Creating an identity, and so resistance, out of not resisting

 

Identities can be formed around just about anything, including being “clear”, allowing what comes up to not stick, of having nothing to defend. And as with any identity, it gives a sense of I and Other, of boundaries, walls, hardness, and – yes – something to protect. I am this, and not that.

It is just another way to create a sense of a separate I, and of resisting being with experiences as they are. Or rather, it is the same as usual in terms of splitting the field into I and Other, and resisting what is. It is just another flavor, another take on it.

I have noticed this one come up over the last couple of days, where some people around me have been in bad moods, irritable and reactive. My response has been to go in the other direction, taking refuge in an identity as not that (at least right now), but it is really just another way of resisting experiences, resisting what is. Just another way to set up walls between I and Other, between I as this identity, and Other as experiences, people and behaviors that fall outside of this identity.

Noticing this wall and hardness, the sense of something to protect, the sense of the possibility of a fall, makes it easier to not resist the resistance. To allow that too to be as it is. And in this, “I” am no longer on one side of the wall and certain experiences and behaviors on the other, but I find myself as the space that the wall and both sides of the wall exists within and as.

There is a sense of release, of spaciousness, of allowing resistance and walls and defense to fall. There is a freedom to allow whatever arises to arise, independent on which side of the wall they happen to arise, to allow it as just aspects of the field.

Surrendering resistance, even to resistance

 

I read parts of Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be by Lama Surya Das a couple of days ago, and although the content is very good, something also bugged me. I got a sense of a hardness in the writing, of boundaries, which may or may not be there. (In any case, it says something about me now, that there is a sense of hardness and boundaries right here that I am invited to take a look at.)

Gradually, it dawned on me that the sense of hardness that bugged me (in myself, and possibly in the writing) seems to be a resistance to resistance itself, to suffering, to boundaries. And this is still a resistance, a splitting of the field into I and Other, a creation of boundaries in the boundless space, a not allowing of what is to be. Resisting resistance is resistance as much as resistng anything else.

Some of the ways resisting resistance shows up is in an identity as a good practitioner, as someone who wants to learn from suffering, as someone who wants to grow and mature and even evolve spiritually, as someone who wants to be a good student or teacher. All of this has the stench of Zen as they say in those circles. It makes one’s practice just another way to redefine, create and prop up identities, creating a boundary, an I and Other, a hardness towards Other, a limitation of what is allowed to surface in experience, of who or what I am, and as a human being, an artificial limitation on how I can live and what I allow to surface in this life.

So whether this really is in the writings of LSD, I can easily find it right here. And it is something I want to take a look at.

Whenever resistance comes up, this sense of hardness, of pushing something away, of I and Other, can I allow it? Just be with it? Drop resistance to it? Befriend it? Allow it as it is?

Aspects of resolution

 

For all of us, at least until awakening to realized selflessness, there are times when old patterns come up, there is a definite identification with them, and there is a deep wish for some sort of resolution.

This happened for me yesterday, and by the end of the day I found myself in a coffee shop writing down what I know, from experience, about resolution, and how to relate to these recurrent patterns. Looking over the list, I found two broad categories which (it so happens…!) correspond to the two broad categories of Buddhist meditation practice: samata and vipassana, or calm abiding and insight, or natural meditation and inquiry.

Dropping resistance (Samata)

This is about dropping resistance to experience, including resistance itself. To allow the field of seeing and seen, the whole tapestry, to arise and rest in itself as it is here and now.

This allows the field to recognize itself as a field, and the sense of I and Other within the field becomes more transparent, fades, and may even fall away in a more complete way.

There is a release from being blindly caught up in ideas and interpretations, of the whole story we weave around I as a separate entity, and so a release from much of the suffering created by this.

This field may even recognize itself as awake emptiness and form, and everything arising as awake emptiness and form, which takes even more of the charge out of whatever arises. It becomes less substantial, more of a dream, passing images.

This is the transcending of any issues in our human life, by seeing them as expressions of the field, which is inherently absent of I and Other, and as no other than awake emptiness and form.

It is the ultimate yang approach to dealing with irresolvable problems: transcend, and include. Transcend, find yourself as Big Mind instead of just this human self, realize that there is no separate I anywhere in all of it. And then include all form as Big Mind, include your human life, life your human life within this new context, now with a sense of ease and released from identification.

In a way, it is an escape, but it is an escape from a temporary misidentification to an immediate recognition of what we always and already are: the field of seeing and seen, of awake emptiness and form. This field of everything arising, which is inherently absent of an I anywhere, absent of I and Other, and where the only I is as the field as a whole, as an I without an Other.

Learning from (Vipassana)

Then there are the many ways of learning from problems…

I can find the gifts in the situation. What are the gifts of loss, failure, pain, disease? I can find a deeper empathy with others, a deepening compassion for all beings, seeing that we are all in the same boat. I can become more familiar with surrender. I can become more familiar with impermanence. I can discover my own beliefs and identities, and explore ways to surrender these beliefs and identities. I can find a deeper motivation for self-inquiry in its many forms, including those that lead to realized selflessness.

