Primary relationship

 

My primary relationship is with myself.

It’s already that way, both in a conventional and a more real sense.

In a conventional sense, what I take as me – this human self, this doer, this observer – is what’s here more than anyone or anything else. I am the one I am living with, now and now and now, at least until the end of this human life.

And looking closer, I see that any relationship is with myself. It’s an image of a relationship between two images, and all of those happen within my world of images, they happen within and as what I am. My world of images happen within and as what I am, and what these refer to happens within and as what I am.

If it’s already that way, why wouldn’t it be that way consciously, wholeheartedly, authentically? What prevents it?

What am I afraid would happen if my primary relationship is with myself? What am I afraid to lose? What am I afraid I won’t get?

Others will be offended. They will feel rejected. They will judge me. They will see me as arrogant, self-centered, setting myself first.

I won’t do what’s needed for them to love me, accept me, want to be with me.

And behind that:

Others will reject me because…. they see me as arrogant, self-centered, I won’t do what’s needed for them to like me. Others will reject me, and that means…. I will be alone. I will suffer. My life will be in ruins. My life will go into a downward spiral. I will die alone.

I need them to love me, accept me, want to be with me.

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Addiction and inquiry

 

When I look for myself, I find that my main addiction is to taking thoughts as true. Any other (apparent) addiction seems to stem from this basic one.

And when I look at my own more conventional addictive tendencies, I find what seems to be a common dynamic, a set of thoughts taken as true.

(a) This memory / emotion is unbearable. It’s too much for me. It’s real / it points to something real.

(b) It’s easier / more comfortable to escape it / distract myself.

(c) I feel better by…. (eating, going on the internet, watching a movie, talking with friends etc.)

I remember a relationship disappointment from my early twenties. I have the thought it’s unbearable, too much, or even just uncomfortable to think about it or feel the emotions it brings up. I think it’s easier or more comfortable to distract myself. I have a thought about what would help me distract myself, and/or feel better. And I take each of these thoughts as true. So I eat something, go on the internet, watch a movie, talk with a friend, go for a walk, or listen to a podcast. If I tend to chose the same activity for comfort and/or distraction, it may take the appearance of an addictive tendency.

Even if I vary my strategies, there are several addictions or addictive tendencies here. There is an addiction to seek comfort, and to seek distraction from uncomfortable images/emotions. And behind that is an addiction to taking my thoughts as true.

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Dream: Skull and hole

 

I have removed my skull and apply heat to it in an attempt to make it stronger. A doctor is quite concerned and recommends against it. I return the skull to it’s place. It was quite clear the whole time that this was a futile attempt.

I am in a Spanish speaking town or neighborhood, and unable to get back to where I am staying. It’s getting late, I am slightly concerned for my camera and wallet, so try to find a safe place. I go down a set of steps into a shaft or basement of some sort, realize I won’t be able to get up until dawn, and also that it’s not safer than anywhere else.

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Statements for inquiry: She is going too fast, she is teaching

 

This morning, I listened to an audio file of Byron Katie working with a woman. Taking the role of the client while listening, I noticed a few different thoughts coming up.

She is going too fast. I don’t have time to find it. I don’t have time to let it sink in.

She is teaching. She is telling me what I am supposed to find.

It’s BK so I can’t tell her to stop. I can’t tell her it’s not working for me. I have to go along with it.

It’s terrifying for the identified mind

 

It’s terrifying for the identified mind.

A friend of mine said that yesterday, when I mentioned the sense of dissolving (my body, mind, life dissolving).

It seems very true for me. It’s terrifying for the identified mind, for the mind that’s identified with certain thoughts, and their perspectives, their outlook on life. It’s terrifying for the mind that’s identified with the identities that goes along with, and are created from, these thoughts and perspectives.

In this case, some of these thoughts are:

I won’t survive. I won’t be able to function.

I will continue to resist. My life will continue to fall apart, because I resist.

I don’t get it. There is something to get. I am doing it wrong. I am caught up in resistance. I am caught up in fear. I am caught up in beliefs. I am caught up in confusion.

I don’t get it. I don’t get that resistance is more painful than welcoming what’s here.

When the mind is identified with any of these thoughts, it’s painful. And each of them come with a certain perspective and an identity. A way of seeing the world, a way of being in the world, a way of living in the world.

 

K: All striving had ended

 

I am reading a book with personal accounts of the awakening process by two people. It’s very good, also because I get to see some of my own beliefs, sometimes by finding one-liners – what appears to me as beliefs, assumptions – in what’s written. One is this:

All striving, all worry, all efforting had ended. (p. 36, We are the Awakening Christ.)

I understand it can be experienced that way. And I don’t know how it is for her. It may very well be true in her experience, as she writes it.

For me, I see that when I have had those “all” thoughts, it’s not quite true. It’s a bit of wishful thinking. I cannot know that “all” of it is over. And if I look, I can find examples of the turnaround – not all of it is over. There is always something left. (I am grateful when I find it, because it keeps me humble, real.)

Some thoughts for me to look at:

She is avoiding reality. She is (unintentionally) dishonest. She is doing people a disservice (by setting up unrealistic expectations). She is misguided. She is caught in wishful thinking.

