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.)

Inquiry :: I can lose something

 

Within the same topic, there are not only several angles that beliefs come in at, but also several layers and levels of beliefs.

There is the level of specifics, such as I shouldn’t make mistakes. And then there is the level of more core beliefs, such as it is possible to make a mistake or mistakes exist.

So here is a deeper belief for me, underlying many particular beliefs I have worked on the the past…

I can lose something.

  1. Yes (That definitely seems true. I can think of many things I can lose – such as my life, my health, relationships, opportunities, on and on.)
  2. No (I cannot know that for sure. I appears that way to me, right now, but that is all. I also don’t know that loss is not exactly what is needed in certain situations.)
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    Fear of losing my life, health, relationships, opportunities, insights, awakenings, realizations, money, house, certain possessions, supportive circumstances, my wife, parents, friends, teachers, books, music, sense of connection with God, anything familiar to me, and much more. The list is endless it seems. There is always more that I can fear loosing.

    There is also dread coming up, from anticipating loss. Fear, dread, horror, terror, sense of something horrible will happen, fear of the unknown happening. Fear of not knowing what may happen or when, of not knowing what I may loose at some point in the future and when.

    There is a wanting of holding onto what I have, as much as I can. Of not wanting to let it go. And then of guilt of not being able to hold onto it, and even of trying to hold onto it. Guilt and shame, for not being able to hold onto and of wanting to hold onto.

    There are images coming up, of everything I can loose, the many ways I can loose them – again apparently endless, and of what may happen to me if I loose them – again an endless parade of images one more horrible and terrifying than the other.

    I also go through lists of the range of things I can loose, and again the many ways it can happen, the many ways I can try to prevent it from happening, the many ways it may impact me, and so on.

    How do I relate to others when I have that belief?

    I view them with suspicion. Can they help me hold onto something? Or can they take something away from me, or even induce me to let go of something? I am guarded. Watchful. Suspicious. Holding them at bay until I can discern these things more accurately, which I never can to my own satisfaction.

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

    I may not mind loosing things, to the point of not even trying to hold onto anything. I may just become a mindless vegetable, allowing everything to fall away from me – even things that I could have taken care of better and hold onto better.

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

    I would be free from fear of loosing something. I would be OK with things coming and going, as they do all the time on their own, largely outside of the sphere of my influence. I would be clear. OK with what is. Even able to enjoy the comings and goings of everything.

    And I see that I would be perfectly able to take care of things as well, maybe even more appropriately and effectively – without the turmoil coming from holding that belief. I would be clear to take care of things – health, relationships, objects – in a more appropriate, effortless and effective way.

  5. (a) I cannot lose anything.

    How is this as or more true than the initial statement?

    This is not immediately clear to me. I need time to allow it to sink in. I cannot lose anything… Hm… I can see that everything that I lost externally is still alive in my memory, at least that which I can still remember! That is one way it is true. It is still with me, as a memory.

    Also, things are not really lost – only transformed. The world of phenomena is a seamless process, always forming itself in new ways. Everything dies as what it is and is reborn as something else, all the time. In a way, everything is always lost, so it is not really possible to lose anything in particular in addition to this. At the same time, it is never really lost – only transformed.

    Also, it is all God manifesting in various ways. The same essence, or whatever we want to call it, is there in everything. It is all the play of God, and I have experienced and do experience that to varying extents.

    (b) I cannot lose some things.

    Hm… Are there things I cannot lose? Well, the only “thing” I can find that I cannot lose is awareness. When there is any sense of seeing, there is always awareness. If not, then there is no seeing either, so no experience of loss. This is all I can find in my immediate experience, and what seems indisputably true.

    When there is awareness of anything, there is at least awareness. And if there is not even awareness, then there is not even awareness of any loss of awareness.

    (c) Some things cannot lose me.

    Again, awareness is the only “thing” that comes up. Awareness can never lose me.

    (d) I can lose nothing.

    Well, this comes back to the initial turnaround. Nothing is really lost in my memory, as long as I can remember it. And if it is lost both in the external world and in my memory, there is no awareness of loss.

    This is actually quite interesting. Looking at it this way, I see that no real loss is possible. Either, it remains alive in my memory, or it is gone completely to the point of no awareness of loss. I see here that life is quite merciful in this way.

    It is only the idea of loss that is torture, when I believe in it. If I am with what is, what is real in my own experience, there is either no real loss – or no awareness of loss. Either way, life is mercifull.

What Do I Really Want?

 

One way of inquiry is to ask what do I really want right now?

I find this helpful in daily life, in making choices in the present that are a little more rewarding.

Last night, I went to bed and saw that I had the choice between going to sleep right away, or listen to BBC World Service (which I sometimes do) or a talk by Joel (from Center for Sacred Sciences). My first impulse was to listen to BBC, but then I took time to ask myself what do I really want right now?

Between the two audio choices, I saw that BBC was attractive to the scattered tendency of my mind right then – it was entertainment, a distraction, going outwards to some extent. But then I also saw that although listening to BBC is rewarding, it is also just the same stories over and over – as news generally is. The same stories, just with new names, locations, dates. I usually do some inquiry into my own experiences and reactions while listening to the stories, but then also typically fall asleep and wake up at 1am with headphones still on!

Listening to the talk would be far more rewarding and interesting. So although BBC came up as the initial impulse, I saw that listening to the talk was what I really wanted. And it turned out to be a good choice.

Right now, I have a few minutes between ending this entry and somebody coming over for a Big Mind session. I have the choice of doing a few more things on the computer, or do some brief yoga and maybe a few minutes of sitting. What do I really want? When I look, I see that although the initial impulse may be to continue doing something on the computer, I really want to do the yoga and meditation. It is far more rewarding. If I hadn’t taken the few seconds of inquiring into my experience right now, I would probably have gone with the computer option.