I can open my heart to what arises, including to myself and others who suffer from a similar situation, or any suffering at all. We are all in the same boat here. As long as there is a misidentification, we suffer. And through my own suffering, to seeing and feeling into it, I can open my heart and deepen my compassion, understanding and empathy for others. The more intense my own suffering, the more it can break open my heart, if I only allow it (or can’t resist it anymore.)

I can use it to find myself in the other. To see and feel, becoming more deeply and intimately familiar with in myself what I see in the other (if another person is involved.) And through this, to awaken love for it (hold it in love), in myself and the other.

I can allow the symptoms and experiences to unfold, following the trail of crumbs, allowing it to unfold and harvesting the nutrients in it through for instance Process Work, some variation of active imagination, or similar approaches.

I can learn about impermanence, become more familiar and intimate with it, and with the (freeing) consequences of seeing and feeling into impermanence.

Everything in the world of form is in flux, always fresh, new and different. Seasons, this , youth and health, success and failure, fame and infamy, art, science, nations, cultures, civilizations, the Earth itself, this solar system, this galaxy, the universe itself, it is all in flux, it all comes and goes, it is all impermanent.

Seeing and feeling that all is impermanent places my own life in a different and wider context. It means that we are all in the same boat, it is the great equalizer.

Impermanence also means that any fixed beliefs, any fixed and limited identities, any holding on to anything, brings suffering. And if everything in the world of form, including this human self, is flux, then who or what am I? I seem to not come and go in that way. What is it that does not come and go?

Impermanence allows me to explore surrender in all its many forms. Surrender of beliefs, identities, wants and wishes, who I take myself to be, anything I (think I) know.

The gifts of impermanence then includes seeing that we are all in the same boat, loosening my grip on beliefs and identities, and nudging me towards awakening – finding myself as that which does not come and go, and that which comes and goes.

I can use it to explore the many aspects of emptiness. As mentioned above, I can explore the transitory nature of anything finite in space and time. Is anything fixed?

I can try to find the boundary between seeing and seen. Where is this boundary? Is the content of awareness anything other than awareness itself? Is form anything other than awake emptiness? (See below.)

Who or what is experiencing? Is there a separate I here? (See below.)

I can use it as material for self-inquiry. First and simplest, and related to the dropping of resistance: Can I be with what I am experiencing right now? And then…

What do I need to let go of to find peace with this? Which beliefs and identities do I need to let go of to find peace with this situation? Who or what do I need to be to find peace with it? What do I need to let go of to find peace with it, even if it would never change?

What are my beliefs around this situations? Are they true? What are their consequences? Who or what would I be without them? What are the grains of truth in their reversals? (The Work.)

Who or what is experiencing? To whom or what is this happening? Am I the always changing content of experience? These sounds, smells, tastes, sensations, thoughts? What is not changing? Am I what is not changing, this awareness, the seeing of it? If so, where is the boundary of I as seeing and Other as seen?

Spatiality of resistance

 

I notice a very tangible sense of spatiality of the resistance.

Resistance splits the field into I and Other in a spacial way, where the sense of I is usually somewhere in/around the human self making it into an experience of a center, and Other is somewhere out there in the periphery, in any direction (up, down, front, back, sides).

Noticing this sense of a split of space itself makes it easier to notice and recognize resistance, and is a reminder to allow even this resistance to be as it is, to simply and quietly be with the whole field as it is, as it arises, with resistance, a sense of split, and anything else.

Being with it in this way allows the field to recognize itself as a field, inherently absent of this split, this sense of I and Other, of any I in the resistance or anywhere else.

Surrendering resistance to sense of I

 

One aspect of surrender is surrendering resistance to any sense of I. To just be with it, as it is, and notice how it arises as an aspect of the field, as a thread in the tapestry.

Resistance is what produces, and maintains, a sense of I.

And this means that resistance to a sense of I does the same.

So allowing this sense of I to be as it is, and allowing even the resistance to be, is what allows the field to reveal itself, to itself, as a field.

Resistance, dark night and purgatory

 

Over the last few days, the birth of the seed resistance, the effects of identities, and the difference between resisting and fully experiencing these effects have been even more acutely up for me. I also see how resisting the effects of a sense of I and identities is a dark night, while allowing myself to fully experiencing these effects is purgatory. It allows the sense of I and its identities to gradually burn away.

Seed resistance, giving rise to a sense of I and its identities

First, there is the resistance to what is as inherently absent of I. This resistance gives rise to a sense of I, and of I and Other.

This sense of I is fleshed out through various identities. I am this, not that. I want this, not that. And this gives rise to resistance to various aspects within form.

Resistance to the effects of the sense of I and identities

Then, there is resistance to the effects of the sense of I and the various identities. There is resistance to the experiences of loneliness, fear, anger, attraction, aversion, confusion, and so on.

When there is this resistance to the effects, the sense of I and its identities tend to seem very real and substantial. We act as if they are real, so they tend to appear as real.

