The Problems of Separation

 

As long as I believe in the idea of I – creating an appearance of I and Other – there is suffering. And this suffering take many forms, all the ones I recognize in my own life, see in the lives of others, and I am sure many more.

A particular subset of how this is played out is feeling that others impinge on me, for instance through their ideas, behaviors, energy, or just by their plain existence – displaying some qualities that bug me.

I talked with my acupuncturist last week, and she mentioned a healer in town who specialize in separating out other’s energies from one’s own. As any other approach to healing, I am sure it is useful and has its place. At the same time, it clearly comes from duality and also from a place of believing in stories (those two are obviously the same).

If I don’t believe in stories, then there is no problem there. There is only clarity.

Anything that could be labeled “bad energy” or “disturbed” or “confused” or “unhealthy” all comes from stories, in two different ways. First, it is obviously labeled based on a story. And more importantly, when these things come up they seem to do so due to somebody’s belief in a story.

I may believe in several mutually contradictory stories, and experience confusion. I may tell myself a story about somebody – including myself – which brings up contraction and hatred. I may believe I am not worthy and act in a way that is not good for my health. And so on.

When we see through these stories for ourselves – when we find what is more true for us in our own experience, the stories are harmless. They may come and go, in ourselves and/or others around us, and they have lost their charge. They come and go with the same innocence as as clouds.

The “bad energies” and “unhealthy tendencies” apparently from others are (a) recognized in ourselves and (b) the thoughts behind them are seen through and revealed as harmless.

When I can see through my own stories, and how patterns unravel when these stories are seen through, I can also see through the stories when they appear in others. They are harmless, either way.

I see the complete innocence in myself and others.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and I

 

… we all do the same. We…

  • See our interests threatened.
  • Fabricate evidence to justify war.
  • Act unilaterally.
  • Go to war preemptively.
  • Fight to the bitter end, even while we are loosing.

They did it a couple of times, in Afghanistan and Iraq. I do it daily, within myself.

I perceive the world from a sense of I and Other. See my interests threatened in various situations, through the actions of various people. Fabricate evidence to support my position. Go to war often before anyone else strike. And fight to the bitter end, no matter what the costs are and how it is going.

I see this over and over, through inquiry.

And I see how I am no different from Bush & company. I do exactly what they do, it only appears different to the outside world. I even get the same media coverage, only that this media coverage is in my own mind – playing the current news reels over and over.

In seeing this, I am actually more able to do something about it – when it appears in me and in the outer world. Doing something, without the charge that comes from seeing it only in them, and seeing them as different from me.

Exaggerated Yang

 

I recently read a few pages in Andrew Cohen’s Living Enlightenment – Ken Wilber’s foreword and the first (brief) chapter.

Exaggerated yang

There is something in there, in what both of them write, which not only does not quite match my own experiences but also triggers something in me. And I can easily create a story around it, making their approach appear as an exaggerated yang approach to spirituality, and involving a certain arrogance as well.

They say… Awakening is not for sissies. Nice teachers only reinforces the idea of I in their students. The process of awakening is brutal and requires a brutal approach.

And I say… This more brutal approach is a substitute for skillful means. When we don’t have the skillful means, we try to use brute force instead. And pushing triggers a pushing back, increased resistance, rather than a melting away of beliefs – including that in the idea of I.

Accuracy, not brutality

I can see something that appears true for me in their words.

There is a certain brutal – or rather, finetuned and accurate – honesty and sincerity involved in the process. And I also see that the approach used to aid people to awakening does not need to add to the pain already inherent in the process.

Instead of a sledgehammer, we can use microsurgery.

Precision and unraveling

There are several approaches which use the precision of the microsurgery approach, and does so in an often lighthearted way.

In my own experience, the Big Mind Process, Byron Katie inquiries, and the deekshas, are only three examples of these approaches – each one not adding to the inherent pain in the process, and yet leading people straight into the realization of selflessness.

For instance, the Byron Katie inquiry process starts with a stressful thought and often ends in laughter. And seeing this over and over, we actually end up looking forward to the next stressful belief coming up, because we know how to inquire into and find peace with it through seeing more clearly what is real to us. Eventually, we see that the sense of I merely comes from a belief in the idea of I, and this too fades and falls away.