This is another way of using the two first questions of the Byron Katie style inquiry. Is it true? Can I absolutely know it is true?

Is it true that I want to spend some minutes on the computer? Not really, especially not if the alternative is yoga and some sitting practice.

And the same goes for work. I have a project that may not have a specific deadline but I need to get it done in not too long. I may have the impulse to hold off on it and do something else first, maybe less productive. So again I may inquire into the options and what I really want. Do I want to do something else right now, or finish it up?

As with any inqury, I see how important it is to be sincere and honest with it. To really want to discover what is true for me now. And this is always, to some extent at least, surprising. I never know until I look.

Inquiry :: Hating Life

 

I listened to an interaction Byron Katie had with someone last night (on CD), and at some point somebody in the audience said I hate my life.

It struck me as a very powerful statement, and one that I can find in my own life if I look – as seems true for just about any statement. Although it is also not one I would come up with on my own to work on.

So I decided to explore it for myself. How is it for me if or when I believe that thought? How is it for me right now, assuming that I believe it to some extent? How would it be if I strongly believed it?

I hate my life.

  1. Yes (I can find it in me. It seems true to a certain extent – sometimes and in some areas.)
  2. No (Cannot know that it is really true.)
  3. If I believe that thought, there is… Dread, for another day. Guilt and shame, for not dealing with my life better. Fear, of this prision to never go away. Drained, of passion, energy, joy, interest. Not wanting to live. Shame of how I live my life. Wanting to become nothing. Shallow breathing. Contracted muscles. Separation, alienated from my life, others, life, existence. Wanting to hold it all back, bring it all to a stop. Wanting to paralyze my life, to deaden my life, to numb my life, to numb my experiences, passions, relationships, engagement. Wanting to drain any passion for my life, wanting to become nothing, empty, to disappear. Want to obliterate it all, through dying or at least dying to life, to anything juicy, alive, passionate, joyful in me.
  4. If I don’t believe that thought (or couldn’t think it), I am… OK with my life, as it is. Can even allow myself to enjoy it. There is a breath of fresh air, or lightness. The passion comes back, the engagement, the joy, the interest.
  5. (a) I don’t hate my life. (Yes, that is as or more true. I enjoy much of it, even the unpleasant aspects sometimes. Some examples: I don’t hate my explorations of life. I don’t hate the various forms of inquiry. I don’t hate Breema. I don’t hate my relationships. I don’t hate my opportunities. I don’t hate being alive on a beautiful spring day as today, breathing in the fresh air. I don’t hate eating good food. I don’t hate meaningful activities.)

    (b) My thoughts hate my life. (Yes, that too is as or more true. My thoughts create stories which – if believed in, makes misery inevitable.)

    (c) My thoughts don’t hate my life. (Yes, that is as true. They are just doing their job – inquiring into life in different ways. It is the belief in them that creates the suffering.)

    (d) Others hate their life. (Yes, that is true too. It seems pretty universal, coming from beliefs in particular stories about our own life.)

    (e) Others don’t hate their life. (Yes, that is true. They enjoy their life as well. And they only hate their life when they believe in particular stories about it.)

    (f) I hate others’ life. (Yes, I can find that as well. There is resentment when they don’t live up to my shoulds about them, or when they remind me of how I don’t live up to my own shoulds.)

    (g) I don’t hate others’ life. (Yes, as or more true. I appreciate the life of others – in many different ways. I deeply enjoy it when I see joy in others life. I appreciate the wild diversity. I am grateful for how others’ life reminds me of my own and my own potentials.)

    (h) My thoughts hate others’ life. (Yes, a belief in certain thoughts is what creates the experience of hate or resentment.)

    (i) My thoughts don’t hate others’ life. (Yes, true as well. There is only the belief in certain thoughts which brings up hatred or resentment.)

    (j) Others hate my life. (Yes, I am sure that is true. Especially if they believe thoughts about me which do not fit their shoulds about me, or reminds me of their own shoulds about themselves.)

    (k) Other’s don’t hate my life. (Yes, that is true as well. They have more than enough with their own life. And they also appreciate my life in various ways.)

Turnarounds

 

In working with the Byron Katie inquiries, I find that the more turnarounds the better – including turning it from me (if the initial thought is about me) to others. So whether I work on a thought about myself or someone else, I usually find five or six turnarounds, each one shedding light in different ways.

Here is a classic…

I am a failure.

  1. Yes (It seems true, in certain areas of life.)
  2. No (Cannot know for certain that it is true. It is just an opinion. Also, I cannot know that what has happened is not better in a certain way than what I hoped for and expected.)
  3. Believing in that thought, there is… Shame, for not being more successfull – according to my own or society’s standards. Guilt, for not having made better and fuller use of my opportunities. Want to hide my failures from myself and others. Dishonesty in talking about areas where I feel I am a failure – trying to avoid the topic or present it in a better light. Embarrased, especially when with people I see as not a failure in the same way as myself.

    Trying to present myself – to myself and others, as better or worse than I am. Making up stories which either emphasize my failures (to dig into it) or my successes (to compensate), and if they emphasize my failures do so with the aim of either connecting with others, go into self-pity, show how insightful I am, show my degree of self-acceptance and so on.

    If I believe in the thought I am a failure there will always be an attempt at either show myself as better or worse than someone – others, what I could be, what I can be, and so on.

    All of this creates a sense of separation – from myself, others, existence. It brings a sense of alienation, of not being comfortable, not belonging, of being alone.

