I notice a belief in anything I write about here as being obvious… of not much interest to anyone, and not worth exploring or communicating to myself or others.
And it comes partly from this all being old news for me, for the most part nothing else than what was already alive in immediate awareness in my late teens. (As friends of mine from that time, who happen to see this blog, are quick to point out.)
So it is true. It is obvious to me, in one sense. And I am sure it is obvious to many others as well, especially those who are far beyond this and have explored this – and much more – in far more detail, and brought it into their own lives in a far more alive way.
Yet, the reverse is also true. It is not obvious. I still explore it and find it helpful to write about it, so it must not be completely obvious to me at all levels. At the very least, there is a deepening into it in my own life, in how I live. And also, it is (obviously!) not obvious to everybody. A quick look at what is happening in the world is enough to tell me that. It may be pretty obvious to those who have an interest in exploring it for themselves, and have done so for a little while, but not everybody have that interest, or have taken the time to explore it.
Here is an inquiry into that belief, which at least parts of me still hold onto as (absolutely) true.
Statement: It is obvious.
- Is it true?
Yes, it certainly feels true, sometimes.
- Can I absolutely know it is true?
No, I cannot know for sure that it is true.
What evidence do I have for it being obvious?
It feels obvious. Others sometimes tells me it is obvious. And I can always find others with the same insight.
How does that evidence prove that it is obvious?
It feels obvious… which is not really a good proof. I can feel lots of things which has not much relevance to anything. Others tells me it is obvious… which means it may be obvious to them, but maybe not to me or others. And I can find others with the same insight… but they are sometimes rare, so again it means that it is not necessarily obvious to me or others. (I can see the story unraveling already here.)
- What happens when I hold onto that belief?
I put down any insights that come up in myself. I don’t want to explore it further (it is obvious, so why explore it?), and see no reason to share it with others (it is obvious, so why talk about it?). This gives me a sense of having nothing to contribute, and nothing that could be of any interest or value to others. And this gives a sense of separation, of loneliness, of alienation from myself, others and the world. Which in turn brings hopelessness and apathy, of not wanting to engage with myself, other and the world.
I also put down insights coming up from others, and especially teachers and researchers. I see whatever comes out of academic psychology as pretty obvious, at least most of the time. And whatever comes out of the mouth of spiritual teachers as pretty obvious too, most of the time. Why do they even take time talking about it? This also bring up arrogance, of I already knowing it, or even knowing it better than them, which in turn brings that familiar sense of separation and alienation, of not belonging to particular groups or the world.
When did I first have that thought?
Probably when I said something as a kid, and my brother, who is nine years older than me, and his friends told me it was obvious (seems that it was a pattern, as far as I can remember). I may have taken on that belief to get ahead of him, putting myself down before they could do it.
How do I treat others when I have that belief?
I either put what they say down as already obvious, or don’t say much because I think whatever I have to say will be obvious. I isolate myself both ways.
How do I treat myself when I have that belief?
I put myself down as somebody who has nothing to share, and nothing that others may find interesting or useful.
How have I lived my life because of that belief?
I have not shared much with people around me, and especially not in any more intentional way. I turn down opportunities to share with groups. I left psychology partly because anything coming out of academic research seemed pretty obvious (apart from in its details, sometimes), and also because I felt I didn’t have much to contribute beyond the obvious. I don’t develop my abilities or insights as much as I could, because it seems that not much beyond the obvious – and what others already do – comes out of it.
Where do I experience it in my body?
As a dullness and heaviness in the chest, and a coldness and weakness in the limbs.
What do I get from holding onto that belief?
I get to be right, to be smart and insightful enough to see things as already obvious. I feel separation with myself, others and the world, and some apathy and hopelessness. And I experience frustration because I want to move ahead more freely, yet hold myself back because whatever comes up and out is already obvious (and of no interest to anyone).
- Who would I be without that belief?
I would more freely explore and express whatever comes up, for my own sake… If there is an impulse to explore or express it, I would do it, just because of that impulse. Whether it seems obvious to myself or others is not important or relevant. And I can more easily see that anything appearing obvious is only a story. It comes from a belief, a creation of I and Other, and a resistance to life as it unfolds on its own.
(a) It is not obvious
Yes, I can see how “obvious” is only a creation of a story. Nothing is inherently obvious or not obvious. There has to be an arbitrary boundary for something to appear as one or the other. Also, with a fresh and curious mind, nothing is obvious, even in a conventional sense. It can always be experienced as fresh and new, and explored further and in fresh ways. And finally, in a conventional sense, nothing is obvious to everyone. There is always someone who will be surprised by a particular insight or view, and even find it helpful and useful. Even that possibility makes it worthwhile sharing.
(b) It is obscure.
Yes, any insight is obscure before it is alive in immediate awareness. And if there is an interest there, it means that it is not quite clear yet. There is more to explore. (So if there is an interest there, I can explore it for my own sake, independent of whether my thoughts tell me it is obvious, or others tell me it is obvious to them. An interest or excitement about something is in itself enough reason to explore it, because it means there is something there not obvious to me.)
(c) My thinking is obvious.
Yes, that is certainly true! I can see that everything coming out of that initial belief is pretty predictable. It is just what happens when we hold onto that belief as true (colored somewhat by the context of other beliefs). This helps me see how it is not personal. Everything I have explored here is an inevitable outcome of holding onto that particular belief.
(d) My thinking is not obvious.
True as well. It is not obvious, until it is investigated. When it is unexamined, it seems mysterious and obscure, and influences my life in innumerable ways I am not even aware of.