Turnarounds

So my beliefs are They should not use such an exaggerated yang approach and they should not be so brutal – because it is not neccesary in aiding people to awakening, it adds to the pain already inherent in the process, it is merely a substitute for more skillful means, and so on.

And I can see the turnarounds here…

I should not use such an exaggerated yang approach, as I do when I attack their approach mentally. I go into it in battle, in full armor, ready to fight to the bitter end.

I should not be so brutal, as I am when I mentally cut down their approach as I do.

I am seeing in them what is happening in myself, at the moment I have those beliefs about their approach.

And I also notice how doing such an abbreviated BK inquiry leaves something out. I know how much is in there when I more fully dig into it, through the four questions and some of the many subquestions, and I don’t want to cheat myself by leaving it out. There is a deliciousness in exploring it more fully.

Only for you – and me

 

As we explore projections and also Big Mind, there seems to be a deepening sense of it all being only for me, and only for you, and only for each of us.

Projections

In working with projections, I see that the whole world is there for me to recognize what is in myself. Something is in me, I am not aware of it yet, I project it out on something in the wider world, I see it there and can familiarize myself with it there, and can then see it in myself as well.

The world is my mirror, and everything happens just for me – inviting me to see in myself what I see out there.

Big Mind

As Big Mind, we see that this is literally true. Everything out there not only reflects something in me (a quality or impulse at my human level), it also is me. It is all the play of spirit. It is all me, and it is all for me.

For each of us

Going back to our human level, we see that this is true for each of us. The whole world is there only for each of us.

The whole world is there only for me, for you, for him, for her, for each one of us.

It has a center everywhere, and nowhere.

Precision

 

When I listen to or read various teachings, there is often an impulse coming up around precision.

So there is an impulse of precision coming up. If I think it is for someone else, it takes the form of judgment. If I realize it is really for me, it is an invaluable pointer towards maturing a little further.

Thoughts as problems?

If someone talks as if thoughts themselves ever are a problem, there is a discrepancy with my experience of thoughts as never a problem – only beliefs in them are. This discrepancy can takes the form of wanting more precision.

And if I put it on him, it becomes “he should be more precise” and is associated with blame, judgment, sense of separation and so on. If I see that the impulse is for me, I take it as an invitation and opportunity to differentiate for myself.

I can see that for me, only beliefs appear as a problem, never thoughts themselves – they are innocent. And it also invites me to inquiry into and explore this further. What is really true for me in the present? How is it true for me in the present?

Attachments

The same is the case for talks about attachment. Sometimes, it is presented as if we can ever be attached to situations or things. That does not seem true in my experience.

I find that I can only be attached to stories and beliefs, and this may – and usually does – take the appearance of attachment to situations, people, things and so on. But it is only an appearance. I can only find attachments to stories and thoughts…

Again, it is an invitation to explore what is true for me, and what is true for me right now – which may, and usually is, different from what I expect.

Sharing findings

My experiences and findings are obviously for me, meant for me, and if they can help others inquire and explore for themselves that is great as well.

They may find something entirely different, which in turn can stimulate me to inquire a little further and more honestly.

Squeezed

 

In ourselves as individuals and groups, there are certain qualities and views which are welcome, some that are neutral, and some that are less welcome.

Individual shadows

Somewhat rambling…

When this occurs at our individual level, those qualities and views which are less welcome – those which does not fit with how we would like to see ourselves – are often referred to as the shadow.

They are there, but typically seen more easily in others, and then as unwelcome even there, as a disturbance, something we wish would go away. They appear to remind us on qualities in ourselves we don’t appreciate.

Although really – they remind us that we have an exclusive self-identity, one that is less inclusive than life itself. It is a reminder that we have an identity in the first place, and our core identity is the belief in the idea of I – placed on only a segment of what is.

As long as there is the belief in I, there will be an exclusive identity. Some parts of the terrain fit with this identity, and other parts do not fit – and are experienced as a disturbance.

So this experience of a disturbance, of discomfort, is a gentle and persistent reminder of not being aligned with what is. We believe in the idea of I, and thus a relatively fixed and limited identity, while there is no I inherent in any aspect of what is. What is, is simple selflessness.