 

Dissolving

 

Last night, I felt and stayed with what’s here, gave it all over to God, and also checked in around health, the future etc. (visualizing, getting a sense of where it’s moving). What was clear was a sense of brilliance and a strong presence of Christ, of no feedback whatsoever about the future or health, and also of everything dissolving (mind, body, life). The image of a larvae dissolving in a chrysalis came up. And I also saw some fear and thoughts about it.

Here are some of my fearful thoughts, ready for inquiry:

I don’t know what is happening. I need to know what’s happening.

I won’t be able to function. My health won’t improve. I need my health to improve.

I won’t be able to allow it, welcome it, go into it. The process will stagnate because I am not able to welcome it.

My life will continue to fall apart, dissolve, because I am not able to welcome it. I am stopping the process.

I am not allowing the process to resolve itself, come to fruition. I am too caught up in fear. I am stopping myself by holding onto beliefs.

I am not sincere enough. My intention is not clear enough. I am not committed enough. I am too wounded.

I am not clear enough. I don’t get it. I don’t get that resistance is more painful than allowing it. I am too caught up in confusion.

Inquiry statements: God’s will

 

Some thoughts for inquiry about God and God’s will:

God is unkind. I can’t have what I want. It’s not a fair life.

If what’s happening is God’s will, God is unkind, misguided, unfair. What’s happening is not what’s best for me. God doesn’t have my best interest at heart.

If God had my best interest at heart, I would have… the health I want, more money, better relationship, a clear path in life, an easy life. I would have had a relationship with M, B, and/or E. (early twenties). A happy family life. Children. A job I love. Living in a place where I feel completely at home.

God’s will is not mine. God’s will is not what I want. God’s will will bring me suffering.

If I don’t have what I want, it’s a sign that God doesn’t care. God left me. Something is wrong with my connection with God. I am not good enough for God. (Success, money, beauty, happy family, a job I love.)

God should do what I want. God should give me an easy life. (Picture of God as a parent, should be here for me, do what I want.)

 

Inquiry: My mother doesn’t love me

 

Situation: My mother shouting at me and blaming me for her breaking something in the kitchen while I was in the living room playing. I was four or five years old.

1. I am afraid of my mother because she is angry at me.

2. I want my mother to not be angry at me, to love me, to understand I didn’t do anything, to love herself.

3. My mother shouldn’t be angry at me, she shouldn’t shout at me, she should love me, she should breathe and calm down, she should find clarity.

4. I need my mother to love me, to love herself, to tell me it’s all OK, to tell me I am OK.

5. My mother is angry, confused, upset, afraid, hurt, blinded.

6. I don’t ever want my mother to be angry at me again.

Additional beliefs:

She is angry at me, and that means…. She doesn’t love me. She will leave me. I will be alone. I will be lost. I will suffer. I will die.

She is angry at me because…. There is something wrong with me. I did something wrong. I am not lovable. I should be punished.

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Statements for inquiry: I am unlovable

 

This is one of the thoughts that is clearly not true at a conscious level. And yet, at times, it feels true. It seems to be held as true at an emotional level, and I also see how this belief sometimes plays itself out in my life. Life is kind, so this confusion sometimes bubbles to the surface to be felt and seen, including right now. If I am very still, and very honest, what beliefs do I find here? What beliefs support or underpin the thought that I am unlovable? What images do I see?

I am unlovable.

Nobody likes me. Situation: Early school days.

Nobody likes me because…. They think I am weird. They see me as not good enough. Nobody likes me and that means…. I will be alone forever. I will suffer. I will die.

Nobody loves me. Situation: Two or three times when my parent’s were angry at me when I was very little.

My parents don’t love me because…. They got angry at me. They left me in the crib alone at night. My parents don’t love me and that means…. I will be alone. I will suffer. I will die.

She chose someone else. Situation: In my late teens/early twenties, with M, B, and E.

She chose someone else because…. She saw me as not good enough. I didn’t tell her how much she meant to me. I let a wonderful opportunity pass. She chose someone else, and that means…. I am unlovable. I won’t find anyone else. I lost my soul mate. I missed out of a wonderful life.

I let the opportunity for a relationship pass, and that means….. I made a huge mistake. My life got off track. I missed out of a wonderful life. I won’t find anything like that again.

I let the opportunity for a relationship pass, and that means….. I went away from God’s plan with me. I left God’s plan with my life. I won’t be able to get back on track. God has given up on me. My life is ruined.

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Relating to physical and emotional pain

 

Thoughts about physical and emotional pain:

It’s separate. It’s an enemy. It’s a problem. Pain is bad.

It’s better if it’s not here. Another experience is better.

There shouldn’t be pain in the world.

I need it to change. I am a victim of the pain.

It will get worse. It will continue.

It’s overwhelming. It’s too much.

I can get rid of it. I need to get rid of it.

It’s pain. It’s uncomfortable.

What I hope to get out of seeing it as separate is….

Distance. Separation. Control. Able to manage it, get rid of it.

If it’s separate, I can get rid of it. ***

Pain means….

Something is wrong.

