has been great – freeing, liberating, blissful. And there is also the implicit “should” in many of the spiritual traditions: there is no I anywhere, so having a sense that there is comes from delusion. Of course, the should comes from myself.

I shouldn’t have a sense of an I.

  1. Yes (I can find that.)
  2. No (Cannot know for sure. Also, cannot know what is best for my path.)
  3. Restlessness. Notice a sense of I, the belief that I shouldn’t have it, and the discrepancy between the two. This gives rise to restlessness, discomfort, wanting to get away from the situation, distracting myself away from it. Vague sense of shame and guilt, of not being good enough, not clear enough. Wanting to jump to any evidence of no I, and be done with it – not having to explore and investigate it further. General restlessness and wanting to get away, bring focus to something else. Confusion. Latching on to memories of times of clearer seeing and abstractions around the topic. Go to abstractions rather than what is really true in immediate experience. Sense of seaparation from what is, including what is real for me in the present.
  4. Free to explore what is true for me, in my immediate experience – independent on whether it conforms to expectations of what to find or not. Able to inquire in a more sincere way. Able to enjoy the inquiry process more, independent of the specific findings. Sense of intimacy with what is.
  5. (a) I should have a sense of I.

    Yes, if there is a sense of I there, there should. It is what it is. Also, having a sense of I – and exploring its consequences – allows me more real empathy with myself and others.

    (b) My thoughts shouldn’t have a sense of I.

    (c) My thoughts should have a sense if I.

Inquiry :: Stuck

 

In some areas of life, I notice a hesitancy to commit to some things for longer time. This is especially the case where there is not a strong and complete “yes” coming up for me. The hesitancy seems to come from the thought that…

I will get stuck.

  1. Yes (Seems that it could be true.)
  2. No (Cannot know for sure. Also cannot know that wouldn’t be exactly what I need.)
  3. Fear of being stuck. Images of all the many ways I can get stuck, in all the many places I can get stuck, and all the many possible consequences of it. Sometimes avoid comitting because of this fear of getting stuck. Hold back. Wait. Sit on the fence. Allow life to pass by. Wait for the ideal situation, or until I get desperate enough to go ahead in spite of this fear.
  4. OK with whatever is. Clear. Able to go into something or not, free from the fear of being stuck. Able to make choices from clarity and more freedom.
  5. (a) I won’t get stuck.

    Yes, that seems as true. First, life is inherently change. It is not really possible to get stuck, there is only the appearance of stuckness – coming from belief in abstractions around it. Second, I can see how I have extracted myself from apparent stuckness in the past, and even learned something from it (although not painless).

    (b) My thoughts will get stuck.

    Yes, my thoughts do indeed tend to get stuck, especially when believed in. Of course, they come and go as everything else, but when there is a belief in them they tend to hang around. When I believe in them, they are fueled, either through resistance to them (which makes them more persistent) or by elaborating and ruminating on them, or both.

    (c) My thoughts won’t get stuck.

    That is also true. They come and go as anything else in the world of phenomena. They cannot really get stuck, even if believed in. Also, if I examine the beliefs, they are freed.

    (d) Others get stuck.

    That is true as well. I am not the only one who (appears) to get stuck. Others get stuck too, in many different ways – including many ways I may be freed from right now. There are innumerable ways to get stuck, and I tend to see my own stuckness far more than that of others.

    (e) Others don’t get stuck.

    Yes, life is flow, always fresh, new, different. Nothing is really stuck. There is at most a temporary dwelling in particular places, allowing us to deepen into, familiarize ourselves with, and inviting awareness into it.

Inquiry :: Universe

 

Another statement not aligned with my conscious view, but one that may still be there somewhere. This one comes up when I have worked towards something for a while, and the rug gets pulled out from under my feet at the last moment.

The universe is out to get me.

  1. Yes (Sometimes, it seems that way.)
  2. No (Cannot know that for sure. Also, cannot know what is best for my path.)
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    Fear of what may be next. Sense of living in an unpredictable universe, able to hurt me in various ways – or at least mess up my plans and intentions. Sense of insecurity. Sense of having to watch my back, yet knowing I won’t be able to. Sense of being at the mercy of vastly larger forces. Sense of being a leaf in the storm. A victim.

