Inquiry, feeling, and rewiring

 

When I do inquiry these days, I notice how I am drawn to feeling what surfaces. Taking time to feel the yes or no to the two first questions, the specifics of how I live my life when I believe the thoughts, how I would be and live my life without the thoughts, and the truth in the turnarounds. Taking time to let it sink in, work on me, allowing this body-mind to reorganize and realign. Allowing time for this brain and nervous system to rewire.

I do this during inquiry, and sometimes afterwards – revisiting the questions and what surfaces, staying with it.

And I do it when I notice a shift into loving what is, or noticing what is as love, or being what is. When I notice this and remember, I take time to feel it, let it sink in, allowing it to work on and realign this body-mind.

Other people’s business?

 

Quite often, turnarounds in The Work refer to someone else.

I need her to support me. TA: She needs me to support her.

I should be there for my child. TA: My child should be there for me. 

And sometimes, people doing inquiry will say it’s their business and won’t go there to find examples of how it may be as or more true than the initial statement.

I understand where they are coming from. And yet, something else is more true for me.

It’s all about me. It’s all happening within my own world of images. And when I take time to find genuine examples of how the turnaround is true for me, whether it appears to be about me or someone else, I am enlightening myself to my own world of images.

If I believe the thought it’s their business, I stop myself from that enlightenment. And if I inquiry into that thought – it’s their business – I may find it’s really all about me. My thoughts – about me, them, the world, God – are all my business. My investigation of those thoughts are my business.

I see something else here. If I believe my thoughts about them are really about them, then it appears I am in their business if I explore some of these turnarounds, for instance my child should be there for me. It makes sense then to tell myself it’s their business and I won’t go there. And if I find more clarity on this, I see it’s all happening within my own world of images, it’s all about me, and I want to explore these turnarounds so I can enlighten myself to my own world of images. It’s what’s kind to me, to others, and the world.

And is my own world of images really my business? Yes, I can find how that’s true. It’s my responsibility to investigate and enlighten myself to what’s going on there. Nobody else can do it.

And I also find something else. It’s all God’s business, life’s business. I didn’t ask to have this life. I didn’t ask to have these thoughts. I didn’t ask for this world of images. It’s just there. It’s happening. It’s living it’s own life.

A world of images. Taking them as true or not. Identifying as them or not. The appearance of an I and me having these thoughts, living a life in a world. The appearance of beings, a world, thoughts, identification. It’s all happening on it’s own, living it’s own life. It’s all life’s business.

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The underworld gives meaning to a thought

 

At The School in LA last week, Katie mentioned that the underworld is what gives meaning to a thought.

That’s what I have found as well.

There is an image of a cat in my mind. In itself it’s just an image, and perhaps not even that.

Then, there are underlying thoughts and assumptions that gives meaning to this image. A cat is fluffy, warm, sits on my lap, gives pleasure. There are images of past experiences with cats. I see myself as someone who likes cats, and someone liked by cats. I think they are mammals, beings, a facet of Spirit as anything else. I think they live 15-20 years or so, like to eat mice and birds. I think people treating cats unkindly are wrong, bad, hurt, caught up in their own hurt and take it out on cats. I feel sorry for mistreated cats. I see images of cats soaking up the warmth from the sun, drinking water, purring, having kittens.

All of these images give meaning to the initial image of a cat. They are all there, activated to some extent as soon as there is an image of a cat in my mind. Sometimes, I am aware of some of these images. And most of the time, they are just there in the background, activated by the initial cat image, providing to vague images, creating a general atmosphere, offering associations, bringing bout feelings, giving me a sense that I like cats and like to be with them.

So all the meaning that cats have for me – everything I associate with them, feel about them, and expect from a cat – is from my own world of images. It’s from, in the words of Byron Katie, the underworld. There is an image of a cat in my world of images, and it’s underworld is this world of images in my mind associated with my image of a cat.