Life is unkind. Life is an enemy. I can’t trust life. Life is out to get me.

I am doing something wrong. I am being punished.

Suffering. ***

It will impact my life. I won’t be able to function.

Finding love for myself

 

Towards the end of the most recent episode of Radio Adyashanti, he talks about finding love for oneself, for the hurt and broken parts and the wholeness of who we are as humans. One way to do this is visualizing our hurt parts, the ones feeling unloved and unlovable, as a baby alone in a room, and notice what our natural response is – to pick the baby up and comfort.

It’s similar to shifting into Big Heart and holding parts of ourselves within Big Heart. Praying for these parts of me, visualizing them suffused by divine love and care. Or simply being with the hurt that’s here, as a friend, with kindness and love. Or even notice it already is love.

It’s not always so easy. I find that my habitual response is to retreat and recoil when some of my wounds surface, and there are some beliefs here that recreates this apparently habitual response. (It’s recreated here and now, more than being “habitual”.)

One of these, which I noticed this morning, is that my own love is not enough.

Here are some related ones:

My own love is not enough. It’s not good enough. It’s worth less than the love from others.

The love from others is worth more, is more valuable, is what I need, is what I want.

The love from others is what will heal me. I need his/her love.

People’s love is not worth the same. The love from her is worth more. The love from him is worth less. The love from myself is not worth as much.

The love from beautiful, attractive, smart, popular, successful people is worth more. ***

As with so many of these beliefs, they are held as true at an emotional and less conscious level. It’s easy to skip over them because they are clearly not true according to my conscious view, and yet they are there, perhaps formed very early in life and reinforced – for me – during my time at elementary and middle school. I also find that in writing these lists, the more powerful ones tend to come out after the surface beliefs have been written down.

Congestion

 

Over the last few weeks or months, something new has happened for me. Occasionally, with some days or weeks in between each time, my systems go into what I can best describe as “shut down” mode.  There is a sense of congestion at all levels – physical, emotional and mental – and if I can, I spend the day for myself, drinking water, waiting for it to pass. It feels quite physical, and it seems it may be triggered by dehydration.

As so much, this too shows me what’s left. I have several thoughts brought to the surface when this happens:

I need to understand what’s happening. I need to understand what triggers it.

I should be able to relate to it with more clarity/maturity/love. I should find love for me when it happens.

It’s better to meet it as a friend. (To be with it, allow it it’s life.)

I should be further along. It’s better to be further along.

Others are disappointed in me. Others will judge me. (When I cancel appointments, am not as engaged as I normally am.)

Something is wrong. Something is wrong with my body / mind.

I need it to pass. Another experience is better.

Earlier, what came up had more to do with fatigue. And this one is a bit different. What it reminds me of is some occasional “shut downs” that happened for me in my teens and early twenties, when life didn’t go my way. I know I tried to push it aside at the time and go on stoically with my day, so it’s possible that it’s coming up now to have it’s life and perhaps release and move through.

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Relating to emotions

 

Even with such an apparently simple topic as thought and emotions, there are many layers.

Emotions may be triggered by beliefs, even if these beliefs may appear to held mostly at an emotional level and we don’t consciously believe them.

And then there is how I relate to emotions, and this too comes from beliefs. Emotions just are, they live their life, and that’s more than fine. It’s thoughts that make them appear good or bad, difficult or easy, overwhelming or pleasant, when these thoughts are held as true. Here are some of these beliefs I notice for myself:

Its a bad/unpleasant emotion. I feel worse. I feel better. It’s possible to feel worse / better.

It’s fear. (Anger, sadness, grief etc.)

It reflects reality. (My stories – triggering the emotion, about the emotion- reflect reality.)

It means something terrible has happened / will happen. (Has – sadness, grief; will – fear.)

Its too much / overwhelming. I cannot be with this emotion / experience.

Its easier / better to avoid it. It will be worse if i allow / meet it.

Whats here is not OK. Another experience is better.

This is not God’s will / love. This is not kindness. (This emotion.)

This emotion / experience is not already allowed.

I should be further along. (More clear, mature, healed.)

Through investigating these thoughts, from a specific situation, I may find that the drama, turmoil and unpleasantness is not inherent in the emotion itself, as it appeared at first, but in how it’s met and related to. When thoughts says it’s a bad emotion, or unpleasant, or means something terrible has happened, I create discomfort for myself. And when there is more clarity on these thoughts, the emotion is allowed it’s life, it’s met as a friend, it’s even welcomed, it may be met with love. And in that, there is peace, there is a sense of coming home.

And that – it seems – goes for any experience, including the ones that appear very basic and bodily such as hunger, tiredness, and physical pain.

I am looking forward to this enjoyable state changing

 

I am looking forward to this enjoyable/pleasant state changing.

What thoughts and fears does this bring up in me?

If I look forward to it, it will happen. I won’t feel good if it changes. I need to feel good. If it changes, it means something went wrong. If it changes, I will be unhappy.

Why would it be a good thing for me, others, the world if it changes?

For me: It helps me see what’s left. It’s an invitation to see the next state as God, love too. It invites me to question my thoughts about pleasant/unpleasant. I see myself as anyone else. I get to question my thoughts about states. I may ask others for advice or help.