When the resistance to the effects is dropped, when we allow ourselves to fully experience the effects of a sense of I and various identities, they tend to appear less substantial. They may even erode over time and fall away.

Resisting experiences vs. fully experiencing

In practical terms, it means that when we resist experiences, the sense of I and its identities appears as more real to us. They become solidified.

Many of these experiences arise when the world is filtered through a sense of I and its identities, such as fear, anger, loneliness, and so on. And resisting these experiences only makes them proliferate. We pour gasoline on the already existing fire.

When we allow ourselves to fully experience, the sense of I and its identities appear as less substantial and real. Eventually, they can burn out completely.

Fully experiencing allows us a glimpse into what we really are, awake emptiness and form absent of I, and this gives a sense of coming home, and even of bliss.

Resisting experience is hell. Allowing the resistance to experience to fall away is bliss.

Dark night and purgatory

I notice for myself that this is also the difference between an experience of dark night and purgatory.

When I resist experiencing the results of a sense of I and various identities, it is hell and an experience of a dark night.

When I allow myself to fully experience the results of a sense of I and the various identities, there is a sense of fullness, being held, coming home, and even bliss. There is also an experience of the sense of I and its identities burning away, of purgatory.

Put another way, resisting God’s will is hell and a dark night. Surrendering to God’s will is heaven and purgatory.

Clarity and quiet bliss when fully experienced

 

This is one of the many opens secrets: when something is fully experienced, there is a clarity and a quiet bliss and joy there.

When resistance falls away to whatever arises in immediate awareness, it reveals a clarity and quiet bliss which seems inherent in experience, and this is independent of what is experienced – pain, grief, joy, sadness, anger, enthusiasm or whatever else it may be.

Looking at this for myself, I find that…

Resistance comes from the belief in the thought I, and a set of beliefs in additional thoughts which creates an exclusive and limited identity. Whatever does not fit is then resisted, it is made “other”, and gives rise to a sense of drama and struggle.

The resistance itself seems to take the form of (a) an attachment to a belief that what is should be different, (b) a sensation, (c) shifting attention away from what arises, at least temporarily, and (d) a behavior meant to distract attention or make whatever is resisted change or go away. Resistance really only kicks up a lot of dust, temporarily hiding – at best, what is resisted.

Absence of resistance allows whatever is to be. This reveals the bliss and joy that seems inherent in experience, always. It may reveal what is resisted to not be nearly as frightening or threatening as it initially seemed, and maybe not as what it seemed at all. It also allows what is resisted to live its own life, to unfold, change, as it does anyway.

Pain as an example

A good example is pain, whether physical or emotional.

:: Pain resisted

When resisted, it may look something like this…

  1. There is a belief in the idea of I as a segment of what is, as limited, somehow separate from the rest of the world of form and/or awareness.
  2. A sensation arises. This sensation is labeled pain.
  3. Then, beliefs kick in which says that this pain is not me, undesirable, something that should not be there. Now, there is a sense of I being exposed to pain as Other, and an unwanted Other.
  4. This leads to resistance. There is a rehearsal of the initial beliefs making pain wrong and of a list of additional and supporting beliefs.
  5. From this comes various sensations, and a sense of drama and turmoil and various emotions, which themselves may be resisted as the pain is.

:: Pain not resisted

Resistance can fall away at different points of that chain…

l1. The resistance of the idea of I falls away

If the resistance falls away at its root, with the attachment of the idea of I, the sensation/emotions arise freely as awareness, as Big Mind, as Spirit. There is no resistance, no sense of drama. Just clarity and a sense of ease.

l2. The resistance of the story of pain falls away

If the resistance falls away at the story of the sensation/emotion, there is just a sensation or emotion arising, and a story arising, yet no connection between the two. Again, there is no drama. Just clarity and a sense of ease.

l3. The resistance of the story of pain is bad falls away

Here, the additional beliefs – making pain not me, bad, wrong and so on, falls away. Again, no drama, just clarity and ease (although maybe a little more precarious, because there may be a large number of stories making pain wrong).

l4. The resistance to the effects of the stories of I, pain, and pain is wrong falls away

The chain of events has gone all the way to the effects of the stories of I, pain, and pain is wrong, so there is a sense of drama and turmoil. But all is not lost: here, we can allow the resistance to these effects to fall away, to allow the effects unfold in awareness. I can ask myself, can I be with what I am experiencing right now?

The interesting thing here is that this in itself can unravel the previous chain, all the way back to the initial story of I. Simply being with an experience, initially labeled pain, can unravel the chain of the stories of pain is wrong, pain, and I.

How far back the chain unravels seems somewhat related to where our usual center of gravity is located, and how intense the experience is.

What could have been pain is now something different, and reveals clarity and bliss

In each of these cases, what could have been pain is now revealed as something different, and something that reveals clarity and quiet bliss and joy.

In the first two cases, it never arises as pain in the first place, just as one of the forms of Spirit or an experience. In the third case, it may appear as pain, but is OK and welcomed. In the fourth case, the chain is allowed to unravel – possibly all the way back to the story of I.