  4. Without that thought, I would be OK with what is. OK with myself as I am. There would be a deeper sense of intimacy with myself, others, Existence. There would be no need to hide, no need for shame and guilt.
  5. (a) I am not a failure. (Yes, that is as or more true. First, the idea of failure is always relative – and it also implies that we can fail, that we are really in charge of our own life, that we are capable of not doing our best. Second, there are many areas where I have done well or OK also. Third, compared with many, my life is pretty good – others have many reasons for seeing my life as a success compared with their own.)

    (b) My thoughts are a failure. (Yes, that is as true, in at least two ways. When I believe in them they are always a failure – or more precisely bring a certain failure. Unexamined beliefs bring suffering, however subtly. And my thoughts themselves are a failure, because they are always incomplete and inaccurate representations of what is. They are a map, not the terrain.)

    (c) My thoughts are not a failure. (Yes, that is as true. They do their job wonderfully. They present me with an abstractions of the world, which is invaluable in helping me navigating and operating in the world. Without them, I would be lost – not even able to function in the most basic way. Also, when there is a belief in them, they do their job perfectly. They bring about a good deal of suffering which is a nudge for me to inquire into them, to examine them and thus allowing them to be liberated from beliefs.)

    (d) Others are a failure. (Yes, that is as true. Each one of us is a failure in one or more ways, especially as failure is defined by whatever measuring stick we use, and we can always use one that makes us or anyone or any acomplishment into a failure. Even compared to me and using conventional measures, many others are failures in certain areas of life – such as not living a meaningful life, not uncovering what is meaningful for them, not having spare time, and so on.)

    (e) Others are not a failure. (Yes, that is as true as well. Again, the word failure is relative to an arbitrary measure, and it also implies that we can fail. That we somehow are capable of not doing our best in any given situation. And that we are not perfect and complete as we are, as aspects of a whole beyond and including all polarities.)

Special

 

This is another universal pattern…

As long as there is a belief in the idea of “I”, placed on something finite or a segment of what is, then there is the double sense of being inferior and superior. We are superior to some, and to who we were at certain times in the past, and to what we can be. And we are inferior in the same way. In short, we have a sense of being special.

Special: Saniel Bonder helps me

For me, this comes up in in my reactions against anyone who try to present their insights or their approach as special. Saniel Bonder is someone who does this very well for me. He functions as a really good projection object for me in this area.

As a side note: it seems that his need is to be and be perceived as special, and my need is the exact opposite – to see myself and be seen as not special. But these are just two sides of the same coin. It is the same dynamic, just played out in its two polarities. And who knows what is going on for him, this is just my story – reflecting what I need to see. It is his business anyway.

Inquiry

He should not try to be someone special (and present his insights as special).

  1. Yes (that is what comes up for me)
  2. No (just an opinion, just my personal preferences right now)
  3. Something is triggered in me, quite strongly, when I see him as trying to present his insights as special. I experience disgust. Repulsion. Aversion. And there is a good deal of judgment. I see him as not very clear, and certainly not very mature. He comes across as a little kid trying to get attention, trying to get recognition – from himself and others. It seems immature, not seasoned. Something is not fully integrated in his views and life.

    At the same time, there is a sadness coming up as I see how I am separating myself from him and his insights in this way. I am actually separating myself from him, his insights, myself, the Wakin Down people in general, and anything valuable that I might learn from Waking Down and the Waking Down people. I tend to avoid everything relating to Saniel and Waking Down because of this.

  4. I would see what I see, and be OK with it. I would be more clear. More level-headed about him and Waking Down. More receptive to him, his insights, and the gifts in Waking Down and in the Waking Down people. More connected, with myself, him, Waking Down, and the Waking Down folks.
  5. (a) He should try to be someone special. (Yes. Because he is, as we all are. We are universally special, each one unique. And it is beautiful when we acknowledge that. When we can see that in ourselves and others. And he is particularly emphasizing that side of it. He can help me acknowledge that side, as I tend to emphasize the universality of it. He does his job beautifully. Even if it comes partly out of his own hangups, then that too is his job, and something he does very well.)

    (b) I shouldn’t try to be someone special. (Yes, I can deepen into the universality of what is in me, and also realize selflessness more thoroughly.)

    (c) I should try to be someone special. (Yes, this is the area I have tried to not see. I can see and appreciate all our our uniqeness, including my own. My own unique gifts and qualities. For my own benefit, and that of others as well.)

    (d) My thoughts shouldn’t try to be someone special. (Yes, that is true as well. They are universal, and are liberated in that realization. They are liberated from being taken personally.)

Special in unwanted ways

Whenever we believe in the thought “I” we feel special. We see ourselves as better and worse than others and ourselves – as we were and as we can be.

And for me, I have felt special in many unwanted ways in the past. During my awakening, beginning in the teens, there was certainly a sense of being special – with nobody to connect with around these thing, nobody who understood, nobody who shared the experiences and insights.

There was obviously no separation, only everything as consciousness and God. There was no separation, no separate I anywhere. At the same time, there was a deep loneliness at the human level from not finding anyone who seemed to live from the same experiences.

I could clearly see this sense of being special coming up, and the delusion in it, yet could not drop it as much as I wanted to do so. I could not figure out how to work through it completely.

Dark nigh as invitation to find myself as not special

The dark night phase was and is, in a certain way, an invitation to find myself as not special. To find myself as just ordinarily human and nothing more. Everything that could be a hook for any sense of being special went away, and left was just the ordinariness of being human – in a very pedestrian way.