  4. Who or what would I be without that thought?

    I would be clear. OK with what is. Able to enjoy whatever is happening, whether it corresponds with my plans and hopes or not. Able to be with whatever is happening. Able to relate to the present from clarity. Take things in stride. Responsive to the situation and do what seems appropriate. Able to modify plans according to new situations, and be OK with it or even enjoy it.

  5. (a) The universe is not out to get me.

    That seems as or more true. If it was really out to get me, I wouldn’t be around now. And if it only meant to torture me, it could certainly do a better job at it.

    >> (b) I am out to get me.

    Yes, that is definitely as or more true. I am out to get me. Yes. I do that whenever I create stories about how the universe is out to get me. I actually do that when I believe in any stressful and unexamined story. I am the one out to get me.

    (c) My thoughts are out to get me.

    Yes, that is certainly true. My thoughts are out to get me, when I believe in them. Or I could say that they are out to get me, in the sense that they put out a bait and if I take it (believe in them), they get me. Every time. Of course, they are really completely innocent in this, but it can certainly appear as if they are out to get me.

    (d) Others are out to get me.

    Yes, I guess so. At least, they sometimes appear to want something from me.

    (e) Others are not out to get me.

    That seems more true. If they appear to want something from me, or “get” me in one way or another, it is because they believe in a thought.

  6. I look forward to the Universe being out to get me.

    Yes, because it will tell me whether I still believe that story, and if there is more to inquire into. It will explode the bomb, and allow me to explore it further.

Another statement not aligned with my conscious view, but I can certainly find it in me.

The Universe should play to my slightest whims.

  1. Yes (I can find that in me.)
  2. No (Cannot know that is true. Also, cannot know that would be best for my path. Actually, it is quite certain it would not – it would be quite a disaster in every way if it was true.)
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    Irritated whenever the universe does not follow my plans and intentions. Annoyed. Get caught up in the irritation and annoyance of it. Get stuck. Less responsive to the situation. Less able to adapt and change my plans and intentions. Sense of separation from the universe, others, myself.

  4. Who or what would I be without that thought?

    OK with what is. Receptive to the situation. Flexible. Fluid. Sense of intimacy with what is – the universe, others, myself. Clear. Free from being offended or annoyed when the universe shows up different from my expectations and plans.

  5. (a) The Universe should not play to my slightest whims.

    That is certainly as or more true. It would be a disaster if it did, for myself and everyone/thing else. Also, by not playing to all my whims, it allows me an opportunity to see when I am stuck in ideas of how it should be. It invites me to become more aligned with what is.

    >> (b) I should play to my slightest whims.

    That feels far more true. I should be responsive to myself, to my own slightest whims. I should take whatever comes up seriously, especially my wishes and intentions. There is valuable information and valuable gifts in those impulses.

    Also, in the context of this form of inquiry, I should pay attention to my whims – especially when they conflict with what is – as it gives me more fodder for inquiry.

Inquiry :: She shouldn’t talk so much

 

My partner exitedly told me about insights she had this evening, taking a stressful belief into inquiry (her insights are actually amazingly profound, detailed and clear). And as most of us do when exited about something, she talked about it for quite a while. At some point, I thought…

She shouldn’t talk so much.

  1. Yes (It feels true in the moment.)
  2. No (Cannot know that is absolutely true, nor that it would be better for her or my path.)
  3. When I have that belief…

    I become distracted from what she says. My attention goes to the thought that she shouldn’t talk so much, and from there easily wanders elsewhere as well. There is also a discomfort in my body. And discomfort from seeing my thoughts about her and my wandering attention. There is a sense of disconnection between us, and to myself.

  4. Who or what am I without that belief?

    My attention would be on what she is saying, as it was before this thought came up. I feel a sense of connection with her and myself.

  5. (a) I should not talk so much.