How to

How do we allow resistance to fall away at each of those points of the chain?

The beliefs in the stories can unravel through The Work, the connection between sensations/emotions and stories can unravel through labeling practice, and the effects of the stories can allow to unfold through asking myself can I be with what I am experiencing right now?

Beliefs, resistance and tension

 

Through The Work, it becomes clear how beliefs, resistance and tension are different aspects of the same process.

Beliefs split the world into desirable and undesirable, which brings resistance to certain experiences, and then mental and physical tension.

There is a belief in the idea of I, placed on a segment of what is. Then, there is a large set of other beliefs to fill out this identity.

These beliefs tell what is desirable and what is undesirable, so there will be a natural resistance to certain experiences – to certain situations, circumstances, sensations, emotions, thoughts and behaviors.

And this resistance is reflected in tension, both mentally and physically.

From here, it goes into the perceived need to use force, manipulation and so on, which further amplifies the tension and the sense of struggle and drama.

And it is all a struggle within content, pitting one aspect of content against another. All arising within and as Ground, as form and empty clear awareness.

Resistance & Tension

 

Another relatively obvious connection…

When we resist experiences, there is tension – in body and psyche. There is holding, contraction, holding onto or pushing away, force, duality, a sense of I and Other.

In terms of sequence, there seems to first be a belief in a thought. This is the thought I (as opposed to Other), followed by other thoughts of desireable and undesireable, likes and dislikes, want and want not, good and bad, and so on. Then, whatever arises in experience and labeled desireable or undesireable is either attempted pushed away or hold onto. And this is acompanied by tension. Belief in thought > sense of good/bad > holding onto/pushing away > tension.

Of course, it is futile to even try to hold onto or pushing away any experience. They come and go on their own. They live their own life, independent of what gymnastics we try to engage in. At the very best, attention can be placed somewhere else and there is distraction, for a while.

So any belief is acompanied by contraction and tension. There is a contraction down into an exclusive identity, and there is a tension of body/mind in trying to hold onto and push away experiences.

This drama seems to take a good deal of energy, so no wonder many are chronically tired (possibly beyond what is caused by sleep deprivation and less than optimal food and excercise habits) and also grow rigid with time.

In noticing this, over and over, I see (a) that it doesn’t work, and (b) how much energy it drains from my daily life. When seen clearly, without drama, that is feedback that may allow it to erode and fall away.

For me, The Work is one way to explore this, especially through question three – how do you react when you believe that thought, and also in the contrast with what comes up from question four – who or what am I without the belief?

Breema is another good laboratory, allowing me to see the connection between holding onto beliefs (in the form of getting caught up in thoughts) and tension, rigidity, force and a sense of lack of flow and connection.

Simple Feedback & The Cycle of Double Avoidance

 

I, as most of us, sometimes eat things that are not good for me. I guess I am fortunate in that my body does not hesitate to make it very clear to me, in the form of spaciness (sugar), fatigue (sugar), sluggishness (dairy), feeling weird – out of touch with the world, unreality (anything refined or artificial, wheat, alcohol), and in other ways.

Being with the experiences, allowing for feedback

I notice that if I take time to be with the symptoms of eating something my body has a reaction to, then that provides valuable feedback and something shifts. If I am with my experiences, simply, clearly, allowing them to unfold on their own, without adding drama to it, the feedback allows something to shift and I find myself less likely to want to eat that food again – or I eat it less frequently and in a lesser amount.

Cycle of double avoidance

I also see that the reason I eat these things is often that I want to avoid another experience.

Something comes up that my personality finds uncomfortable, and instead of taking the time of being with these experiences, I eat ice cream, cheese or something else. Then, I have the reactions from eating dairy and/or sugar, and avoid experiencing these as well by distracting myself in another way.

So there is an initial avoidance, leading to behavior that creates other unpleasant experiences, and there is an avoidance of these experiences as well. This allows the cycle to continue as before, in spite of whatever self-talk I may engage in.

Being with

The solution is to be with my experiences, both the initial ones that may trigger distraction and the symptoms of the food I eat. To be with them, as they are, without adding drama. And if drama is added to it, then just be with that as well.

It is simple. Clear. Peaceful (even if what I am being with may be turmoil).

Being with experiences in this way seems to invite something to shift, in its own time and in its own way. It seems to provide just the right food for the inherent intelligence and wisdom of the mind.

My business is to be with my experiences. That is all. The shift happens on its own.

Resistance & Stomach Ache

 

I have been exploring resistance more lately, in many different ways and situations.

Some weeks back, I spent a few days in Seattle and woke up the second morning with a terrible stomach ache (from a meal the night before). It was very intense, and there was little – of the obvious things – that I could do to alleviate it.

I noticed that if I brought attention away from the pain, it increased and became almost unbearable. If I brought attention to it – being with it, meeting it – it softened and changed quality.

So with resistance, in the form of bringing attention to something else and telling stories about how it shouldn’t be there, it intensified. Allowing the resistance to fall away, the sensations softened and changed – into just a sense of fullness which I couldn’t place the label “pain” on even if I wanted.