And that’s how it is with any thought. In itself it’s just a nonverbal thought – AKA image – or a verbal thought. And it’s giving meaning through its associated images and thoughts.

And in inquiry, I can investigate all of these, all the way from the apparently surface and peripheral ones to the very basic ones.

Identifying what I and myself refers to in inquiry

 

I have started a tutoring cycle as part of being certified in The Work, and it has already helped me do inquiry with more precision. For instance, if I work on a statement such as I will turn against myself, it’s helpful to identify what the I refers to and what myself refers to – and notice that it may change for each turnaround and example.

Statement: I will turn against myself. 

Situation: In the future, if I don’t have much money.

Clarifying: I – my thinking, judgmental and critical thoughts taken as true. Myself – an image of me, the part trying to do its best. Also, the image that comes up for the judgmental and critical thoughts are of my mother criticizing others behind their backs, and school mates doing the same during elementary and middle school.

TA to self: My thinking will turn against my thinking.

(a) Thoughts (judging, criticizing) turns against an image of me.

(b) The part that’s judging, criticizing turns against the part trying to do its best.

(c) The voice of my mother, some school mates, criticizes an image of me, the one trying to do its best, the little child.

TA to opposite: I will not turn against myself.

(a) My thoughts will not turn against myself, my image of who I am.

(b) I, the one without the stories, will not turn against myself, my images of me.

TA to opposite: I will turn towards myself.

(a) I, my attention, will turn towards myself, the one without the stories.

TA to other: P. will turn against my thinking.

(a) Thoughts (judging, criticizing) turns against my thoughts (having little money).

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Confusion, fear, anger as love

 

In what way is confusion, fear, anger etc. love?

(a) It’s a sign that a thought is taken as true. It’s an invitation to look again, to find what’s more true than the initial thought. This sign is love.

(b) It’s confused love. Believing the thought creating confusion, fear, anger etc. is confused love. It’s an attempt to find what we (think we) want or need – security, love etc.

(c) It’s made up of love. It’s the substance of love. (i) When I look, I see it’s all happening within and as awareness (love). (ii) Through the Big Mind process, I find it’s all Big Heart. (iii) If all is God/love, then isn’t this too – confusion, fear, anger – love?

And as usual, the really helpful explorations are detailed and on what’s here now, or – in the case of The Work – on a specific thought in a specific situation. That’s where this comes alive, where it sinks in. Where it’s seen in some detail, with real, simple, and specific examples, inviting in feeling it as love, love for it as love, and living it as love.

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Exploring the little things

 

I enjoy exploring the apparently little things. It may be a minor annoyance, a small physical pain, slight tiredness, or a quietly nagging sense of discomfort.

What are some of the benefits of exploring the little things?

When I explore an apparently small thing, I get to….

Explore the label minor and major. Is it true it’s minor? Is it true this other situation is major?

Explore it in relative peace, free from the drama and turmoil that’s sometimes here around situations I see as major.

Identify and investigate thoughts I put on this minor situation, and see that I may put the same thoughts on other situations as well, including the ones I see as major. When I take a thought as true, I put it on any situation, whether thoughts label it minor or major, and the dynamics are similar or the same.

Invite in a shift in how I relate to it, which may shift how I relate to other people, states or situations in my life.

Become more familiar with the process, deepen the groove of relating to it in a different way. This may make it easier when minor and major things come up in the future.

Explore what’s here now, no matter what it is, free from thinking I need to wait for something major to appear.

And what are some of the ways I can explore these little things?

I can….

Inquire into my stressful thoughts about it, and find what’s more true for me than the initial thought.

Explore it through the sense fields. What’s there in sensation, in sight, in taste, in smell, in sound? What’s there in the mental field, in the form of images, thoughts? How is it when these images and thoughts are taken as “real” and solid, representing reality? How is it to differentiate the mental sense field from the others, and see images and thoughts as mental field activities?

Pray for my “enemies” – whether it’s a person, a state or a situation, which includes shifting into well wishing for it, as it is, and recognizing it as already God, Spirit, awareness, love.