For others: I will be just like them. They can relax. They may share their wisdom with me, especially if I ask.

For the world: If I question my thoughts about this, I will live from more clarity. I will be an example of living from a bit more clarity.

This is a pleasant state, is it true? This other state is unpleasant, is it true?

Pleasant state: It’s unpleasant because I fear it changing.

Unpleasant state: The state itself is not unpleasant. I create an unpleasant experience for myself by taking my thoughts about it as true (go into resistance, battle).

This simple initial statement is very rich. It shows me thoughts and fears triggered by it. It shows me how it may be a good thing if this state changes. It invites me to question thoughts of pleasant and unpleasant states, and find what’s more true for me.

 

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I-thougths sometimes really about others

 

I-thoughts are sometimes really about what I think others may think, say or do, only internalized so thoroughly I may not notice that’s what’s happening.

There is an I-thought saying I shouldn’t be tired, or I need to be active, I want to be healthy.

If I imagine myself alone in the whole world, would I still have the same thoughts? No, I find I am at peace with myself and the situation. That shows me the thought may really be about others and what I am afraid they will think, say or do.

So what are the thoughts I imagine others may have about me?

I am tired, not healthy, and what I am most afraid others will think, say or do is….

They will think I am lazy. They will think I am weak.

They will talk about my behind my back.

They will pity me. They will shun me. They will abandon me.

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Statements on noisy people

 

I have felt disturbed by people making noise since childhood – turning the newspaper, walking heavily, slamming doors, talking loudly on the train, loud music etc. And when I look at specific situations, I see that my underlying thoughts revolve around a common theme:

He/she….

Has inner tension. Is frantic. Is internally out of control. Is unable to deal with the inner tension.

Will explode. Will blame me for it. Will go out of control.

Will infect me. (With his/her franticness, tension.) Will disturb my peace. Will get me out of balance.

Takes my peace away from me.

Statements for inquiry: People walking heavily means

 

Situation: Someone walking heavily on their heels, stomping.

People walking heavily on their heels – during quiet hours – means….

She is unconscious. She is caught in thought. She has inner tension. She is frantic.

She doesn’t know how to relate to her inner tension. She may explode.

The worst that can happen if people walk heavily on their heels is….

I will lose my peace. He disturbs my peace. He takes my peace away from me.

His inner tension will make me go into inner tension. His franticness will infect me.

I will be annoyed. He makes me annoyed. He makes me uncomfortable.

Statements for inquiry

 

Some basic and common beliefs for me:

It’s a dark night. It’s chronic fatigue. It’s trauma. It’s a wound. It’s suffering.

It’s a body. It’s a belief. It’s a thought. It’s an emotion. It’s pain. It’s discomfort.

Life is better than death. Health is better than illness. More money is better.

I would be more happy if my body was more healthy. I would be more happy with more money.

Life is too complicated.

I should be further along by now. I should be more mature. I should know better.

Other people are further along. Others are more mature. Others know better.

This is not love. This is not God. (Whatever it may be…. what thoughts label illness, death, suffering.)

My will is better than God’s will. I know what’s better for me, others, the world. God’s will cannot be trusted. (God’s will = what is.)

With each of these, I can find a specific situation where I had that thought, and do inquiry from there.

Fear before a session

 

I often notice fear one or two hours before my sessions with Barry, and I see my mind trying to find an excuse to cancel. I haven’t so far, and have always been very grateful for the sessions. They tend to go deep and bring resolution, or at least bring up something that I can work on to find clarity and a sense of (relative) resolution.

Right now, I notice a similar fear coming up around going to The School with Byron Katie in Los Angeles in October. I am not quite sure what it’s about, but it may be a similar dynamic. It feels right to go, and will probably be very grateful if I go.

What is this fear about? What’s the story behind this fear?

What I fear the most about a session with Barry is….

It will be uncomfortable. I will have to face something uncomfortable.

It will bring changes to my life. It will lead to uncomfortable changes in my life.

It will require too much of me. I am not up to the task. (Of bringing it into life, live from it.)

What I fear the most about The School is….

I won’t be able to do my job well. (As staff.) They will judge me. I will make a fool of myself.

I will see something I don’t want to see. I will have to face beliefs I don’t want to face.

It will require big changes in my life. It will require uncomfortable changes in my life.

I won’t be able to bring it into life/live it. I will be paralyzed by fear/beliefs when I try to live it.

I am not up to the task.

Situations: I need them to see me as OK

 

I need them to see me as OK. 

(Who I am, my interests, insights.)

Situations

This is a list of situations where I had that or similar thoughts – I need them to see me as OK.

I plan to write Judge Your Neighbor worksheets on one or more of these situations, and take the thoughts to inquiry.  

(a) In elementary school, when I raised my hand to answer the teacher and some other students gave me “the look”.

(b) With childhood friends, suggesting something for us to do, the others dismissing it, someone else suggesting the same a few minutes later, and everyone thinking it was a great idea. (Dismissing it just because I said it.)