    Yes, that is definetely as or more true. The moment that thought comes up, and I believe in it, I am the one talking too much. I engage in a silent monologue about how she should not talk so much, and this prevents me from being with what she is saying.

    (b) She should talk so much.

    Yes, she should because that is what she does, until she doesn’t. She also should because she is exited about her insights, and this is how that exitement comes out in this situation. And she should, because I actually truly enjoy listening and learning from it.

    (c) My thoughts shouldn’t talk so much.

    Yes, this is true as well. It is a more accurate statement of what came up in (a). At the moment the thought she should not talk so much comes up, and I believe in it, I fuel it, make it stay around, elaborate on it, and engage in an inner monologue around it. This inner talking prevents me from listening to her words. It also creates a sense of separation from her and myself.

Inquiry :: Life is a struggle

 

Life is a struggle.

  1. Yes (I can find that in me.)
  2. No (Cannot know that is absolutely true, or that it always has to be that way.)
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    Sense of dread, from just being alive. This world is struggle, and there is no escape. Sense of closing down, of needing to develop and maintain and fine tune protection. Sense of deadening. Of just surviving. Sense of living in an oppressive universe. Sense being abandoned. Sense of separation and alienation. Sense of the universe being an unfriendly place. Of life being a drag with only occasional reprieve. In going into any situation, I expect struggle. I look for struggle. I may even seek – or create – struggle.

  4. Who or what would I be without that thought?

    Free to experience what is without an overlay of expecting struggle. Free to be with life as it shows up, as struggle or not. Free from the lens of struggle.

  5. (a) Life is not a struggle.

    Yes, that is as or more true. It is a struggle when there is a belief in thoughts, and not if there is not.

    (b) My thoughts is a struggle.

    Yes, that is true as well. They are, especially – only – when believed in. Then they inevitable create a sense of struggle, with others, myself the world.

    (c) I am a struggle.

    Yes, that is also true. It is especially true whenever I believe in thoughts, and especially the thought of I – of the idea of I placed on any segment of what arises, whether it is my human self, seeing, or something else.

I need to protect myself.

  1. Yes (I can find that in myself.)
  2. No (Cannot know that is absolutely true. Cannot know that it will always be that way for me.)
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    Always looking for (a) what I need to protect myself against and (b) ways to protect myself. It is a paranoid mindset. Anything and anyone is something to potentially protect myself from, and just to be on the safe side I assume that I need to protect myself against everything and everyone. The whole universe is something I need to protect myself against, because I never know what may happen. It is an unpredictable place. The only thing I can control, to some extent, is how I protect myself. And I see that I not only need to protect myself against the outer world – situations and other people, but also against myself. What comes up in me is also unpredictable, so I need to protect myself from that too. I can never or rarely let the guard down, and if I do – it is only for short periods. I see that this sucks up a lot of energy.

    How do I treat others when I believe that thought?

    I am guarded and suspicious. And I keep that under the surface so I won’t trigger something in them, it would just be another thing to protect myself against.

    What is the worst that can happen if I don’t’ have that thought?

    I will not protect myself and get hurt in various ways.

    What do I get from believing that thought?

    I get a sense of being in control, if only in a quite limited way. I get a sense of protecting myself, of relative safety.

  4. Who or what would I be without that thought?

    Free to deal with what comes up, as it comes up. Free from the confusion and cloudiness of the belief. More receptive. More present. Clear. More responsive to the situation. Sense of intimacy and connection with myself, others, the world. The natural clarity, wisdom and responsiveness of the mind – freed from beliefs, would have a more free play.

  5. (a) I don’t need to protect myself.

    Yes, that is as true. I really cannot protect myself. And in the absence of the initial belief, there is the natural clarity, wisdom and responsiveness of the mind which tends to do what needs to be done in any situation.

    (b) My thoughts need to protect themselves.

    Hm… Well, they need to protect themselves against beliefs. When they are free from beliefs, they function well – in clarity and through free explorations. When they are believed in, their clarity and explorations drown in the struggle that comes up.