Do tonglen or ho’o on the person, state or situation, including myself.

Confess to myself, and perhaps another, about what’s happening for me around this.

Shake (neurogenic tremors, TRE) with the situation in mind.

And in each of these cases, I can be open to whatever images or memories come up. For instance, what are some of the early situations where I remember having the same stressful thought?

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This is not God, is it true?

 

The truth is that until we love cancer, we can’t love God. It doesn’t matter what symbols we use—poverty, loneliness, loss—it’s the concepts of good and bad that we attach to them that make us suffer.
– Byron Katie

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
– Matthew 5:43-44

Anything thoughts tell me is wrong, bad, not God, becomes an enemy for me, in my mind, when those thoughts are taken as true.

It’s uncomfortable, painful, it’s how I create suffering for myself.

So what can I do? Here are a few approaches I find interesting and helpful: Prayer for he/she/it, ho’o, tonglen, The Work, sense field explorations, the Big Mind Process, Headless experiments, and more. And all are supported by inviting in a more stable attention, perhaps by bringing attention to the breath, or through body-centered practices such as yoga, tai chi, chi gong, or Breema.

All of this helps me shift into finding genuine love for he/she/it, and it may even help me notice it’s already love. It never was anything but love.

And I do it for my own sake. It’s a relief. I function from more clarity. I function from more kindness. There is a sense of coming home.

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The rest of the iceberg

 

From the outside, The Work may seem like a play with thoughts at the thought level only.

And yet, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What’s really happening – and more and more as we get familiar with the process – is an inquiry at much deeper levels. At the levels of images, wordless thoughts. At the level of emotions. At an energetic or physical level. And noticed and lived in daily life.

What I find is that a thought may be seen as not true at a conscious level, yet it’s held as true in other ways. It may be recognized as not true in a conscious and general way. And it may not have been explored in a more finely grained way, through a thorough inquiry. It may still be held as true at an emotional level. I may still, to some extent, live as if it’s true. And that’s where a more thorough inquiry can be very helpful, used as meditation, and taken into and lived over time in daily life.

The tip of the iceberg may be thoughts in a conventional sense. These thoughts are used to point to a deeper inquiry, and reflect back what’s seen, felt and noticed. And the rest of the iceberg is wordless. It’s wordless thoughts in the form of images. It’s wordless emotions, energies, and changes in the body, reflecting beliefs or clarity on the same thoughts. And it’s a life lived as if a thought is taken as true or seen more clearly.

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Creative turnarounds

 

I know that kt would probably not like the fact that I mess with the turnarounds, but I found that The Work works better for me when I get a little creative ^^ and so I was working the one-liner a moment ago: I am not good enough. Is it true? Yes. I am not good enough. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? No. How do you react, what happens when you think, I am not good enough? I feel terrified. Who would you be without your story, I am not good enough? Confident. Turn the thought around? And the turnaround that actually came up for me was this: I’m not good enough, turned around? —> I am Source. And then I asked, where are you Source??? And then I came to the realization that of course it’s not true that I am not good enough, who I am is God, Truth, Love, Source, Power… whatever you want to call it, and Source is more than good enough, bigger than we can even humanly imagine… And I feel very happy now and I will get on with my work and go through my day, with the realization that I am so much bigger than my story and my Ego and my identity… I am Source (Love)!!! 😀
– JBP

This topic sometimes comes up in The Work circles. Here is what came up for me:

?:) I sometimes do a variation on this. I do the usual TAs to self, other, opposite and see what I find, then if I notice a “creative” turnaround, I find the initial statement (in this case, perhaps “I am not source”) and do the 4 Qs and the TAs on that one. That way, I get to follow the guidelines *and* be creative.

As so often, it’s not necessarily either/or, it can also be both/and. I finish my initial inquiry following the simple guidelines, because they are there for a reason. I may find something I hadn’t seen before. And I make a note of the “creative” turnaround (TA) that came to mind, find the original statement, and do inquiry on that one. If I want, I can make it into a mini-inquiry, and focus on the TAs. That way, I get the benefit of following the guidelines, and I get to follow the “creative” impulse of the mind and see what’s there.