The belief in the idea of I clashes with selflessness – inherent in all there is and existence itself, so there is bound to be a degree of suffering there. And this suffering and discomfort, this nagging sense of something being not quite right, can only be resolved through realizing selflessness.

Group shadows

The same dynamic shows up at group levels – in couples, families, smaller groups, communities, countries, and globally.

As a group, we may have a certain identity formed by the reason for and/or history of the group, and there is also an automatic identity formed by the shared identity of the most influential group participants.

So here also, there is an identity – explicit although most often implicit, and certain qualities and views fit this identity and other qualities and views do not fit this identity so well. Some are easily welcome, others are less welcome.

This is just a natural aspect of group dynamics, but it can be quite distressing for those group participants who feel that something is coming up in them which is marginalized by the group. No matter how apparently open and welcoming the group is, or intends to be, this seems to happen.

The only remedy may be to set aside time specifically to address what has been left out of the group, to explicitly welcome in the marginalized qualities and views and the people in which these come up.

Deeksha group

In the deeksha group Sunday, this happened. As it would in any group.

During our first deeksha, I mainly experienced nothing at all – apart from various forms of resistance coming up. Others I talked with later similarly reported experiencing nothing at all.

Yet, when we shared our experiences in the group, these views were clearly marginalized. Those speaking up all had various remarkable experiences to report, often one more “spiritual” than the other. An atmosphere was created where the voicing of unremarkable experiences did not seem to fit in, or invited in.

This partly has to do with the facilitation, creating the expectation in the group of certain types of experiences. And it partly has to do with the participants in the group, wanting this for the group and themselves.

Both created an atmosphere where experiences of plain resistance or of nothing remarkable at all were marginalized, not exactly not welcome, but not explicitly welcomed either.

To remedy this in such a group atmosphere, there needs to be an explicit welcoming in of those qualities and views, a time set aside for welcoming them in, and even explicitly honoring them as valid contributions to the group. This helps everyone to find it in themselves, and see how these were previously left out of the group sharings.

These are all natural group dynamics. Marginalization happens. And it typically takes a very conscious effort to allow whatever has been marginalized – views, experiences, qualities and those identifying with them – into the group, often through setting aside a time for explicitly welcoming them in and honoring them.

Inviting Deities

 

During the deeksha event yesterday, we spent some time exploring inviting deities in – and seeing which ones come in for us.

Deities

The deities can be from any tradition, or even nameless, and each embody a particular way the self-realized divine mind can manifest. Emphasizing compassion, wisdom, selflessness, engagement in the world, art, music, bodywork, speech and so on. There is a wide spectrum, and each one is always evolving as well.

First and second person relationships

It brought up – for me and others – the 1st and 2nd person relationship dynamics with God and the various deities. In a 1st person relationship, we realize (a) that this is I or (b) that there is no I anywhere, everything just is – beyond and including one and many (this one is more of a zero person relationship).

In a second person relationship, it becomes an I-Other dynamic which can be very helpful in contacting and getting to know a particular realization or set of qualities.

And a fluidity between the two seem especially helpful.

Inviting in and familiarizing myself with

So with these deities, it can be very helpful to invite in and contact particular ones – especially the ones we have an affinity for. In my case, Christ, St. Francis and others. It allows me to contact those qualities, first as Other, and familiarize myself with them. Bringing them into my life and activities. And then, with the boundary of I and Other dissolving.

Tibetan Buddhism

As so often, Tibetan Buddhism not only inlcudes this in their practices but have refined it to a high degree. In deity practices for instance, we invite a particular deity as Other and connect with, explore and familiarize ourself with it in that way. Then at the end, we visualize this deity dissolving into light and merging with our human form. There is no separation.

Helpful approach

Coming from a habitual identification with form and something finite (our human self), it can be very helpful to contact these realizations and qualities as Other initially. It is closer to where we are at, and is a way to ease us into it. It is an application of skillful means.

Then, we realize there was never any separation from the beginning.

Fluidity

And we are free to continue exploring these realizations and qualities and how they manifest in our human life, in the fluidity of moving between first and second person relationships with them.