Inquiry :: I need to struggle

 

In the series of inquiries into beliefs not aligned with my conscious worldview, but possibly still present somewhere…

I need to struggle (to grow, mature, awaken, have an interesting and meaty life).

  1. Yes (I can find that in me, although it is not completely my conscious view).
  2. No (Cannot know that for sure, nor that it will always be my path).
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    I seek out places to struggle – situations that are difficult, challenging, not easy. And I tend to leave situations where things are going smoothly, where there is ease. There is a sense of struggle and ambivalence in all of this – seeing that I sometimes leave easy and meaningful situations for those which are more challenging in many areas. A sense of loss sometimes, and wondering why I follow this pattern. Does it all come from just a belief? Am I blindly trapped in it? Fear of what this pattern may bring in the future.

    What is the worst that can happen if this belief goes away?

    I won’t mature. I will just live an easy life, with little friction and little growing.

  4. Who or what would I be without that thought?

    Free to enjoy life as it is, whether there is ease or struggle.

    >> Free to stay with what is, even if it is easy, free of struggle.

  5. (a) I don’t need to struggle.

    Yes, that is as or more true. There are several places in life where I don’t struggle, and it goes fine. I don’t need struggle everywhere, nor all the time. It is there if it is there, and if not – that is OK as well. I can even see the possibility of a full and rich live without sense of struggle, and that being very much OK as well.

    (b) My thoughts need to struggle.

    Yes, I can see that. In some ways, its their job. They struggle with the world, with situations, differentiating, sorting out, asking questions. And that is fine. It is what they are there for.

    (c) My thoughts don’t need to struggle.

    I can see that as well. They are just doing their job, exploring the world through abstractions, and there is no need for an overlay of struggle. And this overlay of struggle comes from beliefs in the thoughts, so when the beliefs fall away, they are free to function without struggle.

I need to fail in the world (to awaken, to have an interesting and meaty life).

  1. Yes (Feels true, at a certain level.)
  2. No (Cannot know that is true. Also, cannot know that is my only path.)
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    Excitement of failure, looking forward to failure – in whatever way it comes up, at micro and macro scales. Also dread of it. A great deal of ambivalence. And expectation of it, expecting it to come up one way or another, in any area of life. I also realize that I don’t quite know what failure means, apart from in the general and fuzzy conventional sense.

    >> I may also set myself up for failure in various ways, seeking difficult situations and that which falls apart, and leaving that which is going well, where everything falls into place. I seek that which is difficult and does not go well, because it seems more meaty. I leave that which goes well, because it seems too easy.

    What is the worst that can happen if this belief goes away?

    I will not get the lessons I need to mature, awaken, have a full and meaty life. And I will be blind to what I am missing out of.

  4. Who or what would I be without that thought?

    Feel to enjoy what is, whether it is easy and enjoyable or not. Maybe especially that which is easy, falls into place, and enjoyable.

    Free from seeking the “meaty” only in difficult situations and that which falls apart.

    Free from thinking that I need to see problems and difficulties to mature, grow, find realization, awaken, find meaning in life, fulfill my path.

  5. (a) I don’t need to fail.

    Yes, that is as or more true. There are many examples of me not failing, according to conventional and other views. Some examples: I have a reasonable good education. I live in a relatively large and very nice house. I am in a long-term relationship which is going quite well. I have a minimum amount of insights into how we function as humans (although quite limited as well). I have OK skills in many areas (although always room for improvement). I am still alive. I am relatively healthy. I have good friends. I experience joy and enjoyment throughout my daily life.

    (b) My thoughts need to fail.

    Yes, that is also as or more true. It is their nature to fail, in the sense that they are just maps of the terrain, just abstractions, the menu rather than the meal.

    Also, my thoughts can be said to fail when they are believed in, when they are taken as accurate representations of the terrain. They need to be noticed when they fail, and they fail when there is a belief in them.

    (c) My thoughts don’t need to fail.

    No, they do their job perfectly as abstract explorers of the world.

    Also, if they are seen as failing when believed in, there is inquiry and the possibility of releasing them from belief. When they are released from belief, they are seen as what they are – abstract explorations of the world, and how they serve a very useful function in that way. They are not failures anymore, only useful tools.