Tantrum to get my way

 

Some recent inquiries have shown me – again – how I go into suffering to tell God and the world I am suffering, that something is wrong, and I hope it will bring God/others to agree and make it better. It’s a tantrum, as Byron Katie points out, and I act as I may have done when I was three years old and used tantrums to get my way. It may have worked back then. How is it working for me now? It’s all innocence. It’s confused love. And I get to see it through inquiry, and also some of the beliefs behind it.

Spiritual bypassing etc.

 

We will be looking at ‘spiritual bypassing,’ the detour we take into the transcendent to escape from the old personal heavy stuff.  It happens so fast, but is it inescapable?  Liberation is so tempting and compelling — it’s the biggest and highest promise of perfection we can strive for.

What happens when we have a kensho, or opening experience?  Does the ego freeze and stay stuck at the stage of development in which the realization happened?  Does the ego still exist, and if so how does it manifest?  What does it mean to be awakened?

This is from an invitation to an upcoming event with Genpo Roshi and Ken Wilber. It’s interesting for me to notice that I am not drawn so much to these questions anymore. I also see an irony here. During my time at Genpo Roshi’s Zen center, I was an avid reader and student of Ken Wilber, as the only person (as far as I know) there. I was even discouraged to read him by some of the senior students. At the time, this would have been my ideal type of event. Now, I would probably have attended if it was very convenient, but not otherwise. As they say, we get what we ask for, and not always in the way or in the timing we expected.

I imagine some thoughts behind this text. None of these seem so true for me anymore, and I would also like to find more clarity on them:

Liberation is better. I need to find liberation.

Perfection is somewhere else. It’s better to find perfection. It’s possible to find perfection. I know what perfection is. This – what’s here – is not perfect.

Bypassing is wrong. It’s better to not bypass.

What’s here is not OK.

Also, I see they seem to use the word “ego” in two different ways, without differentiating. The “ego” that can mature and develop is the psychological ego, the operating system for this human self, and that stays as long as the human self is around, independent on whether there is confusion or clarity on what we are. The other “ego” is the one referred to in a spiritual context, and is what happens when a thought is taken as true. I assume they’ll talk about both.

I am also reminded that any tool for exploration can be used to explore both who and what we are, or one or the other. It’s all about intention.

For instance, basic meditation – just sitting, shikantaza – can be used with the intention of identifying with/as awareness, and release identification out of the human (transcendence). It can equally well be used to fully embrace all of it, to honestly see what’s here, to notice it’s all already allowed, it’s all already Spirit, notice it’s all included – including conventional views. It can be used to allow stuffed emotions their life, to notice and inquire into beliefs, and so on.

What I find most helpful here – not surprisingly – is The Work. I notice discomfort, tension or unease, identify the fear or belief behind this discomfort, and inquire into it. This helps me find more clarity on my life in the world, on my aims for any form of exploration (including what’s reflected in this blog), and how I use different tools for exploration.

For instance, if I think liberation is better, or I need to find liberation, it’s inevitably stressful and it makes my approach to life and Spirituality a bit strained. As I find more clarity on these thoughts, I’ll probably still be drawn to meditation, prayer, inquiry etc., and it will happen in a more relaxed and even focused way. I am less distracted by my initial beliefs and the discomfort I created for myself through them.

It’s interesting how reading each belief in the list above feels instantly painful to me. I remember how it is to believe those thoughts, and they can still be investigated further.

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Vulnerability

 

Being vulnerable means you can no longer be manipulated for there is no place for criticism (anything) to stick. This is freedom.
– Byron Katie

This quote was used in on of the telecourses in The Work I attended this summer.

Here is my initial response on the course forum:

I notice I wonder about the word vulnerability.