Just another example of how life is my main (in reality only) guru, giving me what I need. And how the greatest secrets are right under our nose. Resistance to experience = sense of separation, fragmentation, I – Other, stress, discontent and suffering. Allowing resistance to fall away = sense of fullness, spaciousness and a quiet joy.

There are many other aspects to this as well.

Resistance and beliefs

Resistance seems to go along with beliefs. There is a belief that the current situation should be different, and there is resistance to experiences in the form of (a) attention brought elsewhere and (b) another story about the experience and its meaning (often “bad”).

So I can unravel the beliefs, for instance through The work. Or I can allow the resistance to the experience to fall away, meeting it with simplicity, asking myself can I be with what I am experiencing right now?

As Bhagavan says, anything fully experienced is bliss. That is certainly accurate in my experience, although the bliss so far – in my limited experience – is more of a quiet joyfulness which goes along with the fullness of the experience.

Maybe most simply, a belief and corresponding resistance to experience creates a sense of I and Other, and this inherently brings up discontent, alienation, stress, unease, suffering. Allowing beliefs to unravel and resistance to fall away, there is an absence of I and Other and a corresponding sense of fullness, being at home, quiet joy.

Labels & Resistance in Daily Life

 

There is a form of insight meditation which in the past didn’t do much for me, but now makes more sense.

Notice whatever comes up in your awareness, and label it sensation, smell/taste, sound, sight or thought.

Effects of noticing simple categories

Noticing these simple categories seems to have several effects.

The main one is to allow each of these experiences to separate and live their own life. Specifically, they are liberated from stories about them, and the stories are liberated from being believed in.

In my case, the main relief comes from allowing sensations to separate from stories about them. And I also see that what I often label emotion is really a combination of sensation and thought.

I can see that each of these – sensations, thoughts and so on – are already separate. The only difference is in noticing that they already are, and allowing the stories to fall away. I also see that none of these are really separate, and that this separating out is just a tool – for finding a sense of ease with it all.

Practice and daily life

I take some time out to notice this more clearly, in between daily tasks and also before falling asleep. I may scan each category and see what I find there, or just allow things to come up in awareness and then label them.

And in daily life, I may notice the categories and the dynamics between them as things happen.

For instance, I was at the dentist yesterday and noticed stories arising about pain, I noticed a resistance to the pain and so on. Seeing this, I went back a few steps in the series of cascading effects, and saw that what was really happening was just a sensation and then thoughts about this sensation. Just seeing this allowed attention to stay with the simple sensation, allowing the stories about it to fall away or at least not go very far.

Without noticing the dynamics of this habitual sensation/thought connection, the stories arise, seem very real and important, and build upon themselves. It is pain, I shouldn’t be in pain, pain is uncomfortable, I don’t want to be uncomfortable, how can I avoid this pain, and so on.

When there is a noticing of sensation as a simple sensation and thoughts as just thoughts, the attachment to these stories seem to fall away. Maybe a first or second generation thought comes up, with not much substance to them, and the third and fourth and so on generation thoughts may not arise at all.

The drama and struggle is taken out of the situation. There is just utter simplicity and ease. Just being with whatever arising, with less or no need to attach to or push them away. As if attaching to or pushing away was possible in the first place.

There is a quieting down. There is clarity. Simplicity. And engagement as well, when that comes up.

More precisely

I also see the tendency to use an informal and less thought through language when talking about these things.

Some examples of what seems more aligned with my current experience…

Sensations are already liberated from thoughts about them, and thoughts are already liberated from beliefs in them. There is only a pretending that they are not. And it seems that it has never been any different.

Also, what I often call resistance is really just a conglomerate of shifting attention, sensations and thoughts. When I don’t see it as a tenuous (really nonexisting) conglomerate, it seems very real, powerful and substantial. It can seem as a real problem, something to deal with.

Yet, when it is seen as just a tenuous conglomerate – or really as not existing at all – then the components fall (in our experience of them) into their own space. The connections among them are revealed as not real, as having not existed in the first place. When the connections are seen as not real, then the question just becomes – what was the problem? The sense of drama and struggle resolves and dissolves, and reveals the clarity that was always there.

Nothing needs to change, apart from the noticing. Nothing can really change, apart from the noticing. Before the noticing, there is drama, struggle and a sense of a very substantial and real problem. After the noticing, this is all seen as only an appearance. There is just ease, clarity and simplicity.

Fear of Allowing Resistance to Drop **

 

If resistance initiates a sense of I and Other, struggle, drama, suffering – why not drop it? What are the mechanisms which prevents it from dropping?

The most obvious answer is probably habit. We are used to operating from resistance, and anything we are used to tends to perpetuate itself.

The other answer may be fear. Fear of what may happen if resistance drops. Fear of being overwhelmed. Fear of being passive and nonfunctional. And these are natural fears, if all or most of what we know is operating from resistance. We don’t know what is on the other side, and project monsters into it.