Mutual influence

From a second person view, we can see how these deities and qualities evolve and mature with humanity. Our embodiment of them allow them to evolve further. And our embodiment of them allows us to evolve further.

And from a first – or rather zero – person view, we see there is not really any difference between those two.

Deities out there?

Another question that came up for people yesterday is if these deities are really out there? Or are they just aspects of our own minds, projections which help us to connect with them?

It is an interesting question, but for all practical purposes maybe not so relevant. The answer may be both, or neither, or both and neither, or that it doesn’t matter, or that whatever works for you is good, or that it is an topic for inquiry and exploration.

Projections

 

I picked up the (now) ancient Spectrum of Consciousness by Ken Wilber at the library, and read through the chapter on projections. It had several good reminders there, especially as his examples are a little different that what comes most readily to mind for me in regards to projections.

For instance…

I have interest in and curiosity about the world, forget about and stop noticing this curiosity, and experience it now as the world’s interest in me. So when I feel self-conscious, or experience other’s attention on me as comfortable, I can take that as a reminder to reconnect with my own interest and curiosity of the world.

A desire to do or engage in something comes up in me, I disconnect from this desire, and experience it as pressure from the outside world. Again, this experience of pressure is a reminder to find my own desire to engage and act.

I have anger about the world, disown it, and experience it as the world’s hostility towards myself, which in turn can lead to a range of responses including hopelessness, depression, fatigue and so on. When I connect with this energy in myself, I can find that it may not take the form of anger but of a directed and engaged energy – allowing me to engage in the world in a more active and engaged way.

I disown my own (limited although real) ability to control the world, and experience all control in the world – and myself as a leaf in the storm, helpless, weak, out of control. When I reconnect with my own ability to control, there is more of a balance – more of an active and dynamic engagement.

And so on… All useful reminders.

It may look as if we are turning the tables in the I-World relationship, but all that is needed is to reconnect with what is already there in us – the curiosity, interest, desire, engagement, anger, control and so on.

And this is of course all at the level of our human self, where there is indeed an inner and an outer. Here, a more active engagement with the process of integrating and living the projected quality seems needed. At the level of the Witness, we can just notice the same quality in the inner and outer world. And as Big Mind, the qualities are just happening – there is no inside or outside.

Signs of The Unseen

 

A very insightful passage from an equally insightful little essay by David Jon Peckinpaugh.

…The danger inherent in relying upon any one person to define and determine ‘Integralism’ should be obvious to anyone who has cared to heed the relevance of the Freudian Weltanschauung. Simply put, we are ripe with unconsciousness. Some more. Some less so. Some are unconscious in certain realms, dimensions, aspects and dharmas than are others. For example, I may not be as conscious of the ’emotional sheath/body’ as another is. Similarly, they may not be as conscious of the ‘vital sheath/body’ as I am. And because our unconsciousness is unconscious, it stands to reason that we are each rendered blind, deaf and dumb to that which we are… well, uhm… not at all conscious in relation to.

This is why when someone points out to us that which we are unconscious of we will tend to dismiss them as mis-taken. We just don’t see it! We are not conscious of that which is un-conscious. Period. So we tend to be dismissive of others who may see in us what we are not able to see in ourselves….

This is pointing exactly at what I see as a core aspect of my (evolving) integral practice: to recognize and acknowledge my own blind spots. We all have them. As is becoming my mantra now, the question is not if but how.

The trick is to keep an eye out for signs of our blind spots, and one of the more consistent signs I have found for myself is reactivity and dismissal of other’s actions and/or views.

Is there a sense that I have something to protect? Then it is pretty likely that a blindspot has been poked at.

Do I try to put others down? Do I blame others? Do I see something in others that I don’t see in myself? Is there a tint of self-righteousness? All of these are clear signs.

Any approach to working with projections is helpful here, and for me right now the Byron Katie inquiries cuts right through it – allowing for recognition and integration at my human level and for finding myself as that beyond, cutting right through to the nondual.

And if I didn’t quite get to it the first time, if something was left out, then life is there to gently and persistently show me again. Life is my most intimate advisor in this.

Through its language of suffering and reactivity, life unfailingly shows me my hangups, my blind spots, areas not fully brought into awareness.