When I explored it last week, I found that I feel vulnerable sometimes when I am caught up in a belief/fear. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary says “vulnerable – that can be hurt, harmed or attacked easily, esp because of being small or weak”. That’s how I sometimes feel when I am caught up in beliefs.

For me, what Katie refers to seems to be receptivity. I am not a native English speaker so that may explain my confusion.

Anyone has any reflections on this?

The word vulnerability can of course be understood in different ways. Katie, in her quote, may have used it to point to an experience of vulnerability when (a) certain beliefs (wounds, fears) are triggered in us and (b) we still stay relatively open and receptive, and that’s a helpful way of using the word.

At the same time, at least in my experience, it seems that vulnerability points to certain beliefs I have, beliefs that creates an experience of vulnerability, and this may also be a helpful way to look at it. When I feel vulnerable, what do I fear may happen?

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“I know it’s not true” as a guardian

 

The thought I know it’s not true is one of the guardians of the treasure.

I find a thought behind fear or unease, and then another – I know it’s not true, and that’s one of the guardians of the treasure. If I believe it, I may stop myself from inquire into the initial belief and find the treasure there. And it in itself is a thought to inquire into it.

My mother doesn’t love me. Is it true, I know it’s not true? I can find situations in my childhood where I imagine/remember having had that thought, so I don’t know, through and through, it’s not true.  I may know it’s not true, at a certain level, and yet, a part of me may not know it yet. I can find situations where I don’t feel it, see it, through and through.

Why would I stop myself from finding the gifts in examining that thought in each of those situations?

What can be trained: previous blind spots in mainstream western culture

 

Mainstream western culture has had some blind spots about what can be trained and what cannot, and that’s already changing.

For instance, from spiritual traditions from around the world, including western ones, we know that we can train (a) a stable attention (supports almost any activity), (b) empathy and an open heart (tonglen, prayer, ho’o), (c) opening to the experience that’s here (inquiry, true meditation, tonglen, prayer, ho’o), (d) what we are recognizing itself (true meditation, inquiry, prayer), and (e) that we can inquire into our most basic assumptions and find what’s more true for us. Many newer versions of these practices are also available now, including headless experiments and the Big Mind process (what we are noticing itself), and The Work (inquiry into our beliefs, including our most basic assumptions).

And some traditions also shows us that we can train more “mundane” things such as our eyes and sight (sometimes recover from or prevent eye problems), our body so it has a good chance of staying supple and healthy throughout life (yoga, tai chi, Breema), and even our ability to notice and support a flow of subtle energy in and around our body for ourselves (chi gong) and sometimes others.

This is a training and a practice, although it’s equally much an exploration and investigation. What happens when I engage in these activities?

Like and love

 

There is a big difference between like and love, and perhaps also not such a difference.

Love

With love, I can (a) develop or find love for anyone/thing, and (b) notice it’s already loved, it’s already love. The first may happen through prayer, tonglen, ho’o and other practices. The second may happen through any of the previous ones, and also inquiry. And I don’t really “develop” love, of course. I may invite in a feeling or state of love, which comes and goes as a guest as any other feelings and states, and that may be very helpful. It may even be helpful in noticing that I am and everyone/thing already is love. In my experience, beliefs is what stops me from noticing my love for everyone/thing, and noticing I and it all is already love. So inquiry is a good tool to invite beliefs to unravel, revealing all as already love. This is a love that’s not a feeling, not a state, although recognizing it can – in a sense – be called a state, a state of recognition.

Like

In terms of liking, I may (a) initially like someone or not, (b) then like the person because I find love, and (c) still want or not want to spend time with that person, and like or not in that sense. Initially, I like someone, something or a situation, or not, and that may come (partly, mostly?) from personality and/or beliefs. Then, as I develop or find love for him/her/it, I like because of that love. And if it’s a person, I notice I still am free to be with that person or not, and like or not in that sense.

He/she/it

When I write someone/thing or he/she/it here, it’s because the “object” is just about anything in the world. It can be a person. An emotion, pain, memory, wound. A thought, including my images of the world, others, and myself. A situation. Taking a thought as true. Or anything else.