I see that the awakening was not special – a similar awakening has been expressed by many, even at the same age as I was at its onset (sixteen). Similar insights abound in the spiritual literature. Similar integrations with modern views abound today, especially in the whole integral and transpersonal world. And many are far more clear than I. Far more integrated in their lives. Far more mature into it. Far more fluid in their daily lives. Far more ordinary. Far more special even. It is a great relief to see this.

And the dark night phase is an invitation to see how this human life is special, and to see this in a more relaxed and level-headed way. How it is unique as all human lives are unique.

The dark night phase is really an invitation to inquiry. To see all of this more clearly. The universality of it. That others have expressed everything in my life in a more developed and mature way. And that my life is unique as all human lives are unique.

None of these insights are new. They were all present from the beginning. But they are now lived in a different way from before. That is the main difference. They have gone through lived life in a different way.

Filters

This whole dynamic is in itself an example of how the universal is filtered in unique ways in each of our lives.

For me, the sense of being special was mostly unwanted so I push that away and seek the universal. For Saniel, the opposite may be the case. He may have felt that his unique insights were not appreciated by others, so he seeks recognition for his specialness. Of course, if he experiences a need for recognition by others, he is really seeking it from himself.

And this too, is all just a story. Just what I want to tell myself right now. I don’t know what is true for him.

Guided Inquiry vs. Talks

 

After exploring various forms of inquiry, in particular Big Mind, Byron Katie inquiry and headlessness, I see a tendency to sometimes wonder why not more spiritual teachers are recommending it for, and doing it with, their students.

I went to an intensive in the bay area a couple of weeks ago, and spent most of the day – from 9am to 9pm, listening to the head teacher talking. It is OK as I allowed me to find what he talked about in my own experience, or clarify it further for myself – beyond his words. And that is a form of inquiry in itself. But it is also just one person talking and fifty or sixty others listening, for hours on end.

The contrast is dramatic to what they are doing at Kanzeon Zen Center these days, where the teachers use the Big Mind process actively during the dharma talk periods. The dharma talks are not one person talking and everyone else listening, but one person facilitating (the teacher) and everybody else weaving together the talk, from their own immediate realizations in the present. It is juicy. Rich. Engaging. Alive in the most profound way.

A position

This is coming from what I find juiciness in right now, which is various forms of inquiry. And I also see that I have made it into a position, a fixed view. I have generalize what is an advice for myself (inquiry) to a should for everyone else. I am making it right and everything and everybody else wrong. I am putting up blinders for myself. I filter everything through a story. I am not receptive to what is anymore.

So…

He should use inquiry (instead of just talking about it).

  1. Yes (seems true. It would at least be much more juicy for me.)
  2. No (only an opinion, cannot know that it is absolutely true.)
  3. Annoyed with him talking and talking, while it could be so much more juicy. Judgment of the teaching strategy, that it is not as effective as it could be. Arrogance, in thinking that I know another way that is more effective, that goes deeper, that gets people more engaged, that is more alive, that helps people explore it for themselves instead of listening to someone talking. Thinking that I am partly wasting my time. Wanting to be somewhere else. >> Sense of separation, to the one talking, to what he says and speaks from, to everybody else in the room, to myself and my own experience. I cut myself off from all of this, from life as it unfolds in the present, when I believe that thought.
  4. OK with what is. Clarity. Enjoy what is, in whatever form it unfolds. Free to explore what he is saying in my own immediate experience. Free to enjoy it.
  5. (a) He should not use inquiry. (Yes, that is as true or truer. He may not know how to facilitate the group in inquiry that way. It may not be his strength. It may not be his desire. It may not be what he sees as most effective. It may not be what many in this particular group really need and are looking for. And in any case, it is not what is – and reality always trumps any opinions or wishes.)

    (b) I should use inquiry. (Yes, this is definitely more true. I can inquiry into my own experience as he talks, making it into my own inquiry. And I can explore inquiry on my own, or with other groups, when I am not at this intensive as well. The advice is clearly for me, both there and then and also in this period of my life.)

Voice of Stuckness

 

Can I speak with the voice of stuckness please?

Yes.

Who are you?

I am the voice of stuckness.

What do you do?

I help the self get stuck, either completely or in areas. Or at least, I give the appearance of stuckness to the self. There is never real stuckness, only the appearance of it, and even that is only temporary. But to the self, it certainly seems like real stuckness and quite serious at times.

How does the self relate to you?

He doesn’t like me very much. Actually, he does not like me at all. He would like to get rid of me if he could.

Will you ever go away?

No, I will always be around – for as long as the self is. I am an integral part of being a human.

How do you show up in his life now?

I show up in a few different areas – mostly in terms of how he wants to function in the world in a professional way. He needs time to allow things to sink in, and I allow that time for him. He tends to push forward, and I am what holds him back – so it all can simmer for him for long enough for a new clarity to come about.

So you are helping the self?

Yes, that is my function. I help him by slowing him down. By drawing attention to areas where attention is needed – along with insights and clarifications. Areas where there are unexamined beliefs holding him back. Areas where he needs to explore his own truth and find more clarity through that.

Does he realize that?

No, not really. He may have a vague intellectual understanding of it, that it must be that way, but he does not experience it at any depth. He is alienated from me, and also from how I contribute, from the gifts I offer him.

Do you have any advice for him?

Yes. He needs to relax into whatever he experience as stuckness, in whatever areas I appear. That will offer him tremendous gifts, if he is open and receptive to it. And I don’t need to be around for that long either. It would make my job much easier.

So you carry information for the self?

Yes, I do. I am similar to fear in that way. I offer information, and brings his attention to it. Although he often does not see it that way. He is not looking for it. He only sees me as a problem. As something to get rid of. Instead of approaching me with curiosity, and receptivity for my gifts.