Anything

 

When I don’t believe in toughs, in abstractions, I can find anything and everything in myself. I am fluid. There is no fixed or limiting identity to measure my experiences or actions against.

It may be that there will at least be a trace of rigidity/fixedness as long as this awareness functions through a body and personality, but it is always possible to further soften this set of ideas called a self-identity. To soften it, help it become more inclusive and porous, until it melts away…

And there are many ways to move in this direction.

Working with projections is one. Anything and everything I see in the outer world – in other people, in landscapes, in dreams, in mythology, in stories, in movies, in the universe – all characteristics and attributes, are also there in the inner world. When I see a characteristic in the outer world, it can be a reminder to look for it in the inner world. It can be unfolded and experienced already, or it may be there only as a potential. Can I find it? Can I see that there is no difference between the outer and inner world?

Allowing thoughts to drop us is another. Allowing the belief in thoughts – in any thought – to fall away. Byron Katie’s inquiry process seems remarkably effective for this. I experience a contraction or suffering, I find the thought behind it, and I inquire into it. Then it releases me.

Awakening to the nature of mind is another – or maybe that which makes all the other ones come to fruition. Here, I find a “ground” distinct from the small self, the body and personality, and all the habitual patterns of emotions, thoughts and behaviors. From this view, I see the inner and outer world as a fluid seamless whole. Nothing is fixed (or need to be), and there are distinctions yet no absolute boundaries. There is a sense of rich intimacy with any and all phenomena that arise in this awareness empty of any characteristics. This awareness experiences more directly, with less or no filters. Thoughts just appear within this awareness, distinct from the direct experiences. There is no need to believe in thoughts. They are just seen as that which they are – just thoughts. Just abstract representations of experiences. Very useful as that, but not anything I need to believe in or take seriously.

And living this, no matter how we come to it, is always a process. There is a continuing and deepening process of insight and integration. And life itself gives us feedback on where we are stuck, where there is still rigidity, where we resist experiences because they do not fit with thoughts we believe in. Suffering or dis-ease is a faithful and loving reminder.

Advice for me

 

I heard a story yesterday about the author of a book I am enjoying very much. The story gave the impression of this author as arrogant, and I noticed a sequence of responses in me…

First, I experienced resistance: the ones telling the story seeemed arrogant, and maybe my currently favorite author is as well. And I hooked into the thought that “they should not be arrogant” which brought up a hardness in me.

Then, it softened as I saw that it was only someone’s story. And even the story itself had many different possible interpretations – all which seemed reasonable.

Finally, it all released as I applied the advice “he/they shouldn’t be arrogant” to myself. I should not be arrogant. That feels much more true. I am the one who is too arrogant, if I think I can know that about anyone else, if I think anyone else should follow my advice, and if I think that I cannot learn from a book even if the author sometimes act in a way that can be perceived as arrogant. Now, it all seemed comical. Applying the advice to myself brought me to myself and a deepened softening.

A Gift for the One it Arises in

 

As I continue to engage in the Byron Katie inquiry process, my experiences of processes such as projections continue to deepen and clarify.

It has become very clear to me that whenever an impulse arises in me, I am the one it is meant for. I am the one meant to fully experience it.

It seems obvious, but there is such a widespread confusion about this today (and probably back to the dawn of humanity). Our culture teaches us the reverse: whenever something arises in me, it is meant for someone else. I either project it onto someone else, or I want to share it as a gift with others.

(As Jen said, there is an implicit idea behind this view which says that God/Existence must be very confused: An impulse is meant for Suzie, and it appears in Per. And I don’t even know Suzie…!)

Through inquiry, I see that whatever arises in me is meant for me. If it arises in the form of an advice (a “should”) then it is for me. If it is a gift of realization, awakening or skill, then it is for me as well – to fully experience and enjoy. I can still make it available for others, but even then I do it for myself – to continue to clarify and deepen it.

A footnote: When I see impulses arising in me as being for someone else, there is suffering. When there is a “should” and I apply it to others, they may or may not conform. When I know the advice is for me, I benefit fully from it. When a gift arises in me and I see it as for others, others may or may not receive and appreciate it the way I wish. When I know the gift is for me, I fully experience and enjoy it. Free from any agenda I would otherwise have on their behalf, this gives others the opportunity to freely enjoy it or not.