Summary

So I can be oblivious to my love for someone. I can develop love for that person, including through different practices. I can notice my love that’s already here, and that the person and I already are love.

I may initially like that person or not. I may then like the person because of finding my love for him or her. And I will still chose to spend time with that person, or not, and in that sense like him or her, or not.

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From life/God to father, mother

 

I did an inquiry on God earlier today, and noticed images of myself as child, having the same thoughts/fears about my father and/or mother.

My relationship with God cannot be repaired –> My relationship with my father cannot be repaired, won’t be the same. (After I or he was upset.)

It’s a reminder that when I do inquiry on life or God, it may be helpful to see if I remember having the same thoughts about my parents, and perhaps take that to inquiry later.

And the other way around, I may have thoughts about my parents that I also put on life, reality or God, and it’s good to look at that as well.

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Get a load off my chest: Body-related metaphors and inquiry

 

Metaphors are images in my mind, and they can be taken as true or not.

To the extent they are taken as true, they influence my view, feelings and life. I perceive, feel and live as if it’s true.

And that’s true for body-related metaphors as well.

I have a weight on my shoulders. Cotton in my head. Butterflies in the stomach. It was as getting a knife in the stomach. I want to get a load off my chest. I feel lighter. A weight lifted from me. 

An experiment

This morning, I noticed my mind felt a bit slow, and was reminded of the cotton in my head metaphor. As an experiment, I labeled it cotton in my head and intentionally solidified the experience. How would it be if I take the story of cotton in my head as true and real?

I noticed the sensations that made up the experience, and then the image that went with it. The feeling of cotton in my head seems entirely made up of (a) certain sensations in my head area, especially a slight pressure/tension at the temples and forehead, and (b) an image of wooliness or cotton in and a bit around the head. Outside of that, I cannot find it. It’s quite funny, in a way, how it’s only sensations and an image that create the experience.

I have explored this before, with this and other body-related labels, so cotton in my head doesn’t feel real or solid anymore, even when I don’t intentionally investigate it this way.

Before investigating, the experience of cotton in my head and other labels – including the more basic ones of pain, hunger, dizziness and so on – seem quite real and solid. I have stories of what it means, and tend to take these as true as well. When these metaphors and labels are investigated – perhaps several times and over time – they don’t seem so real, true or solid anymore. It’s clear that it’s made up of a set of sensations, and – if it even comes up – a label. The label may come up only when it seems helpful, for instance in conversation. And even then, it’s not taken as true.

With this, the stories of what it means tends to fall away as well. And it can also be helpful and interesting to investigate these. I have cotton in my head, and that means…. (I won’t function as well, I will have to avoid mental tasks). I have cotton in my head, because…. (I have cf, I didn’t sleep well). 

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Taking TA examples to inquiry

 

When I find turnaround examples – why the turnaround is as or more true than the initial statement – I sometimes take them to inquiry later on.

Sometimes, examples seem simple, real and genuine. Other times, I have a sense they come from (stressful) assumptions and beliefs.

And it doesn’t really matter. Either way, these are thoughts it can be interesting and helpful to investigate further.

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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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Putting thoughts on paper

 

Often, the best advice is what we already know: It helps to put thoughts down on paper.

When I am caught up in stressful or churning thoughts, it helps to write them down. And when I experience a sense of unease or distress, it helps to identify the fearful and stressful thoughts behind it and write these down. Identifying the fearful thoughts behind unease brings what was nebulous into focus. Some stressful thoughts may appear a bit silly when put on paper, and the edge is taken off them. Writing stressful thoughts down relieves the mind from thinking it has to keep rehearsing and churning on them. And now that these thoughts are on paper, I can take them to inquiry.

It’s similar with insights. When I don’t write them down, the mind sometimes tells itself it needs to rehearse and remember them. When I write them down, the mind is more free to move on. (Of course, if I believe it’s an insight, it’s important etc., the mind will still stay somewhat glued to it.)