    (d) Others need to fail.

    Yes, because they do too (according to conventional views on failure, either at macro or micro scales and in different areas of life).

    (e) Others don’t need to fail.

    Yes, and also because each of them don’t fail in many different ways.

Inquiry :: Object in the world

 

I am an object in the world.

  1. Yes (Seems true, to a certain extent.)
  2. No (Cannot know for sure.)
  3. What happens when I believe this thought?

    I appear as finite and limited.

    As finite, I will die and this brings up fear. As limited, I am impacted by all the other objects in the world and am at the mercy of the unpredictable movements of all these objects.

    I see I want contact with some other objects and avoid contact with other. I easily get caught up in fear, likes and dislikes.

    There are images of the many ways I can die and its consequences for those left behind, including their grief.

    There is fear of contacting unwanted objects, and images of the many ways this can happen and its many possible consequences for my life.

    There is also fear of losing other objects I am in contact with and enjoy, such as partner, family, friends, teachers, a peaceful community, house, money, affluence, and so on.

    I see the drama that comes out of this belief. The drama of struggle, and the suffering from being caught up in attractions and aversions.

  4. Who or what would I be without that belief?

    Free from fear of death, and of things coming and going. Free from blind attachments. Able to enjoy more the comings and goings, the fluidity of it all, the freshness.

  5. (a) I am not an object in the world.

    Yes, that is as or more true than the initial statement. When I look, I see that I am that in which it all unfolds (the awareness, space) and also what unfolds. Even right now, I can find myself as the timeless time unfolds within, the spaceless space unfolds within.

    (b) My thoughts are objects in the world.

    Yes, that is as or more true as well. My thoughts are definitely objects in the world, along with everything. They come and go as everything else. They are part of the field of phenomena, coming and going on their own.

Inquiry :: He shouldn’t have believed in stories

 

I watched the Prison of the Mind video with Byron Katie Monday evening, and felt a great sadness coming up in seeing the suffering beliefs in stories brought about. I realized that this sadness was really for myself.

He shouldn’t have believed in stories.

  1. Yes (Seems true, would have been much easier for him without those beliefs.)
  2. No (Cannot know that is true.)
  3. Deep sadness, for all the suffering he went through in believing those thoughts. For all the mental suffering, and for possibly bringing himself into prison through it. Fear, for something similar happening to me. For being blinded by beliefs and doing something irreversibly stupid. Even greater sadness for humanity, for seeing this play itself out at a large scale.
  4. Clear. Free to appreciate his path, for seeing the beauty of it, and especially the beauty of the opening up – through inquiry into his beliefs. Sense of connection and intimacy with him, from recognizing the same in myself – both the suffering from beliefs, and the openings from inquiry into them.
  5. (a) He should have believed in stories. (Yes, that is as or more true, because it is what he did. Everything came together for that to happen, as it came together for him to inquiry into it later on. There is a great beauty in this.)(b) I shouldn’t have believed in stories. (Yes, that is true as well. It brought – and brings – suffering and confusion to my life.)

    (c) I should have believed in stories. (Yes, true as well. For me too, it all came together for me to believe in those stories when and the way I did. It all played itself out beautifully.)

New statements for inquiry: It is much easier without beliefs. I can do something stupid.

I shouldn’t have believed in my stories.

  1. Yes (It seems true, because it would have been much easier without them.)
  2. No (Only an opinion. Cannot know it would have been easier or better, or even what is better.)
  3. What comes up when I believe that thought? Sadness for having believed in them, for all the suffering and confusion in it. Grief for choices made from this lack of clarity, and for loss of what could have been. Guilt for having inflicted this upon myself and others. Shame for the way I acted, and for not having seen this sooner.

    What is the worst that can happen if I don’t have that belief?

    I will be blind to the beliefs I still have. Or if I see them I won’t be motivated to inquire into them.

    How do I treat others when I have that belief?