The irony is that when there is resistance to experiences, there is often a sense of overwhelm. And when there is resistance, there is also often passitivity and nonfunctionality.

Resistance is born from and perpetuates a sense of I and Other, and sometimes of Other as a disturbance, something to hold back, to protect against. So when we hold back experiences, no wonder we feel overwhelmed. We are creating a dam, and feeling the pressure from the other side.

Resistance also takes up a lot of energy. We struggle with the Other, hold it back, fight with it, try to avoid it, engage with it again. And from this comes fatigue, tiredness, leading into passitivity and nonfunctionality. Resistance comes from beliefs, and beliefs drain our energy. Even as they may give rise to manic activity, it drains our energy.

Not surprisingly, what we are familiar with from resistance is exactly what we project into absence of resistance.

What comes alive when there is an absence of resistance could not be farther from this picture. There is ease, utter simplicity, clarity, access to wisdom, full engagement in the world.

An absence of resistance to experiences allows the experiences to come and go, to live their own life, to pass through as if through space. An absence of resistance allows for vitality, fullness of experience, richness in engagement, virtuality unlimited supply of energy.

Anatomy of Resistance

 

I have been curious about resistance over the last few days…

The components of resistance

It seems that…

Resistance is always to an experience (how could it be to anything else?).

Resistance is really an resistance to being with an experience. To meet it simply, to experience it, to allow it to unfold within awareness, to allow it its own life.

Beliefs (attachments to thoughts) and resistance seem to be two sides of the same coin. When there is a belief, there will automatically be resistance to experiences that seems related to that belief. There is an attempt to hold onto some experiences and push other experiences away, both of which are resistance. Say I believe there shouldn’t be pain, then I will try to hold onto absence of pain and push away pain itself, even if it is there.

Resistance is always to the present. It is always to what unfolds within this eternal Now, to current experiences – whether they are labeled sensations, emotions or thoughts.

Resistance is mental gymnastics. It seems to involve (a) stories about the experience. (b) Shifting attention away from the initial experience, as a way to avoid being with it. (c) Sensations and the stories about these, labeling them pain, fear, terror, anger, resistance and so on. (d) Stories about these cascading sensations, such as if I experience these fully I will be overwhelmed, if I experience them fully I will be incapacitated, if I don’t resist I will become passive. (e) Shifting attention away from these experiences. And so on.

Resistance involves a cascade of effects, as listed above. (a) There is an experience. (b) There are be stories about the meaning of this initial experience, and the reasons why it is desirable or undesirable – although the initial experience is now long gone. Stories and thoughts can never keep up with what is actually happening in the present, they are too slow, they are always about the past. (c) There may be innocent sensations happening, and these are labeled pain, fear, resistance, longing, sadness, anger, terror and so on. (d) There may be stories about these sensations, such as if I experience these fully I will be overwhelmed, if I experience these fully I will be incapacitated, if I – which makes them take on a whole other significance. It also helps solidify the initial story about the initial experience. (e) There is a shifting attention away from all of this. (f) There are more sensations and stories to which attention first goes, and then goes away from. And so on. From a simple belief and resistance, a huge complexity emerge, and I cannot see the details of this complexity very clearly yet.

An example: a dog charges at me and barks. I have a story that I should be safe from dogs, that dogs should not attack me, that I should not be physically harmed, that I should be safe from physical harm, and so on. So I resist the experience of the barking dog. There may be sensations coming up, and I label these emotions – such as fear and terror. I believe that fully experiencing these emotions will overwhelm or incapacitate me. Attention goes from the barking dog to my own experiences, to something else, to the barking dog. Back and forth. So from the initial belief and resistance, general mayhem and confusion ensues.

There seems to be a low-level underlying resistance to all experience, in most of our lives. Sometimes, it flares up and becomes more obvious and apparently stronger. And this resistance – whether low level or stronger – is what creates the whole sense of drama and struggle in our lives. It is what creates the sense of I and Other, of a separate doer, of seer and seen, of likes and dislikes. It is one of the keys to samsara.

Resistance is futile. I may try to hold onto absence of pain and push pain away, but both are clearly futile. When there is an experience of pain, there it is, no matter what mental gymnastics are initiated. Whatever is happening is inevitably fully experienced, no matter what.

When there is resistance – or really the mental gymnastics described above – there is a sense of stuckness. The initial experience, especially those labeled emotions, may hang around for what seems a very long time. The machinery grinds to a halt, in various ways.

When an experience is allowed its life, simply, without all of this mental gymnastics, it moves through. It moves through anyway, but in this case with more ease. There is not all of the drama and struggle associated with the mental gymnastics called resistance. There is just a sense of clarity of ease, no matter what labels we could place on the experience.

So whether there is resistance or not, everything is already fully experienced. The only difference is whether there is a sense of struggle and drama or a sense of ease, clarity and simplicity.

Allowing it all to unravel

The good news is that even if there is a huge complexity arising from initial beliefs and resistance, allowing it to unravel can be a relatively simple process – although not always easy or quick.