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The Work & the Law of Attraction

 

I have probably written about this earlier, and thought it would be interesting to look at this again.

What are some of the differences and similarities between The Work and the Law of Attraction (LoA)?

Basic assumptions: Operating on them vs questioning them

The most clear difference is that the LoA may – at least for some – rest on some unquestioned assumptions, such as I need X  to be happy where X may be anything – money, nice house, nice car, a good job, a good relationship. In contrast, The Work invites us to question any and all assumptions, including our most basic ones. What’s more true for me than my initial assumptions?

And while the diagnosis in the two approaches is similar, the remedy is quite different.

Diagnosis: Beliefs 

Both points to our beliefs as a cause of our suffering. In the case of LoA, limiting beliefs (as if not any belief is limiting) prevents us from having what would make us more happy. In the case of The Work, I also get to see how I limit my life through beliefs, and how beliefs in themselves create suffering. I get to see that when I take a thought as true, I see, feel and live as if it’s true. It may, to some extent, become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For instance, if I believe I am unlovable I am less open to see or receive love from myself or others.

Remedy: Visualization vs clarity

The remedy in the Law of Attraction is, as far as I understand,  visualizations and perhaps affirmations. These may, to some extent, override my beliefs. And if the beliefs are still here, unquestioned and unexamined, they will still operate in my life.

In contrast, The Work helps me find clarity on my thoughts and live from that clarity. As I find more clarity around a thought I previously took as true, I see and live with more receptivity, and live with more kindness towards myself and others. When I find clarity on the thought I am unlovable, I notice and am receptive to my own and others love for me (and mine for others). And the same goes for thoughts around money, work and anything else in life.

Summary

So where I may use LoA from my basic assumptions about the world and what would make me happy, The Work invites me to question these assumptions and find what’s more true for me. And where both have a similar diagnosis, the remedy is quite different. For LoA, it’s visualizations overriding beliefs. In The Work, it’s finding clarity on these thoughts through investigation, and living from this clarity.

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Offering an alternative view to others

 

A friend of mine has the view that if someone beliefs something – perhaps especially about themselves, it doesn’t matter what she says since that person will continue believing it anyway. There is no point in her sharing her experience, how she sees that person, or how she feels.

I see how it’s true. We all have to find it for ourselves. As Byron Katie pointed out at The School last summer, it can even be a sleeping pillow, a temporary comfort, and it may not touch the underlying belief. That’s certainly true in the context of an event about The Work, and when the person has inquiry. (A woman shared her belief that she wasn’t good looking, and a man said she was beautiful to him.)

And yet, the opposite has truth to it as well.

If a belief surfaces for me, and a friend offers an alternative view from the heart, it opens a door. It inspires me to question my own belief and find what’s more true for me.

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Doing The Work on I statements

 

Byron Katie recommends not doing The Work on I statements, at least in the beginning.

Why is that? I find a few different reasons for myself.

Allowing thoughts more free reign

Doing inquiry on mother, father, brother, sister etc. is really inquiry on myself, and I may be more free in these inquiries since they at first appears to be about someone else. I allow my thoughts more free and uncensored rein, so I get to see what’s there.

Fears of what others may think, say or do

I also find that my I statements often are really about my fears of what others may think, say or do.

I have the thought that I should have more energy and it may be interesting and helpful to look at that thought.

And yet, if I was alone in the whole world, would I still have that thought? No, it seems I would be perfectly happy not having more energy. The underlying thoughts are about what others may think about me. They may judge me for not having more energy. They may think I am lazy. They may not like me. They may reject me.

That’s more honest for me. If I was alone in the whole world, it would be fine if I didn’t have more energy right now. I may even enjoy it. It’s what I think others may think about me that creates the stress.

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Mini-inquiry: As a facilitator, I can’t do my own work

 

As a facilitator, I can’t do my own work.

TA: As a facilitator, I can do my own work.