(c) During the initial opening/awakening in my mid-teens, when what was revealed to me was the “perennial wisdom”, and if I mentioned it, people thought I had read it in a book, thought it was some abstract philosophy, or dismissed it for another reason.

(d) The teachers and students at the Zen center who dismissed my interest in Ken Wilber’s writings, and then some years later thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. (After I had left.)

(e) Saniel Bonder who dismissed it when I shared my experiences with the Zen center, and later became buddies with the main teacher and thought his approach was great.

(f) The main teacher at CSS who seemed to assume I had no experience or insight with anything having to do with spirituality, while just about everything he said or the group explored was already very familiar to me from my own experience and explorations.

(g) The people in the practice group at CSS who – when I took the conversation one or two steps further, or explored the turnaround of what they were talking about – treated me as if I didn’t even get the basics of the first step of what they were talking about. (Which I had explored many years earlier, and didn’t find so interesting anymore.)

(h) Some of the teachers at CSS dismissing it when I question the importance of the connections between quantum physics and spirituality. They seem to think it’s very important to explore and elaborate on those connections, while the same insights can be found through inquiry into our everyday situations and experiences, including what’s here now for each of us. Why make it look more esoteric, removed or abstract than it needs to be? (Also, they didn’t seem to acknowledge that I had explored those connections in depth in my teens and early twenties, reading everything I could find on the topic, and moved on from it after some years.)

(i) Anytime a teacher or group seem to think they “get it” and others don’t, or where senior folks think they “get it” while newer folks don’t (even if they have as much or more experience). Btw: That’s partly why I am drawn to teachers, groups and approaches where it’s clear that everyone are equal in their access to insights, clarity and wisdom. The Work, the Big Mind Process, and Headless experiments are good examples of this.

(j) In my mind, when I think of people now ignoring/dismissing and in the future agreeing on sustainability (partnership and solution oriented) as a top priority, equal respect for humans and non-human animals, the universe story as our shared origin story/mythology, an economical system aligned with ecological realities, the importance of practicing a stable attention/exploring a different relationship with thought etc.

In general: People dismissing my interests and/or insights, especially when they later come upon the same and think it’s the best thing ever.

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Wanting to know about the future

 

In my late teens and early twenties, I found myself exploring astrology, palmistry, and speaking with some psychics. Mostly, I saw it as part of a well rounded education – along with learning about art, history, literature, science and so on. And partly, I had a thought that it would be helpful – or perhaps comforting – to know something about my future.

Knowing about the future

In a conventional view, it’s clear that I cannot know anything for certain about the future. An astrologer, palmistry person or psychic may tell me something, and I cannot know whether it will happen or not. In my experience, something similar has happened a few times, and has not happened other times.

The same is true when my experience tells me something about the future. I may expect someone to smile back when I smile to that person, and it may happen or not. I may expect to wake up tomorrow morning, and it may happen or not.

And the same it even true for science. I may have experienced a book consistently falling to the ground when I drop it, and science may tell me it will because of gravity, and yet, I cannot know it will happen next time I try. It may, and – if I am honest – I see it also may not.

Everything – in my mind – may point to something happening, and it may or may not actually happen. Even when something happens that’s similar to my earlier images, it’s never the same. When I look closer, I see that what happened was something entirely different (mainly because as it happens it’s not an image).

Assumptions

I also see that a desire to know about the future may rest on a series of assumptions:

I need to know about the future. It’s better to know about the future. It’s comforting to know what will happen.

I can know about the future. I can know for certain about the future. I know [….] will happen.

I know what’s good and bad. Some things that may happen (make a list here!) are good, and other things (another list!) is bad.

There is a future. Time exists. Future exists.

I need to know what will happen because…. It will make me safer. I will feel better. I can prepare for it. I can change it.

Taking images of the future as true

And I notice how painful it is to take ideas about the future as true, whether these images point to something I tell myself is desirable or undesirable.

When I have images of something I see as desirable, I may try to manipulate situations to make it happen. I experience stress because it may not happen. I may even become a bit complacent assuming it will happen no matter what.

When I have images of something I see as undesirable, I try to manipulate situations so it won’t happen. I experience fear and stress thinking about it.

In either case, if I take my images of what may or will happen as true, I tend to live as if it will be true, and it may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

A kind universe

Taking a closer look at this, I see that the universe is kind. I cannot know anything for certain about the future, and that’s very liberating. And I usually don’t have access to information about the future, apart from what experience and science tells me, and that’s also kind.

Scenarios

That said, it’s often helpful to explore scenarios. It’s one of the gifts of imagination and thoughts. I can imagine different scenarios about the future, decide which ones seem desirable and which one don’t, and aim for one and not other ones. In that sense, images of the future – independent of their origin – may be very helpful, especially if I recognize them as simply images, innocent questions about the world.

Vacuum

 

I woke up this morning with an experience of an all-encompassing void or vacuum. And although was already here and impossible to avoid, I still tried to avoid the vacuum. I got up and distracted myself. The vacuum brought up several fears:

About the vacuum: I want it to go away. It shouldn’t be here.

About me in relation to it: (a) It’s easier to avoid it. It’s more comfortable to avoid it. (b) I should be further along. I should be able to fully feel it, go into it. It’s better to open to it. Others are further along.