How does he try to get rid of you?

He tries all sorts of things. Willpower. Acupuncture. Inquiry. This process to some extent. Ignoring me. Trying to run me over with other voices. Trying to outwit me. And many other ways.

Does it work?

No, it does not work. It may appear to work for a short time, but it doesn’t really. If I need to be around, I am around, no matter what he does.

You said that you carry information, yet also mention inquiry as one of the ways he is trying to get rid of you. Can you say more about that?

Yes, there is a huge difference between doing inquiry – or similar explorations, with the aim of finding what is really true and with the aim of getting rid of me, or any other voice.

Doing it to find what is really true for him opens everything up, and it involves a willingness to go with whatever is revealed as true no matter how it looks, no matter how far it may be from his expectations. It is a partnership attitude, of working with what is. And it involves a great deal of trust, in particular in the wisdom and compassion within everything that is, no matter how much the self may dislike it, or cling to it, or try to make it go away.

Doing it to get rid of me is not really inquiry. It is a mock inquiry. It is the preferences of the self imposing themselves on what is. Nothing real can come out of this, because the real is not what is sought. Only relief is sought, and that does not work. Although it may appear sincere on the surface, it really comes from an adversarial attitude to what is. It comes from distrust, from fear of what is.

Until he learns this, he will continue to be stuck – in many areas. And when he finally learns to inquiry through the love of inquiry and love of truth itself, then there is a release for him. Then, I can function in a more precise way. I can come up, he inquiries into me, and I don’t need to hang around anymore. It would make my job far easier, and make life far more fluid and pleasant for him as well.

Inquiry :: I need to be liberated

 

I need to be liberated

  1. Yes (seems so)
  2. No (don’t know for certain, seems to be OK as it is)
  3. Seeking liberation. Beating myself up for not being liberated. Seeing myself as a failure. Get fixated on liberation, to the detriment of other areas of my life (studies, education, work, friends, family, engagement in general). Get frustrated, since seems just around the corner but not right here – apart from in glimpses and shorter periods.
  4. OK with what is, whatever it is – liberation or not. Fine as it is. Can be engaged, focused on other things when they appear. Live a more juicy life.
  5. (a) I don’t need to be liberated. (Yes, that is as or more true. I am not, so obviously don’t need to right now. That is fine. As it is.)

    (b) My thoughts need to be liberated. (Yes, that is as or more true as well. My thoughts need to be liberated, not “I” – whatever I think that is. My thoughts need to be liberated from beliefs, from being believed in. And inquiry can allow those beliefs to unravel.)

Inquiry will give me liberation.

  1. Yes (that is my belief)
  2. No (cannot know for certain, just a belief – an opinion)
  3. Desperate to do inquiry, on anything that arises. Do inquiry always for a purpose, to arrive at liberation. Always check to see how close I may be to liberation, and if the current inquiry may open up for it – and to what degree. Frustrated, since it doesn’t seem to happen the way I want it to. Wondering what I am doing wrong. Trying to stop having a goal, such as liberation, besides just exploring and finding what is true for me in the present.
  4. Would do inquiry for inquiry’s sake. For the sake of exploration. For the sake of discovering what is true for me right now. Doing it for the unfolding of the process, wherever it may take me. Open for going into unchartered territory, for not knowing at a deep level.
  5. (a) Inquiry will not give me liberation. (Yes, that seems as true or truer. Nothing can really “give” it to me, apart from the whole, apart from God. And that is God’s business, not mine. I do my job, which is inqury. God does God’s job, which is whatever comes out of it – if anything.)

    (b) Inquiry will give my thoughts liberation. (Yes, that also seems as true or truer. It is really only my thoughts that can be liberated, from beliefs – from a belief in them. Nothing else. No abstract idea of “I” placed on something.)

I love my thoughts.

  1. Yes (definitely seems true. I love exploring them, exploring the world through them, creating beautiful maps and frameworks with them.)
  2. No (I cannot know if it is absolutely true)
  3. Attached to my thoughts, and also want them to be a particular way. I love my thoughts sometimes and not other times. I love them when they are clear and apparently aligned with existence, or at least my immediate experience. I don’t love them when they are muddled, unclear, confused, incoherent, pedestrian or when they don’t align so well with my experience. So I want and try to invite and hold onto thoughts that I love, that appear beautiful or at least interesting. And I try to push away and get rid of thoughts that are not beautiful or not very interesting. It is a constant struggle, a constant battle, and I get exhausted from it. It wears me out. And it overwhelms me at times. I get caught up in my thoughts, and don’t experience life directly – it all gets filtered through whatever thoughts I am caught up in at the time.
  4. I would be more free from thoughts, from engaging in them, habitually exploring them, habitually getting caught up in them, habitually analyzing them and using them to analyze whatever happens.
  5. (a) I don’t love my thoughts. (Yes, that is as true. It is a struggle to get caught up in them. It wears me out at times. They are often confused, not very helpful, and trying to clarify them usually doesn’t help.)

    (b) My thoughts love my thoughts. (Yes, that is definitely true. They are fascinated with themselves, exploring themselves.)

Inquiry :: Distractions can give me relief

 

Beliefs are held in different ways. Some are conscious and seem very real. Others are not aligned with our conscious view, but we still – at least sometimes – act as if we believe they are true. These may especially come up when we get caught up in the drama of life. Here is one of those…

Distractions can give me relief.