They should be interested in my gifts.

1. Yes. 2. No.

3. Let down. Feel ignored, hurt, isolated, judgmental of self and others, arrogant and/or inferior. Experience a split and separation.

4. Present. Enjoy what is. Interested in what is, as it is. (No need to interfere through engaging in the idea of “sharing my gifts”.)

5a. They should not be interested in my gifts. (No, what is is. They should not be interested until they are.)

>> 5b. I should be interested in my gifts. (Yes, I am the one they are meant for. They arise in me, so I am the one who is meant to fully experience them.)

Doing it for Myself

 

As I mentioned in a previous posting, it has become very clear to me that everything I do, I do for myself. Always. I can make up a story that I am doing it due to external circumstances, but when I look into it, I see that I am doing it only for myself. This is a liberating realization.

Some examples…

  • Paying taxes
    The story is that I pay it because I “have” to. “They make me do it”. The reality is that I choose to do it, because I don’t want the trouble that comes with not doing it. I do it for myself.

  • Doing someone a favor
    The story is that I do it for them, and there can be a substory that I “have” to do it even if it is inconvenient for me or I don’t want to. The reality is that I do it to either avoid trouble (unpleasantness in the relationship) or because I experience a connection with the person and it gives me joy to do something for her/him. I do it for myself.

  • I give free Breema sessions
    The story could be that I do it for them, that I am selfless and noble. The reality is that I do it because it gives me so much – both during the session and in connecting with people. I do it for myself.

  • I go to an event I don’t want to go to
    The story is that I go because I “have” to go, it is expected of me. The reality is that I go because I either don’t want the possibly unpleasant consequences by not going (disapproval etc) or because I expect to get something out of it. And I have judged this to be more important than the drawbacks of going. Again, I do it for myself.

Of course, for some of these – such as attending an event we don’t really want to attend – the choice may be different when we realize our real intentions. When we inquire into it, we may choose a different action. In other cases, inquiring just clarifies why we do it and dissipates any sense of ambivalence that may be there.

There is an exercise from Nonviolent Communication that can be very helpful here, along with Byron Katie’s inquiry process…

  1. Make a list of your top ten least favorable things to do
  2. Write a sentence for each one of these in the format “I have to … because …” (this is the story you tell yourself).
  3. Write another sentence for each in the format “I choose to … because …” (this is reality).

And from this, there are three typical outcomes…

  1. I see that I really want to do it, and the sense of ambivalence is dissipated. I stop blaming circumstances and see that I do it for myself. My attitude changes.
  2. I see that my reasons for doing it does not hold up, and I stop doing it. My action changes.
  3. I find another way of doing it that is more aligned with what is comfortable for me. The way I do it changes.

Projections

 

There is often a deepening of my experiences, even of that which I thought I had a good grasp on. The words may still be the same, but the experience different.

During the Breema intensive, there was one particular long body-centered meditation during which we listened to a Breema talk. I sat in the back of the room, and noticed how reactions came up for me triggered by the fidgeting of some of those near me. I had judgments come up and associated emotions, and began to fidget myself. My attention became more dispersed and fragmented. I noticed that my central judgment was “they should pay attention”.

When I turned this around to myself, “I should pay attention”, I experienced a (somewhat dramatic) shift from fragmented attention to being here/now, from discomfort to well-being, from dispersion to containment (myself as one whole beyond body/psyche), from a sense of weakness to strength, from confusion to clarity. I was present, here/now as one whole – breathing, with my weight on the ground, listening to the words of the talk.

What came up as very clear to me, is this process…

1. An impulse arises in me.
2. If I apply it outwardly (as judgments or looking for something outside of me), there is a sense of dispersion, fragmentation, weakness, confusion, impatience, and uneasiness.
3. If I apply it inwardly, there is centering, strength, clarity, direction.

The impulse is a gift from the universe, it is exactly the message I need, pointing out the direction I need to go. If I apply it to something outside of myself, I cannot benefit from its gift. If I apply to to myself, I benefit fully from the richness in it.

The advice is always for me. As Byron Katie says, “I am the one I have been waiting for”.