About what it means: It means something is wrong. I won’t function. I will be passive. I won’t be able to take care of myself.

What it reminds me of: I used to have passion, energy. It’s better to have passion/energy.

It’s not OK, is it true?

 

When I tell myself I don’t feel so good, it can be a comfort knowing it will change. It has always changed in the past, and probably will again, even if it may be difficult to imagine it in the situation.

And when I tell myself I feel good, it can be equally comforting to think it won’t change. To imagine it will stay that way, or avoid the thought that it may change.

How is it to look at the reversals?

When I tell myself I don’t feel so good, can I find peace with it as it is, even if it wouldn’t change? Is it true I need it to change? Is it true it’s not OK as it is? In what way is it the best – for me, others, the world – that this experience is here?

And when I tell myself I feel good, can I find peace with the thought that it may change? Can I find where I am willing for it to change? Where I look forward to it changing? In what way would it be the best – for me, others, the world – if it changed?

Even more simply:

This is a good experience, is it true? What do I find when I investigate that thought?

I don’t feel so good, is it true? What do I find when I explore that thought?

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JYN on the raid

 

Friday, I did a session with Barry that – for the first time – went back to images from another life. A woman lost her husband and children in a raid by foreign men, and went into deep despair. I wrote a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet from her perspective, and this is it. It’s quite different from my usual ones, and it feels good to explore these thoughts and emotions that many around the world have experienced and do experience, especially those in a war situation or those exposed to a violent crime. I also notice I feel a bit self-conscious posting it, so that’s a good reason to do it – to see what thoughts come up for me.

Situation: A woman who lost her husband and children in a raid by a group of men, early medieval times.

1. I am angry at the men because they killed my husband, my children, they humiliated me, they ruined my life.

2. I want the men to die, to know how much I suffer, to understand how much I suffer, to suffer as much as I do.

3. The men should feel my suffering, turn around, regret what they did, make it good again, bring them back to life, bring back my life.

4. I need the men to know how much I suffer, to turn around, to make it good again.

5. The men are evil, brutal, heartless, ignorant, don’t deserve to live.

6. I don’t ever want to experience this pain again, to experience my loved ones being killed, to be humiliated, to have my life ruined.

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Speaking the truth, losing control

 

I listened to a talk by Adyashanti where he talked about speaking the truth, and losing control.

Of course, what’s really lost are some (imagined) means of control, and the illusion of control.

As long as I believe I need something from someone else (their love, approval, acceptance etc.), I will try to manipulate them. I try to be nice. I try to be the person I think they want me to be. I may tell half-truths. Through this, I get a sense of control. I imagine I am able to control the situation and the other person through appearing a certain way, behaving a certain way, saying certain things and leaving out the rest.

I monitor where I think the other is at, and say or do something – unconstrained by what’s true for me – to influence them to say or do what I want them to say or do. Not constrained by what’s true for me, I have a larger set of options in how to respond. I have more ways of influencing and manipulating the other person.

Most of these manipulations are what I tell myself are small white lies in what I say and do in everyday life, often – I tell myself – to avoid hurting someone or creating an awkward situation. And I notice that these too, are painful.

When I tell the truth, the ordinary human truth as it is for me in this situation, I lose this wider set of options. What’s left is simply what’s true for me here and now. It’s very simple, very honest, very real. I put it out there, and it’s up to the other person how he/she responds.

To explore my thoughts around this, it’s helpful to take one thought at a time (from a set of thoughts, a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet) in one particular situation, inquire into it, and see what I find.

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Complaining

 

I saw an article on brain changes in folks who listen to complaints, so thought I would explore it a bit here.

Own complaints

When I complain, I usually do it intentionally and to people who have The Work. I may ask them to make a note of beliefs they notice, or also write them down myself. I sometimes also complain to non-TW folks, usually briefly, and make a mental note of the beliefs that come up.

My own complaints are a gift. They show me what’s left. They show me which thoughts I still – innocently – take as true.

Other’s complaints

When I tell myself someone else complains, I again get to see what’s left for me.

I get to see my own beliefs about them, about me in relation to them, and about the stories they share with me.

If I believe these thoughts, I’ll experience stress. (And, as the article points out, this is inevitably reflected in my body, including my brain function and structure.)

As I find more clarity on these stories, I am more free to act with kindness and wisdom, and it’s stress free. I may chose to listen, perhaps with genuine gratitude and appreciation for this person sharing his or her life with me. I may use it as an opportunity for identifying own beliefs and inquire into them. I may chose to respond, perhaps asking what I can do that would feel good or help (and I am free to say yes or no to whatever they suggest). I may choose to leave. And to the extent I am clear on my own stories, it’s stress free and kind.

What the articles points out, and a slightly fuller picture

So the article does point out something important: Listening to complaints influences the brain, sometimes.

What it leaves out is equally important: When I tell myself someone is complaining, and I believe my own stories about it, it creates stress, and this is reflected in my body. I do it to myself through taking my own stories as true. And, I assume, the effects are the same whether I listen to my own complaints or someone else’s. Also, as I find clarity to my own thoughts, it’s stress free. (And that too is reflected in my life. In how I live my life, and in my view, emotions, and body – including brain function and structure.)