As beliefs and resistance seems to be two sides of the same coin, we can approach it from either of both of those.

:: Beliefs ::

If we approach it from the belief end, we see that it is really unexamined beliefs and resistance that goes together, so one way is to examine these beliefs. Do they reflect what is? What are their effects? How would my life be without them? And so on.

When the attachment to thoughts fall away, the resistance to experiences falls away with it. Left is just utter simplicity, clarity, ease – even as there is a full engagement in daily life.

:: Resistance ::

If we approach it from the resistance end, we can simple be with the experience. I can ask myself, can I be with whatever I am experiencing right now? Or I can notice a sensation come up and just simply see it as sensation, which cuts the bridge to any story that could be placed on top of it. Which in turn cuts the bridge to the whole drama.

Through this, the attachment to stories gradually falls away as well.

Liberation

There is a sense of liberation in allowing the attachment to stories fall away, and allowing the mental gymnastics of resistance to fall away with it.

Thoughts are liberated to live their life without attachments to them. Sensations are liberated to live their life without a belief in stories about them. This life is liberated from a belief in stories about itself, and from the sense of drama and struggle that comes with those stories.

Eventually, this bodymind is liberated from the story of I placed on it.

Left is only a sense of ease, clarity, simplicity and a full engagement in the life of this human self. There is no sense of I or Other, no gap anywhere. It is all revealed as what it always is – the play of Spirit.

Nothing to liberate that wasn’t already

And really, there was never anything to liberate. There was never any belief that was not already seen through, never any experience that was not already fully experienced, never a belief in any separate I placed on this human self.

It was all just part of the game. It was all just pretending.

Although it seemed real enough as it was happening.

Just another story

And all of this is of course just another story.

Beliefs, Resistance and Samsara

 

Beliefs and resistance seems to be two sides of the same coin, and also the main mechanism of samsara.

Whenever there is a belief in any abstraction, there is also resistance.

And whenever there is resistance, there is also resistance to the effects of resistance.

Beliefs as resistance

Whenever there is any attachment to a thought, it gives rise to a sense of I and Other, to an identity (I am this and not that), and to a sense of Other and Not That as a disturbance.

There is resistance to what is through trying to hold onto some aspects and trying to push away other aspects. And from this comes a sense of struggle and drama.

Resistance to resistance

When there is resistance to what is in this way, there is not only the appearance of Other and of a disturbance, but the whole process also gives rise to an experience of suffering.

On top of this, there can be resistance to the suffering as well. There is the effects of the initial resistance in the form of suffering, and then resistance to those effects which in turns adds to the experience of suffering.

Unraveling

To unravel this, we can start at the belief end or the resistance end of it.

Starting at the belief end, we can for instance do The Work on beliefs and allow them to unravel in that way. When beliefs unravel, resistance unravel with them – along with a sense of suffering.

Starting at the resistance end, we can be with whatever is experienced – allowing it its own life, befriending it, finding peace with it even if it would never go away (which it always does, at some point). As the resistance falls away and there is a familiarity with the new terrain, the corresponding beliefs tend to unravel as well.

Resistance & I Within the Field

 

Right now, it seems helpful to notice (a) any resistance and (b) any sense of I as both arising within the field of radical equality and neutrality.

In headless terms, resistance and sense of I arise within this headless space, along with everything else. They belong to the field of what is happening, they are part of the fluid content. No identification with them is needed.

And if there is identification arising, then that too is just part of the field, just part of the content. That too is arising within headlessness.

Breaking Open vs. Down

 

Another simple little guideline…

If I resist experiences, it creates suffering. And if the experience and resistance both are strong, it may lead to a breakdown of one sort or another.

If I allow whatever is experienced – including any resistance to it, then the intensity leads to a breaking open rather than breaking down. I move to and beyond the current edge. There is a new territory explored. And eventually, it can lead to the breaking open into a realization of no I anywhere.

This is of course a very rough way of talking about it.

When there is an experience, and an identification with a resistance to that experience, it leads to suffering. And this identification to the resistance usually comes when the initial experience is outside of my conscious identity – my view of who I am or at least should be. So when both the initial experience and the resistance are strong, it can lead to some sort of breakdown – form exhaustion to something more dramatic.

When there is an experience, and no or less identification with any resistance to it, then it just unfolds in space as anything else. There is less or no suffering. It is just living its own life. And I find myself as the space holding it all. Any intensity of the content now only serves to help me notice the inherent and natural space and clarity of mind. Intensity now helps me notice the nature of mind more clearly, that which is there independent of any changing content. The Ground and clarity.

When there is an identification with resistance, what is resisted appears as a disturbance and an Other. When there is less or no identification with this resistance, what is resisted just happens – along with everything else. It is just a part of what is passing through.

Befriending

 

The world is my mirror – whether I find myself as human beings and/or as Big Mind.

As a human being, whatever I see out there reflect myself in here.

And as Big Mind, everything arising is me.

Resistance to what is

When I resist this, there is pain. It is the signal that I am excluding in my mind something that is inherently a part of what is and myself.