    I experience shame, and don’t want others to see the confusion, the beliefs, the struggle, the loss. I want to hide and be invisible, or at least hide it and make it invisible – although I know I can’t.

    What do I get out of it?

    I get to be right. I get to appear remorseful and insightful and show my good intentions. I get to appear as – or at least as wanting to be – a good human being.

  4. OK with what is. At peace with having lived my beliefs, as I did – and still do. I may even appreciate how it all played out in my life. See the contributions from it.
  5. (a) I should have believed in my stories.Yes, this is as or more true. I did. I see that I only held onto them because I couldn’t do anything else. As soon as I inquire into beliefs, and see them clearly, they fall away – it is as dropping a piece of hot coal as soon as I notice I am holding onto it. When I hold onto them, it is only because I cannot do anything else right then – even if there is a great deal of suffering from it.

    Can I find three benefits from having believed in these stories?

    • Made for an interesting life. Movies are often more interesting due to the twists of fate, the struggles, the redemption and so on, not in spite of them – and I can see how it is similar with our lives.
    • The insights that comes from it, and from inquiring into these beliefs, are more real to me from having lived it.
    • It deepens my compassion and understanding for myself and others. It brings a different sense of connection and intimacy.

    (b) My stories should believe in me.

    Yes, that is also as or more true. If I believe in stories, it may as well be stories that believe in me!

New statements for inquiry: I can be a good or bad human being. If I don’t see beliefs as undesireable, I won’t be motivated to inquire into them.

Inquiry: Believing in thoughts

 

When I believe in a thought, I have to act in a certain way

Recently, I have mentioned to a couple of people how I – through the Byron Katie inquiries, can see more clearly how we all have to act in certain ways when we believe certain thoughts.

There is a belief in a thought, and this brings up relatively predictable and universal consequences in our experiences and actions. Although it is all also modified by our other beliefs.

Seeing this brings up a great deal of compassion for myself and others. We are all innocently playing out what has to be.

Tonight I mentioned the same, and immediately the question came up is it true?

When I believe a thought, I have to act in a certain way.

  1. Yes (It certainly seems true. There is a belief in a thought, and the consequences seem pretty predictable and universal, modified by our other beliefs.)
  2. No (I cannot know it is absolutely true. Since it is just an opinion, it is probably not absolutely true.)
  3. When I believe that thought, there is…

    Compassion, from seeing how we are all playing it out – innocently, although also sometimes with great drama. Also, a sense of stuckness, of being trapped, although I know there can be release through inquiry. A sense of smugness, that I have found the “key” and not everybody else has. Which in turn brings up compassion, and sadness for the suffering we are all creating for ourselves this way. The sense of being trapped comes up more strongly, of there being no way out. Of being trapped in habitual patterns, and completely impersonal patterns. And of not knowing if there really is a way out. Maybe there is not?

  4. If I cannot have that thought, there is…

    Peace. Openness. Receptivity. Freedom to explore it further, to see both the ways predictable patterns play themselves out, and even other options. Freedom to explore it further, with receptivity and curiosity, just for the sake of seeing what is there. Not needing or even wanting to know in advance what I will find.

  5. (a) When I believe a thought, I don’t have to act in a certain way. (How is this as true as the initial statement? Can I find a place in my own life where it is true? Yes, I can. I see that through inquiry, there is a liberation from the belief. I can notice the typical signs of a belief, such as a sense of contraction and narrowing of possibilities, and then take it to inquiry. Sincerely see what is true for me there, behind the assumptions of the belief. And who knows what that may lead to? Maybe a certain freedom from having to act according to particular beliefs, or not. Both are OK.)

    (b) When I don’t believe in a thought, I have to act in a certain way. (Yes, I can see how this is true. When there is a freedom from beliefs, there is still an impulse to act in a certain way – maybe now from more clarity, and this too comes from somewhere. It is not unconditioned. At the very least it may be conditioned on whatever is present and available in the moment, including whatever insights and obscurations are there, whatever skills are available, what comes up in the outer situation, and so on. I see how the whole idea of conditioned or unconditioned is somewhat silly, just a struggle between two ideas.)