Absolute & Relative

Listening to Byron Katie dialogues, and also talking with Jen about what we discover about inquiry, the relationship between the Absolute and the Relative comes up again – as usual with a different flavor.


The Absolute is the world as it appears when we realize selflessness. We see that all is God, in front of and behind the eyeballs. We realize that Existence is beyond and includes any and all polarities, including that of existence and nonexistence. We see that words split the world, and cannot describe existence as it is when selflessness is realized and there is no I and Other anymore.


The Relative is the world as it appears when there is the filter of I and Other, whether we believe in it or not. If we believe in it, there is suffering and confusion. If we have seen through it, there is only clarity and this filter becomes a useful tool for operating in the world as a human being.

Byron Katie and the Absolute

Following her awakening, Byron Katie, was quite clearly absorbed in the absolute, and the relative was swept off the map for a while. Then, she had to relearn how to function as a human being, how to come back to using the filter of I and Other, although now in a quite different context – that of selflessness.

Returning to the world

She did this (my story) out of compassion. She saw she could help people if she met them where they are at, which is operating from the filter of I and Other. She saw she could only communicate and function in the world of form if she herself used this filter, now only as a temporary tool. She did it out of compassion for others – to help them, and out of compassion for herself – so she could engage in the world of form.

She is using the filter of I and Other within the context of selflessness, and in knowing that there is really nobody to help – it is all God. All the play of God. Emptiness dancing.

Smaller scale example

I talked with Jen earlier today, and invited her to share her stressful (and other) stories about me. She hesitated as she sees so clearly how all of these stories are about her, not me. She is not capable to have any stories about me. She only sees the turnarounds.

This is quite beautiful. It comes from a clear realization. And it is quite accurate as well.

Yet, sharing her stories about me with me can also help me. It can be an act of compassion. It can help me see my own stories about myself – and her as well. It can help me see my own stories and inquire into them for myself. And this is true whether my stories are similar to hers, or triggered by and in reaction to hers.

None of us are that different. We tend to have similar stories about ourselves and others. And within the same culture, we also tend to share stories about specific individuals, situations and topics. We tend to share our basic 1st generation labelling stories, and – in ethnic/political/value subgroups – share more elaborate 2nd generation interpretive stories as well.

Seeing an overweight person, we tend to think “unhealthy” and have either judgmental, defensive or compassionate stories around it. Seeing a young movie star, we tend to think “successful” and “beautiful” and either judge the cult of that image or ourselves for not measuring up, or both. Seeing Bush, we look at our stories about what he is doing and then elaborate into “liar” or “conservative hero”.

So Jen sharing her stories about me – with me – can be an act of compassion and a great help to me.

And it is a parallel to coming down from the mountain and into the marketplace. Coming from the Absolute and into the Relative, out of compassion for ourself and others.

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