And resistance comes up when I attach to a thought, as any thought by necessity is different from and more limited than what is.

In other words, when I attach to a thought, I immediately create an exclusive identity, which has to be painful as it conflicts with my nature which is beyond and including any and all polarities.

What is – free from descriptions

What is is – and I am – inherently beyond and including existence and nonexistence, spirit and matter, formless and form, seer and seen, awakened and deluded, living and nonliving, life and death, culture and nature, mind and body, right and wrong, and so on.

What is is – and I am – inherently free from all this. Any name describe me, yet I am free from any name.

Mechanisms of pain

As a human being, the pain comes in many ways.

It comes from a limited repertoire. I am invited to bring out more of my qualities, yet don’t because I am not familiar with them yet or exclude them through holding onto a limited identity.

The pain is also there due to a sense of separation. I see qualities out there and not in here, and the other way around. I see myself as a separate entity. I see myself as variously better and/or worse than what I see out there. I get caught up in seeking something and avoiding other things, in my internal and external life. I get caught up in blind identifications. I get caught up in struggle.

Not seeing in myself what I see out there gives rise to pain in innumerable ways.

At the level of Big Mind, the pain simply comes from separation – from the appearance of I and Other in the field of what is, inherently absent of any I or Other.

Befriending

So no wonder we have found many ways to help ourselves heal this split in our experience of what is, this fictional life bringing about pain.

  • Being with
    The simplest approach is to just be with whatever is happening. I just ask myself Can I be with what I am experiencing right now? I am with whatever is happening, including the impulse to resist and push something away. And in that way, I befriend whatever is happening. The ficitional boundary between this particular form of I and Other dissolve.

  • Welcoming in
    Going a little furhter, I can actively embrace and welcome in whatever is arising. I see them as lost children wanting attention and warmth, and provide it for them.

  • Inquiry
    Then there are the many forms of inquiry, including The Work. Here, I examine attachments to thoughts and allow them to unravel – and the resistance with them. What appeared as an Other and a disturbance (or worse) is now revealed as a friend. What arises may be the same (or not) but the charge went out of it.

  • Process Work
    In Process Work, I unravel the process behind whatever is happening in the external or internal world. I follow the bread crumbs, and find the gift behind it. In this way too, anything happening becomes a friend – an invitation into exploring aspects of the world and myself that is new to me, and allowing boundaries to dissolve.

  • Giving it over to the divine
    And I can give it over to the divine. That is where it is anyway, so I am really just giving over my experience of myself as an individual separate doer. Everything is living its own life anyway, and this is another reminder.

  • Asking for it to resolve
    As a more active version of the previous one, I can ask for resolution in whatever way it needs to resolve.

    I may also ask to see whatever I need to see for it to resolve. I may ask for whatever in me that needs to unravel to unravel. I may ask for harvesting of whatever gifts and nutrients are in it.

    I see that holding an intention in this way – precise and open ended at the same time – creates a sense of a field within which this unraveling can take place.

Spaciness

 

On my way to the dreamwork course with Arny Mindell today, I noticed spaciness. I had a story about it – that it came from a combination of being sleep deprived and eating certain foods. And I also noticed that if I resisted it, if I saw it as an Other, it became a disturbance. It brought about a sense of discomfort, self-consciousness, rigidity, wanting to be on my own, concern about interacting with people, and so on.

If the resistance went away and I welcomed the spaciness as a friend, it took a very different form. Now, it became an invitation to be more free, receptive, flowing, comfortable, dissolving the sense of separate self, and seeing the magic in the world.

During the class, I had an opportunity to work on this further, and saw how it connected with my amnesia dream some weeks back, and many other things that has been coming up for me over the last few weeks and months – both in dreams and waking life.

It is just another reminder of how our lives is one single process (as apparent individuals, and also collectively and as the world of form as a whole). In this case, unfolding the process behind the spaciness touched upon a wide range of “symptoms” from recent months.

It all seems to have to do with (a) generally the difference between resistance (creating an Other and the appearance of a disturbance) and befriending (allowing it to share its gifts), and (b) specifically the gifts in spaciness – the space, freedom, flow, fluidity and nonlinearity of it.

Not surprisingly, working on this symptom of spaciness, my sense of being tired went away and alertness came in instead – still within the spaciness. There can be precision, functionality and linearity alongside with space, fluidity, flow, receptivity and nonlinearity. Right now, it seems that I am invited into bringing both more fully into my life – to explore how it is to live from the larger whole which holds both.

Breaking Down vs. Breaking Open

 

Whenever there is a strong experience, I have two (broad) choices.

I can choose to resist. Or I can be with it – or rather be it.

When I resist, there is suffering. If it goes on for too long, and/or is too strong, I can “break down”.

When I am the experience, there is a current of bliss. And I can allow the experience to open my heart and mind. I can break open. The separations between me and others break down – it opens my heart/mind for the experiences of others, and I see that we are all in the same boat. My own pain is a reminder of the pain that all humans experience. It opens for compassion through seeing myself in the other and the other in myself.