  1. No (I can see myself act according to that belief, but it is not my conscious belief).
  2. No.
  3. Whenever I get caught up in the drama of life, I try to find relief through temporary distractions. I may make and eat some good food. I call a friend. I teach our cat tricks. I watch an entertaining movie. I go for a walk. I read a book. I listen to upbeat and/or inspiring music. I surf the net. I do self-Breemas or some yoga. In short, I do many of the things I do anyway, but with the aim of distraction – of taking my mind and attention off from whatever triggers stress in me.

    How do I treat others? I avoid talking about whatever triggers the stress in me. I distract them from bringing it up.

    What do I get from holding onto that belief? I get temporary and surface level relief from stress.

    What is the worst that can happen if I didn’t have that thought? I would be with whatever is – stress, pain, or whatever other experiences are there, and I would be with the situation triggering it.

  4. I would be with whatever is, or not. But there would be no push for one or the other. In most cases, I would be with whatever is – as it is, due to the richness in it.
  5. (a) Distractions cannot give me relief. (Yes, that seems as – or more – true. They only give temporary relief, and then only at a surface level. The stressful beliefs are still there, doing their thing and waiting to surface again.)

Inquiry :: Being Paid

 

I have noticed a tendency to enjoy an activity far more when I don’t get paid than when I do. Here is one exploration into it.

Once I get paid, I have to make them happy.

  1. Yes (If I don’t inquire into it, then that is the sense that is there).
  2. No (I don’t know that is true. I don’t know if they expect to be happy, or what would make them happy, or even how to tell if they are happy or not. Their happiness is their business. What I am paid for is different, it is a particular task independent of anyone’s happiness.)
  3. Discomfort, since I am doing it for someone’s elses happiness, and don’t know what would make them happy. The task in front of me may or may not make them happy, but I don’t know. Dread, for the same reason – I am doing it for someone elses happiness. My communication with that person deteriorates, is not as open or frequent as could be. I put off doing the task if I can.
  4. I would be free to enjoy doing it, for my own sake. I would find passion for it again.
  5. (a) Once I get paid, I don’t have to make them happy. (Yes, that is true. I am paid to do a particular – usually well defined – task. Not to make anyone else happy.)

    (b) >> Once I get paid, I have to make myself happy. (Yes, this is far more true than the initial statement. I have to make myself happy, that is my main task. Even before doing anything else, I can sit down and find a way to make myself happy with the task.)

In Breema, they have two guidelines which I find very liberating:

  1. Do it for yourself. When I give a Breema sequence, I do it for myself. There is only one person’s experience I can take responsibility for, and that is my own.

    This ensures that at least one of us gets something out of it (!). It also gives space for the recipient to have his or her own experience, and for whatever happens to unfold on its own.

  2. Open communication. If the recipient find anything uncomfortable, they speak up and let the giver know. This allows the giver to trust that if they need to know anything, the recipient will speak up. Again, I take responsibility for my own experience and my own comfort, and don’t have to try to guess their experience – which I can’t anyway.

When I went through this inquiry last night, in our small Byron Katie group, I brought up these two Breema guidelines, and someone asked me how would it look if you applied those to your paid work? (Another take on question number 4)

I would do it for my own enjoyment, find my passion for it again. I would take time right away, before doing anything else, to see how I can do it in a way that is enjoyable for myself. In a way that is rewarding and meaningful, and still gets the task done. And I would make sure there is open and frequent communication so there is a good feedback loop established, allowing me to adjust how I do the task as we go along.

Inquiry :: I Know

 

Some BK style inquiries.

I know.

  1. Yes (seems so, on the surface).
  2. No (cannot know for sure, an opinion only, an appearance only)
  3. There is something to hold onto, something to protect, something that can be lost, diluted or contaminated. This brings up a range of reactions in me… Such as fear and obsessiveness. Of being lost, or at risk of being lost. Of fragility. I have something that can easily go away, any time. It also brings up arrogance, a sense that I know while others may or may not know. It closes me off from my immediate experiences and the information and gifts there. I isolate myself from the gifts of others and my own immediate experience. >> I am truly lost, even as I believe in the thought I know.
  4. Clarity. Space. Receptivity. Here, now. Presence. Receptivity to what is, in the present, wherever it arises – in others or in my own immediate experience. Sense of no separation.
  5. (a) I don’t know. (Yes, that is more true than the initial statement. I really don’t know. All that appears as knowledge is just ideas, abstractions – and that is all they are. They are never the terrain, what arises in the present. The world is always more than and different from my ideas, thoughts, models, maps. And even on a conventional level, my knowledge is only of temporary and limited value. It is only of practical value, at best. And it is woefully incomplete, in any area, even at that conventional level.)

    (b) My thoughts know. (Yes, they are the only ones who knows. Or rather create the appearance of knowing. There is no “I” there. They just happen. Just arise in space & awareness as every other phenomena. The thoughts know, in their own temporary, limited and practical way. I – however I define I, as awareness, dancing emptiness – don’t know.)

    (c) My thoughts don’t know. (Yes, that is true as well. They are just maps of the terrain, at best just reflecting immediate experiences. They can be practical tools, but have only temporary and limited value and usefulness. The terrain is always more than and different from these maps. Realizing this, over and over, opens up for a certain humility for their limited usefulness and for fluidity in relationship to them. There is no need to hold on to any particular thought, idea, model, idea. None of them represent any absolute truth. They are all particular filters, particular maps highlighting some aspects of the terrain and de-emphasizing and leaving out other aspects. They come and go as all other phenomena, and have only limited and practical usefulness.)

Going to ideas instead of immediate experience

I see the tendency to jump to answers when I do inquiries of any kind – Byron Katie inquiries, Big Mind process, Headlessness experiments, Atma Vichara.