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Book: The Journey

 

I was taking a course with a spiritual teacher when, during a question and answer session, one of the students asked, ‘What do I do if an intense emotion comes up for me – how do I find the peace in that?’

She answered, ‘Just don’t move. Let yourself be completely present to the emotion. Welcome it. If a negative emotion arises, don’t run away from it; don’t run off to the refrigerator to eat some food to cover it up; don’t turn on the television to distract yourself from it; don’t call your friends to disperse its energy by gossiping about it. Just stop and feel it. Just let yourself be present to it. You’ll find if you don’t try to distract yourself from it, or push it away or, worse still, dump it on someone else; if you stay still, if you are really present to it – in the very core of the feeling you will find peace. So when you feel a powerful emotion, just let it be – DON’T MOVE. Welcome it.
– from The Journey by Brandon Bays

I looked at this book yesterday as it is about one of many practical approaches to allow, welcome and be with what’s here.

She describes a process of meeting whatever painful emotions are here, staying with it, allow it to transform (new layers emerge), until it all drops into the void.

It’s what I find happens naturally during meditation, and it’s also something I explore in everyday life through different forms of inquiry.

Skimming through her book, I noticed – or imagine – a few beliefs she may have: If I live a healthy life, I won’t get sick. People will judge me as a failure if use conventional medicine. Illness means something is wrong. Disease is terrible. Older people won’t get it. British people are reserved. (Age/nationality stereotypes.) And even if I don’t recognize these beliefs in an obvious way in myself, it can still be helpful to inquire into these and see what I find.

I also noticed a few beliefs for myself: She thinks her insights are special. It’s an universal insight. It’s too simple (to talk about). It’s too obvious (to make a big deal out of). 

Why is it a good thing it’s presented in this way? Why is it a good thing a very helpful process is presented in this packaging? She may reach a different audience than others presenting similar pointers. Some may share her beliefs (about health etc.), feel a kinship and see her as one of them, and be attracted to explore something they otherwise wouldn’t. For instance, Christians or non-Buddhists may not be exposed/attracted to Buddhist teachers pointing to the same.

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Resistance to incarnation

 

As a child, I had “flashbacks” from before incarnation. I would be out in the sunshine, see the sun filtered through leaves, a remember how it was before I was incarnated. Infinite love, complete sense of being home, a presence of and communication with other “beings”, and all formless golden light.

I write “beings” in quotation marks since it’s all a seamless field of love, and yet with individual presences within it. And when I write love it’s the same as awareness, God, Brahman, Buddha Mind, Big Mind/Heart etc.

Another image – or memory? – is of a presence of eight-twelve infinitely wise and loving beings, a knowing that it’s time for me to incarnate, and not wanting to at all. I knew it was the right time to incarnate, right for me and the world, and yet there was a deep resistance to it. It triggered deep fears and beliefs, and a sense of being a victim of circumstances.

Here are some of my beliefs, uncensored:

God is pushing me into something that will be my ruin. God is pushing me. It will be my ruin.

God is making me a victim. I am a victim.

God is heartless, crazy, misguided, mistaken, hateful.

God should help me remember. God shouldn’t allow me to forget.

I also find situations in early childhood where I have these thoughts about one or both of my parents. It’s doesn’t really matter if these thoughts first came up with my parents, and then got put on God, or the other way around. I can still do inquiry on these type of thoughts in both types of situations.

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Shame as a guardian

 

For some losses during the “dark night” phase, I notice shame is a guardian of the treasure.

I have beliefs about what happened, these create shame, and this shame sometimes prevents me from more wholeheartedly (a) open to the experience, and (b) identify and inquire into the beliefs around it. It’s also why I have only written about it in very general ways here, and avoided talking about it with most (not all) people in my life.

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Dream: Old car

 

I am looking at an old car participating in a race. It’s from the early 1900s, may be a bit modified, and runs on coal. The assistant leaves, and the driver encourages me to take over for the rest of the race. I agree, and discover there are only a few lumps of coal left in addition to a portion of smaller wood pieces. It’s enough to keep us going, but not as fast as if we had coal. We stop by a large and old stone building where there is a large group of people I have a connection with, and I ask if any of them have coal. Several go off to get some. We proceed with the race before they have returned.

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Dark night inquiry

 

Why is the dark night the best for me, others, the world? 

For me

It helps me see what’s left.

It helps me see my wants, shoulds, needs – how I take (some of) them as true.

It’s an invitation for more of me to align with reality – through and through.

It’s an invitation to find comfort with all as guests – experiences, states, circumstances.

It helps me find comfort with this in myself, and so also in others. (Distress, loss.)

For others

I may be easier to be around, having looked at more of my beliefs.

I have more understanding for people in different situations.

(I judge them less, because I have been there.)

I find myself more as anyone else.

For the world

I have experiences and insights from this that may be helpful for the world.

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The dream of the ego II

 

I keep returning to what Adyashanti calls the dream of the ego.

In short, it’s the thought life should be exactly as I want, always.