Sometimes it just happens, it’s where the mind goes.

I can take guidance from the client: find how what the client says is true for me.

When there is silence, I have opportunity to explore it as my own inquiry.

I can make a note of my own beliefs (about facilitation, the client etc.) and inquire into these later.

Facilitating brings up beliefs in me, which I can take to inquiry.

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Attention released out of beliefs vs thoughts released from being taken as true

 

There is a big difference between (a) attention released out of beliefs, and (b) thoughts released from being taken as true.

Attention released out of beliefs

When attention goes away from a specific belief in everyday life, it may be briefly released out of beliefs in general, although it may also go directly into another belief. The first may happen when enjoying sensual pleasures (sun, swimming, yoga, food, touch, sex), music or while reading or watching a movie. The second tends to happen when we are caught up in hectic thinking.

Attention may also go out of beliefs in general during an opening or awakening experience, or through practices such as sitting (shikantaza), labeling, prayer, or even practicing a more stable attention. Here too, as long as certain thoughts are taken as true, attention will eventually go back into these beliefs.

Thoughts released from being taken as true

Thoughts can also be released from being taken as true, and this seems to require a more intentional and finely grained inquiry, for instance through The Work or sense field explorations.

By investigating a belief surfacing in a specific situation, I get to see and feel – through simple, clear and real examples – that the thought is not true. There is nowhere the thought “this thought is true” can stick. Just as taking a thought as true is lived in view, emotions, body and life, a thought released from being taken as true invites a reorganization at the level of view, emotions, body and life.

My own experience

During the initial opening or awakening in my teens, attention was released out of beliefs in general. All – without exception – was revealed as Spirit. And I have noticed the same happening during sitting.

I also see that attention sometimes still gets caught in beliefs, and even if thoughts are recognized as thoughts and not true, there is still an emotional charge around some of them. They are taken as true at an emotional or energetic level.

And that’s where a more intentional and finely grained inquiry seems helpful, and perhaps why I am drawn to it.

There is a big difference between attention (temporarily) releasing out of beliefs, and specific thoughts finding release from being taken as true.

Thorough with one person or topic

 

I find I am drawn to be thorough with one person or topic these days.

For instance, in The Work, I am drawn to do it thoroughly on thoughts on my mother. What are the earliest and/or strongest stressful situations that come to mind? What do I find when I do Judge Your Neighbor worksheets, and inquire into the thoughts?

And I am also drawn to explore certain topics – such as my health – using different approaches. I bring it to mind and invite neurogenic tremors (TRE). I do ho’o on it. I find stressful thoughts and take them to inquiry.

Emotional charge

 

I keep returning to this:

I often find I don’t believe a certain thought at a conscious level. I see it’s just a thought. I see the turnarounds and can find genuine examples for how each is as or more true.

And yet, there is still an emotional charge around the thought. I may even live, to some extent, as if it’s true.

And that shows me there is something left.

It’s still believed at a certain level. It may still be held in place by underlying and unexamined beliefs.

And that’s where the simple directions are helpful:

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Guardian of the treasure

 

In fairy tales and mythology, there is often a guardian of the treasure.

It may be a dragon guarding a princess or gold and diamonds, or – in the case of Greek mythology – Cererbus guarding the gates of the underworld, preventing those who have crossed the river Styx from returning to the world of the living.

And I find this in my own life as well.

My treasure is what’s revealed when I (a) meet and befriend what I am experiencing now, and (b) inquiry into the stressful thought that’s here.

And the guardian is my fear of doing just that. My fear of looking at what’s here.

My fear of meeting and staying with what I am experiencing now – whether it’s discomfort, unease, pain, joy or fear itself. And my fear of identifying and investigating the stressful thought that’s here.

This guardian, this fear, is created by additional beliefs: It will be too much. It will open a Pandora’s box. Reality is unkind. Opening to it will be worse than avoiding it. Something terrible will happen if I open to my experience, inquire into my stressful thought.

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