If I try to resist or get rid of this tendency, I am stuck in/with it. But if there is just the seeing of it, there is release. There is a sense of space, overview and choice. The “I” is shifted to the seeing and there is a de-identification with this particular tendency.

Stripping Off

 

When you close your eyes and try to find yourself, here in this moment, who or what do you discover yourself to be?

And a follow-up question to help clarify…

Who or what are you if you strip off the body, sensations, emotions, thoughts? What are you aware of as being left?

Answer for me now…

Space which seems infinite… formless… distinct from the world of phenomena… any and every experience can unfold within it. Space and awareness. Luminosity… empty light… And from this – joy, bliss, seamless fluid whole of all phenomena.

When you close your eyes

 

… and try to find yourself, here in this moment, who or what do you discover yourself to be?

This is a simple way to inquire into the nature of mind, described in Translucent Revolution by Arjuna Ardagh.

In this case…

Empty space, in which all experiences appear. It is empty awareness, the function of experiencing. No form, no color, no shape, no extent, no time, no space. Not conditioned by anything. Is nothing, and potentially everything. Can meet any experience as it is. When aware of itself in this way, can manifest as joy, bliss, love, vibrancy, richness, fullness – not dependent on any particular triggers.

It is so simple we have difficulties seeing it. It is so close, so simple, so everpresent. Whenever we look for it, we go too far. It is so close, we don’t notice it. And when we notice, we don’t quite believe it. Can it really be so simple? So close? So effortless? So natural?

And when we recognize it, rest in it, allow ourselves to sink into it, to become familiar with it, it brings up infinite joy, gratitude, humility…

When it rests in itself, it allows itself to gradually clarify and open… it reveals itself as Big Mind.

Big Mind & Body

 

I did a little experiment with using the Big Mind process on some voices typically left out of the standard Big Mind sessions.

Voice of the Body

What is your function?
I take care of the physical structure and processes of the self, including the movements. Without me, there would be no physical self. (Big Mind would say that I am the vehicle which allows Big Mind to become physical.)

How does Per relate to you?
He is mostly oblivious to me, although there are three ways he typically relates to me.

1. Oblivious, off in his own world of fantasies, ideas, past and future. 2. Trying to connect with me too much, and overshooting his goal. The more he tries, the further away he is. He may focus on one aspect of me, but leaves the rest out. 3. Real connection, which happens when he stops trying and just shifts into being present with me.

How can Per connect with you more easily?
He can spend more time in nature. More time just being quiet and present, without trying. More time being aware of the breath, facial expression, body posture, tone of voice, and allowing it to be just as it is here/now. More time doing this…!

How could he benefit from connecting with you more often?
He would be more present – here/now – in his attention. He could pick up signals I am sending him, with information on how to take care of me better. He would be more comfortable with me, more at home in his physical self. More at home in this world, with all these animal bodies. He would be more content and happy.

Do you have any advice for him?
Take some time every day to just be. To sink into the senses – the smells, sounds, touch, taste – of whatever situation you are in here/now. It doesn’t matter what it is, just sink into it – be with it, be it. Allow yourself to completely be a physical animal with awakened senses, even if it is for just a few breaths every day. This will have a deeply transformative effect on how he experiences the world.

Sinking Into Inquiry

 

Jen and I went hiking on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge this weekend, and brought the new book by Byron Katie. It was interesting to inquire into issues that came up for us as it happened, and talk about it afterwards.

Some ways to allow the inquiry process to sink deeper in (most or all of them mentioned in her books)…

  1. Use the worksheet, and inquire into most or all statements
  2. Use the subquestions, whenever they seem appropriate
  3. Take time with each question. Go beyond the initial (automatic) answers, allow the answers to surface, and allow them to sink in.
  4. Be aware of my motivation for inquiry. Find the motivation of exploring what is really true for me, not what I want/expect to be true. Open up for being surprised.
  5. Write down the answers, and/or sit with another person.
  6. Use full sentences. This can also allow new statements to surface which can deepen the inquiry.

Inquiry

I should limit my clarity and compassion depending on the behavior of others, and other external situations.

1. No. 2. No.

3. Apprehensive. Always on guard, looking for whatever I can use as a trigger to shut down clarity and compassion. Strong sense of separation with everyone/thing. And deepening separation and suffering when I shut down.

4. Here/now. Realize that clarity and compassion is the nature of mind – always here. Aware that I can discern (recognize delusion, when someone believe in thoughts etc) and still rest in effortless clarity and compassion.

5a. I should not limit my clarity and compassion depending on the behavior of others, and other external situations. (Yes, I can stay in clarity and compassion independent of the behavior of others. I take care of my business, they of theirs.)
5b. My thoughts should not limit my clarity and compassion depending on the behavior of others, and other external situations. (Yes, inquiry allows thoughts to not cover up the inherent clarity and compassion.)
5c. I should not limit my clarity and compassion depending on my own behavior and internal situations. (Yes, same as above.)
>> 5d. I should limit my thoughts depending on the behavior of myself/others, and internal/external situations. (Yes, I should limit my thought that they don’t deserve my clarity and compassion…!)

They don’t deserve my clarity and compassion.

1. No. 2. No.

3. I shut down. I cut myself off from my inner clarity and compassion, and my receptivity, wisdom, care, sense of overview. I withdraw. Become hypercritical of others and myself. Go into blame – for them triggering my shutdown, and also blame, guilt and shame for myself for shutting down. There is a massive contraction on all levels. I use the shutdown also to “punish” the other person and myself.

4. Stay with the situation, in clarity and compassion. I stay in clarity and compassion independent of their behavior. This opens for deep empathy, sense of connection, humility, discernment, overview. I can see their delusion and my own more clearly, and see which thoughts they and I believe in. I can act from clarity and compassion, less caught up in patterns of contraction and clouded judgment.