Most of us wouldn’t say it out loud, of course, and we may even shy away from thinking it consciously, because it does seem a bit silly. And yet, when I look at it for myself, I find this one behind most or all of my beliefs.

The underlying assumption is that if life is exactly as I want, I’d be happy always. If I go to heaven, if I reach enlightenment, if I have a nice (car, house, spouse, career), if I have 72 virgins after death, if I find Nirvana, if I go to Valhalla, then I’ll be perfectly happy and content, forever.

It may be helpful, to some extent, to inquire into these general thoughts. And I find it even more helpful to investigate this through inquiring into a specific thought in a specific situation. It makes it more real. More finely grained. It helps what I find sink in.

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JYN: Alone in a crib in a dark room

 

Situation: Alone in a crib in a dark room. Infancy.

1. I am afraid because my mother abandoned me, she doesn’t love me, she is not there for me.

2. I want my mother to come and get me, let me stay with them, hold me, comfort me.

3. My mother should love me, be with me, make me comfortable, make me feel safe, make me feel secure, make me feel loved. My mother shouldn’t abandon me.

4. I need my mother to be with me, love me, care for me, be there for me.

5. My mother is absent, unloving, misguided, distracted.

6. I don’t ever want to experience being left alone again.

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JYN: My father turns the newspaper pages with inner tension

 

Situation: My father turning the newspaper pages with tension (inner struggle). I am a little boy.

1. I am frustrated with my father because he turns the newspaper pages harshly and loudly.

2. I want my father to live with ease, to resolve his inner tension, to be kind and clear, to be whole and in integrity.

3. He should say what he feels and wants to us (his family), he should not compromise on his needs.

4. I need him to take care of himself, be clear and mature, tell my mother what he feels and wants.

5. He is tense, in inner struggle, unable to express what he feels and wants, explosive.

6. I don’t ever want my father to turn the pages harshly and loudly again, to live with inner struggle without resolving it, to explode.

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Peace and noise

 

This is again something very simple I keep noticing.

When I experience peace, I am perfectly happy with silence around me – just enjoying the sounds of the wind or rain, or people in the distance.

And when there is more inner turmoil, it’s easy to be drawn to creating “noise” around me as a distraction – often music.

So inner peace is often reflected in silence. And inner turmoil in sound.

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Evolution and inquiry

 

I often have an evolutionary perspective in the back of my mind when I explore something in my own life or on this blog, and yet don’t mention it so often.

So what are some of the connection between evolution and inquiry?

One basic connection is how evolution sets us with certain impulses and inclinations, and these may be supported by or clash with beliefs.

For instance, we have an innate impulse to survive and reproduce, which may be joined or supported by beliefs such as: I need to survive. It’s terrible to die young. I need a partner. I need sex. I need to have children. I need food. 

Some beliefs that may clash with our biological impulses or inclinations: I should eat less sugar. I shouldn’t be addicted. 

Many or most of these are beliefs held by our parents, teachers, friends and so on. They are in our culture, they are transmitted to us, and there are social dynamics at work to encourage us to adopt them (shame, guilt, pride, ridicule, rejection, acceptance, admiration), which means that many of these beliefs are really about others. For instance, if I am fat/unfit, people will judge me.

And then there are more basic beliefs: I am this body. It’s my body. It’s my thoughts. It’s my experience. It’s a body. It’s a thought. It’s an experience. It’s life. It’s death. It’s an impulse. It’s a drive. It’s from evolution. 

Inquiry as meditation

 

I had stress around inquiry as meditation come up for me this morning. I notice The Work works when I use it as meditation, and also that I often don’t.

Some of my thoughts:

I am not doing it right. I am wasting my time. Others know how to do it. I am not up to the task. I am too scatter-brained. I avoid opening to reality/truth. I don’t trust reality/truth. I am not going deep enough. I will stay on the surface. I am just going through the motions. I will continue to stay in confusion.

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Trying to live up to an image of teacher or therapist

 

I sometimes imagine that a spiritual teacher is trying to live up to an image of what he or she thinks is expected of a teacher. And I had the same thought about the psychotherapist I went to in Oslo last summer as part of the TRE certification. Of course, the thought equally well applies to me, and it’s all happening within my own world of images.

What thoughts do I have about V.G., a spiritual teacher in Oslo?

She is trying to live up to an image she has about the teacher role.

She is misguided. She hasn’t questioned her thoughts about this.

She is doing her students a disservice. She is not very skillful.

She tries to follow tradition, while something else is more appropriate today.

She tries to create an artificial separation between her as a teacher and others as students. She is patronizing.

Her approach is not helpful to me. Others do it better. (Byron Katie, Adyashanti, Bonnie G., Barry.)

She is preachy and moralizing. It would be better if she invites to inquiry. She is using a sledge hammer instead of surgery.

And about B.A., the psychotherapist who is also a TRE trainer?

She thinks it’s helpful to reify (solidify, take as true) my stories.

She thinks she is a good therapist by reifying my stories. She thinks she takes me seriously by reifying my stories.

She is mistakes reifying my stories with taking my experience seriously. (She thinks she has to reify to take my experience seriously.)

She is misguided. She is provincial.