5a. They do deserve my clarity and compassion. (Yes, because that is their nature as well. I am just reflecting what is already in them as well, although temporarily covered up by thoughts.)
>> 5b. My thoughts deserve my clarity and compassion. (Yes, when I believe in them there is a massive shutdown on all levels. When I see them as just thoughts, with no substance, they too receive my clarity and compassion.)
>> 5c. I deserve my clarity and compassion. (Yes, because that is already the nature of mind. It is already there, under the confusion – under the dust kicked up from believing in thoughts.)

Saint Factory

 

thI facilitated the inquiry process with a friend a while back, and for the fourth question – who would you be without the thought – she said “a saint!”. It was a spontaneous, and true, answer (and of course it helps to go into it in more detail while doing the process).

After our first inquiry group meeting here tonight – which went very well – an image of a “saint factory” came to me. Byron Katie’s inquiry process has allowed an international saint factory to emerge, with all the people around the world doing it on their own and in local groups such as this one. Of course, these are saints of flesh and blood, with all the human problems, sufferings and delusions, but also with a tool which helps delusions to unravel and reveal the natural, spontaneous, clear and compassionate mind.

It also made me wonder how this looks to people who are not familiar with this – or a similar – process. When someone is moving in the direction of having fewer and fewer buttons who can be pushed, how does that appear to those around them? There seems to be a few different possibilities…

  • They are born that way. (Assigned to permanent innate trait)
  • Their external situation is so good that they are always happy. (Assigned to external situation).
  • They must repress everything that is difficult in their lives. (Assigned to denial and repression).
  • Ah – they are also unraveling attachments to thoughts and delusion. (From recognition).

Inquiries

People shouldn’t die.

1. No. 2. No.

3. Sad, angry, frustrated, fear, shallow breath. Sense of urgency, of not making the most out of my time. Failure in connecting with enough people deeply enough. Lack of connection with self/others. Fear of loosing others, and the pain of loosing others. Fear of what will happen to myself – of not having “enough” time, and what happens when I die.

4. Be with what is. Enjoying the coming and going, the flux and fluidity – the richness of it all. Being with myself and others, here/now as we are. Deep appreciation of the time I have in this life, and the time I have with others – whether it is short or long as measured by the clock or calendar. Appreciation of impermanence – and the profound richness that comes out of it.

5a. People should die. (yes, people die so that is what they should do).
5b. I should die. (yes, me too – to allow space for others, to participate in the fluidity and richness of Existence).
5c. People should live. (yes, as they do).
5d. I should live. (yes, and I live even more deeply when there is appreciation of impermanence).

She should clean up after herself.

1. Yes (it seems true to me). 2. No (it is only a belief).

3. Frustrated when she does not clean up after herself. Impatient. Judgmental. Circular thoughts of judgment, frustration, righteousness. Blame. Guilt and shame, for engaging in these patterns. Sense of separation from her and myself. Snappy and commanding verbally. Withdrawn emotionally.

4. Enjoying what is – the diversity of humanity as expressed through each one of us. Calm. Clear. Centered. Receptive. Compassionate. Sense of connection. Able to clean up in some situations, and ask her if she would clean up in other situations – depending on what comes up in the situation.

5a. She should not clean up after herself. (Yes, that is what is.)
5b. I should clean up after her. (Yes, I often do so that is what is.)
5c. She should clean up after me. (Yes, she does that quite frequently as well.)
5d. I should clean up after me. (Yes, that is my business.)
>> 5e. I should clean up after my own thoughts. (Yes, this is what rings the most true. I need to clean up after my own thoughts, and all the mess that is created when I believe in them.)

I should make a choice.

1. Yes. (Feels true). 2. No (Only a belief).

3. Apprehension. Panic. Terror. Fear of making the wrong choice, or making a choice at the wrong time, or even in the wrong way. Fear of the outcome. Feeling of no ground under my feet. Vertigo. Dizziness. Fumbling in the dark. On thin ice. Sense that something terrible may happen if I make the wrong choice. Fear of not making a choice. Pressure. Heavy weight on me. Sense of almost unbearable burden.

4. Clarity. Curiosity of what will come up, as a lead to my actions. Freedom. Lightness. Engaged in the world. Exitement. Fire. Passion.

5a. I should not make a choice. (Yes, not until I do. Also, I can invite it in, allow it to come to me rather than force it through and “making” it).
5b. I should make a non-choice. (Yes, allow it to arise in its own time, organically, naturally, within clarity and receptivity – which it will when I am released from the belief and all the confusion that comes with it.)

He shouldn’t be narrow-minded, bigoted, loud, and make choices from a clouded mind.

1. Yes. 2. No.

3. Jittery of resentment, anger, frustration. Circular thoughts of judgment. Righteous. Difficult to conceal my own reactions. Blurt out words reflecting anger and judgment. Engage in imaginary verbal battle, verbal dialogues. Want to get away. Caught up in inner turmoil rather than receptive to the situation.

4. See clearly. Present. Sense of connection and discernment. Able to choose whether to engage in conversation or not, and how. Sound(er) judgment. Compassion. Appreciate the richness of the human views and experiences.

5a. He should be narrow-minded, bigoted, loud, and make choices from a clouded mind. (Yes, that is what is.)
>> 5b. My thinking shouldn’t be narrow-minded, bigoted, loud, and make choices from a clouded mind. (Yes, this is what my thinking is when I believe in that thought. It is narrow-minded, bigoted, loud and choices are made from a clouded mind. When I inwuire into it, I allow myself to be released from those patterns.)